Category Archives: OiNK Comic Reviews

OiNK! #30: THE SPiTTiNG iMAGE OF FUN!

This cover really takes me back and I’m not just talking abut OiNK itself, I’m clearly referencing the classic puppet satire show Spitting Image, whose characters were used in this edition. I was also a big fan of the series even if at that age a lot of the jokes went over my head. But there were always enough to keep me giggling for half an hour on a Sunday night. For our 30th issue they’ve collaborated with Uncle Pigg for the results of the OiNK Awards as voted for by pig pals.

We’ll get to that in a bit, although you can see from the front cover who won The World’s Biggest Wally. We kick off with our final set of free postcards, plonked in the middle of the award ceremony itself. Following up on Jeremy Banx‘s and Lew Stringer’s is Ian Jackson with these brilliant Uncle Pigg and Mary Lighthouse (critic) cards. I think both of these would’ve been great advertisements in other comics for OiNK, or made for very funny postcards to drop through the letterbox of unsuspecting family members waiting for a picturesque beach or mountaintop.

The issue itself begins with Mary’s own strip welcoming us to the subject of celebrities. Written as ever by Mark Rodgers and again drawn by Ian, she’s disgusted that respected famous people would be getting the OiNK treatment like this, but thinks the inclusion of herself on one of the postcards will send the right message. Naturally, it doesn’t quite work out as she planned and my favourite funny moment here comes right at the end with that poor policeman!

There’s another very important award to hand out this issue, the ‘Most Helpful Superhero Award’ so surely that means our resident high-flying, highly smelly Rubbish Man by David Haldane is up for a gong. Well no, apparently his whiffy antics aren’t award material. While he can make a hash of things, most times he does end up saving the day, but with that comes the pong and the mess left behind; not of destroyed buildings and terrified citizens but of mouldy mashed potatoes and cold spaghetti bolognese left everywhere. However, now he’s on a mission to prove he deserves recognition as a true hero.

This is one of my favourite Rubbish Man strips and contains nearly all of the elements that made David’s creation so enjoyable. We’ve got a ridiculous situation to begin with, an introduction of another completely random enemy character, an unsurpassed level of ever-increasing daftness in every single panel, our hero trying his best but failing epically and an ending you won’t see coming. In fact, the only thing missing is those aforementioned rotting foodstuffs he’d secrete from various parts of his body, with only his stench in the first panels reminding us of his unwelcome powers.

Even an old armchair can be a superhero in Haldane’s world, and even an old armchair that’s in the right spot by pure chance is a more welcome hero for the populace. Poor Rubbish Man! But Jimmy Bung (his alter-ego) isn’t the only character whose attempts at helping others regularly backfires, as equally (if not, more so) smelly alien Burp can attest. In this issue his latest invention teleports fast food straight into people’s stomachs so they don’t have to taste it but as always it doesn’t go quite as planned, as you can see in one of this issue’s many highlights. Also, check out Steve Gibson’s fruity version of Dustin Hoffman on the celebrity news page and our Wonder Pig gets yet another new name.

It’s time for the main event. With categories such as Worst Pop Group, Worst Dressed Person, Unfunniest Comedian and even Worst Comic, the readers of OiNK didn’t hold back in sharing what they thought of celebrities and 80s culture. There are quite a few on the shortlist, and even some I was a huge fan of at the time but it was all in good jest, giving the young readers the chance to take their own pot shots at the likes of those OiNK had targeted since the very beginning.

Taking up four pages in the middle of the issue we first get a chance to see each of the ten categories and the top three contenders in each. This opens out into the spread in the middle of the comic with those glorious Spitting Image Workshop puppets accepting the awards (a printed piece of card on a lanyard), although there was a particular recipient who looked incredibly lifelike as you’ll see! Tony Husband organised the photoshoot with the programme and Ian Tilton was the photographer (as an aside, Ian’s brother Mark was in the band The Creepers with OiNK’s Marc Riley), with radio DJ John Peel presenting the Most Annoying DJ Award. John had already contributed to #16 and had even played the flexidisc on air.

Kudos to Steve Wright for going along to accept this. Tony told me recently Steve was great on the day and had a brilliant sense of humour about the whole thing when he found out. Given who helped with this it’s a surprise to see The Chicken Song take away the World’s Worst Pop Song Award, although let’s face it Spitting Image’s song was purposefully written to be very annoying; a parody of the string of summer pop entries that were filling the 80s charts. Bob Geldof and Ronald Reagan get well-deserved titles, although I can’t help but disagree with George Michael‘s and I’ve at least a few female friends who might take issue with the pig pals over that one!

The OiNK team would go on to work closely with the Spitting Image Workshop on their Round the Bend TV series

All British comics are eclipsed by Beano, a regular target of OiNK’s for its safe humour and out-of-date characters at the time so it had a good chance of winning the Worst Comic Award. It’s completely reimagined itself over the intervening years and today contains a lot of rebellious, anarchic humour that would make Uncle Pigg proud, not least thanks to some contributors who grew up with our piggy publication. It’s a great comic and if you’ve any kids yourselves then you should definitely take advantage of the superb online subscription offers they always run.

The OiNK team would go on to work closely with the Spitting Image Workshop on their Round the Bend TV series, the puppets of which were designed by co-creator/editor Patrick Gallagher, and later in the 90s he’d be a commissioned writer on Spitting Image for six years. What a shame this was the only awards ceremony the comic would do, despite these being labelled as the first. It’s brilliant fun and looked like it was a blast to be a part of. As far as this reader is concerned it remains one of the most memorable highlights of the comic’s whole run. For now, let’s move on to something more “interleckshual”.

Hadrian Vile’s unique perspective perfectly matches the subject matter here. Taking a fresh look at the royals, politicians and more from the viewpoint of a child is a good idea on its own, but Hadrian’s character elevates it. He always thought of himself as being intellectually superior to pretty much everyone around him, so his child’s viewpoint is presented very matter-of-fact, very seriously in his young mind. Of course this means it’s all completely bonkers, just perfect for 80s culture!

Written by Mark Rodgers and illustrated by Ian Jackson, it’s always funny to see Ian’s interpretation of famous people, his jagged, exaggerated style perfectly capturing personalities as well as looks. In a way this page seems to go hand-in-hand with all of the television puppets contained in this issue. It’s also not the only time that British Prime Minister popped up in this issue, in fact she gets a starring role in the origin story of a certain critic and nemesis of our editor hog.


Two legs bad. Four legs better.

Davey’s Jones’ Prime Monster

Davey Jones brings us Prime Monster (as ever with Davey it’s even signed in a silly way), which takes place a few decades before the 80s when we find two young girls by the names of Margaret and Mary down on the pig farm. The two little spoilt brats have reckoned with the wrong set of little piglets to bully because in amongst their number is one teeny tiny pig who has already got the prerequisite pencil behind his ear. Amongst all the chaos Davey has even seen fit to include a couple of very OiNK-like riffs on a famous George Orwell quote! A great strip. Here it is, have fun.

Of course these two women would’ve been the best of childhood friends! At least in OiNKtown anyway. Yes, the characters and their stories were set in ‘OiNKtown’, a basic take on Beanotown. In the earlier issues PORKsmouth was used a couple of times but more as a place to ridicule and, obviously, somewhere Mary Lighthouse loved to visit. Surely Porksmouth would’ve been a better name than OiNKtown though? Anyway, I digress (as I do). For now that’s the end of the review, with just enough space to tell you about what’s coming up next.

The next regular OiNK will be its all-American issue and its review will be here from Monday 13th June 2020 but before that there’s a special extra to watch out for in the shape of Crash magazine #42. Regular readers of the blog will know what this is in reference to, but if you’re not up to speed go and check out the post about Zzap!64 #26 from last month. Crash not only contained an interview with OiNK’s three creators and an original Frank Sidebottom page, there was also the small matter of a special, free, original 16-page edition of our favourite comic! Check out Crash from Saturday 25th June 2022! It was an exciting time to be a pig pal in 1987, I hope I can recreate a little of that excitement right here.

