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Friday, 20 August 2010

Yesterdays papers - Whizzer and Chips

This was another comic that was hugely popular with boys growing up in the 1970's. It was first published in 1969 and ran until 1990 when it was finally merged into Buster. It was quite a unique idea at the time - billed as two comics, one inside the other, double the value for the same money as one comic. The editors of both comics were said to be deadly rivals and readers could either become Chippites or Whizz-Kids, depending on which comic you prefered. In fact I can remember taking all of this much too seriously and sometimes I would remove the Whizzer section of the comic and just read Chips - of course that was until I realised I could have double the read if I just read both sections, nevertheless, as a firm Chippite, I felt like a traitor reading the Whizzer section.

The Buytonic Boy originally appeared in Krazy Comic
The  12 and a half Pence Buytonic Boy is another example of how British comics would ape popular TV shows of the time - Buytonic Boy came to Whizzer and Chips late, first showing up in 1978 when the failing Krazy Comic was merged into Whizzer and Chips. Then the comic had the rather awkward title of Whizzer and Chips incorporating Crazy Comic. Much the same thing had happened earlier in 1973 when Knockout merged with Whizzer and Chips and would happen again in 1985 when Whoopie merged with it.

Comic merging was common in the UK. When a title was failing it would be merged with a bigger selling title. This was a way of saving the most popular strips - a good example is when Starlord merged with 2000AD it's most successful story, Strontium Dog would go from strength to strength. Indeed these days Johnny Alpha is more associated with 2000AD than his original home.

Star Wars Parody

The strip left takes its obvious influence from the Star Wars movies, and told the comic adventures of Space Sheriff Starr and his robotic dog Rin Tin Tim.

The editor of Chips was billed as Shiner - so named because he was always sporting a black eye. Receiving a black eye in some tussle or other was a mark of pride for young boys during the Seventies. Scrapping was something we all did for the flimsiest of reasons.

"Let's have a scrap. Meet on the football field after school,' was the answer to any insult or argument between friends. Personally I was never any good at it, being a sensitive soul, and I had several black eyes in my time but don't think I can recall giving anyone a shiner.

Horace loves Doris - not likely!
But it wasn't all rough and tumble and the gentle love story of Horace and Doris surely deserves a place alongside Romeo and Juliet in the pantheon of literature's great lovers.

However whilst Romeo and Juliet had to walk the streets of Varona with their love forbidden, Horace had to dash down the streets of 1970' s Britain to avoid Doris' amorous advancements and keep his virtue intact.

Whizzer and Chips had a good run, 1092 issues in total but inevitably the demise of children reading comics led to lower and lower sales - when the comic started no-one even had a colour televison but by the time it died we were living in the age of video recorders and the formative years of the home computer games industry.

The first ever issue                                                                                                                                                                                            

There was so much more than comic books for children to spend their pocket money on. These days the UK comic industry is a shadow of its former self, with the majority of the titles aimed at pre-schoolers. The Beano and Dandy are still going strong but these are very different comics than they used to be back in the day. And of course 2000AD still manages to come out weekly, but the newsagents are nothing like the treasure troves they were during the 1970's.

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