Tag Archives: Clive Collins

OiNK! #25: IT CUTS ME UP!

What’s this, a price rise? It had to happen eventually, but it’s crazy to look back and think about our comics costing only 35p for all of that hard work that went into them. OiNK was already more expensive than its peers and as the likes of Buster and Whizzer and Chips went up 2p each to 26p, our piggy publication went up by 5p to the grand sum of 35p. OiNK was independently produced and printed on lovely large, glossy paper, both of which made it more expensive to produce but they also made it worth every extra penny.

This is the Toys and Hobbies Issue and it’s full of interactive elements for the young readers. By that I mean things to cut out and make. In fact, there’s so much here the comic would be nothing but a pile of twisted paper if the reader did them all! I’ll show you one further down the review. To kick things off, apparently for Hadrian Vile and his artist Ian Jackson the theme has conjured up an image of voodoo experiments. As you do. The surprises continue inside with a memorable strip involving killer playthings and the insane artwork of Jon Langford in The Terrible Toys.

Written by Mark Rodgers, this should conclusively show that even such a safe topic could be completely turned on its head by OiNK. Jon’s art always made an impression and this is no exception, especially the fang-toothed Santa Claus at the end. (This wouldn’t be the scariest Santa we’d see in OiNK.) His use of thick, heavy lines, as if he’s leaning furiously on the page as he draws, and a lovely loose freehand style bring complete chaos to anything he crafted. You can also just about see a couple of edits around copyright names, the most obvious being “Borbie Dolls” where the ‘O’ has been changed. I’m not sure what Hasbro would’ve said!

Back in #20 Lew Stringer introduced us to a new character called Specky Hector, the Comics Collector by way of a funny three panel strip. I was delighted to see his return in this issue with a full page all to himself, in which he shares his tips for what he sees as the correct way to collect and store comics, complete with ink stains and finger prints which are very unbecoming of someone who prides themselves on their mint collection. After this I looked forward to future instalments from Hector in whatever form they would take but unfortunately the character never returned to this comic. However, for pig pals who followed some of the characters to the pages of Buster after OiNK folded he would pop up on occasion and you can even read this previous blog post to find out how he’s doing today.

There are a lot of great gags here and I particularly like the front cover of The Beany. Look closely and you’ll see the strip has someone ask for credits and the star of the strip says, “Jings! We don’t run credits!” This was a dig at the comics which never credited their writers and cartoonists; something else which set OiNK apart from the very beginning. This was a specific point of difference for its creators Mark Rodgers, Tony Husband and Patrick Gallagher, that everyone should receive on-page credit for their work and it was a hot topic in the UK industry at the time. So I particularly liked this joke.


“I’m even giving up my old hobby of collecting squashed hedgehogs!”

Tom Thug

Just as a point of interest, I don’t personally protect the comics I collect and read for this blog in carded plastic bags or store them away out of sight. Mine are all proudly displayed on shelves around the small office in my house (I say office, it’s the spare bedroom with a desk instead of a bed) and can be picked up and instantly flicked through. I remember a friend years back would go to painstaking lengths to keep his comics and novels pristine and the way he’d hold them while reading looked so uncomfortable. To me, a bookshelf full of novels with cracked spines shows they’ve been loved. The same goes for my comics. Don’t get me wrong, I look after them, but comics are for consumption, to be read over and over, and most importantly loved. I don’t think Hector would really disagree with that sentiment.

Also in this issue is the second part of that Tom Thug story which began last issue. To recap, Wayne Brayne tricked Tom (not a difficult thing to do) into thinking he was seeing his older self as a decrepit pensioner spending his last days in prison, and it terrified him. Determined not to end up that way we saw him reformed, prancing down the road barefoot with bunches of flowers and a shiny halo above his head. Originally I’d thought it was just a funny ending for that issue and things would be back to normal this time. But that’s not the case and the strip kicks off with his dad getting the shock of his life.

This is a great strip, from the question mark beside the title, to his idiotic attempts at being nice and his eventual return to form. There’s even a quick reference to a hobby for the theme. I particularly like the panel where he swings at Wayne and punches the tree, the exaggerated punch and the pain in his eyes are perfect. In the end he hasn’t even returned to his normal thuggish ways out of his own choice. Instead he’s once again been manipulated by Wayne, this time at the encouragement of the locals and even Tom’s own dad. It’s a great end to a very funny two-parter.

In the pages of OiNK Wayne always reminds me of a younger version of Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye and team captain on Have I Got News For You. Interestingly however, when Tom’s strips became regular full-colour pages in Buster we found out Wayne is actually black, which was sadly a rare thing in our comics at the time. Speaking to Lew, he tells me he imagined Wayne as being black at some stage before the colour strips, however at one point OiNK gave him pink skin when someone at the office did the colouring.

Here are some of the other highlights of the issue, with Dead Fred taking on a handy new hobby, in The Sekret Diary ov Hadrian Vile the young lad’s completely normal pastimes get him into trouble, Rubbish Man uses some of his memorable superpowers to great effect and in the strangely named Blow Peter co-editor Tony Husband takes aim at the very random things the programme would’ve built and encouraged their young viewers to copy.

So on the front cover we’re told there’s a “fantastic cut-out zeo-trope” inside. It’s a name that flew over my head as a kid but when I saw the page I instantly recognised the device used to produce basic animation. The fact it was billed as “fantastic” could only mean one thing, that this was going to be on Frank Sidebottom‘s page. I wasn’t wrong. Chris Sievey‘s imagination and ability to come up with unique ideas for his character’s pages never ceased to surprise.

I remember versions of this on children’s television at the time. The correct spelling is “zoetrope”, originally named when its inventor William E. Lincoln took the Greek words meaning ‘Wheel of Life’ to describe his new toy, which produced animated drawings before the days of film. As Frank explains, once assembled and spun the user looks through the holes, each one flicking by to show the frame on the opposite side, one by one. When spun quickly this gives the illusion of motion.

With the zoetrope, a cut-out stage and finger puppets depicting Uncle Pigg, Snatcher Sam and Mary Lighthouse, as well as a DIY Harry the Head which involved cutting out his features and gluing them to a pink balloon, there wouldn’t be much left of this issue if we’d actually created everything included! I don’t remember doing any of them, or indeed any of the board games or other models which required cutting my precious OiNKs. I may not have stored them in big plastic tubs away from sunlight, but I didn’t cut any of them up! Well, apart from coupons for the merchandise, of course.

Always a great character with consistently funny strips, Jeremy Banx‘s Burp was hitting a stride about this time in OiNK’s run that would continue without faltering all the way to the end of the weeklies when he’d disappear from the comic. Between now and then he’d even get a few two-page strips and some stories so surreal they could make Jeremy’s other regular character, Mr Big Nose look positively sane (almost). This issue’s strip is a favourite of mine and shows just how out of control things can get in a Burp story.

My favourite part is the large panel showing our planet zooming through the cosmos, the speech balloons at various points in its trajectory conveying the speed at which we’re hurtling about, culminating in Burp’s brilliant line, “You’re brutal, you are!” This broke me. In an issue of OiNK it’s always going to be very difficult to point at a page and say it’s the funniest, but even though it’s a closely run race as always, this had me in stitches. It’s even signed upside down to match the final panel. Simply brilliant stuff.

Written by Tony Husband and drawn by Clive Collins, Maggie Pie Collector of Weird Things had been a semi-regular in the early issues of the comic but her most recent appearance before now was back in #14. She would only appear a few more times (twice more in the comic and once in the first annual) and given how the theme includes hobbies she just had to be present in this one. Not only did she get her usual (well, unusual) story page, she also presented us with this guide to stamp collecting.

There’s some special news in the middle of the comic.

I particularly like the Penny White and the Latverian ‘Big Brother’. At ten-years-of-age I wasn’t really aware of any world events and had never been bitten by the stamp collecting bug, but enough of my friends collected them and I’d seen enough episodes of The A-Team freeing villages that I still found them funny.

There’s some special news in the middle of the comic. Throughout its life (and after) OiNK’s team would produce four holiday/summer specials, two annuals, the Smokebusters issue for schools in the north of England and the Crash computer magazine edition. The first of these was the 1987 Holiday Special and it went on sale along with this issue as the advert below by co-editor Patrick Gallagher announced.

This was exciting as a child! I also have some very distinct memories of this particular edition, both from my childhood and from later on in life and I’ll share these with you when I review it in just seven days from now. But this wasn’t the only reason for pig pals to get excited and I’ll explain that right after our final highlight of the issue.

