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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #270

Allow me to be frank with you: today’s featured artist is quite good. In fact, he’s one of the top two comic book artists currently working. (Archive.)

9/27/07

270. Frank Quitely

Quitely 2.JPG

I already used my “Quite frankly, Frank Quitely” joke in an earlier column, so I’m stuck without a pithy opener. Um… let’s just cut to the chase: Frank Quitely is awesome. There. That’s all you really need to know, but I’m going to continue on for quite a while anyway.

Frank Quitely (which, as evidenced above, is a play on “Quite frankly”– it’s not his real name–‘Vince Deighan’ is– and it’s also not Frank ‘Quietly’ unless you happen to be reading the silent issue of New X-Men) hails from Scotland and has drawn some of the greatest comic books ever made, usually when paired with writer Grant Morrison, another Scot. Something must be in the water up there, because they’re both brilliant.

Anyway, the comics. Yes. Quitely got his start in anthologies like Electric Soup and the Judge Dredd Megazine, moving on to work for Paradox Press and Dark Horse thereafter. His first major work, though no one would realize it at the time, was Flex Mentallo, written by Grant Morrison and published by Vertigo. I avow the series to be the greatest comic book ever made– the holy grail of the medium. He hadn’t quite refined his art yet, but he managed to convey the atmosphere and energy of several different comic book eras– Silver, Bronze, Grim & Gritty Ages, and into the future– without ever losing his own style.

Quitely 8.JPGQuitely 9.JPG 

After this, Frank drew a bunch of things I haven’t read yet– stuff like 2020 Visions with Jamie Delano, Batman: The Scottish Connection with Alan Grant, and his big break, The Authority, with Mark Millar. I’m sure they were all awesome, but I haven’t snatched them up yet. Any of you guys read ‘em? What’d you think?

Also during this period, he and G-Mozz gave us JLA: Earth 2, a graphic novel that reimagined the Crime Syndicate of Amerika. It’s also one of the best Justice League stories ever told, and gorgeously drawn by the man himself. A fascinating look at how good and evil work in the comic book world, it’s a devishly smart work. Pick it up if you haven’t.

Quitely 10.JPGQuitely 1.JPG

Quitely drew the final issue of Morrison’s Invisibles before teaming up with the writer yet again for New X-Men. I first encountered Quitely’s work with this series, and I wasn’t originally sold on it. By the second issue (#115), however, I was blown away and totally on board. Really, it was mind-blowing stuff, and completely reignited my fading love of the comics medium. Thank God for Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Unfortunately, Frank drew less than a quarter of the run. Had he done the whole thing, it would have been truly cemented as a magnum opus.

It’s also unfortunate that I don’t have my issues of it handy to scan, because then I could share with you the pages that captured my imaginaton and confirmed Quitely’s greatness for me. Let me try to explain. Frank Quitely often gets a bad rap from fandom because he draws “ugly people.” I can’t understand this argument, though. His people are beautifully ugly, if anything, and he has a grasp of anatomy that a lot of comic artists don’t. Yes, he has stylistic tics, but that just lets you know that a Quitely person is a Quitely person. Also, Frank Quitely is able to convey motion in a static image better than any other artist in the business. His work is fluid and smooth and yet richly detailed, even when the linework is spare.

Alright, so after New X-Men came We3, another Morrison-penned comic that’s one of the greatest books to come out so far this century. No one could ever hope to draw such handsome animals-turned-cyborg-death-machines like Frank Quitely. He really brought the personality, heart, and spirit of 1, 2, and 3 to the page. I mean, there’s a reason those guys are this site’s mascots. In this series, his sense of movement and majesty took over and he produced some of the greatest action sequences of all time, reworking the way in which the comics page functioned as he did so. I discuss this further in the We3 Reason linked above, but my God– the stuff leaves me breathless.

Quitely 3.JPGQuitely 4.JPG

Quitely’s current project, as I’m sure we all know, is All Star Superman, written by– guess who?– yes, Grant Morrison again. These two are the perfect collaborators, because Quitely really brings Morrison’s imagination to life. ASS, as I affectionately refer to it, has become the greatest Superman story ever told, and it’s not even over. Quitely helps sell the Silver Age sheen of the series while still keeping it fresh and modern. His Superman is a hefty, magical figure, the most composed man alive, even in the face of his own death. The way in which Quitely differentiates Clark Kent and Superman is brilliant– the best portrayal since Christopher Reeve. ASS is the best comic on the stands, and a series which plays to Quitely’s strengths. Together with digital inker and colorist Jamie Grant (let’s not forget him, he’s brilliant), Frank’s giving us some of the best comic book art ever.

Quitely 5.JPGQuitely 6.JPGQuitely 7.JPG

Now, yes, Frank Quitely is a slow artist, mostly because he’s a perfectionist. Me, I’d wait for a Frank Quitely project forever and beyond, because it will always exceed my expectations. Praise be to Grant Morrison for wooing Frank back to comics time and again– when those two get together, you know that you’re getting a great comic book.

For more Quitely artwork, especially his various comic covers, check out this gallery. Also, be sure to read this excellent piece on the man and his work.

27 Comments

I have to admit that I don’t quite get it. I think Quitely is very good, but I’m not sure he lives up to the hype. He tends to draw everyone slightly stockier than other artists, which just ends up looking weird to me. A good example of this is his Kyle Rayner in Earth 2, who looks like a linebacker.

You could not have picked two more perfect examples from WE3 to show just how fucking brilliant Quitely’s work on that series was. Whenever I’m describing the series to someone who hasn’t read it, those are the two pages I always cite as examples of how amazingly creative he gets with panel layouts. That 2 page spread of Tinker literally jumping through the panels is among my favorite pieces of comic art ever.

I have to admit, I initially wasn’t a fan of Quitely’s work, but the more I saw of it, the more it grew on me. And now for the life of me, I can’t even remember just why I didn’t get into this from the beginning. His style may be an acquired taste, but once you get it, there’s really no going back. I really wish he could have drawn Assault on Weapon Plus and Planet X during New X-Men, although Bachalo and Van Sciver performed admirably as well.

I loves me some Frank Quitely artwork!!!

Quitely is one of the best reasons to love comics.

I love comics very much and was very happy while reading Quitely which is one of the best comic book which I have ever read. Really amazing.

God, if there’s one column I wish I could’ve written it’s this. Frank Quitely is one of the top ten artist to work in the medium. Ever. I believe this to be true.

Oh, and I’d pick up True Brit, if you wanna know more, from the man himself. It’s a nice interview in a book of ‘em.

That comment from “Comics” is really weird. Is that spam?

Judging from the pixelled solutions webpage, yes.

I think Quitely is a decent artist, but it honestly seems to me that the reason most people love him so much is because they love Morrison so much. I have to think that if all his work had been done with Jeph Loeb, who most people on this blog seem to despise, nobody here would be a fan of his. Maybe I’m wrong. But as one of the few non-Morrison lovers that reads this blog, I’ve always felt Quitely was held in higher regard here because of his association with Morrison.

Morrison and Quitely have been lucky enough to have been able to work with each other a great deal, but all the same folks who praise Quitely now were praising him when he drew Millar’s Authority.

And while it is a bit far back for me to recall the general consensus on it, I know I certainly thought that one-shot he did with Alan Grant was phenomenal. It was pretty much a throwaway one-shot except for the artwork.

And I also know that I loved his Jonah Hex cover, his American Virgin covers and his Bite Club covers.

So, basically, no, I do not think that it is due to him basking in the greatness that is Grant Morrison.

I didn’t mean for my comment to come out quite as snarky as it did. I try to avoid that in this column, since I think it should be about what people like, and not what they don’t like. I’ve had a few drinks, so I’ll blame it on that.

