Tag Archives: Bella At The Bar

Tammy 14 August 1976

Tammy cover 14 August 1976

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Bella at the Bar (artist John Armstrong)
  • Towne in the Country (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Storm over Jerra Island – Strange Story (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Tag Along Tania (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and the General Strike (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Wee Sue – artist John Armstrong
  • Drawn to Destiny – Strange Story serial (artist Tony Higham)
  • Odds on Patsy – final episode (artist Eduardo Feito)

The issue for 1976 in the Tammy round robin is 14 August 1976. The cover is one of my favourites. The Star Trek reference makes it particularly funny if you like Star Trek. It’s a change having a pesky kid brother (or is it a cousin?) instead of a kid sister for the Cover Girl to deal with. And there is another in-joke with the reference to Dan Dare, the famous space adventurer from Eagle. Tammy did not go for SF as much as Jinty – you see SF more often in the Strange Stories than Tammy’s serials – so it’s great to get an SF reference on the cover.

The Olympics featured heavily in Tammy in 1976, which was the year of the Montreal Olympics. Bella has an Olympics-themed story, complete with the Olympics rings being added to her logo. Bella is trying to reach the Montreal Olympics although she has no passport and was passed over for the British team thanks to Jed and Gert Barlow. Right now she is stranded in France with an acrobatics team. They are stringing her along with false promises of getting her to Montreal, and Bella has not yet realised their game. Moreover, her desperation to find gym equipment to train on has landed her in a sticky situation. Later the same year Tammy ran her Olympics-themed classic, Olympia Jones.

Screen Shot 2019-08-15 at 12.54.35 PM

Another thing to run strongly in Tammy in 1976 was stories published at readers’ requests, by open invitation from Tammy. One starting next issue is “Dumbells Academy”, about a school run by the most incompetent staff in the world. This story appeared at the suggestion of one reader: “I’d like to see a story about a school where all the staff are really nutty.” It replaces “Odds on Patsy”, a horse story where Tammy opted for a story on horse racing and jockeys, which makes a nice change from show-jumping. Could the same writer have written “Gail at Windyridge”, another story on jockeying that appeared in Tammy later on?

Expanded Strange Stories also appeared at readers’ requests, which ran for several episodes. The current one is “Drawn to Destiny”, about Diane Hudson, a girl who is jealous of her twin sister Sylvia. And when Diane takes up drawing, her jealousy takes a sinister turn when whatever she draws seems to come true. It starts really scaring her and she doesn’t know what to think, but her jealousy is intensifying too.

Although we have a Strange Story serial, the regular Strange Story continues. This week’s mystery is how the villagers of Jerra Island managed to evacuate from a volcanic island in the 19thcentury. According to legend, the pastor had a vision of it, but how did that happen? And how did Brenda’s church snowstorm souvenir get encased in lava for over 100 years near the site where the pastor saw the vision? She only bought it that day!

Girls’ serials did not often delve into politics, but Molly gets badly tangled in local politics when Lord Stanton has her and Pickering running a bus service during a nationwide strike in support of miners demanding better conditions. This does not please the strikers because it’s blacklegging. It is quite funny seeing the bully butler Pickering in a bus driver’s outfit though! However, Molly has worse problems now than the strike and blacklegging – she is trapped in a crumbling mine with Pickering and Lord Stanton.

Local politics are also a feature in Wee Sue. The council is building an old people’s centre but the oldies don’t want it because they don’t think it’s sound enough. Meanwhile, Sue and her friends would have loved the same site for a roller skating rink. Sue’s suggestion to the council: turn it into a community centre and convert the roof into a skating rink. Now everybody’s happy.

