In Memoriam: Comic Artist Jon Haward

We’re sorry to report the death of British comic artist Jon Haward, who has passed peacefully, surrounded by family, after a long illness. He was just 58.

Jon Haward (2014)
Jon Haward (2014) – via Jon’s Facebook page

Born in Norwich in August 1965, Jon’s many credits over thirty years in the British comics industry included “Dan Dare” for New Eagle, and “Judge Dredd“, “Tales of Telguuth“, and other stories, for 2000AD.

He also worked on Panini UK’s Spectacular Spider-Man and other titles for five years, drawing many stories, drawing Spider-Man and other Marvel superhero strips before licensing restrictions ended the publication of new stories by the UK-based company.

“As a child, Jon grew up reading comics filled with great art,” fellow artist Tim Perkins has previously noted, the work of artists such as Frank Bellamy, Don Lawrence, Ron Embleton, Frank Hampson, Neal Adams,Gene Colan, Gil Kane and others encouraging Jon decide to take up drawing.

“Following his schooldays he completed a graphic design course at Lowestoft College. After a spell of being an illustrator and designer in an advertising and marketing firm based in Norwich, he decided to go freelance. When he was trying to start his career in comics Alan Davis and David Lloyd very kindly gave him advice that helped to pave his way into the field.”

Starting out working for Harrier Comics, his comic credits were wide ranging until he dropped out of the business in 2016, including the brilliant and very funny Tales of the Buddha, written by Alan Grant. He often worked with Nigel Dobbyn, including the development of an unpublished strip for David Lloyd’s digital anthology, Aces Weekly, “Simba Khan”, written by Paul H. Birch, and drew an award-winning adaptation of Macbeth for Classical Comics and adaptations of The Tempest and Frankenstein, too.

In addition to his comics work, he illustrated children’s books, joke books, activity packs, newspaper strips, cards games, board games, computer game character design, story boards for films, and posters. He also created characters for advertising companies and banks.

He also did plenty to encourage young creators in his home town of Lowestoft, setting up a comic club and encouraging other initiatives to help support a new generation of aspiring comic artists.

1990s Dan Dare Designs by Jon Haward
1990s Dan Dare Designs by Jon Haward – more information here
A montage of the many characters and series Jon Haward worked on
A montage of the many characters and series Jon Haward worked on

Of all the strips he worked on, it was Tales of the Buddha (Before He Got Enlightened), released in 2013 by Renegade Entertainment, his creator-owned comic produced in collaboration with Alan Grant and Jamie Grant, that he appeared most proud, counting the lead character as a favourite.

“Alan and I were doing a strip called ‘Robin Head and his Marijuana Men’ for Northern Lightz magazine and I suggested doing something a bit longer to Alan,” Jon told Matt Badham in an interview for downthetubes in 2013. “Alan came up with Tales of the Buddha. Jamie Grant, who was editing Northern Lights at the time, got that coloured up and put it in the magazine. That was how we started in 2002. Then (when Northern Lightz finished) it moved to Wasted and, more recently, Renegade Entertainment has collected it.

“It’s been 11 years that we’ve been doing it and people have said it’s my best work. I don’t necessarily agree with that, but what I do say is that it allows me to be unchained. I’m not restricted by anything when I’m doing it. I’m not restricted by time and I can be as over the top as I want.”

Tales of the Buddha by Alan Grant and Jon Haward

Described by one admirer as ‘Kid Chameleon’, because he was so able to adapt his style to suit a particular project, Jon started in the creative business in an advertising agency, as an in-house illustrator. “They would come to me and say, ‘For this campaign, Jon, can you draw an image in this style?’” he recalled. “And I would have to follow the style, and that’s carried on with my comics.”

His work for Panini was enjoyed by fans, and Jon himself, talking about his time working for the company in 2008, recalled certain stories, such as his Captain Britain issues, with fondness.

“I had a blast,” he told downthetubes. “I got to draw all the main Marvel heroes in my five-year run.”

