Get Graphic: The Art of Mike Choi's 'Moths'
May 09, 2022
Art by Mike Choi
Interview by Troy-Jeffrey Allen
Similar to the main character in his new comic Moths, artist Mike Choi's purpose seems to be bringing beauty into the world. From his career-changing stint on Marvel's X-Men titles to extensive work with Top Cow -- regardless of the subject matter, Choi's visual style has always had an elegance to it that is unmistakable. Now, after a lengthy hiatus from interior comic art, Choi is gracing not just the cover of AWA Studio's Moths, but the inside pages as well.
In the following spotlight, the artist fills us in on what made this new project so alluring, what readers can expect from it, and how Moth's protagonist Emily Kai mirrors his own life. Keep reading...
"My name is Mike Choi, I started drawing comics in 2003 with Top Cow, and I’ve been doing it off and on ever since for Marvel and occasionally DC, and covers on pretty much any project that interests me, especially since I started painting."
"Moths is a spin-off of J. Michael Straczynski’s Resistance books, centered around a character named Emily, who’s a special kind of special-powered person, called a Moth. It’s on a more intimate level than the other books, delving into her personal journey as she navigates her powers and her place in this world."
"On a personal level, not only is it my first book that’s not a one-off or a fill-in in over a decade, but it’s also my first book that I’m doing all the art for, from the covers to every single interior page."
"Emily is a strong and independent young woman, an archetype I’ve had a lot of experience drawing, from Witchblade’s Sara Pezzini, Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft, to X-23/Laura Kinney, but I definitely wanted to convey warmth and softness to Emily as well. While she’s independent, she differs from the aforementioned characters in that she does seek connections with others and values her relationships. So hopefully that all comes across in her mannerisms and body language."
"A huge part in her design from the script is that she’s biracial, with an Asian-American father and a White mother. I wanted to get the look right, especially since my own children are also of that ethnic background, and I wanted them to hopefully one day see themselves represented in that regard in a comic book that their dad did. I looked to a few other women of the same ethnic heritage to make sure I correctly drew the appropriate physical characteristics like the shape of Emily’s eyes and facial structure, including some friends but also celebrities like the late Tina Chow and Lauren Tsai, and I think there are definitely some unintended likenesses throughout the first couple issues that I cannot unsee for the life of me. I think though that by the third issue the specific look of Emily developed in its own right."
"Honestly working with [AWA Chief Creative Officer] Axel Alonso again was the first thing. I really enjoyed my time at Marvel when he was the editor-in-chief there, and I loved the vision that he had with the books at AWA, as well as the company as a whole. The script itself is dense with story yet efficiently told as a mini-series, but still being consistently intimate with the main character were characteristics that have always drawn me to pretty much all my favorite projects I’d worked on."
"Axel put us together. It’s been an absolute dream of mine to work with him since I’d read Midnight Nation. Midnight Nation was probably the main reason I looked at Top Cow as the place I wanted to work at when I first started and is still one of my favorite books of all time. I’ve been a fan of JMS for a very long time."
"I do some layout sketches in pencil or acrylic and then paint over them digitally, or in the case of the covers, in oil. I mix a lot of traditional and digital. Issue one has a lot of evidence of my trying to figure out the look of the book, with some panels having more line work and looking more like a traditional comic, while on others I tried to get things looking more photorealistic. But I think I start to get my process more uniform and streamlined by the second issue. I definitely try to lean towards realism. I use a lot of models that I take photos of to get things like lighting and proportions correct, which obviously hasn’t been easy during the pandemic."
"I’m proud to have drawn and painted the book, for sure. I think it’s looking pretty good if you ask me. That said, all I hope for is that the book makes people feel what the script made me feel as I first read it, and honestly, I hope people feel the same way reading Moths as I did when I read Midnight Nation twenty years ago."
Moths is available to order now with PREVIEWSworld Pullbox. It's available now from your local comic shop.
months to live. As Emily enters into this journey, she contemplates how to use her gifts to bring beauty into the world in
the limited time she has to use them.
is what is known as a "Moth." She was granted immense power by the global pandemic known as "The Great Death," but
with a caveat: The moment she taps into the power that resides within her, a clock starts and Emily will have only six
months to live. Granted the opportunity to bring immense beauty into the world, but only by paying the ultimate price,
Emily embarks on a harrowing journey of self-discovery that will test her to her core and take her to places way beyond
her wildest imagination.
within her, a clock starts and Emily will have only six months to live. Granted the opportunity to bring immense beauty into the world, but only by paying the ultimate price, Emily embarks on a harrowing journey of self-discovery that will test her to her core and take her to places way beyond her wildest imagination.
Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the producer and co-host of PREVIEWSworld Weekly. His comics work includes BAMN, Fight of the Century, the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics, and the Ringo Awards-nominated Magic Bullet.