Last year comic book artist Frank Quitely had a solo exhibition at the prestigious Kelvingrove art gallery in Glasgow. Frank is a Glasgow based artist and is famous for his work on Batman, X-Men and his collaborations with the writers Grant Morrison and Mark Millar (both also from the West Coast of Scotland). Seeing his artwork in this context allowed the viewer to really indulge themselves in the images. Along with fully finished comic book pages, the exhibition also presented some sketches and rough ideas that the artist would put together before creating the final pages. These sketches are the basis for Frank Quitely’s latest book Drawing + Sketches, published by BHP Comics (who also happen to be from Glasgow). 

The event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival is chaired by writer and critic Stuart Kelly and we hear from Frank as he presents the pages from Drawing + Sketches. When talking about drawing, the artist states that –  “I use sketchbooks as a way of thinking and I think differently when I am drawing. The quality isn’t the thing. It’s getting the ideas down that is important.” During the the talk we see sketches from various iconic graphic novels such as Jupiter’s Circle, Jupiter’s Legacy, We3 and Pax Americana. When discussing working with different writers, Frank Quitely mentions –  “When I am working with a writer, it is my job to tell the writer’s story the best I can, with the skills that I have.”

Frank Quitely also displays the story and character designs from the short animated film Nothing to Declare. This received support from the Scottish Film Talent Network, an initiative to assist emerging filmmakers. The short was made with assistance from two animation studios (Once Were Farmers and Interference Pattern). The artist describes the difference in designing characters for CG animation and comic books. This is clearly a skill he is a master at and developed over the years to the highest standard in the industry.  As well as his comic book work we also see sketches and images for his poster from the Citizens Theatre production The Gorbals Vampire. The examples show the imagination, talent and skill that goes into the work of one of the greatest comic book artists working today.