Welcome to the Cheeky Weekly blog!

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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Wednesday, 24 April 2019

So when exactly was the 'Whoopee! and Cheeky' Era?

When a comic was deemed by the publishers to be no longer viable, instead of passing directly into comics history it would be 'merged' into a more successful title. A number of the more popular strips from the failed comic would be amalgamated into the stronger, longer-running companion, the intention being that a significant number of the readers of the defunct comic would be persuaded to follow their fun-pals into the combined publication, delivering a boost to the main title's readership numbers.

For a while after the merge, the title of the failed comic would appear beneath the main title on the cover of the fused funny paper, until quietly being dropped some time later.

So how long did the merge between Whoopee! and Cheeky last? The answer is... it depends where you look.

IPC had long exhibited concerns over newsagents selling their titles at more than the cover price. I'm not sure how prevalent this comic-price-inflating activity was (I can't really imagine many kids would stump up more than the cover price for their favourite title), but the publisher included some small print in each of their comics, usually at the foot of the back page, advising retailers that price-hiking was not allowed. They were also keen to make it clear that subscription facilities (inland and overseas) were not now available, probably an attempt to stop kids sending in postal orders and asking for their favourite comic to be posted to them from King's Reach Tower each week. The text of the small print always included the comic's name, and if we judge the Whoopee! and Cheeky era based on the content of these warnings to unscrupulous comic vendors and would-be subscribers, then there never was such a period, as Cheeky was never referred to alongside Whoopee! in the legal jargon.

From the back cover of the second combined issue of Whoopee! and Cheeky. The text remained the same whether or not the cover title was Whoopee! and Cheeky.

Sometimes the merged comic was acknowledged in the small print, as in this example from a 1975 Buster and Cor!!

The most obvious place to examine in order to establish the length of the Whoopee! and Cheeky merge is of course the front cover, but even in that location things aren't entirely straightforward.

The second combined issue

The first combined issue, cover-dated 09 February 1980 did announce itself as Whoopee! and Cheeky (the incoming comic's full title of Cheeky Weekly was never acknowledged post-merge), as did the subsequent 13 editions. However, for the following 4 weeks, no issues were published due to an industrial dispute. When the comic returned with an edition cover-dated 14 June 1980 it was titled Whoopee!, although a banner at the top of the comic showed Cheeky announcing 'See my Cheeky comic inside'.

The next issue to be published was a 2-week edition dated 21 to 28 June 1980 (although the usual 32 pages). This issue was also just titled Whoopee! but with the same Cheeky announcement as the previous edition.

Weekly publication then resumed with the issue dated 05 July 1980, and for that and the subsequent 5 weeks the title was again just Whoopee! but with Cheeky's banner announcement.

The issue dated 16 August 1980 was just titled Whoopee!, with no announcement by our toothy pal - there was no room for it due to the competition promo.

The following 2 weeks saw the Whoopee!/Cheeky banner arrangement return, followed by one week where the comic was again just titled Whoopee! The 13 September 1980 issue returned to the Whoopee!/Cheeky banner design, but a week later we were back to just Whoopee! again as another promotion was featured on the cover.

The 27 September 1980 issue featured Cheeky's banner again, but for the final time - the following week's edition was the last issue to include a Cheeky section in the centre of the comic, but it was just titled Whoopee! - a 'Great news for readers' banner bumped Cheeky's from the cover. Another merge wasn't in the offing - the great news was of the How To Draw Comic Strips booklet, the first part of which would appear a week later and its presence in the centre pages was what displaced Cheeky and pals from their erstwhile location.

For the next 4 weeks the comic's title was Whoopee!, but the comic dated 08 November 1980 saw Paddywack, having been freed to roam the comic since the demise of the Cheeky section, move onto the front cover and bring with him the 'and Cheeky' to add to the comic's main title. This arrangement persisted for the following 6 issues.

Robert Nixon's festive cover of the 1980 Christmas edition, which prominently featured Mustapha Million, showed the comic to be titled Whoopee! with Cheeky, the only time that particular conjunction was used to describe the relationship between the two titles.

There was no mention of Cheeky on the cover of the 03 January 1981 edition as most of the front page was was given over to the announcement of the 1981 calendar inside. The 12-month planner, drawn by Robert Nixon, styled itself the Whoopee! Calendar since by the end of the year Cheeky would no longer be mentioned on the cover.

