After eleven episodes (including the preview issue) the first epic tale for The Street-Hogs was coming to an end but they were going out with a bang(ers and mash)! Not only would their strip be extra long, they’d be on a special wraparound cover poster and the issue itself would have the theme of motorbikes, biking and general road rambunctiousness. To mark the occasion #10 had this large Next Issue advert.
Only the most special of comics issues had wraparound cover posters (ask any Transformers fan) so make sure you’re here on Monday 20th September 2021 for the next issue in our continuing real time read through of the world’s greatest, and funniest, comic!
Before then, if you’ve missed the Street-Hogs‘ strip featured already on the blog, you can click here to go and have a chuckle.
This colourful, busy cover by Mike Roberts is just superb and takes me right back to the 1990s. The 90s? Yes, OiNK may have been my first comic but Mike also had a hand in my first magazine, Future‘s Commodore Format, published between 1990 and 1996. Every month he drew the adventures of Roger Frames which sat between the mini-reviews of the ‘Budjit Games’. Mike’s work can be found in four issues of OiNK and the first 31 issues of CF, the latter he returned to for issue sixty-one, the very final edition and drew its cover.
Mike’s cover perfectly sums up issue ten of OiNK; it’s chock full of great content, jam-packed with random humorous moments, there’s plenty of chaos and anarchy, and loads of genuine laugh-out-loud moments. It’s been very difficult to whittle its 32 pages down to a few highlights and I’ve had to leave out some real gems. There were just too many.
To prove my point here’s a quick glimpse of some of that content, beginning with the one character you just knew would relish the theme. This issue’s Sekret Diary ov Hadrian Vile – Aged 7 5/8 (yearƨ) sees him trying a variety of excuses to get out of returning to school, only for his mum to admit it doesn’t start until the next day, she just wanted to see what tricks he was going to try. Jelly-Belly Johnson is a one-off photo story featuring Tony Husband‘s son Paul winning a jelly eating contest, the Skiver’s Survival Kit has everything needed to get out of various lessons and in Tom Thug we meet Wayne Brayne for the first time.
Lew has mentioned in the comments to this post that in the original script Wayne asked Tom, “Are you having a fit?” and Mark Rodgers changed it to the line above, because obviously there’s nothing funny about having a fit. Thanks for the info, Lew! Wayne would pop up now and again in Tom’s strips to outwit the thug, not that this was particularly difficult, of course. He’d also appear now and again in Buster after the merge.
After I discovered OiNK I can remember often taking each new issue into school for my friends to read, in a blatant attempt to get them to start buying it themselves instead of what I called their “boring comics”. Ha! I can imagine this particular issue going down particularly well in classrooms across the country.
We haven’t had a comical shark in a few issues but thankfully here’s Roger Rental, He’s Completely Mental to fix that, as ever brought to the page by Ian Knox.
One-panel genius. Not Roger, admittedly, I mean the writers and Ian’s perfect style for the character. Throughout his appearances Roger would be written by a variety of talented individuals, notably Graham Exton, Keith Forrest and later Howard Osborne. Graham originally created the character as ‘Barmy Barney’ but, in Graham’s own words, “The Three Wise Men rename him Roger Rental.” While there are no credits here Graham says co-editor Mark Rodgers was always very good at crediting other writers so most likely this was written by Mark himself.
Jeremy Banx‘s Mr Big Nose steals the show on a regular basis with his uniquely surreal humour and unexpected punchlines. By all means they don’t make an awful lot of sense but that’s what made them so funny to the young (and now the not-so-young) audience, it was just lovable nonsense. This issue’s strip also turned a work colleague of mine into an OiNK fan several years back.
When I was reading the comic for the previous version of ‘The Oink! Blog’ I posted the strip below on Twitter and a woman I worked with, who had previously rolled her eyes at what I was doing in my spare time, admitted she loved it and couldn’t stop laughing when she saw it. Apparently, thinking I was reading something more along the lines of Beano or The Dandy, it had just taken her by complete surprise. Thanks to it and another Banx strip later in this issue I ended up lending her my OiNK Book 1988 and she loved every silly page.
I’ve another personal story about this little one-off from Ed McHenry too. Before collecting the whole run and putting together the original blog back in 2013 I’d bought a handful of issues online to reminisce with. (Little did I know it’d turn back into an obsession again.) When they’d arrived I took a couple down to the house of my girlfriend at the time where I was staying for the weekend.
I hadn’t had a chance to flick through them yet so I was oblivious to their contents. I started to casually scan over them while she was curled up asleep on the sofa next to me after a tough day at work. I should explain that my laugh can be rather loud, especially when I’m caught unawares and I was already doing my best not to laugh at Graham Norton’s show on TV so as not to wake her up.
“Don’t be frightened by bullies, kids! And don’t try to scare anyone yourself!”
Uncle Pigg (Cowardly Custard)
I was doing a very good job of it too until I read Mike Slammer. Well that was it. I erupted into laughter! She jumped awake! I tried to apologise but I couldn’t stop laughing. When I eventually calmed down and explained I wasn’t actually laughing at scaring her awake, I showed her the culprit. One strange look and a shake of the head later and the status quo returned, albeit it with my attention solely on the TV, just in case.
Moving on, one of the most enjoyable series in these early issues is Pigg Tales, double-page stories introduced by Uncle Pigg and often with a moral at the end (in a typical OiNK fashion). So far on this read through I’ve shown you The Revenge Squad in the preview issue and Testing Time in #1, both of which were hilariously drawn by Tom Paterson. This issue’s school-based tale is Cowardly Custard, illustrated by OiNK-supremo Ian Jackson.
Contrary to critics of the comic at the time, OiNK contained some strong moral messages within its pages, especially of the anti-smoking variety which you’ll see here in due course. (They even created a complete ‘Smokebusters’ comic to give away to schools.) They just didn’t preach at us. Instead they created Madvertisements or funny strips like the one above which is clearly an anti-bullying story but presented in an original way.
I love the different character designs for each of the kids and how the usual comic strip cliché of the victim turning the tide on the bully is then also turned upon. The victim teaches the bully a lesson, but then the other bullies teach the victim a lesson. The message is clear: Don’t become the bully! All told through giving the reader a good laugh. Job done.
Cowardly Custard is a main highlight of the issue and it’s nice to actually see our editor in a strip, what with him not getting his usual introduction on page two for the first time. While OiNK would have so much variety and so many different art styles it always felt like Uncle Pigg’s appearances throughout tied everything together. In this issue he also pops up on the Grunts letters page and in an advertisement for those ‘Prime Porky Products’ of OiNK merchandise.
Okay, so earlier I showed you the Mr Big Nose strip that sold the whole premise of OiNK to a work colleague. Over the course of a few issues, starting with this one, Jeremy Banx got some extra space to deliver us some dynamite one-off strips. The first one of which is below and was the one I alluded to above.
Getting a reference to the Warsaw Pact into a kids’ comic, and as the name of a character no less, is so out there it could only have come from the mind of Jeremy. But let’s not brush over the fact this character then proceeds to have her child put down! Then stuffed! Innocently slipped into the issue it’s an example of something we just found silly fun as children, then as adults are so surprised by (in the best possible way, of course). Brilliance.
Finally, the issue also contains the penultimate part of the epic Street-Hogs story which started right back in the preview issue (and you can check out a full chapter in #1’s review), ending with yet another cliffhanger they’ll get out of in the most improbable way imaginable in a fortnight’s time. The team are also the focus of the ‘Next Issue’ promotion which you’ll see a few days before the next review.
In two weeks it’s the conclusion of The Street-Hogs’ first adventure, with a general biking and motoring theme to the rest of the issue. But it wouldn’t be long before the next spoof adventure series to be masterfully drawn by J.T. Dogg would appear, and it was the first my younger self clapped eyes on. So watch out for the introduction of Ham Dare: Pig of the Future in a few short months.
That aforementioned next issue will be here for you to peruse on Monday 20th September.
it’s time for the second issue of the world’s funniest comic and the cover sets the ball rolling in typical OiNK fashion. Using the same design as the preview issue, an artist’s illustration framed above Patrick Gallagher‘s Uncle Pigg and Mary Lighthouse, this has proved to be very memorable over the years amongst fans.
Let’s try to forget about how old the image of those two boys makes us feel and instead concentrate on the funny rendering by Steve McGarry. This was all to promote another free gift, a set of blank sticky badges with letters, numbers and images which could be rubbed on to create anything the young readers wanted. They’re a bit like those old pretend tattoo rub-on transfers we had as kids, which never transferred in one piece and would look a right mess on our arms.
Of course there were other cheeky examples of what could be created inside the issue and a request for pig pals to send in their ideas, which we’ll see later. As we open the issue it’s again up to critic Mary Lighthouse and editor Uncle Pigg to introduce the issue, this time by following on directly from Mary’s quite startled discovery on the front page.
It’s not often you’ll see a Royal fart joke. Again, Ian Jackson‘s artwork is the star here and he really does epitomise everything OiNK was about. I’d call it a breath of fresh air but that might not be the case given the subject of Mark Rodgers‘ script. Mary’s face in the final panel brings out a childish grin on my own face every time I see it.
It’s time to meet another regular star of the comic. Weedy Willy was introduced in the preview issue as “So Pathetic It’s Embarrassing”. Cowardly, insanely weak and lacking any kind of social skills, Willy’s continued optimism led to us cheering him on through mishap after mishap. Most of these would also involve his unrequited love of local girl Mandy, who’d often fall foul of his misplaced affections.
While Willy’s weediness (expertly rendered by Mike Green) was the subject of the humour, he was never portrayed as a victim. Yes, we could laugh at his inability to lift the lightest of objects or his fears of the cutest, cuddliest babies, but whenever the strip put him up against a bully he’d always come out on top, even if it was inadvertently. His positivity was infectious and the moral was clear, albeit delivered in an original OiNK fashion.
The comic had an anarchic feel to it which I always loved, not only in its humour and artwork but also in how it was organised. Other humour comics would have certain strips on the same pages every issue, always taking up the same amount of space. OiNK mixed it up, placing its regulars on different pages and often giving them varying amounts of space from issue to issue. Co-editor Mark Rodgers said strip length was one of the rules they no longer wished to be confined by.
This variation carried over to the one-off strips, which could be anything from a quick three-panel gag to a detailed multipage story. From this issue, this two-thirds of a page strip is one such example and a definite highlight.
Burp and Mr Big Nose creator Jeremy Banx‘s Kangaroo Kid leaps (sorry, I couldn’t resist) off the bright yellow page, ending with the reader actually taken by surprise with the blatantly obvious fact he hadn’t exited the phone booth yet. A brilliant piece of misdirection and comic timing.
Compared to the newsprint comics of the day, OiNK’s shiny paper was a revelation. While action comics such as Transformers were mostly printed on full colour glossy paper, OiNK’s was much bigger and of a higher grade, meaning even these one-colour pages feel more vibrant when held. Its printing process also meant black and white strips didn’t have to be quite so simple anymore and shades of grey could be used to really bring them to life in a way we hadn’t seen before in humour comics.
But of course, OiNK also had more striking full colour pages than any other funny comic and none would use this to greater effect than J.T. Dogg, so while we’re on the subject here’s his latest Superstar Poster, Frankenswine!
I know I’ve included one of these before but how could I not show off this masterpiece? I hadn’t discovered OiNK at this stage but I remember having these up on my wall back in the late 80s, from a mix of issues given to me by my cousin and reprints from much later in the run. I have a couple up on the walls of my home office now, I’ll let you know which as we go along.
Other highlights of this issue include the pun-tastic pigs The Street-Hogs as they continue to fight Don Poloney, not-so-subtle in-jokes in Cowpat County, a wonderful full colour Burp and a Rocky-inspired Golden Trough Awards, complete with catchy musical monologue. Be warned, you may not get the original tune out of your head after you read this.
One of the main contributors to OiNK had never worked in comics before, but was the lead singer of the band that received a little promo above in Cowpat County. Marc Riley is better known today as a BBC Radio 6 Music presenter, previously of Mark and Lard fame on Radio 1. Just for the record, our Marc was ‘Lard’.
“With Marc all hunched over dressed like this, passers-by and car drivers were stunned and puzzled.”
An old friend of Patrick’s (still good friends with both him and fellow co-editor Tony Husband to this day) Marc could be heard singing on the free flexidisc from issue one and would star as Snatcher Sam in many photo stories, often appearing alongside Frank Sidebottom. Later stories are set outside or on makeshift sets, but in these early days Marc would be pasted onto hastily drawn backgrounds.
The Bully Who Went Bald is one such story. It also features Tony’s son Paul (previously seen in the preview issue) as Sam’s intended target and Patrick as an innocent airplane pilot who just happens to be passing by. The rough sketches and cut-and-paste nature adds to the amateurish look, which in itself highlights the fact these were spoofs of photo stories found in the likes of Eagle and women’s weeklies.
This behind-the-scenes photo has been shared by Tony, who said that after the shoot Paul walked down the lane holding Marc’s hand. “With Marc all hunched over dressed like this, passers-by and car drivers were stunned and puzzled”, says Tony.
We stick with Marc for the back page and our final highlight. Probably Marc’s most fondly remembered creation after Snatcher Sam was Harry the Head, the tale of an ordinary boy who just happened to be a disembodied head. In the preview issue Harry’s parents were also just heads but a later strip would change this to involve a genie, a greedy young boy and a lesson learnt.
Quite a severe lesson to learn! But Harry did just that and ended up kinder and less selfish, earning himself a good friend in Barney (who would diligently carry Harry around by the hair) and decided to live life to the full. Later he would go off on an adventure around the world over multiple issues, but his best strips were the self-contained ones where he’d use his predicament to his advantage, such as in this one which paid tribute to the Dambusters, believe it or not.
Who would’ve thought this crazy comic could be educational too. Well okay, I’m pushing it but this strip actually saw publication on the 43rd anniversary of the Dambusters raid, which occurred on the night of 16-17 May back in 1943.
With that we come to the end of our second review (third if you count the preview) of OiNK in this real-time 35th anniversary read through. The next issue is the first of the themed editions. These were another example of how OiNK stood out from the crowd and another reason it was a favourite among so many.
The first subject is space, so watch out for chicken aliens, pigs behind the moon and even a cameo from The Doctor. Issue three takes off on Monday 31st May and you can also check out the promo for it from tis issue.