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: