Tag Archives: Douglas Perry

Tammy 4 September 1982

Cover artist: Eduardo Feito

A Horse Called September (artist Eduardo Feito, writer Anne Digby)

Saving Grace (artist Juliana Buch, writer Ian Mennell)

Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Malcolm Shaw)

The Grand Finale (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – complete story

Cross on Court (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Gerry Finley-Day)

Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)

A Gran for the Gregorys (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie) – final episode

Slave of the Clock (artist Maria Barrera, writer Jay Over)

It’s September, so it feels appropriate to look back at some September issues, I think. And what better to start things off than with a cover that profiles a story with “September” in the title?

Some publications started life as a girls’ serial. Such is the case with “A Horse Called September”, a serial that reunites the creative team from Tammy horse classic, “Olympia Jones”. The serial was originally published in June as a text story, with the spot illustrations drawn by the ever-popular Shirley Bellwood. In the 1980s writer Anne Digby published it as a book, and Tammy adapted the serial as a picture story serial to tie in with the publication. 

In the story, Mary Wilkins and Anna Dewar have always been best friends on Mr Dewar’s farm. But when Mr Dewar gets big ideas about Anna winning a huge riding championship, things turn sour. Mr Dewar is so obsessed with it that he’s driving September the horse too ruthlessly, and now September’s lost his nerve because of it. Moreover, Anna’s been sent to a top riding school, which is changing her for the worse and she’s neglecting her friendship with Mary.

In “Saving Grace”, Sue Blackstone’s friendship with Grace Clark has also soured because Grace changed for the worse while Sue was abroad, and Sue can’t figure out why. Grace has driven a girl to run away with pony Jackson from the school pets club, which faces closure. Now Grace appears to have snaffled Jackson and her classmates are out for blood.

Bella has lost her memory and Jed and Gert are taking advantage. A runaway named Jenny, who is hiding in the Barlows’ shed, has discovered this and she tells Bella the truth. Will this bring Bella’s memory back?

“The Grand Finale” features an egotistical magician whose conjuring is nowhere near as good as he thinks. As a matter of fact, he’s so awful he doesn’t even maintain his props properly and they just fall apart in front of the spectators. Personally, I find the story as lousy as the magician.

Tammy had a number of stories where protagonists have terrible temper trouble. This time it’s Sarah Cross of “Cross on Court”, who blows her top each week, and each time she does she is left with one huge regret over it.

Pam of Pond Hill and her class have been set a challenge – an adventure course in Aberdaffy to prove their self-reliance – and the reward is a new playing field. The latest test – self-catering, is turning into disaster, but this week they turn things around. But the tests are only part of the difficulties. There is also a secret saboteur at work to destroy things because her father wants the same field for development.

It’s the final episode of “A Gran for the Gregorys”. The creative team (Phil Townsend and Alison Christie) already have a long line of emotional stories from Jinty, but this is the first story to credit the team. Ruth and Charlie Gregory are looking for a gran to adopt because the family badly need one. So far every single prospect has fizzled out and things are getting desperate. The only old lady to appear in the episode, Mrs Crabb, is as crabby as her name suggests. Surely she can’t become the gran – or could she?

In “Slave of the Clock”, Madame Margolia has hypnotised Alison Thorne into doing ballet exercises whenever she hears a clock ticking. This is a (misguided) measure to make Alison more dedicated to ballet, and clearly Madame Margolia did not foresee other consequences – like someone abusing the “power of the clock” as she calls it. This is what Alison’s ballet teacher Miss Dempster proceeds to do so she can become private tutor to a wealthy pupil. Miss Dempster vows this is the only time she will “deliberately use the power”. Oh, yeah? We know Miss Dempster has burning ambitions to get one of her pupils into the international ballet school and thinks the power of the clock could be the way to do it.

Tammy 17 June 1978

Cover artist John Richardson

Bella (artist John Armstrong)

Prince of the Wild (artist Veronica Weir)

Betta to Lose (artist Tony Coleman)

Tuck-In with Tammy (feature)

Down to Earth Blairs (artist José Casanovas)

Bessie Bunter

Molly Mills (artist Douglas Perry)

The Weather-Cock – The Strange Story (artist Angeles Felices)

Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)

Wee Sue (artist Mike White)

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

Edie’s Hobbyhorse – Archery 

It’s Father’s Day where I am, which for some reason is celebrated the first Sunday in September instead of 20 June as it is in Britain. So I have pulled out this Father’s Day issue from Tammy in honour of the occasion. The cover appears to both acknowledge and satirise how adults, including Dads, like to read Tammy and other girls’ comics as much as the girls themselves. 

The Wee Sue story could have used a father theme to celebrate Father’s Day, but the emphasis is more on mothers when Sue and her friends offer to advertise washing powder, with a free supply of a year’s washing powder for their mums in return. Then old Bigger has to interfere, but quick-brained Sue finds a way to turn it to their advantage and make their advertising even better. 

Bella’s new job in Australia has gone badly, especially as Mr Cox, who made the offer, has been trying to back out of it and now says it’s off for good. It doesn’t help that Bella has arrived in a sorry state. Her idea of cleaning herself up is to swim in the sea, clothes and all (really, Bella!). Then the Cox children goad Bella into surfboarding for the first time, which almost gets Bella killed.

In “Prince of the Wild”, Agnes Croft is known for her big imagination, so she is finding hard to get people to believe her when she befriends a wild horse on the moors and names him Prince. We are also introduced to Colonel Powell’s snooty twin daughters, who look like they’re going to be the antagonists of the piece. Agnes finds it very suspicious that the Powell twins are frequenting the moors. Could it have something to do with Prince?

Betta’s latest attempt at self-sabotage (playing with a dud hockey stick) to escape sports slavery at school rebounds on her, and in the end her trick is discovered. The sports mistress has already grown suspicious as it is, so is the game up for Betta? 

In “Down to Earth Blairs”, the Tammy version of “The Good Life”, snooty Mrs Proctor, who is always gunning for the Blairs because she disapproves of their self-sufficient lifestyle, has a flea infestation in her house and blames the Blairs’ animals. However, the animals test negative for fleas when Sanitary Department inspects them, so where did the fleas come from?

The Strange Story features a weather-cock, which “Badger” Browny insists should be left alone when the church committee decide to remove it. He claims it has the power to warn of upcoming accidents by pointing in their direction. Karen, who believes him, follows the direction of the weather-cock, where she discovers a road collapse and saves an oncoming bus from it. After this, the weather-cock is allowed to stay.

It had to happen – Bessie’s so fat she gets stuck in a chair. To make things more awkward, it’s the head’s chair, so if Bessie can’t get unstuck fast, she could be in serious trouble if “Stackers” finds out.

This week’s episode of “Circus of the Damned” focuses on the use – and abuse – of exotic animals in circuses. Their use in the episode comes across as even more distasteful today in an age where using exotic animals in circuses has become un-PC and the move is on to phase it out. Circus owner Yablonski is so obsessed with creating the greatest show on earth that he blackmails his performers into dangerous stunts. This week’s episode shows how the blackmail makes the animals suffer as well. This week they and their trainers actually try to rebel, but Yablonski cracks his whip – literally – to bring them into line. Or has he? At the end of the episode, someone releases the tiger Yablonski mistreated earlier and it’s on the loose. 

The Molly Mills strip has been nothing but crime, fugitives and running from the law ever since arch-enemy Pickering framed Molly for a theft he committed himself. Molly, still on the run from that, has returned to Stanton Hall, now under the ownership of Mrs Powell. But it turns out the money Mrs Powell used to buy the hall came from her half-brother’s bank robbery. He escaped prison and went after her to get the money back. Now he’s caught up and is holding the whole hall hostage to force Mrs Powell to resell the hall to get the money back. Both Molly and maidservant Jodie are trying to smuggle messages for help to the estate agent – without consulting each other. Molly’s worried things could go wrong.

Slaves of the Hot Stove (1975)

Sample Images

Slaves of the Hot Stove 1aSlaves of the Hot Stove 1b

Published: Tammy 22 March to 14 June 1975

Episodes: 13

Artist: Douglas Perry

Writer: Gerry Finley-Day?

Translations/Reprints: None known

Plot

Madam Mange runs “The Hot Stove”, a brand-new and most exclusive restaurant in town. But the cooking is not done in the kitchens the customers see – it’s done in a secret kitchen below, which runs on slave labour. Madam Mange has been kidnapping top cooks (their disappearances have made big news) and makes them slave in the secret kitchen. The slaves also have to do all the cleaning in the restaurant. Madam goes as far as to make them dress in dirty rags (how hygienic) while they work and keeps them chained to the stove – literally. The food is sent up by dumb waiter shaft and Madam communicates with the slaves via stovepipe. When she appears in person, it is through the ventilator shaft. The guards are dumb waiters. In fact, they’re so dumb they don’t speak a word, and they don’t appear to be all that high on the brains department either. But they are frightening because they have the hulks and faces of gorillas – and at times, the temperament of gorillas.

The slaves are all resigned to their fate and believe it is hopeless to escape. Madam is also very cunning at playing head games with them. One is to play on their snobbish pride at being top cooks, such as putting them to such lowly work as floor cleaners that they are only too happy to be in the kitchen. On another occasion she saddles them with a cooking task she sells as “exciting news that offers a challenge to your skills”.

Madam Mange sets out to kidnap a schoolgirl, Carole Cook, who’s the most brilliant in her cookery class, and lures her in by special invitation. But the invitation mistakenly goes to another girl in the class who has almost the same name – Carol Cook. As a result, Madame unwittingly kidnaps the worst pupil in the cookery class. The nearest Carol can manage at serving restaurant-quality dishes is prepping chips in the family chippie. Carol decides not to tell either Madam or the slaves about the mistake, and just muddle through somehow while trying to figure out an escape before Madam finds out.

The police are sent to the restaurant to investigate Carol’s disappearance but don’t do much because Madam distracts them with delicious restaurant food. Carol hears all this through the stovepipe. Later, the slaves are sent out to buy food at the market but are kept attached to Madam with nylon strings. The policeman reappears and Carol recognises his voice. Madam gives him a special invitation to the restaurant. Carol manages to slip a secret message on it written in lemon juice. But nothing more is heard about it in the story, so it must have failed.

Carol can’t do more in the kitchen except chip spuds. She tries to hide it from Madam, but she can only get away with it for so long. Meanwhile, she gets to work on an escape through the ventilator shaft by removing one of the bars and uses a sausage to disguise it. But at the other end, the restaurant floor itself, she finds glass so thick she can’t break through or shout for help through it.

Another slave, Shirley Sands, collapses because she is a diabetic and needs sugar. Carol gives her the sugar she was planning to use for the escape. In return, Shirley covers for Carol’s lack of cookery skills. She also saves Carol’s life when Carol tries the old dustbin escape, not realising the bins were bound for the incinerator.

Now Carol and Shirley work together on the ventilator shaft escape. They break through the glass with an eggbeater and make a run for it. Carol is recaptured and Shirley gets away, but later Madam shows Carol a newspaper report saying Shirley has been found with amnesia. The amnesia was caused by drugged food Madam had sent to the slaves. This means Shirley can’t raise help.

Madam discovers the other slaves have eaten the same drugged food, which has turned them into glazed-eyed zombies who can’t remember a thing – and that includes how to cook. Carol, who is a hopeless cook, now has to cook a big lunch for a local business meeting single-handed, with only the dumb waiters to help her. Carol turns to the only thing she knows: fish and chips. Madam is mortified at this, but fortunately the businessmen are the type to enjoy it, so it’s a success. Later, Madam brings the other slaves back to normal with an antidote.

During the cooking, Carol saves a dumb waiter from being badly burned. Later, he slips something into her oven glove. He doesn’t even report her when he sees her in the ventilation shaft (which has not been sealed off although they replaced the glass at the other end). The note the waiter left informs Carol that a local health inspector is going to pay a visit. So her next plan is to make things look wrong health-wise at the restaurant and bring down a huge inspection that will surely find them.

On the night the inspector visits, Madam makes Carol work as waitress and has her teeth stuck together with special truffles so Carol can’t speak. The health inspector leaves satisfied, apart from the fake mouse Carol tried to pull. But the other slaves almost suffocate because the lift got blocked. Carol hopes that this will make them rally more with her in an escape.

One slave, Monique, helps Carol do just that when a wedding reception is held at The Hot Stove. She makes the wedding cake large enough to hide Carol in it and smuggle her out. This time, Carol succeeds in escaping.

Unfortunately, the police are finding Carol’s story hard to believe, and by the time she arrives back at The Hot Stove with them, the place is in flames. Carol believes Madam did it to destroy the evidence, and there is no trace of her or the slaves.

Carol goes back to her normal life, but nobody seems to believe her. She visits Shirley in hospital, who is still a glass-eyed zombie from the drug, and only Madam has the antidote.

Then Madam’s goons, disguised as onion johnnies, start tailing Carol. She tries to run, but Shirley’s father, Colonel Sands of Kentooky Chicken (yes, we can see what inspired that one) shows up. He believes Carol’s story and asks her to let herself be recaptured, as he has a plan to capture Madam Mange. So Carol lets the heavies take her.

Madam’s new hideout is “The Cooks Cauldron”. It’s in the back of beyond and the slaves are being held in a deep pothole. At least it’s not for long, as Madam soon returns to her old haunt. The secret kitchen was left unscathed by the fire (and not found by the police for some reason), so the slaves are back to the old slavery in a pop-up Hot Stove rising from the ashes of the old one.

Madam is all excited about an upcoming national cooking contest in the paper. However, one look at the paper and Carol realises the contest is Colonel Sands’ plot to trap Madam, and she informs the other slaves of this. They give Carol a crash course in cookery to make sure she is chosen for the contest, which finally has Carol turning out decent cookery. She is chosen. At the stadium, Carol smuggles a note to Colonel Sands that all the gang from The Hot Stove are here.

