Monthly Archives: January 2022

Make Headlines, Hannah! (1979-1980)

Sample Images

Published: Tammy 17 November 1979 – 26 January 1980 

Episodes: 11

Artist: Tony Coleman

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: Girl Picture Library #23 as “Fame and Fortune”

Plot

Hannah Hilton is regarded as the failure of her family, a line of success stories. She lives in the shadow of her sisters Jane and Louise, who are showered with attention and the lion’s share in everything because they are brilliant and succeed in everything. People are always whispering and laughing at what a failure Hannah is. Her apathetic parents treat her as if she doesn’t exist. They don’t lend her any help, encouragement or sympathy, especially her mother.

Great Uncle Matt, who is paying a visit, tells Hannah he will give her £100 if she can make a name for herself in the papers upon his return. It appears to be meant as a joke as much as an incentive. Still, it sets Hannah going and she starts entering a series of events to hit the headlines and prove herself. Her actions eventually focus on the town carnival. 

However, Hannah’s every attempt to hit the headlines keeps being foiled by dirty tricks from her sisters. When they become the carnival princesses, they are in a stronger position to sabotage Hannah at the carnival. However, the sisters’ spite has the unexpected effect of Hannah acquiring help from others, though not from her apathetic parents. In fact, Mum just grumbles at how Hannah has changed since Uncle Matt’s money promise, as she’s not sitting quietly in the back seat anymore and even shouting at her sisters for their spite. By contrast, Hannah’s new friend Derek has noticed the sisters’ dirty tricks and offers help in any way he can. Another helper emerges at the carnival after Jane and Louise wreck Hannah’s attempt to present a letter to the guest pop star. To cheer her up, he gives her a costume to help raise money. Hannah is successful at this, but it doesn’t make her name. 

Jane and Louise’s next trick is to set Hannah up at a rag week fund-raising competition to make a fool of her. Following this, Hannah finds another helper, Mrs Taylor. In return for Hannah finding her lost dog, Mrs Taylor says the Colonel is just what she needs to succeed. The Colonel is a stuffed fortune-telling parrot who was a popular attraction in Victorian times. Mrs Taylor had several requests from the mayor to revive him, but as she is too old for it, she is lending him to Hannah to do so at the antiques fair. Outside, the sisters and a friend of theirs, Mandy, hear Hannah and Mrs Taylor talking about Colonel. The sisters just laugh, but it rings a bell with Mandy and she seems more intrigued. 

Soon everything looks all set for Hannah to hit the headlines when she revives Colonel at the fair, complete with reporters and the mayor all eager to see it. But on the morning of the fair, disaster strikes – someone breaks into Mrs Taylor’s cottage. The place is turned inside out and Colonel vandalised. Hannah manages to repair Colonel and is determined to put him on anyway. Before she does, she confronts her sisters over her suspicions that they were behind it. However, she is not so sure when she later hears them accusing each other of it. 

At the fair, she discovers her display stand has been dismantled because the fairground staff heard about the attack and thought she wouldn’t be able to make it. But she is surprised when Uncle Matt turns up. Derek had written to him about Hannah’s situation and he has come to help. He pushes things to get a stall for Hannah and Colonel and pictures with the mayor. But he pushes things so far for Hannah rather than helping her to do things for herself that he unwittingly pushes Hannah into the background again. 

Uncle Matt is so impressed at Hannah’s hard work at the fair that he gives her the money he promised. But Hannah feels it did not bring her the success she was looking for. What’s more, she soon discovers she still hasn’t really earned her family’s respect and her sisters still hog the family limelight. Besides that, there is still the mystery of the attack on Colonel.

Then Hannah learns more about Colonel’s history and discovers there are rumours about him guarding some sort of treasure. Believing this is the motive for the attack and figuring the culprit is someone who knows her, Hannah works out a plan to catch them. She also examines Colonel and finds a name plate on his base with the word “Domingo”, but can’t figure out what it means. 

To flush out the culprit, Hannah throws a party with Uncle Matt’s money, to gather all the people who know her. Her sisters steal the limelight at the party, but Hannah is more interested in using the party to set a trap. This entails drawing everyone’s attention to Colonel at the party, say they’re dropping him off at Mrs Taylor’s cottage, and then wait. The thieves take the bait, and Hannah sneaks inside to surprise them while Derek calls the police. The trap snares Mandy and an unnamed boy, all ready for the police. Belatedly, Hannah remembers Mandy overheard her discussing Colonel with Mrs Taylor.

