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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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

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Tuesday 29 January 2013

The features - Disaster Des

Art: Mike Lacey

In Cheeky Weekly's 30 September 1978 issue, readers were invited, by way of a caption atop the first appearance of a new feature, to 'Meet a lad who's a walking disaster area!' The ambulatory accident instigator in question was one Disaster Des.

Des was a seemingly innocent young lad, who enjoyed ambling around his home town (the ominously-named Doomsville), humming his trademark 'Doody Doom', or a variation thereof, as he went. Our hero (if one with Des' destructive influence can be described as such) seemed oblivious to the fact that he possessed a disaster-inducing power that spelled calamity for those in his vicinity. Panic would erupt among the rest of the populace whenever the juvenile jinx, helpfully wearing a jumper with a large D on the front, slouched into view. Seldom did Des acknowledge the misfortunes that occurred around him.

Des' first appearance: Art Mike Lacey

For the benefit of readers who may have been a bit slow to appreciate the premise of this new feature, the second strip commenced with a variation on the caption above the first episode, this time reading 'This lad makes things go wrong…without doing anything!'.

In Des' ninth outing, dated 02 December 1978, the desperate shopkeepers of Doomsville devised a plan to prevent further damage to their premises in the High Street - they clubbed together and raised the funds to send Des on a world cruise. Their plan suffered an inauspicious start as Des' presence on the cruise ship caused it to flatten the shops after being propelled inland on a tide of soap suds. At the commencement of the following week's strip, the patched-up cruise ship somehow made it across the Channel and thus began Des' world tour. During his globetrotting in this and the following 4 issues, Des' catastrophic influence rendered the Eiffel Tower into a pile of scrap metal, drained the Suez Canal, flooded the pyramids at Giza and toppled the Statue of Liberty.

The 03 February 1979 episode opened with Des, now back in the UK, heading home by bus. Meanwhile, the desperate citizens of Doomsville, frantic at the news that Des had returned, were attempting to seal off their town by using mechanical excavators to pile snow onto all approach roads. As Des alighted from the bus, which had been halted by one of the snowy mounds, the driver of a passing experimental snow plough, unaware of the townsfolk's plan, attempted to clear the way into town. Needless to say, the snow plough went out of control and demolished Doomsville High Street again.

Many of the stories showed concerned citizens trying to lure Des away from buildings or events in Doomsville, but in this episode from 07 July 1979 we see the people of Mudhole-On-Sea have a different plan.

Art: Mike Lacey

Des' strip in the 15 September 1979 comic opens with a Drainsylvanian visitor to Doomsville telling the Mayor that in his country they use doomwort, a smelly weed native to the swamps of Drainsylvania, to ward off disaster-bringers like Des. The Mayor despatches a team to the soggy source of the pongy vegetation, and they return with a 15-ton harvest of the reeking stuff. The Mayor orders that the town should be liberally covered in doomwort, and all are delighted when they see the approaching Des being repelled by the stink. However, concern mounts when a swarm of insects descends on Doomsville. The visitor informs the Mayor that the buzzing mass, now proceeding to chomp its way through town, consists of Giant Hairy Drainsylvanian Termites…

Art: Mike Lacey

Des was kidnapped by agents working on behalf of a foreign power intent on harnessing the juvenile jinx's destructive influence for nefarious ends in the 06 October 1979 tale. Of course the plan backfired as Des' presence on their military base resulted in the annihilation of the nation's stockpile of weapons. The only serviceable piece of equipment remaining was a helicopter, which barely lasted the journey as the agents desperately returned Des to Doomsville.

Art: Mike Lacey

All Cheeky Weekly episodes of Disaster Des were single-pagers. The mayhem-making moocher appeared on pages 6 and 7 of the final issue of Cheeky Weekly, but each page contained a separate story. Possibly there was a spare Des tale that the editor wanted to use before Cheeky Weekly bit the dust. It looks as though a new first panel has been added to the second story in place of the title frame. In the first DD tale of the final issue, Doomsville's Mayor, who was a recurring character during the strip's run, sought to protect his prize marrow from Des' influence (but of course failed), and in the second yet another of the Mayor's plans backfires, resulting in Des' arrival at the grand ball.

