Tag Archives: John Geering

THE OiNK! BOOK 1988: PiGGiN’ PERFECTiON!

How many of you can remember coming downstairs on Christmas morning and seeing this cheery face staring back at you? I’d been giddy at getting my hands on this ever since I saw it in my local newsagents a few months previous. It really stood out with its glossy soft cover in the sea of cardboard hardbacks. Inside, all 80 interior pages are made of a thick, high quality stock, giving the book a heavy, expensive feel. Co-editor Patrick Gallagher tells me, “The higher-quality paper stock of the book was the idea of Bob Paynter at Fleetway. Bob was completely on our wavelength and knew it would appeal. The floppy glossy cover and back also seemed to really suit the enlarged shots of the plasticine pig face and bottom models Ian Jackson made by capturing the detail so well.”

Before this I’d read some of my brother’s Beano annuals but to my young mind they felt just like regular stories but with bigger panels to make them last longer. But The OiNK! Book 1988 was, as ever, different. This first book packed in as much as it possibly could to every single page. As a result, it may have had roughly 30 pages less than its contemporaries but it had so much more to read and enjoy. It all began with that famous cover, especially when you flipped it over but we’ll get to that later. While it didn’t really sink in as a kid, that claim on the bottom right is bold and of course completely correct. Inside, a special bookend of Uncle Pigg and Mary Lighthouse introduced that team to readers.

This was innovative for a time when signatures in humour comics were rare, but OiNK’s young readers knew the names of their favourite cartoonists thanks to its creators Patrick Gallagher, Mark Rodgers and Tony Husband and their wish to shakes things up. As an adult I can’t help but look at this page in wonderment at the list of talent involved! It really was a selection of Britain’s best and it was all for us kids. We were spoiled. I also love how the chiselled words work their way around the characters and speech balloons, which makes zero sense to the chiseler!

It’s a wonderfully varied read, containing strips from our favourite regulars, some returning stars of early issues, spoofs of those other annuals I mentioned, puzzles (not filler here but typical OiNK-style funnies) and even letters and drawings from readers, something annuals just never included. So how on Earth am I going to choose a few highlights? There’s just too much brilliance on offer. It’s been painstaking but I hope I can do it justice with this selection.

This is one of my most memorable pages, with Marc Riley as the not-at-all inconspicuous burglar, Snatcher Sam in GBH’s Book Club, a take on those book and video clubs that were so popular in the 80s and 90s. Magazines and comics were filled with them, promising cheap titles to begin with as you sign yourself up to buying a certain amount at full price over a year. I was a member of the Britannia Video Club, remember them? That’s why I loved this so much, along with the usual over-the-top nature of the GBH madverts and just look at all those book covers they’ve created for the photograph. Now, 35 years later it’s the effort put into these daft pages that I really appreciate.

Released for Christmas 1987, this was the year I was hearing a lot of rumours in the playground about Santa Claus. Thankfully I soon found out they were just rumours when he left my book under my parents’ wardrobe before Christmas because demand for it was so high and he didn’t want to disappoint me. The rumours of his existence were soon to be put to bed conclusively with a script by Lew Stringer that’s spectacularly brought to the page by 2000AD stalwart Kevin O’Neill, who we sadly said goodbye to earlier this year. But there’s more to The Truth About Santa than we probably wanted to know as 10-year-olds.

There’s an image that’ll stay with you. Or haunt you. I remember this being the strip any friends who read this book at the time seemed to laugh at the most. I may have been the only one of my closest friends who collected OiNK but they all enjoyed reading my issues and in particular this book. In fact, in the year 2000 when I decided to return to college at the age of 23 the book ended up shared around that class too. I can’t remember how it came up in conversation originally, but I dug it out from my cupboard and it made its way around most of my fellow media students, each one of which raved about different aspects of it.

To this day it’s still one of my favourite books (of any type) of all time and my favourite from childhood, and in fact this is my original copy from back then, only one of three OiNKs that survived various clear-outs (by my dad) and moving out years later. Its timeless comedy is a testament to that talent it boasted about on the cover. Just like the regular comic it sets itself apart from the other annuals. While they’d have had huge multi-page versions of their regular strips, here for the most part OiNK kept them to the size they’d normally be, meaning there was a hell of a lot more of them than other books.

Annuals are created far in advance of their release dates so when this one was being put together the ever fantastic Tom Paterson was still a contributor to the comic. Written by the pun-tastic Graham Exton, Eric Knicker the Whacky Vicar may only have been a tiny quarter-page strip but it left a lasting impression on little me during Christmas 1987 as I tittered and giggled and shared the joke with friends and family. A lot better than any cracker joke.

