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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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Major Characters from the Cheeky pages
Features Ordered by Date of Commencement

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Thursday 30 January 2020

The Whoopee Years - Calculator Kid

The Calculator Kid strip in the final issue of Cheeky Weekly was printed in colour, and the debut of Charlie and his battery-powered buddy within the Cheeky Section of the first combined issue of Whoopee! and Cheeky was a similarly multi-hued affair. In fact the majority of Calculator Kid’s Whoopee! strips were printed in colour until the issue dated 13 February 1982. This was because the feature usually appeared on page 24, one of the internal colour pages, during the period in question. Initially page 24 was the location of the Cheeky Section's 'back cover', but Calculator Kid remained in that location (barring a few exceptions) after the comic-within-a-comic idea was abandoned. Following the 21 February 1981 edition, CK relocated to page 32, the actual back cover, another location where colour was available.

In the pages of Cheeky Weekly, the strip had a title panel at the beginning of the first row of pictures, but as of its move into Whoopee!, a title banner was introduced, spanning the width of the page, although the introductory image of Charlie gazing lovingly at his digital companion was initially carried over from the previous title panel.

For the benefit of long-term Whoopee! Readers who may have been unfamiliar with the feature’s premise (and there was no reason why they should, because Charlie and his mathematical mate did not feature in the Cheeky Weekly mini comic that appeared in Whoopee dated 08 July 1978 - they had made their debut in Cheeky's comic only a week earlier - and during the 1979 Star Guest promotion Calculator Kid for some reason appeared twice in Whizzer and Chips but never in Whoopee!), in the first episode of his post-merge run Charlie delivered some expository dialogue in response to an encounter with a newcomer to ‘our area’ (i.e. Krazy Town, but Charlie doesn't mention that as it would be confusing for Whoopee! readers).

Following their relocation to Whoopee!, the format of the stories continued in the same vein as those in Cheeky Weekly, with Calc’s infallible advice often seeming inappropriate at the outset but resulting in a (usually) positive outcome for Charlie, the happy ending often concluding with Calc’s ‘as calculated’ catchphrase or a variation thereof based on a pun relating to the story (such as 05 June 1982’s script concerning Charlie’s mum’s unsuccessful cake baking, which ended with the family seated at a slap-up restaurant feed, in which Calc’s closing comment was ‘I cooked up a nice calculation there!’).

As of the 06 September 1980 episode, the title banner underwent a revamp and the accompanying picture of Charie and Calc was removed, allowing the strip’s title to be slightly enlarged, although it was still in the style of an LED display. The original Whoopee!-era banner with Charlie and Calc was reintroduced in the 27 February 1982 edition, but its replacement returned (although now the banner had a black background to emulate more closely a calculator display) in the comic dated 01 May 1982.

There was an embarrassing admission on the letters page in the comic dated 30 May 1981...

...The offending strip, containing an erroneous reference to the egregious C**p, had appeared in the issue dated 21 March 1981...

But when it was reprinted on the back cover of The Best of Whoopee, November 1986, the error was corrected...

Spin-off strip Calculator Corner commenced in Whoopee! dated 27 November 1982. Created by the ever-inventive Jack Oliver, this feature set readers various posers which required use of a calculator to solve. Often the answer would require some calculation to be performed before the mathematical instrument would be inverted, resulting in the upside-down numerals being read as text. Calculator Corner became a regular feature of the comic, sometimes sharing a page with a truncated Calculator Kid strip, but more often appearing independently of its progenitor. Calculator Corner made the final appearance of its Whoopee run a week before the comic's ultimate issue, the feature's 95 issue run a testament to the fertile mind of Mr Oliver.

The first Calculator Corner
Art: Jack Oliver

Later Corners were considerably more complex...

Readers enjoyed 2 Corners in the 01 December 1984 comic

The title Calculator Corner was never more apt than when the feature was reduced to the bottom left hand area of page 31 in the 23 July 1983 edition (a section even smaller than that allocated to each of the week’s stamp collecting ads!), when the clever keypad combo was submitted by Robin Cox, the only time the content was sourced from a reader. However, the title that week read Calaulator Corner...

