Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Legacy of the Catman

From our 'Claws of the Catman' comic, art by Andy Lee

The Catman continues to be one of our more popular local legends, it is probably the story we get the most emails and questions about. In fact, even when while working in a primary school last week on a totally unrelated comic project, one of the young people was only too happy to share his own Catman story with us. And every time we hear the story retold, there's a new detail.

Late last year, following some reported new sightings of the Catman, a group of students from Edinburgh Uni came down to Greenock to create a short documentary to try and uncover the truth. Myself and some other interesting Greenock characters were interviewed for the film.

We've always been really clear at Magic Torch, that part of what is so interesting about the Catman is that his story still gets told - indeed, we've been part of that retelling. Is he an urban legend? Folklore? Fakelore? As ever, it's down to you to make your own mind up about how real the Catman is, or was...

You can purchase our Tales of the Oak comic which features the 'Claws of the Catman' strip from our Magic Torch Comics shop.

A much friendlier version of the Catman legend appears in my children's book The Superpower Project, which will be published by Floris Books Kelpies on February 18th.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Watt's This?

artwork by Andy Lee
19 January is the birthday of James Watt, Greenock's most famous son - and certainly someone whose life and work had a transformative impact on the world as we know it. And he came from our town.

We were delighted this week to stumble across the James Watt 2015-19 Celebration Project, which is celebrating Watt's life and the invention of the separate condenser in the lead up to 2019, which is the 250th Anniversary of the patent and the bicentenary of Watt's death. It was especially pleasing, because the project was making the direct connection with Greenock and Watt, a part of the story which is often forgotten or lightly airbrushed out. You can follow the project on twitter #Watt250

Watt has always been an inspiration to us, though we have also had a bit of fun with how we remember him. The fake steampunky comic cover above was designed for our Tales of the Oak comic of 2012, and imagines what might have happened if Watt had gone off the rails and started working for the military...I like how you can see Victoria tower in the background.

James Watt also features in my new children's book, The Superpower Project, along with one of his more unusual inventions. The Superpower Project is published by Floris Books (Kelpies) and will be out on February 18th.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


Rowan Tree Legion artwork by Mhairi M Robertson

We have a busy 2016 ahead of us, so time for a quick update on what we are up to...

For the next few months, we are continuing to focus on using comics and graphic novels to create new audiences for heritage and to promote visual literacy in schools.

We'll be working with Whinhill Primary School to create TWO new comics, one in Gaelic and one in French! The project is part of the 1+2 Language Learning model supported by Inverclyde Council Literacies, and we're looking forward to sharing the results...

After that, we move on to a graphic novel adaptation of John Donald's The Stowaways which should be out for summer, then later this year we will launch our all ages 64 page graphic novel Rowan Tree Legion. And there's one other rather splendid comic project we're involved in which we'll keep under wraps for now...

You can find out more about our comics projects past and future, on our dedicated website Magic Torch Comics. We are always happy to discuss how we can work with your community group or school.

Throughout the Spring, we're delighted to be teaming up with Greenock Writers Club on a project supported by Scotland's Urban Past, a five year nationwide community engagement project exploring Scotland's towns and cities. Plus we get to guest judge on GWCs FanFic competition in March...looking forward to that one.

Oh...and outside of Magic Torch work, but perhaps of interest...have I mentioned I've got a book coming out? My first children's book, The Superpower Project will be published by Kelpies next month. It is set in Greenock and features superheroes, old buildings, a few local myths and legends, and gigantic Art Robots. More on that soon. You can keep up to date with info on my new facebook page.

Superpower Project cover illustration by Luke Newell