Sunday, 31 August 2014

THE STREETHOGS: DAY OF THE TRIFFICS (EPISODE FOUR)

Here we are already for the final part of the StreetHogs second adventure from Mark Rodgers and J.T. Dogg.  It may only have been a third of the length of their original story but it was still great fun and now, with what looks like Jimmy 'The Cleaver' Smith's entire toolbox flying through the air towards them, how on earth are they going to get out of this one with less than a second to spare (apparently)?  Why do you even ask?  You know you'll never guess!:


Yes the 'Hogs will indeed return in 1988... well, 2015 in blog terms but make sure you come back this Friday for #36 when J.T. Dogg takes on something you wouldn't expect, when Oink! goes peculiar!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

THE STREETHOGS: DAY OF THE TRIFFICS (EPISODE THREE)

Hope you're enjoying vegging out on your daily dose of these, folks.  Sow now plant yourself back down, compos(t)e your thoughts and dig in to the penultimate part of Day of the Triffics, from writer Mark Rodgers and artist J.T. Dogg:


To be concluded...

Friday, 29 August 2014

THE STREETHOGS: DAY OF THE TRIFFICS (EPISODE TWO)

Yesterday, with one of the best puns (or worst, depends on your point of view) to entice us back for the next instalment, we found our heroes being summoned to the mastermind's lair by his pig-devouring plants.  But who could this master of disguise be?  And if you'd read the first StreetHogs strip why would you ask such a stupid question?

We pick up where we left off now with part two of Day of the Triffics!:


Thursday, 28 August 2014

THE STREETHOGS: DAY OF THE TRIFFICS (EPISODE ONE)

They're back!  For young readers at the time it must've seemed like an age since the last appearance of the StreetHogs in #11 when they promised of their return in Day of the Triffics.  Add in the back page teaser in #27 which I used yesterday on the blog and the posters in #31 which you can see here, the comic sure knew how to build anticipation and ensure their fans wouldn't miss an issue!

Now for those of you joining in who may have missed their first epic tale and who may be wondering why I'm making such a big deal out of four little strips over the course of this week, go check out their first adventure right here and we'll wait for you.

Ok that took longer than expected didn't it?  All twelve parts are fantastic though, with one even more preposterous cliffhanger and ludicrous escape after another.  Well you're well prepared then for their return.  This time it may be only four issues in length but as they were such fan favourites and a rarity in the comic I'm posting them separately again, only this time every morning between now and this Sunday, just like we used to enjoy the serialised television shows the 'Hogs are so brilliantly spoofing.

This was also the first time I came across the characters as a child, as they'd already concluded their first story by the time I came onboard Oink! with #15.  I knew of the Day of the Triffids from seeing the movie late one night with my mum and so this strip was just perfect fodder for my young brain and I knew fine rightly the morning shows they were having a go at too.  So it's been great to read this again and with having read the final part already in #35 I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did!

Before the first episode, however, I just have to say how sad it is that the two great minds behind this - writer Mark Rodgers and artist J.T. Dogg - are no longer with us.  It's testament to their talents that these strips are still enjoyed as much today as they were when first published.  Talents which are greatly missed.

In honour of them both, part one of The StreetHogs: Day of the Triffics:


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

STARTS TOMORROW: THE STREETHOGS RETURN!



(Excuse the 'Kevin' sticker, was like this when I got it off eBay and it rips when I try to take it off.  So "hi" to Kevin!  Whoever you are out there.)

Sunday, 24 August 2014

A BIT OF SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION: STREETHOGS 2!

Well actually I'm promoting this brilliant, classic comic and the superb talents of Mark Rodgers and J.T. Dogg (aka Malcolm Douglas) if truth be told, but it's right here on The Oink! Blog where you'll be able to enjoy the sequel to The StreetHogs - The Day of the Triffics!

At long last, after riding off in not-so-spectacular fashion all cramped onto one bike way back in #11, the 'Hogs made a reappearance in Oink! #32.  However, like last time I'm intending to keep their adventures separate from the regular run.  Back in the early days when this blog was but a piglet, I collected 3 issues worth of their 'episodes' (they were a great spoof of Saturday morning TV cliffhanger serials) at a time and posted them up once a fortnight.  But this time, with their second adventure taking up only four issues I've decided to do something different.

But what, pray tell?:


See you Thursday, I'm sure...!

(Or, if you haven't read their first tale yet - or simply wish to revisit it - you can by clicking right here.)