So yes, the annual kept to the format of the comic, only more so. It’s a delight to see the creative team took the opportunity to simply cram much more in of what made OiNK so great in the first place. For a child of ten there was just so much to enjoy. We even got a short Ham Dare strip. Normally a character of multi-issue serials, here his two-page story is a hoot and is followed by this wonderful cutaway of his and Pigby’s ship.

Written by Lew Stringer and drawn by the incredible talent that was J.T. Dogg (Malcolm Douglas) it’s chock full of little details that my young eyes really enjoyed pouring over; kind of like the book itself encapsulated into two pages really. My favourite parts here are the comfy chair and its very dangerous sidestool, and the middle of the spacecraft showing the difference between our heroes, with Ham’s gym next door to Pigby’s very full pantry.

A quick note about the title box at the top of the spread. It makes a great point! My Transformers and Real Ghostbusters annuals would have had “pin-ups” and “mini posters” and I always wondered if anyone actually cut up their fantastic annuals, losing whatever was on the backs of those pages to the walls of their room. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one at the time who thought this was a ridiculous idea.

Hadrian Vile’s usual diary entries take a back seat to a selection of pages chronicling his Interleckshual guide toe Nacheral Histry

A quick glance over some other highlights now. Ron Dibney’s Dumb Ol’ Duck reveals another side to himself, Police Vet makes his debut (he’d return in the monthlies the following year) many years before Jim Carrey took on a similar role and Star Truck makes a very welcome return. Just as in #3 the crew make their presence felt throughout the book in between chapters of their own strip. Here, Mark Rodgers literally pops up as Captain Slog in one of Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins‘ pages.

Pigswilla only appeared in seven issues of OiNK altogether but he was still a firm fan favourite, so naturally he had to appear in the annual, with Specky Hector Comics Collector (with added surname) making a funny cameo I’d forgotten all about. Early in the book Frank Sidebottom found out Little Frank had used up all his felt tips and gave him until page 69 to fix the situation, which he does, sort of. So young me lent them both a hand, or at least started to it would appear.

Hadrian Vile’s usual diary entries take a back seat to a selection of pages chronicling his Interleckshual guide toe Nacheral Histry, although he does take some short cuts to get from the evolution of life to the 1980s. His usual know-it-all persona is, as always, hilariously wrong in almost every way. In his fortnightly diary he was the most intelligent person in any room, in his own mind anyway and here his guide to everything from dinosaurs (the hilarious looking Tyrannosaurus rex above is a highlight) to Ford Sierras.

In fact, after spending the first two parts of his guide covering prehistoric Earth he only has one page left to finish up and so this third page makes the leap from the ice age to the aforementioned car in the blink of an eye, clearly skipping millions of years as completely uninteresting. It’s all hilarious, as you’d expect from Mark Rodgers, made all the more special with full colour Ian Jackson art. In fact, so good is it that when the weekly comic itself gets going the diary will eventually be replaced with a series of similar guides.

1987 also saw the 50th anniversary of The Dandy (with Beano’s to come in 1988) hence why OiNK took aim at DC Thomson’s comics with regular digs about how old the characters would really be, such as #38’s Deano. In fact, I received the commemorative 50th anniversary book alongside my OiNK! Book (and The Big Comic Book 1988), although in hindsight I think it was originally for my brother but he stopped reading comics not long before Christmas. Oh well, his loss was my gain.

Returning to that spoof comic name, here the OiNK team take it to even greater heights (although this was probably created first) with a mini-comic inside the annual featuring such characters as Dennis the Pensioner and his dog Flasher, Desperate Old Man and the The Lash St. Old People. All are very funny and then we get a double-page spread of no less than five spoof strips which as a kid were funny, but as an adult are hugely surprising because four are drawn by none other than John Geering!

John was a regular artist for DC Thomson, in fact that’s the publisher he’s most closely associated with, most famously for Bananaman and Puss’n’Boots. To see him take on some of DCT’s characters in OiNK just makes these even funnier than they already were in my opinion. I do remember showing these to my friends who were huge fans of The Beano at the time, in fact I may have gloated a little! Can you blame me?

Unfortunately, I simply don’t know who ‘Philip’ is at the time of writing. His work only appeared in two OiNKs (this and #9), here with Boffo the Bore and two other like-minded strips called Georgie & Zip’s Party and Postman Fat and his Slightly Flat Cat. He’s not mentioned on the intro page either, but needless to say I’m always on the hunt for more information on OiNK’s creation so when I find out I’ll let you know. After The Deano and a ‘Fun-Hour’ pre-school comic we get another special section for adventure fans.

