This is one of my very favourite covers I remember from Oink!'s 1986 to 1988 run, right up there with #6's fantastic Ian Jackson animal cover. I don't think it takes much explaining as to why I love this one so much though, what with it being a Lew Stringer creation containing fan favourite Pete and his Pimple and, of course, the great use of that iconic logo! It's certainly memorable!
So memorable in fact that a year or so ago a mobile phone app blatantly copied the artwork for their logo, which didn't go unnoticed by Lew.
The issue itself stands up just as well inside too. No Slugs to start off on page 3, or anywhere else for that matter, but that's a good thing. Not because I don't like them, but it shows the comic is keeping its contents random and with so many characters to fall back on each and every issue was a treasure trove of mysterious content at this point.
Saying that, let's start off with a fella who has been popping up a few times on the blog recently:
For being the Grim Reaper, El Muerte, The Fourth Horseman, He Who Rides the Pale Horse and Cronus he was an awfully lovable chap, wasn't he? You can probably tell at this point in the run he's become something of a new favourite of mine and I hope he continues right the way through the monthlies. (If you know whether he does or not, please no spoilers! I'm enjoying discovering how the comic evolved through its final year as I go along here.)
But I've gone on (and on) enough about the skeleton in a cloak and his creator Charlie Brooker recently so we'll just move on this time to see what else I've picked out of this issue.
It's probably just as well I didn't waffle much there as our next page has enough for you to read on its own, never mind me on top of it all. I hope by putting this up on the blog we can find out together who wrote this next witty spoof, if any of the Oink! team can let us know. The drawing is by veteran Oink!/Viz artist Simon Thorpe and the only thing letting this page down is that there's not enough room for more of it.
The comic's reputation for spoofing was second-to-none and the few text stories it put out were always enjoyable. It wasn't something comics did at the time so Oink! was always spoofing another genre such as classic serial comics, romantic women's magazines or in this case James Bond creator Ian Fleming's novel Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:
In this same year other comics would come along with text stories among the strips, such as The Real Ghostbusters and Thundercats, bringing the format back to the kids of the day. I like to think (probably erroneously but I don't care) Oink! led the way, even if it was by spoofing them. Who knows, maybe it showed editors shouldn't be scared of trusting their younger audience to have bigger attention spans than they were usually given credit for.
Something that's very rare these days and sorely missed are the Uncle Pigg strips, with our own editor now only really seen in Grunts each issue and maybe the very occasional special page. His and critic Mary Lighthouse's battles were always highlights of the earlier issues so it's a lovely surprise to see them back together here, though only for a couple of panels:
In fact Uncle Pigg may only get a regular appearance on the letters page at this stage, but that's more than poor Mary was getting. A rare drawing of her alongside him on said page was about all we got, but with the expansion to the bigger, thicker monthlies fast approaching you never know...
Not forgetting our second of four Holiday Specials soon too! Just sayin'.
Anyway, it's a small delight from Kev F and Ian Jackson but a delight nonetheless to see them in a strip again and on the same page there's another few classic quick gags too. The issue itself has some really high quality smaller strips plastered all over it, with Wally of the West, Doctor Mooney He's Completely Looney, Igor and the Doctor, Torture Twins, Greedy Gorb and Brian Luck all being on top form! Even GBH get in on the act.
Someone who used to have whole pages to himself but who I personally think is at his height (well, not in person, obviously) with a smaller strip is Marc Riley's popular Harry the Head, with the one-gag format really suiting the character. Mark Rodgers has been writing them in the weeklies so far with Marc carrying on with the drawing of his creation - who else could? Harry's unique physique lends itself to these quarter-page jokes and they feel fresh and new, giving him a brand new lease of life.
I've also scanned in the strip just above Harry from that Mr Brooker. Couldn't let this one go:
Something that passed me by when reading this issue, but has now just hit me after looking at Harry the Head strip again when placing him onto this page, is that drawing of him 'in' bed. What on earth does he have bedsheets for? Hahaa! Anyway, moving on to our last scan for this week.
I mentioned above GBH got in on the small strip classics this issue but they've also got their usual full-page Madvertisement too. This issue they're hocking an absolutely splendid holiday to us. Naturally when I say that I mean the exact opposite, as per usual with these gangsters. So far in the run artiste extraordinaire Simon Thorpe has been just that, an extraordinary artist. He's lent his hand to some superb spreads in the comic as well as the more traditional comic strip work. But here he's also written the script for this holiday brochure for the honestly-named (for once!) Outlet-By-The-Sea:
I'll freely admit this blog can be hard work at times. Oink! is by far my favourite comic, I wouldn't be doing this blog if it wasn't, but when I started I never knew how much time it'd take up and how much real effort it'd take to keep it going. It's hugely rewarding and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and I'm grateful to each and every one of you for reading it, believe me.
Sometimes though, even back in the fortnightlies I'd struggle coming up with enough writing now and again, afraid of repeating myself too much, or of waffling to fill space or simply of being boring and not doing justice to these marvellous pieces of work. On those rare occasions I'd worry I'd break one of these three rules, but I'd always battle through and I'm very proud of what I've been doing for nearly two years now. When the weeklies started I knew if one of those creative blanks came along I wouldn't have the luxury of writing a bit, then taking a break for a few days and coming back refreshed and solving the problem. There just wouldn't be the time, especially while I'm also designing what I want from my book and the extra posts I'm putting together for this summer on the blog.
Thankfully I needn't have worried. These last few issues in particular have seen the blog posts almost write themselves! I'm not saying I'm phoning them in (as the saying goes), it's still harder work than you might imagine, but the comic has been treating me to such a wide variety of high quality content it's been a no-brainer for what to choose and the writing has been a real pleasure.
I hope it still is for you all too.
See you all next Friday, 13th March.