Tag Archives: Jordi Franch

Tammy 9 June 1979

Cover artist: John Armstrong

Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)

The Happiest Days (artist Mario Capaldi) – first episode

100 Tammy Leotards To Be Won! – Contest 

Get Your Skates On, Katie (artist Diane Gabbot(t))

Karina and Khan (artist Jordi Franch)

Bessie Bunter (artist Arthur Martin)

Molly Mills and the Grim Governess (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

Wee Sue (artist Mike White)

The Peasant’s Prophesy (sic) (artist Carlos Freixas) – Strange Story

The Wolf at Our Door (artist Bob Harvey)

In our previous entry we discussed how Bella had become so powerful in Tammy that she sometimes ran Bella-inspired competitions. Here is another case, which appeared in 1979. Tammy is running a Bella-inspired contest with 100 Tammy leotards up for grabs. It’s a “spot the difference” contest, using a panel taken from the first episode of Bella’s current story. Also, Tammy announces that over the next four issues she will be running a pull-out Bella poster in four parts.  

And the Bella story itself? It’s one of Bella’s grimmest. It’s another unjust public disgrace story. After a complicated misunderstanding she can’t prove, Bella is wrongly convicted and sent to a remand home. Now she’s discovered the sensationalist treatment she’s getting from the press over it, and it’s really getting to her. 

Bessie Bunter dream sequences sometimes seem to be as thought-provoking as they are funny. This week, pollution is the theme. The episode has been posted up for you to judge how prescient it was in today’s climate (or might be in the future). 

After the status quo at Stanton Hall was restored to the Molly strip in 1978, there was a definite change. The excesses with Pickering were toned down, and the beatings and torture devices (particularly the lake, the stocks and the dungeon) were dropped, but he still remained the bully butler. In Molly’s latest story, Mistress Clare’s new governess is Pickering in female form. In fact, the servants suspect she’s Pickering’s secret wife! Heh, heh, unlikely, but they ought to get married – they’re a perfect match!

The new story, “The Happiest Days”, is an evil influence story with a difference. It could have been done the usual creepy way, but instead it’s done the funny way. Great Aunt Aggie’s frightful portrait casts such a pall over the school she founded that everyone is in a constant state of depression and weeping (yet they still make us laugh). Her descendant, Sunny Smyles, is the only one immune. Once Sunny realises what’s going on, it’s war between her and her grim ancestor, with sobriety versus cheerfulness.

Bob Harvey artwork began to appear in Tammy in 1978 with the Strange Stories, but now Harvey is drawing a serial, “The Wolf at Our Door”, a story that strongly hints the wolf is not as extinct in Britain as people think. A pack appears to have survived in a pocket environment, and it is threatening a budding kennel business. Bob Harvey artwork would become regular in Tammy when “Pam of Pond Hill” came over from Jinty near the end of 1981.

“Karina and Khan” brings some Jordi Franch artwork to Tammy. It’s essentially a horse story, with Karina fighting all odds to stay with her beloved horse, Khan, but the storyline also brings a dash of politics and the Iron Curtain with it. 

A magic pair of skates gives Katie the power to ice skate, as previous owner Katrina Freeman’s talent is channelling through her. Now, when the protagonist gains talent this way (which could be considered a form of cheating), the ending will have to show if she has gained enough from the power to do fine on her own, the power has brought out the talent she had all along and just needed confidence, or she has to quit because her talent is not genuine. A power that gives the protagonist the talent she wants is never allowed to last on a permanent basis.

Wee Sue is one strip that gets the most rotation of artwork in Tammy, and we don’t mind as she is one strip that can work well with a variety of artists who can do humour. Her current artist is Mike White. 

Carlos Freixas never drew a serial for Tammy, but his artwork appeared in the Strange Stories and, later on, in complete stories. This week he draws a Strange Story set in the French Revolution. The Duvalles rule their estate in a humane manner (unlike most French aristocrats), but this does not make them exempt from the threat of Madame La Guillotine. However, it makes people willing to help them escape, and one gives a prophecy. When the Duvalles flee, it looks like the prophecy can never be fulfilled – except for the strange thing that happened just before they did so.

