Linda’s Fox (artist and writer Ron Tiner) – final episode
Are You Set for Summer? (artist John Johnston, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – quiz
The Look of Things (artist Jaume Rumeu) – Strange Story from the Mists
Tune-in (pop and TV gossip feature)
Bessie Bunter (artist Arthur Martin)
No Love for Lindy (artist Eduardo Feito) – first episode
Stella Stirrer (artist Tony Coleman)
For the first Tammy issue for August 1981, Bella takes over the cover spot after Sandy finished last week. Oh dear, no sooner is Bella back on the cover when she’s really put her foot in it by thinking circus tricks (learned from the circus she is staying at) would impress the judges at a gymnastics competition. Now she realises it was one of her worst mistakes, never, ever to be repeated. It not only makes her lose badly but also causes terrible trouble when the audience reacts angrily to the marking. Still, anyone who’s read Bella for long enough will know that when a competition goes badly for her, it means she’s about to undergo a new course in plot direction. Sure enough, somebody comes to the circus wanting to speak to her. Whether for good or bad, it’s definitely the upcoming plot change.
Bessie’s appearances have grown more intermittent since the Misty merger, but she appears this week. Stackers has the pupils making calendars for a sale of work, but soon finds out Bessie is about as good at making calendars as she is at classwork.
Tammy’s August issues always had a focus on getting us primed for summer and holidays. Sure enough, her first August issue for 1981 has a summer quiz. The Strange Story from the Mists has a holiday theme, with the Carstairs family on holiday in Malaysia. Unfortunately, daughter Geraldine is spoiling things with her rudeness towards anything or anyone she does not consider attractive. She even throws a stone at a tortoise, calling it “such an ugly-looking brute”. Geraldine’s parents don’t look like they are doing much to crack down on her conduct, but punishment comes, of course. Geraldine is cursed to see nothing but the face of a mysterious old lady she didn’t find attractive. The curse lifts by the time Geraldine returns home, but it would surely have been otherwise if the story had appeared in the original Misty. August is also time for shopping. Wee Sue goes Christmas shopping in August while she has the money, but eventually she uses her Christmas shopping to help some hard-up kids who want to celebrate a birthday, and they hold an August Christmas birthday party. Now, that’s the Christmas spirit! And Tammy is offering holiday coupons.
The new story, “No Love for Lindy”, looks like it could be following similar lines to Sandy Rawlings; perhaps it is the same writer. As with Sandy, the protagonist (Lindy Allen) tells her own story and there’s a boyfriend figure. He’s the only thing making staying at the Westons (who turned out to be no better than the countless failed foster families Lindy’s had already) worthwhile.
“Linda’s Fox”, written and drawn by Ron Tiner, finishes this week. It sounds like writing a girls’ story was a new experience for Tiner, but he did very well on it, and it must have been a popular story. It was one of my favourites, anyway. The ending is well crafted and thought out in how it handles the clearing of Linda’s father, what happens once he’s out, and keeping Linda’s friendship with Ross the fox intertwined. Tiner ought to be proud of it. Its replacement next week is a repeat of a popular 1976 Giorgio Giorgetti story, “Tag Along Tania”.
Speaking of Giorgetti, his current story, “The Breaking of Faith”, is now on its penultimate episode. Faith discovers the truth about her friend Claire after (finally) checking things out at the home Claire was staying at. Now she has to decide what to do. Her decision will certainly involve what to do about Claire running away, terrified of her finding out the truth.
“Stella Stirrer” saves her friend Katie from drowning in the school swimming pool although she can’t swim. Later, she’s back to stirring things up for snobby Harriet when she discovers Harriet has stolen the credit for the rescue!
Sharon’s Shadow (artist Hugo D’Adderio) – Strange Story serial – first episode
Melanie’s Mob (artist Edmond Ripoll)
Molly Mills – the final episode (artist Tony Thewenetti)
Bessie Bunter (artist Arthur Martin)
Maisie of Mo Town (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
Shadow of the Fire God (artist Manuel Benet) – Strange Story
Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)
Wee Sue (artist Mike White)
Daughter of the Regiment (artist Mario Capaldi)
Now we come to 1977 in our August Tammy month round. And there’s another reason to bring out this August issue – it is the issue with the final episode (below) of Molly Mills. Yes, the great Molly Mills debate has finally come to a head. On the letters page (below), ye Editor makes an open call for letters – with monetary incentives of course – on whether or not to bring her back. But really, this would have been a whole lot more fair and representative of readers’ wants if the final episode had ended with a definitive conclusion (Molly sailing off to India with the others). Indeed, if this really was to be Molly’s final bow, they should have done that. Instead, it’s a tantalising cliffhanger (Pickering’s infamous frame-up of Molly at the docks, which makes her a fugitive, on the run from the law). This would surely have skewed the response from readers in favour of Molly’s return, to see how she sorts out her predicament. Indeed, ye Editor later informs us that the response was overwhelmingly in favour of Molly’s return, and return she did, on 31 December 1977. Would the response have been the same if Molly had been given a proper send-off? Incidentally, seeing as Molly returned with a different artist (Douglas Perry), I suspect the clincher for this sudden end of Molly was not the Molly Mills debate – it was Tony Thewenetti no longer able to continue with Molly for some reason.
Meanwhile, Bella is at a Russian gymnastics school on a scholarship, and it’s good to see she’s getting a lot out of it this time (last time she was at a Russian gymnastics school, she was wrongly expelled before she’d hardly begun). Of course the school not without problems, and boy, does her strict Russian coach have a face to remember! John Armstrong must have had a great time drawing inspiration from gargoyles or something. This week, Bella loses her memory after an accident in the gym and strays from the school.
