Friday, 11 July 2014

#32: CAUSING A RACKET


I'm not a big sports fan, never have been.  Football/soccer bores me.  There, I've said it.  Now the Olympics I do enjoy, in fact I love them and it's the only time you'll see me glued to the screen for any kind of sporting event.  Back as a teen I took an interest in proper football (the American sort) after dabbling in John Madden on the Mega Drive and later followed the American basketball for a while.  I do keep active myself, running and swimming and I look forward to the next Summer and Winter Games, but that's it and so issues of a sporting theme were never going to grab me in the same way as others in Oink!'s run, but they'd a large audience to write for and so I went in to this one with an open mind.

Even with my limited sporting knowledge and even more limited enjoyment of a lot of it, there's still some nice treats in this latest issue and artist Steve McGarry follows up his previous sporting cover for #4 for starters, though the accompanying strip isn't great I have to say.  Inside it's a surprisingly mixed bag but the highlights are definitely the return of The StreetHogs, Weedy Willy's usual 3-panel strip is as good as ever (he hasn't had a full page in a long time now, strange for a character that would live beyond the life of the comic for a while) and Hadrian Vile continues his preparations for his baby brother or sister and as usual causes chaos, but at the moment he's even funnier because he's actually trying to do something he's not used to - being nice!

Now the 'Hogs will be appearing in their own posts very soon just like they did originally last year on the blog (click on their label on the left there to see their previous adventure) and back then another early addition to each issue of Oink! that had its own selection of posts were the Oink! Superstar Posters.  You can see them here and here.  Six of these were drawn by the 'Hogs' J.T. Dogg, but the last two were by Ian Jackson, who many would say was the signature artist of the comic.

Well Ian returns to the poster format and indeed another Oink! Superstar one at that for this issue and I don't need to say that this is another highlight of the issue.  Even though I have just said it:


Now, recently in the Oink! Facebook group, member Caroline Stokes shared the following old magazine advert:


Yes, Oink! has a very random sense of humour at times and this has rubbed off on those of us who grew up reading it, but there was method in Caroline's madness, as she'd remembered Oink! did a spoof!  As coincidence would have it, writer Graham Exton and artist Lew Stringer had indeed concocted the following for this very issue:


Only slightly more ludicrous than the original ad.

Excitingly this issue does see the introduction of one of my most fondly remembered strips.  Created by Rubbish Man's Haldane, it was a half-page regular strip in which we got to see two brothers, twins, take great pride in their work.  They really enjoyed their career, strived to be the very best at what they did, had found a niche industry to build a good reputation in and most of all knew how to have a good, light-hearted attitude in the workplace.  Surely really good role models for the UK's youth?

Certainly.  Introducing The Torture Twins:


Sticking with Haldane for a moment, way back in the depths of time that was #4 I introduced the blog's first Zootown tale by stating how the more docile creatures featured would never actually end up on the buffet menu.  That even though the carnivorous characters in each edition would make remarks towards their ingestion, there still seemed to be some kind of strange friendship towards the cuddly bear-type creatures.

Well I've been wrong before...:


In the last two issues I've featured Banx's brilliant Burp, the Smelly Alien from Outer Space.  Though he could have changed his character's sub-heading to the Gory Alien from Outer Space, made even funnier by the fact Burp himself seemed immune to what he was doing and the surreal nature of said gore.  With the surprise effects of his malfunctioning fast food machine in #30, followed by the inner workings (literally) of Ronald Reagan's head in #31 and then this issue's final outcome, I'm including his strip again in his own kind of Trilogy of (Unintentional) Terror.  Take it away one more time, Burp:


One of the best bits of information I found out from getting to speak to the Oink! creators online was that Cowpat County artist Davy Francis is also from Northern Ireland, just like me.  In fact I've lived in the same city for the past 12 years, though just moved away a couple of months ago - this is separate from finding out Davy lives there I should add!  So for me seeing his artwork now in the comic is extra special as it's officially from "local talent" as the Belfast Telegraph would put it.  Anyway, just thought I'd share as I thought this next one-off was a bit special too:


Tom's Toe first appeared back in #12 of the comic and I never thought we'd see him again, as he appeared to be very much a one-off strip to take the mickey out of the comic titles which artist John Greering usually worked on, with Whizzer and Chips taking the brunt of it in that issue.  Pleasingly, Tom has reappeared once or twice since then, for example in the Holiday Special.  Well here he's back once more, now with a sporting theme and once again it's quite clear it's having a good-humoured stab at its stablemate titles.

