Tag Archives: Ron Tiner

OiNK! #28: WHEN PiGS FLY

There are a lot of exciting and funny things on this cover, beginning with the main event of Superham as drawn by Ron Tiner. Look closer at the accompanying details for more laughs, such as the “Trouser Press” approval spoof of the Comics Code Authority, and OiNK‘s own version of DC Comics‘ logo from the time tucked away in the top corner. We’ll get to the Ham of Steel in a little bit, but there’s an announcement on the cover for the latest free gifts!

The last gifts given away by OiNK were the three parts of the gigantic poster calendar from the end of the previous year (check out #17 for the full product) and again we have three issues in a row with something extra tucked away inside. Unlike the cut-out postcards in #7 these are actual cards which can be easily removed and sent by readers. Each pair would be drawn by a different artist, beginning with Jeremy Banx.

I can remember taking a couple of these on holiday with me back in 1987 and definitely the Burp one. I can’t remember using them though, whether through forgetfulness or changing my mind and not wanting to send them away. Are postcards even a thing anymore when people can just check in on social media or send photos instantaneously back home? I’m not sure, but in the 80s these were a great idea and each one is a brilliant little gift in its own right. The next two issues will contain postcards by Lew Stringer and Ian Jackson, so make sure you check them out.

Back in the Valentine’s issue the Peanuts gang, namely Charlie Brown, Snoopy etc got renamed the Peabrains in a one-off (I assumed) strip complete with some spoof merchandise advertising. As I said at the time I was never a fan of the cartoon or newspaper strips but I still enjoyed OiNK’s version which was created by Patrick Gallagher. Surprisingly, the strip returns but this time Snooby is drawn by David Leach who was best known for Psycho Gran. Here, the little dog is daydreaming, something he was known for in the cartoon and which we’d see brought to life by his imagination. Sitting on top of his kennel he imagines being a heroic fighter pilot. But this is a strip by David Leach so expect the unexpected.

Well I did say that’s who David was known for, didn’t I? I’d forgotten all about this ending, although as soon as Snooby metaphorically took to the air it all came back to me. I’d like to think as a child I didn’t spot Psycho in the final panel until I’d read the full strip because the reveal of the jet itself is so brilliantly drawn and her grin at the end just hilarious.

Alongside the captions the images tell a different, highly exaggerated version of the same events

In 1987 Superman IV: The Quest For Peace had just been released in cinemas and, while not the most successful of the franchise, its marketing was surely everywhere, making him a big, timely target for OiNK. Mark Rodgers took on writing duties for Superham and cover artist Ron Tiner returns for the three-page strip itself. It all kicks off on familiar territory, the narrative captions keeping surprisingly true to the tale of the lone refugee from an alien world movie goers were all too familiar with.

However, alongside those captions the images tell a different, highly exaggerated version of the same events and this is where the laughs come from. The story continues with highlights of Superham’s fight against evil, including a brilliant panel depicting him flying faster than the speed of light. So fast in fact he breaks through time itself and comes upon a spectacular sight. I won’t ruin the surprise because it’s on that third page we get the big punchline.

This is classic Mark, with a very funny twist in the tale and the ever-perpetuating series of events brought on by the “stupid rhinoceros” of a superhero. I’ll admit the recent movies did little to endear me to the inspiration behind this spoof, but with a much more entertaining version of the character taking pride of place on BBC One’s Saturday teatime schedule again this feels like another timely read for this funny take on the original superhero. Great stuff.

I say well done to the OiNK team for printing this page and standing up to the bullies!

The next page is as unique as you’ll find in any of our childhood comics. Back in #7 a strip called Janice and John and the Parachute Jump appeared which has (incorrectly) gone down in history as making a bigger furore than it did; it’s even been written that it was the reason behind OiNK’s cancellation 61 issues later, which is just ridiculous. Yes, an official complaint was made with The Press Council who looked into the story in question. The complaint was dismissed in the end but OiNK wasn’t about to just let this moment pass, as you can see with the following page.

I can’t remember reading this as a child so I haven’t a clue what I made of it, but nowadays it reminds me of working in BBC Complaints and the amount of people who’d want an entire series cancelled because they personally didn’t want their licence fee paying for it (never mind the millions who watched it and were also paying their licence fee), or the myriad of Daily Mail comments Dave Gorman would use to great effect in his Modern Life is Goodish TV show. Even today in the UK and America we have books and comics being banned all in the name of “freedom” without a hint of irony.

