Saturday, 29 March 2014

#23: WE GONNA ROCK DOWN TO OiNKTOWN AVENUE

Originally due on the blog on Friday 7th March.


I should explain "Oinktown" was the name given in random strips here and there to the town in which some of them (including the office of Uncle Pigg I presume) were meant to have taken place.  In addition, "Porksmouth" (groan) was the place where Mary Lighthouse resided.  Quite a bit of fun was poked at Porksmouth!

Love the way the logo stands out on this cover but what exactly makes up an all "all-electric" issue of a comic?  Upon first glance I figured this might've been to tie in with the Oink! computer game released back in 1987, but actually that didn't happen until the summer.  Nope, this was simply because this was at a time when electronic entertainment as we now know it was just beginning.  The 1980s saw home computing explode, along with it the birth of the modern day video game market, the introduction of VCRs in homes everywhere and the creation of mobile entertainment devices.

It was an exciting time when we look back at it now and Oink! embraced it all in this issue with its sideways look at all of the above.

It's easy to look back on our youth with rose-tinted glasses but we had great TV didn't we?  The holy trinity of Knight Rider, Airwolf and The A-Team, we'd Transformers and The Real Ghostbusters cartoons, Spitting Image and in the later stages of the 80s a certain Doc Croc and his team on Round the Bend!  Of course.  But that's not to take away from today's television as there's much to enjoy, but one thing I haven't bothered with is 3DTV.  I was late to the HDTV phase but 3D is for the cinema and only for certain movies (and only when done well), I don't want to sit at home with sunglasses on in the winter.  But in a Tomorrow's World kind of way Banx's Burp, the smelly alien from outer space, was well ahead of the crowd and gave us a little preview of what it could've been like if the future had lived up to the 80s predictions:


Turning over the page from Burp and I did a double-take at the following Madvertisement from GBH, as it's scarily similar to a lot of real world adverts for such electrical outlets.  In fact if it was genuine it wouldn't look too out of place today, but back in the late 80s this would've fitted right in and been a brilliant spoof.  GBH must be making some money too as it appears they're beginning to invest in actual technology judging by the design of the advert, when most previous ones were hand written or pasted together.  Ah the early days of DTP:


A brilliant example there, definitely one of the best so far, but the best is most definitely yet to come as Oink! gets more and more adventurous with its rip-off brand.

Now the next page will definitely make some of you feel very old and I can only apologise in advance.  The Red Button service on our digital channels has now fully replaced the old computer systems behind Ceefax (BBC) and Teletext (ITV and Channel 4) and while the majority of us older readers will probably have very fond memories of them, they were already woefully out of date before they were taken off our screens.  But those memories are still there, of staying at my nanny's house most Saturdays and every Sunday morning playing around with Bamboozle, jokes pages, the home computing pages etc. before the Looney Tunes came on the TV.  Ah the days of reloading pages several times before all the text would appear unscrambled, using the Reveal button on the quizzes, the endless waiting as it'd slowly search for the page number you entered, always starting on a number just after the one you wanted so you'd have to wait for it to cycle all the way back round again.  We'd a lot of patience back then.

To those who can share these kinds of memories this Oink! Do-It-Yourself Teletext for readers to cut out and paste onto their television screens will probably be just as nostalgic as it is funny!:


A quick detour now away from all the high tech (yes kids, that above was high tech for us) and back into the land of magic and sorcery instead as we conclude our journey to reclaim The Spectacles of Doom.  If you missed part one you can read it in the previous issue and here we continue with Tony Husband's tale, as drawn by Andy Roper:


After a poster of the most elaborate "remote control" you could think of courtesy of Roger Rental and a little message for children of licence fee dodgers, we come across another full-page, caption-less Ian Jackson masterpiece.  Seriously, later on this year I'm planning on moving out of the big smoke of Belfast and back to my hometown and if I can bag a house with a room I can turn into a study (currently typing from the sofa in my living room) I might just either frame some of these or get them printed on canvases for myself.  They're just that good:


Now I mentioned above some of the TV shows we used to enjoy back in the fashion-free decade our favourite comic was created in, but how good is your knowledge of the medium really?  Well there's no better way to properly and convincingly test your memory than with a completely fair and reasonable Oink! quiz, as ever drawn by Ed McHenry:


So how well did you do?

Now Oink! finished its regular run in 1988 but a couple of years later in 1990 I was in second year of grammar school and a new kid had joined our class from another school.  Because his previous establishment hadn't taught Latin to the first years he had to sit out our Latin classes and was officially meant to use the 35 minutes of each class to "study".  On one occasion I happened to have one of the Oink! Summer Specials with me, one of the ones released after the comic had finished and it contained the next page as a reprint.

A great take on both radio sound effects production and old photographs, the first box (the one to do with sea crashing noises) resulted in an uncontrollable outburst from my friend who was sat behind me in the class.  I'll never forget it.  I'm just glad the teacher, who was an extremely strict old lady, never asked him what it was he found so funny!:


Of course the official meaning of the word which you've probably spotted is "a tube made of fur or other warm material into which the hands are placed for warmth", however the dictionary also lists what it can be used as slang for and, being 12-year old boys at the time, it was of course this which made him burst temporarily!  Kind of sounded like the first half of a very loud, very violent sneeze...

Now, there are certain 80s movies which are simply deemed as classics.  They don't necessarily have to be Oscar-winning melodramas, Bafta-winning plays set in one room, or an adaptation of a novel so large you could only read it with the aid of a coffee table.  I'm talking about Ghostbusters, Labyrinth, Back to the Future, Beverly Hills Cop, Footloose, the 'Burbs, Tron, The Goonies - you get the idea, all brilliant movies which also scream "I WAS MADE IN THE 80S DON'T YOU KNOW!".  Given the theme of this issue there's one movie which is perfectly ripe for Tony Husband's treatment.  With artwork by Chas Sinclair, here's their take on that just-as-classic WarGames!:


Would've made for a much shorter movie, eh?

After a quick plug for the next issue which will be the Time Travel Special and a Public Service Announcement telling kids to look after their teeth by not eating as many sweets because sharks don't and their teeth are always perfect (which results in comical shark goodness and the message that "some teeth can seriously damage your health!!"), we reach the back page and another full-colour closing strip from Lew Stringer.  But it's not a Tom Thug or Pete & his Pimple to see us off this time, but after the shark we've another safety notice for the children with this one-off strip, Music-Mad Jo and her Personal Stereo!:


Could we get an update on this strip please Mr Stringer, warning of the dangers to young 'uns today blaring their 'music' on trains and buses without headphones?  And when I say "danger" I obviously mean from other passengers like me, not passing lorries this time.

Ok, well, I'm off to visit said hometown (my own, not Oinktown) today and I'll be back on the blog with the next and final catch-up issue on Tuesday 1st April.  But before I do I just wanted to say how wonderful it is to see a couple of milestones, with the blog reaching over 15,000 views and the Oink! Facebook group gaining over 700 members.  Definitely been a surge in activity recently and so a big "hello" to all the new readers and members!!

See you in a few days pig pals.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

#22: HOGUS POCUS

Originally due on the blog on Friday 21st February.


Told you I'd be back real soon!  So yes, after the slushiness of Valentine's it's time for some adventuring, danger, magical heroes and newly discovered Egyptian tombs in back gardens in Timperley.  Never let it be said that Oink!'s themes couldn't be original and there are some far out there versions of our regulars inside this issue, but Andy Roper is the man for the job in our headline strip, The Spectacles of Doom, and since the cover relates (kinda) he also brings us a fantastic wraparound cover poster!  Here's a photo of the whole thing:


Now I say it "kinda" relates because that's very clearly Prince Endor, the hero of the strip, but why he's about to tuck into some pork belly on the cover when we're cheering him on inside I'm not quite sure!  Okay so he has a butcher's apron and hat on above, so maybe the cover is actually that staple of 80s television - the evil twin.  Yes, that'll do.

