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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Well-Loved Wily Highlander Cartoon Angus Og Goes on Scottish Tour Including a Belladrum Debut

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Created for the Daily Record and printed from 1960-1989, cartoonist Ewen Bain’s wily Highlander character ‘Angus Og’ who is well loved across the generations is set to go on a tour across Scotland.

A full collection of original Angus Og cartoons is currently held in Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre following the donation of Ewen Bain’s drawings and other documents by his daughter Rhona Flin.

All 158 of Angus Og’s adventures were based on the fabled ‘Isle of Drambeg’ in the ‘Utter Hebrides’.

Parts of the original collection have been collated into a series of workshops which is set to tour across Scotland this year.

Katharine Macfarlane, High Life Highland’s Archives Project Officer, said:

“I am delighted by the opportunity to work with the Angus Og collection, and fondly remember the cartoons appearing in the paper.

“The cartoons offer an engaging insight into Scottish social history, while also retaining glints of modern issues despite some drawings being over 60 years old.

“Many of the stories reflect on topical national issues that still affect our communities today: land ownership, tourism, language, and more.

“I’m excited to bring the cartoons back to public attention ensuring their place in the proud history of cartoons in Scotland.

“Most of all, I’m looking forward to seeing people laughing together as they share the hilarious adventures of Angus Og with one another.”

The tour is already under way.

On Friday 23rd June, GalGael community members reminisced and had friendly debates about Angus Og in Glasgow, with plenty of lively discussion sparked by the original drawings.

Gehan MacLeod, GalGael’s Project Coordinator, chipped in:

“What a great session!

“I loved seeing how caught up in discussion everyone was, as well as noticing how poignant the topics touched on are.”

On Saturday 24th June, the Angus Og collection arrived in Kingussie for the first ever ‘Kingussie Festival of Words’ where cartoon strips relating to the festival theme of migration were explored.

The otherwise complex topic was truly elevated by the light touch of Ewen Bain’s humour and by the end of the well-attended event, there were plenty of new Angus Og fans.

Katharine continued:

“Some readers may remember that characters from the Angus Og appeared at ‘Drambeag Festival’ hosted on the croft in a comic strip released in 1976.

“Attendees of the fictional music festival are so intoxicated by the scent of peatsmoke that they call for bagpipes and Gaelic songs instead of guitars.

“This time, Angus Og and friends will really make their appearance at a music festival, because the next date on the tour will be an appearance on Verb Garden stage at Belladrum – so keep your eyes peeled on Thursday 27th July from 8pm onwards!”

The tour will also include John O’ Groats on 9th September in time for the ‘John O’ Groats Story Festival’ before finishing off the tour by travelling through Skye, Lochalsh, and the Small Isles.

This part of the tour is funded by Highland Council Ward Discretionary Funds.

Finally, the Angus Og collection will make its way back to home ground on Skye for a ‘Cartoon Ceilidh’ during Book Week Scotland, funded by the Scottish Book Trust.

Steve Walsh, High Life Highland’s Chief Executive, concluded:

“It’s such an honour for High Life Highland to host the original collection of Angus Og comics at the Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre.

“Moreso, High Life Highland is delighted that the collection is currently touring Scotland, enabling a number of communities across Scotland to engage with what is a nostalgic and important part of national social history.”

High Life Highland’s Highland Archive Service are currently working to digitise and conserve the collection of Angus Og cartoons after receiving funding from the Scottish Government.

The funding is part of the National Island Plan which was awarded to all Scottish local authority areas with island populations.

It seeks to support the development of cultural and historic resources, encouraging Island residents to engage with, and participate in, arts and culture.

The funding will be used to support, develop, and promote the creative talents of Islanders, and ensure that the culture of Scotland’s islands has a wide audience both nationally and abroad.

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