Saturday, 13 December 2014
#43: A CHRISTMAS PRESENSE
I knew I was tempting fate. I knew I was meeting some old friends for a catch-up on Friday after the Christmas day out for work. I knew I had the blog to do and I should've done it in advance this time since I'd plans. Did I stop to think the night could end up being great fun and I'd not be home until midnight? Stupidly, no. Blooming' Christmas and it's fun and merriment getting all in the way like that! Well here, better late than never, is the second (and sadly, last) Christmas issue of Oink!
With the weekly issues coming and the comic changing, this penultimate fortnightly issue packs a seasonal punch, starting with an Ian Jackson cover - just like all the best issues do of course. This is my very favourite time of the year and yes I'm one of those people who starts looking forward to it in November (though the decorations go up 1st December, like clockwork every year) and as a kid I always looked forward to the festive issues of my comics. There's always something great about going to the newsagents to pick up the latest issue and there's snow over the title!
But this is Oink! and of course nothing is safe and Christmas, the great bastion of childhood, was certainly no exception. Last year everything from Christmas dinners, TV listings magazines to carols took the brunt of it, and while there's no Uncle Pigg strip this time around taking over most of the issue (by now he and Mary Lighthouse seemed to be being kept to the Grunts page and guest appearances at random intervals), what is here is top notch stuff yet again. That cover's censored carol instantly set my young mind ablaze, trying to think of the rudest things imaginable to finish off the lyrics... ah to be young and innocent again.
Haldane kicks off this post with a little Christmas story, The Night Before Christmas, a Yuletide Tale:
I was going to introduce that strip by saying how I'm surprised no one in the target age range of the comic had thought of that before! But then I thought better of it. No, that's not right, us kids were a delightful lot back in the 80s. Not like these kids today who'd probably try something like that! These kids today, so full of violence and anger, no respect for their elders, playing violent games all the time, shouting at adults, tamtrums when they don't get their way... nope, times were simpler and us children were so much nicer, so much calmer.
As evidenced in the next page. Tony Husband's Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins had asked such nice, calm and polite young readers to write in to his headmaster and convince him to let Horace play for his favourite football team, who'd talent-spotted him in an earlier issue. By now Horace was indeed playing for his team and after the latest instalment of his ongoing story in this issue, he took the time to show us some of the nice, calm and polite young reader contributions to his cause:
Ahem. Yes. Well. Moving on.
Time for some spiffing storytelling, and A Spiffing Adventure to boot. Something I certainly love now as an adult reading back over these cherished comics are the Oink! versions of the traditional style of children's tales. All those who worked on such pages must've really enjoyed coming up with ways of dissecting what made such tales work originally for kids, then taking those elements and taking the absolute piss out of each and every one.
This latest such spoof takes its queue from such fares as The Famous Five etc, who Oink! has already targeted incidentally. Young boys' adventure strips from the years before my generation had a certain way about them - a certain kind of story and resolution, a certain way of pointing the blame, and a certain type of dialogue. Being a fan of his satirical and biting wit when he's taking a swing at news and politicians on television these days, I was thrilled to see the young Charlie Brooker was the writer of this one! Given how he wouldn't have been a kick of the bum away (as we say here) from the original target age of these sorts of adventure comics when they were published just makes it all the more a genius piece of work.
Add in Chas Sinclair's authentic style and you're certainly onto a winner. Anyone who watches Charlie Brooker's television shows, whether he's the star or writer, will appreciate this one from The Kiddies' Film Foundation:
Way, way back in time, way back in #3 in fact, I showed you the brilliant 2-page Transformoids strip and promised you a GBH Madvertisement yet to come. Well, only 40 issues later and I can finally make good on my promise to you, so go on and click on it to enjoy it. And enjoy it you will:
Back in #36 I unfortunately didn't have the space to include the Mona Lisow poster but there was no way I could leave out Dave Huxley's second contribution to the pages of Oink!, seeing as how I was - and indeed still am thanks to the movies - a huge Transformers fan.
You can't really go any further overboard with the whole Transformers concept than this, and indeed I don't think the comic tried after this. Remember also that I'd started reading the comic at #14 and so this was my first encounter with a spoof of the toys my friends were all collecting (and which I would soon start collecting too) and the cartoon I loved watching so much. This page in itself was like a little Christmas present for me back then and I loved it!
Fast forward a few years -then add about twenty-five or so more - and a few years ago I discovered an article about Oink! in a magazine called Crickey! and it was a three-page insight into getting hired by and working for the comic by Dave Huxley himself and next week I'll be posting up that very article so you can hear about it all straight from the pig's mouth.
Brilliantly, Dave is now Dr David Huxle and works at the Manchester School of Art, and you can see his page of the school's website by clicking right here. In there as well is a page of our favourite comic! The Mona Lisow poster is one of his saved images to show off his brilliant artwork style! You can get to it through the page there or by clicking directly to it here. Always lovely to discover another website for a former member of the comic's creative team and this one is a particularly nice surprise, isn't it? Come back next week to see that Crickey! article and find out about his next contribution to Oink!
As I've said I love this time of year and unlike most people I really enjoy Christmas shopping. Even this close to Christmas. Then sitting down late at night with one of the numerous themed music channels on while I wrap the presents it's inevitable a certain Aled Jones song will fill the room at some stage. Previously (in #28) Mark Rodgers and Mike Green took The Snowman tale and turned it into one of kamikaze snowmen, but right here in this seasonal special Davy Francis takes his turn at injecting a bit of spoofery into the proceedings, with The Snowbloke:
Also in last year's Christmas issue I mentioned the fact GBH had some brilliant Christmas catalogues, however last year's wasn't the one I was thinking of. This year is a different story! With no less than two madverts taking over three pages of the comic, one is all hand drawn and is trying to hock us some decorations of the dodgy variety, but it's the other one - the one I'm including - which is the spread I so fondly remembered:
I'm glad I wasn't the one who had to wrap those things in newspaper - rolls of wrapping paper are too short as it is! More Transformers-like goodness there too and aren't their pages getting more and more professional looking? Obviously Patrick, Tony and Mark had gotten hold of a computer or two by this stage and the ads they fired out were becoming a lot more indistinguishable from their real world counterparts - a great attention to detail.
'Your nearest GBH open-air floral showroom'. Classic.
So while you wait for your last minute gifts to arrive (you'll be waiting a while) let's get back to the issue and probably the only person who'd be stupid enough to order from GBH:
A little extra Christmas present for those Oink! readers mentioned in the last panel there and with this issue Lew Stringer's Tom Thug is the gift that just keeps on giving. Let me explain.
At the beginning of Christmas (that's the 1st December for me, folks) I published a post about what you could expect from the blog over the month and it can't have escaped your attention I've got a rather unique angel on the top of my tree this year. Well he wasn't that unique back in 1987 as any reader of Oink! could have had the same angry little fellow looking down on them if they wanted to.
On the page opposite the above strip was a cut-out Tom angel, complete with attachable wings. Below is the full page, including extra ways of brightening up your decor this Christmas such as a very cheap hat and an extremely expensive trimming. After I spent a half an hour putting together my own Tom there was no way I couldn't include this here!
So all you have to do is click on the image to enlarge it, save it to your computer to print out and follow Lew's ever-so-simple instructions. (Yes, they are actual simple instructions - this is a genuine thing and not an over-complicated Oink! spoof):
In case you missed it too, here's one I made earlier (oh! Look what I just wrote!) with the aid of a box of shortbread:
I've really enjoyed this issue and I know from the Facebook group that it's a favourite of many members there. I really hope you've enjoyed the highlights I've chosen and I can't tell you how much I want there to be a sea of Tom angels across the country after tonight!
To finish off is this Hadrian Vile's Letter to SANTA strip, combining the genius talents of Mark Rodgers on scripting duties and cover artist Ian Jackson. While this appears on page 28 of the actual issue I just feel like it's the perfect finale to this Christmas issue post, as the next regular issue won't be on here until Boxing Day. Remember before then though you've got the Crickey! article next week and The Oink! Book 1988 to wake up to on Christmas Day itself! I'm 10 all over again....!
(There may also be a few little surprises along the way so keep checking back, that's all I'm sayin'.)
See you soon pig pals and I hope you're having a wonderful Christmas so far: