Category Archives: OiNK Comic Reviews

OiNK! #12: MOViE MAGiC & MiRTH

We’re already a dozen issues (and a preview) in to the real time read through of the funniest comic ever produced. Where has the time gone? I suppose it just goes to prove it does fly when you’re laughing at one ridiculous gag after another. This issue we’re off to the movies in proper OiNK fashion, which is quite apt seeing as how I had my first trip to the cinema in about two years this weekend thanks to the pandemic.

One of the biggest events in 80s cinema was Steven Spielberg‘s E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and I remember having to wait a while for the home video release to see it, which was delayed by five years! So this OiNK parody was created before we even got to see it at home. Featuring Nick Bell again as Swindler Sid, this would be his last appearance in the comic but he got quite the send off in the double-page spread spectacular that is E.T. (Extremely Thick).

I contacted Patrick Gallagher to ask about the making of this particular photo story and the people involved. From what Patrick can remember the costume was hired from a local fancy dress shop in Manchester called The Stage Door, run by 70s comedian Jackie Carlton. The “lucky youngster” who found themselves inside it was James O’Malley who starred in human form as Jelly-Belly Johnson in #10, Professor Potts was actually Patrick’s younger sister, Bernie Gallagher (below left), their family dog Dandy played Jimbo the Jabbering Jack Russell and friend Richard Cobey (below right) played the “ugly little squirt”, to quote E.T.!

Swindler Sid may be gone now but we’ve still got Marc Riley as Snatcher Sam who would continue to pop up in various photo strips and GBH Madvertisements during the fortnightly portion of OiNK’s run, so you won’t be short of mischievous, yet somehow loveable thievery as the read through continues.

Billy’s Boots may have been a strip in a sister title to OiNK but that didn’t mean it wasn’t ripe for sending up.

Billy’s Boots was a classic adventure serial strip which appeared in Scorcher comic in 1970, moving to Tiger in 1974 when the comics merged, then Eagle in 1985 and in the year OiNK appeared he transferred to the pages of Roy of the Rovers. He definitely had staying power. It starred Billy Dane who inherited an old pair of football boots which once belonged to ‘Dead-Shot’ Kean and somehow enabled Billy to play in the style of the soccer superstar.

It may have been a strip in a sister title to OiNK, also published by IPC Magazines but that didn’t mean it wasn’t ripe for sending up.

Apart from the character names, the captions in the first two panels are nearly word-for-word how the original strip was introduced in the pages of Roy’s weekly. This just makes what comes after even funnier of course. Just like in that strip, here there’s no reason given as to how the boots have these powers. I doubt they laughed at Billy Dane’s expense either! A brilliant spoof that just gets more and more ludicrous as it goes along and it wouldn’t be the last time OiNK would take aim at its stablemates, as you’ll see further below.

Bobby’s Boots was drawn by Chas Sinclair, a prolific OiNK cartoonist who’d contribute to 37 issues altogether. Before he was hired by Uncle Pigg his work included Basil Brush for TV Comic and Crazy Horse in Plug, the Bash Street Kids spin-off comic. I was delighted to find out he’s still drawing and regularly updates his Instagram account with doodles, illustrations and full strips. It was written by Lew Stringer and according to Lew it was one of the first scripts he’d written for someone else to draw, and he was thrilled Chas was selected because he’d read those Basil Brush strips himself and been a fan. (Watch out for a sensational Lew script drawn by the equally sensational J.T. Dogg starting in #15.)

Some other highlights from this issue include The Sekret Diary ov Hadrian Vile – Aged 7 5/8 (yearƨ) in which we find out Hadrian had a sister, even though she’d only be born in the comic some time next year. Maybe this one had enough of her little brat of a brother and scarpered. On the Grunts letters page we did actually get a winner to the afterthought of a competition written below #7‘s postcards and in Tom Thug a little sign signals a tiny one-off strip from #6 is returning as a serial. Excited yet?

