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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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Friday 28 April 2023

Cheeky-related characters in the Whoopee Annuals and Specials - Part 9 - 1988

How many editions of a weekly comic will there be in any one year? Many of us (including myself until this whole vexed topic was unleashed on me by the chronologically enlightened Stephen Archer) would confidently state the answer to be 52, but that is not in fact always the case and there can often be 53 issues a year.

How so?

Any year on which the first of January falls on a Saturday will contain 53 Saturdays because there will be 5 Saturdays in each of January, April, July, October and December (= 25 Saturdays), and 4 in all other months (= 28 Saturdays). Leap years in which the first of January falls on a Friday (as is the case with 1988, a fact which will become relevant below) will also contain 53 Saturdays for the same reason.

The cover dates shown on the front page of Whizzer and Chips always referred to a Saturday although, due to the arcane practices of the British comic industry, Saturday was not actually the day on which the comic went on sale.

To give an idea of the frequency of this phenomenon, the table below shows all the 53-Saturday years  in the 100 years from 1950 to 2049, together with the number of Saturdays in each month of those years.

First Day Jan Sats Feb Sats Mar Sats Apr Sats May Sats Jun Sats Jul Sats Aug Sats Sep Sats Oct Sats Nov Sats Dec Sats Total Sats
Saturday 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 5 53
1960 Leap Year Friday 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 5 53
Saturday 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 5 53
1972 Leap Year Saturday 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 5 4 4 5 53
Saturday 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 5 53
Saturday 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 5 53
1988 Leap Year Friday 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 5 53
Saturday 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 5 53
2000 Leap Year Saturday 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 5 4 4 5 53
Saturday 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 5 53
Saturday 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 5 53
2016 Leap Year Friday 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 5 53
Saturday 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 5 53
2028 Leap Year Saturday 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 5 4 4 5 53
Saturday 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 5 53
Saturday 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 5 53
2044 Leap Year Friday 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 4 5 4 5 53

This calendar conundrum never arose when I was analysing the run of Cheeky Weekly because although the comic's debut year of 1977 was a 53-Saturday one, the toothy funster's own title of course made its debut with an issue cover-dated 22 October of that year, and the next 53-Saturday year occurred in 1983, well after Cheeky Weekly's February 1980 cancellation.

The surprising regularity with which these 53-Saturday years occur means that 1988 was the 4th and final 53-weeker which the mighty Whizzer and Chips enjoyed since its 1969 inception, coming after 1972, 1977 and 1983 (all years in which Whizz-kids and Chip-ites were untroubled by halts in publication due to industrial action, which affected the W&C printing schedules of the 52-Saturday years 1974, 1975, 1978 and 1980).

Young Mustapha Million, the final survivor from Cheeky Weekly who by 1988 was a Whizzer and Chips stalwart, appeared in all 53 1988-cover-dated issues of the 2-titles-in-1 comic, drawn by Frank McDiarmid except in the case of the 03 September episode which was a reprint with artwork by Joe McCaffrey that originally appeared in Whoopee and Wow! dated 03 December 1983.

The purpose of this series of posts is to identify any appearances in the Whoopee Specials or Annuals by characters who originated in Cheeky Weekly. It was to the weekly Whoopee that survivors of Cheeky Weekly relocated following cancellation of the toothy funster's title in 1980. The weekly Whoopee itself folded in 1985, which is how Mustapha found himself lodged within the pages of Whizzer and Chips. Previously in this series I have examined the contents of the Whoopee Annuals published in 1980 to 1987, but publication of Whoopee Annuals was suspended in 1988, and would not resume until the final yearly Whoopee hardback was published in 1991. Whoopee Holiday Specials, however, continued to appear in newsagents every year.

1988's Whoopee Holiday Special was advertised in just one issue of Whizzer and Chips. Appearing in the 02 April edition, the ad featured a very prominent appearance by Mustapha Million, and was graced by artwork from Frank McDiarmid, lifted from a panel of one of the benificent youngster's strips from with the Special itself.

Whizzer and Chips 02 April 1988

Whoopee Holiday Special 1988


This is the first Whoopee Special to be produced under the auspices of Fleetway Publications, following last year's sale of IPC's comics business to the Pergamon Press group. Continuity is maintained nonetheless, as last year's Whoopee Special cover stars, the Bumpkin Billionaires, return to  the front page, in a frozen confection scenario reminiscent (to those with long enough memories) of the cover of the Cheeky Holiday Special of 1980. However, whereas the toothy Funster's frozen feast was confined within a bog-standard, initially-crispy-but-tending-to-the-soggy-if-one-dallies-over-consumption-of-the-melting-delight ice cream cone, the Bumpkin's generous helpings of chilly dessert reside in containers wrought from purest gold. This cover design may have been inspired by the upcoming Olympic Games, the opening ceremony of which always features the arrival of an athlete holding aloft a gleaming torch.

Where this cover does differ from those seen previously in this series is the large amount of text promoting the contents although curiously Mustapha, who featured so heavily on the ad in Whizzer and Chips, is not among those to get a namecheck, while his former Cheeky Weekly colleague Gran is included.

As was the case with last year's Whoopee Special, page 2 features a Mustapha Million episode, although unlike last year's original tale this Special's inaugural outing for our middle eastern mate is a reprint drawn by Joe McCaffrey of a cricket-related escapade which originally entertained readers of Whoopee! dated 12 June 1982 (and also it's a 2 page story rather than last year's original single page adventure drawn by Barry Glennard).

Noting, as we leaf through the Special, that the Bumpkins episode beginning on page 5 is rather unusual for 2 reasons; it's a 5-page epic and it's drawn by Vic Neill, our next encounter with a Cheeky-related chum is on page 11 where Charlie Counter, better known to Cheeky fans as Calculator Kid, is heading off to the swimming pool in a tale that originally appeared in Whoopee and Wow! dated 09 July 1983.

A few pages later we meet another character from the Cheeky Stable - Robot Granny who, back in the days of Cheeky Weekly, was formerly known as 6 Million Dollar Gran. This rural reprint was first seen in Whoopee! dated 24 April 1982 where it was printed in black and white, but for this outing Ian Knox's artwork has been coloured.



Immediately following Gran/Granny but reprinted in monochrome are the kids and teacher of Stage School in an episode offering us a rare opportunity to witness their activities on the sports field. Whoopee and Wow! dated 03 September 1983 is the source of this sporty saga.


Art: Robert Nixon


There may possibly be some of our Cheeky chums among the anonymous correspondents who are the subject of the puzzle on pages 28 and 29. What do you think?


Art: Jim Crocker

Following the postcard posers is a second 2-page Stage School episode, this one recycled from Whoopee and Wow! dated 22 October 1983.

Mustapha Million appears in a new 4-page adventure commencing on page 40, drawn by Frank McDiarmid. It's always good to see a Boilk! in a comic strip, and this story is the source of the artwork that featured in the ad for this Special as seen above.



In previous posts I have jokingly referred to IPC staff entering the gloomy, cobweb-draped catacombs beneath King's Reach Tower in which (I chose to imagine) old comic artwork was stored, to search for material to reprint. However, it may be that the archives were moved as a result of Pergamon's purchase of IPC's comics division, so for all I know the expeditions to select material to act as filler in this Special were conducted in bright, shining-floored, atmosphere-controlled vaults beneath the Pergamon offices in Southwark Street, a relatively short distance (about 520 metres as the corvid navigates according to Google maps) from IPC's home. Whatever the conditions of storage, the next Cheeky-related item to have been selected from years gone by is another Mustapha 2-pager, this time from Whoopee and Wow! dated 02 July 1983, the first issue in which the two titles were merged, and thus there is a recap of Mustapha's back-story for the benefit of former Wow! readers who were previously unaware of our amiable Arab pal. The original strip featured red spot colour, but is reprinted here in monochrome. The choice of this story to serve as a reprint is rather puzzling, due to its similarity to the previous, original Mustapha strip in this Special.

Art: Joe McCaffrey


Mustapha's second countryside caper of this Special is followed by another Robot Granny reprint (this time across 1 and a half pages), which long-time followers of the synthetic senior citizen may recall having previously enjoyed in the 22 May 1982 edition of Whoopee! On its original outing the concluding half-page of the story shared space with an advert for Buster and Jackpot, announcing the commencement of the cut-out-and-keep Big Daddy Wrestling Game, but in this Special the vacant half page is occupied by 3 small ads for businesses selling respectively stamps, jokes and football programmes, together with a note from Fleetway Publications asking readers to mention Whoopee Holiday Special when responding to the adverts, although each of the advertisers includes a code in their address which one would presume is to enable identification of where each ad was seen;



Philatelic Services (Dept. SUS1) = Summer Special?

Joke Shop By Post (Dept. KHS) = something Holiday Special?

Steve Earl (HS4) = Holiday Special?

Assuming these businesses placed ads in more than one Fleetway Special this year, maybe they were unable to specify the inclusion of a different code in each magazine and that's why the onus fell on readers to identify which publication generated their response.

Gran's adventure as described above is the final directly Cheeky-related material in this Special, although there is a further item with a connection to our toothy pal, boasting as it does work by the artist forever associated with the grinning punster.

Frank McDiarmid contributes his second 5-page set to this Special with the Frankie Stein escapade beginning on page 57 in which Professor Cube launches the accident-prone assemblage of reconstituted human offcuts out to sea on a windsurf board. Suspecting this may be a reprint, I looked through KAZOOP entries labelled as Frank McDiarmid, knowing that Irmantas has documented several 'Frankie Stein on Holiday' stories, but couldn't find it.



The bottom of the final page of Frankie's vacation tale provides the solution to the earlier carte-postale quiz. Were you right?



Well, there's a gratifying number of appearances by ex Cheeky Weekly characters in this Special. Admittedly all bar one are reprints, but it's great to have a new 4-page Mustapha adventure drawn by Frank M. Incidentally, my task of identifying the issues from which the reprints were selected was made easier by the fact that the title panels of Calculator Kid, Stage School and Mustapha Million helpfully changed during their Whoopee runs, and Gran underwent a number of incarnations, each of which had a new title (see preceding links for details) meaning I didn't have to examine the entire run of each strip. I'm sure one day I will be caught out with a reprint substituting a different title panel on its re-use.

Paddywack seems to have fallen from favour and is not present this year, having featured in strips in the 2 previous Whoopee Specials, his absence possibly due to growing sensitivity regarding national stereotypes. Sadly Cheeky remains persona non gagster as far as the Whoopee Specials are concerned.

My attention will next turn to the Whoopee Special of 1989.