After mysteriously disappearing from the pages of the Scottish small press magazine Atomic some 30 years ago, superhero Captain Scotland is to return on St Andrews Day 2017, during Book Week Scotland.
“Captain Scotland: Back to the Future”, a new short story featuring the character, will appear on the Scottish-based comic and film website ComicsFlix.org on Thursday 30th November and is written by Tom J Fraser with art by Valentina Mozzo.
Captain Scotland was in part inspired by a chat with the then largely unknown Grant Morrison and Tony O’Donnell, hosted by Near Myths and Diceman artist Graham Manley and organised by future First Minister Jack McConnell. Grant and Tony told the Atomic team about their character Captain Clyde, who had appeared in three local Scottish newspapers from 1979 – 92.
Captain Scotland had already had a few, very short run outings in zines shared with friends, initially designed with a tip of the hat to Alan Davis’ design for Captain Britain, but after their meeting with Morrison and O’Donnell, the team felt they wanted to develop a character that was ‘gritty’ and set in contemporary Scotland, but had a little bit more hip humour than the Neil Adams / Denny O’ Neil-influenced Captain Clyde.
The first story featuring the new version of Captain Scotland developed for Atomic was set in Edinburgh, with opening scenes in the University science labs, the strip introducing alter-ego Scott Stewart.
The new Captain Scotland, drawn by Craig Conlan, was only teased in issue one of Atomic. His first official appearance would be inside Issue Two, as well as being featured on the front cover (albeit out of costume).
Atomic comic was created by Anthony Foster, who also wrote the original ‘Captain Scotland’ with art by Craig Conlan. The title lasted for 13 issues, sold in speciality comic shops, and was covered in magazine such as NME in the late 1980s and early 90s. It helped launch the careers of several comic creators who went on to do work for 2000AD and US comics.
Despite enthusiasm for the character, when Conlan decided he wanted to do his own things after Issue 6, and Captain Scotland’s adventures came to an abrupt end, even though Atomic itself continued – apart from a one off Captain Scotland poster by 2000AD “Missionary Man” artist Garry Marshall in 1990.
“Captain Scotland was our first national Scottish hero, created in the mid 1980s,” Tom explains. “The new story is a fabulous jumping on point for everyone, as all you thought you knew about the character is completely wrong. ‘Captain Scotland: Back to the Future’ explores what it’s like for a kid to lose 30 years of his life and return home in 2017.
Captain Scotland’s alter ego ‘Scott Stewart’ meets his old friends, who are now in their fifties. He also gets to enjoy some of the sights and sounds of this great country and we throw in a mystery for the start of the Year of Young People 2018, too.
“There will be some contemporary humour for young and old,” Tom Continues. “The story is so current we have even had to change the plot ever so slightly, as real news overtook our fiction. It’s a superhero soap opera after all! We’ve tweaked the look of the character with some great artwork by fresh young artist Valentina Mozzo.
“The original Atomic comic in which ‘Captain Scotland’ first appeared thirty years ago was about promoting new talent. We hope you love this story too.
“We think the character can be a great brand ambassador for Scotland and that opportunity is reflected in this 21st Century reinterpretation of our first national hero. It’s a bit like getting the band back together, especially for Scottish Book Week. There are so many possibilities and great stories to tell. We’ll see what happens next.”
Book Week Scotland 2017
Organised by the Scottish Book Trust, Book Week Scotland is a week-long celebration of books and reading that takes place every November and includes some comic related, such as an appearance by writer Robbie Morrison at Renfrew Library on Friday 1st December, 7.00 pm in a Q&A event hosted by comics guru John McShane.
“Renfrew District Libraries – Linwood, Paisley, Johnstone, etc. – were a great source of entertainment, education and inspiration to me as a kid, so I’m looking forward to the event,” says Robbie.
During Book Week, people of all ages and walks of life will come together in libraries, schools, community venues and workplaces to share and enjoy books and reading. They will be joined in this celebration by Scotland’s authors, poets, playwrights, storytellers and illustrators to bring a packed programme of events and projects to life.
Team Metaphrog are doing two all ages events on 2nd December: in Edinburgh at Stockbridge Library (in the morning), and in Glasgow at Langside Library (pm). More details here
Book Week Scotland
• More about Book Week Scotland, which includes many events at www.scottishbooktrust.com/book-week-scotland
• Captain Scotland: Back to the Future appears on ComicsFlix.org on 30th November 2017
• The full run of Atomic, the well regarded late 1980s/early 90s stripzine from Scotland, from issues 1-6 are now available online – follow the links on this page on ComicsFlix. This includes the full run of Captain Scotland
• Follow ComicsFlix on Twitter @comicsflixukus
• Captain Scotland recently featured in the book The British Superhero by Dr Chris Murray from the University of Dundee
Chris Murray reveals the largely unknown and rather surprising history of the British superhero. It is often thought that Britain did not have its own superheroes, yet Murray demonstrates that there were a great many in Britain and that they were often used as a way to comment on the relationship between Britain and America. Sometimes they emulated the style of American comics, but they also frequently became sites of resistance to perceived American political and cultural hegemony, drawing upon satire and parody as a means of critique.
Murray illustrates that the superhero genre is a blend of several influences and that in British comics, these influences are quite different from those in America, resulting in some contrasting approaches to the figure of the superhero. He identifies the origins of the superhero and supervillain in nineteenth-century popular culture such as the penny dreadfuls and boys’ weeklies and in science fiction writing of the 1920s and 1930s. From the emergence of British superheroes in the 1940s, the advent of “”fake”” American comics, and the reformatting of reprinted material to the British Invasion of the 1980s, and the pivotal roles in American superhero comics and film production held by British artists today, this book will challenge views about British superheroes and the comics’ creators who fashioned them.
Murray brings to light a gallery of such comics heroes as the Amazing Mr X, Powerman, Streamline, Captain Zenith, Electroman, Mr Apollo, Masterman, Captain Universe, Marvelman, Kelly’s Eye, Steel Claw, the Purple Hood, Captain Britain, Supercats, Bananaman, Paradax, Jack Staff, and SuperBob. He reminds us of the significance of many such creators and artists as Len Fullerton, Jock McCail, Jack Glass, Denis Gifford, Bob Monkhouse, Dennis M. Reader, Mick Anglo, Brendan McCarthy, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Dave Gibbons, and Mark Millar.
Captain Scotland is copyright 1987 and 1997