Already a renowned artist for his work on “The Losers” and “Detective Comics,” for his next trick Jock tries his hand at writing a full comic for the first time this September when he acts as both writer and artist on “Savage Wolverine” from Marvel Comics. Beginning in “Savage Wolverine” #9, Jock’s three-part story follows Logan as he’s flung into the far-future and crash lands on an alien planet.
Yesterday Jock told us about his film work on films and designing posters for Mondo, and today in the second part of a comprehensive two-part interview, Jock spoke with Comic Book Resources about “Savage Wolverine,” the pressure he feels as a first-time writer, who he turned to for writing advice, which “World War Z” poster he may have helped influence, what music he enjoys listening to while he draws, the results of the “Snapshot” photo contest and much more.
CBR News: Jock, let’s discuss your comic book work. With your next project, you’re not only drawing but also, for the first time, writing your upcoming three-part story starting in “Savage Wolverine” #9. What’s it like being both artist and writer on a project for the first time?
Jock: It’s great but it’s a challenge. I want to do the best job I can and obviously as a first-time writer it’s daunting, but Jeanine Schaefer, the editor at Marvel, gave me the perfect opportunity. It’s something I’ve thought about a lot over the years because I love the writer/artist guys — Frank Miller, Paul Pope, Jeff Lemire, all those guys. It’s a different type of storytelling and it always feels a bit more personal. I’ve thought about it over the years but never had the opportunity to do it. Jeanine asked if I wanted to come and do a story-arc, it’d be very open and out of continuity, and I could even write it if I wanted. I could tell any story I wanted, drop the mic and leave. So I came up with a concept and everyone at Marvel loved it, which was great. It’s set in the far, far future, so it’s kinda a sci-fi “Wolverine.” He crash lands on an alien planet. It’s actually just like a “2000 AD” story! The first issue is out in September.
Could “Savage Wolverine” be just the start of a prolific career for writer/artist Jock?
Well, I don’t know. That’s the thing, if it goes well, then who knows. I’m very aware that it could turn my career into a new thing.
But creator-owned wise, I’ve also been talking to a great friend who is also a great writer for about a year and a half, and we just locked down doing a book together today.
Who did you go to for advice on how to write your first script?
I spoke to Andy Diggle, called him a couple months ago. Met with a few editors, too. Friends like Olly [Moss.] Tends to be like we’re doing now, just sitting around having a chat and if it comes up, then I use the opportunity to get their opinions and that sort of thing. It’s been good, people seem to really like the idea.
Do you think you’re more nervous about this project because your writing is getting put out there and judged, rather than if you were just drawing someone else’s “Wolverine” script?
That’s a good question. It took me by surprise. As an artist, I don’t know any artists who are super confident about what they do and I’m not either. You just try to do the absolute best job you can. But I guess that over ten years of drawing comics in the States, there is a bit of a comfort zone with art that I hadn’t realized, since now I’m writing, as well. It’s a whole new area of the brain that I’m using. Yeah, I’m absolutely anxious that [the writing is] good as I’ve not done it before. There is a bit of the ‘will they or won’t they like it?’ feeling I’ve not had for a long time. It’s true.
Did you find yourself leaning more towards a wordy or visual style in your writing?
What I didn’t want to do is make it purely visually led because I didn’t want it to be too thin. But saying that, that is the way I’m wired. I worked out the stories using thumbnails. Making small pages and editing them and moving them around. It’s more of a Marvel style, but with myself. I don’t have a full-script, I sort of draw the artwork and then when the artwork’s done I’ll start lettering it and pulling it all together. The dialogue’s not locked down yet, either. It’s more of an organic way of working because it is just me. It seems like the natural way to do it.
You have a very unique style that’s instantly recognizable among fans. Did you consciously move towards that style to stand out or was it a natural evolution?
Totally evolved naturally. Everybody has influences, of course, but my style wasn’t a deliberate effort at all. When you work on a project, when you try to think you have to style it a certain way, it never really works out. I’ve done it a couple of times where I’ve tried to do it a little bit more like one way or another, in an effort to service the story, but you just find you have a natural way of drawing that you keep coming back to. I’m very, very lucky that I’ve always had editors being supportive of me doing whatever I wanted to do, which is great.
It’s funny you say people can recognize my stuff because that’s not anything I can really think about. Although occasionally a movie poster or something will pop up and I’ll get messages asking if it it’s me and I’m like, “No, it’s not me.” Recently it was a “World War Z” poster and to think that the way I might do it influenced how they did it is a crazy idea. In fact, when I was at Burbank a few years ago meeting with the head of marketing for “The Losers,” I was in his office looking at all the various “Losers” movie posters they had come up with. There were lots based on our covers and lots based on their own ideas. One of the things he said was, ‘We swiped you a few years ago.’ I said, ‘Oh really?’ and he said, “Oh yeah, on ‘Ocean’s 12.’ The poster with the guys walking across the big number twelve. We saw your ‘Losers’ cover with the guys walking across the flag and took it.” I didn’t know whether to be flattered or offended. Actually, especially back then, the thought that a huge movie like that could have been influenced by the way I approached a comic cover was crazy.
