This entry presents the very first episode of The Four Marys. The original appeared in Bunty #1 on 18 January 1958, and this is the reprint from Golden Age Classic Stories Bunty for Girls 2009. Artwork is by Bill Holroyd, who drew the first 15 episodes of The Four Marys.
The first episode establishes the elements that will continue all the way to the last episode in Bunty #2249, 17 February 2001: the four girls who have to go by their last names because they all share the same Christian name; they share the same study and a long-standing friendship through thick and thin; the snobs (not yet named) who will always look down on Mary Simpson because she is ‘common’; and the characterisation that helped to make The Four Marys so popular. In the early stories The Four Marys also had more individual looks than they did by the 1990s, especially Mary Cotter.
There is a distinctive Enid Blyton feel about the first episode to modern eyes, both in terms of its tone and its artwork. But The Four Marys were willing to adapt to changes in trends, tastes, and in the education system itself. For example, the formidable Dr Gull in the first episode was eventually replaced by the modern-thinking Miss Mitchell in the 1980s. There was even one story where Dr Gull returned to the modern St Elmo’s, but was too old-fashioned and strict to accept how things had changed. She tried to force the school into her mould, and of course there was bad reaction to it.
An in-depth discussion of The Four Marys, which includes pictorial comparisons of how they and their supporting cast changed over the years, can be found here at Girls Comics of Yesterday.