Buster swallowed up a lot of comics in its time - a whopping twelve different titles in total. Radio Fun was the first comic to merge and did so very early on in Buster's life on 25th February 1961. The last one, Whizzer and Chips, merged in 1990, and helped Buster push on through its tough last decade. Whereas I do own copies of a few other of Buster's mergers, the one I'm going to be concentrating on today is Nipper.
Nipper started life as a small A5 sized comic (hence the name 'Nipper') on 31st January 1987, and lasted for a mere 16 issues. By the end of its run the comic had increased in size to a standard A4 cover, and had decreased its page count from 48 to 32. The comic was aimed at a much younger audience than other Fleetway titles, with strips such as Nursery Crimes, Will and Bill and even Nipper himself making that obvious.
Although Nipper did have some good artists working within its pages, such as Tom Paterson, Anthony Hutchings and Terry Bave, it still failed to take off, proving that quality isn't always the key to success (although it probably is a big part of it). After one revamp Fleetway quickly gave up, and it merged with Buster on issue dated 19th September 1987. The bright cover showed Nipper's stars chasing Madballs, which were characters from a video game that was offered as a prize for a competition inside.
|Roy's Toys, illustrated by |
As the cover mentions, there were 26 strips crammed into 32 pages, so there was no wasted space - I don't know how they managed to fit everything in! Actually, they couldn't, and some strips were removed from this issue, such as Prambo, Nice Life and Good Guy, all of which were due to return the following week.
Of all the characters that begun life in Nipper, only a few are remembered. Nipper himself is an obvious one, plus Brad Break and Ricky Rainbow, but sadly that's it.
|Admittedly not from Nipper, but Mike Higgs' |
Thundercap is one of the highlights in Buster.
However, if you ever get the opportunity to grab yourself some Nipper comics - do so! There's some good stuff in them by some great artists.