On this day, 6 February 1982: Buster and Jackpot
On this day, 6 February 1982 … Jackpot was welcomed into the pages of Buster. It was a warm and cheery welcome, with Buster himself appearing above the title of every single story to introduce the Jackpot strips to Buster readers, and the Buster stories to Jackpot readers. He even appeared in the Kid King strip, giving the mini-monarch a Busterland welcome that his dad probably would have been proud of (were he still on the scene). The Leopard from Lime St. gets a nice recap of his origins, which would probably have been useful for many existing Buster readers since the serial had been running in its pages since 1976.
A disappointing aspect of the newly-merged comic is the absence of any female-led strips. Jackpot’s Milly O’Naire and Penny Less are doubled up with Ivor Lott and Tony Broke, but are severely smaller than the boys in the new strip’s masthead, suggesting a definite second-bill status. Apart from that the only regular female characters are part of an ensemble cast (The Winners, It’s a Nice Life, The Park and Top of the Class) or a main character’s mum (Buster's Diary and Mummy’s Boy). There hadn’t been huge female representation in either comic for some time before the merger – although Disappearing Trix was a Buster strip that didn’t make the cut. Milly and Penny are the obvious ones from Jackpot, but not making it into the new comic was Mum’s the Word (which had in any case was a reprint from Whoopee!, and arguably the mum character was defined by her relationship to her son). Previous girl-led stories from Jackpot, Angel’s ‘Proper’ Charlies and Cry Baby, had been cancelled quite a while earlier.
One can only assume that there were marketing reasons for this – that IPC felt the two comics combined were likely to have a predominantly male readership – which does seem a shame as both Buster and Jackpot seemed to have been originally aimed at both girls and boys (in the 1970s Buster even carried a picture of a boy and a girl above its front cover title).