Tag Archives: David Haldane


The first special edition of OiNK arrived alongside #25 and a fortnight before the first birthday issue. It was surely a time for pig pals to celebrate. An absolute treat, the 1987 Holiday Special is a “big, fat” comic made up of 48 pages and is chock full of our favourite characters and loads of one-off content all linked to the summer holiday vibe. It all kicks off with possibly one of my very favourite comic covers of all time; a brilliantly set up photograph of a model clay Uncle Pigg lounging in his hammock, cooled off by critic Mary Lighthouse who, along with everything else, is a cardboard cut out.

It’s a piece of pure genius from Ian Jackson and so distinct is it in my memory I can recall taking it with me on holiday a few months after I got it to read it all over again, the cover drawing attention and laughs from some of my older siblings. I think one or two of them actually read it as a result! Of course, this wasn’t the last time modelling clay was used to produce an OiNK cover. In fact, it would create the most memorable one of all, one that would be the face (literally) of what remains my favourite childhood book to this day, The OiNK! Book 1988. You’ll see that towards the end of the year.

Put these two OiNK titans together and you get Herbert Bowes, a man with a dog up his nose!

The first interior highlight for me is a double whammy of two strips featuring a character we’d only see in this Holiday Special. They’re written by Graham Exton, a writer who contributed so much to OiNK, especially in the early issues and who was instrumental in the creation of some of its characters. It’s barmy, completely ridiculous and so perfectly captured by one of my favourite cartoonists, Jeremy Banx. Jeremy’s artwork lends itself wonderfully to random one-off strips and he has a hilariously surreal sense of humour. Put these two OiNK titans together and you get Herbert Bowes, a man with a dog up his nose!

You wouldn’t have seen the likes of this in any other summer special on the shelf, that’s for sure. While OiNK would never fail to surprise us, regular readers were accustomed to the random nature of the comic and I do wonder what those who picked up the specials for a holiday trip, or who received the annuals for Christmas without having read the fortnightly would’ve thought. I’d love to have seen their reactions and, if my friends were anything to go by, hear their surprised laughter.

Speaking of surprising laughter.

Back when I was writing the previous blog I took this edition to the hospital with me one day to pass the time in the waiting room before my appointment. I had a little chuckle inwardly to myself over Herbert Bowes and moved on, but then a few pages later something rather embarrassing happened which I simply had no control over. Billy Connolly once spoke about what he called “real laughter”. Not the ‘ha, ha, ha’ kind, but the loud, involuntary noise that can erupt from our mouths when something surprising really hits our funny bone. Surrounded by a lot of very serious looking people in that waiting room, I was in completely the wrong place for that to happen. Then I turned the page and saw the title of the next strip.

I erupted. It was only for a second because I caught myself and tried to stop it coming out but it was too late. In hindsight I’d have been better letting it happen, at least everyone else would’ve actually known I was laughing! Instead, what came out was a loud honk before I closed my mouth, my body shaking a little from wanting to carry on with the laugh. I have no idea what they all thought of me, I could feel them looking but my gaze never left the comic, too embarrassed to look up. I’m not one to care about what other people think of me, but I can’t help wonder. I mean, you should’ve heard that honk.

The final reveal never fails to make me laugh, no matter how often I see this

It was worth it though. I quickly scanned the rest of the special to see if there were any other surprises in store from this character but alas there were none. Graham and Jeremy’s creation would unfortunately never reappear, even though Graham tells me a third episode was planned in which Herbert had the Starship Enterprise up his nose. Despite this being a one-time appearance he’ll remain a memorable addition to OiNK.

The same can be said of the next little treasure, a half-page strip written by David Haldane and drawn by Pete Dixon, this being his sole contribution to OiNK. This is also the first time I’ve noticed Rubbish Man and Hugo the Hungry Hippo‘s cartoonist Haldane writing for anybody else. I can’t help read this while in my head ever-increasing dramatic music accompanies each successive panel, that final reveal never (never ever) failing to make me laugh, no matter how often I see this.

Only in OiNK.

While the focus for me with this edition are very much the one-offs, the special strips and features produced to accompany us on our hols, some of the regular characters have some classic stories to tell. My favourite is The Hollyday Diary ov Hadrian Vile in which he, his dog and his parents head to the beach. Written as ever by Mark Rodgers and brought to life by Ian Jackson this is arguably the funniest strip yet for the eight and five-eighths-year-old and it’s a ton of fun.

