Monday, 16 March 2015

BUSTER AND WHIZZER & CHIPS: SHARING THE LOVE


I'm a bit early to be covering the merge you're thinking?  Well no I'm not, but these two issues of Oink!'s sister publications are worth hunting down to complete your collection of prime porky products.

With Oink! now weekly and the publishers wanting to increase that target audience demographic of younger readers, a bit of crossover promotion was called for.  Originally aimed at the same age group as those two comics above, but at those with a different and more modern sense of humour, Oink! had grown beyond this and had become a hit with young adults and students too.  Part of this was down to the fact it never spoke down to the kids and so those older readers could also sit back and enjoy the universal humour. Selling roughly 100,000 per fortnightly issue was a great success but when Fleetway took over and divided its comics into groups it was the combined group sales which were taken into account instead of individual titles.

Buster and Whizzer and Chips were placed in one group with other titles selling roughly the same amount (200,000 + and this was per week, not every two weeks like Oink!) and Oink! was placed in a different group, even though it was selling much more than its new group mates.  When the others were cancelled however Oink! was saved.  Fleetway saw potential and decided to shift it to a weekly format and try to grow that original target audience.

I've discussed at length how it attempted this with the changes made in the weeklies and now they were letting Oink! supremo Lew Stringer loose with two of the comic's most popular characters to promote it in the above titles.  Pete and his Pimple and Tom Thug were among reader's most cherished regular stars and so they were deemed perfect to nip across to these other two Fleetway comics to try to bring back some new, younger readers.

However, to read these strips I'm merely going to point you in the right direction instead of scanning them in myself.  The reason is simple, Lew has covered both of these strips in separate posts on his own Blimey! blog and I'd simply be quoting him anyway and filling the gaps in-between with my own less eloquent wording.  So let's cut out the middle man and get right to the nitty-gritty and let Lew talk you through the creation of these two wonderful half-page strips featuring Oink! and Buster/Whizzer and Chips characters alike, side-by-side:



With the two comics coming out at slightly different times I've chosen this date to share them with you, kind of a midway meeting point of their respective 27 year anniversaries.

However, technically this wasn't the first time an Oink! character had appeared alongside those from these two comics.

In the Whizzer and Chips issue dated Monday 3rd May 1986 the front cover contained a very unique strip.  Not only can multiple characters be seen in one story (even Buster himself making a guest appearance) but a new character has joined them from elsewhere!  Well, for the most part he's joined them anyway...:


Only the previous week Whizzer and Chips had come in a plastic bag with a pink pig on the front and the bigger, shinier preview issue of the new comic that was Oink! was included inside free of charge.  Now Uncle Pigg himself had also made a partial guest appearance alongside not only stars of this comic, but also the the character who he'd eventually send off three of his stars to join towards the end of 1988.

Oink!'s launch must've been an exciting time!

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