Then Carol discovers that Madam has smelt a rat. If anything happens, she will seal the place up and it will explode like a pressure cooker. And Carol can see the police closing in. She starts a pie fight as a distraction.

Madam whisks Carol and the trophy away (without winning it) to her new hot stove prison: a restaurant boat, with which she proceeds to make her getaway, slaves and all, to start all over again.

Carol uses the self-raising flour in the hold to create a giant Yorkshire pudding. It’s growing into the size of a house and will swamp the boat unless it’s burst. However, Carol has the only thing that can puncture it, and she’s not handing it over until Madam releases them and gives them the antidote for Shirley.

Madam gives in to Carol’s demands and leaves them ashore with the antidote. But she still gets away, along with her stolen trophy, and is already cooking up new schemes “to prove her greatness…the world would hear from Madam Mange again!” Or maybe not, as she never reappeared in Tammy. If a sequel with her was planned, it didn’t eventuate.

Thoughts

There have been many “slave stories” with bizarre concepts, but this one could well be the one to top them all. Nowhere is it more bizarre than the giant Yorkshire pudding escape at the conclusion. Many readers must have found this…well, let’s say…controversial. Or maybe they just burst out laughing. As it is, it’s something only the funnies can get away with, and we’re move on.

The story doesn’t go for sadistic tortures piled on thick and over the top as some slave stories do e.g. Tammy’s “Slaves of ‘War Orphan Farm’”. Nor does Madam go for horrible punishments for Carol because of her constant escape attempts. She doesn’t do much more than throw Carol back into the kitchen. It’s probably because she thinks Carol is of value to her as a top cook, which is all the more reason for Carol to keep her from discovering the truth. All the same, the story is pushing things towards going over the top with keeping the slaves in actual rags and chains, and these great ape dumb waiters who don’t speak a word and look more like bouncers.

Madam’s motive for it all seems to be feeding her ego and making herself the biggest name in the culinary world. Even while she is forced to release the slaves she isn’t dwelling on it; as she makes her getaway, her mind’s already cooking up new ideas for proving her greatness. Not even the trophy (which she didn’t win by right) is enough for her. Her arrogance is so great she doesn’t even seem to be bothered by the long arm of the law catching up to her once her freed slaves get back to the police and Colonel Sands turns everything upside-down to find her. Plus, she gets the bonus of saving money with her racket, as she gets everything cheap by using slaves instead of proper staff, not just for the cooking but also all the cleaning of the restaurant and, at times, the waitressing. Only the dumb waiter goons are the hired help.

Madam Mange gets away with a lot because once Carol escapes, the police just don’t believe it, nor does anyone else except Colonel Sands. Furthermore, the police don’t really put their backs into finding Carol when they first show up at the restaurant to investigate. Nor do they do a proper search of the burned-out ruins, which would surely have turned up the secret kitchen, as the story later establishes it is still intact. Not even Carol’s parents seem to listen and don’t seriously ask Carol where she’s been once she returns. Where the heck do they think she’s been – Hell’s Kitchen or something? Ultimately, Madam gets away with it altogether as she sails off into the sunset on her boat. No arrest, prison term or public exposure for Madam Mange. We can only hope the law will ultimately catch up with her.

Like many protagonists in slave stories, Carol is the only one putting her back into trying to escape and not giving up. The other slaves are pretty much resigned to it, and Madam’s head games help to keep them that way. Carol is more immune because, ironically, she isn’t a brilliant chef like them. Ultimately, she progressively succeeds in getting them to help with escaping, but we never see any outright rebellion.

As with other slave stories, we get a string of failed escapes before the successful one occurs. However, the story is unusual in which it has the successful escape come earlier than the climax of the story – only to have it become a failure in its own way because people just don’t listen. Carol is not truly free because she still has the shadow of The Hot Stove hanging over her and knows that Madam is still out there somewhere with the slaves. The story takes a more unusual take in which the protagonist not only gets recaptured but has to agree to it as well because it’s part of a plan to catch Madam. It is here that we get to the climax of the story.

There is wackiness and curious humour in the way the whole thing revolves around food: the slavery; the methods used to keep the slaves in line; the trap for Madam Mange; and all the means used for escape. Maybe it’s one reason why the story is on the whole engaging and enjoyable, and it seemed to be popular. Or maybe it’s all that punning over “being a slave to your stove”, “slaving over a hot stove”, “kitchen slave”, and “chained your stove”. Perhaps someone on the Tammy team was feeling sympathetic about real-life people who felt that way or was inspired by them.

In any case, the story certainly made one such person feel differently. On 12 April 1975 a reader wrote in to thank Tammy for the story, saying, “My mum used to go on and on about how she’s chained to her stove and started to make me feel guilty every time she cooked something. When she read your story she changed her mind – now she can’t do enough cooking” – only to start nagging about where’s the next issue of Tammy so she can read what happens next.

Secret Ballet of the Steppes (1974)

Sample Images

Secret Ballet of the Steppes 1aSecret Ballet of the Steppes 1bSecret Ballet of the Steppes 1c

Published: Tammy 14 September 1974 to 30 November 1974

Episodes: 12

Artist: Douglas Perry

Writer: Gerry Finley-Day?

Translations/Reprints: Tammy annual 1981

Plot

A last remnant of Tsarist Russia escaped the Russian Revolution and established itself as a Tsarism kingdom in the Steppes, where everything – including serfdom, salt mines and oppression – runs the way it was pre-1917. It has completely bypassed the Russian Revolution, Communism, Stalin, World War II, the KGB and modernity, and not even modern Russia is aware of its existence. It caters to the whims of Princess Petra, a sickly but tyrannical girl who lives only for ballet. Petra herself is in the grip of her adviser Berova, a female Rasputin type who preys on fear, oppression and superstition to keep everyone in line. Ever since Petra fell into Berova’s power, the peasants, who had enjoyed a more humane rule under Petra’s father, have suffered intolerable lives.

Petra wants to revive the ballets her court enjoyed pre-revolution, but there are no dancers. So Berova dispatches her agents to kidnap an entire British ballet company. But the agents goof up and grab a class of ballet pupils by mistake, who have never so much as danced a ballet. When the mistake is discovered, Berova is not letting the pupils go. Her mandate: perform the ballets and do them well enough to satisfy the princess, or become serfs for life.

Seeing little choice but to go along with it, pupil and main protagonist Judith Green encourages her class to start off with Carnival, as they know some of it. All the same, it is a difficult undertaking, especially as they have no proper instructors or training in organising a ballet. Moreover, they soon learn that the princess demands an exemplary performance in only a few days at the most, and has no regard as to whether they are ready or not. However, they are aided by pianist Nicolas Ikanovitch (who loses his beard very quickly for some reason) and the original choreography still on the scores.

Babs Sinclair and Clarissa Howes have no confidence in meeting the princess’ demands because they the worst dancers in the class. They try to escape but are recaptured. Judith seeks out Petra’s quarters in the hope of mercy. She discovers Petra’s passion for ballet, which Petra tries to do despite weak legs. In the hope of softening Petra she begins to teach her some ballet, which helps to strengthen her legs into the bargain. Berova discovers this and posts guards to keep Judith away from Petra.

