On this day, 9 March 1974: Whoopee!
On this day, 9 March 1974 … I’ve looked at Whoopee! quite a bit over the last few weeks as it’s a comic that I’ve always liked but I’ve struggled to define what it was and what it did. While other humour comics have usually had unique distinguishing characteristics (Buster and Cheeky was ‘led’ by one character, Whizzer and Chips was the definitive two-rival-comics-in-one, Krazy was madcap, Monster Fun and Shiver and Shake played up the horror schtick, and so on), Whoopee!’s been a bit harder to pin down. One’s initial thought was that it was the practical joker’s comic – suggested by the whoopee cushion name, and the practical joke free gifts that promoted the first couple of issues – but I’m not sure that holds; as I’ve talked about elsewhere, there was a strong ‘horror fun’ element after its merger with Shiver and Shake (and even from before then, with stories such as Evil Eye and The Ghost Train, plus Ken Reid’s back-page Wanted posters, in from the start); and by the time I was reading comics regularly, and Whoopee! was a sometimes-read companion to my usual Whizzer and Chips, Cheeky or Jackpot, I thought of it more as the really mischievous one, probably by association with Sweeny Toddler who was by then on the front page.
I don’t really have any answers, and perhaps there are none. Maybe it was just supposed to be like Cor!! or Knockout, or, later, Wow! (or DC Thomson’s Beano, Dandy, Topper or Beezer) – just a comic packed full of laughs with no particular linking theme. And why not? ‘Whoopee! for Fun’ as proclaimed on the front of this number one issue, which I’ve treated shockingly, not to mention devalued, by putting it through the Great News for All Readers! scanning process – look at the state of this cover [here I need an emoji that’s the opposite of later Whoopee! favourite Smiler]:
Befitting the split spine, this is a comic bursting with content – a massive 23 strips, and that’s not including the Kid Cartoonist page on which readers can contribute their own full-page story (what a great idea that was – there should have been more of this sort of thing). Not many of that 23 are familiar names to me, however, as the line-up was to change quite a bit over the next couple of years, but Toy Boy and the Bumpkin Billionaires both make their debuts here and the stories are generally high quality throughout.
Finally, I’m more indebted than ever to Peter Gray for having a near-complete listing of the story artists on his wonderful Peter Gray’s Comics blog. Thank you Peter! I was dreading the search for so many artists on this particular issue.