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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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Saturday, 28 August 2010

The Features - Mustapha Million

Art Reg Parlett
The Mustapha Million strip made its debut in the first Cheeky Weekly and appeared in all but 3 issues of the comic.  106 stories were 2-pagers, with the remaining 8 episodes completing in a single page. Early strips see a lonely Mustapha asking British kids to play, then lavishing his vast wealth to secure their friendship, morally a rather dubious scenario.  Later strips show Mustapha using his cash to help kids out of various predicaments, or getting into scrapes after misunderstanding British phrases or customs.
1st appearance - art Reg Parlett

The strip was drawn by 4 artists during its Cheeky run, with Reg Parlett, who was the original artist, and Joe McCaffrey each delivering 56 episodes, While John K Geering and Colin Whittock each stood in on one occasion.  Joe's first work on the character was a single page story in the issue dated 14 January 1978, after which Joe deputised occasionally until Reg's last Mustapha story appeared in the issue dated 17 February 1979.  Joe then supplied all the artwork with the exception of John K Geering's contribution in the 03 November 1979 comic and Colin Whittock's in the 17 November 1979 edition.

Joe McCaffrey's first Mustapha strip

Reg Parlett

Eventually Mustapha developed a friendship with Jimmy (who was first named in the issue dated 04 March 1978), a lad whose hair colour wasn't consistent across the episodes.

In the early issues of Cheeky Weekly, Fridays would find Cheeky seeking out the Mystery Comic, in which Mustapha was one of the characters.  Initially, Mustapha's was the only story from the mysterious publication that we saw, until Cheeky Weekly dated 30 September 1978, from which date the whole of the Mystery Comic was incorporated into Cheeky Weekly. In his strip in the comic dated 17 November 1979, Mustapha is seen reading a copy of Cheeky Weekly. Thus, in an infinitely recursive, meta-disappearing-up-their-own-fictionality loop, Mustapha is a character in a comic read by Cheeky, while Cheeky is a character in a comic read by Mustapha.

Mustapha was one of the guests at Pete and Pauline Potts' party in the 6 Million Dollar Gran strip in Cheeky Weekly dated 06 October 1979.

Jimmy's inconsistent hair

Mustapha exceeded his planned year's stay in Britain by some time, lasting the 2-year-plus run of Cheeky Weekly, and some years more in Whoopee! then Whizzer and Chips.
John K Geering















The Mustapha Million strips that originally appeared in Cheeky Weekly dated 05 November 1977, 26 November 1977 and 03 December 1977 were reprinted in the 1985 Cheeky Annual, which was the final Cheeky Annual to be published, and relied more heavily on reprints than the earlier annuals.  For more details see Bruce's blog.

Friends of Cheeky Chit-Chat
24 March 1979

                                                                                                                                                         
FeatureFirst AppearanceFinal AppearanceTotal IssuesTotal Issues Missed In RunPage History
Mustapha Million22-Oct-7702-Feb-8011436,7,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29



Issues Missed In Run
27-Jan-79
28-Apr-79
16-Jun-79

UPDATE 10 January 2012: In the table below, Mustapha Million's appearances in The Mystery Comic are counted separately where indicated in the Feature column.


Feature Artist Number of Issues First Appearance Final Appearance
Mustapha Million Reg Parlett4522-Oct-197723-Sep-1978
Mustapha Million Joe McCaffrey3314-Jan-197802-Feb-1980
Mustapha Million Mystery ComicReg Parlett1130-Sep-197817-Feb-1979
Mustapha Million Mystery ComicJoe McCaffrey2314-Oct-197830-Jun-1979
Mustapha Million John K. Geering103-Nov-197903-Nov-1979
Mustapha Million Colin Whittock117-Nov-197917-Nov-1979

10 comments:

  1. To me, this was in many ways a very touching strip. We’d had quite a few Fleetway characters with varying attitudes to wealth, however acquired. There were Lolly Pop with his meanness, Ivor Lott with his arrogance and the Bumpkins who were, well, mad (wasteful might have been a kinder term)! With Mustapha, this was radically different from all of the above. He used his wealth, yes, but not to show off or to buy his friends’ friendship. It was the simple act of giving. He’d determine a need and try to fill it, generally with overblown results but his intentions were never anything but good. If only there’d been more strips like this … sniff!

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    1. You raise a good point about the contrast between Mustapha and Fleetway's other rich characters. MM was certainly a highlight of Cheeky Weekly when drawn by Reg Parlett.

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  2. My only grumble is the pound signs (££) substituting Ls; very distracting and puzzling to young eyes, at least in my case. Gran had the same trouble when she appeared in Whoopee: $6,000,000 meant nothing at all to me at the time – and I don’t exactly see such figures daily now!

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    1. Yes, could have resulted in thousands of kids confusing L and £ in their exercise books!

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  3. When’d Mustapha come to an end in W&C? There were still original strips by Frank McDiarmid in the last (chronological) issue I saw at the British Library, 30/12/89. I’ll check the 1990 issues sometime; I suspect it didn’t make it to the final few months, e.g. W&C’s execrable new look from May onwards. Unless of course you already have an answer, to spare me the agony of the Billy Bunter days.

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    1. I'm afraid I can't spare you the Bunter era with a definitive answer, as my W&C collection ends, coincidentally, at December 1989. At one time I believed that I had bought W&C until it folded - evidently a false memory. Now I think that after 1989's Christmas issue I decided to stop buying the comic as I was running out of storage space. Of course had I known that the comic would limp on for a matter of months I would have carried on buying it. I have occasionally looked on ebay to see if any 1990 issues appear, but have never seen any (I'm not that adept with the auction site so I may be missing something). The circulation was clearly dwindling by the time that W&C entered the 90s resulting, I would guess, in fewer surviving copies than from the comic's heyday. I have seen a scan of the final W&C which does include Mustapha drawn by Frank McDiarmid, as well as scans of 05 May and 23 June, both of which include MM by FM. So it would seem MM continued to appear from Dec 89 until the comic's demise, but it would be nice to be able to confirm whether he had an unbroken run during the comic's final 10 months.

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  4. Whether or not Mustapha had an unbroken run, the BL certainly didn’t. Reading the volumes a year or two ago, there are a few editions missing from the early part of the year. It was somewhat jarring to read original Fuss-Pot stories by Barry Glennard, and then to see them repeated in Buster circa 1999. Of course, this is no different to reading, say, Ringer Dinger from 1971 and then seeing the reprints in Cheeky eight years later; but absolutely dismaying when one thinks there was little else BUT repeats in Buster for its last several years. From about September 1990, the BL (it would have been the Colindale Newspaper Library) stopped receiving Buster till around 1998, which admittedly doesn’t do one’s research any good, but in terms of it being a loss, as such … I think not.

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    1. I wonder why IPC or whatever it was called by then didn't supply a copy of Buster to the Library for that period. Surely it wasn't due to lack of finances. Maybe they were just embarrassed at how poor the comic had become.

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  5. It gets odder: the BL’s holdings for Roy of the Rovers AND Eagle also end in September 1990. My theory, admittedly conjectural, is that it has to do with the merger of the Beezer and Topper on the same date, 22/9/90. Could it have been assumed that because the Topper came to a technical end, other titles had – a muck-up, in short? The BL aren’t sure; but a bizarre coincidence. Woe to their legal deposit team!

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