Be forewarned, if you’re reading this in the heatwave we’re experiencing at the time of writing you may be a tad jealous of the people on Tony Husband‘s cover, who we’re actually meant to be laughing at.
While comics would normally have a separate Summer Special OiNK had only just begun so we’d have to wait for ours. But something else made it extra special, at least for readers of other IPC Magazine comics such as 2000AD. As with the preview they received this issue for free as part of a promotional push, hence the subtle “NOT FOR SALE!” over one of the covers above.
By coincidence the issue receiving extra visibility also contained the strip that would be famously investigated by the Press Council. But, just like the ‘Viz’ myth surrounding OiNK, this chapter in the comic’s life has become distorted in the intervening years. Two (yes, only two) complaints were received and no it did not contribute to the comic’s eventual cancellation. After all, that was over two years and 61 issues later. So what’s the truth?
Well first, here’s the story itself which co-editor Patrick Gallagher believes was written by Mark Rodgers. Every pig pal remembers Janice and John and the Parachute Jump, which was illustrated by Trevor Johnson, a friend of Patrick’s and a renowned Manchester graphic designer who did a lot of work for Factory Records and the famous The Hacienda.
The complaint accused the story of disregarding mother-family relationships, but the Press Council rightly saw it as the deliberate parody of the traditional stories found in old fashioned children’s publications that it was. They ruled it was meant to be a tasteless spoof and was not improper in any way, rejecting the complaint. Brilliantly, OiNK would publish this in a future issue.
OiNK was aimed at children, not their parents, and the kids found it hilarious. However, while only two people complained, WHSmith still placed OiNK on their top shelves as a result. A ridiculous situation. But a year later in an interview co-editors Mark, Patrick and Tony Husband would be all too happy to confirm sales of 100,000 per issue so never underestimate pig power. Tony also recently told me IPC loved the attention things like this brought.
Janice and John would indeed return in the sequel Janice and John and the Thermonuclear Reactor, although it didn’t appear until much later in the run, possibly held back until the outcome of the complaint was known. I’ll definitely include that and OiNK’s response to the complaint when we get to those issues. But now, for our next highlight let’s enjoy a different form of crazy.
What else can be said about this strip? Nothing really. Simple, straight to the point and laugh out loud funny, that’s Roger Rental, He’s Completely Mental, written by Graham Exton and drawn by his regular artist Ian Knox. To this day I can remember reading certain entries in his series of tiny, one-joke strips as a kid and just losing it with the sheer, unintended anarchy of it all.
At the beginning of OiNK’s run there was a competitor to Snatcher Sam‘s crown as the most idiotic thief to appear in a photo story. His name was Swindler Sid. Played by a good friend of Patrick’s called Nick Bell, the strips were photographed by Patrick’s brother James who we saw as a Typical OiNK Reader back in #5. Despite the consequences of Sid’s actions here I think we’d all risk it at the moment given the weather outside.
Patrick and James would rope in other friends to play the roles of whoever the scripts called for. In this case the first customer is Billy Gregg (a welder in real life), the second is Paul McGarty (a labourer) and P.C. Porker is Pat Healy (a bricklayer) who would appear more than once as the same character.
Sid has now reformed himself and given up his swindling career, “Though he still dabbles in ‘finance’ occasionally” says Patrick. Nick has had an amazing and varied career, working in the NHS for more than 30 years in positions such as Lead Auditor and Benchmarking Analysis, as well as a Business Analyst at Central Manchester University Hospitals Foundation Trust. Sid’s certainly come a long way from swiping ice lollies.
Let’s have a quick look at some other highlights from this summery edition, starting with an early character called New Wave Dave who was a bit too keen to be part of that 80s scene. Dave was drawn by Viz founder Chris Donald. Tom Thug went on an ‘oliday to Blackpool with a regular selection of British folk (we’ll see how he gets on next time). There was a comics crossover of gigantic hippopotamus proportions when Hugo the Hungry Hippo popped up to save the day in Rubbish Man, Tom Paterson‘s hilarious Wet Blanket will see publication again later this year and roles were reversed in Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins.
I’m a sucker for comical sharks, as evidenced already with my favourite OiNK page of all in #4, so if any more pop up you can be sure I’ll show them off.
On the middle pages we’re treated to eight lovely, rough-around-the-edges postcards to cut out and take on holiday from the pen of Ian Jackson. I wonder if anyone actually used them? There’s a small competition along the bottom to encourage readers to cut up their comic (a winner would be chosen in #12). The best thing about this is Ian interpreting other artists’ characters. Some of the postcards themselves are just priceless too.
Some time next year you’ll see the actual postcards the comic gave away with a few issues. I’ve a foggy memory of wanting to take them on holiday but not sure if I ever did, and they were separate from the comic. So I doubt I would’ve cut up my OiNK to use any of these if I’d been collecting the comic at this point. Why would you want to send away these pieces of art?
Snatcher Sam might be missing in action at the moment but his alter ego Marc Riley is still busy, as his strip creations continue to bring the laughs. Alongside Harry the Head sat a little quarter-page strip which took us back to the Jurassic, at least in theory. When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth may have had ancient creatures as the stars but the settings and stories were very 1980s.
Popping up in 25 issues altogether they, like Roger Rental, disappeared during the weekly issues as a casualty of the reduced page count. We’d see situations ranging from package holidays to skateboarding, basically everything except anything to do with the correct time period, and we loved them for that.
But for now the sun is setting on another issue of the world’s greatest comic.
One final sight gag from Tony Husband there to round things off. The comic itself would end with Uncle Pigg and his staff heading off on a bus to go on a well deserved vacation of their own, but not before promising to leave the comic in the hands of his “dedicated skeleton staff”. Prophetic words indeed as you’ll find out next time. (There’s a hint under one of the strips above.)
Join me in two weeks for an issue that’s even more unique than those we’ve seen already. That’ll be on Monday 9th August 2021.