Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Tall Tales for Sale

Just a wee reminder that myself and the Magic Torch team are available to work with you or your community group / organisation on producing comics.

We offer a flexible programme which can be tailored to suit the time and resources you have available. Our workshops include everything from working on scripts and illustration through to actually publishing a completed comic, you simply choose from our menu of options.
- Graphic Storytelling : introductory session exploring comics
- Finding the story / researching : shaped by your project outcomes
- Character design
- Script and page layout
- Creation

The 1 or 2 hour sessions are delivered over one or two months, with the end product being an 8 page pdf copy which can be shared online and printed. Additional options resource permitting, include producing presentation display boards of your comic, or short runs of physical copies.

If you are interested in finding out about costs etc, contact aulddunrod@gmail.com

Also, you may be interested in helping us with a new venture based on my Community Fables coping mechanism / creative problem solving. Check out more details here...

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Tin Jimmy - Seagull

Calloo callay! I have almost for realises finished the first draft of my "magnificent octopus" or "first book" Tin Jimmy, some of which includes the research and exploration of the mysterious steam powered gentleman.

This is a page from 1950s Greenock "boys comic", Seagull featuring some of his local adventures from back in the day. Both the Seagull comic and a more shiny steampunk Tin Jimmy feature in the strip Mr Cube Strikes, which looks at the history of the Greenock Sugar Sheds.

Props as ever to Andy Lee.


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Tin Jimmy - Chapter Five

Haven't posted some of this for ages, so Tin Jimmy Chapter One - Four catchup is here.

Following a map left to her by her recently exploded Gran, Megan and Cam have found a robot down the Port Glasgow bomb shelter and Megan wants to take him home...

