There was no 'Great News Inside, Pals!' announcement on the cover of Whizzer and Chips dated 29 August 1987, although the following issue would see a change as momentous as any of the numerous merges that the comic underwent in its illustrious history. Only the most observant of Whizz-kids and keenest-eyed Chip-ites would have noted that the publisher of their favourite 2-comics-in-one had ceased to be IPC Magazines and as of the 05 September 1987 issue was now Fleetway Publications.
|29 August 1987
|05 September 1987
This change was due to the sale of IPC's comics division (hived off under the Fleetway name) to Robert Maxwell's Pergamon Holdings. The purpose of this series of posts is to discover what, if any, Cheeky-related material appeared in the Whoopee Specials and Annuals published following the toothy funster's own comic's absorption into Whoopee in early 1980. However, presumably as the result of a review of the state of the company following its acquisition by Pergamon, production of Whoopee Annuals was halted in the years 1987 to 1990 inclusive, (the tradition of forward-dating each Annual's cover date by 1 year from its publication means that the missing Annuals would have carried cover years from 1988 to 1991 inclusive). A final Whoopee Annual appeared during 1991 (dated 1992). Despite this curtailment of Annuals, Whoopee Holiday Specials continued to occupy newsagents' shelves each spring.
A half-page advert solely devoted to the 1987 Whoopee Special (with Mustapha getting top billing) appeared twice in Whizzer and Chips during 1987 (the 04 and 11 April editions), and a full-page ad in which perennial prankster Joker preyed upon his Whizzer and Chips colleagues (including Mustapha Million) although the ad refers by means of a selection of beach-based puns to several other Special titles, appeared in the 11 July and 01 August issues of that year.
|Art: Sid Burgon
Just a note to any readers who might be joining this blog for the first time and wondering why I'm mentioning Whizzer and Chips when the subject of this series of posts is Whoopee Specials and Annuals, well that's because the weekly version of Whoopee was cancelled and 'merged' into Whizzer and Chips in 1985. By 1987 the sole weekly survivor of Cheeky Weekly was Mustapha Million, who continued to appear in Whizzer and Chips.
Whoopee Holiday Special 1987
The cover of this Special, which hit the streets before the takeover so was published by IPC, is somewhat similar to last year's, featuring as it does a swimming pool and chute. However, 1986's front page pool protagonist, Sweeny Toddler, was terrorising swimmers, whereas this year the other recurring cover stars, the munificent Bumpkins, are delighting those taking a dip, although in the interests of buoyancy I'd advise the bathers to avoid stowing too much cash in their swimming cozzies. Mike Lacey is again the creator of the cover scene.
Cheeky-related fun kicks off (as does the bully who is the focus of the episode) on page 2 as Mustapha Million is involved in a seasonal seaside caper drawn by Barry Glennard, who has been the main weekly artist on the character since Whizzer and Chips dated 05 April 1986. Pleasingly this isn't a reprint.
A 2-page Robot Granny adventure commences on page 10, reprinted from Whoopee! dated 23 January 1982. The titular synthetic senior citizen failed to survive the collapse of Whoopee, where she had undergone a couple of revisions to finish up as a human. However, since her weekly demise, Gran's most recent appearance prior to this one was in the Whoopee Annual cover-dated 1987, where she enjoyed an outing as her human self in a Gran's Gang episode.
Our moneyed mate Mustapha returns on page 12, where he's involved, along with fellow ex-Cheeky Weekly star Charlie Counter aka Calculator Kid, in a series of fiendish, grey-matter-taxing challenges created by the master of comic conundrums, Jack Oliver. We'll wait while you attempt to answer them all. NO TURNING THE PAGE UPSIDE DOWN TO READ THE ANSWERS UNTIL YOU'VE FINISHED.
Charlie and his prognosticating pal were also survivors of Cheeky Weekly's demise, transferring to Whoopee and thence to Whizzer and Chips. However the feature lapsed into reprints of Cheeky Weekly strips as from Whizzer and Chips dated 29 June 1985, and the reprints continued up to and including CK's final Whizzer and Chips appearance in the edition dated 26 July 1986. I'm a bit worried that Calc will end up cemented into the wall.
A Calculator Kid adventure that has previously been seen on the back cover of Whoopee! dated 23 January 1982 occupies page 14, reprinted in monochrome but let's examine its original colour version. For its reprinting, the space originally occupied by the small print at the foot of the page has been filled instead with a gag related to the preceding adventure, 'Where do Generals keep their armies?' The punchline to this hoary old joke has actually been botched, as it is given as 'Up their sleeves' whereas we all know that it should read 'Up their sleevies'.
|Art: Terry Bave
This is proving to be something of a bumper collection of features with a link to Cheeky, as on page 22 we encounter our old Cheeky Weekly pal, Paddywack. The braces-wearing buffoon was among the characters to transfer to Whoopee following the cancellation of the toothy funster's comic, continuing there until Whoopee itself was terminated. This particular full-page escapade is, like the Gran and CK episodes above, a reprint from Whoopee! dated 23 January 1982. Prior to this reprinted outing, Paddywack's most recent appearance was a reprint from Whoopee! and Cheeky in the Whoopee Holiday Special of 1986.
