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?

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