Robot 6

Quote of the day | Solving the Johnny Ryan mystery

There is nothing he will not joke about and sometimes this is his only way of coping. When our baby was stillborn last October and I was lying in the hospital bed, he said he hoped our next baby wouldn’t be such a fucking wimp. It sounds horrible but at the time I needed to hear something like that a lot more than I needed the greeting cards people kept sending that said our baby was a fucking angel looking down on us. I think he has trouble getting close to people because of this kind of thing, but I’m a bit like that too so I found it reassuring. Of course he did cry too but only for a bit.

— Author and craft artist Jenny Ryan on her husband Johnny Ryan, as quoted in Jesse Pearson’s incredible interview with Mr. Ryan for The Comics Journal. In the course of the wide-ranging and often hilarious interview, Ryan also reveals (I think; I certainly had never heard it before) that his father was an abusive alcoholic.

I’ve spent years enjoying Ryan’s scabrously offensive humor comics like Angry Youth Comix and Blecky Yuckerella, as well as his extravagantly vicious action comic Prison Pit, and I’ve often wondered where his search-and-destroy ethos originated. My wife and I have also suffered three miscarriages, and maybe it’s bizarre to say this, but Ryan’s comics involving the gory slaughter of crying babies are one of the few works of art that really spoke to me about how this experience felt. Thanks to Pearson and Ryan’s jawdroppingly candid conversation, I finally feel like I understand both of these things, at least a little.

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That was such an amazing interview. It’s really rare that you see somebody make such extreme jokes about such personal, awful things and have them still be legitimately funny. The part where they were talking about Ryan’s Prince Valiant haircut when he was a kid had me doubled over. “Make him look like something I’d want to hit!”

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