Punk Rock Josie & the Pussycats

Part of being a writer in comics is pitching. Pitching, pitching, pitching. Sometimes that’s for your creator-owned stuff, sometimes it’s at the request of a publisher for a particular property, and sometimes it’s just a passion project that you pitch to a publisher that you have a relationship with.

In this instance, it’s the latter — my co-creator on CAPTAIN ULTIMATE, Ben Bailey, and I wrote a Sonic the Hedgehog back-up in 2014 for Archie Comics. After the success of AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE and an impending ARCHIE revamp on the horizon, we took it upon ourselves to craft a new take on what is, I think, the best Archie property: JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS.

So obviously nothing ever came of this — we tinkered with the idea of revising it into a creator-owned project, but in the time since we wrote this, “punk rock takes” on things have become all the rage and by the time our book would come out, it’ll most definitely be old hat.

So instead, we thought it’d be fun to just show off the pitch!

At the very least, you can enjoy this awesome playlist we made to accompany your reading.

JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS

Series Proposal by Benjamin Bailey and Joey Esposito

Fear and Loathing with Josie, Valerie, and Melody

josie1

ENHANCE YOUR PITCH-READING EXPERIENCE WITH SOUNDS OF FURY AT:

http://tinyurl.com/PunkRockJosie

GOAL

The goal of this series is to reanimate Josie and the Pussycats with the blood of punk rock in their veins. We intend to make this a character-driven road epic with a focus on the relationships of Josie, Valerie, and Melody — known collectively as The Pussycats — why they play together, why they need each other, and why they don’t give a f@#% about anything else.

We want to use our own experiences playing and touring in bands to bring authenticity to Josie’s world.

CONCEPT

The high concept of our series revolves around the way Josie sees the world. She sees people as they really are inside — monsters, thieves, con artists, abusers, etc. — sort of like Roddy Piper in They Live when he’s wearing those special sunglasses, except she can’t turn it off… unless she’s playing music.

Playing fast and furious is the only way to exorcise the demons she sees around her. The only two people in the world that she sees as “pure” are her bandmates and best friends, Valerie and Melody.

THEMES

We want to avoid typical “band story” tropes — no power trips or ego battles or quests for fame and fortune. This a story about the power of music, friendship, DIY attitudes, and how all of that holds you together when everything else in the world tears you down. We want to show that alienation doesn’t always come from the same place. More importantly, we want to use that idea to show that there’s always somewhere — in this case, punk rock – that you belong.

josie2MAIN CHARACTERS

JOSIE (guitar/vox) — Josie comes from a good home, but she’s tortured by the way she sees the world. The twisted images haunt her and she can only expel them through her music. It literally chases away the demons. She’s compassionate and empathetic, which intensifies the visions around her when she sees someone in need. She’s a true, raw talent when it comes to songwriting, like a Kurt Cobain or a John Lennon.

VALERIE (bass) — Valerie is the first “real” person Josie sees. They meet as youths and quickly bond over a love of punk rock. Valerie comes from a broken home and is often forced to protect her sisters from their father. She’s street tough, a bit of a hot head, and sees herself as a protector to the other Pussycats while they’re on the road.

MELODY (drums/vox) — After their first drummer didn’t work out, Josie and Valerie met Melody at a show and the trio quickly bonded. Melody grew up in a stifling conservative household and was sent to a camp for conversion therapy to “fix” her homosexual tendencies. Thanks to her friend Kevin at camp, she discovered punk rock and found her path. (“They kept saying I was confused, but they’re f%#*ing confused. I know exactly who I am.”) Because of this, she’s often the most level-headed member of the band.

PEPPER — Pepper is The Pussycats’ original drummer, but her jealousy of Josie’s talent as a songwriter and desire for fame quickly starts eating at her. Though they’ve been friends since elementary school, Josie begins to see the monsters emerging from Pepper as time wears on and ultimately decides to cut her from the band. Pepper leaves town and starts a new band of her own.

BRIGITTE REILLY — Punk rock royalty, front woman for The Whatevers, Brigitte is the earliest inspiration for the girls of The Pussycats. It was her music that led them to their instruments — and to each other — despite their varied backgrounds. The Whatevers have been broken up for decades, but Brigitte pulls the band back together for one more show when the NYC punk club that gave them their start is about to go out of business.

STORY

Josie, Valerie, and Melody learn that their punk rock idol, Brigitte Reilly, is reuniting The Whatevers for the first time in 20 years to play the final show at a famous New York City punk club that’s about to become the latest addition to a chain of restaurants. The Pussycats head out on the road, battling literal demons, family drama, psycho ex-bandmates, money problems, cops, and roadside oddities along the way. We have flashbacks to the band’s history — how they met, how they formed, how they discovered punk rock.

When they finally reach NYC, they wind up having to help some people and miss the show completely. They get there in time to catch Brigitte packing up her gear into her van and have a conversation, one that underscores the point of the entire series — the importance of music and how the only thing that matters is that you inspire others to carry the torch. We learn that Brigitte sees the world the same way Josie does. (“It doesn’t get better. But you play hard enough, you play fast enough, and you keep the demons at bay.”)

ISSUE BREAKDOWN

#1 – Escaping a town that never understood them, The Pussycats hit the road on a cross-country road trip. Through flashbacks we learn about the forces that drove them onto the road and what keeps them together. The issue opens with them running out of gas, pushing their van to the nearest one-exit town in the middle of nowhere and trying to figure out how they’re going to get gas money and make it to the next show. Fortunately, a raging punk rock house party provides the perfect impromptu gig and they scrape together enough cash to fill up the tank.

josie3#2 – After being pulled over in a small town, the van is impounded by the local sheriff. Stranded and desperate, the girls meet the locals and struggle to make a plan that’ll get them back on the road. Fortunately, one of the people they befriend is the young daughter of the sheriff. In her eyes, Josie and crew are the coolest ladies she’s ever met. In exchange for a record and t-shirt, she steals her dad’s keys and helps The Pussycats steal back their impounded van.

#3 – As all touring bands know, waiting for the show to start in some town you don’t know is the worst part of the job. The Pussycats have seven hours before their set, and they have nowhere to go and no money to spend, so they wait. They try to play some games, tell each other stories, and reminisce about the past, but time inconsiderably refuses to tick by. When you just want to live your life in furious downstrokes, waiting for the lights to lower and the feedback to kick in feels like an eternity.

#4 – When some do-gooder fans offer The Pussycats a place to crash after a show in a big city, they learn that these kids are about to be kicked out of their loft — along with every other tenant — due to their landlord selling the space to some lame new-age start-up. Eager to pay back the fans for their hospitality, they arrange a hardcore show for their last night in the loft, painting the building with piss, puke, and punk rock to welcome the landlord’s new tenants.

#5 – Every band has casualties. In The Pussycats it was Pepper, former drummer and best friend that was later replaced by Melody. As the gang arrives at their last gig before NYC, they find themselves on the bill opening for Pepper’s new band, forcing them to confront past drama. The Pussycats endure the most brutal show of their lives thanks to Pepper’s meddling, including thrown beer bottles, cigarettes, and unmentionables. They come out of it bruised and battered and smiling. Pepper tries to screw them out of their cut of the door, but the lone Pussycats fan in the crowd makes sure that doesn’t happen.

#6 – The girls stop for breakfast before heading into NYC for The Whatevers’ big show. They bump into the fan from the night before, Jeremy, and get caught up in a situation between a waitress and her abusive husband. The Pussycats get physically involved before Jeremy intervenes, revealing that he’s a cop. A nice cop, who knew?! Trouble is, the girls are now late for the show of a lifetime. By the time they arrive, the band has finished their set. The girls are crushed, but a chance chat with Brigitte as she packs up her gear leads Josie to the realization that all that matters is making music with her friends. When Valerie asks “What do we do now?” Josie turns and replies “The only thing we can do. We play.”

josie4POTENTIAL FUTURE STORIES

  • Pepper’s new band hits big and as result, there’s added attention on The Pussycats as “Pepper’s first band.” How do Josie and company deal with the new, unwanted attention?
  • The girls have to head back home so Valerie can deal with a situation between her father and her sisters. How does the band deal with a problem that can’t be solved with an eff-you attitude?
  • Melody’s parents show up at The Pussycats’ doorstep, needing some sort of help, and Melody has to confront her issues with them.

MARKETING & PROMOTIONAL IDEAS

  • A punk rock playlist for every issue, listed in the back-matter with a link to Spotify.
  • Posters in the DIY punk style to hang in comic shops or give away at conventions.
    • Alternatively, the covers could promote whatever “show” is featured in that issue.
  • Package an issue with a punk-style Pussycats sticker or jacket patch.
  • Reach out to music media to stretch into a new area of mainstream coverage.
  • Real band cameos in the book, signings/release parties at famous punk clubs.
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