Tag Archives: Christmas

Tammy & Sally 25 December 1971 – first Christmas Tammy issue

Tammy 25 December 1971

Cover artist: John Armstrong

  • Gina – Get Lost (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • Beattie Beats ‘Em All! (artist John Armstrong)
  • Halves in a Horse (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Lulu (cartoon)
  • Skimpy Must Ski! – first episode (artist Tom Hurst)
  • Bernice and the Blue Pool (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Talk It Over with Trudy (problem page)
  • The Secret Ballerina (artist Roy Newby)
  • The Four Friends at Spartan School (artist “B. Jackson”, writer Terence Magee)
  • Maisie’s Magic Eye (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Cinderella Spiteful (artist Jose Casanovas)
  • Alison All Alone
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • A Tammy Outfit Idea for Christmas (feature)

 

This is Tammy’s first Christmas issue. Beattie Beats ‘Em All! (John Armstrong’s first Tammy story) does the honours on the cover. The back cover has a Christmas how-to-make. In Molly Mills, Lord Stanton wants to bring Christmas cheer to orphanage children, but he has reckoned without the cruel butler Pickering. The issue also advertises Tammy’s first-ever annual. Lulu is trying to find Christmas presents for Dad but keeps getting foiled.

You’d think this week’s episode of Maisie’s Magic Eye would be Christmassy too, but no. It’s a regular episode, where Maisie and her friend Lorna try to break bounds and sneak off to the circus. Hijinks with the brooch ensue, with a lot of monkey business when Maisie unwittingly turns the circus strong man into a gorilla and the brooch stops glowing before she can change him back.

Normally new stories are reserved for New Year, but one does begin in the Christmas issue,  “Skimpy Must Ski!” Skimpy Shaw, a convalescent girl, is sent to live with her grandfather who looks a real sourpuss. Time will tell if he has a heart under there. Meanwhile, Skimpy is inspired to ski, and she thinks she has a natural talent for it.

Gina – Get Lost has been left to look after herself when her parents emigrate, which is not going down well with the welfare authorities. And it sounds like there is worse to come. She has already fallen foul of blackmailers and it looks like she will fall foul of potential guardians out to exploit her.

Before Bella Barlow, John Armstrong drew “Beattie Beats ‘Em All!” for Tammy. Beattie Brown is a promising athlete. Unfortunately she has no fixed abode either, so she and her stray cats live in a boiler room at a girls’ college.

In “Halves in a Horse”, two cousins are left with half shares in a horse, Topper. The cousin who wins the most prizes with him will acquire full ownership. As might be expected, one cousin (Pauline) is not playing fair and making the other cousin (Kay) suffer. Now the cousins have almost equal shares, Pauline is using blackmail against Kay.

Bernice and the Blue Pool was Tammy’s first swimming story and also the first story Douglas Perry drew for Tammy. It was the start of a regular Tammy run for Perry that lasted into 1981. The Blue Pool has a supernatural theme, which ranges from beneficial (curing our protagonist of her fear of water) to ominous – wearing Victorian swimming costumes that were worn by a pioneering Victorian swimming team that drowned.

The Secret Ballerina, Karen Jones, has to practise in secret because her aunt is against ballet for some reason. This is, of course, the mystery that needs to be unravelled. Compounding the mystery is a locked room in auntie’s house. But now Katie has discovered the room has been unlocked and someone is inside. She is heading to the attic to investigate. Will she find the key to the mystery next week?

Surprise, surprise – Miss Bramble’s henchman, er girl, Siddons helps the four friends at Spartan School to escape from the school where sadism is the rule. But of course they should have known it would be a setup. Mind you, they didn’t expect Siddons to actually attempt to kill them! When they survive that, they discover Miss Bramble and Siddons have concocted a plan to get them arrested instead.

Cinderella Spiteful – now that’s a very unusual title for a Cinderella story, you think. Actually, the story has nothing to do with Cinderella. Emma is jealous of her cousin Angela because Angela is good at everything while Emma is not. Next week it sounds like it will be more spiteful than Cinderella, because Emma reaches her limit in this episode.

Alison All Alone is on the run after being imprisoned by her guardians for many years. The question is: why did they keep her locked up like that? The three runaway boys who helped her escape are helping her to find out. This week they uncover a clue about her past – a crook who says he will be finished if Alison finds out who her true parents are!

