OiNK! #34: PIG PALS, HO!

This latest issue of OiNK marks the end of an era and a particular milestone in the comic’s run, neither of which we were aware of when we first bought it back in 1987. First up, this would be the final issue published by IPC Magazines, the company which took that initial chance on the whole concept and it had paid off for them! IPC were very happy with OiNK’s sales of roughly 100,000 per issue, the press coverage and the celebrity endorsements it had inspired. But now changes were coming, as you’ll see soon.

As for the milestone, it couldn’t have been foretold at the time. OiNK would run to 68 issues altogether so after reading this edition I’m now officially at the halfway point of the regular issues (just 18 days before this issue, 21st July was the halfway point date-wise too). Where has the time gone? I’m particularly looking forward to the remaining issues from this year because they include some of my very favourites and of course there’s also the first book, but I’ll go into that in more depth in a future post.

‘Butch-arr the Ever-Cleaving’ on Ed McHenry’s cover is just hilarious

The Next Issue promo in #33 starred Weedy Willy so it’s rather strange to see a distinct lack of him in this issue. The adventure theme isn’t as prevalent as previous subjects, in fact most of the regulars ignore it or just tangentially relate to it. Thunderpigs is the main themed strip but unfortunately it’s not the best. There have definitely been (and will be) better spoofs, many of the jokes here are rehashes of previous ideas (the main gag is a saturation of overpriced merchandise) but it did produce Butch-arr the Ever-Cleaving on Ed McHenry’s cover which is just hilarious.

I think OiNK’s three-panel strips would make a great digital collection of quick-fire, random, spontaneous gags, guaranteed to have plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Probably my favourite strip amongst all of these mini marvels was Roger Rental, He’s Completely Mental. Written by a variety of people throughout the run but always drawn by Ian Knox, Roger’s entry for this issue was written by Howard Osborn whose work I haven’t featured on the blog yet.

A prolific writer for the comic, his scripts would appear in 19 issues altogether, although he’d often contribute a few strips to each one. First appearing in #23 and staying with OiNK through to its conclusion, Howard’s name would be attached to many of the mini-strips from here on.

From a writer’s first blog appearance to a punk band’s.

OiNK has been described by co-creator/co-editor Tony Husband as the punk band of comics. With him being a fan of the music genre, I can see where Tony is coming from. OiNK came out around the same time as the MADchester music scene and was seen by many as an integral part of it thanks to the likes of Frank Sidebottom, Marc Riley and the music superstars often photographed reading it. Even when OiNK was cancelled after two-and-a-half years Tony said it was better for it to burn out than fade away, that punk attitude at the forefront right to the very end.

With this attitude it was only natural that a strip starring a punk band would eventually make its way onto the pages. Their first appearance was actually last issue, when a straight laced local band were subjected to punk music and made a startling transformation into The Slugs. Always written by Tony and drawn by Les ‘Lezz’ Barton, The Slugs would be regulars in 24 OiNKs, only missing the occasional issue until the end of the weeklies, never making the shift into the monthlies for some reason. They’d quickly become a fan favourite and this sophomore strip shows why.

For me, rather than Thundercats, the main highlight of this issue has to be the following.

While it may not be linked to the theme either, Tom Thug Meets Pete and his Pimple is a hilarious addition and something of a surprise because until I read OiNK a few years back for the original blog I’d no recollection of this happening. We’ve already seen Zeta in a Tom strip before in #13 when he crossed over with Weedy Willy, but only now do we find out she’s actually Pete Throb’s sister. (How could we not know!) Between Tom’s attempts to appear spotty, to the very satisfying ending for both characters, this was surely a hit amongst pig pals at the time!

Lew tells me he simply approached co-editor Mark Rodgers with the idea of having Tom and Pete finally meet and was given the green light. He didn’t want to do it in a typical Beano style though, where one would simply guest star in the other’s strip. Instead, Lew wanted it to be more of an event, giving them equal billing in a larger than normal strip. “I liked the flexibility of OiNK allowing things like this,” Lew told me. “Readers never knew what to expect and anything could happen in each issue.” How true. We loved it!


“Slurp! Slurp! That’s nectar, that is – slurp!”

Burp’s bath tap

As always, here’s a quick glance at some individual panel highlights from the issue, beginning with Burp’s plumbing problem, The Amazin’ Spider-Guy has some very authentic special skills and in The Street-Hogs our not-very-well-disguised baddie finally reveals himself. Thought to have drowned in a vat of his own apple sauce back in #11, instead Don Poloney just ate his way out, hence his somewhat different shape. There are some absolute treats in this issue.

Interestingly, in the 2000s Lew would go on to draw the real Spider-Man in Marvel Rampage and (after its cancellation) Spectacular Spider-Man with his Mini Marvel humour strips, following in the tradition of Marvel comics such as Transformers, Action Force and The Real Ghostbusters to include funnies from Lew. If only Panini would include such extra treats in their monthly Spider-Man and Batman comics we get today. To see some examples of Lew’s Mini Marvel strips you can check out this post on his personal blog.

As mentioned on the previous Grunts page, this issue includes the latest Butcher Watch update from Jeremy Banx, although now it’s been renamed Cleaver Flash! This is in response to how the young readership had taken to the terrifying villain, Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith who’d originally been just another butcher when he first popped up in #14. This character and his attempts to cull the pig population of our newly porcine-friendly UK had really captured the imagination.

When you think about how pigs were depicted as citizens of the world in OiNK it was a bold move by Jeremy to depict Jimmy as so relentless, the black blood on these pages (Jimmy was always standing in pools of the stuff) all the more shocking and as a young pig pal these strips were the perfect mix of thrills and laughs. The victim’s ridiculous story while his face is constantly obscured by the microphone raises the giggles, followed by the slaughter of the piggy police, then the final reveal and the ending has us almost hearing that blood-curdling scream.

No comic character is as creepy as Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith and I think it’s clear Jeremy had great fun pushing the envelope as much as he could in a kid’s comic with him. It’s all rounded off with that famous tagline under the final panels. With this, the Lewniverse crossover and The Street-Hogs we’ve obviously had our fill of fantastic double-page spreads for a fortnight, right? Wrong. This issue we were spoiled with larger strips and on the middle pages was yet another treat, The Styeux Tapestry, led into with this introduction.

If you remember your history, you’ll know the Bayeux Tapestry depicted the events that led up to the Norman Conquest of England, with the Duke of Normandy challenging King Harold which of course led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. While the introduction sets the historical scene, containing as many name puns as you could hope for, the main event is something else! Written by Tony Husband and so brilliantly brought to life by Eric ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson, this is just a wonderful middle-page spread indeed.

Historical satire isn’t something you’d expect to see in your average humour comic, but just to complete the cliché OiNK was not your average comic. (If you haven’t caught on to this by now there’s not much hope for you.) To this day I think this would look superb in a fancy frame, something to give the illusion of a serious piece of art until whichever visitor to your home takes a closer look. If anyone asks you to describe OiNK and you’re struggling to summarise its uniqueness, I say just show them this. The Styeux Tapestry perfectly sums up the sense of humour we grew up with.

We come to the end of yet another review and I’m excited for what’s ahead. Most of my memories of OiNK from the 80s come from the second half of the run and my favourites are from the latter half of 1987, the very year I’m covering right now in this real time read through. The issues to come over the next five months have stuck with me all these years and I’ll be going into more depth about that in an extra post soon. As for #35, the Terrific Travel Issue review will be here on the blog from Monday 22nd August 2022.

COMiNG UP: OiNK! #34

The next issue of OiNK marks a special milestone in this real time read through of the world’s funniest comic, not that we (nor the creators) were aware of it at the time. I’m not going to give it away yet, although I’m sure some pig pals will be able to work it out. In the meantime I’ll show you the Next Issue promo from #33, which contains no clues about what I’m talking about, so don’t dwell.

The Amazing Adventure Issue will be the last edition published by IPC Magazines (that’s not what I was hinting at above by the way) which means there are changes on the horizon but for now we’ve got another 32 big, glossy pages with highlights including a meeting of minds (or lack thereof) between Tom Thug and Pete and his Pimple, you’ll finally meet OiNK‘s own punk band The Slugs and witness the incredible artist feat of The Styeux Tapestry! The next review will be here from Monday 8th August 2022.

JURASSiC PARK #13: END OF AN AGE

This would be the final issue of Dark Horse International’s Jurassic Park, but the comic would continue for a few months yet. No, that’s not a contradictory statement, as you’ll find out next month. This is, however, the last time the cover will have that distinctive banner down the left side. What a cover image that is too. On the contents page the credit for John Bolton’s image clarifies it’s “a scene from the classic movie”. A classic just one year after its release? It would be, obviously, but it wasn’t even out on video at this stage!

John’s dramatic image was created for the American Topps Comics’ ongoing monthly, Return to Jurassic Park which had been released after the few initial mini-series, the second of which we were still reading in the UK comic. In fact, this edition saw the conclusion of the first issue in the second mini-series, Raptors Attack and was written by official sequel scribe Steve Englehart, pencilled by Armando Gil, inked by Fred Carillo, lettered by John Costanza and coloured/story edited by Renée Witterstaetter.

Part two of Rush! sees Doctors Alan Grant and Ellie Satler given the unenviable task of looking after the juvenile Velociraptors captured by Columbian drug lord Rafael. Training them via use of electroshock collars (the ‘raptors, not the doctors) the dinosaurs are becoming worn down and sick. Gassed and asleep, our heroes are sent in to examine them, not that Rafael is going to listen to any of their recommendations. As this is taking place the ‘raptor that was previously shot in #11 and saved by Ellie watches on from her cage.

What I particularly liked here was seeing some scenes from the point of view of the animals. The language of the humans is just a load of strange alien noises but she watches intently, trying to work out what’s happening, despite her base instincts. This storytelling technique isn’t used extensively, but enough for us to see their vantage point at specific moments, always treating them as intelligent wild animals instead of movie monsters,  a main theme of the novel and films. They’re individual characters and subject to development in this strip just like the humans. I like this a lot.


“I spent my life looking for tiny pieces of your remains, and now you’re here, in the flesh”

Dr Ellie Satler

Kept separate from her siblings she tries her best to attack Alan and Ellie as they approach her but she’s chained up and unable to make contact. Ellen then chastises her! How dangerous these animals are is always front and centre, and the others still terrify Ellen but after saving this one’s life she’s determined to help it. As she said in that previous issue, given half the chance she’d be torn apart by this creature but it’s still a miracle and she has an obligation to it as a scientist.

As you can see the ‘raptor eventually lets her tend to her wound, remembering she saved her life. From memory this is an important plot point and one the ongoing strip would return to in a key moment, but I won’t get ahead of myself. This, and the following page of the other two dinos preying on and destroying humanoid hay decoys reminds me a lot of the first Jurassic World, which is something else I’ll return to later in the run. But for now the constant training over several weeks seems to be reaping rewards for Rafael.

The ‘raptors are attacking on queue, and when they jump towards Rafael on the other side of their glass dome a simple command has them stop and obediently await their next instruction. But his successes can’t stop his paranoia about competitors and the government closing in on him, despite no evidence of the kind; it’s merely a result of being secluded from the outside world for too long. When local soldiers are spotted searching the jungle he assumes they mean to steal his dinosaurs so he and his men take his newest recruits for a test.

Ordered to attack, they take to their task with relish, dispatching the soldiers one at a time over a few pages. Armando Gil’s trademark use of dynamic angels comes into play here, one perfect example being the panel featuring the jeep trying to run down one of the ‘raptors, almost like its taking place on the top of a hill, the ground rounding towards the dinosaur. He’s just using two perspectives in one panel, one for the humans and one for the animal in the distance but it works to create a dynamic sense of excitement.

It’s clear these two “clever girls” have plans of their own

In the end she jumps on top of the car, making it crash into a tree where she rips the soldiers apart. As you can see the comic goes all in on the blood and guts. These pages are full of it. Yes, it’s tame compared to horror comics or modern action fare, but as a licenced title I was surprised. As a teenager I lapped it up, but looking at it now it feels strange when the films use suggestion and good direction to avoid gore, letting our imaginations fill in the blanks which is much more effective.

With the soldiers dispatched they make a leap for Rafael, but he shouts “Stop!” and they do just that! Are they fully trained after all? Is this man about to become one of the most dangerous criminals the world has seen? Not if a look shared between these two “clever girls” (to quote the movie) is anything to go by. This final panel tells the reader a lot more than I initially caught on to when reading this in 1994, but knowing what transpired next it’s clear these two have plans of their own.

