"I was born with a pencil in my hand, drawing advanced stuff at an early age. I think because I grew up reading a lot of the books drawn by Al Williamson, Bernie Wrightson, and Frank Frazetta. Al, in particular, was a huge influence on me. I get compared to him a lot, which probably is the nicest thing anyone can do, really. Later in life, when I was a teen, I saw the art of Drew Struzan for the first time on an Alice Cooper album, and studied how he drew faces and such. Drew has been ahuge influence on me as well. So, I would say, Al Williamson and Drew were the biggest influnces on me as an artist, as both guys focused, when working on film related projects, on making the people they drew look exactly like the actors portraying them."
Gerry spent his first eight years between Phoenix, Arizona and Charleston, Illinois. His father took him to Fredericksburg, Virginia, where spent the rest of his childhood and adult life, before the army. An alumni of James Monroe High school, class of 1982, Gerry left school, and began honing his artistic skills. Thanks to his childhood friend Virginia Johnson, and her amazing husband Steven, Gerry's professional career as an illustrator and comic artist started back in 1986, working as staff artist for America's #1 sales and marketing magazine Personal Selling Power Magazine. At the age of just 22 he was developing motivational comic strips working with Selling Power's publishers Laura and Gerhardt Gschwandtner, as well as world renowned self help guru, Dr Wayne Dyer. Gerry recalls the strip, saying, "I remember the fist strip I did was of this guy honking his horn in traffic, when Dr Dyer's disembodied head magically appears above him, floating over the car, telling the guy that honking his horn won't make traffic move any quicker, it only serves to increase his and everyone else's stress. It was so funny drawing this magical floating Dr Dyer head." One of his strips Gerry drew was so popular, it was picked up by the AP Newswire, and carried in their internal newsletter.
His dreams of being an illustrator and comic artist were happening. He got his first professional comic gig in 1989. However, his dreams would take a back seat to his calling as a patriot, when he walked away from his art career and volunteered at the age of 26 to serve as an Army Combat Medic during the first Gulf war. "I served, and that's all I did. But, what I didn't get to do in the military, I have tried to make up for as a vet, by focusing on telling respectful stories about soldiers and vets. That is why I started Charlie Foxtrot Entertainment with combat vets like Dale Dye, John Del Vecchio, Ernesto Haibi and Doug Esposito. I am honored to have worked with those guys, and they know it."
After the army, Gerry's career shifted again. Though he still did illustration here and there, as well as painting book covers, he really focused more on design and commercial art, working as staff artist and designer for several internet companies and ad agencies, and kept doing that type of work for nearly 20 years. However, even after he won several awards for his design work, his love for illustration began to overshadow the steady pay of a staff artist job. Then in 2009, thanks to
His old friend Tom Waltz, senior writer at IDW, he was asked to work on The A-Team: War Stories. Gerry decided that doing commercial art and design may pay well, but it's drawing and coloring comics that made him happy. "He has a natural knack for comic art. He's old school...the Al Williamson of our generation." said IDW's Tom Waltz. Ted Adams, CEO of IDW, called Gerry a "beast", when it comes to drawing. Even IDW's Chris Ryall has referred to Gerry as the "consummate comic artist that they say doesn't exist anymore."
When asked what was the best compliment of his work, Gerry stated frankly, "I am very blessed to be good friends with an artist who nearly single handedly inspired me as a boy. I am talking about Star Wars and Indiana Jones movie poster artist Drew Struzan. He was looking at some of my work one day and told me that despite the violent subject, I somehow had managed to make it beautiful. He even once told me seeing some of my sculptures inspired him to to want to sculpt again. To inspire someone who had inspired you? That was something."
Since The A-Team comic, Gerry's dance card has stayed full; drawing and coloring comics for IDW and other independent publishers. This is no surpise film and television director Josh Becker said, "Gerry is someone you actually look forward to working with."
In 2011 he did the cover art to several books, including the book Peleliu File, by celebrated actor, author and film military adviser, Dale Dye. Early in 2011, Gerry also formed Hazmat Studios with his cousin Angie, and fellow comic artist Amin Amat, who has worked with Gerry on many of the same projects, as well as with Matt Anderson and Eric Hutchins (Kung Fu Panda, White Picket Fences and Cut the Rope). This year, through Hazmat, Gerry has headed up and was artist, with Amin, on the Alan Wake graphic novel for Xbox, the motion picture Iron Sky prequel comic series, as well as Vanquish, Tim Kenyon's Endtime and finally Tyler Button's Bayeux. Most recently, Gerry created and was penciler and colorist on IDW's Code Word: Geronimo, which is expected to be one of the biggest books of 2011.
Gerry has many projects lined up for the next few years, including SLEEPERS: INCEPTION, a sci-fi military action graphic novel, as well as another military themed comic series called VINDICATED, INC., the first-ever disabled veteran action hero comic, created by military vets, that tells the story of a wounded vet that returns home to become a vigilante.
Gerry has been a professional illustrator, comic book artist, book cover artist and an award winning graphic designer since 1987, having created art for IDW Publishing, Bluewater Comics, Selling Power Magazine, Warrior Publishing Group, The Federal Way News, The Stafford Sun, RACprops Magazine, The Octopus Magazine, Warriors Inc, Blue Comet Comics, Creative Arts House Comics, Xbox Games, 20th Century Fox, EA Games, FXM Inc, TruckNet Inc, ACR Nally Marketing Group, and many, many more.
Gerry has been expertly using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator since 1995.
Gerry has over 15 years experience in Marketing and Advertising between TruckNet, Inc. and ACR Nally Marketing Group.
Gerry is proficient with desktop publishing software like Adobe PageMaker, InDesign, as well as QuarkXpress.
Gerry is skilled in using video/audio editing software Sony Vegas Pro, ACID Pro.
Gerry's first Graphic Novel, Code Word: Geronimo, published by IDW, not only was awarderd the Military Author's Award, and was IDW's highest selling Graphic Novel on its release in September, 2011.
Gerry's proudest accomplishment was as a single parent, raising his daughter, Zoe, by himself from her infancy to adulthood.
Served as U.S. Army Combat Medic during the first Gulf War, with Medic Platoon, HHC, 1/170th INF REG, 29th Infantry Division (light), Ft A.P. Hill, and later the 308th Med Ambulance, out of McClellan AFB.
Gerry's first comic job for IDW was The A-Team, working with comic legend, Chuck Dixon.
Is the only known published artist commissioned to paint actual battles from the Star Trek universe. Published by FXM Inc; The Battle of Wolf 359 and The Battle of Narendera III. Both art prints sold out within 30 days of publication.
Has worked as a political cartoonist for three different publications; The Stafford Sun (Stafford, VA), The Federal Way News (Federal Way, WA), The Octopus Magazine (Champaign, IL).
All six of Gerry's siblings as well as all three of his children are artists.
Before creating art for IDW PUBLISHING, Gerry was originally hired by them as their video director to create animated trailers for their comic titles as well as their internal marketing videos. Tom Waltz was the one to tell IDW he was also an accomplished artist.
Gerry is not just an illustrator, painter, sculptor, he is also an accomplished filmmaker, writer, as well as lyricist, musician and composer. He has been called a true renaissance man, by many who know him.
Photos courtesy Chet Smith