Tag Archives: Marc Riley

OiNK! #8: SKELE-TON OF FUN

I had a particularly pleasant time reading this issue of OiNK. It’s always a positive experience but blue skies, a beer and a furry feline friend for company heightened it even further. It was a different reading experience for what is a very different issue, kicking off with co-editor Patrick Gallagher‘s anarchic front cover.

As mentioned last time, after what must’ve been an exhaustive summer special Uncle Pigg and his staff were off on holidays, leaving issue eight in the capable hands of his skeleton staff. While their hands would be anything but capable, the second part of his description was more accurate. That’s right, actual skeletons make up the skeleton staff (of course they do) and the front cover pretty much sums up what’s to come with its slapdash approach and apparent mistakes.

Inside we meet Boss Bones and some of the hilarious substitutes for the humans that normally put the comic together. Brilliantly, the artists’ signatures have even been changed throughout to match these pseudonyms; some have clearly been edited after the fact but some have been changed by the artists themselves.

Throughout we’re treated to the skeletons printing whole pages upside down, spilling jam and bursting their fountain pens as they make a general hash of putting an issue of OiNK together. Here are two such examples from the Grunts letters page and Marc Riley‘s Harry the Head.

Two of the artists who really embraced the chaos were Jeremy Banx and Davy Francis, or rather their substitutes ‘Bonex’ and ‘Bony Hart’, the latter named after Tony Hart, the famous 80s children’s TV artist. Mr Big Nose‘s strip is made up of completely random panels with no correlation to each other, the star telling us it would’ve all made sense if the skeletons had remembered to include speech balloons. Jeremy later brings us three comic-invading butchers, a one off surprise that evolves into the ongoing Butcherwatch series, which in turn will introduce us to the comic’s arch nemesis, Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith.

I’m reminded of a stand up comedian (I want to say Lee Evans) who noticed how everyone loves their local butcher, they comment on how friendly and trustworthy they are, they chat away while ordering their food, and this all happens despite the fact the butcher’s apron will invariably be covered in blood from the carcasses of dead animals they sawed into little bits just moments before. I remember laughing at this and I’ve never forgotten it to this day when I visit my local shop and see that play out in front of me.

This just reminded me of that.

Davy’s alter ego wasn’t in the same league as his namesake, as evidenced with his How to Draw page written by Mark Rodgers, or rather ‘Jolly Rodgers’. Bony’s advice was to cheat at every possible opportunity. This could include only showing the backs of heads because there are less features to draw, only having buildings very far away so they are nothing more than dots on the horizon, and never showing still figures. He claims this final tip is because they’re boring for the reader, but the real reason is so he can draw them running out of frame, their body replaced with nothing but zoom lines.

Naturally before any of us would’ve pinned her up on our bedroom walls she had to be the butt of a joke.

The OiNK Superstar Posters make a welcome return this issue, or rather a generic ‘OiNK Poster’ is included. The reason a word is missing from the title is the subject matter. In the previous issue Ian Jackson (who had taken over poster duties from J.T. Dogg) drew Uncle Pigg as the subject of the only OiNK MEGAstar Poster, so with it being the turn of Mary Lighthouse (critic) the bland title this time is a joke in itself.

Mary’s a surprising pick so naturally before any of us would’ve pinned her up on our bedroom walls she had to be the butt of a joke. This is brilliantly explained in a full page strip by Mark and Ian in which the skeleton crew try their best, which of course means the worst possible outcome will inevitably happen.

Moving on, the gorgeous lady below played the role of Terry Wogham in an early photo story series, one of which I’ve already shown in issue five‘s review. This would be her final appearance, shot all out of focus after the skeletons handed the role of photographer to Weedy Willy. Tony Husband told me he went on all of the photoshoots for this particular series including the last one, during which the farmer told them they’d completed their story just in time because she was due to go to the slaughterhouse the next day!

Having gotten to know her over a few years the team’s hearts were broken and they even considered buying her and renting a field in which she could live out the rest of her life, but unfortunately they weren’t able to in the end. Terry lives on though in the hearts and minds of pig pals everywhere.

