Malky McCormick was a Scottish comics artist, postcard designer and caricaturist. In his home region he is well known for humoristic postcards and neat caricatures of local football stars. As a comics artist he is best known for his celebrity comic, 'The Big Yin' (1973-1977), which he made in collaboration with famous Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. McCormick's cartoons in general were always very referential to Scottish culture and customs, though at the height of his career his work appeared in English newspapers as well.

Early life
Malky McCormick was born in 1943 in Glasgow. Among his graphic influences were Ewen Bain, Wally Fawkes (aka "Trog") and Bud Neill. At age 13 he went to the newspaper Glasgow Mercury and Advertiser, where he offered one of his cartoons. To his delight it was instantly published. McCormick was trained as a commercial artist in a Glasgow studio, but in 1965 he found his first job at D.C. Thomson. Three years long he ghosted several of their popular children's comics, among them Dudley D. Watkins' 'Biffo the Bear' in the Beano and Allan Morley's 'Nero and Zero' in the Wizard. During this period he made a cartoon portraying the Rolling Stones, which was signed by the band members themselves in 1966. In 1968 McCormick became a graphic designer for Scottish television until he found a more satisfying job as freelance cartoonist for the Sunday Mail.

The Big Yin
McCormick was part of a skiffle band - The Vindscreen Vipers (later renamed into the Flying Dugz Brothers) - where he played the banjo. They often performed at pubs and clubs, where he met Billy Connolly. In the early 1970s Connolly already enjoyed local fame, but as a banjo player and member of the group The Humblebums. In 1971 the band broke up and Connolly embarked on a solo career, eventually discovering that audiences liked his stand-up comedy act better than his music. One of his popular routines was 'The Crucifixion', where he compared the Last Supper with a drunk night out at the Glasgow Gallowgate. Many radio stations banned the recording, but it gained enough notoriety that his debut solo album, 'Billy Connolly Live!' (1972), became a bestseller. Connolly named Jesus "the Big Yin" ("yin" is Scottish dialect for "one") in this sketch, which inspired McCormick to create a celebrity comic about Connolly with that particular title. The flattered comedian enjoyed the idea and went aboard as scriptwriter.

In 1973 (some sources claim June 1975) 'The Big Yin' made its debut in the Glasgow Sunday Mail. Connolly was portrayed as a tall figure, nicknamed 'The Big Yin', while McCormick caricatured himself as his tiny sidekick, 'Wee Man'. They acted like a comedic duo in daily gags, most referencing events and celebrities which were topical at the time. Everything was written in Scottish and thus difficult to decipher for people outside the region. Riding on Connolly's own fame and popularity at the time, the comic strip continued for several years. A compilation album sold no less than 40.000 copies!

Unfortunately Connolly's star rose too high. By the mid 1970s he was a national celebrity all over the United Kingdom. It left him with less time to write for the comic strip and thus McCormick had to work more on his own. While he had plenty of ideas, Connolly felt some of the jokes were not in line with his personal convictions. On the cover of 'The Big Yin' comic book McCormick had drawn Connolly with two tattoos on his arms, one reading "Scotland Forever", the other "Doon wi the English" ("Down with the English"). The comedian asked his friend to tone down the anti-English jokes and even paid to have the slogans airbrushed away from the printed cover. Apart from anglophobic jokes, Connolly felt McCormick lampooned the Labour Party too much, a party he supported. Since 'The Big Yin' was no longer in line with Connolly's public image, the series was discontinued in 1977.


Caricatures for the 1986 World Cup Association Football.

Cartoons and other designs
McCormick continued making political and sports cartoons for many Scottish and British papers, including The Sun, the Daily Record, the Daily Express, the Kilmarnock Standard and the New Statesman. Some of his caricatures of Scottish association football players and their managers are still part of the permanent exhibition of the Scottish Football Museum in Hampden, Glasgow. His doodles reached other audiences through a series of humoristic postcards. A design of a centaur saying "No, neigh, never!" became a popular image on T-shirts, posters and car stickers. McCormick furthermore designed the cover of 'The Patter. The Album. Songs, Poems, Wit and Words of Glasgow' (1986) and the anti-Christmas album 'Bah! Humbug' (2002), a collection of Christmas carols which poked fun at the schmalz and commercialism of the holiday event.

TV work
For TV viewers McCormick was a recognizable face thanks to his participation with the game show 'Win, Lose or Draw' (1990-1998), broadcast on STV (some sources claim ITV, but that's the British version). He was the program's guest cartoonist throughout its entire run. Once McCormick drew a Chinese coolly who talked in Chinese handwriting. After the broadcast the producers suddenly noticed that this handwriting actually told the audience to go fuck themselves. McCormick often pranked newspapers with similar hidden jokes, but he was nevertheless strongly warned to never repeat this kind of "joke" again.


Postcard by Malky McCormick.

Other activities
McCormick frequently visited the Irvine Folk Club. He was such a beloved face there that the club organized a fundraising event when he broke his arm and couldn't draw or perform for several months. From all over the country artists came to this 'Puir Sowel Show' to keep him financially safe. In 1998 he was co-organizer of the National Cartoon Festival in Ayr, which is still an annual event. He also taught a weekly art class at Kilmarnock's dementia resource centre.

Personal tragedies
Sadly, McCormick's final years were met with personal tragedies. In 2003 his 20-year old son Sean was beaten up outside a nightclub in Kilmarnock, which left him permanentely brain damaged. The attacker was sentenced to three years and nine months jail time. In February 2007 McCormick spent some time in jail himself, because he had beaten his wife after an argument. After a few months of anger management counseling at his own initiative, he was bailed for good behaviour. His wife had also forgiven him. In March 2017 McCormick was diagnosed with vascular dementia. The same year, in August, his wife passed away from cancer. By that point his mental state had already deteriorated that he wasn't even aware of her passing. In April 2019 Malky McCormick passed away from his illness.

Series and books by Malky McCormick in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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