On to the strip itself and it's written by Oink! creator/editor Tony Husband who brings his madcap and seemingly random yet very tight scripting and when backed up with Andy's artwork it really is something special.  I can remember this from my childhood, which says a lot, so in these days of huge fantasy movies here's a proper epic journey... just condensed into four pages:


Yes, the remaining 2 pages aren't in this issue at all but waiting for you in #23.  Now aren't you glad I'm running behind so you've only a few days to wait instead of a full fortnight?

But in my eagerness I've jumped ahead and bypassed our favourite hero, though he's not doing himself any favours in this getup:


By this stage the Grunts page (Oink!'s answer to the usual comics letters pages) was taking up page 2 quite regularly but here Uncle Pigg and Mary Lighthouse are back to introduce us to the theme courtesy of the ever-present duo of writer and Oink! creator/editor Mark Rodgers and fun artist Ian Jackson.

Now, someone we haven't seen in a while on here is Weedy Willy.  Always drawn in that unique style of Mike Green's which just added even more frailty to the whole strip, a world which suited the character perfectly, he was written by different writers, upon occasion so far Graham Exton and Mark Rodgers have both propped up our Willy and the latter does so this time too:


It's actually been a while since he's had a full page to himself, maybe he can't cope with the stress and this time the rest of the page is filled up with a couple of adverts for stamp collecting and practical jokes (you remember those ads) and right beside them, trying to look legitimate but thankfully failing in every way, is the latest offerings from those gangsters at GBH:


Oh god that tin can.  I can remember that tin can!  It's strange the things that leave a lasting impression on a child and come back later in our lives isn't it?  But yes, Tinc-An I can recall clear as a bell and how I laughed myself silly at the very idea behind it.  I'm sure he popped up later as well in a reprint too, but one thing is for sure it's sometimes the simplest of ideas that work the best!

Now, I've known all along there was probably going to be one character's regular strips which would appear quite frequently, such was the originality of each one and the genius behind every single story.  Mr Big Nose by Banx could easily make it today in any number of publications, but the fact these hilarious snippets into the mind of Banx were in a children's comic made them ever more special.  We lapped his surrealism up and surely a collection of all of his strips could easily be a best seller!  Not that I'm hinting Mr Banx, not at all:


Cracks me up every time that does.  "And the dolphin's name was Keith."

We've already seen Dungeons & Dragons get the Madvertisement treatment (actually the first proper "Madvertisement") way back in #5, but this issue throws up the perfect opportunity to take that a step further.

I remember back at school a few friends playing these fantasy role-playing games in the playground with nothing more than dice and their imagination and all I thought at the time was "how do they know what's meant to happen?" and "what's stopping them from cheating?".  A few years later the board game HeroQuest came along and I saw first-hand how it all worked, albeit with a game board and actual player pieces.  Actually, now that I think about it I remember in the 90s coming up with a game myself which used the Space Crusade board game and pieces and the Barcode Battler!  Remember that thing?  Whoa, sorry, that just came back to me!  See what this blog does to me...

Anyway, Oink! decided to have a little stab at the fantasy role-playing game itself, which keeps in the tradition of certain recent special one-offs in the comic.  You'll see what I mean:


Oh I feel a bit guilty setting you up for that pun.  But not enough to promise it'll never happen again mind you.  Oh come on, the Oink! pun is always worth it.

A double dose of Haldane now and before his own one-off for this fantasy theme let's take our fourth (so far) blog trip to Zootown shall we?:


Classic stuff, but now a special feature from the same creative hand, uniquely shaded and quite relevant even today given the backlash against certain companies and individuals the last couple of years.  Before your very eyes Conan the Barbarian has instead become Konan the Accountant:


When you line up the Oink! artists, just for some random examples let's say Ian Jackson, Lew Stringer, Banx and Haldane, is it any wonder the comic appealed so much to us?  These are just four examples obviously, but the richness and diversity on show in each and every issue just wasn't something you'd so obviously see in humour comics of the day.  As you'll know if you've been reading from the beginning, or if you know your Oink!, a lot of the artists involved hadn't worked on children's titles before.  Add to that pot the creme-de-la-creme from children's comics and even today these feel fresh, inventive and new.

