Tag Archives: Jaume Rumeu

The Black Widow [1978]

Sample Images

Black Widow 1Black Widow 2Black Widow 3Black Widow 4

Publication: Misty 17 June 1978 – 16 September 1978

Episodes: 14

Artist: Jaume Rumeu

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: Anita 1980 as De Zwarte weduwe [The Black Widow]

Sequel: Spider-Woman, Tammy & Misty, 19 January 1980 – 22 March 1980

Plot 

In “her silken lair, hidden from the eyes of the world” is Mrs Webb, who is to become known to the world as The Black Widow. She calls out to her spiders, “Tonight is the time…the time of the spiders!”

Not far away is Corey End School, where we meet our two protagonists. The first is Sadie Lincoln, who wants to be a scientist. But Sadie has phobia about creepy crawlies, especially (you guessed it) spiders. The science teacher, Miss Dexter, tells Sadie she must overcome this if she is to handle biological specimens and make her way as a scientist. The second is Freda Lawrence, a rather unlikeable girl who thinks Sadie is always sucking up to teachers.

Sadie prefers astronomy as a science, and is spending the night with her telescope. She is surprised to see a type of meteor, which bursts into fragments. She goes out to investigate and finds a capsule containing a spider. She takes it to Miss Dexter, who cannot identify the species, but puts it in an aquarium for study. They are astonished to find it has doubled in size 24 hours later. And it continues to grow. They don’t realise they have captured the spider that should be at the centre of Webb’s new web. Webb goes in search of the spider and says there will be “no mercy for anyone keeping him!”

Webb turns up at the school, suspecting it is the place to start looking for the spider. Telling everyone she is on a mission to save spiders from the cruelty of man, she promises a £5 reward for anyone who brings a spider to her. Figuring she will get more than that if she brings Webb the super-growing spider, Freda steals it from the science lab. Sadie catches Freda and suspects what she is doing. She tags along with Freda to Webb’s house in the hope of grabbing it back.

They are both surprised to find the house is derelict. Inside, they are caught in a mechanical web manned by a giant mechanical spider. But this is actually the mechanism that brings them to Webb’s lair. Webb scares them into handing over the spider.

Webb explains that she and her husband were biological chemists. Her husband was forced to participate in a military biological experiment that killed him when it went wrong. Now she is out for revenge on Britain with the aid of her specially engineered spiders – and with Sadie and Freda, who are going to be her instruments. Freda says if there’s a few bob in it, she will be happy to do it. This disgusts Sadie, who also expresses her fear of spiders. At this, Webb hypnotises Sadie into liking spiders. She then gives Freda a hypnotic prompt “you creep!” This will have Sadie doing whatever Freda commands when she says it. She also imprisons the girls in slave pendants that give them electric shocks whenever they try to remove them. The pendants label Freda as Tara and Sadie as Tula. Finally, Webb gives Freda a bag of spiders for their first test. She then sends them out, with Sadie having no recollection of what happened.

What Webb does not realise is that Freda is not loyal to her because she was too shocked at the sight of the hypnotism done to Sadie. Freda is only playing along with Webb because she does not want to be hypnotised as well.

Using the “you creep!” prompt, Freda has Sadie unleash the spiders at school, which causes a panic. Afterwards, Webb says the spiders have been installed with transmitters, so she can track them on her electronic map.

Sadie has no memory of what happens when the hypnotic power wears off, so she cannot explain her action to her headmistress – or her absenteeism the next day. This is, of course, because they have been directed to their of next target – one Major-General Oliver Bullivant. Webb blames Bullivant for her husband’s death. The girls plant Webb’s spider on Bullivant’s dog. When the spider bites Bullivant, he falls into a paralysis that leaves him incapable of speaking and doctors baffled. However, the investigation, led by Inspector Bird, is soon drawing the right conclusions. Bird is now searching for the spider and the two girls.

Freda wants to call it quits, but when she tries to tell Webb, Webb demands to know the fate of the Bullivant spider. Webb realises the spider is still with Sadie and uses the pendant to summon her – only to find that Sadie has let the spider go. Later, the spider turns up in the papers that a despatch rider is taking to Bullivant’s. The spider bites and paralyses the dispatch rider, causing him to have a crash. Bird realises what happened and is now searching the scene of the accident for the spider. Then Carfax of SI9 turns up and tells Bird that someone stole a batch of spiders that the Ministry had been testing in the stratosphere. The purpose had been to create super-spiders, but the results are unknown because of the theft. Carfax has a pretty good idea who the thief is (guess who?), but is having trouble locating her. The stratosphere theft also explains the “meteor” that Sadie observed earlier.

Meanwhile, the next target is Professor Lawton, who devised the experiment that killed the husband. This time the girls are to plant the spider on Lawton’s baby. But as they leave, they are attacked by rough girls. Freda tells the leader, “Go an’ jump in the lake, you creep!”

Oops – Freda unwittingly used the hypnotic prompt, which has Sadie jumping in the lake and losing the spider. When Webb finds out the spider’s fate, she is hysterical and furious as she regards her spiders as her children. She decides to go out and do the job herself. However, Mrs Lawton intercepts the spider and crushes it, which means another upset for Webb. Also, Lawton compares notes with Bird and they see the connection.

When Webb returns to her base, she gets another shock – Freda has used the hypnotic prompt to get Sadie to smash her tank of beloved spiders. Webb uses her spider powers to turn the spiders on them. Freda pretends that they have learned their lesson and Webb calls the spiders off.

Sadie now understands what is going on and she quietly teams up with Freda. But Webb hypnotises her into delivering a spider to the Prime Minister. Webb plans to use this attack to blackmail Britain into capitulating to her. However, Freda uses the “you creep!” command to bring Sadie back to Webb’s lair to do a more thorough job of smashing the place.

The police arrive. The girls try to explain – and the police are forced to take them seriously when they find millions of spiders crawling all over their car! Soon, the girls are explaining everything to Bird himself.

Meanwhile, there has been a series of blocked drains in London. Investigation reveals an enormous web and equally enormous spider in the drains. It is the spider Sadie captured earlier. It was engineered to be a super-growing spider. It has now grown to giant proportions, feeding on sewer rats – and is still growing! What’s more, it is moving on from rats to people as prey and causing panic in the underground railway station. The giant spider, complete with its web, emerges in Trafalgar Square, which causes even more panic and makes the news. Webb sees the broadcast and gloats, “The day of the spiders is here at last!”

Back at her lair, Webb has less to gloat about when she discovers what the girls have done. But when the authorities arrive, there is no sign of Webb. Then they hear her over a loudspeaker, where she finally delivers her ultimatum: if they want to stop the spider – which is now moving on from Trafalgar Square and travelling across the country via the power lines – they must do what she says. The first of her demands is to bring the girls to a rendezvous point, where the spider is waiting to devour them.

The authorities bring the girls, and Webb orders them to climb up to the spider. But the authorities have prepared a trap. The national grid is down, but the power station is waiting for their signal to turn on the power. Ironically, it is accidentally turned on when an employee is scared by a spider. As planned, the giant spider gets fried. Webb falls to the ground, though not to her death. At the same time, the slave pendants fall off Freda and Sadie. Webb is taken to hospital, but they are surprised when she seems to disappear into thin air from the ambulance. A spider scuttles away from the ambulance unnoticed, and there is a question mark after “The End”.

Thoughts

Misty was huge on scary spider stories and playing on the common fear of arachnophobia. In her very first issue she had “Red Knee – White Terror!” where a girl has many close calls with a poisonous spider without realising it but in the final panel it looks like her luck may have finally run out. Other spider-themed stories included “Web of Lies”, “Dressed to Kill!” and “Spider Woman” (no connection to Mrs Webb) in the 1984 Misty annual. But the Black Widow tops them all. What is not to love – or scare the living daylights out of you – with how she uses spiders as deadly weapons? Poisonous spiders, flesh-eating spiders, and spiders growing to monstrous proportions and emerging from the sewers of London to strike terror into everyone who sees it.

Mrs Webb comes from a long line of mad, evil scientists. However, she is more rounded than most of them as there is a sympathetic element to her. Her insanity stems from the grief of losing her husband, and she believes the military was responsible for it. There may even be some truth to Webb’s suspicions because Bullivant is such a pompous, overbearing, unlikeable git. He forces his unfortunate batman to do jobs that are not supposed to be part of a batman’s job. At any rate, readers must have felt a sneaking sympathy for Webb when she shuts Bullivant up with her spider and felt that she had given Bullivant what was coming to him.

But sympathies for Webb don’t last. After all, she is not just doing it for revenge – she’s doing it for power as well and is out for conquest. In the sequel she will take this a stage further and be out for world conquest. But it’s not just for herself – it’s for the spiders, and she seems to see herself as a champion of them. There are no limits to what she won’t do or the types of spiders she will devise as weapons.

This story gives the military a chance to shine, something it seldom does in girls’ comics. Usually when the military does feature it is in a humorous sense (Annie’s Army in June) or female soldiers (Kitty Hawke in Girl 1). But here the military is portrayed more realistically, given plenty of screen time in the story, and more time is devoted to developing the Army characters. This is all for a very credible reason – Webb’s attack is directly against the Army, and it’s personal. Whoever wrote this story must have been one of the Battle writers.

However, although the military is given more spotlight than girls’ serials usually give it, the centre stage is still given to girl protagonists and the true resolution of the story depends on them. Pairing a principled girl with an unsavoury one is not an unusual one in girls’ comics; Fairy Tale in Princess II was one to use it. What is unusual is that it is the unsavoury girl who is proactive against Webb and is key to resolving the story. By contrast, the more moralistic girl is far less proactive and more prone to succumbing to Webb’s brainwashing. The key is in their strength of character. Freda may be more unpleasant girl, but she is the much stronger and more resourceful of the two girls. She may be greedy, willing to do it for money, but she has her limits. These stop her from turning into Webb’s willing flunky. These also help to redeem Freda as a character. Sadie, by contrast, may be more principled, but she has a weaker personality and is more prone to succumbing to Webb’s power. However, the brainwashing of Sadie enables Freda to turn Webb’s power against her on several occasions.

Mrs Webb was the only Misty villain who was brought back for a sequel. She was not killed off as many of Misty’s villains were, such as Dr Bracken from “The Body Snatchers”. Misty had several of her villains plunging to their deaths, as in “House of Horror”, but Mrs Webb not only survives her fall but escapes as well, with a hint she might be back. Perhaps Misty decided she was too good a villain to kill off. Or maybe it was all those spider menaces that she loved to use time and time again.

 

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Tammy & Misty 4 October 1980

Tammy and Misty cover 4 October 1980

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong)
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Dulcie Wears the Dunce’s Hat (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • The Visitor (artist Tony Coleman) – Strange Stories from the Mist text story
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Plain as Pearl (artist Juliana Buch)
  • Cut-Glass Crystal (artist Tony Coleman)
  • Running Rosie Lee (artist José Casanovas)
  • The Loneliest Girl in the World (artist Jaume Rumeu)

 

In the previous entry we profiled the Tammy that abolishes the Cover Girls and the logo that Tammy had used since her first issue. So now we take a step back and take a look at the issue that was the last to use them. So what did the Cover Girls do for their swansong? As you can see, they had a very hair-raising experience!

Of course the issue has a preview of the new-look Tammy that will be launched the following issue. It starts off with the “great news” blurb, and it is definitely much better news than saying the comic will be merging with another next issue.

New look Tammy preview 11 October 1980

After an absence of several years, Jed and Gert finally return to the pages of Bella. They have fallen on such evil days after Jed gets injured that they’re squatting, in debt, and unable to resume their window cleaning business. Bella feels so sorry for them despite the cruelties they inflicted on her in the past that she helps to revive their business. Will this be the beginning of Bella having improved relations with them though, or will they go back to the Jed and Gert of old? And there is still the matter of how Bella is going to get back into gymnastics.

This is the last issue to have the Misty text stories, which were revived during the merger. It’s a cautionary tale about not messing with blood pacts, especially when they’re sworn on the Bible.

Bessie Bunter makes one of the intermittent appearances she has been making ever since Misty joined Tammy. Bessie is so determined to go on a camping trip because it’s at an apple orchard that she lies about the weather forecast (stormy) and the state of Miss Stackpole’s tent (ripped). Of course Miss Stackpole discovers the truth on the trip, not to mention all the apples Bessie stashed in her tent. Then she and Bessie meet a lion after straying into a safari park and end up in a tree. Meanwhile, Wee Sue gets chased on the beach twice after a couple of mishaps, but it works out well in the end.

“The Loneliest Girl in the World” reaches its penultimate episode. Thank goodness it is for Karen, because she’s just about at the end of her rope with all these crazy goings-on that now go completely bonkers all around her. She’s discovering that everything and everyone around her is just one great big fake – even the forest and its wildlife. Finally, Karen emerges somewhere that at least looks genuine, but it looks like nothing on Earth – oh golly, could that be it?

At the school’s 200th anniversary celebrations, the school snobs, who have always had it in for “Running Rosie Lee”, recreate the Boston Tea Party by throwing Mr Lee’s tea into the school swimming pool to spite Rosie. But Rosie’s revenge is really surprising. Instead of the American Revolution she’s launching the French Revolution against the snobs. Is she going to send the snobs to the guillotine or something?

In “Dulcie Wears the Dunce’s Hat” (because of the dirty tricks Annie Archer keeps playing on her in class, not because she really is useless at schoolwork), Dulcie is swotting hard for exams so she can get rid of the hat. Little does Dulcie know her hard swotting is a waste of time, because Annie is framing her for ruining the exam papers. For some reason this episode got switched with the one in the next issue, so we don’t see what happens when the school discovers the ruined exam papers for two weeks.

This week’s episode of “Plain as Pearl” shows more and more of what vanity, spoiling and pretty looks have done to make Claire a mean, selfish type and why Pearl is so right to keep her modelling job a secret from her. But at the end of the episode Claire could discover it when she drops in to Pearl’s friend Kathy’s house while Pearl is trying on her modelling clothes.

In “Cut-Glass Crystal”, Crystal’s mother and grandmother arrive to take her away from Pitedge. Dad is furious about it. That’s pretty rich of him, considering how hard he has been on Crystal. Crystal has considerable reason to leave Pitedge because she has been such a misfit there, but now there are loyalties to consider. So what will happen?

Tammy & Misty 11 October 1980

Tammy cover 11 October 1980

Cover artist: John Armstrong

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong) – new story
  • The Black Stallion (text and spot photo adaptation) – first episode
  • Sandy and Steve (artist Juliana Buch) – first episode
  • The Loneliest Girl in the World (artist Jaume Rumeu) – final episode
  • Looking Good Booklet part 1 – feature
  • Running Rosie Lee (artist José Casanovas) – final episode
  • Edie and Miss T (artist Joe Collins)
  • Cut-Glass Crystal (artist Tony Coleman) – final episode
  • Plain as Pearl (artist Juliana Buch)
  • Dulcie Wears the Dunce’s Hat (artist Mario Capaldi)

 

This issue of Tammy is a milestone in Tammy’s history. Tammy does away with the logo she has used ever since her first issue (with some tweaks) in favour of one with a more modern and heavier typeset. She still has the Misty logo underneath, though.

Tammy also does away with the Cover Girls, who have graced her cover ever since Sandie merged with Tammy. So that’s John Richardson out of a job. The Tammy covers are using a style similar to the one that Jinty used in her early years before she started using story panels: put the opening page of a story on the cover. However, in this case it was one or two of the first panels, used as splash panels on the whole cover, as opposed to resizing the whole of the first page to fit on the cover. So the story still ran for three pages inside. For the most part it was Bella, as is the case here. Putting Bella directly on the cover must have attracted even more readers to her and to Tammy. Not to mention seeing Bella in full colour. Now and then Bella was on hiatus, so Tammy used other serials on the cover. This style was used for Tammy’s covers throughout 1981 and the Jinty merger. It ended with the 10 July 1982 issue.

The new look Tammy also has some new stories to match. The first is a new Bella story. Bella is helping Uncle Jed and Aunt Gert revive their window cleaning business after Jed’s back injury put it out of action and they have been reduced to squatting. So far Jed and Gert have not mistreated Bella the way they used to, but trouble comes in another form. A gang of hooligans blackmail Bella into one of their schemes, threatening to report her relatives for squatting. Then the scheme goes badly wrong when they are attacked by guard dogs.

Tammy also begins another adaptation, that of “The Black Stallion”. But it is the new serial “Sandy and Steve” that is the most striking, and must have caught readers by a most delightful surprise. For the first time, Tammy is running a boyfriend serial. This was really radical for the time, because at that stage girls’ comics did not run boyfriend serials. Boys and boyfriends, when they appeared, were on the periphery. It’s no wonder Sandy became so popular in Tammy. She spawned two sequels, the last of which had her finally having a boyfriend that she and her father could both agree upon. For the first story, though, Dad does not approve of Sandy dating Steve because he’s a real snob and regards Steve as “riff-raff”. So Dad begins his interfering habit of pairing Sandy up with boys that he deems suitable. Unfortunately the boy’s class and business/political connections with the boy’s parents are what dictate Dad’s choices of ‘suitable’ boyfriends for Sandy. He has no consideration for Sandy’s tastes or wishes. Heaven forbid this man ever goes into the dating agency business!

Also new is Tammy’s “Chatterbox” letters page, which includes a pen friends section.

Three serials end this week, which would open up space for more new serials to match the new-look Tammy. In “Running Rosie Lee” (abbreviated to “Rosie Lee” in the issue) the tea theme that’s been running throughout the story ends with it running up against its rival – coffee. “Cut-Glass Crystal” decides to stay on in her father’s hometown of Pitedge despite all the difficulties she has been having there.

The ending for “The Loneliest Girl in the World” is one of the most memorable ever in girls’ comics and still crops up in comic book discussions. In fact, the entry has been updated to include a scan of the episode below. Karen Chalmers finally learns the human race destroyed itself in a worldwide nuclear war and she is the last human. She begs the aliens who rescued her and tried to hide the truth from her to send her back in time before the war so she can die with her parents instead. Moreover, Karen goes back without losing her memory of what happened in the story (as happened in “The Human Zoo”), so she knows what is coming to her and her parents. The story looks like it was originally written for Misty.

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Something very odd happened with this week’s issue of “Dulcie Wears the Dunce’s Hat”: the episodes for this week and last week got swapped. Anyway, in the episode we do get, spiteful Annie Archer takes her tricks up the notch that so many troublemakers do, and it’s the notch that always advances the story to its climax and ultimately, its resolution. Annie is no longer content with getting kicks out keeping Dulcie in the dunce’s hat by sabotaging her schoolwork. After Dulcie unknowingly puts Annie’s nose out of joint in this episode she’s out to destroy Dulcie altogether.

Juliana Buch has started on Sandy while still drawing another of Tammy’s popular serials, “Plain as Pearl”. This could be a sign that Pearl is beginning to reach the end. Pearl Kent has taken a job as a model to raise the money to send her sick mother on holiday. However she has to keep it secret from her foster family or the daughter Claire will be jealous and start spitefully interfering. Now this makes a change, having the protagonist actually anticipating a thing like this instead of the usual format of the antagonist causing trouble for the protagonist behind her back. The episode opens with Pearl having a close call with Claire, but now there’s another problem – Mum has had such a serious relapse and is so unresponsive to treatment that she may never be fit enough for the holiday.

Monster Tales [1982]

Sample Images

 

Published: Tammy & Jinty 9 January 1982 to 10 July 1982

Artists: Hugo D’Adderio, Phil Townsend, Mario Capaldi, Ken Houghton, Jaume Rumeu, John Richardson, Peter Wilkes, Manuel Benet, Tony Coleman

Writers: Roy Preston? Others unknown

Monster Tales was a very unconventional feature that started during the Tammy & Jinty merger. As the name suggests, it was a series where a monster of some sort was central to the tale. The monsters included gargoyles, sea monsters, man-eating plants, possessed objects or elements, dolls, demons, werewolves, freaks, and even the innocuous proving it could be monstrous.

Some of the monsters were just plain evil e.g. “Hearts of Oak”, and the forces of good did not always win against them. Others, such as “The Gargoyle” (below), were used for comeuppance purposes and punishing/reforming unpleasant characters (bullying, stealing, nosiness etc) in the spirit of Misty.

Some were even friendly monsters, or at least not as bad as originally thought, that saved the day. One example of this was “The Fire Monsters”, (below) which turned the cruel punishment of burning at the stake right around. Another was “Curse of the Werewolf”, where girls are left wondering if a feared werewolf from the Middle Ages was all that bad after vandals get captured in a manner that nobody can explain – except that the werewolf lent a hand.

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Being a monster was also used as a punishment. For example, in “The Devil’s Mark”, a man is transformed into a demon dog as a punishment for his cruelty to dogs. The curse could only be lifted by making up for his cruelty, which he does by getting help for the dogs he neglected.

Monster Tales worked in rotation with the Strange Stories, which now alternated between the Storyteller and Gypsy Rose. In fact, at least two of the Monster Tales (“Stones of Light” and “The Fool on the Hill”) were recycled Strange Stories, so other recycled Strange Stories must have made their way into the Monster Tales too.

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As neither Tammy nor Jinty were likely to have conceived such an idea, I wonder if it was a carryover from Misty, which had merged with Tammy earlier. Perhaps Monster Tales was originally drafted for Misty, but no room emerged in the merger until Wee Sue, Molly and Bessie had stopped their individual strips and the characters were being rotated with Tansy of Jubilee Street in the “Old Friends” slot. Some of the Monster Tales were indeed so dark that they could be straight out of Misty herself. The cruellest of them all was arguably “Freak Tide” (above), where cruel owners of a Victorian freak show are abducted and taken to a sea-monster world. There they become the freaks in a cruel freak show, and unlike the freaks they once mistreated, they have no chance of escape. What’s more, they have nothing to wear but their nightshirts.

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When the new-look Tammy was launched on 17 July 1982, Monster Tales stopped running. However, there were still monster-themed stories appearing for a while such as “Black Teddy” and “Bird of Fear”. I suspect these were unpublished scripts from Monster Tales being used up. These stories credited Roy Preston as the writer, so it is reasonable to assume Preston wrote a good deal of the Monster Tales too.

“Women Making Girls Comics” – talk at the House of Illustration, 16 April 2016

Along with Dr Mel Gibson, David Roach, and a good-sized audience, on Saturday I took part in a lively and high-quality discussion about female creators of girls comics and many other related topics. It was organized as part of the Comix Creatrix exhibition of female comics artists; a great subject for an exhibition (particularly timely in the light of the kerfuffle at the Angouleme festival this year). As tends to be the case, UK children’s comics didn’t get much of a look-in at the exhibition, though there is a page of Evelyn Flinders pencil art and an incomplete piece of Shirley Bellwood unpublished Misty art both on display. The exhibition is focused on mature readers on purpose – hence the ‘x’ in the word ‘comix’ – but the gap in the coverage of UK girls comics was pretty palpable following discussions on co-organizer Paul Gravett’s facebook page. And lo, it came to pass that some months later the three of us named above were convened at the House of Illustration, near King’s Cross.

Paul Gravett introduced us all to kick off the proceedings, and Mel gave a more in-depth introduction of our various areas of specialities. Phoenix has described the event from his perspective, over on the Comics UK Forum, and there are some other posts on social media by attendees, with further description and photos. The talk was some two hours long (until shortly before it started I’d assumed it would be just 1 hour or so, but there was so much to talk about it never dragged!) and included time for questions as we went along, and afterwards too.

I can’t at this point cover everything that we discussed, partly because I was obviously not in a position to take notes, and partly because of lack of time. I understand that the venue is supposed to have been recording the discussion, and assuming that is forthcoming I will update with details of how to listen to the recording. There are a couple of immediate points of ‘breaking news’ arising from the event, though – David Roach has dug out a set of samples by Emilia Prieto, who is clearly the artist on “Sceptre of the Toltecs” and “Kerry In The Clouds” – both art and signature match. It’s not very clear to me right now as to how the original misattribution could have happened, but the signatures of both artists are very similar, and of course there is always the question of whether a pseudonym was used at any point. I shall nevertheless be amending this blog’s references to specify “Emilia Prieto” instead.

Emilia Prieto
NB artist signature was seen on a different piece of art that I did not photograph

David also clarified some outstanding questions about the artist on “The Cult of the Cat”, credited on this blog as “H. Romeu” or “Honiera Romeu”. The artist’s pen name for many years was “Homero”, riffing off the Homer of antiquity (and ‘Honiera’ must therefore simply be a typo that crept in somewhere along the line). From the end of the 1970s or the beginning of the 1980s he reverted to his real surname (he was a Catalan, and in the Franco era it was forbidden to use Catalan surnames – people had to use the Castilian equivalent) for all purposes. So his real name, which I will change all the references on this blog to use, is “Jaume Rumeu”. However, as his penname during the relevant period was still Homero, I will include this as reference too. It may take a little time to apply this change consistently so do bear with me.

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One of the discussions points that I was particularly intrigued to hear was the fact that David catalogued some 40,000 pages of Amalgamated Press / Fleetway artwork, and had sight of the payment books from the relevant times – between the 1940s and 1960s I think he said. Between that and the fact that he has information originating from Barry Coker’s agency which dealt directly with many Spanish artists, David clearly has a huge amount of knowledge that is not only derived from long experience of analysing art, but also from actual records and archives. Watch this space for a future email interview with him, therefore!

 

Tammy and Misty 19 January 1980

Tammy and Misty cover 19 January 1980

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Bella – new story (artist John Armstrong)
  • Daughter of the Desert (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Sister in the Shadows (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • Spider Woman – first episode (artist Jaume Rumeu aka Homero Romeu)
  • Edie and Miss T (artist Joe Collins)
  • Put Yourself in the Picture! – Quiz (artist Juliana Buch)
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Friend Pepi – Strange Story from the Mists (artist José Ariza?)
  • Make the Headlines, Hannah! (artist Tony Coleman)
  • Cindy of Swan Lake (artist Ana Rodriguez)

Sometimes we deviate from the main topic to bring attention to topics that are related to Jinty. So this entry goes off-topic to discuss the issue where Misty merged with Tammy.

The merger brings one change to the Tammy logo – the floral patterns disappear and the font becomes solid, straight red.

The merger still resonates years later – mostly because a number of Misty readers were not happy with it and wanted the original back. The short-lived Best of Misty Monthly that appeared some years after the merger was a response to the demand for the return of Misty. A “Best of” monthly was something neither Tammy nor Jinty ever had, though Girl (series 2) did get one as well. Even today, there are efforts to bring Misty back in one form or other.

At the time, the merger itself must have been something of a disappointment for a number of Misty readers because there was not much Misty in it (it was for me, and I was a Tammy reader). Things did not improve much once Tammy’s current serials finished, which would have made more room for overt Misty material. “The Loneliest Girl in the World”, “The Sea Witches”, (possibly) “A Girl Called Midnight”, “Danger Dog” and “The Shadow of Sherry Brown” look like they may have come from Misty. Some of them, such as “The Loneliest Girl in the World”, were undoubtedly Misty. But in other cases it can be hard to say if the spooky story was Misty or Tammy; after all, Tammy ran spooky stories too. Later on, Misty’s text stories returned; they must have taken the advice of one reader who suggested it. Mini-serial spooky stories, such as “The House Mouse”, also appeared occasionally, just as they did in the original Misty.

Edie and Miss T

Misty arguably made her mark more in the Strange Stories, which became “Strange Stories from the Mist”, with Misty herself being rotated with the Storyteller. Miss T and Edie merged into one cartoon, which is a simple matter, because Joe Collins drew them both. They are a bit of an odd couple (ordinary girl and witch), which perhaps made the cartoon even better. Once Snoopa joined in the Jinty merger, they became “The Crayzees”.

Misty also brought a darker tone into Tammy, which was still felt even during the Tammy and Jinty merger, when “Monster Tales” started. There was no way either Tammy or Jinty would run anything like that – it had to be Misty. Perhaps “Monster Tales” was originally conceived for Misty, but there was no room until Bessie, Wee Sue and Molly Mills were amalgamated into one feature “Old Friends”, which they shared in rotation.

Some letters from Tammy readers indicate that the incorporation of Misty must have been a shock to them. Several commented that they found her spooky theme not only unsettling but unrealistic as well. Indeed, “Spider Woman” (a sequel to “The Black Widow” from Misty) must have given them all nightmares full of spiders. Spider Woman is an insane scientist who could well have been the first villain in Tammy to be out for world domination. Even more frightening, the story plays on the common fear of spiders to heights that Tammy readers had never seen before. We see spiders capable of eating people alive and leaving only the bones, giant spiders, poisonous spiders, and even a serum that can turn a human being into a spider!

Spider Woman 1

 

Spider Woman 2

The merger issue also has a very interesting quiz that shows that Tammy and Misty made serious efforts to accustom readers to the tone of the two different comics. Here readers are not only invited to imagine themselves in the places of the heroines in the story, but are also informed about the stories that will replace the currently running “Cindy of Swan Lake”, “Sister in the Shadows”, “Daughter of the Desert” and “Make the Headlines, Hannah!” This is the only case where I have seen upcoming stories being revealed in this way. Normally we are not informed about any new stories until the week before they start. The quiz also informs us that Bessie Bunter has been demoted from a regular weekly strip to a character “who you’ll meet from time to time”.

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In later weeks, Tammy and Misty ran another feature to get readers further acquainted with Tammy regulars (two of whom, Bessie and Molly, were not even appearing at the time). This was “Misty’s House of Mystery”, a game where Tammy regulars Sue, Bella, Bessie and Molly are caught in Misty’s House of Mystery, which is full of horrors such as blood showers and man-eating plants! The game is reproduced below. Imagine Jinty regulars going through a thing like that….

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And in this issue, Bella starts her bid for the Moscow Olympics by entering the world qualifier in Texas, with the help of her coach and her wealthy guardians, the Courtney-Pikes. Sounds like Bella’s hopes for the Olympics are better than in her 1976 Montreal Olympics story, where she had to make her way alone without even a passport, but only got as far as participating in the opening ceremony. But unexpected expenses that cause money shortages, unhelpful Texan coaches, and the sudden withdrawal of the Courtney-Pikes without explanation are already leaving her up the proverbial creek without a paddle before the event even begins.

Tammy Annual 1986

Tammy annual 1986

  • Cover artist: Mario Capaldi
  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Animal Magic (feature)
  • The Bell – Strange Story (artist Jaume Rumeu aka Homero Romeu)
  • Crayzees (artist Joe Collins)
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Wish Upon a Star (feature)
  • The Black and White World of Shirley Grey (artist Diane Gabbot)
  • Party Pieces (feature)
  • Bella (artist John Armstrong)
  • The Crayzees (artist Joe Collins)
  • Yule Tide – text story (artist Tony Coleman, writer Ian D. Mennell)
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Snow – poem (writer Deborah Pfeiffer)
  • What’s Your Resolution? (quiz)
  • Sally’s Secret – Strange Story (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Animal Magic
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Second Sight – Button Box story in text (artist John Johnston, writer Ian D. Mennell)
  • Animal Magic
  • ‘Make It’ a Great Year! (feature)
  • Flutter by, Butterfly! (feature)
  • Sweet Eats (feature)
  • The Crayzees (artist Joe Collins)
  • Snowy, the Christmas Snowman (feature)
  • The Crayzees (artist Joe Collins)
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Molly Mills and the Sporting Life (artist Douglas Perry)

This was the last Tammy annual, with a gorgeous cover from Mario Capaldi. Capaldi had illustrated several covers for the Jinty annual and one for the Misty annual, but this was his first – and last – cover for the Tammy annual. Could it well be the last cover Capaldi ever produced for any girls’ annual as well? By this time the IPC girls’ titles had faded and DCT had taken more of a centre stage.

Pam of Pond Hill leads off the annual with her last Christmas story. Pam and Goof are sent to collect the Christmas tree for the school. Sounds simple and foolproof? Pam and Goof find out it’s anything but.

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Pam 1 Pam 2Pam 3Pam 4

The two text stories, “Yule Tide” and “Second Sight” take the unusual step of crediting the writer, Ian D. Mennell. “Second Sight” is unique for being the only Button Box story ever published as a text story, and it is a story that I have always enjoyed. Carmal, an Oriental girl, starts out as a selfish rich girl. Not surprising, considering that her uncle is a rogue. She mistreats a blind busker by putting buttons in his bowl instead of coins. But karma strikes when the uncle’s victims take a revenge attack that leaves Carmal blind and alone, and she is taken in by the very same busker she had mistreated. She learns his trade, and also learns what it is like to have mean people throw worthless rubbish in your busking bowl instead of money. In the process she becomes a more considerate and kind person – and so has the uncle, once he has tracked her down.

Meanwhile, Capaldi’s picture Button Box story is about a housemaid who hates her job because she is an outdoor type. When she foils a robber (realising he left a loose button from his jacket at the scene of the crime), it opens up a new career for her as a policewoman and enjoying the great outdoors on the beat.

Talking of housemaids, the last Molly Mills annual story reprints “The Sporting Life”, an annual sports event between the villagers and the Stanton Hall staff. Normally the villagers get on well with Stanton Hall, but when it comes to sports day it is far from a friendly match. It’s a needle event, and the needles are sharper than usual because the villagers have Olympic hopefuls on their team, and then spoilsport Pickering bans the staff from training after he gets caught up in mishaps from it.

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The poem “Snow” is also given a credit. The writer is Deborah Pfeiffer. This is the only work in Tammy credited to Pfeiffer.

The reprints are taken from 1981, including Diane Gabbot’s second-to-last Tammy story, “The Black and White World of Shirley Grey”. The original run had the honour of starting in Tammy’s 10th birthday issue. Shirley Grey refuses to tell lies in the wake of an accident she irrationally blames herself for. But Shirley is taking it to such extremes that she refuses to tell even a white lie, no matter what the circumstances. You can imagine what that leads to, and it starts with the boss’s wife asking Shirley what she thinks of her dress (which is hideous!).

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shirley 1 shirley 2shirley 3

The annual is the one that stops the Bessie Bunter appearances. I find this a bit sad as I have always been a big fan of Bessie. Maybe there was no room for Bessie, or the editors decided she had had her day? If they did, it may reflect what happened in the regular comic. Bessie’s days became numbered in 1980 after Tammy swallowed Misty. During the merger Bessie was demoted from regular appearances to “from time to time” appearances while Wee Sue and Molly were still going strong.

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bella

The Bella story is more intriguing in that Tammy is taking a serious attempt to giving the colouring more of a 3-D look in the use of the hues and tones. In the previous annuals this was only applied to skin toning, but now it is being applied to everything. The story has Bella losing her confidence because she is under a cloud that she won a medal by default when her rival withdrew. Bella’s coach is handling her badly, which only makes matters worse. But of course things turn around and it ends with Bella all set to make the coach eat his words. And it’s nice to see Bella’s last annual story focus on her gymnastics and not the machinations of Jed and Gert, which were the most frequent basis of Bella’s annual stories.

In the last Wee Sue story in the annual, Sue’s final word is “’bye!.” I wonder if this is meant to be a double meaning as this is the last-ever Tammy annual, and this particular reprint chosen for this reason.

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Jinty Annual 1984

Jinty annual 1984

  • The Talking Cat (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Wet Day Fun (feature)
  • Forget-Me-Not at Christmas (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Could You be Top of the Form? (quiz)
  • The Four-Footed Friends (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • The Dog with No Name (text story)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)
  • Flower Power (feature)
  • Your Star Qualities (feature)
  • It’s Sausage Time (feature)
  • Capitals of the World (feature)
  • Pet Quiz
  • Fun with Foil (feature)
  • The House across the Way
  • Write On! (feature)
  • Let’s Make Mobiles! (feature)
  • Get Stripy Knitting Pattern (feature)
  • Alley Cat
  • Are You a Good Sport? (quiz)
  • Is It True? (feature)
  • Back to School (feature)
  • Water Safety (feature)
  • The Enchanted Place (text story)
  • Sweet ‘n’ Simple (feature)
  • Children in Other Countries (feature)
  • The Maze Craze (puzzles)
  • Are You a Real Friend? (quiz)
  • Paint a Puppet (feature)
  • Princess Punkerella (artist Jaume Rumeu aka Homero Romeu)
  • Don’t Tell Stories, Brian (text story)
  • The School Journey (game)

Jinty annual 1984 was the last Jinty annual to have any recognisable Jinty material. The next two would be a collection of reprints that were taken from older annuals and were Jinty in name only. Stories that are recognisably Jinty are Alley Cat, Snoopa, and reprints of The Four-Footed Friends and Forget-Me-Not at Christmas. But there is no trace anywhere of Gypsy Rose or Pam of Pond Hill. What appear to be new material are “The Talking Cat”, “Princess Punkerella” and the text stories. And the annual is heavy on features, such as recipes, art & craft, quizzes, general knowledge and games.

We get some Misty in this annual. “The House Across the Way” is a surprise in that it is a reprint from Misty #16. “Princess Punkerella” could be straight out of Misty too, as it is drawn by Honiera Romeu, who was a regular Misty artist. The story is worthy of Misty too, as it concerns a punk girl, Ella Jones, who tries to extort money out of an old lady. The old lady says that her purse has nothing but three wishes. Ella uses the first two wishes to satisfy her greed, but as you might expect, it backfires and Ella’s third wish is to wish she had never met the old woman. Yet this story never appeared in Misty. Neither did “The Talking Cat”, which could be straight out of Misty as well. Shona finds her beloved cat Clovis, who has been taken ill, can suddenly talk. The reason is that he is possessed by an alien, and it’s not long before all the cats in the neighbourhood are talking too! It all turns out to be a dream, but of course Clovis recovers.

While this can be described as the last substantial Jinty annual, it is a bit disappointing that it does not use more Jinty material, even just more reprints. Some of the shorter Jinty stories, such as Tale of the Panto Cat, could have been recycled, and likewise with Gypsy Rose tales. Why did Jinty not use more of her own material – legal reasons, maybe? Or economics? Still, this annual would still satisfy any reader who wants a good read from cover to cover.