Tag Archives: Tom Paterson

OiNK! #1: 35 YEARS LATER!

Off we go! Happy 35th anniversary to my very favourite comic of all time and what I truly believe is still the funniest to ever grace shop shelves. The preview issue released the week before had prepared some for what was to follow, but the actual premiere issue made quite the impact all by itself with a free record on the cover and a matching cover image to promote it. This could not have failed to catch the eye.

We’ll take a closer look at the free gift in a bit but first let’s start with editor Uncle Pigg taking no nonsense from critic Mary Lighthouse on page two. Written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by Ian Jackson, these strips were a regular fixture for many of the early issues and starting in #3 would introduce the fortnightly subject of each issue. These would include your traditional Christmas and Hallowe’en editions, but could also be anything from music, computer games or pets, to space, health or war.

There’s no subject this time obviously but there is certainly an edge to the first few pages. Our editor introduces strips such as Ed Banger, the boy with the invincible headbutt and Mike and Spike, the naughty boy with a mohican and his equally naughty pet hedgehog. Both were drawn by Patrick Gallagher, who also put the cover together. Very modern, very 80s characters, both feel like they were intended to be regular fixtures, but Ed would only return once and after appearing in the preview issue this was Mike and Spike’s last.

But that was one of the things we loved about OiNK, the forever changing line up of regular, occasional and one-off characters kept things fresh and exciting rather than formulaic and predictable. In fact, it’s only upon looking back on the series I realise some of my favourite regular characters weren’t regular at all. But one thing we could always count on were spoof advertisements.

The half-page Uncle Pigg’s For Sale Column mimicked the kind of thing we’d see in local newspapers, except here they’re all being sold by one person, or rather pig. A precursor to the infamous GBH catalogue company in later issues, here everything is poor quality for extortionate prices. I particularly like the couple of running jokes, the ‘Barrel of Monkeys’ and ‘Live Shark’ gags rolling over into each subsequent, even funnier advert.

It might seem strange to have the above as one of our first highlights of the premiere issue rather than a strip, but these were ubiquitous with OiNK. However, only a few page turns later would be a strip set to astound the eyes of the young readers used to black and white or one-colour pages in their comics. The Street-Hogs were all set to make their grand entrance.

Written by one of the comic’s three creator-editors Mark Rodgers, who wrote so much of OiNK, it’s a spoof of classic Saturday morning television serials and their constant, increasingly ridiculous cliffhangers and even more ludicrous heroic escapes. However, inspiration could be traced back to everything from the 60s Batman to Starsky & Hutch.

It was all brought to life by the incredible talent of illustrator J.T. Dogg who, while comic artists usually draw their pages at a larger scale which is then shrunk down during publication, drew his pages at the same size as the finished product. Knowing this fact makes his beautiful colour work even more incredible in my eyes.

Is it any wonder they [The Street-Hogs] are so fondly remembered to this day by so many pig pals.

Dirty Harry, Emma Pig, Hi-Fat and their informant Hoggy Bear would fight against the butcher mafioso and find themselves in one escape-proof scenario after another for the first 11 issues, returning later for further serials. As well as being hilarious, Mark’s scripts also brought a real adventure vibe to things, albeit in suitable OiNK fashion. Is it any wonder they’re so fondly remembered to this day by so many pig pals.

The premiere issue saw some returning characters from the preview such as Burp, Weedy Willy and chat show host Terry Wogham, as well as the second OiNK Superstar Poster. This time it was Bacon Stevens (I’m sure Shaky would’ve approved) and friend of the comic BBC Radio DJ John Peel also got the OiNK treatment. New addition Hadrian Vile would prove to be an instant hit and appear in almost every issue too.

One thing I particularly loved were the takes on children’s story pages. We’d also get lots of cheeky digs at specific cartoons and toys but when OiNK took classic children’s book staples and created their own original tales they were simply magical, and no pun is intended here.

Daz‘s The Wonderful Adventure of Billy Batt and his Magic Hat takes the idea of rhyming children’s stories, told in picture panels and captions and illustrates it in what could be mistaken as a somewhat traditional fashion. That is, until you actually read it.

Daz would contribute quite a few of these to the early issues of OiNK, each one starting off innocently enough, building anticipation in the reader. As I read them, I’m just waiting for that moment in each story when it starts to take a turn for the surreal, the comedic or the horrific. Then of course, they’re all capped off with a killer last line.

So, it’s time we talked about that free gift.


“Poo-poo, tinkle-tinkle, parp-parp, OiNK!”

