Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

R.I.P. John Watkiss (1961-2017)

I saw on Facebook this morning that artist John Watkiss has died of cancer at the age of 55. Bleeding Cool has details, as well as several tweets about Watkiss by comics professionals. I first saw Watkiss’s work on Sandman, when he drew the Marco Polo issue “Soft Places.” I was surprised to discover that it was one of his very early comics work, although he was already 31 when it appeared. Gaiman knew how to get some talent on that book, didn’t he? His style was perfect for the story of Marco Polo lost in the desert, and “Soft Places” is an artistic highlight of the series. He drew Ring of Roses, “The Face” from Sandman Mystery Theatre, a Legends of the Dark Knight arc, Trigger and Deadman for Vertigo, and he just recently launched Surgeon X with Sara Kenney for Image. Watkiss had a interesting style, as he used long lines to create a flow to his art, making it lush and almost impressionistic but with a hard edge when the material called for it. Watkiss was never prolific (he worked in advertising, storyboarding, and filmmaking because, I suppose, he wanted to actually make money), but his art was always a treat to see. So raise a glass to John Watkiss and re-read your issues of Trigger (you do have all your issues of Trigger don’t you?). This is the third consecutive post on our blog about someone dying, by the way. Perhaps 2017 could ease up already, as we already know it’s going to be tough in many other ways!

From Sandman #39


  1. tomfitz1

    Another one that met a tragic end!

    It’s funny, I first saw Mr. Watkiss’s work at the same time as you, in the SANDMAN books.

    He was not my favorite artist, but he had a different style that set him apart from the regular crop of artists.

    Too bad, he didn’t get too much work other than the titles you’ve listed.

  2. Dammit!

    I will have to find Trigger in my pile o’ stuff, as I do in fact have all the issues. Deadman too (at least part of it).

    And I was assuming that the first Surgeon X trade was going to be in the new Previews soon, so I was going to be getting that.

    I too first saw that SO GOOD Sandman issue!

    2017 — I’m watching you! Don’t fuck up like last year!

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