The ensuing 25 issues were titled Whoopee! and Cheeky, and then the 04 July 1981 comic's front page heralded a Four Papers competition and the commencement of the cut-out Young Road Traveller's Handbook, leaving no room for a mention of the toothy funster's comic. A week later the title was back to Whoopee! and Cheeky  even though the ever-grinning Smiler had usurped Paddywack's prized location.

Reference to Cheeky was not included on the front of the comic dated 18 July 1981 due to the announcement of a promotion relating to Wall's ice cream.

The 25 July 1981 issue was the final one to make reference to Cheeky as its absorbee.

Based on the covers, the Whoopee! and Cheeky era therefore can be seen to span the issues dated 09 February 1980 to 25 July 1981. However, there is one further location we can examine, which gives a slightly different view of the situation.

As of 09 February 1980 the letters page was titled Whoopee Chit-Chat, in a nod to Cheeky Weekly's Friends of Cheeky Chit-Chat page. From that date, readers of the combined comic were invited to post their amusing missives to Whoopee! and Cheeky at King's Reach Tower.

From the first combined issue

The address for reader submissions remained Whoopee and Cheeky until the issue dated 11 July 1981, after which the address appeared as Whoopee. Thus Cheeky ceased to be referred to in the Whoopee Chit-Chat address 2 weeks before the final 'and Cheeky' reference on the cover (although the Chit-Chat name for the letters page was retained until the 24 April 1982 edition, after which the letters page was re-titled Whoopee! Winners).

So although reference to the letters page would suggest a slightly shorter existence, the covers incontrovertibly declare the Whoopee! and Cheeky era to last from the 09 February 1980 to 25 July 1981 issues.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Not Looking a Day Older after 33 Years!

17th April 2019 was a momentous day for all friends of Cheeky as our toothy pal appeared in a new comic strip for the first time since the Krazy Gang feature came to an end in February 1986. I rushed to my nearest WH Smith on the long-awaited day and skidded to a halt by the comic shelves but was disappointed to find no copies of The Cor!! Buster Humour Special in evidence. Had they sold out? Possibly, but I doubt it - I have read reports that in some branches of Smith's the special was located on the top shelf and I must admit I didn't think to look there for it.

Anyway, I ordered a physical copy online later the same day and it arrived in the next post, so well done to Rebellion and their fulfillment partners Intermedia Solutions.

Art: Neil Googe

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Cheeky gets to appear several times in the special. Prior to reading the special I wondered if he would play much of a part in Lew Stringer's Who's In Charge? strip (script by John Freeman) as in Lew's preview of the strip our toothy pal is silent. However I'm pleased to report that Cheeky is involved in the plot and gets a few lines of dialogue, including the strip's closing comment.

Lew has also provided an introduction to characters from classic Fleetway/IPC titles, among them the mighty-molared mirthster, who is seen in a panel drawn by Frank McDiarmid and lifted from the 1982 Cheeky Annual. Great to see Frank represented.

Cheeky also gets some dialogue on an advert for the forthcoming Free Comic Book Day Funny Pages comic - the custard pie image being Robert Nixon's rendition of our toothy pal from the cover of his 1981 annual. The pic of Cheeky at the bottom right of the Funny Pages cover is Frank's work sourced from the 1982 annual.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Whizzer and Chips - The Cheeky Raids part 39

New readers start here... After Cheeky Weekly folded and was incorporated into Whoopee as of February 1980 six strips that had originated in the toothy funster's title survived the merge and continued to appear in the amalgamated comic. Whoopee itself foundered in March 1985 and was merged into Whizzer and Chips. Three of the surviving Cheeky Weekly strips successfully negotiated this second merge and went on to appear in the newly combined publication, rather inelegantly titled 'Whizzer and Chips now including Whoopee'. The survivors were Mustapha Million, Calculator Kid and (appearing only twice) Stage School. Cheeky continued to appear, but as a member of The Krazy Gang, who had moved into W&C when Krazy, the comic in which the Gang originated, expired in April 1978. However, the Krazy Gang's Whizzer and Chips run ended in the issue dated 08 February 1986. Calculator Kid survived a little longer, his run of reprints coming to an end in the 26 July 1986 edition and leaving Mustapha Million as the sole Cheeky Weekly survivor.

