Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Slenderman Cometh...

Ruined cottage on the Old Largs Road

Over the last few weeks, Andy Lee and myself have been working with 1st and 2nd year pupils from Inverclyde Academy on creating pages for comics. It's been tremendous fun, and it's really good to see a local school so interested in encouraging reading and creative writing through graphic storytelling.

The mission was very simple, work with the pupils to write a scary story in a local setting, and all work on designing characters / panels to tell that story. Pupils will create their own pages and Andy will also create some pages based on their story.

Pupils opted to use perennial nightmare meme The Slenderman, a sinister character who originated online, created by Victor Surge. He has since been developed and used by many other people, from being co-opted into urban legend via photoshopping old pictures, to having his own web series. There was even suggestion that Doctor Who's Silence characters were a tribute to the strange creature. Many others maintain that the creature is not fiction at all. All very complex, but part of the real fun of this character is exploring and discovering it for yourself. If you want an excellent overview of the whole developing mythos, check out this article from the journal Darklore.

The pupils opted for short vignettes placing Slenderman in a variety of local Greenock settings, all the more terrifying for off-setting the unusual character with the banal and familiar.

We'll share the full story with you in December as part of our month of midwinter terror, but here's panels by Andy, taken directly from the stories developed by the two classes....

Tesco Car Park Terror

The Murdieston Dam Horror...
(this would make a lovely Magic Torch Christmas card)

Primark Nightmare...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Old Greenock Characters - Tattie Wullie

The Old Fish Market - McLean Museum

Another in our irregular series from John Donald's Old Greenock Characters, this one features Tattie Wullie and cheery tales of sugar theft.

William Campbell (“Tattie Wullie”), whose portrait is included in John Baird’s very interesting and now comparatively rare print of “The Scene of the Old Fish Market, Greenock,” was well known in the town up to the late ‘sixties. Above middle height, and clad in a suit of white moleskins, apparently fresh from the wash-tub, no matter when or where you saw him, with long lapels to the jacket, which a present day “knut” might envy, he was easily distinguishable at a distance. Stoutly formed, his spare visage was surrounded by a large Kilmarnock bonnet and “toorie.” This bonnet and the coachman’s long whip, which he was seldom without, combined with the white moleskins, to make him kenspeckle.

He was occasionally engaged as a carter, and it is said that once, when not overburdened with cash, Wullie tossed with his horse as to whether the animal should get a feed or he (Wullie) should have a drink. The horse won. Gazing at the coin in his hand, Wullie pondered, and then looked thoughtfully at the patient horse….It was a conflict between honour and thirst, and thirst prevailed. “Aw, yer cheatin’,” said Wullie, and he disappeared within the precincts of an adjacent pub. In about a couple of minutes a boy rushed in crying excitedly, “Hey, tattie, yer horse hes tum’lt doon,” and Tattie answered quietly enough : “Aw, weel, ye must have been leanin’ on him!”

He was frequently employed to guard merchandise discharged from ships, and he used the long whip to chase off sugar “scobers”. “Scobers” was the term applied to those Greenock urchins who pilfered sugar from casks or bags landed from West Indian and other traders. Younger boys were, for the most part, content to scoop the brown sticky substance through open seams of casks or renst in bags, sometimes with a small flat piece of wood, oftener with their fingers; but the older and bolder spirits would not hesitate, given the opportunity, to rip up a bag, break open a lid, or, indeed, to smash a cask. The advent of beet-root sugar was viewed with grave disapproval by the “scober”. It was not to his taste. His enthusiasm was only temporarily damped, however, for quite recently I observed a string of kiddies, some of them little more than toddlers, following up a sugar cart along Rue-End Street, with obvious intention. And so the scobing game goes merrily on, and there is no Tattie Wullie to scare the scober.

Speaking of those daring delinquents reminds me of some comical titles of imaginary drams which formed catchwords of a sort in those days, such as “The Haunted Hogshead, or The Scobers Revenge” “The Bursted Bug, or The Bloody Bowster” and others which I must decline to print.

To return to Tattie Wullie, when I saw him last, he was sitting on the steps at the entrance of the large outer court of the Flesh Market in Market Street. He was minus the long whip and his moleskins were less white than of yore. He looked aged and wearied, with a pensive, far-away expression, as if, while reviewing past events, he was conscious of present misery.  

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Tales of the Oak - Preview Sketches

We thought we'd share a few preview panels that Andy Lee has been pencilling for our Tales of the Oak comic, they feature Auld Dunrod introducing a story about Captain Kidd's treasure...