NOMINATED FOR ARTS AND CULTURE AWARD (SCOTTISH GAELIC AWARDS 2014)
NOMINATED FOR BEST BRITISH COMIC (TRUE BELIEVERS AWARDS)
NOMINATED FOR BEST COVER (SICBA)
"A new emblem, a new
cultural icon for the Scottish in comics."
Interviews with the creator, John Ferguson -
Outlander Homepage interviews John on all things scottish.
Nerd Nation interview
Video Interview with John on OneOfUs.nethttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPBAaf4vo-4&feature=youtu.be
John Ferguson creator of the Saltire series answers a few frequently asked questions about his work.
Question One - Is this just an idea at the moment?
Answer - No, the first full colour graphic novel "Saltire - Invasion" is finished with an upcoming release through Diamondsteel Comics. Oh, and it's awesome!
Question Two - Is this tartan cringe?
Answer - No way. This is dramatic and dynamic story telling with Scotland and superheroes at its core. And like I say, it's awesome.
Question Three - Does Saltire have superpowers?
Answer - He is a being that exists for a purpose. That purpose requires immense power. In a word, yes.
Question Four - How would you describe the Saltire story?
Answer - Saltire brings Scottish myth and legend into a gritty reality, a darker edged superhero within epic story lines.
Question Five - Where are the Saltire stories set?
Answer - They are set in Scotland, using many of the landmarks within the country's iconic geography. Artists, Gary Welsh and Tone Julskjaer have captured the beauty and isolation of the landscape with stunning results.
Question Six - When are the Saltire stories set?
Answer - Saltire is infinite. He could appear in the modern day, ancient history, the recent past, or even in the future.
Question Seven - Is Saltire really Scotland's first superhero?
Answer - Well, it's a bit of a talking point really. There are a few comedic Scottish characters from a variety of genres but in terms of an actual lead character within a traditional action comic we believe Saltire is the first. Captain Britain was educated in Edinburgh but was English. The Fantastic Four had a guest character called Caledonia but she actually came from another planet and was based in the USA. Marvel's Gargoyles were of Scottish descent but again were based in the USA. Loads of comic books written by Scottish authors, but not Scottish stories or characters. Batman did have a single comic set in Scotland - tartan, bagpipes, kilts, haggis, the lot (did someone say tartan cringe?). So we are sticking with our assertion, Saltire is Scotland's first comic book superhero.
Interview on Brain Splatter
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Brain Splatter Exclusive: Interview with Saltire Creator John Ferguson
The other day I was afforded the opportunity to review Saltire, the story of Scotland's first original superhero, over at Superhero Movie News. I really enjoyed the books so I reached out to John Ferguson via Clare Ferguson and was fortunate enough to get a chance to ask a few questions about the character, the book and the process of developing an independent comic in a market dominated by big names. Both John and Clare were very generous and accommodating and I'm very grateful for their time and the opportunity to ask some questions about a very cool project!
Comic Book Brain Splatter: You've conceptualized and written an independent comic book. Could you tell the readers about the process of it...sort of the story behind the scenes from the inception of your idea to the finished product? I think it's probably quite a bit more difficult than people imagine.
John Ferguson: The idea came from an article i read some years ago that suggested Scotland was an impossible place for a superhero to frequent due to it’s lack of coolness. This inspired me to prove this attitude wrong. Superheroes are all based in modern mythology so where better to form a new character than a country famous for its myths and legends that also happens to be the oldest country in the western world. There’s a lot of scope there.
Working on the scripts, creating the characters and their world is the fun part. I took quite a while reviewing the concept from every angle and edited over and over until it had a realism to it.
Then comes the difficult part. Finding an artist or team of artists that can complete a project is quite an undertaking. Luckily, after a couple of false starts, the idea of a competition with a cash prize and the paying job of creating the first Saltire book, brought an excellent creative team to the project.
Being patient with the process is the main thing, it takes a while.
CBBS: One thing that stuck out to me while reviewing Saltire was how entirely symbolic the hero was to the nation of Scotland. The name, the colors, etc. Could you talk a bit about the genesis of the character's look and give your take on the symbolism of the character?
JF: Scottish people are often jovially referred to as being blue because of the paleness of our skin. We’re also quite hairy and ginger with a fairly fiery temperament, so the building blocks were essentially your average Scotsman. His cross scar tissue and markings are quite iconic and come from his connection to the Stone of Destiny, Scotland’s national stone. The markings actually say “Saltire” in an ancient Caledonian script. In the upcoming books we discover the flag of Scotland is named after and based on Saltire, not the other way around.
CBBS: I read a quote from you in which you touched on Saltire's immortality and how that would enable you to set the character in anytime in history (past, present and future). I think that's a wonderful idea and obviously frees you up to tell any number of stories. Without giving too much away, what plans do you have for the settings in future books?
