On this day, 30 September 1978: Cheeky
On this day, 30 September 1978 … A week in the life of Cheeky was a fairly routine affair pegged on Cheeky’s unbreakable daily appointments, such as his favourite telly programme 6 Million Dollar Gran, the Skateboard Squad rushing past him on the street, his pal Oscar inviting him inside to watch one his home movies, and all the gang descending on the local cinema every Saturday to watch a cartoon and a serial movie and to terrorise the Commissionaire and Ursula the Usherette. In this sense the structure of the comic was rigid and predictable, but the joys of Cheeky were the energy and constant surprises of Cheeky’s panel-to-panel encounters within each page. The non-stop gags exchanged with members of a huge cast of supporting characters are exhausting to read now but I remember loving jokes like this when I was 7 and 8, so I must have lapped them up at the time.
This week’s issue provided thrill-power overload, however, as The Mystery Comic was reproduced in full for Cheeky’s readers. Previously a shadowy publication seen only by Cheeky himself (each week he would discover his copy in an unlikely place, but the only strip from it that he would share with readers was Mustapha Million), The Mystery Comic was now to be an eight-page pull-out supplement in every issue of Cheeky. Mustapha Million was joined by the all-new adventures of Tub, Why, Dad, Why?, Elephant on the Run and Disaster Des, plus an adventure serial, Mystery Boy, reprinted from early Whizzer and Chips.
Niblet’s superb Cheeky Weekly blog has the complete chapter and verse of The Mystery Comic stats so I recommend a visit there if you’d like to know more. It was a simple addition to Cheeky but one that captured my imagination as a lad, so I love discovering it in the centre pages even today. There was something genuinely mysterious about this fictional comic, which wasn’t available in the shops, becoming real. I reckon its front page, bordered with a pink-washed crowd of freaky characters drawn by Ed McHenry, was a significant part of The Mystery Comic’s arcane appeal. What was with that guy who had a football for a head? Or the wolf man? Or Sherlock Holmes’ enormous magnified eye? Or that moustachioed walrus?? Deliciously weird.