Tag Archives: David Haldane

OiNK! #32: PHYSiCAL FUN

I’m not a sports fan, never have been. As a kid when OiNK was published my dad and brother were football mad but I simply had no interest. The Olympics were always the exception though and that remains true today, I’ll be glued to the TV day and night for two weeks solid (I’ve even booked time off work before for them) but then for four years normal service resumes. So it was with trepidation that I approached the latest issue of OiNK, which upon first glance I had no recollection of from childhood.

But now I’ve finished the issue I needn’t have worried. Beginning with that cover by Steve McGarry whose work we haven’t seen since #4, and this would be the last cover (and accompanying strip) he’d draw for the comic, his contribution to The OiNK! Book 1988 already completed even if we wouldn’t see it for a while yet. But it’s the panels down the left that really had me laughing, in particular the one about sports commentators! A funny start and inside the first laugh out loud moments come courtesy of Jeremy Banx’s smelly alien, Burp.

At this point Burp’s attempts at ingratiating himself with his human neighbours seem to be entering a rather gory phase, beginning with the malfunctioning fast food machine in #30 and in a strip I didn’t feature last issue he sliced off the top of Ronald Reagan’s head to have a chat with his brain. Bringing this little girl’s teddy bear to life might be the thing of fairy tales but as you can see Jeremy took it a step further to show the repercussions of such an act bedtime stories never would.

As well as the blackness of the blood adding to the funny horror and the bear’s protestations, there are a lot of moments here I found myself chuckling away to, not least of all Burp’s long explanation of what he did to the bear while never catching on that this was previously a toy. Also the fact it’s all done with ‘Bupa’ rays. Adverts for Bupa were on the telly all the time back then so even as a child I’d have found this funny. This issue wouldn’t be the last time we’d see this teddy either. It was, however, the first time we saw two other individuals.

One of my most fondly remembered strips, David Haldane’s Torture Twins was a regular staple of the comic from here on in, appearing in every regular issue except the penultimate monthly. It was a tale of twin brothers who really enjoyed their work. Their work just happened to be medieval torturers. In such a dark profession I guess it helps to have a good sense of humour! From gags and puns based on the style of torture they were using, to more ridiculous forms of torture, they were a highlight and a fan favourite! It’s good to finally see them here.

I knew of the Day of the Triffids from watching the movie not long before this issue, so it was the perfect material to parody

While this issue as a whole didn’t seem to jog the memory cells as much as others there’s one definite highlight that takes me right back to the first time I read it. In fact, it was the first time I’d come across these characters (my first issue was #14) who had made such a huge impact with pig pals who’d been with the comic from the start. Written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by J.T. Dogg, the second epic adventure for The Street-Hogs began here. The Day of the Triffics would be a lot shorter than their original story but it made a huge impact on me.

For young readers at the time already familiar with them it must’ve felt like an age since their last appearance in #11. The hype of their return began in #27 and was further added to last time with a large poster, but now the moment was finally here. I was completely won over by the potential of the strip by two things, namely the return of Dogg as the artist after I’d loved his work on Ham Dare, and the reason behind the plants being called Triffics!

It’s been too long since we’ve had a series of one preposterous cliffhanger after another, with equally ridiculous escapes the following issue. I knew of the Day of the Triffids from watching the movie late one night with my mum not long before this, so it was the perfect material to parody as far as I was concerned. The mysterious baddie really isn’t mysterious at all for those who’d read the first adventure, but that was all part of the fun, that our heroes who were so daring and gung-ho couldn’t even figure that out! I’m really looking forward to the next few issues.

So far out of the highlights I’ve shown only one has stuck to the theme, so here’s a selection of panels taken from throughout the issue. Pete and his Pimple finally work together to show it’s not all a bum deal for the spotty teen, there are some exercise ideas even I could get behind, a very funny spoof tabloid The Bumb is more believable than the real thing (and stars radio DJ Mark Radcliffe!), and then the final panel is about as close as we’d get to a friendship between Hector Vector and his Talking T-Shirt.

DJ and TV presenter, and close friend of editor Patrick Gallagher and writer/artist (and fellow radio DJ) Marc Riley, Mark Radcliffe worked alongside both on The Mark Radcliffe Show on BBC Radio One after OiNK and Round the Bend came to an end. The three also performed as The Shirehorses, a parody band that came off the back of the radio show. Also, Patrick and Mark performed with Chris Sievey aka Frank Sidebottom in his Oh Blimey Big Band, a photo of which you can see in #16‘s review. Of course, you’ll also know Marc and Mark as Mark and Lard!

Do you remember spot-the-ball competitions? They could still be around for all I know, but in case they’re not they’d run in newspapers and magazines back in the 80s and would involve a photograph taken during some action in a football game, with the ball itself removed from the picture. This would always be very cleverly disguised and given the technology of the day was quite the feat because there’d be no trace of it in the photo.

Competition entrants would need to look at the positions of each individual player, their actions, where they’re looking etc. and try to figure out where best to place their ‘X’ to highlight where they think the ball was in that precise moment. The team behind OiNK decided to run a similar competition in this sports issue and went to the same painstaking levels of professionalism to ensure it was as difficult to work out as possible. Well, difficult if you’re a cretin apparently.

I was so happy to see the return of Tom’s Toe in this issue! Originally appearing back in #12 he then popped up in the first Holiday Special before disappearing again until #30. Given the nature of the strip, that it would parody clichés from OiNK’s own sister publications, it worked best as a special character who’d just pop up now and again. If Tom had been a regular I think the joke could’ve worn thin and he could’ve strayed into cliché himself.

Thankfully that never happened and here his return is marked with a brilliant strip which really highlights the differences between OiNK and other comics of the day. Of course, it’s all helped along by the fact it’s drawn by John Geering whose usual work was among that which Tom was parodying! So, this time Tom and his friends are playing a game of footie when the ball bursts. What to do? Well, we have a boy whose toe can take on any form so naturally he grows it to resemble a football.

Tom’s four appearances were brief but memorable and the perfect antidote to the safer humour OiNK was created to counter

This halfway point of the page feels like the end gag for a traditional strip in another comic; “Haha, oh he made it into a football this week, I wonder what he’ll do next time haha?” But this is OiNK. OiNK was different, it went further. In this case, it takes the scenario further to see what would actually happen next, turning the second half of the strip into something else completely, into classic OiNK! The whole page is kind of like a metaphor for the difference between traditional comics and this one.

Unfortunately, this would be the last time we’d ever see Tom. His four appearances were brief but memorable and the perfect antidote to the safer humour OiNK was created to counter in the first place. John would return in the first OiNK Book, drawing more jokes aimed at other comics he worked on. As a child I’d no idea this was the case because OiNK was the only humour comic I collected for a while, but now I can appreciate his contributions even more than I originally did.

The final page I’d like to highlight is once again Frank Sidebottom’s. Chris Sievey was a creative genius, let’s make no bones about it, and since he joined the ranks of OiNK he’s designed a cut-out zoetrope, his own Time magazine cover and even created working programs for young ZX Spectrum computer users! The page he’s brought us this time once again shows the insane amount of work he’d put into OiNK. We appreciated it every single time.

No other character had such a variety of content from issue to issue. We just never knew what would be next with Frank! He particularly seemed to enjoy giving us an excuse to cut up our precious comics, giving us even more value for (our parents’) money. He certainly didn’t let us down with his (deep breath) Frank “Windy” Sidebottom vs Elton John All-Star Cut-Out Snooker Game. The rules alone were surely a feat to create. At one stage he even suggests throwing them out, they’re that intricate!

A simply wonderful page for us to finish on this time. The next OiNK comic review will be up from Monday 25th July 2022, the theme of which really puzzled me back in 1987, then made me very happy indeed to be living in Northern Ireland and not another part of the UK as a child. You’ll have to come back in a fortnight to find out what that’s all about.

OiNK! #30: THE SPiTTiNG iMAGE OF FUN!

This cover really takes me back and I’m not just talking abut OiNK itself, I’m clearly referencing the classic puppet satire show Spitting Image, whose characters were used in this edition. I was also a big fan of the series even if at that age a lot of the jokes went over my head. But there were always enough to keep me giggling for half an hour on a Sunday night. For our 30th issue they’ve collaborated with Uncle Pigg for the results of the OiNK Awards as voted for by pig pals.

