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Comic Book / Oink!

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"Editor" Uncle Pigg surrounded by many of Oink!'s major (and not-so-major) characters.

One of the more successful attempts to reinvigorate the British children's comic, Oink! ran from 1986 to 1988, with several specials afterward. Based in Manchester, it was an ebullient romp created specifically for slightly older readers and contrasted with the older, more stylistically conservative comics which dominated the UK market at the time: The Beano and The Dandy.

Oink! featured a regular set of strips with recurring characters, but also often did "theme" issues based around specific topics, such as music. In many ways it resembled Viz more than any contemporary comic: it generally featured more violence and gross-out humour than any of its' peers, as well as satire which probably went over the heads of many readers — they made fun of Morrissey in two separate issues, had a regular character (Mary Lighthouse) to poke fun at Moral Guardians and occasionally took jabs at politicians, but managed to stay relatively clean throughout its run.

Oink! had a spin-off video game and a single, which came free on flexi-disc with a particular issue.

Tropes in Oink!:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future:
    • The Street-Hogs! is set in a near-future (sometime around the Turn of the Millennium) in which pigs are recognised as full citizens (and can ride motorbikes) but there is still an illicit trade in pork and other pig produce.
    • In the Time Travel issue, we see the Oink Office as it will be in the Year 2000. Basically the same as in 1987, except the staff have been replaced with robots and Uncle Pigg has a flying chair.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Weedy Willy for Dishy Mandy (though she secretly quite likes him), Tom Thug for Zitty Zeta.
  • Adam Westing: Veteran comics artist John Geering contributed an occasional strip called "Tom's Toe" which was a send-up of the sort of gimmick strips he would be commissioned to draw for other comics.
  • Affectionate Parody: Many, but none more so than Ham Dare, Pig of the Future.
  • Animals Not to Scale: Hugo the Hungry Hippo is big enough to eat entire buildings.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Several turn up in one-off gag strips, and typically don't come out of it well. Hedgehog Boy gets run over, Squid Boy gets eaten, an unpopular kid who gets bitten by a radioactive spider becomes even more unpopular because he takes to eating flies, and so on. Kangaroo Kid survives, but his strip is just a gag parodying Superman's supposed fondness for changing in a phone booth. In one of the annuals, Frank Sidebottom claims to have had a very successful secret superhero career as Clamboy, and that's why there's no crime under the sea. Snail Boy discovers that the only good thing about being a snail is having a shell to hide in.
  • Bat Deduction: Parodied. Rubbish Man and Boy Blunder find a note left by The Puzzler which reads "I'm going to rob the bank in the High Street" and, pausing to note that Batman deals with this sort of thing all the time, conclude he's planning to do something unspeakable in Tibet with a trained water rat named Robert. While they're away searching Tibet, he robs the bank in the High Street.
  • Big Eater: Greedy Gorb, Hugo the Hungry Hippo, Fatty Farmer and any number of one-off characters.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Burp the alien's internal organs can be removed from his body and can think and speak for themselves.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": Rubbish Man wears "RM" as a Chest Insignia.
  • The Bully: Tom Thug.
  • Bully Magnet: Subverted with Wayne Brayne from the Tom Thug strip. He fits the stereotype and is often targeted by the bully Tom, but his book smarts enable him to run rings around Tom every time. It's never explicitly spelled out, but it's implied that he puts himself forward as the Bully Magnet to stop Tom going after the weaker kids.
  • The Butcher: Literally and metaphorically: various unnamed butchers, as well as Eric "Razors" McTiggle, "Mad Dog" Terry Stinkpile and most vicious of the lot, Jimmy "The Cleaver" Smith.
  • Butt-Monkey: Hector Vector. Having Keith Disease as the print on his t-shirt was supposed to be Keith's punishment, but it's harmless nice guy Hector who really suffers for it.
  • Canis Major: Pete's Pup. It's nearly up to the ceiling in an ordinary room.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Hadrian Vile's older sister, Sue, was a major character in the early days until she left for college, whereupon she was never seen again. When Hadrian's baby sister, Bibi, was born he called her "my sister" as if Sue didn't exist.
  • Cloudcuckooland: This would seem to be where Mister Bignose lives.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Kid Gangster wears one. Since he's a kid and it's an adult trenchcoat, it's not just conspicuous, it's also absurdly large.
  • Dead Star Walking: Billy Buzz, a talking bee, spends his first strip enthusing about the various mundane-sounding adventures he's going have, only to be swatted by Uncle Pigg in the final frame.
  • Death as Comedy:
    • Rubbish Man manages to get Frozen Chicken Man's entire family killed, and of course it's all Played for Laughs.
  • There's post-mortem fun with "Dead Fred". Who knew that there was comedy in the way corpses decay?
  • Dreadful Musician: The Slugs. Actually zigzagged, because they start out as classical musicians and they seem to be pretty good at it - good enough that people will willingly book them to play, anyway. But when they become The Slugs, they make a noise that appeals to no-one and can only get bookings by deception or just plain gatecrashing.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: "The world's rudest boy" Keith Disease makes the mistake of talking back to Beelzebub, and is sentenced to spend eternity as a talking print on Hector Vector's T-shirt.
