The original cafe racer cartoon hero is pulling on his boots for one last great ride. Ogri, the legendary character created in 1967 by British illustrator Paul Sample, is the subject of a huge book of collected strips due for release next year - and the star of a Kickstarter campaign aiming to raise the funds needed to print it.
At a massive 440+ pages, The Ogri Compendium will bring together every single surviving Ogri cartoon strip - including several never before published - plus extra material, including interviews and history. The strip first appeared in the short-lived ‘Chopper’ magazine, but quickly found a regular home in the radical lifestyle-oriented ‘Bike’ magazine, running from 1972 right up until 2013 - a near-unbroken run of over forty years in a single title, making this one of the longest-running cartoon strips ever.
"I've got better at drawing over the years”, says Paul, and bringing all the strips together in one place does really show how his style has evolved during the decades since he first doodled a clean-shaven, golden-locked dude in one of his college sketchbooks. Ogri’s barely aged in all that time, and his old-school rocker dress sense (plus, of course, signature winged helmet), has stayed just as retro as his attitude to authority and idiots. His mighty Norvin, ‘Armageddon’, has also endured. As materials and print technology have evolved, though, the tight black-and-white line of early strips gave way to a banging use of colour that ventures firmly into psychedelia and stays there. Groovy.
Looking at Paul’s work, the names of James Gillray and Robert Crumb inevitably spring to mind. Like both these great graphic artists, his characters are so full of life that they leap off the page - and the background detail means that a six-panel joke can have you studying its frames for far longer than is reasonable. Unstoppable Ogri, together with his busty, ball-breaking girlfriend Mitzi, hopeless but ever-willing cousin Malcolm, and faithful companion Kickstart the Dog, are characters from cafe racer history we all need to know.
As well as hardback and softback copies of the book, the publishers have put together a one-time-only selection of rewards - including the chance to meet Paul at the Ace Cafe London’s ‘Triton and Cafe Racer Day’ next year. Check out the Kickstarter campaign or sign up to the Team Ogri mailing list. Kickstarter campaign closes midnight GMT on Sunday November 30th.
-Claire Leavey (Guest Contributer)