Oor Wullie

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Oor Wullie
Author(s) Dudley D. Watkins, Ken H. Harrison
Peter Davidson
Current status / schedule Weekly, The Sunday Post
Launch date 8 March 1936
Publisher(s) D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd
Genre(s) Humour

Oor Wullie is a Scottish comic strip published in the D.C. Thomson newspaper The Sunday Post. It features a character called Wullie, the familiar Scots nickname for boys named William. Oor Wullie means Our Willie. His trademarks are spiky hair, dungarees and an upturned bucket, which he often uses as a seat - most strips since early 1937 begin and end with a single panel of Wullie sitting on his bucket. The earliest strips, with little dialogue, ended with Wullie complaining ("I nivver get ony fun roond here!"). The artistic style settled down by 1940 and has changed little since. A frequent tagline reads, "Oor Wullie! Your Wullie! A'body's Wullie!" (Our Willie! Your Willie! Everybody's Willie!).

Created by Thomson editor R. D. Low and drawn by cartoonist Dudley D. Watkins, the strip first appeared on 8 March 1936. Watkins continued to draw Oor Wullie until his death in 1969, after which the Post recycled his work into the 1970s. New strips were eventually commissioned from Tom Lavery, followed by Peter Davidson and Robert Nixon. Ken H. Harrison drew the strip from 1989 until 1997, when Davidson resumed duties. Between January 2005 and 2006 storylines were written by broadcaster Tom Morton from his home in Shetland,[1] and subsequently they were written by Dave Donaldson, managing director of Thomson's comics division.[2] The current writer is former Dandy editor Morris Heggie.

Characters and story[edit]

Wullie, his full name is William MacCallum, home town is unnamed in the original Watkins strips, but it has been called Auchenshoogle since the late 1990s. In Watkins' earlier scripts, his attempt at Scots was inaccurate, but later it became an accurate depiction of Dundee dialect[citation needed] (Dundee being where the publisher, D.C. Thomson is based). In 1970s' annuals, which reprinted earlier strips, Watkins' dialogue was Anglicised somewhat, and the current scripts feature Scots of a more generic kind.

Wullie and his friends roam the streets of his town, though he is sometimes depicted at school which he finds confining. Praise from his teacher, who addresses him as "William", is acutely embarrassing. His adventures consist mostly of unrealistic get-rich-quick schemes that lead to mischief, to the despair of his parents Ma and Pa (Dave) and local policeman P.C. Joe Murdoch. Wullie's gang consists of Fat Boab (Eng: Fat Bob), Wee Eck (Eng: Little Alex), Soapy Joe (AKA Soutar) and Primrose Patterson (an annoying girl who likes Wullie, but who Wullie often does not want to be in the gang). Wullie is the self-proclaimed leader, a position which is frequently disputed by the others. The gang meets in a caravan called Holly Rude. He used to have another friend called Ezzy, who has stopped appearing in the strips, along with Wullie's little brother. He owns a pet mouse named Jeemy and a pet dog called Harry. In the Ken Harrison strips he gained additional supporting characters, such as the pretty Doris Gow (who Wullie likes much to Primrose's rage), her boyfriend, the town bully Basher McKenzie, and grumpy old neighbour Moaning Mildew (modelled on Victor Meldrew from One Foot in the Grave.)

Wullie's age has not been consistent, in the early Watkins scripts he looked about 5 or 6, in later Watkins scripts he looked about 10 or 11, more recently he has become slightly younger. His catchphrases are of "Jings", "Crivvens", "Braw" and "Help ma Boab".

William Ross, Baron Ross of Marnock, Secretary of State for Scotland 1964-70 and 1974–76, was occasionally depicted in political cartoons seated on a bucket as Oor Wullie.

In March 2006, BBC Scotland documentary Happy Birthday Oor Wullie celebrated his 70th birthday with celebrity guests including Karen Dunbar, Sanjeev Kohli, Kaye Adams, Iain Robertson, Tony Roper, Tam Cowan, Stuart Cosgrove and Dominik Diamond, and was narrated by Lord of the Rings star Billy Boyd.

When The Topper launched in 1953, Oor Wullie appeared in the masthead, although not as a story in the comic. He often appeared sitting on his bucket, though other poses were used as well. The pose on Topper no. 1 had him wearing a top hat. He had the top hat in one hand and the other hand pointing at the Topper logo. Early annuals were undated, so this information is to help identify them. Later annuals had the copyright date inside them.

Annuals[edit]

Starting in 1940 the Our Wullie strips also appear in the form of a Christmas annual which alternates every second year with The Broons, another D. C. Thomson product. (No annuals were published between 1943 and 1946.) Pre-1966 annuals were undated.

A facsimile of the first The Broons annual was released on 25 November 2006 and of the first Oor Wullie annual the following year.

Since 1996 - the 60th anniversary of the strip - D.C. Thomson has also published a series of compilation albums featuring The Broons and Oor Wullie on alternate pages.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gilchrist, Jim. "Help ma boab... Oor Wullie's 70 - Scotsman.com Living". Living.scotsman.com. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  2. ^ "Gavin Brightwell's history of Dudley Watkins' work". Thatsbraw.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 

External links[edit]