Tag Archives: Mark Rodgers

OiNK! #11: ON YER BiKE!

This issue of OiNK contains the conclusion to the first Street-Hogs story, the spoof adventure strip which began right back in #1 (and a prelude in the preview issue) and they’ve taken over. Not only is their strip three pages long inside but we also get this gorgeous wraparound cover poster by their incredible illustrator, J.T. Dogg and the general theme of the issue is biking. There’s even a free motorbike model. Sort of.

Things kick off brilliantly with a parody of a very famous children’s character in Nobby Gets a New Set of Wheels, credited to Ena Blighty, a riff on Enid Blyton who would continue to pop up in comedy takes of other books. Written and drawn by co-editor Patrick Gallagher it looks like a traditional children’s picture-panel comic story and his art style suits it perfectly. The real Noddy may be pushing on a bit now but I doubt he’s grown up quite like this version.

Motorbikes are all over the first few pages. Uncle Pigg runs over Mark Lighthouse who was out in the middle of the street with placards campaigning for road safetly, after which our esteemed editor reminds the viewers to never “stand in the middle of the road waving your arms about!”.  Zootown, the Golden Trough Awards, even the Plops and a new superhero Hedgehog Boy (his first and last appearance because hedgehogs, roads and motorbikes do not mix) all hit the mark with the theme and the funny bone.

One of the regulars getting in on the action is someone I haven’t introduced yet. Created by David Haldane he was a big hit with readers. In fact he was a big hit with everything, from skyscrapers to airships to whole armies. Basically, take the concept of Godzilla but change him into a friendly but ginormous hippopotamus and you have Hugo the Hungry Hippo.

No relation to the creatures in Milton Bradley/Hasbro’s tabletop game, Hugo was a complete pacifist and would only accidentally terrorise humans along the way. While the strip was basically the same set up every issue he was a fan favourite, going on to appear in 33 editions of OiNK altogether. It’s funny how our memories work sometimes, isn’t it? I was sure I remembered reading Hugo right to the end of the run but he actually disappeared not long into the comic’s second year, only reappearing randomly a few more times after that.

The main event is up next, the three-page finale to The Street-Hogs which takes over the middle of the comic. It might be initially disappointing to see this two-colour page below. It is beautifully grey-scaled though, something OiNK could do on its glossy paper that other IPC comics couldn’t on their newsprint. But anyway, this is only page one and the others are presented with the usual full-colour spread which brings the tale to a suitably crazy end.

This episode really does pack it all in. There’s even a cliffhanger for turning over the page. Between the over-the-top sound effects right out of the silly 60s Batman, to the clichéd evil lair being an underground apple sauce factory, to the final battle coming down to a faulty wig. There’s a piece of comedic genius in every panel thanks to the incredible writing talents of Mark Rodgers and the way J.T. Dogg brings it all to the page.

That next adventure alluded to in the final panel, Day of the Triffics isn’t coming as soon as readers may have hoped, we won’t see it until around this time next year. It’ll be worth the wait though and in the meantime from #15 there’ll be a brand new adventure from another much-loved porky personality, Ham Dare: Pig of the Future for all those Dogg fans!


Attach handlebar/light attachment (N) to discombobulator attachment (O) at attachment attachment point (M) attach the attachment with anything you like, as long as it doesn’t smell.

Uncle Pigg’s Road-Hogg!

From Dogg’s Hogs to the Road-Hogg, it can’t have escaped fans’ attentions that two of the superb bikes with all of their exaggerated abilities were destroyed in the strip above. Unceremoniously dragged off at the end, later in the issue came the chance for readers to build one of their own. Advertised on the cover as “a free cut-out motorbike”, in typical OiNK fashion even this had a punchline as you’ll see if you take a look at the page below. All you need to do is follow the instructions.

The person responsible for this fiendish extra was Daz, aka Dave Skillen who had already contributed some great spoof children’s stories in these early issues, such as The Wonderful Adventure of Billy Batt and his Magic Hat which I featured in #1‘s review. Brilliantly, just last year a pig pal (probably in the grip of lockdown craziness) decided to try and actually build it! Here’s what Sue M. Hall said about attempting this seemingly impossible task:

“I have spent recent weeks making the cardboard cut out motorbike, ‘Uncle Pigg’s Road Hogg’. Like Mount Everest, because it’s there. However, it was drawn with parts that did not actually fit together. You had to use your imagination, and make additional parts. I challenged myself to use as many of the parts in the drawing as I could. I also added a V- twin engine where the panels labelled Oink! were. I had to shrink the Oink lettering so as not to obscure the engine, or the pattern on the fuel tank.”

