Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pete's Pimple in Buster... before the merger


Remember the blog post I did a while back about how Tom Thug once appeared in Whizzer and Chips to promote Oink? Well, I've just found an issue of Buster I'd forgotten about which guest-starred Pete and his Pimple as part of the same promotion. 

Buster issue dated 26th March 1988 featured a half page Pete and his Pimple strip I was commissioned to do, which makes this my first Buster strip. (How could I have forgotten?) Not only did they let a then-relative-newcomer like me loose in the pages of this fine, well established comic but I even got to co-star Buster himself in the story, - although as you can see, I didn't show him a lot of respect! 

As most comic readers of the time know, the promotion sadly had little effect on Oink's falling sales (no thanks to WH Smith top-shelving it well away from other comics) and Oink! actually merged into Buster later that same year, bringing Pete and his Pimple into the comic on a regular basis. 

Art by Tom Paterson. Colours by John Burns.
Interestingly, although I was able to do a full on gross strip for the advert above, editor Allen Cummings didn't want any pimple pus bursts seen in the regular Pete and his Pimple strip when it became a fixture in Buster. I think it took the edge off the strip but I completely agreed with Allen's point as such gross humour was fine for Oink! but not suited to the tone of Buster. 

As it turned out, Pete only had a run of six months or so in Buster. Whilst Oink's older readers had voted it one of their favourites, Buster's younger audience didn't really go for it. (Well, what seven year old can relate to zits?) 

On the other hand, Tom Thug, which had also transferred from Oink, shot up the Buster popularity charts. I guess kids of all ages always like to see the bully become the butt of the jokes, and long may it be so.

10 comments:

1000MB said...

It must have been a real honour to represent Oink in the Buster, as well as draw Buster himself. When a comic is closed do they see what artists would still draw for the new merged comic and pick the strips that way, or do they pick the strips they want?

Lew Stringer said...

They used to compile a popularity chart of characters based on feedback from readers letters and those 'top three' coupons they had in the comics. Apparently they took this very seriously (and in the days before market research it's all they had to go on). When comics were flagging in sales and needed mergers, they'd choose the most popular characters to make the transition.

1000MB said...

I know some of the less popular D.C Thomson titles did those top tree coupons, such as Buzz and Cracker.But did the Beano and Dandy do these or did they get their info from the readers letters?

Lew Stringer said...

The coupon system was more of an IPC thing really. I don't know how DC Thomson worked out the top strips back then as I wasn't working for them in the 1980s. I'd guess they just went by readers letters as you suggest.

Manic Man said...

Interesting. 'Gross' humour has never been my fav but doesn't stop something from being good or interesting.

In the 90s, STC use there 'Data Strips' which if i remember 100% right (I'm afraid, I'm partly unable to double check with my issues right now.. moving things around etc) they did some basic 'what's your age' etc kinda of thing but also did the 'name your favourite strips' and also 'which Sega game do you want to see as a strip?'. I'm not sure how many of the comics, like Marko's Magic Football, Decap Attack etc DID come out of that data strip and how many were the companies wanting to promote Games. It was a sad day when STC cut down on the other content. Sure, it was 'Sonic' the Comic so Sonic should be major, but when they got rid of all the others like Golden Axe, Shinobi, Streets of Rage, etc which gave some nice work and, i would have thought, meant that some people not quite as interested in Sonic as they should be, could still pick it up and Enjoy it for the others, i felt the comic suffered. When Ravette Publishing did there trade paperbacks, not only did they do 2 Sonic ones ("Beats the Badniks", that reprinted the Sonic stories form issue 1-4, and "Spin Attacks" which oddly, reprints 6,8,9,10 (some reason, 5 and 7 weren't included at all) they did do a Shinobi and a streets of rage one, both seam to be pretty uncommon to find, so i would guess they were popular.. in fact, Streets of Rage even took over the Sonic the Poster Mag for one issue and Shinobi took over another one.. but for some reason, they got rid of every non-sonic strip but Decap attack (I enjoyed the first few, but when the strip became very regular, I kinda turned off it.) and then lost even that, I wondered what had happened as i really do think it suffered...

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, I don't know the actual reasons why STC became all-Sonic but it certainly didn't do the comic any harm I must admit.

That said, I did feel at the time that there was definitely potential for a general Sega comic featuring adaptations of various games. After all, there'd been comics based on films, radio and TV so a video game anthology comic was the natural next step. However, with comic sales falling perhaps publishers felt it would be a risky gamble.

Did anyone do a Nintendo comic in the UK? I don't recall one, (although not being a video game player I wouldn't really be looking).

NP said...

D C Thomson used a long form coupon every six or twelve months and frequent focus groups in schools were dummy comics were tested. They still do, sometimes. They were and are much more savvy than IPC/Fleetway to what the readers want.

Manic Man said...

There were Magazines like Nintendo Power that used to also features comic strips bases on some of there games. Some were pretty good, but it wasn't as Comic based as STC was. Where STC was mostly comes with a couple of pages of Articles and promos, Nintendo power was mostly Articles with a couple of comics. But most of the time, i believe it didn't have many, if any, comic strips. As a rule (though not always the case) Nintendo was less popular in the UK then Sega. Places like the UK, people knew the Sega Master System and it was basiclly beating the NES, and the MegaDrive beat the SNES, but in American, it was the other way around, to the point that alot of people had never heard of the Sega Master System (Which had been dropped in Japan back in 1988, where it was the Sega Mk3).

While i won't hid not being happy with it. I have to agree that the Comic sales and stuff showed making it Sonic only didn't harm it. I just felt it did because It seamed to give the comic a much smaller appeal base.. But, like you said, it didn't harm the Comic.

arcticcartoons said...

I loved Oink! and was so sorry when it went under.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks. I think we all were. I was fortunate that two of my pages transferred to Buster but the sheer variety of content that Oink had, combined with its energy, has never quite been recaptured since.

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