QUICK QUESTIONS WITH Alan Ryan
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION TO COMICS?
Hello there, I’m Alan Ryan, a cartoonist and illustrator based in Dublin. I write and draw a weekly(ish) comic strip called Faraday the Blob that you can find online at www.FaradaytheBlob.com.
WHAT COMIC ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Faraday is an ongoing thing, so I’m always working on that in one shape or form. At the moment I’m also working on a long form comic about Mulligan P.I., the reluctant dog detective who has featured once or twice on my site and ‘Upgrade my Heart’, a short, wordless B&W comic about a forlorn robots.
WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
I love the moment when you’re really immersed in a really good page and you look up and five hours have just disappeared. I also love how comics give you the freedom to basically dream up anything you like, stick it on a page and bring it to life. It’s great making contact with other cartoonists and creative people as well.
WHAT’S THE WORST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
I’ll probably be killed for saying this, but it’s when dastardly real-life starts lifin’ it up all over my lovely comic making time. I’d be drawing the whole time if they let me, but they don’t let me. ‘The baby needs food’ apparently; sheesh.
HOW DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER COMICS?
I don’t remember a single moment of discovery, but then I do have a terrible memory. Comics always seemed to be there somehow – starting with the Beano I suppose. After that I moved on to Oink!, which I lived and breathed like a crazed pint-sized junkie for it’s whole all-too-brief run, and then on to 2000AD and whatnot. I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t either reading one or trying to draw one :)
WHO IS THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WORK?
Jeremy Banx who drew for Oink! comic was a big influence on me growing up, I’d always look for his pages first whenever a new issue came out; I just loved everything he did. And it wasn’t till I re-read the amazing ‘Fungus the Bogeyman’ as an adult that I realised just how much of an influence Eric Briggs has been. Latterly it’s been Jim Woodring’s work that I’ve been most inspired by – it’s truly unique and his ability to conjure up a sense of weirdly antique wonder and mystery with a few wiggly black lines is incredible. Other influences would be Tom Patterson and Kev O’Neill, particularly his Nemesis stuff.
WHAT TOOLS OF THE TRADE DO YOU USE?
Pencils (2B – 4H), brushes and Indian ink, Rotring Rapidographs for fine detail work, and a Wacom Intuos for the digital bits. I also have a notebook that I’m never too far from – ideas are so fleeting they usually have to be captured straight away and pinned squealing to its pages, or lost forever. Oh, and tea – I couldn’t make comics without lots of tea.
WHAT IS THE SINGLE WORK OF WHICH YOU ARE MOST PROUD?
I’m proud of the fact that I’ve consistently managed to get a comic up on my website for the past few years without compromising on quality (in my opinion anyway!). Beyond that I have a feeling the single work I’m most proud of is still waiting to be made.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
A designer friend (hello Dan!) suggested that I draw my ‘sound effects’ by hand instead of using a computer font which has had a great impact on the look and feel of my comics, but beyond that I haven’t received much of what you’d call proper advice down the years on any aspect of my life, and next to none regarding comics… I either look like I know what I’m doing, or look like I’m beyond hope – haven’t figured out which yet.
WHAT IS THE WORST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
Hrm… I can’t think of any one thing that I’d look back on and go ‘Wish I hadn’t listened to so-and-so’. I’m sure most advice is meant well at the time.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CURRENT IRISH COMIC SCENE?
I wasn’t aware there was much of a scene until a couple of years ago, but from what I can see it seems to be in good nick and improving all the time. I have met one or two Irish comic creators and bantered with a few luminaries online and it does seem to be going places. There certainly is bags of talent here.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN IRISH COMICS IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
I’d like to see Irish comics continue to grow confidence and ambition. I’d love to see a breakthrough indie title or graphic novel emerging from Ireland in the next few years and make a mark internationally. With all the talent and dedication we have here I can definitely see it happening.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN COMICS IN GENERAL IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
The rise in digital publishing is inexorable and it will be fascinating to see what it’ll do for comics, but I hope that printed works don’t die out completely. I definitely want to see comics and graphic novels continue to filter into mainstream media and the wider public consciousness. The format has unique strengths for storytellers, and the ability to communicate sometimes complex ideas simply and beautifully.
WHAT WAS THE LAST COMIC THAT MADE AN IMPACT ON YOU?
‘Alan’s War’ by Emmanuel Guibert. It’s the WW2 memoir of an American soldier, Alan Cope, as told to Guibert through conversation and correspondence. Cope had an unorthodox wartime adventure by conventional narrative standards, so what we get is a fairly gentle, offbeat tale brought to life by absolutely stunning artwork. Every time I open the book I’m amazed – I can’t recommend it highly enough.
FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO START MAKING THEIR OWN COMICS? (And don’t say DON’T : ) )
DON’T …shy away from big or crazy ideas, the world needs more of those. Don’t try to second guess what people want to read – do it for yourself first and foremost and then get the work out there and see what happens. Embrace positive and negative criticism equally and learn from both.
ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?
Have a good time… all the time.
Alan Ryan is a cartoonist and illustrator living in Dublin. He writes and draws a regular comic strip called ‘Faraday the Blob’ which appears online and is working on a few other comics and bits and bobs which will hopefully see the light of day before the world ends next year. He enjoys cups of tea and talking about himself in the third person. He is delighted to meet you.
Read his comics at :: www.FaradaytheBlob.com.
Contact :: Alotron at gmail dot com