Some of Jon's many covers for Panini UK's superhero titles
Some of Jon’s many covers for Panini UK’s superhero titles

Jon was the first artist I worked with when I started editing Spectacular Spider-Man,” Panini editor Ed Hammond recalls. “We may have been a locally licensed junior Spider-Man title, but he took drawing those strips as seriously as if he was drawing the main Amazing Spider-Man title for Marvel in the States. He’d been a lifelong comicbook fan and you just knew from his work that getting to draw the web-head was a dream come true. His stories had a classic look that took inspiration from the greats – full of dynamism and detail, but still clear enough that even our youngest readers had no trouble following his stories.

“To be honest, as inexperienced as I was back then, I don’t think I really grasped just how good his storytelling skills were. Working with Jon was always a pleasure – and an education in making great comics.

Jon Haward's pencil art for the cover of Panini UK's Spectacular Spider-man #121
Jon Haward’s pencil art for the cover of Panini UK’s Spectacular Spider-man #121

“One of his favourite stories we worked on was the Captain Britain Spidey team-up against the Red Skull. There was a little bit of a buzz about it – so much so that Marvel US even reprinted it in one of their Marvel Milestones issues. A few weeks after the issue had gone on sale, Jon rang me full of pride. Apparently, someone he knew had shown the pages to a certain bearded writer who was synonymous with Cap B, who commented that ‘Jon was born to draw Marvel’. I could feel Jon’s grin through the phone!

Art from Panini UK's Spectacular Spider-man #114 featuring Captain Britain and the Fury in "Blast from the Past". Pencils by Jon Haward, inked by John Stokes
Art from Panini UK’s Spectacular Spider-man #114 featuring Captain Britain and the Fury in “Blast from the Past”. Pencils by Jon Haward, inked by John Stokes
Art from Panini UK's Spectacular Spider-man #114, pencils by Jon Haward
Art from Panini UK's Spectacular Spider-man #114, pencils by Jon Haward
Art from Panini UK’s Spectacular Spider-man #114, pencils by Jon Haward

“Along with his work in Spectacular Spider-Man, Jon also drew many of the covers for Panini’s Marvel Pocketbook range. I could tell he saw it as a real honour to create covers for books that featured material by so many of the Marvel greats of the 60s, 70s and 80s, but really, there was no other choice. Jon’s style was again the perfect fit for these collections.

“I miss those days working with all the artists and writers on Spectacular Spider-Man, but I miss Jon in particular. Everyone who worked with him knew he was a big guy, with a big heart to match. The textbook example of the gentle giant and a friend to all. It was a privilege to work with him.”

Sadly, in 2016, Jon hit one too many road blocks in his life and although he’d received incredible support from friends and fans who raised over £2000 to get him over some financial hurdles, his health became such that he was no longer able to work. He was in and out of hospital several times over the next year, but never recovered sufficiently to return to work in the industry he loved.

Tales of the Buddha by Alan Grant and Jon Haward

“Damn. We lost another Great,” comic creator Jim Stewart tells downthetubes, providing more background on Jon’s favourite independent comics work, Tales of Buddha. “Big Jon Haward was a highly versatile artist/cartoonist and good friend of mine, who I first met Jon at a Glasgow comic con in 1995.

“He was drawing a character called ‘Shag’, plus the Sonic the Comic, and getting some 2000AD work. We talked and discovered we were born in the same year and we both loved Jack Kirby’s work. I gave him Ganjaman 1 and my phone number, we kept in touch and informed on each other’s projects. So when Northern Lightz #1 was published, Dave Alexander and myself gave the 6ft 2 gentle giant a copy at the Bristol Comic cCn and he asked to be in the next issue. He was working with Ferg Handley on Spectacular Spider-man Adventures for Panini UK at the time, so he adopted his pseudonym, Johnny Horney, and drew ‘Full Paper Jacket’ with Ty (Ferg) Styx on script, which appeared in issue 2. He became a regular in the comic after that.

“When the late, great, Alan Grant came aboard the good ship, there was scripts galore. Big Jon was first choice for a new character that Alan had penned called Buddha, which was published in NLz # 7. Buddha became a recurring character and ran in both NLz and then, WASTED. Tales of Buddha before he got Enlightened was eventually collected into graphic novel form in 2013 by Renegade Arts Entertainment.

