I'm surprised Jack Oliver was allowed to include the barely-veiled protest against Margaret Thatcher's 1990 introduction of the notorious and short-lived Poll Tax on this page from Buster dated 13 April 1991.
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Cheeky Weekly ™ REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, COPYRIGHT © REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED was a British children's comic with cover dates spanning 22 October 1977 to 02 February 1980.
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*** CHEEKY WEEKLY, KRAZY, WHOOPEE, WHIZZER AND CHIPS and BUSTER ARE ™ REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, COPYRIGHT © REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ***
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Saturday 28 October 2023
The Whoopee Summer Special of 1993 was advertised in an ensemble publicity piece also promoting Specials portraying the football feats and hi-tech heroics of Roy of the Rovers and Thunderbirds respectively, in the 10 and 24 April 1993 editions of the weekly Buster. Publishers Fleetway Editions had chosen not to advertise the previous year's Whoopee Special in the weekly Busters during 1992, so they appear to have had a change of policy during the intervening months.
The 1992-dated Whoopee Annual, published in autumn 1991, was the final hardback collection of strips from the Whoopee stable.
Whoopee Summer Special 1993
I have been kindly provided with images of the pages of the 1993 Whoopee Special, but sadly a page (which I judge to be page 55) is missing from the collection.
Sweeny Toddler appears to have commandeered a speedboat in this cover scene of a seaside soaking drawn by Jimmy Hansen.
Frank McDiarmid provides a Boy Boss tale on page 3, which I'm assuming is a reprint.
Pages 4 and 5 are definitely reprints as they contain a Mustapha Million adventure drawn by Barry Glennard which originally entertained readers of Whizzer and Chips dated 21 June 1986.
Frank McDiarmid draws the Sweeny Toddler adventure on pages 8 and 9, a story which expands on the events depicted on the cover, so this would seem to be a new strip. I know this feature isn't really Cheeky-related but it's always good to see some colour artwork by Mr M.
The editor of this Special has reached back to 1977 for content to fill pages 32 and 33, which present a feature from Krazy dated 09 April of that year. This is the first occasion in this series of posts examining the contents of Whoopee Annuals and Specials for Cheeky-related features that I have a found a reprint to have been selected from Krazy, the comic in which Cheeky originated. It's great to see our wee pal again as Frank McDiarmid does the artwork honours on The Perils of Walter Wurx. The lettering of the story has been renewed, and two references to Krazy Town (in the caption and the shop sign) have been removed from the fifth panel. The artwork, which was originally printed in black and white, has been resized to make it slightly wider than on its debut.
An uncharacteristically irascible Showbiz teacher is on view in the Stage School escapade reprinted on pages 44 and 45 from Whoopee! dated 15 January 1983. On its original presentation, Robert Nixon's artwork benefitted from red spot colour.
The contents of the missing page 55 remain unknown, but there's a relevant feature on pages 56 and 57. Last year's Whoopee Special included a new appearance by Cheeky (albeit in a cameo role). This year Cheeky appears again, but in a reprinted episode of The Krazy Gang which originally featured among the pages of the 1981 Krazy Holiday Special. Some adjustments have been made in order to prepare this set for reprinting - the page has been coloured, the lettering has been refreshed, the artwork (by Bob 'Mr.' Hill) has been resized to widen it as was the Walter Wurx strip from Krazy above (although that originated in the weekly comic rather than a Special), and an inflationary uplift has been applied to the monetary values. This is the first occasion on this blog that a reprint has been found to have originated in anything other than a weekly comic.
Prices had risen since 1981...
Although again not Cheeky-related, there's more multi-hued work by Frank McDiarmid on page 58, and I'm assuming that like his earlier Sweeny piece, this tale of the Bumpkins and their short-lived bucolic band The Wurzeleeze (a play on real-life pastoral popsters The Wurzels, and/or possibly the arcane tongue of the bird-scaring community, Worzelese) is a new set.
Sadly, unlike last year's Whoopee Special, Frank hasn't included a cameo of Cheeky in either of his new works (although Hairy Henry Dog seems to be emulating Cheeky's Pal Walter Wurx in the first panel of the bottom row on the second page of Sweeny's story).
Was the 1993 Whoopee Holiday Special the final one? I don't know for sure, but to date I haven't seen any evidence of a later one.
Thursday 28 September 2023
I have previously posted about the artist who coyly signed himself 'Mr. Hill', and my efforts to identify his first name, having seen him referred to variously as Bob, Gordon and Len. Mr. Hill's connection to Cheeky was mainly through his long run on The Krazy Gang, who made their debut in the relatively short-lived Krazy and numbered among them our toothy pal. Mr Hill took over the Krazy Gang artwork duties from Ian Knox in 1977. Ian's surrendering of the strip was presumably because he had begun drawing the 2-pages-a-week 6 Million Dollar Gran in Cheeky Weekly. The mysterious Mr. Hill, whose artwork I've always found very appealing, continued to draw the Krazy Gang when the strip transferred into Whizzer and Chips following Krazy's 1978 cancellation, and the semi-anonymous artist drew the antics of the titular group until the strip came to an end in 1986. The enigmatic Mr H also drew our grinning hero in one issue of Cheeky Weekly.
I first broached the perplexing subject of the artist's first name back in 2013, when the consensus seemed to be that Bob was the appellation he went by outside of his comics work. I further considered the conundrum 2 years later, having discovered an item on a Whizzer and Chips letters page which confirmed that Bob is indeed his name.
However I recently lighted upon some further information which reintroduces the confusion because in Buster dated 16 February 1991, for his entry in the series 'Meet the Artists', Mr. Hill lists himself as Gordon, although giving his full name as Gordon Robert (from which we of course derive the 'Bob' by which he seems to be most frequently known).
Despite this latest revelation, I'm going to continue to refer to him as Bob Hill.
Later the same year, Bob placed an advertisement on the Buster letters page in the 19 October edition, announcing the publication of his book, Mr Hill's Mirthquake.
The address given in the advert would appear to be that of a house in a residential street so I felt it prudent to obliterate some of the details to avoid the present occupants being pestered by hordes of Mr. Hill fans.
I have been able to find very little information about Mr. Hill's humorous volume (he is evidently as reluctant to reveal his first name in his book publishing endeavours as he is with his comic work), but copies are held by a number of reference libraries, the author being known in the corridors of those august repositories of printed works as Gordon Hill.
Monday 28 August 2023
In the twelve preceding instalments of this series in which my aim is to identify any appearances of Cheeky and/or related characters in the Whoopee Specials or Annuals published since the absorption of Cheeky Weekly into the weekly Whoopee in 1980, I have been able to identify advertisements for those Specials/Annuals in weekly issues of either Whoopee, Whizzer and Chips or Buster published in the years in question. However, with regard to the year currently under investigation, 1992, I was surprised to find that there were no ads for that year's Whoopee Holiday Special in any of the issues of Buster published that year. The Buster Holiday Special of 1992 was advertised in Buster on 8 occasions, and the Buster and Monster Fun Holiday Special received 6 promotions, yet for some reason the Whoopee Special was ignored. It could be that publishers Fleetway Editions felt that sales of Whoopee Specials would accrue as a result of prospective readers or their parents seeing the Whoopee Specials alongside the Buster Specials on newsagents' shelves. Whoopee had ceased to exist as an independent weekly title back in 1985 following its merge into Whizzer and Chips, so few Buster readers in 1992 would remember Whoopee from its heyday. However, unless they were running it as a The Producers-style-scheme designed to lose money, Fleetway Editions must have expected the 1992 Whoopee Holiday Special to achieve a reasonable level of sales. In the original version of my previous post (which I have since updated), I erroneously claimed that the 1992 Whoopee Holiday Special was the final one, but I have since discovered that a Whoopee Special was published in 1993, so it would seem that despite not devoting any advertising to it, Fleetway Editions were satisfied with sales of the 1992 Special (or the losses resulting from it if my earlier wild speculation was anywhere near the truth).
The Whoopee Annual published in 1991, carrying on its cover the year 1992 as was the tradition, was the final yearly hardback collection of Whoopee fun.
Whoopee Holiday Special 1992
With a menacing Splort! and Shlup!, front cover favourite Sweeny Toddler threatens to distribute a hippo potty mess in this scatalogical and zoological scene drawn by Jimmy Hansen, presaging events in the teeny terror's story on page 2.
Mountaineering mayhem ensues on pages 4 and 5 as a Robot Granny escapade is reprinted from the pages of Whoopee! and Cheeky dated 11 July 1981. It would seem that Fleetway Editions have a different policy on the lettering on display in reprints than that of former owners of the IPC archives, as the text in this adventure has not been refurbished as it was in all the Cheeky-related reprints in last year's Special produced under the auspices of Fleetway Publications.
|Art: Ian Knox|
Mustapha Million features in a new adventure drawn by Frank McDiarmid on pages 8 and 9. I'm a little disappointed that no Boilk! (a favourite of mine among comic onomatopoeiae) is in evidence during the gastric plight of Mustapha and pals at the conclusion of the tale.
