Just before Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises arrived in theaters, Mondo made big waves at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, selling out of virtually every poster it dropped and easily ranking amongst the most-visited booths on the SDCC’s exhibitor’s floor. With Batman-fever at an all-time high, it came as no surprise when Mondo’s Dark Knight Rises prints immediately became the company’s most sought-after posters from the Con.
Recently, Limited Paper had the chance to chat with Jock, the Mondo (and DC Comics) artist behind a few of those Dark Knight prints. Wanna know what he has to say about working with Mondo, the ever-increasing popularity of poster-collecting, and which print he’d make right now if given the license to do so? It’s all after the jump, folks.
There are many reasons that one might travel to Comic-Con—the exorbitantly-priced bottles of water, the chance to eat flavorless pizza three times a day for a week, the nearly-constant sensation that a sure-to-be-fatal riot might break out at any given moment, the comics—but this year Limited Paper traveled to southern California’s biggest geek-gathering for one reason alone: to cover the avalanche of poster drops due to take place on the Comic-Con exhibitor’s floor. We ended up coming home exhausted, broke, and a little stressed out…but for the most part, we saw (and reported on) everything we’d come to see.
And though we like to give Comic-Con a hard time here at Limited Paper, it’s also worth noting that the trip afforded us some truly priceless experiences (many of which didn’t feature spotty internet-connections or free-floating clouds of body odor): getting one-of-a-kind sketches from Kevin Tong, Jason Edmiston, and a number of other artists; meeting Olly Moss—one of the industry’s biggest superstars—and discovering that he’s one of the nicest guys you could ever shoot the shit with; and—perhaps most memorably—meeting both Dolph Lundgren and a dog riding a motorcycle in the Hard Rock Hotel lobby in the space of five minutes.
Another highlight came during the drop of Olly Moss’ Dark Knight Rises variant: having camped out near the Mondo booth to observe the entire drop from beginning to end, I found myself talking to a chatty British guy about twenty minutes into the drop. We stood there talking Mondo, posters, and Batman for a good fifteen minutes before I realized I was talking to Jock, the DC Comics (and sometimes Mondo artist) whose Dark Knight Rises poster had debuted at the booth the day before. Jock was endlessly upbeat, seemed genuinely engaged during conversation, and was delighted when I asked if he’d be willing to do a little Q&A for Limited Paper once the Con wrapped.
It’s taken a minute for us to get that interview co-ordinated, but the wait’s over. Below, you’ll find our exclusive interview with Jock, but before we get to that, let’s take a look at some of the highlights from that interview:
- Jock says his Dark Knight Rises piece originally started out as a trilogy piece, one that would cover all three of Nolan’s Bat-films. Regretfully, he “just couldn’t find a design that (he) was satisfied with”.
- Regarding the increasing popularity of poster-collecting, Jock says, “I love it! There seems to be a genuine appreciation for good art and having a platform to get stuff out to the fans is amazing. Even the big studios are getting behind it as legitimate marketing for the films.”
- Asked which film he’d create a poster for if licenses, time, and money were no issue, Jock names the last film I expected him to name. Upon further contemplation, however, it makes perfect sense: the film-in-question would be a great fit for this artist’s style (make it happen, Mondo!).
Alright, let’s get to it:
Question: You’ve only done a few pieces for Mondo, but tell me about your relationship with them. How do things play out between you guys? Are they usually the ones who contact you, or do you see films where you’ll say, “I need to make a poster based on what I’ve just seen”?
JOCK: In general they’ll contact me about an upcoming project, but when I was working on my first print for them I did give a list of old 70’s horror’s that I was into into and said “if you ever get the licence for any of these, please give me a shout!”. My next two pieces, ZOMBIE and LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, came from that list. I love working with Mondo – you get complete creative freedom and they’re massively supportive of what you do. It’s a brilliant way of working and it gets the best out of artists i think.
Batman’s on everyone’s mind right now: Mondo’s SDCC prints were a hit, Chris Nolan’s third Bat-film is wrecking shop at the box office, and– over at DC comics, “The New 52″ has re-introduced a few Batman titles/stories (like the “Court of Owls”) that fans are really digging. Why does this character continue to be so damn popular? Why do you think Batman’s popularity has risen while Superman’s seems to have waned?
