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Cartoonist balances grim with whimsy

Santa Fe-based cartoonist worked for months to create his current book, “Blood Nut.” (Courtesy of Ryan T. Cook)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Inside Ryan T. Cook’s mind is a universe of wonder.

At times, it can be grim. Yet, he balances it with a touch of whimsy.

The Santa Fe-based cartoonist spends the majority of his time bringing that world to life on the page.

His latest work, “Blood Nut,” is the second in the “White Glove” series he created. It was released in February.

“For ‘White Glove,’ I wanted to have everything figured out,” Cook says. “I aimed to get it to a point so it could be satisfying.”

Cook says the story is bizarre, and is a mashup of cartoon and comics representative of those drawn during the 1920s through the 1990s.

The story follows Enoch Squirrel, who heads out into the woods in search of a missing beaver lumberjack.

He runs into a memorable cast of carriers along the way.

A pages from the book “Blood Nut” by Ryan T. Cook. (Courtesy of the artist)

“I had started working and I knew I wanted to make a new book,” he says. “I had a flash of inspiration and started to study people who have been successful in their genres. If you want to make something that is a classic, it’s about combining contradicting ideas. Keeping that in mind, for ‘White Glove,’ I wanted to combine something that is dark and rotten, while making it appealing and dynamic.”

Cook moved to Santa Fe two years ago from Florida.

It’s a move that he says was much needed.

“New Mexico is something special,” he says. “There’s all kind of energy floating around.”

Before he left Florida, Cook got a degree in film from Florida State University.

Beginning in July 2020, Cook would begin drawing at 8 p.m. daily and work throughout the night.

This is when the cast of characters would take shape on the page.

Cook’s biggest obstacle was the editing process.

A page from the book “Blood Nut” by Ryan T. Cook. (Courtesy of the artist)

He says that, when beginning, he was hesitant to jump into it because of his instinct to self-edit.

“I made a conscious effort with this book to just write and not edit myself,” he says. “It was just about putting sequences and story points down on paper. I’m the toughest person on myself. I took my time with the book and it’s great to have it out.”

While he would create, he kept the books, “The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation” and David Sylvester’s “Interviews with Francis Bacon” by his side.

“‘Illusion of Life’ was written by two animators who were the big dogs for classic Disney,” he says. “Within that book, they give a step by step on how to create a classic. The other book is amazing because I’m obsessed with Francis Bacon.”

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