Tania Foster has always been the muggins and dumping ground of the gang of she hangs out with. Now she realises it, she is trying to stand up for herself. The trouble is, they keep finding ways to keep her put upon, including blackmail and dirty tricks. This week they push her into doing all their maths homework for them at the disco while they enjoy themselves and laugh at her. Too bad for them they forgot a noisy disco was not the best place for Tania to concentrate on maths and they end up in detention for “disgusting” homework. It is one of many instances where their treatment of Tania backfires. But Tania is still the muggins of the gang and finding a way to get them to treat her with respect is proving elusive.

“Towne in the Country” is a period story where All Creatures Great and Small meets “Cathy’s Casebook”. Valerie Towne and her vet father have moved to a new post in the country. Valerie soon realises she is going to be deeply involved in her father’s work, but she is not all that confident around animals. And there are other problems such as their vet’s clinic being a mess and queues of kids lining up with pets, expecting Valerie to cure them. And now Valerie and her father have a jumbo-sized problem – treating a sick circus elephant!

Bessie and her class go to the fair. After a series of mishaps, hijinks and getting messed up, everything ends happily for Bessie – with lots of food, of course.

Tammy & June 14 June 1975

Tammy cover 14 June 1975

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Bella at the Bar (artist John Armstrong, writer Jenny McDade)
  • Slaves of the Hot Stove – final episode (artist Douglas Perry, writer Gerry Finley-Day?)
  • Red Letter Rosie
  • Last Laugh for the Jester – the Strange Story (artist John Armstrong)
  • Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Lill Waters Runs Deep – final episode (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Picture – Alan Merrill-Arrows

The issue for 14 June 1975 has been chosen for 1975 in the Tammy round robin. Bella’s second story, where she has to cope with unjust public stigma after being wrongly expelled from a Russian gymnastics school, definitely must rank as her darkest. Bella has managed to overcome the stigma enough to be chosen for the British team at a European championship. But the cloud is always hanging over her, and it shows in the cold way her coaches and fellow team members treat her. It gets worse this week when another team member, Jill, gets injured trying to copy Bella and blames her. Then, when Bella is on the bars, something goes wrong. Bella can’t get a grip and now she is about to take a bad fall. And we have a sneaky suspicion Jill is behind it.

“Lill Waters Runs Deep” and “Slaves of the Hot Stove”, the two other stories that began in the same issue as the new Bella story, both end this week.

“Slaves of the Hot Stove” has been a bizarre slave story from the start. Everything, from the racket to the escape plans, revolves around food. Madam Mange runs a secret kitchen in a restaurant with kidnapped top cooks as slave labour, complete with chains and rags. Its ending this week must rank as one of the…weirdest ever published in girls comics. To break all the slaves free from Madam Mange altogether, protagonist Carol Cook scares her to death with a giant Yorkshire pudding that grows so huge it threatens to smother her. Er…yes…most believable…quite how the chemistry should work. Madam Mange escapes, already plotting to cook up more evil somewhere else, and the world will hear from her again. But if Tammy was planning a sequel with Madam Mange, it didn’t eventuate for some reason.

Lill Waters has been a crafty schemer and so far gotten away with everything until two men who saw her true self show up at her home. How does the family react when they hear about Lill’s scheming? They laugh their heads off! They always thought she was a shy little thing, and here she is all clever and crafty, and tell her that her scheming didn’t matter because it was herself she really hurt. Well, that is one way to deal with it, and it really works. After that, Lill changes her ways, and the family gives her a new makeover to match.

Laughter has surprising results in this week’s Strange Story too. Mary Barnes is a swot and a nerd who wouldn’t know what funny is if she wrote a thesis on it. Then, during a school trip to an old castle Mary picks up a jester’s stick – and all of a sudden she’s playing practical jokes on the school party. Later, holding the jester’s stick enables her to save the guide’s life, and those practical jokes also had a hand in saving him.

Red Letter Rosie is now at its climax. Rosie’s horrible stepsister Gloria has been part of a scheme to kidnap Rosie’s pen friend Sarah Wilson, take her place, and rob the Wilson family. The crooks succeed with the robbery, but that’s not the worst of it. Sarah has grown ill because of her kidnapping and it looks very serious. Rosie’s horribly afraid for Sarah’s life.

