Category Archives: OiNK Merchandise


Back in 1987 a unique piece of merchandise for a comic was announced in the pages of OiNK. In issue #37 we were treated to this full page advertisement featuring Marc Riley as petty thief Snatcher Sam and Chris Sievey in his role as celebrity superstar Frank Sidebottom. They’d come together to record The OiNK 45, a single-sized vinyl record available only through mail order in the comic.

Back in the premiere issue OiNK had launched itself on to the unsuspecting public with a free flexidisc, a floppy piece of pink see-through plastic containing two songs, namely the imaginatively titled The OiNK Song and The OiNK Rap. Marc produced and performed both and they proved a hit with the kids and an annoyance to the parents of said kids, which I’m pretty sure was the idea. Now they’d been rerecorded at Drone Studios by Marc and Frank with engineer Paul Roberts alongside a brand new song.

When I saw the advert for the first time I immediately begged my parents to write a cheque for the record. I remember the agonisingly long wait for it to arrive and then my mum and dad wished it hadn’t. I played it almost non-stop for a few days, being told several times to turn it down. Let’s just say it wasn’t to everyone’s taste. As I said, annoying readers’ parents may have been the idea behind the songs in the first place.

I’d missed out on the original flexidisc first time around so had no idea two of these were new versions of previous songs. I remember loving The OiNK Psycho Rap (as it was now called) as a kid on The OiNK 45, written by Tony Husband and Marc, and when I finally got my hands on #1 decades later for the blog with a mint condition flexidisc I’ll admit I was confused as to why I’d liked it so much! The answer is that the version here is completely different and a whole lotta fun. The words are almost the same but it’s more professionally put together. While I’m still not going to blast it at get togethers with friends, it may find its way on to my HomePod.

Fortunately for my parents, but heartbreakingly for me, just a few weeks after it arrived back in 1987 I ended up playing it for the very last time. I’d taken the record out of the hifi in my room and placed it on my bed without its sleeve while I listened to something else. It ended up being a nice, warm and sunny October day so off I went outside to play with friends for the afternoon. When I came back I found out to my horror what happens when a vinyl record sits under a skylight on a day like that.

It was badly warped, looking like a disused napkin someone had tossed aside. I was crushed. My parents refused to buy me another, telling me it was a lesson to learn (in reality it had brought peace to the house once more) and, having not yet made a cassette recording so I could take the songs outside with me, that was the last I heard it. Only now have I been able to hear these versions (and the third song) for the first time since then.

This past summer I was finally able to track down a copy of the record and I’ve waited until now to listen to it as a special festive treat for pig pads. This should be interesting with my now-adult ears! First up, the cover art was compiled by Marc Riley and the photographs on the back and on the adverts were taken by OiNK’s resident photographer John Barry under co-creator/co-editor and co-designer for the project (alongside Marc) Patrick Gallagher’s direction.

There’s a reference to Mike Gallagher brewing the tea, this was Patrick’s brother who played sax at the studio sessions (he was also in Frank’s Oh Blimey Big Band) as well as making the refreshments. Patrick tells me altogether they recorded roughly 50 takes of each track but ended up using the first of each! All that remains now is to place the vinyl carefully into my record player and crank the volume up. We’ll start with the new versions of The OiNK Psycho Rap and The OiNK Song (written by Mark Rodgers and Marc). You’ll be glad to hear the latter is still sung by high-pitched pigs.

The OiNK! Psycho Rap written by Tony Husband and Marc Riley
The OiNK! Song written by Mark Rodgers and Marc Riley

Unfortunately there were no lyrics sheets with the record so young me had a hell of a time understanding those piggies but the lyrics were printed in the first issue. Only a few words have been changed here and there for the rap, so feel free to use that photo above to follow along.

Apologies that I have no fancy equipment to record the songs in lossless quality (or whatever it’s called), you’ll have to make do with my video recording it with an ever-tiring outstretched arm.

“What the heck you think you’re doing, you?”

Frank Sidebottom, The OiNK Get-Together Song

On the B-side is the brand new song, The OiNK Get-Together Song. Chris sings along with Marc in the previous songs and Frank even makes a small guest appearance in The OiNK Song when he realises he’s on the wrong track and asks the listener to turn the record over. This next song is twice as long and sees him in his usual place as the lead singer, with Little Frank constantly asking when he’ll get to contribute. It’s billed as a song starring characters from the comic, however the reality is much different (and funnier) than you might expect.

The OiNK! Get-Together Song written by Frank Sidebottom (Chris Sievey)

In my head this song had included various impressions of characters but instead we’re introduced to them playing instruments or making lots of loud background noise. Of course it would be this! Highlights include it descending into chaos on more than one occasion, especially when Billy Bang and the Street-Hogs get involved, Frank and Little Frank’s arguments getting more and more aggressive and there are cameos from some long forgotten characters such as Billy’s Brain and ‘Ed Banger.

My own personal favourite moment is when Frank messes up and just readily admits it right there in the song!

It’s a genuinely funny record and I’d heartily recommend splashing out the few quid it costs on eBay when it pops up, but let’s just say I think I can understand where my parents were coming from when they refused to buy a replacement once they’d escaped it. Brilliant stuff and very typically ‘OiNK’. No other comic could’ve done this. If you do decide to buy it for yourself just be warned, the sax in The OiNK Get Together Song will be stuck in your head from now until the end of time, whether you want it in there or not.

Above you’ll see Mike Gallagher as part of Frank’s band in a photo Patrick sent me, alongside an image of the original test pressing of the vinyl shared by Tony Husband on the OiNK Facebook Group. The final photo features the children of the studio owner and a very tanned/rosy/burnt Marc Riley and Patrick Gallagher, who may have just come back from holiday according to Patrick himself.

The OiNK 45 and the mug were the only pieces of merchandise I had as a kid so it’s great to own them both again today. This has genuinely been a whole lot of fun to revisit. It was another contributing factor to what I refer to as the Golden Age of my very favourite comic of all time.


Last month I got to show you how Future Publishing’s superb Commodore 64 magazine, Commodore Format gave away a game on its covertape called Pig Tales, and how this game was actually the OiNK computer game, released in 1987 across all 8-bit formats. Despite not having much to do with the comic, its playability and value for money was generally praised at the time, but it just didn’t sell. So a short three years later it was a freebie on the cover of CF.

In case you haven’t seen the previous post, it contained the full instructions for the OiNK game and one month later Commodore Format was back with a guide for those stuck in the misadventures of some of the comic’s most popular characters. So that’s what this post is all about. Plus, just like last time I’m throwing in some contemporary features and adverts from the magazine to place it in its time, just for fun.

Every month our computer and videogame magazines would contain hints, tips and cheats for a huge variety of games. Without search engines, if you were stuck you just had to sit tight and hope your monthly read contained some help for you. Today I stay away from such websites that offer things like this, after all if you cheat at a game then you’re not really playing it or completing it. But the younger target audience of these magazines lapped these things up, as did I. One of the most popular forms of help came in the form of game maps.

In the section of the mag called GameBusters, staff writer Andy Dyer and editor Steve Jarrett painstakingly compiled detailed maps for the Tom Thug and Rubbish Man sections of the OiNK game respectively, which in turn were drawn up by designer Lam Tang. There was no need for help with the Pete and his Pimple section, it was a bat and ball game which just required practice. So if you’ve got a copy of the game and would like to get that bit further (and have no patience) here are the full guides from this issue.

Ignore those black and white maps down the side, those are for a different title altogether. As you can see Tom’s zombie crushing section is all one big area to traverse while Rubbish Man’s is divided into six increasingly difficult zones. (Also, see the rather self-congratulatory game programmer include his name in the map!) Throw in Pete’s game and it’s a bit of a miracle it was a single load, not taking up any more than the computer’s measly 64k of memory (actually less when system memory is taken into account). For contrast the images on this blog are 1Mb on average, roughly sixteen times that size.

I’d actually like to give that Rubbish Man section a go again!

You can’t fault the team’s work here. Every little detail is included and not one screenshot is used, it’s all been drawn from scratch from playing the game themselves. No, the team didn’t receive a copy of the maps from the game publisher, at the time writers of these kinds of magazines had to basically play these games to death and assemble the guides themselves. Given how this issue contains eight pages of such help for the young players, it’s an insane amount of work every month.

I’d actually like to give that Rubbish Man section a go again! If you’ve missed any of the coverage of the game on the blog you can check out a retrospective from Retro Gamer, a preview from an issue of Zzap!64 containing a cameo by Snatcher Sam, a special interview with OiNK’s editors in Crash magazine which also came with a special free edition of OiNK, there’s a full review of the game from Zzap and of course the previous issue of Commodore Format. Now let’s have a quick look over a couple of things that caught my eye as I prepared the above scans.

