An interview with artist Paul Ryan


How did you get the job as artist on Ravage 2099?

Paul: I guess it was sometime late in 1991, I was invited to a convention in Canada. It was in Edmonton. So my wife Linda and I went up there, we were having a good time. I think I was working on the Avengers at the time. One of the guests was Stan Lee. I was very excited because I had never met him. I had been a fan of his ever since I was a little kid. I mean Fantastic Four #1 came out when I was eleven. He was the face of Marvel. So I was very excited to meet him.

So that night, after the show closed for that day, Linda and I went to the lobby. We were going to have dinner when we find Stan, by himself, in the lobby. So we walked over and ask "what's going on?" He said his plans had fallen through for the evening, so he was a little unsure of what to do or where to go. So we asked him to come with us. We all went out to the Edmonton mall and had a great time. It was like being out with your favorite uncle. While we were at dinner, he explained his plans to do a series of Marvel Comics set in the future. I don't even know if they called it 2099 at the time. But he was going to launch it with a graphic novel. We thought it was very exciting and he told us all about it. He was going to be working with John Bryne on it.

So months went by. By that time I was in contact with Byrne because he and I had been working on Avengers West Coast at one time. I think we were just starting up on Iron Man together. So anyway, he tells me what was going on with the Stan Lee project. Apparently there were creative differences. It didn't work out. John walked away with the graphic novel he had worked on. He later published it as John Bryne's 2112. So I felt bad that Stan pretty much wasted his time there. He wasn't treated too well. I was pretty good friends with Tom De Falco, who was the Editor-in-Chief at the time, and I said "how's that project with Stan going? Are they still going to do those Marvel in the future books?" He said yes they were. And just because I felt bad about the whole situation, I said if there's anything I can do to help out, just let me know. Now I wasn't looking for another series because I was working on two at the time. Couple of days later, Tom calls me and says how would you like to do Ravage 2099?

I was always a bit insecure, so I said why don't you check with Stan first to make sure its ok if I pencil the series. Because its Stan Lee and he can get anyone he wants. Well he asked Stan and Stan said, why not?

Then the hard part came with designing the character. I was working with Joey Cavalieri at the time, he was the editor at Marvel who was handling the 2099 books. He gave me background information on the character. I submitted some costume ideas and sketches. He said, 'oh good, this is good. I will pass this along to Stan.' He passed it along to Stan, Stan didn't like it. He came back to me and said 'we' hated it. Do something else. So I did another series of character studies. Joey said 'great, love it. Let me talk to Stan.' Gets back to me...'we' hate it.

So what's this "we." One minute 'we' love it, and now 'we' hate it. So I went through like three or four incarnations of Ravage. And I was getting very frustrated because this is for free basically when you are developing the character. So my wife Linda says why don't you just call Stan? Find out what he wants first hand. I said "I can't call Stan Lee." I felt like I was 11 years old again. She said to me, why not? I said its because its Stan! She said call him, you're driving yourself crazy with this. So I got the phone number, called the office, and spoke with his secretary. Told her who I was. She said just a minute please. I begin to think, oh yeah, I'm going to get the brush off. And Stan picked up the phone. He says, 'Hi Paul, how are you doing?' I'm thinking, my God, he knows who I am! So we started talking. While we talked, mostly discussing the character - he did most of the talking - I just listened and was sketching out what he was describing. So then I faxed it over to him. He had several minor tweaks to it, but he said this is what I want. I said great. And that's how I got on the series. And that's how we got the character going.

What was it like creating a brand new character with Stan Lee?

Paul: Any kind of collaboration with Stan is so much fun, because he is so enthusiastic. He was almost 70, but you wouldn't know it. He had the energy of an 18 year old. He's a very enthusiastic person. He's very easy to work with. I think it might have been issue two, he turned in too much script. So Joey asked me if I could take this and split it into two issues. I looked at it and said, yeah, I can do that. There's this one issue where his female partner [Tiana] gets kidnapped and taken to a mutant island. Then Ravage goes to the mutant island and try to rescue her. I think it might have been issues 3 or 4 where she gets away and he is hunted. Now that whole issue was basically like two paragraphs. I tried to make it like "The Most Dangerous Game." In it I introduced a certain character who had this junk pile. Amidst the junk pile I threw in a decrepit looking Fantastic-Car, from the 60s which Stan eventually used in the story. Anyway, when Stan had discovered I had taken his one script and turned it into two issues he said, 'wow this is great. Can you do this with everything I turn in?' I said 'I'll do the best I can [laughs].'

When it came to designing the characters, locations, technology, etc. what were your influences?

Paul: Probably a bit Metropolis, a little bit Magnus the Robot Fighter 4000 AD. There was a whole group of us working together to come up with that vision of the future. Blade Runner, there were heavy influences from that movie that we all used. Like the mag-lev cars. The humungous buildings that were almost cities themselves. But the dress for the men and women, in Ravage, it was just a look I wanted to go for. We've become very casual in the late 20th century, and I thought maybe in 2099 there might be an elitist fashion in civilization then. Because fashion does go through cycles. But Stan always insisted that the girls have short skirts [laughs].

Was it made using the Marvel method?

Paul: Yes. It was not a full script. It was plots. Which is to say it was not paginated. And there was no dialogue indicated. So I had to pace it myself. Stan added the dialogue afterwards in captions.

From your 7 issue run, is there any issue that you’re particularly proud of? A favorite cover?

Paul: I liked the cover on issue two. I thought that looked good. 

Do you recall any plans you and Stan may have had for the character that were cut short?

Paul: Not really. Its a situation where Stan didn't have a lot of time on his hands. I think in retrospect, if he knew how much time was required of this he wouldn't have committed to a monthly book. He was working on big stuff out in California, trying to get movies going. Trying to promote the characters in all different types of media. And he was also doing the Spider-Man daily and Sunday strip as far as scripting. So I don't know where he wanted to go with the character.

What recollections do you have about working with Joey Cavalieri?

Paul: Joey originally worked for DC Comics. He came to work for Marvel for awhile. I think he always felt like he was on the outside looking in. Like the orphan coming in from the storm. I don't think he got the respect he deserved at Marvel. As such, he always seemed insecure there. Eventually he went back to DC Comics. I think he did much better there.

Were there any challenges unique to working on Ravage 2099 as opposed to the other comics you have worked on?

Paul: Not really. I was pretty comfortable with the world of the future look. Because of conferences we had had at Marvel, everyone knew what the other person was doing visually. So there was that template to work from. But I have always had the ability to read a script and immediately visualize what I am reading.



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