The Eternal Reek of Damp Wool...
Created by Jo Burt and published monthly in Mountain Biking UK, the long running Mint Sauce cartoon appeals for many reasons. It can be funny, poignant, symbolic, subliminal, spiritual, uplifting, perceptive or just plain weird. One thing it always is, however, is beautiful, reflecting the background to mountain biking itself. The strips have evolved from simple black and white panel strips to the multi- coloured works of art they are today. The series is full of symbolic references, long running jokes, drama, poetry, song lyrics, fine landscapes, and some less than top form mountain biking.
This site is here to share some of the sheep's finer (and perhaps less fine) moments, and to delve back into the rich twenty nine year history of the world's only famous imaginary ex-farmyard mountain-biking cartoon cycling livestock ever to grace the pages of a national monthly cycling magazine (based in Bath).
Hero or anti hero? Mishun H Sugworth is a complex character, displaying flashes of brilliance, ineptitude, kindness and selfishness, often all in the same month. He first appeared to the world in 1988, displaying a certain lack of off road panache. The size of Mint's head then increased over time, in line with his ego.
Despite being apparently dead for several months in the summer of 1993 (after widespread outcry it turned out it was his stunt double that suffered this fate), he has gone from strength to strength, ignoring or falling for the fads and fashions that pervade the mountain biking world. A self confessed gear fetishist, Mint has a strong spiritual connection with the land. Not that he realises...
The solid and dependable member of the Mint Sauce collective, he was originally known as Cattle Grid Coleman, a result of his stutter. Unflappable and calm, Coleman effectively plays the straight man (or cow) to Mint, putting up with Mint's tempers and tantrums with stoic resignation.
Arriving in June 1988, he leapt into the spotlight on Mint's death and stepped in as the Fabulous Fantastic Formidable Fushcia Friesian (call sign F x 5), leading to a power struggle with our titular hero on his unexpected return. Control of the strip was inevitably lost after Coleman's argument with a stroppy Cheviot. Relations between Mint and Coleman were strained for a sometime after this episode.
Named after a green movement in India, Chipko first met Mint in November 1989, after he came the aid of a tree Mint had typically crashed into. A spiritual deep thinker, many of Mint's beliefs are cherry picked from the Chipko philosophy.
A quiet bedrock and hugger of foliage and forest, Chipko understands the true value of nature. There have been occasional rumours of an affair between Oonagh and Chipko, but this remains unconfirmed.
Mint's long suffering girlfriend, Mint met Oonagh in the Spring of 1989, when he was attracted by her nice lugwork and dainty set of ankles. She generally keeps Mint out of trouble, but also has a harsher side, once selling all her offspring for bike parts. Oonagh's appearance meant that Mint's original riding partner Sam Jacinto was rarely seen again, and even today we don't know of Sam's whereabouts.
There have of course been rumours of an affair between Oonagh and Coleman, as well as Chipko. Its a tangled web...
The personification of summer itself, and arguably Mint's true love. Summer originally appeared in 1993 when she kept Mint company during his apparent death.
Beautiful and perfect, she is also fickle by nature, appearing only fleetingly before disappearing once again in the Autumn mist, regrets and unrequited love trailing in her wake. Traveling round the world following the ebb and flow of nature's hidden tides she represents something to look forward to, and something to miss once she's gone.
Summer is also Mint's link to the beauty and optimism that he sometimes seems to comprehend. It is also Mint's sense of longing for his occasional friend that has arguably driven Oonagh to find comfort elsewhere.
A forerunner to Summer, and the personification of spring. A glove puppet, no one knows who hand is doing the influencing. Is in fact woven into the tapestry of Celtic mythology's guardian earth spirits.
The Woodland Sprites
Guardians of the forest the kindly sprites look after and improve the trails, helping Mint on his way. We first met them in June 1995, battling off their evil counterparts, the Imps.
Luckily for Mint, Death's sense of timekeeping and affable incompetence mean that the chances of him killing the cartoon sheep (again) remain slim.
Death habitually stalks Mint, and although he is always outwitted or out ridden he represents the dangers of Mountain Biking and the fragility of life.
Death first appeared first in a December 1995 double spread. Carrying a garden strimmer.
The Mendip Brothers
The brothers look like you wouldn't want to cross them but in fact they are most accommodating in that respect. First referenced in December 1991, they first befriended Mint in March 1993.