THE HEADHUNTERS OF SKOOKUM SKOOL

Comic
Speech Bubbles
Drawn by Ken Harrison

53 appearances (over 106 pages) between issue no. 1 (18/01/75) and no. 55 (31/01/76).
Did not appear in issue nos. 33 and 49.
The first twenty-four appearances were in red/black across the centre pages, the rest were printed in black and white.

What does it say on the tin (or in that rhyming couplet at the top of the first page) ?
“One day is enough – each Head finds it too tough!”

THE HEADHUNTERS OF SKOOKUM SKOOL

Along with Spookum Skool (one page) and The Snookums (one page), initially part of the four centre pages Skooldaze spread that appeared in the first twenty-four issues. Skookum Skool first appeared in BUZZ comic in issue no 1 (20/01/73) as simply Skookum Skool (spawning a spin-off Spookum Skool in BUZZ comic issue no. 60), and became The Headhunters when it appeared in issue no. 1 of CRACKER. The title changed to The Headhunters of Skookum Skool the following week. Except for issue no. 14 (when it reverted to The Headhunters for one week) it remained that way until the end of its run. The title changes were down to a change of emphasis. In BUZZ comic Skookum Skool had a simple teacher/unruly pupils theme along the lines of The Bash Street Kids. In CRACKER, Teacher (who presumably doubled as The Head) had gone and the stories were about the pupils harassing and driving away a newly appointed Head (Teacher) each week.

BUZZ readers would have known the names of the five pupils. CRACKER readers met Pudding in issue no.1, but would have to wait until issue nos. 9, 10, 23 and 37 respectively to discover the names of Boss, Streaky, Dizzy and Susie.

Each week Janitor would advertise the post of Skookum Skool Head and each week a new applicant would be appointed. The applicants came from differing backgrounds and from all over the world. All, bar one, would have relinquished the post (voluntarily or otherwise) by the end of the day. The only exception was a nurse (in issue no. 42), who applied for the job on the grounds that it couldn’t be as exhausting as running around after the nervous wrecks in her care that were the former Heads of Skookum Skool. Her redemption was that she was able to repair the classroom furniture destroyed by the children with her first-aid kit.

She was one of only three women to apply for the job. The other two were the opera singer Myra Callous (issue no. 21) and a “nasty, evil witch” (43). The latter was one of a trio of non-human applicants (if you accept Santa Claus, in the Christmas 1975 edition, as being human). The remaining two were an alien called Gork (53) and a ghost (31). The ghost was the only Head the kids were upset at losing (they thought he was great fun, he just wanted to live in peace).

The only occupation (if you can call it that) to feature twice was ‘tramp’ [issue nos. 13 and 32, and that’s if you count ‘sea dog’ (10) and ‘sea captain’ (52) as separate ‘occupations’]. On two occasions there were joint Heads: two clowns in issue no. 27 and twin brothers in the last story (55, though the kids didn’t twig until near the end).

Only one real headmaster applied. “Egbert Gumbol, headmaster – THIS IS YOUR LIFE!” Boss announces in front of a fake TV camera (in issue no. 19) and Gumbol falls for it. Straight away, he is hit in the face by a mud-pie. “Rather like the ones people threw at you when you were a nasty, tell-tale child” adds Boss. Gumbol chases the kids outside were they run into Amon McAndrew and a real TV crew who just happen to have arrived to shoot Gumbol for a real ‘This Is Your Life’. “I don’t know where you got those disguises, but you won’t fool me a second time”, says Gumbol as he whacks Amon and a member of the crew with his cane. Realising the mistake, he is chased off to the glee of the kids.

Besides Janitor, two other Skookum Skool employees appeared – the school governor (issue nos. 11 and 51, in the first story he employs Boris the lion tamer of Monty Cobra’s Circus as Head) and Cook (47).

Sammy and his jokes appear almost every week at the bottom of the page (at the top in issue no.19 – in 1 and 13 there’s blackboard graffiti, reproduced at the bottom of this page), more often than not on a TV screen, and on the odd occasion with his dog Flash or another CRACKER character. He can be seen lurking outside the classroom window in issue no. 24.

Little ‘Orror appeared in the last frame of the story in issue no 38. He had lent the kids his pet bat, Beastly, to frighten off Mr Digger, an archaeologist.

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