Thieves & Kings—Volume 1

thieves and kings volume 1 cover trade paperback
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Art: 7/10

Interesting approach to comic book storytelling

Lush world of the series would benefit from color

Comic Info

Comic Name: Thieves & Kings

Publisher: I Box Publishing

Writer: Mark Oakley

Artist: Mark Oakley

# of Issues: 6

Release Date: 1996

thieves and kings #1 cover review

Thieves & Kings #1

Reprints Thieves & Kings #1-6 (1994-1995).  Rubel is a thief and due to a surprising set of circumstances, he’s actually the Princess’s thief.  After years of being at sea, Rubel is returning to Oceansend, the city of Highborn, and his princess…but he finds things aren’t as he left them.  Rubel’s grandfather has been lost in a shipwreck and his wizard friend Quinton Zempfester is also missing.  Rubel discovers that the Shadow Lady of the Sleeping Woods seems to want him and he and his imp friend Varkias are constantly on the run.  What is worse to Rubel are the rumors of Princess Katara madness…Rubel must set things right!

Written and illustrated by Mark Oakley, Thieves & Kings—Volume 1 is an action-adventure comic book.  Published in black-and-white, the issues in this collection were released by I Box Publishing irregularly between 1994-1995.

There was a big boom of independent books in the mid-1990s following the creation of Image Comics and the comic book crash.  If one searched at this time, you could find different styles and comics at most shops and stores…and Thieves & Kings was one of the better (and odder) titles that left off the independent shelf.

The story is a blend of fantasy and pirate tales.  The land of Oceansend is inhabited by people but it also is the home to imps, witches, and warlocks…it is almost a less dangerous world of Conan the Barbarian.  The basic set-up in this volume is a quest for Princess Katara which (as fantasy readers know) is a common theme in fantasy.

thieves and kings #5 cover mark oakley

Thieves & Kings #5

What is different about Thieves & Kings is Oakley’s writing and art style.  The book is black-and-white which I always kind of feels hurts a fantasy like this which is out to create a beautiful and lush world.  The cover art and style presented on individual issues reminds you what Rubel’s city looks like…and it is fantastic.  Oakley stands out in that he combines the art with a lot of written pages.  The book frequently dips into prose writing and loses the panel approach (though even on those pages, Rubel and friends often can be found mixed in with the writing.  It is a strange experience and works.  Oakley gets to provide a bit more depth that a number of panels of comics couldn’t accomplish and he can also create some more emotion expansion to the characters.

This volume of Thieves & Kings is an interesting start to the story which unfortunately I don’t believe was ever finished.  Oakley had a target of one hundred issues and it only ran forty-eight issues…that is a problem going into a comic book series.  The first collection provides enough mirth and mayhem to show that the series could have a long life, but readers (and independent publishers) are fickle and sometimes hard to keep going.  Despite this, give Thieves & Kings a chance…it is a unique take on comics and something that should be emulated by other writers.  Thieves & Kings—Volume 1 is followed by Thieves & Kings—Volume 2.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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