Paul Ryan (cartoonist)

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Paul Ryan
Paulryan.png
Paul Ryan at That's Entertainment comic shop, Worcester, Massachusetts in 2006
Born (1949-09-23)September 23, 1949
Massachusetts
Died March 7, 2016(2016-03-07) (aged 66)
Nationality American
Area(s) Artist
Notable works
D.P. 7
Fantastic Four
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Phantom
www.secondstargraphics.com

Paul Ryan (September 23, 1949 – March 7, 2016) was an American comic artist. Ryan worked extensively for Marvel Comics and DC Comics on a number of super-hero comic book titles. He is best known for his 1991 to 1996 run on Fantastic Four, which represents his longest association with an individual comic book series. From 2005 until his death in 2016, Ryan penciled and inked the daily newspaper comic strip The Phantom for King Features Syndicate.[1]

Biography[edit]

Early years[edit]

Paul Ryan was born in Somerville, Massachusetts[2] in 1949.[3] He attended St. Polycarp Grammar School in Somerville, and graduated from St. Mary of the Annunciation High School in 1967. He graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art[4] in 1971 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Graphic Design.

After graduation Ryan enlisted in the United States National Guard and was assigned to Fort Dix, New Jersey for Basic Training and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) in automotive mechanics. He later attended Massachusetts Military Academy in Wakefield, Massachusetts for officer training. Ryan was a member of his National Guard pistol team, studied karate and fencing in his younger days, and at one time took up archery and weight training.[5]

As a young man, Ryan landed a job in the Graphics Department of Metcalf & Eddy Engineering in Boston, where he worked for 11 years.

First steps in comics[edit]

According to a 2007 interview, "Ryan began his training [for a career in comic art] as a child, growing up in Somerville. He'd park himself in front of the television each night to watch George Reeves in the Adventures of Superman."[6] He has said that as a young comics fan and aspiring artist in the Silver Age, he was influenced by the work of Wayne Boring and Curt Swan on Superman.[7] In 1961, Ryan became a big fan of the Fantastic Four of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, having "bought the first issue at the tender age of 11."[8] He has acknowledged that even as a youth he studied the work of Hal Foster, Sy Barry, Dan Barry, and Mac Raboy, adding "I'm pretty much influenced by anybody whose work I admire."[9]

In 1983, in response to a general "open audition" offer from Charlton Comics, Ryan was finally prompted to write and draw his first comics story, which he titled "BREED". Charlton had recently instituted a program whereby they would publish the best of the work submitted by aspiring comic book artists in Charlton Bullseye. Payment would be in the form of 50 contributor copies of the printed piece. The artist would then have published work to show Marvel Comics or DC Comics in the hopes of landing a job with the "Big Two." Charlton accepted Ryan's story, but the title was cancelled before "BREED" saw print.

The remaining stories from Bullseye ended up in the hands of Bill Black of Americomics in Florida, and Black published "BREED" in Starmasters #1 (March 1984).[10] This brought Ryan to the attention of comic book stores in the Boston area. When Marvel artist, Bob Layton, moved to Boston and needed an assistant, the employees at these stores recommended Paul Ryan to Layton. Ryan worked for Layton for a year doing his backgrounds, and through him met the editors and staff at Marvel. Layton is said to have played a vital role in Ryan's development, as he "basically showed him all the things he was doing wrong."[11] By this time Ryan, having taken a circuitous route toward a career in comic art, was in his middle 30s.[12]

Fantastic Four #358 (Nov. 1991), art by Paul Ryan

Marvel Comics[edit]

Soon, Ryan was getting assignments of his own, starting with inking The Thing #27 (Sept. 1985)[10] and then moving on to penciling Iron Man, Squadron Supreme, The Eternals, and a Thor graphic novel.[12]

In 1986, writer Mark Gruenwald and Ryan co-created D.P. 7 for Marvel's New Universe imprint.[13] Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool called D.P. 7 "a wonderful comic book, everything just seemed to gel together perfectly on that series, and on Quasar that followed it, and I was hooked. Paul had a classically clean style."[14] In 1987 he drew The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 which featured the wedding of Spider-Man (Peter Parker) and Mary Jane Watson.[15][16]

