If you like your comics filthy and furious, to give you that feeling of dirt under your nails, there’s a good chance you’ll be a Johnny Ryan fan.
Perhaps best known for his blistering, equal-opportunities-offending series Angry Youth Comix – Johnny is a master of twisted humour and bold visuals. His ultra-violent Prison Pit comics, now a series of short animations, have become a cult hit; bringing illustration, comic and cartoon fans together in a bloody pulp of monster brains and bruised knuckles.
In a crossover that would no doubt scare conservative parents around the world, Johnny has also thrilled kids for years with regular strips in Nickelodeon Magazine – no doubt priming them for a life hooked to underground comics. We caught up with Johnny to see what keeps him creating after nearly two decades making comics.
Hi Johnny, what are you up to at the moment?
I’m working on a TV show at Nickelodeon with Dave Cooper called Pig Goat Banana Cricket.
We’ve always seen your style as an evolution of grungy, early 90s, underground illustration. Is that fair? How would you describe your style?
That sounds about right.
Unlike in other art forms, visual trends in comics aren’t often grouped in waves. But do you feel any kinship with other artists of your generation?
Not really. When I was coming up auto-bio and art comics were all the rage. I was an ugly anomaly.
There’s a wave of young artists such as Kyle Platts, Sam Taylor and Alex Schubert who’ve got a similar bold, anarchic style. Do you know their work?
Yes. Alex actually lives near by me. All those guys are doing cool stuff.
You’ve been making comics for nearly two decades right? How has the indie side of comics changed in that time?
Well, I think there’s a lot more acceptance of filthy humor and genre comics in the alt scene, that wasn’t there when I was starting out.
How do you stay excited about making comics after all this time?
It’s tough. But I usually try and think about what would be most fun to draw. That’s how I started the Prison Pit series. I was feeling like just drawing guys fighting.
And what’s next for you? What should readers be keeping an eye out for?
Pig Goat Banana Cricket later this year…. And Prison Pit 6 someday….