Back in the early 1980s, the British comic book industry was pretty healthy. Nonetheless, some titles did suffer from poor sales. The standard tactic in the industry was to fold the failing comic into a more prosperous one. The most popular strips would be carried over, replacing less liked ones in the host comic. The series would bear both titles for a few months to a year, then quietly drop the extraneous one. ("Whizzer and Chips" parodied this trend by having the second comic never entirely go away.) Some popular serials outlasted several magazine titles in a row.
So it was with tonight's offering, the "Whoopee" of July 2nd, 1983, which welcomes its sister comic "Wow" to its pages. ( Let's party like it's 1983! )
As always, the tricky part was deciding what to cut. So, 9 pages out of 27, with the remainder merely described.( Yes, even child actors have to have normal classes. )
*The Bumpkin Billionaires--A Beverly Hillbillies takeoff, about a hick family that wins a fortune in the football pools. And that's "billions" in British nomenclature, remember. They have come to despise their immense wealth, but their banker refuses to let them get rid of it. In this installment, they give their entire winnings to the banker, but then discover there was a horrible mistake--their actual prize money is twice as much! And now the banker can't accept their gift as he'll be too busy managing their new fortune.
*Teammates--a youth soccer team. Their manager, Glenn, announces that he's arranged a summer tour for the team. Before he can finish telling the kids about it, they're all off to get passport photos. At the end, they're disappointed to learn that the "tour" is of the neighboring streets, playing their kid teams.
*Creepy Comix--A young fellow finds a haunted newsagent that sells...creepy comic books. This time, a "collected" volume that is the home to The Collector, a giant spider that collects things in its web, like human victims. Fortunately, it's subject to its owner's orders and he has it collect stamps that have fallen out a window instead.
*Chip--A rogue computer chip escapes the factory and becomes Mike's friend. Its ability to bring anything to "life" comes in handy chasing off a hungry club-wielding tramp.
*Ossie--A boy and his pet escaped ostrich. A zookeeper parachutes down to catch them, but is easily booted away. Possibly the weakest strip in this issue.
*Sweeny Toddler--Noisy brat insists on seeing "Moby Dick" in the theatre, fails to catch the nuances, and goes on a whale hunt in the high street. He winds up spearing an inflatable dolphin and chasing the other kids with its "corpse" before Dad reappears and gives him the slipper (off-panel.)( Capital vs. Labor for Kids )( A shocking look at the rise in senile delinquency. )
*Spare-Part Kit--A boy whose father has invented over-muscled arm and leg prosthetics that shape-shifting spies want for Zoblobnia, which wants to use them to cheat in the Olympics.
*Family Trees--A group of trees, uprooted from their home by developers, seek a new place to vegetate. This strip, they find an isolated island, and a veddy British tree that invites them to stay. But quickly, humans start drifting on to the island, and before you know it, the trees must again flee, along with their new friend.( What SKJAM! was like as a boy )
*Kid Comic--Aspiring stand-up comedian with a very tired act is pleased to meet a new friend, Smiler, whose face is trapped in a permanent rictus, and thus always looks happy to hear yet another corny joke.( Eleven long-haired Friends of Jesus in a chartreuse micro-bus )
*Toy Boy--Inventive lad is bored with ordinary mobiles, so he comes up with an airplane-themed one powerful enough to life a dollhouse off the ground. His father is pleased that Toy Boy scraps plans for a full-sized version.
*Quick Strips--simple 3 and 4-panel gags, none particularly good.
*Lolly Pop--Wealthy pinchpenny (ala Jack Benny) and his son. Son wants a bunny, Pop thinks it would be too expensive to feed. He suggests an ant, as they can find their own food. One thing leads to another, and the entire vegetable garden is destroyed by Pop's carelessness. Son gets a rabbit.
*Shipwreck School--An educational cruise runs ashore on a tropical island, but the headmaster insists on holding regular classes and school activities regardless. In this strip, we learn that Brainy has taught carnivorous plants to play cricket.( Homing Monster )
*Mustapha Million--Oil sheik's son. He goes camping with some local boys, only to find a Bedouin tent isn't suitable for the wet English weather. Good thing he has a caravan with a three-story luxury tent as a backup!( The beginning of a beautiful romance )
*Snack-Man--A yellow sphere-shaped creature with an enormous appetite. (Sounds familiar somehow.) Snack-Man's human friend has gotten a stick of Blackpool rock (a chalk-hard candy associated with seaside vacation) and wants to break it to make the treat easier to hide from Snack-Man. The sphere has other ideas, however, and is able to make off with the candy stick. It hides in a tiny tent, which turns out to be another seaside tradition, the Punch and Judy show. Snack-Man gets in a fight with Punch, using the rock as a weapon. This breaks the candy into pieces, which the human lad scoops up, adding insult to injury with a lame pun.
Your thoughts, comments, questions? We're slowly coming towards the end of the gag comics, then it will be back to more action fare.Suggested tags
creator: Robert Nixon
medium: British comics