I thought you did that “World War Z” poster too!
Really? [Laughs] I’m friends with a producer on that and I met with him Thursday here in San Diego. It turns out it was done by one of the guys from the effects house, the guys who were building the zombie hordes, and they just had that image as a half-done concept and someone really liked it so it became the poster.
Do you prefer drawing interiors or covers? How is your approach different?
I don’t have a preference, necessarily, because they’re different. Totally different. I do love working on covers, though. I’ve tried to rein in the amount I’ve been doing because I used to have trouble turning stuff down. With stuff like my Mondo work, I have much longer to work on things and I’m generally much happier with how it comes out. That feels much better to me than just cranking out covers for the sake of it or whatever. So I’ve started turning stuff down, basically. I just want to make sure what I put out now is really good quality. Covers are very different than interiors. With interiors you’re storytelling, you’re servicing a script. It’s much harder work doing interiors. It’s a long slog doing interior work. They’re very different. When I’ve answered this question in the past what I say is that if I only did covers I’d miss interiors, and if I only did interiors I’d miss doing covers. It’s always a balance.
Do you work digitally?
No, I still draw in ink and then scan it in for covers. But because I started painting physically rather than digitally, I have all kinds of scanned in paint textures and spatters and stuff like that so I’m always going for a more organic look to it. The film work is usually digital though, because it’s so much quicker to edit, you can easily move things around and change things out.
What’s your relationship like with frequent collaborator Andy Diggle?
I always love working with Andy. Again, in the way we were talking about how you can’t plan your style, you can’t plan the people you’re gonna work well with. It either works or it doesn’t, and I’ve been very, very lucky to be paired with great writers and I can say that me and Andy have something, there’s a chemistry there. It’s always a pleasure. He’s one of those writers that when you read a script you can just see it right away. I don’t have to do any deciphering or work out what he’s going for, I can just see exactly how I’m doing to do it.
What comic book work other than “Savage Wolverine” do you have coming up?
Working on a miniseries with writer/actor/comedian Peter Serafinowicz. I met him a couple months ago to lock down the story. He’s just started on “Guardians of the Galaxy,” he’s got a role in that, so he might be off in actor land for a few months. It’s one of those things where we first talked about it and announced it over a year ago at Mark Millar’s Kapow in the UK, but our schedules just haven’t worked out. That’ll probably come out through Image but we haven’t officially spoken to them or anything yet.
What is your dream character to draw?
Dredd’s my favorite character and that was my first work professionally. I started at the top in terms of my dream of doing it. I’ll never forget the day I knew my first issue was on sale. I was like 22, it was a summer day and it was in a summer special. I woke up in the morning and hopped on my BMX, ’cause the newsagent was at the bottom of the hill at the time. I was just cruising down the hill, warm air blowing on my face, knowing there was an issue of “2000 AD” with my “Dredd” in it. That was amazing.
You’re a musician yourself, so who have you been listening to lately when you draw?
I grew up listening to hip-hop, then I got in to other types of music when I grew up. Right now it’s Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, that kind of stuff.
You recently put out the creator-owned “Snapshot” with Andy Diggle, and worked with James Sime of Isotope Comics in San Francisco on a photo contest involving the book. Fans posted Instagram shots of themselves pretending to be murdered and the best photo won a sketch by you. How did the contest turn out?
We’ve known James a long time. He was a real supporter of “The Losers” back in the day; he’s such a kind of powerhouse of positivity. He wants to promote comics. The story’s set in San Francisco and the address of the Isotope, James’ comic shop, is the same address as the comic shop in the story.
Some of the contest photos were amazing. People had gone out in to the desert with full make-up kits, there were some really good entries. The winner got an original piece of art. It was a girl, I think, but we’ve not heard from her. We’ve still got this page for her. We’ve been meaning to get on Twitter and say, ‘If anybody knows so and so can you please let her know she’s won the contest?’ She obviously didn’t buy issue #4 [where we announced the winners].
What project — comics, covers, design or film — are you most proud of?
But I still feel like “The Losers” is what I’m most known for, perhaps, and I’m very proud of that. It was our first work at DC and we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. Looking back, I realize that we were both really, really hungry because that was our shot. If we got that wrong, the phone wasn’t gonna ring again. The fact that was our first work and we really pushed for something and got it. It’s had this longevity, too, with the movie and all that stuff. It’s gotta be “The Losers.”
“Savage Wolverine” #9, written and drawn by Jock, goes on sale September 18.
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