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.
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.
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!