And so we reach 1989 in our quest to identify any appearances in the Whoopee Annuals or Specials by Cheeky or the funny folk who were his comic companions in the pages of Cheeky Weekly. The reason this series focuses on the spin-offs of the weekly Whoopee is that's the title into which the survivors of Cheeky's comic transferred following the inevitable 'merge' following cancellation of the toothy funster's comic. There was also a subsequent merge of Whoopee into Whizzer and Chips, although only Mustapha Million, Calculator Kid and Stage School made the transition. Mustapha continued to appear until Whizzer and Chips itself succumbed to a merge into Buster in 1990, Calculator Kid eventually came to an end in July 1986, and Stage School appeared just twice. Cheeky didn't transfer into Whizzer and Chips as the star of a strip, but he had been appearing in W&C as a member of the Krazy Gang since 1978, a feature which would continue until February 1986.
Whoopee Annuals were at this point undergoing a hiatus which would end in 1991.
The Oink! Holiday collection was the first Special to be advertised in Whizzer and Chips in 1989, in the 18 March edition. There then followed ads for various Specials of the adventure and humour genres, but the first and only Whizzer and Chips mention of the Whoopee Holiday Special of that year came in the issue dated 24 June 1989, as part of an ensemble ad for Fleetway Publications' humour Special offerings. Nick Baker's tumultuous beach scene is probably designed to make people avoid the seaside and read some comics instead, but surprisingly none of the covers of the publications being promoted are on display.
Whoopee Holiday Special 1989
It's tyrannical tyke Sweeny Toddler's turn to occupy the cover this year, as he succumbs to a desert island daydream, illustrated by Tom Paterson, which continues onto page 2.
Cheeky himself has so far failed to appear in any Whoopee Holiday Specials, but his fondly-remembered title gets a mention in an ad for reprint-collection Big Comic on page 5 (below the half-page conclusion to a Scared-Stiff Sam episode).
And, having remarked on the absence of our buck-toothed buddy, we turn the page to witness Cheeky in his punning pomp, sharing Sweeny's Crusoe-fixation, as the reels of silliness-packed celluloid which originally flickered across the pages of Whoopee! and Cheeky in the Movie Masterpiece of 09 August 1980 get threaded up for another showing. Gratifyingly, this big-screen blockbuster is (almost) uncut and presented in its 4-page entirety, with (almost) no edits to Frank McDiarmid's glorious artwork. A good assortment of Cheeky's chums have supporting roles. Readers unfamiliar with the Cheeky milieu will probably follow most of what's happening, though they won't know that the gent bowing in obeisance is Cheeky's teacher in his 'real' world, nor will they be aware that the blonde in the animal skin swimsuit is Lily Pop and thus miss the significance of her offer to escort Cheeky across the lake. It's hard to imagine what the uninitiated make of the Knock-Knock door, Gloomy Glad and her cancelled cloud or Walter Wurx' apology for unavoidable absence from the cinema audience in the title banner.
The 2 edits to this reprint are;
- The removal of the 'We'll take good care of you' text from the second panel on the fourth page. This (slightly misquoted) reference to the British Airways advertising jingle familiar to viewers of ITV in 1980 is evidently considered to be so puzzling to readers in 1989 that it requires excision, whereas those same readers are left to unravel the aforementioned unexplained foibles of Cheeky's pals for themselves.
- The understandable replacement of the original 'trailer' at the foot of the same page
Page 12 of the Special sees the commencement of a 2-page Mustapha Million tale, appropriately concerning school summer holidays, selected for reprint from the pages of Whoopee! dated 24 July 1982.
|Art: Joe McCaffrey
Whoopee dated 04 September 1982 is the source of the next story featuring a Cheeky-related character, and this time it's Robot Granny. As the aged automaton embarks on a walk in the country, readers unfamiliar with the character require no explanation of the setup, since the premise is explained by the strip's title.
|Art: Ian Knox
The editor of this Special reaches further back in the annals of Mustapha Million to furnish the vintage single-page adventure drawn by Reg Parlett which occupies page 27. This story originally appeared in Cheeky Weekly dated 15 July 1978, but it seems the staff member tasked with gathering material suitable for recycling didn't actually scour the Cheeky Weekly archive since the version presented here uses the angular speech bubbles that were in evidence when the episode was previously reprinted in Whoopee and Wow! dated 27 October 1984 (the original printing featured more conventional, rounded-off bubbles, but the design was changed to match the squared-off style which was a feature of Whoopee at the time of the strip's first reprinting). The original title banner, which included a caption reading 'This is what he read', because at the time of the episode's debut in Cheeky Weekly Mustapha's adventures were presented as a page from the Mystery Comic, has been replaced. Both reprintings have used the same replacement banner.
|Cheeky Weekly 15 July 1978
|Whoopee Holiday Special 1989
Last year's Whoopee Holiday Special included a reprinted Stage School episode concerning events on the sports field, and a similar tale featuring more outdoor athletic endeavours by the aspiring showbiz kids has been retrieved from the vaults this year, selected from the pages of Whoopee and Wow! dated 07 July 1984.
|Art: Robert Nixon
Calculator Kid occupies the penultimate page of this Special, and the young owner of the sentient arithmetical aid finds his modest model yacht pitted against the sleek and sophisticated vessels of his opponents. Needless to say, Calc ensures that Charlie's humble craft overtakes its rivals. This boating pond battle was first enjoyed by readers of Whoopee! dated 21 August 1982.
|Art: Terry Bave
Last year's Whoopee Special included a new Mustapha Million strip as well as some reprints, but this year all the Cheeky-related items are recycled. Nevertheless former Cheeky Weekly funny folk are well-represented in this Special, and it's great to see our toothy chum again, rendered by the master of Cheekery, Frank McDiarmid, even if it is a reprint. Maybe the editor decided to include Cheeky to test the audience reaction to the character - if it's positive we may see him again next year. Is it too much to hope that we will see some new Cheeky material? Probably, but join me again soon when I'll be entering a new decade to examine the 1990 Whoopee Special.