Monday, 23 April 2018

HAPPY 5TH ANNIVERSARY AND (ALMOST) 32ND BIRTHDAY!

This Thursday 26th April 2018 it'll be exactly 32 years since the preview issue of the world's greatest ever comic peered out from inside the piggy pink plastic bags that week's issues of Buster, Eagle and Tiger and Whizzer & Chips came in:


But today also sees the fifth anniversary of this very blog and to celebrate I'd like to welcome any new readers joining us from the just-launched, brand new Oink! Blog and Beyond accounts on both Twitter and Instagram.  Howdy folks!  The blog really has grown in leaps and bounds in ways I never would've thought imaginable when I first started it with that very first post, and there's big plans to come this year and I thought I'd finally let you in on some of them.


OINK!

Oink!-wise itself the new social media accounts will be marking the dates of each issue all over again on the dates of their original releases and pointing to their write-ups here on the blog every fortnight. There's also going to be additional blog posts with insights and behind-the-scenes information, photographs and anecdotes collected over the past five years which will get coverage on specific dates.  For many of these it'll be the first time they've seen publication anywhere!

There's new comics from David Leach and Lew Stringer to look forward to this year, as well as write-ups about previous releases not yet covered.  There's also going to be a new series taking a closer look at the websites of Oink!'s writers and cartoonists, as well as the sites and work of key pig pals who grew up on the antics of Uncle Pigg et all and who then went on to successful careers in the UK comics biz and beyond.

On top of this will be a new focus on all the latest news surrounding the Oink! team and their new creative ventures, so if you're pining for new material from "Britain's Best" then subscribe to the blog, or follow on the aforementioned social media!


BEYOND OINK!

For those new readers joining us, back in 2015 when my coverage of each issue of Oink! went monthly (the comic had, I wasn't just getting lazy) I decided to fill the gaps with a fortnightly series of posts detailing the other titles I collected regularly in the 80s and 90s after Oink! had introduced me to the awesome world of comics.  While attending the Enniskillen Comic Fest last year it came to me how the blog had reignited my passion for these classic comics and their specific modern day counterparts and so the blog had the words "and Beyond" added to the title and I began drawing up plans to expand it.  You can read the original Beyond Oink! series by clicking here and see what all the fuss was about in sunny Enniskillen by clicking here.

The fantastic Ring Raiders has mostly been covered (click here to see the series from the beginning) with a few final posts still to come though, Big Comic had its first book unwrapped on Christmas Day last year and Marvel UK's The Transformers is currently being subjected to a photographic showing off on my own personal Instagram, with monthly round-ups right here on the blog.  It's been a good start and I've really been enjoying it but it's time to crank it up a gear.

Above are some titles you'll be seeing more of as this year continues (Ghostbusters Answer the Call has already joined the Oink! cast here) and there's others which are figuratively waiting in the wings but there'll be more on them soon.

NEXT UP

Alongside the regular posts returning (having taken a bit of a back seat while I prepared for something in my personal life and to have a large supply of fresh writings after the new social media accounts began) I've also been hard at work on the new sections on the blog to go alongside the Relive Oink! one you can see alongside Home and About under the logo, for all of the 'Beyond' comics covered already and those yet to come.

Busy times and I couldn't be happier with how this wee site has evolved naturally up to this point.  Now it's time to grab it by the trotters and take it beyond what I ever could've foreseen five years ago.  Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

BIG DAY COMING...

Hi all.  There's a couple of posts that were due this week which will be delayed a little, but there's a good reason and it's an exciting one!  Well, a couple of reasons.  One is something I'm working towards in my private life and if it pans out I'll share it with you, but as far as the blog goes there's something rather big coming up!

I only realised a few weeks ago that next Monday, 23rd April 2018, is the fifth anniversary of this blog!  I can't believe it.  A full five years.  While the blog was shut down for a bit in 2016 it's still a big achievement for me, right up there with completing the original idea of covering every regular issue of Oink! every fortnight/week/month.  On the one hand the time seems to have flown in, on the other it's hard to imagine my life not involving this site.  You know what I mean?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO... UM... ME, I GUESS?

So with the fifth birthday approaching what can you expect?  Well, as members of the Facebook group will attest I've recently announced I'll be deleting my Facebook account due to the recent revelations in the news (and personal research) but that was never going to be the end of my time in the social media sty!  I'd been planning new outlets to expand Oink!'s online presence further for a while and what I could do with possible additional Twitter and Instagram accounts:



It's all come together perfectly for the anniversary, so on Monday 23rd April the new accounts will start to officially post, though they are ready to be followed now by searching 'TheOinkBlog' on both services.  At the time of writing this the Instagram account has around 50 followers and the Twitter one has a whopping 200+ already after only a few days of it being online but not actually posting yet (mainly thanks to cartoonist Jamie Smart posting about the comic and tagging the blog).  So, I've decided the posts that were due last week and this week will be held back until after the anniversary so that there's a steady stream of posts for the new social media pigs to share (plus it'll give me the chance to work on this personal thing, which is due on Monday too).

So see you all then, both here and hopefully on social media too when they'll kick off!

Thursday, 12 April 2018

BEING FRANK: THE MOVIE: THE RELEASE: THE UPDATE

On 29th November 1986 Oink! readers (of which I had been for only two previous issues) welcomed to the pages of their favourite comic a certain celebrity from children's television:

Click the comic to see highlights and Frank's
first appearance

No, of course I don't mean the late and very, very great George Michael, but Frank Sidebottom, who would prove to be no less "fantastic" in issue after issue of inspired, hand-drawn and felt-tip-coloured strips by his creator, the man behind the papier-mâché mask, Chris Sievey.  Back in June 2015 I wrote a small post to commemorate the five-year anniversary of Chris' passing and in it went into more detail of my own memories of the character on TV and in the pages of Oink!, as well as how his unfortunate passing brought Oink! back into my life again for the first time in many years.

He was the megastar of his own making, embracing a very British form of celebrity lifestyle in his comic strips and in character, exaggerating to great comic effect his status within the music and showbiz worlds.  But today not only do we have a Holywood film inspired by the way he lived his life, but now the eagerly anticipated documentary film Being Frank has finally been completed and is nearing release.

Photo courtesy of Karin Albinsson of VIVA Lifestyle magazine

The film saw its premiere take place in Texas recently at the SXSW (South By South West) film festival and its creator, award-winning filmmaker and former collaborator with Chris, Steve Sullivan couldn't be happier with its reception.  Work began on the film six years ago, was quickly crowdfunded through Kickstarter and for anyone who signed up to email updates there's been a steady stream of teasing messages from Steve ever since.  Our very own Oink! co-creator/co-editor Patrick Gallagher is in the movie too in a section all about Chris' work on the comic and I've seen one small photograph of Patrick in his basement surrounded by his work, including copies of Oink! everywhere.  Exciting stuff so it's been an agonising wait.

But now it's here at last.  Or at least it will be.  Details on a UK release both in cinemas and for the home market through disc and digital are still to come but you can be assured that as soon as they do you'll find out about it here.  Of course, just waiting around here would do a disservice to the movie's website, where you can check out more details on the film, other contributors and its premiere.  Just click on the film poster below and off you go.  While there make sure to sign up for the newsletter and if you'd like to see the previous updates you can click here, and there's also a Twitter feed too.


From the website:

"Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story is the official documentary about maverick Manchester comedian Frank Sidebottom and the life and art of his hidden creator, Chris Sievey.  Frank Sidebottom, remembered fondly as the man with the papier-mâché head, was the court jester of the Manchester music and comedy scene for over 25 years, but only a privileged few knew the man inside.  Being Frank tells a twisted tale of split personalities - a suburban superhero with a fanatical desire to preserve the myth he created, and eventually having to battle against being consumed by his alter ego."

Saturday, 7 April 2018

SHELL-EBRATE EASTER WITH TOM THUG

Do you know how tortured my brain became there, trying to think of a slightly more original pun that didn't use the word 'egg'?  Anyway, back to the topic at hand:


As regular readers will know, when Oink! ceased publication with #68 three of its characters transitioned themselves over to fellow Fleetway comic, Buster.  Namely they were Weedy Willy and two of Lew Stringer's creations, Pete and his Pimple and Tom Thug.  Tom would prove so popular with the readers of the long-running comic that not only was he the only one of the three to make it past six months in the pages of Buster, but he stayed within those pages right up to its final issue.

While the final few years of the title were made up of nothing but reprints, up until mid-1996 Lew kept beavering away on brand new Tom Thug, so there's a wealth of unseen Thuggish behaviour out there to clap our eyes on, if like me you've only read the Oink! strips.  With the Easter holidays just coming to an end I came back from my fortnight of cat-sitting out in the country to find Lew had actually shared one such strip on his own personal blog:


The Easter 1990 issue was quite a special one, it being the first to go full colour.  Even better, Tom was one of the few strips which became fully hand painted and it just looks gorgeous.