The final Des tale to appear in Cheeky Weekly
Art: Mike Lacey

The catastrophe-causing kid made his first appearance, as one of the strips in The Mystery Comic, in Cheeky Weekly dated 30 September 1978. His first 30 strips appeared within The Mystery Comic's pages (on 2 occasions - 13 January and 20 January 1979 - making it to TMC's cover), but when the comic-within-a-comic idea was dropped as of Cheeky Weekly dated 07 July 1979, Des continued to appear for a further 28 issues. All the Disaster Des strips in Cheeky Weekly were drawn by Mike Lacey, with the exception of the 13 October 1979 episode which was by Jimmy Hansen.

In addition to his 2 appearances on the cover of The Mystery Comic, Des featured in Cheeky Weekly's main cover pic on 25 November 1978. Des was seen in the Tub episode dated 19 May 1979 and he appeared as one of the guests at Pete and Pauline Potts' party in the 6 Million Dollar Gran strip in Cheeky Weekly dated 06 October 1979.

Mooching casually through Doomsville, the adolescent accident architect was the subject of the Pin-Up Pal poster by Mike Lacey in Cheeky Weekly dated 20 January 1979 (which can be seen on Bruce's blog). A Disaster Des spot the difference puzzle, showing two versions of a pic of Des strolling through a building site, was printed in the comic dated 17 March 1979 in place of a DD strip in that issue.

The quality of the Disaster Des scripts was well above average and the daft premise gave Mike Lacey lots of scope to pack the panels with comedic incident as calamity befell the long-suffering folk of Doomsville. Des was definitely one of the Cheeky Weekly highlights.

Our pariah pal made 5 extra appearances during Cheeky Weekly's run - a ghosted strip in the 1979 Cheeky Summer Special, two Star Guest outings (Whoopee! dated 21 April 1979 and Whizzer and Chips 09 June 1979) and 2 stories drawn by Mike Lacey in the 1980 Cheeky Annual.

Des suffered his own disaster when Cheeky Weekly came to an end, as he didn't survive the merge with Whoopee! However, he did return in the Cheeky Holiday Special of 1980 and the Cheeky Summer Specials of 1981 and 1982. All these appearances in the post-Cheeky-Weekly Specials featured ghosted artwork and the strips were rather weak. Des also appeared in the Cheeky Annuals dated 1981 (1 strip by Mike Lacey), 1982 (in 2 sets, one of which featured a cataclysmic meeting between Des and Bump-Bump Bernie drawn by Barrie Appleby, and the other drawn by Mike Lacey), 1983 (2 sets, both ghosted), 1984 (2 sets by Mr Lacey) and the final Cheeky Annual, dated 1985 (2 ghosted Des stories). Sadly, Des was past his prime in most of these annual appearances.

Bruce has more info on the Cheeky Specials and Annuals.

Disaster Des in the Cheeky Weekly Index

Feature First Appearance Final Appearance Total Issues Total Issues Missed In Run Page History
Disaster Des30-Sep-7802-Feb-8058106,7,11,12,13,14,16,17,18,19,20,21,26,27,28,29

Issues Missed In Run

Feature Artist Number of Issues First Appearance Final Appearance
Disaster Des Mystery ComicMike Lacey3030-Sep-197830-Jun-1979
Disaster Des Mike Lacey2707-Jul-197902-Feb-1980
Disaster Des Jimmy Hansen113-Oct-197913-Oct-1979

Sunday 20 January 2013

None but The Bave

Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed Terry's autobiography. Written in a warm, friendly style that won't surprise fans of his warm, friendly comic art, Terry recounts his life in cartoons, from his initial influences (Walt Disney's Snow White and Fantasia were early inspirations) to a detailed history of his
comic strips. There are plenty of examples of his work, ranging from Terry's first submission to a publication (The Daily Mirror, who rejected it!) in 1947, up to his strips for DC Thomson in the 2000s, plus birthday cards, posters and one-off gags. Several interesting examples of Terry 'ghosting' on strips he didn't usually draw are also featured.

