Johnny Ryan creates comics that would make your grandmother spontaneously combust from an overdoes of ribaldry. In his latest graphic novel Prison Pit 2, cyborg monster barbarians systematically eviscerate each other. Ryan talked to us about the onslaught of grotesqueness.
Note: The below article contains images that are A.) likely NSFW; and B.) roundly unpleasant.
How does one sum up Prison Pit 2? Well, it's a sequel to the first Prison Pit, which was about a terrible monster sapien named C.F. battling mutants in a hellhole universe, losing his arm, and attaching another tapeworm-like mutant to the stump. In this latest volume, C.F. is still looking for his arm. This mostly wordless quest is punctuated by grunts, profanity, duels with nameless monstrosities, and geyser upon geyser of bodily fluid. Oh, and there's a chapter in which C.F. must have sex with a mutant pterodactyl. It's not unlike Masters of the Universe...if Masters of the Universe was a hentai that starred Gwar.
The book is truly the most acquired-est of tastes. If the idea of an episode of Fist of the Northstar with 99% more explosive deaths sounds righteous, you'll like Prison Pit 2. If you thought Heavy Metal made too much sense, you'll like Prison Pit 2. If you like your body horror with a side dish of corrosive acid vomit, you'll like Prison Pit 2. This book is the greasy plaque that builds up on your id over the years. We caught up with Ryan at the Prison Pit 2 release party at Mishka NYC in Brooklyn. Here's what he had to say
In Prison Pit 2, monsters and mutants and cyborgs go at it in some desolate wasteland universe. As the author, how would you describe the book in a nutshell?
I wanted to a book about monster-men beating the shit out of each other. That's my main idea, that's all it's about. There's no real subtext to it. It's about the fighting.
Were there any particular science fiction tales that inspired you?
Sure. Doctor Who had a big influence on the book, particularly on a lot of the monsters. A lot of manga too, such as Kentaro Miura's Berserk — that's more fantasy, but it had a big influence on my work as well.
Ooh, what Doctor Who monsters?
If you look at this guy [points to the cyborg B.A.S.T.Y.R.D. from Prison Pit 2], he's very much like a Sontaran. And I haven't put this guy in the book yet [points to an illustration of what can only be described as a giant testicle monster], but he's somewhat Zygon-like.
Last year you contributed to Marvel's Strange Tales anthology. Those works, while lurid by Marvel standards, are a far cry from the total insanity of the Prison Pit universe. Was there an unedited draft of these stories floating around?
Whenever I get hired to do a particular job – I've done stuff for Nickelodeon magazine, for example – I'm not going to draw big cocks or anything like that. That's just wasting my time and their time. I save all that for my own work.
Speaking of which, your work is very, uh, idiosyncratic. What do you think people will anticipate the first time they meet you?
I think they'll think I'm crazy and a little bit mean, but I don't think I'm that mean. Or that crazy.
What do you have lined up after Prison Pit 2?
Prison Pit 3. I'm just going to keep going until I get bored with it.
Prison Pit 2 is out September 2010 from Fantagraphics. You can read more comics by Johnny at his site (NSFW).