Stories in this issue:
- Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
- Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
- Spirit of the Lake (artist Phil Townsend, writer ?Benita Brown)
- Alley Cat
- The Perfect Princess (artist Trini Tinturé)
- The Poisoned Rose – Gypsy Rose story (artist Trini Tinturé)
- Toni on Trial (artist Terry Aspin)
- Robin Cousins (text feature)
- Winning Ways 6: The Dolphin Butterfly Stroke (writer Benita Brown)
- White Water (artist Jim Baikie)
- When Statues Walk… (artist Phil Gascoine)
What a jolly, lively cover! The next week’s issue will have a much more dramatic set of images, but it’s nice to have some variety.
This issue leads off with the mostly-humorous stories of “Pam of Pond Hill” and her friends. Marty is suffering through having her brainy sister Trina as her training coach – suffering being the right word because she is also hiding a sports injury, or trying to. Pam is worried because she can see something is wrong although Marty isn’t letting on – but as the episode ends up with Marty lying on the shower room floor in a faint, the cat is let out of the bag! This is a well-handled example of the ‘stony face’ sort of plot idea – the suffering heroine who tries to hide it, normally very annoyingly. In this story we feel genuinely worried for Marty, alongside Pam and her friends.
In “Spirit of the Lake”, horrid Cynthia is laying it on thick by pretending to have lost her memory of the accident in the previous episode, whereas really she wants to trick Karen into revealing her secret skating teacher. The tables are turned when Karen is stopped from following the speed-skating Cynthia down the end of the lake – because the ghostly skater has turned up to warn of thin ice and deadly danger! Will Karen be able to skate fast enough to save Cynthia next week – and will Cynthia be at all grateful, I wonder?
“The Perfect Princess” shows the aftermath of the exploded cannon in the tower that Victoria was trapped in – her parents think she is dead and even her rival Sally is faintly sorry: “Victoria was anything but sweet and lovely! Still, I wouldn’t have wanted her blown up.” However, Victoria is alive and well and still scheming – and has been handed an absolute godsend tool to use against her challenger, in the form of precious information about Sally’s background that she had been trying to keep hidden.
There is a second Trini story in this issue – a Gypsy Rose story of a spiteful cousin who asks a wicked magician for a charm to make sure that her object of desire falls in love with her and not her rival. The charm turns the sweet cousin into a bad-tempered shrew – but true love wins through before too long.
“Toni on Trial” has Toni running away from her club’s outing on a bleak rainy night; but this turns into a blessing in disguise when she finds a frightened kid whose friend has had an accident. Toni applies some basic first aid and common sense, and runs to get help; but meanwhile, her friend Anne has gone to Toni’s grandparents house and broken the news that she has run away, which the grandfather reacts very badly to – by burning Toni’s new running shoes! “It’s like her mother all over again! She brought shame on the family. Now her daughter’s done the same! … As long as she lives in this house, she’ll never take place in another race!”
The Sports Jinty pages in the middle of the comic feature ice skater Robin Cousins – very suitable for a weekly paper with an ice skating story in it – and a didactic strip showing you how to do a butterfly stroke in swimming, by kicking like a dolphin. It’s quite a good teaching method, I suspect, for small and specific ways to improve your performance in your chosen sport. Here is an example page, as we have not shown one before on this blog.
Bridie Mason is finally paddling her own canoe rather than a borrowed club boat. Here again there are a number of teaching tips – in this case on understanding the ‘draw stroke’. It’s far from all about teaching though – the drama is not far away as snobby rival Jocelyn is happy to needle Bridie into spending money she can’t really afford, not when she still has to pay off her new canoe. She finds the money by agreeing with her mother that they can sell her electric sewing machine, but it all backfires when her canoe teacher lets the cat out of the bag that Bridie has already earmarked the money for her new “White Water”!
“When Statues Walk” has Laura thinking she is rescuing an innocent princess from the fearsome clay warriors; there are some lovely, atmospheric pages as she makes her way past the watchers to the buried longship with the prisoner. The prisoner is untied – and the deception is unravelled too, as it becomes clear that she is not Princess Leh, but Hel, demon goddess of the underworld!