Tag Archives: Eric Wilkinson (Wilkie)


Lew Stringer brings us what would ultimately be his final OiNK cover, not that anyone knew this at the time of course. Tom Thug’s threat has the shine taken away by the good dog on the page with him, all of which could take our attention away from the fact the comic had gone back up to its pre-weekly (and pre-page-reduction) price of 35p. This made OiNK 7p more expensive than its Fleetway Publication peers, who also had 8 more pages. Today, I know this all sounds like it shouldn’t matter but back when most of us received 50p-£1 pocket money a week, this could make all the difference.

But inside OiNK still had plenty of content and to me it still truly felt like better value for money. There’s a wealth of reading material in this issue, including the conclusion to Tom’s Crude Crew story which began in Whizzer and Chips and carried into the two previous issues of OiNK, a superb middle page spread for Dibney World by Simon Thorp, a gorgeous Dead Fred strip (no really) and the return of a favourite character, albeit not in the form I was expecting. First up though, Hieronymous Van Hellsong’s prequel by Jeremy Banx steps up a gear.

As always with this character it’s deliciously dark humour at it finest. Beginning with the nameless executive for who death is just a hurdle to overcome, and then to see Van Hellsong kill himself in order to go to hell to chase down his contract is a bit of a shock. However, all of this dark, twisted humour is perfectly offset by that last panel and his silly realisation, taking us from the dark to the daft in an instant. It’s classic Banx.

“Dibney characters act out historical highlights of US history [such as] The Slave Trade, The Bay of Pigs Crisis [and] Watergate!”

Ron Dibney World, Simon Thorp

Dark humour was something we weren’t normally exposed to as kids and OiNK revelled in it. In fact, Jeremy Banx in particular did, with some hilarious moments in his Burp strips that involved over-the-top gore that was just so ridiculous we never saw it as gore in the first place. His first Van Hellsong mini-series finished with our hero being killed by a notorious butcher villain and turned into a string of linked sausages and used to swing away from the authorities. These were the perfect introduction to black humour for me and many pig pals.

Back in #53 future Viz editor Simon Thorp wrote and drew Outlet-by-the-Sea, a GBH Madvertisement of a shockingly poor holiday destination that poked fun at English seaside resorts. Now he’s back for another, this time a collaboration between GBH and Thomas Crook and it’s bigger and better. Not only is it a double-page spread in the middle of the issue, Simon is taking aim at the biggest and grandest of holiday resorts, Walt Disney World.

The rickety British Rail train is back from Outlet-by-the-Sea too. It must’ve been a favourite of Simon’s. I love the way the ‘Animation Complex’ is the smallest, least impressive building in the whole park which is a dig at Disney World’s priorities. Then we have the large golf ball-like Epcot spoof called ‘Mom’s Apple Pie World’ apparently made in Taiwan, which could either be a silly joke or could very well be making a statement for the older readers, take your pick.

It’s what’s inside this building that I find the funniest and most cutting. We live in the modern world of 2023 where American politicians of a certain type are trying to whitewash (literally) the teaching of American history, so to have something with such a wholesome name as ‘Mom’s Apple Pie World Heritage Trail’ have that list of attractions feels like a particularly contemporary joke. You can clearly see Simon’s later Viz work in its early stages here. I just love it.

Now it’s time to conclude one of our mini-series.

Of course Tom’s scheme had to backfire in spectacular fashion, he’s a bully and bullies always lose after all. So we begin this final episode of Tom Thug and his Crude Crew with the gang all assembled and ready for bovver for the very first time, but by the end of the page it’s already fallen apart and Tom ends up in a very familiar state. The key joke here, played out more than once, is how bullies are all essentially cowards and will always ensure they’re picking on those they believe are less capable of fighting back.

This backfires throughout and each time shows us why everyone loved Tom’s strip, especially when you’re a kid and may have had to deal with bullies yourself. From Braddock trying to steal some grub while Tom and Daisy panic because he hasn’t picked a “wimp” (guest starring Mauler Morrison again from #54), to the crew deciding an infant school is the perfect target, the message is clear. Finally, it’s probably a coincidence but that verbal noise “OWK!” Tom makes when he’s trampled on caught my eye because I see it alternatively as ‘OWK!’ and ‘OINK’!

Whatever name Charlie Brooker gave his chain-smoking victim of The Swinelight Zone has been changed to a more familiar one

This has been a simply brilliant series and I’m sad it’s over but there are plenty of laughs to come from Tom in future issues, particularly in the monthlies if memory serves. Sticking with this issue for now, in The Life and Times of Harry the Head (his first full-page since the weeklies began) we get a little behind-the-scenes look at the making of The OiNK! 45 record and whatever name Charlie Brooker gave his chain-smoking victim of The Swinelight Zone has been changed to a more familiar one.

You can see here that Steve Gibson’s name has been pasted in after the strip was completed. I asked Steve about this and he tells me he used to smoke at the time and fellow cartoonist Marc Riley (Harry the Head‘s creator and star of Snatcher Sam) hated that, so while he was doing some pasting work with the editors he changed this character’s name as a joke. Last week we learned how the OiNK editors played a little joke on Lew too. I love little in-jokes like these and it all adds to that anarchic OiNK feeling!

A humour strip about a zombie and his undead friends isn’t something you’d imagine having gorgeous artwork but Eric ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson really delivers this week with his latest Dead Fred. Written by Ken F Sutherland, like Harry above it’s not often we’d see Fred get so much space. This page shows he really was able to carry the larger format. Unfortunately though, instead of more full-page strips for the character this would actually be his penultimate story! One more in the second monthly issue to come and then he’d finally rest in peace.

Certainly the last thing I expected from a Dead Fred strip was what on the surface looks like a moving war story regarding the Battle of the Somme.

Of course we know all of this wartime storytelling, complete with art that in some panels wouldn’t look out of place in Commando, must be leading to a joke and we’re not let down. In fact, I think the serious nature of the majority of the strip makes the opening and closing panels all the more silly by comparison and, I’ll say it again, I think it’s gorgeous. Just a few pages later we reach the back cover and some more unique art that you would only have seen in OiNK, with the return (at last!) of Hadrian Vile.

We’ve had some special pages from the character before, such as guides to everything from orchestras to babies, holiday photo albums, school magazines, letters to Santa and even a map of Scotland. But for almost all of the first 50 issues we enjoyed his Sekret Diary entries and this was what he was known for. Now, after a five issue hiatus he’s back, with Mark Rodgers is writing and Ian Jackson is drawing Hadrian but the diary has been dropped in favour of a new series, Vidiots – or Hadrian Vile’s Interleckshual guide to Tellyvision (a one-off of which had appeared in #23).

Love those little caricatures of Mark and Ian! It’s great to see Ian back after he also seemed to take a break lately (apart from a couple of mini-strips). But knowing what’s to come it’s sad to know that apart from one monthly entry and another in the second OiNK Book, the diary series was for all intents and purposes finished. If OiNK had remained weekly perhaps we’d see it return as co-editor Patrick Gallagher told us about other characters that had left us.

Unfortunately, Ian seems to move on to pastures new for the most part after this series too, so let’s enjoy his work while we can. It would remain on the back page for six issues altogether, finishing in #61. I did miss the insights into his family life and these were a much quicker read than a full strip, but at the time I figured it was just a temporary series and the diary would return straight after. So I really enjoyed having something different from one of my very favourite comics characters ever to finish off each issue with. I intend to enjoy them all over again and this first one is a very promising start.

Another daft newsagent reservation coupon by Patrick rounds off our review and looking at the most recent weekly OiNKs you can see, even with eight pages less, how much more rammed with content they were compared to others, and just how varied that content could be from page to page, and issue to issue. A recipe for success if ever there was one, surely. We’ll touch upon what led to OiNK’s eventual fate in a future post but for now I’m really enjoying my weekly trip down memory lane.

But we’ve more to come before #57! Regular readers will remember we used to have ‘Coming Up’ posts before each issue, back when OiNK had actual Next Issue promos. Since turning weekly these were dropped (the comic didn’t have themes to promote after all) but in three days on Monday 27th you’ll see their return. Well, for one edition anyway, the second OiNK Holiday Special, the review for which will be up on Wednesday 29th March! After that, #57 will be here on Friday 31st March 2023. A busy week ahead! Great, isn’t it?