Tammy takes us into the world of politics with the new Strange Story serial, “Sharon’s Shadow”. Joe Brown, outraged by the rundown housing conditions in Leechester, which led to the death of his grandfather, is running for MP so he can turn things around. But his chances of election could come under threat when his sister Sharon challenges a witch’s curse at her grave and then has a strange accident there. Never, ever, challenge the supernatural, Sharon. Meanwhile, in the regular Strange Story, the horrors of human sacrifice in pre-Christian days threaten to resurface with an erupting volcano, and superstition and hysteria get the better of people.
In “Maisie in Mo Town”, it’s been a barrel of laughs (though maybe a bit un-PC today) with Maisie pretending to increasingly exasperated kidnappers that she’s a dumb wild girl from Africa who doesn’t know the first thing about civilisation and can only speak pidgin English. But now things take a very serious turn as the kidnappers make plans to smuggle her out of the country. To this end, they lock her in the attic, ready for someone to collect at midnight!
“Daughter of the Regiment” Tessa Mason has recruited a gang of mudlarks to help clear her father, who was shot for cowardice at the Charge of the Light Brigade. But one, Dick, has been bribed to help lead her into a trap! And Melanie has recruited her own gang, “Melanie’s Mob”, to train as athletes. Dad would have a fit if he knew they were the Canal Mob, and now someone has reported something to the police about it.
At a regatta, Stackers is finding a mermaid costume problematic, and it leads to hijinks. In the final panel, Bessie doesn’t think much of mermaid costumes either, as she can’t raid the grub in the one she’s forced to wear.
Nobody in class believes Miss Bigger when she shoots a big line about how her big WAAF days in World War II helped to win the Battle of Britain. So nobody’s surprised when she comes unstuck at a Battle of Britain exhibition at a flying club: “Bigger? We had a waitress of that name in the mess. Butter-fingers Bigger we used to call her…she was always dropping the crockery.” Miss Bigger’s looking very red, and then she’s green, as she can’t take a flight in a WWII plane without feeling airsick. The real heroics belong to Sue, who scares off robbers at the club with a phoney WWII bomb.
Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)
The Happiest Days (artist Mario Capaldi) – first episode
100 Tammy Leotards To Be Won! – Contest
Get Your Skates On, Katie (artist Diane Gabbot(t))
Karina and Khan (artist Jordi Franch)
Bessie Bunter (artist Arthur Martin)
Molly Mills and the Grim Governess (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
Wee Sue (artist Mike White)
The Peasant’s Prophesy (sic) (artist Carlos Freixas) – Strange Story
The Wolf at Our Door (artist Bob Harvey)
In our previous entry we discussed how Bella had become so powerful in Tammy that she sometimes ran Bella-inspired competitions. Here is another case, which appeared in 1979. Tammy is running a Bella-inspired contest with 100 Tammy leotards up for grabs. It’s a “spot the difference” contest, using a panel taken from the first episode of Bella’s current story. Also, Tammy announces that over the next four issues she will be running a pull-out Bella poster in four parts.
And the Bella story itself? It’s one of Bella’s grimmest. It’s another unjust public disgrace story. After a complicated misunderstanding she can’t prove, Bella is wrongly convicted and sent to a remand home. Now she’s discovered the sensationalist treatment she’s getting from the press over it, and it’s really getting to her.
Bessie Bunter dream sequences sometimes seem to be as thought-provoking as they are funny. This week, pollution is the theme. The episode has been posted up for you to judge how prescient it was in today’s climate (or might be in the future).
After the status quo at Stanton Hall was restored to the Molly strip in 1978, there was a definite change. The excesses with Pickering were toned down, and the beatings and torture devices (particularly the lake, the stocks and the dungeon) were dropped, but he still remained the bully butler. In Molly’s latest story, Mistress Clare’s new governess is Pickering in female form. In fact, the servants suspect she’s Pickering’s secret wife! Heh, heh, unlikely, but they ought to get married – they’re a perfect match!
The new story, “The Happiest Days”, is an evil influence story with a difference. It could have been done the usual creepy way, but instead it’s done the funny way. Great Aunt Aggie’s frightful portrait casts such a pall over the school she founded that everyone is in a constant state of depression and weeping (yet they still make us laugh). Her descendant, Sunny Smyles, is the only one immune. Once Sunny realises what’s going on, it’s war between her and her grim ancestor, with sobriety versus cheerfulness.
Bob Harvey artwork began to appear in Tammy in 1978 with the Strange Stories, but now Harvey is drawing a serial, “The Wolf at Our Door”, a story that strongly hints the wolf is not as extinct in Britain as people think. A pack appears to have survived in a pocket environment, and it is threatening a budding kennel business. Bob Harvey artwork would become regular in Tammy when “Pam of Pond Hill” came over from Jinty near the end of 1981.
“Karina and Khan” brings some Jordi Franch artwork to Tammy. It’s essentially a horse story, with Karina fighting all odds to stay with her beloved horse, Khan, but the storyline also brings a dash of politics and the Iron Curtain with it.
A magic pair of skates gives Katie the power to ice skate, as previous owner Katrina Freeman’s talent is channelling through her. Now, when the protagonist gains talent this way (which could be considered a form of cheating), the ending will have to show if she has gained enough from the power to do fine on her own, the power has brought out the talent she had all along and just needed confidence, or she has to quit because her talent is not genuine. A power that gives the protagonist the talent she wants is never allowed to last on a permanent basis.
Wee Sue is one strip that gets the most rotation of artwork in Tammy, and we don’t mind as she is one strip that can work well with a variety of artists who can do humour. Her current artist is Mike White.
Carlos Freixas never drew a serial for Tammy, but his artwork appeared in the Strange Stories and, later on, in complete stories. This week he draws a Strange Story set in the French Revolution. The Duvalles rule their estate in a humane manner (unlike most French aristocrats), but this does not make them exempt from the threat of Madame La Guillotine. However, it makes people willing to help them escape, and one gives a prophecy. When the Duvalles flee, it looks like the prophecy can never be fulfilled – except for the strange thing that happened just before they did so.
