Tag Archives: Jeremy Banx

OiNK! #48: GREEDY FOR LAUGHS

Welcome to the latest weekly edition of OiNK and Davy Francis’ only comics cover of his career. Outlined by Lew Stringer, Davy’s creation Greedy Gorb gets his teeth into the issue and that’s what we’re here for too. Continuing the basic yellow cover theme it’s not the most elaborate in OiNK’s history, although next week’s would be even simpler. But as mentioned before this was a necessary evil to get ahead of the new schedule, doubled from a few issues ago. 

Greedy may be a a mini-strip but that doesn’t stop him from producing one of my biggest belly laughs for quite a while and you’ll see that towards the end of this review. As I promised back in #45’s write-up I’m going to take a look at the more serialised nature of OiNK Weekly, starting off with the very funny Sherlock Hams in The Hog of the Baskervilles. Written by Lew and drawn by Ron Tiner, it’s packed to the rafters with silly characters and even sillier plot twists.

The red herring gag from #46 is still my favourite and here the outraged cook reveals themselves as Meatyarty, based on Sherlock Holmes’ own nemesis Moriarty. As with Ham Dare, Lew’s script plays up to the clichés people associate with these types of story (hamming it up you could say) including Holmes’ love of the violin. His ability to deduce clues where no one else would see any is also spoofed here, his supposed super intelligence revealing what are actually very obvious giveaways.

It concludes next week with part five while Jeremy Banx’s Hieronymous Van Hellsong will continue on until the celebratory #50. In this fourth chapter the atmospheric scene-setting is done and it’s time for the butcher hunter to meet his nemesis, Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith, the Dracula to his Hellsing. The main thrust here is their first battle, with Jimmy spectacularly crashing through a window and swiping at our enigmatic hero with his blade. It’s animatedly realised by Jeremy in some of his best work yet.

There are loads of little details I just love here, such as portraying Jimmy’s residence as a dirty hovel in the first panel, showing the OiNK villain doesn’t have a home as such, instead sleeping rough in dirty, abandoned buildings as he makes his way around the country for his pie fillings. The confrontation itself in the middle panels is all exaggerated limb movements and bloody thirsty stares, and is that even saliva spilling out of Jimmy’s mouth as he edges closer to his prey?

Here is a cartoonist whose imagination and sense of humour know no bounds

Thankfully only the tips of Hellsong’s hat and scarf end up on the chopping board and in the final panels that Dracula inspiration is really brought home with the holding up of the cross. But it’s the reveal of what that cross actually is that made me genuinely laugh out loud. This is about as unique a children’s comic strip as you could ever possibly get and shows how original OiNK still is nearly 50 issues in. Co-editor Tony Husband once told me Jeremy was basically given free rein to do as he pleased. Here is a cartoonist whose imagination and sense of humour know no bounds.

Moving on, from early issues where he’d often be the butt of jokes, to ones where he’d get the upper hand and prove that beauty is only skin deep, Tony’s Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins had already been on quite the journey when his strip was changed to a serialised comedy drama of sorts, chronicling Horace’s new football career. His talent spotted by Melchester United, his headmaster refused to let him attend practice but the readers convinced him otherwise in #43. But a jealous member of his team had been laying traps for him and last issue a mysterious figure had broken into a military facility and stole a nuclear missile! Well that escalated quickly.

There was still plenty of time for humour (and sometimes the strip would revert to a one-off for a good gag or two). I love how William’s mum just casually mentions the weapon in passing, the ‘Ground to Horace missile’ and the fact it’s easily flipped up to avert all of the disaster in a scene which could be right out of a Naked Gun-style spoof. Well, I say it’s been averted but this issue’s cliffhanger has different ideas. From memory the football story would continue for quite a while, dipping in and out until the happy ending in the final issue, the long serialisation making the final strip all the better for it.

Frank Sidebottom wasn’t averse to an ongoing story either, although it was rather more ad-hoc. Case in point, back in #46 he brought us 100 Fantastic Show-biz (sic) Moments No.2. But that second list of moments would then be elongated and spread over several issues, so last week we had (and I quote) “Frank Sidebottom’s Part Two ‘Fantastic Showbiz Moments’ Part 2”, but that wasn’t enough for Frank. He decided a previous plot point needed further explanation, so now we have the third part of the two-part story to the second part of his showbiz moments. Phew!

