Tag Archives: Davey Jones

OiNK! #20: BAY OF PiGS

As with the crime theme in OiNK #14 (my first ever issue), having a humour comic based around war may seem odd at first. But pig pals and regular readers of this blog will know we had nothing to fear because as per usual the team grabbed the subject with both hands, and actually have created one of the best issues yet. It kicks off with Eric (Wilkie) Wilkinson‘s brilliant front cover featuring parachuting pigs sneaking up on enemy trenches during World War One. I always liked Wilkie’s art style, it was unique and had a real texture to it.

He continues the story inside with a double-page spread as soon as we open the issue. The Forgotten Heroes tells the tale of a British regiment in their last desperate days before being overrun by the enemy. A cunning plan is developed to fly hundreds of soldiers over the enemy and parachute down for a successful surprise attack. But not just any soldiers, the army were going to use pigs! This is a brilliant spoof of the kind of strips we’d have seen in Battle or today in Commando comic, but beware the horrifying twist in the tale (tail).

I definitely didn’t see that coming, not in the pages of this comic that’s for sure. While clearly as pig pals we should feel sorry for how it all ended it’s a very funny picture to see the pile of sausages with the posthumous medal on top. Although, it could be argued the strip was also making a point about the pointlessness of war, something Mr Big Nose certainly shouts about later in the issue, as you’ll see below. Wilkie only joined OiNK last time and he’s already making a name for himself with original, clever and most importantly very funny strips.

In recent years to be a geek has become very chic. It wasn’t always the case of course. I was fortunately never bullied for reading comics back in my later years in grammar school, there was just some good natured ribbing. That’s not to say others didn’t have to put up with narrow-minded kids trying to have a laugh at their expense. For all those comics fans Lew Stringer created Specky Hector, the Comics Collector, a stereotypical comics fan who in this case gets the upper hand over the bully in typical Lew fashion.

Hector would only appear one more time in the pages of OiNK in a special guide to collecting comics but he would pop up occasionally in the pages of Buster after OiNK folded. As recent as 2020 he also appeared in the Battle special from Rebellion when this strip was reprinted in colour. Then, just last year Lew brought us a little update on Hector in a special piece of art commissioned to raise money for the War Child charity, and you can check it out for yourself by reading the blog post.

There isn’t a single panel here without a genuine laugh-out-loud moment

Davey Jones is synonymous with Viz comic and his contributions to OiNK were always manic, packed to the page edges with jokes, sight gags and the zaniest plots imaginable. There are three of his larger strips in particular which from memory are not only clear highlights of the issues they were published in, but of the entire OiNK series. The first of which in here. Called Bridge Over the River Septic it’s the (nearly) true story of a British army camp in Africa during the Second World War and their brave plan to capture a Nazi base positioned across the dangerously named river.

Of course, in the end the river is a quaint little jungle stream, complete with a delicately decorated bridge. There isn’t a single panel here without a genuine laugh-out-loud moment, whether it’s the looney plotting, the stark-raving mad general of the British troops, the caricatures of the enemy, or the multitude of background gags that surely must be a tip of the hat to the legendary Tom Paterson. (Keep an eye out for the factory in the background.)

My two favourite bits here (there are many) is that aforementioned factory and the brilliantly named General Von Manwenttomow! When signing his larger strips Davey would often label himself in soft daft way, sometimes even making a joke of his allegedly terrible writing talents. But his genius can’t be mocked. Starting off pretty insane, somehow Bridge Over the River Septic keeps building on this, getting zanier with each scene. It may only be a page-and-a-half but it’s so full of jokes it feels far longer. I mean that in a good way of course; there’s just so much packed into this space.

Other highlights include regular characters being inspired by the events of war, like Tom Thug building himself a wooden tank and Hadrian Vile assembling his own army against the local school bully. There’s a poster depicting a Wild West battle between pigs and butchers and The Golden Trough Awards parodies The Great Escape which you can see a couple of panels of below, next to part of a spread called Famous Last Words!

