First up, no I'm not a day late, I simply miscalculated before now. The fortnightlies came out every other Saturday and their dates on the cover reflected this. To post about them on the right dates in 2013 and 2014 meant they'd be up on the blog every other Friday, so when the weeklies came along and the covers states 'Every Friday' I simply moved them forward a day every week. However, now looking at the dates and how they still tally up with Saturdays, as well as remembering running to the newsagents first thing on Saturdays to get them as a child, it's clear this was the day they came out. Not Fridays. Not sure why the cover says that then but that's the case, so we're back to Fridays here on the blog. (I can remember Buster coming out on Saturdays too yet it said 'Every Monday' on the cover. Strange.)
Anyway, on to something more interesting than all that.
Welcome to the latest issue of our favourite comic and the only cover to be drawn by Davy Francis, continuing this yellow theme while introducing new readers to some of the regular characters, and this time it's the turn of Davy's creation Greedy Gorb. As mentioned last time you'll be seeing Gorb himself in strip action further down the page as his contribution to this edition is particularly funny!
Inside, the now standard start of having the Grunts section on page 2 is cut short, with a handful of adverts and Uncle Pigg simply telling us there's no room for reader's contributions due to the apparently "jam-packed fab features" to come. Those features are nicely organised onto the same pages as last time, hopefully keeping those younger readers coming back to their favourites as hoped... but surely that's what we were all doing anyway? Coming back to see how each issue was 'assembled', where our favourites were and how it all came together. Was this new way of editing Oink! paying off readership-wise?
We'll see. Looking forward things don't stay as tightly arranged as these early weeklies, so should be interesting to see how these issues evolve between now and #62.
But for now, the second half of the Grunts page is given over to David Leach and his semi-regular Radio DJ Dudley Dull. Saying that, even that monstrously entertaining Psycho Gran only ever appeared in sixteen issues of Oink! believe it or not. Yup, bet you didn't think she was in so few either, right? Well towards the end of the fortnightlies this new character appeared, tearing into the typical 80s BBC radio DJs who would just witter on and on, play atrocious music and... hang on, that's modern BBC radio isn't it?
Only joking, I am partial to a bit of Chris Evans' superb breakfast show every morning before work, Graham Norton's agony aunt sections are a hoot at the weekend, and if you happen to be near a radio when Jeremy Vine is on that's always good for a scaremongering laugh. But with the likes of Steve Wright winning 'Most Irritating DJ' in the Oink! Reader Awards 1987 back in #30 there was certainly plenty of inspiration for this character back in the 80s:
Page 7 was fast becoming the parody poster page and on this occasion it was time to welcome back Viz artist (and editor) Simon Thorpe. He's already lent his skills to some superb movie posters in Oink!, two examples of such have appeared here in the shape of his take on The Sound of Music in #29 and the brilliant Ghostbusters spoof in #40! Now he's back to bring us the latest from Ron Dibney.
As regular readers will know this was the comic's version of Disney and over the course of the run his signature would be added to some brilliant spoofs of some of the most beloved children's characters of all time. I said it before that no one was safe in this regard, which means Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are about to be turned into a pig and seven rather smelly piles of poo.
Ron Dibney's Sow White and the Seven Plops, created by Simon Thorpe:
Lew Stringer's own spoof tale of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, namely Sherlock Hams and the Hogs of the Baskervilles reaches its conclusion next week, with the week after that being the final part of Banx's mini-series featuring Hieronymus van Hellsong and our favourite love-to-hate creation Jimmy 'The Cleaver' Smith. For now though they both carry on churning out the goodness with puns, and laughs with cliches in the former, and comedy horror in the latter. I don't wish to bore you with me prattling on anymore as I have done already for three weeks about these terrific strips, so for this week I'm just going to let them do the talking:
There, wasn't that much better than me endlessly trawling on?
So back to me trawling on. It's a pleasure to see a few of the previously regular characters pop up again after taking a back seat when the comic went weekly and lost a quarter of its page count. Squeezing in Dudley above got my hopes up that we'd see some of the others come back too. Sadly no more Mr Big Nose despite all our hopes, but we do have the surprise appearance of Charlie Brooker's The Adventures of Death.
My favourites were always those where we got a glimpse into the everyday life of Death, the friends he kept and how ordinary the feared and terrifying Grim Reaper actually was. As a child my first experience of the Reaper in cinema or television was in Monty Python's Meaning of Life or in Bill Murray's superlative Scrooged when we saw a Reaper-esque Ghost of Christmas Future. But by then the damage was already done so if they were meant to be creepy in any way when you first saw them, all I saw was this lovable oaf right here:
This issue also continues Frank Sidebottom's small tour instead of a comic strip, a quiz to see if you really are invisible, the return of Cowpat County and Burp turning into a gleaming Hollywood star.
We also get the chance to have a laugh at the expense of WH Smith, the store which refused to stock Oink! with the children's comics when stuck up parents took it upon themselves to be offended on behalf of others. We've all heard about it by now in depth (and if you haven't, check out the strips under the Janice & John tag on the left there) and there's no denying it hurt Oink!'s sales having one of the major newsagent chains in mainland UK put it out of reach and out of sight. Nor did it help that they were also one of the main distributors of the comic! They even told Fleetway to change the back cover of first the annual as it originally had the tail in a different place and a little 'x' where the pig's bum was. But even when it was changed they still refused to sell it. Thankfully at the time they weren't over here in Northern Ireland in either form, though Ian Paisley did try to get the comic banned but thankfully that fell on deaf ears.
Uncle Pigg had already informed his readers upon occasion to ask for Oink! if they didn't see it on the shelves amongst the children's comics and here was the comic telling its readership the same thing but now in comic strip form. And now with added bite.
Here, Wilkie draws a not very subtle dig at said stuck up, yet hypocritical, newsagent chain. I think I've mentioned before how they had a few stores in Belfast in recent years, including a huge one in the city centre, and how now they've been reduced to just one small franchised shop you couldn't swing a cat in, inside a small train station. But as a pig pal I think it was worth mentioning again:
To finish off just four more strips.
What?! Well as I've said recently those quarter-page strips were all collected together at this stage onto one page (this gets mixed up again soon though) and the Greedy Gorb one not only brought back memories of some serious guffawing (that's the only word that suits what I did, trust me) but induced some more!
The other strips on this page compliment Gorb's spot-on humour this issue so I thought what the hell let's just scan the whole damn page in. It's been a while since we've seen Harry the Head in the blog, he'd become a bit bogged down with an almost endless crusade across America where there was no individual episode I could scan in. But now he seems to really suit the shorter format, along with fellow Marc Riley creation Doctor Mooney He's Completely Looney who was always good for a quick gag. Topping it all off is the ever-reliable and ever-funny Zootown from Haldane.
Now this is how you do quick-fire humour!:
Perfect fodder for even today's kids and their attention spans.
Harry moves from a quarter-page to the front cover next week, but not only that you'll also find THIS on the cover:
There may be some of you who have jumped to attention at that. Yes, THE Dave Gibbons and we've Lew Stringer to thank for it. More next week!