Category Archives: Issues

My Strange Sister [1981]

Sample Images

Strange Sister 1Strange Sister 2Strange Sister 3

Published: Dreamer #1 (19 September 1981) – 10 (21 November 1981)

Episodes: 10

Artist: Photo story

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: Girl Monthly #25, June 1988

Dreamer is a little-known photo story comic. Like many other new IPC titles of the 1980s it did not last long, and it became the first title to merge into Girl 2. It looks like Dreamer liked to have cute little animals decorating her bottom margins too. “My Strange Sister” was one of the stories in Dreamer’s very first lineup. Another of her first stories, “Who Stole Samantha?”, was written by Alison Christie.

Plot

Joanne Baxter tells her own story. She had once been an aspiring gymnast. But she has been confined to a wheelchair ever since a car knocked her down when she came out from her last gymnastics display. Joanne’s older sister Eve has been a tremendous help to her since the accident. Joanne is making attempts to walk again, but her legs won’t obey her.

Joanne can’t avoid reminders of her old life, such as a window display of sports gear or music from her last gymnastics display playing. She finds them painful reminders of course, but they are having even more bizarre effects on Eve. Eve seems to go off into a sort of trance, disappears and leaves the wheelchair-bound Joanne deserted, and then reappears with no apparent memory of what she did. Incidents like this are becoming ever more frequent. Joanne is baffled and concerned at Eve’s strange behaviour and can’t understand the reason for it at all. Eve’s behaviour is also putting a real strain on their relationship; they begin to quarrel and Joanne feels they are becoming like strangers.

Eve’s strange behaviour grows even more bizarre when her best friend Candy tries to take her out to the disco. Eve becomes inexplicably terrified and hides herself from Candy. Eve takes Joanne out to the disco instead, but another odd incident occurs along the way. They see a cat walking along a wall, which makes Eve inexplicably upset and she shoos it away. She says she does not want to be reminded, she wants to forget how it was…

At the disco, Eve’s strange behaviour acts up again when the music from Joanne’s last gymnastics display is played. This time she phones up Candy and arranges to see her outside. Joanne is watching them, but can’t hear the conversation. When Eve sees Joanne is watching them, she carts her off home in a bad temper, and accuses Joanne of spying on her.

On the way home, a police siren makes Eve’s strange behaviour act up again, and this time it is a real performance: Eve screams “Aagh, no!”, and then she runs off. When Joanne finds Eve, she is trying to hide. When Joanne asks her who she is hiding from, Eve snaps at her. She says Joanne knows that and she wouldn’t be surprised if Joanne had sent them after her. Eve’s outbursts prompt Joanne to attempt to walk, but she fails. Eve gets her back into her wheelchair and home, and again acts like she does not remember what happened.

The fact that it was a police siren has Joanne thinking that Eve is acting this way because she has done something wrong and is feeling guilty. Realising it must have something to do with Candy, Joanne phones Candy for an explanation. But Candy acts just as strangely. She says to stop pestering. More tellingly, she says: “Just because she feels guilty, that’s no reason why I should…even if I was with her that night.” When Joanne asks what Candy is talking about, Candy tells her that she jolly well knows and “Eve’s just being stupid about it”. She then hangs up, saying she isn’t saying anymore and wants to be left alone.

Eve realises Joanne was phoning Candy and accuses her of spying again. When Joanne says phoning Candy is not a crime, Eve’s odd behaviour acts up again at the word “crime”. She starts rambling about where she can go, where she can hide, and she must get away… Joanne realises that Eve seems to be hearing some weird voice in her head when she has these strange bouts of behaviour.

Next morning, Eve runs away. Joanne finds a note saying: “I don’t want your hatred as I couldn’t face that and I just can’t forget that night. It haunts me more and more so I’ve got to leave home for a while. Tell Mum not to worry.”

Joanne has not been telling her mother what is going on because she did not want her to worry, and she does not tell Mum about Eve’s disappearance either. But when Candy comes around to apologise for that phone call, Joanne shows her the note. Candy says she was afraid something like this might happen. Candy takes Joanne out to look for Eve while she explains what is wrong: Eve is blaming herself for Joanne’s accident. On the night of the gymnastics display, she and Candy slipped out to the car park. They found an unlocked car and played around inside for a bit with the steering wheel. This happened to be the car that knocked Joanne down as she came out from the gymnastics display. Eve thinks their fooling around in the car did something to it that caused the brakes to fail.

Joanne says that’s ridiculous. Candy agrees, so she does not blame herself in the way Eve does, but Eve evidently can’t stop blaming herself. The reason she was so helpful after the accident was to help her forget what happened. But now her guilt is resurfacing and intensifying, particularly at any reminder of the accident, such as the music, the cat on the wall (like Joanne on the beam), and emergency sirens.

After a long search they decide to check out the scene of the accident. Sure enough, there is Eve in one of her trance-like states. A car is approaching, but Eve is not moving or listening to Joanne’s warnings about the car. Joanne realises Eve thinks the only way to pay her debt is to get herself run over too. Desperation to save Eve prompts Joanne’s legs to move and she manages to push Eve to safety. Joanne can use her legs again, and tells Eve the accident had nothing to do with her; the car just skidded on a patch of oil. Joanne is very grateful to Eve for curing her, and Eve is relieved to be free of her guilt.

Thoughts

There have been many stories in girls’ comics where the protagonist is the architect of her own misfortunes because she keeps blaming herself for an accident. Usually it’s for some ridiculous reason or something that was not entirely her fault e.g. “The Black-and-White World of Shirley Grey” (Tammy), “Tearaway Trisha” (Jinty), and to some extent, “Tricia’s Tragedy” (Jinty).

But in this case the guilt complex formula is turned right on its head because it’s being told from another person’s point of view. This gives it a whole new take that’s completely different. In this case it’s the sister, Joanne, who’s also the accident girl. In so doing, the guilt complex story is turned into a mystery story because Joanne does not know Eve is blaming herself for the accident. She can’t understand what the reason is for Eve’s strange conduct and clearly unravelling mentality. Eve’s strange conduct and the mystery of it all are also putting severe strain on the sisters’ relationship and causing a rift between them, which compounds the situation. Having Joanne telling the story herself gives the reader further insight into Joanne’s emotional and mental reactions to the situation as well as seeing things from her point of view. This heightens the drama and tension of the story.

Adding to Joanne’s distress over her oddly behaving sister is that she is pretty much on her own, and she’s further impaired by being confined to a wheelchair. Joanne just won’t tell her mother what is going on, not even when Eve runs off. If the mother had known, she would certainly have screamed at Joanne for not telling her sooner.

It is fortunate that Candy knew the reason, but it would have made things simpler if she had spoken up, especially if she was worried that Eve might do something really stupid like running away. Her rudeness to Joanne on the phone could have come from growing exasperation at Eve blaming herself for such a ridiculous reason. We can just hear her saying, “Oh, come on, Eve, what could you have possibly done to the car to make the brakes fail? For God’s sake, will you please stop going on about it? It’s ridiculous!” All the same, why she says what she says to Joanne is a bit hard to fathom. But of course the mystery has to be kept up for as long as possible.

It is odd and rather unbelievable that Eve did not know the car just skidded on some oil while Joanne knew it. It would have been more convincing for it simply to have been bad luck or something. The way in which Joanne suddenly regains the use of her legs is a bit clichéd, but the story wisely gave hints that Joanne might regain the use of her legs if some blockage could be overcome. Desperation to save a loved one would be a most effective way of shifting it, and we are not really surprised to see Joanne lose the need for her wheelchair in the end. It would also help Eve to shed her guilt, something she may not have done even if Joanna had simply told her to stop blaming herself.

 

No Haven for Hayley [1981]

Sample Images

Hayley 1Hayley 2Hayley 3

Published: Tammy 21 March – 23 May 1981

Episodes: 10

Artist: Mario Capaldi

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: none known

Plot

Mrs Moore’s home is known as “the Haven” because she works so much for charity. Unfortunately Mrs Moore is exhibiting symptoms of a workaholic. She is so busy and over-zealous with charity projects, and cramming her life with so many charity works that she is neglecting her own daughter, Hayley, and letting her down all the time. She takes Hayley for granted and makes her a dumping ground for tasks she has agreed to take on but has no time for because her schedule is too crowded. Worst of all, Mum never stops to listen to Hayley or help Hayley with any problems. Even if Mum does listen a bit, she just doesn’t seem to understand what Hayley is talking about and Hayley just can’t get through to her. Ironically, one of Mum’s campaigns is for “latch-key” children.

The situation gets worse when Mum decides to foster problem children – on top of all her other work. Typically for Mum, she applies for fostering without consulting or even telling Hayley beforehand; she takes it for granted that Hayley will help out.

Also typically for Mum, she lumbers Hayley with the job of minding the foster children because she won’t make the time for it with all her other charity work. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the fostering itself is a nightmare for Hayley. First she is saddled with a pair of horrors who take over her room, mess up her things and constantly play tricks on her, but Mum won’t let Hayley even raise her voice to them.

But if Hayley thought those two horrors made her life hell, they are nothing on the real problem child to follow, Fenella Briars. Fenella comes from the long line of scheming foster children who take advantage of anyone who fosters them and push out the protagonist with sneaky tricks. This is what she proceeds to do with Hayley and succeeds in turning Mum and everyone at school with her tricks while taking advantage of them all and playing on their sympathy and gullibility.

Then, when Fenella tries to con hospital patients out of money during another of Mum’s charity works, a Nurse Harris catches her out. Fenella tries to put the blame on Hayley, but senses Nurse Harris has seen through her. Indeed Nurse Harris has, and tells Hayley to put Mum in touch with her so she can put her straight about Fenella. But Fenella makes a hasty exit from the Haven before they can do so, on pretext that Hayley is making her feel unwelcome there. And communications being what they are between Hayley and her mother, Mum is not put straight about Fenella and thinks Hayley’s ‘spite’ is the reason for her fostering failure. As a result, Mum loses faith in Hayley, thinks Hayley is turning selfish, and their relationship and communication problems grow even worse.

This misunderstanding has devastating consequences when Hayley organises a door-to-door collection for her school. Mum, as usual, is too busy to listen or help. But worse, Mum never told Hayley that she had been running three door-to-door collections along the streets that Hayley is using for her collection because of her lack of faith in Hayley because of Fenella. The result? People are angry about yet another door-to-door collection so soon after the others, so the collection turns into a disaster. Hayley’s fellow collectors blame her for it and don’t listen to her protests that Mum never told her about the other collections.

When Hayley confronts her mother over the door-to-door collections, Mum explodes over her fostering disappointment and shouts at Hayley. This is too much for Hayley. She blunders out of the house in tears and gets hit by a car. During a semi-conscious state Hayley rambles her problems with Mum to Sister Harris, who then has a serious talk with Mum. Presumably she also puts Mum wise about Fenella at long last, though the serial does not record this or Mum’s reaction.

Mum tells Hayley that she has used “a whole host of good deeds” to fill the gap left in her life following the death of Hayley’s father. But she now realises she has overdone it so much that she crowded Hayley out. Hayley agrees to forgive Mum and they are reconciled.

Six months later, everything has improved for both Hayley and her mother. Mum and Hayley now co-operate as a team on charity projects, with Mum listening to Hayley and even asking her for suggestions. For Hayley, “The Haven” is at last living up to its name.

Thoughts

This is a disturbing and well-crafted exploration of the damage that poor listening and breakdowns in communication can inflict on a relationship. It also proves that effective communication is essential not only for the people in the relationship, but also for the people surrounding them. As the communications between mother and daughter break down, it is not just Hayley who suffers. The bad communications also have an effect at Hayley’s school and, ironically, they undermine Mum’s charity work as well. Perhaps the greatest irony is when Hayley wants to organise her own door-to-door collection, but Mum, as usual, is too busy to listen or help. If Mum had just spared a few moments to listen, all that would have been avoided and she would have taken great pride in seeing Hayley run her own charity collection.

The serial makes deft and almost cruel use of irony to reinforce its points; for example, Mum remonstrating Hayley for being “selfish” on that fateful night, while she herself is selfish in thinking only of her work. It shows there is more than one kind of selfishness, and parents can take their children for granted, too.

The introduction of the foster children, and also a gang of yobs who attack Hayley, add the villainy that intensifies Hayley’s already-existing problems with Mum to the breaking point in the climax. Fenella’s ‘cuckoo-in-the-nest’ scheming has been used countless times in girls’ comics, especially in DCT titles. On this occasion it is used as a plot element rather than driving the plot itself, which makes it a bit different. But even without Fenella’s scheming, Mum’s fostering plans were clearly doomed from the start because she was just too busy, lacked the cohesion with Hayley to work effectively with a problem child for the reasons stated above, and it is obvious she never even thought the idea through properly in the first place.

The reason Mum made herself way too busy with charity work – to compensate for the death of her husband – is credible and rooted in realism. We can even imagine that Mum became addicted to charity work. But she became so consumed with charity work that she lost sight of other things in life, especially Hayley. Girls’ comics have frequently warned about not taking things to extremes (e.g. Jinty’s “Worlds Apart”) and do things in moderation. Apparently, even good things like charity work or generosity should be done in moderation as well, because taking them too far could do more harm than the good they are meant to do. DCT made similar points with stories like “Hard Times for Helen” and “Minnie the Meanie”, both from Judy.

