Tag Archives: Simon Thorp


You may have noticed the weekly OiNK reviews have shifted from Saturdays to Fridays this month. Just in case you were wondering why, this is simply because back in 1988 February had 29 days, one more than we had this year. So the shift to a day earlier is to keep things aligned to the original publication dates, which is the whole point of this site after all.

That’s a lot of praise from some surprising sources on the cover. Towards the end of the fortnightlies some clippings were sent in by readers. It might seem like this took a long time but in the pre-internet days and the way comics and magazine deadlines work, it would take time for the comic to make an impact, be reviewed, have those reviews printed, then clipped, pasted into the comic and in turn published in OiNK. This issue’s cover decided to sum up previous as well as showing off new ones.

I like the fact it includes some not-so-flattering praise, that little “R.I.P.” being a funny little dig too. The Press Council quote is part of their ruling over the famous complaint placed against the comic which I’ve mentioned before and I’ll take a closer look at soon. As for the banner along the top, perhaps it was the Charlie Brooker Prize? Haha. Always nice to see an Ian Jackson cover and I remember the quotes and clippings pleasing me greatly as a kid because it surely meant OiNK was a huge success and would be around forever. It’s hard to comprehend there are only 14 regular issues left.

Unknown to us at the time, a page inside signalled an upcoming change that would ultimately lead to OiNK’s demise.

Reading over the survey there are a lot of silly questions and answers, it wouldn’t be OiNK without them after all, reading almost like a spoof survey, but it’s not. The fact there’s nowhere to write in whether the readers wanted it to change to a monthly or not had me thinking this decision was already made. Perhaps the writing was on the wall and this was an attempt to save the comic, worded in such a way to make it seem like it was the choice of pig pals. But I was wrong, for the most part anyway.

“Accept others as they are”

Lew Stringer, Pete and his Pimple

Co-editor Patrick Gallagher tells me, “Our survey, which you refer to, was genuine and not having a designated space for that final question was an error, though the readers used their noggins and scribbled their answers in any available space! And yes, I think it was Fleetway‘s intention to go monthly as it had been to go weekly, from what I can remember, which I didn’t mind – though I can’t remember at the time thinking the writing was on the wall. I think sales were down across the board but OiNK’s figures weren’t the worst – it was the other comic’s figures that dragged it down. In the meantime [the survey was] checking the audiences’ opinions, which may have had some sway.”

Moving on for now and this issue may have been published in 1988 but this week’s Pete and his Pimple feels rather contemporary. Lew Stringer brings his rhyming strip skills to the fore once again in the tale of Johnny Bigot. It’s a wonderfully funny page with a message of “accept others as they are”; a strong message where we laugh at the bully of course, which is very typically OiNK and Lew. It’s a good life lesson and of course the whole basis of Lew’s Tom Thug character. In a world where people like Johnny seem to have louder voices than ever I find this strip rather cathartic.

If this were printed today, the Johnny Bigots of the world would probably scream and shout that OiNK was indoctrinating their children to hate others (irony isn’t their strong point), or that it was full of political correctness in a children’s comic. Nonsense of course, but I just think of this and laugh when I see such things online now and I heartily recommend it. Let’s all figuratively burst our pimples at them and let them sow the seeds of their own demise. Reading funny comics is much more fun anyway.

(On a separate note, as a good friend once said to me, it’s not about being “politically correct”, it’s just about being the second word in those quotes.)

Speaking of laughing at the bullies let’s take a look at Lew’s other famous creation, Tom. Two days after the previous issue of OiNK our resident thicko appeared in a half-page strip in sister title Whizzer and Chips to promote his own comic to their readers. In that story, after failing to join the gangs of either Shiner or Sid, he threatened to form his own in the pages of OiNK, creating a unique crossover for a humour comic where a story started in a different title. Below is the first of what would actually be a three-part mini-series called Tom Thug and his Crude Crew.

On the one hand you could ask why it’s taken Tom this long to think about having a gang, what with him often ending up in the state he’s in at the start of this strip. But then again he’s a bully so he’s not the brightest. I did laugh at the depiction of the bigger bully and how it takes Tom so long to finish his sentence (not until he’s conscious again in hospital). Then it takes him six months to get out! Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fryer. This story will continue over the next couple of weeks and I’m eager to see who he selects next as my ol’ memory cells have long forgotten.

