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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, and subsequently they were written by Dave Donaldson, managing director of Thomson's comics division. The current writer is former Dandy editor Morris Heggie.
Characters and story
Though it has been claimed on the internet that Wullie's full name is William MacCallum, this name - or any surname at all - has never appeared in any of the strips in The Sunday Post. While his home town was unnamed in the original Watkins strips, it has been called Auchenshoogle since the late 1990s.
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 rare and 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 himself, Fat Bob, Wee Eck (Eng: Little Alex), Soapy Joe (AKA Soutar //) and Primrose Paterson (an annoying girl who likes Wullie, but who Wullie often does not want to be in the gang, yet manages to be much better than him in various games and activities such as football, racing, climbing trees and firing a catapult). Wullie is the self-proclaimed leader, a position which is frequently disputed by the others. In early strips the gang met in a wooden shed - usually located in the garden at Wullie's house. In later strips the gang meets in a derelict caravan called Holly Rude. He used to have another friend called Ezzy, who has stopped appearing in the strips, along with Wullie's unnamed little brother. He owns a pet mouse named Jeemy and in later strips 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 the strip's 70th and TV show's 28th 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 The 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.
Starting in 1940 the Our Wullie strips also appeared in the form of a Christmas annual which alternated every second year with The Broons, another D. C. Thomson product. (No annuals were published between 1943 and 1946.) Pre-1966 annuals were undated. Starting in 2015, both titles are now published annually.
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.
Oor Wullie's Bucket Trail 2016
In 2016 Oor Wullie was made part of a major public art project when 55 decorated 5ft sculptures of him were placed around Dundee and its environs with ten touring round Scotland. The project, celebrating his 80th anniversary is scheduled to run from 27th June for two months, with the sculptures being auctioned in September. The proceeds will go to the Archie Foundation’s appeal to raise money for a new pediatric surgical suite at Tayside Children's Hospital. Each statue has its own unique design, for instance one entitled Oor Bowie, was inspired by David Bowie, while a spaceman-themed statue was inspired by Tim Peake.
- Gilchrist, Jim. "Help ma boab... Oor Wullie's 70 - Scotsman.com Living". Living.scotsman.com. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
- "Gavin Brightwell's history of Dudley Watkins' work". Thatsbraw.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
- "About the Bucket Trail". Oor Wullie's Bucket Trail. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
- "OOR WULLIE BUCKET TRAIL: THE HUNT IS ON TO FIND ALL STATUES". Evening Telegraph. D C Thomson & Co, Ltd. 27 June 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2016.