Angus Og - from the fabled Isle of Drambeg to household name - to be preserved for the future

With his musings from the fabled Isle of Drambeg in the Utter Hebrides, the cartoon character Angus Og became a household name for generations of Scots.

Now the humour and commentary of the ‘Highland beatnik’ will be preserved for future generations with the work of his creator, Ewen Bain, to be digitised and archived on Skye, from where the cartoonist’s family originally came.

Mr Bain took Angus Og, his trademark navy jumper and his wellington boots to the nation with adventures that gently poked fun at authority, his people and ultimately himself. The long-running series was published in the Daily Record and the Sunday Mail from 1960 to 1989, when the cartoonist sadly died after catching flu.

Earlier, the artist’s family donated more than 4,000 pieces from his collection to the Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre in Portree, where the original strips will now be conserved after funding was secured from the Scottish Government.

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Rhona Flin, the cartoonist’s daughter, said: "My father would have been delighted to know of this special investment in Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre, which will enable much wider access to the Angus Og collection."

Ewen Bain was born in Maryhill, Glasgow, in 1925 and was the youngest of the three children of John and Flora Bain, from the Isle of Skye.

His father hailed from Waternish and his mother from Staffin, with the family moving to Glasgow in 1912, but returning to Skye every summer.

Archivists believe Angus Og still speaks to issues that remain important on the islands, from the loss of Gaelic language to the impact of over tourism. PIC: Angus Og Collection; Credit: Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre.

Gaelic was spoken as the family's first language, with elements of Gaelic and Scots featuring throughout Mr Bain’s work.

Mr Bain, who studied at Glasgow School of Art and later taught at secondary schools before becoming a full-time cartoonist, created Angus Og after being encouraged by a former features editor at the Scottish Daily Express.

The cartoons were first published in the Glasgow-based Bulletin before ultimately being picked up by the Daily Record and Sunday Mail. Mr Bain also contributed to a long series of editorial cartoons to the pro-independence Scots Independent newspaper.

In an obituary, Winnie Ewing, SNP stalwart and a long-term friend of the Bain family, said: The loss of Ewen Bain to all Scotland cannot be measured, except that all of us have lost a main source of laughter based on a humour without any malice.”

Catherine MacPhee, Skye and Lochalsh archivist said: “The survival of this collection is important not just for Skye, but as part of Scotland’s social history. As well as being nationally well known and loved, the cartoons relate to social-political issues still relevant today, including the loss of language, impacts of tourism and social imbalances.”

Alison Mason, archivist with the Highland Archive Service, which is run by High Life Highland, said the team was “delighted” to have been awarded £40,000 from the Government to fund a post to research, digitise and archive the “fantastic collection”.

The funding is part of the National Island Plan, which supports the development of cultural and historic resources on the islands and promotes arts and culture for their residents.

The money will also help mount an Angus Og exhibition, which will ultimately go on the road across the Highlands and Islands.


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