We’ll get to that in a bit, although you can see from the front cover who won The World’s Biggest Wally. We kick off with our final set of free postcards, plonked in the middle of the award ceremony itself. Following up on Jeremy Banx‘s and Lew Stringer’s is Ian Jackson with these brilliant Uncle Pigg and Mary Lighthouse (critic) cards. I think both of these would’ve been great advertisements in other comics for OiNK, or made for very funny postcards to drop through the letterbox of unsuspecting family members waiting for a picturesque beach or mountaintop.

The issue itself begins with Mary’s own strip welcoming us to the subject of celebrities. Written as ever by Mark Rodgers and again drawn by Ian, she’s disgusted that respected famous people would be getting the OiNK treatment like this, but thinks the inclusion of herself on one of the postcards will send the right message. Naturally, it doesn’t quite work out as she planned and my favourite funny moment here comes right at the end with that poor policeman!

There’s another very important award to hand out this issue, the ‘Most Helpful Superhero Award’ so surely that means our resident high-flying, highly smelly Rubbish Man by David Haldane is up for a gong. Well no, apparently his whiffy antics aren’t award material. While he can make a hash of things, most times he does end up saving the day, but with that comes the pong and the mess left behind; not of destroyed buildings and terrified citizens but of mouldy mashed potatoes and cold spaghetti bolognese left everywhere. However, now he’s on a mission to prove he deserves recognition as a true hero.

This is one of my favourite Rubbish Man strips and contains nearly all of the elements that made David’s creation so enjoyable. We’ve got a ridiculous situation to begin with, an introduction of another completely random enemy character, an unsurpassed level of ever-increasing daftness in every single panel, our hero trying his best but failing epically and an ending you won’t see coming. In fact, the only thing missing is those aforementioned rotting foodstuffs he’d secrete from various parts of his body, with only his stench in the first panels reminding us of his unwelcome powers.

Even an old armchair can be a superhero in Haldane’s world, and even an old armchair that’s in the right spot by pure chance is a more welcome hero for the populace. Poor Rubbish Man! But Jimmy Bung (his alter-ego) isn’t the only character whose attempts at helping others regularly backfires, as equally (if not, more so) smelly alien Burp can attest. In this issue his latest invention teleports fast food straight into people’s stomachs so they don’t have to taste it but as always it doesn’t go quite as planned, as you can see in one of this issue’s many highlights. Also, check out Steve Gibson’s fruity version of Dustin Hoffman on the celebrity news page and our Wonder Pig gets yet another new name.

It’s time for the main event. With categories such as Worst Pop Group, Worst Dressed Person, Unfunniest Comedian and even Worst Comic, the readers of OiNK didn’t hold back in sharing what they thought of celebrities and 80s culture. There are quite a few on the shortlist, and even some I was a huge fan of at the time but it was all in good jest, giving the young readers the chance to take their own pot shots at the likes of those OiNK had targeted since the very beginning.

Taking up four pages in the middle of the issue we first get a chance to see each of the ten categories and the top three contenders in each. This opens out into the spread in the middle of the comic with those glorious Spitting Image Workshop puppets accepting the awards (a printed piece of card on a lanyard), although there was a particular recipient who looked incredibly lifelike as you’ll see! Tony Husband organised the photoshoot with the programme and Ian Tilton was the photographer (as an aside, Ian’s brother Mark was in the band The Creepers with OiNK’s Marc Riley), with radio DJ John Peel presenting the Most Annoying DJ Award. John had already contributed to #16 and had even played the flexidisc on air.

Kudos to Steve Wright for going along to accept this. Tony told me recently Steve was great on the day and had a brilliant sense of humour about the whole thing when he found out. Given who helped with this it’s a surprise to see The Chicken Song take away the World’s Worst Pop Song Award, although let’s face it Spitting Image’s song was purposefully written to be very annoying; a parody of the string of summer pop entries that were filling the 80s charts. Bob Geldof and Ronald Reagan get well-deserved titles, although I can’t help but disagree with George Michael‘s and I’ve at least a few female friends who might take issue with the pig pals over that one!

