Oink! (comic)

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Publication information
Publisher Fleetway
Schedule Fortnightly (May 1986-December 1987)
Weekly (January-May 1988)
Monthly (June-November 1988)
Format Comics anthology
Genre Humour, children's
Publication date 3 May 1986-22 October 1988
Number of issues 68

Oink! was a British comic for children which was published from 3 May 1986 to 22 October 1988. It set out to be deliberately anarchic, reminiscent of Viz but for children.

Part of its difference in the marketplace was that it attracted writers and cartoonists from a wide range of previous disciplines. It was devised, launched and edited by Patrick Gallagher, Private Eye regular contributor Tony Husband and Mark Rodgers; although within the fiction of the comic it was "edited" by a character called Uncle Pigg (similar to 2000 AD's Tharg the Mighty). Other featured artists and writers were Husband's Private Eye colleague David Haldane, ex-The Fall member and future BBC Radio 1 radio host Marc "Lard" Riley, Malcolm Douglas, future Beano writer/artist Kev F Sutherland, future Marvel artist, writer and editor & current SpongeBob SquarePants Magazine editor David Leach and satirical media commentator-to-be Charlie Brooker. Viz founders Davy Thorp and Chris Donald also contributed some one-off strips, as did The Beano's Tom Paterson.

Oink! proved somewhat controversial, with various conservative groups and a chain of newsagents branding it offensive and unsuitable for children and succeeding in having it top-shelved in newsagents away from other comics, thus damaging its sales potential to its young target audience.

Originally a fortnightly publication, it became weekly and finally monthly and was finally wound up after 68 issues, after the comic's founders, Patrick Gallagher, Tony Husband and Mark Rodgers, were offered a TV deal which resulted in the show Round the Bend. Three Oink! strips transferred to Buster: "Weedy Willy", "Pete and his Pimple" (simply "Pete's Pimple" in Buster) and "Tom Thug", the latter appearing through to the comic's last issue in 1999.

In 1987 Oink! was made into a computer game of the same name.[1]

Mark Rodger's archives relating to Oink are held by Archive Services, University of Dundee.[2]

Notable strips[edit]

Some of the most popular recurring characters in the comic were:

  • Uncle Pigg, whose staff were known as the Plops (apparently, sentient mounds of faeces) and who had an ongoing battle with conservative critic Mary Lighthouse (an obvious parody of Mary Whitehouse) (usually written by Mark Rodgers, artwork by Ian Jackson)
  • The Streethogs (writer Mark Rodgers, artwork Malcolm Douglas as J.T. Dogg)
  • Harry the Head (he was only a head) (Marc Riley)
  • Billy's Brain (he was only a brain) (David Haldane)
  • Horace "Ugly Face" Watkins (Tony Husband)
  • Weedy Willy (writer Mark Rodgers, artwork Mike Green)
  • Pete and his Pimple (the Pimple was on Pete's nose and was bigger than he was) (Lew Stringer)
  • The Secret Diary of Hadrian Vile (an obvious parody of Adrian Mole) (writer Mark Rodgers, artwork Ian Jackson)
  • Tom Thug (who spent most of the first six months of publication attempting to tie his shoelaces) (Lew Stringer)
  • Mr Bignose (Jeremy Banks)
  • Burp The Smelly Alien (who could talk to his internal organs, many of which could talk back) (Jeremy Banks)
  • Rubbishman (a superhero) (David Haldane)
  • Hugo the Hungry Hippo (David Haldane)
  • Cowpat County (writer Mark Rodgers, artwork Davy Francis)
  • Frank Sidebottom (Chris Sievey)
  • Psycho Gran (David Leach)

Aside from straightforward comic strips, the comic would also include spoof news items, adverts and so forth. The comic also featured many parodies of films, TV shows, and strips from other comics. There were also regular photo stories, with photography by James Gallagher, often starring Snatcher Sam, who was 'played' by Marc Riley.

As the title suggested, pigs were a constant theme. Celebrities would regularly be caricatured as pigs, complete with punning names (Peter Swillton, Michael Jacksham, Janice Pong, etc.) and even existing comic strips would be parodied with a pig theme (e.g. "Ham Dare, Pig of the Future!"). Besides Mary Lighthouse, Uncle Pigg's biggest enemies were butchers, the most vicious of whom was Jimmy "The Cleaver" Smith.

For most of the comic's run, each issue had a theme (e.g., Christmas, holidays, family etc.) which often allowed the comic to experiment. One issue (dubbed "Oink! goes Peculiar") showed everything going wrong in the Oink! offices, leading to strips being printed upside down or being drawn by the wrong artist etc. In another issue, Uncle Pigg and the Plops all went on holiday, leaving a skeleton staff (of literal skeletons) to produce the comic. The themes were dropped when the comic went weekly at the beginning of 1988.

Real-life personalities often appeared or were parodied, such as Radio 1 DJs Steve Wright and Janice Long. Russell Grant and his horoscopes were also parodied as "Russell Grunt's Hogoscopes". An item on how the poll tax meant people owning parrots had to pay tax unless they were members of the Conservative Party was read out in the House of Commons. [3]

Some items aimed slightly over their target audience's heads - in one strip, Weedy Willy wandered around moaning whilst being followed by a shadowy stranger who was writing down everything he said - for example, "Oh, I would go out tonight but I haven't got a stitch to wear," and "Heaven knows, I'm miserable now." At the end of the strip, the figure was revealed as Steven Morrissey, getting ideas.

The first issue came with a free flexi-disk single called "Poo Poo Tinkle Tinkle Parp Parp Oink Tiddly Widdly Widdly Widdly Plop."


External links[edit]