Paul Ryan, R.I.P.


SAD NEWS this morning out of Hudson, Massachusetts. The artist Paul Ryan, my partner on the Phantom daily newspaper strip for the last dozen years, died at 66 over the weekend.

I sent him a new 97-page script on Friday, and he was into it, read it immediately and hailed me with a question about panel 23, of 327. We discussed it and his final words to me in this life were: “Just wanted to make sure I give you the image you want. I think it’s pretty cool, too.”

Paul considered it a privilege to work on a classic character created by the great Lee Falk, in 1936. He and I thought exactly alike in that regard.

We also shared a love for Montana. He and his wife, Linda, enjoyed vacationing on a ranch in Sweetwater County, which borders my favorite place out there, Wheatland County.

(Correction: It’s Sweet Grass County, Montana. Sweetwater County is across the state line in Wyoming. Been there on the motorcycle as well. Both are wonderful places! See them when you can.)


Paul sent me this pic two summers ago, I think. He and Linda at the ranch.



He loved horses. Which may be why he was so good at drawing Hero, the Phantom’s trusty mount.



A hot day on the high plains. Time for a dip, hoss!


I close with three panels from a yarn recently published in newspapers around the world. We finished this one up on January 30. Here, a crime kingpin enjoys a night out, partying at a club in Mawitaan, capital of Bangalla, Africa. He leaves half a dozen goons waiting for him at the curb, in two SUVs.

The Phantom whups them all, stuffs them into one of the vehicles, and then waits for the boss to come out and get in the other one, none the wiser.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 11.02.38 AM

Paul modeled this thug on a friend of ours in Maryland, Pete Klaus. Haha! We had some fun over the years.

Pete, by the way, is a real gentleman. He just happens to look as if he dumps bodies in concrete for a living.

What a kick in the gut, waking up to news like this. I’m sure I haven’t even started to process it. Oh, man…

For now, all I can say is, Adios, partner.


Tony DePaul, March 7, 2016, Cranston, Rhode Island, USA


About Tony

The occasional scribblings of Tony DePaul, 62, father, grandfather, husband, freelance writer in many forms, ex-journalist, long-distance motorcycle rider, motorcycle wrecker, motorcycle rebuilder, collector of surgical hardware, blue routes wanderer, outdoorsman, topo map bushwhacker, handy with a wrench, hammer, chainsaw, rifle, former photographer, printer, logger, truck driver, truck mechanic, jet fueler… blah blah...
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21 Responses to Paul Ryan, R.I.P.

  1. Matthew Reed says:


    We’re thinking about you today, Tony.

    Go catch some two-wheel breeze and hang in-there.

    Bettendorf, IA

  2. brad says:

    Oh, Tony, sorry to hear this. Loss is never easy but I hope you find peace soon, my friend.

  3. Duane says:

    I can feel the pain in your post…take the day and reflect upon your friend and working partner, then go put a few nails in a board in whatever project you are working on – that’s good therapy. – Duane

  4. Joy says:

    Sad news today, indeed, Tony. No loss is easy, I’ve discovered; but then there are the losses that seem more significant to us somehow and they leave us reeling with unanswered questions. In those times I find memories to be more cathartic than pat answers from the well-meaning. Thinking of you today.

  5. Tarquino Félix says:

    One of those things that just made this day more sad. No joke, I just cried when I read this…… but, hope that Mr. Ryan will live for many years in his flawless legacy as an artist and in the memories of those who were blessed with his friendship. My prayers are with his family and friends. Descanse en paz.

  6. Tony says:

    Correction: I must have been looking at that photo of Paul and the horse going for a dip when I said, from memory, Sweetwater County, Montana. It’s Sweet Grass County. Sweetwater County is across the state line in Wyoming. Been there on the motorcycle as well. Both are wonderful places! See them when you can.

  7. Kerry Kohring says:

    My condolences, Tony.

  8. Kristin says:

    Moving – sorry to hear of your loss.

  9. Alex Saviuk says:

    So sorry to hear about this earlier today! Paul looked to be in good health but I hadn’t spoken to him in quite a while so I have no clues as to what might have happened. What a great guy most of all.. And a fantastic artist. He will be sorely missed.