Back in the early 90s when other computer companies such as Sinclair and Amstrad found their 8-bit systems struggling, the Commodore 64 was still selling well as an entry level computer. In the back of it was a cartridge port which had been underused throughout its already lengthy lifetime. New cart chip technology now enabled developers to use extra memory along with their ability to instantly load to produce advanced graphics, sound, more content and more complex gameplay. Commodore even released a console version of the 64.

With these the Commodore could easily contend with new kids on the block the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Master System. I often found (and still feel the same) that my favourite games on the 64 were miles better than the (admittedly great) console games. But Commodore, in their infinite wisdom, weren’t exactly marketing geniuses and the only places you’d see these advantages of cartridge technology detailed were in Commodore 64 magazines, read by people who already owned the machines! Without the manufacturer doing a good job the game publishers’ flash adverts above looked the part but had minimum impact.

Don’t get me wrong, gaming technology began changing very quickly in the 90s and incredibly the C64 still continued to sell very well for another couple of years. Commodore Format itself was eventually cancelled in 1995 only a few months before the first PlayStation magazine began! But with these advertising spreads above the company wasn’t exactly inspiring excitement, were they? In fact, they would go bust in 1994, taking the Amiga and its ever-developing range with it.

“You can hold conversation with people who may choose to help you or decide to chop your head off”

‘Going On-line’, Andrew Hutchinson

I always felt there was real potential to stave off the fate of the C64 if the company had really got behind the cartridge format, while concentrating on the proper computer instead of that silly console idea. Nintendo and Sega didn’t have to worry. The big push never came and when the console failed (as anyone could’ve predicted) publishers left the entire format in droves. Oh well, this short period of time still produced some of my very favourite computer games of all time and that’s not just the rose-tinted glasses talking.

Finally for this post there’s a feature in this issue I just had to show you all, written by future CF editor Andrew Hutchinson. Given this issue was published in 1990 and was for the Commodore 64 it might surprise you to see an article about going online! It would be the late 90s before our household had access to the Internet via AOL and a PC, but we were still in time for extortionate monthly fees and even more extortionate per-minute charges. Ah, the old days, eh? Yep, they very much were not better.

The excitement around the ‘Information Superhighway’ was intense in those years and looking back on it now it’s all very quaint of course, but every big revolution has to start somewhere. It’s strange to think how dependent our everyday lives have become on the technology that back then was seen as an expensive luxury only. Aside from the brilliant writing and the fact it was a damn fun magazine, the enthusiasm is another reason why reading actual retro magazines will always be superior to those from today that look back. It’s a lot cheaper too!

Anyway, that just about wraps up the OiNK Blog’s coverage of the OiNK computer game. I’ll take another look at Commodore Format next year when I reread the first magazine I ever bought for myself, #14, which coincidentally enough is the same issue number of OiNK that had been my first ever comic. Look out for more OiNK merchandise posts very soon though, there are some fun (and touching) moments to come.


Commodore Format was a very special publication for me, although it wasn’t until #14 that I discovered it. I’m writing a few posts for the OiNK Blog about it because in one of its earliest issues there was a certain porcine program on the covertape, the cassette packed every month with full games and demos of upcoming releases for readers’ Commodore 64 computers. I’ll go into the regular magazine in a special celebratory post at a future date but this month and next month I’ve something special for pig pals.

Attached to the cover of the second issue of CF (as we fans called it) from October 1990 was a cassette tape inside a little cardboard sleeve that included a highly playable Pac-Man clone called The Blob, a demo of forthcoming RPG Lords of Chaos, an intricate and complex space trading game called Empire and a game that according to the instructions pages went by the name ‘Pig Tales’. Described as “an everyday tale of small pink pigs attempting to put a magazine together”, the premise might sound familiar. As well it should.

I missed this back in 1990 when the magazine was originally launched but around 2010 I decided to purchase a C64 and began collecting Commodore Format all over again. As I started to read each issue I’d load up the cassette to see which games worked and which ones needed replacements. I did so before reading any of the instructions (that would come later once I knew which games I could actually play and which had succumbed to the ravages of time). Imagine my shock when Pig Tales stopped loading and a shoddily drawn OiNK logo appeared!

