Sunday, 25 December 2016

MORE OINK! BOOK HIGHLIGHTS

MERRY CHRISTMAS PIG PALS!

29 years ago today this cheery face greeted so many of us on Christmas morning and brought with it so many laughs and fond memories it's remained my favourite childhood book of any kind to this day.  More than that though it reads just as well as an adult, not only ageing well but always appealing to readers of all ages, young and old (of which I'm unfortunately in the latter category these days).  I've covered it before across three posts back in 2014 and you can still access them by clicking on the back cover at the bottom (no pun intended) of this post.  But to celebrate the festive season and the very, very best time of the year I decided to delve back in one more time and bring you eight strips to chuckle at while the rest of the family watch the Queen.

There's some characters here we haven't heard from in a long time on the blog and I've deliberately picked out some of those you may have been missing.  So below we've got fan-favourites Roger Rental, He's Completely Mental (written by Mark Rodgers, drawn by Ian Knox), Horace [Ugly Face] Watkins (from Tony Husband), Mr. Big Nose (Banx) and Hugo the Hungry Hippo (Haldane).

Oink! also took the hand out of the traditional comics, but always lovingly so as the team had grown up as fans obviously.  The Oink! Book 1988 had a very funny mini-comic inside called The Deano which lampooned the fact the Beano and Dandy had reached their 50th anniversary milestone.  I included some of these before in the second post from the annual two Christmases ago, but here now is Desperate Old Man by Tony Husband and drawn very authentically by Ed McHenry when compared to the original comic!

We loved our photo stories and spoofs, so below is the Mark Rodgers-scripted At the Library which was the comic's own version of such educational stories that would've been found in much younger children's magazines and comics.  With photos taken by James Gallagher, it was included in another of the annual's pitch-perfect comedy takes on the mini-comic, Fun-hour.

I've also thrown in The Zits from Dave Fellows, a strip which only ever appeared in this book and which I included the first of in the third part of my previous write-up.  Both were by Dave, who only contributed to some early editions of Oink!, so they were possibly meant as regular characters originally.  Perhaps the decision was made not to include them, or perhaps Dave moved on.  Either way, they made for perfect annual-fodder.  Plus, later in the regular comic's run we'd a certain Pete & his Pimple to take on the mantle of spotty favourite.

Finally at the bottom of the post is Ena Blighty's Five Go Adventuring Yet Again.  These strips (written by Mark with the artwork of Chas Sinclair) spoofed how outdated the Famous Five books actually were and this strip in particular hits a great comedic note at the end of 2016!  I'm sure you'll catch my drift given some of the bigger events of the year!

Enjoy folks!









I hope you've a fantastic day and indeed an awesome Christmas altogether!  I'll be back in the New Year and remember you can click on the back cover of this annual below to be taken right back to my original post of highlights.  There, each of the three write-ups are linked together sequentially too.


Have a good one everyone!

Saturday, 24 December 2016

OINK!'S CHRISTMAS CHILDREN'S TALES


Merry Christmas Eve to everyone out there!  I hope you're all as happy and excited about the season as I am.  Already I've swapped presents with one of my best friends as is our tradition, received wonderful birthday gifts and enjoyed some birthday and Christmas lunches, dinners and nights out with some friends and my better half .  I do love this time of year and am looking forward to seeing the family tomorrow.

I don't need to tell you how the Christmas editions of our comics were a big part of that anticipation of the holidays when we were kids, am I right?  It's great to see a festive Beano still out there on the shelves every year and today I've plucked out three pages from the two Christmas Oink!s we enjoyed three decades ago.  Yes, I've already covered them before and you can click on their covers at the bottom of this post to read the highlights, but today I've deliberately chosen three children's stories from them.  After all, it's tradition to have some Christmas-themed, sweet and innocent children's tales this time of year.

