Thursday, 12 March 2009

"Oor Wullie"

Immediately when I think of successful narrative drawing “Oor Wullie” springs to mind. As a child I used to love reading "Oor Wullie" books and would find myself in fits of laughter or at times feeling sad or sorry for poor Wullie who had accidently ended up in trouble again. For this blog I started to look up the comic strips and I found that even now I enjoy Wullie's adventures every bit as much as I use to. I absolutely love R.D. Watkins illustrations, which are simple yet so compelling and entertaining. Each comic strip seems to capture the essence of the story perfectly allowing the reader to engage with Wullie’s character. Written in broad Scot’s dialect, the illustrations help make the words universal, without taking away from them. The relationship between the words and pictures are so close- I always feel as I read the story that I actually know this little boy who is at heart a little gem but with a naughty streak and inquisitive nature. The popularity of the comic strip in Scotland (Estimated readership of Sunday Post in 1971 just after Watkins death was 3million, 79% of population) reinforces how successful the illustrations and stories are at engaging with all sorts of people of all different ages. No colour appears in the strips and this in no way hinders the drawings but in fact adds to their simplicity and success. Each block is cleverly drawn to give you just enough information to make sense of the story, yet still giving enough way for people to relate to Wullie’s working class lifestyle. I find it quite magical how alive the characters look considering they are simple black and white flat images. There is no denying the look on Wullie’s face when he is sad, happy, fed up etc – something which shows how talented Watkins was as an illustrator. The careful marriage of words and pictures allow a clever balance of information which the brain can comfortably process while also evoking a real mixture of human emotion.

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