Tag Archives: Bella Barlow

Tammy 12 August 1978

Cover artist: John Richardson

Bella (artist John Armstrong)

Bessie Bunter (artist Arthur Martin)

Vision of Vanity Fayre (artist Mario Capaldi) – final episode

Maggie’s Menagerie (artist Tony Coleman)

Double – or Nothing! (artist Diana Gabbot(t))

The Juicy Mackerel (artist Peter Wilkes) – Strange Story

Wee Sue (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)

A Bus in the Family (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)

Heraldry – Edie’s Hobbyhorse

Now we come to 1978 in our August Tammy month round, with one of my favourite Tammy covers. 

“Your future’s assured” says the cover, but not for Bella in introducing gymnastics to Port Tago, Australia. The way things are going, she must have wondered if she should have stayed home. And now, just when things finally seem to be looking up, an enemy strikes. They tried to sabotage Bella’s public demonstration, and now they’ve sent her a death threat, telling her to get out of Port Tago, or else! 

Currently, there is no Molly Mills (she returns in the following issue), which was a definite change after her artist changed from Tony Thewenetti to Douglas Perry. In the Thewenetti run, Molly appeared without pause from the first issue of Tammy to the end of Thewenetti’s run on 20 August 1977. But when Perry took over on 31 December 1977, Molly took more breaks until the end of her run in 1981 (barring her spot appearances in the “Old Friends” strip in 1982). This would have given some relief to the readers who did not like her so much and allowed more room for serials. 

In the Strange Story, you wouldn’t think a fish could help a man escape? It does when he gets pressganged and his twin sister comes to the rescue after sensing his danger through the twin link. 

Tony Coleman is drawing his second story for Tammy. Maggie Crown is living on her gran’s barge while her parents are away. Animal-loving Maggie is accumulating a secret hoard of stray animals on the barge – what a thing to hide on a barge! As gran is no animal lover, the fur will really fly if she finds out, and that can only be a matter of time.

“Vision of Vanity Fayre” concludes, and a TV production crew are free to carry on with the shoot of the life of a famous authoress without interference from the monstrous conduct of the authoress, which was threatening to destroy it. It turns out she was an imposter (surprise, surprise!) who was holding the real authoress a virtual prisoner while profiteering from her fame. And talking of TV, it leads to trouble for Bessie this week, who ends up under punishment again.

As nobody will partner with Kate Winter because of her terrible temper, she has roped Pam Doggett into a doubles team with her. This week they go into action, but Pam’s insufficient training and constant arguing with Kate are having predictable results. At least someone sees Pam does have potential as a tennis player, but with the way things are going, would Pam be better off in the singles?

Rosie Banks’ father is taking her class on a continental tour in the bus he’s just bought. Things aren’t going smoothly, sometimes in hilarious ways, sometimes in more serious ones. This week it’s really serious, as the brakes suddenly fail, and at the worst possible location – the Pyrenees. Adding to the seriousness is the mystery of why the previous owner, Dodger Wilkins, is so determined to get it back and sent his flunky after it. Is there more to the bus than meets the eye? At least Rose is alerted to his shadowing this week.

Sue enters a sponsored cycle race, but there is a cheat pulling dirty tricks on her. Sue decides to pull her own trick on the cheat, who ends up taking a well-deserved dunking. 

Tammy 20 August 1977

Cover artist: John Richardson

Bella (artist John Armstrong)

Sharon’s Shadow (artist Hugo D’Adderio) – Strange Story serial – first episode

Melanie’s Mob (artist Edmond Ripoll)

Molly Mills – the final episode (artist Tony Thewenetti)

Bessie Bunter (artist Arthur Martin)

Maisie of Mo Town (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)

Shadow of the Fire God (artist Manuel Benet) – Strange Story

Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)

Wee Sue (artist Mike White)

Daughter of the Regiment (artist Mario Capaldi)

