Oink! (comic)

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

Part its difference in the marketplace was that it attracted writers and cartoonists from a wide range of previous disciplines. It was edited by Private Eye regular contributor Tony Husband, Mark Rodgers RIP and Patrick Gallagher, although within the fiction of the comic is 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 Haldane, ex-The Fall member and future BBC Radio 1 radio host Marc "Lard" Riley and satirical media commentator-to-be Charlie Brooker.

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.

Although popular with its core readership, its notoriety led to dwindling sales. Originally a fortnightly publication, it became weekly and finally monthly and was finally wound up after 68 issues, merging with Buster, after being sold to the newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell.

Notable strips

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)
  • The Streethogs
  • Harry the Head (he was only a head)
  • Billy's Brain (he was only a brain)
  • Horace "Ugly Face" Watkins
  • Weedy Willy
  • Pete and his Pimple (the Pimple was on Pete's nose and was bigger than he was)
  • The Secret Diary of Hadrian Vile (an obvious parody of Adrian Mole)
  • Tom Thug (who spent most of the first six months of publication attempting to tie his shoelaces)
  • Mr Bignose
  • Burp The Smelly Alien (who could talk to his internal organs, many of which could talk back)
  • Rubbishman (a superhero)
  • Hugo the Hungry Hippo
  • Cowpat County
  • Frank Sidebottom
  • Psycho Gran

Aside from straightforward comic strips, the comic would also include spoof news items, adverts and so forth. There were also regular photo stories, photography done by James Gallagher, often starring Snatcher Sam, who was 'played' by Mark Riley.

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, as well as the whole issue being printed on a smaller size of paper than usual. In another issue, Uncle Pigg and the Plops all went on holiday, leaving a literal skeleton staff to staff the comic.

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.

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 Morrissey, getting ideas.

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

External links

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