It would be hard, to be honest, to find many Scots who have not heard of, or read the comic stories of Oor Wullie, a Scottish laddie who has never grown up, and has captured the hearts of millions over the years. His fame here in Scotland (and Northern England) is pretty all encompassing, which should really be no surprise given that the character was first published in the Sunday Post on 8th March 1936 – and he celebrated his 80th birthday earlier this year.The popularity of the character was sealed by the wonderful art of Dudley D Watkins, keeping up spirits during the war years and offering a mix of the nostalgic and the modern ever since.
It would be a brave Sunday Post editor that even suggested dropping the much loved character – some might say even suicidal!
This popularity is now being harnessed by The Archie Foundation in partnership with D C Thomson and Wild in Art to raise funds for a new twin operating theatre pediatric surgical suite for Tayside Children’s Hospital. As of Monday 27th June 2016, 55 Oor Wullie statues that have been decorated by artists with a connection to Dundee have been placed in various locations around Dundee and the local area – although I am sure that Carnoustie Links is not that local to Dundee!
The statue locations can be found by using the The Bucket Trail Map (PDF link), which gives you a listing of the 55 that are around Dundee and Carnoustie. An additional 10 are on tour and currently can be found in Aberdeen as they have been there since 4th June and will travel to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Perth and Inverness, returning to Dundee in time to join the rest of the Bucket Trail at the grand auction of all the sculptures in the Dundee Rep theatre on 13th September 2016.
If you want to see all 55 designs, then you can look at the bucket trail’s gallery.
One statue has an even stronger comic connection in that its design is by the current Comics Laureate, Dave Gibbons and is placed in front of the University of Dundee, who have been outstanding in their support for Dundee Comics Day and Dee-Con.
The other statue design that I really enjoyed could not be more iconic if it tried. This is the David Bowie inspired design by Rhiannon Moore, Martin Lindsay and John Barrie. It has been placed in front of the Dundee Rail Bridge and if you recall the lovely sketch of the Tay Bridge that I featured in my article about the work of Gordon Livingstone some weeks ago, then this statue is roughly where the second tree from the right is.
And if that was not enough, then to find out that the photographer is the wonderful human being and artist that is Dan McDaid, then what more is there to do, but enjoy the picture.
The trail started on Monday 27th June 2016 and the statues will be in place until Saturday 27th August 2016 when they will be removed and cleaned in preparation for sale at the charity auction for this very worthy cause.
A life-long comic fan, specialising mainly in UK adventure comics, Colin did his very best to support his passion for the comics of his youth, Commandos (still going!) and any small press that interested him. Sadly, Colin passed in March 2021, an invaluable downthetubes team member, much missed by us all