Tag Archives: Brenda’s Brownies

Sandie: 12 February 1972 – 20 October 1973

Following the interview of John Wagner which ran on this blog a few days ago, I thought I would dig out my few issues of Sandie (only four, acquired somewhat at random). Because I have so few issues, and none of them are significant ones such as the first or last ones published, it didn’t seem worth reviewing them individually. Here therefore is something of an overview of this short-lived title – limited in scope by having so few originals to draw on directly, but I have tried to also bring together other relevant comments on this site and elsewhere, to give a wider context.

Let’s start with the contents of the four issues I do have:Cover Sandie 17 March 1973

Sandie 17 March 1973: Angela Angel-Face (artist Rodrigo Comos), Connie Courageous (unknown artist ‘Merry’), The Captives of Terror Island (artist Juan Escandell Torres, writer Terence Magee), Supergirl Sally (artist A. E. Allen), Isla and the Ice Maiden, Anna and the Circus, Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown), Dawn at Dead-End Street (artist Bill Baker), Pop portrait: Paul Newman, Lindy and the last Lilliputians, The Nine Lives of Nat the Cat (artist José Casanovas), Quiz Kid Queenie (artist Luis Bermejo)

 

Sandie cover 28 July 1973

Sandie 28 July 1973: Slaves of the Eye (artist Joan Boix), Cinderella Superstar (artist ?Joan Boix), Wyn and the Witch (artist A. E. Allen), Connie Courageous (unknown artist ‘Merry’) – last episode, Sink or Swim, Sara! (artist Eduardo Feito), The Captives of Terror Island (artist Juan Escandell Torres, writer Terence Magee) – last episode, Dancing to Danger (artist Tom Kerr), Bridie at the Fair (artist Leslie Otway), All Against Alice, Sisters in Sorrow (artist Roy Newby)

Sandie cover 11 August 1973

Sandie 11 August 1973: The House of Toys (artist Douglas Perry), Noelle’s Ark (unknown artist ‘Merry’) – first episode, Wyn and the Witch (artist A. E. Allen), The Golden Shark (artist Santiago Hernandez), Cherry in Chains (artist Joan Boix), Slaves of the Eye (artist Joan Boix), Dancing to Danger, Bridie at the Fair (artist Leslie Otway), All Against Alice , Cinderella Superstar (artist ?Joan Boix)

 

Sandie cover 29 September 1973Sandie 29 September 1973: Angela Angel-Face (artist Rodrigo Comos), The House of Toys (artist Douglas Perry), Jeannie and her Uncle Meanie (artist Robert MacGillivray, writer John Wagner), Noelle’s Ark (unknown artist ‘Merry’), Cherry in Chains (artist Joan Boix), The Golden Shark (artist Santiago Hernandez), Dancing to Danger – last episode, Bridie at the Fair (artist Leslie Otway), Sister to a Star, Cinderella Superstar (artist ?Joan Boix)

 

 

There’s lots of good stuff in these issues, though I did find the covers rather old-fashioned, with mostly very blocky designs. Some of the inside content is rather old-fashioned too, and/or show possible signs of being reprinted from elsewhere. “The Golden Shark” is hand-lettered, and “Dancing to Danger” and “Bridie At The Fair” are lettered using a different font or technique to the other strips. The latter two are also only two pages long per episode, and have a painted aspect to the title element – I take these to have been reprinted from much earlier titles where there may have been an option to use more sophisticated colour printing.

Some of my interest in this title is in how it might have influenced, or been influenced by, work that is more directly related to Jinty. For instance, “Isla and the Ice Maiden” has an orphaned girl learning how to ice skate as she is taught by a mysterious woman: both the basic plot set-up and the visual design of the mystery woman is quite reminiscent of the Jinty story “Spirit of the Lake”. Likewise, “Lindy and the Last Lilliputians” has some wee travellers from Lilliput travel to stay with Lindy, a descendant of Lemuel Gulliver – who they claim must look after them. It sounds like the story has quite a lot of differences from Jinty‘s “A Girl Called Gulliver”, but there are certainly some big overlaps too.

