The Best of Angry Youth Comix
The Johnny Ryan Interview and Review!
I've been a longtime comic book reader, but
in recent years I'd become pretty jaded at the crap there was to choose from out
there. When I stumbled on a copy of ANGRY YOUTH COMIX by Johnny Ryan
(published by Fantagraphics) it was like a spiritual awakening. Well,
maybe it was more like a baptism of shit, but it was a guilty pleasure the likes
I hadn't seen since I giggled at those gory Driver's Ed films in high school.
Ryan, who lives vicariously through his
cartoon creation Loady McGee, a pimply faced scumbag who is easily the most
loathsome character to grace a comic book panel since SPAWN, showcases his early
work from largely self-published and hard to find comics in PORTAJOHNNY.
The collection of early strips is a true "laff
riot". These opening panels from "Diary of A Rapist" are probably the most
humorous look at rape since the controversial Little Lotta #45 from 1973 that
was banned by the Comics Code Authority.
When I saw that Johnny had a similar
interest in exploring Tom Cruise's sexuality, I felt as if he was a
soul brother, connecting with me on
levels I have never been connected with before!
Ryan is like that little devil on your
shoulder that whispers inappropriate jokes in your ear when you're trying to be
serious. Or that crazy hitchhiker in the beginning of The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre, who tries to cut you after you say you don't like head cheese.
I was lucky enough to interview Johnny a couple years back and I
thought it'd be great to publish it again here for old time's sake.
retroCRUSH: What's the angriest reaction
you've had to Angry Youth Comics?
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
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 about me.
retroCRUSH: What comic creator do you respect the
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
Tex Avery's diarrhea.
retroCRUSH: Favorite toy when you were growing
retroCRUSH: TV Show?
retroCRUSH: Any tips for an aspiring comic book
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!
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!
Whether your familiar with Ryan's work or
not, you'll love this 158 page collection of laugh out loud comics that
Fantagraphics is selling for only $14.95.
CLICK HERE TO BUY
PORTAJOHNNY, AND OTHER FINE WORK FROM FANTAGRAPHICS!