And of course he can’t resist building on this serialisation joke by starting another on the very same page, this time referencing the amount of parts won’t tally properly before he even begins. The diversity of his pages play out brilliantly in these issues; the first was a photo montage of him with his Smokebusters, the second was a photo strip, here we’ve a lovely hand-crafted written page and as it goes on it’d revert to a comic strip again. There was never a predictable moment within his pages.

That newspaper article is hilarious too.

Elsewhere, the creativity of the readers knew no bounds as evidenced with these winning song lyrics by Lyn McNicol for the comic’s resident punk band The Slugs, fellow OiNK cartoonist Marc Riley made an unscheduled (and I’d assume surprising even to Marc) cameo in Lew Stringer’s Pete and his Pimple, and our already perfectly smelly alien from outer space, Burp, was convinced to undergo some rather extreme plastic surgery!

The mini-strips are still collected together in one section of the comic. This will change soon but for now it’s actually quite fun to get a handful of quick gags in succession. However one in particular stands out, so much so that the image in the final panel has stayed rent free in my mind all of these years later, resurfacing every time I see the instrument in question.

This isn’t just the best mini-strip, it’s the biggest laugh of the whole issue and quite possibly the very best Greedy Gorb strip of his 33 in total, drawn by the incredibly funny and unique Davy Francis. Now and again Davy’s characters would be written by other OiNK writers but here it’s all him, complete with the backgrounds that magically change from one panel to the next so he can squeeze in as many extra sight gags as possible. A classic.

As you know I’m showing the newsagent reservation coupons from each of these weekly issues because they’re a series of jokes in their own right, and to accompany them this time is a full-page strip written by co-editor Mark Rodgers and drawn in glorious full colour by Eric ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson. It’s a very unsubtle dig at the likes of W.H. Smith who had been placing OiNK on the top shelves out of the reach of children after a few parents complained, even though you can guarantee their children shared the same sense of humour as the comic.


“OiNK is such a rude, outrageous comic, we like to make it difficult for you to get!”

GBH Newsagent (Mark Rodgers)

A few people trying to ruin everyone else’s fun because they personally don’t like something? Some things never change. There’s no denying this move had to have hurt OiNK’s sales and IPC Magazines for their part did try their best to negotiate with the chain. It also couldn’t have helped they were one of the main distributors. Thankfully they weren’t to be found here in Northern Ireland at the time (the one store that did open in Belfast many years later didn’t last long before going out of business), although DUP leader Ian Paisley did try to get the comic banned at one stage but it fell on deaf ears.

Uncle Pigg had already informed his readers to ask for OiNK if they didn’t see it on the shelves, explaining how some folks who owned the shops thought OiNK was too clever for us kiddies. In fact, this was how he introduced the reservation coupon in the first ever issue I bought, #14. It was a cheeky little joke at the expense of such shops while making the point they wouldn’t stop OiNK from being published. In this latest issue that same message came with a bit more bite to it.

It makes a great point; if OiNK was so bad why not just refuse to stock it? The answer of course is that they were hypocrites, although some WHSmith stores did refuse to have The OiNK Book 1988 on the shelves when it was released. I do love how Wilkie’s art looks on the matt paper. His style always had texture to it, but now on this paper stock this is heightened, creating a gorgeous finished strip that feels like this is the original artwork, drawn directly on to this exact piece of paper by Eric. I love it.

Fittingly, we finish off this review with the latest newsagent coupon put together by co-editor Patrick Gallagher. While the coupon itself is very polite for addressing the shop, the accompanying joke is anything but. It also contains the best description of a dentist I’ve ever come across in my life.

“Gob mechanic”! Haha! Ahem, anyway, that’s us at the end of another review. We’re really getting through them now aren’t we? Enjoy it while you can pig pals, as the comic will change to a different schedule again later in the year. Until then though, we still have another 14 weekly doses of pigs, plops and puns to come, continuing with #49 in just seven days on Saturday 5th January 2023. I’m sure I’ll see you then.

OiNK! #47: iT’S WHAT’S ON THE iNSIDE THAT COUNTS

So I told you this issue’s cover was the ugliest of the whole run. I didn’t mean I didn’t like it! This is OiNK, of course that wouldn’t be the case, instead what we have below is Tony Husband’s Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins and another yellow background cover. After the first two great weekly covers by Ian Jackson and Lew Stringer, the next three (of which this is the first) are rather basic, possibly a symptom of the increased schedule.

They all feature fan favourite characters which is always a good thing for already established pig pals but I’m not sure how well they’d do at bringing in new readers. Fortunately, the covers return to more complex pieces of funny art in a few weeks and the artists (with the team no longer rushing to get them finished) once again have time to turn out covers the likes of which we’ve been used to since OiNK began.

At the time of OiNK, there was a certain teatime telly show which captivated everyone who watched it, despite it being a basic question and answer quiz. At ten-years-of-age I can’t remember knowing many of the answers the university students were asked but that didn’t matter, Bob Holness and that electronic Blockbusters game board made it, the whole family sitting together for half an hour. It appears Charlie Brooker was also a bit of a fan as he wrote a script for Lew Stringer’s Pete and his Pimple strip, the only time someone other than Lew wrote for the character.

I particularly like the little signs held up to excuse the caricature of Bob and the “convenient” way of not having to draw him at the end of the story. The only thing missing is that silly dance everyone did in their seats at the end of the Friday episodes. Uncle Pigg pops up to remind readers to send in their suggestions but that’s not because there was a lack of any coming in. There’d be shedloads of them and they’ll start to be used very soon and, apart from the occasional issue, all the way through to the end of OiNK.


“Naughty terrorists had taken some important top nobs hostage…”

Storm Farce, Mark Rodgers

In the 80s action figures became more complex as rival companies battled against each other and videogames for kids’ attention. They’d boast about everything from the level of articulation to the fact they had an elastic band inside to make them ‘punch’ when twisted. One of the most popular was G.I. Joe (or Action Force as it was called here until the end of the 80s) and I was a big fan of the comics as they ran as backups in my Transformers comics. When Hasbro took over the Action Force name in the UK in the early 80s and decided to rebrand it with their G.I. Joe line IPC Magazines also lost the licence to Marvel UK.

IPC needed a replacement and Storm Force was co-created by legendary comics editor Barrie Tomlinson with Richard Burton (not that one) for the pages of Battle. In fact, you can check out early design sketches in the review of Barrie’s book. Barrie often said they’d have made a good toy range themselves and they were definitely designed to resemble such a line with a never-ending array of characters and their unique weaponry and add-ons. As such, they were perfect for a Mark Rodgers spoof in the sister comic.

As kids we’d obviously never think of the impracticalities of such attachments and that’s what made this so hilarious at the time, it was pointing out something ludicrous right in front of our young eyes. If you think about observational comedians who point out normal things to us that are actually ludicrous, it felt like that when I read this for the review. Eric ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson‘s art is always gorgeous too, especially when he gets the chance to have a full-colour page.

The story is on the same page as the previous Disney parodies and has the same banner title at the top. Again, I think this may have been for new readers so they wouldn’t be expecting more of the same spoof each week. Seasoned pig pals didn’t need such explanations. It’s a brilliant spoof though and one I’m sure Barrie would approve of.

As if being eaten alive wasn’t bad enough, this is no ordinary body

A quick look at some highlights from other pages in the issue now, starting with Hadrian Vile beginning to teach his new baby sister the important things in life, like crawling without being clumsy. The lengths he goes to are classic Hadrian and he gets up to the usual mischief, but it also shows that as far as his baby sister goes his heart is in the right place, which is sweet. Haldane’s Incredible Amazing Bizarre World is particularly funny for this fan of everything Ancient Egyptian and Frank Sidebottom meets Edwina Currie as she tagged along with the Smokebusters.

If you’d like to know more about the Smokebusters you can check out the previous issue for more on Frank’s trip, and the special free edition of OiNK given away to schools in parts of England was also reviewed just a few days ago on the blog! That’s right, there was an extra issue of OiNK you may not have seen before. I didn’t know about it at the time either and only got my hands on it not long ago for the review. So go check that out.

I’m not a fussy eater (stay with me here). I eat almost anything and try almost anything too. Except one thing. That one thing is oysters, I just can’t fathom how it can be pleasant swallowing a live slimy, salty little bit of sludge (you can tell I’ve never tried them) down my throat. I mean, the poor thing is still alive! Burp is a fan though and in this week’s strip we get to follow that aforementioned poor little oyster down his gullet. But as if being eaten alive wasn’t bad enough, this is no ordinary body.

I think the phrase is, “Well that escalated quickly”. I find the expression on the oyster in the large panel on the left just hilarious, as is the stomach’s horrible realisation in the next. It seems stomach and myself share a similar view on the matter. My favourite Burp strips always involve his organs or gratuitous, over-the-top cartoon violence and this strip manages to have both. Although, I do wonder where his pet specimen from Uranus has got to, we haven’t seen them in months.

