Food for Fagin [1981]

Sample Images

Food for Fagin 1Food for Fagin 2Food for Fagin 3

Published: Jinty 13 June 1981 to 18 July 1981

Episodes: 6

Artist: Trine Tinturé

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: None known

Plot

Olivia Twist (yes, and the Oliver Twist references persist throughout the story) wants a dog. Her mother keeps refusing because of the costs of buying and feeding one. After all, they’ve been pretty hard up since Dad died and Mum’s wages wouldn’t go far on a dog in addition to Olivia and her brother Billy.

Undeterred, Olivia saves up to buy a dog in the hope it will make her mother relent. Mum does, but gives the strict condition that it’s a tiny pup, which would surely mean a tiny appetite. However, after Olivia purchases her tiny pup, which she names Fagin (yes, after the Oliver Twist villain), she gets a warning that she and her mother have miscalculated: “You’ll be sorry you bought that tiny scrap! Little ‘uns have the biggest appetites!”

At first Olivia takes no notice, but in due course she finds out how all too right the warning was. The little pup grows into a huge dog, and appetite to match. Fagin eats far more than the whole family combined and his appetite is uncontrollable. It’s costing Mrs Twist a fortune to feed him, and he’s wolfing food right off the Twists’ plates and shopping bags so they end up going short. He starts doing the same with the neighbours, so he’s getting the Twists into trouble with them.

Mum tells Olivia she’s had enough. She will now pay for only one tin of dog food a day, and it’s up to Olivia to stump up the rest to keep Fagin fed. And if there’s any more trouble, Fagin will go to the dogs’ home.

Olivia is determined not to lose Fagin, so she does everything she can to find food for him: jobs to raise money, and finding avenues at school, friends and other networks that can spare food for Fagin. However, Fagin keeps wrecking all the avenues Olivia can find with his big appetite and bursting in to gobble up everything. One by one those avenues get closed off. It also gets Olivia into all sorts of trouble; for example, Olivia unwisely takes Fagin to a birthday party (part of a Mother Hubbard costume) and gets kicked out because Fagin ate the birthday cake. It gets to the point where nobody will give Olivia a job because of her dog’s reputation as a “greedy brute”, so she can’t raise any more money there to pay for his food. The last straw comes when Fagin’s eating wrecks the grocer’s store where Mum works and she nearly loses her job.

After this, it’s definitely the dogs’ home for Fagin. When Olivia sees their menu, she realises there is no way it can meet Fagin’s appetite. Sure enough, Fagin’s soon gobbling up every other dog’s ration in addition to his own, and the kennel maid warns Olivia that he’ll be flung out if this keeps up. Anxious not to let this happen, Olivia does everything she can to supplement Fagin’s food supply at the dogs’ home with additional food, but of course she can’t keep up either. Before long, the manager tells Olivia that Fagin can’t stay anymore. They are going to advertise a home for him. If none is found, Fagin will be put down.

Shocked at the thought of Fagin being put to sleep, Olivia begs her mother to take him back. Mum refuses because she does not want a repeat of the history they had with him. However, nobody takes Fagin. Well, an ad with “Home with never ending food supply wanted, for ever-hungry mongrel” is more likely to have put people off. Mum reclaims Fagin at the last minute because she couldn’t bear the thought of him being destroyed. She takes an additional job to keep Fagin fed, but in a month’s time she collapses from exhaustion and is hospitalised.

Olivia makes the heartbreaking decision to have Fagin destroyed herself for her mother’s sake. However, on the way to the vet there is a lucky break that changes everything. Fagin bursts in on a shoot for a dog food commercial and eats up the dog’s food, but the producer is delighted. He tells Olivia that Fagin is just what they need for their advertising. If Olivia signs him up, she will get a fee and any amount of their dog food free. This gives Fagin his never-ending food supply at last, and he’s paying for it himself. Olivia is very happy to say she will never need to “ask for more” for Fagin again.

Thoughts

This entry achieves one milestone: it completes all our entries on the 1981 Jinty stories. And all of them were written by myself, except for “Land of No Tears”.

“Food for Fagin” started in the same issue as “Dracula’s Daughter”. I like it for its light relief against the grimness of the insufferable, power-mad headmaster in that story. Many readers probably felt the same way.

The story is short, with just six episodes. This works well with how long the Twists can find ways to fill Fagin’s stomach without stretching credibility. However, the Oliver Twist references come across as rather irritating and also unrealistic. What mother would seriously name her daughter Olivia Twist? Perhaps it was meant to add humour to the story. In some cases the Oliver Twist references do work humorously, such as the stingy teacher who is meaner than “any workhouse beadle” in the dinner hall and won’t let Olivia have seconds (to fill Fagin’s stomach). At other times it doesn’t. At least it’s not used much, but the story could have done without it.

There have been plenty of humour stories with problem pets that get their owners into all sorts of scrapes. However, while this one has humorous elements too, there is an emphasis on emotion, what with the increasing desperation as Olivia fights an increasingly losing battle to keep her dog, and then an even more desperate battle to save him from being put to sleep. The irony is that Fagin’s gargantuan appetite keeps messing up Olivia’s efforts to keep him fed and landing her in trouble. In the end, it is a delightful twist to have Fagin’s appetite turn into an asset instead of a liability because it lands him the job on television that not only keeps him fed but also brings in more money for the Twists.

 

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Belinda Bookworm [1981]

Sample images

Belinda Bookworm 1Belinda Bookworm 2Belinda Bookworm 3

Published: Tammy 17 January 1981 to 18 April 1981

Episodes: 14

Artist: Giorgio Giorgetti

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: Tina 1981-82 as “Belinda boekenwurm”

Plot

Belinda Binder has had a very bookish upbringing, by parents who think books and studying are everything and scorn non-bookish things – like sport. Even their jobs are bookish: accountant (Dad) and town hall clerk (Mum). Belinda has excelled at studying and teachers praise her for her academic work. But for some reason Belinda is finding the life of a swot and bookworm increasingly unsatisfying.

