Tag Archives: Colin Merritt

Tammy & Sally 1 May 1971

Tammy cover 1 May 1971

  • Beattie Beats ‘Em All! (artist John Armstrong)
  • Our Jane – Little Mum (artist Colin Merrett)
  • My Father – My Enemy!
  • The Cat Girl (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • The Secret of Trebaran
  • The Girls of Liberty Lodge (artist Dudley Pout)
  • Slaves of “War Orphan Farm” (artist Desmond Walduck, writer Gerry Finley-Day?)
  • Betina at Ballet School
  • Action Girl
  • Glen – Loney Dog on a Quest (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Maisie’s Magic Eye (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Sara’s Kingdom (artist Bill Mainwaring)
  • Castaways on Voodoo Island (artist Ken Houghton)
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

Hello, everyone. For something a bit different in the issue entries, we are going to have a round robin of Tammy, where one issue will be selected and profiled from each year Tammy was running.

Leading off in 1971 is the 1 May issue. We are now three months into Tammy’s run. How is it all going? Many of the stories from Tammy’s first issue are still going strong, though three look like they are near the end.

We are some weeks into the Sally merger and Sally’s contributions are still going too. The Cat Girl and Maisie’s Magic Eye are providing some light relief against the grimness of the Tammy stories that focus on cruelty and misery.

And what’s going on the stories?

Beattie wins a sports event despite dirty tricks from jealous rivals. But she is still on the run from the orphanage and her past is threatening to catch up, as she discovers when she is shown a newspaper.

Our Janie Little Mum has been saddled with an additional problem to looking after her younger siblings – helping to hide a carthorse that has been earmarked for the slaughterhouse! And on the top floor of the apartment block too!

“My Father – My Enemy!” looks like it is on its penultimate episode. Father has been critically injured from violence during the miners’ strike, and his ramblings inform Julie just why he is so horrible to them – he blames them for his wife’s death. And quite wrongly, of course. Julie is now anxious to reconcile with him, but he has one foot in the door of death.

Glen looks like he is on his penultimate episode too. After a long, epic journey, he finally tracks down his mistress June. But she has been cornered by a vicious dog, and it’s a killer!

The Castaways of Voodoo Island looks like it is approaching its conclusion too. Jackie is cornered by the dreaded Devil God, but the blurb for next week says we will learn the truth about him.

The Cat Girl discovers her father has been set up to look like an enemy spy. She’s got to get to him before the British agents do.

On Trebaran, Abel the evil sorcerer (come to think of it, he was the only evil sorcerer Tammy ever had) is after a stone in Trudy’s possession. Surprisingly, he disappears when Trudy’s friends appear, but when she wakes up the following morning, it’s her friends have disappeared. Where have they got to?

The Girls of Liberty Lodge and their headmistress Miss Valentine are in a barge race against the rival school, Hardington School, which is run along the harsh, sadistic lines of Miss Steele, who hates Miss Valentine’s guts . As usual, Hardington plays dirty tricks against Liberty, but it backfires with Liberty finding helpers who get them to the finishing line first. And they have a new pupil – Lady Angela.

Kate frees one of the slaves of War Orphan Farm with the help of “Mad” Emma. Kate declines the offer to come too, because she wants to stay on and free more slaves. But nasty Ned and the evil Ma Thatcher have spotted the escape. What can Kate do to stop them?

Molly is also helping to liberate mistreated orphans, this time at an orphanage. The cruel staff look like they’ve conned Binks the chauffeur into helping them, but when they attack Mistress Clare he lashes back at them, and they get arrested. Well, that’s the end of the cruel treatment at the orphanage.

Betina is suspended from ballet lessons after being wrongly accused. Her confidence is so shattered that she has decided to pack her bags.

Sara is one step closer to finding the ruby that will cement her claim to the throne of Hunzir, but is warned to beware “the fat bearded one”. By the looks of things, he is the one heading up the mountain in a jeep to cut her off.