The police also clear up the mystery of Domingo: it’s the name plate and last surviving piece of Nelson’s flag ship “Domingo”, and it’s worth a fortune at auction. The valuable find and catching the thieves earns Hannah the name and respect she had been seeking for so long.

Thoughts

Girls’ comics have a long tradition of serials about plain girls who never shine at anything, are written off as losers, often get teased over it, and grow tired of living in the shadows. But stepping out of the shadows is far from easy, and there are always loads of setbacks and disappointments in between. And it’s never because they are genuinely incompetent or stupid. It’s because a) they have poor self-esteem and no confidence in themselves, b) their appearance is often against them, c) their home and/or school environment is letting them down, and d) there’s always some spiteful person out to sabotage them. 

Hannah is no exception. Lack of confidence and self-esteem rather than incompetence are the obvious cause of her never winning anything, and her home environment is clearly to blame for it. It is doing nothing to build her confidence or support or help her in any way. In fact, it is doing the total opposite. Hannah’s school environment is not shown, but it is unlikely to be helping much either. A serious makeover would go a long way to building Hannah’s confidence, but nobody in the family ever gives her one. The only family member to help Hannah in any way is her Uncle Matt. After all, it is his promise of money that finally gives Hannah the incentive to make something of herself and climb out of the shadows. But even he is not quite going about things the right way. 

Hannah is lucky in that she does find genuine helpers, most notably Derek and Mrs Taylor. Many girls in similar situations don’t have even that e.g. Kathy Clowne in “Tears of a Clown” (Jinty). Without their help Hannah could never have overcome her spiteful sisters and finally made a name for herself. Some failing parents in similar stories offer last-minute help that helps redeem themselves and save the day, such as “Sheena So Shy” and “Belinda Bookworm” from Tammy. Sadly, this is not the case with Hannah’s parents.

We also note that Hannah would have won far sooner if her sisters hadn’t keep interfering, and her failures to hit the headlines have nothing to do with incompetence. We also have to wonder why the sisters bother to sabotage her at all if they’re so confident she won’t succeed in getting the money anyway: “Caterpillars will be walking to the moon and back before Hannah shines at anything!” Unlike, say, Sandra Simpkins in “Tears of a Clown”, their motives for derailing Hannah are not clear. The nearest we get to it is their telling Hannah she’s only thinking of the money, but that doesn’t sound like their real motive. Do they secretly fear she might win after all? Do they want to make doubly sure she won’t succeed and fail to get the money? Or are they just doing it out of spite and think it’s all one huge joke?

Most heroines in Hannah’s situation discover some surprise talent and try to prove themselves through it. Kathy Clowne, for example, finds she is brilliant at running, and Sheena Willcox in “Sheena So Shy” discovers how to turn her refuge in disco dancing into a fight for success. But Hannah doesn’t go this route. This is probably because she has to meet Uncle Matt’s deadline, so it’s hit the headlines any way she can as fast as she can. But instead of her just winning in the end and getting the money, the story takes the novel route of making Hannah a winner by giving her a mystery to solve. And if there is one thing girls love, it is mystery. Unravelling the mystery makes the final episode even more exciting to read. The story also takes a surprise twist of Hannah using the money she is promised to help her succeed when readers expected Hannah to just make her name and being given the money. 

There is just one question readers may be wondering: is Hannah’s triumph at the end going to be a one-off, or will it be the start of Hannah’s own success? The story gives no hint, but along the way to hitting the headlines, a number of hidden talents did come to light for Hannah: creativity, fund raising, horseshoe throwing, deduction, fortune telling with Colonel, and even ventriloquism. Any one or all of these could be taken further to boost Hannah’s confidence and further her gains as a success. And, as mentioned earlier, poor self-esteem and lack of confidence and support were at the root of Hannah’s failures. Now these are sure to get a boost, Hannah is bound to make strides in improving herself.