Unfortunately, in more modern parlance Belinda is a nerd, and this makes her a target for bullying. Her particular enemies are Janet Jones and Dawn Davis, who are the complete opposite of her. Sport is all they bother with at school and they don’t care about classwork at all. They are the school sports champions and have remained unbeaten. So while the form teacher is full of praises about Belinda’s work, which she contrasts with Janet and Dawn’s sloppy work that they rush so they can go out and train, the PE teacher Miss Jagger praises Janet and Dawn while looking down on Belinda. Belinda does not shine at sport, is always left out of it, and her classmates scorn her for it. Even Miss Jagger does: “Really, Belinda Binder – always sprawling all over the place!” she sneers as one of the bullies trips her up.

At this point the English teacher Miss Milton asks Miss Jagger if Belinda can be spared PE in order to help set up the new school library. While doing so, Belinda surprises herself in doing a perfect forward roll in order to avoid a nasty fall off a ladder. Following this, she begins to wonder if she really is as hopeless at sport as she thinks and maybe she will really show the PE class something next time.

So Belinda is shattered when Miss Milton tells her she is being withdrawn from PE at school because she and Miss Jagger have taken the view it is just a waste of time for her. Instead, Belinda will use those periods to assist in the library. Just when Belinda had decided she wasn’t going to be a bookworm anymore and wanted to be a sports champion instead.

Undaunted, Belinda starts using her time in the library to do secret sports training and copying the sports activities she sees out the window. Fortunately for her the new library overlooks the school sports facilities, so she can see all the PE classes that go on there. She sets up stacks up books as hurdles, uses the library desk for vaulting, the shelves to practise gymnastics, the “silence please” board to practise swimming strokes on, and so forth. She even acquires a false book that can be used to smuggle in sports gear.

At home, Belinda rigs up a dummy of herself with her dad’s reading lamp so she can sneak out and train in the streets. She has to do this as Janet and Dawn regularly pass by her window while doing their training and observe her studying.

Belinda seems to be making progress, but has no real yardsticks or overseer to gauge by how much. However, one night something happens that suggests that Belinda may be a more serious rival to Janet and Dawn than she thinks. She found her father left behind a couple of pages of a vital report and needs to be intercepted at the train station fast. As no taxis are available the only option is to run – in pouring rain – so this is the first full test of Belinda’s training. As she sets off, she does not realise she is being tested even more. Janet and Dawn, who have become suspicious of Belinda’s secret training, see her and run to catch up and verify who she is. Belinda does not realise they are following her, but she keeps ahead of them and they fail to catch up. After delivering the papers Belinda finally discovers this, while they say the mystery girl was not a bad runner and therefore couldn’t possibly have been the bookworm.

On another occasion, Belinda has been secretly practising netball throws. Afterwards Janet and Dawn grab Belinda’s false book and start throwing it around. They are astonished when Belinda manages to catch it. Another hint that Belinda is making serious progress.

But of course close calls and slip-ups are inevitable. Eventually Dawn and Janet get so suspicious that they plant themselves in the library (joining the library, ducking out of sports periods) in order to keep an eye on Belinda. So now Belinda can no longer secretly train there.

Then comes sports day. Belinda steals some time to secretly train in the library now that Janet and Dawn are out of the way. However, it is at this time that Belinda gets caught right out. Miss Milton had brought the Binder parents to the library to show them how well their daughter is working there – and they get a horrible shock to see what Belinda has been really using the library for! They take a very dim view of it all, and are not at all impressed at Belinda demonstrating how she has been progressing with sports training using her improvised sports equipment. In their view, Belinda is not an athlete and should stay with books, the way she has been raised.

Belinda goes into outright rebellion at this and decides to prove that she is not a mere bookworm anymore. She breaks away from her angry parents and teacher, runs to the sports field, and demands to enter every event. Miss Jagger is astonished, but allows it. Belinda’s parents are mortified; they think Belinda is about to make a fool of herself in front of everyone. They can do nothing but watch, ironically accepting the invite to sports day they had scorned, but not are not supporting Belinda at all. The whole school expects one big laugh out of the bookworm entering sports day.

However, Belinda’s unorthodox self-training begins to pay off. The pupils are astonished to see the bookworm do better than they expected at the hurdles:

“Hey, the bookworm’s not bad!”

“Not bad at all! She’s only just behind the leaders!”

Belinda comes fourth at the hurdling. She is placed third in gymnastics, and is beginning to earn respect from Miss Jagger. However, the Binder parents remain unmoved.

Ironically, Janet and Dawn are now so worried at Belinda proving more serious competition than expected that they begin to resort to dirty tricks and cheating to stop her rather than their skills and greater experience. At swimming, Janet flashes a mirror in Belinda’s eyes to stop her seeing the turn and enable Dawn to win. However, something makes the reflection flash back into Janet’s eyes, enabling Belinda to see the turn and finish second. Later, Belinda realises it was her mum cleaning her glasses that flashed the light back at Janet.

Finally, there is the 800-metre race, and Belinda is running against Janet. Dawn tries to nobble Belinda by dropping her book under her feet, but is caught red-handed by Miss Milton and the Binder parents. Seeing the dirty trick Dawn tried to play on Belinda, the Binder parents are finally won over and start cheering Belinda on. Encouraged by this, Belinda beats Janet – the first ever to do so – and comes first in the race. Miss Jagger is well and truly astonished at this.

The Binder parents tell Belinda she has taught them a whole new respect for sport and they now see that sports and studies complement each other. Everyone cheers Belinda as she receives her trophy – except for the seething Janet and Dawn.

Thoughts

I have often wondered if this story was the Tammy version of Jinty’s “Tears of a Clown”, which is one reason why I have posted the entry. There are some similarities between Belinda Bookworm and Kathy Clowne: they both wear glasses; they are underrated and friendless at school, which makes them the targets of bullying; they turn to sports training to gain confidence and win respect; they both have indifferent parents and teachers who don’t help them at all until near the end of the story; and they both hope entering school sports day events will get them the respect they want. Bookworm started in Tammy only two months after Clown ended, and Jinty and Tammy shared some writers. So it is possible that Clown was an inspiration for Bookworm.

