Back to the Future

Throughout 2018, we had the opportunity to work on more varied projects than ever before - exploring language, social history, shared memories and creativity with comics and communities.

Here's a quick look back at some of the comics and projects we worked on this last year, celebrating the creativity of the people involved, but especially our artists, Mhairi Robertson and Andy Lee - both of whom have defined the visuals for Magic Torch Comics. Sadly, we lost Andy Lee at the end of 2018 - a shock to us all. We hope to be able to pay proper tribute to him in 2019, with the final publication Andy completed for us.

Andy's work this year, included working with a group of P6 / P7 in Lady Alice Primary School to create a Scots language comic which reimagined The Catman as a local supervillain. The completed comic is displayed in Lady Alice Primary School and Greenock South West Library. Enjoy a reading of the comic by the class below... 

Throughout the springtime, Mhairi and I visited Islay, Jura, Mull and Tiree to work with Primary Schools on the islands to create a Gaelic language comic based on local folktales chosen by the schools. The comic was presented in both Gaelic and dual language to help Gaelic learners. The islands were inspirational, and we hope to be visiting again in 2019.

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As part of the First Ministers Reading Challenge, we worked with the amazing Renfrew High school on A Trip Frew Time, a comic inspired by objects and stories from their local museum. The comic characters even ended up in an animation produced by West College Scotland. Renfrew High's delivery of the First Ministers Reading Challenge was so impressive, that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited to congratulate them on all the great work their library team had done - so we got to meet the First Minister!

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Back in May, the BBC News website ran a story exploring the sad tale of the Arran Stowaways - and asked to use Mhairi's artwork from our comic alongside some information about the project. The story was the most read on the BBC that day, and it opened out our work to lots of new audiences who got in touch as a result.

In June we launched Light Years at Glasgow Comicon - our comic created with people over 65. This amazing collection of personal memories, fiction, folk tales and funny stories was supported by the Peoples Postcode Trust, and rather neatly proved the point that comics storytelling is for everyone, not just kids.

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One of our most major projects for the year, was being Graphic Novelists in Residence in Inverclyde Academy. We've worked lots of times with Inverclyde Academy - they were one of the first schools to get us in and engage with comics storytelling, but this Scottish Libraries and Information Council funded project allowed us to spend ten weeks with a class, putting a comic adaptation of the classic Old Greenock Characters together. We provided the framework, and the pupils worked as writer / artist teams to produce the strips. It's a lovely piece of work. Inverclyde Academy is so awesome, that they even ran their own comicon this year, organised by a range of different departments across the school. And the project featured in the new National Strategy for School Libraries.

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Early in 2018, we worked with Inverclyde Community Development Trust, Your Voice and Inverclyde Council on Project 22, working with New Scots to improve integration and understanding. Our part of the project was to help the young people involved create a comic - Inverclyde Adventures -which could be given to new arrivals in future. We chose to focus on exchange of stories and culture. The comic also included interactive elements using HP Reveal, which unlocked photos of the creative process, and even a song which had been created during the project. The whole programme won a Cosla Award in September 2018.

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One of our most unusual projects of the year, was to work with Cloch Housing Association to help them celebrate 50 Years of Cloch using comics. Using minutes dating from the formation of the association, old photos, memories from tenants and staff and the archive of noted antiquarian Sir Glen Douglas Rhodes, we worked togther to create a truly unique publication, somewhere between Scot's Magazine and The Beano - it even had a board game. The book was fully funded by Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland, and delivered to over 2000 homes across Inverclyde in November. A small exhibition, copies of the book and a short film formed part of the 50th Anniversary Celebrations for Cloch at the Scottish Parliament in late October - where we were delighted that the work of Sir Glen Douglas Rhodes was formally recognised.

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And that's not even half of all the smashing places we got to visit and people we got to meet in 2018. It's been a joy. All in, an extremely productive year, and 2019 is already looking good; in April we'll be launching the book we are creating with Riddles Court in Edinburgh, throughout the Spring, we will be working in Aberdeenshire on a project exploring Scotland's links to the slave trade, we'll also be doing an illustrated folk tale book with Project 22. And towards the end of the year, we will be releasing 1820, an original graphic novel telling the story of the Paisley radicals and the radical riots across Scotland. So - stay tuned!

Thanks to everyone for all their support, interest and involvement this year - it has meant a lot.

If you have an idea for a project or any questions about how we can help you tell your story, drop us a line.


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Andy Lee at work, helping young people enjoy, understand and create comics.

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