Monday, October 01, 2007

Lobey Dosser

(* Jeremy Briggs -- rapidly becoming a more regular contributor to my blog than I am! -- has been out and about with his camera to bring you this report on a character familiar to Scotsmen but perhaps a little obscure further south...)


There is an odd little statue in the Woodlands district of Glasgow that I must have driven past dozens of times. Since I have always been more interested in not crashing into the car in front of me, I have never really paid it much attention, although it did rather seem to have too many heads and not enough legs. However with mentions of comics related statues both here on Bear Alley and on Steve Flanagan’s Gad Sir! Comics!, a friend asked me why no one had ever covered the Glasgow statue. Perhaps it is because the character of Lobey Dosser is not that widely know beyond Glasgow.

Created by artist Bud Neil for the Glasgow Evening News, where he first appeared on 24 January 1949, Lobey was a contemporary Glaswegian who moved to the wild west of America to become the sheriff of the town of Calton Creek. He befriended that rarest of creatures, a two legged horse, which he named El Fideldo or Elfie, and who helped him combat the nefarious schemes of town villain Rank Bajin.

Written for a local audience the majority of the names, as in the English language translations of Asterix The Gaul, were a play on words. A lobby dosser is a vagrant who sleeps in the entrance hallways of Glasgow's tenement flats, while Rank Bajin translates from the Glaswegian as Really Bad One.

If a two legged horse wasn't fantastical enough for you, one of the characters was a fairy. Her name was Nuff, as in Fairy Nuff, and she is married to the ex-spy Rid Skwerr. In the days of the Cold War, “Red Square” was a good tongue-in-cheek name for an ex-spy. Did I mention that Rid was dead but as a ghost he had been hired by the town council to haunt the local cemetery? Now you are beginning to get the idea of the kind of surreal world that Lobey inhabited.

With Glasgow being European City of Culture in 1990, Lobey fan Calum MacKenzie proposed a public statue as a memorial to Bud Neill and, with the backing of the Glasgow Herald newspaper, a public appeal for funds began. The statue, designed by Tony Morrow and Nick Gillon, was duly erected in 1992. It shows Lobey sitting astride Elfie with his six-gun drawn, having captured Rank Bajin who is sitting behind him in handcuffs. It is located in Woodlands Road, Glasgow, just cross from the Halt Bar and down the road from the Futureshock comics shop.

Bud Neil drew the strip in the daily Glasgow Evening Times from 1949 to 1956 and, for a short time in 1958, in the Scottish Sunday Mail (not to be confused with The Mail On Sunday). Lobey Dosser was popular enough in the 1950s for small reprint books to be published of his adventures and in 1992 five of these books were republished in the compilation book by Ranald MacColl, Lobey’s The Wee Boy. This was followed by Bud Neil’s Magic! in 1997, which reprinted many of Neil’s single frame newspaper cartoons, and in 1998 Lobey Dosser: Further Adventures Of The Wee Boy!

More details about Lobey Dosser and the inhabitants of Calton Creek can be found here while there are more details about his creator on Wikipedia.

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