John Totleben

John Totleben
Born (1958-02-16) February 16, 1958
Erie, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Area(s) Penciller, Inker
Notable works
Swamp Thing
Awards Inkpot Award 2004

John Totleben (born February 16, 1958[1] in Erie, Pennsylvania) is an American illustrator working mostly in comic books.


After studying art at Tech Memorial in Erie, Totleben attended The Kubert School for one year. He then spent several years working for comics editor Harry "A" Chesler, producing illustrations for the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam; these never saw print.[2] His first published work appeared in Heavy Metal in January 1979.[3]

His first success in American comics, and still his best-known work, was as the inker of pencilled art by Stephen R. Bissette for the DC Comics title Swamp Thing, when the series was being written and reinvented by Alan Moore; Totleben and Bissette joined the series in 1983[3] shortly before Moore. Totleben's style was unusual for the time, and is still distinctive among U.S. comics artists, for its fluid layouts and heavily detailed rendering using a combination of stippling and hatching. He also painted covers for the series in oils and acrylic, and continues to be a popular cover painter. Totleben inked the story in Swamp Thing #37 (June 1985) which introduced the John Constantine character.[4]

Beginning in 1988, Bissette and Totleben co-created and edited the horror anthology Taboo. It showcased a wide range of writers and artists, from mainstream to semi-underground, and is best known as the original venue for the acclaimed graphic novel From Hell.[5]

Cover to Miracleman #15 (Nov. 1988). Art by Totleben.

Totleben's most ambitious comics project was with Moore again, on the third volume of Miracleman, which he pencilled and inked. Response to his art was so strong that Eclipse Comics retained him as the series' sole artist after changing artists several times in the previous volume despite delays caused by his newly diagnosed eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa.[6]

Though Totleben's eye condition has made him legally blind, it has left his central vision clear enough for him to continue working in his usual style, but much more slowly. He has illustrated a number of titles for DC and Marvel Comics,[3] and worked on Moore's satirical Image Comics series 1963, in which he was described as "'Jaunty' John", the blind "inker without fear".



DC Comics

Eclipse Comics

First Comics

HM Communications, Inc.

Image Comics

Marvel Comics

Spiderbaby Grafix & Publications


  1. Miller, John Jackson (June 10, 2005). "Comics Industry Birthdays". Comics Buyer's Guide. Iola, Wisconsin. Archived from the original on October 29, 2010.
  2. "John Totleben". Lambiek Comiclopedia. 2013. Archived from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
  3. 1 2 3 John Totleben at the Grand Comics Database
  4. Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1980s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. John Constantine, the master magician and future star of Vertigo's John Constantine: Hellblazer, was introduced in a Swamp Thing story from writer Alan Moore, with art by Rick Veitch and John Totleben.
  5. Weiland, Jonah (October 29, 2003). "A Horrific View of Comics: A chat with Stephen Bissette". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on December 24, 2013.
  6. Khoury, George (2001). Kimota!: The Miracleman Companion. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 8. ISBN 978-1893905115.
  7. 1 2 "1985 Jack Kirby Awards". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on March 4, 2012.
  8. 1 2 "1986 Jack Kirby Awards". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on March 4, 2012.
  9. 1 2 "1987 Jack Kirby Awards". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on March 4, 2012.
  10. "Inkpot Award Winners". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012.

External links

Preceded by
Scott Hampton
The Saga of the Swamp Thing/
Swamp Thing inker

Succeeded by
Alfredo Alcala
Preceded by
Rick Veitch
Miracleman artist
Succeeded by
Mark Buckingham
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