Thursday, 26 May 2016

Ales With A Tale...

Magic Torch are pleased to present the first in a series of local folklore themed ales, created with the assistance of Krafty Brew.

If you happen to be visiting the Cardwell Garden Centre Craft Fayre this Saturday, you will have the opportunity to get your hands on one of these limited edition promotional brews.

Magic Torch would of course encourage you to drink responsibly. And also to brew responsibly.

Magic Torch brewmeisters, creating the magic, much like Auld Dunrod etc

Needs more hops.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Magic Torch Comics at Edinburgh Comic-Con

Comics. Also free haribo.

We had an excellent weekend at the wonderful Edinburgh Comic-Con - meeting lots of new folks and also having shots of speeder bikes and the TARDIS.

We were especially pleased how many parents and teachers were interested in Magic Torch Comics work with schools and visual literacy - it looks like we'll be doing a bit more delivery over on the East Coast soon.

We'll have another stall at Glasgow Comic-Con on Saturday 2nd / Sunday 3rd of July, and if you are looking to purchase quality folklore based books and comics meantime, there's always our online shop.

Darren races through Endor
Another childhood ambition achieved

Remember you can see lots more of our comics and exclusive work from Andy Lee and Mhairi Robertson at the 22 Pages - Scenes From Scottish History exhibition at Paisley Museum. And it's free entry!

Monday, 21 March 2016

22 Pages - Scenes From Scottish History : Comic Exhibition

22 Pages is an exhibition we've been involved in creating over the last few months, featuring scenes from Scottish history, presented as comics and graphic novels. It features some excellent and exclusive new artwork from Magic Torch Comics artists Andy Lee and Mhairi Robertson.

We tried to imagine uncovering a box of classic old comics, each one telling a different story from a key moment in Scotland's history, in a different comic style - a natural progression from the comics and heritage work we have been involved in over the last few years.

The exhibition will be in Paisley Museum from Saturday 2 April - Friday 20 May and it is FREE to attend. We'll share a few more teaser images with you over the next week, but you will need to visit the museum to see the full size artwork...

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Comics In Schools - Camanachd Ghrianaig

For the last few weeks, Magic Torch Comics have been having a blast working with Whinhill Primary School in Greenock, creating a comic using Gaelic language - no mean feat considering no one from Magic Torch can speak Gaelic. Thankfully however, Gaidhlig Primary 4 - 7 are really good at it, and were able to help us out.

The comic is the first of 3 we will be creating with the support of Inverclyde Council Education Services 1+2 Language Development programme.

The 4 week project has involved the class learning about the language of comics and then researching a Gaelic song with particular relevance to the Greenock Highlanders, Camanachd Ghrianaig by Mairi Mhor Nan Oran - it tells the story of a Shinty match played in Greenock in 1877 between the Greenock and Glasgow Gaels. The class then helped adapt verses from the song into a comic strip for our artist Andy Lee.

The next step was for each member of the class to create their own characters, and tell a story about them getting to the shinty match too. Here are just a few images of some of the wonderful comics created below. We look forward to sharing the finished comic with you soon...

artwork by Rowan Watterott
Artwork by Ceitidh Cameron
Artwork by Stacie Lewis

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Superpower Project

With the help of a wisecracking, steampunk robot, two accidental superheroes discover that they have inherited some amazing, if unusual, abilities. Computer whiz Megan can fly (mostly sleep-flying, but she's working on it) while her best friend Cameron can (in theory) transform into any animal, but mostly ends up as a were-hamster. 

Together they must protect the source of their ancestral powers from a wannabe evil mastermind and his gang of industrial transformer robots who've disguised themselves as modern art installations on their Greenock estate.

It isn't easy to balance school and epic super-battles, not to mention finding time to search for other super-talents and train with their Mr Miyagi-esque were-tiger coach. Can Megan and Cam beat the bad guy, defeat his robot transformers and become the superheroes they were born to be? Kelpies Prize shortlisted author Paul Bristow creates a hilarious tongue-in-cheek superhero mash up with a dangerous twist!

My first children's book, The Superpower Project, published by the wonderful Floris Books, is now available from the Discover Kelpies website and Amazon.

The book was originally written in early 2014 and was shortlisted for the 2014 Kelpies Prize. In fact, Kelpies are running their 2016 prize now, so if you have an idea for a childrens book, have a look.

The Superpower Project is a treasure hunt mystery for 8-12s, set in and around Inverclyde and featuring popular places and forgotten spaces which will be familiar to local readers; the Sugar Sheds, the cemetery, the McLean Museum, Fergusons, King George V parkland…all sorts of nooks and crannies.

A few places were tweaked slightly to help the story along - so Ravenscraig Hospital becomes Crowfell Hospital and relocates to the East End of Greenock, and the abandoned Glebe Sugar Warehouse becomes the much less abandoned Tobacco Warehouse...but it should still be an Inverclyde local readers will recognise. And I'm really pleased that it's set here, because at it's heart, the book is trying to say something about change, and how we should appreciate the importance of where we come from - although obviously it's saying that with robots, explosions and fights in graveyards and abandoned hospitals...
You can read the first three chapters for free right here.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Legacy of the Catman

From our 'Claws of the Catman' comic, art by Andy Lee

The Catman continues to be one of our more popular local legends, it is probably the story we get the most emails and questions about. In fact, even when while working in a primary school last week on a totally unrelated comic project, one of the young people was only too happy to share his own Catman story with us. And every time we hear the story retold, there's a new detail.

Late last year, following some reported new sightings of the Catman, a group of students from Edinburgh Uni came down to Greenock to create a short documentary to try and uncover the truth. Myself and some other interesting Greenock characters were interviewed for the film.

We've always been really clear at Magic Torch, that part of what is so interesting about the Catman is that his story still gets told - indeed, we've been part of that retelling. Is he an urban legend? Folklore? Fakelore? As ever, it's down to you to make your own mind up about how real the Catman is, or was...

You can purchase our Tales of the Oak comic which features the 'Claws of the Catman' strip from our Magic Torch Comics shop.

A much friendlier version of the Catman legend appears in my children's book The Superpower Project, which will be published by Floris Books Kelpies on February 18th.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Watt's This?

artwork by Andy Lee
19 January is the birthday of James Watt, Greenock's most famous son - and certainly someone whose life and work had a transformative impact on the world as we know it. And he came from our town.

We were delighted this week to stumble across the James Watt 2015-19 Celebration Project, which is celebrating Watt's life and the invention of the separate condenser in the lead up to 2019, which is the 250th Anniversary of the patent and the bicentenary of Watt's death. It was especially pleasing, because the project was making the direct connection with Greenock and Watt, a part of the story which is often forgotten or lightly airbrushed out. You can follow the project on twitter #Watt250

Watt has always been an inspiration to us, though we have also had a bit of fun with how we remember him. The fake steampunky comic cover above was designed for our Tales of the Oak comic of 2012, and imagines what might have happened if Watt had gone off the rails and started working for the military...I like how you can see Victoria tower in the background.

James Watt also features in my new children's book, The Superpower Project, along with one of his more unusual inventions. The Superpower Project is published by Floris Books (Kelpies) and will be out on February 18th.