John Paul Leon Dies Aged 49: Did Cancer Kill the Legendary Batman, X-Men, and Static Artist?

Leon was diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing treatment for more than 14 years, according to his GoFundMe page, which is run by fellow illustrator Tommy Lee Edwards.

  • Updated

John Paul Leon, the legendary comic artist known for his illustrations on titles such as Batman, X-Men Static, and a range of other popular DC comic titles died on Sunday at the age of 49. The news was confirmed by many in the industry including DC Comic Senior Editor Chris Conroy. Davis was diagnosed with cancer lately.

Born in New York City in 1972, Leon began working in the world of illustration at just 16 years old, drawing black and white comics for Dragon and Dungeon magazines. Leon's untimely death is being seen as a major loss for Hollywood. Tributes started pouring in immediately after news of his death was made public.

Untimely Death

John Paul Leon
John Paul Leon Facebook

News of Leon's death was first broken by Conroy. "It seems the news is out," wrote Conroy in a tweet. He then added: "Last night we lost John Paul Leon, one of the greatest draftsmen in the history of comics, the kind of artist that EVERY artist revered. Those who loved him had some warning, but not enough," he wrote on Twitter.

"Because of the long gestation period of BATMAN: CREATURE OF THE NIGHT, working with JP just might have been one of the longest professional relationships of my career. Every minute of it was a joy. I've never worked with anyone as kind, as thoughtful, as dedicated," Conroy wrote in another tweet.

Leon's work
One of John Paul Leon's illustrations Twitter

Leon started his career in comics for Dragon and Dungeon magazines. He later studied at New York's School of Visual Arts, before landing his first professional comic job illustrating for Dark Horse's 1992 miniseries RoboCop. He is also considered one of the architects of the Milestone Comics universe, providing pencils for the initial Static miniseries in 1993, which established the fan-favorite hero Static Shock.

However, his biggest achievements came after working on the Marvel Comics Universe, where he first worked on the Earth-X maxiseries. More recently, his work included the four-issue miniseries Batman: Creature of the Night, and a story with King and Dave Stewart on the upcoming Batman and Catwoman special issue, which is due to be released in July.

How Did Leon Die?

Leon was diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing treatment for some time. He was battling the deadly disease for more than 14 years. Although the exact cause of his death is still unknown, in all probability, Leon succumbed to the disease. His GoFundMe too indicates cancer as the possible reason of death.

The GoFundMe page, which was set up by fellow illustrator Tommy Lee Edwards, on Sunday read that he died of cancer after a long struggle. The bio on the page reads: Leon's "wish was to have any funds from his art sales go into a trust for his 17-year-old daughter, and help fund her future education and interests in engineering."

Leon is survived by his wife, daughter and an older brother. The funding page is run by his JP's studio friends Tommy Lee Edwards and Bernard Chang.

Tributes started pouring in almost immediately after news of Leon's death became public. "I couldn't believe it, but it seems to be confirmed. We lost a huge talent in the comics industry, one of those artists' artists. JPL's noir, heavy blacks aesthetics were near&dear to my heart. My heart goes to his family, friends, and fans. We'll miss U, brother," Italian comic book artist Francesco Francavilla, known for his creator-owned series The Black Beetle, tweeted.

"John Paul Leon was a comic book humanist," wrote Eisner winner Tom King. "He grounded the inherent absurdity of conveying myth and story through inked panels by insisting the emotional struggle of our lived experience be in every line, every picture. And he was a joy of a man, kind and funny, to the end. RIP."