John Beatty is an American illustrator born in Whitesburg, Kentucky who has worked for Marvel Comics and DC Comics,
Beatty was born and lived in Letcher County, Kentucky for less than a year when his family moved to Holly Hill, Florida, a small city located in between Daytona Beach and Ormond Beach.
Beatty and his family remained in Holly Hill, and John graduated from Mainland Senior High School in 1979. It was already clear that Beatty would pursue a career as an artist. Beatty had, at this point, already made his first “professional sell” and begun working as a professional artist. Beatty had been hired by Camelot Publishing to do cartoons for computer instruction manuals when he was just 15 years old. This gig turned into after school employment during Beatty’s high school years.
Beatty’s goal was to become a comic book artist. He discovered and fell in love with the comic strips Dennis the Menace and Peanuts. It wasn’t until later that Beatty discovered superhero comic books when a friend who lived up the street sold Beatty a box of comics for $20.00.
Not long after his discovery of the world of fanzines, Beatty wrote and drew a short comic story starring the hero Crime Smasher. In short order, the Crime Smasher story was printed in Tim Corrigan’s Super Hero Comics! Jerry Ordway had a story published in the same issue. Ordway was also starting up his own self-published comic book, titled “OK Comics!” Soon Beatty and Ordway began communicating through the mail. Beatty also connected with artist Mike Zeck, through the RBCC (Rocket’s Blast Comicollector), a “pro-zine” of sorts. Zeck encouraged Beatty to continue drawing. Zeck even sent xeroxed pencils of his work to Beatty, so Beatty could ink samples for practice and critiques.
Around this time, Beatty had, for a couple of years, been going to OrlandoCon, an annual comic book convention held in Orlando, Florida. Beatty and his long-time friend, Craig Zablo (creator of Stallonezone, a Sylvester Stallone fansite), would go over and make a weekend of it. Beatty and Craig headed over to OrlandoCon and John decided to take some art samples to show the professional artists, such as Pat Broderick and Bob McLeod (who were living on the west coast of Florida in Tampa).
This was also the con where Beatty met AC Comics publisher and artist Bill Black. Beatty showed samples to Black and was offered inking work on the spot. Beatty would get to ink Bill’s pencils at a rate of $7.00 per page.
Beatty’s destiny seemed to lining up rather quickly… Bob McLeod tagged him to start doing some assistant work, such as filling in blacks and erasing pages. Soon McLeod even let Beatty do some background work from time to time!
It was now 1980. Everything was falling into place and all events were leading up to a big break. Beatty decided to head down to the annual MiamiCon. He knew that Marvel Comics’ editor-in-chief Jim Shooter would be there, and Beatty planned to show him new samples of his work. (Shooter had reviewed Beatty’s work the previous year and said Beatty was not quite ready.) So Beatty presented Shooter with new samples. Shooter looked over Beatty’s art and said: “If you can come up to New York, I’ll give you a paid try out to work on.” In July 1980, Beatty made the journey, and with the help of Mike Zeck got some gigs from both Marvel and DC.
Beatty is not currently working on a “monthly”, though he spent twenty years doing so on titles such as Captain America, The Punisher, Secret Wars, The Nam, The Adventures of Superman, Batman, JLA, and many, many more.
Currently, Beatty works for the DC Comics Licensing Department, where style guide art is created. This art is used for many things, including package design, clothing, and other things which DC needs to supply to its vendors. *
*Addition: In mid March of 2011, I found out that DC Comics Licensing Dept. had outsourced all the work I and some others had been doing for them. This left a huge void in my “eggs in one basket” work. Since this time, I have been working freelance as a “gun for hire”. Clients are big and small, I create different work to suit the needs of each. This will be John Beatty’s debut appearance at Atlanta Comic Con!