OiNK! #29: MUSiC TO MY EARS

Okay, so full disclosure before we kick off this review: I bloody love 80s music! During that decade, as the youngest of five children I heard a constant stream of music coming from the bedrooms of my siblings. Sunday afternoons would find them all in one bedroom listening to the radio chart show, and Top of the Pops gathered the family together every week (usually with complaints from the parents). One-by-one as my brother and sisters moved out in the 90s they’d leave their cassettes behind and I began to discover my own musical tastes. Decades later songs from the 1980s fills up the majority of my Apple Music library.

So with that in mind I’m very happy to introduce you to #29 of OiNK, the Nasty, Noisy Music Issue which kicks off with another fun Ian Jackson cover and more free postcards. Having Ian’s jagged, colourful Uncle Pigg serenading critic Mary Lighthouse promises much hilarity inside and it’s not a spoiler to say that promise is well kept. Prolific OiNK cartoonist Lew Stringer brings his two famous creations Pete and his Pimple and Tom Thug to the pieces of card tucked away in the centre of the comic, and thus began pimples and bird droppings zooming around the world’s postal services in the summer of ’87.

Upon opening the comic the first thing I saw on the Grunts page was an apology to a Madonna fan club for a cheeky reference to the pop star back in #16, the previous musically-theme Pop Music Issue. You can see the original ‘Celebrity Lookalike’ they ran with the so-called apology underneath. Of course, the club members should’ve known better, or perhaps they would’ve fully expected Uncle Pigg to make a joke of it somehow. But they definitely should’ve provided their address, that bit of ridicule was completely their own fault.

I always loved the variety of input from readers on the Grunts pages and this is a great example. If you ever featured in the pages of OiNK do drop me a line in the comments here or on the blog’s social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook). I’ve a list of every contribution made by readers so I’ll happily dig yours out. I have to say I do particularly like the ‘Set of LPs’ promo here too.

Just a few turns of the page later there’s the latest photo story but this one has some very special guest stars. Post-punk band The Mekons were headlined by Jon Langford, a musician and artist who had already contributed some brilliantly anarchic art to OiNK. He and Marc Riley are good mates and at the time were putting together a tribute album to Johnny Cash, an album that’s even been attributed to reviving Cash’s career! (The cover of which was drawn by Jon with help from Mike Taylor, an editorial assistant and artist on OiNK.)

For this issue Jon wasn’t just going to draw a strip, he was going to star in it and he brought his bandmates with him. Going by the name The Mekoneros it took place in the Wild West (filmed in Yorkshire) and was set to a song about ‘The Devil’s Herd of Pigs’. Jon himself stars as Bad Jake and looks to be having the best time gurning to the camera and, as with all OiNK photo strips, exaggerating every movement and story beat.

This wouldn’t be the last time we’d see The Mekons in a photo story either, they’d come back to fight off dinosaurs (well, cheap dinosaur toys) in a trip to the distant past in that typical OiNK fashion of not being convincing whatsoever. From memory it’s a good ‘un so I’ll most likely be including it here when the time comes. Keep your eyes peeled for that one.

Jimmy (The Cleaver) Smith’s look was perfect, a fantastically creepy design that thrilled the young pig-loving readers

Next up Tony Husband pens a ghost story which is brought to the page by artist Les ‘Lezz’ Barton. It keeps all of the usual trappings of a ghost story while weaving in the theme of the issue and having a genuinely laugh-out-loud ending. A staple of ghost stories are the lone figures found to return time and again to one particular place, often performing a particular action from their life or accompanied by a horrible, terrifying noise, perhaps related to the moment of their death or a past traumatic event. 

I love Tony’s take on this idea with it’s fresh twist, while also answering the question of how exactly would you describe the noice bagpipes make?! Tony expertly plays up to traditional ghost stories and stereotypes with affection and gentle digs, from the initial set up to the overuse of the phrase “the noo”, with that ending providing the biggest laugh of course. 

