Tag Archives: Marc Riley

OiNK! #23: ELECTRiFYiNG COMEDY

So what exactly makes up an “all-electric” comic? Context is key here. This was the 1980s and electronic entertainment of every description was taking a hold in our daily lives. Things we take for granted today were in their infancy and it was an exciting time, especially for kids. I can clearly remember being very young indeed, possibly five or six years-of-age when our family bought our first VHS recorder and an engineer had to come out to instruct us in how to use it. I was fascinated. I ended up being the only one who could operate it after he left!

Video recorders were brand new and completely changed how (and the amount of) television and films we watched, with video shops popping up for the first time. Computer games were fast becoming the biggest form of entertainment for children, something which just hadn’t been predicted. Interactive television in the shape of Teletext and Oracle was revolutionising how we kept ourselves up-to-date on the latest news. 3D movies, portable music, digital watches… everything was brand new. All perfect material for an OiNK subject, and that’s before we’ve even touched upon 80s movies and TV!

So first up here’s a particular fan favourite, Lew Stringer‘s Pete and his Pimple. First appearing in a tiny strip underneath a Tom Thug story in #6, he became a regular character from #15 onwards and Pete and his giant exploding spot were a highlight of every issue he appeared in. Tom and Pete were always (and remain) my very favourite OiNK characters and I’m not alone. Later in the comic’s run during its weekly and monthly phases, Lew asked readers to send in suggestions for cures for Pete’s problem and the pig pals really responded!

However, when OiNK folded into Buster towards the end of 1988 Pete’s strip had to be sanitised somewhat. Panels full of pus, covering everything and everyone, just weren’t something you could show in that comic. After six months the strip disappeared from its pages but while OiNK was being published Pete was a superstar. So much so a Sylvester Stallone-alike was going to play him in a new TV series and even his pimple was going to be played by an actor. This strip contains everything we came to love about a Pete story and I like the little details such as the “advanced technical stuff” which of course now looks lovely and retro, the panel that dramatically reveals Fatty Beltbuckle and the skin and pus holding the strip’s name together.

The first caption almost saw my comic being confiscated by our Latin teacher when my friend, who was reading it, burst!

Moving on and the next strip is one I clearly remember from the time because I had to ask my dad what a TV Licence was. There were a few of these strips in OiNK’s lifetime which acted as a kind of Public Service Announcement (there’s a second one further below), albeit in the comic’s usual style. There would be anti-smoking messages and another one about looking after our teeth which terrified me as a kid (you’ll see it in a later issue’s review). With the way the world of entertainment is evolving these days I can’t see the TV Licence being a thing in the next ten years or so (but the BBC will survive) so this Tony Husband strip will be very much of its day. Another piece of lovely 80s goodness.

Now, there are certain 80s movies which are simply deemed classics.  They don’t necessarily have to be Oscar contenders, I’m talking about the fun films we grew up with and left an indelible impression on us. I think 80s films have a certain feel to them that just screams that decade and one particular film is the next to get the OiNK treatment. I only saw it recently for the first time and, while it didn’t enthral me in the way it would’ve at the time, it still had a lovely mix of 80s stars and big chunky keyboards when a computer game nearly results in thermonuclear war, as only an 80s film could.

I am of course talking about WarGames starring Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy, which writer Tony Husband has decided to take aim at in a strip drawn by Chas Sinclair. Whereas in the film the kids almost accidentally start a war, here they accidentally stop one and this doesn’t go down well with the world’s leaders who want nothing more than to obliterate all life on the planet so they can feel superior. The message in this strip is clear and it’s hilariously presented, right down to that 80s movie cliché of just how easy it apparently was to hack any computer in the world.

“We’ll find out who did this terrible thing”, says the American, referring to the children who have actually stopped the world’s populace from being annihilated. I laughed at how he and his enemy are on the phone, angry at having been stopped from destroying each other. Some things in the world have not changed and yes, this is a highly exaggerated spoof, but as far as the tensions of the Cold War in the 80s I think it summarises that time perfectly.

