Tag Archives: Ann Martin


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!

On one of those rare occasions Fleetway’s scissors were used it had the opposite end result to their intentions.

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 FrancisCowpat 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.


As with any comic review I’m limited to showing you a few select highlights of each issue of OiNK. Rebellion own the rights and I’m always hopeful they’ll publish reprint volumes at some point through their Treasury of British Comics label. Also, I just don’t agree with putting whole comics online, regardless of their age. All of this adds up to a difficult review to write this time.

That’s because this issue is superb. Every strip hits. Every joke lands. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been enjoying the issues so far but everything just seems to come together here with complete confidence. As such, it’s been less about which strips to choose as highlights and more about which ones to leave out! Thankfully the cover is a necessity and must be included and it’s one of my very favourites. An Ian Jackson classic, the best so far and perfectly encapsulating the anarchic feel of OiNK. We’re off to a great start then.

Ian’s interpretation of each animal is genuinely funny, but put them all together and it’s a cover that commands attention and time spent pouring over all the details. It even gets its own backstory, again drawn by Ian and written by Tony Husband. The theme this fortnight is perfect fodder for the team behind the comic, already used to pork-ifying anything and everything in sight. However, there’s not a pig in sight in the biggest highlight of these 32 pages, Twee Tales present The Wonderful Wildlife of Watery Down.

Co-editor Patrick Gallagher‘s neighbour, Ann Martin brought her gorgeous artwork to a spoof of Richard Adam‘s classic novel Watership Down. The script is one big set up for a good old pun so marrying it with such beautiful illustrations, which wouldn’t look out of place in a children’s book, is a wonderful move. The first page puts the reader at ease with its gentle fields and cute critters before we turn over to the second half.

Ann would only contribute to three issues in total (returning for #30’s Hamadonna and #60‘s Pigasus) but the terrible puns would return with a vengeance in the final strip of this very issue, which we’ll get to below. Watery Down was definitely seen as a highlight of the series, evidenced by the fact it was one of only a handful of stories to be reprinted in the final editions of OiNK.

Another one-off I wanted to include is written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by Weedy Willy‘s artist, Mike Green. A Shaggy Bird Story is the sweet tale of an injured animal being taken in and looked after by a young boy, who nurses it back to health before releasing it back into the wild. It all starts off innocently enough with the boy’s “unspeakably miffed” pet cat setting things in motion.

Every time I see that cat sitting on the windowsill in December it makes me laugh! I think this may have been one of the back issues my cousin gave me because I distinctly remember this strip despite the fact I hadn’t discovered OiNK yet. It’s testimony to the comic that its one-off strips are as well remembered as the regular characters and this is one which has stood the test of time and the old grey memory cells.

If you track this issue down on eBay (and you really should) you’ll find Jim Needle‘s Pete’s Pup continuing to terrorise his family with his monstrous appetite, there’s another spoof of a children’s favourite in the shape of Rupert the Pear, the Grunts page admits it had to get creative in the early issues and Uncle Pigg’s Amazing Facts About Animals showed OiNK could be an educational read.

In the early days of the comic our esteemed editor ran a regular competition in which he’d judge readers’ messy bedrooms. It was a case of the messier the better and those chosen to feature would win a piggy prize. This time around pig pal Simon Sarfas showed us how it was done and the result was probably not a million miles away from my own childhood bedroom, although these days it makes me cringe thinking about a mess like this! I’m just showing my age now.

I always thought these were a mainstay, at least in the first year of the comic so it surprised me to find out they only appeared four times, including the original promotion in the preview issue. It did receive criticism from some parental groups who saw it as encouraging children to be even more messy than they already were but we were kids, that was our job.

At least Simon has his television close by so he can somehow make it across his room without damaging his feet in time for the afternoon film, Laffie. The next instalment in the Golden Trough Awards series is my favourite. Taking the ‘Wonder Dog’ concept of Lassie and really running with it, it puts the canine hero aboard a plane when the captain finds himself stuck in the toilet tens of thousands of feet in the air. So a typical Lassie-type plot then.

One look at that dog in the pilot’s seat and how could this not be one of the selected highlights?

Brought to you by the same partnership as the first strip in this issue, Tony Husband has written a hilarious script full of daring dos and funny eyewitnesses, all brought to the page with Ian Jackson‘s unique style. What we end up with is a frantic, madcap yarn that starts at full speed and doesn’t let up.

One look at that dog in the pilot’s seat and how could this not be one of the selected highlights?

I remember I could spend so long just looking at Jackson’s artwork and roaring with excited laughter as a kid. That feeling hasn’t dissipated as an adult. The feeling of excitement returns later too with a tiny two-panel strip hidden away underneath Tom Thug‘s. If you’re new to OiNK you’ll probably be wondering why this unassuming little section of the page could be anything more than a funny space filler. But for pig pals everywhere this is just the first appearance of a comic icon.

Of course at the time readers couldn’t have known how big a part in the future of OiNK Pete and his Pimple were going to play. Lew Stringer‘s creation would eventually return in #15, becoming one of the main strips in each and every issue, even continuing into the pages of Buster for a period after OiNK came to an end.

Over the course of his OiNK career Pete would be the only character to get his own pull-out comic, and he’d also be the star of free gifts, a board game, appear in crossovers with Tom and with a gigantic robotic pig, and eventually Lew ran a weekly competition in which Pete tried out various pimple busting solutions sent in by readers.

Lew would actually end up having to tone down Pete’s strip in order for them to appear in Buster. What was there about the character above that would need toned down? Just you wait and see! We’ll get to the reason behind that when he reappears again later this year.

Every single panel contains at least one pun, with well over a dozen altogether in just the one strip.

You should prepare yourself for this final highlight, especially if you groaned at the conclusion to Watery Down. While that had two pages to build up to one gag, Fish Theatre starring Noel Pilchard does the opposite and squeezes in an absurd amount of puns into its one page. Written by Graham Exton and drawn by Ed McHenry, Graham told me how he’d often use up several scripts worth of puns all at once, robbing himself of the chance to use his vast array of jokes over many stories.

In the end he just ended up giving himself more work, having to think up new puns each time, but the end result is so funny I think it was worth all that extra effort. Every single panel below contains at least one pun (sometimes more), with well over a dozen altogether in just the one strip. Don’t think it’s possible? You have been warned.

I really didn’t want this issue to end but what an ending it gave us. It’s been a blast revisiting this particular OiNK and to have such a faultless issue this early in its life proves the strength of its concept and of the team assembled to bring it to life. It just keeps on getting better and better and with over 60 issues plus specials and books to come, there’s a lot of laughing yet to do.

With the comic still fresh out of the gates it wouldn’t have a dedicated Holiday Special until the following year, but #7 makes up for that with its summery theme and ice cold cover. Confused? The next issue’s review will be here from Monday 26th July 2021 and all will be revealed.