Saturday 27th November is Scottish Comic Book Day! To celebrate all this week we've been sharing some of our favourite comic book by Scottish creators. We've collected those posts together here to give you full run down of some of the best Scottish comics around (in no particular order).
It's Scottish comic book day on Saturday so to celebrate each day this week we're going to bring you one of our favourite comics by Scottish creators. First up is Kingsman by Mark Millar.
Kingman is not just a great read but is now a major movie franchise with a new prequel film The King's Man out really soon.
Day 2 in the run down to #scottishcomicbookday a Batman book that's nothing like any other Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. A work of pure genius from Scottish writer Grant Morrison. If you only read one Batman book read this one.
It's the third day of us celebrating great Scottish comic book creators in the run up to #scottishcomicbookday on Saturday. And we wanted to highlight this somewhat forgotten gem. The Batman/Judge Dredd crossover Judgement on Gotham by Scottish writers Alan Grant and John Wagner. The photo is my own copy bought in 1991, read an uncountable amount of times and signed by both writers.
I absolutely love Alan Moore, in my opinion one of the best comic writers ever. But, I also feel that sometimes the artists that he works with get a bit forgotten. So for today's #scottishcomicbookday post I'm highlighting the excellent work by Scottish artist Eddie Campbell on From Hell.
Grant Morrison has a way of making you look at character you've known all your life with new eyes. Which is what he did when he teamed up with Frank Quietly for All Star Superman. He brought a vulnerability to him I never imagined was possible.
Our mission statement: “Globally democratise comic book creation.”
Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? But what does it mean? Why does global comic book creation even need to be democratised?
We are an industry that has become monopolised by a couple of large companies, who themselves are now owned by even larger companies. A large golden palace where the haves gorge themselves on succulent feasts. While the have nots gather outside with their empty bowls outside begging to be allowed in, while living off the scraps.
You can come to a comic convention to sell your wares but you’ll be competing for attention with a Hollywood actor who’s starred in billion dollar films based on the films of the big publishers. You can go around your comic shops and ask them to sell your comics. If my experience is anything to go by they’ll be super cool and take a few off of you to put on a shelf. But they'll be competing against big headed figurines of the characters, from the films of the big publishers and large displays of their comics. When covid hit you didn’t even have these outlets anymore. You could go on to the large online marketplace for comics but you’ll find that platform equally dominated by the same companies.
It was while touring round the country trying to sell our own comic that we met literally hundreds of talented comic creators. All struggling against these same issues and trying to make a name for themselves. That was when we decided to look for a publisher outside the large publishers who control the industry. I grew up in the 90s a huge fan of the East Bay punk explosion of the time and like EVERYONE else the band Nirvana. So this led me to, somewhat, naively think that they’d be some small publishers that someone like me could approach to work with and use as a stepping stone to larger things. But, even though there were a few small publishers, they appeared as far from the goals we had as creators as we were on our own. There had to be a better way than this. There just had to be...but there wasn’t.
This, for us, is why we need to globally democratise comic book creation. So the thousands and thousands of talented creators can live as full time creators. So, their exciting and brilliant stories can be brought to public attention. The comic book industry is ripe to be disrupted and grown; even more so than the TV and film industry was when Netflix exploded.
Next we just needed to work out the how...
The First Comic Book...Ever
When I first moved to Scotland there were two things that I was excited about. The first was that I would be living in the place where my ancestors lived. I was the first generation of my family to be born and grow up south of the border. The other was getting to live in the country that invented comic books. I envisioned, somewhat romantically, that Scotland’s history and impact in the comic industry would be proudly on display for me to immerse myself in.
But that’s not what I found. The comics I’d read as a young child, The Beano, Dandy, Oor Wullie and The Broons all came from Scotland. These were all gateway comics through which I discovered the artform and went on to read books 2000ad. Where I found work by great Scottish comic creators like Grant Morrison which led me to the more well known comic publishing houses and all they have to offer.
Where is the celebration of tis long illustrious history? I’ve seen the odd acknowledgement of it, like a small display hidden in a corner of the new V&A in Dundee and the Oor Wullie statues that were dotted around Aberdeen for charity a few ago but again I have to ask where is the celebration of it?
Initially that’s what I hope to do with this blog, explore and celebrate Scotland’s impact and importance in the comic book industry.
The First Comic Book...Ever.
In 1934 National Allied Comics was founded and this went on to become Detective Comics (DC), the home of Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman et al. In 1939 Timely Comics was started, this grew into the now Disney owned behemoth Marvel Comics. Over a hundred years before this in 1825 the world’s first comic book was released...in Glasgow.
Glasgow Looking Glass was a comic written in and inspired by the city. And it’s the earliest example of a mass produced comic book. Dr Laurance Grove of Glasgow University delivered a presentation about the comic in 2013 at a major literary conference. Explaining “Tens of thousands of copies, up to 100,000, were distributed to the drinking houses and other properties around Glasgow and then beyond.”
Figures that any comic book publisher in the world today would love to see.
The book which later became known as The Northern Looking Glass, was the brainchild of draughtsman William Heath and was published by one of Glasgow’s earliest lithograph printers John Watson. Released on a fortnightly basis the broadsheet comic was lavishly illustrated and commented on local and international news stories. While also giving humorous and anaric snapshots of life in Glasgow at the time.
Dr Grove said: “It comes out of Glasgow as a fun place, then as now – it’s accessible and affordable and the creative base is here.
“It’s the same as why Glasgow keeps producing Turner Prize winners. Glasgow does it really well. Glasgow tells stories – it’s one big storybook.”
It is widely accepted among experts that the Glasgow Looking Glass predates all other comic books and it undoubtedly was a trailblazer for the comics that we read today.
Ever wondered when speech bubbles were first used? Now you know. Ever wondered when the phrase ‘To be continued…’ was first read by a comic book fan. That’s right, it was in the pages of Glasgow Looking Glass, a hundred years before anyone had even heard the names Marvel or DC.
So, there’s only one way I can sign off this first Untitled blog.
To be continued…
Here is the main man himself from the first ever comic I read, Oor Willie. My Grandma bought my an Oor Willie annual when I was about 6 years old. The most Scottish of comics that speaks in a truly authentic voice and has endured for generations.
It's finally here! Scottish Comic Book Day! Go to your local comic shop and find out what they have by Scottish creators. You won't regret it! We are back to Mark Millar with his book Kick-Ass. A subversion on the Spiderman origin story that went on to spawn a world wide film franchise. Get involved #scottishcomicbookday