Stealing the Spotlight: Exploring the Artist of 'Thief of Thieves'"

comic book graphic novels Shawn Martinbrough thief of thieves

Shawn Martinbrough

When I first started to draw again after decades I bought a few books for reference. One of those I picked up was a copy of How to Draw Noir Comics by Shawn Martinbrough. I did this not because I was venturing into comic book illustration but as a self taught artist I'm usually fumbling about without having the knowledge or techniques to fall back on. This results in a tendency to venture down a few deadends due to not planning or being able to “rescue” some of my work.
Working with a lot of inks and mainly monochrome images even in the larger colourful pop art the main imagery is inspired by the original noir ink sketches.
The book by Martinbrough is a great starter or beginners guide and is a concise but informative look into noir style art and I still picked up some interesting information and tips I can use going forward. I'll go into more detail of this book and a few more which I used to learn in another post.
Shawn Martinbrough's brush has graced the pages of iconic titles from DC Comics, Vertigo, and Marvel Comics alike. From the shadowed alleys of Gotham City with Batman to the heist genre with Thief of Thieves.
From his website, ….Shawn is the artist of “Thief of Thieves”, the graphic novel series co-created with Robert Kirkman (“The Walking Dead”, “INVINCIBLE”) and the Eisner award nominated “Prométhée 13:13” published by comiXology / Delcourt-Soleil / ABLAZE.
Shawn is a Vanity Fair contributor and the writer of “Red Hood” for DC Comics. His two part story features the Gotham City neighborhood of “The Hill”, which he co-created and introduces new characters to the Batman Universe. Shawn’s six part sequel “Red Hood : The Hill”, begins February 2024.
Through his collaboration with writers like Robert Kirkman on "Thief of Thieves" and David Liss on "Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive," Martinbrough has helped shape new styles within the medium. 
I picked up a copy of the graphic Novel Thief of Thieves (volume one) and love the cinematic feel. "Thief of Thieves" is a comic book series that delves into the intricate world of heists and high-stakes thievery. Created by writer Robert Kirkman and Shawn Martinbrough, the series follows the exploits of master thief Conrad Paulson, also known as Redmond, as he navigates the complexities of both his criminal endeavors and personal life.
With more than a tip of its hat to genre films like Ocean's Eleven, this book might not be a ground-breaking masterpiece, but its strength lies in the intricate story it weaves with familiar threads. Unlike tired rehashes, it shines with well-developed characters, dialogue that crackles with authenticity, and artwork that elevates the narrative to another level.
The characters aren't cardboard cutouts; they're vibrant individuals with distinct personalities and motivations. Their interactions feel genuine, like snippets overheard in a bustling café, filled with quick wit and unexpected barbs. Each conversation peels back layers, revealing their unique desires and anxieties, drawing you deeper into their world. You'll find yourself invested in their successes and failures, anxiously awaiting their next move.
Forget clumsy heists thrown together on the fly. Here, each operation is a meticulously planned ballet of cunning and precision. 
But the reason I bought it was to see more of Martinbrough's artwork. It's not just static illustration; it breathes life into the story. It captures the gritty underbelly alongside the dazzling lights, creating a setting that feels both familiar and exhilarating. Each character's emotion is etched on their face, reflecting the determination and anxieties fueling their actions. Every panel is a meticulously crafted snapshot, drawing you deeper into the narrative with each brushstroke. Martinbrough's linework is precise and detailed, bringing the world of "Thief of Thieves" to life with a sense of authenticity. His use of shadows and lighting enhances the atmosphere, adding depth and dimension to each scene.
So, while you might not find groundbreaking innovation, you'll discover a story woven with passion, meticulous planning, and artistic Style. It's a reminder that sometimes, the most captivating stories are told with familiar beats but played in style.
You can find Shawn Martinbrough here...
(Images and names are used are in good faith and belong to Robert Kirkman LLC, DC comics and Shawn Martinbrough)

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