Friday, 20 March 2015

#55: STRIPPED BACK (BACON) HUMOUR


It's always something special when we get a Banx cover, call it a personal thing since my first was a creation of his.  Here we welcome back the late Hieronymous Van Hellsong to the pages of Oink! with a special prequel mini-series running over six weeks just like his first appearance.  If you haven't read it yet head back to #45 and start there.  Well worth the effort.

Inside our esteemed editor Uncle Pigg is getting somewhat emotional on the Grunts page about the character's return:


Can you blame him after seeing our hero made into sausage links at the drop of a hat and providing a quick getaway for none other than the villain we all loved to hate (and be creeped out by) Jimmy 'The Cleaver' Smith?  But that didn't stop Jeremy Banx after the first mini-series proved a success with the readers.

While Oink! has proven itself with the older markets too, as a child I was transfixed by the dark humour, the bleak settings and the return of Smith to the pages of the comic.  He may not be in this prequel story but it's no less enjoyable so make sure you come back every Friday for the next five weeks to see how this one pans out.  Given Banx's imagination, goodness knows how that panning is going to go for us:


Well actually I do remember some details of where this story takes us and from this first part you'd never be able to guess just how it develops.  Even in part two it takes us somewhere you never thought you'd see in a kid's comic and it captured my 10-year old imagination all over again.  Look forward to it folks, you really should!  I don't want to say too much even though I do usually share such memories even before things turn up, but in this instance I'll leave those thoughts until you've read at least next week's instalment.

Now in these days of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. it's easy to see what your comic heroes (those creators whose work you love so much) look like.  Back in the 80s all we usually had to go on was a signature and our imagination, or now and again a little self portrait.  These were few and far between and would normally be realistic in a way, while keeping within the style of that artist.  They were usually close enough to the real person that we could get a good idea of what they actually looked like.

Lew Stringer had other ideas though when it came to showing us the man behind the pimple and the thug:


UPDATE: Lew has now told us that the little arrow was a joke on the part of the Oink! editorial team!

This was a particularly fun time for the Pete and his Pimple strip with the suggestions from the readers now coming almost on a weekly basis.  This is definitely one of my favourite of Lew's answers to their ideas and there are many, many more to come through the rest of the run!

But I've already mentioned the thug, Tom Thug, and this issue continues the story of his father's idea of assembling a gang.  Tom would always come a cropper in his attempts at bullying others, the amount of broken bones alone would be far too many for him to even count.  Enrolling his first gang member didn't exactly go smoothly last week but here he assembles the rest of his Crude Crew and gets ready for making some bovver.

When turning the page to this strip the first thing that catches your attention is the large panel with the gang assembled, so it looks like he's finally done it.  Are things going Tom's way?  Of course not. That'd go somewhat against the whole idea of the character!  Here's part two and look out for the climax in just seven days:


Elsewhere in this issue you'll find The Slugs continuing their enjoyable tour of America, Burp coming to terms with his artery, Terry, having his annual all-singing blood bath, The Swinelight Zone returns under the stewardship of Charlie BrookerFrank Sidebottom reviews a Queen album (not a new album mind you, but that's because he had to pay his mum an extra £8 for breakages around the house which he's adamant weren't his fault but were the actions of a poltergeist, so he just reviewed an album he had lying around) and the cut-out mask series finishes with none other than Uncle Pigg himself.

It's also a wonderful issue for the one-offs too!  For example Dave Jones makes a welcome comeback with The Kingdom of Trump and the phenomenally talented Dave Huxley brings us his The Statue of Piggery poster.  That latter example is worth the price of admission alone and it's been a tough choice to leave it out, remember I can only include so much from each issue.  But when a simple quarter-page, single-panel strip makes me laugh even more it just has to be included instead:


I'm so glad Haldane's Zootown has been and continues to be a permanent fixture of the comic.  There are others which I thought we'd get to enjoy all the way through to the final issues but which have fallen by the wayside.  Thankfully that's not the case with these wonderfully crafted mini-strips, even if their fellow Hugo the Hungry Hippo and Rubbish Man Haldane creations have disappeared.  But fear not, I can smell a rancid odour from the forthcoming "big, fat" monthlies...!  Happy days!

Just as a side note before moving on, there's one multi-part story finishing this issue which I just haven't been a fan of.  Billy the Pig seemed like a good idea to begin with, a riff on the famous gunslinger but the piggy makeover just hasn't hit the spot with me as an adult.  I do remember enjoying the pig-flavoured Western as a child but now it just reads as any regular cowboy story but with pigs and butcher-esque villains inserted.  What I mean by that is it doesn't seem to contain anything in the way of jokes, but as a kid I did enjoy the story I have to say.

I may not have let an actual noise out, but inside I definitely had a little cheer to myself when page 22 of this issue revealed itself in the form of a full-page Weedy Willy strip.  At last!

Always drawn by the perfect man for the job, Mike Green, he's been written by a variety of contributors over the last couple of years.  Everyone from editor Mark Rodgers to pun maestro Graham Exton have taken their turn, but this time he's been finely crafted by Keith Forrest.

Willy became one of the three Oink! representatives who'd move on to Buster eventually but he's been missing from many of the issues for a while now.  When he has appeared over the past few months he's mainly been in shorter strips so this is a fine return to form for the squeaky-voiced (as I'm sure a previous strip mentioned, or it may just be how I read them) weakling:


A fine finish for this week's post and next week we can finally welcome back to the pages of Oink! one of my very favourite comic characters of all time.  Hadrian Vile comes back to Oink! in just seven days but not in the form you'd expect.  Will it be for the better or for the worse?  You'll have to come back too in order to find out, but I can promise you he'll definitely be included.

Have a great weekend folks.

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