With this page young eyes across the UK were exposed to the insanely talented Malcolm Douglas for the first time. To anyone unfamiliar with the name you may remember him as ‘J.T. Dogg’, the genius illustrator behind Street-Hogs, Ham Dare: Pig of the Future and the OiNK Superstar Posters.

Pig pals will have fond memories of his big, bold and gorgeously colourful double-page spreads leaping out at them every fortnight. Within the pages of those early issues Dogg’s work included the original 11-part Street-Hogs story, written by Mark Rodgers, as well as a series of suitably piggy spoof Superstar Posters of Bacon Stevens, Sty Wars, The P-Team, Hambo, Frankenswine and Peter Swillton, as well as Draculard later in the run. His work was undoubtably displayed on many a bedroom wall across the UK.

Malcolm originally became an illustrator when he volunteered to draw for a newspaper run by the Sheffield University student union. Discovering he could be paid for his work he developed his style and was published in a wide variety of comics, which after OiNK included Brain Damage and Zit, two titles heavily influenced by the one he’d been such a huge part of.

He also regularly contributed Fred the Red for Manchester United’s match programmes, but his best known work remains all of those beautiful pages found inside OiNK. The conclusion to the first Street-Hogs adventure called for a suitably epic wraparound cover poster, complete with a standout OiNK logo as seen below.

When I started collecting OiNK with #14 the ‘Next Issue’ section had a small monochrome drawing of a character called Ham Dare: Pig of the Future, a new multi-part story written by Lew Stringer and brought to life by Malcolm. Knowing of Dan Dare from friends’ comics I was looking forward to seeing a joke version of the character. It would be my first encounter with Malcom’s work. I knew it was going to be funny, I didn’t expect it to be so lush!

Malcolm didn’t receive any professional art training and his skills weren’t limited to drawing either. He was a musical performer and played the mandolin and fiddle among other instruments, performing with various bands he was a regular face around the Sheffield music scene. His knowledge of folk music was encyclopaedic and he contributed to two books about the subject, with a third being revised before his death.

Malcolm sadly died of cancer on 22nd March 2009 and it is on this date that we remember his stunning OiNK work.

During the two-and-a-half-year run of the comic J.T. Dogg brought us three lengthy Street-Hogs strips, a Ham Dare serial, plus more from the Pig of the Future in both OiNK Books and a Holiday Special after the comic was cancelled, and of course let’s not forget those six magnificent Superstar Posters. He even drew Harry the Head in one issue.

OiNK came to its conclusion in October 1988 and while the second annual was already on sale most of us wouldn’t receive it until that Christmas, a couple of months after we’d said goodbye to our favourite comic pals. J.T. Dogg returned with this glorious cover to the 1989 Book, a fitting end to the run and a fitting tribute to a man whose talents were second-to-none.


IPC’s Youth Group is trying to change the face of children’s comics with its launch next month of a new-style, fortnightly comic into the eight-to-12-year-olds market.

John Sanders

So began a piece in CTN, an industry magazine covering the world of magazines and comics on this day back in 1986, a month before OiNK‘s release from the sty. Comics sales had been in heavy decline for a few years with television seen as the cause, although perhaps so was the ever-growing presence of computer games. While other sources of children’s entertainment were evolving, comics hadn’t and they had to do something new and fresh in order to remain competitive.

You should know where this is going. That something was, of course, OiNK. Edited by the “three liberated pigs” of Mark Rodgers, Tony Husband and Patrick Gallagher, IPC saw in them the chance to reinvigorate the marketplace.

The article in CTN (which you can read in full at the bottom of this post) takes the form of an interview with IPC Magazine’s Youth Group Managing Director John Sanders. A wish to move away from the “custard pie humour” is cited and the publishers were certainly putting their weight behind this anarchic comic, independently put together for them in Manchester. Hundreds of thousands of copies of the preview issue would be bagged with some of their biggest titles and an eye-watering (for the time) £55,000 was being spent on “Blockbuster Adverts“. More on these below.

“Their [children] humour is a lot more sophisticated than it was 25 years ago. It is a lot more outrageous, the butt of their humour has changed.”

John Sanders

It’s interesting to note having a preview issue wasn’t something generally used at the time, the usual strategy was television advertising such as with Marvel‘s The Transformers in 1984, the (very) brief advert for which you can see below. This was news to me when I found out because I remember several preview issues of my comics but nothing on TV, but then again those previews came after OiNK. However, even OiNK’s would be different from those that followed, it was a full-sized issue.

The article states the new comic is “aimed very directly at youngsters”. The whole point was to grab the attention of the eight to 13-year-old age group. But yet, here we are over three decades later with a website all about this classic comic and how well it holds up for both adults and their children reading it all these years later.

IPC’s target audience weren’t just readers of comics by the competition either, such as The Dandy and Beano, but also those of their own humour comics who they were worried were leaving.

