Friday, 25 April 2014

NEWS: ORIGINAL OINK! ARTWORK FOR SALE

"Pimple pus to fetch high prices"

Every once in a while Oink! genius Lew Stringer publishes auctions of his original artwork on everyone's favourite I-should-stop-surfing-this-site-as-it's-far-too-easy-to-think-I-am-actually-winning-things-instead-of-spending-money eBay.  Of course Lew's work covers a lot of ground but he's been known to sell some original pieces from our comic too!

At this very moment there's three pages of Pete & his Pimple and Tom Thug up and while the Tom strip and one of the Pete stories are from Buster comic, there's also a pimply page from Oink! Weekly #48 (which'll be on the blog early next year) in which Pete floats away into space with his pimple and faces a giant safety pin.  Seriously.

Here's one of the images Lew has uploaded to eBay:



Two more images of this particular piece are available to view on the auction page.  This is the actual original page Lew drew and was drawn in black ink on Bristol Board and is in excellent condition, with an approximate size of 380mm by 480mm in total.  These details are also available on the auction page which you can access right here:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/graphite47/m.html?_nkw&_armrs=1&_from&_ipg&_trksid=p3686


The auctions all end this coming Sunday (27th April 2014, just incase you're reading this much later) so get in there quick!

The opening amount Lew has set is £20.00 but this is an auction so expect it to increase.  In other words, hurry up and place your bid!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

THANK YOU


A year ago today that picture above, a photograph of some of my Oink!s spread out on my living room floor, started off my very first blog post on here.  Even with all the great intentions I had I'm still amazed I'm here typing away at what has surprisingly become a very popular blog it seems!  It's been great to see this comic enjoyed all over again!  Previous to this I've tried several online things such as a Knight Rider episode guide, or my own personal website for my friends and I to share photos of our nights out (before the days of social media), even another blog which was based on me building my own model Aston Martin DB5.

None of these lasted very long - I wanted to write but the subjects weren't keeping my interest for whatever reason.  The latter one went on for several months and held the record until now (the car is almost finished though) but a comics blog has turned out differently, as even though technology almost got in the way I'm still here with this one.  But this post isn't about self-congratulation.  It's not even about the popularity of Oink! all these years later (that's covered quite a bit as it is).  No, this post is a thank you.

SO YES, THANK YOU!


A thank you to all those fans who read this and also to those who have contacted me either in the comments, via email or on the Facebook group sharing their own memories of Oink! and how much they're enjoying the blog (and right this very moment I've just read a member's 7-year old is enjoying the comic for the first time through this!).  As a kid I was the only one of my friends to read it regularly but my mates all loved reading mine, so it's been great to interact with so many people now who grew up with it just like I did.

I also want to say a huge thanks to those who have helped shape this blog into something more than I could ever have imagined (and there's still more stuff to come).  All those creators who have been wonderful for all of the same reasons above, but also for your input into the behind-the-scenes of this comic.  But an especially big manly grunt and beers all round for Patrick Gallagher, Lew Stringer and David Leach.  At certain stages along the way, whether it's been through the group, here on the blog, private messages or even via telephone, the personal encouragement you've given me has really given me the confidence to not only "think bigger" about the blog and how I'd like it to be left when it's all over, but also the confidence boost to think about other projects.  I've got two in mind and am developing one at this time.  I never thought these were things I could consider actually doing, but thanks to you all I'm going to give it a shot.  At 36 years of age I'm going to give it a shot.

Finally, of course a huge thank you to my friend Andrew Bell who has been instrumental in the rescue of the blog and equipping me with what I really needed to even consider taking my writing further.

Oink! finished at the end of 1988, which in blog terms means we'll be wrapping it up at the close of 2015.  There's tons to enjoy before then - we still haven't reached the halfway point after all - but on this anniversary (which the examples at the top should tell you is a bit of a milestone for me) I just wanted to say it to each and every one of you, and to Uncle Pigg too - thank you.

See you soon for the next issue!

Friday, 18 April 2014

#26: HAPPY HAMMIVERSARY


It's Oink!'s first birthday issue (not sure if it celebrated its second in an issue and unfortunately the regular comic never had a third) complete with a rather sinister looking Uncle Pigg and inside I dare you to find any strips that miss the mark!  I've been saying rather a lot recently how issues are standing out and the simple fact is Oink! was now really hitting its stride.  1987 was a marvellous year for the comic, the only one where it'd be out all year long and it just keeps going from strength to strength!  I do remember as a kid looking back at the issues in the 20s and 30s as some of my faves, so it'll be interesting for me now to see how they and the following issues up into the 60s stack up to my now-adult eyes.

But for now this is a treasure trove of delights, with some of the strips themed either around the comic's own anniversary (of the release of the free preview issue, a week before #1 actually went on sale on 3rd May) or the birthday or anniversary for a character in their own lives.  Some examples not included here are Dead Fred's Death Day, a birthday "treat" in Zootown and Billy's Brain makes a brief return for a puzzle page (right after I'd noticed he'd gone missing).

It's roughly a 50/50 balance, with half not following the theme but each and every one feels hand-picked to really showcase what the comic is capable of.  Perhaps with the Holiday Special having just gone on sale this could've been a lot of readers' first issue, so they really were in for a treat.  One such non-themed strip is this one-off special from Dave Jones, set in "Porksmouth", the town which was always the butt of jokes in Oink! as it was the home of Mary Lighthouse in some of her own stories.  For now though, it's the setting for The Pied Piper of Porksmouth:


READER ADVISORY:  Now regular blog readers will know of the unnecessary hoopla from certain corners of society which came about after #7, but in this case I feel a little caution is needed for our next appearance of everyone's favourite pensioner, David Leach's Psycho Gran.  If you've just eaten, or have just come off a roller coaster, or have just had to endure the EastEnders omnibus, then I advise you let your stomach settle somewhat before proceeding:


I did try and warn you, so don't come crying to me!  Right below this was Greedy Gorb munching on a whole birthday cake at the end of his strip (bad choice of word there), so he mustn't have seen what had just transpired above his head.

One thing I loved about Oink! was how interactive it was with its readers and this was before "interactive" became the most used word of the 1990s!  Most comics would have a standard letters page, with some having a character replying to the readers, something The Transformers did wonderfully and which resulted in some hilarious and very sarcastic responses at times.  Humour comics kept that going but they printed even smaller snippets of letters amounting to no more than a couple of sentences or maybe a drawing.  As always, Oink! was different.

Grunts was the name of the page given over to the readers every issue and these could contain everything from rude jokes for Nasty Laffs and Specs, pig-related clippings from local newspapers, photographs, the messy bedroom competition in the early days, to the usual letters and drawings.  Oink! was forever asking the readers to get in touch for one reason or another (as you'll see below at this time Butcherwatch was a long-running idea) and every time we wrote in we'd to include the three things we loved the most about each issue.

I don't know why but I never wrote in.  I did mess up my bedroom just for a photo, but then had to wait for the rest of the film to be used up, then developed, then sent back to us... by this stage I'd forgotten all about it.  I can remember having drawings or letters published in Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, Teenage Mutant "Hero" Turtles, The Real Ghostbusters (and later in life Commodore Format and Edge), but for some reason never sent anything in to my favourite comics - Oink! and The Transformers.  No idea why.

Anyway, below is a special 2-page edition of Grunts which shows the kind of randomness you could expect and it's a nice round-up of the various things people sent in over the first year and usually compiled by Patrick Gallagher:


Unlike other comics, Grunts would also appear in specials and annuals, so those readers included in them must've felt extra special as kids!  But surely nothing could beat actually appearing in an Oink! comic strip?  Well that's exactly what three extremely lucky readers managed to achieve in a very special competition which didn't actually appear in its pages, as Uncle Pigg explains below.  As well as winning an actual prize, they also got to meet Marc Riley as Snatcher Sam and Chris Sievey as Frank Sidebottom in their own photo story Don't Play It Again, Sam! which is presented here to you now in all its garishly recoloured splendour:


Now the next strip I want you to see, Tom Thug, I'm not going to include.  The simple reason is that its creator, Lew Stringer, has already written about it on his own blog at Lew Stringer Comics.  It's a wonderful thing, from Tom's explanation of the title of his strip for Wayne, to the great dream sequence caption that I'm not going to ruin for you!  This is also the perfect excuse to get you all to try out Lew's blog if you haven't already and from there you can also access his website and eBay account where you could pick yourself up some original artwork for your walls.  In addition, Lew also has a second blog about comics in general rather than his own work in them, called Blimey! It's another blog about comics! (which is also a link on the left there under 'Pig Pals').

So for Tom's latest just click Lew's logo here to read it and a bit of insight into how it came about:


Lew's insights into his work can be fascinating and must surely be saved as a favourite resource on to the computers of budding cartoonists.  Back to this issue and Banx also has some invaluable tips for them with full step-by-step instructions on how to draw his Mr Big Nose.  Drawing pads at the ready:


Hahaa that last caption, the voice it put in my head for the monster... Brilliant stuff!

Hadrian Vile appeared in the holiday special, the post just before this one, but he's back again so soon simply down to the fact I thought this one-and-a-half pager was so good.  His poor parents.  I can remember one time, still to come, where we'd actually see them as a happy family unit but until then it's the usual sour scours over his latest antics written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by Ian Jackson:


Notice a change to the title of the strip there...?  Yup, Hadrian was ageing along with the comic and was now over 8 rather than 7.  I wonder if the comic had continued would we have eventually seen him hit puberty?!

One more story from the back page now before we return to the depths of the issue for one final treat. Remember Sooty and Sweep?  Of course you do:


I know it's a spoof, but it's got it wrong on this occasion because for me it was Sooty who was always the one that I thought was "kreep"y as a child, just something about him I could never watch...

But anyhow, that final treat.  Taking pride of place in the centre pages of this issue is this delightful poster from artist Ed McHenry (based on a concept by Mark Rodgers) featuring all our favourite Oink! stars from the first 52 weeks of the comic's life, including some which were early characters who were to disappear from the run before even getting this far.  Can you name them all?  Also if you can, can you tell me who the hell that is between Nasty Laffs and Specs and also behind Weedy Willy?  Seriously, if you do know please leave a comment.

Anyway this may be the 1st anniversary party poster, but

"Happy 28th birthday Oink!":


Next issue, the pets special, goes on sale Friday 2nd May.

Monday, 14 April 2014

HOLIDAY SPECIAL #1 (PART ONE): UNCLE PIGG NOSE BEST


It's a time for celebration with Oink! about to party for its 1st year anniversary and the first (of four) summer specials.  Around this time of year all the major comics would get a summer or "holiday" special, an extra thick (usually) issue on nice shiny paper - the perfect way to keep us kids quiet on long train journeys.  I can actually remember reading this on a train heading somewhere on a trip and showing off the cover to whoever was with me.  But of course, with Oink! already being a glossy fortnightly would it be as special for us already-spoiled readers?  Actually, yes, as it feels like an ever-so-slightly thicker paper, so couple this with the increased page count of 48 and it does feel satisyingly weighty - a high quality read and no doubt, all starting off with a fabulous Ian Jackson cover!  I love this and it wouldn't be the last time modelling clay of some sort would feature on a cover of a special Oink! - in fact it'd appear on my very favourite Oink! of them all, as you'll see later in the year.

I decided a recent visit to the hospital (and the hospital waiting area) was the best time for me to read this in preparation for this post and it really is one of the very best issues so far.  Rather than the majority of strips following a theme (some do take the route of stories based on summer holidays) it's a delightfully random selection of fantastic and 'out there' ideas from the creme-de-la-creme of British comics writers and artists.  A few pages in and you realise you really don't know what to expect next.  While this is true of any issue of Oink!, it's even more so here and this was a wonderful surprise.

We start and end proceedings with a Mary Lighthouse strip, or so it seems, but it's not long before a cruelly funny twist of fate brings her together with you-know-who, as written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by Oink!'s legendary Ian Jackson:


You'll see the conclusion soon but not in this post, as you'll see below.

We've got a few returning characters in this who we haven't seen in a while.  Annuals and specials are created a long time in advance and this could account for the return of such early characters as Nigel & Skrat the two-headed rat, Billy's Brain (who I thought ran for longer - maybe he returns at some stage or just appears occasionally from now on) and Pete's Pup, the mammoth-sized pet dog and his forever-tortured human family.  Tom's Toe also makes a reappearance, who we've only previously seen in #12 back in October last year.  Here Tony Husband and John Greering keep the overly-cheesy spoof of other IPC comics going in fine form.  Even Bony Hart is back!

