Welcome back to the second half of the 1988 Oink! Holiday Special and finally I can show you this amazing wraparound cover poster from ace illustrator Paul Sample. It goes right around the stapled spine so you'll have to excuse the fact there's a few millimetres missing in the middle there, but what a fantastic treat for trotters to hold when picking this up from newsagent shelves. I'm sure it attracted plenty of new readers too!
Going back over the first half again and then reading these twenty-four pages it's quite startling how much had changed since the previous year's special, with much more in the way of one-off strips and less from our regular favourites. Don't get me wrong we all loved the random nature of Oink!, but since the weeklies its contents had certainly shifted focus and not even the additional pages of this or the monthly title saw the return of more regulars. The monthlies would see the extra page count being taken advantage of with much larger strips to savour, but this special feels much more Mad-like with its focus.
Contrary to popular belief it was Mad magazine which inspired Mark Rodgers in coming up with Oink! in the first place and not Viz. But Oink! had carved its own identity from the very first issue and worked hard at it, but now it definitely had the feel, as I said above, of more following the trend of the random titles which had appeared in its wake rather than leading the way. Now, when I say that I just mean in its general quantity of contents of course, it was still miles ahead with the quality of said contents!
Mentioning the high quality of the strips, this is a perfect time to show all you Haldane fans this very special page. As highlighted last time, the creative team were taking a little quarter-page each to tell us a bit about themselves in their typical fashion. Indeed, while it's all written for a laugh and completely fictional, what they chose for their profile could possibly give us some real insight into them! David certainly sees himself as a somewhat adventurous chap that's for sure!
His panel is sandwiched between two of his own strips, Zootown and Torture Twins, making a delightful page for his fans:
But wait, no Rubbish Man? Actually, no, he seems to have been one of the casualties in the reduction of pages to the weekly comic and with this special following on from them (released when the comic was in that phase of its lifetime) he's also conspicuous by him absence here. But! Ah, but... that doesn't mean we've seen the last of him by any means. In fact how does a multi-page strip and a superb Rubbish Man cover sound? Keep tuned to the blog this autumn then, you smelly fans.
A couple of the writer/artists to contribute profiles this time round are Marc Riley and Ed McHenry. With Oink! from the very beginning, Marc's musical career would see him jetting off to the United States around this time, so while his strips remained in every issue they were normally only a quarter of a page and written by others such as Mark Rodgers. I have to say though, Harry the Head certainly suited the quick gag format and was at his best around this time, featuring on quite a few pages in this special too.
Ed was as prolific as ever though and in the first half of this special he brought us a wonderful double-page spread of one of his much-loved Oink! quizzes. Below then are how both of these long-term Oink! contributors saw themselves in 1988, with Ed in particular looking to be in the sort of mess I always assumed all cartoonists get into. Am I wrong?:
Now I've gone on at some length during the regular comics about the sad, sad demise of probably my favourite comics character of all time - Hadrian Vile and his diary. Only appearing in a series of back pages where he'd give his guide to various forms of television in recent weekly issues, then disappearing for good apart from a surprise additional strip in #63, I was so pleased to turn a page in this special and see him back on form with a page the likes of which would've been a nice change of format for one issue during his regular diary strip.
But alas as it stands here it's a final fond farewell instead. Mark Rodgers and Ian Jackson would've created this page while his strip was still in every single issue of the comic and so wouldn't have known they were innocently creating what would be our final encounter with the little loveable brat. In fact Ian's work was largely absent from the regular Oink! at this point, and asides from an edition of the monthlies yet to come the artist who many saw as "Oink!" was no longer penning much for the comic he helped so much to create the style of in the first place.
Such a shame and a huge loss to the ongoing title and at the moment I'm not sure why this was the case. But for now let's not get bogged down with that depressing fact and instead enjoy this great little collection of holiday snaps from Hadrian and his ever-tortured family:
When building up to the first part of this special I announced how a certain 2000AD character would get the spoof treatment yet again from our favourite comic, but it's actually only now that we get around to seeing the number one law enforcement officer of the future finally meet his real match.
Has Oink! shown him getting reunited with his evil brother Rico? Has he been forced out into the Cursed Earth again to face muties and rats surfing on bits of rock? (Seriously, that happened.) Or has another apocalypse befallen Mega City One?
That latter one is the closest to the truth as one certain little old biddy meets Judge Dredd completely by accident, courtesy of David Leach:
I'll have to share this post on the forums over at Rebellion's 2000AD site, they'll love that! Speaking of which, if you're a reader of the Galaxy's (Second) Greatest Comic and take part in the discussions over there you'll find me in the parts of the forum dedicated to the actual comics under the name of JudgeOiNK!, though if you'd spotted that name and the attached avatar you may have already guessed it was me, to be fair.
While this comic has the classic Oink! logo and would still have been on the shelves at this point, the monthly issues had begun and brought with them not just a different title banner but also more changes to the make up of the contents, which had already changed so much since the fortnightlies. One sad omission from #63 onwards was Jeremy Banx.
I don't just mean less of his strips appearing such as Mr Big Nose not coming to the weekly comic, I mean the fact there was simply nothing from him at all! No big noses, no smelly aliens, no wonderful one-shots with cursed mummies or stuffed children. Zip. Zero. Zed. Nothing. It's almost heartbreaking (I'm sure I've said that a bit too much recently) and is another string to the bow of those who dismiss the monthlies so readily these days. I can see their point in that it became a very different comic, but it was still good fun. But... on the other hand the absence of a lot of the favourite characters and contributors is a hard one to take during this run-through.
Burp was a huge fan favourite - that part is an indisputable fact - so having him just suddenly stop is a very strange thing to happen indeed. I'm sure there were reasons for Jeremy no longer working on the comic but they're unknown at the exact time of writing this. Burp and Banx fans can rejoice now, however, with a brand new (at the time) two-page strip which sees him at his sometimes-surreal, sometimes-gory, sometimes-strange, but also funny best:
Burp wasn't done with Oink! yet however. Thankfully, just like these specials, the deadlines for annuals are set a long time before publication. We've seen parts of the first annual appear a full seven months before it was published and the second annual would also have the classic logo even though it came out during the new-look comic's days. What this means is that while he was no longer a cartoonist for the regular Oink!, Banx's alien would reappear once more in The Oink! Book 1989 in a huge, epic tale which I've alluded to before many times as a personal favourite.
The bad news of course is that as of the day of writing this post you've got one-hundred and ninety-four days to wait until you see it. Oh well, he's worth the wait, particularly for me!
Rounding off the special is the second of two Grunts sections and one reader had taken to sending in a certain newspaper clipping with none other than an original Oink! creator standing beside someone everyone in the United Kingdom would recognise. As well as some politician:
The Smokebusters Special had appeared at this stage in schools in the north of England but unfortunately it's a very rare thing to get a hold of these days, usually selling for sums which are just too far beyond my pay level, but I have faith that it'll be added to the blog at some stage. Just as I have faith I'll one day be able to sip my Wispa Hot Chocolate from that Oink! mug I treasured so much.
There's a very interesting story behind the Smokebusters edition which will appear in print at another time, but for now how about we tail off this post with how that Patrick Gallagher person above described himself in great detail in his own profile:
With that the second Oink! Holiday Special comes to a close. Five monthly issues, two more summer specials, a winter special and one annual to go folks, all jam-packed with quality but not much left to cover so don't miss anything; place a regular order at your computer or iPad now!