Tag Archives: John Geering

OiNK! #32: PHYSiCAL FUN

I’m not a sports fan, never have been. As a kid when OiNK was published my dad and brother were football mad but I simply had no interest. The Olympics were always the exception though and that remains true today, I’ll be glued to the TV day and night for two weeks solid (I’ve even booked time off work before for them) but then for four years normal service resumes. So it was with trepidation that I approached the latest issue of OiNK, which upon first glance I had no recollection of from childhood.

But now I’ve finished the issue I needn’t have worried. Beginning with that cover by Steve McGarry whose work we haven’t seen since #4, and this would be the last cover (and accompanying strip) he’d draw for the comic, his contribution to The OiNK! Book 1988 already completed even if we wouldn’t see it for a while yet. But it’s the panels down the left that really had me laughing, in particular the one about sports commentators! A funny start and inside the first laugh out loud moments come courtesy of Jeremy Banx’s smelly alien, Burp.

At this point Burp’s attempts at ingratiating himself with his human neighbours seem to be entering a rather gory phase, beginning with the malfunctioning fast food machine in #30 and in a strip I didn’t feature last issue he sliced off the top of Ronald Reagan’s head to have a chat with his brain. Bringing this little girl’s teddy bear to life might be the thing of fairy tales but as you can see Jeremy took it a step further to show the repercussions of such an act bedtime stories never would.

As well as the blackness of the blood adding to the funny horror and the bear’s protestations, there are a lot of moments here I found myself chuckling away to, not least of all Burp’s long explanation of what he did to the bear while never catching on that this was previously a toy. Also the fact it’s all done with ‘Bupa’ rays. Adverts for Bupa were on the telly all the time back then so even as a child I’d have found this funny. This issue wouldn’t be the last time we’d see this teddy either. It was, however, the first time we saw two other individuals.

One of my most fondly remembered strips, David Haldane’s Torture Twins was a regular staple of the comic from here on in, appearing in every regular issue except the penultimate monthly. It was a tale of twin brothers who really enjoyed their work. Their work just happened to be medieval torturers. In such a dark profession I guess it helps to have a good sense of humour! From gags and puns based on the style of torture they were using, to more ridiculous forms of torture, they were a highlight and a fan favourite! It’s good to finally see them here.

I knew of the Day of the Triffids from watching the movie not long before this issue, so it was the perfect material to parody

While this issue as a whole didn’t seem to jog the memory cells as much as others there’s one definite highlight that takes me right back to the first time I read it. In fact, it was the first time I’d come across these characters (my first issue was #14) who had made such a huge impact with pig pals who’d been with the comic from the start. Written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by J.T. Dogg, the second epic adventure for The Street-Hogs began here. The Day of the Triffics would be a lot shorter than their original story but it made a huge impact on me.

For young readers at the time already familiar with them it must’ve felt like an age since their last appearance in #11. The hype of their return began in #27 and was further added to last time with a large poster, but now the moment was finally here. I was completely won over by the potential of the strip by two things, namely the return of Dogg as the artist after I’d loved his work on Ham Dare, and the reason behind the plants being called Triffics!

It’s been too long since we’ve had a series of one preposterous cliffhanger after another, with equally ridiculous escapes the following issue. I knew of the Day of the Triffids from watching the movie late one night with my mum not long before this, so it was the perfect material to parody as far as I was concerned. The mysterious baddie really isn’t mysterious at all for those who’d read the first adventure, but that was all part of the fun, that our heroes who were so daring and gung-ho couldn’t even figure that out! I’m really looking forward to the next few issues.

So far out of the highlights I’ve shown only one has stuck to the theme, so here’s a selection of panels taken from throughout the issue. Pete and his Pimple finally work together to show it’s not all a bum deal for the spotty teen, there are some exercise ideas even I could get behind, a very funny spoof tabloid The Bumb is more believable than the real thing (and stars radio DJ Mark Radcliffe!), and then the final panel is about as close as we’d get to a friendship between Hector Vector and his Talking T-Shirt.

DJ and TV presenter, and close friend of editor Patrick Gallagher and writer/artist (and fellow radio DJ) Marc Riley, Mark Radcliffe worked alongside both on The Mark Radcliffe Show on BBC Radio One after OiNK and Round the Bend came to an end. The three also performed as The Shirehorses, a parody band that came off the back of the radio show. Also, Patrick and Mark performed with Chris Sievey aka Frank Sidebottom in his Oh Blimey Big Band, a photo of which you can see in #16‘s review. Of course, you’ll also know Marc and Mark as Mark and Lard!

Do you remember spot-the-ball competitions? They could still be around for all I know, but in case they’re not they’d run in newspapers and magazines back in the 80s and would involve a photograph taken during some action in a football game, with the ball itself removed from the picture. This would always be very cleverly disguised and given the technology of the day was quite the feat because there’d be no trace of it in the photo.

Competition entrants would need to look at the positions of each individual player, their actions, where they’re looking etc. and try to figure out where best to place their ‘X’ to highlight where they think the ball was in that precise moment. The team behind OiNK decided to run a similar competition in this sports issue and went to the same painstaking levels of professionalism to ensure it was as difficult to work out as possible. Well, difficult if you’re a cretin apparently.

I was so happy to see the return of Tom’s Toe in this issue! Originally appearing back in #12 he then popped up in the first Holiday Special before disappearing again until #30. Given the nature of the strip, that it would parody clichés from OiNK’s own sister publications, it worked best as a special character who’d just pop up now and again. If Tom had been a regular I think the joke could’ve worn thin and he could’ve strayed into cliché himself.

Thankfully that never happened and here his return is marked with a brilliant strip which really highlights the differences between OiNK and other comics of the day. Of course, it’s all helped along by the fact it’s drawn by John Geering whose usual work was among that which Tom was parodying! So, this time Tom and his friends are playing a game of footie when the ball bursts. What to do? Well, we have a boy whose toe can take on any form so naturally he grows it to resemble a football.

Tom’s four appearances were brief but memorable and the perfect antidote to the safer humour OiNK was created to counter

This halfway point of the page feels like the end gag for a traditional strip in another comic; “Haha, oh he made it into a football this week, I wonder what he’ll do next time haha?” But this is OiNK. OiNK was different, it went further. In this case, it takes the scenario further to see what would actually happen next, turning the second half of the strip into something else completely, into classic OiNK! The whole page is kind of like a metaphor for the difference between traditional comics and this one.

Unfortunately, this would be the last time we’d ever see Tom. His four appearances were brief but memorable and the perfect antidote to the safer humour OiNK was created to counter in the first place. John would return in the first OiNK Book, drawing more jokes aimed at other comics he worked on. As a child I’d no idea this was the case because OiNK was the only humour comic I collected for a while, but now I can appreciate his contributions even more than I originally did.

The final page I’d like to highlight is once again Frank Sidebottom’s. Chris Sievey was a creative genius, let’s make no bones about it, and since he joined the ranks of OiNK he’s designed a cut-out zoetrope, his own Time magazine cover and even created working programs for young ZX Spectrum computer users! The page he’s brought us this time once again shows the insane amount of work he’d put into OiNK. We appreciated it every single time.

No other character had such a variety of content from issue to issue. We just never knew what would be next with Frank! He particularly seemed to enjoy giving us an excuse to cut up our precious comics, giving us even more value for (our parents’) money. He certainly didn’t let us down with his (deep breath) Frank “Windy” Sidebottom vs Elton John All-Star Cut-Out Snooker Game. The rules alone were surely a feat to create. At one stage he even suggests throwing them out, they’re that intricate!

A simply wonderful page for us to finish on this time. The next OiNK comic review will be up from Monday 25th July 2022, the theme of which really puzzled me back in 1987, then made me very happy indeed to be living in Northern Ireland and not another part of the UK as a child. You’ll have to come back in a fortnight to find out what that’s all about.

OiNK! #19: SiX-PACK PORK BELLY

As sure as the sun sets at the end of each day, every January the great general public invest their hard earned cash in gym memberships, magazines with their promise of beach bodies, and so-called ‘detox’ juices. By February everything will be back to normal, the weight loss and fitness resolutions will be long forgotten and they’ll have come to the realisation that our livers will do for free what those juices proclaim to do for extortionate amounts of money. It’s oh-so predictable, but that can not be said of this issue of OiNK when they decided to take aim at this tradition.

The Keep Fit Special kicks off with this Jeremy Banx cover of Arnold Schwarzenhogger, who would “be back” in the first monthly issue over a year later. Look closely at Jeremy’s colouring and you can see the individual strokes, even where he’s leaned heavier at the beginning or end of each. When you look at the picture as a whole they merge together into a lovely shaded image. I enjoy seeing these old covers and the individual elements like this, much like the felt tip pens used by Chris Sievey on his Frank Sidebottom pages.

The Sekret Diary ov Hadrian Vile kicks things off and our pint-sized menace finds himself in the situation of being forced to exercise. Heaven forbid. I loved swimming at school, but much like Hadrian it was less about doing lengths and more about just having fun in the water. His teacher isn’t having it, but soon finds himself in need of saving thanks to Hadrian, though to be fair he wasn’t wearing his glasses. I’d always assumed his eyes were roughly the size of his frames, to see them drawn by Ian Jackson this way is so funny.

But there’s something even funnier here, though it might not be immediately apparent. It certainly wasn’t when I read this as a child. OiNK’s co-creator/editor Mark Rodgers wrote the script as always and the name of one of Hadrian’s friends wasn’t simply plucked out of the air by the hugely talented writer. In real life Mark was Helen Jones‘ other half. In recent years Helen and I have chatted about those days and I even received Mark’s OiNK mug as a Christmas gift! (Helen also sent me some information on a particular event in OiNK’s history which I’ll be sharing later this year.) I asked her about those panels above and she told me, “Can’t say I’m surprised.” It does makes the strip even funnier!

Given the amount of food I’ve put away over the Christmas holidays this really speaks to me

In the 80s exercise routines were a regular part of breakfast television, most famously presented by Lizzie Webb and Mr. Motivator. While we sat bleary-eyed, eating sugary cereal, trying to get the energy for the walk to school, they’d be jumping up and down in their lycra and shouting towards the camera, urging us to do the same. Needless to say we just watched. OiNK’s take was much more accurate.

Given the amount of food I’ve put away over the Christmas holidays (not to mention the amount that’s still to be eaten) this really speaks to me. It’s an on-point spoof of what everyone is really thinking when they tell themselves they’re going to get fit in the new year. It’s also the first contribution from prolific OiNK cartoonist Eric (Wilkie) Wilkinson, whose most famous character was friendly zombie Dead Fred who also makes his debut this issue. Wilkie would go on to contribute to 39 OiNKs altogether, often giving us more than one strip per issue and in #20 you’ll see one of his best.


“Wha-? This isn’t a real pig!”

The Weakun

Alongside the workouts our breakfast television included repeats of the ludicrous 60s Batman series. While it always felt more like a spoof of Batman rather than an actual adaptation of the comic, OiNK took old cliffhanger serials such as it and others and spoofed them further. First we had the Street-Hogs, told over a whopping 12 parts, then in #15 was the first adventure for Ham Dare, Pig of the Future which comes to its conclusion here. It may have been a much shorter story but it was no less enjoyable. In fact, I’d say each episode has been packed with many more gags than the ‘Hogs had.

Last issue the penultimate chapter ended with The Weakun‘s soldiers gunning down our fearless hero, several lasers firing through his body. This scene is repeated in the first panel below. He must be dead. There’s no way even writer Lew Stringer could have him survive that, surely? Actually, no there’s not. He didn’t survive those blasts. The solution to the cliffhanger is even more ludicrous than that would’ve been.

Sight gags, puns, exaggerated British wartime gusto and one silly plot twist after another fill every panel in what is a hilarious conclusion to Ham’s first OiNK outing. (I particularly liked the repeat of the speedy entrance from the first episode.) I’m going to miss Ham and Pigby, but while they do return for three more adventures later this was the only one to be serialised across more than one issue. In fact, they don’t return to the regular comic at all. Instead they pop up in both of the OiNK Books and the third Holiday Special (released several months after OiNK’s cancellation), all of which are multi-page strips with plenty of gorgeous J.T. Dogg artwork to savour. Hurry back Ham!

Another character who debuted alongside Ham back in #15 was the fondly remembered Greedy Gorb – He’d Eat Anything, a creation of Cowpat County‘s Davy Francis. Food-loving comics characters were nothing new, with some examples that immediately come to mind being Garfield and Bash Street KidsFreddy. But Greedy Gorb took over-eating to new extremes. There were no lasagnes or slap up feeds of sausages and mash anywhere to be seen and that tagline was taken quite literally.

Gorb’s diet would get increasingly bizarre, surrounded by Davy’s trademark puns and background gags. He became a firm favourite of mine and I’d look forward to seeing what he’d eat next. This would mostly be to satisfy his hunger, but at other times he’d choose a specific item to eat for another reason (such as the kitchen clock so his mum loses track of time and he misses the start of school). He would appear in 33 issues altogether and would even give Davy the opportunity to draw his first comics cover.

In the middle of the issue is The OiNK Cross-Country Race, billed as ‘Excitingly Dangerous’ on the cover. OiNK would give us a few various board games over time, some favourites being one with a Pete and his Pimple theme, one drawn by Frank Sidebottom and a version of Happy Families. I’d forgotten all about this one though.

Drawn by John Geering, it’s definitely more rough around the edges than later games but I think that adds to the madcap nature of it all. It includes every excuse under the sun to stop the players or send them back several places. It’d take an awful lot of luck to reach the end of this one in any decent amount of time. It’s fun to see John let loose, unrestricted by the conventional drawing techniques he’d have to apply in the pages of the more traditional comics he worked for at the time.

A couple of other quick highlights from this issue has Weedy Willy doing a very good example of me when I’ve tried new ways of getting fit in Januaries past, and smelly alien Burp takes the start of a new year as an opportunity for a check up with his doctor.

There’s one strip in this issue that I’ve already shown you on the site. Mark Rodgers and Helen Jones wrote the very funny Wanda with the Wooden Leg as their take on the girls’ comics of the day (it’s presented by Bumty comic). The artwork looked like it was taken straight from those titles, so it worked perfectly. It was illustrated by the amazingly talented Les ‘Lezz’ Barton who sadly passed away in 2008. You can read about Lezz and read the full strip in the Remembering Lezz post here.

When Uncle Pigg‘s skeleton crew took over production of the comic for #8 some butchers sneaked their way on to the pages, beginning a new series by Jeremy Banx called Butcher Watch Updates, a spin on the Crimewatch television series. The updates told readers to “watch out for your snout and mind your rind” and soon they were sending in reports of seeing the crazed butchers in their local shops. One in particular was reported more than the others. In #14 Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith had made his first appearance in one of the updates and he immediately struck a chord with readers.

Rounding off this issue is the introduction of another new character. He would only appear sporadically and in eight issues altogether, but his debut is kind of a big deal with the gift of hindsight. That’s because the cartoonist behind him was none other than Charlie Brooker. He’d sent in some strips to Patrick, Tony and Mark and they were so impressed they gave him a regular gig. Not bad for a teenager! The strip below was something of a trial and we wouldn’t see his work again until #32, but after that he was part of nearly every edition, contributing to 37 altogether.

Of course you’ll all know Charlie now from his television work, having created such amazing series as Screen Wipe and Black Mirror. However, he was still at school at the time of OiNK so kudos to him for sending in some samples, and hats off to the team for recognising his talent. Charlie would go on to create such strips as Transmogrifying Tracey, Clint Gritwood the Trigger-Happy Cop and fan favourite The Adventures of Death. But Freddie Flop was his first and a strong debut.

I was always a fan of Charlie’s OiNK strips and as the comic continued he’d contribute more and more to each issue, particularly the monthlies where he’d often write for other artists too. He’d even write a Pete and his Pimple story for Lew Stringer. I always enjoyed his art style and his strips were consistently funny, Death often being a highlight for me. It’s exciting to finally see his work in this read through.

So 1987 was off to a great start and would only get better, culminating in my very favourite OiNK of them all. The next edition is a war special. I’d say this might sound like a strange subject for a kid’s humour comic but I’ve said that before and the team have shown how they can continuously pull these off with aplomb. So be back here on Monday 24th January 2022 for #20.

OiNK! #18: HAPPY HOGMANAY!

Growing up in a small town in Northern Ireland I’d never heard of the word ‘Hogmanay’ before so initially thought this was an OiNK pun on some Scottish word about the New Year. But really it’s just the best possible way to celebrate for this comic, so much so that both of the issues published to celebrate the New Year in OiNK’s run would have the same theme. The cover by legendary cartoonist John Geering sums it all up rather perfectly; this is a celebration of Scotland and its culture just as much as it is the festivities.

A new character who might like to think he’s cultured is new addition Barrington Bosh he’s incredibly Po$h, brought to the page by fellow Northern Irelander Ian Knox. Given how much I remember of this particular posh little git I was surprised to find out he only appeared in nine issues of OiNK altogether, normally with long gaps between strips. To say he was posh is actually a huge understatement, the whole point being to push this to the extreme every time. This debut story is the perfect introduction.

Bosh did absolutely nothing for himself and this was the basis for his entire life and thus every appearance. Everyday tasks were something he’d never even consider doing himself and the creative ways he and his staff would get around them were hilarious to us kids. The strip was also a biting satire of the difference between upper and lower class people in the UK and that old saying “How the other half lives”.

Back in #7 I showed you a brief glimpse at Hugo the Hungry Hippo‘s cameo appearance in cartoonist David Haldane‘s other creation, Rubbish Man. There, Hugo popped by to do what he does best, to eat. He also inadvertently saved the day for our smelly superhero and it appears he’s a bit of a fan because he’s dolled himself up in very familiar garb for a fancy dress party for the New Year.

One of my favourite additions to any issue of OiNK was also written and drawn by David. Little quarter-page entries of animals just living their normal anthropomorphic lives always had me in stitches, especially when this would be mixed with their abilities as animals. So some would appear in clothes, others would be more wild. By all means Zootown made no sense but I don’t think any part of it was ever meant to!

Before we move on to some of the multitude of Scottish strips and gags here are a couple of other highlights in this issue. As ever Burp has another strong entry and to be honest it’d be so easy for me to include his page in every single review! Here he’s been invited to a Hogmanay party and it all kicks off with this funny invite. One of Banx‘s other strips is the always hilarious Hector Vector and his Talking T-Shirt, though surely he should’ve had a coat on this time.

I mentioned Scottish culture earlier and we can’t do that without mentioning Robbie Burns, surely? OiNK thought so. The poet’s work is described as “spontaneous and direct” and it fell upon Steve Gibson to conjure up a suitable parody. He knocks it out of the park. Taking Burns’ To A Mouse as his inspiration he renames it The Beastie. Complete with typical Gibson art, unmistakable in the beastie itself, here’s Hoggy Burns.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, nothing was sacred to OiNK. This was especially true when it came to those bastions of the comics world, the unstoppable forces of The Dandy and The Beano (well, at least Beano is still unstoppable). A favourite target of Uncle Pigg’s, the two comics were held in high regard by editor and head writer Mark Rodgers who had great fun in sending them up quite regularly. For the Scottish issue there was no better strip ripe for this treatment than The Dandy’s Jocks vs Geordies.

