Friday, 6 February 2015

#49: MAD AS A BOX OF GIBBONS


Not to take away from Marc Riley's Harry the Head on the cover, but there's a little box there on the right (included at the end of the last issue's blog post) which is the main attraction here for me.  Back in 1988 I didn't really understand the importance of there being a superhero strip by some bloke named Dave Gibbons inside this issue of my comic, nor did I know there was a joke even in the way this little box was designed.  The strip was superb, but I was left to guess that this man must be famous or something and I just enjoyed the strip and the rest of the issue in ignorance.

Of course as a 37 year old man who has quite recently become acquainted with the world of 2000AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine I'm in a somewhat better position now to fully appreciate the significance here!  In fact I think it's a crying shame it wasn't plastered all over the cover, or at the very least in big writing above the logo (the part of the comic people would've seen on the shelves of their newsagent).  While Fleetway had shifted Oink! to a weekly format and the team had tried to bring a little bit more regularity to the contents of the comic in order to attract and retain younger readers (the original target demographic) the inclusion of Dave Gibbons here would've been a definite selling point for those teens and older readers Oink! had already attracted.

Dave had worked on the very first issue of 2000AD and has penned some incredible strips in his time on that and many, many other publications - Batman, Superman, Hellblazer, The Originals, Aliens: Salvation, Doctor Who, Hulk, Green Lantern... the list is massive and far too huge to feature here.  But of course, as well as working heavily on 2000AD's Judge Dredd, Dan Dare and Harlem Heroes he was also co-creator of such iconic serials as that comic's Rogue Trooper and of course Watchmen.  Yes, that Watchmen.

Hence the way that "little box" was designed.  This issue of Oink! was after all published in the early part of 1988, mere months after the original release of Watchmen.

We have Lew Stringer to thank for this happening as they'd been friends for several years at this point and, as detailed in Lew's own blog post about this strip, Dave's son was a regular reader of Oink! (and Transformers - what marvellous taste he had) and after the two of them discussed it Lew approached editor Mark Rodgers about the possibility of Lew writing a script for Dave to draw.  I'm sure Mark's reaction was a picture!

But anyway enough with the build up, where's the actual page?  Having worked on everything from 2000AD's anti-heroes to Marvel and DC's more traditional superheroes he's the perfect choice to show us The Superhero's Day Off!  Enjoy:


If you'd like to read more about the background and making of this brill strip head over to the post all about it on Lew's Blimey! It's Another Blog About Comics by clicking right here.

How on earth can we possibly follow that?  One of the UK comic scene's best humour strip writers and cartoonists working with one of the UK and USA's top comic artists.  It's a tough call to come up with something to lead us through the rest of this issue after that obvious highlight.

Ah, I've got it.  How about an awful pun?  Courtesy of Kev F Sutherland?  Okay then:


Ah there we go, and on we go.

Well, actually, no we don't because we've simply moved on to the Oink! Blog debut of the talented Kev F, another UK cartoonist with an illustrious history of superb work, so time for another list of randomly selected titles from a simply fantastic body of work.  The Beano, Ghost Rider 2099, Doctor Strange and Viz to name but a few to begin with, Kev has also self-published such titles as Hot Rod Cow and The Hawk, as well as editing mid-90s adult comic UT.

Excitingly though, Oink! was amongst the very first published works for this great cartoonist.

Of course I can't mention Kev F without also bringing up the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre and his Lightning Fast Caricatures site.  He's a talented chap, isn't he?  Of course he also has his own official site and it's available on the left there along with the sites of other Oink! creators in the (Sausage) Links section.

Speaking of great talent, some of the drawings sent into Oink! by its readers were sometimes absolutely stunning and showed just how the comic appealed to much more than just that target demographic mentioned above.  The fortnightlies' edge and random appeal saw readers of eight-to-eighty enjoying thirty-two pages of piggy perfection every issue, so would the weeklies' slightly younger feel put them off?  Actually, no.  But we'll get to that in a future issue.  For now, here's a selection of such artwork from that great variety of pig pals in the results to a special The Slugs competition.

The idea was to create a record sleeve for the dreadfully, awfully, terribly likeable band, with the winners walking away with one-off t-shirts and mystery piggy prizes.  The winner and top two runner-up participants also got to see their work printed in this issue and I just had to show them to you:


Staying on the subject of prizes, Oink! also got to show off itself this week with the news three of its artists had won awards during 1987.  Tony Husband, Clive Collins and Pete Dredge all won some great accolades and, never one to blow its own trumpet, Oink! gave over a half page to let its readers know of their successes:


Oink! really was a top quality publication produced by the very cream of comics talent and this post hopefully shows that off in spades!  As if any more proof was needed, with the new series of Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe showing every Thursday night on television at the time of writing, here we finally get to welcome to the site the quick-fire Clint Gritwood the Trigger-Happy Cop!, another childhood favourite of mine for sure:


As one character appears for the first time we bid a fond farewell to another, that of Sherlock Hams, creation of Lew Stringer and brought to life on the page by Ron Tiner these past few weeks.  Here in this issue we get to the fifth and final part of The Hog of the Baskervilles and it's a great way to finish off the serial.

From Hams' way of 'encouraging' Whatswine to follow him being so out of character compared to who he's based on, to the larger than normal amount of groan-inducing puns, he goes out in style.

Or STYle, rather.

I'll get my coat:


A character's first inclusion here, to the last one for another, to the return for yet another one.

For being one of the three who'd continue into the pages of Buster comic later in the same year, Weedy Willy has been conspicuous by his absence during the weekly issues.  Finally he returns here albeit it in a quarter-page format.  Never fear though, Willy had originally come back every fortnight in differently sized strips, with his various writers always turning in the goods no matter how much space they had.

As ever drawn by Mike Green, this time he's put into his latest predicament by Keith Forrest and, being on the same page as another random 'Meanwhile...' strip from Kev F, it lends this issue a bit more of that random-feeling layout we've been craving for a month now.

Welcome back:


Now, in next week's post you'll get to see the final instalment of Banx's 6-part mini-series following Doctor Hieronymus Van Hellsong and his quest to hunt down murderous, maniacal butcher Jimmy 'The Cleaver' Smith and, well, murder him first.  The strip has had its surreal dramatic moments (as dramatic as a human-sized pig chasing down a butcher can get obviously) and its black-as-night humour moments and now it's time for some gory ones.  I'm just guessing after Jeremy's run of gory comedy with Burp last year that these are some of his favourite moments to write and draw.

What happens here I could've sworn was going to occur next week as the climactic finale so it was quite a shock to read this instalment, and I'm intrigued to see what next week's will bring:


When I read this for this post my first reaction was wondering how they got away with cutting off his arm in a kids' comic, but then I remembered reading Marvel UK's Transformers and while it never showed any humans dying in any kind of gory way, it was a different thing for the robots.  Humans could die in an explosion, or out of shot, or in a flash of electrocution, but the poor Transformers themselves were seen being decapitated, ripped limb from limb, cut into hundred of pieces, blown up (and not in a big explosion they happened to be in, like the humans, but showing each individual piece blown away from their bodies), melted alive etc... so I guess the same thing applies here - it's not a human being losing an arm.

But still!

(He does get his arm back for the bottom-left panel though...)

Before I sign off for this week, the weekly had a regular reservation form to hand in to your newsagent and was using photocopies of old photographs (a la the fun guide to Oink! fans in the first Holiday Special) to show readers what would happen if they missed an issue.  This issue was a little different as we were treated to an insightful look into the life of one Tony Husband:


See you next Friday folks.

No comments: