Monday, 29 December 2014


Time for the middle part of the book!

Hope you had an amazing Christmastime everyone and welcome back to the second of three posts covering the greatest comics annual ever to grace a stocking.  Well, I remember some annuals being advertised as 'perfect stocking fillers', but in the case of The Oink! Book 1988 what size of stockings did parents have for Santa to fill?!

Let's get straight back to it shall we?  I waffled on long enough as an introduction to this book last time and if you're as full of turkey, ham, stuffing, pudding, minced pies and cake as I am you'll probably have trouble staying awake if I don't get on with the strips.  There's a few running themes in the annual, some obviously linked such as Hadrian Vile's interlechshual guide toe Nacheral Histry and Star Truck which are both long stories told over several pages separated into chunks.  Others gather together genres into a handful of pages at a time, all different examples of it, but all with the same idea.

Before we get to sampling some though, it's back to Mark Rodgers' and Ian Jackson's Hadrian to tell us all about the DINERSAURS!:

I wonder if that's where Spielberg got his inspiration for the accent to Mr DNA in Jurassic Park...

Onwards to the next collection of themed pages and much like the one discussed last time here's a spoof of another kind of children's comic.  Back in #36 we had our first encounter with a Dandy/Beano spoof in the shape of The Deano and a two-page riff on Dennis the Menace with Benny the Butcher.  Well The Deano makes a welcome return here... well a sort of return anyway.

You see this one in the book was created and published first but most of us would read it second as these annuals stayed on newsagent shelves and in Santa's workshop until Christmas morning.  Also, whereas it was another butcher/pig scenario before, now the book took on a different turn with the two British comics.

You see this was also the year the two titles reached their 50th anniversary and indeed I got the special commemorative book at the same time as Oink!'s first, so that was a nice juxtaposition!  To be fair it was a fascinating book for my ten year old eyes to read about how long they'd been running for, what the humour aimed at my parents was like and how they'd survived during the war.  Oink!, of course, took this celebration and turned it on its head somewhat:

A comic lasting that long should be celebrated and admired, and while Oink! had already made a point in its very creation that it had a new sense of humour (specifically aimed at those kids who felt the likes of the other titles on the market were too safe/old-fashioned/not for them) these spoofs were never meant in a negative way.  As I've said all along I too am not criticising any of the other comics we had the choice between back then, I enjoyed them and they'd raise a smile.  But the porky pink publication was the first to make me laugh out loud.  It was the first that seemed to speak to my own sense of humour - after all, aren't we all different?

As Oink! writer Graham Exton put it in a comment on this very blog:

"I can vouch for the fact that Mark Rodgers loved DC Thomson comics, such as The Dandy and The Beano.  There was a Dandy annual in the Rodgers' bathroom for guests to peruse while ablating, for example.  The Beano parodies were just that - parodies.  Usually you parody stuff you admire, otherwise it's called satire, and there's a big difference."

With that in mind let's take a look at some of the pages within this Deano.  It took up a whole five pages in the book, so along with the Tony Husband/Les 'Lezz' Barton Dennis strip, we'd also Desperate Old Man, The Last St. Old People and then a wonderful two-page spread which included some great takes on Beano favourites from none other than John Geering himself!  To the uninitiated John worked on just such DC Thomson titles!  Here's a couple of examples of how he took the hand out of them on this occasion:

For a look at John also enjoying having a good-intentioned little joke at IPC/Fleetway's own titles go and have a look at the Tom's Toe strips, in particular his first appearance in Oink! #13.

To finish The Deano though, after Little (Old) Glum and Bodger the Dodger (who is trying to find a way out of another 2000-year contract with the comic) we get Boffo the Bore from artist Philip.  Now I'm not exactly sure who this 'Philip' is (even though his signature bares a striking resemblance to my own) but it's a perfect end to the perfect large-scale spoof only a big Oink! book such as this could bring us:

While annuals did go on sale in the summer, they invariably contained Christmas-themed tales or ones which were perfect to read at that time of year.  Now last time we had The Truth About Santa Claus and if, as a child reader, you recovered from that home truth by snuggling down with your favourite soft toy you were about to get another rude awakening!  So, years before Toy Story, those soft teddies were next on the agenda from Dave Jones, who started his professional comics career with Oink! and later in life would move on to contribute to, and edit, Viz.

