Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Creator to Watch: Shawn Martinbrough
A recent write-up in the Washington Post on artist Shawn Martinbrough was sub-titled: "Gangsters, Superheros and Other Creatures of the Underworld." That pretty much encapsulates the main subjects of this brave medium known as comics, graphic novels, serial visual storytelling. This award-winning artist has done it all, from striking out on his own with indie comic projects such as Aire Force for Bodog, to working such heavyweights as Greg Rucka, to his partnership in multimedia VergeTV with brothas like former DC editor Joe Illidge. And he's an allright dude. Cool and confident. The Clark Kent glasses complete the picture. People like Shawn I like to call creators. Not re-hashers, not mining the same old hackneyed jokes, stereotypes, soap opera plots, warmed-over bama and ghetto sensibilities. You see that in his recent book, first pubbed by indie Watson-Gupthill, now owned by Random House (under my old sponsors, the Crown imprint): How to Draw Noir Comics (Watson Gupthill 2007). Yes, before "street lit" and other short attention span softcore porn there was noir. Mix the gangster dramas of 1930s film with the paranoia and realism of Post World War two America and you had noir. From Chester Himes & Dashiell Hammett to George Pelecanos and elements of The Wire, the traditions are thusly. And not necessarily in color. Rich shades of black, white and gray. Incongruous you say: the words "rich" and "shades" and "black" and "white?" Well, that's where the artistry comes in. The dedication. Talent. Humility. Creation. Check out Shawn Martinbrough on myspace, and buy this book. Even if you can't draw, because it's more than learning a skill. It's getting enlightened. When you understand the difference, then you'll understand the word creator. How to Draw Noir Comics. RAFBN choice for week 10. Read and learn.