Tag Archives: Davy Francis

OiNK! #9: SWEET REVENGE

There was always an extra bit of excitement that came with an Ian Jackson OiNK cover; it made us feel like we were in for an extra special issue. The oddly-themed Revenge Issue kicks off with this brilliant piece which follows on from last month’s fiasco in the OiNK offices. The Next Issue promo saw Mary Lighthouse in fear of retaliation from editor Uncle Pigg and it would appear she was right to be scared.

A bizarre cover such as this needs a story behind it and on page two we discover it was all a dream after Mary fell asleep watching an old western movie. But unbeknownst to her there’s a new ‘Splat-O-Pult’ with a bucket full of swill awaiting her in her garden. At this point I’m going to flick forward to the middle pages of the comic where the aftermath of this becomes apparent with the Mad Murder Maze!

The strips are as ever drawn by Ian with the maze itself brought to colourful life by Ralph Shephard, known to pig pals for his spoof strips of children’s cartoons and of course the Make-Your-Own-Adventure from issue five. Following on from that is this further piece of interactive fun for the young readers as they try to find a safe way across a monstrous maze for the catty critic. But why would we want to help her? As usual there’s a twist in the tale.

I hope you found your way across before skipping to the conclusion! Unlike the Barry the Butcher strip this one is actually doable. Every issue the back and forth between these two characters always drew me in, like I was part of Uncle Pigg’s club and even today as an adult it still feels like I’m getting access to some secret behind-the-scenes shenanigans of creating an anarchic comic. So a really fun main event.

Originally created by Graham Exton and always drawn by Mike Green, Weedy Willy was an easy strip to adapt to the subject. His regular plans to woo dishy Mandy would always fail, often resulting in Mandy being on the receiving end of the failure, so she’d end up chasing him (not in the way Willy intended) with revenge in our eyes. However, this time it’s his own mother who ends up with that fearsome look, after Willy’s dad tries to encourage him to seek revenge on the constant stream of bullies.

We already knew Willy couldn’t formulate any kind of successful plan, so I love how all of his dad’s resources are just shoved into a bag and thrown out of the window to achieve the desired effect! Willy would be a regular character all the way through the comic and into the pages of Buster for a short period of time, but his days of full page strips in OiNK would soon be up, as you’ll see soon in the read through.

One of my favourite things about OiNK were the spoof Madvertisements and I’ve shown you some of these already. By the time I purchased my first issue back in 1986 the majority were for the comic’s in-house brand G.B.H. and this is the issue in which they made their first appearance. Later they’d have full colour pages to hawk their wares, sometimes even multipage catalogues, but here they get a little area at the bottom of one page with four tiny classifieds, the best of which is below.

I can still remember the day I asked my brother what the initials stood for and given the fact it was clearly a company run by mobsters it suited the premise perfectly. Interesting little part of the Grunts letters page there too, which I previously missed during the read through I did several years back on the previous site. That’s OiNK cartoonist Davy Francis pointing out a newspaper clipping to the team. Well, he would notice this kind of story wouldn’t he, what with his lead strip being Cowpat County!

Also this issue we see the saga of Tom Thug and his shoelaces come to its conclusion. If you take a gander at the very top of this review you’ll see Uncle Pigg threatening Tom with a transfer to Whizzer and Chips comic! In complete panic Tom somehow manages to tie his bovver boots, but we later see him in the bath, boots still on his feet because he doesn’t know how to untie them.

Clearly just over two years later the transfer to Buster wasn’t as scary for the dimwitted boy.


“He battled his way past the castle guards – the Noxious Newts of Noona and the Preying Potties of Poohbah!”

Nice-Man and the Lords of the Universe (Mark Rodgers)

Not every strip in every issue would stick to the subject at hand, which would give a nice variety to the contents and one of those giving us a break from all of the revenge, monsters, threats and mobsters was David Haldane‘s Rubbish Man. The premise here is a simple one and in fact the story itself only takes half of the space afforded to it. The end gag panel takes up half the page and you can see why. I’ll admit the way his final speech balloon reads in my head has me in giggles every time I read it.

