Tag Archives: Diane Gabbot

Tammy 12 August 1978

Cover artist: John Richardson

Bella (artist John Armstrong)

Bessie Bunter (artist Arthur Martin)

Vision of Vanity Fayre (artist Mario Capaldi) – final episode

Maggie’s Menagerie (artist Tony Coleman)

Double – or Nothing! (artist Diana Gabbot(t))

The Juicy Mackerel (artist Peter Wilkes) – Strange Story

Wee Sue (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)

A Bus in the Family (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)

Heraldry – Edie’s Hobbyhorse

Now we come to 1978 in our August Tammy month round, with one of my favourite Tammy covers. 

“Your future’s assured” says the cover, but not for Bella in introducing gymnastics to Port Tago, Australia. The way things are going, she must have wondered if she should have stayed home. And now, just when things finally seem to be looking up, an enemy strikes. They tried to sabotage Bella’s public demonstration, and now they’ve sent her a death threat, telling her to get out of Port Tago, or else! 

Currently, there is no Molly Mills (she returns in the following issue), which was a definite change after her artist changed from Tony Thewenetti to Douglas Perry. In the Thewenetti run, Molly appeared without pause from the first issue of Tammy to the end of Thewenetti’s run on 20 August 1977. But when Perry took over on 31 December 1977, Molly took more breaks until the end of her run in 1981 (barring her spot appearances in the “Old Friends” strip in 1982). This would have given some relief to the readers who did not like her so much and allowed more room for serials. 

In the Strange Story, you wouldn’t think a fish could help a man escape? It does when he gets pressganged and his twin sister comes to the rescue after sensing his danger through the twin link. 

Tony Coleman is drawing his second story for Tammy. Maggie Crown is living on her gran’s barge while her parents are away. Animal-loving Maggie is accumulating a secret hoard of stray animals on the barge – what a thing to hide on a barge! As gran is no animal lover, the fur will really fly if she finds out, and that can only be a matter of time.

“Vision of Vanity Fayre” concludes, and a TV production crew are free to carry on with the shoot of the life of a famous authoress without interference from the monstrous conduct of the authoress, which was threatening to destroy it. It turns out she was an imposter (surprise, surprise!) who was holding the real authoress a virtual prisoner while profiteering from her fame. And talking of TV, it leads to trouble for Bessie this week, who ends up under punishment again.

As nobody will partner with Kate Winter because of her terrible temper, she has roped Pam Doggett into a doubles team with her. This week they go into action, but Pam’s insufficient training and constant arguing with Kate are having predictable results. At least someone sees Pam does have potential as a tennis player, but with the way things are going, would Pam be better off in the singles?

Rosie Banks’ father is taking her class on a continental tour in the bus he’s just bought. Things aren’t going smoothly, sometimes in hilarious ways, sometimes in more serious ones. This week it’s really serious, as the brakes suddenly fail, and at the worst possible location – the Pyrenees. Adding to the seriousness is the mystery of why the previous owner, Dodger Wilkins, is so determined to get it back and sent his flunky after it. Is there more to the bus than meets the eye? At least Rose is alerted to his shadowing this week.

Sue enters a sponsored cycle race, but there is a cheat pulling dirty tricks on her. Sue decides to pull her own trick on the cheat, who ends up taking a well-deserved dunking. 

Tammy & Misty 21/28 June 1980

Cover artist: John Richardson

Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)

Shadows on the Wall – Strange Story from the Mists

Tina’s Telly Mum (artist Giorgio Giorgetti, writer Alison Christie) – first episode

Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)

The Sea Witches (Mario Capaldi)

Lucky By Name (artist Julian Vivas)

Peggy in the Middle (artist Tony Coleman)

Edie and Miss T (artist Joe Collins)

Meet the Tammy Gymnast of the Month – Feature

Donna Ducks Out (artist Diane Gabbot(t))

Now we come to 1980 in our Tammy June month round. This particular June issue is unusual for having a double date. All IPC titles that week had it for some reason. 

It’s been six months since Misty merged with Tammy. The merger changed the Tammy logo from having daisy flowers to solid letters. The Misty merger was a bit disappointing because Misty was underrepresented in the merger. Tammy had a higher ratio of content all the way through. Much of the problem must have been with Misty herself. She had no regulars except Miss T and Misty herself, and regulars are vital for carrying on in a merger. Also, Misty’s ratio of serials was not very high, while her number of complete stories was way too vast. Also, her stories used 4-page spreads while her sister comics used three, which also reduced the space for more serials to run. A lower ratio of complete stories, enabling more room for serials, would have created a better balance. It would have also created more scope for something from Misty’s serials to turn into a regular, or for a regular strip to have been created. Some of the spooky stories that appeared during the merger, such as “The Sea Witches”, do give the impression they were originally scripted for Misty. Unfortunately, if Misty was not writing that many serials to begin with, not many of them could be published in the merger. The ratio of Tammy serials was definitely higher than Misty’s in the merger. Misty made her presence felt more in the Strange Stories – now called Strange Stories from the Mists, and she alternated with the Storyteller as the presenter. 

Meanwhile, Tammy has a higher number of serials running, as she is not running her regulars so much. This was another key change when Misty joined. The ever-popular Bella has to continue of course, and Sue is still a weekly regular, but Bessie is now appearing off and on, and Molly is on hiatus. 

In the serials, “The Sea Witches” are striking back at an American air base, which is disturbing nesting grounds, and how far they will go is increasingly worrying. “Peggy in the Middle” is a bold move in exploring how messy divorce and custody battles can be. “Lucky By Name” reaches its climax, with Lucky running off with her beloved pony in the mistaken belief her father will sell him. “Donna Ducks Out” is now on its penultimate episode. A bathroom duck gives Donna the power to swim, but now it has been damaged. The final episode will clearly tell if Donna can now sink or swim without the duck. A new story, “Tina’s Telly Mum”, starts. Tina Mason persuades her recently widowed mother to take a glamorous TV announcer job to distract herself from grief. Unfortunately, there are ominous signs Tina is going to regret this. She has already been left behind as her mother leaves for her new job, and a most unsuitable woman has been put in charge of her – the sort that has us instantly thinking, “What the hell was Mum thinking when she hired her?”

Bella is making a bid for the Moscow Olympics, but got herself stranded in the US after winning a qualifying event and then lost her sponsorship. Now it’s becoming even more difficult to keep up her gymnastics, much less get to Moscow. Bella missed out on competing in the Olympics once before, and now history is threatening to repeat itself. Bella is also making her influence keenly felt in Tammy’s latest competition, “Meet the Tammy Gymnast of the Month”.

Tammy 9 June 1979

Cover artist: John Armstrong

Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)

The Happiest Days (artist Mario Capaldi) – first episode

100 Tammy Leotards To Be Won! – Contest 

Get Your Skates On, Katie (artist Diane Gabbot(t))

Karina and Khan (artist Jordi Franch)

Bessie Bunter (artist Arthur Martin)

Molly Mills and the Grim Governess (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

Wee Sue (artist Mike White)

The Peasant’s Prophesy (sic) (artist Carlos Freixas) – Strange Story

The Wolf at Our Door (artist Bob Harvey)

In our previous entry we discussed how Bella had become so powerful in Tammy that she sometimes ran Bella-inspired competitions. Here is another case, which appeared in 1979. Tammy is running a Bella-inspired contest with 100 Tammy leotards up for grabs. It’s a “spot the difference” contest, using a panel taken from the first episode of Bella’s current story. Also, Tammy announces that over the next four issues she will be running a pull-out Bella poster in four parts.  

And the Bella story itself? It’s one of Bella’s grimmest. It’s another unjust public disgrace story. After a complicated misunderstanding she can’t prove, Bella is wrongly convicted and sent to a remand home. Now she’s discovered the sensationalist treatment she’s getting from the press over it, and it’s really getting to her. 

Bessie Bunter dream sequences sometimes seem to be as thought-provoking as they are funny. This week, pollution is the theme. The episode has been posted up for you to judge how prescient it was in today’s climate (or might be in the future). 

After the status quo at Stanton Hall was restored to the Molly strip in 1978, there was a definite change. The excesses with Pickering were toned down, and the beatings and torture devices (particularly the lake, the stocks and the dungeon) were dropped, but he still remained the bully butler. In Molly’s latest story, Mistress Clare’s new governess is Pickering in female form. In fact, the servants suspect she’s Pickering’s secret wife! Heh, heh, unlikely, but they ought to get married – they’re a perfect match!

