Tag Archives: David Leach

OiNK! #28: WHEN PiGS FLY

There are a lot of exciting and funny things on this cover, beginning with the main event of Superham as drawn by Ron Tiner. Look closer at the accompanying details for more laughs, such as the “Trouser Press” approval spoof of the Comics Code Authority, and OiNK‘s own version of DC Comics‘ logo from the time tucked away in the top corner. We’ll get to the Ham of Steel in a little bit, but there’s an announcement on the cover for the latest free gifts!

The last gifts given away by OiNK were the three parts of the gigantic poster calendar from the end of the previous year (check out #17 for the full product) and again we have three issues in a row with something extra tucked away inside. Unlike the cut-out postcards in #7 these are actual cards which can be easily removed and sent by readers. Each pair would be drawn by a different artist, beginning with Jeremy Banx.

I can remember taking a couple of these on holiday with me back in 1987 and definitely the Burp one. I can’t remember using them though, whether through forgetfulness or changing my mind and not wanting to send them away. Are postcards even a thing anymore when people can just check in on social media or send photos instantaneously back home? I’m not sure, but in the 80s these were a great idea and each one is a brilliant little gift in its own right. The next two issues will contain postcards by Lew Stringer and Ian Jackson, so make sure you check them out.

Back in the Valentine’s issue the Peanuts gang, namely Charlie Brown, Snoopy etc got renamed the Peabrains in a one-off (I assumed) strip complete with some spoof merchandise advertising. As I said at the time I was never a fan of the cartoon or newspaper strips but I still enjoyed OiNK’s version which was created by Patrick Gallagher. Surprisingly, the strip returns but this time Snooby is drawn by David Leach who was best known for Psycho Gran. Here, the little dog is daydreaming, something he was known for in the cartoon and which we’d see brought to life by his imagination. Sitting on top of his kennel he imagines being a heroic fighter pilot. But this is a strip by David Leach so expect the unexpected.

Well I did say that’s who David was known for, didn’t I? I’d forgotten all about this ending, although as soon as Snooby metaphorically took to the air it all came back to me. I’d like to think as a child I didn’t spot Psycho in the final panel until I’d read the full strip because the reveal of the jet itself is so brilliantly drawn and her grin at the end just hilarious.

Alongside the captions the images tell a different, highly exaggerated version of the same events

In 1987 Superman IV: The Quest For Peace had just been released in cinemas and, while not the most successful of the franchise, its marketing was surely everywhere, making him a big, timely target for OiNK. Mark Rodgers took on writing duties for Superham and cover artist Ron Tiner returns for the three-page strip itself. It all kicks off on familiar territory, the narrative captions keeping surprisingly true to the tale of the lone refugee from an alien world movie goers were all too familiar with.

However, alongside those captions the images tell a different, highly exaggerated version of the same events and this is where the laughs come from. The story continues with highlights of Superham’s fight against evil, including a brilliant panel depicting him flying faster than the speed of light. So fast in fact he breaks through time itself and comes upon a spectacular sight. I won’t ruin the surprise because it’s on that third page we get the big punchline.

This is classic Mark, with a very funny twist in the tale and the ever-perpetuating series of events brought on by the “stupid rhinoceros” of a superhero. I’ll admit the recent movies did little to endear me to the inspiration behind this spoof, but with a much more entertaining version of the character taking pride of place on BBC One’s Saturday teatime schedule again this feels like another timely read for this funny take on the original superhero. Great stuff.

I say well done to the OiNK team for printing this page and standing up to the bullies!

The next page is as unique as you’ll find in any of our childhood comics. Back in #7 a strip called Janice and John and the Parachute Jump appeared which has (incorrectly) gone down in history as making a bigger furore than it did; it’s even been written that it was the reason behind OiNK’s cancellation 61 issues later, which is just ridiculous. Yes, an official complaint was made with The Press Council who looked into the story in question. The complaint was dismissed in the end but OiNK wasn’t about to just let this moment pass, as you can see with the following page.

I can’t remember reading this as a child so I haven’t a clue what I made of it, but nowadays it reminds me of working in BBC Complaints and the amount of people who’d want an entire series cancelled because they personally didn’t want their licence fee paying for it (never mind the millions who watched it and were also paying their licence fee), or the myriad of Daily Mail comments Dave Gorman would use to great effect in his Modern Life is Goodish TV show. Even today in the UK and America we have books and comics being banned all in the name of “freedom” without a hint of irony.

So I say well done to the OiNK team for printing this page and standing up to the bullies! It’s refreshing and damned funny in its own right, especially how it can’t help but stir things up a little more with that final gag at the bottom referencing a non-existent next chapter. Janice and John would return in a story about a thermonuclear reactor though, as promised at the end of #7’s story. That wouldn’t be seen until #41, possibly held back until the outcome of the complaint was known and the whole thing was in the past.

I don’t think any other comic would’ve been this brave and I commend the editors for deciding to do this. Recently, Helen Jones very kindly sent me a wonderful package containing the original complaints and responses including those from The Press Council and IPC’s John Sanders. They’re a fascinating read and will be on the blog soon. A famous moment from OiNK’s history but one which very few seem to accurately write about. I hope I can help set the record straight.

Moving on for now and another superstar of the comics world joins the sty as Mike Higgs draws Infamous Failures of Aviation, written by Lew Stringer.

It’s a cracker script by Lew (or ‘Biggles’) and Mike’s work really stands out, his style easily identifiable to anyone familiar with his strips elsewhere. Mike was best known for creating The Cloak in 1967 for Pow!, as well as bringing his unique artwork to Space School and Thundercap for Whizzer and Chips and Buster respectively. He (and The Cloak in particular) was a big influence on Lew when he was creating his Combat Colin character for Action Force comic.

Lew worked as Mike’s assistant in the early 80s for a range of children’s books and they became good friends. When OiNK came along Lew suggested bringing Mike back to comics for the first time in years to co-editor Mark Rodgers. This was his first appearance in the comic and he’d be back another eight times. Even though he’s better known for appearing in more traditional titles, there was never anything traditional about his work. As such, I think he’s a perfect addition to Uncle Pigg’s team and I look forward to seeing what else he brings to future issues.

Writer Graham Exton (whose name I haven’t seen mentioned in the fortnightly in several months) and artist Davey Jones produced another funny little OiNK mini-strip but this one is a little special because Davey has previously shared an original rough sketch by Mark Rodgers as well as his own thoughts on his finished product. I saved this away for future reference and it’s nearly time to share this little insight into the creation of OiNK. I say nearly because it deserves its own post so watch out for that in the days after this review.

Mike Higgs’ son also makes an appearance this issue, sort of, in a scrawled shout out on an office desk in Lew’s Pete and his Pimple as the young Mr Throb dreams of being the high-flying Captain Pimply superhero. Smelly alien Burp isn’t being anywhere near as daring at the beginning of his strip though. More classic highlights to long-running OiNK favourites.

Our heroic Wonder Pig is back again with another name change, another ill-fated attempt at heroism and it all kicks off when his owner falls down another pit. Lashie the Wonder Pig is written by Tony Husband and drawn by Chas Sinclair and it’s this repetition of events which makes it so very funny indeed. In fact, this issue’s strip will be all the funnier if you’ve read the one I included in the highlights to #18. So go read that first and then come back here to read this next strip. Go on then!

This is a great way of parodying the TV series and movies of a certain Border Collie and their own repetitive nature. But just like Lassie‘s fans didn’t mind, our own Lashy (well, that’s the spelling for now anyway) also had fans who craved the same things happening again and again. The more strips that appeared the funnier these got. They wouldn’t appear too regularly, if they had maybe we would’ve grown tired of the formula but as such their semi-regular surprise appearances were always a hit.

Our flying special comes to an end with news the next issue is a ‘Mirthful Musical Issue’. Regular readers may be thinking this is a repeat of the subject from #16 but that issue was all about the world of pop music, our next one takes in the whole of the musical world and nothing is off limits. Think of the difference between #6‘s ‘Animal Crackers Issue’ and #27‘s ‘Big, Soft Pets Issue’. There’s even going to be a very special appearance from a famous post-punk band in a photo story, so it’s definitely not to be missed.

So save your bookmarks, follow on socials or sub to the blog so you’ll get notified on Monday 30th May 2022 of the latest OiNK review!

OiNK! #26: AGED BACON

Usually with comics the special anniversary issues would mark the beginning of the next year of publication, on sale over the date of the first issue. OiNK decided to mark the end of the first year instead with their celebratory issue actually due to come off the shelves two days before the date of #1‘s release the previous year. Instead, #26 celebrated the launch of the comic’s preview issue which was bundled inside other IPC comics on 26th April one year previous. That free issue gets several mentions inside.

Tony Husband‘s Uncle Pigg and that shiny golden logo welcome us to the celebrations and inside it’s party time! If memory serves the second anniversary would be marked by nothing more than a passing mention on the letters page and unfortunately there wouldn’t be a third, so I intended to enjoy this one. Thankfully it wasn’t to let me down, starting off with this brilliant Pete and his Pimple from Lew Stringer in which he’s been invited to sign copies at a newsagent for the anniversary.

I did laugh when Pete felt he needed to elaborate on his comment about how it was a good thing he didn’t put the cream anywhere else. Lew’s background characters are as eclectic a bunch as you would expect and is that Wilfrid visiting from Bash Street in the doorway? Well no, that’s just a coincidence, but in asking Lew he pointed out what I did miss. Standing in the doorway just behind him is none other than Lew’s spoof superhero character Brickman who, after the end of his strip in 1986, made disguised cameos (without mask, coat on top of his costume) in other strips in the Lewniverse. I can’t be the only fan who’ll find this surprising and funny in equal measure. At the time one young reader did spot him and sent Lew all of the panels she’d spotted him in!

At this point in the review I must issue a Reader Advisory before you scroll on down to the next strip. Those with a nervous disposition or a tricky tummy right now may want to skip past this next section. Don’t blame me, blame David Leach. What’s a party without a cake, and what could be better than a surprise cake? Well it all depends on who baked it I guess.

While David’s modern day Psycho Gran comics are much more adult than her antics in the pages of OiNK it’s very much the same sense of humour. In fact, this strip wouldn’t look out of place in one of her new comics, even if David might push the cringe factor more in that final panel. She had made her debut in #15 before disappearing again until half a dozen issues later (David was told very last minute they’d like her to be a regular character) and by this stage she was appearing in almost every issue, quickly becoming one of my favourites.


“I’ve picked some prime porky pranks from my readers to help celebrate a year of OiNKin’ good fun!”

Uncle Pigg

OiNK was a lot more interactive with its audience than most comics of the day. Marvel UK had those fantastic, fondly remembered letters pages and IPC Magazines would feature something similar in their humour comics, with reader jokes and sketches thrown in. Closest to OiNK would’ve been editor Barrie Tomlinson‘s comics which were always known for their highly original ways in which readers could take part (see Wildcat, Ring Raiders and Super Naturals for example).

OiNK’s Grunts page could contain rude jokes for Nasty Laffs and Specs, celebrities given a piggy makeover, photographs of readers with their homemade OiNK cakes and models, pig-related newspaper clippings (and those relating to the comic itself), messy bedroom competition entries in the early days, readers updating us on the latest sightings of terrifying butchers from Jeremy Banx‘s Butcher Watch series, drawings and even a personal problems column in which Uncle Pigg‘s answers were of no help whatsoever. For the birthday issue we got a double helping, so twice the amount of pig pals would receive “a piggy prize”.

I had no idea who the StreetHogs were when I read this originally but I’d soon be finding out. Above was also the first mention of the book to come, now that was exciting! I never did write in and I’m not sure why. I had drawings published in Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends and Barrie’s Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles Adventures, then when I moved on to computer games magazines I was always writing into them. But for some reason I never took the time to contact Uncle Pigg or the other characters. The comic was always asking readers to get in touch one way or another, the most memorable example being when Lew Stringer‘s Pete asked readers to send in pimple busting cures later in the run.

For this birthday issue, three readers got the ultimate piggy prize when they appeared in a photo strip alongside Snatcher Sam (Marc Riley) and Frank Sidebottom (Chris Sievey). This had been the star prize in a competition run on Radio Manchester in conjunction with Casio Electronics (hence the product placement) and the three lucky winners got to star in their favourite comic and also went away with their own keyboards. Not too shabby at all. The pig pals we were very jealous of were Ruth Salts, Paul Pike and Paul Rafferty.

I love how they’ve touched up the photographs with these garish colours, making it feel more like a comic strip, adding to the ridiculousness of it. Obviously the Casino keyboards are the central plot device here but it works perfectly, with Frank struggling to think of new lyrics for a song. The inspiration in the end is brilliant, or “fantastic” as he might say, and I genuinely did laugh out loud when what Sam starts yelling just happens to be the lyrics to a famous song. It’s completely daft and so uniquely ‘OiNK’. Great stuff.

Time for a quick glance at some of the other highlights of the issue. Dead Fred gets a full page to himself for his Happy Death Day, it’s a happy ending for Hector Vector and his Talking T-shirt much to the annoyance of said garment, there’s that stance and glare again from Hadrian Vile‘s mum (see the Holiday Special for more on that) and Frank Sidebottom‘s own strip has one of the best captions in comics history. Finally, GBH got in on the birthday action with some highly collectible memorabilia.

One little change happened with one of the above strips this issue, namely The Secret Diary ov Hadrian Vile – Aged 8 5/8 (yearƨ). Eagle-eyed readers would’ve spotted he’d jumped from 7 5/8 in the past fortnight. A nice little touch and he’d remain this age for the rest of the year. As the comic continued we’d see his mum become pregnant, eventually giving birth to a new baby sister for Hadrian, who he then took under his wing! Seeing him and his family develop in real time was subtle but a unique point of interest. If OiNK had continued longer than the two-and-a-half years it was published for would Hadrian’s age have continued to increase? Who knows. But it’s interesting to imagine.

