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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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Monday, 15 February 2021

Cheeky is 34!

No, that's not his age - he will of course remain a perennial schoolkid. However our toothy pal has attained 34th place in the top 40 favourite comic characters as voted by members of the ComicScene Community facebook group. See also downthetubes.

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Cheeky Annual 1979

By Christmas Day 1978, Cheeky Weekly had been missing from newsagents for three weeks, a victim of the industrial unrest which afflicted the turbulent 70s. Friends of Cheeky, deprived of that year’s Christmas edition of Cheeky Weekly, were anticipating the first Cheeky Annual which most kids would have received as a Christmas present, even more keenly than they otherwise would have been. The 128-page hardcover publication was first advertised in Cheeky Weekly dated 16 September 1978, and ads appeared in a further 2 issues before publication was suspended. The year emblazoned on the cover was one ahead of the year of publication, in keeping with the tradition. Cheeky Weekly's October 1977 launch was too late for an Annual to be issued that year.

 


As was the case with the inaugural Cheeky Summer Special, the editor wisely chooses to omit the ‘Weekly’ from the Annual cover, thus avoiding a ‘Weekly Annual’ oxymoron. The bladder retention capabilities of Walter Wurx are put to the test by our toothy hero on this rather rude cover, although the significance of Cheeky taking the P will only be apparent to those familiar with the various foibles of Cheeky’s Krazy Town pals. Snail chooses a somewhat risky vantage point from which to observe the micturition-based mirth. This very cheeky cover is a nice piece of work from Frank McDiarmid.

Easing open the front cover to avoid damage to the spine, readers are invited to enter their personal details onto the traditional ‘This book belongs to’ page, which is accompanied by what I refer to as the standard Cheeky face, an illustration of our grinning chum that has been seen many times since first appearing in the Cheeky Weekly flyer a week before the launch of the toothy funster’s own title.

 

Starting across the page is a sequence entitled ‘January with Cheeky’. Drawn by Jim Petrie and printed in colour, this opening strip leads us to suspect that within the forthcoming pages we are to enjoy a full year with the grinning gagster, making this literally a Cheeky Annual. As with the first Cheeky Summer Special, the marginless page design harks back to Cheeky’s Krazy origins. During the course of this 4-page strip, Cheeky swaps gags with a selection of his chums while wandering the snowy Krazy Town streets. In the final panel Cheeky addresses the audience, ‘I hope you enjoy the stories we’ve got for you now – I’ll see you in a few pages time, in February’. So it seems this is the extent of the framing of the ensuing pages (the use of framing devices to make each issue of Cheeky Weekly into an ongoing narrative was a unique feature of the weekly comic).

 

Art: Jim Petrie

Jim Petrie’s work in Cheeky Weekly was limited to cut-out features The1978 Diary (December 1977) and The Cheeky Spotter Book of Fun (January 1978).

The colour printing continues over the page, as frenetic dog, cat and bird antics play out. Bam Splat and Blooie, reprinted from Buster, fulfilled the role of the animated cartoon enjoyed by Cheeky and pals on their weekly trip to the cinema in the regular comic, but their final appearance there was in the issue dated 17 June 1978 (although some Bamming, Splatting and a not insignificant amount of Blooie was in evidence in the first Cheeky Summer Special). This is a full-page adventure rather than the half-page stories reprinted in Cheeky Weekly, so this particular strip may have been sourced from a Buster Book rather than the weekly comic. On the following page, B,S & B’s erstwhile Cheeky Weekly cartoon-representing colleague, the gluttonous fowl Cocky Doodle (another resurrection from vintage issues of Buster or Buster Book), also enjoys a full page colour outing which concerns his visit to the zoo in search of sustenance.

 

I don't know who the artist is.
Surely Blooie should have
been blue?



Turning to page 9 it’s a little disappointing to see that the 8-page (including the cover) run of colour features has come to an end, as Mustapha Million takes to his bed with a chill in a 4-page set drawn by Joe McCaffrey. At this point in Cheeky Weekly, Joe was occasionally deputising for original Mustapha artist Reg Parlett. In this story our middle-eastern mate commands his servant to provide amusements to entertain him while indisposed, among which are a pile of comics. A copy of Whizzer and Chips is seen, partially obscuring what is probably an issue of Whoopee! lacking its exclamation mark, but surprisingly no Cheeky Weekly is on view. Unlike Mustapha’s weekly appearances at this point, there is no attempt to frame his Annual outing with the ‘search for the Mystery Comic’ device.

 

Art: Joe McCaffrey, who includes a depiction of the iconic Test Card F
with which kids throwing a sickie during the 70s were very familiar

By the end of the tale Mustapha is feeling chipper (and possibly a bit whizzy), following which Cheeky is back with the promised 4 pages of February fun, literally kicking off with his encounter with the Goalie Cat. This 4-page sequence includes a surprise appearance of Short-Sighted Dustman whose brief, 4-appearance run in Cheeky Weekly concluded in the 14 January 1978 edition. Kudos to Jim Petrie for researching the character design.

Jim again

 

Cheeky signs off for now, telling us he’ll be back later, but he doesn’t introduce Skateboard Squad (who follow over the page) as he does in his weekly comic.

Jimmy Hansen, the regular Squad artist in the weekly, does the honours on this 4-page set. The first panel would seem to tie in with the preceding Cheeky ‘February’ section, as the Squad complain of the cold as they travel (on their boards, naturally) to the school basketball match, where they take on and (spoiler alert) triumph over the visiting team of big kids.

Following this brief basketball battle, we’re back with the toothy funster who treats us to 4 pages of March mirth, before saying he’ll see us (predictably) in April.

The dusty IPC archives are again the source of the strip on page 24, as Ringer Dinger, last seen in the 1978 Cheeky Summer Special, is exhumed from the resting place of ancient comics. The employment of previously published material can be problematic if the page height/width ratio of the title in which it originally appeared differs from that in which it is to be re-used. Sometimes an artist would be tasked with re-sizing the original drawing by expanding some of the frames to better fit the page, but this often unbalanced the original artist’s design, making the alterations highly visible. It’s clear from the way Ringer Dinger is presented here, that the page sizes of Whizzer and Chips (where Dinger originated) were out of whack with the Annual. However, the strategy in this case is to leave the strip itself untouched from its original appearance, but to enlarge the Ringer Dinger title, then add a title for the story (in this case ‘Putt-ing on the Style’). This ploy works reasonably well and is certainly preferable to re-sizing.

Art: Terry Bave

 

The following page demonstrates another strategy for handling different-page-size-ratio reprints. The double-entendre-titled Biddy’s Beastly Bloomers was not, as smutty-minded readers no doubt assumed, a strip about a young lady’s unsavoury undergarments, but instead a tale concerning the owner of some frightful flowers. Biddy’s original run appeared in Shiver and Shake, as documented by Irmantas. The ‘story so far’ caption with which the Biddy strip on page 25 of this Cheeky Annual commences suggests that this is not in fact her debut from Shiver and Shake.

Unlike Ringer Dinger, whose initial appearances featured a banner-style title panel extending across the whole of the page, Biddy had a single title panel on the first row. Thus the ‘enlarge the title panel’ ruse will not work here. The preparation of this reprint has seen the title panel being excised, and a new title positioned across the top of the page, creating something that looks extremely odd. Again, we have to be grateful that no re-sizing of the artwork has been carried out, but why leave the first panel blank? An easy solution would have been to assign an individual title to each story (in the same manner as was done with Dinger) to fill the space created by removal of the original title. As it is, the page looks very slipshod and unprofessional. I’m surprised it was allowed to appear this way.

Art: Sid Burgon

 

Over the page, with no ‘Cheeky rushing home to watch the latest instalment’ intro as there would be in Cheeky Weekly, we are treated to an episode of 6 Million Dollar Gran. We know it’s a TV episode because it uses the same cathode ray tube title panel design as is seen in the regular comic. Pete Pott’s opening remark links the tale to the March that Cheeky experienced a few pages earlier. Gran’s line in that same panel serves as a subtle hint as to her robotic nature, for the benefit of kids who receive the Annual for Christmas but are not readers of the toothy funster’s comic. Gran’s creator, Professor Potts, then tells the synthetic senior citizen that she must take a trip to the north pole, after which she gives another clue as to her real origin.

