Thursday Q&A: Ryan Stegman

Thursday Q&A: Ryan Stegman

Superior Spider-Man #1 cover by Ryan Stegman

By Jim Beard

Picture for a moment that you’re the artist on the newest Marvel NOW! title, SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN. Best job in the world, right? Yep, that’s what we figured you’d say. Why? Because Ryan Stegman, the guy who’s really the artist on SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN, assures us that the gig’s just about the best thing ever since, well, Spider-Man came into existence 50 years ago.

Fresh off of his acclaimed run on SCARLET SPIDER and his work on FANTASTIC FOUR, Stegman’s heading into his new job with gusto and enthusiasm. We got a few minutes of his time to set down his thought on this auspicious occasion for posterity. Ryan, how's it feel to be on the creative team of a brand-new Spider-Man book?

Ryan Stegman: It’s probably the craziest thing that’s ever happened to me! The fact that I was asked to draw this book, the fact that all these things were coming up in the book and I was asked to work on them [is] a dream come true really. I’ve always been a huge Spidey fan and I’ve always wanted to work on this book. I probably first stated that my goal was to draw Spider-Man when I was 15 and somehow everything came together and here I am. Artistically, what aspect of SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN are you most excited about? Character designs? Settings? Action? Pathos?

Ryan Stegman: Definitely Pathos. I love drawing action, but you get to draw action in every super hero comic. Or at least you should. But with the Spidey-verse you get to draw his supporting cast, all of them with different personalities and dynamics and my goal as artist is to make people really connect with them the way that I have when I was just a reader of the book.

Superior Spider-Man #2 cover by Ryan Stegman The book’s said to be a bit dark—what will you be doing with your style on it? Will you be experimenting with it?

Ryan Stegman: My style has been edging darker anyway. My favorite styles are sort of cartoony with a certain amount of looseness to the finish. It allows your work to cover a wide range of expression. So when it needs to be light it can and when it needs to be dark it can.

I’ve found that my style slightly changes on almost every book I do to suit what it is that I’m working on. It’s not always overt, and it’s certainly not conscious. But I just finished a run on FANTASTIC FOUR and I think my style on this has been different even though I never consciously decided that. It’s just that the tone of the writing is different. Speaking of the writing, what are the bonuses for an artist in working with a guy like Dan Slott?

Ryan Stegman: Dan’s awesome. He’s one of my favorite writers anyway, so getting to work with him is great. His personality really comes through in the scripts. I don’t know if there are any of his scripts out there online, but if you get a chance to read one you should. He’s just as animated when typing it out as he would be in real life.

We talked about pathos before, and that’s what I think makes Dan’s writing so great. I feel an instant connection to what he writes. Like I immediately know what he’s going for in the script because he knows the characters so well that everything they do seems so natural. What was it like getting the first SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN script from Dan? What did you zero in on immediately?

Scarlet Spider by Ryan Stegman

Ryan Stegman: Dan’s opening line in the script was directed at me; he basically said, “How cool is it that we get to do this?!” And that’s exactly how I was feeling.

But what I immediately started thinking about was how to orchestrate as many characters as we had! There are preview pages up online that show just how much stuff we are doing in the issue. We have the Sinister Six. We have cops, we have anti-spider patrol—it’s big stuff. So that’s immediately where my head went.

And then there was a lot of me telling that part of my brain that was saying, “Don’t screw this up” to shut up. How do you approach the series’ new Spider-Man design?

Ryan Stegman: Well, Ed McGuinness actually did the design. So I’m just trying to do his design justice. We hear there's a new Sinister Six coming in the book; what part have you played in their designs?

Ryan Stegman: I re-designed Overdrive. But for the most part we stuck with classic designs. I think one of the great things about the villains in this book is that the ones that stick generally have pretty cool designs. For example, the Living Brain is something that I would never design. It’s blocky and crazy looking. But somehow it’s awesome. So I didn’t want to fiddle with it. I just wanted it to look exactly like it always did. Super-huge question: Who is your very favorite Spider-Man villain, and why?

Ryan Stegman: Probably Doc Ock. Because he’s Doc Ock! Some of the greatest Spidey stories ever told have involved him. So I get a real nostalgic feeling when I get to draw him.

The Fantastic Four by Ryan Stegman Who in the SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN supporting cast is really standing out for you, in terms of look and design?

Ryan Stegman: Mary Jane! I’ve always wanted to draw her. And I want to do her justice as all the great Spidey artists have done. Especially Romita Sr. That’s a huge part of Spider-Man to me. Without Mary Jane this book probably wouldn’t be everything that it is. Let’s wrap this up by asking you what you first think every day when you sit down at your drawing board to draw Spidey…

Ryan Stegman: I honestly try to keep it in perspective. I try not to forget how lucky I am to be doing this. As an artist you can get bogged down feeling sorry for yourself because of the long hours and deadlines and all that, but this is Spider-Man. When I wasn’t even getting paid to draw Spider-Man I would draw Spider-Man.

So there [are] no complaints from me. I’m working on—in my mind—the greatest comic book of all-time. And it’s the greatest.

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