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Whoopee!

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Whoopee

the debut issue, from early 1974

A comparatively late addition to IPC's stable, Whoopee! would nevertheless become the last member of a long running triumvirate of humour comics which dominated much of the kids' humour market in the seventies and eighties, the others of course being Buster and Whizzer and Chips. The originally more adventure based Buster had been around since 1960 and Whizzer & Chips since 1969 but Whoopee!, the baby of the bunch, didn't show its dirt smudged face until 9th March 1974. Several of the early strips didn't make much of an impression on readers: photographer Snap Happy, Clobber, Ad Lad, Wolf Pack, Lunchin' Vulture and Striker the ship's cat amongst them. Others are derivative of better known strips from other titles, like The Upper Crusts and the Lazy Loafers, which is basically just The Toffs and the Toughs playing at the wrong speed. But Whoopee! did have many more strips which have remained firmly embedded in the memories of its readers. One of the longest running was Scared Stiff Sam, a lovable lunkhead who was scared of his own shadow (and who had a similarly nervous dog, the innappropriately named 'Fury'). Sam was one of the title's original lineup and was still appearing as late as 1980, though he was later squeezed out in favour of other strips. He's probably still hiding in a cupboard in IPC's offices.
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Another strip from the early issues was Spy School, a kind of junior Man From Uncle setup, and there was also Hee Gee and his Nag, about a henpecked horse and his shrewish wife, but better remembered are the ultra materialistic Toy Boy and the Bumpkin Billionaires, a family of hicks loosely based on TV's the Beverley Hillbillies who were constantly trying-and failing-to rid themselves of their unwanted fortune and being thwarted by the efforts of their bank manager, who wanted them to keep it all. Like Scared Stiff Sam and Toy Boy, the Bumpkins were fixtures pretty much throughout the comic's run. Many others fell by the wayside though, as Whoopee! took in refugees from various failed titles through mergers.
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Unusually, early issues also had a table of contents.

Daisy Jones's Locket was another long running strip, the story of a girl who had a magical locket containing a genie, while Clever Dick and Dozy Mick were two mischevous schoolboys. Ernie Learner learned a new trade every week, and there was also an adventure serial, the beautifully executed 'The Lone Ranger' (then being repeated on TV). Rather like Scared Stiff Sam in some ways was Willy Worry ('yes, he will!'), and therte was also a page which guest starred characters from other comics each week, possibly an attempt at boosting circulation.

In 1975, Whoopee! merged with the short lived Shiver and Shake and gained some characters who would become invaluable to its continued success. One, which lasted until 1983 or thereabouts, was Lolly Pop, about a rich but miserly businessman forever being outsmarted by his deprived son, Archie. This became a reader's favourite.
Evil Eye

The real highlights of Whoopee! for many readers though, both before and after the merger with Shiver & Shake, were the comedic horror strips, something of an IPC tradition and one in which Whoopee! seemed to specialize. IPC's creator's had seemingly always liked this peculiar sub genre, hence the creation of Shiver & Shake and the later Monster Fun, and thanks to talented creator's like Ken Reid ( who created Frankie Stein, Tom Horror's World, Martha's Monster Makeup, Faceache and various other similarly themed strips for a number of IPC publications, Frankie Stein ending up in Whoopee! after starting out elsewhere) and Brian Walker ( creator of Scream Inn and The Ghost Train), so did the readers. Other strips in this vein in Whoopee! included Werewilf, Creepy Car, 'Orrible 'Ole, Ghoul Getters (a kind of prototype Ghostbusters) and Evil Eye, as well as Robert Nixon's Fun Fear. Possibly the best remembered examples of the type though are Ken Reid's wonderful series of back page pin-ups, World Wide Weirdies and Wanted Posters, commissioned following the success of his similarly themed Creepy Creations in Shiver & Shake. The real star of Whoopee! though, was Sweeny Toddler, originally created by Leo Baxendale in Shiver & Shake #1 in 1973 but by now drawn by Tom Paterson, whose distinctive style made the uncontrollable baby's antics a firm favourite for years. Sweeny eventually outlived Whoopee!, moving first into Whizzer & Chips (drawn at that stage by Keith Reynolds) and then into Buster. His adventures were for many years written by Graham Exton, and he was Whoopee's cover star for two lengthy stints.

