The comic industry lost a great artist yesterday with the passing of Paul Ryan at the age of 66.
There is a certain sort of egocentrism that comes from when we first encounter a comic book artist. We tend to believe that their career began there. So Paul Ryan getting into comic books in the mid-1980s led many people, myself included, to think of him as being a young artist at that time. However, Ryan actually worked for Metcalf & Eddy Engineering for over a decade before ever becoming a professional comic book artist, working for Charlton Comics before getting his big break at Marvel in the mid-80s, where he did standout work finishing Mark Gruenwald’s Squadron Supreme maxi-series and then co-creating DP-7 with Gruenwald….
Amusingly enough, Ryan drew the wedding of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson…
and then years later worked on the wedding of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, as well (even odder still, he wasn’t even the only creator to do both, as writer David Michelinie also worked on both).
He had a stint on Avengers working with John Byrne…
He then became one of the rare artists in the 1990s to maintain TWO monthly books, as he launched Quasar with Mark Gruenwald while still drawing Avengers.
When Byrne left Avengers West Coast, Smith moved from Quasar to Avengers West Coast, making him perhaps the only artist ever to draw both Avengers titles at the same time. He worked with Larry Hama on Avengers and Roy and Dann Thomas on Avengers West Coast.
After ending his Avengers West Coast stint, he drew the end of Byrne’s run on Iron Man.
While still working on Iron Man, he also began work on what is perhaps his best-known run, drawing Fantastic Four with writer Tom DeFalco for five years, one of the longest runs on the title in the history of the Fantastic Four. Here is a pin-up he did from the Fantastic Four’s 30th anniversary…
He launched Ravage 2099 with Stan Lee while doing Fantastic Four, as well.
After his Fantastic Four run finished, he drew Superman for DC Comics on a number of titles and also drew the Flash during the end of Mark Waid’s initial run and the start of Grant Morrison and Mark Millar’s run on the book.
He did a short stint on Fantastic Five as part of Marvel’s MC2 line of books.
Most notably, he had been the artist on the Phantom comic strip for over a decade.
He will be greatly missed.