Monday, 27 February 2017


Back in 2015 I ran a series of posts over six months called Beyond Oink! which took a look at the other main comics I collected as a kid and teen after the piggy publication first introduced me to them.  I was thrilled with the feedback I received from both fellow readers and the people within the UK comics industry who had worked on them.  But sometimes we forget these posts are still there to read and recently I was very pleasantly surprised as a result of the post about the classic comic Wildcat.

As a fan of both of these comics it's a thrill to be writing this post

Some of the comics I collected back then may not have lasted too long but that doesn't mean they were in any way of a lesser quality.  The comics industry was going through a crash at the time and some amazing creations were unfortunate casualties, which I mentioned on more than one occasion during that series of posts.  Fleetway in particular produced a hugely varied range of stunning British strips in both originated and licenced comics.  The quality of the writing and art in these titles has got to be seen to be believed and are well worth hunting down today on eBay and the like.  The two comics above, Wildcat and Ring Raiders are perfect examples, with the former running to 12 issues and some specials, the latter only to 6 and one special to finish off the stories.

Wildcat's story was immense in its formation with the destruction of Earth and the exploration of a possible new world.  Each story centred on one party's attempts on the surface of the world, backed up by a series of complete stories set aboard Wildcat itself which ranged from social commentary to horror.  Unfortunately it was released at a time when comics were already struggling and by the time Ring Raiders came along the market was in an even worse state!  'Raiders was based on the Matchbox toys of the same name which we ran around "flying" on our fingers and which seemed set to be the next big thing with everything from a cartoon series to vast amounts of collectible merchandise in the works.  Unfortunately that never happened despite their huge success the one Christmas they did fill the shelves of our toy shops.  The comic produced wonderful characterisation and action from these little plastic planes and by the end of the short run it was clear a complex history and epic storylines were being curated and would've been explored if it hadn't been cancelled.


So anyway, recently on Twitter the superb account called Great News For All Readers posted a cover from Wildcat on the day of its original release, something they do quite a lot for comics from across the wide spectrum of UK titles:

A great Twitter account to follow (click to enlarge)

I just had to reply of course!  I linked to the Wildcat post, not to self-publicise but because there's still not really anything else about this wonderful comic online, which is a crime, so I thought followers may like to see more of the fantastic work produced.  I was beyond thrilled to receive a reply from Barrie Tomlinson after he'd read my post, who turned out to be the editor of Wildcat!  Not only Wildcat, but of Ring Raiders too!  I couldn't believe it and we set about chatting a little.  As it turns out Barrie is putting the finishing touches to a new book about his time in the UK comics biz working on titles like the aforementioned two, Tiger, Scream, Battle, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles Adventures (another covered during Beyond Oink!), Toxic Crusaders, new Eagle, Mask and others, as well as annuals including Big Daddy, Geoff Boycott and Suzanne Dando.  Barrie also wrote and produced the Scorer strip for the Daily Mirror for twenty-two years, six days a week and was in charge of Roy of the Rovers which he's already covered in book form.

That's one hell of a career.


Barrie (left) with footballer Malcolm MacDonald
taking a look at an issue of Tiger

The book is to be titled Comic Book Hero and will include many tales of working on all of these great publications.  For example, with Tiger there's chat about all the celebrities who were involved with the comic, including lots of photographs to go alongside them.  Also, the cover is a new piece by David Sque and features Hot-Shot Hamish, Billy Dane from Billy's Boots, Skid Solo, Roy of the Rovers and Johnny Cougar.

Due for release in September from Pitch Publishing it's sure to be an essential read for fans of any of the many comics Barrie's worked on, or even for anyone with an interest in the UK comics scene of those times.  I'll definitely be picking it up so you can expect it to be covered in depth here on The Oink! Blog.

Barrie's book is eagerly anticipated!

I'm currently putting together some questions about Wildcat and Ring Raiders which Barrie has graciously agreed to answer this week.  These will be for the blog and will form two special posts nearer the time of the release of Comic Book Hero, but in the meantime Barrie has already given me some great information about the creation of Wildcat which I'll be adding to that Beyond Oink! post this week, so watch out for news of an update in a day or two.

So stay tuned for further information on the release later in the year, but if you're a fan of Roy of the Rovers you can click here to purchase Barrie's previous book.

To go and have a look at the complete Beyond Oink! series you can click here, or to read specifically about Barrie's titles you can choose from the links here:
Ring Raiders
Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles Adventures

Finally, if you're on Twitter click here to follow Great News for all Readers, or you can always see the same covers on their website here instead.

From one hugely excited fan to hopefully many more, I'll see you soon!

Sunday, 25 December 2016



29 years ago today this cheery face greeted so many of us on Christmas morning and brought with it so many laughs and fond memories it's remained my favourite childhood book of any kind to this day.  More than that though it reads just as well as an adult, not only ageing well but always appealing to readers of all ages, young and old (of which I'm unfortunately in the latter category these days).  I've covered it before across three posts back in 2014 and you can still access them by clicking on the back cover at the bottom (no pun intended) of this post.  But to celebrate the festive season and the very, very best time of the year I decided to delve back in one more time and bring you eight strips to chuckle at while the rest of the family watch the Queen.

There's some characters here we haven't heard from in a long time on the blog and I've deliberately picked out some of those you may have been missing.  So below we've got fan-favourites Roger Rental, He's Completely Mental (written by Mark Rodgers, drawn by Ian Knox), Horace [Ugly Face] Watkins (from Tony Husband), Mr. Big Nose (Banx) and Hugo the Hungry Hippo (Haldane).

Oink! also took the hand out of the traditional comics, but always lovingly so as the team had grown up as fans obviously.  The Oink! Book 1988 had a very funny mini-comic inside called The Deano which lampooned the fact the Beano and Dandy had reached their 50th anniversary milestone.  I included some of these before in the second post from the annual two Christmases ago, but here now is Desperate Old Man by Tony Husband and drawn very authentically by Ed McHenry when compared to the original comic!

We loved our photo stories and spoofs, so below is the Mark Rodgers-scripted At the Library which was the comic's own version of such educational stories that would've been found in much younger children's magazines and comics.  With photos taken by James Gallagher, it was included in another of the annual's pitch-perfect comedy takes on the mini-comic, Fun-hour.

I've also thrown in The Zits from Dave Fellows, a strip which only ever appeared in this book and which I included the first of in the third part of my previous write-up.  Both were by Dave, who only contributed to some early editions of Oink!, so they were possibly meant as regular characters originally.  Perhaps the decision was made not to include them, or perhaps Dave moved on.  Either way, they made for perfect annual-fodder.  Plus, later in the regular comic's run we'd a certain Pete & his Pimple to take on the mantle of spotty favourite.

Finally at the bottom of the post is Ena Blighty's Five Go Adventuring Yet Again.  These strips (written by Mark with the artwork of Chas Sinclair) spoofed how outdated the Famous Five books actually were and this strip in particular hits a great comedic note at the end of 2016!  I'm sure you'll catch my drift given some of the bigger events of the year!

Enjoy folks!

I hope you've a fantastic day and indeed an awesome Christmas altogether!  I'll be back in the New Year and remember you can click on the back cover of this annual below to be taken right back to my original post of highlights.  There, each of the three write-ups are linked together sequentially too.

Have a good one everyone!

Saturday, 24 December 2016


Merry Christmas Eve to everyone out there!  I hope you're all as happy and excited about the season as I am.  Already I've swapped presents with one of my best friends as is our tradition, received wonderful birthday gifts and enjoyed some birthday and Christmas lunches, dinners and nights out with some friends and my better half .  I do love this time of year and am looking forward to seeing the family tomorrow.

I don't need to tell you how the Christmas editions of our comics were a big part of that anticipation of the holidays when we were kids, am I right?  It's great to see a festive Beano still out there on the shelves every year and today I've plucked out three pages from the two Christmas Oink!s we enjoyed three decades ago.  Yes, I've already covered them before and you can click on their covers at the bottom of this post to read the highlights, but today I've deliberately chosen three children's stories from them.  After all, it's tradition to have some Christmas-themed, sweet and innocent children's tales this time of year.

Well, forget about it.  Being sweet and innocent was never Oink!'s aim, it set out to be different from the rest and, most importantly, to actually be funny!  It had a habit of sending up the more traditional stories we'd have been reading as youngsters and below are three such examples from writer Mark Rodgers and artist Dave Skillen in Xmas in Toytown which does a superb job of imitating kids' books of the day, Tony Husband and Chas Sinclair with the tale with a bang that is The Woodcutter and finally Personby Claret the Know-it-all Parrot makes his one-and-only (unfortunately) appearance in Short John Slither, a pirate adventure for the holidays from writers G&K (sorry, I have no idea who that is) and Viz artist Steve Gibson lends his skills to make it a one-of-a-kind experience.

Thanks to Patrick Gallagher for the help in identifying those responsible for these pages.

Top two from #17, Personby from #43

That's not quite all from The Oink! Blog for Christmas 2016 though.  Tomorrow there'll be some more highlights from the first annual, The Oink! Book 1988, when I'll post up seven more classics including some from favourite characters who we haven't seen anything from in quite some time on the blog!  So when you're stuffed with stuffing come back, settle down with a Schloer and enjoy a good giggle from the annual you received 29 years ago!

In the meantime here's those two issues you can read all about from their previous blog posts: