UK-based artist Jock may be best known for runs on comic books like “Detective Comics” and “The Losers,” but it’s his work with poster design house Mondo that’s been turning heads lately. After designing the sold-out “Dark Knight Rises” poster for last year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego, Jock teamed up with Mondo in San Diego again this year to debut a limited screen-printed poster for John Carpenter’s “The Thing.” It has also sold out since this interview was conducted.
Jock chatted with CBR News recently about his work in a lengthy, two-part interview. This first section concerns his work with Mondo, revealing what it’s like to work with the in-demand design house, his process for making new posters, which characters he’s designing for “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” how a punk kid named Mark Simpson became the legendary Jock and much more.
CBR News: Jock, Mondo has already become well-known for offering up cool exclusive posters at Comic-Con International in San Diego every year. What was their presence like at the con this year?
Jock: It was fantastic. They organized the sales and the posters and what got revealed a little bit more this year, because last year they did “The Dark Knight Rises” posters and the release was just crazy. Mondo would put on Twitter or whatever that a poster is on sale and people would just rush to the booth. Security weren’t happy about it. Mondo’s got a modest booth but the lines that they get for people trying to pick up the posters stretches way, way, way down the sides of the show. This year they organized it a little bit better. Put the posters online and listed the time they’d be on sale. We released “The Thing” [on Saturday during the con] and it went really smooth.
For “The Thing” poster, we didn’t get any likeness rights so I had to come up with something thematic, rather than specific. Justin Ishmael said, ‘You wanna do “The Thing?'” and I said yeah, but only if I can come up with something that does it justice, because it’s one of my favorites as well.
Who would you say is the typical Mondo poster collector?
It’s hard to say. Justin Ishmael, who basically runs Mondo, is a massive comics fan. He brought me in and he brought Francesco Francavilla in. He met Jeff Lemire this weekend and he was really excited. It’s a cross-section. We get comics fans, art fans, the eBay people who don’t want to look you in the eye when they buy it. You can only buy one per person, as well, so you’ll see a dad with like three tiny little children and they’ve all got tickets. [Laughs] There’s a big poster community, as well, that’s really supportive of what Mondo’s doing.
How did you get involved with Mondo originally?
It was Olly Moss, actually. I was friends with Olly, I had met him three years ago. It turns out he worked at Prologue, who did the end credits for “Iron Man” and all sorts of movies, and they were doing the end credits for “The Losers.” Olly worked there for a few months and designed the end credits for “The Losers.” It’s a sequence using my art — they animated it. I had no idea. I was a big fan of Olly’s work and we got chatting online, we met up and got on well.
Olly told Justin about me and I did a couple of lower-key horror film prints for them and then they gave me “The Dark Knight Rises” and I’ve been working on some brilliant stuff since then. Like some work I just did for “The Dark Knight Trilogy” Blu-ray box set. There are some villain art cards in there of like The Joker and the Scarecrow.
The work Mondo does is so good, I’m really happy about those guys. Their quality control is so high, they’re only interested in putting out the best stuff they possibly can. They’re not interested in selling loads of stuff for the sake of it and making a quick buck — which they could easily do. They just don’t, they aren’t interested in putting out low-quality stuff. When you put out high-quality stuff, people get into it. All the studios want to work with them, everyone. In the case of “The Dark Knight Trilogy” Blu-ray, someone from the studio contacted Mondo.
What’s the process like for creating a Mondo poster? Do you give them thumbnails or sketches to start?
They give you total creative freedom — so long as that creative freedom looks good. It’s like working with a very loose editor in comics. I absolutely send them sketches though, and we pick one and throw ideas around. There’s also Rob Jones, who is a brilliant designer and acts as their design lead, and he always gives brilliant feedback. Mitch Putnam, as well, who handles the logistics of everything. They all give feedback, but at the end of the day it’s always, ‘Listen, if you want to do that, do that.’ It’s a perfect arrangement, really.
