There was a period of about 20 years in my life when the comic art form was extremely important in my life. One of the most impressive people working was Jeff Jones. I think I met him only once, at the FantaCon comic convention in Albany in 1980.
But FantaCo, where I worked in the 1980s, published at least two of his stories, in the anthologies Gates of Eden and Deju Vu. The covers were done by Michael Kaluta and Bernie Wrightson, respectively, two of his colleagues in something called The Studio. And both titles, on a purely commercial level, were abject failures, though brilliant on an aesthetic one.
So I lost track of Jeffrey Jones by 1994. I didn’t know, for instance, that he was undergoing hormone therapy for gender reidentification. A friend of mine, who knew Jones, tells of being at a big comic convention. Jeff was in transition to becoming Catherine, and one could see the discomfort on some folks’ faces. One of the dealers asked my friend if he could talk to Jeff and kind of break the ice among the dealers/Jeff/the public, which he happily did. After a while, more people came over. He introduced Jeff to some of the dealers he knew, and Jeff ended up with a crowd. My friend wrote, “I will miss his work and such a nice person.”
Apparently, from the reports I’ve read, things got easier as she became more evident. I’m happy about that; I can only imagine how difficult that must have been. I met a guy at a conference, actually around the same time as the Jones transition, then a couple of years later, at the same event, he had become a she, and she told me at length how her colleagues were not exactly supportive, to say the least.
Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter remembers Jones, who died this week at the age of 67. Interestingly, Spurgeon always uses “she”, which I suppose makes sense. (Beats writing he/she a lot.)