Press Release

Hailey’s comic: a world-first for Colorado student

Published on 13 July 2019

A University of Dundee student has penned herself a page in comic book history as she becomes the first American to write for the UK’s legendary Commando comic

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Hailey Austin holding up her comic book

Hailey Austin, a 24-year-old PhD student, who moved to Scotland with no experience of writing comics. She has made her international mark in the comic book scene after writing Steel Inferno, a fictionalised version of a true World War II story of bravery and sacrifice.

Inspired by the daring efforts of a train crew who saved a Cambridgeshire town from an ammunition train that caught fire, Hailey was determined to share their story in the popular war comic.

“I came across the rail disaster and was struck by the incredible bravery of those who sacrificed themselves to prevent an even greater tragedy. With 44 carriages packed full of ammunition the damage and loss of life would have been colossal if they had not got the wagon on fire as far away as they could,” said Hailey.

“No one really knows how the fire broke out but for my story, I thought ‘what if it wasn’t accidental?’ and had a Nazi spy sabotaging an ammunition delivery only to be foiled by these men.

“Luckily the editorial team at Commando loved it and I’m very excited to see it published. I didn’t have any experience of writing comics before I came to Dundee but I have learned so much in my time here. I love doing it and want to do a lot more of it in the future.”

Hailey has already established herself in the vanguard of female comic creators. She is one of the first women in more than 30 years to write for one of Scotland’s longest-running titles and helped co-found the Dundee chapter of Laydeez Do Comics, an international organisation championing women writers.

She will not have to wait long before her next publication day as Commando has picked up another of her stories. The next comic which covers the women of the French Resistance will be published to coincide with International Women’s Day next March.

Hailey, from Bennett, Colorado, graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish. Her PhD research in comics attracted media attention last year after she discovered rare comics dating back to the 1800s in the University’s archives.

The city of Dundee in Scotland is a recognised powerhouse of comics production. It is home to DC Thomson & Co Ltd, producers of iconic titles such as the Beano, Dandy, Commando, Starblazer and Bunty. The University of Dundee’s Masters in Comics and Graphic Novels is the only course of its kind in the UK and it is one of only a handful of institutions in the world offering the opportunity to study comics at postgraduate level.

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Student work/achievement