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!