Tag Archives: Down To Earth Blairs

Tammy 5 November 1977

Cover artist: John Richardson

Bella (John Armstrong)

C.L.A.R.A. (artist Giorgio Giorgetti) – first episode

No Place for Children (artist Eduardo Feito)

Good Old Guy Fawkes! (feature)

Down to Earth Blairs (artist José Casanovas)

Bessie Bunter

Glennie’s Gift (Colin Merrett) – Strange Story

Selena Sitting Pretty (artist Diane Gabbot(t))

Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)

Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)

Rowena and the Realms of Night (artist Peter Wilkes)

Here we have the Tammy Guy Fawkes issue from 1977. As you can see, it’s bang on the day. Inside, we have a couple of reminders about the Fireworks code, Guy Fawkes jokes, and a Guy Fawkes story from Bessie. Poor Bessie is confined to sick bay with a sore throat on Guy Fawkes Night. Undaunted, Bessie sneaks out of bed and finds weird masked figures who look like they’re going to blow up the school. She proceeds to have fun foiling them. But it’s just Miss Stackpole and the pupils re-enacting the Gunpowder Plot. Once that misunderstanding is cleared up, Bessie feels her throat cleared up enough to join the fireworks party. There are also a few references to bonfire night in “Down to Earth Blairs”, but the only fireworks are from Betsy when she gets on the wrong end of Dad’s swill collection. 

A new story, “C.L.A.R.A.” starts. Professor Crichenor (who looks more like he’s from the stage than the laboratory with that outfit of his) offers the services of his computer C.L.A.R.A. (Crichenor’s Learning And Reasoning Aid) to raise the falling academic and sporting performance of Glumthorpe Comprehensive. Although the PTA’s response is to throw Crichenor out – literally – he intends to prove himself. He’s going to begin by making our protagonist, Frances Cummins, more organised.

Oh, poor Bella! Some jealous girls put a shard of glass in her shoe to sabotage her performance and she’s cut her foot very badly. Nasty! Once her foot is bandaged she manages to perform sufficiently to get a medal, but now someone is raising an objection to it. 

The mystery of the missing children in Tarnbridge deepens. Postcards arrive from them, but there are no postmarks. And the parents are getting angry and demanding answers from Mr Nash about where their children are.

In the Strange Story, Lorna loses her sight after a rock hits her on the head at a crumbling ruin. Her guide dog Glennie grows critically ill, but before he dies he leads her back to the spot where the accident happened. Another rock falls and returns her sight. The Storyteller makes an annual pilgrimage to put flowers on Glennie’s grave on Lorna’s behalf.

Selena takes advantage of heavy rain to run in a race without anyone seeing her and realise she is no cripple. She manages to get back to her wheelchair and thinks she’s still sitting pretty – but then discovers she overlooked the tell-tale mud all over her shoes. Is she going to be unstuck this time, or will she find a way out of yet another close call?

Sue and her friends are at a department store in search of a birthday present for their art teacher, but Sue’s small size keeps getting her into all sorts of scrapes, including landing in a washing machine. However, her small size helps in the end when the teacher is locked out and needs someone to get into window. Then it’s birthday celebrations.

A pedlar informs Rowena of the full danger her brother faces at the hands of the Nightqueen: if he takes the hand of the Nightqueen’s daughter in the upcoming dance of night, he will join the legion of the living dead!

Tammy 29 October 1977

Cover artist: John Richardson

Bella (artist John Armstrong)

Down to Earth Blairs (artist José Casanovas)

No Place for Children (artist Eduardo Feito)

Melanie’s Mob (artist Edmond Ripoll) – final episode

Bessie Bunter

The Bird of Wisdom – the Strange Story

Selena Sitting Pretty (artist Diane Gabbot(t))

Say Hallo to Hallowe’en! – feature 

Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)

Rowena and the Realms of Night (artist Peter Wilkes)

We continue our Halloween theme with the Tammy Halloween issue from 1977. One of our Cover Girls is enjoying a Halloween party while something else appears to be enjoying her Tammy as much as she does. The Cover Girls years were very enjoyable for celebrating Halloween, Easter, Guy Fawkes and other occasions in light-hearted and often amusing ways. Inside, there is also a feature on Halloween customs.  