Even at this early stage in the comic’s lifetime Haldane has all but abandoned Jimmy Bung (the secret identity of Rubbish Man) but that’s perfectly fine by me. All we want is his madcap, smelly adventures, we don’t need to see him transform anymore. As much as I enjoyed him as a kid, I do think Rubbish Man is one of the strips I think is even funnier to me now as an adult.

At the time of writing this review, a shiny new sequel series to the original Masters of the Universe cartoon has just been released, alongside what seems to be innumerable documentaries on the original toy craze. I don’t think it can be overestimated just how massive this toy line was in the early 80s. Personally, I can remember being told by my parents (years later for obvious reasons) how they had to travel to Dublin to secure a Castle Greyskull toy for Christmas!

It’s a glorious thing indeed. Almost as glorious was my reenactment with my Mattel toys.

This means of course that an OiNK parody was inevitable and in this issue Ralph Shepherd (I told you he would be known for these) took Mark Rodgers‘ brilliant take on He-Man and Skeletor and turned out this beautiful spread. As well as the main characters themselves the seemingly endless array of ridiculous sounding villain toys and the equally endless war itself were also taken to task.

The only possible negative thing I could say about this is that the first page is in black and white. This isn’t usually an issue for a comic whose fortnightly ratio would be eight full colour pages, eight one-colour pages and 16 in black and white. But when you see the second page you can’t help but wish the first was the same. This isn’t a case of it being printed that way, you can tell by Ralph’s crosshatch shading the first page was created in black and white.

Still, it’s a glorious thing indeed. Almost as glorious was my reenactment of this with my Mattel toys. It was reprinted in the third Holiday Special and by that time I’d moved on from He-Man but the toys were still in the bottom of a cupboard somewhere. Digging them out and utilising some Visionaries and The Real Ghostbusters toys, as well as an actual banana, I played out this classic OiNK spoof. Funny the things that stay with us, locked deep in our memories.

We’re almost at the end of another OiNK real time review but we’ve got Mary Lighthouse‘s escape from the monsters to clear up. It would seem she’s done so unscathed, at least until page 31 anyway. Making it back to her Dun Complainin’ home (nice touch) her choice of supper and bedtime reading comes back to haunt her in her nightmares, thanks to a particularly bold back page from Jon Langford making his OiNK debut.

A friend of Marc Riley’s, Jon was a founding member of The Mekons, who as a group would also appear in a photo story or two in OiNK! But that’s only one small part of his incredible creative output which includes various other bands, visual art and design, music production, theatre work and political activism. His illustrations would appear in OiNK four times over the course of the fortnightly issues so watch out for more from him over the next couple of years.

Strong central scripts, beautiful one-off special contributions and far too many little strips and gags to talk about here. It would still be a few months before I would discover OiNK just before turning ten years of age and it’s almost criminal to know a quality, laugh-a-minute read like this was sitting right there, just down the road from my house in the newsagent and I wasn’t aware. Thank goodness I never grew up in the intervening years and was able to track them down!

The next of these is the Back to School Special and it’ll be reviewed on Monday 6th September 2021. If I’d known about it at the time it definitely would’ve taken the sting out of returning to school at that age, as you’ll see in two weeks.

OiNK! #8: SKELE-TON OF FUN

I had a particularly pleasant time reading this issue of OiNK. It’s always a positive experience but blue skies, a beer and a furry feline friend for company heightened it even further. It was a different reading experience for what is a very different issue, kicking off with co-editor Patrick Gallagher‘s anarchic front cover.

As mentioned last time, after what must’ve been an exhaustive summer special Uncle Pigg and his staff were off on holidays, leaving issue eight in the capable hands of his skeleton staff. While their hands would be anything but capable, the second part of his description was more accurate. That’s right, actual skeletons make up the skeleton staff (of course they do) and the front cover pretty much sums up what’s to come with its slapdash approach and apparent mistakes.

Inside we meet Boss Bones and some of the hilarious substitutes for the humans that normally put the comic together. Brilliantly, the artists’ signatures have even been changed throughout to match these pseudonyms; some have clearly been edited after the fact but some have been changed by the artists themselves.

Throughout we’re treated to the skeletons printing whole pages upside down, spilling jam and bursting their fountain pens as they make a general hash of putting an issue of OiNK together. Here are two such examples from the Grunts letters page and Marc Riley‘s Harry the Head.

Two of the artists who really embraced the chaos were Jeremy Banx and Davy Francis, or rather their substitutes ‘Bonex’ and ‘Bony Hart’, the latter named after Tony Hart, the famous 80s children’s TV artist. Mr Big Nose‘s strip is made up of completely random panels with no correlation to each other, the star telling us it would’ve all made sense if the skeletons had remembered to include speech balloons. Jeremy later brings us three comic-invading butchers, a one off surprise that evolves into the ongoing Butcherwatch series, which in turn will introduce us to the comic’s arch nemesis, Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith.

I’m reminded of a stand up comedian (I want to say Lee Evans) who noticed how everyone loves their local butcher, they comment on how friendly and trustworthy they are, they chat away while ordering their food, and this all happens despite the fact the butcher’s apron will invariably be covered in blood from the carcasses of dead animals they sawed into little bits just moments before. I remember laughing at this and I’ve never forgotten it to this day when I visit my local shop and see that play out in front of me.

This just reminded me of that.

Davy’s alter ego wasn’t in the same league as his namesake, as evidenced with his How to Draw page written by Mark Rodgers, or rather ‘Jolly Rodgers’. Bony’s advice was to cheat at every possible opportunity. This could include only showing the backs of heads because there are less features to draw, only having buildings very far away so they are nothing more than dots on the horizon, and never showing still figures. He claims this final tip is because they’re boring for the reader, but the real reason is so he can draw them running out of frame, their body replaced with nothing but zoom lines.

Naturally before any of us would’ve pinned her up on our bedroom walls she had to be the butt of a joke.

The OiNK Superstar Posters make a welcome return this issue, or rather a generic ‘OiNK Poster’ is included. The reason a word is missing from the title is the subject matter. In the previous issue Ian Jackson (who had taken over poster duties from J.T. Dogg) drew Uncle Pigg as the subject of the only OiNK MEGAstar Poster, so with it being the turn of Mary Lighthouse (critic) the bland title this time is a joke in itself.

Mary’s a surprising pick so naturally before any of us would’ve pinned her up on our bedroom walls she had to be the butt of a joke. This is brilliantly explained in a full page strip by Mark and Ian in which the skeleton crew try their best, which of course means the worst possible outcome will inevitably happen.

Moving on, the gorgeous lady below played the role of Terry Wogham in an early photo story series, one of which I’ve already shown in issue five‘s review. This would be her final appearance, shot all out of focus after the skeletons handed the role of photographer to Weedy Willy. Tony Husband told me he went on all of the photoshoots for this particular series including the last one, during which the farmer told them they’d completed their story just in time because she was due to go to the slaughterhouse the next day!

Having gotten to know her over a few years the team’s hearts were broken and they even considered buying her and renting a field in which she could live out the rest of her life, but unfortunately they weren’t able to in the end. Terry lives on though in the hearts and minds of pig pals everywhere.

Towards the back of the comic Uncle Pigg’s loyal assistant Percy Plop (named for the first time) telephones his boss to inform him of how the issue is panning out and the response is so loud it flings Percy across the room where he sticks to the wall! We get a brilliant strip showing our editor’s return to the office which acts as a full page Next Issue promo. You’ll see it on Friday 20th August, a few days before issue nine’s review. With the comic back in his capable trotters it was time for a more traditional ending to the issue.


“We really got the drop on him, didn’t we?”

Eustace the Underpants

Do you remember Jimbo & the Jet Set?  Were you a fan?  Are you singing the theme tune now?  Oh dear, sorry. Premiering on BBC One in the early weeks of 1986 the show was at its height when OiNK came along, making it perfect fodder for the team’s own spin on the idea of anthropomorphic objects. If you watched the cartoon you’ll know Jimbo was joined by various talking trucks, helicopters and even a set of airplane steps, all chattering away on the tarmac. Patrick Gallagher decided to run with that idea.

This wouldn’t be the last time a popular talking form of transport would get the OiNK treatment. If you think back to the 1980s I’m sure if you try to guess who I’m talking about you’ll be on the right track. It’s a favourite of mine so I’ll definitely be including that one too.

Let’s finish this issue with the back cover, where we find Tom Thug and his dad have made it to Blackpool after setting off last issue. It’s not only the first time we get to see a colour strip from Lew Stringer in OiNK, it was the first one he’d produced to ever see print. Readers of The Transformers would’ve seen coloured Robo-Capers by Lew before now but those were coloured in-house at Marvel UK using overlays for flat colours.

IPC Magazines printed OiNK on high grade paper and everything was hand coloured for more depth. To be fair, the early editions of Transformers contained hand coloured artwork on the main strip and cover too. In the case of this Tom Thug strip Lew used water colour inks and the result is lovely. Even that final panel.

Speaking of which, according to Lew the final panel had some dialogue edited by one of the comic’s editors; the word “sink” was originally meant to be “bog”. It was rare for something like that to be changed in OiNK.

Having a full colour back page surely shows how well regarded Tom was with the editors. He was certainly appreciated by the fans, including this one. To this day Tom is my favourite comics character of all time and I’ll be looking forward to each of his instalments in this read through.

So that’s us for another issue. OiNK may be safely back in the trotters of Uncle Pigg but I don’t think Mary Lighthouse will be as safe, not with the next issue’s theme being that of revenge. You can check back in two weeks to see exactly how that’s enacted, the next review is published on Monday 23rd August. Ta-ra for now.

OiNK! #2: STiCKiNG iT TO THE ROYALS

it’s time for the second issue of the world’s funniest comic and the cover sets the ball rolling in typical OiNK fashion. Using the same design as the preview issue, an artist’s illustration framed above Patrick Gallagher‘s Uncle Pigg and Mary Lighthouse, this has proved to be very memorable over the years amongst fans.

Let’s try to forget about how old the image of those two boys makes us feel and instead concentrate on the funny rendering by Steve McGarry. This was all to promote another free gift, a set of blank sticky badges with letters, numbers and images which could be rubbed on to create anything the young readers wanted. They’re a bit like those old pretend tattoo rub-on transfers we had as kids, which never transferred in one piece and would look a right mess on our arms.

Of course there were other cheeky examples of what could be created inside the issue and a request for pig pals to send in their ideas, which we’ll see later. As we open the issue it’s again up to critic Mary Lighthouse and editor Uncle Pigg to introduce the issue, this time by following on directly from Mary’s quite startled discovery on the front page.

It’s not often you’ll see a Royal fart joke. Again, Ian Jackson‘s artwork is the star here and he really does epitomise everything OiNK was about. I’d call it a breath of fresh air but that might not be the case given the subject of Mark Rodgers‘ script. Mary’s face in the final panel brings out a childish grin on my own face every time I see it.

It’s time to meet another regular star of the comic. Weedy Willy was introduced in the preview issue as “So Pathetic It’s Embarrassing”. Cowardly, insanely weak and lacking any kind of social skills, Willy’s continued optimism led to us cheering him on through mishap after mishap. Most of these would also involve his unrequited love of local girl Mandy, who’d often fall foul of his misplaced affections.

While Willy’s weediness (expertly rendered by Mike Green) was the subject of the humour, he was never portrayed as a victim. Yes, we could laugh at his inability to lift the lightest of objects or his fears of the cutest, cuddliest babies, but whenever the strip put him up against a bully he’d always come out on top, even if it was inadvertently. His positivity was infectious and the moral was clear, albeit delivered in an original OiNK fashion.

[Harry the Head] paid tribute to the Dambusters, believe it or not.

The comic had an anarchic feel to it which I always loved, not only in its humour and artwork but also in how it was organised. Other humour comics would have certain strips on the same pages every issue, always taking up the same amount of space. OiNK mixed it up, placing its regulars on different pages and often giving them varying amounts of space from issue to issue. Co-editor Mark Rodgers said strip length was one of the rules they no longer wished to be confined by.

This variation carried over to the one-off strips, which could be anything from a quick three-panel gag to a detailed multipage story. From this issue, this two-thirds of a page strip is one such example and a definite highlight.