Jeremy Banx brings us a Butcher Watch Re-update (after all a simple ‘Update’ or ‘Part Two’ is just too normal) on the whereabouts of notorious butcher (and the comic’s in-house nemesis) Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith. Now established as a firm fan favourite, Jimmy would appear randomly for the rest of the comic’s run, even in a regular strip in the weekly issues as the villain of a piece about a famous butcher hunting pig. Jimmy’s look was perfect, a fantastically creepy design that thrilled the young pig-loving readers.

That panel with the caption about the possibility of him being in the reader’s house, while he silently clambers in through an open window at night is especially unsettling. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a criticism about unsettling images in a kid’s comic, not at all, we lapped this up! We loved the shudder up our spines that strips like this gave us and the more horrific Jimmy’s antics were the better! Of course, there was never anything actually unsuitable, he was more like our version of a good Doctor Who villain for the kids; someone to thrill us from the safety of our comic’s pages.

Just before we move on I had to include another of Jeremy’s classic characters, Mr Big Nose. Co-editor Tony Husband once told me he loved Jeremy’s work so much because he would just let his mind go wherever it led, and that’s just the best way of describing his OiNK work. Here, Mr Big Nose is putting on a sold-out concert where he hums popular songs, because of course he would.

The joke is right there in the first panel of the strip and it’s just played out again and again over the next four. But it doesn’t get stale. In fact that’s what I find so funny about it, how we get example after example of the ridiculous set up. Genius. As always.

Other highlights this issue include educating the young ‘uns about classic music with Beethoven, in The Golden Trough Awards piano lessons bite back, there’s a special (and I quote) “Psy-Psy-ss-Psycho-o Gr-Gr-an-Gran Rap’ and Helen Jones and Graham Exton make cameos (whether they like it or not!) in Hadrian Vile.

Madonna’s face isn’t the only link back to #16’s pop music theme. That issue also had the most unique competition I’ve ever seen in a comic, to win a pop concert in your own home. Le Lu Lus were fans of OiNK and contacted the team about collaborating. This ultimately resulted in Martin Benster from Pretwich and his friends (as well as his poor mum) watching a performance of the band in the comfort of their own house. Best of all this wasn’t just announced on the Grunts page, instead a full strip was created so Martin could actually appear in the comic, with his mum as part of the punchline at the end.

On the back cover is a glorious colour pin up from Simon Thorp and it’s just the first in a line of spoof movie posters that would become fan favourites over the next several months. From RoboChop to Butcherbusters, Simon’s brilliant take on popular movies with a piggy twist are some of the most requested pages for inclusion in this blog. He kicks off his semi-regular series with The Sownd of Music.

Simon even includes credits, with everything reworded into piggy puns and ploppy parodies, right down to the little production company name beside the title and his take on Cinemascope. Back when movie posters were all hand-painted rather than photographs these really felt close to the original designs. However, even with all that hard work Simon has put into creating that brilliant image I laughed the most at the simplest little joke, the movie’s certificate; adding just one lower case ‘i’ ends the issue with one of its best gags.

That’s us for another two weeks. The next issue of OiNK is very special indeed. Do you remember those silly award categories readers were asked to send in nominations for back in the Hogmanay issue at the start of the year? It’s nearly time to find out how they all voted. It’s a who’s-who of 80s celebrities and culture, all brought to life by none other than Spitting Image! It’s an absolute hoot and the highlights will be here in the next review from Monday 13th June 2022.

OiNK! #28: WHEN PiGS FLY

There are a lot of exciting and funny things on this cover, beginning with the main event of Superham as drawn by Ron Tiner. Look closer at the accompanying details for more laughs, such as the “Trouser Press” approval spoof of the Comics Code Authority, and OiNK‘s own version of DC Comics‘ logo from the time tucked away in the top corner. We’ll get to the Ham of Steel in a little bit, but there’s an announcement on the cover for the latest free gifts!

