Tag Archives: Mike Green

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! #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! #15: NEW PiGLETS

It appears I jumped on to the OiNK train at the right moment back in 1986. Last time I shared the memories of my first issue and just one week later came a kind of soft relaunch as the theme. OiNK had established itself, publishers IPC Magazines were happy, the readers were happy and it was proving to be a success, so the team decided to celebrate by bringing in a whole bunch of brand new regular characters.

Let’s not forget the fantastic free gift, the first of three Ian Jackson posters which combined into one giant calendar for 1987 featuring The 8th Wonder of the World: Mount Rushboar. I can remember pouring over all the little details in the swarm of people running across Harry the Head and Burp the Smelly Alien carved into the rock face and even the little bits of rubbish left behind on this apparently reverential site. How typical of us humans and a funny swipe at British tourists in particular.

On page two we find out how this glossy comic could afford such extravagances, with staff reduced to working naked, cartoonists and accountants alike shivering in the cold as Uncle Pigg looks on, wearing his Hawaiian shirt to boot. Christmas was coming early for him with all the money OiNK was raking in, and it was coming early for us too because the calendar poster freebies would continue up to the first festive issue.

Mary Lighthouse is back with her strip on page three. Normally this would be a way of introducing the subject matter of the issue but here it’s quite clear it has a bigger job to do. It’s introducing new readers to the character and the overall cheekiness and irreverence of the comic. Don’t get me wrong, Mark Rodgers and Ian Jackson still deliver the goods for the regulars too, it’s genuinely funny but it also reinforces the way the comic is reintroducing itself now that its readership is growing.

Coming on board just before this issue is probably the reason why I always assumed certain characters were in OiNK right from the beginning, when in reality this was their first appearance. Two such examples are Davy FrancisGreedy Gorb (He’d Eat Anything) and Jeremy Banx‘s wonderfully surreal and often very rude Hector Vector and his Talking T-shirt. The latter actually gets a proper origin story when a magical genie appears from Keith Disease‘s (I never remembered him having an actual name!) packet of crisps, but Keith is rude to him because his snack is gone. Poor Hector happens to be passing and Keith is forever confined to be a “tasteless print” on his t-shirt.

I remember his strip being one of my favourites so expect to see them soon. The only reason I’m not including them here is because there’s just too much I could include that I had to leave some real classics out. But I was always going to show you the beginning of OiNK’s second spoof epic. Hot on the trotters of The Street-Hogs comes Ham Dare: Pig of the Future, also stunningly illustrated by J.T. Dogg and this time the multi-part serial is written by Lew Stringer. IPC’s very own Eagle and 2000AD hero Dan Dare was the subject of OiNK’s style of parody, complete with sidekick Pigby and arch nemesis The Weakun‘!

This was my first exposure to J.T.’s artwork and it looked like nothing I’d ever seen before. Possibly because of this, as much as I love The Street-Hogs now, Ham Dare remains my favourite of all the OiNK serials. Lew’s script is fast-paced and packed full of gags, both for fans of the original space adventurer or those like me who learned of him through this. I especially love how Sir Hogbert has to show our heroes such a basic drawing to describe Earth being pulled out of orbit. Ham Dare may not be the sharpest pork scratching in the packet but he looked dashing as the hero and that’s what was important to him (and we loved him for it).

Elsewhere this issue Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins‘ own serial continues and a lot of the humour comes from the narrative by Tony Husband. Fan favourite Pete and his Pimple makes his debut after being the footer gag to a Tom Thug strip in #6. Hyperactive Harriet is the fastest girl in the world and a not-so-subtle take on The Beano‘s Billy Whizz. Then Billy Buzz gets the same ‘New Character’ treatment as the rest, but his saccharine personality annoys Uncle Pigg so much he swats him by the end of the strip and that’s the last we’d ever see of him!

Billy might not have made the grade but the next new addition certainly did. She quickly became a childhood favourite, so much so that I was certain she appeared in almost every issue I had as a kid. But surprisingly Psycho Gran was only in 20 editions of OiNK altogether including specials and annuals. Despite this, she became a true OiNK legend.

Created by David Leach (Brain Damage, Toxic Crusaders, Spongebob Squarepants) she was originally submitted as a one-off strip, so when OiNK’s editors introduced her as a new regular character in this issue it was a bit of a surprise for David. This explains why she doesn’t reappear until #21 because he hadn’t made any more! David tells me the guys would send him a list of upcoming issue subjects and he’d submit Psycho Gran strips for whichever ones he had an idea for. He never had a Psycho strip turned down and as a fan I can see why.

This strip might look familiar to anyone who has purchased the new comic series from David in recent years because he reproduced this as a gorgeous, heavily detailed, full colour strip. In fact, between contributions to Aces Weekly and Psycho’s own digital and print comics, David has now produced more work for the little old dear in the years since OiNK than during her time in her debut comic.

There are certain Psycho Gran strips, as well as individual jokes and images that stayed with me long after childhood was a distant memory. Whether she’s randomly throwing people into the ocean, making military preparations to pick her pension up at the Post Office or adorning a Wild West Wanted poster, she could terrify many in her little world but she was adored by pig pals.


“‘Sammy is getting old and worn out! I’ll have to replace him with a new engine!’, said the Controller.

Sammy the Steam Engine

Two new characters are up on the next page together, namely Sally Scowl (Her Temper’s Foul!) and Fatty Farmer (He’s A Whole Lot Calmer). Their titles may have rhymed like so many traditional humour strips of the time but that’s where the similarities end. Both were written by Mark Rodgers (of course) and drawn by Dave Follows and Weedy Willy‘s Mike Green respectively.

Both are enjoyable, even if we do already have a bad tempered youth in the shape of Billy Bang. But unlike Billy, Sally’s temper builds until she uses it to her advantage at just the right moment. She’s a lovable character and after that hilarious first panel I can’t blame her for being in a bad mood all day! She was also that rare occurrence indeed, a black character in one of our childhood comics. So why does Sally disappear after #16, totalling only two appearances? So much for a new regular character! What a shame and a waste of a great idea.

The message was clear, don’t let the bullies get to you.

Fatty Farmer was a larger than life country farmer who’d often come up against bullies and small-minded individuals making fun of his weight. However, he’d remain chilled out and deal with them calmly, often proudly using the very thing they were laughing at to his advantage. The message was clear, don’t let the bullies get to you. He’d go on to be a bit more successful than Sally with 11 strips in total, appearing in every issue for the first few months and then on and off during the rest of the fortnightlies. To have him and Sally on the same page for their first appearances was a great contrast and a great idea.

Back in #3 artist Ralph Shepherd drew OiNK’s brilliant take on The Transformers. As I said at the time, the comic would often take the hand out of things we readers loved and for me there was nothing I loved more than the subject of this next strip. It was so funny to see this as a kid. This was really the first many fans of the show would’ve seen a spoof of it (and it was even several months before the official comic finally launched). Over the course of the two weeks I had to wait for my next OiNK I reread this several times, laughing and loving the fact OiNK had its own version of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends.

Looking at this issue as a whole I can see I was clearly spoiled as a kid with this as only the second comic I ever bought. Whether I realised that at the time is another matter. I got to experience the gorgeous work of J.T. Dogg for the first time, got to meet lots of new characters including many who would become lifelong favourites, the subject of my top book series and TV show was given that unique OiNK makeover and then on top of all that was one of only five Tom Paterson OiNK strips!

What a lovely surprise it was to come across this page when reading the issue for this review. Written by Mark Rodgers it’s already a funny script, but when it’s in the hands of Tom you just know there are going to be many more laughs added before he’s done with it. Mister Cheese would unfortunately be Tom’s final full page story for OiNK. After this his work would only pop up once more in a tiny quarter-page strip in The OiNK Book 1988, which I won’t be reviewing for another 13 months! Just as well this is so jam-packed with Tom’s trademark sight gags then isn’t it? Tom was just too busy to be a regular contributor and that’s such a shame because I believe he and OiNK were the perfect fit, perhaps more so than any other comic.

Before we wrap up with the back page, here’s a little bit of news about the next issue. While this edition may have introduced a wealth of new characters, #16 brings with it a true superstar, a megastar, a “fantastic” new addition to OiNK who I remember waking up to every Saturday morning on No.73. His creator sadly died back in 2010 and it was the news of his passing that brought me back into the sty after decades away. Next issue sees the start of his contributions which really have to be seen to be believed.

I’m definitely looking forward to the next issue! For now, I’m going to finish off with this full colour back cover from Lew Stringer. We got a glimpse on the Grunts page (at the top of this review) of what it was like to work in the OiNK offices. Uncle Pigg may have had all the right words to say to the readers but the reality behind them was somewhat different. Here’s Lew’s inside scoop on the real behind-the-scenes of creating the funniest comic ever produced!

For a much younger me these two issues were a strong start. Such a strong start! How could it possibly get any better? Be here on Monday 29th November 2021 to find out.