Nigel Edwards is the artist for this Gran 4-pager. Nigel had by Christmas 1978 deputised on 4 occasions in Cheeky Weekly for regular artist Ian Knox. Gran’s icy escapade concludes without the Cheeky-watching-the-closing-credits-on-TV panel which is customary in his weekly comic.

 

Art: Nigel Edwards
More comics on view, but non-specific this time

 

Also lacking its usual for Cheeky Weekly introduction is a 2-page Home Movie, although that title is not applied here. Instead Oscar’s latest filmic flop is entitled Robin Hood or How Not To Make a Movie (the alternate title being another hint to those unfamiliar with the young director’s output, who would otherwise wonder what’s supposed to be going on). Jack Clayton, the regular Home Movie artist, provides the visuals, although the strip had come to an end in the weekly issue dated 10 June 1978, but had appeared in the 1978 Summer Special.

On page 32 we join Cheeky again as he progresses through April with the usual collection of corny jokes.

More Jim
April Fool's Day in 1979 was indeed a Sunday

 

Then we’re treated to a rare instance of seeing the grinning gagster as rendered by Sid Burgon, as we enter the Cartoon Gallery - a nice way of presenting a collection of single-panel gags, which could otherwise just have been a filler consisting of a random set of gags from the archives. This wasn't the first time Sid had depicted our punning pal.

 

Art: Sid Burgon

 

The next sequence is entitled Baby Burpo Strikes, as the terrifying toddler announces that he’s going to take over from Cheeky. Over the course of the 2 pages allocated to this feature, Burpo does indeed proceed to engage in gags with a selection of Krazy Town folk in the manner usually essayed by our toothy chum. This set, drawn by Jim Petrie, ends with Cheeky unaware that his role has been usurped, and Burpo promising he will taker over again later.

IPC’s overflowing filing cabinets are again the source of the feature on the next page as Soggy the Sea Monster drifts into view in an adventure first seen in the pages of Shiver and Shake. The editor can’t seem to decide on a standard method of preparing reprint strips which originally had a banner-style title. Unlike the similarly-bannered Ringer Dinger, where the reprint on page 24 was allocated a story title in order to use up some of the blank space and allow the strip to fill the width of the page, no such courtesy has been afforded poor old Soggy, whose recycled adventure is shorn of its original title, then just plonked in the middle of the page and surrounded by Letratone. Not quite as egregious as Biddy’s treatment, but could have been better.

 

Art: Robert Nixon

 

Speaking of the lad with the troublesome telephone, Dinger returns on page 41 with a chronicle of canine confusion. The reprint has been handled in the relatively sympathetic way as was his previous appearance, and the story has been given the title ‘It’s a Dog’s Life’.

We then spend time (amounting to 4 pages) with Cheeky and pals as they enjoy merriment in May. Among the folk encountering our toothy pal is the TelephonePole Man, whose final Cheeky Weekly appearance was in the 24 June 1978 issue, although he was seen again (but not by Cheeky who remains puzzled as to who calls a phone box just as he’s passing) in the 1978 Cheeky Summer Special.

Jim

 

There then follows another 4-page strip entitled The “Girls”, wherein the female contingent of Cheeky’s Krazy Town pals are to the fore. This feature is drawn by Jim Watson, who delivered some Cheeky’s Week art in the regular comic between the issues dated 11 February and 10 June 1978 (and also had an old strip of his reprinted in the 16 September 1978 edition).

 

The "Girls" - Art: Jim Watson

Jim clearly took Frank McDiarmid's renditions of Lily Pop as printed in Cheeky Weekly dated 05 November 1977 as his inspiration.

Cheeky Weekly 05 November 1977
Art: Frank McDiarmid

Page 50 sees the commencement of a feature completely unrelated to Cheeky; entitled Moon Loon, it’s a comedic tale describing how Britain landed the first man on the lunar surface a year before Neil Armstrong impressed his boot upon the regolith encrusting our orbiting neighbour. The 6 page set is illustrated by Paul Ailey.

A filler follows in the form of that old favourite (of editors, at least), the ‘spot the similarities page’. The subject of this one is Cheeky’s slithering sidekick, Snail, 12 versions of whom are on display, three of which (we are told) are identical. The images of the mirthful mollusc are based on that which accompanied the name snail competition in Cheeky Weekly dated 11 February 1978.

There’s a welcome return of colour on page 57 as Cheeky embarks on June jests and japes with the folk of Krazy Town. This 4-page sequence ends, as we have come to expect. with our grinning chum telling us he’ll see us again in July.

Mustapha Million then gets a second outing, this time in colour and concerning his attempts to revive the fortunes of a hopeless football team. Some of the methods Mustapha uses to boost the players’ fitness (setting ferocious dogs on them to make them run, dunking them in cold water if they fail to stop or score a goal) are a little at odds with the caring fellow we know from the weekly, but the team win their next match, so everyone is happy at the conclusion of the 3-page episode drawn by Joe McCaffrey.

On page 64 we witness the opening of The Robot Olympics, in which 4 mechanical athletes are vying for medals, including an R2-D2-resemblant contestant who’s not particularly sporting in his quest for victory. Things would have turned out differently if Gran had been among the competitors during the 4-page colour set illustrated by Alan Rogers, who would go on to provide more robot-based fun in the Cheeky Annuals 1984 and 85.

Art:Alan Rogers
I like the robot equivalent of the Olympic rings

 

Over the page Bam, Splat and Blooie return, and like their first appearance it’s in colour. The strip ends rather violently with Bam (dog) about to feed Splat (cat) into a mincing machine, but thankfully we’re spared a full-colour rendition of the outcome. On this occasion the tussling trio share the page (and the colour printing) with a returning Cocky Doodle, whose tale concludes with his feathers being blasted off by a shotgun-wielding farmer.

After these rather disturbing events, it’s a relief to return to the relative peace of Krazy Town and witness July’s selection of funnies with Cheeky and pals. The 4 page sequence is rendered in full colour. At the end of the set Cheeky tells us that next month he’ll be holidaying at Sludgepool-on-Sea. This is the final colour set for now.

Next up is a ‘silent’ gag under the title Tim’ll Fix It (a play, from our current perspective an unfortunate one, on the TV series Jim’ll Fix It).

 

I don't know who the artist is.

 

Following this is a feature entitled ‘The Doors are Open’ which is the catchphrase of Cheeky Weekly regular, the Commissionaire. Or at least that would be his catchphrase if the stampeding cinema audience didn’t always trample him before he could complete the announcement. Apart from the cover and This Book Belongs To, this is the first work by Frank McDiarmid to be seen in the Annual. It’s likely, in view of what seems to be some altered text in the opening speech balloon, the reference to Cheeky Weekly, the lack of margins and the gap at the bottom of the page, that this feature was originally intended to appear in Krazy as a Cheeky’s Pal strip, in which the unfortunate cinema worker never appeared. Burpo introduces the subject of the strip for the benefit of those unfamiliar with the toothy funster’s weekly comic, who would have been Krazy readers if the strip was published as I suspect was originally intended - Commissionaire was linked to Cheeky's weekly trip to the cinema in his own comic, an event which never featured in Krazy. The Cheeky's Pal strips eventually evolved into The Burpo Special which commenced in Cheeky Weekly dated 09 December 1978. The reference by Burpo, by means of some altered text, to a Burpo Special in this Annual therefore prefigured the strip's appearance in the Weekly.

Commissionaire made his final Cheeky Weekly appearance in his role of doorman in the issue dated 02 December 1978, although he was the subject of the Pin-Up Pal poster in the 17 March 1979 edition.

