1986 was a significant, but sad, year for fans of the toothy funster, as it saw Cheeky's presence as a weekly comic character come to an end. The 08 February issue of Whizzer and Chips carried the final weekly instalment of The Krazy Gang, among whose members was our cheery chum. Thus concluded a creditable nine and a half year run in which the grinning gagster jested his way, for 7 years appearing in 2 titles simultaneously, through the pages of Krazy, Cheeky Weekly, Whoopee (all of which, by the time of the final Krazy Gang episode, had been cancelled), and Whizzer and Chips.
Despite no longer appearing as a weekly comic by 1986, Whoopee continued to have a presence in newsagents twice during the year - in April as a Holiday Special and, as Christmas approached, an Annual. The purpose of this series of posts is to discover whether any Cheeky-related material appeared in those biannual collections.
As of January 1986 Whizzer and Chips introduced a new strategy for publicising IPC product, with the launch of the 'Comic News' feature, the first appearance of which adopted a sort of 'advertorial' approach.
|The first Comics News,
Whizzer and Chips 04 January 1986
The advertorial style was dropped after the first appearance, and all subsequent Comics News instalments (one a month from February to June 1986) were very basic, consisting of tables carrying details of forthcoming publications. Below are all the Comics News which contained references to Specials. The summer 1986 demise of Comics News of course meant that none of its appearances contained details of Annuals, so also included below are all Whizzer and Chips' Annual ads to appear during 1986.
|Whizzer and Chips 05 April 1986
Whizzer and Chips dated 03 May 1986 presented a dilemma for comic fans with an interest in vintage aviation and also partial to a cinema visit - how many Holiday Specials (all on offer here priced at 65p) could they afford and still have enough cash to secure a ticket to see that year's would-be movie blockbuster, Biggles? The decision was complicated by the ABC cinema chain's recondite '£1 off' promotion, requiring the consideration of so many permutations of age of cinemagoers and times of attendance as to render the achievement of a conclusion highly problematic. However, reviews suggest any prospective cinema patrons would have been wise to forego the opportunity to experience Biggles on the big screen (the film would eventually appear on TV) and instead invest all their available cash in some Specials.
|Whizzer and Chips 03 May 1986
|Whizzer and Chips 31 May 1986
Quizmaster by Roy Mitchell,
reprinted from Whoopee! 01 January 1983
|Whizzer and Chips 13 September 1986
The presence of a 4-page Fleetway Annuals supplement boosted the page count of Whizzer and Chips dated 29 November 1986 to 36.
|Whizzer and Chips 29 November 1986
Unlike their 1986 Specials, IPC's Annuals came in a variety of price points, possibly intended 'to suit all pockets' provided one's trousers were sufficiently capacious to accommodate a minimum of £2.50.
|Whizzer and Chips 20 December 1986
Whoopee Holiday Special 1986
Sweeny Toddler is once again the cover star, and Mike Lacey is again the artist, depicting the pool pandemonium resulting from chute shark shenanigans.
Our quest for Cheeky-related material is rewarded just a few pages into this Special, as we encounter the toothy funster's former Cheeky Weekly colleague Mustapha Million, enjoying a tale typical of his misunderstanding-British-terminology storylines. Reprinted from Whoopee! and Cheeky dated 30 August 1980 (where it originally boasted red spot colour), this episode is drawn by Joe McCaffrey.
The weekly edition of Whizzer and Chips cover-dated 05 April 1986 (the publication date of this Special) saw Mustapha being drawn for the first time by Barry Glennard, taking over the artwork duties from Robert Nixon who drew the adventures of our munificent mate for 6 weeks when the run of Mustapha reprints which had commenced back in Whoopee and Wow! dated 07 April 1984, and continued when Whoopee was amalgamated into Whizzer and Chips, came to an end.
More Cheeky-related fun is to be found in Stage School, the showbiz-fixated kids who attend the titular educational establishment revisiting a story they originally performed in the 16 August 1980 edition of Whoopee! and Cheeky, coupled with the Paddywack (another Cheeky Weekly alumnus) gag which originally accompanied the same Stage School adventure. At the time of its original appearance, Paddywack gags were provided by the readers, and the offer of £1 to those who submitted jokes that were used in the comic, which appeared in the title panel, has been over-written and the credit to scriptwriter Matthew Scott of Bristol in the final panel has been obliterated.
At the time of publication of this Special, Stage School no longer had a weekly presence in Whizzer and Chips, their most recent appearance there (the second of only 2 W&C outings for the aspiring entertainers) having been in the 13 July 1985 issue. Paddywack wasn't among the characters chosen to make the transition into Whizzer and Chips so his most recent previous appearance was in the final issue of Whoopee, dated 30 March 1985.
The IPC staff member tasked with selecting previously-published material to bulk out this Special obviously scoured at least 3 issues of Whoopee! and Cheeky, as the 20 September 1980 issue is the source of the next Cheeky-related treat. The Calculator Kid story from that edition is resurrected in monochrome on the Special's page 29, but we'll enjoy its original colour outing below...
Despite clearly being a character popular with readers, cover star Sweeny Toddler appears in just one story in this Special, rendered by the sure hand of Mr McDiarmid. From the style of drawing, I'm guessing this is a reprint of material that originally appeared some time in the 1970s. Given the subject matter I'd be tempted to suggest that the original must have appeared in a Summer or Holiday Special, but in all of Stephen Archer's research into the source of reprints featured on this blog (and my own investigations in that regard), I don't recall anything other than the weekly issue of a comic as being the source of recycled material. In fact I've just checked and with Stephen's help I have recorded 516 comic elements as having originated in specific earlier issues, and all of those source issues are weeklies. If anyone can verify that the strip below is a reprint, please get in touch. I do know that a panel from this story was the basis of the cover of July 1987's edition of The Best of Whoopee Monthly, although the episode from which it was taken was not among the contents.
Whoopee Annual 1987
Whereas many would fill their pockets with the cash on offer, a highly-principled bus company employee refuses bundles of Bumpkin banknotes on this cover by the reliable Mike Lacey.
The first of the Cheeky-related Annual content is an appearance by the star-struck kids of Stage School, drawn on this occasion by Nigel Edwards, the first time the aspiring acts and exasperated educator have been rendered by this artist. Those of us who appreciate a stylishly-sported cravat will be disappointed that the kids' showbiz teacher is depicted with a bow tie instead of his usual rakish neckwear, and is rather more formally clad than we are used to. This may be due to the character's somewhat rare appearances in the weekly episodes, meaning he was possibly absent from the strip(s) to which Nigel referred when preparing to draw this set, and thus Nigel assumed that the mortar board and gown worn by Sir was the attire of all the teachers at the establishment in question. The title banner is the 20th Century Fox-inspired one which appeared on 4 occasions during Stage School's Whoopee run.
Page 90 is the location of an appearance by Gran, in her human Gran's Gang persona, This rather weak single-page story, which doesn't reflect the 'competition between the generations' nature of the Gran's Gang premise during its Whoopee run (in fact the panel showing Gran punching through the TV harks back to her earlier robotic incarnations), is drawn by an artist I can't identify.
Gran was not among the characters selected to transfer into Whizzer and Chips (she was never particularly popular in Whoopee so her selection for inclusion in this Annual is a little surprising), and her most recent appearance was in the final issue of Whoopee dated 30 March 1985.
Four pages later Mustapha Million commences a new escapade, involving his long-term chum with the inconsistent hair colour, Jimmy. This is the first time our pecunious pal has been drawn by Ian Knox, who was the regular artist on Gran's Gang. Maybe Ian declined to illustrate the Gran script above due to its poor quality.