It’s been a long time since we’ve had the pleasure of a Jeremy Banx cover, the last one was way back in #19 at the beginning of last year. His covers hold a special place in my piggy heart since his was the first one I ever saw in #14. For this issue’s front page Burp the Smelly Alien is giving himself an all-over body workout, quite literally. But despite Burp’s starring role, the biggest headline is given to Pete Throb of Pete and his Pimple.
Inside this issue is an eight-page pull-out comic all about one of OiNK’s most popular characters, Lew Stringer’s creation who had really captured the imaginations of the young readers. He certainly had when I was in the target audience, he quickly became one of my favourites and I was hugely excited by this issue. We’ll come back to him in a bit, first up Burp earns his front page stardom with another unique double-page spread.
It’s a delightfully written tale of our smelly friend simply enjoying himself while on holiday. It just so happens that holiday is on a distant, desolate planet made entirely of sand. The first page alone would’ve made for a great strip, with its atmospheric captions and imaginative representations of this wonder of the universe, only for it to house Burp’s holiday ranch! Naturally. But we also have him enjoying his unique vacation before, as always, he inadvertently causes a bit of chaos.
If there was an ongoing theme to Burp’s strips it would be how his good natured intentions always produce the opposite results. Whether it’s his never-ending quest to ingratiate himself with us humans or annoying the large god-like beings of the universe while doing a deep space tour. Here, even on a lifeless planet he still somehow ruin things, even if only for himself this time. This is one of my favourite Burps. It’s just such a unique strip, but then again most of Jeremy’s are; just try to explain this one and why it’s so funny to anyone who has never read OiNK!
At the beginning of the latest Psycho Gran it appears David Leach has decided not to follow the issue’s theme of health and fitness, unless you go down the route of saying an explosion does affect people’s wellbeing. But if we’ve learned anything since her debut in #15, it’s that we should never try to predict or assume with Psycho.
Nice to see another little cameo from Albert, the long-suffering life partner of our little old dear. Also, did you pick up on the gag of what’s really on those papers held by newsreaders? In case you’re wondering what the shout out in the title panel is all about, no David hadn’t finally been let go from a prisoner of war camp. David tells me he’d had an emergency appendix operation in the Prince of Wales hospital in Bridgend in Wales and had ended up in for a week, so wanted to give a big thanks to everyone there.
Regular readers might recall the Scare Boars from #13, the first Hallowe’en issue. They were GBH’s take on the Care Bears, one of the 80s’ biggest toy and cartoon franchises. Ingeniously created, co-creator/co-editor Patrick Gallagher still owns one of them to this day and posted a video of them together last year, which you can see in the review. A year later and GBH are back with more cuddly monstrosities, this time with the Crummi Boars, Spotti, Snotti, Potti and Scratchi.
This time it was a riff on Disney’s Gummi Bears, another toy and cartoon hit, which themselves were clearly inspired by the success of the Care Bears, although officially they were based on the chewy sweets. Of course, once something became a hit with the UK kids of the 80s OiNK was ready to pounce. With a lot of the original names ending with an ‘I’ and each one having a very specific, narrow characteristic it was the perfect franchise to rip into. Again, as with many of the props used in OiNK’s madverts recently, the little details are superb.
“See Janice and John ignore a warning sign.”Janice and John and the thermonuclear reactor (Mark Rodgers)
The Crummi Boars may have been a spiritual sequel to a previous madvertisement, but in this issue we get an actual sequel to a much earlier strip. In fact, this issue’s story starring Janice and John was mentioned way back in #7! Why did it take 34 issues to arrive? Well, if you’ve been following along over this past year-and-a-bit you’ll know all about their original story leading two people (only two) to complain about OiNK to The Press Council, which the comic then responded to in #28!
While the complaint was rejected these things can take a while to work through, hence why there was a 21 issue gap between the two stories. The editorial team would’ve been just right not to print another until the outcome of the complaint was known. By now more than enough time had passed, even after OiNK’s cheeky rasp to the complainers, so finally here’s the long-promised second part of Uncle Pigg’s Reading Course, Janice and John and the thermonuclear reactor, written by Mark Rodgers.
Unfortunately they wouldn’t return to face the demons from hell, but the two we got were great fun. The first is my favourite, possibly because it was the first and made a bigger impression, or possibly because of the furore it created at the time (which has been wrongly attributed to OiNK’s much later cancellation). Either way, it’s a shame we won’t see any more of Trevor Johnson’s great way of spoofing classic children’s picture panel stories. In fact, we won’t see any more of Trevor at all until the second OiNK Book, which most of us didn’t read until after OiNK’s final issue!
But this isn’t the last you’ll hear of his work, specifically Janice and John, on the blog. There’s a very special post planned for next year which takes a behind-the-scenes look into the complaint made against OiNK and the process between OiNK Publishing and IPC Magazines, thanks to insider information and documents provided to me by co-creator/co-editor Mark Rodgers’ wife Helen Jones! For now though, let’s take a peak at some other highlights before our main event.
Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins’ cross-country training for his new football career takes a turn for the worse when sliding on a cowpat isn’t the worst thing to happen, Ireland represents on the Grunts page, we take a closer look at the lead singer of The Slugs (although I wouldn’t recommend getting too close) and in the penultimate chapter of The Spectacles of Doom versus The Monocle of Mayhem Andy Roper’s detailed art (right down to the monocle on the skull flags) is once again the star as the nasties assemble for battle.
With all of these highs, it’d be quite the feat to outshine them all. It might even require a character to have their very own pull-out comic to stand out. What luck! That’s exactly what Pete Throb of Pete and his Pimple fame has in this very issue, an eight-page mini-comic. According to Lew Stringer, the idea was Mark Rodgers’, who wanted to do an occasional series of such pull-outs spotlighting (no pun intended) different characters.
I never pulled the comic out, I didn’t want to destroy one of my beloved OiNKs, although I was tempted to colour in the cover. (I never did.) Inside was a five-page Pete story by Lew, made up of three strip pages and a centre-spread poster of him and his pals, including object of Tom Thug’s desire Zeta (Pete’s sister), fighting the alien Zitbusters! This was followed by Zeta’s pimply problem column, Acne Activity Time with art by Ed McHenry and a look at Pete’s Acne Ancestors written by Lew but drawn by Mike Higgs.
Pete was always one of my childhood favourites, although I wouldn’t be such a fan of pimples a few years later. I wasn’t alone, with Pete frequently climbing to the top spots (again, no pun intended, I swear) of reader polls, so he was a natural choice for the first of these little specials. Unfortunately there’d never be a second mini-comic, which could be because of the changes that would come to OiNK when it went weekly (less pages) and then monthly (some main contributors left and some strips were given multi-page stories anyway).
Just as well our only one is quite brilliant then! Below is the Pete strip and the poster which made up the main battle. A battle in a Pete and his Pimple story? Not only that, he was battling scary aliens called Clive, Trevor, Darren and Sharon on their never-ending quest to enslave all those who dare have pimply complexions throughout the cosmos. It also gives us a little look into Pete’s everyday life including his local greasy hang out and his equally spotty pals.
If you’re going to create a special comic inside an OiNK you may as well go bigger and zanier than ever with the main story, right? Lew certainly did. As always, it pays to read it slowly and pick up on all the little sight gags, such as Shaun’s t-shirt slogan, the Greasy Spoon’s menu and of course the slap up feeds at the end. My personal favourite moment is Pete’s heroic speech, a moment where for once he can be the saviour instead of the nuisance, cut short by the fact the aliens had already left.
Of course, all of that glowing praise in the final panel would be short lived and we’d be back to normal next time. I think this issue shows more than any other why OiNK should’ve stayed in this format as a fortnightly 32-page comic with subjects to tailor the contents around. As a child, the news below was exciting (and I can remember my mum giving off that she’d have to pay for it twice as much) but little were we to know the news would lead to some not-so-welcome changes too.
Still, there are another three favourite issues to come, one of which could take the crown as the best regular issue of all going from my memory of reading it as a child! Plus next month contains the greatest OiNK of all! Ooh, I’m all excited again. Next up though is the Fantastic Fashion Issue with a quite ‘Mad’ cover to match. It’ll be up for review on Monday 28th November 2022.