Talking With Ryan Stegman About ‘Vanish,’ His New Creator-Owned Series With Donny Cates

by Tom Smithyman

After finding phenomenal success drawing Venom, artist Ryan Stegman re-teams with writer Donny Cates on a new creator-owned series Vanish. The book focuses on the dark side of magic and a young boy who becomes a hero before he hits puberty. In this interview, Stegman talks about the inspiration behind the series and the challenges of working on a creator-owned book.

Tom Smithyman: What is it about the Vanish story that has you so excited for its launch?

Ryan Stegman: Well, I own it first and foremost! I’ve done a ton of work for Marvel over the years and I definitely take a lot of pride in that. But when you help create it from the ground up it’s a whole different animal.

Tom: You’ve been working with Donny Cates on this project behind the scenes for a while. How did you come up with the idea, and why do you think it will resonate with your readers?

Ryan: It actually started on our podcast, Steg-Man and his Amazing Friends. Donny went on a long diatribe about why Harry Potter sucks. I don’t agree but, hey! There was a great little idea born out of it and here we are.

I think it will resonate with readers because that’s what Donny and I do! We both love telling huge stories that are commercial. It’s in our DNA.

Tom: Vanish deals with magic, but it’s a far cry from pulling a rabbit out of a hat. You’ve described it as “metal AF.” What does that mean, and what should the reader expect?

Ryan: In this book magic is used like an instrument of war more than anything. So we aren’t going to see standard magic tricks, no. We are going to see explosions and disembowelments and limbs getting chopped off and people exploding. It’s nuts.

Tom: In Vanish, protagonist Oliver Harrison becomes a hero before hitting puberty. Can you relate to becoming successful early in your career, or do you feel like you’ve taken a different path?

Ryan: I definitely took a while to “make it” in this industry. To the outside it may look like it happened quickly but people don’t see the toiling away I did as a 15-year-old trying to learn how to draw comic pages. And I think this is all for the better given Oliver’s issues he developed as a result of his childhood stardom!

Tom: You’ve been working with Donny and this creative team for a while now. Aren’t you sick of them?

Ryan: No! I was going to joke and say yes, but truly working with this team is the highlight of my career. I never want it to end.

Tom: A lot of writers and artists are moving toward creator-owned books. Had you tried doing one before Vanish? What are the pros and cons for you?

Ryan: I have never done a book that I’ve owned, no. There are pitfalls in that I have to make a lot of decisions that don’t pertain to art but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Drawing this book is as fulfilling as it gets.

Tom: You have teased a “super-secret, super-cool” project that you are writing. What can you tell us about it, and why can’t you tell us more?

Ryan: I can say… it’ll be released at Image as well! But we are staying tight-lipped about details so that we can blow the roof off when we fully announce it!

Vanish #1 is out Wednesday 21st September from Image Comics

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