Ogri – a hero for our times

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If you’re reading this in the UK, you ride motorcycles and you’re anything above 30 years old, you’ll need no introduction to Ogri.

Drawn by illustrator Paul Sample, and inspired by real events and real bikers he knew and rode with, Ogri strips ran in Bike Magazine in the UK from the 1970s until 2008 when Bike decided that a greasy biker who had a dodgy relationship with the cops might not chime with its modern readers – older, professional men running about on things costing the same as a small house.

To the rescue came the chopper/custom bike magazine Back Street Heroes, which ran the strip until this year when, after being constantly in print for more than three decades, Ogri’s weekly adventures disappeared.

Lantern-jawed, hard-drinking, super fast and mesmerically attractive to women, Ogri was the biker we all wanted to be. On his 1000cc “Norvin”, named Armageddon, there was nobody he could not beat. He was the personification of the idea that it wasn’t about the bike, but the rider. The natural enemy of the “all the gear, no idea” biker.

Moreover, the strips were deliciously complex. The main action was centre stage, but the level of background detail meant there were always dozens of other things going on if you looked hard enough. No Ogri strip was complete without a few sub plots in the corners of the drawings, often involving cats, dogs, worms, police officers or, occasionally, extra terrestrials.

Ogri wasn’t politically correct, but he was also anything but offensive. He was the champion of the little guy, the underdog. Often, without being overtly political, the strips included wry satire on the issues of the day.

18302066a2917539161b91755750lThe character, and his trusty dog Kickstart (and useless friend Malcolm) were so loved over the years they spawned endless fan groups. There is an Ogri MCC and the biking actor Ewan McGregor is a big fan, often wearing an Ogri leather jacket he bought from Sample on eBay.

Paul Sample is now trying to bring out a complete Ogri book – a single edition containing every strip he’s done. To do so he’s launched a “Kickstarter” campaign to raise £30,000. The idea is simple – pledge what you can, however small or large. Your pledge won’t be taken as money unless the entire amount is raised and the project goes ahead. If it fails to hit its target, you pay nothing at all.

But there’s a quid pro quo here. The way the campaign works is you have to get something back for your money, so a small donation might get you a mention in the book, whereas a large enough one will get you a personalised, limited edition hardback. There are dozens of other things to be had.

I grew up with Ogri, and I miss him. In a world of ABS, cornering traction control, £20,000 motorcycles and bike kit which costs the same as the monthly mortgage repayments, I miss a fella with a battered leather jacket who did his own spannering and then beat everyone else in to the dust…on his way to the pub…whilst smoking.

If you do too, have a look at Paul’s Sample’s Ogri page on Facebook and perhaps sign up for the newsletter (at the top). If you are also able to chip in to the campaign, all the better. You can do that here – http://www.ogri-book.co.uk/Page2.html

Let’s give Ogri another lease of life – biking needs him now more than ever…

Here’s the FB link: https://www.facebook.com/OgriCartoon

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