Saturday, November 3, 2012

Being a slave of an old habit, I recently tossed Juan Jose Ryp’s No Hero into my shopping bag. I discovered Ryp’s obvious talent when he did Robocop with Frank Miller a few years back and I became fascinated by his ultra-explicit style.

First I was convinced Ryp was a new synonym for Geof Darrow. Darrow has the same tendency towards explicit expressionism. Also Darrow worked together with Miller on another ultraviolent title called Hard Boiled back in the 90’s. Around the same time as Robocop, Darrow came out with Shaolin Cowboy - also stuffed with gore and chopped off heads. Ryp’s artwork resembles Darrow’s in many ways. The most obvious difference lies in the colour work which in Ryp’s case is smooth and explosive taking full advantage of computer colouring and shading techniques. Secondly Ryp’s characters tend to seem more emotional - or at least angry or painful which seem to be about the only emotions relevant to him. 

Shortly after Robocop, Miller crashed into a deep hole of self-reference and political righteousness and my admiration for him started to turn. I don’t think Ryp has fallen into that exact same hole. To be more precise; Ryps has always been dwelling in a very gloomy place. Ryp lives in a world where everybody is driven to neurosis by their own desires, anger and hate. This misery always turns into a bloody mess. For a comicbook fan it can be interesting to watch, because Ryp is a very skilled craftsman and the graphical dynamism can be strikingly entertaining. It’s still a mystery to be he doesn’t seem to get more recognition. Because I know a huge audience for this humor absent cynicism exists, it’s just not a part of my personal sphere of interest any longer.

When I discovered Ryp in 2005 I said to myself: Wow this is cutting edge! I was convinced I'd discovered a superstar in the making. Today his artwork is still rather unique, at least it's extreme in its provocative violent excess. But Ryp is no superstar and he probably never will be. There is no development, it's impossible to tell the artistic difference between a spread from Robocop and No Hero.

Can you figure out which artist Ryp is imitating here? A priceless beer is to be won... Just leave your answer in the comments.


  1. My knowledge of Superhero artists is very limited, Steranko?..

  2. Bingo! The beer is yours! I owe you one at Mikklers... :-)