Charlie and Calc were often host to Whoopee co-stars during Calculator Corner's run, and the 12 November 1983 issue saw an encounter with Mike from Calculator Kid’s inferior imitator, C**p (fortunately the tedious rival microchip itself was not involved).

Among their guests, Charlie and Calc welcomed their former Cheeky Weekly co-survivors , Mustapha Million (05 February and 23 April 1983), Cheeky (12 February 1983), Paddywack (30 July 1983), Charlie's magnificently-moustached dad (19 May 1984) and characters from Stage School (11 December 1982, 16 April 1983, 14 May 1983, 11 February 1984, 06 October 1984).

This was the only Corner from which Charlie was absent

It appears that the Whoopee editor was on something of a mission to tax the brains of readers, as a new puzzle feature was introduced in the issue dated 04 December 1982. Quizmaster, created by Roy Mitchell, was a half page collection of posers, introduced each week by a different character from the comic's roster of stars. Charlie and Calc were given the honour of hosting the inaugural outing.

In honour of the absorption of Wow! into Whoopee, Calculator Kid's title banner was given another overhaul in the first issue to combine the two titles, dated 02 July 1983 – the LED-aping text was slightly redesigned, and the two words were separated by an image of the titular silicon-chipped sage which was based on the smiling calculator pic that accompanied most Corners. The same issue saw the adoption of another kid-with-tech strip, KBR (Kids Band Radio), which had transferred in from Wow! The main character in this feature was a youngster with a citizens band (CB) radio. In the UK interest in CB had been building since the 1970s, but its use was legalised in 1981. The excitement surrounding the official launch of the technology prompted the creation of the KBR strip much in the same way that the interest in calculators resulted in the creation of Calculator Kid. However this gadget-based arriviste proved short-lived, and KBR signed off after just 19 Whoopee and Wow! appearances.

In the 12 November 1983 Calculator Kid story, following the instructions issued by his battery-powered buddy, Charlie inserts Calc into the cartridge slot of his video game console. The microchip-powered mathematical maestro then generates images of Charlie and Calc on the family TV set, attracting an audience of Charlie’s pals. At the end of the video sequence the game soundtrack announces ‘If you want more, we’re in Whoopee every week’, demonstrating that Calc is aware that they are characters in a comic.

The scripts were inconsistent in relation to the Counter household’s televisual habits. The 26 December 1981 story starts with a family disagreement over what they will watch on Christmas Day - Charlie favours the ‘spy film’, while Dad wants to see ‘the western’ and Mum’s looking forward to a musical - ITV’s James Bond film on December 25th that year was Dr No, a somewhat elderly choice from the 007 canon by that stage but it was a case of sacrificial scheduling since whatever ITV had shown in that time slot would have lost out in the ratings war to BBC's highly popular Larry Grayson’s Generation Game, followed by In Search of the Castaways on the main channel. BBC2 at the same time showed A Charlie Brown Christmas/Uproar in Heaven (Chinese animation), so the viewing dilemma outlined in the CK script didn’t entirely match reality. Following some judicious calculating, Mum, Dad and Charlie each get their own TV set on which to enjoy their programmes of choice. However the 08 May 1982 strip commences with Charlie fretting that he will miss the ‘spy thriller’ on TV that evening because it coincides with Mum and Dad’s favourite programme on another channel. Crafty Calc engineers diversions so that Charlie’s parents are occupied with other matters at transmission time, leaving young Master Counter to enjoy his espionage entertainment. What happened to the two spare TVs obtained mere months earlier? Did the family have to sell them to raise some cash?

The strip continued to appear in Whoopee up to and including the final issue dated 30 March 1985. Calculator Kid enjoyed a 259-episode Whoopee run, far exceeding its 78 appearances in Cheeky Weekly, and never lapsing into reprints. All the Calculator Kid Whoopee stories were by Terry Bave, whose appealing artwork and good-natured, reassuring scripts made it a highlight of the comic.

Following its cancellation Whoopee was merged into Whizzer and Chips, and Charlie and Calc were among the Whoopee survivors who transferred into IPC's mighty 'two comics in one', both in their own strip and Calculator Corner.