Terry's wife Shiela's important role in the success of his cartoon work is apparent, and I was impressed to learn of the market research that the pair carried out when developing new strip ideas.

From a Cheeky perspective I was pleased to see that Calculator Kid isn't ignored. I did, however, notice a couple of errors in the publication dates given for Krazy and Cheeky Weekly.

Among the recollections in the book is the occasion on which Terry was surprised to read his own obituary!

Terry is frank about the contraction and eventual demise of IPC as the 20th century drew to an end. I particularly liked the title of the chapter covering Terry's move to DC Thomson as the IPC empire fragmented, 'Whizzer Has Its Chips and Winker Takes a Bow',

The 300-page book includes a comprehensive list of Terry's strips in weeklies, annuals and specials.

Highly recommended to the many fans of the mighty Mr Bave and anyone interested in the history of British comics, the book can be ordered here, and his blog lives here.

Thursday 17 January 2013

Whoopee welcomes Wow! (and loses its exclamation mark)

In February 1980 an ailing Cheeky Weekly, having notched up 117 issues, finally succumbed to the increasing burden of reprints and fillers, and was merged into IPC stablemate Whoopee! Inevitably, some of the strips which had featured in the toothy funster's comic were consigned to comics oblivion, but a select few managed, in a kind of comics version of survival of the fittest, to shoulder their way into the amalgamated titles.

Comic merges of this kind, where the most popular strips from a title whose circulation had fallen to unsustainable levels were shoehorned into a more successful comic, were a common occurrence in the early 1980s. Initially the cover of the amalgamated comic would carry the stronger comic's title above the name of the comic it had absorbed, but usually the secondary title would eventually be quietly dropped from the cover in readiness for any further merges that may ensue (assuming the comic was not itself absorbed into another title).

The final issue of Whoopee! to include a reference on the front cover to the Cheeky title was that dated 25 July 1981.

Veteran Whoopee! readers were therefore probably not surprised to learn at the end of June 1983 that their comic was about to consume another IPC funny paper, Wow!

All the Cheeky Weekly characters that survived
the merge into Whoopee! had continued to feature
in the combined comic, and all made the transition
into Whoopee and Wow!
However, in the move, some fared better than others.

Wow!'s publication history spanned issues dated 05 June 1982 to 25 June 1983, a life just half as long as that of Cheeky Weekly. This was probably a symptom of the increasingly harsh economic realities that confronted British comics as the 80s progressed; any under-performing titles were culled much more swiftly.

As mentioned earlier, when a merge occurred it was necessary for each title to drop their less popular strips in order to accommodate the best-performing features in the combined comic. Remarkably, however, all the strips that had transferred from Cheeky Weekly in its merge into Whoopee! also survived the absorption of Wow!

The first combined issue of Whoopee and Wow!, dated 02 July 1983, included the following strips that had originated in Cheeky Weekly;
  • Stage School (still a 2-page feature and now promoted to pages 2 and 3)
  • 6 Million Dollar Gran (now undergoing her second reboot in a strip titled Gran's Gang, but reduced from 2 pages to 1)
  • Paddywack (a single row, 3-panel strip)
  • Cheeky (ignominiously reduced to a single row on the Quick Strips page. Cheeky's strip had initially been 4 pages per week at the time of the merge with Whoopee! but had slowly been reduced until it was one page a week just prior to the merge with Wow!)
  • Mustapha Million (still a 2-pager but demoted from pages 2 and 3 to 28 and 29)
  • Calculator Kid (remaining a single pager)
Calculator Kid's spin-off strip, Calculator Corner, which had appeared after Cheeky Weekly merged into Whoopee!, also continued after the Wow! merge.

Representatives of all the ex-Cheeky Weekly strips could be found on the cover of the first combined Whoopee and Wow!, heading from the Whoopee Office towards a somewhat meagre celebratory feast considering the number of guests. Cheeky's peripheral position on the cover accurately reflected the reduced circumstances in which he now found himself.

Joining the combined comic from Wow! was Frank McDiarmid's 2-pages-per-week Boy Boss.

Evidently IPC felt an abundance of exclamation marks on its comic covers was something to be avoided, so Whoopee! lost the ! it had sported since its inception.

Monday 14 January 2013

Cheeky Weekly cover date 03 February 1979 - The Big Issue

The first thing to strike regular Cheeky Weekly readers about this issue is its size. Not in terms of the number of pages, which is the usual 32, but the size of each page is bigger than normal. The size of the printed area remains the same, meaning there's a larger than usual border at the bottom of each page. The small print at the foot of page 28 reveals that this edition has issued from the presses of regular printer Southernprint Ltd. Maybe they had a paper crisis. Whizzer and Chips is also a larger-pages-than-normal issue this week.

The 'standard Cheeky face' makes a front page appearance for the fourth time (see also issues dated 25 March 197817 June 1978 and 08 July 1978) as the main cover pic directs readers to the Chit-Chat letters page where readers lucky enough to see their missives to the toothy funster in print can expect cash prizes and Cheeky badges.

Meanwhile in the Cheeky's Week…Sunday cover strip the toothy funster shares photographic fun with Flash Harry (the Frank McDiarmid version) and manhole mirth with his subterranean stooge.

Sometime between Cheeky's appearance in the cover strip and his return on page 2's continuation of Sunday, it seems a sudden cold snap has descended on Krazy Town (as it had in the 20 January 1979 comic). This time the temperature is so low that the comic frames are freezing up, and  the toothy funster is now sporting a scarf to match his trademark jumper.

Art: Frank McDiarmid

6 Million Dollar Gran suspects the Potts kids are about to buy her a birthday present in her story this week. Do robots have birthdays?

This week's Calculator Kid story is unusual as there is tension between Charlie and Calc early on. Charlie should maybe have reined in his criticism of his electronic pal, as Calc tastes revenge at the end of the tale, while Charlie has to contend with something distinctly less palatable.

Art: Terry Bave
Note Cheeky's graffiti under the handbasin.
Sadly, after 30+ years, the ink from
Steve Bell's maze on page 8 is soaking through,
detracting somewhat from Terry's artwork.

The last in the run of three mazes drawn by Steve Bell's appears on page 8. This week readers have to determine which of four trains is on the track that will lead it to the station. Steve includes a character called The Bulk, who bears a strong resemblance to a green-skinned comic superstar with anger management issues.

Art: Frank McDiarmid

The final 16 cards (featuring 4 each of Lily Pop, Granny Gumdrop, Do-Good Dora and Louise) for the Friends of Cheeky Snap Game are printed in colour on the centre pages of The Mystery Comic. Instructions (it's just a straightforward Snap game) are printed on page 24, beneath Joke-Box Jury. Bumped from The Mystery Comic this week due to the intrusion of the game is Elephant On The Run.

Despite the frosty frolics witnessed in the early part of Cheeky's Week, Tub and Disaster Des are the only characters to have snow-related adventures in this week's Mystery Comic.

Turning to page 22 and the resumption of Cheeky Weekly, we find that Mike Lacey has taken over the artwork duties from Frank McDiarmid who had drawn all the Cheeky's Week elements before the Mystery Comic section. Mike also draws The Burpo Special, in which the belligerent baby interviews Bump-Bump Bernie.

This issue is the first in which Posh Claude's Dad appears
Art: Mike Lacey

Tub, sitting on a seesaw and using his bulk to launch a slap-up feed from the opposite end into his gaping gob, is the subject of the back cover's Pin-Up Pal poster drawn by his usual artist, Nigel Edwards.

The Cheeky's Week artwork duties in this issue are shared by Frank McDiarmid and, as mentioned above, Mike Lacey, each of whom provide 5 elements depicting the toothy funster's daily doings (plus the Burpo Special which, after much deliberation in the early days of this blog, I decided to include as a Cheeky's Week feature). Mike also supplies his usual strip Disaster Des. The snowy spell which Frank establishes in Cheeky's Week as of page 2 evidently comes to an end on Wednesday night, since from the point at which Mike Lacey takes up the pencils, no snow is to be seen and Cheeky's scarf is no longer present. We will learn in the 19 January 1980 edition that Frank McDiarmid enjoys illustrating snowy scenes.

