Tag Archives: J.T. Dogg

OiNK! #16: POP PiGGiES

A superstar takes pride of place on the cover of the pop music special of OiNK… sitting alongside a hammed up parody of George Michael. That’s right, this issue pig pals got to meet Frank Sidebottom! We’ll get to the famous papier-mâché headed contributor later on but first up we’ve got the second part of our giant calendar poster drawn by the incredibly talented and at the time very young Ian Jackson.

Burp and Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins make up this segment with more and more random people running across their faces. Where could they be going and why? We’ll find out next time. Quite suitably, since my decorations have gone up a little bit earlier this year, there’s Santa in the midst of the parodies of celebrities, aliens, monsters, religious leaders and basically anyone Ian could think of by the looks of it.

I can remember this issue of the comic itself being met with rather mixed feelings when I had my first quick glimpse through it as a kid. I wasn’t really into music at the time so the theme didn’t seem to appeal. I also didn’t initially like the fact there were quite a few text features spoofing teenage music magazines of the day. But I soon realised I couldn’t have been more wrong once I started reading. It may have only been my third issue but I shouldn’t have doubted the team.

As a kid I’d heard of John Peel through appearances on Top of the Pops which my older siblings watched every week or through the radio when I heard it coming from their rooms. While I wasn’t a radio listener at that young age I still found his A Day in the Life of a DJ quite funny. I’m including it here because co-editor Patrick Gallagher was able to confirm it really was written by John.

One rather unique addition to the line up this time is a competition to “Win a pop concert in your own home“. No, this isn’t a spoof (or GBH threatening to come round if you don’t pay up) this is an honest-to-gosh competition with the prize being a pop group performing in your house. The band in question were Le Lu Lus (or ‘Lelu Lu’s’, their name seems to have several spellings) who were all about “robots, computers, dance and song” apparently.

You can check out one of their songs, ‘Africa’ on YouTube and they’re not half bad. Since growing up I’ve become somewhat obsessed with 80s music so this is right up my street. It would seem one lucky reader was in for a treat.

According to Tony Husband, “They contacted us as fans l think. We chose a home fairly convenient to us all l think, so we didn’t have to pay a lot for travel. Anyone from Aberdeen or Southampton never stood a chance. We chose a family from Prestwich.” So even if I had been enjoying their music at the time there wasn’t a hope in hell of me winning, what with that pesky Irish Sea between me and the OiNK offices.


“I love burp, he’s so smelly and disgusting and Mr Big Nose ’cause he’s so daft.”

Ian Astbury, The Cult

She Sells Sanctuary by The Cult is a song most of us will remember from the 80s and in a surprising turn of events lead vocalist Ian Astbury is interviewed in this issue of OiNK by piggy pop presenter Janice Pong (Tony again). It’s really quite the scoop for a kid’s comic and as it turns out Ian and his bandmates were fans. This wasn’t unusual in the Manchester (or MADchester) scene of the day, with numerous bands buying the comic on a regular basis. OiNK’s offices in the city were just upstairs from the office of the Happy Mondays‘ manager, Haçienda DJ Dave Haslam was next door and former The Fall band member Marc Riley was already working on the comic drawing Harry the Head and being Snatcher Sam.

The interview with Ian happened over the phone after Tony got in touch through his agent.  For Tony it was quite the thrill, as he was a fan of the group and their lead singer was a fan of his work! Ian was game for a laugh in being interviewed by the fictional Janice (a spoof of radio DJ Janice Long) and Tony told me he has nothing but fond memories of the experience.

While he can’t quite remember how he found out Ian was a pig pal, Tony says he’ll never forget what happened after the interview was over. At the end of the call Ian, this huge rock star, told Tony he’d ordered two OiNK mugs and two t-shirts but had only received one of each and asked if he could look into it! It was a surreal moment for Tony and sure enough he got it sorted for him.

So let’s move away from the more magazine-style pages of this unique issue and have a look at some of the other highlights, such as an uncanny celebrity lookalike, a perfectly named talent agent and a quick homage to From Russia With Love. Then Lew Stringer brought us some cutout badges of 80s pop stars, the Huey Lewis and the News one being my fave, and then gave us a little history lesson into the origins of rock’n’roll (and check out the Phil Collins drawing underneath).

Remember the cutout Road-Hogg from #11? It was meant to be impossible to actually build but pig pal Sue M. Hall did anyway and the end result was great! In this issue a rather more straightforward bit of DIY comes in the shape of cassette covers for readers’ music collections. In the 90s I was handed down a lot of my siblings’ music cassettes, so while my school friends were rocking out to the latest charts my ears were buried in the older Now That’s What I Call Music collections from the 80s. This could explain why I’m still obsessed with music from that decade today.

