Tag Archives: Tom Paterson

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.

PiGS APPROACHiNG: FREE GiFT ADVERTiSEMENT

On this day 35 years ago a little innocuous banner appeared along the top of the front cover to the latest issue of IPC Magazine‘s Buster comic. But this wasn’t going to be a poster, a badge, stickers or a boomerang as regular readers may have expected.

A boomerang? Yes, if you want to check out a very long list of the freebies given away by Buster throughout its decades-long life you can see it on the Buster Comic website. But for now, back to the issue at hand.

I decided to have a brief read of the comic too, reading a handful of strips where I either remembered the characters or recognised the artist. I was quite surprised to see a handful of strips had signatures, such as Pete Dredge who would also appear in OiNK. It’s only a handful though and no writers are mentioned, something Uncle Pigg would put right very soon.

The details mentioned on the cover would amount to a half page advertisement at the end of an X-Ray Specs strip with a piggy silhouette surrounded by one or two mentions of the new comic’s title.

Of course these could just look like sound effects to the uninitiated, so I like to think it peaked the curiosity of the young readers for what was to come in just seven days. With comics of the day being very similar in style and humour I don’t think anything could’ve prepared them for what they were about to read.

So we’re just seven days away from that free gift and just 14 away from the very first issue! It’s getting exciting here in OiNK Blog Towers and there are some extra treats in store between now and then too, so keep it tuned to the OiNK Blog, pig pals.

TOM PATERSON’S WET BLANKET iS BACK

The name Tom Paterson is synonymous with British humour comics, his madcap style appearing in an eclectic array of titles such as Beano, Shiver and Shake, Buster and many more. His most famous characters include the fondly remembered Sweeney Toddler, Calamity James, Bananaman and Buster himself. There’s one other that most likely will have been forgotten by many though – The Wet Blanket.

By the time I started collecting OiNK I’d missed this strip but I had already been introduced to Tom’s work. While I found my brother’s Beano wasn’t really to my taste at the time (I was the perfect target audience for OiNK after all), there was one strip that most definitely was. I remember pouring over all of the funny background details in Calamity James, the incidental randomness in the visual gags often being just as funny as the story itself. This is the genius of Tom’s style.

Tom’s work may only have graced the pages of OiNK five times but he still made a hilarious impact. One particular strip is of interest here and that came in #7. Written by co-creator/editor of the comic, Mark Rodgers, The Wet Blanket was a brilliant double-page spread featuring so many little jokes hidden away you could reread it several times.

A kind of super villain, Wet Blanket is a “miserable so-and-so” whose sole job is to ruin everyone else’s fun. He could’ve made for a brilliant regular character but alas that wasn’t to be and this was his sole appearance. Which makes it even more surprising that he’d appear on the front cover of The Tom Paterson Collection, a new book coming later this year from Rebellion‘s Treasury of British Comics.

What a cover it is too! Tom will also be producing an exclusive cover for a special edition which will only be available from their web shop. Both versions will be released on 25th November 2021 for £19.99 and for 192 pages of Tom’s best work from across a variety of comics this is nothing short of a bargain.

I wonder how many stinky, striped socks that amount of pages will contain?

Featuring content from IPC/Fleetway comics such as Buster, Whizzer and Chips, Whoopee!, Jackpot and of course OiNK, along with new extra bits and bobs from Tom make sure you pre-book yours as soon as it becomes available (keep an eye on the blog). Or are you some sort of fun-hating wet blanket?

One final note. Since Rebellion bought the rights to the huge IPC/Fleetway back catalogue this is the first time we’ll see an OiNK strip being reprinted. Of course, a lot of OiNK’s content was creator owned so it’s potentially a lot more complicated to arrange, but it’s still exciting to see the first strip resurfacing for modern audiences. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds.