Originally due on the blog on Friday 21st March.
It's quite fitting (though a coincidence) the final issue which is out of time is actually about time travel. With an uncanny impression of 6th Doctor Colin Baker, Uncle Pigg flies through time on the cover, drawn by Ian Jackson, on the final issue I'll be posting up which isn't on the date of the original comic's publication. With the next issue we'll finally be back on track!
Like with the Christmas issue, this "Time-Travel Special" sees Uncle Pigg leave the Oink! office and set out on an epic strip which is split into a few different parts throughout the issue, courtesy of writer Mark Rodgers. With no plops or pigs to back him up this time it's him on his own in a suspiciously familiar police box as he battles to find his way home, popping in and out of other characters' strips as he does so.
Unlike at Christmas though I'm going to keep the individual parts separate and in their right order amongst the rest of the comic. No reason, just feel like it this time. Hey Oink! always felt rather random, why shouldn't the blog upon occasion. It all starts innocently with Uncle Pigg uncharacteristically late to the office:
Three of the strips featured in this update actually include boss hog zooming about in the background I've just noticed. Can you find him? A piggy prize for the first person to identify all three*, really**!
(* no there's not)
(**really there's not)
Recently I found out that Psycho Gran (who has just been released upon the earth in her own brand new comic) actually only appeared in 16 issues of the regular Oink! Unbelievable! I honestly thought she was in every single one after her first appearance but 10 issues since and we've only seen her a couple of times in the pages of the comic. The following series of strips has also only popped up about the same amount of times so far:
This time brought to us by Davy Francis, the Rotten Rhymes were always imaginative. Knowing they're not going to be there every issue, just like the little old dear mentioned above, isn't a bad thing at all. Oink! was so full of different characters and random one-off or mini-series strips that there simply wasn't room for everything in every single issue. But isn't this one of the things we loved so much about it? Not knowing what to expect?
And anyway, it just makes them all the more special when they do appear.
Just before Uncle Pigg reappears there's the conclusion of Harry the Head's Big Adventure and I for one am glad he's to start reappearing in, as Marc Riley puts it at the end of the page, "everyday life" again. The ongoing serial on this occasion just didn't seem to gel together as well as other examples and seemed a bit too made-up-on-the-spot for want of a better phrase and felt dragged out at times, with disparate elements being added when all we really wanted to see was Harry and Barney having a laugh and making us do the same, rather than be in jeopardy every issue. Harry is a big part of Oink! so hopefully we'll see him again soon on the blog now.
Hopping about in time can be a dangerous thing, but unfortunately even Uncle Pigg's next installment wouldn't be enough to see pigs rule and thus the comic lasting longer than it did in the end:
Nice try though! Even if he isn't aware of what he did.
I've already mentioned Marc Riley above and even more than his strips he was known as the loveable thief Snatcher Sam in all those photo stories we enjoyed so much. But for this edition we've a slight change of plan, after all in the setting pictured we'd hardly have cameras about now would we? No, so with Mark Rodgers' script in hand it's down to Mike Taylor to reinvent Mr Riley as an actual comic star:
The Oink! writers sure do like their rhymes of late, with Music-Mad Jo last issue and another poetic piece of mirth to come from Mr Stringer next issue, which will definitely see inclusion on here!
Back to Doctor Pigg now and it's time to rocket off into the far future, exactly 1000 years from the date at the time and he's about to come up against the most feared creatures in all the universe, who wish to destroy all piggy life as we know it, who trundle about inside their pepper pot-like machinery shouting terrifying and easily marketable catchphrases into the air. Yep, take a Dalek, add a butcher's hat and apron, replace their sink plungers with actual weapons and this is what you get:
So there you go folks, there's still hope for a return of the comic, we just have to be a wee bit patient. You know I was never a fan of Doctor Who until about a year after this (Sylvester McCoy's second year was my first) but there could've been very few kids who wouldn't know all the references in this tale and I'm sure if it were about today the comic would once again have its sights keenly set on the series.
