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IT'S A PUPPET!
& finger puppets
& comic books
start date: 18th
end date: 11th Sept 1976
Cracker was something a little bit different
from DC Thomson, an attempt at
something more eccentric, a little bit 'whacky'.
The comic was hosted by a
baby-faced terror called Sammy who introduced
each strip and, together with
his dog Flash, passed comments on the events
and happenings in each issue.
Young Sammy revelled in mischief and mayhem.
He encouraged readers to send
in pictures of Ghastly Geezers for his weekly
gallery and brought us a Special
Report each issue revealing the truth behind
such seemingly innocuous past-times
as hiking, or the truth about trees, or kissing.
Cracker's strips included Young Foo - The Kung
Fu Kid, Big-Head Branny -
The Strong-Arm Janny, a gang of nutty kids called
Curly's Commandos, a trio
of cooky squirrels known as The Nutters, and a ghostly
cook called Spooky
Cookie. There was also a pull-out style centre
section called Skooldaze
which featured The Snookums, The Skookums and The
Spookums in a
trio of school-based strips. The back page of every
issue was devoted to a
spoof Mad Ad, this was a full-page colour advert
for such madcap creations
as Dapper Flappers false ears, Puddle Bootsies and
Paint - "place
tin in middle of room, open lid, light fuse..."
Splasho was obviously the brand used by Mr
Bean, Rowan Atkinson's
monosyllabic star who painted his room in a similar
twenty years later!
Cracker survived for just 87 issues before it
succumbed to that deadly comics
disease - the merger. The title was incorporated
into DC Thomson's broadsheet
title Beezer where it featured as special centre-section,
just like the Skooldaze
section had been within Cracker's own pages...
Castaways On Planet Doom
Billy The Kid
Hector The Collector
#1 - Squeeze' n' Squeak Fun Balloon
#2 - The Cracker Bang Noise Maker
#3 - Wheels And Squeals
#4 - The Funny-Face-Maker
What's intriguing about Cracker is the way that
its strips borrowed freely from
past DC Thomson successes as well as from its
main publishing rival Fleetway
IPC Magazines. Cracker, in turn, inspired several
themes and strips in later
Fleetway publications. The comic was certainly
caught up in the melee between
the two publishers. Which came first? - Who knows,
it's a chicken and egg
situation, but here are some of the more interesting
Cracker had its back-cover Mad Ads. One month after
Fleetway launched Krazy
comic which became renowned for its
own backcover gags and
A later Cracker strip, Fiend's Beans starred a lad called
Fred who liked to
dine on magic beans from
Transylvania which turned him into a monster.
Four years later, Fleetway's
Jackpot comic introduced Full O'Beans,
which a chap called Freddie
would guzzle down tins of Ben's Beans and turn
into a hulking superhero...
Big-Head Branny - The Strong-Arm Janny was the unmistakable
for Fleetway's B. Ware
- Caretaker, who starred in School Fun and Buster...
And School Fun of course, was Fleetway's school-themed
the eighties which looked
very much like the Schooldaze section of Cracker.
What's more, School
Fun was a short-lived title quickly merged into Buster
comic where it was presented
- you guessed it! - as a pull-out centre section...
And let's go the whole hog here. In Cracker #25 we were introduced
young Jimmie Kellie and
his Wonder Wellies. Eight years later, in Fleetway's
Buster comic artist Dave
Follows brought us Willy and his own Wonder
for which he picked up a cartoonist of the year award. Not only
that, but Cracker's strip
was drawn by the the same artist who'd
previously darn Grizzly
Bear-Hug for Monster Fun comic. Struth! - Talk
about swings and roundabouts...
There are many more connections, of course. Young
Foo was just like Fleetway's
Curly's Commandos were just like The Pirates in Whizzer & Chips.
Little 'Orror was 'inspired' by Draculass
in Monster Fun. Gosh, you could
play this game all day!
26pigs features more of Cracker, including some fine reminiscences
and cover scans to peruse...
Comics UK is a great comics
resource and Cracker is handsomely
indexed in the Family Tree section...
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