Towards the back of the comic Uncle Pigg’s loyal assistant Percy Plop (named for the first time) telephones his boss to inform him of how the issue is panning out and the response is so loud it flings Percy across the room where he sticks to the wall! We get a brilliant strip showing our editor’s return to the office which acts as a full page Next Issue promo. You’ll see it on Friday 20th August, a few days before issue nine’s review. With the comic back in his capable trotters it was time for a more traditional ending to the issue.


“We really got the drop on him, didn’t we?”

Eustace the Underpants

Do you remember Jimbo & the Jet Set?  Were you a fan?  Are you singing the theme tune now?  Oh dear, sorry. Premiering on BBC One in the early weeks of 1986 the show was at its height when OiNK came along, making it perfect fodder for the team’s own spin on the idea of anthropomorphic objects. If you watched the cartoon you’ll know Jimbo was joined by various talking trucks, helicopters and even a set of airplane steps, all chattering away on the tarmac. Patrick Gallagher decided to run with that idea.

This wouldn’t be the last time a popular talking form of transport would get the OiNK treatment. If you think back to the 1980s I’m sure if you try to guess who I’m talking about you’ll be on the right track. It’s a favourite of mine so I’ll definitely be including that one too.

Let’s finish this issue with the back cover, where we find Tom Thug and his dad have made it to Blackpool after setting off last issue. It’s not only the first time we get to see a colour strip from Lew Stringer in OiNK, it was the first one he’d produced to ever see print. Readers of The Transformers would’ve seen coloured Robo-Capers by Lew before now but those were coloured in-house at Marvel UK using overlays for flat colours.

IPC Magazines printed OiNK on high grade paper and everything was hand coloured for more depth. To be fair, the early editions of Transformers contained hand coloured artwork on the main strip and cover too. In the case of this Tom Thug strip Lew used water colour inks and the result is lovely. Even that final panel.

Speaking of which, according to Lew the final panel had some dialogue edited by one of the comic’s editors; the word “sink” was originally meant to be “bog”. It was rare for something like that to be changed in OiNK.

Having a full colour back page surely shows how well regarded Tom was with the editors. He was certainly appreciated by the fans, including this one. To this day Tom is my favourite comics character of all time and I’ll be looking forward to each of his instalments in this read through.

So that’s us for another issue. OiNK may be safely back in the trotters of Uncle Pigg but I don’t think Mary Lighthouse will be as safe, not with the next issue’s theme being that of revenge. You can check back in two weeks to see exactly how that’s enacted, the next review is published on Monday 23rd August. Ta-ra for now.

OiNK! #7: SUMMER COOL

Be forewarned, if you’re reading this in the heatwave we’re experiencing at the time of writing you may be a tad jealous of the people on the cover that we’re actually meant to be laughing at.

While comics would normally have a separate Summer Special OiNK had only just begun so we’d have to wait for ours. But something else made it extra special, at least for readers of other IPC Magazine comics such as 2000AD. As with the preview they received this issue for free as a promotional push, hence the subtle “NOT FOR SALE!” over one of the covers above.

By coincidence the issue receiving extra visibility also contained the strip that would be famously investigated by the Press Council. But, just like the ‘Viz’ myth surrounding OiNK, this chapter in the comic’s life has become distorted in the intervening years. Two (yes, only two) complaints were received and no it did not contribute to the comic’s eventual cancellation. After all, that was over two years and 61 issues later. So what’s the truth?

Well first, here’s the story itself which co-editor Patrick Gallagher believes was written by Mark Rodgers. Every pig pal remembers Janice and John and the Parachute Jump, which was illustrated by Trevor Johnson, a friend of Patrick’s and a renowned Manchester graphic designer who did a lot of work for Factory Records and the famous The Hacienda.

The complaint accused the story of disregarding mother-family relationships, but the Press Council rightly saw it as the deliberate parody of the traditional stories found in old fashioned children’s publications that it was. They ruled that it was meant to be a tasteless spoof and was not improper in any way, rejecting the complaint. Brilliantly, OiNK would publish this in a future issue.

IPC loved the attention things like this brought.

