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Comic Strip / Angus Og

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Well, there goes the Fourth Wall.

Angus Og is a Scottish Newspaper Comic which ran from 1959-1989 in the Daily Record and written by former Western Islander, Ewen Bain.

It chronicled the life of Angus Og, a young man who yearned for escape from the hard life of a crofter in Scotland's Western Isles and undertook many wacky schemes in order to achieve that.

Angus was aided and abetted by his friend Lachie and pursued ardently by his sometime fiancée Big Mairileen. His life was complicated by the ludicrous nature of some of his schemes and the less ambitious citizens of the fictional island of Drambeg on which he lived. The strip also had a somewhat political nature, as it both poked fun at the sometimes absurd nature of British politics and also the difficulties of everyday life at the very edge of the British Isles far away from the decision makers in London.

The strip was not always limited to the mundane and it often took on a fantastical nature as it also featured (amongst other things) talking cats, the island's "Spey Wifey" (witch) handing out curses, and even Old Nick (the Devil), himself. Written mostly in the dialect of the Western Isles it forms a fascinating insight into a turbulent period in Scottish history. In the late 1990s some of the strips were published in compilation books called "The Og Logs"

This Work Contains Examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Angus was pursued, on and off, by Big Mairileen who was an Apron Matron in training. Although given Angus's own nature it can be said that it was probably Mairileen who had the lucky escape whenever Angus ran away.
  • Afterlife Express: At one point Angus, Tonald, and Mairileen hitch a ride on what appears to be a Clyde Puffer called The Flying Teuchter which turns out to be crewed by demons from hell, and owned by Old Nick himself.
  • Apron Matron: Drambeg appears to have a monopoly on Apron Matrons with every husband henpecked, and in Angus's case he is caught between his fearsome sometime-fiancée Big Mairileen and his Mother who runs the croft with an iron fist.
  • Arab Oil Sheikh: An Oil Sheik once tried to buy the entire island of Drambeg and have it shipped to the Arabian Gulf piece by piece. Despite his vast wealth he still had problems affording ferry ticket prices in the Outer Hebrides though.
  • Arcadia: An Enforced Trope for the crofting communities in Scotland's Western Isles during the time period of the strip's run. Few people would have a job that did not involve living off the land (beautiful though that land was).
  • Asian Store-Owner: The 1983 New Year's strip featured the croft being "first-footed" by the local mobile store owner, Mister McKarachi from "Punjabi Stores", much to the delight of Mrs Og who declared that it meant a very good year to come. This referred to the Scottish custom of the first person to cross the threshold of a house in the new year supposed to be a person with dark hair and a dark complexion as a sign of good luck.
  • Big Bad:
    • Eventually Old Nick, the Devil Himself, would take an interest in Angus, mostly with Old Nick coming out the loser (but see Downer Ending).
    • A Much more real Big Bad turned up towards the end of the run in the form of Margaret Thatcher who would cut a swathe of destruction, as in reality, through a massive chunk of Scotland's infrastructure and threaten Drambeg's very existence.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Or rather listening, when Granny McBrochan loses a magic Ear Trumpet, it is (eventually) found by the local Job Centre who immediately begin using it to spy on the populace of Drambeg.
  • Breach of Promise of Marriage: Angus, after one of his schemes regarding his long running engagement to Big Mairileen falls apart, has an Imagine Spot where foresees that Mairileen would be more than willing to skip the legal part of such repercussions and resolve the matter herself, and decides to run away to sea to miss the day of the wedding by being "accidentally" stranded on Lachie's fishing boat:
    Policeman: [standing over a Bandage Mummy'd Angus in a Hospital Bed] "He broke the engagement, she broke everything else".
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Angus. If he put half as much energy into honest work as he did dodging it with his Get Rich Quick Schemes he'd have been a millionaire.
  • The Cameo: Virtually every UK personality and politician had a cameo in the strip over the years, and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was adopted as a Big Bad during the final decade.
  • Characterisation Marches On: Tonald was originally just as eager, although not quite as sharp-witted as, Angus to get away from the hard crofting life, however he soon became a lovable dullard who was happy to be around the animals and scenery.
  • Cliffhanger: The strip ran Monday-to-Friday for most of its run, so Ewen tried to end each Friday strip on a cliffhanger to keep his readers waiting nervously for the Monday edition.
  • Comic-Book Time: While there was a slow march of time, Angus was first introduced as a teenager, but advanced into his mid twenties, the strip mostly employed a floating present.
  • Cut Short: The unresolved Cliffhanger of the final strip, sadly due to Ewen Bain's passing.
  • Dartboard of Hate: One strip had a miner's club rejecting the idea of using a photo of Margaret Thatcher as a dartboard:
    "It widnae be right lads, she'd blunt the darts!"
  • Dating Service Disaster: Mairileen's brief flirtation with computer dating ended up with the computer exploding when they put her details into it.
  • Disappeared Dad: Angus and Tonald both live with their mother in their croft. No mention is ever made of their father and he has no presence in their lives.
  • Downer Ending: The strip ended with the Devil about to spring a trap on Angus which would finally get him Angus's soul once and for all. While there is no doubt that if it had continued the wily Angus would have outwitted his old adversary yet again, Ewen Bain's sudden death left it with Old Nick having the last laugh on Angus.
  • Ear Trumpet: Granny McBrochan has an enchanted one. Whether she uses it to spy on the islanders, or she is just that deaf, is left ambiguous.
  • Eccentric Townsfolk: The hardy citizens of Drambeg all had various tics which endeared and frustrated all all incomers (and readers) and also made them prime marks for Angus' schemes.
  • Exact Words: One strip has Angus' mother cutting peat and saying that if they are to get their peat stack built up for the winter then Angus will need to put his back into it. We cut to a panel of Angus lounging against the side of the stack saying "Don't worry, that's exactly where I've got it".
  • Fantastic Drug: One of Angus's schemes was his discovery of, and subsequent attempt to sell, hallucinogenic "pot"-tatoes.
  • Fat and Skinny: Angus is the thin, wily, one and is accompanied on most of schemes by his chunkier friend Lachie who provides the Dumb Muscle and occasional fall guy.
  • Fiction 500: At one point the island of Drambeg is purchased by an Arab Oil Sheik who is so rich he plans to have the entire island broken up and shipped piece by piece to the Persian Gulf and reassembled there. He doesn't object to taking the people too though.
  • Funetik Aksent: The characters all speak in the distinctive dialect of the Western Isles, hence "Tonald" instead of Donald.
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: Many over the course of the years. From bottling "thrift" water which turned people into penny pincher's to bottling peat smoke for nostalgic expats, Angus tried them all.
  • Good Shepherd: The local church minister Rev. McSonachan is mostly a saintly vicar concerned for the souls of his flock in general and Angus in particular, but could sometimes detour in Badass Preacher or even Sinister Minister if the storyline called for it. He was very quick to form the first Islamic Presbyterian Church of Drambeg during the story where Drambeg was purchased by an Arab Prince as it guaranteed 100% attendance.
  • Identical Stranger: In the "Quiet Flows The Oovi" storyline an identical stranger for Angus's brother Tonald turns up on a Russian spy ship leading to a Prince and Pauper plot.
  • Japanese Ranguage: Or Chinese in this case. During the "Peat Reek" story Angus has a customer in Hong Kong who is substituting Hebridean peat for opium and confusing his Ls and Rs while doing so (although it is worded ambiguously so that it might just be a Hebridean expat fiddling the tourists in Hong Kong with some fake Chinese).
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Angus. He rarely set out to cause deliberate harm, and would show repentance when it was pointed out, but he was also quick to take advantage of anyone who he thought could help him get rich quick in his schemes.
  • Magical Realism: Mostly this was a strip about the wacky hi-jinks of a crofting community in Scotland's Outer Hebrides, but from time to time the Devil would turn up, flower vase water would change personalities, and the local witch would cast very real magic spells.
  • Magitek: By 1982's "The Kelpie", Granny McBrochan had updated her crystal ball so it was linked to a very early looking computer for better scrying power. Apparently Spey Wifies were expected to keep up with technology.
  • Milholland Relationship Moment: Angus terrifiedly admits to Granny McBrochan that he stole her cat, expecting terrible wrath, only for her to say that she hated the damn thing anyway because it ate her parrot.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The Kelpie that Lachie caught while poaching was a horse at the front and a scaly fish tail where the rear legs should have been.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The exact location of Drambeg is never explicitly stated, other than being in the Outer Hebrides, but a throwaway line in the storyline where an Arab Sheik buys Drambeg, that Mecca is in the exact same direction as Scottish Mainland town of Plockton, gives us only one real candidate. The only isle in that exact orientation is the (now deserted) Island of Pabbay in the Sound of Harris, of which Drambeg is an excellent fictional stand in.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Big Mairileen's problem in a nutshell. She is a very big woman, with phenomenal strength and often seen out running. She also has a very forceful personality, which terrifies all the local menfolk and Angus in particular even if he is somewhat attracted to her.
  • No Such Agency: Parodied in one strip where the Laird mentions he has a friend who "does something very hush-hush for the British government", only for his wife to say, in a surprised voice, that she thought he worked for MI6.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: The Russian impersonating Tonald is rumbled when he is seen drinking vodka in the pub. Tonald does not drink (according to his family anyway).
  • Pals with Jesus: During the story arc where Drambeg is being sold to the Sheikh and due to be shipped piece by piece to the Arabian Gulf, Rev. McSonachan says he will get legal advice to see what he can do to stop it. Lachie wonders what good that will do, and Angus says that that Reverend has some very influential contacts. Gilligan Cut to McSonachan praying and repeating "an Interim what?" implying that God has told him to get an Interim Edict note  to stop the removal.
  • Police Are Useless: The local constable, PC McPhater, is not the sharpest tool in the shed, even by the standards of Drambeg. Easily outwitted by Angus and most likely to take the simplest and easiest explanation available to him.
  • Prince and Pauper: When Tonald is replaced by a Russian spy, the Russian has a very hard time adjusting to Drambeg's crofting life.
  • Quirky Town: The crofting township of Drambeg. From the upper class toff Laird, to the rather literal citizens, and the Presbyterian minister, Drambeg was just full of traps for the unwary visitor.
  • Runaway Groom: When one of Angus's schemes falls through and leaves him with no alternative but to marry Big Mairileen, Angus signs onto a fishing boat so as to be at sea during the ceremony leaving Mairileen standing at the altar in her wedding dress.
  • Sdrawkcab Alias: When Angus took up hypnotism he performed as The Great Gosugna.
  • Status Quo is God: No matter what happened, Angus's schemes would fall though and by the end of the storyline things would be back to normal.
  • Talking Animal: Granny McBrochan's cat in the "Minister's Cat" storyline, but only if it gets drunk.
  • Translation Convention: It is strongly implied in several strips that the cast are mainly speaking Scot's Gaelic amongst themselves and only speaking English whenever it is to outsiders like tourists, or the Laird and his guests.
  • Upper-Class Twit: The character of the Laird, where Bain ventured most obviously into Author Filibuster teritory, a scathing parody of the kind of Upper Class Idiots who claimed Scottish Ancestry but spent most of their time in England and caring little for their Scottish holdings and were completely disconnected from the lives of their tenants. It was during this time that land reform became an issue in Scottish politics, and continues to be so even today.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Angus is not a bad person at heart, but he is lazy, and a schemer, and never slow to take advantage of any way out of the hard crofting life. His treatment of his on-again-off-again fiancée and Abhorrent Admirer Big Mairileen does put him fair and square into Jerkass territory though.
  • Wicked Witch: Granny McBrochan has all the attributes of the classic wicked witch; living in a remote cottage, magical cats, purveyor of curses and potions, and a cauldron. In practice she is a mostly benign feature in the lives of most Drambegians. Her wrath is mostly confined to Angus, and goodness knows but he deserves it at times.