  • Failure Is the Only Option:
    • Mary Lighthouse's attempts to censor, close down or otherwise sabotage the comic never succeed. Obviously.
    • True of anybody who comes up against Jimmy "The Cleaver" Smith.
  • Famed In-Story: In-story, Pete Throb of Pete and his Pimple actually develops from being considered unpopular at first to quite popular thanks in part to his comic-book fame.
  • Fan Disservice: Psycho Gran appears in her underwear a couple of times. It's not pretty.
  • Gamebooks: Done in an early issue. You are Barry the Butcher. Can you survive Uncle Pigg's Unfair Funfair? (Answer: No. It's Uncle Pigg's funfair and you're a butcher, so Failure Is the Only Option.)
  • Honest John's Dealership: GBH Products, who sell all manner of goods and services, all of them pricey, all of them tat, and many of them potentially lethal.
  • Jerkass Victim: It's no excuse, but Tom Thug's frequent target Wayne Brayne is actually quite annoying. Also, he tends to taunt Tom because he knows that Tom will come off worse.
  • Literal Genie: Harry The Head's Origin Story involved him losing his body due to a run-in with one of these.
  • Losing Your Head: Harry the Head is just a head.
  • Mad Scientist:
    • Doctor Madstarkraving is the Absent-Minded Professor type.
    • Doctor Mooney is more of an all-round nutcase, even when he's not doing anything scientific.
  • Mood Whiplash: It may have been a bit more anarchic than most, but it was still a children's humour comic, so the Nightmare Fuel appearances of Jimmy "The Cleaver" Smith count as this.
  • Multiple Head Case: Nigel and Skrat, the 2-Headed Rat. Which is also a Slobs Versus Snobs strip, with Nigel as the snob and Skrat as the slob.
  • Nasal Weapon: Rubbish Man can shoot spaghetti from his nose.
  • No Fourth Wall:
    • Pete and his Pimple typically have no fourth wall.
    • Cartoonist Banx often began his strips (Burp, Mister Bignose, Hector Vector and his Talking T-Shirt) with the central character greeting the readers.
  • Noodle Incident: Little Frank has been known to blackmail Frank Sidebottom by threatening to tell his mum about the hairdryer. Precisely what about the hairdryer is something we never find out.
  • Odd Name Out: The Slugs are Gilbert, Sullivan... and Drumbo.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. Both Weedy Willy and Horace Watkins have love interests called Mandy. And Horace's Mandy has an Abhorrent Admirer known as Pimply Pete, not to be confused with the lead character in Pete and his Pimple.
  • Product Placement: Every now and again. A toy called "Madballs" got inserted into a Harry the Head strip to tie in with a promotional competition. There was also the "Three Stooges" strip that was included for a few issues as a tie-in to the computer game (yes, there was a Three Stooges computer game in the late 1980s). There were fictional examples, too, for products from Doctor Mooney's deranged mind.
  • Rock Trio: The Slugs.
  • The Scrooge: The "editor", Uncle Pigg, has elements of this character type. He supposedly doesn't pay his cartoonists very well, is prone to Cutting Corners, and may even be Stealing from the Till. In one of the holiday specials he even claims to be impoverished and appeals to the readers for money... only for it to be revealed that he's actually made a fortune from Oink! and has his own private island.
  • Severed Head Sports: Harry the Head is inadvertently used as a ball a few times, including once on the front cover.
  • Smoldering Shoes: Always left behind when Billy Bang explodes.
  • Special Guest: A music-themed issue includes a comedic but genuine interview with Ian Astbury of The Cult and a witty article on a day in the life of a DJ by the real-life John Peel.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • In the "Peculiar" issue, the Tom Thug story ends abruptly, forcing Tom to provide his own ending - which he does with stick-figure art, bad spelling with Randomly Reversed Letters, and a nonsensical conclusion in which he becomes "king ov the werld" and is served ice cream by all the other kids. It's so bad that the Plops end up slapping on what they know is a cop-out All Just a Dream ending as a Saving Throw.
    • The Harry the Head strip manages to pull off an inversion, as for one episode only it is drawn in spectacular style by J.T. Dogg instead of the very basic style of Marc Riley.
  • Take That!: Where do you start? The comic features a lot of parodies, and while many are affectionate, many aren't. Perhaps the biggest Take Thats are targeted at rival comics, especially those of DC Thompson, though Oink!'s IPC stablemates aren't immune either, with Whizzer and Chips in particular coming in for a lot of mockery.
  • Theme Naming: Characters based on real-life people are usually named with weak pig-based puns. Michael Jackson became Michael Jaxham, Michael Parkinson became Michael Porkinson, Sylvester Stallone? Sylvester Sty-lone. And so on.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: Billy Bang literally explodes in every strip, only to be back to normal for the next one.
  • Tomato Surprise: It takes a few episodes before it's revealed that The Street-Hogs! is not set in the 1970s as initially appears, but 20 Minutes into the Future.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: Jimmy Smith is hardly an obvious villain name... but in the world of Oink! he's the Big Bad, The Sociopath and (quite literally) The Butcher all rolled into one.
  • Trigger-Happy: Clint Gritwood, the trigger-happy cop. Ask him for the quickest way to the cemetery, and he'll get his gun out and show you.
  • Very Special Episode: An anti-smoking special was produced as a giveaway for schools. (In real life, Frank Sidebottom's artist/actor, Chris Sievey, was an active member of anti-smoking charity Smokebusters).
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: As the name suggests, this is Transmogrifying Tracey's main schtick.