Whether it was or not, there are huge differences between Bookworm and Clown that make it worthwhile to compare the two stories. While both Belinda and Kathy embark on their respective sports training in order to beat the bullies, Belinda does hers in secret while Kathy keeps striving to prove her talent, but the chief bully (or fate) keeps getting in the way. Belinda is also a more proactive heroine than Kathy, in that her secret sports training is a form of revenge against the bullies a la Revenge of the Nerds. It’s also a rebellion against her bookish upbringing and being labelled a bookworm. There is also an ironic edge to Belinda’s rebellion in that she is using the very thing she has turned her back on – books and libraries. Instead of using them to read she is using them to train, and is showing readers that there is more than one way to use a book.

In regard to the bullying, Belinda does not have it nearly as bad as Kathy. At least the teachers praise Belinda for her academic work. Kathy is bottom of everything at school, because the bullying erodes her confidence and nobody steps in to help her. But when it comes to sport, both Kathy and Belinda want to prove themselves there because that’s where they will earn respect from the people who disparage them. However, it comes in different ways for Kathy and Belinda. Kathy hoped sports day would enable her to prove her talent and win respect. Instead, it is the final humiliation that drives Kathy into running away and setting off a chain of events that redeem the people who bullied or failed her. But for Belinda, sports day is precisely where she proves herself and puts an end to the bullying – by giving the bullies their first-ever defeat at sport and thoroughly humiliating them. The unhelpful parents and school staff redeem themselves in different ways. In the case of Kathy, it’s their realising they have let her down and try to find her after she runs away. In Belinda’s case, it’s foiling the dirty tricks that the bullies start pulling on her, which makes Belinda’s parents more redeeming than Kathy’s.

There are some glaring plot holes that really stretch the story’s credibility. For one thing, no school would withdraw a pupil from PE just because they’re not good at it; only medical grounds would excuse a pupil from PE. Second, when Janet and Dawn get suspicious, they take a rather cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face approach by sitting in the library with Belinda to stop her suspected training. After all, they must loathe sitting in the library when they want to be out there doing sport with Miss Jagger. And how many times can they get away with coming up with excuses to dodge PE in order to sit in the library watching Belinda? And it’s all on mere suspicion – they have no proof. If they had any real sense they would come up with a plan to catch Belinda red-handed in the library. Most glaring of all, how is Belinda able to swim at competition standard on sports day? She is a complete non-swimmer and the only training she has had is practising strokes on the library’s “silence” notice board. The only swimming we see her do in actual water is a few strokes. So how is she able to do competitive swimming against Dawn – hidden power or something? Or did Tammy have Belinda do some actual swimming lessons off panel without telling us?

Plot weaknesses are offset somewhat by Georgetti’s caricatured, cartoony artwork, which provides the humour and helps make the story engaging. In the hands of a straight artist the story would far worked less well. But in the hands of an artist like Giorgetti, improbabilities like using torn-up books to practise long jump and high jump, and shelves to practise gymnastics are more forgiving. This is because they have a dash of humour and give the sense that they are not to be taken too seriously.

Tammy 10 March 1979

Tammy cover 10 March 1979

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Nurse Grudge (artist Tony Coleman)
  • A Girl Called Steve (artist Diane Gabbot)
  • My Terrible Twin (artist Juliana Buch)
  • The Moon Stallion (artist Mario Capaldi) – final episode
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and the Portrait Painter (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – first episode
  • Unlucky for Some (artist John Armstrong) – Strange Story
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Thursday’s Child (artist Juan Solé, writer Pat Mills)
  • Just Jogging Along! (feature)

It’s Friday the 13th (did you know there is a Friday 13th in a month that begins on a Sunday?). So this issue of Tammy is being profiled to commemorate. It’s not just because the theme on the cover – Dracula vs Tammy – should make it a Halloween issue but isn’t. It’s also because the number 13 is the theme of this issue’s Strange Story, which appears below. Could the mysterious 13th floor in the story have been one inspiration for “The 13th Floor” in Scream!, perhaps? It is a bit like how Scream’s 13th floor works in the way it teaches arrogant Annette a lesson. All that’s missing is Max the computer. Oh well, judge for yourself. It sure looks like Bella Barlow’s Aunt Gert was the inspiration for the workhouse matron anyway.

Click thru

 

There is no Bella yet. Instead, the first story is part two of “Nurse Grudge”. It was extremely rare for Tammy to have a nursing story (the same went for Jinty). It’s also a revenge story, where Greta Jones starts as a student nurse at her dad’s old hospital to get revenge on the staff who got him dismissed 20 years ago. His old notebook is full of the details of their turning against him – but no details at all on why they turned against him or just what he was dismissed for. Now why did he leave that part out of his journal? Greta has noticed the omission but not looked into it at all before starting her vendetta against the hospital – and perhaps she should have done…?

Tammy’s adaptation of “The Moon Stallion” TV series ends this week. Next week is “The Outcast of Oakbridge”.

Bessie sneaks into town after Miss Stackpole, who is going to a dance. Hijinks ensue with Miss Stackpole and Bessie ending up in the same farmer’s truck and then having to use an old raincoat and sacking against pouring rain while trudging into town. Miss Stackpole finds she has missed the dance because she got her dates muddled, but the raincoat wins her first prize at a tramps’ ball instead.

It’s a real turnabout for Molly Mills in her new story, but it’s one she could well do without. Lady Stanton turns against Molly when a painter prefers to paint Molly than her. Then Molly is very surprised to find her arch-enemy Pickering suddenly coming over to her side and being supportive against Lady Stanton’s jealousy. Now he couldn’t possibly be doing that unless there’s something in it for him – but what? Is he hoping for a group portrait with Molly or something?

From the moment Stephanie “Steve” Sutton has arrived at her father’s archaeological dig, it has been looking more and more like enemies are trying to scare her away. They certainly are doing a very good job of scaring her in this episode. Now she’s being dragged into a terrifying magician’s act.

“My Terrible Twin” is beginning to turn around – but just as she does, her remand home past begins to catch up. First, an unreformed girl from the remand home wants Lindy to help her shoplift, and then swears revenge when Lindy refuses. Then Lindy’s enemy Helen discovers her past and is going to tell the boss!

