HE'S a rock star in the world of comic book art, famed for his depictions of Batman, Robin and The X-Men.
Vincent Deighan’s work has provided inspiration for some of Hollywood’s biggest movie franchises.
But Vincent wasn’t a fan of comics when he was growing up. Like most Scots kids of his generation, he spent many hours during his primary school years enjoying the Beano and Beezer, Oor Wullie and The Broons.
Superhero comics just weren’t for him in his teenage years.
Flip the pages forward more than three decades and Vincent’s alter ego – Frank Quitely – is one of the world’s most sought-after comic book artists.
He has worked for Marvel and DC Comics, penning iconic characters ranging from Superman and Wonder Woman to the New X-Men.
During collaborations with a number of his favourite writers, including fellow Scot Grant Morrison, he has seen his award-winning work go straight to the top of the comic book chart.
Despite his success, Vincent hasn’t packed up his artist’s easel and headed for the US, where he enjoys celebrity status among comic fans.
Instead, he continues to work from a modest studio in Glasgow city centre.
As he looks forward to a new comic- inspired exhibition opening at the Hunterian Art Gallery in the city – where many of his original drawings will go on public display for the first time – he said Scotland has every right to be proud of its place in comic history.
Vincent, who played with the phrase “quite frankly” to create his pen name, said: “A comic created in Scotland – The Glasgow Looking Glass – is believed to be the world’s first comic.
“But even before I knew anything about that, I was aware of Scotland being a significant place for comics.
“There are so many Scots doing amazing things in the comic world, and that has come from years and years of them honing their craft.
“Back in the late 80s and early 90s, there was a thriving indy scene as far as comics were concerned that must be more than twice the size now.
“We’ve even got Dundee University running a comic studies course and we have courses too in comic art and design.”
When he left, he set up his own business, accepting commissions for everything from painting portraits and murals to designing posters for nightclubs.
He fell into the world of comic art by chance.
He said: “Most comic artists have been comic book fans all their lives but that is not the case for me.
“I enjoyed comics as a young child then stopped reading them as a teenager – but did make a few of my own during my teenage years.
“I didn’t make them because I was driven by a love of comics – I just loved drawing.
“I would make a comic just as I would go on and draw different covers for my albums or even make birthday cards for my family.
“After I left college and was trying to make a living through my drawing and painting, I heard about a bunch of guys in the Trongate who were putting their own comic together and were looking for people who could write and draw their own short, humorous stories.
“I had the time so thought I would give it a go and something just clicked. I found I really loved what I was doing and everything just grew from there.”
Vincent and his friends created the comic Electric Soup, with the young artist drawing a comic strip called The Greens, a parody of The Broons.
They took it to sell at comic conventions across the country, where industry experts repeatedly encouraged him to submit examples of his artwork to the big names in comic publishing.
Vincent, who grew up in Rutherglen, near Glasgow, made up four pages of a Batman chase and fight scene which he sent off on spec.
The first editor to respond was David Bishop of Judge Dredd. Vincent worked for the comic from the early to mid-90s before being scouted by publishing houses in America.
His first commission from DC Comics was to illustrate short stories for a black and white coffee table-style book.
The father of three has gone on to depict many of the world’s most famous superheroes and villains.
Vincent said: “The first superhero work I did was a Batman comic set in Scotland.
“It was written by Alan Grant, another Scottish writer, and the story revolved around Bruce Wayne going on a visit to Scotland and the Rosslyn Chapel. I didn’t know anything about Rosslyn Chapel at the time – it was before The Da Vinci Code – so I made two trips through and took lots of pictures as I wanted my drawings to do the building justice.”
Vincent says he loved the change in reaction his work received once he started depicting such well-known superheroes and villains.
He said: “For about the first 10 years of my career, when I met people and they asked what I did, I could see that me drawing for the likes of 2020 Visions and Missionary Man meant nothing to them.
“But when I said I drew Batman and Robin, Superman and New X-Men, suddenly everyone was like ‘Oh, wow’.”
Vincent has worked on a number of joint projects with Morrison, with many of the comics being turned into cartoon series.
A review of their All-Star Superman partnership by the much-respected Booklist read: “Morrison’s affection for the Superman cast shines through on every page as he homes in on their iconic demeanours – quietly noble Superman, bumbling Clark Kent, suspicious Lois Lane, boyishly enthusiastic Jimmy Olsen and brilliantly evil Lex Luthor.
“Meanwhile, collaborator Quitely shows that he might be the perfect comic book artist: subtle when necessary, cartoonish when appropriate and adroit with the action sequences.
“Together, writer and artist devise a Man of Steel who is both respectfully classic and excitingly contemporary.”
Vincent is currently working with Mark Millar, from Coatbridge, on new American superhero story Jupiter’s Legacy.
The pair co-own the rights to the characters in the successful series and Vincent is hopeful it may one day be turned into a hit animation.
He said: “When Grant and I worked on All-Star Superman and Warner turned it into an animation feature, that was great but the success didn’t transfer down to me as I didn’t own the characters.
“Mark and I own the copyright to Jupiter’s Legacy so it would be great to see it go on to have the same success.”
Vincent believes his own success is down to passion, hard work and his earliest comic influence, The Broons, which was created by writer-editor RD Low and artist Dudley D Watkins.
He said: “Following in the footsteps of Dudley D Watkins, I do my best not to have any supporting cast in the background of my drawings – no one just stands there doing nothing.
“Wherever you look, whoever you look at, that character will be lost in their own world – whether it’s looking over their shoulder or eaves-dropping.
“As a result, I probably end up spending too much time on some of my drawings but I believe that if you are going to draw something, make it the best you can.”
• Comic Invention, at the Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, opens in March.