I'm posting this up on the morning of 26th April 2013, exactly 27 years to the day (although it was a Saturday back then, not a Friday) that readers of some of IPC's top comics would find their regular reads wrapped up in a plastic bag with a pink porky on the front telling them they'd got a "Great New Comic" inside. Unlike previous titles which came out with TV advertising etc, Oink! was released in a new way, with a special free preview edition.
Headed up with that brilliant and classic logo designed by editor Patrick Gallagher, it was a bold and effective title design that continues to be loved to this day! As for the preview comic itself they certainly didn't skimp! In later years IPC's preview comics would have half the page count of what would follow, which is fair enough, they were only previews after all. (I can remember Wildcat and Super Naturals myself, neither of which lasted very long.) But Oink! was a full issue! All 32, full-sized, satisfyingly-larger-than-A4 pages in all their glory - what a gift. It was partially made up of some strips which had formed a 'dummy' issue the creators had put together to originally sell the concept to IPC and above is the first cover, the first appearance of our favourite editor Uncle Pigg, the comic's very own critic Mary Lighthouse and the first time kids would really be exposed to the amazing artwork of Ian Jackson. It set it apart straight away, and he'd continue inside with this on page 2:
Imagine the impact these first two pages would've made to the kids who had previously only read comics with straight lines! But it wasn't just the frames obviously, this comic was breaking away from the formulaic and safe titles that saturated the market and which forced too many restrictions on the cartoonists (this was the whole point of Tony Husband, Patrick Gallagher and Mark Rodgers joining together to create Oink! after all, alongside the important difference of the creations belonging to the various creators rather than the publishers!), and was heading out on its own. Risky, but worth it. Even the paper would set it apart, being printed on glossy (and larger) high quality stock rather than the newsprint of other IPC humour comics.
But anyway, even though I only came to Oink! a little later, I can remember seeing Ian Jackson's work for the first time and to me it summed up Oink! perfectly as it was unlike anything I'd ever read, and Uncle Pigg fast became my favourite comic character. I'm sure those kids reading the preview would've felt the same way.
It's the lips he draws isn't it? Out over the teeth...
Anyway, in this blog I'll be posting up the cover of each issue and a few of the strips inside. It's not going to be a 'best of', as let's face it that'd make it impossible to pick the strips. But don't worry if your favourite character hasn't appeared yet, I can guarantee they will. For example this issue also contained our first encounters with Tom Thug, Rubbish Man, Harry the Head, Billy Bang etc, as well as some which never made it to the fortnightly.
So, what was the first full strip to appear in Oink! to set the mood for the comic to come?:
Written by one of Oink!'s creators, the late and very great Mark Rodgers, and drawn by Davy Francis Cowpat County was the everyday story of country folk, apparently. We wouldn't find out the name of the farmer (Giles) until #14, but in the meantime we'd also our first celebrity piss-take in the shape of David Bellamy and his unique voice. As an adult we're all used to celebrities being treated in this way, and back then we also had Spitting Image on TV on a Sunday night (which, unlike Oink!, my mother never approved of), but this kind of thing had never been done like this in children's comics before. It was a revelation to me!
Other comics would follow suit, even The Dandy from 2010 until it ceased publication in 2012 seemed like it was trying to be more Oink!-like, albeit in a more tame way. It even included "Madvertisements", a term Oink! would use frequently with its own fake adverts. It worked though, I personally liked the reincarnated Dandy.
The last strip I'm scanning in from this issue (so far anyway) is a character who was very dear to my heart, seeing as how in the second Oink! Book he'd teach me about puberty.... but, ahem, more on that when we get to that stage. For now, here's the arrival of something, well, different:
Love the brain part hahaa!
Burp was the creation of (Jeremy) Banx, who also created Mr Big Nose, a very surreal and hilarious character who will definitely be appearing on here soon. Burp and his rather dodgy "pet specimen from Uranus" I can remember being a particular favourite amongst my friends, who really couldn't believe the comic was able to do stuff like this! Burp would continue to try to ingratiate himself with us humans all the way through Oink!'s run and we'd continue to run the other way. Well apart from us smelly readers.
So there you have it, a little look into how the world was introduced to a very unique comic, one that would be a hit but would ultimately be a victim of its own success. Not through anything it did, but through those who didn't wish little Johnny and little Jemima reading about bare bums and plops. You know the type - people who'll take offence on behalf of others, when others aren't actually offended. Some parents didn't like Oink! but then again they didn't have a clue what children actually wanted, or indeed what they did joke about with their friends when their parents weren't looking. WHSmith even famously placed the comic on the top shelves out of the children's way after the Royal Family were the subject of a joke or six and also after a strip we'll see in an upcoming issue.
I was lucky, my parents found it hilarious and had no problem buying it for me every fortnight. It's held a special place in the hearts and humour glands of all who read it, and the fact it lasted as long as it did is a testament to the success in its concept and its execution. Here's to #1 and reliving Oink! all over again from the very beginning.