Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and Diamondsteel Comics have announced the launch of Scotland’s first traditional comic book superhero.
The #1 issue of the brand new title, Saltire – Invasion, is set for release at the 2013 Dundee Comics Expo on the 26th – 27th October, but the official launch is today, 18th September, exactly one year before the poll on Scottish independence.
Saltire is not, of course, the first Scottish superhero – US publisher Marvel lays claim to several, including New Mutant Rahne Sinclair for example, and there have been several independently created super-powerd characters, as well as plenty of hyper beings born from many a DC Thomson comic (including SuperGran!), going right back to the 1920s. But Saltire is certainly one of the most ambitious superhero launches from Scotland in recent times.
Set within an expansive time frame amidst the natural beauty of Scotland, the Saltire stories interweave the history and legends of Scotland with the dynamic thrills of the modern superhero genre. In Saltiure – Invasion, when a peaceful land is faced with the might of all conquering Rome, its legendary guardians must stand as one or kneel before an oppressive empire. As the sun rises, the immortal protector awakens to face the ultimate battle for freedom…
Created and written by Glaswegian John Ferguson, the artistic team for the new venture were discovered through a competition at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee to find the best emerging talent in the country. Competition winners Gary Welsh and Tone Julskjaer were given the task of bringing Ferguson’s dark and gritty superhero to life.
”They’ve done a wonderful job of capturing Scotland’s landscape along with the dynamism of Saltire, a very powerful character.” said Ferguson.
The competition was facilitated by Comics Module Leader Phillip Vaughan. “The work that our students have done on this project is incredible, and the professionalism of the art is testament to the development of Comics Studies at the University of Dundee. Myself, along with Dr. Chris Murray in the School of Humanities, are pushing the employability of our students, and Saltire is a fine example of a live project with a tangible outcome. This week we launch the Cam Kennedy Comics Studio in the University, a dedicated space for comics students, Cam being Scotland’s real life comics superhero!”
Describing his new creation, Ferguson continues, “Saltire is the immortal guardian of the nation. He’s created in prehistory to defend the twelve clans of Scotland from the perils of the expanding world. Saltire being immortal means the comic books can take place at any time in history, sometimes the ancient world, sometimes modern history, or even in the future.
The new comic book is the first in an on-going series that Ferguson hopes will capture the imagination of the Scottish public and beyond. “I feel Scotland really misses an iconic superhero to champion as its own. Hopefully people will see this and relate similarly to the big American franchises which everyone loves, like The Avengers or Batman.” Ferguson suggests. “The Saltire series takes a lot of the lost mythology of Scotland and gives it a modern comic book flavour as a variety of villains look to disrupt the Scottish way of life.
“Scotland’s heroic figures are all centuries old, hopefully Saltire can fill that void and let people round the world know Scotland is not all tartan and shortbread.”
• Saltire – Invasion by John Ferguson with art by Gary Welsh & Tone Julskjaer is published by Diamondsteel Comics. Web: diamondsteelcomics.com; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/saltirecomics; Twitter: https://twitter.com/SaltireComics