Tag Archives: John Armstrong

Tammy & Misty 26 January 1980

Tammy cover 26 January 1980

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong)
  • Cindy of Swan Lake (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Sister in the Shadows (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • Spider Woman (artist Jaume Raumeu)
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • The Witch in the Window – Strange Story from the Mists (artist Tony Higham)
  • Miss T (artist Joe Collins)
  • Make the Headlines, Hannah! (artist Tony Coleman) – final episode
  • Daughter of the Desert (Mario Capaldi)

Part two of the Tammy & Misty merger has been chosen for 1980 in the Tammy round robin. For the second – and last time – Misty shares the cover with the Cover Girls. Afterwards the cover returned to the Cover Girls and Misty never occupied a cover spot again. Poor Misty.

To further commemorate the merger, next week we are getting the House of Mystery game, where we become one of our favourite Tammy characters (Molly, Sue, Bessie or Bella) and try to escape from the House of Mystery. Which Tammy character would you pick for this game? Misty readers would probably go for Sue or Bella as they haven’t seen Molly or Bessie yet in the merger.

Tammy is working on clearing out her older stories so she can make way for the new ones she has already indicated are waiting in the wings. “Make the Headlines, Hannah!” finishes this week. Hannah not only succeeds in making a name for herself at long last but also gets on television. Funny – the possibility of appearing on television was something she fantasised about way back in part 1. And it wasn’t for the money her Uncle promised as her mean sisters thought. It was winning respect and proving to everyone she was not a born loser.

“Daughter of the Desert” looks like it is heading for its conclusion. The episode itself says as much: the protagonists reckon everything is coming to a head and they are about to find out why the school has been plagued by strange desert phenomena ever since the Arabian princess Aysha arrived. What makes them think that? The mystery “Arab” behind it has cut off the water’s school supply for 24 hours and now they are all going as dry as the desert.

“Cindy of Swan Lake” still has longer to go, though its conclusion can’t be far off either. Jealous Zoe Martin is still playing on Cindy Grey’s worries about her sick swan, who is dying from pollution. This week she allows Cindy to get the lead in Swan Lake. Why? She calculated Cindy would get too upset at doing the Dance of the Dying Swan in it to continue with the role and she would get it, and she was right…oh for #^%@’s sake! Will someone please tell the Tammy editor the Dance of the Dying Swan is not in Swan Lake? It’s a separate solo dance!

Like Hannah, Wendy the “Sister in the Shadows” is overshadowed by a successful sister (Stella) and trying to prove herself against comparisons, bullies, lack of self esteem and sabotage. This week, Wendy’s debut is on stage is a disaster because of nasty tricks from the bullies, but there is insult to injury as well. Wendy’s parents totally forgot to come and watch her, but as far as they are concerned, Stella phoning to say she might visit for the weekend (which she doesn’t) was far more important anyway. Not exactly making things up to Wendy for letting her down, are they? From this, we can see Hannah definitely had it easy compared to Wendy in proving herself and winning respect. And at least Hannah had some friends to help. Wendy has none at all.

Bella has a long history of getting stranded in foreign countries. She’s only two episodes into her new story and it’s happening again: she is stranded in the US, trying to win a championship to qualify for the Olympics, but her wealthy guardians fail to show up. They abruptly cancel and don’t even send a message to Bella to explain why or arrange help. Now this is really irresponsible, even if something bad happened to them back there. They’ve really left her in the lurch and Bella is not getting much help from the coaches either. It’s no wonder she gets off to a bad start when the event gets underway. The vault, which was never her strong point, is already down – in flames.

Spider Woman has discovered witnesses have stumbled onto her evil plan. To deal with them she strands them on a deserted island that used to be a leper colony. Too late they discover it was a trap. And they have to live in rundown huts. As if that weren’t bad enough, the former occupants were the lepers and there are rumours their ghosts still haunt the huts. Then they discover the boat Mrs Webb used to bring them to the island is now covered with spiders, so there is no getting off the island with it. But what about Mrs Webb herself? Where has she got to? Did she get off the island on another boat…or what?

In Wee Sue, it’s charity fundraising time at Milltown Comprehensive. Sue’s idea is bash up one of the old bangers from the council tip and see who can guess the correct number of parts. Of course Miss Bigger and Wee Sue get into all sorts of scrapes towing the old banger to the event, but they do foil bank robbers with it before finally getting it to the banger-bashing ceremony.

In Strange Story from the Mists, the Witch in the Window makes a profitable living out of causing bad luck to girls unless they give her money. She meets her match in one girl and flies off in a rage. But beware – there are plenty of other girls in the windows out there for her to take her revenge out on.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tammy 18 September 1978

Tammy cover 18 September 1978

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Bella (John Armstrong)
  • Maggie’s Menagerie (Tony Coleman)
  • Crawl, Carrie, Crawl (artist Juan Escandell Tores)
  • Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)
  • Double – Or Nothing! (artist Diane Gabbot)
  • Tuck-in with Tammy
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and the Maid of Mystery (artist Douglas Perry)
  • The Telly Fan – the Strange Story
  • Wee Sue (artist Barrie Mitchell?)
  • A Bus in the Family (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)

 

September 18, 1978 has been chosen for 1978 in the Tammy round robin. The cover has the Cover Girls doing what the letter column sometimes commented on what readers do with their old Tammys – build up a pile of them and put them in storage. One reader actually said she discovered someone else’s pile of old Tammys while helping her father do renovations. Even today there must be old piles waiting to be cleared out or rediscovered, and be put up on eBay for eager collectors.

Bella has to do well in a gymnastics competition in Sydney in order to keep her job as a gymnastics coach in Port Tago. Sometimes we wonder why she even bothered with that job, much less keep it, as it has been fraught with difficulties from the start that still resonate. Her employer, Mr Cox, made the job offer without thinking and realised he didn’t actually want it in the first place, but couldn’t back out. Mrs Cox tried to drive Bella off because she is a disgraced gymnast. Mrs Cox and Bella have made peace, but Mrs Cox is not the coach who can bring out the best in Bella because she is a real stick in the mud who does not realise how gymnastics have advanced since her day. So Bella is already handicapped before she even starts at the contest, and there would have to be ominous signs of trouble from an old rival as well.

“Maggie’s Menagerie” is a story about a girl (Maggie Crown) who is hiding secret pets. Her problem is not just that her gran does not like animals. It’s also because she has to hide her menagerie on gran’s barge! Maggie’s managed to get them all safely hidden on board. But how long can she keep them hidden from gran? It sounds like even she realises she can’t keep it up indefinitely.

Carrie Smith is despised as a crawler at school because of the tactics she uses, including sucking up to the new strict teacher, to keep out of detention. But the reason is she can’t afford detention – she has to run swimming lessons before and after school to keep her parents afloat while Dad is jobless. On top of that she has a sprained back but is not seeking treatment because she doesn’t want to worry her parents. Dad’s just sent off a job application and Carrie hopes to God he gets it so she can stop all this crawling.

Kate Winter is a tennis player who can’t keep a tennis partner because of her foul temper. She finally finds one in Pam Doggett, the granddaughter of the tennis club’s charlady. However, a row with her parents has Kate realise she is beginning to care for Pam. She chooses pairing with her in a tournament over a cruise, much to her snooty parents’ consternation. Dad brings Mum along to the tournament to show her what a “little grub” Pam is. But something else upsets Mum and she leaves in an awful hurry. Hmm, do we have a little mystery here?

Speaking of mystery, Molly has one in the “maid of mystery”, though this week the mystery unravels. A Mrs Bowden has framed Molly for ransacking because she has mistaken her for the new maid, Victoria. This week Victoria explains why: to get her inheritance she has to prove herself in “gainful employment”, and Mrs Bowden will get the inheritance if she fails. Lord Stanton has sent Molly away from the hall for her own protection, but not even that is stopping Mrs Bowden, who still thinks she is Victoria. At least the mistaken identity will keep the real Victoria safe, and Molly is far more capable of handling Mrs Bowden than Victoria is.

There is a definite mystery about “A Bus in the Family” as well, but nobody is investigating it. “Dodger” Wilkins, the man who sold Dad the bus he is using to take his daughter Rosie’s class on a school trip on the Continent, is so desperate to get it back that he is chasing them all the way across the Continent! Dad and Rosie didn’t know that before, but now they do because Dodger and his crony Harry seized and searched Dad. They also suspect those creeps of sabotaging the bus. Pity Rosie and her father weren’t there for the glorious scene where the crooks meet their match (below) in Rosie’s form teacher! Despite this, the chase is going on to Gibraltar next week, with nobody looking into why Dodger is going to such extremes. But from the sound of things, it’s because something is hidden on the bus – or maybe Dodger just thinks there is, as he didn’t find it.

Bus in the Family 1
Crooks get clobbered. From “A Bus in the Family”, Tammy 18 September 1978. Art by Giorgio Georgetti.
Bus in the Family 2
Continuing the clobbering of the crooks in “A Bus in the Family”, Tammy 18 September 1978. Art by Giorgio Georgetti.

Bessie is seeking homemade beauty treatments, but of course her food inclinations and tendency for naughtiness take over. She ends up with 1000 lines. Meanwhile, Sue is trying to find a way to stop her father’s home movie parties because the catering is too much work for her and her mother. She knows Dad’s mates don’t really enjoy his movies either; they’re mediocre at best. The solution: make her own movie of Dad’s outtakes when he is shooting his lousy movies and show it to his long-suffering audience!

This week’s Strange Stories, one of my particular favourites, is a moral about the dangers of TV addiction. Norma gets so engrossed in television she neglects her studies. Her parents’ efforts to sort her out meet with little success. Then Norma finds herself in the television drama she was watching and becomes the heroine who saves the day. In the process she scrapes her leg and a bandage is put on. Norma wakes up and thinks it must have been all a dream – but then she finds her bandaged leg. Dad is very surprised when Norma suddenly seems to be less keen on television and starting on homework.

Tammy 10 September 1977

Tammy cover 10 September 1977

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong)
  • Rowena of the Doves (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Selena Sitting Pretty (artist Diane Gabbot) – first episode
  • Sharon’s Shadow – Strange Story serial (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Melanie’s Mob (artist Edmond Ripoll)
  • The Other Side of the Coin – Strange Story (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Edie the Ed’s Niece – cartoon (artist Joe Collins)
  • Wee Sue (artist John Armstrong)
  • Daughter of the Regiment (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Edie’s Hobbyhorse: Cycling

 

The issue for 10 September 1977 has been chosen for 1977 in the Tammy round robin. By this time Tammy is taking the shape that defines her 1970s look. “Bella at the Bar” is now just plain Bella. We now have “Reader’s Cover Idea!”, where readers send in suggestions for a Tammy cover, and the winner receives money. The regular cartoon is the Joe Collins “Edie the Ed’s Niece”, who also has a feature called “Edie’s Hobbyhorse” where Edie discusses a particular activity for a hobby or sport.

Tammy is running another Strange Story serial. This time it is about Sharon Brown, who unwisely challenged a long-dead witch (never challenge the supernatural!) and gets her shadow cursed. Anything or anyone her shadow crosses meets with disaster, and it’s upsetting her brother Joe’s campaign to win the local election. Sharon learns only love stronger than the curse can break it, but where the heck are they going to find love when the curse has made things go so badly wrong for Joe that the whole town has turned against him?

In the regular Strange Story, Gilly Bentley looks set to lose her horse, Amulet. Amulet, being a proud horse, seems to get his pride deeply hurt at that and strange things start happening, including Gilly having dreams where a centurion is riding Amulet. It climaxes in Amulet finding Roman coins, which show the same centurion riding him. All of a sudden, the question of selling Amulet is dropped.

One of the curious differences between DCT girls’ titles and IPC girls’ titles is the frequency at which they ran stories about protagonists/ antagonists pretending to be disabled. At DCT such stories appeared so often they were almost a feature. At IPC (well, in Tammy and Jinty anyway) they were sporadic. So the new story this week, “Selena Sitting Pretty”, is an exception to the rule; if she had appeared in, say, Mandy, she would be par for the course. In the story, Selena has always been top girl in class. But when her school combines with another, she comes up against serious competition for top of the class and can’t take it. Then, by fluke, they see her in a wheelchair and think she has been in a road accident. All of a sudden the big fuss is pushing out her rivals and Selena thinks she has found the way to be sitting pretty at school again.

Bella is attending a famous Russian gymnastics college (which is thankfully lasting longer for her than the one she was wrongly expelled from in 1975). The school has ordered Bella to attend a ballet because they think it will teach her some valuable lessons. But we don’t think they meant the one Bella learns the hard way: don’t lean too far out of the balcony! Fortunately Bella’s gymnastics has her landing on her feet on the stage when she falls, and it’s such a hit with the audience that she does not get expelled. And the experience does teach her some useful tips for improving her floor exercises, which is what the school wanted after all.

“Rowena of the Doves” is a medieval swords-and-sorcery sort of tale, with a protagonist who looks like a young woman and hints of alleged white magic that have many of her enemies running scared. Rowena must have brought the Tammy readers up short and it’s no wonder Rowena had a sequel. Her original story was also reprinted in Princess II. Rowena’s father, King Guthlac, has dispatched her to fetch her brothers to help him face his old enemy, the Black Earl. Rowena’s companions are her doves and her horse Silvermane. In this episode she rescues a girl who was to be sacrificed, but now the girl is seriously ill. And when Rowena finds her first brother, he refuses to help, saying he’s got problems of his own defending his stronghold. Will the other two brothers be more helpful?

Bessie is chosen to lead a paper chase. Of course her paper chase leads all the way to the kitchen, and then it starts pouring with rain. Some quick scheming has Bessie emerging on top, and she has the sneaky feeling she will not be lumbered with paper chases again.

Melanie Newton hates her new snob school and the snooty girls looking down on her former lower class origins. She turns to secretly training a gang of rough girls as an athletics team but they turn on her, much to the glee of the snooty girls. Then one of the rough girls gets stuck on the lock gates at the canal and Melanie is going to the rescue.

Another high-class girl is having better luck with street urchins in “Daughter of the Regiment”. Tessa Mason’s father has been executed for cowardice in the Charge of the Light Brigade. Tessa is out to clear his name but a Mr Cregan keeps blocking her. Tessa has found helpers in a gang of mudlarks, and this week she turns to the waxworks museum for help in getting into Windsor Castle for an audience with Queen Victoria.

Wee Sue’s Dad is not pleased to spend his day off cooking meals and doing housework because Mum is sick. Sue is not sure he can manage it either. Her mind is running riot over the horrors it must be causing and she eventually runs home in a panic to check up. At home, it looks like she was worrying over nothing and Dad has cooked a lovely dinner for the family. But then Sue opens the kitchen door…and what she finds is best not described.

Tammy 14 August 1976

Tammy cover 14 August 1976

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Bella at the Bar (artist John Armstrong)
  • Towne in the Country (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Storm over Jerra Island – Strange Story (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Tag Along Tania (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and the General Strike (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Wee Sue – artist John Armstrong
  • Drawn to Destiny – Strange Story serial (artist Tony Higham)
  • Odds on Patsy – final episode (artist Eduardo Feito)

The issue for 1976 in the Tammy round robin is 14 August 1976. The cover is one of my favourites. The Star Trek reference makes it particularly funny if you like Star Trek. It’s a change having a pesky kid brother (or is it a cousin?) instead of a kid sister for the Cover Girl to deal with. And there is another in-joke with the reference to Dan Dare, the famous space adventurer from Eagle. Tammy did not go for SF as much as Jinty – you see SF more often in the Strange Stories than Tammy’s serials – so it’s great to get an SF reference on the cover.

The Olympics featured heavily in Tammy in 1976, which was the year of the Montreal Olympics. Bella has an Olympics-themed story, complete with the Olympics rings being added to her logo. Bella is trying to reach the Montreal Olympics although she has no passport and was passed over for the British team thanks to Jed and Gert Barlow. Right now she is stranded in France with an acrobatics team. They are stringing her along with false promises of getting her to Montreal, and Bella has not yet realised their game. Moreover, her desperation to find gym equipment to train on has landed her in a sticky situation. Later the same year Tammy ran her Olympics-themed classic, Olympia Jones.

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Another thing to run strongly in Tammy in 1976 was stories published at readers’ requests, by open invitation from Tammy. One starting next issue is “Dumbells Academy”, about a school run by the most incompetent staff in the world. This story appeared at the suggestion of one reader: “I’d like to see a story about a school where all the staff are really nutty.” It replaces “Odds on Patsy”, a horse story where Tammy opted for a story on horse racing and jockeys, which makes a nice change from show-jumping. Could the same writer have written “Gail at Windyridge”, another story on jockeying that appeared in Tammy later on?

Expanded Strange Stories also appeared at readers’ requests, which ran for several episodes. The current one is “Drawn to Destiny”, about Diane Hudson, a girl who is jealous of her twin sister Sylvia. And when Diane takes up drawing, her jealousy takes a sinister turn when whatever she draws seems to come true. It starts really scaring her and she doesn’t know what to think, but her jealousy is intensifying too.

Although we have a Strange Story serial, the regular Strange Story continues. This week’s mystery is how the villagers of Jerra Island managed to evacuate from a volcanic island in the 19thcentury. According to legend, the pastor had a vision of it, but how did that happen? And how did Brenda’s church snowstorm souvenir get encased in lava for over 100 years near the site where the pastor saw the vision? She only bought it that day!

Girls’ serials did not often delve into politics, but Molly gets badly tangled in local politics when Lord Stanton has her and Pickering running a bus service during a nationwide strike in support of miners demanding better conditions. This does not please the strikers because it’s blacklegging. It is quite funny seeing the bully butler Pickering in a bus driver’s outfit though! However, Molly has worse problems now than the strike and blacklegging – she is trapped in a crumbling mine with Pickering and Lord Stanton.

Local politics are also a feature in Wee Sue. The council is building an old people’s centre but the oldies don’t want it because they don’t think it’s sound enough. Meanwhile, Sue and her friends would have loved the same site for a roller skating rink. Sue’s suggestion to the council: turn it into a community centre and convert the roof into a skating rink. Now everybody’s happy.

Tania Foster has always been the muggins and dumping ground of the gang of she hangs out with. Now she realises it, she is trying to stand up for herself. The trouble is, they keep finding ways to keep her put upon, including blackmail and dirty tricks. This week they push her into doing all their maths homework for them at the disco while they enjoy themselves and laugh at her. Too bad for them they forgot a noisy disco was not the best place for Tania to concentrate on maths and they end up in detention for “disgusting” homework. It is one of many instances where their treatment of Tania backfires. But Tania is still the muggins of the gang and finding a way to get them to treat her with respect is proving elusive.

“Towne in the Country” is a period story where All Creatures Great and Small meets “Cathy’s Casebook”. Valerie Towne and her vet father have moved to a new post in the country. Valerie soon realises she is going to be deeply involved in her father’s work, but she is not all that confident around animals. And there are other problems such as their vet’s clinic being a mess and queues of kids lining up with pets, expecting Valerie to cure them. And now Valerie and her father have a jumbo-sized problem – treating a sick circus elephant!

Bessie and her class go to the fair. After a series of mishaps, hijinks and getting messed up, everything ends happily for Bessie – with lots of food, of course.

Tammy & June 14 June 1975

Tammy cover 14 June 1975

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Bella at the Bar (artist John Armstrong, writer Jenny McDade)
  • Slaves of the Hot Stove – final episode (artist Douglas Perry, writer Gerry Finley-Day?)
  • Red Letter Rosie
  • Last Laugh for the Jester – the Strange Story (artist John Armstrong)
  • Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Lill Waters Runs Deep – final episode (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Picture – Alan Merrill-Arrows

The issue for 14 June 1975 has been chosen for 1975 in the Tammy round robin. Bella’s second story, where she has to cope with unjust public stigma after being wrongly expelled from a Russian gymnastics school, definitely must rank as her darkest. Bella has managed to overcome the stigma enough to be chosen for the British team at a European championship. But the cloud is always hanging over her, and it shows in the cold way her coaches and fellow team members treat her. It gets worse this week when another team member, Jill, gets injured trying to copy Bella and blames her. Then, when Bella is on the bars, something goes wrong. Bella can’t get a grip and now she is about to take a bad fall. And we have a sneaky suspicion Jill is behind it.