OiNK! #52: PiNK MiRROR

The first cover drawn by Chris Sievey, better known as Frank Sidebottom, is a delight of what must’ve been time-consuming details. As a kid I always loved his unique style but I don’t think I gave it the appreciation it really deserved. Look at the panelling in the wooden fence and each individual window in those distant buildings, never mind the brilliant colour work all completed with felt tip pens. I’ve already discussed previously that co-editor Patrick Gallagher told me how long Chris would spend perfecting his OiNK work, and you can see that right there on the cover to #52.

On the Grunts page, under a list of the most popular characters (every reader who wrote in was asked to include a coupon with their top three strips) is news that some of those listed will be returning in new mini-series soon, namely Street-Hogs, The Spectacles of Doom and Rubbish Man. In #50’s review I touched upon characters some cartoonists had rested. It’s interesting to see the once-regular Rubbish Man alongside two strips that were always mini-series. Perhaps this was how they’d get around having fewer pages for the large amount of characters readers wanted to see.

So, what about those showbiz scoops of Frank’s?

My favourite part of this is the difference between the Springsteen headline and what the story actually is; it’s very clever and very funny, reminding me of those headlines you’ll see from certain websites where every word has a capital letter. You know the type. Nice to see the Smokebusters still going strong after first popping up in #46 (and of course the special edition) and the huge headline on the cover is reduced to a tiny side panel with another hilarious non-story behind it all, aping the tabloid press of the day. (Of the present too.)

Elsewhere there’s a fantastic photo collage of Frank’s time recording a sketch for Saturday morning children’s TV show No.73. I loved that show and the page in question will be part of a special post later in the year. That’s all I’m going to say for now, other than it’ll be worth the wait. Back to the issue at hand and underneath a three-quarter-page Pete and his Pimple (backing up what I said for the last two issues about the return of a more varied layout to the comic) is the latest Cowpat County from Davy Francis.

Last week we had a full-page colour strip, now a quarter-page black and white mini-strip but fans wouldn’t have felt short-changed. This was the nature of OiNK; your favourites could pop up irregularly, in different formats from longer stories to quick gags such as this. It’s great to have that feel of the fortnightlies back again and to be enjoying it on a weekly basis. Davy is a master of the quick gag strips so that’s another reason I wasn’t disappointed to see Cowpat County in a much tinier space this time, because I knew I was guaranteed a good chortle.

The highlight of this issue for me is Jeremy Banx’s Burp. That shouldn’t be a surprise, I’ve never made a secret of the fact I’m a huge fan of Jeremy’s work, especially his strips for this particular smelly alien from outer space. But if you cast your mind back to the previous review, when I was delighted to see the return of Alvin and found the now-sentient coffin so funny, you’ll understand why this week’s strip was a particular thrill to read.

As always with Burp’s pages it’s very funny from the offset, giving us this surreal experience of a tax assessor coming to his UFO as if that’s a completely normal thing to happen in this man’s day-to-day working life. In fact, as he’s presented with ever more bizarre creatures he doesn’t run off as we’d expect, instead he just gets angrier, the “This is going to cost you, lad” response to the Pet Specimen from Uranus being a particular highlight.

It’s a great pay off that we didn’t even know we needed.

That surprise return is just one of three (well, more if you count his internal organs), having disappeared over the last several months. In earlier issues always seen dangling from Burp’s belt, here Jeremy even gives us an answer to where he’s been. In what must be one of Burp’s many inventions the specimen can now go anywhere he pleases, giving us a reason as to why he hasn’t been seen dangling. But it’s the other two characters I loved seeing again the most.

Alvin popping up again was a hoot, so certain was I that we’d seen the last of him (I’ve been wrong on that before, right regular readers?) but then to see the coffin, after I said how funny it would be to see these two even just hanging out in the background of future strips, is just hilarious! The coffin even has a name now. I know I’ve said this before but this is one of my very favourite Burp strips, but only because it works so well after reading all of the previous instalments. It’s a great pay off that we didn’t even know we needed.

Cherry-picking some other highlights from the issue I’m not sure how I feel about the word “crap” in The Slugs. While according to Uncle Pigg last week the audience for OiNK was changing from what was originally intended and it was always meant to be the punk rock of children’s comics, it was still a children’s comic. Can you imagine if Whizzer and Chips used this word? It’d have been all over the tabloids. So yes, I’m not sure how I feel about that. We’ll see how the comic evolves over the next while and come back to this I think.

Elsewhere, there’s a wonderfully dark yet silly moment as Billy the Pig continues his search for his rustled family, and in Tom Thug there’s a surprise return for big brother Ernie who first popped up seven days ago. This time he’s off for good though, when we find out he’s charged with being AWOL and in his final panel the character we’ve come to know for these two issues disappears completely! Speaking with Lew, he’d forgotten all about Ernie. He was never mentioned again, even in all the years Tom was a regular in Buster.

This is a phenomenal feat for someone still at school, to be writing so much for a mainstream comic.

Billy Bang, Brian Luck He’s Really Unlucky, a quiz called Are You a Compulsive Liar?, Transmogrifying Tracey, The Adventures of Death and a GBH Madvertisement all have one thing in common in this issue. They’re all written by Charlie Brooker. This is a phenomenal feat for someone still at school, to be writing so much for a mainstream comic. We obviously know of his incredible talent and genius comedic writing in later years but one look at this GBH Azid page and you can see even as a teenager he was already there!

This is simply a brilliant page, Charlie’s excellent script expertly brought to life by Eric ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson and his unique textured style. Obviously the OiNK editors saw something in the young Black Mirror creator to give him his first paying job in the first place, but with how many times I’m seeing his name already (I knew he contributed a lot to the later monthlies) it’s clear they were impressed with him from the offset and were asking him for more. This is becoming a fascinating look into the early career of one of my very favourite television writers.

We’ll stick with Charlie for one more strip I think and the return of The Adventures of Death, one of those favourite not-as-regular-as-you-remember regular characters. Death was in every edition for six issues to begin with but as Charlie’s repertoire expanded the Grim Reaper became one of several of his creations he had to split his time between. Remember folks, he was still at school! It appears he’s now becoming one of OiNK’s main contributors though. Personally, Death is still a favourite character after all theses years.

I found myself lingering on that penultimate panel. That’s genius comic timing in a comic strip. I can’t help but wonder if OiNK had continued on in this guise and lasted longer than it ultimately did, would Charlie have continued as a contributor, and more so would he have continued with a cartooning career? We’ll never know. What we do know is what Charlie did after OiNK’s eventual cancellation. He produced cartoon art for CeX before moving on to writing for PC Zone magazine, including a comic strip.

From here it was a natural progression into TV’s Games Republic, which led on to his writing for such shows as Channel Four’s The 11 O’Clock Show and the infamous Brass Eye paedophilia special. At the same time he created his TV review column Screen Burn for The Guardian. These career paths would culminate in Screen Wipe, a BBC series I adored and really miss. A phenomenal career which all began with our piggy pink publication.

Patrick’s reservation coupon rounds things off as usual and it’s been another fantastic read this week. I’m even getting used to the 24-page format. There’s more crammed in as the team get used to the frequency increase, so it taken longer to read than the first handful of weeklies. Great stuff. The next OiNK has one of the best covers of the whole run. If you thought what Lew Stringer did with the logo last week was something special, just wait ’til you see what he does with it in just six days on Friday 3rd March 2023. (1988 was a leap year, so we’re missing a day.)


The latest cover from Lew Stringer is one of my most memorable simply because of how inventive it is. Surely OiNK’s was one of the best comic logos ever created, right? Of course I could just be biased, but the logo co-editor Patrick Gallagher created always seemed so bold, so different and so joyful as a kid. It still gives me all the feels today. Tom Thug appearing behind a sea of ‘OiNK’s is a great idea and you can take a look at the original artwork and the overlaying of the logos in a post on Lew’s own blog from 2015 when it was up for sale.

