Comics of the Eighties No 1: Whizzer and Chips

Peter Gray's paintings 357

Whizzer and Chips was an unusual comic in many ways. For one thing, it had a strange dual status. Whereas Whoopee! and Wow!, another comic of the Eighties, was the result of two comics merging together, neither Whizzer and Chips had ever existed as separate entities. Although there was, in fact, a very old comic called Chips but this was wholly unrelated. Whizzer And Chips was always Whizzer and Chips from the moment it started in 1969 until right until the point it finally merged into the slightly more enduring Buster in 1990.

“Two in one: two times the fun!” was the slogan. Although no longer in total than any other comic, Whizzer was on the outside while Chips, in theory, a separate comic with its own title page, began about a third of the way in. Whizzer would begin again (with no real fanfare) at some point towards the end. I seem to remember the comic vaguely encouraged you to detach the Chips segment from Whizzer. I never bothered. At the same time, the two comics were “not to be sold separately”. I doubt anyone tried.

Although there was no real difference in the content of the stories in each section, a fierce rivalry was encouraged between the two comics. Readers who favoured Whizzer were known as “Whizz kids” while those who preferred Chips were less attractively known as “Chip-ites”. I think I was both at different times although like everyone else I suspect I always read both to get my money’s worth (Whizzer and Chips did, after all, cost 22p in 1984). Occasionally, one story would defect from Whizzer to Chips or vice versa. Eagle-eyed readers could also try to spot “raiders” from the other comic on a weekly basis. For example, Sammy Shrink might appear in the background of the story Fuss Pot.

The lead story in Whizzer was called Sid’s Snake (titter ye not!) about a boy who had a pet snake called Slippy. Shiner, the main story in Chips had an ever less promising premise, focusing on a boy called Shiner who repeatedly received ”shiners,” that is black eyes.

As with many comic stories, I admire the ingenuity of anyone who could make such a flimsy premise endure, in this case, for over twenty years. Given a week to think up as many scenarios about a boy receiving “shiners” that I could, I think I would struggle to come up with even one. Yet the author or authors of Shiner must have come up with over a thousand. And who in the world has ever received multiple black eyes anyway? Surely his eyes would have been ruined? Shiner was in fact supposed to be an aspiring boxer. I suspect the strip rather glossed over the realities of boxing as a profession.

What other stories were there?

(I admit, I now have no idea which of these stories were in Whizzer and which were in Chips):

Joker: A boy obsessed with practical jokes. He always wore a buttonhole which squirted water at passersby. This story made me briefly obsessed with the idea of going to a joke shop. This was difficult as there were few of these anywhere by the Eighties, at least none that I could find. Certainly not in Peterborough anyway.

Fuss Pot: One of the few girl characters. Began every sentence with “I am fussy about…” e.g. “I’m fussy about getting the right shoes”. This actually quickly grew tiresome both for the other characters but also for the reader.  Like Joker and Sammy Shrink she first appeared in the Seventies comic Knockout.

Junior Rotter: A juvenile version of J.R from the TV series Dallas.

Sweet Tooth: A boy with one prominent tooth. He loved confectionary but was constantly being menaced by an obese bully known as Greedy Greg.

Pongo Snodgrass: A beautifully named strip about a disgustingly rancid boy. I think this had ended by the time I started reading the comic (1984) but I remember it from the monthly Best of… anthologies.

Sweeney Toddler: Another good name for a story about a malevolent infant. Sweeney terrorised his family and dog Daft Henry. He spoke in a weird babyish fashion e.g. “Me’s having lots of fun today readers!”il_fullxfull.378337555_p2qz He actually joined the comic from Whoopee! Which merged into Whizzer and Chips in 1985 but (Wikipedia tells me) had actually first appeared in Shiver and Shake comic in 1973

Worldwide School: A weird one about a travelling international school presided over by a Mr Pickwick-style headmaster and peopled by a class of national stereotypes.

Lazy Bones: Fairly self explanatory. A very lazy boy.

Sammy Shrink: Again, a bit obvious. A tiny boy.

For whatever reason, I lost interest in being either a Whizz-kid or a Chip-ite by the time I reached secondary school age in the late Eighties. A lot of other children must have done so too as the comic ended after twenty one years in 1990. By that time I was so immersed in 2000AD, Viz, The Eagle and trying to produce my own comics with friends (as well as schoolwork obviously) that the comic I’d been so mad about when I was seven, died without me even noticing.

But let’s not forget it eh readers?

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