This issue has made me do something terrible. Something horrific. Something akin to the most delicate of medical procedures. I had to take the issue apart! Not just the middle two pages that we may have done as kids, nono. No, this made me take apart the whole damn thing! Why? You'll see.
But first, how about that cover, eh? Andy Roper returns after his superb The Spectacles of Doom from issues #22 and #23 with this take on the legend of King Kong - King Pong. But as great as the cover is (and we'll return to Andy's artwork for the character a little down the page here) it's that logo which obviously stands out! Despite the colour pink being symbolic of everything 'girlie' when I was a boy the Oink! logo was the exception and was a bold move by Patrick Gallagher, but it was the one thing in pink us fellas loved.
It was always fun back then to see something different being done with the logo though.
But I still won't wear a pink shirt to this day.
Now I know Mr Burp has featured quite a lot recently but the alien is on a roll, simple as that. After his gory escapade last issue here he is again just casually helping by, well, you'll see how. I don't want to ruin the surprise. Maybe his creator Banx was working through some anger issues at the time, or maybe he just wasn't a fan of Ronald Reagan, our special guest:
Yes, somewhat surprised me too! But I do have vague memories of this one and the casual way in which Burp chainsaws the top of his head off. You wouldn't see that in any other kids' comic! But it was just funny, it didn't feel shocking or gory, it was just Oink! A superb strip though.
Another character reappearing in this post after having only appeared on the blog a fortnight ago is Hadrian Vile, but instead of a look at vacuous celebrities he's taking on an altogether more serious subject, albeit in his own inimitable style:
Mark Rodgers and Ian Jackson's creation is getting a baby sibling and we'd see the build up over the following months, with Hadrian doing his best to make his mark on his mum's pregnancy. We'd also finally see the big day itself and the arrival of his potential protégé in a special 3-page strip a bit later in the run, so keep an eye out. In the meantime we'll check in now and again to see how it's all going, though I dread to think what kind of things that baby would hear from the outside world!
I've said it before but I'll ask it again: I wonder if Oink! had kept on running how this strip would've changed? With the small act of Hadrian's age increasing by 1 in the title (with the comic's birthday issue) Mark and Ian committed to Hadrian growing up with the readers which in my view was a brave move. It was certainly unique and I'm struggling to think of any other children's comic character that's aged in real time like that. With the addition of a new baby it was now more than just the joke of changing the age for the anniversary issue and it's just such a shame the comic didn't last a few years longer to see where they would've taken this idea.
The Golden Trough Awards have featured randomly at times in the comic itself never mind the blog and have produced consistently brilliant strips. In fact one of my favourite strips so far in the whole comic has been one of these, the one from what is probably my favourite issue so far, and now they're back in full throttle once more. As ever written by Tony Husband, this time it's drawn by Pete Dredge who many may remember for the Master T strip in early issues and who seems to have taken over as Awards artist from Ian Jackson and Tony himself from #28.
You have to admit, his art style just seems the perfect fit for a shady gangster tale somehow:
Take some time away from the blog and check out Pete's own website, full of fantastic galleries of his other work including 1-panels, comic strips and caricatures. Be warned though, you'll want to read everything so make sure you've set aside enough time before Pointless comes on.
Pot shots are being taken all over the place in this issue against the Americans and nothing is safe. From McDonald's in When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, to seeing what the famous lady does in her spare time in The Statue of Liberty When No-one is Looking. Pete and his Pimple go up against a Texan zit and superheroes are the order of the day in Hector Vector and His Talking T-shirt and The Incredible Hump, before the Americans celebrate meeting alien life when The Eagle has Landed (in Egypt).
As superb as these all are, none sum up the attitude Oink! had towards the States quite like Banx's Mr Big Nose:
Could've been written today couldn't it?
The back page of this issue is actually upside-down but it's no simple printing error, it's a second front cover of sorts, as when you place the artwork the right way up having the staples on the left and the comic opening on the right just adds to this fake Time cover from none other than Frank Sidebottom:
Chris Sievey's strips under the guise of his alter ego Frank would always squeeze in famous friends and his celebrity lifestyle at every opportunity. Of course as you'll have seen previously his "celebrity lifestyle" wasn't quite how many others would've described it and in real life Chris was happy to do small gigs and never craved the spotlight in the way his creation did. But Frank's endeavours to become a global sensation had already proved successful in Frank's mind anyway! Hence the above 'cover'.
Okay, big news coming up but first we need to get back to that real front cover and that "giant ape-like pig". It's a bit of a stretch but go with it because the strip to follow features some brilliant Andy Roper artwork matched up with a snappy Mark Rodgers script. The level of detail from Andy raises an already brilliant 2-page story to that of a real event strip and look out for the return of his The Spectacles of Doom soon!
But first, there's nothing quite like a biplane-skating giant ape-like pig monster to fill the gap:
Now, what's that big news? Why did I have to take apart this issue so completely for this update? Well the answer lies in the 2-part "giant" (to our small hands at the time anyway) poster we got with it. One part lay inside the middle pages as posters normally do, however the other part was inside the covers, across pages 2 and 31. So, yes, this meant undoing staples and taking it all apart and, if you were particularly ambitious, threading those staples back together again to keep the remaining 24 pages together. Or not, as the case probably was in most cases.
The subject of this unique DIY poster? None other than The Street-Hogs! Which also means we get to welcome back the artwork of J.T. Dogg! Asides from the Crash special we haven't had the pleasure of his work since #19's final Ham Dare chapter, so it's a very welcome return because we now get to see his work every single fortnight for the foreseeable future, as this poster is a way of getting the porky pals' fans all geared up for the next issue and part one of The Day of the Triffics!
I'll be putting them up in parts like the previous adventure (which you can read in four previous posts) but first here's that complete poster and a closer look at the individual parts, with brilliant technical information (kind of) on the bikes at last:
Lots of people comment that the humour in Oink! is still very much relevant today, all these years later. It's still making people laugh, even those who are too young to remember some of those celebrity references or to have seen the movies or TV shows the comic spoofs. But for our last strip this fortnight, starring everyone's favourite angry critic Mary Lighthouse, this feels particularly true because while she's very clearly talking to then-US President Ronald Reagan, it could just as easily be Dubya:
Couldn't it? Timeless strip there from the mind of Mark Rodgers and the hand of Ian Jackson.
In a fortnight we'll be back on these shores again for the sports issue which goes on sale on Friday 11th July. Until then I'll be busy trying to piece this thing back together again.