Sunday, June 23, 2013

Junior Rotter Holiday Special (1986)

A fantastic, bright, well-drawn, attention grabbing cover!

The time has come to take another look at a holiday special. This one has a lengthy title: Whizzer and Chips Presents Junior Rotter Holiday Special, and it went on sale in the summer of 1986 for 65p. For sixty-five of your pennies you got 64 pages of comics, puzzles and posters and eight of those pages were in full colour. The paper is also of a much higher quality than other specials, printed entirely on smooth glossy paper throughout, similar to the type the Beano is printed on now (although I've forgotten what it's called).

As the name suggests, the comic is based around the popular Chips centre spread character Junior Rotter, who was illustrated by Trevor Metcalfe. Whereas most of the special is filled with reprints, there is some new stuff in there both from Trevor and Jack Edward Oliver. It starts of with a new strip by Trevor, revealing how J.R and his family went from rags to riches. As it turns out, it was all one of J.R's get-rich-quick schemes.

Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with this character, Junior Rotter was a sort of American Roger the Dodger who appeared in the Chips section of Whizzer and Chips. J.R was based on the character J.R. Ewing from the television show Dallas, who also wore a big cowboy hat. Each week our J.R would try various schemes to get out of school, dodge work and win money in some crazy ways! He was a very popular character, appearing on the centre spread of Chips each week and even continuing in reprints through to the very last issue of Buster. He really was one of Fleetway's greatest characters, up there with Sweeny Toddler and Joker! Here are a couple of examples of his strips, reprinted in this holiday special.

One of the highlights in the comic is the centre spread, as it displays a wonderful full colour poster called "The Dreams Of J.R.", illustrated by Trevor Metcalfe. In a way, his first dream came true, as on the back page of the last Buster he turned good and became Prime Minister, although how that happened I don't know as he was born and lived in America. 

Jack Edward Oliver drew quite a few puzzles throughout the comic, but my favourite is this very attention grabbing board game, called J.R.'s Jet Race Game. It was very similar to most board games; the first player to get from the start to the finish wins; in this case a free ticket for a flight on Concorde (no, not really - just in the game!). It's very good fun and would definitely pass some time on holiday, which is what the special is designed to do!

This holiday special has always been one of my favourites and I've read it many times, and as a result it's beginning to fall apart, but that's really no surprise looking at the quality of the stuff that's inside.


Peter Gray said...

Love to own that..

The origin story is the first episode shown in his first appearance in Whizzer and a reprint..

Joker didn't get his own summer special so the chip-ites won there

George Shiers said...

The origin seems like the sort of strip that would be created for a summer special though so that's why I assumed it was new material.