“Lill Waters Runs Deep” and “Slaves of the Hot Stove”, the two other stories that began in the same issue as the new Bella story, both end this week.

“Slaves of the Hot Stove” has been a bizarre slave story from the start. Everything, from the racket to the escape plans, revolves around food. Madam Mange runs a secret kitchen in a restaurant with kidnapped top cooks as slave labour, complete with chains and rags. Its ending this week must rank as one of the…weirdest ever published in girls comics. To break all the slaves free from Madam Mange altogether, protagonist Carol Cook scares her to death with a giant Yorkshire pudding that grows so huge it threatens to smother her. Er…yes…most believable…quite how the chemistry should work. Madam Mange escapes, already plotting to cook up more evil somewhere else, and the world will hear from her again. But if Tammy was planning a sequel with Madam Mange, it didn’t eventuate for some reason.

Lill Waters has been a crafty schemer and so far gotten away with everything until two men who saw her true self show up at her home. How does the family react when they hear about Lill’s scheming? They laugh their heads off! They always thought she was a shy little thing, and here she is all clever and crafty, and tell her that her scheming didn’t matter because it was herself she really hurt. Well, that is one way to deal with it, and it really works. After that, Lill changes her ways, and the family gives her a new makeover to match.

Laughter has surprising results in this week’s Strange Story too. Mary Barnes is a swot and a nerd who wouldn’t know what funny is if she wrote a thesis on it. Then, during a school trip to an old castle Mary picks up a jester’s stick – and all of a sudden she’s playing practical jokes on the school party. Later, holding the jester’s stick enables her to save the guide’s life, and those practical jokes also had a hand in saving him.

Red Letter Rosie is now at its climax. Rosie’s horrible stepsister Gloria has been part of a scheme to kidnap Rosie’s pen friend Sarah Wilson, take her place, and rob the Wilson family. The crooks succeed with the robbery, but that’s not the worst of it. Sarah has grown ill because of her kidnapping and it looks very serious. Rosie’s horribly afraid for Sarah’s life.

The School for Snobs is in open war against a snob (Serena) who plays soldiers with everyone, even her father. Serena soon proves a tough one to crack and Hermione has to bring out her big guns. They take the form of the girls dressing up as a robot army to show Serena the logical conclusion of where her army discipline will lead. After this, Serena waves the white flag of surrender.

Miss Bigger’s out to impress the mayor. But it turns out to be in the wrong way when the mayor turns up incognito, realises what a tartar she is, and sets up a trap to teach her a lesson. So Wee Sue wins over Miss Bigger without even trying this week.

Bessie plays tricks with a Halloween mask and roller skates, but her scheme unravels and “Stackers” the headmistress confiscates the skates. But things come right for Bessie in the end when Stackers tries the skates herself and gets in trouble.

Mistress Claire has entered Molly in a Servant of the Year Award, but catty Betty and Kitty are out to make sure she doesn’t win. The journalist testing Molly for the award has discovered their tricks but decides to let them continue in order to test Molly’s true worth for the award.

 

 

Tammy & Sandie 8 June 1974

Tammy & Sandie 8 June 1974

Artist: John Richardson

  • Ella on Easy Street (artist Jose Casanovas, writer Charles Herring) – final episode
  • Wee Sue (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Make Your Mind Up, Maggie (artist Juliana Buch)
  • Mrs Nimmo’s Ninth Life (artist Douglas Perry) – complete story
  • Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Photo – Marty Kristian
  • Crystal Who Came in from the Cold (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Competition – Win a Sewing Machine!
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – story ends
  • Common Cathy (artist John Armstrong)

 

In part 4 of Tammy round robin, the issue that came out two weeks before June merged with Tammy on 22 June 1974 has been selected for 1974. With only two weeks until the merger, with totally new serials starting all through the issue, it is not surprising that Tammy is gearing up for the merger in finishing all her current serials as fast as possible. The serials in this issue are either on their final or penultimate episodes. June must have been doing the same.

What is surprising is that Tammy is scheduled for another merger in two weeks – but she still hasn’t dropped the logo from her previous merger! Why is the Sandie logo still on the cover with only two weeks to another merger? Currently it cannot be confirmed whether or not Tammy dropped the Sandie logo the following week, 15 June 1974. If anyone can confirm, please leave a comment.

Another surprise is that The Strangest Stories Ever Told is not going to join Tammy for another two weeks, yet Tammy is already running complete mystery stories. These have no narrator, only text box dialogue that seems to be in lieu of one. The story, “Mrs Nimmo’s Ninth Life” is about a bullying, cold hearted dancer, Monica Fleming, who grows worse when she is cast as an evil witch (suits her all right) in a production. When Monica bullies a pedlar, Mrs Nimmo, she becomes plagued by a mysterious white cat, which ends in both of them being hurt, after which she is much nicer to Mrs Nimmo. The other dancers are spooked by hints that Mrs Nimmo and the white cat are one and the same.

The Molly story ends this week and we are promised another next week. But the Molly story in the merger issue is totally new, so what does Molly do in the issue in between? Is it a complete story or is there an error here?

“Ella on Easy Street”, which is fondly remembered by Pat Mills, is about Ella Rutt, who lied about her family to win sympathy and make things easy for herself. But her lies have led to a teacher being sacked and now she’s having conscience pangs. Ella makes the decision to confess to the headmistress. Now what action is the school going to take?

“Crystal Who Came in from the Cold”, “Make Your Mind up, Maggie” (which I know finished with a six-page spread the following issue) and “Common Cathy” are on their penultimate episodes.

Maggie Miller’s problem is not so much that she can’t make up her mind whether to pursue ballet or horse riding but that she is torn between keeping herself fit for ballet and keeping her beloved horse from being sold to cruel owners. And now Maggie has another problem – Nadia is going to get her expelled. No, not because Nadia is jealous. It’s because she mistakenly thinks it is horse riding Maggie wants. Oh, for God’s sake Nadia – mind your own business! Incidentally, this story was reprinted by popular demand in 1983.

Crystal is a girl from the Arctic who is cursed with the power to bring cold and ice with her. Now it’s got a witch-hunting mob after her. Plus there is a Snowman who wants Crystal to return to the Arctic. Will this be the course of action Crystal decides to take in the final episode?

Common Cathy is the John Armstrong story in Tammy before Bella takes over in the merger. Like Bella, Cathy Simpson wants to pursue a dream (athletics) but her horrible parents keep blocking her. In this case they do so by lies, deceit, and stealing the money for Cathy’s entrance fees from her coach Mrs Mirren. But in this episode they take an unbelievable step further – binding and gagging Cathy to prevent her from speaking to Mrs Mirren. Now that is a shocker! Despite being tied up, Cathy manages to discover her parents’ deceit. But the problem Cathy must surmount in the final episode is finding Mrs Mirren and explaining it to her. Not to mention how to sort out her nasty parents and be able to pursue her dream at last.

Wee Sue and Uncle Meanie, the regulars that came over from Sandie, will continue in the June merger and be Tammy offerings to former June readers.

 

 

Tammy & Sandie 10 November 1973

Tammy cover 10 November 1973

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Two-Faced Teesha (artist Jose Casanovas)
  • Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • The Chain Gang Champions (artist Juan Garcia Quiros? writer Gerry Finley-Day?) – first episode
  • A New Leaf for Nancy (artist John Armstrong)
  • Back-Stab Ballerina (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • School for Snobs (artist J. Badesa, writer Pat Mills)
  • Wee Sue (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Granny’s Town (artist Douglas Perry, writer Pat Mills)
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

 

It’s part 3 of our Tammy round robin, and 10 November 1973 has been selected for 1973. It is three weeks into the Sandie merger. The happy, pretty girl covers Tammy had since her first issue have gone. In their place are the start of the humorous Cover Girl covers that would remain on the cover until late 1980. At the moment we only seem to have one Cover Girl. The cover gives the impression the Cover Girls are still in the early days compared to how they ran later on, but the cover is still funny with the joke of getting splashed by a dry cleaning company car.

Wee Sue was one of the stories to come over from Sandie. It is a surprising choice because the original Sue story finished a long time ago and no sequel appeared in Sandie. Moreover, Sue has had a complete overhaul, shifting from a posh academy as a scholarship girl to a comprehensive in an industrial town, Milltown. Bully teacher Miss Bigger is another change from the original, in which she didn’t appear at all.

In the Wee Sue episode, Sue has lost the freckles she had when she first debuted in the merger. Her spiky bob is starting to loosen a bit, but makes her look like an unmade bed. In the story, Miss Bigger thinks Wee Sue is encouraging the girls into hunger strike over school dinners and tries to stop it by force-feeding Sue! Then Sue runs amok in the canteen, smashing the dinners. What the heck’s gotten into her? Her nose has told her that there is an outbreak of food poisoning afoot, and the school is full of praises for Sue saving everyone. Well, nearly everyone. Miss Bigger ate some of the tainted food and now she’s in bed, and Sue besting her again is making her even sicker.

Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie also came over from Sandie. Uncle Meanie still has his original nose from Sandie and has not yet acquired the bulbous nose that Robert MacGillivray will later give to Miss Bigger when he takes over the Wee Sue strip. Uncle Meanie now has a wife, Jeannie’s Aunt Martha, who really has to put up with his meanness. And in the story this week? Hoots! Uncle Meanie has been knocked off his perch as Britain’s Number 1 meanie! The title has been awarded to a Miss Pincher. When the family meet Miss Pincher, they are forced to admit she outstrips even Uncle Meanie for meanness. Uncle Meanie is not having that. He’s in shock and deeply jealous, but why is he all nice and gentlemanly to Miss Pincher? Is he taking it better than the family think – or is he plotting something to reclaim his title?

We have a new story this week, “The Chain Gang Champions”. Rella Aston is a promising athlete like her father before he was crippled. They haven’t the money for proper training or an operation to cure her father. A woman named Stein has overheard, and goes to “The Duchess”, who offers Rella the chance to join a group of British champions. Rella thinks it is a miracle, but from the looks of Stein and what she’s thinking, Rella should have remembered the old adage: “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

“Granny’s Town”, “Two-Faced Teesha”, “Back-Stab Ballerina” and “A New Leaf for Nancy” (reprinted Misty annual 1980) are new stories that began with the merger.

Two-faced Teesha is a devious, spiteful girl. She has just moved to the country. She surprises her father when she opts for the country school over a snob school, the type of school she used to attend in the past. Her reason? She has met some of the girls and thinks it will be easy to stir up trouble for them.

Nancy’s family have made a depressing move to a rundown house after Dad loses his job, but Nancy discovers a tree in the garden that has powers to make things better for her. The trouble is, its power does not seem to be reliable and sometimes makes things worse.

The “Back-Stab Ballerina” is Rita Radley, who secretly makes trouble for her old friend June Day when they go to ballet school. This week Rita gets June into trouble with the other girls because they have started sticking up for her.

In “Granny’s Town”, grannies rule and anyone who crosses them is soon forced to leave quickly. This week it’s the turn of the donkey man who won’t allow the grannies to enjoy themselves on the beach. Their response is to stake him out on the croquet lawn and leave him to roast under the sun. Jen Young, the only one who refuses to be intimidated, rescues him, but later gets a nasty warning from the grannies to back off. The blurb for next week warns she will have to watch out even more.

“School for Snobs” and “No Tears for Molly” are the Tammy stories that have continued into the merger. In the Molly story, something or someone is putting the wind up bully butler Pickering. He’s convinced it’s a ghost and he’s running scared. He even faints in the cellar!

“School for Snobs” is a special school designed to cure girls of snobbery. This week it is curing a snob who drives off servants with her bullying. After being served by Hermione Snoot, the headmistress of the school, the snob is wishing she hadn’t driven those servants off.

Tammy & Sally 12 February 1972

Tammy Cover 12 February 1972

  • Gina – Get Lost (artist Miguel Quesada) – final episode
  • Dogs of the Duchess
  • No Hope for Cathy (artist Victor Hugo Arias)
  • Lulu (cartoon)
  • Skimpy Must Ski! (artist Tom Hurst)
  • Paula on a String
  • Amanda Must Not Be Expelled (artist Jesus Redondo)
  • Talk it over with Trudy (problem page)
  • Star Struck Sister (artist Giorgio Giorgetti, writer Jenny McDade)
  • Maisie’s Magic Eye (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Beattie Beats ’em All! (artist John Armstrong)
  • Cinderella Spiteful (artist Jose Casanovas)
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • A Special Tammy Portrait – Peter Gordeno

In part 2 of the Tammy Round Robin, the 12th February issue has been selected for 1972. The cover style is still the same as it had been in 1971 and Tammy still has the Sally logo. Tammy now has a regular cartoon, “Lulu”. The issue also has the advertising for the first issue of Sandie, the next title to be merged into Tammy. There are blurbs for two stories starting in the next issue: “The Long and the Short” and the first Eduardo Feito story to appear in Tammy, “Rona Rides Again”.

“Beattie Beats ’em All!” and “Maisie’s Magic Eye” from Sally are still going strong, which indicates the Sally merger was a good one.

The serial “Star Struck Sister” is the first Tammy story to be written by Jenny McDade, who wrote the first Bella stories. The history behind the serial is a curious one. The first episode was written by another writer, but then the writing “choked” as they call it. The editor asked Jenny to take over. It was a bold move as Jenny had never written a serial before. But it went so well she was commissioned to write the rest of the story.

In the episode itself, Lesley and Stella Ross are in Rome making their first film. Lesley is jealous of Stella because she believes she should have the starring role. But Lesley is not Stella’s problem this week. Instead, Stella foolishly went off with a street urchin, who turned out to be part of a gang of pickpockets. Stella makes it back but now has a stolen wallet on her hands. And the victim, who is staying at the same hotel, has recognised her as one of the thieves!

“Cinderella Spiteful” is an orphan named Emma Jones who is staying with her cousin Angela, but feels overshadowed by her. To overcome this, Emma resolves to try harder and things get off to a good start this week. Then it looks like she has been so consumed with it that she neglected Angela while she was injured, and now Angela has fallen on the stairs. Are Emma’s attempts to better herself going wrong and landing her in trouble? Or is Angela pulling some kind of Carol Lord trick (see Concrete Surfer) to undermine her?

Molly has a problem of forbidden love on her hands (Lieutenant Regan disguising himself as a servant at Stanton Hall to get near his love because her father won’t allow the match) and keeping it safe from Pickering and the two catty maids. They go as far as to attempt to rough her up to get the secret out of her, but don’t discover it. Then a party is on and the men are allowed to wear masks. An easy way for the lovers to secretly meet again? Not when the forbidding father offers to remove Regan’s mask! This calls for some quick thinking on somebody’s part.

“Gina – Get Lost” is yet another Cinderella story of cruel relatives (the Randalls) exploiting the heroine (Gina) and her talent (making toys). The story ends this week, with the Randalls being caught out and being forced to let the kindly Mrs Swain become Gina’s guardian and stay away from her, or there will be charges.

Amanda keeps trying to get herself expelled so she can enjoy her home comforts. This week she brings the school to victory in a gymnastics contest. Will this change her mind and stay at the school? Sadly, no. She’s still intent on getting herself expelled and the other girls think she’s crazy and mixed up.

In “Dogs of the Duchess” the Duchess is a crusader for dog welfare. She would be a real heroine if she weren’t so uptight and rude to her helper, Doris Totting and could be as nice to people as she is to dogs. And why does she wear that black veil all the time anyway? Sounds like she’s got a real problem, and this week Doris gets a clue as to what it is when the Duchess doesn’t want to meet an aristocrat, whose dog she helped through Doris only a short while before.

Why is there “No Hope for Cathy”? She has been kidnapped and being forced to impersonate a missing girl. It’s not all that hopeless when Cathy discovers a helper, Alan Temple. But then Cathy gets amnesia, and being unable to remember who she really is has suddenly made the crooks’ deception a whole lot easier!

In “Skimpy Must Ski!”, Grandad sacrifices his precious war medal to raise funds to help Skimpy. But the medal makes its way back to Skimpy, who tries to slip it back secretly. But Grandad catches her and demands to know what she’s up to.

Tammy & Sally 1 May 1971

Tammy cover 1 May 1971

  • Beattie Beats ‘Em All! (artist John Armstrong)
  • Our Jane – Little Mum (artist Colin Merritt)
  • My Father – My Enemy!
  • The Cat Girl (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • The Secret of Trebaran
  • The Girls of Liberty Lodge (artist Dudley Pout)
  • Slaves of “War Orphan Farm” (artist Desmond Walduck, writer Gerry Finley-Day?)
  • Betina at Ballet School
  • Action Girl
  • Glen – Loney Dog on a Quest (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Maisie’s Magic Eye (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Sara’s Kingdom (artist Bill Mainwaring)
  • Castaways on Voodoo Island (artist Ken Houghton)
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

Hello, everyone. For something a bit different in the issue entries, we are going to have a round robin of Tammy, where one issue will be selected and profiled from each year Tammy was running.

Leading off in 1971 is the 1 May issue. We are now three months into Tammy’s run. How is it all going? Many of the stories from Tammy’s first issue are still going strong, though three look like they are near the end.

We are some weeks into the Sally merger and Sally’s contributions are still going too. The Cat Girl and Maisie’s Magic Eye are providing some light relief against the grimness of the Tammy stories that focus on cruelty and misery.

And what’s going on the stories?

Beattie wins a sports event despite dirty tricks from jealous rivals. But she is still on the run from the orphanage and her past is threatening to catch up, as she discovers when she is shown a newspaper.

Our Janie Little Mum has been saddled with an additional problem to looking after her younger siblings – helping to hide a carthorse that has been earmarked for the slaughterhouse! And on the top floor of the apartment block too!

“My Father – My Enemy!” looks like it is on its penultimate episode. Father has been critically injured from violence during the miners’ strike, and his ramblings inform Julie just why he is so horrible to them – he blames them for his wife’s death. And quite wrongly, of course. Julie is now anxious to reconcile with him, but he has one foot in the door of death.

Glen looks like he is on his penultimate episode too. After a long, epic journey, he finally tracks down his mistress June. But she has been cornered by a vicious dog, and it’s a killer!

The Castaways of Voodoo Island looks like it is approaching its conclusion too. Jackie is cornered by the dreaded Devil God, but the blurb for next week says we will learn the truth about him.

The Cat Girl discovers her father has been set up to look like an enemy spy. She’s got to get to him before the British agents do.

On Trebaran, Abel the evil sorcerer (come to think of it, he was the only evil sorcerer Tammy ever had) is after a stone in Trudy’s possession. Surprisingly, he disappears when Trudy’s friends appear, but when she wakes up the following morning, it’s her friends have disappeared. Where have they got to?

The Girls of Liberty Lodge and their headmistress Miss Valentine are in a barge race against the rival school, Hardington School, which is run along the harsh, sadistic lines of Miss Steele, who hates Miss Valentine’s guts . As usual, Hardington plays dirty tricks against Liberty, but it backfires with Liberty finding helpers who get them to the finishing line first. And they have a new pupil – Lady Angela.

Kate frees one of the slaves of War Orphan Farm with the help of “Mad” Emma. Kate declines the offer to come too, because she wants to stay on and free more slaves. But nasty Ned and the evil Ma Thatcher have spotted the escape. What can Kate do to stop them?

Molly is also helping to liberate mistreated orphans, this time at an orphanage. The cruel staff look like they’ve conned Binks the chauffeur into helping them, but when they attack Mistress Clare he lashes back at them, and they get arrested. Well, that’s the end of the cruel treatment at the orphanage.

Betina is suspended from ballet lessons after being wrongly accused. Her confidence is so shattered that she has decided to pack her bags.

Sara is one step closer to finding the ruby that will cement her claim to the throne of Hunzir, but is warned to beware “the fat bearded one”. By the looks of things, he is the one heading up the mountain in a jeep to cut her off.

 

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.