Malky McCormick was born in Glasgow in 1943, beside the football stadium in Hampden Park. His first cartoon was published when he was thirteen. "I just walked into the local newspaper editor's office and said: here's a cartoon", he later recalled, "and it was published in the [Glasgow] Mercury and Advertiser": "The thrill I got from seeing that cartoon published in the paper was brilliant and it really inspired me."
McCormick originally trained as a commercial artist in a Glasgow studio, but left in 1965 to work as an illustrator for D.C. Thomson in Dundee. "I was there for about three years" he recalled, "and I ghosted 'Nero and Zero' which was in Nosy Parker in the Sunday Post, but it was quite frustrating because I was ghosting other artists styles and also working with different writers." He returned to Glasgow and spent three years working as a graphic artist and designer for Scottish Television, but in 1970 got an offer of work from the Sunday Mail, and quit to become a freelance cartoonist.
McCormick is a banjo player, and in June 1975 he joined with comedian and fellow banjo player Billy Connolly to devise and write the cartoon strip "The Big Yin" for the Glasgow Sunday Mail. McCormick was in fact responsible for Connolly's nickname. "I was trying to think of a name for the strip we were working on together," he later recalled: "At the time, Billy was doing a routine called The Crucifixion, based on the idea that The Last Supper took place in the Glasgow Gallowgate, not Galilee. In the piece, Billy referred to Jesus as The Big Yin and I was listening to that one day and I thought, 'Aye, that's a good name.' So, in the cartoon, Billy became The Big Yin and I became his sidekick, Wee Man."
The strip was topical and very successful, with a compilation album selling 40,000 copies. However, Connolly was by now making a national career, and objected to the anti-English jokes. "I had drawn a picture of Billy for the front cover and put two tattoos on his arm," McCormick recalled in 2002: "One said 'Scotland forever', the other said 'Doon wi the English'...He wanted it changed, but the entire print run was finished and ready to go. So he paid to have the tattoos covered up with blobs of blue paint before the books were released." After Connolly stopped writing "The Big Yin" he disagreed with the line it was taking, partly because he supported the Labour Party whilst McCormick was SNP. In 1977 the strip was brought to an end.
McCormick has contributed to most Scottish and UK national newspapers including The Sun, Daily Record, Daily Express, Sunday Times, Kilmarnock Standard and New Statesman. In 1988 and 1989 he contributed political cartoons to the Sunday Telegraph. McCormick has also worked on several national advertising campaigns. He cites as influences the Glaswegian cartoonists Bud Neill and Ewen Bain, and Wally Fawkes ("Trog"). McCormick sketches his cartoons in pencil, completing them in pen and brush.
- BBC "Blast Scotland" website - "Interview with Malky McCormick": www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/blast/movers/malky_mccormick.shtml
- Lesley Roberts "Scotland's Own Comic Book Hero", Sunday Mail, 23 June 2002, pp.39-41.