Sometimes Wee Sue had two-part or even three-part stories, and this is the final episode of one of them. So far her class’s skiing holiday abroad has been disappointing because the whole setup looks a cheat. It turns out to be a troubled business with the owner reduced to running it as a one-man-band (chef, ski instructor, DJ etc) while not having the slightest idea how to do all the roles. Does one of Sue’s famous brainstorms save the day? No, it’s more a lucky fluke (and extremely improbable one) that turns everything around.

Thursday’s legs are mysteriously paralysed after her fall. However, Thursday has no doubt that the evil Union Jack and Julie’s strange grudge against her, which caused the fall, are behind this. Then comes a turning point: Julie is now willing to explain just what her problem is with Thursday.

Linda’s Fox [1981]

Sample Images

Lindas Fox 1Lindas Fox 2Lindas Fox 3

 

Published: Tammy 30 May 1981 to 1 August 1981

Episodes: 10

Artist: Ron Tiner

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: None.  Groot Tina Winterboek in 1982 as “Linda’s vos” [Linda’s Fox].

Plot

Linda Barnes’ policeman father, Charlie Barnes, is wrongly imprisoned for stealing the money some criminals left behind. He was convicted solely on the (perjured) testimony of “Splinter” Mallory. More likely it was Mallory himself who stole the money or is covering up for whoever did; as Linda is about to discover, he is a criminal who commits regular crime sprees in the Exchester area where he lives.

Linda and her mother lose the house that came with Dad’s job. They have to move to a rundown house with little income to live on…in Exchester. Linda finds this so depressing, but she cheers up when she finds what is in the derelict house next door: a mother fox and her cubs. She starts making friends with the foxes, and she names her favourite fox cub Ross. Mrs Barnes does not approve of Linda’s visits to the foxes because the house is derelict and dangerous. But Linda continues to feed the foxes and make friends with them.

At school Linda makes a good friend with Julie, who is constantly annoyed by the school troublemaker, Kevin Mallory. Mallory? Yes, you guessed it – Splinter Mallory’s son! Kevin is a bully and delinquent, and he leads a gang who are always causing trouble for everyone. He likes to pick on Linda and Julie in particular. Pugnacious Julie says if she were Kevin’s mother she would give him a good hiding every day to mend his ways. If only Julie knew that Kevin’s bad behaviour is because this is the way Splinter and his wife have brought him up – to be a good criminal and do a “job” (crime) right.

When Kevin and his gang try to block the staff exit to a cinema after being banned for causing trouble there once too often, the girls spot them and call the police in. The police march Kevin straight home to his parents, where the only telling off they give is that Kevin needs to be more clever so as not to get caught. It is at this point that Splinter learns that the Barnes family are in the neighbourhood and tells Kevin to stay away from them. Too bad for Splinter that Kevin couldn’t tell him where the Barneses actually lived, though…but more on that later.

Meanwhile, the cubs are growing. As they do, they naturally start to venture into the world outside, where they encounter clashes with city life, and bigger, unfriendly animals – including Kevin and his gang. These adventures and misadventures progressively break up the litter until Ross is the only fox left in the derelict house.

It is at this point that Ross begins to cross paths with Splinter himself, which will prove to be Splinter’s undoing. It begins one night when Splinter tries to steal takings from the zoo. But he is foiled when Ross disturbs a lion, which rouses the zookeeper and he spots Splinter. Splinter has to run for it.

Then Splinter sees a house with an open window and proceeds to burgle it. Too bad for him he does not know it is the Barneses’ house. Or that Ross breaks the Barneses’ milk bottle, which wakes Mrs Barnes and alerts her to the burglary. Moreover, while Splinter makes his getaway, he cuts his feet on the broken milk bottle, and Mrs Barnes catches his licence plate number as well.

When the police trace the number back to Splinter, he goes into hiding – in the derelict house next door to the Barneses. He chases Ross off, who digs his own lair under the house. As Splinter is now next door to the Barneses, he soon finds out the joke fate played on him that night: “Damn bad luck I picked their house to burgle out of all the houses in town!”

Linda learns from Kevin that it was Splinter who burgled them. But Mum says that even if he were caught it would not help Dad. A confession to the frameup is the only thing that would. Linda has also guessed the hand, um, paw that Ross played in foiling the burglary.

A heavy downpour sets in; this, combined with the foundations that were weakened by Ross’s digging, causes the derelict house to collapse. It takes Linda’s bedroom wall with it, so that house is no longer fit to live in. Linda and her mother safely evacuate from the house. Linda is anxious about Ross, but Ross managed to escape as well. However, Splinter is not so lucky; they find him trapped, injured and calling for help under the debris of the collapsed house. Linda says she will only do so if he makes the confession to clear her father. Desperate and terrified, Splinter agrees to do so.

Dad is freed by Mallory’s confession, reinstated to the police force, and given a huge amount of compensation. They use the money to buy a house in the country. Linda, still wondering what happened to Ross, says Ross would feel quite at home here too. Little does she know Ross has in fact made his own way to the same place and is settling in very happily.

Thoughts

There have been hundreds of girls’ serials dealing with frameups. But it’s a very nasty twist to make a policeman the victim of a frameup. And it’s all on the word of one man against a police officer who clearly has an unblemished record and a sound reputation. In fact, one policeman expresses disbelief that Charlie Barnes is guilty because he does not seem the type to him. And PO Barnes is that while Mallory is…what? A police informer? A jailhouse snitch? An accomplice turning Queen’s evidence? What? It is presumably something to do with his nickname, but we are never told why he’s called “Splinter”.

And from the sound of it, there is not one shred of corroboratory evidence; PO Barnes goes down solely on Mallory’s evidence and nothing else. It sounds outrageous, but in fact that is how it really is in the English legal system and in many other Western legal systems (Scotland is one exception) that are modelled on it: a person can be charged, tried, and even convicted on the testimony of a single witness, without any corroboration whatsoever. Even a questionable witness, such as a jailhouse informer, can bring a person to trial. Not surprisingly, there have been many cases that illustrate how dangerous it can be for a criminal case to depend on a single witness without corroboration. The writer may or may not have been aware of this flaw in the English legal system, but either way they deserve a pat on the back for such realism.

