Crash Ryan

Published by Epic Comics (Marvel), October 1984

Ron Harris, writer/artist; David Cody Weiss, letterer; Archie Goodwin, editor.

Set in 1935, the world of Crash Ryan is the world that was predicted in the pages of Popular Science but never quite came true in our reality. lt is a world of super airplanes and giant flying airports at the beginning of the "Air Age." The main character, Crash Ryan, is a pilot who gets caught up in the battle between the good guys, the United Airmen, and the bad guys, led by a masked world conqueror who calls himself "The Doom." There is plenty of action, most of it aerial, and a nicely detailed alternate universe.

Harris writes a great story and his artwork is very decent, too. His artistic style is rather old fashioned, which is perfectly suited to his subject. I did think his coloring was a little muddy, though that may have been a fault in the printing. The original story was a four-part limited series, but Harris brought back Crash and Barney in a three part story that ran in Dark Horse Presents in 1990 (issues 44-46).

This is one of my favorite comic book titles. I really enjoyed the world Harris created. Maybe I read too many Popular Science magazines as a kid.

Update: I was pleased recently to be contacted by Ron Harris, the creator of the Crash Ryan series. Ron provided some background about the series -

(T)he bad color was (partly, at least) the result of Marvel having its first experience with laser-scanned separations. The first two issues were scanned so "hot" that the scanner read through the color and picked up the texture of the paper I'd done the color on. They suggested I switch to less elaborate color (you'll notice the latter two issues use many more flat areas and less modelling) and simultaneously had the printer change the scan settings.

Though not young at the time (You and I are roughly the same age) I was inexperienced, and my drawing is much better now. I sometimes wish I could have done the series up "right." But Crash remains my favorite product in my spotty comics career.

(Influences: the Great God Milton Caniff--30s pop science magazines--"Things to Come" (movie)--Howard Hawks flying movies--George Evans--the unjustly (most of the time) ignored George Wunder--and BLACKHAWK!!!)

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