Friday, 22 August 2014

#35: TRAVELLING TO THE OTHER SIDE

Cover artwork by Ian Jackson

Well here we are then with our first issue of the second half of Oink!'s run - the start of the final 34 editions.  Well that's a bit premature to be saying that, there's still so much great stuff to come after all, particularly over the remainder of this year (1987 in old money), but it's also noteworthy that with us moving into what would be the second half of the run (unbeknownst at the time of course) something big had changed.

By coincidence this was also the first issue to no longer be published by IPC Magazines.  This was where Fleetway took over and in hindsight, with what was to eventually befall the comic, it's an incredibly important transition.  Looking at this issue you'd not notice it unless you read the copyright blurb at the bottom of page 2 (bigger changes were to arrive with the very next issue however) and you may be wondering why I'm giving it such prominence right at the beginning of the post.

Fleetway was originally created by newspaper group chairman Cecil Harmsworth King and when he later purchased Odhams and Newnes publishers the IPC holding company was formed to oversee them all.  Eventually it was all rebranded under various parts of IPC itself with Oink! falling under IPC Magazines alongside all the other comics.  However in 1987, IPC sold off its comics by placing them into a separate 'Fleetway' company and selling the whole caboodle to Robert Maxwell's Pergamon Holdings Ltd.

Maxwell's company now owned Oink!.

Well, you see, Oink! was a hit for IPC and they certainly treated it as such, with an average of around 100,000 sales an issue.  But when the comics were sold off and Fleetway was 'reborn' under Maxwell a reorganisation took place across the titles.

Sales groups were formed.  I'm not sure of the exact makeup of these but by way of example Buster and Whizzer and Chips were placed alongside a couple of others into one group.  Oink! was placed into another which had a few different titles, one of which I know was Nipper (see also here).  The total sales of each group would be what counted now - if the group's total sales fell too far all titles within that group would be canned.  It's a strange system and I'm sure they had their reasons, though I fail to see how it could be seen as anything other than over-simplification of a huge amount of titles.

Just as the video game industry suffered a crash in the early-to-mid 80s (when booming sales led to too many bandwagon jumpers and too much crap being produced, with a 'crash' in sales the result) the British comics industry would end up kind of having one of its own.  Comics were big business around this time, but this opened the floodgates to so many titles over the late 80s and early 90s that individual sales began to suffer.  Maybe Maxwell's lot knew there were too many titles and wanted to trim them down the easiest way possible, but they certainly went about it the wrong way in my opinion if this is the case.  Oink! may not have been getting the sales of long-time stalwarts Buster or Whizzer and Chips with their quarter-of-a-million or so readers, but it was head and shoulders above the sales of the other comics in its new group and should've been treated as such by this 'new' Fleetway.

Regardless if this was the reason or not, the groups were now laid out and in the end this would be the first brick in the wall that'd stop Oink! dead in its tracks at a later stage.

We'll revisit this tale as things develop over the course of the comic's lifetime here in the blog, but for now it's back to the current issue and it's time to see off the school holidays with sun, sea, sand and selfies in our "Terrific Travel Issue".  Selfies?  In 1987?  Kind of:


Frank Sidebottom's holiday snaps had apparently been left on the train but luckily he could remember them and so set about drawing them up for the benefit of readers.  When I saw this one - given the influx of 'selfies' online these days - I just had to include it.  You see?  Oink! well ahead of the curve again, about 25 years before these became the thing to do.  Okay that's a bit of a stretch, but a good excuse to include it.

In recent issues a writer has come to the fore amongst the 3-panel strips the comic was so good at.  Howard Osborn has only featured once on the blog before (last issue in fact with his take on Roger Rental - He's Completely Mental) but his name has been appearing with more frequency in the actual pages.  This time around he's got at least five strips with his name attached, four of which are three-panels and I'm going to feature all these here.  The first is the latest addition to the list of Rotten Rhymes with his take on Baa-Baa Black Sheep:


Artist Davy Francis would also team up with Howard for my very favourite Greedy Gorb so far.  Now last time he appeared on the blog I did say how his strips would probably fall under the 'one trick pony' category if he were in another comic, but with Oink! his antics were always fresh and inventive.  While his own pun in this next strip would normally be enough to raise a chuckle, what stood out for me this time was just how many jokes the two of them fitted into just two panels!:


Short but superb and a highlight of the issue.  However Howard wasn't finished, not by a long way.  The other two of his strips I'm including are a one-off character for this special travel theme.  When turning the page and seeing the first one again I actually had a flashback to reading it as a child.  With puns in that Greedy Gorb strip to rival those of Graham Exton, Howard Osborn was obviously relishing his time on Oink! and would bring out even more groans in the readers with these two featuring Tommy Tyre (He Gets Around):



Just to nip back into the world of Davy Francis and his other creation now and the one which was the very first comic strip Oink! ever published within its pages.  Cowpat County was the first strip in the preview issue and you can read it right here if you haven't already.  They've appeared less frequently in the comic so it's always good to see the return of Farmer Giles et all and this time it's another Oink! crossover.