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In terms of the artists included, there is a fair amount of overlap with the slightly later titles I am more familiar with – with representation from José Casanovas, Rodrigo Comos, Douglas Perry, Santiago Hernandez, and the unknown artist who drew “Merry at Misery House” and so many other stories. Obviously there are many artists unknown to me, also: the very striking Joan Boix, who drew “The Slaves of the Eye”, is very well represented inside these pages. There are a couple of stories where it’s hard to decide if the art is by Joan Boix’s, or by Cándido Ruiz Pueyo’s. These are “Cinderella Superstar” and “All Against Alice”. I would be inclined to think these both contained Boix’s art if not for the fact that this would imply that there might be as many as four stories by the same artist in one issue! I suppose this is not impossible but still. On balance, I think that “Cinderella Superstar” is likely to be Boix’s work (though it is not signed in any of the issues I have, unlike “Cherry in Chains” and “Slaves of the Eye”). “All Against Alice” is not close enough for me to assign to Boix – it looks more like Pueyo’s work, though again not really definitively enough for me to say so for sure.

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On the post with the interview with John Wagner, I asked for people’s impressions of the title compared to others from that era. Mistyfan commented to say that “Sandie had more regulars than Tammy, particularly “Wee Sue”. She also had a lot of circus themed stories such as “Sister to a Star”, “Cherry in Chains” and “Slave of the Trapeze”. Far more than either Tammy or Jinty. She followed the in vein of Tammy in having Cinderella and slave stories.” I haven’t got enough issues to have much representation of regular strips – there’s the start of “Jeannie and her Uncle Meanie”; “Nat the Cat” was so long-running as to perhaps count; and I do have two separate Angela Angel-Face stories in this short sample.

The circus theme is absolutely inescapable even in just these few issues, though! “Anna and the Circus” is in the March issue above, and the August and September issues include “Cherry in Chains” and “Sister to a Star”. There are very few circus-themed stories in Jinty, and not many in Tammy either, so this feels like a real unique selling point for this title. Of course there are also plenty of cinderella stories, ballet stories, and the like – a lot of what’s in the pages wouldn’t look out of place in Jinty or Tammy (and indeed some was reprinted in annuals and summer specials).

Mistyfan also previously posted on this site about the launch of Sandie and about issue 7 of the title – representing the earlier issues of the title. But after the title came to an end it still continued to make something of an impact as stories had a life after death. Quite a few of the stories were translated into the Dutch market: for instance “Sandra Must Dance”,  “The Return of Rena”, “Lorna’s Lonely Days”, “Anna’s Forbidden Friend”, and “Peggy in the Middle”. Of course “Wee Sue” and “Jeannie and her Uncle Meanie” had an ongoing life in the pages of other comics titles thereafter, as did others (more briefly). “Angela Angel-Face” was reprinted in Jinty but generally reckoned to be a very weak offering in that title, and “School of No Escape” was reprinted in the Misty 1980 annual.

So Sandie feels a little old-fashioned to me, and a little quirky with its love of circus stories (quite why so many of them were used, I’m not sure – they make for a good story backdrop but aren’t quite as flexible a story theme as the sports or SF themes that Jinty readers liked, or of course the spooky tales of Misty). It has quite a bit of overlap of stories or of artists with the titles I am more familiar with, and some cracking content – I’d like to read more of the exciting “Noelle’s Ark” which I give below (and which again has some overlap with a classic Jinty story – “Fran of the Floods”). At this point it feels to me a bit like a fore-runner of the more fully-developed, stronger Jinty/Tammy/Misty stable – but at the same time, I know readers who have only found this title recently and have become real converts. I will seek out more…

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Sandie 25 March 1972

Sandie 25 March 1972.png

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A.E. Allen)
  • Brenda’s Brownies – cartoon strip (artist unknown)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (unknown artist – Merry)
  • Our Big Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy (artist unknown)
  • Wee Sue (artist unknown)
  • Wendy the Witch – cartoon strip (artist unknown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Richard Neillands)
  • Silver is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)

Sandie ran from 12th February 1972 to 10th October 1973 and was edited by John Wagner. She then merged with Tammy, bringing “Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie” and, more importantly, “Wee Sue”, who would last in Tammy until 1982.

I do not have the first issue of Sandie, so the seventh is presented to represent some Sandie context in Jinty’s family tree. The content of Sandie feels closer to that of the early Jinty than the early Tammy, which was more into dark tales of cruelty, abuse, exploitation and slavery. Sandie did have her share of such tales, but there was more of a blend with other types of serials. She did not have the heavy emphasis on science fiction and fantasy that Sally had either.

Tammy readers would be surprised to see how Wee Sue looked when she first began in Sandie, for her strip bears little resemblance to its premise in Tammy. Here it was not played for light relief and did not use a “story of the week” format where Sue’s famous big brains would come up with ways to get out of various scrapes, being the bane of the bullying Miss Bigger, or sort out someone’s problem. She does not attend Milltown Comprehensive and there is no Miss Bigger at all. Instead, her strip looks more like a serial, and she is a scholarship girl at exclusive Backhurst Academy, which has emphasis on sport. But it is facing closure, so Sue is trying to come up with a way to save it.

“No-one Cheers for Norah” has such a similar premise to Jinty’s “Toni on Trial” that there has been speculation that it was the same writer. Similar to Toni, Norah Day’s father was accused of theft at a sports event years ago; the scandal just refuses to go away and the stigma is now threatening Norah’s own career in the same sport. And both girls have to contend with a scheming, jealous rival as well. But Norah’s story has a tighter plotting than Toni’s; it is resolved in 12 episodes as compared to Toni’s 21, and the resolution is far more action-packed. It may also be the same writer as Jinty’s “Tricia’s Tragedy” as both serials climax with a do-or-die swimming race against a spiteful cousin, who gets roundly booed off for her conduct afterwards.

In “Odd Mann Out”, Susie Mann leads the resistance against the tyrannical administration at her school. The tyranny is not as over the top as in some stories with a dictatorial school (say “The Four Friends at Spartan School” from Tammy), which is quite refreshing. “The School of No Escape” has a school falling under a more mysterious form of oppressive administration – pupils mysteriously disappearing and then turning up in hooded robes and looking like they’ve been brainwashed or hypnotised.

“Anna’s Forbidden Friend” is a poor girl befriends rich girl story. But the threat is not so much from the rich father but his manager, who is conducting unscrupulous evictions. In “Our Big Secret”, the threat to a friendship comes from a Mum who won’t allow dogs, so Poppy Mason has to keep her new dog Pedro secret. This leads to hijinks, such as Pedro unwittingly starting a ghost hunt in this issue.

Aristocracy also features in a few strips. In “Not So Lady-like Lucy” it’s hijinks My Fair Lady style. In “Little Lady Nobody” it’s an evil squire out to cheat his niece out of her inheritance and even – shades of “Slaves of ‘War Orphan Farm’” – make her work in a quarry! It’s even the same artist. Is that coincidence or what? And in “Bonnie’s Butler”, life gets more interesting for Bonnie Belthorp when she inherits a butler called Greston.

There just has to be a ballet story, and in this case it is “Sandra Must Dance”. Sandra can only dance through a psychic bond with her twin sister. Not the best way to be assured of a secure career, as the twins begin to discover in this episode. And now a jealous rival has worked out the secret too.

Eduardo Feito was a popular choice for drawing horse stories, especially ones that feature show jumping. “Silver is a Star” here is no exception.

And of course there are regular cartoon strips. In the case of Sandie it’s “Brenda’s Brownies” and “Wendy the Witch”.

Jinty Annual 1981

Jinty annual 1981

  • Mirror of Tears (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • A Sticky Tale (poem)
  • Parts of Destiny and Romance (feature)
  • To Tell You the Truth (text story)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Make Friends with Your Mirror (feature)
  • The Seven Whistlers – Gypsy Rose story (artist Shirley Bellwood)
  • Just Joking
  • Give Gypsy Lara a Mouth! (feature)
  • The Best Bouquet (writer Linda O’Byrne)
  • Strange but True! (feature)
  • All My Own Work! (feature)
  • Jinty’s Big Puzzle Spread
  • Lilliput Christmas (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Witchwynd (text story)
  • The Laughing Elf – Gypsy Rose story (artist Shirley Bellwood)
  • How S-s-superstitious are You? (quiz)
  • Our Newest Nature Reserves! (feature)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Alley Cat
  • Dairy Delights! (feature)
  • Hobbies Calendar 1981 (feature)
  • Keep it Handy! (feature)
  • She Couldn’t Remember! (artist John Armstrong)
  • Tracy on Trial – text story (artist Shirley Bellwood)
  • Boo to the Goose! (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Mother’s Little Helpers (feature)
  • The Lost Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Have You Got a Magnetic Personality? (quiz)
  • Spot the Difference! (puzzle)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (cartoon)
  • Resolutions Can Be Blooming Fun! (feature)

Pam of Pond Hill headed the advertising for this annual in the regular comic. Perhaps it was the “dumbo” editor’s way of making it up to her for omitting her from the annual and saying it was too late. In fact the only Jinty annual to have a Pond Hill story would be the 1982 annual. The 1983 annual had a Pond Hill feature, which was on its annual bazaar and instructions for the items and games the bazaar had on offer. The 1984 annual had no Pond Hill content at all, and the next two had no Jinty content altogether. The 1981 Jinty annual was the last to reprint a June serial, which was “She Couldn’t Remember!” A girl wakes up in hospital and finds she has completely lost her memory. Everyone calls her Sally and the nice woman who visits her in hospital claims to be her mother. But it doesn’t feel right and it soon becomes apparent that it’s not adding up either. It’s not your typical story about people taking advantage of an amnesic girl. As the story develops, it becomes apparent that someone does not want “Sally” to regain her memory and they are resorting to drugs to do it! And by the looks of the two horrible-looking men she begins to remember, it could be very dangerous if she does remember who she really is. And how is the so-called mother mixed up in it? Strangely, the next annual reprinted a Tammy serial, “Rona Rides Again”.

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Pam may have missed out on this annual, but the Jinty characters to make it were “A Girl Called Gulliver” in a Christmas story, “Lilliput Christmas”, “Bizzie Bet and the Easies”, drawn by Hugh Thornton-Jones (and for once, the Easies don’t get the last laugh on Bet), and Gypsy Rose, albeit with reprinted Strange Stories. The Lilliput story is unusual as the original story was a serial, not a regular feature. It was extremely rare for Jinty to publish sequels to serials in her annuals. It shows how popular “A Girl Called Gulliver” must have been. “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” is another curious omission from the annual. Come to that, it never appeared in any Jinty annual. What could the reason have been?

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Alley Cat and Rinty ‘n’ Jinty are also present. Oddly, Jinty reprinted some Brenda’s Brownies, who never appeared in the regular Jinty. Couldn’t Jinty have made more of an effort there in printing her own material such as another Alley Cat story instead of resorting to a somewhat lazy filler? There is no “Fran’ll Fix It!”, but we do get a Jim Baikie story that looks like it was actually drawn for this annual instead of a reprint of early Baikie from June or whatever. We have to wonder if there are shades of Baikie’s “The Forbidden Garden” as this one is called “The Lost Garden”. Janey is orphaned and only her relatives, though they don’t actually ill-treat her, don’t love her at all. They didn’t even want her in the first place and only took her in because there was nobody else. A rose bush from her old home is her only solace, and her quest to find a garden for it leads to new happiness and guardians who are suitable. “Mirror of Tears” is an unconventional take on the Christmas fare that is routine in a girls’ annual. It is a story of a Christmas haunting that threatens to ruin the Dales’ first Christmas in their new home because Christmas is the anniversary of when it all started. A Victorian girl was looking forward to a present from her father, but all she got for Christmas was tragedy when he died in an accident. Powerful stuff, guaranteed to make readers cry. So will the solution – Vanessa Dale giving the ghost the present she received from her parents. And it was a sacrifice that showed all the spirit of Christmas as the parents can’t afford much at the moment. This has to be one of Jinty’s best complete stories ever and it well deserves to appear first in the annual.

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“Boo to the Goose!” is an amusing twist on the saying about shy people not able to say boo to a goose. Gillian’s mother is fed up with her being such a pushover and tells her once and for all that she must learn to say boo to a goose. But she does not count on a real goose teaching Gillian that lesson or walking in with it for a pet!

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This is a pretty solid Jinty annual. Although it has some reprints of older material, the Jinty stories are strong, with perhaps “Mirror of Tears” taking top honours, and it is terrific to see them drawn by Jinty’s regular artists. Its only real demerit point is the absence of Pam – what did the editor mean when he said it was too late to include her when she had been running in Jinty for about two years? The annual would have been even better with Pam in it.

Jinty Summer Special 1978

Jinty Summer Special 1978

(The cover looks to me to be by the same (unknown) artist who drew “Concrete Surfer”, “Race To A Fortune”, and “Dance Into Darkness”. Colour doesn’t half make a difference sometimes; the feel of this cover is noticeably different from those other stories, to my mind.)

Stories in this issue:

  • I’ll Never Swim Again! (artist Jim Baikie)
  • When Emma Came To Stay (text story)
  • Look Out – It’s Brenda’s Brownies
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag (artist Hugh Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Alley Cat
  • Merlin’s Friend (text story by Linda O’Byrne)
  • Concrete Surfer
  • Olé, Our Gran! (text story)
  • Gypsy Rose ‘The Stone of Courage’
  • Shyness Isn’t Forever (text story with illustration by Terry Aspin)
  • Gypsy Rose ‘The Mirror That Knew The Truth’

The first story, drawn by Jim Baikie, is a ‘grief/redemption’ story: Karen Fields is a swimming champion, who is cross with her father for not making time to come and see her winning her races. In the ensuing argument, there is a car crash in which her father is killed; of course Karen blames herself. ‘I cared more for swimming than I did for him. But I’ll make it up to him… I’ll never swim again!’ She moves to a remote part of Scotland to live with relatives and is cold to them, until it turns out that in order to keep the ferry running that is her uncle’s livelihood, someone needs to swim the two and a half miles from the mainland to the island they live on. Her cousin Pat proposes to do it, and starts off; but Karen knows she is the stronger swimmer of the two and needs to take over when Pat gets into difficulties. Making the effort for her new family snaps Karen out of her frozen state of grief. ‘I feel free for the first time since Dad died. This time, my swimming has saved a life. I needn’t give it up any more…’

The “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” strip is fun as usual: Sue and her magic handbag Henrietta are on holiday too, like many of the readers. Cousin Brenda threatens Sue’s plans of a relaxing time watching Robert Redford at the cinema, but you know she will get her come-uppance via a well-placed spell or two! This sort of story, slight though it is, is a good introduction to the sort of content usually seen in the weekly comic. The same applies to the one-pager “Alley Cat”, here in full colour and set in the sort of fun-fair scenario that readers might also be enjoying on holiday.

The standout piece for me is the seven-page “Concrete Surfer” story (see below). It seems doubtful that it was written by Pat Mills as he has not specifically remembered it, though it tries to get in very similar digs on the class system. For me, it is the skateboarding tricks that makes it shine as a very welcome addition to the main Concrete Surfer narrative.

I am not a great fan of text stories generally, but was interested to see one pony story, “Merlin’s Friend”, credited to a named author. The story (old race horse uninterested in racing, about to be sold to the knacker’s, rescued through not entirely implausible plot element) worked well. I fancy I’ve read the same plot element in a Dick Francis novel, but then if horses really behave like that it is more than likely that multiple people would get the same idea. “Olé, Our Gran!” is also quite readable and peppy, if never my first choice simply due to preferring comics rather than text stories. Finally, the morality story “Shyness Isn’t Forever” works well; though it must be said that I gave it a second look mostly because of the Terry Aspin illustration.

There are always weak spots in a special issue like this, where length is part of the USP and ongoing stories cannot be included as it’s a one-off publication. The text story “When Emma came to stay” is about a cute baby goat, with pretty but rather baby-ish illustrations. Likewise, “Brenda’s Brownies” is a gag strip that has no particular connection with Jinty‘s normal story types. The “Animal Crackers” and “Bunny Funnies” single-panel gags are the sort of quick joke item that was normally seen in the weekly comic (and just as quickly skipped over). Not to be too soft on the comics items, I can also say that the two spooky stories are rather weak: one about a girl who lacks courage (she is given a piece of amber by Gypsy Rose and this encourages her to be braver without any magic needed), and one which looks like a reprint from elsewhere, as the framing sequence with Gypsy Rose looks redrawn (“The Mirror That Knew The Truth”).

There are a number of non-story items in the Summer Special. The first one is a ‘personality quiz’. These are normally not very exciting in themselves, but the illustrations are nicely done. For me as someone not living in the UK at the time of publication, this sort of thing also helped fill me in on some details of life here: the last question involves winning money on the premium bonds, saying that ‘That super bondsman Ernie smiles on you at last’. There are also pages dedicated to pet keeping and to crafty things to make and do (a soft silly-looking Wotsit to sit on or to decorate your room, recipes courtesy of the ‘Dutch Dairy Bureau’ ), a few puzzle items, the odd holiday-themed poem (nicely illustrated with bright colours). There is also a ’30 Things to do’ feature with a mix of all of the above and more (stick in a pin and do the thing indicated on the number corresponding to your choice – from ‘Give a Peculiar Party’ or ‘fill a plastic bag with rubbish on a walk’, to making a new jigsaw on the back of an old one or reading the first page of any book picked at random from a shelf of books – and imagine how you’d finish the story).

But – back to that Concrete Surfer story – here it is!

 Surfer Summer Special pg 1

 Surfer Summer Special pg 2
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 Surfer Summer Special pg 3
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Concrete Surfer Summer Special pg 4
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Concrete Surfer Summer Special pg 5
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Concrete Surfer Summer Special pg 6
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Concrete Surfer Summer Special pg 7
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