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A Short Interview With Johnny Ryan
posted June 18, 2006
 

imageComing off of his guest-editorship of the comics issue of Vice magazine, cartoonist Johnny Ryan continues his big year with the final publication of the previously self-distributed Comic Book Holocaust, collected into one volume by Buenaventura Press. This material was also previously available on Ryan's web site. They consist of mostly single-page take-offs on popular comics, with art usually although not always done in a loose knock-off of the original's style.

It's fun to watch a comedic writer of Ryan's particular talents noodle around like he seems to be doing here. Because Ryan doesn't let this material become constrained by a certain type of take-off or certain structure joke, the book becomes an interesting window into comic writing. Some of the single-pages adhere to satirizing the source material; others veer off into lunacy or complete conceptual circles that have almost nothing to do with the name in the title. One gets the sense of Ryan as a faithful servant to his own sense of what's funny, a man with faith in his onw taste. Once a joke gets locked into a certain outcome, it rushes to its completion no matter how much stuff gets knocked down along the way, or how silly the first few steps look in retrospect. You can almost sense Ryan seizing onto the key moment on each page. Obviously a must-have for Ryan fans, I think the book would also please most fans of gross-out humor and any fans of comics straight out of sketchbooks.

The selection of pages below appear here thanks to Buenaventura Press. Comic Book Holocaust will be widely available in a matter of a few weeks -- watch for it.

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In celebration of the new release, I asked Johnny Ryan the following twelve questions taken from Gary Groth's 1980 Comics Journal interview with author Harlan Ellison.

imageTOM SPURGEON: You've been doing that for six years, haven't you?

JOHNNY RYAN: No.

SPURGEON: I thought you were mellowing until now.

RYAN: Wrong again!

SPURGEON: How would you describe your own moral tone?

RYAN: Awesome!

SPURGEON: What is the value of an illustrated story that truncates the original story?

RYAN: $22.99

SPURGEON: It's possible to reconcile best-sellerdom with art?

RYAN: No.

SPURGEON: Who do you think are abnormal and what are their particular traits?

RYAN: Albinos. They have white hair and pink eyes.

SPURGEON: Have you met professionals in the industry that you've felt were comparatively normal and well-adjusted?

RYAN: No.

SPURGEON: It's interesting, isn't it, that most of the best comics art has had a great deal of humor in it?

RYAN: Not really.

SPURGEON: Do you know French?

RYAN: No.

SPURGEON: Let me ask you this: what do we do with the stupid people, the people who are too dense to learn?

RYAN: Suck their cunts.

SPURGEON: Is the reason for our wretched state of culture that there are too many stupid people who refuse to learn and refuse to upgrade their lives?

RYAN: Yes!

SPURGEON: Did you really punch Irwin Allen in the face on the top of the table?

RYAN: Yes.

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