Tag Archives: John Armstrong

Bella at the Bar: Book One

Bella at the Bar 1

 

Tammy has now joined the slew of reprint volumes that Misty and Jinty are enjoying. And it makes sense for Tammy to begin with her most popular and enduring character, Bella Barlow. Bella never had the polarising among Tammy readership that Molly Mills had; many loved Molly while others hated her, frequently saying she was boring, and so stupid for not standing up to that bully butler, Pickering. Bella, by contrast, just seemed to grow and grow in popularity. She began as a regular Cinderella-themed story, a style that was so popular in Tammy’s early years. But instead of allowing Bella’s story to end on the Cinderella happy ending, readers brought her back by popular demand, where she endured a story that was even more cruel than the first time around. From there Bella came back again and again until she held a joint record with Molly as Tammy’s longest-running character.

The volume reprints Bella’s first two stories. The first one, already discussed here, tells us how Bella battled to overcome her window-cleaning drudgery, her memorably cruel Uncle Jed and Aunt Gert, snobbery, class distinction, depression and even injury to pursue her gymnastics dream. In true fairy tale fashion she is ultimately delivered from her guardians to pursue her gymnastics at a Russian gymnastics school. There it was expected to end, as so many Cinderella-themed Tammy stories had done. But not in the case of Bella Barlow. Popular demand brought her back, where she is flung into even more dregs of darkness. Bella’s time at the gymnastics school is tragically cut short before it’s hardly begun when a jealous rival, Natalia Orlov, gets her expelled on a false charge. It is not only back to the old window-cleaning drudgery with her horrible relatives – who treat her even worse than before – but also suffering unjust disgrace and ostracism in the public eye. Can Bella keep up her beloved gymnastics under these dual pressures? And how the heck can Bella clear her name?

At the time of the original print of the Bella sequel, there were a huge number of letters on it, many of which expressed confidence that Bella would triumph and be exonerated. Some even (correctly) guessed it had something to do with Bella running up against Natalia again. But the editor always said to those guesses: “Wait and see.” And when we do, we see the groundwork has been laid for a third Bella story in which she has to overcome yet another hurdle to get back into gymnastics. And Tammy says it will be starting soon.

Jenny McDade wrote the first two Bella stories. Future Bella volumes – which we eagerly anticipate – will tell if McDade wrote more Bella before the strip passed to other writers. When we read the stories in the volume we get a taste of how good writers helped to make titles like Tammy so great in their heyday. But contrary to the impression the volume might give, McDade did not start on Tammy with Bella Barlow. Her first Tammy story was “Star-Struck Sister” in 1972, which she took over after the first episode. It was also how McDade cut her teeth on writing for girls’ comics.

It has been decades since British girls enjoyed titles like Tammy and avidly followed exploits like those of Bella Barlow, Wee Sue, Molly Mills, The Four Marys and The Comp. Sadly, they have all vanished. To today’s generation of girls, the comics that girls used to know and love so well must be an unknown commodity, along with the characters who helped to make them so great. So the first reprint volume of Bella Barlow would not only bring back nostalgia for former Tammy readers but also give the new generation a taste of why girls’ comics used to be so popular, and what made Tammy such a hit in her earliest years: Cinderella theme, tortured heroine, adversity on all sides, a will that refuses to be beaten by it all, determination to triumph with a special talent and claim the happiness that is the heroine’s by right. And all brought to life by one of the most brilliant girls’ comics artists of all time – John Armstrong. To this day, John Armstrong’s fluid, brilliantly rendered anatomic artwork on gymnastics, sports and ballet is unmatched and simply mouth-watering. This was what always sold the Bella strip for me. It should do so for the new generation as well and leave them wondering why they don’t make British comics like that anymore.

 

 

 

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A History of Tammy Covers

The cover is the first thing the potential reader sees when they see the comic book on the shelf. The cover is what catches their eye, draws them in, arouses their interest, and induces them to buy it. Throughout the run of a comic, the cover will change dramatically in accordance with changes in public tastes, artists, levels of sophistication, and even the type of paper. Therefore compiling the history of the cover of a particular comic can tell you a lot about how things have changed in comics over the decades.

In this entry we are going to look at the history of the covers Tammy produced throughout her 13-year run and how they changed to make her a drawing card to the readers.

We begin with the very first issue, 6 February 1971. The girl on the cover is Tammy herself, showing off the bracelet and ring that come with the first issue. It is a very bright, happy cover, which belies the dark content that features in so many of the stories within, especially “Slaves of ‘War Orphan Farm'”. The floral-patterned logo is the one that will stay the same for nine years, though there were some exceptions to its regular layout. It most often appeared in red, but other colours were used on occasion. The floral pattern is unusual when girls’ comics used solid lettering. Perhaps the flowers were intended to be a further contrast to the dark content the early Tammy was known for.

Tammy 6 February 1971

First Tammy cover: original

Successive covers until Sandie merged with Tammy on 27 October 1973 were pretty cover girl covers, showing happy girls engaged in various activities such as leisure and sport. Again they continued to belie the grim content (slave stories, Cinderella stories, bullying stories) that continued to feature with stories like “The Four Friends at Spartan School”. A number of the covers had a flat, stiff, one dimensional look to the artwork, which was probably fine at the time but looks a bit unappealing now.

On occasion though, an issue had a full cover that was inspired by a serial inside Tammy, such as Beattie Beats ’em All on Tammy’s first Christmas issue. It did not take long for the Sally logo to be added to the Tammy cover. Tammy was barely two months old before Sally, a longer-running comic, merged into her. It was most unusual for an older comic to be merged into a barely new one, and says something about the sales figures for both comics: Tammy was already a hit while it is presumed that Sally had lost readership due to a long-standing strike.

(click thru)

 

 

Next page…

Sandie 29 April 1972

Sandie 29 April 1972

  • No-one Cheers for Norah– final episode (artist John Armstrong)
  • Slaves of the Sorcerer (artist Desmond Walduck?)
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Friends and Neighbours
  • The School of No Escape – final episode (artist “B. Jackson”, writer Terence Magee)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch?)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Mark Lester (artist Bob Gifford)

In this issue of Sandie we say goodbye to two of her first stories: “No-One Cheers for Norah” and “The School of No Escape”. The former finishes with a needle race to beat the relatives who have not only made Norah’s life a misery ever since they met but also ruined her father’s life. The latter ends with the pretty typical deus ex machina of the aliens just vanishing away just as they are about to triumph because time’s up, and everyone but the heroine loses all memory of them for no apparent reason.

Replacing them next week are “Lorna’s Lonely Days” and “The Captives of Madam Karma”. The latter is written by Pat Mills.

In “Slaves of the Sorcerer” Beth Williams finally gets the police onto Caspar. But when they arrive at the fairground there’s no sign of him. The lead they have been given is in fact another trap for Beth set by Caspar, and he’s waiting to pounce.

Boys are admitted to Wee Sue’s school. They get quite a shock when the titch they tease turns out to be brilliant at footy. Then Sue finds one of the football boys stuck on a ledge and climbs up to the rescue.

“Odd Mann Out” is now leading a demonstration against the tyrannical way things are run at her school. But why the hell is the headmistress smiling about it instead of looking worried?

Trudy loses Silver – to the rag-and-bone man. And everyone knows how cruel he is to animals. Can Trudy get him back?

Ann Friend and her family in “Friends and Neighbours” have moved into a new house. The neighours haven’t been friendly but now Anne believes they are worse than she thought – they are trying to scare her family out of the house with a ruse that it’s haunted. They deny it angrily and mean to prove it by sitting up with them.

In “Sandra Must Dance”, enemy Robinia Drew discovers the twins’ bizarre secret – Joan can transfer her ballet talent into her twin sister Sandra through a psychic bond. Robinia locks Joan up to prevent her from doing so during a performance. Can the twins pull things off despite this?

This week’s episode of “Bonnie’s Butler” has a row with the Major and Bonnie loses the present she was going to give Angie. Things get even more bizarre when Bonnie wins an unwanted hip bath at an auction, but her butler uses it to put everything right.

In “Anna’s Forbidden Friend”, Julia’s father takes advantage of Anna and Julia to hatch a scheme to get everyone out of Madeley Buildings. He managed to turn everyone against them once before and now plots to do it again. And his scheme includes kidnapping his own daughter!

Tammy & Sally 1 January 1972 – first New Year issue

Tammy cover 1 January 1972

  • Gina – Get Lost (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • Beattie Beats ‘Em All! (artist John Armstrong)
  • Halves in a Horse (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Lulu (cartoon)
  • Skimpy Must Ski! (artist Tom Hurst)
  • The Four Friends at Spartan School (artist “B. Jackson”, writer Terence Magee)
  • Maisie’s Magic Eye (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • The Secret Ballerina (artist Roy Newby)
  • Bernice and the Blue Pool – final episode (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Talk It Over with Trudy (problem page)
  • Alison All Alone
  • Cinderella Spiteful (artist Jose Casanovas)
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

This is Tammy’s first New Year issue. The girl on the cover has a nice touch of mystique with her mask at a New Year’s party. Molly Mills finishes her current story with a Christmas party for all the orphanage kids, despite Pickering’s attempts to ruin things for them. Heck, he even tried to tie up the kids’ dog and leave it on the roof to freeze to death! Anyway, Molly will have a new story in the New Year.

Gina – Get Lost must be wishing she could get lost. A phoney child welfare officer has sent her to a sadistic children’s home where, among other things, she has been forced to crop her own hair. And their idea of punishment is to leave her in a freezing room all night with a vicious dog barking and snarling at her all the time.

“Bernice and the Blue Pool” ends this issue, so there will be a new story for the New Year. “The Four Friends at Spartan School” is on its penultimate episode, so there will be another new story helping to kick off New Year in two weeks. The four friends have successfully escaped Spartan School, but now they find an avalanche is threatening the school. Well, an avalanche may the best thing for the most horrible school in the world, but let’s face it – there are lives at stake up there, after all.

“Halves in a Horse” is near its end too. Pauline’s cruelty goes too far. She sends Topper bolting and now he’s in danger of drowning in a river. The Major, who had figured out Pauline’s bullying and tried to get Pauline’s victim Kay to stand up to her, is the only one on hand to help, but he doubts the horse can be saved. When Pauline hears this, she is suddenly struck with conscience.

Skimpy is determined to show her grandfather she is not an invalid anymore and can tackle skiing. By the end of the episode he has got the message and decides to help her with skiing. Excellent! Now the story can move more smoothly, though we are sure there are still bumps in the road ahead, and not just the tumbles Skimpy will take on the ski slopes.

Beattie has been cribbing lessons in secret at the school she has been squatting in while keeping up her athletics. Now she has a chance to be properly enrolled, but she has to pass exams.

Maisie tells a fat, gluttonous girl that she’s an awful pig. She never learns to watch what she says while wearing that damn brooch, does she? The girl instantly turns into a pig. Needless to say, she isn’t so greedy after Maisie finally gets her back to normal.

In “The Secret Ballerina, Karen finally makes it to the locked room – only to find nothing but Aunt Edith crying over someone named Karen, but Karen realises it’s not her. So who is this other Karen? Everything begins to point to Karen’s mother, but what’s it got to do with Aunt Edith not allowing Karen to dance?

Alison seems to be having more success in unravelling her own mystery. The clue she has uncovered leads her to Fengate Hall and she is going in. But the boys who have accompanied her are worried she is going to desert them once she finds out her true identity. Oh, surely not? After all, none of them really know what is waiting inside for Alison.

“Cinderella Spiteful” tries to ruin cousin Angela’s party. But in the end she is glad she failed to do so as she misjudged Angela over who she was going to invite, and she likes the look of the guests.

Tammy & Sally 25 December 1971 – first Christmas Tammy issue

Tammy 25 December 1971

Cover artist: John Armstrong

  • Gina – Get Lost (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • Beattie Beats ‘Em All! (artist John Armstrong)
  • Halves in a Horse (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Lulu (cartoon)
  • Skimpy Must Ski! – first episode (artist Tom Hurst)
  • Bernice and the Blue Pool (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Talk It Over with Trudy (problem page)
  • The Secret Ballerina (artist Roy Newby)
  • The Four Friends at Spartan School (artist “B. Jackson”, writer Terence Magee)
  • Maisie’s Magic Eye (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Cinderella Spiteful (artist Jose Casanovas)
  • Alison All Alone
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • A Tammy Outfit Idea for Christmas (feature)

 

This is Tammy’s first Christmas issue. Beattie Beats ‘Em All! (John Armstrong’s first Tammy story) does the honours on the cover. The back cover has a Christmas how-to-make. In Molly Mills, Lord Stanton wants to bring Christmas cheer to orphanage children, but he has reckoned without the cruel butler Pickering. The issue also advertises Tammy’s first-ever annual. Lulu is trying to find Christmas presents for Dad but keeps getting foiled.

You’d think this week’s episode of Maisie’s Magic Eye would be Christmassy too, but no. It’s a regular episode, where Maisie and her friend Lorna try to break bounds and sneak off to the circus. Hijinks with the brooch ensue, with a lot of monkey business when Maisie unwittingly turns the circus strong man into a gorilla and the brooch stops glowing before she can change him back.

Normally new stories are reserved for New Year, but one does begin in the Christmas issue,  “Skimpy Must Ski!” Skimpy Shaw, a convalescent girl, is sent to live with her grandfather who looks a real sourpuss. Time will tell if he has a heart under there. Meanwhile, Skimpy is inspired to ski, and she thinks she has a natural talent for it.

Gina – Get Lost has been left to look after herself when her parents emigrate, which is not going down well with the welfare authorities. And it sounds like there is worse to come. She has already fallen foul of blackmailers and it looks like she will fall foul of potential guardians out to exploit her.

Before Bella Barlow, John Armstrong drew “Beattie Beats ‘Em All!” for Tammy. Beattie Brown is a promising athlete. Unfortunately she has no fixed abode either, so she and her stray cats live in a boiler room at a girls’ college.

In “Halves in a Horse”, two cousins are left with half shares in a horse, Topper. The cousin who wins the most prizes with him will acquire full ownership. As might be expected, one cousin (Pauline) is not playing fair and making the other cousin (Kay) suffer. Now the cousins have almost equal shares, Pauline is using blackmail against Kay.

Bernice and the Blue Pool was Tammy’s first swimming story and also the first story Douglas Perry drew for Tammy. It was the start of a regular Tammy run for Perry that lasted into 1981. The Blue Pool has a supernatural theme, which ranges from beneficial (curing our protagonist of her fear of water) to ominous – wearing Victorian swimming costumes that were worn by a pioneering Victorian swimming team that drowned.

The Secret Ballerina, Karen Jones, has to practise in secret because her aunt is against ballet for some reason. This is, of course, the mystery that needs to be unravelled. Compounding the mystery is a locked room in auntie’s house. But now Katie has discovered the room has been unlocked and someone is inside. She is heading to the attic to investigate. Will she find the key to the mystery next week?

Surprise, surprise – Miss Bramble’s henchman, er girl, Siddons helps the four friends at Spartan School to escape from the school where sadism is the rule. But of course they should have known it would be a setup. Mind you, they didn’t expect Siddons to actually attempt to kill them! When they survive that, they discover Miss Bramble and Siddons have concocted a plan to get them arrested instead.

Cinderella Spiteful – now that’s a very unusual title for a Cinderella story, you think. Actually, the story has nothing to do with Cinderella. Emma is jealous of her cousin Angela because Angela is good at everything while Emma is not. Next week it sounds like it will be more spiteful than Cinderella, because Emma reaches her limit in this episode.

Alison All Alone is on the run after being imprisoned by her guardians for many years. The question is: why did they keep her locked up like that? The three runaway boys who helped her escape are helping her to find out. This week they uncover a clue about her past – a crook who says he will be finished if Alison finds out who her true parents are!

 

 

 

 

Tammy 4 November 1978

Tammy 4 November 1978

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong)
  • The Upper Crust – first episode (Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • Dancer Entranced (artist Angeles Felices)
  • Tuck in with Tammy – food ideas for Bonfire Night
  • One Girl and Her Dog… (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and the Tender Trap (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Strange Story – The Pied Piper
  • Edie the Ed’s Niece – cartoon (artist Joe Collins)
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • TEAM in Action (artist Carmona)

Guy Fawkes is coming, so I am taking time out from Scream to discuss fireworks issues, courtesy of Tammy.

This one, from 1978, had the regulars Edie the Ed’s Niece, Wee Sue and Bessie Bunter available to provide Guy Fawkes-themed stories, and they all do so. Tammy’s recipe page, “Tuck in with Tammy”, also has some recipes for Bonfire Night.

In Bessie Bunter Miss Stackpole won’t allow the girls to have Guy Fawkes because it clashes with a concert she booked for the girls for the same night. “Mean rotter!” says Bessie, and we totally agree. Naturally, the girls don’t look very happy at the concert, and Bessie is taking a more proactive stance – sneaking out of the concert with her friend Mary to let off fireworks secretly. As it turns out, this leads to a chain of events that have the girls enjoying a Guy Fawkes celebration after all.

Wee Sue and her friends are on the Penny-for-the-Guy routine, but some boys steal their Guy and leave them with an inferior model. Surprisingly, it’s Miss Bigger who gives the boys their comeuppance when they mistake her for an even better Guy.

Now here’s a twist on The Pied Piper legend in this week’s Strange Story. The Pied Piper turns up at the scene of an accident near Hamelin where a hit-and-run driver forces a coachload of kids off the road. And would you believe it, the Pied Piper helps the injured driver and drives the kids to safety at a carnival in Hanover. But was it really the Pied Piper or just someone dressed up? There was a carnival going on, after all.

Toni, Ellie, Anthea and Maggie (TEAM) have formed the school newspaper editorial team for their boarding school, with the scrapes they get into becoming fodder for the paper. This week it’s Ellie’s turn, with some water gypsies stealing her sacred talisman for good luck. Ellie believes the loss is causing her to suffer terrible misfortune as she tries to recover the talisman, to the extent where the police have nabbed her for her failed bike lights.

Bella is in Australia and has joined Limber, a promotional team for gymnastics equipment. The trouble is, her latest coach, Sergeant Marks, has too much of a military and masculine view of gymnastics, which not only causes clashes between him and Bella but is also detrimental to the way he coaches the team for a competition. When the day comes, Bella is not confident that Sarge’s style of coaching will lead them to victory. His latest is setting the floor routines to military marches, despite Bella’s protests they won’t fit. Fortunately she has managed to set her floor routine to different music secretly. Will it make a difference?

It’s part one of “The Upper Crust”, where the Carrington-Crusts arrive in High Hills, the super-snob area of Cherryton. The daughter, Clara Carrington-Crust, immediately clashes with snobby Mavis Blunt, but in a very odd way. One minute she seems to be taking Mavis down a peg or two, the next she’s as snobby as the rest of them at High Hills. Nobody knows what to make of Clara and she’s baffling everyone at school, even the caretaker. Meanwhile, the Blunts decide there is something about these Carrington-Crusts that they’re determined to get to the bottom of.

A ballerina is under the influence of hypnotism in “Dancer Entranced”. It’s not in the same way as “Slave of the Clock”, but when you think about it, there are some hallmarks. Trina Carr is obliging her father’s dream for her to become a top ballerina like her late mother but she has no talent and doesn’t want Dad to know. Then a hypnotist seems to give her the ability to dance, but only while his metronome is ticking. The metronome has now gotten Trina into a top ballet school, where she is striking problems with a jealous rival and keeping that damn metronome ticking because she believes she can’t dance without it.

In “One Girl and Her Dog…” Kim Robinson is hoofing it all the way to London to claim an inheritance because her daft dog Rumpus ate her train ticket. They’re getting into all sorts of scrapes along the way. Among them is Harry Whelkes, a flunky a relative hired to stop them claiming the inheritance. They have just met Harry in this episode but don’t realise what he is up to. Rumpus almost scared him off for good when he tried out growling for the first time, but the promise of double the money has lured Harry back into the game.

You wouldn’t think anyone could seriously fall in love with that bully butler Pickering in Molly Mills, would you? Well, the district nurse Miss Key has after a misunderstanding has her thinking he is in love with her, and she doesn’t realise his true nature. All Pickering’s attempts to get rid of her have failed. Now the daft woman thinks he has proposed to her, and she has accepted!

John Armstrong (1923 – 2018)

I am very sorry to post the news that John Armstrong has just died. John Freeman from the DownTheTubes website has put together a tribute post, and additionally the site has got an interview “In His Own Words” detailing John’s comics career. Lew Stringer has also posted a tribute on his blog, with some great art samples included.

John Armstrong was a fantastic artist with an instantly recognizable style and great strengths in the key elements of girls comics. I am very glad that the Rebellion reprint of Bella came out in time for him to (hopefully) know that his work was being properly appreciated once again.

The Proto-Bella Barlow?

A Leap Up for Lindy 1A Leap Up for Lindy 2A Leap Up for Lindy 3A Leap Up for Lindy 4A Leap up for Lindy ad

Once you have read through the images, you will see that this story bears a striking resemblance to Bella Barlow, right down to our ill-used heroine practising gymnastics on makeshift apparatus in the backyard. Mr Barr is even a dead ringer for Jed Barlow. At least the Barrs are nowhere near as abusive towards Lindy as the Barlows are towards Bella. All the same, we are so pleased to see how they are, um, persuaded to support Lindy’s gymnastics in the end.

A Leap Up for Lindy appeared in Girls’ Crystal 1976, yet a panel from it was used two years before in the merger issue of Tammy and June to advertise next week’s episode of Bella at the Bar (above). So A Leap Up for Lindy could actually be part of the history of Bella Barlow and could even be described as a proto-Bella.

But just what is Lindy’s place in Bella’s history? Is it a complete story or is it the first episode of a serial that never was? If it was meant to be a serial, did it get nixed for some reason and what was produced got recycled in the Girls’ Crystal? Was it a serial that was discarded in favour of Bella Barlow? Or was it an unused story from much earlier and elements of it were recycled into Bella Barlow?

Whatever the story was, Lindy looks like a most intriguing part of Bella history that has been sadly overlooked. It is a great pleasure to rescue this proto-Bella from obscurity and hopefully give her more speculation and discussion in Bella history.

 

Sandie 15 April 1972

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Slaves of the Sorcerer (artist Desmond Walduck?)
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie) – last episode
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Richard Neillands)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Dave Cassidy (artist Bob Gifford)

The cover competition offers a chance to win a ‘fabulous electric sewing machine’, though I think that a battery-powered machine probably won’t get you very far through sewing anything other than the dolls clothes mentioned in the competition blurb.

Norah loses her home twice over in this episode – after an emotional visit to see her father, she stays overnight in her old house, but in the morning she is turfed out by a new family who have just rented the place. On returning to her cousin’s house she isn’t allowed back in there either! As is so often the way, though, the horrible relatives have played a mean trick too far – Norah has to stay in her uncle’s clothing factory overnight, and of course she finds a document that shows pretty clearly that the culprit who stole the money that her dad was blamed for – was probably her uncle all along!

Orphan Beth Williams is well and truly in the clutches of the evil sorcerer Caspar, along with three other hard-done-by girls. It seems that Caspar’s act is ‘so dangerous he’d never get anyone to volunteer. That’s why he has to have slaves.’ Beth is a spirited girl who is keen to run away at the first opportunity, but I suspect it won’t be as easy as that.

It’s the last episode of “Our Big BIG Secret” – a story post will be forthcoming.

At the end of the previous issue’s “The School of No Escape”, Dale was pushed over a cliff. Luckily she falls onto a ledge, which though small is enough to save her. The next morning, Miss Voor thinks that her last obstacle is out of the way and so she summons all her specially-chosen pupils to her side. They are all to write farewell letters to their parents and then to follow Miss Voor to Hangman’s Copse – which is where they meet up with the exhausted Dale, who has crawled up the cliff face to seek help.

This week’s episode of “Bonnie’s Butler” is drawn by Richard Neillands instead of regular artist Julio Bosch.