  10. Jon Brush says:

    Sorry to hear of your loss, Tony. I became a Phantom fan in the 1950s but have lost touch over the years. What a partnership you had. Condolences.

  11. Scott Wirth says:

    Feel your disbelief in his passing. I met Paul for the first time in NOV 2015 at our con, but he made me feel like a long lost friend. He spoke of Linda and being married, his love of horses and the West, and his passion behind the Phantom and how it connected him to his father. I hope more people become aware of his greatness, but he was such a humble guy that it may not be what he would have wanted. Thoughts and prayers to you as you deal with the loss of your strip partner.

  12. Pete Klaus says:

    I think I enjoyed being this King Pin Character even more than you and Paul can imagine. Just think of it– Getting the “Crap” knocked out of you by your favorite comic character –It really made my day .
    Tony — a special thank you to you and Paul for allowing me to enjoy the Phantom even more than I thought was humanly possible. All my friends in Baltimore got a great deal of amusement at seeing me with the “Ghost Who Walks– Pete Klaus

    • Tony says:

      Hey, Pete. Oh hell, I know you’re in Maryland, I banged out that post this morning and wrote “Pennsylvania,” no doubt thinking of our old friend Ed, in Catawissa. I often think of your kindness to me when I was sitting around here mending bones after the motorcycle wreck in 2003. Here’s hoping all’s well where you are, Pete.

  13. Denise says:

    Tony, so very sorry for your loss. Hope you find many memories of Paul to hold onto. Sure looks like he lived in a Beautiful place.

  14. Paul lived just outside Boston, where I reside, and I was lucky enough to befriend him over the years at local conventions. He did a piece for me, “She-Hulk as Wonder Woman”, and it’s framed on a wall in my apartment. This tragic and unexpected news hit hard for all of us who knew him. Paul was a great guy, besides being a fantastic (and underrated) artist.

  15. Billy Tucci says:

    As a fan and someone who had the honor of spending a weekend with Paul a few years back at a convention and someone I had the prvilige of seeing at other cons from time to time, this is a terrible loss, for both myself and the entire comics community. But I cannot image what you must be feeling and am so, so sorry for the loss of your friend. Paul was a wonderful talent and even better man. He will never be forgotten. Phantom is an amazing strip and think it would be a fitting tribute to have many of us in the comics community to all contribute to complete the art for the script.

    • Tony says:

      Thanks, Billy. Yeah, I remember when Eduardo Barreto died in 2011, Paul stepped in to complete the Sunday story Eduardo had left unfinished. Now someone will need to produce the art ASAP for the final week of the story Paul was working on. The production deadlines are merciless, of course. They roll on, don’t stop for any of us.

      You know, now that I think about it, I’m not sure Paul completed the entire story that Eduardo wasn’t here to finish. I think Terry Beatty came in on that story, too. I’ll have to look that up. I think it’s the only yarn in Phantom history that three artists signed.

      • Billy Tucci says:

        If you need me to do it, it would be an honor and can match Paul’s style. I just need deadlines as I’m working on something but sure I can have it done. Please email me with scheduling.

  16. Karen Smith says:

    I’m tearing up as I read this. I’m so sorry Tony

  17. Bob McLeod says:

    Paul helped me on some deadlines on the Phantom comics for Egmont, and he was such a pleasure to work with. He always put 110% effort into his work, and never looked for shortcuts. He was the ultimate professional, and a very nice guy, to boot. Just a tragedy he died so young.

  18. Jostein Hansen says:

    Really devastating to hear about Paul Ryans passing.
    He handled the Phantom dailies (and Sundays earlier on) in both an dynamic and still very atmospheric and mysteriously way.

    Thoughts goes out to his family and friends, take care.

    Good to hear from great Phantom-artists like Alex and Bob, I have read several of the stories they have done for the Team Fantomen/Egmont Company.
    Bob did a splendid story about the Jungle Patrol in 2004, with script by Lennart Moberg. He also worked with Paul and Hans Lindahl on a three-part story (script by Claes Reimerthi) about Dogai Singh and Nostradamus in 2003.

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