The School for Snobs is in open war against a snob (Serena) who plays soldiers with everyone, even her father. Serena soon proves a tough one to crack and Hermione has to bring out her big guns. They take the form of the girls dressing up as a robot army to show Serena the logical conclusion of where her army discipline will lead. After this, Serena waves the white flag of surrender.

Miss Bigger’s out to impress the mayor. But it turns out to be in the wrong way when the mayor turns up incognito, realises what a tartar she is, and sets up a trap to teach her a lesson. So Wee Sue wins over Miss Bigger without even trying this week.

Bessie plays tricks with a Halloween mask and roller skates, but her scheme unravels and “Stackers” the headmistress confiscates the skates. But things come right for Bessie in the end when Stackers tries the skates herself and gets in trouble.

Mistress Claire has entered Molly in a Servant of the Year Award, but catty Betty and Kitty are out to make sure she doesn’t win. The journalist testing Molly for the award has discovered their tricks but decides to let them continue in order to test Molly’s true worth for the award.

 

 

Further reprints from Rebellion: “Bella” and two Jinty stories

You will perhaps have already seen the latest exciting information on the internet: Rebellion Publishing is bringing out two volumes of girls comics reprints from Tammy and from Jinty respectively.

bella

Bella at the Bar” is billed, appropriately, as “A modern day Cinderella story”. At 96 pages it is the right length to include the first two “Bella” stories but the blurb is fairly general and gives little away to the aficionado as to exactly what the contents are. It seems unlikely that it includes Bella’s later struggles to reach the Moscow Olympics or travels to mysterious Arab countries where she tutors princesses – or at least not yet, as this is billed as Book One. May there be many more!

Rebellion have chosen a strong pair of stories from Jinty to launch what is again billed as Volume One of (hopefully) a series: “The Human Zoo” and “Land of No Tears”. No cover is shown on the initial announcement on the Simon & Schuster website, but there are plenty of great images that could be used, of course. As with the Misty volumes, they have made sure to link the two stories in some clear way – this time rather than choosing the same author, they have gone for the same artist. Guy Peeters is an under-recognized girls’ comics artist and I am glad to see him get more attention.

Jinty cover 19 August 1978

Where possible, I am keen to link to the original publisher’s site. I see that the Bella book is listed as being one of the “Treasury of British Comics” line, but it is not yet mentioned on the specific website for that imprint. I found it on the Simon & Schuster website: I think that Rebellion have a distribution deal with them, which is presumably why it is listed there. I’m not quite sure why the Jinty volume is listed as being one of Rebellion’s Graphic Novels (a list that on searching seems to include “Charley’s War” and “Marney the Fox”, but also some less all-ages titles such as “Bleach”). It would be nice to see all the announced titles listed clearly on the Treasury of British Comics site, which is a good dedicated shopfront that is easy to navigate and use.

Finally, a word of warning to other sites announcing these two new titles  and future ones in the series – be careful to attribute the creators and the stories correctly. “Bella” is correctly credited as being by Jenny McDade as writer and John Armstrong as artist, but in future Bella stories it will be harder to be sure of the writer. During Tammy’s era of printing credits, Primrose Cumming is known to have been the writer of the time – hopefully the publishers will check with erstwhile editor Wilf Prigmore in case there was any other writer in between those two times, but certainly Jenny McDade did not write all the Bella stories over the ten years that it ran.

“The Human Zoo and Land of No Tears” is billed as being by Pat Mills as writer and Guy Peeters as artist. The sharp-eyed reader of this blog will spot straight away that “The Human Zoo” is known not to have been written by Mills – although the writer is not definitively established it is thought likely to have been one of Malcolm Shaw’s. That uncertainty presumably makes it harder for the publishers to be clear about the authorship: in the circumstances they can’t just say straight out that it is by Malcolm Shaw I suppose. However, that lack of clarity will muddy the waters for others and I fear it will lead to a perpetuation of the unexamined notion that Pat Mills wrote the vast majority of girls comics – something which he does not himself claim, but which others not infrequently do on his behalf.

WTFometer VII: Cinderella Story

Comixminx has devised the WFTometer, the idea of which “was to give a framework for looking at how bonkers (or not) a story’s plot was, by comparing the story to an assumed ‘average reader’s situation’. This gives a structured way of comparing stories, including the possibility of finding patterns of oddity in seemingly different stories which are perhaps odd in similar ways”.

This seventh volume of the WTFometer will look at three Cinderella stories that already have entries on this blog. They are Cinderella Smith and Make-Believe Mandy from Jinty, and Bella at the Bar (original Bella story) from Tammy.

As the name suggests, the Cinderella story means a serial where the protagonist is treated like Cinderella by cruel parents, foster parents or other type of guardian. There is often a wicked stepsister type (though not always) who is spoiled and joins in the abuse of the protagonist. Most often the protagonist’s one hope of escape comes from a talent she has discovered or special secret, but the abusers throw all sorts of obstacles in the way.

When comparing the results on the WTFometer, the scores remain the same for agency in small/large things and emotional/physical/mental security. They remain “small difference”. One reason is that the emotional/physical/mental security issues are not serious enough to go into “big difference”. For example, the abuse the protagonist endures is not severe enough to put her at risk of death, so it remains “small difference”. The variations in scores are seen in the sections on household structures and standard real-life talents. This ties in with the Cinderella format, where family structure is the basis for establishing the abuse, and where a special talent/secret is often the key to freeing the protagonist from the abuse. None of the stories hit “extreme” in any category.

First: Cinderella Smith

Score: 10

wtfometer-cinderella-smith

Cindy Smith is sent to live with her two elder cousins while her father is away. They exploit and abuse her to the point of putting her in chains and making her eat out of the dog’s dish. Although they live a luxurious lifestyle they make Cindy live in mean conditions and put her in tattered clothes. Their abuse is prompted by stinginess and hatred towards Cindy’s mother, who is now dead. Cindy takes a secret modelling job. The cousins’ dog Woozums, initially hostile to Cindy, becomes her companion and co-modelling star. Cindy also gets help from her friends at school in working against her cousins’ abuse.

This story scores a 10 on the WTFometer. This is because it is the most consistent with the patterns observed above. There is “small difference” in “standard pets” because of Woozums, which takes up the scoring slightly more. It would score higher if Cindy was an orphan, but she is not. Her father is still alive. The “standard friends” structure remains “standard”, but this is in fact unusual for a Cinderella serial, in which the protagonist tends to be more isolated from any friends to help her.

Second: Make-Believe Mandy

Score: 14

wtfometer-make-believe-mandy

Mandy Miller’s family hate her for some reason. The parents make her do all the housework and slave in their second hand clothes shop while they devote all their attention and money on their spoiled daughter Dinah. The parents always compare Mandy unfavourably with Dinah, calling her ugly, useless and not fit to be seen with her. Whenever Mandy threatens to go one better than Dinah, the parents get even more cruel with her.

Gradually Mandy realises their hatred stems from her not being related to them by blood. She is in fact a foreign princess who was left in their care when calamity struck the country. When payments for Mandy’s upkeep fell through the Millers were left stuck with her. But now officials from Mandy’s home country have located her whereabouts, and after a series of tests to determine her identity, they want her to reclaim her throne. The Millers try to stop this by locking Mandy in the coal cellar, and Mandy is making a seemingly impossible bid to escape through the coal chute.