Spellbound No. 1, 25 September 1976

Spellbound cover 25 September 1976

  • When the Mummy Walks… – first episode (artist Norman Lee)
  • Spectre from the Flame – Damian Darke story
  • The Secret of Silver Star – first episode (artist Edmond Ripoll)
  • Nightmare (text story)
  • Supercats: Meet the Sun God (artist Jorge B. Galvez (possibly with help from Enrique Badía Romero))
  • The Haunting of Laura Lee – first episode
  • I Don’t Want to be a Witch – first episode (artist Norman Lee)
  • Lonely Lucy – first episode (artist Jordi Franch)

Spellbound Supercats

The DCT title Spellbound is best remembered today as the proto-Misty, the first girls’ title to be the first to be a horror/Goth title. Spellbound lasted for just 69 issues and merged into Debbie. Ironically, Spellbound folded in the same month Misty started. In the wake of the lingering affection for Misty, Spellbound is being rediscovered and her issues are becoming serious collectors’ items.

Spellbound is unusual for not having a girl’s name as her title, a la Bunty, Debbie, or even Misty. Because of this, no female host acts as the female the comic is named after or appears as a cover girl. This role is covered by The Supercats, regular characters in Spellbound who originally appeared in Diana as “The Fabulous Four”, and were resurrected in Spellbound to the point of dominating it. The comic’s club is named after the Supercats, they are the fictional writers of the letters page, and the weekly horoscope, the Zodiacat, is Supercat-themed. And when Spellbound merged into Debbie, the Supercats were the ones who carried on in the merger.

The theme of ancient Egypt is running high in the first issue, beginning with its first gift: the mystic sun pendant. It continues with the first Spellbound story, “When the Mummy Walks…”. The gorgeous artwork in its splash page hits you right in the eye and draws your attention straight into the comic the moment you open it. A Victorian museum featuring an exhibition on ancient Egypt incurs the curse of the mummy, which has broken out of its sarcophagus. No, it isn’t King Tut – it’s an Egyptian priestess.

Spellbound Mummy

Next is the other Spellbound regular character, Damian Darke. He hosted the weekly complete stories, which were of course spooky. In his first story, “Spectre from the Flame”, Jane Armitage senses something strange about the latest arrival in the antique shop where she works, an old candlestick. A burglar trying to steal the candlestick finds out too late that it belonged to none other than the infamous Judge Jeffreys! But for once we are rooting for Jeffreys when his spectre appears to show the burglar the justice he was famous for. All the same, Jane is relieved when the candlestick gets sold. After Spellbound folded, Damian Darke carried on his stories in Debbie and Mandy.

Damian Darke 1

Spellbound Judge Jeffries

The second serial is “The Secret of Silver Star”. It feels a bit out of place in this spooky-themed comic as there is no supernatural theme about it, not even the titular horse being a spectre or something. Instead it’s about a horse that has to be put into hiding when it is to be destroyed. Perhaps the story’s mystery theme – an unknown saboteur trying to destroy the stables – is what is supposed to tie it into the comic. All the same, it does not feel like it really belongs in this type of comic and would be better off in a more traditional DCT title like Mandy or Judy.

After the text story “Nightmare” (which turns out to be a false alarm for the protagonist), we meet the Supercats in person. They are a group of intergalactic super-heroes: Helen Miller the leader despite her lack of superpowers; Hercula, who is super-strong; Electra, who can generate electricity; and Fauna, who can change colour. Their first adventure in Spellbound carries on the ancient Egypt theme. They land on a planet that looks like ancient Egypt and the Egyptian Sun God wants Helen as his bride. But it isn’t a wedding to make her so – it’s being sacrificed on his altar!

(Click thru)

It would not be complete without a story regarding an evil force of some kind taking possession of the protagonist, and this we get with “The Haunting of Laura Lee”. Laura Lee had only played the piano for fun. But that changes when she acquires a mysterious ring that won’t come off. All of a sudden she can play brilliantly, but she senses it wasn’t her playing. What’s more, she’s playing until she’s exhausted. She doesn’t like it one bit.

In “I Don’t Want to be a Witch”, Celia Winters does not want to follow the family tradition of becoming a witch and insists on going to an ordinary school. However, her Aunt Armida is out to change her mind, which means the story will follow the pattern of who will win the argument.

Finally, we come to “Lonely Lucy”. There is no outright supernatural theme, but it still blends into Spellbound better than Silver Star because it is a dark story, has a period setting, highwaymen, and persecution that stems from ignorance and superstition. Lucy Pilgrim has been dumped in an orphanage, which, as you might expect, is a cruel one. But for Lucy it’s even crueller as the children call her a witch because she’s left handed. She runs away, but runs slap bang into the highwayman himself! Has she jumped from the frying pan and into the fire? And will the branding of Lucy as a witch just because she’s left handed continue?

Spellbound Lonely Lucy

There are no humorous cartoon strips in the first issue to lighten things up a bit, as Miss T did in Misty.