Something I’ve noticed in recent issues is how Marc Riley’s strips such as Harry the Head and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth are no longer being written by him. He may still be drawing them but a range of different talent has been scripting his creations including Doctor Mooney He’s Completely Looney, written here by Mike Taylor, one of OiNK’s contributing artists who has drawn everything from a GBH Christmas Catalogue to Ye Ballad of Snatcher Sam and the advert for the OiNK sweatshirt.

An endless stream of visual “Doctor, Doctor” jokes, the gags in this strip remained fresh throughout and perhaps this was thanks to the now ever-changing scripting roster. Apart from the occasional absence the good doctor would be a regular in OiNK all the way to the end and I can’t remember if Marc would ever write any more. His Harry the Head strip, once a full-page main character would remain as a mini-strip from now on so perhaps Marc’s music and DJ work was taking up more of his time.

The back page calendar of this issue caused some controversy at the time, although not on the scale of the Janice and John strip from #7 which resulted in a complaint to the Press Council. I can’t even remember where I read that this next page caused a bit of backlash from certain quarters, it could be from a press clipping in a later issue so I’ll look out for it. But what could Tony Husband’s piggy-themed sports calendar do to upset people? I really don’t know, it’s only pigs playing football with a butcher’s head after all.

As I’ve mentioned before I never cut up my OiNKs. The Tom Thug Christmas Angel was finally made when I was in my 30s and the Frank Sidebottom zoetrope just last year for the blog, so I definitely never cut out an entire page to put these calendars up on the wall. I never even cut out the coupon to give to the newsagent, I just asked my shop to reserve my comics for me. However, those coupons did give co-editor Patrick Gallagher a chance to give some old drawings from an old book of Victorian drawings (previously ransacked for #23) a new lease of life and they became a series of cartoons in their own right.

That’s us for another issue and so far I’m enjoying reading OiNK and writing about it every single week, even if the comic hasn’t quite settled into its new format yet. This’ll come over the next few weeks and I’m really looking forward to that. So should you. In the meantime remember to come back next Saturday 27th January 2023 for #48 of the world’s funniest comic.

OiNK! SMOKEBUSTER SPECiAL!: RARE FUN

Not many pig pals will have seen the OiNK Smokebuster Special before and until last year neither had I, apart from the occasional photo of the cover as part of a heavily overpriced eBay auction. Then last year someone finally listed it at a sensible amount and I was able to snap it up. It’s been sitting in my OiNK collection between #46 and #47 ever since and now, after 35 years, I’ve been able to read it at last. I can’t tell you how excited I’ve been at the thought of reading a brand new OiNK all these years later! Was it worth the wait?

A little background first. Co-editors Patrick Gallagher, Tony Husband and Mark Rodgers teamed up with Project Smoke Free to produce this special 16-page edition to give away to school kids in the north western region of England. It’s good to have the logo on glossy paper again I have to say and inside we get mostly all new strips which don’t hold back in their messaging. In fact, I’m quite surprised at just how hard-hitting some of the humour actually is, such as with the very first strip called A Tale of Two Sisters by Tony.

In fact, all three of OiNK’s editors, as well as Chris Sievey aka Frank Sidebottom, smoked at the time but they still wanted to try stopping the children who looked up to their characters from making the mistake of starting themselves. One cartoonist who never started the habit and was more than happy to contribute was Lew Stringer and his Tom Thug seemed the perfect fit. Tom was someone who liked to present himself a certain way and would be stupid enough to think being seen smoking cigarettes would help with his image.

“I remember being commissioned to do an anti-smoking story for Tom Thug,” Lew told me. “I’ve never been a smoker and hate the damage it does to people so I didn’t hold back. I enjoyed doing my page and hopefully the comic had the desired effect on kids. Comics shy away from such things now but anti-smoking strips were commonplace in the comics I grew up with.” This strip is also notable for featuring a girl who actually likes Tom… for a whole three panels!

In Lew’s own blog post about such strips from the 60s he mentions one which featured a character telling the reader what they could afford to buy if they weren’t paying for cigarettes. That’s exactly what Frank does with his page in this and between him and Tom they cover the lighter end of the spectrum of content. Much more of it deals with the ultimate consequence of smoking. In fact about half of the comic drills home the fact that smoking leads to death. Like I said, it really doesn’t hold back.