Tammy & Jinty merger in “Old Friends”, 26 December 1981 to 10 July 1982
Artists: (Sandie) Vicente Torregrosa Manrique. (Tammy) Mario Capaldi, John Richardson, Robert MacGillivray, Richard Neillands, Mike White, Hugh Thornton-Jones, John Johnston, Jim Eldridge
Writers (known): Terry Magee, Maureen Spurgeon, Iain MacDonald; Gerry Finley-Day also involved
We are now going to take a look at Sue Strong, better known as Wee Sue, and her development from her debut in Sandie to her final years in Tammy.
Wee Sue was one of the first stories to appear in Sandie. Sandie was launched on 12 February 1972 and ran until 20 May 1972, and was drawn by Vicente Torregrosa Manrique. Tammy readers would have been surprised to see how Wee Sue looked back then, as it was radically different to the Tammy version. It was a serial, not a regular weekly feature, and it was played for drama, not light relief. There was no “story of the week” format where Sue’s famous big brains would come up with ways to get out of various scrapes, being the bane of the bullying Miss Bigger, or sorting out someone’s problem. In fact, there is no Milltown, no Milltown Comprehensive, and no Miss Bigger. The logo was different too.
Instead, Sue is a scholarship girl at exclusive Backhurst Academy, which has emphasis on sport. But it is facing closure, so Sue is trying to come up with a way to save it. Sue has other problems too, such as facing prejudice because she is a scholarship girl. Sue’s appearance is also different from the one Tammy readers are more familiar with. She is still a midget, but she has freckles and a more rigid bob style than the tousled one she would acquire in her later stories.
Still, the elements Sue became known for in Tammy were there from the beginning. She is always proving you should not estimate her because she is small. Indeed, her size often comes in handy. She has that reputation for brilliant ideas, particularly when she had to pull something out of her hat to save the day. Sometimes she moves in mysterious ways to do so, but she always knows what she is doing. She is always willing to help others, even more unsavoury types. She even sacrifices herself for them, often at the price of taking a dent in her popularity. She is not afraid to stand up to bullies and sort out nasty types. She is always kind, brave, thoughtful and generous.
The first Wee Sue story ended in Sandie on 20 May 1972. More than a year later Sandie merged with Tammy on 27 October 1973. Wee Sue and “Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie” were the only Sandie stories to cross over into the merger. Considering that the first Wee Sue story had ended in Sandie over a year before with no known sequels, the choice of reviving her for the merger is a surprising one. Were there plans for a Wee Sue sequel in Sandie that didn’t get off the ground but made their way into the merger? Or did the editor trawl through the issues of Sandie until he found something he thought had potential for the merger besides Uncle Meanie?
On the Jinty site Iain MacDonald has commented “…The other character I wrote and helped create was Wee Sue. Gerry Finlay Day suggested the character. I wrote most of the early ones.” It is not clear if MacDonald is referring to the original Sue from Sandie or the reboot in Tammy, but the reference to Finley-Day does suggest the latter.
Whatever was behind bringing Sue into the merger, it was an inspired choice. Sue became one of the most popular and enduring characters in Tammy. But for this, a sweeping overhaul of Wee Sue was undertaken. Former Sandie readers must have been taken aback to see it.
In her debut episode in Tammy (below), Sue began to take on the form familiar to Tammy readers. She is now a regular strip with self-contained episodes (in later years she occasionally had two-parters and even mini-story arcs). She now has the logo familiar to Tammy readers, and she would retain it for the rest of her run. She has moved to Milltown, a poor industrial town. Instead of the posh academy she attends Milltown Comprehensive. There is more emphasis on her living in poverty, such as her patched uniform. The poverty angle disappears later in the strip, though her parents clearly remain working-class people. Sue still has her freckles from her original story, but her bob has a spiky look. The bob would later take on a softer style and the freckles disappeared.
It is also the episode where Miss Bigger makes her first appearance. She, along with Miss Tuft the games mistress, are new to the comprehensive, and they make it clear they are both bully teachers. This is definitely the Tammy influence (dark stories laden with misery and cruelty) on Sue. Both of these teachers hate Sue from the moment they meet her. In the first episodes there is a harder edge to their nastiness. For example, in one episode Miss Tuft is determined to get Sue into trouble for theft although she knows Sue is innocent. The teachers also bully an autistic girl, who gets diagnosed thanks to Sue (very advanced for 1973!). Miss Tuft soon disappeared, leaving Miss Bigger to carry on as the arch-nemesis of Wee Sue. Well, there is room for only one arch-nemesis in a regular strip after all.
Despite the harder edge, there are elements of humour. For example, in Sue’s first Tammy episode, she gets the better of Miss Bigger with the help of an onion johnny. As time passed, the cruelty, though still present in the form of Miss Bigger, would be reduced as the comedy took more of a front seat. Wee Sue evolved into a lightweight strip as she became more cheeky, wise-cracking, even mischievous, and often getting into slapstick scrapes.
Miss Bigger remained as mean and pompous as she had been in her first episode, but she soon took on a more comic presence as well. As she did so, her features evolved from the rather flat, slim look in her first episode to becoming more wryly grotesque and tartar-looking. Mario Capaldi, Miss Bigger’s first artist, eventually gave her the distinctive jagged choppers that would gnash furiously whenever she shouted – which was often. Her nose changed too, becoming more distinctive, in a comical way. Under Robert MacGillivray it became an overgrown bulbous nose, similar to the one he eventually gave Uncle Meanie when he came over to Tammy.
