Saturday, 29 November 2014

#42: NOT BAD, JUST MAD


J.T. Dogg kicks things off in our latest issue with probably one of, if not the most memorable cover out of all sixty-eight issues of the regular comic (surely the most memorable Oink! cover has to be "this year's" annual).  I even braved showing this to a diehard Jacko fan last week and I didn't get lynched - trust me, that says a lot!  Don't just glance at it either, take your time with those lovely details.

All done?  Then inside we go.

Straight to the Mad double-page spread.  Now make sure you've got the tune in your head.  The correct tune too, it took me several attempts to get Billie Jean out of my mind first, but I got there.  You ready?  Drawn again by J.T. Dogg and written by the original-as-always editor Mark Rodgers, it's Michael Jaxham's new smash hit music video:

Sorry it's a photo and not as clear, but my scanner isn't THAT big

I used to listen to Jackson's music quite a lot as a child and would show this to as many people as possible, some getting the jokes more than others.  Back then I just thought it was so amazing that Oink! was taking on someone as huge as he was - a real megastar!  Those pigs had some balls.

Again this issue gives us a half-page advert for the forthcoming weekly issues in the new year and we've also got another Burp strip which starts with some seriously mature wording for a kids comic, all to frame the comic mishaps to follow.  "A Ramjet-Angel rides the thermals of a methane mistral in the loftier layers of the dank uranian atmosphere.  It bellows its mating call to its fiancee on the dark far side of the gaseous giant..."  I wasn't expecting that from a silly piggy comic!  It pained me to leave this one out, especially given its downbeat ending and the strong message its comedy got across, but he's featured so much recently I just had to make room for some of the other brilliant pages this issue had to offer.  When you've got a five-page mega-strip to cover it was a tough choice but one which had to be made!

That mega-strip?  What else but the conclusion of The Spectacles of Doom: Monocle of Mayhem.  Written by Tony Husband and drawn by Andy Roper, part five concludes the tale in a way which you just won't have seen coming.  Honestly.  Well, I suppose it depends how much Monty Python you watch - it's that kind of twist!

We start off with the story going black and white and it's a bit of a disappointment to begin with when you know this is the big conclusion.  But never fear, the simple fact is that there's only so many pages of the comic that could be in colour and with this being so long we had to sacrifice the gorgeous Technicolor for detailed inks.  But only for the first two!  After that we get an explosion of colour to put those Dulux TV adverts set in the grey city to shame.  Not only that but two of three pages make up a superbly detailed poster I spent ages perusing over as a child and, I admit, I did so again this week.  Trust me, the more you look at it the more jokes and funny little details pop right out at you.  Then there's that final full-colour page to round off the past couple of months of adventuring and chaos.

But enough of describing it, enough of the tease.  For the last time (sadly) we're off to the mystical world of... actually, we never did get its name:


(Seriously considering redoing all the photographs of double-page spreads when I get my iPhone at Christmas...)

Do we have any more multi-part comedy epics to come then?  Oh hell yes!  As well as The StreetHogs returning again, but this time all parts taking over one issue of the monthly Oink!, the weekly comic is quite partial to continuous stories, so watch out for them very soon.  That'll give you something to look forward to after the festive season leaves us for another year.

But back to the present and the subject of this issue - fashion.  It can't have been an easy topic to think of content for when you consider who the main target audience was.  Yes it was read by many and varied readers of all ages, but Oink! was a kid's comic.  What do kids care about fashion?  That's the thing - they don't.  So what did the creators do?

They did what they do best, of course.  Take the piss.

Let's start with Ian Knox's memorable Roger Rental, he's Completely Mental, this time written by Cowpat County creator Davy Francis.  (Can you tell?):


A Roger Rental written by Davy, then below that the weekly Oink! ad with Davy's Greedy Gorb drawn by Mark Rodgers?  And I thought #36 was the messed up one!

So after his own mini-comic in the last issue what does a star like Pete Throb do now?  Lew Stringer comes up trumps again, nailing it by not only touching upon the fashion theme, but also how fickle that very idea actually is:


I'm reminded of an episode of my favourite TV show of all time - Knight Rider.  Investigating the disappearance (and eventually, murder) of a fashion model, K.I.T.T. is all rather confused by the concept of the 'new season's' clothing line - "Did last year's clothes not perform their function?"  I'm with the car!  Though if I (ever!) get the chance to actually date someone again I may have to get shopping after the 7th or 8th date...

