Jason Pearson, the creator of Body Bags and a founding member of Gaijin Studios, passed away on Dec. 19 at the age of 52. His family revealed that he died on his Facebook page.
“Jason leaves behind a legacy of work that will be cherished by readers for decades to come,” their statement reads, which says he passed away from natural causes. “His hyper-kinetic style and breathless pace will be studied by both aspiring artists and seasoned professionals as long as the comic book medium exists. While sometimes a controversial figure, no one could ever question his commitment to the craft or the quality of work he produced as both a writer and artist.”
Over the years Pearson’s art appeared in comics for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image Comics and Penthouse Comix, among others. His career began in earnest in the early 1990s, working for the now-defunct publisher Innovation as well as for DC on an issue of Starman with Peter David and Keith Giffen, as well as back-up stories in Legion of Super-Heroes with Giffen and co-writers Tom and Mary Bierbaum, during the “Five Years Later” storyline.
Gaijin Studios, an Atlanta-based collective of artists, formed in 1991. Pearson was one of the original members of a group that would include Cully Hamner, Adam Hughes, Tony Harris, Dave Johnson and many other prominent comic artists of the 1990s and 2000s.
“He was great *at everything*. He could draw like nobody’s business in a style that was unique to him,” Hamner wrote on Twitter. “He was an excellent storyteller, draftsman, inker, colorist… you name it. Whatever angle you could come at comic art, he was formidable.”
The studio would propose an anthology series to Image that the publisher ultimately passed on, but Pearson’s contribution would have been Body Bags, which he continued to develop.
Pearson’s art would appear in Maze Agency, Justice League Quarterly, Uncanny X-Men and other titles in the early 1990s. In 1995, he wrote and drew Dragon: Blood & Guts, a miniseries starring Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon:
And in 1996, Body Bags ultimately saw publication, as a launch title for Dark Horse Comics’ Blanc Noir line of books that were produced by Gaijin Studios. The first series would run for four issue, with the final issue being delayed due to Pearson falling ill. A six-issue follow-up never materialized, as Pearson again fell ill during its production and he moved on to other projects once he was well.
In 2005, 12-Gauge Comics would re-release the original miniseries, which was followed by a one-shot that collected some shorter stories that appeared in Dark Horse Presents. Eventually a one-shot featuring new material was released in 2008.
Over the years, Pearson drew many comics for various publishers, including issues and stories of Hellboy, Astonishing X-Men, Global Frequency and Punisher, while also drawing covers for Amazing Spider-Man, Deadpool, Robin and more. In 2010, he worked with writer Duane Swierczynski on the Deadpool miniseries “Wade Wilson’s War.”
But as the death announcement from his family noted, he wasn’t without controversy. In 2015 he launched a Kickstarter for a new Body Bags project that was successfully funded but was never completed. Last year he accused artist Afua Richardson of not paying her dues, starting a heated social media exchange. Over the years Pearson would talk online about his struggles with his mental health, which many creators acknowledged in their tributes to him on social media. And many others paid tribute to the impact he had on them and the industry.