JOCK: I think one of the reasons is that Batman as a character can support being handled in many, many different ways… I still love the Adam West 60’s Batman movie as much as Nolan’s interpretations, but just in a different way. Batman can handle a wide variety of tones. Someone like Superman is more limited, but I don’t think is any less enduring because of it. You just need to handle him in the right way. Superman should be a huge, larger than life story telling but someone like Batman can be very personal and grounded.
Can you talk a bit about your Dark Knight Rises print? We talked about this at the Con for a bit, but I know a lot of other people have been wondering about the difference between the reg and the variant, whether or not the likenesses had been cleared, and so on—seemed like a lot of misinformation was going around about this one.
JOCK: Well, I don’t know about the misinformation. I know at one point we didn’t know whether it was going to be a litho or screened, but I’m happy to say it’s a full screen print. The original plan was to actually do a ‘trilogy’ poster for the con, through Mondo, but I just couldn’t find a design that I was satisfied with. I tried maybe 20/25 different ideas for that, but none of them stuck. The ‘Villain ‘Variant’ print is actually what came together at the last minute – it all fell into place a little better than it had before – and we went with it. By that point we were going with just the Batman image for the Mondo release at SDCC. But it was great to have both available at the con. I don’t think there were any likeness issues. We were going to do the trilogy image through Mondo, and I never got any notes from WB, so there wasn’t any problem. It was the perfect outcome for me actually. I love that it’s the calmer Batman – centric piece we released at the show, and WB came up with the great scavenger hunt idea with the Bat Signals in the San Diego sky as the only way you could grab the Villain Variant… It’s made that print very desirable.
Has it ever happened that you’ve started a piece with a really great concept in mind, only to scrap the whole thing halfway-through? Has there ever been a piece that you’ve really tried to nail on several occasions and just found yourself unable to complete for some reason? I’m always interested to hear about “might’ve been”-style posters.
JOCK: Honestly, I have a ton of those for the Nolan Trilogy poster idea… I wanted it to be amazing to do the movies justice, but I just couldn’t find something I was satisfied with. It got to the week before the show and we still hadn’t finalised anything, and I honestly thought we wouldn’t make the deadline for SDCC. But Rob at Mondo and Steve at D+L screen printers did an amazing job in turning the prints around in time.
What do you make of the current popularity surrounding poster-collecting? Do you feel that it’s most often motivated by a genuine love of art, the attempt to make a quick buck, some combination of the two?
JOCK: I love it! There seems to be a genuine appreciation for good art and having a platform to get stuff out to the fans is amazing. Even the big studios are getting behind it as legitimate marketing for the films, which just helps to feed the scene. The whole limited availability is an issue that I can see both sides of – obviously I don’t like the guys that buy cheap from Mondo, only to flip the posters on Ebay at four times the price, but you’ll find that element in any walk of life. And for me, it’s tempered by the amazing people that buy the prints out of the love for the movies and the art. I just focus on that side of things, and I love that there’s a great appetite for that out there right now.
You wake up tomorrow and discover that copyright laws, licensing, and other forms of red tape re: posters no longer exist. You are free to create the one poster you’ve always wanted to create, no questions asked. Size, coloring, likeness rights– all of it is totally up to you. What do you create first?
JOCK: Ha. I’d love to do a CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST poster. That’s an amazing film… the sort of movie where you’re not quite the same as you were before you saw it. Besides that, I don’t know… I feel pretty lucky that I’m ticking a few boxes at the moment. We have some amazing things coming up that I’m proud to be part of.
And that, folks, was my time with Jock. If you’re not already doing so, you can follow Jock on Twitter via @Jock4twenty, or visit his website over here. An enormous thank-you is in order for Jock taking the time out of an already slam-packed schedule to talk to us: we can’t wait to see what the dude does next, but you can bet your candy-ass that we’ll be keeping you updated on all Mondo- and Jock-related shenanigans here at Limited Paper in the near future! As always, you can shoot Limited Paper an email at LimitedPaper@Gmail.com (if you’re an artist, a gallery, or just someone with a bit of poster-related gossip you wanna share, we wanna hear it!), or—if sending email’s ain’t your thing—you can sound off in the comments section below!