Tag Archives: David Haldane

OiNK! #3: ACE SPACE ISSUE

I have a little personal story about this issue I’d like to share. I started collecting OiNK at issue 14, but some time after this I was at my cousin’s house when he gave me a couple of his back issues. One of these was the one I’m reviewing now. I remember coming back downstairs from his bedroom and sitting next to my late nanny, who looked at the cover. I didn’t know how she would react and was delightfully surprised when she started giggling like a little schoolgirl and gave me a little wink.

It’s just one very happy memory I associate with this comic and I’ll share more as we go along. My nanny’s giggle was completely justified with Tony Husband‘s cover and its bare piggy bottoms, which actually wraps around to the back page and its explanation for the image. I always loved a good wraparound cover on a comic. Marvel UK were very good at them and while this one isn’t advertised as such (the poster mentioned on the cover refers to a Star Wars spoof inside) it would make for a funny addition to the wall.

This is the first of the themed editions, which over the course of the majority of the fortnightly issues would include everything from traditional Hallowe’en and Christmas themes to music, health, families, war, revenge, love… the list goes on. It added another original element to OiNK itself and made each individual issue a unique experience. In the early issues editor Uncle Pigg and critic Mary Lighthouse would often introduce the theme, mostly written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by Ian Jackson.

I wonder if Colin Baker ever saw himself drawn in Ian’s style?  This wouldn’t be the last time The Sixth Doctor would influence Uncle Pigg but that’s a story for a future issue so you’ll just have to be patient. Mary’s TARDIS pops up on the Grunts page as she desperately tries to phone the operator and then she reappears in her own strip near the end of the comic. But she wasn’t the only character to materialise throughout.

Next up is undoubtedly the star strip of the issue. Boldly going where no photo story had gone before, the OiNK team were really pushing the boundaries of what they could achieve with the format, the characters literally bursting out of the panels and running amok throughout the issue. My original exposure to Star Truck was with the sequel tale in the first OiNK Book, which was even more chaotic! Here, in only the third issue, is the imagination of the OiNK team on full display.

Our cast is made up of Mark Rodgers as Captain Slog, Patrick Gallagher as Sock, Marc Riley as Jock and Tony Husband under the chicken mask as the alien, Jerm. Can you imagine the fun these guys had creating this? Imagine this being part of your job! Jerm would make his escape and pop up in various other strips, a few examples of which I’ve included below.

First though, prolific IPC Magazines comics writer Graham Exton was also part of the creative team behind OiNK and contributed many stories and countless amounts of puns to the comic. The first full strip of his I’m showing here is the first appearance of regular nutball, Roger Rental, He’s Completely Mental, as drawn by local Northern Ireland artist Ian Knox.

Roger was always a favourite of mine. Most of the time he’d appear in quarter-page strips like this one, each with an innocuous beginning, only for Roger to take the meaning of something completely the wrong way. Roger would appear in most of the fortnightly issues before disappearing when the comic turned weekly. But that’s still a lot of short, sharp gags and he would never disappoint.

Turning the page and discovering an OiNK version of your favourite cartoon or toy was always a thrill

There are so many highlights within the pages of this issue it’s been difficult to select just a few for review purposes. They include Billy’s Brain, a story about a young boy who inherits his genius Uncle Vincent’s sentient brain and together they outwit the thieves wishing to use his knowledge for their own nefarious needs. Burp the Smelly Alien‘s page makes a bold impact with its use of one colour (and check out that final panel gag), the Star Truck crew pop up in Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins, Ian Jackson‘s depiction of penguins is a highlight of The Golden Trough Awards and Maggie Pie, Collector of Weird Things goes on a wig collecting spree.

The comic never shied away from spoofing all the things its readers loved. Ghostbusters, He-Man, James Bond and more would all end up getting the Oink! treatment. Turning the page to an OiNK version of your favourite cartoon or toy was always a thrill, a bit like seeing your favourite celebrities on Spitting Image. One franchise they were quick to latch on to was Hasbro’s Transformers.

Central to this particular take was the simple idea these robots could disguise themselves as anything, and I do mean anything. Everyone remembers the toys transforming into cars and airplanes but there were also guns, stereo systems, cassettes and all manner of original ideas. OiNK took this concept and ran with it.

The Transformoids is gloriously illustrated by Ralph Shephard whose style I distinctly remember, mainly because he’d give the same treatment to Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends which I was a fan of at the time. So it’s surprising to discover he only contributed to nine issues in total. But such was the impact of his work it was still a highlight of the entire run.

The Transformers would be the subject of a Madvertisement much later but this is my favourite take on the Robots in Disguise. The ludicrously giant robots appearing out of the flimsiest of objects reminds me of being puzzled, even as a kid, as to how Decepticon leader Megatron could transform from giant robot into a gun held by his comrades in the cartoon. It never made sense to me, but it ended up giving us this delightful, genuinely hilarious spoof so I’ll forgive it.

Time to take a trip to a town that sounds just lovely but in reality is one you may wish to avoid. First though, just above it on the page is a quick pun from Tony Husband in the ongoing Star Truck chase sequence.

Zootown sounds innocent enough and on the surface this looks like a strip you could find in any other comic; a town where the residents go about their daily lives, who just so happen to be animals. But this is OiNK, so of course there’s going to be a twist in the tale. Here, the animals keep their various instincts, insights and, best of all their appetites.

The creatures were never given names as far as I remember, so every issue we were seeing different random inhabitants, but each species would act in specific ways with each other. The carnivores would often get the upper paw, terrifying the little docile animals, but thankfully I don’t think they were ever on the buffet menu. Of course, I could be wrong but there always seemed to be some kind of strange friendship there.


“We knew you’d come this way, so we took a shortcut through the staples!”

Captain Slog, Star Truck

This first episode I’m showing may not have that particular aspect of the ongoing series but it’s still the perfect example of the daft humour we’d enjoy every time. Zootown felt like such a richly populated place even though we saw so little of it each issue, such was the talent of its creator David Haldane.

Before we finish off with the final part of our space saga we’re joined by Albert Einswine and his fascinating Science Facts for Simpletons.

Any excuse for some more Ian Jackson artwork, right? Well, it’s not just because of the art obviously. It’s a genuinely funny read and sums up how unpredictable the humour in OiNK could be, in particular in these little one-off additions to every issue. Ludicrous stuff.

Speaking of which, we’ve made it to the last page so it’s time to rein in Jerm once and for all as we conclude the first outing for the crew of the Enterpies with Star Truck: The Final Chapter. What I love the most here is the fact they’re all so self-aware of being inside the pages of a comic. From the reference to it being on page 31, to the shortcut through the staples taken by the Captain and his men, the daftness doesn’t let up for one panel. Check out the cardboard tube/tennis racquet gun, elaborated upon with some quick hand drawn lines.

A brilliant, genuinely very funny strip the likes of which you just wouldn’t have seen anywhere else. As the comic continues the photo stories become more elaborate without ever losing their cheap and cheerful feel, never forgetting they’re taking the hand out of those in other comics and magazines which were trying (often failing) to look serious and professional.

Star Truck would return in The Oink! Book 1988 and that’s how I first came to know them. Somehow, the sequel is even funnier, again taking place across several other pages but in the much bigger book format there’s more scope for what they can do with the idea. It’s a definite highlight of that book so you can look forward to it appearing here during Christmas 2022.

That’s us all done for another fortnight, at least as far as OiNK reviews go anyway. There’s always more going on here on the OiNK Blog so make sure you keep up to date on the latest additions by subscribing or by keeping an eye on the social media feeds. OiNK #4, the World Cup ’86 issue will be here Monday 14th June. You can also see its promo from this issue on the blog too.

OiNK! #1: 35 YEARS LATER!