Elsewhere in this issue we get another Mary Lighthouse strip. That’s two in as many issues, we’re being spoiled. With my fascination with all things Ancient Egypt I just had to include this little highlight below as she regales us with tales of her family tree. Then, the Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins strip continues its football serial, and as you can see co-editor Tony Husband has taken the already ludicrously far-fetched football serials in other comics and newspapers of the day, and spoofed them perfectly with this ridiculous tale.

One page that’s usually guaranteed to be a highlight of each issue is Frank Sidebottom’s. Recently he’s moved away from strips (they’ll return, we never knew what to expect from one issue to the next) and was instead informing us of some very funny showbiz gossip. These pages included intricate background art and lots of text to keep us giggling along for a good few minutes but this issue’s page seems a bit ‘off’, like it feels a bit rushed.

The first thing that struck me was how large his writing is, much bigger than usual so it took no time to read; the two usual non-stories here would’ve normally taken up about half the page, if that. The background isn’t his usual detailed standard either, looking instead like a few squiggles quickly thrown together to give it come colour. What is here is classic Chris Sievey and very funny, but I’m just left wanting more and that hasn’t happened before. Then again, he was an extraordinarily busy man to also be producing a weekly comics page!

The back cover was certainly not rushed. Here we find another spoof movie poster drawn by Simon Thorp from a brilliant script by co-editor Mark Rodgers. In 1987 the Masters of the Universe movie starring Dolph Lundgren and Frank Langella had been released and flopped. The 80s saw rules against toys being made into cartoons and the like relaxed, giving birth to mega franchises based on action figures etc. This was one such example. The fact these toys were being created as franchises instead of just playthings wasn’t lost on Mark and Simon.

This definitely went some way to making up for the two hours of my life I wasted watching the film. There are so many piggy puns in there, make sure you read the smaller credits at the bottom under that lavish movie title. The longer you look at this the more little sight gags you can spot as well, such as the GBH ‘Mussel’ to go with the GBH ‘Muscle’ and the fact one of the characters’ legs has fallen off like a cheap action figure. Brilliant, memorable stuff which rounds off the issue perfectly.

One thing that did stick out with this issue was the lack of Hadrian Vile. In fact, he hasn’t been seen since #50. With the weeklies having less pages we’d become somewhat used to characters popping in and out, but missing from three issues in a row, for a strip that’s been in every single edition since #1? A character who was a huge fan favourite and whose diary was a highlight of every single issue he was in? It also meant a lot less from Ian Jackson too, which is always a shame, his work epitomising OiNK.

Clearly Patrick is needing a bit of a rest after another busy week putting together the issue so we’ll leave things there for now. There’s a lot to enjoy in the weeks ahead, even if this issue seems to have left me wanting a little bit, with the obvious lack of a favourite and a rushed page or two. But last week was one of the very best OiNKs of them all and what’s here in #54 is still great, so onwards and upwards. Don’t forget the reviews will be coming at you every Friday from now on, so join me here Friday 17th March 2023 for #55 and a couple of days later for the next crossover comic!


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.


In 1986 OiNK’s timing was impeccable when it came to the spooky season and the relevant issue ended up being #13. A year later another happy coincidence saw the release date of the 40th issue as Saturday 31st October, perfect for their second Hallowe’en special. Kicking things off is the triumphant return of Ralph Shephard (not seen since #23 and who wouldn’t be again until the second annual), an artist who drew so many great spoofs of childhood favourites in the early days of the comic. What an incredible cover this is!

Ralph’s bewitching front page is a fondly remembered classic, a gorgeous piece which takes advantage of the little bit of extra space the new smaller logo gives, and that background colouring effect is just beautiful, adding plenty of atmosphere and really making it stand out on the shelves. (It’s also the second cover in a row for Harry the Head.) From now on we’d get one banner along the top instead of several, the cover images no longer needing gaps. I think it makes for a bolder, clearer cover for the rest of the fortnightlies.