 

 

 

 

Crazyzee Christmas (1982)

Christmas is coming. So for some Christmas fun I am putting up “Crazyee Christmas” from Tammy 25 1982 to show how Miss T, Edie and Snoopa shared the Christmas spirit just over a year after they all came together in the Tammy and Jinty merger as “The Crayzees”.

crazyees-christmas
Christmas with The Crayzees. From Tammy 25 December 1982.

Jinty 18 January 1975

Cover 18 January 1975

Stories in this issue:

  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Jackie’s Two Lives (artist Ana Rodriguez, writer Alan Davidson)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • The Kat and Mouse Game (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Prisoners of Paradise Island (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mike White)
  • Always Together… (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Slave of the Mirror (artist Carlos Freixas)

This is the second of the two Christmas issues I got out. This one is very festive and seasonal, with a competition to find the robin printed on a number of story-pages, and Christmas story-lines in “Dora Dogsbody”, “The Jinx From St Jonah’s”, and “Always Together” (yes, the kids get their Christmas after all, once Jilly manages to sell some of her sketches and Johnny gets given food by his gypsy friends).

The only catch with all this Christmassy-ness? It came out in January, due to a few weeks “production troubles” (often a euphemism for industrial action).

I thought I would include some art from “The Kat and Mouse Game” to show that despite having felt that the earliest pages drawn by Jim Baikie on this strip were a little shaky, there was also lots of good art – and a totally unrepentant and black-hearted bully protagonist.

The Kat and Mouse Game pg 1

The Kat and Mouse Game pg 2
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The Kat and Mouse Game pg 3
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Jinty & Penny 6 December 1980

JInty Cover 7

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Her Guardian Angel – first episode (Peter Wilkes)
  • Girl the World Forgot (artist and writer Veronica Weir)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Behind the Screen: Crossroads (feature)
  • Angela Angel-Face (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Sue’s Daily Dozen (artist José Casanovas)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Winning Ways 36: Netball – Two more dodges

The buildup to the Christmas issue is well underway. In this issue, Jinty starts her 1980 Christmas story, to act as a filler and add to the Christmas theme over the holiday season. The story, “Her Guardian Angel”, was Jinty’s last Christmas story; by next Christmas she had merged with Tammy.

Pam of Pond Hill is trying to instil some Christmas spirit too, but it seems to be lost on everyone else. Pam gets permission to hold a Christmas party at school, which turns into one for the kids from the orphanage. But far from instilling the Christmas spirit Pam wanted, it has everyone quarrelling, and the blurb for next week warns us that more problems are ahead.

The Girl the World Forgot knows Christmas is coming, and the only present she wants is a ship to get her off the island she is marooned on. In the final panel, it looks like she is going to get one at last – but it is a Viking boat! What gives?

Thieves strike in “The Daily Dozen” and one of them even knocks Sue out. But as it is the cauldron they are stealing, we know the next episode can only “spell” trouble for them. Nadine does a whole new take on “roller disco”, with the aid of netball – again. Scheming Angela Angel-Face has wangled a trip to Meringaria, but she has not bargained on the company that comes with her – the very girls who know what she is really like. Tansy’s Dad tries pigeon-racing, and of course this causes mayhem for Tansy. Sir Roger loses his head – literally – because it is too windy. Next time he goes out, he wears full armour although there is hardly a breeze.

 

 

Jinty 24 December 1977

Jinty cover 1.jpg

  • The Spirits of the Trees – Gypsy Rose tale
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Two Mothers for Maggie (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Guardian of White Horse Hill (artist Julian Vivas)
  • Darling Clementine – first episode (artist Richard Neillands, writer Alison Christie)
  • Come into My Parlour (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
  • Alley Cat
  • Race for a Fortune

The cover for the Christmas issue of 1977 features the star of ‘Race for a Fortune’, Katie McNab. Yes, the hairstyle clearly denotes the girl as Katie, not Jinty. In Katie’s story she is trying to outrace her dirty cousins to Yuckiemuckle (yes) to claim the fortune left by their Uncle Ebenezer. Katie must be taking time out from her race to decorate the Christmas cake on the cover. But why did they colour the icing that is dripping out of the back of Katie’s piping bag brown when the icing is clearly blue? It also makes that gob of icing on Katie’s nose look like she’s got a great big zit.

