Thursday, 22 January 2015

#47: BLOCKBUSTING ENTERTAINMENT


Told you didn't I?  An ugly, horrible cover.  By that I mean of course the fact Tony Husband's Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins is the cover star, I never meant the cover itself was ugly.  My my, did you pick me up wrong?

Anyway, it appears the first handful of Oink! Weekly covers have this yellow background thing going on and this and the next few do have rather simplistic covers which, while appealing to those of us who know the characters within, may not exactly appeal to that new readership Fleetway wanted by the changes it was making.  Inside, certain strips remain the same size and in the same place and there's a neater, crisper feeling to these first few weeklies.  In other words, the humour is there is spades within each panel of each strip, but the overall edge has been lost somewhat.  Will it regain it?  When the weeklies end with #62 we'll take a look back and compare them properly with the fortnightlies while we look forward to the monthlies.  But for now enough of all that talk, what's inside?

Last week I selected The Sekret Diary ov Hadrian Vile - Aged 8 5/8 (years) as one of the issue's highlights.  As well as it being a funny strip it was also included for a superb little in-joke amongst the Oink! team, which I then completely forgot to even mention.  I've updated the post now, so nip back to see what I mean.  Well this time he's getting uploaded here too, as it's back to his always comical interactions with his new baby sister.

First appearing in the Happy Families issue (naturally) which was #37, I've fond memories of Hadrian teaching the innocent young baby the ways of the world in a way only he could.  Of course this would end up with him in all sorts of trouble, but I always loved how the baby came through it unscathed and upon occasion she was actually better at causing chaos than he was.  They were some of my favourite Oink! pages of all so here's another one in the ongoing saga, brought to you by his creators Mark Rodgers and Ian Jackson:


Now I recall after CITV on weekday afternoons a certain programme would be on which, while it was a question and answer quiz at its most basic, as a small child I watched avidly.  I hadn't a clue about any of the questions, neither did most of my family, but we still sat around together and enjoyed it - it was proper family-time entertainment.  It had one gimmick - a board of hexagonal shapes, each with a letter on it (or more than one in the 'Gold Rush'!... oooh 'citin'!) and the contestants had to connect one end of the board to the other, changing the letters to their team's colour if they got it right.  Tactical moves came into play alongside the answer-giving and let's not forget about that theme tune.

But let's do forget about that dance.

It was presented by this man:


The board and the late, great Bob Holness made the show.

But why am I going on about this?  Well because Pete and his Pimple were to appear on none other than Bustblockers (ahem) in this issue, but ace Oink! cartoonist Lew Stringer wasn't too convinced of his own attempts at a caricature of the great man above...

Can you tell?:


Interestingly this is a Pete strip written by Charlie Brooker (was there anything in Oink! he didn't have a hand in at one point or another?) for Lew and I think he's done a great job.  While Pete was always one of my favourites and I'm a huge fan of Lew's, reading back over these now it's always nice to see various writers and artists collaborating randomly throughout the comic's lifetime.  This only happened a few times for this particular strip, but ones such as Roger Rental and even Weedy Willy would be written by various people over their lifespan.  Even Harry the Head, in his new 3-panel quarter-page format was by now being written by Mark Rodgers rather than Marc Riley.

Interestingly, neither the Roger nor Willy characters are appearing in the weeklies so far, even though the latter would go on to the pages of Buster come November.

Speaking of collaborations, it's time for Lew to go from artist to writer now in the third exciting episode of Sherlock Hams and the Hog of the Baskervilles.  After being introduced to the supporting cast and doing away with the obvious butler suspect, the story has to do the inevitable and that's take Hams up to the moors:

Lew's script was brought to life by the talented Ron Tiner

If the scrawled message from the butler in his final death throes doesn't make you giggle then may I suggest you just give up on the blog right now and go and read something else instead, as there's simply no hope for you.

Moving on, sometimes a character is such a favourite it can feel like months since we saw them last on the blog when in reality it was only a few issues back.  In this case Tom Thug appeared twice in the post for the Christmas 1987 issue (#43) with both a strip and your own cut-out 'angel'.  Yet when I decided to include him this time around I was convinced it'd been a lot longer, and his large fanbase will probably agree that a few weeks is a long time to do without him.

