Category Archives: OiNK Comic Reviews

OiNK! HOLiDAY SPECiAL #1: HAM-MOCK HOG

The first special edition of OiNK arrived alongside #25 and a fortnight before the first birthday issue. It was surely a time for pig pals to celebrate. An absolute treat, the 1987 Holiday Special is a “big, fat” comic made up of 48 pages and is chock full of our favourite characters and loads of one-off content all linked to the summer holiday vibe. It all kicks off with possibly one of my very favourite comic covers of all time; a brilliantly set up photograph of a model clay Uncle Pigg lounging in his hammock, cooled off by critic Mary Lighthouse who, along with everything else, is a cardboard cut out.

It’s a piece of pure genius from Ian Jackson and so distinct is it in my memory I can recall taking it with me on holiday a few months after I got it to read it all over again, the cover drawing attention and laughs from some of my older siblings. I think one or two of them actually read it as a result! Of course, this wasn’t the last time modelling clay was used to produce an OiNK cover. In fact, it would create the most memorable one of all, one that would be the face (literally) of what remains my favourite childhood book to this day, The OiNK! Book 1988. You’ll see that towards the end of the year.

Put these two OiNK titans together and you get Herbert Bowes, a man with a dog up his nose!

The first interior highlight for me is a double whammy of two strips featuring a character we’d only see in this Holiday Special. They’re written by Graham Exton, a writer who contributed so much to OiNK, especially in the early issues and who was instrumental in the creation of some of its characters. It’s barmy, completely ridiculous and so perfectly captured by one of my favourite cartoonists, Jeremy Banx. Jeremy’s artwork lends itself wonderfully to random one-off strips and he has a hilariously surreal sense of humour. Put these two OiNK titans together and you get Herbert Bowes, a man with a dog up his nose!

You wouldn’t have seen the likes of this in any other summer special on the shelf, that’s for sure. While OiNK would never fail to surprise us, regular readers were accustomed to the random nature of the comic and I do wonder what those who picked up the specials for a holiday trip, or who received the annuals for Christmas without having read the fortnightly would’ve thought. I’d love to have seen their reactions and, if my friends were anything to go by, hear their surprised laughter.

Speaking of surprising laughter.

Back when I was writing the previous blog I took this edition to the hospital with me one day to pass the time in the waiting room before my appointment. I had a little chuckle inwardly to myself over Herbert Bowes and moved on, but then a few pages later something rather embarrassing happened which I simply had no control over. Billy Connolly once spoke about what he called “real laughter”. Not the ‘ha, ha, ha’ kind, but the loud, involuntary noise that can erupt from our mouths when something surprising really hits our funny bone. Surrounded by a lot of very serious looking people in that waiting room, I was in completely the wrong place for that to happen. Then I turned the page and saw the title of the next strip.

I erupted. It was only for a second because I caught myself and tried to stop it coming out but it was too late. In hindsight I’d have been better letting it happen, at least everyone else would’ve actually known I was laughing! Instead, what came out was a loud honk before I closed my mouth, my body shaking a little from wanting to carry on with the laugh. I have no idea what they all thought of me, I could feel them looking but my gaze never left the comic, too embarrassed to look up. I’m not one to care about what other people think of me, but I can’t help wonder. I mean, you should’ve heard that honk.

The final reveal never fails to make me laugh, no matter how often I see this

It was worth it though. I quickly scanned the rest of the special to see if there were any other surprises in store from this character but alas there were none. Graham and Jeremy’s creation would unfortunately never reappear, even though Graham tells me a third episode was planned in which Herbert had the Starship Enterprise up his nose. Despite this being a one-time appearance he’ll remain a memorable addition to OiNK.

The same can be said of the next little treasure, a half-page strip written by David Haldane and drawn by Pete Dixon, this being his sole contribution to OiNK. This is also the first time I’ve noticed Rubbish Man and Hugo the Hungry Hippo‘s cartoonist Haldane writing for anybody else. I can’t help read this while in my head ever-increasing dramatic music accompanies each successive panel, that final reveal never (never ever) failing to make me laugh, no matter how often I see this.

Only in OiNK.

