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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*** CHEEKY WEEKLY, KRAZY, WHOOPEE, WHIZZER AND CHIPS and BUSTER ARE ™ REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, COPYRIGHT ©  REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ***
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Sunday 28 January 2024

The Whizzer and Chips Years - Stage School

In this series of posts I'll be examining the fortunes of those strips that originated in Cheeky Weekly, transferred into Whoopee! after the cancellation of the toothy funster's comic and continued to appear following the merge of Whoopee into Whizzer and Chips which took effect with the issue dated 06 April 1985.

Combining the content of two comics inevitably meant that some features had to be dropped, disappointing readers whose favourite strips failed to make the transfer. As the number of merges accelerated, a conciliatory tactic sometimes employed by editors saw the creation of an umbrella feature under which a number of strips would be rotated in order that they maintained a presence (albeit not weekly) as a sop to disgruntled consumers in the post-merge era.

One such case was Ghostly-Go-Round, and another was Merry-Go-Round in Whoopee! which saw no fewer than seven strips rotate under that banner between the 09 February 1980 and 16 January 1982 issues.

The idea was used again following Whizzer and Chips' absorption of Whoopee, with the introduction of the School Rounds feature which commenced in the second merged issue, dated 13 April 1985. As the School Rounds name implies, all the strips to appear in this series had an educational theme. Whizzer and Chips of course presented itself as being '2 comics in one', and readers were encouraged, by means of deft manipulation of the staples binding the two supposed titles, to separate Chips from Whizzer. In order to facilitate this liberation of Chips from Whizzer's grasp, it was necessary for Chips' allocation of 16 pages to be printed in  the centre of the 32-page comic (thus Chips was ensconced on pages 9 to 24 of the overall comic package), embraced by Whizzer whose 16-page contents spanned pages 1 to 8 and 25 to 32. Most features would be associated with either Whizzer or Chips and would not stray across the conceptual boundary (except for 'raids' which saw characters from Chips infiltrate Whizzer pages and vice versa), but School Rounds appeared in both Whizzer and Chips. Not only that, but it was the Pupils Pet strip (more details below) which featured on each of those occasions (as can be seen in the table below).

All the strips presented under the School Rounds umbrella had a uniform (pardon the pun) layout, with the title of the strip running vertically down the left side of the page, and the words School Rounds at the top, suggesting they weren't reprints but were specially prepared for this brief series.

School Rounds presented episodes of...

Worldwide School (3 episodes), a feature that had begun in Whizzer and Chips dated 12 February 1983 and focused on the schooling of a class of children of diplomats to the United Nations, but would seem to have been inspired by the (some would say notorious) TV sitcom Mind Your Language. Worldwide School appeared in the Chips section during its Whizzer and Chips run, and would return to the pages of Whizzer and Chips (the only feature presented as part of School Rounds to return after the series concluded) as reprints in the 4 editions published in March 1990 (not under the School Rounds banner, and none of the recycled strips featuring the multinational mirthmaking minors were selected from the 3 School Rounds entries published in 1985).

Shipwreck School (2 episodes), which concerned the efforts of a teacher to continue the education of his pupils despite their all being stranded on a tropical island after said educationalist's explosive chemistry lesson sent the cruise ship on which they were travelling to the bottom of the ocean. This strip originated in the first issue of Wow! but migrated to Whoopee when Wow! itself suffered a fate analogous to that of the aforementioned doomed seagoing vessel. Although the final episode concludes with the castaway kids surfing (a sport which of course always delivers participants back to the beach) on a blackboard salvaged from the wreck, there was to be no last-minute rescue for the stranded group, who remained confined to the remote island.