This is the first time the Cheeky's Week elements have been supplied by more than one artist (or single pencil/inker collaboration) in a single issue since the 23 September 1978 comic (with the exception of the 06 January 1979 'standby' issue). It seems that the policy of having no more than one artist on Cheeky's Week per issue, which has been evident as of 30 September 1978's revamp number is beginning to break down.

Cheeky Weekly Cover Date: 03-Feb-1979, Issue 65 of 117
1Cover Feature 'Win £2 plus Cheeky Badge' - Art Frank McDiarmid\Cheeky's Week - Art Frank McDiarmid
2Sunday - Art Frank McDiarmid
36 Million Dollar Gran - Art Ian Knox
46 Million Dollar Gran - Art Ian Knox
56 Million Dollar Gran - Art Ian Knox
6Monday - Art Frank McDiarmid
7Calculator Kid - Art Terry Bave
8Train Track Maze (single appearance) - Art Steve Bell (single art on feature)
9Tuesday - Art Frank McDiarmid
10Paddywack - Art Jack Clayton
11Silly Snaps
12Wednesday - Art Frank McDiarmid
13Tub 'Mystery Comic' 14 of 34 - Art Nigel Edwards
14Why, Dad, Why? 'Mystery Comic' 11 of 28 - Art John K. Geering
15Mystery Boy reprint from Whizzer and Chips 'Mystery Comic' 16 of 37 - Art John Richardson
16Friends of Cheeky Snap Game (final appearance)
17Friends of Cheeky Snap Game (final appearance)
18Mustapha Million 'Mystery Comic' 15 of 34 - Art Joe McCaffrey
19Mustapha Million 'Mystery Comic' 15 of 34 - Art Joe McCaffrey
20Disaster Des 'Mystery Comic' 15 of 30 - Art Mike Lacey
21Silly Snaps
22Thursday - Art Mike Lacey
23Skateboard Squad - Art Jimmy Hansen
24Joke-Box Jury
25Friday - Art Mike Lacey
26Eagle Eye reprint from Shiver and Shake
27Eagle Eye reprint from Shiver and Shake
29The Burpo Special 'Bump-Bump Bernie' - Art Mike Lacey
30Saturday - Art Mike Lacey
31Saturday - Art Mike Lacey
32Pin-up pal 'Tub' - Art Nigel Edwards (single art on feature)

Cheeky's Week Artists Cover Date 03-Feb-1979

Artist Elements
Frank McDiarmid5
Mike Lacey5

Friday 11 January 2013

Terry Bave's new book!

Head over to Wacky Comics for some exciting news about Terry Bave, one of the all-time comic greats (not to mention contributor to Cheeky Weekly). I've put my order in!

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Cheeky Little Ed

I'm currently re-reading my way through the issues of Whoopee!, commencing from the point at which Cheeky Weekly merged into it. For me, one of the most enjoyable strips of Whoopee!'s post-Cheeky-merge era is Little Ed, drawn by David Mostyn. Including the artist as one of the characters in the strip is an idea that had of course been seen several times before in a number of comics, but this is a fun take on the concept, with a nicely antagonistic relationship between Ed and 'Starvin' Artist'.

The Little Ed strip from Whoopee! dated 16 April 1983 includes a cute idea - Artist gets rather heavy-handed with the ink rubber and wears a hole in the page, allowing readers a glimpse of the contents of the next-page-but-one, the Cheeky strip.

Note Artist's frayed cuff - nice touch!

Art: Frank McDiarmid
It would have been nice if the Cheeky strip had made some reference to Artist's exposure of their page, but the Bookworm strip which appeared on the reverse of Little Ed's page showed no evidence of the hole, either.

See here for a previous post about Little Ed.