Friday, 13 June 2014


I've mentioned the old 80s TV show Spitting Image before on the blog and here we are at the ripe age of 30 issues and the programme makes a starring appearance (though not mentioned as such) on a wraparound cover poster and across the middle pages of the comic.  Even though it was only rarely that the programme would do something not really suitable for kiddies, it was still broadcast after 10pm on Sunday nights but I think almost all of my friends and I were allowed to stay up to watch it.  Though in our own bedrooms as our parents usually couldn't stand it.

The occasion in Oink! is the announcement of who won the 1987 awards which readers had been voting on since the start of the year and don't forget you can still vote in the 2014 version of the same awards right here on the blog.  The categories are below and I'm extending the deadline until the end of Sunday 15th June so that they can have their own post all to themselves and not take away space from this brilliant issue.  So if you'd like to take part here's what you can vote for:

Let me know by emailing me your submissions or by sending me a private message on social media (and don't worry you don't have to befriend me first ha!).

Anyway, back to the present, well the past really.  We'll leave the awards results until the very end and begin with Mark Rodgers' and Ian Jackson's Mary Lighthouse unwittingly introducing us to the theme of celebrities.  Am I weird for finding the puking policeman so damn funny?:

Mary is also the subject of one of our final free postcards, with the mantle being handed to the above artist to bring his own unique blend of jagged edges to the postal services of the world:

Free postcard #5
Free postcard #6

Wouldn't that last one make a great viral marketing campaign, dropping through the letterboxes of the country?  Much better than free copies of vile tabloids!  Uncle Pigg may look like a very rough and angry character for a kids comic there to the uninitiated, but to those of us in the know he was just a cuddly plump loveable pig.

Sometimes I wonder how well received Oink!'s celebrity parodies are in this blog when it comes to younger readers who may be reading all of this for the first time.  Recently Dazed & Confused magazine ran a series of articles on Frank Sidebottom (which you can now read here) and one of the pieces was about our favourite porky periodical, in which Patrick Gallagher stated how relevant the humour of the comic is to this day and pointed towards how popular this wee blog has become as proof of that.  I agree!  Over 20,000 hits at the time of writing this just shows how much everyone is enjoying this comic these days.  So maybe I'm not giving "the kids" enough credit when it comes to pages like the following one, which packs in more digs at celebrities than a whole episode of Spitting Image, with artwork by Steve Gibson to match:

Makes me think things like that E! channel are just crying out for Oink! to have a go at them.  Indeed, on a similar note, while even back in the 80s the 'celebrity gossip' culture was ripe for this kind of parody, these days it seems like there's a whole industry built around it.  One title that is unbelievably still going strong after all these years in The Weekly News, a magazine I can remember my mother buying all those years ago and one which deserved the following rightly:

Also unbelievably, it's been 21 issues since I scanned in a Rubbish Man strip!  Well I'm about to rectify that right now with a long overdue tale from Haldane which sits in the issue right next to a great Burp from Banx.

Take any comic from any decade and most of the time it's full-page strips from front to back.  It was rare for this to happen for more than a page at a time in an issue of Oink! and if you show this particular double-page spread to any kid today I guarantee they'd be hooked.  Bold, different artwork for a kid's comic and surreal stories grabbed us back then and it'd work perfectly again today.  Particularly Burps's rather comically graphic page.

Go on, show them these two pages, just as they're presented in the issue and see what their reaction is:

We've had a gossip column expert's opinion on 80s celebrities and a gossip mag's headline grabbing stories, but let's face it we're missing out on the one person who can truly give us a proper expert analysis of celebrity culture, a look into what constitutes being a famous person in the modern world, their daily life, how fame shapes these people and how in turn they shape the world around them and the lives of those they touch.

You know, something actually intellectual.

Or at least interleckshual:

Another Ian Jackson masterpiece there and fun to see his versions of these public figures.  Actually this isn't the only time the now-late Margaret Thatcher would appear in this issue as she'd star alongside Mary Lighthouse as childhood friends (naturally) in the story of how the critic and the editor first met.  Dead Fred appears in a special edition of TV show This is Your Death and the Wonder Pig, this time going by the name of Lattie, would yet again come to the disastrous rescue when his owner fell down another pit.

Nearly at our awards ceremony now, but before the main event I just wanted to put up this from an unknown artist.  Earlier in the issue we'd a funny half-page profile of Hamadonna along with a small picture of her, but here we're treated to this rather lovely full-page painting randomly in the midst of all the strips.  I've asked about with the Oink! crew and no one seems to know or remember who drew it and for once the internet doesn't seem to hold the answer either.