The scoring is similar to “Cinderella Smith”. One difference that would make the scoring lower than Cindy is that the ticket out Mandy’s misery is her royal birthright, not a special talent, so standard real-life talents are ranked as “standard. However, Mandy scores “big difference” on the two-parent household category because the Millers are not Mandy’s real parents and it can be safely assumed her birth parents are dead, which would make her an “orphan”. So Mandy scores four points higher than Cindy.

Third: Bella at the Bar

Score: 24

wtfometer-bella-at-the-bar

Orphan Bella Barlow is exploited by her Uncle Jed and Aunt Gert, who wring as much money and work out of her as possible. They make her do all the housework, slave at Uncle Jed’s window cleaning business (without payment), don’t feed her properly and keep her off school.

Bella has a genius for gymnastics, but the Barlows either do not allow it because it will make no money for them or they take advantage of it if they do see a way to make money from it. This includes sending Bella to a seaside show where they will get money from her gymnastics acts. The seaside show manager exploits and abuses Bella as much as the Barlows do, and the acts she is being forced to do threaten her health.

Bella follows the same patterns as Cinderella Smith in the real-life talents and emotional/physical/mental security sections, but in other sections it scores higher. Unlike Cindy, Bella is an orphan, which means “big difference” in the two-parent category. The Barlows don’t let her go to school, which means “big difference” in the school category. There is “small difference” in the locality section because of the shift to the seaside show.

Exciting news about the IPC copyrights, pt II

Around this time last week, I met up with Ben Smith from Rebellion, to discuss the acquisition of the IPC copyrights and to pitch some possible ideas. This is not an interview (I didn’t take detailed notes), but it is a way of recording some particularly exciting elements of what’s looking plausible or likely.

First of all, Ben and the company as a whole are as keen to make great use of this new material as you could wish them to be. This is a significant investment for them, so it needs to be approached in a way that means it makes good long-term sense. There’s a lot of obvious value to be got from this treasure trove. A line of well-chosen reprints is a no brainer when you consider that the company has already proved the worth of that model (their reprint of Monster from Scream & The Eagle is one of their very best sellers).

Monster has name recognition factor (Alan Moore and John Wagner), but how do you sell the stories that don’t have quite such attention-grabbing names? And will it only be the ‘usual suspects’ that sit fairly comfortably alongside 2000AD – stories from horror comics or hard-hitting war tales? One of the things I was particularly happy to hear was that they really are looking in detail across the range of boys, girls, and humour comic stories. Ben was enthusiastic about all sorts of girls comics, from sports stories (yes, “Bella at the Bar” is a strong contender) to stories of everyday life (he name checked Pam of Pond Hill), and of course the science fiction / fantasy / creepy stories that were such a big part of Jinty, Misty, and Tammy. (We talked less about humour comics as it’s not my main focus, but they won’t be ignored in the line-up.) At the same time he was realistic in acknowledging that there will also need to be energy spent in making new markets; the nostalgia market is a great start but it needs to be grown to incorporate a new readership. Parents whose kids are outgrowing the Phoenix, or teens who are excited by the Olympics? Rebellion will be casting the net more widely than just the nostalgia market, wherever it ends up landing.

It’s not just reprints, though. We didn’t talk about relaunching titles or creating new material using the old characters – if these possibilities come into view I suspect it will be some way along the line, once the new playing field has been staked out and surveyed better. But merchandising, oh yeah. Again it needs to be done right, to make it work long-term, but can you imagine the bull leap from “A Leap Through Time” on a t shirt, or the cover of “Concrete Surfer” on a bag? Maybe you won’t have to just imagine it, soon.

bull-leap

Of course as a fan historian and interested blogger, I also wanted to ask other questions about the acquisition. Ben was quick to reassure that fan sites such as this one were very much fine by him (so long as people don’t ‘take the piss’ by which I assume he means reprinting whole issues or stories, or of course selling material commercially). They help to keep the buzz going, and are an important information resource. (Certainly any artist and writer credits that the reprints publish is more likely to come from bloggers and historians than from any official records, I fear.) So there is no problem with this site continuing to feature scanned art, sample episodes, posts about stories, and analysis (even if this includes spoiler details of story endings). You needn’t worry about changes to the content of this site, therefore (though I will now be amending the copyright information to credit Rebellion correctly).