For me the stars of this issue are the smaller mini-strips; there are just so many of them this time out and every one is a cracker. This does make my job of select only a few choice highlights incredibly difficult of course but it’s a nice problem to have. On the inside front cover is Roger Rental, He’s Completely Mental as ever drawn by Ian Knox, now written by new OiNK scribe Vaughan Brunt.

May has passed away in recent years and it’s been nice to relive memories of reading OiNKs at her house

It’s strange to think how tiny little strips like this, with just two panels and two lines of dialogue, can stick in the brain for decades to come. This one certainly went on to do just that. Then again, Roger was such a memorable character. Ever since his first appearance in #3 all his strips have been genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, the premise letting the writers’ imaginations run completely wild. The job of writing Roger’s ability to turn any everyday situation into the complete opposite was in good hands with Vaughan.

This issue is very memorable for me as a whole, I can remember reading it over and over again that Hallowe’en and in particular at my Aunt May’s house, a lovely lady who wasn’t actually related but was my mum’s best friend and so got the honorary title of ‘Aunt’. May has passed away in recent years and it’s been nice to relive memories of reading OiNKs at her house (see also #37). This strip of The Adventures of Death I can remember giggling about while tucking into the plate of biscuits and juice May had brought out while I read.

Charlie Brooker’s Death was a great little character and a firm favourite from the moment he first appeared. Having been the star of the half-page Next Issue promo in the previous issue I was surprised to see he wasn’t given more than a quarter page here, but that’s all the space Charlie needed. Both young me and older me loved this particular entry. I am aware of how it might seem, describing how this particular character brings back a specific memory of a late friend, but I also think there’s some kind of lovely poetry about that.

Not something Charlie would’ve considered about the character when he created these strips I’m sure. The Adventures of Death is the perfect OiNK twist on a traditional comic character. We’d had fun monsters before in other comics but to turn the Grim Reaper himself into a funny little character like this is very much in keeping with the comic’s ethos. We loved him! Unfortunately, unbeknownst to his fans this was his last regular appearance after first appearing in #35. He’d pop back for just six more sporadically over the next year.

Another character perfectly suited for the theme is Dead Fred, the friendly undead zombie created by Eric Wilkinson (Wilkie). He contradicts my previous comments about memory though, because I thought he was a regular in nearly every issue, but instead he only rose up from the grave every now and again. Maybe he was comfy down there. But he couldn’t miss the Hallowe’en issue. I’ve only shown a couple of panels of his before so he’s well overdue for a full strip, one which reminds me of the attendant at the Ghost Train in Barry’s Amusements in Portrush as a child!

Just like Death, Fred would appear in twelve issues altogether although his were spaced apart in the expanse between #19 and #64, which boggles my mind. I know I did reread many of my OiNKs throughout the time it was being published and that must’ve messed up my memories somewhat. I always loved Wilkie’s art in Fred’s strips, his detailed textures conveying rotting flesh, clothes and bones perfectly. Under any other artist I don’t think the jokes would work quite as well, the contradiction between his friendly nature and his rotting corpse are what makes it funny.

What a delight to turn the page and see a J.T.Dogg (Malcolm Douglas) poster. It’s been far too long since we enjoyed those OiNK Superstar Posters of his in the very first issues so it was a lovely surprise to see this ‘Superswine’ poster of an OiNK take on the classic Dracula, complete with his own Hell Hog? The colouring here is as ever stunning. I love the skin tones and cloak which give a lovely gloomy yet somehow colourful finish. But just look at those gravestones and the finish Malcolm has given them. Simply stunning work.

The only negative I can think of for this poster is that it wasn’t the return of the poster series. In fact, it would be the last poster by J.T. Dogg, although the original ones would be reprinted in the first few monthlies which is when I enjoyed them all for the first time as a kid. This Hallowe’en issue isn’t short of other highlights too, Hadrian Vile has me thinking about my friends’ latest addition to their family (and her older brother), and after Burp‘s tractor beam (#37) he has more inventive weaponry to show off. The biggest laugh of the whole issue comes from a background gag in Rubbish Man, and Jimmy Flynn’s strip plays up to an old horror moving staple.

