This post guest was written by Amelie Rose
Frank Quitely - The Art of Comics (Glasgow)
Comic fans in Glasgow have a lot to keep them occupied at the minute with renowned artist Frank Quitely’s The Art of Comics exhibition at the Kelvingrove Museum.
Quitely’s name is usually associated with the likes of Superman, Batman and The X-Men, and few remember his earlier gigs that were a little closer to home. The artist, whose real name is Vincent Deighan, first worked for the underground Scottish publication The Electric Soup in 1990. Due to the satirical nature of the comics, Deighan took up the pen name “Frank Quitely” so that his family wouldn’t find out. The Electric Soup began with independent circulations around Glasgow before it was picked up by John Brown Publishing for distribution in the UK.
Despite contributing to titles that are familiar to Marvel and DC fans, Quitely chose to stay in his humble studio in Glasgow.
Scotland’s comic history is deeply rooted in the country’s rich culture. As a matter of fact, the earliest known illustrated broadsheet in the world was first mass-produced in Scotland. Published in 1825, The Glasgow Looking Glass featured caricatures that poked fun at politics, fashion and the eccentricities of Glasgow society.
In the 1930s, Dundee saw the emergence of DC Thomson, a publication company known for two of the longest running children’s comics in the world, The Dandy and The Beano. Because of the huge success, both titles were in circulation for decades, and Dundee transformed into a hub for comic enthusiasts and creative individuals, according to an article by Metro’s Gillian Easson.
It wasn’t until decades later, in the 1970s, when the two comic juggernauts Marvel and DC would begin to take over the comic scene in Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Seeing an opportunity in a new land, Marvel established a publishing arm in the UK and distributed reprints of its American comics. The British audience largely approved, which led Marvel to publish new material exclusive for the British market. This continued all the way through the 1980s. Around the same time, DC Comics recruited the talents of British writers such as Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison and Peter Milligan, to work on comics that adopted mature storylines and sensitive language.
We all know how that turned out. Fast forward to today when the world is now living in the peak of comic book movies and TV shows, with more comic characters making their way to the big screen and our TV sets than ever before.
Marvel and DC’s products have become largely profitable assets as the public continuously embraces this fad of superhero universes. The massive popularity of comic book characters has spawned millions of products outside of comic prints. Today, fans consume collectibles, clothes, and video games, among others. According to Batman News, £4. billion alone was spent on DC Comics merchandise in 2016.
The superhero theme has also been adopted by different industries. For instance, you can see the Wonder Woman effect on fashion, as The New York Times reports there’s been a growing demand for metallic corsets. You can also see familiar superhero characters in online games like Hellboy, Lady Robin Hood, and Thunderstruck, all of which are featured heavily on digital site Slingo. From these examples, you can note how various companies see the incorporation of Marvel and DC’s characters as good business.
Frank Quitely’s Art of Comics exhibition will not only display his artworks, it will also show the powerful influence comics had over the decades.
The exhibition runs at the Kelvingrove Museum until October 1.