One reason why Miss Bigger’s appearance became more caricaturised was that Wee Sue passed into the hands of several artists who were strong on slapstick, caricature and humour. John Richardson, who took over from Mario Capaldi, was the first to take Wee Sue into this area, and his run on Sue was a long one. In fact, he took over in the same episode of Sue as Capaldi, on 14 September 1974, giving the readers the best of both worlds (or a lot of confusion, with the same episode switching from one artist to another). When Richardson took over, Sue took on a sharper, more clever look.
Over time other artists continued the humour, though some brought it off better than others. Other artists to draw Wee Sue were John Johnston, Hugh Thornton-Jones, Richard Neillands, Jim Eldridge, Mike White and Robert MacGillivray.
Despite the grotesque comic looks she acquires, Miss Bigger is so vain beyond imagining that she actually believes she is beautiful. Her vanity extends to her abilities as well; she believes she is capable of any feat that borders on superhuman, including being a better ballerina than Margot Fonteyn or winning World War II single-handed. In one episode we see this vanity runs in the Bigger family: Miss Bigger shows Sue her illustrious family album of Bigger women, who all look like her and come up with grand schemes that make no sense and don’t look at all successful (below). We frequently see Sue take advantage of Miss Bigger’s vanity, either to get what she wants out of her or to fix Miss Bigger’s sneaky schemes or mountains of homework.
There is also confusion about Miss Bigger’s first name. It was first established as Lillian, but later in the run it was Amelia.
From the first episode Miss Bigger gives the impression she is not a very good teacher; the onion johnny, for example, makes it clear that Sue’s French is better than hers. In another episode, Miss Bigger gives a German lesson, but her accent is terrible. Some episodes on Miss Bigger’s own days at school imply she has a dark past there: bullying and lousy school reports.
Unfortunately Miss Bigger is also notorious for giving out such great big piles of homework that we suspect she does it to deliberately torture her class. She is also known for making the girls’ lives a misery if she’s in a filthy mood. For example, in a Valentine-themed episode she lumbers the girls with extra homework when they’re set to go to a Valentines Day party because she’s upset she didn’t get a Valentine. Frequently Sue has to come up with schemes to keep Miss Bigger in a good mood or placate her when she’s in a bad one, or the class suffers.
In the earliest episodes Miss Bigger wore a formal outfit. But later in the Capaldi run she acquired the more casual outfit that would stay with her for the rest of the strip: skirt and sweater (later a cardigan or jacket) and black blouse. This outfit became her trademark. In fact, in one episode Miss Bigger’s trademark outfit inadvertently starts a new fashion in Milltown called “the old frump look” after a rack full of her outfits (all the same outfit!) gets mixed up with a clothes rack bound for a fashion show.
Because Sue was the bane of Miss Bigger she was sometimes branded a troublemaker by school authorities. But what Sue was really known for was her big ideas to save the day. She could always be counted on to come up with a brainwave to fix any situation, such as helping her classmates and parents, coming to the rescue of people in trouble, foiling tricksters, bullies, criminals, and Miss Bigger’s mean schemes, raising school funds, and sometimes helping Miss Bigger.
However, sometimes Sue really was naughty. In one episode, she takes a satchel to school that is so full of sweets it’s a wonder she doesn’t give herself diabetes, and she eats them in class. The sweets land her in so many sticky situations (including her toffee bar ripping Miss Bigger’s skirt and exposing her undies!) that she is right off sugar by the end of the day. It was in episodes like these that Miss Bigger was allowed to triumph against Wee Sue, so the bully teacher did win on occasion. But for the most part, Sue is a nice girl.
Miss Bigger frequently steals the credit for Sue’s big ideas whenever she sees the way to take advantage of it. This is something she gets away with a lot, but at least there is always a consolation for Sue, such as money, and in one instance, a trip to Spain.
Wee Sue remained a popular regular in Tammy, even having a special story to commemorate Tammy’s 10th birthday (below). Miss Bigger, for once having an inspired idea, takes the class on a tour at King’s Reach Tower for a behind-the-scenes look at Tammy. Sue falls asleep over the Tammys in the copy room, where she dreams of past and present Tammy characters. They all come together for a big birthday party, including Miss Bigger.
Then Jinty merged with Tammy on 28 November 1981. This was the beginning of the end for Sue. After a few weeks of not appearing in the merger, she reappeared as part of an “Old Friends” feature, which she shared in rotation with Bessie Bunter, Molly Mills and Tansy of Jubilee Street (the last of which being a surprise revival, having officially ended in the last issue of Jinty). In fact, Sue was the old friend to lead off the feature on 26 December 1981. Except for her first Old Friends episode, the Wee Sue appearances were entirely new material, as were the appearances of Tansy and Molly. This made them more refreshing to see. Only Bessie was on repeats. But it was clear that all four were on their very last legs. Sure enough, Old Friends disappeared with a revamped Tammy launched 17 July 1982, so Wee Sue was buried in the same grave as Tansy, Bessie and Molly. However, Sue continued to make appearances in the Tammy annual to the very end, though it was with repeats.
Sue lasted in Tammy for a proud nine years, including her Old Friends appearances. But if you include the Sandie year, Sue ran for 10 years, which means she holds a joint record with Bella for longevity and one year behind Molly at 11 years.
The Weather-Cock – The Strange Story (artist Angeles Felices)
Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)
Wee Sue (artist Mike White)
Circus of the Damned (artist Diane Gabbot(t))
Edie’s Hobbyhorse – Archery
It’s Father’s Day where I am, which for some reason is celebrated the first Sunday in September instead of 20 June as it is in Britain. So I have pulled out this Father’s Day issue from Tammy in honour of the occasion. The cover appears to both acknowledge and satirise how adults, including Dads, like to read Tammy and other girls’ comics as much as the girls themselves.
