On this day, 6 March 1976: Whoopee!
On this day, 6 March 1976 ... Whoopee! was celebrating its second birthday with a brand new look - a star-bedecked, lively masthead which would last for the rest of the decade and become, for me at least, the most recognisable and befitting design for a comic that always seemed to have a vibrant and slightly unpredictable feel.
I'll take a look at the very first issue in a few days but by way of contrast it's fun to look first at this 1976 version. Alongside proper funny slapstick strips with larger-than-life characters such as the Bumpkin Billionaires, Scared-stiff Sam and Lolly Pop, there are a good number with a darker, deliciously sly tone such as Sweeny Toddler, Scream Inn, Evil Eye and Fun-Fear, rounded off as always by Ken Reid's World-wide Weirdies. Whoopee! had always been a home for a handful of spooky stories (Evil Eye dates back to the launch issue) but it had a more innocent feel in which they seemed a bit out of place under its original banner. This new look was just right, however, and all of a sudden this feels like a comic that knows what it is and who its readers are.
As well as the first eight pages of a 32-page cut-out-and-keep TV Quiz Book this issue also saw debuts for two new strips: Werewilf, drawn by Graham Allen, Gook the TV Spook by Artie Jackson, and Nick Baker's Smiler. Ostensibly, Werewilf and Gook appear to have been the addition to the Whoopee!'s humorous horror line-up but arguably Smiler is more terrifying - behind that huge, rictus grin one senses a suppressed inferno of rage against the world.