Art: Frank McDiarmid

 

Over the page is another encounter with the telephonic tearaway, Ringer Dinger. The inevitable confusion ensues when, keen to assist with his dad’s podiatry problem, the young lad dials ‘corn’, and a scythe-wielding bumpkin appears. This tale, which is adjusted in the same way as previously in the Annual, is allocated the title, ‘A Slice of Bad Luck’.

Another Letratone-bound Soggy the Sea Monster reprint follows, which begins with the lovable leviathan complaining that the sea is cold, which could put the story somewhat at odds with the July/August weather that Krazy Town is experiencing at this point in the Annual, except that there is no indication in Soggy’s story of whereabouts in the world the watery events are unfolding.

We’re subjected to a multitude of molars on page 77, as 6 Cheeky ‘standard faces’ grin out at us, rather disconcertingly having been flipped sideways. Yes, it’s another ‘spot the similarities’ filler entitled Double Trouble, from which you’ll have guessed that only two of the teeth-packed fizzogs are identical (answer on page 110).

As promised, over the page our gagster chum commences his August seaside holiday (it’s a pity this sequence couldn’t have been set in July which would have allowed it to benefit from colour printing). It seems the folk of Krazy Town all share the same holiday destination each year; just as Cheeky’s pals descended on Cockleshell-on-Sea in the 1978 Cheeky Summer Special, they are present en masse in Sludgepool-on-Sea in this Annual (we know from the earlier April with Cheeky set that this Annual depicts events occurring in 1979). Having said that, Lily Pop is not in evidence in this 4-page feature.

Krazy Town’s belligerent baby is back on page 82 in a 2-pager entitled Baby Burpo Strikes Again, making good on his promise earlier in the Annual and once again taking on Cheeky’s role as gagster-in-chief (in the process managing to get a can past Goalie Cat – a considerable achievement).

Without the usual preamble that would precede it in Cheeky Weekly, a Creepy Sleepy Tale then unfolds over the next 4 pages. Drawn by Keith Reynolds, who was the artist for the majority of the CSTs to appear in the regular comic, the story relates how schoolboy Spike Miggiligoon blows himself up in a chemistry lesson, and afterwards in spectral form torments those around him. There is a scene in a theatrical agent’s office where, among the photos of his showbiz clients, we see a familiar toothy grin.

 

Art: Keith Reynolds

 

The now-deracinated Bloomers are next up, and the fearsome flowers crash a wedding reception in search of grub. This reprint is presented with a missing title panel as was Biddy's earlier escapade.

The leaves are falling as Cheeky embarks on his 4-page round of September silliness.

Wipe-Out’s skateboard skills bring him to the attention of a pair of ne’er-do-wells who kidnap the canine wonder and force him to work in a circus in the Skateboard Squad story which follows. Despite being adjacent to Cheeky’s September sequence, there is no introduction to the strip by Cheeky, which there would be in the weekly comic. Unlike the previous Squad strip in this Annual, this time their adventure is drawn by Paul Ailey. Needless to say, by the end of this 4-page tale, the terrific trio are reunited.

Now it’s October in Krazy Town and the inevitable 4 pages of fun with the toothy funster follow.

Gran turns crime-buster in the next set, as she hunts down a gang of crooks. As with her earlier adventure in this Annual, there is no Cheeky-watching-TV introduction on the preceding page. However, unlike Gran’s previous ‘79 Annual outing, which featured the same title panel as used in Cheeky Weekly, this strip carries a banner title and the name name 6,000,000$ Gran (someone seeming not to be aware of the convention of placing the currency symbol before the numerals). The title presents me with something of a quandary - should I record this anomalous entry in the Gran canon with its title as shown and thus risk failing to find it when running queries against my database? I decide to record it as 6 Million Dollar Gran. The synthetic senior citizen would of course later be known as $6,000.000 Gran at the commencement of her Whoopee! career. Nigel Edwards supplies the art again.

 

Art: Nigel Edwards

There’s a change to the presentation of the next Biddy’s Beastly Bloomers reprint – someone has realised that filling the space where the original title panel resided would be a good idea, and the page certainly looks much better this way.

 

Art: Sid Burgon

 

Following the herbaceous horrors, we’re back on the streets of Krazy Town to enjoy 4 pages of the toothy funster’s finest November witticisms.

The hapless handyman then returns to fix a broken curtain pole in the second and final Tim’ll Fix It on page 110.

James Bold, fearless investigator of the uncanny, had been one of the adventure strips in Cheeky Weekly, where his eerie adventures were framed within our grinning pal’s universe by being presented as a series of books which were read by the jersey-sporting japester or, in the case of Bold’s final investigation, a film series presented as part of the Saturday morning pictures sequence. Bold’s Cheeky Weekly run had concluded in the issue dated 05 August 1978, but the editor clearly felt that Annual readers would appreciate a helping of horror, so the sleuth of the supernatural is pitted against The Phantom in the bumper 10-page tale which follows. The story relates the terrifying plight of young Mike Foster…

I don't know who the artist is


Luckily for the youthful kidnap victim, James Bold is a friend of his dad’s, so the implacable investigator soon arrives at the island, along with his assistant Angel O’Mercy, in search of the youngster. The tale is very similar to the majority of those in Cheeky Weekly as it turns out that (spoiler alert) the ‘supernatural’ events are all faked. There is evidence that some of the Bold stories which were published in Cheeky’s comic were based on scripts originally written as Maxwell Hawke adventures that appeared in Buster, but I don’t know if that’s the case here. Regardless of the origin of the script, it’s pleasing that the editor, who could have resorted to a reprint to fulfil the requirement for an adventure story (as was the case with the 1978 Cheeky Summer Special), instead chose to include a feature prepared specifically for this Annual.

After the monochrome gloom of Castle Zarnoff it’s a relief to turn to the next page and witness a resumption of full colour as Cocky Doodle mistakes the artificial fruit on a lady’s hat for some real grub. Sharing the page with the ravenous rooster are Bam, Splat (seemingly fully recovered from his earlier mincer incident) and Blooie.

The search for a Christmas tree is occupying young Dinger over the page (very appropriate as we approach Cheeky’s December doings), in a story reprinted in colour and with a retrofitted title of ‘A Christmas Tree-t’. Then Soggy also benefits from colour for his third and final page in this Annual, and the preparation of this adventure for reprinting is more pleasing than the earlier two, as the strip occupies more of the page. Unlike Dinger, our behemoth buddy is not enjoying a Christmas-related escapade. Irmantas tells us that the final Soggy strip of his original run in Shiver and Shake was in the issue dated 16 February 1974. The Sogster squelched into the very first issue of S&S, dated 10 March 1973, so there was one opportunity, in December 1973, to involve our seaborne chum in a festive adventure. However, that opportunity was not taken as, in the Christmas S&S of that year, dated 29 December, there was no seasonal element in Soggy’s story. Therefore the Cheeky Annual editor was unable to source a festive Soggy tale from the cobweb-draped IPC archives.

 

Art: Robert Nixon

Seasonal concerns are very much on the mind of Cheeky, who we then join in December on page 124. This 4 pager is in colour and sees the culmination of a joke that has been running (or hopping) through the monthly Cheeky strips, wherein Baby Burpo was seen travelling on a pogo stick (a present he received for Christmas the previous year), terrorising Cheeky and pals. In December, fatigued after a year of use, the stick breaks but the kind folk of Krazy Town have a collection to raise the cash for a new springy conveyance, bringing the Annual to a suitably heart-warming conclusion.

 

Jim

 

Jim signs off

 

The back cover is a duplicate of the front.

This is a very nice first outing for Cheeky in Annual form. The monthly nature of the main Cheeky sequences mirrors the weekly format of his regular comic and is very apt for a once-a-year publication. It’s a pity that Frank McDiarmid wasn’t able to contribute more, but he was providing considerable amounts of work to Cheeky Weekly so was clearly unable to spare the time. Jim Petrie does a great job on the Cheeky pages in this Annual. Jim did deliver some Cheeky artwork in the weekly (the Diary and Spotter Book of Fun), but he never drew any Cheeky’s Week elements. However he handles Cheeky’s Year in fine style, capturing the zany feel that we associate with Frank’s version of Krazy Town. I think that, of all the artists who drew Cheeky and chums, Jim’s is the closest to Frank’s vision. It must have been very daunting for Jim when he undertook this project, as he would have had to research the character designs of the many funny folk who our toothy pal encountered over 12 months and 48 pages.

One aspect of the weekly comic that’s not reflected in the Annual are the framing devices. Whereas there was some attempt at framing in the 1978 Cheeky Summer Special, no such effort was made here.

There are a total of 130 elements in this Annual (128 pages, but 2 pages each consisting of 2 strips). 16 of those elements are reprints, making a total reprint percentage of 12.31. That’s an improvement on the Cheeky Summer Special 1978’s 33% reprinted content. However, Cheeky Annual 1979 cost £1.10 (or 1.10£ if you’re the person who designed the title for Gran’s story on page 101) for 128 pages = .0085p per page, whereas the regular comic dated 25 November 1978 cost 9p for 32 pages = .0028p per page, so readers (or more likely their parents) were paying a considerable premium to spend a year with their wisecracking chum, although to be fair there are no adverts in the Annual, it has board covers, more substantial paper than the weekly and 32 colour pages.

Overall, though this is a nice package, and I'm sure it was well received by Friends of Cheeky. As mentioned earlier, Annuals were traditionally given as Christmas presents, and generous Aunts, Uncles and other relatives would descend on newsagents to select Annuals for their youngsters in the family although in many cases without knowledge of which weekly comics the recipients favoured. Annuals were thus something of a showcase for the weeklies they represented, and if kids unfamiliar with the title liked an Annual, they may have been persuaded to start reading the regular comic on which it was based. It's therefore a little surprising that IPC didn't include some sort of ad for Cheeky Weekly. However, most kids who regularly haunted their local newsagent would have known the names of all the comics spread enticingly across the counter.

Which features in the Annual had concluded in Cheeky Weekly by the time of the Annual’s publication? I’m assuming the Annual was published on 01 September 1978 for the purposes of the following comparisons with the weekly comic.


Cheeky Annual 1979 Features ending earlier in Cheeky Weekly

Cheeky Annual 1979 Feature Cheeky Weekly Dates
Home Movie22-Oct-77 to 10-Jun-78
Creepy Sleepy Tale22-Oct-77 to 26-Aug-78
Bam Splat and Blooie29-Oct-77 to 17-Jun-78
Cocky Doodle29-Oct-77 to 04-Mar-78
James Bold22-Oct-77 to 05-Aug-78

 ...there had been a minor revision of the weekly's contents in June/July 1978.

 

Which Annual features were currently running?

Cheeky Annual 1979 Features Currently running in Cheeky Weekly

Cheeky Annual 1979 Feature Cheeky Weekly Dates
6 Million Dollar Gran22-Oct-77 to 02-Feb-80
Mustapha Million22-Oct-77 to 02-Feb-80
Skateboard Squad22-Oct-77 to 12-May-79

Which features were current in Cheeky Weekly but not included in the Annual?

Features Currently running in Cheeky Weekly but not in Cheeky Annual 1979

Cheeky Weekly Feature Cheeky Weekly Dates
Archie's Angels12-Aug-78 to 16-Sep-78
Calculator Kid01-Jul-78 to 02-Feb-80
Cover Feature22-Oct-77 to 02-Feb-80
Easter Monday01-Apr-78 to 21-Apr-79
Friday22-Oct-77 to 02-Feb-80
Interval22-Oct-77 to 02-Dec-78
Joke-Box Jury10-Dec-77 to 02-Feb-80
Monday22-Oct-77 to 02-Feb-80
Paddywack08-Jul-78 to 26-Jan-80
Pin-up pal22-Oct-77 to 31-Mar-79
Saturday22-Oct-77 to 02-Feb-80
Sunday22-Oct-77 to 02-Feb-80
Sunday evening22-Oct-77 to 23-Sep-78
Teacher's Teasers26-Aug-78 to 23-Sep-78
Thursday22-Oct-77 to 02-Feb-80
Tuesday22-Oct-77 to 02-Feb-80
Tweety and Sylvester21-Jan-78 to 02-Dec-78
Wednesday22-Oct-77 to 02-Feb-80
What a Cheek22-Oct-77 to 23-Sep-78
What's New, Kids22-Oct-77 to 17-Nov-79
Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?24-Jun-78 to 30-Sep-78

...Calculator Kid and Paddywack, both of whom would go on to become stalwarts of the toothy funster's comic, were introduced into the weekly in early July '78 which was, because of the lead time required for preparation of Annuals, too late to be considered for inclusion into this Annual.

Which Annual features would run later in the regular comic? 

Cheeky Annual 1979 Features running later in Cheeky Weekly

Cheeky Annual 1979 Feature Cheeky Weekly Dates
Ringer Dinger06-Oct-79 to 02-Feb-80
Soggy the Sea Monster17-Nov-79 to 02-Feb-80

 

Which Annual features never appeared in Cheeky Weekly?

Cheeky Annual 1979 Features never running in Cheeky Weekly

Cheeky Annual 1979 Feature
All Snails Are Alike?
April with Cheeky
August with Cheeky
Baby Burpo Strikes
Baby Burpo Strikes Again
Back Cover
Biddy's Beastly Bloomers
Cartoon Gallery
Cover
December with Cheeky
Double Trouble
February with Cheeky
January with Cheeky
July with Cheeky
June with Cheeky
March with Cheeky
May with Cheeky
Moon Loon
November with Cheeky
October with Cheeky
September with Cheeky
The "Girls"
The Doors Are Open
The Robot Olympics
This Book Belongs To
Tim'll Fix It

I'm grateful to the scanner of the Annual pages shown here - I didn't want to damage my own copy by scanning it.

Cheeky Annual 1979 Reprint Feature Elements by %

Total Feature Elements Original Feature Elements Reprint Feature Elements Reprint %
1301141612.31
 
 
 

