Saturday, 28 September 2013

THE STREETHOGS - PART TWO

Bombarded with Ham Grenades, which explode on contact with "piggy flesh", after chasing down the mafia, is there any escape for the 'Hogs? Of course there is! There always is! But there's no way you'd ever be able to guess exactly how Mark Rodgers and J.T. Dogg would do it. With a cameo from our very own editor, here's the next three installments of The Streethogs, and the next three parts will be with you in (roughly) two weeks. Hogs Away - again!

Issue 3

Issue 4

Issue 5

For more background information on the strip check out part one by clicking here (or just scroll down or to the next page if you're not lazy, there's other Oink! goodness inbetween!)

Now anyone else wish they'd released Matchbox toys of those bikes??  Anyway:

Friday, 20 September 2013

#11: ON YER BIKE!


Well I hope you liked the first StreetHogs installment I put up (it's the post before this one), you've got some brilliant strips to look forward to but for me it's all over.  This issue sees the last part of the 'Hogs first story and the comic celebrated with a biking theme and a wraparound cover poster - which you'll see soon in the porky threesome's final update.  As ever, their artwork above is by J.T. Dogg and just wait until you see your special "free" motorbike below!

So we start with Uncle Pigg not welcoming us on page 2 again, but instead a riff on a very popular kids' favourite who is still going strong today, albeit he hasn't quite grown up in the way Oink! predicted:


"Ena Blighty" would have her creations pop up again, with the Famous Five being a particular target of the comic but here, just like the Disney comics last issue, the Noddy children's titles were recreated perfectly... and ripped to pieces!  Now where's that Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends spoof...!

The first few pages have got nothing but motorbikes, with Uncle Pigg running over Mark Lighthouse who'd been on the street campaigning against the comic not mentioning road safetly... after which our esteemed editor reminds the viewers to never "stand in the middle of the road waving your arms about!".  Zootown, Hugo the Hungry Hippo, the Golden Trough Awards, even the Plops and a new superhero Hedgehog Boy would all mark the theme of biking and road travel brilliantly.  I'm sure it doesn't take a genius to work out how that final strip ends.

Before you finish this blog and head out on the road yourself today, Oink! takes a brief break to get all serious about safety for its younger readers, so make sure you're up to speed on the new Highway Code before your travels:

Writer/artist unknown

Marc Riley - you'll probably know him as the BBC DJ and presenter on 6Music.  But don't let the Daily Mail see this blog!  They'll have it on the front page before you know it - "BBC Presenter's Criminal Past".  Yes, that very same Marc Riley was Oink!'s very own Snatcher Sam!

A regular character in joke photo stories, Sam was a rubbish thief.  Okay, yes, anybody reading the comics along with the blog will know we've seen him triumphant on one occasion but that was only because he'd beaten another criminal to the "loot".  Inevitably Sam's schemes always failed and he'd get his comeuppance at the end of the strip.  Although his antics didn't stop him garnering a legion of fans and even female admirers - in this particular issue on the Grunts letters page we hear how "Fay Solman from Surrey recently told us of her feelings for the famous filching fiend!"

So here's Marc, in all his striped jumper glory:


There'll be much, much more from Snatcher Sam as we go along, including some crossovers with a certain papier-mache-headed superstar!

The StreetHogs are definitely the highlight of this issue, with a 3-page finale that takes over the middle pages, Rubbish Man teams up with Snail Man, and Ian Nasalcavity Visits His Grand-Parents is another delightfully surreal highlight from Banx.  So why am I leaving them out?  I told you, this is so tough trying to decide what to include - to make sure you see all the various artists, characters and the general randomness of Oink! does mean some brilliant strips etc. have to be left to the side.  Otherwise, let's face it, it could very easily become the Mr Big Nose show!

So yes, on to that "free cut-out motorbike".  You've got your glue, your card, your safety scissors and parental supervision.  All you need to do is follow the instructions:


Simple enough?

On to a couple of brief one-gag strips.  Part of the fun of Oink! was never knowing what to expect in layout as much as stories!  Roger Rental gets a full page this issue, and no one regular is on the page you'd expect at any time.  Whereas the Dandy in its later stages did introduce more 3-panel comics they were always neatly collected together on their own pages but with Oink! there were no rules.  You just don't get this in kids' comics.

Our first quick strip here takes us back to Marc Riley.  As well as starring as Sam above he also had his own strips and we've seen one of his creations already - Harry the Head.  Another regular of his was When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, which usually involved the prehistoric beasts in some form of off-the-wall contemporary situation, such as:


Right below this the ever-superb Ian Jackson takes on a thrilling sci-fi monster movie... of sorts:


Oink! attracted some amazing talent and surely Andy Roper has to rank right up there.  When I read this issue I instantly thought I recognised his work until I realised he contributed quite a bit to issue 1, but actually it was my young brain associating him with IPC's action titles which he so brilliantly mocks in his Oink! work.  He appears with this excellent one-off Scruff of the Track, written by the ever brill Mark Rodgers and check out his label in Stuff in the Sty on the left there to see his many wonderful contributions to the comic, including the classic Spectacles of Doom! serials:


Great stuff.  Looks very traditional, something which wouldn't look out of place in an 80s action comic as I mentioned above, that is until you read it.  Andy must've relished drawing this script, with the intricate level of detail IPC (and later Fleetway) fans had become accustomed to.  Looks lovely on the glossy paper too, though you'll just have to trust me on that one.  Giving over two full pages to a one-off strip like this really drew attention to it - you knew it was going to be something really special.

And we're at our inside back page yet again, page 31 and remember the introduction to the G.B.H. mail order company back in #9's small quarter-page madvertisement?  Two issues later and they've already made enough money off those poor suckers... um, loyal customers, that they've got the marketing budget for a full page, full colour ad for their latest cycling gear:


These catalogues would never cease to crease me up I remember and from the ones I can recall there'll be plenty more like this to come on the blog!

So yup, that's another issue all done but at least you know you don't have to wait another full fortnight as the 'Hogs will be back before then.  On a quick side note this has been a brilliant week for me as an Oink! fan - not only has this blog surpassed a remarkable 5,500 views but the Facebook Group also passed a milestone of 600 members!  Uncle Pigg's Pig Pack is back in force it'd seem!

Next issue on sale Friday 4th October.

Monday, 16 September 2013

THE STREETHOGS - PART ONE

Where do you start?  The script or the art?  There's simply no way you could separate the two!

Many Oink! readers will remember these particular characters with great affection either from this, their first epic tale or, as it was with me from their triumphant return later in the run.  At the time I started collecting Oink! I remember TV-AM (yes folks, this really is a long time ago isn't it?) was showing the 60s version of the Batman TV show before school every day.  Now while that in itself could be seen as a spoof programme and was completely ludicrous, the StreetHogs felt to me like they were taking the mickey out of it and turning it up to 11.

A spoof of all those Saturday morning serials with their constant, never-ending cliffhangers from one episode to the next, these pigs were written by Mark Rodgers and brought to life through the amazing artwork of J.T. Dogg.  It's so sad to think that these two great talents are no longer with us, so with the Hogs' first story coming to an end in #11 this coming Friday I thought what better way to pay tribute than to serialise them all over again, right here.

You'll be glad to know, like the previous poster updates (also including amazing J.T. Dogg-ness) I'll be leaving the strips to do the talking in these little extra blog entries.  So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, parts one to three of...

THE STREETHOGS!

From the preview issue.

Issue 1

Issue 2

Just like back then you've now got two full weeks to wait to see what happens next!  If you didn't read these first time around believe me when I say it just gets even more... well... there's not really any way to describe it is there?  Not any way that does it justice that's for sure.

So come back soon for parts four to six, and this Friday for the aforementioned #11.

Friday, 6 September 2013

#10: BACK TO THE GRIND(ER)


What a cover, yeah?  And when I came across it to write this blog entry I instantly recognised the art style, but I simply put it down to probably seeing Mike Roberts' work in Oink! at some stage as a kid and my old grey cells kicking in.  Well the grey cells were trying but they weren't completely catching, as it was actually every Commodore 64 owner's favourite stingey budget game reviewer, the Roger Frames character from Commodore Format, that I remember this artwork from.  Ahh, even more memories than normal.

Love the cover though and this issue is rammed with classic strips.  If you're thinking of collecting some issues on eBay and don't know where to begin you could do a lot worse than picking up #6 and this one to get you started!  Speaking of which, instead of Uncle Pigg it's Tony Husband who starts as the comic means to go on:


In fact our editor would only make fleeting appearances in this issue on a competition page, his own Grunts letters page, introducing a Pigg Tale and in an advert for those 'Prime Porky Products' of Oink! merchandise.  Mary Lighthouse would have a half vertical page to herself, but this issue Mr Pigg takes a back seat to the regulars and guest stars.

This following strip I just had to share on my own personal Facebook page, nevermind the actual Oink! group one, the day before this blog entry when I was scanning them in:


Banx's Mr Big Nose steals the show on a regular basis.  Usually sitting on the bottom half of page 2 at this point, his surreal and always unexpected gag would always come from so far down the left field I challenge anyone to say they ever saw any of the jokes coming!  The above strip was well received on Facebook - I just love showing off this classic comic's timeless humour and surely none could be more appealing to adults now than Mr Nose.

