BOOM!’s Unfortunately Named Series Curb Stomp

We previously ran the below when the series Curb Stomp was announced. With this week’s release we revisit why the name of this new series is so troubling. Obviously some statements are outdated, since the comic hits shelves this Wednesday. – The Management

2014 BOOM! LogoWe love BOOM! Studios, having named them the publisher of the year multiple times. They’re beyond progressive, not only giving a voice to many talented individuals who are the next generation of stars, but also launching series that are underrepresented in the comic market, and what exactly we need more of. That’s why their new series that was announced this morning on four sites gave us pause. Not because of its subject, but just due to its title, Curb Stomp.

The series is a “violent, bloody story” which focuses on an all-female gang called The Fever who are trying to protect their turf. The writer is Ryan Ferrier, the creator of D4VE by Monkeybrain, and art by Debaki Neogi, who gave us amazing visuals in Mumbai Confidential. The series will be out in February.

What none of those sites questioned, or even touched upon, was the series title. For those that don’t know a curb stomp is when you place someone’s mouth on a cement curb and then stomp on the back of their head. It’ll cause severe injuries, and some times death. What gives me pause isn’t the act, which is horrendous, but the history of the curb stomp.

The curb stomp is mostly associated with Nazis, who would use the tactic to murder Jews, using this tactic to save on bullets. It was also deployed by the Gestapo in the Ghettos to also murder Jews. In the 1940s and 50s, the same violent act was used by the KKK in their attacks on African-Americans.

Today’s neo-Nazis use the term “curbing” or “curb job” and is so prevalent the Southern Poverty Law Center has it as part of their list of terms used by today’s Skinheads. It’s an act associated with the most vile of vile out there, and to this day is used in numerous hate crimes. Two quick examples:

  • In 2003, Tacoma, Washington resident Randall Townsend was killed by two white power skinheads in a curb-stomping incident that has been described as a hate crime.
  • On August 26, 2011, Dane Hall was curb stomped in a homophobic attack outside a gay bar in Salt Lake City, Utah. He lost six teeth and suffered a broken jaw in multiple places as a result of the attack

Though the act is horrendous, it has been depicted in pop-culture numerous times with lack of sensitivity to its origins. In video games Gears of War, Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, and Resident Evil 5, players could all perform the act. The attack has been seen on the television shows Family Guy, and The Sopranos. But, the most well-known depiction is the movie American History X, which focuses on a neo-Nazi Skinhead played by Edward Norton, who curb stomps a would be African-American robber. The scene was so controversial, it has been pulled from some versions of the film.

You can watch the scene from American History X below, but a warning that it’s graphic.

While the comic series itself sounds like a modern-day version of The Warriors (a film itself with history of real world violence), hopefully BOOM! and the creators rethink the title before it hits shelves in a few months. We’ve reached out to BOOM! about the issue. (UPDATE: We’ve heard back from BOOM! and they weren’t aware of the historical context of the term, just the moves from video games).

Below are the four teaser images released: