Tag Archives: Ed McHenry


Comic covers don’t come much more creative than this. Lew Stringer’s latest OiNK cover is definitely one of my favourites, right up there with those from #6 and #43 by Ian Jackson. The OiNK logo being pushed off the page was all Lew’s idea, who pencilled out a rough of the whole cover for approval by the comic’s editors. After it was approved he then drew the Pete part of the design, leaving the logo for Patrick.

Co-editor Patrick Gallagher was the famous logo’s original creator and told me he thought Lew’s cover was a “swell” idea, pun very obviously intended, and that it was a doddle for him to rejig the letters and complete this eye-catching front page, a highlight of the issue for sure and really makes the issue stand out in the collection. Just as well the inside is as good then. The first interior highlight comes from Davy Francis and Greedy Gorb, along with a special guest star.

Although he goes unnamed, that’s Doctor Madstarkraving (“He’s Bonkers”) who has appeared in his own strip a couple of times (#27 being one example) with more to come later in the run. Showing how uncontrollable Greedy’s appetite is, he shoots himself in the foot by eating the doc’s inventions when they could’ve fed him even more food! I particularly like the name of the shop, a little dig at how other comics seemed to have sweet shops on every street corner, a hang up from their more traditional (read: old-fashioned) days that OiNK liked to rib.

Speaking of old-fashioned tales, James Bond author Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang wasn’t a film I loved as much as my friends seemed to. However, I was certainly knew enough of its story that the following spoof by ‘Ian Phlegming’, with a funny illustration summing it up by Simon Thorp, was very funny indeed. Speaking with Patrick he thinks Simon may have written it too. It starts off silly and quickly escalates, culminating in an over-the-top ending that couldn’t be further away from the original saccharin tale. Then again, that’s the whole idea.

Spoofs were something unique to OiNK in the children’s comic market at the time, yet in the case of Twitty Twitty Bang Bang this wasn’t the only thing that set it apart. While comics such as Beano and Buster did have text adventure serials in their early days, it wasn’t something humour comics had any more, or any children’s comics outside of the nursery and very young children’s market. Later on in this year (1988) other comics such as The Real Ghostbusters and Thundercats would bring back the prose story, but for the time being pages like this really stood out.

Simon’s other contribution to the issue has plenty of panels of text packed with gags, this time as part of a full-page illustration in his usual entertaining style, but with a rather more dreary colour palette than usual that’s all part of the joke. This time of the year family holidays would be planned and paid for; I remember the TV listings magazines being full of them the first few months of the year. These were just ripe for a makeover, selling the Porkshire Riviera’s Outlet-By-The-Sea.

While it’s not a GBH Madvertisement their presence is still very much felt with their Spamtins Holiday Camp and Multi-storey Caravan Park. Growing up in the 80s and 90s I really found the caption for the Top Class Variety Acts very funny, even as a fan of the person at the butt of the joke. In the image itself there are so many funny little details, such as the quick sand, the periscope, a pair of socks that seem to have survived beyond their owner and the rigid man who I don’t think is sunbathing anymore.

This wasn’t the only time Simon would try to entice us away to sunnier climbs. Watch out for his special cruise ship cutaway later in the year. That particular contribution will definitely be featured in the highlights to come. This issue’s highlights are particularly good too, beginning with Invisible Charlie (who appeared in three issues) and Davy Francis’ trademark background gags. (Check out the posters.)

“Baby George! The Beastie Babies! And Paul Extremely Young!

Tiny Tots TV, Vaughan Brunt

On the Grunts page a reader must’ve had the fright of their lives on their high street, Tiny Tots TV suggests some more baby based television hits after the success of the 80s’ Muppet Babies, and Frank Sidebottom has two colourful pages this week. One is a competition, the other is his recurring Frank Sidebottom and his Fantastic Showbiz Gossip column which incudes his diary and, while he slips in a couple of joke entries, it’s an interesting look into the busy life of the man behind the mask, Chris Sievey.

The life of a superstar, eh?

There are a ton of mini-strips in here, including two full pages of them. Over these two pages alone we have the return of Uncle Pigg and Mary Lighthouse to strip form, Zootown, Harry the Head, Doctor Mooney He’s Completely Looney, a GBH Madvertisement, a one-off strip by Charlie Brooker called A Day in the Life of a Typical Schoolboy and the first strip of a perennial favourite, Wally of the West. Oh, plus the weekly funny newsagent coupon.

I want to show you a few of these in quick succession and it’s been difficult to decide which ones to pick out from this brilliant selection. I’ll begin with Charlie’s Typical Schoolboy, simply because it’s so daft.

GBH returns with a tiny madvert with big prices. Their special modelling clay promises plenty of “steaming” fun from the offset, so I’m sure you can draw your own correct conclusions as to what the product actually is. There are so many jokes following on from the theme of that ‘clay’, including the variety of colour schemes and even a special free gift and another dig at radio DJ Gary Davies (also see Outlet-By-The-Sea).

I’m not sure who wrote it but the couple of tiny illustrations are by Steve Gibson, so given past examples in the weeklies of his work with Charlie on quizzes and the like I’m going to assume Brooker wrote this one too.

My eyes lit up and I’m sure I had a great big grin across my face when I saw our next mini-strip, the first appearance of Ed McHenry’s Wally of the West. The character would appear in 12 OiNKs altogether, sometimes more than once in an issue and was a main staple during this final year of the comic. Often accompanied by his long-suffering friend Fungus, Wally was a series of short gags about a very dimwitted cowboy set in the American Wild West of the past.

The jokes revolved around his stupidity which might not sound that original, but Wally had two things going for him. The first was the setting, which gave it a unique feel and opened it up to new ideas. The second was the most important though, Ed himself. Creator of many quizzes and one-off strips, Ed was now beginning to move into his own serials having also recently created Igor and the Doctor which was an exciting prospect for any fans of his work so far in OiNK.

Back in 1988 Beano reached its 50th anniversary, after The Dandy had the previous year and the first combined celebratory book had been released in 1987. I actually received that book myself for that Christmas, when I also got the first OiNK! Book, although I do think the Dandy/Beano tome was originally for my brother but he’d grown out of comics by the time Santa came to town (as a lot of us mistakenly do at some point before correcting course again). In fact, at the same time I was reading DC Thomson’s book my other annual was making lots of jokes at its expense!

This wasn’t going to stop anytime soon by the looks of this week’s newsagent reservation coupon by Patrick Gallagher.

I’ve one more little mini-strip I want to show you but I’ll finish with it after I round up this review first. From the brilliant front cover which showed right there on the shelf OiNK didn’t follow any of the traditional comic rules, to its huge array of mini-strips and strong one-offs, this is by far the best of the weekly editions so far! In fact, it could easily be one of the best issues of the whole run up to this point. I remember being very excited at getting OiNK every single week from issue 50 onwards as a child and that remains true today.

Even though I know there are only nine weeklies left until we have to wait much longer between issues, I’m still just as excited at the prospect of those to come as I was 35 years ago. To wrap up this excellent issue we even get a tiny little Uncle Pigg and Mary Lighthouse strip, something we haven’t seen in the regular comic in a long time. They used to introduce every issue, or would pop up in multi-page strips now and again, but for a long time now have been relegated to the Grunts page, so it’s nice to see Ian Jackson bring them to life again. This time, however, it’s not written by Mark Rodgers as usual, but Kev F Sutherland. Thanks for bringing them back, Kev.

OiNK #54’s review will be here on Saturday 11th March 2023.


It’s time for another celebratory issue of the world’s greatest, and funniest, comic. OiNK reached its 50th issue on this day 35 years ago, although technically speaking if you count the special editions this is actually the 55th edition, but let’s not quibble. Not only that but it feels more like the OiNK of old again. With the team caught up on the new weekly schedule characters no longer appear on exactly the same pages anymore, there are more wonderful one-offs and everything is put together in recognisably random fashion again like the fortnightlies.

