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Johnny Ryan: The MrSkin.com Interview
Do you think cartoonists are nerdy, glasses-wearing geeks? Well, you're not so far off. But those losers who sit chained to their drawing board all day and night are attracting some of the hottest attention in publication today. Forget Batman, Spider-Man, and even Ghost World; the real funny pages are alive with the sound of laughter. Mr. Skin dares you to crack open any one of Johnny Ryan's Angry Youth Comix and not yuk it up.

It's a good thing this bookish-looking giant decided to give up astrophysics and settle into the truly grueling field of comic books. Angry Youth Comix, published by Fantagraphics (FantaGraphics.com), is already up to seven knee-slapping volumes. Ryan's sketchbooks will be out in September, and Blecky Yuckerella, a collection of his weekly strips from the alternative press, is launching in early 2005. Visit him on the web for more exclusive gross-out humor at JohnnyR.com. (Picture: - - - - )

How'd a nice boy like you get involved in the ink trade?
I've been drawing comics off and on since I was a kid. I think I've always just been naturally inclined to do it. I remember instead of writing letters to my friends I used to draw comics about them having crazy adventures. In one of these comic/letters I drew my friend Dave Myers going on The Morton Downey Jr. Show and getting lynched. Remember The Morton Downey Jr. Show? I used to love it.

Although I feel I was naturally inclined towards drawing comics, part of me seemed to try and avoid it. When I went to college I initially went to study astrophysics. Then I switched my major to English. I decided I wanted to be an English or philosophy professor. However, after I graduated I was totally burnt out on the whole school thing. I wanted to try my hand at writing novels and short stories. I wanted to be a serious novelist like William Faulkner. The stuff I was writing was so heavy and overbearing and tedious. It was at this point that I began drawing funny comics again as a kind of release from working on all that serious stuff. Drawing the comics was so much more fun for me than fiction writing, or anything else for that matter. I would send the comics to some of my friends for a laugh, and they all really liked them. They told me to fuck the boring fiction writing stuff. Filthy comics are my true calling. I agreed and at that point decided to put all my efforts into comics.

I self-published about ten issues of Angry Youth Comix between 1994 and 1998. In 1998 I sent my comics to Peter Bagge [Hate comics]. He really liked them and began showing them to my future publisher, Eric Reynolds, and my future wife, Jenny Nixon. I guess you can say Pete got me laid and published! That's pretty fucking amazing when you think about it.

Your work is extreme, gross, and gut-clenchingly funny, but is there anything you'd not make fun of?
Yeah, stuff like coffee and cell phones. I try to steer clear of politics too. That stuff bores the shit out of me.

Bodily fluids are almost characters in your strips. Which is your personal favorite excretion?
Diarrhea is the Darth Vader of the excretory world.

Have you ever done an explicitly sexual comic?
Sure. I've done comics for Screw and Hustler. I've done filthy parodies of newspaper strips, like Dilbert, Popeye, and Peanuts. Although I've done sexually explicit comics, they have no erotic value at all. They're designed to make you laugh or vomit or both.

Do you get aroused drawing those strips?
My artwork is too stupid-looking to arouse anyone.

Talk a bit more about the work you've done for stroke books.
I've only done work for two stroke books, Screw and Hustler. I enjoy working with Kevin Hein over at Screw. I have done some comics and covers for them that they've rejected because they were too offensive. I did a comic for them called "STDs Are Funny". They rejected it because they said that the trannies that buy the ads in the back of the magazine do not think STDs are funny. I also did a cover of a giant penis biting off a woman's head that they refused to run. That one scared Al Goldstein. But, for the most part, Screw has always been pretty good to me. A lot of other up-and-coming comic artists started over at Screw, including Peter Bagge, Kaz, Sam Henderson, and Tony Millionaire. So it's pretty good company to be in.

Working for Hustler was more of a pain in the ass. They put me through a whole gauntlet just to get one stupid gag published in the magazine. And for what I was paid it really wasn't worth all the trouble.

You live with a super-hot redheaded beauty. Are all cartoonists as lucky in love?
How the fuck would I know? Do you think I keep track of where every cartoonist is putting his stupid dick?

Speaking of your dick begs the question, are you a boobs or an ass man?
Please don't make me choose. Can't I like both equally?

In terms of mainstream actresses, who do you get off on?
Are you talking about modern-day actresses? Most of the actresses I find myself attracted to are from older movies, like Ann-Margret (Picture: ) and Sophia Loren (Picture: ).

As for modern-day girls, Thora Birch (Picture: ) in Ghost World was really cute. But I think I'm more attracted to her as Enid Coleslaw than as Thora Birch.

Is there a certain genre, like Italian sex comedies or blaxploitation, that you particularly enjoy?
I do like blaxploitaion movies. Coffy is one of my all-time favorite movies. Pam Grier (Picture: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4) is totally hot. There's also a blaxploitation movie with Isaac Hayes I love called Truck Turner. Nichelle Nichols from Star Trek plays an evil prostitute, and she is fucking hot! I didn't even recognize her at first.

I was also a fan of the Ilsa movies. Those movies had it all! Hot naked broads, like Dyanne Thorne (Picture: 1 - 2 - 3) and Uschi Digard (Picture: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4), graphic over-the-top violence, revenge, sex, Nazis. What more could you ask for?

What about as a kid growing up, do you remember the first time you saw a sex scene in a mainstream movie?
It was probably Stripes. The scene where John Larroquette is ogling the girls in the shower was the first nude scene I ever saw. And the mud-wrestling scene was pretty good too (Picture: 1 - 2).

What other sex scenes fog up your four eyes?
I like Kay Parker in Taboo (Picture: 1 - 2 - 3). That's probably my favorite porn movie of all time.

Do you have any sage words for any youngster out there who may want to toil on the funny pages?
Yes: Do something else.

All illustrations and Johnny Ryan photo courtesy of JohnnyR.com

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