Confession time, folks: One of my favorite movies of the year wasn't actually based on a comic book. It was, however, based on creatures from Norse mythology and a guy who wrangles them. (No, it has nothing to do with Thor. He's got his own movie.)
Writer/director André Øvredal's "The Troll Hunter" is a documentary-style film about a group of college students who encounter a mysterious loner tasked with managing the local population of trolls and keeping their existence a secret. It's a great little film, but here's the best part: "Troll Hunter" distributor Magnet Releasing has recruited yet another comic book artist to create a special poster for the film, just like they did with films like "Black Death," "Monsters," and "Survival of the Dead."
This time around, it's "Orc Stain" creator James Stokoe, who not only created a great poster for "The Troll Hunter," but also spoke with me about the process and revealed one of his massively detailed early drafts of the image.
MTV NEWS: So how did you first approach the process of making the "Troll Hunter" poster? Were you able to see the movie ahead of time?
JAMES STOKOE: Yeah, they sent it to me online and to be honest, I hadn't heard about it before. But it was really, really good. It's good to get a job like that and be impressed with the thing you're supposed to draw, too.
MTV: So how did you settle on this particular image?
STOKOE: There were a couple of standout moments in the movie that I keyed on. There's a scene where the main character is on a bridge and he's wearing armor and has to get a blood sample out of a troll. You want to take certain scenes that stand out to you and put that on the poster, but kind of broaden it a bit and make it a little more flashy. I looked at a lot of other movie posters, too. I looked at a bunch of Drew Struzan stuff, honestly. I have a big poster of "Big Trouble In Little China" on my wall.
MTV: This must have been familiar ground for you, though. The subject matter doesn't seem that far from what you're drawing in "Orc Stain"...
STOKOE: Well, the trolls in "Troll Hunter" are based a lot more off the old folktale trolls, with the big noses and stuff like that. They sent me a lot of reference for that and it was fun doing something more classical than what I do on Orc Stain, which is stuff I just come up with on the fly.
MTV: Well, there's certainly a lot of color in the poster. With art as detailed as yours, how do you decide on the best use of color?
STOKOE: They actually sent me photos of moss growing on trees and the kind of stuff that the production department in the movie used. I sort of eyedrop-tooled that, and just took that right off the reference material and put it on the poster. I kind of wanted to make it look more forest-like and more natural than Orc Stain, which uses super-bright, garish colors all the time. I wanted to make a little more natural than I usually do.
MTV: Your original draft is a much wider image than what they cropped for the poster...
STOKOE: Actually, I asked them to do a widescreen one and they really wanted to do that.
[Ed. Note: Magnet later confirmed that there will be a widescreen version of the poster available in the future.]
MTV: Well, more than anything else, this seems like a fun image to create. Was it fun?
STOKOE: Yeah, definitely. I don't think I would draw it that big if I wasn't having fun. The original art is four feet long and three feet tall. I wanted to get a lot into it. It's one of the best jobs I've ever had, really.
MTV: Was this your only draft of the poster, or did you have some other designs that you considered?
STOKOE: I did one draft before. It was a lot different. It was sort of a flat angle with the Troll Hunter on one side and a bunch of trolls running at him from the other side. That spurred me on to do the widescreen thing, so I could have more trolls on the left side running at him. It looked like a big clusterf--- of trolls about to overwhelm him. Then they recommended that I do it at a different angle, and it turned out a lot better, in my opinion.
You can check out more of James Stokoe's "Troll Hunter" art below, and you can watch "The Troll Hunter" now on Video On Demand. Head over to Magnet Pictures official website for more information about how to see it: http://www.magpictures.com/ondemand/.
"The Troll Hunter" is available now Video On Demand, and will hit theaters June 10. For more information, head over to www.trollhunterfilm.com.