Friday, 27 March 2015

#56: READ THIS - OR ELSE!


This has probably been the easiest selection of highlights to choose since I started this blog.  Each issue I usually struggle with too many strips, pages, Madvertisements etc. to include and there's usually some classic gag left in the comic for you to discover for yourselves if or when you get a hold of any of the issues.  But this week it's different.

Last time I included part one of Hieronymous Van Hellsong's prequel tale so obviously he's back this time around.  Tom Thug is not only the cover star of another brill Lew Stringer piece this issue but I obviously had to include the third and final part of his Crude Crew tale.  Then there's the return - finally - of one of my very favourite comics characters of all time on the back page, the one-and-only Hadrian Vile.

That's not to say any one of these pages wouldn't have been included anyway but it certainly made the selection process a lot less time consuming!  As for what else I've chosen, when you see them you'll see why.

So yes, back to that darkly comic hero from Jeremy Banx.

As I hinted at before I can remember this part of the strip vividly and the profound effect it had on me as a child.  Have a read of it first:


Black humour was just something we'd never read at our age and taking this strip into such territory was a brave move.  Or actually perhaps it wasn't brave at all.  Maybe instead it showed just how much Banx and the editors knew their audience, knew they could not only get away with such dark humour but that we'd love it!  Oink! never talked down to its audience.  In fact none of the comics of my childhood did, they treated us all with intelligence and the creators simply wrote what they knew they'd enjoy themselves - while obviously making sure it was suitable for a young readership.

Having our hero kill himself so he could go to hell and all as part of his job - what a concept for a humour weekly to bring us.  I'm not reading ahead and that just means I'm itching to do so right now!  Must.  Resist.  Must.  Resist.

I know what'll take my mind off it and that's another slice of classic Lew Stringer and the concluding part of Tom Thug and his Crude Crew.  Now we all know Tom's schemes must always fall apart in spectacular fashion and the more violent towards the bully himself the better, naturally.  Also, his dad may be all grown up, married to an incredibly nice lady and sitting comfortable in life, but that doesn't mean his fatherly advice is any better, so I've been looking forward to this finale.

Obviously trying to ensure his son is protected like any father would, he just wanted to help his son in the only way he knew how.  Two weeks ago he told Tom to assemble a gang so they could pick on people together without getting hurt.  That was the theory.  In practice it wasn't ever going to work out quite as easily as that for the teenage torture, which I'm sure you're very glad to hear:


It's an issue of two finals here for Tom.  Not only is it the final part of this story but it's also his final cover for Oink!  He'd reappear on Buster's covers in the years to come but for getting pee'd on by a dog would be his cover curtain call.  Sadly, it's also Lew's final cover for our comic as with only twelve issues to go there'd simply not be the opportunity for him to produce another one for us.  But that's not to say there isn't a whole load of fun to look forward to from the same man.  Just you wait until you see what he produces for the monthlies!

On to the couple of examples of this issue which weren't pre-planned seven days ago and they both come from the same page funnily enough.

Looking back now that we've been treated to eight episodes altogether of Van Hellsong over the course of the weekly issues, maybe I've been a little premature to natter on about how we weren't treated to black humour until that fantastic creation came along.  After all, Haldane had been treating us to jokes about medieval torture for a long time now!:


The Torture Twins, however, are less of the black humour genre and more of the ludicrous variety of course.  Perfectly summing up what Oink! could get away with that other comics couldn't, these brothers took what was basically maiming to comedy heights and presented it in a way which kids found hilarious.  I mean come on, could you imagine the furore if The Beano or Whizzer and Chips had a strip making light of decapitation?

If you're going to have such a working environment you may as well enjoy it.  Who's to say (apart from probably every historian ever) that such characters didn't exist in medieval times.  Lightening the mood in a grim working environment works even to this day after all.  So maybe Oink! was being educational after all.

Being educational is the very reason behind the next half-page too, when we children were to be educated about none other than William Shakespig, the greatest playwright who ever lived.  Steve Gibson provides the portrait but the lesson's teacher is currently unknown.  The target audience (but not the whole audience) were a few years away from being introduced to his plays in grammar school and it was Oink!'s job to enlighten us.  How do you think it did?:


Before we march to the back page and the new-look content for Harian, we've just time for a moving war story of sad memories and lost comrades.  Just recently added to the line-up of talent Kev F Sutherland takes us down memory lane to the trenches, the mud, the blood, the terror and the touching story of those who fought for us all.

As told through the eyes of Dead Fred and his zombie pal:


Wilkie's art style is perfect for Dead Fred as we all know by now, but in particular this story shows his range and how his work could cross genres with ease.  We've the comedy zombies at the top and bottom of the page, but in-between the battleground panels wouldn't look out of place in a top action or military comic.

This blending really makes this strip stand out for me and heightens Kev's already funny strip to a completely new level.  This is a humour comic and we know a joke is coming, but the use of this kind of art - serious, foreboding and adult - makes that punchline all the more funny.  A brilliant strip and one of my favourites.

Now, finally, after being missing in action for far too long (okay, just a number of weeks but his absence has been felt) we're all set for the return of none other than The Sekret Diary ov Hadrian Vile Aged 8 5/8 Years.

Oh wait, hang on.

But it's not.

Yes Hadrian is back as promised, but his diary is nowhere to be seen.  Instead it appears the back pages of Oink! over the next few weeks will see the pint-sized intelekual take us through his guide to television instead.  I do remember this series but what I'd forgotten was it being a replacement for the diary we'd all grown to love so much.  Ian Jackson's artwork is still present and correct, as are Mark Rodger's wonderfully inventive scripts and spelling, but I miss the insight into him and his family's life.

Don't get me wrong, these Vidiots pieces are great fun, but they're no substitute for a proper strip featuring this most wonderful of characters.  The diary was always guaranteed to be one of the main highlights of each and every issue and it'd only become better and better as it went along.  Unfortunately Hadrian's diary was already now consigned to history, but I could've sworn he himself was in the comic right the way through to the very end.  But, heartbreakingly, apart from the occasional page in a special these back pages would be the last we'd see of Master Vile in the regular comic.  We do have a really rather good special coming up though and just for old times sake (and also because it's guaranteed to be a highlight as I said) Hadrian's holiday photo album will be scanned in.

Such a shame though.  So soak up this and the following weeks' pages as much as you possibly can, folks.  It's the end of an era but he's going out on a high with a special treat - a selection of his very own Interleckshual Guides to Television.  First up it's the news:


It's been a rather bittersweet issue, but only because of the hindsight of knowing we've just twelve regular issues remaining.  The last Lew cover, the beginning of the last run for Hadrian and the realisation his diary has also ended.  It all means that, while this issue has been a great laugh, as an adult looking back now it really does feel like the beginning of the end.  Of course this simply wasn't known at the time and we'd have assumed there'd be many more of all of these things to come, but alas it wasn't to be.

UPDATE:  Hmm.... click here Hadrian fans!

Chin up though as next week is another, erm, week.  But not only will you see one of my very favourite covers of the whole run (another from Banx as it happens), but over the Easter weekend look out for an extra something.  I've mentioned it above, so come back again after #57 for an extra dollop of Oink! with the second Holiday Special on Easter Monday.

Until then, mind your rind!

Friday, 20 March 2015

#55: STRIPPED BACK (BACON) HUMOUR


It's always something special when we get a Banx cover, call it a personal thing since my first was a creation of his.  Here we welcome back the late Hieronymous Van Hellsong to the pages of Oink! with a special prequel mini-series running over six weeks just like his first appearance.  If you haven't read it yet head back to #45 and start there.  Well worth the effort.

Inside our esteemed editor Uncle Pigg is getting somewhat emotional on the Grunts page about the character's return:


Can you blame him after seeing our hero made into sausage links at the drop of a hat and providing a quick getaway for none other than the villain we all loved to hate (and be creeped out by) Jimmy 'The Cleaver' Smith?  But that didn't stop Jeremy Banx after the first mini-series proved a success with the readers.

