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, 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).

Friday, 31 October 2014

#40: SERIOUSLY WITCHING HUMOUR


As whatever radio station plays Michael Jackson's Thriller just that once too often today, take a break from your frightful festivities with an issue of Oink! which I can remember so clearly.  That cover by Ralph Shephard, whose work we haven't seen in quite some time in these pages, has stuck in my brain ever since - even though I didn't own it again for so many, many years.  For the next while too, that logo would remain in its current form, one I particularly liked, as the comic settled down to its new format.  It would all get changed again in the new year but for now we can continue to enjoy the very best run of editions Oink! had to offer.

I can remember like it was yesterday reading this issue in my late Aunt May's house, who I mentioned previously in #38's post.  Even though it was dated from the Saturday each issue came out on the Thursday beforehand, and after school I'd walk up to meet my mum at May's after stopping off at the newsagents.  In this case I can remember them talking about Santa Claus while I was sitting right there next to them.  They obviously thought I was so engrossed that I wasn't paying attention, but at the mention of his name my ears pricked up, but I didn't take my gaze away from the pages.  They were talking about the truth behind Santa (the truth obviously being that he's real, of course, contrary to what some of my school friends had told me...) so that's how I found out, while reading this issue.  It's a weird feeling holding a copy of it in my adult hands, this strange, funny comic, and it bringing back memories of loved ones who are so missed now.

A highlight here is definitely the photo story 2001 Million Years B.C. - A Space Filler.  Not just because it has possibly the best punchline in the history of punchlines (don't peek until you read the whole thing), but also because of the special guest stars, The Mekons.

They're a punk band who had one particular member Oink! fans may be familiar with - Jon Langford.  Look up Jon online and you'll find a wealth of fantastic musical achievements, indeed his own official website is chock full of his work, not just as a musician, but also a writer and, as we know here, an incredible artist.  Seriously, check out his site and you'll be amazed at what this man has created!

As stated he was part of The Mekons at the time (you'll find more info and links about them on Jon's site) but was also working at Cosgrove Hall on, amongst other things, two bastions of British cartoons - yes, that's right, Danger Mouse and Count Duckula.  He approached the Oink! team with relish, wanting to take part in this unique comic experiment and Patrick, Tony and Mark leapt at the chance to work with him.  Who can blame them?

Blog readers will have seen Jon's work in two posts so far - the creepy back page dream sequence from #9 and the equally sinister Terrible Toys in #25.  Here he leaves the pens and pencils behind - well there's nowhere to keep them in a loincloth is there?  Yes, that's Jon Langford himself, esteemed musician, alongside his punk bandmates, all dressed as ridiculous cavemen and women.  That's the power of Oink!:


Now in the last issue I mentioned Charlie Brooker at some length, including some of the characters he'd create over the remainder of Oink!'s lifetime.  In some later issues he really did contribute an awful lot, which must've been a thrill for someone who hadn't even hit adulthood yet, and an amazing achievement to boot!  One of my very favourite characters, not just of Charlie's, but of the whole comic, was Death.

Yes, Death.  The Grim Reaper himself had his own regular strip in Oink! and while it's fitting he should appear on the blog for the first time as part of the Hallowe'en special, he'd actually done so a handful of times already over the previous issues.  While they were all good, young Charlie was really hitting his stride now!

The Adventures of Death would take up a random amount of space from issue-to-issue, this time taking up a little quarter of a page under Tom Thug, but small space still meant big laughs for us fans.  Oink! was the one time when you looked forward to Death coming a-knocking:


Before the next full strip I just have to include one little panel from this issue's Rubbish Man page, as it made me roar reading this in bed last night!:


Quick-fire puns like that were a regular feature throughout all the fantastic creations in this comic.  Haldane certainly delivered and indeed continued to do so in the next addition here.

A few issues back we saw a quick preview for the latest of Haldane's strips, Jimmy Flynn (Jumps Out of his Skin), about a young boy who would literally, well, jump out of his skin when he got a fright.  But then he'd simply carry on walking about as his skeletal self and suddenly be a whole load braver to boot.  While this story, A Nightmare on Butcher Street, is technically an ongoing tale each part is like a little collection of random jokes on its own so they can still be enjoyed separately here.

One particularly funny running gag was how each episode would feature a special guest appearance by a top celebrity who would get suitably top billing in the title.  Then they'd appear in one panel in a way completely unrelated to what was going on, such as Bone Collins in this one:


This issue did provide quite a few genuine laugh-out-loud moments which carried on for several minutes, which isn't bad for a comic whose target audience was initially kids and given the fact I'm 36!  The "It seemed to Jimmy that the very house itself was alive..." panel above was one such moment, a perfect play on words we often hear in horror movies or read in such novels.

As I've already stated I was reading this issue in bed last night for the first time in well over 20 years.  Between accidentally drinking proper coffee instead of my usual late-night decaf cup and the sudden jokes already mentioned, is it any wonder I was so wide awake afterwards that I didn't sleep for an age!  Bloomin' Oink!