This is signalled by a move away from the simplistic yellow covers and a fantastic full-page photograph of Frank Sidebottom receiving his knighthood from the Queen, in reality a young passerby. As co-editor Patrick Gallagher told the Dazed website, “I had this Queen mask with me and I’m looking for someone to put it on so Frank could get down on his knee for the photo. Only one kid would do it so we had him with the Queen’s face on and Frank being knighted. He paid twenty quid for it but obviously it was worth nothing. Frank got ripped off. Sometimes adventures with Chris became nightmares.”

Ed McHenry first appeared in OiNK #4 and has contributed to 18 issues and the first annual so far, including many a puzzle page. After an eight-issue absence he makes a grand reentry with Ringo Pig and Golden the Wonder Horse. A beautiful daft full-page strip that signals the beginning of a glorious run of work from Ed. In fact, he’ll contribute to every single issue (including all specials) from now on. His Wally of the West was always a favourite. He’ll be popping up soon on the blog.

But Ed isn’t done with this issue yet as he also drew the wonderful poster in the middle pages that marks the 50th issue with a party for all of OiNK’s main characters, but it doesn’t sit in the issue in isolation. Instead it’s sandwiched between two Lew Stringer strips, namely Pete and his Pimple and Tom Thug who cross over for this special occasion (they also did in #34). Pete’s strip is a bit of a two-for-one deal in the story department, firstly trying to take Lovely Lucy to the party and this backfiring, before he runs into Tom outside the shindig itself.

The Lucy part of the strip sets up the pimple’s ability to suddenly flare up without warning, in case you’d forgotten, before it’s used at just the right moment as a way to see off the thug that is Tom, launching us (literally in his case) to the full-colour poster by Ed in the middle pages.

Ed also drew the similarly celebratory poster for the comic’s first birthday, although there it was called an ‘anniversary’ party and here a ‘birthday’ party, which seems the wrong way round. Co-editor Mark Rodgers provides the scenario and script for the chaos reigning here. A script for a poster? Unlike the previous poster which was designed as a portrait of the comic’s stars, this is more like Rubbish Man’s New Year’s Party from #44, taking a snapshot in time of the party in progress.

As I’ve said before I always love seeing different cartoonists’ takes on characters created by others and this is a smorgasbord of just that. Ed does a wonderful job of representing a wide variety of characters created by his colleagues while giving each that McHenry twist. Nice to see Mr Big Nose make a cameo after he was dropped from the comic (last appearing in #44) but he’s not the only one I’m happy to see. Roger Rental hasn’t been seen since the latest Christmas issue (and will only make one further appearance in a monthly), and upon seeing Rubbish Man here I’m suddenly aware he also hasn’t been seen in the weeklies! In fact, just like Roger he’ll be back once more and that’s it.

It’s sad to realise some of those included no longer have regular character status

Patrick tells me, “Largely it was the contributors who made the decision to rest certain characters. In the case of Rubbish Man, David Haldane was still busy with his other work. For example in #50 he contributed Torture Twins, Zootown and Haldane’s Amazing, Incredible, Bizzare World. Ian Jackson and Jeremy Banx were also very busy on their other work outside of OiNK and since we had a healthy stockpile of other artists’ material building up, we were never short to allow them a break.” At this stage they’d no idea OiNK was going to fold and fully expected the likes of Mr Big Nose to return later.

Even though it’s sad to realise some of those included no longer have regular character status there are a lot of laughs to be had with this poster, such as Burp’s upset tummy (perhaps still upset from the oyster incident), the punch bowl, a selection of awful puns and even though it’s most likely a coincidence I did laugh at the use of the word “frazzle” to describe the little pig on the receiving end of Billy Bang’s temper, given how Frazzles are a bacon flavoured snack! After the poster we’re treated to the end of the crossover tale. This issue is the gift that keeps on giving.

Even though it’s not, this has felt like a four-page story starring Pete and Tom which just so happens to co-star a lot of the others. It really was something special for a milestone issue and it ends on a perfect note with Tom’s strip. The moment he crashes to the ground from not realising his braces are elastic gave me a chuckle and of course it would have to end on a few more puns, just to round everything off nicely. There are plenty of highlights in this issue, of which this is just one.