Well, forget about it.  Being sweet and innocent was never Oink!'s aim, it set out to be different from the rest and, most importantly, to actually be funny!  It had a habit of sending up the more traditional stories we'd have been reading as youngsters and below are three such examples from writer Mark Rodgers and artist Dave Skillen in Xmas in Toytown which does a superb job of imitating kids' books of the day, Tony Husband and Chas Sinclair with the tale with a bang that is The Woodcutter and finally Personby Claret the Know-it-all Parrot makes his one-and-only (unfortunately) appearance in Short John Slither, a pirate adventure for the holidays from writers G&K (sorry, I have no idea who that is) and Viz artist Steve Gibson lends his skills to make it a one-of-a-kind experience.

Thanks to Patrick Gallagher for the help in identifying those responsible for these pages.



Top two from #17, Personby from #43

That's not quite all from The Oink! Blog for Christmas 2016 though.  Tomorrow there'll be some more highlights from the first annual, The Oink! Book 1988, when I'll post up seven more classics including some from favourite characters who we haven't seen anything from in quite some time on the blog!  So when you're stuffed with stuffing come back, settle down with a Schloer and enjoy a good giggle from the annual you received 29 years ago!

In the meantime here's those two issues you can read all about from their previous blog posts:


Saturday, 17 December 2016

DEREK THE TROLL: NEW LEW STRINGER COMIC!

Buy a copy or Angel Tom Thug will duff yer up!

What a brilliant stocking filler this could be for the Oink! fan in your life.  Or indeed for yourself!  Lew Stringer is synonymous with the piggy publication thanks to his creations Pete & his Pimple, Tom Thug and Pigswilla amongst a multitude of semi-regulars and one-off strips, as well as writing the scripts for none other than Ham Dare, Pig of the Future.  But as a child he was literally everywhere for a lot of us.  So much so it was strange to come across a comic his work didn't appear in as far as this pig pal is concerned.

Transformers, Action Force, The Real Ghostbusters, Secret Wars... just a few of the titles I'd pick up and find a familiar cartoonist's work inside, though my first exposure was obviously Oink!  But here's a 1980s character I wasn't aware of until this year.  Derek the Troll was created for role-playing magazine Warlock before coasting across to White Dwarf when the former title folded.  Now White Dwarf I've heard of and I know it's a huge deal to the likes of Dungeons & Dragons and Warhammer players, but none of that is for me and so this was one of Lew's creations that passed me by.  If you're the same as me never fear, for a wonderful reprint comic has just hit the 'net:

The comic begins with a
never-before-published strip

Trolls are a breed of character in these games which are generally overlooked, grunts in the bigger battles and cannon fodder for the enemy.  But here one takes centre stage as a "likeable troll with obnoxious habits" to quote Lew himself, which sounds like a perfect character for Oink! fans to get behind, doesn't it?  He certainly is and the strips are highly imaginative given the almost limitless scope of the tabletop games universes he's meant to be set in.  Expect groan-worthy puns, plenty of spoofs of the other character types, another of Lew's rhyming strips we liked so much previously on this blog and a cheeky and very funny dig at the White Dwarf readers who wrote in to say they didn't like his inclusion after the cancellation of Warlock.

Originally created for a reader competition for the original magazine, the editors thought he'd make for a great regular character instead.  The first strip which appeared was a half-page story but the original one submitted by Lew was a full page and this is included here for the first time in print alongside the published version and the whole of the nine-issue run.  Also here is a strip created especially for the You are the Hero book in 2013.  My personal favourite?  The one based around those "choose your own ending" adventure books is a brilliant take on those interactive novels with some hilarious consequences for Derek!

But that's not all.

