It’s no stroke of luck that Jock’s influence that been steadily growing over the past twenty years, his body of work has continued to excel and excite and particularly in the continuing crossover world of graphic novels and movies. The Art of Jock is an instant classic and tribute to his unique talents that offers to fans a chance to see the sheer scale of his achievements in one collection and it’s presented quite beautifully.
Although better known by his pen name Jock, real name Mark Simpson, he’s an internationally recognised three-time New York Times best-selling artist and Eisner Award nominee, the latter is quintessentially the comic book version of the Oscars. Along the way, he’s earned the respect of colleagues from across the DC/Marvel divide with work on titles that includes Daredevil, The Losers, and Batman: The Black Mirror plus influential artistry with Judge Dredd and the hugely successful Wytches, which was co-created for Image with Scott Snyder.
It’s not just his comic book world ‘The Art Of’ celebrates because Jock has also been a prominent source of style and design on film as well. He worked with Alex Garland on plans for the undeniably believable Ava in Ex Machina and also for Dredd, which finally brought to life the 2000AD cult-character in a much tougher and accurate way. Jock also worked with Peter Berg for Battleship and the director provides a foreword for the huge book, plus they worked together on the big-screen adaptation of The Losers, a graphic novel co-created by the artist with Andy Diggle.
The coffee-table sized art book itself is impressively created. It doesn’t just celebrate and share his talents but also offers thoughts directly from Jock to give the reader an insight into the process of how the piece of work was constructed. Split into four specific sections, you get a good taste of each piece he’s been involved with from beginnings; right through his comic work, onto his seminal work with Mondo (the now super famous and iconic pop culture poster and art company) and also his delve into the movie world.
I’m familiar with his early work with 2000AD, and very specifically Judge Dredd, but it was also really interesting to be reminded of the spread of art across different genres and titles. The Losers was a great success back in 2004 and it basically gave him (and Andy Diggle) a chance to expand their worlds and share those ideas on a bigger scale. I’ve also been a huge fan of his Batman work and The Black Mirror was undoubtedly Jock’s chance to shine in a huge market and he did it effortlessly, plus there’s also that Joker cover from Detective Comics #880 which was almost immediately set in the classic cover psyche.
The book adds extra connection with fold out poster sections, plastic acetate/tracing paper ‘flip’ pages to show a work in progress, the connection between colour and sketch, and full page spreads of his art which help highlight the impact and style. Check out The Thing, his Shaun of the Dead Mondo team-up and that ever-stunning Halloween poster that equally haunts my dreams and inspires, to name just a few.
Written by Will Dennis, the former editor of Vertigo and DC Entertainment, we take in words from Scott Snyder, Jim Lee, Alex Garland, and Stephen King. If you’re a fan of Jock’s work, or know someone who’ll love some skilful artistic inspiration, you can’t go far wrong with this one, it’s an absolute beauty.