When Scott Snyder was told he'd take over Detective Comics in November, he immediately wanted Jock on art.
In fact, he was so determined to get Jock to draw the comic that he skipped the usual chain of command and just called up the artist one day.
And it worked.
The new creative team is part of a wave of new talent taking over Batman titles this fall just as Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City and the DCU, where Dick Grayson is currently Batman. Although there's no word what will happen when the DCU has two Batmans -- nor which of them will star in all these new titles -- Jock and Snyder are saying that their Detective Comics run will focus on Batman as a detective.
Jock has been on Detective Comics before, although for only three recent issues with writer Greg Rucka. Now he begins a new long-term run with Snyder, bringing along his colorist, David Baron.
The artist, who inks his own pencils, is well-known for interior work he's done with writer Andy Diggle, on series like Green Arrow: Year One and The Losers. He's also an Eisner-nominated cover artist for The Losers and provides the haunting covers for the Vertigo series Scalped.
Newsarama spoke with both Jock and his writer to find out more about why they're working together and what they're hoping to accomplish with this run.
Newsarama: Scott, was Jock someone you specifically wanted for this run on Detective in particular?
Scott Snyder: Yes! I'm so glad they've finally announced this thing. I finally get to talk about it. Jock was my first choice from the beginning. There were a lot of great people I talked to about this, but he was always the person I was hoping to get.
I've been a fan of his for a long time, from his run on Green Arrow: Year One and The Losers, and his run on Detective, recently as well, with Greg Rucka. And I knew he liked American Vampire.
I didn't think he would be available, because I know he's working on a lot, including a project with Andy Diggle. But some friends of mine said they thought his schedule would open up.
So I just got his phone number over in England and called him up. And I told him that, if there is any chance he could do the run, I would absolutely be his number one advocate. I told him it would be a big arc with a lot of concepts running through the whole thing, not just short stand-alone stories, and he seemed to be really interested. He had wanted to do Batman for a while.
Nrama: Jock, did it surprise you when Scott called?
Jock: It did! He phoned the Friday before I was heading off to San Diego. I'd just finished working for the weekend, and I was flying out Sunday. And suddenly I was talking to him, and the project sounded really exciting, but he was talking about the next year of my life. So it really did surprise me.
It felt a bit like a roller coaster from when I got that phone call and when I flew out to San Diego and saw him a few times. And talking with Mike Marts, the editor, and agreeing to do the book. But it was great.
Nrama: What makes this run on Detective Comics different from the last time you were on the book? Because I know you needed some fill-in help last time.
Jock: Yeah, those three issues were part of an odd situation. I was asked to do Detective, and I was struggling from the get-go with the tight schedule they gave me on the book. At the time, I was working on concept art for Peter Berg's Battleship movie, and I was doing the new artwork for The Losers movie, and Scalped covers and a few other things. Detective, although it was very tempting, was going to be a tough call schedule-wise, and also it was following J.H. Williams, you know? Who had been doing a really critically acclaimed run. I didn't want to take on the book and have to rush it. Unfortunately, the schedule was really, really tough, and I had only two or three weeks to do an issue, at one point. So on the third book, we had to bring in Scott Kolins, who did terrific work, but it was a shame I couldn't finish the book myself.
But this is giving me a little more lead time. And talking with Scott, the hook that he's got for the story has me really excited to be the artist on it. It's something I've not seen before, which is an amazing thing, because Batman's been around for so long that it's hard to find something fresh and new. What Scott has in mind is what drew me toward it.
Snyder: I'm trying to give him the scripts way ahead of time. I have the first couple scripts already done, and I wanted that so we could talk through the story and so he could be very, very involved. And colorist Dave Baron as well. We've talked the whole thing through in San Diego.
Nrama: Scott, why is Jock ideal for the comic?
Snyder: His style is just so bold, and jagged and fresh. It will really fit the story we want to tell, because it's a story with a lot of fun twists and dark edges. And we're planning on doing something pretty big in our run. So I just thought his style, with all his dynamism and energy will fit with the twisted type of story we want to tell in our run.
And our run takes place completely in Gotham. So there's that urban darkness that he's perfect to do. I love his Gotham.