Ryan penciled the first six issues of Quasar in 1989-90,[17] and also worked on significant runs of Avengers, Avengers West Coast, Iron Man, and Ravage 2099 a character which he co-created with Stan Lee.[18] But Ryan would be most strongly associated with the Fantastic Four for his notably long run on Marvel's flagship title, trailing only Jack Kirby and John Byrne in total number of issues drawn.[4] Partnering with writer Tom DeFalco, his first issue was #356 (Sept. 1991) and his last #414 (July 1996). Ryan would complete eleven years of comic book art exclusivity with Marvel Comics.[12]

In 1992, concurrent with his other projects, Ryan took over the penciling on The Amazing Spider-Man Sunday comic strip written by Stan Lee, inked by Joe Sinnott, and distributed by King Features. He drew that feature for just over three years.[12]

DC Comics and after[edit]

In 1996, Ryan's run on Fantastic Four was ended by the Heroes Reborn event. Shortly after, Paul Ryan left Marvel to work for DC Comics where he became the artist on Superman: The Man of Tomorrow and The Flash.[10] That same year, he was one of the many creators who contributed to the Superman: The Wedding Album one-shot wherein the title character married Lois Lane.[19][20] Ryan drew part of the Superman Red/Superman Blue one-shot which launched the storyline of the same name which ran through the various Superman titles.[21] He penciled a Superman Annual and various Batman titles, as well as several fill-in assignments on other Superman titles.[12] With writers Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, Ryan introduced the Jakeem Thunder character in The Flash vol. 2 #134 (Feb. 1998).[22]

Paul Ryan and writer David Michelinie are the only comic book creators to have contributed to the wedding issues of both Spider-Man (Peter Parker marrying Mary Jane Watson in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21[15][16] and Superman (Clark Kent) marrying Lois Lane in Superman: The Wedding Album.[12][19][20]

Egmont's Fantomen (Phantom) cover art by Paul Ryan

He was a contributing artist on the NASCAR/Superman custom comic and on Celebrating the Century, a stamp collecting book which DC produced for the United States Postal Service.

Ryan briefly returned to Marvel in 1999, teaming with writer Tom DeFalco on the Fantastic Five. The turn of the Millennium found Ryan working with Wildstorm, penciling one of the Left Behind graphic novels, and working with Crossgen as a fill-in artist on such titles as Ruse and Crux. Crossgen's recruitment of Ryan and other notable talent led DC Comics to consider that upstart publisher a significant threat in the comic book market.[14] Ryan however soon became a regular contributor of covers and finished interior art to The Phantom or Fantomen comic books published by the Swedish company Egmont, a job which would position him well for his next major assignment.[12]

The Phantom comic strip[edit]

The Phantom comic strip began as a weekday newspaper strip on February 17, 1936, with a color Sunday strip added in May 1939. It was originally written by creator Lee Falk, and when Falk died in 1999, Tony DePaul took over the writing duties. Several artists have illustrated the character's comic strip adventures over the decades.

In 2005 then-current artist George Olesen announced his retirement. Jay Kennedy, editor-in-chief at King Features Syndicate, chose Paul Ryan to assume the artist's role on the daily strips, beginning with those published in January of that year. Then in October 2006 Graham Nolan, artist on The Phantom Sunday Strip, announced his intended departure from the series. Once again Kennedy called upon Ryan, who agreed to add the Sunday strip to his duties for King Features. His first Sunday appeared in newspapers on April 1, 2007. Ryan later wished to cut his workload and on July 31, 2011, Eduardo Barreto took over as artist for the Sunday strip. Following Barreto's sudden death in late 2011, Ryan returned to the Sunday feature briefly until a replacement, Terry Beatty, was found.

One of the many highlights of Ryan's time on The Phantom is the daily adventure that ran from August 24, 2009 until May 7, 2011. Sometimes called in its entirety "The Python Strikes Back," this epic storyline is considered the longest in duration of all The Phantom newspaper plots. The recurring villain of the tale, Chatu, a.k.a. the Python, is a terrorist who seeks revenge on his nemesis by striking at someone close to the Phantom. Frew Publications, known for publishing a long-running reprint series of The Phantom, presented the entire story in one 140-page comic book (issue number 1602).

Rich Johnston praised Ryan for his work on The Phantom: "Here it seems he has come into his own, a richer and more luxurious style that is less tempered by the effects of Marvel or DC editorial with a greater influence from Europe."[14]

Ryan's last Phantom strip was released on Saturday, May 28, 2016.