Now back as far as #3 of the comic when the cast of Star Truck came crashing in through the whole issue it was made clear the strips didn't have to stay within their own borders with this new comic. As well as official crossovers we've had characters popping up everywhere and sometimes even just a random cameo can influence the outcome of an entire story. The Star Trek spoof mentioned was a perfect example (go read and enjoy if you haven't already) and now with the editor himself lost in time and space anything is possible once more in Dave Jones' Spotticus the Slave:
As well as this story, Uncle Pigg's TARDIS could be seen flying about in Pete and his Pimple and the superbly titled Dick Tater - Dictator of Time. We'll come back for the final instalment in just a few page scrolls. But for now it's time to go from one Davy back to the other and Davy Francis' Greedy Gorb:
I sometimes found in comics that some characters became a one-trick pony, with their weekly/fortnightly antics basically being exactly the same but with a different setting. With Gorb this should feel the same, since whatever was the focus of the strip on each occasion would inevitably end up in his stomach. However Davy Francis kept coming up with novel situations to place him in and well thought out scenarios to extract the most chuckles from the chomping. He'd even get to be a cover star when Oink! became weekly.
Chas Sinclair's artwork is just perfect for stories such as the next one, written by Tony Husband. He has a knack of making a funny strip look like a serious tale and with a script like this one it's the perfect marriage. It lends it another level of absurdity and a certain comedic level similar to previous spoof strips as you could easily see this kind of artwork in a more serious comic. Until you read it. Perfect:
The next issue is going to be something of a treat for Lew Stringer fans with no fewer than three pages worth of his work and it begins now with a special 2-part Tom Thug strip. Plenty of smiling faces right now I'm sure as Tom remains a huge fan favourite as I'm sure you know (and if you don't, go read all the posts tagged with him right now if you don't want any bovver). Only because I'm working on so many issues so close together at the moment am I aware that this following page actually continues into the next edition, as I've just scanned in #25 before writing this. Anyway, I'll shush and let you get on with it:
When I read it I definitely found it funny, that should go without saying, but assumed it'd all be back to normal next time. Not so. If I were to tell you the next instalment would be entitled 'Tom Thug?', with additional question mark, are we to assume his days of brainless bullying are behind him? Of course not. But you'll have to wait a few more days until you see what happens.
But for now we can certainly round up one story, with the conclusion of Mark Rodgers' Uncle Pigg/Doctor Who crossover of sorts:
Argh! That mug again! I want my mug back! Someone is bound to have one somewhere, go on put it on eBay for me!!! Ahem, sorry. Anyone who has read the previous post concerning Oink! merchandise will know how desperately I'm after that mug. Every single day I'm on eBay searching for anything with "oink" in the title in the desperate hope of it turning up. Left it in an old workplace when I got fired (several of us got "let go" on the same day because of cutbacks, nothing I did, just to be clear!) as I just wanted to get out of there and that was in 1997! Yup, I was still using it even then. I've got a cupboard full of different cups and mugs, all different colours and logos, none match, but there's still one missing.
Anyway, I digress somewhat (but a quick plea never hurts).
(This isn't the first time Colin Baker has had the honour of having an Ian Jackson version of himself by the way, the previous one you can see here.)
Do you remember in the 80s the year 2000 seemed so far away? It sounded so futuristic. It was a year where we could look forward to flying cars, moving pavements in every town, monorails and robots to do our every bidding if our wish lists as kids were anything to go by. It was also the year the 2000AD comic would have to change its name to 3000AD to remain futuristic, according to the experts in the playground.
Well, to finish off this issue Mark Rodgers came up with the following back page which is superbly drawn in full hand-painted colour by Ed McHenry, showing us how the Oink! offices would look in that far-flung year of the future. Oh if only we'd had those extra 12 years, eh?:
That's us folks! Not just for this issue but for being behind schedule too! Woo and indeed hoo. Join me this coming Friday the 4th when #25 will actually go up without that pesky "originally due on the blog on" opening. Finally.
See you then.