It's going to be a very hardcore, CSI, Detective story, from beginning to end, with a lot of focus on Batman as the world's greatest detective. Our story will be called "The Black Mirror." We have a lot of big plans. We're going to be bringing back some big characters, a big dark figure from the past, and we're going to be introducing some new characters.
So I met with Jock when we were in San Diego and told him a lot of the ideas I have about the comic and the back-up, since they're going to be complements. The back-up is a Commissioner Gordon story, and while Jock isn't drawing that, the stories go together. The arc of the whole run is one big story.
Nrama: Jock, why do you think your artwork in particular will go well with this story?
Jock: It's just a question of feelings, really. It just feels like the right thing. I know Scott's a great writer. I think, tonally, we'll be a really great match together. That's it really. It just felt like the right thing for me to do. I was really excited by what he had planned. It just clicked when I spoke to him.
I've been waiting to do a Batman story that will be collected into trade and can sit on a shelf. I've been waiting for the right story, and I'm excited about finally doing it.
Nrama: I assume you're inking your own stuff as usual?
Jock: Yeah. I've never had anyone ink me, to be honest. It would probably take me as long to pencil a page for someone else to ink, because I do a lot of the drawing in ink. My pencils are very loose, and very suggestive. The inking is where it all comes together, really.
Nrama: Jock, what's your approach to drawing Batman?
Jock: Scott's got a particular idea about how Batman should look. It's far more in the vein of Frank Quitely's Batman and Robin run. This is going to be a slightly different approach.
Nrama: What about your approach to Gotham City?
Jock: Scott's ideas about Gotham in this story are part of why I want to do the story so badly. I definitely think of my art as more gritty than some of the shiny superhero stuff that you see. And hopefully that will fit really well with what Scott has in mind.
Also, I'll be working with David Baron, the colorist who colored me on Green Arrow: Year One and the Batwoman story arc. With Batwoman in particular, he blew me away. Because of the time constraints, I had to do some different things as far as what I put in panels, trying to do something really bold, and his colors completely did that with me. He chose some really strong reds and some really atmospheric choices that I'm not sure many colorists would have made those choices.
I'm really hoping the three of us are going to do something really interesting together and something unique in the Batman universe.
Nrama: Do you feel like the level of collaboration on this book is a little extraordinary?
Jock: Yeah, because San Diego fell as such a good time. We got together three, four or five times. Had lunch together, had a couple beers, and really talked it through. Scott was very keen on collaboration being an important element. I think he had a really good experience with Rafael Albuquerque on American Vampire. He's very keen to make it a collaborative thing.
One of the things he asked was if we had any story ideas. And I like that, although I tend to work with writers I like, so I can trust them to write the scripts. But Scott is being totally open to ideas, and to changes and things like that. I'm getting the sense that it's going to be a very collaborative thing. So hopefully, that should make it stronger.
Snyder: They're always welcome to change up the layouts and styles, or change up the composition or the colors, if they think there's a better way to tell the story, or a more effective way. And similarly, they seem really open to suggestions from my end. So we're really trying to talk a lot and be collaborative. I'm a little worried about the overseas phone bill. [laughs] But we want to make sure this is the best Batman run we can do.
I do have a very collaborative relationship with Rafael, and I enjoy working that way. And I'm focusing this year on American Vampire and Detective, focusing all my energy on these two projects, so I want them to be something we can all be proud we've done.
Nrama: Jock, Scott had already told us that the villains you're creating are a little more gritty and less crazy, at least within the world of Gotham City. What's your approach to those characters?
Jock: We're working that out now. The whole project is still fresh, so a lot of these things are still being hashed out. I've started laying out the issue, but I'm actually supposed to speak with Scott about the design of the criminals. So my approach will be dependent on how Scott sees it.
But I see the story as being very much a detective and crime story. A more down-to-earth story. It may not be too zany and wacky, but at the same time, the story should be large and bombastic, so when those elements come in, it will be effective.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Jock, is there anything else you want to tell fans about your upcoming work on Detective Comics?
Jock: I'm really looking forward to this story. I tend to pick project to project. I enjoy a certain kind of story. And I feel like this one checks all the boxes. I'm really excited to be working with Scott and David. It's a really fresh, original idea, and I can't wait to get started drawing it properly.