Who wants some brand new Psycho Gran from David Leach and brand new Combat Colin from Lew Stringer? That made you sit up and take notice, didn’t it? Well that’s exactly what you can get by tapping those trotters over to the Aces Weekly website.
If you’re unfamiliar, Aces Weekly is the brainchild of David Lloyd (V for Vendetta, Wasteland, Knight Rider) and Bambos Georgiou (The Real Ghostbusters, Knights of Pendragon, Spider-Man) and is an online only anthology comic containing a variety of strips from across the spectrum of creators and genres.
Each volume consists of seven weekly issues and costs only £6.99. That’s only £1 per issue! The current volume is their 50th, meaning the title has clocked up a mighty impressive 350 issues to date. As ever, it’s chock full of brilliant content, not least of which are strips starring OiNK‘s Psycho Gran and Transformers/Action Force‘s Combat Colin. Both characters have appeared a few times before in Aces and have been invited back for this celebratory volume.
Below are the first pages of the two different Psycho strips from David Leach. A fan favourite since her first appearance in OiNK #15, these new additions to her story do not disappoint.
The first is called Dog Toffees and the little old dear is taking Archie for a walk in the park when someone approaches her to ask for a doggy bag. An innocuous tale to anyone not familiar with her appearances in OiNK perhaps, but for fans we know better and you won’t be disappointed. The second one is titled Fantastic Voyage II and as you can see it’s a rather topical outing. Believe me when I say even those of us who grew up with her won’t see the end to this one coming.
Psycho appears in #6 and #7 of the current volume of Aces Weekly.
Currently over on the blog’s Instagram feed I’ve been reading Marvel UK‘s Transformers in real time and one of the highlights every week is Lew Stringer’sCombat Colin, so it’s a thrill to read a brand new Combat adventure in the final issue of the volume.
Two of the madcap supervillains also return, namely Professor Madprof whose name I have always found funny, as well as Bankrobber Man. Anyone who grew up with these loonies will take one look at the preview above and feel right at home.
All three of these strips are three pages apiece and are only a small part of the quality reading material gathered within these issues. But that’s not all, because both Psycho Gran and Combat Colin have had their own series of independent comics released over the last few years from David and Lew which are well worth tracking down.
So there you go, a quick preview of brand new strips from two OiNK legends, featuring fan favourite characters from two comics covered by the OiNK Blog. So what are you waiting for? Nip on over to the Aces Weekly website where you can buy the complete 50th volume for just £6.99. Hop to it!
It’s been 35 years to the day of writing this since readers of IPC‘s Whizzer and Chips, Eagle and Tiger and Buster received their usual weekly reads inside a special plastic bag with a piggy pink pig emblazoned on the front. Inside, tucked in behind their newsprint comic was a big, bold, brash and glossy new comic called OiNK!
This was the preview issue of OiNK and, unlike preview issues in the years to come this was a full-sized 32-page comic. It must’ve been quite the revelation to hold these large, bright pages in their hands, especially with that Ian Jackson cover. This was the first time young readers would have been introduced to his unique style; the jagged lines of Uncle Pigg and the gag of a medieval torture rack setting the stage for something truly original.
One of the three co-creators/co-editors Patrick Gallagher created the bright pink logo which immediately stood out, introducing this new fortnightly comic, the first issue of which would actually be released just seven days later. The impact of that first page was carried on to page two with Ian showing us the inner workings of our editor’s office, complete with staff and even an embattled accountant who can’t quite fathom how they’re going to pull off such a high quality comic.
Next to this is our very first fully fledged OiNK strip, Cowpat County from fellow Northern Ireland local DavyFrancis, written by famed comics writer and another OiNK co-creator/co-editor Mark Rodgers. This first appearance sees 80s environmentalist and television presenter David Bellamy pop up, only to come a cropper in Farmer Giles‘ (whose name we wouldn’t know until #14) world. If all this could happen to him when placed into the real, unfettered countryside, what about those used only to city life? We’d get plenty of chances to find out in regular guides to what real country living is. All very accurate, of course.
The preview was mainly made up of strips from a dummy issue previously put together to sell the concept to IPC. As such, some of our favourite characters may look a little different here because they’re earlier versions of the ones we were used to, and we’ll see them evolve and change as we make our way through the regular comics. Below is the very first Burp, the Smelly Alien From Outer Space from Jeremy Bank for example, his first strip for a children’s comic.
