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Toonhound presents...






British Comic Strips
   Cracker #1 and Sammy

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      publisher: DC Thomson
      start date:
18th Jan 1975
       end date: 11th Sept 1976
                        87 issues

    "It's a cracker!"

    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 Splasho Brushless
    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 fashion some
    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...


    1st issue strips
   Young Foo
   Simple Spyman
   Big-Head Branny
   Spookie Cookie
   Castaways On Planet Doom
   Billy The Kid
   Hector The Collector
   The Snookums
   The Headhunters
   Spookum Skool
   Joe Soap
   Curly's Commandos
   Sammy Says
   The Nutters  
   Dunder Ed
   Iron Hand
   Mad Ad

    Later additions

   Little 'Orror
   Fiends Beans
   Wonder Wellies

Little 'Orror...

Cracker's free gifts
#1 - Squeeze' n' Squeak Fun Balloon
#2 - The Cracker Bang Noise Maker
#3 - Wheels And Squeals
       Facts-And-Fun Book
#4 - The Funny-Face-Maker


    Cracking connections...

    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 connections:

    » Cracker had its back-cover Mad Ads. One month after its demise
        Fleetway launched Krazy comic which became renowned for its
        own backcover gags and disguises...

    » 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, in
        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 influence
        for Fleetway's B. Ware - Caretaker, who starred in School Fun and Buster...

    » And School Fun of course, was Fleetway's school-themed comic from
        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 to
        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
        Wellies 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
    Karate Kid. 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!

     Big-Head Branny - an inspiration for B. Ware?  Wonder Wellies - DC Thomson-styleFred feeds himself Fiend's Beans...


      On the web

       26pigs features more of Cracker, including some fine reminiscences
       and cover scans to peruse...

       Comics UK
       Comics UK is a great comics resource and Cracker is handsomely
       indexed in the Family Tree section...

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© DC Thomson / F2008