Artist Jeffrey Veregge, a member of the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, died on April 12, 2024, of a heart attack, his family announced on his Facebook page.

Veregge grew up on the Port Gamble S’Klallam reservation, near Kingston, Washington; the S’Klallam are part of a larger Native American group known as Salish.  He studied industrial design at the Art Institute of Seattle, receiving his AA degree with honors in 2000.  “I went to school because I wanted to be an action-figure designer or Disney imagineer,” he said in a 2018 interview with Smithsonian Magazine.  “I wanted something fun, playful. My portfolio was all Star Wars, Star Trek and comic books.”

In 2001, he began an apprenticeship with Master Tsimishian Carver David Boxley, learning the Indigenous style known as formline, which uses ovals, U-shapes, and S-shapes as well as carefully planned negative space.  After that, he worked as a graphic designer and studio manager while doing commissions for a number of clients, including Nike, PBS, and Viacom.  His first comics work was for Judge Dredd, and he soon was doing covers for a number of publishers. In 2015, he was both a consultant and cover artist for Marvel’s revival of Red Wolf (see “Red Wolf Will Star in Marvel Comic”).  He continued to do cover work for Marvel, including a set of Native American variants in 2020 (see “Preview: Marvel’s ‘Native American Heritage Tribute’ Variant Covers”), as well as covers for IDW Publishing, Valiant Entertainment, and other publishers.

In addition to his comics work, Veregge created murals and public art. In 2018 he did a gallery show at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York that incorporated Marvel characters and Salish motifs; two 50-foot murals from that show were acquired for the Smithsonian’s permanent collection.

Three years later, in 2021, Veregge was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the autoimmune disease lupus.  The disease attacks the body’s organs, and Veregge received liver and kidney transplants, spending the majority of the time since the onset of his illness in the hospital. He leaves his wife, Christina, and three children.

In a statement on his website, Veregge explained the philosophy behind his art:

For thousand[s] of years Native and Non-Native storytellers have used art as a means to share the tales of their people. For me I am carrying on a tradition that started with my ancestors by simply using the means of today and all its modern conveniences to share the tales that I love.

Art evolves, tools get better, but the essence of what I do is the same as those who did it on the canvases nature provided for them to tell the stories of gods and heroes long, long ago.