Tuesday Q&A: Ryan Stegman

Tuesday Q&A: Ryan Stegman

By Jim Beard

Spider-Man’s clone Kaine’s really making a name for himself as a costumed crusader, setting him apart from his more well-known “brother” as he swings though the pages of SCARLET SPIDER. The next issue’s due out April 11, courtesy of Chris Yost and Ryan Stegman.

Stegman’s currently wowing comics fans everywhere with his work on the book’s insides and covers, so we sat him down for a quick chat about his artistic inspirations, his methods, his goals and, of course, SCARLET SPIDER.

Scarlet Spider design art by Ryan Stegman

Marvel.com: Ryan, what does the SCARLET SPIDER gig mean to you, artistically? How does it challenge you and excite you?

Ryan Stegman: SCARLET SPIDER to me is about getting to do something new. That's the simplest way I can put it. It seems really hard to get to create new characters in this industry right now, but that's exactly what Chris and I get to do in this book. We didn't necessarily create Kaine, but he is such a changed character that it often feels like we're creating somebody new.

And his supporting cast is all new. All the villains, his friends, etc. Most books don't allow for that type of creative freedom and I am grateful to have that opportunity.

Marvel.com: Well, speaking then of all that new, what designs from the series are you most proud of and why?

Ryan Stegman: I really like Kaine's costume a lot. It's so simplified and classic looking. I think it has legs, but I guess we won't know until 10 years down the road when we see if the costume is still being used. But that was the goal, to create something that would last. And I think it will.  

Marvel.com: How would you quantify your design outlook on SCARLET SPIDER compared to past Marvel work of yours?

Scarlet Spider design art by Ryan Stegman

Ryan Stegman: On previous Marvel work I didn't really get to design many things. I would mostly just take existing characters and try to make them my own. So I'd take a character like The Trapster in SHE-HULKS and I would try to make him look unique to my style. I made him ugly and unappealing, with a smashed up face. So that was the approach I took on previous stuff. But now I get to create the characters from the ground up, so it's a completely different experience. 

Marvel.com: What's coming up soon in the series that you're really excited about visually?

Ryan Stegman: Lots of fighting. I get really excited about choreographing fight scenes. I really enjoy it when I give the reader enough information where all the fight "moves" seem realistic. I also look forward to drawing more of Meland and Layton. That's the doctor and the cop [in the book]. They're a lot of fun for me to draw because they get to be kind of comedic and they can also get kind of dark. They just run the gamut of emotions and I love drawing the quiet scenes. 

Marvel.com: What's it like working with Chris Yost? How would you define the working relationship between you two on this book?

Ryan Stegman: Chris is awesome. We talk a lot. He lets me throw ideas out there and has put some into the script. He's extremely collaborative, which I love. And he's also a very visual writer. Meaning I think he sees the images in his head when he writes. So it makes my job a lot more fun because the descriptions are always very, very helpful. 

Scarlet Spider design art by Ryan Stegman

Marvel.com: So, what's a typical work day like for you on SCARLET SPIDER? How do you tackle a page from start to finish?

Ryan Stegman: I wake up at about 7:00 AM and get my son ready for day care. We watch an episode of “Sesame Street” and hang out for about a half hour. Then I eat and get to work.

Ideally, I'd like to start each page in the morning and have it finished by night time. It doesn't always happen, but that's the hope. I start the page by doing a digital breakdown on my Cintiq that takes about an hour. I just work on all the shapes of the page and make sure all the perspective works. Then I print that out onto the Marvel art board and get to penciling. I go panel by panel, finishing each until it's all done. That works best for me because I get that slight feeling of accomplishment every time a panel is done and it fuels me up to keep going.

Marvel.com: How do you create mood on the page? What's your artistic philosophy about endowing the page with not only action but with feelings, emotion, etc?

Ryan Stegman: I just try to make the characters act. I let them ramp up the drama themselves. I still do the stuff where I push the camera in and pull it out and move it all around, but the most important part to me is that you see the emotion on their faces. On any page, the most relatable part and the part that the reader will spend the most time on is the faces. So you really have to have them wear their emotions on their faces. 

Scarlet Spider design art by Ryan Stegman

Marvel.com: Going from the present now to the past, who are your early comic book art influences?

Ryan Stegman: I first got into comics because of Todd McFarlane. I loved everything Image Comics back in the day. And I branched out from there to some European artists like Barbucci and Toppi, etc. I don't have a lot of graphic design or fine art influences. At least not conscious ones. I'm influenced by everything that I see, so I'm sure I do have some influences there that I'm unaware of, though.

Marvel.com: Any Marvel projects or characters you’d really like to work on going forward? 

Ryan Stegman: I love Spider-Man. Always have, always will. 

Marvel.com: Where do you see yourself artistically a year from now? Five years?

Ryan Stegman: A year from now is a very hard to tell. I just hope I've improved a lot. I'd like to do what I'm doing now just better.

But in five years I'd love to be creating worlds. Writing and drawing stuff. Creating from the ground up, all from inside my head. I feel like every time I have an artistic "breakthrough" it's always because I am somehow removing a barrier that was between what was in my head and what was coming out on the page.  Like I know there is really interesting stuff in there, but sometimes you get bogged down with the "rules" of art and drawing. So I guess in five years I'd like to have all barriers removed and really show people what's inside this noggin.

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