Working methods[edit]

When asked how long it takes to produce his daily comic strip, Ryan estimated "four hours to pencil a strip and three hours to ink it in, crafting lighting and shadows."[6] Ryan's art was characterized by a strong story-telling sense, careful attention to design and perspective, and solid knowledge of anatomy—on a strip that he at one time drew for publication 365 days a year.

The Phantom daily strip from 2006. Art by Paul Ryan.

On The Phantom, Ryan began with penciling only the line work. "I work out the lighting, shadows and texture in the inking stage. I go in with the brush first and hit all the shadows and large dark areas. This helps define the page. Then I go in with a finer brush or pen to add details, texture or contour lines."[9]

While Ryan kept reference books handy, he gave more credit to observation—and an artist's eye—for his knowledge of human anatomy as well as the structure of the world around us. "Whenever I'm in any situation, I'll constantly try to memorize things. I'll memorize a face, a room, and actually mentally outline everything." He also took particular notice of shadows.[6]

Drawings of the real people in his life, such as family and friends, appeared in his comics. He said that his eye was especially drawn to the character expressed in older faces. "You see so much history in the face. And that's something I try to bring into the work."[6]

Ryan confessed to having run around his neighborhood as a youngster with a makeshift Superman cape tied around his neck ("I got beat up a lot", he joked),[7] and his emotional identification with comic characters continued into his professional years: "I find that while I'm illustrating a story I become so focused that I feel as if I'm [actually] in the story, taking the part of each of the characters as I draw them," Ryan said.[6]

Paul Ryan meets Rex Trailer, at That's Entertainment in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, on 9/11/2011

Legacy, personal and professional[edit]

Ryan continued as the artist for The Phantom daily comic strips until his death at the age of 66. He died unexpectedly on March 7, 2016 at his home in Hudson, Massachusetts.[2] [23]

Tony DePaul, the writer of The Phantom, collaborated with Ryan on the strip for twelve years. He wrote of his last phone conversation with Ryan, who had called to make sure he interpreted a panel the way DePaul had intended in his script. DePaul lauded the ardent professionalism of his late partner, and stated that "Paul considered it a privilege to work on a classic character created by the great Lee Falk, in 1936. He and I thought exactly alike in that regard."

DePaul also wrote of their shared love for Montana, and of Ryan's love for horses. "Which may be why," DePaul suggested, "he was so good at drawing Hero, the Phantom’s trusty mount." DePaul posted photos of Ryan and his wife Linda Ryan enjoying a recent vacation at a ranch in Sweet Grass County, Montana.[24]

The administrator of The Phantom fan site Chronicle Chamber, marked his passing, and reminisced about meeting Ryan at the 2014 Supanova Con in Sydney, Australia, where he was the guest of honor at the Lee Falk Memorial Bengalla Explorer’s Club dinner: "My overwhelming memory of Paul was just how great a bloke he was. He listened to everyone who wanted to talk to him, he kindly signed all the stuff that was thrown at him and he was incredibly generous and honest in the tales he told about working on The Phantom. The highlight for me was watching Paul create some Phantom artwork live. It was amazing and something I’ll never forget."[25]

Writer Larry Hama, Ryan's friend and collaborator at both Marvel and DC Comics, praised him as "an impeccable draftsman, a solid visual storyteller, and really, really nice guy."

Hama continued, "I always knew that a plot I sent him would be drawn with a keen attention to detail, aspects of the story would be improved upon, and my mistakes would be corrected."[26]

Mark Evanier reminisced: "Some years ago, Paul and I were going to collaborate on a new comic book based on a leftover idea of Jack Kirby's. I was disappointed when the project fell through because I'd been looking forward to working with Paul. I knew from seeing his work he could draw well but when we got into discussions, I discovered what a smart, conscientious artist he was — the kind who not only produces fine work but understands what he's doing and why. What a shame to lose a good man like that."[27]

That's Entertainment manager Ken Carson noted the many store events at which Ryan had appeared over the span of twenty years, and reflected on his personality and wit: "He was a meticulous craftsman, but Paul enjoyed friendly banter as he sketched & signed for fans—and he had a mischievous sense of humor! He could say outlandish things with a straight face, but a sparkle in his eye would give him away."[28]

Brendan Burford (King Features general manager, syndication) eulogized the artist: "Paul had an illustrious career in comics that spanned decades, and we at King Features are so pleased that he was able to ply his craft to our beloved PHANTOM. He belongs right alongside the other greats who have drawn the Ghost Who Walks, and he will be missed."

