By Matt Petras
Pittsburgh Current Contributing Writer
Pittsburgh comic book creator Tom Scioli had an exciting day Tuesday when Marvel Comics revealed he is writing and drawing Fantastic Four: Grand Design, a miniseries that follows Scioli’s version of the classic superhero team.
“It seemed like it was pretty big news in the comics world. My social media just kept going, and it’s still going with mentions and things about it,” Scioli said . And people seem really into it, too, which is nice.”
The series begins in October and by the end will be two, 40 page issues, which will later be collected into an oversized collected edition. It’s a spiritual successor to X-Men: Grand Design, a comic series written and drawn by fellow Pittsburgh comic creator Ed Piskor. The concept is the same: each creator condenses the huge, sprawling stories of these legendary properties into their own retelling.
“It’s what the Fantastic Four is to me,” Scioli said. “What matters to me, what stands out, because… when you’re taking something that’s hundreds of issues, you gotta make some really hard decisions of what to leave out.”
While he doesn’t think any of his current plans contradict what Piskor laid out in his X-Men comic, the two stories don’t necessarily share continuity. Scioli is creating his own story, unrestricted by sticking to what Piskor has already done.
“They might share the same continuity, and they may not,” Scioli said. “These are creative decisions rather than being a top-down, ‘you have to make these things line up with each other.’”
Largely taking inspiration from the early Fantastic Four work from Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Scioli hopes to create something tonally holistic, embracing all of the different vibes of Fantastic Four storytelling.
“It’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna be serious,” Scioli said. “The original Fantastic Four was that. It had really great drama and pathos but then it also had really good, laugh-out-loud [comedy].”
Scioli easily identifies The Thing as his favorite member of the team. He loves the stand-out visual design of the character and also sees him as massively versatile.
“He can be scary, but he can also be warm and funny and cuddly, kind of like a Muppet,” Scioli said. “But he can also be a scary monster at the same time.”
The biggest challenge for Scioli so far has been filling in holes he identifies in the original stories and creating something cohesive that builds toward something bigger, he said. He plans for the comic to offer something readers don’t often get out of corporate superhero comics.
“There isn’t really a Fantastic Four ending,” Scioli said, “and I’m gonna give it one.”