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“Office Space” and “I, Robot” Collide in Ferrier & Ramon’s “D4VE”

by  in Comic News Comment
“Office Space” and “I, Robot” Collide in Ferrier & Ramon’s “D4VE”

What happens to the robots of Earth once they’ve killed all the humans? They just go back to their desk jobs, naturally.

At least, that’s what writer Ryan Ferrier expects will happen. In his new miniseries “D4VE,” featuring art by Valentin Ramon, the titular robot finds himself in a state of depression as he wastes away at a boring desk job — until his former life as a military leader puts him in danger once again, that is.

While “D4VE” is very much a sci-fi comic with a significant tinge of humor, its tale of a blue-collar robot is actually based on writer Ferrier’s real quarter-life crisis. In speaking with CBR News about the ways in which the robo-comic mirrors his life’s events, Ferrier also explained how the digital Monkeybrain Comics series wound up at IDW Publishing for its print edition, and how he believes today’s YouTube comments will dramatically shape the languages of tomorrow.

CBR News: Ryan, “D4VE” tells the (unfortunately relatable) tale of a robot stuck in a dead end job, but there’s obviously more to it than that. When you dig below the surface a bit, what is the series about?

Ryan Ferrier: At it’s core, “D4VE” is about digging yourself out of the worst possible rut you could imagine — it just so happens to focus on the life of a robot. Set in the future, where robots have taken over the Earth and eliminated all life in the galaxy, they fall into the same uninspired mediocrity that affects us humans. D4VE was the leader of the robot army, but now wastes away at a boring desk job. At the peak of his mid-life crisis, everything falls apart, and D4VE finds himself having to take a leap of faith and re-live his glory days. Not just for the sake of the planet, but for every aspect in his life. “D4VE” very much runs the gamut of emotions and challenges that we all face, but also the fantasies and the catharsis.

What inspired “D4VE?” Have you spent any time in, as you put it, a “soul-sucking day job” yourself?

Oh, indeed I have. That’s certainly a huge part of what made this book happen, and also what connected Valentin and I so well. We’re both really similar in that we’ve had our share of feeling unfulfilled. “D4VE” came around at a very transformative period in my life, and that was the groundwork for the series. When Valentin and I began work, we both really informed each other with our style, our work, our personalities. We’ve both endured the tortures of “D4VE,” and they are profound and awful. But at the same time, we got to work on this book together that we’re so proud of.

While I won’t disclose the name of the job, I will say that it was a decade ago. Admittedly, my perspective may have been skewed as I was in my early 20s, and I was the youngest human in the building by 10 years, I’m sure. So I wasn’t necessarily going into it in the clearest headspace. It was too much for me, and I didn’t want the job, but at the time I was like, “Aw yeah, lots of money,” and before long the reality of the atmosphere sunk in. You can’t send a young punk like me, fresh out of animation school, into a white-shirt-and-tie-boys-club work environment — it’s a powder keg. But, instead of me acting out and getting fired or quitting, I stuck it out for “the man” and ended up falling into a massive depression. I was young, sure, but I felt the very things D4VE feels, and I’m sure countless others still do. But man, it was bad. Just a right funk to be in. The silver lining there being that it pretty much steered me on the course I’m on now. I’ve had other “day jobs” since then, but they’ve all been in a (reasonably) creative industry. I’ll never, ever go back to that mindless office space again though, I’ll tell you what. Not that there’s anything wrong with it — I’m sure it works for lots of folks — it just really ain’t for me.

So you went through a bit of a quarter-life crisis.

Yep! I like to think this is all one big crisis with peaks and valleys, but that’s the cynic in me. I’m still figuring it out, but I genuinely don’t think we ever should, really. Keeps us hungry. Like I mentioned earlier though, “D4VE” came directly out of that kind of crisis. I’ll spare you the sit-in-your-car-crying-at-work details though. “D4VE” is really funny, I swear! Totally not all doom and gloom, no way. 

On a lighter, grammatical note, why spell “D4VE” with the 4 instead of an A?

As you’ll find reading the series, the robots of 34RTH are very — expressive. They’re this robot race that have been informed of language and communication at the height of our Internet age. A fair amount of their language has distinct roots in YouTube comments and message board posts.

It’s quite literally the robots absorbing all this massive amounts of communication and information on how we communicate with each other right now — or rather, over the next hundred years or so. Twitter, YouTube, online forums, tumblr — basically the robots adapt that lingo as The Language. They’re basically like, “Oh, look, that’s how humans talk,” so that’s how they talk. It’s like they were taught English by a 16 year old with a smartphone. Someone sent me a copy of “D4VE” that they translated into Spanish, and I’m really curious as to how those nuances made it through. I bet you it was, like, 1000 times more eloquent.

“D4VE” started life as a digital-only release from Monkeybrain Comics. How did that initial release go and why go for a print release now with IDW?

I like to think it was a success! People really seem to dig it and connect with it, and to me, that’s the icing on the cake. Valentin and I put our blood, sweat, heart, soul, tears, and various other fluids into making this story the way we wanted to. We always intended to bring it to print in the form of a collection, and we were lucky to have the support and interest of IDW — when they made the move to release “D4VE” in single issues, our heads exploded, because that’s just really freaking great. We’re really excited about potentially reaching a new audience, and couldn’t be happier.

Will you be adding any new material for the IDW edition of “D4VE?”

Definitely. Valentin and I are cooking up some special new materials just for the print release. Every issue’s going to have some cool backmatter, including pin-ups, new artwork and other things that shall be seen on release. 

And what does the future hold for the “D4VE” property?

That’s a great question. I think “D4VE” (the character and the series) has a very specific story. Early on, we decided it was a finite story, but we fell in love with these characters and building this world, so much that we would love to tell his story further. There may be a story.

Finally, in the future do you really think humans and robots could live peacefully together, or would we really all get wiped out?

Oh, dude. No. Just no. If — no, when — the robots take over, we are all completely and entirely done for. I’ll be the first cat to submit to our new robotic overlords, no doubt.

“D4VE” #1 (of 5) by writer Ryan Ferrier and artist Valentin Ramon is available now from IDW Publishing.

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