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Welcome to the Cheeky Weekly blog! Cheeky Weekly ™ REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, COPYRIGHT ©  REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED was a British children's comic with cover dates spanning 22 October 1977 to 02 February 1980.

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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The features – Menace of the Alpha Man

Cheeky Weekly 24 February 1979

Keeping up Cheeky Weekly's adventure quotient (alongside Mystery Boy) in the 18 issues spanning cover dates 03 March to 30 June 1979 was Menace of the Alpha Man, reprinted from its original run in Shiver and Shake in 1974. The initial outing of this story has been covered in typically comprehensive style over at the Kazoop blog, so I won't attempt to summarise the plot, but will instead concentrate on other aspects of the strip following its exhumation from IPC's vaults some 5 years after its original appearance.

Menace of the Alpha Man was chronologically the eleventh straight reprint feature to appear in Cheeky Weekly (not including the strips in the Old Comic series), and the third sourced from the pages of Shiver and Shake. Those earlier strips resurrected from S&S, The Terrible Trail toTaggart's Treasure and Eagle Eye,  were shorn of their original competition elements when occupying the pages of Cheeky Weekly, but Alpha Man's reprint run did in fact conclude with a cash-prize competition in the manner of its original appearance. At the conclusion of his adventure in Cheeky Weekly the week before Alpha Man's recycled tale began, Eagle Eye told readers "Next week, look out for a new serial starring 'The Alpha Man'! You could win some cash!"

All the Cheeky Weekly episodes of Alpha Man
were read on Friday by Cheeky who would sneak a read
of Teachers' Weekly
Art: Frank McDiarmid

Recycling a comic competition could give an unfair advantage to any Cheeky Weekly readers with access to a Shiver and Shake collection (maybe lovingly hoarded by an older sibling), so the canny editor chose to make some alterations to the suspect's names in the Alpha Man strip on its second run. Compare the list of suspects below with their Shiver and Shake counterparts over at Kazoop.


Cheeky Weekly 23 June 1979

However, the basic idea of the story - that the initial letters of the words describing each of the methods used by the Alpha Man to pursue his nefarious ends could be rearranged to spell out his real name - was unchanged. Thus, following some judicious juggling of letters by staff in the Cheeky Weekly office, in his 1979 run the Alpha Man was revealed to be not Bert Gash as he was in 1974, but Seth Brag. Despite this change, anyone with access to Shiver and Shake would have found it easy to substitute the new name for the original since the characters' faces were not altered.

Whereas in 1974 there were 50 £1 prizes on offer (although 51 winners were listed as can be seen over at Kazoop – Andrew and Alison Little presumably shared their prize), in 1979 the same number of prizes were available but had doubled in value to £2.

Cheeky Weekly 18 August 1979
There was no explanation of the solution as there had been
when the list of Shiver and Shake winners were printed

Alpha Man's original run appeared in Shiver and Shake from 09 March 1974 and its outing in Cheeky Weekly commenced almost exactly 5 years later on 03 March 1979. Yet, despite both runs occupying 18 issues, the final Cheeky Weekly installment appeared in the comic dated 30 June 1979, whereas the Shiver and Shake story ended in the 03 August 1974 issue. The later conclusion of its first run is due to a printers' strike which halted publication of Shiver and Shake for the whole of July 1974.

 Menace of the Alpha Man in the Cheeky Weekly Index

Feature First Appearance Final Appearance Total Issues Total Issues Missed In Run Page History
Menace of the Alpha Man03-Mar-7930-Jun-7918026,27

4 comments:

  1. Interesting to read this - especially about reinvented names of the suspects - I didn't realise they did this.

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    Replies
    1. The Cheeky Weekly editor sure was sneaky!

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  2. Funny how memory works (or rather, doesn't) -- I remembered a few of the Alpha Man installments from my childhood, I recall also when they announced the competition results, but all these years I've (mis)remembered the villain's name as *Keith*, not Seth, Brag!

    Now, as an adult fan of superhero comics, I'm left wondering how a hobo like Seth could don the Alpha Man costume and suddenly become as pumped-up as Dwayne Johnson -- unless of course the costume was padded, and/or Seth's unkempt appearance was just another disguise..?

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    Replies
    1. Who knows? It could just be that the story is completely daft!

      Delete