Berova grudgingly releases Babs and Clarissa, as their imprisonment is adversely affecting the dancers. Even Babs and Clarissa perform well enough for the opening night of Carnival, which is a success. For now, the slave dancers are in favour with Petra and are safe, but one misstep could make things otherwise.

Judith finds a friend in Princess Petra’s companion, Countess Katrina. Katrina sneaks Judith into Petra’s apartments to teach her more ballet, and they hide her when Berova comes. While in hiding, Judith sees Berova has some sort of Rasputin-like hypnotic hold over Petra, and suspects the key to freedom might be breaking it.

Petra sends Judith a present in gratitude, but this makes Babs and Clarissa so jealous they demand to take the leading roles in the next performance of Carnival. This turns the performance into such a disaster that Petra faints and takes to her bed. The girls have to put on a special dance to restore her strength. Berova gives the girls only three days to prepare and present another ballet. If Petra is not happy with it, it’s the salt mines for them, the stage hands and musicians.

Nicolas advises Coppelia as the quickest to learn. It goes remarkably well all things considered, but Judith collapses from exhaustion at the end of it. Petra is persuaded to give the slave dancers a break and they are taken for a sleigh ride across the Steppes. Along the way the girls see the appalling living conditions of the oppressed serfs and how much they hate royal imperialism.

Meanwhile, there have been hints building up that Nicolas is up to something, and the girls now find out what it is: Nicolas leads them into a trap where they are captured by revolutionaries led by Igor Krof. The Russian Revolution is finally catching up to Petra.

The girls are hostages to force Petra to agree to Igor’s terms; the bargaining chip is not their lives but Petra’s obsession with ballet and Judith being her secret ballet teacher. As time passes, no news arrives and Igor and his revolutionaries vent their frustration by making slaves out of the girls.

Judith resolves to find a way to soften Igor before they are worked to death. Ironically, it’s the same as the princess: dancing. These people really love dancing. Judith conceives a ballet that incorporates the native peasant dances they are picking up and the revolutionaries’ ideals of overthrowing oppression. The revolutionaries love it and want a daily performance.

But then bad news arrives: Petra is sending the army in to crush them. The revolutionaries get ready to fight, which will mean slaughter if the two forces meet. Figuring the answer is to break Berova’s hold over Petra, Judith sets out to escape and make her way back to the palace, braving snow, blizzards and other perils of the Steppes. On the way a helicopter arrives, with a man called Joder in charge. Judith asks them for help but soon realises they are up to no good. They leave her to be torn apart by wolves, but Judith scares them off with her dancing.

Judith arrives at the Palace, and discovers Berova contacting Joder via a radio transmitter – modern technology in a place where progress stopped in 1917. She tries to warn Petra and get her to accede to the peasants’ requests, as Petra does not understand the oppression they live under. But all Petra can think of is dancing, and she orders the already-exhausted Judith to dance on and on until she collapses.

When Judith recovers she tries to speak to Petra again about the peasants, but when she speaks ill of Berova, Petra turns against her and faints in shock. Not even Katrina is listening. Judith tries again with a ballet peasant dress and uses a fusion of ballet and national dance she picked up while a hostage to get the message across to Petra that peasants are human beings too, they are being oppressed, and that is why they are rebelling. This time she makes headway.

But enter Berova, who is soon using her weird influence to frighten them all back into her power and convince them it’s all evil and Judith is “possessed by demons”. She has Judith taken away and locked up.

Back in Igor’s stronghold, the men are keyed up for a fight and getting toey and quarrelsome. Nicolas is informed about where Judith has gone and Igor thinks Judith has betrayed them. Everything is on the brink of civil war.

Judith escapes her cell and discovers Berova is planning to steal the palace treasures while everyone’s busy with the civil war. She uses Berova’s radio transmitter to call for help. A radio ham in England picks up the message – and for some reason he seems to know exactly what to do.

On the palace doorstep the soldiers are getting ready to march. Judith distracts them all with dancing. This time everyone is so impressed with Judith’s dancing that they aren’t fooled or intimidated by Berova. Now Berova’s power is finally broken, Petra sends envoys to the rebels, and civil war is averted in the nick of time. Berova tries to flee but is later picked up when help arrives from England; it seems the radio ham originated from the area. A more humane rule is established and Petra resolves to improve her country. A plane arrives to collect the ballet girls. Everyone agrees to let the Tsarist microcosm continue in secrecy from the outside world, with ballet bridging the gap between the two worlds.

Thoughts

Gerry Finley-Day, if it was indeed he who wrote this story, was certainly known for his bizarre slave story ideas. This one is no exception. A serial with slave dancers is hardly a new thing (check out The Bubble Ballerinas from Bunty for example) – but a pocket of Tsarist Russia that escaped the Russian Revolution and all the post-Revolution phases (Stalin, Communism, KGB) that should have destroyed it, and is running pre-1917 Russian oppression without the (then) Soviet Union even realising is mind-boggling.

Normally, girls’ serials, if they touched on Russian oppression, tended to focus more on Communist Russia, the Iron Curtain and the Cold War (e.g. Curtain of Silence from Jinty) than Imperialist Russia. Yet this is not Imperialist Russia; it’s a lost kingdom in Russia trapped in a microcosm that keeps it pre-1917, not only in terms of government and oppression but also in terms of development. This makes the story all the more disturbing than if it had been set in the real Imperialist Russia.

The story focuses heavily on the evils of the Tsarist oppression and the right of the peasants to rebel. For example, in one scene we see masses of starving peasants begging for food stores to be opened up to them, but the soldiers’ only answer is to open fire on them while the girls watch in horror and Berova like a vulture. A massacre in cold blood, and on hapless, starving women and children sure is disturbing, strong stuff to show in a girls’ comic. During the sleigh ride, the girls see the hovels the peasants have to live in while the princess lives in luxury.

Perhaps it is this focus on the cruelties of Berova’s regime on the peasants that keeps the story from going over the top in its cruelties to the girls. We don’t see sadistic tortures inflicted on them, particularly on the rebellious protagonist, as we see so often in other slave serials. The demands on the girls are huge and unfair e.g. being expected to piece together a ballet in five minutes flat or everyone suffers. However, it serves the purpose of the slavers to keep the girls in reasonably good nick if they are to dance for Petra. Moreover, Judith the main protagonist does not openly rebel against their situation and incur mean punishments on herself as other protagonists in similar serials have done. She sees that (for the time being) it is no use escaping because they are lost in the Steppes in the middle of deep winter. Their best bet is to do what they are told – for the time being. In so doing, they incur less harshness from their slavers than if they had openly rebelled. However, Judith is not giving up or resigning herself to her fate; she taking more of a “bide your time” sort of approach until she can figure something out – which of course she does.

Although the story does not hesitate to depict the evils of Tsarist Russia and sympathy for the revolutionaries, we don’t get a hint of Communism itself. And it’s not because the story can’t depict Communism in a sympathetic light. It’s because Communism is not the answer to ending oppression. After all, it didn’t end oppression in Russia or any other Communist country. It is not likely to have ended oppression in this Tsarist kingdom either, even if it had overthrown Berova and Petra. In fact, the story makes a strong point that rebellion and revolution are not guaranteed to free people from oppression.

