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

Writer Paul H. Birch reflects on the passing of a former 2000AD and Marvel/ Panini UK stalwart, whose death was announced this week, aged just 58

Jon Haward. Photo courtesy Graeme Neil Reid

“You and your friends have got verbal diarrhoea,” my better-half used to mock. Less so now, as too many ride-on ahead into Valhalla. A few days ago, I was told Jon Haward had left us. It’s fair to say he withdrew from the social world for his own wellbeing, way before it became a pet buzzword.

The first time I met Jon, he’d been visiting a young Mike Perkins and they’d come to see the photography and art studio we were putting together in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. It was a wild labyrinth of a place, with much to do it on it; but the possibilities were endless. Everything was back then.

The opening page of “The Dark Circle” for The Official Sonic the Hedgehog Yearbook (1993), written by Alan Mackenzie, art by Jon and Jim Haward, lettered by John Aldrich

A busy comic strip artist, Jon’s work seemed to be everywhere at the time, be it working for Marvel UK, 2000AD, or Eagle. He also began testing the waters with the US independent scene while also developing projects with Alan Grant, most prestigiously their appearing in the Frank Frazetta Quarterly together, before latterly he became quite heavily involved with Classical Comics.

Alas, technology was moving on, and those slow to get to grips with it were getting left behind. For whatever reasons, Jon was initially one of those. I don’t think I’m talking out of turn in stating this, but to some degree it may well have lost him work, a couple of friends, and possibly played a part in affecting his own health.

Promotional art for the Simba Khan series planned for Aces Weekly by Paul H. Birch, Jon Haward and Nigel Dobbyn
Promotional art for the Simba Khan series planned for Aces Weekly by Paul H. Birch, Jon Haward and Nigel Dobbyn
Art from the unrealised series "Simba Khan" for Aces Weekly, written by Paul H. Birch, pencilled by Jon Haward, ink and colour by Nigel Dobbyn
Art from the unrealised series “Simba Khan” for Aces Weekly, written by Paul H. Birch, pencilled by Jon Haward, ink and colour by Nigel Dobbyn

Quite how, in between all this, he came to lower his sights and develop a couple of ideas with me, I leave others to puzzle over. That such endeavours weren’t to be, I accept with the grace of aging years. Rather, I prefer to recall how we became friends, and when he rang for a chat his enthusiasm for comics, films and the rock band KISS could go on for ages. Then we lost touch. Some of us tried to reach out to Jon, but were advised it was best not to; that he was safe and well, and we respected that.

It doesn’t make his loss any less potent, and it doesn’t stop reminding me of when all those possibilities felt endless, and how such labyrinthian ideals we all shared ought not get lost. Maybe the world got along fine without our Simba Khan, but I’d still love to have seen the Ingrid Pitt-themed comic, written by Mike Higgs, he was involved with, come to light. More so, I wish we’d got to share one last drink together.

A Simba Khan pin-up by Jon Haward, coloured by Tim Perkins, created in 2008.

Concerned about what to say under such circumstances, my better-half advised, “You always tell me to keep it short.” I wish I could, but when it comes to friends I get verbal diarrhoea.

Paul H. Birch

In Memoriam: Comic Artist Jon Haward

Remembering Jon Haward – A Tribute by Tim Perkins

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

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: British Comics, Comic Art, Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes News, Features, Obituaries

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  1. In Memoriam: Comic Artist Jon Haward –
  2. Remembering Jon Haward: Tim Perkins –

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