Saturday, 29 April 2017

SEE YOU AT THE ENNISKILLEN COMIC FEST?


On Saturday 6th May I'll be attending my first ever comic con.  Yes at the ripe old age of 39 I've left it long enough haven't I?  The thing is, when I was younger there weren't that many comics conventions anywhere in the UK, never mind over here in Northern Ireland, where the troubles may have been in their final years but were still keeping away such things.  These days not only is this part of the island a world apart from that I grew up in, now a hive of activity for tourists and big events, but there seems to be comics events nearly every week somewhere across the UK!

I wasn't able to make last year's Enniskillen Comic Fest, but this year I'll be there with bells on for the big main day and I can't wait!  For starters I'll finally be able to meet the one-and-only Lew Stringer of Oink! fame, as well as catch-up with Davy Francis and a whole bunch of great 2000AD fans I used to go drinking with on a regular basis, including event organiser Paul Trimble who should really be commended for what he's done here.  (Guys and gals, now that I'm back in the Judge Dredd game with the Complete Case Files I'll have to make it a regular thing again after the comic fest!)



Anyway, last year's was a resounding success, with large crowds attending and a host of top comics talent from the vibrant scene we have today.  As you can see above the guests attending this year are an exciting bunch!  The main convention is on the Saturday and is completely free to enter, with the guests signing and sketching throughout the day.  There'll also be panel discussions and interviews, small press publishers (which I'm excited to see more of!) and exhibitors, as well as the obligatory merchandise and back issue dealers.

Could be an expensive day!


While I'm not going to be there on the Friday night, if you're a fan of 2000AD you should really consider going along to an event which is officially part of the 40th anniversary celebrations this year.  While not run by Rebellion themselves it's been given this status and, again, the guest list is second-to-none.  I've personally become a huge Dredd fan but am starting his tales from the very beginning with the Complete Case Files series of graphic novels rather than the regular weekly comic, so I've decided to skip the Friday and stay in Enniskillen on the Saturday night instead so that I'm in no rush away at the end of the day (the last bus is before the event finishes!  Can't be having that!)

It's also worth noting some local school children will be getting further treats on the Friday afternoon just as they did last year, with some top talent visiting local schools and offering talks and presentations.  Lew spoke about his experience at last year's event on his Blimey blog, including being invited to speak to the children, which you can read all about by clicking right here.  Great to see the younger generation still interested in comics beyond those they've seen adapted to the big screen.


The 2017 Comic Fest will be hosted at the picturesque Enniskillen Castle, only a few minutes away from the main bus station on foot and right smack in the centre of the town with easy access by car and plenty of parking nearby.  It's also just opened a new visitor centre too which will be a centrepiece of the convention; it really does look like a lovely setting for a day out, so get yourself there and join in the fun!  I'll be there with my Oink! Book 1988 to grab a couple of signatures and I'll report back here on the blog next week, but also live throughout the day via Instagram.

Yup, I'll be trying to capture what I can through my iPhone and will be posting loads of photos up on my Instagram account as I go.  If you can't make it and would like to keep up on what's happening (and what I'm getting up to) you can follow me by clicking right here or on the image below:


Hopefully see some of you there and the rest of you online, this day next week!

For more info check out the Enniskillen Comic Fest Facebook page by clicking on their banner below:

Thursday, 27 April 2017

IN MEMORY OF LEO BAXENDALE - ONLINE TRIBUTES

I couldn't let this week's sad news pass without mentioning the online tributes being paid to the immense talent of Leo Baxendale.  He may not have contributed to Oink! but his work was loved by all of us and his influence on the British comics scene is still felt today.

By the time I came to read comics as a child Leo had already moved away from mainstream titles and into the world of self-publishing.  But that doesn't mean I wasn't subjected to his intricate and joke-filled strips thanks to reprint specials, as well as both Big Comic Fortnightly and Funny Fortnightly.  His style was often copied (sometimes by request of publishers like D.C. Thomson and IPC/Fleetway) but nothing can compare to the sublime artwork of his originals, chock-full of extra little details that would surprise the eye on each subsequent reading.

