Comic Invention

18 March - 17 July 2016 
Hunterian Art Gallery
Admission £5.00/£3.00

Comic Invention identity.


Comic Invention spans centuries and genres to take an enigmatic look at how we tell stories with pictures. Works by Lichtenstein, Warhol, Picasso and Rembrandt sit alongside medieval manuscripts and Renaissance riches, graphical treasures from ancient Egypt, satirical hipsters from the 18th century, Turner Prizers, and an extensive selection from one of the finest modern day comic artists in Frank Quitely - including previously unseen original artwork for Batman, New X-Men and All Star Superman.

All this hangs on a simple question: where and when was the World’s First Comic?

We give an answer—Glasgow, 1825—then tell you it's a trick question, show how the themes of the past match those of today, that you cannot separate high art from low art, and that every picture tells a story- although not always the story that was intended. Above all you will discover that the culture of comics is all around us.

What is a Comic?

Egyptian 6th Century BC. Funeral Stele of Tadihor, Limestone.One answer is that a comic is a mixture of images and written text that together form a narrative. Based on that, we explore in pictures the story of how people tell stories in pictures.

Our timeline stretches from Ancient Egypt and through the centuries, but we will also see that the culture of comics is the culture of today.

And should you feel the need for speech bubbles, frames and superheroes they are also here.

The Invention of Comics

The Glasgow Looking GlassIf people have always told stories with pictures, why have critics generally agreed that Swiss schoolmaster Rodolphe Töpffer (1799-1846) invented comics when he published his M. Jabot in 1835? Jabot’s manuscript and other related works, generously lent from the Kunzle Collection in Los Angeles, are on show for the first time ever.

A key element is mass reception as a comic needs to be take-home, which is not the case for an Egyptian slab or a medieval manuscript. Lithographic techniques did make this possible in the 19th century. Overlooked, however, was the 1825 publication that ticked all the boxes, the Glasgow Looking Glass

Comics and Culture

Girls’ Romances no. 78, DC Comics, September 1961.  26.0 x 18.0.  David A. Roach.When Roy Lichtenstein uses Girls’ Romances to create a painting, is it art? What if Sha Nazir turns it into Glasgow hipsters for an exhibition poster? Comics are palimpsests—multiple layerings—of the surrounding culture, and the culture around us—advertising, Instagram and tabloids—increasingly reflects the text/image ethos of comics.

High Art and Low Art: can we differentiate these if Picasso draws a strip, or if Frank Quitely is framed on a gallery wall?

Pop Art: the movement that made the everyday into art, including comics.

Horror Comics: not all comics are funny, but they can be socially relevant.

Every Picture Tells a Story

Rembrandt van Rijn, Entombment Sketch, c. 1630.Perhaps all graphic art has an implied narrative? Rembrandt’s Entombment is single frame, but the burial of Jesus implies a sequence, namely the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Some pictures include before-and-afters in the background, but events left to our imagination are nonetheless still there. As for interaction with text, that might be by words on the canvas, through the artwork’s title, or via an implicit script, here the bible.

On Byres Road will you see the comic invention mindset everywhere? The Irn Bru poster telling of Scottish consumerism? The tick on someone’s shoes? The Picture-Message you’ve just received?…

The Art of Frank Quitely

Frank Quitely, Missionary Man cover, issue 12 Classic 2000 AD, October 1996. (Judge Dredd Megazine,  Writer Gordon Rennie.)Frank Quitely, a spoonerism for Quite Frankly, is the penname of Vincent Deighan (b. 1968), the most in-demand graphic artist working in the industry today.

Principally affiliated with DC Comics, Frank Quitely is the Rembrandt of the graphic novel, boasting such titles as X-Men, The Sandman, The Walking Dead, Judge Dredd, Batman and Robin and Superman. His best-known collaborators are fellow Glaswegians Grant Morrison and Mark Millar.

This is the first extensive public display of Frank Quitely’s original artwork. It is his eclectic inventiveness that links together the inventive eclecticism of Comic Invention.


The Making of Comic Invention
Wednesday 9 March 2016
6.00pm - 7.30pm
Institut français d’Ecosse, 13 Randolph Crescent, Edinburgh EH3 7TT
Admission free - booking required
Ahead of the opening on 18 March 2016 at the Hunterian Gallery in Glasgow, Laurence Grove and Peter Black, co-curators of the exhibition Comic Invention, walk us through the ups and downs of its making. This highly-illustrated talk will guide you through the ups and downs of the making of the exhibition, putting particular emphasis on the numerous French connections. A talk in English by Laurence Grove and Peter Black. Please book in advance: 0131 225 5366 or

Comic Invention Exhibition Tours
From May 2016
Hunterian Art Gallery
Admission included in exhibition ticket price
Special exhibition tours led by our expert student guides. Tours last approximately 30 minutes and take place on Wednesdays at 1.30pm and Saturdays and Sundays at 12.00pm. 

