Welcome back everyone! First up - wow! At the time of writing this the blog has been viewed over 1100 times already! It's absolutely fantastic to see so much interest in this classic comic and thanks to all for your lovely comments on how this project is going so far. Very early stages too, and one of my favourite covers, from Steve McGarry, setting the tone for the whole run with its cheeky Royal Family photo and even cheekier badge ideas. Anyone else feeling very old looking at this particular cover though??
The free badge kit was a selection of round blank stickers and icons, letters and pictures, which could be rubbed on to create anything the young readers wanted - a bit like those old rub-on transfers we used to get where we'd pretend we'd a tattoo, even though they never came off in one piece and would look a mess on our arms. Ah the good ol' days...
Again we've Mary Lighthouse on the cover, but instead of horror at what she sees she's in complete shock and the tale would continue on page 2:
This would be a regular occurrence in the early stages of Oink!, with Uncle Pigg and the comic's critic battling it out in the introduction to each issue written by Mark Rodgers, usually as a way of introducing each theme from #3 onwards (see end of this post) but for this issue it was simply to burst the bubble (pun intended) of Lighthouse. Again, Ian Jackson's artwork is the star here and he really does epitomise everything Oink! was about, a breath of fresh air for my young eyes! (Obviously I mean back then, they're not so much young eyes anymore.)
Let's face it, getting a fart joke in on the Royal Family was good for a kids' comic, even if it wasn’t actually wind in the end!
Oink! had an anarchic feel to it which I loved, not only in its artwork, its sense of humour and its uneven and raw panel work, but also in its contents. While other comics would have certain strips on certain pages every single issue, Oink! mixed it up every time, not only in where to place its regulars but also the space given to them (regular characters could be a full page most of the time, but then have 3/4 of a page, or a double-page spread or a page and half to themselves in some editions) but it also had a lot of one-off strips and semi-regulars filling up its 32 pages. From this issue, this is definitely a highlight:
Burp and Mr Big Nose creator Banx brought us Kangaroo Kid, which ends with a blatantly obvious moment of realisation for the reader who, if anything like me, hadn't clicked he hadn't actually left the phone booth! Brilliant piece of misdirection and a shame he didn't appear regularly.
A lot of comics back then were, as previously stated, printed on newsprint, and Oink!'s shiny paper brought with it not only some vibrant full-colour pages but also these 1-colour strips which really stood out. Just colouring a page completely differently than those around it lent some strips a whole other feel and was another way Oink! was different from the crowd. While action comics such as Marvel's hit Transformers were, for most of their run, also on glossy paper and in full colour, the pages of Oink! were of an even higher grade and the difference was clear not only in its look but its feel too.
It also meant those black and white strips didn't have to be quite so simple anymore and shades of grey could be used to really bring them to life in a way unseen before. More on that in a few issues time - you'll see what I mean.
Moving on in this issue to the back page, another Oink! favourite and drawn by someone a lot of you are probably very familiar with for a completely different reason:
See? Something the comic's critics never realised - it could be educational! Well, ok, I'm pushing it, but still. If you're reading this around the time I'm posting it up you can't have failed to notice TV and radio programmes about the Dambusters recently, and as this issue was also published on 17th May back in 1986, it ties in neatly with the same time of year as those famous raids.
Created by none other than Marc Riley of Radio 1 fame, Harry the Head would feature in Oink! all the way through to its final issue. Already known in the music biz, Marc lent his hand to the comic with Harry, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth and Doctor Mooney (He's Completely Looney), amongst others. He would also be known for playing Snatcher Sam in the spoof photo stories, and he'll be appearing in that guise in the blog quite soon...
In issue 1 we saw Harry's parents in a brief introduction to the main strip, both of whom are heads as well (who didn't want to "stick their neck out" about their son). So did we ever find out why Harry's family is just made up of disembodied heads? As it turns out we did get to see Harry's origin story in #8, but it changes things. I suppose in this age that'd be called a reboot. The strip isn't on the blog but basically Harry was an overweight and very grumpy kid with no friends and who complained about everything. Lying on the beach he finds a bottle and a genie pops out and grants him three wishes. After Harry complains about "only three?!" he wishes for lots of chocolate and "pop", then gets belly ache etc. His last wish is to have the pain in his neck, belly and basically all over disappear. The genie, pissed off with Harry's moaning and the fact he brought the pains on himself, does make it all disappear. Just more literally. So there you go, completely contradicting what went before. Keeps us on our toes.
As I've said it's fantastic Oink! is generating so much interest all these years later, and hopefully the blog will pick up some new readers for the comic - judging by comments over at the Facebook group from parents it certainly seems kids these days 'get' it, and it's nice it's being passed on and not forgotten. After the furore some parents unfairly caused at the time, seeing it being passed down now feels like a small victory, doesn't it?
In two weeks the first themed issue will be with us, and every fortnightly issue after that would follow suit, with some seasonal issues and an awful lot of very random themes thrown in too. Naturally. Hope you'll come back then for more of this(!):