Tag Archives: Patrick Gallagher


Since the last OiNK Holiday Special we’ve had a few other special editions of our favourite comic, with the OiNK Crash Edition, The OiNK! Book 1988 and the OiNK Smokebuster Special and now it’s time for the latest. The second big, thick Holiday Special really stands out on its glossy paper, after the paper stock changed for the regular comic in the past 12 months. This edition has 48 pages stuffed with prime pork and was released this week 35 years ago, announced on Patrick Gallagher‘s Grunts page of #56 by the sizzling bacon that was our editor, Uncle Pigg.

That same issue contained this promo drawn by Eric ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson full to the brim with terrible puns and a fishy take on Cliff Richard‘s summertime hit which was already 25 years old by this point, however it was still just as popular on radio station playlists this time of year. Watch out for a special bonus from Hadrian Vile after we’d just come to terms with his diary basically ending in the weekly, Weedy Willy getting some unexpected athletic workouts in, and there’s another one of those classic wordy Burp strips taking in the wonders of the universe in his inimitable style.

Also, for those long trips with the family there’s a superb board game by Frank Sidebottom, or if you prefer some quiet time you can try your hand at some OiNK puzzles to keep you (pork) scratching your head while taking a break from your loved ones on a lengthy trip to the loo, for example. The full review will be here in just two days, on Wednesday 29th March 2023. Get the sun tan lotion ready, it’s going to be a scorcher.


Lew Stringer brings us what would ultimately be his final OiNK cover, not that anyone knew this at the time of course. Tom Thug’s threat has the shine taken away by the good dog on the page with him, all of which could take our attention away from the fact the comic had gone back up to its pre-weekly (and pre-page-reduction) price of 35p. This made OiNK 7p more expensive than its Fleetway Publication peers, who also had 8 more pages. Today, I know this all sounds like it shouldn’t matter but back when most of us received 50p-£1 pocket money a week, this could make all the difference.

But inside OiNK still had plenty of content and to me it still truly felt like better value for money. There’s a wealth of reading material in this issue, including the conclusion to Tom’s Crude Crew story which began in Whizzer and Chips and carried into the two previous issues of OiNK, a superb middle page spread for Dibney World by Simon Thorp, a gorgeous Dead Fred strip (no really) and the return of a favourite character, albeit not in the form I was expecting. First up though, Hieronymous Van Hellsong’s prequel by Jeremy Banx steps up a gear.

As always with this character it’s deliciously dark humour at it finest. Beginning with the nameless executive for who death is just a hurdle to overcome, and then to see Van Hellsong kill himself in order to go to hell to chase down his contract is a bit of a shock. However, all of this dark, twisted humour is perfectly offset by that last panel and his silly realisation, taking us from the dark to the daft in an instant. It’s classic Banx.

“Dibney characters act out historical highlights of US history [such as] The Slave Trade, The Bay of Pigs Crisis [and] Watergate!”

Ron Dibney World, Simon Thorp

Dark humour was something we weren’t normally exposed to as kids and OiNK revelled in it. In fact, Jeremy Banx in particular did, with some hilarious moments in his Burp strips that involved over-the-top gore that was just so ridiculous we never saw it as gore in the first place. His first Van Hellsong mini-series finished with our hero being killed by a notorious butcher villain and turned into a string of linked sausages and used to swing away from the authorities. These were the perfect introduction to black humour for me and many pig pals.

Back in #53 future Viz editor Simon Thorp wrote and drew Outlet-by-the-Sea, a GBH Madvertisement of a shockingly poor holiday destination that poked fun at English seaside resorts. Now he’s back for another, this time a collaboration between GBH and Thomas Crook and it’s bigger and better. Not only is it a double-page spread in the middle of the issue, Simon is taking aim at the biggest and grandest of holiday resorts, Walt Disney World.

The rickety British Rail train is back from Outlet-by-the-Sea too. It must’ve been a favourite of Simon’s. I love the way the ‘Animation Complex’ is the smallest, least impressive building in the whole park which is a dig at Disney World’s priorities. Then we have the large golf ball-like Epcot spoof called ‘Mom’s Apple Pie World’ apparently made in Taiwan, which could either be a silly joke or could very well be making a statement for the older readers, take your pick.

It’s what’s inside this building that I find the funniest and most cutting. We live in the modern world of 2023 where American politicians of a certain type are trying to whitewash (literally) the teaching of American history, so to have something with such a wholesome name as ‘Mom’s Apple Pie World Heritage Trail’ have that list of attractions feels like a particularly contemporary joke. You can clearly see Simon’s later Viz work in its early stages here. I just love it.

Now it’s time to conclude one of our mini-series.

Of course Tom’s scheme had to backfire in spectacular fashion, he’s a bully and bullies always lose after all. So we begin this final episode of Tom Thug and his Crude Crew with the gang all assembled and ready for bovver for the very first time, but by the end of the page it’s already fallen apart and Tom ends up in a very familiar state. The key joke here, played out more than once, is how bullies are all essentially cowards and will always ensure they’re picking on those they believe are less capable of fighting back.

This backfires throughout and each time shows us why everyone loved Tom’s strip, especially when you’re a kid and may have had to deal with bullies yourself. From Braddock trying to steal some grub while Tom and Daisy panic because he hasn’t picked a “wimp” (guest starring Mauler Morrison again from #54), to the crew deciding an infant school is the perfect target, the message is clear. Finally, it’s probably a coincidence but that verbal noise “OWK!” Tom makes when he’s trampled on caught my eye because I see it alternatively as ‘OWK!’ and ‘OINK’!

Whatever name Charlie Brooker gave his chain-smoking victim of The Swinelight Zone has been changed to a more familiar one

This has been a simply brilliant series and I’m sad it’s over but there are plenty of laughs to come from Tom in future issues, particularly in the monthlies if memory serves. Sticking with this issue for now, in The Life and Times of Harry the Head (his first full-page since the weeklies began) we get a little behind-the-scenes look at the making of The OiNK! 45 record and whatever name Charlie Brooker gave his chain-smoking victim of The Swinelight Zone has been changed to a more familiar one.

You can see here that Steve Gibson’s name has been pasted in after the strip was completed. I asked Steve about this and he tells me he used to smoke at the time and fellow cartoonist Marc Riley (Harry the Head‘s creator and star of Snatcher Sam) hated that, so while he was doing some pasting work with the editors he changed this character’s name as a joke. Last week we learned how the OiNK editors played a little joke on Lew too. I love little in-jokes like these and it all adds to that anarchic OiNK feeling!

A humour strip about a zombie and his undead friends isn’t something you’d imagine having gorgeous artwork but Eric ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson really delivers this week with his latest Dead Fred. Written by Ken F Sutherland, like Harry above it’s not often we’d see Fred get so much space. This page shows he really was able to carry the larger format. Unfortunately though, instead of more full-page strips for the character this would actually be his penultimate story! One more in the second monthly issue to come and then he’d finally rest in peace.

Certainly the last thing I expected from a Dead Fred strip was what on the surface looks like a moving war story regarding the Battle of the Somme.

Of course we know all of this wartime storytelling, complete with art that in some panels wouldn’t look out of place in Commando, must be leading to a joke and we’re not let down. In fact, I think the serious nature of the majority of the strip makes the opening and closing panels all the more silly by comparison and, I’ll say it again, I think it’s gorgeous. Just a few pages later we reach the back cover and some more unique art that you would only have seen in OiNK, with the return (at last!) of Hadrian Vile.

We’ve had some special pages from the character before, such as guides to everything from orchestras to babies, holiday photo albums, school magazines, letters to Santa and even a map of Scotland. But for almost all of the first 50 issues we enjoyed his Sekret Diary entries and this was what he was known for. Now, after a five issue hiatus he’s back, with Mark Rodgers is writing and Ian Jackson is drawing Hadrian but the diary has been dropped in favour of a new series, Vidiots – or Hadrian Vile’s Interleckshual guide to Tellyvision (a one-off of which had appeared in #23).

Love those little caricatures of Mark and Ian! It’s great to see Ian back after he also seemed to take a break lately (apart from a couple of mini-strips). But knowing what’s to come it’s sad to know that apart from one monthly entry and another in the second OiNK Book, the diary series was for all intents and purposes finished. If OiNK had remained weekly perhaps we’d see it return as co-editor Patrick Gallagher told us about other characters that had left us.

Unfortunately, Ian seems to move on to pastures new for the most part after this series too, so let’s enjoy his work while we can. It would remain on the back page for six issues altogether, finishing in #61. I did miss the insights into his family life and these were a much quicker read than a full strip, but at the time I figured it was just a temporary series and the diary would return straight after. So I really enjoyed having something different from one of my very favourite comics characters ever to finish off each issue with. I intend to enjoy them all over again and this first one is a very promising start.

Another daft newsagent reservation coupon by Patrick rounds off our review and looking at the most recent weekly OiNKs you can see, even with eight pages less, how much more rammed with content they were compared to others, and just how varied that content could be from page to page, and issue to issue. A recipe for success if ever there was one, surely. We’ll touch upon what led to OiNK’s eventual fate in a future post but for now I’m really enjoying my weekly trip down memory lane.

But we’ve more to come before #57! Regular readers will remember we used to have ‘Coming Up’ posts before each issue, back when OiNK had actual Next Issue promos. Since turning weekly these were dropped (the comic didn’t have themes to promote after all) but in three days on Monday 27th you’ll see their return. Well, for one edition anyway, the second OiNK Holiday Special, the review for which will be up on Wednesday 29th March! After that, #57 will be here on Friday 31st March 2023. A busy week ahead! Great, isn’t it?


With the latest issue of OiNK comes the return of Hieronymous Van Hellsong in a prequel mini-series by Jeremy Banx. We’d been introduced to the character in the first half dozen weeklies as he tracked down his ultimate target, Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith. It all ended in tragedy as our hero was made into sausage links and used by the butcher to escape the pig police. (Jeremy is nothing if not original.) This prequel tale is the last story for Hellsong, introduced by a sobbing Uncle Pigg on the Grunts page.

I remember part of this story revolving around him being in the nude, but it doesn’t happen this week so the cover is rather confusing. But nevertheless it’s good to have him back. The same can also be said of The Kingdom of Trump, a name which conjures different images today. At the time it referred to a family with a name that meant nothing more than flatulence. Hmm, maybe some things haven’t changed.

As good as this is, the characters only appeared three times in OiNK, back here for the first time since #43 and as a full-colour page instead of a mini strip. As ever with his pages Davey Jones gives himself a silly name in the credits and fills the strip with lots of funny little details, like the doctor’s tools hidden behind his desk and what looks like a cameo by Smiffy of Bash Street Kids at the public flogging. It wouldn’t be a Davey strip without some awful puns too, and this has one of his best in that final panel.

Beginning in Whizzer and Chips of all places and then continuing into last week’s OiNK, Lew Stringer’s Tom Thug and his Crude Crew reaches its midway point, starting with Tom and a baby, finishing with the complete gang. Surely everyone in OiNKtown will now be quaking in their shoes? Well, not quite. From Tom’s misogyny backfiring (as it should) and the cliché of needing a punk compared to what he ends up with, to a mention of one of my favourite TV shows at the time of OiNK (I can remember laughing at that bit in particular), this one had it all.

I always like it when a character acknowledges they’re living in the pages of a comic, so ending with Tom not only looking directly at us but also acknowledging that his pathetic little gang won’t be able to cause bovver for a whole week, I find particularly funny. That juxtaposition between the panel of the completed gang which catches your eye as soon as you turn the page, and the penultimate one where they all have their excuses is brilliant. It emphasises the difference between how bullies present themselves and how they really are. Classic stuff.

Last week saw a rare thing occur in the history of OiNK when a whole issue went by without a trip to David Haldane’s Zootown. A staple from the very beginning, skipping only occasional issues, I’m very glad to see the loveable, human-esque animals haven’t become a casualty of the page count since going weekly, returning with another quick gag in mini-strip form. Just the one panel this week actually, but that’s all David needed to deliver a good laugh.

Such a shame their continued inclusion can’t be said of some of David’s other creations. In #52 we were told Rubbish Man would be back in a mini series soon (which ends up contained in one of the bigger monthlies) but sadly Hugo the Hungry Hippo seems to have had his fill of chowing down on cities around the world, Godzilla-style. Last seen in The OiNK! Book 1988, his last appearance in the regular comic was way back in #35! We’ll eventually get one more laugh from his insatiable appetite in the third Holiday Special next year, but for now it would seem he’s taking a much earned rest between meals.

