Tag Archives: Brenda’s Brownies

Sandie 4 March 1972

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Roy Newby)
  • Wendy the Witch (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Neil Diamond (artist Bob Gifford)

Norah has to fight hard to win the swimming trial that Mrs Maddox has arranged for her to enter. The committee isn’t very impressed with her at first but as Mrs Maddox points out, she hasn’t had any training and still can battle the odds and win. She is allowed in on trial only, but that is more than enough for starters. Cousin Lorna is mad as fire, of course. And at the end of the episode, Mrs Maddox muses that Norah reminds her of someone… who could it be?

Susie Mann proves to the rest of her form that she was ‘voted’ into position of Form Captain purely due to lies and deception on the part of the authorities. Nevertheless, she takes on the task of Captain, purely because she wants to lead her class into outright rebellion! By the end of the episode, her Head Girl sister is fuming.

Anna sneaks out to see her friend Julia, who has had to listen to her father spout a lot of nonsense about how the kids from Madeley Buildings are a lot of hooligans. But it’s not the father that the two girls need to worry about – it’s estate manager Ramage who is putting every barrier in their way. Anna manages to get over the wall to meet up with Julia and give her a birthday present, and  Mr Crossley even lets them have their birthday picnic, but Ramage makes up a story about Anna having stolen some pears and gets her thrown out in disgrace.

Dale gets back late to her dorm room and finds that her friend Emily has disappeared in the way that other people have been doing – she has been replaced by a cold-eyed girl who says she is ‘the new girl’. A likely story! Miss Voor is still setting tests for all the girls and this time they have to solve a difficult riddle. Dale solves it, but only to hide the prize so that no one else can find it, because she is worried about the whole set-up. Soon there is another challenge when Dale and her other friend Daphne sneak into Miss Voor’s office – they find a box with a big initial V on it. Does it hold the answer to the mystery?

The two girls in “Our Big BIG Secret” continue to hide the fact they have become owners of a very large dog, and hillbilly Lucy continues to astound polite society – this time with her pet skunk. But the skunk did save Locksley Hall from burglars at  least!

Wee Sue saves the hockey game, and even fixes the engine on the bus on the way back from the game. Too clever for her own good, as her friend Kay says? Not half!

Elaine is saved from being run down by Miss Pettifor, the headmistress at the school she was at before her father’s ship went down. The worse discovery that Elaine makes, though, is that it is her Uncle Ned who is behind the attempts to kill her! Along with her friend Mary, Elaine tries to enlist the help of her old acquaintance Patricia Millard, but to no avail – and indeed her old friend tells her to her face that Elaine “has been dead these past three weeks!”.

We have two Mike Brown strips in Sandie at this time! “Wendy the Witch” is also on the go. To defeat a bully, she zaps a baby with a spell: “Oh, baby with the lolly – be big, but not jolly!” and Big Bully Bab gets her just desserts at the hands of said enlarged tot!

Sandra and her sister are increasingly on the outs. Joan wants to get her strength back to do her own dancing again, but they both want to keep their grandmother happy and she thinks that it is Joan doing the super dancing. Joan is indeed dancing, or at least trying to recover her strength – but as the nurse warns, if she tries to rush things she may lose all chance of ever being able to dance again.

Trudy finds out that Mr Macready isn’t dead or dying after all, but is worrying so much about her that she was called urgently to his bedside. When she gets back to the scrapyard she finds two of her rivals poking around the rickety ruins – so rickety that it promptly collapses on them. They need to be rescued – partly due to Silver pawing at the rubble and attracting the attention of helpers. Now Trudy needs to find a place to stable Silver overnight, to no avail – and when she returns to the hospital she finds that Mr Macready has disappeared!

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Sandie 26 February 1972

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Roy Newby)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Cat Stevens (artist Bob Gifford)

Norah has a go at swimming in the local lake, which she’s not supposed to do – she attracts attention from various people, but luckily also from Mrs Maddox, who is not angry but rather offers her a visit to her house so that she can clean up and even have a try at her swimming pool instead… The quality of Norah’s swimming interests Mrs Maddox greatly and she asks Norah to the local swimming club for a trial. Cousin Lorna is far from pleased!

Susie Mann is wreaking havoc of all sorts. The other schoolgirls in her class are not totally sure what to make of her. She gets one of her classmates released from the cooler where she was unjustly locked up, but the headmistress conspires to get Susie elected as new Form Captain despite all her protestations. The Head is trying to make sure that power will go to Susie’s head – she doesn’t know who she’s dealing with, I think.

Anna finds the forbidden friend – it is Julia, the daughter of her horrible landlord, Mr Crossley. Mind you, the landlord is not half as mean as the estate manager, who stalks the grounds of Crossley House with a big Alsatian. Julia invites Anna to a birthday tea the next day, but Ramage wants to keep out anyone who has any connection with the Madeley Buildings where Anna lives.He’s going to make sure no one can get over the wall…

The creepy Miss Voor has got a bunch of cold-eyed clones to staff the school alongside her. They are working as teacher’s aids in each class, but they very much have their own agenda. For some reason they want to find the ‘best’ at everything – the tallest girl in class, the best at knitting, and so on. But there is more going on – at night, Dale finds that her room-mate Emily has been replaced by one of Miss Voor’s creepy clones!