While Oink! has proven itself with the older markets too, as a child I was transfixed by the dark humour, the bleak settings and the return of Smith to the pages of the comic.  He may not be in this prequel story but it's no less enjoyable so make sure you come back every Friday for the next five weeks to see how this one pans out.  Given Banx's imagination, goodness knows how that panning is going to go for us:


Well actually I do remember some details of where this story takes us and from this first part you'd never be able to guess just how it develops.  Even in part two it takes us somewhere you never thought you'd see in a kid's comic and it captured my 10-year old imagination all over again.  Look forward to it folks, you really should!  I don't want to say too much even though I do usually share such memories even before things turn up, but in this instance I'll leave those thoughts until you've read at least next week's instalment.

Now in these days of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. it's easy to see what your comic heroes (those creators whose work you love so much) look like.  Back in the 80s all we usually had to go on was a signature and our imagination, or now and again a little self portrait.  These were few and far between and would normally be realistic in a way, while keeping within the style of that artist.  They were usually close enough to the real person that we could get a good idea of what they actually looked like.

Lew Stringer had other ideas though when it came to showing us the man behind the pimple and the thug:


UPDATE: Lew has now told us that the little arrow was a joke on the part of the Oink! editorial team!

This was a particularly fun time for the Pete and his Pimple strip with the suggestions from the readers now coming almost on a weekly basis.  This is definitely one of my favourite of Lew's answers to their ideas and there are many, many more to come through the rest of the run!

But I've already mentioned the thug, Tom Thug, and this issue continues the story of his father's idea of assembling a gang.  Tom would always come a cropper in his attempts at bullying others, the amount of broken bones alone would be far too many for him to even count.  Enrolling his first gang member didn't exactly go smoothly last week but here he assembles the rest of his Crude Crew and gets ready for making some bovver.

When turning the page to this strip the first thing that catches your attention is the large panel with the gang assembled, so it looks like he's finally done it.  Are things going Tom's way?  Of course not. That'd go somewhat against the whole idea of the character!  Here's part two and look out for the climax in just seven days:


Elsewhere in this issue you'll find The Slugs continuing their enjoyable tour of America, Burp coming to terms with his artery, Terry, having his annual all-singing blood bath, The Swinelight Zone returns under the stewardship of Charlie BrookerFrank Sidebottom reviews a Queen album (not a new album mind you, but that's because he had to pay his mum an extra £8 for breakages around the house which he's adamant weren't his fault but were the actions of a poltergeist, so he just reviewed an album he had lying around) and the cut-out mask series finishes with none other than Uncle Pigg himself.

It's also a wonderful issue for the one-offs too!  For example Dave Jones makes a welcome comeback with The Kingdom of Trump and the phenomenally talented Dave Huxley brings us his The Statue of Piggery poster.  That latter example is worth the price of admission alone and it's been a tough choice to leave it out, remember I can only include so much from each issue.  But when a simple quarter-page, single-panel strip makes me laugh even more it just has to be included instead:


I'm so glad Haldane's Zootown has been and continues to be a permanent fixture of the comic.  There are others which I thought we'd get to enjoy all the way through to the final issues but which have fallen by the wayside.  Thankfully that's not the case with these wonderfully crafted mini-strips, even if their fellow Hugo the Hungry Hippo and Rubbish Man Haldane creations have disappeared.  But fear not, I can smell a rancid odour from the forthcoming "big, fat" monthlies...!  Happy days!

Just as a side note before moving on, there's one multi-part story finishing this issue which I just haven't been a fan of.  Billy the Pig seemed like a good idea to begin with, a riff on the famous gunslinger but the piggy makeover just hasn't hit the spot with me as an adult.  I do remember enjoying the pig-flavoured Western as a child but now it just reads as any regular cowboy story but with pigs and butcher-esque villains inserted.  What I mean by that is it doesn't seem to contain anything in the way of jokes, but as a kid I did enjoy the story I have to say.

I may not have let an actual noise out, but inside I definitely had a little cheer to myself when page 22 of this issue revealed itself in the form of a full-page Weedy Willy strip.  At last!

Always drawn by the perfect man for the job, Mike Green, he's been written by a variety of contributors over the last couple of years.  Everyone from editor Mark Rodgers to pun maestro Graham Exton have taken their turn, but this time he's been finely crafted by Keith Forrest.

