Stories in this issue:
- Come Into My Parlour (artist Douglas Perry)
- Two Mothers for Maggie (artist Jim Baikie)
- Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
- Guardian of White Horse Hill (artist Julian Vivas)
- Stage Fright! (artist Phil Townsend)
- Gypsy Rose: A Picture of the Past (artist and writer Keith Robson)
- Alley Cat
- Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
- Race for a Fortune
I got this issue out to scan the Gypsy Rose story for the Keith Robson interview, as it is the first script he wrote as well as being drawn by him. It’s a cool time-travel story with a twist, and one that I found memorable; it came to mind many years later when I visited Lacock Abbey where the inventor of photography, Fox Talbot, lived.
“Come Into My Parlour” is spooky: I find Douglas Perry’s artwork very atmospheric for this sort of thing. Evil old Mother Heggerty is proper creepy! She forces Jodie Marsh to be her slave, her literal cat’s-paw, to get revenge on a family called Saxton – and when Jodie tries to rebel, she is reminded of how under the spell she is as she can’t even take off the cat’s-paw necklace that binds her to the old witch…
“Two Mothers for Maggie” contrasts Maggie Jones’ glamorous role in a tv soap opera with her humdrum life in a house full of poverty and hard work: she tries to do her homework and instead has to help the kids with breakfast while her slobby stepfather gobbles down his full English. The whole story is Maggie being tugged between her family – especially her mother, who she dearly loves – and her exciting life in tv and the luxury of her telly mother’s home.
“Guardian of White Horse Hill” has runaway Janey finding out that her mysterious white horse is actually Epona, the Celtic horse goddess! No wonder when she gets on the horse’s back she is invisible – an easy task for a goddess presumably. Powerful beings like that have a habit of wanting something in return, and Janey starts to find out more as she is dragged back into Celtic times…
“Stage Fright!” is a thriller mystery based around a girl with amnesia and another girl who is being made to win an acting trophy, otherwise her father will lose his job. (Of course this sort of blackmail is hardly unusual in girls’ comics, as you have gathered by now!) Protagonist Linda has taken her new friend Melanie to be hypotised, hoping it will bring back her memory and even the voice that she lost in the same accident that made her amnesiac. It works, but reveals a greater threat at the house they both live in: Melanie’s aunt is a scheming murderess who caused the death of Melanie’s father and mother in a boating accident – yes, it’s rather melodramatic as a plot item but the scene is drawn beautifully by Phil Townsend. Can the two girls secretly work against the aunt?
“Land of No Tears” is still at an early stage at this point, but Cassie already has a plan to get back at the bitchy Alpha girls in the dystopian world she has landed in: she will lead her pack of Gamma girls to win the Golden Girl trophy! It would be a hopeless task except that one of them turns out to be superb at gymnastics. Hmm, now what secret is Miranda hiding?
“Race for a Fortune” is a light-weight amusing comedy story with a scruffs-vs-snobs theme: Katie is up against her two posh cousins in a race to get to the Scottish ancestral land of their late grandfather, starting off with nothing in their pockets. Katie is clearly far more resourceful than the two poshos; it doesn’t always work out for her but this week she manages to get her cousins stuck in a medical research facility, being well-paid to help science by trying to catch a cold! And of course in the meantime Katie gets a few days’ head start, grinning as she goes… This is drawn by the same unknown artist who drew one of my favourite stories, “Concrete Surfer“.