Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ringing In The New Year: Whizzer and Chips (1986)

I'm going to ring in the new year by taking a look at one of the first New Year comics I read. This issue of Whizzer and Chips was dated 4th January 1986, and at 22p, although similar in price to other Fleetway comics, was a considerable amount more than The Beano, which cost just 16p at the same time! However Whizzer and Chips was a bigger comic, and also had a much brighter front cover, something that would have stood out on the shelves. To top it all off, Tom Paterson was drawing the cover strip, one of my personal favourite comic characters - Sweeny Toddler.

There are a lot of good quality themed strips inside, but since I can't show all of them I'll only show my favourites. The first is Lazy Bones, who is a lazy boy called Benny Bones, who simply can't be bothered to do anything but sleep. Illustrated by Colin Whittock, the strip is both funny and well drawn, with Colin's basic but fast style adding even more humour to the page!

Next up is Terry Bave's Toy Boy. This strip is one of the two in this comic that has stuck in my mind since I first read it! I like the witty humour that makes everything seem planned from the start! A great strip along with some great artwork!

Whizzer and Chips is famous for it's catchphrase "Two Comics In One, Double The Fun!". The intention of Whizzer and Chips is that Whizzer was a seperate comic from Chips, so readers felt like they we're getting more for their money. Chips appeared as a pull-out comic in the middle, complete with an issue date and a cover star who appeared in full colour (meaning the centre pages of the comic were in black and white or blue - blue ink was used in Chips, red in in Whizzer). The cover star of Chips was Shiner, who first appeared in the comic in issue two, moving Sid and Slippy from Chips into Whizzer (yes, Sid was originally a Chip-ites)! Both Sid's Snake and Shiner were illustrated by one of my favourite artists, Mike Lacey, so it's brilliant to be able to see his artwork in full colour each week!

The first strip inside Chips is Lolly Pop, the mean old skinflint who wouldn't spend a penny if he could manage it! Of course, nothing ever goes his way and he always ends up spending thousands at the end! 

Sammy Shrink is a clever strip, illustrated by one of the comics most influential artists, Terry Bave. You may notice that Benny Bones appears on this page, and that is beacuse each week one comic would send a "raider" into the other comic. Basically, a character from Whizzer would "raid" Chips, appearing on a comic strip somewhere, and vice-versa. Readers, who were either Whizz-Kids or Chips-ites, would have to spot this raider and blot him out, and then cheer on their own raider in the other comic!

Back in Whizzer, Joker is the other strip that has stuck in my mind! Just like in Toy Boy, Sid Burgon's brilliant artwork accompanies a brilliant script! 

Finally, lets take a look at one of the title's most succesful strips - The Bumpkin Billionaires! As usual, the Bumpkins are trying to get broke, and for once they do it! Read on to find out how!

Sharing a page with The Krazy Gang is a half page advertisement for The Best Of Whoopee Monthly for January of that year. I don't have that issue, but I do have the one that followed.

Fleetway produced many Best Of Monthly's for various comics, including one for Whizzer and Chips in 1984 and Buster got one later on in 1987. They were big, chunky comics with over 60 pages of reprints from the titles comic appearing inside them each month! Very similar To Big Comic Fortnightly, although focusing on only one comic.

D.C Thomson created a similar comic in 1996, when they launched the first issue of Classics From The Comics, featuring strips reprinted from various classic Thomson titles, but sadly that folded recently. I'd like to see a comeback of these, one from both Thomson and Egmont (who now own the rights to all the Fleetway funnies), and I'm sure they'd sell very well! I'd buy one anyway.


Andy Boal said...

The Beano was only 20 or 24 pages at that point - Whizzer and Chips was 32 pages!

The problem with the "best of"/"classics" titles published by both companies was that they weren't that popular. IPC peaked in the early 90s with Best of Buster, Whoopee and Whizzer and Chips all running monthly, and Big Comic and Funny running fortnightly, but that quite quickly collapsed into one - Big Value Comic, which was later rebranded Buster Classics but still failed.

Classics from the Comics I think had a future, but I believe that it was a victim of the change of printer by DCT - changing the paper would have pushed up the price, and doing a special run of newsprint inside the glossyish covers would have again dearer when contracted out. It also suffered from atrocious circulation as the supermarkets didn't carry it.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't like to see it back, I just recognise it isn't going to happen!

Happy new year!

George Shiers said...

I suppose that the "Best Of Monthly's" were very expensive compared to your weekly comic, but I do enjoy reading the classic strips!

Sad that 'Classics From The Comics' failed due to a switch of printers, I really enjoyed that comic as it gave me a look at strips that sometimes I'd never heard of before!

Still, at least there's a lot of back issues to go through!

Happy new year to you too! Hope you have a good one! :)

TwoHeadedBoy said...

Happy New Year, Mr. Shiers!

Big/BVC and Classics From The Comics are both fantastic at what they do - I still stick a couple of each in my bag if I'm off on a long journey somewhere.

I got the first dozen issues when Classics From The Comics was first out, then only realized it was still going back in 2010, when I took out a subscription.

Real shame it closed when it did, as it was just getting even MORE interesting, with letters pages and "themed" issues, even artist spotlights.

A lot of silly, silly, silly decisions have been made at DCT over the last few years.

George Shiers said...

Happy new year to you too!

The Big Comics were fantastic reading for sure, the monthly version was over 100 pages, so it was perfect for a long journey!

I'm not sure when I started buying Classics From The Comics, the first time I remember buying it was somewhere around 2008 when I saw it on the sheves in WHSmith next to The Beano. It was getting really good towards the end, they were interviewing artists, doing spotlights on certain years/themes and a whole host of other stuff! It was at it's prime when it ended!

Indeed a lot of silly mistakes have been made! The end of the Bash Street Kids books, the end of the Dennis the Menace books, the end of Classics From The Comics and the end of The Dandy. And lets not forget that they were going to bring back The Beezer, but scrapped it for The Beano Max...

Andy Boal said...

Unfortunately those were all commercial realities. All of the closed titles were losing too much money - we know this because otherwise they would still be going today (Classics might have carried the additional costs of the special print run)

As for Beezer vs. Beano Max - I suspect that they reckoned that Beano Max would sell more due to the branding. They were probably right.

TwoHeadedBoy said...

That bit about the Beezer's news to me!

Slightly gutted it didn't happen now...

Andy Boal said...

It was a rumour, although it should also be noted that it was not the only rumour.

George Shiers said...

It was a rumour? A pretty well spread rumour then, and somebody must have worked hard designing that "new look" Beezer logo! Still, even if it wasn't real, I'm dissapointed it didn't happen - the Beano Max only has one or two comic strips at the moment.

Nigel Henry said...

can any of you comic affectionados help me? I regularly purchased whizzer and chips in the early eighties and would rush through the comic to the 'one off' piece of abstract art done, if i remember, in the middle of the comic. It was awesome in an mc esher kind of way. I think benson and hedges cigs did a similar thing around that time with a series of abstract adverts in the broadsheet colour supps. any advice in particular naming the illustrator would be most welcome - thanks in advance

Graham Exton said...

Nice to see these again. I was responsible for most of the Sweeny scripts from "Judge Sweeny" on, until Tom left. (Without him there was no point in doing the strip.) I drew a few, and haven't seen the one about Dad's new car since it was published. I'd love to see it again, as I got Noddy's car and an Alfa concept into it.

George Shiers said...

Any idea roughly when it appeared, Graham? I can look through and see if I can find it.