Tom K. Ryan – RIP

Tumbleweeds creator Tom K. Ryan has passed away.

Thomas Kreusch (Tom K.) Ryan
(aka T. K. Ryan)
June 6, 1926 – March 12, 2019


From the above linked funeral home obituary:

Tom began his career as a commercial artist in Muncie, Indiana. His love of the old west and his creative vision merged in 1965 as he created Tumbleweeds, a major nationally syndicated Cartoon strip.

This weekend an abbreviated obituary notice was printed in the Sarasota Herald Tribune.


In 1965 Tom K. Ryan took How The West Was Won, turned it on its head,
and created one of the great comic strips of the new post-WWII movement.

Tumbleweeds was a bit different than the other new “intellectual” strips. It wasn’t the gentle introspection of Peanuts, or the sophistication of B.C., and not the political intrigue of Conchy; though, at times, all those could and would be incorporated into Tom’s strip. Tumbleweeds was more sarcastic slapstick.

Adding to the humor was Tom’s ability to fracture the English language with high-falutin’ vocabulary combined with American slang and idioms, all delivered with Ryan’s inventive spelling an’ invented accents, which made reading the gags as much fun as the jokes themselves.

Tom’s art quickly became an unwavering clean and attractive line with little to no backgrounds,
making it perfect for the increasingly decreasing size of newspaper comics.


Back in the day, when visiting my local newsstand, I seldom experienced such delight as when a new Tumbleweeds paperback showed up in the racks. I got (and still have) most of them.


Here’s a few of the very early Tumbleweeds strips before the more lasting style emerged:

The later art style is on display at Comic Art Fans’ Tom K. Ryan page.


A newspaper profile of Tom K. Ryan from 1975:



Cartoonist John  R. Rose worked up a nice tribute to Tom:

R. C. Harvey wrote a very good obituary for The Comics Journal.




Ride On, Tom!



2 thoughts on “Tom K. Ryan – RIP

  1. I should augment my small handful of his books: It’s an investment that has always paid off in laughs. I’d say he’s one of the great ones.

  2. I admired TK Ryan’s graphic style of drawing…I always wondered how he was able to draw his characters so consistently on point, with each panel like a character sheet, exactly in proportion to every other panel. His gags were always a cut above the typical comic strip cliches; he had a Walt Kelly-esque way of getting each character’s speech pattern distinctly different.

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