John Paul Leon has passed away on 1 May 2021 at the age of 49. The cause of death was not given.
The news broke via a tweet by DC Comics senior editor Chris Conroy. In his tweet, he wrote:
“Last night we lost John Paul Leon, one of the greatest draftsmen in the history of comics, the kind of artist that EVERY artist revered.
Those who loved him had some warning, but not enough.
Because of the long gestation period of BATMAN: CREATURE OF THE NIGHT, working with JP just might have been one of the longest professional relationships of my career.
Every minute of it was a joy. I’ve never worked with anyone as kind, as thoughtful, as dedicated.”
Because of the long gestation period of BATMAN: CREATURE OF THE NIGHT, working with JP just might have been one of the longest professional relationships of my career. Every minute of it was a joy. I’ve never worked with anyone as kind, as thoughtful, as dedicated.
— Chris Conroy (@ConroyForReal) May 2, 2021
Leon began his comics career at the young age of 16, illustrating for the Dragon And Dungeon magazines, but it officially started with RoboCop (1992) and RoboCop: Prime Suspect (1992) for Dark Horse Comics.
He went on to work for DC Comics on Static (1993) and Static Shock!: Rebirth of the Cool (2001), helping launch the Milestone Comics Universe (for which he is best known).
He also worked on The Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix (1996), The Winter Men (2005) and Batman: Creature of the Night (2017). He was recently nominated for an Eisner Award (the comics industry’s equivalent of the Oscars) along with Tom King for his work on the short story Black Death in America, which debuted in Vertigo’s CMYK: Black issue.
In addition, the late Leon also contributed his artwork to style guides for comic book films, including Superman Returns, Batman Begins, Green Lantern and The Dark Knight.
Jim Lee, Tom King and other comic writers/artists wrote about the late John Paul Leon’s passing on social media:
I remain in awe of both his unrivaled draftsmanship & his stellar designwork-both of which were simply unparalleled & technically just so precise & perfect. But what really made me a fan was how he still squeezed in every bit of emotion & life in every image he created. 2/3 pic.twitter.com/2wswYtxFzF
— Jim Lee (@JimLee) May 3, 2021
John Paul Leon was a comic book humanist. 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. RIP. pic.twitter.com/ERLxdJjnIX
— Tom King (@TomKingTK) May 2, 2021
Every writer has a list of artists they want to work with. John Paul Leon was always on my list. An utterly unique talent who made a classic artistic tradition very much his own. My heart hurts for the loved ones he left behind, and for the brilliance stolen from all of us. pic.twitter.com/kNB4kJUXgv
— Ron Marz (@ronmarz) May 2, 2021
My favorite story from working with JP on Mother Panic was a script that said "red tomato with white maggots" (Violet had abstract red/white hallucinations during combat) and JP misread and drew a tornado instead of a tomato 🤣. I actually liked it too much to say anything… pic.twitter.com/QWf6NpxddQ
— Jody Houser ✒️🗯️🎲 (@Jody_Houser) May 3, 2021