Drawn by Steve Gibson, Watch the Skies takes inspiration from the Highway Code’s road signs to create a symbols guide for airplane spotters everywhere. Reading just the first two had me laughing! This is the final interior contribution to the issue (the back page had a script to go with the finger puppets I mentioned earlier) and was just below the Next Issue promo, which is where the further exciting news could be found.

The next issue of OiNK is the birthday issue! That’s right, can you believe it’s already been almost a full year since this read through of the world’s greatest comic began? The issue marks the end of the comic’s first year rather than the beginning of the second as would be traditional (typical OiNK), and marks a year since the release of the preview issue. This might seem strange at first but remember the preview wasn’t a shrunk down, miniature sneak peek of what was to come, it was a full-sized issue and worthy of celebration.

But wow, a full year has passed already. There’s still plenty to look forward to over the next year-and-a-half of OiNK and next up is that Holiday Special on Monday 11th April 2022, followed swiftly by #26 on Monday 18th April. Extra rashers all round. See you all soon.

OiNK! #14: THE BEGiNNiNG

So this is an exciting review for me. This was the first issue of OiNK I ever read back as a kid. Not only that, this was the first ever comic I could call my own. While my brother and sisters had been reading the likes of The Beano, Bunty and Look-In this was the first comic bought specifically for me, after I saw this funny Jeremy Banx cover in the newsagent. But it was a certain page inside which made me recognise this as my first issue when I did my last read through and we’ll get to that below.

But once I knew this fact the memories came flooding back, like seeing the cover for the first time and being introduced to my first OiNK spoof, The Unprofessionals. Based on the iconic television show, my dad and brother used to watch it all the time so I was fully aware of it and thought this was such a funny take on it. I’m sure I must’ve showed it to them. Drawn by Ron Tiner (The Hotspur, Battle Action, Hellblazer) if there had been an official comic based on the show some of these caricatures wouldn’t have looked out of place.

It’s a lovingly crafted spoof and superbly highlights the over-the-top violence of the series but in a funny, kid friendly way. Ron would go on to contribute to 16 issues of OiNK including two further parody serials based on Sherlock Holmes and King Solomon. I didn’t know comics did this kind of thing. Of course, they didn’t really, OiNK was a unique entity and a trendsetter! Being a fan of Spitting Image at the time (my brother watched it and we shared a room, I didn’t really understand what was going on but I found it funny) this really appealed and was a big reason I wanted to read more OiNK.

Marc Riley’s appearances as Snatcher Sam were always highlights of the issues he appeared in.

Crime might seem like a strange topic for a kids’ comic, but Mary Lighthouse and her real world counterpart had nothing to worry about, the message was very clear that crime doesn’t pay. Criminals and bullies met their comeuppance in highly imaginative ways throughout, and in once case a thief actually came good and became a private detective. That thief was of course Snatcher Sam, as portrayed by Marc Riley. This being my first encounter with him I was unaware of his dodgy past but that didn’t make this any less funny.

Marc’s appearances as Sam were always highlights of the issues he appeared in, though I was surprised to find out the character only appeared in nine of the editions I owned as a child (and only 16 altogether). I could’ve sworn he was in almost every single one, but perhaps I just reread them a lot! People sometimes doubt me when I say this comic still makes me laugh but if any proof was needed the second panel on the second page had me roaring.

A character who had been a regular in the early issues but whose appearances had reduced by this stage was Maggie Pie, Collector of Weird Things, a young girl with an obsession of finding new things to collect no matter how weird, random or disgusting. Always written by Tony Husband and drawn by Clive Collins (Punch, Reader’s Digest and Life Vice-President of The Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain) her earlier strips were a bit hit-and-miss with me personally but this one gave me a good old giggle.

Maggie appeared in just ten issues but that did include the first annual and many remember her as a regular, maybe because it looked like she was going to be one at the very beginning when she appeared in nearly every issue. Clive would return a few more times, most memorably for some brilliant Walt Disney parodies where he mimicked their comic characters perfectly.

This was the first appearance of Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith!

This issue also introduces another semi-regular character. After the skeleton staff accidentally let butchers into the pages of the comic while Uncle Pigg was on holiday in #8, Jeremy Banx began a series of Butcher Watch Updates with various exaggerated butcher caricatures, each more menacing than the last. While they all seemed to like their jobs a little too much, one stood out enough that he’d return now and again as the nemesis of anthropomorphic pigs everywhere. This was the first appearance of Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith! A small part of the issue this time around, he’d soon ascend to become a menace we’d all love to hate.

