Marvel Comics is on a roll with some amazing art books in the past year, and the latest Marvel Monograph features the art of Mark Brooks. Each work features a heavy dose of art through the creator’s career as well as some insightful commentary from the artist. Chris Bachalo discusses working with Grant Morrison in his Monograph, for instance, while Arthur Adams explains how he decided on Longshot’s hairstyle in his Monograph. Mark Brooks is one of the most impressive comic book cover artists today, but there’s so much more to his career which you can discover if you pick up Marvel Monograph: The Art of Mark Brooks.
Running 112 pages long in a floppy magazine-sized format, this book is the perfect size and length to dig into Brooks’ career. Narratively speaking, this book follows Brooks’ journey from an interior artist with a style some dubbed similar to Mark Bagley (a comparison Brooks disagrees with) to a hyper-realistic artist who exclusively works on covers. Since his style and process changes so much over his career, this book has interesting insight into those changes. It’s also fascinating to see how Brooks went from a desire to tell stories in a conventional way with interior layouts to preferring to tell a story with a single cover.
Although the book doesn’t get too in-depth with details — relatively speaking, it devotes much more space to the art itself, which is similar to previous Monographs — it’s still quite interesting. It doesn’t have as many anecdotal stories, but instead focuses on the artist’s style and how it’s evolved. Aspiring artists will find an interesting narrative here as it shows if you devote yourself to your art who knows where you might end up.
Speaking of art, the book is gorgeous, with plenty of beautiful pages, covers, and sketches to enjoy. The art within starts in 2004 and it ends with 2020’s amazing X of Swords double-page splash. The layout of each page is varied enough to bring focus and never look redundant or boring. There are plenty of proper citations for each work, too, if you want to track down a story or cover. The larger magazine size is also appreciated with many pages devoted to a single piece of art. Since many of these covers were printed on a conventional comic book cover, one could say this is a one-of-a-kind experience since many of these covers are blown up a bit larger to maximum effect.
As art books go, this Marvel Monograph contains a bit more of a narrative story as it follows Mark Brooks’ career in 2004 as an interior artist all the way up to his most dazzling hyper-realistic covers of 2020. This series only gets richer with Marvel Monograph: The Art of Mark Brooks and it’s highly recommended for any fan of Brooks. If you’re a fan of Marvel Comics you’d be wise to pick it up too, since there is art in this book that could be considered the pinnacle depiction of Marvel Comics characters.