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.
“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.
“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.”
“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.
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. 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 “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.