After a hiatus from comics following his work for Dark Horse, Akins returned the field in recent years to work on the successful and award-winning series Fables by writer Bill Willingham for DC/Vertigo Comics. He is currently artist of the popular Fables spin-off series Jack of Fables, which position he has held since the series began.
A Chicago native of Afro-Caribbean/Irish ancestry, Akins' father, Douglas Akins, was a sign painter, graphic designer and pioneering African American cartoonist at the Chicago Defender through the 1940s to 1960s before becoming the paper's Society Editor. Educational information on Akins is limited. Although in interviews he has stated that he is autodidactic. He has association with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago through its Co-Op program. He also taught at the School in the early 1990s.
Some information leads to a long-time founding membership with the "statiCCreeps", a shadow-guild of artist/creators that pioneered a hybrid of Japanese manga in mainstream American comics during the late 1980s to early 1990s. The only published work by Akins that shows evidence of this is in Comico Comics Red Dragon which was written by Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets) in 1992. At Comico Akins also worked on Elementals, another Bill Willingham creation, as penciller and cover artist.
Akins drew the first comic book adaptation of Terminator for NOW Comics after a critically acclaim stint on Rust with writer Fred Schiller. For First Publishing (also in Chicago) he works on titles such as Mundan's Bar and one of a rarefied cadre of guest artists on the venerable Mike Baron/Steve Rude series Nexus.
At Dark Horse Akins worked across licensed sci-fi titles from Aliens (Colonial Marines) to Star Wars (Tales of the Jedi: The Freedon Nadd Uprising) and pencilled the adaptation of Andrew Vachss' story "Warlord" (the only play written by Vachss) in the Hardboilded series for Dark Horse. The use of light sabers to cut through metal barriers can be seen in his work on ToJ, prior to the film sequels and the first re-articulation of joint anatomy on the creature form Alien.
Akins left comics shortly afterwards and returned storyboarding to ride out the "bust" in the comic book industry in the late 1990s. He returned to comics with Fables #22 as a guest artist. Landed on Hellblazer: Papa Midnight, a limited series for Vertigo, then returned to Fables for the "War Stories" storyline (which can be found in the Mean Season trade paperback) before the start-up of Jack of Fables.
Akins is known for contribution designs for tech and mecha to the works of well-known comics artist/painter Alex Ross.
Tony Akins' official website/blog: http://tonyakins.blogspot.com/