All in, this is the issue where the team really settled into the new format. In fact, from next week the ‘Weekly’ would be dropped from the logo on the cover, cementing the fact it was now well-and-truly a weekly comic alongside it stablemates. Alongside the celebrations in #50 Hieronymouos Van Hellsong’s strip ends with Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith using poor Hellsong to escape in suitably silly fashion and the ever-reliable Billy Bang’s strip ends with one of the best gags he had written for him.

Fleetway Publications may have decided to produce double the amount of OiNKs in order to produce more sales, bringing it in line with the likes of Buster and Whizzer and Chips but that didn’t mean OiNK wasn’t going to continue to take the Mickey out of its sister publications. Whizzer and Chips in particular was the example they’d use to dress down traditional comics as staid and formulaic. Who can forget the wonderful Tom’s Toe from #12 drawn by none other than John Geering himself?

Next to follow in this OiNK tradition (of not following comics tradition) was Charlie Brooker. Still at school while working on OiNK, Charlie would become more and more prolific throughout this last year of the comic (even writing for Lew in #47), not missing a single issue and contributing more with each one. Both The Adventure of Death and Transmogrifying Tracey would continue to pop up now and again, he’d write a ton of quizzes and text features for the monthlies, has a five-issue run of The Swinelight Zone coming up very soon and on top of all that still had time for little one-off additions such as The Check-Up here.

At the back of this issue comes a little public service message and while the Smokebuster Special isn’t mentioned it neatly ties in to the free edition, recently handed out to school kids in the north of England. For all of the efforts of those people who wanted to ban OiNK or have it banished to the top shelves of newsagents, OiNK had more examples of using humour to teach good values to its pig pals than its contemporaries, so those aforementioned critics were just doing potential readers a even bigger disservice.

Fifty issues of a comic in the late 80s was not to be sniffed at

I hated smoke. Everyone in my household did it (even if my parents weren’t aware that my siblings were). I hated the smell. I hated the way it scratched at my throat. I hated the way it made my clothes (and me) smell when I visited friends whose parents didn’t smoke. As I’ve said before I never knew about the Smokebuster Special at the time but additions such as this Madvertisement for John Slayer Specials just reinforced my feelings – while also producing a laugh at the expense of smokers, naturally.

Just like the dental hygiene-related Trendy Wendy strip from #42 a few months ago, these anti-smoking jokes made an impact on the young version of me, staying with me throughout my formative teenage years. Would I have relented to peer pressure if it hadn’t been for OiNK? I doubt it, but this certainly helped keep me on the straight and narrow, if only for the fact I didn’t want to be the butt (no pun intended) of the jokes . I’d remember them at opportune moments throughout my teens as a result.

Fifty issues of a comic in the late 80s was not to be sniffed at, especially for one such as OiNK which was unlike anything that had come before, and which had faced a complaint to The Press Council and been subjected to the whims of conservative shop owners and critics alike. The cover of this issue feels like a dig at those self-proclaimed stalwarts of decency in its use of a royal image honouring the comic. Little did we know there were only 18 issues to come after this. It’s heartbreaking to think of that now in hindsight. Best make sure we don’t miss any, right?

Out of all the comics I had a regular order for back then only a few saw this milestone (OiNK – 68 issues, Transformers – 332 issues, The Real Ghostbusters – 193 issues, Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends – still going with 819 issues at the time of writing!). That didn’t mean I loved the others any less of course; one of my all-time favourites lasted only 6 regular issues. At the time of OiNK #50’s release it really did feel like it was here forever, that nothing could stop it and with a new found confidence in the weekly I couldn’t wait for the next 50!

In a few issues there’ll be a look at the positive feedback the comic had received in the press to counteract those aforementioned eejits, reinforcing that feeling of the comic’s success and it being here to stay. OiNK would now go from strength to strength as a weekly, finally producing wildly different issues once again. The next one of these will be reviewed next Saturday, 18th February 2023.


It’s been a long time since we’ve had the pleasure of a Jeremy Banx cover, the last one was way back in #19 at the beginning of last year. His covers hold a special place in my piggy heart since his was the first one I ever saw in #14. For this issue’s front page Burp the Smelly Alien is giving himself an all-over body workout, quite literally. But despite Burp’s starring role, the biggest headline is given to Pete Throb of Pete and his Pimple.

