Tag Archives: Jeremy Banx

OiNK! #8: SKELE-TON OF FUN

I had a particularly pleasant time reading this issue of OiNK. It’s always a positive experience but blue skies, a beer and a furry feline friend for company heightened it even further. It was a different reading experience for what is a very different issue, kicking off with co-editor Patrick Gallagher‘s anarchic front cover.

As mentioned last time, after what must’ve been an exhaustive summer special Uncle Pigg and his staff were off on holidays, leaving issue eight in the capable hands of his skeleton staff. While their hands would be anything but capable, the second part of his description was more accurate. That’s right, actual skeletons make up the skeleton staff (of course they do) and the front cover pretty much sums up what’s to come with its slapdash approach and apparent mistakes.

Inside we meet Boss Bones and some of the hilarious substitutes for the humans that normally put the comic together. Brilliantly, the artists’ signatures have even been changed throughout to match these pseudonyms; some have clearly been edited after the fact but some have been changed by the artists themselves.

Throughout we’re treated to the skeletons printing whole pages upside down, spilling jam and bursting their fountain pens as they make a general hash of putting an issue of OiNK together. Here are two such examples from the Grunts letters page and Marc Riley‘s Harry the Head.

Two of the artists who really embraced the chaos were Jeremy Banx and Davy Francis, or rather their substitutes ‘Bonex’ and ‘Bony Hart’, the latter named after Tony Hart, the famous 80s children’s TV artist. Mr Big Nose‘s strip is made up of completely random panels with no correlation to each other, the star telling us it would’ve all made sense if the skeletons had remembered to include speech balloons. Jeremy later brings us three comic-invading butchers, a one off surprise that evolves into the ongoing Butcherwatch series, which in turn will introduce us to the comic’s arch nemesis, Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith.

I’m reminded of a stand up comedian (I want to say Lee Evans) who noticed how everyone loves their local butcher, they comment on how friendly and trustworthy they are, they chat away while ordering their food, and this all happens despite the fact the butcher’s apron will invariably be covered in blood from the carcasses of dead animals they sawed into little bits just moments before. I remember laughing at this and I’ve never forgotten it to this day when I visit my local shop and see that play out in front of me.

This just reminded me of that.

Davy’s alter ego wasn’t in the same league as his namesake, as evidenced with his How to Draw page written by Mark Rodgers, or rather ‘Jolly Rodgers’. Bony’s advice was to cheat at every possible opportunity. This could include only showing the backs of heads because there are less features to draw, only having buildings very far away so they are nothing more than dots on the horizon, and never showing still figures. He claims this final tip is because they’re boring for the reader, but the real reason is so he can draw them running out of frame, their body replaced with nothing but zoom lines.

Naturally before any of us would’ve pinned her up on our bedroom walls she had to be the butt of a joke.

The OiNK Superstar Posters make a welcome return this issue, or rather a generic ‘OiNK Poster’ is included. The reason a word is missing from the title is the subject matter. In the previous issue Ian Jackson (who had taken over poster duties from J.T. Dogg) drew Uncle Pigg as the subject of the only OiNK MEGAstar Poster, so with it being the turn of Mary Lighthouse (critic) the bland title this time is a joke in itself.

Mary’s a surprising pick so naturally before any of us would’ve pinned her up on our bedroom walls she had to be the butt of a joke. This is brilliantly explained in a full page strip by Mark and Ian in which the skeleton crew try their best, which of course means the worst possible outcome will inevitably happen.

Moving on, the gorgeous lady below played the role of Terry Wogham in an early photo story series, one of which I’ve already shown in issue five‘s review. This would be her final appearance, shot all out of focus after the skeletons handed the role of photographer to Weedy Willy. Tony Husband told me he went on all of the photoshoots for this particular series including the last one, during which the farmer told them they’d completed their story just in time because she was due to go to the slaughterhouse the next day!

Having gotten to know her over a few years the team’s hearts were broken and they even considered buying her and renting a field in which she could live out the rest of her life, but unfortunately they weren’t able to in the end. Terry lives on though in the hearts and minds of pig pals everywhere.

Towards the back of the comic Uncle Pigg’s loyal assistant Percy Plop (named for the first time) telephones his boss to inform him of how the issue is panning out and the response is so loud it flings Percy across the room where he sticks to the wall! We get a brilliant strip showing our editor’s return to the office which acts as a full page Next Issue promo. You’ll see it on Friday 20th August, a few days before issue nine’s review. With the comic back in his capable trotters it was time for a more traditional ending to the issue.


“We really got the drop on him, didn’t we?”

Eustace the Underpants

Do you remember Jimbo & the Jet Set?  Were you a fan?  Are you singing the theme tune now?  Oh dear, sorry. Premiering on BBC One in the early weeks of 1986 the show was at its height when OiNK came along, making it perfect fodder for the team’s own spin on the idea of anthropomorphic objects. If you watched the cartoon you’ll know Jimbo was joined by various talking trucks, helicopters and even a set of airplane steps, all chattering away on the tarmac. Patrick Gallagher decided to run with that idea.

This wouldn’t be the last time a popular talking form of transport would get the OiNK treatment. If you think back to the 1980s I’m sure if you try to guess who I’m talking about you’ll be on the right track. It’s a favourite of mine so I’ll definitely be including that one too.

Let’s finish this issue with the back cover, where we find Tom Thug and his dad have made it to Blackpool after setting off last issue. It’s not only the first time we get to see a colour strip from Lew Stringer in OiNK, it was the first one he’d produced to ever see print. Readers of The Transformers would’ve seen coloured Robo-Capers by Lew before now but those were coloured in-house at Marvel UK using overlays for flat colours.

IPC Magazines printed OiNK on high grade paper and everything was hand coloured for more depth. To be fair, the early editions of Transformers contained hand coloured artwork on the main strip and cover too. In the case of this Tom Thug strip Lew used water colour inks and the result is lovely. Even that final panel.

Speaking of which, according to Lew the final panel had some dialogue edited by one of the comic’s editors; the word “sink” was originally meant to be “bog”. It was rare for something like that to be changed in OiNK.

Having a full colour back page surely shows how well regarded Tom was with the editors. He was certainly appreciated by the fans, including this one. To this day Tom is my favourite comics character of all time and I’ll be looking forward to each of his instalments in this read through.

So that’s us for another issue. OiNK may be safely back in the trotters of Uncle Pigg but I don’t think Mary Lighthouse will be as safe, not with the next issue’s theme being that of revenge. You can check back in two weeks to see exactly how that’s enacted, the next review is published on Monday 23rd August. Ta-ra for now.

OiNK! #5: PERFECT PiG PALS

While the main event of this fifth issue of OiNK is the Unfair Funfair adventure game and there’s no theme as such, there’s an overall feeling of celebration inside, a celebration that the comic was proving to be a hit among its target audience. It contains the first contributions from readers, with a few small jokes and drawings scattered throughout, there’s a photo story showing us the kind of kids who were reading OiNK and reference is made to their letters in some of the strips.

Things begin with Mary Lighthouse on page two as per usual and something stood out in its last panel. The image of Mary and the words Uncle Pigg is shouting were definitely not by strip artist Ian Jackson, so I asked Patrick Gallagher about it. In Mark Rodgers‘ original script the mass of letters was meant to be hate mail for Mary but IPC Magazines didn’t like this reference and asked for it to be toned down. It was changed to reference fan mail for the comic which I think is actually funnier. You can compare the two ideas below.

I love the set up with Mary receiving three complaints and calling it an outcry. It all feels very contemporary. After all, that’s how The Daily Mail still operates today, isn’t it? This strip would coincidentally end up quite prophetic. While it’s obviously a joke, it’s strikingly similar to something the comic’s editors would face after a certain story is published in #7, but we’ll get to that later.

Directly below this on the same page is a character whose name is somewhat direct. In fact you could say it’s a bit on the nose. Mr. Big Nose would introduce surreal humour to the young audience in a way that really shouldn’t work in a children’s comic, but it did. One issue he could be showing us gravity is actually invisible creatures holding everything down, or he’d be ignoring an alien assassin by reading the newspaper, or playing Rambo in a school play of Little Bo-Peep, or having his vacuum cleaner turned into a dolphin.

Mr Big Nose’s strips followed no rules and the more absurd the situation, the more bizarre the juxtapositions, the more they didn’t make sense the funnier they were. With no barriers in his way, Jeremy Banx‘s imagination was on full display and this kind of humour would also start to spill over into his Burp the Smelly Alien strip in later issues too.

Appearing in almost every one of the fortnightly issues of OiNK Mr Big Nose would sadly disappear with #45, the first weekly edition. However, including specials Jeremy would end up crafting 42 completely different tales for us to enjoy, and enjoy them we did. That dolphin’s name often gets quoted by pig pals online to this day!

So as I said at the top of the review this issue brought with it the first contributions by OiNK’s readers. The regular space for these was the Grunts page but it only contains one drawing this time and some made up letters to Uncle Pigg from imaginary readers for a laugh. Soon enough it would be full to bursting with readers’ celebrity spoofs, photos, newspaper clippings of pigs in the news, poems and of course jokes for Nasty Laffs and Specs.

These two little panels aren’t on the letters page, instead popping up right at the beginning of the issue on page three. Rather than simply printing the written letters sent in OiNK would illustrate them too, which would just spur on the young readership more. Who wouldn’t have wanted to see their joke turned into a cartoon strip?


“You smell awful! You must be a City supporter!”

Random human to Burp the Smelly Menace from Outer Space

Interestingly, OiNK also printed input from readers in their holiday specials and annuals, something no other annual I collected as a kid ever did. While my Marvel UK comics had standard letters pages answered in very entertaining ways, IPC (and later Fleetway) would often encourage their readers to send something different. Barrie Tomlinson, editor of many action adventure comics was always asking readers to contribute to a wonderful variety of features on his letters pages. But OiNK went even further and just let them send in whatever they wanted!

So who were these young readers, these so-called “pig pals”? Time for Terry Wogham to investigate.

Terry Wogham was a series of photo stories in the earliest issues where a real pig interviewed a series of top celebrities. Of course, we’d often only see these special guests from his eye level, so the comic could get away with only showing their legs and torso. For this issue though we got to see the faces of those interviewees, a selection of Typical OiNK Readers.

Like looking in a mirror. The strip contains all three of OiNK’s creators. Mark Rodgers can be seen wearing the bald cap and bandana with a toothless mouth drawn over him, then that’s him at the bottom left of the final panel, with Tony Husband and his son Paul behind him. Patrick Gallagher is in the middle of the back row, with his former wife Ann to the right (his left), then Ann’s brother James who was also an OiNK photographer. In front of James is his wife Alanna and in the middle of the front row is Tony’s wife, Carole.

So who remembers those Make-Your-Own Adventure books? For the uninitiated I’m referring to children’s novels designed to be read in a non-linear fashion, very much like the text adventure games on home computers at the time. At the end of each page you’d be given a choice of where to take the story next and the corresponding page numbers for each choice, the idea being to make it to the end of the adventure alive. For example the character could be faced with a spooky house or a haunted forest and they could decide to turn to page ‘x’ to enter the house, or page ‘y’ to walk towards the forest. 

Whether it was intended or not, I remember Horace teaching me not to judge anyone by how they look.

The format was ripe for an OiNK parody. Bringing the idea of The Unfair Funfair to life was artist Ralph Shephard, fresh off his excellent riff on The Transformers in #3. He would also go on to draw one of my all-time favourite spoofs from the comic, but that’s a tale for another review. His previous colourful style is replaced with black and white for the most part which suits the setting perfectly with its lovely feeling of spooky mischievousness.

Just like the books this was based on, the cover proclaims “You are Barry the butcher”, but surely that’s the last thing an OiNK reader would want? How can a butcher be the hero of the adventure? Read on, try the game and find out for yourself.

After you’ve tried a few of the options I’m sure you can probably guess what the note on the Grunts page said. To quote Uncle Pigg, “You are Barry the butcher … and I am the fairground owner! Whatever choices you make, you’ll still end up in the swill!!! Told you it was an Unfair Funfair! Hurr hurr hurr!!” Well, the clue was in the name after all, but it’s still fun to try out all the options. Even though you know what’s going to happen next, making those different choices just to end up reading the same panel again and again is the whole point and what makes it so funny.

Besides the blockbuster main event, other highlights include Nigel and Skrat the Two-Headed Rat, Noel Ford‘s weird creations who only appeared in half a dozen issues believe it or not. I say that because I’ve very vivid memories of them! New thief on the block Swindler Sid pops up in Snatcher Sam, Uncle Pigg brings readers up to date on Hoggy Bear‘s predicament in The Street-Hogs before heading home, and while trying to make new human friends Burp‘s breath gets him into hot water.

The final highlight I’m pulling out of this issue’s hat is Tony Husband‘s lovable character, Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins. To anyone new to OiNK the title of this strip might give them the impression of a clichéd comics character with one certain feature or ability that would be played for easy laughs. But as always with OiNK, created as a reaction to such tired comics ideas, there’s a lot more to it than that.

Horace’s strip would alternate between funny, contained stories and ongoing serials showing his struggles at simply trying to live his life. The early stories featured funny scenarios centred around his appearance, but never in a cruel way. He could scare off a monster by complete accident and end up the hero for example and he never seemed to lose his upbeat outlook at life. This issue’s strip sees his parents try to hide his looks from his visiting wealthy uncle, only for it backfire on them and their assumptions.

As OiNK continued the strip matured into an ongoing serial involving Horace’s football career. At times he’d get down about his looks, his treatment by others and how cruel the world could be, but he was a strong individual and we’d cheer him on every fortnight. His story even had a proper ending when the comic finished and a very happy one at that.

Whether it was intended or not, I remember Horace teaching me not to judge anyone by how they look, a strong message for anyone but in particular for a child reading it and getting swept up in the laughs and the adventure. I never felt lectured, never thought Tony was even trying to do any of this, but it’s what I took away from it and as such I believe he was an important part of my development as a child.

On that note it’s time to place this fifth issue of OiNK back onto the bookshelves and look forward to the next edition in a fortnight’s time. Issue six is the Animal Crackers issue and it certainly is a cracker! There comes a time in any comic’s early life when it all just seems to click, to gel together and prove its potential and I’ll tell you all about that moment in OiNK’s run on Friday 12th July.

OiNK! #2: STiCKiNG iT TO THE ROYALS

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.

[Harry the Head] paid tribute to the Dambusters, believe it or not.

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.”

Tony Husband

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. Also, according to Paul himself the photographer was none other than Ian Tilton, who has worked with legends such as Iggy Pop, The Stone Roses and whose Kurt Cobain photographs were hailed by Q Magazine as among the best rock photographs ever taken.

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.