Or, as this very issue says in the Freda Fashion strip written by Howard Osborn, after a horrible selection of new threads are displayed, "If you don't see these items in the shops later this year, that's because nobody listens to what divvy fashion experts say!  (Except other fashion experts!)"

Told you they'd nailed the fashion brief.

Surely no one screams stardom, setting the trend, fashionista, acting debonair and being cultured more than Frank Sidebottom?:


Even in black and white the amount of time and care evident in Chris Sievey's work (the man normally behind the papier-mâché) is great.  He was such a unique character there was no way a comic could ever have thought him up as a strip cartoon!  He could only have come from somewhere else - the mind of Chris!

Now can you believe it's been a full ten issues since we visited Haldane's land of limitless imagination, also known as Zootown?  I think we should just nip through there for a quickie:


Moving on, when I was young there were just certain things I didn't like to do.  Usually just things I was told to do, to be honest.  But brushing my teeth was one of them.  Told to do it every morning, it was so annoying as it just got in the way of watching Batman on TV-AM.  Don't get me wrong, of course I brushed them, but rarely would I do them at nighttime because I was just lazy or was too busy having fun elsewhere, and in the mornings I rushed through the process to get back to the same bat-channel.

That all changed when I sat down to this issue and read the following strip:


Written by the master of the more lyrical of Oink!'s strips (have a look back under his label if you want to see more) Lew Stringer and drawn by Roger's Ian Knox Trendy Wendy threw me a curveball when I first read it.  Again sitting in my Aunt May's house I was casually enjoying my new comic and this half-page was going down easy just like the preceding twenty-one pages until that very last panel.

It actually hit me quite hard.  From that point on and to this very day I haven't neglected my teeth, brushing twice a day at least (more if garlic and a female are involved, obviously) and on those occasions in between 1987 and the present day where I'd had a hard day and just wanted to slide into bed, that woman above would peek out from my memory.  And yes, I mean before I ever started this blog or began reading Oink! again.  So I guess I should really say thanks to Lew and Ian!

Finally for this issue, do you have a printer?  You'll want one for the next issue that's for sure if you haven't got the second Christmas issue in physical form.  As a precursor how about a fashion doll to cut out and dress up in all sorts of gear?  What could be more innocent for children?

Now add in knives, guns, a bazooka and even a Judge Dredd outfit... and plenty of wrinkles:


It couldn't be simpler, so what are you waiting for?  Master chef David Leach's Psycho Gran makes the perfect dress-up dolly.  Well, for those of us already a bit twisted by this comic anyway!  Have to say though, those costumes would test the patience of many an adult never mind the children trying to cut them out.  I wonder how many parents were tortured to do just that?

Before I sign off for this issue I just want to give you a bit of a heads up.

Christmas is upon us.  Last year that meant a festive logo to the blog a la every single 80s comic I ever collected, but only one blog post - the Christmas issue itself, the classic #17 - and then the site kind of came to a halt for a while when my laptop took a three month nap.  This year is going to be somewhat different.  I've a trove of posts to put up - seven in fact!  Want to know what's coming?  Then tune in on Monday evening when I'll be stepping over boxes upon boxes of Christmas decorations to get to my Mac to tell you all about what's coming up.

And yes, I'll edit the logo.

It's my favourite time of the year and I hope you'll join me for it, as 27 years ago this was a very special Christmas indeed as I received the very best book I ever had as a child.  It's on its way along with other surprises!  Can't wait.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

NEXT ISSUE: NOT FASHIONABLY LATE!

With the last issue being a bit late to the blog, and it being two-posts in length, the next issue is already with us and there's a bumper selection of goodies to come during the festive season!  It's a good time to be a porky pig pal and the next issue's front cover is one of the most fondly remembered of the whole run.  It's by J.T. Dogg and you'll see it tomorrow, but in the meantime here's last issue's tease for it:


Sunday, 23 November 2014

PETE'S PIMPLY PULL-OUT

Please.  That is NOT a euphemism.


