On this day, 17 April 1976: Whoopee!
On this day, 17 April 1976 … I was out on the streets of London yesterday, exercising my human right (while I still have it) to protest about … well, just about everything: health, homes, jobs, education, injustice and the fact that we’re being governed by a state, corporations, banks and mainstream media who are in it entirely for their own self-serving interests – whether they be power, prestige, survival or wealth – rather than as representatives of the people. We’re living in a pretty grim society at the moment. Compassion is thin on the ground, as is concern for the world that our children will inherit. I love my kids and it genuinely terrifies me to see them growing up in a state in which education, healthcare (physical and mental), justice, privacy, free speech, responsible media, basic love and decency and an environmentally stable world are likely to be considered privileges – or at best, rewards to be bought or earned competitively – not rights.
Is there any point in protesting? Many say it's futile, that huge demonstrations such as yesterday's have no influence over those in power. That's possibly true, possibly not. I know there will be no immediate response but I do believe that radical change can be achieved through the steady build of pressure and belief – what we initially think impossible can gradually seem possible, and once enough people can see what's possible then we're on the home straight. Also, if you feel disenfranchised then it's important for your own sake to take opportunities to express yourself, to have a voice and to feel (and show) solidarity with others who feel the same way.
How did we come to be living in such a heartless society? Well, all sorts of reasons. One reason could be an epidemic attack by Evil Eye. One more likely reason – certainly not the only one, but a pretty significant one in short terms – is the idolisation, and perverse misuse, of Money. All of which brings us, via a tortuous screech of brakes and an ill-advised but necessary hard-left turn into Satire Alley, at the end of which we find the front page of today’s edition of Whoopee!, where those untaxed pools-winning folks the Bumpkin Billionaires are literally burning bootfuls of lovely lolly. ‘Morning Bumpkins! Bank Manager here! And what might you be putting your money into today?’ Hey, Pa, how about HMRC?
There are happier moments elsewhere in this issue, with several of my all-time favourite strips – Smiler, Scared-stiff Sam, Frankie Stein, Sweeny Toddler, Scream Inn, Evil Eye and Lolly Pop – on show, and part two of Whoopee!’s Super Pop Pull-out poster, featuring a motley line-up of pouting heroes of glam. I found the other three parts so as to approximate how this might have looked on our 1976 bedroom walls (apologies to caricaturist-supreme Alf Saporito for any scrungeifying of the faces that may have occurred sue to my poor handling of the panorama camera on my phone):
Imagine this lot (I’ve no idea who most of them are, by the way), and yourself wearing a pair of those rockin’ Norvic clogs (presumably intended for boys as well as girls in those more enlightened times – although please take note: ‘These illustrations are non-representative’), and the fact that this comic is forty years old – forty years! – hits home. One needs this reminder because the quality of these superb comic strips themselves, rather like the inequality of our less than superb society, hasn’t changed at all.