Off we go! Happy 35th anniversary to my very favourite comic of all time and what I truly believe is still the funniest to ever grace shop shelves. The preview issue released the week before had prepared some for what was to follow, but the actual premiere issue made quite the impact all by itself with a free record on the cover and a matching cover image to promote it. This could not have failed to catch the eye.

We’ll take a closer look at the free gift in a bit but first let’s start with editor Uncle Pigg taking no nonsense from critic Mary Lighthouse on page two. Written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by Ian Jackson, these strips were a regular fixture for many of the early issues and starting in #3 would introduce the fortnightly subject of each issue. These would include your traditional Christmas and Hallowe’en editions, but could also be anything from music, computer games or pets, to space, health or war.

There’s no subject this time obviously but there is certainly an edge to the first few pages. Our editor introduces strips such as Ed Banger, the boy with the invincible headbutt and Mike and Spike, the naughty boy with a mohican and his equally naughty pet hedgehog. Both were drawn by Patrick Gallagher, who also put the cover together. Very modern, very 80s characters, both feel like they were intended to be regular fixtures, but Ed would only return once and after appearing in the preview issue this was Mike and Spike’s last.

But that was one of the things we loved about OiNK, the forever changing line up of regular, occasional and one-off characters kept things fresh and exciting rather than formulaic and predictable. In fact, it’s only upon looking back on the series I realise some of my favourite regular characters weren’t regular at all. But one thing we could always count on were spoof advertisements.

The half-page Uncle Pigg’s For Sale Column mimicked the kind of thing we’d see in local newspapers, except here they’re all being sold by one person, or rather pig. A precursor to the infamous GBH catalogue company in later issues, here everything is poor quality for extortionate prices. I particularly like the couple of running jokes, the ‘Barrel of Monkeys’ and ‘Live Shark’ gags rolling over into each subsequent, even funnier advert.

It might seem strange to have the above as one of our first highlights of the premiere issue rather than a strip, but these were ubiquitous with OiNK. However, only a few page turns later would be a strip set to astound the eyes of the young readers used to black and white or one-colour pages in their comics. The Street-Hogs were all set to make their grand entrance.

Written by one of the comic’s three creator-editors Mark Rodgers, who wrote so much of OiNK, it’s a spoof of classic Saturday morning television serials and their constant, increasingly ridiculous cliffhangers and even more ludicrous heroic escapes. However, inspiration could be traced back to everything from the 60s Batman to Starsky & Hutch.

It was all brought to life by the incredible talent of illustrator J.T. Dogg who, while comic artists usually draw their pages at a larger scale which is then shrunk down during publication, drew his pages at the same size as the finished product. Knowing this fact makes his beautiful colour work even more incredible in my eyes.

Is it any wonder they [The Street-Hogs] are so fondly remembered to this day by so many pig pals.

Dirty Harry, Emma Pig, Hi-Fat and their informant Hoggy Bear would fight against the butcher mafioso and find themselves in one escape-proof scenario after another for the first 11 issues, returning later for further serials. As well as being hilarious, Mark’s scripts also brought a real adventure vibe to things, albeit in suitable OiNK fashion. Is it any wonder they’re so fondly remembered to this day by so many pig pals.

The premiere issue saw some returning characters from the preview such as Burp, Weedy Willy and chat show host Terry Wogham, as well as the second OiNK Superstar Poster. This time it was Bacon Stevens (I’m sure Shaky would’ve approved) and friend of the comic BBC Radio DJ John Peel also got the OiNK treatment. New addition Hadrian Vile would prove to be an instant hit and appear in almost every issue too.

One thing I particularly loved were the takes on children’s story pages. We’d also get lots of cheeky digs at specific cartoons and toys but when OiNK took classic children’s book staples and created their own original tales they were simply magical, and no pun is intended here.