Other highlights also include Ian Knox‘s background animals in Roger Rental, He’s Completely Mental, Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins is being set up for something and the hidden evidence is just ridiculous and in Tom Thug the bullying pillock faces his own nemesis, a victim’s big sister.

Regular blog readers will no doubt remember the insane amount of puns written by Graham Exton for Fish Theatre in the animal-themed #6 from a few months back. Of course, depending on how well you received those puns you may have tried to blank it from your memory! I was a big fan though, in fact the more groans a pun can produce the better. Graham said he used up enough puns for several scripts on that one page, just giving himself more work in the long run. Well, it appears he hasn’t learned his lesson.

Graham has decided to revisit the idea with Agadoo (push a pineapple?) Christie’s Murder in the Orient Express Dining Car, a murder mystery where all the characters are vegetables, drawn by Ian Knox. It might not contain puns in every single panel this time around but that doesn’t mean the volume is any more bearable. Just to make sure you don’t miss a groan, each pun is even underlined.

If you can peel your eyes away from that overload of gags the next two highlights confirmed for me this was my first issue. I had the huge three-part poster calendar up on my walls as a kid and with the first part being given away free with #15 I knew I had to have started reading OiNK by that stage at least. But this half-page promo for it rang a big bell in my head. I remember seeing this little corner of part one and being excited my second issue was going to have such an exciting gift.

I’ve been able to collect the whole calendar again and it now takes pride of place on the wall of my home office inside which I write this very blog. It’s right behind me as I type in fact, in the perfect position for FaceTime calls. With the next three issues I’ll show you the part that came free and then the complete calendar afterwards. Even after all these years it’s a sight to behold, thanks to Ian Jackson‘s brilliant take on Mount Rushmore, Mount Rushboar.

This next page was conclusive proof this was my first issue. When I did my previous read through seven years ago this was the first page I recognised from any of the early issues. I did a little research to make sure it wasn’t reprinted later in the run and lo and behold it wasn’t, so here we are! You Are The Detective is a riff on the Cluedo board game, complete with suspects and a murder weapon. All the reader had to do was match the cause of death to the suspect. The only thing is, it looks like figuring out something as simple as the weapon isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Hilariously drawn by Mike Roberts (who I explained was a big part of my teen years in #10’s review) it’s a brilliant piece with a great puzzle to work out. There is an answer there. You just won’t get it. As a kid I spent forever trying to figure this out, determined I wouldn’t look at the answer until I got it myself. I remember lying in bed with the lamp on, still awake late on a school night no less, eventually giving up and checking the answer later in the issue. Needless to say I laughed and then couldn’t believe I’d missed it!

Try to work it out for yourself. The answer is further down this review but the punchline will be so much funnier if you give it a go first. No peeking!

With this being my first issue it was also my first exposure to all of OiNK’s art styles. I’d always assumed most humour comics had similar styles. That was certainly the impression I got when I browsed through my brother’s Beano and Dandy annuals every Christmas. OiNK was an explosion of fun by comparison! Even when it came to its final page, the back cover still had so much to give with the brilliant The Hold-Up written by Mark Rodgers and so expertly crafted by Ian Jackson.


“Some shops think OiNK is so clever that they won’t display it with the kids’ stuff!”

Uncle Pigg in reaction to W.H. Smith

To be exposed to Ian’s style at such a young age was an incredible experience for pig pals, I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this. But to have this as my first issue and then his huge poster straight after, well I know it’s a cliché to say it but it blew my little mind. This was the best possible sign off from the first time I had a comic all to myself.

Before we go there’s the little matter of the solution to the puzzle, which was found under the newsagent reservation coupon which took a dig at W.H. Smith who by this time had top-shelved OiNK after a couple of parents had complained about a strip. You can read all about this silliness in the review to #7.

Above this was the Next Issue promo and the main event was going to a certain Ham Dare, Pig of the Future. I’ll show you that promo box before the next review as always but for now that’s it, my trip back to a very special moment in my life is complete. I’d buy the next issue and then place a regular order, staying with the comic all the way through to the final issue.

The next issue will be reviewed on Monday 15th November 2021, however next Monday the 8th there’ll be a special post to mark the actual anniversary of my reading this issue. I hope you’ll join me then to mark the occasion.