This issue’s cover is one of my very favourites from all of OiNK’s issues for two reasons. The first is obvious, it’s a Jeremy Banx cover featuring Jimmy ’The Cleaver’ Smith, the comic’s villainous butcher baddie in a pool of glistening blood on a splattered background. You wouldn’t have got this in other humour comics, that’s for sure. The other reason is its audacity, that the issue’s cover, its selling point on the shelves, states clearly it has absolutely nothing to do with the contents inside.
This is actually a bit of a sticking point with me as far as some modern American comics go. They can have lovely elaborate covers, yes, but they don’t always relate to the story inside. If this issue of OiNK was released today I’d swear they were taking a shot at those. Inside, it’s also the Easter issue, with Uncle Pigg chowing down on a mountain of chocolate eggs while he cracks (sorry) puns, but apart from Lew Stringer’s two strips no others shell out (sorry again) on eggy scripts. Tom Thug’s title panel also seems to follow the theme from the cover, of having nothing to do with what follows.
The fact the egg (or rather Tom) appears to be asking for “Ralph” or “Hughie” is a great gag; we know exactly what’s happening to the dim-witted one inside and the panel showing us the results is convincingly disgusting! Having once stupidly gone on an amusement ride after eating ice cream and the result of that I almost feel sorry for the dolt. Almost. The limited colours given to the page really help highlight the main plot device (the egg) and the one splash of green makes for a funny moment in itself.
Did you also spot the ‘School Rules’ on the wall? At the time of the comic’s release I could definitely empathise with the kids at Tom’s school with that, finding it very funny in the process. This and Pete’s strip (a highlight is further below) being Easter themed makes the whole issue feel extra special in 2023 too, what with the Easter holidays happening almost at the same time as in 1988. With this quality no wonder Tom carried on for so many years in Buster comic!
Kev F Sutherland first contributed to an issue of OiNK in #38. Having proven himself with that mini-strip his work has finally become a regular fixture and this particular issue contains something of his that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time in this read through, March of the Killer Breakfasts! As a kid I loved my various cereals and their advertisements on TV promising toys and surprises. I can understand why things have changed (for the better) today, but this next strip takes me back to that time and laughing at all of the references to those adverts, never mind the onslaught of over-the-top puns.
There’s something quite genius right there on page one, when Kev perfectly lays down two future jokes when he names his protagonist. To the reader it’s initially just a funny name tied in with the cereal theme, but later two perfectly timed puns in the same caption tell us why ‘Dr Brek Sugar’ was really given that name. This is one of Kev’s best and one of the funniest strips in OiNK. Out of all of his contributions I think it’s tied for first place with his time travelling professors we’ll meet in a monthly later in the year. It’s comedic genius, and it’s inside a children’s comic.
Right from the start OiNK wanted to give a chance to young, new talent in the world of children’s comics and hired accordingly. This commitment rubbed some long-time professionals up the wrong way but the comic stuck to its guns. Now, with Kev centre stage in each issue and the likes of young Charlie Brooker producing so much material, OiNK had evolved a lot since its early days and it makes me wonder what other new talent it would’ve discovered if it had continued for longer than the two-and-a-half years it ran.
There’s the Pete and his Pimple strip I mentioned earlier, when Pete discovers after eating too many Easter Eggs that his pimple’s pus takes like delicious milk chocolate. Of course it runs out just as he tries to impress Lovely Lucy. The Wonder Pig (this time called Laffie) is back in the first of a series of weekly adventures, with the usual predicament, and then on Mercury a rather familiar looking royal family have summoned Burp to help with the sweltering heat on the first planet next to the sun. This leads nicely on to one of two GBH Madvertisements in this issue.
Are you sick and tired of your job? Don’t you just wish you had the ability to leave it, perhaps by winning the lottery? Well GBH has just the thing for you. Their special offer of two free (not free) books will teach you everything you need to know to do just that. In fact, all you need is a lot of privilege and being born into the right family. Surely this isn’t something you can teach, right? Well that kind of detail never stopped these gangsters from try to hock their latest scam idea.
While OiNK’s humour for the most part has not aged, when it spoofs celebrities of the 80s it’s inevitable that kids reading it today (as some blog readers have told me their own kids do) may not appreciate those particular strips as much as us who grew up with them. Of course, this particular Madvertisement has aged but for a whole other reason, however let’s not shut down the whole country again and just move on, shall we? I do like Steve Gibson’s very Spitting Image-esque drawings though.
A couple of mini-strips before we round off this week’s review and Ed McHenry’s Wally of the West continues to entertain. This week it’s not Wally himself that’s acting on the silly side though, he’s actually the innocent victim of someone else’s ridiculousness. Then Marc Riley’s Doctor Mooney He’s Completely Looney has two scriptwriters this week, Marc himself and Mick Peek. It’s silly, gross-out humour and one which made me chuckle because I’m still that big of a child.
At this point in OiNK’s run Marc was spending a lot more time on his music career which included spending time in America, so more and more of his strips are being written (or co-written) by others from the team. As I mentioned above OiNK had evolved somewhat and it would continue to do so, never standing still or resting on its laurels. Sometimes this was for the best, sometimes not so much. As you’ll see in the months ahead it can be both of these extremes even in individual issues, when newer talent gets to contribute more while we have to say cheerio to some of the originals.
That’s us at the rear of another porker. Just time to ensure the young readers reserved their copies at their local newsagent’s with co-editor Patrick Gallagher’s usual weekly nonsense in the Great Moments in History coupon. To paraphrase it, I’m hoping the blog is still to all of your tastes and in case you missed it (somehow) make sure you check out the extra review we had this past week for the OiNK! Holiday Special #2! When you’re all caught up make sure you’re back here next week, on Friday 7th April 2023 for #58 and have a Happy Easter (even though the next issue will be out by then)!