Interview: Comic Book Artist Ryan Stegman

I won’t be at Comic-Con until Saturday, but in the spirit of the event, today I’ve got a special treat! An interview with comic book artist Ryan Stegman! Ryan is an insanely talented guy who’s been working at Marvel for a while, and he just jumped onto Fantastic Four as the new monthly artist.  I’ve been in touch with Ryan on Twitter for about a year now, and he’s an incredibly nice guy. I’m sure his schedule is crazy, but he was still nice enough to answer some questions for me. So without further adieu…

What are some things you do for fun when you’re not drawing?

Watch sports, talk about sports, run, drink (booze), and hang out with my lovely wife and son. Oh, and eat. I love to eat.

Who’s your favorite comic book character and/or superhero, and are there any other mainstream characters you’d love to work on?

Spider-Man. Then Hulk, then Thor. I guess there are a lot of heroes that I’d love to work on that I don’t really know I’d like to work on, y’know? Because sometimes you don’t realize it until you do some work on them. I always knew I loved Spider-Man, but I don’t think I would have realized how much fun it could be to work on the Hulk until I did it. Thor is one that I have enjoyed reading so much, but I haven’t really had much of a crack at him yet.

Do you remember what your first comic book was? Do you still have it?

I believe my mom bought me an X-Men book at a 7-11 when I was about 6 or 7. I have no recollection of who drew it, but I think it had the Brethren in it. And I also think it had a character asking another character if they wanted to go “neck”. I learned what necking was and what brethren meant from that book.

I don’t still have it, but I’d love to see it. It’s become so jumbled in my head that I’m sure I’m mashing up a bunch of things into one comic. But it would be a nostalgic moment, that’s for sure.

How did you get into drawing comics? Was art always something you wanted to pursue?

I always, always, always wanted to draw for a living. My sister and I drew all the time as kids and it was just what I did. I wanted to be a Disney animator for the longest time, I thought, because I was massively into Disney animation as a kid. In fact, I think animation was one of the first things I ever became a snob about. I knew what was good and what was bad.

As I got older, I held onto that dream. But then in high school, I was re-introduced to comics and it all knocked me over. “Oh, THAT’S something I could do with drawing”. And I became obsessed with it right then and there, and never let it go.

Who are some of your influences, both in comics and outside?

In comics I’m influenced by a lot of the cartoonier artists of the 90s. I love Todd McFarlane, Greg Capullo, J. Scott Campbell, Joe Madureira etc. The list goes on and on. As for outside of comics, I guess I’d say I’m influenced by my parents, but who isn’t? And the Beastie Boys. Ha. But sort of seriously.

You’re coming off a six-issue run on Scarlet Spider. What was your favorite part about starting that series off?

Oh man, it was great. I got to design the new costume, and essentially create characters and environment from the ground up. I guess if I had to pinpoint a moment, it would be when I went to Houston when issue one came out. The support there was overwhelming and it just really made me feel like I was doing something significant.

Can you tell us about your inspiration and the process for designing the new Scarlet Spider costume?

I wanted something menacing, but also that fit into the Spider-Family. Red and black are always a great color scheme. And I wanted something simple and classic that could withstand the test of time. And that’s basically it. It’s not much more complex than that.

(Head to Comics Alliance for more on the process, including a bunch of Ryan’s costume ideas and sketches.)

You’re moving on to Fantastic Four now. Is there any difference in how you approach more established characters like FF, versus a newer one like Scarlet Spider?

Yes. I try to adhere to what other artists before me have done on FF. There have been so many greats that have done it. With Scarlet Spider it was all me, but FF is so much bigger. So I just try to be respectful of those that came before me.

Are there any storytelling problems you come up against regularly?

I have a tendency to want to “over-establish”. Meaning, I am so overly careful about environment that I can forget to get up close and show faces etc. And I also want to make the establishing shot the biggest panel, and that’s not necessary. Obviously since I’m conscious of it, I am adjusting it. But it was something that plagued me for a long time. The key is to be smart with what you show.

You said recently that action scenes are your bread and butter. Do you prefer when writers give you a Marvel Style script and let you go crazy, or do you prefer some structure?

I guess I’ve only really had structured scenes, so for now I prefer it because I don’t know any better. But I think working with a writer that accepts that you are going to change up some stuff is great. With [Christopher] Yost on Scarlet Spider, I would take his direction as a suggestion and sometimes tweak things. But he is a very visual thinker, so it didn’t happen often.

I think the key to it all is to just make sure you’re adding to what the writer writes and not subtracting. If you do that, generally everyone is happy.

I’m a huge fan of your art. I’ve noticed your style has become a bit more cartoony lately. Is that a conscious effort or is it just happening naturally?

Definitely naturally. I love cartoony art. I guess that one of the things that is occurring is that I am using less photo reference on figures. Actually, I’m using none. I used to take photos of poses and that would tend to skew my stuff towards realism. But now I pull it all out of my head, and apparently my head is cartoony!

Do you listen to music when you draw? If so, who?

Yes, I listen to all kinds of stuff. Currently I’m obsessed with Jack White’s album “Blunderbuss.” But I go through phases. Generally it’s a lot of hip hop and lots of classic rock. I’m a Beatle freak.

Any advice for those looking to break into comics or any other pearls of wisdom?

If you want to break into comics, just work really hard and get really good at drawing. There is no shortcut. Networking is only necessary if you have skills to apply. I feel like a lot of guys get really networked but aren’t good enough and they don’t understand why their networking hasn’t paid off. You can’t look at it that way. If you’re good, you’ll get the jobs. So GET GOOD!

Thanks so much to Ryan for taking the time to do this interview. As you can see for yourself, he’s an extremely talented guy and is well on his way to becoming one of comic’s superstars. Be on the lookout for upcoming issues of Fantastic Four, check out his Tumblr for sketches and updates, and be sure to follow him on Twitter!

OLDSOUL trailer and blog tour!

As crazy as it sounds, a month from tomorrow my book will be released. It seems like it’s been forever, yet it still feels like I have so much to get done. Finishing the trailer was one of the big things though, and I’m happy to be able to show it here:

I hope you like it! It was a blast to make, and I have to thank my friends and family who were willing to be in it and help out. (I won’t name them in case they want to disavow their participation.)

In other exciting news, starting this Sunday, the 24th, the OLDSOUL blog tour starts.

It’s being hosted by Krista at, and I’m very grateful to her for being willing to organize things. So be sure to check out the blog tour over the next few weeks. There will be interviews, guest posts, and of course giveaways. Here’s a list of bloggers who have been kind enough to participate:

Interview: Comic Book Writer Mark Andrew Smith

I first heard about Mark Andrew Smith’s work when his graphic novel The New Brighton Archeological Society came out and garnered tons of good reviews. I read it and found it to be a fun, refreshing story. I recently picked up his latest effort Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors, and it too was an excellent read. Mark is great at creating worlds and giving characters a unique and realistic feel. He was kind enough to do this interview, and I learned a lot about him and his process.

First, tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I like reading and I enjoy watching movies, but so does everyone else, so I think that’s a boring answer to your question. Haha. At the same time I don’t want to make anything up to make me look impressive. I like eating good food, and then hanging out with my girlfriend.

Favorite comic book character and/or superhero?

I like Wolverine because he’s the best at what he does. It’s not a unique answer or one that I’m proud of haha. Venom is also very original and cool just because he has one of the best costumes.

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Interview: Author Trisha Wolfe

Trisha Wolfe is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Plus she likes the Misfits. Those two qualities put her pretty high up on my list. She’s a fellow member of the Apocalypsies, and her debut novel DESTINY’S FIRE is out today. She graciously agreed to doing an interview, and provided some great answers. I hope you enjoy the interview, and definitely check out DESTINY’S FIRE, available today!

First, tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Thanks for having me on your blog, Dan! Hmm, let’s see. I feel like I’m always writing lol. I always have more than one project going, so it pretty much takes up most of my day. I have two blogs, so when I’m not writing, I’m reading. Or critiquing for CP’s. But when I’m not doing my writing life stuff, there’s the fam to take care of, and sometimes I find time to watch TV and movies. I listen to music while doing everything else that’s not writer-ish.

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Interview: Author Jaime Reed

Jaime Reed was making fun of me within the first few minutes of us meeting on Twitter, so I knew we’d get along well. She’s a fellow client of Kathleen Ortiz, and today is the day her incredible debut novel LIVING VIOLET comes out. Pretty exciting stuff. Jaime was nice enough to do this interview with me. I hope you enjoy it, and make sure to pick up a copy of LIVING VIOLET!

First, tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m a YA author from Virginia. My debut book LIVING VIOLET comes out Dec. 27th and it’s the first installment in a three-book series called The Cambion Chronicles. I have the most boring life ever! I just hang out with friends, talk trash about movies, and draw storyboards and other computer design. Writing is my escape from the mundane, my Narnia.

Have you stopped trying to correct people when they spell your name “Jamie”?

Yep. It’s a losing battle and I’d rather save my breath for something else, like apologizing to people whose names I misspell. I’m not alone, so that’s cool.

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Interview: Author Angela Corbett

Today’s interview is with fellow Pendrell Publishing author Angela Corbett. She hails from the fantastic state of Utah, so that gives her extra points in my book. Eternal Starling is Angela’s debut novel, and was released on Dec. 6th. It’s getting great reviews and the people I know who have read it really enjoyed it. It’s on my to be read list, so I’ll hopefully get to it soon. It’s available on Amazon and, so check it out, and I hope you enjoy the interview!

First, tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I spend most of my free time reading, but I also love a few TV shows (Vampire Diaries, Once Upon a Time, Dexter, Revenge). I also love going to the mountains, and I enjoy riding four wheelers.

When did you start writing?

I started writing poetry in elementary school and had my first poem published in a magazine when I was 11. I wrote a lot of short stories when I was a teenager, then fell in love with journalism. I studied journalism in college and did some freelance writing, but a few years after college, I realized how much I missed writing fiction. When I got the idea for Eternal Starling, I knew being an author was what I wanted to do.

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Interview: Author Dawn Rae Miller

Dawn Rae Miller is a fellow client of Kathleen Ortiz’s, which is how we met. She’s a super nice, crazy busy mom of three who’s still able  to write awesome books. Her debut novel, Larkstorm, just came out on December 6th. It’s a fantastic story, so  check it out here, and enjoy the interview!

First, tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Most of my free time is spent writing or working on writing related things like marketing and public relations. However, when I’m not doing any of that, I like to run and wake up before 6 every morning to squeeze in a run or some time at the gym. I also have three boys under the age of ten. I home school my oldest son in the morning and spend afternoons driving everyone around to lacrosse, basketball, soccer and drama. I also love fashion and in my former life, I was a stylist, so I play with clothes a lot.

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Interview: Author Heather Dixon

It’s been a while since I’ve had an interview up, but I’ve got a bunch planned for this month. Starting things off is Heather Dixon.

I’ve been lucky enough to know Heather for almost 10 years now. She was a year ahead of me in the BYU animation program, and it was a blast getting to know her and working with her. If you follow her Story Monster blog, which I suggest you do, you’ll find she has a wonderfully dark sense of humor. It’s even better because it’s hidden beneath such a sweet exterior. Her debut novel Entwined came out earlier this year, and was a fantastic read. Heather was nice enough to agree to this interview, and gave some great answers. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did!

I had to research the 12 Dancing Princesses because I’d never heard of the fairytale before. First off, I have to say that it’s pretty rad that you’re on the wikipedia entry for it. High five for that. What drew you to this fairytale originally, and how did the idea for the retelling come about?

Ooo, I scored on Wikipedia?  Awesome ^_^  I’ll have to check that out.

I started the story back at the beginning of 2006, when I was taking a bunch of dance classes and majoring in animation.  The story, with its silver forests and ballgowns and waltzes, is intensely visual and when it struck me, I couldn’t get it out of my head.  I had to write it down.

(It helped, of course, that I grew up in a large family–with 10 brothers and sisters, I felt a special connection with a story about 12 sisters ^_^)

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Interview: Author Lani Woodland

For the next in the series of interviews I’m pleased to bring you Lani Woodland, author of the Yara Silva Trilogy. The first book in the series, INTRINSICAL, came out last year, and the second book INDELIBLE comes out this month. I’ve been lucky enough to know Lani for a few years now, and she’s an awesome person and great writer. She has a fresh take on the paranormal genre with the Yara series, and I’m looking forward to reading INDELIBLE when it comes out. Speaking of which, she just finished up the trailer for the new book, and you can watch it below.

Looks good, right? Now on to the interview!

First, tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I like to read, watch movies and spend time with my family and friends.

When did you start writing?

I started writing when I was in elementary school. I used to make up plays and have my friends act them out for me. I’ve been creating stories and characters ever since then.

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Interview: Comics writer and editor D.J. Kirkbride

As someone who loves stories, I’m always fascinated to hear from people who create them and find out a little bit about their process. So I’m really excited to start this series of interviews. I’m going to be interviewing people in the writing, film, and comic book industries and talking to them about what they do, and how they craft their stories. Kicking it off is an awesome guy by the name of D.J. Kirkbride. I’ve had the opportunity to meet D.J. and he’s incredibly nice. I can’t thank him enough for being willing to let me bug him. I hope you enjoy the interview and learn something.

Here’s a little bit about D.J., taken from his website.

D.J. Kirkbride’s writing has appeared in Image Comics’ Harvey and Eisner Award-winning POPGUN anthologies, which he also co-edited. He’s edited the graphic novels THE NEW BRIGHTON ARCHEOLOGICAL SOCIETY and AQUA LEUNG as well as the comic book KILL ALL PARENTS. He’s currently the script editor for the acclaimed webcomic SPY6TEEN. His short prose story “Married Life” appeared in the zombie anthology THE DEAD WALK AGAIN and he’s written essays, reviews, interviews, columns, stories, and, um, ninja poetry for such websites as MCSWEENEYS.NET, TWOHEADEDCAT.COM, TLCHICKEN.COM, and THEFOOTNOTE.NET (which he co-created and co-edited).

First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions. Let’s start with a couple (hopefully) easy ones.

Is D.J. short for anything? Or is that a trade secret?

The “D” is for “Denis” and the “J” is for “John.” I’m a junior, so everyone called me “D.J.” so as not to get me confused with my dad, I guess. Honestly, my lack of mustache should’ve done the job just fine.

Favorite comic book character and/or superhero?

Superman is my favorite comic book character, superhero, and… fictional creation, to be honest. I like him better than most real things, too.

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