In Memoriam: Fundraiser launched to support family of American comic artist John Paul Leon

John Paul Leon
John Paul Leon

Fellow comic artists Bernard Chang and Tommy Lee Edwards has launched a fundraiser in support of the family of American comic artist John Paul Leon, whose death, aged just 49, has shocked the comics community on both sides of the Atlantic.

John Paul,Leon, a world-renowned artist, started drawing comics professionally as a teenager, passed away yesterday, 2nd May 2021, after a 14-year battle with cancer. He is perhaps best known for his critically acclaimed work that envisioned and redefined the entire Marvel Comics universe in the maxi-series Earth X, and his bold and dramatic work has influenced many of today’s young talents.

Art by John Paul Leon

Some of his other notable works include the critically acclaimed Batman: Creature of the Night, The Winter Men, Logan: Path of the Warlord, and Challengers of the Unknown.

The Winter Men by Brett Lewis and John Paul Leon

John started drawing comics professionally at the age of 19, while he was studying illustration at School of Visual Arts in New York City, on Robocop Prine Suspect for Dark Horse Comics. His first published work, however, debuted in the pages of TSR Dungeons and Dragons when he was a high school student at the New World School of the Arts, in Miami.

While still studying at the SVA he drew the DC Comics/Milestone title, Static, receiving his bachelors in fine arts from SVA in 1994 and giving on to tackle top pop culture icons like Superman, Batman, and the X-Men.

The Uncanny X-Men (Chris Claremont and Paul Smith's 1980s era) commission (2021)
The Uncanny X-Men (Chris Claremont and Paul Smith’s 1980s era) commission (2021)

John Paul’s wish was to have any funds from his art sales go into a trust for his 17-year-old daughter, and help fund her future education and interests in engineering. Proceeds from the GoFundMe page set up and managed by Bernard Chang and Tommy Lee Robinson will help get this trust started while helping John Paul’s family transition through this difficult period.

Art by John Paul Leon

In a moving tribute on Facebook, Walt Simonson, who was his teacher at SVA in the early 1990s freely freely acknowledges that “It’s not that I taught him anything; it’s that the other students and I got to watch such talent blossom.

“….To some extent, he was an example of the old Thomas Edison aphorism, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Except that in John Paul’s case, I’m pretty sure it was more like 50/50. Maybe 60/40.”

“One of the greatest artists of our generation,” echoed Jim Lee. “He was also one of the nicest and most talented creators one could be lucky enough to have met… I remain in awe of both his unrivaled draftsmanship and his stellar designwork-both of which were simply unparalleled and technically just so precise and perfect.

“But what really made me a fan was how he still squeezed in every bit of emotion and life in every image he created.”

Batman  by John Paul Leon

“John Paul was an amazing talent, a wonderful collaborator and a great guy,” noted Kurt Busiek. “I was very lucky to be able to work with him on a big story, sad that we won’t get to do the little story we had in the works, and devastated that he’s gone,”

A tribute to Alex Toth by John Paul Leon. With thanks to Michael Neno
A tribute to Alex Toth by John Paul Leon. With thanks to Michael Neno

“I feel he has been one of the very best comic artists of the century so far and someone whose work I always looked out for,” commented artist David Roach. “It’s almost unbelievable to think that we won’t see any more artwork from him. A sad loss.”

The cover to Convergence: Suicide Squad #2 from 2015. John told his friendMatt Dicke this was his first all gouache painting and he was channeling David Grove. “He was pretty happy with this one.” (Image via David Roach
The cover to Convergence: Suicide Squad #2 from 2015. John told his friendMatt Dicke this was his first all gouache painting and he was channeling David Grove. “He was pretty happy with this one.” (Image via David Roach
John Paul Leon’s  fantastic tribute to Jordi Bernet (and Alex Toth's) Torpedo. “In my eyes John Paul was right up there with both of those comic giants,” says David Roach
John Paul Leon’s fantastic tribute to Jordi Bernet (and Alex Toth’s) Torpedo. “In my eyes John Paul was right up there with both of those comic giants,” says David Roach
A tribute to Alex Toth's fabulous Detective Comics Batman strip "Death Flies the Haunted Skies". “Needless to say John Paul proved himself to be the perfect successor to Toth,” says artist David Roach
A tribute to Alex Toth’s fabulous Detective Comics Batman strip “Death Flies the Haunted Skies”. “Needless to say John Paul proved himself to be the perfect successor to Toth,” says artist David Roach

“John Paul Leon was a comic book humanist,” said writer Tom King, as part of a Twitter thread tribute. “He grounded the inherent absurdity of conveying myth and story through inked panels by insisting the emotional struggle of our lived experience be in every line, every picture. And he was a joy of a man, kind and funny, to the end.”

GoFundMe John Paul Leon Family Memorial

John Paul Leon – Official Web Site

NEWS LINKS

• ComikBook.com – Comics Pros Pay Tribute to John Paul Leon

Tripwire – The Comics Industry Pays Tribute To John Paul Leon

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features, Obituaries, Superhero Comics, US Comics

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