So I say well done to the OiNK team for printing this page and standing up to the bullies! It’s refreshing and damned funny in its own right, especially how it can’t help but stir things up a little more with that final gag at the bottom referencing a non-existent next chapter. Janice and John would return in a story about a thermonuclear reactor though, as promised at the end of #7’s story. That wouldn’t be seen until #41, possibly held back until the outcome of the complaint was known and the whole thing was in the past.

I don’t think any other comic would’ve been this brave and I commend the editors for deciding to do this. Recently, Helen Jones very kindly sent me a wonderful package containing the original complaints and responses including those from The Press Council and IPC’s John Sanders. They’re a fascinating read and will be on the blog soon. A famous moment from OiNK’s history but one which very few seem to accurately write about. I hope I can help set the record straight.

Moving on for now and another superstar of the comics world joins the sty as Mike Higgs draws Infamous Failures of Aviation, written by Lew Stringer.

It’s a cracker script by Lew (or ‘Biggles’) and Mike’s work really stands out, his style easily identifiable to anyone familiar with his strips elsewhere. Mike was best known for creating The Cloak in 1967 for Pow!, as well as bringing his unique artwork to Space School and Thundercap for Whizzer and Chips and Buster respectively. He (and The Cloak in particular) was a big influence on Lew when he was creating his Combat Colin character for Action Force comic.

Lew worked as Mike’s assistant in the early 80s for a range of children’s books and they became good friends. When OiNK came along Lew suggested bringing Mike back to comics for the first time in years to co-editor Mark Rodgers. This was his first appearance in the comic and he’d be back another eight times. Even though he’s better known for appearing in more traditional titles, there was never anything traditional about his work. As such, I think he’s a perfect addition to Uncle Pigg’s team and I look forward to seeing what else he brings to future issues.

Writer Graham Exton (whose name I haven’t seen mentioned in the fortnightly in several months) and artist Davey Jones produced another funny little OiNK mini-strip but this one is a little special because Davey has previously shared an original rough sketch by Mark Rodgers as well as his own thoughts on his finished product. I saved this away for future reference and it’s nearly time to share this little insight into the creation of OiNK. I say nearly because it deserves its own post so watch out for that in the days after this review.

Mike Higgs’ son also makes an appearance this issue, sort of, in a scrawled shout out on an office desk in Lew’s Pete and his Pimple as the young Mr Throb dreams of being the high-flying Captain Pimply superhero. Smelly alien Burp isn’t being anywhere near as daring at the beginning of his strip though. More classic highlights to long-running OiNK favourites.

Our heroic Wonder Pig is back again with another name change, another ill-fated attempt at heroism and it all kicks off when his owner falls down another pit. Lashie the Wonder Pig is written by Tony Husband and drawn by Chas Sinclair and it’s this repetition of events which makes it so very funny indeed. In fact, this issue’s strip will be all the funnier if you’ve read the one I included in the highlights to #18. So go read that first and then come back here to read this next strip. Go on then!

This is a great way of parodying the TV series and movies of a certain Border Collie and their own repetitive nature. But just like Lassie‘s fans didn’t mind, our own Lashy (well, that’s the spelling for now anyway) also had fans who craved the same things happening again and again. The more strips that appeared the funnier these got. They wouldn’t appear too regularly, if they had maybe we would’ve grown tired of the formula but as such their semi-regular surprise appearances were always a hit.

Our flying special comes to an end with news the next issue is a ‘Mirthful Musical Issue’. Regular readers may be thinking this is a repeat of the subject from #16 but that issue was all about the world of pop music, our next one takes in the whole of the musical world and nothing is off limits. Think of the difference between #6‘s ‘Animal Crackers Issue’ and #27‘s ‘Big, Soft Pets Issue’. There’s even going to be a very special appearance from a famous post-punk band in a photo story, so it’s definitely not to be missed.

So save your bookmarks, follow on socials or sub to the blog so you’ll get notified on Monday 30th May 2022 of the latest OiNK review!

OiNK! #20: BAY OF PiGS

As with the crime theme in OiNK #14 (my first ever issue), having a humour comic based around war may seem odd at first. But pig pals and regular readers of this blog will know we had nothing to fear because as per usual the team grabbed the subject with both hands, and actually have created one of the best issues yet. It kicks off with Eric (Wilkie) Wilkinson‘s brilliant front cover featuring parachuting pigs sneaking up on enemy trenches during World War One. I always liked Wilkie’s art style, it was unique and had a real texture to it.

He continues the story inside with a double-page spread as soon as we open the issue. The Forgotten Heroes tells the tale of a British regiment in their last desperate days before being overrun by the enemy. A cunning plan is developed to fly hundreds of soldiers over the enemy and parachute down for a successful surprise attack. But not just any soldiers, the army were going to use pigs! This is a brilliant spoof of the kind of strips we’d have seen in Battle or today in Commando comic, but beware the horrifying twist in the tale (tail).