Whizzer and Chips dated 12 September 1987 saw our middle eastern mate embark on a sortie into enemy Whizzer territory for the first time since his 27 June 1987 raid on the recollection-deficient Bernie 'Memory' Banks. It has to be said that Mustapha doesn't make much effort to conceal himself, so you shouldn't have any trouble spotting him as he intrudes upon an uncharacteristically violent Sweet-Tooth. I don't remember boxes of wine gums ever containing cards of any type - in fact I don't remember boxes of wine gums at all. Tubes, yes and loose wine gums, but not boxes. Maybe the script writer was thinking of Rowntree's fruit gums, boxes of which were available when I was a kid, although not including cards as far as I know. However by the time this issue of Whizzer and Chips was published my days as a young whippersnapper lay far in the past so maybe there had been developments in the wine gum market of which I was (and remain) unaware.

Whizzer and Chips 12 September 1987
Art: Trevor Metcalfe

This is the first time in Whizzer and Chips' post-Whoopee merge era that Sweet-Tooth has been raided by an ex-Cheeky Weekly character, but Mustapha was clearly exacting revenge for the confectionary-craving kid's previous intrusions into his strips in the issues dated 28 June and 23 August 1986.

More raiding fun soon!

Whizzer and Chips Cover Date Raider Raided
06 April 1985Mustapha MillionSuper Steve
04 May 1985Bloggs (Store Wars)Mustapha Million
11 May 1985JokerThe Krazy Gang (Cheeky)
18 May 1985Calculator Kid & CalcOdd-Ball
01 June 1985
Mustapha Million
The Krazy Gang (Cheeky)
Boy Boss
08 June 1985Odd-BallCalculator Kid
06 July 1985Toy BoyCalculator Kid
13 July 1985Pa BumpkinThe Krazy Gang (Cheeky)
27 July 1985JokerMustapha Million
24 August 1985CheekySid's Snake
14 September 1985
Calculator Kid
Calculator Kid
Store Wars
05 October 1985Mustapha MillionAnimalad
19 October 1985Odd-BallMustapha Million
23 November 1985
Sweeny Toddler
Sweeny Toddler
Sweeny Toddler
Calculator Kid
The Krazy Gang (Cheeky)
Mustapha Million
18 January 1986Mustapha MillionSuper Steve
25 January 1986
Mustapha Million
08 February 1986
The Krazy Gang ends this issue
AnimaladMustapha Million
15 February 1986Lazy BonesCalculator Kid
15 March 1986Odd-BallCalculator Kid
29 March 1986Calculator KidMaster P Brain
05 April 1986Bumpkin BillionairesMustapha Million
12 April 1986AnimaladCalculator Kid
31 May 1986Lazy BonesCalculator Kid
07 June 1986Mustapha MillionJoker
28 June 1986Sweet ToothMustapha Million
26 July 1986
Calculator Kid ends this issue
No Cheeky-related raid this issueNo Cheeky-related raid this issue
16 August 1986Mustapha MillionJoker
23 August 1986Sweet ToothMustapha Million
18 October 1986Winnie the Royal NagMustapha Million
06 December 1986Toy BoyMustapha Million
13 December 1986Mustapha MillionOdd-Ball
17 January 1987SidMustapha Million
14 February 1987Odd-BallMustapha Million
11 April 1987Pa BumpkinMustapha Million
25 April 1987Mustapha MillionOdd-Ball
20 June 1987Toy BoyMustapha Million
27 June 1987Mustapha MillionMemory Banks
25 July 1987Lazy BonesMustapha Million
22 August 1987Winnie the Royal NagMustapha Million
12 September 1987Mustapha MillionSweet Tooth

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Revealed at Last - The Truth about Cheeky's Socks

No doubt you, much like myself, have spent an inordinate amount of your life asking yourself 'Will I ever find out what Cheeky's socks look like?'

This is the day you've been waiting for...

Art: Bob Hill

The above pages appeared in The Besssssst of Whizzer and Chips Monthly, December 1984. There are four 2-page Krazy Gang reprints in the Chips section of that issue, but in each case the first page has been paired with a wrong second page (I've matched the correct pages above). Fortunately all the correct concluding pages are present, albeit mismatched, so all four adventures can be enjoyed by flipping through the pages.

UPDATE 18 April 2019 - Many thanks to Stephen Archer who has identified Whizzer and Chips dated 08 December 1979 as the issue in which the above strip originally appeared.

Art - Sid's Snake: Mike Lacey, Joker - Sid Burgon

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

We need to talk about Chip

As mentioned in my earlier post, Cheeky Weekly's merge into Whoopee! was an unusual one, as the toothy funster and his pals were allocated a whole 16-page dedicated section in the centre of the host comic. Yes, half of the combined comic was given over to Cheeky and his pals! Now, I'm not enough of an expert on comics to say whether or not this was an exceptional amount of space to be allocated to a 'mergee', but I suspect it was.