A couple of issues ago the back page of the Valentine’s OiNK had another of those superb full-colour Ian Jackson contributions, one of which (back in #4) remains to this day as my very favourite page out of all of OiNK’s issues. I remarked in #21 how it would’ve been wonderful to see every issue of the comic end with one of these, a serial of completely unconnected strips, all hilariously illustrated by Ian. Imagine curious kids picking up an issue from the shelves and turning the comic over to see these. How many would’ve been instantly won over? This issue’s isn’t on the back cover, instead it’s tucked away inside but it’s still just as funny.

It almost feels a shame to have it inside the comic but when you see what’s on the back page you’ll understand. So let’s have a quick look at some of the other highlights of the issue. There’s a photo story made up of a series of mini-strips running throughout the issue which combines the best (worst?) of American and British television, in the King Solomon’s Swines serial Sir Herbert Quarterbrain‘s attempt at pleasing the enemy backfires and Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins makes a stand against some new friends. Also, Burp gets to enjoy all those fantastic 80s 3D feature films in the comfort of his own home and The Spectacles of Doom makes a funny reference to a song which at the time was actually banned.

OiNK finished its regular run in 1988 but a couple of years later I was in my second year of grammar school and a new kid had joined our class. Because he hadn’t been taught Latin in the first year of where he came from he had to sit out those lessons, and officially was meant to use the 35 minutes in that classroom to study. On one occasion however, I happened to have the OiNK! Summer Collection with me, the final special released after the comic had finished it was made up almost entirely of reprint material. The next page from this issue was one of those reprints.

How Radio Sound Effects Are Produced was written by co-editor Patrick Gallagher and Marc Riley who put it together from plundering an old book of Victorian illustrations and creating brilliant captions to completely change their meaning. The first caption almost saw my comic being confiscated by our Latin teacher when my friend, who was sat right behind me, burst! A huge “HA!” erupted uncontrollably from him before he was able to stop himself. He quickly hid the comic inside a text book and said he’d seen something outside as the teacher glared him down! Have a read for yourself and see if you can spot the moment which produced this outburst.

Of course, the official meaning of the word you’ve probably spotted is “a tube made of fur or other warm material into which the hands are placed for warmth”, which you can clearly see in the illustration. However, the dictionary also lists the word as ‘vulgar slang’ and, being an immature 12-year-old boy at the time (as we all were) it took him rather by surprise, to say the least. I can remember being physically sore trying to hold my breath to stop myself from laughing after this happened! Just another fantastic OiNK memory.

Before we see that back page I mentioned it’s time for a Public Service Announcement from new OiNK writer Howard Osborne. Howard would contribute to 19 editions of the comic altogether, often writing a few strips per issue. Here he’s partnered with Weedy Willy artist Mike Green to teach the kids about looking after their teeth and it includes a comical shark, so I was always going to include it.

I crease up every time I see that shark sitting on top of the shallow waters with its cheeky grin and crazy eyes. I’ll admit I was a somewhat lazy kid when it came to brushing my teeth and generally looking after myself, but that would all change with a later strip in OiNK which we’ll get to eventually (it’s the one that scared me that I mentioned above). But for now, I do love the moral at the end of this particular strip, with the usual wording flipped on its head.

So it’s Lew Stringer who brings the issue to a close with a full-colour strip on the back page. But it’s not just any strip, it’s all told in rhyme, something Lew seemed to really enjoy as he’d do it quite a few times during OiNK’s lifespan. This particular strip focusses on one of the truly great pieces of 80s technology, the personal stereo (or ‘Walkman’ as most of us called it after Sony’s name became ubiquitous with the devices). So with music playing a central role here the rhyming captions are the perfect way to tell the story.

According to Lew the rhyme at the bottom was an addition co-editor Mark Rodgers asked for (and wrote). The idea behind the strip was to shock children into paying attention when they crossed the road, but he believes Mark may have thought it could be misconstrued as making fun of road deaths, hence the Green Hog Code being added. It’s a great addition and after the ending I think it’s funny to have a pig come in with their stern look and tell us off. The strip itself is brilliant and this wraps it up as if the whole page was spoofing those Green Cross Code videos and leaflets we saw so much of as kids.

It also wraps up the issue. It goes without saying this is another top edition of OiNK. The comic really could do no wrong at this stage and this will continue with #23, the Time Travel Special. Complete with an 80s Doctor Who themed cover and multipage Uncle Pigg strip it’s one of the very best! Its review will be right here on the blog from Monday 7th March 2022.

OiNK! #21: LOVE-LY COMEDY

Let me think back to Valentine’s Day 1987.  Nope, nothing too embarrassing to think of, just posting a card through a girl’s door then running away, then worrying she wouldn’t see it, running back and ringing the doorbell before running away again, this time getting noticed by said girl as I made my escape. The next day in school was dreaded. At least I had the Valentine’s themed issue of OiNK to cheer me up and love was most certainly in the air, beginning with this Tony Husband cover depicting Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins and his beloved Mandy.

The cover was drawn by Tony and airbrushed by John Moorhouse, an artist on The Express at the time who had also worked on some of Tony’s Playboy cartoons.  Things are nice and rosy here on the cover for the couple but inside Mandy’s family were emigrating and taking her with them, leaving Horace alone in the hospital recovering after a recent BMX jousting accident. (It’s a long story!)  Thankfully things are happier for other characters in this issue and we begin with an introduction to the power of love for the young target audience, featuring an alien attack. Naturally.

The Lesson of Love was written by Mark Rodgers who plays Bloonik in the strip and the young lady of the happy couple is Helen Jones, Mark’s partner in real life and future wife. Her character’s boyfriend is actually played by her brother Andy Jones and as for the other alien, well that would be none other than OiNK cartoonist extraordinaire Ian Jackson. This was the closest I got to seeing what he looks like until just last year! The strip is genuinely funny of course, but what I always found particularly hilarious in the photo stories was the imagination on show.

Ingenious and properly laugh-out-loud funny, imagine the fun they had putting it together

They spent next to no money on these and it always showed, with cheap sets, drawn-on special effects and in the case of this story a photograph of a toy spacecraft glued on. This was always the point, to spoof the cheap photo stories found in women’s magazines. The alien faces are paint or marker pen, with big rubber ears and some form of cut-out eye shapes, possibly egg cartons. Add some circles to their clothes and we have ourselves some silly aliens and their spacecraft interior set is the boiler in Mark’s house. Ingenious and properly laugh-out-loud funny, so I can only imagine the amount of fun they all had putting it together.

What kind of Valentine’s issue would it be without a tale of forbidden passion? Something possibly inspired by Romeo and Juliet. A love-conquers-all story. A happy-ever-after for two star-crossed lovers who just so happen to be a liver and a spleen. You know, real classic stuff. Obviously I could only be talking about a Burp strip and in this case Jeremy Banx outdoes himself with the surreal tale of two of the smelly alien’s internal organs and their undying feelings for one another.

There’s a lot to love here. I particularly like the throwaway lines such as Burp not even realising they knew each other, giving the impression of his body being full of sentient organs, each with their own set of friends and neighbours. I also burst out laughing with the mention of “dirty stop-outs”, a phrase my young, innocent self wouldn’t know the meaning of for quite a few years. A perfect example of how OiNK worked on many levels.

Very funny stuff indeed but what else have we come to expect from Jeremy? This wouldn’t be the last time we’d see these two either. Next up is another way in which OiNK parodied the romantic stories found in stereotypical supermarket weeklies of the day. In years past on holiday with my other half at the time she’d bring a random selection of said magazines for when we were relaxing by the pool. I’d have a glance at them on occasion and always thought they were truly terrible.


“I thought it was indigestion, but now I realise that I am in love with you.”

Lord Wigfall

With their unbelievable romantic text stories, horrific “true” stories sold for a quick profit and umpteen celebrity ‘news’ (term used loosely) articles, I always thought how shallow and silly they were as I relaxed in the sun with my Marvel Secret Wars and Transformers. She thought they were silly too, but there was clearly a market for them. The far-fetched love stories would be aimed at the singletons in the readership with dreams of meeting the perfect partner (think Channel Five afternoon TV movies) and Patrick Gallagher decided he’d write his own version.

I recognise one or two of the facial features used in those photofit-like images. They also perfectly sum up those prose stories; an amalgamation of every reader’s ideal romance, mish-mashed into one truly unbelievable story. Think of how Bridget Jones fantasised about meeting the perfect man, how unrealistic her expectations of the world were because she read/watched stories like those. OiNK just took the ingredients and ran with them, taking it to the extreme.