 

First Tammy Ever Published: 6 February 1971

Tammy 6 February 1971 reprint
First Tammy cover: reprint
Tammy 6 February 1971
First Tammy cover: original
  • The Secret of Trebaran – first episode (artist Giorgio Cambiotti)
  • The Girls of Liberty Lodge – first episode (artist Dudley Pout)
  • Slaves of “War Orphan Farm” – first episode (artist Desmond Walduck, writer Gerry Finley-Day)
  • Dawn and Kerry Double for Trouble – first episode (artist Giorgio Letteri, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • “Our Janie” – Little Mum – first episode (artist Colin Merritt)
  • Betina at Ballet School – first episode
  • My Father – My Enemy! – first episode
  • Courier Carol – first episode (artist Jean Sidobre)
  • Glen (later called Glen – A Lonely Dog on a Quest) – first episode (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Tammy Club Page – Feature
  • Castaways on Voodoo Island – first episode (artist Ken Houghton)
  • No Tears for Molly – first episode (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Cats and Kittens – Feature

Recently we had an entry for the last Tammy ever published. So it is seems appropriate that there should be one for the first Tammy as well.

The cheery blond girl who greets us on the cover (which has far better colouring than its 2009 facsimile reprint) belies the content that is waiting inside. For Pat Mills and Gerry Finley-Day intended that Tammy would revolutionise girls’ comics, which more typically went for stories about ballet, school and ponies. Instead, Tammy would lead a revolution by going for the dark side of comics. She would print stories filled with suffering, misery, cruelty, and pushing the envelope with over-the-top ways to torture the heroines. Parents and teachers hated it, which was a sure sign it was working.

Tammy 4

Tammy’s welcome to her readers stated: “…for the whole gang of us here have tried to make it the kind of picture-story paper we think you want…I just hope we’ve succeeded and that you’ll go on reading and enjoying Tammy every week”.

They must have succeeded – sales of Tammy skyrocketed, and it would blaze the trail for the early Jinty, and Action and Battle.

The first story that readers see when they open the issue is a supernatural story, “The Secret of Trebaran”, which is quite a blend of time travel, evil sorcerer and period story. Trudy Smith thinks her holiday in Cornwall is as dull as ditch water – until she comes across a mysterious medallion that sends her travelling back in time to when the island of Trebaran was a thriving community instead of the ruin it is today, and nobody knows why it ended up that way. Trudy is about to become part of that mystery, of course. But it’s already threatening to get her burned at the stake for witchcraft when Puritans encounter her tape recorder and hear what it can do!

Tammy 1
The Girls of Liberty Lodge

The next story is the first of the stories in the pioneering dark side, “The Girls of Liberty Lodge”. We meet Miss Steele, the bully headmistress of Hardington Hall, whose ideas of discipline are put girls on ‘trial’ in a kangaroo court in front of the whole school. Good grief! Miss Valentine, the only kind teacher in the whole school, is so appalled that she quits to start her own school, Liberty Lodge, which is set up as the antithesis of Hardington Hall. But Miss Steele is not having that, and is determined to bring down Liberty Lodge any way she can.

Story three is the Queen of Cruelty in Tammy’s lineup – “Slaves of ‘War Orphan Farm’”. This story is regarded as perhaps the cruellest strip ever in girls’ comics. Ma Thatcher (named for the future Prime Minister) takes in war orphans, ostensibly to give them a home for the duration of WW2. In reality, she forces them to work in a quarry and contracts them out as slave labour to other farmers.

“Dawn and Kerry” takes a break from the cruelty with two good friends who turn into sleuths when they get caught in a storm and have to take shelter in a creepy hall, Whispering Heights. They meet a girl who seems to be a prisoner of the place, and now they are prisoners themselves!

Tammy 2
Slaves of “War Orphan Farm”

The fourth story, “‘Our Janie – Little Mum!’”, returns to the suffering. Janie Greaves has been mother to the family since Mum died, but now more tragedy is tearing the family apart. Dad has been landed in hospital with serious injuries, social welfare is threatening to split the family up, and now her brother’s being arrested!

The first lineup of a new girls’ comic just wouldn’t be complete without a ballet story, and “Betina at Ballet School” is it. Betina Brooks wins a scholarship to a ballet school. But snobbery is against her – and it’s coming from the teachers. This story would spawn an early Tammy sequel, “Betina and the Haunted Ballet”.

“My Father – My Enemy!” delves into the horrors of Victorian exploitation and child labour with Mr Jeffries, who cares nothing for the suffering of his miners and their families. But his daughter Julie is more compassionate and she goes against her own father to do what she can to help them.

“Courier Carol” is the only story in the Tammy lineup to have any humour. Carol Jones and her uncle run a coach tour with a difference – a vintage coach that picks up a lot of laughs on the way. But they pick up trouble too, in the form of a rival coach business run by the man who had tried to buy them out.

Humour and hijinks are definitely short in the first lineup; there isn’t even a cartoon feature starring a “funny”. If there is one problem with the first Tammy stories, it is that they lean too heavily towards stories filled with suffering, hardship and cruelty. There is little counterbalance in the form of laughs and light relief. The first Jinty, though she would have her share of dark, cruel stories with tortured heroines (especially “Merry at Misery House”), she would include more humour and slapstick in her first lineup than the first Tammy lineup did.

Tammy 3
Courier Carol

And it soon gets back to it with “Glen” (later called “Glen – A Dog on a Lonely Quest”). Glen is an abused dog (yes, more cruelty) who sets out to find the girl who saved him when his abusive owner tried to drown him. And the girl’s name is June – coincidence or what?

The facsimile reprint reproduces only page one of the Tammy Club from the original. The editor knew readers would want one, and Susie is the secretary who presents the details on how to join and what to expect.

The reprint also omits the next story, “Castaways on Voodoo Island”, for some reason. Perhaps it is because this story is considered a weak one. Girls find themselves castaways on an island where they fall foul of a weird witch doctor. At least it makes a change from being tortured and abused by bullies and slave drivers.

Tammy 5
No Tears for Molly

Finally, we come to the story where the heroine would endure no less than 10 years of cruelty, abuse, bullying and suffering in Tammy. These would include being tied up and beaten, locked in a flood dungeon, freezing cold duckings in a lake, and being clamped in the stocks, would you believe? She would end up holding a joint record with Bella Barlow as Tammy’s longest running character. This is, of course, Molly Mills, a 1920s maidservant. She has the bad luck to arrive at the same time as bully butler Pickering, who would become her arch-nemesis at Stanton Hall. Her strip was originally entitled “No Tears for Molly” and the title would stick several years, despite the fact that it is a complete misnomer. Right from the very first episode we see Molly crying. No tears for Molly, huh? And now she’s been sacked too, because of a dirty trick from the other two maids who are destined to give her more trouble in the years to come. As if Pickering wasn’t bad enough!

 

 

 

June Book 1970

June Annual 1970 Cover

Cover by Phil Townsend

In this Annual:

  • Nella and Her Donkey (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • House of Phantoms (writer Jane Derwent, artist Carlos Freixas)
  • The Girl From Tibet (artist John Armstrong)
  • Who’ll Buy My Sweet Oranges? (poem)
  • Figure, Fashion and Facing Facts… (feature by Angela Barrie)
  • Nursing Is My Life (artist not identified)
  • Zoo Fun (photo feature)
  • Jeannie’s Unearthly Twin (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Long-Legged Peg (artist not identified)
  • Silverwing’s Jest (prose story)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Bessie’s Christmas Beano (recipes)
  • Cowboy Country (feature)
  • Bright and Beautiful (feature)
  • Debra’s Dolls (feature)
  • Enchanted Woodland (photo feature)
  • Guardians of the Temple: Strange Story (artist not identified)
  • Fun Spot (puzzles)
  • Sunshine Susie (artist not identified)
  • Oh, That Statue! – Surprise Corner (artist Colin Merritt)
  • Schoolgirl Models (prose story; writer Sheila Morton, artist not identified)
  • Kathy Must Stay! (artist not identified)
  • Cleo and the Cat (prose story; writer Denise Barry, artist Phil Townsend)
  • Things to Make and Do (crafts feature)
  • What A Laugh! (gag page)
  • Sam and Suki Save The Day (artist Robert MacGillivray)

I see that June called its Annual a ‘Book’ instead!

There is no dedicated internet source that I can find for discussion of June (though of course the Comics UK Forum covers this too); I hope everyone will forgive my inclusion of this ‘Book’ under the Jinty banner. June is not a girl’s paper that I know well, but I have been interested to read this annual in the light of now knowing that it is a direct precursor to Jinty: Mavis Miller was the editor of June & School Friend before being moved onto Jinty, seemingly as part of the general move of the time to pep up girls comics and make them sharper and less old-fashioned. (Around the time that Jinty was being prepared, June was merged with Tammy, which would be another reason to move the editor on.) We already know of some overlap in creators and themes between June and Jinty: “Nobody Knows My Name”, written by Alison Christie, was published in June under Mavis’s editorship. Looking at this Book, we can see even more overlap, and some interesting areas of difference too.

The annual starts off with a nice little animal story drawn by Trini: little Italian girl Nella is invited to be a bridesmaid at a posh society wedding; her pet donkey ends up saving the wedding presents from thieves. The art is beautiful, as always, and the story is sprightly and fun. It’s a story that would have fitted well into any Jinty annual, too.

The first text story, “House of Phantoms” has given me a bit of doubt: looking at the illustrations I am still not totally sure whether they are done by Comos or Freixas (who I hadn’t previously thought of as particularly hard to tell apart). The mouths are quite similar. On balance I am plumping for Freixas but am interested to hear other views! The story itself is exciting and dramatic (if very stereotyped in its portrayal of made-up South American countries) – not quite long enough, though, needing a few more twists and turns.

House of Phantoms

“The Girl from Tibet”, drawn by John Armstrong, is slicker than his later style. There is little dramatic tension though, because the title lead is clearly a bit of a supergirl who can do anything, so when she defeats the rather mimsy villain, it comes as not much of a surprise.

The Girl From Tibet

Here are some other pages from the Book:

Jeannie's Unearthly Twin

“Jeannie’s Unearthly Twin”, drawn (and signed) by Freixas, is very stylish; the story itself is a straightforward humorous ‘magical companion’ story à la “Vanessa From Venus”.

Oh that Statue!

“Oh, That Statue!” is ‘a gay story featuring the family at Surprise Corner’ – I understand  “Surprise Corner” to have been a regular in June. I can’t quite identify the artist, who does however look familiar – can anyone help? (I haven’t scanned a page of “Long-Legged Peg”, where again the artist looks familiar – I guess that again this might be a regular in the main comic and so might also be identifiable by others.)

Cleo and the Cat

The last text story, “Cleo and the Cat”, is rather fun – I was surprised too to see more than one named prose story writer (normally it seems as if the only named writer is Linda O’Byrne, who I have developed something of a soft spot for). This is illustrated by Phil Townsend – it’s not always all that easy to be sure who the illustrator is when it is finished quite differently from the pen-and-ink linework we are used to seeing in people’s comics, but the girl’s figure in the page shown above is unmistakeably Townsend. I have attributed this Book’s cover to Townsend too; that is harder to be sure about as I haven’t seen much painted full-colour artwork of his, but his faces are quite distinctive and I feel on reasonably good ground. (I’m always happy for further input though of course!)

Sam and Suki Save The Day

And finally, “Sam and Suki Save The Day” is by Robert MacGillivray, in a slightly less cartoony style than he used for “Desert Island Daisy” in Jinty some years later. He is an artist I am coming to appreciate more as I see a wider range of his styles.

So, what similarities and dissimilarities do I see in this June Book, compared to Jinty? Clearly there is an overlap between these final years of June and the first year of Jinty in terms of artists (MacGillivray, Townsend, Freixas). The Jinty Annuals ongoing also included a lot of material reprinted from June, often stories drawn by John Armstrong who also features in this Book; and writer Linda O’Byrne is clearly a carry-over from June too, though presumably writing new material for each Jinty Annual [edited to add – not sure why I said this last bit as Linda O’Byrne is not in either of my June Annuals!]. This gives the June book quite a similar feel superficially to the usual Jinty Annual. I think it’s also not too far-fetched to point to the logo for the two titles, which at least at this point in June’s evolution are quite similar, both featuring a golden-yellow colour and a slightly italic font.

