FanExpo Boston 2018: Frank Quitely Speaks Quite Frankly

by Tito W. James

Tito W. James: FanExpo Boston is one of the first conventions you’ve appeared at in a long time. How does it feel to be back in the con scene?
Frank Quitely: It’s nice to be back. I don’t do a lot of conventions. But the guys who do this convention also organize Toronto Fan Expo; which I’ve been to twice and found that it was very well organized.
TWJ: Is there anything in the current comic book culture that stands out to you?
FQ:  When I started in comics (which was nearly thirty years ago) and went to conventions, it was 90% male. And the (comics) were 75% superhero. And now we’re at a stage where we have more females writing, drawing, coloring, lettering, editing, selling, and buying comics.
Certainly on the Con floor it’s much more 50/50 [males and females]. On the inside of the industry, we have more women making comics than ever before.
TWJ: How have things changed since you started working in comics?
FQ: Now with publishers like Image and online distribution, we have more people making comics. Creators are making different types of comics, more so than in any time in the past. There’s genres and sub-genres that just didn’t exist when I started out in comics.
When I started, anybody could make their own comic. But you’d have to have some small amount of cash to print it and staple it. You’d need to walk around comic shops trying to get someone to pick it up. Nowadays, you can make your own comic digitally and share it with people. For me it’s opened up comics in a way that I couldn’t have foreseen.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have movies, TV shows, games, and multi-media. Comics are mainstream. It’s bigger. It’s reaching more people. I know that we’ve come through a year of low-[sales] figures. But I think across the board there’s a lot more to be proud of and optimistic about than there is to be worrying about.

TWJ: Where do you think comics could be moving in the future?
FQ: As people create their own comics and characters, I’m hoping that creators can monetize their creations at an earlier stage in their career. If it’s adapted for film or TV or whatever.
It used to be that you kinda had to earn your stripes, from decades of building up a name and reputation. And eventually you would do some creator-owned projects and something might happen with it.
TWJ: Speaking of earning your stripes, why is it that the first Grant Morrison TV show we’re getting is Happy?
FQ: [Laughs] Yeah!
But with digital TV, they’re so hungry for content that they’re not just looking at the biggest licensed characters. They’re not just looking at the top-tier of creative talent. They’re looking all over. You could literally just be starting out in your career as a teenager, and make up a bunch of goofy characters, and it becomes an animated thing.
Because of the need for content, this is happening more and more. The other thing is that they don’t just need quality content. They need things that are different, that are personal, stories that are coming from areas where they weren’t looking before. These stories can come from people of any age and people from anywhere.
I genuinely feel pretty optimistic and inspired by so much of what I’m seeing around me.

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