Art Comics & Graphic Novels Guest Post

Staging the Action in the Pages of Thief of Thieves

by Shawn Martinbrough

Thumbnail layouts are the essential blueprint for every page that I draw. This is the stage where I do all of my storytelling editing such as choosing angles, the lighting, etc.

In this sequence from Thief of Thieves #17 written by Andy Diggle, my deadline was looming so the layout is looser than I typically prefer. It might look like chicken scratch but it was enough for me to quickly nail down the flow of Andy’s script and keep things moving.

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Colors by Felix Serrano

In this page from Thief of Thieves #18, I figured out how to stage the action in Andy Diggle’s script pretty quickly using a “chicken scratch” layout.

10631063_10152448688318106_6802637268656928838_oYou can see that I changed the angle in panel one in the final. The new angle gave more scale to Conrad’s surroundings and helped him appear small in comparison. I think that it visually built on the tension in Andy’s script.

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Colors by Felix Serrano

Listening to film scores is very inspiring when I write. Sometimes when I draw a scene, a soundtrack just pops in my head. When designing this Venice rooftop chase scene from Thief of Thieves #18, the Danny Elfman score from the first Mission: Impossible film would not stop looping in my brain. Specifically, the Prague mission score in the beginning of the film. I always meant to share this with writer Andy Diggle.

10687377_10152448709408106_3636264120016758421_o 10704310_10152448709478106_6103551908686154920_o10697144_10152448709533106_5296660149735922244_oSeriously, the Danny Elfman score from the first Mission Impossible film would not stop looping in my brain while designing and drawing this scene.

1294472_10152449171518106_1030843194660074009_o 1412461_10152449172763106_1609377260315414299_oWhat a great script by writers Andy Diggle and Robert Kirkman.


Shawn Martinbrough is an artist of the bestselling monthly graphic novel Thief of Thieves — written by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman — and is co-founder of VERGE Entertainment. He is best known for his work for Marvel Comics, Vertigo, and DC Comics, including a critically-acclaimed two year collaboration with novelist Greg Rucka on Batman: Detective Comics.