Tag Archives: Marc Riley

OiNK! #18: HAPPY HOGMANAY!

Growing up in a small town in Northern Ireland I’d never heard of the word ‘Hogmanay’ before so initially thought this was an OiNK pun on some Scottish word about the New Year. But really it’s just the best possible way to celebrate for this comic, so much so that both of the issues published to celebrate the New Year in OiNK’s run would have the same theme. The cover by legendary cartoonist John Geering sums it all up rather perfectly; this is a celebration of Scotland and its culture just as much as it is the festivities.

A new character who might like to think he’s cultured is new addition Barrington Bosh he’s incredibly Po$h, brought to the page by fellow Northern Irelander Ian Knox. Given how much I remember of this particular posh little git I was surprised to find out he only appeared in nine issues of OiNK altogether, normally with long gaps between strips. To say he was posh is actually a huge understatement, the whole point being to push this to the extreme every time. This debut story is the perfect introduction.

Bosh did absolutely nothing for himself and this was the basis for his entire life and thus every appearance. Everyday tasks were something he’d never even consider doing himself and the creative ways he and his staff would get around them were hilarious to us kids. The strip was also a biting satire of the difference between upper and lower class people in the UK and that old saying “How the other half lives”.

Back in #7 I showed you a brief glimpse at Hugo the Hungry Hippo‘s cameo appearance in cartoonist David Haldane‘s other creation, Rubbish Man. There, Hugo popped by to do what he does best, to eat. He also inadvertently saved the day for our smelly superhero and it appears he’s a bit of a fan because he’s dolled himself up in very familiar garb for a fancy dress party for the New Year.

One of my favourite additions to any issue of OiNK was also written and drawn by David. Little quarter-page entries of animals just living their normal anthropomorphic lives always had me in stitches, especially when this would be mixed with their abilities as animals. So some would appear in clothes, others would be more wild. By all means Zootown made no sense but I don’t think any part of it was ever meant to!

Before we move on to some of the multitude of Scottish strips and gags here are a couple of other highlights in this issue. As ever Burp has another strong entry and to be honest it’d be so easy for me to include his page in every single review! Here he’s been invited to a Hogmanay party and it all kicks off with this funny invite. One of Banx‘s other strips is the always hilarious Hector Vector and his Talking T-Shirt, though surely he should’ve had a coat on this time.

I mentioned Scottish culture earlier and we can’t do that without mentioning Robbie Burns, surely? OiNK thought so. The poet’s work is described as “spontaneous and direct” and it fell upon Steve Gibson to conjure up a suitable parody. He knocks it out of the park. Taking Burns’ To A Mouse as his inspiration he renames it The Beastie. Complete with typical Gibson art, unmistakable in the beastie itself, here’s Hoggy Burns.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, nothing was sacred to OiNK. This was especially true when it came to those bastions of the comics world, the unstoppable forces of The Dandy and The Beano (well, at least Beano is still unstoppable). A favourite target of Uncle Pigg’s, the two comics were held in high regard by editor and head writer Mark Rodgers who had great fun in sending them up quite regularly. For the Scottish issue there was no better strip ripe for this treatment than The Dandy’s Jocks vs Geordies.

The strip was still running in 1986 and involved two schools situated across the Scotland/England border from each other. The boys who made up the gangs from each school were deliberately clichéd, already parodies of sorts. They’d play ever more violent tricks on each other but would always end up being punished for it by their teachers. Neither side was immune either, winning or losing roughly the same amount of times as the each other.


“Ay, weel, there’s mony a mickle maks a muckle!”

Teach Yourself Glaswegian

Mark took the concept behind the original strip and decided to poke fun at its repetitive nature and the fact it had been running for so long. (The pupils had been duking it out on a weekly basis for 11 years by this stage.) This was a regular theme to OiNK’s parodies of these comics and here it’s played out particularly well in the ending, with art by Marc Riley.

It’s time to take a closer look at the country providing the laughs. What we need is an expert in the subject matter. Failing that, how about a young lad who simply thinks he’s an expert in all subjects but in reality is the master of none. Of course, bringing in Hadrian Vile has at least one benefit, it means Ian Jackson will be providing the art.

With Hadrian’s information it’s clear he’s read the names of the places throughout the country and taken them to mean something completely different. Every single time. Take your time to appreciate all the little jokes and references as you take your tour around the highlands and lowlands. There are too many here for me to pick out a definitive favourite but the town of Dornoch and the hamlet of Inchadamph get particularly funny entries for me.

I have a soft spot for Scotland most definitely but at age nine I wasn’t aware of most of these real places, however it was no less funny. You’ll have spotted some of the best gags come from Hadrian’s grasp of Scottish words. Just a little later in the comic Mark took this a step further with a full page dedicated to helping the readers Teach Yourself Glaswegian, drawn by Mike Green.

