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C2E2 Interview: Jonathan Hickman and Ryan Stegman on FANTASTIC FOUR in August

Starting with issue #609, the Fantastic Four face a new threat.

When I heard this announcement, I actually heard it in parts. First I discovered that Khoi Pham was taking over art duties on SCARLET SPIDER (with Chris Yost still writing). If you've read my reviews, you know I'm a huge fan of what Yost and Ryan Stegman have been doing on the book. I literally exclaimed a big old "Whaaaat?!?" when I heard (no offense to Khoi Pham). Also if you've been reading my reviews, you know I absolutely love Hickman's run on FANTASTIC FOUR. I can say this is good news all around.

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Beginning with issue #609, Stegman joins Hickman just in time for the team to deal with the fallout from the destruction of Nu-Earth and will be facing...the Maestro.

We had the chance to ask both gentlemen about what we can expect with the FF.

== TEASER ==
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Comic Vine: Jonathan, from the beginning of your FF run, it seems you've had it all planned out. How much exactly have you had planned? Did you have an overall outline or do the stories grow as you complete each issue/arc?

Jonathan Hickman: Well, the story always grows in the telling. It's kind of impossible not to. For example: I never expected to completely fall in love with Bentley or Dragon Man, but it happens, and you adjust. I did, however, have most of the major beats of the story from the beginning. I knew how I wanted everything to sort of end (and by end I mean issue 604, the conclusion of 'Forever'), but by the fourth issue (Franklin's birthday party), I had it.

CV: You keep adding huge catastrophe after the next. Now we're going to see them face the Maestro. What is it about Maestro that appeals to you?

JH: Ha! Are you really asking me what I find appealing about future, alt-history, parallel Earth versions of characters? If we were making a venn diagram of all the things that make me happy, all we're missing is beer, ladies and soccer.

There's nothing about the Maestro that isn't appealing.

CV: Are there plans for other guest stars or will the Fantastic Four fight this threat on their own?

JH: Threat's not really the right word, more like conflict. The Fantastic Four has been a bit abstract the last few issues as we've gone on adventures where they've basically taken on time, nature, cosmology, and now, in this issue, fate…I guess.

It's good my run is wrapping up. Saves Brevoort from having to fire me.

CV: Is there still a place for Spider-Man on the team?

JH: Of course! There will always be a place for Spider-man in the Fantastic Four. He's family as much as any other character connected to Marvel's First Family.

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CV: Ryan: Holy crap. I almost freaked out when I heard you weren't doing SCARLET SPIDER anymore. But this is great news.

Ryan Stegman: Haha. Trust me, I freaked out too! But I think it's for a good reason.

CV: You spent some time in Houston to prepare for drawing Scarlet Spider, what are you going to do to get ready for Fantastic Four?

RS: READ a lot of Fantastic Four! I've read a ton of the Lee/Kirby stuff in my Essential volumes. And I've caught up on Jonathan's run. But there's not a lot of research required beyond that because the FF are in NYC, and I've been there a bunch. And drawn it a bunch. So I'm just going to bring my normal approach and hope it works out!

CV: So no trips to the Negative Zone to get a better feel?

RS: Hey, if you know someone that can get me into the Negative Zone, I'd love to go.

CV: If anyone knows how to get there, it'd be Hickman. Is your approach to drawing this book going to differ since there'll be a lot more characters?

RS: I don't think my approach can help but be different! In SCARLET SPIDER, most of the interactions were one on one. When you have more characters, you have to be much more careful and thought out with your staging and where the characters are in a scene. And you have to make sure not to lose sight of the fact that they're all individuals personality-wise and should act accordingly. And action sequences can become very jumbled if you're not careful. But I WILL be careful, so not to worry!

CV: If you get to draw Spider-Man, will you draw his action scenes differently that Kaine's (besides just the costume).

RS: To be honest, I have no idea if I am drawing Spidey in this run yet. But I will say that I would approach him differently in that he would definitely be less brutal than Kaine. Kaine has no restraint, no concerns about how bad he hurts his opponent. But Spider-Man is very careful about that stuff.

CV: What excites you most about being on Fantastic Four? Who are you most excited to draw?

RS: I like the fact that the Fantastic Four are a family. I'm very drawn to that dynamic. My favorite comics are ones like FF and Spider-Man, where you feel like you want to be a part of their lives. Like I wouldn't mind being a member of their family. And then beyond the family dynamic, I am very excited to draw action scenes with the characters. They all fulfill different roles and can do different things. Mr. Fantastic has to be one of the most fun characters to draw in comics because when he starts stretching you can kind of throw anatomy out the window. And the Thing is amazing simply because of his mass. And then you have Sue, and anyone that's followed my career knows that I like to draw women. A lot. And lastly, you have the Human Torch who is a blast to draw, what with all the fire and what not...

I can't say I have ONE that I'm most excited to draw. The easy answer is the Thing. But they all are very exciting in different ways.

If you're not already reading FANTASTIC FOUR, go back and pick up the trades. And then be prepared for more great stories coming this August.