Wednesday, August 28, 2013

ON THE FIVE: Interviewing Paul Ryan

I'm not the kind of guy to get starstruck. In a previous career I used to interview musical folks most people pinned pictures of to their walls (things like Pinterest boards that divide up a house). It showed me 'celebrities' are just people too. Still I have to admit, in talking with iconic comics artist Paul Ryan, I had to reassure myself it was THE Paul Ryan who was responding and not someone with the same name, just playing along for a nights entertainment.

As friendly and grounded as you'd expect one of comics' most reliable workhorses to be, Paul answered everything from questions on his inspiration to working with Stan Lee, and of course THAT costume. Here's what he had to say;

IADW) Your run on The Fantastic Four is one of the largest in the title's history. Despite Johnny going nova, the lost and found Reed Richards and all that went down during your time, for many, you are still the guy that put comics most famous mom into a 'bad-girl' outfit and sent her to war. What are your thoughts on that infamous costume change?

Paul Ryan) Oh yeah!! "THAT" costume!! DeFalco's storyline dealt with Sue regressing to her Malice persona. Becoming more aggressive. He wanted a costume change to reflect this change in Sue's attitude. The costume I designed had many of the same features as the Malice costume, while retaining a semblance of a FF costume. 

We got a few negative comments from fans who felt that as Franklin's Mom, Sue would never wear such a revealing costume. There was another side to the argument from fans who still looked upon Sue as a babe. Eventually Tom allowed me to modify the costume so that both sides were appeased.

IADW) You made The Flash run under writers Mark Waid, Mark Millar and Grant Morrison, and currently crank out the adventures of The Phantom, a character my Mum used to read when she was a kid. Having touched so many of the industry's biggest icons, is there one so-far elusive character out there you would like more of an opportunity to take a stab at?

PR) Three come to mind. Tarzan, Magnus, Robot Fighter and Flash Gordon. Okay, maybe four...The Lone Ranger! The real Lone Ranger!!!

IADW) The Watcher/Celestial war in Fantastic Four showed how well you can mix the incredible with the realistic. That said, how did it feel to join the Stan Lee on Ravage 2099 and use those skills to help develop the look of a future Marvel universe?

PR) I enjoy doing futuristic settings, monsters and cosmic themes. Working with Stan was a real treat. I remember, fondly, the Marvel Monster mags that Stan, Jack and Steve produced long before they gave birth to the FF and the Marvel Universe.

IADW) You're the guy who drew both The Avengers and Avengers West Coast at the same time. That alone shows why 'consistency' and 'reliability' are trademarks of your career. What is one piece of advice you can offer, that might help any aspiring artists out there?

PR) I would give them the same words of wisdom that Tom DeFalco gave me years ago. "Sleep is way overrated!" He tried it once and said it was not all that it was cracked up to be. But seriously, be professional, get the job done to the best of your ability within the time allowed. Never be late and communicate with your Editor. 

So many Editors have told me, over the years, about freelancers who were late on a job and just went missing. If you have a problem meeting your deadline be open and honest with your Editor. It is their responsibility to have a product to ship to the Printer. If you can't supply the job, they need to make other arrangements. Slip in an Inventory story. The Printer gets paid for his contracted time whether or not you supply them with anything to print. 

IADW) Who is your personal 'Superman'?

PR) Hmm, could we make that a Super-Person!? I would say my Mom. She taught my siblings and I a love of the ocean, the outdoors and taking chances. At age 50 she decided to take horseback riding lessons at the Andover Riding Academy in Massachusetts. She got quite good at it and won a few ribbons for hunter/jumper. 

She was very supportive when we needed it the most. The times when conventional wisdom said, "Do you REALLY want to do that?" Mom would encourage us to take a chance and believe in ourselves. In her eighties she still walked three miles every morning before breakfast. We all miss her very much.

Now that's an amazing Mum. What a great legacy and sign of respect as a parent, that your kids are so thankful and humbled by the life you led and the lessons you gifted them with. Again I'd like to thank Paul for all his time in doing this interview, as it's always great when your icons turn out to be just the kind of people you hoped them to be.

To find Paul's latest work on The Phantom, click the jump.

 What do you think? 


  1. Fascinating stuff, really cool to hear from him, thank you Dan!
    I would've liked to hear a bit more about his FF work but the rest was a good read too.
    On todays FF forum I inhabit, we've been having a post on 'Whos your favourite FF artist - after Jack Kirby?' The majority answer was 'big' John Buscema but many added Paul Ryan as one of their top five favourites, with one poster [a massive Reed Richards fan who bemoans the current portrayal of her fave hero] pointing out that Ryan was the last FF artist who drew Reed smoking his pipe, something Marvel wouldn't allow nowadays due to their anti-smoking policy.
    It isn't often we hear from this [sometimes forgotten, tho thankfully from our forum some do have fond memories] artist so this was a nice change
    Great interview!

  2. No worries Karl, glad you liked it!

    It seems so long ago now Marvel brought in the anti-smoking thing. I think Ben used to have a cigar pretty often too!

    Not only for me was his FF work killer, Paul is THE artist when I think of Avengers West. Wonder Man especially, but he also gave the Iron Man armour this really fluid round feel, and did so again when he joined John Byrne on shell-heads own book. It was a small styling tweak, but boy I dug it.

    As an interview well he was just so personable and grounded it really did make me think I'd invested in the right guy as a fan, and that's pretty much the best thing you can hope for.

  3. Absolutely brilliant interview sir! It was wonderful to read. My favorite bit was seeing that he'd love to do Magnus, Robot Fighter. I'd buy that. Instantly. It would be a great fit.

  4. Thanks Random! Out of the ones Paul listed it was Magnus that most caught my mind to. I can almost picture his Magus fighting through a flood of robots, with some futuristic city looming large in the background!

  5. Damn good interview Dan. You asked some really good questions, especially his thoughts on Sue's peek-a-boo costume. So cool to read his take on it.

    Paul Ryan, while not the flashiest or prettiest artist around, certainly is one of the sturdiest and dependbale/timely artist around.

    Very solid guy.

    Enjoyed his run on FF, Iron Man, and AWC myself. I read in reviews from Wizard Magazine just how god and well thought of, those Millar/Morrison/Waid Flash stories were and are. Too Bad DC doesn't feel that way.

  6. Thanks Dale, glad you liked the interview too! Those Flash issues are fantastic, if that word isn't being over used in this post. The Human Race especially. Only Grant and co could have Wally race against his childhood imaginary friend to save both their worlds.