JF: Yes, this is the exciting part. Scotland’s historical records were destroyed twice (13th and 17th century) which opens up the past to a lot of “what ifs?” How did Scotland defeat the Romans, Saxons, Vikings, English who all attempted to invade? And the future, with even more scope than the past, with populations exploding and scarcity of essential commodities makes places with a lot of fresh water, food and energy reserves (see Scotland) quite desirable to unscrupulous villains.
CBBS: Speaking of the past, I love how you included the infamous Ninth Legion and retold the construction of Hadrian's Wall. Could you explain your thoughts on why you chose that time period as the one in which you began your story?
JF: It’s one of the earliest parts of Scotland’s history that is known universally. Typically told from the perspective of the Romans it immediately tells you this is a pseudo history and it’s not your usual, “poor wee Romans being gallantly outnumbered by the pesky savages who are standing in the way of progress” but exists from the Scottish perspective, where people are defending their right to live freely. I think the story of freedom is one that resonates with everyone, wherever you are from and whatever your perspective. It’s also nice to bring in something so visually memorable as Hadrian’s Wall to define Saltire’s line in the sand for future stories.
CBBS: The majority of my audience is in the US. I felt each of the guardians and the immortal protectors were probably much more deeply tied to Scotland than I realized, though I was able to see into some of it. Could you expand a bit on some of the mythology of your nation that you've put into the first two books?
JF: You’re right. Scotland has a distinct highlands in the north and lowlands in the south. Within each lies a stone footprint carved out of the natural rock, in reality they became the coronation point of kings, but they are of much more ancient origin and legend suggests they connect to the Otherworld and the Fae.
The unicorn is the ancient heraldic symbol of Scotland, and the last dragon is said to have been slain in Scotland with it’s connection to the Loch Ness monster dating back to the Dark Ages. The ancient belief system of Scotland was very similar to Taoism so the yin yang, dark and light is very deliberate. The individual guardians are very representative of each region of Scotland, both visually and, as will become apparent in books to come, in personality and beliefs.
CBBS: Have you clearly defined what powers Saltire will have or are you open to developing them as you go?
JF: Saltire’s powers are fairly defined, he’s existed for thousands of years (you know how old people get set in their ways), but he will develop his ideology, particularly in the futuristic stories where he is quite isolated. The big development will be unveiling his weaknesses in the next book. Even Superman has Kryptonite!
CBBS: Will Saltire be decapitating anymore deities?
JF: Deities, demi-gods, supernatural beings and just plain dastardly villains. There’s some fairly iconic bad guys coming up in Saltire’s future.
"Saltire is a vibrant blaze of
mythological fury that far exceeds
expectations of a debuting superhero comic.”
"Saltire delivers again on great imagery and grabbing the root of its source, Scottish legend, and making it an epic experience. There’s something Avengerish about it but also Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones with its deadly battles, dialogue and overall atmosphere"
"Ferguson’s love of his country pours through the pages"
"Incredibly Enjoyable...ambitiously sweeping in scope and application as it skillfully incorporates a whole array of Scottish myth and legend."
"Dynamic and exciting...I am a Saltire fan!"
"Wonderfully dramatic...the depth of its themes raises it above a simple action comic, incorporating notions of honour, self-sacrifice, standing for ideals greater than yourself, and the nobility in laying down your life in the defence of others"
"Compelling, fast, full of action""engaging, dynamic slice of swords and sorcery fiction, and should appeal to readers all around the world."
"perfectly formed publisher."
Fortress of Solitude"straight off of the pages of one of the better New 52 comics"
The fifth Dimension
"veritable whirlwind of exciting myth and legend"
"9 out of 10. What I found was epic fantasy. The Gaelic influenced culture and folklore storytelling was as intense as it was immense."
"reminiscent of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy"
"Awesome...an enjoyable adventure tale with really strong artwork from Julskjaer and Welsh, especially in the action sequences."
"It’s simple. Saltire is one of the best modern mythologies out there."
"A mesh between The Lord of the Rings,Beowolf, and Thor, Diamondsteel Comic’s Saltire has an epic adventure in store for any comic lover!"
"John Ferguson meshes history with fantasy, life and death, mystery and myth into one action packed story. The story of glory is one we’ve read and watched time and time again, yet somehow Ferguson unleashes Saltire as a breath of fresh air! This is the modern epic comic readers have been waiting for."
"A new emblem, a new cultural icon for the Scottish in comics."
"more appealing and epic than the usual"
"A Hero has risen"
"Savory art that fits the setting and a sweeping epic story, and lots of the rough stuff of course."
