Coming up next on the OiNKBlog is another musical issue of our favourite comic. Back in the latter parts of last year #16 was a hilarious pop music special and it ended up being a very unique issue. Will the next one measure up to it? Well, with a photo strip featuring the post-punk band The Mekons in a Wild West shoot-out it’s very promising, that’s for sure! Here’s the Next Issue promo, drawn by Davy Francis from a script by Mark Rodgers, taken from #28.
There are a couple of references back to the previous music-themed edition including the results of that Win A Pop Concert In Your Own Home competition! There’s also another Butcher Watch Update from Jeremy Banx which were always brilliant of course, the first of Simon Thorpe‘s excellent spoof movie posters and much more, all wrapped up in another Ian Jackson cover. You can check out the latest review from Monday 30th May 2022, the 35th anniversary of the issue’s release!
Mentioned in the image above is the first OiNK Holiday Special which I reviewed back in April, so make sure you catch up on that review too, pig pals.
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.
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 Francis’ Derek Blinge.
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 Gorbthree 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!
As both an OiNK and a Doctor Who fan, seeing our editor Uncle Pigg dressed as the Doctor, swirling about through time being chased by angry butchers and all drawn by Ian Jackson is an absolute treat for my eyes. What a way to start an issue! As a kid I only began watching Doctor Who the following year and by then Sylvester McCoy was already in the role, but I was fully aware of who this parody was based on. At the time of its publication Colin Baker had finished his final series but had yet to be replaced, his character’s horrid dress sense perfectly captured here by Ian.
As we had with the first Christmas issue, this Time-Travel Special sees Uncle Pigg leave the OiNK office and set out on a multi-page strip throughout the issue, courtesy of writer Mark Rodgers. Running late, he stumbles upon butchers unloading livestock and makes a run for it, mistakenly assumed to be one of their escaped pigs. He dives into a rather familiar looking police phone box to hide and the adventure begins.
I love the fact the disguise he’s grabbed in a haphazard hurry from the local fancy dress shop is a dead ringer for the Sixth Doctor‘s eyesore of a costume and the fact it’s his trotter that gives the game away and not his piggy face! He rematerialises three more times on separate pages in the issue, the first set in prehistoric times where cavemen with butcher aprons and hats are chasing down wild boars.
He quickly sets course for home. He wants to stay because the hogs looked underfed and miserable, but he can’t change the past, it would be too dangerous. Unbeknownst to him, his sudden appearance scared the butchers so much they now worship the very animals they were trying to eat! Then it’s off to 2987AD, exactly one thousand years into the future, and suitably enough for how he got there he bumps into familiar-looking future versions of butchers, the most terrifying of all! Have a look.
I love this theme of simply adding an apron and hat, and in the case of the Daleks actual weapons (or rather, butcher’s tools) instead of their 80s sink plungers. It’s such a simple idea but absolutely hilarious. Uncle Pigg gets out of this tight spot by sharing copies of OiNK, its humour overloading their circuits and freeing the people from their tyranny. As he leaves he tells them if they need more copies for the fight they should place a regular order at their newsagents. We then see the people later worshipping a statue of him while asking, “What’s a ‘newsagent’?”
It’s imaginative, original and genuinely very funny throughout. Mark is nothing short of a comics writing genius and Ian’s artwork brings these ideas to life in a way that completely matches their crazy nature. It’s such a shame this would be the last time they’d create a long strip like this for the character. It’s definitely the highlight of the issue and indeed one of my favourite moments from the whole run, not least because he’s not just confined to the pages of his own story.
Much like Star Truck in #3 (and the forthcoming OiNK! Book 1988) which saw our heroes appear among the stars of other strips, so Uncle Pigg (or his TARDIS at least) pops up at various points in the issue and it was fun to spot these as a child. Heck, let’s face it, it’s fun to see it pop up now as an adult, whether it’s in the background or in a way that actually affects the plot of another story.
We can see the TARDIS floating about in Lew Stringer’sPete and his Pimple strip after Pete accidentally fell into a time warp and also ended up in prehistoric times, then in Dick Tater, Dictator of Time written by Tim Quinn (his one contribution to OiNK) and drawn by Ed McHenry he causes a pile-up in between time zones and in Spotticus the Slave he saves the title character from being eaten by a lion. This last strip was (and I quote), “Writed and drawed bi Davey Jonsey, Pillock-of-the-Year 1981“.
The conclusion is right at the back of the comic and the solution is a simple one; just land on the butchers’ heads and free all the captured piggies. A happy ending all round! We even get a little cameo from the Doctor and this isn’t the first time Colin Baker has been immortalised in an Ian Jackson drawing. Check out #3‘s review for his earlier appearance. What a fantastic strip this has been!
The rest of the issue is just as good, with the vast majority sticking to the theme either by including time travel or being set in the distant past or future. But my first highlight is neither, it was just too funny and too memorable to leave out. It’s the first time I’ve shown an entry from this series on the blog and it might surprise pig pals to know there weren’t that many overall.
In my head the Rotten Rhymes series was in nearly every issue, particularly during the later fortnightlies but in reality there were only 13 of these funny takes on nursery rhymes, and mainly during the monthly issues towards the end of OiNK’s run. Taking a traditional nursery rhyme and changing the last line, often throwing away the need to rhyme at all, they’d be written and drawn by a variety of contributors and Humpty Dumpty by Davy Francis is one of the very best.
