Big in Japan!: Interview with Tres Dean by Jerry Whitworth


For almost twenty years, Joey Ryan has performed as the sleaziest professional wrestler in the world. Sporting his trademark sunglasses, white sports jacket, Hawaiian trunks, cherry lollipop, coiffed hair, trimmed mustache, and baby oil glistening, tanned, hairy torso, Ryan became a viral sensation when during a match he employed a suplex on opponent Danshoku Dino in Japan’s DDT Pro using only the strength of his penis. Subsequently, Ryan would acquire the title of King of Dong Style and become sponsored by the website YouPorn and his penis-based suplex would become known as the YouPorn plex. Ryan would also become featured on the El Rey television series Lucha Underground (now streaming on Netflix) as corrupt police officer Joseph Meehan working undercover as underground fighter Joey Ryan to help prevent the end of the world (Ryan was also featured on MTV’s Wrestling Society X, co-founded Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, and has performed for Ring of Honor and TNA Impact). However, Ryan is now making the move to the four-color page in the upcoming one-shot Joey Ryan: Big in Japan! from Chido Comics from the team of Tres Dean and Jamie Jones (Dodger). With the book launching on Kickstarter April 4th, we spoke with Tres Dean about the project. Tres, for those who maybe unfamiliar with your work, would you tell us a little bit about your past projects?

Tres Dean: Of course! So I’ve been writing comics for four years now. I’ve mostly worked in self-publishing, which I do under the tent of High Noon Studios with my comics brother (and the artist of Joey Ryan) Jamie Jones. Most notably, I’ve been making a book called Dodger, which is basically a Clint Eastwood western but all of the cowboys have mech suits, for 2 years with Jamie. Between the shorts we started out with and the full-length issues we’ve done since then, there’s well over 100 pages of it available online and in print. The other big one is Kill the Drug War, which is a super obscene, hyperviolent 80’s action movie homage I made with Kendrick Drews. It debuted at the Small Press Expo last year and it’s a lot of fun. Lots of katanas. Lots of guns. Lots of bad dudes getting put in deep graves.


CAC: You have an upcoming Kickstarter to publish a one-shot comic on real life professional wrestler Joey Ryan called Joey Ryan: Big in Japan! Would you tell us a little bit about him and if the project will be based on the person or the character? And if the character, will it be an original interpretation or a version of him from one of his many roles (PWG, WSX, DDT Pro, Lucha Underground, etc)?

TD: Joey’s character is basically Magnum PI meets Ron Jeremy. It’s incredible. You know exactly what kind of character he is before he even gets to the ring. The project is based on the character, not the man behind him, and sort of depicts a hodgepodge of the different incarnations of Joey Ryan. When we meet him in the book, he’s definitely a ring veteran and you get the vibe that he’s been everywhere, done everything. He’s tired, sort of world-weary; Exactly what you’d imagine someone who’s been traveling the world beating other wrestlers up for close to 20 years would be like. He’s lived many lives, and the plot of Big in Japan! will effectively focus on him having to revisit those lives despite that being the last thing he ever wanted to do.


CAC: How did the project come about and who is working with you on the book? Did Joey Ryan have input into the work?

TD: I was contacted by the editor, Ivan Plaza of Chido Comics, to work on the book. He’d already picked Jamie as the artist and after reading Kill the Drug War Ivan thought I’d be a good fit. Joey’s been on board from the start and has effectively served as a second editor. He gave us free reign to do what we felt was best for the book from the start but we’ve also run every decision by him for approval. Making sure we make something that honors the character he’s spent so long crafting is our biggest priority with this comic and I hope the end result conveys that.


CAC: How much of the project is already done and what’s the time table for release should the crowdfunding campaign succeed?

TD: So we have the book outlined and partially scripted. There are also three pages of finished art that will debut closer to the campaign so that potential donors can see what sort of product they’re investing in. I can’t say we have a set date in mind to have it in the can, printed, and out to donors quite yet, but the day that we hit our funding goal, however early or late that may be, I’ll start finishing the script to get it to Jamie. In a perfect world, I’d love to be able to debut it in print at HeroesCon in Charlotte, NC, which is in mid-June.


CAC: What do some of the pledge levels include?

TD: We’re keeping this a bit of a surprise for the actual campaign launch, but obviously there will be copies of the book available to donors, both digitally and in print. I know there’s some fun stuff in the works but don’t want to spoil anything. I’m also pretty sure there will be some cool Joey Ryan memorabilia for some of the higher pledge levels. Maybe if someone just fully funds the book themselves the entire creative team and Joey will personally give them a baby oil bath. Something like that. Maybe. Probably not.


CAC: Prior to this project, were you a fan of pro wrestling? What is your impression of the parallel between pro wrestling and comic books?

TD: Oh yeah. I’ve been a fan for a long time and I think there’s a lot of overlap, though not necessarily in the ways people are keen to point out. The comparison that gets thrown around is that wrestling is “like a real-life superhero fight” or “like a soap opera for guys”, which isn’t inaccurate but definitely something of an oversimplification. If you’re comparing them to superhero comics, the commonality that they share is that they’re a sort of ongoing serialized narrative about heroes and villains having fistfights. But where wrestling differentiates itself is in the ability for the status quo to change. Superhero comics, while I love them, are very much married to a status quo. Superman is always gonna be Superman. Batman is always gonna be Batman. But wrestling allows for characters to grow, change, become villains or heroes without the audience knowing for an absolute fact that that change is temporary. And wrestling, as someone once put it, is the only storytelling medium on the planet where you can watch, over the course of years, a background player slowly climb the ladder and become the main character. And I think that was one of the things that really drew me in when I first started watching. I’ll never get to see my favorite X-Man, Havok, become the internationally-recognized face of that franchise over Wolverine or Cyclops, the de-facto team leader, the guy kids are dressing up as for Halloween. But I got to watch CM Punk make that journey, and he did it in real life.


CAC: While you’re undoubtedly focused on the success of Joey Ryan: Big in Japan!, are there any other projects you maybe working on you would like to mention are coming on the horizon?

TD: I’ve got some pitches in the work at some publishers, and I’m holding out hope that I’ll get to do some more work with Joey through Chido Comics. Aside from that, I’m always working on Dodger with Jamie and he’s got a cool Patreon-centric project he’s collaborating on with a few writers (me being one of them) called The Whisper, which should launch soon. I’m also working on a one-shot called Nuke the Moon, which will, hopefully, debut at SPX in September. If anyone wants to check out my work, they can do so on Gumroad or Patreon.


You can find Tres Dean on Twitter and Facebook, Jamie Jones on Twitter and Facebook, Joey Ryan on Twitter and Facebook, and Chido Comics on Twitter and Facebook for the latest details on Joey Ryan: Big in Japan! as its Kickstarter campaign goes live April 4, 2017. Joey Ryan offers merchandise for his brand via