[Editor's note: This is part of a series of interviews I'll be posting that were rescued from WizardUniverse.com's now-defunct archives. Originally posted on August 3, 2007.]
I CAN HAS COMIX?: JOHNNY RYAN
The most controversial man in humor comics talks his upcoming Marvel project, racism, boogers and what it's like to work for both 'Nickelodeon' and 'Hustler'
By Sean T. Collins
The first thing you need to know about Johnny Ryan is that his comics will make you laugh out loud. Hard. Embarrassingly. To the point of distraction for your co-workers. The second thing you need to know about Johnny Ryan is that his comics will make you gasp "Oh my God" and "Holy sh--!" just as loud, hard, embarrassingly and distractingly. The third thing you need to know about Johnny Ryan is that both of these things will probably happen at the same time.
In his signature series Angry Youth Comix, his gross-out humor strip Blecky Yuckerella and his no-holds-barred parody collection The Comic Book Holocaust, Ryan has conducted a one-man jihad against good taste and unfunny funnybooks the likes of which comics has rarely seen before. He combines a pottymouthed penchant for bodily fluids that would delight a 9-year-old with a willingness to violate social taboos about sex, violence, race, religion and gender that makes Dave Chappelle look like Bill Cosby, all drawn in a style reminiscent of something you'd find in Alfred E. Neuman's bookshelf (or bathroom). And ever since signing with Fantagraphics--publisher of Dan Clowes and Love and Rockets--he's been one of the most divisive figures in the alternative comics scene.
With the 13th issue of Angry Youth Comix and the third AYC collection, aptly titled Johnny Ryan's XXX Scumbag Party, hitting stores over the past two weeks, Ryan got up bright and early to dish on the secret inspiration for his craziest characters, the lines he'd never cross and the comics creators who just can't stand him.
WIZARD: First of all, thanks for getting up early in the morning to talk to me.
RYAN: That's okay. I'm up early in the morning every day anyway.
Judging by your comics, it seems like you'd be the type of guy recovering from a massive, massive hangover until about 4 in the afternoon every day.
RYAN: You'd be surprised. I have a pretty nerdy lifestyle. I'm not the party animal that I make myself out to be in the comic. [Laughs]
Yeah, we were wondering around the office what you'd be like: whether you would be reserved and it all comes out in your comics, or whether you were like Harvey Pekar and what you see is what you get.
RYAN: A year or two ago at the San Diego convention, Tom Spurgeon was saying that there were several people who had come up to him at the convention and said, "Do you know what was a really big surprise? It was how normal Johnny Ryan actually seems in person." They expected me to be sitting in my own sh-- and throwing toilet paper and bottles and things at people like I'm some kind of maniac.
Is comics pretty much your only outlet for that side of your personality, to the extent that you have it?
RYAN: I would assume so. I'm a pretty law-abiding citizen. [Laughs]
Speaking of San Diego, I first read your Angry Youth Comix collection Portajohnny there the year it came out. Up until then I'd pretty much thought that funny comic books were an urban myth; I really couldn't think of a time when I had laughed out loud at a comic. I picked up Portajohnny from the Fantagraphics table, sat down to eat lunch, started reading it, and I was just dying. I was laughing out loud, which was unheard of for me.
RYAN: Well, that's good to hear.
I've seen several other interviewers say much the same thing to you. What do you think it is that you're doing right that gets that response from people?
RYAN: Gosh, I don't know. I mean, I always approach my work trying to, I guess, make myself laugh. I'm trying to amuse myself and come up with crazy ideas that amuse me. As a writer of humor, I guess you want that. You want what makes you laugh to make other people laugh. That's the hope. It's just a roll of the dice, and hopefully it'll work.
I know that you're a big fan of Peter Bagge's Hate--when you first decided that this was something you wanted to do, what else was making you laugh at the time?
RYAN: That's a good question. When I first started out I wasn't really reading Hate very much, but probably the Robert Crumb stuff from like the late '60s, early '70s. I really think that nothing can top that as far as amazing, out-of-control humor, especially with the sketchbook stuff. I had picked up one of those German sketchbooks that I think was his work from 1967 to 1970 and it just blew me away how much fun and how crazy it was. When I saw that I was like, "This is what I want to do. I want to do comics that are like this." That was the inspiration.
Beyond comics, are there comedians or films that influenced you?
RYAN: Oh, sure. The Three Stooges. I'm a big fan of the Three Stooges. Those Hal Roach "Our Gang" shows are great. "The Benny Hill Show" was a big influence on me. [Laughs] That's some of them. I also used to read Mad Magazine a lot as a kid. I think that was a big influence as far as parodying and making fun of stuff, which doesn't really happen very much anymore, or at least in comics anyway.
I think that's maybe one of the reasons why Angry Youth Comix took me so much by surprise.
RYAN: I mean, the humor scene in comics is just rough. It's not really--I'm not just saying that because there's slim pickings as far as humor goes, but at least to me it doesn't seem like something that's really welcome anymore. The alternative comics scene seems as if it's concerned with being very literary and high-minded. They have these literary aspirations. They want to be regarded as a high art form, and I guess they…the overall feeling of the whole comics thing with humor, or at least the kind of humor that I'm doing, kinds of brings that down. I'm not going to get that interview on NPR or whatever.
I've definitely heard Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson crow fairly proudly that people will come to him and say, "I like everything that you guys do except Johnny Ryan."
RYAN: [Laughs] Yeah. The thing is, though, that I think it's sort of cooled off. When I first got picked up by them it was pretty overwhelming, the negative reception that I was receiving from comics--or at least from Fantagraphics--fans. It wasn't personal; I wasn't getting letters. But just the reviews and looking on message boards or whatever, the vibe I was getting was negative. I do have to say that I think it's slowly turning around. I feel like because of the time passing, people are a little bit more accepting that I'm a bit more of a staple in the comics scene than I was initially.
Judging simply from the back-cover blurbs on your books, it seems like even if the readers of art comics, or whatever you want to call them, were slow to embrace you, you made fans of the people who actually make those comics pretty quickly.
RYAN: Some of them. I mean, it's not an across-the-board statement, but there are some that are fans of mine and appreciate it. They see what I'm doing and appreciate it.
Do you know who likes you and who doesn't?
RYAN: Well, usually the people that I've communicated with over the years. Gary Panter--I'm a big fan of his and I know that he likes my stuff. Dan Clowes has already been very supportive. The Hernandez brothers. Peter Bagge, of course. I mean, I get the feeling that I'm not on the Top 10 list of Art Spiegelman or Chris Ware or Seth for that matter. Usually, though--and this is probably even true for me--if you don't like someone's stuff, you just don't pay attention to it or comment on it, because you just don't want to get into it. I can usually get the feeling [from people]. I actually asked Eric [Reynolds, Fantagraphics editor] to see if Seth would be interested in doing the introduction to XXX and he turned me down. I thought that it would be kind of funny to mix it up. I said that he could say whatever he wanted, but no.
You did that strip that parodies him.
RYAN: It was sort of inspired by his lifestyle, I guess. [Laughs] And I had heard that he does a slideshow where he shows my comic and talks about how people keep asking him about it and sending him the comic and wanting him to comment on it, and he continues to claim that he's never read it. I heard that after he shows the slide he throws the slide in the garbage. He has this whole thing. I was like, "Well, how about I let you do the introduction to my book? I think that would be kind of funny." It's sort of like when [Dave] Chappelle had Wayne Brady on. He just said, "No. It's not a right fit for me."
You've done a lot of parody work, from superheroes to classic strips to alternative comics. Have you had any other reactions like Seth's, or on the flipside, really positive reactions? How do you feel about that sort of thing? If you get the sense that someone doesn't like what you're doing, does that make you feel good or bad?
