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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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Monday, 4 May 2015

The Mike Lacey and Jimmy Hansen Crisis! Part 1

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of an ongoing series of posts in which I am documenting the 'Cheeky raids' in Whizzer and Chips. In order to research this series I embarked on, and continue, a programme of re-reading all the issues of Whizzer and Chips commencing from the Whoopee merge in March 1985. This is the first time I have looked at these issues since I bought them weekly as they were being published.

This exercise has been quite instructive in ways other than relating to the Cheeky raids. I have been pleasantly surprised to find how good the comic was as it reached this late stage in its life (I'm currently up to the February 1987 issues). The old faves - Odd-Ball, Joker, Sweeny Toddler to name but three - continued giving good value, and some fun newcomers - Bottom of the Class, Memory Banks, for example - kept the mix bubbling nicely. Furthermore, some gaps in my (far from comprehensive) comic knowledge have been filled as on a number of occasions during the period in question readers wrote in to W&C asking who drew particular strips. Thus was the true identity of the first Store Wars artist revealed a few weeks back. Now I have learned something that has exposed a serious deficiency in my comics knowledge and plunged me into a bit of a crisis.

Actually, this comics quandary began developing a few weeks ago when I read a W&C letters page in which a reader asked the name of the artist who drew Shiner. Now, I'd always believed that the stories of the head Chip-ite were drawn by Mike Lacey, so I was not a little surprised to read that the adventures of our black-eye-sporting buddy in fact originated from the pen of Jimmy Hansen. Jimmy's was a name that I was aware of, but for some reason had never attributed to any particular strips. My shock at learning I had mis-identified the hand behind Shiner for so many years (never mind the fact that I must have read the same letter when the comic first came out) induced a crisis of confidence in my artist-identifying skills, which I thought were pretty good in respect of IPC humour comics of the 70s and 80s. I realised I suffered an ingrained blindness as to the different styles of Messrs Lacey and Hansen and really couldn't identify one from the other. A very odd feeling. I then entered a state of denial about the whole episode.

My inability to accept the reality of the situation was shattered when I read the following letters page in Whizzer and Chips dated 28 Fenruary 1987...


That was another of my comics certainties destroyed - I'd always believed the Bumpkins to have been by Mike.

By this time it was clear I needed to re-evaluate any references to Mike Lacey on this blog.

First of all, let's have a look at the Bumpkins strip from the same issue of W&C in which the above letter appeared...

Art: Jimmy Hansen

And, for comparison, here's the Phil Fitt story from the same edition, and I think this is by Mike Lacey...


Using just one strip from each artist to identify their differences is difficult of course, but I have been studying multiple examples over the last couple of weeks and I think I'm now beginning to see the differences. It's hard to generalise about the divergences in their style, but I would say Jimmy's work goes more into extremes of action and facial expression (sometimes bordering on the grotesque), whereas Mike's work is a little more reserved.

I have now begun to re-evaluate the Cheeky Weekly work that I have heretofore attributed to Mike Lacey. I began by looking at Skateboard Squad and its successor Speed Squad.

Let's pick a page from each and have a look at the drawing style...



...I reckon the above is by Jimmy Hansen - note the face in panel 8; not a Mike Lacey expression..


..the women in this Speed Squad strip seem to be variations on a theme of Ma Bumpkin so I'm going for Jimmy Hansen again.

I'd welcome any comments about my re-identification, whether you agree with my conclusions or not, before I go ahead and update the blog (and then go on to look at the remaining work I have attributed to Mike). Cheers!

11 comments:

  1. Not a lot in it...I agree...

    Cuddly mothers are normally by Mike..Mike drew all the x ray specs and Sid's Snake..
    Shiner was drawn by Mike...But the late 80's must be Jim...
    Jim drew the Bumpkins again in the late 80's...when the bank manager had a woman assistant...

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    1. Thanks for the info Peter. Yes, Shiner must have changed from Mike to Jim some time in the 80s which no doubt added to my confusion.

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    2. btw I think the name of the bank manager's secretary in The Bumpkins was Miss Wobblethrope!

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  2. Identifying artist styles can be really challenging at times and like you, I have a hard time distinguishing Mike Lacey from Jimmy Hansen. I wonder when Jimmy Hansen started doing comics work? Knowing the year would be helpful – I assume it was sometime in the mid-80s? Tom Williams also drew quite a few sets of Bumpkin Billionaires…

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    1. Thanks for the reply Irmantas. When/if I get time I will go back through my W&C collection to try to identify when Jimmy's work started appearing, although as you say it may be difficult to tell.

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    2. Another thought - I think I'll look back at the W&Cs from 1977-80 to see if I can see any evidence of Jimmy Hansen during the life of Cheeky Weekly.

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  3. It's all rather complicated, because Jimmy took over Mike's most popular strips as he wound down towards retirement (you will find a late 80s half page Sid's Snake drawn by Mike on the subject of a big birthday showing him drawing with a prehensile long beard - presumably after Jimmy took over Shiner), such as the Billionaires, Shiner and Sid, and Jimmy clearly modelled his own style after Mike's - VERY closely indeed!

    Do revisit the old Speed and Skateboard Squad strips. My guess is you'll find a mixture, but I think the majority were by Mike.

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    1. Thanks for the background info Andy. My current feeling is that all the Skateboard and Speed Squads that I previously thought were by Mike were actually by Jimmy (meaning that Mike didn't actually draw any) but I will review them again before updating the blog.

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    2. ...but first I'll look back at the W&Cs from 77-80 as per my second reply to Irmantas above, so I can compare the 'Squad strips to what Mike Lacey was drawing in that period - if I can identify Mike correctly, of course!

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  4. Here’s a link I found by typing in “Jim Hansen”: http://illustrationartgallery.com/cgi-bin/sh000002.pl?WD=hansen&PN=info_HansenBB002%2ehtml#SID=133
    Apart from the ineluctable fact that the caption says what it says, this just isn’t Mike’s style – but VERY close. I’m thinking Mike’s style was emulated by Jim? Lew Stringer did the same for Sid Burgon in his early days.

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    1. Thanks for the interesting link Stephen. Yes, it would seem that Jimmy (Jim?) based his style (at least for The Bumpkins) on Mike's - maybe that's what IPC required. I would describe Jim's work on that link as more 'manic' that Mike's style, with a tendency to be a bit more grotesque. As you say, Jim isn't the only artist to have copied another's style.

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