Back in #15 many new characters were introduced to the run.  As I've discovered with my readthrough, many of those classed as regulars might not be in every single issue however, such was the mass of characters and talent involved and the wish to keep it all fresh and seemingly random.  One such strip was Barrington Bosh - He's Incredibly Posh, who now makes his first appearance on the blog too.  His life was one of luxury, with staff to do everything from tying his shoelaces to actually replacing him in conversations as he was just too rich to talk to other people.

He was drawn by Roger Rental's Ian Knox, which shouldn't be a surprise given the similarities in the full names of the strips and here Ian and Davy teamed up to draw the strip together when Bosh finds himself somewhere a bit out of his depth:


Another regular in the Oink! sense of the word is the loveable rogue pensioner Psycho Gran.  Created by David Leach who continues to create new adventures to this day for her in her own comic, she usually took up half a page with her often violent take on retirement.  I could only ever remember her taking up a full page in the second Christmas issue with a back page mini-poster of her 'waiting' for Santa Claus, so I was delighted to see her in a full-page of comic strip right here in this issue.

Does that mean the violence is spread out more?  You know, thinned out so as to drag it over double the length of time?  Not quite!:


She should try coming here and using Northern Ireland's public transport system!

UPDATE: Have a read of the comments section for this post where you'll find some Psycho Gran trivia from her creator.

Recently I've featured some superb artwork by Viz's Simon Thorpe, which you should really check out in the label on the left there as none of it should be missed by any proper pig pal.  There was an incorrect myth surrounding the relationship between the two comics - that the adult title's creators resented the young upstart and claimed it was just a pale copy of theirs.  In reality the creators of the two comics knew each other, were fans of each other's work and would meet up upon occasion.  The very fact Simon, who is one of the editorial team at Viz, contributed to Oink! should prove this point.

I also think it's rather unfair to compare the two.  While they share similar traits such as an anarchic feeling, celebrity spoofs, false adverts etc at a time when other comics didn't do such a thing, they were very different and not just with their target audiences.  If you actually read both, to say Oink! copied it is like saying every single traditional comic such as Buster, Whizzer and Chips, Whoopee etc etc etc were simply copying The Dandy.  Each of those comics was a separate entity in and of itself yet fitted within a general genre of humour comics.  Even disregarding the different audiences of Viz and Oink! that's about as similar as they get - same genre (which they were the only two of back then and where the confusion probably comes from), both hugely enjoyable, but yet completely different.

Simon returns to Oink! here with a brilliant one-off strip for the travel theme, as we take off on an Arctic Adventure:


Now for many readers Pete and his Pimple was a highlight of every single issue.  This was definitely the case for me, that's for sure.  However, with this issue it was certainly so across the board (no pun intended) as Pete would take up over three full pages of the comic, including a double-page spread board game right in the centre.

Remember the Frank Sidebottom cut-out board game pieces from the Holiday Special earlier this year?  Well now it's the turn of Pete Throb.  The setup is simple - a possible cure for all forms of problematic acne has been discovered but as convenience would have it for a game there was only enough to cure one person of it.  Hence why Pete and his pimply pals (once again including his sister, Tom Thug's girlfriend) are set to battle their way across the globe.  The story behind the adventure is as follows, as always from the mind of Lew Stringer:


Jumping forward several pages to the middle of the comic and we're presented with this colourful game board, complete with many and various ways of forcing your piece around the board and back to the beginning again.  There's rules though!  Albeit it ones that do acknowledge this is a made up game for inside a comic:


Extremely inventive and even reading it now as an adult I can imagine the amount of fun kids would have had playing this while they waited for the next issue.  Silliness such as this just wasn't there in Game of Life was it?!

But that's not all.  Like the final cutscene when you complete a video game, this board game had a little something extra for the winner on the next page:


Fans of Pete and his puss should look forward to a future issue very soon when he gets his very own title!  Well, a pull-out mini comic anyway.  Now that's a definite highlight which will be featuring in its greasy glory right here!