What poster do you most want to do for Mondo?
I’d still like to do a “Cannibal Holocaust” poster. I know some people are probably like ‘yuck, what?!’ but I’d still love to do a poster of it!
You also worked as a production designer on the film “Dredd 3D.” What’s it been like seeing the movie go from pre-release hype to box office dud to cult hit in under a year?
It premiered over here [in San Diego] last year. We went to see it on Preview Night and the response was incredible. It was actually higher than I was expecting. So nice to see. I e-mailed Karl [Urban] in the morning when the reviews started coming online and I was like, ‘Have you seen these reviews?!’ and he was just so happy. The film wasn’t a risk, per se, but Dredd’s not a very well known character in the States. That was great. Then it came out in the UK and was the #1 film in the UK. That was a surprise to everyone. A very welcome one though. Then, unfortunately, it just didn’t take at the US box office at all. It was disappointing. It got great reviews and the buzz about it online was great. Everyone seemed to love it, which I appreciated because it’s a film that doesn’t compromise. It was a very specific thing by Alex Garland and he stuck to it. It’s very violent and has an extreme side to it. But I remember seeing the early footage and knowing that was its strength, it’s ability to push farther than any other films. But it’s been doing great on home video. DVDs have been selling great. So who knows?
It’s hard to be truly objective about it because I worked on it, but it’s one of those films that honestly gets better every time I see it. That’s quite a rare thing. Alex, particularly, was so specific about his vision and good sci-fi films need that. I think the problem some sci-fi films have is that they don’t necessarily obey their own rules and you need that coherence. I think “Dredd” has that. That world we built has integrity. It works. I hope it’s one of those films that people are still buying and enjoying in 10, 15, 20 years in special releases because they really do seem to like it.
At the end of the day, anything that gets people back to the comics is great. “2000 AD” is such a great thing, so anything that gets people back to it is a good thing.
When might we get you back drawing again in “2000 AD?”
I don’t know, actually. I always love drawing Dredd, he’s still my favorite character. I don’t have any current plans to do that and time’s a little tight at the moment, but I’m always open to drawing more Dredd.
Do you think the future of your career lies in film, design or comics?
It’s really hard to say, I enjoy all those things. They all offer me an opportunity to flex different muscles. The film stuff’s great, I’m a big movie man. I recently did some costume design on the “X-Men: Days of Future Past” movie. I worked on “Dredd.” I also love design stuff, like getting to do the Mondo posters.
But there’s always comics. I love comics but they’re hard work. The deadlines are hard work. For the immediate future, though, I just planned the next couple years [of comics I’ll be doing] this weekend so there’s going to be a lot of comics coming.
Which costumes did you help design in “X-Men: Days of Future Past?”
A few, actually. What you find with those sorts of things is you’ll do lots of different concepts and versions. They might pick a shoulder from that one and a kneecap from that one and a wrist from this one. I worked with my friend Lee Garbett, actually. He came in for a couple weeks, he’s a huge “X-Men” fan. I did some work on Wolverine, which was great. Professor X, Colossus, too. When I was working on it, it wasn’t even locked down which characters were in it, though.
Finally, I need to know: where did the pseudonym Jock come from?
Jock was a nickname from when I was young and it was what everyone called me and it just stuck. When I was younger and drawing pictures I’d just sign it Jock. When I started going to comic conventions, trying to build a portfolio and seriously show it to editors, they’d look at it and go no thanks, but then the next year when I went back they’d go, ‘Oh yeah, Jock! I remember you!’ So it was quite useful.
I did wonder when I got my first work at DC how it would come across, because Jock means something quite different over here. It’s an All-American sports star. I did wonder whether I should drop the name. My first work just before “The Losers” was an issue of “Hellblazer.” The script came from Mike Carey and it had drawn by Jock on there. Since I already had a bit of a fan base from “2000 AD,” I figured I’d just leave the name.
It is what it is.