Just as with this year's Brickman Returns comic there's a load of backup material, this time in the form of Rock Solid, an egotistical, self-centred space hero whose ego is a lot more evident than any actual talent.  Lew does explain in this comic how Rock was difficult to write as he was deliberately created to be unlikeable, yet the readers had to enjoy the strip and want to see more.  Lew does a brilliant job of this and handles this balance perfectly.  In the strip below Earth is being invaded by the evil Grots and they've called for help but this was answered by the one person they didn't want, Rock Solid.  This final page of the three-page opener begins after Rock has kicked a military commander out of his way (that's him falling out of the window in the first panel) so he can take centre stage:

Rock Solid, another of Lew's creations I
hadn't read until now

Rock was created for independent comic Swift Sure and all five three-page strips are present here.  It's a fun adventure and a shame he never returned but it's great to discover lost gems like this and it's limited run makes it all the more unique for us now.  Definitely worth it for the enemy leader alone, the gross Lucas Mucus!  A complete contrast to Derek but a perfect fit nevertheless for this fun Lew Stringer comic.

Rounding off the package are two half-page Combat Colin strips (yey!) from the pages of Marvel UK's Transformers, a comic I grew up with and had the pleasure in recent years of collecting and reading right through.  Lew does mention here he'll be collecting all of Colin's adventures from the 80s and early 90s together into an ongoing series of comics in 2017 and that news is just the best way to finish this off for me!:

Now there's a new comic series that'll be simply unmissable!

There you have it folks, don't let this brilliant title slip you by, click here to go to Lew's shop and order up your issue for a measly £3.50.  A bargain no doubt and one any Oink! fan will just love.  Get going folks, you've a comic to buy!

Back here on The Oink! Blog I'll be back on the morning of Christmas Eve (which is this Saturday!) with some children's tales... of a sort.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

PSYCHO GRAN #2: SELL YOUR SOUL FOR A COPY

'Ello Duckies!  Can there be any Oink! reader who wasn't a fan of the psychotic-yet-lovable geriatric rouge that was Psycho Gran?  If you're new to the blog please take the time to click on her label on the left there (under Stuff in the Sty) and enjoy a selection of some of her very best mis-adventures.  Back in March 2014 I covered the brilliant news that her creator David Leach (whose birthday is also today, so remember to go on the Oink! Facebook group and wish him well) had decided to bring the little dear back in a brand new comic series.

Well, a mere two-and-a-half years later #2 is finally with us!


That is a long time to wait between issues, that's true but when you consider just how long it takes David to create these magnificently drawn and coloured masterpieces, and that there's a full comic's worth of them, you'll begin to understand.  Always advertised as an occasional series, basically as soon as he can complete it the next issue will be ready, it's a delight to welcome the second issue at last.

Also, remember in the time in between David has put together the equally brilliant Psycho Gran Vs... which I covered here too, as well as working on all the individual strips for digital comic Aces Weekly which are the subject of this issue.  That's right, anyone who subscribes to Aces may be disappointed to know this is a collection of reprints from that weekly title, but for the rest of her fans there's page-after-page of delights here for you, all for a measly amount of money.


Dark delights, though.  Don't be expecting exactly the same tone as her previous comics or her antics in Oink!  This is a much more adult take on 'Gran and you can tell David is relishing the opportunity to take her to places he simply couldn't before.  Psycho Gran suited Oink! perfectly yet was always a little bit more surreal and darkly comic than most of the other characters (with the exception of Jimmy 'The Cleaver' Smith obviously... now there's a mash up fans would adore if David and Jeremy Banx are reading!!) but here the twist endings can sometimes actually shock.  But obviously shock you and make you laugh at the same time!

You're laughing while thinking "I can't believe he's written this!" and you're loving every single minute.


This little dear hates rudeness and on the surface that's no different than any sweet little old lady.  That's the beauty of the character though, as things usually start out innocently and you're just waiting for that panel when you can see the true granny begin to emerge.  Sometimes this can be a sudden joke or a slow build, this latter option definitely being my own personal favourite.  In these you'll either find yourself trying to guess what's coming next, or simply enjoying the darker and darker plot twists with ever widening shocked eyes and roaring laughter.  You soon realise you'll never be able to guess where Mr. Leach's imagination will take you next.