It all starts off innocently enough. For once, Hadrian isn’t making mischief as the story begins. In fact, for the most part his intentions are actually good, apart from the outrageous lie he tells when those good intentions land him in hot water. So it begins with him spending some quality time with his dad, burying him in the sand as a lot of young children love to do while his dad catches forty winks in the sun. It’s after he returns from collecting his usual array of disgusting things that it all takes a turn for the worse.

My two favourite moments here are when Hadrian returns to find nothing but his dad’s hat and the worst thought that enters his mind is being sent to bed without supper. Then directly below is that hilarious panel of a passing stranger frantically racing the tide to free the poor man from the sand. The middle panel of his mum standing with folded arms glaring down upon Hadrian would become something of a running joke in the regular comic too. As the other family members became more prominent we’d see this expression often and it was funny every single time.

Time to have a quick look at a smorgasbord of highlights this special edition offers up. Rubbish Man is on holiday and even though we have a giant fried egg monster I can’t help but laugh at the jokes at the expense of English vacationers (and where they choose to holiday). When a young Tom Thug tries to bully a baby we get the origin of his bent nose and in Sgt. Barnpot and his Screaming Maniacs the lead character thinks we’re still at war with everyone because of comics, and Lew Stringer takes a little shot at the ever-merging titles of the day.

It appears even our resident alien Burp isn’t a fan of English tourists (both Rubbish Man’s and Burp’s cartoonists are English) and on his trip around the galaxy his holiday snap produced uproarious laughter in kids everywhere (well, it did for me anyway) and we’ve a Frank Sidebottom board game which could be played with some absolutely lovely player pieces. The Thunderbirds one is my favourite. Finally, Tom’s Toe made a very welcome return in a story about pollution and climate change which had a rather unique solution to the ever-growing problem.

As well as Tom there are a few other returning characters. In reality this would’ve been because work on specials always starts a long time in advance. Producing an extra, larger edition of a comic is great but working on it can’t disrupt the regular editions, so work begins very early. When it commenced here a lot of these characters were still regulars or semi-regulars in the fortnightly. Billy’s Brain is in here, even Bony Hart makes a reappearance and one of the more memorable early characters pops back up, Jim Needle‘s Pete’s Pup.

It’s strange for me to think this was my first encounter with the monstrous shaggy dog as a child. He would also appear in the birthday issue released two weeks after this special hit shelves but after that he’d only return for a reprint in the second OiNK Book. I became reacquainted with the comic in my 30s, but right up to that point in my mind he’d been a main character. Weird.

Readers will get plenty of entertainment out of this thanks to its manic pace, dark humour and chaotic atmosphere

Now, let’s move on to what would surely be the main event for many comics fans. At the time I was unaware of who Kevin O’Neill is but today I know the man as something of a legend in the industry. Drawing the image of Tharg on the cover of the very first 2000AD he would go on to produce incredible work for OiNK’s stablemate, most memorably for me the stunning Nemesis the Warlock. In 1986 his whole style proved unsuitable for the American Comics Code Authority but thankfully DC went ahead and published his Tales of the Green Lantern anyway. Later, he would create Marshal Law and team up with Alan Moore for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. For OiNK’s Holiday Special he drew a four-page parody called The Game is Greed, written by Mark Rodgers.

Lew Stringer was friends with both Kevin and Dave Gibbons, another legendary comic artist who’d appear in the pages of OiNK. They’d meet up frequently at London comic marts and when Lew found out Kevin was a fan of OiNK he asked him if he’d like to contribute. His first strip was actually a collaboration with Lew called The Truth About Santa for The OiNK Book 1988, then later he drew this brilliant script by Mark, but deadlines for specials and annuals being what they are this was the one that saw print first. I may not have known who he was but I adored the very unique art style and I can remember lying in bed late at night (having already read the comic that morning) pouring over all of the funny details for a long time. I’d never seen anything like this.