Back in July the free Crash magazine edition of OiNK ran a special competition. The Mutant Space Barbarian Magic Warriors of Doom strip ended with the readers being asked to send in drawings of what they thought had turned hero Macho Mike into a big pile of blancmange. Suitably enough the editorial team have decided to use the Hallowe’en issue to show off the winners, taking over one half of a Grunts spread. There were ten altogether, each of which received an OiNK t-shirt and a copy of the OiNK computer game for their chosen format.

The strip they were drawing the conclusion to was illustrated by J.T. Dogg, so no pressure, right? You can’t deny the pig pals had skills. My favourites are ‘Squirty Bogweazel’ by Glenn Taylor of Gwynedd and ‘Molly Slocombe Intergalactic Mother-in-law’ by Michael Firth of Wolverhampton. Just a shame they’re so small on the page really. Special mention to ‘Uglay’ by Plymouth’s Danial Garside who dare I say is obviously a fan of Tom Paterson. Also, have a look at Noel Watson’s fantastic multi-headed beast on the other page! Quality reader contributions all round.

Lew Stringer’s Pete and his Pimple gets a half-page this issue but just across from him on the opposite page (right beside said strip when the comic is opened out) is Night of the Vampire! written by Lew and drawn by the ever entertaining Steve Gibson. With OiNK’s artists having such a wide range of styles I always like it when they take on each other’s characters, and Steve’s interpretation of one of Lew’s ‘popping’ up here in a particularly Steve-like fashion is great!

Little did I know the very next issue would bring a lot more of this sort of thing as different artists would take on Pete Throb in a special pull-out comic dedicated to the fan favourite, as advertised in the Next Issue promo here. That’s something you won’t want to miss so make sure to follow the blog.

On the same spread is this little treasure from Jeremy Banx. Regular readers of the comic (or of this blog) will know all about the surrealist humour of Jeremy’s strips, in particular Mr Big Nose. From toothpaste squeezing competitions and starring as Rambo in Little Bo-Peep to the famous Keith the dolphin, there’s been a lot of memorable strangeness and he appears to be upping that with each new appearance. (Ploppy puns throughout the comic drawn by Patrick Gallagher.)

Where would you even begin if you attempted to describe this to someone who hadn’t seen it? The poltergeist idea itself is a brilliant one and looks hilarious in that final panel, complete with the one who let go of the globe I bet you didn’t notice was floating. In those first images using Mr Big Nose’s face on the planet and the globe to tell us the story is weird but it works. Brilliantly. It’s heartbreaking to think this character will disappear from the regular comic after the next four issues!

But let’s not think about that yet, let’s enjoy the rest of the year and these simply perfect issues of OiNK we were getting every fortnight. This one ends with a truly classic OiNK back page, the latest spoof movie poster. Written by Charlie Brooker and again drawn so perfectly by Simon Thorp, it’s one which I particularly enjoyed at the time. In fact, while I hadn’t seen the original movie when I first saw this, it would become my favourite of Simon’s mini-posters as a child because the next year I became obsessed with the cartoon and Marvel UK comic. Take a butchers at this.

I can remember re-discovering this many months later after I’d eventually seen the movie and thought this was hilarious. Somehow, Simon has perfectly captured Bill Murray in pig form. It’s just a genius piece of work. Believe it or not, despite how great this is, as an adult it isn’t even my favourite of Simon’s pieces any more. That honour goes to a certain Half Pig, Half Machine hero who I’ll definitely be showing off when we get to that issue.

As we tear ourselves away from page 32 that’s a wrap on the latest OiNK and it’s been a genuine pleasure to relive every single thing this has had to offer. Seriously, if you haven’t read a full issue since the 80s (or perhaps never have) then I’d heartily recommend #40 as the ideal starting point to your inevitable collection. The next issue, complete with pull-out Pete comic, is the Health & Fitness special and its review will be here on Monday 14th November 2022.

Just to finish off this superb Hallowe’en feast here’s a suitably terrifying mini-strip from Mark Rodgers and Ian Jackson. See you next time.