Tag Archives: Lew Stringer

DEREK THE TROLL: A ROCK SOLiD RERELEASE

Lew Stringer is synonymous with OiNK thanks to his creations Tom Thug, Pete and his Pimple and Pigswilla alongside a multitude of one-off strips and the scripts for Ham Dare, Pig of the Future. But I remember Lew being everywhere back in the 80s, popping up in my Transformers and The Real Ghostbusters comics as well as a slew of other titles. But before all this he’d created a certain smelly little troll by the name of Derek whose comic collection is available to buy again thanks to a second printing.

Derek the Troll was originally created in 1984 for a competition in the role-playing magazine Warlock. He may not have been the winning entry but the editors liked him so much he became a regular strip in every issue. When it folded Derek made the transition to White Dwarf for a few issues before he was retired in 1987. He made a return for the book You Are the Hero in 2013 and then most recently in digital comic Goof, the last issue of which was never released so hopefully we’ll get to see the conclusion to that story in the future.

So who is Derek? Well, in the world of role-playing games the trolls are a breed of character generally overlooked as grunts in bigger battles, cannon fodder for the enemy. Think vile, smelly, disgusting versions of pawns in chess. To quote Lew, Derek is “a likeable troll with obnoxious habits”, which sounds like a character OiNK fans can get behind. The strips are highly imaginative, given the almost limitless scope of the tabletop games universes he’s meant to be set in.

Sometimes Derek is downtrodden, sometimes he gets the upper hand, so you never know where each tale is headed. There are more fun monster designs, plenty of puns, a rhyming strip, a make-your-own-adventure strip and loads of genuine laughs. Included are all of Derek’s stories from the aforementioned magazines, the 2013 book and even the original story sent in as part of that competition, which sees print here for the first time.

But that’s not all. As noted on the cover the complete run of a character called Rock Solid is also included and right at the back of the comic you’ll even find a little bit of Combat Colin.

Rock Solid is an egotistical, self-centred space hero whose ego is a lot more evident than any actual talent. Lew explains how Rock was difficult to write as he was deliberately created to be unlikeable, yet the readers had to enjoy the strip and want to see more. It’s a delicate balancing job and I think it works, even if by the end you’re hoping he’ll get his comeuppance. Does he? You’ll have to buy the comic to find out.

Rock Solid was created for early 80s independent comic Swift Sure and all five chapters of the story are present here, fifteen pages in total. Just as we’d later see with Combat Colin every week in the pages of Transformers, Lew’s ability to create enjoyable villains has always been strong. The gross Lucas Mucus is the highlight here and you can see him channelling his inner Tom Thug above. He’s a mutated human ruling over the gross alien race, the Grots. On this following page we’re introduced to their very alien language and the need for reader translations.

Rounding off the package are two half-page Combat Colin strips. This was originally released before Colin’s own series began, four issues of which have already been published. Unfortunately, the website host of Lew’s online shop closed down a while back and his comics have been unavailable. But he’s now selling again through his own eBay seller’s page, starting with Derek’s comic.

Derek the Troll has 32 pages in total on very high quality paper with card covers, and two pictures cards of Derek and Colin are also included. There’s an interesting editorial and under each strip you’ll find the original dates of publication and little snippets of information from Lew about each. All of this is only £6.00 including postage. It comes bagged and boarded, posted in a card-backed envelope to keep it safe in the post and every issue will be signed on the inside. So if you haven’t bought any of Lew’s independent comic releases yet make sure you start now with your own copy of Derek the Troll, then keep an eye on the blog for reviews of the other titles as they become available again.

To finish with, here’s a brilliant little sequence from the top of Derek’s final appearance in White Dwarf magazine. The magazine’s editors loved him but apparently opinion amongst readers was divided, so Lew decided to concentrate on his OiNK and Transformers work instead. I think this is a hilarious response!

WHAT A MUG!: CREATiNG TOM THUG

It was 1984, two years before the launch of OiNK and Lew Stringer was asked by IPC Magazine‘s Group Editor of humour comics Bob Paynter if he’d like to contribute to the brand new comic. At this point Bob hadn’t asked for it to be renamed from its original moniker of ‘Rrassp!’ yet (after seeing several pig related items in it), but the first draft of the dummy issue had been produced and it was slowly coming together.

Bob was looking for more cartoonists to add to the mix who could bring their own unique style of humour and art to the mix. OiNK was to be very different in every conceivable way to IPC’s other comics and they were putting a lot of money and resources behind its launch. As such, it was the perfect launching pad for those trying to break into mainstream funnies.


Brand new characters often take a while to get right and Tom looked more like Frankenstein’s monster in this concept than a school bully!

Lew Stringer

At this point in his career Lew had produced some strips for Marvel UK and towards the end of 1984 would begin contributing the regular Robo-Capers for The Transformers. By the time OiNK launched he’d be a well known name to fans of those comics, but this wasn’t yet the case.

A “dim skinhead bully character” was suggested to Bob and according to Lew he suggested in return, “Perhaps his dad could be pushing him to be a bully to follow the family tradition, to inherit his boots”. This will sound familiar to anyone who has read the review of the OiNK preview issue.