Burp and Mr Big Nose creator Jeremy Banx‘s Kangaroo Kid leaps (sorry, I couldn’t resist) off the bright yellow page, ending with the reader actually taken by surprise with the blatantly obvious fact he hadn’t exited the phone booth yet. A brilliant piece of misdirection and comic timing.

Compared to the newsprint comics of the day, OiNK’s shiny paper was a revelation. While action comics such as Transformers were mostly printed on full colour glossy paper, OiNK’s was much bigger and of a higher grade, meaning even these one-colour pages feel more vibrant when held. Its printing process also meant black and white strips didn’t have to be quite so simple anymore and shades of grey could be used to really bring them to life in a way we hadn’t seen before in humour comics.

But of course, OiNK also had more striking full colour pages than any other funny comic and none would use this to greater effect than J.T. Dogg, so while we’re on the subject here’s his latest Superstar Poster, Frankenswine!

I know I’ve included one of these before but how could I not show off this masterpiece? I hadn’t discovered OiNK at this stage but I remember having these up on my wall back in the late 80s, from a mix of issues given to me by my cousin and reprints from much later in the run. I have a couple up on the walls of my home office now, I’ll let you know which as we go along.

Other highlights of this issue include the pun-tastic pigs The Street-Hogs as they continue to fight Don Poloney, not-so-subtle in-jokes in Cowpat County, a wonderful full colour Burp and a Rocky-inspired Golden Trough Awards, complete with catchy musical monologue. Be warned, you may not get the original tune out of your head after you read this.

One of the main contributors to OiNK had never worked in comics before, but was the lead singer of the band that received a little promo above in Cowpat County. Marc Riley is better known today as a BBC Radio 6 Music presenter, previously of Mark and Lard fame on Radio 1. Just for the record, our Marc was ‘Lard’.


“With Marc all hunched over dressed like this, passers-by and car drivers were stunned and puzzled.”

Tony Husband

An old friend of Patrick’s (still good friends with both him and fellow co-editor Tony Husband to this day) Marc could be heard singing on the free flexidisc from issue one and would star as Snatcher Sam in many photo stories, often appearing alongside Frank Sidebottom. Later stories are set outside or on makeshift sets, but in these early days Marc would be pasted onto hastily drawn backgrounds.

The Bully Who Went Bald is one such story. It also features Tony’s son Paul (previously seen in the preview issue) as Sam’s intended target and Patrick as an innocent airplane pilot who just happens to be passing by. The rough sketches and cut-and-paste nature adds to the amateurish look, which in itself highlights the fact these were spoofs of photo stories found in the likes of Eagle and women’s weeklies.

This behind-the-scenes photo has been shared by Tony, who said that after the shoot Paul walked down the lane holding Marc’s hand. “With Marc all hunched over dressed like this, passers-by and car drivers were stunned and puzzled”, says Tony.

We stick with Marc for the back page and our final highlight. Probably Marc’s most fondly remembered creation after Snatcher Sam was Harry the Head, the tale of an ordinary boy who just happened to be a disembodied head. In the preview issue Harry’s parents were also just heads but a later strip would change this to involve a genie, a greedy young boy and a lesson learnt.

Quite a severe lesson to learn! But Harry did just that and ended up kinder and less selfish, earning himself a good friend in Barney (who would diligently carry Harry around by the hair) and decided to live life to the full. Later he would go off on an adventure around the world over multiple issues, but his best strips were the self-contained ones where he’d use his predicament to his advantage, such as in this one which paid tribute to the Dambusters, believe it or not.

Who would’ve thought this crazy comic could be educational too. Well okay, I’m pushing it but this strip actually saw publication on the 43rd anniversary of the Dambusters raid, which occurred on the night of 16-17 May back in 1943.

With that we come to the end of our second review (third if you count the preview) of OiNK in this real-time 35th anniversary read through. The next issue is the first of the themed editions. These were another example of how OiNK stood out from the crowd and another reason it was a favourite among so many.

The first subject is space, so watch out for chicken aliens, pigs behind the moon and even a cameo from The Doctor. Issue three takes off on Monday 31st May and you can also check out the promo for it from tis issue.