If you know the artist please do get in touch via the comments section so that I can give the credit where it's most definitely due, but in the meantime not knowing who is behind it is no good reason not to share this:


Anyway, it's time to name and shame.  Readers' votes were counted and verified and here's Uncle Pigg (as drawn by Patrick Gallagher here) with the top three nominees in each of the not-at-all-sought after categories.  Shouldn't come as a surprise to see Maggie getting more mentions here too.  In fact more mentions than anyone else:

Now obviously the cover poster gave some of it away, but who has won the rest?  Well I'll put it off no longer.  The above was page 15, with the whole awards ceremony taking over the middle 4 pages of the comic and an appearance by two actual celebrities!:

John Peel had already contributed to an issue of Oink! with his A Day in the Life of a DJ back in #16 so go check that out if you haven't already.  But kudos to Steve Wright for coming along to accept the award for The World's Most Irritating DJ which I'll have to share this on his Twitter feed.  Shows what a great sense of humour he must have about himself and it's so unfortunate that Oink! never did do these awards the following year, despite these being described as "the first".  A brilliant idea and must've been huge fun to collate the results since they were from kids.  Let's face it kids don't hold back on what they think!  I'm sure this photo session must've been a riot to be part of too.

But we've a few other categories to go, so to finish off our 4-page special section here's the remainder of the winners.  Given the masks used above it's funny to see what won the first one of this lot:

Then again, I don't think Spitting Image's song was ever written to be anything but annoying, that was its whole point; it was taking the piss out of awful summer holiday songs after all.  Can you imagine what fun Oink! would've had in the early 2000s with that bloody Crazy Frog thing?

Now I know my older brother collected The Beano when I was a kid and I did read and enjoy it but once I got into Oink! it seemed so 'safe' by comparison and after a while I stopped reading it.  Obviously a lot of readers must've agreed that pigs spoke more to their sense of humour, or rather Oink! was shaping us.  Pretty good to convert us from such a long-time read.  But I just wanted to say as a side note you'd do a lot worse than to buy your kids today's Beano as, just like back then, it's a quality read.  But these days it contains some superb input from the likes of Oink!'s very own Lew Stringer, as well as those who read Oink! as kids such as the superbly talented Andy Fanton and Jamie Smart, as well as the highly original Stu Munro amongst many others.

But for now it's time to wrap up and look forward to the next issue which is the American-themed one with the funky stars and stripes logo.  The 'next issue' panel this time starts off with declaring "America, the Beautiful... (... but not when we're finished with it!)" so it should be one to look forward to!

Also before the next issue there's that special edition of Oink! I've promised you which became available on Thursday 25th June 1987 when I was but a young buck, but which I'd no idea existed until about 5 years ago!  What is it?  Not telling, it's a surprise, but it'll cover the Spectrum of Oink! characters, so it doesn't take a genius to compute it's not to be missed, so it'll be here in twelve days for your enjoyment, as long as Blogger doesn't Crash!

In the meantime don't forget to vote on the 2014 version of the awards above (by this Sunday night at the time of writing) and the results will be up in a few days, then #31 will be on sale on Friday 27th June.  Happy days.

I'll leave you with this from Marc Riley's Doctor Mooney.  He's completely looney, you know:


George Shiers said...

I love how the've done that to The Beano, actually named and included an image of it too!

George Shiers said...

That's not to say The Beano is bad of course, but it's a brave move by IPC.


Got to see Oink for the first time in many a year last Thursday at the British Library … and, alas, it didn’t seem as great as I remembered. Looking back, it seemed patronizing to give The Beano an award for being the world’s worst comic. Apart from anything else it wasn’t The Beano’s fiftieth birthday till the following year, not that year, 1987, as stated; Oink’s merciless sneering rebounded upon it. Yes, I do know what a joke is, yes, I do know what a mistake is, and yes I have got old and embittered in the intervening years!

Phil Boyce said...

I think you've kind of missed the whole point here ;) This was voted by the readers, not the editorial crew and so it was just an honest reflection of the readers' points of view and had nothing to do with the anniversary. It's only mentioned because this was the year DC Thompson were celebrating the 50th anniversaries with their own book.

However, as stated elsewhere in the blog - - I can assure you Mark Rodgers (creator and editor) was a huge fan of DC Thompson and their output and Oink!'s spoofs of them were simply parodies (and you parody what you admire) while at the same time making a point about the British comics industry at the time. Nothing rebounded on Oink! here, it's not like the readers voting for it here was the reason Oink! was cancelled in the long run. That topic is still being covered in the blog. :)