Sunday, 9 February 2020

The final TOM THUG strip (1996)

I created Tom Thug for Oink! comic and he appeared from the preview issue in 1986, and throughout most of the 68 issue run of the comic, plus annuals and specials. See here for more info on his creation:

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.



Peter Gray said...

Love the extra details you that Pete is cured!
Hope there will be more new Tom Thug...wonder if Rebellion will one day do a weekly comic!! Also would love a reprint book of Tom thug...glad you added some extra details in the strip..

Manic Man said...

Good strip and I recognised Pete and you before I read your text ^_^

I can't remember if I did ask this but.. since it's kinda one topic..

The last issue of Buster.. Had the Wacky Jackie 'How it all ends'.. which was pretty bad.. and I think you have commented on this before.. showing how some different characters ended up.. While a couple of bits are kinda interesting (like Ivor Lott and Tony Broke reversing things.. though how Tony's family had the money to play the national lottery I don't know) most wasn't great.. buster one at the end was very bad..

If I remember, you had said that you didn't like how Tom Thug was given the end "The shame of it! I'm no longer a brainless Bully - now I'm a Brainy Bully".. really doesn't work cause if he had any brains, he shouldn't be a bully.. though my school life kinda showed that the so-called 'smart kids' were just as stupid bully gits as anyone else.. Now.. we know that Marvel, who for some reason brought it back, did a series called 'The End'.. which stated that the idea was if marvel comics was going out of business and people had just one issue to finish up, what would they do.. well, in the case of x-men, it was make a multi-volume mini-series which.. kinda goes against that idea..

anyway.. If you had just ONE panel, like you had the chance to draw that one panel of how Tom Thug might have ended, instead of.. mm. J. Edward Oliver.. How would you do it? Remember the rules, just ONE panel

Lew Stringer said...

I don't think a weekly is likely these days, Peter.

I'll have to give that some thought, Ryan. My intended ending would have needed a full page so I'm not sure I could condense it to one panel.

Anonymous said...

and the letterer was...?

Lew Stringer said...

Jack Potter lettered the dialogue. I did the sound effects and logo.