When the foxes and Julie are first introduced, they are set up as pillars of support and comfort for Linda as she goes through her ordeal of her father’s false imprisonment and the downturn of her home life in the wake of it. Julie is a real standout. It’s not only because she’s strident, pugnacious, does not hesitate to stand up to Kevin and his gang, and is a really good friend who helps Linda cope with her ordeal. It’s also because she’s one of the few black protagonists we see in girls’ comics, and this makes the story stand out even more. The foxes add light relief and emotional appeal against the angst. They even dashes of humour to the story. For example, Ross accidentally gets into one of the boxes Kevin’s gang are using to block the cinema exit. They get a surprise when Ross bursts out of the box and helps to foil their trick!

Once it’s established that the Barneses have moved into the same neighbourhood as Mallory and that he’s committing regular crime sprees there, the stage is clearly set for exposing Mallory and clearing Dad. The question is how it is all going to fit together. Maybe Linda will expose Mallory, perhaps with Julie’s help?

It’s a real surprise twist when Mallory is the one to destroy himself, with some unknowing help from Ross: first by picking the wrong house to burgle, and then picking the wrong place to hide. In addition, he injures his feet on the Barneses’ broken milk bottle during his botched burglary. Wow, the karma is really biting there! We can imagine the police must have turned up something in the Mallory house with their search warrant that would link Mallory to other crimes as well.

It must have been both a surprise and a shock to readers when Linda tells Mallory that she will not get help for him unless he makes the confession to clear her father (below). Readers are more used to heroines being too nice to be downright mean to the villain, regardless of what the villain has done to them. But then, it was pressure that was required to make Mallory confess, and Linda was seizing upon what looked like her only chance to get that confession. After all, she could not depend on Mallory to make the confession out of gratitude for saving him (trite) or remorse (not bloody likely!). Besides, we know Linda wouldn’t really have refused to get help for Mallory.

Lindas Fox 4

It’s another delightful twist when Ross ends up in the same place as the Barneses in the country and it rounds off the story completely. Readers smile at the last panel where Linda wishes Ross was there, not knowing that he is and sharing the same panel with her. Let us hope they find each other again in their new home.

Tammy turns 12: 5 February 1983

Tammy 5 February 1983

Cover artist: John Armstrong

  • Romy’s Return (artist Juliana Buch, writer Charles Herring)
  • ET Estate (artist Guy Peeters, writer Jake Adams)
  • Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)
  • Bridge of Heart’s Desire (artist Trini Tinturé) – complete story
  • In the Fourth at Trebizon (artist Diane Gabbot, writer Anne Digby) – first episode
  • The Witch Wind (artist Hugo D’Adderio) – complete story
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Nanny Young (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Cuckoo in the Nest (artist Tony Coleman, writer Ian Mennell)
  • Step Lively! (feature)

Tammy turns 12 this issue, and Bella is flying high on the cover to celebrate. Only the cover celebrates Tammy’s 12th birthday though; there isn’t so much as a competition inside to commemorate. This was Tammy’s last birthday issue. She did turn 13 (which was indeed an unlucky year for her, what with her untimely disappearance from a strike), but did not celebrate it.

What is perhaps given even more commemoration is the start of a new Trebizon adaptation. Anne Digby was one of Tammy’s best writers; her best-remembered story was “Olympia Jones”. So it is not surprising that Tammy ran several adaptations of Digby’s books.

Tammy reprints two Strange Stories as complete stories, replacing the Storyteller with less appealing text boxes. “Bridge of Heart’s Desire” appeared in June and was reprinted in Jinty as a Gypsy Rose story. A Jinty reader wrote in to say her school adapted the story for a play and the teacher was very impressed. Now it appears in Tammy, but not as a Strange Story per se. Liu is upset because the Mandarin won’t let her marry her betrothed. She is told to make a wish to marry her betrothed while crossing the Bridge of Heart’s Desire, but must not speak until she is across or there will be no wish. Does the wish get granted? In a very convoluted and surprising way it is, due to Liu indeed not speaking while on the bridge.

The other story, “The Witch Wind” has an infuriating mixed message about the persecution of suspected witches. It starts out with Widow Dorrity being accused of raising storms to wreck ships, using a magical device known as a witch rope. A lynch mob goes to Dorrity’s house while Sal, who has been raised to scorn such superstitions, tries to warn her. However, Dorrity says she’s too old to run and passes on her witch rope to Sal for safekeeping. So it seems Dorrity really does have the power the mob accused her of, yet Tammy still calls her an “unfortunate old woman” for being burned alive in her own house by the mob. As for the witch rope, it eventually destroys the Spanish Armada in 1588 – something Dorrity herself seemed to prophesise to Sal.

Bella’s in a Muslim country teaching gymnastics to royal princesses. Not surprisingly, this is offending conservative Muslims, the Queen among them. The Queen does not realise her brother Suliemen is taking advantage her opposition to Westernisation to overthrow her husband and make himself the Shah. As part of his plan he has framed Bella for stealing the sacred “Tears of the Prophet”, and this week Bella nearly walks into his trap to plant them directly on her.

The formula where a girl plays dirty tricks on a friend to keep her in the background and herself in the limelight has been used less often at IPC than DCT, but “Romy’s Return” is one of the cases where it has been. This is the penultimate episode of it all, where it looks like Linda’s tricks to sabotage Romy have pushed Romy to breaking point. She snaps and starts doing things she shouldn’t have and gets into terrible trouble at school. Then Linda hears a bombshell from Romy’s father that has her realise that her sabotage may have been far more damaging than she thought.

In “E.T. Estate”, the aliens try to silence Jenny when she tries to tell everyone that there are alien doubles taking over the estate. They needn’t have bothered; nobody’s listening and they just think Jenny’s crazy. As it is, the aliens’ attack puts Jenny in hospital.

Tess just won’t stop boasting about her synchro swimming. It’s not only getting on everyone’s nerves; it also costs her the allies who had helped her to get into the swim baths after the manager wrongly banned Pond Hill pupils for vandalism.

In Nanny’s latest job, her employer, the Honourable Lady Louise Fanshawe, could lose the estate she means to pass on to her great-niece, Matilda, because of mounting debts. She managed to stave off her creditors with a “poor old dying woman” act, but by the end of the episode it looks like they are still in danger of losing the estate.

“Cuckoo in the Nest” is one of the most bonkers stories ever to appear in girls’ comics. The protagonist is a boy! Moreover, Leslie (that’s his name) is a boy who has to disguise himself as a girl (how many times have you seen that in girls’ comics?). It’s for the sake of his uncle, who is trying to cover up that he used funds an aunt sent for boarding school fees to treat Leslie instead. To make things even more complicated, the aunt had the mistaken belief that her nephew was a niece and the school was for girls. Hence the (not very good) girl’s disguise, which the nosy Sarah Mullins discovered when the school broke up for holidays. Fortunately a measles quarantine has delayed Sarah’s return to school where she is just dying to tell everyone about their having a boy disguised as a girl. But of course the quarantine won’t last forever.

Tammy and Princess 28 April 1984

Tammy 28 April 1984

Cover artist: Maria Barrera

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)
  • Cassie’s Coach (artist Tony Coleman, writer Alison Christie)
  • Open an Easter Egg! (writer Maureen Spurgeon) – quiz
  • The Horse Finders – A Pony Tale
  • Day and Knight (artist Juliana Buch) – final episode
  • Easter Parade – feature
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, main writer Alison Christie)
  • Easter Fun Spot – Easter jokes
  • Rusty, Remember Me (artist Eduardo Feito) – final episode
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Picture Yourself! – feature

 

We finish off our spread of Tammy Easter issues with the very last Tammy Easter issue in 1984. Easter is celebrated here with Easter features, an Easter quiz, Easter jokes, and a beautiful spring cover drawn by Maria Barrera.

It is four weeks into the Tammy and Princess merger, and two of the stories that came over from Princess end this week. In “Day and Knight”, Sharon now realises the only way to make her heartbroken father happy is to allow her bully stepsister Carrie a second chance. However, her wounds from all that bullying are making it very hard for her to do so, and she does not understand that her bully stepsister is now genuinely sorry. So it’s a real dilemma. Meanwhile, helping Rusty to get his leg fit again is what finally gets Donna to stop depending on her leg brace and work on improving that leg with exercise.

“Stefa’s Heart of Stone”, which Princess reprinted from Jinty, carries on, as Stefa has still not learned that a heart of stone is not the answer. Ruth, who now realises Stefa’s game, has the girls rally around for a “Melt Stefa” campaign to soften that stony heart. But so far all this gets is rude rebuffs from Stefa. Next week is Stefa’s birthday. Will this make things any different?

Bella has persuaded Benjie to join the sports acrobatics group as her partner. Pity the instructress is so unfriendly to Bella because she is a former gymnastics champion. An encouraging coach would really help the partnership to flourish more.

“Cassie’s Coach” reaches its penultimate episode, and it’s a tear-jerking plot development. Mr Ironside has been such a father figure to the Lord children ever since their mother was wrongly imprisoned. There is so much they could not have done without him – like find the old coach that became their home. But this week they lose him because he has to give up his business (can’t afford to replace his horse) and go work at his cousin’s farm. Can the Lord children survive without him?

“The Horse Finders” are commissioned to find 60 of the near-extinct black Zarah horse breed. They find 50 readily enough, but the final 10 are proving elusive, and time is running out. And time has just about run out when they are one short. But the 60th appears in a most surprise manner.

In this week’s Button Box story, Bev hears a church button story that is instructive in the evolution of hassocks. They started out as tufts of grass for poorer parishioners to kneel on. Unfortunately tufts of grass also made a mess on the church floor. So they became the more practical, decorative and non-messy cushions.

A Pond Hill girl, Catherine Bone, is being terrorised by a secret society known as “The Group” because she had been such a sneak. While Pam is appalled at what “The Group” is doing, others are unsympathetic and say it’s Catherine’s just desserts for sneaking. Di is one of them – but then Catherine turns up on the doorstep, dripping with paint that “The Group” threw all over her. What do you say to that, Di?

Tammy 9 April 1983

Tammy 9 April 1983

Cover artist: Santiago Hernandez

  • The Secret of Angel Smith (artist Juliana Buch, writer Jay Over)
  • It’s a Dog’s Life (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, (sub)writer Ian Mennell)
  • Spring into Summer! (artist Joe Collins, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Nanny Young (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Tom Newland)
  • Princess and the Bear (artist Hugo D’Adderio, writer Chris Harris)
  • Pair Up for ‘Champions All’! – gymnastics freebie
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • ET Estate (artist Guy Peeters, writer Jake Adams)
  • Take-Away Fashion for Spring – feature

 

Tammy’s spring issue for 1983 immediately follows her Easter issue. It merits inclusion in our spread of Tammy Easter issues because of its colourful cheery cover, which is a very Easter-like cover with those cute little chicks and field full of daisies. It looks like one of the chicks is about to find out that bees are not for eating, though! Tammy also has a spring quiz. When she ran credits, we learnt it was Maureen Spurgeon who wrote the quizzes. She might have written Jinty’s quizzes too.

“It’s a Dog’s Life” and “E.T. Estate” are on their penultimate episodes. When Rowan runs away from the bullying with Riley, she finds the refuge she was aiming for is no longer available, and there’s nowhere else to go. Of course it is not long before the police catch up. It looks like back to the bullying for Riley and Rowan – or maybe not, as the final episode is next week. Meanwhile, other policemen are called in to investigate the goings-on at ET Estate, but the aliens quickly get rid of them with their hypnotic powers. Jenny and Dora are still tied up. Can nothing stop the aliens’ pod from reaching maturity? If it does, it will spell doom for all life on Earth, including the human race.

Abby, getting nowhere with her father over what she knows about “The Secret of Angel Smith” because he’s been led to believe it’s jealousy, decides to play Angel at her own game and act ruthless to get what she wants. Her plan is to force Dad to watch her on the trapeze and let her into the act – but then the trapeze snaps and Abby looks badly injured from the fall! Could Dad’s fears about losing Abby the way he lost his wife (from a trapeze fall) be prophetic after all?