On the Grunts page Uncle Pigg tells us how the audience reading OiNK is rather different from the one it was originally created for, apparently now mainly made up of teenagers and young adults. How he knew this I’m not sure yet but it’s a theme we’ll return to as we inch our way closer to the biggest change in OiNK’s life in the spring. For now let’s concentrate on the issue at hand and inside Tom had a page-and-a-half to cause chaos with and a cut-out mask on the back cover (which you’ll see in a future post) so he’s very much the star this week. His strip has a new guest star too, in the shape of his newly created brother.

Like all the best Tom Thug strips it moves into brilliantly scripted slapstick, only it’s not Tom who’s the main recipient of Lew’s penchant for comic violence this time. Well, apart from the front door, with that funny little detail of the wall going down to the brick from the force of Ernie’s entrance. We’d never see Ernie again but can you blame him for not wanting to return? It’s always fun to see their mum though, what with her being the complete opposite of everyone else in this little dysfunctional family.

“Today’s the day we discover the teddy bear’s graveyard.”

Burp, Jeremy Banx

Reading this now in this digital world we find ourselves in I can’t help but think, given Tom’s attitude towards the army and what he thinks his brother actually does, that our resident bully would definitely have a union flag or a football top as his Twitter profile avatar. Lew has said before Tom would definitely be a cowardly internet troll today. Also, is it just me or does Tom’s mum remind anyone else of their own mum in the 80s? It’s uncanny. Just don’t tell her I said that.

Moving on to Jeremy Banx’s Burp and I was delighted to find out I was wrong about having seen the last of a certain character. Back in #32 in a bid to fix a little girl’s broken teddy bear our friendly smelly alien mistakenly created sentient life. Puzzled by the toy’s lack of organs, skeleton, brain or in fact anything he thought this was the cause of the girl’s heartbreak, so he brought Alvin to life, only for us to see his owner tear him limb from limb in a game of doctor and patient. He returned in #46 and ended up sizzled like a well done steak.

It’s always fun to see another ludicrously-named gadget Burp just happens to have either lying around or invented, with appropriately hilarious results. Will Alvin reappear in the remaining issues that include Burp? Well I’m not going to try and answer that since I was so wrong last time, but given how some of his internal organs have become recurring characters I’d love to see the bear and the coffin pottering about in the background of his spaceship!

I showed the punchline from last issue’s Billy Bang and then realised I haven’t showed a full strip of Billy’s since way back in #4’s review when he was drawn by Shiloe (Viz’s Simon Donald). Nowadays Eric ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson has the duty of exploding the bad tempered lad every week and the puns, which had started to become a little repetitive, are now fresh and funny again thanks to a mixture of writers taking on the task. This week it’s the mysterious ‘Griffiths + Kane’. Also watch out for the facial expression of the fish in the water which I just love.

Billy’s original creator, Mike Knowles, even admitted he never thought the character would last because of the limited premise but he did, passed on to other creative teams as the comic evolved over time. This ever-shifting roster of talent defied odds again and again and he’d remain a regular all the way through to the end. Well, when I say “regular”, even before the reduction in pages (with #45) OiNK’s roster of regular characters was too big for any one issue.

While all other humour comics had a set amount of regular strips which would neatly add up to the amount of pages needed each issue, OiNK was (as always) different. It still had those strips which would appear every fortnight/week, but there were a load of characters that were still deemed regulars who didn’t appear all the time. It was always exciting when your favourites popped up and it kept things fresh, and if OiNK had continued for years and years I’m sure we would’ve seen the return of some of those absent from these weeklies so far.

Here’s a perfect example. Two strips we’d all agree were main OiNK strips. Horace Watkins continues with his ever-more-ridiculous spoof football drama, a strip which appeared in all but one issue. Then we have Cowpat County, which appeared in each of the first 14 issues (plus the preview) but as new characters were introduced it began to appear irregularly, sometimes every issue, sometimes there’d be a gap. Its length also became more fluid, appearing as mini-strips as well as full pages.

I don’t think any pig pal could argue this made Cowpat County any less of a regular strip, it was just the OiNK way of doing things. In fact, it’s been a while since we got a full page from Davy’s Farmer Giles and it’s an extra special treat to see one in colour, complete with what has to be described as a ‘classic’ joke, surely? Speaking of regulars though, the absence of The Sekret Diary ov Hadrian Vile Aged 8 5/8 Years is glaringly obvious! This is the first regular issue he hasn’t appeared in. Some good and bad news about that in a few issues’ time.

I’m sure we can all agree with the trouser press in this situation.

One of those characters introduced back in #15 which OiNK’s line up got a shake-up was Lew Stringer’s Pete and his Pimple. This issue sees the first of the reader suggestions for a solution to Pete Throb’s massive spot problem. First asked for in #45, these ideas came thick and fast for the rest of OiNK’s run, starting points for the majority of Pete’s strips to come. I’ve included this one here for two reasons. The first is simply because it’s the first one and I wanted to mark the occasion, the other is for its co-star, the trouser press. Read it, enjoy, and when you get to the final panel you’ll understand.

I’m sure we can all agree with the trouser press in this situation. (There’s a sentence I never thought I’d say.) The colouring might seem a bit odd on first glance but I think it works. There were a few pages which would feature two set colours on this thinner matt paper instead of the various grades we got even in black and white strips on the glossy pages (up to #35). A lot of traditional comics had examples of one colour being used to make certain pages stand out, usually red.

OiNK’s contemporaries like Buster and Whizzer and Chips had a lot less colour than OiNK despite being eight pages longer, and would still use the one colour to set some of those apart, but mainly they were in black and white. Billy Bang and Tom Thug also use just the two tones in this issue to produce the feel of a colour page. I think Wilkie does it best since he has a lot of water in his strip, and in Tom’s look closer and you’ll notice only the small tub of water and the inflatable ring are coloured. But the effect works, cleverly highlighting these items before they became part of the slapstick.

It was rare for Psycho Gran to get a full-colour strip. Fans are used to seeing David Leach’s gorgeous technicolour in her stories today in new digital and physical comics he releases now and again. Well, when I say we’re used to it, his artwork and colours never fail to wow us. In OiNK, her strips would be of varying length but always in black and white so it’s a lovely surprise to see her latest in colour, albeit limited due to the page stock (just wait until you see David’s colouring today). Also, for once, she’s acting in self defence and not inflicting her unique sense of humour upon others.

I’ll be covering the little old lady’s post-OiNK life later this year on the blog but in the meantime it’s a bit of a shock to realise that after this she’ll only appear in one more regular issue before the comic’s cancellation! She’ll also feature in this year’s Holiday Special and then in The OiNK! Book 1989 in which she has a few pages all to herself, some in colour. Apart from her very first appearance back in #15 it’s those pages to come I remember the most. So there may only be a few more times to enjoy her company in this read through, but I’m looking forward to those final ones!

If there was ever an OiNK cartoonist who liked to make sure readers got plenty of value it was Davy Francis. Some of the biggest laughs have come from the backgrounds in Davy’s strips, the incidental moments happening behind the main characters, the little gags squeezed into spaces usually left for scenery by others. While little one-off Mabel the Model doesn’t have as many as some of his previous, this particular one had me giggling with its nod to a favourite TV show.

Davy would of course elaborate upon the script in his art, and Mabel’s script was written by Hilary Robinson (2000AD, Mindbenders, The Worm: the longest comic strip in the world) who you can read all about on her page of the Women in Comics Wiki, including details of her scripts for 2000AD and what ultimately happened to that working relationship. Just like Davy (and myself), Hilary is a resident of Northern Ireland and I assume a friend of Davy’s, asked by him if she’d like to contribute to OiNK. Unfortunately, this would be her only contribution to the comic.

Another newsagent reservation coupon by co-editor Patrick Gallagher rounds off another review. I can confidently say last week’s issue (the celebratory 50th) wasn’t a fluke, OiNK really has settled into its weekly guise; it’s back to its random nature, as evidenced with Tom Thug’s larger than normal strip above most of all, some missing characters have popped back in and best of all, until it changes format again we have another 11 weeks of this to go! The next one of which will be reviewed in seven days on Saturday 25th February 2022. See you then.