From postgraduate degrees and lectures to regular cons, book launches, and shops stocking the latest releases: Glasgow is an absolute haven for comic book readers – whether your interests are purely academic, or you’re fangirl and proud (or maybe even an acafan?!) James has previously blogged about some of the West End’s Hidden Gems and Sacha has composed a Glasgow Summer Survival Guide, and I’m now going to share a few of Glasgow’s many Wonders in Panels.
Forget the dark side and their precious cookies: come to UofG, we have comics! UofG is home to both the 2000 volume-strong Stirling Maxwell Collection, and the Stirling Maxwell Centre for the Study of Image/Text Cultures, as well as the World’s First Comic, The Glasgow Looking Glass in Special Collections. The Stirling Maxwell Centre offers a wide range of postgraduate study opportunities, a regular seminar series, exhibitions, and more. Research is multidisciplinary too, with researchers based in departments all around UofG, including Modern Languages, English and Scottish Literatures, and Theology. As the Stirling Maxwell webpage states, it’s not just about “dusty picture books”. My thesis focuses on fandom and empowerment in Batgirl and Harley Quinn comics, but I know PGRs producing fascinating research on French bande dessinée, as well as religious, autobiographical, and romance comics.
We don’t just study comics in Glasgow, we make them too. We have a thriving comic book scene full of talented writers and artists, as well as comics publisher Black Hearted Press (BHP) Comics. They publish plenty of fantastic comics in a variety of genres from both established creators and new talent. If that’s not enough, the team behind BHP comics also founded a whole host of comic book events, from talks and exhibitions to the critically acclaimed Glasgow Comic Con, now in its seventh year. Glasgow Comic Con is an unmissable event for any comic book fan, showcasing a wide range of creators from around the world. This year’s guests included Pat Mills, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McElvie, and Amy Reeder, as well as brilliant exhibitors such as Neil Slorance and Team Girl Comic.
The Scottish Independent Comic Book Alliance, who organise the Scottish Independent Comic Book Alliance Awards (SICBAs), have been celebrating local indie comic talent since 2011, providing creators a platform upon which their work can shine. Now in its seventh year, the SICBAs are the UK’s longest running comic book award ceremony. As in previous years, this year’s awards were announced at the start of July as part of Glasgow Comic Con. The head chair of the judging panel, Nyla Ahmad, will also be chairing a showcase event as part of the digital #ScotLitFest on the 23rd of July. Nyla will be joined by the winners of the 2017 SICBA Awards to discuss Scotland’s exceptional comics scene. This is set to be a brilliant event, and will be the perfect opportunity to see some outstanding work and hear from Scotland’s next wave of comics talent.
I spoke to Nyla about her thoughts on the awards, and the blossoming Scottish Comics scene. She said, ‘It’s truly an honour to chair the SICBA Awards. Scotland consistently punches above its weight when it comes to comics creators, publishers and events. Every year we receive fantastic submissions and crown deserving winners. Scotland is set to continue its reputation as a home for comics greats and it’s wonderful to be involved in recognising creators who could one day join the ranks of Scottish talents like Frank Quitely, John Wagner and Denise Mina.’
A trip to Glasgow isn’t complete without visiting a few of the city’s museums, and luckily there are even some comics-themed exhibitions to visit this summer. The Kelvingrove Museum is currently home to the largest collection of Glasgow-born artist Vincent Deighan, aka Frank Quitely (who recently received an Honorary Degree from UofG!) If you missed the Comic Invention exhibition at the Hunterian last year, don’t panic – you can now see it at Clydebank Museum and Art Gallery, with some additions from their local collections.
Need a regular comics fix? If you’re after the latest comics news, reviews, and events, check out The Big Glasgow Comic Page. Meanwhile, Forbidden Planet hosts She Reads Comics, a monthly drop-in event for comics-loving women to meet, chat comics, and pick up a few books too. Speaking of shopping, there are plenty of booksellers and comic book stores dotted around the city where you can catch up on the latest and in some instances, back issues of your favourite series, or discover something new. No matter where you are in Glasgow, there are plenty of places to get your fix, including City Centre Comics, A1 Toys and Waterstones. If you’re on campus, you can also pick up a graphic novel or two from our very own John Smith bookshop.
As a self-confessed fangirl, I could easily write another few hundred words, but this post is simply the metaphorical opening panels of Glasgow’s comic book connections. There are still countless creators, shops, and books to be discovered throughout Glasgow’s rich history and geography, that I haven’t been able to mention. If you’ve got any comics-related recommendations you’d like to share, as ever, let us know in the comments or drop us a line on Twitter.