Ryan Claytor

(517) 353-7812

206 Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture Building
375 Wilson Rd
East Lansing, MI 48824

FacultyArt, Art History, and Design

Assistant Professor
Comics & Graphic Novels


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. 

Elephant Eater Comics

Artist Statement

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.

University News

Art, Art History, and Design Faculty Triennial Exhibit Runs Through July 21 at MSU Broad
Published February 5, 2024 in College of Arts & Letters
The works of 22 Department of Art, Art History, and Design (AAHD) faculty are now on display through July 21, 2024, at the MSU Broad Art Museum as part of an exhibition that highlights the diverse,…Read now »
MSU Comics Forum Set for February 21-22
Published February 8, 2020 in College of Arts & Letters
Three people standing over an organized table of comics
This year’s Michigan State University Comics Forum, scheduled for February 21 and 22, will feature two keynote speakers, an artist alley, academic panel discussions, comic art exhibition,…Read now »
Studio Art Major Interns at Cartoon Network
Published March 20, 2019 in College of Arts & Letters
Graphic of Cartoon Network characters with the name Cartoon Network in the center of photo
College of Arts & Letters student Dania Abu-Rmaileh recently spent four months working at Cartoon Network Studios in Burbank, California, as a production intern. “I grew up on a lot of…Read now »
Comic Art and Graphic Novel Podcast Returns for a Second Year
Published September 8, 2017 in College of Arts & Letters
graphic illustration for the comic art and graphic novel podcast
The Michigan State University Comic Art and Graphic Novel Podcast is returning for its second year. The podcast is an interview program hosted by Art, Art History, and…Read now »
Comics Forum Celebrates its 10th Anniversary
Published February 20, 2017 in College of Arts & Letters
photo of multiple comic books laid together
The MSU Comics Forum will celebrate its 10th anniversary February 24-25 with two keynote speakers, the work of about three dozen artists, and several panel discussions. Director of the…Read now »