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Modern Times: 1950s to The Present Day


Bud Neill

By Irene Maver

Lobey Dosser Bud Neill (1911-1970), was one of Britain's most innovative newspaper cartoonists. Between the 1940s and 1960s his work appeared in a range of Glasgow-based dailies and since his death it has been elevated to cult status, attracting a corps of admirers worldwide. Born William Neill in Partick, Bud's family moved almost immediately afterwards to the Ayrshire seaside resort of Troon. The cinema, especially the exploits of the silent-screen cowboy star, William S Hart (1865-1946), was a formative influence on his youthful imagination. Bud claimed that art was his only talent at Troon Higher Grade School and he eventually returned to Glasgow to pursue a course in commercial art at the city's Art School.

During the late 1930s Bud spent a year in Canada where he absorbed much from the sophisticated and energetic style of North American newspaper cartoonists. After his return to Scotland he served briefly as a wartime gunner and, after being invalided out, took up a temporary career as a bus driver. His practical experience of working in public transport was reflected in numerous pocket cartoons which wryly celebrated the city's "caurs" (tramcars) and their "clippies" (sharp-tongued female conductors). Glasgow life was the theme of Bud's first series of cartoons for the Evening Times from January 1944. His idiosyncratic humour captured contemporary attitudes to issues like food rationing, ("things is offal", according to one cartoon butcher), while the GI bride with her "wean" (child) became a long-running Neill heroine.

Bud's most famous characters first appeared in a strip cartoon in 1949. Lobey Dosser was the pint-sized, elaborately whiskered Sheriff of Calton Creek, who maintained the community's law and order with Elfie (El Fidelo), his resourceful two-legged horse. The Sheriff's great adversary was the darkly sinister resident villain, Rank Bajin. The Lobey genre blended the adventurous style of the Hart movies with traditional Glasgow stage humour, especially pantomime. Calton Creek was located somewhere in Arizona, but its inhabitants spoke with Glasgow accents and their names were often comprehensible only to Glaswegians. For instance, Lobey Dosser was derived from "lobby dosser", meaning a vagrant who slept in tenement closes.

The legend of Lobey proved to be Bud's enduring legacy to Glasgow and is today very much a part of the city's landscape. The Sheriff, in company with Elfie and Bajin, is depicted in a bronze statue located in Woodlands Road. Erected in 1992 as a tribute to Bud, the sculptors were Tony Morrow and Nick Gillon. The statue, which was funded by public subscription, has the unique distinction of being the world's only two-legged equestrian monument.

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