But it's Graham Exton and Jeremy Banx's fault that I received strange looks from other waiting patients at the hospital a couple of weeks ago.  Banx's artwork lends itself wonderfully to random little one-offs alongside his established regular characters and the blog has featured some examples of these in issues 10, 12 and especially #13.  But here not only did we get a full page one-panel Mr Big Nose elsewhere in the comic but we were also treated to this, written as I say by Graham Exton:



Well, after reading that delightfully crazy strip I was already chuckling into myself, being very discreet, then I carried on and only a few pages later...:


That was it, as soon as I saw the title I erupted in the middle of the waiting room.  You know that short, sharp and very loud noise you make when your body wants to laugh but you try to catch it just a second too late?  Yep, that.  Surrounded by a lot of very serious looking people all tired of waiting for so long, I don't think my enjoyment of the NHS waiting area went down too well.  So thank you Graham and Jeremy.  Worth it though.

In #23 we'd the pleasure of Oink! taking some old photographs and creating some hilarious captions for them, completely changing their original intent.  The same idea is brought back here in six profiles of Oink's Piggin' Crazy Readers.  Is this an accurate description of all of us who grew up with the sense of humour this comic implanted in us?  You be the judge:


Now when you go on holiday what do you do with your heavy cases?  Do you lug them around yourself?  Does your loved one offer to do it for you?  Or do you make sure you've got money to tip the porter at your hotel?  What if, instead, you just brought a friend:


Haldane's Zootown is always a reliable destination.

In the special we'd actually a rather special (yes the same word twice in a sentence but it's fitting) contribution from megastar Frank Sidebottom in the shape of a 2-page board game, all very unfairly balanced against anyone who chose to be Little Frank.  The idea was that the evil Kilvertians had invaded and Frank and his pals were going to battle them in their rocket of metal bins.  This was prefaced with a comic strip and, after Frank had left a note for his mum to put his tea in the oven because he'd be in space, we were treated to these rather charming cut-out pieces for the game, as ever drawn by Frank's creator Chris Sievey:


The Thunderbird one is my favourite I have to say.  Chris' artwork does have a certain something which I think I appreciate all the more now as an adult, or maybe that's just the nostalgia, or simply the fact I didn't know he did all his own work for Oink! when I was a kid.  Anyway, a delightful addition to the special.

Have you ever used the Comixology app on your mobile or tablet?  I've used it for the new Transformers comics and let's not forget Psycho Gran is also back in a brand new comic all of her own through them as well (catch up here).  One thing the app version of their website allows you to do is to view each panel of the comic one-by-one as a full-screen image.  While it's a feature of the app I'd turn off when reading Transformers because the artwork is very dynamic - panels are different shapes and sizes and overlap so sometimes you'd miss part of the excellent artwork - for humour comics such as Psycho Gran it can work a treat.  Each panel comes up as a huge image on my iPad, leaving the punchline hidden until the very end, stopping any accidental glances from spoiling the joke when you turn over a page.

A digital Oink! could benefit greatly from something like this.  For example just imagine the next strip in that format and you might see what I mean:


Add in some dramatic musical tone with each new panel and I think it'd be a winner.  Just as Oink! was revolutionary for its time, it could be again with all of the new technology available.  Oink! was a comic for children like nothing before it and there's so much potential out there in the digital realm for the way comics could be interacted with, but really nothing is changing.  With the new digital-only markets out there and Psycho Gran already back, I just keep thinking there's a market there, a gap and potential to change things around just like Uncle Pigg did 28 years ago.  And I can think of no better pig for the job.

But I digress...

This is also the first time I've noticed Haldane writing a script for another artist to draw, this time it's by Pete Dixon who we haven't featured yet here.

But speaking of David Leach's little lady:


Wonderful to look back on these original adventures of her's and know she's still alive and kicking today.

Our final strip for now is a welcome return to the blog for regular Hadrian Vile and this time it's his "Hollyday Diary" we're being treated to.  Brought to us by the usual team of writer Mark Rodgers and artist Ian Jackson here's what happens when you try to take him to the beach... and to be fair he was simply trying to have some father-son time:


Scanning back over this post before I finish this would normally (hopefully) make up an entertaining enough post for you all for an issue of Oink!  But this is the summer special and there's more to come!  These highlights are only from the first half, the first 24 pages and, after the 4-page GBH holiday brochure that makes up the middle, there's more delights to come.  These include a 3-page Burp! to look forward to and a 4-page epic that'll bring out all those nostalgic feelings you have for 80s gameshows and celebs... um... well, trust me, it's unmissable!

So when will you not be missing it?  Given this is a holiday special and technically is meant to last that bit longer come back next month for the second half when, with any luck, the sun will be shining and all those people who bitch about the rain and wind in winter will be bitching about the sun and lack of wind.  Then the following month there's another treat alongside the regular fortnightlies but I'm keeping shtum for now.

Until then though, remember this coming Friday 18th is Oink!'s birthday issue and it's a classic.  Hopefully see you then.

Friday, 4 April 2014

#25: BACK IN THE PLAY PEN


It'll be almost time to catch my breath, right after this issue in fact, since I'm no longer behind schedule, although there is the matter of an extra special Oink! but I'll mention that at the end.  In the meantime here's the toys and hobbies issue and of course that instantly conjures up images of scientific experiments, voodoo and torture.  Or at least it does if you're Hadrian Vile or his artist Ian Jackson by the looks of it.

But what's this?  35p?  "Thirty-FIVE!?  How dare they?!"  Yup, it had to happen eventually and now, one fortnight away from the 1st anniversary edition Oink!'s had to make the jump and take its first price increase.  It's strange to look back now at how different titles were priced.  When Oink! was released it was 30p, yet its stablemates Buster and Whizzer & Chips at IPC Magazines were only 24p, then when the price went up 5p with the pigs, the others only went up 2p.  I remember by the time Oink! folded at the end of the following year Buster was still only 28p.  Was it because Oink! was independently made?  Was it the glossy paper?  Or simply what was worked out by all involved?

Looking back I remember every time a new comic would launch it'd be a few pence more expensive.  When Marvel's The Real Ghostbusters came out it was more expensive than their Transformers, even though both were the same size and shape, while Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends from Marvel was also more expensive yet had less pages.  Maybe it was simply easier to introduce slightly higher prices with new titles than to increase the current ones by that amount.  Or maybe, as I said, each title had its expenses, target audience, projected figures etc worked out by everyone.  Who knows?  My mum definitely wanted to know why every time they went up.

But really, when you think 35p it's unbelievable isn't it?  How on earth could this be produced to such high standards and only cost this much?  It's nothing!  Ahh the days of getting 50p pocket money and being able to buy a comic and a Mars bar.  Long, long time ago that.  (Though my 'reserved at the newsagents' comics never came out of pocket money so I was quick to learn to place an order once I liked something!)

Now, when people hear that Oink! could be cheeky and a little bit rude, they instantly think of bodily functions, but come on is that really what we found funny?  Writer Mark Rodgers and artist Mike Green certainly seemed to think so with Fatty Farmer:


We were kids!  Of course we found it funny!  Fatty Farmer (original tagline: "He's a whole lot calmer") had been introduced in the kinda-relaunch issue #15 when a raft of newbie characters were with us for the first time.  But don't for one minute think this was a cruel strip where the comic took the mickey out of his being overweight.  On the contrary, he'd use his figure to win battles over bullies or, like above, just to have a good time for example.  A miniature feel-good strip and a nice addition.  Though if he ever did any actual farming we never saw it.

If you cast your mind back to the revenge-themed issue #9 you'll probably remember the back page and that nightmare of Mary Lighthouse's after she'd eaten her bacon buttie.  Well actually if you've read that issue once you're most likely to be unable to forget that back page!  Brilliantly crafted and terrifying in equal measure, the unique artwork of Jon Langford hasn't been seen nearly enough so it was a great thrill to see him return in the pages of this issue with The Terrible Toys, which is written by Mark Rodgers also:


And actually that's not the scariest Santa Claus you'll see on the blog, trust me!

We settled back down into more familiar territory after this with Mr Big Nose, Harry the Head presenting cut-out pieces to make your own balloon Harry and Hadrian Vile telling us about his favourite pastimes - slug racing, "bilding a howme-mayde volkaynoe", making disgusting sandwiches and hiding his dad's slipper.  Wonder what certain groups these days would make of a comic making fun of parents smacking their children?

Oh and in case you're wondering, the "fantastic cut-out zeo-trope" is a Frank Sidebottom page where you could create your own animated Frank, one of those round toys with slots in them that when you spin it all the images inside look like they're moving.  Add in the Harry the Head stuff and a cut-out stage and puppets and there wouldn't be much of this issue left if you actually created these things!

Now, last time, I did mention fans of Lew Stringer would have plenty to look forward with this issue and I'm going to place them all right after one another here, even if that isn't exactly the way they're positioned in the actual comic.  We've already seen Music-Mad Jo getting hit by a lorry because she was too busy listening to loud music on her personal stereo (remember them?) and the road safety message that came with that.  Poetically written, Lew returns now with another rhyming tale and again there's a lesson to be learned, Oink!-style, in Hey! Do You Need a Hobby?:


About a decade ago I was a train conductor and in my 4 years there I saw many a trainspotter and appeared in I-don't-know-how-many home videos and photographs as my trains arrived or left stations (when I first began we still had the manually opening doors where we needed to have our heads out the window at such times), never mind when I was the guard on a steam special!  They weren't quite as bad as our protagonist above, but I have a feeling one or two were only ever a few coffees away from it...

From a returning theme to a returning character and it gives me great pleasure to welcome back Specky Hector the Comics Collector.  When he appeared in the war-themed issue (#20) I was sure I recognised him as a regular but in the comments left by Peter Gray and Lew himself I thought maybe I was mistaken, as it seemed he appeared in Buster after that and had just originated in Oink!  Maybe he'd appear once or twice, but I hoped it wouldn't be too long until he did.  Thrilled, he's appeared already just 5 issues later, with a guide which will speak to many of us I'm sure, whether you only collect specific titles off eBay as I do, or are a hardened collector, or even just watch The Big Bang Theory!:


Finally from Lew is another surprise, a second part to last issue's Tom Thug strip.  Okay, so not a surprise to you as I mentioned it last time, but as I said before I didn't know it was a story which was to get an actual resolution.  Of course Tom couldn't remain that way forever but this is a neat way to bring him back, and we get the additional pleasure of seeing Satan back in his own little mini-strip too:


Nice to see Ian Hislop make a special celebrity appearance there as Wayne, or is that just me?

Another nice little one-off drawn by Ian Jackson now, only this time with actual words.  A simple little strip but made nonetheless charming in its own 'Oink!' way by the artwork - the jaggy lines and Ian's style lending it a special 'something' which, as with all his work, you just can't take your eyes off:


A couple more of those little quarter-page strips being featured this time around, as this issue has a very high level of top quality quick jokes hitting the mark and there can be none more guaranteed to do just that than the Ian Knox-drawn Roger Rental, this time written by Mr Rodgers:


Just before we reach the exciting news I started this post off with we introduce another new regular character to the blog.  First rising in the keep fit issue (of all things) and making his first reappearance since, Dead Fred definitely returns regularly as he's another one of those characters that stayed with me.  Here written by Mark Rodgers and always drawn by Wilkie (who did that superb war cover for #20), Fred was exactly what it said on the tin - a dead body.  A walking zombie who was just trying to fit in with everyday life and despite rotting away he'd kept his sense of humour about it!:


No particular Fred strips spring to mind from the time of publication all those years ago but I look forward to rediscovering them again, after all the character has to have stayed with me all these years for some reason.

Well then that's us again.  It's great to finally give you an issue on the actual date it hit our newsstands 27 years ago, after all that was the whole point of this when I first started a year ago.  Yes, a whole year almost.  And it's this special anniversary which we'll be celebrating with the next issue which goes on sale Friday 18th April.

Ah but!  Uncle Pigg is especially happy, as not only is he celebrating a full year of the world's greatest comic but there's also the first ever Oink! Holiday Special which went on sale at the same time as this issue here!  Just think of all that extra money he made for his birthday (on top of all those extra 5p's too):

Drawn by Tony Husband

So while it's a full fortnight once more until the next regular issue, look out for the first of two posts for the special before then.  After all, it is a big fat pig of a comic so one post just wouldn't do it justice.

See you back here soon (again).

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

#24: GOT TIME FOR ANOTHER ISSUE?

Originally due on the blog on Friday 21st March.



It's quite fitting (though a coincidence) the final issue which is out of time is actually about time travel.  With an uncanny impression of 6th Doctor Colin Baker, Uncle Pigg flies through time on the cover, drawn by Ian Jackson, on the final issue I'll be posting up which isn't on the date of the original comic's publication.  With the next issue we'll finally be back on track!

Like with the Christmas issue, this "Time-Travel Special" sees Uncle Pigg leave the Oink! office and set out on an epic strip which is split into a few different parts throughout the issue.  With no plops or pigs to back him up this time it's him on his own in a suspiciously familiar police box as he battles to find his way home, popping in and out of other characters' strips as he does so.

Unlike at Christmas though I'm going to keep the individual parts separate and in their right order amongst the rest of the comic.  No reason, just feel like it this time.  Hey Oink! always felt rather random, why shouldn't the blog upon occasion.  It all starts innocently with Uncle Pigg uncharacteristically late to the office:


Three of the strips featured in this update actually include boss hog zooming about in the background I've just noticed.  Can you find him?  A piggy prize for the first person to identify all three*, really**! (* no there's not) (**really there's not)

Recently I found out that Psycho Gran (who has just been released upon the earth in her own brand new comic - see our first news report) actually only appeared in 16 issues of the regular Oink!  Unbelievable!  I honestly thought she was in every single one after her first appearance but 10 issues since and we've only seen her a couple of times in the pages of the comic.  The following series of strips has also only popped up about the same amount of times so far:


This time brought to us by Davy Francis, the Rotten Rhymes were always imaginative. Knowing they're not going to be there every issue, just like the little old dear mentioned above, isn't a bad thing at all.  Oink! was so full of different characters and random one-off or mini-series strips that there simply wasn't room for everything in every single issue.  But isn't this one of the things we loved so much about it?  Not knowing what to expect?

And anyway, just makes them all the more special when they do appear.

Just before Uncle Pigg reappears there's the conclusion of Harry the Head's Big Adventure and I for one am glad he's to start reappearing in, as Marc Riley puts it at the end of the page, "everyday life" again.  The ongoing serial on this occasion just didn't seem to gel together as well as other examples and seemed a bit too made-up-on-the-spot for want of a better phrase and felt dragged out at times, with disparate elements being added when all we really wanted to see was Harry and Barney having a laugh and making us do the same, rather than be in jeopardy every issue.  Harry is a big part of Oink! so hopefully we'll see him again soon on the blog now.

Hopping about in time can be a dangerous thing, but unfortunately even Uncle Pigg's next installment wouldn't be enough to see pigs rule and thus the comic lasting longer than it did in the end:


Nice try though!  Even if he isn't aware of what he did.

I've already mentioned Marc Riley above and even more than his strips he was known as the loveable thief Snatcher Sam in all those photo stories we enjoyed so much.  But for this edition we've a slight change of plan, after all in the setting pictured we'd hardly have cameras about now would we?  No, so with Mark Rodgers' script in hand it's down to Mike Taylor to reinvent Mr Riley as an actual comic star:


The Oink! writers sure do like their rhymes of late, with Music-Mad Jo last issue and another poetic piece of mirth to come from Mr Stringer next issue, which will definitely see inclusion on here!

Back to Doctor Pigg now and it's time to rocket off into the far future, exactly 1000 years from the date at the time and he's about to come up against the most feared creatures in all the universe, who wish to destroy all piggy life as we know it, who trundle about inside their pepper pot-like machinery shouting terrifying and easily marketable catchphrases into the air.  Yep, take a Dalek, add a butcher's hat and apron, replace their sink plungers with actual weapons and you get...:


So there you go folks, there's still hope for a return of the comic, we just have to be a wee bit patient.  You know I was never a fan of Doctor Who until about a year after this (Sylvester McCoy's second year was my first) but there could've been very few kids who wouldn't know all the references in this tale and I'm sure if it were about today the comic would once again have its sights keenly set on the series.

Now back as far as #3 of the comic when the cast of Star Truck came crashing in through the whole issue it was made clear the strips didn't have to stay within their own borders with this new comic.  As well as official crossovers we've had characters popping up everywhere, sometimes even just a random cameo can influence the outcome of an entire story.  The Star Trek spoof mentioned was a perfect example (go read and enjoy if you haven't already) and now with the editor himself lost in time and space anything is possible once more in Davy Jones' Spotticus the Slave:


As well as this story, Uncle Pigg's TARDIS could be seen flying about in Pete and his Pimple and the superbly titled Dick Tater - Dictator of Time.  We'll come back for the final instalment in just a few page scrolls.  But for now it's time to go from one Davy back to the other and Davy Francis' Greedy Gorb:


I sometimes found in comics that some characters became a one-trick pony, with their weekly/fortnightly antics basically being exactly the same but with a different setting.  With Gorb this should feel the same - whatever was the focus of the strip on each occasion would inevitably end up in his stomach.  However Davy Francis kept coming up with novel situations to place him in and well thought out scenarios to extract the most chuckles from the chomping.  He'd even get to be a cover star when Oink! became weekly!

Chas Sinclair's artwork is just perfect for stories such as the next one, written by Tony Husband.  He has a knack of making a funny strip look like a serious tale and with a script like this one it's the perfect marriage.  It lends it another level of absurdity and a certain comedic level similar to previous spoof strips as you could easily see this kind of artwork in a more serious comic... until you read it.  Perfect:


The next issue is going to be something of a treat for Lew Stringer fans with no fewer than three pages worth of his work and it begins now with a special 2-part Tom Thug strip.  Plenty of smiling faces right now I'm sure as Tom remains a huge fan favourite as I'm sure you know (and if you don't, go read all the posts tagged with him right now if you don't want any bovver).  Only because I'm working on so many issues so close together at the moment am I aware that this following page actually continues into the next edition, as I've just scanned in #25 before writing this.  Anyway, I'll shush and let you get on with it:


When I read it I definitely found it funny, that should go without saying, but assumed it'd all be back to normal next time.  Not so.  If I were to tell you the next instalment would be entitled 'Tom Thug?', with additional question mark, are we to assume his days of brainless bullying are behind him?  Of course not.  But you'll have to wait a few more days until you see what happens.

But for now we can certainly round up one story, with the conclusion of Mark Rodgers' Uncle Pigg/Doctor Who crossover of sorts:


Argh!  That mug again!  I want my mug back!  Someone is bound to have one somewhere, go on put it on eBay for me!!!  Ahem, sorry.  Anyone who has read the previous post concerning Oink! merchandise will know how desperately I'm after that mug.  Every single day I'm on eBay searching for anything with "oink" in the title in the desperate hope of it turning up.  Left it in an old workplace when I got fired (several of us got "let go" on the same day because of cutbacks, nothing I did, just to be clear!)  as I just wanted to get out of there and that was in 1997!  Yup, was still using it even then.  I've got a cupboard full of different cups and mugs, all different colours and logos, none match, but there's still one missing...

Anyway, I digress somewhat (but a quick plea never hurts).

(This isn't the first time Colin Baker has had the honour of having an Ian Jackson version of himself by the way, the previous one you can see here.)

Do you remember in the 80s the year 2000 seemed so far away?  It sounded so futuristic.  It was a year where we could look forward to flying cars, moving pavements in every town, monorails and robots to do our every bidding if our wish lists as kids were anything to go by.  It was also the year the 2000AD comic would have to change its name to 3000AD to remain futuristic, according to the experts in the playground.

Well, to finish off this issue Mark Rodgers came up with the following back page which is superbly drawn in full hand-painted colour by Ed McHenry, showing us how the Oink! offices would look in that far-flung year of the future.  Oh if only we'd had those extra 12 years, eh?:


That's us folks!  Not just for this issue but for being behind schedule at all!  Woo and indeed hoo.  Join me this coming Friday the 4th when #25 will actually go up without that pesky "originally due on the blog on" opening.  Finally.

See you then.