Oldest comic book in the world to go on show in Glasgow

The world's first comic - Glasgow Looking Glass - is to be put on public display for one night only.
The world's first comic - Glasgow Looking Glass - is to be put on public display for one night only.
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The world’s first comic – Glasgow Looking Glass – is to be put on public display for one night only on Saturday, 1 December.

The free public event at Glasgow University’s Hunterian Museum is part of an attempt to get Scotland recognised as the “cradle of comics”.

The first issue of Glasgow Looking Glass appeared on 11 June, 1825, and the comic poked fun at political issues and the fashion of the day.

Produced fortnightly, it was printed by John Watson, one of Glasgow’s early lithographic printers. After five issues, its name changed to the Northern Looking Glass, to reflect a more national coverage of events in Scotland. Publication ceased in June, 1826.

The event will showcase the research being done at the university’s College of Arts on the important role Scotland had in the development of the genre of comics.

Laurence Grove, professor of French and text/image studies at the university, said: “We want the Night at the Museum to be fun and would encourage lots of dressing up to celebrate our comic book superheroes.

“From earliest times from Egyptian hieroglyphs to medieval illuminated manuscripts we have used pictures to explain the world around us, so the culture of comics has always been here, but there is an important story for everyone to know as well – that Scotland was the cradle of comics.”

Historians have hailed Glasgow Looking Glass as an early example of satirical topical graphic journalism, a genre that became increasingly popular throughout the 19th century.

Prof Grove said: “This is a night of fun and enjoyment with a few interesting insights to celebrate all things comics. The fact is comics are, quite frankly, super-cool and I love researching this inspirational field to bring it to new audiences.”

The event will also be a chance for children and adults to explore the cultural and historical background of comics from the earliest times up to the present day.

Highlights of the night will include an appearance by Scotland’s Frank Quitely, one of the world’s top comic book artists with the legendary DC Comics.

Frank Quitely is the pen name of Glaswegian Vincent Deighan, who said: “I can’t wait for the Comics Night at the Museum. This will be a one-of-a-kind experience. Don’t miss it!” The event is been run to coincide with St Andrew’s Fair Saturday. The organisers say it “aims to positively respond to consumerism of Black Friday” by delivering a festival of arts and culture and also support the wider celebration of St Andrew’s Day.

People are being encouraged to dress up as their favourite comic book characters for a special costume parade to celebrate the Comics Night at the Museum extravaganza.

Director of The Hunterian Steph Scholten said: “The Hunterian is delighted to support this exciting Comic Night at the Museum. It will contribute to the global Fair Saturday movement and the celebration of St Andrew’s day to boost social inclusion, fairness and sharing inspired by Scotland’s National Day.”