In 1976, Whoopee! got a new logo and cover layout and a number of new strips including the aforementioned Werewilf, plus Gook the TV Spook (a kind of follow up to the previously established Shiver, though this ghost was obsessed with television) and the inane Smiler, while 1977 brought the unmemorable Thumpty Dumpty, Dicky Howett's Supermum (Howett would later go on to create strips like Hulk the Menace for Marvel UK) and the nostalgia obsessed Dads as Lads, as well as Kids Court.
Willy Worry
Drawn in a rather more realistic style was The Spectacular Adventures of Willie Bunk, about a schoolboy who had been given a spare pair of glasses which changed how he viewed events for a short time. The baffling bins inevitably led to Willie performing amazing feats such as beating up a pair of bullies while convinced that he was an Indian Chief. The late seventies also brought Maid Marian (a maid, called Marian), The Spooktacular Seven (Brian Walker's follow up to Scream Inn, featuring many of the same characters now running an agency somewhat akin to TV's Rentaghost), Bookworm, Ivor Swap, the tale telling Blabbermouth , Claws (a strip about a wily cat which later became Claws vs Caws with the introduction of his rival, a crow) and the wonderfully witty Sheerluck & Son, about a dumb detective and his smarter kid.
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In 1980, Whoopee! absorbed Cheeky Weekly, resulting in a sizable chunk of the page count being given over to what was effectively a mini Cheeky comic in the centre, with several older strips being squeezed out to accomodate them. Their replacements were often worth it though, such as the wonderful (if stereotypical) Mustapha Mi££ion), Calculator Kid, Cheeky himself and the $6, 000, 000 Dollar Gran. Less memorable perhaps were Paddywack, Chip and Stage School. Oddly, thes strips squeezed out the ever popular Evil Eye and Brian walker's ever versatile ghouls, which was rather a shame. Possibly comedy horror was considered to have gone out of style by IPC.

By 1981, the comic was in something of a decline, with new characters such as the Cavers and Blinkety Blink provbing inadequate replacements for some of the readers favourites which had been discontinued. Only Sweeny, Frankie Stein, Toy Boy, Lolly Pop and the Bumpkins remained from Whoopee's most successful period, even Scared Stiff Sam having finally fled his spiritual home for good. Cheeky's comic had been fully integrated into Whoopee!, but in 1983 another merger took place with the short lived title Wow!, and the new comic more or less dominated. Cheeky's solo strip was dropped soon after this, though Mustapha remained, and the new, incoming strips included Snack Man (based on the then popular Pac Man game, this actually ousted Sweeny from the cover for awhile), Family Trees (about a family of ambulatory trees on the run from a lumberjack), Shipwreck School, Boy Boss, KBR (Kids Band Radio, based on the already in decline CB craze), Animalad, Ossie, Gran's Gang (featuring Granny Potts from $6, 000, 000 Dollar Gran, which had previously been renamed Robot Gran), Spare Part Kitt (a story about the ludicrously named Kit Katz, a boy with artificial slip on muscles), Team Mates, Kid Comic and the imaginative Creepy Comix, about a kid whose horror comics came to life when he needed help. Most of the new strips though were not well received (unsurprisingly, given that Wow! had lasted less than a year, making IPC's decision to let these characters dominate Whoopee! rather hard to understand) and on 30th March 1985 Whoopee! bit the dust after 572 issues, and was merged with the more successful Whizzer & Chips. This in turn was absorbed by Buster in October 1990.

See Also The Best of Whoopee!

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