There’s a special poster in the middle of the issue which I’m going to sign off with below, but first I can’t let this issue go by without showing you a very special strip indeed. This issue’s Tom Thug stands out for a few different reasons. First up, I always enjoy it when characters break the fourth wall, to coin a phrase. Basically, when they refer to being in a comic. Tom does this here to great effect when explaining to Wayne Brayne why he’s trying to duff him up when his bullying ways are brought into question (the panel is completed with an automatically-appearing sticking plaster). However, the main highlight happens when he trips over his untied shoelace. Obviously he never did learn to do that properly.


“How do you get nostalgic about a comic that’s only a year old?”

Lew Stringer

Tom is becoming worried about his constant failures as a bully. It’s his whole reason for being and yet he hasn’t yet managed to do it successfully for even one issue. Of course, we loved his strip because of his constant failures and that was the whole point of the strip, for the bully to fail. But Tom thinks Uncle Pigg is going to toss him on the comics scrapheap if he can’t manage to successfully cause some bovver. It’s this scrapheap he imagines which is the highlight here, as he places himself next to all of the forgotten comics characters of yesteryear, each drawn by Lew very much in their original artists’ styles.

I think this was a wonderful idea. As Lew asked on his own blog when discussing this strip, “How do you get nostalgic about a comic that’s only a year old?” They’re all classic IPC characters, then several years later some were sold off to Egmont while others were kept by IPC, meaning they could no longer appear together, making this an even more unique strip than it already was. Nowadays, Rebellion owns them all and I think it’s time for a reunion, including Tom. The strip ends with Uncle Pigg demoting him to half a page. With so many regular characters now the editors had decided to do this, and this was an original and clever way of actually working the decision into the strip (although due to his popularity he’d return to full strength very quickly). It kept him in every issue when others had to skip some, so it was for a good reason in the end.

One final note about that strip. In the second panel a little plop is holding up a sign saying hello to a reader by the name of Ben Gibbons. This is actually the son of comics artist Dave Gibbons. Ben was a regular reader of OiNK and Dave himself would contribute to an issue with the very funny artwork for The Superhero’s Day Off written by Lew. We’ll get to that eventually. It’s worth the wait!

This has been a great celebration of the first year of what is still my favourite comic of all time.

We’re at the end of another review and it’s crazy to think I’ve been at this for a year already. The blog itself relaunched before this time last year, when Visionaries was the first comic to begin its real time read through (I didn’t want to wait another year for the sake of a few weeks before the blog’s namesake began). It’s been a blast and the best is still to come as far as I’m concerned. The latter months of this year especially.

This has been a great celebration of the first year of what is still my favourite comic of all time. The next issue of OiNK will be themed around the world of pets and you’ll be able to read the review from Monday 2nd May 2022. But first there’s one more thing I want to show you and that’s the lovely poster from this issue, the OiNK Anniversary Portrait. Drawn by Ed McHenry it’s full of all of the main characters including those no longer in the comic. I was happy to see Sally Scowl received an invite to the party after her funny strips were unceremoniously dropped after only two issues! (I’m still hurting about that.)

Happy (36th!) Birthday OiNK.

CHRISTMAS CONFESSIONS: NEW PSYCHO GRAN!

What better way to kick off the New Year than with some brand new strips featuring one of OiNK‘s most beloved characters. From the pen of David Leach comes two corking new stories for Psycho Gran, once more in the digital pages of Aces Weekly. One was published in issue six of the current volume on 27th December and was billed by the comic as a Christmas horror story (albeit with the usual Psycho humour), the second on 3rd January so both are available right now! I’ll tell you how you can get your trotters on them below, but first here’s a quick preview of both.

The Confessions of Psycho Gran has our former OiNK star head to the confessional in her local church. I think a whole issue of Aces Weekly could be taken up with her confessions but here the focus is on the poor priest who is there to listen and forgive. As you can see from this first page (of three) she’s taken her toll on him. Just a little bit. It’s a darker story than usual, even by Psycho Gran standards, but as always it’s laugh-out-loud funny.

The second, four-page strip is called Still Waters and takes place at the local swimming pool where Gran is enjoying a paddle in the swim lane. None of the other swimmers want to share it with her but one man isn’t having it, he’s paid for his swim time and so pushes through, jumping the entire queue and into the water. I’m not even going to hint at what comes next but it’s a brilliant final page which I personally found particularly funny, and it includes a nice nod to a classic comic star.

Aces Weekly was created by David Lloyd and Bambos Georgiou and is a digital anthology comic full of a huge variety of content from a wonderful array of talent, covering many genres in every issue. Each volume is seven weekly issues in length and you can either subscribe and have each one delivered to your inbox, or buy any volume in one go for just £6.99. The latest volume containing Psycho Gran is now complete so you too can dip your feet in the waters if you dare!

This isn’t the first time David’s creation has appeared in the comic, in fact last year both she and Lew Stringer‘s Combat Colin had further new strips appear in the landmark 50th volume, as you can read about in this previous blog post.

Get to it. Seriously, you won’t regret it pig pals!