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Novel concept: Robert Louis Stevenson beer poem gets comic book makeover

A beer-themed poem written by Robert Louise Stevenson has been given a 21st century makeover in time for the 2014 Glasgow Comic Con.

Created in collaboration by event organiser Black Hearted Press - Scotland's leading independent comic book publisher - and event sponsor Williams Bros. Brewing Co., The Heather Ale is the first time a Stevenson poem has been transformed into a comic book.

Written in 1890, The Heather Ale is the ballad of a mysterious beer that was brewed by the Picts; an ancient tribe that inhabited Scotland during the Iron Age.

But when the King of Scots invades, he becomes fixated on capturing the much sought after ale and will stop at nothing in the process. Then, following a brutal massacre and an unexpected betrayal, the recipe for the fabled heather ale is lost forever.

It's not the first time that The Heather Ale has sparked creativity.

First brewed 25 years ago, Williams Bros. real life heather ale - Fraoch - is an attempt to recreate the long lost recipe from the poem. Fraoch is considered to be Scotland's oldest and original craft beer.

Mark Boyle, operations director at Black Hearted Press, said: "To celebrate the biggest Glasgow Comic Con yet we wanted to do something completely different - like reimagining the work of a famous Scottish writer for today's comic book generation.

"While planning the event we shared the concept with Scott Williams who retold Stevenson's ballad of the mysterious Heather Ale. Despite being written over 120 years ago, Stevenson's poem has the perfect blend of action and intrigue. We were surprised that the poem hadn't been transformed into a comic before.

"Glasgow Comic Con is now the place where craft beer meets craft comics, with visitors able to order a schooner of Fraoch while reading the story that inspired it."

Working with BAFTA nominated screenwriter Jack Lothian and illustrator Alan Brown, Black Hearted Press will print 500 limited edition copies of 'The Heather Ale', available to buy at the 2014 Glasgow Comic Con.

Scott Williams spoke more about the collaboration:"Williams Bros. has long been inspired by storytelling and legends when it comes to creating new beers. Now in its 25th year, it's rewarding to see Fraoch and the poem go on to inspire a new generation and be interpreted for a completely different audience at the Glasgow Comic Con.

"The story and the beer may be decades old but the idea of pairing a beer with a comic is definitely novel."

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