1984 still seems very recent to me but for any younger readers out there no doubt it seems a lifetime ago, or even a time before you were born. I remember on one visit to the IPC offices at King's Reach Tower that year, Bob Paynter (Group Editor of the humour comics) gave me this copy of Whoopee! dated 29th December 1984, a few weeks before it was due to hit the shops. I was immediately impressed by Robert Nixon's excellent cover. Nixon was an aficionado of Roy Wilson's style and brought the same sense of fun and decoration to this cover as Wilson had on Christmas covers of previous decades. Robert Nixon drew everything on this cover, including the Christmas page borders, the logo, and even the price!
Whoopee!, launched in 1974, was one of IPC's most successful comics, running for 11 years before merging into Whizzer and Chips. This then, is the comic's last Christmas issue.
Inside, kicking off the 32 page comic was the lively Boy Boss drawn by the great Frank McDiarmid. Christmas pages always allow artists to go the extra mile (at no extra fee I hasten to add) and Frank decorated the borders with loads of festive stuff for this year...
Gran's Gang was a quirky idea and it needed an artist with a funny, distinct style to deliver the goods. Ian Knox was the perfect choice. Just look at the physical appearances of those characters!
Sweeny Toddler took up the centre pages of that issue and what a great job by Tom Paterson! (I'm guessing Graham Exton was the scriptwriter on this.) "Roast toddler stuffed with jelly babies and dolly mixtures" it says on the menu. Yes it's Santa about to eat a baby! Perhaps the most horrific image ever seen in an IPC comic, - and in a full page splash panel too. This is closer in tradition to the Krampus.
How could anyone top that? Well, perhaps not that issue's Frankie Stein strip. Robert Nixon was a fantastic artist and his version of Frankie was very popular indeed but I've always felt the fun-styled IPC Frankie was never a patch on Ken Reid's original for Wham!. Then again, times and tastes change, and as I was 25 when this issue of Whoopee! came out I was far older than the readership it was intended for so what do I know? Compare this page below by Bob Nixon to the one by Ken Reid from 18 years earlier and see what you think.
Plunge into the past again to see another Christmas comic with all the trimmings soon!