Jinty 14 January 1978

Come Into My Parlour – artist Douglas Perry

Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! – artist Hugh Thornton-Jones

Two Mothers for Maggie – Jim Baikie

Alley Cat – artist Rob Lee

Waking Nightmare – Phil Townsend

Willy de Ville – feature 

Rinty ‘n’ Jinty – cartoon

Darling Clementine – artist Richard Neillands, writer Alison Christie

Susanna’s Snowstorm (Gypsy Rose story) – artist Keith Robson 

Land of No Tears – artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills

Race for a Fortune – artist Christine Ellingham

The Wild Horse – feature 

Jody has become evil thanks to an additional spell from the witch Mother Heggerty. She now believes she is capable of anything, regardless of how terrible it is, and is loving every minute of it. How is she going to break free of Mother Heggerty’s power when right now she doesn’t even want to?

Cassy gets even more of a taste of how totalitarian this Land of No Tears is. She learns the Hive Inspector, who’s about to pay a visit, has powers to take you away: “No one knows where to, but you never return!” Shades of the Gestapo! Miranda is terrified she will meet this fate if the Inspector finds out she is secretly seeing her mother, and she breaks off with Cassy. Meanwhile, the ruthless Perfecta breaks off with her own friend to train every waking hour for the Golden Girl Award. Cassy is shocked to see the former bosom pals “walking away from each other like robots!” 

Ella bravely sets out to learn to waterski to win the competition for Clem, in the face of everyone who’s against her because they think she deliberately caused Clem’s accident. But her first attempt at waterskiing is such a disaster she’s lucky she didn’t hurt herself.

The same can also be said for sneaky cousin Rodney when he steals Katie’s roller skates to overtake her in the “Race for a Fortune”. But he soon finds he’s nowhere near as good on them as she is. He goes careering down a hill and lands on the back of a rodeo steer with her! Roller skating is back in the hands of the expert by the end of the episode. Thanks to his little stunt she has taken the lead again, and she’s gotten a lot of money out of it as well. 

In “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!”, a thief breaks into the school, his first attempt at crime. But his remark that he could become the world’s leading cat burglar really is asking for it with Henrietta around, especially when she’s the first thing he tries to steal. Needless to say, his first attempt at crime is his last by the end of the episode.

In the Gypsy Rose story, Susanna is given a snowstorm and finds it has a tale to tell, with each instalment appearing every time she shakes it. The trouble is, the tale is scaring her to death. Gypsy Rose tells Susanna that she must either follow it through to know how the tale ended or put the snowstorm away. Susanna decides to follow through because she must know (not to mention us readers) what the ending is, but what will the final shake of the snowstorm reveal?

Maggie’s sleazy stepfather shows what an abuser he is when he gets so mad he locks her in the coal shed without food or water. Then he refuses to let her see her TV debut, so she has to go to a TV shop in pouring rain to see it. Maggie has a good mind to tell Miss Keyes about the abuse, but she’s staying quiet because Mum doesn’t want word to get around.

Alley Cat is back. Arch-enemy Spotty Muchloot picks on him for first aid practice, and now poor Alley Cat looks like an oversized cocoon. But can he still turn things around?

Phil finds out the girl she saw being bundled off in the middle of the night is named Carol, and her mother is clearly not telling the truth about things. Phil manages to wheedle Carol’s current address out of the mother, enabling her to write to Carol. Carol’s reply is a coded message for help. The plot thickens!

Tammy 8 January 1977

Cover artist: John Richardson

Babe at St Wood’s – artist José Casanovas

Towne in the Country – Mario Capaldi

Curtains for Cathy – artist Douglas Perry

The Joker’s Last Laugh (The Strange Story) – artist Hugo D’Adderio

Bessie Bunter

Molly Mills and the Gipsy Gymnast (first episode) – artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon

Nightmare at Grimm Fen – artist Diane Gabbot(t)

Wee Sue – artist John Johnston?

Katie on Thin Ice (first episode) – artist John Armstrong

This is one of my favourite Tammy covers. There’s also a dash of panto, which ties in with the Christmas theme from last month. Also tying in with the panto/Christmas theme is this week’s Bessie Bunter story, where Bessie plays fairy godmother to a needy girl (below). This is one of my favourite Bessie stories.

Tammy’s first new story for 1977 is “Katie on Thin Ice”. It’s beautifully drawn by John Armstrong, who proves with this story that he can handle historical period stories and ice skating as adroitly as the Bella strip. Katie Williams is looking forward to seeing her father return from the Battle of Waterloo – only to find he died in it. She’s now an orphan, with nothing but the ice skates and some money he bequeathed her. But we all know what happens to 19th century protagonists in girls’ comics who suddenly find themselves all alone in the world – they jump from the frying pan into the fire by falling foul of a villainous 19th century type. In this case it’s a female Fagin named Mrs Winter, who starts blackmailing Katie into using her ice skates for crime. 

Bella is on New Year break, but Molly looks after the gymnastics theme in her new story. The staff are going to have a sports day against staff another establishment, but they lack a decent gymnast. Then Molly finds one among the local gipsies camping nearby. But will Pickering be persuaded to give the gipsy girl a chance?

In “Nightmare at Grimm Fen”, Robert le Mal hits the airwaves with his evil influence. He even times it with the football results to get plenty of viewers to watch his broadcast and become instant followers. Now they’ve turned into ugly mobs ready to attack anyone who is not paying him homage. Now that’s pretty crafty use of 20th century technology for a medieval knight!

Wee Sue’s story this week is a lion-taming one. Satan the lion is acting strangely. His behaviour rings a bell with Sue, but she can’t remember why – until Miss Bigger’s trademark gnashers jog her memory. Then it’s an emergency dash to the circus to save a lion tamer from a lion with toothache!

In “Towne in the Country” the camel train across the Sahara continues but is striking serious problems. Their first oasis is dry, two camels get shot and are only saved when Val treats them, and now a sandstorm strikes. Instead of waiting it out like the others, Val takes off into the sandstorm to find one of the camels she treated, and now she’s lost in the storm.

It’s midnight feast time at Babe at St Wood’s, but the sneaky snobs tip off the prefects and the feast gets confiscated. Babe applies her gangster skills to get their teacher to re-confiscate the food for a butterfly walk. So the girls get the food after all, and Babe gives the snobs a very grassy revenge for grassing – a ton of turf dumped all over them. 

Whoever is trying to drive Cathy away from the theatre is really getting to her now. Cathy is so freaked out she almost runs away, and when she decides to return, she suddenly finds blood all over her face and hands. How did that happen?

In the Strange Story, Sheila laughs at the idea of ghosts. So she refuses to be put off by rumours that a local inn is haunted. A man at the inn warns her not to laugh at things just because science hasn’t proved their existence, and challenges her to enter the haunted room at midnight. Still scoffing at ghosts, Sheila accepts. Wow, where is this challenge going to end up, especially when it’s a Strange Story?

Jinty 7 January 1978

Come Into My Parlour – artist Douglas Perry

Darling Clementine – artist Richard Neillands, writer Alison Christie

Two Mothers for Maggie – Jim Baikie

Waking Nightmare (first episode) – Phil Townsend

Superstars ‘78 – feature 

Calendar 1978 – feature 

Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! – artist Hugh Thornton-Jones

Mark Hamill of “Star Wars” – feature 

Land of No Tears – artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills

Rinty ‘n’ Jinty – cartoon

Race for a Fortune – artist Christine Ellingham

A Box of Silken Flowers – feature

This is Jinty’s first issue for 1978. It’s not her New Year issue, which took the odd turn of being on the last day of the old year 1977, but there are still New Year themes. We also get a delightful feature about Mark Hamill of Star Wars.

Jinty starts her first story for 1978, “Waking Nightmare”. The nightmare begins when Phil Carey is woken up by toothache and sees a girl being dragged off in the middle of the night. Her parents don’t believe her, and at the house where Phil saw the girl being taken, the mother denies everything – but she does make odd remarks about a secret and trouble she hoped to leave behind. We’re suspicious already.

Sue’s new year’s resolution is to be extra-nice to people, and she urges her fun-bag to hold her to it. But she soon finds her excessive niceness is turning her into a nuisance and now she’s in trouble with a lot of people. We suggest your resolution should just be yourself, Sue. 

On the subject of niceness, Mother Heggerty has found the Saxtons and wants revenge on them, but she finds her slave Jody is too nice for that. So she casts an additional spell to make Jody evil. Now why the silly old witch couldn’t have picked an evil girl like Stacey from Jinty’s Slave of Form 3B in the first place we’ll never know, but we’re deeply worried. The spell is bound to make Jody far more evil than any genuinely bad girl we’ve seen in Jinty.

