On this day, 15 April 1978: Krazy; On this day, 15 April 1989: Whizzer and Chips with Scouse Mouse
On this day, 15 April 1978 ... I was reading Whizzer and Chips at this point, aged 7, and I'd never read Krazy so I feel a bit odd looking back now and seeing what was going on in the final week of Krazytown as the comic's funstars prepared for merger-trauma. Being a reader of the predator comic it feels intrusive, creepy even, to be looking in – as if through a two-way mirror – on those in a parallel universe coming to terms with their own end.
It's a noble affair though, with no attempt to hide what's going on and plenty of references to next week's Whizzer and Chips with Krazy. Those strips that aren't going to make the cut – most notably Birdman and Chicken and Scaredy Cat – come to dignified conclusions, and there's fun as Pongo Snodgrass gets his revenge on The Krazy Gang for getting him banned from joining up with their new pals.
Krazy had run for just over a year and a half, and remains a unique comic in the IPC canon. Its format, size, binding and ever-imaginative content mixing strips, jokes, text stories and gimmicky tricks gave it an individual, almost radical identity that makes the thought of it merging with another comic (worse, another comic that was already two-comics-in-one) seem rather perverse. Not that this bothered me at the time – as my first experience of a merger I was thrilled when Krazy joined the Whizzer and Chips show.
Oddly, jumping forward eleven years from the final issue of Krazy before its merger with Whizzer and Chips brings us to 15 April 1989, the cover date of another significant edition of the latter, namely its merger with the short-lived Scouse Mouse comic.
This 'merger' was a fairly low-key affair – more the incorporation into Whizzer and Chips of two new strips, Scouse Mouse and the Scallywags and Fido Fax, whose own title had folded after just six issues. Scouse Mouse had previously been a character in a non-IPC comic, Ace, and before that in the Liverpool Echo newspaper.
Scouse Mouse aside, it's interesting to see where Whizzer and Chips had got to in 1989, only a year before its eventual demise. There is still a 'Chips as the rival comic' theme, but Sid's Snake and Shiner are no longer lead stories. In fact, they no longer have strips of their own, but share a single story, Sid vs Shiner, locked in an eternal, infernal battle the point of which neither combatant can likely recall, rather like the denouement of Nemesis the Warlock v Torquemada in 2000AD. It’s rather upsetting to see Slippy utilised by both sides as a weapon of violence in this crazy, mindless war – back in my day he was far more benignly used as a lampstand, or for helping Sid and pals see over the wall for the sold-out football match. A few characters who were there when I read it in the 1970s are still going strong - Odd Ball, Sammy Shrink, Fuss Pot and Joker, plus a reprint of Hover Boots – and a few others who survived from other comics which had already bitten the dust: Mustapha Million, Bumpkin Billionaires and Sweeny Toddler. Newer strips such as Watford Gapp and Australian soap parody The Ossies look like good stuff, but it's barely recognisable as the comic that once was mine – such is life I guess. Everything changes, and if it didn't then our memories would seem less precious.