Several of Jock's cover designsLast month writer Jonathan Hickman finally revealed the concept and line-up of his second Avengers series, New Avengers, debuting in January as part of the Marvel NOW! relaunch initiative.
Essentially a team of Marvel heavy hitters and mostly members of the Marvel Universe star chamber/keepers-of-the-Infinity-Gems the Illuminati, images of the team are still scant now a month after the series was announced. They few out there, Newsarama has 'em.
We recently spoke with artist Jock, about a series of covers he’s designed for the debut of New Avengers.
Jock gives us a little insight into the hierarchy of the team and more than anything, just gives us his take the creation of some cool, striking art.
Newsarama: Jock, in a press event last week, Jonathan Hickman revealed the line-up to New Avengers (more on that later) and even if he hadn’t, you can make out most of the characters on the covers we’ve seen anyway.So from an artist’s standpoint, what’s the concept … the idea … behind making them mostly shadowed, blacked-out figures?
Jock: Honestly? I just like drawing heavily shadowed figures - there's no conspiracy... I wanted the first shot to be dark, brooding and slightly enigmatic, hence the silhouetted design.
Nrama: The Black Panther seems to play prominently in your covers. Was this a choice dictated by Jonathan and [editor] Tom Brevoort for a story reason, or did you just wind up gravitating towards him yourself?
Jock: Black Panther is leading the team, so it was a natural choice for him to be at the forefront of the image. I had an earlier version where Iron Man was front-and-center, but it was rightly pointed out that might be confusing. So it's essentially a story-led decision, making it clear what the dynamics of our new team are.
Nrama: On two of the covers we’ve seen the characters you can make out seem to be facing forward, while the Black Panther seems to be turning his head looking toward the reader? Do we see that correctly?
Jock: Yes. Design wise, I wanted to show Black Panther as the leader, so having him stand 'against the flow' was one way of doing this. I love using subtle design ideas like that, things that you might not take in directly, but you'll sense in the design.
Nrama: The characters standing around in a field/exterior, somewhat randomly - this feels like a familiar artistic conceit – movie/TV promo posters maybe? Did you have a particular inspiration for that design? Do you know the origins of the concept?
Jock: I always enjoy line up images... the challenge here was to make it interesting - so I tried to push the atmosphere of the piece rather than the details. I guess I do take influences from movie posters and the like, and there is some of that here. But, this is a Marvel comic, so there'll be plenty of big, bold action-led covers coming up too!
Nrama: Why does the logo play so prominently in most of these images? Who brought that element to the table and why?
Jock: When Tom first approached me about doing the covers, he mentioned he'd like to incorporate the logo in the art if it helps the design, and this is something I’ve loved doing ever since The Losers back in the day at Vertigo. The idea of strong, design-led imagery but also retaining the bold sense of our heroes really appealed to me. Also, it's a great logo! it's a shame to just slap it at the top... much more interesting to play around with it.
Nrama: Jonathan revealed Captain America is on the team, along with Iron Man, Black Panther, Black Bolt, Namor, Mr. Fantastic, the Beast, and Dr. Strange, but we can’t make him out in the images. There seems to be seven figures consistently and Cap isn’t one of them.
That may be more a question for Jonathan or Tom, but we're gonna ask anyway, why isn’t Cap in the images?
Jock: That was an editorial note to not feature him prominently, and I ended up not using him at all. I’d love to get him in there though - the cover I’m currently sketching has him featured, and I’m trying to figure out the best way to utilize him.
Nrama: Jock, most comic book readers probably understand the process of creating a cover starts with email or conversations from the writer/editor explaining the concept of the series. Can you tell us from your perspective what you understand the concept of New Avengers to be?
Jock: Well, I tend to think of things from the artistic standpoint, so New Avengers to me is an opportunity to produce striking imagery, based on some classic, iconic characters... and hopefully put a fresh spin on the look of a group book.Jonathan has an amazing story lined up, and getting the nuts and bolts of that working while hitting strong cover designs is going to be a brilliant challenge.
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