Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Doors Open Day - Cool film and free book!

There's lot's to see at this years Doors Open Days - Fergusons, Tobacco Warehouse, an exhibition from Dark Side o' Inverclyde...it's all good.

We'll be at Dutch Gable House, where you have another chance to see our short film Restorations (in fact edited by Louie 'Dark Side' Pastore) which will be showing throughout the day on the middle floor.

There will also be some original artwork on display from Achi Baba, and your final chance to grab a free hardback copy of the graphic novel. We may do a 'not for profit' edition at some point in the future, but for now we have a limited number of copies left. Various other Magic Torch publications will also be available for sale on the day.

Dutch Gable House is open Saturday only this year. We hope to see you along on the day, or maybe even out and about over the weekend.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Magic Torch Comics

Over the last few years we have worked to create a range of comics, and we have now have a website Magic Torch Comics, to showcase them all, and also to explain how we can help you tell your story....

Or, if heritage isn't your thing, perhaps you'd just like us to work with your class or community group on comics related to your projects...

There's lots more info on the website, along with free comics to read and download. If you think you might be interested, get in touch...

Meanwhile, we have two cracking new comics in development right now, our Captain Kidd graphic novel I Thought I was Undone, our new all ages WWII adventure story Rowan Tree Legion, and another local heritage title The Stowaways, lined up as well. We'll share some of Mhairi and Andy's awesome new artwork soon.

Torch artists and volunteers at Glasgow Comicon in July

Monday, 13 July 2015

Achi Baba - Read Gallipoli Graphic Novel For Free

Achi Baba is now available to read and download for free from our new website Magic Torch Comics, which is where we will be promoting our new comics and learning projects over the next year. For the digital version, Andy added a more military green tone to the artwork, so even if you do have the original book, it's worth having a look at some of the small differences between the two.

There's been lots of positive feedback on the book and project, from the Imperial War Museum, the Argyll and Sutherland museum, the Gallipoli Association, the Applied Comics Network, the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland and many more. It can be downloaded via the Gallipoli Centenary Education Project, and there are now copies available from all Inverclyde libraries.

We were especially pleased with the response from Pat Mills, creator of 2000AD and of course the definitive World War One comic, Charley's War...'An excellent production, a fascinating and well researched account of the conflict.'

A limited number of free copies will be available for pickup from 7 1/2 John Wood Street in Port Glasgow from Monday 13 July. We hope to make more copies available for Doors Open Day 2015 at the Dutch Gable House on Saturday 12 September, but just in case, get one while you can.

The Achi Baba project was supported by Heritage Lottery Fund - First World War Then and Now programme.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Achi Baba - Gallipoli 1915 : Graphic Novel Launch

We're all prepared for Glasgow Comicon this weekend, when we will be distributing copies of Achi Baba - we'll be in the Renfield Centre, come say hello if you're in town. You can get the book locally on Saturday 11 July from 10 - 2 at Dutch Gable House. It will be released digitally later in the month.

There's a really passionate blog piece on the Inverclydes Great War site which expresses the frustration of trying to ensure recognition for the battalion involved in the hostilities of 12 July. However, Inverclyde Council and the McLean Museum are doing an excellent job of commemorating the centenary locally in a number of ways over the weekend of 11 / 12 July. Be sure not to miss the opportunity to be involved.

UPDATE : Please note, in the lovely Greenock Tele piece about the book launch, it says the book will be available from Dutch Gable this Saturday (4th July)...wee miscommunication, it is most certainly Saturday 11 July at Dutch Gable House. Hopefully see ye then.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Achi Baba - "Stand in the trench Achilles..."

Our projects tend to focus on myths, legends and storytelling, and in researching Achi Baba, we were really struck by how, even at the time, the whole effort was associated with The Iliad - turning it into this heroic epic. There's an immediate and obvious contrast with the much less romantic reality of life and war on the peninsula and comics are an especially effective medium for blending those contrasting views and voices together.

We have adapted verses from one poem in particular, Patrick Shaw Stewart's 'I Saw A Man This Morning', which perhaps explores this classical link more explicitly than any other. The poem was written by Shaw Stewart while in hospital in Imbros, preparing to return to the theatre of war in Gallipoli. He links the campaign with Helen of Troy both directly and through rhyme and repetition, and then imagines Achilles in battle.

There is a grim foreshadowing in Shaw Stewart's poem, in hoping that Achilles will 'shout' for him, he is referencing the moment in the Iliad, when Achilles learns of the death of his comrade Patroclus - and lets loose a terrifying battle cry, while the Gods crown him with fire. The narrator of the poem, in identifying himself with Patroclus, is imagining himself soon to be dead. Shaw Stewart did in fact survive the Gallipoli campaign, but not the war.

There is an excellent book about the many ways the Iliad was referenced in the poetry of the First World War, which takes its title from Shaw Stewart's poem - 'Stand in the Trench Achilles by Elizabeth Vandiver'. Of course, The Iliad continues to be referenced and reframed in war stories and was even used as a way of studying post traumatic stress disorder in Vietnam veterans. It has inspired many graphic novel adaptations, including the wonderful Age of Bronze by Eric Shanower.

If war poetry is of interest to you, then Above The Dreamless Dead, edited by Chris Duffy, provides an entirely different way of experiencing those works, it is a collection of comic adaptations of World War One poetry, and was certainly inspirational in our development of this project.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Gallipoli - 'Lest We Forget, The Facts'

In telling the story of the Gallipoli campaign, we have not avoided the grim reality of the war, and so our Achi Baba graphic novel is suggested for mature audiences due to scenes of warfare some may find upsetting or disturbing. Arguably of course, there is no other way to view warfare. However a recent piece in the Guardian explored some of the difficulty in producing artwork which tries to confront the horror of the First World War.

The short film below is from the website No Glory In War. The No Glory campaign aims to to use the first world war centenary to promote peace and international understanding, rather than simply nationalistic commemoration.

Our Achi Baba project was supported by Heritage Lottery Fund - First World War Then and Now programme. The graphic novel will be available from Glasgow Comicon on Saturday 4 July and from the Dutch Gable House in Greenock on Saturday 11 July.

Monday, 8 June 2015

And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda...

In our exploration of the Gallipoli campaign for our Achi Baba graphic novel, we have focussed largely on the British forces. However Gallipoli is most usually associated with the Anzacs and the sense of national identity which subsequently developed in Australia and New Zealand - though of course, soldiers from many nationalities fought as Anzac soldiers.

While specifically associated with the Anzacs, the song 'The Band Played Waltzing Matilda' recognises the universal horror faced by everyone who fought and died on the peninsula, and the broken world that remained for many who survived.

When I was a young man I carried my pack
And I lived the free life of a rover
From the Murrays green basin to the dusty outback
I waltzed my Matilda all over
Then in nineteen fifteen my country said Son
It's time to stop rambling 'cause there's work to be done
So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun
And they sent me away to the war
And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we sailed away from the quay
And amidst all the tears and the shouts and the cheers
We sailed off to Gallipoli

How well I remember that terrible day
How the blood stained the sand and the water
And how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter
Johnny Turk he was ready, he primed himself well
He chased us with bullets, he rained us with shells
And in five minutes flat he'd blown us all to hell
Nearly blew us right back to Australia
But the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we stopped to bury our slain
We buried ours and the Turks buried theirs
Then we started all over again

Now those that were left, well we tried to survive
In a mad world of blood, death and fire
And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive
But around me the corpses piled higher
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over tit
And when I woke up in my hospital bed
And saw what it had done, I wished I was dead
Never knew there were worse things than dying
For no more I'll go waltzing Matilda
All around the green bush far and near
For to hump tent and pegs, a man needs two legs
No more waltzing Matilda for me

So they collected the cripples, the wounded, the maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia
The armless, the legless, the blind, the insane
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla
And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where my legs used to be
And thank Christ there was nobody waiting for me
To grieve and to mourn and to pity
And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As they carried us down the gangway
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared
Then turned all their faces away

And now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
And I watch my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reliving old dreams of past glory
And the old men march slowly, all bent, stiff and sore
The forgotten heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask, "What are they marching for?"
And I ask myself the same question
And the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men answer to the call
But year after year their numbers get fewer
Some day no one will march there at all

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me
And their ghosts may be heard as you pass the Billabong
Who'll come-a-waltzing Matilda with me?