Lew Stringer's perennial creation now has a particular full page to himself every single week (as does Pete) and for this issue the subject will be familiar to those readers who were there from day one - his bovver boots.  Tom was there right from the very beginning and his first blog appearance was with #4 where he was still trying to tie the laces of said boots, just like he'd been attempting since the preview issue.  It took a few more issues until Uncle Pigg himself lost it and threatened Tom with expulsion to Whizzer & Chips until he was able to do them up himself, albeit in a blind panic and he then couldn't undo them.

Well the boots are back to cause mayhem but be warned that last panel is rather disturbing:


At the time of writing this Tom has previously featured in no less than sixteen posts on here, a rather impressive number considering how many regulars, semi-regulars and one-offs Oink! would cram in each issue, particularly in the fortnightlies.  Only two other characters share the same amount of appearances on this site.  (Well, I'm not including Uncle Pigg there who has appeared in more posts, but far less actual strips.)  One of the others is Hadrian who you've also read about this issue, and the other is Jeremy Banx's Burp.

For a couple of months last year he appeared in almost every issue's write-up and with good reason, as the smelly alien from outer space was hitting the proverbial home run every single time, with a completely different (and somewhat gory) tale every issue.  The black humour poured out from the pages and I was simply left with no choice but to include them all.  There's even one which I couldn't include late last year as I'd already chosen too much for that issue's post and so had to made the hard decision to leave him out, purely because he'd been included so much already.  It was almost The Burp Blog at one stage.

But back he is and I'm so happy to see the style hasn't been watered down in Fleetway's attempt to bring in more young readers.  Anyone coming to Oink! with these weeklies hopefully lapped up this strange, different character and it's great fun to see his internal organs taking centre stage again.  Though where is his pet specimen from Uranus?:


Now if you're of roughly the same age as me you're bound to remember certain "boys' toys" (as they were known, but played with by both genders) of the era and the gimmicks some of them had.  Planes attached to rings you'd wear on your hands to make them 'fly' around your room.  Pull-back cars which never worked quite well enough on the deep shag carpets of the 80s.  Those little black stickers on Transformers we'd rub until our fingers were sore to see if an Autobot or Decepticon emblem appeared, even though the same emblem was moulded into the toy elsewhere (brilliantly pastiched in the first modern Transformers movie when Sam unknowingly climbs into Bumblebee for the first time).  Or how about action figures with holograms on their chest which didn't actually do anything other than look pretty in 3D when you'd interrupt your playing to hold them up to the light at exactly the right angle.

Holograms weren't the only gimmicks for action figures though.  Some had elastic bands inside so you could twist the torso then let it go for a powerful punch.  Some had levers to move eyes, or make eyes pop out to look frightened, or in the case of some of the more military-style toys they'd peculiar attachments.  Hooks, claws, webbed feet... the list was endless.  When the first live-action G.I. Joe movie came out they got around this by having the two main heroes don special futuristic all-encompassing suits, but no one actually had to live with a deadly-but-impractical weapon instead of a hand, leg, ear etc.

So thinking back to those toys you or your siblings played with, how exactly would that work in real life then?  Mark Rodgers and Wilkie are about to show you:


Finally for this week's issue, below is the third chapter in Banx's new mini-series.  After this we're halfway through the tale and there's actually no sign of you-know-who yet.  Just shadows, hints and close calls.  It builds up a great atmosphere behind the dark sense of humour and yet again Jeremy brings a certain level of light-hearted gore to the kiddies:


Hopefully there's no need to ask if you're a fan of Jeremy Banx, I'd like to think that goes without saying, but if you are then you definitely need to get over to Amazon right now where his brand new ebook Frankenthing has finally become available.  After teasing for months and months on the Oink! Facebook group it's here and you can go and purchase it yourself for Kindle (or the Kindle app on Apple's iOS etc) clicking the picture below.  It's only a couple of pounds for all the hard work he's put in and I'll be featuring a post about it this weekend right here so watch out for that too if you haven't bought it yet:


But for now that's yer lot.  After the weekend post join me again next Thursday, 30th January when #48 brings Greedy Gorb to the cover, one of his funniest strips to the inside of the issue, and a none-too-subtle dig at WHSmiths.  It's a good 'un.

2 comments:

Lew Stringer said...

I'd completely forgotten that Charlie Brooker had written a Pete script! Wow! Thanks for the reminder. I really must re-read my Oinks one day!

Phil Boyce said...

Can you remember how that came about, Lew? I've noticed the next issue Keith Forest has a go too.