I’m going to break the objective editorial fourth wall here and flat out admit something to you, dear readers: Ryan Ferrier is one of my favorites. From his smartly written comics, his great hand at lettering or just his general affable persona, Ferrier is a good comics person. And as such, we’ve had a great time chronicling his work in comics, from self-published books like “Brothers James” with Michael Walsh and Brian Level to his recent hit at Monkeybrain D4VE” with Valentin Ramon. Ferrier makes good comics and we love talking about his comics here at the site.
But, in addition to good comics, Ferrier has a very enviable head of hair. It came up in our Five Questions at ECCC special and sometimes we just talk about it in general, but Ferrier has mastered the art of the pompadour in a way that makes those of us who can only grow hair on the lower half of the face jealous.
As such, in honor of our fifth anniversary, we sat down with Ryan to talk all about his hair — how he came to have a pompadour, how he maintains it, who else rocks the pompadour game in comics and more.
Oh, and comics. We talk about his comics too.
(But mostly the hair. Seriously.)
Ryan, how did you end up with such a gorgeous head of hair?
I thank you for the compliment, but honestly, for every compliment I receive, there’s something about it that I don’t like. My hair’s kinda thick and unruly and has weird cowlicks; but I suppose I have my parents and genetics to thank for it. It’s the Scottish blood in me. Also, I’m just a hairy dude. Sorry if that’s TMI. I’m like a werewolf that takes a week to transform and at the end of it I look like Robin Williams.
Matt, how did you get such a gorgeous beard? There’s no way that brute came from doing nothing.
That is literally exactly how it came about: I did nothing. I sat and allowed it to descend; while it took over my body I did nothing but simply give it the time and room it needed to grow, and grow, and grow, and grow.
But I also do nothing to make my hair “public ready”, so to say. I simply go outside and let it take in the world around it. You, on the other hand, seem like a very well-groomed man, someone who actually cares about the way the hair on and around his head looks. So tell me, how did you come about with your particularly grooming techniques? Where did you learn the Art of the Groom?
So what you’re saying is, soon it will encompass your entire body–not unlike Jordy Verrill in Creepshow? Am I even talking to Matt right now, or is this the beard…
I’d also like to point out that I read that as “pubic ready” and was about to pull the breaks on this interview. I’m glad we’re keeping this professional. I feel like your beard is an ambassador. It takes in its surroundings au naturale, and emits it back to us. It’s what makes you so magnetic. I never really gave a shit growing up about how I looked. But, like, as a kid, why would you? Truth be told, I grew up with an awful self-esteem from being bullied pretty mercilessly. So I’ve always been hyper-aware–not necessarily in a good way–of my appearance. I think hair is one of the few things on your body that you can control pretty easily. When I was about 26 I grew my hair really long, like shoulder length, because I’m actually really freaking metal in person–more metal than your ma’s kettle, I like to say–and then just chopped it off one day and the pompadour’s just kind of stuck. It’s actually kind of funny–the pomp is pretty popular now, but 6 years ago it really wasn’t, and if you googled “pompadour” my picture was the first to come up on google. I was pretty proud of that. But now they’re everywhere.
As for the art of the groom, I just did it myself. aside from the head hair, I’m actually not that well groomed. I maybe shave once every few weeks, and I never ever never take it to the skin. I look like a baby if I do that. Literally a baby. I’ll shave and then there will be a baby Ryan sitting in a mound of clippings.Continued below
I really hope you have a photo of baby Ryan with a pompadour for this article, by the way. Or at least have some time to spend in Photoshop.
So do you mean to tell me that your look, the Ryan Ferrier Signature Pompadour, is actually all an accident? Because if so, I mean, that’s pretty controversial.
Or we take it a step further and photoshop an Elvis wig onto a sperm.
It wasn’t so much accidental as it was me saying “cool, I want to look like that,” and then just trying it out. When I first did id I was spending an hour in front of the miror every day, just stressing about it. I became that “dont touch my hair!” guy. But that’s so not cool. I mean, I’m miles away from what’s cool, but I figure it’s probably cooler to commit to a look but then just riding it out with the elements. Maybe. I probably have no idea what I’m talking about.
May I ask, Matt, how long you’ve been growing that luscious beard for, and how long do you intend to allow it to siphon your precious nutrients?
I’m actually not sure anymore how long it has been. I believe, though I can’t confirm, that it has been two years. The problem is that I’ve always had a beard of various lengths; it’s so rare that I’m clean-shaven. So when I started growing what is the current facial monstrosity that I have, it wasn’t a conscious effort — it was just that one day I stopped even thinking of trimming, and before long it became intrinsic to my identity.
But, that offers a nice segue to a point I do want to mention: I think a lot of people identify you by your glorious head of hair, and I think you’d probably agree with that statement, right? Heck, in our ECCC video, Scott Kowalchuk said that he wanted to be roommates with you so you could teach him the secrets of your hair. How does that sort of thing make you feel? You’re a comic writer and letterer and you’re a human being too, but do you feel like the hair is overwhelming at all?
Well whatever you’re doing, Matt, it’s working. Don’t you ever change.
I think, honestly, I just have a real tough time with compliments and attention. I get all weird and shy and tummy-tickly. 9 out of 10 times if someone says something nice about me, I’ll probably react with a “noooo, no way, I look like a frog that was forced to walk upright,” or “psh, I look like a pair of pantyhose stuffed with a barrel of monkeys.” But that’s not cool. That’s rude, and I should be better at saying thank you and accepting compliments. At the same time, it feels pretty good too. Who doesn’t like hearing something nice about them. If my hair’s the physical trait that makes me even only slightly memorable or identifiable, I’ll damn well take it.
My hair does still frustrate me, daily. I’m way too self-aware of it. I had to stop carrying a comb with me because I was constantly fixing it. I think maybe I should be on one of those strange addictions TLC shows.
At the same time, though, I can literally imagine you carrying a comb, running it through your hair, spotting yourself in the mirror and throwing up some thumbs and letting out on “ayyyy!” Also I imagine you fixing jukeboxes by hitting them.
So lets get into the meet of this, what the people want to know. Ryan: for all the people who want to look as good as you do, what are your tips?
I’m Canadian, so it’s more like “ehhhh!” god that was lame, I’m so sorry.
Well gosh. My tips for doing the hair, huh? Firstly, I think it’s important to wash your hair, with shampoo, at least a couple times a week. Let’s get real here, you don’t need to shampoo your hair every dang day. Shower? Gimme a hell yeah. But shampoo 2-3 times. I don’t know if it’s weird or gross, but I don’t often use conditioner, as it makes my hair floppy and limp, which is no good for a pomp.Continued below
Second, a blow dryer is your friend. 80% of styling comes from the blow dryer, unless you’re rocking the KoRn braids. So blow dry that thing and use a dang brush while you do it.
Thricely, a water-soluble pomade works best for styling. A lot of people swear by the classic pomp lube like Murray’s or Royal Crown (which I believe was Elvis’ pomade of choice), but that stuff doesn’t come out. I’m not even kidding. It’s a nightmare. You just wake up and run a comb through the sludge and shape it and it’s pretty gnarly. You can get the exact same results from water-soluble products that was out in the shower. I swear by Layrite pomade, but Suavecito it just as good and a little cheaper. Important: buy a good comb. Don’t use those crappy dollar combs you get at the drug store, they suck and the teeth move around a lot and they’ll mess up your ‘do.
Lastly, for styling, I guess it depends on what you want to do with it. I wear a side-part now, but the mechanics of a pompadour are pretty much the same. Apply pomade in stages, slick back the top and sides, lift comb straight up at the front, while pushing the middle of your hair forward to create a wedge. Then it’s all about finesse, really. Slicking the sides back and slightly up to compliment the quiff. If I could give one piece of advice though, it would be go easy on the pomade–go little by little–and keep your hand and wrist loose. If you get into the precision game, you can only lose.
Just go to a good barber and ask for a high or low-and-tight; a decent pomp should have the top of your hair one to one and a half inches or more below your eyebrows, getting shorter as it reaches your crown. And don’t forget to shave your neck twice a week.
And what would you say to people who may not have the same hair as you, who may dream of having the pomp but are unsure as to whether or not they’ll be able to follow their dreams?
