Tag Archives: Eric Wilkinson (Wilkie)

OiNK! #40: HAM-MER HORROR

In 1986 OiNK’s timing was impeccable when it came to the spooky season and the relevant issue ended up being #13. A year later another happy coincidence saw the release date of the 40th issue as Saturday 31st October, perfect for their second Hallowe’en special. Kicking things off is the triumphant return of Ralph Shephard (not seen since #23 and who wouldn’t be again until the second annual), an artist who drew so many great spoofs of childhood favourites in the early days of the comic. What an incredible cover this is!

Ralph’s bewitching front page is a fondly remembered classic, a gorgeous piece which takes advantage of the little bit of extra space the new smaller logo gives, and that background colouring effect is just beautiful, adding plenty of atmosphere and really making it stand out on the shelves. (It’s also the second cover in a row for Harry the Head.) From now on we’d get one banner along the top instead of several, the cover images no longer needing gaps. I think it makes for a bolder, clearer cover for the rest of the fortnightlies.

For me the stars of this issue are the smaller mini-strips; there are just so many of them this time out and every one is a cracker. This does make my job of select only a few choice highlights incredibly difficult of course but it’s a nice problem to have. On the inside front cover is Roger Rental, He’s Completely Mental as ever drawn by Ian Knox, now written by new OiNK scribe Vaughan Brunt.

May has passed away in recent years and it’s been nice to relive memories of reading OiNKs at her house

It’s strange to think how tiny little strips like this, with just two panels and two lines of dialogue, can stick in the brain for decades to come. This one certainly went on to do just that. Then again, Roger was such a memorable character. Ever since his first appearance in #3 all his strips have been genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, the premise letting the writers’ imaginations run completely wild. The job of writing Roger’s ability to turn any everyday situation into the complete opposite was in good hands with Vaughan.

This issue is very memorable for me as a whole, I can remember reading it over and over again that Hallowe’en and in particular at my Aunt May’s house, a lovely lady who wasn’t actually related but was my mum’s best friend and so got the honorary title of ‘Aunt’. May has passed away in recent years and it’s been nice to relive memories of reading OiNKs at her house (see also #37). This strip of The Adventures of Death I can remember giggling about while tucking into the plate of biscuits and juice May had brought out while I read.

Charlie Brooker’s Death was a great little character and a firm favourite from the moment he first appeared. Having been the star of the half-page Next Issue promo in the previous issue I was surprised to see he wasn’t given more than a quarter page here, but that’s all the space Charlie needed. Both young me and older me loved this particular entry. I am aware of how it might seem, describing how this particular character brings back a specific memory of a late friend, but I also think there’s some kind of lovely poetry about that.

Not something Charlie would’ve considered about the character when he created these strips I’m sure. The Adventures of Death is the perfect OiNK twist on a traditional comic character. We’d had fun monsters before in other comics but to turn the Grim Reaper himself into a funny little character like this is very much in keeping with the comic’s ethos. We loved him! Unfortunately, unbeknownst to his fans this was his last regular appearance after first appearing in #35. He’d pop back for just six more sporadically over the next year.

Another character perfectly suited for the theme is Dead Fred, the friendly undead zombie created by Eric Wilkinson (Wilkie). He contradicts my previous comments about memory though, because I thought he was a regular in nearly every issue, but instead he only rose up from the grave every now and again. Maybe he was comfy down there. But he couldn’t miss the Hallowe’en issue. I’ve only shown a couple of panels of his before so he’s well overdue for a full strip, one which reminds me of the attendant at the Ghost Train in Barry’s Amusements in Portrush as a child!

Just like Death, Fred would appear in twelve issues altogether although his were spaced apart in the expanse between #19 and #64, which boggles my mind. I know I did reread many of my OiNKs throughout the time it was being published and that must’ve messed up my memories somewhat. I always loved Wilkie’s art in Fred’s strips, his detailed textures conveying rotting flesh, clothes and bones perfectly. Under any other artist I don’t think the jokes would work quite as well, the contradiction between his friendly nature and his rotting corpse are what makes it funny.

What a delight to turn the page and see a J.T.Dogg (Malcolm Douglas) poster. It’s been far too long since we enjoyed those OiNK Superstar Posters of his in the very first issues so it was a lovely surprise to see this ‘Superswine’ poster of an OiNK take on the classic Dracula, complete with his own Hell Hog? The colouring here is as ever stunning. I love the skin tones and cloak which give a lovely gloomy yet somehow colourful finish. But just look at those gravestones and the finish Malcolm has given them. Simply stunning work.