Comic Invention Salon des Refusés
Friday 8 April 2016
2.00pm and 2.45pm 
Hunterian Art Gallery
Free - booking required
Two 30 minute sessions which offer a rare chance to see behind the scenes at the Hunterian Art Gallery. At this special curator-led event, participants will see items from our collection that did not make it into our Comic Invention exhibition. Numbers limited.
Book your place via Eventbrite.

Comic Invention Lunchtime Talks
20 April - 6 July 2016
1.00pm - 1.15pm
Hunterian Art Gallery
Admission free

20 April
The Comic Invention Exhibition 
Professor Laurence Grove, Professor of French and Text/Image Studies, University of Glasgow

27 April 
Hogarth and the Comic Strip
Peter Black, The Hunterian

4 May 
A Renaissance Super Hero? Comical adventures in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili
Julie Gardham, University Special Collections, University of Glasgow

11 May 
Spiegelman’s Maus: Drawing the unshowable
Guillaume Lecomte, University of Glasgow

18 May 
Rodolphe Töpffer: The World's Second Comic (and America's First)
Lise Tannahill, University of Glasgow

25 May
Using Comics to Engage with Science
Dr Vickie Curtis, University of Glasgow

1 June 
Anti-Scottish Prints: Anonymous trolling in the Golden Age of Caricature
Bob MacLean, University Library, University of Glasgow

8 June 
Abraham and Superman: Quite Frankly, they belong together 
Zanna Domoney-Lyttle, Hunterian Associate

15 June 
No-one Does it Better: Frank Quitely and The Birds of Prey 
Cia Jackson, University of Glasgow

22 June 
The World’s First Comic? 
Nyla Ahmad, University of Glasgow

29 June 
Looking back on Comic Invention
Professor Laurence Grove, Professor of French and Text/Image Studies, University of Glasgow

6 July
Rembrandt the story teller
Peter Black, The Hunterian

Frank Quitely In Conversation 
Friday 13 May 2016
6.30pm - 9.00pm
Hunterian Art Gallery Lecture Theatre
Tickets £10.00 (includes wine reception and admission to exhibition) 
An exclusive one to one interview with comic book artist Frank Quitely by journalist Gareth Vile. Principally affiliated with DC Comics, Frank Quitely is the Rembrandt of the graphic novel, boasting such titles as X-Men, The Sandman, The Walking Dead, Judge Dredd, Batman and Robin and Superman. His best-known collaborators are fellow Glaswegians Grant Morrison and Mark Millar. Gareth will talk to Frank about his work and the examples shown in the Comic Invention exhibition at The Hunterian. 
Book your place via Eventbrite.

Comic Book Creations!
Workshops with Sha Nazir for 7-12 year olds
Saturday 14 May 2016 
10.30am and 1.30pm
Hunterian Art Gallery
Free - booking required
Join creators from BHP Comics in a fast paced workshop, learning how we make comics and how you can begin to turn your own stories into comic books creations. Themes: drawing, storying telling, writing, planning, sketch-book enthusiasts, illustrators, drawers and doodlers. Two sessions available.
Book morning session via Eventbrite.
Book afternoon session via Eventbrite.

Glasgow ComicCon
In partnership with Comic Invention, Glasgow ComicCon will take place from 28 June - 3 July 2016 at the CCA and Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow. 



‌The Hunterian would like to thank the following individuals and organisations for their support.

Friends of GU Library logo.Lenders

‌‌Martin Boyce
Glasgow Life
University of Glasgow Library, Special Collections
Professor David Kunzle
The Modern Institute
Professor Anton Muscatelli
Frank Quitely
David A. Roach‌
Scottish National Gallery of Modern ArtWatson Foundation logo.

Financial Support

The Watson Foundation
Friends of Glasgow University Library 

Thanks also to:

Alison Adams, Mark Boyle, Martin Craig, Peter Davies, Zanne Domoney-Lyttle, Duncan Dornan, Samuel Dyer, Patrick Elliott, Julie Gardham, Paul Gravett, Harry Grove, Jane Grove, Sarah Hepworth, James McGonigal, Robert McLean, Sha Nazir, Marta Perovic, Kath Roper-Caldbeck, Barbara Roth, Nicola Russell, Stephen Rawles, Graeme Smith, Gareth Vile.

Admission Charges

£5.00/£3.00 concession

Double ticket:
£8.00/£5.00 concession (includes admission to Comic Invention and The Mackintosh House)

Free Entry:
Children and young people under 18
University of Glasgow staff and students*
Hunterian Friends*
ASVA members*
ICOM members*
UK Museums Association members*

Concessionary rate:
Senior Citizens (60 and over)

50% discount:
Art Fund members with National Art Pass 

*With a valid membership/staff/matriculation card