With the large “Not just for kids!” and the “Powerful Parody and Stinging Satire” captions it’s clear the OiNK team was really leaning into publisher Fleetway’s findings that the comic’s audience was a bit older than the original target audience two years previous. There’s been a slow but steady shift in tone recently with more references to the kind of pop culture young kids may not have been clued in on, but older teenage kids would’ve appreciated.
The late Les ‘Lezz’ Barton’s cover of The Slugs fronts an issue with no strip for the characters inside, although they do get a middle-page poster spread. Surprisingly, despite being the cover stars the next issue would contain their last regular appearance. After that they’ll disappear from the comic until the second annual and that’s it. Another casualty of the comic’s shift to a new look in just a few weeks’ time. However, there was one character who would only go from strength-to-strength over the remaining months (and beyond.)
Only when reading this for the review did I pick up on the more adult humour in the fourth panel and what that frog is actually referring to. But it’s the panel at the end of that row I wanted to mention in particular. Originally, Lew Stringer had the word “Parp!” in large letters exploding from Tom’s backside; this accidental noise being what the woman on the street is actually reacting to. But when the comic was published it had been removed, a casualty of Fleetway’s censors. But their tinkering just makes this look so much worse!
Lew discusses this on his own blog too and I agree with what he says there, how removing the fart gag makes it look like Tom is mooning the passerby instead. It was very rare for anything to be changed by OiNK’s publishers, both IPC Magazines and Fleetway understood the humour of the comic and the “precocious” (see the original newspaper marketing leaflets) youngsters who lapped it up. It just so happens on one of those rare occasions their scissors (or rather, patch paper) were used it had the opposite end result to their intentions.
Other details in that panel, such as Tom’s reaction and the woman’s hat blowing off also make more sense, and are much funnier, when you see the original panel (again, see Lew’s blog post). A strange incident this one, but it wouldn’t be the last time the publishers would edit one of Lew’s strips before OiNK’s finale. You’ll see what I mean in a few months. From one of OiNK’s most prolific artists to another who contributes only her third (and final) piece here, it’s co-editor Patrick Gallagher’s neighbour, the wonderfully talented illustrator Ann Martin.
Alongside a cheeky little poem Ann’s illustration is both daft and yet gorgeous. It’s such a shame she never returned, or contributed more frequently to OiNK, but then again Ann’s work wasn’t usually seen in comics so we should feel very special indeed, because we pig pals were very lucky to have had her work as part of our silly little periodical. Go and check out my favourite piece of Ann’s, the brilliant Watery Down from way back in #6. Yes, very lucky indeed.
A quick look at some bite-sized highlights from #60 before we move on. On the Grunts page we find out the survey results are being counted. Little did we know what that would mean soon! Also, despite Mad magazine being a key influence for OiNK’s creators/editors, they can’t help having a dig. Then Jeremy Banx’s superbly dark humour of Hieronymous Van Hellsong ends this issue, never to be seen again. Van Hellsong may only have appeared in 12 issues but he remains a fan favourite to this day.
Charlie Brooker’s Transmogrifying Tracey, who could transform into anything, turns into lots of different household objects for her unlucky friend before drawing a line and our Wonder Pig (named Lappie this time) and his owner have a surprise happy ending. His owner doesn’t even fall down a pit! Instead, they enter a sheep herding competition and win trotters down. Have you ever seen a pig so happy with themselves?
While there’s a lot of fun to be had throughout each issue of OiNK, there’s been a definite trend in recent weeks of the biggest laughs coming from the final few pages and their collections of mini-strips. Here you’ll find the likes of Ed McHenry, Marc Riley and David Haldane taking up residence with quick one-gag strips that always hit the spot and the latter’s Zootown isn’t about to break that streak anytime soon.
Thankfully Zootown won’t be a casualty of the changes to come and will continue, missing only the occasional issue before popping back up again in specials released after the cancellation. The same can’t be said for Davy Francis’ Cowpat County, which after this issue would only appear in the first two monthlies and that’s it. Thankfully though, Davy himself would be a permanent fixture, contributing a handful of strips to each issue in the months ahead.
This issue’s Cowpat County is one of my favourites, which is all the more surprising when you realise it doesn’t include Farmer Giles or the familiar farm setting. Instead we’re off to the countryside’s palladium for a spot of culture and Harry Keiths and Norbert. For you youngsters out there this is a reference to children’s TV faves Keith Harris and Orville, staples of television and variety shows across the country in the 80s. They’re not the butt of the joke here though, as always that’s the simpler folk of Cowpat County.
That made me chuckle. We’re already at the end of our sixtieth issue’s review and this one really has flown by! I have to say, even after 16 weekly editions of OiNK, I’m still very aware that they have eight less pages than all of those that came before. I thought I’d have gotten used to that aspect of them by now. I do love how much better they read compared to those (admittedly still good) early weeklies, but they still feel like very quick reading experiences.
Yes, I’ve only seven days to wait for the each chunk of piggy goodness but I still think I preferred the two-week wait for a meatier read. In that regard I’m looking forward to the big porkers that are the monthly issues, but will I also enjoy the other changes the new format brings with it? We’ll find out soon. In fact, exactly one month from now, because the first monthly (#63) went on sale on 21st May. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, there are still another two weeklies to go, so you’d best place your order with your local shop, hadn’t you?
Tellingly (albeit only with hindsight) co-editor Patrick Gallagher’s reservation coupon has dropped “every week” for the first time here, replacing it simply with “regular order”. Don’t fret pig pals, your OiNK reviews may be going monthly but to plug the gaps there’s another comic joining the blog in the same month that happens, then another title during the summer, plus a smorgasbord of extra OiNK content to come! Don’t miss out, follow along by subscribing via the ‘Follow’ button along the bottom of the screen or get notifications of each new post on the blog’s Instagram or Facebook accounts.
The next OiNK review will be here from Friday 28th April 2023.