Willy became one of the three Oink! representatives who'd move on to Buster eventually but he's been missing from many of the issues for a while now.  When he has appeared over the past few months he's mainly been in shorter strips so this is a fine return to form for the squeaky-voiced (as I'm sure a previous strip mentioned, or it may just be how I read them) weakling:


A fine finish for this week's post and next week we can finally welcome back to the pages of Oink! one of my very favourite comic characters of all time.  Hadrian Vile comes back to Oink! in just seven days but not in the form you'd expect.  Will it be for the better or for the worse?  You'll have to come back too in order to find out, but I can promise you he'll definitely be included.

Have a great weekend folks.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

BEETHOVEN: DEAFENINGLY FUNNY

Just a few days ago an anonymous reader of the blog left a comment on #29's post.  Researching how classical composer Beethoven is portrayed in comics they'd found evidence of him appearing in that second musically-themed issue of Oink!  But I'd only gone and left out that particular strip, hadn't I?

Well, whoever-you-are, here's the strip as requested as drawn by Weedy Willy's regular artist Mike Green.  Enjoy!:


Also over the past week another anonymous reader (c'mon folks, stop being so mysterious we're all pig pals together here) left a request on #22's post.  I'm still looking for a mention of your band in a Harry the Head strip, or any strip for that matter, but there's nothing so far out of the first 35 issues, first Holiday Special or the preview edition.  But I'm not giving up!  In the meantime if any other readers can remember a guest appearance by The Primebeats let us know which issue they appeared in and I'll get it scanned in and up on the blog.

Thanks for reading folks, glad you're enjoying the site and taking part.

If any other readers have a particular memory or strip they'd like to see just give me a shout in any comments section, or on the Facebook group page or the Oink! Twitter hashtag (links on the left).

(No piggy prices for all comments published.)

Monday, 16 March 2015

BUSTER AND WHIZZER & CHIPS: SHARING THE LOVE


I'm a bit early to be covering the merge you're thinking?  Well no I'm not, but these two issues of Oink!'s sister publications are worth hunting down to complete your collection of prime porky products.

With Oink! now weekly and the publishers wanting to increase that target audience demographic of younger readers, a bit of crossover promotion was called for.  Originally aimed at the same age group as those two comics above, but at those with a different and more modern sense of humour, Oink! had grown beyond this and had become a hit with young adults and students too.  Part of this was down to the fact it never spoke down to the kids and so those older readers could also sit back and enjoy the universal humour. Selling roughly 100,000 per fortnightly issue was a great success but when Fleetway took over and divided its comics into groups it was the combined group sales which were taken into account instead of individual titles.

Buster and Whizzer and Chips were placed in one group with other titles selling roughly the same amount (200,000 + and this was per week, not every two weeks like Oink!) and Oink! was placed in a different group, even though it was selling much more than its new group mates.  When the others were cancelled however Oink! was saved.  Fleetway saw potential and decided to shift it to a weekly format and try to grow that original target audience.

I've discussed at length how it attempted this with the changes made in the weeklies and now they were letting Oink! supremo Lew Stringer loose with two of the comic's most popular characters to promote it in the above titles.  Pete and his Pimple and Tom Thug were among reader's most cherished regular stars and so they were deemed perfect to nip across to these other two Fleetway comics to try to bring back some new, younger readers.

However, to read these strips I'm merely going to point you in the right direction instead of scanning them in myself.  The reason is simple, Lew has covered both of these strips in separate posts on his own Blimey! blog and I'd simply be quoting him anyway and filling the gaps in-between with my own less eloquent wording.  So let's cut out the middle man and get right to the nitty-gritty and let Lew talk you through the creation of these two wonderful half-page strips featuring Oink! and Buster/Whizzer and Chips characters alike, side-by-side:



With the two comics coming out at slightly different times I've chosen this date to share them with you, kind of a midway meeting point of their respective 27 year anniversaries.

However, technically this wasn't the first time an Oink! character had appeared alongside those from these two comics.

