Scottish comic creators gather to consider new National Comics Academy

Photo:  <a href="">Eleanor Howell</a>. License: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

The McLellan Galleries – home to a new National Comics Academy for Scotland? Photo: Eleanor Howell. License: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Responding to the boom in comic book creators from Scotland making an impact on the world stage, the Scottish Independent Comic Book Alliance, along with Black Hearted Press and The Stirling Maxwell Centre at the University of Glasgow, will host a free open forum symposium on Monday 17th March 2014 which will, for the first time in Scotland’s history, bring together over one hundred creators, retailers, publishers, reviewers and champions of the comic book industry.

“One theme, six questions” will be an open discussion led by a key panel including Dr Laurence Grove (Director of the Stirling Maxwell Centre) and a comics-related audience, as together creators hope they will develop their industry to the world, with the aims of developing a sustainable industry and aspirations of creating a National Comics Academy and Art Gallery in Glasgow’s unused McLellan Galleries.

Hosted by Gareth K. Vile, the event will be in a ‘question time’ format, with everyone participating including the question panel, Dr Laurence Grove, Director, the Stirling Maxwell Centre, University of Glasgow; Chris Murray (Lecturer, The University of Dundee), Sha Nazir (Art Director and Publisher, Black Hearted Press Ltd), Jenny Niven (Portfolio Manager, Literature, Creative Scotland), Kevin O’Donnell (Retail Manager, Forbidden Planet International), Phillip Vaughn (Lecturer, Duncan of Jordanstone Collage of Art); and Maria Welch (Publisher, Children’s Entertainment, DC Thomson Ltd).

“A National Comics Academy, our long term goal, would make Glasgow a current-day world leader in an area where we have already led the world, from the world’s first comic — The Glasgow Looking Glass — to Mark Millar and Grant Morrison,” says Dr Grove.

“For the first time in Scotland’s history, we are all coming together for the greater good of our industry,” added Sha Nazir, Art Director and Publisher. “There has never been a gathering of the like with so many professional, semi-pro and aspiring comic book artists, writers, creators along with publishers, small press makers, distributors, retailers and critics, all in the same room… Ideas will be sparking!”

The Scottish Independent Comic Book Alliance formed a partnership with the Big Comic Page in January with the intention of expanding its reach and helping to further fulfil its aims and objectives. The non profit organisation, run by volunteers, dedicated to the promotion of local comic books, graphic novels and sequential art in its many forms, as well as comic creators; artists, writers, colourists, letterers, designers or editors, has taken small steps in growing the profile and prestige of the awards and its influence.

Black Hearted Press is a leading Scottish independent comic book publisher, promoting new and exciting creator owned, collaborative comic books and graphic novels. Their diverse titles range across adventure, comedy, horror, romance and thriller, many of which have already been optioned for film and television treatments.

They are also responsible for the running of Glasgow successful Comic Con, which was one of the top 100 cultural events of 2013 in Scotland.

The Stirling Maxwell Centre fosters an unrivalled tradition of scholarship in the field of text/image interaction, building primarily, but not uniquely, on the Stirling Maxwell Collection, which with additions now numbers over 2000 volumes, by far the world’s largest (the second being Princeton with about 700 volumes). But they do not just do dusty picture books. The Centre’s work draws also upon the University’s outstanding collection of early photography, the riches of the Hunterian collections, both in the Library and the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, that take us from Dürer to Picasso, and the modern emblem, namely the graphic novel, or French bande dessinée, for which our collection, in association with the Alliance Française, is potentially the strongest in a non-French speaking country.

• Issue One: A Symposium about the future of Scotland’s comic book industry 7.00pm, Monday 17th March 2014, Centre for Contemporary Arts Theatre, 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3JD. Free but booking advised

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