Tag Archives: Tony Husband

OiNK! #18: HAPPY HOGMANAY!

Growing up in a small town in Northern Ireland I’d never heard of the word ‘Hogmanay’ before so initially thought this was an OiNK pun on some Scottish word about the New Year. But really it’s just the best possible way to celebrate for this comic, so much so that both of the issues published to celebrate the New Year in OiNK’s run would have the same theme. The cover by legendary cartoonist John Geering sums it all up rather perfectly; this is a celebration of Scotland and its culture just as much as it is the festivities.

A new character who might like to think he’s cultured is new addition Barrington Bosh he’s incredibly Po$h, brought to the page by fellow Northern Irelander Ian Knox. Given how much I remember of this particular posh little git I was surprised to find out he only appeared in nine issues of OiNK altogether, normally with long gaps between strips. To say he was posh is actually a huge understatement, the whole point being to push this to the extreme every time. This debut story is the perfect introduction.

Bosh did absolutely nothing for himself and this was the basis for his entire life and thus every appearance. Everyday tasks were something he’d never even consider doing himself and the creative ways he and his staff would get around them were hilarious to us kids. The strip was also a biting satire of the difference between upper and lower class people in the UK and that old saying “How the other half lives”.

Back in #7 I showed you a brief glimpse at Hugo the Hungry Hippo‘s cameo appearance in cartoonist David Haldane‘s other creation, Rubbish Man. There, Hugo popped by to do what he does best, to eat. He also inadvertently saved the day for our smelly superhero and it appears he’s a bit of a fan because he’s dolled himself up in very familiar garb for a fancy dress party for the New Year.

One of my favourite additions to any issue of OiNK was also written and drawn by David. Little quarter-page entries of animals just living their normal anthropomorphic lives always had me in stitches, especially when this would be mixed with their abilities as animals. So some would appear in clothes, others would be more wild. By all means Zootown made no sense but I don’t think any part of it was ever meant to!

Before we move on to some of the multitude of Scottish strips and gags here are a couple of other highlights in this issue. As ever Burp has another strong entry and to be honest it’d be so easy for me to include his page in every single review! Here he’s been invited to a Hogmanay party and it all kicks off with this funny invite. One of Banx‘s other strips is the always hilarious Hector Vector and his Talking T-Shirt, though surely he should’ve had a coat on this time.

I mentioned Scottish culture earlier and we can’t do that without mentioning Robbie Burns, surely? OiNK thought so. The poet’s work is described as “spontaneous and direct” and it fell upon Steve Gibson to conjure up a suitable parody. He knocks it out of the park. Taking Burns’ To A Mouse as his inspiration he renames it The Beastie. Complete with typical Gibson art, unmistakable in the beastie itself, here’s Hoggy Burns.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, nothing was sacred to OiNK. This was especially true when it came to those bastions of the comics world, the unstoppable forces of The Dandy and The Beano (well, at least Beano is still unstoppable). A favourite target of Uncle Pigg’s, the two comics were held in high regard by editor and head writer Mark Rodgers who had great fun in sending them up quite regularly. For the Scottish issue there was no better strip ripe for this treatment than The Dandy’s Jocks vs Geordies.

The strip was still running in 1986 and involved two schools situated across the Scotland/England border from each other. The boys who made up the gangs from each school were deliberately clichéd, already parodies of sorts. They’d play ever more violent tricks on each other but would always end up being punished for it by their teachers. Neither side was immune either, winning or losing roughly the same amount of times as the each other.


“Ay, weel, there’s mony a mickle maks a muckle!”

Teach Yourself Glaswegian

Mark took the concept behind the original strip and decided to poke fun at its repetitive nature and the fact it had been running for so long. (The pupils had been duking it out on a weekly basis for 11 years by this stage.) This was a regular theme to OiNK’s parodies of these comics and here it’s played out particularly well in the ending, with art by Marc Riley.

It’s time to take a closer look at the country providing the laughs. What we need is an expert in the subject matter. Failing that, how about a young lad who simply thinks he’s an expert in all subjects but in reality is the master of none. Of course, bringing in Hadrian Vile has at least one benefit, it means Ian Jackson will be providing the art.

With Hadrian’s information it’s clear he’s read the names of the places throughout the country and taken them to mean something completely different. Every single time. Take your time to appreciate all the little jokes and references as you take your tour around the highlands and lowlands. There are too many here for me to pick out a definitive favourite but the town of Dornoch and the hamlet of Inchadamph get particularly funny entries for me.

I have a soft spot for Scotland most definitely but at age nine I wasn’t aware of most of these real places, however it was no less funny. You’ll have spotted some of the best gags come from Hadrian’s grasp of Scottish words. Just a little later in the comic Mark took this a step further with a full page dedicated to helping the readers Teach Yourself Glaswegian, drawn by Mike Green.

Expect plenty of dialogue with each sentence accompanied by an asterisk pointing towards the apparent English translation. It doesn’t take long before it gets completely ridiculous of course and I personally believe certain parts of England are also being subjected to a little gentle teasing here, as some of the translations sound overtly stuck up. I remember showing this to my sister’s Scottish husband once and he roared laughing, particularly at the fifth panel, which is my particular favourite too. Enjoy.

We’re down to the final few pages and I’ve broken away from the subject matter to show you the first entry in a semi-regular series of comedy adventure strips. We all know which television series this was based upon which starred a famous dog. But take that dog, replace him with a pig, make his owner completely useless, exaggerate the already far-fetched skills of the animal hero and then have one more funny twist in the final panels. Written by Tony Husband and drawn by Chas Sinclair here’s Lashy the Wonder Pig.

A genius piece of scripting and loveable art make this a highlight of the whole issue. He proved popular too, returning several times throughout OiNK’s run, although with a selection of different names. Known as Laffy, Lashie, Lattie, Laxxie, Lammie, Lazzie, Laggie, Lappie and Larry the series would keep certain staples running such as his owner always falling down a pit (even when he was nowhere near one), the ever more ludicrous feats of daring by our pig and the constant reminder that his intelligence wasn’t on par with his bravery! Hilarious every single time.

I just want to show you the back page before we finish off. The team decided to run their own awards, mimicking the likes of the Oscars and BAFTAS, the hype for which always begins as soon as each new year does. But this wouldn’t be just any old awards. We weren’t being asked to vote for our favourite characters or cartoonists from within OiNK’s pages, oh no. Biggest Wally, Worst Pop Group, Most Irritating DJ and even Worst Comic. This would be fun to take part in.

It was even more fun when the prizes were given out. Tony and Patrick would call upon the crew at Spitting Image for a photo shoot and one of the winners would even be on hand to accept their award in person! That’s still some way off in #30 in 2022.

The first issue of 1987, the only calendar year that OiNK would be on sale regularly from beginning to end, would have a Health and Fitness theme. It is the season of good intentions after all. So don’t just walk back here, run to the donut shop first and then settle down to more hog highlights on Monday 10th January 2022! See you then.

OiNK! #16: POP PiGGiES

A superstar takes pride of place on the cover of the pop music special of OiNK… sitting alongside a hammed up parody of George Michael. That’s right, this issue pig pals got to meet Frank Sidebottom! We’ll get to the famous papier-mâché headed contributor later on but first up we’ve got the second part of our giant calendar poster drawn by the incredibly talented and at the time very young Ian Jackson.

Burp and Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins make up this segment with more and more random people running across their faces. Where could they be going and why? We’ll find out next time. Quite suitably, since my decorations have gone up a little bit earlier this year, there’s Santa in the midst of the parodies of celebrities, aliens, monsters, religious leaders and basically anyone Ian could think of by the looks of it.

I can remember this issue of the comic itself being met with rather mixed feelings when I had my first quick glimpse through it as a kid. I wasn’t really into music at the time so the theme didn’t seem to appeal. I also didn’t initially like the fact there were quite a few text features spoofing teenage music magazines of the day. But I soon realised I couldn’t have been more wrong once I started reading. It may have only been my third issue but I shouldn’t have doubted the team.

As a kid I’d heard of John Peel through appearances on Top of the Pops which my older siblings watched every week or through the radio when I heard it coming from their rooms. While I wasn’t a radio listener at that young age I still found his A Day in the Life of a DJ quite funny. I’m including it here because co-editor Patrick Gallagher was able to confirm it really was written by John.

One rather unique addition to the line up this time is a competition to “Win a pop concert in your own home“. No, this isn’t a spoof (or GBH threatening to come round if you don’t pay up) this is an honest-to-gosh competition with the prize being a pop group performing in your house. The band in question were Le Lu Lus (or ‘Lelu Lu’s’, their name seems to have several spellings) who were all about “robots, computers, dance and song” apparently.

You can check out one of their songs, ‘Africa’ on YouTube and they’re not half bad. Since growing up I’ve become somewhat obsessed with 80s music so this is right up my street. It would seem one lucky reader was in for a treat.

According to Tony Husband, “They contacted us as fans l think. We chose a home fairly convenient to us all l think, so we didn’t have to pay a lot for travel. Anyone from Aberdeen or Southampton never stood a chance. We chose a family from Prestwich.” So even if I had been enjoying their music at the time there wasn’t a hope in hell of me winning, what with that pesky Irish Sea between me and the OiNK offices.


“I love burp, he’s so smelly and disgusting and Mr Big Nose ’cause he’s so daft.”

Ian Astbury, The Cult

She Sells Sanctuary by The Cult is a song most of us will remember from the 80s and in a surprising turn of events lead vocalist Ian Astbury is interviewed in this issue of OiNK by piggy pop presenter Janice Pong (Tony again). It’s really quite the scoop for a kid’s comic and as it turns out Ian and his bandmates were fans. This wasn’t unusual in the Manchester (or MADchester) scene of the day, with numerous bands buying the comic on a regular basis. OiNK’s offices in the city were just upstairs from the office of the Happy Mondays‘ manager, Haçienda DJ Dave Haslam was next door and former The Fall band member Marc Riley was already working on the comic drawing Harry the Head and being Snatcher Sam.

The interview with Ian happened over the phone after Tony got in touch through his agent.  For Tony it was quite the thrill, as he was a fan of the group and their lead singer was a fan of his work! Ian was game for a laugh in being interviewed by the fictional Janice (a spoof of radio DJ Janice Long) and Tony told me he has nothing but fond memories of the experience.

While he can’t quite remember how he found out Ian was a pig pal, Tony says he’ll never forget what happened after the interview was over. At the end of the call Ian, this huge rock star, told Tony he’d ordered two OiNK mugs and two t-shirts but had only received one of each and asked if he could look into it! It was a surreal moment for Tony and sure enough he got it sorted for him.

So let’s move away from the more magazine-style pages of this unique issue and have a look at some of the other highlights, such as an uncanny celebrity lookalike, a perfectly named talent agent and a quick homage to From Russia With Love. Then Lew Stringer brought us some cutout badges of 80s pop stars, the Huey Lewis and the News one being my fave, and then gave us a little history lesson into the origins of rock’n’roll (and check out the Phil Collins drawing underneath).

Remember the cutout Road-Hogg from #11? It was meant to be impossible to actually build but pig pal Sue M. Hall did anyway and the end result was great! In this issue a rather more straightforward bit of DIY comes in the shape of cassette covers for readers’ music collections. In the 90s I was handed down a lot of my siblings’ music cassettes, so while my school friends were rocking out to the latest charts my ears were buried in the older Now That’s What I Call Music collections from the 80s. This could explain why I’m still obsessed with music from that decade today.

I remember making up my own compilations from the cassettes I then owned, sometimes even making ‘soundtrack’ albums for my comics, filled with the songs I thought best suited certain storylines and I’d create my own covers for them. In this issue Uncle Pigg brought us some cutout covers, all suitably OiNK-ified of course. Fellow fan Steve Fitch (who kindly supplied photos of an OiNK promotional folder for a previous post) not only cut out the covers and placed them into cassette boxes, he went a step further and created little stickers for the tapes to match.

Now on to our main event. A musician, a stand up comedian, a TV personality, an all-round entertainer extraordinaire, Chris Sievey donned a papier-mâché head, put on a squeaky, nasally voice and truly became Frank Sidebottom. My parents weren’t fans I seem to recall, but I most certainly was, especially from Saturday morning show No.73. To have him popping up in OiNK was a wonderful surprise and he suited the music theme. The fact he wasn’t a one-off and would come back in the next issue (and the next, and the next etc.) was even better.

Back in 2021 the sad news broke of Chris’ passing and, upon finding out, all those lovely memories of his strips in OiNK came flooding back. I dug out the three editions I still owned and read them for the first time in decades. I bought a few more, discovered they were just as funny as they’d ever been and I set about collecting them. Chris had led me right back to OiNK, so it’s because of him that I’m even here talking about the comic at all.

I asked Patrick about how Frank’s contributions came about.

“I dragged Chris on board at OiNK, having been a fan of Frank and also of Chris Sievey and the Freshies – the Manchester pop band,” says Patrick. “Frank fitted brilliantly into the comic and was a regular face in the OiNK office as well as in its pages. We gave Chris quite an open brief, which was pretty much determined by the themes of the issues. Shortly after joining OiNK, Chris invited me to play guitar in Frank’s Oh Blimey Big Band, alongside Mark Radcliffe on drums (pre-Marc and Lard days on BBC Radio One with fellow OiNK star Marc Riley).”

