ArtI am Ryan North, author and cartoonist and I one time I messed up walking my dog so badly it made the news. AMA!
Jun 7th 2016 by qwantz • 70 Questions • 728 Points
Hi I'm Ryan! You might know me from (IN ROUGHLY CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER):
- writing Dinosaur Comics (13 years with the same pictures!)
- writing the first 35 issues of the Adventure Time Comics (they won Eisner and Harvey awards!) (those are a big deal in comics, honest)
- co-editing the Machine of Death anthologies (it became the #1 bestselling book on Amazon.com the day it launched and then Glenn Beck (remember him?) got mad at us) *reviewing the crazy Back to the Future novelization after the author was stung to death by bees
- writing The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl for Marvel (no link; sadly you gotta buy those to read them, Stan Lee gots to get paid)
- turning Shakespeare into an illustrated choosable-path adventure with To Be or Not To Be (the #1 most-funded publishing project on Kickstarter when it finished)
- and most recently, Romeo and/or Juliet which comes out today and which you should check out because PERSONALLY, I think it's PRETTY OKAY.
Also as promised here's that time I messed up walking my dog so badly that it was reported on in the international press and now sometimes when you search "ryan north" it autocompletes with "hole". HERE'S PICTURES OF MY DOG
My Proof: Twitter
AMA! Let's talk about writing, or comics, or non-linear second-person narratives, or dogs, or ALL OF THE ABOVE. anything, really, hence this subreddit
UPDATE: it's been two hours and I've answered EVERY QUESTION. I'ma go get some fried chicken parts and answer whatever are new ones show up when I get back. Thank you all for the fun questions!!
UPDATE 2: the fried chicken parts were delicious and now I've answered all the questions again! Thank you everyone <3
Hey Joey, remember that time you entered a photo caption contest on io9 (I think) and then you won, and people were like, "No fair, he's the A Softer World guy, he captions photos for a living??
We all agreed it was a pretty good burn
Is it true that you only became so tall in order to better spot dogs in your vicinity?
i can neither confirm nor deny these scurrilous allegations
How did your dog deal with your adventure? Is the hole his new favorite place? Is he afraid of umbrellas now?
He just laid down and waited for me! We've been back to the hole a few times and I went in once and he wanted to get down there with me, but my wife thought that was a bad idea (FOR SOME REASON??). And she was right: ANYONE can get stuck in a hole once, but get stuck in a hole a second time and people start wondering what your problem is.
I can't answer that. It's pasture clearance level.
So just so we're clear...
Squirrel Girl is totally, legally, contractually NOT a mutant?
She is medically AND LEGALLY distinct, and I can never take this back!!
I think often of how you can draw a line from "It's All About The Pentiums" to "White And Nerdy", and wonder what the third part of that trilogy will look like (due in a few years, if the trend on the last two songs holds).
I heard Toby worked on Undertale in Hussie's basement. Was that at the same time the HS game was being worked on upstairs?
No; Andrew actually maintains a few different apartments for reasons, and these were different apartments!
Do you have any plans on coming to a convention in the near future with Ms Henderson? Many squirrel fans would be pleased to see you both at once!
We're hoping to work that out this summer! We've NEVER appeared at the same show together, so ATTENTION CONVENTIONS: fly us out, this is a "get" for your show, it'll be amazing I promise
How do you deal with the constrains of Dinosaur Comics being the same panels every day? How does that differ from something like USG where you and Erica have the control?
How did you come to the decision to do "mouse over text" in your comics? It's such a unique and perfect idea!
Can Maggott from 90's X-Men be best friends with Squirrel Girl? Tippy Toe needs more animal friends!
1) Dinosaur Comics is familiar (it'd better be, after 13 years) so it's got this sense of comfort that no other writing ever has for me. I know the shape of the thing, you know? But I can still be surprised by it. For Squirrel Girl anything can happen so it's a lot more freeing, but then that means you have to figure out what the rules are and where the walls are.