Kevin’s sharp lines, exaggerated action and gorgeous colours really pop, making the strip stand out in even the quickest of skims through the issue. This is no small feat for an issue of OiNK. My inner 80s child had a field day reading this and spotting all of the contemporary celebrities we were so used to seeing on our television screens back then. Younger readers today who may not know some of them will still get plenty of entertainment out of this thanks to its manic pace, dark humour and chaotic atmosphere.

Mark’s script gives Kevin plenty of opportunities to embrace the chaos and bring his kinetic energy to the art with aplomb. My personal highlights here are the caricature of Billy Connolly on the first page, the greed of Mr and Mrs Baldmoron, the moment he’s stripped to the bone by the piranhas and of course that hilarious alligator (oh sorry, “scaly amphibious ant”) complete with Ted’s assistant showing it off from inside its mouth and the purse handles on its back! I’ve said before how the humour in OiNK stands up so well to this day. Even though this strip features 80s celebs it hasn’t aged one bit and feels like a perfect modern parody of the period. One of the very best OiNK strips since I started this whole read through.

We finish off with that old tradition of the family holidays, the puzzles and in particular the word searches that were meant to keep the kids quiet. Being OiNK, this is a somewhat unique variant on the theme. The story behind the cover is that Mary Lighthouse (critic) has found herself stranded on the same desert island as Uncle Pigg and she’s going somewhat barmy. Well, more so than usual. There’s no list of words to find, you just have to try to spot as many as possible and one definitely stands out. In typical fashion for this comic the solutions to the puzzles are just as funny as trying them out.

There we have it, the first extra special extra edition of OiNK. There’ll be more of them to come, one very soon in fact. The year 1987 was the only one during which we’d have a regular comic from beginning to end, fortnightly all the way through, with some nice extras, merchandise releases, special pull-outs and more, all culminating in the book at Christmas. What a time to be a pig pal! You’ve only a week to go until the review of the Birthday Issue. That’ll be here from Monday 18th April 2022. Catch you then.


This review was due on 21st February, click here to find out about the delay. More catch-ups to come this week.

After all our characters became so loved up in the Valentine’s issue it’s time for them to face adventure, danger, fantasy quests and newly discovered Egyptian tombs in back gardens in Timperley. The 22nd issue of OiNK is the Magic and Fantasy Issue and kicks off with a gorgeous Andy Roper cover that ties in (sort of) to the first episode of The Spectacles of Doom inside. Not only that though, but this is that staple of 80s and 90s UK comics, a wraparound cover poster! Have a look.

So how does it only sort of tie in with the strip? Well, that figure on the front is clearly modelled on main character Prince Endor but he’s actually the dimwitted hero of the tale, whereas above he’s portrayed as a vicious butcher, complete with apron and sausages wrapped around his neck. That’s certainly not who he is, so I’m not at all sure why he’s been drawn as the baddie here. Maybe it’s just an example of another 80s thing we all knew very well, the evil twin! Yes, that’ll do, I’ll go with that.

The strip itself is the first of a short two-part mini-series written by one of OiNK’s creators/editors Tony Husband and drawn by Andy. Taking a shot at the fantasy adventure movies of the 80s which all seemed to involve epic journeys across dangerous, impossibly-named lands with very specific ways of dying around every corner, Tony’s script is full of originality and wit. I particularly like the solution to crossing the Valley of a Million jokes.

The Spectacles of Doom proved popular and returned for a longer five-part serial later and then again in a spectacle-arly illustrated final episode in the second (and last) OiNK Book. Both of these would be in colour and were just as much a treat for the eyes as they were for the funny bone. You can see an example of the art from the annual story in the obituary for the late and very, very great Andy Roper.

Under a Weedy Willy strip a few pages later in the comic the remainder of the page is seemingly filled up with a few advertisements. There are the usual ones for stamp collecting and practical jokes which I’m sure readers of basically any comic from the mid-80s will remember, but something stuck out about the one next to them.

Oh, that tin can! I can still remember seeing that tin can for the first time. I’m sure it took all of five minutes to put together but I found it so funny as a kid that I haven’t forgotten it. It’s strange the things that left a lasting impression on us from this comic! Sometimes the simplest ideas really are the best.

There’s one line from a particular strip which has been quoted more often than any other

Over the past several years I’ve had the pleasure of chatting away with fellow pig pals across social media, sharing memories as we reminisce about our OiNK comics collections which were lost to house moves or decluttering parents over the years. Thinking about those conversations there’s one line from a particular strip which has been quoted more often than any other. That line is in the following Mr. Big Nose strip by the incredibly talented and original Jeremy Banx. I’m sure you’ll be able to work out which line it is.

Every now and again in a string of comments an OiNK fan will randomly proclaim, “And the dolphin’s name was Keith” and everyone will know exactly what they’re referring to. I do remember laughing hysterically at the caption when I first read it way back in 1986 and even now as an adult, knowing it’s coming, it elicits childish giggles in me every single time. I also love how Jeremy has drawn the dolphin! One of my very favourite strips from all of OiNK’s issues and a fan favourite with many others it would seem. A lovely little random gem.

Elsewhere in this issue Pete and his Pimple visits a witch who concocts a rather dodgy solution to his problem, then perhaps a relative of her’s in one-off strip The Magic Forest second-guesses her own recipe list, and Nigel and Skrat the Two-Headed Rat makes a surprise reappearance to con some magic fans into handing over their money so they can chow down on their favourite food stuff.

Now, back at school a few friends became obsessed with fantasy role-playing games, playing with nothing more than dice and their imagination. I always wondered how they kept track of everything and what stopped them from cheating, but a few years later the board game HeroQuest came along and I saw first-hand how it all worked, albeit with a game board and actual player pieces. (Actually, now that I’m thinking about it I remember the Space Crusade board game in the 90s and coming up with a version of that which utilised the Barcode Battler! Do you remember that thing? Whoa, sorry, that just came back to me.)

Anyway, it would appear OiNK decided to have a little stab at its own version of one of these games with The Sword of Blatterlee. Played over two pages, it all kicks off with a quick scenario containing more strange names and a map of the castle you’re going to raid, one room of which is now much more sinister than it would’ve been at the time. Below that are the instructions for playing with dice and they’re just as straight forward and as easy to follow as I remember when my friends were trying to describe their Dungeons and Dragons game in the playground. Then it’s on to page two and the conclusion of your quest, so enjoy.

Of course it all has to end with a good (bad?) old pun, doesn’t it? I feel a bit guilty setting you up for that. But just a little. I asked editor Patrick Gallagher who created this when I spotted a tiny little “AW” behind our hero character, the initials unfamiliar to me. He’s not sure who the artist was (possibly a junior artist from Cosgrove Hall) but he’s almost certain Mark Rodgers wrote it. With that pun right at the end I’d have to agree.

From spoofing the games we now move on to having a giggle at the fans themselves, all in an affectionate way of course and a strip I’m sure my friends would’ve appreciated and found just as funny. Dice Maniac was created by Lew Stringer and only appeared in two issues of OiNK, but both were winners. The name (specifically the logo) was a parody of a short-lived 2000AD spin-off comic which only ran for five issues and had already been cancelled by this time.

Lew’s take focussed more on the fans of the dice-based role-playing games and young Frodo Johnson (funny use of the fantasy and the mundane) has taken his obsession of rolling dice to battle beasts and find treasures and brought it into his real life. No decision is made without a roll and every person or thing he encounters, no matter how ordinary, is transformed by his imagination into a quest to be undertaken or an enemy to defeat. Of course, every time he decides to use the dice it ends in disaster, but he’s never phased and I love that about him. Such a shame he would only appear in one later edition.

A double dose of David Haldane now, beginning with a quick trip to Zootown. The best episodes of these mini-strips were always the ones where the animals were dressed as we would be, with jobs or personal events taken straight from the human world, but with their animal traits providing the laughs. This is the perfect example and another classic funny strip.

David’s other contribution I want to highlight is one of the best pages of the whole issue. Conan the Barbarian as played by Arnold Schwarzenegger had been a massive hit in 1982, but between then and OiNK’s creation its sequel and attempted spin-off Red Sonja both flopped at the box office. Spoof movie sequels were some of the very best one-off strips in OiNK (my favourite strip of all is one of these, check out #6 for that one) and David’s take on the genre is no exception.

Perhaps due to the original’s success and Arnie’s role still very much being in the public consciousness, or maybe inspired by the unsuccessful campy sequels, David has created the origin story for his own muscle-bound fantasy hero, Konan the Accountant. Action, adventure, thrills, spills and a twist ending. What’s not to love?