The resolution of the story – Hayley getting hit by a car, rambling her problems to a person in authority who then has a word with Mum – is hardly new in girls’ comics. For example, “Hard Times for Helen” used a similar resolution. But what makes the plotting better in this case is that the accident occurs at the end of the penultimate episode. This enables the whole of the final episode to be used for the resolution of the story instead of a few panels crammed onto the last page, so there is more scope for development of the resolution. We are even shown panels of just how things have changed for Hayley after she was discharged from hospital, not just Mum apologising and promising things are going to be different, as Helen’s mother does at the end of “Hard Times for Helen”. The only shortcoming is that we are not shown Mum’s reaction when Nurse Harris tells her the truth about Fenella and that she had been wrongly blaming Hayley. Considering that the misunderstanding over Fenella is what caused the accident in the first place, not showing how the misunderstanding is resolved is glaring. Perhaps they felt they didn’t have the room to cover it, but couldn’t they have tried to squeeze in an extra line or two to do so? It would have made the ending more satisfying for the readers.

 

June and School Friend 15 May 1971

June cover 15 May 1971

  • Oh, Tinker! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Wild Girl of the Hills (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Angela Replies… (problem page)
  • Gymnast Jinty (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Pick of the Post (letters page)
  • Bessie Bunter (artist Arthur Martin, writer Ron Clark)
  • Pony Trek Penny – text story (artist Jim Baikie, writer Linda Blake)
  • The Grays Fight Back! (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Showdate Shirley Reports on Arthur Lowe (of Dad’s Army)
  • Sindy and Her Friends in: Operation Ugly Duckling (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Sindy’s Scene: Her Diary and Club News
  • Nature’s Wonderful Ways (artist Helen Haywood)
  • Lucky’s Living Doll (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • The Champions (Karen Muir) – first episode
  • Animal World
  • The Curse of Witch Wood – Strange Story
  • Dotty Doogood (cartoon)
  • Orphans Alone (artist Tom Kerr)
  • Call Me Cupid! (artist Bill Baker)

In this issue “The Champions” begin, a feature that profiles a sports champion each week. Starting off the series is Karen Muir, a South African swimming star who retired at 18. At the time, Muir was distinguished for being the youngest world breaker holder at the age of 12.

This week’s Strange Story is about a ship’s head that has a curse on it. It turns out this is because the tree used to make the ship’s head was taken from Witch Wood without planting an acorn to replace it. If there is no acorn to replace a cut-down tree in that wood, the witches curse anything made from the tree’s wood. Sounds like very ecological witches.

Tinker tries to help a boy whose lion costume lacks roar – but it works too well. Tinker manages to put it right, and the boy has no memory of what happened, thank goodness. But she now has to face her Fairy House-Mother over the matter, so don’t you go giggling at me as well, she says to readers.

We didn’t know Jinty was brilliant at tennis as well as gymnastics, but it turns out she is. She is helping out Louise, who has her heart set on Wimbledon. But it looks like an arm injury could put an end to that.

Bessie is trying to hide a dog at Cliff House for the sake of its owner, who can’t afford to keep it. But the dog’s a huge bumbling menace whose appetite rivals Bessie’s own. Eventually the school pitches in so the owner can keep the dog.

The Grays are out on the street after their horrible landlord threw them out (at least they’re well rid of that landlord), and they’re not having much luck finding anything suitable. Worse, their mum is fit to come home now – but there is no home for her to come home to. So they have to find one, and fast!

Sindy has the task of turning the ugly duckling daughter Melinda of the Mayor-elect into a swan, um mayoress, with a makeover. Melinda hasn’t been cooperative until she discovers her cousin Angela is playing dirty tricks to replace her. And lack of confidence is now proving to be a problem too, but everything works out splendidly – except for Angela, of course.

Tina is doing spring-cleaning. But it turns into disaster when a kitten interferes, followed by a dog that Lucky tried to use to dry the washing. Maybe leave it to Lucky next time eh, Tina?

“Orphans Alone” try their luck with a theatrical company, and they handle rubbish-throwing hecklers like troupers. But it turns out that wretched beadle is in the audience, so they’re back on the run.

This week “Call Me Cupid!” tells the story of how her efforts to help Cherry went so badly wrong that she got a row from the folks that just about broke her eardrums, lost her pocket money and has to do washing up every night. But she isn’t giving up on finding the man for Cherry.

In “Wild Girl of the Hills” Naomi has been wrongly accused of theft while the real thieves have tied up Jean on the moor – and a wildcat is threatening her!

Entry Forbidden! [1981]

Entry Forbidden cover

Published: Commando War Stories in Pictures #1493

Artist: (updated to add) Gordon Livingstone

Writer: Unknown

Here’s another of our dips into something different. I have some Commandos in my collection, and “Entry Forbidden!” is one of my particular favourites.

Plot

In 1944, two sons on both sides of World War II say goodbye to their parents and go to war: Arnold “Scruffy” Scroggs of England says goodbye to his mother as he goes off to join the Downshires and Max Rudel of Germany says goodbye to his father Erich as he goes off to join the S.S. The two sets of parents and sons are polar opposites of each other.

Entry Forbidden 1

Max Rudel and his Nazi scientist father Erich Rudel are both evil and fanatical Nazis. Personality-wise, Max has everything it takes to go far in the S.S., which he is soon doing although his version of iron discipline does not make him popular with his men. Max’s only real shortcoming, which earns him the nickname “Old Sniffy”, is a perpetual running cold that never goes away.

Max’s cold is the legacy of germ warfare that Erich Rudel is having one Gustav Dietrich develop against the Allies. Gustav, being a more principled man than the Rudels, is troubled by the ethical and destructive implications of the virus he is being pressured to develop against the Allies. Gustav’s conscience grows worse when a series of leaks occur and the virus gets loose. Among those who fall foul to the virus is Max Rudel. Max survives, but his immune system is compromised so badly that he is left with that permanent cold he can never shrug off. When another leak occurs, which kills people, it is the last straw for Gustav. He disappears from the lab and goes into hiding in shabby flats in the back streets of Berlin. Erich Rudel is furious at this because the project is stalled without Gustav.

Another reason for aggravation between the Rudels and the Dietrichs is that Max and Gustav’s son Oskar have been enemies since they were children because Oskar stood up to Max when he bullied smaller boys in the playground (figures). Oskar now serves in the Wehrmacht. He is an honourable soldier and disapproves of the way the S.S. is infecting the Wehrmacht with their S.S. ways. When Oskar is put in charge of his own unit later in the story he does his best to counter that influence as much as possible and ensure his men behave honourably. Unlike Max Rudel, Oskar is popular with his squad.

