Story File: The Incredible Sulk
Despite being something of a one-trick pony – as were the majority of humour comics characters – The Incredible Sulk was a brilliant creation. Each week in Jackpot saw him throw an almighty strop, usually at home with mum and dad, but sometimes also at school or out and about in town. The meltdown would generally be sparked by the most inoffensive of slights, remarked upon with an ‘Uggle buggle!’, a ‘Hmmmp! Hmmmp!’, a scowl and a quivering of the lower lip, during which all who knew him well would take cover beneath the table or behind a curtain before the full-on head-clasping, arm-waving, ground-thumping sulk brought destruction on all around. The title of the strip is a play on The Incredible Hulk, but Sulk seemed to owe more as a character to the popular image of tennis player John McEnroe who was at the height of his infamy at almost exactly the same time as Sulk’s 104-issue run in Jackpot.
Incidentally, Sulk’s parents to actually call him Sulk, which probably doesn’t help. In fact, quite a few of his paddies do seem to be provoked (for example, see the scene below in which Dad celebrates after winning a game of draughts – that would have sent me into a bloodcurdling rage as a kid), so it’s hard to feel too much sympathy towards them. That said, it doesn’t take much to offend Sulk. I have no doubt he’s on Twitter today.
Major credit must go to artist Jim Petrie for the creation of such a memorable, vibrant character. Jim didn’t do too much work for IPC, and is perhaps best remembered for his work on Minnie the Minx in DC Thomson’s The Beano. There’s a lovely tribute to him here on John Freeman’s downthetunes.net
Understandably, The Incredible Sulk appears to have been one of Jackpot’s most popular stories. It lasted the comic’s entire run of more than two-and-a-half years, appearing in every single issue but sadly not surviving the comic’s merger with Buster. For over a year (5 January 1980 to 21 March 1981) it was Jackpot’s back page story, and between 1 March 1980 and 21 June 1980 the story had the honour of starting on the front cover – three panels generally setting the scene for a major tantrum on the back page.