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.