STEVE EPTING Talks Cosmic FF & "3"

Beginning in September, Steve Epting becomes the new regular artist on Fantastic Four, joining writer Jonathan Hickman on the title for the Doom-filled storyline, "Three."

As Hickman told Newsarama "There's a reason we're calling the arc 'Three,'" confirming Marvel's promise that, at the end of the storyline's epic War of Four Cities, "one member of the Fantastic Four will have breathed their last."

"'Three' is a cosmic, star-spanning Fantastic Four story with consequences," the writer said. "And more importantly, it's the first time we see Doom in our Fantastic Four."

As he joins the title with Fantastic Four #583, Epting gets to draw Dr. Doom and the cosmic FF team after spending the last six years working with Ed Brubaker on Captain America and The Marvels Project. And according to Hickman, Epting's switch from the more "grounded" work he's been doing in the past is not only a good thing for Fantastic Four, but it's also good for the artist.

"One of the worst things you can do with an artist is expect him to play to type forever," Hickman said. "So this has been a really good thing for Steve, and a good thing for the book, because it's truly beautiful stuff."

Newsarama caught up with Epting to find out more about the change.

Newsarama: Steve, how did the chance to work on Fantastic Four come about? Was this something you lobbied to do? Or more of an assignment you were given?

Steve Epting: As we were getting closer to the end of The Marvels Project, Tom Brevoort and I began to discuss what I might be working on next. He told me that they had an idea what they wanted me to move to and would run it by me in a week or so.

Of course I was very curious as to what it might be, but Fantastic Four never entered my mind as a possibility. My runs on Captain America and The Marvels Project both featured a more "real world" feel, and it seemed to me I would probably end up doing something similar, since it suits my style. The far-out science fiction concepts and adventures of the FF don't exactly fit that description, but after Tom made the offer, I really began to like the idea of trying something different.

It's always a good idea to challenge yourself as an artist as well and move outside of your comfort zone. That's not to say that I've never drawn any sci-fi stuff, since it was a part of my run on Avengers as well as Crux at Crossgen, but the FF takes it to a whole different level.

Nrama: Is this work reminiscent of work you've done in the past?

Epting: As I said, it won't be a radical departure from what I've done before. I will be working with a colorist who is new to me and that always brings a different dimension to the work, but anyone who's seen the amazing work that Paul Mounts has been doing on the book should know there's nothing to worry about there.

Nrama: You've worked with a lot of writers over the years, but lately you've been working with Ed Brubaker quite a bit. Does it feel odd to switch to a different writer now?

Epting: It definitely feels different. I've been working with Ed since 2004, so it's become a very comfortable working relationship. Again, it's probably a good idea to shake things up so we don't get stale, and I'm looking forward to working with Jonathan. Of course there are differences, but I don't know that it will really change anything in the way I approach my part of the job. My responsibility is to convey the story as effectively as I can so that's what I'll try to do.

Nrama: How are you approaching the Fantastic Four visually, and from the aspect of overall style? And how is it different from the approach you've been taking lately on Captain America and Marvels Project?

Epting: There won't be a radical difference in style. I have pretty much decided to no longer do ink wash or gray tones. I felt it was a nice touch for the '40s era that we depicted in The Marvels Project, but I don't feel it's needed for FF. It's still kind of early on, and I'm experimenting a bit in the inks as I go. I'm sure my approach will evolve over time as I become more comfortable with the characters and environments, as well as the themes and concepts in the story itself.

Nrama: Are you an FF fan?

Epting: I am an FF fan, going back to the reprints I read of Lee and Kirby's incredible run. There was such great character interaction, drama, suspense, adventure, and out of this world concepts - it really had everything. Great, great stuff. Plus, Ben Grimm is one of the most unique characters ever created.

Nrama: Ben must be a challenge to draw. But which of the Fantastic Four members has been the biggest challenge to you?

Epting: The Torch is a bit of a challenge. I want to differentiate him from the Original Torch that I just depicted in The Marvels Project, and not using inkwash will be a big part of that, since I had been doing all the flames that way for Jim Hammond. Also, I'm not quite sure I have his facial features totally figured out yet, but that will come as I draw him more.

Nrama: Are you a fan of Jonathan Hickman's work? Any comic in particular that you first read of his?

Epting: I was first drawn to Jonathan's work because of his great design skill. I bought the first issue of The Nightly News purely because I loved the way it looked. I have a graphic design background and I was really impressed by the sort of whole new visual language Jonathan bought to comics in that series. It's been great to see get more attention and to now have the opportunity to work with him. Also Jonathan lives fairly close to me and we can meet in person every so often.

Nrama: Anything else you want to tell people about your work on Fantastic Four?

Epting: Just that as a long time Marvel fan I'm pleased and honored to able to work on the book that started it all.

And I love drawing Dr. Doom.

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