OiNK was aimed at children, not their parents, and we found it hilarious. My own parents thought it was stupid but harmless. However, while only two people complained, WHSmith still placed OiNK on their top shelves as a result. A ridiculous situation. But a year later in an interview Tony, Mark and Patrick would be all too happy to confirm sales of 100,000 per issue so never underestimate Pig Power. Tony also recently told me IPC loved the attention things like this brought.

Janice and John would indeed return in the sequel Janice and John and the Thermonuclear Reactor, although it didn’t appear until much later in the run, possibly held back until the outcome of the complaint was known. I’ll definitely include that and OiNK’s response to the complaint when we get to those issues. But now, for our next highlight let’s enjoy a different form of crazy.

What else can be said about this strip? Nothing really. Simple, straight to the point and laugh out loud funny, that’s Roger Rental, He’s Completely Mental, written by Graham Exton and drawn by his regular artist Ian Knox. To this day I can remember reading certain entries in his series of tiny, one-joke strips as a kid and just losing it with the sheer, unintended anarchy of it all.

At the beginning of OiNK’s run there was a competitor to Snatcher Sam‘s crown as the most idiotic thief to appear in a photo story. His name was Swindler Sid. Played by a good friend of Patrick’s called Nick Bell, the strips were photographed by Patrick’s brother James who we saw as a Typical OiNK Reader back in #5. Despite the consequences of Sid’s actions here I think we’d all risk it at the moment given the weather outside.

Patrick and James would rope in other friends to play the roles of whoever the scripts called for. In this case the first customer is Billy Gregg (a welder in real life), the second is Paul McGarty (a labourer) and P.C. Porker is Pat Healy (a bricklayer) who would appear more than once as the same character.

Sid has now reformed himself and given up his swindling career, “Though he still dabbles in ‘finance’ occasionally” says Patrick. Nick has had an amazing and varied career, working in the NHS for more than 30 years in positions such as Lead Auditor and Benchmarking Analysis, as well as a Business Analyst at Central Manchester University Hospitals Foundation Trust. Sid’s certainly come a long way from swiping ice lollies.

Swindler Sid (Nick Bell) – Photo credit: Patrick Gallagher

Let’s have a quick look at some other highlights from this summery edition, starting with an early character called New Wave Dave who was a bit too keen to be part of that 80s scene. Dave was drawn by Viz founder Chris Donald. Tom Thug went on an ‘oliday to Blackpool with a regular selection of British folk (we’ll see how he gets on next time). There was a comics crossover of gigantic hippopotamus proportions when Hugo the Hungry Hippo popped up to save the day in Rubbish Man, Tom Paterson‘s hilarious Wet Blanket will see publication again later this year and roles were reversed in Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins.

I’m a sucker for comical sharks, as evidenced already with my favourite OiNK page of all in #4, so if any more pop up you can be sure I’ll show them off.

On the middle pages we’re treated to eight lovely, rough around the edges postcards to cut out and take on holiday from the pen of Ian Jackson. I wonder if anyone actually used them? There’s a small competition along the bottom and I’ll keep an eye out for any results as we continue the read through. The best thing about this is Ian interpreting other artists’ characters. Some of the postcards themselves are just priceless too.

Some time next year you’ll see the actual postcards the comic gave away with a few issues. I’ve a foggy memory of wanting to take them on holiday but not sure if I ever did, and they were separate from the comic. So I doubt I would’ve cut up my OiNK to use any of these if I’d been collecting the comic at this point. Why would you want to send away these pieces of art?

Snatcher Sam might be missing in action at the moment but his alter ego Marc Riley‘s strip creations are continuing to bring the laughs. Alongside Harry the Head sat a little quarter-page strip which took us back to the Jurassic, at least in theory. When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth may have had ancient creatures as the stars but the settings and stories were very 1980s.

Popping up in 25 issues altogether they, like Roger Rental, disappeared during the weekly issues as a casualty of the reduced page count. We’d see situations ranging from package holidays to skateboarding, basically everything except anything to do with the correct time period and we loved them.

But for now the sun is setting on another issue of the world’s greatest comic.

