Logan Kaufman: Do people ever confuse
you with your comics and characters?
Johnny Ryan: I think people do expect
me to be some kind of out-of-control serial killer
dirtball, like Loady McGee. Then when they finally
meet me they're very disappointed to find that
Logan: Are you shocked that people would
expect that or want you to be that kind of person?
Johnny Ryan: No, I don't think so. If
I ever met Robocop I would be pretty disappointed
if he wasn't acting like the way he does in the
Logan: But he'd likely kill you if you
got in his way...he'd definitely kill Loady.
Johnny Ryan: That sounds like fun.
Logan: How did Loady McGee come about?
Was he an early creation of yours or did he evolve
after doing comics for some time?
Johnny Ryan: He turned up around 1993,
I think, and has evolved over time. He didn't
look so rat-like at first. In the beginning he
was just kind of a cartoony version of a friend
of mine, then I began to add characteristics of
other people, including Vyvyan from The Young
Logan: What does your friend think of
Johnny Ryan: The friend that I originally
based Loady on? He was actually the first person
who encouraged me to pursue the career in comics.
Logan: How did you go about first publishing?
Were you basically just xeroxing comics?
Johnny Ryan: Yeah, we took our stuff to
a copy place and had them copy our stuff, then
we took them around to local stores and conventions,
Logan: You were collaborating with someone?
Johnny Ryan: Yes, I was collaborating
with my friend Matt Sanborn. I drew comics and
he wrote stuff, like porn reviews and other bullshit.
The collaboration lasted until issue 9. At that
point it was pretty clear that he just didn't
want to do it anymore.
Logan: What were you doing to make ends
meet at the time?
Johnny Ryan: Let's see...I had a bunch
of jobs during that time. I don't think any of
them lasted more than a year. Bussing tables,
telemarketing, working in a warehouse, cashier
at a liquor store, mowing lawns, stuffing envelopes,
etc... I think between the time I graduated from
college in '92 and 2000 I had approximately 20
different shitty jobs...
Logan: You've said that you were fired
from the liquor store for stealing scratch tickets.
Liquor stores sell scratch tickets?
Johnny Ryan: Of course they do. Where
have you been living? On the moon?
Logan: I guess. Any big winners?
Johnny Ryan: I think I got one that was
Logan: And freedom from a cruddy job.
Was that the job you enjoyed the least?
Johnny Ryan: Probably substitute teaching
at a middle school.
Logan: Don't get along with kids?
Johnny Ryan: It's like babysitting 100
assholes. As a substitute teacher the kids don't
care what you say. And the other teachers care
Logan: Was subbing something you thought
you were going to enjoy, or just a job that fell
in your lap?
Johnny Ryan: My mother was a math teacher,
so she had connections...
Logan: What have you been doing for rent
money since then?
Johnny Ryan: Mostly freelance jobs, like
Nickelodeon Magazine, Vice magazine,
MAD, various other things like that.
Logan: Did you start getting freelance
jobs after Fantagraphics picked you up, or did
you have to sell yourself to those places?
Johnny Ryan: No, I did some freelance
stuff before Fantagraphics. I was in Screw
and The Brutarian and stuff. I think having
a published comic definitely helps get me jobs,
but I still have to sell and pitch my stuff around.
Logan: Some people familiar with Angry
Youth Comix are probably surprised to know
you also work for Nickelodeon and MAD.
How did you get into doing work for younger readers?
Johnny Ryan: I picked up a copy of Nick
Mag back in '98 or so. I really liked what they
had going on their comics section. So, I kept
submitting stuff until they bought something from
me. It's fun doing comics for kids. I'm still
using that same kind of surreal nonsense humor
that I use in my regular comic. It just doesn't
have the graphic sex and violence in it. MAD
called me last year and asked me to submit
stuff, so I did.
Logan: What do the folks at MAD
and Nickelodeon think of your Angry Youth work?
Johnny Ryan: Well, what first appealed
to me about Nickelodeon Magazine was how
they were employing lots of alternative comic
artists. Chris Duffy is the art director over
there and he's a big comic fan. He understands
that people who make comics for adults can also
make them for kids. They've used lot of other
alt artists who normally do adult comics, like
Kaz, Sam Henderson, Ivan Brunetti, etc. If he
didn't like my stuff I don't think he would want
me in his magazine. I've also done work for National
Geographic Kids and the new MAD Kids.
So, a good deal of my freelance work has come
from doing kid stuff.
MAD Magazine contacted me about submitting
stuff, so I can only assume that they were aware
of my work and liked it on some level.
Logan: Was MAD magazine something
you read as a kid?
Johnny Ryan: Yeah. So, it was a big deal
for me when they finally printed something I did
in the magazine.
Logan: The Portland Mercury recently
refused a Blecky Yuckerella strip from you...
Johnny Ryan: In the strip, Blecky finds
what she thinks is a piece of toilet paper on
the sidewalk. She then starts wiping her ass with
it. It turns out to be a piece of some Arab guy's
turban. I think the PM just thought it was a little
too mean to people who wear turbans, so they didn't
want to run it.
Logan: Did anything come of that Blecky
strip or was The Portland Mercury the only
one that ended up caring?
Johnny Ryan: No, nothing really. It only
showed up on my website, so I'm sure not that
many people noticed.
Logan: So, if you are suddenly murdered,
it will probably be at the hands of Robocop and
not because of that strip?
Johnny Ryan: Yeah, I think there's a better
chance of that happening.