The Gypsy Rose story, while not a Christmas story, has a Christmas feel in its heavy features of fir trees in snowy landscapes. The story could also be said to have a Christmas message, where an aggrieved dryad swears revenge on a forester’s children when the forester cuts down her sister’s tree. But in the end the dryad is persuaded to show mercy and forgiveness when her sister’s spirit says she will reincarnate in a new tree.

Christmas also features in Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag, where Sue gives Henrietta some saddle soap. But this prompt causes trouble when it sets Henrietta to dreaming. We have a Christmas quiz while the letterbox has a Christmas theme, and there are instructions for making a Christmas pixie on the back cover. Several of the logos in the stories have been given Christmas themes (snow, holly), but not all. Land of No Tears, Guardian of White Horse Hill and Come into My Parlour don’t. Maybe it’s because they have darker themes. And poor Alley Cat wakes up starving on Christmas Day and not a bite to eat! He goes in search of some food, and eventually he buys a Christmas feast with reward money after he foils a robbery.

And for a Christmas present we have a new story, Darling Clementine. Ella Peters has been having a rough time because she is a shy person and just lost her mother. Things look up when Uncle Dave and cousin Clementine (Clem) find her. But Uncle Dave develops a lung disease from the smoky mining town and Clem is determined to win a water-skiing contest to raise the money for a cottage in a healthy environment. This can only be the beginning of the troubles that Clem and Ella are going to face in this story. And we also suspect that shy Ella is going to learn about courage and confidence – but the hard way!

 

Tale of the Panto Cat (1979)

Sample Images

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Publication: 8 December 1979 – 29 December 1979

Artist: “B Jackson”

Writer: Unknown

Summary

In Daisy Green Youth Club, Verna is known as “the original panto cat”. She is conceited, bossy, domineering and self-centred. She walks over everyone to have everything her way.

The club members are discussing what to do for their Christmas special when Verna barrels in, tears up their suggestions and pushes ahead with her own – a pantomime for the kids who will be confined to Farley Hospital over the Christmas season. But Verna doesn’t stop there. She allows no discussion of what the pantomime will be – it must be Cinderella. Before the meeting is over, she casts everyone in the roles as she sees fit. And of course she casts herself as Cinderella. Gwen is feeling very indignant at the way Verna carries on.

But there is worse to come when Gwen finds Verna is writing the panto as well. She is astonished to find the script Verna gave her is only two pages long and the lines are awful. The same goes for everyone else, and they find out why at the next meeting – Verna’s part is three times as big as theirs! They reach their limit at this and shelve Verna’s script in favour of one in the club library. But they still give Verna a chance to be Cinderella if she is good. But of course the panto cat is anything but good, and in the end she finds herself without any role (not even as wicked stepmother, the only role that really suits her personality).

Gwen says they still have to let Verna be director, but that proves to be a bad mistake. Now the panto cat has lost the limelight she turns vicious. She gets her claws out and sets out to wreck the panto now she cannot be in it. As director, she tries to stir everything up, make everyone’s life a misery, and even smash the pumpkin. All this does is get her removed from the panto altogether.

Another club member, Minna, suggests they have Verna’s father make Cinderella’s coach. Gwen says they should keep Verna out, but Minna feels it is rotten to do so because it is Christmas. This is another bad mistake. Verna sabotages the coach so it will fall apart on the night. Instead it falls apart at a rehearsal, leaving Cinderella with a sprained ankle, Prince Charming with a black eye and the Fairy Godmother with an injured leg. It looks like the show is off and the panto cat has got the cream.

But then Gwen has a brainwave – convert a piece of the coach into a puppet theatre and have a puppet Cinderella show instead. Unfortunately, Minna tells Verna about how they have salvaged the disaster, thinking she is acting in the spirit of Christmas. So the cat gets ready to pounce again. On the night of the show, Verna tries to sabotage them at the club as they make preparations to set off. She fails, and her tricks put Gwen on her guard.

At the hospital, Gwen sends Verna on an errand to get her out of the way. Verna spots a jug of water in a ward and goes in for it, planning to spill it on the puppets and make them too wet to use. But she failed to spot a warning notice on the door saying there is a child with scarlet fever quarantined in the ward. Verna has got too close to the child, and the nurse tells Verna she now has to be quarantined as well. The cat’s last minute pounce to wreck things has backfired. Verna has to spend Christmas in quarantine (later the editor informs us in the letter page that she did not contract scarlet fever) and watch the show she tried to sabotage through the observation window.

The show is a huge success and everyone except Verna enjoys it. Afterwards, the girls have a Christmas party back at the club and Verna’s fate gives them all the more reason to celebrate. Minna says she enjoyed the panto despite all the problems and they must do it again.

Thoughts

“Tale of the Panto Cat” was one of the Christmas-themed filler stories that Jinty ran over her build up to Christmas. But what Christmas message does this tale of spite, sabotage and deliberate attempts to wreck a Christmas production have for readers? Well, every Christmas has a Grinch somewhere. If Jinty ever had a Grinch story, this has to be it. But unlike her Seuss counterpart, the heart of Verna does not swell to the right size when faced with the spirit of Christmas. Rather, she destroys herself in her efforts to wreck the show. It backfires on her and she ends up spending Christmas in quarantine.

Instead of a sentimental story about the true spirit of Christmas, we get a more typical story of an unpleasant type who causes trouble and getting her eventual comeuppance. Christmas is used more as the theme and setting for the story. This makes the story a nice, refreshing, atypical break from the more standard Christmas fare in girls’ comics. And Verna does not change into a nicer person in the light of Christmas, which makes it even more realistic.

Minna is the only one who strives for real Christmas spirit in the way she insists on keeping Verna in the loop over the panto. But in so doing she unwittingly helps Verna to cause more trouble. Perhaps the story is making a statement that the spirit of Christmas is lost on some people. In fact, although it was Verna’s idea to put on the show for the children in hospital, Verna clearly did not do it for the sake of the kids. All she cared about was being the star of the show and the centre of attention. When she could not have that, she turned just plain vindictive and set out to wreck things in any which way she could with no thought for the kids or anyone else. That is hardly the way to behave, much less at Christmas time. One can only hope Verna left the club for good after she came out of quarantine and was not around to interfere with the next Christmas special.

Jinty 29 December 1979

Jinty cover 12.jpg

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Spirit of the Lake (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Tale of the Panto Cat – last episode (unknown artist Merry)
  • Toni on Trial (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • White Water (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Forget-me-not at Christmas – complete story (artist Guy Peeters)
  • When Statues Walk… (artist Phil Gascoine)

It is Jinty‘s Christmas issue for 1979 and Jinty makes it a big celebration. Even the stories that do not feature Christmas still celebrate it with snow-covered logos and/or holly. There is a nice touch of humour on the cover with the cat playing with the tinsel garland. That is just the sort of thing a cat might play with.

The Christmas issue starts off with a quiz “Make it your wishbone Christmas”. In fact, the quiz is the first thing you see when you open the cover. The break from a picture story starting things off sure makes it clear how serious Jinty is about celebrating Christmas. Her 1979 Christmas story, “Tale of the Panto Cat” concludes with this issue, of course. Everything ends happily of course – except for our would-be-grinch Verna, who spends her Christmas in quarantine when her last trick to spoil the Christmas panto backfires.

Despite the happy ending and the efforts of one girl in “Panto Cat” to remember the Christmas spirit, even with Verna, there is not much Christmas message in the story. That is reserved for “Forget-me-not at Christmas”, a very poignant story of a Victorian waif who was invited to a rich girl’s party but was turned away because they forgot she was invited. She sat outside in the snow waiting to be remembered. But by the time they did, poor Forget-me-not had frozen to death! In the 20th century, Sandie Hurst encounters the ghost of Forget-me-not and invites her to their Christmas party. Will Forget-me-not be remembered this time?

Alley Cat tries to raise money for Christmas from carol singing, but thrown boots and smashed windows tell you how good he is at carol singing. But in the end he does get a happy Christmas because he unwittingly did the Muchloots a favour.

Her Guardian Angel (1980-81)

Sample Images

Angel 1

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Angel 2

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Angel 3

Publication: 6 December 1980 – 3 January 1981

Artist: Peter Wilkes

Writer: Unknown

Summary

Christmas is in the air, and people observe a shooting star streaking across the sky. It’s supposed to be lucky – but perhaps not so much in this case. The shooting star is really an angel, Gabbi (acronym for their motto “Guardian Angels Better Body Insurance”), sent out on practical experience. Gabbi has been put in charge of “Reckless” Roz Rogers, a girl who gets herself into lots of scrapes because she has a very irresponsible sense of danger. She laughs them off – but ironically, she does learn about danger with all the scrapes her supposed guardian angel gets her into.

