Tuesday, 10 May 2016

EVERY HOG HAD ITS DAY


Okay, so you may be wondering what's been happening to a blog which was previously updated on a weekly/fortnightly basis but has been lying dormant this year.  Well, the cold hard truth is Egmont happened.  Or rather, they didn't.

You'll be aware already (as regular readers, of course) that Oink!'s many and varied strips were creator-owned, which was a rare thing in the 80s.  As such, the book I was working on was going to be the story of the editors, writers, artists etc. after the blog had told you all about my own, fan-based journey through the comic.  I'd planned to chat to as many contributors and creators as I could and edit together all their memories, stories and anecdotes into a lovely, random mix.  No chapters, no interview questions, but the end result would feel like a nice long chat with our childhood heroes, interspersed with top quality reprints on top quality paper.  That was the initial dream and the creatives I'd spoken to were all very keen and had given me permission to use their work, but there was a bigger hurdle.

Egmont still own the rights to Oink! as a property, so publishing a book about something they still own will obviously need their permission.  This wouldn't stop one of the comic's cartoonists making and selling new material (or reprinting classics) for their own characters, but it does stop someone from creating a publication specifically about the comic and then selling it.  In addition, while my own tiny scanner was more than up to the job of bringing you laughs-a-plenty with pages from Oink!, for a high quality paid-for book it simply wouldn't suffice.  As advised by editor Patrick Gallagher Egmont still have the original plates used to print the comic and I'd need access to these in order to include the strips in the book.

When I originally started up the blog Egmont's Classic Comics website was pointed out to me and Oink! was given a passing mention on it.  I contacted them to ask for permission to carry on with the blog and they got straight back to me, were extremely friendly, very encouraging and even included a link to here on their site.  But when I contacted them about the book idea a good while back I heard nothing.  I tried again before Christmas last year and several times this year, trying through various means but there's never been a response.

However I'm not alone.  The website hasn't been updated since 5th February 2015 and it seems I'm not the only fan of one of their titles (including the likes of IPC's flagship comics) who isn't getting anywhere with them.  So for the moment I'm afraid the book seems to be dead in the water.  Some people have suggested Kickstarter or going to other smaller publishers, the latter of which I was for doing if Egmont weren't interested, but I'd still need access to those plates and permission before I could publish anything about the property as a whole.  I've seen fan projects completed before permissions were granted such as the 2000AD documentary Future Shock, the Being Frank movie and the superb The Shark is Still Working film on the Jaws Blu Ray which took several years to get released.  So yes, I could start work but there's a reason why I won't be, pig pals: Time.

I've enjoyed this blog immensely and it's reignited that desire within me to write and more importantly has given me the confidence to do so!  I won't go into the reasons how again as I've covered them all before and I'll be forever grateful to this comic for those reasons (as well as introducing a young me to comics in the first place and developing my sense of humour!).  Towards the end of last year I purchased the ultimate retro computer, a Commodore 64, and started to blog about it.  I didn't know where it was going to lead me and it could've been down the road of simply collecting and playing but I knew it'd probably be something creative instead.  A game?  A utility?  A book?  I didn't know but surely it'd be a year or two down the line, as it had been with Oink?  I certainly didn't expect the answer to come to me so quickly and for it be such a natural progression of what came before!



I'm extremely passionate about this little machine and I'm already getting a small bit of writing published in an honest-to-gosh book which is being released this summer and there's other one-off and regular writing jobs centred around the C64 coming up too.  I'm also doing a year-long project on Instagram centred around my Apple Watch and the health gains it could have, to be followed by an eBook.  But most excitedly I'm beginning work now on a brand new writing project which, if successful, could be a huge deal for me!  Based on the Commodore again I'm actually taking a week off from the office job to get cracking with this one and get the ball rolling.

It's a real shame the Oink! book hasn't worked out and I don't want to sound selfish when I get all excited about the future when I've been promising you the book for a while now.  I wish I'd known this would happen long before the end of last year because then I could've kept to the original plan of rounding up this blog with coverage of the remaining specials over Christmas, then I could've wrapped it all up in a big, fat pink bow with the journey complete.  So I feel I should apologise for getting any hopes up, but I can't be any more emphatic about how much I've loved this and how much it's changed me; all those projects above wouldn't be happening without this comic, this blog and the feedback from you all.  So thank you!

Of course the upside of not wrapping things up last year is that I still have those three rare specials to come, so whenever they pop up on eBay I'll be grabbing them and nipping back on here with their juicy contents.  Until then, thanks again to you all and it's brilliant to see the hits continue to rise as more people rediscover (or discover for the first time) this gem in British comics history.  Now I'm off to pig out with Uncle Pigg on his secret desert island... though perhaps it's not too much of a secret where he ended up after all:

Monday, 29 February 2016

MORE BRAND NEW PSYCHO GRAN SOCKS IT TO 'EM!


That's right pig pals, after the success of the first Psycho Gran comic her always-obedient creator David Leach has been busy working away on another one for her, titled Psycho Gran Vs.

Now this isn't the long-awaited second edition of her comic, but a special one-off title featuring glorious pieces of artwork from David and a handful of superb guest artists.  The main attraction are David's own pages naturally, where the little old pensioner takes on a string of superheroes, supervillains, cartoon stars and others, as well as spoofs of popular movies and horror tales.  All in full-colour in David's unique style and (naturally) each sees the little dear getting one up on them all.

With the recent glut of superhero movies to which I'm not a great fan it was hilarious to see them all come a cropper at the hands of one of my favourite childhood comics characters:

Probably the one such hero whose movies I do actually like
so I just had to include this by way of example.

But that's not all.  There's all those guest artists who have come on board to lend their pens to this special, each drawing their own unique take on Psycho Gran and each one is an absolute stonker, from fellow Oink! creatives like Lew Stringer, Davy Francis and Davey Jones and others.  I don't want to ruin the surprises of who got involved, nor indeed of who all 'Gran meets or pastiches because part of the fun is turning the page and being surprised!

So how do you get your hands on this one then?

Well already David is sold out of his own personal copies but you can dash on over to Dead Universe Comics to grab yourself a copy of this brand new 36-page comic by clicking on this link below and having a paltry £3.99 ready:


They also have their own Facebook page if you're that way inclined too:


Also, just to finish off, remember her first issue of her own comic title is still available for digital download from Comixology and you can read more about that by clicking right here.

What are you waiting for, an invitation?  That's not her style, instead I'd say if you wish to remain safe in your homes at night, get clicking!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

THE OINK! BOOK

Welcome back to the blog and you'll notice the logo has changed again.  To those who were here a couple of years ago you should recognise it as the original image I created for the site and I felt it was time to resurrect it.  It was always my favourite, with those comics being my actual issues spread out on the floor, and summed up the blog perfectly, but now it also serves the purpose of being 'new' once more and of being at the beginning all over again.

Back in the autumn of 2014 I made mention of a project I was dreaming up which went by this name:


But apart from a post about it again last year there's been nothing else.  Well as it turned out there was a bit of an upheaval in my life not long after the first time I wrote in regards to this and that put things on the back burner for a good while.  Then, as mentioned in my last post the Beyond Oink! series took up so much of my time, alongside huge issues of the comic itself to cover, that it was delayed again.

That wasn't a decision taken lightly at the time.  This project is incredibly important to me, but as my life started to settle down again and I was working very hard at the blog I made the decision to delay it until I could give it my full, undivided attention.  I didn't want it or the blog to suffer from spreading myself too thin, because the more I looked into this project the more I realised just how much of my time it's likely to take up, as well as the mammoth amount of work involved.

Enjoyable work, mind you.

With the coverage of the Oink! comic itself coming to an end it seemed perfectly natural to concentrate on making that coverage, and all associated posts, the very best blog it could possibly be.  I sank my teeth (not to mention my heart and soul) into it all and I am so incredibly proud of what I've achieved on here, particularly during its final year.

I read back over this whole blog from beginning to end during those last months of 2015 and I saw how my writing changed and developed over time.  If you've read my last post where I look back at the highlights of writing The Oink! Blog you'll have seen how I started to gather positive feedback from readers and professionals and how this led on to the blog developing in many ways, including covering new material by Britain's best, having two articles published on the UK's top comics news site, the feedback and sharing of the posts based around the other comics of my youth... not only was the blog developing, but reading back it was clear I was too.

It made me realise I'd done exactly the right thing in delaying the new project until I'd covered what I needed to, until the first chapter of the blog had been completed.  I'd continued to work hard at developing it and myself naturally, right through to its conclusion.  Now I was ready.

CHAPTER TWO

So I hope you can see how just doing something I love, something I'm passionate about, has led me to this point now.  I loved Oink! (still do) and I've always loved writing.  The blog may have been something to pass the time originally, but it grew and so did my passion for both.  It's got to that stage where I want to make a go of writing just like I'd always wanted to but which I'd never had the attention span nor confidence for.

It feels like I've very naturally arrived at the beginning of 2016 and can officially announce what's happening next.  With the Christmas decorations taken down today the usual feeling of empty space in my home and the dreading of the dreary months ahead aren't there.  My reorganised, freshly cleared living space doesn't feel barren this year; it feels instead like it has a crisp, fresh newness about it.  I'm not usually one to celebrate the New Year but this January I am.  2016 has arrived and with it a new beginning and not just for the blog, but for me too!

Work on a brand new book about Oink! starts right here.

The blog will now become a diary of sorts, chronicling my work on the book from the original conception right the way through to publication.  This is going to happen.  Oink!'s 30th anniversary is this year and I can't think of a better way of marking it than starting work on this and taking you all along for the ride.  I can't wait to get stuck in.

COMING UP NEXT

First I'll be writing up my initial ideas and how they've changed somewhat since I first announced it (prematurely) all that time ago.  I'll show you the original pitch document I put together and showed to some of the team who worked on the comic (again, some ideas have developed and changed) to see what they thought of the idea, as well as bringing you up to speed on what exactly this book is going to be.  In a nutshell I'm aiming for a companion piece to The Oink! Blog in a way, with this site being from the viewpoint of a pig pal and the book being the story of our very favourite comic from the perspective of those who brought it to us in the first place.

I hope you'll enjoy what's to come and I'll see you back here soon with more details.  It all starts now.