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.

Quick links...
Basic Stats
Cheeky Weekly Index - Cheeky Annuals and Specials Index
Cheeky Weekly Artist Index
Features by Number of Appearances
Cheeky Weekly Timeline
Major Characters from the Cheeky pages
Features Ordered by Date of Commencement

Thanks for reading the blog.

Sunday 31 October 2010

Cheeky Weekly cover date 07 January 1978

This week's cover foregoes the What A Cheek strip to announce the Cheeky Spotter Book of Fun, starting today.  Readers are invited to cut out the booklet instalments over the next four weeks, and assemble it when they have all the sections.

The cover looks to me as though it's an assembly of cut-and-paste and original artwork by unknown hand.

There's a running joke throughout Cheeky's Week with Do-Good Dora compiling a list of new year resolutions that eventually totals 1000 good deeds.

Page 2 is the only occasion where a day is continued from the previous issue, as we are still in the final seconds of New Year's Eve, eagerly awaiting midnight and the first guest of the New Year.  The first-footer turns out to be Uncle Hamish, making his debut.  Cheeky's mum has changed her outfit and hair colour in the few seconds that have elapsed since we saw her in the previous issue.  A group of Cheeky's (adult) pals arrive, including Milkie who has some bottles (of gold top?), and the new year bash commences.

6 Million Dollar Gran is brought forward a day to Sunday in this issue, and stars in a new year-themed episode as she carries the church bell to London for repair and returns it in time for ringing in 1978.

On Monday Cheeky visits the newsagents to collect his paper round money and is unable to resist a free read of the new James Bold novel.  On being discovered and ejected by the newsagent during the 'Suddenly' element of Cheeky's Week which is introduced in this issue, Cheeky walks past a puddle that some Krazy Town graffiti artist (surely not Cheeky?) has attributed to Walter Wurx.

Oscar explains on Thursday that he didn't have time to make a home movie this week, but we all know that the Home Movie page was actually bumped because of the New Year's Eve page, which resulted in extra Cheeky's Week material in this week's issue.

This week's Mustapha Million story is another new year resolution-themed tale, and concludes in a single page instead of the normal 2-pager.  We can't blame this one on New Year's Eve again - Mustapha owes his truncation to the amount of IPC in-house advertising in this week's issue.  Page 18 consists of 2 ads; one for Shoot!, which is featuring the first part of their cut out 1978 calendar, and another promoting the cut out spotter books starting this week in Krazy, Whoopee! and Whizzer and Chips.  On page 30 there's an ad for Roy of the Rovers, (whose readers can cut out the first part of a full-colour FA Cup chart), plus a couple of stamp collecting ads ('please tell your parents'), and the instructions for saving the spotter book instalment in this issue.  IPC management certainly believe reader loyalty can be secured by getting them to hack chunks out of their favourite comics.  Don't they think that if readers are keen on a particular title they will keep the whole comic rather than just bits of it?  I always feel short-changed by any cut-out-and-keep items, I much prefer pages of strips.

All the Cheeky's Week art this week is by Frank McDiarmid pencils.  Jim Petrie does the honours on the spotter book.  Uncle Hamish and Newsagent make their first appearances.  This week we say goodbye (and good riddance as far as I'm concerned) to the Wile E Coyote feature.

Cheeky Weekly Cover Date: 07-Jan-1978, Issue 12 of 117
1Cover Feature 'Spotter Book of Fun' - Art Jim Petrie (single art on feature) - Art Cut and Paste (first art on feature)
2New Year's Eve (final appearance) - Art Frank McDiarmid pencils (single art on feature)
3Sunday - Art Frank McDiarmid pencils
4Skateboard Squad - Art Jimmy Hansen
5Sunday evening - Art Frank McDiarmid pencils
66 Million Dollar Gran - Art Ian Knox
76 Million Dollar Gran - Art Ian Knox
86 Million Dollar Gran - Art Ian Knox
9Monday - Art Frank McDiarmid pencils
10James Bold 'The Ghost Highwayman' 1 of 9 - Art Mike White (first art on feature)
11James Bold 'The Ghost Highwayman' 1 of 9 - Art Mike White (first art on feature)
12Suddenly (first appearance) - Art Frank McDiarmid pencils (first art on feature)
13Tuesday - Art Frank McDiarmid pencils
14Old Comic reprint from Chips 'Dickie Duffer' 1 of 2 reprint from Chips 'Rudolf the Red Nosed Ranger'
15Wednesday - Art Frank McDiarmid pencils
16Creepy Sleepy Tale - Art Keith Reynolds
17Creepy Sleepy Tale - Art Keith Reynolds\Wednesday (conclusion) - Art Frank McDiarmid pencils
18Ad: IPC 'Shoot' 2 of 13 Ad: 'Spotter Books promo' 1 of 2
19Thursday - Art Frank McDiarmid pencils
20What's New, Kids
21Friday - Art Frank McDiarmid pencils
22Mustapha Million - Art Reg Parlett
23Joke-Box Jury
24Saturday - Art Frank McDiarmid pencils
25Wile E Coyote (final appearance) 'Extra Long Division'
26Wile E Coyote (final appearance) 'Extra Long Division'
27Interval - Art Frank McDiarmid pencils
28Space Family Robinson 'The Icemen' - Art John Richardson
29Space Family Robinson 'The Icemen' - Art John Richardson
30Ad: IPC 'Roy of the Rovers' 2 of 8
31The Cheeky Spotter Book of Fun (first appearance) - Art Jim Petrie (first art on feature)
32The Cheeky Spotter Book of Fun (first appearance) - Art Jim Petrie (first art on feature)

Thursday 28 October 2010

The Features - Skateboard Squad

Post updated 14 June 2016 - artwork credit changed from Mike Lacey to Jimmy Hansen.

Rolling on the crest of the late 70s skateboard craze, the Skateboard Squad consisted of Skipper aka Skip (male), Skatie (female) and Wipe-Out (canine, male).  When trouble loomed, the Squad would mount their trusty boards and roar off to right wrongs, foil robberies (on one occasion retrieving the Cheeky editor's wages, a huge sack of money) and generally do good.  The only person for whom they seemed to have no regard was Cheeky, who was run over on several occasions as the intrepid team raced to their latest adventure.  In the Squad's story in the comic dated 11 March 1978, Cheeky was run over again in the final panel.

The stories quite often took place in Krazy Town park, where the team would deal with spoilsport parkies, bullies, and stranded cats.  There were also a number of stories set on farms, not an environment one would consider conducive to skateboarding.

In the third issue of Cheeky Weekly we meet a gang who are apparently the Squad's arch enemies, the Roller Skate Mob.  However the Mob only makes one more appearance, in the comic dated 07 January 1978.

The conclusion to the story in the comic dated 03 June 1978 reveals that Skipper and Skatie are siblings, as they return home to their mum.

Skateboard Squad had quite a number of crossovers with characters from Cheeky's Week.  Prior to the meeting with Cheeky on 11 March 1978 referred to above, on 04 February 1978 the Vicar, Cheeky and 6 Million Dollar Gran had been seen in the crowd as the Squad gave a demonstration of their boarding skills at the new sports centre.  The decision to include Gran in the crowd is debatable since in Cheeky's world Gran is a fictional character from a TV show.  On 01 April 1978 the Squad race to save a runaway pram, finding that it's occupied by Baby Burpo.  In the Squad page in the 13 May 1978 comic, the team encounter Manhole Man, Baker's Boy, the goalie cat and Snail.  24 June 1978's adventure sees the Squad meet Spiv, Libby, Louise, Jogging Jeremy, Six-Gun Sam, Bump-Bump Bernie, Cheeky and Burpo.  On 16 September 1978 they meet Cheeky once more, returning to help pick up his newspapers after colliding with the toothy funster on the preceding page.  The comic dated 07 October 1978 sees the Squad introduce a skateboard into Jogging Jeremy's fitness regime.  Snail makes cameo appearances in the following two episodes, the second of which also features Farmer Giles.  The 13 January 1979 instalment has a new year theme as the squad resolve to do good turns for Sid the Street-Sweeper, Louise and Cheeky.  Sadly, the good deeds fail to please the recipients, except for Louise who is seen clinging lovingly to Cheeky's leg in the final panel.  Constable Chuckle takes into custody the thief the Squad have just captured, at the end of the 03 March 1979 story, and he appears again on 17 March 1979.  Teacher lets Skipper off the lines he'd been set, as a reward for the team's good deed in the Squad's final story, in the issue dated 12 May 1979.

An unsettlingly evil-looking Squad are featured on the Pin-Up Pal poster in the 31 March 1979 issue.

14 January 1978
06 January 1979

I suspect that the Squad page printed in the 17 February 1979 issue was originally intended for the aborted Christmas 1978 comic, which failed to appear due to a strike.  I would guess that the reference to the infants' 'annual party' was changed from 'Christmas party'.

The first Skateboard Squad story had no introductory caption or title panel.  The remaining episodes up to and including 16 September 1978 commence with an above-story caption reading either 'Here comes the Skateboard Squad' or 'Watch the Skateboard Squad in action' (the strip in 19 August 1978's 60-years-into-the-future issue had a caption reading 'Here comes the 1978 Skateboard Squad' since the terrific trio of 2038 were unlikely to still be propelling themselves around Krazy Town on boards), but in the 23 September 1978 comic, a conventional title frame appears in the first panel of the top row of frames.  Limiting the title of the strip to a single panel meant that the name had to be printed as Skate Board Squad.  Subsequent stories had a title across the top of the page showing the Squad trailing a banner, allowing the strip name to be printed as  Skateboard Squad.  The move to replace the introductory caption with more conventional title frames was probably made in order to render the strips more easily used as reprints.

The Squad's canine component, Wipe-Out, seemed to develop the ability to speak in the 18 November 1978 issue of the toothy funster's comic, seemingly unnoticed by his companions (his previous utterances being limited to sundry woofs, growls or on one occasion a few words to a fellow pooch in 'dog language'). The only other instance of Wipe-Out's mongrel verbosity came during the Squad's Star Guest appearance in Whizzer and Chips dated 14 April 1979, in the course of which our mutt mate conversed with his companions.

All 76 episodes of the Squad's adventures were drawn by Jimmy Hansen.  In the issue dated 04 February 1978, their adventure covered two thirds of a second page, but all the other Squad episodes were single-pagers.  The strip most regularly followed the Sunday page, but migrated to the page after Thursday as it headed toward the end of its run.

From Cheeky Weekly's first issue to that dated 23 September 1978, Skateboard Squad followed Cheeky's Sunday page. During this 50-issue run the Squad would, with one exception, make an introductory appearance in the final panel of the Sunday page, where they were seen zooming off to their latest adventure and bowling Cheeky off his feet in the process. The one instance from this period on which the terrific trio didn't make an appearance on the page preceding their story occurred in the 31 December 1977 Christmas issue, as the Skateboard Squad tale began with them at home opening their presents (skateboards, naturally).

