The Topper (comics)
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The cover of The Topper #1
|Publisher||D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd|
|Publication date||7 February 1953 – 15 September 1990|
|No. of issues||1963|
A strip named "Mickey the Monkey" originally appeared on the front cover. In the early 1970s, it was replaced by "Send for Kelly", by "Danny's Tranny" in 1975, and "Tricky Dicky" in 1979. "Beryl the Peril" took over on 24 May 1986, and remained there until the merger with The Beezer.
Unlike most other comics at the time, which were half tabloid size, the Topper was for many years full tabloid. It changed to A4 in 1980, one year before The Beezer.
Two comics were merged into The Topper during its run: these were Buzz in 1975 and Sparky in issue 1276 (16 July 1977). In issue 1260 on 26 March 1977, "Big News" was announced on the front cover redirecting the reader to page 7 of the comic. The announcement was that starting from issue number 1261 the comic would include a "Special Pull-out section" that brought back classic Topper Characters such as Splodge and Big Uggy. These lasted until issue 1276, when the pull out section was used for the Sparky comic, creating the "Special Sparky Pull-Out". The Sparky Pull out section was continued until the change to the A4 format.
The Topper also produced an annual collection, The Topper Book.
Rebrand, closure and reprints
In the late 1980s and 1990s, with the expansion of children's television and video games taking a greater share of children's time, sales of comics began to fall. So D. C. Thomson decided to modernise the Topper, relaunching it as Topper '89 from February 1989.
In September 1990, it was decided to merge the Topper with another of D. C. Thomson's long-running comics, The Beezer and the two comics combined as Beezer and Topper. This continued in publication until 1993; it subsequently closed, with a small amount of content from the combined comic subsequently relocating into other D. C. Thomson publications The Beano and The Dandy.
Despite the closure of the Topper as a standalone title, The Topper Book continued as an annual, separate from The Beezer Book, until the 1994 annual (published 1993, the year new issues of Beezer and Topper ceased).
Vintage stories from the Topper appeared alongside stories from other D. C. Thomson publications in Classics from the Comics, a compilation magazine series which ran from 1996 to 2010.
In March 2012, the Royal Mail launched a special stamp collection to celebrate Britain's rich comic book history. The collection featured The Beano, The Dandy, Eagle, The Topper, Roy of the Rovers, Bunty, Buster, Valiant, Twinkle and 2000 AD.
Strips in The Topper included:
- Al Change – Master of Disguise
- Ali's Baba (from Sparky)
- Andy Ladd – a short strip about a resourceful young inventor
- Beryl the Peril – a mischievous girl similar to Minnie the Minx, although she appeared to have the same parents as Dennis the Menace. Appeared on cover from 1986 to the merge with Beezer in 1990. Recently appeared in the Dandy.
- Big Uggy – a caveman and an anthropomorphic dinosaur friend Dopey
- Danny's Tranny (1973–86) – a boy and his magical transistor radio – was cover star in mid-1970s.
- Desert Island Dick – a short strip about a castaway, his pet octopus and his incompetent attempts to summon rescue. The name is a parody of Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4.
- Dopey Joe – a short strip about an incompetent Indian
- Figaro – an overweight Mexican bandit and his gang, and his donkey or mule Pedro.
- Foxy – A fox forever trying to steal chickens and forever getting blasted by The Farmer. Later joins the Dandy
- Fred the Flop (1973–86) – Incompetent, petty criminal whose schemes always fail. (Originally from Buzz)
- Ghastly Manor – A group of ghosts and monsters who live in a run-down manor which is perpetually for sale. Each episode is based on them scaring away a prospective buyer.
- Hungry Horace (from Sparky) – the kid with the bottomless appetite who is always after food.
- The Iron Eaters An extraterrestrial invasion of Earth by pink sponge-like creatures which ate iron and other metals.
- Jimmy Jinx and what he thinks (1973–89) – Originally from Buzz (appears as a character in Fun Size Dandy
- Julius Cheeser – a short strip about a cat's failures to catch a mouse.
- Keyhole Kate – Revival from The Dandy, this version was originally in Sparky.
- King Gussie Everybody laughs to see the antics of His Majesty – a short strip about a king; like strips such as Desperate Dan, this surreally combined historical and modern day elements.
- Mickey the Monkey (1953–85,1990) – a similar concept to Biffo the Bear, but with a monkey. Mickey was sometimes portrayed as stupid, forgetful and unlucky. The Clash drummer Topper Headon was reputedly nicknamed because he resembled the character. The original cover star.
- Peter Piper – (1939–40, 1967?–88) with magical pan pipes that could animate objects. Originally appeared in the short lived Magic comic and revived in Sparky.
- Pup Parade (1989–92) – A canine version of 'The Bash Street Kids' – Originally from The Beano between 1967 and 1988. Later reappeared in the same comic in 2003.
- Scaredy Cat (1989–93) – A petrified cat who had lost 8 out his 9 lives. Survived Beezer merger and stayed until comic's end.
- Send for Kelly (1960s–91)- A secret agent called Nick Kelly, helped by assistant Cedric for most of the strip's run. Cedric was later replaced by Harry, nephew of Kelly. Survived Beezer merger in 1990.
- Sir Laughalot – a fantasy knight and his misadventures
- Smart Art
- Souper Boy (1977–86) – a weedy boy who became extremely strong when drinking a special soup, similarly to Popeye
- Splodge the last of the goblins – around four inches high and invisible to humans, who stole food (Later in Beano.)
- Tiny – The World's Biggest Dog
- Tiny Tim A minute boy who lives and plays amongst insects
- Tom and Terry (1979–88) (from Sparky)
- Tricky Dicky (1976–93) – cover star from 1979 until 1986. Moved to the inside for the duration of the comic's life, survived Beezer merge, later in Beano during the year 2000.
- The Whizzers from Ozz – Young Willie Walker meets two alien boys, Krik and Krak, who have a spacecraft and alien gadgets. Last strip was January 6, 1968, when Krik and Krak flew back to Ozz again.
Well known creators who worked for The Topper include:
- Gordon Bell
- Paddy Brennan
- David Law
- Tom Paterson
- Dudley D. Watkins
- John Dallas
- Malcolm Judge
- Robert Nixon
- David Parkins
- "Beano's Dennis the Menace on Royal Mail comic stamps". BBC News. 19 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012.