Tag Archives: John Peel

OiNK! #30: THE SPiTTiNG iMAGE OF FUN!

This cover really takes me back and I’m not just talking abut OiNK itself, I’m clearly referencing the classic puppet satire show Spitting Image, whose characters were used in this edition. I was also a big fan of the series even if at that age a lot of the jokes went over my head. But there were always enough to keep me giggling for half an hour on a Sunday night. For our 30th issue they’ve collaborated with Uncle Pigg for the results of the OiNK Awards as voted for by pig pals.

We’ll get to that in a bit, although you can see from the front cover who won The World’s Biggest Wally. We kick off with our final set of free postcards, plonked in the middle of the award ceremony itself. Following up on Jeremy Banx‘s and Lew Stringer’s is Ian Jackson with these brilliant Uncle Pigg and Mary Lighthouse (critic) cards. I think both of these would’ve been great advertisements in other comics for OiNK, or made for very funny postcards to drop through the letterbox of unsuspecting family members waiting for a picturesque beach or mountaintop.

The issue itself begins with Mary’s own strip welcoming us to the subject of celebrities. Written as ever by Mark Rodgers and again drawn by Ian, she’s disgusted that respected famous people would be getting the OiNK treatment like this, but thinks the inclusion of herself on one of the postcards will send the right message. Naturally, it doesn’t quite work out as she planned and my favourite funny moment here comes right at the end with that poor policeman!

There’s another very important award to hand out this issue, the ‘Most Helpful Superhero Award’ so surely that means our resident high-flying, highly smelly Rubbish Man by David Haldane is up for a gong. Well no, apparently his whiffy antics aren’t award material. While he can make a hash of things, most times he does end up saving the day, but with that comes the pong and the mess left behind; not of destroyed buildings and terrified citizens but of mouldy mashed potatoes and cold spaghetti bolognese left everywhere. However, now he’s on a mission to prove he deserves recognition as a true hero.

This is one of my favourite Rubbish Man strips and contains nearly all of the elements that made David’s creation so enjoyable. We’ve got a ridiculous situation to begin with, an introduction of another completely random enemy character, an unsurpassed level of ever-increasing daftness in every single panel, our hero trying his best but failing epically and an ending you won’t see coming. In fact, the only thing missing is those aforementioned rotting foodstuffs he’d secrete from various parts of his body, with only his stench in the first panels reminding us of his unwelcome powers.

Even an old armchair can be a superhero in Haldane’s world, and even an old armchair that’s in the right spot by pure chance is a more welcome hero for the populace. Poor Rubbish Man! But Jimmy Bung (his alter-ego) isn’t the only character whose attempts at helping others regularly backfires, as equally (if not, more so) smelly alien Burp can attest. In this issue his latest invention teleports fast food straight into people’s stomachs so they don’t have to taste it but as always it doesn’t go quite as planned, as you can see in one of this issue’s many highlights. Also, check out Steve Gibson’s fruity version of Dustin Hoffman on the celebrity news page and our Wonder Pig gets yet another new name.

It’s time for the main event. With categories such as Worst Pop Group, Worst Dressed Person, Unfunniest Comedian and even Worst Comic, the readers of OiNK didn’t hold back in sharing what they thought of celebrities and 80s culture. There are quite a few on the shortlist, and even some I was a huge fan of at the time but it was all in good jest, giving the young readers the chance to take their own pot shots at the likes of those OiNK had targeted since the very beginning.

Taking up four pages in the middle of the issue we first get a chance to see each of the ten categories and the top three contenders in each. This opens out into the spread in the middle of the comic with those glorious Spitting Image Workshop puppets accepting the awards (a printed piece of card on a lanyard), although there was a particular recipient who looked incredibly lifelike as you’ll see! Tony Husband organised the photoshoot with the programme and Ian Tilton was the photographer (as an aside, Ian’s brother Mark was in the band The Creepers with OiNK’s Marc Riley), with radio DJ John Peel presenting the Most Annoying DJ Award. John had already contributed to #16 and had even played the flexidisc on air.

