While many artists have trouble working on one comic at a time, Ryan Kelly is currently doing six. In a post about his projects for the coming year, Kelly runs down the list:
- Three, Kieron Gillen’s historically accurate response to 300: “With Saucer ending,” Kelly says, “I consider Three my main 2013 project.”
- Anthem, with Brian Wood: Kelly describes it as “a ‘return to form’ for us and Local.” He writes, “If you’ve ever wanted a sequel to Local, then you better support this!”
- Saucer Country: Although the Vertigo series has been canceled, Kelly still has two issues to draw.
- Funrama: Kelly’s own creation that he both writes and draws. We’re big fans of the series, and are excited Kelly is still working on it a little each week. He’s trying to get the third issue done in time for C2E2, but we’ll cut him some slack. Six comics!
- Cocotte: The webcomic Kelly does with Kat Vapid about the life of a cook in an upscale restaurant.
- Top Secret Mystery Project: “I’m drawing three issues of a pretty big thing. I can’t say much yet. Just think of the biggest thing you can think of and that’s probably it. I’d show samples but anything I show would be instantly recognizable.”
Concerning that last one: Let the speculating begin! Assuming it’s a superhero comic for DC or Marvel, what do you hope Kelly is working on?
Being a comics creator is not unlike being a musician: You start out on your own, working out of your garage, and you meet up with other liked-minded souls and try to make a go of it with projects. Some ascend to being the comics equivalent of U2, while other flow in and out of the independent and mainstream scene as their wills, and their fans, take them. Some mainstream creators wish they were considered more “indie,” while some independent creators might want to try some of that mainstream Top 40 hit genre they grew up on, while not forsaking their indie roots.
Artist Ryan Kelly wants to do a little bit of everything. Kelly broke into comics as a graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and Peter Gross’ inker/assistant/finisher on books like Lucifer and Books of Magic. After doing his first major work with the graphic novel Giant Robot Warriors, he came into his own beside Brian Wood on the epic 12-issue travelogue/memoir Local. Since then the two have re-teamed for stints on DMZ and Northlanders and on New York Four and its sequel New York Five. Earlier this year Kelly partnered with Paul Cornell for the Vertigo ongoing series Saucer Country, Kelly’s first as a lead artist. But Kelly’s not content to just do one thing — he also balances a weekly foodie webcomic called Cocotte with writer Kat Vapid and his own self-published comic Funrama, as well as several other projects in the works.
And if that wasn’t enough, he wants to draw superheroes. You hear that, Marvel and DC?
What follows is an expansive conversation between Kelly and myself where I ask him questions I’ve been wondering about for years and ones springing out of his most recent endeavors.