This initiated Lew’s development of what would eventually become Tom Thug (What a Mug!) in OiNK. “I knew IPC liked puns on existing concepts and it sounded a bit like Tom Thumb,” he explains.

Previously on Lew’s personal comics blog he shared his very first rough sketches of Tom from 1984 and with his very kind permission I’m able to share them with you here now on the OiNK Blog as we look forward to the full review of #1.

You’ll see how the original idea was somewhat different to the character we all came to know and love in the regular comic. As Lew explains, “Brand new characters often take a while to get right and Tom looked more like Frankenstein’s monster in this concept than a school bully!

“Anyway, after a few more sketches, I eventually gave Tom a rounder look and something I felt comfortable submitting. Bob only wanted to see the strip in a pencil stage at this point, and here’s the actual artwork I sent him.”

This is the original roughed out page which showed Bob what Lew’s first story idea would be, setting the foundations for what would hopefully become a regular strip. Bob decided to rewrite the script a little, which Lew says tightened things up and created a better build-up to the punchline.

A lot of the content of this dummy comic made its way into the free preview issue. Remember as well that when Lew and Bob spoke an earlier version of the issue had already been created, so this gives an idea of just how long new comics could take to be developed, approved and finally given the green light for publication.

Tom proved incredibly popular with OiNK readers, including this one, regularly making it into reader’s lists of favourites. When the comic finished he was one of only three characters to make the transition to Buster alongside Lew’s Pete and his Pimple and Mark Rodger’s/Mike Green‘s Weedy Willy. Incidentally, Tom crossed over with both in the pages of OiNK, but he was the only one to last beyond six months in the merged comic.

He quickly became one of Buster’s most popular characters too, something which editor Allen Cummings acknowledged in a letter to Lew in 1990. The “Brats” mentioned here is a reference to The Vampire Brats, another Buster strip Lew was drawing but which was written by Mark Rodgers and later Roy Davis.

In fact, across both comics Lew ended up creating an incredible 440 strips for the “dim skinhead bully character”.

At the time some parental groups felt OiNK’s contents were a bad influence on children and even these days I read the occasional comment online from someone who is confused at having a school bully as the main “hero” of a strip. But he was never the hero.

As Lew put it himself on his blog, “The intention of making him the villain of the story was to act as some contrast to all the goody-goody characters in IPC comics. The idea being that the reader would be laughing AT the character, rather than with him, and more importantly to act as some form of catharsis for readers who had been bullied in real life.”

OiNK CARTOONiSTS ASSEMBLE!: NEW ACES WEEKLY STRIPS

Who wants some brand new Psycho Gran from David Leach and brand new Combat Colin from Lew Stringer? That made you sit up and take notice, didn’t it? Well that’s exactly what you can get by tapping those trotters over to the Aces Weekly website.

If you’re unfamiliar, Aces Weekly is the brainchild of David Lloyd (V for Vendetta, Wasteland, Knight Rider) and Bambos Georgiou (The Real Ghostbusters, Knights of Pendragon, Spider-Man) and is an online only anthology comic containing a variety of strips from across the spectrum of creators and genres.

Each volume consists of seven weekly issues and costs only £6.99. That’s only £1 per issue! The current volume is their 50th, meaning the title has clocked up a mighty impressive 350 issues to date. As ever, it’s chock full of brilliant content, not least of which are strips starring OiNK‘s Psycho Gran and Transformers/Action Force‘s Combat Colin. Both characters have appeared a few times before in Aces and have been invited back for this celebratory volume.

Below are the first pages of the two different Psycho strips from David Leach. A fan favourite since her first appearance in OiNK #15, these new additions to her story do not disappoint.

The first is called Dog Toffees and the little old dear is taking Archie for a walk in the park when someone approaches her to ask for a doggy bag. An innocuous tale to anyone not familiar with her appearances in OiNK perhaps, but for fans we know better and you won’t be disappointed. The second one is titled Fantastic Voyage II and as you can see it’s a rather topical outing. Believe me when I say even those of us who grew up with her won’t see this one coming.

Psycho appears in #6 and #7 of the current volume of Aces Weekly.

Currently over on the blog’s Instagram feed I’ve been reading Marvel UK‘s Transformers in real time (started on the old blog, these will be getting monthly round ups from the first issue this September) and one of the highlights every week is Lew’s Combat Colin. So it’s a thrill to read a brand new Combat adventure in the final issue of the volume.

Two of the madcap supervillains also return, namely Professor Madprof whose name I have always found hilarious, as well as Bankrobber Man. Anyone who grew up with these loonies will take one look at the preview above and feel right at home.

All three of these strips are three pages apiece and are only a small part of the quality reading material gathered within these issues. But that’s not all, because both Psycho Gran and Combat Colin have had their own series of independent comics released over the last few years from David and Lew. Look out for reviews of all of those over the coming months on the OiNK Blog.

So there you go, a quick preview of brand new strips from two OiNK legends, featuring fan favourite characters from two comics this very site covers. So what are you waiting for? Nip on over to the Aces Weekly website where you can buy the complete 50th volume for just £6.99. Hop to it!