Austin Blazes Trail with Steel Inferno

Austin Blazes Trail with Steel Inferno

Hailey Austin, BA’16, a 24-year-old PhD student at the University of Dundee in Scotland, inked her name in international comic book history as the first American to write in the United Kingdom’s legendary Commando comic, with her story Steel Inferno.

Austin moved to Scotland with no experience writing comics, but earned a master’s degree in comics and graphic novels at the University of Dundee. Steel Inferno tells a fictionalized version of a true World War II story of bravery and sacrifice.

Inspired by the daring efforts of a train crew that saved a Cambridgeshire town from an ammunition train that caught fire, Austin was determined to share the story in the popular war comic.

“I came across the rail disaster and was struck by the incredible bravery of those who sacrificed themselves to prevent an even greater tragedy,” Austin says. “With 44 carriages packed full of ammunition, the damage and loss of life would have been colossal if they had not got the wagon on fire as far away as they could.

“No one really knows how the fire broke out, but for my story I thought ‘what if it wasn’t accidental?’ and had a Nazi spy sabotaging an ammunition delivery only to be foiled by these men.

“Luckily the editorial team at Commando loved it, and I’m very excited to see it published. I didn’t have any experience of writing comics before I came to Dundee, but I have learned so much in my time here. I love doing it and want to do a lot more of it in the future.”

Austin graduated from Creighton with a bachelor’s degree in 2016, double-majoring in English and Spanish with a minor in history. Her PhD research in comics attracted media attention last year after she discovered rare comics dating back to the 1800s in the University of Dundee’s archives.