CM Punk gets illustrated by comic artist for new T-shirt
CM Punk is a self-proclaimed "wrestling god." Jill Thompson is a multiple Eisner-Award winning comic book artist and writer. Together, they've created one of the coolest WWE shirts ever, and have given the WWE Universe a glimpse at what The Best in the World might look like as a comic book character.
Known for her work on the seminal “Sandman” series from DC Comics and her creator-owned title, “Scary Godmother,” Thompson is also a full-fledged member of the WWE Universe, and can often be found tweeting during the latest episodes of Raw. Recently, Jill was approached by Punk to design a shirt for The Second City Saint to wear at WrestleMania where he faced off against The Undertaker. Jill’s no stranger to designing gear for Superstars, as she has previously worked with Daniel Bryan to help the submission specialist get his look just right.
WWE.com spoke with Thompson about the new shirt, the design process and what it was like to work with CM Punk.
WWE.COM: What was it like seeing CM Punk wear your T-shirt out on The Grandest Stage of Them All?
JILL THOMPSON:That high-pitched wail you may have heard that made all the dogs bark? That would have been me, in Chicago, watching WrestleMania, totally excited that my illustration was on television.
WWE.COM: What was the genesis of the T-shirt?
THOMPSON: [Punk] approached me to do the shirt. I happened to be at Toy Fair, and I happened to be upstairs in the Mattel event room, and they were showing WWE action figures. It was really cool because I was in there, and then Punk texted me and just asked me if I wanted to do his new shirt design. So I sent him a picture of me on the event floor, which he laughed at, and I asked him what kind of idea he had, and he said, “I want it to be the coolest shirt ever.”
And that was about all the direction he gave me, but I did start peppering him with questions about what he was looking for. He wanted it to be different than any other shirt he’d had previously, which is always a good idea. I asked about types of themes, and I’d send him doodles and he’d tell me if he wanted something.
I work really well from someone’s character, so I was interested in seeing where he was going. He seemed to be getting more and more arrogant and I kind of wanted to play up, “he’s the best in the world,” and in that ring, he’s “god.” So I was looking to do something more religious in its design.
I wanted to keep it colorful and play off the “wrestling god” theme. It also ties in really well to Punk’s Second City Saint moniker.
WWE.COM: Is the original art done in watercolor?
THOMPSON: Yes, it’s done in watercolor. I’m not a digital artist at all, so it was all done by hand on a piece of illustration board.
WWE.COM: How long did it take from design to completion?
THOMPSON: Once it’s drawn out, it takes me about 14 hours or so to complete an illustration. I was a little slower on this one because I was afraid I would get it wrong. I didn’t want to make a mistake, because I can’t just click “undo.” I’d have to start over.
I painted the Chicago stars and it was not perfect … and I don’t use Photoshop.
WWE.COM: Is this the same style you use in your comics work?
THOMPSON: Pretty much everything I do is all watercolor. When I do my own comics, I sometimes do black and white illustrations; I’m working on a project like that at the moment, along with some other painted stuff. When I write and illustrate my own work, it’s all watercolor.
The stuff I’ve done for Daniel Bryan was in watercolor.
WWE.COM: Speaking of Daniel Bryan, are you designing anything else for him, or for any other WWE Superstars, for that matter?
THOMPSON: Daniel’s the only one so far. He hasn’t asked for anything new so far, but whenever he does, I’m always ready. He’s easy to work for because he always has an idea in mind. Last year around WrestleMania time, he said he wanted something along the lines of a “Tully Blanchard robe.”
I designed several versions — something that was just a little bit gaudy, then something that was medium gaudy, then something that was full-on Ric Flair, and he chose that one, which was really exciting to see.
WWE.COM: Are there any other Superstars or Divas you’d like to design a shirt or even ring gear for?
THOMPSON: Oh, my gosh. I could make a closet full of shirts for Punk — that would be easy. I really like Damien Sandow, but I think his gear is perfect for him. As far as the Divas go, I’m trying to think of who could use some pizzazz. AJ Lee has some great gear. I love her gear.
With the Divas gear, I’m always wondering how do you get something so small, yet so full of glitz and design. I would love to design a bunch of boots for Superstars and Divas.
I would love to design something for Kane, actually. Cool masks for Kane.
WWE.COM: What did you think of Punk/Undertaker at WrestleMania?
THOMPSON: He’s fantastic. The Undertaker is always incredible to watch. I loved Punk’s gear — the fact that it was Undertaker’s colors. He does such great mocking of whoever he’s facing. I enjoy the theatrics of it, and all of the hard work that he puts in.
It was my favorite match of the night.
A few weeks ago, Punk/John Cena on Raw was exceptional. That was a WrestleMania match. It was incredible.
Speaking of The Undertaker, the first WWE Live Event I went to was Unforgiven, and it was Kane vs. The Undertaker. We had third row seats, and you could feel the heat of the pyro.
WWE.COM: Finally, there was some talk of a possible comic collaboration with Punk. Is that still a possibility?
THOMPSON: There’s always a possibility. Whenever he wants to write something, I will be there to draw it for him.
You can check out more of Jill’s amazing work, like “Scary Godmother” and “Beasts of Burden,” both available now from Dark Horse Comics! Also be sure to visit Cadence Comic Art to purchase Jill’s original artwork. And you can follow Jill’s Twitter @thejillthompson … where there’s always plenty of WWE talk! And be sure to head over to WWE Shop to order the new Punk shirt!