The Edinburgh-born artist created the character of cowardly pirate Horatio Pugwash in 1950. He first appeared in the pages of Eagle comic before featuring in a long-running series of books.
But it was the animated BBC TV adaptation that turned the character into a TV icon. My memories are of the 1974/75 colour revival, which was regularly repeated into the early 80s, but the original series, filmed in black and white, was made in 1957/58 and was aired until 1967.
The cartoons used an innovative real-time animation technique more akin to puppetry, in which cardboard cut-outs of of the characters were placed on painted backgrounds and moved using an ingenious system of hidden levers. In fact, the earliest episodes were performed and filmed live.
Here is the Channel 4 News tribute to John Ryan:
Ryan also created another show the Choob fondly remembers from his childhood called Mary, Mungo and Midge, about a girl, her pet dog and a mouse. It used the same style of animation but was more educational and aimed at younger viewers than Pugwash. Here’s one of the episodes (several more are on YouTube):