On this day, 1 April 1989: Whizzer and Chips
For this blogger, reading this Whizzer and Chips is a bit like when in Doctor Who the Doctor announces ‘We’re going to the far future! To the end of time itself! Further than we’ve ever been before!’ Which seems to happen quite a few times, and the end of time itself always looks different from the time before. In fact, this Whizzer and Chips doesn’t date from the end of time (it ran for another eighteen months before being merged into Buster), nor is it true that we’ve never been this far before (I featured the 15 April 1989 issue, when the comic incorporated Scouse Mouse, last year). But it does seem very far off and futuristic compared to the Whizzer and Chips that I knew so well from my own childhood.
A few familiar faces are still there. Sid Burgon’s Joker is still on great form, owning the cover as if he were the patron saint of April Fool’s Day (which he really ought to be) – he even has Sweeny Toddler diving for cover. Sweeny’s notable by his absence from this issue, by the way, although his strip was still appearing most weeks at this time. Terry Bave’s Sammy Shrink is now the lead strip in the Chips section of the comic, although oddly there is no title on his story. Also, Sammy seems to have developed the ability to grow and shrink at will, which I’m sure wasn’t always the case. Bave’s Odd Ball and Toy Boy are also strips that haven’t changed too much, and this issue also includes ‘Orrible Hole by Reg Parlett, The Bumpkin Billionaires by either Mike Lacey or Jimmy Hansen (I still can’t tell these two apart), Penny Dreadful by David Mostyn, Super Mum by Dicky Howett, Junior Rotter by Trevor Metcalfe and Tiny Tycoon by Tom Williams. I’m pretty sure that a number of these are reprints, however – certainly ‘Orrible, Penny and Tiny!
But there is so much that has changed. There is far less of a two-comics-in-one feel. Chips still has its own front page, and is described as ‘Rival comic to Whizzer’, but not really as a pull-out as it once was. Sid’s Snake and Shiner no longer have their own flagship strips, but a combined Sid vs Shiner story in the middle pages of Chips – the pair of them are raided this week by Joker, who used to be a pure Whizz-kid agent. Stories such as Bobby’s Ghoul, Watford Gapp (with stunning Tom Paterson artwork), Paper Boy, Wonder Wimp and The Ossies are less well known to me. It’s odd too to see Sweet Tooth drawn here by Barry Glennard (thanks for identification, Andy Boal!). Familiar yet unfamiliar too is Mustapha Million by Frank McDiarmid (although fun to see a character who I’m sure is Frank’s Cheeky pop up as one of Mustapha’s gang in this story).