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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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Saturday 22 October 2022

The Soggy Saga Recycled

My thanks are due once again to Stephen Archer who has once more been occupied with matters related to reprints featuring in the Cheeky titles. The subject of his latest investigation is likeable leviathan Soggy the Sea Monster who, having splashed around the pages of Shiver and Shake in 1973 followed by a single 1974 appearance, submerged into the murky depths of comic history before being dredged up in 1978 up to serve as filler in various Cheeky publications, including some of the Cheeky Annuals and Specials as well as Cheeky Weekly. Details of Stephen's research into Soggy's revivification can be seen in the table below.

The introductory episode of Soggy's original run (or swim - I know, I've done that 'joke' before... more than once) wasn't among those to be selected for reprinting in any Cheeky title, but this shouldn't be too much of a surprise to us by now, as publisher IPC's apparent aversion to using the debut episode when launching various of their repeat runs has emerged from Stephen's earlier researches into the revivals of Ringer Dinger, The Cave Kids and Why, Dad, Why? (although The Gang did admittedly buck this trend).

 

Soggy's debut,
not seen by Cheeky readers
Art: Robert Nixon,
as is all the artwork in this post

 

Rather than a stranded seafarer being the means by which Cheeky readers made the acquaintance of our aquatic chum (maybe the editor felt that Soggy came over as somewhat irascible in the above tale), fans of the toothy funster first encountered the deep-sea denizen within the Cheeky Summer Special of 1978, in what was the Soggster's more environmentally-conscious original 5th outing from Shiver and Shake dated 07 April 1973. The strip was for some reason divested of its rather splendid title banner for this reprinting.


The first Soggy episode
presented to Cheeky fans

Of the 42 episodes constituting Soggy's original watery series (41 appearances in Shiver and Shake plus his Star Guest promotional foray into Whizzer and Chips), 35 were reprinted in the various Cheeky titles. All Soggy's original adventures were concluded in single pages, but 5 were expanded to occupy 2 pages each when being prepared for reprinting in the Cheeky Annuals cover-dated 1981 (4 extruded episodes) and 1982 (a single elongated escapade among the 3 Soggy episodes included).

The Star Guest appearance (a later implementation of this promotional device occurred during the Cheeky Weekly era), originally from Whizzer and Chips dated 28 July 1973, was re-used in the Cheeky Annual carrying cover year 1983. However, whereas reprinted material was often resized to better fit a differently-proportioned page, this reprint was in fact presented as originally drawn, and it was the strip's debut that was altered. Was the Soggy artwork used for Star Guest repurposed after being prepared with the intention of printing it in Shiver and Shake, and Whizzer and Chips possibly had a different page height:width ratio, thus necessitating the adjusted visuals for its appearance in that title? My knowledge of Shiver and Shake is sadly lacking, so unfortunately I can't answer. Below is the strip as it appeared, with colour applied, in Cheeky Annual 1983. You can compare this page with Soggy's resized Star Guest episode on Irmantas' blog.

Robert Nixon

The Soggy episode in Shiver and Shake dated 29 December 1973 seems to me to have something of an air of finality about it, with the conclusion seeing the amiable hero apparently settling in for a lengthy sojourn with his new avian adoptees...


There was, however, a curious coda to Soggy's Shiver and Shake series. Originally a 36-page weekly, it would seem that financial strictures dictated a reduction in page count with effect from the 05 January 1974 edition, as from that date each issue of Shiver and Shake was limited to 32 pages. Soggy's strip was among those jettisoned as a result of the contraction. UPDATE - See Stephen Archer's interesting theory in the comment section below regarding the loss of Shiver and Shake page count.

However, the loss of available pages was evidently not the only difficulty with which the editor was contending around this time...

Shiver and Shake 19 January 1974 - Eagle Eye was of course reprinted in Cheeky Weekly

Readers were again deprived of their Eagle Eye episode, once more due to tardy delivery of the artwork, in the edition dated 16 February 1974. Soggy was recalled to service to help plug the gap in that week's Shiver and Shake caused by the postally-detained young sleuth. The Soggy strip in question, which saw our behemoth buddy on a visit to Loch Ness, was drawn by Terry Bave rather than regular artist Robert Nixon, so it may be that Terry, who had earlier drawn a single Soggy escapade dated 29 September 1973, stepped in at short notice to furnish an emergency, void-filling Scottish adventure. As Stephen notes, this final Shiver and Shake Soggy outing was the one which commenced the feature's reprint run in Cheeky Weekly.

Soggy's reprint run in the Cheeky titles came to an end in the Cheeky Annual cover-dated 1983, which left 7 Soggy episodes from the original run that were never recycled, at least as far as Cheeky was concerned (the remaining unused stories may may have been reprinted elsewhere). It certainly wasn't the case that the Cheeky editor had no further need for revived material, as reprints continued to be a major feature in the remaining Cheeky Annuals dated 1984 and 1985.

So why were those 7 episodes rejected? I've already speculated that Soggy's original debut episode was skipped for reprinting because it portrayed our monster mate in a less than likeable manner, but let's consider the other 6.

14 April 1973

The first Soggy reprints of the Cheeky era appeared in the Cheeky Summer Special of 1978, which included reprinted Soggy adventures originally featuring in Shiver and Shakes dated 07, 21 and 28 April 1973. So why was the 14 April 1973 episode, relating the genial giant's encounter with an aircraft carrier, omitted from the 1978 Cheeky Special? I can't identify a reason. BUT...Soggy reprints continued to appear in the Cheeky titles until the Cheeky Annual dated 1983, published in the Autumn of 1982 and prepared some months earlier. The outbreak of the Falklands conflict in 1982, the despatch of the Royal Navy task force in April and subsequent naval action could have led to accusations of insensitivity had this tale been published at the time. It could be the case that following publication of the Cheeky Annual 1983 the Cheeky editor decided to avoid any further sea stories in view of events in the South Atlantic and their aftermath. However this seems unlikely since the 1984 Annual did include;

The Cabin Boy Cheeky sequence, but maybe it was felt that being set in the time of sailing ships detached the strip from modern warfare associations

 A Meanie McGenie reprint concerning a becalmed dinghy

 A Calculator Kid story featuring scenes on beaches

A Present-Day Cheeky scene showing Uncle Hamish in a rowing boat on the sea

...and a Mustapha Million reprint in the Cheeky Annual 1985 shows our middle eastern mate at the helm of a miniature war ship.

Nonetheless, even if I was right about the editor becoming reluctant to use sea stories, these considerations would only have become an issue from April 1982 onward, and wouldn't explain why these particular escapades hadn't previously been reprinted, so let's continue...

16 June 1973

 

Soggy is angered again in this strip, on this occasion due to an anchor being dropped on his noggin. The ship from which the ironwork descended was transporting some painters, engaged by a lighthouse keeper to spruce up his illuminating abode. The decorators having been scared away by Soggy's fearsome countenance, our apologetic underwater pal sets to work doing the paint job himself. Can't see a reason for this strip not being reprinted.


07 July 1973


There are more lighthouse larks in this episode, as Soggy's underwater wanderings carry him to the Indian Ocean to meet his pal for a curry. Unfortunately, en route to his piquant nosh-up, our hero gets a length of his rear anatomy trapped in a giant clam. The resolution to this tail-trapping dilemma is not entirely happy as, although the chef's generous application of spicy seasoning causes the clam to sneeze and eject Soggy's posterior portion, the bubbling pan of vindaloo is also propelled into the briny. However, no reason why this couldn't have been reprinted.

11 August 1973

 

Another painful ordeal for our oceangoing pal, as he's beset by a trio of swordfish intent on stabbing our hero. At the end of the story Soggy propels his sharp-nosed tormentors through the doors of a harbour-side hostelry, where they end up lodged in the dart board. I find the scenes of a skewered Soggy rather disturbing, and maybe the Cheeky editor was similarly squeamish about this tale.

15 December 1973


 

This tale brings together elements we've seen in previous Soggy episodes. Another desert island dilemma, with a further instance of anchor-in-contact-with-nut in this tale, but rather than the victim being the title character, this time it's Soggy who causes the maritime restraint to collide with the stranded seafarer. In freeing the anchor from the tree, the silly sea serpent catapults the ship-tethering apparatus across the waves and sinks a passing vessel, before sheepishly leaving the scene as the crew of the stricken ship join the original sailor on the small island. Although it doesn't portray the titular titan in the best of lights, there's no reason why this episode couldn't have been reprinted.

29 December 1973

This is the episode which brought the original main run of the Soggy saga to a conclusion, shown in full above. Given the date of the issue in which it appeared, one might have expected a Christmas or new year tale, which would certainly have ruled out its use as a reprint in a Cheeky Summer Special. However, despite my speculation above that this story was intended to draw the original Soggy series to a close, there is no apparent reason for not reprinting it.

Stephen's research has revealed that it wasn't just Soggy whose Cheeky reprints ceased before exhausting all available episodes - The Gang, The Cave Kids, Ringer Dinger and Why, Dad, Why? (which wasn't actually a direct reprint, rather re-drawn scripts) were all similarly curtailed.

Thanks once again to Stephen Archer for identifying all the original Soggy episodes and matching those that were reprinted with their recycled counterparts.

Cover Date Originally in Original Feature Art Original Elements Reprinted in Reprint Date Reprint Feature Reprint Elements
10-Mar-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1



17-Mar-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Annual 1979 01-Sep-1978 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
24-Mar-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Annual 1979 01-Sep-1978 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
31-Mar-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Annual 1979 01-Sep-1978 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
07-Apr-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Summer Special 01-Jul-1978 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
14-Apr-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1



21-Apr-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Summer Special 01-Jul-1978 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
28-Apr-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Summer Special 01-Jul-1978 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
05-May-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Weekly 12-Jan-1980 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
19-May-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Weekly 01-Dec-1979 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
26-May-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Summer Special 01-Jul-1982 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
02-Jun-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Weekly 02-Feb-1980 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
09-Jun-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Summer Special 01-Jun-1979 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
16-Jun-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1



23-Jun-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Holiday Special 01-Apr-1980 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
30-Jun-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Annual 1981 01-Sep-1980 Soggy the Sea Monster 2
07-Jul-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1



14-Jul-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Holiday Special 01-Apr-1980 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
21-Jul-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Weekly 05-Jan-1980 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
28-Jul-1973 Whizzer and Chips Star Guest Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Annual 1983 01-Aug-1982 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
28-Jul-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Weekly 15-Dec-1979 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
04-Aug-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Annual 1981 01-Sep-1980 Soggy the Sea Monster 2
11-Aug-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1



18-Aug-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Weekly 24-Nov-1979 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
25-Aug-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Annual 1981 01-Sep-1980 Soggy the Sea Monster 2
01-Sep-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Weekly 19-Jan-1980 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
08-Sep-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Annual 1982 01-Aug-1981 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
15-Sep-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Paul Ailey 1 Cheeky Annual 1982 01-Aug-1981 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
29-Sep-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Terry Bave 1 Cheeky Annual 1982 01-Aug-1981 Soggy the Sea Monster 2
13-Oct-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Holiday Special 01-Apr-1980 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
20-Oct-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Annual 1983 01-Aug-1982 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
27-Oct-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Weekly 22-Dec-1979 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
03-Nov-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Summer Special 01-Jun-1979 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
10-Nov-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Weekly 26-Jan-1980 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
17-Nov-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Holiday Special 01-Apr-1980 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
24-Nov-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Holiday Special 01-Apr-1980 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
01-Dec-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Weekly 29-Dec-1979 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
08-Dec-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Weekly 08-Dec-1979 Soggy the Sea Monster 1
15-Dec-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1



22-Dec-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1 Cheeky Annual 1981 01-Sep-1980 Soggy the Sea Monster 2
29-Dec-1973 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Robert Nixon 1



16-Feb-1974 Shiver and Shake Soggy the Sea Monster Terry Bave 1 Cheeky Weekly 17-Nov-1979 Soggy the Sea Monster 1