Note: Our recent Spider-Man: Webhead 2.0 contest propelled a really strong debate, and got people really thinking about what works (and what doesn’t) with a Spider-Man contest. After the entries came in and the results were tallied, California artist Mika Dimayuga came out on top as winner of the contest. Now that the dust has settled, we wanted to ask Mike about his choices that led him to the winner’s circle. – Chris A.
Project: Rooftop: First thing’s first – when you first heard about the contest to redesign Spider-man, what were your thoughts on the original costume and what needed changing – and why?
Mike Dimayuga: My very first thought upon finding out about the contest was “dang, this is gonna be another difficult one.”. In my opinion, Spider-Man’s original costume is perfect. It’s iconic, relatively simple to draw, but detailed enough to be visually interesting to look at. Its sleek, fashionable and just so right for the character.
So really, what can I change while still making it “Spider-Man” since the costume was near perfect already? well, having drawn Spidey since I was a kid I knew the least fun for me were the web patterns. They were really tedious to draw. Also, I knew I can play around with the red and blue portions of the suit. I figured I NEEDED a theme, since I was so stumped in the beginning. thinking about Spidey and having just been watching some anime, I realized Spider-Man’s kind of a ninja, so I wanted to do Spidey as an urban ninja. Hardly original, I know. But hey, any port in a storm, right?
To that, I add my other philosophy: when designing a costume, I imagine how iI would design a character if it were meant for a real monthly book. What would an artist have fun drawing over, and over, and over, again? What would be simple to draw, yet still have some interesting detail that would draw the eye? Something distinctive. So with those parameters I was able to finally narrow down what I wanted my design to be.
Project: Rooftop: One of the key things for the design for me is the lack of a Spider-man logo; some of your earlier versions have that, but why’d you lose it for the final one?
Mike Dimayuga: Well, first and foremost, as I was doing the preliminary drawings, I realized, “hey, if I’m putting the spider on the suit, then everybody’s putting the spider on the suit!”. So I just dropped it altogether. And when I did that, I got to thinking “the spider isn’t Spider-Man.” At least not any more, and at least not to me. Spider-Man is red and blue. Spider-Man’s the webs and the eyes. The original suit makes Spider-Man, not the little spider pictogram. He’s grown beyond that.
But, that’s not to say I wouldn’t be putting any spider-y accents to the costume. I would just try to do things differently.
Project: Rooftop: Also I noticed that early on you were going to use a cloak-type headgear, and that kind of transformed into the scarf your design wears. Can you talk about that?
At first I was trying to do a more traditional ninja look, if only to see what works and what doesn’t. So early designs looked like Storm Shadow or the Frank Miller-style ninjas with the looser clothing. neither worked so I opted to go for sleek and modern.
I had trouble reconciling the chest design with the head piece/helmet; making the two match or connect together in an aesthetically pleasing way. It just wasn’t working for me. My buddy suggested putting a scarf like Shinobi, since my theme was urban ninja. That not only solved the problem nicely, but it would also help in making Spidey’s actions more dynamic. I was imagining what an action scene with my Spidey design would look like. He would be in mid-leap, bouncing around the panel trailing streak of white; accenting the flow of the action. The more I thought about it, the more I dug the idea.
Project: Rooftop: For me one of the best parts of your designs was the webbing coming out of individual fingers. How’d you come onto that, and did you think out how he’d use that practically?
Mike Dimayuga: In drawing my entry, I was trying to pose the fingers in an interesting way, not necessarily for shooting webbing, but just something Spidey-ish for the action shot. Aagain, it comes down to what’s more fun for the artist. So I physically tried some poses (looking like an idiot, i’m sure) and found that finger webbing offered more interesting options. And when you think about it, yeah, pointing with a finger (or fingers) is waaay more accurate than aiming with your wrist. and it just opens up even more fun posing possibilities.
Project: Rooftop: You mentioned earlier about the Shinobi inspiration for the helmet. Can you talk about that?
Mike Dimayuga: As for the helmet, that was purely coincidental. I mean, I make no bones about the scarf being influenced by Shinobi, but I totally forgot he had that distinctive face mask too. In my case, you’ll notice my helmet is just a customized ninja mask. I added the eyes to enforce the spider motif since my design didn’t have the spider icon. I guess I’m saying he looks that way for a reason and not because I was consciously ripping off a video game.
Thank god I didn’t go through with strapping a sword to his back like I originally intended!
Project: Rooftop: Are the multiple eyes functional in any way, or just cosmetic?
Mike Dimayuga: Well, I imagine the “front” eyes can be headlamps or the Spidey-spotlight. ultimately they are as functional as the fictional writer wants them to be. hehe. [laughs]