(one of Johnny's fab covers for the Megazine)
At the age of 28 John started to suffer from various aches and pains, but it wasn't until 2000 that he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (which he descibed as a "terrorist, medieval disease"). The cold way in which he was told haunted him for the rest of his life "The doctor, a locum, just stared at her computer screen and never once looking at me, she said 'You've got MS. You'll be dead in 12 to 15 years'". but he battled on, and never gave up his art. Indeed, it seemed to give him the strength to carry on "I haven't got MS when you are looking at my pictures. I haven't got MS when I am drawing them. I am getting out a lot of rage through the pen." His battle with MS was documented in a More4 film titled "Here's Johnny". It was filmed over 5 years and I was lucky enough to catch it when it was shown last year (and even still had it on my Sky+ box until in was replaced a few weeks back)... it was a very humbling experience.
John spent the last year of his life working on a graphic novel titled "One Hundred Months". Once this project was complete, he arranged to go to the Dignitas suicide clinic in Switzerland. This had always been the plan, in the documentary, John said "I'm not worried about losing my life, I'm worried about losing my demeanour, my mind, my interaction with life."
In his tribute to John, 2000AD founder Pat Mills called him "the Jimi Hendrix of comic artists. Easy viewing comic 'muzak' he's not. His grotesque images bear comparison with Gerald Scarfe and Ralph Steadman and are not for the squeamish."
John was married, lived in Brighton, and was younger than me. He was a very brave and talented man.
Rest In Peace Johnny.....
Here's Johnny is available on a very limited edition DVD (just 1000 copies made), you can find out more about it and view a trailer on the official site for the film here.