Are you the victim of a crime too strange to be considered real, or too weird to be taken to the authorities? Beginning this Wednesday, there’s someone you can call: Moon Knight.
This Wednesday is the premiere of the all-new Moon Knight series by writer Warren Ellis, artist Declan Shalvey and colorist Jordie Bellaire, and in this ongoing series they’ll take the crescent-clad hero down a strange new path of weird crime investigations. In this new undertaking, Moon Knight has ditched his cape and cowl for a suit of a different kind: a three piece suit.
In December Newsarama spoke with the creators involved in this new Moon Knight series, and now with the series debut just a few days away we circled back for a more in-depth conversation with Shalvey about this new take on Moonie and his new line of service.
Newsarama: Moon Knight #1 is coming out this Wednesday, Declan. What can you tell us about this first issue?
Declan Shalvey: Well, this first issue introduces us to our Moon Knight, as he moves through New York searching out for 'weird crimes'. You don't need to have read an issue of Moon Knight beforehand; this is a fresh look at the character by Warren, myself and Jordie. Messed up stuff happens from there on.
Nrama: I assume you’re well into drawing the series – how far in are you exactly, and how do you feel about it now that you’re well into it?
Shalvey: At the moment I'm about halfway through issue 4. Now that I have a few issues under my belt I'm feeling a lot more confident about the series; Warren has thrown me something new and unusual with each issue and it's kept me on my toes. Working against my confidence however, is the launch of the series, and my realization that everyone is going to see (and judge) it soon. Each issue I've been progressively happier with though; I really feel like each issue is better than the last.
Nrama: Do you plan to draw all the issues for the foreseeable future, or will Marvel be bringing in someone else for guest arcs/issues?
Shalvey: I can at least say that the first 6 issues will all be drawn by myself, after that I have no idea to be honest. I have no idea what is happening issue to issue until I get the script from Warren. I'm normally used to working in arcs of some kind, but all the issues so far have been more stand alone. It means I can approach each issue with a fresh approach , and that's been an interesting change for me. As far as I'm concerned though, as long as Warren is on the book; I'm on the book.
Nrama: In comics we’ve seen Moon Knight fight larger-than-life threats but also go very personal, very street level like Daredevil. How would you describe the scope of this series?
Shalvey: This series is more personal; definitely street level. Emphasis on the word Street. And Level. The threats aren't Galactus-level so far as they're all a bit more low-key, but they are very, very twisted.
Nrama: People sometimes avoid the man behind the mask – or just pigeon-hole him as crazy. In your conversations with Marvel and Warren and working on the book obviously, how do you peg Marc Spector?
Shalvey: Marc has 'issues' to say the least. Honestly; I don't really want to go into it more than that otherwise I risk spoiler-territory.
Nrama: Each of your major projects – 28 Days Later, Thunderbolts, Deadpool – have had their own unique tenor thanks to you and the writers involved. What would you say the feel and mood of this series is?
Shalvey: I feel Moon Knight is the perfect blend of everything I've worked on before. Atmospheric horror, dynamic superhero action, deliberately paced drama, etc. This book has given me the opportunity to work on a series that introduces enough visual challenges without having to throw in an action scene. It gives me all the mood and atmosphere I like to work on, but stops it from getting boring. It's like I took all my previous projects at Marvel, Vertigo, Dark Horse, etc., and put them all in a blender. My aim is for the book to feel creepy, twisted, textured, bold and striking. Warren has forced me to make creative decisions with every issue; it's like I feel like I've improved as an artist with every story and I hope that shows.
Nrama: The label attached to this is “Weird Crime” by Warren in a previous interview – a kind of news story people have seemingly always gotten a kick out of. Can you describe your own interest in weird crime, and how it relates to what you and Warren are doing here?
Shalvey: Funnily enough, I've been listening/watching a lot of crime documentaries of late. I've been wondering why I'm so compelled to watch so many of them. I think despite the morbid fascination we all have with certain crimes, there's this big puzzle element; everyone loves a whodunit, a murder mystery, and with a lot of crime stories, especially unconventional ones, there's an obsession to find the reasons and solve the puzzle. Creating comics is the act of solving a hundred puzzles in order to unfold a story, and perhaps there's a parallel in that regard.
Nrama: You’ve become well-known with your work at Marvel, but it’s all been in continuing series already began. Moon Knight’s not a completely new character obviously, and this design has been seen in Secret Avengers before, but what’s it like having a series you can call your own – one you can put your stamp to without worrying about breaking too much from a previous issue or an upcoming one by another artist?
Shalvey: 'Well-known' might be pushing it Chris, but thanks; I'll take it!
It's both liberating and terrifying to launch a new series. As you mentioned, the 'suit' version of Moon Knight has previously been seen, so it was less intimidating to simply modify him in a way I felt comfortable drawing him. By the time we get to see his superhero costume and the other looks in the series, I had built up a bit more confidence. What was more difficult was taking the time to build an identifying look to the series. I don't think world-building is my strong-suit, but I think I have a certain approach that can stand out visually. Making a page of Moon Knight look identifiable was something I felt I wanted to work on more; making the book look like something that was more representative of how I draw, and not something that can be easily replicated. I've enjoyed the arc I've done o various marvel books, but getting to launch this book was finally an opportunity to do something more unique to my abilities and I tried my best to do that.
Nrama: In this series Moon Knight is showing off a swank pure white suit – not super suit, but business suit. Drawing superheroes for years now, I imagine you must feel pretty comfortable with drawing capes, cowls, and superhero costumes – but what about suits? How deep did you get into research to get the right cut of suit for Moon Knight here?
Shalvey: Actually, no one tells you this, but when you're drawing comics, you have to draw a lot of suits! Generic villains, henchmen, mobsters, swanky restaurateurs, businessmen, detectives, etc., you need to know how to draw suits if you want to draw comics! With Moon Knight though, I had to be a lot more specific as to how he looked; drawing a generic suit wouldn't be good enough; I knew I'd have to have a solid idea of how he carries himself and how the suit fits him.
Nrama: Moon Knight is the titular star of this, but in most all of the covers and in the interiors shown the cityscape plays a big part of it. Your previous work hasn’t really shown you doing a grounded urban story as much as what’s being proposed here, so what’s it like populating a world of buildings and streets without making it look cookie-cutter?
Shalvey: I guess that's true, I thing I only really got to draw a New York scene in an issue of Thunderbolts and an issue of Venom. I'm drawing Marvel comics for nearly four years, how have I ended up drawing New York so few times? In any case, the street level urban environments are something I've really wanted to take a stab at for a while, so it's great to finally try it on this book. I've really tried to make the city have character too; I want there to be personality to the buildings and working with greywash, etc, has helped a lot in making the urban environment more lived-in, more tactile and layered, instead of it just looking like a grid-like perspective drawing.
Nrama: Before we go, I have to ask about the cover to Moon Knight #3 and the intriguing bird-man type design. I know you want to leave something for the issue itself, but what can you tell us about that design for the character?
Shalvey: Moon Knight has his suit, his superhero costume and another costume for.... special occasions. Warren said “Giant bird skull” and I took it from there.