From Superman to Spider-Man: MN comic book artist's superpower is drawing superheroes

Patrick Gleason loves comic books.

"It's the idealized human condition, hopefully," said Gleason.

But he doesn't just collect tales of costumed crusaders.

"I have no other skills, so this is it," said Gleason.

He creates them as well.

"I like having the freedom of doing what I want to do," said Gleason.

You see, this 47-year-old father of five has a superpower of his own.

"I've been drawing my whole life. So it's just something that comes naturally and I'm still trying to get better at it every day," said Gleason.

Gleason says growing up in Forest Lake, he couldn't afford to buy comic books. So he learned how to draw by reading comic strips in the newspapers like Calvin and Hobbs, Garfield, and The Far Side.

It wasn't until he got a job at a comic book shop in his hometown that he discovered the world of superheroes. 

"I really liked G.I. Joe and Transformers. Once I discovered X-Men, it was just a snowball into Spider-Man, X-Force and Batman and everything else just opened up before me," said Gleason. 

Gleason says when he was a teenager, he would go to local comic book conventions with a portfolio of his artwork to try to break into the business. His first gig was drawing an issue of X-Men Unlimited, then he became an assistant to Minnesota-based comic book artist Doug Mahnke.

That eventually led to titles like Aquaman, Green Lantern Corps, and Batman and Robin.

"I remember the first time I saw my book published and I went to Schinder's and I bought it. I didn't know they would send you a free one. I just bought it and I'm like this is cool and that has never gone away," said Gleason.

He also wrote and illustrated Superman and more recently Amazing Spider-Man, where he developed his own style of drawing the wall-crawler out of spiderwebs for a cover that became an instant classic.

"I did that first cover. It was Amazing Spider-Man 55, and it just blew up. People couldn't get enough of it," said Gleason.

What's even more amazing than Gleason's success is that he did it all living here in Minnesota, without having to move to New York or LA.

"I grew up here in Minnesota and exploring the woods and walking around and going up the North Shore, things like that. I never felt the desire to leave. Not even in the winter," said Gleason. 
His work sometimes includes nods to his home state and his home life, like when Clark and Lois Kent and their son Jonathan moved out of their farmhouse, which was inspired by Gleason's grandparents' house, and back to Metropolis.

"This was when we moved from our house up in North Branch. My wife and I, everything was packed up and the last thing she did was mop the floor and I could see all these little footprints of my children from when they were toddlers and I just watched her wipe them away and it was heartbreaking. It was sad, It was an ending. So when you're asked to write a story about Superman moving and you're going, well, what's that going to be about? You pull these things from your own life sometimes, or at least I do and can show it in there," said Gleason.

Gleason believes infusing these fictional tales with emotional truths has been one of the secrets to his success and will keep him coming back to the drawing board over and over again.

"I just try and have as much fun as I possibly can because I only have a certain amount of drawings and stories in me, right? So I want to make them count and hopefully do a good job with what I'm given," said Gleason.