Sue shared this on the Oink! Comic Facebook group and has kindly given me permission to show it to you all here. I think you’ll agree this is a fantastic piece of model building, especially given the fact it was never actually meant to be built!

Also in this issue you’ll find Scruff of the Track which was drawn by the late Andy Roper. You can check it out in all its glory on the obituary post for Andy posted earlier this year. Both The Sekret Diary ov Hadrian Vile and Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins have strong anti-bullying messages delivered with plenty of laughs, Burp’s attempts to befriend us humans once again go awry after his window cleaning (via his gigantic tongue) doesn’t account for one small detail, then Billy’s Brain partakes in some Highland Games for gentle mocking.

None of these four highlights may involve the subject but it was never a hard and fast rule, more of a suggestion. I’m sure behind the scenes there would’ve been back and forth between the editors and the contributors to make sure enough of the contents matched the overall theme, but even this could vary from issue to issue so we never knew what to expect.

Two weeks ago we were treated to not only one of the best Mr. Big Nose instalments from Jeremy Banx, but also Mrs Warsaw-Pact who was sick and tired of her son making a fuss when it was time for school, so she had him put down and stuffed. Really. Well, I’m very happy to say another unique one-off can be found here, this time called Ian Nasalcavity (where does he get these names?) Visits his Grandparents. The title alone leads us to believe we’re in for another surreal treat and I was certainly not disappointed.

From stuffing a child so he’d behave in school to decapitating someone from tying a tie and leaving his body to wander aimlessly in the streets, I think it’s safe to say none of our other humour comics were producing anything remotely similar to these. What I love the most is his family’s complete lack of worry at what they’ve done; they just either stick his head back on or push him out the door, shirking all responsibility, forever leaving poor Ian to live his life without a head rather than own up.

The Hallowe’en issue of OiNK (which will be reviewed in four weeks from the time of writing) will contain more of these Banx gems so watch our for them. While I can only show a few selected highlights I think it’s a safe bet at least one of them will be included.

I often wondered what on Earth passersby would’ve thought if they saw the OiNK guys out taking photos

We’ve made our way to the end of another issue and on page 31 is the first full-page GBH Catalogue to feature in the comic. The dodgy mail order company had a hand in every pie and future issues would see them promote everything from book clubs to holidays. All contained products which were atrociously poor quality and sold for vastly over inflated prices. This BMX catalogue is certainly no exception.

I often wondered what on earth passersby would’ve thought if they saw the OiNK guys out taking the pictures for their photo stories, but what about this one? The poor fella on the bike is Patrick’s younger brother, Mike Gallagher. Patrick kindly sent me another photo of Mike to try to make up for the one above. He said it was of him at home, but actually Mike is on stage in a production of The Playboy of the Western World at The Wilmslow Green Room in Cheshire. I wonder if the GBH Catalogue is on his resume?

So that’s us, another issue of OiNK comes to a close and gets placed back onto the shelf. The next issue is the Movies Special and you’ll find the review right here on OiNK Blog on Monday 4th October 2021. But to finish off here’s one final little strip from this issue with a name that’s a play on words on my favourite novel of all time and some of my own very favourite movies and television shows. Until next time, enjoy Ian Jackson‘s War of the Worms.

OiNK! #10: A (SCHOOL) CLASS ACT

This colourful, busy cover by Mike Roberts is just superb and takes me right back to the 1990s. The 90s? Yes, OiNK may have been my first comic but Mike also had a hand in my first magazine, Future‘s Commodore Format, published between 1990 and 1996. Every month he drew the adventures of Roger Frames which sat between the mini-reviews of the ‘Budjit Games’. Mike’s work can be found in four issues of OiNK and the first 31 issues of CF, the latter he returned to for issue sixty-one, the very final edition and drew its cover.

Mike’s cover perfectly sums up issue ten of OiNK; it’s chock full of great content, jam-packed with random humorous moments, there’s plenty of chaos and anarchy, and loads of genuine laugh-out-loud moments. It’s been very difficult to whittle its 32 pages down to a few highlights and I’ve had to leave out some real gems. There were just too many.

To prove my point here’s a quick glimpse of some of that content, beginning with the one character you just knew would relish the theme. This issue’s Sekret Diary ov Hadrian Vile – Aged 7 5/8 (yearƨ) sees him trying a variety of excuses to get out of returning to school, only for his mum to admit it doesn’t start until the next day, she just wanted to see what tricks he was going to try. Jelly-Belly Johnson is a one-off photo story featuring Tony Husband‘s son Paul winning a jelly eating contest, the Skiver’s Survival Kit has everything needed to get out of various lessons and in Tom Thug we meet Wayne Brayne for the first time.

Lew has mentioned in the comments to this post that in the original script Wayne asked Tom, “Are you having a fit?” and Mark Rodgers changed it to the line above, because obviously there’s nothing funny about having a fit. Thanks for the info, Lew! Wayne would pop up now and again in Tom’s strips to outwit the thug, not that this was particularly difficult, of course. He’d also appear now and again in Buster after the merge.

After I discovered OiNK I can remember often taking each new issue into school for my friends to read, in a blatant attempt to get them to start buying it themselves instead of what I called their “boring comics”. Ha! I can imagine this particular issue going down particularly well in classrooms across the country.

We haven’t had a comical shark in a few issues but thankfully here’s Roger Rental, He’s Completely Mental to fix that, as ever brought to the page by Ian Knox.

One-panel genius. Not Roger, admittedly, I mean the writers and Ian’s perfect style for the character. Throughout his appearances Roger would be written by a variety of talented individuals, notably Graham Exton, Keith Forrest and later Howard Osborne. Graham originally created the character as ‘Barmy Barney’ but, in Graham’s own words, “The Three Wise Men rename him Roger Rental.” While there are no credits here Graham says co-editor Mark Rodgers was always very good at crediting other writers so most likely this was written by Mark himself.

This issue’s Mr. Big Nose turned a work colleague of mine into an OiNK fan.

Jeremy Banx‘s Mr Big Nose steals the show on a regular basis with his uniquely surreal humour and unexpected punchlines. By all means they don’t make an awful lot of sense but that’s what made them so funny to the young (and now the not-so-young) audience, it was just lovable nonsense. This issue’s strip also turned a work colleague of mine into an OiNK fan several years back.

When I was reading the comic for the previous version of ‘The Oink! Blog’ I posted the strip below on Twitter and a woman I worked with, who had previously rolled her eyes at what I was doing in my spare time, admitted she loved it and couldn’t stop laughing when she saw it. Apparently, thinking I was reading something more along the lines of Beano or The Dandy, it had just taken her by complete surprise. Thanks to it and another Banx strip later in this issue I ended up lending her my OiNK Book 1988 and she loved every silly page.

Success.

I’ve another personal story about this little one-off from Ed McHenry too. Before collecting the whole run and putting together the original blog back in 2013 I’d bought a handful of issues online to reminisce with. (Little did I know it’d turn back into an obsession again.) When they’d arrived I took a couple down to the house of my girlfriend at the time where I was staying for the weekend.

I hadn’t had a chance to flick through them yet so I was oblivious to their contents. I started to casually scan over them while she was curled up asleep on the sofa next to me after a tough day at work. I should explain that my laugh can be rather loud, especially when I’m caught unawares and I was already doing my best not to laugh at Graham Norton’s show on TV so as not to wake her up.


“Don’t be frightened by bullies, kids! And don’t try to scare anyone yourself!”

Uncle Pigg (Cowardly Custard)

I was doing a very good job of it too until I read Mike Slammer. Well that was it. I erupted into laughter! She jumped awake!  I tried to apologise but I couldn’t stop laughing. When I eventually calmed down and explained I wasn’t actually laughing at scaring her awake, I showed her the culprit. One strange look and a shake of the head later and the status quo returned, albeit it with my attention solely on the TV, just in case.

Moving on, one of the most enjoyable series in these early issues is Pigg Tales, double-page stories introduced by Uncle Pigg and often with a moral at the end (in a typical OiNK fashion). So far on this read through I’ve shown you The Revenge Squad in the preview issue and Testing Time in #1, both of which were hilariously drawn by Tom Paterson. This issue’s school-based tale is Cowardly Custard, illustrated by OiNK-supremo Ian Jackson.

Contrary to critics of the comic at the time, OiNK contained some strong moral messages within its pages, especially of the anti-smoking variety which you’ll see here in due course. (They even created a complete ‘Smokebusters’ comic to give away to schools.) They just didn’t preach at us. Instead they created Madvertisements or funny strips like the one above which is clearly an anti-bullying story but presented in an original way.

I love the different character designs for each of the kids and how the usual comic strip cliché of the victim turning the tide on the bully is then also turned upon. The victim teaches the bully a lesson, but then the other bullies teach the victim a lesson. The message is clear: Don’t become the bully! All told through giving the reader a good laugh. Job done.

