Birlinn Creative Director, James Hutcheson, on Stref’s Peter Pan Graphic Novel


The comic strip ‘Little Nemo in Slumberland’ ran in the New York Herald from 1905 until 1911. Today, it is fondly regarded as one of the most successful comic tales ever (it’s still being published). Its creator Winsor McCay (c. 1871–1934), was a pioneering animator who pushed the boundaries of that new art form in the early part of the last century. In fact, Walt Disney sited him as an important influence on his own animation work. It is not too far-fetched to conjecture that Dudley D. Watkins (the 1930s originator of Oor Wullie , Desperate Dan , and many other DC Thomson comic characters) might also have been aware of McCay’s work. Consequently, it came as no surprise to me when I met Stephen White, one of Wullie ’s current illustrators, and that during our conversation, he extolled the virtues of McCay and the influence he had had on his own work. This was particularly evident in a personal project Stephen was working on: his interpretation of Peter Pan . In this new version of Pan, you can see the influence of both McCay and Watkins, but this is very much Stephen’s work and his particular perception. It is heartening to meet someone who not only has a grasp of the history and traditions of the comic strip form, but who also has the ability to exercise his own vision. This new edition of Peter Pan not only encapsulates the original text as J. M. Barrie wrote it, but also uses a form which portrays the story the way the author might have wished it to be seen.

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