The Origins of 'Lochglen'

We have to go all the way back to the 1980s, when Chaz first started writing the prose novel entitled 'Burnt Confessions' which would eventually become the 'Sword of Lochglen' graphic novel. The year was 1987 and the writer had been lapping up classic British television drama of the time - such as Porterhouse Blue, The Singing Detective and David Lodge's Small World (an excellent serialisation which is long overdue an official release on DVD, by the way).

Back then, the quirky story of a struggling writer of historical adventure stories was contemporary, but the core storyline has remained unchanged over more than 20 years, while the main characters of MacFaddyen, Jean MacKenzie, her monstrous husband Gregor and the villainous college Dean have also survived unchanged to the present day. Much later, as the story developed, its timeframe was moved back to 1933 (primarily for a rather obscure, but very significant, detail - involving the nature of British divorce law!). The 'Burnt Confessions' novel was never completed but a couple of hundred pages of fragments, complete chapters and dialogue scenes still exist. In early 2005 Chaz made the decision to turn the story into a full-length comic, having recently completed his first graphic novel 'The Black Flag'.

The story was moved from England to a parochial Scottish University town loosely inspired by St. Andrews', and street scenes and architecture were directly referenced from Chaz's home town (including a nice detailed illustration featuring the building in which he was once married - and inside which the hero, MacFaddyen, ends up having something of a dangerous liaison). The title then became 'The Sword of Lochglen', named after the book-within-a-book which is written by MacFaddyen and named after his alter-ego, the 17th Century Scottish rebel hero Lochglen of Lochglen.

After producing a couple of dozen pages, Chaz realised he needed a collaborator - and Frang was brought on board to draw Lochglen's historical adventures in a gritty cross-hatch style and therefore provide a contrast to Chaz's cleanly-drawn lineart in the real-world scenes (in a not-quite 'Wizard of Oz' style). Having seen how well this style suited the 'book within a book' sections, Chaz suggested that Frang ought to try alluding to the style of the great satirical cartoonist Thomas Rowlandson, and this can be seen best in his portrayal of the villainous Lord Chancellor in this sample page from Issue 3. The robust and bawdy nature of Rowlandson's work was an influence on how Chaz saw the historical sections of 'Lochglen' developing, and this will continue into future issues.

Trivia note: Chaz once submitted a chapter from what was then still the 'Burnt Confessions' novel as a high school creative writing piece, receiving a B+ for that effort.

Notes on the cast: just as the writer, MacFaddyen, bases his fictional heroes and villains upon the real people around him (including himself), Chaz cast several real-world stars in roles within 'Lochglen': Peter Cushing, Charles Gray, Greta Garbo and David Thewlis all inspired the likenesses of some of the major protagonists.