This was over a year before I even began the old blog site. I hadn’t read any OiNKs in many years, the final few remaining issues from my youth were securely packed away in a box somewhere, so this was a very pleasant surprise that immediately took me down memory lane for the first time. I knew a little about the game via the Lemon 64 site, basically that it had very little to do with the comic and because of this had a bad reputation, but I gave it a go and was pleasantly surprised. It’s a great little game with a lot of playability packed in, with just a sprinkling of not-very-good OiNK-related images.

Previously on the blog I’ve included the Zzap!64 review of the game from 1987 which was generally positive and I backed this up with my own thoughts on the game, which you can read here. Unfortunately, with so many other amazing games and childhood favourites to play through I only loaded the OiNK game a few times so I’m in no position to write a detailed review. (The C64 was sold off again several years later.) But it was great fun and rather addictive, and you can’t really ask for any more from a free game.

It was surreal to see Uncle Pigg in digitised form suddenly pop up on the small portable CRT TV I’d acquired for the Commodore, alongside the comic’s logo itself. Yes, the game itself was still called ‘OiNK’ when played, it was only inside the magazine (and the tape cover) that it was referred to as ‘Pig Tales’. A fan site has stated this was because Future Publishing had the rights to the game but not the name, which seems like a very strange set of circumstances (and at the time of writing I’ve yet to confirm this) given how they can’t be separated; it’s still called ‘OiNK’ on the screen and the character names are used in the magazine. 

Within the instructions the game is likened to the creation of Commodore Format and the press puppets from Spitting Image, which were a series of pigs dressed in trench coats and trilbies but at no time is the comic itself mentioned. How quickly they forget, eh? This issue was published only six months after the final ever issue of OiNK, the Summer Collection.

In the next issue Commodore Format would include a guide to the OiNK game including maps and tips

Three years might seem like a quick turnaround for the game to go from full price, to budget rerelease, to being included on a covertape. While we know it didn’t sell that well, this speedy transition wasn’t uncommon and I remember amassing quite the collection of excellent games through the magazine, including ones which were top rated and had sold very well. OiNK could sit right alongside them as a fun, quirky little retro game.

Commodore Format wasn’t finished with OiNK though. In the next issue they’d include a guide to the game including maps and tips to help readers finish Uncle Pigg’s “magazine”. I’ll show you them next month but I want to finish off this post with a few select images from this issue to place it in the context of the year it was released, beginning with an advertisement for a new game which readers of my Havoc reviews will know quite well.

While the movie didn’t deserve the hype, the game certainly did (although clearly no one proof read their advert). RoboCop 2 was released on cartridge on the C64, meaning it loaded instantly and had more memory available for better gameplay, graphics and sound. It was a brilliant game and much more enjoyable than the lacklustre sequel it was based on. Elsewhere in the issue, modern day videogame players might be interested to see this next double-page spread when CF’s editor Steve Jarratt headed off to the Consumer Electronics Show to see what the world of interactive entertainment had in store for us over the coming year.

Finally, there’s an interesting three-page feature about the history of the Commodore 64 computer. Commodore Format was released at a time when more powerful computers were gaining traction but Future, which was already publishing Amiga Format and ST Format, saw an opening in the market. The C64 was still seen as the perfect starter computer (it certainly was for me in 1991 the following year) and there were also those younger siblings who were getting C64s handed down to them.

The only competition was Zzap!64 which focussed mainly on games. Commodore Format took less than a year to surpass that giant in sales, quickly becoming the world’s best-selling C64 mag. CF spread its net wider and included retrospective gaming features to get new owners up to speed, interviews, technology articles and programming and graphics tutorials. It was a meaty read and an instant hit.

The C64 Story detailed the life of the C64 up to this point, including its predecessor, its development, spin-offs and its success story. Elsewhere in these early issues were several series of articles rounding up the very best games in different genres, but in this particular feature they decided to warn readers away from wasting their money on certain titles with ‘The All-Time Top Ten Naff C64 Games’. Oh I do miss the fun of Commodore Format!

I may have sold off my C64 collection but my Commodore Formats remain. I just can’t bring myself to get rid of them (not least because I’m in later editions, more on that in a future post). They have such great memories attached to them and they’re still a brilliant read. If you’re into your retro gaming I’d highly recommend hunting any of them down on eBay. For now, that’s your look at OiNK in this issue, I’ll be back with the game guide in #3 of CF on Thursday 10th November 2022.