So I told you this issue’s cover was the ugliest of the whole run. I didn’t mean I didn’t like it! This is OiNK, of course that wouldn’t be the case, instead what we have below is Tony Husband’s Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins and another yellow background cover. After the first two great weekly covers by Ian Jackson and Lew Stringer, the next three (of which this is the first) are rather basic, possibly a symptom of the increased schedule.
They all feature fan favourite characters which is always a good thing for already established pig pals but I’m not sure how well they’d do at bringing in new readers. Fortunately, the covers return to more complex pieces of funny art in a few weeks and the artists (with the team no longer rushing to get them finished) once again have time to turn out covers the likes of which we’ve been used to since OiNK began.
At the time of OiNK, there was a certain teatime telly show which captivated everyone who watched it, despite it being a basic question and answer quiz. At ten-years-of-age I can’t remember knowing many of the answers the university students were asked but that didn’t matter, Bob Holness and that electronic Blockbusters game board made it, the whole family sitting together for half an hour. It appears Charlie Brooker was also a bit of a fan as he wrote a script for Lew Stringer’s Pete and his Pimple strip, the only time someone other than Lew wrote for the character.
I particularly like the little signs held up to excuse the caricature of Bob and the “convenient” way of not having to draw him at the end of the story. The only thing missing is that silly dance everyone did in their seats at the end of the Friday episodes. Uncle Pigg pops up to remind readers to send in their suggestions but that’s not because there was a lack of any coming in. There’d be shedloads of them and they’ll start to be used very soon and, apart from the occasional issue, all the way through to the end of OiNK.
“Naughty terrorists had taken some important top nobs hostage…”Storm Farce, Mark Rodgers
In the 80s action figures became more complex as rival companies battled against each other and videogames for kids’ attention. They’d boast about everything from the level of articulation to the fact they had an elastic band inside to make them ‘punch’ when twisted. One of the most popular was G.I. Joe (or Action Force as it was called here until the end of the 80s) and I was a big fan of the comics as they ran as backups in my Transformers comics. When Hasbro took over the Action Force name in the UK in the early 80s and decided to rebrand it with their G.I. Joe line IPC Magazines also lost the licence to Marvel UK.
IPC needed a replacement and Storm Force was co-created by legendary comics editor Barrie Tomlinson with Richard Burton (not that one) for the pages of Battle. In fact, you can check out early design sketches in the review of Barrie’s book. Barrie often said they’d have made a good toy range themselves and they were definitely designed to resemble such a line with a never-ending array of characters and their unique weaponry and add-ons. As such, they were perfect for a Mark Rodgers spoof in the sister comic.
As kids we’d obviously never think of the impracticalities of such attachments and that’s what made this so hilarious at the time, it was pointing out something ludicrous right in front of our young eyes. If you think about observational comedians who point out normal things to us that are actually ludicrous, it felt like that when I read this for the review. Eric ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson‘s art is always gorgeous too, especially when he gets the chance to have a full-colour page.
The story is on the same page as the previous Disney parodies and has the same banner title at the top. Again, I think this may have been for new readers so they wouldn’t be expecting more of the same spoof each week. Seasoned pig pals didn’t need such explanations. It’s a brilliant spoof though and one I’m sure Barrie would approve of.
A quick look at some highlights from other pages in the issue now, starting with Hadrian Vile beginning to teach his new baby sister the important things in life, like crawling without being clumsy. The lengths he goes to are classic Hadrian and he gets up to the usual mischief, but it also shows that as far as his baby sister goes his heart is in the right place, which is sweet. Haldane’s Incredible Amazing Bizarre World is particularly funny for this fan of everything Ancient Egyptian and Frank Sidebottom meets Edwina Currie as she tagged along with the Smokebusters.
If you’d like to know more about the Smokebusters you can check out the previous issue for more on Frank’s trip, and the special free edition of OiNK given away to schools in parts of England was also reviewed just a few days ago on the blog! That’s right, there was an extra issue of OiNK you may not have seen before. I didn’t know about it at the time either and only got my hands on it not long ago for the review. So go check that out.
I’m not a fussy eater (stay with me here). I eat almost anything and try almost anything too. Except one thing. That one thing is oysters, I just can’t fathom how it can be pleasant swallowing a live slimy, salty little bit of sludge (you can tell I’ve never tried them) down my throat. I mean, the poor thing is still alive! Burp is a fan though and in this week’s strip we get to follow that aforementioned poor little oyster down his gullet. But as if being eaten alive wasn’t bad enough, this is no ordinary body.
I think the phrase is, “Well that escalated quickly”. I find the expression on the oyster in the large panel on the left just hilarious, as is the stomach’s horrible realisation in the next. It seems stomach and myself share a similar view on the matter. My favourite Burp strips always involve his organs or gratuitous, over-the-top cartoon violence and this strip manages to have both. Although, I do wonder where his pet specimen from Uranus has got to, we haven’t seen them in months.
Something I’ve noticed in recent issues is how Marc Riley’s strips such as Harry the Head and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth are no longer being written by him. He may still be drawing them but a range of different talent has been scripting his creations including Doctor Mooney He’s Completely Looney, written here by Mike Taylor, one of OiNK’s contributing artists who has drawn everything from a GBH Christmas Catalogue to Ye Ballad of Snatcher Sam and the advert for the OiNK sweatshirt.
An endless stream of visual “Doctor, Doctor” jokes, the gags in this strip remained fresh throughout and perhaps this was thanks to the now ever-changing scripting roster. Apart from the occasional absence the good doctor would be a regular in OiNK all the way to the end and I can’t remember if Marc would ever write any more. His Harry the Head strip, once a full-page main character would remain as a mini-strip from now on so perhaps Marc’s music and DJ work was taking up more of his time.
The back page calendar of this issue caused some controversy at the time, although not on the scale of the Janice and John strip from #7 which resulted in a complaint to the Press Council. I can’t even remember where I read that this next page caused a bit of backlash from certain quarters, it could be from a press clipping in a later issue so I’ll look out for it. But what could Tony Husband’s piggy-themed sports calendar do to upset people? I really don’t know, it’s only pigs playing football with a butcher’s head after all.
As I’ve mentioned before I never cut up my OiNKs. The Tom Thug Christmas Angel was finally made when I was in my 30s and the Frank Sidebottom zoetrope just last year for the blog, so I definitely never cut out an entire page to put these calendars up on the wall. I never even cut out the coupon to give to the newsagent, I just asked my shop to reserve my comics for me. However, those coupons did give co-editor Patrick Gallagher a chance to give some old drawings from an old book of Victorian drawings (previously ransacked for #23) a new lease of life and they became a series of cartoons in their own right.
That’s us for another issue and so far I’m enjoying reading OiNK and writing about it every single week, even if the comic hasn’t quite settled into its new format yet. This’ll come over the next few weeks and I’m really looking forward to that. So should you. In the meantime remember to come back next Saturday 27th January 2023 for #48 of the world’s funniest comic.