Tag Archives: Ian Knox

OiNK! #37: NEW ADDiTiONS

Our second new look OiNK sees the logo enlarged a little, sitting proud in its new position and, as promised by co-creator/co-editor Patrick Gallagher in the previous review, it lets us see more of the superb cover image by Mike Higgs. There’s a confidence about this issue and it’s new format that takes me right back to those days of running to the newsagent for my latest issue every fortnight, knowing I was going to get another 32 pages of perfect pork!

Another set of free stickers are wrapped around the cover, that Tom Thug ‘Book of Grammar’ one being my particular favourite. I think I used the Hadrian Vile sticker on a school book of some description back in 1987 (I would’ve been in primary six at the time of this issue) and the missing one on the back was the same as the one I showed you was on my fridge. This issue’s has been added to the comics shelves in my new home office.

The ‘Hilarious Happy Families Issue’ lives up to its name from the very first page with that brilliant cover complete with a couple of strategically placed OiNKs, portraying an elderly relative dying from the shock of reading an issue. The Christmas Club, the note on the bottom of the casket and a couple of plops for good measure, I can remember visiting my mum’s friend’s house with this issue and sitting absorbed by it while they gossiped.

In fact, I remember they were talking about Santa Claus and wondering if I knew the truth (that he most definitely existed, obviously) and I caught part of the conversation between strips. I can recall May asking the question and my mum saying at my age my friends would’ve been talking about it, so she assumed I knew. I kept quiet, I still wanted all my toys (and my OiNK Book!). That’s something which always comes back to me whenever I see this cover. May (or Aunty May as we called her, even though she wasn’t related) is no longer with us so it’s a happy memory that I’ll never forget thanks to OiNK.

This is quite simply the perfect comic script

Inside, one of the first strips is an old favourite, Davy FrancisCowpat County. Davy has two trademarks when it comes to his funniest strips, background gags and brilliant puns. This next page is easily my favourite featuring Farmer Giles. It is quite simply the perfect comic script. It all leads up to the final joke, expertly laying in the little bits of information along the way that’ll make it work, the reader unaware this is happening until the end.

Davy is a real comedic genius and it ran in the family. His father Stanley Francis was a comedian, performing in the old club circuits in Northern Ireland with Frank “it’s a cracker” Carson. Stanley also played piano and once accompanied Little Richard at Belfast’s Boom Boom Rooms! He’d often tell jokes at home to try them out (which Davy now uses on his bus tours) and the joke at the centre of this Cowpat County was one of Stanley’s.


“She’s luvly!!”

Hadrian Vile

Just one final note about this strip. I have the original artwork, one of a few pieces of Davy’s I own. I’m going to hold that back for a future post and show them all off at once. It also couldn’t have escaped your notice that something is going on with Snatcher Sam and Frank Sidebottom. Anyone who grew up on OiNK should instantly know what this refers to. Yes, it was finally available. Exciting! I’ll get back to that later in the review.

Next up is what I’d easily describe as the main event of this family themed issue. In fact it’s probably the main event in the whole life of Hadrian Vile thus far, something I’ve alluded to ever since the character first appeared on the blog back in #4’s review. To mark the occasion he gets three pages written by Mark Rodgers in glorious Ian Jackson full colour. This story more than any other plays to Ian’s strength of perfectly capturing a character’s thoughts in their face and body language. For example, his exasperated dad when they’re pulled over and in the next panel when he’s trying to explain things to the police officer.

We saw Hadrian’s age increase in the birthday issue and his reaction when his parents explained he was going to be a big brother. Now, after months of him torturing his poor pregnant mum the big moment has arrived and while the laughs are still plentiful, what we have here is a surprisingly sweet strip. After all those previous issues full of Hadrian getting into trouble thanks to his ridiculous schemes, he actually comes up with a helpful idea when the situation calls for it. It’s still daft and funny of course, especially his dad trying to run along holding that pillow. 

