While superheroes proliferate at the cinema and on TV, it’s important to keep in mind that these all came from humble beginnings in the pages of comic books.
We all know the likes of Spider-Man and Batman, but the world of indie comics has just as much to offer, with Glasgow home to its fair share of comic creators.
Here, Gary Watson looks at some of the best titles currently being produced in the city.
And Then Emily Was Gone
A dark horror mystery that tells the story of missing girl Emily, her friend that’s desperate to find out where she went and former detective Greg Hellinger, who is coaxed into taking on a new case. The investigation soon moves us to a remote community on the Orkney Islands, a place Emily called home and where the locals hide their inner demons alongside the very real monsters they try to keep away from prying eyes. Writer John Lees messes with our head in the best possible way as his nightmarish tale intrigues and unsettles in equal measure, while Iain Laurie gives the monsters a scary realism. Critically acclaimed and picked up through publisher ComixTribe, the story has gone from a local success story to a globally recognized series.
— Dogooder Comics (@DogooderComics) November 11, 2014
Central character Fun Mudlifter lives a fairly mundane life, which is surprising as she was raised by trolls in the moat of a bridge. Her days become far more exciting with the arrival of a sword from the world above. This kicks off her adventures that’s filled with ghosts, knights, castles and magic and, with her goal firmly in her sights, she fights her way through challenges to unravel the mystery of where she’s from. Creators Colin Bell and Neil Slorance have a created an all-ages book that will appeal to any comic reader with its humour and high-paced action. Released under Colin’s Do Gooder Comics banner, it hits its fourth and final issue this summer and after sweeping the board at last year’s Scottish Independent Comic Book Alliance (SICBA) awards there’s a lot of buzz around this one.
— vitalpublishing (@vitalpublishing) March 23, 2015
Taking the members of the UK’s Royal Family, changing their names and dropping them in the middle of a fight to the death for the crown, we see familiar faces fighting it out in Royal Descent. There’s a hint of Battle Royale or The Hunger Games with this that sees a fairly brutal series of televised kills, as the masses soak up the latest reality TV show that may have gone too far. The presenters give this a matter-of-fact feel and the result is entertainment and unrest in the wider population in a country not too dissimilar to our own. A satirical comic that was recently remastered and re-released through Vital Publishing, writer John Richard Farman and artist John Howard have created a phenomenal book that may have courted some controversy given its central premise, but the wider questions it asks are valid ones.
Escape from Coatbridge
Escape From Coatbridge – Coming Soon pic.twitter.com/tHxttTwtu8
— Gavin Boyle (@untilthegav) September 17, 2014
Taking the Escape From New York plot and relocating this to sunny Coatbridge, we see a great reworking full with local sights, banter and amazingly funny set-up. Some Trident nuclear weapons have fallen into the wrong hands at the Coatbridge Penal Colony and only one man can save the day – Tommy Vango. Tommy takes on the Snake Plisken mantel but with more of a Rab C. Nesbitt vibe which results in a mix of all-out action and laugh out loud moments. Gavin Boyle creates another amazing comic and it’s one of those rare issues you can read and re-read with the same sense of fun each time. Gavin’s writing brings the real Scottish vibe to the story to the extent that you can almost hear the accents in your head, while the simple artwork emphasises his talent.
Rollerskates and Breakfast Dates
— MJ Wallace (@TheMysteriousMJ) July 8, 2014
Real life is given an interesting spin as this autobiographical set of strips brings us the events of MJ and her new boyfriend’s fun-filled days. In this creation though, her boyfriend takes the form of a bear and it all kind of works in a strangely brilliant way. It’s a mixture of the mundane and the intriguing which are all elevated by the addition of a bear and some great writing. MJ Wallace does a weekly strip as well as having some printed in comic book form and they’re instantly relatable, turning this into a hidden gem. A real world full of recognisable events that are sad, happy and, most importantly, an honest account of real life and the things we face each day. An uplifting read from cover to cover.
Main image: Dungeon Fun