Frank also draws the single-page and mercifully excrement-free Sweeny Toddler episode on page 23, and additionally a Bumpkin Billionaires adventure spanning pages 31 to 34 in which the reluctantly wealthy protagonists encourage criminals to steal their cash. This brings the miscreants to the attention of the police, and if I mention the words 'cash rewards' those of you familiar with the typical Bumpkins storyline can probably deduce the tale's conclusion.
I'm guessing the the two sets by Frank which I describe in the paragraph above are new, but there is more work by the mighty Mr M on pages 41 and 42 in the form of a Boy Boss episode which I imagine is a reprint.
This Special is proving to be a treat for fans of Frank McDiarmid as more of his work is in evidence on pages 43 to 46 which contain a reprinted Cheeky episode that originally appeared in Whoopee! and Cheeky dated 27 June 1981. On its original outing the first page boasted red spot colour.
There's yet more work by Frank on pages 48 and 49 with another new Mustapha Million episode, and among the affable Arab's chums is a rather familiar-looking lad. Those goofy teeth, the sticky-up hair and the striped jersey - yes, it's definitely Cheeky! In addition there are some nods to Cheeky's strips of yore in the feline form of (what I choose to believe is) Granny Gumdrop's cat, Tired Tom, the cloud hovering above Mustapha's Pals, and Mustapha's appearance via a manhole (the latter 2 elements referencing Gloomy Glad and Manhole Man respectively).
There is no further Cheeky-related material in this Special.
It's great to see a new appearance of Cheeky, even if it is in a supporting role. Frank McDiarmid had previously teased Cheeky fans in the Mustapha Million episode in Whizzer and Chips dated 22 October 1988 with a character displaying similarities to our toothy pal, but in this Mustapha story it's undoubtedly Cheeky among the cast. Our grinning chum also features in a 4-page reprint, so will there be a strong Cheeky presence in the Whoopee Holiday Special of 1993? Join me soon when I'll be finding out.
Friday 28 July 2023
By 1991, Buster was the last extant weekly humour comic being published by Fleetway Publications. Buster had started the year carrying a reference on the cover of each issue to the title it had absorbed in 1990, namely Whizzer and Chips, but this acknowledgement of the 'merge' ceased after the issue dated 07 September 1991. A further change followed when the Maxwell Group offloaded their comic-publishing arm Fleetway Publications (Buster being among the titles it produced), which they had acquired from IPC in 1987 onto Egmont who merged it with their existing London Editions comic business to become Fleetway Editions. The first issue of Buster to reflect the change of ownership was that dated 14 December 1991, although surprisingly the reference to Maxwell remained in place, eventually being removed as of the 18 January 1992 edition. IPC, former owners of Buster, were now distributing the title.
|Buster dated 07 December 1991|
|Buster dated 14 December 1991|1991 saw publication of the penultimate Whoopee Holiday Special, first advertised in Buster dated 30 March 1991. UPDATE 02 August 2023 - The previous sentence was based on my misreading of the Comics UK Whoopee Specials page. I see now that the page doesn't claim that the 1992 Whoopee Special was the last. I now believe there was a Whoopee Special in 1993.
The 1991 Whoopee Holiday Special was first advertised in Buster in the 30 March 1991 edition.
It would appear that the Fleetway Specials of 1991 were published in 4 tranches - following Whoopee, Battle and Roy of the Rovers on 23 March came The Best of Billy's Boots and Buster on 04 May...
...followed by Buster and Monster Fun, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and Hot-Shot Hamish on 18 May.
Latecomers jostling their way onto the crowded newsagents' shelves on 01 June, came Dan Dare, Whizzer and Chips, Big Comic and 2000AD.
1991 saw the surprise return, for a final time, of the Whoopee Annual, publication of which had been suspended after the 1987-cover-dated Annual was printed in 1986. Was this unexpected addition to Fleetway Publications' 1991 printing schedule made with the upcoming sale of the business in mind, to make the revenue from Annuals seem more attractive than it would have been with just 2 humour titles?
Whoopee Holiday Special 1991
Sweeny Toddler is once again the cover star. Artist Jimmy Hansen has provided an aid to identification of the terrifying tyke in the form of the legend 'Sweeny is Heer' on the life belt being wielded by the notorious nipper, to aid those who may be confused by the life guard outfit. I can see no Cheeky folk among the characters scattering across the beach.
