|Photo by Karin Albinsson of VIVA magazine|
Can you believe it's been five years today since we lost Chris Sievey, the genius behind the papier-mâché mask of Frank Sidebottom? Since then we've seen a bronze statue erected in the infamous Timperley, a fan-made documentary is in the works and there's been a movie based on the character released in cinemas too. During his lifetime he was the face of children's television and I've fond memories of him on No.73 and his own shed programme.
But while he was a rather unique musician and stand-up comedian as well, for pig pals such as myself his main role will forever be within the pages of Oink!. Approached by co-editor Patrick Gallagher Chris became something of a figurehead for the comic, a real-life celebrity and TV and radio star in the guise of Frank who could help publicise the comic as well as contribute gloriously hand-crafted strips, often coloured with felt-tip pen! If you're new to the blog please take some time to explore his tag under Stuff in the Sty on the left there to see the kind of pages he brought to Oink!.
There's a fantastic interview with Patrick all about Chris and Oink! on the Dazed and Confused magazine's website which I've covered before here.
But this also marks my rediscovery of Oink! since my childhood. After many years of many comics I got to that stage where I grew out of them for a while and when moving out of home I threw away a lot, only keeping some special issues such as premiere ones or those with my letters in them. For Oink! I never had the first one but I did keep the last issue and The Oink! Book 1988, which you'll know is my favourite childhood book of any genre if you're a regular reader here. For some reason I also kept #45 but no others. When I saw the tragic news on the BBC website of Chris' passing I dug out what I had and was gutted I hadn't kept any more.
A good dig around eBay and I bought a few of the early issues, loved them to pieces and set about getting them all. Hence my journey to where I am now had begun.
It's sad to think of those Oink! contributors and creators who are no longer with us and I hope by doing this blog their work and memories can be both rediscovered by those of us they helped raise, and discovered for the first time by many more. It's certainly been heartwarming to see such great reception to their Oink! work from both adults and children today who never got a chance to see it all before. May all the Oink! teammates who are no longer with us rest in peace, and know they've left a legacy of something truly 'Fantastic'.