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Paul Ryan (comics)

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Title: Paul Ryan (comics)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Fantastic Four, Lois Lane, Spider-Man, Flash (comics), Iron Man, Crisis on Infinite Earths, John Byrne (comics), The Phantom, Avengers (comics), New Universe
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Paul Ryan (comics)

Paul Ryan
That's Entertainment comic shop, Worcester MA in 2006.
Born 1949
Massachusetts, USA
Nationality American
Area(s) Artist
Notable works DP7
Fantastic Four
The Phantom
Squadron Supreme

Paul Ryan (born 23 September 1949 in Massachusetts) is an American comic book and comic strip cartoonist. Ryan has worked extensively for Marvel Comics and DC Comics on a number of super-hero comics. He currently pencils and inks the daily comic strip The Phantom for King Features Syndicate.[1]


Early years

Paul Ryan attended St. Polycarp Grammar School in Somerville, Massachusetts and graduated from St. Mary of the Annunciation High School in 1967. He graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art in 1971 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Graphic Design. After graduation Ryan enlisted in the United States National Guard and was assigned to Fort Dix, New Jersey for Basic Training and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) in automotive mechanics. He later attended Massachusetts Military Academy in Wakefield, Massachusetts for officer training.

During this period Ryan landed a job in the Graphics Department of Metcalf & Eddy Engineering in Boston, where he worked for 11 years.

First steps in comics

The Boston Globe reports that "Ryan began his training as a child, growing up in Somerville. He'd park himself in front of the television each night to watch George Reeves in the Adventures of Superman."[2] He has said that as a young comics fan and aspiring artist in the Silver Age, he was influenced by the work of Wayne Boring and Curt Swan on Superman.[3] In 1961, Ryan became a big fan of the Fantastic Four of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, having "bought the first issue at the tender age of 11." [4] He has also acknowledged that even as a youth he studied the work of Hal Foster, Sy Barry, Dan Barry, and Mac Raboy, adding "I'm pretty much influenced by anybody whose work I admire." [5]

In 1983, in response to a general "open audition" offer from Charlton Comics, Ryan was finally prompted to write and draw his first comics story, which he titled BREED. Charlton had recently instituted a program whereby they would publish the best of the work submitted by aspiring comic book artists in Charlton Bullseye. Payment would be in the form of 50 contributor copies of the printed piece. The artist would then have published work to show Marvel Comics or DC Comics in the hopes of landing a job with the "Big Two." Charlton accepted Ryan's story, but the title was cancelled before BREED saw print.

The remaining stories from Bullseye ended up in the hands of Bill Black of Americomics in Florida, and Black published BREED. This brought Ryan to the attention of comic book stores in the Boston area. When Marvel artist, Bob Layton, moved to Boston and needed an assistant, the employees at these stores recommended Paul Ryan to Layton. Ryan worked for Layton for a year doing his backgrounds, and through him met the editors and staff at Marvel. By this time Ryan, having taken a circuitous route toward a career in comic art, was in his early 30s.[6]

Marvel Comics

Soon, Ryan was getting assignments of his own, starting with inking (The Thing #27 and #29) and then moving on to penciling (Iron Man #202, Squadron Supreme #6, 9, 10, 11, 12, Eternals #12, and a Thor Graphic Novel).[6]

In 1986, writer Mark Gruenwald and Ryan co-created DP7 for Marvel's New Universe imprint. Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool called DP7 "a wonderful comic book, everything just seemed to gel together perfectly on that series, and on Quasar that followed it, and I was hooked. Paul had a classically clean style..."[7]

Ryan penciled the first six issues of Quasar followed by work on Avengers, Avengers West Coast, Iron Man, and Ravage 2099 (a character which he co-created with Stan Lee). However, Ryan would be most strongly associated with the Fantastic Four for his notably long run on Marvel's flagship title, trailing only Jack Kirby and John Byrne in total number of issues drawn: his first issue was #356, and his last #414. In all, Ryan would rack up eleven years of comic book art exclusivity with Marvel Comics.[6]

