Cover artist: John Armstrong
Bella at the Bar (artist John Armstrong, writer Jenny McDade)
Waifs of the Wigmaker (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Bill Harrington) – first episode
Red Letter Rosie
Ella’s Ballet Boat (artist Jim Eldridge) – first episode
Aunt Aggie (artist J. Badesa, creator Pat Mills) – return
Lure of the Lamp (artist Christine Ellingham) – Strange Story
You Need Hands – Competition
Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)
No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
It’s been a year since June merged with Tammy. How has the merger impacted on Tammy in that time? The June logo is still on the cover, but instead of the Cover Girls we have Bella on the cover this week. Bella, who first appeared with the merger, has clearly become so powerful that she sometimes pushes the Cover Girls off the cover. The John Armstrong artwork on the cover must have been a big attraction as well.
The second Bella story (by popular demand) is going far longer than the first, not only because of the popularity but also because of the story arc (Bella clearing her name after being publicly disgraced by a jealous rival) requires a whole lot more development and episodes to resolve. It is also much darker than her first story (which was pretty dark as it was), as poor Bella has to battle her way through her wrongful disgrace as well as obstacles set forth by her cruel guardians, nasty tricksters and other enemies in order to keep up her gymnastics. Despite them all, she has done well enough to represent Britain in a championship, but the stigma just keeps catching up again and again.
Also returning from Tammy’s earlier years, by popular demand, is Aunt Aggie. Like “The Honourable S.J.” from Judy, she’s a nasty piece of work and a very crafty schemer who can put on a phoney face of kindness that fools everyone (in Aunt Aggie’s case, as a warm-hearted TV celebrity). Only the long-suffering protagonist who has to cope with her knows the truth. But unlike the Honourable S.J., Aunt Aggie is a full adult, and she is also played for humour, with a hilarious weekly comeuppance as our protagonist foils her nasty schemes. It’s a very deft combination of nastiness and comedy.
Uncle Meanie, who carried over from the Sandie merger, is now gone. Wee Sue, the other addition from Sandie, is now being drawn by John Richardson. The June additions, the Storyteller and Bessie Bunter, have established their staying power. Molly is still going as well, along with the misery-laden Cinderella and slave stories that made Tammy a hit when she was first published.
The current Cinderella story, “Red Letter Rosie”, is now on its penultimate episode. A new slave story, “Waifs of the Wigmaker”, starts this week. It’s slavery in a Victorian wig factory, and the cruelty is a whole lot more than just exploited workers. The girls are deliberately degraded with measures such as being chained up as they work and newcomers having their hair cropped on arrival and forced to make their first wig with it. The villain of it all, Ma Parting, is an noteworthy one for being totally blind. But her blindness makes her an even more dangerous villain and hard to escape from, because her other senses are so acute they’re virtually superhuman.
Tammy was never without a ballet story for long. The new one, “Ella’s Ballet Boat”, makes a nice change in having a ballet troupe instead Tammy’s more usual ballet formula in having an individual ballerina as the protagonist. It also gives us more variety of characters and character development.