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Tributes to comics artist John Watkiss, who has died, from fellow creators and fans

A beautiful John Watkiss painting done as part of a pitch for a series of Sandman movies, in about 2005, posted in an online tribute to John by author Neil Gaiman

A beautiful John Watkiss painting done as part of a pitch for a series of Sandman movies, in about 2005, posted in an online tribute to John by author Neil Gaiman

I’m sorry to report the passing of the hugely/talented British film and comics artist John Watkiss, whose most recent comics work was Surgeon X from Image. He was 55.

A very private man, he had been ill for some time. Regular readers will have already read our tribute to his work in the  fields of both art and comics, posted just last month.

“They don’t come more talented than John,” noted storyboard artist Malcolm Wilkie on Twitter as news circulated of his passing, confirmed by comics editor Tim Pilcher and others. “What a loss.”

“One of my fave artists,” said Tim, one of John’s longtime friends. “He’ll be missed.

Another close friend, Audio Adventures producer and director Andrew Mark Sewell, called him “an inspiring presence” in his life.

“John Watkiss was a cantankerous bugger, but I always remember our long chats about Plato back in the ’90s! Amazing artist.”

Author Neil Gaiman has also paid tribute, describing John as “astoundingly talented” and posting examples of his art, including a 2005 artwork for a proposed Sandman film.

“I loved his Sandman work,” said Neil.

“He was a seriously talented illustrator and painter. RIP, sir,” commented 2000AD artist Chris Weston.

Colour work for the Tarzan animated film by John Watkiss

Colour work for the Tarzan animated film by John Watkiss

“I discovered John Watkiss’s work through Conan, and was amazed by it, noted Kurt Busiek. “A sad loss for comics, and for friends and family, I’m sure.

“The story I’m working on now is partly (and loosely) inspired by a [Roy] Thomas/Watkiss Conan tale.”

Ring of Roses is one of my all time favourite comics,” noted comics writer Christian Read as many noted John’s various ground-breaking credits, including Duncan Fegredo. “I’ll miss his work forever.”

The cover of Surgeon X #4, released last year

The cover of Surgeon X #4, released last year

“Terrible news,” noted writer Paul Mitchell, who got to know John in the 1980’s through mutual friends at the Helicopter art agency and was one of many to enjoy his acclaimed life drawing classes.

“I’m nowhere near John’s class but he helped me become a better illustrator… for sure.”

“The greatest honor was to have known and learned from him,” agreed concept artist Mindy Doodles.

You can read our tribute to the work of John Watkiss here

About John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative" who is currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 25 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary, including DEATH'S HEAD II and WARHEADS. At Marvel he wrote strips for THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS, THUNDERCATS, DOCTOR WHO and co-created SHADOW RIDERS with Brian Williamson and Ross Dearsley. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. He has written comics for Marvel UK, Judge Dredd Megazine, Lucky Bag Comic, CGL (an Italian publisher), STRIP Magazine and ROK Comics; and edited some of Titan's British comics collections including Dan Dare and Charley's War. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.
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