Monday, March 07, 2016

World´s Greatest Comic Artists : Paul Ryan

I´m still a bit in shock over the news that one of my favorite artists, Paul Ryan passed away during the last weekend at only 66 years of age.

Longtime readers of this blog may remember that I mentioned him and his five year run on FANTASTIC FOUR quite a few times. For me this was one of the good comics that came out in the dark comic age of the 90s.

Originally I wanted to do a long post but since I spent most of the day looking for Paul Ryan art - as my picture archive is not as extensive as it once was - I´m just going to post some of his great covers to remember all the series he has worked on. Maybe with comments here and there.

I guess I should start this little retrospective with D.P. 7 issue 10 because it is probably the first comic book with Paul Ryan artwork I ever saw.

Either this or issue 11. Those issues were always in the 1 Deutschmark bins at german comic conventions or comic trade shows. Anyway, my brother has most of the series but I never got around to read it. It was part of Jim Shooter´s NEW UNIVERSE and as much critique as he gets comic readers are only now starting to understand how far ahead of his times he was. It was ULTIMATE MARVEL before people wanted to read it.

QUASAR was of of the first series that I put on my pull list because of Paul Ryan. It´s crazy but I just recently read the overpriced and badly printed ANNIHILATION CLASSIC that reprints the first issue. I only stayed on the book until Paul Ryan left with issue 6 or 7 which were Acts of Vengeance tie ins and returned when Greg Capullo turned it into a must read book.

The same happened on Ravage 2099. Yup, I was one of the people who read it despite of Stan Lee´s more than generic writing. Still it had beautiful Paul Ryan art. But as soon as that ended I was out the door.

Speaking about Acts of Vengeance, you will find art from Paul Ryan in most Marvel omnibus or collections reprinting that storyline and others like Operation Galactic Storm or John Byrne´s Vision Quest / Darker Than Scarlett Scarlett Witch saga ( which was just recently reprinted in the new Avengers by John Byrne omnibus hardcover that comes out in July ) in AVENGERS WEST COAST since he was the only artist who drew that series and the main AVENGERS book at the same time, following such artistic titans like John Buscema and John Byrne and he made it look easy.   

And speaking about following John Byrne, he handpicked Paul Ryan to follow John Romita Jr on his stint on IRON MAN. I was a bit surprised when I got the Epic Collection WAR GAMES because more than half of it is by Paul 'Ryan and this may be one of the best Epic Collections yet since it includes the complete run by John Byrne in one volume. The transition from John Romita Jr to Paul Ryan is pretty smooth and Paul incorporated the new much bulkier look of the Iron Man armor in the Avengers books. 

I have always preferred the original 12 issue limited SQUADRON SUPREME series to WATCHMEN ( since I have already explained the reason for this on many occasions I won´t bore my readers by repeating them ) partly because of Paul Ryan who finished up the last issues. While the series has its fans many are not aware of the brilliant graphic novel SQUADRON SUPREME - DEATH OF A UNIVERSE by Mark Gruenwald and Paul Ryan that at least as good if not better than the original series. The story ended their universe and brought the team to the 616 Earth - which of course is all but a moot point at this moment thanks to Disney. Thankfully the graphic novel is included in the SQUADRON SUPREME OMNIBUS hardcover. 

Speaking of parallel universes Paul Ryan also did the art on FANTASTIC FIVE from the M2 universe. I always enjoyed that parallel world since they had some great books like SPIDER - GIRL ( on which I will do a post very soon ) with a positive outlook for the future, a rare thing in comics now.

A few more covers for Marvel. I´m not sure if he also did the interiors.

Paul Ryan also worked at DC where he drew the big icons like Batman or Superman, the last one mostly in the title SUPERMAN - THE MAN OF TOMORROW which was created to have a Superman book every week.

Back then there was ACTION COMICS, THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, SUPERMAN and MAN OF STEEL which was created to give Jon Bogdanove his own Superman title. Those four books came out every month and they were scheduled so that every title would come out at a different week of the month. Still that left DC with four books coming out once a month which made only forty - eight Superman issues a year. But the year has fifty - two weeks so they did SUPERMAN - THE MAN OF TOMORROW to have a book for those weeks in - between. I know it sounds like a lot of trouble for comic readers but back then DC really had a tight continuity and they had a little triangle on the cover so the fans knew in which order to read them. And despite the overlapping stories you could still only read one Superman title without getting the feeling you were missing out on something. There were sadly only four issues each year but Paul Ryan more than made up for it by drawing the entire Justice League on occasion and doing a few extras like the SUPERMAN - GHOSTS annual 10. 

He even got to draw an entire different Justice League ( and most of the other heroes in the DC universe ) in the LEGENDS OF THE DC UNIVERSE : CRISIS - THE UNTOLD STORY special. As the cover is not by Paul Ryan here´s some of the interior art of which you can see more in this review

I also have to post interior art for Paul Ryan´s last DC book because while he did a long run on FLASH - issues 119 to 136 the cover were by other artists. But because they were of such high caliber like Mike Wieringo and Steve Lightle I didn´t complain. And I still had Paul Ryan inside the comic.

But Marvel and DC were not the only companies Paul Ryan worked for. When CrossGen comics was the third big comic publisher they had all the best talents and while Paul Ryan did not get his own title he always delivered on those fill in issues he did to relieve the regular artists.

Last but not least Paul Ryan did a lot of work for the swedish comic PHANTOMEN about one of the greatest pulp comic icons ever, The Phantom, The Ghost Who Walks and I hope that some american - or german - publisher makes those stories available for the general readers.

And that is all for this post which I hope has been able to show the books Paul Ryan has worked on. He always managed to combine great design and elegance with solid storytelling while throwing in strong perspectives and dynamic action. And he could drawn anything that writers threw at him and was never afraid to do crowds with dozens of characters. Artists like him, who always stay within their deadlines and who can do two books a month - and do them good - there are not that many left.

As I had to look for stuff from Paul Ryan all over the internet there are quite a few links I have to add to the post. First of there are the posts on the passing of Paul Ryan and as representatives of all the numerous ones that are without any doubt going to be on the internet in the weeks to come I selected the ones by COMICBOOK.COM and CULT FACTION

Dan W from IT`S A DAN`S WORLD has a write up and an interview with Paul Ryan and Ed Rhoades at THE PHANTOM REFERENCE GUIDE has an interview with Paul Ryan about his work on PHANTOMEN with a lot of original artwork. As you can expect Paul Ryan pops up in quite a few posts from COMIC BOOK RESOURCES like Drawing Crazy Patterns : Avengers Falling For The Scarlet Witch , Drawing Crazy Pastterns : The Entire Marvel World Is Destroyed ! Wait, Now It´s Back ! , Knowledge Waits : Nine Times Doctor Doom Cheated Death Itself and Gimmick Or Good ? Fantastic Four 371 - 375 . They also have an orbituary on Paul Ryan and Gimmick Or Good ? Flash 80 about Mike Wieringo´s first issue on FLASH.

I know there was not a lot of Superman in this post but I want to include something for my spanish speaking audience so here´s almost an hour of the classic cartoon. THIS is what the real Superman looks like, Hollywood.

Today would have been Heinz Rühmann´s 114th birthday. There always was some controversy because he kept making films in Germany during the Nazi´s reign and was close with Goebbels and Goehring although he never made outright propaganda movies. He starred in a few movies that critiqued the military like Die Abenteuer des braven Soldat Schwejks ( I had the luck to be able to read the novel it was based on during my military service and not a lot has changed in the last hundred years ) or Der Hauptmann von Köpenick - which is one of my favorite movies.

I remember seeing it on one of the 5 Mark matinees the local school in Neckarweihingen used to do and being impressed by the social issues that were tackled in the movie. Besides showing how conditioned germans are to obey authority figures - especially those in uniforms - it also reveals the problems with bureaucracy that haven´t changed that much. Take it from one who has been in the position of the main character. It´s the old dilemma : without a permanent residence you don´t get papers, without papers you don´t get work and without work you don´t have a chance of earning money for a permanent residence. It´s a neverending spiral.      

Sadly I only found a short clip of The Captain of Köpenick - even if it is the most important scene - but I found another cinematic jewel I had not seen before. Der Herr vom anderen Stern is an early science fiction movie that was ahead of its times. The movie was produced by Heinz Rühmann and in it he plays a traveler who lands on earth via mind powers and has to deal with the german authorities, politicians and other criminals. 

I´m staying with my german speaking audience for a video from .... really ? Smartypants is the actual translation for Klugscheißerin ? That´s really putting it mildly. Anyway, here´s a video from Miss Smartypants about if comics are art and you should watch her videos which are smart.

Comic Misconceptions with interesting facts about The Ghost Who Walks.

Today´s music video was picked for this special remembrance post.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest / best of the best

Old jungle saying : when the jungle sleeps, the Phantom wakes.

No comments: