We’ve covered excellent stories “Almost Human” and “Village of Fame” in previous posts; a science fiction and a Big Brother surveillance-story respectively. Bizzie Bet is the lead character in a humour strip that lasts less well than some of her peers did, but which is ephemeral fun nevertheless; “A Girl Called Gulliver” straddled the borderline between being a humour strip and being a standard strip with humorous aspects and enough narrative energy to it to say it has a proper arc.
“The Disappearing Dolphin” reaches its last episode in this issue; it’s an adventure story with archaeology, diving, and a villain who is only unmasked in these last few pages. Beautifully drawn, if not that strong a story overall; the ending is rushed. “Mike and Terry” is an interesting and unusual type of strip – a “career” themed story, where the career in question is – being a detective! Also unusually, one of the title characters is a boy, or rather a young man – private eye Mike Temple has a sidekick, blonde Terry, who is sometimes cleverer and quicker than he is – and sometimes too clever for her own good.
If a lot of the stories are going in similar pairs in this issue, then the last pair needs to be “Pandora’s Box” and “Combing Her Golden Hair”. The former is a story of witchcraft combined with a lead character’s determination to follow her path despite family resistance: Pandora Carr discovers her aunt is a witch who uses magic to get where she wants in life, and who expects Pandora to do the same. However, the stubborn girl thinks she has enough talent to get through her time at stage school without magic, at which her aunt only laughs and says she’s welcome to try. The family resistance is benign rather than constraining – a sort of ‘told-you-so’ – but still forms the spine of the narrative.
However, it is “Combing Her Golden Hair”, here in its first episode, which to me is the stand-out story. In these first four pages we meet lonely schoolgirl Tamsin, who lives with her dragon of a grandmother who forbids her from doing many things she might want to do, such as swimming; a mysterious silver comb entrances her and leads her to start to dream of many impossible things.
Stories in this issue:
- Almost Human (artist Terry Aspin)
- Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)
- Village of Fame (artist Jim Baikie)
- Mike and Terry (artist Peter Wilkes)
- The Disappearing Dolphin (artist Trini Tinturé)
- Combing Her Golden Hair (artist Phil Townsend)
- A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
- Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters)