The characters are from a cartoon strip written and drawn by Scottish cartoonist Bud Neill, which took Glasgow humour and transported it to the Wild West of Arizona, in a town called Calton Creek, inspired by the Calton area of Glasgow. Lobey and his motley crew had a seven year run in the Evening Times, starting in 1949, with the series then continued in the Sunday Mail. After Neill’s passing in 1970, the series developed somewhat of a cult following, and many are now collected in book form. They have also featured in numerous exhibitions since then; one in 1979 called The Scottish Cartoonists, and another devoted specifically to Neill in 1990, as part of Glasgow’s European City of Culture year.
The statue stands opposite the pub where it was initially conceived. In 1989, with the European City of Culture status looming closer, Ranald MacColl, Bud Neill’s biographer, and his friend Calum MacKenzie discussed the idea of a statue to commemorate the cartoonist. Public funds were raised after an appeal in the Glasgow Herald, and two art students, Tony Morrow and Nick Gillon, sculpted the statue for free based on a drawing sketched by MacColl.
Another character from the series, G.I. Bride, has her own statue, this time sculptured by MacColl himself, and erected in the newly renovated Partick train station in 2011. The location is apt as during the comic strip, G.I. Bride was always trying to get back to Scotland, specifically, as she pronounced it, “Pertick.”