So whether it's a footpath-owning cyclist, moaning train passengers or religious personal space invaders you'll always be pleasantly surprised at the results of their interactions with Psycho Gran and I can guarantee you'll be cheering her on by the end of each one.  There's seven stories of varying length and all presented in landscape format as above inside this 33-page digital-only comic and every single one is an art masterpiece.  There's only one question left and that's what are you still doing here?  At only £1.49 it's a steal, but you'll also be supporting UK comics and as a result you'll hopefully be able to look forward to a third issue plus more in Aces too in the future.  Just click on the ComiXology logo below:

Click here to purchase #2 and #1 is still
available too!

Brilliant stuff and it's fantastic to see this Oink! original still going strong.  After you've devoured the new issue make sure you come back here next Saturday, the 17th December for the latest physical comic from Tom Thug, Pete & his Pimple and Pigswilla creator Lew Stringer, called Derek the Troll!  The Happy Holidays continue...

Monday, 5 December 2016

OINK!S CHRISTMAS SHOPPING GUIDE: PART TWO


Burp, Frank Sidebottom and GBH are back in the second of my Twelve Posts of Christmas, which is taking in both of my blogs, The Oink! Blog and Recovering From a Scratch, my equally-retro Commodore 64 site.  It's been a while (about a year!) since I last scanned in pages from this classic comic for you and there's more to come!  For now though, here's another three pages from across Oink!'s two Christmas issues to help you prepare for the 25th.

As we get closer to Christmas Day you'll see the shops reduce their prices on decorations and even their gifts more and more.  I have to say on the decorations side of things I usually lose out on this as I like to have my place all Christmassy on the 1st December at the latest.  On the gift side of things though places like Debenhams are great for sales etc. throughout December that I can enjoy instead of braving the jungle that is Boxing Day.  Oink!'s own spoof mail order company, GBH was always known for poor-quality (to say the least) products and sky-high prices and if you haven't seen any of their Madvertisements before you should check out the previous Christmas Catalogues I've featured before here and here first.  Trust me, they're a hoot.

But here, one of the pages I never included last time is the GBH Christmas Clear-Out from #43 and while we don't get those imaginative homemade props and silly photographs, the spirit of the dodgy company is still clearly there.  So as part of my shopping guide, if you're still looking for those last-minute stocking ideas or haven't yet bought that new tree you've been promising your loved ones since last year, look no further.

Well, look for your credit card first and then look no further:


One TV channel I hadn't seen in many, many years until recently was QVC.  In fact I think the last time I saw it before this week was when I still lived at home and my mother was somewhat addicted to such channels.  You'll just have to trust me when I say that was a while back.  However, this week my better half turned on said channel one night.  I was less surprised that it still existed in pretty much the exact format as it had all those years ago, and more surprised that she knew exactly when the Yankee Candle hour was on!

But anyway, the reason I bring this up is because Oink! wasn't above taking the hand out of such enterprises and has done so previously.  But it didn't stop there.  To this day if you turn on some channels late at night (or indeed early in the morning) you'll find an endless stream of infomercials and QVC-like adverts filled with the same kind of over-confidence in the products.  I remember watching some of these infomercials as a teen when we were first subjected to them, as they could be so unintentionally hilarious!  Below is an Oink! take on the same phenomenon from Banx and his creation Burp the Smelly Alien from Outer Space.

Now I will admit from the hour of QVC I was subjected to the other night it does seem to be a lot calmer than the one my mum used to watch.  I should just get that in there before my girlfriend reads this all.  But also, I should point out I do think she'll read the first two story panels of this next strip and instantly think of me!  (Just the first two panels after the title one, just to be clear!)


