Saturday, April 30, 2016

Paul Ryan - Artist Supreme!


I liked the art of Paul Ryan right from the get-go. Sometimes I admit I have to warm to a new talent, but there was something about the no-nonsense straight-forward storytelling style of Ryan which appealed to me immediately. His work was free of the bombast and hyperbole which infected so many of his peers in the late 80's and 90's. The school of art inspired by Image washed over the industry almost totally, but it never touched Ryan. Working in tandem with Tom DeFalco and often with inker Danny Bulanadi, Ryan produced some of the sleekest comics of the era. While many decry his epic run on the Fantastic Four (five years or so) I loved it and it remains one of my favorite eras for the team which has fallen on hard times of late.

(Paul Ryan's first published work under a Paul Gulacy cover.)
Ryan started in comics older than many do, and comics remain a young man's domain by and large. He was slated to debut in Charlton Bullseye, that company's last-ditch effort to produce new material (albeit by fans) before they finally wrapped up operations. A story by Ryan called "Breed" was picked up by Bill Black and saw publication in a one-shot titled Starmasters which sports a handsome Paul Gulacy cover. This led to Ryan getting gigs as an inker at Marvel and soon he was the regular artist on the New Universe title DP7, the one written by Mark Gruenwald which most fans (me included) think was the the best book in that batch. Later Ryan stepped in to finish up Gruenwald's epic Squadron Supreme run.  Gruenwald used Ryan and his new partner Danny Bulanadi on Quasar, one of my all-time favorite titles and a rarity as it was about a smiling hopeful hero in 90's. Eventually Ryan found common cause with DeFalco and along with artist Ron Frenz and Pat Olliffe formed a kind of studio of sorts that produced handsome comics which thrummed with a classic vibe.


After the Fantastic Four job went to hotshots at Image, Ryan found work at DC and eventually became the main artist on The Phantom, a thankless job in the United States, but one which Ryan was ideal for and which I'm sure brought him great fame worldwide. Paul Ryan was a damn great artist and he died too young. Here are some of my favorite Ryan covers.  Enjoy!
































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4 comments:

  1. Loved his work on FF, Avengers, and Iron Man. After his stint on FF, the mag went downhill for a while, I thought.

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    1. Like so many reliable talents who brought craftsmanship and stability to titles he is regarded by some as a hack I'm sure, not unlike Sal Buscema, Irv Novick, Bob Brown, and many others.

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  2. I too enjoyed Paul Ryan's work on FF. As you said it was underrated. There were some really good stories in that run and The inclusion of Ant-Man was fun. I thought his work on Squadron Supreme and on Iron Man with Byrne writing were also really good runs. Quasar is really a missed gem. That was a good book. Never read DP7 but now I may have to scrounge up a copy.

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    1. Quasar rarely if ever gets referenced anymore and I thought it might just have been the best book Marvel published in the 90's not crafted by Busiek and/or Perez. Gruenwald's scripts were smart and mindful of the larger Marvel Universe without being slave to it. And Ryan's artwork got it off to a grand start. Brett Blevins was a great replacement and Greg Capullo was a revelation.

      DP7 is really really good. I didn't follow it as it ran but gathered a complete New Universe collection (for pennies) and found it quite nice. It would make a damn good movie.

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