While the focus for me with this edition are very much the one-offs, the special strips and features produced to accompany us on our hols, some of the regular characters have some classic stories to tell. My favourite is The Hollyday Diary ov Hadrian Vile in which he, his dog and his parents head to the beach. Written as ever by Mark Rodgers and brought to life by Ian Jackson this is arguably the funniest strip yet for the eight and five-eighths-year-old and it’s a ton of fun.

It all starts off innocently enough. For once, Hadrian isn’t making mischief as the story begins. In fact, for the most part his intentions are actually good, apart from the outrageous lie he tells when those good intentions land him in hot water. So it begins with him spending some quality time with his dad, burying him in the sand as a lot of young children love to do while his dad catches forty winks in the sun. It’s after he returns from collecting his usual array of disgusting things that it all takes a turn for the worse.

My two favourite moments here are when Hadrian returns to find nothing but his dad’s hat and the worst thought that enters his mind is being sent to bed without supper. Then directly below is that hilarious panel of a passing stranger frantically racing the tide to free the poor man from the sand. The middle panel of his mum standing with folded arms glaring down upon Hadrian would become something of a running joke in the regular comic too. As the other family members became more prominent we’d see this expression often and it was funny every single time.

Time to have a quick look at a smorgasbord of highlights this special edition offers up. Rubbish Man is on holiday and even though we have a giant fried egg monster I can’t help but laugh at the jokes at the expense of English vacationers (and where they choose to holiday). When a young Tom Thug tries to bully a baby we get the origin of his bent nose and in Sgt. Barnpot and his Screaming Maniacs the lead character thinks we’re still at war with everyone because of comics, and Lew Stringer takes a little shot at the ever-merging titles of the day.

It appears even our resident alien Burp isn’t a fan of English tourists (both Rubbish Man’s and Burp’s cartoonists are English) and on his trip around the galaxy his holiday snap produced uproarious laughter in kids everywhere (well, it did for me anyway) and we’ve a Frank Sidebottom board game which could be played with some absolutely lovely player pieces. The Thunderbirds one is my favourite. Finally, Tom’s Toe made a very welcome return in a story about pollution and climate change which had a rather unique solution to the ever-growing problem.

As well as Tom there are a few other returning characters. In reality this would’ve been because work on specials always starts a long time in advance. Producing an extra, larger edition of a comic is great but working on it can’t disrupt the regular editions, so work begins very early. When it commenced here a lot of these characters were still regulars or semi-regulars in the fortnightly. Billy’s Brain is in here, even Bony Hart makes a reappearance and one of the more memorable early characters pops back up, Jim Needle‘s Pete’s Pup.

It’s strange for me to think this was my first encounter with the monstrous shaggy dog as a child. He would also appear in the birthday issue released two weeks after this special hit shelves but after that he’d only return for a reprint in the second OiNK Book. I became reacquainted with the comic in my 30s, but right up to that point in my mind he’d been a main character. Weird.

Readers will get plenty of entertainment out of this thanks to its manic pace, dark humour and chaotic atmosphere

Now, let’s move on to what would surely be the main event for many comics fans. At the time I was unaware of who Kevin O’Neill is but today I know the man as something of a legend in the industry. Drawing the image of Tharg on the cover of the very first 2000AD he would go on to produce incredible work for OiNK’s stablemate, most memorably for me the stunning Nemesis the Warlock. In 1986 his whole style proved unsuitable for the American Comics Code Authority but thankfully DC went ahead and published his Tales of the Green Lantern anyway. Later, he would create Marshal Law and team up with Alan Moore for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. For OiNK’s Holiday Special he drew a four-page parody called The Game is Greed, written by Mark Rodgers.

Lew Stringer was friends with both Kevin and Dave Gibbons, another legendary comic artist who’d appear in the pages of OiNK. They’d meet up frequently at London comic marts and when Lew found out Kevin was a fan of OiNK he asked him if he’d like to contribute. His first strip was actually a collaboration with Lew called The Truth About Santa for The OiNK Book 1988, then later he drew this brilliant script by Mark, but deadlines for specials and annuals being what they are this was the one that saw print first. I may not have known who he was but I adored the very unique art style and I can remember lying in bed late at night (having already read the comic that morning) pouring over all of the funny details for a long time. I’d never seen anything like this.