2) I lifted the idea from Achewood, and I believe Chris Onstad was the first to start using it as a second punchline! At the time I believed Achewood to be the only webcomic on the internet. I was gonna be the second!
3) PERHAPS, I'M GONNA LOOK THIS PERSON UP
Are there any other Dinosaur Comics ideas that you might want to turn into other projects? After Midas Flesh (which, um, was great and you totes forgot to mention it at the top) and Machine of Death, I'd love to see something else.
ALTERNATE QUESTION: Hey, how's the weather up there? ( I ask because you're tall, not Canadian, but feel free to answer however you want).
MIDAS FLESH!! Yes how did I not mention that? DAMN.
Uh there may be! None off the top of my head, but there was an idea a while back where T-Rex wanted a page-a-day calendar with a custom amount of pages for your entire life (statistically speaking) which would be this great memento mori to move around from apartment to apartment your entire life. I may still do that but as, like, an art project for myself or something. I'm not sure "giant inconvenient reminder of death" is that commercial??
Hi Ryan! I am also Ryan.
I've been following your stuff since before Dinosaur comics hit its hundredth strip. One thing in particular--your humour is always so upbeat and positive.
So, if you finish with CYOA with Shakespeare, who's next on the list? Crime OR Punishment?
"I'll take the crime, but hard pass on the punishment, actually. Thanks but no thanks!!"
- Rodion Raskolnikov??
Remember that time a guy who looks exactly like you was in a Batman comic? What was that all about? Do you have any headcanons about the guy who looks like you?
I do! I messaged the artist on Twitter to say "hey, is this me? If so, awesome!" but he never responded, which either means a) it's not me, or b) it IS me, but he didn't get me to sign a likeness release, so he's worried that by acknowledging that it's me he could get himself or DC in trouble, so it's best to ignore me.
Anyway it's totally me and Batman is impressed with my plan; the end
Is there an ending where Romeo and/or Juliet get trapped in a skate park?
Haha, no, we all know those are too easy to escape!! All you need is an umbrella, a leash, and like an hour to figure out how to put them together.
I have never had the opportunity; but I did recently read a book of jokes for kids while waiting in a Korean spa (I'd say long story but that's the entire story) and this one actually got a laugh from me:
PATIENT: "Doctor, doctor! I feel like I'm shrinking!" DOCTOR: I'm sorry, but I'm very busy right now. You'll have to be a... little patient.
Given the quality of the other jokes in the book, this was a welcome surprise!
Hi, Ryan! I like you, your work, and -- most importantly -- your dog. That is a great dog with a great name. Considering your success with Chompsky, I'd like to invite you to play I game I play with my friends: Name That Pet. I would like to know what you would name the following animal companions, were you lucky enough to be their human. There are no wrong answers. Everyone is a winner.
What would you name a pet:
1) Raccoon? 2) Lobster? 3) Flying fox/MEGABAT?
(edited to include question marks, per the Reddit gods' request.)
Aw man, I wish you'd said horse because I have the name Leon Trotsky all lined up for my future horse!
RACCOON: Li'l Miss Washbear
LOBSTER: Dr. Claw, alternatively, "Gadget"
FLYING FOX: Amelia EARheart (because foxes have cute ears) (and also hearts)
MEGABAT: Ms. Megan Batt
When is one of the GLA going to turn up in Squirrel Girl?
Also thank you for making Squirrel Girl beating up all The Avengers at the same time canonical.
I really love Flatman and hope to have him show up at some point. They're all pretty fun!! So: HOPEFULLY SOON??
Their slogan will be "Great Lakes, Great Times", which is a slogan lifted from the actual great lakes.
The only bad candy I've had is Thrills gum
which, yes, does taste like soap. ROSEWATER MY BUTT; IT'S SOAP-FLAVOURED.
And apparently it's Canada only? Sorry, Americans.
I'd be so into this! Erica mocked up our version of that on the cover of issue #4: http://i.imgur.com/gI7xNdU.jpg
I am the person who once asked you if it was cool to send out wedding invitations in the form of a Dinosaur Comic. As an update on that situation, it didn't work out and i left his awful ass in California.
