This is a somewhat unique addition to OiNK’s run and one I missed out on at the time, despite it being briefly advertised in #32. I can only blame my young self’s lack of attention span for that one. Given away free with #48 of ZX Spectrum computing magazine Crash, this 16-page freebie (the pages are smaller than usual, made to slide inside the A4 Crash) contained all new material from a variety of OiNK contributors. As a tie-in with the new computer game it was an original idea and a smart move, potentially a great way of bringing new readers over to the comic.
I’ve already covered the magazine’s OiNK article which contained an interview with co-editor Tony Husband and a special Frank Sidebottom page, so let’s take a look inside the comic that came with it. We’ve a superb Ian Jackson cover to begin, with Uncle Pigg playing the game on a Spectrum computer which leads to a strip inside featuring him and Mary Lighthouse (critic) in a take on Max Headroom. But it’s across the page from this that things take a turn for the weird.
Lew Stringer’s Pete and his Pimple and Tom Thug strips feel a little off and originally I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. Pete’s strip has a different name and basically his pimple goes on a bouncing spree (complete with dog-like yelping noises), flattening some bullies in the process. It’s a bit tame compared to normal, and in Tom’s strip he’s driving about in a ‘Thugmobile’ shooting bovver boots out of a cannon at invading zombies! It’s a dream of course. He awakes to say he’s doesn’t know why he’d dream that but his bedroom is full of zombie posters and toys, something never mentioned before in OiNK. How bizarre.
Don’t get me wrong, both are enjoyable strips, however there’s a reason they feel very different than normal. Lew and co-editor Mark Rodgers decided they’d work best if they reflected the gameplay in the OiNK game. But since that didn’t really reflect the comic (and instead was made up of mini-games with the characters shoehorned in) their strips in turn don’t really reflect their usual hilarious outings. Pete’s game was a Breakout clone, bouncing a ball (his pimple) to break bricks, for example. I’m also not quite sure why Pete’s pus is suddenly green, although Patrick Gallagher did confirm they did the colour separations and not Crash.
There are some funny moments here, like the sound effects used in Pete’s strip being classic comic titles such as ‘Pow!’ and ‘Wham!’ and of course the word ‘Crash’ is used as much as possible! David Haldane’s Rubbish Man is the third and final strip of a character featured in the game and unfortunately it’s pretty poor, with Boy Blunder playing the game while our hero dispatches some random vegetable villains in the background. None of his smelly powers (or even his smell) feature at all, so as a pig pal it just feels rather bland.
“He defeated the dreaded Three-headed Politician of Gassbagg!!”Mutant Space Barbarian Magic Warriors of Doom
Much better is the double-page spread in the middle of the comic drawn by J.T. Dogg. Written by Mark Rodgers the title Mutant Space Barbarian Magic Warriors of Doom sums up some of the ludicrous names we were subjected to for some of the less-than-great gaming titles back in the 80s. It centres on an arcade machine with somewhat magical powers. Perhaps inspired by Tron, it’s a much more colourful affair with Dogg’s excellent artwork.
With its fast-paced humour, daft ending and some 80s satire it’s the best introduction to OiNK possible for Crash readers. That ending in particular had me laughing. With all of that build up, the heroic deeds and all of Mike’s victories, for it all to be torn down in a couple of sentences and the whole world to fall into despair as a punchline is great stuff. Classic Mark, really. Billed as “An Interactive Comic Strip” for the computer mag, in reality it boils down to a competition for the readers to send in suggestions of what poor Mike saw that turned him into a pile of Angel Delight.
The address for this competition is OiNK’s, meaning the winning entrants would be published in the comic instead of the magazine. We’re almost at a simply superb contribution from Frank, but first here’s a quick look at some of the other highlights. Mary Lighthouse (critic) isn’t too happy with Uncle Pigg’s simulation of her in that Max Headroom-inspired strip, you can see part of Tom Thug’s strange dream based on the game, Harry the Head scares a show off on the school computers and this issue was the perfect place for a reader’s Groovy Graphics.
Up next Frank Sidebottom has a text-heavy (which suits the magazine) double-page spread and it contains an extraordinary amount of work on the part of his alter ego, Chris Sievey. From the introduction that pokes some fun at the Sinclair ZX81 (accurate though, so he’s done his research) to his piece about the “fiddly bits inside computers” and his funny facts about the machines (and neighbours) that includes praise for Clive Sinclair’s infamous C5 personal cycle, it’s a delight to read.
It also contains some actual working type-in programs for ZX Spectrum users. These little gems are not only working programs, they’re funny in their own right. Complete with cut-out cassette covers which hilariously had nothing to do with what was on the screen (but none for Little Frank‘s game, naturally), one ‘game’ would basically select a random point on the screen and you had to use your cursor to find it in a trial-and-error fashion. The other was a linear romantic story where all you’d do is hit a key to read the next line and it’d give you a couple of choices to get slightly different compliments about what a nice young woman you are.
Oh and Little Frank’s program prints “l.f. is better than f.s.” at random points on the screen. Silly and pointless, but that in itself was the whole point.
To round things off for potential new OiNK readers what else could be on the back page but a GBH madvertisement? The 80s was a very exciting time for what would become a multi-billion pound industry worth more than the movie and television markets! Everything was brand new and younger people in particular jumped at the chance to become part of it, creating their own games from home, just like a lot of the mainstream games were back then. GBH clearly saw an opening in the market for ripping people off.
The pictures for this were taken by OiNK’s resident photographer John Barry and that lady at the computer (that contraption is so funny in itself!) is John’s wife at the time, Ike Walton. Thanks to co-editor Patrick Gallagher for the info. Unfortunately the names of the children and that wonderful old man have been lost to the mists of time.
If you’re interested in tracking down this unique little issue of OiNK it also includes Billy Bang, Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins, Mr Big Nose, Burp and Hugo the Hungry Hippo. While I do believe some strips would’ve been a much better introduction for their characters and the comic if they hadn’t tried to tie themselves into the game, I completely understand why they chose to do so. It’s still a funny wee comic and a unique edition that no OiNK collection is complete without.
Quite a few posts make up the blog’s coverage of the OiNK game, beginning with the preview in Zzap!64, an in-depth look at the Crash magazine this comic was bundled with and a Retro Gamer article from 2021 containing an interview with the game’s creator. Still to come on is the Zzap!64 review of the game itself and later in the year a couple of issues of Commodore Format in which they gave the game away free but under a different name, then detailed how to beat it.
But probably most excitedly for established pig pals who picked this issue up were the first images of two things coming later in 1987, in a promo by Patrick. Stick with the blog, folks.