Middleton started his career as penciler for CrossGens 'Meridian' and has since gone on to do great things, such as win the Eisner Award for 'Best Cover Artist' with his work NYX, X-Men Unlimited and New Mutants. He has also gotten work with giants Marvel, DC, Disney and Warner Brothers.
The reason for his impressive references is his portfolio. There is no doubt he can create whimsical scenes as well as fiery concepts. His style is sunny, light, cartoon-like yet not. It does have a playful surreal feel do it. I think he realizes the trick is not to be as realistic as possible, but to exacerbate the imagination.
You Can Find More of Middletons Work At http://www.joshuamiddleton.com