autobiographical essay on her website jeffreyjones-art.com.  "Maybe I was born with a kind of gender inversion— some call it a birth defect.  I know nothing of these things.  I do know that my identification has always been with females— in books,  movies, art and life.  My best friends have always been female and I have always been exclusively physically attracted to females.  So, along comes puberty.  Whoa!  We were all confused, I know, but within that maelstrom was my desire for, and the desire to be, a girl... In August of 1998 I decided to stop the denial and start living as a woman... After extensive tests, both mental and physical, I started hormonal gender re-assignment therapy...  People have been

 unimaginably supportive, and slowly that shame is passing away.  My wife, Maryellen, has been my backbone through all of this..."
Jeffrey Catherine Jones may have seemed to be an overnight sensation, but her artistic beginnings date back many years before her work became a mainstay of paperbacks, magazines, and comics. "As a kid, I liked to draw," Jones said. "That's not unusual, because all kids like to draw, but I liked to draw more than most... I did my first comic strip when I was five years old. It was a one page humor strip with a character I created named Homer. It was kind of fun, but after I did that, I didn't do any more comics for years...
"In the 11th grade, I met B.B. Sams. He was an incredible artist—just incredible. He really inspired me, and he influenced my work more than any other single person.
"I started doing art for fanzines in the early 1960s. I told my father I was going to be an artist and he discouraged that; he was of the generation that grew up in the Depression, so security was very important to him... I was in my first year of college, going to my classes, and I had a kind of a nervous breakdown and ended up in the psychiatrist's office at Emory University; after a few visits and some long talks, it really came to light that I really wanted to be an artist and wasn't going to be happy doing anything else."
Jones knew that relocation was necessary to succeed in commercial art. "In those days, New York was where everything was published, and if you wanted to do commercial art, that was where you could get your start. You had to peddle your
wares— walk up to the art director and sell yourself and your work. Soon after I got there, I got paperback cover work from Ace Books and comics work from Archie Goodwin at Warren, so I started my career right there.
"I can still remember coming back from seeing Archie at the Warren offices, and he had given me a script. I sat at my drawing table and just freaked out, thinking, What am I going to do now? I have to draw professionally!' So I did the splash page three or four times and finally got something that I liked, from there, the rest of the story flowed. I took it intro the offices, Archie bought it, nd that's where it began."
While some attempted to categorize Jones as a Frazetta imitator, her work differed from

 

Frazetta's in design and in execution. "I was going through a lot of influences at the time. I had my N.C. Wyeth influence, my Frank Frazetta influence, my Gustav Klimt influence, my Alphonse Mucha influence. The more artists I saw, the more I would try to incorporate elements of their work into my own. I wasn't imitating them, though; I would learn something that they had brought to their work, but I would leave their style behind and take what I had learned, then incorporate it into what I wanted to do."
In 1968, Jones began a long association with the work of Robert E. Howard. "When I did Donald Grant's edition of Red Shadows, I got a lot of work from other companies as well," Jones said. "A lot of publishers were trying to get Robert E. Howard's non-Conan stories into print, and I got a lot of those cover assignments."
Ironically, Jones' impressive body of Robert E. Howard illustration includes very few depictions of Howard's flagship character, Conan. Was it Jones' choice not to do Conan, or was it just coincidental? "I think it happened both ways," Jones said. "The books that were given to me—Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, the stuff that Howard wrote that was not Conan—well, that's what I was given to illustrate. But Frank Frazetta owned Conan; everyone knew that Frazetta was the Conan man. But there was a lot of Howard material coming out, so I ended up doing a lot of those covers."
In spite of a long association with Howard's work, Jones isn't really an avid fan of sword and sorcery and heroic fantasy, the two genres with which Howard was most closely associated. "All along, I was much, much more
 

interested in Edgar Rice Burroughs. Here was this guy, Tarzan, who had been abandoned in the wilderness, and he grew up alone and had to fend for himself. As a kid, I felt the same way; I really identified with Tarzan, so I enjoyed drawing and painting Tarzan much more than any of the barbarian heroes. I saw Tarzan as a graceful, feral, and I tried to depict that. He was leaner than the barbarians, he didn't have the bulk, and he was so lithe as he moved through the jungle. And there was the fact that he was royalty in England, which gave a whole other dimension to him."
Many readers discovered Jones through the distinctive, esoteric, and unpredictable Idyl, a comic strip that appeared in National Lampoon for several years. How did the strip come about? "National Lampoon

actually approached me to do a one page comic," Jones said. "I enjoyed doing it immensely. I never wanted to do superhero stories; they just didn't appeal to me.
"National Lampoon asked me and Bobby London and Kaluta and Rodriguez and a lot of people; we went in with ideas, and mine was Idyl. Some of the guys jumped out and didn't stick with it. I continued, though, because I was having a lot of fun. I thought that National Lampoon was great; I got to draw naked women, I got to do what I wanted, and I got paid for it!"
In addition to spotlighting Jones' commercial and comics art, The Art of Jeffrey Jones also includes an impressive selection of Jones' portrait and landscape work. The landscape work, in particular, is quite different from Jones' commercial work. "I think it's because the landscapes are painted in the field, and you've got to get it done fast," Jones said. "The light's changing, things are moving, bugs are landing in your face, winds are blowing the easel over—you have to work very quickly..."
Jones still paints and draws today, producing work that she enjoys rather than producing pieces on demand to satisfy the whims of an art director or an editor. She's quite happy to be removed from the demands of commercial art, responding instead to the urgings of her own muse. " I enjoy it when people like my work," Jones wrote on her website, "because I want to have added something to this world, or whatever gave me life, instead of just taking from it.  Every work, hopefully, will leave me unsatisfied.  This drives me on to the next one.  As soon as I think I've done something great it'll all be over."
The Art of Jeffrey Jones, a $49.99 hardcover offering more than 250 pages of Jones art, including never-before-published pieces, is slated
for late November release; IDW will also offer a $79.99 signed edition.To find a comic shop near you, try the Comic Book Locator Service.

by Cliff Biggers

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Along Came Jones
 The 1960s were a glorious decade for paperback cover illustration. Frank Frazetta and Roy Krenkel reimagined the worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs with a series of striking covers for Ace Books. From there, Frazetta provided the quintessential barbarian images for Lancer's Conan paperbacks. At Bantam, James Bama updated Doc Savage for a new generation of readers. Leo & Diane Dillon brought their imaginative sense of design to play for Ace's SF Specials line.
And a new artist, Jeffrey Jones, burst upon the scene with some of the most striking art on paperback shelves. After a modest beginning in 1967, Jones became a mainstay of virtually every publisher in the SF/fantasy field, supplying scores of paperback covers and hundreds of pages of comics art before gradually moving away from commercial illustration in the 1970s, returning only infrequently after that.
Jones' work, both commercial and fine art, is spotlighted in Jeffrey Jones—A Life in Art, a comprehensive study prepared and edited by Desperado Publishing's Joe Pruett and published by IDW.
Originally known as Jeff Jones, then Jeffrey Jones, the artist has in more recent years found balance in her life as Jeffrey Catherine Jones. "I knew I wanted to be a girl," Jones explained in an