What a great introduction. Burp would be present in nearly every issue of OiNK and we’d see a constant series of attempts to ingratiate himself to the human race, all failing in spectacular fashion. Later issues we’d see vacations in space, a surreal and rather dark humour develop and even become acquainted with the lives of his internal organs. It would all culminate in an epic story that originally came at just the right point in my life to teach me about puberty! No, really. You’ll have to wait until Christmas 2023 for that review though.
Even simple things like Ian’s and Jeremy’s unruled, freehand panels would’ve set the comic apart. Strips are of varying lengths, some even tucked in beneath (or down the side of) others and in a huge variety of styles. The fresh appeal is very apparent, especially after reading the issues of the established comics it was packaged with. Here’s a quick glance at a selection of what the young readers were suddenly being bombarded with, starting with Patrick and Mark’s partner in laughs Tony Husband‘s iconic hero.
OiNK definitely couldn’t be accused of having any kind of ‘house style’, unlike other comics which expected cartoonists to draw within certain parameters. It’s also chock full of content and the format of cramming as much into each page as possible results in a satisfyingly meaty read by the end. An animal-free meaty ready, obviously.
Showing how the aim was to rip up the rule book, throw out tradition and create a comic that was genuinely very funny, the preview issue throws everything at the reader and a surprisingly high amount sticks. One such idea was the pig-ifying of popular culture. Nothing was safe. From celebrities, television shows and musical artists, to movies, cartoons and literature, if a pig-themed pun could be made of a name you could bet OiNK would take advantage.
This Hambo poster from J.T. Dogg (real name Malcolm Douglas) wasn’t even the first such piggy pun. By the time readers got to this stunning centre-page spread they’d have already been treated to the delights ofWillyHAM ShakesPIG and Terry WogHAM, along with mentions of Ian BotHAM, Lester PIGgott and PIG Country. But let’s take a moment to appreciate that poster.
J.T. Dogg’s work is simply stunning. As well as this series of OiNK Superstar Posters he’d provide the artwork for The Street-Hogs and Ham Dare: Pig of the Future amongst others. What’s even more incredible is how he worked. At the time cartoonists would draw their strips at twice the size of the published comic, which would then be reduced at the printing stage. But not Malcolm. He’d complete all of his work at 1:1 scale! Sadly no longer with us, you can check out some more of his extraordinary work in his obituary.
Now it’s time for a commercial break.
The first of many madvertisements to come, they went big to begin with, didn’t they? I mean, sausages made of minced up butchers isn’t exactly subtle. This is the perfect example of how they could push the boundaries of good taste and we kids loved it. It was just good, cheeky fun. On the top half of the page you can see Tony’s son, Paul Husband who would go on to appear in the occasional photo story from time to time. Nowadays Paul is an amazing professional photographer whose work you can check out on his website and Instagram.
Tony Husband describes working on OiNK!
On more than one occasion working on OiNK has been likened to being in a punk band, especially by Tony. He describes those OiNK Manchester offices as “rock’n’roll madness”. Located in the same office building as the Happy Monday’s manager, next door to Haçienda nightclub DJ Dave Haslam and, while the city was at the height of its MADchester musical and cultural scene, the comic team even included former The Fall band member (and future BBC Radio DJ) Marc Riley.
The rock’n’roll madness led to some hilarious scenarios, such as when Tony and Patrick were invited to London to appear on a breakfast TV show. They were given the impression they were appearing to discuss their new comic appealing to a new audience of young readers. However, the true intent was soon clear when the first question referred specifically to the following madvert.
Asked if they felt joking about smashing up friends’ bicycles was the “right message to send”, the presenters spectacularly missed the point of OiNK. But according to Tony it was worth it in the end because his and Patrick’s expenses were all paid for, including travel and a night in a 5-star hotel. Then on the return train Tony brought out a few of the small bottles of booze he’d sneaked out from his hotel room, thinking they’d have a tipple on the way home, only for Patrick to empty out a plastic bag full of every single bottle from his room. By the time they hit Manchester they could hardly walk off the train.
In among the wealth of talent who had never contributed to children’s comics before were some more familiar names. However, they were now given free rein to produce strips they simply couldn’t elsewhere and let’s face it, if you could given such freedom to anyone, it would been Tom Paterson.
Pigg Tales would be the general name used on and off for some of the bigger one-off stories, written and drawn by a variety of people. The Revenge Squad showed what Tom could bring to OiNK but unfortunately he’d only show up in five editions of the comic throughout the course of its whole run. According to Graham Exton they really wanted him on board but he was just too busy to be able to contribute more. Such a shame, because he’d have been perfect as a regular.
Finally, right at the back of the comic a certain character is introduced for the very first time. He’d go on to appear in all but two issues and then carry on for many more years in Buster comic after OiNK folded. A school bully may sound like a strange creation for a strip, even for such a wacky new comic, but by the end of his first story it’s clear he may be the star, but he’s certainly never going to be the hero.
Lew Stringer‘s Tom Thug remains one of my very favourite comic creations of all time and I’m really looking forward to reliving his misadventures all over again. It’d take a while before he’d be able to tie those laces, he’d cross over with other characters like Lew’s own Pete and his Pimple and Mike Green‘s Weedy Willy, even leave school and sign on for unemployment which was definitely a first in comics history.
So there you have it, a little look into how potential new pig pals (as regular readers were referred to by Uncle Pigg) were first introduced to the world of pigs, plops, puns and parody. Then, as if the promise of more of this insanity wasn’t enough there was news of a free flexidisc record with #1, surely a free gift as unique as the comic it would be attached to.
As we approach Monday 26th April 2021, the 35th anniversary of the preview issue of OiNK, let’s take a look at an article from the time written by Tom Thug and Pete and his Pimple creator Lew Stringer for Fantasy Advertiser. An introduction to the new comic just before its release, it would’ve been the first time readers of the fanzine heard about OiNK.
Fantasy Advertiser was the creation of Frank Dobson and had been printed since 1965 as an “Ad Zine”, being handed off to a series of editors over time. It featured listings of British and American comics for sale in the UK long before the internet made this a lot easier, alongside features like the one you’ll see below. Lew was a regular contributor with a column in every issue.
Lew would cover news of new comics, discuss classic titles and interview creators such as Mike Higgs, Kevin O’Neill etc. It sounds very much like his later Blimey! blog which, while it’s been closed and is no longer added to, is still a treasure trove of British comics information.
The OiNK article featured in #96 of Fantasy Advertiser, dated May 1986 and you can read it in full below. I think the first paragraph perfectly sums up why Mark Rodgers, Tony Husband and Patrick Gallagher created OiNK in the first place. There’s also an interesting reference to the specific things other children’s comics required of their cartoonists and the rules they had to follow, which the new team would gleefully abandon. There are some details about the two dummy issues created to sell the concept to IPC Magazines, their positive reaction and how it was Bob Paynter, the Group Editor of Humour who approached Lew to join the team. (When I’ve spoken with Patrick and Tony over the years they’ve often referred to Bob as “OiNK’s champion at IPC”.)
“The humour is the kind we like. Violent, anarchic, weird, generally lunatic and very modern.”
Mark Rodgers, OiNK co-creator/co-editor
There’s a great description of Lew’s Tom Thug and how he was a new, different kind of comics character and an interesting look at the independent nature of the comic and how it was put together in a way unlike any other children’s title of the time. You’ll also see a few select panels from the early issues, including Tom Paterson‘s excellent Wet Blanket who is returning to print in a special collected book later this year.
Thanks to Lew for the kind permission to share this with you all. Just click on it below and have a read for yourselves.
Also note the correct influences for OiNK here and the absence of any mention of Viz. OiNK was never a children’s version of that (admittedly very funny) comic and was never intended to be, despite what is usually erroneously mentioned elsewhere online or in magazines.
David Hathaway-Price has, with permission, archived many of those Fantasy Advertiser issues digitally, at his Classic UK ComicsZines website, including the issue featured here. The fanzine continued until #115 in 1991, eventually relaunching as an online resource in 2010 by one of its previous editors, Martin Skidmore.
Don’t forgot to come back on Monday 26th April for the review of that preview issue of the world’s funniest comic and the whole reason this website exists. An amazing two-and-a-half years is about to begin. Not to be missed, pig pals.