Poppy and Daisy Mason find a nearby old lady who will happily look after their huge dog for them, but he is too clever for the old lady and soon escapes. If Poppy and Daisy’s parents find out about Pedro, he’ll be for it!

Hillbilly Lucy is sent to a snobbish school, but no one there is kind and sympathetic. Guardian Lady Primrose takes the snobs down a peg or two.

Wee Sue is worried about her French – she has learned a lot with Kay teaching her (even though they were playing hockey at the time!) but there are still big gaps in her knowledge. Sue is caught out of bounds while trying to study at night, and the hockey captain stops her from playing in the big hockey game the next day – she substitutes pal Kay instead. Sue knows this is not a good idea, as Kay isn’t a great player and the captain is just trying to show her up, but Kay takes Sue’s comments the wrong way and thinks that Sue has turned against her.

Little Lady Nobody is pushed down the well, but she clings onto the rope and avoids falling all the way into the well. Fellow servant Mary saves her but Elaine immediately betrays her. Mary falls ill as a result but Elaine makes up for her betrayal by being staunchly by MAry’s side during her illness. The other servants are won over, too – at least somewhat.

Sandra continues to dance on her sister’s behalf, but now her sister is jealous of the fact that all the kudos is going to her sister, and not to her. But they are both doing this just for their grandmother – it’s not a comfortable deception for either of the twins.

Bonnie’s Butler wins out again – Bonnie’s mother goes out for a posh evening do, courtesy of Gregston, rather than the trip to see a horror film that Bonnie’s father had planned.

Trudy rescues Silver from the burning stables but her friend and mentor is struck down with a heart attack. Now she doesn’t know where she can keep the horse; but her immediate concern is overwhelmingly about her friend, Mr MacReady.

Sandie 19 February 1972

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Roy Newby)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Gilbert O’Sullivan (artist Bob Gifford)

There seem to be two copies of Issue 2 in this box I have just received – one nice clean copy as above (though with one coupon cut out, affecting the “Brenda’s Brownies” page but nothing else), and one with a couple of ladybird badges drawn over the cover girl’s collar and, rather disturbingly, on her neck! There is also one of her teeth fetchingly blacked-out. Not a mint copy!

Norah is keen to join the local swimming club, but her no-good cousins are trying to shut her out. They have just told the wealthy president of the swimming club that Norah is the ‘new help’ – but it does mean that the kind words that Mrs Maddox says to Norah are received with true emotion. Of course Norah isn’t going to be able to join the pool so easily – cousin Lorna tears her costume into rags and tells her it costs far too much money for her to join anyway.

The school started and run by the Manns is looking rather more sinister than in the first episode. Susie Mann is trying to stir stuff up and show she isn’t interested in becoming the next Head Girl  or whatever, but her prank gets another girl landed in the cooler instead. And it’s a literal cooler – down in the dungeons, set up like a prison! Susie is having none of it, but how will the powers that be take it?

Anna Martin lives in a block of flats in the East End of London. Her only interest is in bird-watching. Everyone else teases her and destroys things to do with her hobby (a book, a nesting box). It looks like Anna will find a friend who may share her interest – but probably someone related to her nasty landlord, Mr Crossley.

At St Junipers, new headmistress Miss Voor is being very odd. She catches rebel schoolgirl Dale out of doors at night and just makes her climb back up the ivy into her dorm. Next thing she does is to tell the girls that half of them will get no lunch and the other half will get double helpings. ?! Dale organizes a strike to share out the food, or (once Miss Voor prevents them from doing that) at least makes sure that if some have no food, then all will refuse their food in solidarity. But oddest of all – the last shot shows a group of tall, stern women in Miss Voor’s office, all looking very like her, and all with the same cold blank eyes as this weird woman!

The two girls have named their big secret – the dog is called Pedro. He’s not happy at his sleeping accommodation, and ends up getting his way and sleeping in Poppy’s bed, while she has to bunk up with Daisy.

Hillbilly Lucy is the daughter of the new Earl of Locksley (also a hillbilly). His Lordship leaves to go on a round the world cruise, and Lucy is to be looked after by Lady Primrose and turned into a lady – whether she likes it or not! At least it turns out that Lady Primrose is a crack shot, when she stops some intended poaching from taking place. (It’s the nesting season, so even not-particularly-law-abiding Lucy agrees it would be better not to shoot pheasants at this time.)

Wee Sue is preoccupied because she isn’t great at French (they didn’t do it at her old school). She is a scholarship girl so is worried about losing her place if she can’t keep up in lessons, but in fact the headteacher and others seem more interested in her sporting prowess. Luckily friend Kay teaches her French – during the hockey! It works well and Sue’s team wins.

Historical sob-story “Little Lady Nobody” turns sinister quickly. Elaine learns that her second day as a skivvy will be rather worse than her first as she is nearly suffocated when a fire is started while she is up a chimney – and later when she goes to fetch water from the well, she is given a hard push from behind!

Sandra discovers she can only dance well when her sister is nearby, willing her to do so. Neither of the twins want to disappoint their grandmother so they both continue to collude in the deception, even though it means trying to ensure that twin Joan is wheeled to the theatre by their unsuspecting gran. Will it work?

Bonnie’s Butler continues to be a quick-witted helper. This time he makes sure that Bonnie and her school pals triumph with their school task of making jam puffs.

Trudy enters Silver into a showjumping competition, but he’s not been trained to jump and muffs it badly. Scrapmerchant Mr Macready is a helpful mentor, but tragedy strikes as a fire breaks out in the stables where Silver is bedded down for the night.

Sandie 12 February 1972

This is the first issue of Sandie. Through a stroke of fortune, I have just today got my hands on 69 issues of Sandie (and Tammy & Sandie). These were all bought by the mother of a girl whose name is shown on the issues as ‘Diane Lidgett’. The mother in question seems to have been something of a hoarder and the now grown-up girl – herself a mother and indeed a grandmother – recently unearthed them. The family wanted the comics to go to a good home and that’s what has just happened – that is, after they had had a good chance to re-read the stories themselves! If the pressures of work and other life stuff allow, I will post about each issue  in order, as I come to them.

As with the first issues of Jinty, this runs to 40 pages. It’s packed full of stories that are drawn by familiar names, though of course it is hard to know in most cases who wrote them.

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Roy Newby)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – George Best (artist Bob Gifford)

“Norah” looks like it is going to be a a tear-jerker Cinderella story, sharing a lot of similar ground with “Tricia’s Tragedy” in that a talented but poor swimmer needs to brave her way through challenges posed by wrong’uns from her own family as well as the difficulties put in her way by lack of money.

“Little Lady Nobody” is a riches-to-rags saga – in the first episode, snobbish Miss Elaine quickly finds out that her father has died and left only debts, meaning that she has to become a servant in the very same snobbish school that she had previously made lots of enemies in due to her horrible attitude. Only one scullery maid is on her side after her downfall and everyone else is positively out to get her.

Susie Mann is the latest of the Mann family to attend the posh private school that her ancestors started and which all of her family seem to have loved to make waves in. Susie is different, though – I had assumed at first that she might be a lovable klutz type, but by the end of this first episode it looks more like there might be something a bit sinister in how the school works, or at the very least that all her family members have enjoyed being bossy more than being kind and considerate. Whichever it is, Susie will definitely turn everything upside down, by the looks of it.

A one-pager of Brenda’s Brownies gives us some broad comedy – Brenda’s Tarantula Troupe are trying for their Baking Badge but end up needing to have a go at their Hut Building Badge, if they can possibly manage it…

Two sisters win a mystery prize in “Our Big BIG Secret” – a dog! They have been wanting one for ages but it’s the perennial question of where will they keep it, how will they pay for its food – and will their mother ever agree to let them keep it? it’s a fairly well-worn path but Jim Baikie’s art is always a treat and this has little humorous labels dotted here and there, in a way that foreshadows Baikie’s “Fran’ll Fix It!“.

From a mystery prize to a mystery story in “The School of No Escape” – Headmistress Miss Fitch of St Juniper’s has a sudden funny turn and walks out of the school entirely, only to be replaced by newcomer Miss Voor, who immediately announces herself as the new Headmistress. She is clearly a mind-controller and probably the fore-runner of an alien invasion, I shouldn’t wonder, as before the episode is out she has sent the deputy headmistress walking out in a very similar way, all the while asking the schoolgirls questions like “What are the names of the leaders of the principal nations on this planet?”

The new Earl of Locksley and his daughter are country bumpkins from rural America (though the editorial text says they come from Texas while the story intro says they are from Tennessee). Laughs ensue as the local high society mix with the rough and ready hillbillies.

Wee Sue, in her debut, is quite different from the later stories. Here Sue Strong is a small girl full of big surprises – she is clearly capable of taking down a class bully through unexpected sporting prowess, which isn’t something I would really have associated the later Sue stories with.

Bonnie Belthorp finds out that her family have inherited a butler, as per the will of the old lady that Bonnie’s mother used to do the cleaning for! This is a comedy story with a Jeeves-type character who is capable of winning through any situation.

In “Sandra Must Dance”, there are twin sisters who both love ballet, but only one of whom is any good. Duffer Sandra has to stand in for dancer Joan, and this deception bid fair to become permanent when Joan is injured in an accident and it looks like she will never be able to dance again. But Sandra has mysteriously started to feel a strange link with her twin, and this even seems to telepathically enable her to dance – on her paralysed twin’s behalf…

Trudy Parker is a poor girl who loves horses. She has a chance to buy ex-milk cart horse Star, who turns out to be a fantastic jumper – but will she find somewhere to stable him, let alone be able to enter into competitions? Her local rag-and-bone man is on her side, at any rate.

The Editorial page says there will be another great new story starting next week – I must say I can’t really see how they will manage to fit it in! Let’s see what happens…

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”.

She Couldnt Remember

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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?

lara

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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.

Mirror of Tears

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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!

goose

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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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