Kevin’s sharp lines, exaggerated action and gorgeous colours really pop, making the strip stand out in even the quickest of skims through the issue. This is no small feat for an issue of OiNK. My inner 80s child had a field day reading this and spotting all of the contemporary celebrities we were so used to seeing on our television screens back then. Younger readers today who may not know some of them will still get plenty of entertainment out of this thanks to its manic pace, dark humour and chaotic atmosphere.

Mark’s script gives Kevin plenty of opportunities to embrace the chaos and bring his kinetic energy to the art with aplomb. My personal highlights here are the caricature of Billy Connolly on the first page, the greed of Mr and Mrs Baldmoron, the moment he’s stripped to the bone by the piranhas and of course that hilarious alligator (oh sorry, “scaly amphibious ant”) complete with Ted’s assistant showing it off from inside its mouth and the purse handles on its back! I’ve said before how the humour in OiNK stands up so well to this day. Even though this strip features 80s celebs it hasn’t aged one bit and feels like a perfect modern parody of the period. One of the very best OiNK strips since I started this whole read through.

We finish off with that old tradition of the family holidays, the puzzles and in particular the word searches that were meant to keep the kids quiet. Being OiNK, this is a somewhat unique variant on the theme. The story behind the cover is that Mary Lighthouse (critic) has found herself stranded on the same desert island as Uncle Pigg and she’s going somewhat barmy. Well, more so than usual. There’s no list of words to find, you just have to try to spot as many as possible and one definitely stands out. In typical fashion for this comic the solutions to the puzzles are just as funny as trying them out.

There we have it, the first extra special extra edition of OiNK. There’ll be more of them to come, one very soon in fact. The year 1987 was the only one during which we’d have a regular comic from beginning to end, fortnightly all the way through, with some nice extras, merchandise releases, special pull-outs and more, all culminating in the book at Christmas. What a time to be a pig pal! You’ve only a week to go until the review of the Birthday Issue. That’ll be here from Monday 18th April 2022. Catch you then.

OiNK! #25: IT CUTS ME UP!

What’s this, a price rise? It had to happen eventually, but it’s crazy to look back and think about our comics costing only 35p for all of that hard work that went into them. OiNK was already more expensive than its peers and as the likes of Buster and Whizzer and Chips went up 2p each to 26p, our piggy publication went up by 5p to the grand sum of 35p. OiNK was independently produced and printed on lovely large, glossy paper, both of which made it more expensive to produce but they also made it worth every extra penny.

This is the Toys and Hobbies Issue and it’s full of interactive elements for the young readers. By that I mean things to cut out and make. In fact, there’s so much here the comic would be nothing but a pile of twisted paper if the reader did them all! I’ll show you one further down the review. To kick things off, apparently for Hadrian Vile and his artist Ian Jackson the theme has conjured up an image of voodoo experiments. As you do. The surprises continue inside with a memorable strip involving killer playthings and the insane artwork of Jon Langford in The Terrible Toys.

Written by Mark Rodgers, this should conclusively show that even such a safe topic could be completely turned on its head by OiNK. Jon’s art always made an impression and this is no exception, especially the fang-toothed Santa Claus at the end. (This wouldn’t be the scariest Santa we’d see in OiNK.) His use of thick, heavy lines, as if he’s leaning furiously on the page as he draws, and a lovely loose freehand style bring complete chaos to anything he crafted. You can also just about see a couple of edits around copyright names, the most obvious being “Borbie Dolls” where the ‘O’ has been changed. I’m not sure what Hasbro would’ve said!

Back in #20 Lew Stringer introduced us to a new character called Specky Hector, the Comics Collector by way of a funny three panel strip. I was delighted to see his return in this issue with a full page all to himself, in which he shares his tips for what he sees as the correct way to collect and store comics, complete with ink stains and finger prints which are very unbecoming of someone who prides themselves on their mint collection. After this I looked forward to future instalments from Hector in whatever form they would take but unfortunately the character never returned to this comic. However, for pig pals who followed some of the characters to the pages of Buster after OiNK folded he would pop up on occasion and you can even read this previous blog post to find out how he’s doing today.