In 1992 Ryan took over the penciling (with Joe Sinnott inking) on The Amazing Spider-Man Sunday comic strip written by Stan Lee and distributed by King Features. He drew that popular feature for just over three years.[6]

DC Comics and after

In 1996, Ryan's run on Fantastic Four was derailed by the Heroes Reborn event. Shortly after, Paul Ryan left Marvel to work for DC Comics. He penciled a Superman Annual, Legends of the Dead Earth, the Flash series, Batman and many other titles. He also regularly pencilled Superman: The Man of Tomorrow as well as several fill-in assignments on other Superman titles.[6]

Paul Ryan and writer David Michelinie are the only comic book creators to have contributed to the wedding issues of both Spider-Man (Peter Parker marrying Mary Jane Watson in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21, 1987),[8] and Superman (Clark Kent marrying Lois Lane in Superman: The Wedding Album, 1996).[6][9]

He was a contributing artist on the NASCAR/Superman custom comic and on Celebrating the Century, a stamp collecting book that DC produced for the United States Postal Service.

Ryan briefly returned to Marvel in 1999, teaming with writer Tom DeFalco on the Fantastic Five. The turn of the Millennium found Ryan working with Wildstorm, penciling one of the Left Behind (comic) Graphic Novels, and working with Crossgen as a regular fill-in artist on such titles as Ruse and Crux. Ryan also became a regular contributor to The Phantom or Fantomen Comic Books published by Swedish company Egmont (a job which would position him well for his next major assignment).[6]

The Phantom comic strip

The Phantom comic strip began as a weekday newspaper strip on February 17, 1936, with a color Sunday strip added in May 1939. It was originally written by creator Lee Falk, and when Falk died in 1999, Tony DePaul took over the writing duties. Several artists have illustrated the character's adventures over the decades.

In 2005 then current artist George Olesen announced that he was going to retire. Jay Kennedy at King Features Syndicate chose Paul Ryan to assume the artist's role on the daily strips. Then in October 2006 Graham Nolan, artist on The Phantom Sunday Strip, announced his intended departure from the series. Once again Kennedy called upon Ryan, who agreed to add the Sunday strip to his duties for King Features. His first Sunday appeared in newspapers on April 1, 2007. Ryan later wished to cut his workload and on July 31, 2011, Eduardo Barreto took over as artist for the Sunday strip. Following Barreto's sudden death in late 2011, Ryan returned to the Sunday feature briefly until a replacement, Terry Beatty, was found.

Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool wrote of Ryan on The Phantom: "Here it seems he has come into his own, a richer and more luxurious style that is less tempered by the effects of Marvel or DC editorial with a greater influence from Europe."[10]

Working methods

When asked how long it takes to produce his daily comic strip, Ryan estimated "four hours to pencil a strip and three hours to ink it in, crafting lighting and shadows." [2] Ryan's art is characterized by a strong story-telling sense, careful attention to design and perspective, and solid knowledge of anatomy—on a strip that he at one time drew for publication 365 days a year.

On The Phantom, Ryan begins with penciling only the line work. "I work out the lighting, shadows and texture in the inking stage. I go in with the brush first and hit all the shadows and large dark areas. This helps define the page. Then I go in with a finer brush or pen to add details, texture or contour lines." [11]

While Ryan keeps reference books handy, he gives more credit to observation—and an artist's eye—for his knowledge of human anatomy as well as the structure of the world around us. "Whenever I'm in any situation, I'll constantly try to memorize things. I'll memorize a face, a room, and actually mentally outline everything." [12]

Ryan confesses to having run around his neighborhood as a youngster with a makeshift Superman cape tied around his neck ("I got beat up a lot", he jokes),[3] and his emotional identification with comic characters has continued into his professional years: "I find that while I'm illustrating a story I become so focused that I feel as if I'm [actually] in the story, taking the part of each of the characters as I draw them," Ryan says.[12]



  • Lambiek's Comiclopedia
  • The Phantom page

External links

  • Article on the Phantomwiki.
  • Daily Ink
  • Paul Ryan interviewed
Preceded by
John Romita, Jr.
Iron Man artist
Succeeded by
Kev Hopgood
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