I have distinct memories of showing this issue of OiNK to some friends of mine a few years after its publication, when I’d moved on to grammar school and met some huge 2000AD fans. Their reaction to the cover and the strip inside was one of laughter, naturally. One of them had also collected OiNK, for the others it was something new and they were gutted not only at the fact Judge Pigg wasn’t a regular strip, but that the comic itself was no longer being produced.
The lack of colour on the cover is a bit of a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, with the strip inside being in black and white, and a spoof of the earlier days of Judge Dredd when the majority of 2000AD also lacked colour, it does seem to suit the subject matter. But still, I can’t help but wonder how much better it would’ve looked. Interesting to note the comic is committing to ‘satire’ now too, after writer Graham Exton previously went to lengths to explain OiNK focussed on parody instead of satire and the difference between them . Perhaps this was another sign of the changing age of the audience mentioned in #51 (more on that soon).
Steve Gibson is the perfect artist to parody the hard-edged style of classic Judge Dredd, making the joke of the whole thing even more reminiscent of what inspired it. In fact, I’d go so far as to say there’s something quite Brian Bolland about it, like Steve was spoofing that particular Dredd artist. It’s written by Mark Rodgers (of course it would be), someone who had worked for IPC Magazine’s humour comics for many years and who would’ve been very familiar with their stablemate sci-fi comic.
Also, as a regular cat sitter myself and someone who can’t walk past a kitty without trying to befriend them I just love that ending! This is one OiNK strip that’s even more enjoyable to me nowadays than it was when I was a mere ten-years-old. Not just because of the cat though. I think I appreciate the work Steve has put into the style of the strip overall more these days, I’ve read a good bit of Dredd in the intervening years, whereas originally I don’t think I even knew of the character when I read this the first time.
Since going weekly co-editor Tony Husband has contributed a hybrid full-page/mini-strip to each issue. Containing only two or three panels each but taking up a full page, there’s a chance those unfamiliar with OiNK and the freestyle drawings of Tony might initially think these pages are light on content, maybe even rushed as one friend put it at the time. Not true of course, and when each and every one of them produces a good laugh who cares anyway?
Those of us used to two years of Tony’s award-winning style and his Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins strips enjoyed these bold full-page gags every week and they’re a defining part of OiNK’s short but memorable 18-issue stint as a weekly comic. Tony also created one of my favourite non-regular characters, the multi-named Wonder Pig who this issue goes by the name Lazzie. They were getting a four-issue run (quickly followed up by one more in the first monthly) and the repetition of the predicament that would befall his owner continued to raise giggles.
Other highlights of #58 include Frank Sidebottom’s Little Bit of Show-biz (sic) Gossip at the bottom of his page. As per usual Frank makes tabloid headlines the butt of his jokes with the actual story being very different to the assumption the headline produces. Then Hieronymous Van Hellsong is in the pits of hell looking for the soul of singer Raoul McCurtney and it appears even in that dark place there’s always that one person.
I’ve mentioned before about being surprised at how little certain characters actually appear in OiNK because they’d formed such a strong part of my memories of the comic from childhood. Perhaps the very fact some of my favourites weren’t in every issue helped make their appearances all that more memorable and I think this applies to the following series too, which I’m very surprised to discover had only six episodes.
Charlie Brooker’s The Swinelight Zone popped up in #44 as a one-off strip and then reappeared three weeks ago in #55. It’s been in each issue since as well as the recent Holiday Special but it disappears after this, never to return. Even though I only read these about seven years ago for the previous blog, in my head I still thought it was a regular fixture all the way through to the last issue. What a shame, but at least they go out on a high. Quite literally in this case.
One strip which would remain with us until the very end was Kev F Sutherland’s Meanwhile… series. Each had a completely different scenario with nothing to link them other than the title and the cartoonist’s unique sense of humour. Kev would take a seemingly trivial locale or event and create a guaranteed laugh from it in his own unique way, such as ‘Meanwhile at the Fun Fair…’ back in #49. That was a properly funny mini-strip and I’m very happy to say the return of the series for the first time since gets a full page.
There’d be at least one (more often than not more than that) in each of the monthlies and they really were a constant defining highlight of those later issues. The Meanwhile… in this issue is the perfect example of what we could expect so much of. It takes a simple idea, a simple joke that could’ve worked in a smaller capacity, and takes it to another level, making it as crazy and as funny as possible before the pay off. So, after Kev’s pun-packed March of the Killer Breakfasts last week comes something completely diffferent.
That was the beauty of the Meanwhile… series; on the surface they were more like a series of one-offs by the same really talented cartoonist, every single one felt completely different, yet that idea of taking a joke and getting as much value out of it as possible was key. The example above still pops into my head today whenever I hear someone utter those words, “Say when”, and I have a little chuckle to myself every time.
From strips I thought were regulars but weren’t, to one I thought was a tiny little one-off when it appeared in the previous Christmas issue but then was delighted to see return just a few weeks ago in a delightful full-colour, full-page strip, it’s The Kingdom of Trump. This is another last appearance unfortunately, but then I didn’t expect more than one in the first place so I’m just happy to see it again. This is also the most memorable of the trilogy.
Davey Jones’ King isn’t the main character in this one but the silliness of his kingdom and all those that dwell within it is every much front and centre. Davey’s sense of humour is completely insane; go and have a look at #20’s war spoof Bridge Over the River Septic if you need any more proof of that! He’d later become a hit in the pages of Viz and you can clearly see why in his OiNK work.
From the wooden stick masquerading as a horse, to the dragon living in a cave right next to the throne with a polite little doorbell, there’s so much that made me laugh on this half-page. Funniest of all is that first silent panel, the penultimate one in the strip, with that facial expression! The Kingdom of Trump really should’ve been a regular, the three examples we got were so funny, each one better than what came before. I’d loved to have seen what else Davey could’ve come up with.
On that note we come to the end of another review. We of course finish with co-editor Patrick Gallagher’s newsagent reservation coupon as usual, moving from the already random Great Moments in History to the completely daft Great Moments in the Height of Good Manners (number 76 no less). April is the last month full of weekly issues so make sure to come back next Friday 14th April 2023 for #59 as we inch closer to the next big evolution in the life of OiNK.