If the civil war had proceeded, the rebels would most certainly have been wiped out by the army and things gotten worse than ever for the people. Simply getting rid of Berova would not help that much either. The answer is to both break Berova’s hold over Petra and for Petra to realise peasants are people too and understand it is oppression that is driving them into rebellion. It is Judith, not the rebels, who accomplishes these things. The rebels would never have done it without her. But Judith doesn’t do it through revolution. She does it by bridging the gap between Petra and the rebels with the one thing they have in common: they all love dancing one way or other. And in so doing, Judith averts a bloody civil war, frees people from oppression, and not only frees Petra from Berova’s control but also helps redeem her.

The redemption of Princess Petra is certainly atypical of many unpleasant characters in girls’ serials, but it is credible: using her love of dancing to get through to her. Although Petra is in the grip of Berova she does not come across as a weakling (despite her sickly constitution) or a puppet ruler. She is a tyrant in her own right, as evidenced when she forces a man to dance day and night because he got carried away with dance tunes. She is a haughty, cold, spoiled, self-absorbed girl who only thinks ballet and doesn’t even understand or care what’s going on in her own kingdom. In her view, people who dance for her are only there to feed her obsession with it.

Unlike most unsavoury characters in girls’ serials Petra does not change through shock treatment or hard experience. It is through using her love of ballet to teach her that other people are human beings too. By the end of the story Petra has changed into a more humane person who wants to accomplish things for her people. She still loves ballet, but we can see she will share her love of it in a more positive manner.

Of course there can be no redemption for Berova, the female Rasputin whose cruelties and power over superstitious minds almost plunge the kingdom into civil war for her own gain.

 

Tammy 18 March 1978

Tammy cover 18 March 1978

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Melanie’s Mob (artist Edmond Ripoll)
  • Maisie – Fashion Crazy (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • Goldie Alone (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)
  • Mask for Melissa (artist Angeles Felices)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills on the Run (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • The Magic Lamp – the Strange Story
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Gail at Windyridge (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Pretty Things with Poly Craft (feature)

I have brought out this Tammy in honour of St Patrick’s Day. Girls’ comics didn’t seem to bother with St Patrick’s Day much, but this issue is an exception. It’s a delightful, enchanting cover of leprechauns and fairies entertaining the Cover Girls.

Inside, Bella is on hiatus, but we’re sure some story will finish soon in order to make room for her. Meantime, several of the stories that are currently running are Tammy classics. One is “Melanie’s Mob”, Tammy’s answer to “Concrete Surfer”. Melanie Newton has formed a skateboarding club to persuade the council to provide a skateboarding rink. This week they win a special prize for their display on skateboarding safety and are encouraged to compete in serious contests. But now the only skateboarding area in town has been bulldozed.

Tammy is definitely having a jag on disguises, double lives, concealing pasts, going on the run, and assumed names. No less than seven stories have it this week in some form or other. Yes, seven.

First is “Goldie Alone”. Goldie was a mega-popular Tammy story that was still remembered years later; for example, Goldie made a cameo in the Wee Sue birthday celebrations of Tammy’s 10th issue. Goldie Gibbs is living with a foster family, the Stringers, while her mother is in hospital. The Stringers are out to stop Goldie beating their daughter Emma at an ice-skating event. Goldie is resorting to secret skating at the rink, which starts stories about a “phantom skater” haunting the rink at night. The Stringers guess the truth and go to welfare with all sorts of lies about Goldie being an out-of-control girl. Although welfare have second thoughts about Mrs Stringer’s story once they probe further, it has the police on Goldie’s tail and catching her red-handed as she tries to break into the ice rink.

Second is part two of another Tammy classic, “Mask for Melissa”. Melissa Mappin has facial scars from an accident and is so affected by it that she can’t bear to look in a mirror, and it looks like her acting hopes are dashed. This week she finds the solution: steal a beautiful mask from a shop, move to a new location, and resume acting under the assumed name of Gaye Traynor. However, we know deception and disguise are going to cause complications for Melissa. Right now though, Melissa has a more immediate problem: she can’t find a place to stay and has to resort to a hotel job to get a roof over her head.

Third is “Maisie – Fashion Crazy”. This is a sequel to an earlier Tammy story, “Maisie of Mo Town”. Maisie and Mary Malone don disguises of their own to go after shifty Marcus Adams, who’s gone off to Paris instead instead of looking after Mum’s business while she’s away. But their disguises are not exactly subtle: they look like chess boards in those checkered suits they’re wearing and one Frenchwoman is shocked already!

Fourth is “Gail at Windyridge”. Gail Peters and her father are using assumed names at the stable where he works because he was wrongly disgraced for horse-doping. But now a newspaper clip threatens to reveal their past. Added to that, more dirty work with horses is afoot: someone is trying to sabotage the Flier, the champion horse of the stables.

Fifth is Molly Mills, who is still “On the Run” after Pickering framed her for theft. Molly has made her way back to Stanton Hall, which has a new owner, and trying to hide her past. This week Molly has to resort to splashing her face with car engine oil to save herself from being recognised. This gets her lot of disapproving stares but fortunately her employer sees the funny side. Interestingly, a coloured girl has been added to the Molly cast, a black servant girl named Lucy.

Sixth is Wee Sue. Sue helps an old lady who can’t get in but finds out later she unwittingly helped a house-breaker who was disguised as the old lady. She’s got to undo the damage somehow, but the crook has shed the disguise and they don’t know what he looks like without it. But Sue realises he made one oversight, and it gets him nabbed – he forgot to remove the earrings from the old lady disguise.

Seventh is Bessie Bunter, who really is on a roll this week with a sheet of lino that keeps rolling everyone up. She foils thieves who are passing themselves off as tradesmen by dressing up in a bear suit to frighten them and then hitting them with the lino roll. Pity the thieves don’t get rolled up in it, which would have been as good as handcuffs and even more funny.

This week’s Strange Story could have reinforced the St Patrick’s Day theme on the cover with a story about leprechauns, fairies or Irish myth. Instead it’s a magic lamp story. Actually, it’s a paper lamp, made out of newspaper. But can it still work like Aladdin’s lamp and get Beryl’s brother Jimmy the cure he needs?

Tammy 20 October 1973

Tammy cover 20 October 1973

  • The Revenge of Edna Hack (artist Douglas Perry) – double final episode
  • Mandy and the House of Models (artist Ana Rodriguez) – final episode
  • Jumble Sale Jilly (artist Juliana Buch) – final episode
  • The Power of the Indian’s Pipe (artist Candido Ruiz Pueyo) – final episode
  • For Isabel with Love (artist Eduardo Feito) – double final episode
  • Tammy Special Double Page Pin-Up (Anne-Marie David and Simon Turner)
  • ‘A Mouse No More’ (artist Giorgio Giorgetti) – complete story
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

The previous entry was on the issue where Sandie merged with Tammy. This entry profiles the Tammy the week before the merger. Regrettably, I am not able to do the same with the final Sandie.

This was the last Tammy to have the “happy girl covers” who had been used on the cover from the first issue. The Cover Girls, drawn by John Richardson, take over with the merger issue. As everything starts new with the merger issue, everything currently running finishes this week, in two cases with double episode spreads. The announcement of the merger has a double page spread in the centre pages.

(click thru)

One story to end with a double episode is “The Revenge of Edna Hack”. Like Mr Grand in “Village of Fame”, author Dame Edna Hack is going to extremes for TV ratings. In her case it is holding girls (in convict uniform costumes) on her island for her TV show “Captives of Thriller Island”, where viewers don’t realise that what they are watching are real captives trying to escape.

The other story to end with a double episode, “For Isabel with Love”, has an unusual ending: it ends on a cliffhanger and a sequel is promised. Now that will be something to see in the merger. The setup is, Jaki Holt wants to win a riding trophy for her friend Isabel Davey, who is in a coma, but she is having trouble persuading others to give her a chance. For one thing, she has a lame leg. In the final episode Jaki finally persuades the Colonel to give her that chance. But she hasn’t won yet!

“Jumble Sale Jilly” was Juliana Buch’s first story for Tammy. Jilly Burridge is in court, carrying the can for her horrible guardians who were stealing valuables. She hasn’t a hope – unless the only witness who can clear her, her natural mother, can get to the court in time.

In “Mandy and the House of Models”, student model Mandy Larkin is similarly carrying the can for a robbery, and her hunt for the real criminals has led her to Lowland Grange. But she’s been captured, tied up, and her attempts to escape are impeded by a sprained ankle and handcuffs. Talk about Houdini.

“The Power of the Indian’s Pipe” is a war between two brothers, one good, one bad, over a magic pipe. The pipe can be used for good – or evil – depending on which hands it falls into and what tune it plays. Angela, with the help of a similar pipe she has found, brings the war to an end and the pipe to safe hands.

Molly’s got a mystery on her hands to sort out: a baby, a desperate girl, and a whole mess of misunderstandings that are resulting in people being hurt. It all ends with Pickering being obliged to give the baby a kiss. Molly’s hopeful this is evidence of a soft spot in old misery guts.

Although Tammy is focused on finishing everything off and announcing the new spread in the merger, she still has room for a couple of fillers. We get a double-page pin-up and a reprint of a Strange Story (below). It must have come from the very early days of the Storyteller in June. It’s a surprise that the Storyteller had one appearance in Tammy that predates his arrival in the Tammy & June merger in 1974. The story is about a girl who is shy until she changes her appearance with a wig. All of a sudden she is confident and she is convinced it is the wig. Was it really the wig or did it just make her feel so different she discovered the confidence she didn’t realise she had? Whatever it is, she gets her future husband out of it. Aww…

(click thru)

Tammy & Sandie 27 October 1973 – merger issue

Tammy cover 27 October 1973

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Two-Faced Teesha (artist José Casanovas) – first episode
  • School for Snobs (artist J. Badesa) – first episode of sequel
  • A New Leaf for Nancy (artist John Armstrong) – first episode
  • Back-Stab Ballerina (artist Miguel Quesada) – first episode
  • Wee Sue (artist Mario Capaldi) – first appearance
  • Win a Winter Wardrobe (competition)
  • The Girls of Grimley’s Grammer (artist Leo Baxendale) – first episode
  • Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie (artist Robert MacGillivray, writer John Wagner) – first appearance
  • Granny’s Town (artist Douglas Perry, writer Pat Mills) – first episode
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – new story

This is the issue where Sandie merged with Tammy. The Sandie merger is one of the most pivotal in Tammy’s history. It is also one of the most far-reaching as it resonated for many years in Tammy.

First of all, it is the first appearance of The Cover Girl covers drawn by John Richardson. The Cover Girls would be a mainstay on Tammy’s cover right up until 11 October 1980, the same month they started way back in 1973.

Second, it is the first appearance of Wee Sue – and her arch-enemy Miss Bigger – in Tammy, and she would remain a popular Tammy regular until 1981. Wee Sue came over from Sandie, but Sandie readers must have been surprised at the way she appeared in Tammy. Her original Sandie story, drawn by Vicente Torregrosa Manrique, was a serial. Sue was a scholarship girl at exclusive Backhurst Academy, which had emphasis on sport, and she was trying to save it from closure. She also came up against other problems, such as prejudice over being a scholarship girl.

But here Sue is given a complete overhaul, from her location to her very appearance. Sue moves to the industrial town of Milltown, where she attends a comprehensive school. On her first day she meets new teacher Miss Bigger, who’s a bully teacher. And on the first day it is established how Wee Sue became the biggest bane of Miss Bigger, which would be the mainstay for the rest of Sue’s run in Tammy. Sue changes from a serial to a weekly regular played for light relief. Sue was always known for big brainstorms, and in this format she would use them to come up with ways to get out of various scrapes, foiling the meanness of Miss Bigger, or sorting out someone’s problem. Sue also acquires freckles and a spiky bob. Later the freckles disappear and her bob softens into the wavy one she retains for the rest of her run.

(click thru)

 

Everything in the merger starts new or fresh. No half-finished or nearly finished serials here, which have often been the case with girls’ mergers and annoyed many readers. It’s a delight to have everything start on episode one.

Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie have come over from Sandie as well, and they lasted in Tammy for two years. Like Sue, Uncle Meanie has been given some changes. He shifts from his castle in Scotland to a suburban house in England and is now married to Aunt Martha. We have to wonder why the heck she married him in the first place as she is constantly infuriated by his extreme penny-pinching. However, we are told why Uncle Meanie moved from Scotland although he misses it – his meanness made him so unpopular there. As if the same thing is not going to happen in his new neighbourhood and he’ll have a bad reputation in town. He’s as mean and scheming as ever and Jeannie constantly has to outwit him. Uncle Meanie still has his original nose from Sandie and has not yet acquired the big bulbous nose he would have later on. The same nose would later be given to Miss Bigger when MacGillivray drew her.

We have a new regular cartoon, “The Girls of Grimley’s Grammer” (shouldn’t that be “Grammar”?). Artist looks like Leo Baxendale, who drew “The Kids of Stalag 41” from Jet/Buster. The premise must have been borrowed from Stalag 41 as well: the girls of Grimley’s Grammer give their headmistress a terrible time, just as the Kids of Stalag 41 give their Kommandant “Schtinky” a terrible time. But from the looks of the first episode, the girls will not always come out on top each week as the Kids of Stalag 41 do. Now that’ll make the cartoon even more interesting!

The Girls of Grimley's Grammer

Molly Mills continues from Tammy. Molly starts a spooky story in honour of Halloween, which the staff are gearing up for with carved pumpkins and a witch guy for Bonfire Night. Lord Stanton has unwisely developed a craze about psychics and invited a group over for seances. After they do so, unnerving stuff starts to happen, and a tarot reading predicts sadness and danger coming to the hall, with dark forces targeting bully butler Pickering in particular. It soon has the old misery running scared, though he would never admit it.

School for Snobs also returns from Tammy. Like Wee Sue, it shifts from serial format to regular “story of the week” format with loads of laughs for the readers. School for Snobs is a reform school designed to knock snobbery out of girls, and in the new format it shifts to a “snob of the week” where a new snob arrives each week to be cured by the end of the episode. Each snob and her form of snob are different each time, illustrating that snobbery comes in all shapes and sizes. First in for the treatment in the sequel is Lucille Hornsby-Grant, who attempts to have the school closed down. However, the inspector is so impressed he wants to send his own snobby daughter there to sort her out. After this, Lucille is beaten.

Maybe School for Snobs should be the place to send “Two-Faced Teesha”. Teesha Tate is a spiteful rich girl who has been removed from a string of schools for her nasty conduct. Instead, she and her father move to a new house, which Dad hopes will help to sort her out. Teesha does not like the down-to-earth people who reside there. However, she is looking forward to playing tricks on the daughter, Gail.

In “A New Leaf for Nancy”, Nancy Kay and her parents have to move to a rundown house, which they’re not happy about, because Dad has lost his job. School gets off to a bad start too. But things start looking up after Nancy hears a tree in her garden is said to have strange powers, and when a leaf gets caught in her hair, she gives a tough teacher a flash of brilliance that surprises even herself.

The new Douglas Perry story, “Granny’s Town”, might as well have been called “Revenge of the Grannies”. Jen Young is off to Crone-on-Sea for a holiday, where she comes across indications that the old ladies of the town have formed some sort of secret society that conducts vigilantism against those who insult or displease them. First to get the treatment are a bully businessman and a rude train conductor, who get tied to lamp posts with knitting wool during a night attack. The attackers leave a message embroidered on a cushion: “Get out of Granny’s Town!”

The lineup wouldn’t be complete without a ballet story, and there is no exception here. June Day and Rita Radley have been such close friends they are called “The Inseperables”, but starting ballet school changes that. Rita soon becomes June’s worst enemy and “Back-Stab Ballerina” because everyone says June is better than her.

No merger is complete without a competition. In this one, you are in to win a winter wardrobe if you can spot the differences between two story panels.

 

The Dance Dream [1977]

Sample Images

The Dance Dream 1

The Dance Dream 2

The Dance Dream 3

Published: Tammy 16 April 1977 – 4 June 1977

Episodes: 8

Artist: Douglas Perry

Writer: Anne Digby

Translations/reprints: Girl annual 1982; Tina in 1980 as ‘Dans, Diana, Dans!’ and in 1984 reprinted in Tina Dubbeldik Superalbum 14.

Plot

In 1938, orphan Diana Watts dreams of becoming a ballerina and she idolises famous ballerina Diana Oberon. She has moved to London to get close to Oberon and whenever she sees Oberon it always seems like Oberon has always known her, though the two have never met. Oberon just seems to act like some spiritual guide and mentor to Watts, offering encouragement and help, no matter how hard things get. It certainly is hard: no money to pay for lessons or proper ballet gear; cribbing all she can from books; no space to practise except in the attic room she rents; no music; and scrimping to buy a gramophone.

Oberon lends her mysterious hand to help Watts get the gramophone, and some music to go with it. (Once the music is introduced the story keeps making a glaring error: it repeatedly says The Dance of the Dying Swan is in Swan Lake; it isn’t.) However, practising to music gets Watts evicted for being too noisy. Watts manages to find other accommodation, but it’s not very nice (basement room, rats). It’s more expensive – so less money for ballet lessons – and less room to practise. But after meeting Oberon, who says good things are going to happen to her, Watts feels encouraged again.

Soon after, Watts’ dingy new room looks better and she realises the basement area outside makes a ready stage for her to practise on once cleaned up. This gets her noticed by Mr and Mrs Hartley who own a ballet school. Upon seeing her talent they offer her private lessons, and don’t worry about fees. After this, Watts is convinced Oberon has strange powers and she arranged all this.

Watts strikes another problem at dance class: no ballet gear of her own and her ballet shoes are too tatty. But not for long: Oberon turns up in her mysterious manner with a bag full of everything Watts needs. Soon Watts’ ballet lessons are going so brilliantly that she is accepted by the London Company.

Suddenly Watts is shocked to find Oberon not appearing because she is indisposed. Then she has a horrible vision of horrible black hands reaching out for Oberon and realises it is a premonition. While rushing to Oberon’s house to warn her, Watts gets knocked down by a car.

Watts regains consciousness at a Swiss clinic and seems to hear her gramophone playing. Her legs are paralysed. Oberon appears, and tells Watts she has a destiny to fulfil, but is not specific on what that destiny is. Oberon puts Watts through a series of tests to get her to walk and eventually to dance again. Watts’ final test is to dance before an audience while every muscle in her body still gives pain. Oberon tells Watts to forget the pain and just dance for her audience. She does so, finding the music just seems to drive the pain away. The applause is thunderous and Watts tells Oberon she is cured.

Oberon tells Watts her destiny is to take her place as “Britain’s foremost ballerina”. She then says goodbye to Watts forever.

Watts regains consciousness in the hospital. She has been in a coma all the time and the Hartleys were playing the gramophone music in the hope it would wake her. The doctors are baffled as to how Watts, who was completely paralysed, has recovered, and is now dancing even better than before. It turns out that Oberon, who was taken ill, died at the precise moment Watts woke up from her coma. Watts vows to fulfil her destiny to carry on from Oberon as Britain’s leading ballerina, starting with the London Company.

Thoughts

This is quite a charming story. It is likeable and enjoyable to read. Nobody would call it average or boring. The writer remembers it fondly. We like the period setting, the hot chestnut job, the supernatural elements, struggling to dance in lousy accommodation, and Watts’ ultimate battle to overcome her paralysis and learn to dance again. We even like the touch of the mean landlady who offers Watts the basement area, which we suspect the landlady is overcharging for.

However, we feel that Watts does have it a bit too easy compared with other dancers in girls’ serials. Her story is not given enough episodes to really flesh things out or put more tribulations in her path. For example, we never see how Watts gets on at the London Company. And the obstacles Watts faces do not feel all that much of a threat. We get the impression they are only superficial and fleeting because they will be overcome the moment Oberon appears, which she always does.

Oberon acts too much like a deus ex machina who is always bailing Watts out of every fix she gets into. Yet it’s never in person. It’s always in a vision or appearing with dark glasses and a hood, like some fairy godmother. This also creates a bit of overdependence on Oberon. We are left wondering how Watts is going to cope now Oberon is dead and said her goodbyes. Is it here that her real tests of character will begin?

There is a real mystery as to how the power of Oberon over Watts actually works and it’s one of the most baffling in girls’ comics. Unlike the “Spirit of the Lake” she is not a ghost and is not dead (until the end of the story). There is no evidence of Oberon having actual powers. The two women are not related, nor are they twins. The only things they have in common are their love of ballet and having the same Christian name. Yet both women sense there is some sort of link between them and one is destined to follow on from the other. Perhaps everything can only be left to the readers’ imagination.

