No, the OiNK real time read through hasn’t merged into Buster already. Instead, on this day back in 1988 another of OiNK’s sister publications ran a special promotional crossover strip featuring one of our favourite characters. Two weeks previous Tom Thug appeared in Whizzer and Chips trying to force himself into the gangs of either Sid or Shiner to no success. The story continued into OiNKs #54 to #56 and now, while that was still ongoing, another of Lew Stringer’s creations was meeting Buster.
Pete Throb of Pete and his Pimple fame ‘popped’ in to help push OiNK to younger readers. Again, I never knew about this strip at the time. In fact, the first Buster I ever read was the issue when OiNK merged into it, taking Pete, Tom and Weedy Willy with it. That was also the last issue I read until all these years later when writing the blog, so this is rather exciting because for me it’s my first brand new Pete strip after 35 years!
On his own blog, Lew seems surprised he was asked to contribute. “Not only did they let a then-relative-newcomer like me loose in the pages of this fine, well-established comic,” he says. “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!” Of course by this stage our piggy publication was no longer called ‘OiNK Weekly’, having fully settled into its new frequency. Also, I think Pete saying he partakes in lots of pimply pranks sounds like he enjoys having the huge zit to cause chaos with, which as we know isn’t the case. But it’s a fun little strip nevertheless.
I’ve had it confirmed by OiNK co-editor Patrick Gallagher that the comic was by no means failing at this stage. Yes, sales had declined since it went weekly and had to change a lot of what made it ‘OiNK’ first place (as well as lose eight pages per issue) but sales were down across the industry. These crossover strips were a well-meaning promotion by Fleetway Publications, who could easily have cancelled OiNK before now but decided to keep it running.
As I’ve explained before, when Fleetway bought IPC Magazines’ comics they organised them into different sales groups, for example Buster and Whizzer and Chips were in one, OiNK was in another alongside Nipper and others. If the combined sales of a group didn’t perform as well as Fleetway wanted then all of the comics in it would be canned. All of OiNK’s group were cancelled except OiNK itself, showing they knew it was already performing better than the others and had real potential. So instead they turned into a weekly to try to increase sales. Perhaps if it had remained in its fortnightly guise with more pages, its themes and all of its characters present (things that really set it apart), perhaps sales wouldn’t have fallen as much and these promotions could’ve helped more. We’ll never know.
This isn’t the first time Buster has featured on the blog. While the edition which contained the free preview issue of our own comic didn’t exactly promote OiNK within its pages (unlike Whizzer and Chips), the week before it did contain this advert for the craziness to come and a little promo for it on the cover.
Interestingly, that Ricky Rainbow character on the cover of the comic containing Pete’s strip is from Nipper comic, one of OiNK’s group mates who had already merged into Buster. Apparently Ricky could change colour at will, as well as being prone to changing colour based on his mood. I’d like to read more about him in particular but am unable to read the issue at the moment; these images have very kindly been donated to the OiNK Blog by Lew as I don’t have this issue myself yet. (Hopefully I’ll rectify that soon. Two weeks ago the Whizzer and Chips post used Lew’s images, but then a very kind pig pal was able to send me a double they owned of that issue, so the post has now been updated with my own images).
You can read more about this Pete and his Pimple promotion on Lew’s very own Lew Stringer Comics blog.