John Paul Leon (1972 – 2021): Family’s Statement On His Passing

by Olly MacNamee

Yesterday, Sunday 2nd May 2021, the world of comics lost the artist John Paul Leon to cancer at just the age of 49. And while we’ve lost another one of the good guys his legacy will live on in the amazing work he did and which brought him to prominence as a very distinctive and dynamic comic book artist.

As well as working on MIlestone’s Static comics, John Paul Leon worked on a variety of comic books from Marvel, DC Comics, Dark Horse – where he cut his teeth with Robocop: Prime Suspect – and more. For me it was has work with Alex Ross on Earth X that brought him to my attention and I thoroughly enjoyed his recent work with Kurt Busiek on Batman: Creature of the Night.

Here’s is a statement put out by his family and a way in which people can support his surviving family with the aim to set up a fund for his daughter through the selling of his original art:

JOHN PAUL LEON (1972-2021)

“John Paul Leon, one of the most revered and masterful artists and storytellers in the comic book industry, passed away Sunday morning at l0am, May 2nd, 2021, after a 14-year battle with cancer. He was surrounded by family and friends in his last moments, fighting for his life, much like the many superhero stories he crafted over his celebrated career spanning three decades.

John Paul’s bold and dramatic work was best exemplified in the critically-acclaimed EARTH X, a maxi-series which redefined the Marvel Comics universe; as the original artist on STATIC, which laid the foundation for the Milestone/DC Comics universe; his creator-owned THE WINTERMEN series about cold war era super soldiers; and BATMAN CREATURE OF THE NIGHT, a passion project deconstructing the iconic dark knight.

He 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 PRIME SUSPECT for Dark Horse Comics. JP’s 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 at SVA, John Paul studied under one of his childhood idols, Walter Simonson. “I am honored to have JP’s RAGNAROK cover framed and hanging in our front hallway,” says Walter, It’s a constant reminder to do better every day and to try to make myself into the best artist I can.”

John Paul’s work was impactful and expressive, and in his personal life he was very private and humble. To him, his ultimate goal was to build a body of work that would earn the respect of his peers. To his peers and friends, it was how he lived as a human that was most inspirational. As a teenager, whenever you rode with him in his car, he forbid the radio being on, so that you could appreciate to the true sound of the engine.

JP is survived by his wife, daughter and older brother.

In lieu of gifts, a GOFUNDME page has been set up to fund his daughter’s future educational pursuits…

Olly MacNamee

A unashamed DC Comics fan and sometime teacher for over 20 years! I got lucky and found the escape hatch. Now, I just read and write about comics all day long. Co-host of the ICE-Cast podcast and one third of the brains behind Birmingham's street art and graffiti festival High Vis Fest.

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