The Wee Sue story could have used a father theme to celebrate Father’s Day, but the emphasis is more on mothers when Sue and her friends offer to advertise washing powder, with a free supply of a year’s washing powder for their mums in return. Then old Bigger has to interfere, but quick-brained Sue finds a way to turn it to their advantage and make their advertising even better.
Bella’s new job in Australia has gone badly, especially as Mr Cox, who made the offer, has been trying to back out of it and now says it’s off for good. It doesn’t help that Bella has arrived in a sorry state. Her idea of cleaning herself up is to swim in the sea, clothes and all (really, Bella!). Then the Cox children goad Bella into surfboarding for the first time, which almost gets Bella killed.
In “Prince of the Wild”, Agnes Croft is known for her big imagination, so she is finding hard to get people to believe her when she befriends a wild horse on the moors and names him Prince. We are also introduced to Colonel Powell’s snooty twin daughters, who look like they’re going to be the antagonists of the piece. Agnes finds it very suspicious that the Powell twins are frequenting the moors. Could it have something to do with Prince?
Betta’s latest attempt at self-sabotage (playing with a dud hockey stick) to escape sports slavery at school rebounds on her, and in the end her trick is discovered. The sports mistress has already grown suspicious as it is, so is the game up for Betta?
In “Down to Earth Blairs”, the Tammy version of “The Good Life”, snooty Mrs Proctor, who is always gunning for the Blairs because she disapproves of their self-sufficient lifestyle, has a flea infestation in her house and blames the Blairs’ animals. However, the animals test negative for fleas when Sanitary Department inspects them, so where did the fleas come from?
The Strange Story features a weather-cock, which “Badger” Browny insists should be left alone when the church committee decide to remove it. He claims it has the power to warn of upcoming accidents by pointing in their direction. Karen, who believes him, follows the direction of the weather-cock, where she discovers a road collapse and saves an oncoming bus from it. After this, the weather-cock is allowed to stay.
It had to happen – Bessie’s so fat she gets stuck in a chair. To make things more awkward, it’s the head’s chair, so if Bessie can’t get unstuck fast, she could be in serious trouble if “Stackers” finds out.
This week’s episode of “Circus of the Damned” focuses on the use – and abuse – of exotic animals in circuses. Their use in the episode comes across as even more distasteful today in an age where using exotic animals in circuses has become un-PC and the move is on to phase it out. Circus owner Yablonski is so obsessed with creating the greatest show on earth that he blackmails his performers into dangerous stunts. This week’s episode shows how the blackmail makes the animals suffer as well. This week they and their trainers actually try to rebel, but Yablonski cracks his whip – literally – to bring them into line. Or has he? At the end of the episode, someone releases the tiger Yablonski mistreated earlier and it’s on the loose.
The Molly Mills strip has been nothing but crime, fugitives and running from the law ever since arch-enemy Pickering framed Molly for a theft he committed himself. Molly, still on the run from that, has returned to Stanton Hall, now under the ownership of Mrs Powell. But it turns out the money Mrs Powell used to buy the hall came from her half-brother’s bank robbery. He escaped prison and went after her to get the money back. Now he’s caught up and is holding the whole hall hostage to force Mrs Powell to resell the hall to get the money back. Both Molly and maidservant Jodie are trying to smuggle messages for help to the estate agent – without consulting each other. Molly’s worried things could go wrong.
Eye of the Beholder (artist Hugo D’Adderio) – Strange Story
Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)
Wee Sue (artist Mike White)
Daughter of the Regiment (artist Mario Capaldi) – final episode
On the cover, big sis gets one over little sis for once, who not only has to do the work but also looks narked at not being the first to read the weekly Tammy.
This week’s Tammy features one of my favourite Strange Stories, “Eye of the Beholder”, plus it has ever-popular Hugo D’Adderio artwork. The story appears below. An unsavoury Babylonian empress cares only about her garden. Like the selfish giant, she won’t share it with anyone, and woe betide anyone who so much as sniffs the flowers. But it looks like the empress may have imposed this extreme meanness on the wrong person…
Bella has set up a gym club on a collective farm. Some people are finding it hard to accept this, and at the end of the episode we get a hint that someone may have resorted to sabotage, which has put a girl’s life in danger.
Speed is the new motto at Cliff House School, and Bessie is taking it deeply to heart because it’s fun. Speed is no problem for Bessie where sneaking/eating food is concerned. But putting an aristocratic visitor on roller skates to speed things up? Unless there’s a speedy turnaround, this could mean a speedy punishment for Bessie.
Rowena reaches the last of her brothers for help in aiding her father, but all she gets is another refusal: “none of us are entirely ready, yet”. Then her brother’s companion reacts so badly against this – “you have shamed us!” – that he breaks his oath of fealty to his master. Wow, looks like help at last, at least from someone. Will it prod the brother into action as well?
“Daughter of the Regiment” concludes. Tessa Mason has been battling to prove her father was innocent of the charge that got him executed at the Charge of the Light Brigade. And what does she find? Her father wasn’t executed or charged with anything, and isn’t even dead! It was all a ruse so he could go undercover to foil a plot to assassinate Queen Victoria, and Tessa’s investigation unwittingly put it in danger. Well, they should have known that no true daughter would ever accept her father was guilty and wouldn’t rest until she had discovered the truth. They should have said he was killed in action or something.
Of late, there has been dispute as to whether Tammy artist Diane Gabbot should be spelt Gabbott. Gabbott was the original spelling and we’re not sure if “Gabbot” is a misspelling that crept in or a simplified spelling Diane adopted.
Anyway, Diane’s latest Tammy story is “Selena Sitting Pretty”, and the theme is one you see more often at DCT: a girl pretends to be disabled to take advantage. Selena Smith pretends to be wheelchair-bound because she is having difficulty handling the competition at her new school. This week she hides Lorraine’s running shoes, which forces her to run in bare feet. It blows up in Selena’s face when Lorraine wins anyway and then makes a present of the shoes to Selena, not realising she’s on the verge of discovering Selena’s secret.
A stuffy Latin teacher has problems with Babe of St Woods, who always has gangsters on the brain. When she asks for prep on one of the Caesars, Babe does hers on “Little Caesar”, the 1920s gangster. Then Babe comes to the rescue when she discovers the teacher’s prescription has been written out in the wrong dosage. Teach has failed to notice this although the prescription is in Latin. Really, teach!
Miss Bigger takes the class to the seaside on the annual school trip but makes it as stuffy as the Latin teacher while another class are permitted to have all the fun of the beach. What’s more, Sue has to find a way to get one of the girls to a beauty contest and back without Miss Bigger noticing; the girl needs the prize money for her parents’ anniversary present. In the end Sue’s class have as much fun on the beach, and the girl wins third place and enough money for a present.
Melanie Newton still has to keep her sports club comprised of local toughs a secret from her snobby father, but things are looking up for it. That is, until Dad asks her to go against the gang because he wants the gang’s sports site for development. Looks like Melanie has to rebel against her father again, something she’s been doing ever since the beginning of the story because she hates how her working-class father is now a snobby, selfish rich businessman.
Molly Mills and the New Boy (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
I Wish I Was Someone Else… – Strange Story (artist Ken Houghton)
Wee Sue (artist Mike White)
Daughter of the Regiment (artist Mario Capaldi)
All this big news about quarantine and self-imposed isolation in the wake of the latest pandemic had me thinking of this Tammy cover. The Cover Girls are in quarantine, and big sister, as usual, gets the short end.
It’s the final episode of Bella’s story, but another Bella story starts next week. Bella is stranded in Canada after her journey to the Montreal Olympics without a passport. She makes a friend in Indian girl Oona Tall Tree and helps a mountaineer whose leg got crushed by a falling tree. They’re all snowed in while he recovers, so Bella will entertain them with stories of her adventures.
“Maisie of Mo Town” is mistaken for a mystery jungle girl from Africa, Bibi, in the press. Kidnappers make the same mistake and lure Maisie away, thinking she’s Bibi. Maisie plays along, pretending to be a dim-witted African girl who speaks only pidgin English and knows little of the 20th century while secretly trying to work out a plan against them. In the meantime, she is having a lot of fun with her pretence and giving them aggravation. Already they’re wondering why they bothered with the kidnapping. We can see this story will be filled with laughs. But it won’t be played for laughs. All the while there will be the serious side of the kidnapping and the mystery of why the kidnappers are after Bibi.
Melanie Newton is rejected by the snooty girls of her new school, who get her banned from their athletics club. Melanie decides to form a team with the ragged Canal Mob, but they think she’s a toff. In this episode she finds ways to test out how good they would be at athletics and seems to getting through to them. They want to have a private chat with her, but is it genuine or a setup?
It is the penultimate episode of “Time Trap!”. A past life regression experiment with Leonie has gone wrong. It’s left her trapped in a hypnotic state where she is reliving a past life as Wat Tyler’s sister on the run from the king when the Peasants’ Revolt failed. Leonie’s sister Jenny is trying to find ways to help her, but it looks like she’s given the wrong advice again – it’s caused Leonie to become stuck in the marsh. What’s more, the way ahead is blocked by the king’s soldiers.
Miss Stackpole has taken the girls to the beach, but the wind is causing problems. However, that’s nothing compared to the problems Miss Stackpole has in bumping into Bessie all the time. Miss Stackpole doesn’t know which is worse – Bessie or the wind. Still, everything blows over and it’s a happy ending.
Pickering wants to get rid of new boy Arthur Sparrow because he thinks Arthur’s being groomed to take his place. Arthur takes the hint and leaves to join the army. Molly informs the recruitment office that he’s underage, but she overlooked one thing: this would land Arthur in trouble for lying about his age. Now Arthur could be up before a magistrate on a charge of false pretences. Oops!
In the Strange Story, Catherine Bridie is your poor little rich girl. Her wealthy uncle is so strict he stifles her freedom and won’t allow her friends. She wishes she could be like village girl Connie, the girl she finds a friend in. Weird events ensue, and Catherine takes Connie’s place and finds friends and happiness.
Wee Sue’s mother wants a tumble dryer and insists Dad spend his bonus on one. Dad is not thrilled at the idea, and his hunt for a tumble dryer gets him into all kinds of trouble as well. And after all that, Mum’s not even using the tumble dryer.
Tessa Mason, the “Daughter of the Regiment”, is determined to clear her father, who was executed for cowardice during the Charge of the Light Brigade. A mysterious Mr Cregan is trying to stop her, and this week he lures her into a trap. She escapes with the help of her mudlark friends, but Cregan now has plans to “spirit her away”.
We are now well and truly into the run of Princess II where she is falling back on reprints from Tammy and Jinty. From Jinty we have “Horse from the Sea” and “Stefa’s Heart of Stone”. Many former Jinty readers would have envied Princess readers for getting a reprint of Stefa. Jinty’s letter page indicated there was a popular demand for this serial to be repeated, but for some reason neither Jinty nor the Tammy & Jinty merger obliged. From Tammy we get “Rowena of the Doves” and now “The Dream House”.
Nonetheless, Princess is still producing her own stories. One is the cover story, “Flight from the Romanys” (not good grammar there). Lydia Parks is kidnapped by nasty gypsies, for no other reason than to make a slave out of her and profit from the chattels she had on her (rich clothes, a horse). Considering her father is a wealthy lord, they could have shown more imagination than that! This episode is dedicated to establishing just how cruel Lydia’s kidnappers intend to be to her, and Lydia showing us her resolve to escape despite her tears or the gypsies’ attempts to discourage her.
