Ryan Claytor Hits The Road

Moments after the world famous San Diego Comic-Con wraps, most people probably find themselves completely worn out, in a state of post-con funk. Attendees who’ve been walking miles for days on end just want to find the nearest eatery and decompress with a cold drink. Creators and retailers probably hope for some solitary time away from the crowd and forced interactions with the public. As a reviewer, I often find myself trying to collect my thoughts, under an oppressive deluge of new books to read and review, and wanting to promptly follow up on the networking I’ve just engaged in, but mentally and physically drained for the most part. Yeah, most people would be exhausted and want to take a short respite from comic books. Most people would be wiped out and simply wish to return home to familiar surroundings.

Most people aren’t Ryan Claytor.

Mere days after tabling for nearly a week at SDCC and interacting with thousands of soon-to-be fans on the con circuit, Ryan will be bravely embarking on his most ambitious in scope in-store signing tour to date. The Elephant Eater Comics Summer 2010 In-Store Signing Tour will see him trekking to a staggering 25 North American destinations, including 15 of our United States, 5 Canadian Provinces, and even 1 gourmet cupcake store!

I first met Ryan over three years ago at an in-store signing appearance and found him to be personable, articulate, and passionate about comics. He’s a consummate professional, whose pitch quickly compelled me to dive into his work. He’s not one of those amateur mini-comics creators just running off black and white copies at Kinko’s for their friends (not that there’s anything wrong with that); he’s the real deal. He’s the creator of the And Then One Day series of autobiographical comics, knowledgeable in design and print, and has the academic pedigree to support his more analytical work like Concatenations, his Masters Thesis in Autobiography in Comics.

Ryan posts regularly at his site, my favorite being his Small Press Professionalism series and the symbiotic web of relationships that can exist between creator, printer, distributor, retailer, promotion, convention, and critic. In addition to that entrepreneurial gusto, Ryan also teaches comic art courses at both Michigan State University and the University of Michigan (Flint). In that role, he’s been responsible for mentoring a crop of up-and-coming artists, some of whom I’ve had the pleasure of reading and reviewing. Ryan is part of a select cadre of industry individuals who have pretty high credibility with me. In short, when he speaks, I listen.

In 1884, Henry James wrote an essay about art and critical feedback. In one of my favorite passages, he says: “Art lives upon discussion, upon experiment, upon curiosity, upon variety of attempt, upon the exchange of views and the comparison of standpoints… discussion, suggestion, formulation, these things are fertilizing when they are frank and sincere.”

If you find yourself in one of Ryan’s tour cities, you’d be hard pressed to find a more enjoyable experience than chatting him up in just such a discussion, and then sitting down with one of his books. Not only do they entertain, but they offer up an analysis of the medium on par with veteran industry thinkers like Scott McCloud. As an advocate for the medium, I could tell you that by attending a Ryan Claytor function, you’ll be helping preserve an American art form, but really? You’ll primarily have a lot of fun.


At 8:39 AM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

Wow! Thanks so much for this listing, Justin. I really appreciate it. I'm gonna need all the help I can get on this tour, as many of the stores, states, and provinces are first-time stops for me. This will definitely help out.

Thank you,

Ryan Claytor
Elephant Eater Comics

At 8:59 AM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...

No problem, Ryan. I had fun writing this!


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