Lew Stringer brings us what would ultimately be his final OiNK cover, not that anyone knew this at the time of course. Tom Thug’s threat has the shine taken away by the good dog on the page with him, all of which could take our attention away from the fact the comic had gone back up to its pre-weekly (and pre-page-reduction) price of 35p. This made OiNK 7p more expensive than its Fleetway Publication peers, who also had 8 more pages. Today, I know this all sounds like it shouldn’t matter but back when most of us received 50p-£1 pocket money a week, this could make all the difference.

But inside OiNK still had plenty of content and to me it still truly felt like better value for money. There’s a wealth of reading material in this issue, including the conclusion to Tom’s Crude Crew story which began in Whizzer and Chips and carried into the two previous issues of OiNK, a superb middle page spread for Dibney World by Simon Thorp, a gorgeous Dead Fred strip (no really) and the return of a favourite character, albeit not in the form I was expecting. First up though, Hieronymous Van Hellsong’s prequel by Jeremy Banx steps up a gear.

As always with this character it’s deliciously dark humour at it finest. Beginning with the nameless executive for who death is just a hurdle to overcome, and then to see Van Hellsong kill himself in order to go to hell to chase down his contract is a bit of a shock. However, all of this dark, twisted humour is perfectly offset by that last panel and his silly realisation, taking us from the dark to the daft in an instant. It’s classic Banx.

“Dibney characters act out historical highlights of US history [such as] The Slave Trade, The Bay of Pigs Crisis [and] Watergate!”

Ron Dibney World, Simon Thorp

Dark humour was something we weren’t normally exposed to as kids and OiNK revelled in it. In fact, Jeremy Banx in particular did, with some hilarious moments in his Burp strips that involved over-the-top gore that was just so ridiculous we never saw it as gore in the first place. His first Van Hellsong mini-series finished with our hero being killed by a notorious butcher villain and turned into a string of linked sausages and used to swing away from the authorities. These were the perfect introduction to black humour for me and many pig pals.

Back in #53 future Viz editor Simon Thorp wrote and drew Outlet-by-the-Sea, a GBH Madvertisement of a shockingly poor holiday destination that poked fun at English seaside resorts. Now he’s back for another, this time a collaboration between GBH and Thomas Crook and it’s bigger and better. Not only is it a double-page spread in the middle of the issue, Simon is taking aim at the biggest and grandest of holiday resorts, Walt Disney World.

The rickety British Rail train is back from Outlet-by-the-Sea too. It must’ve been a favourite of Simon’s. I love the way the ‘Animation Complex’ is the smallest, least impressive building in the whole park which is a dig at Disney World’s priorities. Then we have the large golf ball-like Epcot spoof called ‘Mom’s Apple Pie World’ apparently made in Taiwan, which could either be a silly joke or could very well be making a statement for the older readers, take your pick.

It’s what’s inside this building that I find the funniest and most cutting. We live in the modern world of 2023 where American politicians of a certain type are trying to whitewash (literally) the teaching of American history, so to have something with such a wholesome name as ‘Mom’s Apple Pie World Heritage Trail’ have that list of attractions feels like a particularly contemporary joke. You can clearly see Simon’s later Viz work in its early stages here. I just love it.

Now it’s time to conclude one of our mini-series.

Of course Tom’s scheme had to backfire in spectacular fashion, he’s a bully and bullies always lose after all. So we begin this final episode of Tom Thug and his Crude Crew with the gang all assembled and ready for bovver for the very first time, but by the end of the page it’s already fallen apart and Tom ends up in a very familiar state. The key joke here, played out more than once, is how bullies are all essentially cowards and will always ensure they’re picking on those they believe are less capable of fighting back.

This backfires throughout and each time shows us why everyone loved Tom’s strip, especially when you’re a kid and may have had to deal with bullies yourself. From Braddock trying to steal some grub while Tom and Daisy panic because he hasn’t picked a “wimp” (guest starring Mauler Morrison again from #54), to the crew deciding an infant school is the perfect target, the message is clear. Finally, it’s probably a coincidence but that verbal noise “OWK!” Tom makes when he’s trampled on caught my eye because I see it alternatively as ‘OWK!’ and ‘OINK’!

Whatever name Charlie Brooker gave his chain-smoking victim of The Swinelight Zone has been changed to a more familiar one

This has been a simply brilliant series and I’m sad it’s over but there are plenty of laughs to come from Tom in future issues, particularly in the monthlies if memory serves. Sticking with this issue for now, in The Life and Times of Harry the Head (his first full-page since the weeklies began) we get a little behind-the-scenes look at the making of The OiNK! 45 record and whatever name Charlie Brooker gave his chain-smoking victim of The Swinelight Zone has been changed to a more familiar one.

You can see here that Steve Gibson’s name has been pasted in after the strip was completed. I asked Steve about this and he tells me he used to smoke at the time and fellow cartoonist Marc Riley (Harry the Head‘s creator and star of Snatcher Sam) hated that, so while he was doing some pasting work with the editors he changed this character’s name as a joke. Last week we learned how the OiNK editors played a little joke on Lew too. I love little in-jokes like these and it all adds to that anarchic OiNK feeling!

A humour strip about a zombie and his undead friends isn’t something you’d imagine having gorgeous artwork but Eric ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson really delivers this week with his latest Dead Fred. Written by Ken F Sutherland, like Harry above it’s not often we’d see Fred get so much space. This page shows he really was able to carry the larger format. Unfortunately though, instead of more full-page strips for the character this would actually be his penultimate story! One more in the second monthly issue to come and then he’d finally rest in peace.

Certainly the last thing I expected from a Dead Fred strip was what on the surface looks like a moving war story regarding the Battle of the Somme.

Of course we know all of this wartime storytelling, complete with art that in some panels wouldn’t look out of place in Commando, must be leading to a joke and we’re not let down. In fact, I think the serious nature of the majority of the strip makes the opening and closing panels all the more silly by comparison and, I’ll say it again, I think it’s gorgeous. Just a few pages later we reach the back cover and some more unique art that you would only have seen in OiNK, with the return (at last!) of Hadrian Vile.

We’ve had some special pages from the character before, such as guides to everything from orchestras to babies, holiday photo albums, school magazines, letters to Santa and even a map of Scotland. But for almost all of the first 50 issues we enjoyed his Sekret Diary entries and this was what he was known for. Now, after a five issue hiatus he’s back, with Mark Rodgers is writing and Ian Jackson is drawing Hadrian but the diary has been dropped in favour of a new series, Vidiots – or Hadrian Vile’s Interleckshual guide to Tellyvision (a one-off of which had appeared in #23).

Love those little caricatures of Mark and Ian! It’s great to see Ian back after he also seemed to take a break lately (apart from a couple of mini-strips). But knowing what’s to come it’s sad to know that apart from one monthly entry and another in the second OiNK Book, the diary series was for all intents and purposes finished. If OiNK had remained weekly perhaps we’d see it return as co-editor Patrick Gallagher told us about other characters that had left us.

Unfortunately, Ian seems to move on to pastures new for the most part after this series too, so let’s enjoy his work while we can. It would remain on the back page for six issues altogether, finishing in #61. I did miss the insights into his family life and these were a much quicker read than a full strip, but at the time I figured it was just a temporary series and the diary would return straight after. So I really enjoyed having something different from one of my very favourite comics characters ever to finish off each issue with. I intend to enjoy them all over again and this first one is a very promising start.

Another daft newsagent reservation coupon by Patrick rounds off our review and looking at the most recent weekly OiNKs you can see, even with eight pages less, how much more rammed with content they were compared to others, and just how varied that content could be from page to page, and issue to issue. A recipe for success if ever there was one, surely. We’ll touch upon what led to OiNK’s eventual fate in a future post but for now I’m really enjoying my weekly trip down memory lane.

But we’ve more to come before #57! Regular readers will remember we used to have ‘Coming Up’ posts before each issue, back when OiNK had actual Next Issue promos. Since turning weekly these were dropped (the comic didn’t have themes to promote after all) but in three days on Monday 27th you’ll see their return. Well, for one edition anyway, the second OiNK Holiday Special, the review for which will be up on Wednesday 29th March! After that, #57 will be here on Friday 31st March 2023. A busy week ahead! Great, isn’t it?


Yesterday was Simon Furman’s birthday. Anyone who has been following the blog’s Instagram feed for the last six years will be very familiar with that name as Simon wrote all but the first of the UK Transformers stories. My read through is still ongoing at the time of writing as I make my way through the final year of that superb, epic comic in real time. Regular visitors to the blog itself will also have read a couple of posts recently about a character he co-created for that 80s/90s comic with artist Geoff Senior, yes?

Yes indeed. Death’s Head has joined the ranks of the real time read throughs on the OiNK Blog, with a special introductory post and a review of the first non-Transformers strip he appeared in, namely Crossroads in Time from Doctor Who Magazine. While we wait for his next appearance, I thought I’d share something a little special with you all. To mark Simon’s big day fans of the Freelance Peace-Keeping Agent have taken to social media for the ninth year in a row to mark the occasion.

Under the hashtag #DrawDeathsHeadDay across various social media sites and apps, fans of this unique character put pen to paper, fingers to touch pads and digital pencils to iPad screens to create a vast array of fan art to celebrate Simon’s birthday and their love of the character. I thought I’d show you some of my favourites, along with links to each talented individual’s account if you wish to follow them. This is the first time I’ve been aware of #DrawDeathsHeadDay and I was mightily impressed with what I found!

Above is probably my favourite piece of all the ones under the hashtag. It’s by David Cousens (@davidcousens) whose work you really should check out, especially his Transformers art. I think this really encapsulates the look and feel of classic Death’s Head art. Below, OiNK Blog follower, and thus pig pal, Simon Williams (@simonwilliams.comicartist) used a MacFarlane-inspired Grey Hulk in his image.

Above, Ben‘s (@blacksquareart) caption was simply “It’s the boy! 💀” and his scratchy pencil shading brings a moodiness to the character, then below Sami Sadek (@skullgrin140) took inspiration from Death’s Head’s earliest appearance and the comic he was created for in the first place.

Above, artist Nomi Rana (@nomiranaart) looks like they’ve lent that helping hand Death’s Head was asking for above, and below was the first image I came across when searching the hashtag, a gloriously coloured piece of art by librarian Jacob Turner (@jacobturnerart) who completed it in only one hour! (He says he had to rush it because he was also fighting a book ban that day. Good on you, Jacob!) Then, below Jacob’s detailed art is the exact opposite from Phil Smith (@ununseptimus) and I have to say I genuinely laughed when I saw it. A great way to round things off.

I’ll definitely be looking forward to this day every year from now on. Speaking of things to look forward to (tenuous, I know) the Dragon’s Claws real time read through will be starting in May right here on the OiNK Blog, during which Death’s Head will be a major guest star just in time to promote the premiere issue of his own comic, so watch out for that later in the year. Don’t forget you can catch up on the Death’s Head: In Real Time, Yes? and Readying Death’s Head posts which detail the character’s exploits in Transformers and Doctor Who respectively. This is one read through I’m particularly excited about!


Many people will know the name Dave Gibbons from his seminal artwork on Watchmen or for co-creating Rogue Trooper, a staple 2000AD character, or for his work on everything from Batman and Aliens to Doctor Who and Dan Dare. His legacy of work is vast, far too much for any one blog post to even hope to cover a fraction of. He even collaborated on the classic videogame Beneath a Steel Sky (and its Apple Arcade remake) and worked on Kingsman: The Secret Service which led to the successful movie series.

He may have been appointed Comics Laureate nine years ago but for pig pals he’ll forever be associated with one page of our piggy publication. In #49 Lew Stringer’s script for The Superhero’s Day Off was brought to stunning (and incredibly funny) life by one of the greatest superhero comics artists of all time. Lew and Dave had been friends for a long time by this stage, and Dave’s son was a pig pal, so he was on board to work for Uncle Pigg for a special one-off collaboration.

Back in the review for this issue of OiNK Lew told me how Dave added in little extra gags where he could, such as the kid reading an issue, the newspaper headline and the dog’s face turning blue from lack of air in the depths of space, our superhero blissfully unaware. I explain how, while at the time I didn’t have a clue why this strip’s artist was being hyped on the cover, “as a child I loved this page and having been a fan of Christopher Reeve’s Superman films I got all the little jokes (my personal favourite being him signalling the bus) even if I didn’t appreciate the significance of its inclusion in the first place.”

I also asked co-editor Patrick Gallagher what it was like to have Dave working on their comic. “Yes, when Mark (Rodgers) told Tony (Husband) and me Lew’s idea to collaborate on a page with his friend Dave Gibbons,” he said, “we were thrilled and all gave it the big OiNK thumbs up with our trotters! And all credit to Lew’s brilliant writing talent for providing Dave with a killer script that matched the super-heroic credibility of his drawing talent.”

Now, Dave has decided to write a memoir of his comics work over the years and OiNK has been included.

Confabulation: An Anecdotal Autobiography is being billed as “a comprehensive, in-depth and personal journey through the eyes of one of the world’s most famous comics creators!” Inside its gorgeous hardback cover you’ll find a series of alphabetically chaptered stories, each described as an “extensive anecdote”. It also contains a staggering 300+ pieces of art and photographs in its 256 pages, many of which have never been published before. Dave also discusses the reasons why Watchmen co-creator Alan Moore and he no longer speak, for the first time.

Lew Stringer has already got his hands on a copy and says it’s a great book, hugely entertaining yet extremely informative. According to Lew, “[Dave] talks about his earliest days on D.C. Thomson comics, through to the Watchmen era, The Originals, and beyond. This really is one of the best autobiographies by a comics creator that you’re likely to see. Dave’s had (and is still having) a significant career in the business and his affable personality comes across well in his illuminating writing style.”

As for that word, what does ‘confabulation’ actually mean? According to the Bing dictionary it means, “to fabricate imaginary experiences as compensation for loss of memory”. I think this book could be a fun read!

Written by Dave with Tim Pilcher, Confabulation: An Anecdotal Autobiography is published by Dark Horse and is on sale now at all good book and comic shops. If you live in Northern Ireland may I recommend Coffee & Heroes in Belfast, a simply superb shop that would be more than happy to order it for you. You can also read Lew’s post about the book and see his own photographs in his Lew Stringer Comics blog post.