Comics: Art & Enterprise Symposium

On 18 May 2016 GSA hosted Comics: Art & Enterprise Symposium with speakers Frank Quitely, Yishan Li, Sha Nazir and Jason Mathis.


The first half of the symposium was spent discussing the medium of comics, its position in popular culture today, and its relationship with other mediums. This latter point focused mostly on the links between comics, television, and film given the recent string of adaptations from comics into these other art forms. Yishan Li spoke about her experience working on the new Buffy graphic novels – a reversal of the norm, as the movie and television series were then adapted into comics. Frank Quitely then talked about his experience working with Mark Millar on Jupiter’s Legacy and how the fact that it has been optioned for a movie did not influence the way that he approached his work. From that, the unique elements contained within the structure of comics were unpacked, such as the control of time, which the audience possesses in comics but is relinquishes in film. Additionally, the notion of comics being more ‘disposable’ (or, as Chris Ware has said, a ‘low-rent’ medium) was addressed, looking to see if this allowed for a more open approach to comics, questioning whether it enabled a greater sense of freedom and experimentation.

After the intermission, the discussion focused on the details behind making comics, the different approaches that were used by Yishan Li and Frank Quitely, and the Sha Nazir spoke about what it’s like to be a creator and publisher. Considerations of digital versus analogue were examined, both in terms of creation and dissemination, with many questions coming from the audience right until the end of the symposium, and then continuing on afterwards in the reception.

There was a pop-up shop that ran through the course of the day which sold work from students and independent makers. The GSA library also had a display of their ‘zine collection, featuring work from GSA, the rest of the UK, and beyond.



Frank Quitely began his career writing and drawing strips for the independently-published Scottish humour anthology Electric Soup before finding his first professional work painting Western and Sci-Fi strips for the UK anthology The Judge Dredd Megazine. He then worked mostly for DC Comics on a variety of shorts, mini-series, ongoing titles, and original graphic novels, including All Star Superman and the creator-owned We3, and on Marvel’s New-X-Men. He’s currently finishing the creator-owned Jupiter’s Legacy at Image Comics, and has several smaller creator-owned projects in the pipeline.

Yishan Li is a professional UK/Chinese manga artist currently living in Edinburgh, UK. You can see a list of her projects at Yishan Li has been drawing since 1998 and has been published internationally including China, USA, France and the UK. She has worked for DC and Darkhorse and is the artist for the Buffy graphic novels coming out in June.

Sha Nazir is an illustrator and designer who has worked on a diverse range of books, from the critically acclaimed The Amazing Mr. Mackintosh through to Mega Penguin. As the publisher at BHP Comics he’s also responsible for releasing new Graphic Novels and Comics from industry legends like John Wagner to break out creators like Clare Forrest in addition to producing the successful Glasgow Comic Con, which last year saw over 10,000 attendees pass through the doors. He is the founding chair of SICBA, the Scottish Independent Comic Book Alliance. His first graphic novel Laptop Guy is to be released June 2016, and his newest book Comic Invention – which accompanies the Hunterian Art Gallery exhibition, Comic Invention: The World’s First Comic – is out now. You can see more at  

Jason Mathis is the Programme Leader for the Glasgow School of Art’s International Foundation. His own practice and research involves comics, having created and distributed his own work under the title ALL YOU CAN EAT, as well as working with local publishers in Glasgow on various projects. In 2013, he worked with Professor Ronan Deazley on the publication ‘Comics and Copyright’, and he plans on creating new issues of ALL YOU CAN EAT in the very near future.

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Photos: Alan McAteer

Supported by:

The Anatomy of Employability: Articulating Graduate Capabilities for the Creative Arts project fund, awarded to GSA by the HEA. (The Higher Education Academy).

The Glasgow School of Art Career Service



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