On this day, 27 February 1987: Nipper

On this day, 27 February 1987: Nipper

Cover artwork: Gordon Bell

On this day, 27 February 1987 … I wasn’t sure whether to include Nipper within the remit of my blog, as it seems to have been aimed at a younger readership than others from the humour desks of IPC/Fleetway and I haven’t had any interest in the publisher’s other comics for younger readers such as Toby or Bonnie. But Nipper seems to be pitched somewhere between pre-school and mid- to late-primary, and as it eventually merged into Buster I think it should be allowed to sit in with the juniors rather than the infants.

Also, there are some quality stories in here that would have sat fairly comfortably in Buster or Whizzer and Chips. Indeed, quite a few of them did make it into Buster after the merger, including Nipper himself, Ricky Rainbow, Brad Break and My ‘Dad’ Mum (an ultimately rather melancholy humour strip about a single mum trying to fulfil traditional dad roles for her son). My pick of the bunch, which didn’t survive the merge, is Felix the Pussycat (young boy tries to be a superhero by dressing in a cat onesie) – you can’t really go wrong with Tom Paterson on art duties. Also worth a mention are Frankie’s Flashlight, if only because it bears more than a passing resemblance to Jamie and the Magic Torch, and the imaginative adventure serial Kelpie’s Kingdom, in which a boy helps a creature from the distant future to travel back to his own world to clear his name.

Apart from the younger target audience, the other thing that uniquely defines Nipper is the A5 format in which its first five issues were published. It’s fun and different but I’m not surprised to see that it reverted to a more traditional British newsstand size before long. In book publishing it’s hard to make a small format book work – unless it’s good enough to justify enough booksellers investing in special display units, it’s likely to get lost on the shelves. I’m no expert on comic and magazine retailing but it’s not hard to imagine Nipper being dwarfed and completely hidden in the crowded newsagents’ racks.

Nipper number 2 in its original size (left), and number 6 in its relaunched size (right)

There’s a free Nipper Index by George Shiers here on ISSUU, and below I’ve scanned some highlights from the second issue, which went off-sale (after a fortnight) on this day, 29 years ago.

Frankie’s Flashlight: Brian Platt (artist)

Brad Break: Steve Bright (artist)

Felix the Pussycat: Tom Paterson (artist)

Kelpie’s Kingdom: Bob Harvey (artist)

Mighty Mouth: Terry Bave (artist)

The Savers: Mark Bennington (artist)

Ricky Rainbow: Jimmy Hansen (artist)

First-time Fred: David Jones (artist)

James Pond: Barrie Appleby (artist)

My ‘Dad’ Mum: Anthony Hutchings (artist)

Sweeping Beauty and her Ugly Sisters: Ian Jackson (artist)

Will and Bill: Frank McDiarmid (artist)

Nipper: Gordon Bell (artist)

On this day, 28 February 1976: Tiger and Scorcher

On this day, 28 February 1976: Tiger and Scorcher

On this day, 26 February 1977: 2000AD (Prog 1)

On this day, 26 February 1977: 2000AD (Prog 1)