The original high-octane video game series set within the seedy world of organized crime returns in February 2011 with “Driver: San Francisco,” which sees undercover cop John Tanner on the mend from injuries suffered in previous games and hellbent on revenge against Jericho, the crime boss who nearly put him under. Tying in with the new game, which will be released on all three major consoles as well as PC, Ubisoft and Wildstorm will publish a comic book one-shot titled “Driver: The Pursuit of Nothingness” catching fans up on the events between 2004’s “Driv3r” and the latest release. The comic is written by “Stray Bullets” and “Young Liars” creator David Lapham with interior art by Greg Scott and covers by Jock.
The original “Driver,” released on the Playstation console in 1999, followed the exploits of John Tanner, an undercover cop posing as driver for a powerful crime syndicate. The game was immensely popular upon its release and Tanner starred in two sequels before the series branched with 2006’s “Driver: Parallel Lines” for Playstation 2 and Xbox. “Driver: San Francisco” arrives later this year for Wii, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360, putting Tanner back in the driver’s seat. Wildstorm’s “Driver: The Pursuit of Nothingness” ties in directly with the upcoming game, as Tanner chases down the crime lord Jericho, who nearly killed the intrepid agent in “Driv3r.”
CBR News spoke with Jock at Comic-Con International in San Diego, where Wildstorm was distributing a #0 preview issue of “Driver,” to get his thoughts on creating a cover for the video game tie-in.
“Ubisoft wanted a cover artist, and luckily they liked what I did, so they came to me and asked me if I’d like to work on [‘Driver’], and of course I was happy to do so,” Jock said of how the project reached him. “What I try to do with covers is give them a strong design sense, a kind of cool retro vibe, which fit in very nicely with ‘Driver’ and what they had in mind.”
Given that the games publisher understandably wanted art that would match the characters and tone seen in the upcoming “Driver: San Francisco,” Jock received a fair amount of reference material to work with. “They sent style guides and image investigations, [which] have boards with shots from movies and imagery of car chases they liked,” Jock said. “And there were some specific things in there. “When I spoke with them, [Ubisoft wanted] things like the silhouette of Tanner, a big, strong, bold kind of design. White background, things like that. And these are the kinds of things I do anyway. It was really very straightforward. I was expecting to have to do six or seven designs and they’d choose one, but the first one I did, they were just like, ‘Yep, that great, let’s do it.'”
Jock told CBR that he does not currently play many video games, but is familiar with the “Driver” franchise from its glory days. “I’ve got a PSP, when I’m traveling I’ll play ‘Grand Theft Auto’ and that’s pretty much it. But that first ‘Driver’ game, which this new one is kind of hearkening back to, I played it to death,” the artist said. “It was amazing, just so playable. Because I just dip into games, that’s kind of what I look for. I’m looking forward to playing this one. Apparently, they’re literally going right back to how it was in the first game.” As to whether he’s a fan of the sort of classic cars seen in the “Driver” games, Jock said, “Everyone likes a good car, absolutely!”
As to his other big project right now (the subject of much of his Twitter activity), Jock said that work on the new “Judge Dredd” film is “going great.” “I’m thrilled to be working on it, because Judge Dredd was my favorite character growing up. My first work in comics was working on Judge Dredd, and now I’m doing concept art for the Dredd movie. It’s going great, Alex Garland’s written a fantastic script and it’s moving forward really well.”
Doing concept art on “Dredd” has been a bit of a departure from Jock’s work on comics, though both make use of skills familiar to the artist. “Comics is telling a sequential story, and that has rules. Concept art, you’re presenting one image to represent the scope and the feel of a scene in a movie. So it’s a very different thing,” Jock explained. “I started out painting before I got into black and white comics; it comes across quite naturally to me. The concept art movie stuff is much more kind of rich and painterly than my comics stuff.”
Jock’s other “comics stuff” for the moment includes his continuing gig on covers for Vertigo’s “Scalped,” and he is planning a four-issue miniseries called “Snapshot” with Andy Diggle. “I’m drawing the first issue right now,” Jock said, adding that there is no publisher for the series quite yet.