It feels like an age too since we've enjoyed some spectacular J.T. Dogg artwork, doesn't it?  Well actually, ok he was featured just a few issues ago, and before that there was the second StreetHogs strip, before that the Crash! special... ok, ok, what I really meant was it's been a good while since we saw his artwork as a great big piggy parody poster!  That's what we've all been missing isn't it?  Well then, without further ado:


Lovely to have his artwork in the middle of the comic again like that.  Let's hope it's not the last time, eh?  I know the original Oink! Superstar Posters from the early days of the comic (check them out here and here if you haven't already) (no, seriously go on) (oh just do it, they're brilliant!) would get reprinted in the monthly issues still to come, but let's hope there's some new poster-size material too.

Before I talk about the next strip, you need to read it first:


In our next issue fans of Pete and his Pimple are in for a right royal treat as you'll see below (I'm including the 'next issue' box here instead of a day or two before the next one because the news is THAT good), and something you'll see is the pimply star being drawn by other artists.  Why?  That'll make sense at the end of this post, but for now how could I resist sharing Lew Stringer's (who also wrote the above) Pete being drawn by Steve Gibson.

I'm an avid follower of Steve's work on his Facebook page and there's a link on the left there if you're curious yourself.  Be warned though, there's a good reason why I've placed the little "18+" next to it, his doodles and notebook drawings are somewhat... adult in nature, to say the least.

From adult-only humour to kid-friendly surrealism.  That can only mean one thing - Mr Big Nose from Banx:


Sometimes there's a strip which just doesn't require anything further to be written about it.  To do so would be to take away from it!  I will, however, mention those plops on the side there, added by Patrick Gallagher throughout this edition (amongst other issues recently) as additional little puns here and there.

Alongside Patrick, fellow editor Tony Husband contributes once again to the strips I've scanned in, with the next part of the latest Oink! serial.  Given more issues to work over than the first Spectacles story, Tony is really going to town in lengthening the quest Endor must travel on, bringing in just about every idea conceivable.  Well, conceivable to someone like Tony.  These ideas are certainly things not many others would come up with!

'Lo brave warrior, present yourself forthwith to marvel at the scriptures of Husband and the craftsmanship of Roper (Andy) in The Spectacles of Doom versus The Monocle of Mayhem:


Now before we carry on to probably my very favourite back page, a little advice for all those kiddies planning on trick'n'treating this weekend.  Very, very sage advice indeed from David Leach.  Especially if you're the one brave enough to ring the doorbell of one certain little old lady:


We're on to our back page and there's a range of spoof movie posters in Oink!'s run, all drawn so astonishingly by Simon Thorpe, which remain favourites to this day (one example being his version of The Sound of Music in #29).  They've been talking points amongst fans on the Facebook group and some members even went out of their way to chase down the RoboCop one still to come in the first third of next year.  That's how fondly remembered these are.

This particular one below remains my own personal favourite though.  At the time of this issue's release it would be a couple of months from now until I became a Ghostbusters fan.  While I'd seen some episodes of Filmation's Ghostbusters, a very strange cartoon indeed, I knew one called The Real Ghostbusters was due to be screened from January.  That Christmas, in preparation, ITV showed the classic 1984 Ghostbusters movie.  It was on at night time, after 9pm, but it couldn't have been a coincidence the cartoon series was going to start soon after.

So I was seeing this Oink! take on the movie before seeing the movie myself.  Indeed, I can remember asking my friends a few days before the film was to air if it contained a flying car and an ape amongst the Ghostbusters, such was the Filmation creation.  Obviously they hadn't a clue what I was talking about!  So I sat down that night over the Christmas holidays, with my brand new 12" portable colour Pye TV and watched it in my room and instantly became a fan!

When the cartoon aired I was hooked and the Marvel UK title became only the second-ever comic I had reserved for me regularly at my newsagents.

Months went by and I stumbled across this spoof in my Oink! collection again and I thought it was simply hilarious!  Not just the (admittedly clever) puns from Charlie Brooker who wrote the script behind this page, but the artwork by Simon is superb!  That IS Bill Murray in pig form!:


Ladies and gentlemen, that is truly a classic piece of Oink! right there.

So before I sign off for another issue, what's this big surprise for Pete and his Pimple fans?  Oh not much.  Just an 8-page pull-out comic dedicated to one of Oink!'s most popular characters, that's all:


As if that's not exciting enough I'll be splitting the next issue into two parts - the usual highlights post and a separate Pete post, containing every page of the pull-out for your giggle-parts to enjoy!  Yes that's right, Pete and his Pimple will be getting a full-on 8-scanned-pages post all to themselves.  The comic celebrated one of the fan favourites, it's only right I give him the same treatment here on the blog.

I'm currently in the middle of moving home, so there'll be no additional posts before the next issue and I do apologise.  However there's some treats in store very soon, I just need to delay them while I ship myself off again.

So join me back here in a fortnight when #41 goes on sale on Friday 14th November.