This week’s Button Box tale is a sad, cautionary tale about seeking revenge without getting your facts straight first. So many revenge-seekers in girls’ comics have found out they had persecuted innocent people because they had misjudged them (or had been misled about them). And the girl in the tale (Ann Freeman) suffers for her error far more than they do. She has spent a whole year in shame, tears and guilt, and too ashamed to even write to the girl – her best friend – whom she had hurt so badly in her mistaken revenge. But it doesn’t sound like she has owned up or apologised to her friend, which is the first true step in the healing.

Bella discovers her Uncle Jed’s trick over the gym he had her believe he was renting for her when the gym owner finds her and kicks her out. (Oh, come on, Bella, you really should know have known better!) Sure enough, it was another of Jed’s schemes to make money out of Bella. Now there is a new mystery over the woman who owns the gym – she wears a mask. Bella is drawn back to her, and discovers the mysterious masked lady is a brilliant gymnast.

Nanny is still having problems over Barbara, who is jealous over her new baby brother because it seems that he’s stealing all attention from her. At least Nanny now fully understands the problem.

This week’s complete story is a cautionary tale about showing consideration to both animals and people. The officers of the Second Hussars do not heed Princess Elena’s advice to treat their soldiers considerately, as she does with the mascot bear that they mistreat. The soldiers mutiny in protest of their treatment, and when they take Elena prisoner, the bear repays her kindness by helping her escape.

In the new Pond Hill story, Goofy enters a film competition that requires a short documentary about your school. A film about Pond Hill? Now that sounds even more dramatic and problematic than a soap opera! Yep, it sure is. Goofy finds that even the stern Mr Gold goes gaga when he is in front of the camera!

Tammy 2 April 1983

Tammy 2 April 1983

Cover artist: Santiago Hernandez

  • The Secret of Angel Smith (artist Juliana Buch, writer Jay Over)
  • It’s a Dog’s Life (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Alison Christie)
  • Strawberry Delight! Competition
  • Nanny Young (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Tom Newland)
  • The Crayzees (artist Joe Collins)
  • Thief by Night (artist Eduardo Feito) – complete story
  • Easter Bonnets – feature
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • ET Estate (artist Guy Peeters, writer Jake Adams)

The cover of this Tammy Easter issue has always had me craving for a yummy Easter egg.

But anyway, Wee Sue, Bessie Bunter and even the Storyteller have been dropped by this stage, so how does the issue commemorate Easter? There is a feature on how to make an Easter bonnet, Easter jokes, and Easter hijinks with the Crayzees. Miss T tries a spell to enlarge Easter eggs and thinks she’s succeeded, but finds that what she has really done is shrink herself and Edie so the Easter eggs just look big to them. And when she tries to reverse a spell, she ends up turning herself and Edie into giants, so now the eggs look like mini eggs to them.

You’d think there would be an Easter tale somewhere in “The Button Box”. Instead, it’s shades of “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” with the tale of “ ‘Tough Nut’ Tara”. New girl Tara is a hard case who snubs all offers of friendship. But when it’s her birthday she gives in. She admits to Bev that, like Stefa, she reacted badly to grief and tried to harden her heart so she would not be hurt that way again, but now she realises her mistake. Thank goodness tough nut Tara was not as hard to crack as Stefa!

The complete story slot could have been used for an Easter story. Instead, it’s a reprint of a Strange Story. By this time Tammy was running reprints of Strange Stories, but the Storyteller has been replaced with text boxes.

In the serials, Abby Fox can’t help but be jealous of Angel Smith, the girl who wants to enter the family’s trapeze act while Abby is excluded because Dad does not want to lose her the way he lost her mother. Now Abby suspects “The Secret of Angel Smith”, whatever that is, and Stalky the clown could help her there. But Stalky has oddly clammed up and Abby thinks it’s because the circus boss has been at him over it.

In “It’s a Dog’s Life”, Rowan Small is bullied in the children’s home, and the bullying she gets shares some parallels with the ill-treatment Riley the dog gets next door. Both Riley and Rowan have been making progress in striking back at their abusers, but this week the bullies bring in reinforcements, which trebles the bullying for both of them. Rowan decides it’s time to run away – with Riley in tow, of course.

Bella is so badly out of training that she has to go through the basic tests to get back into gymnastics. It’s a bit of a come-down for an ex-champion like her, but at least she gets through. But Bella should have known better than to believe her devious Uncle Jed would have genuinely been hiring the private gym he found for her. And in the final panel it looks like she is about to find out the hard way…

Nanny Young is in charge of a baby this time, and there are suspicious signs that his older sister Barbara is jealous of him. Nanny tries to reach out to Barbara while looking for the solution, but so far it’s evasive.

The current Pam of Pond Hill story concludes this week. Fortune-seekers have been out to steal Goofy’s inheritance from his great-aunt, which they believe is hidden in the doll’s house that was bequeathed to him. They tear the doll’s house to pieces to find it and leave in haste when they turn up empty. It turns out they didn’t look hard enough.

In “ET Estate”, the alien invaders finally catch up with Jenny and Dora. They hold them prisoner while explaining the next stage of their plan – which will make all life (humans included) on Earth extinct, just to keep them fed!

 

Tammy 25 March 1978

Tammy 25 March 1978

Cover Artist: John Richardson

  • Melanie’s Mob (artist Edmond Ripoll)
  • Maisie – Fashion Crazy (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • Mask for Melissa – (artist Angeles Felices)
  • Tuck-in with Tammy – Easter Bonnet cake
  • An Easter Bonnet (artist Audrey Fawley) – Strange Story
  • Greetings for Easter – Feature
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills on the Run (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • The Black Hunter (artist Ken Houghton) – Strange Story
  • Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)
  • Wee Sue (artist Mike White)
  • Gail at Windyridge (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Easter Gifts – Feature

This is Tammy’s Easter issue from 1978. Easter bonnets are a huge feature inside. Tammy presents a recipe for an Easter bonnet cake. Sue designs a winning Easter bonnet for Miss Bigger after accidentally squashing her original. The Storyteller even has a Strange Story about an Easter bonnet that serves as a time travel device. It sets in motion a series of events that make sure a lady’s inheritance does not go to grasping relatives. Edie starts out all eager to eat the Easter eggs she has received. Bessie Bunter and the Editor are among the donors. However, Edie keeps seeing eggs so much in one form or other that she goes off them in the end. “Greetings for Easter” discusses Easter customs. The back cover is a feature on how to make Easter gifts, including Easter cards and Easter egg gift baskets.

Surprisingly, there is no Easter theme in the Bessie Bunter story. Instead, it’s hijinks as Cliff House prepares for a concert. Rather to her chagrin, Bessie is put in cat costume for Dick Whittington (played by Miss Stackpole). Talk about a fat cat!

You may have noticed there is no Bella Barlow in the lineup. Indeed, from 1976 to 1981 Bella followed a pattern where she did not start until April at the earliest. And when she did start, she had plot threads that kept going until late in the year.

“Melanie’s Mob” can be described as the Tammy version of “Concrete Surfer”. Melanie Newton has started a skateboard club and is campaigning to get a skateboarding rink added to the local sports centre. This week things look hopeful when the council says they’ll consider it. But then other clubs pose a problem that could cancel the site the skateboarding club want. Melanie says there’s only one chance, but it means using their skateboarding skills like never before. Now what can she have in mind?

“Maisie – Fashion Crazy” is a sequel to the earlier “Maisie of Mo Town”. Maisie and Mary Malone are in Paris with Gran while Mum’s away. Maisie has a mystery she wants to unravel: why has the man Mum left in charge of business suddenly flown in to Paris as well?

Melissa has developed a real chip on her shoulder about the scars on her face. She can’t bear the sight of her own face, which she hides with a mask while trying to re-establish her performing career. This week she goes into utter hysterics while waitressing when she sees her reflection, smashes the mirror in her room, and also loses a friend with her carry-on.

Molly Mills has returned to a new employer at Stanton Hall. Her existing knowledge of the hall from her Stanton employment is proving a tremendous help to everyone. But her secret about being a fugitive (after being framed for theft) is in danger when a photo of her earlier days at Stanton Hall is uncovered.

At Windyridge, Gail Peters and her father are in similar trouble. They are staying there under false names because Dad has been wrongly branded a horse doper. Unfortunately the residents of Windyridge suspect Dad’s true identity and have called in his previous employer, Owen Winters. Meanwhile, Winters is looking increasingly suspicious himself. Gail has linked him to sabotage at Windyridge, and then she overhears a conversation that suggests Winters had a hand in that horse doping. Well, well, well!

There is also a bonus Strange Story. Now and then Tammy treated her readers to one. “The Black Hunter” is said to revive if his horn is blown three times. June Warren has already blown it twice. Will she blow it the fateful third time or will she see the danger in the nick of time?

Tammy 9 April 1977

Tammy cover 9 April 1977

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Witch Hazel (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • Towne in the Country (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Copper’s Kid (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • The Elephant and Castle Case (artist John Armstrong) – Strange Story
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and the War Games (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – final episode
  • Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)
  • Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)
  • Katie on Thin Ice (artist John Armstrong) – final episode
  • The Dream House (artist Mike White)

We continue honouring the upcoming Easter season with Tammy’s Easter issue from 1977. Strangely, we have just one Cover Girl this week. Her daydream is about to send sticky goo from her Easter egg all over her head, and big sis is not around (for once) to handle the situation – or laugh at it, maybe?

Poor Bessie Bunter does not fare much better. To her mind, Easter is “Feaster”, but what she gets is far from feasting. She does not have enough money for a decent Easter egg. She tries to run away to Easter Island in the mistaken belief she would find one there. But all she gets in the end is a boiled egg because she missed her tea.

Edie goes egg-rolling, and her egg ends up going all over Farmer Grump, who really is a grump. Moreover, she forgot to hard-boil it, so he’s even grumpier. But not Edie, who still has her chocolate Easter egg.

Sue’s school is chosen to appear on a community singing TV programme at Easter. But Miss Bigger is threatening to ruin it and not only with her terrible singing voice – she’s also over-dressed herself in an Easter outfit.

There is no Bella Barlow. Instead, John Armstrong has been drawing a period story, “Katie on Thin Ice”, probably because ice-skating is such a feature in the story. Katie Williams has fallen foul of a Fagin-style racket run by Mrs Winter, who also forces her to use her ice-skating skills to commit crimes. And now Mrs Winter is out for murder by sending the whole ice fair under the ice with salt. Katie has to stop Mrs Winter and save her imperilled friends while keeping ahead of the authorities who are out to arrest her. Katie is replaced by a ballet story next week, “The Dance Dream”, so still no Bella.

John Armstrong is also drawing this week’s Strange Story, which has some reference to Easter, but even more to Sherlock Holmes. Joan Watson is sent to take her mother’s necklace to Baker Street for re-stringing, but she loses it. Then she gets knocked down by a car, and goes into a garbled dream (or something) where Sherlock Holmes himself offers his services to help locate the necklace. When Joan wakes up, the dream has given her enough clues to track down the necklace.

“Witch Hazel” is a Catweazle-type story where a 16th century witch named Hazel comes to the 20th century to learn witchcraft, and does not understand that she’s in the wrong century for witchcraft. Hazel’s first day in a 20th school is taking the science teacher by surprise: she demonstrates alchemy! Then Hazel reacts with horror at the sight of the school gym. Does she think it’s a torture chamber or something?

“Towne in the Country”, which had started out as Tammy’s answer to “All Creatures Great and Small”, took a jarring change of tack when Val Towne sets out to find her father, who had failed to return from an African expedition. This would have been better as two different serials. At any rate, Val and her companions have now been captured by a hostile African tribe. And from the looks of the idol they have been brought to, they are to be sacrificed to the tribe’s god.

Gill Warden has been having a hard time being accepted in the village her policeman father has been transferred to. They call her “copper’s kid”, but now there’s another reason for their hostility: they are hiding a secret from her, and they will only show it to her if she agrees to be blindfolded while they escort her.

Stanton Hall has been taken over by soldiers – but then Molly finds out they are criminals planning to spring their buddies out of jail. It’s Molly’s quick wits and resourcefulness to find a way to outwit them.

“The Dream House” was reprinted in Princess II. It is far from dreamy, though – it’s an evil doll house that is progressively taking away all the older members of the household, and the two youngest children are helping it for some reason.