Scottish superhero challenge to Marvel and DC Comics

By Steven McKenzie
BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter

image copyrightDiamondsteel Comics
image captionA panel from the Saltire comic books

A St Andrews-based independent comic book publisher is challenging the USA's domination of the superhero genre.

Diamondsteel Comics held a launch for the latest comic in its Saltire series at Glasgow Comic Con at the weekend.

Set in a mythological Scotland but inspired by historical events and real places, the stories centre on "Scotland's first superhero" - Saltire.

Creator John Ferguson believes the new comic "meets the high standards" of America's Marvel and DC Comics.

image copyrightDiamondsteel Comics
image captionSaltire's creator John Ferguson and Lydia Praamsma, one of the artists who worked on the latest book in the series
image copyrightDiamondsteel Comics
image captionSaltire's creative team at the weekend's Glasgow Comic Con

First published two years ago, the comics follow Saltire's encounters with Saxons, Romans, Highland clan warriors and also supernatural beings such as vampires and giants.

Some of the characters have been inspired by historical events and figures, including the mysterious disappearance of the Roman auxiliary legion the 9th Hispana in Scotland in AD 120 and the Hebrides' Lord of the Isles.

image copyrightDiamondsteel Comics
image captionSaltire is dubbed by its writers and artists as Scotland's first superhero
image copyrightDiamondsteel Comics
image captionThe stories are set in a mythological Scotland

Glaswegian Ferguson, who set up Diamondsteel Comics with his Lancashire-born wife Clare, said other elements of Scotland's past and folklore also feature.

He said: "The Stone of Destiny, the Blue Stanes, the Loch Ness Monster and the Caledonian Fae traditions all have a significant place in the Saltire universe.

"Saltire's origin is built from myth and legend so a comparison might be Marvel's Thor although perhaps a bit darker and grittier. He does have an iconic visual appeal similar to the famous American superheroes."

A year in the making, Saltire: Legend Eternal, the first comic book in a new series of the comics has been "meticulously inked, coloured and lettered" to compete with the high standards set by Marvel and DC Comics, said Ferguson.

He added: "This book is a genuine competitor to Batman and Spider-Man and it's illustrated by some of the most talented artists in the country. Superhero fans are going to love it."

image copyrightDiamondsteel Comics

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