After wearing down the carpet in the waiting room the family are called in to see their latest addition, even Bowser gets a mask so he can join them. We turn over to see the following full-page image with a simple, sweet (yet still incorrectly spelt) diary entry. This was certainly a memorable moment in humour comics. When did a character live their life in an almost real time manner like this? When was something like this properly built up to instead of just being a sudden change? OiNK was always unique and this is all the proof you need.

Don’t be thinking Hadrian is going to go all slushy on us though. Instead, he sees his new baby sister as a potential protégé, someone to teach the ways of the world to, someone to train and we get to see him ingratiate himself over the following months from what I can remember. She also makes an appearance in the card game in this very issue.

This takes up the middle pages and the back cover, with another half page for the instructions, which are the same for the regular Happy Families game.

So as per the typical rules each family is made up of four individuals, with Hadrian’s not including Bowser as would’ve been expected up to this point, instead the newest addition gets a little cameo of sorts. Altogether there are 36 cards for the reader to stick on to cardboard and cut out, split into nine families. Parents and siblings could also easily take part because each group has a simple numbering system so non-OiNK fans (yes, they exist!) wouldn’t get lost amongst the silly names.

I always liked seeing favourite characters drawn by different artists. Ed McHenry is the artist here and his depictions of Ian Jackson’s Hadrian and his family, David Haldane’s Rubbish Man, J.T. Dogg’s Street-Hogs heroes and villains, and Jeremy Banx’s alien innards are my particular favourites. Did any blog readers cut out and play this game when they were but a piglet? I never cut up any of my OiNKs back at the time. (I did begin to colour in something in the first annual but that was about it.) However, these days the angel on top of my Christmas tree is from a page of the comic, and for the blog I’ve already constructed an old-fashioned Frank Sidebottom toy.

There’s a certain phrase I remember my dad using whenever my siblings or I did anything that our mum would’ve found particularly bad and one of the little quarter-page strips in this issue takes that exact phrase and ridicules it, albeit swapping the parents’ roles over in the process. From that moment on I could never take it seriously when it was used. I still can’t. Mad Dad is written by Vaughan Brunt and drawn by Ian Knox. This is followed up by Grate Expectations, a memorable little one-off from the insane mind of Simon Thorp who, I’m very happy to say, was turning up more regularly by this point.

There were so many potential highlights in this issue I really struggled in deciding which ones to include. This could be a regular problem these next few months, but it’s a nice problem to have, isn’t it? The Grunts page features press clippings about OiNK itself, although I’ll save them for their own post at a future date. Just mentioned recently on the blog’s Twitter feed by a fellow pig pal was Burp’s tractor beam and it pops up here, so I just had to include that in this little selection of panels.

There was also a unique competition in which readers could win a trip to Timperley, the home of megastar Frank Sidebottom and meet their hero, and to get readers excited to enter he tells us all about his post office having two letterboxes! I’ll keep an eye out for the results and winners. There’s a full-page Uncle Pigg strip describing the special versions of OiNK he publishes around the world and it’s nice to see he and Santa have made up since #17

For the first time we see Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins playing football, something which would lead to a huge multi-issue story for the character in future issues, a little plop drawn by Patrick Gallagher invaded a handful of pages throughout the issue such as Rubbish Man’s, and in the latest Butcher Watch a pig by the name of Stig the Pig thinks he’s finally won the battle with Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith, with wonderfully Banx’y captions.

Of course, Jimmy has to live to see another day and terrorise the world in which the characters of OiNK reside. As it turns out that shadowy figure wasn’t Jimmy at all but rather a selection of pork sausages tied up and dressed to resemble him. We see this reveal just before Jimmy strangles Stig to death with another string of sausages. This might sound a bit brutal for a kid’s humour comic but it’s so ludicrous and over-the-top it was a hoot to read every time and we’d just laugh at the absurdity of the pretend horror.

So, Frank has just set a new competition and this issue announces the runner-up of a previous one, but not one we’d seen in the comic. Instead, in much the same way as OiNK had run a competition in conjunction with Radio Manchester (the results were in #26), they teamed up with Granada TV’s Scramble programme. Ian Marshall from Bramhall has not one, but two small strips in this issue starring his own creation, Professor Foible.

If this is the level of quality the runner-up produced I can honestly say I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing what the young winner came up with! We’ll have to wait to find out though because they’re holding that back until #38.

So for the uninitiated, what were Frank Sidebottom aka Chris Sievey and Snatcher Sam aka Marc Riley up to earlier in the issue? Why, they were recording a new song for the OiNK 45 of course! Way back in the mists of time the premiere issue of our favourite comic gave away a fun flexidisc record with two songs created specifically to annoy adults as much as for the kids to enjoy. The OiNK Song and The OiNK Rap are often quoted by fans to this day and on this new proper record they were getting another outing alongside a new song.

When the original songs were produced by Marc, Chris was yet to join the comic (#16) so the new track, called The OiNK Get Together Song was a chance for the pop music sensation to get in on the action and team up with the former member of The Fall. Along with the other two songs (the rap now renamed The OiNK Psycho Rap) this was a proper, solid record the size of a single, in its own sleeze for just £1.70 and I for one jumped at the chance to own it, especially since all three songs were new to me (having missed the flexidisc first time around). In fact, this and the mug were the only pieces of OiNK merchandise I originally owned.

I recall the song contained impressions of various characters and it irritated my family just as much as the other two. My record met with an early demise when it warped under the hot sun from a skylight window only a couple of weeks after it had arrived in the post. I hadn’t even had a chance to tape it yet so I could listen to it on my Walkman. Now if only I could listen to it again after all these decades to see how my adult brain would react to these songs.

Well would you look at that. Yep, in a moment of perfect timing just a couple of months ago this appeared on eBay and the record is in mint condition. I could not be happier. But then again, I haven’t listened to it yet! Nope, I haven’t stuck it on the ol’ record player yet, I’ll do that when it comes to writing the accompanying blog post. So look out for that just after 17th October. Why am I making you wait so long? Well, we had to wait 28 days for delivery after all and this is all in real time.

That brings us to the end of another fantastic issue. As a child I’d loved the changes and was so happy they weren’t a one-off (the previous issue‘s theme explaining them away for that edition), the book was in the shops and I was eagerly anticipating it for Christmas and I’d just ordered an exciting new piece of merchandise, my first piece of OiNK merchandise in fact. I’d been a fan of OiNK since I’d first discovered it, but by now I was completely obsessed. The next issue is the Food and Drink Special with yet another memorable cover, a full-page photograph of (who else) Frank and Sam. The next review will be here on Monday 3rd October 2022.

October already?!

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.

COMiNG UP: OiNK! #28

It’s free gift time again! Well, for me anyway as I’m the one getting my trotters on it. The Next Issue promo in #27 may not have given us any clues as to what that gift was but I can tell you it was the first of three sets of OiNK postcards. Not the cut-out kind we’ve seen before, these would be proper individual cardboard postcards ready to be written on and sent in the post. All three sets are brilliant and you’ll see the first, drawn by Jeremy Banx in the next review.

The theme for the issue will be that of flying and the cover is a great spoof of Superman with a strip inside to match, both of which are very fondly remembered by this pig pal, so I’m looking forward to getting reacquainted with it. As well as high-flying humour, soaring sows and piggy pilots there’s a very unique page in the next issue. Remember Janice and John and the Parachute Jump from #7 and how it resulted in a couple of complaints to The Press Council? Well, after the council responded to say it wouldn’t be upholding the complaint the OiNK editors decided to respond in the pages of the comic itself!

So come back for the full review to find out all about that and more. It’ll be here from Monday 16th May 2022.