That final panel is just brilliant. All of that build up, all of that gorgeous grey-shaded extravagances of the story, all brushed aside for a plainly drawn office job and the whole narrative completely forgotten about with one hilariously written caption. Brilliant stuff.

We’re almost done for another issue of the world’s greatest comic and one lovely treat awaits. As someone who is fascinated with Ancient Egypt, last Halloween (#13) Banx’s The Curse of the Mummy really was a special one for me. Now it’s the turn of OiNK’s superstar in residence, Frank Sidebottom (aka Chris Sievey) to bring us a page of Pharaohs, pyramids and ancient tombs, all in his unique style. There’s a lot to love here, both in the fun and imagination on show and also for me personally.

Frank wearing a burial mask had me sold from the start, but also the way it’s laid out, the writing and the colouring reminds me so much of the homemade comics my best friend and I back in primary school would’ve created for each other. (He created School Busters and The Battle-Oids, mine were called The Real Smokebusters and War-Bots. I wonder what inspired us.) Frank’s pages were unlike anything you’d find in any other comic. Period. Perfect for OiNK. My particular favourite moment here is how the name King Maurice Karmen reads just like another random name until we find out his brother’s first name.


“And the dolphin’s name was Keith.”

Mr. Big Nose (Jeremy Banx)

That just about wraps up our trip into dangerous lands, ancient curses and medieval quests. OiNK comes bang up to date* with the All-Electric Issue, the review of which will be here from Monday 7th March 2022. So that gives you time to recharge, before you lead yourself back here to power through more of the same shockingly good humour.

*for the 80s


Growing up in a small town in Northern Ireland I’d never heard of the word ‘Hogmanay’ before so initially thought this was an OiNK pun on some Scottish word about the New Year. But really it’s just the best possible way to celebrate for this comic, so much so that both of the issues published to celebrate the New Year in OiNK’s run would have the same theme. The cover by legendary cartoonist John Geering sums it all up rather perfectly; this is a celebration of Scotland and its culture just as much as it is the festivities.

A new character who might like to think he’s cultured is new addition Barrington Bosh he’s incredibly Po$h, brought to the page by fellow Northern Irelander Ian Knox. Given how much I remember of this particular posh little git I was surprised to find out he only appeared in nine issues of OiNK altogether, normally with long gaps between strips. To say he was posh is actually a huge understatement, the whole point being to push this to the extreme every time. This debut story is the perfect introduction.

Bosh did absolutely nothing for himself and this was the basis for his entire life and thus every appearance. Everyday tasks were something he’d never even consider doing himself and the creative ways he and his staff would get around them were hilarious to us kids. The strip was also a biting satire of the difference between upper and lower class people in the UK and that old saying “How the other half lives”.

Back in #7 I showed you a brief glimpse at Hugo the Hungry Hippo‘s cameo appearance in cartoonist David Haldane‘s other creation, Rubbish Man. There, Hugo popped by to do what he does best, to eat. He also inadvertently saved the day for our smelly superhero and it appears he’s a bit of a fan because he’s dolled himself up in very familiar garb for a fancy dress party for the New Year.

One of my favourite additions to any issue of OiNK was also written and drawn by David. Little quarter-page entries of animals just living their normal anthropomorphic lives always had me in stitches, especially when this would be mixed with their abilities as animals. So some would appear in clothes, others would be more wild. By all means Zootown made no sense but I don’t think any part of it was ever meant to!

Before we move on to some of the multitude of Scottish strips and gags here are a couple of other highlights in this issue. As ever Burp has another strong entry and to be honest it’d be so easy for me to include his page in every single review! Here he’s been invited to a Hogmanay party and it all kicks off with this funny invite. One of Banx‘s other strips is the always hilarious Hector Vector and his Talking T-Shirt, though surely he should’ve had a coat on this time.

I mentioned Scottish culture earlier and we can’t do that without mentioning Robbie Burns, surely? OiNK thought so. The poet’s work is described as “spontaneous and direct” and it fell upon Steve Gibson to conjure up a suitable parody. He knocks it out of the park. Taking Burns’ To A Mouse as his inspiration he renames it The Beastie. Complete with typical Gibson art, unmistakable in the beastie itself, here’s Hoggy Burns.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, nothing was sacred to OiNK. This was especially true when it came to those bastions of the comics world, the unstoppable forces of The Dandy and The Beano (well, at least Beano is still unstoppable). A favourite target of Uncle Pigg’s, the two comics were held in high regard by editor and head writer Mark Rodgers who had great fun in sending them up quite regularly. For the Scottish issue there was no better strip ripe for this treatment than The Dandy’s Jocks vs Geordies.