There are a lot of great gags here and I particularly like the front cover of The Beany. Look closely and you’ll see the strip has someone ask for credits and the star of the strip says, “Jings! We don’t run credits!” This was a dig at the comics which never credited their writers and cartoonists; something else which set OiNK apart from the very beginning. This was a specific point of difference for its creators Mark Rodgers, Tony Husband and Patrick Gallagher, that everyone should receive on-page credit for their work and it was a hot topic in the UK industry at the time. So I particularly liked this joke.


“I’m even giving up my old hobby of collecting squashed hedgehogs!”

Tom Thug

Just as a point of interest, I don’t personally protect the comics I collect and read for this blog in carded plastic bags or store them away out of sight. Mine are all proudly displayed on shelves around the small office in my house (I say office, it’s the spare bedroom with a desk instead of a bed) and can be picked up and instantly flicked through. I remember a friend years back would go to painstaking lengths to keep his comics and novels pristine and the way he’d hold them while reading looked so uncomfortable. To me, a bookshelf full of novels with cracked spines shows they’ve been loved. The same goes for my comics. Don’t get me wrong, I look after them, but comics are for consumption, to be read over and over, and most importantly loved. I don’t think Hector would really disagree with that sentiment.

Also in this issue is the second part of that Tom Thug story which began last issue. To recap, Wayne Brayne tricked Tom (not a difficult thing to do) into thinking he was seeing his older self as a decrepit pensioner spending his last days in prison, and it terrified him. Determined not to end up that way we saw him reformed, prancing down the road barefoot with bunches of flowers and a shiny halo above his head. Originally I’d thought it was just a funny ending for that issue and things would be back to normal this time. But that’s not the case and the strip kicks off with his dad getting the shock of his life.

This is a great strip, from the question mark beside the title, to his idiotic attempts at being nice and his eventual return to form. There’s even a quick reference to a hobby for the theme. I particularly like the panel where he swings at Wayne and punches the tree, the exaggerated punch and the pain in his eyes are perfect. In the end he hasn’t even returned to his normal thuggish ways out of his own choice. Instead he’s once again been manipulated by Wayne, this time at the encouragement of the locals and even Tom’s own dad. It’s a great end to a very funny two-parter.

In the pages of OiNK Wayne always reminds me of a younger version of Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye and team captain on Have I Got News For You. Interestingly however, when Tom’s strips became regular full-colour pages in Buster we found out Wayne is actually black, which was sadly a rare thing in our comics at the time. Speaking to Lew, he tells me he imagined Wayne as being black at some stage before the colour strips, however at one point OiNK gave him pink skin when someone at the office did the colouring.

Here are some of the other highlights of the issue, with Dead Fred taking on a handy new hobby, in The Sekret Diary ov Hadrian Vile the young lad’s completely normal pastimes get him into trouble, Rubbish Man uses some of his memorable superpowers to great effect and in the strangely named Blow Peter co-editor Tony Husband takes aim at the very random things the programme would’ve built and encouraged their young viewers to copy.

So on the front cover we’re told there’s a “fantastic cut-out zeo-trope” inside. It’s a name that flew over my head as a kid but when I saw the page I instantly recognised the device used to produce basic animation. The fact it was billed as “fantastic” could only mean one thing, that this was going to be on Frank Sidebottom‘s page. I wasn’t wrong. Chris Sievey‘s imagination and ability to come up with unique ideas for his character’s pages never ceased to surprise.

I remember versions of this on children’s television at the time. The correct spelling is “zoetrope”, originally named when its inventor William E. Lincoln took the Greek words meaning ‘Wheel of Life’ to describe his new toy, which produced animated drawings before the days of film. As Frank explains, once assembled and spun the user looks through the holes, each one flicking by to show the frame on the opposite side, one by one. When spun quickly this gives the illusion of motion.

With the zoetrope, a cut-out stage and finger puppets depicting Uncle Pigg, Snatcher Sam and Mary Lighthouse, as well as a DIY Harry the Head which involved cutting out his features and gluing them to a pink balloon, there wouldn’t be much left of this issue if we’d actually created everything included! I don’t remember doing any of them, or indeed any of the board games or other models which required cutting my precious OiNKs. I may not have stored them in big plastic tubs away from sunlight, but I didn’t cut any of them up! Well, apart from coupons for the merchandise, of course.