To finish off the last issue with the nice shiny paper a very welcome return to the blog for another old favourite who I first included all the way back in #1's post - Rubbish Man.  Now accompanied every fortnight by Boy Blunder, Haldane's creation hasn't been seen in his regular Jimmy Bung guise for what feels like an age and this issue is no exception.  Deciding they need a holiday our intrepid (and inept) heroes remain as they are and head off on a special bus tour to "Hunt the Yeti":


As ever, Haldane twists the story into something completely unpredictable and hugely entertaining and I cracked up at the mention of the gas bill by the yeti.  Great stuff, it's been far too long since he was featured and I know of some blog readers who'll be very happy to see his inclusion.

There we go then, another issue down and a terrific run to come, so stay tuned for them and everything else planned here.  Thanks to you all for sticking around this long!

Monday, 18 August 2014

AUGUST SPRING CLEANING - THE BLOG RELAUNCHES

Ok, so saying it's "relaunched" may sound like a bit of an exaggeration on first glance but it really is a relaunch of sorts to me.  I've mentioned recently about how I won't now be finishing off the blog at the end of 2015 when I run out of regular issues of the comic.  Well, it all starts now and so for me it's an exciting day!

I'm heading off in a new direction with this thing as I'll explain below, but first there were other things needing done to give it all a bit of a spruce up first, then a bit of redesigning to give it a fresh look as a kind of symbolising of it all.  So...

First up I did a bit of spring cleaning.



The labels over there on the left (now titled Stuff in the Sty) were a bit of a mess - there were duplicates, labels for things which didn't need them, some which didn't fit in with the way the blog is set up etc.  So I went right back to the first post and worked all the way through, sorting them all out to streamline them and basically tidy it all up.  They should now be the definitive 'contents' of the blog, including a couple of new ones indicating some of the changes being made.

There were some really cool updates to add too, more on that below.

While I'd tried some much smaller online things before, I'd never done anything on the scale of what this blog has become - both in size itself and its popularity.  So while reading all the posts, especially the early ones, I may have corrected the occasional bit of wording here or there - oops!  Nothing that was necessarily wrong by most people's eyes, but after the following song was released I did edit a post here or there where you may now see a distinct lack of "Oxford commas" or "quotation marks for emphasis"...:


The man is a genius, is he not?  I have to say I'm one of those people who can't stand the grammar internet comments sections have highlighted and agree with Weird Al on everything there, so I did have to eliminate the evidence from those early posts!

The next thing then...

A bit of building a new look.


A bit of a new colour change, a new logo, a restructured side panel, even Uncle Pigg typing away furiously for the blog at the bottom of the page there.  I spent a really enjoyable rainy day at my new desk overlooking my garden designing and fiddling - with the blog.  I think I spent the same amount of time nitpicking at what I'd done and fixing things which were probably fine, than actually designing and rebuilding.  It's a little thing, but for me it's freshened it all up and personally I just wanted to do it for myself, as much as for the blog, to give it a new look to go with...

... the new direction.


Basically, there'd been so much other Oink!-related stuff I could've included before now but it didn't fit into the strict setup I'd created for myself.  So gone now are the 'News' and 'Updates' pages.  If something new and exciting happens in the Oink! world then it'll get a post to itself without being pigeon-holed into a 'News' section.  Also, recently, you'll have seen a post about how Oink! was being marketed by IPC Magazines before its launch, the information from which would before now have been added to the very first post of the blog, which detailed the pre-launch period.  This was because the blog was due to last only a certain amount of time (which made the 'News' section nonsensical too in hindsight) and when stopped the Oink! story would be here for people to come and read from beginning to end and in a strict order.

But seeing such fantastic blogs as Blimey! It's Another Blog About Comics! or Wacky Comics! (both are available in the Pig Pals section on the left there) I realised THAT'S the kind of blog I want. Really, that's the kind of site Oink! deserves - ongoing and random, where you'll just not know what's coming next.  Those blogs were what inspired me to begin with so now here it is, The New Oink! Blog, with the issues still coming on the right dates but where anything could - and will - be covered in-between.

This includes anything big from the creators.  But now and again some tiny snippet of information will raise its hand and make me notice it, maybe something very small but definitely noteworthy.  In these circumstances there's a case to add a snippet to a previous post (like in all blogs) and I'll keep you informed of these with updates posts in the main blog instead of a separate page.  Expect one soon!

I'm excited at some of the things to come, hope you are too.


