Looking at the timetable for the A-to-Z Challenge, there are a few trouble spots ahead. Then there are days like today, where the decision is unbelievably easy for me.
I have been getting sketches from Chris Giarrusso since 2002. He is known for his "Bullpen Bits" cartoons for Marvel Comics, and his creator-owned G-Man books. I see him at conventions both local and afar. In total, I have gotten 29 sketches from him . . . thirty if you count the time he started doing Wolverine before realizing that wasn't what I asked for. I figure it still counts.
The first sketch I asked from him was Black Panther. Over the years, I would ask for familiar characters . . .
. . . and those where I needed to give references for.
Over time, I got into Chris' G-Man miniseries, and I wound up getting sketches of G-Man and Great Man (his brother) from him.
Eventually, my ideas for sketches became a little more "out there," as I sought out themes like the many "Lantern" characters debuting around the time of Blackest Night, heroes from Astro City, and Transformers that I had when I was a kid. With the right reference materials, Chris made it work. Sure, he referred to the Indigo Tribe Atom as "Turquoise Lantern" on his website, but that was forgivable.
When I started getting One Piece-themed sketches back in 2010, I started off by asking Chris for the manga's main protagonist, Monkey D. Luffy. I wound up telling him to include the scar under Luffy's left eye, but that was a minor oversight. Three years later, I got Luffy's brother, Portgas D. Ace.
Chris is a wonderful artist, and he's always game for whatever I have in mind . . . like the time I got South Park characters as superheroes, a one-shot DC/Marvel "Amalgam" hero, Batman's British counterpart fleshed out by Grant Morrison and Paul Cornell, and an ersatz Avenger seen on Dexter's Laboratory.
Seriously, Chris is a great "go-to" guy for me to hit up at conventions, and his rates are reasonable. Manga/anime characters? No problem.
Doctor Who heroes and villains? No sweat.
Figures from critically-acclaimed series? Chris can do it.
Speedsters from TV and movies? You get the point.
Like with Danielle Corsetto, I've run out of things to say about Chris. Go to his website, see if he's coming to your neck of the woods, and maybe buy a sketch card from him. Seek out his work on G-Man. And now, here are two more sketches. Here hoping I won't have to wait long for #31.
HONORABLE MENTION: Agnes Garbowska (two sweet South Park-themed sketches), Rob Geronimo (two sketches; a fellow Staten Islander whom I should have hit up at MoCCA last weekend), Jason L. Grossman (five, including three based on Pokémon and one featuring a member of the Straw Hat crew from One Piece made up as an American character), Kristen Gudsnuk (eight; a recent local favorite I can hit up for CW/superhero-based shows), Micah Gunnell (two based on Heroes, back when I was watching it with few reservations).