Get To Know One Of The Most Prolific Comic Book Artists In The Industry
Meet Shawn Martinbrough, a prolific artist in the comic book industry who recently sat down with The Shadow League. In this 2-part interview, he gives lots of insight on his work, getting into the industry, and the shift in culture he’s experienced. Even if you’re just a casual comic book reader, you’ve likely come across his work, as he has contributed to several books starring iconic characters such as Batman, Captain America, Black Panther, The Hulk, Luke Cage, and the X-Men. He is also the author of How to Draw Noir Comics: The Art and Technique of Visual Storytelling.
Part 1 of the interview mostly focuses on Shawn’s current and previous work. They start by getting into the major differences between illustrating Robert Kirkman’s “Thief of Thieves” for Image Comics and Captain America for Marvel Comics. He talks about how he had to draw Captain America to look the same as he is in the film Captain America: The First Avenger, and how every page had to be approved by both Marvel and the U.S. military, whereas “Thief of Thieves” gave him much more creative freedom.
They also get into his favorite parts about working with both DC Comics and Marvel, and how some of the characters he helped create are making it into TV shows like “Gotham” and films like the upcoming Deadpool. Shawn says “The first character that has appeared on [“Gotham”] was Crispus Allen. There will be others.” Part 1 wraps up with an in-depth explanation of “Thief of Thieves”, including the writing process.
Part 2 of the interview focuses mainly on the industry itself, as they talk about what it takes to get into the industry and the cultural shifts. They start with the recent changing of prolific characters who are traditionally white males, including the Female Thor and the Black Captain America. He says “you have to remember that these characters were created decades ago when everything was white, male–centric. Times have changed. To make these characters and stories viable and relatable to a more diverse audience, Marvel, DC and other publishers have to diversify.”
They briefly touch on Shawn’s future projects before he gives advice to aspiring writers or illustrators, making reference to his book. He provides a lot of wisdom, which includes being able to function in a professional environment, and having formal training in any craft. The interview wraps up in a long discussion of Black-owned comic book publishers, and whether or not we’re in a “golden age for Black comic book lovers.”
Shawn breaks down why he doesn’t think all independent artists should be given the title Publisher. He says “I don’t consider folks who put out one book a year to be a publisher. For example, if you wrote one 150 word article a year for an independent blog site, would you consider yourself to be a professional journalist?” After going in-depth with his definition of a real publisher, he goes on to answer the final question with the following: “I don’t think that we’re entering a “Golden age” of black comic book lovers. There have always been black comic lovers. I think what has changed is that the rise of social media has given these comic lovers a louder platform than they’ve ever had.”