The last gifts given away by OiNK were the three parts of the gigantic poster calendar from the end of the previous year (check out #17 for the full product) and again we have three issues in a row with something extra tucked away inside. Unlike the cut-out postcards in #7 these are actual cards which can be easily removed and sent by readers. Each pair would be drawn by a different artist, beginning with Jeremy Banx.

I can remember taking a couple of these on holiday with me back in 1987 and definitely the Burp one. I can’t remember using them though, whether through forgetfulness or changing my mind and not wanting to send them away. Are postcards even a thing anymore when people can just check in on social media or send photos instantaneously back home? I’m not sure, but in the 80s these were a great idea and each one is a brilliant little gift in its own right. The next two issues will contain postcards by Lew Stringer and Ian Jackson, so make sure you check them out.

Back in the Valentine’s issue the Peanuts gang, namely Charlie Brown, Snoopy etc got renamed the Peabrains in a one-off (I assumed) strip complete with some spoof merchandise advertising. As I said at the time I was never a fan of the cartoon or newspaper strips but I still enjoyed OiNK’s version which was created by Patrick Gallagher. Surprisingly, the strip returns but this time Snooby is drawn by David Leach who was best known for Psycho Gran. Here, the little dog is daydreaming, something he was known for in the cartoon and which we’d see brought to life by his imagination. Sitting on top of his kennel he imagines being a heroic fighter pilot. But this is a strip by David Leach so expect the unexpected.

Well I did say that’s who David was known for, didn’t I? I’d forgotten all about this ending, although as soon as Snooby metaphorically took to the air it all came back to me. I’d like to think as a child I didn’t spot Psycho in the final panel until I’d read the full strip because the reveal of the jet itself is so brilliantly drawn and her grin at the end just hilarious.

Alongside the captions the images tell a different, highly exaggerated version of the same events

In 1987 Superman IV: The Quest For Peace had just been released in cinemas and, while not the most successful of the franchise, its marketing was surely everywhere, making him a big, timely target for OiNK. Mark Rodgers took on writing duties for Superham and cover artist Ron Tiner returns for the three-page strip itself. It all kicks off on familiar territory, the narrative captions keeping surprisingly true to the tale of the lone refugee from an alien world movie goers were all too familiar with.

However, alongside those captions the images tell a different, highly exaggerated version of the same events and this is where the laughs come from. The story continues with highlights of Superham’s fight against evil, including a brilliant panel depicting him flying faster than the speed of light. So fast in fact he breaks through time itself and comes upon a spectacular sight. I won’t ruin the surprise because it’s on that third page we get the big punchline.

This is classic Mark, with a very funny twist in the tale and the ever-perpetuating series of events brought on by the “stupid rhinoceros” of a superhero. I’ll admit the recent movies did little to endear me to the inspiration behind this spoof, but with a much more entertaining version of the character taking pride of place on BBC One’s Saturday teatime schedule again this feels like another timely read for this funny take on the original superhero. Great stuff.

I say well done to the OiNK team for printing this page and standing up to the bullies!

The next page is as unique as you’ll find in any of our childhood comics. Back in #7 a strip called Janice and John and the Parachute Jump appeared which has (incorrectly) gone down in history as making a bigger furore than it did; it’s even been written that it was the reason behind OiNK’s cancellation 61 issues later, which is just ridiculous. Yes, an official complaint was made with The Press Council who looked into the story in question. The complaint was dismissed in the end but OiNK wasn’t about to just let this moment pass, as you can see with the following page.

I can’t remember reading this as a child so I haven’t a clue what I made of it, but nowadays it reminds me of working in BBC Complaints and the amount of people who’d want an entire series cancelled because they personally didn’t want their licence fee paying for it (never mind the millions who watched it and were also paying their licence fee), or the myriad of Daily Mail comments Dave Gorman would use to great effect in his Modern Life is Goodish TV show. Even today in the UK and America we have books and comics being banned all in the name of “freedom” without a hint of irony.