Always a great character with consistently funny strips, Jeremy Banx‘s Burp was hitting a stride about this time in OiNK’s run that would continue without faltering all the way to the end of the weeklies when he’d disappear from the comic. Between now and then he’d even get a few two-page strips and some stories so surreal they could make Jeremy’s other regular character, Mr Big Nose look positively sane (almost). This issue’s strip is a favourite of mine and shows just how out of control things can get in a Burp story.

My favourite part is the large panel showing our planet zooming through the cosmos, the speech balloons at various points in its trajectory conveying the speed at which we’re hurtling about, culminating in Burp’s brilliant line, “You’re brutal, you are!” This broke me. In an issue of OiNK it’s always going to be very difficult to point at a page and say it’s the funniest, but even though it’s a closely run race as always, this had me in stitches. It’s even signed upside down to match the final panel. Simply brilliant stuff.

Written by Tony Husband and drawn by Clive Collins, Maggie Pie Collector of Weird Things had been a semi-regular in the early issues of the comic but her most recent appearance before now was back in #14. She would only appear a few more times (twice more in the comic and once in the first annual) and given how the theme includes hobbies she just had to be present in this one. Not only did she get her usual (well, unusual) story page, she also presented us with this guide to stamp collecting.

There’s some special news in the middle of the comic.

I particularly like the Penny White and the Latverian ‘Big Brother’. At ten-years-of-age I wasn’t really aware of any world events and had never been bitten by the stamp collecting bug, but enough of my friends collected them and I’d seen enough episodes of The A-Team freeing villages that I still found them funny.

There’s some special news in the middle of the comic. Throughout its life (and after) OiNK’s team would produce four holiday/summer specials, two annuals, the Smokebusters issue for schools in the north of England and the Crash computer magazine edition. The first of these was the 1987 Holiday Special and it went on sale along with this issue as the advert below by co-editor Patrick Gallagher announced.

This was exciting as a child! I also have some very distinct memories of this particular edition, both from my childhood and from later on in life and I’ll share these with you when I review it in just seven days from now. But this wasn’t the only reason for pig pals to get excited and I’ll explain that right after our final highlight of the issue.

Drawn by Steve Gibson, Watch the Skies takes inspiration from the Highway Code’s road signs to create a symbols guide for airplane spotters everywhere. Reading just the first two had me laughing! This is the final interior contribution to the issue (the back page had a script to go with the finger puppets I mentioned earlier) and was just below the Next Issue promo, which is where the further exciting news could be found.

The next issue of OiNK is the birthday issue! That’s right, can you believe it’s already been almost a full year since this read through of the world’s greatest comic began? The issue marks the end of the comic’s first year rather than the beginning of the second as would be traditional (typical OiNK), and marks a year since the release of the preview issue. This might seem strange at first but remember the preview wasn’t a shrunk down, miniature sneak peek of what was to come, it was a full-sized issue and worthy of celebration.

But wow, a full year has passed already. There’s still plenty to look forward to over the next year-and-a-half of OiNK and next up is that Holiday Special on Monday 11th April 2022, followed swiftly by #26 on Monday 18th April. Extra rashers all round. See you all soon.

OiNK! #24: TiME FOR LAUGHS

As both an OiNK and a Doctor Who fan, seeing our editor Uncle Pigg dressed as the Doctor, swirling about through time being chased by angry butchers and all drawn by Ian Jackson is an absolute treat for my eyes. What a way to start an issue! As a kid I only began watching Doctor Who the following year and by then Sylvester McCoy was already in the role, but I was fully aware of who this parody was based on. At the time of its publication Colin Baker had finished his final series but had yet to be replaced, his character’s horrid dress sense perfectly captured here by Ian.

As we had with the first Christmas issue, this Time-Travel Special sees Uncle Pigg leave the OiNK office and set out on a multi-page strip throughout the issue, courtesy of writer Mark Rodgers. Running late, he stumbles upon butchers unloading livestock and makes a run for it, mistakenly assumed to be one of their escaped pigs. He dives into a rather familiar looking police phone box to hide and the adventure begins.

I love the fact the disguise he’s grabbed in a haphazard hurry from the local fancy dress shop is a dead ringer for the Sixth Doctor‘s eyesore of a costume and the fact it’s his trotter that gives the game away and not his piggy face! He rematerialises three more times on separate pages in the issue, the first set in prehistoric times where cavemen with butcher aprons and hats are chasing down wild boars.

