Ralph, Brian 1973- (Brian Patrick Ralph)

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Ralph, Brian 1973- (Brian Patrick Ralph)

PERSONAL:

Born 1973, in Metuchen, NJ; married; wife's name Megan; children: Miles. Education: Rhode Island School of Design, B.F.A., 1996.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Baltimore, MD. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Cartoonist. Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD, adjunct professor. Fort Thunder (art collective), Providence, RI, member, 1996-99.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Cave-In was chosen one of the five best comics of 1999 by Comics Journal; Ignatz Awards for outstanding new talent and outstanding minicomic.

WRITINGS:

Cave-In, Highwater Books (Somerville, MA), 1999.

Climbing Out, Fireball (Baltimore, MD), 2002.

Crum Bums, Highwater Books (Somerville, MA), 2003.

Daybreak, Bodega (Jersey City, NJ), 2006.

Contributor to periodicals, including EXPO 2000, Nickelodeon, Drama, Pulse, Ganzfeld, Dark Horse Mavericks, and McGraw-Hill textbooks. Illustrator for periodicals, including Wired, Giant Robot, New York Times, New York Daily News, and the New York Post.

SIDELIGHTS:

Brian Ralph is a cartoonist whose wordless books Cave-In and Climbing Out have achieved considerable popularity and been nominated for various awards, including the Ignatz, Harvey, and Eisner. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design with a B.F.A. in illustration, Ralph took up residence at the Fort Thunder art collaborative. In a Girl Hero Web site interview, Ralph described his time at Fort Thunder: "It's a big place and always had ten or so people living there. I don't know how to really do it justice. It is the most insane place, constant chaos, floor to ceiling garbage and art, and bats and rats, everywhere. I was there for three years, no heat in the place, I had to sleep in a sleeping bag for all those years. It wasn't intended to be an arts commune or anything like that, it just so happened that most of the people there drew comics, and those who didn't just started drawing them." Here in this old jewelry factory-cum-artist community, Ralph penned Cave-In before moving to Maryland.

Cave-In features a cave-dweller whose dinner is stolen by a rat. In pursuit of his food, the protagonist goes through numerous caverns, each full of increasing peril, including monsters, tiny people, and forbidden tombs. Writing on Artbomb.net, Christopher Sebela called the book "at turns cute and dark, satisfying as both bedtime story and fuzzy allegory." Greg McElhatton, a reviewer for iComics.com, found Ralph's art "both simple and expressive," and declared that Cave-In is "an incredibly slick package in all aspects: story, art, and production design." James Norton, writing on the Flakmagazine Web site, commented that this book "has what it takes to stand up as really solid work of art."

The prehistoric world was also the setting for Climbing Out, but here the protagonist is a monkey. He falls into a mysterious hole and encounters a caveman with a magic book leading to many adventures and misadventures after time-traveling to a bombed-out city. A reviewer writing in the Baltimore City Paper praised Ralph's focus on the fine details, which he noted "will more than hold your attention." According to Peter Aaron Rose, reviewing the work on Artbomb.net: "The results are nothing short of spectacular." Norton, reviewing the work in Flakmagazine, stated: "Like a classic fairy tale, his latest graphic novel wields a disarmingly simple style that conceals a rich mother-lode of meaning." He went on to call it "hypnotic and tremendously fun."

In 2003 Ralph published a minicomic, Crum Bums. Similar to the setting and characterization of Climbing Out, the tale takes place in a postapocalyptic world run by competing gangs. In it a boy who develops an appreciation for music and a backpack-wearing monkey cross paths and deal with the local gangs. Reviewing the work on iComics.com, Greg McElhatton stated: "As always, Ralph's art is wonderful. The simple faces of his characters are extremely expressive, and the amount of detail put into the backgrounds … is a real treat."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Baltimore City Paper, September 18, 2002, review of Climbing Out.

ONLINE

Artbomb.net,http://www.artbomb.net/ (August 19, 2003), Peter Aaron Rose, review of Climbing Out; (December 28, 2006), Christopher Sebela, review of Cave-In.

Flakmagazine,http://www.flakmag.com/ (December 28, 2006), James Norton, reviews of Cave-In and Climbing Out.

Girl Hero,http://www.girlhero.com/ (December 28, 2006), Megan Kelso, author interview.

HillCity-Comics.com,http://www.hillcity-comics.com/ (March 4, 2004), review of Climbing Out.

iComics.com,http://www.icomics.com/ (October 15, 1999), Greg McElhatton, review of Cave-In; (May 1, 2000), Greg McElhatton, review of Crum Bums.

Maryland Institute College of Art Web site,http://www.mica.edu/ (December 28, 2006), author profile.

Read Yourself Raw,http://www.readyourselfraw.com/ (December 28, 2006), author profile.

Comics Journal,http://www.tcj.com/ (December 28, 2006), Tom Spurgeon, author interview.