I also asked about what sort of archives were included in the deal. Ben’s focus as the head of publishing is different from mine as a comics historian – he is thinking about the fact he will need to build around 80 metres of shelving to hold the bound file copies of the comics, and is looking forward to seeing if any of the new haul includes anything that could speed up the reproduction process (for instance, any usable film from the original printing – though he doesn’t hold out much hope). I am wondering if there might be any further material included in those archives – I don’t realistically expect there to be letters and editorial files, but you never know. Might there be a file copy of the issue of Tammy which never got distributed – the one which includes the last episode of “Cora Can’t Lose”? We know that there were 30 copies printed of the last pre-censorship Action, and maybe a similar situation could be the case here. I will be very keen to make a trip to the new archive location, once the dust has settled!

Tammy & June 22 June 1974

Tammy & June 1974 Cover artist – John Richardson

  • Bella at the Bar (artist John Armstrong, writer Jenny McDade) – first episode
  • Secret of the Supermarket – The Strangest Stories Ever Told (artist Douglas Perry) – first appearance in Tammy
  • Sadie in the Sticks (artist Juliana Buch) – first episode
  • Wee Sue (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • It’s Great Here! – Competition
  • Bessie Bunter – first appearance
  • Summer Madness! Competition
  • Swimmer Slave of Mrs Squall (artist Douglas Perry, writer Gerry Finley-Day?) – first episode
  • Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie (artist Robert MacGillivray, writer Terence Magee)
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – new story
  • Eva’s Evil Eye (artists Charles Morgan and John Richardson, writer John Wagner) – first episode

As we have a June theme running at present, I thought I may as well discuss the issue where June merges with Tammy. The title hails it as “a great get together” and I certainly agree. In this merger, everything starts either new or anew. This makes a nice change from the usual annoyance of a merger starting with stories from both comics that are still unfinished, which left new readers irritated to start reading stories half-way through.

What comes over from June – Bessie Bunter and the Storyteller – will last for many years in Tammy. In fact, Bessie and the Storyteller are going through their second merger; they originally came from School Friend, which merged with June. Many of the Strange Stories that appear in Tammy would later make their way into Jinty with Gypsy Rose replacing the Storyteller. Some of them even turned up in June annuals during the 1980s – talk about reciprocation. Their appearance in Tammy also gave her more regulars in addition to Molly Mills and Wee Sue.

Molly Mills starts off with a great story that hooks you in immediately (well, it did me). Molly takes pity on Ada Fellows, a girl who seems to be bullied by her ex-employer and brings her to Stanton Hall for a job. Pickering the resident bully butler thinks Ada should be got rid of. And for once he has the right idea. Molly soon discovers Ada is big trouble – especially for her.

Sadly, Lucky’s Living Doll proved less durable. Although she had lasted for years in June, she did not make it to the merger. Maybe the editor decided her time was done or there was no room for her because Tammy was to retain Wee Sue and Uncle Meanie from the Sandie merger? If so, Wee Sue proved the most durable and would go through the most diverse range of artists before ending in 1982.

It would be nice to know which of the new serials were originally meant for June or Tammy; they could have appeared in either of them.

In “Eva’s Evil Eye”, Eva Lee pretends to have the evil eye to stop girls from bullying her because she is a gypsy. But what will the consequences be – especially if someone sees through Eva? “Sadie in the Sticks” belongs in the time-honoured tradition of an amnesiac girl being exploited by unscrupulous people who take advantage of her loss of memory. Sadie Wade’s only joy as she slaves in the Scraggs’ household and chippie is a talent for making matchstick models. Pretty odd considering she has a fear of fire. The start of the mystery that has to be unravelled if Sadie is to regain her memory and be free of the Scraggs. In “Swimmer Slave of Mrs Squall”, Sue Briggs is a difficult pupil at school who seems no good at anything or even try. Then, when she trespasses at the reclusive Mrs Squall’s house, her talent for swimming is discovered and Mrs Squall offers to train her as a champion. But the title warns us that her motives and methods are not all that noble.

