This brief article is a critical response to the illustrated portrait The Kelvin Hall Clown (2019), donated to the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA) by Eisner Award–winning and internationally renowned Glasgow-based comics artist Frank Quitely (We3 [Vertigo DC Comics, 2004], All-Star Superman [DC Comics, 2008], and Jupiter’s Legacy [Image Comics, 2013–]). The essay contextualizes the portrait of a clown not only in the tensely bound aesthetics of humor and tragedy but also specifically in the context of contemporary Scottish urban literature and culture. From a brief history of Scotland in the 1980s, the essay examines Quitely’s portrait as a carefully attuned response to questions of Scottish identity, masculinity, and the role that labor and violence play in the shaping of postindustrial cities like Glasgow. Furthermore, the essay muses on Quitely’s work in portraiture, and introduces readers to his portraiture not only as popular covers of superhero comics but also as examples of Quitely’s aesthetic and philosophical experiments with concepts of corporeality and faciality, which, in our estimation, offer vitalistic and existential insights that challenge national, classical, transcendent, or Cartesian models of subjectivity.

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