Tag Archives: Mario Capaldi

Guest post: John Richardson

Comics UK Forum poster Goof has kindly contributed the following appreciation of artist John Richardson, along with a detailed comics bibliography. Many thanks indeed, Goof!

John Richardson, who died earlier this year, was not a Jinty artist. He drew no serial stories for Jinty – in fact, he did few full serials of any kind – and is represented only by a few reprints. Yet for other girls’ comics, especially Tammy and Misty, he produced a body of brilliant and original work across a wide range of stories from the darkest horror to the craziest knockabout comedy.

Like nearly all artists who worked for girls’ comics, he was largely anonymous to his many readers, and information about his life isn’t easy to find. Born in 1943 in the North Yorkshire mining town of Eston, he started working as a commercial artist after studying at Art College. Before this, he once assured an interviewer, he had tried his hand at farm work and professional wrestling.

His earliest work includes what seems to have been his first foray into girls’ comics, the 1964 Bunty serial “Phantom of the Fells”. During the 1970’s, he worked on several IPC girls’ comics such as June and Princess Tina, and did a serial and some smaller items for D C Thomson’s Mandy. He also did a couple of series for Cheeky Weekly comic, and the cartoon strip “Amanda” for the Sun newspaper.

Around this time he also began his long run of work for Tammy, which over the years made a significant contribution to the character of the comic, especially his series of “Cover Girl” covers which did so much to define to look of the comic between 1973 and 1980, and his period as the main artist for the “Wee Sue” series. He continued to produce stories and covers for Tammy until the end of 1983.

He contributed short complete stories to Misty throughout its two year run, as well as the serial “End of the Line“, and took full advantage of the extra space which Misty offered to artists to create some of his most spectacular work.

During the 1980’s, he drew for 2000AD, especially “The Mean Arena”, a science fiction serial that he also wrote, and contributed to the serials “Ro-Jaws’ Robo Tales” and “The V.C.s”. He also drew two serials and a short story for Scream! He drew and wrote the cartoon strip “Flatmates” for the Sunday People newspaper, and strips for specialist car and bike magazines. Most memorably perhaps out of his cartoon work, he created the Goonish comedy science fiction strip “Jetman” for a computer magazine called Crash.

Unlike a number of artists who worked on IPC’s girls’ comics, it seems that he didn’t move over to D C Thomson after the last IPC picture story girls’ comics ceased publication in the mid-1980s, although he did produce two Judy Picture Story Libraries in 1983 and 1984. I have not been able to find any further girls’ comic work after the demise of Tammy, and it looks as if he may have stopped working for comics altogether around this time. The latest comics work that I have been able to trace was in two issues of the Enid Blyton’s Adventure Magazine, published in July and December 1986.

It’s not clear why he did comparatively few full serials during his 20 years drawing for comics. I have seen it suggested that he had no great liking for drawing stories written by other people, and this may have discouraged him from working on long serials, where the artist would normally work more or less under instructions from the writer. It may be no accident that some of his best and most inventive comedy is in the Tammy series of Cover Girl covers, where he was free to interpret the joke in his own way because the jokes were purely visual. Many brilliant examples of this series are illustrated in Mistyfan’s History of Tammy Covers on this website.

He had the kind of style which once seen, was instantly recognisable, and yet this didn’t seem to limit his ability to adapt to almost any kind of story. He once said in interview that his work as a last-minute substitute for other artists had helped him to “learn from other people and gradually evolve something unique”. It’s an interesting thought that imitating the styles of other people can help you develop an original style of your own, but certainly his frequent work as a filler artist didn’t stop him developing a highly individual and spontaneous style, with a good feel for human anatomy and convincingly realistic facial expression.