I definitely didn’t see that coming, not in the pages of this comic that’s for sure. While clearly as pig pals we should feel sorry for how it all ended it’s a very funny picture to see the pile of sausages with the posthumous medal on top. Although, it could be argued the strip was also making a point about the pointlessness of war, something Mr Big Nose certainly shouts about later in the issue, as you’ll see below. Wilkie only joined OiNK last time and he’s already making a name for himself with original, clever and most importantly very funny strips.

In recent years to be a geek has become very chic. It wasn’t always the case of course. I was fortunately never bullied for reading comics back in my later years in grammar school, there was just some good natured ribbing. That’s not to say others didn’t have to put up with narrow-minded kids trying to have a laugh at their expense. For all those comics fans Lew Stringer created Specky Hector, the Comics Collector, a stereotypical comics fan who in this case gets the upper hand over the bully in typical Lew fashion.

Hector would only appear one more time in the pages of OiNK in a special guide to collecting comics but he would pop up occasionally in the pages of Buster after OiNK folded. As recent as 2020 he also appeared in the Battle special from Rebellion when this strip was reprinted in colour. Then, just last year Lew brought us a little update on Hector in a special piece of art commissioned to raise money for the War Child charity, and you can check it out for yourself by reading the blog post.

There isn’t a single panel here without a genuine laugh-out-loud moment

Davey Jones is synonymous with Viz comic and his contributions to OiNK were always manic, packed to the page edges with jokes, sight gags and the zaniest plots imaginable. There are three of his larger strips in particular which from memory are not only clear highlights of the issues they were published in, but of the entire OiNK series. The first of which in here. Called Bridge Over the River Septic it’s the (nearly) true story of a British army camp in Africa during the Second World War and their brave plan to capture a Nazi base positioned across the dangerously named river.

Of course, in the end the river is a quaint little jungle stream, complete with a delicately decorated bridge. There isn’t a single panel here without a genuine laugh-out-loud moment, whether it’s the looney plotting, the stark-raving mad general of the British troops, the caricatures of the enemy, or the multitude of background gags that surely must be a tip of the hat to the legendary Tom Paterson. (Keep an eye out for the factory in the background.)

My two favourite bits here (there are many) is that aforementioned factory and the brilliantly named General Von Manwenttomow! When signing his larger strips Davey would often label himself in soft daft way, sometimes even making a joke of his allegedly terrible writing talents. But his genius can’t be mocked. Starting off pretty insane, somehow Bridge Over the River Septic keeps building on this, getting zanier with each scene. It may only be a page-and-a-half but it’s so full of jokes it feels far longer. I mean that in a good way of course; there’s just so much packed into this space.

Other highlights include regular characters being inspired by the events of war, like Tom Thug building himself a wooden tank and Hadrian Vile assembling his own army against the local school bully. There’s a poster depicting a Wild West battle between pigs and butchers and The Golden Trough Awards parodies The Great Escape which you can see a couple of panels of below, next to part of a spread called Famous Last Words!

I’m sure most of you will at least have heard about the story King Solomon’s Mines or its central character, Allan Quartermain, seeing as how the classic book by H. Rider Haggard has been adapted into several movies, comics, television shows and radio plays. The movie I remember enjoying on Saturday afternoon TV was the tongue-in-cheek adaptation starring Richard Chamberlain, Sharon Stone and the ever-brilliant John Rhys-Davies. It was released in 1985 and a year later OiNK saw it as the perfect target for the next multi-issue epic.

Written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by Ron Tiner, King Solomon’s Swines is a five-part serial and the first such strip to be drawn by someone other than J.T. Dogg. Ron’s style suits the story perfectly and to me brings a certain Tintin feel, which of course is exactly right for this story of a lost temple. The lead character is renamed Sir Herbert Quarterbrain and he takes his niece and nephew with him, who end up victim to all of the traps as the explorer himself remains unscathed. Here’s chapter one, called The Temple of Gloom, an obvious spoof on a similar style of movie series.

Funny names, clumsy sidekicks, pig-themed relics and the ignoring of all the danger signs as heroes in these stories often do, it’s a good start. It also stands out in this issue for another reason. I’ve mentioned before how most, but not necessarily all of the contents of each OiNK would follow the theme, some issues more than others. The obvious Christmas issue aside, this war theme seems to be the one that’s really got the creative juices flowing because King Solomon’s Swines is the only strip in the whole issue that breaks from the subject (the serials always did, for obvious reasons).