Despite not being seen on the cover, Gran makes an appearance on page 6, which features a reprinted Gran's Gang seaside-related adventure sourced from Whoopee and Wow! dated 07 April 1984. The speech balloons have been refurbished. Art by Ian Knox.
|Whoopee Holiday Special 1991|
|Whoopee and Wow! 07 April 1984|
Trainee Hypnotist, not one of the regular stars of Stage School, is the pivotal character in the story selected for reprinting on pages 14 and 15. Once again the speech balloons have been spiffed-up (but introducing typos in the balloon in the first panel of the second row on page 1, and in Sir's dialogue in the second panel of the second page). This tale of mesmeric machinations first appeared in Whoopee! and Cheeky dated 20 December 1980. Superb art by Robert Nixon.
On pages 24 and 25 we're treated to a new Mustapha Million episode drawn by Frank McDiarmid.
Sourced from the same issue as the Gran's Gang episode above (Whoopee and Wow! 07 April 1984) is this Quick Strips page including Paddywack and Cheeky. Revised speech balloons are again in evidence. Paddywack is drawn by Jack Clayton, Jim Barker is the Bleep artist, Cheeky is depicted by Cheekmeister Frank McDiarmid and the Here Is The News artwork is supplied by Ed McHenry.
This is the final Cheeky-related entry in the Special.
A Boy Boss reprint drawn by Frank McDiarmid appears on pages 50 and 51.
Whoopee Annual 1992
Jimmy Hansen is again on hand to provide the cover image, and this time Sweeny is joined in a botanical brouhaha by his parents plus Ma and Pa Bumpkin.
The first member of the Cheeky crew to make an appearance, as she was in the above Special, is Gran. However on this occasion the editor has selected an episode from Gran's robotic years, reprinted from the 26 April 1980 edition of Whoopee! and Cheeky. The captions and Speech balloons have again been re-applied, with one change. Ian Knox is the artist.
A reprinted Boy Boss episode drawn by Frank McDiarmid occupies pages 28 and 29, and on pages 34 to 36, Frank draws a Bumpkin Billionaires escapade in which young Billy rides an overweight horse in the Grand National. I assume this is a new strip.
Mustapha Million turns up on page 43, but unlike his appearance in the Holiday Special, this is a reprint. Cut down to a single page from the 2-page adventure originally presented in Cheeky Weekly dated 21 April 1979, this truncated version of the story was previously reprinted in Whizzer and Chips now including Whoopee dated 18 May 1985. Some colour has been applied to what was a monochrome tale on its previous outings, and the speech balloons have again been refreshed. The phrase 'mud bombs' in the original was replaced with 'mud pies' on the strip's previous reprinting, and that change is maintained here. Joe McCaffrey is the artist.
The kind-hearted pupils help Sir out of a tricky situation with a school cleaning lady in the Stage School adventure on pages 68 and 69. This story is another selection from Whoopee and Wow! dated 07 April 1984, the issue which yielded the Gran and Quick strip pages in the above Whoopee Holiday Special. The plot sees the kids flatter the cleaning lady by comparing her to a character from the TV Soap Coronation Street. When the strip originally appeared the comparison was made with 'Annie Worker', a reference to the TV character Annie Walker. Since the character was no longer appearing on screen in 1991, the reference in the strip was changed to Bet Gilroy with no attempt to make a play on the name. Once again the text has been updated, although Sir's original 'Erk!' as he attempts to control the unruly vacuum in the first panel of the bottom row on the first page survives. Art by Robert Nixon.
The final Cheeky-related material in this Annual is another vintage Mustapha Million tale, this time originating from Cheeky Weekly dated 15 December 1979 but previously reprinted in Whoopee dated 16 March 1985, just 2 issues short of the comic's demise. The original strip was printed in colour, but on its previous reprinting it was presented in red spot colour. The colours used in this latest reprinting don't conform to the colour design of the strip's original outing. Art by Joe McCaffrey.
Immediately following the above adventure is another 3-page Bumpkin Billionaires set drawn by Frank McDiarmid. This escapade concerns a wig worn by the bank manager. Neither of the two Bumpkins episodes in this Annual follow the usual 'Bumpkins trying to dispose of their wealth' plotline.
Someone didn't check the small print at the foot of the inside back cover of this Annual (I'm not referring to the name of the publisher as presumably the sale of the business hadn't occurred when the Annual contents were sent to the printer).
The final Whoopee Holiday Special appeared in 1992, and I'll be examining its contents soon. UPDATE 02 August 2023. As explained above, the first part of the preceding statement is incorrect due to an error on my part. However, I will be examining the contents of the 1992 Special, which I now don't believe was the final one, soon.