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Welcome to the Cheeky Weekly blog!
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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Sunday, 23 September 2012

Cheeky Weekly's lost 30 December 1978 issue - Reconstructed! (part 5 - The Mystery Comic)

The features which comprised The Mystery Comic were grouped in Cheeky Weekly's centre pages from the 30 September 1978 issue to that dated 30 June 1979. Therefore, had the 30 December 1978 issue appeared as planned, it's a fair bet that the Mystery Comic features would have been located together in the middle of the comic.

Element Eventually published in Published as Notes
TubCheeky Annual 1980, page 120TubThe size of this strip clearly indicates it was intended to appear below the Mystery Comic title (during the Mystery Comic's run, Tub was usually featured on The Mystery Comic's cover), so was obviously prepared for publication in the weekly comic. In Cheeky Weekly, during our chubby chum's tenure on the Mystery Comic's cover, the 'Tub' title panel was located at the top of the first frame of the strip but, since for this annual appearance the 'Tub' title has been moved up to replace the Mystery Comic banner, the title at the top of the first frame has been excised. The subject matter suggests the strip was intended for the Christmas Cheeky Weekly. There were in fact 2 Tub stories in the 1980 Cheeky Annual (the other appearing on page 57 - see below), both of which appear to have been drawn for Cheeky Weekly, but this Christmas morning story is the obvious contender for inclusion in the 30 December 1978 lost Christmas issue.

N.B. Although there was a Mystery Comic title above the Tub strip on page 57 of the 1980 Cheeky Annual, the Mystery Comic features were scattered through the annual; pages 6-8 (Mustapha Million), pages 18-19 (Why Dad Why), pages 57-59 (Tub followed by Why Dad Why), 92-93 (Disaster Des) 102-103, 115 (Why Dad Why) and 120 (Tub). This was because the Mystery Comic section of the weekly comic ceased at the end of June 1979, so there was no need for the annual to emulate those issues of Cheeky Weekly in which the Mystery Comic strips congregated on the centre pages.

My thanks to the scanner of the annual pages below who has yet again saved me from having to cram my (if I say so myself) pristine Cheeky Annual into the scanner.

Art: Nigel Edwards

Element Eventually published in Published as Notes
Why, Dad, Why?Cheeky Annual 1980, page 115Why, Dad, Why?Another page drawn for the weekly comic judging by the width/height ratio but, like Calculator Kid's strip a page earlier in the same annual, this artwork has thankfully remained unresized (is that a word?). Also like Calculator Kid, this Christmas page was curiously located in the November section of the annual.

Art: John K. Geering

Element Eventually published in Published as Notes
Disaster DesCheeky Annual 1980, page 116Disaster Des Unlike Calculator Kid and Why, Dad, Why, this page drawn for the weekly comic has been resized - the panels in the first three rows have been extended at the bottom. Des had commenced a world tour in Cheeky Weekly dated 09 December 1978 (actually he had embarked on the tour the previous week, but the ship ran aground) which accounts for him arriving at the Arctic in this story, and is evidence that this story was intended for the 1978 Christmas issue..

Art: Mike Lacey

Element Eventually published in Published as Notes
Elephant On The RunCheeky Weekly 17 February 1979Elephant On The Run I'd suggest this was one of four experiments in converting a Christmas tale into a non-festive-season story (the others being the Skateboard Squad story published in the same 17 February 1979 issue as the EOTR story below, and Calculator Kid and Disaster Des from the 20 January 1979 issue. This episode of EOTR was published in a mid-February 1979 issue of Cheeky Weekly. It's fairly obvious that references to Christmas have been removed, most noticeably in the odd wording of the caption in the first panel. The Man In The Plastic Mac's speech balloon in the same panel has probably been revised so that the word 'weekend' replaces 'Christmas'.

It looks as though the aggrieved commuter in page 1, panel 7, is spouting a similarly altered balloon, as is Elephant in the following picture. The same adjustment is evident in respect of the benevolent gent in panel 7, page 2, and I would guess Elephant's final line in this strip was originally 'Merry Christmas, Pals!". I suspect that some traditional British comic Christmas visual cues (tree, presents, decorations) have been removed from the final panel.

Maybe the editor felt that these converted non-Cheeky strips were less than satisfactory so decided to hold the remainder in abeyance until the 1980 annual. Since most kids' first sight of the annual would be on Christmas morning, stories of a festive nature wouldn't seem out of place.


Art: Robert Nixon

Element Eventually published in Published as Notes
Mystery BoyCheeky Weekly 20 January 1979Mystery BoyMystery Boy (a reprint of the Who Is Sandy strip from Whizzer and Chips) was the only Mystery Comic strip to feature a continuing story (fellow amnesiac Elephant, from Elephant On The Run, remained a fugitive for the duration of his strip, but each episode was self-contained and no plot development occurred as the series progressed).

It's therefore possible to deduce that, had there been no interruption to the publishing schedule and issues dated 16, 23 and 30 December 1978 had appeared as intended, the episode of Mystery Boy which would have appeared in the 30 December 1978 issue would have been that which was actually displaced to the third issue to appear following resumption of publication, i.e. Cheeky Weekly dated 20 January 1979. This is because the story resumed after the industrial dispute at the cliffhanger it reached in the final issue to be published before the hiatus. There was no Christmas-themed episode of Mystery Boy. Other than the substitution of the Mystery Boy title for its original name, which applied to all the strips during the series' Cheeky Weekly run, there appear to be no changes to the artwork.

Art: ?
This leaves one last character from the complement of Mystery Comic fun-pals unaccounted for - Mustapha Million. I am not aware of any converted Christmas tales featuring Mustapha in Cheeky Weekly's run. Mustapha's sole appearance in the Cheeky Annual 1980 is on pages 6, 7 and 8. This is not a Christmas-themed story and appears to have been drawn to fill an annual-size page. The Mustapha strips in Cheeky Weekly were never more than 2 pages. Probably the 1979 Christmas story was the one intended for the 1978 Christmas issue - there's no way of telling for sure.

Element Eventually published in Published as Notes
Mustapha Million Cheeky Weekly 29 December 1979Mustapha Million No real evidence for this being a deferred Christmas 1978 strip, but the balance of probabilities is that it is.

Art: Joe McCaffrey


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