Comicbook: Whizzer and Chips
Whizzer and Chips
was a British comic
which first started in 1969. The comic ran until 1990 when it merged
with a comic called Buster
(a spin off of sorts of Andy Capp
). It was similiar in style to The Beano
and The Dandy
and was a direct competitor to the two being published by a different publisher Fleetway
as opposed to The Beano
and The Dandy
which were published by DC Thomson
. The comic's gimmik was that it was two comics in one, one called Whizzer
and the other called Chips
which was a pull-out section. These comics were supposedly rivals with so called raids (which involved characters from one comic entering the other) between the two being a common occurrence, readers were encouraged to become Whizz-kids or Chip-ites (this referred to which comic they supported) and each comic had a different leader Sid from a strip called Sid's Snake
for Whizzer and Shiner for Chips. The distinction between the two titles was later emphasised by changing the duotone strips in Chips
from red to blue.
It incorporated many, many other comics in mergers over the years and finally merged with Buster
, but in any case the distinctions were unclear at any point because Fleetway would publish compilations drawing on strips from all their comics put together and would reprint strips which debuted in other comics. Therefore, not all the strips mentioned below will necessarily have appeared under the original title.
Though they eventually died out in The Eighties
, formerly occasional adventure strips with an Art Shift
to a more realistic style were included as well as the humour strip majority.
This comic (and its strips) provide examples of:
- A Boy and His X: One of the most common themes for strips, with the 'X' being either an animal, some sort of alien or etheral creature, or a gadget with strange powers.
- Sid's Snake (Sid and his giant snake Slippy)
- Ray Gunn (eponymous boy and his Ray Gun with settings controlled by Billions of Buttons allowing it to do whatever the plot required)
- Minnie's Mixer (see below)
- X-Ray Specs (A boy and his, well, X-Ray Specs)
- Odd Ball (a boy and his sentient shapeshifting magical football...thing)
- All-Ghouls School: A strip called Strange Hill which featured a normal teacher with monster students.
- Which was only one of several strips based on the concept of 'weird school where normal teacher vainly tries to carry on as usual'. Others included Stage School (all the students are budding superstars who don't care about normal lessons) and Shipwrecked School (stuck on a desert island).
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: "Animalad", who can transform into any animal.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: "My Bruvver"
- Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better: The "Beat Your Neighbour" strip, in which two boys boast that their dads are better at/have a better one of something and egg them on in an Escalating War, only for this to cause a disaster that in the last panel leaves them boasting that their dad "has more broken bones than your dad!" or similar.
- Arab Oil Sheikh: "Mustafa Million", with the twist that he's a young boy and living in the UK, often misunderstanding British traditions and getting the help from his British friends to escape his private tutor.
- Arch-Enemy: The two comics in thise two comics in one comic Whizzer was Chips were supposedly archenemies.
- Brainy Baby: Baby Boffin from the S.O.S. Squad, who invents all kinds of advanced technology and vehicles for the team but inevitably they all end up being pram-themed. (At the time this was probably intended as a parodic exaggeration of the common Child Prodigy / Teen Genius trope in adventure series).
- Comics Merger: The comic Knockout merged with Whizzer and Chips in 1973, followed by Krazy in 1978, Whoopee! in 1985 (Which itself had merged with three other comics Shiver and Shake in 1974, followed by Cheeky in 1980 and Wow! in 1983) and finally Scouse Mouse in 1989.
- Conspicuous Trenchcoat: "Hit Kid" (played for laughs). A Vigilante Boy who goes around getting revenge on people (usually adults) who steal from kids and the like, and is paid in sweets.
- Enfant Terrible: Sweeny Toddler
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Strips involving a team of kids who each embodied a single characteristic such as the fat one, the dim one, etc. were (and are) common, but this was parodied/deconstructed with "The Group" strip, whose members had actual names like "Brain", "Fatso", "Shorty" and "Stupid".
- Foregone Conclusion: A lot of strips always ended the same way, such as Shiner getting a black eye; often the humour came from how the result would come from an unexpected source, given that the chracters were frequently Genre Savvy and avoided the obvious.
- Fun with Acronyms: Super Steve's usual villains were the NME, a KGB-type group of Dirty Communists from Ruritania.
- Incredible Shrinking Man: Sammy Shrink, originally from Knockout. Unusually it wasn't a reversible transformation, he was stuck that way.
- Initially at least. Later he was restored to normal height, but suffered random shrink attacks. He had no control over when he suddenly grew back, either.
- Involuntary Shapeshifting / Jekyll & Hyde: "Guy Gorilla", who transforms into a gorilla every time he (usually accidentally) eats peanuts.
