Thursday, 2 April 2015

#57: "COMPLETELY UNRELATED OPENING TITLE"

Okay so it's time to fess up.  The whole remit of this blog was always very clear, to have each issue's highlights posted up on the exact day it originally went on sale twenty-seven years ago.  But didn't 1988 have to go and be a leap year, resulting in all the weekly issues since the end of February appearing on the blog now, in 2015, a day late!  Oh well, ssshhh, I think I've got away with it...


One of my very favourite covers and for two very particular reasons.  The first is obvious, it's a Jeremy Banx cover and features Jimmy 'The Cleaver' Smith, Oink!'s villainous butcher baddie on a background of splattered blood and it glistening on the floor... you wouldn't have got this anywhere else at our age.  It's bold, colourful and creepy, a classical bit of Banx humour which made us shiver and laugh in equal measure.

The other reason?  The audacity of having the front cover - the selling point - so honestly stating it had nothing to do with the contents of the inside of the comic.  But was this the intention all along or was the cover originally intended for another issue?  Looking at it now there does appear to be an extra reflection similar to the ones beneath each of Jimmy's legs, so was there more to this but it was edited to bring us this version instead?

Either way, whether it was the 'he isn't in this issue' gag all along or not, it's a genius bit of misdirection, especially as covers are meant to have a main selling point on the cover to lure readers in from the newsstands.

(Of course for piglets they'd then know this one was safe to purchase...)

Jimmy Smith may not be in the issue but his arch nemesis Hieronymous Van Hellsong sure is and after this part we reach the midway point of his prequel tale.  The story here ends with a similar scene as the one we saw on the cover of #55 and it takes an even darker turn with dialogue the likes of which you'd expect from a dark, mythical action adventure comic.  Or, as a regular reader of Oink!, the likes of which you would have come to expect from Banx:


The imagination on display with the writing in this ongoing serial is just superb and I'm looking forward to seeing what Jeremy brings to the monthly issues from next month onwards.  With Mr Big Nose gone already and Van Hellsong halfway through his second and final appearance, will we have some unexpected new strips in the bigger, fatter issues or simply more of Burp?  Let's find out together in a few issues - either way it's win-win as far as I can see!

It's been over a month since I featured a strip drawn by Oink! creator/editor Tony Husband so it feels long overdue.  Every issue at the minute we're being treated to a full-page gag from the most natural of cartoonists.  Each one only has a few panels so they're really eye-catching taking up a full, colour page when you flick through each weekly.

Here's his latest in the run, sitting in the comic right next to the dark and brooding Van Hellsong, making this all-the-more eye-catching and, I have to say, a rather unique two-page spread if ever there was one:


A few issues ago we welcomed Kev F Sutherland to the comic with open trotters.  His art style is very fondly remembered, so much so it surprised me he only appeared this late in the run, but I can assure you there's plenty to come from him as he was quite the prolific contributor to Oink! from here on in.

Just a few issues after that first quarter-page Meanwhile, at the toyshop.. strip here he is with a huge, superb centre-page spread, one containing a certain panel that left a mark on me as a kid but which I'd forgotten all about in my adult life.  I loved Coco Pops as a child and remember the adverts boasting of how they "even turn the milk chocolatey".  But when I read this story and saw that second panel I couldn't help but think what on earth was I doing to my teeth when eating them?  I went off them after this.

Well, for a while anyway:


(Come to think of it, does anyone else think the milk going brown was an unfortunate and unplanned byproduct of the cereal that Kellogg's just marketed really, really well?  Hey, still works for me!)

Seeing Kev's first few pieces and knowing how much he'd create for the comic it just makes me think who else could Oink! have brought to the fore if it'd continued on for longer?  It discovered Charlie Brooker and made stars of many of its cartoonists and writers, just imagine who else may have had their big break thanks to Uncle Pigg.  It's quite exciting now to see what else we have to come from the final issues - will we have any surprises in store from writers or artists we haven't had the pleasure of reading yet?

One person who'd already made a name for himself in the adult comic Viz was Simon Thorpe, who painted some simply stunning spoof posters for Oink! throughout its lifetime.  He's the man responsible for bringing the Butcherbusters to life and just you wait until you see his RoboChop in a few weeks, it's a definite fan favourite so if you haven't seen it yet you're in for a guaranteed treat.

In this issue Simon also took to scripting his piece as he has done on occasion before.  To us young readers at the time it showed just what a great wit the man has in not just bringing someone else's idea to hilarious life, but also how twisted his own imagination could be.  Perfect fodder for this comic then.  As our politicians argue about the future of the NHS surely whatever happens couldn't be worse than the following page:


Saying that, if GBH put forward a low enough tender price maybe we'd see our health service sold off quicker than you could say "my postman used to arrive before lunchtime".

The weekly issues of Oink! saw Marc Riley draw his Harry the Head etc. strips as per usual but we'd see a different name assigned to the scripts, which hadn't happened to his creations until this time.  At this point in Oink! Marc was actually spending a lot of time following the musical side of his career, including in America, so maybe this helped reduce the workload for a while.  But here he's back to writing Harry and, pleasingly, Doctor Mooney he's Completely Loony.  While Harry's strips seemed to better suit Mark Rodgers' short and sharp scripting, Mooney actually returned to form here with the equally bizarre, sometimes rather disgusting (in a funny way of course) imagination of Riley:


Before I finish off this issue with the back page, which is more from Hadrian Vile's Vidiots series, I just wanted to point out that in a couple of weeks the blog will be celebrating its second anniversary and there's exciting times ahead!  We've got the second Holiday Special coming up (beginning this coming Monday) and it's going to be spread across two posts just like last year's, then next month we begin the monthly issues of Oink! which (upon very briefly previewing them for myself) look like they're going to be a real treat - like getting a nice big, fat summer special every single month.  But it also means we've got a three or four week gap between them and I've something rather special and personal planned to fill the gaps.  It's required a lot of rummaging in the loft and a lot of eBay bidding but already I know it's all going to be worth it.  I'll fill you in on the date of the anniversary, which is Thursday 23rd and the same day as #60 and the conclusion of Van Hellsong's swan song - certainly a day I'll be looking forward to.

(So I hope my extra posts I'm hinting at don't disappoint!)

But anyway, back to the Mark Rodgers-scripted and Ian Jackson-drawn Hadrian and his Interleckshual guide to Tellyvision which this week concerns sitcoms.  These days we're certainly spoilt for choice between Friends or Two and a Half Men, or Friends or Two and a Half Men.  But back in the 80s it was a different can of laughter:


I'll be back next Thursday (remember: ssshhh) 9th April with a very special 2000AD spoof strip getting pride of place on the cover, so until then have a great Easter and... oh yes, you may want to return on Easter Monday for that little thing called the Oink! Holiday Special.  With a classic wraparound cover, also come back to see such highlights as a special series of features where you'll get to meet the creative team behind Oink! as written and drawn by themselves(!) and the first of two Judge Dredd spoofs you'll see inside one week on the blog.

See you then.

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