To show you what I mean I've split the page into two parts below.  Here's the first half:


Now in what you might call a "normal" comic this would've been the entire story.  The above would've been expanded to a full page, with Tom and his friends innocently playing football, bursting the ball, moaning their fun was all over and then Tom's unique ability producing that comic's "hilarious" climax.  "Hahaa, oh he made it into a football this week, that's great!  I wonder what he'll do next time?"

But this is Oink!

Oink! takes what the other comics would do and goes that bit further.  In this case, it answers the question of how exactly would that work then?!:


I don't remember Tom's Toe at all from my childhood so I'm not sure how often he appears but I do hope he comes back at some point, as he's a great antidote for the stereotypical comics of the day.  The fact he's drawn by an artist who would draw for those other comics all the time just makes him even more special!  Great stuff.

Even the comic's regular characters would sometimes throw us a curve ball and we'd get something different now-and-then.  Such as cut-out Christmas decorations of Tom Thug, a special mini-comic for Pete and his Pimple (to come up soon) or a frankly scary-looking Snatcher Sam mask.  But surely no other character had such a diverse amount of content than Chris Sievey's Frank Sidebottom.

Chris seems to have really enjoyed creating things for the kids to make or play with and he certainly didn't let us down with this issue's (deep breath) Frank "Windy" Sidebottom vs Elton John All-Star Cut-Out Snooker Game.  I challenge anyone to understand these rules:


I love the writing on the underside of the cut-out Elton John, "you can even"(!!) cut up other magazines or your own photos, like Frank was imparting something brilliant and unheard of.  It was also Oink! getting its readers to go and cut up everyone else's things too.

So there we go, that's it for now but I'll be back on Friday 25th July with an issue theme which really puzzled me as a kid, but which at the same time made me very, very happy to be living in Northern Ireland and not England.  What is it?  Come back and find out.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

#31: "WE'RE THE PIGS IN HAMERICA (WHOA)"


This issue has made me do something terrible.  Something horrific.  Something akin to the most delicate of medical procedures.  I had to take the issue apart!  Not just the middle two pages that we may have done as kids, nono.  No, this made me take apart the whole damn thing!  Why?  You'll see.

But first, how about that cover, eh?  Andy Roper returns after his superb The Spectacles of Doom from issues #22 and #23 with this take on the legend of King Kong - King Pong.  But as great as the cover is (and we'll return to Andy's artwork for the character a little down the page here) it's that logo which obviously stands out!  Despite the colour pink being symbolic of everything "girlie" when I was a boy the Oink! logo was the exception, and was a bold move by Patrick Gallagher, but it was the one thing in pink us fellas loved.

It was always fun back then to see something different being done with it though.

But I still won't wear a pink shirt to this day.

Now I know Mr Burp has featured quite a lot recently but the alien is on a roll, simple as that!  After his gory escapade last issue here he is again just casually helping by... well, you'll see how... I don't want to ruin the surprise.  Maybe his creator Banx was working through some anger issues at the time, or maybe he just wasn't a fan of Ronald Reagan, our special guest:


Yes, somewhat surprised me too!  But I do have vague memories of this one and the casual way in which Burp chainsaws the top of his head off.  You wouldn't see that in any other kids' comic!  But it was just funny, it didn't feel shocking or gory, it was just Oink!  A superb strip though.

Another character reappearing in this post after having only appeared on the blog a fortnight ago is Hadrian Vile, but instead of a look at vacuous celebrities he's taking on a altogether more serious subject, albeit in his own inimitable style...:


Mark Rodgers and Ian Jackson's creation is getting a baby sibling and we'd see the build up over the following months, with Hadrian doing his best to make his mark on his mum's pregnancy.  We'd also finally see the big day itself and the arrival of his potential protege in a special 3-page strip much later in the run, so keep an eye out.  In the meantime we'll check in now and again to see how it's all going, though I dread to think what kind of things that baby would hear from the outside world!

I've said it before but I'll ask it again - I wonder if Oink! had kept on running how this strip would've changed?  With the small act of Hadrian's age increasing by 1 in the title (with the comic's birthday issue) Mark and Ian committed to Hadrian growing up with the readers which in my view was a brave move.  It was certainly unique and I'm struggling to think of any other children's comic character that's aged in real time like that.  With the addition of a new baby it was now more than just the joke of changing the age for the anniversary issue and it's just such a shame the comic didn't last a few years longer to see where they would've taken this idea!

The Golden Trough Awards have featured randomly at times in the comic itself, never mind the blog, and have produced consistently brilliant strips.  In fact one of my favourite strips so far in the whole comic has been one of these - the one from what is probably my favourite issue so far - and now they're back in full throttle once more, as ever written by Tony Husband, but this time drawn by Pete Dredge who many may remember for the Master T strip in early issues, and who seems to have taken over as Awards artist from Ian Jackson and Tony himself from #28.

You have to admit, his art style just seems the perfect fit for a shady gangster tale somehow:


Take some time away from the blog and check out Pete's own website, full of fantastic galleries of his other work including 1-panels, comic strips and caricatures.  Be warned though, you'll want to read everything so make sure you've set aside enough time before Pointless comes on.

Pot shots are being taken all over the place in this issue against the Americans - nothing is safe.  From McDonald's in When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, to seeing what the famous lady does in her spare time in The Statue of Liberty When No-one is Looking.  Pete and his Pimple go up against a Texan zit and superheroes are the order of the day in Hector Vector and His Talking T-shirt and The Incredible Hump, and the Americans celebrate meeting alien life when The Eagle has Landed (in Egypt!).

As superb as these all are, none sum up the attitude Oink! had towards the States quite like Banx's Mr Big Nose:


Could've been written today couldn't it?

The back page of this issue is actually upside-down but it's no simple printing error, it's a second front cover of sorts, as when you place the artwork the right way up having the staples on the left and the comic opening on the right just adds to this fake Time cover from none other than Frank Sidebottom:


Chris Sievey's strips under the guise of his alter ego Frank would always squeeze in famous friends and his celebrity lifestyle at every opportunity.  Of course as you'll have seen previously his "celebrity lifestyle" wasn't quite how many others would've described it and in real life Chris was happy to do small gigs and never craved the spotlight in the way his creation did.  But Frank's endeavours to become a global sensation had already proved successful - in Frank's mind anyway!  Hence the above "cover".

Okay, big news coming up but first we need to get back to that real front cover and that "giant ape-like pig"... bit of a stretch but go with it because the strip to follow features some brilliant Andy Roper artwork matched up with a snappy Mark Rodgers script.  The level of detail from Andy raises an already brilliant 2-page story to that of a real "event" strip and look out for the return of his The Spectacles of Doom soon!

But first, there's nothing quite like a biplane-skating giant ape-like pig monster to fill the gap:


Now, what's that big news?  And why did I have to take apart this issue so completely for this update?  Well, the answer lies in the 2-part "giant" (to our small hands at the time anyway) poster we got with it.  One part lay inside the middle pages as posters normally do, however the other part was inside the covers, across pages 2 and 31.  So, yes, this meant undoing staples and taking it all apart and, if you were particularly ambitious, threading those staples back together again to keep the remaining 24 pages together.  Or not, as the case probably was in most cases.

The subject of this unique DIY poster?  None other than The Streethogs!  Which also means we get to welcome back the artwork of J.T. Dogg!  Asides from the Crash special we haven't had the pleasure of his work since #19's final Ham Dare chapter, so it's a very welcome return because we now get to see his work every single fortnight for the foreseeable future, as this poster is a way of getting the porky pals' fans all "geared up" for the next issue and part one of The Day of the Triffics!

I'll be putting them up in parts like the previous adventure (which you can read in four previous posts - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4) but first here's that complete poster and a closer look at the individual parts, with brilliant technical information (kind of) on the bikes at last:


Lots of people comment that the humour in Oink! is still very much relevant today, all these years later.  It's still making people laugh, even those who are too young to remember some of those celebrity references or to have seen the movies or TV shows the comic spoofs.  But for our last strip this fortnight, starring everyone's favourite angry critic Mary Lighthouse, this feels particularly true because while she's very clearly talking to then-US President Ronald Reagan, it could just as easily be Dubya!:


Couldn't it?  Timeless strip there from the mind of Mark Rodgers and the hand of Ian Jackson.

In a fortnight we'll be back on these shores again for the sports issue which goes on sale on Friday 11th July.  Until then I'll be busy trying to piece this thing back together again........

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

THE NEW OINK! AWARDS 2014 - RESULTS

Here we go then!  Thanks to everyone who responded with their nominees for the updated 2014 Oink! Awards!  If you're just joining us you can catch up on the original 1987 ceremony by clicking here to see the fantastic celebrity turnout for the original event.

For those in the know, you'll remember the Oink! readers were asked to nominate in some very dubious categories and those who "won" each would be safe in the knowledge of knowing exactly how the youngsters of the time felt about them!  The categories were as follows:


Well recently I thought it'd be a fun idea to ask readers of this blog and members of the Oink! Facebook group to vote in the exact same categories but for today's celebrities, songs (Worst Pop Record of '13/'14 for example), TV shows etc.  I've had a great reaction to this and so now here come the results as voted for by you!

I've spared no expense in setting this up, inviting back H.R.H. herself as you can see:


So without further ado, here's YOUR list of winners and, in some cases at least, those that received more than a handful of nominations but didn't quite make the big leagues...

WORLD'S BIGGEST WALLY 2014
WINNER - KIM JONG-UN
Honourable Mentions - Justin Bieber, Russell Brand

WORLD'S WORST POP GROUP 2014
WINNERS - ONE DIRECTION
Honourable Mentions - no one else came close!

WORLD'S UGLIEST PERSON 2014
WINNER - MILEY CYRUS
Honourable Mentions - Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, Rebekah Brooks

WORLD'S WORST POP RECORD 2013/14
WINNER - BEST SONG EVER by ONE DIRECTION
Honourable Mentions - Happiness by Pharell Williams (awww no way!), many other One Direction songs

WORLD'S MOST IRRITATING DJ 2014
WINNER - CHRIS MOYLES
Honourable Mention -Sara Cox

WORLD'S DIRTIEST FOOTBALLER
(will take your word for this, I'm lost in this category!)
WINNER - DIEGO MARADONA
(Maradona is the only person to win in both 1987 and 2014!  Seems some people are holding on to it - bit like he did...)
Honourable Mention - Ronaldo

WORLD'S WORST COMEDIAN
WINNER - RICKY GERVAIS
(Could not agree more, folks!)
Honourable Mentions - Peter Kay, Jimmy Carr

WORLD'S WORST TV PROGRAMME
WINNER - THE X-FACTOR
Honourable Mentions - The Wright Stuff, Millionaire Matchmaker, Game of Thrones

WORLD'S WORST DRESSED PERSON
WINNER - MILEY CYRUS
Honourable Mentions - Lady Gaga, Grayson Perry, Eric Pickles

WORLD'S WORST COMIC
WINNER - THE DAILY MAIL
Honourable Mentions - Superior Spiderman, The Sun

Well it looks like you've all got a great sense of humour!  So there you have it, now who's going to tweet the results to the Mail...?

Thanks again to everyone who took part, was good fun compiling this, and I'll see you all next week for #31.