Eagle-eyed blog readers may recognise the brilliant caricature of Roger Moore on the first page from a previous issue (although I didn’t spot this first time around). If you go and take a look at the TV listings page in OiNK #17 you’ll see a tiny part of this image was used the previous Christmas. In it you can even see the OiNK logo behind Roger’s face so it just goes to show how far in advance this was created. This is something that continues to this day. If you follow the likes of Lew Stringer on social media or his own blog he’ll often show us snippets of annuals he’s working on over a year before their release.

I’m a huge James Bond fan, although this only happened when all the Goldeneye hype hooked me in the mid-90s and I started renting out whatever films I could from the local video shop. It was discovering Timothy Dalton as Bond that sold me, whose first film was only released the same year as this book, so the previous 007 (and his type of films) was still the target of this fun, frantic strip written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by Tim Thackery.

This was Tim’s sole contribution to OiNK. An illustrator and graphic designer he actually went on to work on CBBC animated series Minuscule Milton with Ian Jackson. Tim told me how he sees this James Bong strip now looking back: “A long time ago, but yes, that was me. Not my best work , but I was a bit pushed for time on it and had to knock it out at a fairly rough level.” Personally I love the art style here as it matches the nature of the strip and brings a real sense of pacing and chaos to the proceedings. You can check out Tim’s official website here.


“She eats pickled herrings in bed and I saw her kissing the window cleaner!”

Keith Disease

The Adventure Section also contains that Police Vet strip I mentioned above, a GBH madvertisement for their ‘Personal Hand-Glider’ capable of speeds of up to 100mph (downwards) and another strip, Ena Blighty’s Five Go Adventuring Yet Again. An annual will never have a theme in the same way as the regular comic did at the time, although the festive season does come up a lot obviously. These dedicated sections feel like mini themes, three for the price of one in fact, and are some of the best pages in the whole book.

One character, or rather two, I always found incredibly funny were Hector Vector and his Talking T-shirt. Unfortunately, Jeremy Banx’s strip made its last appearance in #35, disappearing when the comic changed publishers and gave itself a bit of a face lift. With new characters and cartoonists and the very best issues the team ever produced I hadn’t even noticed these two weren’t in amongst the madness, until they popped up here in this brilliant, larger strip.

As pig pals knew, this wasn’t a strip where the brat got his comeuppance at the end of each story; we never knew who’d come out on top between the pair. For their very final appearance I have to admit I was happy to see it was Keith Disease (the t-shirt) who had the last laugh as they were always the best examples of Jeremy’s creation. There were plenty of laughs to be had in this particular strip but it was always that very final panel that had me in creases. It still does.

It’s with a heavy heart but a smile on my face that we come to the end (almost) of the review of the very best edition of OiNK the team produced. This has been both the most fun and yet hardest thing to write so far on this whole blog. It’s been great fun to finally get the chance to reread this book and to tell you all about it, but incredibly difficult to pluck out just a few highlights to try and sum it up. I hope I’ve been able to do it justice. Two more chuckles to go though. First up, the opposite page to that great opener drawn by Ian Jackson.

A couple of puns, funny art and a grinning Uncle Pigg reminding us (and telling those who were introduced to OiNK with the book) of his fortnightly comic, even if it wouldn’t be fortnightly for much longer. It’s a perfect end to a perfect book. It’s such a treasured item for me these days that it came with me to a comic con where Lew Stringer and Davy Francis signed it for me, and when Patrick Gallagher visited me at my home a few years back he added his. I intend to get the inside covers covered with as many squiggles as possible.

With that, I’m going to close the back page over now and here’s why ten-year-old me pestered my parents, my siblings and any visitors to our house over the holidays that year.

The plasticine cover was a step up from Ian’s for the first OiNK! Holiday Special and is probably the most iconic OiNK cover of all, with a story to tell. “When we sent in the transparencies of the pig face and bottom with the artwork for the printer to process, Bob Paynter didn’t spot that the pig’s star-shaped bum was partly exposed and not completely hidden by the pig’s curly tail,” explains Patrick. “It was only when the proofs came back from the printer that Bob spotted it and deemed it too rude to be published. So we had to get photographer Ian Tilton to retake the shot with the pig’s tail completely obscuring the star-shaped bottom.”

It’s still a cheeky cover and perfectly encapsulates OiNK’s unique, naughty yet innocent sense of humour.

From showing off its covers and hearing the raucous laughter of anyone I could grab over that festive season, to rereading it in my 20s, 30s and now 40s, lending it to friends many years after OiNK was a distant memory… this book will never, ever get old. It’s OiNK in its purest, most concentrated form. Every page feels fresh and new, like it was written this year, not 35 of them ago. Receiving my favourite issue of the regular comic, the Christmassy #43 and this back-to-back made my Christmas in 1987, and reliving them has done it again in 2022. If you’re reading this post on the day of publication I hope you have a wonderful day and a very Merry Christmas!

