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?
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.
“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.
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.
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!
Writer: this Tammy story is credited to Jay Over, who also wrote Jinty‘s long-running school soap opera, “Pam of Pond Hill”. As we will see, there are also a few thematic similarities between this story and others in Jinty, raising intriguing questions about what else Jay Over may have written in this comic.
Plot: Alison Thorne is a talented dancer, but that’s not the main focus of her interest; she’s a very active girl who enjoys all sorts of things, such as art and socialising with her friends. Dancing is great fun – the first thing we hear from Alison is “Dancing makes me feel good from top to toe!” – but we also hear her think straight afterwards “I’ll have to get a move on if I’m to make it to the Youth Club on time!” In short, she’s a happy-go-lucky girl who isn’t driven by ambition or focused on talent. This isn’t a problem to her, or to her parents either, and it wouldn’t be an issue for most people. Her ballet teacher Miss Dempster, though, has ambitions on Alison’s behalf (and some ambitions for her own fame as a teacher too). Dempster takes her pupil along to creepy Miss Margolia, who promptly hypnotises Alison so that the ticking of a clock will make her think of dancing… and only of dancing… as immediately shown when some friends come round to Alison’s house the next morning and put a clock to her ear to wake her up.
Thereafter, any ticking clock will not only force Alison to dance, but also to lose awareness of her surroundings. That first time, her friends leave her dancing, because she pays no attention to them, and she doesn’t even realise they have been and gone. At the next dance class, Miss Dempster is annoyed and disappointed to see that Alison is still not giving her whole-hearted attention to the class, but then she doesn’t know yet what the real key to Alison’s slavery is – the ticking clock. Another player is about to join the story, though – a girl called Kathy, who has sadly been injured and cannot herself dance any more. Alison, fairly nobly to be honest, thinks to herself that she should be careful to take Kathy’s mind off dancing by focusing on other activities. Once again, a ticking clock – this time a wristwatch – makes Alison dance at an inopportune moment – this time, when Kathy arrives. Not surprisingly, all present think Alison is just showing off in front of Kathy, very cruelly.
Alison manages to smooth over the awkwardness and persuade Kathy that she will have fun staying at their house. I expect she would do, to, but at the same time, Miss Dempster is on the phone to Madame Margolia asking what can have gone wrong with the hypnotism – and as a result, installing a damn great cuckoo clock into her dance studio… Alison nearly doesn’t hear the clock at all as she is keenly getting involved with the local youth club show for which she has firmly ruled out dancing as an option, but she has to go around town putting up posters, and Miss Dempster gets her into the studio on that basis. And of course as soon as she hears the clock, off she goes again…
This sets the pattern for the upcoming plot: Kathy gets crosser and more upset because she thinks she is being messed around, Alison gets more upset because she is mysteriously blacking out and finding herself aching the next day as if she has danced for hours, and Miss Dempster is gleeful because she is getting her way. There is a temporary moment of guilt on the ballet teacher’s part when she feels bad about making Alison dance to her command, but as soon as the prospect of a rich new pupil arises, she gets Alison to perform once again (with a ticking clock around her neck). Not that this works out the way Dempster expects – Alison is put in positive danger by her dancing unaware of her surroundings (Kathy has to rescue her from possibly falling into a swimming pool) and of course Kathy and Alison are thus enabled to band together and realise what must be happening, unlikely though it seems. (I don’t think the rich pupil was very impressed by the relentless and absorbed dancing either! so probably no win for la Dempster on that front either.)
Alison’s parents don’t believe the wild story that the two girls bring to them, of course, but the two friends go off to find and confront Madame Margolia. But Dempster meets them outside the house, and tells them that Madame Margolia has been taken ill – and died! Will Alison never escape the curse of the ticking clock? Seemingly not – even if she is not dancing all the time, her parents are now resorting to taking her to hospital for mental treatment – and a sticking wheel on a hospital trolley triggers her off dancing again, so perhaps the curse is even getting stronger. However, it is in the hospital that they find Madame Margolia – seriously ill, but not dead (what a surprise to find that Miss Dempster lied – not!). Not that they can do anything to contact her, because Alison is whisked off to see the (very unsympathetic) doctor, who says that all this forced dancing is purely in her mind, because she is scared of failing her dance exams – and therefore her parents make her take more dance lessons, with – guess who? Miss Dempster of course. Alison pleads to do her exams with any other teacher rather than her tormentor, but her father replies: “Considering the cruel accusations you’ve made against her, I think Miss Dempster’s a fine person to take you back and help you.” So not only has she to face the cause of her problems, she even has to be grateful to that person?! That’s a nasty twist.
In fact the lessons go surprisingly well, though of course at first Alison is trembling like a leaf and hardly fit to dance. Miss Dempster is feeling guilty again and forebearing to use the power of the clock, and Alison gradually relaxes more and enjoys dance again. Temptation falls in Miss Dempster’s path once again though – can she get Alison into the International Ballet School, where it’s been her dream to have a pupil? By now we know how weak la Dempster’s will is, of course. And yes, the climax of the story is that although Alison had started to happily believe she was cured of the dancing fits, instead she is once again made to dance, for her teacher’s benefit not her own. This time the International Ballet School judges clearly reject Alison’s mechanical, hypnotic dancing, making it very clear just how misguided Miss Dempster’s actions are on all fronts – and a surprise guest appears in the form of a wheel-chair bound Madame Margolia. Alison is finally cured, though Margolia and Dempster require the two friends’ silence as their part of the bargain. There is a last reward for faithful sidekick Kathy though – the limp she has had since her injury is psychosomatic, so Margolia is able to cure her of it with one last application of (benign) hypnotism.
Thoughts: There are some silly aspects to this story – hypnotism is intrinsically an over-the-top trope, and this has the hypnotic subject nearly dancing to her death, which can strike the reader as absurd. On closer read, though, it is a pretty disturbing story, not to say chilling.
The main feature of it is perhaps that it is a ‘grownups know best’ story: protagonist Alison is quite happy as she is, and there is objectively nothing wrong with her, but a grown-up has other ideas of what’s best, and rides rough-shod over the girl protagonist’s clearly-expressed desires and aims. Miss Dempster thinks that it is a waste that Alison doesn’t use her dancing talent; in just the same way, Susie Cathcart’s grandmother thinks that Susie should be using her intellect rather than her gymnastic skill, and so makes her into the “Prisoner of the Bell“. Similarly, headmistress Purity Goodfellow uses her mystic drug to turn the schoolchildren of Edenford into a paradise along the lines that she deems best – even if the girls need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the infirmary where she will administer the drug. I could continue with more examples – for instance “Battle of the Wills” also has a determined grandmother who makes her granddaughter practice hated ballet rather than the gymnastics that she loves, though no mind-control is seen in that story. It is not the most frequent story theme in this comic, but you can see how it would strike a chord with the readers. It’s striking not only that the girl character expresses her desires clearly and unmistakably, but also that the grown-up simply dismisses them as foolish, worthless, clearly unacceptable – and other grown-ups are likely to be persuaded into this view too, even if they had started out on the side of the (actually perfectly nice and normal) protagonist.
Of course, the grown-up is pretty clearly shown not to have known best, in the end. As with Miss Dempster, their manipulations clearly fail on their own terms, and don’t produce the desired result even if they had seemed promising initially – free will does triumph over coercion, though it’s a long road in getting there. That’s pretty subversive to me, in a kids’ comic – it’s not just saying that grownups can get it wrong, but that they can positively be against you even when they’re not obviously evil. Dempster is very chilling – she is not as witchy-looking as Madame Margolia (a stately crone if ever I saw one), but she just doesn’t seem to care about Alison, except in flashes that are overcome all-too-easily. It’s a proper emotional abuse story, done quite strikingly. Dempster persuades herself that it’s for the right reasons, or that it will be worth it in the end, but not only does she ignore Alison’s stated wishes and aims, she disregards the pleas and the begging that the girl is driven to by the end. Lies and the use of her power for her own ends – Dempster does not look or act conventionally evil, never descending to cackling, but she is inhumanly self-absorbed nevertheless. Madame Margolia is far from innocent (quite apart from having applied the hypnotism in the first place, she also demands silence as her payment for taking it off, which is pretty much barefaced cheek on her part) but she can see the cost of the slavery much more clearly than her younger associate. If Dempster ever got the power to do hypnosis herself, I would be far more worried for the fictional world than with it staying in Margolia’s hands!
The Body Snatchers – final episode (artist Maria Barrera)
Country Churchyard – complete story (artist Mario Capaldi)
The Ghost Of Meggernie – text story
Friends – complete story
House of Horror – final episode (artist Isidro Mones)
Screaming Point! – final episode (artist J. Badia)
Crowning Glory – complete story (artist Mario Capaldi)
Miss T (artist Joe Collins)
Misty ends her run with #101, and there is “important news” (rather than the more usual “great news”) about her merge into Tammy next week. In the Misty message, Misty informs readers that she now has go back to the misty lands to fight dark forces. But so as not to deprive her readers of their spine-chilling stories, she is making arrangements with the Storyteller of next week’s Tammy to bring them, while at other times bringing them herself. She then refers readers to page eleven for the “important news”.
All of Misty’s serials end in this issue, so there are no unfinished Misty stories carrying on in the merger. But this is not the case with Tammy: for the first issue of the merger, “Sister in the Shadows” will be on its third episode, “Cindy of Swan Lake” and “Daughter of the Desert” somewhere around the middle, and “Make the Headlines, Hannah!” on the penultimate episode. Misty readers must have been a bit annoyed to start reading unfinished stories (though it was all too common with mergers). Since Hannah was near the end, couldn’t Tammy have doubled her up a bit so she would finish before the merger issue, and perhaps hold off “Sister in the Shadows” for a couple of weeks to allow for it?
It says something that Misty has no “Beasts” or “Nightmare” story in this issue, though the “Friends” story would qualify as a “Beasts” story as it features a dog. Still, it is appropriate that Misty finishes on one of her comeuppance stories, entitled “Crowning Glory”. Rona’s act of jealousy (drugging her cousin Catherine in order to cut off her golden hair until she is nearly bald) has consequences that Rona did not intend – a fall downstairs that kills Catherine. Manslaughter? Now that is something Misty will definitely not allow Rona to get away with, even though Rona is now stricken with guilt. The last two panels of Misty are dedicated to the crowning glory of Rona’s comeuppance:
The Cult of the Cat – first episode (artist H. Romeu)
The Sentinels – first episode (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Malcolm Shaw)
Paint It Black – first episode (artist Brian Delany, writer Alan Davidson)
Moodstone – complete story – (artist Ken Houghton)
Roots (“Nightmare!” story) – (artist Maria Barrera, writer Pat Mills)
Moonchild – first episode (artist John Armstrong, writer Pat Mills)
Miss T – (artist Joe Collins)
Red Knee – White Terror! (“Beasts” story) – (artist John Richardson, writer Pat Mills)
In previous posts we have covered the first Jinty and last Jinty, and the first Tammy and last Tammy. Now we cover the third of the trio – the first Misty and the last Misty. We begin with the first Misty.
Pat Mills conceived Misty as the girls’ answer to 2000AD. Like Tammy, it would be intended to be revolutionary and go against the grain of ballet, pony and school stories. But Misty would do it with spooky stories and horror that were meant to frighten readers, yet fascinate them at the same time. Misty followed hard on the heels of the demise of Spellbound, a kindred comic in DCT that was a similar brave experiment, but had only lasted 69 issues.
Although Misty was meant to kick ass with her spooky stories, there were still instances of editorial interference in some of the storytelling to tone things down and “not to scare the readers too much”. Two instances occurred in the first issue alone. In “Roots”, if Pat had had had his way, the story would have ended on the panel above. But the editor included another panel to dilute the shock, which Mills deletes from the reproduction of “Roots” in his discussion of Misty. In “Red Knee – White Terror!”, also written by Mills, the climactic attack of the spider on the girl in the bath is similarly amended to become a practical joke from her brother (below). But she still isn’t safe from the alert about a poisonous spider that has crept into the country in an import of bananas, some of which she bought earlier…
Misty would go for several complete stories in each issue, some labelled “Nightmare!” and others “Beasts” (featuring an animal of some sort, ranging from spiders to dogs) to break up the comic a bit. They often featured unpleasant girls who came to a sticky end of some sort. The first of these is “Moodstone”, about a bad-tempered girl. “Moodstone” also showed readers that from the first, Misty would feature some full-colour pages in each issue, which is something neither Tammy nor Jinty ever did.
I remember the cover of the first issue being advertised on television. I had never seen that before – or since – and for this reason that cover has stuck in my mind. As Misty goes, the cover is unusual because it was drawn specifically for cover purposes. It does not feature Misty (not even as a small head beside the logo) and has no bearing on the contents inside. Future covers would go for showing Misty herself or a full-blown cover version of a panel inside the comic. We do not meet Misty herself until we come to the inside page, where she delivers her first message to her readers.
The first story starts Misty off in style with the rendering of the Egyptian Temple. Sumptuous is the word for it. The moment you see that page, you just want to read “The Cult of the Cat”. This is the only story in Misty to spawn a sequel (not counting the sequel to “The Black Widow” that appeared in the merger later). It also inspires the free gift that will come in the next issue – a cat ring just like the one the protagonist in this story wakes up to find on her finger all of a sudden.
The splash panel that introduces us to “The Sentinels” (a pair of apartment blocks, one normal and one avoided because of strange disappearances) is no less impressive. Mr Richards defies both the reputation of the Sentinel – “it’s just superstitious nonsense, all that talk about the Sentinels” and warnings from his daughter and other relatives – and takes his family to squat there because they are homeless. Now why do we get the feeling that whatever’s going on with the Sentinel, it’s Mr Richards who is going to cop the worst of it?
The writers of Misty would draw heavily from popular books and movies. They start off with the Carrie-inspired serial, “Moonchild”, which proved hugely popular with readers. Rosemary Black is beaten and abused by her mother, who calls her “evil” and “wicked” for no apparent reason. But the mother is very eccentric in any case; she isn’t a religious fanatic like her counterpart in Carrie, but she does not allow electricity in her house, and wears a cloak when she goes out that makes her look like a witch, as does that frightening look on her face. At school, Rosemary is bullied by Norma Sykes, but unlike Carrie, Rosemary does have a friend as well. Then, when Rosemary discovers a strange moon mark on her forehead, things begin to happen that may have some bearing on her mother’s bizarre attitude and teach Norma a lesson to boot…
In “Paint It Black”, Maggie has never been good for anything much, much less being good at art. But then she finds a box of paints in a derelict house and suddenly finds herself able to paint a picture of a mysterious girl. The picture frightens Maggie for some reason – and the girl has a pretty frightened expression on her face, too. Now what can be the reason for that?
Although Misty was a horror comic, she did not leave out the humour, mainly in the form of a Joe Collins cartoon character, Miss T. Miss T would attract huge controversy on the letters page, with readers divided over whether she was a ridiculous feature in a horror comic that should be removed, or if she was needed to help balance the comic. One reader even proposed a Miss T fan club “S.O.W.” (Save Our Witch) to help keep her in the comic. We have no information on what became of S.O.W., but Miss T would not only remain but would also carry over into the merge with Tammy, where she became a companion to Edie. During the Tammy & Jinty merger they would join forces with Snoopa to become “The Crayzees”.
Saving Grace – first episode (artist Juliana Buch, writer Ian Mennell)
Moonlight Prowler – complete story (artist John Richardson – uncredited)
Pam of Pond Hill – new story (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey – uncredited)
A Gran for the Gregorys – first episode (writer Alison Christie, artist Phil Townsend)
Come Back Bindi – first episode (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Jenny McDade)
Bella – new story (artist John Armstrong, writer Malcolm Shaw)
Nanny Young – new story (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
Slave of the Clock – first episode (artist Maria Barrera but credited as Barrera Gesali, writer Jay Over)
The Schoolgirls’ Beauty Book – Feature
The recent entry on Jay Over was one inspiration for this entry on the Tammy issue where she starts printing credits. We owe so much to these credits, without which a lot of artists would still be unknown, including Guy Peeters and Hugh Thornton-Jones.
It looks like Tammy had a few things to iron out with the credits, because there is no credit for Bob Harvey in Pam of Pond Hill and the complete story, “Midnight Prowler”, goes completely uncredited. The credits also mark the swansong of long-standing Tammy writer Jenny McDade, who started in 1972 with “Star-Struck Sister” and wrote the first Bella story. Here McDade is credited with writing “Come Back Bindi”, but she is not credited with any other Tammy story after that.
The issue makes a completely clean break from the one before it, which was the last issue in the Tammy & Jinty merger. Instead of the merging comic just gradually fading away except for her strongest features and her logo being reduced in size before it is dropped altogether, the whole merger is dropped altogether. Gone is the Jinty logo, and there is a completely new logo for Tammy. Gone are the Monster Tales and Old Friends (which ran Molly Mills, Bessie Bunter, Wee Sue and Tansy of Jubilee Street in rotation). Even the Storyteller, who had been a long-established part of the Tammy line-up since June merged in 1974, is gone as well. Only Bella, Nanny Young, The Crayzees and Pam of Pond Hill remain. The cover itself is an artist’s rendition of an actual photograph of two readers (shown on the inside cover) who were asked to read the issue and provide feedback. “They loved it”, and they must have treasured the issue thereafter.
The old Tammy and Jinty merger clearly had been gearing up for the new look in the preceding weeks. Several stories ended in the previous issue, including the reprint of “The Human Zoo”. The reprint also cut out an episode or two from the original because of the upcoming new Tammy.
We do have to wonder what drove Tammy to undergo such a radical makeover when she was right in the middle of a merger. Was it new editorship bringing in sweeping changes, or did the editor decide on drastic action to bolster sales?
Pam and Bella have whole new adventures. Pam discovers the teachers’ frustration at the playing field being inadequate and then the land next door that the neighbour, Sir Hartley Barnett could spare. But we get the feeling that acquiring the extension won’t be as easy as that.
Meanwhile, Bella is having a mental breakdown and it is showing in her latest gymnastics performance that is so disastrous that she loses her nerve. And then she loses her memory as well after being hit by a hit-and-run driver.
Nanny Young’s new job takes her to the Glendale Children’s Holiday Home – but soon finds it is not a holiday camp with the welfare officer, Agatha Primm, running the place like an army camp! The children aren’t happy about it either, and Peter Hopkins is always out to pull a prank over it.
There must have been some scripts left over from “Monster Tales”, because the new-look Tammy continued to run complete stories with a monster theme for a while. The first is “Moonlight Prowler” and the monster is vampire-wolf, who plunders the villagers’ livestock. At least that is what Mr Wyss has the villagers believe while he makes a fortune out of them by claiming to hunt the monster. The monster is really his stepdaughter, whom he forces to wear a wolf costume for him to chase around after and secretly steal the livestock. But the fraud backfires when the real vampire-wolf shows up! It’s even implied that the fake vampire-wolf and the real one are one and the same.
The first serial to start is a mystery story, “Saving Grace”. Sue Blackstone is delighted to catch up with her old friend Grace Clark in a new school after four years apart. But then Sue discovers her friend has changed for the worse over those four years, and the mystery Sue sets out to unravel is what caused the change and whether anything can be done about it.
The second serial, “A Gran for the Gregorys”, reunites Jinty’s Alison Christie/Phil Townsend team for another tear-jerker story. The Gregory children have lost their beloved gran, and her loss is telling on the management of the household after Dad goes abroad to work. Then Ruth finds out about adopting grans and sets out to adopt one for the family. But of course the quest won’t be straightforward and there are going to be a lot of candidates who will disappoint.
The third serial, “Come Back Bindi”, was Jenny McDade’s swansong in Tammy. Bindi was a short-lived serial when it had potential to be spun out longer. Perhaps it was not all that popular or was meant to be a filler story. Bindi the dog has run away because she wrongly blames herself for her owner’s accident. However, Bindi is essential to the girl’s recovery, so finding her is urgent. But it is not easy, because Bindi has lost her collar.
The last serial is one of Tammy’s best-remembered stories, “Slave of the Clock”. Alison Thorne is a talented ballerina but doesn’t have the dedication to take her talent further. But then Alison meets a fanatical ballet mistress whose idea of making pupils more dedicated to ballet is “the power of the clock” – hypnotise them into dancing whenever they hear the ticking of a clock. Of course this can only lead to trouble.
Jay Over is one of the few Jinty writers we know the name of; this is really down to the fact that Tammy started printing artist and writer credits in its pages at a time overlapping with the long-running “Pam of Pond Hill“. Thanks to those credits, we also know that Over wrote at least three serials in Tammy: “Lonely Ballerina”, “The Secret of Angel Smith”, and “The Slave of the Clock”.
Stories credited to Jay Over:
Pam of Pond Hill (1979 – 81 in Jinty, continued in Tammy until 1984)
Slave of the Clock (Tammy, 1982; artist Maria Barrera)
The Secret of Angel Smith (Tammy, 1983; artist Juliana Buch)
The Lonely Ballerina (Tammy, 1983; artist Maria Barrera)
“Pam of Pond Hill” was one of the longest strips that ran in Jinty, though not to be compared with Tammy‘s regular character Bella Barlow, still one of the most well-known characters in girls’ comics. We know that Bella was written by more than one person – credited authors include Primrose Cumming, Jenny McDade, and Malcolm Shaw – but all the credits we have for “Pam” indicate that this story seems to have been written by Jay Over throughout all that time.
Mistyfan writes at length about how well the character and voice of Pam comes across in her serial: the dialogue is vivid and the stories are realistic. Re-reading a number of the stories, I also was struck by how much variety is packed into the short story arcs that this serial is made up of, and how humane the stories are. Tess Bradshaw is the class fat girl but she is given a backstory that is considerably more nuanced than something just relating to her size or appetite. Indeed, in one of the Tammy stories Tess is given the chance to shine while still keeping to her old self rather than slimming down or similar: a frustrated ballerina, she becomes a genuinely triumphal synchronized swimming star. Likewise, Pam’s boyfriend Goofy, who is a funny-looking clumsy kid as you’d expect from his nickname, has real musical talents and a kind heart which he allows to be shown, at least sometimes. Of course sometimes Pam is unrealistically able to pull a solution out of the bag in the way a real 11 year old would find it hard to do, but hey, she’s the heroine of her own story – and even then she’s not always a winner.