Cheeky Annual 1979 - published September 1978
Page Details
1Cover 'Ha-P-py Xmas' - Art Frank McDiarmid
2This Book Belongs To - Art Frank McDiarmid
3January with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
4January with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
5January with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
6January with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
7Bam Splat and Blooie reprint from Buster
8Cocky Doodle reprint from Buster
9Mustapha Million - Art Joe McCaffrey
10Mustapha Million - Art Joe McCaffrey
11Mustapha Million - Art Joe McCaffrey
12February with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
13February with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
14February with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
15February with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
16Skateboard Squad - Art Jimmy Hansen
17Skateboard Squad - Art Jimmy Hansen
18Skateboard Squad - Art Jimmy Hansen
19Skateboard Squad - Art Jimmy Hansen
20March with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
21March with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
22March with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
23March with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
24Ringer Dinger reprint from Whizzer and Chips 'Putt-ing on the Style' - Art Terry Bave
25Biddy's Beastly Bloomers reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Sid Burgon
266 Million Dollar Gran - Art Nigel Edwards
276 Million Dollar Gran - Art Nigel Edwards
286 Million Dollar Gran - Art Nigel Edwards
296 Million Dollar Gran - Art Nigel Edwards
30Home Movie 'Robin Hood' - Art Jack Clayton
31Home Movie 'Robin Hood' - Art Jack Clayton
32April with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
33April with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
34April with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
35April with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
36Cartoon Gallery - Art Sid Burgon
37Cartoon Gallery - Art Sid Burgon
38Baby Burpo Strikes - Art Jim Petrie
39Baby Burpo Strikes - Art Jim Petrie
40Soggy the Sea Monster reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Robert Nixon
41Ringer Dinger reprint from Whizzer and Chips 'It's A Dog's Life' - Art Terry Bave
42May with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
43May with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
44May with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
45May with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
46The "Girls" - Art Jim Watson
47The "Girls" - Art Jim Watson
48The "Girls" - Art Jim Watson
49The "Girls" - Art Jim Watson
50Moon Loon - Art Paul Ailey
51Moon Loon - Art Paul Ailey
52Moon Loon - Art Paul Ailey
53Moon Loon - Art Paul Ailey
54Moon Loon - Art Paul Ailey
55Moon Loon - Art Paul Ailey
56All Snails Are Alike?
57June with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
58June with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
59June with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
60June with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
61Mustapha Million - Art Joe McCaffrey
62Mustapha Million - Art Joe McCaffrey
63Mustapha Million - Art Joe McCaffrey
64The Robot Olympics - Art Alan Rogers
65The Robot Olympics - Art Alan Rogers
66The Robot Olympics - Art Alan Rogers
67The Robot Olympics - Art Alan Rogers
68Bam Splat and Blooie reprint from Buster\Cocky Doodle reprint from Buster
69July with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
70July with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
71July with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
72July with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
73Tim'll Fix It
74The Doors Are Open - Art Frank McDiarmid
75Ringer Dinger reprint from Whizzer and Chips 'A Slice Of Bad Luck' - Art Terry Bave
76Soggy the Sea Monster reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Robert Nixon
77Double Trouble - Art Frank McDiarmid
78August with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
79August with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
80August with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
81August with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
82Baby Burpo Strikes Again - Art Jim Petrie
83Baby Burpo Strikes Again - Art Jim Petrie
84Creepy Sleepy Tale - Art Keith Reynolds
85Creepy Sleepy Tale - Art Keith Reynolds
86Creepy Sleepy Tale - Art Keith Reynolds
87Creepy Sleepy Tale - Art Keith Reynolds
88Biddy's Beastly Bloomers reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Sid Burgon
89September with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
90September with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
91September with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
92September with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
93Skateboard Squad - Art Paul Ailey
94Skateboard Squad - Art Paul Ailey
95Skateboard Squad - Art Paul Ailey
96Skateboard Squad - Art Paul Ailey
97October with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
98October with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
99October with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
100October with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
1016 Million Dollar Gran - Art Nigel Edwards
1026 Million Dollar Gran - Art Nigel Edwards
1036 Million Dollar Gran - Art Nigel Edwards
1046 Million Dollar Gran - Art Nigel Edwards
105Biddy's Beastly Bloomers reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Sid Burgon
106November with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
107November with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
108November with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
109November with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
110Tim'll Fix It
111James Bold 'vs The Phantom'
112James Bold 'vs The Phantom'
113James Bold 'vs The Phantom'
114James Bold 'vs The Phantom'
115James Bold 'vs The Phantom'
116James Bold 'vs The Phantom'
117James Bold 'vs The Phantom'
118James Bold 'vs The Phantom'
119James Bold 'vs The Phantom'
120James Bold 'vs The Phantom'
121Cocky Doodle reprint from Buster\Bam Splat and Blooie reprint from Buster
122Ringer Dinger reprint from Whizzer and Chips 'A Christmas Tree-t' - Art Terry Bave
123Soggy the Sea Monster reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Robert Nixon
124December with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
125December with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
126December with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
127December with Cheeky - Art Jim Petrie
128Back Cover 'Ha-P-py Xmas' - Art Frank McDiarmid

Friday, 29 January 2021

Frank McDiarmid RIP

I'm so sorry to pass on the news (as published on downthetubes) that Frank McDiarmid has passed away.

Frank was one of the mighty figures in British comics (see his obituary in the link above), and his zenith was undoubtedly Cheeky Weekly. I would go as far as saying that the toothy funster's title was Frank's comic, so inextricable was the link between the multitudinous funny folk of Krazy Town and the artist who illustrated their weekly pun-strewn escapades. Frank clearly had a lot of fun illustrating the gag-packed pages and he took full advantage of the freedom he was given, cramming extra jokes of his own into every imaginatively-constructed page. So much so that he became a character in his own comic.

From what I've read about Frank it's clear he was always happy to reply to Cheeky fans who contacted him and would often send them specially-drawn pictures of his striped-jersey-wearing creation.

Those of us reading comics in the late 70s were so fortunate to be able to experience the ground-breaking, hilarious Cheeky Weekly. Thanks for all the fun, Frank.

My condolences to Frank's family and friends.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Cheeky Summer Special 1978

When I began writing this blog in the summer of 2010, my main goal was to complete an examination of all 117 issues of Cheeky Weekly. I finished that task back in February 2019, with my look at the final edition of the toothy funster's ground-breaking title (links to all those posts can be found in the Cheeky Weekly Timeline). For the duration of my project to document each weekly issue, I decided that I would not begin to explore the Cheeky Annuals and Summer Specials as that would slow my progress through the weeklies. Bruce very ably took on the task of enumerating the Cheeky-related non-weeklies and you can see his summaries beginning here and here.

However, I feel that now the time is right for me to begin to record the contents of those Cheeky spin-offs.

Cheeky Summer Special 1978

Art: Frank McDiarmid

Comic readers of the 1970s would eagerly anticipate the arrival of the Annual version of their favourite title. This hard-cover collection of strips was traditionally received as a Christmas gift, although Annuals went on sale in late summer/early autumn each year. Its October 1977 launch date meant that Cheeky Weekly had missed that year’s Annual window and thus the first Cheeky Annual was issued in the autumn of 1978, cover dated a year ahead as was the custom. The earliest Cheeky Weekly spin-off title, 1978’s Cheeky Summer Special, was first advertised in Cheeky Weekly dated 08 July 1978. To avoid confusion over its frequency of publication, the editor wisely chose to name it Cheeky Summer Special rather than Cheeky Weekly Summer Special which would have seen confused kids returning to the newsagent seven days after purchasing a copy and scanning the shelves for a new issue.

On the cover, beneath a banner promising 64 Pages of Fun! (a big selling point since that was double the page count of the weekly), our toothy pal, packing a fistful of Mr Whippy’s finest frigid fare (Cheeky evidently didn’t have the wherewithal to stretch to a 99), witnesses a photo opportunity involving those two extraordinary examples of the female form, Ursula and Lily Pop, who at first glance appear to have undergone a body swap. Snail launches himself skyward in appreciation of the seafront scene (I wouldn’t have thought that the salty, grainy beach is a location particularly appealing to molluscs), while the tam o’shanter-sporting photographer lines up the shot - Flash Harry was obviously detained on business in Krazy Town when this scene occurred. The Silly Seaside Snaps sign may have inspired Cheeky Weekly’s Silly Snaps filler feature which made its debut in the 02 September 1978 issue.

Frank McDiarmid sets a breezy British seaside holiday postcard atmosphere with this appealing cover, so let’s settle into our deckchair and see how the Cheeky Weekly elements we love have been adapted to fit this debut Special.

Page 2 commences without any title and sees Cheeky and pals eagerly awaiting the arrival of the coach to transport them to their holiday camp destination. Jogging Jeremy risks a copyright claim from Hanna-Barbera by emitting an anticipatory Fred Flinstone-inspired exclamation before the gang pile into their charabanc. Lily Pop stops the traffic in her inimitable manner to allow the driver to get underway, telling Cheeky she’ll be along on the next coach. Very pleasingly, Frank McDiarmid is the artist for this strip, which reverts to the marginless page design that was a hallmark of Cheeky’s strips in Krazy (which had ceased publication in April 1978), but is not in evidence in the toothy funster’s own comic. Frank takes advantage of the slightly better quality of paper on which the Special is printed by shading his drawings with ink, something that we haven’t seen in the weekly, and which does indeed make this publication feel 'special'. It's good to see that plenty of the supporting cast from Cheeky's strip in his own title (including the Knock-Knock Door!) are accompanying him on holiday.

Frank again

 

As soon as the coach reaches its destination at the end of this four-page sequence (and yes, the driver does have to make an unscheduled stop due to the limited bladder capacity of Walter Wurx), Cheeky’s pals head for the beach, but our grinning chum has other plans...