BiG COMiC BOOK 1987: STOCKING FiLLED

As a child one of my regular orders at the newsagents was for Fleetway’s Big Comic Fortnightly, which I collected from #1 for a couple of years after receiving a giant book the previous Christmas (the 1988 volume). I didn’t know until deciding to collect the books for the blog that there had actually been another the year before; when it had hit the shelves originally I hadn’t even discovered OiNK (my first comic) yet. Now I’ve been able to complete the collection of eight huge tomes that make up the Big Comic Book series, released between 1986 and 1993.

While they’d have been available since the end of the summer, it was Christmas Day when most of us would’ve received these so I’m going to cover one each festive season. (At least you know the blog will be about for a bit now!) While OiNK was more in tune with my sense of humour than more traditional humour comics, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of smiles and a few chortles to be had here. With 256 pages it’s a cliché to say it but there is something for everyone. Here are a few of my own personal highlights.

I can’t remember these first characters from the fortnightly or books as a kid, but that’s probably more a lack of memory on my part. Happy Families is drawn here by Dick Millington and I’m sure it can resonate with many of us around this time of year. The Happies are made up of Mum, Dad, Grandad, Sharon and the twins Vicki and Dicky and the scenario is much like the rest of the book’s comic strips, a simple but effective one; in Happy Families a small disagreement over something very unimportant would escalate until the whole family was at war with each other.

As with much of the contents in the book this is only one of several Happy Families strips, although most of the others end up so rowdy the police get involved. The stories can vary from them all being at each others’ throats by the end, all of them being punished in some way, or one or two of them getting sweet revenge on the rest of the family. Yet at the start of each new strip they’re back to loving one another again. Families, eh? These strips may even have been somewhat cathartic for some readers’ parents or older siblings on Christmas Day.

Regular blog readers will know I’m a sucker for a comical shark in the pages of OiNK due to my obsession with the creatures. This stemmed from my favourite movie of all time, Jaws which inspired teenage me to read up on the real fish and decades later I’m still fascinated. In fact, my favourite ever page of OiNK was a parody of Jaws in #4 but even the top comic of all time has to take a bow to the following star of Monster Fun.

When I started collecting Big Comic it would still be a couple of years before I’d see the best film ever made but I always loved Gums. I was reading this funny strip very obviously inspired by that movie before I saw it. After I did eventually watch Jaws I just enjoyed this toothless version even more so as a result. Gums was originally created by writer Roy Davis and artist Robert Nixon, the above strip is taken from Buster after Monster Fun folded and is drawn by John Geering (who also contributed to a handful of OiNKs).

To me he was always a Geering character. John gives such fantastic, expressive gestures to Gums who thought he was a terrifying monster of the deep, but the cast of recurring characters who lived with him weren’t exactly quaking in the depths. The best thing was that Gums would sometimes triumph in his schemes which kept things fresh. With quite a few strips in this one book, it’s clear he was a fan favourite. Our next character also originated in Monster Fun.

Kid Kong’s original artist was also Robert Nixon, although this Buster strip is drawn by Rob Lee and alongside Gums he lives on today in Rebellion’s seasonal Monster Fun specials in new stories by new artists. Originally an escapee from a zoo and much larger, he was shrunk down to make it easier to write stories in a family home setting, although still having to stoop down to fit in Granny Smith’s house. Granny was chronically short-sighted and hard of hearing, mistaking Kong as her own.

As enjoyable as these have been so far, not all of the contents hit the spot as much as these examples. Some haven’t aged well, in fact some of those I read at the time hadn’t even aged well by the late 80s. But whether it was the latest book or the fortnightly comic there was enough content to ensure plenty of enjoyment and the odd chortle from a favourite character. It’s a cliché, but the sheer size of Big Comic meant every reader would have some favourites and get a lot from each volume. Just don’t be expecting OiNK levels of guffaws. Unless you’re reading Gums, of course.

In recent years Ken Reid’s Faceache has had something of a resurgence, from a gorgeous hardback collection to new strips alongside the two stars above. Created for Jet comic but (yet again) a later star of Buster, Ken’s style is instantly recognisable and upon first glance may seem very traditional, very DC Thomson-esque to the uninitiated. But you soon realise these are very different to pretty much everything else in this book!

