Tag Archives: Vaughan Brunt

OiNK! #37: NEW ADDiTiONS

Our second new look OiNK sees the logo enlarged a little, sitting proud in its new position and, as promised by co-creator/co-editor Patrick Gallagher in the previous review, it lets us see more of the superb cover image by Mike Higgs. There’s a confidence about this issue and it’s new format that takes me right back to those days of running to the newsagent for my latest issue every fortnight, knowing I was going to get another 32 pages of perfect pork!

Another set of free stickers are wrapped around the cover, that Tom Thug ‘Book of Grammar’ one being my particular favourite. I think I used the Hadrian Vile sticker on a school book of some description back in 1987 (I would’ve been in primary six at the time of this issue) and the missing one on the back was the same as the one I showed you was on my fridge. This issue’s has been added to the comics shelves in my new home office.

The ‘Hilarious Happy Families Issue’ lives up to its name from the very first page with that brilliant cover complete with a couple of strategically placed OiNKs, portraying an elderly relative dying from the shock of reading an issue. The Christmas Club, the note on the bottom of the casket and a couple of plops for good measure, I can remember visiting my mum’s friend’s house with this issue and sitting absorbed by it while they gossiped.

In fact, I remember they were talking about Santa Claus and wondering if I knew the truth (that he most definitely existed, obviously) and I caught part of the conversation between strips. I can recall May asking the question and my mum saying at my age my friends would’ve been talking about it, so she assumed I knew. I kept quiet, I still wanted all my toys (and my OiNK Book!). That’s something which always comes back to me whenever I see this cover. May (or Aunty May as we called her, even though she wasn’t related) is no longer with us so it’s a happy memory that I’ll never forget thanks to OiNK.

This is quite simply the perfect comic script

Inside, one of the first strips is an old favourite, Davy FrancisCowpat County. Davy has two trademarks when it comes to his funniest strips, background gags and brilliant puns. This next page is easily my favourite featuring Farmer Giles. It is quite simply the perfect comic script. It all leads up to the final joke, expertly laying in the little bits of information along the way that’ll make it work, the reader unaware this is happening until the end.

Davy is a real comedic genius and it ran in the family. His father Stanley Francis was a comedian, performing in the old club circuits in Northern Ireland with Frank “it’s a cracker” Carson. Stanley also played piano and once accompanied Little Richard at Belfast’s Boom Boom Rooms! He’d often tell jokes at home to try them out (which Davy now uses on his bus tours) and the joke at the centre of this Cowpat County was one of Stanley’s.


“She’s luvly!!”

Hadrian Vile

Just one final note about this strip. I have the original artwork, one of a few pieces of Davy’s I own. I’m going to hold that back for a future post and show them all off at once. It also couldn’t have escaped your notice that something is going on with Snatcher Sam and Frank Sidebottom. Anyone who grew up on OiNK should instantly know what this refers to. Yes, it was finally available. Exciting! I’ll get back to that later in the review.

Next up is what I’d easily describe as the main event of this family themed issue. In fact it’s probably the main event in the whole life of Hadrian Vile thus far, something I’ve alluded to ever since the character first appeared on the blog back in #4’s review. To mark the occasion he gets three pages written by Mark Rodgers in glorious Ian Jackson full colour. This story more than any other plays to Ian’s strength of perfectly capturing a character’s thoughts in their face and body language. For example, his exasperated dad when they’re pulled over and in the next panel when he’s trying to explain things to the police officer.

We saw Hadrian’s age increase in the birthday issue and his reaction when his parents explained he was going to be a big brother. Now, after months of him torturing his poor pregnant mum the big moment has arrived and while the laughs are still plentiful, what we have here is a surprisingly sweet strip. After all those previous issues full of Hadrian getting into trouble thanks to his ridiculous schemes, he actually comes up with a helpful idea when the situation calls for it. It’s still daft and funny of course, especially his dad trying to run along holding that pillow. 

After wearing down the carpet in the waiting room the family are called in to see their latest addition, even Bowser gets a mask so he can join them. We turn over to see the following full-page image with a simple, sweet (yet still incorrectly spelt) diary entry. This was certainly a memorable moment in humour comics. When did a character live their life in an almost real time manner like this? When was something like this properly built up to instead of just being a sudden change? OiNK was always unique and this is all the proof you need.

Don’t be thinking Hadrian is going to go all slushy on us though. Instead, he sees his new baby sister as a potential protégé, someone to teach the ways of the world to, someone to train and we get to see him ingratiate himself over the following months from what I can remember. She also makes an appearance in the card game in this very issue.

This takes up the middle pages and the back cover, with another half page for the instructions, which are the same for the regular Happy Families game.

So as per the typical rules each family is made up of four individuals, with Hadrian’s not including Bowser as would’ve been expected up to this point, instead the newest addition gets a little cameo of sorts. Altogether there are 36 cards for the reader to stick on to cardboard and cut out, split into nine families. Parents and siblings could also easily take part because each group has a simple numbering system so non-OiNK fans (yes, they exist!) wouldn’t get lost amongst the silly names.

I always liked seeing favourite characters drawn by different artists. Ed McHenry is the artist here and his depictions of Ian Jackson’s Hadrian and his family, David Haldane’s Rubbish Man, J.T. Dogg’s Street-Hogs heroes and villains, and Jeremy Banx’s alien innards are my particular favourites. Did any blog readers cut out and play this game when they were but a piglet? I never cut up any of my OiNKs back at the time. (I did begin to colour in something in the first annual but that was about it.) However, these days the angel on top of my Christmas tree is from a page of the comic, and for the blog I’ve already constructed an old-fashioned Frank Sidebottom toy.

There’s a certain phrase I remember my dad using whenever my siblings or I did anything that our mum would’ve found particularly bad and one of the little quarter-page strips in this issue takes that exact phrase and ridicules it, albeit swapping the parents’ roles over in the process. From that moment on I could never take it seriously when it was used. I still can’t. Mad Dad is written by Vaughan Brunt and drawn by Ian Knox. This is followed up by Grate Expectations, a memorable little one-off from the insane mind of Simon Thorp who, I’m very happy to say, was turning up more regularly by this point.

There were so many potential highlights in this issue I really struggled in deciding which ones to include. This could be a regular problem these next few months, but it’s a nice problem to have, isn’t it? The Grunts page features press clippings about OiNK itself, although I’ll save them for their own post at a future date. Just mentioned recently on the blog’s Twitter feed by a fellow pig pal was Burp’s tractor beam and it pops up here, so I just had to include that in this little selection of panels.

There was also a unique competition in which readers could win a trip to Timperley, the home of megastar Frank Sidebottom and meet their hero, and to get readers excited to enter he tells us all about his post office having two letterboxes! I’ll keep an eye out for the results and winners. There’s a full-page Uncle Pigg strip describing the special versions of OiNK he publishes around the world and it’s nice to see he and Santa have made up since #17

For the first time we see Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins playing football, something which would lead to a huge multi-issue story for the character in future issues, a little plop drawn by Patrick Gallagher invaded a handful of pages throughout the issue such as Rubbish Man’s, and in the latest Butcher Watch a pig by the name of Stig the Pig thinks he’s finally won the battle with Jimmy ‘The Cleaver’ Smith, with wonderfully Banx’y captions.

Of course, Jimmy has to live to see another day and terrorise the world in which the characters of OiNK reside. As it turns out that shadowy figure wasn’t Jimmy at all but rather a selection of pork sausages tied up and dressed to resemble him. We see this reveal just before Jimmy strangles Stig to death with another string of sausages. This might sound a bit brutal for a kid’s humour comic but it’s so ludicrous and over-the-top it was a hoot to read every time and we’d just laugh at the absurdity of the pretend horror.

So, Frank has just set a new competition and this issue announces the runner-up of a previous one, but not one we’d seen in the comic. Instead, in much the same way as OiNK had run a competition in conjunction with Radio Manchester (the results were in #26), they teamed up with Granada TV’s Scramble programme. Ian Marshall from Bramhall has not one, but two small strips in this issue starring his own creation, Professor Foible.

If this is the level of quality the runner-up produced I can honestly say I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing what the young winner came up with! We’ll have to wait to find out though because they’re holding that back until #38.

So for the uninitiated, what were Frank Sidebottom aka Chris Sievey and Snatcher Sam aka Marc Riley up to earlier in the issue? Why, they were recording a new song for the OiNK 45 of course! Way back in the mists of time the premiere issue of our favourite comic gave away a fun flexidisc record with two songs created specifically to annoy adults as much as for the kids to enjoy. The OiNK Song and The OiNK Rap are often quoted by fans to this day and on this new proper record they were getting another outing alongside a new song.

When the original songs were produced by Marc, Chris was yet to join the comic (#16) so the new track, called The OiNK Get Together Song was a chance for the pop music sensation to get in on the action and team up with the former member of The Fall. Along with the other two songs (the rap now renamed The OiNK Psycho Rap) this was a proper, solid record the size of a single, in its own sleeze for just £1.70 and I for one jumped at the chance to own it, especially since all three songs were new to me (having missed the flexidisc first time around). In fact, this and the mug were the only pieces of OiNK merchandise I originally owned.

