Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

How Superman gave knock-out blow to racist Ku Klux Klan: Artist Frank Quitely on comic heroes’ long history of tackling real-world problems

© Andrew CawleyComic artist Frank Quitely
Comic artist Frank Quitely

NEW film BlacKkKlansman hit cinemas this weekend telling the true story of how a black policeman infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan.

But it wasn’t the first time the white supremacist group had been dealt a devastating blow by an unlikely hero.

In the 1940s they were almost destroyed – by comic book hero Superman.

A popular serial called Klan of the Fiery Cross, in which the fictional Man of Steel took on the hate group, inspired millions of Americans to turn against the real version.

Comic heroes have a long history of tackling real world problems, though, according to renowned Scottish artist Frank Quitely.

During the 30 years he’s been involved in the industry, he has drawn award-winning comics featuring The X-Men, Batman and Superman.

Quitely, real name Vincent Deighan, says comics are at the forefront of addressing issues like racism and sexism.

“Comics have always been able to respond to the times quicker than literature or television or films,” he said.

“The turnaround for the production of comics, from someone writing a script about an issue they’ve been thinking about to it landing in the shop, is very short.

“It’s easy to look back on these small changes and play them down but in television and literature it’s small steps by people addressing things they’d like changed.

“There is a freedom in comics, though, because you’re not part of a big TV network or you’re not writing a gigantic movie. There is a little bit more scope for taking chances or making comments about things.”

Yesterday, Frank spoke about his work at What’s The Sketch, an Edinburgh International Book Festival event which looked at his career and the future of comics.

An exhibition of Frank’s work was held at Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow last year to celebrate his 30 years in the industry. “Comics, when I started out, were just in a period where they were growing up,” he said. “The stories were dealing with current affairs.

“When I started, it was mostly men that worked in the industry, that went to the comic book conventions and the superheroes were men.

“Now we have more diversity in the industry, both in gender and ethnicity. We have more women at conventions and more women writing and drawing comics.”

Heroes packing a political punch

Lynda Carter as iconic Wonder Woman

X-Men

The mainstream comic is a multi-million-pound movie franchise but since the 60s has tackled bullying, homophobia, bigotry and civil rights.

Wonder Woman

Created in 1941 by a psychologist to subvert the idea of masculinity, the writer of Wonder Woman said the purpose was to influence children into thinking women can be as powerful as men.

Green Arrow

Now the star of moody TV show Arrow, in the 1960s the superhero went from battling bank robbers to tackling heroin addiction, racial inequality, and social injustice of every kind.

Black Panther

Created in the 1960s, Black Panther featured a black character who battled the Ku Klux Klan, and was the head of a fictional African nation which was the most powerful in the world.

Batwoman

Kathy Kane plays Batman’s female counterpart and in 2006 it was revealed the character was a lesbian. In June, actor Ruby Rose was cast as the character in a forthcoming television series.

Ms Marvel

Next year Brie Larson will star in Captain Marvel. The current character donning the cape is Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old Pakistani-American, and the first Muslim to headline her own comic.