So I say well done to the OiNK team for printing this page and standing up to the bullies! It’s refreshing and damned funny in its own right, especially how it can’t help but stir things up a little more with that final gag at the bottom referencing a non-existent next chapter. Janice and John would return in a story about a thermonuclear reactor though, as promised at the end of #7’s story. That wouldn’t be seen until #41, possibly held back until the outcome of the complaint was known and the whole thing was in the past.

I don’t think any other comic would’ve been this brave and I commend the editors for deciding to do this. Recently, Helen Jones very kindly sent me a wonderful package containing the original complaints and responses including those from The Press Council and IPC’s John Sanders. They’re a fascinating read and will be on the blog soon. A famous moment from OiNK’s history but one which very few seem to accurately write about. I hope I can help set the record straight.

Moving on for now and another superstar of the comics world joins the sty as Mike Higgs draws Infamous Failures of Aviation, written by Lew Stringer.

It’s a cracker script by Lew (or ‘Biggles’) and Mike’s work really stands out, his style easily identifiable to anyone familiar with his strips elsewhere. Mike was best known for creating The Cloak in 1967 for Pow!, as well as bringing his unique artwork to Space School and Thundercap for Whizzer and Chips and Buster respectively. He (and The Cloak in particular) was a big influence on Lew when he was creating his Combat Colin character for Action Force comic.

Lew worked as Mike’s assistant in the early 80s for a range of children’s books and they became good friends. When OiNK came along Lew suggested bringing Mike back to comics for the first time in years to co-editor Mark Rodgers. This was his first appearance in the comic and he’d be back another eight times. Even though he’s better known for appearing in more traditional titles, there was never anything traditional about his work. As such, I think he’s a perfect addition to Uncle Pigg’s team and I look forward to seeing what else he brings to future issues.

Writer Graham Exton (whose name I haven’t seen mentioned in the fortnightly in several months) and artist Davey Jones produced another funny little OiNK mini-strip but this one is a little special because Davey has previously shared an original rough sketch by Mark Rodgers as well as his own thoughts on his finished product. I saved this away for future reference and it’s nearly time to share this little insight into the creation of OiNK. I say nearly because it deserves its own post so watch out for that in the days after this review.

Mike Higgs’ son also makes an appearance this issue, sort of, in a scrawled shout out on an office desk in Lew’s Pete and his Pimple as the young Mr Throb dreams of being the high-flying Captain Pimply superhero. Smelly alien Burp isn’t being anywhere near as daring at the beginning of his strip though. More classic highlights to long-running OiNK favourites.

Our heroic Wonder Pig is back again with another name change, another ill-fated attempt at heroism and it all kicks off when his owner falls down another pit. Lashie the Wonder Pig is written by Tony Husband and drawn by Chas Sinclair and it’s this repetition of events which makes it so very funny indeed. In fact, this issue’s strip will be all the funnier if you’ve read the one I included in the highlights to #18. So go read that first and then come back here to read this next strip. Go on then!

This is a great way of parodying the TV series and movies of a certain Border Collie and their own repetitive nature. But just like Lassie‘s fans didn’t mind, our own Lashy (well, that’s the spelling for now anyway) also had fans who craved the same things happening again and again. The more strips that appeared the funnier these got. They wouldn’t appear too regularly, if they had maybe we would’ve grown tired of the formula but as such their semi-regular surprise appearances were always a hit.

Our flying special comes to an end with news the next issue is a ‘Mirthful Musical Issue’. Regular readers may be thinking this is a repeat of the subject from #16 but that issue was all about the world of pop music, our next one takes in the whole of the musical world and nothing is off limits. Think of the difference between #6‘s ‘Animal Crackers Issue’ and #27‘s ‘Big, Soft Pets Issue’. There’s even going to be a very special appearance from a famous post-punk band in a photo story, so it’s definitely not to be missed.

So save your bookmarks, follow on socials or sub to the blog so you’ll get notified on Monday 30th May 2022 of the latest OiNK review!