Jeremy Banx certainly doesn’t either with his double-page Burp strip, particularly on the first page. Starting off with a silly little panel of him hoovering the lawn it soon gets very serious indeed. Yes, he’s talking to his lungs who are having a crafty smoke behind the outside loo, but the actual words Jeremy puts into Burp’s mouth are very serious indeed. They’re even accompanied by factual captions giving more context, something you don’t expect in a children’s comic.

Then again, this was an OiNK created to be supplied to schools, so ideally it needed to educate the kids on the dangers of smoking, alongside the laughs, and Jeremy really went to town on teaching the pig pals (and potential pig pals) about the background to the nasty habit. Of course, the second half of the strip sees it descend into more typical chaos and we get yet another weapon creation of Burp’s (remember the tractor beam?), this time it produces a somewhat accurate result, at least until they set themselves on fire.

Finishing off with the internal struggle (literally in his case) that comes with being an alien with sentient organs this is the main highlight of the special edition for me. Not that it’s lacking in others of course. Mike Peek brings his unique art style to a quiz, overseen by an equally unique version of Uncle Pigg that I just love and a smoking taxi driver gets a shock when he asks his passenger why they think smoking is unhealthy.

Even though this issue never made it into the hands of the larger OiNK audience there’s still a Grunts page with reader contributions and there are a couple of reprinted strips from the regular comic which fit in perfectly. The first is Plopeye the Sailor from #9 in which he ends up wheezing and exhausted trying to look after a baby because of the pipe he’s forever smoking. The second is a Pigg Tale from #15 called Up In Smoke, written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by Dave Follows.

It begins with young Pete learning what a conscience is, imagining it as a little elf character who lives inside his head telling him what’s the right things to do in life are, and the things which are wrong and he should never do. As he grows up the elf becomes more to him though, developing into an imaginary friend who’d continue to represent his inner thought processes whether he liked it or not. The stage is now set and we see Peter as a teenager and under a bit of peer pressure.

Yep, like all good lengthy OiNK one-offs it was a set up for perfectly atrocious pun. I have to say when I was a teenager I didn’t see any of this sort of peer pressure. None of my closest friends smoked and I must’ve lived in some form of personal bubble because only when meeting up years later with many of those friends did I find out it was more common than I’d thought. Even though this was a reprint its setting means it could easily have been created just for this schools special.

Towards the back of the comic is a madvertisement for a spoof cigarette brand with a skeleton as their mascot and in Addict!! a young woman tells us all the reasons why she smokes, showing us how contradictory her reasons are; smoking to relax but also when she’s stressed, when she was happy and when she became ill she smoked more because she was worried. She ends up at the pearly gates begging St. Peter for a fag. Just before this is a quick Health Warning drawn by Les Barton (Lezz).

There’s a little copyright notice on page two which states this issue of OiNK was published by Project Smoke Free at the North Western Regional Health Authority. In fact, it was printed by the OiNK editors themselves and thousands were handed out to schools free of charge. Patrick told me it was such a success that the school boards wanted it to go national and requested up to 1,000,000 copies for distribution! There was no way the OiNK guys could handle that amount so they approached OiNK’s publisher, Fleetway.

The press were on hand that day and even Junior Health Minister Edwina Currie showed up

Fleetway told them to leave it with them and then nothing happened. The reasons are unclear. But what a wasted opportunity! Imagine the publicity a million free copies throughout schools in England would’ve brought to the regular comic. Imagine the sales spikes. But nope, the success of the Smokebuster Special ended with this one unique edition. If it had gone nationwide imagine the shock of those in the press, not to mention the pressure groups, who criticised OiNK as being a bad influence on children.

A funny story is linked to this issue. In #46 of OiNK we saw Frank Sidebottom with a bunch of pig pals promoting their anti-smoking message. The press were on hand that day and even Junior Health Minister Edwina Currie showed up, as shown in #47. However, once the kids were on their trains home the OiNK editors and Chris Sievey (Frank) all lit up! The press was still there to catch the moment too. I don’t think Uncle Pigg would’ve been too happy with that funny moment, do you?

This Ian Jackson image makes up the back cover and rounds things off nicely with a nice, subtle message from our editor. It’s been great to finally get my hands on this 35 years after the fact and to have some new OiNK material to read. I didn’t expect that in 2023! Check out #46 and #47 (the review of the latter will be up three days after this post is published) for more on this and if you’d like to see another special free edition of the comic there’s also the Crash magazine edition from 1987 to check out.