As a child I remember sitting with my siblings and watching Charlie Brown and the Peanuts. It really wasn’t for me. Charlie himself grated on me. This was just my personal opinion of course, we’re all different and many adored him on the telly and in his original comic strip form. I did love Snoopy though and have heard wonderful things about his new Apple TV+ shows. However, this Peabrains strip below (also by Patrick) was much more entertaining to me as a kid than the original source material.

In fact, I think that last panel perfectly summed up how I felt about the cartoons back then, when I enjoyed everything about the Charlie Brown show except Charlie Brown! Of course, it wouldn’t be an OiNK spoof of a popular franchise without a dig at the merchandise. I remember the Disney watches, the Simpsons clock radios and the overpriced Thomas greetings cards of my own youth, all perfectly summed up here. Although I don’t think mine were quite so overpriced (it just felt like it to my parents).

There are a couple of small highlights that stood out this issue I wanted to share. The first is on the Grunts letters page where the theme includes some fan mail for Mary Lighthouse (critic). However, one of these in particular caught my eye. Now I’m sure it’s just coincidence, after all the former TV presenter and tabloid journalist would’ve been 21 at the time, but it does sound like the kind of thing someone who complains about name changes in Beano would say, does it not? Then there’s the quiz, Are You A Fool For Love? and its rather to-the-point multiple choice options!

Turning over a page the comic suddenly breaks from its loved up contents to hit us with an urgent Butcher Watch update from Jeremy Banx. This semi-regular series of news bulletins warned readers about the country’s nastiest meat vendors and began in #8 while Uncle Pigg was on holiday, then in #14 one of three featured faces belonged to a creation of Jeremy’s called Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith.

That was his first appearance but he immediately struck a chord with readers, who sent in pictures of him and updated fellow pig pals on where he’d been spotted. As OiNK continued he’d feature more and more; the Butcher Watch Updates would become more elaborate, evolving into full comic strips and he’d have the starring role, and he’d even go on to star in two serials in the weekly comic and pop up on an iconic cover. Here marks the first occasion Jeremy singled him out.

Remembering back to my original time with OiNK, it felt like Jimmy was always there, lurking about. We’d never know when he’d make a sudden appearance. Reading through OiNK now, it’s interesting to see he was just another random butcher before the readers took to him, their feedback bringing him to the fore. Jeremy then made him a semi-regular and that craggy face would return to haunt us again and again in some genuinely creepy moments, some that really surprised me!

Back in #6 the excellent Watery Down was a big, two-page build up to one great joke. I’m very happy to say Tony Husband has written a strip for this issue which takes over two pages with a similar idea. This time the subject of the parody is Emily Brontë‘s classic 1847 novel Wuthering Heights. How often can you get to mention that in a review of a children’s comic? Even if you have only a passing bit of knowledge about the book or the movies, you’ll recognise the scene which inspired Tony here. If you don’t know a thing about Catherine and Heathcliff don’t worry, it’s still a wonderfully random piece of silliness.

The sheer daftness of this made it an instant fan favourite, with many OiNK readers remembering it decades later, either from this issue or when it was reprinted in the Winter Special a few years later. Chas Sinclair brings a perfect spoof style to the first page and one of Wuthering Heights’ famous scenes. We’re led to believe it’s going to continue along this path to the final scene, so when it ends with something completely unrelated and out of left field like this, it’s just perfect, brilliant nonsense.

We’ve reached the back page of another issue and I’m very happy to see another full-page, wordless Ian Jackson strip just like we had in #14. Put these side-by-side with my favourite page from all of OiNK’s run in #4, and just imagine if every issue had finished with a full colour masterpiece from Ian such as these! This particular entry in the semi-regular series, Stupid Cupids is actually made up of two individual three-panel strips, each read vertically down the page and written by Mark Rodgers and Tony Husband. As always, take your time with Ian’s artwork and savour each panel as you make your way along, each one is a complete joy.

That’s almost it for this romantic issue of our piggy pink publication but the magic continues in two weeks, quite literally. The twenty-second edition is the Magic and Fantasy Special and contains the first appearance of a certain bespectacled hero in a new mini-series. A real favourite of mine and many others, it’s not to be missed! You can check it out from Monday 21st February 2022.

But before you go I just have to let all you lovely blog readers know how I really feel, to thank you for your continued support. Take it away, Marc Riley‘s Doctor Mooney, He’s Completely Looney.

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.