It’s one of those pages you could show to someone by way of describing exactly what OiNK was

Continuing right to the very last page, the back cover has a little moral tale for the young readers. The year after this in 1987 I received the 50th anniversary book for The Dandy and Beano. A large portion of it was dedicated to the comics during wartime and it was a fascinating read to see how they not only survived those years, but how they kept the children company. They contained rousing little tales of heroism among children which would connect with the readers of the 1940s, relating the ongoing war to them in ways they could understand.

OiNK decided to have a go at one of these. The result is Jim and Joe, A moving tale of War and Friendship. Drawn by Chas Sinclair it’s sung to the tune of ‘Two Little Boys’, but even if you can’t place that tune in your head it’s still a great laugh and a perfect end to the issue. In fact, it’s one of those pages you could show to someone by way of describing exactly what OiNK was, and why it was so adored by so many of us in the 80s.

That may be the final page but it’s not the last word on this issue. Before we get to that, I just have to say this has been a brilliant issue. With all but one of the strips keeping to the subject, while being so completely different to each other, it really shows the dynamic range of talent OiNK’s editors Mark Rodgers, Tony Husband and Patrick Gallagher had been able to assemble. It feels like the most confident issue to date and with some of the best themes yet to come it bodes very well indeed for some hilarious reading throughout 2022.

The next review will be of the Valentine’s Special and that’ll be here on Monday 7th February, but I’ll just dip back inside this issue for that last word I mentioned, in fact the last word on war in general, and it’s from Jeremy Banx and his Mr Big Nose.

OiNK! #14: THE BEGiNNiNG

So this is an exciting review for me. This was the first issue of OiNK I ever read back as a kid. Not only that, this was the first ever comic I could call my own. While my brother and sisters had been reading the likes of The Beano, Bunty and Look-In this was the first comic bought specifically for me, after I saw this funny Jeremy Banx cover in the newsagent. But it was a certain page inside which made me recognise this as my first issue when I did my last read through and we’ll get to that below.

But once I knew this fact the memories came flooding back, like seeing the cover for the first time and being introduced to my first OiNK spoof, The Unprofessionals. Based on the iconic television show, my dad and brother used to watch it all the time so I was fully aware of it and thought this was such a funny take on it. I’m sure I must’ve showed it to them. Drawn by Ron Tiner (The Hotspur, Battle Action, Hellblazer) if there had been an official comic based on the show some of these caricatures wouldn’t have looked out of place.

It’s a lovingly crafted spoof and superbly highlights the over-the-top violence of the series but in a funny, kid friendly way. Ron would go on to contribute to 16 issues of OiNK including two further parody serials based on Sherlock Holmes and King Solomon. I didn’t know comics did this kind of thing. Of course, they didn’t really, OiNK was a unique entity and a trendsetter! Being a fan of Spitting Image at the time (my brother watched it and we shared a room, I didn’t really understand what was going on but I found it funny) this really appealed and was a big reason I wanted to read more OiNK.

Marc Riley’s appearances as Snatcher Sam were always highlights of the issues he appeared in.

Crime might seem like a strange topic for a kids’ comic, but Mary Lighthouse and her real world counterpart had nothing to worry about, the message was very clear that crime doesn’t pay. Criminals and bullies met their comeuppance in highly imaginative ways throughout, and in once case a thief actually came good and became a private detective. That thief was of course Snatcher Sam, as portrayed by Marc Riley. This being my first encounter with him I was unaware of his dodgy past but that didn’t make this any less funny.

Marc’s appearances as Sam were always highlights of the issues he appeared in, though I was surprised to find out the character only appeared in nine of the editions I owned as a child (and only 16 altogether). I could’ve sworn he was in almost every single one, but perhaps I just reread them a lot! People sometimes doubt me when I say this comic still makes me laugh but if any proof was needed the second panel on the second page had me roaring.

A character who had been a regular in the early issues but whose appearances had reduced by this stage was Maggie Pie, Collector of Weird Things, a young girl with an obsession of finding new things to collect no matter how weird, random or disgusting. Always written by Tony Husband and drawn by Clive Collins (Punch, Reader’s Digest and Life Vice-President of The Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain) her earlier strips were a bit hit-and-miss with me personally but this one gave me a good old giggle.

Maggie appeared in just ten issues but that did include the first annual and many remember her as a regular, maybe because it looked like she was going to be one at the very beginning when she appeared in nearly every issue. Clive would return a few more times, most memorably for some brilliant Walt Disney parodies where he mimicked their comic characters perfectly.

This was the first appearance of Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith!

