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/co-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 picked up #22. It was wrapped up in a fittingly spectacular wraparound cover poster 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, has 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 it 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 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. At the time of writing 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.