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

COMMERCIAL BREAK: THE 80s!

As I mentioned in my last blog post we're now halfway through the 68 regular issues of Oink! and, to celebrate the fact something has finally kept my attention span tuned in for any length of time, I thought it might be a nice idea to have a look back at some of the real advertisements which featured in the comic.

Be warned, if you read comics back in the mid-to-late 80s you're about to feel very, very old.  In fact, whether you read them or not you're about to feel your age with some of these!

Before I let you peruse over them just keep in mind these are all from issues of a comic which was published between 1986 and 1988.  This means all of these are between 26 and 28 years old!!  Just take that in for a second and prepare yourself.  Ok, you ready?  Probably best you sit down first, just incase.

We'll start off with some food-based ones.  Remember when these were brand new?:


Or how about when they tried to market bread to kiddies?  (To be fair the 90s were even worse with their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles loaf):


The next ad was of a type which would be the first casualty of the overbearing Health and Safety brigade - the 'collect x amount of stuff to claim a cheap gift' kind of promotions fizzy drinks companies always used to run.  Remember these ring pulls?  Yup, after years and years of using them without incident they'd be ruled too dangerous in later years:


There's also nothing quite like plastering a ridiculous face on something to try to make it appeal to children as a last resort:


Maybe changing the taste would've been more successful.  Never had the stuff.  Well, first hand anyway.  I did kiss a girl many, many years later who'd just eaten a spoonful.  Needless to say that put a stop to any and all future meetings!

The 80s were a great time for technology.  For the first time electronic entertainment had come to the fore and we were lapping up home computer games, tabletop electronic gaming (oh yes, tabletop, not handheld!) and VCRs, which were brand new and I can still remember the guy coming to install it.  Installation was necessary back then for a video recorder.  I sat there as a little 7 year old and took it all in while it went straight over the heads of my parents.

I can also remember our first microwave, my sister's combined miniature TV/cassette player/radio and my own portable cassette players which ran on Duracell batteries.  I'm sure I wasn't the only one who'd listen to their favourite songs getting slower and slower until it stopped before finally buying new batteries.  Or rewinding the tape by putting a pencil in one spoke and spinning it to save on power.

Ah yes, the memories.  Speaking of the very latest in musical technology, surely nothing screams 80s more than this invention:


Staying with technology, in this day of watches mainly being replaced by phones and these devices doing basically everything imaginable, looking back brings to mind the cliche "in simpler times".  But really, they were and we were so much more easily wow'ed:


Entertainment now.  For all you comics fans out there, at the time of writing this post issue #1893 of 2000AD had just gone on sale according to their website.  Well in an issue of Oink! - the comic I read and enjoy now as if it was yesterday it was on sale - I discovered something which brought it back home with a bang how long ago this really was:


Ouch.

But for those of you browsing this who may not be into comics that much, how about a couple of new releases at the cinema?  That's right, the cinema.  Not Saturday afternoon on Watch or Dave.  These next couple of adverts were for brand new, never-before-seen movies!:



To finish off I've scanned one side of a leaflet which fell out of one of the Oink!s I was reading.  There was a particular hobby which seemed to be forced upon us all the time through leaflets and adverts in our comics back then and, I'll admit, I even dabbled myself.

Oh, "dabbled".  What exciting hobby could this be?  It was one of those 'in' things back in the 1980s for children and many of us were drawn in by leaflets such as this, only to ultimately give up a few months later and never finish our collections.

Now before the leaflet itself, take a look at this young girl who features in it:


How excited is she??  Something that could make her so deliriously happy and which sucked us all in to have a "dabble", in an age of brand new technology breakthroughs - surely it must all mean she's just got her hands on the very latest in space-age tech?  The starry landscape in the background surely suggests it, doesn't it?

Not quite:


Bless.

Friday, 8 August 2014

#34: HALF-TIME SHOW


Can you believe we're already at the halfway point in the regular issues?  That's right, just another 34 to go after this one until that final, fateful issue appears in October 2015 right here.  But as I've mentioned recently the blog will continue, so this is no time to get down, it's a time to celebrate the fact that after all these lovely issues we've still got the same amount yet to cover!  Plus, as a way of acknowledging the fact we've covered half the issues I'm going to put up a particularly nostalgic post in a few days which I hope you'll enjoy.