It’s great to see Frank on board at last, it’s like being reunited with an old friend.

“Frank was a great ambassador for OiNK and promoted the comic at gigs etc.”, Patrick continues. “So we were more than happy to keep him with us as long as he was happy to continue working for us! I became great friends with Chris and when both our marriages ended 10 years later, Chris lived at my house for 6 months where we drowned our sorrows and lived the high-life in equal measure.”

So here we go, Frank’s very first OiNK page. I think as a kid I might have assumed one of the comic’s artists drew the pages for him, or at least had a hand in them. But as they progressed it was clear this was all his own work. Tony and Patrick have both told me in the past how long Chris would spend over his pages. Remember, he wasn’t a professional cartoonist, yet here he was creating colourful works of art and comic strips for every issue of a hit comic. Everything was coloured with felt tip pens and he would apparently anguish over the details. I’m sure you’ll agree the end results were, as Frank himself would say, fantastic!

Since Chris’ passing a statue of Frank has been erected in his home town of Timperley and we’ve had not one but two movies based around him. One is the feature-length documentary Being Frank and the other starred Michael Fassbender as a Frank-like celebrity forever encased in his own papier-mâché head. Both of these will be covered on the blog in the future. For now, it’s great to see Frank on board at last, it’s like being reunited with an old friend.

It’s time to wrap up this musical feast and who better to do so than Roger Rental, He’s Completely Mental. OiNK writer Graham Exton told me if the writing on one of Roger’s strips is uncredited then most likely it was co-editor Mark Rodgers who scripted it. He wrote so much of OiNK that apparently he’d often forget to credit himself! This particular instalment made me roar and it’s brought to life as ever by Ian Knox. Enjoy.

So that’s us. The fact that Roger’s is the only strip I’ve shown in full just shows how different this issue actually is. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of hilarious strips in here, I just wanted to show you the different kinds of content this issue had and how enjoyable it was as a result. With lots of new characters introduced last time and now with Frank in the fray at last I’m really pumped for the next issue, especially since it’s the first Christmas Special!

From the TV Times cover to the Christmas TV listings and a multi-page Uncle Pigg story I have very fond memories of #17, so make sure you’re back here on Monday 13th December for the review!

HAPPY 35TH COMiCS ANNiVERSARY!

On this date 35 years ago I bought my first ever comic. I had always loved reading, mainly The Railway Series books and the magazine and cassette series Story Teller, although I would take the occasional look at Calamity James in my brother’s Beano and the Knight Rider strips in my sister’s Look-In. But on Saturday 8th November 1986 something caught my eye on the newsagent’s shelves that I just had to read. That something was OiNK #14.

I was hooked. Initially just to the piggy publication but it wasn’t long before I was searching through the other comics out there. None of the humour ones did anything for me though, I think I was spoiled for life by OiNK! It’s certainly the main source of my sense of humour. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is still up for debate amongst my friends.

The following year however, the hugely successful TV series based on those Railway Series books finally got its own comic three years after the show had debuted. I remember the excitement of discovering it and, even though at nine-years-of-age I was already a bit old for it, Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends became my second reserved comic at the newsagent. Plus, it was my first ever Marvel comic!

Altogether, between 1986 and 1994 a total of a dozen comics were at various times reserved for me under ‘B45 Boyce’ in the box behind the till. To mark the occasion I thought I’d quickly show you the covers of them all and touch upon the others I bought one or two issues of, as well as a couple of drawings I was able to get printed at the time, finishing with the comics I’m collecting today. Yes, believe it or not I do collect some modern comics, although you’ll see they’re very much connected to these classics.

I collected Thomas for almost two years before I finally forced myself to move on because I was just far too old for it, The Real Ghostbusters was a firm favourite up to #150 at least and as for Wildcat, well at the time of writing this I’m in the middle of revisiting this particular comic in real time. Criminally cut short at 12 issues, its preview issue was given away free with the last OiNK. My favourite comic of all time had passed the torch to the new sci-fi epic (potential epic, anyway).

I also bought Big Comic Fortnightly for a couple of years. I don’t have any of the issues in my possession anymore, however in recent years I’ve been able to get a hold of all of the books. A wonderful collection. All of these comics lasted for varying lengths in my reservation box. I was only allowed a certain amount at once but I did push my luck whenever I could. When I was off sick from school in November 1988 my mum returned with the Transformers Winter Special below, so when I loved it so much and wanted to start collecting it (like a few of my friends had already been doing for a long time) it was really her fault, not mine! Haha. I began with #192 and carried all the way through to the finale in 1992.

As some comics were cancelled over time I was always on the lookout for another to replace them. Some of my very favourites were actually short-lived. Below, Ring Raiders, Havoc and Jurassic Park were all cut short but they remain in my collection today and I simply adore them. Funny Fortnightly didn’t last as long in my list as Big Comic and the other two below I bought for about a year or so before moving on, although both Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles Adventures and Thunderbirds The Comic were huge successes and lasted a long time.

Ring Raiders and Jurassic Park are also, like Wildcat, being covered on the blog at the moment and I’m looking out for the small but perfectly formed collection of Havoc to complete at some point so watch out for it in the future. What about the rest of these comics? Will any of them ever find their way on to the site and read in real time? Who knows. In the meantime, you can read a retrospective of The Real Ghostbusters, a review of its first issue, and one other comic above is still going today! I take a look at #800 of it and compared it (favourably, I might add) to the original. Which comic was it? You can find out here.

I adored my comics back then and even sent in letters and drawings. Two of these saw print! I can remember seeing the first (below, left) resulted in a scream from a very young me so loud my parents thought I’d hurt myself! As for Michelangelo, I drew him while babysitting my niece one night but a few months later I cancelled the comic’s regular order. By complete coincidence, some time later (I remember it was several months later) I bought an issue to read between exams at school and it contained my drawing!

The comics I had on order were all paid for by my parents but with my pocket money I’d buy lots of single issues of other titles. Sometimes I’d be trying out premiere issues to see if I’d want to collect them, sometimes they were just for something new to read, so my room was full of random issues over those years. A lot fell victim of my youthful attention span though, such as Death’s Head and The Sleeze Brothers, both of which I loved but by the time their second issues came out my fickle nature had moved on to something else. When I’d find these comics amongst my collection months to years later I’d regret not collection them, but I’ve made up for it nowadays with complete runs of both.

I wasn’t aware of a Visionaries comic until well after it had already been cancelled, but my fascination with the cartoon and toys was clear and so my parents bought me their annual for Christmas that year. Strangely, they bought me it again the following Christmas too. (You can now check out the read through of the whole series.) Other comics I enjoyed single issues of here and there included The Punisher, Marvel’s Bumper Comic, Whizzer & Chips, Super Naturals and umpteen others.

I moved on to computer and video game magazines for much of the 90s but in the new millennium I’d dabble with certain comics, especially when I found out Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski was writing The Amazing Spider-Man, so that became the first American comic I ever bought from dedicated comics shops.

Fast forward to the present and I’m buying some new series, though not as many as a couple of years back. Back then I was collecting about a dozen a month, but losing a job at the start of the pandemic put an end to that. I’m glad it did though. It made me appreciate my standout favourites, so now I’m concentrating on those most important to me and using my new new job’s income to purchase graphic novel collections and back issues of these to add to the continuing new issues.

IDW‘s brand new Transformers (rebooted a couple of years ago) and their continuation of the original Marvel G.I. Joe stories are phenomenally good! I haven’t been a fan of the other iterations these franchises had over the years since the originals, but both of these are even better than those I loved reading back in the 80s (and still do on Instagram every week, again in real time).

Straczynski’s brand new comics universe The Resistance is about as timely as you could possibly get, despite being written before what’s taken place in the world these past two years. The idea was to create a brand new superhero kind of universe from scratch and it’s off to a stunning start. Finally, when I was visiting a local comic shop one title I loved was Batman, the only superhero I enjoyed as a kid. Now Panini Comics are collecting two issues together for only £2.99 a month so I’m fully on board with that instead. I’ve even started right back the beginning, which is a bit of a project to undertake!

So, 35 years ago this very day I sat in my house tittering and giggling at a silly comic about pigs, plops, poos and puns. Little was I to know what it would lead to. Now here I am writing a website where I’m revisiting all of these old comics in real time, enjoying them just as I did decades ago, classing many of the creators as friends. Chatting to them about their characters and stories, hearing them reminisce and bring the inner workings of these wonderful publications to life is one thing, but having them become regular readers of my own work is something I never could’ve imagined.

As a child I created my own comics and stories, then in my 20s I studied media and began writing because of those early comics. Unfortunately when I discovered the world of work and having a regular income it all fell by the wayside, but many (many) years later I rediscovered Uncle Pigg‘s passion project, which has led me right back again.

It’s ignited my passion for writing and from this I have my own passion project to come in 2022. So thank you Patrick Gallagher, Mark Rodgers and Tony Husband, it’s all thanks to you.