Wednesday, May 12, 2010

11. How to Draw Noir Comics

Martinbrough, Shawn. How to Draw Noir Comics. ISBN: 978-0823024063. Watson-Guptill. First Edition, 2007.

Critical Evaluation
Noir is the French word for black, and for artist Shawn Martinbrough, the noir art style is a celbration of all things black. How to Draw Noir Comics is a guide for experienced artists who want to expand their style to encompass the noir look. Author Shawn Martingbrough, a critically acclaimed artist in comic noir, presents readers with eight detailed chapters that discuss and illustrate the necessary steps for creating a bleak urban world, with rampant crime and cynical characters. This masterfully crafted book begins with an introduction to noir style and also to the types of materials needed to create the necessary look. What's great about this volume is the vast personal insight that Martinbrough gives readers. From the preface onward, it's clear that Martinbrough isn't hiding any trade secrets. Through his detailed descriptions and passages, he reveals everything he knows about the subject, from what brand of pens to buy, to how to collaborate successfully with different kinds of writers.

In each chapter, several different art exercises are presented to readers. The goal of these exercises is to help artists hone crucial noir applications, such as the use of blacks, perspective, texture, line, and composition. Martinbrough provides his own examples of each exercise given, and shows his different stages of completion. By demonstrating his progress, he gives readers a better idea of how the addition of a silhouette, or inclusion of a background image, can change the meaning of any given composition. Outside of these exercises, Martinbrough also displays his striking original artwork in accompaniment to relevant sections. Because of the harsh beauty of his art, each page has the ability to captivate readers, and inspire them to work towards greatness. Another wonderful inclusion in this title is Martinbrough's constant references to the artists and films that have inspired his style. Reader's interested in his style and art, now have further research to delve into, should they choose to expand their styles even further.

This volume also prepares aspiring comic book artists for the types of things they will need to know for their first jobs in the business, and the tasks they will have to perform. Martinbrough began as a painter, and then worked his way up toward inker, and then eventually he became a full on artist. The sheer amount of information in this art book is what makes it so valuable. Martinbrough discusses the simplest details expansively, and by the end of the text, readers will know everything they need about lighting, staging action, and building reference collections. The valuable personal insight of this industry verteran, guides readers on the path to becoming a master, if only they'll put in the time necessary to do so.

Reader's Annotation
For artists and illustrators interested in taking their artwork down a dark alley of crime and cynicism, look no further than the title How to Draw Noir Comics, from acclaimed artist Shawn Martinbrough.

Author Information
Shawn Martinbrough is an illustrator and graphic artist who's work has been showcased in various Marvel, Vertigo, and DC comic book series. Starting as a painter, and then working his way up through the ranks as an inker, Martinborough would eventually illustrated the critically acclaimed titles Batman: Detective comics and also The Losers, which has recently been adapted into a full length motion picture. Martinbrough's distinct noir art style is demonstrated in his most recent comic book run of Luke Cage Noir for Marvel comics, and in his instructional art book How to Draw Noir Comics.

Martinbrough is currently working on a comic book series based on the Daredevil Villain Bullseye, which is set against the backdrop of professional baseball. Aside from the wold of comics, Martinbrough's has also worked as an artist for Coca Cola, Vibe, Playboy, and Bad Boy Entertainment. Martinbrough is also the owner of Verge Entertainment, a film production company that has worked in the genres of romance, science fiction, and thrillers. Verge also works on developing original ideas for television and advertising.

nonfiction, instructional art

Curriculum Ties
art, illustration, comics as literature

Book Talking Ideas
Discuss Noir style in art and cinema.

Reading Level
Grades 8+

Challenge Issues
violence, crime

Challenge defense ideas:
1. Make sure you are familiar with your library collection and the book in question.
2. Be familiar with your library collection policy.
3. If possible, speak with the person challenging the material and make sure they feel comfortable. Ask the customer what they disliked or disapproved of in the resource. If they still insist on challenging the material give them instructions on how to file a formal complaint.
4. Research professional reviews that speak to the material's merit, and get input from teen readers on why they found the book important.

Reason For Selection
I knew I wanted to include an instructional art book of some kind in my blog. I can remember being a teenager and repeatedly checking out books on how to draw my favorite superheroes. With the popularity of darker comic books in the cinema, like Batman Begins and Sin City, I felt that this noir take on comic book illustration would be relevant for teen use today.

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