The King Features announcement also included some details of his personal life: "In addition to his love of storytelling through his comics and his real true passion for being a cowboy, Ryan cherished spending time with his family and was fondly referred to as 'Uncle Paul.' His passion in life was his wife, Linda, and the treasured times they shared throughout their 28 years together in marriage."[11]

In the weeks after Ryan's death, Frew Publications declared The Phantom issue number 1748 to be a "Paul Ryan Tribute" issue. This issue was Frew's first comic book to have the interior printed in color. In addition to a full-length adventure drawn by Ryan, the issue contained photographs from his 2014 visit to Australia and several remembrances. Publisher Dudley Hogarth therein attributed the following quote to Ryan: "My heroes have always been men of action. Some of them wore a mask. Some rode a horse. Some had an animal companion. A few carried a gun. Fewer still operated from a secret cave. One hero, in particular, combined all of these elements and more. He was the Phantom! If someone had told me when I was ten years old, that I would one day be the Phantom strip artist, I would not have believed them. Those things happen to other people not to me. Life is good!"[29][30]

Mike Manley was named to succeed Ryan on The Phantom beginning with the strip dated May 30, 2016. Ryan was several weeks ahead on the strip at the time of his death.[31]

Manley wrote, "I met Paul only once that I remember clearly at a con many years back though we rubbed shoulders at Marvel on books like Quasar with me following him on that book when he left to do other books like The Avengers and The Fantastic Four. Paul left us all a great legacy to enjoy and be inspired by for the ages with his art for Marvel and his long run on the Phantom."

Manley also noted that he and Paul Ryan are listed in a small and notable group of artists who have professionally drawn the adventures of both Batman and The Phantom. The others are Jim Aparo, Terry Beatty, Don Newton, Carmine Infantino (as a ghost for Sy Barry), Joe Giella ( ghosting for Bob Kane), and Graham Nolan.[32]

Bibliography[edit]

DC Comics[edit]

King Features Syndicate[edit]

Marvel Comics[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "King Features: The Phantom". King Features Syndicate. 2013. Archived from the original on December 7, 2013. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Paul Ryan Condolences". Legacy.com. Archived from the original on August 7, 2016. Retrieved March 19, 2016. 
  3. ^ Miller, John Jackson (June 10, 2005). "Comics Industry Birthdays". Comics Buyer's Guide. Iola, Wisconsin. Archived from the original on October 29, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Paul Ryan". Lambiek Comiclopedia. 2012. Archived from the original on September 10, 2012. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Paul Ryan". comicvine. Retrieved 29 March 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Chaityn Lebovits, Susan (June 17, 2007). "Artist draws on his childhood dreams". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on October 12, 2012. Retrieved August 26, 2007. 
  7. ^ a b Best, Daniel (2004). "Welcome to Paul Ryan @ Adelaide Comics and Books". Archived from the original on August 8, 2007. Retrieved August 9, 2007. 
  8. ^ "Articles: Interview: Paul Ryan". FFPlaza.com. May 19, 1997. Archived from the original on April 5, 2007. Retrieved August 9, 2007. 
  9. ^ a b Rhoades, Ed (April 7, 2006). "Talking with Paul Ryan, The new artist for The Phantom comic strip". Deepwoods.org. Archived from the original on July 29, 2013. Retrieved November 7, 2007. 
  10. ^ a b c Paul Ryan at the Grand Comics Database
  11. ^ a b "Paul Ryan, Artist for The Phantom, Dead at 66". March 7, 2016. Archived from the original on June 4, 2016. Retrieved March 24, 2016. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "About the Cartoonist". King Features Syndicate. n.d. Archived from the original on December 5, 2007. 
  13. ^ DeFalco, Tom; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1980s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 228. ISBN 978-0756641238. Created by editor Mark Gruenwald and artist Paul Ryan, D.P. 7 was published under the New Universe imprint. 
  14. ^ a b c Johnston, Rich (August 12, 2012). "Celebrating The Career Of Paul Ryan. In Comics.". Bleeding Cool. Archived from the original on August 15, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Manning, Matthew K.; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2012). "1980s". Spider-Man Chronicle Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 164. ISBN 978-0756692360. Plotted by Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter and written by David Michelinie with pencils by Paul Ryan, this issue wasn't the standard wedding comic fare. 
  16. ^ a b The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 at the Grand Comics Database
  17. ^ DeFalco "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 242
  18. ^ Manning, Matthew K. "1990s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 261: "Stan Lee returned to his rightful place behind the typewriter with this new series penciled by Paul Ryan."
  19. ^ a b Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1990s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 275. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. The behind-the-scenes talent on the monumental issue appropriately spanned several generations of the Man of Tomorrow's career. Written by Dan Jurgens, Karl Kesel, David Michelinie, Louise Simonson, and Roger Stern, the one-shot featured the pencils of John Byrne, Gil Kane, Stuart Immonen, Paul Ryan, Jon Bogdanove, Kieron Dwyer, Tom Grummett, Dick Giordano, Jim Mooney, Curt Swan, Nick Cardy, Al Plastino, Barry Kitson, Ron Frenz, and Dan Jurgens. 
  20. ^ a b Superman: The Wedding Album #1 (Dec. 1996) at the Grand Comics Database
  21. ^ Manning "1990s" in Dolan, p. 283: "The special written by Dan Jurgens, Stuart Immonen, Karl Kesel, and Louise Simonson, with pencils by Stuart Immonen, Ron Frenz, Tom Grummett, Paul Ryan, and Jon Bogdanove."
  22. ^ Manning "1990s" in Dolan, p. 285: Jakeem Thunder debuted in The Flash (second series) #134 in February [1998], by writers Grant Morrison and Mark Millar and penciller Paul Ryan.
  23. ^ Johnston, Rich (March 7, 2016). "Paul Ryan, Artist For The Fantastic Four And The Phantom, Has Died Aged 66". Bleeding Cool. Archived from the original on March 27, 2016. Retrieved March 7, 2016. 
  24. ^ DePaul, Tony (March 7, 2016). "Paul Ryan, R.I.P.". The Nickels of the Man. Archived from the original on August 31, 2016. Retrieved March 24, 2016. 
  25. ^ "Paul Ryan Passes". Chronicle Chamber. March 8, 2016. Archived from the original on March 24, 2016. Retrieved March 24, 2016. 
  26. ^ Lovett, Jamie (March 7, 2016). "Fantastic Four Artist Paul Ryan Dies At 66". Comicbook.com. Archived from the original on April 13, 2016. Retrieved March 30, 2016. 
  27. ^ Evanier, Mark (March 7, 2016). "Paul Ryan, R.I.P.". News From ME. Archived from the original on September 5, 2016. Retrieved July 10, 2016. 
  28. ^ Infante, Victor D. (March 8, 2016). "Hudson comic artist Paul Ryan dies". Telegram & Gazette. Worcester, Massachusetts. Archived from the original on April 25, 2016. Retrieved March 24, 2016. 
  29. ^ DePaul, Tony (story pp. 3-31); Hogarth, Dudley ("Message from the publisher", p. 2) (w), Ryan, Paul (cover, story pp. 3-31, back cover) (a). "Terror's Mutiny" The Phantom 1748 (2016), Sydney, Australia: Frew Publications Pty Limited
  30. ^ "Frew Publications Issues Paul Ryan Tribute Issue". The Phantom by Lee Falk. April 1, 2016. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved July 12, 2016. 
  31. ^ Wickline, Dan (March 21, 2016). "Mike Manley To Take Over The Phantom Comic Strips". Bleeding Cool. Archived from the original on June 23, 2016. Retrieved March 23, 2016. 
  32. ^ Manley, Mike (May 30, 2016). "First Day In The Skull Cave". Draw!. Archived from the original on September 5, 2016. Retrieved June 9, 2016. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Rich Buckler
The Avengers artist
1989–1991
Succeeded by
Herb Trimpe
Preceded by
John Byrne
Avengers West Coast artist
1990–1991
Succeeded by
Steven Butler
Preceded by
John Romita Jr.
Iron Man artist
1991–1992
Succeeded by
Kev Hopgood
Preceded by
Al Milgrom
Fantastic Four artist
1991–1996
Succeeded by
Carlos Pacheco
Preceded by
Sergio Cariello
The Flash artist
1996–1998
Succeeded by
Ron Wagner