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Thursday, July 23, 2009
  Posted by Matt Kish on 7/23/2009 09:39:00 AM :

       When I Was A Wee Lad #3: Jeff Jones

I've mentioned before that my parents were filthy hippies and that I grew up in a house full of Tolkien paperbacks, prog rock on vinyl (all those awesome Roger Dean covers for the band Yes), toy dinosaurs and more. These things formed the core of some of my very first visual memories, and it's amazing how I still respond so viscerally to some of them today.

It's hard to say just how some of this art influenced me, especially since nothing of what I create looks anything like it either in technique or content. Still, there has to be some kind of connection there even if it is simply an ideaspace kind of thing.

My father was a big fan of Tolkien, but this love of fantasy literature extended well into paperbacks from a whole slew of fantasy and sci-fi writers from the 40s to the 70s. There were always stacks of paperbacks laying around the house, and even an occasional issue of some pulp magazines that he probably dug up at a garage sale. Long before I knew how to read, I would stare and stare at these paintings. One of the artists I remember well from this part of my early childhood was the painter Jeffrey Jones. I guess Jones did a lot of comic work as well, although I know him best from the incredible paintings he did for fantasy paperback and magazine covers. It's easy to see how this first painting influenced me since I've probably been trying to tap into this element of cosmic weirdness with everything I've ever done...

That piece is just brilliant. Beautiful. Haunting. Strange. Everything I look for in art. What's weird is that I specifically remember the book that this painting was the cover for. It was called The Oogenesis of Bird City by Philip Jose Farmer, and I was fascinated by the word "oogenesis." Later I learned that it means "the formation, development, and maturation of an ovum" which is even weirder when you consider its place in the title of that book. I even used a different version of that word for my own drawing "Metalled Oogenitor"...

Again, no real obvious relation to Jones' work, but still a spiritual connection that I continue to feel.

This next piece by Jones is my second favorite of his. It's just staggeringly beautiful, very well done, classic, and a shining example of everything there is to love about tales of knights in shining armor...

I'll close this with a small selection of my favorite Jeff Jones paintings that I found online. There are also some great examples of his comics (some nudity and adult content, maybe NSFW) over on the Golden Age Comic Book Stories blog that are well worth a look. Oh, and one more thing. Some time in the late 90s, Jones, after working through some complicated and traumatic personal issues, had sex reassignment surgery and now lives as Ms. Jeffrey Catherine Jones. Odd, but as long as she's happy, good for her.

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