Wee Sue and her family have a day at the races. Sue takes a punt on a horse called Autumn Springer, which prompts Miss Bigger to do the same. Then Miss Bigger unwittingly causes Autumn Springer to bolt. They have to do something fast or lose their punts and the things they want to buy with them. 

In the Strange Story, Jean Regan is a brain, and there always seems to be a bird hanging around her when she does academic wonders. But her brains make her a know-all and show-off, and she becomes unpopular. She chases the bird off and finds she is reduced to middling scholar, but now she’s more popular and happy.

It’s the final episode of the popular “Melanie’s Mob”. Its replacement next week is a Giorgio Giorgetti story, “C.L.A.R.A.”, about a computer utilised to improve the declining sporting and academic achievements of Glumthorpe Comprehensive. But is it really the answer? In girls’ comics, computers have a track record of bringing their own problems. Anyway, we begin to find out in the Guy Fawkes issue.

Bessie has to prove her strength for a bet, with a treat at the tuck shop if she wins. Bessie tries to win the bet by cheating (naughty, naughty) but in the end wins (accidentally) by using her bulk as strength.

Betsy Blair’s father is opting for “The Good Life”, living off the land and bartering, after being made redundant. Betsy is finding the change very hard and demeaning when she has been used to such a posh, comfortable life. Plus a snobby neighbour is taking the mick out of her over it and a lot of classmates are laughing. Betsy invites them over for homemade scones, but it’s another big humiliation for her when Mum puts chicken feed in the scones by mistake. At this, Betsy cracks up and screams at her parents.

Bella’s at a Russian gymnastics college, which is going much better for her than in 1975, when a jealous pupil got her expelled before she’d hardly begun. But it looks like jealousy is rearing its ugly head again at a competition: Bella’s doing her floor routine and feels something sharp and painful in her shoe. 

“No Place for Children” – no, not a place where children are banned or is not appropriate for them. It’s a place where all the children are missing. Terri Jennings keeps hearing strange whispers from the adults that it’s somehow connected with wealth they expect to receive, the old quarry that has been sealed off, and kids gossiping.  

Selena Sitting Pretty, our girl pretending to be in a wheelchair at school, has struck another problem – some toughs have thrown her wheelchair into the river and she can’t get it out. She has to continue pretending being crippled to her schoolmates while thinking of a way to retrieve the wheelchair. She succeeds both ways and is sitting pretty again after this close shave. 

In “Rowena and the Realms of Night”, the sequel to “Rowena and the Doves”, Rowena has to rescue her brother Asser, who is in the power of the Nightqueen and her daughter Princess Ygerna. He doesn’t even realise what’s happening to him, and there are only three days left to rescue him. This week Rowena and her companions get trapped in the Caverns of Endless Night. The Caverns are so dark nobody can find their way out unless they are guided by a human voice. 

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.

Tammy 20 May 1978

Tammy cover 20 May 1978

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong)
  • Down to Earth Blairs (artist José Casanovas)
  • Mask for Melissa (artist Angeles Felices)
  • Get Set for Chess
  • Betta to Lose (artist Tony Coleman)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and a Life of Crime (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • The Samaritan – Strange Story (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
  • Edie (artist Joe Collins)
  • Wee Sue (artist Mike White)
  • Circus of the Damned (artist Diane Gabbot)

 

Do you remember the first Jinty, Misty, 2000AD or other favourite comic you ever bought from the shelves? Well, this was the first Tammy I ever bought, and it was from here that my attraction to Tammy and other girls’ comics began.

I suspect even the British bobbies would get a laugh out of the joke on the cover and maybe even pin it up at the station. Perhaps Tammy knew that the UK police slang for traffic warden is “Gestapo”.