The only negative I can think of for this poster is that it wasn’t the return of the poster series. In fact, it would be the last poster by J.T. Dogg, although the original ones would be reprinted in the first few monthlies which is when I enjoyed them all for the first time as a kid. This Hallowe’en issue isn’t short of other highlights too, Hadrian Vile has me thinking about my friends’ latest addition to their family (and her older brother), and after Burp‘s tractor beam (#37) he has more inventive weaponry to show off. The biggest laugh of the whole issue comes from a background gag in Rubbish Man, and Jimmy Flynn’s strip plays up to an old horror moving staple.

Back in July the free Crash magazine edition of OiNK ran a special competition. The Mutant Space Barbarian Magic Warriors of Doom strip ended with the readers being asked to send in drawings of what they thought had turned hero Macho Mike into a big pile of blancmange. Suitably enough the editorial team have decided to use the Hallowe’en issue to show off the winners, taking over one half of a Grunts spread. There were ten altogether, each of which received an OiNK t-shirt and a copy of the OiNK computer game for their chosen format.

The strip they were drawing the conclusion to was illustrated by J.T. Dogg, so no pressure, right? You can’t deny the pig pals had skills. My favourites are ‘Squirty Bogweazel’ by Glenn Taylor of Gwynedd and ‘Molly Slocombe Intergalactic Mother-in-law’ by Michael Firth of Wolverhampton. Just a shame they’re so small on the page really. Special mention to ‘Uglay’ by Plymouth’s Danial Garside who dare I say is obviously a fan of Tom Paterson. Also, have a look at Noel Watson’s fantastic multi-headed beast on the other page! Quality reader contributions all round.

Lew Stringer’s Pete and his Pimple gets a half-page this issue but just across from him on the opposite page (right beside said strip when the comic is opened out) is Night of the Vampire! written by Lew and drawn by the ever entertaining Steve Gibson. With OiNK’s artists having such a wide range of styles I always like it when they take on each other’s characters, and Steve’s interpretation of one of Lew’s ‘popping’ up here in a particularly Steve-like fashion is great!

Little did I know the very next issue would bring a lot more of this sort of thing as different artists would take on Pete Throb in a special pull-out comic dedicated to the fan favourite, as advertised in the Next Issue promo here. That’s something you won’t want to miss so make sure to follow the blog.

On the same spread is this little treasure from Jeremy Banx. Regular readers of the comic (or of this blog) will know all about the surrealist humour of Jeremy’s strips, in particular Mr Big Nose. From toothpaste squeezing competitions and starring as Rambo in Little Bo-Peep to the famous Keith the dolphin, there’s been a lot of memorable strangeness and he appears to be upping that with each new appearance. (Ploppy puns throughout the comic drawn by Patrick Gallagher.)

Where would you even begin if you attempted to describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it? The poltergeist idea itself is a brilliant one and looks hilarious in that final panel, complete with the one who let go of the globe I bet you didn’t notice was floating. In those first images using Mr Big Nose’s face on the planet and the globe to tell us the story is weird but it works. Brilliantly. It’s heartbreaking to think this character will disappear from the regular comic after the next four issues!

But let’s not think about that yet, let’s enjoy the rest of the year and these simply perfect issues of OiNK we were getting every fortnight. This one ends with a truly classic OiNK back page, the latest spoof movie poster. Written by Charlie Brooker and again drawn so perfectly by Simon Thorp, it’s one which I particularly enjoyed at the time. In fact, while I hadn’t seen the original movie when I first saw this, it would become my favourite of Simon’s mini-posters as a child because the next year I became obsessed with the cartoon and Marvel UK comic. Take a butchers at this.

I can remember re-discovering this many months later after I’d eventually seen the movie and thought this was hilarious. Somehow, Simon has perfectly captured Bill Murray in pig form. It’s just a genius piece of work. Believe it or not, despite how great this is, as an adult it isn’t even my favourite of Simon’s pieces any more. That honour goes to a certain Half Pig, Half Machine hero who I’ll definitely be showing off when we get to that issue.

As we tear ourselves away from page 32 that’s a wrap on the latest OiNK and it’s been a genuine pleasure to relive every single thing this has had to offer. Seriously, if you haven’t read a full issue since the 80s (or perhaps never have) then I’d heartily recommend #40 as the ideal starting point to your inevitable collection. The next issue, complete with pull-out Pete comic, is the Health & Fitness special and its review will be here on Monday 14th November 2022.

Just to finish off this superb Hallowe’en feast here’s a suitably terrifying mini-strip from Mark Rodgers and Ian Jackson. See you next time.

COMiNG UP: OiNK! #39

In just a few days on the blog the next issue of OiNK will be up for review and this one will really play with your mind, it’s the Games and Puzzles Issue. You know you’re in for a treat when you see a front cover by arguably OiNK’s number one artist Ian Jackson, in which he draws other cartoonists’ characters as special chess pieces!

Inside, Rubbish Man takes on The Puzzler in a brilliant spoof of 60s Batman, the Dice Maniac returns for his second (and last) appearance, Harry the Head takes a flying leap through the entire comic all for a special competition and The Spectacles of Doom brings us the perfect spoof of superb 80s fantasy movies. None of it should be missed, so click the ‘Follow’ button (bottom-right as you scroll) to subscribe via email or join us on Facebook or Instagram to be notified when the review goes live on Monday 17th October 2022.

OiNK! #34: PIG PALS, HO!

This latest issue of OiNK marks the end of an era and a particular milestone in the comic’s run, neither of which we were aware of when we first bought it back in 1987. First up, this would be the final issue published by IPC Magazines, the company which took that initial chance on the whole concept and it had paid off for them! IPC were very happy with OiNK’s sales of roughly 100,000 per issue, the press coverage and the celebrity endorsements it had inspired. But now changes were coming, as you’ll see soon.

As for the milestone, it couldn’t have been foretold at the time. OiNK would run to 68 issues altogether so after reading this edition I’m now officially at the halfway point of the regular issues (just 18 days before this issue, 21st July was the halfway point date-wise too). Where has the time gone? I’m particularly looking forward to the remaining issues from this year because they include some of my very favourites and of course there’s also the first book, but I’ll go into that in more depth in a future post.

‘Butch-arr the Ever-Cleaving’ on Ed McHenry’s cover is just hilarious

The Next Issue promo in #33 starred Weedy Willy so it’s rather strange to see a distinct lack of him in this issue. The adventure theme isn’t as prevalent as previous subjects, in fact most of the regulars ignore it or just tangentially relate to it. Thunderpigs is the main themed strip but unfortunately it’s not the best. There have definitely been (and will be) better spoofs, many of the jokes here are rehashes of previous ideas (the main gag is a saturation of overpriced merchandise) but it did produce Butch-arr the Ever-Cleaving on Ed McHenry’s cover which is just hilarious.

I think OiNK’s three-panel strips would make a great digital collection of quick-fire, random, spontaneous gags, guaranteed to have plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Probably my favourite strip amongst all of these mini marvels was Roger Rental, He’s Completely Mental. Written by a variety of people throughout the run but always drawn by Ian Knox, Roger’s entry for this issue was written by Howard Osborn whose work I haven’t featured on the blog yet.

A prolific writer for the comic, his scripts would appear in 19 issues altogether, although he’d often contribute a few strips to each one. First appearing in #23 and staying with OiNK through to its conclusion, Howard’s name would be attached to many of the mini-strips from here on.

From a writer’s first blog appearance to a punk band’s.

OiNK has been described by co-creator/co-editor Tony Husband as the punk band of comics. With him being a fan of the music genre, I can see where Tony is coming from. OiNK came out around the same time as the MADchester music scene and was seen by many as an integral part of it thanks to the likes of Frank Sidebottom, Marc Riley and the music superstars often photographed reading it. Even when OiNK was cancelled after two-and-a-half years Tony said it was better for it to burn out than fade away, that punk attitude at the forefront right to the very end.

With this attitude it was only natural that a strip starring a punk band would eventually make its way onto the pages. Their first appearance was actually last issue, when a straight laced local band were subjected to punk music and made a startling transformation into The Slugs. Always written by Tony and drawn by Les ‘Lezz’ Barton, The Slugs would be regulars in 24 OiNKs, only missing the occasional issue until the end of the weeklies, never making the shift into the monthlies for some reason. They’d quickly become a fan favourite and this sophomore strip shows why.

For me, rather than Thundercats, the main highlight of this issue has to be the following.

