Joey Ryan is one of wrestling’s bad boys. He’s wrestled all around the globe and is known as the King of Dong Style for use of his... uh... "tool" to win championships and now he’s about to make his comic debut with Joey Ryan: Big In Japan through Kickstarter.
Created by Tres Dean and Jamie Jones, two independent creators who have been made a name for themselves in the past couple of years with their comic Dodger in convention circuits. Dean, a former Marvel Comics intern, is also an unabashed professional wrestling fan and jumped at the chance to write Ryan’s character.
As for Ryan's comic cred? Look into the names of some of his moves, from the 'Nuff Said to the Extinction Agenda.
Newsarama spoke to Dean, Jones, and Ryan about the Kickstarter campaign, which is a little more than half-way funded, and the correlation between wrestling and comic books and what makes Ryan’s sleazy person a perfect fit for comics.
Newsarama: Tres, Jamie, Joey, how exactly did this Joey Ryan: Big In Japan come together?
Tres Dean: Ivan at Chido Comics put together last year's Lucha Underground comics and did a great job with it. So this year, upon founding Chido Comics, he was looking to do another book on pro wrestling. He and Joey started talking about how to make it happen, as Joey was, both creatively and legally, eligible to have his own comic, and it all sort of came out of that. Ivan has known Jamie and I for a while through our cowboys-with-mech-suits comic Dodger and he pulled us on-oard after he'd found out how to secure the rights to the comic.
Jamie Jones: Ivan, the owner of Chido Comics, approached me to do draw the comic. He was one of the producers/editors for the Lucha Underground comic last year and thought I’d be a good fit for a crazy Joey Ryan book and I tend to agree. Tres and I have been doing comics together for the past two years. When Ivan and I started talking about writers there was really only one choice: it was Tres.
Nrama: Joey, in your own words and for the uninitiated, how would you describe your wrestling persona?
Joey Ryan: I'm an 80's movie villain. I'm Magnum P.I. if he worked for the bad guys instead. Although, I've become somewhat endearing in my villainous ways in sort of a Gru from Despicable Me way.
Nrama: What do you think makes Joey's character a perfect fit for a comic book?
Dean: The fact that he's, you know, a character. There are plenty of wrestlers I love whose characters wouldn't necessarily translate to the page as well as others. At least, not in the way I write comics. I knew from the beginning that Jamie and I had no interest in making a comic in which a traditional pro wrestling story happened, because if you want a traditional wrestling story you can, you know, watch pro wrestling. So with Joey we had this very specific, very refined character to work with who had a great deal of storytelling potential, and also one that lends itself well to the kind of comics I love to write - fun, brazen, ridiculous action romps.
Ryan: Because nothing is too over the top. I just wrestled in an Anal Explosion Deathmatch where I planted a bomb in my opponent's friend's asshole and gave him twenty minutes to beat me and save his friend.
Nrama: Where to Chido Comics fit into this equation?
Dean: Chido Comics does the work so we can have the fun. Ivan Plaza, the founder, is running the Kickstarter himself, incentives and shipping and all. He's also handled the paperwork, kept us on track to have our preview pages ready for the campaign launch, and given us feedback on every step of the editorial process.
Ryan: I'm familiar with the work from the previous Lucha Underground comic books and I was approached vis social media to gauge my interest.
Nrama: Big In Japan was already a third funded just two days into it. What went through your mind when you saw that?
Dean: It's wild. I've been a part of a few failed crowdfunding campaigns and it's a bummer when that happens. You put all this effort into the project and it's like your audience looks at you and just says, point blank, "No thanks, we don't care about this." So for the reception to Big In Japan to be what it is...I dunno. It's incredible. Jamie and I wouldn't be doing this book if we didn't believe in it, and it feels like our audience believes in it, too.
Jones: It’s great. Joey Fans are great and the support is amazing. I can’t wait for them to see what we have planned for the book.
Ryan: I'm blessed to have a fanbase who are very supportive of me, plus the quality of the previous books and the teasers for this one have sold many on it already.
Nrama: Wrestling and comics are hardly strangers, but why do you think now publishers are taking more of a chance on the world of wrestling?
Dean: You know, I wish I had a more creative way to phrase this but it's...it's time, you know? I feel like we, as a comics community, for the longest time had this almost universal love for wrestling but didn't bring that into our work. And now with our industry and the wrestling industry growing at a practically unprecedented rate, it's just time. There's no reason not to, I guess.
Nrama: Tell us about some of the incentives you guys have for backers
Dean: There are copies, physical and digital, of the book, which is a given. Other than that, we have some killer art prints, stickers, t-shirts, and enamel pins up for grabs. I believe there will also be some original art of Jamie's, both from Big In Japan as well as from his Dario Cueto issue of the Lucha Underground comic.
Nrama: If Big In Japan does well, do you have any other wrestlers you'd like to work with?
Dean: Oh man. So many. The first one that comes to mind is Candice LeRae, Joey's most prominent tag team partner. If we get to do another Joey Ryan comic, working out the logistics to getting her to appear in the book is my biggest priority. Other than her? The Young Bucks would lend themselves to comics very well, I think. Rocky and Trent from Roppongi Vice. If more Lucha Underground comics happen I'd do a Son of Havoc/Ivelisse/Angelico book in a heartbeat. And I'd love to do a Mad Max post-apocalyptic Road Warriors wrestling comic. But really, I'd consider anyone. If their character lends itself well to comics, I'll write it.
There are plenty of stories you can tell in comics through the characters created by these performers. It's an embarrassment of storytelling riches and I'm glad we get the chance to play in that sandbox.
Nrama: Joey, would you be up for something like this again?
Ryan: I'm always up for an adventure!