As part of this year’s Glasgow Comic Con (GCC), the Glasgow Print Studio (GPS) is presenting an exhibition of art from comic books written by one of the city’s favourite sons, Mark Millar.
The free exhibition, entitled Comic Art: Millarworld and Beyond, is on display in the main gallery of the Glasgow Print Studio’s Trongate studio from 2 July until 30 August. The GPS also held a preview on 1 July, with Millar in attendance, and Comic Conventions was there to get a first look.
As the exhibition title makes clear, Mark Millar is the inspiration for this show. He has appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list, walked the red carpet with Hollywood royalty and Stan Lee has him on speed dial. When Millar stopped writing for Marvel five years ago, he set about becoming his own brand with Millarworld, a plan that was so successful he can seemingly pick his artistic collaborators with an unheard of freedom and who has five works in development by various film studios.
Millar is completely at home at these social/promotional events and chatted happily with visitors for two hours. It was a pity none of his collaborators were there, although to be fair all but one live in other countries. At least one GCC guest was there in the form of Barry Kitson, one of the most popular and likeable artists on the con circuit, and representatives from GCC and Black-Hearted Press, including their head honcho Sha Nazir, were also in attendance. The crowd was healthy, busy while not being crowded.
However, the main reason to be there was the art – and, boy, is it worth the effort. Images created for Millarworld properties by superstar artists such as Dave Gibbons, Goran Parlov, Leinil Yu, John Romita junior, Phil Noto, Sean Murphy, Adam Hughes and Millar’s fellow Glaswegian Frank Quitely adorned the walls, showing pages from series like Kingsman, Secret Service; Kick-Ass; Rocket Man; Superior and other works including Jupiter’s Legacy.
Most art was displayed larger than the traditional 11×17 artboard, with some images dominating entire walls. A rampaging T-Rex on one wall appears almost life-size. A hooded character from Kick-Ass towers above the gallery visitors, ominously holding aloft a blood-splattered chainsaw. Another wall has an intricately detailed submarine big enough to climb inside. A gargantuan figure points a cannon-like gun directly at visitors. These large displays, while necessarily small in number, dominated the exhibition and alone make a visit to the GPS worthwhile. They really are incredible to see.
Very limited edition archival-quality prints of the art, in runs of ten or fifteen, were available to purchase at prices ranging from £180 up to £600, while £2160 would buy you one of the gigantic, made-to-order vinyl prints. In Millar’s lifetime, comic art has gone from being given away to the kid delivering doughnuts to costing hundreds for a copy of an original work. Changed days. Comics are no longer a niche market aimed at kids and their pocket money: they are mainstream, commercial and a legitimate art form with a price tag to brag about.
Anyone attending GCC – or even just visiting Glasgow – should visit the studio to see the lovely art on display, especially the enlarged pieces. You won’t be disappointed.
It might be an idea, however, to leave the credit card at home.
Mark Millar is a guest at GCC on Sunday afternoon and will be located on the ground floor atrium of the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Sauchiehall Street.
The Glasgow Print Studio – http://www.glasgowprintstudio.co.uk/
Glasgow Comic Con – http://www.glasgowcomiccon.com/
Thanks to Robert Menzies for the review