Pullbox Interview: Eric discusses “A Hunter’s Tale” with Author and Creator Ryan Claytor

Hey, Pullbox readers! Recently I had the pleasure of connecting with Ryan Claytor – Art Professor, Comics Artist, owner of Elephant Eater Comics and the creator behind the current crowd-funding campaign for his new comic, A Hunter’s Tale.

Eric: First off, Ryan, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Let’s jump right into your most recent project A Hunter’s Tale. I think this is an amazing piece, but can you tell our readers more about it?

Ryan: Hi Eric.  Well, before I get into this project, thank YOU for your time here.  I so appreciate the opportunity to connect with your readers about this comic I’m so passionate about.  

So, A Hunter’s Tale was actually a poem written almost 40 years ago by my late grandfather, Charles Kermit Claytor, which I very recently finished adapting and illustrating in comics form. It’s hard for me to express how much this book means to me.  It’s about two seemingly disparate subjects (a hunter and his prey) who form an unlikely understanding of one another.  At its core, it’s about different world views finding reciprocated empathy.

Eric: Were there other inspirations for the tale? Other collaborators?

Ryan: The inspiration for this work was two-fold.  First, this poem has resonated with me for a very long time.  For a poem, it’s very narratively and visually driven.  I feel like I’ve been able to SEE the visuals of this poem for a long time but haven’t found the right time to tackle it.  During the past couple years of pandemic life, this increasingly divisive world we’ve all been experiencing magnified the necessity for this poem’s message to reach a larger audience. 

Eric: When will readers be able to get a hold of “A Hunter’s Tale” and where?

Ryan: Very soon!  In fact, RIGHT NOW you can go to www.AHuntersTale.com , which will take you directly to the currently running Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing of this comic.  At the end of this month the campaign will wrap, I’ll have the books printed, and by the end of March the physical copies will be in backers’ mailboxes.

Eric: Tell me about Elephant Eater Comics.

Ryan:  Elephant Eater Comics is the moniker under which I’ve been self-publishing my comics since 2004.  My focus is typically on non-fiction comics.  I started my career doing autobiographical work, then began researching theories about autobiography during my graduate studies and thinking about how that related to comics.  That research bled into my autobio comics in a number of ways.  My most recent work prior to A Hunter’s Tale is called Coin-Op Carnival.  It’s a 64-page print publication documenting the history and stories surrounding electro-mechanical coin-operated amusement devices (pinball and arcade games manufactured prior to 1978).  I illustrated the entire book and co-wrote it with my great friend and technical genius, Nick Baldridge.

Eric: You are an artist, author and academic – What did you read growing up that inspired you into the world of comics?

Ryan:  I was a pretty reluctant reader growing up and it wasn’t until I discovered the Disney “duck” comics (Donald and Uncle Scrooge), around the age of 6 or 7, that I really started enjoying reading.  As I aged up a bit, maybe 8 or 9, I started appreciating satire more and was enamored with the work of Sergio Aragones on Groo the Wanderer.  Thankfully, it’s one of the few pieces of media I enjoyed in my youth which still holds up for me to this day.

Eric: Any recent comic titles out there that you would recommend?

Ryan:  I’m a big fan of Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo.  Most issues are easy jumping on points and typically the stories are complete in about 24 pages.  Each installment is like a masterclass in single-issue storytelling.

Eric: Shameless plug time: Any other projects coming up?

Ryan:  I appreciate the offer but, honestly, I’m having a hard time seeing past this kickstarter right now.  Ha-ha!  It’s pretty all-encompassing.  But while conducting this campaign has taken a lot of time, it’s been really fun getting to tell so many people about my grandfather’s poem that I’ve admired for so very long.  It’s an amazing feeling to have a closer creative connection to the poem, and to him, and soon be able to share his work with a wider audience than he was able to reach during his lifetime.

Eric: Ryan, thanks again for talking with us today. Readers, please click through to www.AHuntersTale.com to be taken directly to the Kickstarter campaign and if you’d like to know more about Ryan and his work, there’s a lot more at www.ElephantEater.com 

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