Ryan Cecil Smith is an American currently living in Japan and his comics reflect this geography. They are a masterful melange of cross-cultural influences, but Smith’s world building and storytelling amount to more than homage. His comics, including the recently released S.F. #3, are daring, humorous, fun, and charming—much like the cartoonist himself.
Ryan was kind enough to sit down and discuss his newest book, his influences and what it takes to cut it in the S.F.S.F.S.F.
The S.F. series is ever expanding and so is the universe you have created, where did it all start?
I was buying heaps of Matsumoto Leiji comics for 50 cents at the used book store, and I was amazed at how intense, moral, and uncynical all of his stories were. They all carried strikingly similar archetypes and images—such as a tall blonde motherly woman, a small underdog kid, and infinitely huge starships traveling infinitely far across the universe. It was so compelling! I can’t make stories like these because I lack his complete conviction … but I can sorta translate the joy I feel from them into a contemporary language I’m familiar with … which I guess is funny comics?
The S.F.S.F.S.F. are the most elite fighting force in the galaxy. What does it take to join them?
Well you have to be a very elite fighter AND (don’t forget please) a very elite scientist. You must also have complete, intense, moral, and uncynical convictions for learning and improving the world and overcoming adversity.
I have always been struck by how fully realized the S.F.-verse is. And I am not just thinking about the comics, but also the ancillary items like the lapel pin and the wonderful stationery you use. Following S.F. is like being a member of a fantastic club. How do these “extras” relate to the comics, and do you have any others planned?
I am so glad you like them! It’s always been as much fun for me to design the “package” as the contents. Stationery, special envelopes, and of course the somewhat austere but colorful format of the books (I hope that is an accurate description) is designed to prime the reader to enjoy his or her experience receiving, reading, and keeping the books.
Lucy and Hupa are in a pretty tight spot at the end of S.F. #3, without revealing any spoilers, can you give us an idea of what to expect in S.F. #4?
I don’t wanna say!!!!!!
For another Q&A with a Koyama Press artist check out Cole Closser’s here!