He quickly sets course for home. He wants to stay because the hogs looked underfed and miserable, but he can’t change the past, it would be too dangerous. Unbeknownst to him, his sudden appearance scared the butchers so much they now worship the very animals they were trying to eat! Then it’s off to 2987AD, exactly one thousand years into the future, and suitably enough for how he got there he bumps into familiar-looking future versions of butchers, the most terrifying of all! Have a look.

I love this theme of simply adding an apron and hat, and in the case of the Daleks actual weapons (or rather, butcher’s tools) instead of their 80s sink plungers. It’s such a simple idea but absolutely hilarious. Uncle Pigg gets out of this tight spot by sharing copies of OiNK, its humour overloading their circuits and freeing the people from their tyranny. As he leaves he tells them if they need more copies for the fight they should place a regular order at their newsagents. We then see the people later worshipping a statue of him while asking, “What’s a ‘newsagent’?”

Uncle Pigg’s TARDIS pops up at various points in the issue

It’s imaginative, original and genuinely very funny throughout. Mark is nothing short of a comics writing genius and Ian’s artwork brings these ideas to life in a way that completely matches their crazy nature. It’s such a shame this would be the last time they’d create a long strip like this for the character. It’s definitely the highlight of the issue and indeed one of my favourite moments from the whole run, not least because he’s not just confined to the pages of his own story.

Much like Star Truck in #3 (and the forthcoming OiNK! Book 1988) which saw our heroes appear among the stars of other strips, so Uncle Pigg (or his TARDIS at least) pops up at various points in the issue and it was fun to spot these as a child. Heck, let’s face it, it’s fun to see it pop up now as an adult, whether it’s in the background or in a way that actually affects the plot of another story.

We can see the TARDIS floating about in Lew Stringer’s Pete and his Pimple strip after Pete accidentally fell into a time warp and also ended up in prehistoric times, then in Dick Tater, Dictator of Time written by Tim Quinn (his one contribution to OiNK) and drawn by Ed McHenry he causes a pile-up in between time zones and in Spotticus the Slave he saves the title character from being eaten by a lion. This last strip was (and I quote), “Writed and drawed bi Davey Jonsey, Pillock-of-the-Year 1981“.

The conclusion is right at the back of the comic and the solution is a simple one; just land on the butchers’ heads and free all the captured piggies. A happy ending all round! We even get a little cameo from the Doctor and this isn’t the first time Colin Baker has been immortalised in an Ian Jackson drawing. Check out #3‘s review for his earlier appearance. What a fantastic strip this has been!

The rest of the issue is just as good, with the vast majority sticking to the theme either by including time travel or being set in the distant past or future. But my first highlight is neither, it was just too funny and too memorable to leave out. It’s the first time I’ve shown an entry from this series on the blog and it might surprise pig pals to know there weren’t that many overall.

In my head the Rotten Rhymes series was in nearly every issue, particularly during the later fortnightlies but in reality there were only 13 of these funny takes on nursery rhymes, and mainly during the monthly issues towards the end of OiNK’s run. Taking a traditional nursery rhyme and changing the last line, often throwing away the need to rhyme at all, they’d be written and drawn by a variety of contributors and Humpty Dumpty by Davy Francis is one of the very best.

My memory may have let me down insofar as how many Rotten Rhymes there were, but I can actually remember reciting this in school to several of my friends. It’s strange the little random memories this blog has brought back to the surface. There are others in this series I loved but this always remained the most memorable, simply because of how brazenly it dealt with the main character! But that’s not all from Davy I want to show you from this issue.

Sometimes in humour comics a character could become a one-trick pony, their regular antics basically playing out exactly the same way every issue but perhaps in a slightly different setting. This was certainly the case with some of the other titles I dipped into back then to see if any would interest me in the same way as this one. None of them really did, so I stuck with OiNK for the time being. Some of OiNK’s own characters could appear on the surface to be examples of these repetitive strips, but in reality they were far from that. Take Davy’s Greedy Gorb for instance.

