You know something, this has been the best fun, updating the blog with this issue! It's been harder than ever to choose what to scan in but that's just a sign of how brilliant this issue is. For a start, this is one of my very favourite covers (another Ian Jackson masterpiece) of the whole run and definitely the best so far in my opinion. Beating issue 3 to the top issue in the blog at this point for me, Oink! really hit its stride here, there's an air of confidence about the whole issue, and on top of that a great theme running through nearly every single strip.
Of which, we'll start with a one-off written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by Weedy Willy's artist, Mike Green (don't worry, Willy will be making an appearance soon. Oh shush, you know what I meant!):
Every time I see that cat sitting on the windowsill in December it makes me laugh, I have no idea why! I love how this starts off just as innocent as any other comic strip of the day, with the cat providing the grins, and then in the last few panels it all turns into, well, 'Oink!' again. It's testimony to the comic that its one-off strips are as well remembered amongst some fans as the regular characters and this is one which has stood the test of time and the old grey memory cells. The unpredictability of what would come with each issue would keep everything so fresh - you just didn't know what to expect every issue!
Mike Green is also one of only two Oink! contributors who'd continue on with their characters after the comic folded into Buster, but that's a tale for another time.
Co-editor Patrick Gallagher's neighbour, Ann Martin brought her gorgeous artwork to this issue. When I first wrote this I didn't know who the artist was, but when I featured Ann's work in #60's post Patrick was able to help identify her. So I've popped back to add this bit of information to this issue, because she simply must be credited for this! Sublime art and the script is all one perfect big set up for a good ol' pun!:
Talk about a pay off! Such fantastic artwork (thank you Ann!) going into a piss-take of Watership Down is just brilliant and as the series continues you'll see more and more fantastic art being used to great effect on some fantastic spoofs. And if puns like the above make you groan, just be warned about our last strip in this update(!).
But first, a little educational break from Uncle Pigg's Amazing Facts About Animals, written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by Ed McHenry:
Children's favourite stories were never safe, as you've seen above, and even huge franchises such as Transformers could be the target. But us kids loved that! We loved seeing our favourite TV shows given the Oink! treatment (as I've mentioned before it was like seeing your favourite celebrity on Spitting Image) and while Rupert the Bear was never one of mine, he was just as loved back then as Winnie the Pooh or Mickey Mouse, both of which would later also make an appearance within the pages of a much better comic than their own!:
I can remember this strip but I think it was from a later holiday special which ran some reprints, as I don't think I'd started collecting the comic at this stage. Written by Mark Rodgers (you may be seeing a trend this issue!) and drawn by Cowpat County's Davy Francis, Rupert the Pear was the first of many child favourites that'd appear mimicking the actual way we'd see them in their own books and comics. I remember at the time I was still into Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends alongside the more grown up boy's toys, but I appreciated the way Oink! would do this to them all and as you can see, Mark really didn't hold back!
Just wait 'til you see what happens to the aforementioned steam train...
Ian Hope is a name I'm not familiar with, nor is the character Young Igor, so I'm afraid I haven't got an awful lot to say about this next strip, but come on this is good stuff:
As it turns out this was the only appearance of the character but he does look familiar, so that's either my memory of Oink! and getting this as a back issue in the 80s (as the cover is very definitely familiar!), or he may just remind me of some of my neighbours.
Fact time again:
And now the afternoon film. Yes, The Golden Trough Awards have featured just recently in the blog but the beauty of these is that they're all so different, and when I read this one and saw that dog how could I not want to scan this one in!:
Written by Tony Husband and, obviously, drawn by Ian Jackson, Laffie is everything a proper wonderdog should be - cool, collected, talented and is 'anti-establishment' too strong? Yeah, I'll just go for 'naughty' instead. I remember I could spend so long just looking at Jackson's artwork and roaring with laughter as a kid and the feeling hasn't dissipated as an adult, though I must say this issue's track record of bad puns is sky-rocketing.
Another couple of treats this issue if you can pick it up on eBay are Roger Rental He's Completely Mental, a brilliant Hadrian Vile and a really top Tom Thug, below which was a little unassuming two-panel strip. None of us knew what would follow after this(!):
Yes! Excuse the excitement, and if you're new to Oink! you'll probably be wondering why this little strip is being given such prominence. Lew Stringer's Pete and his Pimple is an Oink! legend! One of my very faves and a top character among fans, Pete would continue from here all the way through the run and then into the pages of Buster alongside Willy and Tom. This little strip would open up a world for a brand new character who'd sit alongside the others in his own full-page (or whatever Uncle Pigg allowed) stories and just you wait and see what'd happen to that pimple and those around it!
But that, like Weedy Willy, is for another blog update and this is just a tease for the fans and a look at how he was originally introduced. I always thought he was there from the very beginning with his own regular pages so it's interesting to see he started off almost as a one-off addition to the Tom Thug page.
Ok, so I did warn you above, but if you're prone to the groans prepare yourself right now. Never in the history of mankind have so many been brought together quite so eloquently (ha!). Who's to blame? That'd be regular IPC writer Graham Exton (well, I'm assuming so from the initials and Graham's work on Oink!) and artist Ed McHenry. I accept no responsibility, even though I scanned it, in two bits to get the whole A4+ page in, pasted them together to form the original piece, saved it to a quick-loading format, uploaded it and saved it here. Nope, not my fault at all:
(For some more insights into the creation of this particular strip, and even some background into the main fish(!), see the comments section for some info from script writer Graham Exton after the post went live. Thanks Graham!)
Aw I really don’t want this issue to end, it’s been a blast and I just want to share more of it with you, but restraint must be shown!