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A Month of Art Stars – Ryan Sook

Every day this month I’m going to feature a current comic book art “star,” someone whose work I absolutely love.

I’m mostly going to try to keep from the biggest names as much as possible, because, really, do I need to talk more about the awesomeness of JH Williams, Frank Quitely and Darwyn Cooke?

In honor of not re-inventing the wheel, this is basically a reprinting of a Reason to Love Comics fill-in I did last year.


When Ryan Sook first burst on to the comic scene, he was mostly compared to Mike Mignola, which comes as no surprise, as Sook himself admits that he was greatly influenced by Mignola’s work. In fact, Mignola even got Sook INTO comics, helping him show his samples to DC, which snared Sook a fill-in job at DC on an issue of Challengers of the Unknown (the one that was part of the Millennium Giants storyline, actually!)

365 Reasons to Love Comics #277


After that Sook actually worked WITH Mignola over at Dark Horse, working on a Dark Horse Presents story together.

Sook used his Mignola-esque style on a number of Buffy the Vampire Slayer stories for Dark Horse….


an issue of Superman with J.M. DeMatteis that led to him working with DeMatteis on Spectre for DC for a year…



But by the end of his Spectre run, he had moved beyond simply Mignola-esque artwork, with a more rounded art style…


He used this style in launching BPRD, where he was handpicked by Mignola, becoming the first artist to draw Mignola’s Hellboy creations in a series other than Mignola….


Sook’s style continued to develop, though, and soon, he had an even newer style of art.

Here is the new style, from an arc he did on Hawkman…


Here is Sook talking about the change in an interview at Comic Book Resources

My drawing style seems to continually evolve for lots of reasons, time, practice, inspiration. Mostly though I am trying these days to rely less on other comic art to influence my decisions and allow the story and the scripts to dictate the art direction. Trying to convey the emotions and mood of a scene (none being more or less easy) is really important to telling a story well, that’s usually what I’m thinking about when I’m setting a scene. Everything else is purely trying to draw something in a beautiful way.

Sook used this new style on an Arkham Asylum series, X-Factor for Marvel, and a Seven Soldiers mini-series for DC starring Zatanna.


Since he finished work on X-Factor awhile back, Sook has mostly been working on comic book covers and advertisements. His expert sense of design and flair fits this line of artwork perfectly.

Here is a series of ads he did for DC…




Remarkably cool, huh?

Here are a number of his covers for Dark Horse Comics and DC Comics…




He is one of the best cover artists working in comics today.

All these images are courtesy of Sook’s amazingly thorough website. Here is his website, where you can see even MORE of his amazing artwork.

After I wrote the preceding piece last year, J.M. DeMatteis dropped me a line to tell me how great Sook was to work with on Spectre. He also noted I used an incorrect piece of art (hey, Sook had it mis-labeled, too!), but that’s besides the point! If J.M. DeMatteis thinks you’re a great collaborator, you must be!


A truly brilliant artist, however I should mention that I find his version of Wolfsbane to be quite ugly. But that’s the only complaint, i really enjoyed his run on X-Factor. And those covers and ads are AWESOME.

Oh lord, his Wolfsbane was so annoying!

And then Dennis Calero followed him on X-Factor and kept Sook’s horrible Wolfsbane!!


Luckily, Wolfsbane looks a lot cooler nowadays.

My only real experience with him was on X-Factor, and I really liked his style on it for the most part. I just wish he had drawn more than 1 complete issue.

I really like this guy’s art. Good call!

Utterly adored his Zatanna… And his Spectre… Never seen the Nightwing cover before – subtle!

I *hate* how Wolfsbane is drawn in X-Force. I much preferred the X-Factor version.

What’s Sook’s next project?

He’s mostly doing small sequential stuff here and there while still doing covers and such.

He recently did a MagdalenaWitchblade short story for Top Cow. Gorgeous work, as usual.

Love seeing his evolution as an artist… from being a Mignola-clone (not that that’s a bad thing) to someone who definitely has more confidence in his own sensibilities.

Might I suggest doing a Brandon Peterson retrospective next? Of all the “me-too!” guys obviously influenced by the Homage Studios guys (Lee, Portacio, Silvestri) from the early 1990s, I think he’s the one who has shown the most development.

While he still retains some “Jim Lee-isms” in his current work, I’d go so far to say that he’s improved his technique and grown as an artist so much more than the guys he used to idolize and he’s surpassed them in many respects.

One of my all time favorite single issues is The Spectre #13 with Sook and DeMatteis. This was a standalone story with free floating prose accompanying Ryan’s amazing images, AWESOME!

Justin, DeMatteis actually singled out that issue as what he felt was the best issue they did together, so you’re in good company with that position. :)

I gotta love an artist that bothers to include HEELS on Black Canary’s boots there. That’s attention to detail that can’t be lauded enough.

Sook is doing one of the Final Crisis tie-ins. I think it’s the Resist one, by Greg Rucka and Eric Trautmann.

I loved his work on Zatanna, then when i heard he would be doing X-factor i was exstatic. but when he managed one full issue and then faded out he really lost favor with me. For me hes in the Adam Kubert catagory, i love the art work when i see it but im no longer a fan and no longer
persue their work anymore.

Oh man, I just checked out X-Force, damn, that IS bad.

I guess I was thinking about her appearance during Messiah Complex, because she DOES look awful in X-Force.

Sook’s covers were the best thing about that whole Countdown cycle of bullspit.

ryan is brilliant and those issues of hawkman are the best drawn issues of the entire series in my opinion. how dc skipped them and reprinted the story after is a friggin crime.

It was actually a Magdalena story that Ryan and I did for Top Cow, but it was indeed GORGEOUS. One of my favorite stories ever, by one of my favorite artists ever. Ryan was also kind enough to squeeze in a cover for my Dragon Prince series. Equally gorgeous. The guy is brilliant every time out.

You’re absolutely right, Ron. My bad. I’ll fix that right up.

I love comics! mostly ones with the Joker in them <3 he amuses me.
anyway i have seen that evil clown somewhere before and i simply must know what comic he is in and what is his name (i looked up uncle Stiggy but got nothing…it looks like stiggy but the resolution was a bit pixelated)
i would really apperaciate any help ^_^
regards. <3

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