Kudos to Steve Wright for going along to accept this. Tony told me recently Steve was great on the day and had a brilliant sense of humour about the whole thing when he found out. Given who helped with this it’s a surprise to see The Chicken Song take away the World’s Worst Pop Song Award, although let’s face it Spitting Image’s song was purposefully written to be very annoying; a parody of the string of summer pop entries that were filling the 80s charts. Bob Geldof and Ronald Reagan get well-deserved titles, although I can’t help but disagree with George Michael‘s and I’ve at least a few female friends who might take issue with the pig pals over that one!

The OiNK team would go on to work closely with the Spitting Image Workshop on their Round the Bend TV series

All British comics are eclipsed by Beano, a regular target of OiNK’s for its safe humour and out-of-date characters at the time so it had a good chance of winning the Worst Comic Award. It’s completely reimagined itself over the intervening years and today contains a lot of rebellious, anarchic humour that would make Uncle Pigg proud, not least thanks to some contributors who grew up with our piggy publication. It’s a great comic and if you’ve any kids yourselves then you should definitely take advantage of the superb online subscription offers they always run.

The OiNK team would go on to work closely with the Spitting Image Workshop on their Round the Bend TV series, the puppets of which were designed by co-creator/editor Patrick Gallagher, and later in the 90s he’d be a commissioned writer on Spitting Image for six years. What a shame this was the only awards ceremony the comic would do, despite these being labelled as the first. It’s brilliant fun and looked like it was a blast to be a part of. As far as this reader is concerned it remains one of the most memorable highlights of the comic’s whole run. For now, let’s move on to something more “interleckshual”.

Hadrian Vile’s unique perspective perfectly matches the subject matter here. Taking a fresh look at the royals, politicians and more from the viewpoint of a child is a good idea on its own, but Hadrian’s character elevates it. He always thought of himself as being intellectually superior to pretty much everyone around him, so his child’s viewpoint is presented very matter-of-fact, very seriously in his young mind. Of course this means it’s all completely bonkers, just perfect for 80s culture!

Written by Mark Rodgers and illustrated by Ian Jackson, it’s always funny to see Ian’s interpretation of famous people, his jagged, exaggerated style perfectly capturing personalities as well as looks. In a way this page seems to go hand-in-hand with all of the television puppets contained in this issue. It’s also not the only time that British Prime Minister popped up in this issue, in fact she gets a starring role in the origin story of a certain critic and nemesis of our editor hog.


Two legs bad. Four legs better.

Davey’s Jones’ Prime Monster

Davey Jones brings us Prime Monster (as ever with Davey it’s even signed in a silly way), which takes place a few decades before the 80s when we find two young girls by the names of Margaret and Mary down on the pig farm. The two little spoilt brats have reckoned with the wrong set of little piglets to bully because in amongst their number is one teeny tiny pig who has already got the prerequisite pencil behind his ear. Amongst all the chaos Davey has even seen fit to include a couple of very OiNK-like riffs on a famous George Orwell quote! A great strip. Here it is, have fun.

Of course these two women would’ve been the best of childhood friends! At least in OiNKtown anyway. Yes, the characters and their stories were set in ‘OiNKtown’, a basic take on Beanotown. In the earlier issues PORKsmouth was used a couple of times but more as a place to ridicule and, obviously, somewhere Mary Lighthouse loved to visit. Surely Porksmouth would’ve been a better name than OiNKtown though? Anyway, I digress (as I do). For now that’s the end of the review, with just enough space to tell you about what’s coming up next.

The next regular OiNK will be its all-American issue and its review will be here from Monday 13th June 2020 but before that there’s a special extra to watch out for in the shape of Crash magazine #42. Regular readers of the blog will know what this is in reference to, but if you’re not up to speed go and check out the post about Zzap!64 #26 from last month. Crash not only contained an interview with OiNK’s three creators and an original Frank Sidebottom page, there was also the small matter of a special, free, original 16-page edition of our favourite comic! Check out Crash from Saturday 25th June 2022! It was an exciting time to be a pig pal in 1987, I hope I can recreate a little of that excitement right here.

OiNK! #16: POP PiGGiES

A superstar takes pride of place on the cover of the pop music special of OiNK… sitting alongside a hammed up parody of George Michael. That’s right, this issue pig pals got to meet Frank Sidebottom! We’ll get to the famous papier-mâché headed contributor later on but first up we’ve got the second part of our giant calendar poster drawn by the incredibly talented and at the time very young Ian Jackson.