A more savoury gypsy gives “The Runaway Clown” both hope (her father will find her and no going back to the home she ran away from) and fear (danger from an elephant) when she looks into her crystal ball. Of course the fortune teller means Princess, the vicious elephant trainer who has been gunning for Cindy. This time Princess gets caught out and sacked, but has Cindy really seen the last of that nasty piece of work? Time will tell. Meanwhile, the weather presents its own dangers, and it leads to the death of the fortune teller.
Spoiled Laura is showing improvement in the “Lyon’s Den”. But is it genuine, or is it because she hopes to get a shopping trip in Paris out of it? Mrs Lyon suspects the latter, but readers are left wondering if the former is coming into it. Later, Mrs Lyon is surprised to see Laura on television donating her prize pony to the children of the blind home and promptly phones Laura’s aunt as she smells a rat. Is she right?
Two Princess stories, “Sheena and the Treetoppers” and “The Saddest Dog in Town”, reach their penultimate episodes. The Treetoppers are trying to find a missing will that would save their treehouse, but no luck. And now the demolition men are asking the councillor whether or not they have the green light to demolish the old house and the treehouse with it.
Lucy and Martin Denton are not having much luck tracing the owner of the “Saddest Dog in Town” either and turn to the local newspaper for help. Then a lorry passes by and the dog runs after it because he has recognised the engine sound. His rightful owner at last?
Sadie, Cook and Grovel all jump on the table in fright when they see mice on the bench, not realising they are only sugar mice intended as a gift for them. They not only end up feeling very silly but lose their treat as well, because the cat ate the mice.
Translations/reprints: Princess (second series) 26 February 1984 – 31 March 1984 (one double episode); Tina #35 1984 as Het mysterie van het poppenhuis [The mystery of the dolls’ house]
Jan Dale has taken a temporary job as a nanny to a wealthy family. At first glance the house looks a “dream house”, the sort Jan would buy if she won the pools. Then she is informed Mr Glenn the owner disappeared two days ago; just vanished into thin air while gardening, it seems. His disappearance spooked the staff into leaving except the housekeeper, Miss Royd. Mrs Glenn is a bag of nerves, shrieking, “I won’t go in there! Please! Let me stay outside!” Now what can she mean by that? Elder daughter Diana Glenn is a rude, unpleasant type, and the younger children John and Becky are playing with a dolls’ house that is an exact replica of the house. Later Jan learns the busy parents neglected the younger children, so they turned to spending time with it.
Jan notes there are no dolls in the house, but later she and Diana see a doll outside it that looks just like Mr Glenn. Diana thinks it’s her siblings playing a cruel joke, but later Jan hears a voice calling for help from inside the dolls’ house. Becky says it’s “Silly old Dad!” and John aggressively tells her to shut up.
John and Becky show Jan doll’s clothes in the drawer, saying there will be more dolls in the house soon. Jan is shocked to realise the doll’s clothes are replicas of the clothes she brought with her – but how can that be when she only arrived a few hours ago? John says it’s because the dolls’ house knew she would be coming. Miss Royd tells Jan the dolls’ house is evil. Eventually John and Becky tell Jan they found the dolls’ house in a secret room in the house and show it to her.
Mrs Glenn just vanishes into thin air without explanation. Jan hears her voice calling from the dolls’ house and a hand waves from the window in the dolls’ house. Sure enough, it’s a doll-sized Mrs Glenn screaming for help. But when Jan rouses Diana the doll has disappeared. Diana wants Jan out, but the younger siblings insist she stay, and warn Diana she will be the next for the dolls’ house.
That night Jan has a dream of standing outside the dolls’ house, a voice calling her in, and don’t fight it. At first Jan resists but then calms down and welcomes it; it looks so peaceful in there. Then she wakes up, saying the sun woke her up in time from being snatched by the dolls’ house.
The dream is a forewarning of what happens to Diana. Jan sees her abruptly vanish from the grounds and heads to the dolls’ house, where she sees Diana about to open the house, urging it to let her in. Jan stops Diana in the nick of time, and even Diana is becoming convinced Jan is right. She flees the house in terror, but then she does disappear, as do the doll’s clothes that matched hers. Then Miss Royd and Jan see all three dolls in the house.
Realising she is next, Jan tries to destroy the dolls’ house with an axe, but Miss Royd stops her. Then Jan realises something: there are no doll clothes for Miss Royd, so the house was not planning to take her. Now why could that be?
Caught out, Miss Royd reveals she is behind the dolls’ house. She came with it and lived in it for centuries, and Jan and the Glenns are going to do the same. She was a squire’s wife who sought to discover the secret of eternal life. Frustrated with her constant failures she exclaimed, “Let the devil take anything of mine if I can succeed!” At this, a fire broke out, burning her house down, and the dolls’ house mysteriously appeared. Taking it as a sign, Mistress Royd ordered her new house (now the Glenns’) to be an exact replica. She also ordered a secret room to be built into the dolls’ house and the real one. She had the man who built them murdered, but he made a statement before he died, and the authorities came to arrest her. Mistress Royd and her niece Mary headed for the secret room, but soon realise the authorities had been informed about it. Working through Mary’s mind, Mistress Royd hid in the secret room in the dolls’ house. She stayed there until her mind reached out to John and Becky. Like Mary, they were young children, and her mind can only work through children.
Miss Royd says that it’s not just Jan who is going in there now; John and Becky are going in there too, and they are delighted about it: “It’s lovely being a doll!” She has them believe, and they’ll all be very happy in there. However, Jan manages to turn the power of the dolls’ house against Miss Royd: she persuades Becky and John to let Miss Royd go in first and let the family out, saying this will enable Miss Royd to find out how happy she is being a doll. This sends Miss Royd right back into the dolls’ house and frees the trapped people.
