Friday, 6 September 2013

#10: BACK TO THE GRIND(ER)


What a cover, yeah?  And when I came across it to write this blog entry I instantly recognised the art style, but I simply put it down to probably seeing Mike Roberts' work in Oink! at some stage as a kid and my old grey cells kicking in.  Well the grey cells were trying but they weren't completely catching, as it was actually every Commodore 64 owner's favourite stingey budget game reviewer, the Roger Frames character from Commodore Format, that I remember this artwork from.  Ahh, even more memories than normal.

Love the cover though and this issue is rammed with classic strips.  If you're thinking of collecting some issues on eBay and don't know where to begin you could do a lot worse than picking up #6 and this one to get you started!  Speaking of which, instead of Uncle Pigg it's Tony Husband who starts as the comic means to go on:


In fact our editor would only make fleeting appearances in this issue on a competition page, his own Grunts letters page, introducing a Pigg Tale and in an advert for those 'Prime Porky Products' of Oink! merchandise.  Mary Lighthouse would have a half vertical page to herself, but this issue Mr Pigg takes a back seat to the regulars and guest stars.

This following strip I just had to share on my own personal Facebook page, nevermind the actual Oink! group one, the day before this blog entry when I was scanning them in:


Banx's Mr Big Nose steals the show on a regular basis.  Usually sitting on the bottom half of page 2 at this point, his surreal and always unexpected gag would always come from so far down the left field I challenge anyone to say they ever saw any of the jokes coming!  The above strip was well received on Facebook - I just love showing off this classic comic's timeless humour and surely none could be more appealing to adults now than Mr Nose.

If there's ever one Oink! character you could guarantee would relish the theme of this issue it'd be Hadrian Vile.  Obviously "relish" as in have plenty to say about NOT going back!  This issue would also include a page of the St. Phlopp's Skool Magerzine, but the actual Sekret Diary story won out for me:


Again Ian Jackson's artwork and that deliberately badly typed wording combine to give an anarchic and original slant on the usual schoolboy humour and of course the actual scripts from Mark Rodgers were in themselves works of art.  Hadrian is still one of my all-time favourite comics characters and he's the perfect example of how things would come together in Oink! in perfect harmony (yes, it's late and I've had way too much coffee) to create something which, on its surface, looks completely random but is actually so perfectly designed in every way.

Very, very 'Oink!'.

If you're able to get a copy of this issue you'll notice I've included everything from the first three pages.  By this stage I was beginning to worry there'd be no way I could pick just highlights from the next 29!  Hard work, but I hope you like the selection...

One source of plenty of spoofs in the pages of the comic was Disney, and no character was safe.  I'm not going to spoil any surprises so I'll stick with the first character for you.  My first run in with Dumb Old Duck was in The Oink! Book 1988, but here he is in his first appearance, in the inaugural Ron Dibney strip:


Perfectly mimicking the Disney comic strips of the day, artist Clive Collins does a fantastic job of parodying the Disney style.  Clive's body of work is, like most Oink! contributors, quite amazing and you could spend your evening doing much worse than exploring the extensive galleries of his website, including work for Punch and even for the BBC on a range of Christmas Cards, and Oink! fans themselves will know him well from Maggie Pie, Collector of Weird Things.  As for the cartoon spoofs, keep an eye out for more and believe me when I say no character is safe.  If you think the magical world of Walt is untouchable, think again.

Quick!  I haven't had a comical shark in a while:


Ah, thank you Roger Rental and Ian Knox, much appreciated.

A few years ago I'd collected near enough the complete collection of Oink!, which then I passed them on a year or so later when life circumstances changed and focus had to be elsewhere.  But, of course, you can't keep a good pig down and here I am collecting all over again and doing this blog too.  However, I remember taking some of the comics which had arrived in the post to my former girlfriend's house as I hadn't had a chance to flick through them to check them and I was just casually doing so while she was completely tuckered out and curled up asleep on the sofa.  Her head was resting on my legs and I was doing my very best not to laugh at the Graham Norton show on TV, so as not to wake her up.

I'm a nice, considerate boyfriend.  Well...

I was doing a very good job of it too, until I flicked through this issue (checking all pages were intact, can never be too careful with eBay), and this caught my eye:


Well that was it.  I erupted!  She jumped up, shocked awake!  I tried to apologise but I couldn't stop laughing... when I eventually calmed down and explained I WASN'T laughing at scaring her awake, I showed her what had done it.  One strange look and a shake of the head later and the status quo returned, albeit with me in the bad books for the night.

Was worth it though.

The above was drawn by Ed McHenry, and as I've said before I didn't read all the comics before passing them on, mainly just the ones I already had fond memories of, so this blog is still a whole new experience with some of these, including the rest of this issue.

One of the regulars that hasn't been introduced yet is David Haldane's Billy's Brain strip.  The set up is basically Billy's uncle was a genius and left Billy his brain in his will.  Yup.  However, this is a REALLY smart brain and can move of its own accord, has it's own independent thoughts even with its body dead and buried and now, free from the restraints of an old man's shell, sets out on the exciting adventures he never could before.

In the first half dozen or so issues we'd see two crooks try and fail to steal the brain for their own nefarious (blimey this coffee is strong) needs.  But this issue Billy's back at school and the strip settles down to showing daily life for the brain instead, which for me is much more entertaining anyway:


If you're wondering what the front cover's "Skiver's Survival Kit" is, it was a middle page spread of cut-out extras to help you through your school day, like a false report card, stick-on measles, a furry tongue(!) so you could be sent home, cut out nits to place in your hair, or false doctor's and dentist's appointment cards amongst other things.

This issue would also see the penultimate part of the epic StreetHogs story which started right back in the preview issue.  These guys (and girl) are fondly remembered by all Oink! fans and even though I'd first come across them in their second adventure later in the run they were still a highlight of my whole time with the comic as a kid.  The 'next issue' caption on the inside back cover also focuses on the 'Hogs as the next issue would have them as a kind of headline strip, which would be their final in Oink! for some time, to be replaced by the equally bizarre Ham Dare, Pig of the Future.

But why am I telling you all this when I haven't scanned any in?  Come back to the blog before the next issue and you'll see why, but to end off this edition how about a special one-off Banx extra?:


Next issue on sale Friday 20th September, but remember to come back sometime before then.

4 comments:

Carol said...

Another great review! I really liked Banx - how he would just randomly mention things like 'Warsaw pact' in his comics. Great stuff.

Carol

Phil Boyce said...

He's on the FB group too and it's so interesting to see where he got inspiration for Burp's suit from, an actual interest in real space suits! He's definitely right up there amongst my faves!

Phil Boyce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grover said...

Um.... This could just be me viewing this now with an adult mind.... But frame 5 of Dumb ol Duck... That movie poster says "Star Biter:the legend of oral"....(thanks to a carefully placed hand)