I should preface this by saying I’m an unashamed Quitely fan. In fact, the only signed comic I own is Jupiter’s Legacy #1. And let’s not even talk about multiple trips to the Frank Quitely: The Art of Comics exhibition at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove. So in all honesty, this book was always likely to get a pretty glowing review from me.
But even with that said, to be able to study Quitely’s pencils, in detail, at leisure and at length, is a sheer joy that cannot be overstated. It’s unbelievably informative, whatever your feelings on the man himself, whether you’re coming as fan or creator (or both). To see the dynamism and the creative process in full feels almost voyeuristic, a guilty pleasure that somehow you shouldn’t be privy to.
Whilst sketches have long been a mainstay of trades, the last book that made me feel like this was Hush Unwrapped, with its raw pencils laid bare. Now, in an era where artists (and their loving writers) tweet and Instagram a slew of sketches on a daily basis, I did wonder if a book like this would still feel relevant. But it most certainly does – it’s a beautiful, enchanting collection, as raw and visceral as so much of its subject matter.
That’s something which is definitely most obvious in the later section of the book, taking in work as diverse as We3 – revisiting the legendary raisin box of sketches – to his work on the hypnotic horror animation Nothing to Declare, and his iconic Zombie Granny cover to The Walking Dead #100. But there is always, somehow, something delicate, a defense of touch that elevates the gruesome, making it oddly magical, always.
This is a glorious book, one that I honestly cannot do justice to. So go on, treat yourself, and dive into the sketchbooks of Frank Quitely.
Drawings+Sketches is available through BHP’s webstore and Amazon as well as all good bookshops from the 10th of May.