Calum Laird

Representations of conflict and character in British War Comics

Growing up in the spiritual home of British comics, it was perhaps inevitable that Calum would be drawn into the shadow of single tower of DC Thomsons’ Dundee HQ. Not that he saw it that way, completing a science degree at St Andrews before joining up. In a 35-year career he has worked on teenage girls’ magazines, newspapers, a motorcycle title and, of course, comics — specifically The Dandy and Commando.

Having completed a Masters degree in Comics Studies under the watchful eye of Dr Chris Murray, he has moved on to a PhD. With so many years spent working on war comics, he is using this experience as a base on which to build his research into the British war comics’ treatment of combatants facing British (or at least Allied) forces — images, plots, characterisations and dialogue.

His work will cover the period from the early 20th Century to the present, with particular reference to how the representation of warfare — and those involved in war more broadly — has changed in those comics. The findings will assess how the changes in the comics produced reflect alterations in the values and views of society generally, the changing comics industry, and the readership.

The project will involve the examination of a vast amount of primary material, looking at British war comics as a whole and taking Calum back to the period when his interest in comics was first kindled. The project will gather information about the creation of war comics never before collated, by drawing upon in-depth interviews conducted with a very large cross section of comics artists, writers, editors and publishers.

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