Finally for this two-part shopping guide (the first part is available here) it's yet another cut-out Christmas card but this time from the hands of none other than Frank Sidebottom (or rather the man behind the mask, the late, great Chris Sievey).  Get this downloaded, printed off and then have your felt-tip pens at the ready and either a steady hand or a ruler to bring it to life in his colouring style:


That's it folks, but I'll be back here this Saturday, the 10th December with information on the latest comic from David Leach featuring Psycho Gran!  Before then my Twelve Posts of Christmas continues over on my Recovering From a Scratch blog with a review of a rather fine Commodore 64 coffee table book which also happens to feature myself on one page.  Obviously that page won't count towards the review (or else I'd have to mark it down!), so see you soon.

In the meantime you can read more about the two Christmas issues of Oink! by clicking on either of their covers below.


Saturday, 3 December 2016

OINK!S CHRISTMAS SHOPPING GUIDE: PART ONE


Welcome to the first of my Twelve Posts of Christmas taking part across my two completely different blogs.  You can read more about this and what I'm covering by clicking here and also on my Recovering From a Scratch blog here too.

I must admit it feels good to be back on here, scanning in a few pages of the best comic ever crafted and sharing them with fellow pig pals both old and new.  You'll also be glad to hear in this post and the next I'm keeping my waffling to a minimum and letting these few pages do the talking!  I've covered the Christmas issues before in depth and you can read all about them and see many more pages by clicking on the two covers at the bottom of this post.

First up from #17 let's get all those "Bah Humbug" people out of the way first, shall we?  Do they not realise it takes so much more effort to be a Scrooge than it does to just relax and enjoy the season?  To hammer the point home, while we're hanging up our decorations that have been in the loft for eleven months, or popping out to buy some more merriment for our living rooms, the people who can't stand Christmas will have to make do with printing out the back page below, cutting it up and assembling their own anti-festive decoration themselves.  An unknown artist unfortunately but here's Oink's Xmas Mobile for People who hate Xmas:


At this point in the comic's life the late and great Chris Sievey, the man behind the famous papier-mache head of Frank Sidebottom had only just joined one issue previous, but he'd already made a big impression upon the readers.  Chris would write, draw and colour all of his own work throughout the rest of the entire run and his comic strips must've taken so long to complete, being intricately drawn and then coloured with felt-tip!  When you see some of the full-page strips you can't help but think they must've taken an age to complete and you'd be right.  For the first Christmas issue however we instead had his 3 fantastic xmas gifts page.  It may not be a strip but it still contains some beautiful hand-drawn artwork in his inimitable style.  Coming across as loose, free and rough, Chris spent hours on his pieces for Oink! to achieve that very look, while treating us kids to such vivid colours and unique and original images.  Double-sided sticky tape at the ready:


Finally for today another artist whose style was, and is, deliberately loose and freeform is Oink! co-creator and co-editor Tony Husband.  This time around though he left his own creations of the likes of Horace Ugly-Face Watkins and Kid Gangster at home and instead crafted some fun cut-out Christmas Cards from Lew Stringer's Tom Thug, Marc Riley's Harry the Head and Banx's Burp the Smelly Alien from Outer Space.  Thrown in for good measure is a snowman of our esteemed editor Uncle Pigg, who we were used to seeing drawn by Ian Jackson, though he'd be redrawn by almost every artist at one stage or another.  Another excuse to fire up your printers:


I'll be back on Monday 5th December with the second part of Oink!'s Christmas Shopping Guide, but new readers could see these few pages as a quick preview of the fun Christmas issues below.  Click on either of the covers to be treated to a whole world of frivolities including Ham Dare Pig of the Future, Mr Big Nose, spoof Christmas TV listings, The Hamformers, The Snowbloke and another cut-out in the form of a Tom Thug Christmas angel for the top of your tree.



See you Monday!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

TWELVE POSTS OF CHRISTMAS

Howdy all.  Well it's finally here, Christmas time is upon us and I hope you're all eager to get the festive season started.  Regular readers will know this is my very favourite time of the year and I eagerly look forward to it.  All of December is Christmas to me, not just the one day and this year it's even more special as I've decided it's the perfect time to kickstart my two blogs.

It's about time, as both of my sites have been somewhat neglected for a while now.  So, inspired by the blogosphere's current trend of writers dedicating a post to each and every day of the month for what's been named 'Blogmas', I'm doing my own Twelve Posts of Christmas.  Nope, I'm not doing thirty-one posts!  I'm not that crazy.

Instead this blog and Recovering From a Scratch will each have six posts apiece to get me back into the swing of things.  Sometimes life takes a hold and leads us off in other directions whether we like it or not and it's important to find a way back to what we love.  Setting deadlines for my posts with each and every issue of Oink! (and now the issues of Commodore Format on the other blog) was a great motivator to keep me going and I'm immensely proud of what I achieved here over nearly three years.  So with that in mind, what can you expect to see coming up on The Oink! Blog?

3rd & 5th: OINK!'S CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE


Oink!'s spoof adverts were always hilarious and while I've shared some of their Christmas-themed ones with you in the past, there's a couple more which I simply didn't have space for.  So on these two dates you can look forward to the GBH Clear-Out Sale (if the tat they were hocking before wasn't clear-out stock then what on earth are they getting rid of?) and Frank Sidebottom not only offers advice on the perfect presents but will also be presenting a classic card for you to cut-out and give to the special person in your life.  Speaking of cutting up your comics, there'll be Oink!'s own Christmas cards and a special decorative mobile "for those who hate Christmas" (whoever they are!) and Burp will be on hand for a bit of infomercial cheese.

10th: BRAND NEW PSYCHO GRAN COMIC!


That's right, the slightly mental pensioner is making yet another comeback in brand new material thanks to her exceptionally talented creator, David Leach.  After the success of the dear little lady's debut comic and her semi-regular appearances in Aces Weekly, David also released the special one-off Psycho Gran Vs...  back at the beginning of the year featuring special art pieces of her taking on superheroes and the like and, naturally, coming out on top.  Well now her second issue is here, collecting those Aces Weekly strips together in one volume and I'll be taking a look at it on the 10th.

But that's not the only Oink!-related new comic stuff coming up!

17th: NEW LEW STRINGER COMIC!


Now Derek the Troll may not have been an Oink! character, instead coming from the pages of Warlock and White Dwarf which are two magazines I've never looked at, but Lew was certainly one of the main creative stars in our comic.  After the success of his Brickman comic which I've covered before comes a special comic collecting Derek's classic 1980s adventures into one shiny 32-page volume.  That's right, it's another honest-to-gosh published comic and is available now, so check back on the 17th and be ready to order it up pronto for Christmas.

CHRISTMAS EVEOINK!'S CHRISTMAS CHILDREN'S TALES


Taken from the pages of the comic's two Christmas issues will come three festive fables to pass on to your own little ones on the eve of Santa's visit.  The classic, poignant and cheery stories will be The Poor Woodcutter, Xmas in Toytown and, naturally, Personby Claret the Know-it-all Parrot.  Regale your kids with stories about spoilt brats, revenge-filled toys and a stuck-up bird before leaving them alone in bed in the dark.

Oink! certainly knew how to entertain us and you can enjoy the festivities as you prepare for the big day.  Then, on The Big Day...

CHRISTMAS DAY: MORE OINK! BOOK HIGHLIGHTS


Both the 1988 and 1989 annuals have been covered over the previous two years on the blog but there's still a huge archive of material in there and, while I've always said I scan material sparingly, I've picked a few more highlights to bring to you while the rest of the family watch The Queen's Speech.  Just try not to laugh too loud and interrupt HRH.  I'll leave it as a complete surprise as to what I'll cover, but needless to say it'll bring back those very fond memories of opening these books for the first time, after they'd been brought down the chimney to all of us pig pals all those years ago.

So there you go folks, hopefully plenty for you to look forward to with a revamped and lively Oink! Blog once more.  My decorations are up, the Schloer is on ice and I'm impatiently awaiting the release of the Christmas TV Times.