- Literal Genie: The strip "Pete's Pockets" sometimes worked this way, with his pockets capable of giving him anything he wanted but messing up in this fashion. Other times they failed due to Mondegreen (he asks for a toaster, they send him a boaster, a coaster and a poster).
- Magical Girlfriend: There was a strip named Bobby's Ghoul, which was about a boy who had a ghost for a girlfriend.
- Magical Native American: In "Sonny Storm", one of the longest-lasting adventure strips, a boy discovers his grandfather used to live with the Sioux Indians and, among his old things in the attic, finds a magical rattle that lets him control the weather.
- Merging Machine: There was a strip called "Minnie's Mixer", which played this for laughs. The eponymous device looked like an electric food mixer, but when pointed at two objects in close proximity could fuse them together. Most often used to mix people or pets with objects. Fortunately the process was reversible.
- Mundane Fantastic: The "S.O.S. Squad" strip. It's yet another strip based on a team of kids each embodying a 'hat' of an attribute going around helping people, yet the people they help out include an alien who's crashed his flying saucer, retrieving a possession from a house in a now-flooded valley by turning it into a giant hovercraft, and so on.
- National Stereotypes: The strip Worldwide School was about a multi-national group of students travelling around the world to all their home countries in turn, accompanied by their accident-prone teacher. About 50% of the time stereotypes were played straight and the other 50% they were referenced and then debunked.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: One "Store Wars" strip from The Eighties had the visit of the Lady Mayoress, "Mrs Hatcher", an expy of Margaret Thatcher who had the same background and views. Unusually for British comics in this period it didn't get too political, with the joke being that "Mr. Superstore" thinks she'll like him because of her approving of free enterprise—which she does—but she likes Bloggs and Son even more because it reminds her of growing up in her father's own small grocery shop.
- Origins Episode: Several strips were given one, usually years after they started, with the subtitle Special "How It All Began" Story.
- Plot Tailored to the Party: Often used with the Super Seven.
- Punny Name: Used more often than not.
- Recycled In Space: A lot of strips basically consisted of taking whatever was popular on television (especially imported American programmes) and putting a spin on it that was either 1) British, 2) involved children or school to fit the target audience, or 3) both. Some renamings over the years were required to avoid being sued.
- "The Six Billion Dollar Boy", later "Super Steve", was a British version of The Six Million Dollar Man as a boy. Made obvious by his civilian identity, Steve Ford (the original being Steve Austin, both Ford and Austin being car companies).
- "Shipwrecked School" was Gilligan's Island but with schoolkids and their teacher.
- "The Bumpkin Billionaires" was The Beverly Hillbillies, but set in the UK and with the twist that they were forever trying to get rid of their money, only to be foiled by the Reset Button.
- "The Krazy Gang" were based on The Double-Deckers.
- "Animalad" (from Whoopee! originally) may have been inspired by Manimal.
- Slobs Versus Snobs: A very common basis for strips. Examples include:
- "The Toffs and the Toughs" (who eventually became supporting characters to the similar-concept "Smarty Pants and Tatty Ed")
- "Ivor Lott and Tony Broke" (originally from Cor!!; later incorporating their Distaff Counterparts Milly O'Naire and Penny Less)
- "Top of the Class". A harassed teacher tries to cope with the fact that half his class are posh swots, the other half are lower-class roughs, and the two groups hate each other. Unlike the other examples above, where editorial sympathy was clearly with the lower-class characters, Upper-Class Twit / Aristocrats Are Evil were in full play and Underdogs Never Lose, in this case both sides were presented as equal and one side usually didn't come out on top.
- Springtime for Hitler: Fairly common plot. The Bumpkin Billionaires' plans to lose their fortune often end up making them even richer. Mr Superstore's plans in Store Wars to drive Bloggs and Son out of business often make them even more successful at his own expense.
- Super Team: The Super Seven (originally from Knockout before the merger) who all had their own separate strips, but would team up for specials.
- Totally Radical: Ringo, from "The Group" (deliberately; the strip ran in The Seventies and he was a Disco Dan still stuck in The Sixties)
- Uncle Pennybags: Inverted with "Lolly Pop", to a ludicrous degree, to the point where one wonders how he even manages to run such a profitable business empire if he refuses to spend any money on even the barest essentials.
- Underdogs Never Lose: The strip Store Wars, which was about a Corrupt Corporate Executive villain running a huge supermarket and his rivalry with a small traditional corner shop down the road run by Mr Bloggs and his son. Had a similar dynamic to the Wile E Coyote And The Roadrunner cartoons—although you should in theory sympathise with the one who's being targeted, in practice the villain becomes sympathetic just because of the Foregone Conclusion of his Epic Fail every week.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Quite a common gimmick.
- "Animalad", who can transform into any animal.
- "Faceache", 'The Boy with a Thousand Faces', though most of them are The Grotesque.