Inside this issue is an eight-page pull-out comic all about one of OiNK’s most popular characters, Lew Stringer’s creation who had really captured the imaginations of the young readers. He certainly had when I was in the target audience, he quickly became one of my favourites and I was hugely excited by this issue. We’ll come back to him in a bit, first up Burp earns his front page stardom with another unique double-page spread.

It’s a delightfully written tale of our smelly friend simply enjoying himself while on holiday. It just so happens that holiday is on a distant, desolate planet made entirely of sand. The first page alone would’ve made for a great strip, with its atmospheric captions and imaginative representations of this wonder of the universe, only for it to house Burp’s holiday ranch! Naturally. But we also have him enjoying his unique vacation before, as always, he inadvertently causes a bit of chaos.

Just try to explain this one and why it’s so funny to anyone who has never read OiNK!

If there was an ongoing theme to Burp’s strips it would be how his good natured intentions always produce the opposite results. Whether it’s his never-ending quest to ingratiate himself with us humans or annoying the large god-like beings of the universe while doing a deep space tour. Here, even on a lifeless planet he still somehow ruin things, even if only for himself this time. This is one of my favourite Burps. It’s just such a unique strip, but then again most of Jeremy’s are; just try to explain this one and why it’s so funny to anyone who has never read OiNK!

At the beginning of the latest Psycho Gran it appears David Leach has decided not to follow the issue’s theme of health and fitness, unless you go down the route of saying an explosion does affect people’s wellbeing. But if we’ve learned anything since her debut in #15, it’s that we should never try to predict or assume with Psycho.

Nice to see another little cameo from Albert, the long-suffering life partner of our little old dear. Also, did you pick up on the gag of what’s really on those papers held by newsreaders? In case you’re wondering what the shout out in the title panel is all about, no David hadn’t finally been let go from a prisoner of war camp. David tells me he’d had an emergency appendix operation in the Prince of Wales hospital in Bridgend in Wales and had ended up in for a week, so wanted to give a big thanks to everyone there.

Regular readers might recall the Scare Boars from #13, the first Hallowe’en issue. They were GBH’s take on the Care Bears, one of the 80s’ biggest toy and cartoon franchises. Ingeniously created, co-creator/co-editor Patrick Gallagher still owns one of them to this day and posted a video of them together last year, which you can see in the review. A year later and GBH are back with more cuddly monstrosities, this time with the Crummi Boars, Spotti, Snotti, Potti and Scratchi.

This time it was a riff on Disney’s Gummi Bears, another toy and cartoon hit, which themselves were clearly inspired by the success of the Care Bears, although officially they were based on the chewy sweets. Of course, once something became a hit with the UK kids of the 80s OiNK was ready to pounce. With a lot of the original names ending with an ‘I’ and each one having a very specific, narrow characteristic it was the perfect franchise to rip into. Again, as with many of the props used in OiNK’s madverts recently, the little details are superb.

“See Janice and John ignore a warning sign.”

Janice and John and the thermonuclear reactor (Mark Rodgers)

The Crummi Boars may have been a spiritual sequel to a previous madvertisement, but in this issue we get an actual sequel to a much earlier strip. In fact, this issue’s story starring Janice and John was mentioned way back in #7! Why did it take 34 issues to arrive? Well, if you’ve been following along over this past year-and-a-bit you’ll know all about their original story leading two people (only two) to complain about OiNK to The Press Council, which the comic then responded to in #28!

While the complaint was rejected these things can take a while to work through, hence why there was a 21 issue gap between the two stories. The editorial team would’ve been just right not to print another until the outcome of the complaint was known. By now more than enough time had passed, even after OiNK’s cheeky rasp to the complainers, so finally here’s the long-promised second part of Uncle Pigg’s Reading Course, Janice and John and the thermonuclear reactor, written by Mark Rodgers.

