An interview with artist Matt Ryan


How did you get the job of drawing Galahad 2099, and what do you recall about working on that story?

Matt: Galahad 2099 was a really fun job for me. I was just graduating from the Joe Kubert School of Art at that time. Within the last few weeks of the school year (as best as I can recall) I had met with Andy Kubert about inking the X-Men. Amazingly I had gotten the job! Near that time, the Kubert school had like a field trip to the Marvel offices and several editors were going to be looking over our portfolios. One of those editors was Joey Cavalieri. I had actually been hanging back a little, because I already had the inking job on the X-men at that time (although I hadn't started working on it yet), and I wanted to make sure the other guys from class got a chance to show their portfolios. When I did show my artwork to Joey, he was like 'What were you hanging back for?' So, he liked my work and said he might have something for me.

Just a day or 2 later, Joey called me to do the Galahad 2099 story! Joey was great to work with and made this story a lot of fun, because I pretty much had the freedom to design everything, even Galahad himself! I was basically told that it just needed to look like a robotic suit of armor with some similarities to a knights armor. I really wanted to come up with a cool design, but there wasn't a huge amount of time to spend just on character design. Hopefully he looked alright. I had a blast designing the other robot he fought in the story as well. And thankfully, the story had a lot of action going on as well, which was fun. Flying suits of armor and laser blasting robots, what more could I ask for?

I believe that Galahad 2099 was the first actual job I did in comics, even though I had already lined up the X-Men inking job before that. After years in this business, you get very used to seeing your work in print, but I have to say, there is nothing quite like seeing your first work printed in an actual comic. I must have looked that comic book over a hundred times when it came out.

Were there last minute changes to your last Fantastic Four 2099 issue (#5)? An issue of Marvel Vision showed a rough draft of a different cover to issue #6 Was this alternate cover for #6 completed?

Matt: Wow! That takes me back, looking at those old sketches. I haven't seen those for many years. It's hard to remember all of what was going on at that time. I remember Joey Cavalieri was going over to DC, and there were rumors going around of the whole 2099 line being cancelled, so everyone was a bit unsure as to where things were going in the future. At least on FF2099. I do still have that cover to #6. Yeah, I was a little disappointed that the cover wasn't used, but at least I got paid for it. But I understood that they were taking the story in a different direction. At that point, they were taking me off the book as penciller, but wanted me to stay on as inker. I eventually ended up inking Cary Nord on Daredevil instead.

Unused cover to Fantastic Four 2099 #6

Had you already begun work on the interiors for #6?

Matt: I hadn't started work on the issue #6 interiors. They had already decided to bring on a new penciller at that point. The covers were done in advance, so the #6 cover had already been finished before they decided to make the changes.

Did you have to redraw the ending to #5, substituting Tzzar with Dr. Strange?

Matt: Thankfully, I don't think I had to redraw anything for issue #5. I believe the changes that they made in the story were handed off to me before I got to that point in the script. It was a lot of fun working on the book. It was my first and only job as a regular penciller on a title, and I had a blast. Today, I just cringe looking back on that early artwork. Thankfully I've learned a lot since then.

Did you work closely with your inker, Al Williamson, and do you have any recollections about working with him?

Matt: I didn't really work closely with Al Williamson. I mean, that guy is a legend in the business, so I just let him do his thing. I remember thinking at the time that, with his expertise, he should really be pencilling the book, and I should be inking him. But yeah, it was definitely a treat to have someone of his skill inking me. I loved the texture and feel he gave to the inks. I especially remember what a nice rocky texture he gave to the Thing. It was really quite a learning experience for me, as I had not done much pencilling. I would see how he would ink something, and I would try and learn from that and incorporate it into my pencils.

What recollections do you have about working with writer Karl Kesel?

Matt: Working with Karl was great. I would talk with him on the phone from time to time, and he's a really nice guy. I was a bit rusty at pencilling, after inking for such a long time, but Karl made it easy for me. I remember him telling me to feel free to have Mr. Fantastic using his ability in scenes even if it wasn't in the script. For example, if the FF were arriving at a scene, I could have Reed stretching into the scene, or stretching his legs as he's walking into panel. That really got me to loosen up and helped me out a lot. At the same time, Karl wrote everything out nice and detailed, and it was very easy to visualize what he wanted.

Do you have a favorite issue or cover of your 2099 work?

Matt: My favorite issue was probably the first one I did, issue #3. I was given some reference from the last issue, John Buscema's pencils I think, and they were definitely inspiring. As well as Rick Leonardi's pencils from the first issue. I liked the cover to that issue, the classic heroes all surrounded by the villains. I particularly enjoyed the opening fight scene in that issue too. There's nothing more fun for an artist than drawing a bunch of heroes and villains battling it out.




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