The people behind the Glasgow book festival AyeWrite! Have once again outdone themselves bringing us a number of exciting events and workshops. One of the shining stars in the programme was the event focusing on Frank Quitely, the Glaswegian comic artist, who has become a legend in the comic book world.
The event, not surprisingly, gathered a full room of people and offered the audience a chance to hear Frank Quitely speak about the works that have inspired and influenced him throughout his life. The event was chaired by Sha Nazir, publisher and art director at BHP Comics, and he was the perfect choice for interviewing Frank not only because they have known each other for two decades but also because BHP Comics recently published some of Frank Quitely’s works. The whole event was surrounded by an atmosphere of ease and comfort and to say that is was enjoyable to listen to Frank Quitely and Sha Nazir talk is an understatement.
The evening was loosely structured in a chronological order starting at Frank’s first encounters with comic books in the pages of The Broons and Oor Wullie. Through primary school and into secondary school the DC Thomson books were a huge inspiration for the young artist and it was very heart warming to know that Frank Quitely is still a fan of The Broons and Oor Wullie. Many names were mentioned and a number of books were shown in the slideshow and it was a true revelation to see the diversity and creativity in the comic book world. Frank, himself, said that he had been influenced by a number of comic book creators and although his style does not resemble some of them the inspiration is certainly there. Among the many titles and names referred to were Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Geof Darrow, Alex Toth and many, many more. It was very interesting to know that Frank has spent quite a lot of time learning from How to Draw books and the important role they play in an artist’s life. The discussion between Sha and Frank varied from open questions to anecdotes about chance encounters that Frank had had with comic book legends which made the talk so much more enjoyable and easy to listen to.
However, what really stood out about this event, for this reviewer at least, was all the knowledge that Sha and Frank shared with the public in this one short hour. Throughout the discussion the audience got a glimpse into the works that have influenced Frank Quitely and that was incredibly interesting. Getting a glimpse into the inner workings of such an amazing artist is revelatory but Sha and Frank did much more than that. Throughout the slideshows they showed a number of works and were kind enough to explain, for those of us who are not that familiar with comic books, what is important about each work and how it sets it apart from other similar works. The love and enthusiasm for the comic book world that Sha and Frank share chanelled so much knowledge regarding the creative process and artistry behind the different books and creators. Through his retelling of his artistic life and experiences Frank introduced the public to comic history and how it has changed and developed and to hear all this and learn so much made the event a real pleasure to attend.
For all of the readers who did not manage to attent the event, make sure you get a ticket next time Frank Quitely attends one. Here is to hoping that next year AyeWrite! Will give us the opportunity to spend an hour in the company of Frank Quitely once again.
For more on Aye Write’s programme click here.