AS the world’s oldest comic book goes on display in Glasgow this month, here’s a look back at five famous characters who have entertained generations of Scots.
The only sheriff to patrol the Wild West of America armed with a Glaswegian accent. Lobby Dosser first appeared on the pages of the Evening Times with his trademark wink in 1949. He was created by Bud Neill, a Partick-born artist fascinated by cowboy films of the pre-war era. Neill set his best-loved strip in Arizona but ensured all its characters spoke as if they had stepped off a bus in Sauchiehall Street. The name of the central character was a subtle reference to housing conditions in Glasgow in the late 1940s - a ‘lobby dosser’ was someone, often demobbed servicemen, who were forced to spend the night in stairwells or tenement closes. Dosser patrolled Calton Creek on his faithful two-legged horse El Fideldo, navigating a world that was equal parts Wild West and Glasgow. A bronze statue of the pair was erected outside The Halt Bar in Glasgow in 1992. It is reportedly the only two-legged equestrian statue in the world.
Angus was a caricature of a young Highlander adjusting to life in the mid-20th century. Living on the fictional island of Drambeg, somewhere in the ‘Utter Hebrides’, he dreamed of making a life for himself in the big city and leaving behind his rural world. Needless to say, his grand plans regularly came to nothing. Og was created by Ewen Bain, who was born in Glasgow to a family of Gaelic speakers from Skye, giving him a unique perspective of life in both the Lowlands and Highlands. Og first appeared in the long defunct Glasgow Bulletin in 1960 before finding a home in the Daily Record. Bain died in 1989, but reprints of Angus’ adventures remain popular. Bain, a long-term supporter of the SNP, was hailed by his friend Winnie Ewing as “a modern commentator... who observed the essential qualities of the Scots’ failings and virtues.”
MINNIE THE MINX
Minnie arrived on the pages of the Beano in 1953 with a promise she was “as wild as wild can be”. Although bearing a resemblance to Dennis the Menace, she quickly found her own voice and brand of mischief - usually involving a catapult. Originally created by DC Thomson artist Leo Baxendale, Minnie’s adventures were drawn for 39 years by Jim Petrie. The art teacher finally retired in 2001 after producing 2000 strips. Minnie, meanwhile, continues to cause grief for her parents and amusement for her many fans.
The wee spiky-haired boy in dungarees is perhaps the most famous Scottish cartoon character of them all. When not causing mischief, he enjoys taking a break by sitting on an upturned bucket on tending to his pet mouse Jeemie. The co-creation of editor R.D. Low and artist Dudley D. Watkins, Wullie has been entertaining generations of Scots since 1936 with weekly appearances in the Sunday Post and ever-popular Christmas annuals. The character has changed with the times and his antics are no longer quite as dramatic. The first ever strip saw him create a tram collision by fixing track points with a stick - behaviour that would today be considered anti-social at best. But with that cheeky grin, he’s always able to win round his ma and pa, as well as delight his legions of fans around the world.
No list of Scottish cartoon characters would be complete without the residents of 10 Glebe Street. Like Oor Wullie, The Broons have been Sunday Post regulars for more than 70 years. The strip’s strength is the variety of characters it offers and the relationships between them. There’s hapless patriarch Paw, lovable rogue Grandpa (who sported a full beard long before they were popular), the mischief-making Bairn and many more. While some of the family’s living arrangements now appear rather dated - just how many people can legally live in a tenement flat? - fans don’t look to the Broons for realism. The family’s dependency on one another and kind-heartedness ensures they’ll remain popular for years to come.