Wednesday, 29 March 2017


Oh my word, now I feel old!  Back in late 1988 I started collecting the superlative The Transformers from Marvel UK... or rather, to give it its full title 'The Transformers and Action Force' seeing as how Marvel's other action weekly had come to an end with its 50th issue and they still had a hell of a lot of American G.I. Joe (which was changed to 'Action Force' in the UK) being created, as it'd proven much more popular on the other side of the planet than here.  AF had already been in the TF comic for about fifty issues by the time I came on board and they'd brought with them Lew Stringer's excellent Combat Colin humour strip.

For the remainder of The Transformers, Colin and his sidekick Semi-Automatic Steve would grace us with half- and full-page strips every single issue which without fail raised a smile, but more-often-then-not straight out belly laughs were the order of the day (and even included a cameo from Tom Thug in the background once).  After the comic was cancelled with its 332nd issue Lew asked for the rights to the character and Marvel agreed, which has been brilliant for us fans as he keeps popping up now-and-again, both in some special issues a good while back and more recently in Aces Weekly with brand new material.

Lew has also recently announced he'll be collecting together all of the Marvel UK strips into an ongoing series of reprint comics, beginning sometime this year with the premiere issue containing all of the AF strips in one volume.  Personally I can't wait as I never did collect that title and so this will all be brand new material for the most part for me!  Saying that, I'll also collect the other issues (even though I have the TF run all here on a shelf next to me) to support one of my very favourite cartoonists of all time and also to have all of the strips in one collection.  It'll be a brilliantly fun read and I'll no doubt cover it on the blog when it's released.

He may not have been an Oink! character but Lew was one of the top contributors to our favourite comic and two publications Combat Colin has featured in have already featured on the blog.  These were namely the aforementioned The Transformers and Lew's own Brickman strips as a guest character and as a back-up strip in the Brickman Returns special small-press release in 2015.  He's well known to a lot of pig pals as he was in the UK's top-selling comic of the time after all and over the years has become a fan favourite, with Lew himself confirming he's his own personal favourite and is still much requested for sketches at comic cons!

Lew's written a blog post on his Blimey! blog to celebrate Colin's 30th anniversary of that first Action Force appearance and on a day full of doom and gloom and Brexit-ing why don't you head on over there to join in the festivities.  Just click on Lew's logo below and then you can click on any of the covers/logos below that when you return, to read up on the other comics he brought so much joy to.

Happy birthday Colin!

Monday, 27 February 2017


Back in 2015 I ran a series of posts over six months called Beyond Oink! which took a look at the other main comics I collected as a kid and teen after the piggy publication first introduced me to them.  I was thrilled with the feedback I received from both fellow readers and the people within the UK comics industry who had worked on them.  But sometimes we forget these posts are still there to read and recently I was very pleasantly surprised as a result of the post about the classic comic Wildcat.

As a fan of both of these comics it's a thrill to be writing this post

Some of the comics I collected back then may not have lasted too long but that doesn't mean they were in any way of a lesser quality.  The comics industry was going through a crash at the time and some amazing creations were unfortunate casualties, which I mentioned on more than one occasion during that series of posts.  Fleetway in particular produced a hugely varied range of stunning British strips in both originated and licenced comics.  The quality of the writing and art in these titles has got to be seen to be believed and are well worth hunting down today on eBay and the like.  The two comics above, Wildcat and Ring Raiders are perfect examples, with the former running to 12 issues and some specials, the latter only to 6 and one special to finish off the stories.

Wildcat's story was immense in its formation with the destruction of Earth and the exploration of a possible new world.  Each story centred on one party's attempts on the surface of the world, backed up by a series of complete stories set aboard Wildcat itself which ranged from social commentary to horror.  Unfortunately it was released at a time when comics were already struggling and by the time Ring Raiders came along the market was in an even worse state!  'Raiders was based on the Matchbox toys of the same name which we ran around "flying" on our fingers and which seemed set to be the next big thing with everything from a cartoon series to vast amounts of collectible merchandise in the works.  Unfortunately that never happened despite their huge success the one Christmas they did fill the shelves of our toy shops.  The comic produced wonderful characterisation and action from these little plastic planes and by the end of the short run it was clear a complex history and epic storylines were being curated and would've been explored if it hadn't been cancelled.


So anyway, recently on Twitter the superb account called Great News For All Readers posted a cover from Wildcat on the day of its original release, something they do quite a lot for comics from across the wide spectrum of UK titles:

A great Twitter account to follow (click to enlarge)

I just had to reply of course!  I linked to the Wildcat post, not to self-publicise but because there's still not really anything else about this wonderful comic online, which is a crime, so I thought followers may like to see more of the fantastic work produced.  I was beyond thrilled to receive a reply from Barrie Tomlinson after he'd read my post, who turned out to be the editor of Wildcat!  Not only Wildcat, but of Ring Raiders too!  I couldn't believe it and we set about chatting a little.  As it turns out Barrie is putting the finishing touches to a new book about his time in the UK comics biz working on titles like the aforementioned two, Tiger, Scream, Battle, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles Adventures (another covered during Beyond Oink!), Toxic Crusaders, new Eagle, Mask and others, as well as annuals including Big Daddy, Geoff Boycott and Suzanne Dando.  Barrie also wrote and produced the Scorer strip for the Daily Mirror for twenty-two years, six days a week and was in charge of Roy of the Rovers which he's already covered in book form.

That's one hell of a career.


Barrie (left) with footballer Malcolm MacDonald
taking a look at an issue of Tiger

The book is to be titled Comic Book Hero and will include many tales of working on all of these great publications.  For example, with Tiger there's chat about all the celebrities who were involved with the comic, including lots of photographs to go alongside them.  Also, the cover is a new piece by David Sque and features Hot-Shot Hamish, Billy Dane from Billy's Boots, Skid Solo, Roy of the Rovers and Johnny Cougar.

Due for release in September from Pitch Publishing it's sure to be an essential read for fans of any of the many comics Barrie's worked on, or even for anyone with an interest in the UK comics scene of those times.  I'll definitely be picking it up so you can expect it to be covered in depth here on The Oink! Blog.

Barrie's book is eagerly anticipated!

I'm currently putting together some questions about Wildcat and Ring Raiders which Barrie has graciously agreed to answer this week.  These will be for the blog and will form two special posts nearer the time of the release of Comic Book Hero, but in the meantime Barrie has already given me some great information about the creation of Wildcat which I'll be adding to that Beyond Oink! post this week, so watch out for news of an update in a day or two.

So stay tuned for further information on the release later in the year, but if you're a fan of Roy of the Rovers you can click here to purchase Barrie's previous book.

To go and have a look at the complete Beyond Oink! series you can click here, or to read specifically about Barrie's titles you can choose from the links here:
Ring Raiders
Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles Adventures

Finally, if you're on Twitter click here to follow Great News for all Readers, or you can always see the same covers on their website here instead.

From one hugely excited fan to hopefully many more, I'll see you soon!

Sunday, 25 December 2016



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!