RYAN: Well, it depends, I guess. [To answer] the first part of your question there, I had only heard about the whole thing with Seth's slideshow and stuff second- and third-hand. I've never actually seen it and I don't know what, exactly, he says. As far as people approaching me who had a bad reaction, the only people who have reacted to what I've done as far as if I do a parody of them are people that I probably already knew previously and was friendly with, like Peter Bagge or Rick Altergott or Dan Clowes. Dan Clowes actually told me that he didn't think his was mean enough. [Laughs] So it's people that I either already knew or I was already friendly with. As far as people that I didn't know, I never got an unsolicited response from someone that I didn't know who just wrote, "Hey, I just saw your parody of me. You're an assh---" or "I loved it" or whatever. I was getting some people asking me, "Hey, will you parody me?" or "I was very disappointed to see that you didn't do me." So there was that.
And how do you feel when you hear or see someone's outrage about what you've done? Does that feel like a badge of honor or does it make you uncomfortable?
RYAN: It can vary from person to person. It depends. Like, if I was a big huge fan of someone and I find out that they hate me, I guess that my reaction will be, "That's kind of disappointing." But in a way, it kind of frees me up. In a way it's easier, if you don't know the person and aren't friendly with them, to totally slam them. [Laughs] So it's actually a little bit more difficult if I was somewhat friendly with them. If I do find out that someone doesn't like my work or what I'm doing, that almost encourages me to continue. If people make fun of you, you should just kind of wear it, and that way they'll stop.
I saw that Back in Bleck has negative back-cover blurbs.
RYAN: Yeah. I think that out of all of the stuff that I've done, that might be receiving the worst reviews, and for some reason I just thought that it was funny to put those on the back. It didn't just seem like they were bad reviews. It seemed like those people were enraged. [Laughs]
I'm surprised that you haven't gotten even more flack along those lines. I'm not just talking about Seth being upset at you making fun of how old-fashioned he is. A lot of your work is fairly transgressive humor, with racial elements and sexual elements…
RYAN: There've been little things here or there, but nothing that's been really crazy. I think that's just because I'm doing an underground comic, basically. If this was on TV or if this was on the radio I would probably be hearing a lot more negative comments, but this is comics. I only sell a couple thousand copies of it, and because of that I'm not really going to get the same kind of attention that those other mediums get.
Do you ever worry that there will be some sort of fluke situation like the Gordon Lee case, where a retailer accidentally gave a copy of a Nick Bertozzi comic to a kid and there was nudity in it and now he's been taken to court? Not so much that you have a national forum like Don Imus or something, but that maybe it'll get into the wrong hands and someone might choose to make an issue out of it?
RYAN: Well, I guess that's just a bridge that you'd have to cross when you come to it. I just see myself as an artist. I'm a cartoonist. I'm drawing what I think is funny and saying what I want to say in my comics. I'm just putting them out there, and as far as who gets them, I don't really have any control over that. I guess that I would feel bad, and I would hope that stores would realize that this is adult material. I'm not making it for kids.
A title like Johnny Ryan's XXX Scumbag Party will probably help out.
RYAN: Yeah. That's for the kids. They'll definitely be like, "I have to read this thing." [Laughs]
That's maybe the best comic book title that I've ever read.
RYAN: Oh, thanks. I initially wanted to call it Let's Be Assh---s, but Eric said that we would have distribution problems. I'm hoping that maybe within the next 10 years or so things will get a little bit more liberal and I'll be able to use that title.
I always find that sort of thing funny. When we run interviews with people who curse, we have a style as to how we abbreviate sh-- or f--- or whatever. It reminds me of how when you say "assh---" on television, they bleep out the word "hole," but you can say "ass." It's interesting to me that the actual "hole" is the offensive part.
RYAN: Depending on what channel you're watching and what show you're watching…I was watching that Kathy Griffin show last night and she was at the Gay Porn Awards, and I was amazed at what they were getting away with. It was like "up the ass" and "dick"...I thought, "Wow."
I guess it's about context. Speaking of which, I believe XXX Scumbag Party is the first big Johnny Ryan release in the post-Imus, post-Opie and Anthony era. Thinking about it in that light, there are some people who can do really edgy stuff and more or less get away with it-- Sarah Silverman, Dave Chappelle, "South Park"--and other people can't--Imus, O&A. I was wondering if you have any thoughts on why that is.
RYAN: I'm not really sure. I guess that it has a lot to do with whether or not people like you. [Laughs] Or if someone has a bug up their ass against you and is willing to fill out the forms and bring you down. But there's more to being funny than just cursing and using racism and all of that sort of thing. I think that you still have to be creative about it and come up with a funny joke about it and not just say "sh--" and "g--k" or whatever and think that people are going to laugh at it.
I think that's one of the things that's undersold about your work: There's all the dirty stuff, obviously, but it's also so weird. A strip will start in one way and then it'll end up being about something completely different. There's a fairly epic example of that in XXX Scumbag Party: the strip called "Dry Gulch Follies 2005," which starts with Sinus O'Gynus getting a babysitting job and ends with a gigantic robot prostitute giving the moon a sexually transmitted disease.
RYAN: I think that's one of the things that makes comics fun for me, and I guess it's also just a part of my sense of humor. It's that surreal element to my work. It's sort of nonsense that I find funny, where it starts somewhere and who knows where it's going to go and what kind of characters you're going to meet and what weirdness is going to happen?
The quality of the art in your stuff also doesn't get talked about enough. I went through the three Angry Youth Comix collections and the two Blecky Yuckerella books, I was just watching the progression of your line as it thickens and gets more and more lush and more self-assured. It's really lovely.
RYAN: Well, that's something that I'm actually pretty proud of, as far as where I began. If you look in the back of the Portajohnny book, there's a really early Loady McGee comic that I drew in 1992 or '93, and you look at how retarded it looks. It looks like I drew it with a pen in my ass or something. And how I moved from then to now--I'm always trying to improve and get better. I'm not always really sure exactly where I'm going; I just know that I want it to look clean and cartoony. I always feel like I'm practicing and trying to improve and get better all the time. I never really feel like, "Oh, this is exactly where I want to be."
If you had to pinpoint one person as an influence for your artistic style as opposed to your comedic style, who would it be?
RYAN: Gosh, one person for my style. I'm not really sure. I mean, I want to say a cartoony style like Ernie Bushmiller or Al Jaffee. For the most part I would say that. But as far as the actual content, that would be Robert Crumb.
I guess that style helps you bridge several different worlds, because you've obviously done clean, all-ages humor comics for Nickelodeon Magazine and things like that. How hard is shifting those gears in your head?
RYAN: It's not really hard at all. With my comics I'm doing exactly what I want to do with the stories that I want to tell and all of that, but for Nickelodeon, they're hiring me to do a job. When you're doing stuff for kids, they like that same kind of vibe that my comic has as far as the weirdness and the nonsense and the goofball aspects of it. That same sort of spirit I put into the comics for kids; it's just not sex or violence. It's like Christmas and pizza and boogers and barf. That's sort of what kids like, and I just bring that over into the kid world. Even when I do my comics for adults I think that there's still that same childish spirit that I bring to it, but instead of those things that kids are interested in, I do stuff that's more for the adults.
Have you been working long enough that you've had kids come up to you who started reading your things at Nickelodeon and then moved on to--
RYAN: No, I haven't. [Laughs] I haven't experienced that crossover yet with the Nickelodeon fans. I'm assuming that kids are enjoying what I'm doing in Nickelodeon Magazine. That's what I'm being told, but I've never received any comments from kids personally that say, "Hey, I've been reading your stuff in Nickelodeon and I love seeing your stuff in there." I haven't experienced that yet.
Are you looking forward to it?
RYAN: Oh, I mean, it's always nice to hear if someone likes your work or not, whoever it is, unless they're a total assh---. Then it's kind of depressing.
There doesn't seem to be any kind of self-censoring mechanism in your work. While that's true of several other cartoonists I can think of--Crumb is a good example, obviously, or someone like Joe Matt doing comics about his porn collection--for the most part they tend to be geared inward at themselves.
