Oink! is one title I've thus far neglected to cover much on this blog, but hey - better late than never! So let's amend that with a dive into what is probably my favourite issue of one of the weirder comics published by IPC - lucky number #13. Launched in May 1986, Oink was still a fortnightly comic at this point (it would later go to monthly). Many people actually seem to consider Oink as "a Viz for children", indeed that is a phrase I have seen thrown around a lot, but it is simply not a true statement. I asked Tony Husband, one of the creators of Oink!, some years ago for something I was writing (and never finished) about whether the creation of a "Viz for children" was the intention of Oink, and this is what he had to say:
"No that was never our intention. The three of us, Pat Gallagher, Mark Rodgers and myself all wrote for the IPC comics and we just wanted to take the piss out of the formulated but enjoyable mainstream comics. We spoke to Bob Paynter who was the head of children's comics and he gave us money for a dummy. Years later John Brown publishing and the Donalds came to us about doing a kids Viz bit it never happened."
Oink! certainly is a comic unlike anything else put out by mainstream British comic publishers before. Those of you who've read Terry Bave's 2012 autobiography 'Cartoons and Comic Strips' may recall him discussing Krazy as, well, a "really crazy comic", where "a number of artists and writers had been invited to submit 'crazy' ideas, many turned out to be too crazy for consideration", and by Oink's standards Krazy would be considered somewhat traditional! (Krazy is another comic a little overlooked on this blog too, that may have to be amended soon as well.) To illustrate my point, here's a bizarre photo strip entitled Snatcher Sam meets Young Frankenstein. I can only imagine how much fun this would have been to produce.
Issue thirteen is of course an unlucky number, well known to the Oink creators, and furthermore this issue was the very first Oink halloween issue - what a coincidence! For 30p readers got 32 pages, printed on nice glossy paper, 9 of those pages in full colour and a further 6 in partial colour with either a pink or yellow ink. That full-colour page count includes the poster on the centre spread, which is an absolutely stunning piece of artwork by the aforementioned Tony Husband featuring his popular character Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins, drawn in the style of a 1950s US horror comic cover. If it didn't mean taking apart an old comic I would definitely have this up on my wall. Perhaps a photocopy is needed...
Another interesting addition to this issue is this 3/4 page text piece Dennis Nifford's History of Horrors. Obviously, this is the pig alter-ego of famed comic historian Denis Gifford. I can only assume it was he who put this piece together, for as well as being a fan of comics he was very much involved with them.
-- UPDATE! Thanks to Lew Stringer and other good ol' piggin' pals over at the Oink comic fan page on Facebook for informing me that actually this page is NOT by Denis Gifford as he was not a fan of Oink. In fact being an old school guy he didn't like any comics that didn't seem to follow the traditional style, such as 2000AD. I was very surprised to hear this, to say the least! The artwork is actually by Steve Gibson and potentially written by Steve as well, although if not it may have been Mark Rodgers. --
So what are some more of these weird and wacky strips I keep going on about? Well, what about this one entitled Billy's Brain. About a young boy called Billy and his uncle, who exists only as a brain, it's certainly not a strip I could see appearing in Buster or The Beano. It's unsigned but I think this is drawn by David Haldane.
Monster Mash is perhaps the funniest story in this issue. Illustrated by Lew Stringer and written by Mark Rodgers, it is a short story filled with brilliant gags - my favourite is the "school dinner disposal unit" wearing hazmat suits as they dump the toxic dinners into the "hidden dump". This is the first appearance of Pigswilla, a character who would appear a few times throughout Oink's run, and Lew talked about the character's creation in a post on his art blog. Here's what he had to say:
"Mark had originally sent me an idea for a story called The School Dinner Monster and asked if I had any ideas to add to it. I added a few bits and bobs to the plot and dialogue, and thought that the title Monster Mash was catchier. I gave the name 'Pigzilla' to the giant robot pig, although Mark changed that to the much more inspired Pigswilla."
Anyway, here's the two-pager. I really wish this had been given full colour treatment, as I feel it would really have made use of some disgusting school dinner colours to add some extra effect! In fact, another copy of Oink (#66) I happen to have to hand contains a full-colour, nine (!) page Pigswilla comic which I might have to share in a post here sometime soon, just for fun, and you'll see what I mean.
The last strip I'll share is a silly page that is perhaps a bit more 'normal' as far as IPC comics go, emphasis on a bit - The Curse of the Mummy, illustrated by Jeremy Banx. I say this one is a bit more normal only because it reminds me of a strip from the early days of Whizzer and Chips called The Mummy's Curse, in which two unlucky explorers are chased around the world by an angry mummy whose tomb they disturbed. I've also shared an example of that strip, taken from Whizzer and Chips #2 (25th October 1969) and illustrated by Reg Parlett.
Oink ran for about two and a half years before folding in October 1988. Sadly its unique appearance also made it somewhat controversial and some newsagents allocated it to the top shelf, above the eyes of children, and sales ultimately slumped and the plug was pulled (although I'm sure this wasn't the only reason). For those who want to read more about Oink I highly recommend Phil Boyce's excellent Oink blog, which has moved to a new home on Wordpress and can be found here: