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A compendium of queer people in the 19th and 20th centuries // Drawn and researched by Michele Rosenthal

Jeffrey Catherine Jones

Jeffrey Catherine Jones 1944to –2011

American painter, illustrator, and comic artist, and member of the influential collective, The Studio. She was raised in Atlanta, Georgia with her mother and grandparents, and didn’t meet her father, who was off at war, until she was three. When he did return home, she found him distant and abusive. She graduated college with a degree in geology, and married her college sweetheart, Louise Simonson, who would also go on to work in comics. They had a daughter, and together they moved to New York City so Jones could pursue an art career, though they would divorce shortly after. Jones quickly found work doing illustration for comic pages and paperback covers, particularly in the genres of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, and with a particular talent for drawing women. She was at first pigeonholed as a stand-in for popular fantasy illustrator Frank Frazetta, but her work soon transcended that label, and Frazetta himself later called her “the greatest living painter.” In 1975, she and three other artists began sharing a workspace, which collectively became known as The Studio, an influential force in comic books and commercial art during its short existence. Jones created the enigmatic comic strip Idyl for National Lampoon, and would later return in the 1980s with the even more impenetrable strip I’m Age for the magazine Heavy Metal. When she became disillusioned with commercial work, she turned her attention toward fine art instead. Jones identified as a girl at a young age, and would sometimes dress as a woman under the pretense of posing as reference for artist friends. But for the most part she hid her gender identity behind denial and alcohol, until finally transitioning in 1998, with the support of her second wife Maryellen. She also battled depression throughout her life, and in 2001 she checked herself into a hospital and disappeared from public view. A few years later, she returned to the art world, painting and writing up until her death, propelled by a lifelong drive to create.

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