Tag Archives: Patrick Gallagher

OiNK! #5: PERFECT PiG PALS

While the main event of this fifth issue of OiNK is the Unfair Funfair adventure game and there’s no theme as such, there’s an overall feeling of celebration inside, a celebration that the comic was proving to be a hit among its target audience. It contains the first contributions from readers, with a few small jokes and drawings scattered throughout, there’s a photo story showing us the kind of kids who were reading OiNK and reference is made to their letters in some of the strips.

Things begin with Mary Lighthouse on page two as per usual and something stood out in its last panel. The image of Mary and the words Uncle Pigg is shouting were definitely not by strip artist Ian Jackson, so I asked Patrick Gallagher about it. In Mark Rodgers‘ original script the mass of letters was meant to be hate mail for Mary but IPC Magazines didn’t like this reference and asked for it to be toned down. It was changed to reference fan mail for the comic which I think is actually funnier. You can compare the two ideas below.

I love the set up with Mary receiving three complaints and calling it an outcry. It all feels very contemporary. After all, that’s how The Daily Mail still operates today, isn’t it? This strip would coincidentally end up quite prophetic. While it’s obviously a joke, it’s strikingly similar to something the comic’s editors would face after a certain story is published in #7, but we’ll get to that later.

Directly below this on the same page is a character whose name is somewhat direct. In fact you could say it’s a bit on the nose. Mr. Big Nose would introduce surreal humour to the young audience in a way that really shouldn’t work in a children’s comic, but it did. One issue he could be showing us gravity is actually invisible creatures holding everything down, or he’d be ignoring an alien assassin by reading the newspaper, or playing Rambo in a school play of Little Bo-Peep, or having his vacuum cleaner turned into a dolphin.

Mr Big Nose’s strips followed no rules and the more absurd the situation, the more bizarre the juxtapositions, the more they didn’t make sense the funnier they were. With no barriers in his way, Jeremy Banx‘s imagination was on full display and this kind of humour would also start to spill over into his Burp the Smelly Alien strip in later issues too.

Appearing in almost every one of the fortnightly issues of OiNK Mr Big Nose would sadly disappear with #45, the first weekly edition. However, including specials Jeremy would end up crafting 42 completely different tales for us to enjoy, and enjoy them we did. That dolphin’s name often gets quoted by pig pals online to this day!

So as I said at the top of the review this issue brought with it the first contributions by OiNK’s readers. The regular space for these was the Grunts page but it only contains one drawing this time and some made up letters to Uncle Pigg from imaginary readers for a laugh. Soon enough it would be full to bursting with readers’ celebrity spoofs, photos, newspaper clippings of pigs in the news, poems and of course jokes for Nasty Laffs and Specs.

These two little panels aren’t on the letters page, instead popping up right at the beginning of the issue on page three. Rather than simply printing the written letters sent in OiNK would illustrate them too, which would just spur on the young readership more. Who wouldn’t have wanted to see their joke turned into a cartoon strip?


“You smell awful! You must be a City supporter!”

Random human to Burp the Smelly Menace from Outer Space

Interestingly, OiNK also printed input from readers in their holiday specials and annuals, something no other annual I collected as a kid ever did. While my Marvel UK comics had standard letters pages answered in very entertaining ways, IPC (and later Fleetway) would often encourage their readers to send something different. Barrie Tomlinson, editor of many action adventure comics was always asking readers to contribute to a wonderful variety of features on his letters pages. But OiNK went even further and just let them send in whatever they wanted!

So who were these young readers, these so-called “pig pals”? Time for Terry Wogham to investigate.

Terry Wogham was a series of photo stories in the earliest issues where a real pig interviewed a series of top celebrities. Of course, we’d often only see these special guests from his eye level, so the comic could get away with only showing their legs and torso. For this issue though we got to see the faces of those interviewees, a selection of Typical OiNK Readers.

Like looking in a mirror. The strip contains all three of OiNK’s creators. Mark Rodgers can be seen wearing the bald cap and bandana with a toothless mouth drawn over him, then that’s him at the bottom left of the final panel, with Tony Husband and his son Paul behind him. Patrick Gallagher is in the middle of the back row, with his former wife Ann to the right (his left), then Ann’s brother James who was also an OiNK photographer. In front of James is his wife Alanna and in the middle of the front row is Tony’s wife, Carole.

So who remembers those Make-Your-Own Adventure books? For the uninitiated I’m referring to children’s novels designed to be read in a non-linear fashion, very much like the text adventure games on home computers at the time. At the end of each page you’d be given a choice of where to take the story next and the corresponding page numbers for each choice, the idea being to make it to the end of the adventure alive. For example the character could be faced with a spooky house or a haunted forest and they could decide to turn to page ‘x’ to enter the house, or page ‘y’ to walk towards the forest. 

Whether it was intended or not, I remember Horace teaching me not to judge anyone by how they look.

The format was ripe for an OiNK parody. Bringing the idea of The Unfair Funfair to life was artist Ralph Shephard, fresh off his excellent riff on The Transformers in #3. He would also go on to draw one of my all-time favourite spoofs from the comic, but that’s a tale for another review. His previous colourful style is replaced with black and white for the most part which suits the setting perfectly with its lovely feeling of spooky mischievousness.

Just like the books this was based on, the cover proclaims “You are Barry the butcher”, but surely that’s the last thing an OiNK reader would want? How can a butcher be the hero of the adventure? Read on, try the game and find out for yourself.

After you’ve tried a few of the options I’m sure you can probably guess what the note on the Grunts page said. To quote Uncle Pigg, “You are Barry the butcher … and I am the fairground owner! Whatever choices you make, you’ll still end up in the swill!!! Told you it was an Unfair Funfair! Hurr hurr hurr!!” Well, the clue was in the name after all, but it’s still fun to try out all the options. Even though you know what’s going to happen next, making those different choices just to end up reading the same panel again and again is the whole point and what makes it so funny.

Besides the blockbuster main event, other highlights include Nigel and Skrat the Two-Headed Rat, Noel Ford‘s weird creations who only appeared in half a dozen issues believe it or not. I say that because I’ve very vivid memories of them! New thief on the block Swindler Sid pops up in Snatcher Sam, Uncle Pigg brings readers up to date on Hoggy Bear‘s predicament in The Street-Hogs before heading home, and while trying to make new human friends Burp‘s breath gets him into hot water.

The final highlight I’m pulling out of this issue’s hat is Tony Husband‘s lovable character, Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins. To anyone new to OiNK the title of this strip might give them the impression of a clichéd comics character with one certain feature or ability that would be played for easy laughs. But as always with OiNK, created as a reaction to such tired comics ideas, there’s a lot more to it than that.

Horace’s strip would alternate between funny, contained stories and ongoing serials showing his struggles at simply trying to live his life. The early stories featured funny scenarios centred around his appearance, but never in a cruel way. He could scare off a monster by complete accident and end up the hero for example and he never seemed to lose his upbeat outlook at life. This issue’s strip sees his parents try to hide his looks from his visiting wealthy uncle, only for it backfire on them and their assumptions.

As OiNK continued the strip matured into an ongoing serial involving Horace’s football career. At times he’d get down about his looks, his treatment by others and how cruel the world could be, but he was a strong individual and we’d cheer him on every fortnight. His story even had a proper ending when the comic finished and a very happy one at that.

Whether it was intended or not, I remember Horace teaching me not to judge anyone by how they look, a strong message for anyone but in particular for a child reading it and getting swept up in the laughs and the adventure. I never felt lectured, never thought Tony was even trying to do any of this, but it’s what I took away from it and as such I believe he was an important part of my development as a child.

On that note it’s time to place this fifth issue of OiNK back onto the bookshelves and look forward to the next edition in a fortnight’s time. Issue six is the Animal Crackers issue and it certainly is a cracker! There comes a time in any comic’s early life when it all just seems to click, to gel together and prove its potential and I’ll tell you all about that moment in OiNK’s run on Friday 12th July.

COMiNG UP: OiNK! #4

This coming Monday on the blog the beautiful comic hosts the beautiful game. (People actually call football that, right?) Three issues down and OiNK was the comic everyone was talking about. Don’t believe me? Don’t just take my word for it, here’s an advertisement from that week’s Whizzer and Chips as proof!

Co-editor Patrick Gallagher‘s renditions of Tom Thug, Street-Hog Hi-Fat and Harry the Head joined his own creation, Head Banger to tell readers all about the World Cup Special in this ‘Next Issue’ panel from #3. If you’re wondering what the chicken man is doing here then you clearly didn’t read the review for the third issue.

The coming issue also contains my personal favourite page of OiNK out of the comic’s entire lifespan! So make sure you don’t miss out by subscribing to the blog or checking for updates on the various social media, then be here on Monday 14th June.

OiNK! #3: ACE SPACE ISSUE

I have a little personal story about this issue I’d like to share. I started collecting OiNK at issue 14, but some time after this I was at my cousin’s house when he gave me a couple of his back issues. One of these was the one I’m reviewing now. I remember coming back downstairs from his bedroom and sitting next to my late nanny, who looked at the cover. I didn’t know how she would react and was delightfully surprised when she started giggling like a little schoolgirl and gave me a little wink.

It’s just one very happy memory I associate with this comic and I’ll share more as we go along. My nanny’s giggle was completely justified with Tony Husband‘s cover and its bare piggy bottoms, which actually wraps around to the back page and its explanation for the image. I always loved a good wraparound cover on a comic. Marvel UK were very good at them and while this one isn’t advertised as such (the poster mentioned on the cover refers to a Star Wars spoof inside) it would make for a funny addition to the wall.

This is the first of the themed editions, which over the course of the majority of the fortnightly issues would include everything from traditional Hallowe’en and Christmas themes to music, health, families, war, revenge, love… the list goes on. It added another original element to OiNK itself and made each individual issue a unique experience. In the early issues editor Uncle Pigg and critic Mary Lighthouse would often introduce the theme, mostly written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by Ian Jackson.

I wonder if Colin Baker ever saw himself drawn in Ian’s style?  This wouldn’t be the last time The Sixth Doctor would influence Uncle Pigg but that’s a story for a future issue so you’ll just have to be patient. Mary’s TARDIS pops up on the Grunts page as she desperately tries to phone the operator and then she reappears in her own strip near the end of the comic. But she wasn’t the only character to materialise throughout.

Next up is undoubtedly the star strip of the issue. Boldly going where no photo story had gone before, the OiNK team were really pushing the boundaries of what they could achieve with the format, the characters literally bursting out of the panels and running amok throughout the issue. My original exposure to Star Truck was with the sequel tale in the first OiNK Book, which was even more chaotic! Here, in only the third issue, is the imagination of the OiNK team on full display.

Our cast is made up of Mark Rodgers as Captain Slog, Patrick Gallagher as Sock, Marc Riley as Jock and Tony Husband under the chicken mask as the alien, Jerm. Can you imagine the fun these guys had creating this? Imagine this being part of your job! Jerm would make his escape and pop up in various other strips, a few examples of which I’ve included below.

First though, prolific IPC Magazines comics writer Graham Exton was also part of the creative team behind OiNK and contributed many stories and countless amounts of puns to the comic. The first full strip of his I’m showing here is the first appearance of regular nutball, Roger Rental, He’s Completely Mental, as drawn by local Northern Ireland artist Ian Knox.

Roger was always a favourite of mine. Most of the time he’d appear in quarter-page strips like this one, each with an innocuous beginning, only for Roger to take the meaning of something completely the wrong way. Roger would appear in most of the fortnightly issues before disappearing when the comic turned weekly. But that’s still a lot of short, sharp gags and he would never disappoint.

Turning the page and discovering an OiNK version of your favourite cartoon or toy was always a thrill

There are so many highlights within the pages of this issue it’s been difficult to select just a few for review purposes. They include Billy’s Brain, a story about a young boy who inherits his genius Uncle Vincent’s sentient brain and together they outwit the thieves wishing to use his knowledge for their own nefarious needs. Burp the Smelly Alien‘s page makes a bold impact with its use of one colour (and check out that final panel gag), the Star Truck crew pop up in Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins, Ian Jackson‘s depiction of penguins is a highlight of The Golden Trough Awards and Maggie Pie, Collector of Weird Things goes on a wig collecting spree.