 

Frank

6 Million Dollar Gran’s story is introduced with the TV screen title panel that we’re familiar with from the weekly comic. In keeping with the holiday theme, the aged automaton’s 3 page episode is set on the beach. Nigel Edwards provides the artwork in place of regular Weekly Gran illustrator Ian Knox (by the time this Special was published Nigel had deputised twice for Ian on the strip in Cheeky Weekly). It’s nice that Gran’s adventure is presented as a TV show watched by Cheeky, maintaining the framing of the strip that has been evident in the weekly comic. However, Gran’s weekly adventures always finish with Cheeky watching the closing credits of her TV show, whereas in the Special, the strip ends with no reference to its meta-televisual origin.

Art: Nigel Edwards

Over the page is a surprise (since he’s not, at present, among Cheeky Weekly’s roster of stars) appearance of the kid with the dialing digit, Ringer Dinger, a reprint sourced from Whizzer and Chips. There is no attempt to frame this Dinger story within Cheeky’s world, although the cricket element of the tale does at least suit the summer theme.

 

Art: Terry Bave
I suspect the title banner appears bigger on the above page than on its original outing,
in order to fill the space which would otherwise result due to the differing page height/width
ratios of Whizzer and Chips and the Cheeky Summer Special.


The various calamitous cricket crises having drawn to their conclusion, next up is another reprint, this time of a dramatic rather than humorous variety. The punningly-titled adventure tale Malice in Wonderland originally appeared in Shiver and Shake in 1973, its original run having been documented with his customary diligence by Irmantas. In the Cheeky Special, the story is presented in 2 parts, the first consisting of 6 pages and the second, which draws the Special to its (almost) conclusion, is made up of 8 pages. Irmantas tells us that the original series spanned 10 weeks, so assuming each of those episodes in Shiver and Shake were 2 pages, clearly editing took place to remove 6 pages worth of material (some of which would have been the ‘story so far’ captions) when preparing the story for insertion into the Cheeky Special. For example compare the page below from the Cheeky Special reprint with the originals which Irmantas posted on Kazoop.

Art: Ron Turner

There is no attempt to frame the first part of the story into Cheeky’s world, since it follows Ringer Dinger directly, and part one concludes with a note at the foot of the page reading, ‘Continued on page 57’.

Next up is Skateboard Squad. In the weekly comic there would usually be an introductory scene at the end of the preceding Cheeky page to introduce the Squad strip, but since our heroes appear immediately after the cliffhanger ending of the initial Malice in Wonderland sequence, there is no opportunity for such an intro. However, in keeping with the holiday theme, the terrific trio are at the seaside and their 2 page colour adventure drawn by Paul Ailey (deputising for regular Weekly artist Jimmy Hansen) concerns the Squad’s attempts to retrieve an errant kite (not of the bird variety). Paul later ghosted an episode of Speed Squad (the strip which replaced Skateboard Squad and starring the same intrepid heroes) in the weekly issue dated 03November 1979. However round about the same time that the 1978 Special was in the shops, Paul also had work published in the toothy funster's title dated 15 July 1978, to which he contributed a Sweeny Toddler strip in the Whoopee mini comic located within Cheeky Weekly that week.

Art: Paul Ailey
 

Flipping the page we witness Cheeky now on the beach. As the toothy funster progresses along the sand he swaps gags with many of his Krazy Town pals, and notices that the adult male contingent (including Teacher, Spiv and Sid the Street-Sweeper) are all in a euphoric daze. The reason for the ecstasy evident among the middle-aged masculine contingent of Cheeky's pals soon becomes evident…

 

Frank again

It’s no surprise then to find a Home Movie on the following page – we’re familiar with Oscar’s intro to this feature appearing on Cheeky’s pages in the weekly comic. The seaside-set film is screened over the next 2 pages, and is illustrated by the strip’s regular artist, Jack Clayton. As is the case in the weekly comic, there is no Home Movie title panel (although most weekly episodes end with a banner reading, 'Cut! Another try at a Home Movie next week!'), but the film titles inform us that the seaside location, and thus also the site of Cheeky's holiday, is Cockleshell-on-Sea. The final Home Movie to appear in Cheeky Weekly was printed in the 10 June 1978 edition, not long before this Special was published.

 

Art: Jack Clayton

Page 24 commences with Gunga Jim, Gloomy Glad and Baby Burpo conspiring to stop Cheeky entering for the Grand Joke-Telling Contest. Having tied up the toothy funster, the trio set off to enter the competition, confident that one of their number will win the prize now that the grinning gagster is incapacitated. Cheeky’s pals deliver their best rib-ticklers, but the judge is unaccountably delayed and… well you can guess the rest. The artwork for this 2-pager is by the artist I refer to as Unknown Cheeky Artist 1, whose final Cheeky Weekly work appeared in the 06 May 1978 edition (sorry, Bruce, I changed my mind about the identity of the artist on this Special feature back in 2012).

 

Unknown (by me!) Cheeky Artist 1

As if we hadn’t had enough hilarity already, next is Cheeky’s A-Z of Seaside Jokes (to be picky they’re not really jokes – more like humorous observations) illustrated by Jim Watson (whose final stint on the Cheeky pages in the weekly comic was in the issue dated 10 June 1978). Several of Cheeky’s pals are featured across this 2 page spread. I’ll bet you can guess which of the Krazy Town crew is associated with the letter P. This feature is the first time in the Special that we get to see Cheeky fully embracing the seaside atmosphere by stripping to his swimming trunks – not an edifying sight.

 

Art: Jim Watson

Having chuckled our way through the 26 alphabetical aphorisms, we turn the page only to have another encounter with the telecomms-toting tyke, Ringer Dinger, who is still enjoying the summer weather (of several years earlier as the strip is, of course, another reprint) as he accompanies his parents to the Women’s Guild Annual FĂȘte. The predictable dial-up disaster ensues, following which we meet another character exhumed from IPC’s file of defunct characters – this time it’s Soggy the Sea Monster from Shiver and Shake. The silly sea serpent saves Winnie Whale from being harpooned, then brings the miscreant mariners to justice. This story doesn’t specifically have any obvious links to summer, but its maritime setting does I suppose lend it a watery connection to the seaside.

By now we’re almost half way through the special, and next up we continue to follow Cheeky’s holiday doings, and excitement is building at the prospect of the Grand Treasure Hunt. In the final panel of this 2 page section, drawn by Frank McDiarmid and the first sequence drawn by him in this Special not to feature inked shading, Cheeky invites us to join in the treasure trail. The centre pages contain a beach scene drawn in colour by Cliff Brown, in which 12 ‘valuable objects’ have been concealed. Readers are challenged to locate the sneakily placed items. Sadly neither the toothy funster nor any of his pals are among the folks depicted disporting themselves beside the sea.

Over the page we find that Cheeky is on another hunt, and this time his quarry is the Mystery Comic, a search which readers of the toothy funster’s title witness on a weekly basis. This single-page sequence is drawn by Frank McD, and although it's in monochrome there is inked shading again. Nosy Nora, who is a contributor to the quest in every issue of Cheeky Weekly, is also present as our puzzled pal searches the seafront, and it’s she who locates the perplexing publication. Thus is introduced Mustapha Million’s adventure.

 

The Mighty Frank

Jim Crocker handles the Mustapha artwork duties (Reg Parlett was the original Mustapha artist in Cheeky Weekly, but Joe McCaffrey first deputised for Reg in the issue dated 14 January 1978, then again twice in July the same year - around the time of this Special - before taking over from Reg as the main artist on the feature as of February 1979) as the ever-generous Mustapha treats his chums to a 3-page-spanning beach holiday, following which our dog-and-bone-toting buddy Ringer Dinger is involved in a Herman Melville-inspired tale when a fruitless fishing trip leads to the telephonic summoning of Captain Ahab and his aquatic adversary, Moby Dick (the second whale to feature in this publication). Quite what a whale would feel about being transported to a river is not explored, nor is there any immediately apparent link within the story to summer or holidays.