Related though! What's the strangest thing that people have ever used your work for? Anything you've had to flat out refuse or go after people for?
Aw, I'm sorry about that! Not that you broke up but that he was awful and his ass was awful. Sounds like a bad scene!!
I've had a few people bootleg shirt designs - usually it's larger corporations, ALWAYS it's with the excuse of "oh no see we subcontract out shirt designs and someone at THAT company stole your stuff, anyway we're not selling it anymore so we're good, right?" So you're left playing whack-a-mole with people using your stuff without permission.
Um, strangest thing I've seen - it used to be tattoos because I was like, "you got a T-Rex tattoo? But - but I WRITE HIM! What if tomorrow I decide to make him a CRAZY RACIST??" but then I got a tattoo and I realized a) that doesn't really matter, and b) I'm not gonna make T-Rex a crazy racist; why am I freaking out everyone with T-Rex tattoos with that wild talk??
What's your favorite Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff comic, and what is Andrew Hussie's favorite dinosaur comic, if you know it?
Mine's one you haven't seen yet (it's sketched on a napkin; IT IS AMAZING) and I believe his favourite Dinosaur Comic is all of them because they're all tied for first because he loves me so much that even though he knows they can't ALL be great, he KNOWS that, in his eyes they're all perfect because they all came from me, and even the ones that don't make him laugh still remind him of me and us and how we are when we're together, and he can't help but love that.
Hey Ryan, late to the party but still wanted to ask:
How do you get a job writing comics? Would you be in the industry without Dinosaur Comics?
Nope! Probably not. I didn't realize this at the time, but Dinosaur Comics was not just a comic, but could also be seen as this very wordy, punchline-centric, long-form resume. And I started writing the Adventure Time comics because my editor there, Shannon Watters, read my work when she was in university and instantly thought of me when the AT comics started up. And from that has led lots of other things in mainstream comics, and it can all be traced back to doing my webcomic!
Who would you like to see portray Squirrel Girl when she inevitably shows up in Infinity War part two to defeat Thanos?
I don't know! I've seen some casting but I really see her more as an animation character than live action. You don't have to make compromises in animation!!
How do you fight the writing block monster?
Also have you discovered any cool not that known writers/artists lately we should check out?
I have a text file of abandoned comics that I couldn't get to work, so when I'm stuck I can work with those! That way at least I never have a blank piece of paper (or screen) to deal with, and it changes from "invent something new" to "get this old thing to work": a different muscle to flex if one isn't cooperating.
Lately I'm big into books about dying in lonely places, and Jon Krakauer has a couple of those (Into Thin Air, Into the Wild) that I really enjoyed.
Do you ever wake up realizing there's an awesome Adventure Time idea you'll never get to tell in sequential art format and begin to cry?
No way, because my pal Chris is writing the books now and I could always tell him! But I have had no ideas because his ideas for the comic are great, so it looks like I dodged a bullet there when they hired me first and then him, and not the other way around!
NON-QUESTION ADORATION - I absolutely LOVE Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. It is just perfection. I usually only buy comics about women and written by women (Shout outs to Erica tho, she's got that cute style on lock), but your writing really goes above those gender lines and really warms my heart. Thanks for being part of the movement of bringing cute, fun, goofy comics back to the Big-2
ACTUAL QUESTION - Has there been any pressure put on you by Marvel for certain aspects of the Squirrel Girl comic? I'm not asking you to bad-mouth your boss here, but obviously they have their editorial goals and I wonder if your comic has had occasions where it needed to bend a bit to fit in.
THANK YOU! That's super great to hear. Thank you so much!
To answer your question - not really? I mean, I guess the closest thing we had was when we had two #1s in the same year: that's not a thing we would've thought of doing on our own, but it wasn't a huge deal, and we just used it as the chance to move our cast into second year CS instead of first year, since you learn the good stuff in second year anyway!