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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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Friday, 19 July 2013

The pages - The centre spread (pages 16 and 17)

The presence of colour on pages 16 and 17 (the centre pages of a 32 page comic) made them second only to the front cover in terms of prestige. Cheeky Weekly's centre spread was most regularly host to features that occupied two pages per week. For this reason, unlike previous pages posts in which I have concentrated on the history of a single page, this time I'm considering the contents of pages 16 and 17 to constitute a single entity - the centre spread.

Pin-Up Pal posters occupied the centre pages of the first 3 issues of Cheeky Weekly. These posters, the only ones in the Pin-Up Pal series to fill 2 pages, were printed sideways in order that readers who were so inclined could, after carefully opening the staples and removing the centre sheet, rotate it through 90 degrees and end up with a 'portrait' style poster with which to adorn their bedroom wall.

From issue 4, Creepy Sleepy Tale (always accompanied by the related Wednesday conclusion so for brevity any further mentions of Creepy Sleepy Tale can be assumed to include its inseparable companion strip) moved in to occupy the centre pages for 12 weeks. This included, in 31 December 1977's Christmas issue, a slight variant on the usual Creepy Sleepy Tale as instead of relating a spooky bedtime story, Cheeky escorted Baby Burpo to a scary pantomime.

Being one of the locations of colour printing within the comic, the centre pages were on several occasions appropriated for 'cut out and keep' promotions. The first such instance was Skateboard Snap which, atypically, did not span more than one week, but was self-contained in 04 February 1978's skateboard issue – printing the 48 snap cards in a single issue was achieved by using the back cover as well as the centre pages.

As things returned to normal in the wake of the special skateboard edition, Creepy Sleepy Tale was reinstated in the centre pages as of 11 February 1978, although this was one of two occasions on which CST was printed in blue and white on the centre pages rather than the normal full colour (or at least as 'full' as the rather basic newsprint comic printing process would allow). For some reason in that issue of Cheeky Weekly full colour was rationed to the front and back covers only.

CST went on to enjoy a 21 week centre spread run until 08 July 1978 when the Wednesday element of Cheeky's Week found itself on page 16 as a result of disruption due to the presence of the Buster Mini Comic featured on pages 9-12. One might have expected that the mini comics would have been printed in the centre of the host title. However the mini comics were presented on 4 Cheeky Weekly pages, each printed sideways and designed to be removed, folded in half and collated into a miniature and somewhat truncated version of the comic being promoted. In order to accurately reflect the colour covers of the guest comics, printing the cover on page 16 would mean readers leafing their way through Cheeky Weekly's pages in order would encounter what was intended to be the internal pages of the mini comic on page 15 before turning to page 16 to see the colour cover (I assume that arcane technicalities of the printing process precluded colour on page 15). The editor probably felt that this would be rather disconcerting for readers, so decided to shunt colour to page 9 and locate the mini comic cover there, then follow that with the mini comic contents on the following 3 pages. As the number of colour pages each week was strictly limited, reallocating colour elsewhere deprived the centre spread of its multi-hued nature. The shunting of the main Wednesday feature to page 16 meant the first CST page occupied page 17 that week.

Despite the presence of the Whizzer and Chips mini comic, the 01 July 1978 Creepy Sleepy Tale stayed on the centre pages because it was printed in blue and white (for the second time), presumably to bestow on it at least a smattering of colour.

Issues dated 15 and 22 July 1978, both exhibited symptoms of mini comic intrusion (Whoopee! and Mickey Mouse being the culprits). Thus in the 15 July 1978 issue page 16 hosted an ad placed by the Department of Transport (Sarah and Tim Learn the Green Cross Code) in colour, while the other side of the centre spread contained a black and white Wednesday. The 22 July 1978 comic (the final week of the mini comics promotion) saw Wednesday swap over to page 16 while the first page of Creepy Sleepy Tale appeared on page 17. Both centre spread pages that week were in black and white.

Following the conclusion of the 4-week mini comics campaign, colour resumed its rightful place on the centre spread and Creepy Sleepy Tale returned for 2 weeks before being displaced by Mustapha Million in the 12 and 19 August 1978 issues. It was probably the case that by this stage Creepy Sleepy Tale was falling out of favour with the editor, as it was very near the end of its run. Mustapha's stories were the only 2 pagers among Cheeky Weekly's humorous content at this stage, so he was the ideal replacement for CST.