Now we come to 1977 in our August Tammy month round. And there’s another reason to bring out this August issue – it is the issue with the final episode (below) of Molly Mills. Yes, the great Molly Mills debate has finally come to a head. On the letters page (below), ye Editor makes an open call for letters – with monetary incentives of course – on whether or not to bring her back. But really, this would have been a whole lot more fair and representative of readers’ wants if the final episode had ended with a definitive conclusion (Molly sailing off to India with the others). Indeed, if this really was to be Molly’s final bow, they should have done that. Instead, it’s a tantalising cliffhanger (Pickering’s infamous frame-up of Molly at the docks, which makes her a fugitive, on the run from the law). This would surely have skewed the response from readers in favour of Molly’s return, to see how she sorts out her predicament. Indeed, ye Editor later informs us that the response was overwhelmingly in favour of Molly’s return, and return she did, on 31 December 1977. Would the response have been the same if Molly had been given a proper send-off? Incidentally, seeing as Molly returned with a different artist (Douglas Perry), I suspect the clincher for this sudden end of Molly was not the Molly Mills debate – it was Tony Thewenetti no longer able to continue with Molly for some reason. 

Meanwhile, Bella is at a Russian gymnastics school on a scholarship, and it’s good to see she’s getting a lot out of it this time (last time she was at a Russian gymnastics school, she was wrongly expelled before she’d hardly begun). Of course the school not without problems, and boy, does her strict Russian coach have a face to remember! John Armstrong must have had a great time drawing inspiration from gargoyles or something. This week, Bella loses her memory after an accident in the gym and strays from the school. 

Tammy takes us into the world of politics with the new Strange Story serial, “Sharon’s Shadow”. Joe Brown, outraged by the rundown housing conditions in Leechester, which led to the death of his grandfather, is running for MP so he can turn things around. But his chances of election could come under threat when his sister Sharon challenges a witch’s curse at her grave and then has a strange accident there. Never, ever, challenge the supernatural, Sharon. Meanwhile, in the regular Strange Story, the horrors of human sacrifice in pre-Christian days threaten to resurface with an erupting volcano, and superstition and hysteria get the better of people.

In “Maisie in Mo Town”, it’s been a barrel of laughs (though maybe a bit un-PC today) with Maisie pretending to increasingly exasperated kidnappers that she’s a dumb wild girl from Africa who doesn’t know the first thing about civilisation and can only speak pidgin English. But now things take a very serious turn as the kidnappers make plans to smuggle her out of the country. To this end, they lock her in the attic, ready for someone to collect at midnight!

“Daughter of the Regiment” Tessa Mason has recruited a gang of mudlarks to help clear her father, who was shot for cowardice at the Charge of the Light Brigade. But one, Dick, has been bribed to help lead her into a trap! And Melanie has recruited her own gang, “Melanie’s Mob”, to train as athletes. Dad would have a fit if he knew they were the Canal Mob, and now someone has reported something to the police about it.

At a regatta, Stackers is finding a mermaid costume problematic, and it leads to hijinks. In the final panel, Bessie doesn’t think much of mermaid costumes either, as she can’t raid the grub in the one she’s forced to wear.  

Nobody in class believes Miss Bigger when she shoots a big line about how her big WAAF days in World War II helped to win the Battle of Britain. So nobody’s surprised when she comes unstuck at a Battle of Britain exhibition at a flying club: “Bigger? We had a waitress of that name in the mess. Butter-fingers Bigger we used to call her…she was always dropping the crockery.” Miss Bigger’s looking very red, and then she’s green, as she can’t take a flight in a WWII plane without feeling airsick. The real heroics belong to Sue, who scares off robbers at the club with a phoney WWII bomb.

Tammy 7 August 1976

Cover artist: John Richardson

Bella (artist John Armstrong)

Towne in the Country (artist John Armstrong)

The Good Old Days (artist Bill Baker) – Strange Story

Tag Along Tania (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)

Bessie Bunter (artist Arthur Martin)

Molly Mills and the General Strike (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)

Drawn to Destiny (artist Tony Higham) – Strange Story serial

Odds on Patsy (artist Eduardo Feito)

We come to 1976 in our Tammy August month round, and the cover confirms what we always suspected – teachers took sneak reads of the comics (Tammy, Jinty, whatever) they confiscated, and they enjoyed them as much as the girls themselves. We have to wonder how many closet Molly, Bella or Jinx from St. Jonah’s fans were created that way. The sight of the teacher reading her Tammy must be worse than the lines for the poor Cover Girl. 

