AN award-winning author and storyteller from Inverclyde has revealed how he first cut his teeth as a stand-up comic and landed roles alongside stars in BBC youth television.

At just 14-years-old, Paul Bristow was on the comedy circuit in pubs and clubs, holding the attention of audiences with his tales of teenage woes.

As a Greenock schoolboy he ended up involved on screen in productions for the BBC youth programmes, going to London to film TV shows with the likes of Richard Curtis and Janet Street Porter.

About four years later he decided to go down a different path, in publishing and community work in Inverclyde.

Paul developed the idea of a heritage project, Magic Torch, with his friends in order to bring local stories and memories alive.

Over time his passions combined into his 'dream job' as a graphic book writer, setting up his own groundbreaking social enterprise company using comic books to entertain, educate and make a difference.

Paul now has an impressive back catalogue of graphic novels tackling many issues, having worked in collaboration with artists and groups of children and youths in local libraries and schools.

Paul, 49, who lives in Port Glasgow, said: "I started trying out comedy locally and was inspired by local legend Parrot, who used to put nights on. I didn't really tell jokes, it was more stories of being a teenager.

"I am not sure my mum and dad were too impressed that at 14 I was up in Glasgow doing stand-up in pubs! But that gave me the chance to dabble in television. "

Paul's creativity caught the attention of the BBC and he was soon writing scripts and involved in youth programmes.

As a teenager he starred in the children's documentary series called 'The Lowdown', focusing on his own stand up. The programme featured famous film-maker Curtis, the man behind Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually.

Then Paul landed a role on a youth TV show Def II performing and co-writing a show 'Who Needs It?' which was part of youth output on BBC produced by Janet Street Porter.

Former Notre Dame High pupil Paul added: "I was travelling down to London and it was a great experience. Looking back I don't think I appreciated it all. At about 19 or 20 I was fed up, I was doing stuff but knew I wasn't going to make a living out of it."

Paul instead turned to community work, starting off helping adults with learning disabilities by teaching them desktop publishing and printing skills.

He became the first manager of the 7 1/2 John Wood Street community centre in Port Glasgow and while working in the community he teamed up with his brother Neil and friend Ross Ahlfeld to set up Magic Torch.

Paul said: "We came up with the idea of collating stories from local people. Growing up in Greenock we know there are some great stories passed on. But if you want to hear great stories there is no better place to go than Port Glasgow. We set up a table with a sign saying tell us your stories and people just kept coming up all day with brilliant tales. There was a queue of people telling us stories their grannies used to pass on about all sorts of things and from that we created our first book of folk tales."

From there the hobby turned into his job and in 2017 Magic Torch Comics, a community interest company, was born with the aim of supporting literacy and creativity.

Paul said: "It really is my dream job, it involves both of my passions; storytelling and community work."

From childhood Paul had a passion for comic books and he now uses this to work in libraries and classrooms, helping unleash the creative side of local children and adults.

Paul said: "My job is done if I can inspire the child who would normally be at the back of the class and would never put their hand up. They get so involved in my workshops."

His work has attracted national attention, with one of the biggest successes the comic book Achi Baba Gallipoli 1915 that he created with friend and artist, the late Andy Lee, who tragically died in 2018.

The pair won an award for their depiction of the disastrous First World War campaign which left many local soldiers from the 5th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders dead.

Paul, who also works closely with local charities, was greatly inspired by his roots growing up in Greenock with dad Jim, who headed up the Inverclyde Community Development Trust, mum Cath, a retired nurse and his brother Neil, who is also part of Magic Torch Comics.

He now lives in Port Glasgow with his wife Sharon, who runs South West Library in Greenock, and his three children Connor, 21, Ben, 18, and Molly, 14, with his eldest son following in his creative footsteps by studying at the Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow to be a composer.