"Saltire: Invasion is a fantasy epic based in part in reality, and will bring a smile to any Scottish reader. Evoking atmosphere from some of the best fantasy literature out there, Saltire: Invasion is a great, action-packed read and features some gorgeous artwork."
TM Stash: Best comics of 2013Comics Anon
“We were amazed.”
Fortress of Solitude:
“This is a breath of fresh air.”
“Their art easily stands up to releases from the big three….The action scenes are seamless, providing slug by slug shots, but in comparison the more intricate scenes also stick out….We get a balanced tale of wizardy, war, mythology midst the backdrop of the Scottish countryside.”
a mix of Game Of Thrones, Lord of the Rings and maybe 300 with it’s Roman element
Geeked Out Nation:
“Saltire could easily be seen standing next to someone like Superman and Batman and it wouldn’t look strange.”
Following the Nerd:
“Saltire is dubbed “the first Scottish superhero” but he’s much more than that. What the team from Diamondsteel Comics has created is a legend. “
“Writer John Ferguson is a Scotsman with talent…he crafts a well-paced and engaging story.”
Celtic Myth Podcast:
“Saltire is an archetypal Golden Age comic book hero – the sort we see on our movie screens today.”
“He is a Hero for a nation – a symbol to stand by.”
The Comic Book Stop:
“Saltire’s design is awesome. He is blue, he is a ginger, and a superhero you do not want to mess with. Saltire also has blue glowing tattoos on his arms, making the character even more awesome and god like. He looks like a guardian that can give Thor a run for his money...Brilliant and packed with action.”
“I’d recommend Saltire.”
Comic News Insider:
“Pretty awesome…really cool.” (Podcast: 23mins in)
Bagged and Bored.
“The art in these books is great…the battle and fight scenes look awesome. If you like fantasy, you’ll love it.”
Superhero Movie News:
“A breathtaking introduction to an aesthetically striking hero. Truly Inspired.”
Blog the Blummin Doors Off:
“The mixture of Scottish heritage, Game of Thrones style mythology and a refreshing new story really mix well together.”
The Brooklyn Examiner:
“A healthy mix of Lord of the Rings style fantasy and Game of Thrones style politics.”
“There is a sense of wonder in the story, told as if this were an historic legend passed down over the generations. “Saltire” is an excellent graphic novel.”
“I’m really impressed with the first Saltire Invasion book and highly recommend it.”
Big Comic Page:
“Sprawling, truly epic tale.”
Big Glasgow Comic Page (three different reviewers):
“Panel for panel the layout and detail, especially in the battle scenes, is rich, exciting and almost dream-like.”
Big Glasgow Comic Page:
“I thoroughly enjoyed my first taste of John Ferguson’s Scottish superhero. If you’ve not already picked up your copy yet (and if not, why not?), I’d urge you to do so immediately.”
Big Glasgow Comic Page:
“Saltire-Invasion” written by John Ferguson is a brilliant read, it’s one of these wee boy fantasy epics, with good guys, bad guys, swords, fighting and some mythical creatures thrown in for good measure.
You don’t have to be Scottish to enjoy this. If you are a fan of action, adventure and/or fantasy titles like “Slaine”, “Conan” or even the mighty Thunder God “Thor”, you’ll get a kick out of “Saltire-Invasion”.
Comic Book Kid:
“It’s a pretty cool. I got a real Braveheart meets Lord of the Rings, via Game Of Thrones vibe from it all.”
"Much like The Lord of the Rings/Hobbit books, this graphic novel starts with a map. You know the story is going to be epic when it has to include a map."
"It’s simple. Saltire is one of the
best modern mythologies out there."
(By no means a comprehensive list.)
Film and Comic Con Glasgow see launch of new Scottish superhero book!
Comic Con hits Braehead Arena
Click to view video.
Saltire, an crann os cionn gach croinn
Stornoway GazetteWorld’s first Gaelic superhero comic book released
Bleeding Cool Magazine
Scottish Superhero’s Controversy As Referendum Nears
Press and Journal
Scotland’s first super hero is here to save the day. But don’t turn him into a political tool – he’s got bigger fish to fry
World’s first Gaelic superhero comic book released
Big Blue Returns in First Look at ‘Saltire: Annihilation ‘
Saltire Annihilation Part 1 is due out in under two months
Scottish superhero nominated for Best of British
The Scots Magazine July Edition.
Evening Telegraph 25th July
Move Over, Braveheart! Scotland Has A New Hero…
Scotland Now-Scotland's first comic book superhero ready to rival Batman and Spiderman
Evening Telegraph-Dundee celebrates literary festival and comic expo
Ecletic mix as Dundee events celebrate words and images
First Gaelic Superhero
Scotland's first super hero is coming back this year