When Daredevil premiered back in April of 2015, the first thing that fans immediately reacted to were the fantastic opening credits. Not only did they help to set the tone for the show, but they were also exceptionally stunning. So it wasn’t entirely surprising when Netflix released the opening credits for Jessica Jones ahead of the show’s premiere and they proved to be just as exceptional. And we can all thank the folks over at Imaginary Forces – including Creative Director Michelle Dougherty – and artist David Mack for that!
It’s no secret that Mack was involved with the opening credits. This was actually something that was revealed before the show even hit the air, or before Netflix went ahead and released the opening titles. But how he, along with the folks at Imaginary Forces, managed to come up with the idea? It’s something we haven’t really seen them talk about before now. In a recent interview with Art of the Title, the folks behind the fantastic opening titles for Jessica Jones reveal how the project came together and what instructions they were given by those involved with the show.
As it turns out, while it was clear that showrunner Melissa Rosenberg had a clear plan set out for the first season of Jessica Jones, she was entirely open when it came to the opening titles for the series. Those involved with the show were open to every and any idea those at Imaginary Forces were willing to throw at them.
So how did this project begin? What was the first meeting about the Jessica Jones sequence like?
Michelle: There was a quick initial briefing call where they wanted us to be a blank slate for fresh ideas. They were open to anything and everything.
Arisu: My first meeting was with Michelle, who I’ve worked with very closely for many years at Imaginary Forces. She asked me to design several directions for the pitch frames.
(David Mack working on the Jessica Jones opening titles; Image credit: Art of the Title.)
Of course, the folks at Imaginary Forces weren’t the only ones behind the fantaastic opening titles. Artist David Mack, who did fantastic work on the comic book covers for Alias, offered up his talents to the project, creating paintings (as shown above) for them to use in the titles. For Mack, who worked on the Alias covers and helped to define Jessica Jones, seeing the character lead her own television series was exciting.
David, you’ve got a lot of history with the Jessica Jones character and Marvel’s version of Hell’s Kitchen. Your cover art for Alias basically defined Jones and set the tone for her world. What was your reaction when you learned she’d be getting her own TV series?
David: I’m in Hell’s Kitchen right now. Literally in New York… and also story-wise on a Marvel story I’m writing that features Daredevil and the Punisher in Hell’s Kitchen.
I began my work for Marvel as a writer on Daredevil, and I was a co-collaborator on the original Jessica Jones comic book from her inception as an idea for a book and I did all the cover art for every issue and some interior work as well. I’d first learned about the idea for the TV series years ago when it was in the earliest stages. I was very optimistic about the idea, and very happy for my co-collaborators on the book and character, Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Gaydos. I had high hopes for it.
So, with a blank slate in front of them, and the excitement of the original cover artist for the Alias series, the folks at Imaginary Forces got to work developing various concepts for the show. But where did they draw their inspiration from? Interestingly enough, it was a combination of Hitchcock’s Rear Window and the city featured in the show itself, Hell’s Kitchen.
So Michelle, what was the original concept for the title sequence and how was it developed?
Michelle: I have always loved Hitchcock’s Rear Window. I would say it’s one of my top five. I remember being fascinated by the concept of constructing a story through bits and pieces of information. Jessica Jones uses her camera and is also a private investigator so a voyeuristic approach seemed natural. Joan Lau headed the design for this concept. It was photo-real, rich and cinematic.
Michelle: I also thought about using the city as a character — Hell’s Kitchen. I remember hearing that the Avengers are the superheroes you see in the sky and down on the ground were the Defenders. The light of the city, the dark spaces, the grit were all part of the place she investigates. I wanted this concept to be painterly in style and knew just the designer to do this: Arisu. She has an amazing sensibility and is fierce with the brush. I’m always moved by her work and she didn’t disappoint.
Arisu: Since there are so many painterly sequences already, we wanted this one to have a more modern, abstract look while also embracing the spirit of David Mack’s watercolour paintings from the original Jessica Jones comic books.
We based the concept off of Jessica’s PTSD and alcoholism, her blurry, unreliable point of view, and translated that visually using paint strokes that smear and obfuscate the scenes. We wanted her visions and memories to be triggered by light, and floating in black negative space. So the scenes would appear only in small sections of the frame, either blocked by a foreground element or contained inside of a silhouetted framing device.
So, how did David Mack, who provided paintings for the credits, become involved in the title process for Jessica Jones anyway? According to Mack, it all started with an e-mail from Joe Quesada.
David, your art obviously had a big impact on the look and feel of the title sequence, but how did you actually become involved in the production?
David: I received an email from Joe Quesada marked “URGENT” and asking me to call him immediately. He explained that they were hoping to have me work on the title sequence.
He’s creative director of the Marvel TV division now. He was the person who originally hired me for Marvel as a writer on Daredevil back in 1998. At that time Joe was drawing Daredevil and he hired me to take over writing after director Kevin Smith’s run on the character. During the course of working on Daredevil together, Joe became editor-in-chief of Marvel. And the Jessica Jones comic and character were created soon after that by my collaborator Brian Michael Bendis, who asked me to work on the book from its inception.
While Jessica Jones has been renewed for a second season, it’s still unclear when the second season will actually go into production. After all, once Iron Fist – which is next in line to film – finishes production on its first season, the focus will be shifted to The Defenders, the mini-series that will see our four heroes from Hell’s Kitchen come together as a team. It’s more than likely that Jessica Jones, as well as any possible second seasons for both Luke Cage and Iron Fist won’t go into production until after The Defenders. And while that’s unfortunate, we at least still have the excellent first season we can re-watch on Netflix, as well as the first – and quickly approaching second – season of Daredevil that we can watch repeatedly in the meantime!
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Source: Art of the Title.