I recall the song contained impressions of various characters and it irritated my family just as much as the other two. My record met with an early demise when it warped under the hot sun from a skylight window only a couple of weeks after it had arrived in the post. I hadn’t even had a chance to tape it yet so I could listen to it on my Walkman. Now if only I could listen to it again after all these decades to see how my adult brain would react to these songs.

Well would you look at that. Yep, in a moment of perfect timing just a couple of months ago this appeared on eBay and the record is in mint condition. I could not be happier. But then again, I haven’t listened to it yet! Nope, I haven’t stuck it on the ol’ record player yet, I’ll do that when it comes to writing the accompanying blog post. So look out for that just after 17th October. Why am I making you wait so long? Well, we had to wait 28 days for delivery after all and this is all in real time.

That brings us to the end of another fantastic issue. As a child I’d loved the changes and was so happy they weren’t a one-off (the previous issue‘s theme explaining them away for that edition), the book was in the shops and I was eagerly anticipating it for Christmas and I’d just ordered an exciting new piece of merchandise, my first piece of OiNK merchandise in fact. I’d been a fan of OiNK since I’d first discovered it, but by now I was completely obsessed. The next issue is the Food and Drink Special with yet another memorable cover, a full-page photograph of (who else) Frank and Sam. The next review will be here on Monday 3rd October 2022.

October already?!

OiNK! #31: BIG! BOLD! BRASH! AMERICA!

This issue of OiNK sits on my shelves as a loose collection of pages, although you wouldn’t know it until you picked it up. But if you’re not careful all its pages would flap out and become strewn all over the floor. Why have I taken one of my precious comics apart like this? There’s a very good reason and we’ll get to that later in the review, but for now you’ll just have to trust me when I say I had no choice. Hopefully that’s got you suitably intrigued to stick around for the remainder of this post all about the Star-Spangled USA Issue, as if you couldn’t tell from that logo.

Andy Roper’s cover art makes just as big an impression, his King Pong strip the star of the inner pages. The recreation of the famous New York finale makes the perfect cover and the strip itself is written by Mark Rodgers. Rather than ape (sorry) a human character by putting a pig snout on them, Mark has taken another animal and pig-ified them, creating the “giant ape-like pig”, which is a bit of a stretch. But ridiculous scenarios are par for the course with OiNK, and the more ludicrous the better so we’re off to a swinging (sorry again) start.

Cutting the plot of the epic film down to a couple of pages we do without the love story so instead when King Pong’s smell gets too much for the city his captor turns into that favourite villain of OiNK’s, a butcher. Taking him captive in return it’s up the Empire State Building we go and just when you think it can’t get any more silly the sad ending is swapped out for a really, really stupid heroic getaway. Wrap it all up in one of the comic’s trademark pun-riddled morals and it’s another classic.

The amount of tiny details Andy squeezes in over the two pages is fantastic, with plenty to keep the eyes occupied and the reader chortling along. From one iconic American character to another, new OiNK writer Vaughan Brunt makes his debut with The American Super-Hero, drawn by Mike Green. I remember telling my friends in school about this one. I took every chance I could to highlight OiNK’s jokes, especially when it was a parodying something they enjoyed. I was always trying to make pig pals out of them.

Vaughan would contribute to 17 issues of OiNK altogether before moving on. While he was solely a write (a very funny writer) away from the sty he’s a very accomplished artist. While he doesn’t have his own online presence, a fan site for classic television series The Prisoner includes an art gallery of his paintings of Portmeirion, Wales where the show was set. You can check out his work here. Remembering those gorgeous painted OiNK spoofs (such as Watery Down and Simon Thorp’s movie posters) it’s such a shame Vaughan didn’t draw for the comic in his gorgeous painted style.

Hadrian Vile’s strip returns to its diary format with some big news for him and his family. Writer Mark Rodgers and artist Ian Jackson’s creation is about to have a baby sibling. As I’ve pointed out before Hadrian’s age increased in OiNK’s birthday issue and now we’d see his mum’s pregnancy for a number of months in real time, from the moment Hadrian notices her belly and her rather strange appetite (to say the least). What we have here is a typically funny Hadrian strip with a surprisingly sweet ending.

Hadrian would continue to make his mark on his mum’s pregnancy and in the end we’d see the big day arrive in a family-orientated issue of the comic with a special three-page strip. That’ll be in the latter part of this year. I do remember the strip didn’t go down the well-trodden route of the rebellious boy not having any interest with a cutesy baby in his life or disliking  his younger sibling. Instead, Hadrian was instantly besotted and took them under his wing as his potential protégé! The regular strip was already a favourite, but with its real-time aspects it became an even more unique and original OiNK highlight.

OiNK had an eclectic style, drawing in established artists from the world of children’s comics, adult newspapers and magazines, as well as a range of younger contributors whose career was only beginning. While other comics may given the established cartoonists the larger pieces of work and the newcomers the smaller strips, in OiNK they were all treated as equals. For example, alongside those new to the world of kids’ comics were the likes of Mike Higgs, this issue contributing a simple half-page strip about the Statue of Liberty taking a hygiene break.

A couple of highlights from Steve Gibson’s contributions are next. At this point in the run Steve’s style was being used mainly to illustrate quizzes and fact sheet pages, such as the Coast-to-Coast Quiz where we see his version of Snatcher Sam aka Marc Riley, and then Hogathan King brings us Entertainments USA and a recently released cinema flop was squarely in Steve’s sights.

The next highlight was an easy choice to include. Jeremy Banx’s Mr Big Nose has done many things, such as playing Rambo in Little Bo Beep, having Christmas dinner with a turkey and hoovering with a dolphin (named Keith), but here in just half a page he succinctly sums up the US of A like no one else could. A publication like Private Eye could run this strip today and it’d be met with just as many laughs.

If any part of this issue could summarise the attitude OiNK had towards America it was that.

So why is my copy of #31 of my favourite comic of all time falling apart at the seams? Because it doesn’t have its staples anymore but it’s not my fault they had to be removed. In the centre of this issue is a superb J.T. Dogg Street-Hogs poster showing Dirty Harry trailing Hoggy Bare reluctantly into action. But this is only one half of a double-sized gift from our ever-so-generous Uncle Pigg.

My personal favourite is the Sinclaire C500 Electrodustbin.

The top half featuring Emma Pig and Hi-Fat can be found on the inside front and back covers, so to put the whole thing together kids were instructed to carefully undo the staples (don’t just pull!) and remove the middle poster, then pull the staples out from the rest of the comic, put the cover pages to the side and then somehow push the staples back in through the remaining pages. Unless you have one of those really long office staplers this is impossible, it certainly was for me at this ripe old age never mind back then (I never put it apart as a child).

But in order to show you this as intended I couldn’t just hold up the middle of the comic and try to get a photo of the inside covers, so just for you lot my copy shall forever fall apart. See what I do for this site? Anyway, it really is a thing of beauty, just like all J.T. Dogg art really. I also love the names of the bikes which I don’t think have been mentioned before; the Hogley-Davison Porkchopper 222, the Yakawaki Trikey-Wikey 5000 and my personal favourite the Sinclaire C500 Electrodustbin, a little dig at the Sinclair C5 personal electric cycle from the 80s.

The ‘Hogs would be back in the next issue with the start of their brand new adventure, The Day of the Triffics which was first name checked way back in #11! This, along with the back page of #27 acted as a way of hyping up the readership for their long-awaited return, although it was kind of lost on me because I hadn’t read their earlier strip, what with my first issue being #14. The artwork looked wonderful though and very funny, but nothing could prepare me for how much I’d fall in love with the characters just two weeks after these posters.

This issue has a “fantastic” back page too. When you turn to it initially you might think there’s been a printing error because it’s upside down but in reality it’s just another clever gag on the part of Chris Sievey aka Frank Sidebottom. Frank’s showbiz career and (probably more importantly) lifestyle was his main running gag, with strips featuring him mingling with celebrities who in reality were cut-out photos glued to the page. Flip over this issue of OiNK however and you’ll see he’s taken it to the next level as a cover star of Time magazine.

Having this printed upside down means the comic opens on the correct side of this faux cover, which in itself is a little bit of genius. As ever, his attempts to convince us of his worldwide fame are hilariously portrayed. For example, one very quick glance at the background of the supposed Yellowstone National Park photograph will give the game away. Chris’ creations, showing his character’s poor attempts at creating a fictional reality around his ego, were always a highlight and actually, as fun as the strips were, I think I preferred it when he did stuff like this.

I’ve (carefully) flipped the comic over again and placed it back on to the shelf as we’ve come to the end of yet another review. The next issue of OiNK is themed around sport which is not my favourite topic (Olympics aside) so it’ll be interesting to see how it tickles my funny bone. Remember, just the day before this review was published there was an in-depth look at Crash magazine #42 which featured an interview with OiNK’s three human editors and a lot more besides. The special free issue of OiNK given away with that magazine will also have its own review, which you’ll be able to read from Saturday 2nd July 2020. Then #32 of the regular comic will be here from Monday 11th July. Phew! See you soon I hope.