The nautical narratives continue as Soggy the Sea Monster’s undersea nap is disturbed by intrusive marine biologists. No holiday elements in this tale, either.

Page 40 finds Cheeky wandering among the funfair attractions, as ever trading gags with his pals. At the conclusion of this 4-page sequence drawn by Frank McDiarmid without ink shading, Cheeky tells us that tomorrow he’ll see us at the coach excursion which will follow ‘in a few pages’ time’.

Over the page we join Skateboard Squad again, who are enjoying their holiday in Whitepool (clearly the intrepid trio chose to eschew the delights of Cockleshell-on-Sea), but the relaxed atmosphere is shattered when our 'boarder buddies witness a thief snatching the takings from the seaside rock stall (the theft of cash from various concerns is something with which readers of the Squad’s strips in Cheeky Weekly are very familiar). Needless to say, by the conclusion of this 2-pager drawn by Paul Ailey, our high-speed heroes have apprehended the villain, returned the pilfered cash and been rewarded with giant sticks of rock.

The dank catacombs beneath King's Reach Tower are again the source of the strip on page 46, as Ringer Dinger inadvertently unleashes a kilted highland games enthusiast when the rain prompts him to dial up a ‘mac’. No real summer connection to this story, although rain has been known to fall on occasion during that season in the UK.

Page 47 sees Cheeky and pals embarking on the promised coach excursion. The gang find that their destination is an agricultural one, and plenty of farmyard funnies ensue over this 4 page sequence drawn (including 2 pages in colour, but with no ink shading on the monochrome elements) by Frank McDiarmid. Cheeky Weekly's affable agriculturalist Farmer Giles does not feature in this adventure - he made his debut in the weekly dated 08 July 1978, coinciding with the publication of this Summer Special.

The Soggy the Sea Monster tale which follows commences with 2 shipwreck survivors clinging to the floating remains of their vessel. The titular titan deposits the drifting sailors on board a cruise ship, meaning there is a holiday aspect to this reprint adventure.

The next dilemma for young Ringer Dinger results from a misunderstanding of his request for a ‘chute’ (by which he means a playground slide) with the word ‘shoot’. Due to the telephonic tangle, a big game hunter appears, armed with a shotgun with which he commences to blast various objects (including a kite – not the bird – the second kite reference of this Special). Thankfully no-one gets hurt. I suppose the playground location when the strip begins could be seen as a holiday-related activity.

Cheeky is then seen on his way to the holiday camp cinema. While in transit he answers a call from the Telephone Pole Man, whose final Cheeky Weekly appearance was in the 24 June 1978 edition. TPM helpfully informs us that he’s got a part-time job working at the holiday camp. Maybe it turned into a permanent position which would explain why he never again serviced the communication systems of Krazy Town. UPDATE - Actually, TPM did return to Krazy Town in the pages of the Cheeky Annual 1979. Our toothy pal also encounters Krazy Town’s cinema commissionaire, who's on holiday so takes the opportunity to join the stampede into the film show. This single-page Cheeky sequence is drawn by Frank with ink shading, and leads into a Tweety and Sylvester strip representing the animated cartoon watched by Cheeky and chums on the big screen. Thankfully the tedious cat and bird antics are concluded on a single page, and next comes an advertisement for ‘Three Great Comics’, namely Cheeky Weekly, Whoopee and Whizzer and Chips. It would seem that in Cheeky’s universe IPC has the funds to mount a cinema campaign to promote its titles. At the bottom of this page is the small print including the copyright notice and year, 1978, which is how comic historians know the date of this Special, since IPC didn’t show a year on the covers although that was their practice with Annuals (one year ahead of the publication year as mentioned earlier).

Cheeky Weekly fans will be familiar with the next page, as it depicts the cinema show interval, drawn by Frank McDiarmid and shaded with ink. The toothy funster delivers a canary-related gag to his pals, evidently inspired by the Tweety cartoon which they have just enjoyed. Ursula, beats Cheeky in the rush to the cinema usherette selling refreshments (which is of course Ursula’s current role back in Krazy Town), and proceeds to buy the entire trayload of goodies, before the audience settle down to enjoy the concluding part of Malice in Wonderland, which ends on page 63.

All that remains is the back cover, consisting of a delightful full page illustration depicting Cheeky and pals on the coach as they head home, drawn by Frank and printed in colour.

A farewell from Frank for the
1978 Cheeky Summer Special

Frank's artwork on the Cheeky strips is, as ever, superb; the extra effort he has put into shading the strips enhances the visuals and demonstrates the love he has for illustrating Cheeky's world. Effort has been made by the creative team behind this Special to emulate the unique properties of Cheeky Weekly - there's an ongoing narrative concerning our toothy pal's holiday happenings, which mirrors the daily aspect of Cheeky's regular comic. Although not employed to the same extent as in the weekly, framing devices are evident around 6 Million Dollar Gran (presented as a TV show as weekly readers are familiar with), Home Movie, Tweety and Sylvester and the second chunk of Malice in Wonderland, preceded by an interval. The two Skateboard Squad adventures aren't introduced by Cheeky's sequences as they would be at this time in the weekly comic. The centre-page Treasure Hunt Game is incorporated into the narrative, a nice touch, but it's a pity that the beach scene doesn't include any of the Krazy Town characters. It may be that Cliff Brown's puzzle is in fact a reprint, which brings me on to the disappointing aspect of the Special.

Recycled material was common in IPC Specials of the period, but the shoehorning in of unrelated Ringer Dinger and Soggy the Sea Monster material into this Cheeky Special seems particularly obvious because Cheeky's weekly title at this time was unique, as mentioned above, in framing all the material within the toothy funster's week. Even the reprints were incorporated into Cheeky Weekly in imaginative ways - the Old Comic feature saw Cheeky making a weekly visit to the attic to examine a page from one of the titles in his dad's collection of vintage funny papers. It's a real shame that the editor didn't carry this idea over into the Cheeky Special - our grinning chum could have found some old comics (maybe even Summer Specials) in a junk shop, and presented summer escapades from years gone by. It's possible that it was felt by IPC that to be so blatant about presenting salvaged material in a Special costing over 4 times the 8p cover price of Cheeky Weekly at the time, but containing only twice the pages, risked the ire of readers (or their parents). The re-use of Malice in Wonderland is not so grating (it did after all concern events happening during Sammy Hunter's holiday in New York) and its second half is framed within Cheeky's holiday (and to be fair it's always a treat to see anything drawn by Ron Turner), but the presence of Dinger and Soggy is a real disappointment. Selecting reprints with a summer theme would have made their re-use less jarring, but IPC's seeming policy of associating particular reprint features with a later title (the telephone-toting tyke and silly sea serpent were to return in future Cheeky Specials and Annuals, and both eventually helped fill the pages of Cheeky Weekly in its declining months), meant that they were limited to the holiday-related plots that may have featured in the characters' original runs.

 
Dinger's debut in the 06 October 1978 issue of Cheeky Weekly was heralded with a banner reading, 'Here's a special appearance of a Cheeky Annual favourite!' and of course that may have been a little fib on the part of the editor, or it may actually be the case that the strip was popular and that readers were either unaware that the feature was being run out for a second time, or were aware but didn't have any objection to IPC's unfortunate parsimonious attitude to the content of their Specials.

There were 63 feature elements in the Special (in my comics database each page consists of elements which may be features or adverts of a full page or less), 42 elements were original (so for example 6 Million Dollar Gran is counted as 3 elements since the strip occupied 3 full pages) and 21 were reprint elements (the element on page 55 is an advert so that's not counted). Thus exactly one third of the elements included in the Special were reprinted material. Although I speculated above that the Treasure Hunt game (2 elements) may be a reprint, I have assumed for the purposes of this exercise that it is an original feature, as I have also done with Tweety and Sylvester.

