Artist spotlight–Ryan Sook, comic book publishers’ #1 choice for cover art

Ryan Sook Futures End cover 1    Ryan Sook Futures End 14 cover August 2014 release

We’ve delved into some great cover artists at in the past three years, from Alex Ross to Mauro Cascioli to Frank Cho and Mike Mayhew.  With his cover run on the DC Comics New 52 series Futures End, Ryan Sook is the artist you just can’t miss these days.  His cover for Issue #14 (above right) of Futures End is being solicited for August 2014 already, and it showcases several styles.  If you take a look back over the past few years you can see one of the best artists around developing his style and craft, putting his mark on the covers of some great comic book series.

You can see Sook as the cover artist of choice to start up several new series with the number one issue out of the gates, for series including Robotika (2005), Giant-Size Hulk (2006), Friday the 13th (2007), Batman and the Outsiders (2007), Death of the New Gods (2007), Countdown Specials, Countdown Presents and DC Universe Specials (2008 and 2011), Broken Trinity: Aftermath (2009), Blackest Night: Wonder Woman (2010), JSA All Stars (2010), The Magdalena (2010), B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth series (2011-2013), Victorian Undead II (2011), DC Universe Online: Legends (2011), Kirby: Genesis (2011), Justice League Dark (2011), Lord of the Jungle (2011), Rose & Thorn (2012), Sword of Sorcery (2012), and The New 52 Futures End (2014).

Sook is able to render men and women superheroes equally well, yet his women really stand out.  Here’s his Wonder Woman, showcased in the Blackest Night series:

Ryan Sook  Blackest Night Wonder Woman 1 cover    Ryan Sook Blackest Night Wonder Woman 2 cover

Less stylized than Cliff Chiang’s current angular Wonder Woman look, Sook may have created a modern twist on the definitive look of the classic character for other artists to emulate.

Sook’s work is sometimes confused with that of Adam Hughes, because of his similar ability to convey beauty and power, as well as humor and vulnerability.  One of Sook’s cover runs from 2010, on the Top Cow series The Magdalena, seems inspired by the same classic art of centuries past that inspires another major cover artist: Frank Cho, known for his neoclassical covers for Marvel and independent series.

Ryan Sook Magdalena 4 cover    Ryan Sook Magdalena 6 cover

Sook has created a memorable Zatanna, both the classic version and the updated version from the New 52 universe:

Ryan Sook Zatanna 4 cover    Ryan Sook Justice League Dark 1 cover

He’s shown he can set the standard for the looks of new characters, as seen in the Dark Horse Comics cover art for the Ghost and Dream Thief series:

Ryan Sook Ghost 1 cover     Ryan Sook Dream Thief 2 cover

His fantasy characters convey a sense of awe and power, as seen in Sword of Sorcery Issue #1 and Kirby: Genesis Issue #4:

Ryan Sook Sword of Sorcery 1 cover    Ryan Sook Kirby Genesis 4 cover

Sometimes the combination of ideas, innovative layouts, and all-out surprises can set an artist apart.  With his cover to Mystery in Space #1, which we chose as one of the best covers of 2012, Sook showed the ultimate crossover of science fiction, fantasy, and steampunk with his steampunk angel.  With his cover to Rose & Thorn, he reveals an otherworldly Laverne & Shirley, a Yin and Yang of identity, that makes you want to be able to peek further into that closet door:

Ryan Sook Mystery in Space 1 cover    Ryan Sook Rose & Thorn 1 cover

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  Check out Ryan Sook’s website for a full view of his catalog of works, including both cover art and interior art.  Sook is an artist to watch for the remainder of 2014 and beyond.

C.J. Bunce

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