“Jon was well loved in the UK comic convention scene,” Jim notes. “He loved drawing for his fans, often for free. He also loved the Scotland comic cons in Moniaive and Glasgow and would stay at my house for weeks at a time. I always kept him busy drawing Ganjaman pinups. On my 50th birthday, Jon and Alan did a three-page Ganjaman story for me.

“I hope the comic gods put him to work in comic book heaven.”

Alan Grant and Jon Haward
Alan Grant and Jon Haward

“John was a great hit at Moniaive Comic Con,” Sue Grant, Alan Grant’s widow, recalls. “He did the logo and interacted with the kids and helped them. Alan always thought him highly underrated. He loved working on Buddha and pushed Alan to write more. He was always a joy to have as a guest and visitor to the house. So sad he was ill for so long.”

A Spider-man page by Jon Haward, Lee Townsend and John Charles for Panini UK

“I’m very sad to hear that Jon Haward has passed away,” artist and writer John Charles, who worked with him, told downthetubes. “Jon was a stalwart of the British comics industry, a friend and a brilliant raconteur, as well as a terrific artist who knew comics inside out. I met Jon at some comic con or other and wound up sat with him at dinner… We became firm friends then and there.

“Somewhat later, when I was unemployed, Jon called me up out of the blue and offered me a shot at colouring his Spider-man work for Marvel Comics/Panini UK. Of, course, I jumped at it, and coloured lots of stuff by him for several years; always a pleasure. Happy days. I’ll be shedding a tear and raising a pint of lager to a truly lovely man. I’ll never forget Jon.”

Jon Haward’s only cover for the new Eagle, from 1991 March “drawn with Indian ink , pens , markers and coloured pencils, way before Photoshop but still looks quite striking IMHO,” Jon himself said of his work back in April 2014.
The cover of Sonic the Comic #39

“So sad to read about the passing of Jon Haward,” noted artist Graeme Neil Reid. “Most people involved in the comics industry in the UK will have known Jon and apart from his talents as an artist and storyteller. I just thought he was the kindest and most caring professional I knew. I’ve read through messages and emails we exchanged and he was constantly talking up my work and suggesting people and places to contact for work. I think he recognised how difficult an industry it was for people especially for the ‘non-star’ creative that I definitely put myself in. Keeping yourself active and your head above the water is hard and Jon was always there to offer advice and a kind word. What a sad loss. Rest easy, Jon.”

“I’m deeply saddened that Jon has passed away,” commented artist Simon Williams. “He was a gentle giant with a heart of gold and enormous talent. I know firsthand how proud Jon was to have drawn comics, especially Spider-Man for Panini/Marvel UK… and you could see the love he had for those characters in every single line on every single page! Jon also had a great sense of humour… which is evident if you read Tales of the Buddha before he became enlightened, another project that he was incredibly proud of.

“Rest in peace, Jon… and thank you for your years of friendship.”

Lew Stringer, Jon Haward and Jasper Bark at the launch of The Spirit of Hope anthology in 2011. Photo courtesy Lew Stringer
Lew Stringer, Jon Haward and Jasper Bark at the launch of The Spirit of Hope anthology in 2011. Photo courtesy Lew Stringer

“Jon Haward was a fantastic comic artist who clearly poured a lot of energy into his work and was a skilled professional,” comic artist, writer and archivist Lew Stringer told downthetubes. “I always enjoyed seeing his work on a variety of comics whether it was Sonic the Comic, Marvel UK, the Classical Comics adaptation of The Tempest, Tales of the Buddha or anything he produced. It was always a pleasure to see him at events too. I think the last time I saw him was at The Spirit of Hope book launch in 2011. Although in some physical discomfort, he was in good spirits and he enjoyed the company of his fellow pros. Rest In Peace, Jon, you made good comics.”

