Winner’s Circle Q&A with “Fantastic Four: Fashion Forward” Winner Alejandro Bruzzese!

Note:There could be only one. This ain’t Highlander though, it’s P:R’s Fantastic Four: Fashion Forward redesign contest. After over 120 entries, Alejandro Bruzzese‘s science-adventurer take on the team won out with 83 out of 100 points by our ten judges. After the dust settled, we caught up with the Queens-based artist to investigate how and why he drew the team the way he did. Alejandro shared with us his reasoning on the color-coding, the pouches, and even some secrets about Ben Grimm’s skin care routine. – Chris A.

Chris Arrant: First off, congratulations for the  big win, Alejandro. One of the big things that won over our judges was your portrayal of the team not as superheroes but as science adventurers. Can you talk about your decision to go that route?

Alejandro Bruzzese: Sure. In my eyes every Marvel team has a clear purpose – the Avengers are a last-resort alliance of heroes, the X-Men are volunteer paramilitary activists and the Fantastic Four are explorers. They’re the ones that go out and discover the things that eventually end up back on Earth attacking the other teams. So in that sense I see them less as super heroes, and more as a group of true pioneers. Always traveling. A mish-mash of Neil Armstrongs and Stephen Hawkings who are capable of exploring places no other human can set foot in and interacting with beings who maybe don’t want to be interacted with. A big element of my version of the Fantastic Four is that they would make mistakes, because that’s how science gets did. Also, Sue is clearly the leader in my head. Also also, Reed goes by DOCTOR Fantastic.

As science adventurers, you gave them enough pouches, backpacks and pockets to store all types of equipment. Why’d you add these, and what kinds of things do you think they’d store in there?

They go out to poke & prod the universe in the name of science, so they need to be prepared for almost anything. The backpacks likely carry essentials like gas masks, flare guns, and climbing gear, while the pockets are filled with various small tools, recording devices, first aid kits, etc. All designed by Reed and Sue, of course. They might also carry firearms since they can’t always rely on their special abilities.

Bruzzese's alternate take on the teem with grey shirts.

Maybe even an Ultimate Nullifier. Another aspect which stood yours apart was color-coding the team with different shirts. Stuart mentioned some concern about it breaking from the team uniformity, so can you talk about your decision here?

I wanted them to look like the Thunderbirds, Galaxy Trio, or Power Rangers – characters who share an aesthetic, but retain individual identities. It’s funny that he mentioned doing grey shirts with colored fours because I tried that at one point, but decided it made them look too much like they were employees of some corporation. I wanted these guys to look like four individuals working together towards a common goal.

Initially I really wanted to include Victor Von Doom. The team would’ve had fives on their chests and he’d have worn a green shirt, with someone else wearing a green five, and so on, but that would have made my entry ineligible.

Bruzzese's process sketches workout out the logo.

One thing I personally liked was your FF logo, especially the roundness and the decision to drop the hole from the “4”. Did you go through a lot of revisions to settle on this logo?

Ohhh yeah. At first I tried to avoid the “4” itself completely, but things got pretty abstract. At one point I had three small colored shapes orbiting around a large one, but none of those designs really said “Fantastic Four” to me. I played with the numeral for a bit and settled on what was submitted because it looked slightly more sci-fi without the hole, and the large shape would allow me to fit more color into each character’s outfit.

Lastly, I have to ask about the Thing’s skin. It seem each artist had their own take on Ben Grimm’s epidermis – how do you envision his body?

I approached his skin as if it were a thick layer of dense clay. It would constantly be cracking around the joints and the spots on his face where a regular person’s skin would wrinkle. After I submitted the design I had an idea: Let’s say he rubs some water on his fists – he might be able to basically shape the skin on his knuckles into spikes & have Johnny bake ’em dry. Bam! Instant punch upgrade!

15 comments to “Winner’s Circle Q&A with “Fantastic Four: Fashion Forward” Winner Alejandro Bruzzese!”
  1. Doctor Fantastic, brilliant idea. Love this redesign and I’d love to see them in a “Tom Strong Meets the Fantastic 4” special issue.

  2. I find this design particularly nice because it went with an angle I hadn’t even considered. I just went with the futuristic astronaut look with mine. I can’t believe I forgot how awesome cargo pants are :) as always, it is my humble hope that I made the honorable mentions. Great job, Alejandro!

  3. I mean, how perfect would it be to read “Doctor Fantastic faces off against… Doctor Doom!” for the first time?

    Thanks again, guys. Thomas – I love yours! (Those spheres on Ben’s torso!)

  4. Love the Doctor Fantastic name tweak…but I don’t think this group needs any climbing equipment. :)

    Also, I’d like to submit for vote – changing “The Thing” to “The Thang”, it just has more attitude.

  5. THIS won?
    don’t get me wrong… it’s not bad… but it just looks like one of those children’s show hosts…

  6. I too, was shocked at first, but the more I looked into it the more it made sense. It’s not an aestethic overhaul, rather it’s a redefinition of purposes. And that’s what made it better in the end.

    jamie silaban: THIS won?
    don’t get me wrong… it’s not bad… but it just looks like one of those children’s show hosts…

  7. Going back to their roots as adventurers is exactly the direction the FF needs to take. Making Sue leader is also a good choice. Reed is consistently depicted as being lost in his work. It doesn’t make him an effective leader. Sue has really developed that drive in her overarching character arc.

  8. Pingback: P:R Approved: Alejandro Bruzzese’s Titania! | Project : Rooftop

  9. I’m severely late to the party, but I have to throw my two cents in since the FF has been my favorite Marvel team for as long as I can remember. I’m pretty disappointed by the winning entry. The drawing is definitely eye-catching (and I have to say I do love that 4), but they’re wearing t-shirts, cargo pants, and hiking back-packs. I would assume the clothing is made from unstable molecules, so they could wear anything they wanted, but it’s an enormous departure from the FF costume paradigm, and frankly, kind of boring. I’m not entirely sure the entry doesn’t break the guideline to “not re-imagine the characters, but to revise ONLY their costuming, as if it is to be used in current continuity”. I can’t see the team ever wearing this. I’m also not entirely sure why Susan would be considered the leader. Reed is the one who spearheads the quest of discovery. Without him, the other three wouldn’t have reason to go anywhere.

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