The OiNK team would go on to work closely with the Spitting Image Workshop on their Round the Bend TV series

All British comics are eclipsed by Beano, a regular target of OiNK’s for its safe humour and out-of-date characters at the time so it had a good chance of winning the Worst Comic Award. It’s completely reimagined itself over the intervening years and today contains a lot of rebellious, anarchic humour that would make Uncle Pigg proud, not least thanks to some contributors who grew up with our piggy publication. It’s a great comic and if you’ve any kids yourselves then you should definitely take advantage of the superb online subscription offers they always run.

The OiNK team would go on to work closely with the Spitting Image Workshop on their Round the Bend TV series, the puppets of which were designed by co-creator/editor Patrick Gallagher, and later in the 90s he’d be a commissioned writer on Spitting Image for six years. What a shame this was the only awards ceremony the comic would do, despite these being labelled as the first. It’s brilliant fun and looked like it was a blast to be a part of. As far as this reader is concerned it remains one of the most memorable highlights of the comic’s whole run. For now, let’s move on to something more “interleckshual”.

Hadrian Vile’s unique perspective perfectly matches the subject matter here. Taking a fresh look at the royals, politicians and more from the viewpoint of a child is a good idea on its own, but Hadrian’s character elevates it. He always thought of himself as being intellectually superior to pretty much everyone around him, so his child’s viewpoint is presented very matter-of-fact, very seriously in his young mind. Of course this means it’s all completely bonkers, just perfect for 80s culture!

Written by Mark Rodgers and illustrated by Ian Jackson, it’s always funny to see Ian’s interpretation of famous people, his jagged, exaggerated style perfectly capturing personalities as well as looks. In a way this page seems to go hand-in-hand with all of the television puppets contained in this issue. It’s also not the only time that British Prime Minister popped up in this issue, in fact she gets a starring role in the origin story of a certain critic and nemesis of our editor hog.


Two legs bad. Four legs better.

Davey’s Jones’ Prime Monster

Davey Jones brings us Prime Monster (as ever with Davey it’s even signed in a silly way), which takes place a few decades before the 80s when we find two young girls by the names of Margaret and Mary down on the pig farm. The two little spoilt brats have reckoned with the wrong set of little piglets to bully because in amongst their number is one teeny tiny pig who has already got the prerequisite pencil behind his ear. Amongst all the chaos Davey has even seen fit to include a couple of very OiNK-like riffs on a famous George Orwell quote! A great strip. Here it is, have fun.

Of course these two women would’ve been the best of childhood friends! At least in OiNKtown anyway. Yes, the characters and their stories were set in ‘OiNKtown’, a basic take on Beanotown. In the earlier issues PORKsmouth was used a couple of times but more as a place to ridicule and, obviously, somewhere Mary Lighthouse loved to visit. Surely Porksmouth would’ve been a better name than OiNKtown though? Anyway, I digress (as I do). For now that’s the end of the review, with just enough space to tell you about what’s coming up next.

The next regular OiNK will be its all-American issue and its review will be here from Monday 13th June 2020 but before that there’s a special extra to watch out for in the shape of Crash magazine #42. Regular readers of the blog will know what this is in reference to, but if you’re not up to speed go and check out the post about Zzap!64 #26 from last month. Crash not only contained an interview with OiNK’s three creators and an original Frank Sidebottom page, there was also the small matter of a special, free, original 16-page edition of our favourite comic! Check out Crash from Saturday 25th June 2022! It was an exciting time to be a pig pal in 1987, I hope I can recreate a little of that excitement right here.

OiNK! #27: OFF THE LEASH

Last issue aside we’ve had an almost unbroken run of Ian Jackson covers (including the Holiday Special) and his latest introduces us to the Big, Soft Pets Issue. I’ve always loved pets, even though we never really had any when I was a child, but nowadays I look after a late friend’s cat regularly and if I’m out and about and come across one everything stops while I chat to them in the hope of a little pet on their head. With lavatory humour right there on the front page (quite literally) it’s a funny start to the comic’s second year. Unsurprisingly, there are no pet pigs inside, they were on an equal footing with us in the world by now.

Last month in #23‘s review I told you about a time back at school when a friend erupted in the middle of a class and narrowly escaped getting into trouble because of OiNK. Then just a few weeks ago I explained how a similar situation led to a great deal of embarrassment for me as an adult in a hospital waiting room. We’re continuing the trend here because I’d forgotten how the following Vernon the Vet page produced yet another moment like these back in my school days. There’s a theme here, isn’t there? Can you guess which part of this resulted in a friend going into an uncontrollable giggle fit?

Well of course it was the moment Vernon fed medication to the wrong end of a St Bernard! Vernon had appeared in three of the early issues in tiny little entries, sometimes squeezed in next to a strip with advice for pet owners. Obviously his tips were always terrible and very funny, so it was great to see him upgraded to a full page, drawn here by Wilkie (Eric Wilkinson), who wasn’t with the comic when the character originally appeared. Unfortunately, apart from this very page being reprinted in the final edition (the OiNK Summer Collection, released in 1990) this would be the last we’d ever see of Vernon.

The promo for this issue in #26 featured Roger Rental so it’s rather strange to see he’s not actually present. However, his artist Ian Knox certainly is as he puts his talents to use in bringing a Tony Husband script to life. The story features a one-off character called Neville Stockport, otherwise known as superhero The Amazing Crablad. Ian’s work is easily identifiable but in this particular strip there are instances where I felt like he could’ve been subconsciously channelling his inner John Geering, which is never a bad thing obviously!

I love Ian’s work, always have, and I’m not saying this was the case, it just reminds me of the toothless great white shark Gums created for Monster Fun and originally drawn by Roy Davis. I knew the strip from the pages of Big Comic Fortnightly which reprinted later stories which John drew and I get that same energy here. Neville wouldn’t make another appearance in OiNK for obvious reasons.

This would be the last we’d see of these kinds of stories, and Daz himself, until the final issue

It’s been a while since we’ve read a nice, sweet bedtime story illustrated by Daz (Dave Skillin). These were such a common experience last year, the first appearing in the premiere issue. It’s a bit of a recurring theme with Daz for there to be some form of magical item (or this case an animal) and for the protagonist’s surname to rhyme with it, usually by just changing the first letter, resulting in a ridiculous name of course. In #1 we had Billy Bat and his Magic Hat, here we’ve got a magic kangaroo, so naturally Bangaroo is the person we end up with!

As usual it’s all told with rhyming captions and seems like a normal children’s story until about halfway through, when it suddenly takes a turn for the unexpected. To say the least! This would actually be the last we’d see of these kinds of stories, and Daz himself, until the very final issue, #68. So it’s just as well this one is so good and it’s all down to that very final caption where we find the traditional moral of the tale ( and I thought Graham Exton‘s puns were good/bad).

I hope you groaned and/or laughed as much as I did. This issue has so many highlights but I’ve painstakingly chosen a few to give you a sense of the issue as a whole. Frank Sidebottom’s guide to pets is as unique as you’d expect and his depiction of what’s really under the surface of those Loch Ness monster sightings is fantastic. Burp‘s internal organs’ independence takes a bold new leap and I’m not sure what’s funnier, his liver being a supervillain or the fact the disguise actually worked.

A rather strange addition is Daft Dog because it’s exactly the same joke as the Henry the Wonder Dog strip from #13, and there’s a lovely double-page spread for Zootown‘s pet show which contains this funny little gag below. Finally, Lashy the Wonder Pig from #18 makes a welcome return with his first of many name changes to Laffie. While it’s just as ridiculous as last time I adore this panel which brings a lovely little shadowy sunset atmosphere to the hilarity and a little sense of the heroic to the pig in question.

There’s a treasure trove of smaller strips here. While that could be said of every edition of OiNK, they’re of a particularly high standard this time with many memorable entries that have stood the test of time inside my ageing memory. The fact they’re so tiny and still stand out so much is testament to their quality and the genius of their writers and cartoonists. Out of all of these the largest is (suitably enough) David Haldane’s Hugo the Hungry Hippo. A disaster for all mankind, he takes a break from eating our cities this issue to show us just how lovable he could also be.