With effect from the 30 September 1978 revamp issue, and as a result of the upheaval caused by the introduction of the Mystery Comic section, the Squad's page moved so that it followed the Tuesday page. However, as of the following week the introductions were dropped until the 09 December 1978 issue. This issue was reduced to 28 pages as a consequence of industrial action and although Cheeky introduced the Squad on page 17, the following page actually contained Disaster Des and the Squad appeared on page 19. Maybe the resumption of the introductions following a 9-week break was due to reader feedback.

Cheeky Weekly then failed to be published for 3 weeks, and on its return, and until the final Squad story in the 12 May 1979 comic, Skateboard Squad relocated to the page after Thursday (with a couple of exceptions) and most of the introductory panels of this period showed the Squad experimenting with some ingenious method of warning the populace of their approach.

Obviously sensing that the boarding craze had passed its peak, Cheeky Weekly's generously remunerated editor retired the Skateboard Squad after their appearance in the 12 May 1979 issue.  However, following a two week break, Skipper, Skatie and Wipe-Out were back in their new incarnation, the Speed Squad.

FeatureFirst AppearanceFinal AppearanceTotal IssuesTotal Issues Missed In RunPage History
Skateboard Squad22-Oct-7712-May-797632,3,4,7,9,10,11,19,22,23,24

Issues Missed In Run

FeatureArtistNumber of IssuesFirst AppearanceFinal Appearance
Skateboard Squad Jimmy Hansen7622-Oct-197712-May-1979

Count of pages preceding feature

Preceding PageCount
Disaster Des1
Christmas Morning1
Easter Sunday1

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Profile - Baker's Boy

Employed by bakers Burnitt & Scorchit to transport a tray of cakes around Krazy Town for no apparent reason, the Baker's Boy repeatedly fell victim to Cheeky's challenge to answer a riddle or forfeit one of his goodies.  In the 28 January 1978 issue, Cheeky set Baker's Boy the riddle 'what's black and white and fast?' on Sunday, and allowed the purveyor of pastries a whole week to supply the right answer.  Despite making valiant attempts to provide the correct solution each day (with, according to Cheeky, an extra 2 attempts on Friday although I can only see one), the hapless comestible conveyor eventually lost 9 of his confections to our grinning hero the following Saturday, on learning that the correct answer is 'a jet-propelled domino'.

It wasn't just Cheeky who preyed on the Baker's Boy's wares, a bird also appeared when Baker's Boy was drawn by Unknown Cheeky Artist1, gorging itself into ornithological obesity.

In another example of the inconsistencies that appear in Cheeky Weekly, the name Scorchit on the Baker's Boy's tray is sometimes spelled Scorchitt. Sometimes there are no names on the tray.

Baker's Boy featured in 99 issues of Cheeky Weekly, most regularly appearing on the Monday page.  In the 13 May 1978 issue, Baker's Boy appeared in the Skateboard Squad story, and he was one of the guests at Pete and Pauline Potts' party in the 6 Million Dollar Gran strip in Cheeky Weekly dated 06 October 1979.

Cheeky's cake-toting source of nourishment originally appeared in the first issue of Krazy dated 16 October 1976, and made regular appearances in that title.

Total Issues
First Appearance
Final Appearance
Baker's Boy9924-Dec-197702-Feb-1980

Missing From Issues

Baker's Boy - Number of appearances by Element
Number of Appearances
Cheeky's Week1
Easter Monday1
Happy leap year1
Hey Presto! Magic Show1
Saturday - April Fool's Day1
Shrove Tuesday1
Sunday evening1

Baker's Boy - Number of appearances by Page
Number of Appearances

Sunday 24 October 2010

The other Cheeky artists - Unknown Cheeky Artist 1

This post updated 10 May 2012.

I have changed the artist credit that I previously referred to as Frank McDiarmid pencils 2. I had originally thought the artwork in question was a combination of Frank's pencils with another artist doing the inking, but since doing the research while writing the profile of Flash Harry, I have begun to doubt that Frank had any input into this art.

Flash Harry - Frank McDiarmid 31 December 1977

Flash Harry - unknown artist 04 March 1978
This change of opinion hinges on the distinctive way this artist drew Flash Harry in the 04 March 1978 issue, in which Harry's appearance was unlike any other depiction of the character to appear in the comic's run. It seems to me that if this artwork was based on Frank's pencils, Harry's design in that issue would have been closer to the version that Frank drew when the funny photographer made his debut in the 31 December 1977 comic. It could be that at the time the unknown artist was assigned the work that eventually appeared in the 04 March 1978 comic, he/she had no visual reference for Harry, as the silly snapper had only appeared in two issues prior to 04 March 1978, so the artist just took his/her best guess at what the character looked like. This comic is the only one in which the artist that I'm referring to drew Flash Harry, although the artist contributed to 13 issues in total.

As I mentioned in my original post on this artist, he/she did include a number of distinctive components in the drawings, which is another reason to suppose that the work was entirely original, with no input from Frank - I doubt an inker would be given license to add to the pencilled pages.

Consequently, I have redesignated this artist as Unknown Cheeky Artist 1 (UCA1).

In an earlier post I discussed the Cheeky's Week artwork that I have attributed to Frank McDiarmid as penciller, with inks by other artists.  I refer to this combination of talents as 'Frank McDiarmid pencils', but I believe that the inking on the artwork that I have placed in that category may not all be by the same hand.  

Note as of 10 May 2012:  I believe that the artist credit Frank McDiarmid pencils is still valid, but I have struck out the reference to it above as I felt it was confusing.

However, in the process of preparing this blog I have looked through all the Cheeky art several times, and to me it seems that there is one inker who added some of his/her own touches when working on the Cheeky's Week pages he/she was assigned.  I have rather unimaginatively called this particular Frank-and-inker combination 'Frank McDiarmid pencils 2' (FMP2).
For a while, I wasn't sure whether this artwork was by Frank with an inker, but having looked at it over a period of time I see enough of Frank's work in it to satisfy myself that it's not entirely the work of another artist. I have some statistical evidence to support my theory that FMP2 is the work of Frank and an assistant, which I will discuss in my wrap-up post on the subject of the other Cheeky artists.  But then again maybe I'm completely wrong.

 The trademarks which appear to be exclusive to FMP2 UCA1 are;

* A bird that eats the Baker's Boy's cakes, and sometimes perches on the edge of the panel, occasionally hanging upside-down.

* A punctured hot-air balloon which is propelled across the sky with attendant rude noises.

* A bat circling Ursula's head.

* The Starship Enterprise boldly going over Krazy Town.

* Two references to saving Krazy comic.  Krazy was to come to an end 6 months into Cheeky Weekly's run, so maybe this inker artist was also doing work on Krazy.

* References to Cheeky putting sugar on his porridge. Scots famously put salt on theirs, so maybe this was a reference to Frank.

FMP2 UCA1's work first appeared in Cheeky Weekly issue 13, cover date 14 January 1978.  This issue featured A whole Cheeky's Week of UCA1 artwork.

UCA1 was back in the following week's issue, but this time he/she contributed the Saturday page only. In the next issue, dated 28 January 1978, UCA1 was responsible for 5 pages.

After skipping a week, UCA1 was back in the 11 February 1978 issue with the cover's What a Cheek plus 4 pages, and the following week there were again 4 UCA1 pages, but no What a Cheek.  There was then another week's break before UCA1 was back with 5 pages in the 04 March 1978 issue.  The 11 March issue contained 5 pages of art, plus the cover's What A Cheek, by UCA1.

The comic dated 25 March 1978 featured the highest number of UCA1 contributions to a single issue, totalling 6 pages.

The next comic to feature UCA1 art was the issue dated 08 April 1978, which contained 4 of his/her pages.

After another week's gap, UCA1 contributed the 3-panel conclusion to Wednesday in the 22 April 1978 issue, and delivered the same element again on 29 April, and again in the 06 May 1978 comic, which was the last to feature UCA1 art.  Continuing my speculation that this artist had a link with Krazy comic, and the fact that Krazy's final issue was dated 15 April 1978, maybe it's significant that no further UCA1 art appeared in Cheeky Weekly after 06 May 1978.

UCA1's Cheeky's Week pages in Cheeky Weekly

Cover Date
14-Jan-19781What a Cheek
14-Jan-19784Sunday evening
11-Feb-19781What a Cheek
11-Mar-19781What a Cheek
11-Mar-19784Sunday evening
25-Mar-19784Sunday evening

Saturday 23 October 2010


I have made some slight revisions to an earlier post in the The Other Cheeky Artists series.  I found a few more Frank McDiarmid pencils elements while working on my next post.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Cheeky Weekly cover date 31 Dec 1977

 Happy Christmas, pals!  And so we reach a Cheeky Weekly milestone, the first Christmas issue. The front page dispenses with the British comic tradition of a snow-topped title, but Frank McDiarmid furnishes a seasonal, Christmas cracker-based cover with a nice falling snow background.

This is a great issue, with Frank firing on all cylinders as he delivers a whole festive-fun-packed Cheeky's Week.  Included are such treats as a group photo featuring the whole of the Cheeky clan (hope Flash Harry used the 'reduce tooth glare' setting on his camera), and Cheeky scoffing a huge slice of Christmas pud in front of 6 Million Dollar Gran on TV.  There's even a Cheeky's Week page in full colour.

Krazy Town looks very seasonal under a blanket of snow, although it poses something of a problem for Snail.  Even Gloomy Glad has the Christmas spirit, and everyone is looking forward to the Vicar's Boxing Day party.

As promised in last week's comic, in this week's Skateboard Squad story we discover which presents the Squad bought for each other with their reward money.  Er, skateboards.  Right.  However, the ingenious team find that by inverting their boards they can travel on the snow.

Sadly, it seems Snail doesn't get a look in with the Christmas grub, but he does get to read the rather unsatisfying concluding chapter of James Bold's first adventure, Fangs of Fear. Although Bold will be back with a new adventure next week, this is the final edition to show Cheeky having a sneaky bedtime read of a Bold novel.

At the Vicar's party there are 2 interlopers; Pongo Snodgrass from Krazy comic makes his only appearance in a Cheeky's Week's strip (although he will appear in a later Creepy Sleepy Tale and 6 Million Dollar Gran episode), and Billy Bunter, also in a one-off appearance, is assumed by the other partygoers to be Krazy's Micky Mimic.  Wipeout, the canine member of The Skateboard Squad, makes his debut as part of Cheeky's Week, but I'm not sure if he was invited.  Skatie from the Squad is also present in her second Cheeky's Week appearance (her first being in the 03 December 1977 issue), but Skipper seems to be absent.

The comic ends on a cliffhanger - who will be the first person through the front door on new year's day?

As it's Christmas, I won't mention that on page 9, Cheeky's mum says that Dad gave Cheeky the racing game, when on page 2 we clearly see it's from Aunt Sarah.

