Responding to the recent global fascination with the comic book and superhero genre, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum will host Frank Quitely: The Art of Comics from 1st April to 1st October 2017.
The exhibition explores the work of Glasgow born artist Frank Quitely, who is one of the world’s top comic book artists, working on titles such as DC’s Superman, Batman and Marvel Comics X-Men. His book collaborations with Scottish writers Alan Grant, Mark Millar and Grant Morrison have sold millions. But like many of the superheroes he draws, he has a secret identity – his real name is Vincent Deighan. It will be the largest collection of his work ever displayed.
Frank Quitely: The Art of Comics will focus on Glaswegian and Scottish comic book industry heroes Frank Quitely, Mark Millar (of KickAss fame) and Grant Morrison (DC’s Batman and All Star Superman), revealing the amazing influence and contribution Scotland has had on the global industry of comics.
Bolstered by unique art work from titans of the genre, including Frank Miller and Neal Adams, the exhibition showcases an original Batman comic strip by the superhero’s creators Bob Kane with Bill Finger, alongside the comic strip that inspired Frank Quitely, featuring one of Scotland’s most legendary families, The Broons.
Born in 1968 in Glasgow, Vin Deighan still lives and works in the city. This year he will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow in recognition of his achievements.
Frank Quitely said: “When I was growing up I thought everything exciting that was happening was happening somewhere else, usually America. That was never the case, but it's even less so now. In this digital age it's never been easier to collaborate with others, and to find an audience for what you do. What I had always done as a hobby, I started doing as a low paid job and I just built on it from there. I hope young people leave this exhibition with a renewed belief in the possibility that you can make a career out of what you love doing most, but more importantly, whether you make it a career or not, I hope they get the idea that if there's something you love doing you should do it and enjoy it and strive to become better at it, because it really enriches your life.
Curator Producer with Glasgow Museums, Martin Craig, added: “We are delighted to work with Vin Deighan to bring this magnificent exhibition to Kelvingrove. Frank Quitely’s work is beautiful, it’s meticulous and it has helped cement the amazing impact Scotland has had on the comic book world. Once you see the work in person it is easy to see why Vin is considered to be one of the top comic book artists working in the world today.
“Audiences can marvel at the largest collection of his work ever displayed. They can get up close and admire the painstaking detail in every iconic frame. We have a wealth of stunning original artwork from giants of the comic book industry, interviews and interactives. We’re quite sure Frank Quitely: The Art of Comics will inspire a new generation to take up the mantle and continue Scotland’s influence in the comic book and superhero sphere.”
Frank Quitely: The Art of Comics opens with a look at his early work on Electric Soup, which brought him to the attention of publishers 2000AD, who gave him an opportunity to draw for Judge Dredd Megazine. Quitely’s beautifully detailed drawings were admired across the Atlantic, opening doors in the American comics market. His talent attracted increasing attention and Quitely was approached by DC to draw for their Big Book of series – books of short black and white stories based on real events, people or myths. By the late 1990s he had moved to Vertigo comics, a darker, more adult, part of the DC Universe, where he further developed his skills.Audiences come face to face with original artwork, with time and space to admire the painstaking detail in every incredible frame. The Sandman is a critically renowned comic book series written by British author Neil Gaiman and published by Vertigo. Quitely beautifully painted an 8-page story called Destiny for graphic novel The Sandman: Endless Nights, which became the first comic book ever to appear on the New York Times bestsellers list.
The exhibition moves on to consider his incredibly productive relationship with two legends of the comic book industry; Grant Morrison MBE and Mark Millar MBE. Morrison is now one of the most influential writers in the comic book industry. Arkham Asylum, his award-winning Batman book, has sold over 6 million copies in America. He is celebrated for pushing the boundaries of the comic book form by experimenting with new storytelling techniques. This is clearly illustrated in the section entitled We3, where visitors can marvel at Quitely’s meticulous drawings for the collaboration. We3 tells the story of three lost pets – a dog, a cat and a rabbit – trying to escape from the army which has turned them into prototype weapons.
Fellow Scot Mark Millar is equally well respected in the field. Author of books such as Kick-Ass and Kingsman, which have been adapted into blockbuster Hollywood films, he has written major storylines for Marvel Comics, including Civil War and The Ultimates. Frank Quitely: The Art of Comics considers how the impact of these stories continues to be felt in the wider industry. After working for DC and Marvel Comics, Millar set up his own publishing company, Millarworld, based in Glasgow’s west end. Artists and writers share co-creation rights, a great step forward for the industry. Quitely and Millar are currently finishing off the epic story Jupiter’s Legacy.
Like We3 comics can be used by artists and writers as a platform for initiating discussion around current world issues. They can play with time, alternate dimensions and the laws of the natural world. The penultimate section, Danger Room, considers the premise that comics are not only for the young. Frank Quitely: The Art of Comics concludes a selection of standalone work from comics, books and posters, chosen to further illustrate the breadth and variety of Quitely’s work.
Visitors will see some of Quitely’s most visually stunning poster designs, including original artworks from major titles such as All Star Superman and Batman and Robin, including drawings from his first Batman Story, The Scottish Connection which was written by fellow Scot Alan Grant and is set in and around Edinburgh. This story imagines Batman / Bruce Wayne’s ancestors as Scottish and places him in Scottish landmarks such as Rosslyn Chapel, Glencoe, on the Forth Rail Bridge and at Edinburgh Castle. The public will get to see the intricate process from script through sketches to the meticulous final drawings then print and hear/ read interviews with Scottish giants of the comic book industry, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar and Alan Grant. Comic book aficionados of all ages will revel in the digital interactives that allow visitors to design their own comic page. There is an opportunity to create your own super hero costume and pose for a special-effects snap of you soaring through the air.
Frank Quitely: The Art of Comics opens at Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow on Saturday 1st April and runs until 1st October 2017. Tickets cost £7 per adult/ £5 per concession, children under 16 £3, with under 3s free. A family ticket is £15. For more information visit www.glasgowmuseums.com