Saturday, January 21, 2017

RIP John Watkiss

We were heartbroken today to learn that artist John Watkiss has died.

John was only 55, and one of the leading talents in our field. It was our privilege to have worked with him on the DelRey, Robert E. Howard series volume, Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures.

Although John was a co-founder of the Sherman Oaks-based illustration school that we were attending at that time, we first met him at a Los Angeles art supply store (World Supply) when he did a live painting demo (a magical experience). When we were asked to suggest potential artists for Sword Woman, we floated John's name with little hope that he would actually accept. Needless to say, we were thrilled when he did.

John would go on to create 61 illustrations for the book. His preferred working method (in this case) was to have us carefully describe the specific content of each illustration that we wanted to see him deliver—and deliver he did, as the two examples below clearly prove.

They picture "Dark Agnes" de Chastillon, the title character from the opening of the title story, "Sword Woman", as she emerges from the woods, racing to freedom having just slain her piggish bridegroom; a brute forced upon her by her conniving and equally brutish father. John's pictures capture the bridal-gowned-wearing warrior-in-the-making with a vicious and luminous visual poetry that left us breathless. No one could have done better.

John's beautiful frontispiece for Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures.
John's likewise magnificent opening illustration for "Sword Woman".

The website Tripwire has a more detailed obituary, with information about his many other important projects HERE.

Our sincere condolences to his family and many friends.