I think…look, it comes down to one thing: do what you do to make you feel good, and fuck what everyone else thinks, or how you think they think you should look. We live in a weird, weird time of scrutiny and pressure and expectation–we have for decades–and it’s all hogwash, man. My pomp is someone else’s shaved head. Or someone else’s beard. Or someone else’s lipstick. Or someone else’s whatever. I generally pick what I wear and how I look because it’s really freaking hard not to hate yourself most of the time, and it’s one thing I can sort of control. But it’s not guided by some demand or expectation. Or maybe it is? None of it really matters if you feel a little better while you’re doing it. No one can touch you if you do something and just fucking own it, you know?
Also, I can’t let this interview continue without saying that Dylan Todd and Robert Wilson IV both have some serious hair game, and I concede to those cats. Oh, and also Tony Moore. He has a mean pomp. Funny story actually. A while back at a con–I’m not sure if it was Cincinnati, Calgary or Seattle– I was walking past Tony Moore’s table. I’ve only met Tony a couple times, and he’s a really, really awesome dude, but I’m not sure if he remembers me. Anyways, he and I have a very similar look: pompadour, sideburns, plastic-framed glasses. His table had a huge lineup but as I passed there was a gap in the bodies, and he and I locked eyes. It was then I noticed–as I believe he did too–that not only did we look the same (the aforementioned details) but we happened to be dressed the same that day too (probably a flannel shirt or something). I paused briefly and we both nodded at each other. I like to think it’s because we acknowledged this; maybe it was just Tony being cool, as he always is, but I think it was the mutual nod of “lookin’ good, dude. Lookin’ good.”Continued below
I love that answer. That is a great, great answer.
Soooo, I would be remiss if I had you answering all my questions and I didn’t at least ask you SOMETHING about all these comics you are doing. So Ryan, how are all these comics that you’re doing going?
They’re going pretty dang well, Matt, thank you for asking. D4VE’s doing great, which is awesome, and the final issue of that, #5, is on its way shortly. I’m sad to see that one end, it seemed like just yesterday Valentin and I started. Vic Malhotra, Matt McCray, and myself are hard at work on the fourth, double-sized, issue of Tiger Lawyer. It’s going to be madness. I’m really happy to have Tiger one-pagers in the back of Shutter as well, thanks to Joe Keatinge and Leila Del Duca. I’ve also got The Brothers James #4 in production with my partner and Challenger Comics co-hort Brian Level. Aside from one or two things I can talk about yet, I’m also having a blast working and collaborating with some phenomenal artists and colorists on a couple of pitches that I hope will find a home somewhere. And then there’s the lettering…soooo much lettering right now.
You and I first became chums forever ago because of my unabashed love of your Challenger work, and man, I’ve been so thrilled to see D4VE take off at Monkeybrain and get you in the eyes of all new adoring fans. Aside from a whole new group of people who can also praise your hair like I do, how has it felt to get your books out to a wider audience? I’m hoping that the fans of D4VE have spilled back onto Challenger at least a bit?
Thank you so much, that means a lot! It feels really great and surreal honestly. As a writer–a fairly “new” one–there’s always that fear that one day the rug’s going to be pulled away from you and you’ll suddenly be revealed to be awful or something. So having people dig my work is amazing. I’m just happy anyone at all is interested. At the same time it pushes me to be better, to learn more, and to go bigger. I really hope it’s led to more people checking out all the creators involved in Challenger Comics, because I really think it’s special. Though I haven’t been able to commit enough time to it lately, it’s still something I’m really proud of, and there are some absolutely fantastic comics there from passionate, driven creators.
This is a bit of a boiler plate question, one I’m sure you’ve gotten a lot, but I think it still stands worth asking now: with D4VE ending, and this being your first “big” comic I guess (at least in terms that it is something you didn’t self-publish), what do you think it is that you’ve learned from the experience? What has D4VE taught you, in other words.
Oh jeez, this is tough. I think D4VE has helped me find my voice a little more. My style, my interests, and the kind of stories I want to tell. I really want to continue telling stories that are rooted in human feelings, stories that have a point and a message, other than just cool shit happening. It’s taught me the value in collaboration, in trusting your partners. It’s certainly taught me to be grateful and humble, but also to hustle; in comics, your work is never done, and nothing is owed nor are you entitled to anything. Really, D4VE has just confirmed once more that making comics is what I have to do, and what I love to do.
I’ve also learned that at 32, farts are still funny, and if you look hard enough you can see balls in anything.