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John Bolton
Born (1951-05-23) 23 May 1951 (age 71)
London, England, United Kingdom
AwardsInkpot Award (1988)[1]
Official website Edit this at Wikidata

John Bolton (born 23 May 1951 in London, England) is a British comic book artist and illustrator most known for his dense, painted style, which often verges on photorealism[citation needed]. He was one of the first British artists to come to work in the American comics industry,[2] a phenomenon which took root in the late 1980s and has since become standard practice.


Bolton's introduction to comics came about quite casually after he graduated from East Ham Technical College (whose former alumni include Gerald Scarfe, Barry Windsor-Smith and Ralph Steadman) with a degree in graphics and design.

His first works in Great Britain were for magazines like Look In (alongside other British talents such as Arthur Ranson, Angus P. Allan and Jim Baikie), The House of Hammer,[3] and Warrior (edited by Dez Skinn).

In 1981 Marvel Comics' editor Ralph Macchio noticed his work and called him to work for an adaptation of Kull of Valusia for Marvel Preview. After illustrating two Kull stories, Bolton began working on the historical-fantasy character Marada, written by Chris Claremont (author of X-Men). This was published in Epic Illustrated in black-and-white, and then coloured as a Marvel Graphic Novel.

After another fantasy series, Black Dragon (1985), the duo Claremont & Bolton produced some short stories about X-Men's lives for X-Men Classic.[4] This represented the first introduction of Bolton to the world of superheroes. In this period Bolton worked on covers for Eclipse and Pacific publishers, and on the graphic novel Someplace Strange, written by Ann Nocenti (1988).


From 1989 Bolton devoted himself to horror, his favourite genre. Apart from a great number of covers for Dark Horse Comics and adaptations of horror movies, the main work of this period is his collaboration with writer Clive Barker (including the Hellraiser comic book version).

In 1990 Bolton worked on the first episode of The Books of Magic for DC Comics, written by Neil Gaiman. The physical appearance of the protagonist, Timothy Hunter, is that of Bolton's eldest son.[5] In other comic books he has also portrayed his wife and sons.

In 1995 Bolton produced art for the Man-Bat mini-series, written by Jamie Delano for DC Comics. Bolton said he accepted only because the story pivoted on a villain, instead of Batman, who he considered too winning a character.

Later Bolton worked on another Batman book, Batman/Joker: Switch. His latest works include User, written by Devin Grayson, Menz Insana, a mad trip by Christopher Fowler, and Gifts of the Night by Paul Chadwick.

In other media

In 2003, author Neil Gaiman directed A Short Film About John Bolton where the painter (played by John O'Mahony) is interviewed by a reporter seeking to answer "Where do your ideas come from?" The artist is portrayed as very soft-spoken and reclusive, somewhat of a reluctant local celebrity in Crouch End, London. Bolton himself plays a guest interviewed at a gallery showing.


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (October 2008)

Comics work includes:

Bolton has illustrated cards for the Magic: The Gathering collectible card game.


  1. ^ Inkpot Award
  2. ^ Arndt, Richard J. "A 2005 Interview with Steve Bissette about Bizarre Adventures!" Marvel’s Black & White Horror Magazines Checklist. Accessed 8 May 2013.
  3. ^ Dakin, John. "John Bolton: Britain's Foremost Fantasy Artist, from Dracula to the Bionic Woman," The Comics Journal #55 (Apr. 1980), pp. 54–61.
  4. ^ "JOHN BOLTON," The Comics Journal #122 (June 1988), pp. 137–139.
  5. ^ Irvine, Alex (2008), "The Books of Magic", in Dougall, Alastair (ed.), The Vertigo Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 38–41, ISBN 0-7566-4122-5, OCLC 213309015