2000 AD Prog Slog

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Prog 469

This prog’s centre pages promotion is the only excuse I need to talk about Oink, the new pig based comedy comic for boys and girls. Like 2000 AD, it was published by giant multinational IPC but unlike their comics normally, was run off site in Cheshire. It seemed as if everyone involved understood that the best children’s comics had at one time a great sense of anarchy; even The Beano, now pillar of the establishment, in the dim distant past might have encouraged unruly behaviour in its grubby faced readers. For the new generation of Kids’ humour comics to succeed, they needed the space to be naughty.

Like 2000 AD, there was a broad range of strong, individual creators. Lew Stringer, who had been writing enthusiastically in the fan press for years about British comics, provided Tom Thug and Pete and his Pimple. Jeremy Banks, AKA Banx, who I think of as the Oink equivalent of Mike McMahon, provided some of the more surreal strips with Burp! The Smelly Alien, Mister Big Nose and Van Hellsong. The Daily Mail’s Tony Husband drew the heart breaking Horace (Ugly Face) Watkins. BBC Radio’s Marc Riley, at this time already known for the bands he had been in and fired from, provided Harry the Head and Snatcher Sam. Big headed, man/boy comedian Frank Sidebottom provided readers with his elaborately prepared updates on events from Timperly. BBC 4’s Screenwipe’s Charlie Brooker, who can’t have been old enough to have left school at this time, gave us Regurgitating Robbie. An impressive list of creators and only a sample of those who regularly contributed to Oink.

It’s heart breaking to think that such a great comic failed. Early on, it might have seemed that Oink was doing well when its frequency switched from fortnightly to weekly, but that didn’t last long and, once it was dropped to monthly well, the end seemed inevitable. Hints at why it didn’t succeed can be seen in the first issue in strips drawn by Viz Comic creator Chris Donald. The very adult Viz was, at this time, a publishing phenomenon and had inspired many inferior, opportunistic, copy publications. Oink appeared at a time when both the retailers and customers were confused by the idea of a humour comic aimed at children. Consequently, it was often racked on the top shelves alongside Viz and the soft porn magazines creating resentment amongst stupid people (of which there have always been many) for not featuring swear words, sexual language and ads for explicit telephone lines.

To me, Oink continues to hold a special place in my heart. Whenever I think of it, I daydream about the creators reuniting for, when I’m feeling fanciful, a one off special or, when I’m at my most delusional, a return of the weekly.

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  • My mum bought the first few issues "for us" - mainly 'cos she was more into humour comics than my brother and I. I recall being mildly disturbed by the giveway flexidisc on one issue - a mad 'pop' song with electronically-altered voices trying to be pigs.

    By Blogger Ken Davidson, at 9:46 am  

  • OINK totally passed me by at the time, I probably dismissed it as a lame Pseudo-VIZ for kids: but with hindsight, that is one hell of a line-up of talent.

    By Blogger Mark, at 10:36 am  

  • Ken, I still have the flexidisc (although I can't play it due to not having a record player). Marc Riley is the one responsible for the tune, I think.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 6:21 pm  

  • Mark, Oink is something else whoever owns it should think about repackaging sometime. (Knockabout did a couple of TPBs a long while ago...)

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 6:23 pm  

  • I remember getting one issue (with a free flexidisc) and thinking it was rubbish. Maybe I missed out, but I doubt I'll ever bother to find out now.

    By Blogger Peter, at 11:46 pm  

  • It was fantastic - Mr Big Nose and his surreal adventures had a big effect on what I was trying to draw at the time...

    By Blogger doppelganger, at 11:39 pm  

  • Oink! was a true moment of anarchic genius. Didn't realise Charlie Brooker wrote on it but the big revelation... Marc Riley! Of course! Even now I can see his face and recognise him as the infamous Boy Lard.

    PS That's one scary cover for a comic aimed at kids, huh? Which, incidentally, is why I'll always revere it much higher than the aimed at adults Viz.

    By Blogger dmstarz, at 4:58 pm  

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