Glasgow & West Scotland

Glasgow Comic Con sees heroes return

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Media captionNew technology means that a growing band of Scottish artists are creating the artwork and stories for some of the world's best known comics

The first comic book convention in Glasgow for 15 years takes place on Saturday.

The event features special appearances by some of the top writers and artists in the comics industry.

There will also be talks, seminars and an army of ardent fans dressed for the occasion.

The Glasgow Comic Con at Queen's Cross Church in Maryhill sold out months ago, largely because many of the big name attractions.

Many artists and writers producing some of the top-selling comics around the globe are Scots, living and working in their native country.

Comics matter to Scotland for a number of reasons; for a start, Dundee is home to DC Thompson, the publishers behind The Beano, The Dandy, Oor Wullie and The Broons - with Dundee University recently announcing the UK's first-ever post-graduate degree course in comics studies.

Coatbridge to Hollywood

Writer Mark Millar is unquestionably one of the most popular and influential comic creators in the world; having spent his formative years in his native Coatbridge, he now resides in Glasgow where he tirelessly produces hit after hit.

Millar's comic-book series Wanted was adapted into a Hollywood action movie starring Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy with a production budget of $75m.

It grossed $340m worldwide and a sequel is in pre-production. More importantly, the story and characters are not owned by a large corporation like Marvel or DC Comics in the way Batman, Superman and the X-Men are - it is entirely creator-owned by Millar and his artist collaborator JG Jones.

Similarly, Millar's controversial Kick-Ass comic series, which told the story of a young New Yorker who decides to become a super-hero despite possessing no special powers or skills, sold in the hundreds of thousands and grossed more than $100m when it was transformed for the big screen in 2010.

His next comics-to-screen adaptation, Nemesis, a deliberate inversion of the superhero concept - where the villain is the central character of the story - is being directed by Tony Scott of Top Gun fame.

Then there's Frank Quitely, arguably one of the most sought-after artists in world comics, with a uniquely inventive storytelling style that few in the industry can match.

His big break arrived in the early 1990s when he was commissioned to illustrate a series for the UK publisher Rebellion and his work has since encompassed iconic characters such as the X-Men, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. His next major project will be with Millar.

Image caption Glasgow Comic Con follows a week of events across the city

For the past 25 years, Glasgow's Grant Morrison has written some of the best groundbreaking stories in comics, including the highest-selling original graphic novel of all time, Batman: Arkham Asylum, along with a reinvention of the Man of Steel with Quitely, in their best-selling All Star Superman series.

Morrison's genre-defying series We3 - also with Quitely - about a trio of technologically-enhanced animals modified by the government for modern warfare, is currently being adapted for the big screen.

In September, Morrison will spearhead a revolutionary revamp of every single character in the DC Comics universe when all 52 of the company's major monthly titles are reset to issue number one.

Morrison has been asked to start from scratch with the world's longest-running monthly superhero comic book, Action Comics, featuring Superman.

He refers to Superman the "greatest idea we've had as a human species" and his run on Action Comics will serve to retell the character's origins, introducing a modern perspective to the title that first introduced the character in 1938.

The roster of Scottish writers and artists doesn't stop there. Edinburgh's Gordon Rennie is one of the current writers of the popular British character Judge Dredd, while English-born Ferg Handley - also an Edinburgh resident - is writer on DC Thompson's popular Commando Comics.

Alan Grant helped invent the world inhabited by Dredd and served as Batman writer for almost 10 years.

Gary Erskine works alongside Quitely in Glasgow's Hope Street Studios and has served as artist on the Star Wars series of comics, a revamp of Dan Dare and the aforementioned Judge Dredd.

The list goes on.

At Saturday's convention in Maryhill, more than 600 fans will peruse and purchase new and rare comics, artwork, obtain autographs from their idols and seek out sketches of their heroes.

The organisers say the response to this year's event has been so overwhelming, work has already begun on plans for next year - with more big names being drawn from Scotland's front doorstep to entertain the crowd

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