As part of the celebrations surrounding the upcoming Scottish Comic Book Day on Saturday 26th November, The Community Gallery at Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries is displaying a range of work by comic book creators with a connection to Fife, in an exhibition co-ordinated by Commando writer Colin Maxwell.
While Dundee holds the claim as Scotland’s Comic Capital, many comic Writers, artists and editors for some of the most enduring comics such as Commando, BEANO and 2000AD have have lived, studied and worked in Fife. The Comic Kingdom exhibition, which continues until 14th January, celebrates their work – and that of a new generation of talent.
“A few months ago I was approached by Ross Christie of Fife Cultural Trust, who oversees the running of community spaces, with a proposal to put on a comic-related exhibition in the community gallery at Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries,” Dunfermline-based Commando writer Colin Maxwell, who co-ordinated the exhibition, tells downthetubes. “The gallery was available from late October until January, and the dates would coincide neatly with Scottish Comic Book Day. When meeting with Ross, he asked if it might be possible to focus the exhibition on Fife based creators.
“This certainly made sourcing artwork a bit easier,” he continues. “To provide a bit of context to the exhibition, I decided to include a banner about historical and well-known creators with a connection to Fife, however the main exhibition contains work mostly by those still resident in the area. Some of the displays are of individual’s work, while others are themed e.g. War comics or small-press creators. There is a mixture of prints and original art.
The Comic Kingdom exhibition makes a case for some of the area’s most talented residents over the past 140 years, who were crucial to Scotland’s success in exporting its own versions of comics, also known as the “Ninth Art”, to an international audience.
“People forget that creativity does happen here, even if it’s directed towards the surrounding cities, with comic books really indicative of that,” Ross Christie, who initiated the exhibition, told The Courier newspaper this week, adding that Colin’s industry contacts freed up items that might otherwise have proved awkward to source. Staff at Dunfermline comic book shop Little Shop Of Heroes also offered advice.
The exhibition includes work by Commando artist Graham Manley, nature-inspired Julie Campbell, and Catriona Laird, whose work include the recently-launched My Monster Ex-Girlfriends, now available as a smashing three-issue collection, and Nasty Girls.
“A lot of different comic book creators, especially working in Fife, are touching on elements of their own life as well,” Ross says. “It’s not just the sort of fantastical superheroes you might be expecting. There’s a real variety out there at the moment, with stories and styles that cover all sorts of personal dramas and insights into people’s lifestyles, so it’s quite interesting.”
Alongside the exhibition, there will be a children’s comic workshop with Matt Smith, and a writing workshop with Jim Alexander, to be held at The Craft Room in Dunfermline on Saturday 26th November. The local comic shop, Little Shop of Heroes will have writer/artist Paul Tonner doing portraits and signing his new book The King o’ the Cats, and creators will be dropping in to the gallery, where there will be a sales table featuring some of their comics and artwork.
Scottish Comic Book Day, showcasing Scottish Talent in Comics takes place Saturday 26th November, organiser Colin Maxwell declaring the event promises “No tartan, no haggis, no bagpipes… Just a celebration of Scotland’s cultural contribution to comics and their spin-offs.”
Launched last year, the event is primarily a celebration of comics, graphic novels, comic artwork and related media with a link to Scotland.
No-one owns it. “It’s yours, it’s mine, it’s a’body’s!”, we’re told. Comic shops can participate by having creators along to sell and sign their comics or by displaying comics with a Scottish link (creator, character, location, etc).
If you’re feeling more adventurous, why not have a drawing or writing workshop, or
make a comic of your own? The main thing is to share it widely. Post photos or videos of what you’re doing and use the hashtag #ScottishComicBookDay. (Creators can reach a wider audience by sharing their work on social media with the hashtag).
• Scottish Comic Book Day, showcasing Scottish Talent in Comics Saturday 26th November 2022 | Twitter
• Comic Kingdom runs until 14th January 2023 at Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries, 1-7 Abbot Street, Dunfermline KY12 7NL | 01383 602365 | Online Information
With thanks to Colin Maxwell for photos featured in this report © Colin Maxwell
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.