Jeffrey Durwood Jones was born in 1944 in Atlanta Georgia. Early on she became interested in comics, expressing a lifelong fondness for Little Lulu, Donald Duck and a special affinity for the works of Carl Barks. She graduated Georgia State University at Savannah, where she developed a passion for the great classical painters like Rembrandt, Vermeer, Waterhouse and Whistler. In 1964 Jones married Mary Louise Alexander and in 1967 the couple moved with their daughter Juliana to New York.
Jones' artistic output from the mid 1960s to the late 1970s consisted primarily of comics work for Gold Medal/Fawcett/King and hundreds of lush painted illustrations for nearly every genre of the burgeoning pulp paperback industry. Although it wasn't unheard of for the paperback cover artists of the time to work with multiple genres, Jones' paintings covered the entire spectrum, from her favored sword and sorcery fantasy genre to science fiction, romance, mystery and best sellers.
In 1979 Jones decided to give up commercial art and concentrate on fine art prints and portfolio work. To facilitate this change she shared studio space with Bernie Wrightson, Michael William Kaluta and Barry Windsor-Smith. Collectively known as The Studio, the artistic content produced from this quartet was legendary. The Studio only lasted three years, but its impact on commercial and sequential art can still be seen today.
Jones continued publishing fine art books and prints through the late 1990s. In 1998 she courageously decided to apply for gender reassignment and began hormone replacement therapy. Changing her name legally to Jeffrey Catherine Jones, she sought to put an end to years of internal conflict, but even this didn't bring her peace. In 2001 Jones suffered a nervous breakdown which led to the loss of her home and studio. Fortunately her misfortune was relatively short-lived and she began painting again in 2004. During the final years of her life, Jones was plagued by chronic emphysema and bronchitis. Complicated by hardening of the arteries around her heart, Jones finally succumbed, passing away in 2011.
Jones started working in comics, producing short stories for several Gold Medal/Fawcett/King titles. Her work really took off though once she started publishing sword and sorcery illustrations for many of the late 1960s and early 1970s fanzines. Fantasy Illustrated #4 from 1965 is widely thought to be her first published strip. From there she kept submitting cover paintings and spot illustrations for the fanzines through the mid 1970s when production costs skyrocketed, putting most of them out of business and bringing many of the early fanzine creators into the professional fold. From 1965 her work appeared in:
(1965) ERB-dom #14, 19, 22, 24, 25, 33, 42, 59, 86 an Edgar Rice Burroughs fanzine.
(1967) Amra Vol. 2 #44, 66 a Robert E. Howard fanzine.
(1969) Barsoomian #15 another Burroughs fanzine.
(1970) Abyss #1
(1971) Nucleus the Center of the Fantasy World #6 Edited by Mark Wheatley and Dave Cockrum.
(1971) Phase #1
(1972) Colour Your Dreams #1
(1973) Infinity Vol. 1 #4 Adam Malin and Gary Berman's stellar fantasy fanzine.
(1973) Mirkwood Times #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
(1973) Now and Then Times #2 Edited by Dave Sim.
(1973) Styx #2 Joseph Krolik's fantasy fanzine.
(1976) Infinity Vol. 2 #6
(1976) Voyage #2 Another Edgar Rice Burroughs fanzine published by the same house that did ERB-dom.
(1977) Cosmic Sorcery #1
Jones' comics work continued from her stints at King/Charlton/Gold Key into the Warren magazines. Eschewing the four-color process as limiting and destructive to her art, Jones relegated herself to Warren's black and white magazines, including Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella.During this period she also drew a handful of covers (that used a better coloring and printing process) for DC, as well as occasionally helping friends meet deadlines by taking on inking and finishing duties.
In 1972 Jones debuted her most famous creation for National Lampoon Magazine, Idyl. The strip ran from 1972 to 1976 as one and two page installments. Idyl was unique in that it really had no plot and very little action, taking its humor from one-off gags or situational comedy. Idyl was deeply philosophical sweet and funny. The format would be used to great effect many years later with the television show Seinfeld. Idyl was literally a strip about nothing. Several years later Jones created another long running strip. Debuting in Heavy Metal Magazine, I'm Age ran from 1981 to 1984, detailing the philosophical musings of an uncannily perceptive cave girl and her crew. I'm age was just as funny and sweet as its predecessor.
From the mid 1980s on, Jones' comics work was sporadic at best. She contributed stories for Bernie Wrightson's Heroes For Hope and Heroes Against Hunger projects at Marvel and DC. Her final comics work was a story in the anthology Vertigo Winter's Edge #2.
The pulp paperbacks of the early 1960s and mid 1970s were Jones' stock-in-trade. Much like her contemporaries Frank Frazetta, Kelly Freas, Michael Whelan and later even Howard Chaykin, the paperback houses offered marginally better pay rates and far superior printing to your average comic book. Jones' work during this period spanned hundreds of titles, crossing all genres. Some highlights include:
Uncharted Stars by Andre Norton
The Jewels of Aptor by Samuel R. Delaney
Swords Against Wizardry by Fritz Lieber
The Solarians by Norman Spinraid
Nine Princes In Amber by Roger Zelazny
Satan's Child by Peter Saxon
Jones painted a Star Wars poster that was rejected by Lucasfilm. She painted the movie poster for Dragonslayer in 1981 and had such a miserable time of it working and re-working the painting to fit what the studio wanted that when Ridley Scott called to ask her to work on his movie Legend, she turned him down cold. As it stands, the Dragonslayer poster is her only movie work known.
Over the course of her career, Jones painted steadily , producing many fine art prints and original paintings. Her works are collected in several books, including:
Jeffrey Jones: The Definitive Reference Vanguard Publications, 2013
Jeffrey Jones: A Life In Art, 2011
The Art of Jeffrey Jones, 2002
Age of Innocence: The Romantic Art of Jeffrey Jones, 1994
The Studio, 1979
1986 World Fantasy Award for best artist.