In the Whizzer and Chips issue dated Monday 3rd May 1986 the front cover contained a very unique strip.  Not only can multiple characters be seen in one story (even Buster himself making a guest appearance) but a new character has joined them from elsewhere!  Well, for the most part he's joined them anyway...:


Only the previous week Whizzer and Chips had come in a plastic bag with a pink pig on the front and the bigger, shinier preview issue of the new comic that was Oink! was included inside free of charge.  Now Uncle Pigg himself had also made a partial guest appearance alongside not only stars of this comic, but also the the character who he'd eventually send off three of his stars to join towards the end of 1988.

Oink!'s launch must've been an exciting time!

Friday, 13 March 2015

#54: THE AWARD GOES TO...


All true quotes too.  Oink!'s reputation and strong sales had spread into the wider press and while most (if not all) of these soundbites covered Oink!'s fortnightly guise it's still great to see how well it'd made an impact beyond its audience.  Ian Jackson's artwork is as always superb but beyond that the cover shows confidence from the editorial team in their creation.  Showing off all of these by splashing them across the cover like this you'd never have thought Oink! was in its final year.

Part of that surprising end, the next stage in that ultimately tragic tale can be found on page four of this very issue.  As regular readers will know from the posts for #35 and #45 the publishers had altered Oink! a couple of times by now in an attempt to increase its already impressive sales figures to the same levels as their longer-running titles.  It'd been aimed at a particular audience but had appealed to a far wider one, so by rejigging it slightly they hoped more of that target audience would come on board to increase the overall readership.

I'll assume (for now) this wasn't the success they'd hoped it would be.  I'm not saying the figures were plummeting, nothing like that and in fact the comic has made a point of stating recently how 'plop'ular it actually still was, but the readership still seemed to be very mixed, at least according to Uncle Pigg himself back in #51.  Surely that's a good thing?  A much wider target to reach out to?  But the biggest change to happen to Oink! in its entire lifetime could've been a result of this and is coming up in just nine issues.  Below is the seed to what can only be described as a complete relaunch:


A readership survey is one thing, but when you read over the questions the team would get very little info from this for it taking over a whole page.  In hindsight it's really all about that final caption from the plop in the corner.  With no actual space to actually tell Uncle Pigg if we wanted it to continue as a weekly or a monthly, was this little more than an early warning system of what was already planned?

But again, with that wonderful gift of hindsight I'm looking forward to that relaunch a lot more than I did as a kid.  You'll see why soon enough.

In the meantime the weeklies may be very quick reads but what's there is still quality, with more laughs like the comic's thicker stablemates and one new addition has come from long-time contributor Ed McHenry.  There was something I particularly loved about Ed's artwork though it's quite hard to describe.  There just feels like there's so much love put into every panel, with a unique inking style and so many lovely details packed into every one.  His work partly reminds me of the more traditional comics (particularly the additional person in the last panel below) crossed with Oink!'s more inventive style, while not being too dissimilar to a Cosgrove Hall cartoon.

Told you it was hard to describe.

What's not hard to put into words is how much I've enjoyed all of his contributions to the comic so far and how Igor and the Doctor brought another classic character to the pages of my favourite comic:


One contributor who really benefitted from the relaunched Oink! yet to come was Lew Stringer.  You can look forward to more Pigswilla, multi-page Pete and his Pimple epics and more than one Tom Thug strip per issue, all on glossy, bright paper that positively shines!  Looking forward to that?  Of course you are, who wouldn't?

For now though how about a new multi-part tale from the most prolific cartoonist of my own youth?  One thing Tom Thug had never thought of up to this point was assembling a gang.  When you think about it that may have been something any other thug would've thought of many moons ago, after all most real-life bullies are only tough when surrounded by other similar brainless chimps picking on one much smaller person at a time.  We've all met them.

But this is Tom.  He gives new meaning to the term 'brainless chimp', but he's clicked and a little fatherly advice finally seems like it could go a long way.  Should we all have been quaking in our boots walking down the streets of Oinktown?  No, not all all:


You should look forward to the next couple of weeks as this means you've got guaranteed Thug coming your way every Friday for a while!