There have been a few lovingly written tributes already and below are links to those from Lew Stringer on his Blimey blog and John Freeman across at his Down the Tubes site:



Leo influenced many of the cartoonists I grew up with in the pages of Oink! and elsewhere and Lew and John expertly sum up his work, his character and his legacy in beautifully worded, personal tributes.  Each also contains further lists to other tributes from many across the industry who have taken to their keyboards to express their sadness at his passing, but also to celebrate the archive of work he leaves behind.

Please take a while to journey through these websites and blogs and remember a unique talent in the long and rich history of British comics.

Leo's Nellyphant from Buster comic, as seen by by younger
self in the pages of Funny Fortnightly

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

THE EVER-EVOLVING BRITISH COMICS INDUSTRY

During Christmas 2015 I wrote up a rather lengthy post about my observations of the UK comics industry and how, contrary to some people's 'alternative facts', it was very much alive and enjoying success as it continued to evolve in the modern world.  It may be a completely different beast compared to what many of us grew up with, but that could be said of our own childhood comics compared to those our parents may have read.  Just as the music industry has changed so much, just as the TV industry is changing, so too are comics.  Just as I said at the time the UK industry is leading the way and I'm very happy to see this still being reported in the wider comics press.

All the proof you need is right there in the world of new graphic novels, new digital comics, new small press titles... new, new, new...  The tired old arguments apparently still pop up, devoid of any facts and still pushing the excuse that just because it's different than the comics industry of old that must mean it's dead.  By that regard so are the music and TV industries.  Foolish, isn't it?  But they're in the minority and you can read exactly how I feel by clicking here to read that old post, which I was thrilled to see shared on large comics sites and social media at the time.  But back to the present and the reason for this post.

Now it's the turn of Broken Frontier, the superb comics news site established way back in 2002, packed to the brim with writers from across the world with a particular desire to read and enjoy independent and creator-owned titles.  Andy Oliver is one such contributor and has written a piece on the British comics industry, using appropriate terminology in the headline which should strike a chord with fans of a certain British TV show:


Expertly put and an interesting read, click on the picture above or right here to go and read Andy's article, then go and check out Oink! writer and cartoonist Lew Stringer's take on this on his Blimey! blog too.  Both pieces do a superb job of summing up the modern UK industry, how exciting it is, the vast volume available out there now and how much is constantly being crafted.

One word of warning though, you may want to hide your credit card/debit card/Apple Pay app or whatever you use to buy your comics before clicking on the links above.  This could get expensive!

Monday, 10 April 2017

ROLL UP! ROLL UP! GET YOUR RIBS TICKLED HERE!


Oink!s for sale after a mysterious post about the future of the blog?  No, don't be assuming the worst, I'm not selling my collection!  In fact, in order to complete my collection of all the regular issues I ended up with some doubles which I've now decided to put on eBay.

- 19 OINK!S AND THE FIRST 3 ISSUES OF BUSTER & OINK! UP FOR SALE -

A mix of fortnightly and weeklies are up now along with the first issues of the merge with Buster and, unlike some sellers who are trying to ask for extortionate prices for each and every issue, I've started each issue at £2.00 and in the auction format, so it's up to the bidders how much they wish to pay.  I'll happily post to anywhere in the world and each listing has a link back to that edition's post here on the blog to find out more about that issue.  Also, there's detailed descriptions on the condition of each and every issue.  While the majority are in excellent condition, there's a few where there might be some reading wear from the 80s, or a crease or two, or even a form filled out inside.  If this is the case you can be assured I've mentioned it so you know exactly what you'll be getting (if only everyone did this on eBay when I'm the one buying!)

Click on the logo above or right here and you'll be taken to the complete list of items I have up for sale (depending when you do this you may need to scroll down to find the Oink!s) and as of the time of writing I've got a ton of other non-Oink! stuff to come over the next few weeks too.  The list will be constantly updating with more comics (like Big Comic Fortnightly and Funny Fortnightly), books, DVDs and much more covering everything from retro gaming to James Bond, Knight Rider, 2000AD, Apple stuff, Transformers, Ghostbusters and much, much more (even Harry Hill!).  Yes, these are all things I love but it's a case of maybe having more than one copy of something or I've upgraded to Blu Ray in the case of the DVDs... stuff like that.

Finally, as a reader of the blog you'll instantly be given 10% off the total auction price of anything you buy.  All you have to do is send me a message (or request an invoice) after the auctions you're interested in are over and quote 'OI! GIMME MY 10% OFF FOR READING THE OINK! BLOG' and I'll invoice you with the discount.

See you all soon right back here folks, with a brand new logo ("oooh...?")  and more news soon!


Saturday, 8 April 2017

"GREAT NEWS FOR ALL READERS!"

No, no I mean it, it's good news!  I'm not about to shut down the blog or merge it into my personal one and make out like it's the best idea since sliced bread, like how all those classic comics would advertise their final issues.  Nope, but the blog is expanding beyond its original remit.  There'll be more details soon when it's ready to relaunch, but as a pig pal myself I'm definitely excited, especially as it means there'll be a whole wave of new content to come!

Check back soon to see what's happening...

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

BEYOND OINK!: COMBAT COLIN'S 30TH ANNIVERSARY!


Oh my word, now I feel old!  Back in late 1988 I started collecting the superlative The Transformers from Marvel UK... or rather, to give it its full title 'The Transformers and Action Force' seeing as how Marvel's other action weekly had come to an end with its 50th issue and they still had a hell of a lot of American G.I. Joe (which was changed to 'Action Force' in the UK) being created, as it'd proven much more popular on the other side of the planet than here.  AF had already been in the TF comic for about fifty issues by the time I came on board and they'd brought with them Lew Stringer's excellent Combat Colin humour strip.

For the remainder of The Transformers, Colin and his sidekick Semi-Automatic Steve would grace us with half- and full-page strips every single issue which without fail raised a smile, but more-often-then-not straight out belly laughs were the order of the day (and even included a cameo from Tom Thug in the background once).  After the comic was cancelled with its 332nd issue Lew asked for the rights to the character and Marvel agreed, which has been brilliant for us fans as he keeps popping up now-and-again, both in some special issues a good while back and more recently in Aces Weekly with brand new material.


Lew has also recently announced he'll be collecting together all of the Marvel UK strips into an ongoing series of reprint comics, beginning sometime this year with the premiere issue containing all of the AF strips in one volume.  Personally I can't wait as I never did collect that title and so this will all be brand new material for the most part for me!  Saying that, I'll also collect the other issues (even though I have the TF run all here on a shelf next to me) to support one of my very favourite cartoonists of all time and also to have all of the strips in one collection.  It'll be a brilliantly fun read and I'll no doubt cover it on the blog when it's released.

He may not have been an Oink! character but Lew was one of the top contributors to our favourite comic and two publications Combat Colin has featured in have already featured on the blog.  These were namely the aforementioned The Transformers and Lew's own Brickman strips as a guest character and as a back-up strip in the Brickman Returns special small-press release in 2015.  He's well known to a lot of pig pals as he was in the UK's top-selling comic of the time after all and over the years has become a fan favourite, with Lew himself confirming he's his own personal favourite and is still much requested for sketches at comic cons!

Lew's written a blog post on his Blimey! blog to celebrate Colin's 30th anniversary of that first Action Force appearance and on a day full of doom and gloom and Brexit-ing why don't you head on over there to join in the festivities.  Just click on Lew's logo below and then you can click on any of the covers/logos below that when you return, to read up on the other comics he brought so much joy to.

Happy birthday Colin!




Monday, 27 February 2017

BEYOND OINK!: NEW BOOK (or A WILDCAT AMONGST THE PIGEONS)

Back in 2015 I ran a series of posts over six months called Beyond Oink! which took a look at the other main comics I collected as a kid and teen after the piggy publication first introduced me to them.  I was thrilled with the feedback I received from both fellow readers and the people within the UK comics industry who had worked on them.  But sometimes we forget these posts are still there to read and recently I was very pleasantly surprised as a result of the post about the classic comic Wildcat.

