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Friday, 18 April 2014

Whatever Happened To The Fastest Boy In The World?

To more than one child the name Billy Whizz was a joy and inspiration. Memories of the character in that unique colour scheme live on.  But what the hell did Thomson do to him???

In case you know nothing about him (!) there is a Wikipedia entry and I paraphrase  in part here:


Billy Whizz is a character featured in the Beano where he first appeared in issue 1139, dated 16th May 1964.  Created by Malcolm Judge to replace The Country Cuzzins strip. Billy, is able to run at incredible speed -and his speed often causes chaos. Interestingly, he also has a younger brother called Alfie Whizz who was of similar appearance. Alfie is usually shown as a normal boy but occasionally he is shown to be just as fast as his brother.

In the strips up until the 1980s, Billy lives in Whizztown rather than Beanotown like most of the other regular characters, however this later changed and more recent strips place him in Beanotown.

There is more detail at the Wiki where the creator history (and who is to blame for what) is also cited:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Whizz#Changes_in_the_1990s
 
 Above: Billy Whizz as most of us knew him and (below) AFTER his father made him wear long trousers in an attempt to slow him down (Okay, "Dad" wasn't a one for Physics).





Then Billy opted for a tracksuit with a red lightning streak...or yellow -I guess he must have had several suits because tracksuits get dirty quickly! In this suit Billy was once whisked off to take part in an interplanetary Olympic games!

Yes, in 2003 Billy was still recognisable as Billy.
Billy with his Lightening Tracksuit




 Even after a slight change Billy was still recognisable (below). No problem here.

And......W..T..F????????????????  After passing through a heavy trans-dimensional warp and cutting through interstitial time, Billy is the victim of.....okay. I'm sorry but this is not Billy  Whizz. It's some D. C. Thomson aborted attempt to turn their comics into a very poor Cartoon Network style mockery to increase sales and no doubt "make the character more relevant to modern readers" (or, as we call it, an editor with no ideas left in the head).
 
How did that work out, fellas?

It is very sad to think that, after Nigel Dobbyn revitalised Billy The Cat and even the old General Jumbo character (THAT ended rather badly thanks to Thomson's) that this is the best they could do for Whizz! I think a lot of us oldies were hoping that one day Billy The Cat would answer an emergency call from Jumbo and a certain speedster would gate-crash.

Let's not undermine the character. His influence on readers who went on to work in comics is great. Remember 2000 ADs strip ZENITH? Well it had a Billy  Whizz inspired character.

 Jimmy Quick was a young superhuman from Alternate 666 with the ability to run at super-speed. He was killed by the Lloigor infected Mr Why on February 14, 1988 taking a message to the Alternate 303.

You can find out about other such characters in Zenith here Seizing The Fire:
http://www.2000ad.org/zenith/robert.html 

And there is a certain Black Tower character named "Jack Flash" whose inspiration lo, those many years ago was Billy.



So, whatever Thomson was thinking and what they did to the character I'll allways have fond memories of the real Billy Whizz!!

10 comments:

  1. Well for a start he was never called Billy THE Whizz, it's always just been Billy Whizz. Nick Brennan's version there (the one you don't like) is no longer around - now he's done by Wilbur Dawbarn, in a VERY traditional style - he's even wearing shorts again!

    See?
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-lFonjYMoUJA/ULZ9k2g3LEI/AAAAAAAALBA/JzvDVZelj0g/s1600/image0-002.jpg

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  2. I read this comment and thought "WTF??" I had no idea I had put "the" between Billy and Whizz. That said, I do these silly things when I have a migraine and should know better by now! It's not Terry The Hooper!!!!! Thanks for pointing that out and the Billy up-date! Cheers!

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  3. ahh. That's not a live link you sent and cutting and pasting it took me to some rather ...uh, odd photos!

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  4. Really? It's working for me.
    Try this one instead:
    http://kidr77.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/doomed-dandy-not-dead-yet-one-issue-to.html

    (Second image in the article)

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  5. As THB says, Billy Whizz looks much more like his original self these days. But let's be honest - Billy got off lightly compared to Desperate Dan and Roger the Dodger. Groan!

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    1. Going by that Beano that was given away with a newspaper a couple of weeks ago, and what people are saying on the Comics UK forum, Roger has been given to someone else now, and is being drawn in what seems to be aiming for a more "traditional" style - although he still lacks his tie!

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  6. Well I gave up on Beano and Dandy a few years back so I stick with my memories. I just do not want to buy a copy to give Thomson any money of mine. After all, to them I'm "That c***t!" But I will check out any online art I find. Roger and Dan....Dudley Watkins must be turning in his grave.

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    Replies
    1. Wow... what did you do to make DC Thomson use the C-word???

      If you don't mind my asking, obviously.

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  7. Hah! Old CBOers will know that I've been critical of editors at Thomson who just sit on their asses with only their pay cheque on their mind while the comics they've run sink deeper into the cess-pit. The company has such potential but from the top down they seem to have stagnated since the 1980s when one of the bosses went on BBC TVs The Money Programme and said authoritatively "Comics will be dead in 5-6 years" I was approached to submit projects, even just approached them with projects but as sales hit the equivalent of small Indie titles I wrote that the editor(s) needed replacing and someone with a knowledge of the company history and comics be hired to put a spark of life back in them. A couple of editors used "dupes" to attack me online but a while back someone I know at Thomson asked "the editor" if he'd "received ideas from Terry Hooper?" the response was a snapped "That c----!" That was it and next letter I got from Thomson was that they had no interest in ANYTHING from me! This through trying to encourage a move forward -and I still think Thomson has MUCH potential but currently its a dead force. I did laugh out loud when I heard the reaction to my name, though!

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    Replies
    1. Oof, ha ha!

      A case of the old narcissism then - Obviously I'm glad that the "5-6 years" prophecy never came around, but things still seem bad. What have they got left now, in terms of comics? The Beano and a few pages in the Sunday Post? It really is heart-breaking, but if they made the mess themselves, maybe it's time to stop "blaming" the kids for wanting to play with iPads all the time.

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