Of course not all of the Cheeky section in the first combined issue contained strips - one page carried the Friscodisco competition, and a further two pages were devoted to the Fib card game. But comparing the number of surviving Whoopee! strips with the total Cheeky Weekly newcomers in that first edition of Whoopee! and Cheeky gives a surprising (to me, anyway) result...

Whoopee! strips Number of Pages Cheeky Weekly newcomers Number of Pages
Sweeny Toddler 1 Stage School 2
Bookworm 1 Paddywack 1
Bumpkin Billionaires 2 Gran 2
Smiler 1 It’s Cheeky 4
Smiler’s Smile-In 1 Mustapha 2
Toy Boy 1 Calculator Kid 1
Scared-Stiff Sam 1

Frankie Stein 1.5

Supermum (Merry-go-Round)* 2

Lolly Pop 1

TOTAL 12.5

That's right, the Whoopee! characters occupied just a half-page more than their new Cheeky Weekly chums (and I'm being generous in classifying joke page Smiler's Smile-In as a Whoopee! strip).

This was not so much a merge, more an attempted coup by the toothy funster and his fellow refugees.

Since the Friscodisco competition was a one-off feature celebrating the inaugural amalgamated issue, a page was to become free within the Cheeky section in subsequent issues of Whoopee! and Cheeky. So which of the Cheeky Weekly alumni not already ensconced within its pages would be chosen to occupy the prized location? There were a number of quality contenders - Elephant on the Run? Disaster Des? Speed Squad?

Sadly, none of those was to secure the vacant spot. Political manoeuvring by IPC management, clearly intended to prevent the Cheeky camp outnumbering their hosts, saw the installation of an inferior interloper with no connection to the toothy funster's iconic title.

Cheeky is still featuring prominently on the
cover of the second combined issue.
Lolly Pop art: Sid Burgon

Chip, which made its debut on page 2 of the Cheeky section in Whoopee! and Cheeky dated 16 February 1980, was a new strip and therefore had no allegiances to either Whoopee! or the Cheeky crew.

Chip's debut
Art on all selections shown: Trevor Metcalfe

The rather ill-tempered and violent dad is distinctly unappealing but the main problem with the 'kid with gadget' set-up of this strip is its similarity to that of Calculator Kid, residing just 14 pages away on the back cover of Cheeky's comic-within-comic. I'm obviously biased here, but while I can accept the idea of a talking calculator, a giant, flying microchip with the power of speech (although in later episodes the titular microprocessor 'thinks' his dialogue) and which can control any machine stretches credulity too far. Mike's dad isn't just irascible in the first episode for the purposes of the set-up, he's unpleasant in subsequent instalments as well, and in early stories a feud develops between Chip and the peevish parent.

Whereas Calc is almost infallible, Chip's interventions usually go awry. Mike/Michael is clearly too scared of his dad to ask him to take the irresponsible processor back to the laboratory where he works to get the thing reprogrammed.

The Cheeky section within Whoopee! and Cheeky lasted until the issue dated 04 October 1980, and thereafter the strips that had hitherto been confined to the 16 innermost pages were freed to wander the comic. Since Chip's tenuous link to the Cheeky oeuvre ceased at this point, his activities from that date onward need not concern us. My intention for this post is little more than to acknowledge the strip's existence due to its (unwelcome) presence in the toothy funster's section. However, in fairness I have to report that the majority of Whoopee! readers clearly didn't share my opinion of the feature as Chip continued until Whoopee! merged into Whizzer and Chips in 1985.

The final issue of Cheeky Weekly included two Disaster Des stories. Possibly it was originally intended that Des would transfer into the merged title, and one of those Des pages in that ultimate edition was originally prepared for use in Whoopee! and Cheeky. However, neither of the adventures in question have an explanation of the premise of the strip, which one might expect to see in the first episode of a post-merge feature.

*Merry-go-Round was a concept which I'm assuming was introduced at the point when Cheeky Weekly merged into Whoopee! Each week a strip selected from a number features that had appeared in Whoopee! prior to the merge, yet had not secured a permanent slot in the combined title (such as Blabbermouth, Ivor Swap and Dads as Lads), would appear on the M-g-R page. This device allowed long-time Whoopee! readers to continue to enjoy some of their fun pals who would otherwise have been dropped to make space for the incomers, and this arrangement could be seen as an acknowledgement by the editor of the large number of pages devoted to Cheeky and his chums.