Tag Archives: Marc Riley

OiNK! #47: iT’S WHAT’S ON THE iNSIDE THAT COUNTS

So I told you this issue’s cover was the ugliest of the whole run. I didn’t mean I didn’t like it! This is OiNK, of course that wouldn’t be the case, instead what we have below is Tony Husband’s Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins and another yellow background cover. After the first two great weekly covers by Ian Jackson and Lew Stringer, the next three (of which this is the first) are rather basic, possibly a symptom of the increased schedule.

They all feature fan favourite characters which is always a good thing for already established pig pals but I’m not sure how well they’d do at bringing in new readers. Fortunately, the covers return to more complex pieces of funny art in a few weeks and the artists (with the team no longer rushing to get them finished) once again have time to turn out covers the likes of which we’ve been used to since OiNK began.

At the time of OiNK, there was a certain teatime telly show which captivated everyone who watched it, despite it being a basic question and answer quiz. At ten-years-of-age I can’t remember knowing many of the answers the university students were asked but that didn’t matter, Bob Holness and that electronic Blockbusters game board made it, the whole family sitting together for half an hour. It appears Charlie Brooker was also a bit of a fan as he wrote a script for Lew Stringer’s Pete and his Pimple strip, the only time someone other than Lew wrote for the character.

I particularly like the little signs held up to excuse the caricature of Bob and the “convenient” way of not having to draw him at the end of the story. The only thing missing is that silly dance everyone did in their seats at the end of the Friday episodes. Uncle Pigg pops up to remind readers to send in their suggestions but that’s not because there was a lack of any coming in. There’d be shedloads of them and they’ll start to be used very soon and, apart from the occasional issue, all the way through to the end of OiNK.


“Naughty terrorists had taken some important top nobs hostage…”

Storm Farce, Mark Rodgers

In the 80s action figures became more complex as rival companies battled against each other and videogames for kids’ attention. They’d boast about everything from the level of articulation to the fact they had an elastic band inside to make them ‘punch’ when twisted. One of the most popular was G.I. Joe (or Action Force as it was called here until the end of the 80s) and I was a big fan of the comics as they ran as backups in my Transformers comics. When Hasbro took over the Action Force name in the UK in the early 80s and decided to rebrand it with their G.I. Joe line IPC Magazines also lost the licence to Marvel UK.

IPC needed a replacement and Storm Force was co-created by legendary comics editor Barrie Tomlinson with Richard Burton (not that one) for the pages of Battle. In fact, you can check out early design sketches in the review of Barrie’s book. Barrie often said they’d have made a good toy range themselves and they were definitely designed to resemble such a line with a never-ending array of characters and their unique weaponry and add-ons. As such, they were perfect for a Mark Rodgers spoof in the sister comic.

As kids we’d obviously never think of the impracticalities of such attachments and that’s what made this so hilarious at the time, it was pointing out something ludicrous right in front of our young eyes. If you think about observational comedians who point out normal things to us that are actually ludicrous, it felt like that when I read this for the review. Eric ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson‘s art is always gorgeous too, especially when he gets the chance to have a full-colour page.

The story is on the same page as the previous Disney parodies and has the same banner title at the top. Again, I think this may have been for new readers so they wouldn’t be expecting more of the same spoof each week. Seasoned pig pals didn’t need such explanations. It’s a brilliant spoof though and one I’m sure Barrie would approve of.

As if being eaten alive wasn’t bad enough, this is no ordinary body

A quick look at some highlights from other pages in the issue now, starting with Hadrian Vile beginning to teach his new baby sister the important things in life, like crawling without being clumsy. The lengths he goes to are classic Hadrian and he gets up to the usual mischief, but it also shows that as far as his baby sister goes his heart is in the right place, which is sweet. Haldane’s Incredible Amazing Bizarre World is particularly funny for this fan of everything Ancient Egyptian and Frank Sidebottom meets Edwina Currie as she tagged along with the Smokebusters.

If you’d like to know more about the Smokebusters you can check out the previous issue for more on Frank’s trip, and the special free edition of OiNK given away to schools in parts of England was also reviewed just a few days ago on the blog! That’s right, there was an extra issue of OiNK you may not have seen before. I didn’t know about it at the time either and only got my hands on it not long ago for the review. So go check that out.

I’m not a fussy eater (stay with me here). I eat almost anything and try almost anything too. Except one thing. That one thing is oysters, I just can’t fathom how it can be pleasant swallowing a live slimy, salty little bit of sludge (you can tell I’ve never tried them) down my throat. I mean, the poor thing is still alive! Burp is a fan though and in this week’s strip we get to follow that aforementioned poor little oyster down his gullet. But as if being eaten alive wasn’t bad enough, this is no ordinary body.

I think the phrase is, “Well that escalated quickly”. I find the expression on the oyster in the large panel on the left just hilarious, as is the stomach’s horrible realisation in the next. It seems stomach and myself share a similar view on the matter. My favourite Burp strips always involve his organs or gratuitous, over-the-top cartoon violence and this strip manages to have both. Although, I do wonder where his pet specimen from Uranus has got to, we haven’t seen them in months.