One final sight gag from Tony Husband there to round things off. The comic itself would end with Uncle Pigg and his staff heading off on a bus to go on a well deserved vacation of their own, but not before promising to leave the comic in the hands of his “dedicated skeleton staff”. Prophetic words indeed as you’ll find out next time. (There’s a hint under one of the strips above.)

Join me in two weeks for an issue that’s even more unique than those we’ve seen already. That’ll be on Monday 9th August.

OiNK! #3: ACE SPACE ISSUE

I have a little personal story about this issue I’d like to share. I started collecting OiNK at issue 14, but some time after this I was at my cousin’s house when he gave me a couple of his back issues. One of these was the one I’m reviewing now. I remember coming back downstairs from his bedroom and sitting next to my late nanny, who looked at the cover. I didn’t know how she would react and was delightfully surprised when she started giggling like a little schoolgirl and gave me a little wink.

It’s just one very happy memory I associate with this comic and I’ll share more as we go along. My nanny’s giggle was completely justified with Tony Husband‘s cover and its bare piggy bottoms, which actually wraps around to the back page and its explanation for the image. I always loved a good wraparound cover on a comic. Marvel UK were very good at them and while this one isn’t advertised as such (the poster mentioned on the cover refers to a Star Wars spoof inside) it would make for a funny addition to the wall.

This is the first of the themed editions, which over the course of the majority of the fortnightly issues would include everything from traditional Hallowe’en and Christmas themes to music, health, families, war, revenge, love… the list goes on. It added another original element to OiNK itself and made each individual issue a unique experience. In the early issues editor Uncle Pigg and critic Mary Lighthouse would often introduce the theme, mostly written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by Ian Jackson.

I wonder if Colin Baker ever saw himself drawn in Ian’s style?  This wouldn’t be the last time The Sixth Doctor would influence Uncle Pigg but that’s a story for a future issue so you’ll just have to be patient. Mary’s TARDIS pops up on the Grunts page as she desperately tries to phone the operator and then she reappears in her own strip near the end of the comic. But she wasn’t the only character to materialise throughout.

Next up is undoubtedly the star strip of the issue. Boldly going where no photo story had gone before, the OiNK team were really pushing the boundaries of what they could achieve with the format, the characters literally bursting out of the panels and running amok throughout the issue. My original exposure to Star Truck was with the sequel tale in the first OiNK Book, which was even more chaotic! Here, in only the third issue, is the imagination of the OiNK team on full display.

Our cast is made up of Mark Rodgers as Captain Slog, Patrick Gallagher as Sock, Marc Riley as Jock and Tony Husband under the chicken mask as the alien, Jerm. Can you imagine the fun these guys had creating this? Imagine this being part of your job! Jerm would make his escape and pop up in various other strips, a few examples of which I’ve included below.

First though, prolific IPC Magazines comics writer Graham Exton was also part of the creative team behind OiNK and contributed many stories and countless amounts of puns to the comic. The first full strip of his I’m showing here is the first appearance of regular nutball, Roger Rental, He’s Completely Mental, as drawn by local Northern Ireland artist Ian Knox.

Roger was always a favourite of mine. Most of the time he’d appear in quarter-page strips like this one, each with an innocuous beginning, only for Roger to take the meaning of something completely the wrong way. Roger would appear in most of the fortnightly issues before disappearing when the comic turned weekly. But that’s still a lot of short, sharp gags and he would never disappoint.

Turning the page and discovering an OiNK version of your favourite cartoon or toy was always a thrill

There are so many highlights within the pages of this issue it’s been difficult to select just a few for review purposes. They include Billy’s Brain, a story about a young boy who inherits his genius Uncle Vincent’s sentient brain and together they outwit the thieves wishing to use his knowledge for their own nefarious needs. Burp the Smelly Alien‘s page makes a bold impact with its use of one colour (and check out that final panel gag), the Star Truck crew pop up in Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins, Ian Jackson‘s depiction of penguins is a highlight of The Golden Trough Awards and Maggie Pie, Collector of Weird Things goes on a wig collecting spree.

The comic never shied away from spoofing all the things its readers loved. Ghostbusters, He-Man, James Bond and more would all end up getting the Oink! treatment. Turning the page to an OiNK version of your favourite cartoon or toy was always a thrill, a bit like seeing your favourite celebrities on Spitting Image. One franchise they were quick to latch on to was Hasbro’s Transformers.

Central to this particular take was the simple idea these robots could disguise themselves as anything, and I do mean anything. Everyone remembers the toys transforming into cars and airplanes but there were also guns, stereo systems, cassettes and all manner of original ideas. OiNK took this concept and ran with it.

The Transformoids is gloriously illustrated by Ralph Shephard whose style I distinctly remember, mainly because he’d give the same treatment to Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends which I was a fan of at the time. So it’s surprising to discover he only contributed to nine issues in total. But such was the impact of his work it was still a highlight of the entire run.

The Transformers would be the subject of a Madvertisement much later but this is my favourite take on the Robots in Disguise. The ludicrously giant robots appearing out of the flimsiest of objects reminds me of being puzzled, even as a kid, as to how Decepticon leader Megatron could transform from giant robot into a gun held by his comrades in the cartoon. It never made sense to me, but it ended up giving us this delightful, genuinely hilarious spoof so I’ll forgive it.

Time to take a trip to a town that sounds just lovely but in reality is one you may wish to avoid. First though, just above it on the page is a quick pun from Tony Husband in the ongoing Star Truck chase sequence.

Zootown sounds innocent enough and on the surface this looks like a strip you could find in any other comic; a town where the residents go about their daily lives, who just so happen to be animals. But this is OiNK, so of course there’s going to be a twist in the tale. Here, the animals keep their various instincts, insights and, best of all their appetites.

The creatures were never given names as far as I remember, so every issue we were seeing different random inhabitants, but each species would act in specific ways with each other. The carnivores would often get the upper paw, terrifying the little docile animals, but thankfully I don’t think they were ever on the buffet menu. Of course, I could be wrong but there always seemed to be some kind of strange friendship there.


“We knew you’d come this way, so we took a shortcut through the staples!”

Captain Slog, Star Truck

This first episode I’m showing may not have that particular aspect of the ongoing series but it’s still the perfect example of the daft humour we’d enjoy every time. Zootown felt like such a richly populated place even though we saw so little of it each issue, such was the talent of its creator David Haldane.

Before we finish off with the final part of our space saga we’re joined by Albert Einswine and his fascinating Science Facts for Simpletons.

Any excuse for some more Ian Jackson artwork, right? Well, it’s not just because of the art obviously. It’s a genuinely funny read and sums up how unpredictable the humour in OiNK could be, in particular in these little one-off additions to every issue. Ludicrous stuff.

Speaking of which, we’ve made it to the last page so it’s time to rein in Jerm once and for all as we conclude the first outing for the crew of the Enterpies with Star Truck: The Final Chapter. What I love the most here is the fact they’re all so self-aware of being inside the pages of a comic. From the reference to it being on page 31, to the shortcut through the staples taken by the Captain and his men, the daftness doesn’t let up for one panel. Check out the cardboard tube/tennis racquet gun, elaborated upon with some quick hand drawn lines.

A brilliant, genuinely very funny strip the likes of which you just wouldn’t have seen anywhere else. As the comic continues the photo stories become more elaborate without ever losing their cheap and cheerful feel, never forgetting they’re taking the hand out of those in other comics and magazines which were trying (often failing) to look serious and professional.

Star Truck would return in The Oink! Book 1988 and that’s how I first came to know them. Somehow, the sequel is even funnier, again taking place across several other pages but in the much bigger book format there’s more scope for what they can do with the idea. It’s a definite highlight of that book so you can look forward to it appearing here during Christmas 2022.

That’s us all done for another fortnight, at least as far as OiNK reviews go anyway. There’s always more going on here on the OiNK Blog so make sure you keep up to date on the latest additions by subscribing or by keeping an eye on the social media feeds. OiNK #4, the World Cup ’86 issue will be here Monday 14th June. You can also see its promo from this issue on the blog too.