Launched: 25th June 1983
Ended: 23rd May 1987
Comic Launched In: Buster
Other Comics: None
Artwork: J. Edward Oliver
You've got to feel sorry for Cliff Hanger. Back in June 1983 He was playing cricket with his mates, but had to rush off, as he was about to miss the television programme "Now Get Out Of This,"a show where groups of contestants have to get out of tricky situations. And, like most people watching telly, he said "I could do that." However, this time the agents of MESS (The Mysterious Evil Spies Society) were listening, and Cliff had just volunteered himself to be the guinea pig to try out their traps.
But Cliff's mate, Buster Capp, informs him that the readers are a helpful lot, and they'll help you escape. From then onwards, a star was born, and Cliff's adventures began on the next page where the spies fired their Atomic Matter Transmitter and put Cliff on an Island surrounded by sharks. Each week after that Cliff would be Zapped into a situation and the readers had to get him out of it.
Cliff was incredibly popular with the readers and over the course of his four year run in Buster, he not only encountered the Evil Spies, but travelled Forward to the past, and another Star Wars spin-off.
But Cliff wasn't just another strip. The key to this character's popularity has to have been the interactivity element. Suddenly, you were just reading someone else's idea. You had the opportunity to complete the strip. The tick box was later replaced by a speaker system, so you could actually talk to Cliff Hanger! As well as the readers getting interactive and choosing an outcome, it became a cult with the many things artist JEO used to slip into his every strip. They were his intials (JEO), a box with a handle, Abolish Tuesdays, An arrow pointing one way, with another pointing the opposite way inside it, a Warthog,
As well as that, the edition number of each Cliff Hanger strip was printed on Cliff's shirt, so you always knew (even in the reprints) roughly where you were in the series! Cliff returned to Buster as reprinted strips in the 1990s, masquerading as new strips to start with, but in January 1998, Buster ditched that idea in favour for Classic Cliff Hanger, reprinting strips in order of their original publication, with other little facts included. Cliff then vanished into thin air in May 1999, returning on the letters page until his official ending in issue 21st July to 3rd August 1999. The evil spies were trapped in quick sand (hence why Cliff hadn't heard from them for a while). The options were to pull them out, call for help or leave them there. The results can be seen below
Cliff Hanger was invented by J. Edward Oliver, the man who had previously bought us Mastermind and, of course, Crazy Maisie. But for me, Cliff was undoubtedly his best work in Buster!
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The Cliff Hanger Strips