Friday, 26 April 2013

#0: SPECIAL FREE PREVIEW ISSUE


I'm posting this up on the morning of 26th April 2013, exactly 27 years to the day (although it was a Saturday back then, not a Friday) that readers of some of IPC's top comics would find their regular reads wrapped up in a plastic bag with a pink porky on the front telling them they'd got a "Great New Comic" inside.  Unlike previous titles which came out with TV advertising etc, Oink! was released in a new way, with a special free preview edition.

Headed up with that brilliant and classic logo designed by editor Patrick Gallagher, it was a bold and effective title design that continues to be loved to this day!  As for the preview comic itself they certainly didn't skimp!  In later years IPC's preview comics would have half the page count of what would follow, which is fair enough, they were only previews after all.  (I can remember Wildcat and Super Naturals myself, neither of which lasted very long.)  But Oink! was a full issue!  All 32, full-sized, satisfyingly-larger-than-A4 pages in all their glory - what a gift.  It was partially made up of some strips which had formed a 'dummy' issue the creators had put together to originally sell the concept to IPC and above is the first cover, the first appearance of our favourite editor Uncle Pigg, the comic's very own critic Mary Lighthouse and the first time kids would really be exposed to the amazing artwork of Ian Jackson.  It set it apart straight away, and he'd continue inside with this on page 2:


Imagine the impact these first two pages would've made to the kids who had previously only read comics with straight lines!  But it wasn't just the frames obviously, this comic was breaking away from the formulaic and safe titles that saturated the market and which forced too many restrictions on the cartoonists (this was the whole point of Tony Husband, Patrick Gallagher and Mark Rodgers joining together to create Oink! after all, alongside the important difference of the creations belonging to the various creators rather than the publishers!), and was heading out on its own.  Risky, but worth it.  Even the paper would set it apart, being printed on glossy (and larger) high quality stock rather than the newsprint of other IPC humour comics.

But anyway, even though I only came to Oink! a little later, I can remember seeing Ian Jackson's work for the first time and to me it summed up Oink! perfectly as it was unlike anything I'd ever read, and Uncle Pigg fast became my favourite comic character.  I'm sure those kids reading the preview would've felt the same way.

It's the lips he draws isn't it?  Out over the teeth...

Anyway, in this blog I'll be posting up the cover of each issue and a few of the strips inside.  It's not going to be a 'best of', as let's face it that'd make it impossible to pick the strips.  But don't worry if your favourite character hasn't appeared yet, I can guarantee they will.  For example this issue also contained our first encounters with Tom Thug, Rubbish Man, Harry the Head, Billy Bang etc, as well as some which never made it to the fortnightly.

So, what was the first full strip to appear in Oink! to set the mood for the comic to come?:


Written by one of Oink!'s creators, the late and very great Mark Rodgers, and drawn by Davy Francis Cowpat County was the everyday story of country folk, apparently.  We wouldn't find out the name of the farmer (Giles) until #14, but in the meantime we'd also our first celebrity piss-take in the shape of David Bellamy and his unique voice.  As an adult we're all used to celebrities being treated in this way, and back then we also had Spitting Image on TV on a Sunday night (which, unlike Oink!, my mother never approved of), but this kind of thing had never been done like this in children's comics before.  It was a revelation to me!

Other comics would follow suit, even The Dandy from 2010 until it ceased publication in 2012 seemed like it was trying to be more Oink!-like, albeit in a more tame way.  It even included "Madvertisements", a term Oink! would use frequently with its own fake adverts.  It worked though, I personally liked the reincarnated Dandy.

The last strip I'm scanning in from this issue (so far anyway) is a character who was very dear to my heart, seeing as how in the second Oink! Book he'd teach me about puberty.... but, ahem, more on that when we get to that stage.  For now, here's the arrival of something, well, different:


Love the brain part hahaa!

Burp was the creation of (Jeremy) Banx, who also created Mr Big Nose, a very surreal and hilarious character who will definitely be appearing on here soon.  Burp and his rather dodgy "pet specimen from Uranus" I can remember being a particular favourite amongst my friends, who really couldn't believe the comic was able to do stuff like this!  Burp would continue to try to ingratiate himself with us humans all the way through Oink!'s run and we'd continue to run the other way.  Well apart from us smelly readers.

So there you have it, a little look into how the world was introduced to a very unique comic, one that would be a hit but would ultimately be a victim of its own success.  Not through anything it did, but through those who didn't wish little Johnny and little Jemima reading about bare bums and plops.  You know the type - people who'll take offence on behalf of others, when others aren't actually offended.  Some parents didn't like Oink! but then again they didn't have a clue what children actually wanted, or indeed what they did joke about with their friends when their parents weren't looking.  WHSmith even famously placed the comic on the top shelves out of the children's way after the Royal Family were the subject of a joke or six and also after a strip we'll see in an upcoming issue.

