PiGGY PROMOTiONS: iPC’S JOHN SANDERS

IPC’s Youth Group is trying to change the face of children’s comics with its launch next month of a new-style, fortnightly comic into the eight-to-12-year-olds market.

So began a piece in CTN, an industry magazine covering the world of magazines and comics on this day back in 1986, a month before OiNK‘s release from the sty. Comics sales had been in heavy decline for a few years with television was seen as the cause, though perhaps so was the ever-growing presence of computer games. While other sources of children’s entertainment were evolving, comics hadn’t and they had to do something new and fresh in order to remain competitive.

You should know where this is going. That something was, of course, OiNK. Edited by the “three liberated pigs” of Mark Rodgers, Tony Husband and Patrick Gallagher, IPC saw in them the chance to reinvigorate the marketplace.

The article in CTN (which you can read in full at the bottom of this post) takes the form of an interview with IPC Magazine’s Youth Group Managing Director John Sanders. A wish to move away from the “custard pie humour” is cited and the publishers were certainly putting their weight behind this anarchic comic, independently put together for them in Manchester. Hundreds of thousands of copies of the preview issue would be bagged with some of their biggest titles and an eye-watering (for the time) £55,000 was being spent on “Blockbuster Adverts”. More of these below.

“Their [children] humour is a lot more sophisticated than it was 25 years ago. It is a lot more outrageous, the butt of their humour has changed.”

John Sanders, IPC Youth Group Managing Director

It’s interesting to note having a preview issue wasn’t something generally used at the time, the usual strategy was television advertising such as with Marvel‘s The Transformers. This was news to me when I found out because I remember several preview issues of my comics but nothing on TV, but then again these were all after OiNK. However, even OiNK’s preview would be different from those that followed, it was a full-sized comic rather than a mini-issue.

The (very) brief advert for Marvel UK‘s Transformers comic launch in 1984

The article states the new comic is “aimed very directly at youngsters”. The whole point was to grab the attention of that aforementioned age group. But yet, here we are over three decades later with a website all about this classic comic and how well it holds up to adults reading it all these years later.

Their target audience weren’t just readers of comics by the competition either, such as The Dandy and The Beano, but also those of their own humour comics who they were worried were leaving.

Thanks to Lew Stringer for sharing this scan originally on his Blimey blog and for the kind permission to show it to you all here. That particular blog is no longer being updated but is chock full of interesting comics tidbits so give it a look. While you’re at it, make sure to bookmark Lew’s ongoing Lew Stringer Comics blog too, detailing all of his own work both past and present.

A BLOCKBUSTiNG START

Keep a close eye on the OiNK Blog (or its social media) through April as I continue to count down to the launch of everyone’s favourite funny comic. Those Blockbuster Adverts mentioned above will make an appearance, alongside some of OiNK’s stablemates from the IPC Magazines range, before we dive trotters deep into the preview issue on 26th April.

At the time of writing John Sanders has just released his brand new book, King’s Reach: John Sanders’ Twenty-Five Years at the Top of Comics which chronicles the business side of the industry and it’s available here.

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