Ken’s work really pops, really stands out, which is no small feat in such a huge book

The humour has a different feel to it, not least thanks to the creative ‘scrunges’ Faceache pulls off. This juxtaposition works, the strips feel fresh even today with a unique art style. Ken’s work really pops, really stands out, which is no small feat in such a huge book where everything is black and white on cheap paper stock. However, if you’re scanning through a Big Comic Book these really do stop you in your tracks.

I’ve happy memories of the following family from my time with the fortnightly comic and they’d often be the first strip I’d read, the endings almost always guaranteed to raise a laugh. The Bumpkin Billionaires originated in Whoopee and told the tale of a family of Beverly Hillbilly types who had won billions of pounds on the pools (the family-friendly weekly sports betting which predated the lottery, kids – Phil) but who hated the lifestyle changes the money brought. Every story would show us another hare-brained scheme of Ma, Pa, Billy and Daisy‘s to get rid of all their cash, much to the disgruntlement of their bank manager.

Mike Lacey brought these loveable rogues to life and the physical comedy of the main characters was always a hoot. Most of the time the family’s plan would fall apart in the final frame or two and they’d somehow end up with even more money than they started with. I’ve included the one above because it was one of those rare occasions when things actually worked out in their favour. Well, I’m assuming these were rare occasions, I certainly can’t remember this happening regularly and I’ve fond memories of trying to work out what was about to go wrong for them.

Do you remember CBBC programme Grange Hill? My siblings watched it but I never did, although the theme tune is still seared into my mind. Whizzer & Chips came along with its own interpretation, Strange Hill which as a name I absolutely love. Teech was the poor sap trying to educate the wee monsters, who in this case actually were little monsters; a class full of spooks, ghouls and tiny versions of famous Hollywood creatures. I thought this particular example would be a good one to include on this blog, can you tell why?

Tom Paterson, who brought us a few ingenious early OiNK strips, is the perfect choice for these manic scripts with such a varied ensemble cast, and his trademark smelly socks, little squigly creatures and descriptive word bombs are all evident by the bucketload. These little extras always made his strips classics for me and his were the only ones I read in my brother’s Beanos.  I’ve always said it’s unfortunate he was too busy to contribute more to OiNK where surely his work was a perfect fit.

Drawn by Sid Burgon, Lolly Pop was an entrepreneur with an endless range of businesses and an equally endless supply of money. However, while his businesses thrived the same couldn’t be said of his relationship with his son Archie, who was a regular kid after a regular life, who just wanted to play and spend time with his dad. With his dad being so preoccupied with his factories, Archie’s unsupervised attempts of leading a normal life and wanting to win his father’s attention would inevitably lead to a variety of disasters.

It also didn’t help that despite being an obvious millionaire Lolly Pop was rather miserly to say the least, preoccupied with saving his wealth, leading to Archie being somewhat neglected. Although to be fair it was only attention that Archie felt starved of. Originally in Whoopee, Lolly Pop is one of the stronger series in this book and there are stories involving Lolly Pop Toffees Ltd, Lolly Pop Movie Studios, Lolly Pop’s Garage, Pop’s Tyres, Lolly Pop Wood Products and Lolly Pop’s Record Company over five 2-page strips.


“Ha! No playpen can hold Sweeny!”

Sweeny Toddler

To finish the review, there’s one perennial favourite that surely everyone loves no matter which generation they’re from. Another character appearing in new strips today, even illustrated by one of his original artists, Sweeney was the tearaway toddler who would cause havoc in not only his own home but all across town, with his ever faithful canine friend Henry by his side. Sweeney Toddler was originally created for Shiver and Shake comic and drawn by Leo Baxendale, then through mergers he’d go on to star in Whoopee, Whizzer and Chips and (of course) Buster.

There’s a reason Sweeney lasted as long as he did. Quite early on the brilliant Tom Paterson took over drawing duties and OiNK’s very own Graham Exton became Sweeney’s writer in the early 80s. They made the perfect team and during that time the strip rose to ever greater heights. The strip below is drawn by Tom but is before Graham. By the time Graham joined Tom’s style had developed to include all those lovely little sight gags he became synonymous with, like those in Strange Hill.

Overall, the first Big Comic Book is a success. Financially it was a huge success! It (and its fortnightly spin-of) cost next to nothing to produce since Fleetway owned the rights to all of the contents (we would never have seen any OiNK material as a result since most of it was creator-owned) and used cheaper paper stock, enabling the books to be much thicker with a retail price similar to a regular annual.

While some of the strips haven’t stood the test of time as well as others, there’s not really any that won’t at least raise a smile, making it a very pleasant reading experience. Needless to say, if you see this on eBay or in a second-hand charity store snap it up. With this amount of silly comics stuffed inside you should find plenty to keep you amused no matter your tastes.

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.