Saturday, 6 December 2014

QUITE SIMPLY, THE DAY I MET DAVY FRANCIS

A few months ago I was at a short film festival in Belfast and the friend I was with turned around and she said to me, "Do you know Davy Francis?"  I near had kittens!  It turns out the person she'd been speaking to used to own a popular independent comic book store in the town, called Dark Horizons.  I spent much of the rest of the night ignoring the films and instead chatting with Ian about Oink!, who he knew from it, and all the amazing talent from Northern Ireland who had gone on to work on 2000AD, IDW's range and much, much more!

He also knew Davy (he of Cowpat County and Greedy Gorb fame amongst other great Oink! stars) as Mr Francis is also from Northern Ireland - a fact I only learned this year.  As is Ian Knox, he of Roger Rental fame amongst other great Oink! stars.  All this led into a great coincidence when just a few days later Davy got in touch with me and I ended up speaking on the phone at length to him about his time on the comic.

Having already spoken to Patrick Gallagher a few times it was now a thrill to talk to another of my childhood heroes.  While the call contained many interesting, and often hilarious, behind-the-scenes stories (some of which made me think maybe the book I'm writing might be aimed at a slightly older demographic than the original comic!) he also mentioned he was looking to sell some of his original artwork and would I like to meet him during a lunch break.

Our jobs are literally around the corner from each other, so it was with absolute glee that I met with him and got to pick which pieces of his artwork I wished to have.  It was such a hard choice and to be honest if I'd had the money I would've bought the whole lot!  But I settled on the three you'll see below.

He also very generously brought round a huge selection of Oink! comics the following week to my work to see if any of them would fill gaps in my collection.  A true gentleman and I look forward immensely to meeting him again to chat properly for the book - half an hour was just not enough.

But for now, back to the artwork.


The Oink! Book 1988 is there to give you some sense of scale here, as the original artwork was drawn on these huge sheets.  Sent off via good old fashioned snail mail to the editors, the comic would be assembled and once published these would be sent back to the artists.  Each one was copied on to these pages in turn, hence why you can see the copies of artwork from other creators.  The exception here is the Torture Twins strip which is actually also an original!

Once my new house is decorated these will be up in frames and taking pride of place for everyone to see but I thought you might like to see some of the details closer up before I do so.  So mice (or fingertips) at the ready to zoom in on these brilliant pieces of comic art and appreciate them like you never have before!

This Cowpat County strip was from #37 and is probably my favourite of them all.  Such a thrill to have the original in my hands like this.

Here you can see how edits would be made by simply taping fresh bits of paper over the strip, something which wouldn't get picked up in the printing process.

Davy's greyscale was actually applied with sheets of thin plastic with minuscule black lines on them.  Once shrunk and copied it'd appear as grey shading on the page.  You can also see some of the original pencil work here too.

From last year's Christmas feast, #17, Blue Xmas appeared in a two-tone colour but in this original black and white piece of the first of the two pages you can really get a sense of the work Davy put in!

No plastic pre-toned sheets here, instead you can actually see the pressure put on the page by Davy's colouring-in of this solid black panel.

(Those groups of lines Davy uses for shading look even more time consuming full-scale.)  Here you can see how an incorrectly placed speech bubble (or maybe just one with too long a tale for the artist) has been corrected with correction fluid...

... and here you can see the dog in the bottom-left panel has either been completely redone, or possibly added in at a later stage after the panel was already inked, for an extra joke.

Everyone's favourite greedy little s***e is here too.  This one was featured in the blog post for #35 and while #39's maze was also shown to me I had to take this one due to the amount of little genius jokes featured, which I loved so much when I read it a few months ago!

Again, you can see how correction fluid is used to both correct part of the steam engine drawing and also to add yet another joke to the already packed panel with the platform shoes.  Davy's sense of humour just kept giving!

See there was organisation within Oink!'s creation process!  It's serious work planning something so random you know.

I picked this page because of the Greedy Gorb strip above, but it's a lovely extra to have a Haldane original too!

Not visible in the comic, obviously, here you can see Haldane's original pencil work underneath the coloured inks when the image is held up to the light.

The moral of the story here is simple.  If you're a pig pal and have the chance to get a hold of some of the original pages of our favourite comic, take it!  Lew Stringer often sells original Pete and his Pimple and Tom Thug pages from both Oink! and Buster on his eBay page and usually lets readers of his blog know in advance, so save this site to your favourites for a start.

As a huge Oink! fan (have you noticed yet?) I can't tell you how exciting it is to have these in my possession.  They're a piece of comic history and when these actual pages were being drawn they were forming a huge piece of my childhood.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing these original pages close up, folks.  See you soon for more Christmas posts!

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