Ah now this... this brings back memories. It's brilliant now being in amongst the issues I enjoyed as a kid and this one in particular I've been looking forward to. When I was but a wee boy I grew up with the TV Times and have especially fond memories of the festive editions. These days it's all EPGs and TiVo wishlists for me, but there's something wonderfully Christmassy and nostalgic about going through the printed magazine guide of the TV Times, which is why I've bought a couple of issues (Christmas one and the one before it) this year. Back in 1986 I placed this issue of the TV Tips Oink! proudly beside my mum's TV Times in the magazine rack for the whole of the school holiday. Well it was my guide to Christmas after all.
And what a present this poster turned out to be too! The third and final part of the calendar for 1987 came with this issue and when assembled next to the parts from issues 15 and 16 this dominated my bedroom for the whole of the next year. It was subject to many pen marks when crossing off dates and highlighting birthdays obviously, but it was treasured! Below is the final part of the poster from the copy of this issue I now own and below that is the complete poster as seen in a photograph again very kindly sent to me by Kevin Tuson at the Facebook group. You're a lucky man to have the complete thing Kevin!:
There's a rich feast of pickings in this issue itself too and we're going to build to the main event where we finally see Uncle Pigg back in comic strip action, but first the stocking fillers! To set the mood, how about a little Roger Rental from Ian Knox?:
This reminds me so much of my mate's wedding night earlier this year! On the surface a lovely evening, everybody dolled up, the bride looking lovely and the groom and best man headbanging on the dance floor. Quite a night and one Roger would've enjoyed!
I have to say I'm being a little bit selfish with this update. There were certain strips and pages which came flooding back to me upon reading them and it's these I'm including for that very reason. For example, Haldane's Zootown this time around:
Ok so your stocking has been all tipped out onto your bed and played with and now you've hastily thrown it all back in and are carrying it to the living room to go mad with Santa's presents. On the TV back in the day was Noel's Christmas Presents, which would always result in my mum and sisters in absolute floods of tears every single year. Me, I was too busy with my Thomas train set. But shows like that are commonplace, showing us the true meaning of Christmas and Oink! wasn't above doing that too, for example with this by Mark Rodgers and Davy Francis:
So what was on offer for us on TV? It really wasn't that much different in theory than it is today. Cartoon movies, The Snowman, as well as EastEnders refusing to have a merry one even back then. The only real difference was that while we have the Christmas special of Doctor Who now, back then it was Knight Rider. But don't be thinking the cliches about the schedules at this time of year are a new thing. Oh no. As Oink! proves:
Interestingly that Bond spoof picture is from the following year's annual, The Oink! Book 1988! That's the logo you can see just above Bong's head. It must've been written and drawn so far in advance for them to use a snippet of it here, a whole 6 or 7 months before its release!
Now, in my family Christmas is a very traditional time and it was no different when I was a lad. Even today, with us all living away from home it's still the same when I'm down there for those few days. The majority of the presents are left until after dinner, after my dad and I have done the dishes while my mum takes an extremely well deserved break and watches the Queen's Speech. In the morning it used to be Santa's presents and in the afternoon it was all the stuff from family and friends under the tree. Still is, except it's the presents between my parents and myself instead of Santa.
Because Santa only comes to children.
Then on to that highlight of my year - my mum's Christmas dinner. And someone else is a fan of the ol' turkey - Banx's Mr. Big Nose:
Can I just say this issue is really making my Christmas again!
Before we carry on with the festivities there was one strip which simply couldn't take on the Christmas theme. Like the afternoon movie which is never really festive and is instead really more designed to keep the kids quiet, can we have a little hush ourselves as we enjoy the next exciting instalment of our own ongoing saga, Ham Dare from Lew Stringer and J.T. Dogg:
Ok, so we've had the stocking opened up and the bits'n'pieces are everywhere, we've taken on board the message of Christmas, checked the TV listings, had dinner and enjoyed a movie, but before we move on to your main present let's not forget the TV will be chock full of adverts for the sales all day, so if you haven't had enough of all that shopping here's what you could buy early for next year:
Now previously I've mentioned, way back in #9 (flip, I have been doing this for a while already - that's just hit me!), that the G.B.H. Christmas catalogues are very fondly remembered. I must say though that I was a little disappointed this one wasn't the 3-page catalogue I remember - that must be next year! But for now this will more than suffice, especially with that smug little fox leaving his mark on that poor snowman.
And now, finally, time for the main event. We haven't seen our esteemed editor Uncle Pigg in an actual strip in a while, though we have seen Mary Lighthouse. But while Mary does appear below this will even the balance somewhat!
Written by the ever-original Mark Rodgers and drawn by the superlative Ian Jackson, this 4-page (yes, four pages of Uncle Pigg et all!) story was spread throughout the comic and provided a lovely narrative for the issue, with the story even popping up in a Rubbish Man from Haldane strip midway through the issue too, which I've also included below.
I remember, clear-as-a-bell, reading this and loving every second of it as this was my first taste of a proper Uncle Pigg strip, all drawn in such a unique way for my new-to-Oink! eyes so I just lapped it all up greedily, reading it over and over and even lying in bed on Christmas Eve reading it yet again (even though the next issue had already arrived - see bottom of this post) as I eagerly awaited Santa.
There's so much to love here so I'll shut up and let you get on with it without any more of my gushing. Here in it's complete state, from throughout the issue and with Rubbish Man included, is Oink!'s own Christmas Tail (not a typo, they're pigs!):
Incase you're wondering what that present is that Uncle Pigg refers to, it was a cut-out mobile for hanging up from your bedroom ceiling - "The Xmas Present for People who hate Xmas", it showed Santa and his reindeer flying away from plops with grenades, with a couple of explosions thrown in for good measure.
Now the next issue is where I'm kind of going to break the rule of the blog. A bit. You see, around Christmas time we'd always get our comics that little bit early, as back then shops and distributors simply weren't open as much as they are these days. As such, this meant any comics due the week after the big day would usually arrive just before it. So the Hogmanay (oh I've a story about that word for next time!) issue of Oink! actually appeared a day or two before Christmas as it's due date was the 27th. Of course I still read it back then but as I said above the Christmas one was still enjoyed and reread over and over during this time.
So, instead of putting up the New Year's special before Christmas (which doesn't make much sense for this blog and I don't know the exact date it arrived) I'll be posting it up on the issue date instead. It's still keeping within the rule of every other issue..!
So until then I genuinely hope every single one of you have a fantastic and very Merry Christmas! Many Yuletide greetings to all you pig pals and Oink! creators past and present, hope it's a good one!