Although he could turn his hand to almost any type of story, his best work in girls’ comic stories was in horror and farcical comedy. He had a tremendous flair for the grotesque, and he was able to turn this to account equally in horror and comedy. There’s nothing unusual about extravagantly hideous creatures in horror tales, but John Richardson’s had an exuberance which was all his own, like this example from “The Uglies” (Misty 14 April 1978):

John Richardson artwork from Misty

He could handle bizarre comedy with the same panache, even when the subject was something as humdrum as a parking meter (“Stella Starr – Policewoman from Outer Space” from Mandy Annual 1975):
John Richardson artwork from Mandy

But the impact of his work didn’t depend solely on his command of the grotesque and fantastic. He could convey the same chill in a horror story by the power of suggestion, through his flair for facial expression, and ability to compose a powerful page layout. From “Black Sunday” (Misty Summer Special 1978) and “Old Ethna’s House” (Misty Holiday Special 1979):

John Richardson artwork from MistyBlack Sunday

John Richardson artwork from MistyOld Ethna

He was also able to draw on his cartooning experience to enliven slapstick comedy stories, as in the Judy Picture Story Library “Dora’s Dragon”, where a dragon costume brought to life by a witch becomes a boisterous mini-Godzilla enthusiastically devouring anything that moves:

John Richardson artwork from Judy PSLDora’s Dragon

Although his style was so distinctive, he was well able to adapt it when taking over an established series from another artist. The Tammy series “Wee Sue” is an interesting example of this. He succeeded to the original Tammy series artist Mario Capaldi in the issue of 14 September 1974, but unusually, he did so in mid-episode. Here are the first two pages of the episode:

Mario Capaldi/John Richardson artwork from Tammy

John Richardson artwork from Tammy
Page one is clearly in Capaldi’s style, and I would say that the end of page two is clearly by
Richardson, although he has toned down the normal character of his work to harmonise with Capaldi’s. But at what point did he take over? I personally think that Capaldi drew the first three panels of the second page, and Richardson did the rest. The point is debatable, but it certainly shows how well Richardson was able to adapt his style to conform to the very different style of another artist. By way of contrast, here’s a later episode where he has remodelled Sue’s enemy Miss Bigger from the severe and tight-lipped martinet created by Capaldi into a crazed hobgoblin in his own distinctive style (issue of 26 February 1977):

John Richardson artwork from Tammy

I strongly feel that this art should be known and celebrated far more than it is, but as so often with girls’ comics, the first stumbling-block to recognition is simply a lack of reliable information about what work the artist did. Contributors to the Comics UK Forum have compiled a list of the work he is known to have done for girls’ comics, and this will be posted next. Inevitably, it’s not complete, and we would be grateful to hear from anybody who can offer further additions, or spot any mistakes. If you can give us any help with this, please let us know.

Tammy 21 January 1984

Tammy cover 21 January 1984

Cover artist: John Armstrong

  • Foul Play (artist John Armstrong, writer Ian Mennell)
  • Julie’s Jinx (artist Julian Vivas, writer Nick Allen)
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Crayzees (artist Joe Collins)
  • First Term at Trebizon (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Anne Digby)
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Alison Christie, sub-writer Linda Stephenson)
  • Fashion Flashback – feature (Ray Mutimer)
  • My Terrible Twin (artist Juliana Buch)
  • Fun Time – feature
  • Swansea Jack (artist Douglas Perry, writer Linda Stephenson)
  • Queen Rider (artist Eduardo Feito, writer A. D. Langholm aka Alan Davidson)
  • Warm as Toast! Feature (Mari L’Anson)

The issue for 21 January 1984 has been chosen for 1984 in the conclusion to Tammy round robin.

Foul Play is unusual for being a non-Bella story drawn by John Armstrong. Katie Johnson received a serious hand injury during a hockey match. Her friends and family are convinced one of her own team mates deliberately caused it because they had always resented her. Katie doesn’t believe a word of it, but now someone is doing nasty things against the team. This week one gets her room vandalised and another gets her heart broken over a hoax call that her father was going to visit. Katie takes on the job of unravelling the mystery, and it must begin with the heartbreaking task of investigating her own friends and family as suspects.

My Terrible Twin is being reprinted by popular demand. The episode this week has already been discussed here, so we will move on.

In Pam of Pond Hill, a flu strain is causing chaos in town. It only seems to target the adults, which is giving the kids a bit of a free rein at home and school. But it’s not all fun for Pam. Cherry Laurence, the big-headed bully bossyboots who was unwisely appointed as a prefect, has now been put in charge of her form!

Tammy had always been running TV and book adaptations but now she is running two at once: The First Term at Trebizon and Queen Rider. Both the authors are former writers for IPC girls’ titles.

This week’s Button Box tale is a rags-to-riches story that centres on the Mexican art of dressing fleas. Swansea Jack, probably the last story Douglas Perry drew for Tammy, gives us the story of Swansea Jack, the dog who gave his name to a tavern by saving the lives of children at the docks of Swansea.

Julie Lee (who keeps her Romany background secret) gives her friend Gloria a Romany charm, but her horse has been acting strangely ever since. A nasty girl is spreading a rumour it is a bad luck charm. Julie is trying to find a way to deal with the problem quietly while not knowing what to make of it herself. Is the gift really “Julie’s Jinx”?

Tammy 23 April 1983

ITammy cover 23 April 1983

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)
  • Different Strokes – first episode (artist Santiago Hernandez, writer Charles Herring)
  • Nanny Young (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Tom Newland)
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Alison Christie)
  • This is Your Road to Fame! – Quiz (artist John Johnston, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Menace from the Moor – complete story (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Fame at Last! (artist Tony Coleman, writer Marianne Nichols)
  • The Secret of Angel Smith (artist Juliana Buch, writer Jay Over)
  • Make Your Own Container Gardens – feature (Chris Lloyd)

 

April 23 1983 has been selected for 1983 in Tammy round robin. Fame is big in this issue because of the Fame gifts attached. Tammy accompanies the Fame theme with a “Fame” quiz and the complete story “Fame at Last!” Kirsty Brown’s school is having a talent contest but she does not think she is talented at anything. But helping the other contestants gets her a special prize and they tell her she has a gift after all – for starmaking. Maybe Kirsty will become an acting agent when she leaves school?

The issue reprints “Menace from the Moor”, a recycled Strange Story. At this stage in Tammy’s run we get recycled Strange Stories where boring text boxes and drawn-in panels replace the Storyteller and his dialogue.

In new story “Different Strokes”, when teacher hears new girls Jacintha and Samantha Carwen are twins she is dismayed, as that usually means trouble. It does, but not in the way she thinks. The twins are as different as chalk and cheese. The only thing they share is an intense sibling rivalry, and they squabble and bicker all the time. Next door neighbour, Tracy Maine, who befriends the twins, is caught in the middle, and she soon suspects there is a mystery attached to the twins’ rivalry as well.

Bella keeps her savings in her suitcase instead of banking them, saying she does not understand “cheques and things” (insufficient education), despite warnings it is not wise to keep her savings like that. But at the end of the episode she pays the price when a burglar breaks in and her savings are stolen. Well, you were warned, Bella.

Goofy has been having enormous difficulty in shooting a film of Pond Hill for a competition. But now he is well out of it when the school bully vandalises his camera.

Nanny Young has been having problems with a young girl, Barbara, who is jealous of her new baby brother. But in this episode she hits on the solution: get Barbara to take an interest in the baby by allowing her to help with minding him.

In this week’s Button Box tale, Lily hates wearing button boots. Then she encounters a crippled girl who changes her mind about them; she realises she is lucky to be able to wear them because she can walk.

“The Secret of Angel Smith” was Tammy’s last circus story. Abby Fox has always resented Angel Smith, the girl who pushed her way into her father’s trapeze act while Dad won’t allow Abby in it because he does not want to lose Abby the way he lost his wife. Abby has ended up in hospital because of it all, but ironically it is Angel who talks Abby into getting fit again, saying she is going to find a way to help her into the act. When Abby gets back to the circus, she discovers this means taking advantage of Dad being absent on an international tour.

Tammy & Misty 26 January 1980

Tammy cover 26 January 1980

Cover artist: John Richardson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Tammy 20 January 1979

Tammy cover 20 January 1979

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Mouse (artist Maria Dembilio)
  • One Girl and Her Dog… (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • My Terrible Twin (artist Juliana Buch)
  • Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)
  • Thursday’s Child (artist Juan Solé, writer Pat Mills) – first episode
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and the Haunted Hall (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Menace from the Moor – Strange Story (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • The Moon Stallion – television adaptation (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • The Upper Crust (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)

 

Time for the 1979 issue in our Tammy round robin, and the issue chosen is 20 January 1979. It is three weeks into (at the time) the New Year, so naturally Tammy’s January issues are focused on new stories and clearing out old ones to make way for more new ones. The New Year also continues Tammy’s adaptation of the TV serial “The Moon Stallion”.

Bella is not part of the new lineup for the New Year though. When her story does start we learn that she’s been sailing home to Britain all the while.

We sense “The Upper Crust” is heading for its conclusion. Snobbish Mavis Blunt, of a snobbish neighbourhood, has had her nose put out of joint ever since the Carrington-Crusts moved in. She also suspects they are not all they appear to be. Now Mavis and her father suspect the Carrington-Crusts are criminals and set a trap for them, which appears to prove their suspicions. Or does it? We find out, in what we suspect is the final episode, next week.

“One Girl and Her Dog” looks like it is on its penultimate episode too. Kim Robinson and her dog Rumpus have finally caught up with Harry Whelkes, the man who has been hired to stop them claiming their inheritance in London. As a matter of fact, it’s brought the force of an entire circus down on Harry!

The circus also features in Wee Sue. Sue wants to go to the circus, but having no money, tries odd jobs there. The trouble is, two scheming girls from school have the same idea and are making sure she doesn’t get anything. They almost succeed, but the clowns decide Sue’s size will make her ideal for their act, and Sue gets the last laugh on those schemers.

“Thursday’s Child”, written by Pat Mills, starts today. It went on to become one of Tammy’s most popular stories and best-remembered classics. Life has always been good to Thursday Brown – but the splash panel on the first page tells us that will only be until she meets “the stranger” and her tears begin. And who might this stranger be? It’s the girl who mysteriously shows up in Thursday’s bed the night she starts using the family Union Jack as her bedspread. Looks like Thursday should have paid more attention to her mother’s misgivings about using the flag that way. Not to mention the strange red stuff that comes out when the flag is washed – it feels like blood. Is this a clue as to the reason why Mum was so unnerved?

“Mouse” and “My Terrible Twin”, the first Tammy stories to start in the New Year, take dramatic plot developments. Mary “Mouse” Malloway learns the reason for her strange, stranger-wary upbringing is her mother’s fears she will become the victim of an international child abduction at the hands of her estranged Sicilian father (the marriage soured because of the tyrannical mother-in-law). In the same episode, Mum’s fears come true. The father succeeds in catching up to Mary, abducts her, and is dragging her off to Sicily.

“My Terrible Twin” (Lindy) is on parole from a remand home after a shoplifting conviction and getting into a bad crowd. Her fraternal twin Moira is desperate to help her reform, which the remand home didn’t have much success in doing. However, Lindy gets off to a bad start in stealing lipsticks from the store Moira sets her up in. In this episode Lindy quietly returns them, settles into her job, and things seem to be going better. But there are clear bumps: Lindy has little sense of responsibility, and she is vain, conceited, which makes an enemy out of another employee, Helen. But that’s nothing compared to the real problem Lindy is now facing – her old crowd turn up and make trouble! Incidentally, My Terrible Twin was so popular she spawned a sequel, and her first story was reprinted by popular demand in 1984.

In the Strange Story, “Menace from the Moor”, Dad is trying to start a market garden business, but a horse from the moor keeps turning up and trampling all over his plants. It does not take long to realise there is something strange about the horse. It is getting in despite fencing, seems to just vanish, only appears on moonlit nights, and has a missing shoe. Could there be a link to the horseshoe in the house? Which, by the way, is hanging the wrong way up – the bad luck position.

Molly’s new story is “the Haunted Hall”, but it’s not really haunted. Molly is trying to hide her kid brother Billy in the hall while the family see to a sick relative. But Molly will lose her job if she is found out. Naturally, Billy’s high spirits make it hard to conceal him. His antics, plus ghost stories, are getting Pickering wound up about the hall being haunted. Pickering always did have a track history for being haunted, whether the ghost is real or fake.

Don’t talk to Bessie Bunter about birds this week! Mary Moldsworth tries to encourage Bessie to share her food with birds. But all poor Bessie gets out of it is bird bother and unfair lines.

Tammy 10 September 1977

Tammy cover 10 September 1977

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tammy 14 August 1976

Tammy cover 14 August 1976

Cover artist: John Richardson

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2019-08-15 at 12.54.35 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tammy & June 14 June 1975

Tammy cover 14 June 1975

Cover artist: John Richardson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Tammy & Sandie 8 June 1974

Tammy & Sandie 8 June 1974

Artist: John Richardson

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Tammy & Sandie 10 November 1973

Tammy cover 10 November 1973

Cover artist: John Richardson

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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