Proud beard owner and American artist Tyler Crook is the third nominee for this year’s Russ Manning Award. Best known for his work on B.P.R.D. for Dark Horse, he has also drawn an issue of Cullen Bunn’s Oni Press series ‘The 6th Gun’, as well as the original graphic novel Petrograd.

Working for both the comic book video game industries, Crook only turned freelance in early 2011, quitting his day job to focus extensively on drawing monsters and cowboys. Petrograd followed 6 months later, written by Phil Gelatt. At over 200 pages long, it was this piece of historical fiction which first drew Mike Mignola’s attention.

Midway through work on the book, Crook hunted down Mignola at a convention, as he describes in an interview with Multiversity Comics:

I was at the Long Beach Comic Con in 2009 or 2010 and so was Mike Mignola. I decided that I needed to seize the day and show him my portfolio. At the time I was really close to finishing PETROGRAD for Oni Press so I showed Mike a bunch of my pages where Rasputin gets assassinated. He seemed to like my stuff and gave me his card and told me to keep in touch. So every couple of months I’d drop him an email and let him know what I was up to.

At the time I was doing contract work at Sony working on a video game called MLB: The Show. They offered me a full time position and I accepted. Literally two hours after I signed and returned their offer letter. I got a call from Scott Allie with the offer to take over the art duties for B.P.R.D. I guess it’s pretty obvious which job I ended up with.