Oh You Are Cheeky But I Like You!

And with apologies to Dick Emery, my latest find is thanks to my friend Doug who has more searches on Ebay than Schnorbitz has had for Bernie Winters! Doug’s big comic thing is first issues and mine is anything comic related but as time has gone by, I have gotten more and more interested in how the comics were pitched, created and got to that crucial first issue where I, as a kid, would go ooh and fork out my hard earned pennies.

I got my first dummy comic, Terra Nova back in the early 2000s as Tony O’Donnell was downsizing before he moved to the Orkneys.  I have seen the gorgeous art that Graham Manley pitched to D C Thomson for the reboot of Wilson which I believe was going to feature in Renga.  And now after a decade I now have my second dummy issue and that is for Cheeky.

Now this is not going to be an exhaustive examination of Cheeky as that is being ably looked after by the Cheeky Weekly blogspot, but a look at the differences between the dummy that would have been prepared for Bob Paynter’s approval and the final version that would have been published way back in October 1977.

The first obvious difference is that the dummy has this great big sign printed on it to make everyone aware that this was the dummy comic and not the final authorised version.

And that is the only difference in the covers.  The next page that is different is the intro page.  The first thing I notices was the big disclaimer at the top of the page.

As soon as I saw that, I knew that it was money well spent to get a small piece of British comics history.  However to figure out what else was changed, I needed to dig out a copy of Cheeky that was published and as if by magic, here is the page to compare it to.

As you can see, there are a few significant changes such as full instructions on how to build your Red Jet Rattler and the not so subtle hint to buy issue 2 with free competitions.

The next big change was to the artist to Fangs of Fear, so I am going to start off with the version that we all know and who can say no to a bit of Massimo Bellardinelli?

But the difference I noticed first was that this narrative between Cheeky and his Mum was slightly different, then I noticed that the layout of the story was different which then smacked me in the face with the mental equivalent of a wet kipper with the realisation that the artist was different!

So if anyone knows who the first artist is, can you drop me a line so I can at least give them a name check as their art is rather lush.

Update: Thanks to the hugely talented David Roach, we now reckon that the mystery artist was Harry Bishop.  Harry did a large amount of work on the western stories and there are some stunning examples of his work out there, but I will stick with using just the one from the newspaper strip Gun Law to illustrate why I believe David to be correct.  The reason I am using this one is that the use of cross-hatching is almost identical to the last two panels of the Cheeky page.

The original can be found on Comic Art Fans along with a lot more examples of Harry’s work.

The final difference between the dummy and the published issue was page 15.  This was a feature that is best described as the targeted adverts we all see daily on social media. The idea appears to make the reader think that if this is what the people who make the comic think is cool, then maybe I can spend some more of my hard earned pennies on something else.   When I was younger, this used to work on me.  Nowadays, it’s a complete bust as I spend the hard earned pennies on any other comics I can find!

I must admit that I find it interesting that the free advert for Airfix made it through, but that the subtle hint that the 1978 Krazy annual was at all good book shops did not.  I also found it fascinating as a fan as this is one of the few times that I have seen Loren Ipsum being used in print.  And since I found out about the history of Lorem Ipsum in the last 15 years, I have been a bit of a fan.

I hope you have all found this comparison a fascinating and I hope you all enjoyed the article too!


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