Back to the present 27 years ago and Ed McHenry gives us a fantastic Thundercats riff with the cover of our Amazing Adventure Issue, filled with daring dos and spoof action tales.  I have a very distinct memory of reading this issue thanks to this cover and the fact my older brother was a Thundercats fan.  CBBC (when it was a couple of hours in the afternoon on BBC One) started the series with a double-length episode I remember, but back then we all had loyalties to either BBC or ITV for our afternoon kids' telly and I was an ITV boy at this young and naive stage.  Later in life I discovered the rich content of BBC children's programming I missed out on as a result.

Now while the Thunderpigs are featured below and they've got the cover, for me they're not the headline act here.  For some reason I'd no recollection of the following actually happening but it was an absolute joy to open pages 4 and 5 now and discover the following mega-crossover!  Forget Age of Ultron, this is where it's at:


Zeta had already featured in the comic's Tom Thug strips as his girlfriend but little did we know she was Zeta Throb and related to the Pete and his Pimple star.  Lew Stringer's creations were fan favourites and to this day still stand out as such with the now-much-older readers.  I'm sure this strip is going to please many when they see it, including some of our younger readers who are enjoying this comic for the first time.  It was also a great time to be a fan of Pete in particular, as he'd soon be subject to his own pull-out comic and then the time would come, not far off now, when readers would be asked to send in their solutions to his pimply problem.  Watch out for these as they're handled brilliantly by Lew.  After all, none were allowed to work.

Also in case you missed it Tom has already featured in a special crossover story in #13 of Oink! when he came face-to-face with none other than Weedy Willy in a special strip which saw both Lew Stringer and Mike Green work on the same pages and within the same panels!  Written by Lew, Mark Rodgers and Graham Exton it's a highlight of the entire run and you can catch up by clicking here.

Now that we've passed the real main strip for many of us, it's time to introduce the latest in a long tradition of Oink! spoofs.  Written by who else but Mark Rodgers and drawn by the same hands as the cover above (Ed McHenry in case your memory is going the same way as mine) here they are - the Thunderpigs:


More of a parody of all children's cartoons of the day than just the 'Cats, this strip made a good point.  In the early 80s rules were relaxed about not allowing children's TV to promote toys etc.  This opened the floodgates to whole series based on our favourite playthings, led expertly by The Transformers and Masters of the Universe.  While Thundercats was first and foremost a TV series and the toys were a spin-off of it rather than the other way around, Oink! still gets the point across.

Reading this I'm actually remembering why I didn't follow the Thundercats as a child and it wasn't just because it was on the 'wrong channel' - that bloody Snarf character and the two kiddie cats were so annoying, even as a child myself.

I have to say it was an absolute torture to choose what to include in this post, there's some real gems I've had to leave out such as Burp's man-eating bathtub, Rubbish Man's disastrous present buying skills for Frozen Chicken Man, Hadrian Vile playing 'He-Person and the Lords of the Yooniverse' and Mary Lighthouse's strip expertly ripping apart those who protest violently against violence on TV and in comics.  Though I'm not too fussed on the Harry the Head strip when it does an 'ongoing adventure' type of story, much better when it focuses on a tight, funny page instead.  Asides from that though, seriously get this issue picked up from eBay if you get the chance and by way of example the next few scans all come from a run of 6 pages right in the middle of the comic, one glorious bit of paper after another.

We start off with Banx's latest Butcherwatch.  Well technically it is but by this stage his Jimmy 'The Cleaver' Smith creation had captured the imaginations of not just Banx himself obviously, but also of the young readership who became enraptured in following the terrifying serial butcher's despicable doings to the good pigs of the UK.  So the semi-regular Butcherwatch updates had now been officially renamed here as Cleaver Flash!:


When you think about the fact pigs were full citizens in the world of Oink! it's brave to show a character like this covered in pig blood and standing in pools of it every time he popped up, but we all knew what butchers did for a living and that this was just an exaggerated bit of fun.  Saying that, the character did send shivers up the spine as a kid as he is just so creepy looking and Banx seemed to have great fun in being as disturbing as he could get away with in a kids' comic.  Just look back at my last example of him creeping silently through a window and now with that last panel above as well is it any wonder we looked forward to his infrequent visits to the pages of Oink! - kids love a good scary baddie!

I also like the nice little details above such as the reporter constantly covering the face of the victim with his mic, the way the pools of blood appear to be literally pouring from his cleavers and rippling away from his feet and the look of the poor victim in that middle-right panel on the second page as he realises things aren't quite right.  Brilliant stuff.