The comic never shied away from spoofing all the things its readers loved. Ghostbusters, He-Man, James Bond and more would all end up getting the Oink! treatment. Turning the page to an OiNK version of your favourite cartoon or toy was always a thrill, a bit like seeing your favourite celebrities on Spitting Image. One franchise they were quick to latch on to was Hasbro’s Transformers.

Central to this particular take was the simple idea these robots could disguise themselves as anything, and I do mean anything. Everyone remembers the toys transforming into cars and airplanes but there were also guns, stereo systems, cassettes and all manner of original ideas. OiNK took this concept and ran with it.

The Transformoids is gloriously illustrated by Ralph Shephard whose style I distinctly remember, mainly because he’d give the same treatment to Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends which I was a fan of at the time. So it’s surprising to discover he only contributed to nine issues in total. But such was the impact of his work it was still a highlight of the entire run.

The Transformers would be the subject of a Madvertisement much later but this is my favourite take on the Robots in Disguise. The ludicrously giant robots appearing out of the flimsiest of objects reminds me of being puzzled, even as a kid, as to how Decepticon leader Megatron could transform from giant robot into a gun held by his comrades in the cartoon. It never made sense to me, but it ended up giving us this delightful, genuinely hilarious spoof so I’ll forgive it.

Time to take a trip to a town that sounds just lovely but in reality is one you may wish to avoid. First though, just above it on the page is a quick pun from Tony Husband in the ongoing Star Truck chase sequence.

Zootown sounds innocent enough and on the surface this looks like a strip you could find in any other comic; a town where the residents go about their daily lives, who just so happen to be animals. But this is OiNK, so of course there’s going to be a twist in the tale. Here, the animals keep their various instincts, insights and, best of all their appetites.

The creatures were never given names as far as I remember, so every issue we were seeing different random inhabitants, but each species would act in specific ways with each other. The carnivores would often get the upper paw, terrifying the little docile animals, but thankfully I don’t think they were ever on the buffet menu. Of course, I could be wrong but there always seemed to be some kind of strange friendship there.


“We knew you’d come this way, so we took a shortcut through the staples!”

Captain Slog, Star Truck

This first episode I’m showing may not have that particular aspect of the ongoing series but it’s still the perfect example of the daft humour we’d enjoy every time. Zootown felt like such a richly populated place even though we saw so little of it each issue, such was the talent of its creator David Haldane.

Before we finish off with the final part of our space saga we’re joined by Albert Einswine and his fascinating Science Facts for Simpletons.

Any excuse for some more Ian Jackson artwork, right? Well, it’s not just because of the art obviously. It’s a genuinely funny read and sums up how unpredictable the humour in OiNK could be, in particular in these little one-off additions to every issue. Ludicrous stuff.

Speaking of which, we’ve made it to the last page so it’s time to rein in Jerm once and for all as we conclude the first outing for the crew of the Enterpies with Star Truck: The Final Chapter. What I love the most here is the fact they’re all so self-aware of being inside the pages of a comic. From the reference to it being on page 31, to the shortcut through the staples taken by the Captain and his men, the daftness doesn’t let up for one panel. Check out the cardboard tube/tennis racquet gun, elaborated upon with some quick hand drawn lines.

A brilliant, genuinely very funny strip the likes of which you just wouldn’t have seen anywhere else. As the comic continues the photo stories become more elaborate without ever losing their cheap and cheerful feel, never forgetting they’re taking the hand out of those in other comics and magazines which were trying (often failing) to look serious and professional.

Star Truck would return in The Oink! Book 1988 and that’s how I first came to know them. Somehow, the sequel is even funnier, again taking place across several other pages but in the much bigger book format there’s more scope for what they can do with the idea. It’s a definite highlight of that book so you can look forward to it appearing here during Christmas 2022.

That’s us all done for another fortnight, at least as far as OiNK reviews go anyway. There’s always more going on here on the OiNK Blog so make sure you keep up to date on the latest additions by subscribing or by keeping an eye on the social media feeds. OiNK #4, the World Cup ’86 issue will be here Monday 14th June. You can also see its promo from this issue on the blog too.