I do like Quitely as an artist. I do think he’s a reason to love comics. I also think he gets viewed more highly because of his association with Morrison. Just my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

He’s pretty good.

A truly great artist can make you pick up a book despite the writer or characters – why haven’t you picked up his Authority stuff when it’s so readily available?

I don’t get Earth-2, and the Scottish Connection is a fairly run-of-the-mill Batman tale, with the added novelty of Bruce Wayne in a kilt. Well drawn, though.

Another great reason to love comics.

QUITELY!~

…um, I got nothing to add here.

I think Quitely is a decent artist, but it honestly seems to me that the reason most people love him so much is because they love Morrison so much. I have to think that if all his work had been done with Jeph Loeb, who most people on this blog seem to despise, nobody here would be a fan of his.

I loved Frank Quitely since his days on Judge Dredd: The Megazine before he ever worked with Morrison. Conversely I love Tim Sale even though almost everything I have by him is written by Jeph Loeb.

The reason people love Frank Quitely is that he’s one of the best artists working in comics.

to echo Dancj, I’ve been a Quitely fan since Missionary Man and Shimura. So Morrison has nothing to do with it.

…unless you mean Robbie Morrison, Jazzbo…

But I’ve got to say his Authority run didn’t look anywhere near as good as the rest of his work, which may go a long way towards explaining a lot of people’s hesitancy towards his art. I can’t remember if he inked himself or not on Authority- anybody know?

It makes me very sad that Flex Mentallo is essentially impossible to get a hold of. Sad face.

I totally meant Robbie Morrison. Didn’t I make that clear?

If Quitely is one of the two best artists currently working in comics, who is the other one? Has that already been a Reason and I’ve just forgot?

His character work is one thing (and great all on its own) but his character DESIGN and his story-telling are what really make him one of the greatest artists working today. Was there anyone in New X-men who didn’t have a fantastic design. Maybe you don’t like the leather on the X-men, but he gave them some great costumes AND made each of them personal while keeping them uniform. A real skill if you ask me.

New X-Men was the first Quitely work I got as well, and I wasn’t quite enamored with his art at first (it was mainly the faces; some of them looked a bit similar and Emma Frost sometimes looked Asian, for some reason). We3 and All-Star Superman won me over, though: that last picture Brian posted of Superman and Lois kissing on the moon is just amazing, for example.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

October 1, 2007 at 6:11 pm

Quitely did some great work in those old Veritgo anthology mini-series, and Flinch.

I really wish they would collect those, even a flawed best of, as I’ve only got some scattered issues of those, and although there was some muck in there, there was some real gold as well.

If Quitely is one of the two best artists currently working in comics, who is the other one?

Tim Sale!

And let’s not forget that amazing Sandman story that he did, and that was sans Morrison as well.

[…] We3, by Grant “God Of All Comics” Morrison and Frank “Beautifully Ugly” Quitely, ideally in trade paperback (TPB) […]

Once I was forced to wait 24 hours at the Moscow-Airport. There i saw a woman and i fell in love with her just by looking at her. And now, 12 years later, she returned, wearing the name Emma Frost, being drawn by Mr.Quitely…somebody will say now that i have a bad taste of pencillers and/or women but i love the way he paints faces, especially Emma’s…the eye-brows, the arrogant but also vunerable eyes…i’m in love again…
‘Top two…’ should be three : Quitely, John Cassaday (for the faces and the wide-screen-feel), John H. Williams III (for the overall impression, the panel-handling…it’s sooo psychedelic, every time i turn a page i hold breath what comes next)

I am not normally a comic fan (at least not since I was about 12) but started following Quitely’s work when I picked up the “scottish connection” upon visiting Roslyn Chapel many years ago. I read on a music blog recently that Frank Quitely is doing limited edition record cover artwork for a rock band called The Phantom Band some time soon – should be worth checking out if anyone’s a collector. Haven’t heard anything more, but will keep you posted if I can find out any more about it.

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