Two new stories begin this issue: “Curtains for Cathy” and “Nightmare at Grimm Fen”.
In the former, Cathy Harley wants to make her own way on the stage, not because she’s the daughter of a famous actor. She’s even willing to do it the hard way and take all the hard knocks she’s been warned about. So she takes an assistant stage manager job under an assumed name at a rundown theatre, and she even agrees not to be paid for it. But no sooner has Cathy gone when Dad receives a threatening phone call saying he won’t see Cathy again and the curtains are coming down for her! We don’t think Cathy counted on that as part of the hard knocks she was willing to risk – but can she take it anyway when whoever it is starts their game?
In the latter, Mark and Patty Stephens make a brass rubbing of an evil medieval knight, Robert Le Mal. Then there are warning signs they shouldn’t have done that and they return to the place to reverse the damage. But as they do so, the weather grows stormy and there’s a horrible flapping sound.
It’s unusual for Robert MacGillivray to draw a historical story, but he does so with this week’s Strange Story. The story appears below for those who like MacGillivray artwork.
The snobs are cooking up trouble for Babe – literally – this week. It must be said that the gangster know-how she pulls to foil their scheme really does stretch credibility.
There’s a hunt for a loose tiger in “Towne in the Country”, and there’s a hunter after it with safari ideas. Val spots it first and, realising it’s hurt, decides to risk herself to treat it.
Miss Claire is trying to hide a baby seal with Molly’s help, but of course it’s a load of trouble for them both. Now there are further complications. The first is Pickering, who mistakes the seal for a monster and has all the staff hunting it. The second is another man finding the seal – and Molly doesn’t like the look of him!
Sue plans a party. Unfortunately Mum accidentally scratches the new LP she was going to use for it, and the stores are sold out because it’s so hot. Then a stroke of luck and Sue’s habit of doodling bring her to the pop star himself, who agrees to perform live at her party after she does him a favour.
Bessie Bunter pulls a crooked raffle to raise more food for herself, but of course she gets caught out. Her punishment is a notebook to be filled with lines. She never seems to get expelled for those naughty schemes of hers.
In this week’s episode of “Olympia Jones” it’s the long-awaited (and dreaded) return of her archenemies, the Rotts. We get the satisfaction of seeing that sacking Olympia for Linda Rott’s animal cruelty to escape prosecution from animal welfare has rebounded on them: “Takings down again…Sometimes I regret sacking Olympia Jones. She certainly knew how to train the animals.” They overlooked that Olympia was too valuable as animal trainer for Linda’s horse act, and her absence has caused the circus to suffer.
Then the Rotts discover the circus horse they mistreated has now become a show-jumping Olympic prospect under Olympia – which makes him worth a fortune. Now new cruelty is underway as the Rotts plot how to get their hands on that money.
In part two of “Go on, Hate Me!”, Carol dies in hospital, and her last words to Hetty are to win a race at their athletics club. But now we begin to see what the title’s about: Carol’s sister Jo wrongly blames Hetty for Carol’s death and she’s turning everyone at the club against her.
Ruth Lee has vowed to get back the family horse, Captain, who has been sold as part of a rough eviction. Her gran has passed, and her dying words were “take care of the big cat”. Now what’s that about? This week “The Big Cat” makes its appearance: a circus cheetah!
Sue has figured out there’s something about her new handbag, which she has named Henrietta. Whenever she puts something in it, something strange – and hilarious – happens…
Of late, Stefa’s efforts to turn her heart into stone have been really laughable. She runs away from home but can’t part herself from her precious statue – so she takes it with her on a wheelbarrow! Needless to say, that soon gets her tracked down. Now she’s sleeping on the lawn beside her statue rather than in the same bedroom as Ruth – even though she damn well knows it’s cold outside. She wakes up soaking wet and shivering from the dew, the silly girl. Then Stefa is taken aback to discover that Ruth has suffered an even greater loss than hers – three family members, yet Ruth is taking it far better and more bravely than Stefa is with just one loss. Will this finally melt that stubborn, stony heart of hers? It’s certainly time enough.
In “Is This Your Story?”, Georgie Jones has a very bad temper and flies off the handle like nobody’s business, and her classmates suffer for it. They give her a day in Coventry to drive the point home that she must work on her temper. After that, Georgie counts to ten more when she feels her temper rising.
The title “Rose among the Thornes” takes an unexpected twist in this week’s final episode: Rose and the Thornes work together to stop a cylinder containing poison from releasing its deadly contents. Then the Thornes beat a fast exit from the village once people begin to realise what they’ve been up to, so our Rose is now Thorne-less. Let’s just hope the Thornes don’t get up to the same tricks elsewhere.
In “Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud”, Maud is learning to ice-skate at the posh finishing school, but an employee named Georges has realised she’s not Lady Daisy De Vere. And from the looks of things, he’s going to pull blackmail on her. Meanwhile, the real Daisy, mistaken for a servant, is trying to escape from the cruel household she’s landed up in. After several failed attempts at escape she’s now going for the extremely dangerous one that’s been on hold for some time – climb the household chimney!
Gertie Grit visits the court of King Arthur this week. Caractacus declares a wizards’ strike to demand Gertie back, so Merlin can’t intervene when arch-enemy Mordred marches on Camelot. Gertie tries her own hand at wizardry to help King Arthur win, but instead of her messing things up as usual, Caractacus sabotages her efforts.
After escaping from the bubble Helen has reached home – only to find another girl in her place. And her parents call this girl Helen too! Miss Vaal informs Dad that our Helen has escaped from the bubble, but he isn’t saying a word to Mum. In fact, he doesn’t even want Mum to see our Helen. Weirder and weirder! Then Mum really does spot our Helen. What will her reaction be?
We’ve heard of concrete shoes, but this is ridiculous – Alley Cat lands his feet in two buckets of wet cement and they get stuck. Fortunately he manages to make use of it, but we think it would be a good idea if he can get his feet back by next week.
“Heap big Injun trouble for Gertie Grit” says the cover. Heap big trouble for the Injuns more like, knowing our Gertie. Sure enough, she unwittingly causes another historical catastrophe, which in this case is Custer’s Last Stand. And it’s all because Custer put her on KP duty.
“Jassy’s Wand of Power” and “Sisters at War!” both end this week. The drought breaks when the power plant that’s causing it is shut down. Blimey, it’s been so long since a rainfall that Jassy’s little friend Mark doesn’t even realise what it is when it finally falls! Well, Jassy can retire her water-divining rod now. Story artist Keith Robson moves on to a new serial next week. Meanwhile, the sisters are still at war with constant arguing, but their uncle has decided he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Another story ended last issue, but nothing new starts this week. Instead, we have a full page informing us that three stories start next week. We just love it when we have a nice big run of several stories starting at once.
Meanwhile, poor Daisy has to do ironing with a broken bone in her hand (and it doesn’t look like that hand is getting any medical attention – ooh, that horrible household!). But Daisy finds a way to get the ironing done despite her hand and is surprised to be rewarded with a cat brooch. Unfortunately the other servants are still mean to her, and that brooch has made them jealous too. If only Daisy could see what Maud has learned about dealing with nasty types who bully servants – throw water all over them.
In “Is This Your Story?”, Freda has a bad habit of telling lies, but she gets caught out when she tries to pull a fast one over her teacher. She spends a horrible weekend dreading what punishment awaits her on Monday, which could be expulsion. What is teach going to do?
Ouch! Rose gets a faceful of stings while foiling the Thornes’ latest scheme this week. Gran’s herbal remedies sort out the stings, but then the bryony blooms – which is a warning of disaster. Sounds like the story is about to reach its climax.
Groan…not even Stefa’s own birthday softens her “heart of stone”. She throws all the presents she gets in the faces of everyone who gave them to her. Stefa, the day will come when you look back on this birthday with deep regret. Later in the episode, Stefa finds it’s going to be a lot harder to steer clear of Ruth – her parents are inviting Ruth over to their house and going to parents’ night to see her work. Stefa thinks it’s a cheek; she is their daughter, not Ruth. Huh, considering the way you’re carrying on with your folks, you’re the one who’s got a cheek, Stefa!
Helen manages to break free of Miss Vaal and shut her in the bubble for a change. On the advice of her teacher she goes home to tell her parents what’s going on. The very parents who never once visited her while she was in the bubble, come to think of it.
Alley Cat borrows a library book on how to “nab nosh”, but everything backfires and he ends up having to exchange it for a first aid book.
In honour of Armistice Day, “A Resource on Jinty” brings you this Commando.
It’s October 1918 in Belgium, but for Harriet “Harry” Weekes, an army nurse and ambulance driver, the closing days of WWI have gotten tougher than ever with increased fighting and lines on the move, which means more casualties. Not that she’s going to let that stop her and her friend Vera Davis from helping them. Harriet and Vera get so close to the combat zone they’re nicknamed “the angels on wheels”. They also get a lot of sexist remarks from chauvinist pig officers. Having grown up with four brothers Harriet knows how to stand her ground, but unfortunately she tends to go over the top about it. We soon see Harriet is the more emotional and prejudicial of the two; Vera is the cool head who thinks before she acts, is more open-minded and empathic, and acts as the voice of reason when Harriet’s hot head steams up.
Vera and Harriet get captured by a German soldier, Hauptmann Franz Maier, who wants them to treat their wounded. Seeing the state the wounded German soldiers are in, Vera immediately goes to help them. But Harriet does so under protest because they’re the enemy, “brutes” and “murderers”. She prompts Vera to make a run for it with her, but a German soldiers sees them and opens fire, wounding Vera. Harriet notices that Maier stopped the Germans firing more bullets, but she isn’t voicing her gratitude. Harriet is impressed to see Vera continue to treat the German soldiers despite her injury.
Harriet is both surprised and angry when Maier questions how compassionate she is, running off like that when those men needed her. Harriet’s still too consumed with anti-German prejudice to show even one ounce of compassion when Maier says they’ve lost all their medics because of the Allied advance: “You could do the decent thing and surrender!”. She even slaps Maier.
Then their attention is drawn to a German soldier, Gerhard Muller, whose condition is now critical and medical attention is urgent. Harriet is so surprised to see the softer side of Maier when he tries to comfort Muller that she begins to open her mind. She even obeys Maier’s order to drive Muller to a German medical station. Maier comes along as translator and to deal with any hostile Germans. Harriet is even more surprised to hear Maier does realise the war is pretty much done (his final orders to his men reflected that); all he can do now is save his men.
The drive takes them through hostile German territory. Maier is very surprised at how Harriet drives through such territory; she says no man’s land has given her plenty of practice.
When they arrive at the German medical station they find it’s in a sorry state because of Allied artillery bombardment. They manage to stabilise Muller with what is available, but he needs proper medical treatment and it’s not available there. As they treat Muller, Harriet and Maier draw closer together when he says he studied English in London and has friends there and Harriet says Muller reminds her of her brother Tommy. They draw even closer together when the station is hit by more artillery fire. It catches Harriet by surprise, as she never has encountered bombardment before, but Maier tells her what to do.
They can’t stay because of the bombardment. Harriet is against heading further towards the German lines because of the artillery – their better bet is to head for the British ones. Now it’s Maier who has to overcome his prejudices – against the British army! He doesn’t relish the thought of a POW camp either if he surrenders to the British.
Maier agrees to take Muller to the British lines, but the ambulance has to fight its way through more fighting and artillery as the Germans fight the British advance. Along the way she promises British soldiers she’ll come back for them. Muller is approaching death, and he reminds Harriet so much of her brothers that she’ll risk anything for him. And she does – she heads straight for the main British force, which is right in the heart of the fighting!
But when they arrive, it’s not the fighting that’s the problem, it’s the anti-German prejudice the soldiers have. Not even the forceful Harriet can persuade them to allow Muller to be treated and Maier ends up in the POW camp. Fortunately the nurses eventually reach a medical station where Harriet’s friend Captain Scott is in charge. They soon have Muller on the mend, and in the nick of time. Scott treats Vera’s wound as well. Harriet honours her promise to go back for the Allied soldiers, although by now she is collapsing from exhaustion. When the armistice is declared, everyone in the ward, including Maier (allowed out), celebrates, whether “British or German, nurse or soldier”.
The story makes one huge comment about prejudice and how it can make good characters flawed as well as less savoury ones. Harriet’s wartime prejudice against Germans is so deep she’s not honouring the Hippocratic Oath, which dictates that medics treat all patients regardless of who or what they are. Maier’s prejudice is against the British army, a prejudice that proves more justified than Harriet’s when the British lines meet him, to the extent of their refusing to let Muller be treated because he’s German. By contrast, we have Vera and Captain Scott, neither of whom let prejudice get the better of them and both offer medical treatment to anyone who needs it. On the flip side is the chauvinism in some officers who don’t approve of women at the front, not even when they’re doing honourable and invaluable things there.
The story also illustrates that prejudice can be overcome and bridges get crossed. But Harriet illustrates that in some cases it takes a lot to do it. In her case, it’s being forced to work together with Maier. In the process she learns that Germans are human beings too and becomes more compassionate and empathic, and in so doing becomes a far better nurse than when she first started. At the beginning of the story she would never have dreamed she would celebrate Armistice Day together with Germans, but that’s precisely what happens. And so we get a far more satisfying end to the story than the Allies just hearing Armistice has come and the helmets fly up in the trenches in celebration.
Sadly, it’s not universal. Harriet and Maier are exceptions to the rule. For the most part, anti-German prejudice would have continued to run deep and, as history knows, it went a long way towards the infamous Treaty of Versailles, which proved to be the bedrock for the rise of Hitler and the start of World War II.
You also come away from this story with a whole new respect for wartime ambulance drivers. The story really shows what a tough, dangerous job it was, navigating such dangerous, unpredictable territory, sometimes having to drive through the line of fire itself and risk being blown up or whatever, in order to get much-needed medical attention to the boys on the battlefield. And so often you have to make do with what is to hand, which in the line of fire can get constantly blown up and be in short supply or not available at all. The story makes a strong point that medical services were casualties of artillery fire too, which did not distinguish what it hit.
The only problem I find with the story is one plot error. They keep talking about Muller needing a blood transfusion and antibiotics. Historically, in World War I the former was infrequent and its technology inadequate, and the latter was unavailable. If a bit more research could have been done there, we would have seen an even grimmer and more realistic of the medical situation on the WWI front that would illustrated how primitive WWI medicine was by modern standards.
The Commando is yet another in the new line of Commandos to feature female protagonists. Its focus on nursing rather than resistance fighters or army officers is also innovative for Commando. The military must have often thought of nursing as a woman’s occupation, but the story shows that nurses often have to fight their own as much as the female fighters, whether it’s against the bombardment of the battlefield to do their job or the chauvinism of many of their own officers.
In Jinty’s fireworks issue for 1976, Gertie Grit does the honours when her time-travelling gets her caught up in the Gunpowder Plot itself (below). Funny – the biggest fireworks of this historical event seem to come from Druid Caractacus.
Gertie isn’t the only one in the issue getting a taste of the Tower of London. That’s where Jassy is about to be sent to as well. It’s the fate of all those who claim to have psychic ability in this drought-stricken story.
The Thornes’ latest trick is play “ghost” to get their hands on the magistrate’s property, but Rose’s gran turns the tables by scaring the Thornes with the same ruse. Halloween was last week, you Thornes!
Ruth finds out the reason for “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” and starts a “Melt Stefa” campaign with her classmates to soften it. But from the looks of things, not even global warming would “melt Stefa”. However, jealousy is proving more effective; Stefa gets her nose put out of joint when her parents start treating Ruth like their very own daughter.
Mandy in this week’s “Is This Your Story?” doesn’t want to share her brother with a girlfriend. She breaks them up, but her brother’s reaction isn’t what she expected. Her conscience pricks up and she gets them back together.
In “Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud”, Maud finds a friend in a servant at the finishing school while Daisy can’t in the cruel household she has ended up in. The household is on holiday in the country and Daisy seizes another chance to escape. Unfortunately they catch up (again), and Daisy breaks a bone in her hand in the process. And nobody, not even the servants, has an ounce of sympathy for her there. Rather, they all laugh at what great sport it’s been chasing her.
“Champion in Hiding” ends this week. It turns out nasty Aunt Shirley and Mrs Blackmoor were in cahoots to stop Mitzi and Firefly from winning the dog championship, but win they do. Mrs Blackmoor’s furious and won’t pay Aunt Shirley because she failed, so Aunt Shirley is punished by ending up with nothing.
Helen’s back in the bubble and the sinister Miss Vaal manages to forestall Helen’s art teacher when she makes enquiries into what’s going on. Then Helen makes a bold move with the black book she stole from Miss Vaal to help her make a rush for freedom. Will it work?
In “Sisters at War!”, Uncle Jason runs away from hospital and camps out in hiding although he’s not well. Mum is furious when she finds out Sue has been helping to hide him though she knows about his condition.
Spotty Muchloot and Alley Cat have another battle, this time with toffee. Well, we always knew Spotty was stuck-up.
C.L.A.R.A. (artist Giorgio Giorgetti) – first episode
No Place for Children (artist Eduardo Feito)
Good Old Guy Fawkes! (feature)
Down to Earth Blairs (artist José Casanovas)
Glennie’s Gift (Colin Merrett) – Strange Story
Selena Sitting Pretty (artist Diane Gabbot(t))
Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)
Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)
Rowena and the Realms of Night (artist Peter Wilkes)
Here we have the Tammy Guy Fawkes issue from 1977. As you can see, it’s bang on the day. Inside, we have a couple of reminders about the Fireworks code, Guy Fawkes jokes, and a Guy Fawkes story from Bessie. Poor Bessie is confined to sick bay with a sore throat on Guy Fawkes Night. Undaunted, Bessie sneaks out of bed and finds weird masked figures who look like they’re going to blow up the school. She proceeds to have fun foiling them. But it’s just Miss Stackpole and the pupils re-enacting the Gunpowder Plot. Once that misunderstanding is cleared up, Bessie feels her throat cleared up enough to join the fireworks party. There are also a few references to bonfire night in “Down to Earth Blairs”, but the only fireworks are from Betsy when she gets on the wrong end of Dad’s swill collection.
A new story, “C.L.A.R.A.” starts. Professor Crichenor (who looks more like he’s from the stage than the laboratory with that outfit of his) offers the services of his computer C.L.A.R.A. (Crichenor’s Learning And Reasoning Aid) to raise the falling academic and sporting performance of Glumthorpe Comprehensive. Although the PTA’s response is to throw Crichenor out – literally – he intends to prove himself. He’s going to begin by making our protagonist, Frances Cummins, more organised.
Oh, poor Bella! Some jealous girls put a shard of glass in her shoe to sabotage her performance and she’s cut her foot very badly. Nasty! Once her foot is bandaged she manages to perform sufficiently to get a medal, but now someone is raising an objection to it.
The mystery of the missing children in Tarnbridge deepens. Postcards arrive from them, but there are no postmarks. And the parents are getting angry and demanding answers from Mr Nash about where their children are.
In the Strange Story, Lorna loses her sight after a rock hits her on the head at a crumbling ruin. Her guide dog Glennie grows critically ill, but before he dies he leads her back to the spot where the accident happened. Another rock falls and returns her sight. The Storyteller makes an annual pilgrimage to put flowers on Glennie’s grave on Lorna’s behalf.
Selena takes advantage of heavy rain to run in a race without anyone seeing her and realise she is no cripple. She manages to get back to her wheelchair and thinks she’s still sitting pretty – but then discovers she overlooked the tell-tale mud all over her shoes. Is she going to be unstuck this time, or will she find a way out of yet another close call?
Sue and her friends are at a department store in search of a birthday present for their art teacher, but Sue’s small size keeps getting her into all sorts of scrapes, including landing in a washing machine. However, her small size helps in the end when the teacher is locked out and needs someone to get into window. Then it’s birthday celebrations.
A pedlar informs Rowena of the full danger her brother faces at the hands of the Nightqueen: if he takes the hand of the Nightqueen’s daughter in the upcoming dance of night, he will join the legion of the living dead!
As 5th November is nigh, we are bringing out some old issues commemorating Guy Fawkes, beginning with the Tammy Guy Fawkes issue from 1976. We seem to have a very generous tramp giving a penny for the guy on the cover. Or should it be penny for the guy’s jacket? Bessie Bunter, Wee Sue and Edie the Ed’s Niece all have Bonfire Night as their theme this week. There seems to be some carryover from Halloween, with people being mistaken for ghosts and other scary things, and Wee Sue’s headmistress making Guy Fawkes masks out of Halloween masks.