While it may not be linked to the theme either, Tom Thug Meets Pete and his Pimple is a hilarious addition and something of a surprise because until I read OiNK a few years back for the original blog I’d no recollection of this happening. We’ve already seen Zeta in a Tom strip before in #13 when he crossed over with Weedy Willy, but only now do we find out she’s actually Pete Throb’s sister. (How could we not know!) Between Tom’s attempts to appear spotty, to the very satisfying ending for both characters, this was surely a hit amongst pig pals at the time!

Lew tells me he simply approached co-editor Mark Rodgers with the idea of having Tom and Pete finally meet and was given the green light. He didn’t want to do it in a typical Beano style though, where one would simply guest star in the other’s strip. Instead, Lew wanted it to be more of an event, giving them equal billing in a larger than normal strip. “I liked the flexibility of OiNK allowing things like this,” Lew told me. “Readers never knew what to expect and anything could happen in each issue.” How true. We loved it!


“Slurp! Slurp! That’s nectar, that is – slurp!”

Burp’s bath tap

As always, here’s a quick glance at some individual panel highlights from the issue, beginning with Burp’s plumbing problem, The Amazin’ Spider-Guy has some very authentic special skills and in The Street-Hogs our not-very-well-disguised baddie finally reveals himself. Thought to have drowned in a vat of his own apple sauce back in #11, instead Don Poloney just ate his way out, hence his somewhat different shape. There are some absolute treats in this issue.

Interestingly, in the 2000s Lew would go on to draw the real Spider-Man in Marvel Rampage and (after its cancellation) Spectacular Spider-Man with his Mini Marvel humour strips, following in the tradition of Marvel comics such as Transformers, Action Force and The Real Ghostbusters to include funnies from Lew. If only Panini would include such extra treats in their monthly Spider-Man and Batman comics we get today. To see some examples of Lew’s Mini Marvel strips you can check out this post on his personal blog.

As mentioned on the previous Grunts page, this issue includes the latest Butcher Watch update from Jeremy Banx, although now it’s been renamed Cleaver Flash! This is in response to how the young readership had taken to the terrifying villain, Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith who’d originally been just another butcher when he first popped up in #14. This character and his attempts to cull the pig population of our newly porcine-friendly UK had really captured the imagination.

When you think about how pigs were depicted as citizens of the world in OiNK it was a bold move by Jeremy to depict Jimmy as so relentless, the black blood on these pages (Jimmy was always standing in pools of the stuff) all the more shocking and as a young pig pal these strips were the perfect mix of thrills and laughs. The victim’s ridiculous story while his face is constantly obscured by the microphone raises the giggles, followed by the slaughter of the piggy police, then the final reveal and the ending has us almost hearing that blood-curdling scream.

No comic character is as creepy as Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith and I think it’s clear Jeremy had great fun pushing the envelope as much as he could in a kid’s comic with him. It’s all rounded off with that famous tagline under the final panels. With this, the Lewniverse crossover and The Street-Hogs we’ve obviously had our fill of fantastic double-page spreads for a fortnight, right? Wrong. This issue we were spoiled with larger strips and on the middle pages was yet another treat, The Styeux Tapestry, led into with this introduction.

If you remember your history, you’ll know the Bayeux Tapestry depicted the events that led up to the Norman Conquest of England, with the Duke of Normandy challenging King Harold which of course led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. While the introduction sets the historical scene, containing as many name puns as you could hope for, the main event is something else! Written by Tony Husband and so brilliantly brought to life by Eric ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson, this is just a wonderful middle-page spread indeed.

Historical satire isn’t something you’d expect to see in your average humour comic, but just to complete the cliché OiNK was not your average comic. (If you haven’t caught on to this by now there’s not much hope for you.) To this day I think this would look superb in a fancy frame, something to give the illusion of a serious piece of art until whichever visitor to your home takes a closer look. If anyone asks you to describe OiNK and you’re struggling to summarise its uniqueness, I say just show them this. The Styeux Tapestry perfectly sums up the sense of humour we grew up with.

We come to the end of yet another review and I’m excited for what’s ahead. Most of my memories of OiNK from the 80s come from the second half of the run and my favourites are from the latter half of 1987, the very year I’m covering right now in this real time read through. The issues to come over the next five months have stuck with me all these years and I’ll be going into more depth about that in an extra post soon. As for #35, the Terrific Travel Issue review will be here on the blog from Monday 22nd August 2022.