The apostrophe-deficient Pupils Pet (4 episodes) documents the travails of titular tutor Mr Pet. I don't think this strip, drawn by Dave Follows, appeared in either Whizzer and Chips or Whoopee prior to the two comics merging (which is maybe why it traversed the Whizzer/Chips boundary). Pupils Pet is not to be confused with Teacher's Pets (a sort of amalgam of Mind Your Language and All Creatures Great and Small wherein a human teacher, whose design was based on TV dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse, endeavoured to educate a class of animals) which ran in Whoopee! from January 1982 to June 1983 but wasn't included among the School Rounds features. Pupils Pet was the strip chosen to appear in the final School Rounds instalment.

Whizzer and Chips
now including Whoopee
04-May-1985
 

 

...and (most relevant to this blog) Stage School (2 episodes), a feature which commenced in Cheeky Weekly's 'new look' 87th issue, dated 07 July 1979, then ran until the final edition of the toothy funster's comic, clocking up appearances in 26 editions. Subsequently transferring into Whoopee!, Stage School appeared in 262 of the 265 issues published following Whoopee!'s absorption of Cheeky Weekly. Stage School's 2 post-Whoopee-cancellation appearances were in issues of Whizzer and Chips now including Whoopee dated 20 April 1985 (the second in the School Rounds run), following an introduction from Chip-ite Chief Shiner, and 13 July 1985. Readers previously unfamiliar with the Stage School premise would have soon worked out what was going on.

The 2 Stage School entries in the School Rounds series were drawn by Robert Nixon, who was the strip's regular artist (barring a few interruptions) during its Cheeky Weekly and Whoopee runs. The School Rounds episodes featuring the aspiring entertainers were single-page tales, as were all the entries in the run of School Rounds, whereas the vast majority of the previously-published Stage School adventures had been 2-pagers (although often sharing the second page with a single row appearance by Paddywack during the Whoopee years).

The 2 post-Whoopee's-merge-into-Whizzer and Chips Stage School episodes were located in the Chips section, which is fitting as that was where the showbiz wannabes' former Cheeky Weekly colleague, the grinning gagster Cheeky himself, was already appearing in his role as a Krazy Gang member. The other ex-Cheeky Weekly survivors of this latest merge, namely Calculator Kid and Mustapha Million, were also recruited by chief Chip-ite Shiner to join the funny folk populating the Chips section.


Stage School's first appearance
as part of School Rounds

Title Cover Date
Page Feature Sub-Feature
Whizzer and Chips now including Whoopee 13-Apr-1985 23 School Rounds Worldwide School
Whizzer and Chips now including Whoopee 20-Apr-1985 23 School Rounds Stage School
Whizzer and Chips now including Whoopee 04-May-1985 7 School Rounds Pupils Pet
Whizzer and Chips now including Whoopee 25-May-1985 23 School Rounds Worldwide School
Whizzer and Chips now including Whoopee 08-Jun-1985 23 School Rounds Shipwreck School
Whizzer and Chips now including Whoopee 06-Jul-1985 23 School Rounds Pupils Pet
Whizzer and Chips now including Whoopee 13-Jul-1985 23 School Rounds Stage School
Whizzer and Chips now including Whoopee 20-Jul-1985 23 School Rounds Worldwide School
Whizzer and Chips now including Whoopee 27-Jul-1985 23 School Rounds Shipwreck School
Whizzer and Chips now including Whoopee 24-Aug-1985 24 School Rounds Pupils Pet
Whizzer and Chips now including Whoopee 14-Sep-1985 25 School Rounds Pupils Pet

After just 11 outings the School Rounds concept was dropped.

Friday 26 January 2024

JEO - The Puxim Years

Following my two recent posts presenting examples of Jack Oliver's work on Buster, I wanted to round off this brief series with a look at the following letters page from Buster Fortnightly dated 09 June 1995, the first of 4 issues containing a souvenir pull-out celebrating the comic's 35th anniversary. In response to a reader's request for tips for aspiring artists, Jack included an extract from his own early comic, Puxim, drawn when he was 11.

A page from a later edition of Puxim can be seen here.

Thursday 28 December 2023

More from JEO

Following on from my previous post about Jack Oliver's appearance on a Meet the Artists page from Buster, here's another in the same series, this time featuring Jack's pseudonymous counterpart, Sue Denim.

Buster with Whizzer and Chips
06 April 1991

The industrious Jack was at that time drawing (and, I suspect, devising) the Brain Busters quiz page, as well as Vid Kid which he signed with his assumed name - here's the Vid Kid episode from that same issue.  The mighty JEO was also drawing the gags in the Dear Buster feature - I would guess that his duties included selecting and editing the letters for publication - and compiling Buster's Pin-Board, while no doubt tidying up some of the artwork submitted by readers.


 

Jack regularly included a mystery character in the Vid Kid strips (as can been seen in the final panel above). The identity of the enigmatic figure was revealed in Buster dated 26 August 1994...

...and here's the Vid Kid episode mentioned in the above reply to the reader's letter ...


Tuesday 28 November 2023

JEO Gets Political

I'm surprised Jack Oliver was allowed to include the barely-veiled protest against Margaret Thatcher's 1990 introduction of the notorious and short-lived Poll Tax on this page from Buster dated 13 April 1991.

Saturday 28 October 2023

Cheeky-related characters in the Whoopee Specials and Annuals - Part 14 - 1993

The Whoopee Summer Special of 1993 was advertised in an ensemble publicity piece also promoting Specials portraying the football feats and hi-tech heroics of Roy of the Rovers and Thunderbirds respectively,  in the 10 and 24 April 1993 editions of the weekly Buster. Publishers Fleetway Editions had chosen not to advertise the previous year's Whoopee Special in the weekly Busters during 1992, so they appear to have had a change of policy during the intervening months.


 

The 1992-dated Whoopee Annual, published in autumn 1991, was the final hardback collection of strips from the Whoopee stable.
 

Whoopee Summer Special 1993

I have been kindly provided with images of the pages of the 1993 Whoopee Special, but sadly a page (which I judge to be page 55) is missing from the collection.

Sweeny Toddler appears to have commandeered a speedboat in this cover scene of a seaside soaking drawn by Jimmy Hansen.

 



Frank McDiarmid provides a Boy Boss tale on page 3, which I'm assuming is a reprint.

Pages 4 and 5 are definitely reprints as they contain a Mustapha Million adventure drawn by Barry Glennard which originally entertained readers of Whizzer and Chips dated 21 June 1986.

 



Frank McDiarmid draws the Sweeny Toddler adventure on pages 8 and 9, a story which expands on the events depicted on the cover, so this would seem to be a new strip. I know this feature isn't really Cheeky-related but it's always good to see some colour artwork by Mr M.



 

The editor of this Special has reached back to 1977 for content to fill pages 32 and 33, which present a feature from Krazy dated 09 April of that year. This is the first occasion in this series of posts examining the contents of Whoopee Annuals and Specials for Cheeky-related features that I have a found a reprint to have been selected from Krazy, the comic in which Cheeky originated. It's great to see our wee pal again as Frank McDiarmid does the artwork honours on The Perils of Walter Wurx. The lettering of the story has been renewed, and two references to Krazy Town (in the caption and the shop sign) have been removed from the fifth panel. The artwork, which was originally printed in black and white, has been resized to make it slightly wider than on its debut.




An uncharacteristically irascible Showbiz teacher is on view in the Stage School escapade reprinted on pages 44 and 45 from Whoopee! dated 15 January 1983. On its original presentation, Robert Nixon's artwork benefitted from red spot colour.




The contents of the missing page 55 remain unknown, but there's a relevant feature on pages 56 and 57. Last year's Whoopee Special included a new appearance by Cheeky (albeit in a cameo role). This year Cheeky appears again, but in a reprinted episode of The Krazy Gang which originally featured among the pages of the 1981 Krazy Holiday Special. Some adjustments have been made in order to prepare this set for reprinting - the page has been coloured, the lettering has been refreshed, the artwork (by Bob 'Mr.' Hill) has been resized to widen it as was the Walter Wurx strip from Krazy above (although that originated in the weekly comic rather than a Special), and an inflationary uplift has been applied to the monetary values. This is the first occasion on this blog that a reprint has been found to have originated in anything other than a weekly comic.

 


Prices had risen since 1981...



Although again not Cheeky-related, there's more multi-hued work by Frank McDiarmid on page 58, and I'm assuming that like his earlier Sweeny piece, this tale of the Bumpkins and their short-lived bucolic band The Wurzeleeze (a play on real-life pastoral popsters The Wurzels, and/or possibly the arcane tongue of the bird-scaring community, Worzelese) is a new set.


Sadly, unlike last year's Whoopee Special, Frank hasn't included a cameo of Cheeky in either of his new works (although Hairy Henry Dog seems to be emulating Cheeky's Pal Walter Wurx in the first panel of the bottom row on the second page of Sweeny's story).

Was the 1993 Whoopee Holiday Special the final one? I don't know for sure, but to date I haven't seen any evidence of a later one.

Thursday 28 September 2023

More on the Mr. Hill Mystery

I have previously posted about the artist who coyly signed himself  'Mr. Hill', and my efforts to identify his first name, having seen him referred to variously as Bob, Gordon and Len. Mr. Hill's connection to Cheeky was mainly through his long run on The Krazy Gang, who made their debut in the relatively short-lived Krazy and numbered among them our toothy pal. Mr Hill took over the Krazy Gang artwork duties from Ian Knox in 1977. Ian's surrendering of the strip was presumably because he had begun drawing the 2-pages-a-week 6 Million Dollar Gran in Cheeky Weekly. The mysterious Mr. Hill, whose artwork I've always found very appealing, continued to draw the Krazy Gang when the strip transferred into Whizzer and Chips following Krazy's 1978 cancellation, and the semi-anonymous artist drew the antics of the titular group until the strip came to an end in 1986. The enigmatic Mr H also drew our grinning hero in one issue of Cheeky Weekly.

I first broached the perplexing subject of the artist's first name back in 2013, when the consensus seemed to be that Bob was the appellation he went by outside of his comics work. I further considered the conundrum 2 years later, having discovered an item on a Whizzer and Chips letters page which confirmed that Bob is indeed his name.

However I recently lighted upon some further information which reintroduces the confusion because in Buster dated 16 February 1991, for his entry in the series 'Meet the Artists', Mr. Hill lists himself as Gordon, although giving his full name as Gordon Robert (from which we of course derive the 'Bob' by which he seems to be most frequently known).

Despite this latest revelation, I'm going to continue to refer to him as Bob Hill.

Later the same year, Bob placed an advertisement on the Buster letters page in the 19 October edition, announcing the publication of his book, Mr Hill's Mirthquake.

The address given in the advert would appear to be that of a house in a residential street so I felt it prudent to obliterate some of the details to avoid the present occupants being pestered by hordes of Mr. Hill fans.

I have been able to find very little information about Mr. Hill's humorous volume (he is evidently as reluctant to reveal his first name in his book publishing endeavours as he is with his comic work), but copies are held by a number of reference libraries, the author being known in the corridors of those august repositories of printed works as Gordon Hill.