Actual lyrics to The OiNK Song

Over a year later the team would bring us a record called The OiNK 45 which readers could buy through mail order. This is what I did back in 1987. It contained three songs, two of which had originally been on this special floppy flexidisc. Specially tuned to be enjoyed by young ears but excruciating for adults ones, The Oink Song and The Oink Rap were irritatingly catchy and I loved annoying my family with them at a volume they simply shouldn’t have been played at.

Along with silly dance moves (and alternative uses for the disc for those without record players) on a special double page spread were the lyrics. Whenever OiNK is brought up on some random social media chat it’s never too long before someone quotes the chorus of the song on the right!

Both were recorded by former member of The Fall, creator of Harry the Head and BBC Radio 6 Music DJ Marc Riley, The Oink Song’s effect of multiple squeaky pigs being achieved by overdubs. Creator-editor Tony Husband produced some of the electric percussion for the rap song and, according to Tony recently, “that influenced Public Enemy and Run DMC and all those people Dr. Dre talks about as a major influence.”

To hear some of The Oink Rap just check out the OiNK Blog YouTube Channel where it’s used for the opening and ending of each episode. Just remember, I did warn you in advance.

I’m very happy to see Tom Paterson return for this premiere issue after his Revenge Squad in the preview. Drawing another Pigg Tale written by Mark Rodgers, this strip makes the previous one look like a warm up. This is Tom without any of the constraints he had to work under elsewhere. It epitomises silliness and is chock full of his trademark sight gags and background jokes. Take your time in reading this one.

I love all of the little incidental details such as the explanation of where Jonesy’s underwear came from, the sound effects and descriptive words used throughout, even the obligatory bangers and mash. I even like his depiction of Uncle Pigg, even though by this time it was agreed he wouldn’t be a typical smelly pig. If Tom had been able to become a regular contributor his collection of strips by the end would’ve been second-to-none, but at least we can enjoy such brilliance as Testing Time.

One more highlight for this issue and it’s a rare colour outing for OiNK’s very own superhero.

David Haldane contributed quite a few strips to the comic, including Hugo the Hungry Hippo and the dark humour of the Torture Twins. Rubbish Man was his main character, where young hot dog salesman Jimmy Bung would save the world against a crazy array of villains by leaping into the nearest dustbin and becoming the smelly superhero, with everything from cold custard to mouldy mashed potato at his fingertips. Quite literally.

Haldane’s style has changed somewhat from the preview; his outlines are chunkier, the panels are fuller and overall it’s a much bolder look. It’s all very random, like organised chaos, which suits the overall comic perfectly. I love it. From the gorgeous colour work to the handily bleeped out curse words, it’s the final strip of the comic and the perfect way to end things for now.

As first impressions go this has been a great success and a joy to read from beginning to end. The sheer variety in the art styles alone was enough to make it stand out, but put those styles into genuinely hilarious strips, make them all different lengths, squeezing in as much as you possibly can to make use of every available space and print it all on extra large, glossy paper and what do you have? A comic like nothing else on the market. In other words, you have OiNK!

Issue two’s review will be here in a fortnight on Monday 17th May and you can check out its promo too.

OiNK PREViEW iSSUE: A COUPLE OF COVERS

The preview issue of OiNK was reviewed last week here on the blog and the first issue will be popping up tomorrow. But before then I thought I’d share a couple of little extra tidbits about that free promotional edition.

The first thing I want to show you is a little photo I discovered on the OiNK Comic Facebook group when trawling through years of images from fans and cartoonists alike. One of OiNK’s three creators, Patrick Gallagher shared this a good few years ago now so the quality isn’t great (in fact this is the full size of the image so it won’t enlarge if clicked on) but what it shows is the original cover of the dummy issue.

You can see how the logo is a separate piece of paper stuck on there. This was the mock up given to IPC Magazines to see if they’d give it the green light for development and most of its contents would eventually make its way into the preview issue itself. The cover would be redrawn by the superlative Ian Jackson. In an amazing exclusive, Patrick was also able to get the following quote from none other than OiNK editor, Uncle Pigg:

“Undoubtedly the Holy Grail of OiNK artifacts, worth its weight in swill and lovingly cobbled together in the last century AD by a hodge-podge army of scribes and scribblers for the joy of piglets and children alike… the OiNK dummy issue! The one-off mock-up that secured the commission for the subsequent 68 published issues and spin-offs. But what’s inside?… Ah! Maybe one day all will be revealed! Anyone interested to know?” – Uncle Pigg x

Yes, Uncle Pigg, we’d be very interested!

Next up is this cover to the issue of Whizzer and Chips which the preview issue came bagged with. The same week’s Buster comic also gave it away but made no mention of OiNK inside, but here it makes the front page strip. Shiner, Sid’s Snake and Sammy Shrink welcome Buster to the Comics Characters Club and an unfinished drawing of Uncle Pigg joins them!

A few times in the OiNK preview Uncle Pigg is shown drawn by various artists and some chose to have him surrounded by flies and a seemingly strong odour, things that were dropped for the comic proper. I’m assuming when Tom Paterson drew this cover strip the final look of our esteemed editor hadn’t been locked down yet. This might also explain his braces and going topless!

Okay, so that’s us all ready for the start of the OiNK real time read through. Starting tomorrow and continuing all the way through to the end of 2023, whether you’re eager to relive some cherished memories or discover the world’s funniest comic for the first time, I hope you’ll enjoy the ride.

OiNK! PREViEW iSSUE: CREATiNG PiG PALS

It’s been 35 years to the day of writing this since readers of IPC‘s Whizzer and Chips, Eagle and Tiger and Buster received their usual weekly reads inside a special plastic bag with a piggy pink pig emblazoned on the front. Inside, tucked in behind their newsprint comic was a big, bold, brash and glossy new comic called OiNK!

This was the preview issue of OiNK and, unlike preview issues in the years to come this was a full-sized 32-page comic. It must’ve been quite the revelation to hold these large, bright pages in their hands, especially with that Ian Jackson cover. This was the first time young readers would have been introduced to his unique style; the jagged lines of Uncle Pigg and the gag of a medieval torture rack setting the stage for something truly original.

One of the three co-creators/editors, Patrick Gallagher created the bright pink logo which immediately stood out, introducing this new fortnightly comic, the first issue of which would actually be released just seven days later. The impact of that first page was carried on to page two with Ian showing us the inner workings of our editor’s office, complete with staff and even an embattled accountant who can’t quite fathom how they’re going to pull off such a high quality comic.

Next to this is our very first fully fledged OiNK strip, Cowpat County from fellow Northern Ireland local Davy Francis, written by famed comics writer and another OiNK co-creator/editor Mark Rodgers. This first appearance sees 80s environmental campaigner and television presenter David Bellamy pop up, only to come a cropper in Farmer Giles‘ world. If all this could happen to him when placed into the real, unfettered countryside, what about those used only to city life?

We’d get plenty of chances to find out during OiNK’s run, plus opportunities to see Giles (whose name we wouldn’t know until #14) in their metropolitan world alongside regular guides to what real country living is. All very accurate, of course.

The preview issue throws everything at the reader

The preview was mainly made up of strips from a dummy issue previously put together to sell the concept to IPC. As such, some of our favourite characters may look a little different here because they’re simply earlier versions of themselves, which we’d see evolve and change slightly in the regular comic. Below you’ll see the very first Burp, the Smelly Alien From Outer Space from Jeremy Bank for example, his first strip for a children’s comic.

What a great introduction. Burp would be present in nearly every issue of OiNK and we’d see a constant series of attempts to ingratiate himself to the human race, all failing in spectacular fashion. Later issues we’d see vacations in space, a very surreal and rather dark humour develop and even become acquainted with the lives of his internal organs. It would all cumulate in an epic story that originally came at just the right point in my life to teach me about puberty! No, really. You’ll have to wait until Christmas 2023 for that story review though.

Even simple things like Ian’s and Jeremy’s unruled, freehand panels would’ve set the comic apart. Strips are of varying lengths, some even tucked in beneath (or down the side of) others and in a huge variety of styles. The fresh appeal is very apparent, especially after reading the issues of the established comics it was packaged with. Here’s a quick glance at a selection of what the young readers were suddenly being bombarded with, starting with Patrick and Mark’s partner in laughs Tony Husband‘s iconic hero.

OiNK definitely couldn’t be accused of having any kind of ‘house style’, unlike other comics which expected cartoonists to draw within certain parameters. It’s also chock full of content and the format of cramming as much into each page as possible results in a satisfyingly meaty read by the end. An animal-free meaty ready, obviously.

Showing how the aim was to rip up the rule book, throw out tradition and create a comic that was genuinely very funny, the preview issue throws everything at the reader and a surprisingly high amount sticks. One such idea was the pig-ifying of popular culture. Nothing was safe. From celebrities, television shows and musical artists, to movies, cartoons and literature, if a pig-themed pun could be made of a name you could bet OiNK would take advantage.