If not for those printed credits, I think not many people would make a connection between the soap-opera comedy of “Pam” and the angsty mystery of “Slave of the Clock”. The three serials that Jay Over is credited with in Tammy are focused on mystery and on the athletic arts of ballet and trapeze. The only one of those three stories that I have read fully is “Slave of the Clock”; Mistyfan’s entry on 1979 Jinty story “Prisoner of the Bell” briefly summarizes the plot of the later Tammy story and draws parallels between the two. Could they both have been written by Over? Certainly we know that writers for a comic often wrote more than one for the same title, and multiple stories at the same time. Over could easily have started a career in girls’ comics writing rather earlier than the 1979 “Pond Hill” debut. If only there was a way to analyse the story writing itself rather than relying on very incomplete records and memories that are hard to elicit…
Maria Barrera, full name María Barrera i Castells, is a Catalan artist. She was a member of a group of female artists who drew romantic comic series for 1950s Spanish girls’ comics. Publications included Sissi, Jana and Pulgarcito. She also illustrated several books in the collections Historias (“Genoveva de Bravante”, “Alicia en el País de las Maravillas”, “Sissi emperatriz”, “Aquellas Mujercitas”) and Joyas Literarias Juveniles (“Hombrecitos”, 1975). During the 1970s-1990s Barrera became involved in agency art through the Bruguera agency Creaciones Editoriales. Publications in which her artwork appeared included Tammy, Jinty, Misty and the Dutch Tina. Source:Lambiek Comiclopedia.
Barrera only drew two Gypsy Rose stories for Jinty, “The Gemini Girl” and “Hide-and-Seek with a Ghost!”. She never drew a serial for Jinty. However, the Gemini Girl story is noteworthy in that the last two images of Gypsy Rose on the last page of the story appeared again and again as paste-ups on a lot of the old Strange Stories that were recycled as Gypsy Roses.
Barrera was a more frequent artist in Misty, where she drew many of Misty’s complete stories such as “Cry Baby” and “Danse Macabre”, and one serial “The Body Snatchers”. She did not start in Tammy until the first issue of the Tammy & Jinty merger, with “The Shadow of Sherry Brown”. This one was about a jealous, spiteful ghost that will go to just about any lengths (including near murder) to protect what used to belong to her when she was alive. Barrera did have a flair for supernatural stories, and could also draw ballet stories.
When Tammy started credits, Barrera was credited as Barrera Gesali for some reason. Her best known story during this period was “Slave of the Clock”, about an unenthusiastic ballerina who is hypnotised into ballet dancing whenever she hears the ticking of a clock. Other stories included “Lonely Ballerina” and “Dear Diary – I Hate You!” The latter was her last Tammy story and was uncredited because Tammy had stopped running them.
Edited to add: there is a thread on the Comics UK Forum where Ruth B attributes the following stories to Maria Barrera.
Num.1 Cover and Nightmare story 10. The Love and the Laughter 35. The Bitter Tale of Sweet Lucy 42. Voices in the Wind 47. Who’s a Pretty Boy Then? 52. Danse Macabre 57. Lead Kindly Light 59. Two Left Feet 61. The White Bird 64. At the End of the Rainbow 68. Cry Baby! 73. The Nightwatchman 77. The Monster of the Lavender Lagoon 84. Nightmare, Nightmare, Nightmare 92. Cover/The Body Snatchers
and then from number 93 to 101 the story of the Body Snatcher continues and she did the cover of number 97 as well.
Hide and seek with a ghost? Now how on earth can you do that? It would not be surprising if readers open the issue immediately to find out. And the story is on the first page, so they would be able to read it immediately.
In the other story profiled on the cover, Emma has finally had enough of all the persecution from the villagers who brand her a witch and an outcast. Her efforts to prove herself have got nowhere and now she going to strike back by becoming what they always say she is. Well, they asked for it. But where is it going to end?
The Mystery of Martine is now on its penultimate episode. Tessa has run out of moves to help Martine, and whatever is possessing Martine is now taking her to its ultimate conclusion – burning down the house she failed to get back from the woman she harassed. Something has to happen fast!
The cover says the issue is meant to be the Valentine’s Day issue. Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag does the honours with a sniffy teacher who confiscates “trashy Valentine cards”. Henrietta soon gets to work on her, of course. But where it ends up surprises even Henrietta, and it all ends happily and appropriately for Valentine’s Day.
In “Made-Up Mandy”, Mandy turns Balinese dancer to help a friend. It turns out that she is no Balinese dancer, but she wins plaudits for thinking on her feet. Her next disguise swings the pendulum to the other extreme – a “stiff and starchy governess”.