The Last Of Our Sanity

when you thought PS4 had taken the horrific details to the maximum, artist and body painter Jon Wilks brings Naughty Dog’s fungal apocalypse to life .
 If these images don’t make the pit of your stomach crumple like an empty mushroom bag from the supermarket, might we suggest a trip to the doctors for a Cordyceps test or two? This alL too close to real cosplay is thanks (for want of a better word) to artist and all round fun guy Jon Wilks from Bristol, who had a passion for The Last Of Us from the moment he saw it.

“I saw the very first trailer years ago and fell in love with the concept,” Wilks tells us. “I knew straight away that I wanted to make some art in support of the game,” he says. “I’m a massive gamer but I didn’t own a PS3. I was so confident that The Last Of Us would be  an amazing game that I bought a PS3 the week before the game came out just so I could play it. It was the right decision, although I couldn’t afford to eat for a while afterwards.”

Sporting the rather, er, distinctive symptoms of clicker-dom, model emma Franks’ mask was the most important part of Wilks’ costume construction, and he wanted it to be as perfect as hideous deformities could get. “I like to take shortcuts when it comes to art and years ago I used Polyfilla foam to carve shapes with,” he explains. “It was the perfect material to use for the mask. It hardens very fast but you can shape it as it dries. The moulding window is  very tight but after a couple of attempts I got the shapes I wanted.”

(As a ‘don’t try this at home’ disclaimer, Polyfilla foam can be a dangerous material to work with, but Wilks has excellent safety instructions on his technique on his Deviant Art page.)

Clicker bait
Things didn't all go quite to plan on the day though, as a busy schedule meant that Wilks hadn't even managed to see if it would fit. “The mask was the last thing I made and only really took a week to mould and paint,” he tells us. “Unfortunately, emma and myself are both in full-time employment and we didn't get a chance to do a test fitting before the big day, so I had to wing it and get the mask to fit around her face on-site. but with some elastic, hair clips and some latex glue we got it to work.” Shiv crafter Joel would surely be proud.

Despite the knowledge that there’s just elastic and a real live human under there, it’s somewhat unnerving to know that Wilks didn’t think to add any eyeholes so, just like the clickers themselves, his model was blind for the entirety of the photo shoot.

“Luckily emma is a good friend of mine and we have worked on body paint shoots together. She is incredibly patient and trusts me greatly which was lucky because once the mask went on she couldn’t see a thing. I had to lead her around an abandoned mental hospital until we had finished the shoot!” he explains.

“To get her all dressed up and painted it took around two hours. It was a cold day so I am eternally grateful to emma for modelling for me.”

Bricking it
The spread of the infection across the body meant that Wilks got to experiment with different materials to achieve that desirable ‘I’m actually turning into a plant’ effect down emma’s arm.

“There is a Naughty Dog video documentary called Hush and on it one of their artists shows images of real diseased skin that inspired them,” Wilks explains. “The images looked just like tree bark which made perfect sense for my infected model. I pulled some dead tree bark, cut it to shape and attached it to emma with latex glue and finished blending it in with face paints.”

It also transpires that the Devil wears Primark, as that’s where Wilks shopped for the ultimate clicker couture. “I don’t make a lot of money so all of my art is made from cheap and easy to obtain materials,” he says. “I picked a bright plain dress because I knew I would be ripping it up and dying it to age it, as you would for any zombie-esque costume. I didn’t want to do jeans and a t-shirt as it’s a boring default zombie costume. Plus, a single dress is cheaper and sexier.”

infection control
Not content with his first attempt, Wilks is on a quest to fill us with even more terror with another more dramatic The Last Of Us shoot. “I’m working on one at the moment. Although I really like the clicker I made there’s still a lot I’m unhappy with and really want to do the ultimate clicker cosplay,” he says. “As a Last Of Us movie was confirmed, I was hoping that a Hollywood big-wig would see my images and invite me to the film set and let me make-up one of their movie models for the film. If only dreams came true…” Well if it’s any consolation, Jon, our nightmares certainly have here. Just don’t follow up with PT’s Alice please!

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