Right Brain: Steve Ryan | SummitDaily.com

Right Brain: Steve Ryan

LESLIE BREFELDSummit Daily News

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk

Placer Valley resident Steve Ryan said at the age of 8 he wanted to be an architect; by 11 he knew he’d rather be a cartoonist. “Marley,” Ryan’s comic strip, takes place in Breckenridge and the lead character is based on his border collie of the same name. At http://www.marley.net – the only place to see the comic right now – Summit County viewers might recognize Arapahoe Basin or a community member in the drawings.Ryan pulls from his seven years bartending at the Laff Stop in Houston and his life in the mountains in Purgatory and the Summit County area for his work, which he says always keeps a G rating.The cartoonist did in fact become an architect first which led him to construction work. However, he said, “Cartooning has always been my No. 1 passion.” Now the two play off each other. Ryan said his architecture is showing itself in his cartoons and the cartoon is showing itself in his house plans.What are your dreams/what would you like to do with your art?You should have seen my eighth-grade notebook – it was full of cartoons. If you’d asked me this question back then, I’d have told you I want to draw a daily comic strip, and it is still true today.What does art give you/why do you do it?Drawing is an easy way to express myself, whether it be architecture or especially comic strips. I recall one night at the comedy club … I was asked why all my friends are in the comic strip but I’m not. Before I could answer, one of the comedians said, “But Steve is in the comic strip. He’s Marley.” I had never really thought about it that way before, but I guess in a way, he was right.What do you try to convey through your art?I was fortunate to be a part of a monthly meeting of cartoonists which included “Tank McNamara” creator Bill Hinds, “Marmaduke” creator Brad Anderson and several other creative and successful cartoonists. The single most important piece of advice that I came away with was to “draw from your own life experiences.” Taking this to heart, I’ve endeavored to create a world fused of my life spent in the mountains and my years spent at one of the country’s top comedy clubs. Featuring my real life friends, all professional comedians, and a title character based on our real-life border collie, I’ve recreated Breckenridge as the backdrop for the fictitious comedy club where Marley is set.What is/has been your biggest challenge and how do/did you deal with it?Each year the national syndication companies receive several thousand submissions. They’ll launch two or three new comic strips, so it’s a tough business to break into. We have decided to start by focusing locally, more on life in Summit County, with more appearances by locals.What are you most proud of regarding your art (and/or greatest accomplishment)?I drew my first original comic strip in sixth grade and a succession of different comics followed. When I first created “Marley,” it was a combination of “Garfield” and “Calvin and Hobbs.” But, in striving for originality, I’ve incorporated the kind of architectural renderings that I use for presentation drawings to create a realistic background and opted for a real cast over a cartoon one. I believe “Marley” has become unlike any other comic strip with a cartoon dog in a real world. Also, with a cast and writing staff of hilarious professional comedians, “Marley” will be able to stay fresh and funny … kind of a “Cheers” meets “Hot Dog …” set in Breckenridge.

Drawing is an easy way to express myself, whether it be architecture or especially comic strips. I recall one night at the comedy club … I was asked why all my friends are in the comic strip but I’m not. Before I could answer, one of the comedians said, “But Steve is in the comic strip. He’s Marley.” I had never really thought about it that way before, but I guess in a way, he was right.What do you try to convey through your art?I was fortunate to be a part of a monthly meeting of cartoonists which included “Tank McNamara” creator Bill Hinds, “Marmaduke” creator Brad Anderson and several other creative and successful cartoonists. The single most important piece of advice that I came away with was to “draw from your own life experiences.” Taking this to heart, I’ve endeavored to create a world fused of my life spent in the mountains and my years spent at one of the country’s top comedy clubs. Featuring my real life friends, all professional comedians, and a title character based on our real-life border collie, I’ve recreated Breckenridge as the backdrop for the fictitious comedy club where Marley is set.

What is/has been your biggest challenge and how do/did you deal with it?Each year the national syndication companies receive several thousand submissions. They’ll launch two or three new comic strips, so it’s a tough business to break into. We have decided to start by focusing locally, more on life in Summit County, with more appearances by locals.What are you most proud of regarding your art (and/or greatest accomplishment)?I drew my first original comic strip in sixth grade and a succession of different comics followed. When I first created “Marley,” it was a combination of “Garfield” and “Calvin and Hobbs.” But, in striving for originality, I’ve incorporated the kind of architectural renderings that I use for presentation drawings to create a realistic background and opted for a real cast over a cartoon one. I believe “Marley” has become unlike any other comic strip with a cartoon dog in a real world. Also, with a cast and writing staff of hilarious professional comedians, “Marley” will be able to stay fresh and funny … kind of a “Cheers” meets “Hot Dog …” set in Breckenridge.

How do you stay fresh/motivated?When you draw a comic set in the mountains, it’s easy to get motivated just by stepping out the door. We live on the Continental Divide at over 11,000 feet. I, my wife Susie and our twin 4-year-old sons, enjoy everything that it entails. But also, we pay regular visits to our friends at the Laff Stop. That too, is great motivation to draw cartoons.What do you do when you’re not making art?I’m just finishing the construction of a house which I designed and have built pretty much by myself, except for the help of my wife, Susie, who works as hard as I do. We still find time to fit in our favorite summer activities – hiking and biking. Winters are better for fun. The best part of construction work (and drawing a comic strip) is powder mornings off!

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