Starting this July, Stegman will team with writer Charles Soule on INHUMAN to create a wealth of exciting new characters and remind readers what makes him part of one of Marvel’s current generation of all-star artists.
In this interview with Stegman, he details how much he relishes collaborating with writers like Soule who shares his affinity for thinking visually when constructing stories.
Marvel.com: You burst on the Marvel scene around 2008-2009, if I recall correctly, but when and how did you first start working in comics?
Ryan Stegman: Well honestly I think it was about 2006 that I started working at Marvel! But that's okay that you didn't know that—nobody did! I was working on the novel adaptation of MAGICIAN: APPRENTICE. It wasn't necessarily a book that sold a lot in comic shops but the trades were sold at Barnes and Noble and are in libraries everywhere.
I actually only had started in comics about a year and a half before that, doing a comic called Midnight Kiss for Markosia. I was fresh out of college and really just hanging on by the skin of my teeth because I did not know what I was doing. That was a five issue series that led into the Magician stuff which led to MARVEL ADVENTURES SPIDER-MAN which led to INCREDIBLE HERCULES and on up the chain.
Marvel.com: How enriching was it to attend Marvel's invite-only Artist's Training Program and learn from the likes of Klaus Janson and Howard Chaykin?
Ryan Stegman: Oh man, that was a huge moment in my career. Up until that point I hadn't done a whole lot. The most recent thing published was my SIF one-shot. I was working on SHE-HULKS but that wasn't out yet. So I didn't even know that I would be given an opportunity like that.
Getting to meet Howard and Klaus was a dream come true. I'm a big fan of both of them and they are absolute fountains of knowledge. And they are good at conveying what they know.
It was really eye-opening to see how much they knew and how much they studied the craft. Legends aren't made through complacency. It taught me how to be really, truly analytical of my work and I think I made a lot of leaps in my work immediately following the program. I'd kill to go through it again, with my few-years-older perspective.
Marvel.com: At what point did you realize that your art was really starting to get noticed by Marvel readers—would you say it was during SCARLET SPIDER?
Ryan Stegman: Yes, definitely. I got a little buzz from SHE-HULKS, but the sales numbers on it just weren't good enough. When I did SCARLET SPIDER there was a definite difference, mostly noticed at conventions. I went from mostly going to conventions to network and hang out with friends to being completely overwhelmed with people wanting sketches or autographs. It was nuts.
Marvel.com: When working with veteran writers like Christopher Yost—or more recently Paul Cornell—how do these collaborations influence your evolution as a storyteller?
Ryan Stegman: I feel like as you work with any particular writer you start to pick up on what they do well and your storytelling changes to suit it. With Chris, I could tell that he was a very visual writer, meaning he seemed to have very clear pictures in his head of what he wanted. So I really enjoyed taking his visions and elaborating on them.
Paul was different in that he wrote Marvel style. The scripts were broken down as a couple sentences per page. I loved working that way. It taught me a little more about what writers go through when they're writing a script. Mostly it taught me that you have to have the characters doing something in every single panel because I had to come up with those things that they were doing. And then Paul was really good at taking those things and picking up on what I was doing and making it work script-wise. It was one of the more engaging ways that I've worked.
Dan Slott also wrote semi-Marvel style for me [on SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN]. Everything was broken down page by page and he would go into some detail. With Dan, every page is chock full of stuff, so you have to be very careful to make sure it's all there. It was a lot of fun.
All of these things together can't help but make you approach storytelling in completely different ways.
Marvel.com: You're soon to be joining Charles Soule as the artist on INHUMAN. What kind of characters and stories are you hoping to do with the series?
Ryan Stegman: After I did SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN I was a little concerned with what I would do next. [That series] was so exciting to work on and I didn't want to feel let down by future projects. So I thought about it and one of the things I thought that I could do to stay excited was to create new characters.
Enter the INHUMAN offer. When [editor] Nick Lowe told me that I would get to create characters I was all in. That's really what I want to do. Create something new that will hopefully last a long time. There are rarely opportunities in mainstream comics to get to create. But in this case, the company is completely behind it and really wants to make it work.
So yeah. I want to make the next big character and have him or her live forever. Is that so much to ask?
Marvel.com: What's the core appeal of collaborating with a writer like Soule?
Ryan Stegman: Everything. He's awesome. He seems to be a creative machine, just coming up with ideas left and right. His scripts are incredibly descriptive. He's another writer that thinks visually. He's also super collaborative. Within days of me accepting the job we were texting ideas back and forth. And I threw out one idea that he immediately wrote into a script. [Laughs] Most of the time I assume that I'm just throwing out ideas that can't really be used, but he was all about it.
I could go on all day. Charles Soule is the man. That's all there is to it.
Marvel.com: When you started at Marvel, did you have a wish list of characters you hoped to work on, and how many characters have you checked off that list so far?
Ryan Stegman: Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk, and Thor are my favorites. I've gotten to work on all of them now, except Thor. So things are going pretty damn good!
Marvel.com: Am I mistaken in believing you draw a steady stream of covers for Marvel, in addition to your interior workload? Does doing the cover work satisfy a creative itch in you that cannot be scratched by interior work?
Ryan Stegman: Covers and interiors are completely different things. The interior pages are full of subtlety and nuance and covers are meant to be read in an instant. So, in the sense that I like drawing two characters punching each other in the face I enjoy covers. But for me, the real exciting stuff is the interiors.
Follow Ryan’s work starting in July on INHUMAN and keep following Marvel.com for more coverage of the All-New Young Guns!