Thursday, March 08, 2007

Oink: Spectrum is pig-pink!

Following my blog about the Oink! Smokebuster Special yesterday, cartoonist Laura Howell e-mailed to remind me that there was another Oink! special around the same time. Sure enough, the July 1987 issue of Spectrum computer mag Crash gave away a 16 page Oink! Computer Special comic within its pages.

This was quite an odd publication as it was designed to tie-in with the Oink computer game produced in 1987 for the Spectrum. This game, (which I've never seen and was never sent by the way) featured two of my characters, Tom Thug and Pete and His Pimple (simplified to Pete's Pimple) plus David Haldane's superhero parody Rubbishman.

The idea was for the Oink! Computer Special to heavily promote the game, therefore the strips contained some differences to their versions in the usual Oink! comic. In Pete's Pimple, instead of Pete's giant zit bursting, it shot off his nose as a complete sphere, bouncing around the streets. The changes requested for Tom Thug were even more bizarre. Instead of the usual urban-based bullying, Tom became the driver of the "Thugmobile" hunting down zombies!

The games designers had completely missed the point of Tom Thug by depicting him as heroic. In the regular strips Tom was always a bully, a villain, not even an anti-hero like Dennis the Menace, and the strips always showed the consequences of his mischief with violence that always backfired on him. In the game, Tom's aggression was seen to be admirable even if it was only against zombies, but there was the other anomaly: the supernatural had no place in Tom Thug's streetwise environment. It just wasn't that sort of strip and venturing down that route would seem out of place.

To solve this problem I had the Tom Thug strip end up being "just a dream". It wasn't the ideal solution, and far too unoriginal, but it seemed to fit in this instance. In Tom's mind he would consider himself brave and heroic, and zombies were the sort of thing he'd dream about.

No doubt some will think I was being too precious about a character that some comic fans would consider "only a humour strip". However my concept of Tom was always that showing his bullying backfiring on him would be a catharsis for readers who themselves were bullied. In the real world bullies often get away with their actions, but in Tom Thug they never did. Tom was always depicted as stupid, intolerant, aggressive and pathetic, just like real bullies, and never as a role model. He wasn't a "rough diamond" or a cheeky-but-cute kid as seen in the other humour comics. He was the bad guy. I wrote and drew every one of the 400 plus Tom Thug strips so maybe I'm entitled to be a bit protective of the strip. ;-)

The good thing about the Oink! Computer Special was that, character discrepancies aside, it was a good promotional item for the regular Oink! comic. As well as the aforementioned strips it also contained some nice work by Jeremy Banx on Burp the Smelly Alien and an impressive colour centrespread by J.T.Dogg (Malcolm Douglas) which is shown above.


Ian Ellery said...

Hi Lew. It's probably all my fault! I approached Oink for the licence and worked with Crash quite a bit to get the special going. I honestly can't remember why the zombies were in there though! The game was programmed by Jon Williams, a Littlehampton based programmer. Maybe he got carried away, maybe i did! Memory's gone, but feel free to blame me :-)

Lew Stringer said...

Ha! No worries Ian. I explained it as "all a dream" in the context of the strip anyway. It was still enjoyable to do. I miss Oink! and those extra specials. Good on you for being involved.

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