Alan Grant: Tributes flood in for Scottish comic book writer behind Batman and Judge Dredd stories

Tributes have been paid to one of Scotland's most successful comic book writers of all-time after he passed away at the age of 73.

Alan Grant, who was brought up in Newtongrange, Midlothian, was best known for his work on Judge Dredd, Batman, Lobo, The Last American, Robot-Hunter and Strontium Dog.

His death was announced by his wife Sue, with whom he lived in Moniaive, in Dumfries and Galloway, where he had set up a comic festival and a comic inspired by the local community’s response to the Covid pandemic.

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Grant worked in the industry for more than 40 years, writing for comic book giants like DC, Marvel and Dark Horse.

Scottish comic book legend Alan Grant has passed away. Pictue: Julie Bull

The writer, who was naturally left-handed, was regularly beaten and expelled at school in Midlothian as his teachers attempted to force him to write with his right hand.

After working briefly in a bank, he secured a job as a trainee journalist with Dundee publisher DC Thomson and moved to London to work as a writer and sub-editor on romance magazines, before being offered work on comic magazine 2000 AD.

He formed a long-standing partnership with another former DC Thomson journalist, John Wagner, in the 1970s and the pair moved into the American market the following decade, working on The Outcasts then Batman. The pair created Scottish comic book series The Bogie Man, about a mental health patient convinced he is Humphrey Bogart.

Grant, who co-created super-villains Anarky, Victor Zsasz and The Ventriloquist for DC, scripted a Batman graphic novel that saw the character appear in a kilt at Edinburgh Castle.

In later years, he adapted Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Magazine 2000 AD’s tribute to Grant recalled how the impact of the ill-treatment he suffered at school gave him “a powerful distaste for authority which saturated his writing”, but was leavened by “a powerful distaste for authority which saturated his writing.”

The tribute added: “Grant was one of his generation’s finest writers, combining a sharp eye for dialogue and political satire with a deep empathy that made his characters seem incredibly human and rounded.

“Through his work he had a profound and enduring influence on 2000 AD and on the comics industry.”

American comic book writer Tom King said: “Horribly saddened to hear of the passing of Alan Grant. Lobo, LEGION, Batman – these books questioned what super hero comics could be and do. They were sharply, coolly cynical and yet oddly – and wonderfully – they contained a powerful, warm undercurrent of hope. Hell of a writer. RIP.”

American comic book artist Cully Hamner said: “Very sad to learn that writer Alan Grant has passed away. His Batman work was a must-read for young me."

Belfast-based comic artist PJ Holden said: “Terrible to hear of Alan Grant’s passing. An absolute giant of British comics and a great human being. A man whose contribution to comics is immense.”

Sharing the news of Grant’s death on Twitter, author Ian Rankin said: “Awful news – great writer, top bloke.”

A statement from the Scottish Book Trust said: “We are saddened today to learn of Alan Grant's passing.

“As a leading star of Scottish comics – and a great ambassador for them – he will be truly missed.”

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