RYAN YOUNT: TWENTY QUESTIONS
One night, walking the town, not being able to sleep since the last pot of coffee, I looked in a shop window and saw me a comic. It caught my eye like one of those little pointy hook latches that used to dangle on your porch screen doors? The kind that would fly up whenever you banged the door too hard? Caught my eye, just like that. That book I saw was “Scurvy Dogs.” The guy who writes and draws it is Ryan Yount. Here’s his Twenty Questions:
1. Everybody knows that you’re the “problem-solver” over at San Francisco’s premier comic book shop, Isotope: the Comic Book Lounge. Everybody knows you’re the production co-ordinator and submissions editor for the publishing house AiT/Planet Lar. Tell Comic Book Resources something about you or “Scurvy Dogs” that not everyone knows.
Ryan Yount: I was born in San Francisco in April of 1979. I grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills, digging holes, climbing trees, and chopping wood. I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of San Francisco, and decided to enter into the world of neuropsychological imaging research. I lost the love for it, however, and came back to comics through my best friend James Sime, proprietor of Isotope. I’ve drawn since I was a boy, but have never had any formal art training.
2. What’s the worst thing your parents think you’ve ever done? It doesn’t necessarily have to be the worst thing that you’ve actually ever done, but what’s the worst thing your parents think you’ve ever done?
Ryan Yount: I couldn’t even guess what the worst thing my parents think I’ve ever done is…but I’m pretty sure it’s not as bad as the worst thing I’ve actually done. That just speaks to the trust and belief my parents have in me. Of course, they could be at home right now, just worrying about me driving around drunk in a musclecar, having unprotected sex with prostitutes and snorting enough blow to kill a horse…all while not wearing my seatbelt.
3. Just what exactly is “Scurvy Dogs” and where did that come from? What is it that co-writer Andrew Boyd brings to the deck?
Ryan Yount: “Scurvy Dogs” is a pirate-adventure-humor comic. It is, in actuality, the funniest pirate comic ever. The whole thing started as a joke, a pirate joke, with my buddy Andrew Boyd. Last year, we decided that the silly pirate-jokes we were lobbing back-and-forth should be turned into a mini-comic. But 200 pages of pirate jokes later, we decided that we ought to just go ahead and publish a full-size 24 page issue. Andrew is the other half of our “Scurvy Dogs” brain; in a lot of ways, he’s even more wacky than I am. Our senses-of-humor jibe really well; we push each other to be funny. But we also act to check ourselves…”nah, that joke isn’t really that funny”…”that’s funny, but too offensive”…”nobody will understand that one”…stuff like that. It’s a blast to work with Andrew — our writing sessions consist of the two of us just trying to make the other one laugh … most of it ends up happening when we’re hanging out drinking in bars, or chillin’ at the Isotope–totally informal.
4. The “Scurv” has been wildly well-received within the comic book industry, already, and you’ve leveraged some mainstream publicity with it. Stardom appears right around the corner. What’s the best advice you’ve received about coping with the celebrity lifestyle?
Ryan Yount: I’ve been told not to rush out and spend my money on a Corvette with a trunk full of coke, and then wrap that ‘Vette around a telephone post. “Personal experience,” he said.
5. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Ryan Yount: A Research Assistant position. ‘Nuff said.
6. What’s tougher? That job? Or creating comics?
Ryan Yount: Well, I obviously love creating comics so much, it doesn’t matter if it’s tougher than my worse job, ’cause I LOVE IT! Just like I would rather spend all day sanding and priming my car than executing statistical analysis programs. Sanding and priming is hard fucking work, but there’s a much bigger sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
7. Give us Ryan Yount’s relationship tips — the condensed version.
Ryan Yount: Somewhere out there in this great big world is someone who will “get you.” — And you will “get them.” Find that person. Love them. Be happy.
8. What’s love got to do with it? Got to do with it?
Ryan Yount: Everything, I suppose, or they never would have written songs about it. Listen to more Motown records, and pay attention to what they’re saying.
9. Was your move to comics a loss to the world of science?
Ryan Yount: Probably…whatever I do, I want to do my job the best that I can. I would’ve done good work. In the end, though, to last long enough to make a difference, you not only have to be good at what you do, but you have to be driven to do it. And it’s comics that gets me fired up.
10. What simple thing does the regular joe fail to understand about the world of comics?
Ryan Yount: That it’s hard work. Sounds simple, but it’s not. This is where 99% of folks drop the ball — they’ve written or drawn maybe a few pages, and just can’t bring themselves over the “hump.” No secrets, just hard work. Doing comics is both one of the easiest ways to tell a story, and one of the biggest time and energy consuming tasks I’ve ever known. But again I’ll liken it to working on a car, and to the custom car and hot rod world. It’s hard work swapping an engine into a car. It’ll take at least a weekend, and the process will try your patience, as well as your intellect and muscles. But man is it worth it! I mean, it’s easy to buy car mags and talk about cars and go to car shows — it’s another thing altogether to have your own hot rod. To build a car up or craft a comic to completion with your own two hands, that’s hard work.
Ryan Yount: I have no regrets. Never have, and I plan on never having any.
12. So: pirates? You’re gonna get this as much as I get “Why the astronauts?” and Mike Myers gets “Why Sixties spymasters?” So I’ll be the first one to ask: why pirates?
Ryan Yount: Well, with Andrew and me, and obviously with Larry and with Mike Myers, there’s a love and fascination with the chosen subject themes. I think it’s pretty apt to bring up Mike Myers and the “Austin Powers” movies, they parallel what we are doing with pirates. Watching those movies, it seems that Mike just sat around coming up with all these great spy jokes, and then wrote scenarios around the joke. Kind of like coming up with all your punchlines, and then writing the setup. It’s the same with “Scurvy Dogs”; we have pages and pages full of gags, which we then end up trying to write in to the scripts. Pirates, as a theme, are great material. There’s a built-in preoccupation with violence due to the nature of their lives. Also, especially now, the “pirate-life,” seems so strange and abstract, it invites a novel interpretation (e.g., PIRATE HIJINKS!). The clothes, the speech, the lifestyle, it gives you a lot to play with. And, you know, “PIRATES ARE THE NEW MONKEYS.”
13. How have you and your family suffered for your art?
Ryan Yount: Yes. Shit happens. I certainly wouldn’t want to take anything away from someone who met artistic success without getting a scratch, but to me, a little suffering for your art is to be expected. I’ve been lucky, in that my folks, through everything I’ve ever done, have not only supported me, but made a point of supporting my artistic ventures. But, yes. Suffering.
14. This isn’t journalism; it’s entertainment. Tell us a pop-culture reference you always use, but no one gets.
Ryan Yount: Well, I seem to always be talking about the 80’s Hal Needham directed bmx bike movie “Rad,” but so far my attempt at scripting a story where our pirate heroes are forced to enter a winner-take-all bmx bike race have been vetoed. Someday. As far as a pirate-culture reference goes, nobody seems to get the term matelou. They’re just gonna have to look it up.
15. You go into the Comic Book Deli and order “the Ryan Yount.” What kind of sandwhich is it?
Ryan Yount: Oh man, well, let’s see…pastrami, salami, ham, bacon, turkey, jack, provolone, swiss, cheddar, mustard, deli mustard, mayonnaise, all on sourdough.
16. Tell us something you wouldn’t ordinarily mention on a first date.
Ryan Yount: I enjoy listening to Neil Diamond.
Ryan Yount: More like lots of little defining moments, those points in life where I’ve come to a crossroads and either continued on ahead or started down another path. ‘Course, I’m still a young guy, and I suppose I could have a single life-defining moment. I’ll let you know when it happens.
18. Will you name every one of your children “George Foreman”?
Ryan Yount: Well, I definitely want to name my first son George, after my father, but only my first son. Now, I don’t have any grand schemes for revolutionary food-cooking technologies — yet. I also haven’t been the heavyweight boxing champion — yet.
19. Have you found there to be a lot of professional sports-type trash-talking in comics? Do you call up, say, Mike Mignola, and tell him not to bother bringing that lame “Hellboy” stuff out onto the court?
Ryan Yount: Well, I’m sure I would, if Mike and I were friends, and I had his phone number. Probably I’d do it if I just had his phone number. I used to call and harass Kieron Dwyer, but he found out what public phone booth I had been using at the bus-station and came over and punched me in the back of the head. So, now there’s no trash-talking.
20. Tie it up, man. Tell us something for the kids back home.
Ryan Yount:Issue #2 of Scurvy Dogs will be at the San Diego Comic-Con, and Issue #1, for those who haven’t yet seen it, will be available in the March “Previews” for order through your local comic shop. So eat your veggies, study hard, and keep rockin’ in the free world. And remember, PIRATES ARE THE NEW MONKEYS.