|Cover art by Steve McGarry|
A picture resembling a megastar whose performances these days are loved by so many, his talent shining, his songs enjoyed, with a huge fan base and who even has Hollywood calling. The other picture is a spoof of George Michael.
But first, that free gift. Burp and Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins take centre stage on the rock face by Ian Jackson and again a random selection of the 'general public' can be seen running across the top, my personal favourite being a rather portly Santa just in time for the next issue. More on that below. I can remember adding this to the first one on my wall and being stunned at how big it'd be once finished. (I was a lot smaller back then.)
UPDATE: A very generous blog reader got in touch about eight months after these posts were originally published and passed on his complete calendar poster to me. It's in immaculate condition and I dedicated an entire post to it (for a very special reason) which you can read by clicking here.
Back to the comic and I remember as a child this issue was met with rather mixed feelings as I wasn't really into music back then and so this themed issue's jokes and caricatures didn't really gel with me. Asides from George Michael. Always like George Michael. But I'd no idea who a lot of the others involved were and there were less of our regular characters involved than normal, so it certainly was - still is - a strange little issue but there's still some classic pages in here.
And a lot of text.
There's certainly a lot to read here for a kid, with less strips but some funny articles, one-off specials, a fake interview with "Gorge" Michael, an actual interview with 80s band The Cult, and the following from legendary BBC D.J. John Peel(!):
|Illustrations by Tony Husband|
I have to say that was pretty neat and a lot of fun. But we've still got our strips and this issue we'll kick them off with one who hasn't appeared here in a while - the "Smelly Alien From Outer Space", Burp from Banx:
Be warned that tune, albeit the original lyrics, have been stuck in my head for much of the day. Though maybe I should've written that warning before the cartoon.
One very strange addition this time round is a competition to win - and I quote - "a pop concert in your own home!". Really? Yep, no joke, no spoof, this is a genuine honest-to-gosh competition to win a concert in your house. Sounds great doesn't it? Just answer a few easy questions, complete the tie-break "in no more than 12 words" thing that 80s comics loved so much and you were in with a chance of actually meeting Le Lu Lus (Robots, Computers, Dance and Song (apparently)). Erm, who?
Now, I may have been a bit clueless about music back then, but the endless tunes bopping out from my brother and sisters' rooms had an effect on me and nowadays I absolutely adore 80s tunes and I still don't know who these people are meant to be. But still, can't be a bad prize for a kid! Wonder how it went…?
Speaking of wondering, ever wondered who actually invented rock'n'roll music? Bet it's not who you thought it was:
|by Lew Stringer|
Commercial break time. Haven't done one of these in a while. Fancy the latest threads, want to be transported back to the time of fan clubs, pen-pals and the like? Then here you go, along with a rather fetching photograph of editor Patrick Gallagher:
Now you'll have seen our next character once before right here in #4 and his little appearances in Tom Thug's own strip were always memorable. But every-so-often creator Lew Stringer would give Satan the cat his own little strip at the bottom of Tom's pages where he'd suddenly acquire a voice, not that it made him any more lovable!:
Now before we head towards our big introduction and our back pages we should catch up with Pigby and Ham Dare, our daring duo are back (bacon) and this ends with what an old school friend of mine, who was a huge comics fan and read such titles as 2000AD and Eagle, described even back in the day as simply “classic”:
Writer Lew Stringer and artist J.T. Dogg sum up, for me, the very best of Oink! with that last panel - inventive writing, superb original artwork and hilarious mickey-taking. Come on, how can seeing the "Weakun" on a "Flying Pan" not raise a smile??
There'll be more from the porky pair next issue as the story continues and it looks like his could very well outdo the StreetHogs for me if I'm honest! As much as I loved them, this speaks more to me as it's having a go at known characters and is hitting all the right notes so far, and only two parts in!
So working our way to page 31 and above the 'next issue' caption we've got two little strips from Mary Lighthouse and that madcap nutter Roger. The usual credits apply here obviously, with Mark Rodgers writing a quick joke at Mary’s expense paired with Ian Jackson’s sharp pen work, as well as the ever-original Ian Knox who gives us another insight into the wonderful brain of Master Rental:
But now on to our star feature for this issue. Yep, you thought that honour would go to Ham Dare every fortnight for the foreseeable. Well, not to take away from the team behind him of course but there's a certain star of music and stage who with this issue became a permanent fixture in Oink!
As a child he always seemed to be on the TV, whether it was on random CITV programmes or on my personal favourite, Saturday morning's No.73. Back then I'd no idea he was a stand-up comedian who'd go on to have his own TV show from his garden shed and a string of hilarious songs. Created by Chris Sievey, the papier-mâché head of Frank Sidebottom would entertain kids and adults alike for many years to come.
A few years ago though the sad news was released that Chris had passed away. It was this news, reported on the BBC's website, that brought back all those lovely memories of his comic strips in Oink! which in turn made me go hunting for my old issues (I'd only a couple plus the first annual as it turned out) and I ended up rekindling my love of this title all over again through eBay. Frank led me right back to Oink! and it's because of him that I'm even here at all talking about all of this.
Recently a new statue of Frank has been unveiled in his hometown of Timperley, which was covered extensively in the news and next year there's two - that's right, two - movies coming out! One is a feature-length documentary which even features Patrick above - sans wig - and will cover Chris/Frank's highly detailed pages in Oink! in there too and the other is a Hollywood tale starring Michael Fassbender in the pivotal role!
But it still comes as a surprise to many that he had his own pages within a regular comic back in the 80s. Some know he did some work for books and promotional material, but not a regular stint in Oink! and even I was surprised when I only found out a couple of years ago he did every single page himself, from concept to writing to artwork to colouring. I always thought he'd a hand in them but assumed they were drawn up by someone else, with perhaps some touches by Frank. But no, they're all him.
So here we go, Frank's very first page. And without a comic such as Oink! I highly doubt as kids we'd have been treated to such lavish work and to his "fantastic" ideas on a regular basis. It's just the perfect fit. I'm sure you'll agree:
Welcome aboard Frank. You're sorely missed in this world and I hope I can do my little bit to reintroduce your work to a new audience here on the blog. Look out for a lot more over the course of the comic, folks.
And that's us. A very random and strange issue there, but the next one I can actually remember very well from being eight years of age (and turning nine) as it's our first Christmas issue! I've very fond memories of the TV Times-esque cover, the Christmas TV listings and the Uncle Pigg story in particular. Please do come back on Friday 13th December as it'll be a lucky day for pig pals as I'm very, very confident I'll be reading one of my very favourite issues ever of the world's greatest comic. See you then.