I remember making up my own compilations from the cassettes I then owned, sometimes even making ‘soundtrack’ albums for my comics, filled with the songs I thought best suited certain storylines and I’d create my own covers for them. In this issue Uncle Pigg brought us some cutout covers, all suitably OiNK-ified of course. Fellow fan Steve Fitch (who kindly supplied photos of an OiNK promotional folder for a previous post) not only cut out the covers and placed them into cassette boxes, he went a step further and created little stickers for the tapes to match.

Now on to our main event. A musician, a stand up comedian, a TV personality, an all-round entertainer extraordinaire, Chris Sievey donned a papier-mâché head, put on a squeaky, nasally voice and truly became Frank Sidebottom. My parents weren’t fans I seem to recall, but I most certainly was, especially from Saturday morning show No.73. To have him popping up in OiNK was a wonderful surprise and he suited the music theme. The fact he wasn’t a one-off and would come back in the next issue (and the next, and the next etc.) was even better.

Back in 2021 the sad news broke of Chris’ passing and, upon finding out, all those lovely memories of his strips in OiNK came flooding back. I dug out the three editions I still owned and read them for the first time in decades. I bought a few more, discovered they were just as funny as they’d ever been and I set about collecting them. Chris had led me right back to OiNK, so it’s because of him that I’m even here talking about the comic at all.

I asked Patrick about how Frank’s contributions came about.

“I dragged Chris on board at OiNK, having been a fan of Frank and also of Chris Sievey and the Freshies – the Manchester pop band,” says Patrick. “Frank fitted brilliantly into the comic and was a regular face in the OiNK office as well as in its pages. We gave Chris quite an open brief, which was pretty much determined by the themes of the issues. Shortly after joining OiNK, Chris invited me to play guitar in Frank’s Oh Blimey Big Band, alongside Mark Radcliffe on drums (pre-Marc and Lard days on BBC Radio One with fellow OiNK star Marc Riley).”

It’s great to see Frank on board at last, it’s like being reunited with an old friend.

“Frank was a great ambassador for OiNK and promoted the comic at gigs etc.”, Patrick continues. “So we were more than happy to keep him with us as long as he was happy to continue working for us! I became great friends with Chris and when both our marriages ended 10 years later, Chris lived at my house for 6 months where we drowned our sorrows and lived the high-life in equal measure.”

So here we go, Frank’s very first OiNK page. I think as a kid I might have assumed one of the comic’s artists drew the pages for him, or at least had a hand in them. But as they progressed it was clear this was all his own work. Tony and Patrick have both told me in the past how long Chris would spend over his pages. Remember, he wasn’t a professional cartoonist, yet here he was creating colourful works of art and comic strips for every issue of a hit comic. Everything was coloured with felt tip pens and he would apparently anguish over the details. I’m sure you’ll agree the end results were, as Frank himself would say, fantastic!

Since Chris’ passing a statue of Frank has been erected in his home town of Timperley and we’ve had not one but two movies based around him. One is the feature-length documentary Being Frank and the other starred Michael Fassbender as a Frank-like celebrity forever encased in his own papier-mâché head. Both of these will be covered on the blog in the future. For now, it’s great to see Frank on board at last, it’s like being reunited with an old friend.

It’s time to wrap up this musical feast and who better to do so than Roger Rental, He’s Completely Mental. OiNK writer Graham Exton told me if the writing on one of Roger’s strips is uncredited then most likely it was co-editor Mark Rodgers who scripted it. He wrote so much of OiNK that apparently he’d often forget to credit himself! This particular instalment made me roar and it’s brought to life as ever by Ian Knox. Enjoy.

So that’s us. The fact that Roger’s is the only strip I’ve shown in full just shows how different this issue actually is. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of hilarious strips in here, I just wanted to show you the different kinds of content this issue had and how enjoyable it was as a result. With lots of new characters introduced last time and now with Frank in the fray at last I’m really pumped for the next issue, especially since it’s the first Christmas Special!

From the TV Times cover to the Christmas TV listings and a multi-page Uncle Pigg story I have very fond memories of #17, so make sure you’re back here on Monday 13th December for the review!

OiNK! #15: NEW PiGLETS

It appears I jumped on to the OiNK train at the right moment back in 1986. Last time I shared the memories of my first issue and just one week later came a kind of soft relaunch as the theme. OiNK had established itself, publishers IPC Magazines were happy, the readers were happy and it was proving to be a success, so the team decided to celebrate by bringing in a whole bunch of brand new regular characters.

Let’s not forget the fantastic free gift, the first of three Ian Jackson posters which combined into one giant calendar for 1987 featuring The 8th Wonder of the World: Mount Rushboar. I can remember pouring over all the little details in the swarm of people running across Harry the Head and Burp the Smelly Alien carved into the rock face and even the little bits of rubbish left behind on this apparently reverential site. How typical of us humans and a funny swipe at British tourists in particular.

