Chatting with Jock

A comics interview article by: Rafael Gaitan


Jock is an artist who started off on 2000 A.D. and Judge Dredd, although he is best known for his work with Andy Diggle on numerous projects, including The Losers. More recently, he has worked on Detective Comics with Greg Rucka and Scott Snyder and has served as the principle concept designer on Dredd 3D.


Rafael Gaitan for Comics Bulletin: You have a new project with Andy Diggle, Snapshot. Can you tell us a little more about that? It was announced a while back; how’s it coming along?

Jock: Yes, Snapshot is a small little thriller story that we’ve been talking about doing for years. And it’s published in Judge Dredd Magazine which is one of the sister magazines of 2000 A.D.

It’s a story of a kid that lives in San Francisco and works in a comic book store, and he finds an iPhone with pictures of murders on it in Golden Gate Park.

The phone rings just as he’s looking at it, and it’s the police looking for the phone who tell him to stay where he is, that there’s no problem and he hasn’t done anything wrong.

Long story short the police arrive to take the phone, and this detective guy arrives, and he’s with the police force. But he’s also a hit man, and he wants his phone back.

CB: That sounds amazing. It’s funny because you and Andy have had a pretty varied career together, working on The Losers and Green Arrow: Year One, and now this, which I believe you described as Hitchcockian.

It’s a nice change of pace, which brings me to a question—because you’ve done all of that together, are you more of a fan of the worldly superheroes, for example, the more realistic aspects of Year One or The Black Mirror or do you prefer the sort of outlandishness of the special ops stuff like, with The Losers where it’s real world stuff blown to an extreme?

Jock: That’s a really good question. We always try to keep things grounded to a degree, certainly, and I say that we do prefer doing stories that were set in the real world as it were. With The Losers we have fun. We always said it was realistic, but it was a “reality turned up to 11” kind of thing.

So Green Arrow: Year One, that was an opportunity for us to tell the kind of story we enjoy telling which, again, is a kind of grounded, action-based story, but we’re using Green Arrow’s origins so that we can do something that tied into DCU in a slightly different way.

So, I guess there’s always that grounded element, but it’s always fun to push things and try to make things a bit more extreme than something you or I would come across on a regular day, you know?

CB: Absolutely. Because this is a creator-owned project you’re working on instead of before, what kind of interaction do you have with Andy Diggle? I mean, obviously the artist/writer collaboration is a collaboration, but is it sort of compartmentalized with you two or does he seek your input on the scripting?

Jock: Well, it hasn’t really changed for this project. I’ve been very lucky having worked with some great writers. I work with them because they’re great writers and therefor the scripts are always really good.

So for sure, I’ll talk with Andy as to where the story might go, and what elements we might have in it. And he always says “let me know if there’s something you want to draw,” but I never really need to have much input. It was the same with Scott Snyder on Detective Comics; he was always saying “let me know what you think, do you have any ideas for stories?” and everything. But the thing is, these are great, great writers, and I trust them to do their job.

So, it’s always a very open relationship, we can be collaborative, but I find I don’t really need to be.

CB: That’s great. You just have this fantastic style where it’s simultaneously distinct but kinetic, so I reviewed a bunch of those Black Mirror issues for Comics Bulletin, and that’s what I singled out the most: how you’ve accomplished something that very few people have, especially when you put Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson in the Batman costume.

You just have this wonderful sense of kinteticism but also this sharp sense of detail. They’re comics, but you can see them flying off the page. Was there any particular medium that influenced you the most? One that you think was the most influential or guided you to where you are today?

Jock: That’s a good question as well and one I’m not really sure I know the answer to. I do love artwork that moves and has life to it, you know? Sometimes when things get bogged down into detail, they become a little bit dead and a little bit static, and something like a superhero comic certainly should fly off the page.

It’s the same with drawing action sequences as well which is one of the things I’ve learned working with Andy. You know, I didn’t set out to think “I’m going to draw a really good action sequence,” but if Andy’s going to write me an action sequence, then I’m going to make it the best action sequence you’ve seen.

So, my style isn’t, well, it’s not really considered. It’s just evolved to this point and I tend not to think about it.

I just draw it to a point where I feel I’m halfway happy with it, because you’re never quite completely happy, but there’s no specific kind of goals that I’m shooting for, you know?

CB: Of course, and since you do both a lot of covers and interiors, what would you say was the main process? Obviously with interiors you have your script writer, you kind of have an idea and start building a flow. But when you have a static image to work off of, is that any different?

Jock: They’re just completely different things to do, really. Drawing interior pages is about creating a whole; it’s not about one image, it’s about the way the comic is laid out. The way that you’re moving the reader’s eye around the page, the drama, the acting, all of those things, whereas for a cover, one thing I try to bring is a design sense. So I always like the covers to pop and grab you, but it should also tell a story as well and be intriguing.

They’re just very different disciplines, really.

CB: Absolutely. I think that’s everything I have for you in terms of questions so thanks again.

Jock: Thank you very much. Cheers.


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