Back at the beginning of the comic, David Haldane‘s Billy’s Brain strip saw a kid inherit his genius Uncle Vincent’s brain which could think for itself and move of its own accord. Every issue a pair on inept thieves would try to steal the brain from Billy but in the last handful of issues this concept has been changed somewhat. Dropping the thieves completely the strip now focusses almost entirely on Vincent’s brain going off on solo adventures, and it’s a lot more enjoyable as a result.

I can remember Billy’s Brain from childhood so I was surprised to find out my first issue back then (#14) would be his last regular appearance. He’d pop up in a special, an annual and two issues further down the line but that would be it. I was sure he was a regular when I read the comic back in the 80s but with so many strips coming and going from OiNK, perhaps the fact I did see him a few times tricked my old brain when thinking back.

I do love an 80s movie, especially if it contains a good soundtrack, but I don’t think Mary Lighthouse (critic) was as appreciative at the time. Up next is her top ten movie list, although these are films she insists you do not see! Given her appearances so far you’d expect her to hate anything with a smidgen of violence, but wait until you read her reasons for wanting to ban E.T., Cinderella and even The Sound of Music!

Her comments about Cinderella in particular had me roaring! In a later interview with editors Patrick Gallagher, Tony Husband and Mark Rodgers in computer magazine Crash! we’d find out the real Mary Whitehouse’s people were constantly checking the pages of OiNK for libel, though I know of no point when they actually complained about this character. The thing is, to check for libel they had to buy the comic!

Ed McHenry was the go-to guy for OiNK’s little puzzle sections and in this issue he brings us Barry Norham’s Movie Quiz. It contains the usual seemingly easy questions with silly, bizarre answers (upside-down at the bottom of the page). For example, “In which film does The Invisible Man appear?” Easy, right? The answer is, “He never appears, he’s invisible.” See what I mean?

With that in mind, do you think you can complete the answer to this brain teaser?

The answer is at the bottom of the review.

Moving on now to our final highlight for this issue. OiNK was my first comic and before I started discovering adventure comics and the like I would sometimes pick up other humour titles to try them out. This would normally be when I had to go somewhere with my parents on the train and I can remember a few journeys with a copy of Whizzer and Chips. It felt a little different to the others, none of which really made me laugh, probably due to my being used to OiNK’s humour!


“Take that, you stereotype Whizzer-and-Chips bully!”

Tom in Tom’s Toe


While it was still more of a traditional comic, Whizzer and Chips felt like two in one (Whizzer for the outer 16 pages, Chips for the inner 16) and while it wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny it certainly raised a smile. OiNK was anything but traditional and would often poke fun at more established comics, labelling them as boring and predictable. I remember The Dandy and Beano being particular favourite targets, though in reality Mark Rodgers was a huge fan of both. You see, there’s a difference between parody, which is what these were, and satire. I’ll go into that in more depth in a later review.

Here, editor and writer of this strip Tony Husband teams up with legendary cartoonist John Geering to poke fun directly at the aforementioned comic. Even the strapline is hilariously generic!

Jonn should surely need no introduction, having created Bananaman and worked on many traditional DC Thomson comics such as the two mentioned above, alongside some of IPC’s own titles like Cheeky Weekly and Knockout. I think it was a genius idea to have him come on with his signature artwork to do Tom’s Toe and send up the kind of strips he’d normally contribute to other comics! However, unlike his other work he was given full credit on the page for this strip.

“John Geering was an acquaintance of Tony’s from pre-OiNK days whom I was introduced to later when OiNK first started,” Patrick told me. “John was working for Cosgrove Hall at the time on Danger Mouse and Count Duckula, alongside Andy Roper – they were both frequent visitors to the OiNK studio and John was delighted at the suggestion that he should parody his own style. And Bob Paynter thought it was a great idea, too (albeit, to bite the hand that fed him!)” Brilliant stuff!

Unfortunately John is no longer with us, having passed away in 1999, working on Beano right up to the end. An obituary to this great talent can be found on The Independent website.

So the screen fades to black on another issue of OiNK, the lights have come back on and we’ve got sticky soda-encrusted popcorn stuck to our shoes. In two weeks the gang will all be back with the perfectly timed #13, the Hallowe’en Special, so come back on Monday 18th October 2021.

QUIZ ANSWER: “________ knees and booms-a-daisy.

OiNK! #11: ON YER BiKE!

This issue of OiNK contains the conclusion to the first Street-Hogs story, the spoof adventure strip which began right back in #1 (and a prelude in the preview issue) and they’ve taken over. Not only is their strip three pages long inside but we also get this gorgeous wraparound cover poster by their incredible illustrator, J.T. Dogg and the general theme of the issue is biking. There’s even a free motorbike model. Sort of.

Things kick off brilliantly with a parody of a very famous children’s character in Nobby Gets a New Set of Wheels, credited to Ena Blighty, a riff on Enid Blyton who would continue to pop up in comedy takes of other books. Written and drawn by co-editor Patrick Gallagher it looks like a traditional children’s picture-panel comic story and his art style suits it perfectly. The real Noddy may be pushing on a bit now but I doubt he’s grown up quite like this version.

Motorbikes are all over the first few pages. Uncle Pigg runs over Mark Lighthouse who was out in the middle of the street with placards campaigning for road safetly, after which our esteemed editor reminds the viewers to never “stand in the middle of the road waving your arms about!”.  Zootown, the Golden Trough Awards, even the Plops and a new superhero Hedgehog Boy (his first and last appearance because hedgehogs, roads and motorbikes do not mix) all hit the mark with the theme and the funny bone.

One of the regulars getting in on the action is someone I haven’t introduced yet. Created by David Haldane he was a big hit with readers. In fact he was a big hit with everything, from skyscrapers to airships to whole armies. Basically, take the concept of Godzilla but change him into a friendly but ginormous hippopotamus and you have Hugo the Hungry Hippo.

No relation to the creatures in Milton Bradley/Hasbro’s tabletop game, Hugo was a complete pacifist and would only accidentally terrorise humans along the way. While the strip was basically the same set up every issue he was a fan favourite, going on to appear in 33 editions of OiNK altogether. It’s funny how our memories work sometimes, isn’t it? I was sure I remembered reading Hugo right to the end of the run but he actually disappeared not long into the comic’s second year, only reappearing randomly a few more times after that.

The main event is up next, the three-page finale to The Street-Hogs which takes over the middle of the comic. It might be initially disappointing to see this two-colour page below. It is beautifully grey-scaled though, something OiNK could do on its glossy paper that other IPC comics couldn’t on their newsprint. But anyway, this is only page one and the others are presented with the usual full-colour spread which brings the tale to a suitably crazy end.

This episode really does pack it all in. There’s even a cliffhanger for turning over the page. Between the over-the-top sound effects right out of the silly 60s Batman, to the clichéd evil lair being an underground apple sauce factory, to the final battle coming down to a faulty wig. There’s a piece of comedic genius in every panel thanks to the incredible writing talents of Mark Rodgers and the way J.T. Dogg brings it all to the page.

That next adventure alluded to in the final panel, Day of the Triffics isn’t coming as soon as readers may have hoped, we won’t see it until around this time next year. It’ll be worth the wait though and in the meantime from #15 there’ll be a brand new adventure from another much-loved porky personality, Ham Dare: Pig of the Future for all those Dogg fans!


Attach handlebar/light attachment (N) to discombobulator attachment (O) at attachment attachment point (M) attach the attachment with anything you like, as long as it doesn’t smell.

Uncle Pigg’s Road-Hogg!

From Dogg’s Hogs to the Road-Hogg, it can’t have escaped fans’ attentions that two of the superb bikes with all of their exaggerated abilities were destroyed in the strip above. Unceremoniously dragged off at the end, later in the issue came the chance for readers to build one of their own. Advertised on the cover as “a free cut-out motorbike”, in typical OiNK fashion even this had a punchline as you’ll see if you take a look at the page below. All you need to do is follow the instructions.

