With the latest issue of OiNK comes the return of Hieronymous Van Hellsong in a prequel mini-series by Jeremy Banx. We’d been introduced to the character in the first half dozen weeklies as he tracked down his ultimate target, Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith. It all ended in tragedy as our hero was made into sausage links and used by the butcher to escape the pig police. (Jeremy is nothing if not original.) This prequel tale is the last story for Hellsong, introduced by a sobbing Uncle Pigg on the Grunts page.
I remember part of this story revolving around him being in the nude, but it doesn’t happen this week so the cover is rather confusing. But nevertheless it’s good to have him back. The same can also be said of The Kingdom of Trump, a name which conjures different images today. At the time it referred to a family with a name that meant nothing more than flatulence. Hmm, maybe some things haven’t changed.
As good as this is, the characters only appeared three times in OiNK, back here for the first time since #43 and as a full-colour page instead of a mini strip. As ever with his pages Davey Jones gives himself a silly name in the credits and fills the strip with lots of funny little details, like the doctor’s tools hidden behind his desk and what looks like a cameo by Smiffy of Bash Street Kids at the public flogging. It wouldn’t be a Davey strip without some awful puns too, and this has one of his best in that final panel.
Beginning in Whizzer and Chips of all places and then continuing into last week’s OiNK, Lew Stringer’s Tom Thug and his Crude Crew reaches its midway point, starting with Tom and a baby, finishing with the complete gang. Surely everyone in OiNKtown will now be quaking in their shoes? Well, not quite. From Tom’s misogyny backfiring (as it should) and the cliché of needing a punk compared to what he ends up with, to a mention of one of my favourite TV shows at the time of OiNK (I can remember laughing at that bit in particular), this one had it all.
I always like it when a character acknowledges they’re living in the pages of a comic, so ending with Tom not only looking directly at us but also acknowledging that his pathetic little gang won’t be able to cause bovver for a whole week, I find particularly funny. That juxtaposition between the panel of the completed gang which catches your eye as soon as you turn the page, and the penultimate one where they all have their excuses is brilliant. It emphasises the difference between how bullies present themselves and how they really are. Classic stuff.
Last week saw a rare thing occur in the history of OiNK when a whole issue went by without a trip to David Haldane’s Zootown. A staple from the very beginning, skipping only occasional issues, I’m very glad to see the loveable, human-esque animals haven’t become a casualty of the page count since going weekly, returning with another quick gag in mini-strip form. Just the one panel this week actually, but that’s all David needed to deliver a good laugh.
Such a shame their continued inclusion can’t be said of some of David’s other creations. In #52 we were told Rubbish Man would be back in a mini series soon (which ends up contained in one of the bigger monthlies) but sadly Hugo the Hungry Hippo seems to have had his fill of chowing down on cities around the world, Godzilla-style. Last seen in The OiNK! Book 1988, his last appearance in the regular comic was way back in #35! We’ll eventually get one more laugh from his insatiable appetite in the third Holiday Special next year, but for now it would seem he’s taking a much earned rest between meals.
Back to the issue at trotter and Hieronymous Van Hellsong’s prequel begins with a few Beatles gags during the assassination that starts his adventure, and then in Burp’s strip is surely one of the best names created for a funny comic! Lew decided to end his Pete and his Pimple strip with a random little image that, as you can see, had nothing at all to do with the page. However, according to Lew, OiNK’s editors decided to have a little joke themselves and added that cheeky little arrow to it before publication!
The final panel below is from the end of the Billy the Pig serial which comes to a conclusion this week. I haven’t included any of it before now because sadly I just didn’t like it, which is a shock when I think of all those hilarious Laffie the Wonder Pig strips Tony and Chas brought us. But unfortunately Billy reads like any other children’s western adventure story but with pigs in the lead roles, with only the occasional joke added in, rather than being a humour strip.
Thankfully there are a handful of Laffie (or whatever they’ll be called) strips coming up on a weekly basis very soon to redeem this wonderful pairing of writer and artist.
For a strip that would be one of only three to survive beyond the final issue (becoming part of the merge with Buster) recently Weedy Willy has only been popping up occasionally and even then as a mini-strip. Back at the beginning he was mainly seen in full pages and, because of his move into Buster, my memory thought this was how it always was. Written by a variety of talent over the past couple of years, new writer Keith Forrest and regular Willy artist Mike Green have brought him back to full strength again.
Well, as full strength as the character could ever possibly be.
Only appearing in roughy half of the issues in total, Weedy Willy wouldn’t even be part of the final one before the merge, strangely enough. But when he did pop up he was always a highlight. Yes, he could be the butt of the jokes but it was never in a cruel way, it was just exaggerated silliness. Willy had accepted his lack of any form of strength, and the things he’d do to compensate (such as above) were always very funny. Sometimes he’d even get the upper hand over bullies thanks to not being able to do certain things and having to think his way out of situations. He was simply a brilliant character.
In the middle pages is the first poster we’ve seen in quite a while (Simon Thorp’s spoof movie posters were only ever one page in size, meant to be read rather than put on our walls). This is Dave Huxley’s third and final contribution to OiNK, the first being a poster of the Mona Li-sow, then he returned with The Hamformers in the previous Christmas issue. His final piece takes an icon of liberty, of the end of slavery and of welcoming immigrants… and turns her into a cheeky-faced butcher-cooking colossus.
I always felt the name ‘The Statue of Piggery’ didn’t read quite right. While that is an actual word meaning either “a farm where pigs are bred or kept” or “behaviour seen as characteristic of pigs in greed or unpleasantness” so it might make some sense, this is OiNK and its piggy puns don’t have to make sense. So I always thought ‘Piggerty’ was right there to use and would’ve sounded better, but oh well. Given the look on her face I’m not about to argue the point.
Such a shame Dave wouldn’t contribute to any of the remaining issues. In a later interview with Crikey! magazine he says he thinks he was hoping to make a career out of historical pig parodies, but attributes his lack of further posters or Madvertisements to the comic being cancelled. We’re still a long way off from that though, so I don’t know why this was it for his time with Uncle Pigg, but it’s been a blast anyway.
Elsewhere in this issue is a cut-out mask of our aforementioned esteemed editor, Uncle Pigg. This was actually the last in a series which began on the back pages after the weekly calendar had been completed between #45 and #50. Why have I not shown any of them? I thought I’d wait and show you them all in a post of their own, so watch out for that later in the year when we’ve got some time to fill between the monthly OiNKs.
This has to be one of my favourites of co-editor Patrick Gallagher’s coupons, just because of how stupid it is! Next week there’s much more OiNK to enjoy. Three times as much actually. Alongside the regular 24 pages of the weekly comic pig pals would find the second 48-page Holiday Special on the shelves too. So watch out for the full reviews of both next weekend. First up, #56’s will be here on Friday 24th March 2023, the special on Sunday 25th. See you then!