Ryp-ing Into Comics

Lowdown - Interview

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Juan José Ryp is well known via his Avatar-projects, but BF wanted to get up close and personal by presenting him with some burning questions.

BROKEN FRONTIER: I remember you starting out doing various erotic stories, among others, before moving to comics and Avatar in 2002. How did you get in touch with Avatar?

JUAN JOSE RYP: Yes, I started drawing comics professionally for a Spanish publishing erotic artwork and precisely those comics were being reprinted in France by Tabou Editions. Eroticism really was a very good field of sales for comics in the '90s ... a curiosity: I went to the publisher with a project for a children's story about fairies ... and went out with a commission for a series of erotic lesbian stories! Ha ha ha!

I started working with Avatar Press by chance. I had stopped doing comics, I was tired and disappointed, but the opportunity arose to illustrate a song by Alan Moore for a small Spanish publishing house Sulaco Editions. Later on they bought the rights to publish this in the U.S.A. and wanted a cover by me in this book. The book was "Magic Words"... then there was another request, then another, then the first series ... the rest is history.

BF: What made you want to be a comic book artist when you were young?

JJR: I always wanted to draw and always wanted to draw comics. I grew up reading comics, I always have. What else could I be? I did have dozens of jobs before being an artist.

BF: Who were your influences growing up and who are your current influences?

JJR: Well, in the beginning there were European artists. It would take hours mentioning them but these come to mind: Moebius, Manara, Hunting Boucq, Hunt, Carlos Gimenez, Alfonso Font, Giardino, Juilard ... And of course the classics: Ibanez, Franquin, Hergé, Peyo, Raf ... And not to mention the classic Americans like Adams, Kirby, Ditko ... till the more recent such as Miller, Darrow, Chaykin, Bolland, Mignola, Lee, Hughes ... and then Spanish Pacheco, Larroca, Ferry ... everyone.

I can learn from every artist; I like to watch, see the different styles, each artist's solutions.

BF: Are you self-taught or did you get schooling of some kind?

JJR:: I never went to art schools or a drawing academy. At home they thought I was stupid to spend time drawing. My sole schooling was the comics I read, and my brother, a great artist, who has never worked professionally in this field, but who is certainly my greatest teacher.

BF:  Remarkable! Your art is very detailed across the board. Why did you go for such a detailed style, both in your characters and in your backgrounds?

JJR: I do not know! At first everyone said: Too much detail, too much detail! But I cannot draw any other way. I suppose this is because I have no ability to synthesize or because I am short-sighted and always tend to approach things very closely to see the details.

I now think I have established my brand. I know I have many detractors for this, but there are not many artists who use this technique and I will continue to work this way. I am very stubborn! Ha ha ha!

BF: That sometimes is the best way to venture! At Avatar you’ve had the opportunity to bring to life some of the works of master writers like Alan Moore (Yuggoth Cultures), Frank Miller (Robocop), Brian Pulido (Lady Death) and Warren Ellis (No Hero). You also have Jungle Fantasy and Shi/Pandora on your track record. Of all the Avatar-projects you’ve worked on thus far, which one are you most proud of?

JJR: Oefffff! I could not begin to pick one! All were special and almost all keep a good memory. Although I do think Angel Stomp Future, written by Warren Ellis, would be my favorite. And with Black Summer I had a lot of illusion and I put a lot of work into it because I thought it would be something great, and somehow it was, but ...

But without any doubt, my favorite character I created is Anna Mercury at Avatar. I would have liked to draw this series, but had to settle for creating it and make the covers. Ha ha ha!

BF: Avatar also partnered with Vivid Adult Entertainment. Through this partnership, you once drew a comic featuring porn star Jenna Jameson. What was that experience like?

JJR: Well that was a long time ago! Ha ha. Well, it was a great honor to make a cartoon of Jenna Jameson ... I do not know what to say ... I think I drew the anatomy straight out of memory!

BF: Who is your favorite writer you’ve worked with so far?

JJR: God! I cannot answer that question! I've been very lucky with creators and I am still so. Look, when I sit down to draw I forget who wrote the script. I just think about doing a good job and in that way please the readers of the comic. It's certainly a great honor to have worked with great writers, but my greatest reward is the response from fans. Also I do need to address that I never got to speak with any of the writers with whom I worked in Avatar. I hope to someday.

BF: What are you currently working on?

JJR: Thank you very much for the interest but I am not at liberty to divulge that information yet!


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