MEETING MICO: THE NEW MOON KNIGHT ARTIST MICO SUAYAN
When March’s solicitations for Marvel books hit last week, Moon Knight fans had a question – who’s this “Mico” guy, and what happened to David Finch?
As Joe Quesada revealed in New Joe Fridays, Finch, alas, has moved on to other pastures, and this “Mico” guy will be around for at least the next four issues (#9-#12). So who is he? We caught up with Michael “Mico” Suayan for a chat and an early look at his art.
Newsarama: Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How long have you been in comics, and what got you in the door?
Mico Suayan: I’m a 26 years old proud Filipino from Manila, Philppines. Aside from doing comic book I’m also a storyboard artist for an advertising company.
I don’t remember exactly when I started doing comics but my guess is it has been somewhere near 4 or 5 years now. It’s like a on and off thing actually. I got interested in doing comic book with the help from my college friends. My real goal was to get involve in advertising rather than drawing comic books but because of my friends who are also great artists, I got into it as well.
NRAMA: Was getting into the biz easy for you? Difficult?
MS: Getting a job or gig in the comic book business for me has been very difficult but very well deserving experience. I sample art and showed my then crappy work to editors and agents and got rejected several times. But with the help from great Filipino artists like Gilbert Monsanto and Gerry Alanguilan I was able to develop my skills and work and that’s when I started getting some indie gigs locally and internationally. And from there my career as a comic book artist kind of took off.
NRAMA: Did you read/collect comics as a kid?
MS: Actually I won’t forget the first comic book that I got when I was 7. It was Spider-Man. I was amazed at the drawings that I saw and that’s what I think got me into comics. Then I started collecting other titles like some of my favorites Superman, Batman, X-Men.
NRAMA: You mentioned that you’ve been in comics for a little while now - what have you worked on before this?
MS: I did some small stuff but my biggest gig – before Moon Knight was Stan Winston’s Trakk: Monster Hunter. It’s in this book that I was able to finalize and polish my style.
NRAMA: So what got you to Marvel? Was there a particular editor or creator that brought you to their attention and worked to get you through the door?
MS: Actually, Nightwing artist Joe Dodd was one of the important reason why I got this gig. He gave me e-mail address on some of the editors he has worked with. I e-mailed all of them with link to my online gallery. Some have replied with some interests in my work and one of them was Joe Quesada.
NRAMA: So from a response from Quesada to Moon Knight - what was your reaction when they pitched Moon Knight your way?
MS: Do you know that feeling when your asleep and dreaming and you thought in that particular dream was really happening? I was feeling the same when got the email from [Moon Knight Editor] Axel Alonso. I felt my heart stopped in a moment and I felt cold. I know it sounded far fetched or a bit over-reacting but it’s true. I’m a huge David Finch fan. I’m not really too familiar with Moon Knight as a character, but when I saw David’s work I got hooked on the book.
NRAMA: Obviously, Moon Knight is one of Marvel's higher-profile launches this year, and Dave Finch has gotten a lot of attention as a result...do you have any worries about coming in and filling his shoes?
MS: After Marvel released there March solicitation I was going to all comic book related message boards and was looking for fans reaction when they learn that I was replacing David on Moon Knight. Most of them are negative but I don’t blame them. David is a big factor for the book’s success and anyone taking his place should have the same quality of work like he has. So the only worry that I have I guess are making the readers and fans of the book happy with my work.
NRAMA: Speaking artistically, how do you approach a character like Moon Knight - first off, just speaking generally, given who and what he is...? For example, he's not super-powered, so he has to be…what, athletic? As big as a house? How do you make him believable for the things he does?
MS: Moon Knight may be the darkest and the most mysterious Marvel character I know. I think David has already established what Moon Knight really is and who he is. What I intend to do while keeping and staying true to David’s vision of Moon Knight, giving a darker aura to him. For me, he is powered by his will and belief making him achieve his goals so giving him more character is what I intend to do.
NRAMA: That said, explain what you mean by saying that you’ll be staying true to David’s vision…
MS: Many people at Marvel thought my art was in similar flow to David’s, so with that, I think there’s no need in doing adjustments with my style. For me, I’m very happy with my own style.
NRAMA: Graphically speaking, what elements make up Moon Knight? say, for Spider-Man, it's the postures, the webbing under the arms, and sometimes the eyes; for Wolverine, it's the claws, the cowl, the height, the hairiness...what is it for Moon Knight that has to be there to make it Moon Knight?
MS: I think what makes Moon Knight Moon Knight is his cape and the cowl with his almost black and hidden mask underneath the hood. It’s also worth noting his scarred face and battered body when not in the costume. So for me that’s what makes him Moon Knight.
NRAMA: Speaking of him being out of costume, Moon Knight is a character who has a very active life as Marc Spector. Are you comfortable drawing the more "everyday life" aspects of the series? What are the specific challenges that come with that side of things, say...making sure fashions are up to date, capturing emotion on faces during a conversation?
MS: I admit that for me I’m more interested in drawing Moon Knight than Marc Spector. There’s no problem for me drawing the everyday aspect of Marc. I mean I’m more familiar with everyday life than doing hero stuff (laughs) …So far I’m not having problems with small details on the book like fashion and stuff. I have a very supportive editor and writer that help me in that department.
NRAMA In that vein, as you see them, are Marc and Moon Knight the same character? That is, when Marc Spector is in the costume, do you draw him as you did Marc, but just in a costume, or is "Moon Knight" almost a different entity?
MS: Funny thing is most costumed characters have a very different alter ego or vice versa. But in Moon Knight’s case, I don’t see any difference in them. You will see this in the coming issues what I mean.
NRAMA: So - what's coming up in your arc that has you excited?
MS: Without giving everything spoiler-y, we will see more brutality and action in the coming issues. I’m more of an action guy, and I can’t wait to draw the scenes I’ve read.
NRAMA: How's Charlie [Huston] to work with, speaking as an artist? How much freedom does he give you to play cinematographer and director?
MS: Charlie is a great and very supportive writer! The freedom he gives me in the book is immeasurable with only a few notes here and there. But overall he is great! I’m very thankful that he trust me in all things I’m doing with the book knowing that I’m just a rookie.
NRAMA: So – wrapping up, after this arc - what are your plans and hopes? More Moon Knight? A different character, a different series?
MS: I haven’t thought of that actually. But I’m hoping that after this I’ll get more books to draw for Marvel. It may be Moon Knight or something else. But X-Men is my dream project…*wink! wink!*