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Rubens Bernardino Silva, also known as R.B. Silva, is one of the preeminent artists currently working at Marvel, having tackled Powers of X alongside Pepe Larraz and more recently illustrating Marvel’s newest universe-spanning event, Empyre. In addition, he’s working closely on Dawn of X, filling pages with Tini Howard in Excalibur. His covers can be seen on everything from last week’s Iron Man #1 to the upcoming King in Black event.
But next month, Silva will be trading X-Men for something a bit more out of this world as he joins Dan Slott on Fantastic Four #25. After a trip back to the planet Spyre, where the Fantastic Four first gained their powers, the family have returned back to New York with a renewed purpose to explore the unknown. Taking over for artists Sean Issake and Paco Medina, Silva joins a team of artists stretching back to the King, Jack Kirby.
Ahead of his debut on Fantastic Four #25, Silva spoke with SYFY WIRE via email about his entry into comic art, his process, and what he’s got planned for Marvel’s first family.
Can you talk a bit about your background growing up as a comic book fan? Were comics an entry point into art, or was there a point where you wanted to switch over to drawing superheroes?
My childhood was very difficult, I had to start working at 12 to help my mother with paying the bills. There were three of us (Mom, my sister, and I), and the closest I had to something comics-related was the Super Friends and X-Men: The Animated Series cartoons. When I turned 14, I read an X-Men comic book (Uncanny X-Men #347), and in that moment I knew for sure I wanted to be a professional comics artist.
Can you talk a little bit about your approach to comic book art? What's your process like? Digital or pencil?
When I began as a professional artist, my process was 100 percent traditional. Today it is 100 percent digital. Advice for those who want to learn how to draw: Start your studies with the traditional processes, you'll get in touch with basic concepts and fundamentals so when you want to switch to digital, you'll do it in a rich, consistent way.
You've made a splash at Marvel more recently, tackling huge events like Powers of X and Empyre. Are those bigger events more fun or challenging than regular series, or both?
Big events invite the reader to witness great changes and explain things that should never be forgotten. To be a part of something like this is really stimulating; it thrusts you to grow as an artist, to evolve your technique. I always feel encouraged to evolve with each panel, and I do my best to give the reader the best experience they'll ever have. In my opinion, drawing big events is a huge responsibility, but also it's more fun.
Let's talk FF. Obviously, with the return of the Fantastic Four last year, Marvel fans finally had the first family back. Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with the Fantastic Four? Did you read the book growing up? What do you like about the team?
I never read much about the FF when I was younger, but that doesn't mean I don't like the stories. I was really young, and I needed to help my Mom. Later in my teenage years, I read a few FF stories, and being a family-oriented guy, these characters moved me deeply. All families go through rough patches, but it's important to keep together. I love this team! Oh, and I love their movies, too!
Who's your favorite member of the FF to draw, and why?
I love drawing the Thing. He's got a visual simplicity that gives you a lot of freedom and gives out a message of strength. I love that guy! It’s Clobberin’ Time!
We've seen a few pages with a mysterious alien, and I think it speaks to your talent that it looks so cool. Can you talk a little bit about your inspirations outside of comics? What types and examples of media have you been influenced by in the past? Big sci-fi guy?
I love sci-fi! I am very passionate about that genre, and everything I've watched to this day is reflected in my works. It's hard to say what exactly inspired me to develop the concepts our readers will see in this arc, because it's a lot of things, a lot of movies and TV series.
Dan's run this far has sent the FF back into space, which has led to some new revelations about their history. From a few previews, I understand that it's going to get crazy in Issue #25 and beyond. What can you tease about the Forever Gate?
Right now, I can't say much. I can only assure you that Dan is coming up with something amazing! And for that, you must read Fantastic Four #25.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.