So click right here to head on over to Lew's blog and read another one of Tom's adventures not previously seen before on this blog, and which has escaped me all these years!

Thursday, 5 April 2018

TRANSFORMERS INSTAGRAM: MONTH #7 of 77

<< GO TO MONTH 6


Welcome back to my photographic trip down memory lane as I snap away at my Marvel UK Transformers comics collection from the 1980s and 90s, each issue getting the Austin Powers studio treatment on the date of their original release over on Instagram, then rounded up here on a monthly basis on the first Thursday of each month.  Last month we finished off with that superb 50th issue, with its conclusion to the Dinobot Hunt and a glorious painted cover from John Higgins.  How could they possibly top that?

Well, the British strip creators took a well-earned rest after that!  Okay, not really, they were always beavering away on their next stories but it was time to reacquaint ourselves with the American writers and artists for a bit.  The return of Megatron was obviously the highlight in some surprisingly character-driven tales, but there were also the introduction of a new human government operation, a giant cover-up, brand new Autobots to welcome from the toy shelves into the comic universe and the completion of the defection of Jetfire.  Quite the month!

On top of all that there were no less than five Saturdays that March (correlating with Thursdays in 2018) so clap your eyes on this lot and roll out!

ISSUE 51
1st March 1986


#51: He's back!  After being forced off a snowy cliff by the Dinobots back in #26 it looks like it's all melted and Megatron's gone for a long coast down the river.  Discovered by a down-and-out crook who thinks he's won the jackpot, cue a confused 'bot, some exposition for new readers and a massive crime spree.  It'll end in tears this will.

The Robotix, a toy line that only made it as far as a pilot movie and a one-off comic in the US is the new backup, Robo Capers has gone all Jackson Pollock (Lew has confirmed something went wrong at the printers which cancelled out all of the black) and there's news of a free Panini sticker album!!  That was always big news!

Cover by Geoff Senior
Shooting Star!: Part One pencils by Don Perlin, inks by Al Gordon and colours by New Yomtov
Robotix: A World in Chaos art by Herb Trimpe with colours by New Yomtov

ISSUE 52
8th March 1986


#52: 32 years ago on the date this issue went up on Instagram Megatron stopped being a mindless drone to the petty criminal with a heart who, after some soul-searching, turns himself in as the former Decepticon leader returns to the fight.  As a kid I somehow never found it weird how a gun used by a human could transform into a giant robot, but now I certainly do.

(Watch the DVD/BluRay extras for the first of Michael Bay's movies to see the genius they hired to make sure all the vehicles chosen could actually transform into robots of the right size without such mass-shifting.  Fascinating stuff.)

The famous Transformers A-Z series was yet to surface so there's an 'Interface' by the UK team instead and news of the latest Hasbro toys to be released and turned into comicbook characters to come the following week.

Cover by Don Perlin and Al Gordon
Shooting Star!: Part Two pencils by Don Perlin, inks by Al Gordon and colours by New Yomtov

ISSUE 53
15th March 1986


#53: The day of this issue's release must've been a big deal to Transformers fans in the UK!  No less than five brand new Autobots made their debut, much to the delight of toy shops and the horror of parents' wallets everywhere.  Plus Jetfire's defection was finally complete on the dramatic first page of the new US story.

All these new robots meant the Autobot Who's Who needed two issues compared to the Decepticons' one and the comic finally remembered to credit the amazing work of the cover artists.  I've gone back and added these credits to all of those issues too.

Cover by Robin Smith
Rock and Roll-Out!: Part One pencils by Don Perlin, inks by Al Gordon and colours by Nel Yomtov

ISSUE 54
22nd March 1986


#54: The hottest news for Transformers fans in the UK was the upcoming combining toys, the Special Teams!  Unfortunately I don't have the preview of them which came as a free gift with this issue, but suffice to say the comic really would make a big deal about these characters and as a kid I couldn't blame them; the toys ruled!

This issue has everything: cloak and dagger government agencies, subtle humour hitting the mark and who doesn't love seeing how an artist would show a Transformer actually transform in a still picture?

Part two of the Autobots roundup, a hint of a new backup that should garner interest from Guardians of the Galaxy fans and for Lew Stringer's birthday at the time of the Instagram post here's his 'latest' Robo Capers, with a joke Lew says he must've really liked, seeing as how he'd kind of reuse it in Combat Colin (which you can see if you buy #2 of that title folks!).