I can see a few differences in approach, though. For one thing, June has a more old-fashioned feeling; the schoolgirls are uniformed, seemingly at fee-paying schools, denizens of that ‘school story’ world. Villains are self-interested not cruel, and lives are hardly ever at risk. One devotee of June on the Comics UK Forum would probably call this a nice change from the ‘depressing’ world of Tammy and early Jinty, so of course it all depends on your taste! (Having said this, of course June did include some stories of this ilk, as some were reprinted in later Jinty Annuals – “She Couldn’t Remember!” in the 1981 Annual being a particularly good example.)

For another, without doing a detailed comparison, it seems to me that this June Book is probably an item with rather higher production values than the typical Jinty Annual. The majority of the pages are printed in two or more colours, though the artwork itself is not always coloured (an extra step of work is required for this of course, as well as potentially more expensive printing). Comics pages such as “The Girl From Tibet” are produced in what looks like a line-and-wash technique, which again I think is likely to mean more expensive printing techniques for those pages. More of the writers are credited; this may or may not be associated with higher costs, but clearly they are ‘names’ that are worth printing, either because the agent for that writer has negotiated that, or because they are deemed sufficiently well-known to be worth it. And finally, nothing in this Book seems to be obviously reprinted from earlier publications; it has all been produced for an annual in this printing format, and looks like it is all original material. This is quite a big difference from the typical Jinty annual of latter times.

The Best of 70s Girls’ Comics Annual

(Thanks to Lew Stringer for alerting me to this new annual of IPC Fleetway girls comics material: it is sold exclusively in Sainsbury so there is little information on the internet about it.)

Best of 70s Girls Comics Annual

Contents:

  • Jokes: Fun Spot and Fun Time
  • Bella at the Bar (artist John Armstrong)
  • At the Midnight Hour (text story)
  • Fancy Dressing Up? (feature)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Good news for the birthday girl! (feature)
  • The Strange Story: Called to Save
  • Jokes: Fun Time
  • Friend of Alison (text story)
  • See Yourself – In Your True Colours (feature)
  • Sally Was A Cat
  • Tammy Jokes
  • How To Make Baubles, Bangles, & Beads (craft feature)
  • Beattie Beats ‘Em All! (artist John Armstrong)
  • Holly Takes The Plunge! (text story)
  • Beauty From The Fridge (feature)
  • No Tears For Molly (writer Maureen Spurgeon, artist Tony Thewenetti)
  • Bag of Tricks! (craft feature)
  • Crocodile, Crocodile! More Fun With Minna From Mars (artist Colin Merritt)
  • Put Your Cards On The Table! (feature)
  • The Osmonds (pin-up)
  • Jokes: Fun Spot and Five More Fun Spots

As a reader of British girls’ comics, overall I think this is reasonably well-balanced as a selection; I’m not that fond of text stories generally but they do give you something chewy to go back and read once you’ve devoured the comics (always my primary focus), and it includes a reasonable range of kinds of comic story too, as well as some of the usual kinds of features. As a particular fan of Jinty, with my Jinty-blinkers on, I was pretty disappointed with how little material from ‘my’ title showed up in this annual – the cover image is from the Jinty annual of 1975, and it is possible that some of the jokes or features are taken from an issue that I don’t recall, but none of the stories do*. Fans of Tammy will find more in it that they remember.

That aside, it is a publication that I will be happy to share with my young daughter even if it doesn’t trip the nostalgia-button that the publishers may have been expecting. It’s not that large a book – 72 pages is thinner than the usual run of annuals – but it has some fun items to look through with her, without me needing to trust fragile forty-year-old paper to her tender mercies.

* Edited to add: “Minna From Mars” is taken from the 1976 Jinty Annual, but there is no representation of any of the stories from the regular Jinty weekly issues.