Comicsopolis – a public appeal to unearth more of Dundee’s comics history

An academic at the University of Dundee is researching the rich history of comics in Dundee, and is appealing for the help of the public in unearthing memories and details of publications which have long since disappeared.

Christopher Murray, the world’s first Professor of Comics Studies, is in the process of writing Comicsopolis – A History of Comics in Dundee, and is interested in hearing from anyone who reads, collects, or creates comics in Dundee, or has in the past.

“I think of Dundee as not only the Juteopolis, but also the Comicsopolis – the city of comics,” said Professor Murray, who was born and raised in Dundee and has been an eager consumer from an early age of comics from the city and around the world.

“In my research I am of course interested in the history of DC Thomson comics, but I also want this book to present the largely untold history of comics in Dundee. I start with the early cartoon strips that appeared in newspapers and illustrated magazines like The Piper O’ Dundee, The Wasp, and The City Echo, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, to the rise of DC Thomson’s comics in the 1930s, straight through to the present.”

In the course of this research, Professor Murray has also discovered a largely untold story that includes long forgotten Dundee comics from publishers other than DC Thomson, including a number of self-published and small press comics. But he wants to learn much more, and he believes that this knowledge may be hidden away in the memories of fellow Dundonians.

He said, “I would love to hear stories about reading comics in Dundee. Where did people buy their comics? Who did they share them with? What did parents and teachers make of the comics? So many people in Dundee read comics, or have worked for DC Thomson, or had a relative who worked for them. I hear stories about this all the time, so there is a wealth of knowledge out there in the community.

“I am particularly interested to hear about the art agency and studio run by Bill McCail and Len Fullerton in the 1940s, located in the Overgate, as well as tales from the DC Thomson’s art department, any information about comics creators from Dundee, or creators who came to Dundee to live and work.

“I’m also interested in the two issues that Valentines, the postcard company, produced in 1948 (Super Bumper Comic and Ace Comic), about which very little is known.

“I am looking forward to hearing stories about Dundee’s comics history, past and present. If anyone has parents or grandparents with long memories please do ask them if they know anything about these long neglected aspects of Dundee's comics history.”

Professor Murray is also inviting anyone with an interest in the research or history of comics in Dundee to complete a short survey, which is available at: https://dundee.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/dundee-comics-project

He can also be contacted by mail at School of Humanities, University of Dundee, Dundee, Scotland, DD1 4HN, email at c.murray@dundee.ac.uk or by phone on 01382 384907.


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