Tag Archives: Mike Green

OiNK! #6: ANiMAL CRACKERS

As with any comic review I’m limited to showing you a few select highlights of each issue of OiNK. Rebellion own the rights and I’m always hopeful they’ll publish reprint volumes at some point through their Treasury of British Comics label. Also, I just don’t agree with putting whole comics online, regardless of their age or unavailability to purchase. All of this adds up to a difficult review to write.

That’s because this issue is superb. Every strip hits. Every joke lands. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been enjoying the issues so far but everything just seems to come together here with complete confidence. As such, it’s been less about which strips to choose as highlights and more about selecting which ones to leave out! Thankfully the cover is a necessity and must be included and it’s one of my very favourites. An Ian Jackson classic, the best so far and perfectly encapsulating the anarchic feel of OiNK. We’re off to a great start then.

Ian’s interpretation of each animal is genuinely funny, but put them all together and it’s a cover that commands attention and time spent pouring over all the details. It even gets its own backstory, again drawn by Ian and written by Tony Husband. The theme this fortnight is perfect fodder for the team behind the comic, already used to pork-ifying anything and everything in sight. However, there’s not a pig in sight in the biggest highlight of these 32 pages, Twee Tales present The Wonderful Wildlife of Watery Down.

Co-editor Patrick Gallagher‘s neighbour, Ann Martin brought her gorgeous artwork to a spoof of Richard Adam‘s classic novel Watership Down. The script is one big set up for a good old pun so marrying it with such beautiful illustrations, which wouldn’t look out of place in a children’s book of the time, is a wonderful move. The first page puts the reader at ease with its gentle fields and cute critters before we turn over to the second half.

Ann would only contribute to three issues in total (returning for #30’s Hamadonna and #60’s Pigasus) but the terrible puns would return with a vengeance in the final strip of this very issue, which we’ll get to below. Watery Down was definitely seen as a highlight of the series, evidenced by the fact it was one of only a handful of stories to be reprinted in the final editions of OiNK.

Another one-off I wanted to include is written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by Weedy Willy‘s artist, Mike Green. A Shaggy Bird Story is the sweet tale of an injured animal being taken in and looked after by a young boy, who nurses it back to health before releasing it back into the wild. It all starts off innocently enough with the boy’s “unspeakably miffed” pet cat setting things in motion.

Every time I see that cat sitting on the windowsill in December it makes me laugh! I think this may have been one of the back issues my cousin gave me because I distinctly remember this strip despite the fact I hadn’t discovered OiNK yet. It’s testimony to the comic that its one-off strips are as well remembered as the regular characters and this is one which has stood the test of time and the old grey memory cells.

If you track this issue down on eBay (and you really should) you’ll find Jim Needle‘s Pete’s Pup continuing to terrorise his family with his monstrous appetite, there’s another spoof of a children’s favourite in the shape of Rupert the Pear, the Grunts page admits it had to get creative in the early issues and Uncle Pigg’s Amazing Facts About Animals showed OiNK could be an educational read.

In the early days of the comic our esteemed editor ran a regular competition in which he’d judge readers’ messy bedrooms. It was a case of the messier the better because those chosen to feature would win a piggy prize. This time around pig pal Simon Sarfas showed us how it was done and the result was probably not a million miles away from my own childhood bedroom, although these days it makes me cringe thinking about a mess like this! I’m just showing my age now.

I always thought these were a mainstay, at least in the first year of the comic so it surprised me to find out it only appeared four times, including the original promotion in the preview issue. It did receive criticism from some parental groups who saw it as encouraging children to be even more messy than they already were but we were kids, that was our job.

One look at that dog in the pilot’s seat and how could this not be one of the selected highlights?

At least Simon has his television close by so he can somehow make it across his room without damaging his feet in time for the afternoon film, Laffie. The next instalment in the Golden Trough Awards series is my favourite. Taking the ‘Wonder Dog’ concept of Lassie and really running with it, it puts the canine hero aboard a plane when the captain finds himself stuck in the toilet tens of thousands of feet in the air. So a typical Lassie-type plot then.

Brought to you by the same partnership as the first strip in this issue, Tony Husband has written a hilarious script full of daring dos and funny eyewitnesses, all brought to the page with Ian Jackson‘s unique style. What we end up with is a frantic, madcap yarn that starts off at full speed and doesn’t let up.

One look at that dog in the pilot’s seat and how could this not be one of the selected highlights?

I remember I could spend so long just looking at Jackson’s artwork and roaring with excited laughter as a kid. That feeling hasn’t dissipated as an adult. The feeling of excitement returns later too with a tiny two-panel strip hidden away underneath Tom Thug‘s. If you’re new to OiNK you’ll probably be wondering why this unassuming little section of the page could be anything more than a funny space filler. But for pig pals everywhere this is just the first appearance of a comic icon.

Of course at the time readers couldn’t have known how big a part in the future of OiNK Pete and his Pimple were going to play. Lew Stringer‘s creation would eventually return in #15, becoming one of the main strips in each and every issue, even continuing into the pages of Buster for a period after OiNK came to an end.

Over the course of his OiNK career Pete would be the only character to get his own pull-out comic, he’d be the star of free gifts, a board game, appear in crossovers with Tom or a gigantic robotic pig and eventually Lew ran a weekly competition in which Pete tried out various pimple busting solutions sent in by readers.

Lew would actually end up having to tone down Pete’s strip in order for it to appear in Buster. What was there about the character above that would need toned down? Just you wait and see! We’ll get to the reason behind that when he reappears again later this year.

Every single panel contains at least one pun, with well over a dozen altogether in just the one strip.

You should prepare yourself for this final highlight, especially if you groaned at the conclusion to Watery Down. While that had two pages to build up to one gag, Fish Theatre starring Noel Pilchard does the opposite and squeezes in an absurd amount of puns into its one page.

Written by Graham Exton and drawn by Ed McHenry, Graham told me how he’d often use up several scripts worth of puns all at once, robbing himself of the chance to use his vast array of jokes over many stories. In the end he just ended up giving himself more work, having to think up new puns after using so many here! But the end result of this is so funny I think it was worth all of that extra effort.

Every single panel contains at least one pun here (sometimes more), with well over a dozen altogether in just the one strip. Don’t think it’s possible? You have been warned.

I really didn’t want this issue to end but what an ending it gave us. It’s been a blast revisiting this particular OiNK and to have such a faultless issue this early in its life proves the strength of its concept and of the team assembled to bring it to life. It just keeps on getting better and better and with over 60 issues plus specials and books to come, there’s a lot of laughing yet to do.

With the comic still fresh out of the gates it wouldn’t have a dedicated Holiday Special until the following year, but #7 makes up for that with its summery theme and ice cold cover. Confused? The next issue’s review will be here from Monday 26th July and all will be revealed.

OiNK! #2: STiCKiNG iT TO THE ROYALS

it’s time for the second issue of the world’s funniest comic and the cover sets the ball rolling in typical OiNK fashion. Using the same design as the preview issue, an artist’s illustration framed above Patrick Gallagher‘s Uncle Pigg and Mary Lighthouse, this has proved to be very memorable over the years amongst fans.

Let’s try to forget about how old the image of those two boys makes us feel and instead concentrate on the funny rendering by Steve McGarry. This was all to promote another free gift, a set of blank sticky badges with letters, numbers and images which could be rubbed on to create anything the young readers wanted. They’re a bit like those old pretend tattoo rub-on transfers we had as kids, which never transferred in one piece and would look a right mess on our arms.

Of course there were other cheeky examples of what could be created inside the issue and a request for pig pals to send in their ideas, which we’ll see later. As we open the issue it’s again up to critic Mary Lighthouse and editor Uncle Pigg to introduce the issue, this time by following on directly from Mary’s quite startled discovery on the front page.

It’s not often you’ll see a Royal fart joke. Again, Ian Jackson‘s artwork is the star here and he really does epitomise everything OiNK was about. I’d call it a breath of fresh air but that might not be the case given the subject of Mark Rodgers‘ script. Mary’s face in the final panel brings out a childish grin on my own face every time I see it.

It’s time to meet another regular star of the comic. Weedy Willy was introduced in the preview issue as “So Pathetic It’s Embarrassing”. Cowardly, insanely weak and lacking any kind of social skills, Willy’s continued optimism led to us cheering him on through mishap after mishap. Most of these would also involve his unrequited love of local girl Mandy, who’d often fall foul of his misplaced affections.

While Willy’s weediness (expertly rendered by Mike Green) was the subject of the humour, he was never portrayed as a victim. Yes, we could laugh at his inability to lift the lightest of objects or his fears of the cutest, cuddliest babies, but whenever the strip put him up against a bully he’d always come out on top, even if it was inadvertently. His positivity was infectious and the moral was clear, albeit delivered in an original OiNK fashion.

[Harry the Head] paid tribute to the Dambusters, believe it or not.

The comic had an anarchic feel to it which I always loved, not only in its humour and artwork but also in how it was organised. Other humour comics would have certain strips on the same pages every issue, always taking up the same amount of space. OiNK mixed it up, placing its regulars on different pages and often giving them varying amounts of space from issue to issue. Co-editor Mark Rodgers said strip length was one of the rules they no longer wished to be confined by.

This variation carried over to the one-off strips, which could be anything from a quick three-panel gag to a detailed multipage story. From this issue, this two-thirds of a page strip is one such example and a definite highlight.

Burp and Mr Big Nose creator Jeremy Banx‘s Kangaroo Kid leaps (sorry, I couldn’t resist) off the bright yellow page, ending with the reader actually taken by surprise with the blatantly obvious fact he hadn’t exited the phone booth yet. A brilliant piece of misdirection and comic timing.

Compared to the newsprint comics of the day, OiNK’s shiny paper was a revelation. While action comics such as Transformers were mostly printed on full colour glossy paper, OiNK’s was much bigger and of a higher grade, meaning even these one-colour pages feel more vibrant when held. Its printing process also meant black and white strips didn’t have to be quite so simple anymore and shades of grey could be used to really bring them to life in a way we hadn’t seen before in humour comics.

But of course, OiNK also had more striking full colour pages than any other funny comic and none would use this to greater effect than J.T. Dogg, so while we’re on the subject here’s his latest Superstar Poster, Frankenswine!

I know I’ve included one of these before but how could I not show off this masterpiece? I hadn’t discovered OiNK at this stage but I remember having these up on my wall back in the late 80s, from a mix of issues given to me by my cousin and reprints from much later in the run. I have a couple up on the walls of my home office now, I’ll let you know which as we go along.

Other highlights of this issue include the pun-tastic pigs The Street-Hogs as they continue to fight Don Poloney, not-so-subtle in-jokes in Cowpat County, a wonderful full colour Burp and a Rocky-inspired Golden Trough Awards, complete with catchy musical monologue. Be warned, you may not get the original tune out of your head after you read this.

One of the main contributors to OiNK had never worked in comics before, but was the lead singer of the band that received a little promo above in Cowpat County. Marc Riley is better known today as a BBC Radio 6 Music presenter, previously of Mark and Lard fame on Radio 1. Just for the record, our Marc was ‘Lard’.


“With Marc all hunched over dressed like this, passers-by and car drivers were stunned and puzzled.”

Tony Husband

An old friend of Patrick’s (still good friends with both him and fellow co-editor Tony Husband to this day) Marc could be heard singing on the free flexidisc from issue one and would star as Snatcher Sam in many photo stories, often appearing alongside Frank Sidebottom. Later stories are set outside or on makeshift sets, but in these early days Marc would be pasted onto hastily drawn backgrounds.

The Bully Who Went Bald is one such story. It also features Tony’s son Paul (previously seen in the preview issue) as Sam’s intended target and Patrick as an innocent airplane pilot who just happens to be passing by. The rough sketches and cut-and-paste nature adds to the amateurish look, which in itself highlights the fact these were spoofs of photo stories found in the likes of Eagle and women’s weeklies.

This behind-the-scenes photo has been shared by Tony, who said that after the shoot Paul walked down the lane holding Marc’s hand. “With Marc all hunched over dressed like this, passers-by and car drivers were stunned and puzzled”, says Tony.

We stick with Marc for the back page and our final highlight. Probably Marc’s most fondly remembered creation after Snatcher Sam was Harry the Head, the tale of an ordinary boy who just happened to be a disembodied head. In the preview issue Harry’s parents were also just heads but a later strip would change this to involve a genie, a greedy young boy and a lesson learnt.

Quite a severe lesson to learn! But Harry did just that and ended up kinder and less selfish, earning himself a good friend in Barney (who would diligently carry Harry around by the hair) and decided to live life to the full. Later he would go off on an adventure around the world over multiple issues, but his best strips were the self-contained ones where he’d use his predicament to his advantage, such as in this one which paid tribute to the Dambusters, believe it or not.

Who would’ve thought this crazy comic could be educational too. Well okay, I’m pushing it but this strip actually saw publication on the 43rd anniversary of the Dambusters raid, which occurred on the night of 16-17 May back in 1943.

With that we come to the end of our second review (third if you count the preview) of OiNK in this real-time 35th anniversary read through. The next issue is the first of the themed editions. These were another example of how OiNK stood out from the crowd and another reason it was a favourite among so many.

The first subject is space, so watch out for chicken aliens, pigs behind the moon and even a cameo from The Doctor. Issue three takes off on Monday 31st May and you can also check out the promo for it from tis issue.

OiNK! #1: 35 YEARS LATER!

Off we go! Happy 35th anniversary to my very favourite comic of all time and what I truly believe is still the funniest to ever grace shop shelves. The preview issue released the week before had prepared some for what was to follow, but the actual premiere issue made quite the impact all by itself with a free record on the cover and a matching cover image to promote it. This could not have failed to catch the eye.

We’ll take a closer look at the free gift in a bit but first let’s start with editor Uncle Pigg taking no nonsense from critic Mary Lighthouse on page two. Written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by Ian Jackson, these strips were a regular fixture for many of the early issues and starting in #3 would introduce the fortnightly subject of each issue. These would include your traditional Christmas and Hallowe’en editions, but could also be anything from music, computer games or pets, to space, health or war.

There’s no subject this time obviously but there is certainly an edge to the first few pages. Our editor introduces strips such as Ed Banger, the boy with the invincible headbutt and Mike and Spike, the naughty boy with a mohican and his equally naughty pet hedgehog. Both were drawn by Patrick Gallagher, who also put the cover together. Very modern, very 80s characters, both feel like they were intended to be regular fixtures, but Ed would only return once and after appearing in the preview issue this was Mike and Spike’s last.

But that was one of the things we loved about OiNK, the forever changing line up of regular, occasional and one-off characters kept things fresh and exciting rather than formulaic and predictable. In fact, it’s only upon looking back on the series I realise some of my favourite regular characters weren’t regular at all. But one thing we could always count on were spoof advertisements.

The half-page Uncle Pigg’s For Sale Column mimicked the kind of thing we’d see in local newspapers, except here they’re all being sold by one person, or rather pig. A precursor to the infamous GBH catalogue company in later issues, here everything is poor quality for extortionate prices. I particularly like the couple of running jokes, the ‘Barrel of Monkeys’ and ‘Live Shark’ gags rolling over into each subsequent, even funnier advert.

It might seem strange to have the above as one of our first highlights of the premiere issue rather than a strip, but these were ubiquitous with OiNK. However, only a few page turns later would be a strip set to astound the eyes of the young readers used to black and white or one-colour pages in their comics. The Street-Hogs were all set to make their grand entrance.

Written by one of the comic’s three creator-editors Mark Rodgers, who wrote so much of OiNK, it’s a spoof of classic Saturday morning television serials and their constant, increasingly ridiculous cliffhangers and even more ludicrous heroic escapes. However, inspiration could be traced back to everything from the 60s Batman to Starsky & Hutch.

It was all brought to life by the incredible talent of illustrator J.T. Dogg who, while comic artists usually draw their pages at a larger scale which is then shrunk down during publication, drew his pages at the same size as the finished product. Knowing this fact makes his beautiful colour work even more incredible in my eyes.

Is it any wonder they [The Street-Hogs] are so fondly remembered to this day by so many pig pals.

Dirty Harry, Emma Pig, Hi-Fat and their informant Hoggy Bear would fight against the butcher mafioso and find themselves in one escape-proof scenario after another for the first 11 issues, returning later for further serials. As well as being hilarious, Mark’s scripts also brought a real adventure vibe to things, albeit in suitable OiNK fashion. Is it any wonder they’re so fondly remembered to this day by so many pig pals.

The premiere issue saw some returning characters from the preview such as Burp, Weedy Willy and chat show host Terry Wogham, as well as the second OiNK Superstar Poster. This time it was Bacon Stevens (I’m sure Shaky would’ve approved) and friend of the comic BBC Radio DJ John Peel also got the OiNK treatment. New addition Hadrian Vile would prove to be an instant hit and appear in almost every issue too.

One thing I particularly loved were the takes on children’s story pages. We’d also get lots of cheeky digs at specific cartoons and toys but when OiNK took classic children’s book staples and created their own original tales they were simply magical, and no pun is intended here.

Daz‘s The Wonderful Adventure of Billy Batt and his Magic Hat takes the idea of rhyming children’s stories, told in picture panels and captions and illustrates it in what could be mistaken as a somewhat traditional fashion. That is, until you actually read it.

Daz would contribute quite a few of these to the early issues of OiNK, each one starting off innocently enough, building anticipation in the reader. As I read them, I’m just waiting for that moment in each story when it starts to take a turn for the surreal, the comedic or the horrific. Then of course, they’re all capped off with a killer last line.

So, it’s time we talked about that free gift.


“Poo-poo, tinkle-tinkle, parp-parp, OiNK!”

Actual lyrics to The OiNK Song

Over a year later the team would bring us a record called The OiNK 45 which readers could buy through mail order. This is what I did back in 1987. It contained three songs, two of which had originally been on this special floppy flexidisc. Specially tuned to be enjoyed by young ears but excruciating for adults ones, The Oink Song and The Oink Rap were irritatingly catchy and I loved annoying my family with them at a volume they simply shouldn’t have been played at.

Along with silly dance moves (and alternative uses for the disc for those without record players) on a special double page spread were the lyrics. Whenever OiNK is brought up on some random social media chat it’s never too long before someone quotes the chorus of the song on the right!

Both were recorded by former member of The Fall, creator of Harry the Head and BBC Radio 6 Music DJ Marc Riley, The Oink Song’s effect of multiple squeaky pigs being achieved by overdubs. Creator-editor Tony Husband produced some of the electric percussion for the rap song and, according to Tony recently, “that influenced Public Enemy and Run DMC and all those people Dr. Dre talks about as a major influence.”

To hear some of The Oink Rap just check out the OiNK Blog YouTube Channel where it’s used for the opening and ending of each episode. Just remember, I did warn you in advance.

I’m very happy to see Tom Paterson return for this premiere issue after his Revenge Squad in the preview. Drawing another Pigg Tale written by Mark Rodgers, this strip makes the previous one look like a warm up. This is Tom without any of the constraints he had to work under elsewhere. It epitomises silliness and is chock full of his trademark sight gags and background jokes. Take your time in reading this one.

I love all of the little incidental details such as the explanation of where Jonesy’s underwear came from, the sound effects and descriptive words used throughout, even the obligatory bangers and mash. I even like his depiction of Uncle Pigg, even though by this time it was agreed he wouldn’t be a typical smelly pig. If Tom had been able to become a regular contributor his collection of strips by the end would’ve been second-to-none, but at least we can enjoy such brilliance as Testing Time.

One more highlight for this issue and it’s a rare colour outing for OiNK’s very own superhero.

David Haldane contributed quite a few strips to the comic, including Hugo the Hungry Hippo and the dark humour of the Torture Twins. Rubbish Man was his main character, where young hot dog salesman Jimmy Bung would save the world against a crazy array of villains by leaping into the nearest dustbin and becoming the smelly superhero, with everything from cold custard to mouldy mashed potato at his fingertips. Quite literally.

Haldane’s style has changed somewhat from the preview; his outlines are chunkier, the panels are fuller and overall it’s a much bolder look. It’s all very random, like organised chaos, which suits the overall comic perfectly. I love it. From the gorgeous colour work to the handily bleeped out curse words, it’s the final strip of the comic and the perfect way to end things for now.

As first impressions go this has been a great success and a joy to read from beginning to end. The sheer variety in the art styles alone was enough to make it stand out, but put those styles into genuinely hilarious strips, make them all different lengths, squeezing in as much as you possibly can to make use of every available space and print it all on extra large, glossy paper and what do you have? A comic like nothing else on the market. In other words, you have OiNK!

Issue two’s review will be here in a fortnight on Monday 17th May and you can check out its promo too.