And the best for last. The Tammy & June merger issue is a milestone in Tammy history for another reason – it marks the debut of Bella Barlow. She starts off as a serial here, “Bella at the Bar”. Like Sadie, Bella is a Cinderella story (minus the mystery). Her aunt and uncle make her do all the work, both at home and at their window-cleaning business. The only thing that makes her life worth living is gymnastics. Her talent is spotted, but her mean uncle won’t agree to training unless there’s money in it. Bella is determined to find a way, but of course there will be even more obstacles. However, this would not be just another Cinderella story. Popular demand would bring Bella back again and again until she held a joint record with Molly Mills for Tammy’s longest-running character – ten years. It is appropriate that Bella is the first serial we see as soon as we open the issue. Bella is also indicative of how topical gymnastics had become at the time with Olympic champions like Olga Korbut. Up until then there had been only one gymnastics story in Tammy – the 1972 story “Amanda Must Not Be Expelled”. But the popularity of Bella – not to mention the fluid, anatomical artwork of John Armstrong – would make gymnastics a regular feature in Tammy.

That’s it for my June contributions to this blog. My next entry will be back on topic with Jinty.

The Best of 70s Girls’ Comics Annual

(Thanks to Lew Stringer for alerting me to this new annual of IPC Fleetway girls comics material: it is sold exclusively in Sainsbury so there is little information on the internet about it.)

Best of 70s Girls Comics Annual

Contents:

  • Jokes: Fun Spot and Fun Time
  • Bella at the Bar (artist John Armstrong)
  • At the Midnight Hour (text story)
  • Fancy Dressing Up? (feature)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Good news for the birthday girl! (feature)
  • The Strange Story: Called to Save
  • Jokes: Fun Time
  • Friend of Alison (text story)
  • See Yourself – In Your True Colours (feature)
  • Sally Was A Cat
  • Tammy Jokes
  • How To Make Baubles, Bangles, & Beads (craft feature)
  • Beattie Beats ‘Em All! (artist John Armstrong)
  • Holly Takes The Plunge! (text story)
  • Beauty From The Fridge (feature)
  • No Tears For Molly (writer Maureen Spurgeon, artist Tony Thewenetti)
  • Bag of Tricks! (craft feature)
  • Crocodile, Crocodile! More Fun With Minna From Mars (artist Colin Merritt)
  • Put Your Cards On The Table! (feature)
  • The Osmonds (pin-up)
  • Jokes: Fun Spot and Five More Fun Spots

As a reader of British girls’ comics, overall I think this is reasonably well-balanced as a selection; I’m not that fond of text stories generally but they do give you something chewy to go back and read once you’ve devoured the comics (always my primary focus), and it includes a reasonable range of kinds of comic story too, as well as some of the usual kinds of features. As a particular fan of Jinty, with my Jinty-blinkers on, I was pretty disappointed with how little material from ‘my’ title showed up in this annual – the cover image is from the Jinty annual of 1975, and it is possible that some of the jokes or features are taken from an issue that I don’t recall, but none of the stories do*. Fans of Tammy will find more in it that they remember.

That aside, it is a publication that I will be happy to share with my young daughter even if it doesn’t trip the nostalgia-button that the publishers may have been expecting. It’s not that large a book – 72 pages is thinner than the usual run of annuals – but it has some fun items to look through with her, without me needing to trust fragile forty-year-old paper to her tender mercies.

* Edited to add: “Minna From Mars” is taken from the 1976 Jinty Annual, but there is no representation of any of the stories from the regular Jinty weekly issues.