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Month of Art Stars: Artist’s Choice – Kelley Jones

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 Chris Bachalo, who has been a star artist for a number of companies, whether it be drawing Death for Vertigo or co-creating Generation X for Marvel, Chris’ unique style sets him apart from the rest of the comic book art world. He is currently working on Amazing Spider-Man while doing various other works for Marvel. Here‘s his website.

Chris’ pick is Kelley Jones.

Kelley Jones really is also a unique artist, although his extremely stylized artwork is reminiscent of Bachalo’s work, which makes it reasonable that Chris would recommend Kelley.

Like Bachalo, Kelley Jones first got a lot of notice from doing Vertigo work, including a storyline in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.

Jones received a great deal of notoriety when he drew Doug Moench’s trilogy of Batman as a vamprie stories – Batman and Dracula: Red Rain, Batman: Bloodstorm and Batman: Crimson Mist.

Jones became the cover artist on Batman and ultimately had a significant run with Moench on the title.

Since then, Jones has kept busy with projects for various companies, while writer Steve Niles seems to have really taken a liking to Jones’ dark and moody style.

Jones drew parts of Niles’ ongoing Criminal Macabre series…

And most recently, he and Niles teamed up for a year-long Batman maxi-series, bringing Jones back to the Batman character…

Jones’ dark, stylized art really works well for Batman.

He also did a Conan mini-series…

And even a creator-owned series for Dark Horse that he wrote and drew!!

Thanks to Chris for the pick!

I can’t seem to find a website for Kelley. Ah well. Bill Reed picked Kelley as one of his 365 Reasons to Love Comics! You can check that out, at least!


Love Jones. Second only to Breyfogle (and above Neal Adams!) as my favorite Batman artist, and the best of the many outstanding artists to have worked on The Sandman. Kelley Jones was born to draw horror comics.

There’s a Bats cover he did during Knightfall of Batman drowning with rats scarmbling all over his cowl that’s just exhilirating. I think Graham Nolan did the superb interiors, but nothign compared tot he cover. One of the best claustrophobic drawings I’ve ever seen.


Nice! I dig his work big time! I loved his run on Batman.

Kelley Jones does great horror comics. He did some “Deadman” work with Mike Baron that I loved.

I miss The Crusades…

The art is very good, make no mistake, but what’s up with Batman’s ears? Is he storing old-fashioned radio antennae in them?

Kelley was around wayyyyyy before Vertigo. Micronauts: the New Voyages was a beautiful book.

Jones’ style isn’t my personal cup of tea, but I respect the man nevertheless.

I love his work for “Dream of 1,000 Cats” at the very least, and his Batman was great at times – Red Rain was fantastic.

Love Kelley’s Batman look (esp. the gigantic ears). I was very happy to see his style get highlighted in the Batmite episode of B:B&tB.

I always like it when the urban legend/horror aspect of Batman comes to the fore, and Jones is a master of depicting that version of the Dark Knight.

Glad he made the list this month. Good call on Bachalo’s part there.

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 19, 2009 at 10:27 am

Enjoyed his series The HAMMER from Dark Horse.

Probably one of the best horror-gothic artist there is after Berni Wrightson.

Matt Bird: I still have my run of Micronauts: The New Voyages! Lovers of Mantlo’s Micronauts hated it. I thought it was a pretty smart series, not least for realizing that the only hope anyone had of making a successful Micronauts series post-Mantlo was to make it completely unlike the first series. (And boy, there are few writers more different from Bill Mantlo than Peter Gillis.)

Jones’ art had an edge to it even then, but it got considerably darker soon thereafter.

Anyone remember the aborted series Chrome that he illustrated for (I think) Hot Comics?

I like Bachalo, I like Jones. I like them both more now!

Not many artists could pull off a mile-long cape and yard-high bat-ears, but Kelley Jones does, every time.

When’s that Moench/Jones Batman reunion mini thing that was announced so long ago going to come out?

The Hammer was awesome. Would love to see more.. Jones wrote it too!

First became aware of Kelley when he did Micronauts, btw…. before any Vertigo work.

I loved him on SANDMAN, but haven’t seen much of his work since. I always thought he was good on the Batman covers, but no so much on the interiors. A little Jones goes a long way for me, I guess.

Kelley Jones is great. His Batman is so ridiculous that it ends up being one of the best, I think.

Michael Rawdon, don’t ask me to choose between Mantlo and Gillis, they’re two of my favorites. On the surface, they may seem very different, but I think Mantlo was more subversive than he was usually given credit for and Gillis always backed up his weirdness with solid storytelling fundamentals, so they actually had a lot in common.

Great design, but Kelly’s storytelling leaves a lot to be desired. Much like Bachalo, I guess.

"O" the Humanatee!

June 19, 2009 at 5:42 pm

What Kolya said.

Sorry but this is the first one in the series I have to disagree with. When it comes to storytelling, clarity, panel to panel continuity and basic anatomy, Kelley Jones is slightly better than Rob Liefeld. Yet somehow he gets way more respect. To his credit though, at least he can do backgrounds and Liefeld can’t.

[…] original here: Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources » Month of Art Stars … Connect and […]

I didn’t mind him on Sandman or Red Rain (I think Malcolm Jones was inking him back then?) but Kelly Jones’s artwork led to me dropping Batman, which I’d followed from the age of 12. Now that I think about it, that was the catalyst that made me start dropping other books until I went four or five years comic free…

Yep, Kelly Jones’s Batman art killed my childhood.

Dream of a Thousand Cats was awesome, though.

Am I the only one who thinks that his work often looks like a poor man’s Sam Keith?

I think that’s a great way to look at him: a poor man’s Sam Keith mixed with a rich man’s Rob Liefeld. I also dropped Batman because of him. Seeing Batman with 18 abs and a double length ribcage wasn’t enjoyable to me.

Hmm… Sam Keith makes me think of Frank Frazetta, but Kelly Jones is more of a Bernie Wrightson style artist to me. There’s definitely something in there though.

"O" the Humanatee!

June 23, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Bernie Wrightson’s two main influences are Graham Ingels and Frank Frazetta, and Kelley Jones is definitely influenced by Wrightson above all. So there should be some second-hand Frazetta influence on Jones – except that he seems to have abandoned any allegiance to the strong anatomy of Frazetta.

i don’t think Kelly’s a poor man’s ‘sam kieth’ or … poor man’s ‘anybody’.

I think he’s his own guy, artistically speaking. Your not going to confuse his batman with anybody else – Heck, i could never touch the stuff he does now! i actually prefer his batman to mine. And I’m not just saying that cause i know him. Or cause i like weird art. But i do. Both.

And what’s wrong with a crap load of abs? Course that’s just me. : )

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