I was lucky, my parents found it hilarious and had no problem buying it for me every fortnight.  It's held a special place in the hearts and humour glands of all who read it, and the fact it lasted as long as it did is a testament to the success in its concept and its execution.  Here's to reliving Oink! all over again.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

HEADING BACK TO THE STY


You know something?  I'm actually kind of nervous about this.  Nowhere online is there a full guide to what I'd call my favourite comic of all time.  There's some scans floating about and some fascinating looks into its creation from the cartoonists involved, as well as the Facebook group.  But there's no record - as far as I can tell - of any great depth into the hilarious world of Uncle Pigg, Tom Thug, Weedy Willy, Ham Dare: Pig of the Future et all.  The kind of site I'd love to see doesn't exist, so I've had it in my mind for a couple of years now to put something together myself.

The #1 rule to creating your own site is, after all, to create something you'd like to read yourself!

But it was the discovery of the 2000AD Prog Slog which peaked my interest, where a fan made a mammoth purchase on eBay, paniced (I hear that!!) and basically thought he'd better make all that money stretch as far as possible.  The result was a guide to the first 1000+ issues, with nearly every other one given its own write-up.  There's not as many Oink!s, so doing every single issue should be a breeze right?  Right?

If nothing else it's going to be a laugh!  A couple of years ago I discovered the Oink! Facebook Group and became friends with the person who set it up, Matt, who goes by the moniker 'Unc Pigg' after the comic's "editor".  After Matt decided he needed to concentrate on other matters I kind of took over the running of the group and I loved every minute of it!  I amassed nearly every issue and enjoyed sharing some scans (the Oink! advent calendar being a favourite task of mine) and mingling with some of my heroes - the cartoonists and creators!  My own life though took over and I passed the mantle to Gerry and sent him my entire collection (including my own original copies).

Now here I am, after rediscovering Oink! all over again (again), I decided now was the perfect time for my own 'Prog Slog' and a few weeks ago I was egged on further by none other than Lew 'Pete & His Pimple' Stringer himself, with the idea of reading the issues on the date they were originally released.  Lew didn't know at the time I was planning anything more than collecting them again and reading them, but his idea stuck with me!









I was extremely lucky to get a hold of a selection of mint editions and alongside the blog's actual posts relating to each issue (the front covers and a few of the strips from within each one, folks) I'm hoping to add some extras like my own personal memories of Oink!, details of how my collection is going, as well as some other ideas I'll keep to myself for now.  To start with though...

Thanks to original Oink! creator/editor/cartoonist Tony Husband and Oink! Facebook Group member Tane McManus for sharing these - the original promotional leaflets sent out to help market the brand new upcoming (or should that be upstart) comic to newsagents across the UK.  Oink! was the first comic to give away a free preview issue (more on this in the next post in a few days), as a substitute for the usual television adverts etc at the time.  It was a trend that would catch on!

The leaflets only gave a few details, tailored more to the business side of things, but it's cool to see how it was being marketed before it hit the shelves.  Definitely pushing the difference between this and other comics, as well as the very original free gifts (a flexi-record?  Hell yeah!) and an attractive S.O.R.  This stands for "sale or return", any unsolds could be returned to IPC for a full refund for wholesalers and retailers.

But this is all still very mysterious.  What does this new comic contain which makes it so different?  Why the big launch promo?  What are we in for...?

George Shiers over at the excellent Whizzer and Chips blog (not to mention the Wacky Comics and Nipper Index blogs too of course) was kind enough to send me some images of the adverts and marketing IPC did in their other titles for the upcoming Oink!  The preview issue was given away in such titles as the aforementioned Whizzer and Chips amongst others, even 2000AD!  Also the comic some of our favourite characters would eventually migrate to for several years, Buster, was in on the act from the word go.  For example, here's notice of a mysterious free gift to come and the 'next issue' ad from inside...:



Up above in the promotional leaflet you'll have seen reference to "blockbuster" adverts for the new title, but what on earth is a blockbuster ad?  Well that'd be a whopping 4-page one, that's what!  Taken from the pages of Buster again, here's evidence that IPC were certainly shouting loud and proud about Oink! and regular readers of their titles would be in little doubt about its launch!:


Thanks again to George and be sure to check out his own blogs too folks!  Also if you're interested in the marketing side of the release of Oink! and even which issue of Buster gave the comic away if you want to chase it down on eBay, you can click here to read all about these aspects of the new comic.

So now you're ready to start your trip into the world of Oink!  If you were an original pig pal then you'll know what to expect and trust me it's just as good as you remember.  If you've never met Uncle Pigg et all before you're in for a helluva ride!

And why am I nervous about this blog?

Because I want to do this amazing comic justice that's why!  This isn't going to be some over-analytical blog, or some boring (well, hope not) eejit prattling on.  All I want to do is share the fun of this comic with fans and those who never had the pleasure of reading it.  So come back Friday 26th April for a selection of the strips from the preview issue.  Now I've just got to decide what to include... this may be funny, but it may not be easy...