Entry Forbidden 2

Back to Arthur Scroggs now. Personality-wise, Arthur Scroggs is everything Max Rudel is not: kind, helpful, good-humoured and considerate. He is also a bit clownish and has an amiability that helps him cope with the grind of basic training and heckling discipline. The influence of Arnold’s mother on him is so profound it will resonate throughout the story. For example, Scroggs gets on the nerves of everyone in the barracks with the pearls of wisdom his mother gives him in her letters, and they are just about strangling him.

When it comes to basic training, Scroggs is a regular Gomer Pyle. The heart and enthusiasm are there, but wearing a uniform unsettles Scroggs and he cannot seem to get the hang of basic training, which he constantly makes a mess of. This drives Sergeant “Corky” Carew to constant distraction. All the same, Corky is determined to make a soldier out of the ungainly Scroggs “even if it kills him” – “or me” he adds inwardly. Yep, Corky is definitely the Sergeant Carter of the piece.

Somehow, Scroggs makes it through basic training. Under Corky’s command, Scroggs and his regiment start fighting on the Continent in the wake of D-Day. He still has problems with his awkwardness, such as keeping his helmet straight. The story has said that Arnold Scroggs will be more than a match for Max Rudel, but there seems to be no sign of that yet.

Entry Forbidden 3

Then Corky finally succeeds in making a soldier out of Scroggs, though not quite in the way he imagined. Corky’s nerves and mental capabilities begin to deteriorate from war-weariness as they fight pockets of German resistance. Corky finally goes to pieces during one such attack at a critical moment when his regiment need him to get them out of the tight spot they are in. Seeing this, the gawky Scroggs suddenly becomes a courageous soldier with a calculating mind. Scroggs assumes command himself while pretending to the others it is Corky’s plan. He decides grenades are the answer, but there are not enough. So he throws potatoes, which the Germans mistake for grenades. As planned, this scares them out into the open for the Downshires to mop up.

Fortunately Corky returns to his old self. He is impressed with Scroggs’s cleverness and is relieved to see Scroggs is not telling tales on him. From then on he respects Scroggs – though of course he does not show it, and Scroggs is still a bit of a klutz in any case. Corky remains the same old barking sergeant towards Scroggs, which Scroggs is glad to see again.

Meanwhile, Oskar Dietrich comes home with a war wound. He knows through coded messages what his father has done and where he is hiding. But Max Rudel spots Oskar and puts a tail on him. Despite Oskar’s best efforts to shake off the tail, the tail succeeds in following him all the way to Gustav’s hideout. After Oskar leaves, Max arrests Gustav. The germ warfare research has been relocated to an old house miles from Berlin because of Allied bombing. Gustav flatly refuses to resume work on the virus, so he is kept in a cell there.

Oskar recovers and resumes fighting, now as a sergeant in charge of his very own squad in a strikeback at the Allied advance. (As will be seen, Oskar’s new command means he is having even more clashes with the S.S. and their evil influence over the Wehrmacht.) They are going up against the Downshires, and the strikeback is proving too strong for the Downshires. Corky and Scroggs become separated from their unit and run out of ammunition. This leaves them no choice but to surrender – to none other than Oskar Dietrich.

Then S.S. Major Helmut Meyer (whose unit is nicknamed “The Vultures” by Oskar’s squad) arrives on the scene. He and Oskar have clashed before, and they do so again over the POWs. Oskar wants them dealt with according the rules of war and it’s his battle zone after all. But Meyer has orders from the S.S. to have them shot, and furious at Oskar’s stance, draws on him. A struggle ensues, which ends with Meyer’s gun going off and he is shot dead. Oskar is in big trouble over this, for Meyer was a big man in the S.S.

Entry Forbidden 5

Scroggs and Corky take advantage of the Germans being distracted by Meyer’s death to break free and make a run for it. The Germans put up little pursuit; the two units are on the verge of fighting each other. Wishing to avoid a bloodbath, Oskar orders his men to stand down, and goes into custody of the S.S. Ostensibly, this is to clear the matter up, but in reality Oskar and his squad know there is little hope for him.

Oskar soon finds that things have gone from bad to worse for him once Max Rudel learns what happened from the dispatches. He orders Oskar to be brought to the new laboratory and use him as a hostage to blackmail Gustav into resuming the research. Gustav agrees to give in for Oskar’s sake, but secretly he decides to find a way to destroy his work if he does make the breakthrough. For this, Gustav is about to find he has help.

Meanwhile, a burst tyre gives Oskar the opportunity to make a run for it. The S.S. men are soon hot in pursuit and are on the verge of recapturing Oskar by putting a bullet in his leg. However, Corky and Scroggs, who have been trying unsuccessfully to find their lines, chance upon the spot. Realising what is going on, they knock the S.S. men out and save Oskar.

Oskar can speak English. He explains to Corky and Scroggs about his father and the virus development and asks for their help. Of course they agree to it. They set out for the house, which Oskar’s guards had informed him about.

At the house, Gustav finds a friend in Johann the butler. Johann informs Gustav about Oskar’s escape, which he overheard from the guards. Johann hates the S.S. (his nephew got shot by Max Rudel) and the way the S.S. have commandeered the house. He shows Gustav a secret passage down to a cellar, which is full of crates containing dynamite that he secretly transferred from an old quarry after the hated S.S. took over the house. The idea is, of course, to blow them and the entire house sky high.

Oskar and the Allied soldiers arrive and work their way in by taking out the guards one by one. Max Rudel, who has also arrived, recognises Oskar’s voice and conceals himself in a cupboard to cut them down, which he almost does with Oskar. Fortunately for Oskar, violent sneezing from that persistent cold alerts Scroggs to Max’s hiding place. He now fulfils the story’s promise that he will be more than a match for Max Rudel by riddling the cupboard with gunfire. Max Rudel dies before he even hits the floor.

When Oskar and the Allied soldiers find Gustav, he explains about the dynamite and Johann has rigged it to go off in a few minutes. He declines to go with them, saying he has a score to settle with Erich Rudel, who is due any moment. Oskar realises his father has chosen to die with his work and he says his last goodbye.

Then Oskar and the Allied soldiers find a squad of newly arrived S.S. soldiers have cut off their escape. Scroggs scares them off with his ‘potato bluff’. He throws a bottle at them that he has led them to believe contains the deadly virus (in fact, it is a bottle of his mother’s cough remedy). Once the house is clear of the S.S. soldiers, Oskar and the Allied soldiers are free to escape the house and take refuge in the woods, and the soldiers are too preoccupied to pursue them.

Entry Forbidden 6

Erich Rudel arrives, knowing nothing about what is going on or his son’s death. He is concerned by the house looking deserted and no guards seem to be around. This puts him in a particularly nasty mood when he finds Gustav appears to be about to desert as well. So he pulls a gun on Gustav and threatens to shoot him. Gustav tells Erich he is too late – they and the project are all about to come to an end. Misunderstanding this, Erich shoots Gustav, saying he will continue the work himself. With his dying breath, Gustav tells Erich: “I think not. You haven’t the time now.” Again misunderstanding Gustav, Erich laughs crazily, and he gloats over Gustav’s dead body that he is going to go on with the project until he brings victory and glory to the Reich…

But then the dynamite goes off. It blows up the house, Erich, Gustav’s work, and also Johann, who chose to die with the house as well. From the woods, Oskar and the Allied soldiers watch the devastation. Oskar throws in his lot with the Allied cause because of his trouble with the S.S., and heads off with Corky and Scroggs to find the Allied lines.

Thoughts

Commando was very strong on pointing out that not all Germans who fought in World War II were evil, cruel and brutal Nazis, nor did they all support Hitler. Many soldiers who fought in the German armies, navy and airforce fought for their country rather than for Hitler. The Wehrmacht and the S.S. were at constant odds because the former did not approve of the brutality of the latter, and Commando often used this to create sympathetic soldiers who fought on the side of the Germans. But of course it never showed any sympathetic officers in the Gestapo and S.S. Commando made that distinction very clear, and arguably none more so than the characters of Sergeant Oskar Dietrich and S.S. Max Rudel, who are the epitomes of it in human form.

The story makes a further point that not all German civilians supported Hitler or Nazism either. There were good Germans who did not approve of Nazism and its cruelties, and many of them went against it, such as the resistance group “The White Rose”. We see this portrayed in the characters of Gustav Dietrich and Johann the butler, whose courage is so immense they are willing to sacrifice themselves in order to destroy the germ warfare. Like the Allied soldier Arnold Scroggs, the good Germans are the opposites of the Rudel men and the other S.S. Nazis.

Cruel and rabid Nazis are all the villains are shown to be; it is the heroes of the story who are given the character development, and for this we are shown their progress on both sides of the war. Arnold Scroggs starts off as a humorous, good-natured character, which gives us light relief from the grimness of Gustav’s situation and the rise and cruelties of Max Rudel in the S.S. But the story tells us that Scroggs is destined for far more than a Gomer Pyle/Seargeant Carter career in the army. He is going to be the ultimate match for Max Rudel, so we all read on eagerly to see how that happens.

Entry Forbidden 7

Scroggs’s leap from gawkiness to a courageous and clever soldier is convincingly done, and it has a dash of humour (bluffing German soldiers with potatoes), which blends in with Scroggs’ genial character. We are shown that Scroggs has not changed completely and is still a bit clumsy, but he is finding his feet now in the army (when he doesn’t get them tangled on the march).

The story does not shy away from showing the horrors and PTSD effects of war either, as we see when war-weariness causes the heckling Sergeant Corky to have a breakdown and lose his grip in battle. It gives a more human dimension to Corky, and makes us all the more grateful to have the old Corky back. Afterwards, Corky is still given the odd touches to show he is a human being, such as a reference to his mother.

The artwork has a loose, angular style, which really brings out the gawkiness of Arnold Scroggs. Even in the more serious panels there are dashes of humour. One example is a panel (above) of the S.S. soldiers who corner our heroes at the house. The panel showing their reactions to Scroggs’ threat to throw the virus at them does raise a chuckle. The frightened expressions on the guards’ faces have a kind of goofy look, and the S.S. officer almost looks like he’s got buck teeth. It would be really great to know who the artist is (updated to add: we have been informed it is Gordon Livingstone). Commando would print credits in the latter part of its run, but this issue is not part of it.

Judy & Tracy 19 January 1985, #1306

Judy and Tracy cover.jpeg

Cover artist: Norman Lee. Judy is on the left. Tracy and her budgie Elton are on the right.

  • Big ‘n’ Bertha – cartoon
  • Sandra of the Secret Ballet (artist Paddy Brennan) – first episode of a reprint
  • Little Amy
  • Georgie and the Dragon (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Junior Nanny (artist Oliver Passingham) – first episode of a return appearance
  • Twin Trouble (artist Paddy Brennan) – first episode
  • Microgirl (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones) – first episode of a sequel
  • Hard Times for Helen (artist Bert Hill)
  • Debbie at the School for Horses (artist Oliver Passingham)
  • Find the Hidden Headphones Competition
  • Harvey – Go Home!

Here’s another dip into DCT. This time we are going to take a look at the issue where Tracy merged with Judy on 19 January 1985. Judy is also celebrating her 25th Jubilee, which makes the issue even more significant. Her competition is being run because of the Jubilee, not because of the merger. It is not surprising that Judy is also looking back on her past. This week she begins to repeat one of her very first stories, “Sandra of the Secret Ballet”. She also brings back another established Judy favourite: “Junior Nanny”.

The merger is unusual in that the merger issue came out the same week Tracy published her final issue. Well, at least Tracy readers didn’t need to wait a week to see their stories continue in the merger. Or rather, more than a week, considering that Tracy came out on Saturday and Judy on Thursday. Perhaps it was done out of consideration to the readers.

However, one odd and annoying thing about the last issue of Tracy is that she began a new story in it, “Little Amy”. Why the first episode of Amy couldn’t wait until the merger issue so all readers could read the serial in its entirety is something I don’t understand.

Other Tracy stories that came over were: “Harvey – Go Home!”, where a lost dog has adventures while trying to find his owner; “Georgie and the Dragon” a humour story about a baby dragon; and “Microgirl”, which is a sequel to an earlier Tracy story about an evil scientist who can shrink people. Tracy’s budgie, Elton, also came over, and he appeared on Judy’s covers for quite some time.

Judy also begins a completely new story, “Twin Trouble”. The trouble is about an accident girl who causes trouble for her twin sister because she blames the twin for the accident – quite wrongly, of course. Judy’s other stories are “Hard Times for Helen” and “Debbie at the School for Horses”. In the former, Helen Shaw suffers not only from the fallout of an over-busy mother but also from bully teachers who constantly compare her unfairly with the mother and make unjust accusations of bad behaviour against her. In the latter, Debbie Marsh is on a steep learning curve on how to look after horses at a riding school.

