Whizzer and Chips was launched on 18th October 1969 (although I believe it was first sold in the shops on the 11th) entitled as 2 comics in 1! (However it was always regarded as one comic inside the walls of the Fleetway fun house.) It caught on and soon was being bought by millions of children and adults worldwide! Naturally, we would expect a summer special/ holiday special to come a few years later, but instead it came out the very next year! Buster's first Holiday special was 9 years after it's launch in 1969, the Beano's an Dandy's didn't appear on the shelves until 1965 - 28 years later! So it was a very big suprise to see one so early on (only a matter of months from the first issue!) So, did the rushed effort pay off? It certainly did! Champ, who has a pointed nose in the title box just like he did in issues 1 and 2, appeared in there, as did Ocky, Footsie the Clown, Wonder - Car, Me and my Shadow, Guy the Guide, Sid's Snake, Shiner, Spy - Smasher Smith (I believe this was his only Whizzer and Chips appearence) and many more much loved characters.
Above: The first Whizzer and Chips holiday special from 1971.
Since then the Summer Specials continued wonderfully right up until 1993 - three whole years after the end of the weekly! Buster's ran up until 1998 and the last trace I can find of a Dandy one is 2007.
Above: The 1997 Buster Holiday Speaial.
It's such a shame that summer specials arent still around today. I love reading my classics over and over again. Im sure they would be much-loved by many adults and children today and would still pass many bored hours in a small hotel room in Blackpool! I know there are the Summer Annuals made by D.C Thomson but they're not really the same as a special 96 page comic. And besides, they cost £6.99 each, which I can't really see many kids forking out.
Above: The scarce 1971 Whizzer and Chips holiday special I picked up for just under £10.
So, why are comics sales falling?
The first and most obvious answer is of course video-games. There are so many ways to play these days, iPod, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo (which I think might be in 3-D now) and even on the internet! Maybe a collection of still pictures on a sheet of paper just isn't good enough by today's standards? (I wouldn't know, as I've never payed even the slightest attention video games.) So, maybe this is the area comics need to aim for?
An idea that occured to me not that long ago is something that I've been working hard on. I asked a friend why he didn't buy The Dandy and his answer was "...I can't be bothered to go down and get it...". I'd just like to bring your mind to the Kindle. (In case you don't know, the Kindle is a virtual book type thing.) According to Amazon, they sold more Kindle's than they did actual books in it's first year! Maybe this is the same way too go with The Beano and Dandy? You could have something such as an E-Comic. You could pay for your subscription online and then be able to read it on your iPad or iPod. Maybe even on your phone so that you could take it too school. Maybe you could download it onto your television? Of course, it's all just ideas at the moment. Has anybody else got any?