Ryan Stegman, All-New Young Gun artist on INHUMAN, details for Marvel.com what makes some of the characters, such as Flint and Reader, pop off the pages in upcoming issues. Few storytellers know as well as Stegman how to let his figures breathe at the right dynamic beats in the scenes!
Marvel.com: Can you talk us through your approach toward drawing Flint?
Ryan Stegman: His design is actually still sort of up in the air. I knew what I wanted him to look like facially and what I wanted his hair to look like. But the costume itself has been a work in progress. With any costume I try to come up with something unique but classic. I try to come up with a look that a child could read a comic with that character and then be inspired to try and draw it themselves. I think that when you over-complicate a design it doesn’t resonate.
In Flint's case, he has a signature: The rock spot on his right eye and the white mohawk. So his costume just needs to be simple and not over-done. I’m not sure if we've achieved it just yet; I plan on making a few more passes at it before it appears in the book.
Ryan Stegman: This was an introduction to one of our new characters named Reader that figures to play very prominently in this book. By placing the camera lower we make him an imposing figure plus we get a good look at his face and body as well as his dog Forey. Also, I wanted him looking directly into the camera, engaging the reader, saying “here I am.” And since he is looking out over a valley from a higher vantage point this is the camera angle that worked for that.
Marvel.com: How do you decide the pacing on a series of panels like this to build the suspense before getting to the action of this page?
Ryan Stegman: In this case [INHUMAN writer] Charles [Soule] didn’t write in the three panel sequence before the explosion. But I wanted to slow the pace of the scene down for a moment to give the explosion more impact. Charles is generally very open to these types of things and he was on board. By seeing the general enter the house and then the walls begin to crack and his reaction to this you get a sense that he’s seen something happening that he wasn’t prepared for. You get to breathe for a second before the building explodes. I just try to think of it that way. Where do I need the reader to breathe before I try to take their breath again.
Marvel.com: I love how you design a page, your use of panels, what is the key to hitting the right beats from Charles Soule’s dialogue in a scene like this?
Ryan Stegman: In this particular scene Charles had nailed all the beats. So I just followed his lead. I did know that we were introducing a new character and that her most interesting feature was her face and head so I featured that prominently in the biggest panel. Then I just went forward with the script as written. I tried to heavily light the last panel to give it a little more weight as Dante stages his protest by pouring his beer onto the bar.
Marvel.com: I like the placement of equipment on Reader’s [early proposed] uniform; when working on a costume, do you consider the functionality/practicality of it when drawing it?
Ryan Stegman: Yeah. This was an early design for Reader that I deemed too complicated actually. He is a character that needs equipment, but it needs to be organized in a way that looks “designed.” Here it was too random for me.
With Reader’s design, the signature really is the mask that he wears over his eyes. So the rest of the costume needs to be sleek and accentuate the mask. I think the poncho is cool and a nice design element; it covers his wing contraption that he has on his back as well as a bunch of his other equipment.
So yeah, that was a long way of saying that I spend probably too much time thinking about the functionality of it.
Marvel.com: I think the background of this sketch really adds to the dynamic nature of the action; rather than being a flat landscape, it is curved—is that something you would like to discuss?
Ryan Stegman: I think it just felt right while I was drawing it. Straight up and down backgrounds can kill the movement in a drawing and one of the things I am most obsessed with in my work is creating movement. So when this felt dynamic to me I followed the instinct and I think it paid off, especially when you see the inked version.
Curvilinear perspective can be a very effective tool when you're trying to add excitement to a panel and that’s all I went for here.
Marvel.com: With this sketch, it is interesting to see how it seems like you toned down the flair of the top of character's look.
Ryan Stegman: Well, there's a character bit that will be revealed later that necessitated a less monstrous look for the character. So when I drew the character in the book I tried to make her a little more appealing. Because with my initial design of her she was very monstrous and would be perceived more as monster than human. I didn’t want to completely remove her humanity though, hence the toning down!
Pick up INHUMAN #4 for Ryan Stegman’s next work, plus keep checking Marvel.com for the latest on the All-New Young Guns!