Saturday, 30 August 2014

What is Sid's relationship with his Snake?

If you grew up in Britain in the 1970s or 80s you will almost certainly have read Whizzer and Chips at some point. Even more so if you are reading this blog. Which you are. It was produced by Fleetway between 1969 and 1990, making it second only to Buster as long-running title for the publisher.
The USP of W&C was that was "Two rival comics in one!". See, where some comics stirred up mild rivalry between their competitors within their publishing house (e.g. The Sparky People being challenged by The Beano's staff), Whizzer's in-fighting with Chips happened in THE SAME ISSUE. Supposedly we, the readers, were to pick a side and be either a Whizz-Kid or a Chip-Ite and throw the other half of the comic away. Obviously no-one did, but it was a fun conceit.
Sid's Snake was the cover star of Whizzer (and by extension the cover star of Whizzer and Chips, as Chips was the pull out middle for most of the run) for the majority of issues, however (and this may come as a shock to any hard-core Whizz-Kids still out there) the strip actually started in Chips before proving popular enough to make the cover.
It was a really basic premise - boy has pet snake, snake contorts itself to fit whatever hijinks as required - and therefore surprisingly far-reaching in influence.
It was the obvious influence of early Viz character "Victor and His Boa Constrictor", back when Viz was more concerned with comics pastiche:
 (Heck of a camel-toe, there, Victor) ...and continues to be a go-to design for cartoon snakes.

Sometimes, however, when you read a bunch of comics in a row, certain patterns begin to emerge...

You see, the outward appearance may have been of two best pals having fun...
...and sure, the gags were built on Slippy helping Sid in some way...
...which were sometimes quite elaborate... 
...but after a while you start to feel the poor reptile is somewhat put-upon. I mean, actually look at his face when he's "helping": 
And now look at Sid's face when they're behind closed doors and he demands "help": 
I can't help but think that they are in an abusive relationship. "Work for me, Slippy. I took you in when no-one else would have you! Don't be ungrateful!" 
Even the title "Sid's Snake" is denying him his individuality. He's only defined by what he is to Sid. HE HAS A NAME! His name is Slippy. Unless it wasn't...
Was Slippy his slave name? Or was he Born Slippy? (Sorry)


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