Got all that from just looking at that Konan page.  Had to gush there for a moment.

Almost done and a lovely treat awaits.  Last Halloween Banx treated me (and yes I'm saying that as it felt like a special treat just for me) to a brilliant strip about a mummy's curse.  As I explained at the time this was a lovely surprise to me as Egypt is an interest of mine, alongside those comedy sharks that keep popping up quite frequently in the pages of these comics.  So you can imagine my delight when none other than Frank Sidebottom appeared at the top of a page wearing an Ancient Egyptian burial mask.  This had to be something good.

I wasn't disappointed:


I remember as a kid my friend Roger and I would create little comics for each other, usually riffs on other comics of the day.  For example he created School Busters and WarBots, while I made The Real Smoke Busters and the Battle-Oids.  Yes, original.  We also collaborated with another friend on The Moo!  Wonder where that idea came from.  But anyway, the pages between the strips which would contain fact-files, the intro page etc were always all lower text, random little columns and drawings, writing squeezed in where it could be, a little bit anarchic... I can see clearly now where I must've got my inspiration from.  Couldn't have asked for a better role model.

And like Frank I'm sure I'll be back too.  Saturday of this week will see #23 (the "all-electric issue" apparently) as promised and don't forget yesterday saw the first news article for the blog, so if you missed it just scroll to the next post or if you're lazy click here, but have your £1.49 ready!  Trust me, you won't regret it.

See you then.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

NEWS: NEW PSYCHO GRAN COMIC RELEASED!

"Psychotic Grandmother Back To Terrorise/Entertain"

We really couldn't have asked for a better first news story to start with could we?  There's no joke in that post title, no double-meaning, it's a fact - David Leach has released the inaugural issue of the brand spanking (and knowing her there could well be spanking at some stage) new Psycho Gran digital comic.

I can't tell you how excited I've been by the prospect of this, as this crazy little pensioner was a highlight of Oink! all those years ago where she first appeared and here she is now in her own title at last!  Now accompanied by a "pan-dimensional, sentient handbag called Percy" (well, Pursey) and a "flying dog called Archie" she's also gone full-colour (something she only did on very rare occasions in Oink!) and has 30 pages all to herself.  Well 29 as you get the cover and an expanded cover too:

The expanded front cover to the first issue


Priced at only £1.49 on the Comixology app and also through their website for $1.99 she looks great on the iPad (other tablets are available) where you can use their unique animated scrolling which brings up one panel at a time - great for those final panel jokes.  There's a couple of updated strips from her time on Oink!, completely redone and just as fresh, but the rest are all new and range from 1-page to 5-page stories, with my favourites being the Recharge and Strain strips along with a surprise in the middle of the comic I won't ruin... but when you see it it'll probably say a lot about my sense of humour.  But hey that's partly her fault anyway!

David's artwork is lush.  So much detail and the colour work is second-to-none.  I'm sure it may be a while before he's able to put together a whole new issue but the wait will be well worth it I'm sure if this is anything to go by!

So how do you go about getting this?  Simple, you can go straight to her page here at the website:


As I've said it's also available through their app on iOS and other mobile devices.

You're still here...??

Click on the cover to see Psycho Gran's first ever appearance.

Also, Down The Tubes has a short interview with David on the new title which you can read here.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

THIS LITTLE PIGGY

Howdy all.

In my last post for #21 I mentioned I'd some news about the blog to share with you and that I wanted to bring you all up to speed on the current state of affairs etc.  Like I said at the time (which was only yesterday - you may get used to a lot of updates over the next wee while) it's not bad news, it's not about to become the "Oink! Blog joins Buster Blog".  No, no.

OKAY, WHAT HAPPENED?

As regular readers will know, as well as new readers who have read back over all my ramblings thus far, I'd some very damaging technical difficulties around Christmas time last year which resulted in the New Year Hogmanay issue being delayed... and then the next issue was delayed and the next and the next... it was incredibly frustrating!  I told you all about the things attempted to get the blog back up and running and eventually I was able to get the occasional new post up, but the laptop was still temperamental and would choose when to play ball or not.  I was finding it very difficult to get caught up.

But now you'll notice here's two posts within two days.  Something's changed.  Yes, something has.

SO WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW?

This:


Gorgeous.

A beautiful, brand spanking new Apple Mac Mini, that's what's happening.  (Huge, astronomical thanks to my brilliant friend and fellow Oink! Facebooker Andrew Bell.)  Suddenly I'm back on the blog full-time and I can tell you right now issues 22, 23 and 24 are all scanned in and being edited for uploading.  Instead of taking a few days to scan, edit and upload the images around a forever crashing laptop - an endlessly slow machine which was never happy at having to use Photoshop or having to connect to the internet (and especially Blogger for some reason) - it's now back to being a wonderful, simply pleasurable experience to relax with the latest issue and type away at all the crap I spout.

Not that I've been complacent.  I've been filling the gaps in my main collection and also investing in areas I'd never thought of covering before, which you'll see much, much later (well, next year):


So, to let you know and also to give myself a few deadlines, #22 will be with you in three days on Thursday 27th March, #23 this Saturday 29th and the last out-of-sync issue will then be #24 which will be up next Tuesday, the 1st April - no fool.

But that's not all.

BREAKING NEWS!

The breaking news is there's going to be breaking news!  Speaking to some of the comic's creators recently I was inspired and got to thinking about the blog and how it could be so much more than simply re-reading each issue on their original dates.  Don't get me wrong, that'll still be the main focus as it's the whole reason behind the blog's creation in the first place, so don't be expecting anything less than what you've had so far.  But I've decided to expand upon this original premise and, while some of these ideas I'll be keeping under wraps for now, the first one will be kicking off on Wednesday (or "tomorrow" to those already in the land of nod as I type this) and that's Oink! News!

It may be a comic that hasn't seen regular publication since 1988 but that doesn't mean there isn't Oink!-related goodness still going on in this world of ours.  This Wednesday in particular there's a tremendous event happening that any fan of the comic will be over-the-moon with and when you see what it is you'll understand completely why I've chosen that date for the start of these 'bulletins'.  They'll be added to the blog in much the same way as any other post but will also be listed in their own page at the top of the blog under the title banner.

I really can't wait and neither should you be able to.  Yup, this next week is shaping up to be a busy one here!

BUT BEYOND THAT...!

Don't worry I'm almost done.  After this next week we'll finally be back on track, with the issue dated 4th April actually going up on the blog ON THE RIGHT DATE!!  By then you'll have been inundated with issues and the new news section and you can look forward to other new additions later in the year.

But things aren't going to slow down, nonono.  That issue on the 4th will be #25 and not only is the issue after that Oink!'s 1st birthday issue (and by association the birthday of the blog - a full year already?!) but also the beginning of April back in 1987 saw the release of the very first Oink! Holiday Special in all its porky 48-page rotundness, so given the fact it is indeed a larger-than-your-average-pig of an issue you can look forward to two posts dedicated to it.  More and more prime pork coming your way!

- - -

So there we go, that's you all brought up to speed.  Thanks for all your patience, I know there's also comments needing responded to and some posts needing updated with new info from the generous guys from Oink!, I'm also tidying up the labels and will update the Collection page too shortly.  Then there's the Merchandise one I've yet to get around to...

Phew!  Enough to make me sweat like a... well...

But for now I'll leave you with this image of how the blog looks to me now when I'm working on it. No longer a tiny, half-broken laptop and its unreliable screen, now I'm seeing that favourite of all logos up on my TV screen!  You've no idea the size of the grin I had in taking this photo - Uncle Pigg is huge!  Though maybe those featuring in the photo stories may not be so glad of my 42" HDTV...??:


See you tomorrow folks!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

#21: ST. VALENSWINE'S

Originally due on the blog on Friday 7th February.


