‘Fantastic Four’ Artist Paul Ryan Passes Away

Fantastic Four comic book fans are mourning the loss of legendary artist Paul Ryan, who passed away last Sunday, March 6, 2016, reports Comic Book Resources. He was 66.

His cousin Chad Callanan first reported the news on Facebook, saying, “Chances are you were touched by him in your lifetime as he was the cartoonist for some of the most well-known and beloved characters in the world. From Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man, The Phantom to the Fantastic Four, most of which made it to the big screen and Hollywood. He was a true giant and artist, who achieved more success in his short life than any one of us would ever know in ten lifetimes. He was somebody who showed me how to dream big, but he was also my friend and that was good enough.”

Although best known for comic book art, it took a long time before Ryan ended up on the funny pages. In fact, he wouldn’t ink Fantastic Four until 1985. Before then, Ryan had graduated from the Massachusetts College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Graphic Design in 1971, However, after graduation, he immediate enlisted in the United States National Guard and worked in auto mechanics. Later, while attending the Massachusetts Military Academy for training to become an officer, he received a graphics design-related job for Metcalf & Eddy Engineering in Boston. He worked there for 11 years.

Ryan’s first foray in the art of comics came in 1983 when he responded to an open audition for Charlton Comics in which he submitted Breed, a comic that he wrote and drew himself. The story was later published in March of 1984 by Americomics. This led to a stint where Ryan worked for Marvel artist Bob Layton drawing backgrounds. Not surprisingly, this led to some of his best work for Marvel Comics.

Ryan’s career with Marvel Comics began with him inking two issues of The Thing, a spinoff of the Fantastic Four, in 1985, which led to his work as a regular “penciler” for the Squadron Supreme series in 1986. By 1987, Ryan was illustrating The Amazing Spider-Man (in an issue where Peter Parker married Mary Jane Watson) and began a new series, D.P.7. with Mark Gruenwald, which was part of Marvel’s “New Universe” series. Ryan continued his work with the series for its full run until it ended in 1989. Ryan then worked on Avengers, Avengers West Coast, and Quasar before working on a five-year run of Fantastic Four.

In 1996, Ryan left Marvel to work for DC Comics to work on comics featuring Superman, Batman, and The Flash. He returned to Marvel for a brief time in 1999 to work on another Fantastic Four spinoff known as Fantastic Five before he began work on The Phantom. The comic book work led to working on a daily comic strip of the character for King Features in 2005. Ryan continued to work on The Phantom until his death.

Those who knew Ryan best have the fondest memories of the artist, including Larry Hama, who worked with Ryan at both Marvel and DC Comics.

Comicbook.com posted this statement from Hama.

“I am truly shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Paul Ryan, an impeccable draftsman, a solid visual storyteller, and really, really nice guy. I always knew that a plot I sent him would be drawn with a keen attention to detail, aspects of the story would be improved upon, and my mistakes would be corrected. I will miss him as a valued collaborator, and I mourn him as a friend.”

Ryan is survived by his wife, Linda Ryan.

[Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images]