Parents also enjoyed reading their daughters’ copies of Tammy, as one letter to Tammy this week shows: “I have been reading Tammy for nearly five years now…I think it’s the best comic around and so does my mother who always insists on reading it…” 

The Olympics were huge in Tammy in 1976 because of Montreal, and the Bella story for that year used the theme. Bella is determined to reach Montreal although she can’t compete and has no passport. It got left behind when she fled from her cruel aunt and uncle, and her flight is leading to all sorts of misadventures in Continental Europe, with Montreal seeming to get further and further away each time. Right now, she’s stranded in France with a stage troupe who are taking advantage of her. Added to that, there are jealous girls in the troupe playing nasty tricks on her. Yes, it never rains but pours with our Bella. Later on in 1976, Tammy continued the theme of the Olympics with the classic “Olympia Jones”.

By popular demand, 1976 had a stab at publishing some Strange Story serials. The current one is “Drawn to Destiny”, where jealousy between twin sisters over artwork is leading to ever-frightening results. And this week’s Strange Story (below) may have you think twice about comparing the present to “the good old days”.

In “Towne in the Country”, Val discovers what necessity can drive you to do. She is scared at the thought of administering an injection or touching animals, and then she has to do both when her father’s life is endangered and it’s up to her to save his life. Yep, Tammy’s clearly out to toughen up this one all right.

Tania “Tag Along” Foster is trying to stand up to the girls she hangs out with and stop being their dogsbody, but they aren’t giving up their power over her that easily. They’re pulling dirty tricks to keep her as their doormat. It always backfires on them in the end, leaving Tania with the last laugh, but she still has a fight on her hands to win respect.

Tennis trouble for Stackers when she pushes Bessie onto the tennis court this week – she soon finds having Bessie try tennis is courting trouble of the Bessie blundering kind. At least everything ends happily when it’s refreshment time.

Sue is trying to help a pupil lose weight, which turns into a very weighty problem when Miss Bigger makes a bet with the Head over whether or not the girl can lose weight. So the hijinks ensue when Miss Bigger turns to dirty tricks to keep the weight on and Sue steps into foil them. 

Eduardo Feito is the artist who really brought horse stories to life in Tammy. He has a number of strong Tammy horse stories under his belt already, such as “Halves in a Horse”, “The Uxdale Urchins” and “Rona Rides Again”. His current horse story is “Odds on Patsy”, about a racehorse and a girl who wants to be a top jockey. Now that’s a nice change from stories about show jumping and gymkhanas.

Politics is an unusual topic in a girls’ comic, but here it is in Molly’s story, “The General Strike”. Lord Stanton dispatches Molly and Pickering to keep the buses running during a workers’ strike (something IPC knew a lot about), which is being conducted in sympathy for a miners’ strike against a wage cut. Readers must have enjoyed Molly and Pickering’s change of uniforms and jobs: Molly as the bus conductor and Pickering as the (hee, hee!) bus driver. Unfortunately, Lord Stanton’s move to keep the buses running during the strike is understandably pissing off the strikers and they’ve turned on him. Now Lord Stanton’s gone missing, and his car’s come a cropper in the quarry! Could it be connected with the strike?

Tammy 11 June 1983

Cover artist: Phil Gascoine

Portrait of Doreen Gray (artist Tony Coleman (credited as George Anthony), writer Charles Herring)

The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Alison Christie)

Backhand Play (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Ian Mennell) – first episode

School Days (artist Phil Townsend, writer Ian Mennell) – complete story

Enchanted June (artist Alma Jones, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – feature 

Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)

Different Strokes (artist Santiago Hernandez, writer Charles Herring)

Jaws Three (artist Phil Townsend, writer Gerry Finley-Day)

Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)

Heatwave! (Mari L’Anson) – feature 

Now we come to the 1983 issue in our Tammy June month round. As it so happens, the issue has a feature about popular British folklore in June (below), which makes it even more flavoursome for our June month theme. At this time, Tammy liked to run a feature on a particular month and the folklore that went with it.

We are now in the era where Tammy ran credits and her covers used story illustrations taken from the panels inside. Jinty did the same thing for several years before she changed to Mario Capaldi covers on 21/28 June 1980. This era of Tammy also had a new logo.

This issue has a gorgeous Phil Gascoine cover, which heralds Gascoine’s new story, “Backhand Play”, the last tennis serial Tammy published. A number of tennis stories appeared in Tammy over the years, such as “Backhand Billie” and “Double – Or Nothing!”. But the one that has to be the classic is “Becky Never Saw the Ball”, about a tennis player making a comeback after going blind. 

Bella and Pam of Pond Hill continue as the regular characters. There are two other regulars strips that appear now. One is a weekly complete story, with themes ranging from the supernatural to romance. Some of these completes reprint old Strange Stories, with text boxes replacing the Storyteller. The other is “The Button Box”. The Button Box is a storyteller theme (minus the supernatural), with Bev Jackson bringing a story every week from her button box. Each button has a story to tell, and often a moral along with it. This week’s moral: if you show a little kindness, it will be rewarded. Like having your life saved, which is what happens with the only man who showed kindness to a beggar girl who is bullied by everyone else in an Italian village. 

Tammy has had a higher number of serials since she dropped a lot of old regulars on 17 July 1982. And now she has credits, we can not only see who is behind the stories but also the types of stories some of her writers favoured. For example, we can see from the credits that Alison Christie favoured heart-tugging emotional stories and Charles Preston spooky completes. Perhaps Preston used to write on Strange Stories, Gypsy Rose and Misty. Other writers, such as Malcolm Shaw, Ian Mennell and Charles Herring, wrote on a wider variety of genres. 

Tammy & Misty 21/28 June 1980

Cover artist: John Richardson

Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)

Shadows on the Wall – Strange Story from the Mists

Tina’s Telly Mum (artist Giorgio Giorgetti, writer Alison Christie) – first episode

Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)

The Sea Witches (Mario Capaldi)

Lucky By Name (artist Julian Vivas)

Peggy in the Middle (artist Tony Coleman)

Edie and Miss T (artist Joe Collins)

Meet the Tammy Gymnast of the Month – Feature

Donna Ducks Out (artist Diane Gabbot(t))

Now we come to 1980 in our Tammy June month round. This particular June issue is unusual for having a double date. All IPC titles that week had it for some reason. 

It’s been six months since Misty merged with Tammy. The merger changed the Tammy logo from having daisy flowers to solid letters. The Misty merger was a bit disappointing because Misty was underrepresented in the merger. Tammy had a higher ratio of content all the way through. Much of the problem must have been with Misty herself. She had no regulars except Miss T and Misty herself, and regulars are vital for carrying on in a merger. Also, Misty’s ratio of serials was not very high, while her number of complete stories was way too vast. Also, her stories used 4-page spreads while her sister comics used three, which also reduced the space for more serials to run. A lower ratio of complete stories, enabling more room for serials, would have created a better balance. It would have also created more scope for something from Misty’s serials to turn into a regular, or for a regular strip to have been created. Some of the spooky stories that appeared during the merger, such as “The Sea Witches”, do give the impression they were originally scripted for Misty. Unfortunately, if Misty was not writing that many serials to begin with, not many of them could be published in the merger. The ratio of Tammy serials was definitely higher than Misty’s in the merger. Misty made her presence felt more in the Strange Stories – now called Strange Stories from the Mists, and she alternated with the Storyteller as the presenter. 

Meanwhile, Tammy has a higher number of serials running, as she is not running her regulars so much. This was another key change when Misty joined. The ever-popular Bella has to continue of course, and Sue is still a weekly regular, but Bessie is now appearing off and on, and Molly is on hiatus. 

In the serials, “The Sea Witches” are striking back at an American air base, which is disturbing nesting grounds, and how far they will go is increasingly worrying. “Peggy in the Middle” is a bold move in exploring how messy divorce and custody battles can be. “Lucky By Name” reaches its climax, with Lucky running off with her beloved pony in the mistaken belief her father will sell him. “Donna Ducks Out” is now on its penultimate episode. A bathroom duck gives Donna the power to swim, but now it has been damaged. The final episode will clearly tell if Donna can now sink or swim without the duck. A new story, “Tina’s Telly Mum”, starts. Tina Mason persuades her recently widowed mother to take a glamorous TV announcer job to distract herself from grief. Unfortunately, there are ominous signs Tina is going to regret this. She has already been left behind as her mother leaves for her new job, and a most unsuitable woman has been put in charge of her – the sort that has us instantly thinking, “What the hell was Mum thinking when she hired her?”

Bella is making a bid for the Moscow Olympics, but got herself stranded in the US after winning a qualifying event and then lost her sponsorship. Now it’s becoming even more difficult to keep up her gymnastics, much less get to Moscow. Bella missed out on competing in the Olympics once before, and now history is threatening to repeat itself. Bella is also making her influence keenly felt in Tammy’s latest competition, “Meet the Tammy Gymnast of the Month”.

Tammy 9 June 1979

Cover artist: John Armstrong

Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)

The Happiest Days (artist Mario Capaldi) – first episode

100 Tammy Leotards To Be Won! – Contest 

Get Your Skates On, Katie (artist Diane Gabbot(t))

Karina and Khan (artist Jordi Franch)

Bessie Bunter (artist Arthur Martin)

Molly Mills and the Grim Governess (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

Wee Sue (artist Mike White)

The Peasant’s Prophesy (sic) (artist Carlos Freixas) – Strange Story

The Wolf at Our Door (artist Bob Harvey)

In our previous entry we discussed how Bella had become so powerful in Tammy that she sometimes ran Bella-inspired competitions. Here is another case, which appeared in 1979. Tammy is running a Bella-inspired contest with 100 Tammy leotards up for grabs. It’s a “spot the difference” contest, using a panel taken from the first episode of Bella’s current story. Also, Tammy announces that over the next four issues she will be running a pull-out Bella poster in four parts.  

And the Bella story itself? It’s one of Bella’s grimmest. It’s another unjust public disgrace story. After a complicated misunderstanding she can’t prove, Bella is wrongly convicted and sent to a remand home. Now she’s discovered the sensationalist treatment she’s getting from the press over it, and it’s really getting to her. 

Bessie Bunter dream sequences sometimes seem to be as thought-provoking as they are funny. This week, pollution is the theme. The episode has been posted up for you to judge how prescient it was in today’s climate (or might be in the future). 

After the status quo at Stanton Hall was restored to the Molly strip in 1978, there was a definite change. The excesses with Pickering were toned down, and the beatings and torture devices (particularly the lake, the stocks and the dungeon) were dropped, but he still remained the bully butler. In Molly’s latest story, Mistress Clare’s new governess is Pickering in female form. In fact, the servants suspect she’s Pickering’s secret wife! Heh, heh, unlikely, but they ought to get married – they’re a perfect match!

The new story, “The Happiest Days”, is an evil influence story with a difference. It could have been done the usual creepy way, but instead it’s done the funny way. Great Aunt Aggie’s frightful portrait casts such a pall over the school she founded that everyone is in a constant state of depression and weeping (yet they still make us laugh). Her descendant, Sunny Smyles, is the only one immune. Once Sunny realises what’s going on, it’s war between her and her grim ancestor, with sobriety versus cheerfulness.

Bob Harvey artwork began to appear in Tammy in 1978 with the Strange Stories, but now Harvey is drawing a serial, “The Wolf at Our Door”, a story that strongly hints the wolf is not as extinct in Britain as people think. A pack appears to have survived in a pocket environment, and it is threatening a budding kennel business. Bob Harvey artwork would become regular in Tammy when “Pam of Pond Hill” came over from Jinty near the end of 1981.

“Karina and Khan” brings some Jordi Franch artwork to Tammy. It’s essentially a horse story, with Karina fighting all odds to stay with her beloved horse, Khan, but the storyline also brings a dash of politics and the Iron Curtain with it. 

A magic pair of skates gives Katie the power to ice skate, as previous owner Katrina Freeman’s talent is channelling through her. Now, when the protagonist gains talent this way (which could be considered a form of cheating), the ending will have to show if she has gained enough from the power to do fine on her own, the power has brought out the talent she had all along and just needed confidence, or she has to quit because her talent is not genuine. A power that gives the protagonist the talent she wants is never allowed to last on a permanent basis.

Wee Sue is one strip that gets the most rotation of artwork in Tammy, and we don’t mind as she is one strip that can work well with a variety of artists who can do humour. Her current artist is Mike White. 

Carlos Freixas never drew a serial for Tammy, but his artwork appeared in the Strange Stories and, later on, in complete stories. This week he draws a Strange Story set in the French Revolution. The Duvalles rule their estate in a humane manner (unlike most French aristocrats), but this does not make them exempt from the threat of Madame La Guillotine. However, it makes people willing to help them escape, and one gives a prophecy. When the Duvalles flee, it looks like the prophecy can never be fulfilled – except for the strange thing that happened just before they did so.

Tammy 10 June 1978

Cover artist: John Richardson

Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)

Prince of the Wild (artist Veronica Weir) – first episode

Betta to Lose (artist Tony Coleman)

A Champion Time for All! – Results of Bella Gymnastics Competition

Down to Earth Blairs (artist José Casanovas)

Bessie Bunter

Molly Mills (artist Douglas Perry)

The Witch Wind (artist Hugo D’Adderio) – Strange Story

Wee Sue (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)

Circus of the Damned (artist Diane Gabbot(t))

Fun at Your Summer Fete (artist Joe Collins, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – feature 

For the 1978 Tammy issue in our Tammy June month round, here is a June Tammy issue with a cover that is sure to make you smile. 

Tammy posts the results of a Bella-inspired competition. Bella featured in several Tammy competitions, a four-part pull-out poster and even her own book, which showed how powerful she had become. This competition shows she was being used to help aspiring gymnasts as well. 

The new story, “Prince of the Wild”, is Veronica Weir’s first and only serial for Tammy. Her artwork was seen more often in Tammy’s Strange Stories and complete stories. 

“Betta to Lose” has brought Tony Coleman artwork to Tammy, and Coleman was a regular artist on the Tammy team right up until her final year in 1984. 

Douglas Perry has taken over the Molly Mills artwork since Molly’s return in December 1977. Sometimes I wonder if one reason why Molly was put on hiatus in 1977 and her fate put into the hands of readers was her original artist, Tony Thewenetti, no longer continuing with her for some reason. The change in artist does suggest something like this might have happened. 

The structure of the Molly Mills writing has changed completely. The story that sent her on hiatus was a tantalising cliff-hanger where Pickering frames her for theft, forcing her to go on the run from the law. Since her return, it’s been nothing but life as an unjustly wanted fugitive, and her stories are in continuous serial format. Molly’s now back at Stanton Hall, which is now under a new owner who seems to be something of a fugitive herself. An American gangster is on her tail, and now he’s caught up and holding Molly and the other servants hostage! We suspect this is all part of the build-up to the resolution of Molly’s frameup.

Bella’s latest story has taken her to Australia, as a coach to introduce gymnastics to an Australian town. Even before Bella started, things were not off to a good start (the man who hired her regrets his offer, which he made without thinking), and her arrival got delayed as well. Now she’s finally made it, she’s told the job is no longer available. And Bella has a long track record of getting stranded in foreign countries. Is it going to happen again? 

Wee Sue’s latest artist is Hugh Thornton-Jones, and a continuity problem has struck. In earlier years Miss Bigger’s first name was given as Lillian, but this episode says it is Amelia, and it sticks.

Hugh D’Adderio artwork featured strongly in the Tammy Strange Stories, particularly with period settings ranging from ancient Babylon to Victorian England, as well as modern times. This week it is Elizabethan England, with a Strange Story on how witchcraft (indirectly but foretold) defeated the Spanish Armada.

Down to Earth Blairs was obviously inspired by “The Good Life”, and proved so popular that its sequel is now running. No doubt the ever-popular José Casanovas artwork sealed its success. In the original, Betsy Blair had a hard time adapting to self-sufficiency after her father’s redundancy drove the family to it. Now she accepts and enjoys it, and her sequel now follows “The Good Life” format of handling snobby neighbours and coming up with new forms of self-sufficiency and money-making, some of which don’t always go as expected.

“Circus of the Damned” is a welcome return to Tammy’s old days of dark stories laden with misery and cruelty, which now seem to have faded. A whole circus is enslaved by a fanatical circus boss who uses blackmail, animal abuse, kidnapping, and possibly murder to create the greatest show on earth. One of his tactics is forcing trapeze artists to leap over deadly snakes without a safety net.

Tammy 11 June 1977 – Jubilee Issue

Cover artist: Audrey Fowley

Bella (artist John Armstrong)

Babe at St. Woods (José Casanovas)

What’s Wrong with Rhona? (artist Eduardo Feito)

25 Years Ago This Week – Jubilee feature

Wee Sue (artist Richard Neillands)

Bessie Bunter (artist Arthur Martin)

Molly Mills and the Comic Capers (artist John Johnston, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – final episode

The Caliph’s Jewels (artist Hugo D’Adderio) – Strange Story

Witch Hazel (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)

Time Trap! (artist Tony Higham) – first episode

For the 1977 issue in our Tammy June round, it just has to be the Jubilee issue, seeing as the Queen’s Jubilee is topical this year. For the commemorations, Tammy takes a flashback look at the Coronation, and Wee Sue and Bessie both plan Jubilee pageants but run into obstacles that threaten to derail everything. It takes a bit of quick-thinking, determination and strokes of luck before things work out happily. The Bessie Bunter episode looks like it was a reprint, with a bit of new text bodged in to give it the Jubilee context.

The Crown Jewels cover also adds the theme of jewels to the issue, which carries on in the Strange Story, “The Caliph’s Jewels”, in which the Storyteller retells the Dutch folktale of The Lady of Stavoren, a cautionary tale about treating food with respect. So it’s not about jewels, then? The arrogant Lady of Stavoren discovers too late that food becomes as precious as jewels when you face starvation. There are over 27 versions of the tale. The Tammy version appears below. It is illustrated by Hugo D’Adderio, whose artwork is always popular.

The new story this week, “Time Trap!”, is a gem too. Tammy takes on the subject of reincarnation and hypnotic regression, which is a novel thing for her to do. Another gem, now on its penultimate episode, is “Witch Hazel”, which looks like it was inspired by Catweazle. A 16th century apprentice witch comes to the 20th century to learn witchcraft, but she doesn’t understand that witchcraft is not exactly on the curriculum of 20th century schools, nor can she grasp how the 20th century works. Another jewel in Tammy’s crown is the hugely popular “Babe of St. Woods”, starring a gangster’s daughter who uses all her gangster know-how to get herself and her friends out of all sorts of scrapes at boarding school. And “What’s Wrong with Rhona?” is a sparkler. Rhona has been acting very strangely ever since she picked up a strange doll. Things hit their nadir this week when her odd behaviour makes her steal a calculator, and now the police are on her doorstep! Help, is she on her way to juvenile court? 

The Bella story takes a surprise turn this week. Bella is giving us her origin, as told to her American Indian friend Oona Tall Tree. She tells Oona (and us) how she started on gymnastics before her orphaning (which doesn’t quite fit her first story on how she discovered gymnastics while window-cleaning for Jed and Gert) and how she lost her parents. It’s a surprise to see the flashback shows Bella did not have her trademark pigtails or overalls back then.

The latest Molly story, the “Comic Capers”, is Molly’s funniest story ever. It takes the unusual twist of parodying itself through a satire of Stanton Hall and its staff, which Pickering submits to a magazine, and it is drawn by a comical artist (John Johnston), who has been doing a number of Wee Sues of late. Sadly, it ends this week, and Molly will be back to business as usual with her usual artist next week. 

There has also been a notable change in the artwork of Wee Sue. It used to be an artist doing a long stint (Mario Capaldi, John Richardson), but now there is a trend towards more variety of art work in her strip; artwork from John Johnston and Richard Neillands is now appearing. This trend in a variety of Wee Sue artwork would continue, with Hugh Thornton-Jones, Mike White, Jim Eldridge and Robert MacGillivray added to the mix. 

Tammy 12 June 1976

Cover artist: John Richardson

Bella at the Bar (artist John Armstrong)

Secret of the Skulls (artist Mario Capaldi)

The First Mystery (artist John Armstrong) – origin of the Storyteller

Odds on Patsy (artist Eduardo Feito)

Bessie Bunter

Molly Mills and the Lucky Visitor – complete Molly story (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)

The Sungod’s Golden Curse (artist Douglas Perry)

Lord of the Dance (artist Miguel Quesada)

We now come to Tammy’s June month in 1976. The Olympics were a strong feature in Tammy that year because of Montreal. That year, Tammy ran her Olympics classic, “Olympia Jones”.

Meanwhile, the Olympics logo has been added to the Bella logo. Bella, of course, is trying to reach Montreal. Jed and Gert have just returned to Bella after a much-deserved stint in prison (though not for the cruel way they’ve always treated her). They’ve now been released for good behaviour and say they’ve reformed and will help Bella all the way to Montreal. So far they’re treating Bella well, but they have a track record of phoney niceness to Bella when they believe it’s to their advantage (like getting out of prison, maybe?).

Molly has now switched from the title “No Tears for Molly” to individually titled storylines, most often “Molly Mills and the [name of the story].” Molly takes the unusual step of having a complete story this week. 

By popular demand, this week the Storyteller tells his origin story and how he became to be the Storyteller. The story appears below, and we also see the one and only appearance of his daughter. It seems a shame Tammy did not also take advantage of this popular demand to reprint the Storyteller’s very first story, “The Haunted Bank”, way back in his debut in June (the comic, not the month) on 30 January 1965, to show us how he started. Enough time had passed to allow for the reprint. 

In 1976, there was a definite ebb in the slave story/Cinderella story theme that had featured so much in the earlier Tammy. Other genres were gaining more currency. Animal stories were strong in the 1976 Tammy, such as “A Lead through Twilight”, “Towne in the Country”, the current “Odds on Patsy”, and the smash-hit Olympics-themed serial, “Olympia Jones”. The scary and the supernatural were strong that year too, and this issue has two alone: “The Sungod’s Golden Curse” (but is the curse real or a fraud?) and the macabre “Secret of the Skulls”.

The ballet story “Lord of the Dance” is the last Tammy serial drawn by Miguel Quesada, a Tammy stalwart since her early days. 

Tammy & June 21 June 1975

Cover artist: John Armstrong

Bella at the Bar (artist John Armstrong, writer Jenny McDade)

Waifs of the Wigmaker (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Bill Harrington) – first episode

Red Letter Rosie

Ella’s Ballet Boat (artist Jim Eldridge) – first episode

Aunt Aggie (artist J. Badesa, creator Pat Mills) – return

Bessie Bunter

Lure of the Lamp (artist Christine Ellingham) – Strange Story

You Need Hands – Competition

Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)

No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

It’s been a year since June merged with Tammy. How has the merger impacted on Tammy in that time? The June logo is still on the cover, but instead of the Cover Girls we have Bella on the cover this week. Bella, who first appeared with the merger, has clearly become so powerful that she sometimes pushes the Cover Girls off the cover. The John Armstrong artwork on the cover must have been a big attraction as well. 

The second Bella story (by popular demand) is going far longer than the first, not only because of the popularity but also because of the story arc (Bella clearing her name after being publicly disgraced by a jealous rival) requires a whole lot more development and episodes to resolve. It is also much darker than her first story (which was pretty dark as it was), as poor Bella has to battle her way through her wrongful disgrace as well as obstacles set forth by her cruel guardians, nasty tricksters and other enemies in order to keep up her gymnastics. Despite them all, she has done well enough to represent Britain in a championship, but the stigma just keeps catching up again and again.

Also returning from Tammy’s earlier years, by popular demand, is Aunt Aggie. Like “The Honourable S.J.” from Judy, she’s a nasty piece of work and a very crafty schemer who can put on a phoney face of kindness that fools everyone (in Aunt Aggie’s case, as a warm-hearted TV celebrity). Only the long-suffering protagonist who has to cope with her knows the truth. But unlike the Honourable S.J., Aunt Aggie is a full adult, and she is also played for humour, with a hilarious weekly comeuppance as our protagonist foils her nasty schemes. It’s a very deft combination of nastiness and comedy.

Uncle Meanie, who carried over from the Sandie merger, is now gone. Wee Sue, the other addition from Sandie, is now being drawn by John Richardson. The June additions, the Storyteller and Bessie Bunter, have established their staying power. Molly is still going as well, along with the misery-laden Cinderella and slave stories that made Tammy a hit when she was first published. 

The current Cinderella story, “Red Letter Rosie”, is now on its penultimate episode. A new slave story, “Waifs of the Wigmaker”, starts this week. It’s slavery in a Victorian wig factory, and the cruelty is a whole lot more than just exploited workers. The girls are deliberately degraded with measures such as being chained up as they work and newcomers having their hair cropped on arrival and forced to make their first wig with it. The villain of it all, Ma Parting, is an noteworthy one for being totally blind. But her blindness makes her an even more dangerous villain and hard to escape from, because her other senses are so acute they’re virtually superhuman. 

Tammy was never without a ballet story for long. The new one, “Ella’s Ballet Boat”, makes a nice change in having a ballet troupe instead Tammy’s more usual ballet formula in having an individual ballerina as the protagonist. It also gives us more variety of characters and character development.