|Art: Jack Clayton
2 pages further on in this Special sees more ex-Cheeky Weekly funny folk, this time the kids and teacher of Stage School, in a fruity fable originally presented in Whoopee! dated (no, not 23 January 1982 again) 09 January 1982. The aspiring showbiz stars survived the wreck of Cheeky Weekly to continue entertaining readers of Whoopee until that title too succumbed to the harsh economics of the 1980s. The teeny troupe made 2 further appearances in Whizzer and Chips during 1985, after which their most recent appearances were in the Whoopee Holiday Special of 1986 (in a reprint from Whoopee! and Cheeky), and the Whoopee Annual cover-dated 1987 (a new 3-page episode).
|Art: Robert Nixon
Charlie and Calc, Stage School's Sir, Gran, Mustapha and Paddywack are among the Whoopee stars depicted in a centre pages sunny seaside scene drawn by Sid Burgon. Frankie Stein appropriates the 'mixing cement with sand' gag employed earlier by Mustapha.
Two of Whoopee's financially-focused features combine on page 34 to present the Whoopee Money Quiz. The ever-generous Mustapha Million, looking somewhat dazed a as he sets out on his global tour, joins the equally bountiful Pa Bumpkin (whose motivation for dispensing large amounts of moolah is his aversion to wealth, whereas our middle-eastern chum's generosity is a result of his altruism) in presiding over a selection of cash conundrums. This page is followed by a half page feature entitled Money Matters in which the third of Whoopee's triumvirate of cash-driven characters, and most definitely the least bountiful, the avaricious Lolly Pop, sets readers questions in order to determine their attitudes to wealth.
Charlie (this time minus Calc - I bet he's stuck in the brickwork) and Mustapha return on another of Jack Oliver's Wit-Teasers pages.
Our review of this Special has now arrived at page 44, whereon we find the first page of another Robot Granny 2-page episode, this one sourced from Whoopee! dated 30 January 1982 (i.e. a week later than the edition in which the earlier Robot Granny strip originated).
|Art: Ian Knox
Mustapha Million enjoys a colour escapade on pages 48 and 49, and like the earlier strip featuring our beneficent buddy, this is new material drawn by Barry Glennard. A number of 'star guest' cameos are in evidence during this soccertastic adventure, some of whom are identified in the script. Unnamed characters occupying the second panel of the second page of the story are Timothy Dalton, (who assumed the role of suave screen superspy 007 in summer 1987's Bondbuster The Living Daylights which premiered after publication of this Special, but Dalton's adoption of the Bond mantle had received considerable publicity prior to the film's opening), a generic Shakespeare-style thespian, and TV weatherman Ian McCaskill.
A few pages later our affable Arab pal is swindled by a conman who 'sells' Tower Bridge to the wealthy and too trusting youngster in a 2 -page story which originally graced Whoopee! dated 09 January 1982. The pencil 'tache-sporting fraudster is of course brought to justice by the end of the tale.
|Art: Joe McCaffrey
Immediately following Mustapha is a Paddywack page in which the welly-wearing wally's TV viewing is interrupted by visits from two unlikely visitors. Long-time Whoopee fans may remember this strip from the 30 January 1982 edition.
|Art: Jack Clayton
The penultimate page of this Special sees the final outing of a Cheeky-related feature, as Charlie's desire for a new kite (echoing the kite theme in the above Granny instalment) is fulfilled by Calc's directions to the location of a balloon, the retrieval of which will furnish the necessary cash (the reference to dollars in the panel below is due to the bag of gas having been released skyward by a kid in the USA). Whoopee dated 20 February 1982 was where this Calculator Kid story of aerial aspiration originally took flight.
|Art: Terry Bave
Well, we certainly can't complain of a lack of representation by ex-Cheeky Weekly chums in this Special. We could complain that most of the material featuring our toothy pal's former colleagues consists of reprints, but recycled material has always been used to pad out IPC Annuals and Specials, and one improvement in that regard is the cessation of the practise of resizing old material by means of adjustments to the original artwork. It's fitting that Mustapha should be the character to enjoy 2 new strips in this Special, since he's still featuring in new material weekly in Whizzer and Chips and therefore must be popular. It's just a shame that Cheeky himself doesn't show up. He failed to transfer into Whizzer and Chips, so clearly wasn't as popular as his former colleagues who did. Another factor which possibly deterred the editor from reviving our punster pal was the large cast of supporting characters that was such a part of Cheeky's successful years; an audience unfamiliar with the idiosyncrasies of Gloomy Glad, Jogging Jeremy, Baker's Boy et al may have been a bit mystified by the toothy funster's gag-cracking progress along the streets of Krazy Town.
Join me again soon when I'll be delving into the Whoopee Holiday Special of 1988.