At last here it is, the post fans of Pete and his Pimple have been waiting for, when creator Lew Stringer was given a whopping eight pages to run wild with his puss-filled teen, and we certainly lapped it up in all its greasy glory!

Pete was always one of my childhood favourites, even though at the time in 1987 it would be a good few years yet until I myself started down the same route facially.  It didn't stop us identifying with him however and Pete is still one of the most fondly remembered characters from Oink! all these years later.

As you can see it was originally planned that some more occasional Oink! mini comics would appear, but we never got to see any before the final issue the following October.  Such a shame, as I'd have loved to see other creations get this treatment!  But for now we can indulge ourselves with every page of our one-and-only pull-out comic (if you discount the Wildcat preview, naturally) and overdose on crisps, chocolate and chips as we do so.  Oh, only me?

So what makes up these eight pages?  A five-page Pete strip, that's what!  It includes a poster as part of the story but what on earth could Lew have come up with to cover all of that when it revolves around a giant zit?  How about aliens and Pete becoming rather attached to his usually problematic appendage, and after that a problem page (naturally for such a subject!), another classic Ed McHenry Oink! puzzle section and then legendary cartoonist Mike Higgs takes on the spotty one and his family tree for Pete's Acne Ancestors, a page written (naturally) by Lew but based upon an idea by reader Daniel Kettlety who won a very well deserved piggy prize for his imagination.

It feels especially fitting to have Mike illustrate the Ancestors strip, seeing as how Lew was the one who brought him into the Oink! sty, which you can read more about in a previous post (click here) and on Lew's own blog (there's a link to it in that post too).

So folks, enjoy this very special addition to the history of Oink! and remember there's a post already here for the rest of this issue (#41) too:


Great stuff, and with Christmas just around the corner look out for details soon on an extra special month on The Oink! Blog!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

#41: IN SICKNESS AND IN BELCH


Finally moved into the new home and got my Mac all set back up again, so a little late but here's our Health and Sickness issue (similar to #19's so another reuse of a previous subject), complete with Burp's all-over-the-body workout, inside and out!  Seeing Banx's artwork on the cover again is of course extra special since his was the first I ever saw as a child, having created the cover for my inaugural issue, #14.  This issue comes to the blog now in the same week Jeremy has also announced a range of new merchandise based around his seminal character, but more on that soon, right here.

For now, if you've already scrolled down to see what has been included this time around you may have been left feeling this post is a little sparse on the strips front.  Well, you'd be both right and wrong.  Yes, less strips have been picked out of this issue, but as you can see three are double-page spreads so there's still plenty of pages included.  But the real reason is to do with what makes up the middle eight pages of this very issue.

It's not that this edition has less possible highlights than previous issues, not by a long shot, but as mentioned in the last issue's post there's a whole mini-comic dedicated to Pete and his Pimple nestled right inside the middle pages.  This'll be winging its way to you in just a few days, every single page, so once we take that into account I kind of had to reel myself in with the rest of the issue to balance things out.  As much as I want to, I can't be scanning in whole issues!

It may have been a while since we had an Uncle Pigg strip to open the issue, but in this instance Mr. Big Nose and The Torture Twins make a welcome change and then sitting on page 3 is the latest instalment of Baby Vile's introduction to the world in The Sekret Diary ov Hadrian Vile Aged 8 5/8 (years) written by Mark Rodgers and drawn by the only man there could be for the job, Ian Jackson:


Ok so I have to ask, as much as I laughed at its seemingly random inclusion, what on earth is "Ratbay!"?  Growing up in a sleepy little seaside town in Northern Ireland have I missed out on a Manchurian expression I'd have happily used to its fullest as a kid?

I really like the story above, as it rings true in so many ways, just think about the things that babies eat!  Nice to see that innocent-looking baby from our Happy Families issue now outdoing Hadrian in his usual territory of disgustingly gruesome behaviour.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how the next year pans out for them now.  It's certainly off to a very interesting (and entertaining) start!

Sometimes I'm surprised at how often I include some characters.  It's not deliberate, I take each issue as a separate entity.  But I'm quite shocked at how little I've featured the following young lad.  Again, hasn't been deliberate, and sometimes it's definitely been an extremely hard decision to not to, but Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins last featured in strip form in the blog way back in #7 unbelievably!  He's been on a poster in #13's post and was the star of the cover of #21's Valentine's special, but it's about time he appeared again in strip form:


Part of the reason why he hasn't been included much recently is simply down to the fact Tony Husband's creation is usually written in a long serial format, with each story lasting a large number of issues, keeping us smiling for months on end.  Making the length of The Spectacles of Doom epic seem minuscule by comparison it just wasn't possible to include every part and individual issues wouldn't make much sense if included on their own.

It was a delight to finally have one I could include!  Yes it's part of a larger tale of Horace playing for his dream football team but it works brilliantly on its own.  Tony's style works perfectly with the slapstick routine above, and on the printed page it feels like Tony himself has come along and drawn on your very own comic, just for you.  It's hard to explain unless you have the comic in your hands though so you'll just have to go with me on that one.

Or go buy it on eBay.

Speaking of Tony's other writing for this issue, Spectacles hits its penultimate part this issue and it even has time to bring in a refreshing mud bath, as ever from the pen of immensely talented Andy Roper, and so it ends up sitting rather nicely inside this themed issue:


So many nice little details as per usual (check out the monocled skull on the battered flags there) but just wait till you see the next issue!  Five whole pages of Endor and his climactic battle and that superb artwork has to be seen to be believed!  It's a belter alright and if I was to include nothing else you wouldn't feel short-changed - it's THAT good!

After being the cover star, and with me having a soft spot for him as it is, Burp's entry this time round was a must for the blog.

It's a delightfully written and atmospheric two-page tale of our smelly friend taking a well earned break in a way only he could.  Jeremy Banx does it yet again (how does he keep coming up with this stuff?!) and the ending feels like a little of that Mr. Big Nose surrealism has sneaked in.  All for the better of course.  To try to talk about this next strip is nonsensical as it's one of those that just speaks for itself and needs to be read:


To prove my point, now go and try to explain this strip to someone else who hasn't read it.  Try and explain it's humour, its scene-setting and why it's so good.  Impossible, right?  Perfect.

I'd go as far as to say, as a Burp fan, that's my favourite so far.

Ok, so what else is there in this issue if you wish to catch up on it by purchasing it?  Frank Sidebottom explains how to keep fit and healthy through tea drinking, we get the first fact-file on the members of The Slugs, we visit the GBH Health Farm via Vaughan Brunt and Ian Knox and Uncle Pigg strips off in a half-page Newsflash to tell us for the first time Oink! will be going weekly from the new year!  Oh the joy that brought as a child!  But more on that soon...

Now to finish off the very welcome return at last for Oink!'s infamous WHSmith-troubling duo, Janice and John.  If you're new to the blog start back in #7, then use their tag on the left here (under Stuff in the Sty) to follow the story of what happened next.  As you'll have seen on the side panel of that tale the next part in Uncle Pigg's Reading Course was to be Janice and John and the Thermonuclear Reactor.  Well, never one to break a promise, our illustrious editor has finally come good only thirty four issues later with the aid, again, of Tom Johnson:


Now either that 'Next Lesson' line last time was just a joke but then they went ahead with it all this time later as a joke in itself (who could resist bringing them back after the reaction to their first story!), or they'd planned it and possibly finished it, but held it back for obvious reasons.

Either way, the ante has been upped again and I won't be the only one looking forward to that next lesson!

So there we are, a whirlwind guide to #41 and there's more to come.  Much more in fact.  Above you've enjoyed eight pages of strips.  Now imagine that exact same amount but dedicated to one of the comic's most fondly remembered characters and his giant pimple.  Then come back this Sunday where you won't have to imagine it any longer!

That's the Pete and his Pimple Oink! Mini Comic this Sunday 23rd November, with the next full issue (with that superb Michael Jackson cover no pig pal will have been able to forget) on sale right here on Friday 28th.

See you then!

Friday, 14 November 2014

MOVING STY

Yes, you've probably come here today looking for a brand new (well, you know what I mean) issue of the world's greatest comic, but unfortunately I'm currently banging out a sneaky update at work as my broadband has yet to be activated in my new home.  It was due yesterday but alas it's yet to be.  Once it's back up and running the latest addition to the blog will be with you fine folk (and the rest of you, too).