EVERY third year pupil in Scotland is to be schooled on Scotland’s slave past thanks to a new graphic novel.

As many as 12,000 copies of Freedom Bound, which draws from research into slavery in the 1700s, are to be distributed around the country within weeks.

The work is an “ambitious collaboration” between independent publisher BHP Comics and Glasgow University, with illustrations from veteran artist Warren Pleece, whose credits include DC Comics and 2000AD.

The result is 144 pages that tell the stories of three people brought to Scotland to serve white masters.

While their realities are captured in part in newspaper adverts and articles of the time, gaps in our knowledge remain, meaning the comic makers had to fictionalised the tales.

These include stories of a woman known only as Ann, who was made to wear a metal collar engraved with her master’s name, of Jamie Montgomery, who died in an Edinburgh jail after seeking freedom, and Joseph Knight, who achieved emancipation after starting a family and a bitter legal battle.

Though the case changed Scots law, Sha Nazir of BHP says too little is known about this chapter of our past.

He told The National: “It’s based on fact, with some dramatisation.

“This is part of our history, and we need to recognise that.”

The graphic novel has been two years in the making and builds on the university’s Runaway Slaves in Britain project, which launched an online database of runaway slave adverts earlier this summer.

It will also be available for purchase in both paperback and hardback versions.

All editions feature additional material at the end of the narrative, including copies of these advertisements and excerpts from research to put the stories into historical context. It is hoped that this will also help teachers incorporate the title in their lessons.

The National:

Meanwhile, Pleece will attend a launch event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on August 23.

Nazir, art director and publisher at the Glasgow comic house, said: “Graphic narrative is able to engage young readers in ways in which traditional prose cannot, offering both visual and text cues to the learner. Freedom Bound will use this to help bring readers into the historic period and engage them in important political and historical study which will massively benefit their learning.

“This has been a very ambitious and long-term collaboration between BHP Comics, the University of Glasgow and writer and artist Warren Pleece, but we know the benefits that this book will bring to many generations of Scottish students will be a fantastic reward.”

The National:

Launching the online archive in June, Professor Simon Newman of Glasgow University, who worked on Freedom Bound, said the loss of slave stories from the national memory had been “accidental”, telling The National: “Because there weren’t huge numbers of these people, because they formed relationships with the white population, they just disappeared.

“I suspect there are a good number of us who have African DNA.”