REMEMBERiNG ANDY ROPER

This month the very sad news reached me of the passing of OiNK cartoonist Andy Roper. Andy’s intricately detailed strips were always a highlight of any issue he was involved with. While he only contributed a handful of different stories they’re fondly remembered to this day, a testament to his unique art style.

He first appeared in the pages of #11 with Scruff of the Track, written by OiNK co-creator/editor Mark Rodgers who is also sadly no longer with us. On the surface it’s drawn in a style that wouldn’t have looked out of place in action adventure comics of the day, at least until you start reading it that is. Upon closer inspection it’s so jam-packed with background detail and visual gags that it pays to take your time and relish every single panel.

Over the course of OiNK’s run Andy’s artwork graced the cover twice, such as with this brilliant parody of King Kong for #31. For me personally, having only collected the comic since #14 the first time I saw his art was when I went to the newsagent to pick up #22. It was wrapped up in a fittingly spectacular poster cover to mark part one of a special two-part story called The Spectacles of Doom!

Prince Endor and his amazing eyewear returned two more times, for a much longer story in the regular fortnightly comic and then in the second (and final) annual, The Oink! Book 1989. While Scruff of the Track was gorgeous to look at in its own right, when Andy applied colour the result was nothing short of amazing. Just take a look at this double page spread from the aforementioned annual to see what I mean.

Just like the late, great J.T. Dogg, Andy may not have appeared in every issue but when he did he made a huge impact on the readers, there’s no doubt about that. Given the intricacy of his work these epic strips must’ve taken so long to complete that I doubt he ever stopped working between his appearances.

The fact my memory, which isn’t great at the best of times, had held on to Andy’s pages for decades shows how much of a highlight they were of OiNK for me. I hope this little website can do its part in holding on to the memory of his stunning creations for future readers.

HiSTORY OF (OiNK!) COMiCS

Last summer Tony Foster, editor of the previously cancelled Comic Scene magazine contacted me about contributing to a new project he was putting together. Comic Scene: History of Comics is a new, ambitious partwork magazine series which aims to eventually cover 100 years of worldwide comics history. Hence its name, really. Each 60-page magazine is dedicated to one particular year and the 1986 volume has a certain title mentioned right on its front cover.

I was thrilled to be given the chance to write about my favourite comic in an actual printed publication. But pretty much as soon as I agreed I realised the size of the task ahead. OiNK had a huge range of content over its two-and-a-half year run, from a vast selection of regular and semi-regular characters to one-offs and spoofs that changed from issue to issue. The behind-the-scenes shenanigans were just as fascinating too. How was I going to sum this all up within the tight word limit?

I hadn’t made an essay plan since my college days but that was the route I took and even then I went way, way over the word count. It was hard but ultimately highly satisfying to edit my own work to someone else’s specifications, while making sure it flowed properly and retained the casual chatty style I seem to have developed through years of writing for the previous blog site. Well, people seem to enjoy that so why break a habit.

While I knew people who had enjoyed OiNK as a child, or even more recently, could be among the readers the main aim of this partwork series is to introduce a vast array of classic and modern comics to the readers and so that was my goal. In doing so, I wanted to bring lots of information about the comic’s creation, its life and evolution, as well as examples of the actual humour and cheeky wit. I wouldn’t be doing the comic justice by just reciting facts and figures after all.

So OiNK’s creation, it’s unique team of contributors, its characters, strips and its place in comics history are all covered in just a few pages and I’m really pleased with the final result. Past articles I’ve read always seem to focus on it being top-shelved in WHSmith or the fact it had some rude jokes. But I wanted to write a proper overview of the whole shebang. I even made sure to put to rest a few myths about the comic too (only to have one resurface in the magazine’s editorial, unfortunately).

It was great fun writing this piece for Comic Scene and it’s available now to buy. So far four volumes have been released (1950, 1977, 1984 and 1986) and I also contributed some images for another author’s article on Transformers from Marvel UK. To purchase any of these just head to the magazine’s online shop where print and digital versions are available individually and in bundles, or as part of a comics club with a monthly membership fee instead.

DVD EXTRAS

While putting it together I informed Tony of a couple of extra features I could do for the article, as little box outs perhaps. He was very enthusiastic but ultimately they were left out, I’m not sure why. The main one of these was a series of quotes from several of OiNK’s creative team summing up their time on the comic! They were all very happy to share their thoughts with me and it’s unfortunate they were cut.

But here’s something exciting to end on for now. I’m currently putting together a new series of posts for this site, speaking with even more of the team than I had for the Comic Scene feature, so I’m very excited to let you know these (and more) will see the light of day here on the OiNK! Blog instead!

SO WHAT iS THE OiNK! BLOG?

In 1986 I was introduced to the world of collecting comics thanks to piggy publication OiNK! From there it took off for several years before magazines for my Commodore 64 took over. Then, in 2010 the sad passing of Chris ‘Frank Sidebottom‘ Sievey on the news left me wanting to relive some of those childhood memories. By 2013 I had an almost complete collection and OiNK! cartoonist Lew Stringer suggested I read them in real time. Soon I was blogging about them, every fortnight on their original release dates and I loved every single minute of it.

When I neared the end of the run I started writing about the other comics I’d collected in the late 80s/early 90s and soon I was also covering them one at a time in real time. But last year the Blogger site started to crash. I’d wanted to turn my linear blog into a website with many different sections, all easily navigated. It required reworking some of the code operating the blog and I don’t think Blogger took too kindly to that. So I figured the time was right to move to a better provider. Hence I’m now on WordPress.

When I started the original blog I couldn’t have known how it would grow and retrospectively trying to change it into something more complex clearly wasn’t going to work. So here I am, starting from scratch. Why from scratch? Well, why not? It’s OiNK!‘s 35th anniversary this year, I’ve got better technology with my equipment at home for scans and photos and a better website provider to build the site I’ve wanted.

So with all the tools I’ll need I’ve decided to go right back to the start and relive those comics all over again and yes, I’m doing it all in real time. I won’t be waiting until the piggy pink publication is over before the others join the fray though, they’ll be appearing alongside it. OiNK! itself will enjoy a brand new set of reviews, the other titles will be getting a kind of ‘Director’s Cut’ of their original reviews, while I’ll also be adding in one ‘new’ classic comic at a time over the coming years.

It’s already starting out as a bigger project than I had in mind back in 2013 so I’m excited to see where this one leads. It also comes complete with social media accounts on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter, where I’ve found people also like to comment and converse about the blog’s posts.

So come on in and join the fun pig pals!