Ryan Stegman’s new artwork celebrates the release of My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission and in honor of the exciting collaboration he’s opened up on his creative process and his history with My Hero Academia. Stegman reveals how he began by working on a cover for the manga’s French publisher, what Marvel characters he thinks of when drawing Deku, the prospect of illustrating a My Hero Academia one-shot, and what prolific anime studios he’d like to see bring his own comic creations to life one day.
DEN OF GEEK: To begin with, how did you first get involved with this collaboration?
RYAN STEGMAN: I had done a cover for the French publisher, Ki-oon, who publishes My Hero Academia in France. I was told—now I don’t know if it’s true—that the creator of My Hero Academia [Kohei Horikoshi] actually likes my work, which was a huge honor. He really does seem like he has some American influences. So I did that piece, which went well, and then I was contacted out of the blue by Funimation to produce some more My Hero Academia art. I was all too happy to do it because both of my kids are obsessed with My Hero Academia, so it’s the one thing that I can do that makes them think that I’m cool.
My son—whose ten—is a huge manga fan. I’ve read several volumes of the book, but he’s like current. He’s read them all. He and I watched the first few seasons of the show—I’m not completely caught up, but I’ve seen a bunch of it and really love it.
You mentioned you and your son’s connection to the anime, but why do you think audiences have responded to the anime’s characters in such positive ways and what is it about the series that initially drew you into its unique cast?
RS: Well I think it’s interesting in the sense that superheroes have never been more popular thanks to Marvel movies and everything that’s come out. I can’t really think of many other manga that have leaned hard into the superhero angle. There are plenty of characters with powers and stuff like that, but My Hero Academia crafts this entire superhero universe in this one book. It’s like Jack Kirby creating the whole Marvel universe, except that all of these characters fit into the same place and you don’t have to buy like fifteen books to understand what’s going on. I think that’s a big part of it. It’s like with Invincible, Robert Kirkman’s American comic book series, which forges this jumping-off point with Invincible, but then there’s this whole other universe that develops around it. In a way, it’s like you’re reading a team book, but it’s just focused on one character.