Ogri – Original and Best

Book review: Ogri – Original and Best

(All the originals from Paul’s spare room)

When Jonathan Boorstein reviews Motolit and Culture for the hallowed pages of The Rider’s Digest Live, I can only stare in slack jawed awe at the eloquent prose and erudite reflections that seem to flow effortlessly from his keyboard.

So when I was asked to review a book based on motorcycling folklore, I accepted the invite with some trepidation.

I needn’t have worried though, as the book in question is the latest compilation from the pen of the legendary cartoonist Paul Sample.

You may recall my visit to the BlackShed Gallery near Hastings in East Sussex earlier this year where an exhibition of Sample’s ‘Lost Originals’ were displayed for several weeks, prompting the release of this compendium of those very cartoon strips and more; each one a work of art in its own right.

Having been a fan of Ogri since perusing my cousin’s copies of ‘Bike’ magazine in the early 70s at the age of 14, I feel like I have done sufficient research to enable me to compose a reasonable review of this collection of ‘lost’ classics.

Let’s face it, pretty well everyone associated with motorcycling loves Ogri, and those that don’t clearly have no soul.

So for me, reviewing this book is akin to shooting fish in a barrel.

This collection covers Ogri strips, most of which were published in ‘Bike’ magazine from 2004-2009, and then ‘Back Street Heroes’ from 2010 for a further two years.

The compilation contains a few early treasures, including the story of motorcycle reviewer ‘Ernest Thrasher’, which neither mentions nor features Ogri, but our hero gets underway with cartoon no. 14, in which the hapless Malcolm is sold a new bike by an unscrupulous dealer.

Among the previously unpublished strips is one entitled ‘Out to Lunch with Rodney Reason’ – you might not want to show it to your maiden aunt; which could explain why it never found its way into the back pages of ‘Bike’.

The rest of the regular characters are of course featured among the 102 rediscovered originals in the book too, including Mitzi, Kickstart and of course Nerg Nail.

So it’s all good then. But there are one or two drawbacks if (like me) you’re of a certain age.

This book has been put together with mail order in mind, in what’s been described as ‘a lightweight, letterbox-friendly’ format. Which while being an environmentally sound principle, means that to read all the dialogue (which of course includes all the background action) you will need your reading glasses, a good light and possibly even a magnifying glass, as many of the A4 size pages feature two strips, side by side.

But don’t let that put you off. You will want to read every word and study every frame in this book, and it’s quite possible that you might not want to put it down until you’ve devoured it from cover to cover; including the two last strips, which have also never been previously published.       

‘Ogri – Original and Best’ – All the lost originals from Paul’s spare room’ is due to be published on 5th November 2021, and is available for a cover price of £15 (just in time for Christmas!) along with other ‘Team Ogri’ merchandise from the website.

Martin Haskell


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