Cam peered out of the bomb shelter entrance into the night, ‘Right, it looks pretty clear. Come on, but we should stick to the backroads.’
‘You mean the places we would never normally walk under any circumstances?’ asked Megan, ‘even during the day?’
‘We just went down a really dark tunnel!’ Cam pointed to the robot, ‘Plus we’ve got your new friend to help us if it gets dangerous.’
‘Cam! He’s in no state for trouble, listen to him.’
Megan gestured and the robot walked timidly forwards, creaking like an old garden gate. He looked around confused, as if trying to discover the source of the noise. Cam shook his head.
‘Look if anyone sees him we can just pretend he’s our art homework or something,’ said Megan, ‘I mean no one’s going to think he’s an actual robot are they?’
Cam stared again at the rusted brass and muck caked figure, shambling squeakily out of the tunnel, ‘Well, certainly no one who thinks robots are cool, no.’
Megan, Cam and the robot picked their way carefully down the hillside to the supermarket carpark which hid the entrance to the bomb shelter.
‘Can we at least try and stick to the shadows?’ asked Cam, ‘there’s streetlights and CCTV everywhere.’
‘Radar?’ asked the robot suddenly, ‘are we on radar?’
‘Radar?’ said Megan, ‘I don’t think the town’s hooked up to a radar system, no…’
The robot reached behind his ear and flicked a switch.
‘I am now invisible to radar.’
‘Excellent,’ said Cam, ‘that’ll come in really handy if there’s any submarines looking for us.’
The robot stopped, ‘Are the submarines looking for us already?’, he seemed genuinely worried.
‘Cam, stop it!’ said Megan, ‘We’re fine. He means we should be careful who sees us.’
‘He should say what he means then,’ observed the robot, with just the slightest note of irritation.
Megan grinned, ‘Yes. He really should.’
Cam punched her in the arm.
 'Do you know who built you?' he asked
The robot clicked and whirred once again.
'The engineer.'
'Okay. That narrows it down.' said Cam.
'Was it someone from Waterworx?' tried Megan, thinking of the Phoenix Egg in the shipyard.
'I was built in 1809.'
'Rubbish!' said Cam, 'that's over 200 years ago. You would have rusted away to nothing.'
'There have been...replacement parts. Especially during all the wars.'
'You were in the war?' asked Megan.
'Many wars. I was built for battle at...Waterloo.'
'Come off it! Waterloo?'
'Mr Watt built me to be put into service as mobile artillery against Napoleon.'
'Mr Watt...wait...James Watt? James Watt the inventor?' asked Megan.
The robot tapped the back of his neck to indicate the sign which was welded there. 'You know Mr Watt?' he asked.
'Well he's quite famous,' explained Megan.
'I am named after him...Jimmy. A Tin Jimmy. TJ zero one.'
'Tin Jimmy,' smiled Megan, 'nice to meet you TJ.'
'There used to be a college round here named after him as well,’ said Cam, ‘my mum did night classes.’
'Is Mr Watt at the college?'
Cam and Megan exchanged glances.
'Uhm. He's dead TJ, has been for awhile.'
TJ slumped, 'Oh yes. I remember now.'
He stopped, staring at the empty streets and the buoys flickering on the river.
‘It looks…different.’
‘The town? Well it’s changing all the time right now,’ said Megan, ‘when were you last out and about?’
‘There were cranes. And boats,’ he pointed to the riverside, ‘all along there.’
Megan nodded, ‘Sounds like it’s been awhile then.’
‘Why were you tied up down a bomb shelter anyway?’ asked Cam, who didn’t really believe in mollycoddling robots.
The robot, as if suddenly aware of his arms, moved them around, they squeaked horribly. ‘I was hiding.’
‘From what?’ asked Megan.
‘From them. We had to hide from them.’
TJ clicked and whirred, Megan had started to realize this meant she wasn’t going to get an answer.
‘I have…forgotten this also.’
‘I know,’ said Megan, giving him a little reassuring pat on the back, ‘it doesn’t matter just now.’
‘Yes it does!’ said Cam, ‘supposing whoever he’s hiding from is after us now?’
Smiling, Megan ignored him completely, ‘Cam, what would be best for stopping TJ from squeaking so much?’
‘Less rust?’
‘I was thinking more whatever it is you use on that ancient BMX.’
TJ stopped walking, suddenly aware of the hideous screeches and shrieks howling from his joints each time he took a step, ‘Is that me? The noise?’
‘Afraid so, guess you’ve been down there hiding…’
‘Since 11:27pm, May 23rd, nineteen sixty five.’
‘May 23rd, seriously?’ said Megan, ‘that’s my birthday.’
‘Yeah…if you had been born fifty years ago,’ said Cam, ‘TJ, you’ve really been down a hole in the ground for fifty years?’
Once again, Megan could sense his bewilderment through the lack of expression, ‘Is that how long?’ he asked, ‘It felt…sooner.’
Again, he stared into the dark, searching for something he recognized, anything.
‘Where are we going?’ he asked.
‘Good question,’ said Cam, ‘Megan invited you to my house, she’s very kind like that.’
‘Cam you know my mum will freak out more than yours, anything to do with gran is too hard for her right now.’
‘Then don’t tell her it’s your grans robot,’ said Cam, ‘that should help.’
Megan narrowed her eyes, not saying anything. Cam understood anyway.
‘Well he’s not coming in the house. He’ll get rust and mud everywhere.’
Megan and Cam were so busy with their discussion, that it took them a moment to realize that TJ was no longer walking beside them. He was standing perfectly still, being examined by two policemen.
‘I think you may have forgotten something,’ said the taller policeman of the two, gesturing to the robot just in case it wasn’t clear what he meant, ‘I’m assuming this is yours yes?’
‘It’s an art project,’ explained Megan quickly, ‘we’re doing sculptures at school.’
‘Lots of sculptures round here just now,’ said the smaller policeman, ‘but they don’t usually get left just lying around in the street.’
‘Sorry,’ said Cam, ‘we were trying to work out how to get it home.’
‘Sculptures don’t usually need to go for a walk,’ said the tall policeman, ‘they generally just stay in the one place’
‘Yes, but there’s a few of us doing the project and we’re bringing it back from our friends house,’ said Megan, feeling just a little bit bad about how easily that lie had happened, but generally quite pleased about how plausible it sounded.
‘We’ve got to paint it,’ said Cam, joining in.
‘And I take it you didn’t realize how heavy it was going to be,’ said the small policeman.
‘No we did,’ said Megan, ‘it’s just that Cam hasn’t really been trying very hard.’
Cam glared at her as both the policemen shook their heads disapprovingly.
‘It’s late,’ said the tall policeman, ‘and it’s dark. I’d rather we got you and your art project home before you all get into trouble.’
‘Just to be clear though,’ said Cam, ‘we’re not actually in trouble at the moment?’
‘Not yet,’ said the small policeman.
‘It’s just that my mum’s a nurse,’ said Cam, as if this explained everything. Or indeed anything.
‘No we just want you home safe,’ said the tall policeman, ‘no need to worry. Will it fit in the car alright?
‘Uhm,’ said Megan, very suddenly unsure of why she had thought a lift home in a police car might be a good thing, ‘yeah, he’s pretty flexible.’
Cam nodded very slowly, as if his head were about to fall off.
‘I’ll get in first Cam, and you can pass him over,’ suggested Megan, looking not at Cam, but at TJ, ‘if you lift his left leg up first and sort of push him towards me, I’ll grab him, and you can lift up the other leg. Yeah?’
‘I suppose,’ said Cam.
‘Here, I’ll help,’ said the small policeman.
Megan bundled into the back seat of the police car, arms out stretched to catch the robot, or any bits that might fall off him. Both policemen and Cam lifted TJ, pushing him towards the doors and into the backseat. Megan shuffled over, dragging him in until his head touched the opposite car door. His legs were still hanging out of the other side.
‘Do his feet unscrew?’ asked the tall policeman.
‘Don’t think so,’ said the small policeman, ‘just need to fold him up a bit.’
‘Careful!’ said Megan.
‘Yeah,’ said Cam, ‘that’s a fortnights work that.’
With a terribly unpleasant shriek, TJ’s legs folded at the knee. The flakes of rust and clay which crumbled off them at this point suggested it had probably been a long time since TJ had done squat jumps. He was folded though, and inside the car.
‘In you get,’ said the tall policeman to Cam.
‘Don’t forget seatbelts,’ said the small policeman.
It was a short drive to Cam’s house, and the policemen were nice and chatty on the way, talking them through various recent crime statistics and their favourite types of chocolate biscuit. They even helped get TJ out of the car and into the garden shed, only banging his head on the door twice.
‘Well, get off home you two,’ said the small policeman.
‘Don’t want you wandering the streets after dark,’ said the tall policeman.
Smiling, they drove off.
‘TJ are you okay?’ said Megan, genuinely upset, ‘did we break anything? Can you still move?’
There was a brief silence, then the already familiar clicks and whirrs.
‘I am fine,’ said TJ, ‘though I think my kneecap may still be in the car.’
Elsewhere, a wall of screens filled a dark room. On every screen, a different scene from across the town. The man was staring at a screen showing a mostly empty supermarket car park. Standing there were two children and…something blurred in between them. Something else. It was as if the camera could not focus.
‘And what,’ said Mr Finn, ‘is that?’