“I enjoyed interviewing Jon, an artist I admired for his clean line and deft graphic storytelling skills,” says longtime downthetubes contributor Matt Badham. “Jon brought a clarity and precision to his comics work, as well as a clear, intuitive understanding of comics as a storytelling medium. In our relatively brief correspondence, I got a sense of Jon as a humble philosopher. It was a shock to hear of his death at the relatively young age of 59.

“I didn’t know you well, Jon, but I was a fan of your work and I’m glad we got the chance to touch base with each other, if only briefly. I’m also glad I was able to tell you how much I liked your art, a fact that seemed to baffle you.”

For my part, I remember Jon’s enthusiasm for his craft and passion to encourage others, and his optimism, sadly later cruelly crushed by circumstance, that could so easily impact any of us as creatives. When I organised an emergency crowdfunding campaign to help Jon through his first rough patch, it is testament to his standing then, among fellow comic creators, that we quickly raised enough to help him through a difficult time. Sadly, we were not to know then that this was the start of further problems for such a talented soul.

Our sympathies to Jon’s family and friends at this time.

Jon Haward, 1965 – 2024

Jon was a much loved brother to Jane, Judith and James, and treasured uncle to Emma and Sarah. His family have asked that friends donate to the mental health charity, MIND, in his memory

With thanks to everyone who shared their memories of Jon for this tribute, and examples of his work. There are more to come, but, for now, thanks to Jim Stewart, we’ll leave you with this, Alan Grant and Jon Haward’s “Ganjaman in… Jim’s Birthday Surprise”, created for Jim’s 50th birthday.

Let’s leave the room happy, eh?

Ganjaman in... Jim's Birthday Surprise by Alan Grant and Jon Haward (with thanks to Jim Stewart)
Ganjaman in... Jim's Birthday Surprise by Alan Grant and Jon Haward (with thanks to Jim Stewart)
Ganjaman in... Jim's Birthday Surprise by Alan Grant and Jon Haward (with thanks to Jim Stewart)

And then there’s this, from Jon himself, posted in November 2015 after a signing…

“Lovely moment: on Saturday at Ace Comics, a young boy and his friend came over to my table. He looked nervous and confused.
‘Are you famous?’ he said.
“I smiled at him and said, ‘the characters I’ve drawn are famous.’
“‘Oh he said, what characters have you drawn then?’
“I replied with a list, and told him I would sign his free Spidey comic, as I used to draw Spider-Man
“He smiled red faced and I signed his comic.
“He then took it and said: ‘You are famous,” and then went to his pal to show him the comic.

“I overheard him say, ‘just got this Spider-Man comic signed by a famous artist.’
“Pure gold.
“Thought I would share with you, those moments make up for the thousands of lonely hours spent in a studio drawing.

“Night folks.”

Web Links

Remembering artist Jon Haward: a personal tribute by Paul H. Birch

Remembering Jon Haward – A Tribute by Tim Perkins

• Jon’s blogs are still live at and but have not been updated since 2013

Jon’s Facebook Fan Page is still live but was last updated in 2016

Lambiek: Jon Haward

Marvel Fandom: Jon Haward Credits

Tim Perkins has charted Jon Haward’s career here, including specific credits, here

Art by Jon Haward on Comic Art Fans

Dan Dare Recalled: Artist Jon Haward’s 1990s Designs

The Changing Man: An Interview with Jon Haward
An interview wit Jon about Tales from the Buddha, first published in 2013

From Sylvanian Families to Shakespeare: An Interview with artist Jon Haward
First published in 2008 to mark the launch of the second Classical Comics project

Tales of the Buddha : Before He Got Enlightened
By Alan Grant and Jon Haward

Collecting all the comic strips from the powerhouse team of Alan Grant, Jon Haward and Cam Kennedy including two strips not available anywhere else. The strips take an extremely lighthearted approach to Buddha’s journey of discovery as he samples other religions, hangs out with other well-known religious icons and experiences life’s more physical pleasures along the way.

If you or anyone you know suffer from mental health issues, find out how to access NHS mental health services and where to get urgent help here on the NHS web site | The charity MIND has a guide to taking the first steps, making empowered decisions and getting the right support for you here

Categories: 2000AD, British Comics, Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features, Obituaries

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