R.I.P. Paul Ryan (1949 – 2016)
Artist Paul Ryan has passed away at the age of 66. You hear about comic creators dying and while they are all sad, this one hit me harder than most. I met Paul at least once or twice at conventions and was always happy to see and talk with him.
Paul drew the 2nd comic I ever bought, which was D.P. 7 #2. I would eventually go on to collect the entire series. It is one of my favourite comics of my youth. Paul drew all 32 issues of the comic but Lee Weeks drew the D.P. 7 Annual. The entire New Universe line of books were panned back in the day, but many noted that D.P. 7 was easily the best of the bunch and is fondly remembered by fans like myself.
Paul and D.P. 7 writer Mark Gruenwald worked together on the first 6 issues of Quasar. While I didn’t collect it I did buy the odd issue, particularly the issue that had Quasar go to the New Universe and visit the D.P. 7 cast of characters. I’ve never had any desire to buy original art but I had a serious look at Paul’s D.P. 7 pages. If I saw something I really liked for a decent price I likely would have bought it. Sadly most of the good pages I would have been interested in had been bought already.
Paul’s most famous 80’s comic was The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21, which featured the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. I also enjoyed Paul’s run on Fantastic Four with Tom DeFalco in the 90s. I know those comics get a bad rap but they were fun, fast paced, popcorn reading. At the time comic industry sales were crashing and if I remember Dan Ravi’s Comic Wars correctly the editors were put under immense pressure to increase sales every quarter in spite of this. DeFalco (who was then the Editor in Chief) and Ryan did their best to do entertaining stories while keeping the upstairs people happy. Their run was filled with with gimmick covers, shocking revelations (Alicia is really a Skrull named Lyja the Lazerfist!), costume changes and more. Paul would go on to draw many more comics for Marvel, DC and other publishers.
Paul had been drawing the Phantom newspaper strip since 2005 and I always happy that he found solid, steady work as he fell out of flavour in comic books. Sadly, many artists do not and are heavily reliant on the convention circuit and fan commissions to support themselves. Many more just don’t get any more work in comics and have to go into some other field. Paul’s consistency and clarity in telling a story were among the qualities that lead to him having a long and successful career in comics.