You should also look forward to next week's issue for another very good reason, the return of Hieronymous Van Hellsong, the butcher hunter so cruelly ended by none other than Jimmy 'The Cleaver' Smith at the end of his first mini-series story which ran from issue #45 for six glorious weeks.  But after being turned into a handy string (literally) for the maniacal murderer to swing to his escape with how can our short-lived hero be back?  Why, with that favourite literary tool the prequel of course.  Join me next week for part one of Jeremy Banx's latest - you won't be disappointed.

Nor are we ever disappointed with the strips from Charlie Brooker.  Like many of my favourite characters I'm surprised Freddie Flop He Falls to Pieces wasn't actually in every single issue after being introduced, so it's a nice surprise to see him pop back together just long enough to join us here.  Even better, this one isn't just drawn by Charlie, it's also written by one of my all-time favourite members of the Oink! team Davy Francis.  What's not to love:


Now do you remember when characters and stories found it difficult to translate themselves from comics and cartoons to big Hollywood movies?  For me they're much more successful nowadays, it's not like they're all a success but opinions are subjective as we all know.  Personally, while it was a financial success and many loved it I was left disappointed by G.I. Joe and while I loved Iron Man the sequel left me cold.  However growing up with Transformers I'm now a huge fan of the movies and many of my other childhood favourites have been updated in a great way.

But Masters of the Universe, that's a different story.  Even as a kid I didn't like it.  Why was so much changed I thought at the time, and why was Skeletor very obviously a man with a pile of white make-up on, complete with regular eyes, instead of an actual skeleton with no eyes at all?  Remember that?

If you do, you'll love the latest spoof movie poster from the exceptionally brilliant hands of Simon Thorpe.  This time written by Mark Rodgers too!  Now there's a match made in heaven and it's almost worth that two-hour slog through the actual film all those years ago to appreciate this all the more:


This issue also sees the second appearance of Davy Francis' new Invisible Charlie character, the return of Kid Kidney to the Burp strip, some great GBH Madvertisements for a Pile-O-Fax and Armed Robbery (seriously) and even another Mary Lighthouse strip!  Brilliant!

The only thing missing is a certain obnoxious boy.  But not for long, promise.

So don't you dare be missing the random bag of treats that is #55 next week, especially when the aforementioned Van Hellsong brings with him his own Bank-drawn cover!  Worried you'll miss it?  Then you'd better place a regular order with your newsagents hadn't you?  Not only for all those wonderful reasons above, but it appears editor Patrick Gallagher in particular needs you to return:

Friday, 6 March 2015

#53: FIT TO BURST!


This is one of my very favourite covers I remember from Oink!'s 1986 to 1988 run, right up there with #6's fantastic Ian Jackson animal cover.  I don't think it takes much explaining as to why I love this one so much though, what with it being a Lew Stringer creation containing fan favourite Pete and his Pimple and, of course, the great use of that iconic logo!  It's certainly memorable!

So memorable in fact that a year or so ago a mobile phone app blatantly copied the artwork for their logo, which didn't go unnoticed by Lew.

The issue itself stands up just as well inside too.  No Slugs to start off on page 3, or anywhere else for that matter, but that's a good thing.  Not because I don't like them, but it shows the comic is keeping its contents random and with so many characters to fall back on each and every issue was a treasure trove of mysterious content at this point.

Saying that, let's start off with a fella who has been popping up a few times on the blog recently:


For being the Grim Reaper, El Muerte, The Fourth Horseman, He Who Rides the Pale Horse and Cronus he was an awfully lovable chap, wasn't he?  You can probably tell at this point in the run he's become something of a new favourite of mine and I hope he continues right the way through the monthlies.  (If you know whether he does or not, please no spoilers!  I'm enjoying discovering how the comic evolved through its final year as I go along here.)

But I've gone on (and on) enough about the skeleton in a cloak and his creator Charlie Brooker recently so we'll just move on this time to see what else I've picked out of this issue.

It's probably just as well I didn't waffle much there as our next page has enough for you to read on its own, never mind me on top of it all.  I hope by putting this up on the blog we can find out together who wrote this next witty spoof, if any of the Oink! team can let us know.  The drawing is by veteran Oink!/Viz artist Simon Thorpe and the only thing letting this page down is that there's not enough room for more of it.