Unfortunately they wouldn’t return to face the demons from hell, but the two we got were great fun. The first is my favourite, possibly because it was the first and made a bigger impression, or possibly because of the furore it created at the time (which has been wrongly attributed to OiNK’s much later cancellation). Either way, it’s a shame we won’t see any more of Trevor Johnson’s great way of spoofing classic children’s picture panel stories. In fact, we won’t see any more of Trevor at all until the second OiNK Book, which most of us didn’t read until after OiNK’s final issue!

But this isn’t the last you’ll hear of his work, specifically Janice and John, on the blog. There’s a very special post planned for next year which takes a behind-the-scenes look into the complaint made against OiNK and the process between OiNK Publishing and IPC Magazines, thanks to insider information and documents provided to me by co-creator/co-editor Mark Rodgers’ wife Helen Jones! For now though, let’s take a peak at some other highlights before our main event.

Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins’ cross-country training for his new football career takes a turn for the worse when sliding on a cowpat isn’t the worst thing to happen, Ireland represents on the Grunts page, we take a closer look at the lead singer of The Slugs (although I wouldn’t recommend getting too close) and in the penultimate chapter of The Spectacles of Doom versus The Monocle of Mayhem Andy Roper’s detailed art (right down to the monocle on the skull flags) is once again the star as the nasties assemble for battle.

With all of these highs, it’d be quite the feat to outshine them all. It might even require a character to have their very own pull-out comic to stand out. What luck! That’s exactly what Pete Throb of Pete and his Pimple fame has in this very issue, an eight-page mini-comic. According to Lew Stringer, the idea was Mark Rodgers’, who wanted to do an occasional series of such pull-outs spotlighting (no pun intended) different characters.

I never pulled the comic out, I didn’t want to destroy one of my beloved OiNKs, although I was tempted to colour in the cover. (I never did.) Inside was a five-page Pete story by Lew, made up of three strip pages and a centre-spread poster of him and his pals, including object of Tom Thug’s desire Zeta (Pete’s sister), fighting the alien Zitbusters! This was followed by Zeta’s pimply problem column, Acne Activity Time with art by Ed McHenry and a look at Pete’s Acne Ancestors written by Lew but drawn by Mike Higgs.

Pete was always one of my childhood favourites, although I wouldn’t be such a fan of pimples a few years later. I wasn’t alone, with Pete frequently climbing to the top spots (again, no pun intended, I swear) of reader polls, so he was a natural choice for the first of these little specials. Unfortunately there’d never be a second mini-comic, which could be because of the changes that would come to OiNK when it went weekly (less pages) and then monthly (some main contributors left and some strips were given multi-page stories anyway).

Just as well our only one is quite brilliant then! Below is the Pete strip and the poster which made up the main battle. A battle in a Pete and his Pimple story? Not only that, he was battling scary aliens called Clive, Trevor, Darren and Sharon on their never-ending quest to enslave all those who dare have pimply complexions throughout the cosmos. It also gives us a little look into Pete’s everyday life including his local greasy hang out and his equally spotty pals.

If you’re going to create a special comic inside an OiNK you may as well go bigger and zanier than ever with the main story, right? Lew certainly did. As always, it pays to read it slowly and pick up on all the little sight gags, such as Shaun’s t-shirt slogan, the Greasy Spoon’s menu and of course the slap up feeds at the end. My personal favourite moment is Pete’s heroic speech, a moment where for once he can be the saviour instead of the nuisance, cut short by the fact the aliens had already left.

Of course, all of that glowing praise in the final panel would be short lived and we’d be back to normal next time. I think this issue shows more than any other why OiNK should’ve stayed in this format as a fortnightly 32-page comic with subjects to tailor the contents around. As a child, the news below was exciting (and I can remember my mum giving off that she’d have to pay for it twice as much) but little were we to know the news would lead to some not-so-welcome changes too.

Still, there are another three favourite issues to come, one of which could take the crown as the best regular issue of all going from my memory of reading it as a child! Plus next month contains the greatest OiNK of all! Ooh, I’m all excited again. Next up though is the Fantastic Fashion Issue with a quite ‘Mad’ cover to match. It’ll be up for review on Monday 28th November 2022.