The ghost theme continues in the Strange Story, where a boring double maths period gets livened up by what appear to be ghost girls. A priest and even a psychiatrist are called in to deal with the ghost infestation. It turns out the ghosts are time-travelling schoolgirls on an educational tour: “harmless exhibits – guaranteed safe” says the ad on their coach, which looks like a space rocket. It doesn’t say anything about “boring”.
This week’s episode of “Olympia Jones” rounds off the horrible night from last week, when Mr Rott sacked Olympia for the animal cruelty he knows his daughter Linda committed, to save his hide from the animal welfare inspector. He’s now yelling at Linda for almost landing him in trouble with animal welfare. Hmmph, we notice he’s not telling her off for the cruelty she inflicted. As it is, it’s all water off a duck’s back to her.
Next morning, the Rotts are surprised and then pleased to find not only Olympia gone but the horse they mistreated too – Olympia took him to get him away from Linda’s cruelty. She’s left her gypsy wagon home as payment and insurance the Rotts won’t come after him. But we can bet our Bonfire Night party that their paths will cross again. After all, there is that false charge of animal cruelty to be cleared up and we all want to see Linda get her comeuppance. Meanwhile, Olympia lands on her feet as a pony trek instructor at an adventure centre.
Elsewhere in the issue, the rabid dog that everyone’s been trying to find over the past several episodes of “Towne in the Country” finally gets tracked down and destroyed. But no luck yet in nailing that crooked pedlar who keeps selling fake animal medicine. At least Val stops him from drowning some puppies, ironically with help from the rabid dog.
“Sally in a Shell” is now more like Sally in a sweatshop. Dad and Dora reopen Miss Hanning’s craft shop as “The Shell Shop” and keep Sally locked in a room, cranking out shell ornaments at sweatshop pace for it. To add insult to injury, Sally finds out Dora is stealing the credit for making them. That’s the last straw for her, but how can she escape?
Babe wants to see a gangster film in town, but the snobs are pulling tricks to stop her going by landing her in a series of detentions. Babe breaks detention to see the film, but the snobs discover this. Can Babe sort them out before they grass on her?
In the new Molly Mills story, Mistress Claire is acting strangely: she wants a basket of raw fish; she wants a freezing cold bath prepared; she wants Molly to to buy some toys; and a flipper appears under her blanket. Molly finally finds out what’s going on when she discovers water coming down from Claire’s room.
Bella’s on the move for the Montreal Olympics again. This time she’s going on horseback, and we are informed she is about to face an erupting volcano.
In this issue one of Jinty’s most enduring stories, “Guardian of White Horse Hill”, starts. Janey still gets nightmares of her parents’ death and clings to her teddy. This makes things difficult when she gets fostered out and she gets off to a bad start. Things look up when a beautiful white horse appears and Janey offers it an apple. Then it just seems to disappear…like a ghost. There’s not a trace of it or hoofmarks.
Alley Cat is pursuing apples too, from Spotty Muchloot’s orchard. Spotty goes to extreme measures to deal with Alley Cat – chop down the apple trees. Dad is very angry to find his entire orchard has been felled.
This week’s Gypsy Rose story is a weird one to make sense of, and the protagonist in the story is clearly having a hard time making sense of it too. She’s an air stewardess who has a vision of an Indian boy named Rajan walking right off the plane in mid-flight. Nobody has any record of Rajan even being on board, yet she has a carved elephant he gave her. She asks Gypsy Rose for help, and they find Rajan was in hospital at the time of the flight. But yes, that’s definitely the carved elephant he made in woodwork class. He was going to give it to her on the flight. He thought it got lost in the fire that put him in hospital, but there it is in her possession. Okay, you confused yet? Nobody but Gypsy Rose seems to understand it.
Destiny Brown has seventh sight, yet she never seems to foresee how to keep out of trouble. She has gone in search of her father, who has been accused of bank robbery. She camps out for the night at a funfair but gets caught. What are they going to do with her?
Sue’s got problems with seeing through a microscope and calls on Henrietta for help with a “see through” spell. Unfortunately the spell gets skewed because Henrietta wasn’t on the ball, with hilarious hijinks. Fortunately everything works out in the end for all those who got caught up in it.
Goose girl Glenda enters a wildlife poster competition, using her beloved goose as a model. Bird-hating Mum foils her again, but Glenda’s not wasting the poster – she’s using it to demonstrate against the local goose-hunting. However, she is not getting any support – except for the geese behind her.
In “Stage Fright!”, Linda finds out why someone is gunning for her – Lord Banbury is leaving his mansion to her on condition she win the acting trophy that has been in the Banbury family for three generations. Everything points to Lady Alice being her enemy – but is she? Then Linda gets locked in. Her enemy again?
“Fran’ll Fix It” fixes a burglar posing as a policeman. But she could do something to fix things up for the poor gardener – she keeps accidentally dropping plaster casts on his head.
In “Cursed to be a Coward!”, the crazed Madam Leo almost drowns Marnie and gets away with it because the police won’t listen to Marnie. Cousin Babs suggests confrontation time with Madam Leo, so she and Marnie go together. There’s a real face-off starting. How will it work out?
Translations/Reprints: Girl (second series) Picture Library #29 (abridged); Tina 1986 as “Merel, het meisje van morgen” [Merel, the girl from tomorrow].
We continue our Halloween season with one of Tammy’s very best spooky stories, “Thursday’s Child”.