Let me see, Valentine's 1987... nope, nothing too embarrassing to think of, just posting a card through a girl's door then running away, then worried she wouldn't get it and someone else in her family would, so I ran back and rang the doorbell and ran away again, this time getting noticed by said girl as I made my escape.  The next day in school was dreaded.  At least I had this to go home to though, the next Oink!

We start off with this Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins cover by Tony Husband, which is also airbrushed by John Moorhouse who was an artist on the Express and worked on some of Tony's Playboy cartoons as well.  Things are nice and rosy here on the cover for Horace, posing with Mandy, but on the inside she'd be running away with her family, leaving Horace alone in the hospital recovering... long story!  Thankfully things are happier for the other characters in this issue.

Starting off with another one-off Oink! photo story, it's time to teach the young readers 'The Lesson of Love!', which obviously includes a loved up couple, a romantic walk, a shooting star and googley-eyed aliens.  Obviously:


Now, because I'm playing catch-up (more on that in an upcoming post in a day or two, with some news about the future of the blog) I don't have the luxury of being able to check with the Oink! crew that I can contact who is who in such stories.  I think it's pretty clear one of those aliens is a certain Mr. Mark Rodgers, but the rest are lost on me at this time, same with the writer of such a romantic tale.  So (hopefully) expect an update soon!  Ahem... hint hint guys... anyone?  Anyone...?  Once I'm back on track we'll be able to check such things, so apologies for the mystery at the mo but I didn't want to delay any further and it's been a bit of a roller coaster with this update (again, more details soon)!

UPDATE: Yup here's the info folks!  The story is written by Mark (who plays Bloonik) and the young lady there is Helen Jones, Mark's partner in real life.  Strangely Helen's partnered up here in the story with her brother Andy playing her boyfriend.  As for the other alien, well that'd be none other than regular Oink! artist extraordinaire Ian Jackson!  Finally, the ultra-expensive alien spacecraft interior set there is actually the boiler in Mark's house.  Thanks to those who helped piece it all together, such as Lew and Graham in the comments and Helen herself on the Facebook group.

This really must be a special issue as Psycho Gran makes her first reapperance since her debut in #15 (which you can read here) alongside her husband(!), there are cut-out cards for those with the right attitude towards the day and even Tom Thug has a date.

But of course what kind of Valentine's issue would this be without a tale of forbidden passion, of something on a par with Romeo & Juliet, a love-conquers-all epic.  In this case the task was taken on by Burp and his internal organs, brought to you by Banx:


I was always a huge fan of Burp as a kid and his attempts to simply fit in always backfiring, despite his greatest intentions.  Poor chap.  Another huge fan of the character and of Jeremy Banx is freelance cartoonist Alexander Matthews and his blog sometimes features the occasional Burp collection.  On top of that the whole blog is a good read and I'd heartily recommend it for Oink! and smelly alien fans - http://alexandercartoons.blogspot.co.uk/.

The 1980s weren't exactly known for their fashions and trends.  Well, they'll certainly be remembered for them, but not exactly in an "ooh, we must revive that" kind of way.  One of the things I certainly remember were those long stickers young people (though older than me at the time obviously) had on the inside of their car windscreens.  You know the type, with the names of the male driver and their girlfriend.  I can only assume female drivers had better taste.  They looked terrible, even in the 80s!  (The stickers.  Not girlfriends.)

Still, could've been worse:


Thanks to Tony Husband for that one.  These days of course young boy racers appear to be going back to the days of these stickers, although they seem to simply have the names of the manufacturer of their stereos instead of any girl's name.  Says it all really.

Now in years past I've been on holiday and my other half at the time would bring a random selection of women's weekly magazines for when we were relaxing by the pool.  I had a glance through a few on occasion and always thought they were terrible, with their unbelievable romantic text stories, "true" stories sold for a quick profit and umpteen "celebrity news" articles.  I always thought how shallow and silly those things were as I relaxed in the sun with my Marvel Secret Wars.