Monday 28 August 2023

Cheeky-related characters in the Whoopee Specials and Annuals - Part 13 - 1992

In the twelve preceding instalments of this series in which my aim is to identify any appearances of Cheeky and/or related characters in the Whoopee Specials or Annuals published since the absorption of Cheeky Weekly into the weekly Whoopee in 1980, I have been able to identify advertisements for those Specials/Annuals in weekly issues of either Whoopee, Whizzer and Chips or Buster published in the years in question. However, with regard to the year currently under investigation, 1992, I was surprised to find that there were no ads for that year's Whoopee Holiday Special in any of the issues of Buster published that year. The Buster Holiday Special of 1992 was advertised in Buster on 8 occasions, and the Buster and Monster Fun Holiday Special received 6 promotions, yet for some reason the Whoopee Special was ignored. It could be that publishers Fleetway Editions felt that sales of Whoopee Specials would accrue as a result of prospective readers or their parents seeing the Whoopee Specials alongside the Buster Specials on newsagents' shelves. Whoopee had ceased to exist as an independent weekly title back in 1985 following its merge into Whizzer and Chips, so few Buster readers in 1992 would remember Whoopee from its heyday. However, unless they were running it as a The Producers-style-scheme designed to lose money, Fleetway Editions must have expected the 1992 Whoopee Holiday Special to achieve a reasonable level of sales. In the original version of my previous post (which I have since updated), I erroneously claimed that the 1992 Whoopee Holiday Special was the final one, but I have since discovered that a Whoopee Special was published in 1993, so it would seem that despite not devoting any advertising to it, Fleetway Editions were satisfied with sales of the 1992 Special (or the losses resulting from it if my earlier wild speculation was anywhere near the truth).

The Whoopee Annual published in 1991, carrying on its cover the year 1992 as was the tradition, was the final yearly hardback collection of Whoopee fun.

 Whoopee Holiday Special 1992

With a menacing Splort! and Shlup!, front cover favourite Sweeny Toddler threatens to distribute a hippo potty mess in this scatalogical and zoological scene drawn by Jimmy Hansen, presaging events in the teeny terror's story on page 2.



Mountaineering mayhem ensues on pages 4 and 5 as a Robot Granny escapade is reprinted from the pages of  Whoopee! and Cheeky dated 11 July 1981. It would seem that Fleetway Editions have a different policy on the lettering on display in reprints than that of former owners of the IPC archives, as the text in this adventure has not been refurbished as it was in all the Cheeky-related reprints in last year's Special produced under the auspices of Fleetway Publications.


Art: Ian Knox


Mustapha Million features in a new adventure drawn by Frank McDiarmid on pages 8 and 9. I'm a little disappointed that no Boilk! (a favourite of mine among comic onomatopoeiae) is in evidence during the gastric plight of Mustapha and pals at the conclusion of the tale.



 

Frank also draws the single-page and mercifully excrement-free Sweeny Toddler episode on page 23, and additionally a Bumpkin Billionaires adventure spanning pages 31 to 34 in which the reluctantly wealthy protagonists encourage criminals to steal their cash. This brings the miscreants to the attention of the police, and if I mention the words 'cash rewards' those of you familiar with the typical Bumpkins storyline can probably deduce the tale's conclusion.

I'm guessing the the two sets by Frank which I describe in the paragraph above are new, but there is more work by the mighty Mr M on pages 41 and 42 in the form of a Boy Boss episode which I imagine is a reprint.

This Special is proving to be a treat for fans of Frank McDiarmid as more of his work is in evidence on pages 43 to 46 which contain a reprinted Cheeky episode that originally appeared in Whoopee! and Cheeky dated 27 June 1981. On its original outing the first page boasted red spot colour.

 




 

There's yet more work by Frank on pages 48 and 49 with another new Mustapha Million episode, and among the affable Arab's chums is a rather familiar-looking lad. Those goofy teeth, the sticky-up hair and the striped jersey - yes, it's definitely Cheeky! In addition there are some nods to Cheeky's strips of yore in the feline form of (what I choose to believe is) Granny Gumdrop's cat, Tired Tom, the cloud hovering above Mustapha's Pals, and Mustapha's appearance via a manhole (the latter 2 elements referencing Gloomy Glad and Manhole Man respectively).


There is no further Cheeky-related material in this Special.

It's great to see a new appearance of Cheeky, even if it is in a supporting role. Frank McDiarmid had previously teased Cheeky fans in the Mustapha Million episode in Whizzer and Chips dated 22 October 1988 with a character displaying similarities to our toothy pal, but in this Mustapha story it's undoubtedly Cheeky among the cast. Our grinning chum also features in a 4-page reprint, so will there be a strong Cheeky presence in the Whoopee Holiday Special of 1993? Join me soon when I'll be finding out.