Friday, 10 January 2014

2014 - Shall Not Suck!

I've shared our Local Heroes on the Tales of the Oak blog, but I really really like it, so here it is again. Looking forward to writing some stories about these folks later in the year. Right now, I'm all about the steam powered robots, so here's a wee detail from Andy Lee's Tin Jimmy schematic, currently on display in the Dutch Gable House on Sir Glen Douglas Rhodes desk.

Here's a wee haiku for now...

January fires
Have many long months to burn.
Collect kindling.

Monday, 23 December 2013


As another year lurches towards the edge, I could go all introspective and maudlin...BUT ITS NEARLY CHRISTMAS!

So here instead is the Tales of the Oak Christmas Special, a wee slice of Christmas fear...

You may also enjoy this selection of festive treats.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

I'm Waiting to be Offended

for all I know, this image may be dangerously out of context...

A silly poem, swifty scribbled and growled through a rictus grin...

I'm waiting to be offended,
And I really won't like it one bit.
Whatever you'll do will be awful,
And I'm simply not standing for it.

Maybe you'll use a bad swear word,
Perhaps inappropriate slang,
Or do a revolting hand gesture,
Or refer to someone as a "wang"

Perhaps it's because of the context,
Or your outdated views on x/y,
Your belief in divine intervention,
I must have my right to reply.

I cannot come round to your viewpoint,
I'd rather we were all the same.
I won't be agreeing to differ,
And I think we all know who's to blame.

Could be I won't like how you say things,
It won't be so much what you've said,
It's more how you looked when you said it,
I'll assume you'd prefer I was dead.

I don't want to hear things that upset me,
Can't we just have this sort of thing banned?
Lock up the stupid and tactless,
Then at least we'll all know where we stand.

All I know is, it won't wash at all, no.
I knew to expect this from you.
You're precisely just that type of person,
Who offends with whatever you do.

We've all done it. Especially you. No, not you - you. Precisely.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A Nip In The Air

So far this year, with the support of Heritage Lottery Scotland, Magic Torch have given you TWO WHOLE FREE BOOKS, Wee Nasties and Tales of the Oak - both still available online.

Now is your...let's call it a "lucky chance", to give a little something back. Torch are currently fundraising for contributions towards our next years projects - and if you enjoyed this years mix of free childrens books, comics, folklore and storytelling...then you won't be disappointed.

To help, we've released a new ebook collection exclusively on kindle which is ideally suited for this time of year. There's a wee bit of everything from doomed love to haunted industrial wastelands and it can be yours for a mere 99p - blimey, that's way less than a non alcoholic mulled cider drink or crepe from a European Christmas Market. And with at least half the calories.

Family member getting a kindle for Christmas? Know an elderly relative in need of a scare? Then show someone the price of your love - all 99p of it. Though I would argue there is at least £1.89 of value.

You can get A Nip In The Air on amazon now, all profits following enormous amazon cut, will be reinvested in local heritage projects run by volunteers, no individual contributors will benefit from it's sale...

And if you have enjoyed that, then don't forget our original classic folktale collection Tales of the Oak is on sale as well.