Ryan Claytor

Assistant Professor, Fixed Term

206 Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture
East Lansing, MI 48823




Ryan Claytor is a comics artist and professor living in Lansing, Michigan. He is the coordinator of the Michigan State University Comic Art and Graphic Novel Minor (www.tinyurl.com/MSUComicsMinor) and teaches the comics studio courses at MSU. Claytor’s work has garnered numerous awards including top prize, 1st place in the Graphic Novel category, at the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo annual awards.  Claytor’s achievements have included a Cartoonist in Residence position at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, California, visiting lecturerships at the Dallas Museum of Art and the Savannah College of Art and Design, an internship with Marvel Comics in New York City, and judging the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailing Award in 2007. In 2009 the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco featured an exhibition of his work and Claytor both developed and taught the first comics studio course in Michigan State University’s history.  He also has an international client list which includes Moleskin, Verizon Wireless, Stern Pinball Inc., and London-based Mr. Jones Watches for whom he designed the fastest selling watch in company history. 


I am interested in autobiographical narratology as it relates to comics. In recent projects, I have advanced the limits of size, materials, format and content in an attempt to push comics beyond the standard handheld page size. Broadening my format repertoire into media not traditionally associated with the comic book also creates opportunities to lend meaning to the narrative content itself. My current focus is on longer‐length narratives that allow space to illustrate
an idiosyncratic depiction of human experiences.

Looking over my body of work, there are many differences from what one would traditionally consider to be comics. To more accurately represent a human experience, my sequential artwork portrays scenarios in an often understated and contemplative approach, focusing on overlooked moments of everyday life. Every element, from panel size to color scheme, scripted conversations to facial expressions, has an attention to detail that uproots the comics medium from its entrenched subgenres of capes and fluffy animals and transplants it into the rich soil of our subtle and nuanced reality.

The exploration of identity through a medium so ripe with potential is exciting. While autobiography itself has existed (arguably) since 1491, when Albrecht Durer first turned to himself as both subject and artist during the German Renaissance, autobiography in comics has only been around since around 1972, when Justin Green first published his series chronicling his own obsessive compulsive disorder long before it was a household acronym. The fact this subsection of art history is so new and unexplored makes it a fresh and inspiring place to push the boundaries of what was previously thought to be comics.

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