Month of Art Stars: Artist’s Choice – John Paul Leon

by  in Comic News Comment
Month of Art Stars: Artist’s Choice – John Paul Leon

Every day this month I’m going to feature the work of a great artist, only instead of me picking the artist to feature, they will be picked by their peers, fellow professional comic book artists who are picking out artists (from the past and present) who they think deserve special attention. Do note that most artists I asked about this gave me multiple answers and I picked out one choice out of a number of suggestions, so these are not definitive answers, like “Artist X likes Artist Y and he thinks all other Artists are terrible!” Here is an archive of the artists featured so far!

Today, we have the pick of Sean Chen, who’s drawn tons of big comics for DC and Marvel Comics over the past decade or so. Most recently, Sean has been drawing Dark Reign: Fantastic Four. Here‘s his studio website.

Sean’s pick is his studio mate, John Paul Leon.

This time around, things are a bit different. Sean will be handling the discussion of John Paul and John Paul himself is sharing sample pages with us!

Here’s Sean…

John Paul Leon’s skill harkens back to the time of the mighty illustrators. He applies that skill along with a complete understanding of the comic art form of storytelling with amazing results.

He is a favorite of many within the comic artist community, probably because only we can truly appreciate how difficult it is to achieve that level of draftsmanship and storytelling. Most readers will
evalute his work based on the superficial “style” and take it or leave it. However, most of what makes him a master of the medium such as storytelling and draftsmanship is less visable to them.

Most artists are only able to achieve realism by piling on surface detail and full tonal gradations. John Paul, however, employs an economy of expressive, gestural lines that manage to accruately capture
a true to life figure.

It’s hard to tell which portions were photo-refrenced and which were conjured from scratch since he has an uncanny ability to depict lifelike figure and scenes. Each scene is informed by his ability to
totally recall moments and details he’s observed in real life, and capture them with simple india ink and brush.

He’s not afraid to build the scene with heavy black areas since he’s adept at maintaining clarity, and an expert at leading the eye to the salient portions of a scene through page/panel design.

He swings with ease from very quiet moments to the larger than life explosive action scenes. In fact some of his best stuff are the quite moments before the action builds to a fever pitch.

“The Wintermen” is so thoroughly reasearched that it invites the reader to totally immerse themselves into the Russian culture mileu and completly blurs the line between historical fact and the farther fetched superhero yarn that spins out of it.

If you’ve ever seen, or are lucky enough to own, one of his convention drawings, you will see that they are far from the ordinary fare. They are one-of-a -kind personal comic vignettes that belong in a frame.

Here is a gallery of John Paul’s work, selected by John Paul himself directly from his personal collection!

First, black and white work

A page from Challengers of the Unknown…

A couple of Ex Machina pages…

A Scalped page…

A page from Tom Strong…

A number of Winter Men pages…

Now some color work

Three DMZ covers…

A recent Static Shock cover…

And finally, a Die Hard cover for Boom!…

Thanks so much to Sean and John Paul for their time and effort!

And Sean’s right, John Paul’s work is amazing.