Burp and Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins make up this segment with more and more random people running across their faces. Where could they be going and why? We’ll find out next time. Quite suitably, since my decorations have gone up a little bit earlier this year, there’s Santa in the midst of the parodies of celebrities, aliens, monsters, religious leaders and basically anyone Ian could think of by the looks of it.

I can remember this issue of the comic itself being met with rather mixed feelings when I had my first quick glimpse through it as a kid. I wasn’t really into music at the time so the theme didn’t seem to appeal. I also didn’t initially like the fact there were quite a few text features spoofing teenage music magazines of the day. But I soon realised I couldn’t have been more wrong once I started reading. It may have only been my third issue but I shouldn’t have doubted the team.

As a kid I’d heard of John Peel through appearances on Top of the Pops which my older siblings watched every week or through the radio when I heard it coming from their rooms. While I wasn’t a radio listener at that young age I still found his A Day in the Life of a DJ quite funny. I’m including it here because co-editor Patrick Gallagher was able to confirm it really was written by John.

One rather unique addition to the line up this time is a competition to “Win a pop concert in your own home“. No, this isn’t a spoof (or GBH threatening to come round if you don’t pay up) this is an honest-to-gosh competition with the prize being a pop group performing in your house. The band in question were Le Lu Lus (or ‘Lelu Lu’s’, their name seems to have several spellings) who were all about “robots, computers, dance and song” apparently.

You can check out one of their songs, ‘Africa’ on YouTube and they’re not half bad. Since growing up I’ve become somewhat obsessed with 80s music so this is right up my street. It would seem one lucky reader was in for a treat.

According to Tony Husband, “They contacted us as fans l think. We chose a home fairly convenient to us all l think, so we didn’t have to pay a lot for travel. Anyone from Aberdeen or Southampton never stood a chance. We chose a family from Prestwich.” So even if I had been enjoying their music at the time there wasn’t a hope in hell of me winning, what with that pesky Irish Sea between me and the OiNK offices.


“I love burp, he’s so smelly and disgusting and Mr Big Nose ’cause he’s so daft.”

Ian Astbury, The Cult

She Sells Sanctuary by The Cult is a song most of us will remember from the 80s and in a surprising turn of events lead vocalist Ian Astbury is interviewed in this issue of OiNK by piggy pop presenter Janice Pong (Tony again). It’s really quite the scoop for a kid’s comic and as it turns out Ian and his bandmates were fans. This wasn’t unusual in the Manchester (or MADchester) scene of the day, with numerous bands buying the comic on a regular basis. OiNK’s offices in the city were just upstairs from the office of the Happy Mondays‘ manager, Haçienda DJ Dave Haslam was next door and former The Fall band member Marc Riley was already working on the comic drawing Harry the Head and being Snatcher Sam.

The interview with Ian happened over the phone after Tony got in touch through his agent.  For Tony it was quite the thrill, as he was a fan of the group and their lead singer was a fan of his work! Ian was game for a laugh in being interviewed by the fictional Janice (a spoof of radio DJ Janice Long) and Tony told me he has nothing but fond memories of the experience.

While he can’t quite remember how he found out Ian was a pig pal, Tony says he’ll never forget what happened after the interview was over. At the end of the call Ian, this huge rock star, told Tony he’d ordered two OiNK mugs and two t-shirts but had only received one of each and asked if he could look into it! It was a surreal moment for Tony and sure enough he got it sorted for him.

So let’s move away from the more magazine-style pages of this unique issue and have a look at some of the other highlights, such as an uncanny celebrity lookalike, a perfectly named talent agent and a quick homage to From Russia With Love. Then Lew Stringer brought us some cutout badges of 80s pop stars, the Huey Lewis and the News one being my fave, and then gave us a little history lesson into the origins of rock’n’roll (and check out the Phil Collins drawing underneath).

Remember the cutout Road-Hogg from #11? It was meant to be impossible to actually build but pig pal Sue M. Hall did anyway and the end result was great! In this issue a rather more straightforward bit of DIY comes in the shape of cassette covers for readers’ music collections. In the 90s I was handed down a lot of my siblings’ music cassettes, so while my school friends were rocking out to the latest charts my ears were buried in the older Now That’s What I Call Music collections from the 80s. This could explain why I’m still obsessed with music from that decade today.

I remember making up my own compilations from the cassettes I then owned, sometimes even making ‘soundtrack’ albums for my comics, filled with the songs I thought best suited certain storylines and I’d create my own covers for them. In this issue Uncle Pigg brought us some cutout covers, all suitably OiNK-ified of course. Fellow fan Steve Fitch (who kindly supplied photos of an OiNK promotional folder for a previous post) not only cut out the covers and placed them into cassette boxes, he went a step further and created little stickers for the tapes to match.

Now on to our main event. A musician, a stand up comedian, a TV personality, an all-round entertainer extraordinaire, Chris Sievey donned a papier-mâché head, put on a squeaky, nasally voice and truly became Frank Sidebottom. My parents weren’t fans I seem to recall, but I most certainly was, especially from Saturday morning show No.73. To have him popping up in OiNK was a wonderful surprise and he suited the music theme. The fact he wasn’t a one-off and would come back in the next issue (and the next, and the next etc.) was even better.

Back in 2021 the sad news broke of Chris’ passing and, upon finding out, all those lovely memories of his strips in OiNK came flooding back. I dug out the three editions I still owned and read them for the first time in decades. I bought a few more, discovered they were just as funny as they’d ever been and I set about collecting them. Chris had led me right back to OiNK, so it’s because of him that I’m even here talking about the comic at all.

I asked Patrick about how Frank’s contributions came about.

“I dragged Chris on board at OiNK, having been a fan of Frank and also of Chris Sievey and the Freshies – the Manchester pop band,” says Patrick. “Frank fitted brilliantly into the comic and was a regular face in the OiNK office as well as in its pages. We gave Chris quite an open brief, which was pretty much determined by the themes of the issues. Shortly after joining OiNK, Chris invited me to play guitar in Frank’s Oh Blimey Big Band, alongside Mark Radcliffe on drums (pre-Marc and Lard days on BBC Radio One with fellow OiNK star Marc Riley).”

It’s great to see Frank on board at last, it’s like being reunited with an old friend.

“Frank was a great ambassador for OiNK and promoted the comic at gigs etc.”, Patrick continues. “So we were more than happy to keep him with us as long as he was happy to continue working for us! I became great friends with Chris and when both our marriages ended 10 years later, Chris lived at my house for 6 months where we drowned our sorrows and lived the high-life in equal measure.”

So here we go, Frank’s very first OiNK page. I think as a kid I might have assumed one of the comic’s artists drew the pages for him, or at least had a hand in them. But as they progressed it was clear this was all his own work. Tony and Patrick have both told me in the past how long Chris would spend over his pages. Remember, he wasn’t a professional cartoonist, yet here he was creating colourful works of art and comic strips for every issue of a hit comic. Everything was coloured with felt tip pens and he would apparently anguish over the details. I’m sure you’ll agree the end results were, as Frank himself would say, fantastic!

Since Chris’ passing a statue of Frank has been erected in his home town of Timperley and we’ve had not one but two movies based around him. One is the feature-length documentary Being Frank and the other starred Michael Fassbender as a Frank-like celebrity forever encased in his own papier-mâché head. Both of these will be covered on the blog in the future. For now, it’s great to see Frank on board at last, it’s like being reunited with an old friend.

It’s time to wrap up this musical feast and who better to do so than Roger Rental, He’s Completely Mental. OiNK writer Graham Exton told me if the writing on one of Roger’s strips is uncredited then most likely it was co-editor Mark Rodgers who scripted it. He wrote so much of OiNK that apparently he’d often forget to credit himself! This particular instalment made me roar and it’s brought to life as ever by Ian Knox. Enjoy.

So that’s us. The fact that Roger’s is the only strip I’ve shown in full just shows how different this issue actually is. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of hilarious strips in here, I just wanted to show you the different kinds of content this issue had and how enjoyable it was as a result. With lots of new characters introduced last time and now with Frank in the fray at last I’m really pumped for the next issue, especially since it’s the first Christmas Special!

From the TV Times cover to the Christmas TV listings and a multi-page Uncle Pigg story I have very fond memories of #17, so make sure you’re back here on Monday 13th December for the review!