Another chunk of his weekend was spent down at the local cabbie's stables
where he satiated his other passion, the horse. He would barter some mucking out
and grooming for a ride on one of the nags, and for a little while, steely-eyed Hart
galloped the roads, greens and beaches of Troon on his faithful steed, Pinto Ben,
seeking wrongs to right and heroines to rescue.
Most of us leave childish fantasies behind. Fortunately for us, Bud Neill retained
his, and two decades later he spliced them with the stuff of his publicly acclaimed,
innovative pocket-cartoons (which tapped the rich resources of Glasgow's mores
and vernacular) to create the cultural hybrid, Lobey Dosser. The idea had the
hallmarks of many brilliant concepts: simple and, with hindsight, obvious.
When the little sheriff rode across page three of Glasgow's Evening Times on the
24th of January 1949 his exploits delivered a sharp crack to the city's funny bone
and over the next six years the dozen or so adventures acquired an unprecedented
following across all social boundaries. The Creek's characters permeated the fabric
of city life: in the workplace people were nicknamed Lobey Dosser or Rank Bajin
or Toffy Teeth or Rubber Lugs; Lobey became a cult figure among the student body,
who made him Honorary President of the Glasgow University Lobey Dosser
Association; fathers became redundant as mothers threatened their unruly offspring
with a visit from Rank Bajin; children broke into a street song to the tune of Ghost
Riders in the Sky. This is one version:
My name is Lobey Dosser,
I'm the Sheriff o' Calton Creek.
My steed is El Fideldo
an' it only has two feet.
My enemy is Rank Bajin
an' I'll get him before I die,
an' then I will become a ghost rider in the sky.
This last accolade, more than any, confirmed Lobey Dosser's place in the city's
Lobey and Rank astride Elfie, galloping down Woodlands Road
(Photograph kindly provided by Morris of Ontario, Canada)
During Bud's earlier visits to the Evening Times art department he would amuse
a befriended colleague by tagging journalists on the editorial floor with cutting
monikers. Later he used this innate talent for inventive name giving to great effect
when he dubbed Calton Creek's characters.
This book's players include: Lobey
Dosser, an adaptation of lobby dosser - a term applied to tramps who slept on
tenement close landings; Dunny Dosser, his brother; Rank Bajin, the villain, ('a
creep wi' a black hood an' teeth like a dozen chipped coffee cups'); his wife, Ima
Bajin; Fairy Nuff, the tackitty-booted peri who spoke in rhyme; Rid Skwerr, a former
foreign spy employed by the town council to haunt their graveyard; Vinegar Hill,
a local rabbit farmer, named after a street in Glasgow's East End; Honey Perz, his
niece; Whisk E. Glaur, a rancher and his daughter, Adoda; Watts Koakin, the rustler,
and the Red Indian contingent, Toffy Teeth and Rubber Lugs. Other tales introduced
the characters Stark Stairn, Breedan Mulk, Roona and Nika Boot, Fitz O' Coughin
and Khan Oodle.
The G.I. Bride, forever optimistically thumbing her way back to Partick with her
baby, little Ned, under arm, was probably a homage to Tommy Morgan's popular
stage character, Big Beenie, the G.I. War Bride. Bud was a regular theatregoer in the
Forties and admired the energetic originality of Glasgow's home-grown comedians.
He must have absorbed the audiences' generous reaction to the comics' parodying
and championing of the city's culture and it was no coincidence that the Lobey strips
had more than a little flavour of pantomime (the hammy histrionics of Rank Bajin
and the rhyming Fairy Nuff, for example). The process turned full circle in the early
Fifties when a Lobey skit was included in Little Red Riding Hood at the Citizen's
When some one once remarked that Bud had a rerr lug for the patter, he could
have added that Bud also had a rerr ee for the line. His fluid lines and anchoring
blocks of lamp-black ink sat on the paper with such exquisite balance that his
cartoons appeared, at times, casually rendered. But a great cartoon strip is more than
just superlative draughtsmanship; it is a complimentary partnership of the drawn
line and strong, inventive narrative.
Bud exploited the elastic visual and narrative boundaries of the boxed two-
dimensional cartoon medium to create a tangible, if quirky, three-dimensional
world of well-rounded characters. He was the master and the genie of his lamp-
black world and he would unceremoniously dump or manipulate historic, scientific
and geographic detail in the interests of a good yarn. Moon rockets, 'single-end'
rockets powered by sherbet, plutonium plants, nuclear powered trams, G.P.0
telephones, Sherman tanks, aeroplanes, two-legged horses, pirates, barra-boys and
bun-hatted wee wimmen sporting six-shooters all co-existed seamlessly in and
around the Caltonesque 1880 frontier Shangri-la known as Calton Creek, Arizona.
I regret not knowing Lobey Dosser. 'Knowing' Lobey in the sense of experiencing
him the first time around-fresh from the artist's hand, the creative juices still warm
on the page-and participating in the collective eager anticipation of turning the
page of the evening paper to catch up on the real news of the day at Calton Creek.
The cartoon strip is an ephemeral creature and it is precisely this hit-and-run
quality which sorts the wheat from the chaff. Prosaic and glib cartoon art is
consigned along with yesterday's newspaper, to the bin and oblivion; the few great
strips lodge themselves in the public's psyche. A decade after Lobey's last ride into
the sunset Bud was still receiving a steady drip of global correspondence from the
little sheriff's aficionados offering what amounted to substantial bribes in return for
copies of the scarce books reproduced here. And four decades later the Dosser
admiration society flourishes-a testament to the enduring popularity of Bud Neill's
Indian ink cowboy character.
Extract from 'Lobey's the Wee Boy!' reproduced with the kind permission of Ranald MacColl