Tuesday, 10 May 2016

EVERY HOG HAD ITS DAY


Okay, so you may be wondering what's been happening to a blog which was previously updated on a weekly/fortnightly basis but has been lying dormant this year.  Well, the cold hard truth is Egmont happened.  Or rather, they didn't.

You'll be aware already (as regular readers, of course) that Oink!'s many and varied strips were creator-owned, which was a rare thing in the 80s.  As such, the book I was working on was going to be the story of the editors, writers, artists etc. after the blog had told you all about my own, fan-based journey through the comic.  I'd planned to chat to as many contributors and creators as I could and edit together all their memories, stories and anecdotes into a lovely, random mix.  No chapters, no interview questions, but the end result would feel like a nice long chat with our childhood heroes, interspersed with top quality reprints on top quality paper.  That was the initial dream and the creatives I'd spoken to were all very keen and had given me permission to use their work, but there was a bigger hurdle.

Egmont still own the rights to Oink! as a property, so publishing a book about something they still own will obviously need their permission.  This wouldn't stop one of the comic's cartoonists making and selling new material (or reprinting classics) for their own characters, but it does stop someone from creating a publication specifically about the comic and then selling it.  In addition, while my own tiny scanner was more than up to the job of bringing you laughs-a-plenty with pages from Oink!, for a high quality paid-for book it simply wouldn't suffice.  As advised by editor Patrick Gallagher Egmont still have the original plates used to print the comic and I'd need access to these in order to include the strips in the book.

When I originally started up the blog Egmont's Classic Comics website was pointed out to me and Oink! was given a passing mention on it.  I contacted them to ask for permission to carry on with the blog and they got straight back to me, were extremely friendly, very encouraging and even included a link to here on their site.  But when I contacted them about the book idea a good while back I heard nothing.  I tried again before Christmas last year and several times this year, trying through various means but there's never been a response.

However I'm not alone.  The website hasn't been updated since 5th February 2015 and it seems I'm not the only fan of one of their titles (including the likes of IPC's flagship comics) who isn't getting anywhere with them.  So for the moment I'm afraid the book seems to be dead in the water.  Some people have suggested Kickstarter or going to other smaller publishers, the latter of which I was for doing if Egmont weren't interested, but I'd still need access to those plates and permission before I could publish anything about the property as a whole.  I've seen fan projects completed before permissions were granted such as the 2000AD documentary Future Shock, the Being Frank movie and the superb The Shark is Still Working film on the Jaws Blu Ray which took several years to get released.  So yes, I could start work but there's a reason why I won't be, pig pals: Time.

I've enjoyed this blog immensely and it's reignited that desire within me to write and more importantly has given me the confidence to do so!  I won't go into the reasons how again as I've covered them all before and I'll be forever grateful to this comic for those reasons (as well as introducing a young me to comics in the first place and developing my sense of humour!).  Towards the end of last year I purchased the ultimate retro computer, a Commodore 64, and started to blog about it.  I didn't know where it was going to lead me and it could've been down the road of simply collecting and playing but I knew it'd probably be something creative instead.  A game?  A utility?  A book?  I didn't know but surely it'd be a year or two down the line, as it had been with Oink?  I certainly didn't expect the answer to come to me so quickly and for it be such a natural progression of what came before!



I'm extremely passionate about this little machine and I'm already getting a small bit of writing published in an honest-to-gosh book which is being released this summer and there's other one-off and regular writing jobs centred around the C64 coming up too.  I'm also doing a year-long project on Instagram centred around my Apple Watch and the health gains it could have, to be followed by an eBook.  But most excitedly I'm beginning work now on a brand new writing project which, if successful, could be a huge deal for me!  Based on the Commodore again I'm actually taking a week off from the office job to get cracking with this one and get the ball rolling.

It's a real shame the Oink! book hasn't worked out and I don't want to sound selfish when I get all excited about the future when I've been promising you the book for a while now.  I wish I'd known this would happen long before the end of last year because then I could've kept to the original plan of rounding up this blog with coverage of the remaining specials over Christmas, then I could've wrapped it all up in a big, fat pink bow with the journey complete.  So I feel I should apologise for getting any hopes up, but I can't be any more emphatic about how much I've loved this and how much it's changed me; all those projects above wouldn't be happening without this comic, this blog and the feedback from you all.  So thank you!