My memory may have let me down insofar as how many Rotten Rhymes there were, but I can actually remember reciting this in school to several of my friends. It’s strange the little random memories this blog has brought back to the surface. There are others in this series I loved but this always remained the most memorable, simply because of how brazenly it dealt with the main character! But that’s not all from Davy I want to show you from this issue.
Sometimes in humour comics a character could become a one-trick pony, their regular antics basically playing out exactly the same way every issue but perhaps in a slightly different setting. This was certainly the case with some of the other titles I dipped into back then to see if any would interest me in the same way as this one. None of them really did, so I stuck with OiNK for the time being. Some of OiNK’s own characters could appear on the surface to be examples of these repetitive strips, but in reality they were far from that. Take Davy’s Greedy Gorb for instance.
A boy who eats everything, food or otherwise, is a simple idea that could’ve run dry very quickly in lesser hands. But thanks to Davy every episode was fresh and funny, and he never failed to raise a laugh. The brilliantly named mad scientist Doctor Maddstark-Raving would also get spun off into some strips of his own now and again, such was his potential in Davy’s crazy mind.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Snatcher Sam in the comic and this issue puts that right, although not in his usual photo story format. Instead, Mike Taylor does a superb job of drawing Marc Riley as the clueless thief (and I think Pat Healy as the guard, previously seen in #7‘s Swindler Sid story). It suits the Olde English theme of the page a lot better than photographs ever could and I think the style Mike has used here is very inventive, giving it a unique feel.
As if reinventing Marc as an actual comic strip wasn’t good enough, that final pun is just brilliant. All of the ridiculousness, the seemingly random pratfalls and idiocy is all for a reason, all building to the name of this Dick Turpin-inspired highway robber. It’s nothing short of genius, in both Mark’s writing and Mike’s illustrations, hiding behind what on the surface is just plain silliness. Surely that’s the very essence of OiNK?
Chas Sinclair‘s artwork is perfect for stories such as the next one, written by Tony Husband. He has a knack of making a strip look more mature, a little more like something I might have seen in my brother’s Roy of the Rovers or something. For me this works perfectly because given OiNK’s track record so far, the more it looks like a story we’d find in a non-humour comic, the more insane and funny it usually is. Check out Scruff of the Track, Janice and John and Watery Downfor instance. I’m very glad to say No News Is Good News keeps to this tradition.
I really thought the strip was going to end with James Fishpond being hit by the bus and it’d be an OiNK version of The Twilight Zone, the prediction in the newspaper actually causing the event. (The later regular strip, The Swinelight Zone would do strips like that.) But not only is it completely ridiculous how he’s able to talk aloud about how the bus is going to kill him and devise a plan to stop it from happening, all before the bus actually does so (when he clearly had time to jump out of the way), but the poor chap who does get hit is even worse! A brilliantly funny strip that uses the subject of the issue in an original way. Great stuff.
Next to this page is the first of a two-part Tom Thug strip. You might think it’d all return to normal by the next issue, but I can remember the final panel here being picked up on in #25. We welcome back Tom’s nemesis, posh clever kid Wayne Brayne who was first introduced in #10 and who would normally outsmart the dimwitted numbskull with ease, but here he’s decided to be proactive in an attempt to stop Tom’s bullying for good. As you’ll see, in a surprise twist the person punished at the end isn’t the one you’d usually expect.
Remember kids, never lower yourself to the level of the bully, even if your intentions are good. I recalled the panel of an elderly Tom but I thought I remembered it being some kind of time travel where an actual older version of himself terrified him. Nope, it’s all a ruse, but it has the same effect. Another incorrect assumption on my part was thinking it’d all simply be back to normal next time, but you’ll see I was wrong about that too.
Back in the 80s I can remember one piece of primary school homework when we were asked to imagine what our lives would be like in the year 2000. Cue lots of moving walkways and flying cars. It seemed so far away and it’s scary to think that futuristic date is actually further into the past now than it was into the future when we were imagining it!
We weren’t the only ones to dream of life in the future and here writer Mark Rodgers and artist Ed McHenry have created this brilliant back cover to finish the issue. Using the logo of the famous sci-fi comic, a stablemate of OiNK’s from the same publisher, there’s a lot to love here in the little details. Ed is friends with Davy Francis so check out the little desk inscription next to the Cowpat Planet strip, the name of the robot churning out the art, the huge computer monitor layout still using a fiddly indoor aerial, the piggy bank and even a standard office-like holiday rota but for plops!
One little detail here stands out though. At the bottom you’ll see Mark has written in that his brain is being kept alive in a jar hooked up to a script computer. Of course, the world sadly did lose Mark in the early 1990s, so this little gag of his is a bittersweet moment. However, Mark would still want us to laugh and it is funny to think of how his own creation would still expect him to keep on churning out the story ideas.
That’s all the time we have for this time-travel issue and it’s been a blast from the past from page one to 32. Mark and the entire team pulled out all the stops for this one and the fortnightlies only get better and better from here on. My own favourite point in OiNK‘s lifespan will be towards the end of the year and I simply can’t wait. Next up though is the Toys and Hobbies Issue, the review of which will be here from Monday 4th April 2022.