The following week, 26 August 1978, in an act of mercy Creepy Sleepy Tale was allowed to expire in its old centre-page location. Creepy Sleepy Tale was the feature to appear most regularly in the middle of the comic, clocking up 35 centre spreads (36 if you include Creepy Pantomime), each one of course accompanied by a Wednesday (conclusion) at the foot of page 17.

In the next 2 issues the 'board' part of the first centre-pages multi-week cut-out game of Cheeky Weekly's run, the Crack-A-Joke Game, printed in colour, moved in. The following week the centre spread was composed of a set of Crack-A-Joke Game cards on page 16, with a Pin-Up Pal poster featuring Calculator Kid on the opposing side. The final issue to contain elements of the Crack-A-Joke Game was 23 September 1978, in which the only occurrence of a full-colour Wednesday shared the centre spread with the final batch of game cards.

The following week saw Cheeky Weekly undergo a major revamp which introduced the Mystery Comic into the middle section. Thus began Elephant on the Run's centre-spread tenure. However, 9 weeks later the comic suffered the effects of industrial action, and the number of pages were cut from 32 to 28 for 2 issues. In those truncated issues, pages 14 and 15 constituted the colour centre spread, so Elephant relocated there and was supplanted on page 16 by Mystery Boy in his only visit to the middle of the comic, and Disaster Des' first centre spread appearance on page 17 (02 December), and a page on which the Smurf competition appeared above an ad for Mickey Mouse comic opposite the Thursday element of Cheeky's Week (09 December 1978).

Deteriorating industrial relations at the printers resulted in the presses eventually grinding to a halt, and there followed 3 weeks in which Cheeky Weekly failed to appear. Returning to newsagents' shelves with the issue cover dated 06 January 1979, Elephant resumed his rightful place in the centre pages, only to be expelled in the following 4 issues by another cut-out promotion, the Friends of Cheeky Snap Game.

After the snap game concluded, Mustapha Million moved into the centre of the comic for 2 weeks, before Elephant began another run, this time of 5 weeks' duration. In 31 March 1979's issue the curious-kid-and-fulminating-father team from Why, Dad, Why? made the first of their 2 page 16 appearances, while the other half of the centre spread contained a knitting pattern enabling readers with the requisite skills (or access to a willing friend or adult suitably adept with the necessary implements) to generate a facsimile of the toothy funster's trademark striped jersey, complete with a C emblazoned on the front.

At this point publishers IPC evidently decided Cheeky Weekly had been unencumbered with a cut-out (or in this case, pull-out) promotional feature for far too long, so the first of four instalments of the Top Ten Poster appeared in the centre of the 07 April 1979 issue. Said poster consisted of a photo montage of TV, sport and pop stars. Evidently the somewhat rudimentary colour printing of IPC's comics, although suitable for cartoon strips, was unable to handle the subtleties of colour photos, so the poster elements were printed in murky black and grey tones, with orange borders and yellow caption boxes.

On 05 May 1979 Elephant briefly regained control of the centre pages, but the following issue saw Disaster Des on page 16 sharing the centre spread with a Star Guest appearance of Super Store from Whizzer and Chips on page 17.

3 weeks after the final part of the less-than-impressive Top Ten Poster, readers who had the inclination to dismember their comic were eagerly wielding their scissors in anticipation of the Cheeky Spotter Book of Town and Around (a kind of I-Spy clone), part of which occupied page 17 opposite an ad for Trebor Chews on page 16.

Our amnesiac elephant pal then enjoyed an all-too-brief 3 week centre page sojourn until Why, Dad, Why? returned to page 16 while opposite, readers were encouraged to get down and strut their funky stuff by following the cut-out instructions for the latest dancefloor craze (or so IPC hoped), the Cheeky Hustle.

Indefatigable Elephant then resumed his centre-spread run for 3 weeks, although in the middle of that run (30 June 1979, the final issue to feature The Mystery Comic as an entity in its own right) his story was reduced to a single page (16) while across the centre spread Disaster Des was enjoying a colour adventure.

The 14 July 1979 issue saw Green Cross Man return to the centre of the comic. Unlike his earlier appearance in which the road safety crusader was confined to page 16 only, this cautionary full-colour tale entitled Football Crazy occupied the whole of the centre spread.

Elephant was then back for 2 weeks, the second of which saw his story again reduced to a single page (16), with page 17 featuring a Calculator Kid story, the first time that Charlie Counter and his silicon sidekick had made it to the centre pages in strip form (they'd appeared on a poster in the 16 September 1978 comic). The following week the centre pages were again the home to two single-page stories – this time Disaster Des was on page 16 and Calculator Kid had crossed the staples onto page 17.

The toothy funster himself was then the subject of the Giant Cheeky Poster which appeared on the centre pages over the next four weeks, starting with his his feet in the first week, working up to his ears and cranium in the 08 September 1979 comic.

Middle-Eastern moneybags Mustapha Million paid another visit to the centre pages for one week, after which the showbiz wannabes of Stage School made their one and only bid for centre spread stardom.

Mustapha was back for one week, followed by Elephant, after which Mustapha enjoyed a 2-week centre spread run. There followed two issues in which the centre pages were shared by two single-page stories – the first comprising Calculator Kid and Why,Dad, Why?, and the second containing Disaster Des and Why, Dad, Why?

In the 10 November 1979 issue, Mustapha Million commenced a 7 week centre spread run, broken in Cheeky Weekly's 1979 Christmas issue dated 29 December, which featured Tub on page 16 (the only time our portly pal featured in the centre of the comic) and the front of a Christmas card to readers from Cheeky and some of his pals on page 17.

In the 05 January 1980 issue, as the comic entered its final few weeks, Mustapha Million began a 2-issue centre spread residency, which would end his appearances in the middle of the comic. Mustapha was the third most regular occupant of the centre pages, with a total of 17 2-page stories in the middle of the comic, plus of course his appearance on a Pin-Up Pal poster in Cheeky Weekly issue 2.

In the 19 January 1980 comic, Elephant made his final page 16 appearance, while across the page Disaster Des turned up on page 17 for the final time, and in the following issue the two strips swapped sides to make their final centre page appearances. Elephant on the Run was the second most regular story to appear in the centre pages, with 23 2-page stories and 3 single-pagers.

The middle of the final issue of Cheeky Weekly was home to Calculator Kid (page 16) and a Soggy the Sea Monster reprint from Shiver and Shake (page 17), both of which were in colour - I'm guessing the Soggy strip was coloured specifically for its appearance in the middle of Cheeky Weekly, and originally appeared in black and white in Shiver and Shake.

In the table below, 1/2 denotes that the element in question is the first of 2 in a single issue, 2/2 means it's the second of two elements etc. Absence of such an indicator means the element appeared on only one page in a particular issue.

Count of Elements (or distinct combinations thereof) appearing on Pages 16 and 17 

Contents of centre pages (16 + 17) Total
Creepy Sleepy Tale 1/2 + Creepy Sleepy Tale 2/2\Wednesday (conclusion) 35
Elephant On The Run 1/2 + Elephant On The Run 2/2 23
Mustapha Million 1/2 + Mustapha Million 2/2 17
Giant Cheeky Poster 1/2 + Giant Cheeky Poster 2/2 4
Snap Game 1/2 + Snap Game 2/2 4
Top Ten Poster 1/2 + Top Ten Poster 2/2 4
Pin-up pal 1/2 + Pin-up pal 2/2 3
Calculator Kid + Why, Dad, Why? 2
Crack-A-Joke Game 1/3 + Crack-A-Joke Game 2/3 2
Elephant On The Run + Disaster Des 2
Wednesday + Creepy Sleepy Tale 1/2 2
Advertisement: Department of Transport + Advertisement: Department of Transport 1
Advertisement: Department of Transport + Wednesday 1
Advertisement: Trebor + The Cheeky Spotter Book of Fun 1/2 1
Calculator Kid + Soggy the Sea Monster 1
Crack-A-Joke Game + Pin-up pal 1/2 1
Creepy Pantomime 1/2 + Creepy Pantomime 2/2\Wednesday (conclusion) 1
Disaster Des + Calculator Kid 1
Disaster Des + Elephant On The Run 1
Disaster Des + Star Guest 1
Disaster Des + Why, Dad, Why? 1
Elephant On The Run + Calculator Kid 1
Mystery Boy + Disaster Des 1
Skateboard Snap 1/3 + Skateboard Snap 2/3 1
Smurfs competition\Advertisement: IPC + Thursday 1
Stage School 1/2 + Stage School 2/2 1
Tub + Christmas Card 1/2 1
Wednesday + Crack-A-Joke Game 1/2 1
Why, Dad, Why? + Cheeky Hustle 1/2 1
Why, Dad, Why? + Cheeky's Jersey Pattern 1/2 1

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