Of course the upside of not wrapping things up last year is that I still have those three rare specials to come, so whenever they pop up on eBay I'll be grabbing them and nipping back on here with their juicy contents.  Until then, thanks again to you all and it's brilliant to see the hits continue to rise as more people rediscover (or discover for the first time) this gem in British comics history.  Now I'm off to pig out with Uncle Pigg on his secret desert island... though perhaps it's not too much of a secret where he ended up after all:

6 comments:

John Pitt said...

Hi Phil, I'm miles behind with the blogs myself and only just getting caught up. It must be a sickener for you that you're prevented from doing what you had originally wanted to.
If you did want to do more with this blog, you could continue the journey of Oink's characters throughout the other comics? This blog doesn't need to end, especially as being as how you enjoyed writing it so much.
Best,
JDP.

Phil Boyce said...

Hi John, thanks very much for the kind comments and I'm glad you're still enjoying your read-through. The original premise of the blog was always to cover the issues on their release date until the whole regular series was covered, as there was simply nothing much about Oink! online, which was criminal! I'm so proud of this blog and while it's tempting to carry on covering the three characters that shifted to Buster, only Tom lasted more than six months and Buster is covered in depth across various sites and blogs already.

It would've been great to have had the three remaining specials for Christmas to finish everything off more neatly, but I never went hunting for them as I thought I'd be carrying on at the time, but they will be covered!

The blog's relaunch (as such) was for the book, so with it not going forward now I'd rather have the blog stick to its original plan instead of dragging it out with nothing to cover. I could try various retrospectives of characters or artists etc. for example, but I'm also mindful of the amount of scans already used. I stuck to a rough rule of no more than one-quarter of an issue because I'm mindful the strips could be collected together by their creators if they so wished and sold in collected editions, so I never wanted to have the blog as a free alternative of reading >everything< and take that away from them.

It's less a tearful goodbye and more of a fond farewell, it's been a blast and has opened up the future for me, so I'll be eternally grateful to Oink!, wherever this adventure leads me.

STEPHEN ARCHER said...

I am clinging to a straw here, but I take it that Rebellion’s acquisition of IPC’s back catalogue isn’t going to cause a resumption of your plan to write an Oink book? No, I thought not; I realise you’re now committed fulltime to your other blog. It’d be nice if that were to happen wouldn’t it? Let’s not waste words, it’d be bloody marvellous. However Ben Smith’s said he’d support comic-related provided they don’t ‘take the piss’. Alas I suspect that a privately-published book, even with full acknowledgement of ownership etc. might have ticked off that regrettable box. Rebellion’s negotiations with IPC/Egmont/whoever could explain your failure to get a proper answer from them about the proposition not so many months ago. All we can do now is hope Rebellion will remember Oink and do it justice, among the flood of reprints we all hope will now ensure. They’d better, or I’m apt to throw the wobbler of all time!

Phil Boyce said...

Maybe if this had happened last year then yes it'd have been a real possibility, in fact probably a certainty. But in wanting to develop myself further I couldn't stand still. There was the temptation to create the book first and then seek the permissions to get it published (like the fan-made documentaries on the Jaws and Super Mario Bros Blu Rays) but I needed access to their plates and their help in tracking down some key contributors. I was never going to be self-publishing the book though, as the idea was always to have it in Egmont's Classic Comics range or through a third-party, so that wouldn't be an issue for Rebellion.

However, as will become clear over the next few months I have indeed moved on (have already been contributing to other publications about the Commodore) and a project I'm working on at the moment is going to be all-consuming for a while. I can't say anything yet, but needless to say keep an eye on the Recovering From a Scratch blog.

STEPHEN ARCHER said...

All precisely as I’d expected, but heigh-ho onwards and upwards. Sorry if it seemed like I was answering my own questions before waiting for a response – well, I was, wasn’t I? – but to me it’s not as well to let another man do your thinking for you. Alas, the Commodore blog doesn’t really do it for me due to my lack of interest in the subject. Still all the best with it. What Recovering from a Scratch blog? And what makes you think anyone’d be interested in a blog about feral cats anyway? ;-)

Phil Boyce said...

Oh haha very good ;) As you can see above just below this blog's title, that's the name of the C64 blog and it's fair enough that you've no interest in the subject matter, we're all different. I have discovered a new niche for myself and have been writing for other publications already about the vintage computer, with my own new project taking shape which I should be able to announce before Christmas.

Oh, and there is a reason behind the name lol! - http://recoveringfromascratch.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/driving-onwards.html