RYAN: Well, that's an interesting point that you bring up, because you're bringing up two autobio comics artists, for the most part. At least the later Crumb years are mostly autobio stuff, and that's a real prevalent genre right now. People are always talking about their lives, and it almost seems like a competition between all these autobio artists to reveal the most humiliating and degrading and embarrassing thing that they can in their life. It seems more about that than "Okay, I want to tell a story and make it compelling and interesting and funny." For me, I don't feel like I'm trying to do that same kind of confessional-type thing. I feel like I'm just trying to make people laugh. But I also don't want to do any self-censoring because there's things that make me laugh and that I think make other people laugh, but they're ashamed to let other people, or the majority of Americans, know about it. "If everyone knew the horrible, awful things that I laugh at, they'd be disgusted with me. I laughed at someone farting, so people will look at me like an idiot or a fool." Or whatever sort of transgressive or disturbing piece of humor. So I try not to censor myself in that way. That was the whole point of the Comic Book Holocaust book. I was going to put down whatever popped into my head, no matter how horrible it was. As long as I just thought that it was funny to me I was going to put it down, no matter how disturbing or horrible other people thought that it was. That was the whole point of that.
In some ways, it reminds of driving in your car and singing along to some horribly misogynistic and violent hip-hop song.
And you're dropping N-words and B-words and cussing left and right and talking about killing undercover policemen.
RYAN: Or the latest G.G. Allin record.
That's another good comparison. But at the same time you and I are both raised-Catholic, white, straight, American guys, and we have it pretty easy compared to a lot of the groups lampooned in your comics.
RYAN: Right. Well, the thing is that I see myself basically as a comedian making jokes. I don't have some sort of political agenda as far as, like, I'm making fun of black people because they're stupid and they shouldn't have the same rights as white people. I'm not standing on a soapbox here. I'm just making jokes and trying to elicit laughter. I think that people have the ability to laugh at horrible things and yet still not go out and murder people, not be influenced to kill and discriminate and be an awful person. I'm not going to cause people to be horrible, awful people. If they're already horrible and awful, it's not me that's going to inspire them.
So in your view, you're not a racist or misogynist or a homophobe or any of those things?
RYAN: I don't think so. I mean, those are usually terms that…I think if someone feels that I'm a racist or a misogynist, that's their right to think so. Personally, I don't think that I am.
You say that you don't have a reactionary political agenda, but on the flipside, would you also say that you don't have the agenda pointing that stuff out to make fun of it or lessen its power?
RYAN: No. I don't think that I have that agenda either, as far as "I'm going to use the word n----- over and over again until the word has no meaning" or something like that. I think that the word is always going to pretty much have some meaning. You can't get rid of it. It's always going to be there. That's sort of the point of using it, because it's so jarring. I like to incorporate that troublemaking aspect into my humor. For some reason it's exciting for me, when I'm drawing my comic, to think, "What can I do to really get people?" I try to use that shock element, I guess. Usually people use that as a derogatory term when dealing with movies or with any kind of art, but I think that it does have its place if used correctly.
There's something exciting about it.
RYAN: Sure. Growing up as a teenager and watching a lot of those exploitation movies from the '70s, I always thought those were really exciting and oftentimes more exciting than a lot of the mainstream stuff that they were showing. I wanted to use those kinds of elements in my work. It's fun. It's the same for the Surrealists from the early part of the last century. They were using a lot of that imagery just to really jar and shock people. For some reason it just makes the work exciting for me if I know that this is going to make people a little bit uneasy.
Do you feel like you've ever gone too far in that direction?
RYAN: If I have, I can't think of any point. There have been moments when my wife has gone, "I don't know about that." [Laughs] Sometimes I listen, and other times I'm like, "F--- it. I've got this gut feeling that I need to follow this through."
In terms of a politicized reaction to your stuff, have you gotten a harder time from conservatives or liberals, or is that anything you've even noticed?
RYAN: Maybe from liberals more. I don't know the statistics on this, but I think that's because most people that read alternative comics are more of the liberal outlook, so I'm mostly hearing a lot of stuff from liberals. The more liberal and literary bookworms they are, the more they dislike my stuff. And the racism and all of that stuff usually makes them uneasy. Sometimes I'll even get a positive review, like recently in The Comics Journal I got a pretty good review for The Comic Book Holocaust, but they were still mentioning how uneasy the racist stuff made them. I think that it's more the liberals who get more uneasy about it.
I think the first context in which I heard of your work before I'd read it was the reaction to the "Gaytroit" strip, where a gay Captain America-type character kills terrorists using his "AIDS Breath."
RYAN: Right. Well, that pretty much went nowhere. They were going on and on about how they were going to boycott Fantagraphics and they were going to picket, they were really going to go crazy and bring the whole company down until I was punished, and they were going to call GLAAD and all of this other stuff. It eventually just became nothing. They were pretty much calling me "the No. 1 Homophobe in Comics" or something like that, and I think that there's a lot worse examples than me. Like those Preacher comics. Have you ever read that thing? I was amazed. When I read it I was like, "Whoever wrote this is obviously gay." But it was written where all of the bad guys were gay and wanted to rape everything. It was sort of amazing that they were going to pick me over this guy. Gimme a break.
You've created several memorable characters. The first that come to mind are Sinus O'Gynus and Loady McGee, the stars of Angry Youth Comix. I've always wondered if they were your stab at like a "Beavis and Butt-Head" thing.
RYAN: No. When I came up with these characters it was little bit before "Beavis and Butt-Head." "Beavis and Butt-Head" came on and I was like, "Ah, sh--. They're stealing all of my jokes." I've since come to really like that cartoon, but I think that the dynamic is different. Mine is sort of the jerk and the wimp, whereas "Beavis and Butt-Head" is two jerks. [Laughs] Loady is a jerk and a bully and Sinus just kind of takes it. Plus, Beavis and Butt-Head are just stupid and they're always laughing and they seem to be having a good time. Loady is like always on a mission and is always in some kind of rage. And that's not to say that either me or "Beavis and Butt-Head" are the first to do the duo-type cartoons.
Were they based on anything, or were they conjured out of the ether of your brain?
RYAN: Everything comes from something, but I guess it's a sort of combination of different elements. Loady McGee came from a couple of different things. I guess it's a sort of combination of Butch from "The Little Rascals" and Vivian from "The Young Ones" and this kid that I went to high school with who had the worst acne that I've ever seen in my life. Sinus came from another kid that I went to high school with. I think that was just sort of my inner wimp too, or something--I don't know. [Laughs] The physical attributes of Sinus came from this kid that I went to high school with.
Next up is Blecky Yuckerella, who's your spoof of a "children's strip" character. You can see the roots of that with Little Lulu and Nancy and things like that.
RYAN: That actually came directly from this comic that I found at some comic stand in Seattle called The Little Monsters. I just picked it up and I saw this cover. It was some Gold Key comic, and the Little Monsters were these two boy and girl little Frankensteins. On the cover were these two little Frankenstein dudes, and in the back was a really mean-looking little girl. It was kind of like Blecky, with the curly blond hair and the little girl suit and the shoes and whatever, but she had a five o'clock shadow and a mono-brow. I was like, "Oh, my God, this looks like it could be the most amazing character that I've ever seen." So I bought the comic and I read it. I was kind of disappointed to find out that the story was about this midget mobster who wants to go into hiding, so he dresses up like a little girl and goes hide with the little monsters. I was like, "Oh, this isn't like some sort of transvestite-child type thing?" I thought I had to incorporate this into my work and do something with it, and create this transvestite monster child that actually has more of an upbeat attitude. That's kind of where it came from.
I can see how it not being a transvestite child would be an enormous disappointment.
RYAN: Yeah. I was sort of like, "Oh, my God. This is the most amazing character I've ever seen--and in a Gold Key comic!" So, yeah, I was sort of disappointed.
I guess she's mostly appeared in Vice Magazine, correct?
RYAN: Well, I initially started the script for the Portland Mercury. They asked me to come up with a strip, and I had this character and I thought, "Ah, I'll give it a shot." I was in the Portland Mercury with that strip for 4 years before they f---ing dropped me, pretty unceremoniously, for some new strip that is absolutely horrible, which added insult to injury. I would then color them and they would reprint them in Vice, but I've since stopped running them in Vice. I'm doing other projects for Vice. They have me do these full one-page things instead now.
How is your working relationship with them, as opposed to your working relationship with Mad or Nickelodeon or things like that?
RYAN: Well, Nickelodeon is definitely the best as far as working. [Nick's] Chris Duffy is the best editor. He's very easy to work with. I've worked with, like you said, Mad, and I've done stuff for Hustler and National Geographic Kids, but I feel like he gets my humor and he likes my humor and I have a real place in the magazine now. Vice is good too. They've always been pretty supportive of my stuff. But I have to say that our relationship is a little bit more contentious because we're always arguing about stuff.
About what? Content?
RYAN: God. It's retarded, the things that we're yelling at each other about. Well, they did that all-comics issue last year [which I guest-edited], and that was kind of a headache. It was just sort of like they wanted certain cartoonists in there, and I was like, "I don't want those people in there." It was just this back and forth. And a few years ago I was asked to do a one-page comic for the American Indian-themed issue. I asked the editor what the rules were and he said, "No penises and no Nazis." So I drew a comic called "Chief Sitting Bullsh-- vs. Nazi Penis." And they didn't run it. [Laughs] For the most part, though, they've always been good. Because they have Vice in the U.S. and they're spreading out and now each country has its own Vice, I've been doing comics for all of these other countries, for all the other Vice magazines. I think it started when there was a Vice France and they asked me to do a comic that totally insulted the French people, so I did a page of gags that were insulting to the French. All of a sudden it started this avalanche of all these other countries being like, "Oh, do us!" So I had to do one for Italy. I had to do one for Spain. Then I had Germany on the line, and they were like, "Ah, forget it." That would've been like the easiest one to hammer out.
Yeah. You kind of know exactly where to go with the Germans.
RYAN: I think there's stuff there that you can't make fun of. In the French one I was making of fun of them with stuff like them being f---ed in the ass by Hitler and things like that. That's okay in France. But I don't think that you can even show a picture of Hitler in Germany.
Angry Youth Comix #13 and XXX Scumbag Party just hit stores over the past two weeks. What's the next thing that you have coming out?
RYAN: Right now, today, I'm working on this thing--Marvel Comics is starting this Marvel Underground series, and I'm sure you know that they have underground artists doing their take on different Marvel characters. I did a couple of pages for that. I'm working on that right now.
That was probably going to be my last question, given our readership. Obviously, a lot of the stuff that eventually ended up in Comic Book Holocaust took aim at Marvel's material. I was wondering if you ever heard from Marvel about that.
RYAN: No, I didn't. Someone else recently interviewed me specifically about this underground Marvel thing, and I even mentioned The Comic Book Holocaust and how I'd done the parodies of the different characters, and I never heard anything. The editor of this particular series is Aubrey Sitterson, and he seems like a young guy who's just starting out there. He's a fan of mine, where I don't know how the old guard feels about that stuff. When I worked with him previous to this on that Stan Lee Meets thing--they did this whole series of tributes about Stan Lee and I did something for that. And he knew about the Mad Magazine where I had done a strip called "The Fantastic Four Has a Crap-Tastic Couple of Weeks" a while back. And even at that point he was saying, "Don't let the other guys see that you did that or send up any of that art, because they don't want to see that." I don't know if he's keeping that stuff from them or what, I don't know what's going on over there, but as far as he goes, he likes my stuff and he wants me to do some work, so that's fine with me.
Am I blowing your cover here, then?
RYAN: Who cares? [Laughs]