As a fan of both of these comics it's a thrill to be writing this post

Some of the comics I collected back then may not have lasted too long but that doesn't mean they were in any way of a lesser quality.  The comics industry was going through a crash at the time and some amazing creations were unfortunate casualties, which I mentioned on more than one occasion during that series of posts.  Fleetway in particular produced a hugely varied range of stunning British strips in both originated and licenced comics.  The quality of the writing and art in these titles has got to be seen to be believed and are well worth hunting down today on eBay and the like.  The two comics above, Wildcat and Ring Raiders are perfect examples, with the former running to 12 issues and some specials, the latter only to 6 and one special to finish off the stories.

Wildcat's story was immense in its formation with the destruction of Earth and the exploration of a possible new world.  Each story centred on one party's attempts on the surface of the world, backed up by a series of complete stories set aboard Wildcat itself which ranged from social commentary to horror.  Unfortunately it was released at a time when comics were already struggling and by the time Ring Raiders came along the market was in an even worse state!  'Raiders was based on the Matchbox toys of the same name which we ran around "flying" on our fingers and which seemed set to be the next big thing with everything from a cartoon series to vast amounts of collectible merchandise in the works.  Unfortunately that never happened despite their huge success the one Christmas they did fill the shelves of our toy shops.  The comic produced wonderful characterisation and action from these little plastic planes and by the end of the short run it was clear a complex history and epic storylines were being curated and would've been explored if it hadn't been cancelled.

BARRIE TOMLINSON

So anyway, recently on Twitter the superb account called Great News For All Readers posted a cover from Wildcat on the day of its original release, something they do quite a lot for comics from across the wide spectrum of UK titles:

A great Twitter account to follow (click to enlarge)

I just had to reply of course!  I linked to the Wildcat post, not to self-publicise but because there's still not really anything else about this wonderful comic online, which is a crime, so I thought followers may like to see more of the fantastic work produced.  I was beyond thrilled to receive a reply from Barrie Tomlinson after he'd read my post, who turned out to be the editor of Wildcat!  Not only Wildcat, but of Ring Raiders too!  I couldn't believe it and we set about chatting a little.  As it turns out Barrie is putting the finishing touches to a new book about his time in the UK comics biz working on titles like the aforementioned two, Tiger, Scream, Battle, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles Adventures (another covered during Beyond Oink!), Toxic Crusaders, new Eagle, Mask and others, as well as annuals including Big Daddy, Geoff Boycott and Suzanne Dando.  Barrie also wrote and produced the Scorer strip for the Daily Mirror for twenty-two years, six days a week and was in charge of Roy of the Rovers which he's already covered in book form.

That's one hell of a career.

COMIC BOOK HERO

Barrie (left) with footballer Malcolm MacDonald
taking a look at an issue of Tiger

The book is to be titled Comic Book Hero and will include many tales of working on all of these great publications.  For example, with Tiger there's chat about all the celebrities who were involved with the comic, including lots of photographs to go alongside them.  Also, the cover is a new piece by David Sque and features Hot-Shot Hamish, Billy Dane from Billy's Boots, Skid Solo, Roy of the Rovers and Johnny Cougar.

Due for release in September from Pitch Publishing it's sure to be an essential read for fans of any of the many comics Barrie's worked on, or even for anyone with an interest in the UK comics scene of those times.  I'll definitely be picking it up so you can expect it to be covered in depth here on The Oink! Blog.

Barrie's book is eagerly anticipated!

I'm currently putting together some questions about Wildcat and Ring Raiders which Barrie has graciously agreed to answer this week.  These will be for the blog and will form two special posts nearer the time of the release of Comic Book Hero, but in the meantime Barrie has already given me some great information about the creation of Wildcat which I'll be adding to that Beyond Oink! post this week, so watch out for news of an update in a day or two.

So stay tuned for further information on the release later in the year, but if you're a fan of Roy of the Rovers you can click here to purchase Barrie's previous book.

To go and have a look at the complete Beyond Oink! series you can click here, or to read specifically about Barrie's titles you can choose from the links here:
Wildcat
Ring Raiders
Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles Adventures

Finally, if you're on Twitter click here to follow Great News for all Readers, or you can always see the same covers on their website here instead.

From one hugely excited fan to hopefully many more, I'll see you soon!