Category Archives: Personal Post

~ PERSONAL POST ~

I know we should never give in to the bullies, the trolls, the people who think they own the things we talk about and attack us when we have an opinion that doesn’t match theirs. But sometimes we just have to look after our own mental health, you know? Last night I announced on socials I was taking a break from the blog, and initially this morning I was ready to walk away permanently. But now an outpouring of support has changed my mind. So I’m not going to let the bullies win. There’ll be no break, no walking away and I’m truly touched and feeling rather emotional today.

Let me explain what’s happened.

Yesterday I wrote about the Zzap!64 review of the OiNK game, which was all very positive, as was the one in C&VG magazine, and I myself had a fun experience with the game too. Because it didn’t tie in well (or at all) with OiNK it’s been disregarded in the decades since. I wanted to offer up a different opinion.

This was not met well on the OiNK Facebook Group.

It started off as only one individual, who saw how I liked something they didn’t and proceeded to break down every element of the thing I liked and tell me why it was terrible, and what games I should be praising instead (they know better). If you’re active on social media sites like Twitter you’ll be familiar with that scenario I’m sure. I’m of the ilk that if someone likes something I don’t I’ll either just move on and let them continue to enjoy it, or I’ll engage and have a friendly chat and swap opinions and discuss like adults.

But hey, that’s just me.

I tried to explain we’re all entitled to our own opinions but they continued. Then they started to twist what I was saying, making it out like I was the one stating they couldn’t have a different opinion to mine! Talk about projection. I clarified several times, but they continued to the point where the praise they’d previously offered up about the blog itself suddenly changed; now the blog was “condescending” and they told me not to share it on the group anymore because I’m “thin-skinned”. In reality I was simply clarifying yet again (and again) that the way they commented wasn’t necessary in order to offer up a different opinion.

Then the personal attacks came.

They continued on to the point where I was so angry I left the group (and I’ll admit I swore in one of my final comments), the group I was admin of. I was upset and angry that now my writing, my blog and my person were coming under attack after several comments from this person, and all because of a difference of opinion over a 35-year-old computer game?! I explained how it had all made me feel and their reaction was a laughing emoji. Says it all, doesn’t it?

But here’s the thing, this morning I’ve woken up to “anonymous” comments on the blog (which obviously failed moderation), as well as DMs in my FB and Instagram accounts (ironically, not Twitter) and from a few different accounts. Whether the person on FB meant for this to happen or not is not the point, the fact is that it’s happened and they started it, they opened the door to like-minded individuals who have now started on me with horrible personal attacks.

The thing is, these are meant to be pig pals! I thought our fanbase was better than this, that our fanbase was too small for this kind of thing! Well apparently it’s not. But the fanbase is definitely far too small for this to be ignored, for it not to affect me personally.

So I was originally coming on here to tell you all I was taking a break. I wasn’t even sure if the blog would return if these were some of the people who had been reading it, waiting in the wings to tear it all down when I like something they don’t (or maybe just to get their kicks now I’ve dared say all this). That’s what gets to me, they may only be a small handful of people, but they ARE some of the people that have been following the blog up to this point, because this blog isn’t anywhere near big enough in the grand scheme of things for it to be randomers.

But as I said, I won’t let them win, so the blog isn’t going anywhere and it’s not taking a break either. Their pathetic, childish, impudent comments will continue to be blocked on the blog, I wasn’t for returning to the FB group if certain people weren’t removed but speaking with so many wonderful people today who want me back, I am. It’s important we all look after our own mental health and I’ve thought long and hard about this, but when I looked past the trolls I saw all of the supportive comments, thank you so much everyone! You’ve really brought a load of joy to the day, I’d no idea the blog was loved so much by so, so many of you! Three or four trolls versus the dozens and dozens of you who took the time to reach out in support, it’s no competition!

This blog and the decent people following it (the vast majority minus a few numpties) have helped me through some really tough times this past year and a bit. So to those who attacked me just because I dared voice an opinion that differed from yours, or because I stood up to one of your ilk, you’re not welcome here and I think I can comfortably say Uncle Pigg would feel the same. There’s a reason Tom Thug was the butt of the jokes in his strips and not the hero.

As for everyone else, see ya around >real< pig pals.

(Quick update: The person that started this is now online saying he’s a victim of bullying because of this post, that I’m fragile and need mental help. I didn’t need any more proof of what I’m dealing with, but there you go. Onwards and upwards, time to mute, block and move on. There are funny comics to write about!)

REAL COMiCS (& COFFEE) HEROES

It’s very rare I write a personal post but this is well overdue. I want to make a public apology to two people, the owners of Coffee & Heroes in Belfast. Why public? I want Alan and Vicki to know I’m serious, there were also people in the shop’s community I considered friends and I want to reach out to them too, and I also think I need it for myself.

Last year I was increasingly paranoid and isolated over Covid. I hardly left the house, only to get food or for my weekly trip to Coffee & Heroes to spend an afternoon having plenty of laughs. It was a bit of normalcy, I could forget about the pandemic whilst knowing I was safe thanks to people I trusted. I’d started to see them outside the shop too (Alan and Vicki lived one street from me!) and took trips to butchers and different supermarkets for nice food. (A lot of conversations with Vicki and regular coffee addict Roy revolved around this subject.)

Then Vicki informed me someone had reported the shop for allegedly breaking guidelines, which was ridiculous and just not true. I didn’t know who did that and I don’t want to know in case it was someone I liked, given what happened next. The Covid paranoia suddenly changed how I felt about the shop, a place I knew was safe and welcoming. We ended up in a horrible heated exchange over it. It was all my fault. This “paranoia” isn’t an excuse, the hermit-like state I’d got myself into was completely of my own doing. I couldn’t see it at the time though and I feel like shit for falling out and never returning to the shop.

My friends and even my mother were worried. They knew Coffee & Heroes had kept me going but now I became a recluse. It wasn’t healthy. Now I was never leaving the house because when I did I was so stressed out I felt ill. Going food shopping, something I used to enjoy, was an ordeal and panic-inducing. It got to the stage that several months later one of my closets friends (another Vicki!) had to trick me into going out for lunch with her, telling me we were heading to her house and instead driving to a nice seaside cafe. I’ll admit it was really difficult but I knew I had to do it! I knew my life was messed up, my mental and physical health were deteriorating and I was just as worried about that as I was about Covid.

Bit by bit my friends helped me get my life back. I saw Bond in the cinema a day before the end of restrictions (not sure if me at the time would’ve gone later) and it really helped. So did Christmas with my friends. I now feel like life is returning to normal. I’m still being careful, I have vulnerable people in my life (so I mask up where advised, carry hand sanitiser and I’m boosted), but I’m also getting on with my life. Only recently I began going to big events again for the first time since this began and from one of them I actually did catch Covid. Ironically, getting the thing I’d tried so hard to avoid helped me gain the confidence I needed to get my life back. I’m being careful and trusting of those around me and life is good.

In other words, I kind of feel how I did every time I went to Coffee & Heroes! I’m happier, relaxed and trusting. If only I’d taken the example of those wonderful people in that shop and applied it to everything else. But anyway, I miss the shop, I miss the people and to Alan and Vicki I am truly sorry for what happened. None of this is meant to excuse any of my behaviour, just to explain what happened. And if it can help anyone still locked in that Covid fear, to show that you can get out of it, then that’s a bonus.

HAPPY 35TH COMiCS ANNiVERSARY!

On this date 35 years ago I bought my first ever comic. I had always loved reading, mainly The Railway Series books and the magazine and cassette series Story Teller, although I would take the occasional look at Calamity James in my brother’s Beano and the Knight Rider strips in my sister’s Look-In. But on Saturday 8th November 1986 something caught my eye on the newsagent’s shelves that I just had to read. That something was OiNK #14.

I was hooked. Initially just to the piggy publication but it wasn’t long before I was searching through the other comics out there. None of the humour ones did anything for me though, I think I was spoiled for life by OiNK! It’s certainly the main source of my sense of humour. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is still up for debate amongst my friends.

The following year however, the hugely successful TV series based on those Railway Series books finally got its own comic three years after the show had debuted. I remember the excitement of discovering it and, even though at nine-years-of-age I was already a bit old for it, Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends became my second reserved comic at the newsagent. Plus, it was my first ever Marvel comic!

Altogether, between 1986 and 1994 a total of a dozen comics were at various times reserved for me under ‘B45 Boyce’ in the box behind the till. To mark the occasion I thought I’d quickly show you the covers of them all and touch upon the others I bought one or two issues of, as well as a couple of drawings I was able to get printed at the time, finishing with the comics I’m collecting today. Yes, believe it or not I do collect some modern comics, although you’ll see they’re very much connected to these classics.

I collected Thomas for almost two years before I finally forced myself to move on because I was just far too old for it, The Real Ghostbusters was a firm favourite up to #150 at least and as for Wildcat, well at the time of writing this I’m in the middle of revisiting this particular comic in real time. Criminally cut short at 12 issues, its preview issue was given away free with the last OiNK. My favourite comic of all time had passed the torch to the new sci-fi epic (potential epic, anyway).

I also bought Big Comic Fortnightly for a couple of years. I don’t have any of the issues in my possession anymore, however in recent years I’ve been able to get a hold of all of the books. A wonderful collection. All of these comics lasted for varying lengths in my reservation box. I was only allowed a certain amount at once but I did push my luck whenever I could. When I was off sick from school in November 1988 my mum returned with the Transformers Winter Special below, so when I loved it so much and wanted to start collecting it (like a few of my friends had already been doing for a long time) it was really her fault, not mine! Haha. I began with #192 and carried all the way through to the finale in 1992.

As some comics were cancelled over time I was always on the lookout for another to replace them. Some of my very favourites were actually short-lived. Below, Ring Raiders, Havoc and Jurassic Park were all cut short but they remain in my collection today and I simply adore them. Funny Fortnightly didn’t last as long in my list as Big Comic and the other two below I bought for about a year or so before moving on, although both Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles Adventures and Thunderbirds The Comic were huge successes and lasted a long time.

Ring Raiders and Jurassic Park are also, like Wildcat, being covered on the blog at the moment and I’m looking out for the small but perfectly formed collection of Havoc to complete at some point so watch out for it in the future. What about the rest of these comics? Will any of them ever find their way on to the site and read in real time? Who knows. In the meantime, you can read a retrospective of The Real Ghostbusters, a review of its first issue, and one other comic above is still going today! I take a look at #800 of it and compared it (favourably, I might add) to the original. Which comic was it? You can find out here.

I adored my comics back then and even sent in letters and drawings. Two of these saw print! I can remember seeing the first (below, left) resulted in a scream from a very young me so loud my parents thought I’d hurt myself! As for Michelangelo, I drew him while babysitting my niece one night but a few months later I cancelled the comic’s regular order. By complete coincidence, some time later (I remember it was several months later) I bought an issue to read between exams at school and it contained my drawing!

The comics I had on order were all paid for by my parents but with my pocket money I’d buy lots of single issues of other titles. Sometimes I’d be trying out premiere issues to see if I’d want to collect them, sometimes they were just for something new to read, so my room was full of random issues over those years. A lot fell victim of my youthful attention span though, such as Death’s Head and The Sleeze Brothers, both of which I loved but by the time their second issues came out my fickle nature had moved on to something else. When I’d find these comics amongst my collection months to years later I’d regret not collection them, but I’ve made up for it nowadays with complete runs of both.

I wasn’t aware of a Visionaries comic until well after it had already been cancelled, but my fascination with the cartoon and toys was clear and so my parents bought me their annual for Christmas that year. Strangely, they bought me it again the following Christmas too. (You can now check out the read through of the whole series.) Other comics I enjoyed single issues of here and there included The Punisher, Marvel’s Bumper Comic, Whizzer & Chips, Super Naturals and umpteen others.

I moved on to computer and video game magazines for much of the 90s but in the new millennium I’d dabble with certain comics, especially when I found out Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski was writing The Amazing Spider-Man, so that became the first American comic I ever bought from dedicated comics shops.

Fast forward to the present and I’m buying some new series, though not as many as a couple of years back. Back then I was collecting about a dozen a month, but losing a job at the start of the pandemic put an end to that. I’m glad it did though. It made me appreciate my standout favourites, so now I’m concentrating on those most important to me and using my new new job’s income to purchase graphic novel collections and back issues of these to add to the continuing new issues.

IDW‘s brand new Transformers (rebooted a couple of years ago) and their continuation of the original Marvel G.I. Joe stories are phenomenally good! I haven’t been a fan of the other iterations these franchises had over the years since the originals, but both of these are even better than those I loved reading back in the 80s (and still do on Instagram every week, again in real time).

Straczynski’s brand new comics universe The Resistance is about as timely as you could possibly get, despite being written before what’s taken place in the world these past two years. The idea was to create a brand new superhero kind of universe from scratch and it’s off to a stunning start. Finally, when I was visiting a local comic shop one title I loved was Batman, the only superhero I enjoyed as a kid. Now Panini Comics are collecting two issues together for only £2.99 a month so I’m fully on board with that instead. I’ve even started right back the beginning, which is a bit of a project to undertake!

So, 35 years ago this very day I sat in my house tittering and giggling at a silly comic about pigs, plops, poos and puns. Little was I to know what it would lead to. Now here I am writing a website where I’m revisiting all of these old comics in real time, enjoying them just as I did decades ago, classing many of the creators as friends. Chatting to them about their characters and stories, hearing them reminisce and bring the inner workings of these wonderful publications to life is one thing, but having them become regular readers of my own work is something I never could’ve imagined.

As a child I created my own comics and stories, then in my 20s I studied media and began writing because of those early comics. Unfortunately when I discovered the world of work and having a regular income it all fell by the wayside, but many (many) years later I rediscovered Uncle Pigg‘s passion project, which has led me right back again.

It’s ignited my passion for writing and from this I have my own passion project to come in 2022. So thank you Patrick Gallagher, Mark Rodgers and Tony Husband, it’s all thanks to you.