Friday, 13 March 2015

#54: THE AWARD GOES TO...


All true quotes too.  Oink!'s reputation and strong sales had spread into the wider press and while most (if not all) of these soundbites covered Oink!'s fortnightly guise it's still great to see how well it'd made an impact beyond its audience.  Ian Jackson's artwork is as always superb but beyond that the cover shows confidence from the editorial team in their creation.  Showing off all of these by splashing them across the cover like this you'd never have thought Oink! was in its final year.

Part of that surprising end, the next stage in that ultimately tragic tale can be found on page four of this very issue.  As regular readers will know from the posts for #35 and #45 the publishers had altered Oink! a couple of times by now in an attempt to increase its already impressive sales figures to the same levels as their longer-running titles.  It'd been aimed at a particular audience but had appealed to a far wider one, so by rejigging it slightly they hoped more of that target audience would come on board to increase the overall readership.

I'll assume (for now) this wasn't the success they'd hoped it would be.  I'm not saying the figures were plummeting, nothing like that and in fact the comic has made a point of stating recently how 'plop'ular it actually still was, but the readership still seemed to be very mixed, at least according to Uncle Pigg himself back in #51.  Surely that's a good thing?  A much wider target to reach out to?  But the biggest change to happen to Oink! in its entire lifetime could've been a result of this and is coming up in just nine issues.  Below is the seed to what can only be described as a complete relaunch:


A readership survey is one thing, but when you read over the questions the team would get very little info from this for it taking over a whole page.  In hindsight it's really all about that final caption from the plop in the corner.  With no actual space to actually tell Uncle Pigg if we wanted it to continue as a weekly or a monthly, was this little more than an early warning system of what was already planned?

But again, with that wonderful gift of hindsight I'm looking forward to that relaunch a lot more than I did as a kid.  You'll see why soon enough.

In the meantime the weeklies may be very quick reads but what's there is still quality, with more laughs like the comic's thicker stablemates and one new addition has come from long-time contributor Ed McHenry.  There was something I particularly loved about Ed's artwork though it's quite hard to describe.  There just feels like there's so much love put into every panel, with a unique inking style and so many lovely details packed into every one.  His work partly reminds me of the more traditional comics (particularly the additional person in the last panel below) crossed with Oink!'s more inventive style, while not being too dissimilar to a Cosgrove Hall cartoon.

Told you it was hard to describe.

What's not hard to put into words is how much I've enjoyed all of his contributions to the comic so far and how Igor and the Doctor brought another classic character to the pages of my favourite comic:


One contributor who really benefitted from the relaunched Oink! yet to come was Lew Stringer.  You can look forward to more Pigswilla, multi-page Pete and his Pimple epics and more than one Tom Thug strip per issue, all on glossy, bright paper that positively shines!  Looking forward to that?  Of course you are, who wouldn't?

For now though how about a new multi-part tale from the most prolific cartoonist of my own youth?  One thing Tom Thug had never thought of up to this point was assembling a gang.  When you think about it that may have been something any other thug would've thought of many moons ago, after all most real-life bullies are only tough when surrounded by other similar brainless chimps picking on one much smaller person at a time.  We've all met them.

But this is Tom.  He gives new meaning to the term 'brainless chimp', but he's clicked and a little fatherly advice finally seems like it could go a long way.  Should we all have been quaking in our boots walking down the streets of Oinktown?  No, not all all:


You should look forward to the next couple of weeks as this means you've got guaranteed Thug coming your way every Friday for a while!

You should also look forward to next week's issue for another very good reason, the return of Hieronymous Van Hellsong, the butcher hunter so cruelly ended by none other than Jimmy 'The Cleaver' Smith at the end of his first mini-series story which ran from issue #45 for six glorious weeks.  But after being turned into a handy string (literally) for the maniacal murderer to swing to his escape with how can our short-lived hero be back?  Why, with that favourite literary tool the prequel of course.  Join me next week for part one of Jeremy Banx's latest - you won't be disappointed.

Nor are we ever disappointed with the strips from Charlie Brooker.  Like many of my favourite characters I'm surprised Freddie Flop He Falls to Pieces wasn't actually in every single issue after being introduced, so it's a nice surprise to see him pop back together just long enough to join us here.  Even better, this one isn't just drawn by Charlie, it's also written by one of my all-time favourite members of the Oink! team Davy Francis.  What's not to love:


Now do you remember when characters and stories found it difficult to translate themselves from comics and cartoons to big Hollywood movies?  For me they're much more successful nowadays, it's not like they're all a success but opinions are subjective as we all know.  Personally, while it was a financial success and many loved it I was left disappointed by G.I. Joe and while I loved Iron Man the sequel left me cold.  However growing up with Transformers I'm now a huge fan of the movies and many of my other childhood favourites have been updated in a great way.

But Masters of the Universe, that's a different story.  Even as a kid I didn't like it.  Why was so much changed I thought at the time, and why was Skeletor very obviously a man with a pile of white make-up on, complete with regular eyes, instead of an actual skeleton with no eyes at all?  Remember that?

If you do, you'll love the latest spoof movie poster from the exceptionally brilliant hands of Simon Thorpe.  This time written by Mark Rodgers too!  Now there's a match made in heaven and it's almost worth that two-hour slog through the actual film all those years ago to appreciate this all the more:


This issue also sees the second appearance of Davy Francis' new Invisible Charlie character, the return of Kid Kidney to the Burp strip, some great GBH Madvertisements for a Pile-O-Fax and Armed Robbery (seriously) and even another Mary Lighthouse strip!  Brilliant!

The only thing missing is a certain obnoxious boy.  But not for long, promise.

So don't you dare be missing the random bag of treats that is #55 next week, especially when the aforementioned Van Hellsong brings with him his own Bank-drawn cover!  Worried you'll miss it?  Then you'd better place a regular order with your newsagents hadn't you?  Not only for all those wonderful reasons above, but it appears editor Patrick Gallagher in particular needs you to return:

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