The Secret of Trebaran – (artist Giorgio Cambiotti) – final episode
Maisie’s Magic Eye – artist Robert MacGillivray
Little Miss Nothing (artists Miguel Rosello, Luis Bermejo, Miguel Quesada, writer Alan Davidson) – first episode
Betina at Ballet School
Beattie Beats ‘Em All! (artist John Armstrong)
Sara’s Kingdom (artist Bill Mainwaring)
The Girls of Liberty Lodge (artist Dudley Pout)
“Our Janie” – Little Mum (artist Colin Merrett)
No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
For the month of June we are having another Tammy round, which will profile a Tammy issue from the month of June for each Tammy year. We begin with the first June issue of Tammy in 1971.
In this issue, it’s the final episode of “The Secret of Trebaran”, one of the first stories from the first Tammy lineup. Its replacement next week is “Gandora the Golden”. Others from the first Tammy lineup, “Slaves of ‘War Orphan Farm’”, “Betina at Ballet School”, “The Girls of Liberty Lodge”, “Glen – A Lonely Dog on a Quest”, “No Tears for Molly”, and “’Our Janie’ – Little Mum” are still going strong, and it’s been four months since they started. Molly went on to become one of the longest-running regulars in Tammy, which showed she was the most powerful of the first lineup. Beattie, who joined later, is still going strong, and is the first Tammy strip drawn by John Armstrong. Cat Girl, “Maisie’s Magic Eye” and “Sara’s Kingdom”, which came over from Sally, are still going happily as well.
Douglas Perry artwork appears in Tammy for the first time – and on the first page – with the start of Perry’s first Tammy story, “Neville’s Island”. Thirty girls from St Edburgha’s are lured to a mysterious island. And we all know what happens when girls are lured to an island in girls’ comics – it’s a trap! To make things even more mysterious, the plot is being engineered by a ominous-sounding elderly woman in a wheelchair who won’t show her face. Once the unsuspecting girls are in the trap, she says, “Now they shall begin to suffer. All of them.” But why? From the sound of it, it’s revenge for being bullied at the school, but there’s probably more to it than that. It all adds to the mystery that has to be solved if the girls are to escape.
Also starting this issue is the first episode of “Little Miss Nothing” (written by Alan Davidson, not Pat Davidson aka Anne Digby, as has been sometimes stated). This story is noted for setting the “Cinderella” template that so many Tammy stories were to follow, the most famous of which was Bella Barlow. Update: an entry on this story has now been posted here.
“Little Miss Nothing” Annabel Hayes is regarded by her family as a nobody and they treat her as a drudge. It’s her younger sister Dora who gets the lion’s share in everything. Annabel shines at dressmaking, but her hopes of making a career out of it are dashed when the family move to be closer to Dora’s modelling school. Dad illegally yanks Annabel out of school to slog all day at the family market stall to pay for Dora’s school fees, makes her sleep in an attic, and not a word about her treatment or she’ll suffer. Wow, things are really piled on our Cinderella in the first episode alone. But then Annabel spots something in the attic that could turn things around.
The Secret of Trebaran – first episode (artist Giorgio Cambiotti)
The Girls of Liberty Lodge – first episode (artist Dudley Pout)
Slaves of “War Orphan Farm” – first episode (artist Desmond Walduck, writer Gerry Finley-Day)
Dawn and Kerry Double for Trouble – first episode (artist Giorgio Letteri, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
“Our Janie” – Little Mum – first episode (artist Colin Merritt)
Betina at Ballet School – first episode
My Father – My Enemy! – first episode
Courier Carol – first episode (artist Jean Sidobre)
Glen (later called Glen – A Lonely Dog on a Quest) – first episode (artist Jim Baikie)
Tammy Club Page – Feature
Castaways on Voodoo Island – first episode (artist Ken Houghton)
No Tears for Molly – first episode (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
Cats and Kittens – Feature
Recently we had an entry for the last Tammy ever published. So it is seems appropriate that there should be one for the first Tammy as well.
The cheery blonde girl who greets us on the cover (which has far better colouring than its 2009 facsimile reprint) belies the content that is waiting inside. For Pat Mills and Gerry Finley-Day intended that Tammy would revolutionise girls’ comics, which more typically went for stories about ballet, school and ponies. Instead, Tammy would lead a revolution by going for the dark side of comics. She would print stories filled with suffering, misery, cruelty, and pushing the envelope with over-the-top ways to torture the heroines. Parents and teachers hated it, which was a sure sign it was working.
Tammy’s welcome to her readers stated: “…for the whole gang of us here have tried to make it the kind of picture-story paper we think you want…I just hope we’ve succeeded and that you’ll go on reading and enjoying Tammy every week”.
They must have succeeded – sales of Tammy skyrocketed, and it would blaze the trail for the early Jinty, and Action and Battle.
The first story that readers see when they open the issue is a supernatural story, “The Secret of Trebaran”, which is quite a blend of time travel, evil sorcerer and period story. Trudy Smith thinks her holiday in Cornwall is as dull as ditch water – until she comes across a mysterious medallion that sends her travelling back in time to when the island of Trebaran was a thriving community instead of the ruin it is today, and nobody knows why it ended up that way. Trudy is about to become part of that mystery, of course. But it’s already threatening to get her burned at the stake for witchcraft when Puritans encounter her tape recorder and hear what it can do!
The next story is the first of the stories in the pioneering dark side, “The Girls of Liberty Lodge”. We meet Miss Steele, the bully headmistress of Hardington Hall, whose ideas of discipline are put girls on ‘trial’ in a kangaroo court in front of the whole school. Good grief! Miss Valentine, the only kind teacher in the whole school, is so appalled that she quits to start her own school, Liberty Lodge, which is set up as the antithesis of Hardington Hall. But Miss Steele is not having that, and is determined to bring down Liberty Lodge any way she can.
Story three is the Queen of Cruelty in Tammy’s lineup – “Slaves of ‘War Orphan Farm’”. This story is regarded as perhaps the cruellest strip ever in girls’ comics. Ma Thatcher (named for the future Prime Minister) takes in war orphans, ostensibly to give them a home for the duration of WW2. In reality, she forces them to work in a quarry and contracts them out as slave labour to other farmers.
“Dawn and Kerry” takes a break from the cruelty with two good friends who turn into sleuths when they get caught in a storm and have to take shelter in a creepy hall, Whispering Heights. They meet a girl who seems to be a prisoner of the place, and now they are prisoners themselves!
The fourth story, “‘Our Janie – Little Mum!’”, returns to the suffering. Janie Greaves has been mother to the family since Mum died, but now more tragedy is tearing the family apart. Dad has been landed in hospital with serious injuries, social welfare is threatening to split the family up, and now her brother’s being arrested!
The first lineup of a new girls’ comic just wouldn’t be complete without a ballet story, and “Betina at Ballet School” is it. Betina Brooks wins a scholarship to a ballet school. But snobbery is against her – and it’s coming from the teachers. This story would spawn an early Tammy sequel, “Betina and the Haunted Ballet”.
“My Father – My Enemy!” delves into the horrors of Victorian exploitation and child labour with Mr Jeffries, who cares nothing for the suffering of his miners and their families. But his daughter Julie is more compassionate and she goes against her own father to do what she can to help them.
“Courier Carol” is the only story in the Tammy lineup to have any humour. Carol Jones and her uncle run a coach tour with a difference – a vintage coach that picks up a lot of laughs on the way. But they pick up trouble too, in the form of a rival coach business run by the man who had tried to buy them out.
Humour and hijinks are definitely short in the first lineup; there isn’t even a cartoon feature starring a “funny”. If there is one problem with the first Tammy stories, it is that they lean too heavily towards stories filled with suffering, hardship and cruelty. There is little counterbalance in the form of laughs and light relief. The first Jinty, though she would have her share of dark, cruel stories with tortured heroines (especially “Merry at Misery House”), she would include more humour and slapstick in her first lineup than the first Tammy lineup did.
And it soon gets back to it with “Glen” (later called “Glen – A Dog on a Lonely Quest”). Glen is an abused dog (yes, more cruelty) who sets out to find the girl who saved him when his abusive owner tried to drown him. And the girl’s name is June – coincidence or what?
The facsimile reprint reproduces only page one of the Tammy Club from the original. The editor knew readers would want one, and Susie is the secretary who presents the details on how to join and what to expect.
The reprint also omits the next story, “Castaways on Voodoo Island”, for some reason. Perhaps it is because this story is considered a weak one. Girls find themselves castaways on an island where they fall foul of a weird witch doctor. At least it makes a change from being tortured and abused by bullies and slave drivers.
Finally, we come to the story where the heroine would endure no less than 10 years of cruelty, abuse, bullying and suffering in Tammy. These would include being tied up and beaten, locked in a flood dungeon, freezing cold duckings in a lake, and being clamped in the stocks, would you believe? She would end up holding a joint record with Bella Barlow as Tammy’s longest running character. This is, of course, Molly Mills, a 1920s maidservant. She has the bad luck to arrive at the same time as bully butler Pickering, who would become her arch-nemesis at Stanton Hall. Her strip was originally entitled “No Tears for Molly” and the title would stick several years, despite the fact that it is a complete misnomer. Right from the very first episode we see Molly crying. No tears for Molly, huh? And now she’s been sacked too, because of a dirty trick from the other two maids who are destined to give her more trouble in the years to come. As if Pickering weren’t bad enough!