MONDOCON 2016: The Art of Jock Panel

Last year’s Jock panel went down so well at MondoCon, they decided to do it again! This time, the focus was on his new book. The Art of Jock. Compiling sketches, prints, concept work and more from his career, the beautiful tome served as a launching pad to discuss Jock’s career, differing approach to comics/posts, his alternate life with The Cure and absolutely nothing about Star Wars Episode VIII.

The panel brought together Jock and Will Dennis, his editor since they first came together at Vertigo comics. Dennis wrote the book on Jock, literally. A piece of publishing that spans his career from the beginning to now.

The Art of Jock Panel
The Art of Jock panel returns to MondoCon, this time focusing his book of the same name. Mark Simpson, known by his pen name, Jock, is an internationally recognized three-time New York Times best-selling artist and Eisner Award nominee. Over the last two decades, Jock has become one of the most distinguished illustrators in comics, with credits that include titles with DC Comics/Vertigo (The Losers, Batman: The Black Mirror, Green Arrow: Year One), Marvel (Savage Wolverine, Daredevil), and his runaway success, Wytches (co-created with Scott Snyder for Image Comics). In the movie world, Jock’s concept art has defined the look of major films such as Dredd, Ex Machina, and Star Wars Episode VIII.

Made in collaboration between Mondo and Insight Editions, The Art of Jock delves into the prolific artist’s catalog, showcasing not only the best of his sketches and published images. Jock will be talking about the inner workings of his creative process and this panel will provide a look into the mind and method of one of the most critically acclaimed illustrators working today. Following the panel there will be a book signing.

 

  • While featuring his early work (mostly from 2000 AD), they didn’t want to overload readers with too much of it, wanting “as nice a looking book as possible”. After the laughs subsided, Jock remarked his earlier work had more of a “handpainted feel” rather than his look now. It was also subject matter more familiar to UK audiences than US so they kept it at a minimum.
  • Dennis first encountered Jock when looking for artists for The Losers series. Jock sent in 5 sketches and Vertigo/Dennis ended up using 4 of them. The image below shows the cover that got him the gig, the piece marking the first digital image Jock would create.

 

  • Recanting the story of how Jock came to start collaborating with Alex Garland, it was revealed it began with working on a aborted Dune adaptation with Peter Berg, who contributed the foreword for the book. After 6 weeks concept work, Jock put up some images of Judge Dredd, one in particular showing a riot scene with flames behind the Judge. A number of outlets ran it as official art, a thing that horrified Jock. He was called in by producers and his work, storyboarding the film, was expanded after Garland saw the images.
  • This work with Garland led to Ex Machina. Jock had opinions from Garland every day on the concept work but his advice was more what Ava “shouldn’t look like” rather than should. He cited the Will Smith movie AI (probably meaning I Robot) as a “very good example of what not to do”. It was Garland that suggested the “parts missing” aesthetic, with regards to Ava’s skin.
  • Jock reiterated that he has done some work for Garland’s upcoming feature, Annihilation.

 

  • Asked what the difference was between drawing comics and posters, Jock replied that it’s a difference in “temperament and speed” and that “drawing a comic book is more of a grind”. A 22 page comic book usually needs to be completed within 25 days so you not only need to crank out a page a day, but it has to be top quality. A “rhythm” or “sense of flow” is needed. He finds concept work and posters to be calmer and bigger in scope, more about “getting an idea across”.
  • Will Dennis commented that “comic covers serve as the foundation for Jock’s career” and that many artists just can’t handle the grind of that industry. He pointed out many comics start and lose a writer within 3 or 4 issues as they don’t understand the commitment.
  • Jock’s favorite character to draw is Batman, his favorite character overall is Judge Dredd, his favorite comic he’s worked on was The Losers because it’s “the reason I’m sitting here now”.
  • Asked what his favorite comic cover was, Jock cited the one below. Saying he had a call from DC in urgent need of a cover that day. He did the sketch in 45 minutes and took another 45 to color it.

 

  • The slide below was put up as something of a demonstration of Jock’s process. Starting with a pen or sharpie, he does a rough draft. Followed up by a more detailed version version using a special, finer pen before finishing off the coloring

 

  • As mentioned in our recap from last year, Jock very nearly had a different career altogether. He tried out for The Cure as a drummer. MondoCon had a special edition of The Art of Jock for sale and included in it, as a print, is the rejection letter he received from The Cure. You can see this below.

The Art of Jock is available from Amazon and all bookstores with good taste now.

The Art of Jock – MondoCon Edition
Mondo, in partnership with Insight Editions, is releasing a Mondo Exclusive version of The Art of Jock, a book celebrating the uniquely dynamic work of the acclaimed artist. In addition to the book, the Mondo Exclusive version includes four 9″x9″ letterpress prints, one 8″x12″ screen print, and a card signed by Jock, all packaged in a stunning hard-shell slipcase. The Mondo Exclusive version is limited to just 500 copies and will be available at MondoCon for $175. Additionally, 5 random copies of the book will include a full original, cover-quality pen & ink illustration by Jock, transforming the stunning collector’s item into a one-of-a-kind piece of art.

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the author

Originally harkening from the British Isles, Jon was exiled to Texas back in 2007 to help conceal his identity as a love child of the Queen. Jon has both embraced and been embraced by the wonderful city of Austin, a place which has only further enhanced his interest in film. A regular at SXSW and Fantastic Fest, Jon is also a member of the Austin Film Critics Association and Online Film Critics Society. By day he is a researcher at UT Austin but he also has an involvement with (and deep appreciation for) the local brewing industry. In short, his passions are cinema, science, craft beer and writing about himself in the third person. Twitter: @Texas_Jon