The quarter-page mini-strips this issue, those between one and three panels in length and guaranteed to produce a quick laugh, nail it so perfectly. Always a great addition to any OiNK, this issue by design or coincidence they’re all classics. I’ve selected just three of them to show you what I mean and first up is Davy FrancisDerek Blinge.

One panel, one line of dialogue, one funny facial expression and we’re done! Davy’s quick wit on full display

Originally written by Davy to be drawn by Ed McHenry, Ed was ill at the time and waiting for a triple bypass operation. With a few scripts written, when Ed became sick co-editor Mark Rodgers asked Davy to draw them instead. The name was also changed from ‘Plinge’ to the now familiar ‘Blinge’ to keep them separate but as it turned out only two of the scripts would see print, in this issue and the second Holiday Special and both drawn by Davy, so in the end we never did see any ‘Plinge’ strips drawn by Ed. This first appearance is very much classic Davy!

Below that is another Davy creation, Doctor Mad-Starkraving. First appearing in Greedy Gorb three issues ago this was the first time he got his own little corner of the comic. One panel, one line of dialogue, one funny facial expression and we’re done! Davy’s quick wit on full display here. Just brilliant. The doctor would reappear another six times, four of those towards the end of OiNK’s run in the monthlies. Then lastly for these highlights there’s a one-off which will have an air of the familiar for two reasons.

Anyone familiar with Whizzer and Chips (or indeed Big Comic Fortnightly where I knew him from) will remember Sid’s Snake, the regular cover star whose pet snake was a ginormous but friendly snake. For OiNK, Jake’s Snake makes a little fun of the premise, even including a pattern on the snake that’s a riff on the original. The art style may be familiar to some too, those initials in the second panel standing for Simon Thorpe who is best known today for being one of the editorial team behind Viz, which he has worked on since the time of OiNK. He’d contribute to 22 issues of our piggy publication altogether, most fondly remembered for his gorgeous spoof movie posters, so look out for some of them in future reviews.

OiNK writer Graham Exton talked to me once about the inspiration behind the strip, namely Sid’s Snake and how it would often be referred to as “that bloody snake” by writers because it was so difficult to come up with something original and genuinely funny for. As such, few liked working on the strip and so it would be given to new writers as a way of proving themselves, but mainly because no one else wanted to do it!

Steve Gibson returns with another very funny selection of little drawings and captions (see also his Watch the Skies from #25) and this time he brings us a fascinating selection of Amazing But True facts from the world of nature, the first example being my particular favourite. Expecting the cheetah fact to be reflected we instead get more information than we possibly wanted about an elephant “doing a ton”. Surprising, inventive and funny, Steve will return to OiNK more and more regularly I’m very happy to say.

That’s almost your lot from this issue but the back page had one more big surprise in store for pig pals. Finally, 16 issues after they last appeared came news of the next Street-Hogs story, Day of the Triffics (which had actually been referenced way back in #11). As a child I’d missed out on their first adventure so to me originally this may not have been the exiting return it was advertised as, but the artwork and the premise presented here was certainly enough.

Now in 2022 I can’t wait, both from the perspective of a Street-Hogs fan and of someone who has seen more than one version of Day of the Triffids in the intervening years. Take that story and place it into the hands of writer Mark Rodgers and artist J.T. Dogg and this could be the best thing OiNK has produced yet. Time will tell. The wait is sadly a little longer than we’d like though. The ‘Hogs wouldn’t be seen again until #31 with a special poster celebrating their return before the cliffhanging spoof kicks off in #32. I just know it’ll be worth the wait.

Before then we’ve got an ample supply of superb content coming up, with #27‘s (the Flying Issue) review here from Monday 16th May 2022. Watch out for a memorable spoof of a certain high-flying, building-leaping superhero as he hogs the limelight on the cover and in a brilliant strip inside. Don’t miss it, subscribe to the blog (click on the link in the bottom corner as you scroll) or follow along on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to be notified when there are any additions to the blog. See you next time!