Whether or not you think that a big Frazetta and Burroughs fan like a young Jeffrey Catherine Jones might have been “inspired” by Frazetta’s title-page illustration for Burroughs’ Tarzan and the City of Gold, you surely must agree that Jones’s fan art is all kinds of wonky. Particularly egregious from a pure drawing standpoint is Jones’s botched handling of the perspective of the woman’s arms and the failure of construction that is her shrivelled right hand. Frazetta handles the same pose/angle/elements simply and with aplomb, and he is able to do so partly because he has made the throne large enough, or the woman small enough, to give himself room to operate. In particular, notice that the cylindrical forms of both of the woman’s arms are reinforced by the curves of the wrist and upper arm bands — Jones does this on one wrist, and it’s effective — and the spaces between the large, swooping arms of the throne and the outstretched arms of Frazetta’s woman effectively, along with the subtle dimensional edges of the throne and a bit of tone, push the back of the throne back in space, so that the pose is believable. In fact, as an overall strategy here, Frazetta maintains a strict contrast between the open, unrendered figure and the very simply shaded/rendered elements that surround her. Jones, on the other hand, fills the spaces between the woman’s arms and her body with black ink, and makes the woman too large for the throne, so that the arms have no space to extend toward the viewer and rest on the arms of the throne in a natural way. What Jones does not seem to realize at this point is that no amount of deep shadow and scratchy rendering can solve bad figure construction.
There are other problems with Jones’s illustration, of course, but I’m just gonna leave it there.
Anyone who has delved into the archive of this site will know that I am a huge admirer of Jones’s work, but what this illustration shows is that everyone has to start somewhere, and that that somewhere is often far distant from where one ends up. In other words, and in short, there’s hope for us all, if only we will do the work.
After I posted the above link, the thought occurred to me that many of those illustrations by Jones are exactly the right proportion for bookmarks. So I used Irfanview to quickly assemble a panoramic image of five of the nicest family-friendly images, added some light grey guidelines so I could cut them out with a box cutter and a metal ruler, printed them off at the highest quality on a full sheet of glossy photo paper, carefully sliced along the guidelines, and basked in the glow of my very own Jones bookmarks.
Jeffrey Jones’s “four seasons” portfolio, World without End, was published by S.Q. Productions in 1980 in a signed-and-numbered limited edition of 1000. The choppy but controlled hatching style here — the antithesis of conventional comic-book rendering/feathering — was typical of Jones’s work at the time; for more examples, see “I’m Age,” the wonderful one-page strip by Jones that appeared in Heavy Metal from 1981 to 1984.
[CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE]
A cheaper, “unlimited,” unsigned edition of World without End was also published, but that one did not include the black-and-white plate displayed above.
Two studies in red conté along with the final painting, which was published in Epic Illustrated #30:
One of the main frustrations of the various books on the art of Jeffrey Jones is the lack of documentation regarding mediums, supports (e.g., masonite, mounted canvas, stretched canvas, whatever), sizes, dates, etc. Trouble is, Jones himself never kept proper records of his work, and his publishers apparently have not had the wherewithal to locate the works in order to fill in the gaps
I believe the oil painting is called The Puritan and was one of a series of paintings by Jones that were based on Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane.
I gave readers a “Heads Up” back on 25 July 2010, and now the regular hardcover edition of Jeffrey Jones: A Life in Art (IDW Publishing, 2011) — a 256-page collection of Jones’s “personal favourites” from a long and celebrated career — is available for purchase at a bookstore near you. I haven’t received my copy yet, but it should be here soon…
I don’t have any dates for the drawings; however, the first pencil drawing below was likely a prelim for Jones’s well-known covers for Wonder Woman #199 and #200 (1972), while the second looks to me like it’s from much later in Jones’s career, perhaps around the time of the story I Bled the Sea.
“After a few years in NYC a friend of mine, a great artist, much older than me, the late Roy G. Krenkel, told me that I was the Master of the Meaningless Gesture. Well, I do this in my art because I don’t want to tell anyone anything. Also in my words, like my poem. I want the people to bring themselves to the work, based on their own experience.” — Jeffrey Jones, autobiography