When Oink! merged into Buster in 1988, Tom Thug was one of the fortunate few characters to hop over. He became a very popular character in Buster, proving that showing bullies getting their comeuppance every week is always something kids like to see.
Today I'm showing the final Tom Thug strip I did. It appeared in Buster dated 9th July 1996, meaning that the character had a 10 year run. This wasn't quite the end though, as (due to dreaded cuts in the comic's budget) reprints of Tom's earlier stories began to appear from the following issue, and continued until the very last issue of Buster at the end of 1999.
I didn't know this would be the last one until after I'd submitted the script, so there's no conclusive ending (which I would have preferred). However, as I knew it was Tom's final outing when I drew it, I added a few things for my own amusement:
The lady wearing the headscarf in panel 4 was based on my mum, and that's me in the foreground (as I looked then). The juggler is Pete (from my old strip Pete and his Pimple) finally cured and spot-free.
The black dog in panel 8 is based on my dog who was 11 years old at the time. (She lived to be 18. Still much missed.)
The number next to my signature beside the last panel is the total number of Tom Thug strips I'd done, including that one; 440 in all!
Will Tom Thug ever return? No idea, but I gave him a cameo in last year's Cor!! Buster Humour Special and he's also part of a crowd scene in a few panels in the forthcoming Cor!! Buster Easter Special. I'd like to think he could be revived one day in a strip of his own, or at least as part of a reprint in Rebellion ever do a collection of old Buster strips. Time will tell.
|Cover of the Buster that contained the final new Tom Thug strip.|