Tag Archives: Patrick Gallagher


Comic covers don’t come much more creative than this. Lew Stringer’s latest OiNK cover is definitely one of my favourites, right up there with those from #6 and #43 by Ian Jackson. The OiNK logo being pushed off the page was all Lew’s idea, who pencilled out a rough of the whole cover for approval by the comic’s editors. After it was approved he then drew the Pete part of the design, leaving the logo for Patrick.

Co-editor Patrick Gallagher was the famous logo’s original creator and told me he thought Lew’s cover was a “swell” idea, pun very obviously intended, and that it was a doddle for him to rejig the letters and complete this eye-catching front page, a highlight of the issue for sure and really makes the issue stand out in the collection. Just as well the inside is as good then. The first interior highlight comes from Davy Francis and Greedy Gorb, along with a special guest star.

Although he goes unnamed, that’s Doctor Madstarkraving (“He’s Bonkers”) who has appeared in his own strip a couple of times (#27 being one example) with more to come later in the run. Showing how uncontrollable Greedy’s appetite is, he shoots himself in the foot by eating the doc’s inventions when they could’ve fed him even more food! I particularly like the name of the shop, a little dig at how other comics seemed to have sweet shops on every street corner, a hang up from their more traditional (read: old-fashioned) days that OiNK liked to rib.

Speaking of old-fashioned tales, James Bond author Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang wasn’t a film I loved as much as my friends seemed to. However, I was certainly knew enough of its story that the following spoof by ‘Ian Phlegming’, with a funny illustration summing it up by Simon Thorp, was very funny indeed. Speaking with Patrick he thinks Simon may have written it too. It starts off silly and quickly escalates, culminating in an over-the-top ending that couldn’t be further away from the original saccharin tale. Then again, that’s the whole idea.

Spoofs were something unique to OiNK in the children’s comic market at the time, yet in the case of Twitty Twitty Bang Bang this wasn’t the only thing that set it apart. While comics such as Beano and Buster did have text adventure serials in their early days, it wasn’t something humour comics had any more, or any children’s comics outside of the nursery and very young children’s market. Later on in this year (1988) other comics such as The Real Ghostbusters and Thundercats would bring back the prose story, but for the time being pages like this really stood out.

Simon’s other contribution to the issue has plenty of panels of text packed with gags, this time as part of a full-page illustration in his usual entertaining style, but with a rather more dreary colour palette than usual that’s all part of the joke. This time of the year family holidays would be planned and paid for; I remember the TV listings magazines being full of them the first few months of the year. These were just ripe for a makeover, selling the Porkshire Riviera’s Outlet-By-The-Sea.

While it’s not a GBH Madvertisement their presence is still very much felt with their Spamtins Holiday Camp and Multi-storey Caravan Park. Growing up in the 80s and 90s I really found the caption for the Top Class Variety Acts very funny, even as a fan of the person at the butt of the joke. In the image itself there are so many funny little details, such as the quick sand, the periscope, a pair of socks that seem to have survived beyond their owner and the rigid man who I don’t think is sunbathing anymore.

This wasn’t the only time Simon would try to entice us away to sunnier climbs. Watch out for his special cruise ship cutaway later in the year. That particular contribution will definitely be featured in the highlights to come. This issue’s highlights are particularly good too, beginning with Invisible Charlie (who appeared in three issues) and Davy Francis’ trademark background gags. (Check out the posters.)

“Baby George! The Beastie Babies! And Paul Extremely Young!

Tiny Tots TV, Vaughan Brunt

On the Grunts page a reader must’ve had the fright of their lives on their high street, Tiny Tots TV suggests some more baby based television hits after the success of the 80s’ Muppet Babies, and Frank Sidebottom has two colourful pages this week. One is a competition, the other is his recurring Frank Sidebottom and his Fantastic Showbiz Gossip column which incudes his diary and, while he slips in a couple of joke entries, it’s an interesting look into the busy life of the man behind the mask, Chris Sievey.

The life of a superstar, eh?

There are a ton of mini-strips in here, including two full pages of them. Over these two pages alone we have the return of Uncle Pigg and Mary Lighthouse to strip form, Zootown, Harry the Head, Doctor Mooney He’s Completely Looney, a GBH Madvertisement, a one-off strip by Charlie Brooker called A Day in the Life of a Typical Schoolboy and the first strip of a perennial favourite, Wally of the West. Oh, plus the weekly funny newsagent coupon.

I want to show you a few of these in quick succession and it’s been difficult to decide which ones to pick out from this brilliant selection. I’ll begin with Charlie’s Typical Schoolboy, simply because it’s so daft.

GBH returns with a tiny madvert with big prices. Their special modelling clay promises plenty of “steaming” fun from the offset, so I’m sure you can draw your own correct conclusions as to what the product actually is. There are so many jokes following on from the theme of that ‘clay’, including the variety of colour schemes and even a special free gift and another dig at radio DJ Gary Davies (also see Outlet-By-The-Sea).

I’m not sure who wrote it but the couple of tiny illustrations are by Steve Gibson, so given past examples in the weeklies of his work with Charlie on quizzes and the like I’m going to assume Brooker wrote this one too.

My eyes lit up and I’m sure I had a great big grin across my face when I saw our next mini-strip, the first appearance of Ed McHenry’s Wally of the West. The character would appear in 12 OiNKs altogether, sometimes more than once in an issue and was a main staple during this final year of the comic. Often accompanied by his long-suffering friend Fungus, Wally was a series of short gags about a very dimwitted cowboy set in the American Wild West of the past.

The jokes revolved around his stupidity which might not sound that original, but Wally had two things going for him. The first was the setting, which gave it a unique feel and opened it up to new ideas. The second was the most important though, Ed himself. Creator of many quizzes and one-off strips, Ed was now beginning to move into his own serials having also recently created Igor and the Doctor which was an exciting prospect for any fans of his work so far in OiNK.

Back in 1988 Beano reached its 50th anniversary, after The Dandy had the previous year and the first combined celebratory book had been released in 1987. I actually received that book myself for that Christmas, when I also got the first OiNK! Book, although I do think the Dandy/Beano tome was originally for my brother but he’d grown out of comics by the time Santa came to town (as a lot of us mistakenly do at some point before correcting course again). In fact, at the same time I was reading DC Thomson’s book my other annual was making lots of jokes at its expense!

This wasn’t going to stop anytime soon by the looks of this week’s newsagent reservation coupon by Patrick Gallagher.

I’ve one more little mini-strip I want to show you but I’ll finish with it after I round up this review first. From the brilliant front cover which showed right there on the shelf OiNK didn’t follow any of the traditional comic rules, to its huge array of mini-strips and strong one-offs, this is by far the best of the weekly editions so far! In fact, it could easily be one of the best issues of the whole run up to this point. I remember being very excited at getting OiNK every single week from issue 50 onwards as a child and that remains true today.

Even though I know there are only nine weeklies left until we have to wait much longer between issues, I’m still just as excited at the prospect of those to come as I was 35 years ago. To wrap up this excellent issue we even get a tiny little Uncle Pigg and Mary Lighthouse strip, something we haven’t seen in the regular comic in a long time. They used to introduce every issue, or would pop up in multi-page strips now and again, but for a long time now have been relegated to the Grunts page, so it’s nice to see Ian Jackson bring them to life again. This time, however, it’s not written by Mark Rodgers as usual, but Kev F Sutherland. Thanks for bringing them back, Kev.

OiNK #54’s review will be here on Saturday 11th March 2023.

OiNK! #52: PiNK MiRROR

The first cover drawn by Chris Sievey, better known as Frank Sidebottom, is a delight of what must’ve been time-consuming details. As a kid I always loved his unique style but I don’t think I gave it the appreciation it really deserved. Look at the panelling in the wooden fence and each individual window in those distant buildings, never mind the brilliant colour work all completed with felt tip pens. I’ve already discussed previously that co-editor Patrick Gallagher told me how long Chris would spend perfecting his OiNK work, and you can see that right there on the cover to #52.

On the Grunts page, under a list of the most popular characters (every reader who wrote in was asked to include a coupon with their top three strips) is news that some of those listed will be returning in new mini-series soon, namely Street-Hogs, The Spectacles of Doom and Rubbish Man. In #50’s review I touched upon characters some cartoonists had rested. It’s interesting to see the once-regular Rubbish Man alongside two strips that were always mini-series. Perhaps this was how they’d get around having fewer pages for the large amount of characters readers wanted to see.

So, what about those showbiz scoops of Frank’s?

My favourite part of this is the difference between the Springsteen headline and what the story actually is; it’s very clever and very funny, reminding me of those headlines you’ll see from certain websites where every word has a capital letter. You know the type. Nice to see the Smokebusters still going strong after first popping up in #46 (and of course the special edition) and the huge headline on the cover is reduced to a tiny side panel with another hilarious non-story behind it all, aping the tabloid press of the day. (Of the present too.)

Elsewhere there’s a fantastic photo collage of Frank’s time recording a sketch for Saturday morning children’s TV show No.73. I loved that show and the page in question will be part of a special post later in the year. That’s all I’m going to say for now, other than it’ll be worth the wait. Back to the issue at hand and underneath a three-quarter-page Pete and his Pimple (backing up what I said for the last two issues about the return of a more varied layout to the comic) is the latest Cowpat County from Davy Francis.

Last week we had a full-page colour strip, now a quarter-page black and white mini-strip but fans wouldn’t have felt short-changed. This was the nature of OiNK; your favourites could pop up irregularly, in different formats from longer stories to quick gags such as this. It’s great to have that feel of the fortnightlies back again and to be enjoying it on a weekly basis. Davy is a master of the quick gag strips so that’s another reason I wasn’t disappointed to see Cowpat County in a much tinier space this time, because I knew I was guaranteed a good chortle.

The highlight of this issue for me is Jeremy Banx’s Burp. That shouldn’t be a surprise, I’ve never made a secret of the fact I’m a huge fan of Jeremy’s work, especially his strips for this particular smelly alien from outer space. But if you cast your mind back to the previous review, when I was delighted to see the return of Alvin and found the now-sentient coffin so funny, you’ll understand why this week’s strip was a particular thrill to read.

As always with Burp’s pages it’s very funny from the offset, giving us this surreal experience of a tax assessor coming to his UFO as if that’s a completely normal thing to happen in this man’s day-to-day working life. In fact, as he’s presented with ever more bizarre creatures he doesn’t run off as we’d expect, instead he just gets angrier, the “This is going to cost you, lad” response to the Pet Specimen from Uranus being a particular highlight.

It’s a great pay off that we didn’t even know we needed.

That surprise return is just one of three (well, more if you count his internal organs), having disappeared over the last several months. In earlier issues always seen dangling from Burp’s belt, here Jeremy even gives us an answer to where he’s been. In what must be one of Burp’s many inventions the specimen can now go anywhere he pleases, giving us a reason as to why he hasn’t been seen dangling. But it’s the other two characters I loved seeing again the most.

Alvin popping up again was a hoot, so certain was I that we’d seen the last of him (I’ve been wrong on that before, right regular readers?) but then to see the coffin, after I said how funny it would be to see these two even just hanging out in the background of future strips, is just hilarious! The coffin even has a name now. I know I’ve said this before but this is one of my very favourite Burp strips, but only because it works so well after reading all of the previous instalments. It’s a great pay off that we didn’t even know we needed.

Cherry-picking some other highlights from the issue I’m not sure how I feel about the word “crap” in The Slugs. While according to Uncle Pigg last week the audience for OiNK was changing from what was originally intended and it was always meant to be the punk rock of children’s comics, it was still a children’s comic. Can you imagine if Whizzer and Chips used this word? It’d have been all over the tabloids. So yes, I’m not sure how I feel about that. We’ll see how the comic evolves over the next while and come back to this I think.

Elsewhere, there’s a wonderfully dark yet silly moment as Billy the Pig continues his search for his rustled family, and in Tom Thug there’s a surprise return for big brother Ernie who first popped up seven days ago. This time he’s off for good though, when we find out he’s charged with being AWOL and in his final panel the character we’ve come to know for these two issues disappears completely! Speaking with Lew, he’d forgotten all about Ernie. He was never mentioned again, even in all the years Tom was a regular in Buster.

This is a phenomenal feat for someone still at school, to be writing so much for a mainstream comic.

Billy Bang, Brian Luck He’s Really Unlucky, a quiz called Are You a Compulsive Liar?, Transmogrifying Tracey, The Adventures of Death and a GBH Madvertisement all have one thing in common in this issue. They’re all written by Charlie Brooker. This is a phenomenal feat for someone still at school, to be writing so much for a mainstream comic. We obviously know of his incredible talent and genius comedic writing in later years but one look at this GBH Azid page and you can see even as a teenager he was already there!

This is simply a brilliant page, Charlie’s excellent script expertly brought to life by Eric ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson and his unique textured style. Obviously the OiNK editors saw something in the young Black Mirror creator to give him his first paying job in the first place, but with how many times I’m seeing his name already (I knew he contributed a lot to the later monthlies) it’s clear they were impressed with him from the offset and were asking him for more. This is becoming a fascinating look into the early career of one of my very favourite television writers.

We’ll stick with Charlie for one more strip I think and the return of The Adventures of Death, one of those favourite not-as-regular-as-you-remember regular characters. Death was in every edition for six issues to begin with but as Charlie’s repertoire expanded the Grim Reaper became one of several of his creations he had to split his time between. Remember folks, he was still at school! It appears he’s now becoming one of OiNK’s main contributors though. Personally, Death is still a favourite character after all theses years.

I found myself lingering on that penultimate panel. That’s genius comic timing in a comic strip. I can’t help but wonder if OiNK had continued on in this guise and lasted longer than it ultimately did, would Charlie have continued as a contributor, and more so would he have continued with a cartooning career? We’ll never know. What we do know is what Charlie did after OiNK’s eventual cancellation. He produced cartoon art for CeX before moving on to writing for PC Zone magazine, including a comic strip.

From here it was a natural progression into TV’s Games Republic, which led on to his writing for such shows as Channel Four’s The 11 O’Clock Show and the infamous Brass Eye paedophilia special. At the same time he created his TV review column Screen Burn for The Guardian. These career paths would culminate in Screen Wipe, a BBC series I adored and really miss. A phenomenal career which all began with our piggy pink publication.

Patrick’s reservation coupon rounds things off as usual and it’s been another fantastic read this week. I’m even getting used to the 24-page format. There’s more crammed in as the team get used to the frequency increase, so it taken longer to read than the first handful of weeklies. Great stuff. The next OiNK has one of the best covers of the whole run. If you thought what Lew Stringer did with the logo last week was something special, just wait ’til you see what he does with it in just six days on Friday 3rd March 2023. (1988 was a leap year, so we’re missing a day.)


The latest cover from Lew Stringer is one of my most memorable simply because of how inventive it is. Surely OiNK’s was one of the best comic logos ever created, right? Of course I could just be biased, but the logo co-editor Patrick Gallagher created always seemed so bold, so different and so joyful as a kid. It still gives me all the feels today. Tom Thug appearing behind a sea of ‘OiNK’s is a great idea and you can take a look at the original artwork and the overlaying of the logos in a post on Lew’s own blog from 2015 when it was up for sale.

On the Grunts page Uncle Pigg tells us how the audience reading OiNK is rather different from the one it was originally created for, apparently now mainly made up of teenagers and young adults. How he knew this I’m not sure yet but it’s a theme we’ll return to as we inch our way closer to the biggest change in OiNK’s life in the spring. For now let’s concentrate on the issue at hand and inside Tom had a page-and-a-half to cause chaos with and a cut-out mask on the back cover (which you’ll see in a future post) so he’s very much the star this week. His strip has a new guest star too, in the shape of his newly created brother.

Like all the best Tom Thug strips it moves into brilliantly scripted slapstick, only it’s not Tom who’s the main recipient of Lew’s penchant for comic violence this time. Well, apart from the front door, with that funny little detail of the wall going down to the brick from the force of Ernie’s entrance. We’d never see Ernie again but can you blame him for not wanting to return? It’s always fun to see their mum though, what with her being the complete opposite of everyone else in this little dysfunctional family.

“Today’s the day we discover the teddy bear’s graveyard.”

Burp, Jeremy Banx

Reading this now in this digital world we find ourselves in I can’t help but think, given Tom’s attitude towards the army and what he thinks his brother actually does, that our resident bully would definitely have a union flag or a football top as his Twitter profile avatar. Lew has said before Tom would definitely be a cowardly internet troll today. Also, is it just me or does Tom’s mum remind anyone else of their own mum in the 80s? It’s uncanny. Just don’t tell her I said that.

Moving on to Jeremy Banx’s Burp and I was delighted to find out I was wrong about having seen the last of a certain character. Back in #32 in a bid to fix a little girl’s broken teddy bear our friendly smelly alien mistakenly created sentient life. Puzzled by the toy’s lack of organs, skeleton, brain or in fact anything he thought this was the cause of the girl’s heartbreak, so he brought Alvin to life, only for us to see his owner tear him limb from limb in a game of doctor and patient. He returned in #46 and ended up sizzled like a well done steak.

It’s always fun to see another ludicrously-named gadget Burp just happens to have either lying around or invented, with appropriately hilarious results. Will Alvin reappear in the remaining issues that include Burp? Well I’m not going to try and answer that since I was so wrong last time, but given how some of his internal organs have become recurring characters I’d love to see the bear and the coffin pottering about in the background of his spaceship!

I showed the punchline from last issue’s Billy Bang and then realised I haven’t showed a full strip of Billy’s since way back in #4’s review when he was drawn by Shiloe (Viz’s Simon Donald). Nowadays Eric ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson has the duty of exploding the bad tempered lad every week and the puns, which had started to become a little repetitive, are now fresh and funny again thanks to a mixture of writers taking on the task. This week it’s the mysterious ‘Griffiths + Kane’. Also watch out for the facial expression of the fish in the water which I just love.

Billy’s original creator, Mike Knowles, even admitted he never thought the character would last because of the limited premise but he did, passed on to other creative teams as the comic evolved over time. This ever-shifting roster of talent defied odds again and again and he’d remain a regular all the way through to the end. Well, when I say “regular”, even before the reduction in pages (with #45) OiNK’s roster of regular characters was too big for any one issue.

While all other humour comics had a set amount of regular strips which would neatly add up to the amount of pages needed each issue, OiNK was (as always) different. It still had those strips which would appear every fortnight/week, but there were a load of characters that were still deemed regulars who didn’t appear all the time. It was always exciting when your favourites popped up and it kept things fresh, and if OiNK had continued for years and years I’m sure we would’ve seen the return of some of those absent from these weeklies so far.

Here’s a perfect example. Two strips we’d all agree were main OiNK strips. Horace Watkins continues with his ever-more-ridiculous spoof football drama, a strip which appeared in all but one issue. Then we have Cowpat County, which appeared in each of the first 14 issues (plus the preview) but as new characters were introduced it began to appear irregularly, sometimes every issue, sometimes there’d be a gap. Its length also became more fluid, appearing as mini-strips as well as full pages.

I don’t think any pig pal could argue this made Cowpat County any less of a regular strip, it was just the OiNK way of doing things. In fact, it’s been a while since we got a full page from Davy’s Farmer Giles and it’s an extra special treat to see one in colour, complete with what has to be described as a ‘classic’ joke, surely? Speaking of regulars though, the absence of The Sekret Diary ov Hadrian Vile Aged 8 5/8 Years is glaringly obvious! This is the first regular issue he hasn’t appeared in. Some good and bad news about that in a few issues’ time.

I’m sure we can all agree with the trouser press in this situation.

One of those characters introduced back in #15 which OiNK’s line up got a shake-up was Lew Stringer’s Pete and his Pimple. This issue sees the first of the reader suggestions for a solution to Pete Throb’s massive spot problem. First asked for in #45, these ideas came thick and fast for the rest of OiNK’s run, starting points for the majority of Pete’s strips to come. I’ve included this one here for two reasons. The first is simply because it’s the first one and I wanted to mark the occasion, the other is for its co-star, the trouser press. Read it, enjoy, and when you get to the final panel you’ll understand.

I’m sure we can all agree with the trouser press in this situation. (There’s a sentence I never thought I’d say.) The colouring might seem a bit odd on first glance but I think it works. There were a few pages which would feature two set colours on this thinner matt paper instead of the various grades we got even in black and white strips on the glossy pages (up to #35). A lot of traditional comics had examples of one colour being used to make certain pages stand out, usually red.

OiNK’s contemporaries like Buster and Whizzer and Chips had a lot less colour than OiNK despite being eight pages longer, and would still use the one colour to set some of those apart, but mainly they were in black and white. Billy Bang and Tom Thug also use just the two tones in this issue to produce the feel of a colour page. I think Wilkie does it best since he has a lot of water in his strip, and in Tom’s look closer and you’ll notice only the small tub of water and the inflatable ring are coloured. But the effect works, cleverly highlighting these items before they became part of the slapstick.

It was rare for Psycho Gran to get a full-colour strip. Fans are used to seeing David Leach’s gorgeous technicolour in her stories today in new digital and physical comics he releases now and again. Well, when I say we’re used to it, his artwork and colours never fail to wow us. In OiNK, her strips would be of varying length but always in black and white so it’s a lovely surprise to see her latest in colour, albeit limited due to the page stock (just wait until you see David’s colouring today). Also, for once, she’s acting in self defence and not inflicting her unique sense of humour upon others.

I’ll be covering the little old lady’s post-OiNK life later this year on the blog but in the meantime it’s a bit of a shock to realise that after this she’ll only appear in one more regular issue before the comic’s cancellation! She’ll also feature in this year’s Holiday Special and then in The OiNK! Book 1989 in which she has a few pages all to herself, some in colour. Apart from her very first appearance back in #15 it’s those pages to come I remember the most. So there may only be a few more times to enjoy her company in this read through, but I’m looking forward to those final ones!

If there was ever an OiNK cartoonist who liked to make sure readers got plenty of value it was Davy Francis. Some of the biggest laughs have come from the backgrounds in Davy’s strips, the incidental moments happening behind the main characters, the little gags squeezed into spaces usually left for scenery by others. While little one-off Mabel the Model doesn’t have as many as some of his previous, this particular one had me giggling with its nod to a favourite TV show.

Davy would of course elaborate upon the script in his art, and Mabel’s script was written by Hilary Robinson (2000AD, Mindbenders, The Worm: the longest comic strip in the world) who you can read all about on her page of the Women in Comics Wiki, including details of her scripts for 2000AD and what ultimately happened to that working relationship. Just like Davy (and myself), Hilary is a resident of Northern Ireland and I assume a friend of Davy’s, asked by him if she’d like to contribute to OiNK. Unfortunately, this would be her only contribution to the comic.

Another newsagent reservation coupon by co-editor Patrick Gallagher rounds off another review. I can confidently say last week’s issue (the celebratory 50th) wasn’t a fluke, OiNK really has settled into its weekly guise; it’s back to its random nature, as evidenced with Tom Thug’s larger than normal strip above most of all, some missing characters have popped back in and best of all, until it changes format again we have another 11 weeks of this to go! The next one of which will be reviewed in seven days on Saturday 25th February 2022. See you then.