Monday, 23 March 2015

Achi Baba

We are now in the final stages of our major project for this year, a graphic novel based on the attempts to take the hill of Achi Baba during the Gallipoli campaign in the First World War. We will be looking at the final effort of July 12th 1915, which is commemorated locally, but also the context of the broader campaign.

We are incorporating a range of sources and voices in telling the story, from war poetry, letters and field reports to contemporary articles from the sensationalist magazine The War Illustrated.  We will be sharing some artwork with you over the next few months, and also looking at the history of World War One comics.

The graphic novel, produced as a hardback, will be launched this summer and be available at Glasgow Comicon on Saturday 4 July. It will also be available for free at various community venues across Inverclyde during the centenary. Please contact us if you would be interested in receiving / distributing copies.

The Achi Baba project is supported by Heritage Lottery Fund through the First World War Then and Now programme, which is supporting many projects and programmes across the country. The fund is allowing people to learn about the Great War in a whole range of formal and informal ways, from new materials made available through museums and archives to new reflective / interpretive materials produced by schools and community groups for non-traditional audiences.

Inverclyde's Great War project, also supported by Heritage Lottery Fund, will be commemorating the Gallipoli campaign and Achi Baba with a number of publications, exhibition and a specially commissioned drama. You can now read the project exhibition book free online.

UPDATED : The book will be launched on Saturday 11 July 2015, in Dutch Gable House, Greenock from 10 - 2. Free copies of the book will be available.

Andy's very first pencil tests for the project earlier this year...

A more recent page, looking at the Gallipoli landings

Monday, 9 March 2015

Old Greenock Characters - Preachin' Mary

Another of John Donald's Old Greenock Characters, presented, as ever, as the text was written....

Mary O'Neill, otherwise "Preachin' Mary," felt impelled occasionally, when in her cups, to favour townspeople with unsolicited views and opinions of things in general, and of the liquor question in particular. In that respect she is said to have followed the example of her mother, the original Preachin' Mary, a very old woman, who kept a little huckster's shop in Dalrymple Street, which, in turn, kept her. The daughter was a fruit hawker, plying her vocation in Greenock and at various coast towns on the firth of Clyde and adjacent lochs; and, latterly, her "entr’acte" cry of "Apples or Oranges "was familiar to habitues of the Theatre Royal.

Mary was a somewhat slim woman of middle age, with jet black hair sparsely sprinkled with silver grey, and dark complexion. She was clad in a dress of sober hued material, a shoulder shawl and a straw bonnet.

Everybody knew when Mary was in eloquent mood. Mounted upon an upraised barrel, a barrow, or whatever could be readily and easily utilised as a platform, she held forth to the delight, and-who knows? -perhaps the edification, of a quickly gathered audience. Strange to say, whatever other topics she might touch upon she invariably veered round to the curse of drink, and, as a friend of the writer remarked, “preached a very good sermon, too." She sought not to excuse herself, but rather put herself forward as an "awful example" of the effects of indulgence. Those who had never tasted intoxicating drink she specially addressed, wisely advocating total abstinence as the only sure safeguard against the insidious enemy.
“If ye never drink a first glass, ye'll never drink a second," she declared, beating her right fist against the palm of her left hand. "The first glass is the damned yin!"
To a lady who besought her to take the pledge, Mary replied:-
"I could easily tak it, but I could na' keep it; for if I could get haud o' a pailful o' whusky I wad drink it if ma body wad haud it."

Mary's outbursts were periodical, and while they lasted she would part with all she could command – stock-in-trade, baskets, and all-to procure the beverage she denounced, yet could not reject. When the bout was over, an appeal to some kindly shopkeeper enabled her to redeem and replenish her baskets, and, to her credit be it said, she never failed in the punctual repayment of such loans. In her sober intervals, Mary O'Neill was a quiet, well-behaved, and industrious woman.

We were very excited recently by the suggestion from Black Cassidy that we should create a range of Old Greenock Characters Top Trumps for if you get stuck in during a rainy playtime or teabreak. Let us know what you think about this potentially awesome timewastery...

Monday, 2 March 2015

Uncommon Tales - Remnants

Mama Glow
It was about 5 minutes after we started researching our Uncommon Tales comic, that we realised that we should have given ourselves enough time to do a 128 page comic, rather than a 32 page one - there are just so many wonderful horrors to choose from. It's honestly no wonder Scooby Doo keeps so busy travelling around the world. In practice, what this meant is that some creatures only got a wee cameo appearance and some never appeared at all. So we thought we'd spotlight someone who didn't quite make the cut... Mama Glow...

"Mama Glow" or "Mama Dlo" or "Mama Dglo" whose name is derived from the French "maman de l' eau" which means "mother of the water" is one of the lesser known personalities of Trinidad and Tobago folklore. A half woman, half snake with long flowing hairwhich she combs constantly. Her upper torso is a naked, beautiful woman, the lower part coils into a large form of an anaconda snake that is hidden beneath the water. She is sometimes thought to be the lover of Papa Bois, and old hunters tell stories of coming upon them in the 'High Woods'. They also tell of hearing a loud, cracking sound which is said to be the sound made by her tail as she snaps it on the surface of a mountain pool or a still lagoon. Mortal men who commit crimes against the forest, like burning down trees or indiscriminately putting animals to death or fouling the rivers could find themselves married to her for life, both this one and the one to follow. Sometimes she takes the form of a beautiful woman 'singing silent songs on still afternoons, sitting at the water's edge in the sunlight, lingering for a golden moment, a flash of green - gone. Nothing but a big Morte Bleu, rising in the sun beams.

Old people talk: "Did you see a fish jump?" "Yes, but it did not go back in again!" If you were to meet Mama Dlo in the forest and wish to escape her, take off your left shoe, turn it upside down and immediately leave the scene, walking backwards until you reach home.

Trinidad and Tobago Folklore 

Don't forget, you can read or download Uncommon Tales free via scribd.

Anyway, here's the Happy Mondays take on John Kongos's song about another Carribbean horror who actually did end up featuring in Uncommon Tales, Tokoloshe..