Expect plenty of dialogue with each sentence accompanied by an asterisk pointing towards the apparent English translation. It doesn’t take long before it gets completely ridiculous of course and I personally believe certain parts of England are also being subjected to a little gentle teasing here, as some of the translations sound overtly stuck up. I remember showing this to my sister’s Scottish husband once and he roared laughing, particularly at the fifth panel, which is my particular favourite too. Enjoy.

We’re down to the final few pages and I’ve broken away from the subject matter to show you the first entry in a semi-regular series of comedy adventure strips. We all know which television series this was based upon which starred a famous dog. But take that dog, replace him with a pig, make his owner completely useless, exaggerate the already far-fetched skills of the animal hero and then have one more funny twist in the final panels. Written by Tony Husband and drawn by Chas Sinclair here’s Lashy the Wonder Pig.

A genius piece of scripting and loveable art make this a highlight of the whole issue. He proved popular too, returning several times throughout OiNK’s run, although with a selection of different names. Known as Laffy, Lashie, Lattie, Laxxie, Lammie, Lazzie, Laggie, Lappie and Larry the series would keep certain staples running such as his owner always falling down a pit (even when he was nowhere near one), the ever more ludicrous feats of daring by our pig and the constant reminder that his intelligence wasn’t on par with his bravery! Hilarious every single time.

I just want to show you the back page before we finish off. The team decided to run their own awards, mimicking the likes of the Oscars and BAFTAS, the hype for which always begins as soon as each new year does. But this wouldn’t be just any old awards. We weren’t being asked to vote for our favourite characters or cartoonists from within OiNK’s pages, oh no. Biggest Wally, Worst Pop Group, Most Irritating DJ and even Worst Comic. This would be fun to take part in.

It was even more fun when the prizes were given out. Tony and Patrick would call upon the crew at Spitting Image for a photo shoot and one of the winners would even be on hand to accept their award in person! That’s still some way off in #30 in 2022.

The first issue of 1987, the only calendar year that OiNK would be on sale regularly from beginning to end, would have a Health and Fitness theme. It is the season of good intentions after all. So don’t just walk back here, run to the donut shop first and then settle down to more hog highlights on Monday 10th January 2022! See you then.

OiNK! #14: THE BEGiNNiNG

So this is an exciting review for me. This was the first issue of OiNK I ever read back as a kid. Not only that, this was the first ever comic I could call my own. While my brother and sisters had been reading the likes of The Beano, Bunty and Look-In this was the first comic bought specifically for me, after I saw this funny Jeremy Banx cover in the newsagent. But it was a certain page inside which made me recognise this as my first issue when I did my last read through and we’ll get to that below.

But once I knew this fact the memories came flooding back, like seeing the cover for the first time and being introduced to my first OiNK spoof, The Unprofessionals. Based on the iconic television show, my dad and brother used to watch it all the time so I was fully aware of it and thought this was such a funny take on it. I’m sure I must’ve showed it to them. Drawn by Ron Tiner (The Hotspur, Battle Action, Hellblazer) if there had been an official comic based on the show some of these caricatures wouldn’t have looked out of place.

It’s a lovingly crafted spoof and superbly highlights the over-the-top violence of the series but in a funny, kid friendly way. Ron would go on to contribute to 16 issues of OiNK including two further parody serials based on Sherlock Holmes and King Solomon. I didn’t know comics did this kind of thing. Of course, they didn’t really, OiNK was a unique entity and a trendsetter! Being a fan of Spitting Image at the time (my brother watched it and we shared a room, I didn’t really understand what was going on but I found it funny) this really appealed and was a big reason I wanted to read more OiNK.

Marc Riley’s appearances as Snatcher Sam were always highlights of the issues he appeared in.

Crime might seem like a strange topic for a kids’ comic, but Mary Lighthouse and her real world counterpart had nothing to worry about, the message was very clear that crime doesn’t pay. Criminals and bullies met their comeuppance in highly imaginative ways throughout, and in once case a thief actually came good and became a private detective. That thief was of course Snatcher Sam, as portrayed by Marc Riley. This being my first encounter with him I was unaware of his dodgy past but that didn’t make this any less funny.

Marc’s appearances as Sam were always highlights of the issues he appeared in, though I was surprised to find out the character only appeared in nine of the editions I owned as a child (and only 16 altogether). I could’ve sworn he was in almost every single one, but perhaps I just reread them a lot! People sometimes doubt me when I say this comic still makes me laugh but if any proof was needed the second panel on the second page had me roaring.

A character who had been a regular in the early issues but whose appearances had reduced by this stage was Maggie Pie, Collector of Weird Things, a young girl with an obsession of finding new things to collect no matter how weird, random or disgusting. Always written by Tony Husband and drawn by Clive Collins (Punch, Reader’s Digest and Life Vice-President of The Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain) her earlier strips were a bit hit-and-miss with me personally but this one gave me a good old giggle.

Maggie appeared in just ten issues but that did include the first annual and many remember her as a regular, maybe because it looked like she was going to be one at the very beginning when she appeared in nearly every issue. Clive would return a few more times, most memorably for some brilliant Walt Disney parodies where he mimicked their comic characters perfectly.

This was the first appearance of Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith!

This issue also introduces another semi-regular character. After the skeleton staff accidentally let butchers into the pages of the comic while Uncle Pigg was on holiday in #8, Jeremy Banx began a series of Butcher Watch Updates with various exaggerated butcher caricatures, each more menacing than the last. While they all seemed to like their jobs a little too much, one stood out enough that he’d return now and again as the nemesis of anthropomorphic pigs everywhere. This was the first appearance of Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith! A small part of the issue this time around, he’d soon ascend to become a menace we’d all love to hate.

Other highlights also include Ian Knox‘s background animals in Roger Rental, He’s Completely Mental, Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins is being set up for something and the hidden evidence is just ridiculous and in Tom Thug the bullying pillock faces his own nemesis, a victim’s big sister.

Regular blog readers will no doubt remember the insane amount of puns written by Graham Exton for Fish Theatre in the animal-themed #6 from a few months back. Of course, depending on how well you received those puns you may have tried to blank it from your memory! I was a big fan though, in fact the more groans a pun can produce the better. Graham said he used up enough puns for several scripts on that one page, just giving himself more work in the long run. Well, it appears he hasn’t learned his lesson.

Graham has decided to revisit the idea with Agadoo (push a pineapple?) Christie’s Murder in the Orient Express Dining Car, a murder mystery where all the characters are vegetables, drawn by Ian Knox. It might not contain puns in every single panel this time around but that doesn’t mean the volume is any more bearable. Just to make sure you don’t miss a groan, each pun is even underlined.

If you can peel your eyes away from that overload of gags the next two highlights confirmed for me this was my first issue. I had the huge three-part poster calendar up on my walls as a kid and with the first part being given away free with #15 I knew I had to have started reading OiNK by that stage at least. But this half-page promo for it rang a big bell in my head. I remember seeing this little corner of part one and being excited my second issue was going to have such an exciting gift.

I’ve been able to collect the whole calendar again and it now takes pride of place on the wall of my home office inside which I write this very blog. It’s right behind me as I type in fact, in the perfect position for FaceTime calls. With the next three issues I’ll show you the part that came free and then the complete calendar afterwards. Even after all these years it’s a sight to behold, thanks to Ian Jackson‘s brilliant take on Mount Rushmore, Mount Rushboar.

This next page was conclusive proof this was my first issue. When I did my previous read through seven years ago this was the first page I recognised from any of the early issues. I did a little research to make sure it wasn’t reprinted later in the run and lo and behold it wasn’t, so here we are! You Are The Detective is a riff on the Cluedo board game, complete with suspects and a murder weapon. All the reader had to do was match the cause of death to the suspect. The only thing is, it looks like figuring out something as simple as the weapon isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Hilariously drawn by Mike Roberts (who I explained was a big part of my teen years in #10’s review) it’s a brilliant piece with a great puzzle to work out. There is an answer there. You just won’t get it. As a kid I spent forever trying to figure this out, determined I wouldn’t look at the answer until I got it myself. I remember lying in bed with the lamp on, still awake late on a school night no less, eventually giving up and checking the answer later in the issue. Needless to say I laughed and then couldn’t believe I’d missed it!

Try to work it out for yourself. The answer is further down this review but the punchline will be so much funnier if you give it a go first. No peeking!

With this being my first issue it was also my first exposure to all of OiNK’s art styles. I’d always assumed most humour comics had similar styles. That was certainly the impression I got when I browsed through my brother’s Beano and Dandy annuals every Christmas. OiNK was an explosion of fun by comparison! Even when it came to its final page, the back cover still had so much to give with the brilliant The Hold-Up written by Mark Rodgers and so expertly crafted by Ian Jackson.


“Some shops think OiNK is so clever that they won’t display it with the kids’ stuff!”

Uncle Pigg in reaction to W.H. Smith

To be exposed to Ian’s style at such a young age was an incredible experience for pig pals, I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this. But to have this as my first issue and then his huge poster straight after, well I know it’s a cliché to say it but it blew my little mind. This was the best possible sign off from the first time I had a comic all to myself.

Before we go there’s the little matter of the solution to the puzzle, which was found under the newsagent reservation coupon which took a dig at W.H. Smith who by this time had top-shelved OiNK after a couple of parents had complained about a strip. You can read all about this silliness in the review to #7.

Above this was the Next Issue promo and the main event was going to a certain Ham Dare, Pig of the Future. I’ll show you that promo box before the next review as always but for now that’s it, my trip back to a very special moment in my life is complete. I’d buy the next issue and then place a regular order, staying with the comic all the way through to the final issue.

The next issue will be reviewed on Monday 15th November 2021, however next Monday the 8th there’ll be a special post to mark the actual anniversary of my reading this issue. I hope you’ll join me then to mark the occasion.

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.