Wednesday 15 January 2020

Whizzer and Chips - The Cheeky Raids part 51

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

The first raid to involve Mustapha Million following the resumption of raids in Whizzer and Chips dated 12 August 1989 occurred in the 02 September 1989 edition. Unlike the earlier run of weekly reciprocal raids, this new raid regime initially saw just one incursion each issue (a weekly Whizz-kid infiltration of  Chips alternating with a Chip-ite invasion of Whizzer).

Can you locate the Whizz-kid intruder? The rotten raider's identity will be revealed below...

Whizzer and Chips 02 September 1989
Art: Frank McDiarmid

The significance of the
car registration eludes me

For the fourth time Mustapha is subject to a raid by Whizzer's pesky prankster, Joker.

Mustapha's strips had been made more contemporary since Frank McDiarmid took over the artwork duties. Mustapha's pals at this stage were modern, inner-city types wearing INXS jackets, replacing the school uniform or jumper and shorts-clad kids who were his chums back in Cheeky Weekly's heyday.

The graffiti reading 'Frank Bruno will fump Tyson' was a joke in a similar vein to the 'Your country needs you' poster, indicating that the dilapidated railway station was somewhat behind the times - Bruno had fought Tyson and lost, despite a courageous performance, in February 1989.

More raiding fun soon!

Whizzer and Chips Cover Date Raider Raided
06 April 1985Mustapha MillionSuper Steve
04 May 1985Bloggs (Store Wars)Mustapha Million
11 May 1985JokerThe Krazy Gang (Cheeky)
18 May 1985Calculator Kid & CalcOdd-Ball
01 June 1985
Mustapha Million
The Krazy Gang (Cheeky)
Boy Boss
08 June 1985Odd-BallCalculator Kid
06 July 1985Toy BoyCalculator Kid
13 July 1985Pa BumpkinThe Krazy Gang (Cheeky)
27 July 1985JokerMustapha Million
24 August 1985CheekySid's Snake
14 September 1985
Calculator Kid
Calculator Kid
Store Wars
05 October 1985Mustapha MillionAnimalad
19 October 1985Odd-BallMustapha Million
23 November 1985
Sweeny Toddler
Sweeny Toddler
Sweeny Toddler
Calculator Kid
The Krazy Gang (Cheeky)
Mustapha Million
18 January 1986Mustapha MillionSuper Steve
25 January 1986
Mustapha Million
08 February 1986
The Krazy Gang ends this issue
AnimaladMustapha Million
15 February 1986Lazy BonesCalculator Kid
15 March 1986Odd-BallCalculator Kid
29 March 1986Calculator KidMaster P Brain
05 April 1986Bumpkin BillionairesMustapha Million
12 April 1986AnimaladCalculator Kid
31 May 1986Lazy BonesCalculator Kid
07 June 1986Mustapha MillionJoker
28 June 1986Sweet ToothMustapha Million
26 July 1986
Calculator Kid ends this issue
No Cheeky-related raid this issueNo Cheeky-related raid this issue
16 August 1986Mustapha MillionJoker
23 August 1986Sweet ToothMustapha Million
18 October 1986Winnie the Royal NagMustapha Million
06 December 1986Toy BoyMustapha Million
13 December 1986Mustapha MillionOdd-Ball
17 January 1987SidMustapha Million
14 February 1987Odd-BallMustapha Million
11 April 1987Pa BumpkinMustapha Million
25 April 1987Mustapha MillionOdd-Ball
20 June 1987Toy BoyMustapha Million
27 June 1987Mustapha MillionMemory Banks
25 July 1987Lazy BonesMustapha Million
22 August 1987Winnie the Royal NagMustapha Million
12 September 1987Mustapha MillionSweet Tooth
19 September 1987Odd-BallMustapha Million
24 October 1987Odd-BallMustapha Million
12 December 1987JokerMustapha Million
13 February 1988Bloggs (Store Wars)Mustapha Million
20 February 1988Mustapha MillionJoker
12 March 1988Odd-BallMustapha Million
23 April 1988JokerMustapha Million
28 May 1988
Readers asked not to let their Whizz-kid or Chip-ite sympathies colour their favourite strip votes
No Cheeky-related raid this issueNo Cheeky-related raid this issue
11 June 1988SlippyMustapha Million
16 July 1988Toy BoyMustapha Million
30 July 1988 New raids halted

05 August 1989 (raid reprinted from 25 Aug 1984)CheekyStore Wars
12 August 1989 Resumption of new raidsNo Cheeky-related raid this issueNo Cheeky-related raid this issue
02 September 1989JokerMustapha Million

Thursday 9 January 2020

The Whoopee Years - Snail

Readers of Krazy first saw Cheeky’s slithering sidekick in issue number 6 of that comic, dated 20 November 1976. Snail appeared only intermittently at first, but after a few weeks the toothy funster was rarely seen without his shell-bearing companion (except for Cheeky’s appearances in the Krazy Gang strips where Snail was never on view, probably because he was wary of being eaten by the gang parrot, Blue).

Snail followed when Cheeky secured his own comic, eventually graduating to his own, one page a week feature, and when Cheeky Weekly folded the toothy funster's constant companion faithfully accompanied him into the pages of Whoopee!

The mirthful mollusc featured on the cover of the first combined Whoopee! and Cheeky, and continued to appear in our grinning pal’s strips for the duration of his Whoopee! (and Whoopee) career. However Snail also had his own features following the merge. The first of these was a weekly untitled single row of panels (two panels per gag except for the 03 May 1980 issue where the joke was delivered across 3 panels) which appeared below What a Cheek on the Cheeky Section front cover. This series began in the third combined issue of Whoopee! and Cheeky, and subsequently appeared every week (with the exception of 15 March 1980 when the Cheeky Section cover heralded the toothy funster’s new, movie-based series) until the Cheeky Section concept was dropped after the issue dated 04 October 1980.

The first untitled strip featuring Snail - 23 February 1980. Art: Frank McDiarmid

I had previously assigned the artwork credits for all these untitled Snail strips to Frank McDiarmid, but looking at them again, it seems to me that Frank only drew them up to and including the 22 March 1980 issue. I think subsequent strips may have been drawn by the person who rendered the ET Challenge results page, and various 'place a regular order' ads, who was presumably a staff artist.

29 March 1980 - not Frank?

The untitled Snail strips harked back to Snail of the Century in Cheeky Weekly; both featured wildlife witticisms as the gastropod gagster swapped jokes with various garden creatures (although unlike in SotC, Cheeky never appeared in the untitled Snail strip). I felt Snail wasn't really a strong enough character to front his former whole page strip in the toothy funster's comic, and that he was much better suited to the single-row-of-panels format. The first 21 untitled strips were printed in colour, but the remaining 6 episodes were printed in red ink (possibly the lack of a title had confused some readers and it may be that the crimson printing was introduced to clarify the boundary between the colour What a Cheek and Snail's gags).

The final issue to include a Cheeky Section was that dated 04 October 1980, and Snail's untitled vehicle ended in the same edition. A week later Cheeky's pages were revamped and the inimitable invertebrate's appearances were for almost a year confined to the initial run of the Cheeky feature. However, as of a further remodelling of Cheeky's contributions in the 12 September 1981 edition, the toothy funster's slimy stooge was once again allocated his own feature, this time entitled Cheeky's Snail (rather prosaic, but at least it was a title). Snail's new strip was located in the centre pages, sharing that prime location with a variety of other Cheeky-related offerings. Once again fauna funnies were to the fore as gags were traded with various scuttling, crawling and flying garden residents.

First appearance of the Cheeky's Snail strip
Art: Frank McDiarmid

All 17 Cheeky's Snail strips were drawn by Frank McDiarmid, and printed in black and white with red spot colour. Following the strip's final appearance in Whoopee! dated 02 January 1982, Snail was once again restricted to appearances alongside Cheeky in the toothy funster's features. Our grinning chum's inseparable sidekick accompanied him in his last Whoopee appearance in the final issue dated 30 March 1985. A week later Whoopee was merged into Whizzer and Chips, but Cheeky's solo strips didn't transfer into the newly combined comic. However our toothy pal had been appearing in Whizzer and Chips as a member of the Krazy Gang since Krazy had folded in 1978, and continued to appear in that role after the Whoopee merge, but I don't recall ever seeing Snail in the Krazy Gang's Whizzer and Chips run.