Life has always been good to Thursday Brown, at home and at school. Hmm, do we sense an “until” coming? Oh yes, and it starts when Mum tells Thursday to put the family Union Jack flag away in the loft until it is needed for the millennium celebrations in 2000. While doing so, Thursday ponders where she will be in 2000, and the thought crosses her mind that she might have a daughter.
Then Thursday decides to use the flag for a bedspread instead. Her mother reluctantly agrees, hinting there is something about that flag when she says there was a story grandfather told her about it. Thursday gets her first taste of this when she washes the flag: red liquid comes out in the wash, and Thursday is creeped out to find it feels more like blood to the touch than dye.
That night, the weirdness really begins. Thursday can’t sleep because she feels awful for some reason. She leaves the bed momentarily and recovers, but when she comes back there is a strange girl in her bed. The girl is crying and makes strange ramblings about her mother and how she’s suffering, and if only things had been different. Thursday also notices that the girl bears a resemblance to her. The girl introduces herself as Julie Kemp and really insists on staying, claiming it is her home after all. She wheedles Thursday into helping her stay on with a cover story to her parents.
At school, Julie plays nasty tricks on Thursday. Moreover, Thursday used to be popular, but now her friends just seem to go off her and make a big fuss over Julie instead. Thursday is out in the cold and nobody seems to care about her anymore. Most telling of all, Julie draws a picture of Thursday in a wheelchair in art class. This upsets Thursday, but nobody sympathises with her.
Thursday gets the feeling Julie is getting her own back on her for something, but for what? She has never done anything to Julie. But Julie is definitely giving Thursday evil, vindictive looks full of utter hate. When Julie is finally given thought bubbles, we see she is thinking Thursday deserves everything that’s coming to her.
Julie then claims to be Thursday’s own daughter from the future, and she has travelled back in time to the present. All the hints Julie has dropped now have Thursday thinking something horrible awaits her in the future and she will become wheelchair-bound. Thursday is also getting terrifying manifestations of blood on her face and hands (and it’s not stigmata), and experiences an inexplicable bout of paralysis in her legs. Julie just gloats over this.
During a fight with Julie, Thursday is consumed by a hatred she never felt before, and it shocks her when she realises. Then she sees the flag glowing. She shows this to Julie, who is disturbed by it too. Thursday tells Julie the flag is making them hate each other. Julie doesn’t argue. Is she having second thoughts about whatever it is she has against Thursday? She does become nicer to Thursday after this and even prompts Thursday’s friends to be nice to her again. But is Julie’s friendliness for real? She has put on false shows of niceness to Thursday before.
Remembering what Mum said about the flag, Thursday asks her for the story about it. But Mum can’t remember what it was. Thanks a lot, Mum.
Thursday decides to follow her mother’s advice and put the flag in the loft. But while doing so she has a fall, which both the flag and Julie (influenced by the flag) cause. The accident leaves Thursday’s legs paralysed for real, with no apparent explanation except shock (or the power of the flag?). Julie really is rubbing it in and Thursday is learning the hard way what it means to be disabled.
Despite her paralysis, Thursday manages to get the flag into the loft, hoping this will stop the trouble. But as soon as she turns the tap on, more blood-like water comes out. The parents put this down to dye running out because the flag was put near the water tank – but Thursday put it in the trunk! The flag is making it clear that being in the loft won’t stop it.
Julie has persistently refused to explain why she hates Thursday or just what happened in the future, but now she gives way. She is indeed Thursdays’ daughter from the future. In fact, the house Thursday living in now is where she will raise Julie once she’s married and the room that is currently Thursday’s will become Julie’s. In Julie’s time, Thursday’s careless driving (nagging at Julie over her untidy appearance instead of watching the road) caused an accident that left Julie’s legs paralysed. This embittered Julie and turned her against her mother. Then Thursday brought the flag out as a bedspread for Julie (oh, dear, where have we seen that before?) and gave her a library book about the Westshires, a British regiment that one of their ancestors served in. When Julie read it, it told her something about the flag. She then used the flag’s power to go back in time to regain the use of her legs, get her revenge on Thursday, and have Thursday know what it’s like to be paralysed. And she is determined to stay in Thursday’s time although she’s not supposed to be there and her presence is messing up continuity.
Thursday tracks down the library book. She learns a South Sea island chief, Battanga, ran a cult of the Undead, which ran amok. The Westshires were dispatched to crush the cult and Thursday’s great-grandfather killed Battanga. As Battanga lay dying, he cursed great-grandfather’s family, saying his blood is upon them and their descendants, and he will return for revenge someday. His bloodied hands grasped the flag as he made his curse (which would explain the blood manifestations). Since then, Thursday’s family have regarded the flag as “a token of ill-fortune” (but they just have to keep the ruddy thing, don’t they?).
Thursday now realises the flag has to be destroyed utterly. Julie won’t agree, as this would mean sending her back to the future where she will be paralysed. Thursday points out the future will be altered, as the flag, if destroyed in this time, won’t exist in Julie’s time as it did before, which may change the future and prevent the accident. Julie still won’t budge.
Then the flag has a workman take a hacksaw to his own hand (urrghh!) when he is told to remove everything in the loft. This has Julie realise things have gone too far and how horrible she’s been. She agrees to help Thursday take the flag to the dump to be burned, and take her chances on what happens when she returns to her own time.
But of course the flag puts up a fight – and how silly of them to drape it over Thursday’s wheelchair! The flag seizes its chance to race Thursday’s wheelchair over to the canal, wrap itself around her, and try to drown her while Battanga himself appears and gloats over Thursday’s impending doom. Fortunately Julie manages to save Thursday in time. After the rescue, Thursday suddenly finds she can walk again.
The flag washes up just where they want it to be – the dump – and it is thrown into a fire. Once the flag is destroyed, Julie vanishes. Thursday feels the timeline has been altered sufficiently to prevent Julie’s accident but “won’t know for sure until today catches up with tomorrow…”. Yeah, assuming it is the same tomorrow. What else will be altered because of Julie and the flag’s meddling with the timeline?
“Thursday’s Child” is a Tammy classic and it was hugely popular, attracting comment in the letters section and even Tammy’s 10th birthday issue. It sure was one of my favourites and I was dying to read the next episode each week.
The artwork of Juan Solé must have been a delightful novelty for Tammy readers. Solé’s artwork appeared more frequently in June, but this is his only Tammy serial. It is a shame he did not draw more for Tammy (apart from a couple of Strange Stories). I really enjoyed the artwork as much as the story, and the artwork must have added to its popularity.
The story was written by Pat Mills. This was at the height of the Misty era, so it’s not surprising it goes into a lot of themes that are strong, scary and dark: a cursed flag that can move on its own, exert influence evil influence over people and even glow in the dark when it’s aroused; a hate-crazed daughter out for revenge on her own mother; terrifying visions; inexplicable bouts of paralysis; threats of a terrible future ahead; a voodoo chief; the Undead (briefly); a man nearly sawing his hand off; and lots of blood. And ye Editor allowed it. The story would not be out of place in Misty. Could there be any other dark stuff Mills wrote into the story that ye Editor censored or diluted, which he did with a couple of completes Mills wrote for Misty?
The story certainly has a moral to be careful what you put on your bed, especially if you are warned there might be a history attached. The same thing happens in the Gypsy Rose story “Zebras of Zendobo“, where weird, terrifying things start to happen in a girl’s bedroom when she uses zebra skins as bedspreads despite warnings they come from sacred zebras her grandfather shot.
The way in which the flag carries out its curse certainly breaks the pattern we usually see in serials about cursed objects. Usually they force the protagonist to act nasty or commit acts she gets the blame for. Though both things happen in the story, the curse takes the unusual course of using time travel to bring in a hate-crazed girl from the future with an axe to grind against her own mother.
Julie’s hatred is arguably the most disturbing aspect of this story. Hate campaigns we have seen before in girls’ comics – but against your own mother? Or rather, the girl who will become your mother but for the moment is totally innocent of causing the accident. After all, it hasn’t happened yet in this time period. And just look at the things Julie does to Thursday and the hate-filled, gloating looks on her face. Even allowing for the flag having a hand in it…well, we know Thursday’s child has far to go, but in this case Thursday’s child goes too far!
The hate campaign goes against the usual pattern of the protagonist not realising the antagonist is campaigning against her. No, Julie makes no secret of the fact that she hates Thursday and is out to make her life a nightmare. It’s the reason why she’s doing that is part of the mystery that has to be solved, and girls just love mystery.
It’s also unusual in that Julie does turn out to have a reason to hate Thursday instead of being mistaken and getting things wrong, which is more usually the case. However, she has failed to consider that the accident caused by her mother’s carelessness has nothing to do with the 1979 Thursday. Therefore, like so many hate campaigners in girls’ serials, Julie is persecuting the wrong person, but in a different sense.
Moreover, Julie is so blinded by hate that she can’t see the flag is just using her for its own agenda. Sure, it’s helping her get revenge on Thursday, but what happens when it’s done with that? After all, Battanga said his curse would be on all descendants of the great-grandfather, and that includes Julie. We would not be surprised if the flag moved on to the rest of the family and Julie herself, and Julie finally realising what a Pandora’s Box she’s unleashed.
Despite herself, Julie adds odd bits of humour to the story, most of which stem from her landing in a time period years before her own. For example, when she sees Thursday’s Star Wars poster, she snorts at how out of date it is. She is also a bit put out to find she can only find BBC1 and BBC2 on television and asks whether they’ve invented BBC3 yet. But she’s not developed as a fish out of water.
The story also touches on the ramifications of the Butterfly Effect: change one thing and you change everything. It doesn’t delve into the Butterfly Effect except try to prevent Julie’s accident in the future and Thursday try to tell Julie that her presence is interfering with continuity. But what else has been altered by destroying the flag in 1979 instead of letting it hang around until it is used for Julie’s bedspread? Not to mention letting Thursday know the events of the future: a daughter named Julie; her married name is going to be Kemp; she will carry on living in the same house as now and raise her own family there; and the accident she will try to prevent. We are left wondering and worrying what’s going to happen because Thursday knows all this when she shouldn’t have and could easily do other things to change the timeline (like not name a daughter Julie), but the story doesn’t go into it.
The Butterfly Effect stems from one event at the beginning of the story: Thursday deciding to use the flag as a bedspread instead of putting it away until 2000 as her mother directed. Now, what if Thursday had obeyed her mother and put the flag away until 2000? Apart from us not having a story that is. Was it the first step on the timeline that led to Julie’s accident because the flag still existed in her time? Yet in this timeline Thursday puts the flag on her bed, which sets in motion the events in the story and the destruction of the flag in 1979, and therefore it will no longer exist in the time period Julie came from. This has us wondering if the flag sent Julie on the wrong timeline and she ended up in (to her) a parallel universe, with a parallel world Thursday instead of the Thursday that will become her mother. If so, the irony is it led to the flag’s own destruction in 1979 and Julie persecuted the wrong Thursday altogether. Perhaps the flag confused things because in both timelines it was used for a bedspread, and in the same bedroom.
We also wonder how Julie will fare once she returns to the future. Knowing comic books, the timeline that led to her accident has been erased and she can still use her legs – but what timeline has taken its place? Julie is bound to return to an altered timeline, one where she could be a castaway in an alternate timeline she can’t change and is left reaping the consequences of her blind hatred. It might even be a timeline where she was never born. We have only Thursday’s feeling that everything will work out for them both to reassure us that the time meddling won’t mess things too much (like in Back to the Future). But if it’s been said once, it’s been said at least a thousand times: don’t meddle with the past.
As with another Pat Mills story, “Land of No Tears“, “Thursday’s Child” makes a point about disability and treatment of the disabled. But instead of decrying harsh attitudes towards disability as in “Land of No Tears” the story takes a few moments to comment on how patronising attitudes and treating disabled people as objects of sympathy do not help disabled people that much. This is one reason why Julie wants to show Thursday what being disabled is like. Curiously, both stories use time travel elements to make their respective statements about disability, yet they have disabled girls going in opposite directions: one travels from the 1970s travels to the future, the other travels from the future to the 1970s.
We fill another October gap here. As the cover indicates, it is the start of a new serial, “Gertie Grit the Hateful Brit!”, but one thing puzzles me about it: why does the cover show Gertie Grit with long green sleeves when in fact she has bare arms?
Inside, Jinty seems to be paying Halloween some early homage with Alley Cat, who has a dream about a witch turning him into a worm. He gets used as fish bait, but the spell wears off in time for him to catch fish of his own. When he wakes up he really does catch fish, which have fallen off the back of a lorry.
In the first episode of “Gertie Grit, the Hateful Brit!”, Gertie hails from Roman Britain. There’s a definite Flintstones feel about Gertie’s home environment, but we don’t get much chance to see it before she steals a magic time-travel pendant from Druid Caractacus. Off she goes, and her first stop in time is the boudoir of Helen of Troy. Though it hardly looks it, Gertie’s is the face that launches the fabled 1000 ships when she mucks about with Helen’s makeup. Gertie then discovers Caractacus is following her through time to get his pendant back, but she isn’t going to let him do it that easily. And so the pattern is set for the rest of the episodes to follow. We are informed that Gertie meets Nell Gwynn in the next issue. Pity poor Nell…
In “Stefa’s Heart of Stone”, Stefa is trying to turn her heart into stone after losing her best friend Joy, which for everyone is more like “Stefa’s head of stupidity”. Stefa’s now trying to get herself expelled to get away from Ruth Graham, the girl who looks almost like Joy. However, Ruth keeps foiling Stefa’s attempts to do so. You’re not getting rid of Ruth that easily, Stefa!
In Victorian times, Lady Daisy de Vere and a skivvy named Maud have accidentally switched lives. Maud is taking advantage of a posh finishing school (shades of My Fair Lady), and this week she is trying to cover the fact that she’s barely literate by pretending to have an injured hand. Meanwhile, Daisy attempts to run from the horrible downstairs life she has landed in, but she gets recaptured, brutally beaten, and then chained to a kitchen range until she’s finished cleaning it.
Hugh Thornton-Jones is doing double duty as filler artist for “Champion in Hiding” and “The Jinx from St Jonah’s”. In the former, Firefly foils some sheep rustlers but gets badly hurt, and cruel Aunt Shirley is still a real slavedriver to our protagonist Mitzi. In the latter, Katie attempts to reconcile a quarrelsome couple who keep breaking off their engagement. It succeeds, but in an extremely weird way that leaves us all scratching our heads along with Katie.
Helen Ryan escapes from the bubble she was kept in for lack of germ resistance and even joins an art class. But then she feels horribly ill. Maybe she should have stayed in the bubble after all? Meanwhile, Miss Vaal discovers Helen has escaped and says “she will have to take the consequences”. Now that sounds very, very ominous…
In “Rose among the Thornes”, motorcycle roughs are raising hell in the village, and Rose discovers the Thornes are behind it in a scheme to shut down a café. She manages to foil that scheme but knows the Thornes will have another brewing soon.
Jassy discovers Mr Danby is taking advantage of her water-dowsing powers to extort payment and goods out of drought-stricken people. Her response is to walk out on Danby, but then she jumps from the frying-pan into the fire. She gets captured by Sir Harmer Jeffreys, the man in charge of the power plant. He’s heard the gossip about her and Danby, and whatever he’s got in mind for her does not sound promising.
Another extortionist threatens Sue, one of the “Sisters at War”. Sue gives in to his demands to meet him, but the blackmailer reckons without Uncle Jason. Uncle manages to deal to the blackmailer but then collapses with a heart condition. He swears Sue to secrecy. Then sister Sylvia jumps to the wrong conclusion about what happened and it’s “sisters at war” again.