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Joe the Barbarian #4 cover by Sean Murphy. Colours by Dave Stewart

Artist of the Week #1: Sean Murphy

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Welcome to the brand new article series in which How to Love Comics will spotlight an artist each week, featuring some great artwork and some reading recommendations so you can go out more of their work.

Our very first artist in this regular column is Sean Murphy, a dynamic artist who – through a series of very well received titles – has become in high demand. His art is detailed with a mixture of fine and heavy inks, which makes not only his environments and characters interesting but also great to look at. While a lot of his output has been coloured by some of the best colourist in the business, I believe his work truly shines when he works in black and white. This allows him to put in additional detail that otherwise might have been lost with colour.

Below is a variety of his work from various points in his career, from his creator owned work to some of his work for hire projects. Enjoy!

Off Road by Sean Murphy
Off Road, page 117.
Joe the Barbarian #4 cover by Sean Murphy. Colours by Dave Stewart.
Joe the Barbarian #4 cover. Colours by Dave Stewart.
Detective Comics #27 interior spread.
Detective Comics #27 interior spread. Click to see a larger version.
Hellblazer: City of Demons by Sean Murphy. Colours by Dave Stewart
Hellblazer: City of Demons spread. Colours by Dave Stewart. Click to see a larger version.
American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #2, pages 8 and 9 by Sean Murphy. Colours by Dave Stewart.
American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #2, pages 8 and 9. Colours by Dave Stewart. Click to see a larger version.
Punk Rock Jesus #5, pages 6 and 7 by Sean Murphy.
Punk Rock Jesus #5, pages 6 and 7.
The Wake #1, page 3 by Sean Murphy. Colours by Matt Hollingsworth.
The Wake #1, page 3. Colours by Matt Hollingsworth.
The Wake #2 spread by Sean Murphy. Colours by Matt Hollingsworth.
The Wake #2 spread. Colours by Matt Hollingsworth.

You can find more of Sean Murphy’s art all this week on our Tumblr.

Sean Murphy Recommendations

Hopefully the above artwork got you excited about Sean Murphy’s art, so much so that you want to go out and read some of his work. Below are four comics of his that I would recommend you take a look at.

Off Road cover by Sean Murphy

Off Road

Written and art by Sean Murphy. Published originally by Oni Press, currently published by IDW Publishing.

Off Road is an original graphic novel that tells the story of three high school friends who go on a road trip, motivated by a string of unfortunate events in their lives. The trio feel that going off roading and connecting with mother nature will solve their issues, but will they? Also, will they ever get out of the endless swamp they are trapped in?

The book combines humour, some kintic off road driving action and plenty of character moments to create a touching and intriguing read. Murphy’s art is detailed and he uses the absence of colour to create plenty of detail in his environments.

This black and white OGN is one of the early works that brought Sean Murphy to the attention of many.

Joe the Barbarian Deluxe Edition. Cover by Sean Murphy. Grant Morrison. Vertigo Comics.

Joe the Barbarian

Written by Grant Morrison. Art by Sean Murphy. Published by Vertigo Comics

Joe the Barbarian was the comic that put Sean Murphy on my radar, back in 2011. The story tells of a diabetic teenager who is transported to a fantasy world populated by his childhood toys during diabetic hallucinations. While in this world, he is seen as a prophet that will save the world from the evils that seek to destroy it. While in the real world Joe attempts to journey through his home in quest for something sugary, in order to stop his symptoms.

The journey through his home and the quest in the fantasy world reflect each other rather well, with landmarks and events in the real world reflecting in his hallucinations. Sean Murphy is able go all out on Joe the Barbarian, creating wonderful looking environments, emotive characters and dynamic action scenes.

Over at How to Love Comics HQ, Joe the Barbarian is highly recommended. If you are a fan of interesting worlds or even movies like the Never Ending Story then you will enjoy this.

Punk Rock Jesus TPB cover by Sean Murphy. Vertigo

Punk Rock Jesus

Written and art by Sean Murphy. Published by Vertigo Comics.

Punk Rock Jesus tells the near future tale of Jesus being cloned for the purpose of a reality TV. His and his mother’s every moment is monitored at every moment of their life. Although, through a series of events in the show the clone decided to rebel against the show and the idea that he is the second coming. He does this by using his influence from the show and punk rock to create anarchy and comment on the state of religion. The series also details the major events of the clone’s body guard, who grew up in the IRA, and his inner conflicts with religion.

Even though the artwork is in black and white, Punk Rock Jesus would have to be some his most detailed and best artist work. Each page is detailed, powerful and something that you will want to look at over and over again.

Punk Rock Jesus heavily comments on religion, especially on the way it motivates people’s lives, as well as reality TV and the damage it can do to people who participate in it. If you are looking for an edgy read, then Punk Rock Jesus is highly recommended.

The Wake #1 cover by Sean Murphy. Vertigo Comics

The Wake

Written by Scott Snyder. Art by Sean Murphy. Published by Vertigo Comics.

The Wake is Sean Murphy’s current project, that he is working on with Scott Snyder. The series is an underwater horror, with the first 5 issues reminiscent of the Alien movies. Although, the second half of the series is then skips 200 years into the future and deals with the consequences of first half.

Currently the series is 6 issues into a 10 issue run but the first 5 issues have been collected, making it easy to catch up on the series. How to Love Comics ran a preview of the first issue a while back.

Check out previous Artists of the Weeks.

Have Your Say

Are you digging Sean Murphy’s art? If so will you be checking out any of the comics he has worked on? You can let me know in the comments below or via Facebook or Twitter.

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