Cover by Bob Budiansky and Mike Esposito
Rock and Roll-Out!: Part One pencils by Don Perlin, inks by Al Gordon and colours by Nel Yomtov

ISSUE 55
29th March 1986


#55: On social media it appears every Thursday is "#ThrowbackThursday", when people share old photos.  Well, these may be new photos but I'm using the hashtag anyway for these classic 32-year-old comics, including this one with a rather clever cover from Herb Trimpe (edited by the British team to match their layouts) and inside it's all glorious government conspiracies and craven Megatrons!

The government is using a washed out comics writer to trick the public into thinking all Transformers are dangerous and under the control of a homegrown terrorist, but even crazier than that is the first UK appearance of Rocket Raccoon as the new backup.

He introduces us to his otter love, psychotic clowns (I know one or two people who wouldn't be able to read this because of these) and ninja rabbits amongst others in some crazy and hugely enjoyable randomness.  My fave Dinobot also gets the fact-file treatment in one helluva good issue.

Cover by Herb Trimpe
I, Robot-Master!: Part One pencils by Don Perlin, inks by Keith Williams and colours by Nel Yomtov
Rocket Raccoon: Animal Crackers pencils by Mike Mignola, inks by Al Gordon and colours by Christie Scheele


On my Instagram account that last post finished with the words, "Look out for TWO issues in 7 days!" and that's certainly the case because the next week saw not only the next issue of the regular comic, but also the third Collected Comics special.  Which story got the reprint treatment in full-colour for the first time?  Well as luck would have it you can find out by going to my Instagram right now because this roundup has, as always, come to the blog on the same date as the new month's first photos have gone live.  So go and check out the two updates over there right now!

Of course, if you're reading this at a later date just hit the "GO TO MONTH 8 >>" link which should appear to the bottom-right of this paragraph from about this time next month.

Until then.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

JAMIE SMART'S LOOSHKIN GEARS UP FOR A NEW BOOK

Having just returned home after two weeks of cat-sitting a friend's crazy little feline, it feels highly appropriate that I should bring you news of what promises to be a hugely entertaining book about a similar pet, albeit to the nth degree:


For the uninitiated Looshkin's creator is Jamie Smart, a simply superb cartoonist working in the industry whose work has featured in Beano, Dandy, Toxic, Doctor Who Adventures and The Phoenix amongst many others.  That latter publication is the home of this particular blue cat, described on Amazon thusly:

"Looshkin is the maddest cat in the world!  You may think your cat is mad, but they've got nothing on Looshkin.  Leave him for just a moment and you'll find that your house has flooded, a steam train has smashed into your living room and a portal to another dimension has opened in your loft.  And everything is covered in bees.  And there are sirens.  Looshkin, what have you done?!"

The hyperactive cat's strips in The Phoenix have been a hit with the young audience, as well as many of those readers' parents if the comments on Twitter are anything to go by!  (Not that I have the excuse of having kids.)  Across his many varied characters and strips Jamie's artwork is always hilariously chaotic, each and every panel filled with an energy that makes them feel almost animated on the static page.  Check out his Monkey vs Bunny or my own personal favourite Whubble (another cat) for some superb examples to see what I mean, with plenty of more on his website, Fumboo.

I've only ever read a few Looshkin strips, ones shared by Jamie himself on Twitter, so I'm thrilled to learn there's a book due for arrival on 3rd May this year, as announced by the man himself:


Jamie's enthusiasm is infectious and I've got mine on pre-order already.  All it took was knowing who the creator was and the couple of photos he's tweeted!  Guaranteed to be a laugh-out-loud experience:


Check out the Looshkin section of Jamie's site and you'll be pre-ordering your copy too.  While you're scooting about the internet why not check out The Phoenix while you're at it.

One of Jamie's comics back when he was a young reader was our one-and-only piggy pink Oink!, which he's stated before was an inspiration in the development of his (outstanding) talent.  He's even a member of the Oink! Facebook group.  Indeed, if Oink! were to reappear today this is one cartoonist who'd surely be a shoo-in for inclusion.  Check out Jamie's free online Moose Kids Comic to see exactly what I mean, it really is the closest you'll get to a brand new Oink! for the time being!

Finally, are you aware of Find Chaffy?  You soon will be after I write up a fantastic Kickstarter of Jamie's I backed a few months ago, so check back here soon.  Just as soon as I can find mine: