John Paul Leon

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John Paul Leon
Leon at the New York Comic Con in Manhattan on October 9, 2010
Born(1972-04-26)April 26, 1972
New York City, New York, US
DiedMay 2, 2021(2021-05-02) (aged 49)
Notable works
Earth X

John Paul Leon (April 26, 1972 – May 1, 2021) was an American comic book artist, known for his work on the Milestone Comics series Static, and the Marvel Comics limited series Earth X.

Leon also provided artwork for a number of style guides for feature film adaptations of comic books, including Superman Returns, Batman Begins, Green Lantern, and The Dark Knight.

Early life[edit]

John Paul Leon was born on April 26, 1972, in New York City.[1]


Leon first began working professionally at the age of 16, with a series of black and white illustrations for TSR's Dragon and Dungeon magazines.[2]

He majored in illustration at New York's School of Visual Arts, studying under artists such as Will Eisner, Walter Simonson, and Jack Potter. It was during this time that he received his first professional comics job, illustrating the Dark Horse Comics miniseries RoboCop: Prime Suspect (October 1992).[3] By his junior year he was given the job as the inaugural artist on the DC Comics/Milestone ongoing series Static (June 1993), his first breakout work,[4] which Simonson agreed would serve as Leon's course work for that semester.[5] He would draw Static until its ninth issue (February 1994).[4] Leon graduated from SVA with a Bachelor of Fine Arts[6] in 1994.[7] Regarding this milestone, Leon would relate to Newsarama in 2019:[8]

"When I graduated SVA, I remember they had us fill out a form, for what purpose, I don't recall. But among the questions asked was something along the lines of, where do you see yourself in 20 years, or what are your goals for the next several years. I remember my answer was, '...To build a body of work and to be highly regarded among my peers.' Something like that."[8]

As Leon's popularity rose, he became a sought-after artist for both DC and Marvel, projects. He drew the miniseries Logan: Path of the Warlord and The Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix (both in 1996), and the 12-issue miniseries Earth X (1999), written by Jim Krueger and Alex Ross, another signature work of Leon's that depicted a dystopian future of the Marvel Universe,[4][5] and which spawned multiple sequels. Leon also contributed to regular ongoing series such as multiple Batman-related books, Superman, and Challengers of the Unknown (1997).[4]

By the early 2000s, Leon's work caught the notice of DC Comics' parent company Warner Bros.,[4] through which Leon would provid artwork for a number of style guides for the studio's feature film adaptations of DC properties, including Superman Returns, Batman Begins, Green Lantern, and The Dark Knight.[2][4]

Leon also illustrated Superman Returns: Be a Hero, a children's books published by Meredith Books as a tie-in to the 2006 feature film Superman Returns.[1][9]

Leon's other career-defining works of the 2000s included two issues of New X-Men in 2002, and two DC Comics miniseries: The Wintermen, which was written by Leon's SVA classmate Brett Lewis, and published under DC's Wildstorm imprint, and the DC miniseries Batman: Creature of the Night,[4][5] a four-issue miniseries written by Kurt Busiek that, due to Leon's third diagnosis of stage two colorectal cancer, was published over the course of four years, with the final issue being released in 2019.[8]

In April 2021, Leon was announced as the artist on the upcoming Batman/Catwoman Special #1, a retelling of the origin of Catwoman, written by Tom King.[10]

Leon's last interior artwork was the "memory sequence" in the first issue of Jupiter's Legacy: Requiem (June 2021), which writer Mark Millar dedicated to Leon's memory.[11]

Personal life and death[edit]

In 2008, Leon was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, for which he would be treated several times, with a combination of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. By 2012 he was in remission. In January 2018, he was diagnosed with the disease a third time, which had again spread to his lungs. He underwent chemotherapy again in January 2019, and indicated in an interview that November that he was responding well to the treatment, and was exhibiting promising energy levels. Though he continued to work throughout this process, it hindered the timely release of the book Batman: Creature of the Night.[8]

As of 2018, Leon lived with his wife and daughter[3] in Miami, Florida.[7]

John Paul Leon died May 1, 2021, at age 49,[12] after a 14-year battle with cancer. He was survived by his wife, daughter and older brother. Leon's colleague, Tommy Lee Edwards, set up a GoFundMe page to create a trust fund for the education of Leon's then-17-year-old daughter, and help fund her education in engineering.[3]

Marvel Comics and DC Comics ran tributes to Leon in books they published in the first week of June 2021.[13] Marvel's featured a eulogy by Marvel Entertainment EVP Creative Director Joe Quesada, who stated, "John Paul Leon was truly a unique talent, admired and envied by all of us in the industry for his ability to convey the complexities of the world with a distilled simplicity of line and mastery of the craft that few can ever hope to achieve. He’s passed much too soon, leaving us to wonder what further heights he would have achieved, but thankful for the work he’s left behind that will inspire generations of artists to come. Our hearts at Marvel go out to his family, loved ones, friends, and fans. Godspeed."[14] In DC's books, Publisher and Chief Creative Officer Jim Lee wrote, "One of the greatest artists of our generation, he was also one of the nicest and most talented creators one could be lucky enough to have met." On its website, DC also published tributes by Leon's collaborator Tom King, and DC vice president and editor-in-chief Marie Javins.[15]



  1. ^ a b Cole, Neil (May 3, 2021). "Comic Book Legend John Paul Leon Passes Away at Age 49". Superman Super Site. Archived from the original on May 3, 2021. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Gelman, Samuel (May 2, 2021). "Static, Earth X Artist John Paul Leon Dies at 49". Archived from the original on May 3, 2021. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Johnston, Rich (May 3, 2021). "John Paul Leon's Family Issue Statement and Fundraiser In His Memory". Bleeding Cool. Archived from the original on May 3, 2021. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Arrant, Chris (May 3, 2021). "Artists' artist John Paul Leon dies at age 49". Newsarama. Archived from the original on May 3, 2021. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c MacDonald, Heidi (May 3, 2021). "RIP John Paul Leon". Comics Beat. Archived from the original on May 3, 2021. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  6. ^ Johnston, Rich (May 2, 2021). "Comic Book Legend John Paul Leon Has Passed Away At The Age Of 49". Bleeding Cool. Archived from the original on May 2, 2021. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "About the artist". September 16, 2018. Archived from the original on May 3, 202. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  8. ^ a b c d Arrant, Chris (November 6, 2019). "John Paul Leon opens up on his cancer battle & his Batman: Creature of the Night work". Newsarama. Archived from the original on February 3, 2021. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  9. ^ "Superman returns : be a hero / by Brent Sudduth ; illustrated by John Paul Leon and Tommy Lee Edwards". Harnett County Public Library. Archived from the original on May 3, 2021. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  10. ^ Marston, George (April 15, 2021). "Selina Kyle's origin retconned for Batman/Catwoman special by King and Leon". Newsarama. Archived from the original on April 18, 2021. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  11. ^ Millar, Mark (w), Edwards, Tommy Lee (a). Jupiter's Legacy: Requiem 1 (June 2021), Image Comics
  12. ^ Anderson, Jenna (May 2, 2021). "John Paul Leon, Legendary Batman, X-Men, and Static Artist, Dies at 49". Retrieved May 2, 2021.
  13. ^ Johnston, Rich (June 14, 2021). "Marvel And DC Comics Run Tributes To The Late John Paul Leon". Bleeding Cool. Archived from the original on June 14, 2021. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
  14. ^ "Marvel Comics Remembers John Paul Leon". Marvel Comics. May 3, 2021. Archived from the original on August 10, 2021. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
  15. ^ "DC Remembers John Paul Leon 1972 - 2021". DC Comics. May 5, 2021. Archived from the original on August 10, 2021. Retrieved August 10, 2021.

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