This colourful, busy cover by Mike Roberts is just superb and takes me right back to the 1990s. The 90s? Yes, OiNK may have been my first comic but Mike also had a hand in my first magazine, Future‘s Commodore Format, published between 1990 and 1996. Every month he drew the adventures of Roger Frames which sat between the mini-reviews of the ‘Budjit Games’. Mike’s work can be found in four issues of OiNK and the first 31 issues of CF, the latter he returned to for issue sixty-one, the very final edition and drew its cover.
Mike’s cover perfectly sums up issue ten of OiNK; it’s chock full of great content, jam-packed with random humorous moments, there’s plenty of chaos and anarchy, and loads of genuine laugh-out-loud moments. It’s been very difficult to whittle its 32 pages down to a few highlights and I’ve had to leave out some real gems. There were just too many.
To prove my point here’s a quick glimpse of some of that content, beginning with the one character you just knew would relish the theme. This issue’s Sekret Diary ov Hadrian Vile – Aged 7 5/8 (yearƨ) sees him trying a variety of excuses to get out of returning to school, only for his mum to admit it doesn’t start until the next day, she just wanted to see what tricks he was going to try. Jelly-Belly Johnson is a one-off photo story featuring Tony Husband‘s son Paul winning a jelly eating contest, the Skiver’s Survival Kit has everything needed to get out of various lessons and in Tom Thug we meet Wayne Brayne for the first time.
Lew has mentioned in the comments to this post that in the original script Wayne asked Tom, “Are you having a fit?” and Mark Rodgers changed it to the line above, because obviously there’s nothing funny about having a fit. Thanks for the info, Lew! Wayne would pop up now and again in Tom’s strips to outwit the thug, not that this was particularly difficult, of course. He’d also appear now and again in Buster after the merge.
After I discovered OiNK I can remember often taking each new issue into school for my friends to read, in a blatant attempt to get them to start buying it themselves instead of what I called their “boring comics”. Ha! I can imagine this particular issue going down particularly well in classrooms across the country.
We haven’t had a comical shark in a few issues but thankfully here’s Roger Rental, He’s Completely Mental to fix that, as ever brought to the page by Ian Knox.
One-panel genius. Not Roger, admittedly, I mean the writers and Ian’s perfect style for the character. Throughout his appearances Roger would be written by a variety of talented individuals, notably Graham Exton, Keith Forrest and later Howard Osborne. Graham originally created the character as ‘Barmy Barney’ but, in Graham’s own words, “The Three Wise Men rename him Roger Rental.” While there are no credits here Graham says co-editor Mark Rodgers was always very good at crediting other writers so most likely this was written by Mark himself.
Jeremy Banx‘s Mr Big Nose steals the show on a regular basis with his uniquely surreal humour and unexpected punchlines. By all means they don’t make an awful lot of sense but that’s what made them so funny to the young (and now the not-so-young) audience, it was just lovable nonsense. This issue’s strip also turned a work colleague of mine into an OiNK fan several years back.
When I was reading the comic for the previous version of ‘The Oink! Blog’ I posted the strip below on Twitter and a woman I worked with, who had previously rolled her eyes at what I was doing in my spare time, admitted she loved it and couldn’t stop laughing when she saw it. Apparently, thinking I was reading something more along the lines of Beano or The Dandy, it had just taken her by complete surprise. Thanks to it and another Banx strip later in this issue I ended up lending her my OiNK Book 1988 and she loved every silly page.
I’ve another personal story about this little one-off from Ed McHenry too. Before collecting the whole run and putting together the original blog back in 2013 I’d bought a handful of issues online to reminisce with. (Little did I know it’d turn back into an obsession again.) When they’d arrived I took a couple down to the house of my girlfriend at the time where I was staying for the weekend.
I hadn’t had a chance to flick through them yet so I was oblivious to their contents. I started to casually scan over them while she was curled up asleep on the sofa next to me after a tough day at work. I should explain that my laugh can be rather loud, especially when I’m caught unawares and I was already doing my best not to laugh at Graham Norton’s show on TV so as not to wake her up.
“Don’t be frightened by bullies, kids! And don’t try to scare anyone yourself!”Uncle Pigg (Cowardly Custard)
I was doing a very good job of it too until I read Mike Slammer. Well that was it. I erupted into laughter! She jumped awake! I tried to apologise but I couldn’t stop laughing. When I eventually calmed down and explained I wasn’t actually laughing at scaring her awake, I showed her the culprit. One strange look and a shake of the head later and the status quo returned, albeit it with my attention solely on the TV, just in case.
Moving on, one of the most enjoyable series in these early issues is Pigg Tales, double-page stories introduced by Uncle Pigg and often with a moral at the end (in a typical OiNK fashion). So far on this read through I’ve shown you The Revenge Squad in the preview issue and Testing Time in #1, both of which were hilariously drawn by Tom Paterson. This issue’s school-based tale is Cowardly Custard, illustrated by OiNK-supremo Ian Jackson.
Contrary to critics of the comic at the time, OiNK contained some strong moral messages within its pages, especially of the anti-smoking variety which you’ll see here in due course. (They even created a complete ‘Smokebusters’ comic to give away to schools.) They just didn’t preach at us. Instead they created Madvertisements or funny strips like the one above which is clearly an anti-bullying story but presented in an original way.
I love the different character designs for each of the kids and how the usual comic strip cliché of the victim turning the tide on the bully is then also turned upon. The victim teaches the bully a lesson, but then the other bullies teach the victim a lesson. The message is clear: Don’t become the bully! All told through giving the reader a good laugh. Job done.
Cowardly Custard is a main highlight of the issue and it’s nice to actually see our editor in a strip, what with him not getting his usual introduction on page two for the first time. While OiNK would have so much variety and so many different art styles it always felt like Uncle Pigg’s appearances throughout tied everything together. In this issue he also pops up on the Grunts letters page and in an advertisement for those ‘Prime Porky Products’ of OiNK merchandise.
Okay, so earlier I showed you the Mr Big Nose strip that sold the whole premise of OiNK to a work colleague. Over the course of a few issues, starting with this one, Jeremy Banx got some extra space to deliver us some dynamite one-off strips. The first one of which is below and was the one I alluded to above.
Getting a reference to the Warsaw Pact into a kids’ comic, and as the name of a character no less, is so out there it could only have come from the mind of Jeremy. But let’s not brush over the fact this character then proceeds to have her child put down! Then stuffed! Innocently slipped into the issue it’s an example of something we just found silly fun as children, then as adults are so surprised by (in the best possible way, of course). Brilliance.
Finally, the issue also contains the penultimate part of the epic Street-Hogs story which started right back in the preview issue (and you can check out a full chapter in #1’s review), ending with yet another cliffhanger they’ll get out of in the most improbable way imaginable in a fortnight’s time. The team are also the focus of the ‘Next Issue’ promotion which you’ll see a few days before the next review.
In two weeks it’s the conclusion of The Street-Hogs’ first adventure, with a general biking and motoring theme to the rest of the issue. But it wouldn’t be long before the next spoof adventure series to be masterfully drawn by J.T. Dogg would appear, and it was the first my younger self clapped eyes on. So watch out for the introduction of Ham Dare: Pig of the Future in a few short months.
That aforementioned next issue will be here for you to peruse on Monday 20th September.