The person responsible for this fiendish extra was Daz, aka Dave Skillen who had already contributed some great spoof children’s stories in these early issues, such as The Wonderful Adventure of Billy Batt and his Magic Hat which I featured in #1‘s review. Brilliantly, just last year a pig pal (probably in the grip of lockdown craziness) decided to try and actually build it! Here’s what Sue M. Hall said about attempting this seemingly impossible task:

“I have spent recent weeks making the cardboard cut out motorbike, ‘Uncle Pigg’s Road Hogg’. Like Mount Everest, because it’s there. However, it was drawn with parts that did not actually fit together. You had to use your imagination, and make additional parts. I challenged myself to use as many of the parts in the drawing as I could. I also added a V- twin engine where the panels labelled Oink! were. I had to shrink the Oink lettering so as not to obscure the engine, or the pattern on the fuel tank.”

Sue shared this on the Oink! Comic Facebook group and has kindly given me permission to show it to you all here. I think you’ll agree this is a fantastic piece of model building, especially given the fact it was never actually meant to be built!

Also in this issue you’ll find Scruff of the Track which was drawn by the late Andy Roper. You can check it out in all its glory on the obituary post for Andy posted earlier this year. Both The Sekret Diary ov Hadrian Vile and Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins have strong anti-bullying messages delivered with plenty of laughs, Burp’s attempts to befriend us humans once again go awry after his window cleaning (via his gigantic tongue) doesn’t account for one small detail, then Billy’s Brain partakes in some Highland Games for gentle mocking.

None of these four highlights may involve the subject but it was never a hard and fast rule, more of a suggestion. I’m sure behind the scenes there would’ve been back and forth between the editors and the contributors to make sure enough of the contents matched the overall theme, but even this could vary from issue to issue so we never knew what to expect.

Two weeks ago we were treated to not only one of the best Mr. Big Nose instalments from Jeremy Banx, but also Mrs Warsaw-Pact who was sick and tired of her son making a fuss when it was time for school, so she had him put down and stuffed. Really. Well, I’m very happy to say another unique one-off can be found here, this time called Ian Nasalcavity (where does he get these names?) Visits his Grandparents. The title alone leads us to believe we’re in for another surreal treat and I was certainly not disappointed.

From stuffing a child so he’d behave in school to decapitating someone from tying a tie and leaving his body to wander aimlessly in the streets, I think it’s safe to say none of our other humour comics were producing anything remotely similar to these. What I love the most is his family’s complete lack of worry at what they’ve done; they just either stick his head back on or push him out the door, shirking all responsibility, forever leaving poor Ian to live his life without a head rather than own up.

The Hallowe’en issue of OiNK (which will be reviewed in four weeks from the time of writing) will contain more of these Banx gems so watch our for them. While I can only show a few selected highlights I think it’s a safe bet at least one of them will be included.

I often wondered what on Earth passersby would’ve thought if they saw the OiNK guys out taking photos

We’ve made our way to the end of another issue and on page 31 is the first full-page GBH Catalogue to feature in the comic. The dodgy mail order company had a hand in every pie and future issues would see them promote everything from book clubs to holidays. All contained products which were atrociously poor quality and sold for vastly over inflated prices. This BMX catalogue is certainly no exception.

I often wondered what on earth passersby would’ve thought if they saw the OiNK guys out taking the pictures for their photo stories, but what about this one? The poor fella on the bike is Patrick’s younger brother, Mike Gallagher. Patrick kindly sent me another photo of Mike to try to make up for the one above. He said it was of him at home, but actually Mike is on stage in a production of The Playboy of the Western World at The Wilmslow Green Room in Cheshire. I wonder if the GBH Catalogue is on his resume?

So that’s us, another issue of OiNK comes to a close and gets placed back onto the shelf. The next issue is the Movies Special and you’ll find the review right here on OiNK Blog on Monday 4th October 2021. But to finish off here’s one final little strip from this issue with a name that’s a play on words on my favourite novel of all time and some of my own very favourite movies and television shows. Until next time, enjoy Ian Jackson‘s War of the Worms.

OiNK! #10: A (SCHOOL) CLASS ACT

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.

This issue’s Mr. Big Nose turned a work colleague of mine into an OiNK fan.

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.

Success.

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.

Getting a reference to the Warsaw Pact into a kids’ comic could only have come from the mind of Jeremy Banx.

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.