Tammy 21 January 1984

Tammy cover 21 January 1984

Cover artist: John Armstrong

  • Foul Play (artist John Armstrong, writer Ian Mennell)
  • Julie’s Jinx (artist Julian Vivas, writer Nick Allen)
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Crayzees (artist Joe Collins)
  • First Term at Trebizon (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Anne Digby)
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Alison Christie, sub-writer Linda Stephenson)
  • Fashion Flashback – feature (Ray Mutimer)
  • My Terrible Twin (artist Juliana Buch)
  • Fun Time – feature
  • Swansea Jack (artist Douglas Perry, writer Linda Stephenson)
  • Queen Rider (artist Eduardo Feito, writer A. D. Langholm aka Alan Davidson)
  • Warm as Toast! Feature (Mari L’Anson)

The issue for 21 January 1984 has been chosen for 1984 in the conclusion to Tammy round robin.

Foul Play is unusual for being a non-Bella story drawn by John Armstrong. Katie Johnson received a serious hand injury during a hockey match. Her friends and family are convinced one of her own team mates deliberately caused it because they had always resented her. Katie doesn’t believe a word of it, but now someone is doing nasty things against the team. This week one gets her room vandalised and another gets her heart broken over a hoax call that her father was going to visit. Katie takes on the job of unravelling the mystery, and it must begin with the heartbreaking task of investigating her own friends and family as suspects.

My Terrible Twin is being reprinted by popular demand. The episode this week has already been discussed here, so we will move on.

In Pam of Pond Hill, a flu strain is causing chaos in town. It only seems to target the adults, which is giving the kids a bit of a free rein at home and school. But it’s not all fun for Pam. Cherry Laurence, the big-headed bully bossyboots who was unwisely appointed as a prefect, has now been put in charge of her form!

Tammy had always been running TV and book adaptations but now she is running two at once: The First Term at Trebizon and Queen Rider. Both the authors are former writers for IPC girls’ titles.

This week’s Button Box tale is a rags-to-riches story that centres on the Mexican art of dressing fleas. Swansea Jack, probably the last story Douglas Perry drew for Tammy, gives us the story of Swansea Jack, the dog who gave his name to a tavern by saving the lives of children at the docks of Swansea.

Julie Lee (who keeps her Romany background secret) gives her friend Gloria a Romany charm, but her horse has been acting strangely ever since. A nasty girl is spreading a rumour it is a bad luck charm. Julie is trying to find a way to deal with the problem quietly while not knowing what to make of it herself. Is the gift really “Julie’s Jinx”?

Tammy 20 January 1979

Tammy cover 20 January 1979

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Mouse (artist Maria Dembilio)
  • One Girl and Her Dog… (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • My Terrible Twin (artist Juliana Buch)
  • Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)
  • Thursday’s Child (artist Juan Solé, writer Pat Mills) – first episode
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and the Haunted Hall (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Menace from the Moor – Strange Story (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • The Moon Stallion – television adaptation (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • The Upper Crust (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)

 

Time for the 1979 issue in our Tammy round robin, and the issue chosen is 20 January 1979. It is three weeks into (at the time) the New Year, so naturally Tammy’s January issues are focused on new stories and clearing out old ones to make way for more new ones. The New Year also continues Tammy’s adaptation of the TV serial “The Moon Stallion”.

Bella is not part of the new lineup for the New Year though. When her story does start we learn that she’s been sailing home to Britain all the while.

We sense “The Upper Crust” is heading for its conclusion. Snobbish Mavis Blunt, of a snobbish neighbourhood, has had her nose put out of joint ever since the Carrington-Crusts moved in. She also suspects they are not all they appear to be. Now Mavis and her father suspect the Carrington-Crusts are criminals and set a trap for them, which appears to prove their suspicions. Or does it? We find out, in what we suspect is the final episode, next week.

“One Girl and Her Dog” looks like it is on its penultimate episode too. Kim Robinson and her dog Rumpus have finally caught up with Harry Whelkes, the man who has been hired to stop them claiming their inheritance in London. As a matter of fact, it’s brought the force of an entire circus down on Harry!

The circus also features in Wee Sue. Sue wants to go to the circus, but having no money, tries odd jobs there. The trouble is, two scheming girls from school have the same idea and are making sure she doesn’t get anything. They almost succeed, but the clowns decide Sue’s size will make her ideal for their act, and Sue gets the last laugh on those schemers.

“Thursday’s Child”, written by Pat Mills, starts today. It went on to become one of Tammy’s most popular stories and best-remembered classics. Life has always been good to Thursday Brown – but the splash panel on the first page tells us that will only be until she meets “the stranger” and her tears begin. And who might this stranger be? It’s the girl who mysteriously shows up in Thursday’s bed the night she starts using the family Union Jack as her bedspread. Looks like Thursday should have paid more attention to her mother’s misgivings about using the flag that way. Not to mention the strange red stuff that comes out when the flag is washed – it feels like blood. Is this a clue as to the reason why Mum was so unnerved?

“Mouse” and “My Terrible Twin”, the first Tammy stories to start in the New Year, take dramatic plot developments. Mary “Mouse” Malloway learns the reason for her strange, stranger-wary upbringing is her mother’s fears she will become the victim of an international child abduction at the hands of her estranged Sicilian father (the marriage soured because of the tyrannical mother-in-law). In the same episode, Mum’s fears come true. The father succeeds in catching up to Mary, abducts her, and is dragging her off to Sicily.

“My Terrible Twin” (Lindy) is on parole from a remand home after a shoplifting conviction and getting into a bad crowd. Her fraternal twin Moira is desperate to help her reform, which the remand home didn’t have much success in doing. However, Lindy gets off to a bad start in stealing lipsticks from the store Moira sets her up in. In this episode Lindy quietly returns them, settles into her job, and things seem to be going better. But there are clear bumps: Lindy has little sense of responsibility, and she is vain, conceited, which makes an enemy out of another employee, Helen. But that’s nothing compared to the real problem Lindy is now facing – her old crowd turn up and make trouble! Incidentally, My Terrible Twin was so popular she spawned a sequel, and her first story was reprinted by popular demand in 1984.

In the Strange Story, “Menace from the Moor”, Dad is trying to start a market garden business, but a horse from the moor keeps turning up and trampling all over his plants. It does not take long to realise there is something strange about the horse. It is getting in despite fencing, seems to just vanish, only appears on moonlit nights, and has a missing shoe. Could there be a link to the horseshoe in the house? Which, by the way, is hanging the wrong way up – the bad luck position.

Molly’s new story is “the Haunted Hall”, but it’s not really haunted. Molly is trying to hide her kid brother Billy in the hall while the family see to a sick relative. But Molly will lose her job if she is found out. Naturally, Billy’s high spirits make it hard to conceal him. His antics, plus ghost stories, are getting Pickering wound up about the hall being haunted. Pickering always did have a track history for being haunted, whether the ghost is real or fake.

Don’t talk to Bessie Bunter about birds this week! Mary Moldsworth tries to encourage Bessie to share her food with birds. But all poor Bessie gets out of it is bird bother and unfair lines.