Getting a reference to the Warsaw Pact into a kids’ comic could only have come from the mind of Jeremy Banx.

Cowardly Custard is a main highlight of the issue and it’s nice to actually see our editor in a strip, what with him not getting his usual introduction on page two for the first time. While OiNK would have so much variety and so many different art styles it always felt like Uncle Pigg’s appearances throughout tied everything together. In this issue he also pops up on the Grunts letters page and in an advertisement for those ‘Prime Porky Products’ of OiNK merchandise.

Okay, so earlier I showed you the Mr Big Nose strip that sold the whole premise of OiNK to a work colleague. Over the course of a few issues, starting with this one, Jeremy Banx got some extra space to deliver us some dynamite one-off strips. The first one of which is below and was the one I alluded to above.

Getting a reference to the Warsaw Pact into a kids’ comic, and as the name of a character no less, is so out there it could only have come from the mind of Jeremy. But let’s not brush over the fact this character then proceeds to have her child put down! Then stuffed! Innocently slipped into the issue it’s an example of something we just found silly fun as children, then as adults are so surprised by (in the best possible way, of course). Brilliance.

Finally, the issue also contains the penultimate part of the epic Street-Hogs story which started right back in the preview issue (and you can check out a full chapter in #1’s review), ending with yet another cliffhanger they’ll get out of in the most improbable way imaginable in a fortnight’s time. The team are also the focus of the ‘Next Issue’ promotion which you’ll see a few days before the next review.

In two weeks it’s the conclusion of The Street-Hogs’ first adventure, with a general biking and motoring theme to the rest of the issue. But it wouldn’t be long before the next spoof adventure series to be masterfully drawn by J.T. Dogg would appear, and it was the first my younger self clapped eyes on. So watch out for the introduction of Ham Dare: Pig of the Future in a few short months.

That aforementioned next issue will be here for you to peruse on Monday 20th September.

OiNK! #9: SWEET REVENGE

There was always an extra bit of excitement that came with an Ian Jackson OiNK cover; it made us feel like we were in for an extra special issue. The oddly-themed Revenge Issue kicks off with this brilliant piece which follows on from last month’s fiasco in the OiNK offices. The Next Issue promo saw Mary Lighthouse in fear of retaliation from editor Uncle Pigg and it would appear she was right to be scared.

A bizarre cover such as this needs a story behind it and on page two we discover it was all a dream after Mary fell asleep watching an old western movie. But unbeknownst to her there’s a new ‘Splat-O-Pult’ with a bucket full of swill awaiting her in her garden. At this point I’m going to flick forward to the middle pages of the comic where the aftermath of this becomes apparent with the Mad Murder Maze!

The strips are as ever drawn by Ian with the maze itself brought to colourful life by Ralph Shephard, known to pig pals for his spoof strips of children’s cartoons and of course the Make-Your-Own-Adventure from issue five. Following on from that is this further piece of interactive fun for the young readers as they try to find a safe way across a monstrous maze for the catty critic. But why would we want to help her? As usual there’s a twist in the tale.

I hope you found your way across before skipping to the conclusion! Unlike the Barry the Butcher strip this one is actually doable. Every issue the back and forth between these two characters always drew me in, like I was part of Uncle Pigg’s club and even today as an adult it still feels like I’m getting access to some secret behind-the-scenes shenanigans of creating an anarchic comic. So a really fun main event.

Originally created by Graham Exton and always drawn by Mike Green, Weedy Willy was an easy strip to adapt to the subject. His regular plans to woo dishy Mandy would always fail, often resulting in Mandy being on the receiving end of the failure, so she’d end up chasing him (not in the way Willy intended) with revenge in our eyes. However, this time it’s his own mother who ends up with that fearsome look, after Willy’s dad tries to encourage him to seek revenge on the constant stream of bullies.

We already knew Willy couldn’t formulate any kind of successful plan, so I love how all of his dad’s resources are just shoved into a bag and thrown out of the window to achieve the desired effect! Willy would be a regular character all the way through the comic and into the pages of Buster for a short period of time, but his days of full page strips in OiNK would soon be up, as you’ll see soon in the read through.

One of my favourite things about OiNK were the spoof Madvertisements and I’ve shown you some of these already. By the time I purchased my first issue back in 1986 the majority were for the comic’s in-house brand G.B.H. and this is the issue in which they made their first appearance. Later they’d have full colour pages to hawk their wares, sometimes even multipage catalogues, but here they get a little area at the bottom of one page with four tiny classifieds, the best of which is below.

I can still remember the day I asked my brother what the initials stood for and given the fact it was clearly a company run by mobsters it suited the premise perfectly. Interesting little part of the Grunts letters page there too, which I previously missed during the read through I did several years back on the previous site. That’s OiNK cartoonist Davy Francis pointing out a newspaper clipping to the team. Well, he would notice this kind of story wouldn’t he, what with his lead strip being Cowpat County!

Also this issue we see the saga of Tom Thug and his shoelaces come to its conclusion. If you take a gander at the very top of this review you’ll see Uncle Pigg threatening Tom with a transfer to Whizzer and Chips comic! In complete panic Tom somehow manages to tie his bovver boots, but we later see him in the bath, boots still on his feet because he doesn’t know how to untie them.

Clearly just over two years later the transfer to Buster wasn’t as scary for the dimwitted boy.


“He battled his way past the castle guards – the Noxious Newts of Noona and the Preying Potties of Poohbah!”

Nice-Man and the Lords of the Universe (Mark Rodgers)

Not every strip in every issue would stick to the subject at hand, which would give a nice variety to the contents and one of those giving us a break from all of the revenge, monsters, threats and mobsters was David Haldane‘s Rubbish Man. The premise here is a simple one and in fact the story itself only takes half of the space afforded to it. The end gag panel takes up half the page and you can see why. I’ll admit the way his final speech balloon reads in my head has me in giggles every time I read it.

Even at this early stage in the comic’s lifetime Haldane has all but abandoned Jimmy Bung (the secret identity of Rubbish Man) but that’s perfectly fine by me. All we want is his madcap, smelly adventures, we don’t need to see him transform anymore. As much as I enjoyed him as a kid, I do think Rubbish Man is one of the strips I think is even funnier to me now as an adult.

At the time of writing this review, a shiny new sequel series to the original Masters of the Universe cartoon has just been released, alongside what seems to be innumerable documentaries on the original toy craze. I don’t think it can be overestimated just how massive this toy line was in the early 80s. Personally, I can remember being told by my parents (years later for obvious reasons) how they had to travel to Dublin to secure a Castle Greyskull toy for Christmas!

It’s a glorious thing indeed. Almost as glorious was my reenactment with my Mattel toys.

This means of course that an OiNK parody was inevitable and in this issue Ralph Shepherd (I told you he would be known for these) took Mark Rodgers‘ brilliant take on He-Man and Skeletor and turned out this beautiful spread. As well as the main characters themselves the seemingly endless array of ridiculous sounding villain toys and the equally endless war itself were also taken to task.

The only possible negative thing I could say about this is that the first page is in black and white. This isn’t usually an issue for a comic whose fortnightly ratio would be eight full colour pages, eight one-colour pages and 16 in black and white. But when you see the second page you can’t help but wish the first was the same. This isn’t a case of it being printed that way, you can tell by Ralph’s crosshatch shading the first page was created in black and white.

Still, it’s a glorious thing indeed. Almost as glorious was my reenactment of this with my Mattel toys. It was reprinted in the third Holiday Special and by that time I’d moved on from He-Man but the toys were still in the bottom of a cupboard somewhere. Digging them out and utilising some Visionaries and The Real Ghostbusters toys, as well as an actual banana, I played out this classic OiNK spoof. Funny the things that stay with us, locked deep in our memories.

We’re almost at the end of another OiNK real time review but we’ve got Mary Lighthouse‘s escape from the monsters to clear up. It would seem she’s done so unscathed, at least until page 31 anyway. Making it back to her Dun Complainin’ home (nice touch) her choice of supper and bedtime reading comes back to haunt her in her nightmares, thanks to a particularly bold back page from Jon Langford making his OiNK debut.

A friend of Marc Riley’s, Jon was a founding member of The Mekons, who as a group would also appear in a photo story or two in OiNK! But that’s only one small part of his incredible creative output which includes various other bands, visual art and design, music production, theatre work and political activism. His illustrations would appear in OiNK four times over the course of the fortnightly issues so watch out for more from him over the next couple of years.

Strong central scripts, beautiful one-off special contributions and far too many little strips and gags to talk about here. It would still be a few months before I would discover OiNK just before turning ten years of age and it’s almost criminal to know a quality, laugh-a-minute read like this was sitting right there, just down the road from my house in the newsagent and I wasn’t aware. Thank goodness I never grew up in the intervening years and was able to track them down!

The next of these is the Back to School Special and it’ll be reviewed on Monday 6th September 2021. If I’d known about it at the time it definitely would’ve taken the sting out of returning to school at that age, as you’ll see in two weeks.