Daz‘s The Wonderful Adventure of Billy Batt and his Magic Hat takes the idea of rhyming children’s stories, told in picture panels and captions and illustrates it in what could be mistaken as a somewhat traditional fashion. That is, until you actually read it.

Daz would contribute quite a few of these to the early issues of OiNK, each one starting off innocently enough, building anticipation in the reader. As I read them, I’m just waiting for that moment in each story when it starts to take a turn for the surreal, the comedic or the horrific. Then of course, they’re all capped off with a killer last line.

So, it’s time we talked about that free gift.


“Poo-poo, tinkle-tinkle, parp-parp, OiNK!”

Actual lyrics to The OiNK Song

Over a year later the team would bring us a record called The OiNK 45 which readers could buy through mail order. This is what I did back in 1987. It contained three songs, two of which had originally been on this special floppy flexidisc. Specially tuned to be enjoyed by young ears but excruciating for adults ones, The Oink Song and The Oink Rap were irritatingly catchy and I loved annoying my family with them at a volume they simply shouldn’t have been played at.

Along with silly dance moves (and alternative uses for the disc for those without record players) on a special double page spread were the lyrics. Whenever OiNK is brought up on some random social media chat it’s never too long before someone quotes the chorus of the song on the right!

Both were recorded by former member of The Fall, creator of Harry the Head and BBC Radio 6 Music DJ Marc Riley, The Oink Song’s effect of multiple squeaky pigs being achieved by overdubs. Creator-editor Tony Husband produced some of the electric percussion for the rap song and, according to Tony recently, “that influenced Public Enemy and Run DMC and all those people Dr. Dre talks about as a major influence.”

To hear some of The Oink Rap just check out the OiNK Blog YouTube Channel where it’s used for the opening and ending of each episode. Just remember, I did warn you in advance.

I’m very happy to see Tom Paterson return for this premiere issue after his Revenge Squad in the preview. Drawing another Pigg Tale written by Mark Rodgers, this strip makes the previous one look like a warm up. This is Tom without any of the constraints he had to work under elsewhere. It epitomises silliness and is chock full of his trademark sight gags and background jokes. Take your time in reading this one.

I love all of the little incidental details such as the explanation of where Jonesy’s underwear came from, the sound effects and descriptive words used throughout, even the obligatory bangers and mash. I even like his depiction of Uncle Pigg, even though by this time it was agreed he wouldn’t be a typical smelly pig. If Tom had been able to become a regular contributor his collection of strips by the end would’ve been second-to-none, but at least we can enjoy such brilliance as Testing Time.

One more highlight for this issue and it’s a rare colour outing for OiNK’s very own superhero.

David Haldane contributed quite a few strips to the comic, including Hugo the Hungry Hippo and the dark humour of the Torture Twins. Rubbish Man was his main character, where young hot dog salesman Jimmy Bung would save the world against a crazy array of villains by leaping into the nearest dustbin and becoming the smelly superhero, with everything from cold custard to mouldy mashed potato at his fingertips. Quite literally.

Haldane’s style has changed somewhat from the preview; his outlines are chunkier, the panels are fuller and overall it’s a much bolder look. It’s all very random, like organised chaos, which suits the overall comic perfectly. I love it. From the gorgeous colour work to the handily bleeped out curse words, it’s the final strip of the comic and the perfect way to end things for now.

As first impressions go this has been a great success and a joy to read from beginning to end. The sheer variety in the art styles alone was enough to make it stand out, but put those styles into genuinely hilarious strips, make them all different lengths, squeezing in as much as you possibly can to make use of every available space and print it all on extra large, glossy paper and what do you have? A comic like nothing else on the market. In other words, you have OiNK!

Issue two’s review will be here in a fortnight on Monday 17th May and you can check out its promo too.

OiNK! PREViEW iSSUE: CREATiNG PiG PALS

It’s been 35 years to the day of writing this since readers of IPC‘s Whizzer and Chips, Eagle and Tiger and Buster received their usual weekly reads inside a special plastic bag with a piggy pink pig emblazoned on the front. Inside, tucked in behind their newsprint comic was a big, bold, brash and glossy new comic called OiNK!