Cheeky Weekly Cover Date: 31-Dec-1977, Issue 11 of 117
1Cover Feature 'Christmas Issue' 1 of 2 - Art Frank McDiarmid
2Christmas Morning (single appearance) - Art Frank McDiarmid (single art on feature)
3Christmas Morning (single appearance) - Art Frank McDiarmid (single art on feature)
4Skateboard Squad - Art Jimmy Hansen
5Christmas Dinner (single appearance) - Art Frank McDiarmid (single art on feature)
66 Million Dollar Gran - Art Ian Knox
76 Million Dollar Gran - Art Ian Knox
86 Million Dollar Gran - Art Ian Knox
9Christmas Day (single appearance) - Art Frank McDiarmid (single art on feature)
10James Bold 'Fangs of Fear' 11 of 11 - Art Lopez (final art on feature)
11James Bold 'Fangs of Fear' 11 of 11 - Art Lopez (final art on feature)
12Boxing Day (single appearance) - Art Frank McDiarmid (single art on feature)
13Boxing Day (single appearance) - Art Frank McDiarmid (single art on feature)
14Ad: IPC 'Spotter Book next week'
15Wednesday - Art Frank McDiarmid
16Creepy Pantomime (single appearance) - Art Keith Reynolds (single art on feature)
17Creepy Pantomime (single appearance) - Art Keith Reynolds (single art on feature)\Wednesday (conclusion) - Art Frank McDiarmid
18Thursday - Art Frank McDiarmid
19Home Movie 'Xmas Past' - Art Jack Clayton
20Friday - Art Frank McDiarmid
21Mustapha Million - Art Reg Parlett
22Mustapha Million - Art Reg Parlett
23Friday - Art Frank McDiarmid
24Old Comic reprint from Film Fun 'Frank Randle'
25Joke-Box Jury
26Saturday - Art Frank McDiarmid
27Cocky Doodle reprint from Buster\Ad: IPC 'Roy of the Rovers' 1 of 8
28Bam Splat and Blooie reprint from Buster\Ad: IPC 'Shoot' 1 of 13
29Interval - Art Frank McDiarmid
30Space Family Robinson 'Forest of Fear' - Art John Richardson
31Space Family Robinson 'Forest of Fear' - Art John Richardson
32New Year's Eve (first appearance) - Art Frank McDiarmid (single art on feature)

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Sunday 10 October 2010

Profile - Walter Wurx

Walter Wurx suffered from an affliction that today's advertisers are describing as overactive bladder.  Whenever Walter was around, Cheeky would delight in spouting (pardon the pun) mischievous double entendres that reminded master Wurx of his urgent need to visit the little boy's room.  Walter would then depart in haste, seeking the nearest comfort station.

Walter made 57 leg-crossing appearances in Cheeky Weekly, most regularly on Saturdays.

In the the late 70s, pee jokes in mainstream (if you'll pardon another pun) children's comics were an entirely new, rather daring development and delighted kids of the time.

Total Issues
First Appearance
Final Appearance
Walter Wurx5722-Oct-197719-Jan-1980

Saturday 9 October 2010

The Features - 6 Million Dollar Gran

A spoof on the popular TV show of the period, The Six Million Dollar Man, 6 Million Dollar Gran appeared in all but 3 issues of Cheeky Weekly.  In the first episode, robotics expert Professor Potts unveiled his new creation, an android 'so lifelike that it has cost six million dollars to make'.  Immediately after presenting the robot to his colleagues at the World Authority for Scientific Projects (WASP), an attempt was made to steal this technological wonder, but the robot overcame its would-be abductors.

Fearing his synthetic humanoid may fall into enemy hands, Potts made the questionable decision to take the robot home to his family.  However, in a cunning ruse to disguise its true nature, the 'metal masterpiece' was dressed as an elderly woman, and Potts' children, Pete (referred to as Billy in the first episode) and Pauline (whose hairstyle was different in subsequent adventures), adopted the robot as their granny.

Any readers keen to find out more about the mysterious WASP organisation were to be disappointed, as that aspect of the story was never mentioned again (although the Prof was seen working in a laboratory in the 22 September 1979 issue).  Instead, most of the scripts just played with the idea of a deceptively powerful old lady who often foiled felons or carried out rescues.  Early episodes were introduced by a caption explaining that Gran is a robot, but after the 6th instalment such captions appeared only sporadically, sometimes just describing our heroine as a 'super-gran'.  The captions ceased entirely after the 31 December 1977 issue.  New readers were left to work out for themselves what was going on as Gran's true nature was rarely mentioned from then on, and in some of the strips even Gran seems to forget she is not human.

For the majority of the issues of Cheeky Weekly, the page preceding the 6 Million Dollar Gran feature would show Cheeky rushing home to watch Gran's latest adventure on TV.  Gran appeared most regularly following the Sunday page (39 times), with 37 appearances after the Sunday evening page (the Sunday evening feature came to an end in the issue dated 23 September 1978 - in the following issue Cheeky told us that Gran's programme had been moved to a mid-day slot), and 10 after Monday.  Near the end of the comic's run, as the feature continued its trajectory towards the rear pages of the comic, Gran wouldn't follow directly from a Cheeky's Week page.