This issue also introduces another semi-regular character. After the skeleton staff accidentally let butchers into the pages of the comic while Uncle Pigg was on holiday in #8, Jeremy Banx began a series of Butcher Watch Updates with various exaggerated butcher caricatures, each more menacing than the last. While they all seemed to like their jobs a little too much, one stood out enough that he’d return now and again as the nemesis of anthropomorphic pigs everywhere. This was the first appearance of Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith! A small part of the issue this time around, he’d soon ascend to become a menace we’d all love to hate.

Other highlights also include Ian Knox‘s background animals in Roger Rental, He’s Completely Mental, Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins is being set up for something and the hidden evidence is just ridiculous and in Tom Thug the bullying pillock faces his own nemesis, a victim’s big sister.

Regular blog readers will no doubt remember the insane amount of puns written by Graham Exton for Fish Theatre in the animal-themed #6 from a few months back. Of course, depending on how well you received those puns you may have tried to blank it from your memory! I was a big fan though, in fact the more groans a pun can produce the better. Graham said he used up enough puns for several scripts on that one page, just giving himself more work in the long run. Well, it appears he hasn’t learned his lesson.

Graham has decided to revisit the idea with Agadoo (push a pineapple?) Christie’s Murder in the Orient Express Dining Car, a murder mystery where all the characters are vegetables, drawn by Ian Knox. It might not contain puns in every single panel this time around but that doesn’t mean the volume is any more bearable. Just to make sure you don’t miss a groan, each pun is even underlined.

If you can peel your eyes away from that overload of gags the next two highlights confirmed for me this was my first issue. I had the huge three-part poster calendar up on my walls as a kid and with the first part being given away free with #15 I knew I had to have started reading OiNK by that stage at least. But this half-page promo for it rang a big bell in my head. I remember seeing this little corner of part one and being excited my second issue was going to have such an exciting gift.

I’ve been able to collect the whole calendar again and it now takes pride of place on the wall of my home office inside which I write this very blog. It’s right behind me as I type in fact, in the perfect position for FaceTime calls. With the next three issues I’ll show you the part that came free and then the complete calendar afterwards. Even after all these years it’s a sight to behold, thanks to Ian Jackson‘s brilliant take on Mount Rushmore, Mount Rushboar.

This next page was conclusive proof this was my first issue. When I did my previous read through seven years ago this was the first page I recognised from any of the early issues. I did a little research to make sure it wasn’t reprinted later in the run and lo and behold it wasn’t, so here we are! You Are The Detective is a riff on the Cluedo board game, complete with suspects and a murder weapon. All the reader had to do was match the cause of death to the suspect. The only thing is, it looks like figuring out something as simple as the weapon isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Hilariously drawn by Mike Roberts (who I explained was a big part of my teen years in #10’s review) it’s a brilliant piece with a great puzzle to work out. There is an answer there. You just won’t get it. As a kid I spent forever trying to figure this out, determined I wouldn’t look at the answer until I got it myself. I remember lying in bed with the lamp on, still awake late on a school night no less, eventually giving up and checking the answer later in the issue. Needless to say I laughed and then couldn’t believe I’d missed it!

Try to work it out for yourself. The answer is further down this review but the punchline will be so much funnier if you give it a go first. No peeking!

With this being my first issue it was also my first exposure to all of OiNK’s art styles. I’d always assumed most humour comics had similar styles. That was certainly the impression I got when I browsed through my brother’s Beano and Dandy annuals every Christmas. OiNK was an explosion of fun by comparison! Even when it came to its final page, the back cover still had so much to give with the brilliant The Hold-Up written by Mark Rodgers and so expertly crafted by Ian Jackson.


“Some shops think OiNK is so clever that they won’t display it with the kids’ stuff!”

Uncle Pigg in reaction to W.H. Smith

To be exposed to Ian’s style at such a young age was an incredible experience for pig pals, I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this. But to have this as my first issue and then his huge poster straight after, well I know it’s a cliché to say it but it blew my little mind. This was the best possible sign off from the first time I had a comic all to myself.

Before we go there’s the little matter of the solution to the puzzle, which was found under the newsagent reservation coupon which took a dig at W.H. Smith who by this time had top-shelved OiNK after a couple of parents had complained about a strip. You can read all about this silliness in the review to #7.

Above this was the Next Issue promo and the main event was going to a certain Ham Dare, Pig of the Future. I’ll show you that promo box before the next review as always but for now that’s it, my trip back to a very special moment in my life is complete. I’d buy the next issue and then place a regular order, staying with the comic all the way through to the final issue.

The next issue will be reviewed on Monday 15th November 2021, however next Monday the 8th there’ll be a special post to mark the actual anniversary of my reading this issue. I hope you’ll join me then to mark the occasion.