Monday, 26 May 2014

HOLIDAY SPECIAL #1 (PART TWO): A STY OF EXTRAORDINARY STRIPS


To catch up on the first 24 pages of 1987's Oink! Holiday Special

Here we go again, back to the first of the big thick special editions and while the first half had some great one-off strips, the second half treats us to more regulars, including an origin tale, a 3-page mega-strip for a fan favourite and, not excluding one-offs of course a 4-page gameshow special which has artwork that has to be seen to be believed.

But, speaking of "big thick", Tom Thug makes his first special appearance in a prequel tale of sorts, where we finally find out a little about his past.  Is it a story about how he inherited his dad's thuggish attitude?  Or why his mum only reappeared recently?  Or was he a cute baby and something went wrong?  It's actually none of the above, as creator Lew Stringer rightfully knows the big questions to ask about his own characters:


All the great mysteries of life eventually become solved, don't they?

As I've mentioned before Oink!'s letters (etc!) page would appear in specials and annuals and there's two pages devoted to them here too (examples can be seen here).  We've also got a puzzle-page with a spoof word search and the like, Frank Sidebottom's board game (the cut-out pieces were featured in the previous post from this issue), another rhyming strip from Lew Stringer in the shape of Fatty Herbert He Likes His Sherbet!! and the conclusion to the Uncle Pigg and Mary Lighthouse story which you'll see down below.

But next up is this 3-page Burp! from Banx, in which our smelly calamitous friend takes himself off on vacation.  But obviously this opens up the whole galaxy, after all he's not exactly indigenous to our planet (though smell-wise he's not far off sometimes).  Burp! was forever pissing off us humans in his attempts to befriend us and it looks like this trait of his isn't something he's simply prone to on Earth:


Now, on to holiday romances.  I've been to Turkey with two females but only got mistaken for their gay best friend, been in Florida where my friend had a crush on Chip of the Rescue Rangers (well, the girl in the costume) and in Butlin's back as a 19-year old I met a girl.... and that's all of THAT story I'm ever going to share publicly.  Whether it's the sort of thing which ends up like the ending to Grease or, more likely, a complete disaster you regret the moment you leave for the airport (experiences may vary), I'm not sure many of us could relate to Carol here.  Well, maybe some of us can relate to the other, silent character in this strip from the late, great Les 'Lezz' Barton:


By the way, no I'm not saying it's always the women who are like this, I've seen it happen the other way around!  Not with me personally of course, the women love me.  (Told you this blog would be full of good jokes.)

Kevin O'Neill.

Now for some of the readers out there the mention of that name will have made you finally sit up and pay attention to my typing, while for the rest let me just say the man is a legend in the comics industry.  Working on a multitude of titles over the years I've really enjoyed researching him for this post and he's certainly earned his fame!  Working on such titles as 2000AD, Starlord and, of course, in later years the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,  he liked Oink! and was invited on board by Lew Stringer.

You can read more about him on Lew's Blimey! It's Another Blog About Comics site here and here.  I certainly recommend you do so!

To see him here taking on such brilliantly satirical artwork and a script by Oink! editor Mark Rodgers is certainly something very special indeed!  The artwork itself is special in and of itself but to now know who was behind it makes it all the more enjoyable and, once again, it's great to see that Oink! attracted such far-ranging talent to its pages.  The sharp, sharp, sharp edges give the strip its own edgy feel and the whole thing feels like it was drawn with set-squares and those infinitely thin drawing pens we'd use in Technical Design classes back at school - I love it!  So careful you don't cut yourself on the razor sharp pictures (and wit) and enjoy The Game is Greed:


The 80s child in me came alive right there, spotting all of the contemporary celebrities we were so used to seeing on our television screen back then.  How many were you able to name?  Though thinking of how their careers went post-80s, if you're a bit younger than those of us who enjoyed this comic at the time of its release you may struggle with that one.

Look out for a superb Stringer/O'Neill collaborative in the first Oink! annual later this year and thanks to Lew for the info above!

Now before we head back to the desert island to see how Uncle Pigg and Mary Lighthouse are getting on, another artist whose work I really enjoy these days is Steve Gibson, who shares some strangely unique artwork on his Facebook page quite regularly.  More of an adult-orientated style, his work sat perfectly in the pages of Oink! alongside his contemporaries and here he is taking on the tale of Long John Pilferer:


Well that's us coming to the end of the first special edition of the comic, but it's by far the last.  But let's finish off for now just as we began last time, with Mary Lighthouse and Uncle Pigg still on their desert island, one stranded, the other just taking a well earned break.  You can check out part one here if you haven't already, then get back here for the conclusion which is also written and drawn by the perfect pairing of Mark Rodgers and Ian Jackson respectively:


Hope you enjoyed this extra issue and come back soon for the next music special goes on sale on Friday 30th May.

Bye for now!

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