Ryan Larkin (1943-2007)

Ryan Larkin

Canadian animation legend Ryan Larkin passed away on February 14 from brain cancer. Larkin directed and animated the 1969 Oscar-nominated short Walking, as well as Syrinx (1965), Cityscape (1966) and Street Musique (1972). The news of Larkin’s passing comes from Ottawa International Animation Festival artistic director Chris Robinson who heard the news from Chris Landreth, director of the Oscar-winning short Ryan (2004), which documented Larkin’s amazing art and troubled life. Larkin had recently been making a comeback into the animation world; his most recent pieces—a series of three interstitials—had appeared on MTV Canada in December 2006. Ryan’s official website is RyanBango.com.

Here are a few more details about Larkin’s passing from an email written by his longtime friend, Felicity Fanjoy:

Ryan departed this life on Valentine’s Day around eleven o’clock in the evening. He died in the palliative care unit of the Hotel Dieu Hospital in St. Hyacinthe QC of lung cancer that had spread to the brain.

Before slipping into unconsciousness at the beginning of this week, his last words to Laurie Gordon (his guardian angel who, along with her family, have encouraged, supported and helped Ryan in every way possible in the last couple of years) were: ‘I’m happy. I’m okay. I like it here.’ A few days earlier he also said, ‘I just want to rest and rest and rest and rest and rest until the end of my days.’ And that is what he did.

Update: Interesting memories of Ryan Larkin here and here. A nice obit can be found in the Montreal Gazette.

Below are Larkin’s short Syrinx and Chris Landreth’s short Ryan. (Thanks, Rogelio Toledo)

Street Musique


  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Esn Esn

    My condolences to his family, friends and colleagues… this is indeed sad news.

    It’s doubly sad because his death came just as he was finally turning his life around. Ryan was one of the most creative people in animation. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the sheer artistry and joy of “Street Musique” (which I think was his masterpiece).

  • MitchK

    Wow, terrible and unexpected. I was looking forward to his next film and the possibility of meeting him. So long.

  • Paul

    Heard about this last night at an event with Marcy Page from NFB. She’d only heard herself a couple of hours before and was still pretty upset. It came as quite a shock to those in the audience who knew Ryan’s work.

  • http://bellsouthpwp.net/l/a/lara6281/intro.html Inkan1969

    Oh, my God. The cable channel LinkTV had been showing “Ryan” and a making-of documentary of that short frequently. That’s how I came to hear abour Ryan Larkin. That short clearly broadcast the inspiration seen in Larkin’s shorts, and vividly portrayed the frustration Larkin was feeling in his inability to continue to produce. I really hoped Larkin could find a cure for his troubles and put his life back together. I’m devastated by this news. :-(

  • Chris Sobieniak

    (moans) And he was just getting started again!

  • Brad Constantine

    I got the “Animation Book” when I was a kid and would spend countless hours puring over its contents, which included several of Ryan’s best films. All of which are still inspiring and interesting to watch. I was pleased to see him come back into animation after all those years and knowing that if he left us, that he would do so doing what he loved to do most…My thanx to Chris Landreth who helped show him the way out of darkness and back into the light.
    Rest in piece, brother Ryan.

  • Ubershep

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO….This is one of the few deaths I’ll ever grieve over (sorry, mother). A true genius. Now we’ll never see his finished movie. I hope to God people will now know more about him.

    Rest in peace, Mr. Larkin.

  • Chris Robinson

    All was not what it appeared to be folks. Be careful not to get caught up in making Ryan into something he wasn’t.

  • Pieless

    Oh God, what sad news. I was just earlier today watching my Ryan DVD, and listened to his commentaries. I had watched Ryan sometime last year, and just recently found out last month that he was getting his life together . At least he died at peace with the world though.

  • http://www.tarofish.com Sean Scott

    It is truly a sad day. I had the privilege of sharing drinks with Ryan at a local watering hole here in Montreal. He was a colourful fellah with lots to say. Your mug will be missed on St-Laurent.

  • Lonnie Lapierre

    I am sad that he is gone, but happy he got his passion back, and was working on a project before he passed. His work was one of a master. R.I.P. Ryan Larkin.

  • http://siskavard.blogspot.com Corey

    That’s unfortunate.

    Has anyone seen the MTV spots he worked on? Is there anywhere to view them online?

  • http://zekeyspaceylizard.blogspot.com ZekeySpaceyLizard

    This is so sad. He was such a creative genius. We studied all his films in college. :(

  • Gru

    Sad. He was one of the greatest. Rest in peace Ryan.

  • http://gagaman.blogspot.com GagaMan

    Man, that’s another amazing talent we’ve lost right there. Just as he was getting back into his zone, too. I learned about this guy, like many, from watching Ryan. He had a truly magical imagination.

  • http://jedaniels-adventures.blogspot.com/ Jpox

    Too bad. He was just trying to put his life back together too.
    Condolences to his family. R.I.P. Mr. Larkin.

  • http://crisafullidoodles.blogspot.com/ Marc Crisafulli

    I found Chris Landreth’s film online a few years ago when it had been nominated for an Oscar. A very complex piece of work… intricate and multifacted… not just in the technology employed, but also in the way the Ryan is revealed to us as an artist and human being.

    It troubles me to see Ryan’s artistry just a day after his death is made public, and that I didn’t bother to seek it out sooner.

  • http://www.neilemacview.blog.ca neilemac

    I’m sure Ryan would want me to take this opportunity of the gathering here to reach out and say ‘hello’ to those of us still schlepping through this life and still tapping it out. This time for me it’s on a keyboard, not in tap shoes, but ironically this has to be the saddest tap experience I ever had; trying to find the right words to type, to say ‘goodbye’ to someone who has unwittingly given me much more than he’d ever known when alive.

    So ‘Hello’ Tanya, Felicity, Tim, Alden, Ross, Glenn, Hughie, André-Gilles, etc, all the gang from “rue St Norbert”, bar St. Laurent…

    Like I used to say many times during wild and celebratory moments among all of you and especially Ryan, ‘love is always.’

    I tried to reach you Ryan, but you stubborn ass, you declined. Too bad, I turned out to be a ripe old ‘fool’ too. So see you on the other side you old ‘bango’ brain. If it really doesn’t exist, I’m sure you’ll draw us up a sketch of it anyway. Take a break pal, be seeing you…

    Love Is Always…
    neil E mac [alias Neil Dune (a play on 'down' remember Ryan?)]

  • http://fabianfucci.blogspot.com/ Fabián Fucci

    Having seen Ryan Larkin’s animated shorts when I was in my teens was a blast. I was already in the path into animation, but his works gave me the final conviction. I am really sorry about the problems he had in his life.

  • Lisa Soper

    I belive that everyone who took the time to get to know Ryan learned something from him, bad or good. I learned alot from him.

    Thanks. And thank you Chris Robinson, your comments are greatly appreciated.

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  • http://www.ryanbango.com Laurie

    Ryan’s film Spare Change WILL be finished. We still need donations. It is unfortunate that after three years of asking for spare change for his film, Ryan had yet to to receive full funding, despite all the bleeding hearts. The world is still not always kind even when your misery goes public and people empathize.

  • http://na Mikado

    I grew up with the Ntl Film board, makers of some of the best animation and documentaries anywhere……its a terrible shame that the board’s money has been nearly dried up over the years , and quality films may no longer be made in Canada by Ryan and those who might follow him ! RIP Ryan

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  • http://utopiamoment.ca Jack Ruttan

    I think asking for donations to finish a film called “Spare Change” is perfect. Ryan proably would have gotten a giggle from it.

  • Terry

    Wow, I can’t believe I missed this. I animated on “Ryan” and was drawn to his life story – thats what left me working on it till the end. Thank you Ryan for bringing to the world a perspective rarely seen.

  • http://Myspace Jim Leahey

    Hey Barb, Felicity.

    Too bad to hear about Ryan towards the end, and then to hear that he passed away.
    Of course made me think about you. Havent found any contact info, but enjoyed some of your photos wandering through google.

    Good Luck, Jim and Fely Leahey
    Calgary

  • Kate Tippett

    It’s 3:15 A.M. and having just watched Chris Landreth’s brilliant film Ryan, I immeditely ran to my computer to find more information about Ryan. I was so taken by him and his life and work that I wanted to know more about him. I wanted to communicate with him and nurturer that I am, I wanted to make sure that he was all right.

    I can’t believe that he is dead. I am saddened by the loss but happy that Ryan was able to enjoy his art during his last years.

    I hope he is at peace and am grateful for his legacy. Thanks to Chris Landreth for highlighting Ryan’s life.

  • http://www.granthamandir.com Jan Brzezinski

    With all the publicity surrounding Chris Landreth’s film, so many memories came back to me of 1969 and 1970, with Felicity (whom I knew as Barbara back then) and Jim. All those cats! Ryan was an inspiration to me then; his apartment in the Plateau was a safe haven, and, had Fortune not led me in a different direction, I would likely have become more serious about art. It was almost unbelievable to me to hear after all these years that not long after those bright days, Ryan became so disoriented. Seeing him on the film and documentary he seemed so unlike the bright light we knew back then.

    At any rate, I will always have fond memories of Ryan, his films (he was working on that joyful, psychedelic Syrinx when I knew him) and indeed hope that in his current manifestation he is experiencing all the positive and creative that was in him and overcoming all that was destructive.