Kenneth Elliot Jones was an artist at war for humanity’s soul. On October 30th, 2019, at the age of 46, Ken ended his fight here on earth and passed into the great beyond. Although born in Omaha Nebraska on May 18 1973, Ken was a proud Californian. He lived in Fresno, Long Beach and San Diego, California for many years. Recently he moved to Elk Grove to be near family. Ken died from complications of years-long heart disease.
“It’s a magical world out there, Hobbes. Let’s go exploring” — Bill Watterson
Like great artists, Ken had the singular ability to see the true nature of the universe and through his work he fought hard every day to celebrate life’s beauty, its joy, and its infinite wonderment. When he laughed it was with the fullness of his being. When he loved, it was with the fullness of his heart. For those who knew him, and more still for those who were lucky enough to love him; we bore witness to one of the most talented, most passionate and most intelligent human beings to ever express themselves through art.
“Art is the marriage of passion and skill” —Unknown
From youth, Ken was creative. At age 2, he wrote his first story (a 4-page book of squiggly lines and a story he dictated to his mother). At age 9, he began his drawing career. The early drawings featured people with hair blowing across their faces, because, Ken explained, he hadn’t yet figured out how to draw faces! His first love was writing and art, so he and several friends created a comic book/art studio in his home. This collection of lifelong friends/studio continued for several years into early adulthood; some were accepted at professional schools, others worked on showing art portfolios to potential employers. Ken continued honing his craft while working jobs in construction, manufacturing and retail.
No single medium could contain Ken’s passion. Ken was an illustrator, a writer, a philosopher, a historian, a film bough, a political junkie and an ardent music lover. Ken had a deep affinity for American football; the one true gamification of war. Kenneth understood that for art to ever achieve its goal of progressing humanity, for society to evolve beyond its barbaric tribalism, for civilization to ever permanently challenge the jungle for supremacy, for love to conquer hate, the artist had to fight relentlessly to hold up a mirror to nature.
Ken thrived in battle. He loved the human effort that was required in contact sports particularly NFL and MMA. He especially loved a good war movie like Braveheart, Apocalypse Now, and Lord of the Rings. Ken was a great debater and wise beyond his years. He was a voracious reader. He read Will Durant’s 11-volume Story of Civilization--twice! His favorite genres were history and politics. Ken was often found having friendly debates arguing how Black Thought from the roots is the all time best rap lyricist, or which Diaz brother would win in an upcoming UFC, or which Hollywood screenwriter is best suited to adapt Mark Millar’s latest graphic novel. In all of Ken’s arguments he would have detailed, well thought out reasonings for his case. Ken believed that the science of art is conflict and like diamonds made from coal it is in the highly pressurized competing forces that aesthetic is produced.
“Luminous Beings are we, not this crude matter” —Yoda
Ken did not just use his talent to express only in the professional sense. On a personal level, Ken was deeply empathetic to others. Ken was an excellent communicator and full of compassion so if there was any moment in the life of a close friend, beloved family or total stranger, if there was ever a moment where doubt or fear prevented them from reaching their full potential--Ken accepted this challenge as his own and fought with every ounce of his being to be a force for good. Even the potential you could not see or hadn’t quite noticed, Kenneth would show it to you in Rembrandt detail. He would express to you in a conversation, with his humor, his uncanny ability to listen, to understand, Ken would reveal to you the power inside yourself because chances are that is all he could ever see.
Ken didn’t care about appearances. His ‘go to’ outfit was a pair of sneakers, some jeans in need of an iron and an old favorite t-shirt. He was nonjudgmental, welcoming to others, accepting, and kind. Ken was fascinated by large abstract concepts like love, loyalty, integrity. That was what was important to him. He couldn’t see the superficial. Socially Ken loved to grapple with the moral issues of our time and on a personal one-on-one basis Ken loved to just hang out and chat about what others thought were important because chances are Ken’s tireless mind had developed thoughts on the subject. Ken loved to express his point of view and the only thing he loved more than that was to understand someone else’s. Ken loved people. His energy came from being around loved ones and friends. Ken thrived on conversations about history, music, sports, comics, arts and science.
“San. Dee. Aygo. Soopah! Chaaah! Jerz!” —Ken Jones
No person loved the San Diego Chargers more fully. Not just for their hall of fame athletes like LaDanian Tomlinson, Junior Seau and Phillip Rivers, Kenneth appreciated the talent of the nameless walk on players, the third-string players traded to other teams because they once bore the bolt and fought for the powder blue. Ken followed the Chargers religiously, obsessively even, and every Sunday would invest his hope and optimism in a team that had only one Superbowl appearance in franchise history and had never won a Superbowl. Although frequently in error, Ken was never in doubt. He supported the Chargers to his dying day.
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” —Abraham Lincoln
Ken was loved and respected by everyone who met him. He saw meeting new people as an opportunity to learn more about them and the world. He had a silly sense of humor and an infectious laugh. Ken would effortlessly lighten a heated disagreement and make an acquaintance feel like they had a new best friend. At home, he had the ability to identify and resolve issues without needless discussion.
“The world is a fine place and worth fighting for” —Ernest Hemmingway
Ken wanted what was best for the world. To know this all you had to do is ask him or take a look at his art. Kenneth and his friends went on to publish comics, design videogames and establish loving families. They remained close friends up until his death.
Kenneth is survived by his mother, Ida M. Jones, Elk Grove, CA; his brothers, John Eugene Jones, Fresno, CA and Kamali A. Jones, Elk Grove, CA; his sister, Jamilla M. Jones, Fresno, CA; and uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews.
Ken’s Celebration of Life Ceremony will be on December 14, 2019 at 11:00 a.m.at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno in Fresno, CA.
Please do not send flowers. To honor Ken, in lieu of flowers, make a donation in his name and keep up the fight. Using the name (Kenneth Elliott Jones) donate to the American Heart Association or UCDavis Health Center.