The middle of a hallway at the Hard Rock Hotel would normally be an odd place to conduct an interview — but if you’re talking to superstar artist Frank Quitely, long-time Grant Morrison collaborator and one of the most in-demand guests at comic book/magic/music convention MorrisonCon, it’s the most natural place in the world to find the affable Scotsman.
“I can talk while I’m signing!” the Eisner Award-winning artist laughed as he joked about his jam-packed MorrisonCon schedule, scribbling in attendees’ convention programs as CBR News caught up with the busy creator at the tail end of the convention.
The artist behind some of Morrison’s most famous works such as “All-Star Superman,” “We3,” and “JLA: Earth 2,” Quitely told CBR Morrison never actually asked him to be a part of the convention.
“It was just one of the times I saw him socially, he started talking about this and it’s not like he asked me to come, he just talked about it as though it was taken for granted that I was coming!” Quitely said, grinning at the memory. “It’s almost like a family commitment, you know, it’s one of those things I couldn’t get out of!”
Labeling himself as someone who usually avoids comic book conventions of all stripes, Quitely said he found MorrisonCon “refreshing” as it was the opposite of conventions the artist experienced in the past.
“This one’s been really brilliant because it’s so small, it’s just got a much more personal feel and everybody’s in the same place — from the point of view of seeing all the talks, everything’s in one place, one talk after another, so you’re never choosing between two things — that I really liked,” Quitely said. “You just get a chance to hang out with people and other creators and fans, it’s a totally different experience.”
“Even at the signing I did yesterday, normally when I do a signing depending on how long the line, they want three items each or whatever, and there’s someone taking the comic I’m signing,” Quitely said, miming someone whisking away comics, “and there’s almost always no time to talk. This was much more relaxed. I had a mini-conversation with just about everybody in line.”
This conversation then turned to DC comics’ “Multiversity” miniseries, which Morrison officially confirmed and announced at the convention Saturday. The artist will tackle the issue titled “Pax Americana,” which re-imagines the Charlton Comics characters and deals with the Peacemaker’s assassination of the President, and Quitely said that as opposed to Morrison who told CBR he was interested in the project as a way to explore all facets of superheroes and the DC Universe, he was interested in “Multiversity” mainly because Morrison was.
“I’m always kind of up for drawing anything Grant wants me to draw, and he writes a lot of stuff, but every now and again he comes to me and says, ‘I really want you to draw this.’ As he always does he just sat down and talked about what it was he wanted to achieve with it; I mean, he always makes it sound good!” Quitely laughed.
Acknowledging that this writer/artist relationship has defined his comic book career for the past decade and a half, Quitely added, “For me it’s really been ideal — he’s my favorite writer! The fact that he wants to work with me, I just couldn’t ask for more.”
As for Quitely’s artistic process, when it came to drawing the thirty-eight-page issue of “Multiversity” Quitely explained he worked piecemeal.
“Well, what happened was I was getting the script and I’d receive the first four pages and then I’d get the next four pages and then I’d get three pages and then I’d get a bunch of pages and some of them were changed!” Quitely said with a grin. However, the pages shown Saturday morning hold a special place in his heart.
“[Shown] at the panel yesterday was like the front cover and the first three [pages] and it was the assassination of the president and time’s running backwards, so you go from the burning flag, which is the cover, to just moments before the assassination. I actually really liked the sequence and the way it worked out,” Quitely said. “I don’t really have a favorite character. They’re all kind of cool in different ways.”
Outside of his DC Comics’ work, Quitely was also recently announced as the artist for “Jupiter’s Children,” a new miniseries from writer Mark Millar and Image Comics. While Millar told CBR earlier this year that Quitely became involved after approaching him about work, Quitely said the road to collaboration was more organic.
“What actually happened was Mark’s partner was organizing the first Kapow!, a comic con in London, and he got in touch with me and asked me to go for a beer with him because he knows I don’t do many cons and he wanted to talk me into doing this one,” Quitely explained. “During it we started talking about creator-owned projects; we haven’t worked together since ‘The Authority’ and it just kind of happened organically, we were both talking about working together on something.”
“My end of it was I wanted something short, which is four issues max, I didn’t want any superpowers, I wanted a single character — so once we agreed to do something together he said, ‘I have something in mind that would really suit you.’ And then the next thing I read online was I was doing a twelve-part superhero epic!” Quitely continued with a laugh. “I think now it’s going to be five parts and possibly with a gap — but I had a brilliant time working with Mark on ‘The Authority,’ so I’m looking forward to it.”
Quitely flashed another smile when asked about his progress thus far, genially joking about his speed and that he might be forced to draw some cityscapes, his least favorite thing to draw according to Saturday’s panel discussion.
“I suspect there will be some of that! I’ve only done three pages of it and the pages for the sneak peek — so I mean he’s told me he’s like written the first three issues and I believe he’s told a number of people I’m halfway through it, you know!” Quitely laughed again.
Quitely, whom “Batman Incorporated” artist Chris Burnham named on Saturday as a huge influence on his artwork, then said he felt the artists who influenced his signature bouncy, slightly-lumpy style were an eclectic mix.
“I suppose the biggest influence on me is Dudley Watkins, who was a Scottish newspaper artist; John Buscema and Steve Ditko I liked a lot when I was a kid,” Quitely said, also naming Frank Miller, Moebius and Dave Gibbons as huge influences on him during his teens and early twenties.
Quitely also took the time to praise Karl Kerschl’s art on the web comic “The Abominable Charles Christopher” and artist Sean Murphy, who collaborated with Morrison on Vertigo Comics’ “Joe The Barbarian,” as two artists whose work Quitely very much enjoyed.
“Sean Murphy has done some really lovely work these last couple of years. I didn’t know his work at all before ‘Joe The Barbarian;’ that was my introduction to his work. I hadn’t seen it or anybody else he looks like, he kind of came to my attention through Morrison,” Quitely stated.
While “Multiversity” and “Jupiter’s Children” are for two different publishers that tell very different stories, Quitely agreed there were some similarities in tone on many of the projects he’s drawn. Strolling with CBR over to the MorrisonCon signing room, Quitely concluded that when choosing his projects, much like choosing to come to the convention and choosing to work on “Multiversity” and “Jupiter’s Children,” it was all about the writers.
“Usually it’s the writer I’m working with, which most often is Grant. If there’s a possibility to do creator-owned I — actually, if I can alternate between company owned and creator-owned, I like doing that,” Quitely said. “It’s almost a different process deciding each time; I’ve come to that point where I’m deciding what I’m going to do next and it’s always been fortunate that I have that choice.”
“There’s not a single road to making these decisions, but usually decisions are based on project — I tend to get really fun offers!” Quitely added.
“Multiversity” is tentatively scheduled for release late 2013; “Jupiter’s Children” has also been tentatively pushed to spring 2013.