“IPC’s Youth Group is trying to change the face of children’s comics with its launch next month of a new-style, fortnightly comic into the eight-to-12-year-olds market.“John Sanders
So began a piece in CTN, an industry magazine covering the world of magazines and comics on this day back in 1986, a month before OiNK‘s release from the sty. Comics sales had been in heavy decline for a few years with television seen as the cause, although perhaps so was the ever-growing presence of computer games. While other sources of children’s entertainment were evolving, comics hadn’t and they had to do something new and fresh in order to remain competitive.
You should know where this is going. That something was, of course, OiNK. Edited by the “three liberated pigs” of Mark Rodgers, Tony Husband and Patrick Gallagher, IPC saw in them the chance to reinvigorate the marketplace.
The article in CTN (which you can read in full at the bottom of this post) takes the form of an interview with IPC Magazine’s Youth Group Managing Director John Sanders. A wish to move away from the “custard pie humour” is cited and the publishers were certainly putting their weight behind this anarchic comic, independently put together for them in Manchester. Hundreds of thousands of copies of the preview issue would be bagged with some of their biggest titles and an eye-watering (for the time) £55,000 was being spent on “Blockbuster Adverts“. More on these below.
“Their [children] humour is a lot more sophisticated than it was 25 years ago. It is a lot more outrageous, the butt of their humour has changed.”John Sanders
It’s interesting to note having a preview issue wasn’t something generally used at the time, the usual strategy was television advertising such as with Marvel‘s The Transformers in 1984, the (very) brief advert for which you can see below. This was news to me when I found out because I remember several preview issues of my comics but nothing on TV, but then again those previews came after OiNK. However, even OiNK’s would be different from those that followed, it was a full-sized issue.
The article states the new comic is “aimed very directly at youngsters”. The whole point was to grab the attention of the eight to 13-year-old age group. But yet, here we are over three decades later with a website all about this classic comic and how well it holds up for both adults and their children reading it all these years later.
IPC’s target audience weren’t just readers of comics by the competition either, such as The Dandy and Beano, but also those of their own humour comics who they were worried were leaving.
Thanks to Lew Stringer for sharing this scan on his Blimey blog and for the kind permission to show it to you all here. That particular blog is no longer being updated but is chock full of interesting comics tidbits so give it a look. While you’re at it, make sure to bookmark Lew’s ongoing Lew Stringer Comics blog too, detailing all of his own work both past and present.
At the time of writing John Sanders has just released his brand new book, King’s Reach: John Sanders’ Twenty-Five Years at the Top of Comics which chronicles the business side of the industry.