Future Comic Rock Stars – Mitch Gerads

1381698497Welcome to my weekly column showcasing up and coming or undiscovered talent, bringing to your attention creators that I feel will be break-out stars in the near future. Some are already well on their way to super stardom, while some are just on the outskirts breaking in.

Everyone has a favorite comic book creator. One they’ve discovered recently, or maybe followed from the very beginning of their career. Some have so many favorites it’s hard to choose just one.

Every single one of those creators started somewhere, be it by producing photocopied mini comics to sell at their neighborhood comic shop, getting a table in the artist’s alley at their local comic convention, publishing fan fiction, posting images to deviantart.com, or doing commissions through the internet or at conventions.

I just had to follow up last week’s piece on Evan ‘Doc’ Shaner with his convention tablemate, Mitch Gerads, another artist I discovered through the Comic Twart sketch blog.

1381698499Gerads’ art instantly impressed me, and if you’ve seen it I’m sure it impressed you too. It must have impressed somebody at Marvel Comics, because Mitch is the current artist on the Punisher Marvel Now! relaunch, and he’s killing it! Fresh off a long run on Image’s black-ops thriller, The Activity, with writer Nathan Edmondson, Gerads’ style is a perfect fit for the Punisher.

He’s lent his brush to many companies during his career, including IDW, BOOM! Studios, and even General Mills where he brought children’s ideas to life as comic covers. Gerads provides pencils, inks, and colors for various projects, so he can fully control the style from sketch to finished project, and boy do they look great!

the_punisher_07_cover_by_mitchgerads-d7bgmsaHis characters have a weight to them, as if they are truly living in the page. I mean, check out that “I’m not Daredevil” Punisher variant! You can feel the glare as if he’s looking directly into your soul. You can smell the acrid scent of blood and coffee. His skull emblazoned flack jacket looks as if it would actually stop bullets. That one image tells an entire story, not something many artists can accomplish. He has been blazing a trail for years, and I am happy to see him breaking new ground with each monthly issue.

His covers stand out on the shelf, bringing the elements of logos and cover copy right into the drawing a lot of the time. As a cover artist his work is up there with the likes of Reverend Dave Johnson, but unlike Johnson, we know when we open that cover we’ll be treated to his wonderful interiors as well. He has become a master of storytelling in his relatively short career, with pitch perfect pacing, and a simple yet elegant design aesthetic.

the_activity_7_preview_pg_5_by_mitchgerads-d57qoplHis panels are full to bursting, but never cluttered, always only including what is necessary to tell the story and make the world feel lived in. If someone on the page throws a punch you feel it, if it’s raining your face gets wet. This is an artist that understands what it takes to bring a reader in, to immerse them in a story, and he delivers every time.

Even his commissions and pin-ups are fully formed single image stories. I’m pretty sure half-assed isn’t even in his dictionary.

Mitch Gerads’ work on The Activity was phenomenal, really dense and tense stuff, and with only a few issues of The Punisher seeing print so far I can already tell that book will remain on my must read list until he leaves it. If he keeps producing work of this level, or as I’m sure many levels higher, he will definitely be a fan-favorite, and a future comic rock star.

Next week I’ll bring you another.

Make sure to check out more of his work here and here, and follow him on Twitter.

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