Until Cheeky Weekly dated 06 May 1978, the final panel of each 6 Million Dollar Gran story showed Cheeky looking at a caption on his TV which read  'End of Episode XX. Tune in again next week', but in the following stories the episode number was omitted and sometimes the caption would just read 'The End'.  The final time that Cheeky was shown to be heading home to watch Gran was in the 30 June 1979 comic.  As mentioned above, in subsequent issues, the Gran page wouldn't follow directly from a Cheeky's Week page, most regularly following Calculator Kid.  From the issue dated 21 July 1979 the final-panel-showing-Cheeky-watching-TV idea was abandoned, and the strip would fill the whole of the final page of each episode.  The final reference to Gran being a TV show, the title panel which showed a TV screen, was revamped on 15 December 1979.  In this issue the original title was replaced by a simple, unadorned caption and the new style of title panel continued (albeit with the traditional snow-covered variant in the 29 December 1979 issue) for the remaining 7 issues until Cheeky Weekly's demise.

In the 19 January 1980 edition, Gran's usual strip was replaced with a spot the difference puzzle based on a panel lifted from her story in the issue dated 17 March 1979.

Mustapha Million is seen watching an episode of 6 Million Dollar Gran on TV in the first panel of his strip in the comic dated 29 April 1978.

I suspect that the Gran strip which was prepared for the 1978 Christmas issue of Cheeky Weekly (one of the issues that failed to appear due to industrial action) was eventually published in the 1980 Cheeky Annual on pages 9-11.  In the annual, It seems to me that the wording of Gran’s first speech balloon has been changed to refer to a new year party, but Gran brings a giant Christmas cracker. Also, a Jim Petrie rendition of Cheeky has been substituted in the final panel, where in Cheeky Weekly we would see Cheeky looking at a ‘The End’ caption on the TV.

6 Million Dollar Gran was the only feature in Cheeky Weekly to regularly run to 3 page stories, although not all the episodes were that lengthy.  84 episodes were 3-pagers, 27 were 2-pagers, and 3 stories completed on a single page.

Gran's adventures in Cheeky Weekly were drawn by Ian Knox (94 episodes), Nigel Edwards (18 episodes) and Mike Lacey (2 episodes).  In the Mustapha Million strip in the comic dated 29 April 1978 (as mentioned above), Reg Parlett draws Gran on TV in the first panel.

Despite it being made clear in the first episode and subsequent introductory captions that Gran was a robot, on several occasions in the comic the aged automaton's fantastic abilities were referred to as bionic (examples here, here and here). This was clearly an attempt to attract fans of the popular TV show that the strip spoofed, which was often referred to by the public as The Bionic Man. Why, then, didn't the scriptwriter just make Gran bionic in the first place? One online dictionary defines 'bionic' thusly;

Having anatomical structures or physiological processes that are replaced or enhanced by electronic or mechanical components.
TV's 6 Million Dollar Man gained his electromechanical upgrades as a result of injuries suffered in a terrible accident. Having a sweet old granny lose some limbs or vital organs or otherwise undergo ground-breaking surgery was clearly not really an option for a humour strip aimed at children, so Gran was envisaged as entirely synthetic.

Gran survived the merge at the end of Cheeky Weekly's run, transferring into Whoopee in February 1980, and the character featured regularly until Whoopee itself was subsumed into Whizzer and Chips in April 1985, although as from Whoopee! and Cheeky dated 09 May 1981 the strip was retitled Robot Granny.  Following Whoopee's absorption of Wow in July 1983, the title of the strip was again changed, this time to Gran's Gang.  See here for more info and examples of Gran's post-Cheeky Weekly incarnations.

In the special skateboard issue of Cheeky Weekly dated 04 February 1978, someone resembling Gran appears in the Skateboard Squad strip as one of the spectators watching the Squad give a display of their boarding skills.  This cannot actually be Gran, since in Cheeky's universe (in which the Squad also exist), Gran is a fictional character from a TV show.  We must therefore assume that a member of the crowd is wearing a Gran mask, possibly as a publicity gimmick by the TV company, or maybe the wearer of the mask is a Gran fan. A little harder to explain is the 6 Million Dollar Gran story in Cheeky Weekly dated 06 October 1979, in which the Potts kids invite the synthetic senior citizen to their party. At the end of the strip, Pete and Pauline are delighted to welcome "Our chums from Cheeky Weekly" (including Cheeky, Baker's Boy and Mustapha Million among others) to join the festivities. Although, as mentioned above, Cheeky had not been shown heading home to watch Gran on TV since the 30 June 1979 issue, and the feature had not ended with the toothy funster watching a 'The End' caption on TV since 14 July 1979, so maybe we're supposed to infer that the nature of Gran's relationship with the Cheeky universe had changed by this stage.

Gran also appeared on page 31 of the final issue of Cheeky Weekly dated 02 February 1980, as those characters who would survive the merge with Whoopee! met their new comic chums.  I think we can allow a little license in this instance, since Gran had not been depicted as a TV programme in Cheeky Weekly since July the previous year, and anyway the editor had little option than to include Gran alongside the other characters who would transfer into Whoopee!  However, having said that, Paddywack, whose ambiguous position in Cheeky's universe mirrors Gran's, (being a fictitious character who made one appearance in Cheeky's world) also survived the merge yet did not appear in that meeting between refugees from Cheeky Weekly and their Whoopee! Pals.  Cheeky Weekly remained inconsistent to the end.

