Friday, 31 May 2013


"Pigs... In... Spaaaaaccce!!"  Ahem sorry, bit of a Muppets diversion there with Tony Husband's cover art...

This issue is just crazy!  This is no exaggeration, the first of the themed issues - sci-fi - goes all out to make its point that each and every issue of Oink! was going to feel like a brand new and unique experience, not just from other comics but from each previous issue!  A quick scan below and you'd think I'd gone mad with the amount of strips but I really haven't, there's just one in particular that took over this issue and there was no better way to sum up the comic than to scan the whole story in!  But first, a quick cameo:

Wonder if Colin Baker ever saw himself drawn by the hands of Ian Jackson?  This wouldn't be the last time the Doctor would influence Uncle Pigg but that's a story for a future issue so you'll just have to be patient.  Not patient?  Oh well, bad luck.

So now on to our star strip in more ways than one.  Boldly going where no photo story had gone before, ladies and gentlemen I present to you Oink! creators Mark Rodgers as Captain Slog, Patrick Gallagher as Sock and Tony Husband as Jerm, along with BBC Radio 1's Marc Riley as Jock in...:

Thanks to Tony who cleared up exactly who was under the chicken mask by the way!  Can you imagine the fun these guys must've had when creating these stories?  This was their job!  Fantastic, and I'm a little bit jealous.

Taking the mickey out of all those photo stories that'd appear in women's weekly magazines the Oink! alternatives were always completely nuts and my brain has this mental image of me tittering as I shared one with my mum many moons ago.  I can't remember which one it was but I look forward to finding out later in the run somewhere.

One character who appeared in every single issue was a certain young boy who was rather unique but in a way in which I simply don't think comics today would get away with.  Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins was just that - a young boy with an incredibly ugly face!  Created by Tony Husband, Horace would even perpetually scare his own parents even though they'd lived with him all those years already, but Horace could also sometimes find ways of taking advantage of his looks, so hey there were positive messages in there alongside the laughs!

In much later issues we'd even see Horace eventually meet a girl and end up getting married and everything, proof that happy endings are possible for everyone, but in the meantime Horace would keep us entertained in a way only he could:

Reading this for the blog I loved the 'Monster from the Bog''s grand entrance being "'ello!"  Ha!  For some reason Patrick's Sock has me in stitches here too, nevermind Marc's pose!  Oh how much I wish he could see this, just to hear his reaction after all these years.

Star Truck wouldn't just invade the main strips, Jerm could be seen running through the spoof quizzes and features and random little strips, such as this from Tony, throughout the issue:

A quick diversion away from chickens for now though.  The comic never shied away from spoofing those things us 80s kids adored.  Ghostbusters, Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, James Bond and a huge list of others would all get the Oink! treatment.  One which was the brunt of the jokes on more than one occasion was Transformers.  The simple idea of what disguise these robots could take saw a great 'Madvertisement' which you'll eventually see on here and this brilliant double-page spread in this sci-fi special:

Writer/artist unknown at this time

You may notice this isn't a scan but a photograph.  A lot of Oink!'s double-page strips would be read like this, across both pages, and it's simply WAY too big for my scanner.  Spent ages hovering over this trying to get as crisp a photo as possible, with three different cameras and various settings.  Worth it though!  It's a technique I'll have to employ now-and-again throughout the blog, unless someone wants to donate an industrial-sized scanning device to me.

You might notice with the front covers the very left and right edges may be slightly trimmed (the strips inside aren't so bad as they usually don't run to the edge of the pages or if they're not a full page I can scan it sideways, though the last part of Star Truck below proved me wrong and had to be scanned in in sections) as my scanner is A4 and the pages were the same height but wider than that, giving them a nice big feel in my hands back then.  Anyone who read it as a child will know what I mean.

So now we're heading towards the rear of the issue, and Mary Lighthouse is still in time and space somewhere.  Time to bring her back to earth.  With a bump!:

As you can see we're on page 30, so it's time to reign in Jerm once and for all.  What I love the most, beyond the absurdity of the photo strips, is the fact they're all so self-aware of being inside the pages of a comic.  This is never more apparent than with Star Truck:

I originally came to Oink! in its teens - I'm not sure which issue but I'll look forward to finding out as I continue - so I missed this strip first time around, but the crew of the Enterpies would return in The Oink! Book 1988 and that's how I first came to know them.  It's an absolute classic which again takes over more than its own pages so you can look forward to it around Christmas 2014(!!).

Just before signing off, as the blog continues I'll be sharing some of my own personal memories of the comic and I do have a special one with this issue's cover.  Quite a while after I started collecting Oink! my cousin gave me a few of his old issues and this was one of them.  Remember this is before the internet and eBay, kids so back issues were like gold dust.  I can remember, clear as a bell, coming back down to my aunt's living room from his bedroom, 2 or 3 Oink!s in hand and sitting down next to my nanny.  She took one look at the cover, pig bottoms floating about in space and then looked straight at me.  I really didn't know what she was going to think!  But she just giggled like a little schoolgirl, winked at me and then carried on talking to the family.

I've got a lot of happy memories associated with this comic, hence why I'm collecting it again in the first place, and I'm thrilled so many people have already come along for the ride.

Every now and then there'll be extra posts besides the issues themselves by the way so do please check back more than once a fortnight in case of an occasional extra, and the next actual issue goes 'on sale' 14th June.


Simon Bromley said...

Great stuff. One thing about the cover that seemed extraordinary (I think) is the 'x's on the bottoms representing puckered a-holes! Rather explicit for a kid's comic!

Phil Boyce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Boyce said...

Remember the cover to the first annual? The pig made of plasticine? It had the same little 'x' on the back cover, but that one had to be removed. And what about the pose when Sock is checking Jock at the bottom of the first page of Star Truck...? Hahaa!

... or that star date... hmmmm....!

Phil Boyce said...

Hmm, tried to edit my comment above and ended up deleting it so just wrote it out again. Looks like I've deleted someone's comment but I didn't, it was mine!

Ross Murdoch said...

Another entertaining read (the comic and the blog). It is great to discover who the "actors" playing the crew of the Enterpies are - thanks for the insight.
One thing I remember clearly about getting this issue back in '86 was my confusion at the lack of a free gift. I suppose I had been too spoiled by the flexi-disc and badge kit and thought things would continue like that.
I think my favourite strip in this issue is 'Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins'. Re-reading these early issues is reminding me of what a great character he was - sympathetic but not completely hopeless.

Phil Boyce said...

Ah I remember the days when a free gift was a special occasion, another reason to look forward to the next issue and a very special treat by keeping them few and far between and actually having decent gifts!

These days it's unfortunate that a lot of comics seem secondary to the cheap plastic rubbish publishers can fill the bags with. Oink! only had 12 issues out of 68 with free gifts but I've very fond memories of them all.

Ross Murdoch said...

I agree, the gifts felt like real treats to me at age 7. The pullout posters in the early issues were fantastic too. I only wish I had held onto them. At least they were enjoyed and used for their intended purpose I suppose.

Phil Boyce said...

All of the IPC/Fleetway and Marvel comics I got as a kid made a huge deal out of free gifts, or even 4 extra pages I remember too!