Between his work in video games and graphic design, Fantastic Four artist Neil Edwards has plenty of experience outside the world of comics.
But like many creators who work in the industry, there's just something magical about working on comic.
"I'd originally come from a graphic design background, and when the opportunity to draw comics for a living became a reality, I jumped at the chance," said Edwards, who creates Fantastic Four with writer Jonathan Hickman. "Not that I didn't enjoy the design side. I just think the appeal of drawing for a living has always been with me, and I've never looked at a job from a monetary point of view — just a love of the job. That gets you through the long days and nights rather than a big paycheck."
The artist has been helping out on Fantastic Four awhile, filling in for artist Bryan Hitch because their styles are somewhat similar. But this week's Fantastic Four #579 puts Edwards' work at the forefront as the official artist during the title's "Heroic Age" tie-in arc.
"There seems to be a more optimistic feel to the books and a more heroic feel to them, and Issue #579 starts the 'Heroic Age' in FF," Edwards said. "There are lots of big things coming up, which obviously I can't tell you about, but the next two issues start to set up Reed, Franklin and Valeria's direction. And the next two issues after that with Reed's college days are just incredible."
Over his time working on Fantastic Four, the artist said he feels like his work on the team has evolved as he's become more comfortable with the book.
"I feel a lot more confident and comfortable drawing them now as opposed to the first issue I did in Issue #573, where I totally got Ben wrong, giving him more Hulk proportions with a big upper torso, but I think I'm getting the hang of him now.
Edwards said it was also challenging for him to draw the children, particularly since there are so many and they all need to have distinct personalities.
"Having the kids in the book really made me learn how to draw them," he said. "It's very hard; it goes against your traditional superhero stuff. Thank God I've got a 5-year-old daughter, Grace, and 1-year-old son, Noah, or I don't think I'd ever be able to get an angle on them!"
But it's not all difficult; Edwards particularly enjoys drawing all the sci-fi action in the comic, and names Sue and Reed Richards as his favorite characters to draw.
"The big sci-fi aspect of Jonathan's scripts really pushes you as an artist," he said. "Jonathan is incredible! I'm just blown away when each new script comes in, and he continues to push me as an artist and that is very rewarding."
Edwards, who hails from the UK and has a more realistic feel to his work, said he's been influenced by a lot of artists, including some outside the world of comics.
"Blimey, too many to mention!" he said. "Obviously, Bryan Hitch has had a massive influence on my work. Absolutely love Bryan's work. He's just incredible! I love José Luis García-López; John Romita Jr. is just stunning; Alan Davis and Dougie Braithwaite are wonderful too. I really enjoy the work when artists put that little bit extra in their work. Hopefully it shows in mine. Fingers crossed.
"Apart from comics I’ve always enjoyed the Pre-Raphaelites, Ingres as well as many designers out there, I think its healthy to look outside comics to see what’s out there, such as design, both web based and print," he said.
But he emphasized that, even though he tries to put that "extra" into his art, he also wants to stay true to his deadlines. "I usually do a page a day at least," Edwards said. "I try and keep a few pages on the go at once so you can get a second look at them as you go to spot mistakes and such before finishing them."