From Ru­glen to Gotham...

Comic book king Frank Quitely ex­plains why you’ll al­ways find a piece of his home town in his fan­tas­tic worlds

Rutherglen Reformer - - Intimations - Jonathan Ged­des

What links the brood­ing men­ace of Gotham City and the bright op­ti­mism of Su­per­man with Ruther­glen li­brary and Cathkin Braes?

The an­swer is Vin­cent Deighan. Un­der his pen name of Frank Quitely (a pun based on Quite Frankly), the Ruther­glen man is one of the big­gest su­per­star artists in Amer­i­can comics, il­lus­trat­ing pop cul­ture icons like Bat­man, the X-Men and Su­per­man.

And his in­spi­ra­tions some­times come from close to home.

He said: “I’ve al­ways drawn on any­thing I can for in­spi­ra­tion, from the way peo­ple sit on the bus from Ruther­glen to see­ing peo­ple wait­ing for a first date, or get­ting fed up in a cafe be­cause the waiter is tak­ing too long to get to them. So there’s scenes in the We3 comic that I based on Cathkin Braes, or bits of Mill­port turn up in Jupiter’s Legacy.

“As I’ve al­ways lived in Scot­land the im­agery will come from there the most.”

Now a new ex­hi­bi­tion at the Kelv­in­grove mu­seum in Glas­gow is ded­i­cated to Vin, who stays in Cathkin.

A wan­der through the colour­ful show­cases art­work, scripts and sketches from through­out Vin’s ca­reer, from his early work on the Elec­tric Soup com­edy strip in the late 80s to a let­ter from a DC Comics ed­i­tor de­tail­ing how they felt he could im­prove his work, with some ex­tra bonuses thrown in.

A host of in­ter­ac­tive el­e­ments are there as well, with the chance to watch clips of Vin dis­cussing how he col­lab­o­rates with his writ­ers to the cape that Christo­pher Reeve wore in Su­per­man 3 be­ing on dis­play.

Hav­ing his work fea­tured like this is some­thing the artist never ex­pected. Vin grew up on Lime­side Av­enue, and nei­ther of his par­ents had any back­ground in art.

He re­called: “I went to St Colum­bkille’s Pri­mary.

“It was prob­a­bly in pri­mary one there that I re­alised I was good at draw­ing.

“I had al­ways drawn, as long as I could remember, but then I re­alised I was the best in the class at it.

“I remember that my work was first ex­hib­ited at Ruther­glen li­brary for a school thing, and it was a paint­ing of a knight in ar­mour.

“The teacher gave me a tin of sil­ver enamel to fin­ish it, and I remember ab­so­lutely lov­ing that.

“I just stuck with it over the years as it was my main hobby – I liked play­ing football but this was al­ways the main thing.”

Vin at­tended sec­ondary school in East Kil­bride, where his dad was a PE teacher, and ended up study­ing at the

Glas­gow School of Art for two years. It was af­ter leav­ing there that he started work­ing on Elec­tric Soup, in­clud­ing a spoof of the Broons called the Greens.

From there, he started send­ing his port­fo­lio to pub­lish­ers, which landed him work on the Judge Dredd Megazine comic.

His work then earned him State­side at­ten­tion.

He re­calls: “There had been British comic cre­ators all work­ing for DC and Marvel in par­tic­u­lar, and DC Comics were be­ing re­ally proac­tive about find­ing tal­ent from the UK.

“British cre­ators typ­i­cally went about comics in a dif­fer­ent way than Amer­i­can writ­ers and it seemed there was a real mar­ket for it, so I was in­vited to show my work port­fo­lio to Karin Berger, who was the head of Ver­tigo Comics [owned by DC], and I ended up work­ing on the Flex Men­tallo comic for them.” Since then Vin has worked for both DC and Marvel Comics, on ma­jor su­per­hero ti­tles and creator owned con­tent.

He has col­lab­o­rated with Scot­tish comic roy­alty like Grant Mor­ri­son and Kick-Ass creator Mark Mil­lar, brought Bat­man to Scot­land in a one-off story (a map in the is­sue makes sure to have Ruther­glen lo­cated on it) and even de­signed art­work for Rob­bie Wil­liams, il­lus­trat­ing the singer’s 2005 al­bum In­ten­sive Care.

Ar­guably his best work, how­ever, came with All Star Su­per­man, a 12 is­sue se­ries writ­ten by Grant Mor­ri­son and drawn by Vin.

The se­ries has of­ten been praised as one of the great­est Su­per­man sto­ries ever told, which is im­pres­sive go­ing given the char­ac­ter has been around since 1938.

He said: “The qual­ity of the sto­ries are re­ally hu­man, and touch upon uni­ver­sal themes - I be­lieve that if Grant had given the scripts to any other artist they would still be seen as clas­sics.

“But he gave them to me, which was my tremen­dous luck!

“I’ve had peo­ple say it’s their favourite comic ever, or the first one they gave to their boyfriend or girl­friend, who didn’t read comics.

“Re­cently I was in Sao Paulo and a ner­vous young fan gave me a let­ter when he was get­ting the book signed.

“He told me to read it later, and it said that he had been suf­fer­ing from a se­vere de­pres­sion, and the two things he put down to sav­ing his life were his girl­friend, and one par­tic­u­lar is­sue of All Star, where there’s a scene where Su­per­man saves a girl from jump­ing off a ledge.

“It’s a priv­i­lege to have worked on sto­ries that had that big an im­pact on peo­ple.”

Art at­tack Vin­cent Deighan has il­lus­trated a range of char­ac­ters in­clud­ing X-Men , Bat­man, Su­per­man and Won­der Woman

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