This was such fun, especially when read upon its original release before any of the movie sequels took the dinosaurs off Isla Nublar, beginning with San Diego in The Lost World: Jurassic Park and then of course we had Owen Grady’s training and bonding with Blue and the rest of the Velociraptors in Jurassic World. This was groundbreaking at the time and still fun to read today, if somewhat diluted thanks to those later stories on the big screen.

The ‘Next’ caption is very uninspiring I have to say. More interesting is the fact there’s a free gift in the next issue because I have no recollection of this whatsoever. So you’ll be finding out what that was at the same time as me. For now we move on to the second half of the comic and a thrilling but bittersweet strip. Age of Reptiles has been building to this moment for eight issues now and it was a thrill to read this, but sad to get to the end and say goodbye to these silent comic stars.

But creator/writer/artist Ricardo Delgado makes sure they go out in style.

The drama, the suspense, the wonderful character moments have all been leading to this, but having a final climactic battle between the Tyrannosaurus rex pack and the Deinonycuses wasn’t enough for Delgado, he takes it to another level and sets the finale at sunset in a storm, pouring lashings of atmosphere into an already thrilling strip. Seriously, these final pages need to be seen and I can only show a few select highlights, so if you do see these comics for sale, buy them! This is worth the price of entry.

James’ colours have brought a deeply rich and vibrant world to life, perfectly matching Ricardo’s stunning artwork

After a few pages of already stunning action we get to the spread above. There’s so much to love here. So many little details my eyes pick up anew with every pass. The rain splashing off Long Jaw’s back, the Deinonychuses sinking their teeth deep into Talon as her mouth waters, the depth of the battle with the silhouettes in the background and the sheer scale of the action in the foreground as the four giant T-rex dinosaurs dominate the scene.

James Sinclair’s colours add even more, with a suddenly subdued palette portraying the time of day perfectly. All the way through Age of Reptiles James’ colours have brought a deeply rich and vibrant world to life, perfectly matching Ricardo’s stunning artwork. In fact, James’ colouring helped tell the story just as much as the line work, from the identifying markings on each character to the scene setting vistas and passages of time, culminating in these gorgeous final pages.

The battle feels suitably climactic after all this time and it certainly didn’t disappoint teenage me. With both sides playing to their strengths they always seemed evenly matched, despite being two very different species.  I was always interested to know who’d win in the end and I couldn’t remember this final chapter until I read it for this review. The answer, of course, is that neither side wins. This makes perfect sense in the end, as we’d gotten attached to various characters from both factions.

The pouring rain and the might of the battle on top of the nest is too much for the outcrop to bear. As the lightning strikes I can almost hear the thunder and the rain as the rocks begin to fall. Just as the T-rex pack begins to destroy the nest the ground shakes and everything and everyone hurtles down the cliff, seemingly to their doom. The story skips ahead to the next morning, all is quiet and we initially think that’s the end until one sole survivor breaks free from the rubble.

Long Jaw waits and waits but when no one else climbs out he makes his way through the jungle to the nest. There are always little extra details to catch our attention in Ricardo’s story, such as the huge Brachiosaur who seems to be almost timidly walking by so as not to disturb the T-rex. But Long Jaw’s only concern is getting home to protect the one remaining egg left in the wake of the Deinonychus attack back in #7. At least he can take solace in the fact that is now safe. Until we see the final page, that is.

As he approaches the nest a bird lands on his back and squawks at him. Obviously communicating danger, Long Jaw runs towards the nest and on the penultimate page the look of surprise on his face is almost comical as he finds a strange little creature tucking into a tasty treat. There have been sequels to this told by Ricardo over the years but none had been created by the time of Jurassic Park’s printing so it’s with a heavy heart we say goodbye to the Age of Reptiles. It’s been a thrill every single issue, sometimes more so than the Jurassic Park strips.

The caption at the bottom of the final page to Age of Reptiles tells us Cadillac and Dinosaurs begins next month, but if this sounds vaguely familiar that’s because it’s the Cartoon Network’s name for their adaptation of Xenozoic Tales, which we had as a second back up strip in issues #6 to #9, so it’s not a beginning, just a renamed continuation which I’m very happy about.

On the back page is an advert for a Street Fighter II comic based on the video game, which still feels rather random today. There’s no Dark Horse logo, but there is a Manga one. This’ll be an important detail for Jurassic Park from next month. You’ll see what I mean when we get there. The review of the next issue, which sees some welcome changes to the comic, will be here from Tuesday 8th September 2022. See you then.