Jan soon finds nobody except her remembers what happened. The parents find they suddenly hate the dolls’ house for some reason and want it gotten rid of. So Jan puts the dolls’ house back in the secret room. She can only hope no other child finds it – Miss Royd is still in there, waiting and calling to be let out.
Surprisingly, Tammy didn’t often run serials on evil dolls, objects or influences, which makes the theme quite refreshing here. By contrast, DCT ran such stories with great abandon, which is another peculiar difference between IPC and DCT. Maybe one of these days we should have an analysis on how IPC and DCT had such differing emphases on serial themes and why this might have been.
The story establishes the theme and the mounting evil very quickly, which is not surprising as it has only seven episodes. So there is no padding or drawing out of the plot. The plotting is tight and well paced, and the evil is closing in fast like a tightening coil, which makes it even more gripping and scary. Unlike some evil doll/toy stories, it does not take long for Jan to realise the evil of the house and what’s progressively happening to the people who disappear. After all, it’s pretty obvious, what with the dolls’ clothes matching the people in the house, the dolls being replicas of the vanished people, the cries for help from the house, and what everyone else in the household is saying about the dolls’ house.
Unlike many protagonists in evil influence/object stories, Jan does not have a frustrating time trying to convince anyone what’s going on, only to find everyone thinks she’s nuts. Miss Royd already says the dolls’ house is evil (but of course she knew that all along). The young children know what’s going on but embrace it and even facilitate it. Mrs Glenn can already sense it coming and is scared out of her wits. Only Diana rubbishes it, but deep down she has her doubts, and it’s not long before her doubts turn into terror.
The family dysfunction (neglectful parents, unpleasant big sister) clearly made John and Becky easy targets for the dolls’ house and falling under the power of Miss Royd. It appeared to offer them happiness, comfort and peace, and would make them all one happy family once they were all inside, as dolls. From what we gather from Jan’s dream and how Diana almost got enticed in, this is how it lures them all in and gets the children into its power. Like its real-sized counterpart, it appeared to be the dream house. But once they were all inside, they would soon find it was really the nightmare house. Once released, Dad’s remark that he now hates the dolls’ house for some reason gives the impression that although they don’t remember anything, they will be wiser for the experience and work on being a better family unit.
Miss Royd is clearly a cautionary tale in the consequences of dabbling in the dark arts and tempting the Devil. Though the Devil does not seem to be after souls – after all, what he gives Miss Royd offers eternal life – any gifts from him will have strings attached. The dolls’ house is no exception. It grants eternal life – but from the look of it, it’s eternal life as a doll. Is that really the lovely and happy thing Miss Royd says it is? We don’t think so from the way the Glenns keep screaming once they are trapped in the house. Or Miss Royd herself once she is returned to the house. She screams at Jan to let her out, in the way Mrs Glenn did. Aww, poor diddums Royd – don’t you like it in the dolls’ house, even if it does give you the eternal life you wanted?
Artists: Mario Capaldi, Mike White, Hugh Thornton-Jones
Translations/reprints: None known
The Jinx from St Jonah’s was one of Jinty’s very first strips, and it was the longest-running at 112 episodes. It was a humour strip, full of slapstick humour and hijinks galore with Katie Jinks. It’s easy to turn that into “jinx”, and Katie is indeed a jinx by name, jinx by nature. She is a walking disaster area; even innocuous things like playing the triangle, practising yoga, or minding a goldfish lead to hilarious catastrophes in the hands of Katie the Jinx. Even the school staff have to really watch out when Katie’s about.
Though Katie’s classmates know they have to watch out for Miss Klutzy too, there are plenty of times when Katie’s jinxing works to their advantage. For example, they all get a day off school when Katie’s jinxing gets all the school staff sent home, including the headmistress. And Katie is not a jinx all the time. There are occasions when Katie does something right, such as when she figures out a girl who won’t swim has a serious problem and she sets out to unravel what it is. But the time to really watch out is when Katie wants to be helpful because that is when her jinxing is at its worst.
There are plenty of occasions when Katie’s jinxing eventually leads to a happy ending and things work out to everyone’s benefit. But of course the road getting there is full of bumps and high jinxing.
On a frequent basis it’s comeuppance time for many a wrongdoer when Katie’s around. Bullies, gluttons, stuffy teachers, snobs, troublemakers and even criminals are among the unsavoury types who get their punishment from Katie the Jinx, whether she plans it or simply jinxes it. Either way we cheer and laugh when the unpleasant type gets jinxed into their long-awaited comeuppance.
Katie comes from a long line of jinx girls in girls’ comics whose blundering causes scrapes that provide loads of laughs for the readers. “Sailor Sally – She’s All at Sea” (Debbie) and “Simple Simona” (Tammy) were other examples. But Katie was one to reach such heights of popularity in Jinty that she not only ran for two years but also became cover girl, leading off Jinty’s cover with jinx hijinks to pull readers in with a huge laugh. The panel exhibiting the jinxy gag itself, such as Katie tripping over something or getting everyone in a heap, was often given jagged edging for emphasis. Examples of Katie’s glory days on the cover are shown below.
Jinty cover 30 November 1974.
25 super “Slade” LPs to be won! See Inside. Final pages of our pull-out
Edited by comixminx to add: the strip has the power to amuse modern readers just as much. My daughter (8 at the time of writing this) loves Katie Jinks’ hijinks more than just about anything in the comic. We have recently had the pleasure of having Trini Tinturé doing a piece of art for the family, and while my son chose to have himself illustrated with one of his favourite youTubers (Dan TDM), my daughter chose to be illustrated alongside Katie Jinks. Here it is, a new piece of Trini art with a direct Jinty link!