The strip was still running in 1986 and involved two schools situated across the Scotland/England border from each other. The boys who made up the gangs from each school were deliberately clichéd, already parodies of sorts. They’d play ever more violent tricks on each other but would always end up being punished for it by their teachers. Neither side was immune either, winning or losing roughly the same amount of times as the each other.


“Ay, weel, there’s mony a mickle maks a muckle!”

Teach Yourself Glaswegian

Mark took the concept behind the original strip and decided to poke fun at its repetitive nature and the fact it had been running for so long. (The pupils had been duking it out on a weekly basis for 11 years by this stage.) This was a regular theme to OiNK’s parodies of these comics and here it’s played out particularly well in the ending, with art by Marc Riley.

It’s time to take a closer look at the country providing the laughs. What we need is an expert in the subject matter. Failing that, how about a young lad who simply thinks he’s an expert in all subjects but in reality is the master of none. Of course, bringing in Hadrian Vile has at least one benefit, it means Ian Jackson will be providing the art.

With Hadrian’s information it’s clear he’s read the names of the places throughout the country and taken them to mean something completely different. Every single time. Take your time to appreciate all the little jokes and references as you take your tour around the highlands and lowlands. There are too many here for me to pick out a definitive favourite but the town of Dornoch and the hamlet of Inchadamph get particularly funny entries for me.

I have a soft spot for Scotland most definitely but at age nine I wasn’t aware of most of these real places, however it was no less funny. You’ll have spotted some of the best gags come from Hadrian’s grasp of Scottish words. Just a little later in the comic Mark took this a step further with a full page dedicated to helping the readers Teach Yourself Glaswegian, drawn by Mike Green.

Expect plenty of dialogue with each sentence accompanied by an asterisk pointing towards the apparent English translation. It doesn’t take long before it gets completely ridiculous of course and I personally believe certain parts of England are also being subjected to a little gentle teasing here, as some of the translations sound overtly stuck up. I remember showing this to my sister’s Scottish husband once and he roared laughing, particularly at the fifth panel, which is my particular favourite too. Enjoy.

We’re down to the final few pages and I’ve broken away from the subject matter to show you the first entry in a semi-regular series of comedy adventure strips. We all know which television series this was based upon which starred a famous dog. But take that dog, replace him with a pig, make his owner completely useless, exaggerate the already far-fetched skills of the animal hero and then have one more funny twist in the final panels. Written by Tony Husband and drawn by Chas Sinclair here’s Lashy the Wonder Pig.

A genius piece of scripting and loveable art make this a highlight of the whole issue. He proved popular too, returning several times throughout OiNK’s run, although with a selection of different names. Known as Laffy, Lashie, Lattie, Laxxie, Lammie, Lazzie, Laggie, Lappie and Larry the series would keep certain staples running such as his owner always falling down a pit (even when he was nowhere near one), the ever more ludicrous feats of daring by our pig and the constant reminder that his intelligence wasn’t on par with his bravery! Hilarious every single time.

I just want to show you the back page before we finish off. The team decided to run their own awards, mimicking the likes of the Oscars and BAFTAS, the hype for which always begins as soon as each new year does. But this wouldn’t be just any old awards. We weren’t being asked to vote for our favourite characters or cartoonists from within OiNK’s pages, oh no. Biggest Wally, Worst Pop Group, Most Irritating DJ and even Worst Comic. This would be fun to take part in.

It was even more fun when the prizes were given out. Tony and Patrick would call upon the crew at Spitting Image for a photo shoot and one of the winners would even be on hand to accept their award in person! That’s still some way off in #30 in 2022.

The first issue of 1987, the only calendar year that OiNK would be on sale regularly from beginning to end, would have a Health and Fitness theme. It is the season of good intentions after all. So don’t just walk back here, run to the donut shop first and then settle down to more hog highlights on Monday 10th January 2022! See you then.