Something I’ve noticed in recent issues is how Marc Riley’s strips such as Harry the Head and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth are no longer being written by him. He may still be drawing them but a range of different talent has been scripting his creations including Doctor Mooney He’s Completely Looney, written here by Mike Taylor, one of OiNK’s contributing artists who has drawn everything from a GBH Christmas Catalogue to Ye Ballad of Snatcher Sam and the advert for the OiNK sweatshirt.

An endless stream of visual “Doctor, Doctor” jokes, the gags in this strip remained fresh throughout and perhaps this was thanks to the now ever-changing scripting roster. Apart from the occasional absence the good doctor would be a regular in OiNK all the way to the end and I can’t remember if Marc would ever write any more. His Harry the Head strip, once a full-page main character would remain as a mini-strip from now on so perhaps Marc’s music and DJ work was taking up more of his time.

The back page calendar of this issue caused some controversy at the time, although not on the scale of the Janice and John strip from #7 which resulted in a complaint to the Press Council. I can’t even remember where I read that this next page caused a bit of backlash from certain quarters, it could be from a press clipping in a later issue so I’ll look out for it. But what could Tony Husband’s piggy-themed sports calendar do to upset people? I really don’t know, it’s only pigs playing football with a butcher’s head after all.

As I’ve mentioned before I never cut up my OiNKs. The Tom Thug Christmas Angel was finally made when I was in my 30s and the Frank Sidebottom zoetrope just last year for the blog, so I definitely never cut out an entire page to put these calendars up on the wall. I never even cut out the coupon to give to the newsagent, I just asked my shop to reserve my comics for me. However, those coupons did give co-editor Patrick Gallagher a chance to give some old drawings from an old book of Victorian drawings (previously ransacked for #23) a new lease of life and they became a series of cartoons in their own right.

That’s us for another issue and so far I’m enjoying reading OiNK and writing about it every single week, even if the comic hasn’t quite settled into its new format yet. This’ll come over the next few weeks and I’m really looking forward to that. So should you. In the meantime remember to come back next Saturday 27th January 2023 for #48 of the world’s funniest comic.

OiNK! #45: SLiMLiNE SOWS

The best time of the year may have ended, the decorations may be back underneath the stairs and it may feel like there’s nothing but cold, dark winter ahead, however in 1988 (and in 2023) there was some light in the form of the now-weekly OiNK. I’ve previously covered how this came about, so now it’s time to concentrate on the comics themselves and it wasn’t clear to ten-year-old me that changes had already been made to the winning formula. We’ll get to them in a bit.

It was so exciting to think I’d be getting a brand new OiNK every single Saturday and I’m sure I wasn’t the only pig pal who was feeling that level of anticipation, so with this being an important issue who else could draw the cover but Ian Jackson and alongside the green logo its eye-catching and memorable. Just to note, it may say ‘Every Friday’ on the cover but Fleetway’s comics would be released the working day before (the date being the Saturday after the day on the cover, I know it’s confusing!) so OiNK Weekly was actually published every Thursday, young me just didn’t realise and continued to collect his comics on Saturdays (my Marvel UK comics were published Saturdays).

There were so many characters I couldn’t wait to see twice as much of and The Sekret Diary ov Hadrian Vile – Aged 8 5/8 (yearƨ), written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by Ian, was high on my list. A highlight of every single issue there was so much to enjoy, from Hadrian himself and the way he told his story to the atrocious spelling and the jaggedy art. Given the format of a kid’s diary if anything it suits the weekly schedule even more than before.

A little mini-series here, plenty of one-offs there, the fun, random nature was one of those things that set OiNK apart

Readers across the land had just gone back to school after the excitement of the Christmas break and Hadrian was no exception, but at least his antics while trying to solve a homework question would soften the blow somewhat for us. Indeed it did, although I’m not too sure there was any softening of that landing for Tuby Watson. This fan favourite would also be subject to changes very soon but for now it was great to have a diary entry every week!

Disney cartoon characters had been the subject of OiNK’s spoofing before, most recently in The OiNK! Book 1988 which we’d just got our trotters on Christmas Day. Over the first few weeklies it seemed this was going to become a regular occurrence. Unfortunately it only lasted a few issues but that’s the nature of OiNK, right? A little mini-series here, plenty of one-offs there, the fun, random nature was one of those things that set it apart. That, and how it would treat such beloved, cuddly and wholesome characters as Winnie the Pooh.

Written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by Chas Sinclair, Windie the Poo was the best of this short series (the others would be called The Jungle Chapter and Sow White and the Seven Plops) and it was given the banner title of ‘OiNK! Piggy Parodies Present’, possibly to explain its place in the comic for those new readers they hoped would be jumping on here. Much like #15 and #36 this issues feels like it’s designed to welcome in new pig pals.

Sherlock Hams is one of two new multi-part serials beginning this issue, Uncle Pigg introduces us to OiNK on page two with Grunts acting as a contents page for one issue rather than containing letters and some regular characters such as Pete and his Pimple definitely feel like they’re introducing themselves. Lew Stringer also took this chance to set in motion a very fondly remembered ongoing contest.

Readers were asked to send in their ideas to cure Pete’s giant, unsightly pimple once and for all and while some would do so with ideas taken from the real world, as the weeks went on they’d get more and more crazy, really showcasing the minds of the fans! The Slugs, the first strip of the issue, also ended with a competition, although it was in place of an actual punchline unlike Pete’s and Frank Sidebottom made a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him cameo in Ponsonby Claret’s second and sadly final appearance.

Last time we mourned the end of Mr Big Nose’s time in OiNK but Jeremy Banx’s Burp is still going strong and now he also brought us Doctor Hieronymous Van Hellsong, a new six-part mini-series based around the same dark, twisted humour we loved so much in his Butcher Watch updates, such as the one last issue which now feels like a precursor to this new strip. Even the black framing helps give it a creepy feel to begin with, then you continue reading and the ridiculous ways Hellsong dispatches his foes will have you laughing.

It’s classic Banx. Taking his surreal sense of humour, adding tons of atmosphere and then almost spoofing that very same atmosphere with the hilarious antics of our new hero as he solemnly describes his job. It’s brilliant stuff! My ten-year-old self found this captivating and of course very, very funny. If you’re new to OiNK try to imagine reading this at that age. You can see why I’m insistent that OiNK helped form the sense of humour of many when you have such strong strips as this.

For a new weekly schedule some changes had to be made to the make up of the comic

It all ends with that ominous shadow and the set up is complete, ready for the showdown to come. One of the best strips from OiNK’s whole run and a highlight of the weeklies, Jeremy would bring the character back for a second mini-series after a great reception from readers. In a later review I’ll take a closer look at the more serialised format of the weeklies and this will form a big part of that.

For a new weekly schedule some changes had to be made to the make up of the comic. I wouldn’t notice the biggest one until I finished reading it, another wouldn’t be obvious until next week, but I was very aware that it felt more ‘organised’ for want of a better word. So much planning went into making previous OiNKs feel randomly put together and, while we do have plenty of little one-offs here, most strips are full pages, while half-pages are all kept together in groups and the mini-strips all placed onto one page.

It’s nice to see Harry the Head back to being a simple gag strip again instead of trying to have serialised cliffhangers every issue and the others are all on top of their game too. Always interesting to see how the writing duties would often change for each strip, such as Mark Rodgers writing Marc Riley’s Harry and Davy Francis writing Marc’s Doctor Mooney while his own creation Greedy Gorb is written by Griffiths+Kane. Keeps things fresh.

Nowadays this makes it all feel very much like a more traditional comic, although to be fair when compared to the traditional comics of the time (and their almost exclusively full-page or double-page strips made up of regular characters only) it still stood out as very different. But even back then it just felt a little less ‘OiNK’-like. As the weeklies went on this would change back to more of what we’d been used to, so the team could’ve just been keeping it a bit simpler for now to get ahead of the new weekly schedule. That other change was more of a shock though.

Would potential new readers fork out more for fewer pages if they weren’t aware of how much OiNK crammed in?

Back in 1988 I was surprised I finished the issue so quickly and originally put it down to just enjoying it so much that it flew by. But something made me check the amount of pages when I noticed there were no page numbers anymore. To my dismay OiNK was now 24 pages instead of 32! It’s only from reading the Crash magazine interview with co-editor Tony Husband last year that I realised this had been the original plan for OiNK before it was agreed to do a larger fortnightly.

The price reduction didn’t mean much to us kids but it did appease my parents somewhat and in the end we were getting 48 pages every fortnight. As I’ve discussed previously the idea was to increase sales (we’d be buying twice as many) but OiNK was still more expensive than its stablemates and now had less pages. Originally it had the same amount but was printed on larger, glossy paper when the others were smaller newsprint. Even when the paper changed with #36 it still felt worth the extra cash. OiNK was created independently so was always going to be a few pence more, but would readers fork out more for fewer pages, especially if they were new and weren’t aware of how much OiNK crammed in?

This change had worked before to phenomenal results when Marvel UK’s Transformers comic changed from a 32-page fortnightly to a 24-page weekly at the end of its first year and sales skyrocketed. Although, by the end of those fortnightlies there was so much awful filler material it was a blessing to have a more streamlined (and now full-colour) comic. Weekly OiNK would also get to that stage of just feeling like a more streamlined experience packed with excellent content, rather than a thinner comic. But would it be too late by then for regular readers? Stick around to find out.

The issue wraps up with the first of six calendars for 1988, one of which would prove a bit controversial. For now, we’ve reached the beginning of what is essentially the third of four very different phases of OiNK’s run and I’m looking forward to seeing what positive changes the weekly format brings as it settles in. Join me just seven days from now on Saturday 14th January 2023 (Thursday back in 1988) for the next real time review.

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!