But on with how Gabbi and Roz meet. Gabbi takes the form of a Christmas angel that Roz buys for the Christmas tree. She hopes it will soften her parents, who have been angry since her since she rode her Mum’s bike into the duck pond. No such luck – Roz leaves her roller skate on the front door, which causes Dad to have an accident. So they ban her from a Christmas party, but Roz sneaks out down the drainpipe – “Reckless Roz laughs at danger!” But even Reckless Roz has to stop laughing when her hands slip and she starts falling. And then she is surprised to find herself in the arms of Gabbi, the Christmas tree angel come to life! Gabbi then tells Roz what her mission is, and she is now Roz’s guardian angel – but only Roz can see and hear her.

Unfortunately Gabbi is way too overprotective, takes her work far too seriously, and goes to absurd lengths to protect Roz from danger or what she imagines to be danger. And in so doing, gets Roz into tons of trouble. These include fusing the disco equipment because Gabbi considers the noise and lights unhealthy and dangerous for Roz – as a result, Roz gets chased by an angry mob, and Gabbi has to rescue her. Gabbi refuses to let Roz ride bicycles, use skateboards, or watch television (which she fuses) because she says television is bad for Roz’s eyesight. Gabbi disapproves of Roz’s presents (pogo stick, rollerskates, monster mask, radio, chocolates) because she considers them dangerous or unhealthy. On Twelfth Night Gabbi pulls the ladder out from under Roz, who is taking down the Christmas decorations because she thinks the ladder is dangerous – and of course it causes Roz to fall down. Defeating your own purpose, aren’t you, Gabbi? And those are just some of the things.

But sometimes Gabbi does things right (maybe despite herself). We do have to cheer Gabbi when she throws Roz’s school dinner off the table: “We’re not having your delicate digestion assaulted by that-that muck!” And we cheer Gabbi even more when she puts the dustbin over the head of an ‘acid-tongued’ teacher who is nagging Roz: “Don’t shout at my Roz!”

And Gabbi just about needs a guardian angel herself by the time her practical experience is over. She has become so battered and her gown so torn by all the scrapes she has landed herself into with her experience with Roz that she is ashamed of the state she is in when the time comes for her to go back “Up There”. Upon hearing Gabbi is leaving, Roz finds herself not wanting Gabbi to go because she has gotten used to her. But it is Gabbi’s time to go (and it is the end of Christmas, so this Christmas story must end). Roz patches up Gabbi’s gown as best she can. Soon Mum is surprised to see the Christmas tree angel (actually, Gabbi’s celestial transporter) vanish from the tree, people are surprised to see a shooting star going upwards, and Gabbi gives Roz a halo to remember her by.

Thoughts

In her later years, Jinty tended to run short filler stories around the Christmas period – or, in the case of 1981, in her last seven issues before the merger. These were evidently used to fill in the gaps while Jinty sorted out her New Year line up, and it is not surprising that a number of such stories had Christmas themes. Of these, “Her Guardian Angel” is the last.

It is quite surprising to use an angel as a comical magical companion, as angels tend to be regarded more as holy beings than comical ones. And there are religious implications which could be uncomfortable. This is probably why angels were not seen as much as fairies, leprechauns or other magical creatures in girls’ comics. The only other angel-themed serial I know of appeared in Mandy. But then, it is Christmas, so the angel theme does blend in.

Gabbi comes from the long tradition of magical companions to heroines. They mean well, but they often end up causing unintentional trouble. This can be because things backfire, or they get mischievous, or they don’t understand the ways of humans very well. Other times they do things right and it all smiles for them and their human friend. However it goes, the heroine always loves her magical companion. And for us readers, it always means loads of laughs.

In this story, the laughs come from Gabbi’s over-protectiveness, and to a lesser extent, Roz’s recklessness, and the scrapes they both end up in. Gabbi has a more human side, such as when she gets constantly worn out by all her efforts to look after Roz, or takes a moment of gluttony to indulge in Christmas dinner.

And there is one further thing that I really like about this story. We have had loads of stories about over-protective or obsessive parents and the ridiculous lengths they go to protect their children from danger. But an over-protective angel? That’s different!

Jinty & Penny 3 January 1981

 

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  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • The Ghost Dancer – first episode (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Her Guardian Angel – final episode (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Sue’s Daily Dozen – final episode (artist José Casanovas)
  • Land of No Tears – reprint (writer Pat Mills, artist Guy Peeters)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Hougton)
  • No Medals for Marie – first episode (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine (artist Mario Capaldi)

This was Jinty‘s New Year issue for 1981. As Jinty was cancelled later that year, 1981 probably was not all that happy for her. But in the meantime, Jinty had promised in her Christmas issue “that we’re kicking the [new] year off in style!” – and she does with the return of her “smash hit story from 1977” – Land of No Tears. This was brought back as a result of Pam’s Poll in 1980. Other new stories for the New Year were Phil Gascoine’s first Jinty story for 1981, “No Medals for Marie”, and what would be Jinty‘s last ballet story, “The Ghost Dancer”. This is the only story where I have seen Phil Townsend draw ballet, and he certainly proved with this one that he could draw ballet beautifully. If there are any other stories where Townsend drew ballet, I would like to know about them.

Readers expected more new material with the end of Jinty‘s 1980 Christmas story, “Her Guardian Angel” and “Sue’s Daily Dozen”. They are promised that Gypsy Rose will be back the following week. And being New Year, there is emphasis on New Year themes. This takes the form of Pam, Sir Roger and Tansy working on their respective New Year resolutions. Predictably, this has hilarious and unexpected results. Lastly, Jinty has a page of magic tricks for readers to do over the Christmas holidays.

 

 

Jinty & Lindy 27 December 1975

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  • Slaves of the Candle (artist Roy Newby)
  • The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Friends of the Forest – first episode
  • Golden Dolly, Death Dust! (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Ping-Pong Paula (Jim Baikie)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • Too Old to Cry! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Wanda Whiter Than White (artist Ana Rodrigues)
  • The Haunting of Hazel (artist Santiago Hernandez)
  • Song of the Fir Tree (artist Phil Townsend)

It is the Christmas issue for 1975, but the cover is not very Christmassy. The only hints of Christmas are the blurb at the top, the Christmas wishes, and the Christmas image on the writing case. Perhaps the Christmas aspect was pushed back a bit because the cover had to introduce us to the competition and the new serial inside. The Christmas celebrations are relegated to the Katie Jinx story, Do-It-Yourself Dot, and the Christmas jokes on the back cover.

But Lyndy does get a present – in the form of a makeshift key that enables the “Slaves of the Candle” to get out of the workroom they have been locked into. But she gets more than she bargained for when she finds out Miss Tallow is plotting to steal the Crown Jewels.

“Friends of the Forest” starts off, with a strong statement about respecting animals and not using them for entertainment in circuses. This is what Mr Green wants to do with Sally Harris’ deer, Star, after hearing about the tricks that Sally has taught Star. Of course Sally won’t have Star put in a circus and releases him into the forest. But Mr Green won’t give up that easily, and to complicate matters, Mrs Harris has just collapsed.

In “Golden Dolly, Death Dust!” Miss Marvel’s mask has found our two heroines again. Golden Dolly sees it off, but the effort leaves her drained. And as result of the incident, the girls now have a sinister reputation, and are forced by frightened people into a village known as the “Village of Witches”. In the other spooky story, “The Haunting of Hazel”, Hazel finds out more about the reason for the haunting. But the haunting is getting worse, and Hazel’s nerves are at breaking point.

It’s Ping-Pong Paula’s birthday, but this does not bring her quarrelling parents back together either. In “Too Old to Cry” things are beginning to look up for runaway Nell at the beauty academy, but the final panel brings a cloud on the horizon. In “Wanda Whiter than White”, Wanda’s tale-telling gets worse. And to make it worse still, Wanda has now moved in next door to Susie, which threatens Susie’s secret even more.

In “Song of the Fir Tree”, Per and Solveig find themselves caught between two Germans who were on either side of Hitler. Luise’s father was anti-Nazi and paid the price for it, but Luise upholds his ideals. However, Luise’s Aunt Johanna still has her Nazi Party membership card, which Luise uses to blackmail her into cooperating about the runaways. This episode makes a strong statement that not all Germans liked Hitler. There were decent Germans in World War II, and being German did not necessarily mean being Nazi. Winston Churchill understood this – he always said “Nazis” in his speeches, not “Germans”.