Thanks to Lew Stringer for sharing this scan on his Blimey blog and for the kind permission to show it to you all here. That particular blog is no longer being updated but is chock full of interesting comics tidbits so give it a look. While you’re at it, make sure to bookmark Lew’s ongoing Lew Stringer Comics blog too, detailing all of his own work both past and present.

At the time of writing John Sanders has just released his brand new book, King’s Reach: John Sanders’ Twenty-Five Years at the Top of Comics which chronicles the business side of the industry.


A few days ago I introduced (or for some of you, reintroduced) you to the Visionaries, one of several attempts by toy companies in the 80s to bring back the hologram as The Next Big Thing. While they weren’t successful enough to last beyond one holiday season, the toys and in particular the cartoon make for some wonderful childhood memories. Now it’s time to check our their comic from Marvel UK.

We start with a look at the four-page mini-comic given away free with Transformers and Action Force to promote the upcoming monthly back on this day, 19th March in 1988.

There was certainly a big push in the pages of this comic but from what I know that wasn’t the case in any other Marvel title. It could be because they knew the chances of it lasting weren’t great with what was happening with the franchise in America and it would most likely end up merging. Or it could simply be because Transformers was by far their biggest selling comic at this point and another Hasbro franchise.

IPC/Fleetway would give away preview issues with several titles at once (beginning with OiNK), but maybe this was just Marvel’s way of targeting the the audience most likely to read the new comic. Either way, they took centre stage in #158 with an extra four pages of higher quality paper making up the the middle of the comic and the main part of the Transformation editorial was given over to the Knights of the Magical Light too.

Unlike the previous Action Force (G.I. Joe) mini-comic shown above there’s no new material in the one for the Visionaries. Instead we get highlights of the origin story to come in the first two issues, a look at the toys and a competition. But there’s at least one thing I hadn’t seen before and that’s this cover image.

It really stands out on the glossier paper, in fact it’s just glorious as a result. It must’ve been a real feast for the eyes for youngsters in the middle of their weekly dose of Cybertronian action, something so completely and utterly different and new compared to what they’d been reading. The strange thing about that image is that I don’t recognise half of the characters. The two main figures in the middle, the ones on the bottom-left and that craft on the top-left aren’t featured in the cartoon or the toy line. Perhaps it’s an early concept piece.

Before The Real Ghostbusters cartoon was released a beautiful concept art poster did the rounds, with the team speeding along in Ecto-1 but all with the same coloured overalls like the movie, Egon’s hair was still brown and they were ‘busting the ghost from the movie who would be known as their pet Slimer in the cartoon. These things changed obviously, but the image was still used in magazines and comics to publicise the series for a long time, even given away with some toys. The same thing could have happened with Visionaries.

So back to the strip itself, the thing that’s going to draw readers in to the new ongoing comic coming less than a week later. As I said, it’s made up of little snippets from the end of the comic’s first story, The End… The Beginning. It’s a bit weird to show the story’s climax before readers had a chance to read it. It also doesn’t show their powers being used, surely a key ingredient of the comic which they could’ve shown off, given how that’s the whole point behind the intro to the cartoon.

If I’d been collecting Transformers at this point originally (I didn’t start until #192 as a child), none of these points would’ve mattered though and it’s probably just me being an old fuddy-duddy today. It was all about hype so I guess it did do its job. The bright yellow banners advertising the release date for their comic aren’t easily missed either.

No credits are given here but they are as follows: Flint Dille and Jim Salicrup (writers), Mark Bagley (pencils), Romeo Tanghai (inks), Janice Chiang (letters) and Julianna Ferriter (colours). Flint was the scriptwriter of Sunbow Productions‘ pilot episode and this was adapted by Jim for the comic.

We’ll delve into myths, magic and what could have been

There’s a very brief summary of the story before the strip and then several pages are edited together to make up the mini-comic. We see a couple of characters get their magical totems and a reference is made to becoming them, but I’m not sure how clear this all would’ve been to the uninitiated, which the UK audience would’ve been if they hadn’t seen the one video available here at the time (it wouldn’t be shown on TV until some time later). Perhaps a few panels showing them in action would’ve been a good idea.

With the “Read the further adventures of the Visionaries…” in the yellow bars it kind of gives the impression that the summary box is all we’re going to get about their origin and the monthly would carry on after this. Thankfully that wouldn’t be the case of course.

On the fourth page we get an image of the individual action figures available, with more to come packaged in with vehicles. There’s also an offer for what looks like a brilliant poster and some fun holographic stickers. I’d definitely have been pestering my parents for this if I’d known about it. Finally, that video of the first three episodes of the cartoon was the prize in a competition.


The first issue of Visionaries appeared on newsagents’ shelves only five days later. While our weekly comics were regular Saturday releases that wasn’t necessarily the case with Marvel’s monthlies. So the following Thursday was the day this new, potentially epic tale commenced.

It would ultimately be a curtailed epic but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth reading all over again.

Join me for the real time read through which begins Wednesday 24th March 2021 when we can enjoy an in-depth look at its beginnings, meet its characters, enjoy its world building and delve into myths, magic and what could have been.