Next Ron Tiner makes a welcome return with his very 'IPC adventure comic' style for this fun one-off spoof of everyone's favourite nature programme presenter and narrator:


The next strip is rather exciting when you look back on it in hindsight.  In the 2000s Lew Stringer took over the Mini Marvels strip in Panini's Marvel Rampage comic.  After the comic itself finished its run Lew was then approached to continue these small humour strips in the UK's Spectacular Spider-Man comic.  Think Robo Capers from The TransformersCombat Colin from Action Force (and later The Transformers too) and Blimey! It's Slimer from The Real Ghostbusters.  They felt like extra treats every issue and were hugely enjoyable.

Unfortunately when Disney took over the Marvel empire they stopped all UK-originated material in their comics, not only these wonderful humour strips but any and all UK main strips, all being replaced with Amercian reprints.  Fair enough the Marvel monthlies we get here are great value for money, usually combining three titles of American content for the price of one comic (and DC do the same - Batman Legends was once a favourite of mine), but there was still room for original UK comics with these characters.  Not anymore though.

Thankfully Lew has shared some of his Mini Marvels on his Lew Stringer Comics blog and you can click here (you really, really should!) to see all his posts tagged with the 'Spider-Man' label who was a regular fixture of these strips.

Now you've gone and enjoyed them why am I bringing them up here on The Oink! Blog?  Well, in his blog Lew says how much fun he had drawing these famous characters.  However, in this issue Lew came up with this brilliant little spoof of one of those very characters, many years before getting the official gig:


Before we move on again, just go back and check out the graffiti on the wall there if you missed it.

Now on to the bottom half of this page which is a lead-in to the poster which came with this issue:


You'll have seen on the front cover above reference to a "Norm-ham Conquest" pull-out.  Imaginatively written by Tony Husband and superbly drawn by Wilkie this is the creme de la creme of historical satire.  The style would made a great poster in a big elaborate frame, only to surprise visitors to your home when they take a closer look at The Styeux Tapestry 1066:


If anyone asks you to show them an example of Oink! when you're trying to describe it to the, wanting to make sure they don't think it's just like any other comic you're simply partial to, then show them that!  To me it perfectly captures the comic's sense of humour, but then again it is written by one of its editors and creators so how could it not?

Just a brief side note now.  I find it so strange, after recent talk on the Facebook group about it, how Computer & Video Games magazine apparently raved about the Oink! computer game so much back in the day.  There's a little panel in this issue about their review where they gave it 9/10 for graphics, 8/10 for sound and full marks for value and playability.  Maybe we're too close to the subject matter but the general consensus amongst us was that it was a fun game but ultimately too basic and disappointed us as it had really nothing to do with the comic.  But there you go.  If you're interested in trying it out it's available for Commodore 64/128, Amstrad CPC and Sinclair Spectrum computers on cassette and disk (where available) on various retro sites and eBay if you've got one of those systems at home.  I've also covered it before - as well as the special edition of Oink! created for it - right here.

Back to the rest of the issue and I'm going to round it off with two great examples of that Oink! sense of humour I mentioned above.  The three-panel strips from this comic would make a great digital collection of quick-fire laughs in a very spontaneous-feeling assortment of jokes and randomness.  Take these two as examples.  First up Roger Rental - he's completely Mental! written by Howard Osborn and drawn as ever by Ian Knox and followed by Tarzipan of the Apes from Davy Francis:



Great to see Tarzipan becoming a possible semi-regular, having appeared two issues ago in #32 where I assumed he was simply a one-off.  Here's hoping he makes more appearances if the first two strips of his are anything to go by.

Well folks that's us for this issue.  It's been a pleasure as always, only moreso this time around.  Oink! is my favourite comic (hence the blog in the first place) but now and again you just get an issue which places itself firmly into your top issues list and this is certainly one of them.  Most of the memories of Oink! I still have in the recesses of my brain come from the latter half of 1987, the fortnightly issues in these coming six months just seem to have stuck with me all the way through my life, especially those from #36 onwards.  But we'll chat about that when the time comes as Oink! underwent a change with that issue which you'll see in four weeks.  But anyway it was a nice surprise to come across an issue with so many fond memories and a new addition to that favourites list, even before those ones I hold so dear come along.  A nice surprise.

As mentioned before expect more blog updates between issues and then the next one will be on sale on Friday 22nd August.

Monday, 4 August 2014

PREPARING TO BRING HOME THE BACON


The man above surrounded by original Oink! artwork is IPC Magazine's Youth Group managing director John Sanders.  Oink! was a big, big deal to IPC who saw the comics industry in decline even back in the mid-80s.  This just goes to prove wrong those who say today's sales figures are the fault of the talented cartoonists and writers who work on them at present.  Even back in the days of fashion faux pas and chatty sarcastic cars, television was seen as direct competition and traditional comics were already beginning to suffer as a result.

As covered in some of the very earliest posts on the blog, for example the Special Preview Issue, Oink! was certainly different from the outset - this was its whole raison d'ĂȘtre after all and it's clear now this wasn't just from Tony, Mark and Patrick's points of view either.  IPC saw the potential to reinvigorate the comics market with a fresh title that could possibly reach out to those kids who saw comics as simply too dated at the time.

As John said at the time, "Up until now publishers have relied on the custard pie variety of humour, which I feel has not sufficiently recognised the fact that children are exposed to a great deal more today.  Their humour is a lot more sophisticated than it was 25 years ago.  It is a lot more outrageous and the butt of their humour has changed."

(The best example of the juxtaposition between Oink! and the other comics of the day can be best seen in the comic's own Tom's Toe strips which appeared infrequently and were a direct jab at the more traditional titles.  However they were drawn by John Geering, one of the most frequent and respected artists for those other titles, so it's a hilarious comparison!  Click here to see the ones featured on the blog.)

The quote above is from an article in the retail industry's Consumer Trend Magazine from 21st March 1986 and you can read the full article and the insights of Lew Stringer on the launch in this post on his Blimey! It's Another Blog About Comics blog.

So thanks to Lew for sharing this fascinating look into the launch of our favourite title and if you've got a list of blogs to follow make sure you add this for his insights into many varied comics, as well as Lew's own Lew Stringer Comics blog for articles on his own superb work.

Just to finish off, if you're serious about collecting everything Oink! related and that includes not only the free preview issue but also the actual issues of the comics it came with, here's what you're looking for Buster-wise.  (No, I've not yet so this is a grab from an eBay auction, but one day I probably will.  Even though I don't need to, I know myself too well.):

Friday, 1 August 2014

THE FUTURE'S BRIGHT, THE FUTURE'S PINK


I've decided to change up the blog a bit.

The original plan was always to keep this going until those final issues had been covered, with the blog running roughly the same length of time as the comic itself, then it'd be retired too and kept as an online resource of the best comic in history.  However while keeping within that setup the 'News' section doesn't make sense, I mean if the blog is to stop why clog it up with news items which will be out-of-date after the blog stops updating?  But as the blog has continued it's grown into something more than I'd originally planned.

There's scope to cover happenings with the characters and creators (e.g. new Psycho Gran comic from David Leach, Lew Stringer's eBay auctions etc.), a mass of great inside info popping up all the time from the team behind the comic, the separate series of scans such as the posters, StreetHogs and the like, as well as other ideas which keep popping up that I want to cover but they never fitted into the design of the blog, i.e. they weren't individual issues, news, updates etc.  But recently I've thought by not including them, by organising the blog so much into strict categories, I'm kind of being very un-Oink!-like with my blog.

I'm a huge fan of other blogs such as George Spiers' Wacky Comics and Lew's Blimey! It's Another Blog About Comics and like the fact they're always finding new topics to cover and new ways of looking at things - their blogs cover a huge variety of posts which you can't simply categorise into two or three menus.  Oink!, while it had to be expertly organised and designed, had the feeling to us readers of being completely random - you didn't know what to expect from one issue to the next, from the included strips, to the size of them, to their order inside the pages etc.

So I've been inspired.

The Oink! Blog isn't going to come to an end in 2015.  There may not be any more 'new' regular issues to cover at that stage but that doesn't mean there's not plenty to cover in the world of Oink! and everything that surrounds it.  So starting very soon there'll be no more 'News' section - these stories will still be covered but in regular posts which you'll see filling up the gaps between issues.  I've got loads of ideas and I've been restricting myself, so it's time to let the pigs out of the pig pen and unleash the second phase of The Oink! Blog, largely thanks to all the fantastic feedback and support I've received from you all!

So thank you everyone!

First up though, next week I'll be doing a lot of prep work and sorting some things out behind-the-scenes (like the mess of labels) and updating previous issues with some great info from the creators.  I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the re-creation of the blog after that, with not only the fortnightly issue updates (don't worry, that aspect won't be changing, it's the whole original premise after all) but also expanding it into a more blog-like experience, more personal and more varied - which hopefully will go down well and guarantee a future for it...

... because I LOVE doing this thing!