This was the preview issue of OiNK and, unlike preview issues in the years to come this was a full-sized 32-page comic. It must’ve been quite the revelation to hold these large, bright pages in their hands, especially with that Ian Jackson cover. This was the first time young readers would have been introduced to his unique style; the jagged lines of Uncle Pigg and the gag of a medieval torture rack setting the stage for something truly original.

One of the three co-creators/editors, Patrick Gallagher created the bright pink logo which immediately stood out, introducing this new fortnightly comic, the first issue of which would actually be released just seven days later. The impact of that first page was carried on to page two with Ian showing us the inner workings of our editor’s office, complete with staff and even an embattled accountant who can’t quite fathom how they’re going to pull off such a high quality comic.

Next to this is our very first fully fledged OiNK strip, Cowpat County from fellow Northern Ireland local Davy Francis, written by famed comics writer and another OiNK co-creator/editor Mark Rodgers. This first appearance sees 80s environmental campaigner and television presenter David Bellamy pop up, only to come a cropper in Farmer Giles‘ world. If all this could happen to him when placed into the real, unfettered countryside, what about those used only to city life?

We’d get plenty of chances to find out during OiNK’s run, plus opportunities to see Giles (whose name we wouldn’t know until #14) in their metropolitan world alongside regular guides to what real country living is. All very accurate, of course.

The preview issue throws everything at the reader

The preview was mainly made up of strips from a dummy issue previously put together to sell the concept to IPC. As such, some of our favourite characters may look a little different here because they’re simply earlier versions of themselves, which we’d see evolve and change slightly in the regular comic. Below you’ll see the very first Burp, the Smelly Alien From Outer Space from Jeremy Bank for example, his first strip for a children’s comic.

What a great introduction. Burp would be present in nearly every issue of OiNK and we’d see a constant series of attempts to ingratiate himself to the human race, all failing in spectacular fashion. Later issues we’d see vacations in space, a very surreal and rather dark humour develop and even become acquainted with the lives of his internal organs. It would all cumulate in an epic story that originally came at just the right point in my life to teach me about puberty! No, really. You’ll have to wait until Christmas 2023 for that story review though.

Even simple things like Ian’s and Jeremy’s unruled, freehand panels would’ve set the comic apart. Strips are of varying lengths, some even tucked in beneath (or down the side of) others and in a huge variety of styles. The fresh appeal is very apparent, especially after reading the issues of the established comics it was packaged with. Here’s a quick glance at a selection of what the young readers were suddenly being bombarded with, starting with Patrick and Mark’s partner in laughs Tony Husband‘s iconic hero.

OiNK definitely couldn’t be accused of having any kind of ‘house style’, unlike other comics which expected cartoonists to draw within certain parameters. It’s also chock full of content and the format of cramming as much into each page as possible results in a satisfyingly meaty read by the end. An animal-free meaty ready, obviously.

Showing how the aim was to rip up the rule book, throw out tradition and create a comic that was genuinely very funny, the preview issue throws everything at the reader and a surprisingly high amount sticks. One such idea was the pig-ifying of popular culture. Nothing was safe. From celebrities, television shows and musical artists, to movies, cartoons and literature, if a pig-themed pun could be made of a name you could bet OiNK would take advantage.

This Hambo poster from J.T. Dogg (real name Malcolm Douglas) wasn’t even the first such piggy pun. By the time readers got to this stunning centre-page spread they’d have already been treated to the delights of WillyHAM ShakesPIG and Terry WogHAM, along with mentions of Ian BotHAM, Lester PIGGott and PIG Country. But let’s take a moment to appreciate that poster.

J.T. Dogg’s work is simply stunning. As well as this series of OiNK Superstar Posters he’d contribute the artwork for The Street-Hogs and Ham Dare: Pig of the Future amongst others. What’s even more incredible is how he worked. At the time cartoonists would draw their strips at twice the size of the published comic, which would then be reduced at the printing stage. But not Malcolm. He’d complete all of his work at 1:1 scale! Sadly no longer with us, you can check out some more of his amazing work in his obituary on the site.

Now it’s time for a commercial break.

The first of many madvertisements to come, they went big to begin with, didn’t they? I mean, sausages made of minced up butchers isn’t exactly subtle. This is the perfect example of how they could push the boundaries of good taste and we kids loved it. It was just good, cheeky fun. On the top half of the page you can see Tony’s son, Paul Husband who would go on to appear in the occasional photo story from time to time. Nowadays Paul is an amazing professional photographer whose work you can check out on his website and Instagram.


“Rock’n’roll madness!”

Tony Husband describes working on OiNK!

On more than one occasion working on OiNK has been likened to being in a punk band, especially by Tony. He describes those OiNK Manchester offices as “rock’n’roll madness”. Located in the same office building as the Happy Monday’s manager, next door to Haçienda nightclub DJ Dave Haslam and, while the city was at the height of its MADchester musical and cultural scene, the comic team even included former The Fall band member (and future BBC Radio DJ) Marc Riley.

The rock’n’roll madness led to some hilarious scenarios, such as when Tony and Patrick were invited to London to appear on a breakfast TV show. They were given the impression they were appearing to discuss their new comic appealing to a new audience of young readers. However, the true intent was soon clear when the first question referred specifically to the following madvert.

Asked if they felt joking about smashing up friends’ bicycles was the “right message to send”, the presenters spectacularly missed the point of OiNK. But according to Tony it was worth it in the end because his and Patrick’s expenses were all paid for, including travel and a night in a 5-star hotel. Then on the return train Tony brought out a few of the small bottles of booze he’d sneaked out from his hotel room, thinking they’d have a tipple on the way home, only for Patrick to empty out a plastic bag full of every single bottle from his room.  By the time they hit Manchester they could hardly walk off the train.

In among the wealth of talent who had never contributed to children’s comics before were some more familiar names. However, they were now given free rein to produce strips they simply couldn’t elsewhere and let’s face it, if you could’ve given such freedom to anyone, it would’ve been Tom Paterson.

Pigg Tales would be the general name used on and off for some of the bigger one-off stories, written and drawn by a variety of people. The Revenge Squad showed what Tom could bring to OiNK but unfortunately he’d only show up in five editions of the comic throughout the course of its whole run. According to Graham Exton they really wanted him onboard but he was just too busy to be able to contribute more. Such a shame, because he’d have been perfect as a regular.

Finally, right at the back of the comic a certain character is introduced for the very first time. He’d go on to appear in all but two issues and then carry on for many more years in Buster comic after OiNK folded. A school bully may sound like a strange creation for a strip, even for such a wacky new comic, but by the end of his first story it’s clear he may be the star, but he’s certainly never going to be the hero.

Lew Stringer‘s Tom Thug remains one of my very favourite comic creations of all time and I’m really looking forward to reliving his misadventures all over again. It’d take a while before he’d be able to tie those laces, he’d cross over with other characters like Lew’s own Pete and his Pimple and Mike Green‘s Weedy Willy, even leave school and sign on for unemployment which was definitely a first in comics history.

The original designs for Tom and the first draft of this very strip can also be seen in a special blog post.

So there you have it, a little look into how potential new pig pals (as regular readers were referred to by Uncle Pigg) were first introduced to the world of pigs, plops, puns and parody. Then, as if the promise of more of this insanity wasn’t enough there was news of a free flexidisc record with #1, surely a free gift as unique as the comic it would be attached to.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the preview issue. There are also other posts on the site detailing the countdown to the release of the comic, and a look at the promo for #1 to keep you busy until Monday 3rd May and the review of the first issue of OiNK. So off you trot on your trotters and I’ll see you then.