This Hambo poster from J.T. Dogg (real name Malcolm Douglas) wasn’t even the first such piggy pun. By the time readers got to this stunning centre-page spread they’d have already been treated to the delights of WillyHAM ShakesPIG and Terry WogHAM, along with mentions of Ian BotHAM, Lester PIGGott and PIG Country. But let’s take a moment to appreciate that poster.

J.T. Dogg’s work is simply stunning. As well as this series of OiNK Superstar Posters he’d contribute the artwork for The Street-Hogs and Ham Dare: Pig of the Future amongst others. What’s even more incredible is how he worked. At the time cartoonists would draw their strips at twice the size of the published comic, which would then be reduced at the printing stage. But not Malcolm. He’d complete all of his work at 1:1 scale! Sadly no longer with us, you can check out some more of his amazing work in his obituary on the site.

Now it’s time for a commercial break.

The first of many madvertisements to come, they went big to begin with, didn’t they? I mean, sausages made of minced up butchers isn’t exactly subtle. This is the perfect example of how they could push the boundaries of good taste and we kids loved it. It was just good, cheeky fun. On the top half of the page you can see Tony’s son, Paul Husband who would go on to appear in the occasional photo story from time to time. Nowadays Paul is an amazing professional photographer whose work you can check out on his website and Instagram.


“Rock’n’roll madness!”

Tony Husband describes working on OiNK!

On more than one occasion working on OiNK has been likened to being in a punk band, especially by Tony. He describes those OiNK Manchester offices as “rock’n’roll madness”. Located in the same office building as the Happy Monday’s manager, next door to Haçienda nightclub DJ Dave Haslam and, while the city was at the height of its MADchester musical and cultural scene, the comic team even included former The Fall band member (and future BBC Radio DJ) Marc Riley.

The rock’n’roll madness led to some hilarious scenarios, such as when Tony and Patrick were invited to London to appear on a breakfast TV show. They were given the impression they were appearing to discuss their new comic appealing to a new audience of young readers. However, the true intent was soon clear when the first question referred specifically to the following madvert.

Asked if they felt joking about smashing up friends’ bicycles was the “right message to send”, the presenters spectacularly missed the point of OiNK. But according to Tony it was worth it in the end because his and Patrick’s expenses were all paid for, including travel and a night in a 5-star hotel. Then on the return train Tony brought out a few of the small bottles of booze he’d sneaked out from his hotel room, thinking they’d have a tipple on the way home, only for Patrick to empty out a plastic bag full of every single bottle from his room.  By the time they hit Manchester they could hardly walk off the train.

In among the wealth of talent who had never contributed to children’s comics before were some more familiar names. However, they were now given free rein to produce strips they simply couldn’t elsewhere and let’s face it, if you could’ve given such freedom to anyone, it would’ve been Tom Paterson.

Pigg Tales would be the general name used on and off for some of the bigger one-off stories, written and drawn by a variety of people. The Revenge Squad showed what Tom could bring to OiNK but unfortunately he’d only show up in five editions of the comic throughout the course of its whole run. According to Graham Exton they really wanted him onboard but he was just too busy to be able to contribute more. Such a shame, because he’d have been perfect as a regular.

Finally, right at the back of the comic a certain character is introduced for the very first time. He’d go on to appear in all but two issues and then carry on for many more years in Buster comic after OiNK folded. A school bully may sound like a strange creation for a strip, even for such a wacky new comic, but by the end of his first story it’s clear he may be the star, but he’s certainly never going to be the hero.

Lew Stringer‘s Tom Thug remains one of my very favourite comic creations of all time and I’m really looking forward to reliving his misadventures all over again. It’d take a while before he’d be able to tie those laces, he’d cross over with other characters like Lew’s own Pete and his Pimple and Mike Green‘s Weedy Willy, even leave school and sign on for unemployment which was definitely a first in comics history.

The original designs for Tom and the first draft of this very strip can also be seen in a special blog post.

So there you have it, a little look into how potential new pig pals (as regular readers were referred to by Uncle Pigg) were first introduced to the world of pigs, plops, puns and parody. Then, as if the promise of more of this insanity wasn’t enough there was news of a free flexidisc record with #1, surely a free gift as unique as the comic it would be attached to.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the preview issue. There are also other posts on the site detailing the countdown to the release of the comic, and a look at the promo for #1 to keep you busy until Monday 3rd May and the review of the first issue of OiNK. So off you trot on your trotters and I’ll see you then.