There was just something wonderful about a children's comic taking a twisted and warped look at things which were usually a safe haven for kids, and the unsettling strips continued within the book were second-to-none.  From Mr Big Nose dispatching his greatest fear in cold blood, to a Frankenstein-esque tale of the creation of a disgustingly grotesque comedian in the shape of Bernard "Mannin", the following tale sat perfectly within such pages:

Nice reference to Lew Stringer in there too and look out for one of his very best strips in the final part of the annual in a few days.

Now before we head on to the next couple of strips it's time to once again see what the GBH boys want us to buy.  What's the next big Christmas fad going to be?  What are parents up and down the land going to have to make sure is waiting for their kids from ol' St Nick?  Surely they can't lose with this - from one of the very best Madvertisements the comic produced:

Have you bought the brand new Psycho Gran comic yet?  First covered here on the blog way back in March this year and still available, the first issue is to be followed up in 2015 so go and grab yourself a cheap-as-chips last Christmas present of the very highest quality!  Creator David Leach has written and beautifully drawn and coloured an entire comic dedicated to the woman which contains a whole load of brand new material and just a couple of updated Oink! strips.

As well as her very first appearance (which was in Oink! #15 by the way) the other strip to get a fresh coat of paint came from this very book.  So for fans old and new alike, here's the original version of that infamous dog-themed tale, and just below it I've kept in one of the several nice little additions from readers which made their way onto various pages throughout:

I can remember the very first time I read that Psycho Gran strip, I thought it was just so incredibly funny!  Also, I may have repeated that poem once (or twice) too often to friends and family...

Finally for this post we move onto another themed section of the book.  Now I come to think of it, were these bits a way of carrying on that idea of having whole issues of themes in the fortnightlies?  Whether they were or not, they fit the bill brilliantly and my favourite of such strips from the book is the next one, taken from this special Adventure Section:

The more eagle-eyed among you (and that didn't include me first time round I have to say, only when reading these for the blog did I spot it) may think there's something awfully familiar about that picture above.  That's because part of it, created for this publication, was used back last Christmas in Oink! #17 as part of the TV listings page.  Yes, this book really was created that far in advance, and judging by the likes of such artists as Lew Stringer on his blog, deadlines are still as far ahead as ever these days.

But back to the past.  I'm a huge James Bond fan, absolutely huge, though that wasn't until roughly 1993 when I discovered Licence to Kill in the local video store, rented The Living Daylights afterwards, was crushed that there weren't any more Timothy Dalton movies and so moved back to Roger Moore, all before their return was announced with Goldeneye.  Ah, good times.

Even though Timothy had already taken over from Roger, and Octopussy had been followed by two more films since its release, both it and Moore were perfect fodder (moreso than any other) for the following strip.  Written by the genius mind of Mark Rodgers and drawn by Tim Thackeray, a name I believe was new to the comic at this point and who was kind enough to confirm in an email that this was indeed his work.  You can check out a simply sublime selection of creative work by Tim on his website at, it's a real treasure trove!

Back to his Oink! work here and this is the perfect example of what I was talking about above with The Deano - I love Bond but just adore this strip too:

The Adventure Section also contains Police Vet, a great take on 70s cop shows (who would return in one of the monthly Oink!s the following year), Ena Blighty's Five Go Adventuring Yet Again and that superb GBH mad' above.  Then that takes us into the final third of the book and so to the end of this post.  It's been fun so far hasn't it?

As well as the final section of The Oink! Book 1988 before the end of the year, check the blog around midnight on the 31st and in the evening of the 1st for a couple of (further) additional posts.  That's all I'm going to say for now, other than we've got 18 weekly editions to follow all this holiday hog.  It's a good time to be reliving it all, so I hope you'll join me again in a few days.

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