Some info about another of our wonderful speakers!
Calum Laird: Comando Comic Editor
Calum was born in Dundee, home of Comic Kings DC Thomson & Co, there was always a fair chance that he would end up working in the comics industry.
No-one, however, had told him that and he took a science degree at St Andrews University in the late 70s. Once he had graduated, though, the comic magnets were switched on and, after a brief spell as a labourer at the firm’s print works, he landed a job as a trainee on Jackie Magazine. After 18 months there Calum moved to Commando Comic, which became my home from home.
Despite several “postings” to teenage magazines, women’s magazines, a motorcycle title and one of the commercial departments, he returned to Commando in 2007 after three years on The Dandy Comic. Calum was in the fortunate position of taking over from the man who had mentored him in his early days and was delighted, if not a bit overwhelmed, to be doing his best to fill his very large footprint. He is expected to say this, but it’s true – Commando was his favourite comic growing up. To be responsible for nurturing this national treasure is a privilege, a dream come true…and one big responsibility.
Calum has recently graduated from Dundee University with a Masters Degree in Comics Studies, one of the first intake to a new and exciting development at the University.
Calum will be taking about the successful Comando comic and how ideas develop from observations and experiences to a story filled with action and adventure.
Between the covers of Commando lies the story. These are always fiction but they’re always set against an authentic background based in solid fact and the author’s research.
But a Commando is more than just paper and ink. It’s the story of a struggle against adversity, a tale of action and adventure, which can be set against the background of the Roman invasion of Britain, the battlefields of Nazi-occupied Europe or, sometimes, the imagined battleground of the future.
The action can take place anywhere from the depths of the ocean or the dizzy heights of space.
Every Commando starts with an idea. These can be the slightest thing and can be prompted by almost anything. They could be born as the result of seeing a piece of military equipment, the tale of an actual event, an imagined piece of dialogue. There’s no formula, every writer is different and may come up with ideas a hundred different ways.
All we know is that the ideas come and we’re glad of it.
So, you've got your idea, what’s next?
From the idea, the writer has to build his story into a plot with a beginning a middle and an end. And characters. Commando revolves around characters. Square pegs in round holes, the fearful, the daring, the compassionate, the cruel. All must overcome or be overcome.
When all that comes together it’s written down as a synopsis, a stripped-down outline of the incidents and the players who will bring the tale to life.
Next there’s the script, a sample of which you can see in this exhibition. It follows a format and contains a picture description for the illustrator to follow, a panel or panels to carry the plot forward and balloons to reveal what those vital characters are saying or thinking.
This completed script is given form by the artist. He gives faces to fighting men, gives them guns and uniforms, gives them life. And, where the script demands, he may bring death to them too.
Once he has done his bit, the words and pictures finally meet up on the finished page.
And all that from a chance remark or observation.