The Aye Write Festival is Glasgow’s book festival and celebrates literature in all its forms. Glasgow itself has a strong link to comic books with many creators living in the city. Celebrated publisher BHP Comics is also based there and The Glasgow Looking Glass is regarded as one of the world’s first comic books. This evening one of the masters of the medium is present to tell the audience about the comic books that influenced him. Frank Quitely has worked on The X-Men, We3, All-Star Superman and many other legendary titles. A book of his drawings and sketches has also been recently released, so now seems like a good time to look at back at the comics that influenced his unique and distinctive style.
The event is chaired by BHP Comics Sha Nazir and one thing that is obvious from the start is that Frank Quitely loves comics and has been “drawing as long as I can remember”. He talks about the work that has influenced him with an unabashed passion that suggests he gets as much enjoyment from the medium today, as he did when he was a child. First up we hear how much pleasure he got from reading The Broons and Oor Wullie in his youth and this was the spark for his early comic book creation The Greens. From here we learn that UK reprints of American Superhero comics opened his eyes to new possibilities within the medium.
The work of Frank Miller and Geof Darrow on Hard Boiled is highlighted as another major influence on his storytelling style along with the early graphic novel A Contract with God by Will Eisner. Frank Quitely goes onto state that artist Robert Crumb, with the humorous and genuine honesty in his work, is also influential with Crumb’s sketchy and expressive line-work giving the artist a reason to draw and try new things.
The event is packed full of references and certainly gives the audience a comprehensive list of comics and graphic novels to check out. Frank Quitely is well-read in the medium that he loves and during the audience Q&A he expresses this further. The artist answers questions on style, process and the challenges he faces as being one of the foremost artists working in comic books today.