The new story, “The Happiest Days”, is an evil influence story with a difference. It could have been done the usual creepy way, but instead it’s done the funny way. Great Aunt Aggie’s frightful portrait casts such a pall over the school she founded that everyone is in a constant state of depression and weeping (yet they still make us laugh). Her descendant, Sunny Smyles, is the only one immune. Once Sunny realises what’s going on, it’s war between her and her grim ancestor, with sobriety versus cheerfulness.

Bob Harvey artwork began to appear in Tammy in 1978 with the Strange Stories, but now Harvey is drawing a serial, “The Wolf at Our Door”, a story that strongly hints the wolf is not as extinct in Britain as people think. A pack appears to have survived in a pocket environment, and it is threatening a budding kennel business. Bob Harvey artwork would become regular in Tammy when “Pam of Pond Hill” came over from Jinty near the end of 1981.

“Karina and Khan” brings some Jordi Franch artwork to Tammy. It’s essentially a horse story, with Karina fighting all odds to stay with her beloved horse, Khan, but the storyline also brings a dash of politics and the Iron Curtain with it. 

A magic pair of skates gives Katie the power to ice skate, as previous owner Katrina Freeman’s talent is channelling through her. Now, when the protagonist gains talent this way (which could be considered a form of cheating), the ending will have to show if she has gained enough from the power to do fine on her own, the power has brought out the talent she had all along and just needed confidence, or she has to quit because her talent is not genuine. A power that gives the protagonist the talent she wants is never allowed to last on a permanent basis.

Wee Sue is one strip that gets the most rotation of artwork in Tammy, and we don’t mind as she is one strip that can work well with a variety of artists who can do humour. Her current artist is Mike White. 

Carlos Freixas never drew a serial for Tammy, but his artwork appeared in the Strange Stories and, later on, in complete stories. This week he draws a Strange Story set in the French Revolution. The Duvalles rule their estate in a humane manner (unlike most French aristocrats), but this does not make them exempt from the threat of Madame La Guillotine. However, it makes people willing to help them escape, and one gives a prophecy. When the Duvalles flee, it looks like the prophecy can never be fulfilled – except for the strange thing that happened just before they did so.

Tammy 10 June 1978

Cover artist: John Richardson

Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)

Prince of the Wild (artist Veronica Weir) – first episode

Betta to Lose (artist Tony Coleman)

A Champion Time for All! – Results of Bella Gymnastics Competition

Down to Earth Blairs (artist José Casanovas)

Bessie Bunter

Molly Mills (artist Douglas Perry)

The Witch Wind (artist Hugo D’Adderio) – Strange Story

Wee Sue (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)

Circus of the Damned (artist Diane Gabbot(t))

Fun at Your Summer Fete (artist Joe Collins, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – feature 

For the 1978 Tammy issue in our Tammy June month round, here is a June Tammy issue with a cover that is sure to make you smile. 

Tammy posts the results of a Bella-inspired competition. Bella featured in several Tammy competitions, a four-part pull-out poster and even her own book, which showed how powerful she had become. This competition shows she was being used to help aspiring gymnasts as well. 

The new story, “Prince of the Wild”, is Veronica Weir’s first and only serial for Tammy. Her artwork was seen more often in Tammy’s Strange Stories and complete stories. 

“Betta to Lose” has brought Tony Coleman artwork to Tammy, and Coleman was a regular artist on the Tammy team right up until her final year in 1984. 

Douglas Perry has taken over the Molly Mills artwork since Molly’s return in December 1977. Sometimes I wonder if one reason why Molly was put on hiatus in 1977 and her fate put into the hands of readers was her original artist, Tony Thewenetti, no longer continuing with her for some reason. The change in artist does suggest something like this might have happened. 

The structure of the Molly Mills writing has changed completely. The story that sent her on hiatus was a tantalising cliff-hanger where Pickering frames her for theft, forcing her to go on the run from the law. Since her return, it’s been nothing but life as an unjustly wanted fugitive, and her stories are in continuous serial format. Molly’s now back at Stanton Hall, which is now under a new owner who seems to be something of a fugitive herself. An American gangster is on her tail, and now he’s caught up and holding Molly and the other servants hostage! We suspect this is all part of the build-up to the resolution of Molly’s frameup.

Bella’s latest story has taken her to Australia, as a coach to introduce gymnastics to an Australian town. Even before Bella started, things were not off to a good start (the man who hired her regrets his offer, which he made without thinking), and her arrival got delayed as well. Now she’s finally made it, she’s told the job is no longer available. And Bella has a long track record of getting stranded in foreign countries. Is it going to happen again? 

Wee Sue’s latest artist is Hugh Thornton-Jones, and a continuity problem has struck. In earlier years Miss Bigger’s first name was given as Lillian, but this episode says it is Amelia, and it sticks.

Hugh D’Adderio artwork featured strongly in the Tammy Strange Stories, particularly with period settings ranging from ancient Babylon to Victorian England, as well as modern times. This week it is Elizabethan England, with a Strange Story on how witchcraft (indirectly but foretold) defeated the Spanish Armada.

Down to Earth Blairs was obviously inspired by “The Good Life”, and proved so popular that its sequel is now running. No doubt the ever-popular José Casanovas artwork sealed its success. In the original, Betsy Blair had a hard time adapting to self-sufficiency after her father’s redundancy drove the family to it. Now she accepts and enjoys it, and her sequel now follows “The Good Life” format of handling snobby neighbours and coming up with new forms of self-sufficiency and money-making, some of which don’t always go as expected.

“Circus of the Damned” is a welcome return to Tammy’s old days of dark stories laden with misery and cruelty, which now seem to have faded. A whole circus is enslaved by a fanatical circus boss who uses blackmail, animal abuse, kidnapping, and possibly murder to create the greatest show on earth. One of his tactics is forcing trapeze artists to leap over deadly snakes without a safety net.

Tammy 28 February 1976

Cover artist John Richardson

Sarah in the Shadows – (artist Mario Capaldi)

Sit It Out, Sheri – (artist John Armstrong)

The Spanish Knight (artist Manuel Benet) – The Strange Story

Pancake Recipes – feature 

Claire’s Airs and Graces – artist Hugh Thornton-Jones

Bessie Bunter

Molly Mills and the Aviator – artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon

Wee Sue – artist John Armstrong

The Fairground of Fear – artist Diane Gabbot(t)

A Lead Through Twilight – (artist Douglas Perry)

Pancake Fun Time

In honour of Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day, we bring you a Tammy that commemorated it. The Cover Girls start things off. Oh dear, talk about a burnt offering. Inside, Tammy provides recipes for pancakes. Let us hope that anyone who tried the recipes had better luck than little sis on the cover. Tammy finishes off Pancake Tuesday with a page of pancake jokes on the back cover. They are probably reprinted from some other Pancake Tuesday issue. 

Over the previous three issues, Tammy had progressively started five new stories in honour of her fifth birthday issue. But that’s over now, and all five stories are up and running.

The first to open was “Sarah in the Shadows”. Sarah is trying to raise the money to get her uncle out of debtor’s prison, but she is fast learning that greedy types, particularly the debt prison governor, are making as much money as they can out of her and any money she tries to raise. This is giving her no chance at all to clear the debt. We get the feeling that even if Sarah does clear the debt, her uncle will never be free with that prison governor around.

Starting in the same issue was “A Lead Through Twilight”. Carol is trying to conceal that her sight is failing because she is terrified her sourpuss Uncle Matt will pack her off as useless. Really, how long can you hide a thing like that? And how long can Carol hide the stray dog, Twilight, who she is using as a guide dog, from Uncle Matt, who hates dogs? Not long. People have already detected both secrets, and we’re only four episodes in. 

The next issue started the next two stories, “Sit it Out, Sheri” and “The Fairground of Fear”.

In the former, Sheri’s having problems with her see-sawing confidence from the strange chair she has acquired. It’s swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other, from arrogance to her old wallflower self who couldn’t say boo to a goose. And now her horrible stepmother is trying to sell the chair off. Sheri managed to stall the buyer this time, but he’ll be back. 

In the latter, the snobbish Sir Whitland is out to get rid of the fair after Julie has an accident there, and he sends in a magistrate to do the job. But the Fairground of Fear won’t be closed down so easily with that creepy clown around, who traps the magistrate in a terrifying hall of mirrors! 

“Claire’s Airs and Graces” was the last of the five, starting in the previous issue. It was the only serial Hugh Thornton-Jones drew for Tammy. His artwork for Tammy was seen more often in Wee Sue later on, along with some Strange stories and one complete story (the only Hugh Thornton-Jones story to receive a credit during Tammy’s credits run, which is how we know his name). Claire is pretending at her new school that she comes from a posh background when in fact her parents have suddenly gone down in the world. But close calls, complications and prices to pay for the sham are already starting. 

A snooty type, Sylvia Hill, is causing trouble in Wee Sue when the class is on holiday at Craigmore Sports Centre. As with Claire, it turns out Sylvia is living a lie and fooling the other girls into thinking she’s a posh girl. Sue figures Sylvia out but graciously helps her to put things right. Incidentally, the episode gives Wee Sue’s height as four feet, assuming it’s not a figure of speech. 

In Bessie Bunter, Cook is having problems with a new soup tureen and all food’s on hold until she works out what. The girls have to cook their own, and Bessie is demonstrating that she is brilliant at eating food but terrible at cooking it! Nobody realises it’s due to a faulty gardening syringe, which accidentally squirted plant food into the tureen. 

In the Strange Story, a strange Spanish knight helps Maria Fernandez and her family out of financial trouble and gruelling jobs by leading her to a find of Spanish coins. But who was the knight, once Maria establishes it’s not her brother playing Don Quixote again?

Lord Stanton’s niece Serena is an aviatrix who is brilliant at landing – in trouble. This time she’s got Molly and herself locked up by a nasty bloke called Arnold Wharton, who is very interested in her plane. Charlie manages to get Molly out, but they run into more trouble while getting away. Meanwhile, Wharton still has Serena. There is also something very odd about him, and it’s increasingly suspicious.  

Tammy 5 February 1977

Cover artist: John Richardson

Babe at St Wood’s – artist José Casanovas

Towne in the Country – Mario Capaldi

Curtains for Cathy (final episode) – artist Douglas Perry

Call of the Sea (The Strange Story) – artist unknown

Bessie Bunter

Molly Mills and the Economy Drive (first episode) – artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon

Nightmare at Grimm Fen (final episode) – artist Diane Gabbot(t)

Edie the Ed’s Niece – artist Joe Collins

Wee Sue – artist John Richardson

Katie on Thin Ice – artist John Armstrong

The cover features a common running gag in the Cover Girl run: being the first to read the issue and be able to finish it, and sneaky attempts from the other to grab the issue or sneak a peek. 

Two stories finish this week, opening up space for the next stories in the New Year’s lineup. The curtains come down on the person who’s been trying to drive Cathy off the stage, who turns out to be her own mother. It seems she was one of those misguided parents who doesn’t want their offspring pursuing the course of their dreams because it was disastrous for themselves. Dad quietly deals with Mum, telling her that all she’s done is prove Cathy’s determination to pursue the theatre. In “Nightmare at Grimm Fen”, the evil Robert le Mal is destroyed by the very thing that brought him back in the first place – the church brass of him. 

This week’s Wee Sue story is a lesson in not leaving things too long, as this can leave things too late. Sue meets an old lady who left it too late to approach an old friend over a squabble, and now there’s no way to know if things are forgiven. Sue decides on a little white lie to put the old lady’s mind at rest, but she is confident it is the message her old friend would have given if she had been able to.

Babe and friends go to a restaurant, but a pickpocket swipes their purse, leaving them to wash up to pay for their meal. But of course the pickpocket has made a big mistake in crossing a gangster’s daughter and gets his just desserts – literally.

In “Towne in the Country”, Val has a new companion, Clarissa Keene, in her quest to find her father. But Clarissa is the dead opposite of Val in many ways: arrogant, spoiled, hard on animals, and the original trophy hunter. Talk about the odd couple. This is going to be some fellowship!

In the Strange Story, two Victorian children help a wheelchair-bound girl who is on the run from a cruel institution. Okay, but what’s so strange about that? The children find out when they bring the girl to the coast where she was originally picked up. 

Bessie is hearing odd remarks about the Fish and Chips, the White Mice, the Gorillas and the Strawberry Jam. After a series of misunderstandings and hijinks she finds out they’re all the names of pop groups Court House is taking care of after they got flooded out, but everything ends happily. 

In the new Molly Mills story, Pickering is afraid for his job because Lord Stanton is facing money problems, so he is going to start an economy drive at Stanton Hall. Knowing bully butler Pickering, this does not bold well for Molly and the other servants. 

Mrs Winter forces Katie to help raid a treasure ship. But it goes badly wrong and Katie’s friend Susie has been caught. How can Katie get Susie out of this one?

Tammy 8 January 1977

Cover artist: John Richardson

Babe at St Wood’s – artist José Casanovas

Towne in the Country – Mario Capaldi

Curtains for Cathy – artist Douglas Perry

The Joker’s Last Laugh (The Strange Story) – artist Hugo D’Adderio

Bessie Bunter

Molly Mills and the Gipsy Gymnast (first episode) – artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon

Nightmare at Grimm Fen – artist Diane Gabbot(t)

Wee Sue – artist John Johnston?

Katie on Thin Ice (first episode) – artist John Armstrong

This is one of my favourite Tammy covers. There’s also a dash of panto, which ties in with the Christmas theme from last month. Also tying in with the panto/Christmas theme is this week’s Bessie Bunter story, where Bessie plays fairy godmother to a needy girl (below). This is one of my favourite Bessie stories.

Tammy’s first new story for 1977 is “Katie on Thin Ice”. It’s beautifully drawn by John Armstrong, who proves with this story that he can handle historical period stories and ice skating as adroitly as the Bella strip. Katie Williams is looking forward to seeing her father return from the Battle of Waterloo – only to find he died in it. She’s now an orphan, with nothing but the ice skates and some money he bequeathed her. But we all know what happens to 19th century protagonists in girls’ comics who suddenly find themselves all alone in the world – they jump from the frying pan into the fire by falling foul of a villainous 19th century type. In this case it’s a female Fagin named Mrs Winter, who starts blackmailing Katie into using her ice skates for crime. 

Bella is on New Year break, but Molly looks after the gymnastics theme in her new story. The staff are going to have a sports day against staff another establishment, but they lack a decent gymnast. Then Molly finds one among the local gipsies camping nearby. But will Pickering be persuaded to give the gipsy girl a chance?

In “Nightmare at Grimm Fen”, Robert le Mal hits the airwaves with his evil influence. He even times it with the football results to get plenty of viewers to watch his broadcast and become instant followers. Now they’ve turned into ugly mobs ready to attack anyone who is not paying him homage. Now that’s pretty crafty use of 20th century technology for a medieval knight!

Wee Sue’s story this week is a lion-taming one. Satan the lion is acting strangely. His behaviour rings a bell with Sue, but she can’t remember why – until Miss Bigger’s trademark gnashers jog her memory. Then it’s an emergency dash to the circus to save a lion tamer from a lion with toothache!

In “Towne in the Country” the camel train across the Sahara continues but is striking serious problems. Their first oasis is dry, two camels get shot and are only saved when Val treats them, and now a sandstorm strikes. Instead of waiting it out like the others, Val takes off into the sandstorm to find one of the camels she treated, and now she’s lost in the storm.

It’s midnight feast time at Babe at St Wood’s, but the sneaky snobs tip off the prefects and the feast gets confiscated. Babe applies her gangster skills to get their teacher to re-confiscate the food for a butterfly walk. So the girls get the food after all, and Babe gives the snobs a very grassy revenge for grassing – a ton of turf dumped all over them. 

Whoever is trying to drive Cathy away from the theatre is really getting to her now. Cathy is so freaked out she almost runs away, and when she decides to return, she suddenly finds blood all over her face and hands. How did that happen?

In the Strange Story, Sheila laughs at the idea of ghosts. So she refuses to be put off by rumours that a local inn is haunted. A man at the inn warns her not to laugh at things just because science hasn’t proved their existence, and challenges her to enter the haunted room at midnight. Still scoffing at ghosts, Sheila accepts. Wow, where is this challenge going to end up, especially when it’s a Strange Story?

Nightmare at Grimm Fen (also the Face of Fear) (1976-1977)

Sample Images (as The Face of Fear, published 29 November 1975)

Published: Tammy 27 November 1976 to 5 February 1977. Plus a Strange Story prologue, “The Face of Fear”, 29 November 1975.

Episodes: 11, plus Strange Story episode

Artist: Diane Gabbot(t)

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: None known

It’s Halloween season, so it’s time to bring out the entries on supernatural stories and covers. Leading off the lineup is this Tammy offering from Diane Gabbot(t), not just because it is a spooky story but also because it has one of the oddest publication histories ever seen in girls comics. It is very odd indeed, because what should have been the first episode of this story was instead published as a Strange Story, “The Face of Fear” (above). “The Face of Fear” appeared in Tammy on 29 November 1975, exactly one year before the serial itself began. It’s not a self-contained story, which Strange Stories usually were. Nor is it a Strange Story mini-serial, which sometimes appeared in Tammy. Strange Stories hadn’t been used that way before in Tammy or since then. Whatever was behind this aberration remains a one-off mystery that’s even stranger than a Strange Story.

Plot

(As) The Face of Fear

Patty and Mark Stephens are enthusiastic brass rubbers. At Grimm Fen, Grimmford, they go to a 12th century church, St. Frideswide’s, in search of brass rubbings. Inside the church they make a rubbing of an ominous-looking brass of a Frenchman named Robert le Mal (Robert the Evil One). They find it odd that he’s depicted as a skeletal figure wrapped in a shroud. His inscription reads: “When I wake up once more – watch out.” As soon as they finish the rubbing of Robert le Mal it gets hit by lightning and an extremely terrible storm blows up from nowhere. As they struggle to make their way back home in the storm, they hear a strange flapping sound. Back home, Dad says he saw a huge flapping figure following them. 

Next page…

Tammy and Misty 5 July 1980

Cover artist: John Richardson

Bella (artist John Armstrong)

Donna Ducks Out (artist Diane Gabbot(t)) – final episode

Tina’s Telly Mum (artist Giorgio Giorgetti, writer Alison Christie)

The Sea Witches (artist Mario Capaldi)

Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)

Something in the Cellar (artist Tony Coleman) – Strange Story from the Mists in text

Peggy in the Middle (artist Tony Coleman)

Lucky by Name (artist Julian Vivas)

The Cover Girls are on a trip to the safari park, and for once the older girl has an upper hand over the younger one, with the aid of the monkeys. The monkey on the roof of the vehicle sure looks like he’s poking the Tammy logo with that stick!

Bella is trying to make her way to the Moscow Olympics, but her efforts aren’t meeting with much more success than her 1976 bid for the Olympics. She has got stranded (again), this time in the US. She has no way to get to Moscow or back to Britain, no equipment to train on, no money, and no coach. She has taken a job to help raise funds, but it’s in rhythmic gymnastics, which is not helping her usual gymnastics – and she’s entered a gymnastics tournament.

We sense there’s going to be a raft of new stories starting soon. One story finishes, one is about to, and another is reaching its climax. 

Donna Ducks Out is the one to end this week. A bathroom duck has somehow given Donna Desmond the power to swim, but she’s so dependent on the toy that she gets shot by duck hunters while trying to retrieve it when it is taken on holiday, and the duck has taken damage too. In this sorry state, she has to win a swimming championship with a sinking duck. It’s never quite clear whether the duck actually gave Donna the power to swim or just the confidence to do so, but ultimately she finds she no longer needs the duck and retains her ability to swim. The duck ends up in the hands of another non-swimmer who feels the same confidence rising. Donna will be replaced next week by the return of Molly Mills, who has been absent from the merger until now.

Lucky By Name is the one on its penultimate episode. Lucky Starr has run away with her beloved pony Fortune in the mistaken belief her father will sell him because of money troubles. Of course it doesn’t take long for the police to catch up, but there’s a bonus – it all leads to them foiling a couple of robbers and recovering stolen loot. Hmm, we smell a reward coming up that will solve everything!

The Sea Witches is reaching its climax. It looks like the witches have had enough of the American air-base interfering with their nesting grounds and they’re going to bring out their big guns. That can only mean something really bad now. Katie, the only one trying to help the situation, is being sent away at this crucial point, but we know she’ll be back to stop the witches somehow.

Tina’s Telly Mum is on part two. Tina Mason persuaded her grieving mother to take a television announcer job to take her mind off things, but now she’s beginning to regret it because it’s backfiring on her. Mum’s now too wrapped up in her job to think of anything else – including Tina, who’s been left behind, being neglected and missing Mum so much. Worse, Mum left the wrong person in charge of Tina: a nasty old bat who’s deliberately coming in between everything Tina has left of her mother or any respite Tina tries to seek. She even makes Tina do housework that she is being paid to do herself. What a cheek!

By popular demand, the Tammy & Misty merger revived the spooky text stories that Misty used to run, but it didn’t seem to last long. This week’s one is “Something in the Cellar”, about a cellar haunted by an Alsatian that got suffocated by a delivery of coal, poor thing. It leaves the babysitter so spooked she’s never going to babysit at that house again.