On page two we find out how this glossy comic could afford such extravagances, with staff reduced to working naked, cartoonists and accountants alike shivering in the cold as Uncle Pigg looks on, wearing his Hawaiian shirt to boot. Christmas was coming early for him with all the money OiNK was raking in, and it was coming early for us too because the calendar poster freebies would continue up to the first festive issue.

Mary Lighthouse is back with her strip on page three. Normally this would be a way of introducing the subject matter of the issue but here it’s quite clear it has a bigger job to do. It’s introducing new readers to the character and the overall cheekiness and irreverence of the comic. Don’t get me wrong, Mark Rodgers and Ian Jackson still deliver the goods for the regulars too, it’s genuinely funny but it also reinforces the way the comic is reintroducing itself now that its readership is growing.

Coming on board just before this issue is probably the reason why I always assumed certain characters were in OiNK right from the beginning, when in reality this was their first appearance. Two such examples are Davy FrancisGreedy Gorb (He’d Eat Anything) and Jeremy Banx‘s wonderfully surreal and often very rude Hector Vector and his Talking T-shirt. The latter actually gets a proper origin story when a magical genie appears from Keith Disease‘s (I never remembered him having an actual name!) packet of crisps, but Keith is rude to him because his snack is gone. Poor Hector happens to be passing and Keith is forever confined to be a “tasteless print” on his t-shirt.

I remember his strip being one of my favourites so expect to see them soon. The only reason I’m not including them here is because there’s just too much I could include that I had to leave some real classics out. But I was always going to show you the beginning of OiNK’s second spoof epic. Hot on the trotters of The Street-Hogs comes Ham Dare: Pig of the Future, also stunningly illustrated by J.T. Dogg and this time the multi-part serial is written by Lew Stringer. IPC’s very own Eagle and 2000AD hero Dan Dare was the subject of OiNK’s style of parody, complete with sidekick Pigby and arch nemesis The Weakun‘!

This was my first exposure to J.T.’s artwork and it looked like nothing I’d ever seen before. Possibly because of this, as much as I love The Street-Hogs now, Ham Dare remains my favourite of all the OiNK serials. Lew’s script is fast-paced and packed full of gags, both for fans of the original space adventurer or those like me who learned of him through this. I especially love how Sir Hogbert has to show our heroes such a basic drawing to describe Earth being pulled out of orbit. Ham Dare may not be the sharpest pork scratching in the packet but he looked dashing as the hero and that’s what was important to him (and we loved him for it).

Elsewhere this issue Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins‘ own serial continues and a lot of the humour comes from the narrative by Tony Husband. Fan favourite Pete and his Pimple makes his debut after being the footer gag to a Tom Thug strip in #6. Hyperactive Harriet is the fastest girl in the world and a not-so-subtle take on The Beano‘s Billy Whizz. Then Billy Buzz gets the same ‘New Character’ treatment as the rest, but his saccharine personality annoys Uncle Pigg so much he swats him by the end of the strip and that’s the last we’d ever see of him!

Billy might not have made the grade but the next new addition certainly did. She quickly became a childhood favourite, so much so that I was certain she appeared in almost every issue I had as a kid. But surprisingly Psycho Gran was only in 20 editions of OiNK altogether including specials and annuals. Despite this, she became a true OiNK legend.

Created by David Leach (Brain Damage, Toxic Crusaders, Spongebob Squarepants) she was originally submitted as a one-off strip, so when OiNK’s editors introduced her as a new regular character in this issue it was a bit of a surprise for David. This explains why she doesn’t reappear until #21 because he hadn’t made any more! David tells me the guys would send him a list of upcoming issue subjects and he’d submit Psycho Gran strips for whichever ones he had an idea for. He never had a Psycho strip turned down and as a fan I can see why.

This strip might look familiar to anyone who has purchased the new comic series from David in recent years because he reproduced this as a gorgeous, heavily detailed, full colour strip. In fact, between contributions to Aces Weekly and Psycho’s own digital and print comics, David has now produced more work for the little old dear in the years since OiNK than during her time in her debut comic.

There are certain Psycho Gran strips, as well as individual jokes and images that stayed with me long after childhood was a distant memory. Whether she’s randomly throwing people into the ocean, making military preparations to pick her pension up at the Post Office or adorning a Wild West Wanted poster, she could terrify many in her little world but she was adored by pig pals.


“‘Sammy is getting old and worn out! I’ll have to replace him with a new engine!’, said the Controller.

Sammy the Steam Engine

Two new characters are up on the next page together, namely Sally Scowl (Her Temper’s Foul!) and Fatty Farmer (He’s A Whole Lot Calmer). Their titles may have rhymed like so many traditional humour strips of the time but that’s where the similarities end. Both were written by Mark Rodgers (of course) and drawn by Dave Follows and Weedy Willy‘s Mike Green respectively.

Both are enjoyable, even if we do already have a bad tempered youth in the shape of Billy Bang. But unlike Billy, Sally’s temper builds until she uses it to her advantage at just the right moment. She’s a lovable character and after that hilarious first panel I can’t blame her for being in a bad mood all day! She was also that rare occurrence indeed, a black character in one of our childhood comics. So why does Sally disappear after #16, totalling only two appearances? So much for a new regular character! What a shame and a waste of a great idea.

The message was clear, don’t let the bullies get to you.

Fatty Farmer was a larger than life country farmer who’d often come up against bullies and small-minded individuals making fun of his weight. However, he’d remain chilled out and deal with them calmly, often proudly using the very thing they were laughing at to his advantage. The message was clear, don’t let the bullies get to you. He’d go on to be a bit more successful than Sally with 11 strips in total, appearing in every issue for the first few months and then on and off during the rest of the fortnightlies. To have him and Sally on the same page for their first appearances was a great contrast and a great idea.

Back in #3 artist Ralph Shepherd drew OiNK’s brilliant take on The Transformers. As I said at the time, the comic would often take the hand out of things we readers loved and for me there was nothing I loved more than the subject of this next strip. It was so funny to see this as a kid. This was really the first many fans of the show would’ve seen a spoof of it (and it was even several months before the official comic finally launched). Over the course of the two weeks I had to wait for my next OiNK I reread this several times, laughing and loving the fact OiNK had its own version of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends.

Looking at this issue as a whole I can see I was clearly spoiled as a kid with this as only the second comic I ever bought. Whether I realised that at the time is another matter. I got to experience the gorgeous work of J.T. Dogg for the first time, got to meet lots of new characters including many who would become lifelong favourites, the subject of my top book series and TV show was given that unique OiNK makeover and then on top of all that was one of only five Tom Paterson OiNK strips!

What a lovely surprise it was to come across this page when reading the issue for this review. Written by Mark Rodgers it’s already a funny script, but when it’s in the hands of Tom you just know there are going to be many more laughs added before he’s done with it. Mister Cheese would unfortunately be Tom’s final full page story for OiNK. After this his work would only pop up once more in a tiny quarter-page strip in The OiNK Book 1988, which I won’t be reviewing for another 13 months! Just as well this is so jam-packed with Tom’s trademark sight gags then isn’t it? Tom was just too busy to be a regular contributor and that’s such a shame because I believe he and OiNK were the perfect fit, perhaps more so than any other comic.

Before we wrap up with the back page, here’s a little bit of news about the next issue. While this edition may have introduced a wealth of new characters, #16 brings with it a true superstar, a megastar, a “fantastic” new addition to OiNK who I remember waking up to every Saturday morning on No.73. His creator sadly died back in 2010 and it was the news of his passing that brought me back into the sty after decades away. Next issue sees the start of his contributions which really have to be seen to be believed.

I’m definitely looking forward to the next issue! For now, I’m going to finish off with this full colour back cover from Lew Stringer. We got a glimpse on the Grunts page (at the top of this review) of what it was like to work in the OiNK offices. Uncle Pigg may have had all the right words to say to the readers but the reality behind them was somewhat different. Here’s Lew’s inside scoop on the real behind-the-scenes of creating the funniest comic ever produced!

For a much younger me these two issues were a strong start. Such a strong start! How could it possibly get any better? Be here on Monday 29th November 2021 to find out.

COMiNG UP: OiNK! #15

When I bought my first ever comic (or rather, my parents bought it for me) it was OiNK #14. I was instantly hooked. I still am 35 years later. As enthralled as I was with the 32 pages of hilarity, I was even more excited for what was to come. The idea of returning to these funny characters (who were like nothing I’d ever experienced before) every fortnight was incredibly exciting and Uncle Pigg made sure those excitement levels would remain sky high until the next issue with not one, but two Next Issue promos.

The first was for the free gift to end all free gifts as far as I was concerned. It wasn’t a small double-page poster, it wasn’t a badge and it wasn’t a Highland Toffee Bar. It was a giant, three-part calendar poster drawn by Ian Jackson himself. The first part on its own promised to be huge. What on Earth was the finished article going to look like on my wall?! Well, in the present day it hangs on my home office wall and even as a fully grown (physically at least) adult it’s still giant!

But that wasn’t all. I’d missed out on The Street-Hogs and J.T. Dogg‘s incredible artwork in the early issues, so I wasn’t prepared for Ham Dare: Pig of the Future! I was aware of Dan Dare and the Eagle comic, probably from my brother or my friends, so I knew what this was parodying but I’d no idea just how much fun it was going to be. This preview of the art, the promise of new characters and that free gift had me convinced and my first ever regular comic order was placed with my newsagent.

Come back on Monday 15th November 2015 to check out the full review.