Award-winning comic book creator Jock has had a huge impact on the DC Universe. Whether it be black mirror, Green arrow: first year, or countless memorable covers, the artist has more than earned his reputation as a fan-favorite designer. Recently, Jock returned to the publisher to write, draw and color in an all-new Black Label story for the world’s greatest detective: Batman: A Dark Knight. When a prisoner transport goes awry and the power goes out in Gotham, the Caped Crusader must face overwhelming odds as he attempts to transport the villain on foot from side to side of the city while everyone pulls it.
With the hardcover collection of Batman: A Dark Knight on sale now – just in time for Batman Day on September 17 – CBR spoke to Jock about writing, illustrating and coloring this adventure. Additionally, Jock comments on where his career is headed and if there’s any hope for a Batman and Judge Dredd crossover.
RBC: Batman: A Dark Knight It’s quite an adventure, and I’m sure the creative process was as well since you wrote, illustrated and colored the comic. How does it feel to finally have the complete Collected Edition out there?
Jack: It was a ride, one hundred percent. It was a new thing for me to do something on this scale with all of this on my shoulders. It was challenging, exciting and a lot of hard work. So it’s amazing to see the beautifully assembled hardcover collection in my hands, the highlight of all this time. I’m very proud, to be honest!
How much has the story evolved and changed from the original pitch throughout the process of crafting these three issues?
Honestly, not that much. I wrote a simplified version of the three-act story for DC, knowing it would break down well in the three-issue format, and the bones of the story are basically there. I made a few tweaks as the story grew from that first breakdown, but nothing major.
Without surprise, A dark knight is full of breathtaking works of art. What were your favorite moments to draw? And what were some of your favorites to color?
Thanks! I had a few large splash pages that I wanted to hit hard with, especially in issue 1. With the larger page size of the Black Label format, I really enjoyed drawing them. One, in particular, is a shot from the chase sequence in issue #1 where Batman is rooftop-jumping against a monumental Gotham City Hall. This page stayed very close to my original sketch but grew in size as I worked on the final page. The larger Black Label art size really suited my way of inking, so I had plenty of wiggle room. Coincidentally, this was also the first colored page I locked down, which also set the tone for the rest of the series.
From the title itself to the majority of the story direction, it’s easy to assume A dark knight is a “dark and gritty” comic. But it ultimately turns out to be a story of hope, our ability to endure, change and move on after reaching our lowest points and starting a new day with the sun shining down on us. Talk about the importance of this theme when building this Black Label story and why you went in this direction.
That’s a great question because that’s exactly what I was looking for! I guess my art is often referred to as “dark and gritty”, but to me that’s just the veil. I always try to have my heart in it. With A dark knight, combining both writing and drawing gave me the opportunity to bring those exact themes you mention to the story. Guess I tried to sneak in a wholesome story about relationships, family, and support under the guise of a propulsive, dark, hard-hitting Batman tale!
Killer Croc was terrifying, man. Batman has such a big rogues gallery, so talk about the decision to go with “Croc” in this third issue and if you’ve been tempted to use other famous enemies from Batman’s world.
Thanks! Yes, I was not convinced [that] I wanted to use one of the rogue galleries here, and [I] only made the decision when I was drawing issue 2 to include Croc. I had it as a possibility during that first story breakdown for DC, but I didn’t pull the trigger until I was deeply drawing. I wanted the story to feel very street level so I wasn’t sure about including larger than life characters beyond our new EMP villain But once Batman found himself in the sewers, that seemed appropriate. I could still keep the action grounded, but I had to use Croc as a massive brute and maintain the mood of the story. He was very fun to draw.
When I think of Jock and Batman, the exceptional black mirror immediately comes to mind. Has your process as an artist changed at all since working on this fan-favorite comic, or has it stayed the same?
Certainly no conscious change, but I guess over the last 10 years I hope [that] I continued to develop. In fact with A dark knight, the larger page size makes a significant difference. This larger size gave me room to push the scope of art [and] make it a little wider. I don’t think I’ll be going back to the traditional 11×17 comic book size in the future. I loved the extra bedroom.
Let’s talk about Clem Robins lettering. What was this collaborative process like and how do you think the lettering complemented your work?
I loved having Clem on this book. He was my first scholar in DC on Losersand to me its lettering sums up the feel of all the Vertigo titles I loved at the time like Preacher, hellblazer, and 100 balls. I love the feel of his work. When he sends me his lettering, the page is always prettier, and it’s worth its weight in gold.
Did you keep tabs on how critics and fans reacted to each issue, and if so, how did you feel? Did they comment on the very things you were hoping to accomplish, or did you feel like some things about the story were overlooked?
I try not to pay too much attention to the reviews, but I have to admit that on this one I read a lot of comments simply because I invested so much in the book. It got such great reviews – I really didn’t expect that, so it was incredibly encouraging.
In five words or less, promote the Batman: A Dark Knight hard cover.
Five words or less? Be mistaken…. “A dark knight on sale now”??! Wait, is “on sale” two words? Shit.
So when are you releasing a new Batman/Judge Dredd comic?
Ha. Do you have moles inside? Recently 2000AD contacted me to gauge my interest in doing just that. Who knows if anything will come of it, but you heard it here first.
Thanks for your time, Jock! Anything else you would like to say to all comic book readers? And can you talk about the rest of your career?
Just a huge thank you for all the kind messages of support with the book – it was truly a labor of love so it means the world to me. The next step in comic books is a new short Wytchs story with Scott Snyder, and I’m talking with DC about the possibility of a sequel to A dark knight — Watch this place!
Batman: One Dark Knight HC is on sale now and Batman Day is September 17.