One original feature, Home Movie, had in fact concluded in Cheeky Weekly by the time this Special was published, but which of the features that were running in Cheeky Weekly at the time had not been chosen for inclusion in the Summer Special? Since I don't know the precise publication date (as mentioned earlier the 1978 Cheeky Summer Special was first advertised in Cheeky Weekly dated 08 July 1978), I'm going to assume the Special was published on 01 July 1978...

Features running in Cheeky Weekly as of 01 July 1978 but not included in Cheeky Summer Special 1978

Cheeky Weekly Feature Cheeky Weekly Dates
Calculator Kid01-Jul-78 to 02-Feb-80
Cover Feature22-Oct-77 to 02-Feb-80
Creepy Sleepy Tale22-Oct-77 to 26-Aug-78
Easter Monday01-Apr-78 to 21-Apr-79
Friday22-Oct-77 to 02-Feb-80
Interval22-Oct-77 to 02-Dec-78
James Bold22-Oct-77 to 05-Aug-78
Joke-Box Jury10-Dec-77 to 02-Feb-80
Monday22-Oct-77 to 02-Feb-80
Old Comic29-Oct-77 to 26-Aug-78
Pin-up pal22-Oct-77 to 31-Mar-79
Saturday22-Oct-77 to 02-Feb-80
Sunday22-Oct-77 to 02-Feb-80
Sunday evening22-Oct-77 to 23-Sep-78
Thursday22-Oct-77 to 02-Feb-80
Tuesday22-Oct-77 to 02-Feb-80
Wednesday22-Oct-77 to 02-Feb-80
Wednesday (conclusion)22-Oct-77 to 26-Aug-78
What a Cheek22-Oct-77 to 23-Sep-78
What's New, Kids22-Oct-77 to 17-Nov-79
Whizzer and Chips mini comic01-Jul-78 to 01-Jul-78
Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?24-Jun-78 to 30-Sep-78

Calculator Kid started in Cheeky Weekly on 01 July 1978 so that's why he wasn't included in the Special. Creepy Sleepy Tale could have been incorporated into the Special as Baby Burpo was among the seaside revellers. Since Cheeky's holiday adventures aren't presented as days of the week, none of the weekdays with which readers of the weekly are so familiar are represented in the Special. James Bold did of course appear later in the Cheeky Annuals and could have replaced the Wonderland elements in the Special, but I've always suspected that the editor felt Bold's eerie adventures were more suited to gloomy winter months than bright summer days. Although Interval is listed above, there is an interval in the Special, it's just that I didn't describe it as such when recording it in my database (the query that is the source of the above table looks for non-matches on feature names, and I decided to name all the Cheeky elements in the Special as 'Cheeky' since those sequences are without titles). As discussed above, the opportunity to use the Old Comic feature in the Special was sadly not taken. Joke-Box Jury was a reader participation feature and as far as I know those didn't normally get transferred into Specials, and anyway the Special did feature 2 pages of Cheeky's A-Z of Seaside Jokes, which weren't actually jokes. Pin-up Pal was a series of posters so the introduction of one of those into the Special would have meant losing a page of funnies. What a Cheek was Cheeky Weekly's cover strip for a while. What's New, Kids was an advertorial feature and mercifully there is only one page of ads in the Special. The Whizzer and Chips mini comic was the first of of 1978's mini comics promotion to feature in Cheeky Weekly and promotions of that kind didn't extend to Specials. The animated cartoon element of the Special's cinema visit was fulfilled by Tweety and Sylvester so there was no need for Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? which performed the same role in the weekly on two occasions.

The Treasure Hunt Game, Malice in Wonderland, and Cheeky's A-Z of Seaside Jokes were features which never appeared in Cheeky Weekly. Ringer Dinger and Soggy the Sea Monster would later appear in our toothy pal's comic.

Despite my gripes about the reprints, I think all Friends of Cheeky would have been excited at the prospect of this first spin-off from the toothy funster's comic and I'm sure it was enjoyed by many during the summer of 1978.

Please note I have assigned a title of my own devising to each of the untitled Cheeky sequences in the table of contents below.


Cheeky Summer Special - published July 1978
Page Details
1Cover 'Silly Seaside Snaps' - Art Frank McDiarmid
2Cheeky 'The Coach Journey' - Art Frank McDiarmid
3Cheeky 'The Coach Journey' - Art Frank McDiarmid
4Cheeky 'The Coach Journey' - Art Frank McDiarmid
5Cheeky 'The Coach Journey' - Art Frank McDiarmid
66 Million Dollar Gran - Art Nigel Edwards
76 Million Dollar Gran - Art Nigel Edwards
86 Million Dollar Gran - Art Nigel Edwards
9Ringer Dinger reprint from Whizzer and Chips - Art Terry Bave
10Malice in Wonderland reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Ron Turner
11Malice in Wonderland reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Ron Turner
12Malice in Wonderland reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Ron Turner
13Malice in Wonderland reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Ron Turner
14Malice in Wonderland reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Ron Turner
15Malice in Wonderland reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Ron Turner
16Skateboard Squad - Art Paul Ailey
17Skateboard Squad - Art Paul Ailey
18Cheeky 'On The Beach' - Art Frank McDiarmid
19Cheeky 'On The Beach' - Art Frank McDiarmid
20Cheeky 'On The Beach' - Art Frank McDiarmid
21Cheeky 'On The Beach' - Art Frank McDiarmid
22Home Movie 'Ze French Foreign Legion' - Art Jack Clayton
23Home Movie 'Ze French Foreign Legion' - Art Jack Clayton
24Cheeky 'The Joke Contest' - Art Unknown Cheeky Artist 1
25Cheeky 'The Joke Contest' - Art Unknown Cheeky Artist 1
26Cheeky's A-Z of Seaside Jokes - Art Jim Watson
27Cheeky's A-Z of Seaside Jokes - Art Jim Watson
28Ringer Dinger reprint from Whizzer and Chips - Art Terry Bave
29Soggy the Sea Monster reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Robert Nixon
30Cheeky 'Ready for The Treasure Hunt' - Art Frank McDiarmid
31Cheeky 'Ready for The Treasure Hunt' - Art Frank McDiarmid
32Treasure Hunt Game - Art Cliff Brown
33Treasure Hunt Game - Art Cliff Brown
34Cheeky 'Quest for The Mystery Comic' - Art Frank McDiarmid
35Mustapha Million - Art Jim Crocker
36Mustapha Million - Art Jim Crocker
37Mustapha Million - Art Jim Crocker
38Ringer Dinger reprint from Whizzer and Chips - Art Terry Bave
39Soggy the Sea Monster reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Robert Nixon
40Cheeky 'At the Fun Fair' - Art Frank McDiarmid
41Cheeky 'At the Fun Fair' - Art Frank McDiarmid
42Cheeky 'At the Fun Fair' - Art Frank McDiarmid
43Cheeky 'At the Fun Fair' - Art Frank McDiarmid
44Skateboard Squad - Art Paul Ailey
45Skateboard Squad - Art Paul Ailey
46Ringer Dinger reprint from Whizzer and Chips - Art Terry Bave
47Cheeky 'The Excursion' - Art Frank McDiarmid
48Cheeky 'The Excursion' - Art Frank McDiarmid
49Cheeky 'The Excursion' - Art Frank McDiarmid
50Cheeky 'The Excursion' - Art Frank McDiarmid
51Soggy the Sea Monster reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Robert Nixon
52Ringer Dinger reprint from Whizzer and Chips - Art Terry Bave
53Cheeky 'On the way to the Cinema' - Art Frank McDiarmid
54Tweety and Sylvester 'Get the Point'
55Ad: IPC 'Three Great Comics'
56Cheeky 'Interval' - Art Frank McDiarmid
57Malice in Wonderland reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Ron Turner
58Malice in Wonderland reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Ron Turner
59Malice in Wonderland reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Ron Turner
60Malice in Wonderland reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Ron Turner
61Malice in Wonderland reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Ron Turner
62Malice in Wonderland reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Ron Turner
63Malice in Wonderland reprint from Shiver and Shake - Art Ron Turner
64Cheeky 'The Coach Journey Home' - Art Frank McDiarmid