For the last time in the regular comic let’s take a look at that classic logo as big, big changes are afoot.
Looking a lot like the cover to Shoot! magazine or Roy of the Rovers comic, probably deliberately spoofing them, comes our last weekly OiNK and this front page starring Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins by Tony Husband. Inside, Horace’s strip would run to a whopping four pages in our final 24-page issue, rounding up his football drama with a happy ending and the promise of “Great new adventures of the ugly boy wonder in OiNK! Monthly”. Yep, we’ve reached that time of OiNK’s real time read through.
There’s no indication on the cover of any “great news for all readers” inside, although Uncle Pigg does hint that there’s something big, fat and glossy coming up and, if readers hadn’t already scanned through the comic to the back page they’d have assumed he just meant something along the lines of another Holiday Special. In fact, if readers did read the comic from beginning to end without looking at the rear page that final panel in Horace’s strip may have made for quite the shock!
Back to the rest of the issue for now though and our final regular Burp (sounds like something we’d see our doctors about.)
As good as ever and that rat-like creature in the final panel had me in stitches reading this today, however as the final Burp I think last week’s reads better, what with it being a double-page strip and leaving him (and all of us!) stranded in the 50s and having to live life out to the 80s again. (Maybe it was created as the last one?) Yes, Burp and his cartoonist Jeremy Banx do return with a mammoth story in The OiNK! Book 1989 but that would’ve been created long before this point, so as far as Jeremy was concerned this was his final OiNK page.
I asked co-editor Patrick Gallagher about Jeremy’s absence from the monthlies and Ian Jackson’s reduced contributions by this stage too. “Ian and Jeremy were also very busy on their other work outside of OiNK and since we had a healthy stockpile of other artists’ material building up, we were never short to allow them a break,” he told me. “Also, at that time, we had no idea that OiNK was going to fold, so always expected [Jeremy’s characters] might return later on.”
So long Burp and thank you for all of the laughs Jeremy! As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, his Burp strip in the second annual ended up teaching me a thing or two about growing up as I headed towards my teen years. You’ll have to wait until Christmas to find out what! For now, from one long-term regular bidding adieu to one of the newer characters also making her final appearance, and she’s saved her best for last. It’s Charlie Brooker’s Transmogrifying Tracey.
What’s so brilliant about this for me are the reader voices, especially when one of them questions the gaping plot hole I’d spotted too. This may be Tracey’s final appearance but it wasn’t Charlie’s. Mr. Brooker’s OiNK career would go from strength-to-strength in the months to come, his name popping up on more pages than ever. We definitely have that to look forward to. Being able to transform into anything may sound like Tracey’s strip had limitless potential but Charlie brings her time to an end, and I think that reader’s question points out how it could’ve become a rather repetitive strip, so instead we’re left with fond memories of her time in the comic.
Looking over some of the other highlights of the issue and you can see how Uncle Pigg’s announcement in Grunts on page two may have had readers thinking something other than what was ahead. GBH takes the marketing slogan of Allison’s bread adverts in the 80s to the extreme and after all the drama of memory loss, stalkers and nuclear monsters Horace (Ugly face) Watkins‘ football serial comes to its conclusion with something even more horrific. Then, Lew Stringer answers a question we really should’ve asked by now.
Pete and his Pimple has been with us since #15 but not once have we considered the ramifications of his existence on the wider world. Sounds very serious, doesn’t it? Who cares about the clean up, the putrid mess left behind on the streets of Oinktown and the health hazard of having large amounts of greasy, slimy pus all over the pavements? As it turns out Albert Piles cares. He follows Pete around, shovelling up all the pus as Pete dances away spot-free without a care in the world, then he takes it to become glue for holding pages together at… well, I’m sure you can work it out.
There’s no Frank Sidebottom strip or showbiz gossip column this issue, but what we get instead is a very memorable page indeed, one which I can remember seeing for the very first time 35 years ago. This superb full-page mini-poster of Batbottom and Bobbins (the later being his go-to phrase for anything he found to be a bit rubbish) is completely charming and completed using Chris Sievey’s usual felt-tip pens. Oh, I mean, it’s not Chris at all, nor is it Frank and Little Frank, the identity of those responsible for this page are clearly a secret.
Lovely stuff. I love the sheer silliness on display here and not just the main picture. The fact the pin-up being on Page 17 is deemed important to mention, making sure the reader knows they’re not from Timperley, and the knowingness of the captions on the bottom-left that we’ll never see them again. Frank would of course continue with his crazy, random OiNK pages all the way to the very end. In fact, he’d be the cover star of that fateful, final issue!
One of my favourite additions to the weeklies has been the inclusion of some lovely full-page strips containing no dialogue and very few panels, like large mini-strips if you’ll pardon the contradiction. These started off with co-editor Tony Husband’s very funny series of such pages, but as the Horace Watkins strip started to take up more space and more of Tony’s time another cartoonist began creating his own. Up stepped Ed McHenry with such creations as Ringo Pig in #50 and of course the return of Eric Plinge seven days ago in #61.
This one has got to be my favourite of Ed’s. It’s a gorgeous page too and beautifully coloured, especially when you see it on the printed page. It has such character in every panel and a genuinely funny surprise. These simple full-page strips became a fixture in the weeklies and I think being in a slightly smaller comic made them stand out all the more. No other humour comic would’ve dedicated such space to what is essentially a quick gag in a 24-page comic.
Of course, with double the amount of pages from next issue onwards will we see a plethora of these? Or will we be treated to new and exciting variations of OiNK content that we haven’t seen before? Some of the OiNK team really do take advantage of the larger canvas, as you’ll see in the months ahead. Let’s wrap up this issue first though with a Madvertisement from Kev F Sutherland, featuring a jingle that’s used to this day for Fairy Liquid, although not quite with these words.
Well here we are at page 24 and the shape of things to come. You’ll remember in #54 Uncle Pigg ran a reader’s survey and the change from next issue came off the back of that. As co-editor Patrick Gallagher told me in that issue’s review, Fleetway were making enquiries about turning OiNK monthly already and the aim of the survey was to see if the readers liked the idea. Clearly they did. As a child this back page did excite me, but then again I always liked ‘new looks’ in my comics and it sounded like we were going to essentially get a huge Holiday Special every single month!
At the time I liked the new logo (just like the original it was also designed by Patrick) but as an adult I do wish they’d kept the one we’d had since the beginning, it had more character to it and felt like it summed up the feel of OiNK more than the new one. But that’s just a bit of a quibble, I’ll leave my opinions about the monthlies until I actually read and review them. I do remember from childhood that after a couple of issues they’d really take advantage of the page count, a bit like how it took a little while for the team to settle into the weeklies, in fact.
So Uncle Pigg gets the final word in the final weekly. It’s all change next issue but at least we haven’t got a full month to wait for that huge porker of an issue. Each of the following OiNKs would go on sale on the third Saturday of every month in 1988, beginning in May. This means we’ve only 16 days to wait for a month’s worth of fun! I’ll see you back here for OiNK #63 on Sunday 21st may 2023 for all of those “sophisticated” smelly jokes.