I’m sure most of you will at least have heard about the story King Solomon’s Mines or its central character, Allan Quartermain, seeing as how the classic book by H. Rider Haggard has been adapted into several movies, comics, television shows and radio plays. The movie I remember enjoying on Saturday afternoon TV was the tongue-in-cheek adaptation starring Richard Chamberlain, Sharon Stone and the ever-brilliant John Rhys-Davies. It was released in 1985 and a year later OiNK saw it as the perfect target for the next multi-issue epic.

Written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by Ron Tiner, King Solomon’s Swines is a five-part serial and the first such strip to be drawn by someone other than J.T. Dogg. Ron’s style suits the story perfectly and to me brings a certain Tintin feel, which of course is exactly right for this story of a lost temple. The lead character is renamed Sir Herbert Quarterbrain and he takes his niece and nephew with him, who end up victim to all of the traps as the explorer himself remains unscathed. Here’s chapter one, called The Temple of Gloom, an obvious spoof on a similar style of movie series.

Funny names, clumsy sidekicks, pig-themed relics and the ignoring of all the danger signs as heroes in these stories often do, it’s a good start. It also stands out in this issue for another reason. I’ve mentioned before how most, but not necessarily all of the contents of each OiNK would follow the theme, some issues more than others. The obvious Christmas issue aside, this war theme seems to be the one that’s really got the creative juices flowing because King Solomon’s Swines is the only strip in the whole issue that breaks from the subject (the serials always did, for obvious reasons).

It’s one of those pages you could show to someone by way of describing exactly what OiNK was

Continuing right to the very last page, the back cover has a little moral tale for the young readers. The year after this in 1987 I received the 50th anniversary book for The Dandy and Beano. A large portion of it was dedicated to the comics during wartime and it was a fascinating read to see how they not only survived those years, but how they kept the children company. They contained rousing little tales of heroism among children which would connect with the readers of the 1940s, relating the ongoing war to them in ways they could understand.

OiNK decided to have a go at one of these. The result is Jim and Joe, A moving tale of War and Friendship. Drawn by Chas Sinclair it’s sung to the tune of ‘Two Little Boys’, but even if you can’t place that tune in your head it’s still a great laugh and a perfect end to the issue. In fact, it’s one of those pages you could show to someone by way of describing exactly what OiNK was, and why it was so adored by so many of us in the 80s.

That may be the final page but it’s not the last word on this issue. Before we get to that, I just have to say this has been a brilliant issue. With all but one of the strips keeping to the subject, while being so completely different to each other, it really shows the dynamic range of talent OiNK’s editors Mark Rodgers, Tony Husband and Patrick Gallagher had been able to assemble. It feels like the most confident issue to date and with some of the best themes yet to come it bodes very well indeed for some hilarious reading throughout 2022.

The next review will be of the Valentine’s Special and that’ll be here on Monday 7th February, but I’ll just dip back inside this issue for that last word I mentioned, in fact the last word on war in general, and it’s from Jeremy Banx and his Mr Big Nose.

OiNK! #13: FRiGHTFULLY FUNNY

A brilliant headline pun welcomes us to the Hallowe’en issue of OiNK and what a great piece of coincidental timing, having the thirteenth issue out for the spooky season. At a time when most other humour comics had a strip on the cover OiNK’s bold, colourful covers really stood out and I think you’ll agree that’s certainly the case here with Ben Turner‘s one and only contribution to the comic and co-editor Patrick Gallagher‘s shivering version of his classic logo.

Ben is a seriously talented artist who at the time worked for Cosgrove Hall Productions (Danger Mouse, Count Duckula) alongside other OiNK artists Andy Roper and John Geering. He was also involved in producing and directing and from 1997 to 2006 was Creative Director at Cosgrove Hall Films where one of his projects was The BFG. Now working independently as a freelance director and designer in animation he was Art Director on CBBC’s Chuggington, a show which Patrick actually wrote some episodes for.

What do you think happens when Roger Rental meets the Slithering Horror?

In addition to all the themed laughs inside there are two event strips, both of which involve Lew Stringer. The first is a character crossover between Lew’s Tom Thug and Mike Green‘s Weedy Willy, who was created by Graham Exton and written either by him or co-editor Mark Rodgers. It kicks off with their individual strips. Tom was drawn by a 27-and-three-quarters-years-old Lew (according to his signature) and also includes future star Pete and his Pimple‘s sister Zeta.

Embarrassed in front of a girl by his own ineptness he’s jokingly compared to Willy and, Tom being the dim-witted bully he is, naturally decides to go and beat up Willy as revenge for this slight. At the same time Willy is yet again falling foul of his own attempts to woo Dishy Mandy who compares his intelligence to Tom’s. Everything is now set for a Clash of the Titans! We even get to see Tom angrily cutting across a field to get to his nemesis in Davy FrancisCowpat County.

The idea for the strip was suggested by Graham as a battle “between the two cowards, Tom and Willy.” Mark then scripted and in the days before the internet the artwork was shared via post. Lew pencilled and inked his bits first, loosely indicating in pencil where Weedy Willy should be. According to Lew, Mike was free to change these of course and it was all achieved quite easily in the end, as he doesn’t recall any back and forth being necessary.

I love how in the end these two complete opposites are more alike than they’ll ever realise. Everything they say out loud is said by the other at exactly the same time. Lew’s and Mike’s different styles come together flawlessly so it’s unfortunate it’d be the only time something like this would be created for the comic. There would be crossovers between Lew’s characters and different artists would draw one another’s for guest appearances, but this is a truly unique strip and one of the classics of the whole run.

Moving on to the Hallowe’en hilarity and one of our favourite characters finds himself up against an unspeakable terror. So what do you think happens when Ian Knox‘s Roger Rental Meets the Slithering Horror?

Of course.

The next two strips are perfect examples of the little one-offs which made up so much of our fortnightly dose of OiNK, the first of which is also the debut of Davey Jones to its pages (and his first published comics work). Davey is best known for his work on Viz, which he was freelancing for at the time before joining their staff in 1990. Some of his most famous creations are The Real Ale Twats, Gilbert Ratchet and Major Misunderstanding.

Here he puts a new spin on an old dog trick in Henry the Wonder Dog. Davey would contribute to 17 issues of OiNK altogether but as for Henry he’d only reappear once in #29. Strangely, so would the joke in a different strip later in the run.

The second strip is another by Lew Stringer. (This issue’s review is turning into a Lew special!) Doctor Jeckyll’s Experiment could’ve been told over half as many panels, but with the extra space here Lew’s expert comedic timing really pays off with some hilarious facial expressions, especially from the newly furry Jeckyll.

Do you remember the Care Bears, the saccharin Sunday morning cartoon with garishly coloured teddy bears? Based on the toys of the same name they were everywhere in the 1980s and even had their own comic from Marvel UK. But this is OiNK, so take that name and think of an appropriately ghoulish (and piggy) take on sweet and cuddly soft toys and what do you come up with? The Scare Boars of course. I noticed there’s a little copyright line from IPC Magazines below this Madvertisement, so jokingly thought the publisher had considered they’d make for good merchandise.

As it turns out this wasn’t so far-fetched after all. Patrick tells me, “I think IPC recognised that the characters (mocked up to a finished standard) could be highly marketable and might draw the attention of potential investors, and therefore deemed it necessary to state ownership (which, incidentally, they’d already stated in the full imprint earlier on). Though, whether they own as much as they claim is another matter!”

Who wouldn’t have wanted to own one of these? Which one would you have picked? For me it would have been Hampire Boar but it appears he and Skele Boar could be out there terrorising unsuspecting kids if a video posted by Patrick on the OiNK Facebook group is anything to go by. Check this out.

I know from social media and the previous iteration of this blog that this particular Madvertisement is a favourite among many, so to see one of its creators with Hunchback Boar like this is brilliant! So funny. If you’re not already a member of the group you should really join because it’s a great place for pig pals to chat and OiNK’s contributors (in particular Patrick) are always sharing bits and pieces about the creation of our favourite comic. Unmissable.

At this point I’d normally select a few memorable panels from various strips to give you an inkling of the rest of its contents. Instead, for this issue I wanted to show off two little panels from the Golden Trough Awards which were now being drawn by Tony Husband. A Hallowe’en special wouldn’t be complete without a Dracula story and here the terrified villagers have hatched a plan to rid themselves of the Count once and for all, and it involves headphones.

This wouldn’t be the last time Steve Wright would be the butt of a joke in OiNK. In fact, just to show how he could laugh at himself and take it all in good jest he would appear in a later issue and collect an award for Worst DJ as voted for by the readers!

Over the past few issues Jeremy Banx contributed some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments with some very surreal one-off strips, the kind he does so well. If you’ve missed Mrs. Warsaw-Pact or Ian Nasalcavity Visits his Grandparents you can check them out in the reviews for #10 and #11 respectively before we move on to the last of this little series of random extra strips.

In The Curse of the Mummy we’re introduced to more impossibly-named individuals, Barty Pimple-Squeak and Mervin Vermin-St. John-Platt who are searching the tomb of an Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh. Not to be outdone, the former ruler is none other that King Sir Alf Rameses III and all of that is just in the opening caption! Just remember this is a Banx strip, so clearly whatever curse is unleashed upon the archaeologists is like nothing you could predict.

Being fascinated with Ancient Egypt myself this was a very welcome surprise addition. In fact, maybe due to my interest in the subject matter and how this perfectly spoofs it (or maybe just because Jeremy is a genius) this had me laughing even more than the previous two I mentioned above. Every single panel has a brilliant gag so good any one of them could be used as the punchline ending in other humour strips! This is right up there with Jaws ’86 for me.


“Through the interaction of vile jellies and mushy peas, the dumped dinners came to life!”

Lew Stringer (Monster Mash)

The final highlight is the other event strip and it’s the introduction to a much-loved character who would only appear in a handful of editions, but who left a big impression. A very BIG impression. This was the issue before I originally started buying OiNK as a kid and it’s such a shame because as a child I loved watching those old rubber-suited Godzilla monster movies late at night on Channel Four, so this would’ve been right up my alley. It’s time to welcome Pigswilla.

Co-editor Mark Rodgers had the idea for a strip where a massive collection of discarded school dinners came to life. He wrote the first script and then handed it off to Lew Stringer to develop further before drawing it. Originally called “The School Dinner Monster” Lew changed this to Monster Mash and created “Pigzilla” to combat the sludge. In their collaborative effort Mark changed this to Pigswilla which is of course brilliant. Only appearing in seven editions of the comic (including two of the annuals) made every one of his stories an extra special treat.

Lew wrote about the creation of Pigswilla and this particular strip on his Lew Stringer Comics blog back in 2016 to mark its 30th anniversary where he mentions working with Mark and how the paper used to print OiNK made for some lovely artistic choices.

Lew writes: “As OiNK was printed on quality paper (as opposed to the newsprint of its companion comics Buster, Whizzer and Chips etc.) I knew we could be a bit more adventurous with the rendering of the artwork so I thought a grey wash would give it more depth. I was really pleased with how the strip turned out and it remains one of my favourite pieces 30 years later.” Head on over to Lew’s blog for more.

I hope you all have a horrific Hallowe’en in the best possible way. What a great way to mark the season this issue has been. No wonder it’s Lew’s favourite issue from the first calendar year of OiNK one of Patrick’s favourites from the whole run.

At the time of writing this post it’s a busy time on the blog with more real time read throughs beginning and bringing the current running total to six at once! The review of the first issue of the latest series will actually be up on 31st October, Hallowe’en itself, which is just perfect for that comic as you’ll see. Then just one day later the 14th issue of OiNK, the first I ever owned(!) will be reviewed on Monday 1st November 2021 or as I like to call it, the beginning of Christmas Eve Month.