In the Land of No Tears, the cold-hearted residents get a real surprise when the “reject” Gamma Girls beat the odds and are through to the finals of the Golden Girl Award. It should be a victory celebration for Cassy, but security have put the damper on everything by saying they will be sending the Hive Inspector over to make enquiries. And judging from the way Miranda’s mystery mother is reacting, this Inspector is kind of like the Gestapo.

In part two of “Darling Clementine”, Clementine (Clem) is in a coma after some horrible girl knocks her into the river. Worse, her cousin Ella is being accused of it instead, and everyone, including her own Uncle, turns against her. Poor Ella is not even allowed to visit Clem in hospital. Not knowing what else to do, Ella bravely decides to train herself up for the water-ski event that Clem was going to enter.

“Race for a Fortune” takes a spooky turn, but a hilarious one. Katie thinks her cousins’ latest trick is to play Roman ghosts on her at an old barn. So when a pair of glowing Romans does appear, she thinks it’s a huge joke and plays along with it. But she learns later that the glowing Romans weren’t her cousins. In fact, they scared those cheating cousins off. Unfortunately, not right back to the beginning of the race. 

The strife over “Two Mothers for Maggie” takes a very bad turn this week. Mum forbade Maggie to go to Miss Keyes’ party, where she could be on the rise as a star. Maggie goes there anyway and soon she is on the rise after saving Miss Keyes’ dog. Then Mum comes along in a terrible temper and drags her out in front of everyone. How embarrassing! And it’s not over. Poor Maggie has to face the wrath of her unfit guardian stepfather next week. 

Tammy 5 January 1980

Cover artist: John Richardson

Cindy of Swan Lake – artist Ana Rodriguez

Sister in the Shadows (first episode) – artist Giorgio Giorgetti

Daughter of the Desert – artist Mario Capaldi

Edie the Ed’s Niece – artist Joe Collins

Ring the Changes (Strange Story) – artist unknown

Bessie Bunter

Molly Mills and the Promotion (first episode) – artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon

Wee Sue – artist Robert MacGillivray

Make Headlines, Hannah! – artist Tony Coleman

Turn of the Year (Strange Story) – artist Peter Wilkes

Tuck-In with Tammy – feature 

For New Year we bring you Tammy’s New Year issue from 1980. This is the last New Year issue to use the Cover Girls. If they had known they would be dropped in October that year, we don’t think it would have been a very Happy New Year for them. It was a common in-joke for a Cover Girls cover to show someone holding a Tammy with the same cover or a tie-in cover. In this case, old year 1979 looks like he’s got the Tammy with the cover showing new year 1980 on it.

As it turned out, new year 1980 was a big one for Tammy. Just two weeks after this issue came out, Misty merged with Tammy, and the effect resonated for several years. 

The issue is chock-a-block with New Year-themed stories from the regulars. Wee Sue, Bessie Bunter, Edie, and the Storyteller with a double helping of Strange Stories are all in on the act. So is Molly, with her new story, “The Promotion”. Sadly, it’s not a good start for the New Year for her. Ironically, it’s because of something that should be very happy for her – she is chosen for the staff promotion. But the other servants don’t look happy about it, and neither is Molly. She isn’t one of the gang anymore because of the promotion. 

New Year was a popular time for girls’ comics to start new stories, and two stories start in this issue. The first is Molly’s new story. The other is “Sister in the Shadows”. Wendy Weekes is off to a new start, at her new school, but it’s already off to a bad start because everyone expects her to live up to the success of her older sister Stella. As if this weren’t bad enough, it’s also making Wendy unpopular with the other girls and a prime target for bullying.

In the old stories, things are finally looking up for Hannah Hilton, who is trying to become a success after nothing but failure, in the form of her nasty sisters who keep trying to sabotage her. Hannah is about to revive an old attraction at the fair. The mayor, who had been requesting it for years, is all agog, and so are the reporters. Seems nothing can go wrong this time – but then there’s a policeman at the door. Is it Hannah’s sisters again or something far more serious?

In “Cindy of Swan Lake”, Cindy Grey goes on tour. It should be a great experience, but, as usual, she’s lumbered with the company of her jealous rival Zoe Martin, who is also out to sabotage her. Zoe’s sabotage takes the form of head games, playing on Cindy being worried sick about her beloved swan who is being poisoned by pollution.

And in “Daughter of the Desert”, the mysterious Arab figure who seems connected to a strange series of desert-related incidents at a boarding school, leads our heroines into a trap – of quicksand!