Thankfully there are a handful of Laffie (or whatever they’ll be called) strips coming up on a weekly basis very soon

Back to the issue at trotter and Hieronymous Van Hellsong’s prequel begins with a few Beatles gags during the assassination that starts his adventure, and then in Burp’s strip is surely one of the best names created for a funny comic! Lew decided to end his Pete and his Pimple strip with a random little image that, as you can see, had nothing at all to do with the page. However, according to Lew, OiNK’s editors decided to have a little joke themselves and added that cheeky little arrow to it before publication!

The final panel below is from the end of the Billy the Pig serial which comes to a conclusion this week. I haven’t included any of it before now because sadly I just didn’t like it, which is a shock when I think of all those hilarious Laffie the Wonder Pig strips Tony and Chas brought us. But unfortunately Billy reads like any other children’s western adventure story but with pigs in the lead roles, with only the occasional joke added in, rather than being a humour strip.

Thankfully there are a handful of Laffie (or whatever they’ll be called) strips coming up on a weekly basis very soon to redeem this wonderful pairing of writer and artist.

For a strip that would be one of only three to survive beyond the final issue (becoming part of the merge with Buster) recently Weedy Willy has only been popping up occasionally and even then as a mini-strip. Back at the beginning he was mainly seen in full pages and, because of his move into Buster, my memory thought this was how it always was. Written by a variety of talent over the past couple of years, new writer Keith Forrest and regular Willy artist Mike Green have brought him back to full strength again.

Well, as full strength as the character could ever possibly be.

Only appearing in roughy half of the issues in total, Weedy Willy wouldn’t even be part of the final one before the merge, strangely enough. But when he did pop up he was always a highlight. Yes, he could be the butt of the jokes but it was never in a cruel way, it was just exaggerated silliness. Willy had accepted his lack of any form of strength, and the things he’d do to compensate (such as above) were always very funny. Sometimes he’d even get the upper hand over bullies thanks to not being able to do certain things and having to think his way out of situations. He was simply a brilliant character.

In the middle pages is the first poster we’ve seen in quite a while (Simon Thorp’s spoof movie posters were only ever one page in size, meant to be read rather than put on our walls). This is Dave Huxley’s third and final contribution to OiNK, the first being a poster of the Mona Li-sow, then he returned with The Hamformers in the previous Christmas issue. His final piece takes an icon of liberty, of the end of slavery and of welcoming immigrants… and turns her into a cheeky-faced butcher-cooking colossus.

I always felt the name ‘The Statue of Piggery’ didn’t read quite right. While that is an actual word meaning either “a farm where pigs are bred or kept” or “behaviour seen as characteristic of pigs in greed or unpleasantness” so it might make some sense, this is OiNK and its piggy puns don’t have to make sense. So I always thought ‘Piggerty’ was right there to use and would’ve sounded better, but oh well. Given the look on her face I’m not about to argue the point.

Such a shame Dave wouldn’t contribute to any of the remaining issues. In a later interview with Crikey! magazine he says he thinks he was hoping to make a career out of historical pig parodies, but attributes his lack of further posters or Madvertisements to the comic being cancelled. We’re still a long way off from that though, so I don’t know why this was it for his time with Uncle Pigg, but it’s been a blast anyway.

This has to be one of my favourites just because of how stupid it is!

Elsewhere in this issue is a cut-out mask of our aforementioned esteemed editor, Uncle Pigg. This was actually the last in a series which began on the back pages after the weekly calendar had been completed between #45 and #50. Why have I not shown any of them? I thought I’d wait and show you them all in a post of their own, so watch out for that later in the year when we’ve got some time to fill between the monthly OiNKs.

This has to be one of my favourites of co-editor Patrick Gallagher’s coupons, just because of how stupid it is! Next week there’s much more OiNK to enjoy. Three times as much actually. Alongside the regular 24 pages of the weekly comic pig pals would find the second 48-page Holiday Special on the shelves too. So watch out for the full reviews of both next weekend. First up, #56’s will be here on Friday 24th March 2023, the special on Sunday 25th. See you then!