Tag Archives: Maria Barrera

Tammy 17 September 1983

Namby Pamby (artist Eduardo Feito, writer Ian Mennell)

Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)

Donkey’s Years (artist John Richardson, writer Ian Mennell) – Pony Tale

Take Your Place! (artist Joe Collins, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – Quiz 

Annie’s Cuttings (artist Phil Townsend, writer Jake Adams)

The Crazyees (artist Joe Collins)

Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)

Room for Rosie (artist Santiago Hernandez, writer Alison Christie)

Lonely Ballerina (artist Maria Barrera, writer Jay Over)

Back in Form! (Mari L’Anson) – Feature

We continue our September theme with this “back to school” issue from Tammy. Tammy steps in to cheer up Tammy readers who are trudging back to school after the summer holidays, and brings them a school quiz and (yay!) the return of Pam of Pond Hill.

A new pupil, Megan Morris, joins Pam’s class. Traditionally, new pupils in Pam’s class lead to trouble for her until the resolution of the plot thread. So far this doesn’t seem to be the case with Megan, who helps out when Pam’s gran takes a fall downstairs. However, the accident clinches Pam’s parents’ decision to move to the countryside, which leaves Pam shocked at the thought of being uprooted and leaving Pond Hill.

In “Namby Pamby”, Pam Beeton’s upbringing has been so over-protective that she is dubbed “namby pamby” at school. She is resorting to the old trick of going behind her mother’s back to get some freedom, which has gotten her in trouble. There’s trouble again when the class sneak off to a fair and Pam unwittingly lets it slip to a prefect. Now Pam’s class are out for her blood for sneaking. In the last panel we can see Pam has reached breaking point. Next week’s blurb says Pam’s going to run away (wow, her over-protective mum will probably have a heart attack at that!), which means only one thing: the end of the story is close.

“Lonely Ballerina” has discovered that the woman running the shambolic ballet school is not the ballet teacher but her sister. The teacher has been missing for months and the layabout pupils don’t care; they just take advantage to enjoy themselves. The lonely ballerina is the first to ask serious questions about what’s going on.

“The Button Box” is absent this week, but we get an emotional complete story, “Annie’s Cuttings”, about a ragged old woman named Annie Holmes living in a rundown house. She does nothing but collect old newspapers and has nobody in the world to love her except her cat Moonlight. Next door, Mum is rather intolerant of Annie, but her daughter Tina is more sympathetic and finds a way to help Annie once she discovers her problem: poor Annie was jilted at the altar and the trauma turned her into what she is. 

Bella enters a talent contest to raise funds for her gymnastics club. At her friend Jenny’s suggestion, they pair up to make it a burlesque gymnastics performance. The audience loves it, but is it enough to win? They didn’t bring a single supporter with them.

In the Pony Tale “Donkey’s Years”, Felicity Hewitson thinks the donkey man is mistreating his donkey Ned and steps in. However, it turns out she misconstrued what she saw. The man was being grouchy with Ned but not intentionally cruel, and he really does care for Ned. Incidentally, why is the story labelled a Pony Tale when a donkey is not a pony?

Pauline Wheeler gets an offer for Rosie. But instead of it falling through as usual, she actually turns it down once she realises the potential buyer wants Rosie as part of his antique collection when gran always used her as a workhorse. Rosie has to go to a home where she will make herself useful.

Tammy 4 September 1982

Cover artist: Eduardo Feito

A Horse Called September (artist Eduardo Feito, writer Anne Digby)

Saving Grace (artist Juliana Buch, writer Ian Mennell)

Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Malcolm Shaw)

The Grand Finale (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – complete story

Cross on Court (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Gerry Finley-Day)

Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)

A Gran for the Gregorys (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie) – final episode

Slave of the Clock (artist Maria Barrera, writer Jay Over)

It’s September, so it feels appropriate to look back at some September issues, I think. And what better to start things off than with a cover that profiles a story with “September” in the title?

Some publications started life as a girls’ serial. Such is the case with “A Horse Called September”, a serial that reunites the creative team from Tammy horse classic, “Olympia Jones”. The serial was originally published in June as a text story, with the spot illustrations drawn by the ever-popular Shirley Bellwood. In the 1980s writer Anne Digby published it as a book, and Tammy adapted the serial as a picture story serial to tie in with the publication. 

In the story, Mary Wilkins and Anna Dewar have always been best friends on Mr Dewar’s farm. But when Mr Dewar gets big ideas about Anna winning a huge riding championship, things turn sour. Mr Dewar is so obsessed with it that he’s driving September the horse too ruthlessly, and now September’s lost his nerve because of it. Moreover, Anna’s been sent to a top riding school, which is changing her for the worse and she’s neglecting her friendship with Mary.

In “Saving Grace”, Sue Blackstone’s friendship with Grace Clark has also soured because Grace changed for the worse while Sue was abroad, and Sue can’t figure out why. Grace has driven a girl to run away with pony Jackson from the school pets club, which faces closure. Now Grace appears to have snaffled Jackson and her classmates are out for blood.

Bella has lost her memory and Jed and Gert are taking advantage. A runaway named Jenny, who is hiding in the Barlows’ shed, has discovered this and she tells Bella the truth. Will this bring Bella’s memory back?

“The Grand Finale” features an egotistical magician whose conjuring is nowhere near as good as he thinks. As a matter of fact, he’s so awful he doesn’t even maintain his props properly and they just fall apart in front of the spectators. Personally, I find the story as lousy as the magician.

Tammy had a number of stories where protagonists have terrible temper trouble. This time it’s Sarah Cross of “Cross on Court”, who blows her top each week, and each time she does she is left with one huge regret over it.

Pam of Pond Hill and her class have been set a challenge – an adventure course in Aberdaffy to prove their self-reliance – and the reward is a new playing field. The latest test – self-catering, is turning into disaster, but this week they turn things around. But the tests are only part of the difficulties. There is also a secret saboteur at work to destroy things because her father wants the same field for development.

It’s the final episode of “A Gran for the Gregorys”. The creative team (Phil Townsend and Alison Christie) already have a long line of emotional stories from Jinty, but this is the first story to credit the team. Ruth and Charlie Gregory are looking for a gran to adopt because the family badly need one. So far every single prospect has fizzled out and things are getting desperate. The only old lady to appear in the episode, Mrs Crabb, is as crabby as her name suggests. Surely she can’t become the gran – or could she?

In “Slave of the Clock”, Madame Margolia has hypnotised Alison Thorne into doing ballet exercises whenever she hears a clock ticking. This is a (misguided) measure to make Alison more dedicated to ballet, and clearly Madame Margolia did not foresee other consequences – like someone abusing the “power of the clock” as she calls it. This is what Alison’s ballet teacher Miss Dempster proceeds to do so she can become private tutor to a wealthy pupil. Miss Dempster vows this is the only time she will “deliberately use the power”. Oh, yeah? We know Miss Dempster has burning ambitions to get one of her pupils into the international ballet school and thinks the power of the clock could be the way to do it.

Tammy 8 October 1983

Tammy cover 8 October 1983

  • Lucky by Name… (artist Juliana Buch, writer Malcolm Shaw) – first episode
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Alison Christie)
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Run, Rabbit, Run! (artist Edmond Ripoll, writer Roy Preston)
  • Glenda’s Glossy Pages (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Pat Mills) – first episode
  • Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)
  • Room for Rosie (artist Santiago Hernandez, writer Alison Christie)
  • Lonely Ballerina (artist Maria Barrera, writer Jay Over)
  • The Crayzees (artist and writer Joe Collins)

Two stories start this issue: “Lucky by Name” (the second Tammy horse story with that title) and a repeat of “Glenda’s Glossy Pages” from 1975, with no announcement that it is a repeat. This is rather strange. When Tammy brings a story back by popular demand she says it was brought back by popular demand, but there’s nothing. So was it popular demand that brought Glenda back, or did they just bring it back as a filler or something?

In the former, a foal is born into a wild pony forest reserve. But there seems to be something strange about it, both in its appearance and in the way weird things seem to happen in its presence. In the latter, nice things are beyond Glenda Slade because of her mother’s low income. Then things begin to change when she receives a mail order catalogue. But maybe Glenda should remember the old saying: if it’s too good to be true, it usually is…

The Button Box story (below) is one of my favourites: the barrel button story. Bev tells the story as a lesson not to discount old barrels. Personally, though, I read the moral of the story as knowing a few basics about self defence and how to free yourself from bonds (check out the Internet) in the event of a home invasion/robbery.

(click thru)

In Pam of Pond Hill, Dad’s business is in trouble. A new supermarket is stealing his customers by undercutting his fruit & veg prices. Counter-measures to win back customers get outmanoeuvred every time and Pam suspects a leak. Tracy keeps insisting the spy is Pam’s new friend Meg, but Pam doesn’t believe it. Then, at the very end of the episode, Meg acts very strangely – she can’t get inside fast enough when Pam discovers where she lives. Hmm, does Meg have something to hide?

In the complete story, “Run, Rabbit, Run!”, Rae Betts is dubbed “rabbit” and gets bullied at school. The ringleader isn’t all that nice to her own rabbit either. Matters come to a head when the terrified rabbit runs away – right into a burning field. Strangely, a Misty story had the same title and a similar theme. The Tammy version was was written by Roy Preston, who was credited with writing plenty of spooky stories for Tammy. Did Preston write the Misty version too?

Bella has taken over as club coach because the two quarrelsome coaches have quit. They realise their mistake and come back, as it is the eve of a serious competition, but Bella is put out when the girls say no thanks because they’ve had enough of their arguing. Next week is the final episode, so we will see how this resolves.

In “Lonely Ballerina”, the ballet school has gone to pot because the principal, Mary Devine, has been missing for months. At last she is found – in the attic. Tanya Lane, who thought Mary’s sister Betty was holding her prisoner, is surprised to find Betty crying over her instead. All the same, Betty has some serious explaining to do.

Rosie’s in the school panto, serving as Sleeping Beauty’s cot. She becomes a panto star and takes curtain calls with the rest of the cast. Sadly, no home comes out of it for her.

In “The Crazyees”, the cat’s pining because Snoopa hasn’t appeared for ages. Miss T and Edie investigate and discover the lovesick cat is driving Snoopa to distraction, so he’s hiding from her. Miss T’s solution: make Snoopa human size.

 

 

Tammy 3 September 1983

 

  • Namby Pamby (artist Eduardo Feito, writer Ian Mennell)
  • Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)
  • Porridge Pulls His Weight (artist Bert Hill, writer Linda Stephenson) – Pony Tale
  • Lonely Ballerina (artist Maria Barrera, writer Jay Over) – first episode
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, (sub)writer Linda Stephenson)
  • The Moon Maiden (artist Hugo D’Adderio, writer Roy Preston) – complete story
  • Room for Rosie (artist Santiago Hernandez, writer Alison Christie)
  • Make Your Mind Up, Maggie (artist Juliana Buch) 
  • Warmer Outlook (Mari L’Anson) – feature

What could be so spooky or terrifying about a ship in a bottle? A lot if you’re in a Roy Preston story and you’ve been cursed for deliberately wrecking a ship at the expense of lives so you can claim insurance. The story, “The Moon Maiden”, appears below. Roy Preston is credited as writing a number of complete spooky stories, often with comeuppances, for Tammy during her credits period. This lends credence to Preston having written some of the other creepy complete stories we’ve seen in the past: Misty completes, Strange Stories, Monster Tales and Gypsy Rose. 

(Click thru)

A new ballet story, “Lonely Ballerina”, reunites the creative team from another Tammy ballet story, “Slave of the Clock“. Tanya Lane is sent to Mary Devine’s ballet school for more advanced coaching, but upon arrival she finds things aren’t exactly how they look in the brochure. The school is a mess, the pupils laze about, there are no lessons, and the teacher looks as much a prima ballerina as a rice pudding. Looks like a cheat, but Tanya is determined to wring ballet lessons out of it if it kills her.

“Make Your Mind Up, Maggie” is on its penultimate episode. Madame has found out Maggie’s secret and expelled her for disobeying orders. Ironically, it’s all because of Maggie’s friend Nadia, who got her expelled in the mistaken belief that ballet was preventing Maggie from pursuing her true vocation, riding. It was the other way around, Nadia you great nana! Now Maggie’s hopping mad at her. Still, there can be no doubt everything will be sorted out next week because it will be the conclusion. It’s a bit strange, reading the penultimate and final episodes as single episodes when they appeared as a double episode in the original run because of an imminent merger.

“Namby Pamby” started in the same issue as Maggie but still has ways to go before it reaches its penultimate episode. No wonder, with the amounts of growth Pamela Beeton has to catch up on because of her ridiculously over-protective upbringing, which has left her with the maturity of a toddler. This week Pam is learning to ride a bike, something her mother never allowed her to do: “they’re too dangerous” she said. Pam is off for a bike ride with her friends but has to do it behind her mollycoddling mother’s back. Next week’s episode will tell if she gets away with it and takes another stride with independence and growth.

This week’s pony tale is drawn by Bert Hill, an artist seen more often at DCT. As the story appeared during Tammy’s credits run, this is Hill’s only credited story. The story is about the bad old days of children being exploited and abused in mines in the 19th century, and in this case, how speaking out – and striking back – improves things. 

The Button Box tale has a moral on accepting things have their time and times change, and you must change with them. In Linton, the new cinema overtakes the hurdy gurdy man in popularity. For one day he and his daughter Dolly triumph over the cinema with a lotto (now bingo) game, but it can only be a one-off. The father realises the hurdy gurdy has had its day and takes a job to make ends meet, but Dolly appears to find it harder to accept. Years later, Dolly has the satisfaction of seeing the old cinema turned into a bingo hall.

Bella’s gymnastics club is at a competition, but the coaches keep quarrelling, which is affecting the team and their chances of winning. Bella takes a bold move to ensure they win: add some extra-difficult moves to her beam routine. At least the coaches finally agree on something – they are appalled at the risks Bella is taking. 

Pauline has to do some fast work to save Rosie from being smashed up and then being stolen. Plus another failed bid to find her a home. 

 

 

The Shadow of Sherry Brown [1981-82]

Sample Images

Shadow of Sherry Brown 1Shadow of Sherry Brown 2Shadow of Sherry Brown 3

Published: Tammy & Jinty 28 November 1981 – 13 February 1982

Episodes: 11

Artist: Maria Barrera

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: None known

Plot

Katy Bishop is taken in by new guardians, Mr and Mrs Brown, in agreement with her gran, who is no longer capable of minding her. Katy is not impressed to find that the Browns’ interest in her was prompted by her being a dead ringer for their daughter Sherry, who had died eighteen months before. She is upset and angry at the unfairness of being in the shadow of their daughter and being given her room and things, as if Sherry were still alive, and making them feel she is alive again too. But Katy soon finds that is the least of her problems.

The daughter Sherry may be dead, but she is far from gone. Her ghost haunts the place, appearing as a shadow. The ghost is spiteful, jealous and vicious towards Katy whenever Katy acquires something – or someone – that was once hers. There are no limits to what Sherry is capable of to protect her former possessions from Katy, even if it comes close to murder. Even Sherry’s former friends and horse get attacked by the ghost if Katy gets too close to them.

Katy hears that Sherry had an extremely severe jealousy streak when she was alive. If anyone intruded on her friendship with Joan, her best friend, she would fly into a fury, and even attack Joan. She always apologised afterward and “all was all sweetness and light again”, but her jealousy always remained her biggest failing. The source of this information (above) is questionable as the girl who tells Katy this is the only one who did not like Sherry. And Sherry did have loads of friends, including Joan. All the same, it fits the pattern of the ghost’s conduct.

As Katy can’t really leave the Browns, Sherry can’t really get rid of her, short of actually killing her or something. Katy just tries to avoid anything that was once Sherry’s. But no matter how hard she tries she always seems to bump into one of Sherry’s former possessions, and the jealous ghost attacks her yet again. Moreover, the ghost can strike from anywhere; she’s not just confined to the home. The ghost is a shadow in more ways than one. She can stick to Katy like a shadow and be ready to strike the moment Katy finds anything of hers. Katy is forced to give up on things and people once she finds out they were once Sherry’s, including Sherry’s best friend Joan and her horse Snowball – and she liked them both so much.

Of course Katy can’t really settle down with the Browns because of Sherry or be happy living there. She always has the feeling of being threatened and lives in a constant state of fear. She can’t explain what’s going on. When she tries, nobody listens. Nobody else seems to see that shadow or sense the threatening, hostile atmosphere it projects towards her. She daren’t even refer to the Browns as “Mum” and “Dad”, much to their bewilderment and disappointment. But with the Browns now her guardians, she can’t leave the house and be free of Sherry forever.

Matters come to a head when the Browns’ wedding anniversary comes up. Having learned they like collecting miniature houses, Katy sets out to buy one at a gift shop. But then the shadow appears, and smashes all the goods and wrecks the shop. Outside Joan sees what is going on – and this time she does see the shadow, and it’s the shadow that’s causing the damage.

The shop owner thinks Katy caused the damage, of course. Joan backs up Katy’s protests of innocence. As the shop owner would not believe about the shadow, Joan tries to convince her it was vibration from passing lorries. The shop owner agrees not to call the police, but bans them both from her premises, as she is not fully convinced.

Realising Joan also saw the shadow, Katy tells her everything. And yes, Joan can feel the sense of being threatened too. But why did Sherry attack the shop?

Joan explains that it was because of how Sherry died (of which it is now the anniversary). Exactly two years ago now, she bought a wedding anniversary gift for her parents from the shop, but got so excited about it when she saw Joan across the road that she forgot to watch the traffic and got hit by a lorry. With her dying breath she told Joan she was disappointed that her parents would not receive her gift, which got smashed in the accident. By rotten luck it was identical to the one Katy was about to buy, and this must have really pushed the shadow over the edge.

They realise this disappointment is why Sherry couldn’t rest in the first place. So they figure that if the parents do get the gift her ghost will be laid to rest. Fortunately Joan still has the pieces. So they repair it and give it to the parents on Sherry’s behalf. Sure enough, they soon find they no longer feel threatened or have the shadow hanging over them.

Thoughts

This was one of the new stories to be launched when the Tammy & Jinty merger started. The merger gives the impression it was still using unpublished scripts from Misty, and this serial looks like it was one of them. Neither Tammy nor Jinty would have come up with such a malicious, spiteful ghost, but it is something Misty would definitely have gone for. Besides, the story is drawn by a former Misty artist who had not been a regular in either Tammy or Jinty before.

Tammy didn’t have all that many ghost stories (perhaps it was the long-standing Storyteller providing so much spooky material), but there is no doubt that “The Shadow of Sherry Brown” is the most frightening and disturbing one that Tammy ever published. In fact, Sherry Brown is one of the most terrifying ghosts ever to appear in girls’ comics. It’s not just because the ghost’s jealousy is making her so dangerous to Katy. It’s also because she acts so viciously even to those she once liked (Joan, Snowball) if they get to close to Katy or her heart. It’s not just terrifying; it’s repugnant as well. The ghost would be even more despicable if she had attacked her parents in the same way. And what makes the haunting even more miserable for the victim is that there is no escaping it wherever she goes, short of leaving the Browns for good. No matter where Katy turns, she comes up against it one way or other.

It is fortunate for Katy that what caused the haunting in the first place has nothing to do with Sherry’s jealousy. It’s disappointment over a failure (and a pretty minor failure at that). It is something that can easily be fixed once it is explained. In fact, Sherry could have explained it to Katy herself and asked for her help in solving her problem, if only she had thought of it. After all, getting rid of Katy would not get the gift to her parents, which is what she really wants if she is to rest in peace. But it seems Sherry was just too consumed with jealousy and possessiveness to think clearly on that point, and was cutting off her nose to spite her face there.

Tammy 29 October 1983

Tammy cover 29 October 1983

  • Lucky by Name… (artist Juliana Buch, writer Malcolm Shaw)
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Crayzees (artist Joe Collins)
  • Glenda’s Glossy Pages (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Pat Mills)
  • The Nightingale’s Song – complete story (artist Douglas Perry, writer Roy Preston)
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, sub-writer Linda Stephenson)
  • Spell of Fog – first episode (artist Tony Coleman, writer Jake Adams)
  • Room for Rosie (artist Santiago Hernandez, writer Alison Christie)
  • Lonely Ballerina – final episode (artist Maria Barrera, writer Jay Over)
  • Make a Mask for Halloween! – feature (writer Chris Lloyd)

Halloween is coming up. So I am bringing out the last Halloween issue Tammy ever published. The cover is very nice, and the girls look like Trick-or-Treaters or organising their Halloween party. Inside, we have instructions for making a Halloween mask and the Crayzees go to a Halloween fancy dress ball. Miss T and Edie are rather chagrined when the human-sized Snoopa wins first prize for dressing up as Miss T!

In last week’s issue, Tammy had a blurb about a spooky story starting this issue in commemoration of Halloween. It is “Spell of Fog”. A film crew arrives at the village of Wolfen to make a film about Alice Compton, a girl who was burned at the stake for witchcraft and rumoured to haunt the spot where her ashes were scattered.  So when the film producer announces his plans to do a historically inaccurate, sensationalised film where Alice is truly evil and an agent of the Devil instead of one of the hapless victims of witch hunts, it really is asking for trouble. Sure enough, a mist is soon arising on the spot where Alice is said to haunt, and it’s clearly blowing in the opposite direction of the wind…

Surprisingly, “Room for Rosie” is celebrating Guy Fawkes one week early and passing over Halloween altogether. Pauline Wheeler is trying to honour her dying gran’s last request to find a good home for her beloved pram, “Rosie”, but so far no luck. Meantime, Rosie is being put to more of the 101 uses that she was so famous for with Gran. This week it’s carrying the Guy for the penny-for-the-routine. Rosie does not do much to sort out the problem of the week, which is where to have the bonfire after the kids lose their regular lot for it.

You’d think there would be a Halloween story in the Button Box. Instead, it’s a story to reassure you that a representative will always be on hand to sort out any problems you may have when you are on holiday abroad.

The complete story is about a promising singer, Suzy Nightingale, who loses her power of speech and singing from the shock of her mother’s death. She nurses her namesake back to health when it is injured, and notices that the nightingale has remained silent all the while, just like her. But all of a sudden the nightingale regains its power of song, which prompts Suzy to regain hers.

“Lonely Ballerina” reunites the creative team from ballet story Slave of the Clock. This was the last ballet story Tammy ever published (not counting “I’m Her – She’s Me!”, although it does have ballet in it). Tanya Lane arrives at Mary Devine’s ballet school, only to find it’s nothing but a mess, she’s the only serious pupil there, and there is a mystery to unravel. The reveal (not very credible and does not make the story one of Tammy’s best) is that Mary’s sister Betty has been struggling to keep the ballet school going after an accident rendered Mary catatonic. This was a foolish thing to do, as Betty knows nothing about ballet. Even more unwisely, she tried to conceal Mary’s condition instead of explaining the situation, getting help, and keeping the school closed until her sister recovered. Mary did not do so until the final episode. In the meantime, the school fell apart, efforts to hide the secret from the governors have now failed, the story is all over the newspapers, and the school faces closure. But of course, being a girls’ story, things end happily.

“Lucky by Name” is a foal named Lucky who seems to have powers over other animals. Unfortunately more and more people are beginning to notice. Now Lucky has made two rich and powerful enemies over it, and they look like they are threatening serious trouble.

Glenda gets a really freaky sign that her “glossy pages” have supernatural powers that could be dangerous. Mum lights a fire where Glenda hid her glossy pages and elsewhere, the bike she got from them catches fire! Yet there’s not a trace of damage on the bike or glossy pages. Then there’s even more trouble when the police come around and demand to know where Glenda got that nice stuff that is way beyond her means, and are not going to believe it came from those glossy pages. What can Glenda do? Or, more to the point, what are those glossy pages going to do?

The latest Pam of Pond Hill story ends this week. Dad has been facing down a supermarket rival whose cut-price fruit & veg have been threatening his greengrocer business. But just when that problem looks all sorted out, the supermarket gets vandalised and Pam is suspect because of the recent bad blood between the two businesses and an item, which was given to her, was found at the scene of the crime.

The Body Snatchers [1979-1980]

Sample Images

Body Snatchers 1Body Snatchers 2Body Snatchers 3Body Snatchers 4

Published: Misty 10 November 1979 to 12 January 1980 (final issue)

Episodes: 10

Artist: Maria Barrera

Writer: Unknown

Translations/Reprints: The Best of Misty Monthly #4

Plot

Nancy Perkins is making a belated return to boarding school after an illness and immediately notices strange things happening. Her taxi is crossed by a teacher, who looks scared out of his wits and in a dreadful state before he disappears into a storm. Yet Nancy later sees him at school, looking perfectly normal and doesn’t know what she is talking about. Certain pupils and teachers act out of character – as if they were imposters. A pupil disappears without explanation. Nancy sees a procession of pupils and teachers heading off to Broughty Manor in the dead of night, although the headmistress has just put that place strictly out of bounds and has reminded the pupils about it twelve dozen times already. We soon learn that these people are the henchmen of “the master”, there is something non-human about their eyes, and they have some sort of affinity with plants. Realising Nancy is noticing too much, “the master” orders them to kidnap her and bring her to his lair at Broughty Manor.

The master, Dr Bracken, explains that the Government and scientific community refused to believe his claim that he could heal people by combining plant serum to human flesh to re-grow body parts. Desperate to prove his theory, Bracken tested it on himself. But the attempt was premature, or so Bracken believes anyway. As a result, the entire left-hand side of Bracken’s body is plant, and now he’s a freak. Bracken blames the Government for his condition, so he is seeking revenge by overthrowing the Government and establishing himself as Britain’s ruler. The first stage of his plan is replacing everyone in the community with special plants that are grown as human clones. The clones are equipped with the brain-patterns of their human counterparts. These include all the staff at Nancy’s school and a considerable number of the pupils. What happens to the real people? They get fed to his man-eating plant, of course.

Nancy makes a run for it, only to nearly fall foul of the man-eating plant when she stumbles into its layer. Bracken sees this on his monitor and laughingly leaves her to the plant. Fortunately Nancy realises in time that sudden movement attracts the man-eater, so slow movements will get her out. After that escape she stumbles into the greenhouse where Bracken grows his plant-people. She is revolted and sickened by this “people factory” and can’t get out fast enough. She did not notice that her own double was growing there too!

Nancy breaks into the school to call the police. However, the plant people detect her before she can complete the call. She tries to escape down the ivy, but the plant people control all plants, which enables them to capture her by commanding the ivy to fall down. They tie her up in the infirmary. Fortunately Nancy’s friend Laura saw everything and gets her out.

After Nancy explains what’s going on, the girls make a run for it together. As they do so, they discover that Bracken almost has the entire district under his control and realise the plant people have a power over other plants, including communicating with them. So it’s only a matter of time before they are caught and have to get right away. They see a plant man preparing truck to drive to London, which is where Nancy’s parents live. Nancy and Laura sneak aboard the lorry, and have to share a dreadful ride with incubating plant people. They can barely keep themselves from screaming.

Nancy and Laura make it to Nancy’s house, only to find Bracken got there before them. He has kidnapped the parents and replaced them with plant clones. While trying to flee the plant people Nancy throws weedkiller at them, which destroys them. Now they know what weapon to use against the plant people.

Laura is dispatched to alert the police while Nancy heads back to Broughty Manor to rescue her parents. The first thing Nancy encounters in the manor is her plant clone! Nancy smashes a pot plant into the clone’s lantern, which causes it to burst into flames. Nancy heads to the man-eater plant room where her parents are sure to be. Sure enough, Bracken himself is about to feed them to it when Nancy bursts in. Nancy shouts at her parents not to make sudden movements, a warning Bracken forgets when he draws a gun on her. Attracted by the sudden movement, the plant seizes Bracken and devours him.

The police arrive (after Laura finally convinced them she was not crazy), but there is little for them to do except mop up. Fire has spread from the destruction of Nancy’s plant clone and is now burning down Bracken’s lair. The plant people just wither and die without Bracken to control them. So Bracken’s operation is now falling apart “like leaves in the wind”.

Thoughts

Mad scientists who tamper with or abuse nature were a common staple in Misty. And this being Misty, they paid the price, usually in the form of nature striking back one way or other. Bracken is no different. First, he suffers grotesque but fitting damage to his body as a result of his own experiments and tampering with nature. Of course he never even considers it was his own fault for not heeding what must have been legitimate warnings. Second, he gets eaten alive by his own man-eating plant and meets the same end he had inflicted on so many innocents.

In terms of weapons or credible invasion plans, the plant people are not all that strong. All you have to do is bring out the weedkiller or flamethrowers and they’re finished. I doubt they would stand up to bullets either. Or if you bring down Bracken himself, the plant people just keel over. The plant people are not good imposters although they carry the brain patterns and memories of those they have replaced. Sure, Bracken’s plan to take over Britain may look credible when he takes over the village and school, but that’s comparatively small and nobody except Nancy has caught on to what he’s up to. Taking over a whole country is vastly different and far more people would realise something’s wrong, and it would not take the army long to figure out the weaknesses of the plant people.

The definite strength of this story is definitely the horror and repulsiveness of Bracken’s experiments, including what he’s done to himself. The incubation of the plant people is nauseating. The plant people themselves are frightening in their somewhat vacant, zombie-like stares, but their real strength is how they have all plants at their command. Imagine if you are at 10 Downing Street and suddenly all the plants outside turn hostile. Or you are a farmer and suddenly all your crop fields go crazy. Of course there is Bracken’s ultimate monstrosity – the monster-sized maneater plant he uses to dispose of people once he finishes with them. And let us not forget the horror of Bracken’s appearance. Half-man, half plant. Urrghh, what a bizarre, grotesque sight he is. One side of his body is perfectly normal, but the other side is wood, twigs, and leaves. You scream out the moment you see his appearance in full! The horror is all brilliantly rendered by the Maria Barrera art in such intricate detail and effective use of shadowing.

I wonder if the Dr Who story “The Seeds of Doom” was inspiration for this story. It was aired three years before Body Snatchers, so it is possible. The story is so reminiscent of the Krynoid menace in the Dr Who story. The Krynoid, for those who don’t know, was an alien plant that not only eats people but also has the power to control other plants and make them turn hostile towards people. Both stories have a mad botanist out for conquest. Both mad botanists use ecological ways to dispose of people; in Body Snatchers it’s a maneater plant and in the Dr Who story it’s a compost machine. And wouldn’t you know it – both of these mad botanists meet their own gruesome ends by those very methods, which backfire on them.

Of course “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” would be inspiration too. Curiously, the book the movie was based on was also called “The Body Snatchers”.

Tammy and Princess 28 April 1984

Tammy 28 April 1984

Cover artist: Maria Barrera

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)
  • Cassie’s Coach (artist Tony Coleman, writer Alison Christie)
  • Open an Easter Egg! (writer Maureen Spurgeon) – quiz
  • The Horse Finders – A Pony Tale
  • Day and Knight (artist Juliana Buch) – final episode
  • Easter Parade – feature
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, main writer Alison Christie)
  • Easter Fun Spot – Easter jokes
  • Rusty, Remember Me (artist Eduardo Feito) – final episode
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Picture Yourself! – feature

 

We finish off our spread of Tammy Easter issues with the very last Tammy Easter issue in 1984. Easter is celebrated here with Easter features, an Easter quiz, Easter jokes, and a beautiful spring cover drawn by Maria Barrera.

It is four weeks into the Tammy and Princess merger, and two of the stories that came over from Princess end this week. In “Day and Knight”, Sharon now realises the only way to make her heartbroken father happy is to allow her bully stepsister Carrie a second chance. However, her wounds from all that bullying are making it very hard for her to do so, and she does not understand that her bully stepsister is now genuinely sorry. So it’s a real dilemma. Meanwhile, helping Rusty to get his leg fit again is what finally gets Donna to stop depending on her leg brace and work on improving that leg with exercise.

“Stefa’s Heart of Stone”, which Princess reprinted from Jinty, carries on, as Stefa has still not learned that a heart of stone is not the answer. Ruth, who now realises Stefa’s game, has the girls rally around for a “Melt Stefa” campaign to soften that stony heart. But so far all this gets is rude rebuffs from Stefa. Next week is Stefa’s birthday. Will this make things any different?

Bella has persuaded Benjie to join the sports acrobatics group as her partner. Pity the instructress is so unfriendly to Bella because she is a former gymnastics champion. An encouraging coach would really help the partnership to flourish more.

“Cassie’s Coach” reaches its penultimate episode, and it’s a tear-jerking plot development. Mr Ironside has been such a father figure to the Lord children ever since their mother was wrongly imprisoned. There is so much they could not have done without him – like find the old coach that became their home. But this week they lose him because he has to give up his business (can’t afford to replace his horse) and go work at his cousin’s farm. Can the Lord children survive without him?

“The Horse Finders” are commissioned to find 60 of the near-extinct black Zarah horse breed. They find 50 readily enough, but the final 10 are proving elusive, and time is running out. And time has just about run out when they are one short. But the 60th appears in a most surprise manner.

In this week’s Button Box story, Bev hears a church button story that is instructive in the evolution of hassocks. They started out as tufts of grass for poorer parishioners to kneel on. Unfortunately tufts of grass also made a mess on the church floor. So they became the more practical, decorative and non-messy cushions.

A Pond Hill girl, Catherine Bone, is being terrorised by a secret society known as “The Group” because she had been such a sneak. While Pam is appalled at what “The Group” is doing, others are unsympathetic and say it’s Catherine’s just desserts for sneaking. Di is one of them – but then Catherine turns up on the doorstep, dripping with paint that “The Group” threw all over her. What do you say to that, Di?

Tammy 31 March 1984

Tammy 31 March 1984

  • Dear Diary – I Hate You! (artist Maria Barrera) – final episode
  • Cassie’s Coach (artist Tony Coleman, writer Alison Christie)
  • Pearls of Wisdom (artist Hugo D’Adderio) – complete story
  • The Crayzees (artist Joe Collins) – final episode
  • Angela Angel-Face (artist Rodrigo Comos) – final episode
  • On Your Feet! (feature)
  • The Flying Horse (artist Hugo D’Adderio) – pony tale
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Pretty Trimmings (feature)

 

In the previous entry we profiled how the final issue of Princess prepared for the merger with Tammy on 7 April 1984. Now we profile how the Tammy issue for that week did the same.

The page advertising the merger is similar to Princess, except there are no characters or information telling us what to expect in the merger issue, apart from Rusty the Fox. Later in the issue we are informed “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” will be here next week. It replaces “Angela Angel-Face”, which is a repeat of the same Angela Angel-Face reprint that appeared in Jinty in late 1980. Angela is finished off with a two-part spread.

Tammy great news

“Dear Diary – I Hate You!” is another story that has been cleared out quickly to make room for the merger. For the past few weeks it had been running on six-page spreads before the usual three for the final episode. In the story, Tammy takes one of her rare forays into the blackmail story. It is the type of blackmail serial where the protagonist is forced to be ‘nice’ to an odious, unpopular girl, which makes her unpopular with her classmates and her life a nightmare. This scenario appeared frequently at DCT, with stories like Judy’s “Be Nice to Nancy!” However, it was far less common at IPC for some reason, and this is one of the few examples I have seen of it at IPC. In this case the blackmailer is expelled without the blackmail itself coming out. That is a bit odd for this type of story, but it has to be this way because of the tricky situation that caused the blackmail.

Pam’s current story has been a two-part filler. It had the potential to be spun out for several more episodes, but instead was told in two episodes. A new girl is being made a prisoner by her parents in her own home. They go as far as to escort her to school and back and even try to have the headmaster Mr Gold keep her away from her classmates at break times. Hurrah for Mr Gold for telling them he has no right to do that. It turns out they were reacting too harshly and rigidly to a violation of trust and their daughter getting into serious trouble and bad company. They themselves eventually realise they went about it the wrong way, and there is a happy ending with help from Pam of Pond Hill.

Sadie-in-Waiting from Princess takes over as the Joe Collins cartoon next week, so this week is the final episode of “The Crayzees” (below). No goodbyes from them; it’s a regular episode.

Crayzees 31 March 1984.jpeg

This week’s Button Box story is a story about rights for left-handed people. Alison thinks she can’t sew because she is left handed. So the button story Bev spins is one about a left-handed 1920s girl who was brilliant at sewing, but her sewing suffered at school because her sewing teacher kept forcing her to sew right handed. The teacher was silenced in the end. Alison emerges not only with a whole new confidence for sewing but also reminded as to how lucky she is not to be living in the bad old days when schools forced left-handed kids to use their right hands.

“Cassie’s Coach” is the only Tammy serial that carries on into the merger. The reason Tom has gone missing is that he has gone to sweep chimneys, and Cassie and her sister are worried sick. Of course Tom’s employer, Mr Scrimmet, is a cruel (and ugly) one, and won’t tell them where he is. So it’s a search to find Tom as soon as possible. When they do track Tom down they have to come up with a cunning plan to rescue him, because Scrimmet is not letting him go.

Not surprisingly, there are complete stories, which act as fillers. Both of them are period stories drawn by Hugo D’Adderio. One, set in the 15th century, is of a nobleman, Lord Belmont, being held to ransom in France while his brother Ambrose uses the ransom money (wrung out of the unfortunate peasants) to usurp Lord Belmont’s estate and keep himself in luxury. Ambrose even goes as far as to make Lord Belmont’s mother and daughter Meg servants in their own home. Once Meg finds out what Ambrose is really doing with the ransom money she devises a “desperate gamble” to get rid of him, which does come across as rather contrived and unbelievable, though of course it works.

The other D’Adderio story is a pony tale set in 1820, where Lucille Beringer works in her Uncle Marius’ hippodrome. Things go smoothly until Marius starts forcing Lucille and her horse Sultan into a stunt that is increasingly dangerous for the horses. Eventually Lucille decides to make a run for it with Sultan, but Marius is in hot pursuit and ready to horsewhip them into an even more dangerous stunt. This spurs them into the final effort they need to escape. Their panel on the cover is of the work they find in a more savoury horse show afterwards.

 

Tammy & Jinty 9 January 1982

Tammy & Jinty cover 9 January 1982

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong)
  • Danger Dog – first episode (artist Julio Bosch?)
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Shadow of Sherry Brown (artist Maria Barrera)
  • Little Sisters – first episode (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Nanny Young – first episode (artist Phil Gascoine, writers Maureen Spurgeon and Tom Newland)
  • Bessie Bunter – Old Friends (artist Arthur Martin)
  • Molly Mills and the Unhappy New Year – Old Friends (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Monster Tales: The Secret of Seafleet – first episode (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
  • Sandy – A Fresh Start – first episode (artist Juliana Buch)

We are now into the new year of the Tammy & Jinty merger. Indeed, the Molly Mills story in this issue has the New Year theme, where an old superstition causes the New Year to get off to a bad start at Stanton Hall. There is no New Year theme in the Bessie Bunter story, but there is a party theme where Miss Stackpole wants to go to a dance, but her new shoes need breaking in. Bessie volunteers to help stretch them. Of course Bessie has her own agenda in borrowing the shoes for a bit – namely, to cover her tracks when raiding the kitchen.

As part of the New Year celebrations, Tammy & Jinty bring out a lineup of five new stories (count ‘em, five!). There is little doubt that these were waiting in the wings while the merger completed other serials from both Tammy and Jinty in the first weeks of the merger.

Some months before the merger, there was a letter asking for Sandy back. The Editor replied that a new Sandy story was in hand and would be published in a few months, so stay tuned for an announcement. This meant the story was kept waiting for quite a while (wonder how many other stories were kept waiting for months before publication?). This is the third (and last) Sandy Rawlings story, and it takes the then revolutionary step of featuring boyfriends and boyfriend troubles. Sandy’s boyfriend troubles stem mainly from her father who not only still treats her like a little girl (all too common) but also chooses the boyfriends for her. To make matters worse, Dad’s choices of ‘suitable’ boyfriends for Sandy are determined by his snobby attitudes and his business connections rather than Sandy’s tastes. In this story, Dad becomes Education Officer of Birchborough, which means the family is on the move straight after Christmas. But will Sandy’s New Year be happy? Given how interfering her father can be when it comes to boyfriends, we wouldn’t bet on it.

I suspect “Little Sisters”, which also starts this issue, was originally written for Jinty as it gets an appearance in the 1984 Jinty annual. I am not quite sure why it is called “Little Sisters” as there is only one little sister, Samantha “Sam” Grey. Maybe it is meant to have us thinking “these kid sisters”. As you might have guessed, Sam’s age causes all sorts of scrapes for her older sister Carol. But there are other times when little sis is a blessing for Carol.

“Nanny Young” is the first story former Jinty artist Phil Gascoine draws for the merger. Tina Young is trying to find her first job as a nanny, but her looks (everyone thinks she looks too young to be a nanny) and even her surname (Young) are against her. How can she overcome this hurdle? Of course, this being a girls’ comics, Tina’s break comes in an unexpected and humorous manner, but when Tina sees her first family, she finds this is only the first hurdle to be overcome.

“Danger Dog” may have been originally written for Misty as it uses a Misty artist. It may have been inspired by “The Plague Dogs” or “Rats of NIMH”. Beth Harris rescues her dog Sammy from a scientific research station, but there is a fear that he may be contaminated with something from it.

“Monster Tales” is the most striking feature of the new lineup because it is so unconventional. It is a series of monster-themed stories, beginning with smugglers trying their hand at wrecking, only to encounter a sea monster that got washed up from the ship they wrecked. Afterwards they all disappear without a trace and everyone gets so frightened that they clear out of the area. I wonder if this was originally written for Misty or been inspired by her, as neither Tammy nor Jinty would run such a feature.

The stories that started in the first issue of the merger continue. Bella’s still having problems gaining points in the “Superkid” contest and the track-and-field events aren’t helping so far. Then Bella finds just what she needs – gym apparatus. After a practice on it, she surprises everyone by coming back looking a champion. Will this turn things around next week?

The jealous ghost of Sherry Brown shows she is capable of hurting even her own best friend when Katy Bishop foolishly begins to become friends with her too. Sherry’s action has put both girls in danger of drowning in the weir.

In Pam of Pond Hill, Pam’s class have been temporarily housed at St Dorrit’s while Pond Hill is closed because the foundations are under repair. But St Dorrit’s is such a super-snob school that even the caretaker looks down on them. Everyone, pupils and school staff alike, go out of their way to make it clear that Pond Hill is not welcome at St Dorrit’s. The poor Pond Hill pupils are forced to take their lessons in a substandard hut, which is leaking from bad weather in this week’s episode. After a visit from their unsympathetic headmaster, Pam tries to bridge the gap between the schools by encouraging her classmates to offer olive branches to the St Dorrit’s pupils. But she soon finds that this has opened the door to more of their bullying when they play a dirty trick with Di’s hair!