A boy who eats everything, food or otherwise, is a simple idea that could’ve run dry very quickly in lesser hands. But thanks to Davy every episode was fresh and funny, and he never failed to raise a laugh. The brilliantly named mad scientist Doctor Maddstark-Raving would also get spun off into some strips of his own now and again, such was his potential in Davy’s crazy mind.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Snatcher Sam in the comic and this issue puts that right, although not in his usual photo story format. Instead, Mike Taylor does a superb job of drawing Marc Riley as the clueless thief (and I think Pat Healy as the guard, previously seen in #7‘s Swindler Sid story). It suits the Olde English theme of the page a lot better than photographs ever could and I think the style Mike has used here is very inventive, giving it a unique feel.

As if reinventing Marc as an actual comic strip wasn’t good enough, that final pun is just brilliant. All of the ridiculousness, the seemingly random pratfalls and idiocy is all for a reason, all building to the name of this Dick Turpin-inspired highway robber. It’s nothing short of genius, in both Mark’s writing and Mike’s illustrations, hiding behind what on the surface is just plain silliness. Surely that’s the very essence of OiNK?

Chas Sinclair‘s artwork is perfect for stories such as the next one, written by Tony Husband. He has a knack of making a strip look more mature, a little more like something I might have seen in my brother’s Roy of the Rovers or something. For me this works perfectly because given OiNK’s track record so far, the more it looks like a story we’d find in a non-humour comic, the more insane and funny it usually is. Check out Scruff of the Track, Janice and John and Watery Down for instance. I’m very glad to say No News Is Good News keeps to this tradition.

I really thought the strip was going to end with James Fishpond being hit by the bus and it’d be an OiNK version of The Twilight Zone, the prediction in the newspaper actually causing the event. (The later regular strip, The Swinelight Zone would do strips like that.) But not only is it completely ridiculous how he’s able to talk aloud about how the bus is going to kill him and devise a plan to stop it from happening, all before the bus actually does so (when he clearly had time to jump out of the way), but the poor chap who does get hit is even worse! A brilliantly funny strip that uses the subject of the issue in an original way. Great stuff.

Next to this page is the first of a two-part Tom Thug strip. You might think it’d all return to normal by the next issue, but I can remember the final panel here being picked up on in #25. We welcome back Tom’s nemesis, posh clever kid Wayne Brayne who was first introduced in #10 and who would normally outsmart the dimwitted numbskull with ease, but here he’s decided to be proactive in an attempt to stop Tom’s bullying for good. As you’ll see, in a surprise twist the person punished at the end isn’t the one you’d usually expect.

Remember kids, never lower yourself to the level of the bully, even if your intentions are good. I recalled the panel of an elderly Tom but I thought I remembered it being some kind of time travel where an actual older version of himself terrified him. Nope, it’s all a ruse, but it has the same effect. Another incorrect assumption on my part was thinking it’d all simply be back to normal next time, but you’ll see I was wrong about that too.

Of course, the world sadly did lose Mark in the early 1990s, so this little gag of his is a bittersweet moment.

Back in the 80s I can remember one piece of primary school homework when we were asked to imagine what our lives would be like in the year 2000. Cue lots of moving walkways and flying cars. It seemed so far away and it’s scary to think that futuristic date is actually further into the past now than it was into the future when we were imagining it!

We weren’t the only ones to dream of life in the future and here writer Mark Rodgers and artist Ed McHenry have created this brilliant back cover to finish the issue. Using the logo of the famous sci-fi comic, a stablemate of OiNK’s from the same publisher, there’s a lot to love here in the little details. Ed is friends with Davy Francis so check out the little desk inscription next to the Cowpat Planet strip, the name of the robot churning out the art, the huge computer monitor layout still using a fiddly indoor aerial, the piggy bank and even a standard office-like holiday rota but for plops!

One little detail here stands out though. At the bottom you’ll see Mark has written in that his brain is being kept alive in a jar hooked up to a script computer. Of course, the world sadly did lose Mark in the early 1990s, so this little gag of his is a bittersweet moment. However, Mark would still want us to laugh and it is funny to think of how his own creation would still expect him to keep on churning out the story ideas.

That’s all the time we have for this time-travel issue and it’s been a blast from the past from page one to 32. Mark and the entire team pulled out all the stops for this one and the fortnightlies only get better and better from here on. My own favourite point in OiNK‘s lifespan will be towards the end of the year and I simply can’t wait. Next up though is the Toys and Hobbies Issue, the review of which will be here from Monday 4th April 2022.