If there's ever one Oink! character you could guarantee would relish the theme of this issue it'd be Hadrian Vile.  Obviously "relish" as in have plenty to say about NOT going back!  This issue would also include a page of the St. Phlopp's Skool Magerzine, but the actual Sekret Diary story won out for me:


Again Ian Jackson's artwork and that deliberately badly typed wording combine to give an anarchic and original slant on the usual schoolboy humour and of course the actual scripts from Mark Rodgers were in themselves works of art.  Hadrian is still one of my all-time favourite comics characters and he's the perfect example of how things would come together in Oink! in perfect harmony (yes, it's late and I've had way too much coffee) to create something which, on its surface, looks completely random but is actually so perfectly designed in every way.

Very, very 'Oink!'.

If you're able to get a copy of this issue you'll notice I've included everything from the first three pages.  By this stage I was beginning to worry there'd be no way I could pick just highlights from the next 29!  Hard work, but I hope you like the selection...

One source of plenty of spoofs in the pages of the comic was Disney, and no character was safe.  I'm not going to spoil any surprises so I'll stick with the first character for you.  My first run in with Dumb Old Duck was in The Oink! Book 1988, but here he is in his first appearance, in the inaugural Ron Dibney strip:


Perfectly mimicking the Disney comic strips of the day, artist Clive Collins does a fantastic job of parodying the Disney style.  Clive's body of work is, like most Oink! contributors, quite amazing and you could spend your evening doing much worse than exploring the extensive galleries of his website, including work for Punch and even for the BBC on a range of Christmas Cards, and Oink! fans themselves will know him well from Maggie Pie, Collector of Weird Things.  As for the cartoon spoofs, keep an eye out for more and believe me when I say no character is safe.  If you think the magical world of Walt is untouchable, think again.

Quick!  I haven't had a comical shark in a while:


Ah, thank you Roger Rental and Ian Knox, much appreciated.

A few years ago I'd collected near enough the complete collection of Oink!, which then I passed them on a year or so later when life circumstances changed and focus had to be elsewhere.  But, of course, you can't keep a good pig down and here I am collecting all over again and doing this blog too.  However, I remember taking some of the comics which had arrived in the post to my former girlfriend's house as I hadn't had a chance to flick through them to check them and I was just casually doing so while she was completely tuckered out and curled up asleep on the sofa.  Her head was resting on my legs and I was doing my very best not to laugh at the Graham Norton show on TV, so as not to wake her up.

I'm a nice, considerate boyfriend.  Well...

I was doing a very good job of it too, until I flicked through this issue (checking all pages were intact, can never be too careful with eBay), and this caught my eye:


Well that was it.  I erupted!  She jumped up, shocked awake!  I tried to apologise but I couldn't stop laughing... when I eventually calmed down and explained I WASN'T laughing at scaring her awake, I showed her what had done it.  One strange look and a shake of the head later and the status quo returned, albeit with me in the bad books for the night.

Was worth it though.

The above was drawn by Ed McHenry, and as I've said before I didn't read all the comics before passing them on, mainly just the ones I already had fond memories of, so this blog is still a whole new experience with some of these, including the rest of this issue.

One of the regulars that hasn't been introduced yet is David Haldane's Billy's Brain strip.  The set up is basically Billy's uncle was a genius and left Billy his brain in his will.  Yup.  However, this is a REALLY smart brain and can move of its own accord, has it's own independent thoughts even with its body dead and buried and now, free from the restraints of an old man's shell, sets out on the exciting adventures he never could before.

In the first half dozen or so issues we'd see two crooks try and fail to steal the brain for their own nefarious (blimey this coffee is strong) needs.  But this issue Billy's back at school and the strip settles down to showing daily life for the brain instead, which for me is much more entertaining anyway:


If you're wondering what the front cover's "Skiver's Survival Kit" is, it was a middle page spread of cut-out extras to help you through your school day, like a false report card, stick-on measles, a furry tongue(!) so you could be sent home, cut out nits to place in your hair, or false doctor's and dentist's appointment cards amongst other things.

This issue would also see the penultimate part of the epic StreetHogs story which started right back in the preview issue.  These guys (and girl) are fondly remembered by all Oink! fans and even though I'd first come across them in their second adventure later in the run they were still a highlight of my whole time with the comic as a kid.  The 'next issue' caption on the inside back cover also focuses on the 'Hogs as the next issue would have them as a kind of headline strip, which would be their final in Oink! for some time, to be replaced by the equally bizarre Ham Dare, Pig of the Future.

But why am I telling you all this when I haven't scanned any in?  Come back to the blog before the next issue and you'll see why, but to end off this edition how about a special one-off Banx extra?:


Next issue on sale Friday 20th September, but remember to come back sometime before then.