ICN Hall Of Fame Class Of 2021: Alan Ryan

One of the most underrated Irish artists has to be Alan Ryan. The creator of Faraday the Blob (in 2008), he landed a dream gig in The Beano in 2013 and is working there to this day. When thinking who I should ask to induct him, I immediately thought of the biggest Beano fan I know, and founder of the Enniskillen and Omagh comic conventions, Paul Trimble.

“First of all I have to confess that I don’t actually know Alan Ryan, nope, never met the man, but what I do know is that he has an immense talent.  Alongside his own work Alan has created hundreds, or more likely thousands, of strips for the Beano which is likely the best known British comic ever.  Nothing raises more interest than mentioning someone has worked on the Beano – trust me. Since launching ComicFest I’ve tried to interest journalists from all media in reporting on our event “The big Guest this year has worked for both Marvel and DC and even 2000 AD” only gets a yawn but when the Beano gets mentioned eyes light up and the journalist is immediately engaged  “I used to read the Beano, really fond memories of my gran buying it for me!!”  and I get a couple of paragraphs in print. Fact.

It was just over a decade or so ago that I first encountered Alan’s work- at a Dublin Con someone mentioned that I check out Faraday The Blob, a webcomic by Dublin cartoonist and illustrator Alan Ryan.  So I did, it was a really nice strip and I liked it a lot but I’m strictly old school, no digital stuff for me, and I gradually lost interest.  A couple of years later I started to pick up the Beano again regularly as a bit of fun in the midst of reading so many grim US comics.  There was a new new version of Number 13 which I liked, along with the return of Smudge- I used to read the Beano to my son back in the 90’s so these brought back memories – and over the next couple of years I saw the same art style crop up in Adventure Tim, Chewie Suarez and others but it was only when the Beano finally started to print credits on the strips that I saw Alan’s name and the penny finally dropped and I connected the dots back through the all the strips I had enjoyed – I never was the brightest spark on Bash Street.  I also copped on at this time that the initials AR on various strips in the annuals were the same guy – in the 2018 Dandy Annual Alan started to draw Winker Watson who was my favourite character when first reading the comic as a nipper in the early 70’s.  Mind officially blown.  This will be the first thing I read when I open this years on Christmas morning. 

So, while I’ve never met Alan Ryan- something I intend to correct as soon as Coronavirus allows-  he makes me, and thousands of other Beano readers, laugh every Wednesday- and even more at Christmas- and that folks is something very special, a wonderful gift.”