Please send me SCA's fortnightly briefing:

< Back to '15th July 2020' briefing

July 14, 2020

Common Good Comics

To some extent we’re all guilty of operating within ‘echo chambers’ where we only encounter those whose views we either understand or agree with, and as a result wrongly assume that everyone else subscribes to these views or at least understands what we stand for. But the reality is that the world is much more complex and diverse than that, and so we need to find better, more imaginative ways of engaging with that world.  An interesting collaboration at Glasgow Caley which looks at the role of comics to develop a better understanding of what lies behind community action.

Magic Torch

Common Good Comics

Glasgow Caledonian University and Magic Torch Comics CIC have secured £76,300 funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, for a two year project which will share stories of social enterprise and community action.

Common Good Comics will work with organisations from across Scotland to record oral histories and explore community archives and then present the material in two comic collections which will be shared in schools, online and at comicons and other national events.

Magic Torch Comics director, Paul Bristow, explains

“I’ve worked in and around social enterprises for most of my life, Magic Torch Comics CIC was developed as a social enterprise – our focus is generally history and literacy. A few years back, we were asked by Professor Michael Roy at GCU to adapt a case study in comic form, and it just seemed a great way of sharing stories about the good work of organisations. We’ve been working on getting this project off the ground since then.”

The project also wants to help groups tell their own story and maintain their own archives more effectively. Dr Gillian Murray from Glasgow Caledonian University Yunus Centre for Social Business is part of the project team, recording and sharing oral histories.

“The opportunity to collaborate with social enterprises and community groups to tell their stories in a way that supports them to take ownership of their history and heritage is really exciting. The current crisis means this is a particularly challenging time for the social enterprise and community sector, we hope that sharing stories of how people came together in the past will be uplifting and empowering for groups and organisations today.”

The project builds on the work already undertaken by GCU Archive team in pulling together a Social Enterprise Collection as GCU Archivist Carole McCallum explains.

“Archives are peoples’ stories and the social enterprise and labour history strands of this project will be inspired by the material we already hold in GCU Archive Centre. Giving voice and vision to these stories opens up our heritage to new audiences and allows people to better understand and take pride in their own story. As well as a hands on connection with the material we will be sharing our skills, offering basic training in caring for and digitising records to the communities involved. We are delighted to be part of this cross domain team and look forward to learning from the project as much as giving to it.”

Caroline Clark, Director Scotland of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“The appeal of comics span the generations so what better way of telling the stories of one generation to another. Thanks to funding from the National Lottery, communities will be inspired to record their diverse social histories for others to learn from and enjoy.”

Work on the project has just started, with a number of organisations already signed up to tell their story, but the team is looking for more groups and organisations from across Scotland to get involved.

“We are ideally looking to work with groups who have a bit of history behind them, who have been around for a while, maybe forming to deal with unemployment during the 1980s or who took part in a specific piece of community action – there are lots of stories out there and we are ready to listen.”

The Common Good Comics Project can be contacted via

Magic Torch Comics CIC work with schools, community groups and organisations to tell stories using comics. The group were named as one of Big Issue’s Top 100 Change Makers for 2020 for their schools literacy work.

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) is a vibrant, innovative and multi-award winning University for the Common Good. We aim to contribute to society in a manner that embraces yet goes beyond the traditional role of a university. GCU’s For the Common Good commitment is brought to life and delivered by students and staff across academic schools and departments.



Paul Bristow / 07757112332 / / @pjbristow

Magic Torch Comics

Glasgow Caledonian University Archive Collection