Bella has received a new job offer from a Mr Cox to introduce gymnastics to Port Tago, Australia. But when she tries to enter his hotel she gets barred because of her scruffy appearance (well, they do have a point there Bella, and I for one would love to give you an Oubapo makeover!). So she resorts to breaking into the hotel, which gets her taken for a burglar. Can she get Mr Cox before the hotel gets the police onto her?

“Down to Earth Blairs” is Tammy’s answer to “The Good Life”. Redundancy has made the Blair family resort to a life of self-sufficiency, which they’ve come to enjoy, but there are still problems in how to make ends meet. This week it’s how to raise money to pay the rates. A gift from a gypsy gives the daughter Betsy the solution – homemade dolls made out of gypsy clothes pegs.

Melissa Mappin uses a mask to hide facial scars and works under the alias Gail Traynor in a London stage production. But hiding her face and true identity is causing problems, including giving the false impression she is stuck up. Worse, a girl who knew Melissa before the accident that scarred her face has shown up and is getting suspicious of her.

School sports star Betta James decides to start deliberately losing because she is tired of how the school and parents make her win sports all the time at the cost of social life, education, time for herself, and even being able to eat what she likes. But Betta is finding out that deliberately losing is not that easy because she is the winning kind by nature, so now she is resorting to sabotage. Unfortunately another girl is wrongly blamed for Betta’s self-sabotage. What can Betta do?

Miss Stackpole’s lesson on ancient Egypt sends Bessie off into one of her dream sequences. In the dream, she and Miss Stackpole are slaves in ancient Egypt and try to make a run for it. This leads to hijinks in the tomb of King Tut. The dream sequences in Bessie Bunter were always a favourite of mine because seeing the characters get so mixed up and put into different contexts was so funny.

Molly Mills has been on the run ever since Pickering framed her for theft from her employers, the Stantons. Now Molly’s sister Peggy is going off the rails and turning to actual crime. Molly has to resort to some shrewd measures to get Peggy straight again. Now that’s done, Molly is heading back to Stanton Hall, of all places.

There is nothing supernatural in this week’s Strange Story, although the superstitious fools in the story think otherwise. False accusations of witchcraft are levelled against a 17th century French charity worker, Marie Bisset, because her enemies want her out of the way. Fortunately Marie receives warning, and her uncle is also there to help her flee, so she escapes the stake. Nice to hear about one who got away in the witch hunts!

It’s fund-raising time for Wee Sue this week, and her big idea is the greasy pole challenge. Although it raises plenty of funds, it leads to a sticky situation in the end.

Carla Keble has been taken for tightrope star Princess Astrid and brought to Yablonski’s circus. Yablonski wants to make his circus the greatest show on Earth, which he does by blackmailing his performers into dangerous stunts, with no regard for their lives. How many people has he killed because of this? He also holds them prisoner with electric fences, guards and guard dogs, as Carla finds out when she tries to escape that night.

Combining Tammy serials and regulars in Tammy’s Christmas Issue 1977

Art: John Armstrong

Bella Game 1Bella Game 2

Art: Robert MacGillivray

Tammy Christmas feature
Tammy 1977 Christmas celebrations

I was perusing through the Tammys and came across these features that appeared in the issue for 24 December 1977. I put them up to show how Tammy sometimes brought characters from her serials and regulars together in special features and how fascinating it was to see so many characters and features from Tammy combined together. Recent or running serials team up with the Tammy regulars for these special features in the 1977 Christmas issue. This never happened with Jinty.

José Casanovas

Catalan artist José Casanovas (1934 – 2009) was well-known and well-loved by lots of readers, appearing as he did in many British comics over a number of decades. His detailed, stylish, and above all fun art was distinctive and he was credited in various publications, so it is easy to pull together quite a long list of his work (though no doubt still incomplete). Many British readers think of him as a 2000AD artist – that is how I first came across his name myself – and therefore perhaps as an SF artist primarily. If you count up the stories he drew and the titles he appeared in, though, by far the majority of his work seems to be for the girls’ comics market.

The list below has been pulled together with much reference to the Catawiki database in order to fill out the non-Jinty stories, so many thanks to the contributors to that site. (I have included the numbers of episodes listed for each story as per Catawiki, to emphasize how prolific he was. I am fairly sure the records on that site are not complete but it gives a good impression of his work. Of course, please do send in further information if you have it!)

  • Tammy
    • Cinderella Spiteful (1971-72) – 20 episodes
    • Two-Faced Teesha (1973-74) – 10 episodes
    • Ella on Easy Street (1974) – 8 episodes
    • The Town Without Telly (1974) – 12 episodes
    • Wars of the Roses (1975-76) – 11 episodes
    • Babe at St Woods (1976-77) – 39 episodes (you can see some sample pages here)
    • Down To Earth Blairs (1977-78) – 25 episodes
    • Running Rosie Lee (1980) – 10 episodes
    • Tomorrow Town (1982) – 10 episodes from 11 Sept 1982 – 13 Nov 1982.
  • Sandie
    • The Nine Lives of Nat the Cat (1972-73) – 38 episodes
  • Princess Tina & Penelope
    • Have-A-Go Jo (1970) – 25 episodes
  • Jinty
  • Lindy
    • Sophie’s Secret Squeezy (1975) – 7 episodes
  • Penny
    • Pickle, Where Are You? (1979) – 10 episodes

Mistyfan has recently done a post about “Sue’s Daily Dozen” in which she made the point that Casanovas is known for science fiction. There is one science fiction story done by him in a girls’ comic, namely Tammy‘s “Tomorrow Town”, which I take the opportunity to reprint here as being a piece of art that would otherwise not be likely to get a showing on this Jinty-specific blog.

Tomorrow Town pg 1

click thru click thru
click thru click thru

Following Casanovas’ death in 2009, Steve Holland wrote an obituary Bear Alley post here, drawing also on the Spanish-language blog Tebeosfera’s post here. (Do follow this last link to see some lovely artwork from an adaptation of Pollyanna done for the local market.) There was also an interesting comment on 2000AD fan blog the Prog Slog about Casanovas’ work in the boys’ science fiction comics market. He drew well-liked characters Max Normal (some Max Normal art by Casanovas can be seen here) and Sam Slade Robo-Hunter (after Ian Gibson had stopped drawing this latter character). He also drew a number of one-off stories in 2000AD, and a story in Starlord, and people characterise him as a 2000AD artist therefore. The Prog Slog comment here clarifies that: “Casanovas early work for 2000AD, Starlord etc. was sporadic. First appearance was a ‘Future Shock’ in Prog 70 (24 June 1978) a 1.5 pager called ‘Many Hands’. “Good morning Sheldon, I love you” was his next, a six page future shock style one-off written by John Wagner in Starlord 11 (22 July 1978). He drew another one-off Wagner [story] in Starlord 16. There’s a gap then until Progs 148 & 149 (January 1980) where he does a 2-part Ro-Jaws Robo-Tale. He then draws the 11 page Mugger’s Mile by Alan Grant, the first ever Max Normal strip (“The Pinstripe Freak (He’s Dredd’s informer)”) in the first Judge Dredd annual (1981). He goes on to draw more Future Shocks in Prog 220, 241 and 245, another Max Normal in the 1982 JD annual, and again in JD 1983 annual. In the 1982 Sci-Fi Special he draws his first Dredd proper, a 10 pager by Wagner – The Tower of Babel. His first Dredd in the weekly is the excellent “Game Show Show” 2 parter in 278/279, August 1982, Wagner again. He did the second ever ‘Time Twister’ in Prog 295, a 4 pager called Ultimate Video. And that’s as far as my data goes for now, by Prog 300 he’d done 77.5 pages: 32.5 in the weeklies, 10 in specials, 23 in annuals and 12 in Starlord. According to ‘Barney’ online (http://www.2000ad.org) his last work was in Prog 822 (Feb 1993), Robo-Hunter”. The tally of his pages for 2000AD and the like must therefore surely be far outnumbered by the 90+ episodes of his run on Dora Dogsbody in Jinty alone!