The comic's reputation for spoofing was second-to-none and the few text stories it put out were always enjoyable.  It wasn't something comics did at the time so Oink! was always spoofing another genre such as classic serial comics, romantic women's magazines or in this case James Bond creator Ian Fleming's novel Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:


In this same year other comics would come along with text stories among the strips, such as The Real Ghostbusters and Thundercats, bringing the format back to the kids of the day.  I like to think (probably erroneously but I don't care) Oink! led the way, even if it was by spoofing them.  Who knows, maybe it showed editors shouldn't be scared of trusting their younger audience to have bigger attention spans than they were usually given credit for.

Something that's very rare these days and sorely missed are the Uncle Pigg strips, with our own editor now only really seen in Grunts each issue and maybe the very occasional special page.  His and critic Mary Lighthouse's battles were always highlights of the earlier issues so it's a lovely surprise to see them back together here, though only for a couple of panels:


In fact Uncle Pigg may only get a regular appearance on the letters page at this stage, but that's more than poor Mary was getting.  A rare drawing of her alongside him on said page was about all we got, but with the expansion to the bigger, thicker monthlies fast approaching you never know...

Not forgetting our second of four Holiday Specials soon too!  Just sayin'.

Anyway, it's a small delight from Kev F and Ian Jackson but a delight nonetheless to see them in a strip again and on the same page there's another few classic quick gags too.  The issue itself has some really high quality smaller strips plastered all over it, with Wally of the West, Doctor Mooney He's Completely Looney, Igor and the Doctor, Torture Twins, Greedy Gorb and Brian Luck all being on top form!  Even GBH get in on the act.

Someone who used to have whole pages to himself but who I personally think is at his height (well, not in person, obviously) with a smaller strip is Marc Riley's popular Harry the Head, with the one-gag format really suiting the character.  Mark Rodgers has been writing them in the weeklies so far with Marc carrying on with the drawing of his creation - who else could?  Harry's unique physique lends itself to these quarter-page jokes and they feel fresh and new, giving him a brand new lease of life.

I've also scanned in the strip just above Harry from that Mr Brooker.  Couldn't let this one go:


Something that passed me by when reading this issue, but has now just hit me after looking at Harry the Head strip again when placing him onto this page, is that drawing of him 'in' bed.  What on earth does he have bedsheets for?  Hahaa!  Anyway, moving on to our last scan for this week.

I mentioned above GBH got in on the small strip classics this issue but they've also got their usual full-page Madvertisement too.  This issue they're hocking an absolutely splendid holiday to us.  Naturally when I say that I mean the exact opposite, as per usual with these gangsters.  So far in the run artiste extraordinaire Simon Thorpe has been just that, an extraordinary artist.  He's lent his hand to some superb spreads in the comic as well as the more traditional comic strip work.  But here he's also written the script for this holiday brochure for the honestly-named (for once!) Outlet-By-The-Sea:


I'll freely admit this blog can be hard work at times.  Oink! is by far my favourite comic, I wouldn't be doing this blog if it wasn't, but when I started I never knew how much time it'd take up and how much real effort it'd take to keep it going.  It's hugely rewarding and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and I'm grateful to each and every one of you for reading it, believe me.

Sometimes though, even back in the fortnightlies I'd struggle coming up with enough writing now and again, afraid of repeating myself too much, or of waffling to fill space or simply of being boring and not doing justice to these marvellous pieces of work.  On those rare occasions I'd worry I'd break one of these three rules, but I'd always battle through and I'm very proud of what I've been doing for nearly two years now.  When the weeklies started I knew if one of those creative blanks came along I wouldn't have the luxury of writing a bit, then taking a break for a few days and coming back refreshed and solving the problem.  There just wouldn't be the time, especially while I'm also designing what I want from my book and the extra posts I'm putting together for this summer on the blog.

Thankfully I needn't have worried.  These last few issues in particular have seen the blog posts almost write themselves!  I'm not saying I'm phoning them in (as the saying goes), it's still harder work than you might imagine, but the comic has been treating me to such a wide variety of high quality content it's been a no-brainer for what to choose and the writing has been a real pleasure.

I hope it still is for you all too.

See you all next Friday, 13th March.