No, it's not Halloween, but Oink! decided to celebrate spookiness anyway with an issue which is less themed and more centred around a kind of adventure game, with the occasional little strip here and there backing up the tagline "The Comic For Creeps" on the front cover there. One such example had Terry Wogham interviewing typical Oink! readers. And for "typical" of course we mean a random selection of creeps, monsters and reformed butchers. While #3 was themed near enough cover-to-cover, #4 was less so and this one seems to take an even more Diet Coke approach which surprised me upon reading it.
You could say Oink!'s regular strips are full of weird and insane characters as it is anyway and so no differences were needed to the scripts, but trust me, Oink! did take the themed approach and while this is very light on it, it still counts. However, you'll see how the idea goes from strength-to-strength from the next issue onwards.
But for now, YOU are Barry the Butcher! Remember those adventure books where you could choose the way the story was told? They'd be mini-novels and at the end of each page you'd be given a choice of which page to turn to next. For example the character could be faced with a spooky house or a haunted forest, turn to page 'x' to enter the house, or page 'y' to walk towards the forest. Well, that was just ripe for the Oink! treatment:
Artist Ralph Shephard would draw one of my all-time favourite Oink! parodies, but you'll see that soon enough. And I'm sure you can probably guess what the message from Uncle Pigg was on the Grunts page - yep, the mysterious stranger was Uncle Pigg himself and there was never any way Barry could escape! Well, he was a butcher after all.
There was a very unique character (weren't they all?) who made his first appearance in #3 and then reappeared in this issue of the comic, however he's not going to make his first blog appearance just yet. This is simply because his creator, Jeremy Banx, recently tweeted this very second appearance of Mr Big Nose (yes, straight to the point with the name there) so some of you will have already seen it recently. So I thought I'd save Mr Big Nose for another issue and some strip which won't have seen the light of day in the last 27 years... but in case you missed it:
To say Mr Big Nose's strips were surreal is simply to undersell them. In fact to sum them up by using one word such as that is a complete cop out. Banx would just continue to get more and more, well now I've kind of made it impossible to explain the series, but the tweet above is only the tip of the iceberg.
Some of our regulars had particularly good entries this time around, but one character (or should that be plural) who could be found in these early editions but not later in the run was Noel Ford's Nigel and Skrat the Two-Headed Rat:
Appearing right from the preview issue, this was unfortunately their final regular outing but they would reappear in the following year's Holiday Special. Reading back on these now I can't remember them from my childhood but I find them so lovable, even Skrat! There's something very 'Me, Myself & Irene' about them.
Noel is a very accomplished artist too, and one visit to his site here shows just how busy the man's career has been! Plenty of work there that I'd no idea came from a previous Oink! contributor! Small world indeed.
A few years ago The Dandy was relaunched and creatively was just superb, bringing the emphasis back to having plenty of comic strips for kids to read rather than cheap plastic toys and movie reviews. One of their new features was the 'Madvertisement' - mock advertisements for any manner of random nonsense. However, the idea had been done before, here illustrated by co-editor Patrick Gallagher:
Oink! had featured silly ads before now, for example the one for kids jealous they didn't have a new BMX bike like all their friends: "Just buy the 'Supa-Dupa-Hammer' and smash up everybody else's bikes!"
But this was the first time one had had the 'Madvertisement' label. Later in the run a certain fictional mail order brand would be the main 'company' to have these fake adverts, but this was a great start and, with The Big Bang Theory in full swing at the time of writing, this one in particular strikes a chord today. The Madvertisements were great for poking fun at near enough everything kids actually wanted, never afraid of having a go at the big craze of the moment, even though the readers could very well be into the products being targeted.
Later issues would see some of my favourites of the day being lampooned, but it was like seeing your favourite celebrity on Spitting Image. It proved how popular they were (they'd 'made it' if they appeared on Spitting Image or in Oink!) and you were so happy to have a giggle at their expense, as it was all done in an affectionate way and never cruel.
Well we're near the end of another issue for another fortnight. These past two weeks in particular have been so enjoyable. More and more people are once again enjoying the world's greatest comic which is testimony to the enduring humour and the hard work put in all those years ago. I've seen Oink! contributors share information on the blog in social networks, had more people follow me and talk to me on Twitter, even add me as a friend on Facebook (feel free!) and comment on here too. This is only issue 5, I can't wait to see where this goes.
I'm also making a few tweaks to the blog, like the labels cloud and a Google+ box soon, I'll be updating The Comics page too and I'll be making character/artist references more prominent... basically, I've realised how many people are wanting to read up on Oink! and so I'm very conscious of making this the best blog I can. Also look out for a couple of additional updates soon. But I know you're not here to read my wafflings though (ha!) so I'll leave you with one more cartoon from Tony Husband:
Next issue on sale Friday 12th July.