INTERVIEW WITH JOHNNY RYAN
The Creator of Angry Youth Comix
Though I've liked mainstream comics since I was a kid, it's the "alternative" stuff that I've
really enjoyed as an adult. I found that books like Love and Rockets, Hate, Flaming Carrot, Reid Fleming: The World's Toughest Milkman, and Eightball made me genuinely
laugh out loud with a "HAW HAW" that would make Jack Chick envious. But in recent years, these comics have either been canceled, or come out so infrequently
that they might as well be, so I kind of gave up on them. What a treat it was, however, to discover Johnny Ryan's ANGRY YOUTH COMIX. I first read this sick gutterlaugh
book while I was taking a dump, and laughed so hard that my wife must have thought there was singing corn in my shit.
After self publishing AYC since 1994, and appearing in the odd backup feature or anthology in various other comics, Johnny's been picked up by independent publishing
legend, Fantagraphics. The first two issues (which you can buy for a measly $2.95 if you simply CLICK HERE),
are out and are making folks across the country dry heave with convulsive laughter.
Loady tries his hand at stand-up comedy
AYC features the disguting adventures of Loady McGee, a redheaded asshole who has the worst acne in the world, and his buddy Sinus O'Gynus. Shit eating, donkey cock
sucking, and sex with genetically alterred iguanas are just some of the off color subjects that make AYC a true, "laff riot!"
Johnny is truly the up and coming comic artist/writer to watch. I was lucky enough to interview Johnny, who agreed to share his experiences, and even throw an original
piece o' art our way in the process.
retroCRUSH: What's the angriest reaction you've had to Angry Youth
I've never had an angry person confront me about my comic book personally. I do come across people online who really loathe my stuff. It's not that they object to the
"immoral" content, they just think it's plain awful. They don't think it's funny at all, and the fact that FANTAGRAPHICS publishes me now makes them doubly
pissed. But, whatever...My stuff's not for everybody. Peter Bagge told me that when he first started out Spain and Robert Williams hated his stuff so much they actually
wanted to beat him up! I find that story very heartening.
retroCRUSH: What's an idea that you thought was too sick to use?
Sometimes I'll come up with a disgusting idea and my initial reaction will be, "I can't do that! It's just too terrible!" But eventually that feeling passes and
I do it anyway.
retroCRUSH: Did you find it a bit overwhelming to be among so many
independent legends when you joined Fantagraphics?
I still find it overwhelming! I feel like a 3-year-old who's just been recruited to play in the major leagues. When I go to conventions and I'm signing books next to Dan
Clowes and Richard Sala I definitely feel like there's something wrong with this picture. I should be on the other side of the table!
Johnny Ryan Self Portrait (he's much sexier in person)
retroCRUSH: How did other artists encourage and support you when
you were starting out?
When I was initially starting out I did not receive any encouragement or support from anybody. I also did not participate in the underground comics "scene" in
that I didn't really attend any conventions, nor did I trade or send my comics to any individual artists. I just put 'em in comic stores and hoped for the best. It wasn't
until I did 7 or 8 issues of AYC that I decided to send one to Dan Clowes. He wrote me back a very supportive letter and I was totally thrilled! I guess I never would
have believed that a big shot like him would write to a guy like me, but he did. God bless 'em!
I didn't send any more comics to other comic book superstars for a couple years after that. It was in early '99 that I decided to write to Peter Bagge. I had only
recently picked up a few issues of HATE for the first time and I thought it was amazing! I could really lynch myself for not paying attention to his comic during its run.
I was such an idiot when I wrote him-I had no clue that he had ended his comic months before. He wrote me back really fast and told me how much he loved my book. He then
proceeded to shove my comics down FANTAGRAPHICS' throat until they agreed to publish me. So he's the reason I've had any type of "success" in the comics world.
Johnny does work for Nickelodeon mag, too (suckers)
retroCRUSH: How has the web changed the way you deal with comic book fans?
Well, it's only recently that I've started to get some fans, so I guess I don't really know what it's like dealing with fans pre-internet. I do think the web is a great
way to promote my comics. It really helps get the message out there. And of course email is good cuz it makes it easier for fans to write you and give you feedback.
retroCRUSH: What are some non-comic book influences for your work?
The Three Stooges, The Marx Bros., funny animal cartoons, William Faulkner, Spaghetti Westerns, "Escape from New York", sunsets...etc...
retroCRUSH: You seem pretty quiet quiet and reserved, is Loady McGee like an
"evil" Johnny Ryan, or just a fun character?
Yeah, I'd agree with that. Loady is everything that's awful and entertaining about myself, just as Sinus O'Gynus usually represents everything nerdy, sensitive and boring
retroCRUSH: What comic creator do you respect the most?
Gosh, there's a whole bunch, but if I had to pick one I'd say Peter Bagge (could I kiss his ass anymore in this interview!). I think he's the greatest writer in the
history of comics! I wanna grow up to be just like him, just not as short.
retroCRUSH: What's it like balancing putting out comic books and
working in a "real job", too?
It sucks. I work all day as an insurance clerk at a urology clinic and then at night I gotta drag my tired ass over to the drawing table and work on my comics for a few
hours. I don't think it would be as bad if I at least had a day job doing something that was creative instead of shuffling piss papers around.
retroCRUSH: Hard hitting one here, what's your favorite drink?
Tex Avery's diarrhea.
retroCRUSH: Favorite toy when you were growing up?
retroCRUSH: TV Show?
retroCRUSH: Any tips for an aspiring comic book artist?
Sure. Draw all the time! Fill up as many sketchbooks as you can. And if you're looking to get into the comics biz to make lots of money and get lots of respect you should
probably do something else, like manage a supermarket. The lower your expectations the better!
retroCRUSH: Does Bone-Boy
have a future in comics?
Not only does Bone-Boy have a future in comics, but in movies, TV, and Broadway! Keep
at it, m'man!.
You can visit Johnny's official Angry Youth Comics Website, and BUY
ORIGINAL ART from him as well (he takes Paypal and food stamps). It's guaranteed to be worth a fortune after the Loady McGee movies starring Freddie
Prinze, Jr. come out. And be sure to check out Fantagraphics.com to buy the comics if your comic store
isn't cool enough to carry such masterpieces.