Gran - The Whoopee Years

FeatureFirst AppearanceFinal AppearanceTotal IssuesTotal Issues Missed In RunPage History
6 Million Dollar Gran22-Oct-7702-Feb-8011433,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,13,14,15,19,24,25

Issues Missed In Run

FeatureArtistNumber of IssuesFirst AppearanceFinal Appearance
6 Million Dollar Gran Ian Knox9422-Oct-197726-Jan-1980
6 Million Dollar Gran Nigel Edwards1825-Mar-197802-Feb-1980
6 Million Dollar Gran Mike Lacey224-Jun-197822-Jul-1978

Gran - The Whoopee Years

Thursday 7 October 2010

Tuesday 5 October 2010

The Other Cheeky Artists - Frank McDiarmid Pencils

In this post I'm going to look at the Cheeky's Week artwork that I have attributed to 'Frank McDiarmid pencils' (FMP).  To quote from my earlier post here -

'I originally thought [some of the artwork in question] was by Tom Paterson but I got no support when I postulated this theory on the Comics UK forum.  However, RobFilth on the forum suggested that these pages may be Frank's pencils inked by another artist, and Lew Stringer put forward the idea that possibly Frank had an assistant to help him out at times.

My inclination now is that the art assistant suggestion is the most likely answer, so I'm going to record the artist for these pages, and similar-looking pages in later issues, as 'Frank McDiarmid pencils', unless anyone knows otherwise. My analysis of all the Cheeky's Week artwork shows that the combined Frank McDiarmid and Frank McDiarmid pencils artwork amounts to two thirds of the total, which is what Frank estimated his contribution to be when he was interviewed for Crikey!

I'm not suggesting that all the artwork in my FMP category is inked by the same artist.  What the artwork has in common (in my opinion) is a similarity to the style we know to be pure Frank (pages he signed are the obvious template), yet the art also has an element of un-Frank-ness about it, particularly in the lettering of the various gags written around the panels which are clearly not Frank's writing.

FMP art first appeared in Cheeky Weekly issue 4, dated 12 November 1977.  FMP were responsible for 11 of that issue's Cheeky's Week elements, with Frank providing the post-Creepy Sleepy Tale Wednesday strip on his own.  The two-panel conclusion to Saturday, reminding readers to call the Fun Phone, consisted of a previously-published Frank McD panel originating from the back page of the first issue, and another panel which looks as though it's the result of a cut-and paste job.

The following week, FMP were responsible for 5 pages, and in the next issue they delivered a whole Cheeky's Week.

This brings us to the 03 December 1977 issue, in which FMP artwork appeared on 11 elements.  In the 10 December issue the FMP count was down to 5 elements, one of which was the What A Cheek cover feature.

In the comic dated 17 December, there were 8 FMP elements, and the 24 December, issue had Friday as the only FMP art.

I'm pleased to say that the Christmas issue dated 31 December 1977 featured an all-Frank Cheeky's Week.  No doubt the assistance given to Frank by his inker(s) and Dick Millington in the issues running up to this one was intended to allow him time to generate a whole week of Cheeky festive fun on his own, for which we must all give thanks.

The first comic of 1978, dated 07 January, featured FMP across the whole of Cheeky's Week, but FMP then skipped a week and returned with 3 pages on 21 January.

28 January saw 4 pages of FMP art, and there was then a break until 11 February's 4 FMP pages plus Wednesday conclusion, followed by the 18 February comic which featured FMP art on What A Cheek and the final two panels of the Saturday conclusion on page 30.

FMP were responsible for 9 elements the following week, 25 February, but didn't return until 11 March, when they delivered the Wednesday conclusion only. The 18 March issue featured provided 7 FMP elements.  2 pages by FMP appeared in the issue cover dated 25 March, and a total of 5 elements appeared in the 01 April 1978 issue.

The Wednesday conclusion was the only FMP art in the 08 April issue, but FMP returned with 4 pages in the 15 April issue, followed by a single FMP page on 22 April.  4 pages of FMP appeared in the 29 April comic, and a further week was skipped before FMP contributed 7 elements to the 13 May issue.

After a gap of 2 weeks, FMP were back with 8 elements in the 03 June issue.  After another 2 week break, FMP furnished us with 5 elements in the 24 June 1978 comic.

The following week saw a single FMP-produced element (What A Cheek again), but the 08 July issue contained 10 FMP elements.  15 July 1978 had only the Wednesday conclusion by FMP, and after skipping a week FMP were back to provide only the Wednesday conclusion again in the 29 July issue.

The element count was back in double figures as FMP generated 10 elements in the 12 August 1978 comic, but dropped to 8 on 02 September before increase to 10 elements again in the 23 September issue.

There then followed one FMP issue a month, as the 21 October issue featured 10 FMP elements, while 18 November saw another 10 FMP elements.

However, just as this pattern seemed to become established we encounter a month's gap, due in part to the non-publication of the comic for 3 weeks in December 1978 because of industrial action, with FMP not returning until the 06 January 1979 issue with a 9 FMP-element comic.

An even longer break then followed, with no more FMP art until the issue dated 14 April 1979, which featured 8 elements by FMP.

We then entered another period of 'one-a-month' FMP issues, with 4 elements in the 26 May comic, 8 in the issue dated 09 June, 4 on 21 July and 5 in the issue cover dated 18 August.

The pattern was broken when 3 FMP elements appeared in the 25 August comic. FMP supplied 2 pages in the 02 September 1978 issue, and the cover of the issue dated 15 September 1979.  The final comic to feature FMP art was issue number 98 dated 22 September 1979 which contained 3 FMP elements.

FMP's Cheeky's Week pages in Cheeky Weekly

Cover Date
12-Nov-19771What a Cheek
12-Nov-19774Sunday evening
19-Nov-19774Sunday evening
26-Nov-19771What a Cheek
26-Nov-19774Sunday evening
03-Dec-19774Sunday evening
10-Dec-19771What a Cheek
17-Dec-19771What a Cheek
17-Dec-19774Sunday evening
07-Jan-19782New Year's Eve
07-Jan-19785Sunday evening
28-Jan-19784Sunday evening
11-Feb-19784Sunday evening
18-Feb-19781What a Cheek
25-Feb-19781What a Cheek
25-Feb-19784Sunday evening
25-Mar-19781What a Cheek
01-Apr-197824Saturday - April Fool's Day
01-Apr-197825Saturday - April Fool's Day
22-Apr-19781What a Cheek
29-Apr-19784Sunday evening
03-Jun-19781What a Cheek
03-Jun-19784Sunday evening
01-Jul-19781What a Cheek
08-Jul-19784Sunday evening
12-Aug-19784Sunday evening
02-Sep-19784Sunday evening
23-Sep-19784Sunday evening
21-Oct-19781Cheeky's Week
18-Nov-19781Cheeky's Week
06-Jan-19791Cheeky's Week
14-Apr-197925Good Friday
14-Apr-197930Easter Saturday
14-Apr-197931Easter Saturday
15-Sep-19791Old Croc's Race

Friday 1 October 2010

Cheeky Weekly cover date 24 Dec 1977

The inspiration for this week's cover
Jogging Jeremy is the featured character on this week's cover, in a depiction which is based on a panel from the first issue of Cheeky Weekly. Snail is back after being absent from the front page last week. A Dick Millington Cheeky's Week completes the cover fun.

On page 3 Skateboard Squad foil a bank robbery and are promised a big reward, with which they plan to buy each other Christmas presents. A caption at the end of their story tells us we can see what they buy in next week's comic.

Gran is also in seasonal mood, and embarks on a Christmas shopping spree. In trying to help people she causes damage that has to be paid for out of her Christmas money but, in a storyline that seems remarkably familiar, she foils a robbery and is given a reward.

On Tuesday, Cheeky has a classic encounter with Walter Wurx, just before getting another mystifying call from the Telephone Pole Man.

There's further festive fun with Mustapha Million, but mercifully no robberies are either perpetrated or foiled in the course of the story.

Bubblegum Boy has now perfected the art of speaking with a mouth full of gum, and makes a comment on Friday, although why he doesn't shout for help remains a mystery.

Cover star Jogging Jeremy makes a brief appearance on Saturday, before falling through the slats of a drain.

On page 30, Cheeky invites us to spend Christmas with him and his pals (who are depicted in a selection of cut and pasted images) in next week's Christmas issue.

Rounding off this week's comic is the final part of the cut-out 1978 diary.

The majority of the Cheeky's Week artwork this week is handled by Dick Millington (9 full pages plus What A Cheek and the Wednesday conclusion). There's a single page of Frank McDiarmid pencils (Friday), and a single-panel conclusion to Saturday that is cobbled together from two previously published panels by Frank, from the 29 October 1977 and 03 December 1977 issues.

Let's hope that all this deputising and recycling has given Frank time to work on the Christmas issue.

There are 2 character debuts in Krazy Town this week. On Sunday, Baker's Boy chips in a joke while Cheeky is having a gag with mechanic, making this one of the rare occasions where the Baker's Boy doesn't lose a cake to our hero. Posh Claude's mum makes her first appearance on Wednesday, although her voice has previously been heard in the 26 November 1977 issue.

Daffy Duck makes his feature debut this week. I don't care much for these Warner Brothers filler strips.

Cheeky Weekly Cover Date: 24-Dec-1977, Issue 10 of 117
1Cover Feature 'Jogging Jeremy' - Art Frank McDiarmid pencils\What a Cheek - Art Dick Millington (single art on feature)
2Sunday - Art Dick Millington (first art on feature)
3Skateboard Squad - Art Jimmy Hansen
4Sunday evening - Art Dick Millington (first art on feature)
5James Bold 'Fangs of Fear' 10 of 11 - Art Lopez
6James Bold 'Fangs of Fear' 10 of 11 - Art Lopez
7Monday - Art Dick Millington (first art on feature)
86 Million Dollar Gran - Art Ian Knox
96 Million Dollar Gran - Art Ian Knox
106 Million Dollar Gran - Art Ian Knox
11What's New, Kids
12Tuesday - Art Dick Millington (first art on feature)
13Old Comic reprint from Tip Top 'Our Jean' reprint from Tip Top 'Artie'
14Tuesday - Art Dick Millington (first art on feature)\Doug's Doodle - Art Terry Bave (final art on feature)
15Wednesday - Art Dick Millington (first art on feature)
16Creepy Sleepy Tale - Art Keith Reynolds
17Creepy Sleepy Tale - Art Keith Reynolds\Wednesday (conclusion) - Art Dick Millington (single art on feature)
18Joke-Box Jury
19Thursday - Art Dick Millington (first art on feature)
20Home Movie 'Top Hat and Tails' - Art Jack Clayton
21Friday - Art Frank McDiarmid pencils
22Mustapha Million - Art Reg Parlett
23Mustapha Million - Art Reg Parlett
24Saturday - Art Dick Millington (first art on feature)
25Daffy Duck (first appearance) 'Daffy's Diner'
26Daffy Duck (first appearance) 'Daffy's Diner'
27Interval - Art Dick Millington (first art on feature)
28Space Family Robinson 'Black Menace' - Art John Richardson
29Space Family Robinson 'Black Menace' - Art John Richardson
30Saturday - Art Frank McDiarmid\Ad: IPC 'Cheeky Weekly: Next week, you're all invited to spend Christmas with me and my pals'
31Diary (final appearance) - Art Jim Petrie (final art on feature)
32Diary (final appearance) - Art Jim Petrie (final art on feature)