Conversation with Johnny Ryan

Posted On September 20, 2006

Filed under Beat, Blogroll, poetry, review

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Johnny Ryan

Conversation with Johnny Ryan

Bio from his website: http://www.johnnyr.com/

Originally from the site http://www.the-beat.co.uk

John F. Ryan IV was born in Boston MA on November 30, 1970. As a child, he had a Prince Valiant hairdo, orthopedic shoes, and was occasionally chased with BB guns by neighborhood bullies. His teen years were spent doing homework and watching “Night Flight”. He studied English Literature at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he had no girlfriends to distract him from making the Dean’s List every year. The disgruntled, post-collegiate Johnny began drawing comics and sending them to his friends, who encouraged him to go legit with his badly scrawled (yet hilarious) artwork.

Over the next few years, he honed his craft in his self-published title Angry Youth Comix, which was picked up by Fantagraphics Books in 2000. There have been nine issues of AYC since, as well as two book collections (Portajohnny and What’re You Lookin’ At?!). AYC has earned multiple Ignatz, Harvey, and Eisner nominations in the years since. Johnny was also a guest of the Festival International des Bande Dessinee in Angouleme, France in 2002, where he presented Will Eisner with an award during opening night festivities and had artwork featured in the festival’s accompanying gallery show. His comics are published in Spain by La Cupula, and have been reprinted in Brazil as well.

Johnny is also the creator of a weekly comic strip, “Blecky Yuckerella”, which appears monthly in VICE magazine and weekly in The Portland Mercury (as well as online). A book collection by the same name was published in 2005.

Johnny’s unmistakable and hilarious drawings have appeared in MAD, LA Weekly, National Geographic Kids, Hustler, Cool & Strange Music, The Stranger, and elsewhere. His artwork appears in nearly every issue of Nickelodeon magazine, wherein he has also collaborated with acclaimed artist Dave Cooper under the pen name “Hector Mumbly”. The two also collaborated on a “Wonder Woman vs. Super Girl” story for the DC Comics anthology Bizarro. He also collaborated with Peter Bagge in both AYC and Bagge’s Hate Annual, in addition to penciling and inking two stories for his DC series Sweatshop. Johnny has also done work for clients such as Nobleworks greetings cards, Rhino Records, and FOX television.

Johnny currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife Jenny and their two cats, Kang and Kodos. In September 2005, he will be featured in Rolling Stone’s annual HOT LIST issue, to the bemused delight of all who know him.

Are you ever influenced with what’s going on in the news or do you tend to stick with whatever you feel like? 

Sure, sometimes. I did a story called “Islamic Terrorist Spring Break” that was inspired by 9-11. In fact, 9-11 makes several guest appearances in my comics.

How do you go from drawing for the National Geographic Kids and then Hustler? 

Actually, it was the other way around. Doing stuff for kids is pretty much the same as doing stuff for adults. I just have to exchange the sex and violence and profanity for boogers and pizza and Christmas.

Do you still think you’re the most under appreciated person in comic books today? 

I just think humor in general is pretty under appreciated in comic books today, not just me.

Totally random question: Favourite TV show: “Curb your Enthusiasm” or “24”? 

That’s tough! “24″ may be my favorite at the moment. I’ve been watching a lot of DEADWOOD lately, too. I love that show.

Any hints or tips for our budding indie comic artists? 

Get a real job!! Just kidding. I would say that if you want to be a comic artist you need to draw as much as possible, and put out as many comics as you can. That’s the best way to develop your skills and get people to notice you.

What is your ideal story, or rather, what makes a good story? 

Lots of big tits.

From the point of view of an indie comic creator, where do you see the comic book industry heading? 

I have no idea! I live in the NOW, man!!

Any new artists we should know about? 

I just guest edited the comics issue of VICE magazine and I put a few of my favorite new artists in there, like Sammy Harkham, Ted May, Dan Zettwoch, Vanessa Davis, Kaz Strzepek, etc…

If you were to fight any artist dead or alive who’d it be? 

You mean have a physical fight? Probably John Callahan. Kicking his ass seems like a sure thing.

So what’s next for the infamous Johnny Ryan? 

I have to work on a couple of jobs for Nickelodeon Magazine and MAD today. And later I’ll probably watch Judge Judy.

Thanks Sean!

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