Thursday, 17 November 2016

OUT WITH THE OLD

Regular readers will be familiar with the working title below as I'd promoted a new Oink! book as such on the blog at the time I was originally planning it.  I'd developed the idea of what the book would be and spoke to several of the people behind Oink! to see if they'd be interested in taking part, as well as to gauge reactions.


It was a very positive experience but as I've detailed previously I'd tried several times to contact Egmont (who'd purchased the rights to the comic from IPC, but not the contents which was all creator-owned) but they never responded.  Now however, Rebellion have stepped up to the plate and bought IPC's back catalogue including our classic piggy pink publication, which could explain why Egmont never replied, after all these deals take time.

I'm going to be contacting Rebellion but I've also decided that even if I don't hear back I'm going to go ahead with this book anyway.  It's a labour of love and just look at the other examples of fan-produced products such as the documentaries Future Shock (about 2000AD, which was floated about film festivals before the rights were eventually obtained to release it commercially), The Shark is Still Working (fan-produced making-of Jaws documentary, made without official backing but eventually purchased by Universal and now on the Jaws Blu-Ray) and Being Frank, the Frank Sidebottom film still awaiting release.  All great examples of what can be achieved if the passion and determination is there and they all worked out in the end.  They produced fantastic work which then caught the attention of the rights-holders.

THE OLD BOOK

The book I'm now going to be working on is somewhat different to the previous idea and in this regard I think it not coming to fruition will actually have been for the best!  Originally it was simply a book written by a fan telling the story of the greatest comic ever crafted.  That's not to sell it short, of course.  It was going to include contributions from as many of the original team as possible, plus it wasn't going to have chapters as such.  Rather, it'd have told the story in one long form but separated into sections based on characters, the comic itself, the brand etc. with plenty of reprints and interviews along the way.

When I write that now it all sounds very unoriginal and uninspiring and I'm glad to say the focus has changed dramatically.  I'll come back soon with more details on this but there's a sneak preview of what I mean at the bottom of this post, after the upcoming images.

First up though, I thought you might be interested in seeing the original pitch document I put together at the time to summarise the original idea and show it to others for feedback.  Oink! editor Patrick Gallagher in particular helped with editing this too and I was very pleased with it, but I never showed it to anyone other than some close friends and those who worked on the comic.

So here it is, the book that will never be.  But that's only because something even better is coming (in my humble opinion, of course), which I'll get to below.


THE NEW BOOK

I'll fill you in properly soon on the new project, but I just want to give you a taster and to point out the basic difference between the ideas.  This blog itself kind of became the story of Oink! from the fan's point of view.  What started off as a fun sampling of each issue expanded into something far more, including my own personal memories of the comic and the times I had with it.  Some of the people responsible contributed with some lovely insights and knowledge too, but it was really about a pig pal reliving it all over again, reminiscing while experiencing it with fresh, adult eyes.

The book above was really just going to redo all of that.  But there's no point in rehashing what's come before, that's not very Oink!-like.  No, an original and fresh approach was needed.

The new book (which I'll keep the working title for, at least for the time being) is going to be the story of Oink! from the perspective of those who created it.  When the blog took off I had the chance to chat to the likes of Patrick and cartoonist Davy Francis on the phone, as well as lengthy conversations online with Lew Stringer (who I still chat to frequently I'm happy to say), David Leach, Helen Jones and others who have become good Facebook friends since.  These led me to discover some truly hilarious stories which have never been shared before and as a fan I know these are clearly what we'd like to hear about!  Even if some of these stories may not be quite as kiddie-friendly as the comic!

That's all I'm saying for now, but you can take it from me it's going to be a fun experience writing this and I'll be documenting it all every step of the way right here on The Oink! Blog.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

A PERSONAL POST: RETRO COMICS & COMPUTERS - FUTURE WRITING

Eagle-eyed followers of my two blogs may notice a similarity in the latest post to go up on each.  That's because I'm writing this with the specific intention of it appearing on both.

Worlds collided on a chilled afternoon while I contemplated
just how well they'll work together

I closed down The Oink! Blog at the beginning of the year, having covered all of the regular issues on the date of their original release all those years ago, as was the intention from the very beginning.  The book project had floundered when, after several attempts, Egmont never returned any of my email enquiries.  After I'd written the blog from the point of view of a pig pal (this is what the comic called its dedicated readers) the idea behind the book was to retrace the Oink! story from the perspective of those extremely talented individuals who worked on it.  Unlike most comics of the day where the publisher owned the rights to all of the contents, Oink!'s characters and strips were creator-owned and the members of the team I was able to speak to during my time with the blog were always very supportive, of both the online writing and the prospect of a book.  However 'Oink!' as an entity still belonged to Egmont.  It's complicated!

It seemed all hope was lost and instead of plowing on ahead and hoping something could be worked out at some future point I moved focus to my new blog, Recovering From a Scratch.

In my teen years the Commodore 64 home computer was a massive part of what made me 'me'.  I purchased one again last year and set about rediscovering it all over again.  My passion for writing and wishing to do something with it had come about very naturally from producing the Oink! Blog and the idea was to see where the 64 one would take me next.  This year I've had a couple of things in print already and I'd had an idea for a rather large writing project with the Commodore and had been working on it for a while now.  The blog suffered as a result though, with nowhere near the amount of posts I wanted being published.

But as I looked more and more into the modern day C64 scene it was clear it's a lot bigger than I could ever have possibly imagined!  After the computer's commercial life came to an end in the mid-90s the home-brew one took over and I made some games, a disk magazine and ran a public domain software library.  But this couldn't have prepared me for what's out there today!

So I'm refocussing.

CHANGE OF DIRECTION


This realisation of the vastness of the Commodore 64 scene, coupled with 2000AD publisher Rebellion's purchase of the IPC back catalogue from Egmont (including Oink!) got me thinking about my future in writing.


RECOVERING FROM A SCRATCH - I started this blog with the idea of seeing where I'd take me, just as the Oink! one had even though that hadn't been the plan at the beginning.  So far I've been published in the second volume of the Commodore 64: a visual commpendium series and the soon-to-be-released second issue of Eight Bit magazine, both of which I'm incredibly proud of.  The Retro Video Gamer website has also asked me to be a regular contributor of C64 reviews and I'm starting on that this very evening.  However instead of developing along these lines I jumped ahead.

I had an idea I loved for an ongoing writing project which involved writing about the modern day scene, but as I read up on it the more I discovered it's huge!  It's not just people collecting retro games, there's so much more happening out there across many vintage formats and the Commodores are extremely popular in particular.  There's no way I could do them justice.  It would be like writing a book about Oink! right back when I first started the blog.

But I'm only delaying things, not cancelling.  For now the focus is squarely back on the blog, just as it should be as I continue to rediscover this brilliantly fun machine.  I've actually been ignoring it while I tried to force myself down that path so it's time to refocus.  I may go down a different path with it in the end and create a different project, but it's definitely something I've a passion for and so is a perfect subject for me to write about.  The proof of that is how much writing I'm doing elsewhere about it already!  So I'm taking the approach more akin to the Oink! one and seeing where it goes first.  I've enjoyed where it's led so far so if I focus on that now, who knows.

Fun times ahead and a lot more posts to come.  Finally!


THE OINK! BLOG - Well if you're reading this on the Oink! site you'll most likely have already correctly guessed it's been resurrected.  With only a couple of further specials from the 80s to cover there's obviously not enough of the original comics to write about anymore, so why have I brought the blog back?  The book.  It's back on and I'm extremely excited.  In a nutshell, in the back of my head I was always disappointed about how the promises I'd made on the blog previously never came to fruition, but after Rebellion's purchase of the title those thoughts have been trickling back out again.

I was nuts to give up and that's basically what I did, I gave up!  I've seen fan projects created without official backing being obtained until complete and this shouldn't have been any different.  Plus I did have the backing of those that had worked on it.  Above, I described how I'm expanding my knowledge on the other blog, but Oink! is a subject I know a whole lot about already.  There's always new things to learn and new stories to be told and that was the whole point of the book project.  So I had a brilliant starting point and I'm back there now you'll be (hopefully) glad to hear.

The blog will now be tracking progress on this as I go along and as always I appreciate any and all feedback as this journey begins.  It's nerve-wracking as I want to do this great comic justice and, while the feedback about the blog from readers and cartoonists, editors and the like has been phenomenal, an actual printed book (not digital) feels like it's in a whole other league!

Plus there'll be some additional posts too to keep you pigs happy, you can be sure of that!

- - -

So there you have it, it's in written form now and out there for the world to see.  There's no backing down now and that both excites and terrifies me in equal measure.  Whichever blog you're following I hope you'll subscribe to future updates and I'll speak to you all really soon.