C2E2 2012: Artist Ryan Stegman Added to FANTASTIC FOUR

If you’re the type to pay close attention to these sorts of things, you might have noticed that each one of artist Ryan Stegman’s projects at Marvel has been more high profile than the next. First he was doing one-shots like Sif, then the She-Hulks miniseries, which led to a major tie-in to 2011’s Marvel event series, Fear Itself: Hulk vs. Dracula. Before long, he was on an ongoing series — Scarlet Spider, which debuted this past January.

As announced Saturday during the “Amazing Spider-Man” panel at the C2E2 convention in Chicago, Stegman’s next move is to pages of the “World’s Greatest Comic Magazine.” He’s the new artist of Fantastic Four as of August’s issue #609, just two months before the previously announced departure of Jonathan Hickman, who’s been writing the book since 2009.

Newsarama reached out to Stegman via email to discuss working on Marvel’s First Family, collaborating with Hickman, how his approach to Fantastic Four compares to his work on Scarlet Spider and the fact that he “loves drawing the ladies” — a not entirely shocking revelation given many of his early projects. [Newsarama note: No Fantastic Four art by Ryan Stegman was available from Marvel at press time. The above image is from the cover of April's Fantastic Four #605, by Ron Garney.]

Newsarama: Ryan, you've had a very steady rise in the past couple of years, and now you're coming on board the series that started the Marvel Age. How does it feel to be taking on a book with such a long and revered legacy?

Ryan Stegman: It feels amazing! I got to take a crack at Amazing Spider-Man and that was awesome because I view that as the greatest comic franchise ever. And Fantastic Four is no different. With the legendary Kirby and Lee run and John Byrne's run, it's just amazing to me that my name will be next to theirs. It's surreal.  

Nrama: And to that end, how big of a Fantastic Four fan are you in general? Which of the book's main cast are you especially excited to draw? (Thing seems like an obvious pick, but I'm sure there are others.)

Stegman: More than anything I'm excited to draw the Four in cool team shots. I think one of the things that makes the FF so appealing is that their powers and sizes and shapes make for really interesting compositions. Mr. Fantastic is so stretchy that you can use him in crazy ways to fill out a drawing. And the Thing's bulk is really fun to play with. And Sue Storm... Well, I love drawing the ladies. So I think that it'll be really cool when I get to do that first iconic team shot.

Nrama: Jonathan Hickman's run on Fantastic Four has been characterized by a lot of heady, far-out concepts — what excites you most about working with him on the book?

Stegman: Haha, you said it in the question! The heady, far out concepts are why a lot of fans are drawn to Jonathan's work, and I'm no different. Though I will also say that I've really enjoyed the quiet family moments that Jonathan has written in the book. I am a sucker for that stuff.

Nrama: To play a little Six Degrees of Separation, I know from Twitter that you're pals with Nick Pitarra, Hickman's collaborator on The Manhattan Projects. Were you acquainted with Hickman himself before starting on Fantastic Four?

Stegman: First of all, I'd like to thank you for giving Nick a reason to bluster more via Skype. "They mentioned me in your interview. My star is so bright," he'll say, probably while flexing into the camera. But enough about him.

It really is sort of strange that I'm now working with Jonathan because Nick and I met at a signing I did in Houston for Scarlet Spider. And it seems like only a few months after that I was suddenly going to be working with Jonathan too. And I actually had never met Jonathan until the other day! I had proofread both of the first two issues of Manhattan Projects for them, but only through Nick. So it's all been kind of funny the way that it worked out.  


Nrama: Clearly, Fantastic Four is a very different book from say, Scarlet Spider — how is your approach to this project different from what we've seen from you in the past?

Stegman: I plan on bringing a lot of what I did on Scarlet Spider to Fantastic Four. I've started to create or at least find my own voice storytelling-wise and I've injected a lot of cartooniness and bounciness into my work that I want to bring to this work. I never know how my style is going to evolve until I'm deep into a project, but so far I have no plans to dramatically alter anything. Just bring what I do to an already successful book and hope that people accept me! 

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