Peggy in the Middle is caught in a custody battle between her mother and her father and his new wife Mitzi. Peggy and Mum suspect they’re being watched as part of the custody battle, but discover the watchers were in fact burglars waiting for their moment to strike – and the burglars not only rob the place but totally trash it as well!

Miss Bigger reveals some Bigger family history in this week’s Wee Sue story. We learn the Bigger women (“dotty old birds”, “a rogue’s gallery” go Sue’s classmates) were ones for big ideas such as cycling up Mt Everest and civilising the American Indian nation (that one looks like it got a tomahawk in the head from behind). But their ideas clearly lacked common sense and invariably failed – just like the measures Miss Bigger takes to economise at school this week. Predictably, it’s all at the expense of the girls, but Miss Bigger loses out in the end, and Wee Sue puts things right.

Tammy 1 January 1977

Cover artist: John Richardson

Babe at St. Woods (artist José Casanovas)

Towne in the Country (artist Mario Capaldi)

Curtains for Cathy (artist Douglas Perry)

The First-Footer – Strange Story (artist John Armstrong)

Edit the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)

Bessie Bunter

Molly Mills and the Season of Goodwill (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – final episode

Nightmare at Grimm Fen (artist Diana Gabbot(t))

Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)

Olympia Jones (artist Eduardo Feito, writer Anne Digby) – final episode

Welcome to our first entry for 2021! And there’s no better way to begin than with a New Year’s issue from the past.

The Tammy annual was often a running gag at Christmas/New Year time during the Cover Girl era, and this cover is no exception. The advantage of the Cover Girls and regulars such as Bessie and Sue meant Tammy could make in-jokes about the Tammy annual, to the amusement of readers. 

Wee Sue, Edie, Bessie and the Storyteller all have New Year-themed stories as well. Miss Bigger finds bats in the belfry (literally) when she’s in charge of ringing in the New Year. Later, Sue needs the bells for more than ringing in the New Year – saving juniors from a nasty accident! Edie makes 16 New Year resolutions, and even she knows she won’t keep them all. Bessie’s class dress up in fairy tale costumes for a New Year party, with Bessie as Humpty Dumpty. In the Strange Story, Nina Prentice scoffs at superstitions and fortune-telling but is left wondering after something strange happens with the first-footer custom for New Year. The happy ending of Molly’s “Season of Goodwill” story with Lord Stanton willing to save the children’s home from closure rounds it off nicely as well.

Cathy is now a full actress, but all she feels is terror because of whoever is trying to drive her off, and they are very nasty about it. Their latest is switching Cathy’s makeup kit with that of her mother Constance, who’s been dead for years. Now, how did her enemy get hold of that anyway? Could it even be a clue to their identity?

Robert Le Mal’s fulfilled his threat to take control of birds, animals and people. But now he goes one further – taking control of power lines! 

Val gets a lift from Spain to Gibraltar. Now she has to cross a desert by camel train. But she doesn’t realise that some male members of the camel train are offended by her not being covered Muslim style and they fear it will incur Allah’s displeasure.

The bossy head prefect, along with the snobs, sends Babe & Co on a hare and hounds paperchase, which crosses paths with a fox hunt. When Babe hides the fox in her bag, it causes everyone to get chased, with the antagonists getting stuck in the mud.

It’s the final episode of “Olympia Jones”, and I used to read it over and over. The villainous Rotts must have been as surprised as they were shocked to meet their Waterloo at Olympia’s trial when they thought they had her stitching all sewn up. But Olympia’s old friend Amanda Fry changes everything with some detective work. Olympia is fully exonerated at the trial and goes on to win her Olympic gold after all. However, there’s no doubt the best scene belongs to lousy Linda Rott the horse-beater when she discovers she’s been caught out (below).

Linda the horse-beater destroys herself in court. From “Olympia Jones”, Tammy 1 January 1977/25 July 1981. Artist Eduardo Feito.

Personally, I’ve always wished the material in the final episode had been expanded into a story arc lasting a few more episodes. There’s so much jam-packed into the episode that so much gets short shrift or omitted, such as the final fate of the Rotts and the full story of Olympia at the Olympics. Maybe Anne Digby intended to develop things further with more episodes but ye Editor wouldn’t agree. 

Replacing Olympia next week is a non-Bella John Armstrong serial, “Katie on Thin Ice”. Bella tended to start in the second quarter and finish late in the year, but 1981 and 1982 were exceptions to this.