June and School Friend 31 July 1971

They Call Me a Coward 5a

  • They Call Me a Coward!” (artist Leslie Otway)
  • Oh, Tinker! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Slaves of the Sleeping Ones (artist Juan Solé) – final episode
  • Animal World – feature
  • Angela Barrie: Trim ‘n’ Slim! (feature)
  • Gymnast Jinty (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Mystery of the Seal of Babylon – text story (artist Jim Baikie, writer Jean Theydon)
  • Bessie Bunter (writer Ron Clark)
  • Shirley’s Showdate: New Girl in Five C
  • Sindy and Her Friends in: Fight for Francesca! (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Sindy’s Scene: Her Diary and Club Page
  • The Champions: Ann Packer
  • Lucky’s Living Doll (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Rock of Destiny – Strange Story (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Nature’s Wonderful Ways – feature (artist Helen Haywood)
  • Orphans Alone (artist Tom Kerr)
  • Dottie Doogood (cartoon)
  • Wild Girl of the Hills (artist Carlos Freixas)

The bullying Cathy suffers at school puts her friend Lynn in danger, yet it still continues. Cathy loses her job because she is too upset over the whole affair to do it right. Her new job is proving too much for her, but she continues because her parents need the money. Everything is just piling up on our heroine!

Tinker tries to help out a sheep that has fallen down a crevice. As usual, she can’t get it right, and the sheep even takes a trip to Fairyland! At least the sheep enjoyed the trip.

It’s the final episode of “Slaves of the Sleeping Ones”. Defeating the Zurons turns out to be a matter of pressing the green button instead of the red one on their spaceship, which sends their spaceship off back into outer space. The Zurons themselves just disintegrate.

Gymnast Jinty has been secretly training Janice Stokes. Janice’s father is so opposed to her doing gymnastics that he locked her in on the day of the “Three Towns” athletic meeting. He even nailed the window shut to stop her climbing out! Jinty manages to get Janice out in time for the event. She also gives Janice’s father a good talking-to about how miserable he has made Janice by making her do things his way. Eventually Dad comes around, especially when he’s pressed to have his photo taken with his triumphant daughter.

Bessie is in a gymkhana this week. It turns out her mount is as big a food lover as she is, so she knows what to do to get him to win at every event – dangle food in front of him. What a pair!

Sindy suspects the prince her friend Francesca is set to marry is a creep, and her inquiries prove her right. The prince is a cad who squanders the family fortune and piles up debts, so it is obvious he’s out to marry Francesca for her money and squander that too. Sindy tries to show the prince up for what he is in front of Francesca, but it looks like the prince has foiled her. Fortunately the blurb for next week says that Sindy is not beaten yet.

In Lucky’s Living Doll, classmates are playing jokes with a trick spider. They get annoyed when Lucky refuses to joke someone with the spider. To keep the peace with them, Lucky pulls the joke on the teacher and cops lines.

“Orphans Alone” have a narrow escape when they get trapped at the foot of a cliff and the tide is coming in. This week’s Strange Story also has a perilous water escape, where Annie Simpson has a strange dream of a girl being kidnapped by pirates. She escapes the pirates by seizing control of the ship’s wheel and wrecking it against the Steeple Rock. The dream has Annie prepared when criminals kidnap her in the same manner, and she pulls the same stunt to escape.

Kidnapping and escaping are also the order of the day in “The Mystery of the Seal of Babylon”. The villainous Krebens has kidnapped Liza in order to force her father to reveal the whereabouts of the Seal of Babylon, a priceless relic. Liza manages an escape that would make Gymnast Jinty proud, but then a strong hand grips her. Has she been recaptured or is it something else?

In “Wild Girl of the Hills”, the mystery of Naomi’s bracelet deepens. Two gypsies know the truth, so our protagonists decide to tail them in the hope of uncovering it.

June and School Friend 23 October 1971

Stories in this issue:

  • Gymnast Jinty (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Oh, Tinker! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Fashion flashes – feature (writer Angela Barrie)
  • Ann’s South Sea Adventure (artist Dudley Pout, writer Jason Alan)
  • Emma In The Shade (artist Juan Solé)
  • Bijli in the Dark (text story)
  • Bessie Bunter (writer Ron Clark)
  • Shirley’s Showdate – feature on Ian Carmichael
  • Sindy and her Friends in Boomerang! (artist Phil Townsend)
  • The Champions: sports feature on Emma ‘Maid Marian’ Gapchenko
  • Lucky’s Living Doll (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Nature’s Wonderful Ways (artist Helen Haywood)
  • Strange Story: The Island of Mystery (attributed to artist Shirley Bellwood)
  • My Brother’s a Nut!
  • Dottie Doogood (gag strip)
  • Double for Danger (artist Leslie Otway)
  • Star Special “The Darwin Adventure”

For this last issue of June & School Friend of the three that I acquired, I looked through the credits listed on Catawiki to be able to list artists (and even some writers) that I didn’t otherwise know. I am very grateful to that site for its detailed information. I was rather surprised to see Shirley Bellwood credited with the art on the Strange Story (The Island of Mystery, which was reprinted as a Gypsy Rose story in the Jinty Annual for 1980) as it looks much scrappier than Bellwood’s normal lovely art, but I have gone with this attribution rather than doubting it.

[By request, here is the Strange Story – click through for large, more readable pages]

“Gymnast Jinty” has escaped the confines of the school environment and is into thrilling spy-story stuff. Jinty is on a modelling assignment on a tropical island during a coup d’état; she gets embroiled in a rebellion against this wrongdoing. In this episode we see her scattering two thousand leaflets across the capital city – during a parachute drop! But we are promised that next week, she is thrown in jail. An exciting story!

“Oh, Tinker!” this week is a fun story about a magpie who stole an engagement ring from a young woman whose fiancé is very angry about it – the ring is returned in time for it to be clear that it wasn’t from carelessness that it was lost, but due to the thieving magpie. The best bit though is when the young lady in question gives her fiancé the heave-ho for having been such a git about it all.

[By request, here is the Tinker story – click through for large, more readable pages]

We have a single page of what looks art-wise like a rather earlier story: “Ann’s South Sea Adventure”. Ann Pilgrim travels to the South Sea Islands. Lots of action and danger with natives who speak broken English, hmm.

This is a much later episode of “Emma In The Shade” – her and her mother are living in poverty on a barge and just scraping by. Her mother is failing to make a living at painting, until an accident transforms one of her naturalistic paintings into a modernist success. (A well-worn joke that seems to have been used several times as the basis of an episode of one or other comic story.) She also makes a success of singing in a talent contest, once she takes Emma’s advice to not make the songs too ‘highbrow’.

The Sindy story features a fire at the sheep station where she is staying in Australia – and a secret that the daughter of the house is hiding from her father. It is simply that she is a talented violinist, but her father disapproves.

I reproduce here the page of “Nature’s Wonderful Ways”, which was often reprinted in Jinty issues and annuals. There is a signature at the bottom of the page, so we are able to credit it to Helen Haywood.

“Double for Danger” is the dramatic story of the issue. Gail Dawson is asked to become a body double for ballet soloist Karen Grant – a request which seems innocent enough, just embarrassing if she is found out. I suspect it will end up as rather more than it seems, though! I like the way the logo is done in one large vertical panel that runs from top to bottom of the page: it is shaded as if it might have been intended for colour reproduction originally.

I notice some differences between this title and the way things worked a bit later in Jinty‘s day. Primarily it’s rather longer – this issue is 36 pages rather than the 32 I am used to seeing – but looking at Catawiki I see that this figure is down from 44 pages in around 1968. I also see that the lettering in the stories is not done via typewriting as in Jinty et al – it’s hand-lettered throughout, sometimes more neatly than others, so presumably it was not done in house by a central resource. Interesting! Often the lettering was very nicely done too.

June and School Friend 3 July 1971

They Call Me a Coward 1a

  • They Call Me a Coward!” (artist Leslie Otway) – first episode
  • Oh, Tinker! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Slaves of the Sleeping Ones (artist Juan Solé)
  • Angela Barrie Presents Her Choice for a Pattern for Summer (feature)
  • Gymnast Jinty (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Mystery of the Seal of Babylon – text story (artist Jim Baikie, writer Jean Theydon)
  • Nature’s Wonderful Ways (artist Helen Haywood)
  • Bessie Bunter (writer Ron Clark)
  • The Windmill – text story (artist Jim Baikie, writer 11-year-old Susan Bloomer)
  • Sindy and Her Friends in: The Great Poodle Puzzle! (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Sindy’s Scene: Her Diary and Club Page
  • Lucky’s Living Doll (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • The Champions: Sally-Anne Stapleford
  • The Weather Decider – Strange Story
  • Animal World: It’s a Dog’s Life (feature)
  • Dotty Doogood (cartoon)
  • Orphans Alone (artist Tom Kerr)
  • Wild Girl of the Hills (artist Carlos Freixas)

Comixminx has been putting up entries on the odd June & School Friends she has acquired, so I will do the same.

It is the first episode of “They Call Me a Coward!”, a story that has its own entry on this blog because of the parallels it shares with the Jinty story “Waves of Fear” in which the protagonist is bullied for cowardice after she fails to come to a girl’s rescue. This story will hold the cover spot for the duration of its run.

This week’s Strange Story has a definite “don’t mess with Mother Nature” message. Sara James acquires a strange device called “Jeremiah Bagshaw’s Weather Decider”. You think it will be great to decide the weather you want? Sara thinks so until she tries the decider out. The ruddy dial keeps slipping to the extreme of whatever weather Sara sets it to: “gale” when she sets it to “breezy”, “tropical heat” when she sets it to “sunny”, and “torrential downpour” when she sets it to “rain”. In the end, Sara smashes the decider.

Lucky the Living Doll uses Punch and Judy props to take on a girl who uses the “Punch, punch, first day of the month and no return!” game to bully other girls. It works better than expected – the bully ends up with 500 lines.

“Speed” is Stackers’ order of the day in this week’s Bessie Bunter episode. It’s a motto that Bessie latches onto as an excuse to cause her usual mischief and even take the school governor roller-skating. Fortunately it all works out well when Bessie foils a car thief with her antics.

The Sleeping Ones in “Slaves of the Sleeping Ones” are now revealed to be aliens called Zurons. The Zurons want their slaves to dig something up for them. But Pat, our protagonist, is detected before she can find out what, and now the slaves are out to kill her!

Tinker tries to save a puppy from the doghouse when it chews up a man’s boot. Of course things don’t smoothly with her mixed-up magic, but at least it does help the puppy get away with it. Meanwhile, Sindy & Co are trying to help another dog, which has gone missing. They think they have spotted him at the circus, but it looks like a dead end.

Gymnast Jinty is trying to organise an aqua-show. Nothing has gone right so far, but can everything come together in the final episode this week?

“Orphans Alone” were all set to be adopted by the kindly Mr Maple – but then the workhouse authorities turn up, all ready to drag them back. So the orphans are on the run again. They end up in London with the aid of a barge woman and spot a vacancy. How will it go next week?

Naomi in “Wild Girl of the Hills” is not so lucky. The authorities have put her into an institution and Jean is trying to get her out.

Buster 30th Birthday Issue 26 May 1990

Birthday Buster 1

Contents in this issue:

  •  Buster (artist Jimmy Hansen)
  • Tom Thug’s Schooldayz (artist Lew Stringer)
  • Rodney & Dez (artist Gordon Hill)
  • X-Ray Specs (artist Mike Lacey)
  • Beastenders (artist Reg Parlett)
  • Specky Hector’s Totally Crucial History of Buster Comic! (artist and writer Lew Stringer)
  • Vid Kid (artist Jack Edward Oliver)
  • The Vampire Brats (artist Lew Stringer)
  • Adam Adman (artist Barry Glennard)
  • Buster Survey for Kids and Adults
  • Chalky (artist Gordon Hill)
  • Ricky Rainbow (artist Jimmy Hansen)
  • The Winners (artist Jimmy Hansen)
  • Double Trouble (artist Terry Bave)
  • The Leopard from Lime St (artist Mike Western, writer Eric Bradbury)
  • Melvyn’s Mirror (artist Terry Bave)
  • Mad Mac (artist Mark Bennington)
  • School Belle (artist Tom Paterson)
  • Nightmare on Erm St. (artist Vic Neill)

Sunday 28 May 2017 marks what would have been Buster’s 57th birthday. To honour the anniversary I am discussing how Buster celebrated his 30th birthday in 1990, as it is a Buster birthday issue I have to hand. I have also included a gallery of the pages that marked the occasion. Sadly, Buster was cancelled just a few months short of his 40th birthday and never got the chance to celebrate his ruby anniversary.

Specky Hector kicks off the celebrations by pulling out his vintage Busters for fans to read. Tom Thug steals the comics (and later the birthday cake), but it all explodes in his face, as usual. Buster also steals the opportunity for a blast from the past by slipping some old Buster characters into Tom’s pages, which gives Tom nightmares. Later on in the comic, Specky Hector presents a one-page history of Buster, with Tom providing some humorous asides.

“The Winners”, “Chalky” and “Double Trouble” also join in the celebrations. The Winners compete in the Editor’s contest for the best Buster birthday cake. The Winners make a birthday cake that is so huge they need a cement mixer to make it. Too bad the cake ends up like cement as well and just about breaks the poor old Editor’s teeth! Still, the Editor awards them the first prize anyway – a cookbook – as he believes they really need it. The Winners say they will use the next 30 years to practise, so we expect a perfect birthday cake from them when it’s time for Buster’s 60th birthday. The twins in “Double Trouble” present the Editor with a huge present, which is full of the Buster characters they have rounded up to join the party, and the characters have all brought the food for it. Chalky decorates a wall with a wall-sized version of Buster’s first issue to commemorate Buster’s 30th birthday. According to bustercomic.co.uk, the page was re-used for Buster’s 35th birthday in 1995 and 39th birthday issue in 1999.

Lastly, Buster has recycled a parents & kids survey from 1985 and updated it in order to compare the generation of 1960 with the generation of 1990. The kids of 1990 would answer the questions on the first page, and an adult from the family would answer the questions on the second page. The purpose was to compare the lifestyles, likes and dislikes of the children of 1990 and the children-now adults of 1960. Of course there were prizes to be won. It is funny to think that the children of 1990 who responded back then would now be old enough to respond as the adults of 2017. How would their likes, dislikes and lifestyles of 1990 compare with those of the kids of 2017? Does anyone fancy trying out the survey out with their kids? It’s been uploaded in case anyone does.

“The Leopard from Lime St” is also a reflection of how times and readership had changed. When the strip ended in 1985 it marked the end of an era for Buster, namely the adventure strips that used to abound in the comic, such as “Fishboy” and “Galaxus”. From then on it was funnies all the way. The year 1990 was the year Leopardman enjoyed a brief revival, with a collection of reprints from his old strip. But Leopardman did not seem to be as popular as he was before. His 1990 revival came to a definitive end, with a reprint of the story that ended with him losing his mask while pulling a rescue, so he had to fake his death to protect his secret identity. Thus he did not make it to the merger with Whizzer & Chips the following week. Despite a closing line that said “The Leopardman lives on – to return again sometime!”, he did not come back during the last nine years of Buster’s run. However, the assurance that the Leopardman would “return again sometime” is going to be fulfilled after all, with the upcoming Leopardman reprint volumes.

A discussion of Buster’s last nine years and his final issue can be found here.

June and School Friend 4 September 1971

Stories in this issue:

  • Emma in the Shade (artist Juan Solé)
  • Oh, Tinker! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Angie’s Angel (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • S.O.S.! – Agony aunt Angela Barrie
  • Gymnast Jinty (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Bijli the Curious Mongoose (text story)
  • Nature’s Wonderful Ways (feature)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • More Winning Pictures By Our Readers
  • Sindy and her Friends in “Carefree’s Champion”
  • The Champions – Lillian Board (sports personality feature)
  • Lucky’s Living Doll (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Strange Story: “Phantoms of the Old Chateau” (artist Phil Townsend)
  • My Brother’s a Nut! – sparkling new family story begins today
  • Adam’s Got What he Wants – feature on Adam Faith
  • Orphans Alone (artist Tom Kerr)

Another one of my slightly-randomly-acquired issues of June and School Friend. As I said in the comments on the last post, we will look to cover more titles beyond Jinty on this blog in the future.

“Emma In The Shade” is a nicely-drawn tale of parental angst. As with the other stories in June & SF, it feels very short at only 2 pages long per episode but other than that it could certainly fit in the pages of Jinty. Emma is the only child of brilliant parents, who expect her to excel likewise. But she doesn’t feel that she has any talents, and her mother in particular is very hard on her as a result. Of course when there is an accident that deprives her of one parent, it is the unsympathetic one that she is left with…

Little fairy Tinker is trying to help a young boy who is having no luck fishing – through a series of happy accidents she ends up dragging the whole jetty he is standing on off to the deep sea, which at least means that he ends up with an impressive catch!

Angie West is in trouble. While trying to find out what happened to a china angel belonging to her old friend, she has got mixed up in something which results in her being accused of robbery. She is cleared by the end of the episode because luckily she sketched a man that she saw in pirate costume in the location of the robbery – and that turned out to be the perpetrator, so all was well.

Gymnast Jinty is faced with a dilemma – the school she works at is due to be merged with another, and she and the games teacher at the other school must compete for their jobs. I’m not that interested in the story resolution but Jim Baikie does such lovely art even in the background details – Jinty invents a game to get the school girls practicing hard, by hitting tennis balls against ‘space monsters’ she has set up dangling from the ceiling of the gym. They are lovely little details. I include it here for others to enjoy.

click thru

The text story is a three-pager, as with the earlier issue I posted about. This is not so much a serial as a series of linked stories about the same protagonists, seemingly the little curious mongoose in particular. There is also a one-page “Nature’s Wonderful Ways” illustrated feature on interesting animals and their play-time habits.

Bessie Bunter is up to her usual tricks, but so is her brother, who is her rival in the quest to obtain a feast from a school hamper! But the two chumps, sorry chums, end up pinching a basket of cacti for the flower show instead, alas for them.

Sindy’s pal Tim dashes into a stable when a fire breaks out, and they discover a tale of drugged and sabotaged horses. Very Dick Francis.

The feature about a sports personality is on Lillian Board, a very fast runner I’d never heard of. She sadly died of cervical cancer at the very early age of 22: the feature just refers to ‘her killer disease’ without going into any further details and I needed to look her up to find out anything more.

Robert MacGillivray delivers his usual fun as Lucky and her living doll try to enjoy the sunshine without too many slapstick sillies.

The Strange Story is drawn by Phil Townsend, meaning we really have a good lot of Jinty stalwarts featured in this issue. It is about a girl in the French Resistance, who is guided to find an important package which has landed in the middle of a maze. Her guides are the ghosts of previous inhabitants who followed the path to escape from revolutionaries long ago.

“My Brother’s A Nut” is rather sloppily drawn I would say. Jilly Carter’s family is all very normal and ordinary, apart from her brother, who often takes it into to try out new ideas. This week he’s trying to get Jilly to form a band with him and some friends, as the drummer – but of course she has never done any drumming before.

The artist on “Orphans Alone” is familiar but I don’t know his/her name [edited to add – Catawiki tells me this is Tom Kerr]. Beth and Tim are orphans who have run away from the workhouse and are struggling to make a living. When Tim buys her a bottle at a fair, they seem to be dogged by bad luck afterwards, but it turns out to be all because of a scam that a nasty trickster is trying to play on the two. I assume there are further episodic tales of these two orphans to come, until eventually they find their last home or long-lost parents or similar.