But those romantic text stories, usually aimed at the singleton with unbearably high expectations, had one good outcome - an Oink! spoof:


And yes, I recognise one or two facial features there too, top job by Patrick Gallagher and for me the pictures there sum up those text stories perfectly - an amalgamation of every woman's ideal romance mish-mashed into one story so that they end up thinking it's actually all about them.  A bit like Bridget Jones but in a 25p magazine instead of a multi-million pound movie.

Now at the (delayed) time of writing this two new movies have been announced.  The first is a Bananaman one, who I used to enjoy on the TV and later in the pages of Dandy annuals (though he was originally created for Nutty comic), so I'm looking forward to that and hoping it's a success and to see merchandise bounding across the country.  The other is a Peanuts (or Charlie Brown) movie, which I remember boring the pants off me on the TV and not making me laugh at all in the cartoon pages of some newspaper or other.

I just didn't 'get' it maybe, but I was never a fan.  Actually Charlie Brown's voice was enough to make me jump to the TV to turn it over (before remotes, kids) such a drone that it was.  For me, the following half-page Oink! treatment is more entertaining than all of the episodes put together.  Oink! and Marc Riley - making the unbearable enjoyable:


Come on Bananaman!  Ahem...

Way back in #6 the excellent Watership Down spoof was, as we saw, one big set up for a great pun.  Two pages of story in a comic all for one joke was brave and I'm very happy to say Tony Husband is a brave man, for this issue takes Wuthering Heights to the same, um, heights, here with artwork by Chas Sinclair over a page-and-a-half:


Brilliant.

We've reached the back page of another issue and I'm very happy to see another full-page Ian Jackson masterpiece of comic art, again with no captions.  Previous examples of these brilliant creations can be seen in #4 with the Jaws '86 page and in #14's The Hold-Up, which was also taking pride of place on the back page.

For this one, we've 2 three-panel strips, both going down the page and written by Tony Husband and Mark Rodgers:


Now, as I said above there's going to be a post in a day or so about the blog itself.  I remember when a comic would have "exciting news" about its future it usually meant something bad was being hyped up as something rather good, not that we were ever fooled.  But don't worry, the blog isn't being merged with another one, it isn't being stopped, it isn't going monthly.  You'll just have to come back to see what I mean.

Then we'll finally get caught up and be back on track in a couple of weeks.  Until then, I'll leave you with this from Marc Riley's creation Doctor Mooney, He's Completely Looney.  Ta-ra:


Thursday, 13 March 2014

#20: SURVIVING OFF FOOD RASHERS

Originally due on the blog on Friday 24th January.


It seems very apt to be reviewing this particular issue at this time as the BBC begins its centenary programming for the first World War.  While this issue of Oink! is very clearly based more on the second War, it makes for an inspired read at times and I hope I can do the topic justice with my pick of the pork.  (Also remember, we've already had Harry the Head mark the anniversary of the Dambusters raid.)

It all kicks off with the strip on pages 2 and 3 which link in with that surprising cover, both drawn by Wilkie.  Surprising because it's not the sort of topic you'd expect a children's humour comic to cover in such a way.  Yes, The Beano and The Dandy were actually published during the second World War and obviously the majority of their stories took pot shots at the enemy and since then we've had other humour comics occasionally touch upon the subject in a strip here or there.  But not as a full blown cover-to-cover subject and Oink!'s irreverent style, well established by now, may seem like an odd fit when you first find out about the topic, but my word does it work!

It's a brave move, but one look at the cover and its little details and I think it's clear this would be a success.  Indeed, while being respectful, Oink!'s sense of humour is an absolutely perfect fit here. We've got period tales (see below), regular characters being inspired by the events of the war (Tom Thug builds a wooden tank, Hadrian Vile assembles his own army against the local bully), or the theme touching upon other battles (a Wild West butchers/pigs war) and parodies (The Great Escape in the Golden Trough Awards, which you'll see below!).

But to begin with, the star of the issue, that strip of the front cover:


With the one understandable exception being the new multi-issue story King Solomon's Swines, every other story covers the war setting, some in less obvious ways than others such as Haldane's here:


Now how do you link in a kid with a giant zit to the subject at hand?  I have no idea what thought processes writer and artist Lew Stringer went through but he managed it!  Also, when we first met Pete and his Pimple you may remember I said something would very often (most issues) happen to Pete's defining feature which would suddenly stop occurring when he moved into the pages of Buster comic after Oink! folded in late 1988.  Can you guess what I was referring to...?:


Yep, once Pete, Tom and Willy made the move to the more traditional comic that pimple couldn't burst anymore, but we can enjoy it here in the pages of Oink!, especially gross when it'd happen on one of those single-colour pages when Lew would treat us to a little yellow in his strips at just the right time.

Now I mentioned the Golden Trough Awards above and as usual it's a parody of a famous genre, or rather a very specific movie this time.  Think war movie.  Think any bank holiday on ITV.  Think of whistling the theme tune.  Now that it's stuck in your head for the rest of the day, here's Tony Husband's take on The Great Escape - Don't Wag Your Tail Till You're Free:


As if that wasn't surreal enough, we can always relay on Banx and his creation Mr Big Nose to bring us something different.  So we interrupt this issue for a special wartime announcement:


I was always a fan of comics as a kid, albeit just the British ones, the American ones came later (though obviously I did enjoy the US reprints in The Transformers).  I knew I was a geeky kid, just as I know I'm a geeky adult now in some aspects I suppose, but it never bothered me and I was lucky enough that comics always seemed acceptable in both my primary and grammar schools.  These days those that have never even read comics sport t-shirts proclaiming otherwise, mainly thanks to The Big Bang Theory and the success of recent comic book movies.

While geek is chic, it wasn't always so.  While I was never bullied there were those in the minority who would try to take the piss.  Mainly, however, anyone who did take the piss would also do so for anyone caught reading outside of class, which showed their own level of intelligence.  Hmm... Tom Thug isn't too far from the truth after all!  But those sorts of people were great cannon fodder for comics creators, and surely the best foil for them would be an actual comics collector in Oink! of all comics, yes?

Yes:


While I don't remember this particular strip, I'm almost sure I remember the character so I really hope I'm right and this further creation from the pens of Lew Stringer makes further appearances.

Next, from Davy Jones:


Remember those Milk Tray adverts from the 80s?  What if other food suppliers had got in on the act, what would their adverts look like today, when marketing departments can get away with a lot more on our screens?  Maybe Davy got it spot on.

On to the back page now and another Oink! moral tale for children.  Back at Christmas 1987, alongside the first Oink! Book, my parents got me the 50th Anniversary book for The Dandy and Beano.  A large portion of this was dedicated to the comics during wartime and it was a fascinating read to see how they survived those years.  Amongst these pages were short stories set out like the one below, rousing tales of heroism that would also connect with the young readers of the 1940s, relating the ongoing war to them in ways they could understand and rally behind.

Don't think any of them were written to the tune of a Rolf Harris song though...(as drawn by Chas Sinclair):


So there we have it, the end of the issue and the end of the war.  Could it even be that there's a ceasefire and peace between our esteemed editor Uncle Pigg and our favourite critic Mary Lighthouse?  A few panels into this Mark Rodgers/Ian Jackson 'next issue' promo and you'd think so:


Ha!  Of course not!

Now, I WILL be catching up, that's a promise.  In fact we should've been caught up by now, but a few ailments befell me at the same time, all being taken care of at last thanks to my new doctor, but basically I'm now permanently based at home for a while and have a pile of Oink!s just staring at me.  I'd say I've been dying to get back to the blog but I don't want to tempt fate.

Expect the Valentine's issue very soon, just a bit late, but then isn't that always the way with us men and that particular day?  Allegedly.