The strip was still running in 1986 and involved two schools situated across the Scotland/England border from each other. The boys who made up the gangs from each school were deliberately clichéd, already parodies of sorts. They’d play ever more violent tricks on each other but would always end up being punished for it by their teachers. Neither side was immune either, winning or losing roughly the same amount of times as the each other.

“Ay, weel, there’s mony a mickle maks a muckle!”

Teach Yourself Glaswegian

Mark took the concept behind the original strip and decided to poke fun at its repetitive nature and the fact it had been running for so long. (The pupils had been duking it out on a weekly basis for 11 years by this stage.) This was a regular theme to OiNK’s parodies of these comics and here it’s played out particularly well in the ending, with art by Marc Riley.

It’s time to take a closer look at the country providing the laughs. What we need is an expert in the subject matter. Failing that, how about a young lad who simply thinks he’s an expert in all subjects but in reality is the master of none. Of course, bringing in Hadrian Vile has at least one benefit, it means Ian Jackson will be providing the art.

With Hadrian’s information it’s clear he’s read the names of the places throughout the country and taken them to mean something completely different. Every single time. Take your time to appreciate all the little jokes and references as you take your tour around the highlands and lowlands. There are too many here for me to pick out a definitive favourite but the town of Dornoch and the hamlet of Inchadamph get particularly funny entries for me.

I have a soft spot for Scotland most definitely but at age nine I wasn’t aware of most of these real places, however it was no less funny. You’ll have spotted some of the best gags come from Hadrian’s grasp of Scottish words. Just a little later in the comic Mark took this a step further with a full page dedicated to helping the readers Teach Yourself Glaswegian, drawn by Mike Green.

Expect plenty of dialogue with each sentence accompanied by an asterisk pointing towards the apparent English translation. It doesn’t take long before it gets completely ridiculous of course and I personally believe certain parts of England are also being subjected to a little gentle teasing here, as some of the translations sound overtly stuck up. I remember showing this to my sister’s Scottish husband once and he roared laughing, particularly at the fifth panel, which is my particular favourite too. Enjoy.

We’re down to the final few pages and I’ve broken away from the subject matter to show you the first entry in a semi-regular series of comedy adventure strips. We all know which television series this was based upon which starred a famous dog. But take that dog, replace him with a pig, make his owner completely useless, exaggerate the already far-fetched skills of the animal hero and then have one more funny twist in the final panels. Written by Tony Husband and drawn by Chas Sinclair here’s Lashy the Wonder Pig.

A genius piece of scripting and loveable art make this a highlight of the whole issue. He proved popular too, returning several times throughout OiNK’s run, although with a selection of different names. Known as Laffy, Lashie, Lattie, Laxxie, Lammie, Lazzie, Laggie, Lappie and Larry the series would keep certain staples running such as his owner always falling down a pit (even when he was nowhere near one), the ever more ludicrous feats of daring by our pig and the constant reminder that his intelligence wasn’t on par with his bravery! Hilarious every single time.

I just want to show you the back page before we finish off. The team decided to run their own awards, mimicking the likes of the Oscars and BAFTAS, the hype for which always begins as soon as each new year does. But this wouldn’t be just any old awards. We weren’t being asked to vote for our favourite characters or cartoonists from within OiNK’s pages, oh no. Biggest Wally, Worst Pop Group, Most Irritating DJ and even Worst Comic. This would be fun to take part in.

It was even more fun when the prizes were given out. Tony and Patrick would call upon the crew at Spitting Image for a photo shoot and one of the winners would even be on hand to accept their award in person! That’s still some way off in #30 in 2022.

The first issue of 1987, the only calendar year that OiNK would be on sale regularly from beginning to end, would have a Health and Fitness theme. It is the season of good intentions after all. So don’t just walk back here, run to the donut shop first and then settle down to more hog highlights on Monday 10th January 2022! See you then.