Tag Archives: Pat Mills

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.

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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 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.

Sandie 13 May 1972

Sandie 13 May 1972

  • Lorna’s Lonely Days
  • Slaves of the Sorcerer (artist Desmond Walduck?)
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Odd Mann Out – final episode (artist A E Allen)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Friends and Neighbours
  • The Captives of Madam Karma (artist Jaume Rumeu, writer Pat Mills)
  • Wendy the Witch (artist Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance – final episode (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch?)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Ryan O’Neil (artist Bob Gifford)

“Lorna’s Lonely Days” are due to her longing to find the mother who disappeared when she was two. The mystery of the mother really deepens when Lorna thinks she has finally found her mother at last, but the woman in the photo just turns out to be a former employee who expresses no surprise at nobody letting Lorna see a picture of her mother. Meanwhile, Dad is worried Lorna is becoming more and more like her mother. Now why can these people be thinking this way?

Mike Brown is drawing a new strip in Sandie, “Wendy the Witch”, in addition to Brenda’s Brownies.

Beth Williams has once again failed to escape the sorcerer, and she’s back in his clutches. Now this is getting really tedious.

Wee Sue is becoming unpopular with her classmates and she seems to be taking deliberate measures to make it so. Now what is she playing at?

It’s the last episode of “Odd Mann Out”. The tyrannical headmistress is brought down when Susie Mann exposes her as an embezzler and falsifying exam marks for girls she favours.

Trudy Parker’s efforts to save Silver have landed her in court. Only the action of the Colonel saves Trudy from an unjust sentence of corrective training school. But then another injustice looms, in the form of Trudy being falsely accused of stealing a necklace.

The neighbour problem finally seems to be sorted in “Friends and Neighbours”. But fresh problems start when Dad begins renovating the house.

“The Captives of Madam Karma” (spelled Madame Karma on the cover) are a slave labour force of abducted girls who slave all day making transistor radios in a sweatshop – which is 200 miles within the Arctic circle. But if you think that’s weird, it’s nothing on the mysterious helper who shows up to help our protagonist – a glowing woman floating on air!

In the final episode of “Sandra Must Dance”, the twins have fallen out because Joan has wrongly assumed Sandra pulled the dirty trick a jealous girl was responsible for. To put things right, Sandra compels Joan to dance again, and in doing so the twins discover they no longer need the psychic bond and both are brilliant dancers.

In “Bonnie’s Butler” there is a disagreement over home decorating and Dad taking exception to Bonnie’s pop posters adorning the walls. But of course the butler’s got a scheme to help Bonnie there.

Anna gets a clue to help her find her forbidden friend Julia, who has been kidnapped as part of her father’s machinations to drive everyone out of Madeley Buildings. The dirty rotten schemer has even put the blame for the kidnapping on Anna!

Sandie 29 April 1972

Sandie 29 April 1972

  • No-one Cheers for Norah– final episode (artist John Armstrong)
  • Slaves of the Sorcerer (artist Desmond Walduck?)
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Friends and Neighbours
  • The School of No Escape – final episode (artist “B. Jackson”, writer Terence Magee)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch?)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Mark Lester (artist Bob Gifford)

In this issue of Sandie we say goodbye to two of her first stories: “No-One Cheers for Norah” and “The School of No Escape”. The former finishes with a needle race to beat the relatives who have not only made Norah’s life a misery ever since they met but also ruined her father’s life. The latter ends with the pretty typical deus ex machina of the aliens just vanishing away just as they are about to triumph because time’s up, and everyone but the heroine loses all memory of them for no apparent reason.

Replacing them next week are “Lorna’s Lonely Days” and “The Captives of Madam Karma”. The latter is written by Pat Mills.

In “Slaves of the Sorcerer” Beth Williams finally gets the police onto Caspar. But when they arrive at the fairground there’s no sign of him. The lead they have been given is in fact another trap for Beth set by Caspar, and he’s waiting to pounce.

Boys are admitted to Wee Sue’s school. They get quite a shock when the titch they tease turns out to be brilliant at footy. Then Sue finds one of the football boys stuck on a ledge and climbs up to the rescue.

“Odd Mann Out” is now leading a demonstration against the tyrannical way things are run at her school. But why the hell is the headmistress smiling about it instead of looking worried?

Trudy loses Silver – to the rag-and-bone man. And everyone knows how cruel he is to animals. Can Trudy get him back?

Ann Friend and her family in “Friends and Neighbours” have moved into a new house. The neighours haven’t been friendly but now Anne believes they are worse than she thought – they are trying to scare her family out of the house with a ruse that it’s haunted. They deny it angrily and mean to prove it by sitting up with them.

In “Sandra Must Dance”, enemy Robinia Drew discovers the twins’ bizarre secret – Joan can transfer her ballet talent into her twin sister Sandra through a psychic bond. Robinia locks Joan up to prevent her from doing so during a performance. Can the twins pull things off despite this?

This week’s episode of “Bonnie’s Butler” has a row with the Major and Bonnie loses the present she was going to give Angie. Things get even more bizarre when Bonnie wins an unwanted hip bath at an auction, but her butler uses it to put everything right.

In “Anna’s Forbidden Friend”, Julia’s father takes advantage of Anna and Julia to hatch a scheme to get everyone out of Madeley Buildings. He managed to turn everyone against them once before and now plots to do it again. And his scheme includes kidnapping his own daughter!

How do you know who’s the hero (in British girls comics)?

I have been thinking about how you can tell who is the hero, or at least the main character, in British girls comics. I’m sure that as readers most of us can tell who’s the hero most of the time, but there are always some odd cases that test the boundaries. Perhaps we will learn something about some underlying rules of British comics storytelling if we have a deeper look?

Below I suggest five key tests to check who is the main character in a story. These tests aren’t anything to do with how nice or kind the person is – they would apply to an anti-hero as much as to the most perfect hero. Rather, they should tell us whether or not the story is about that person.

Reference in title

You would think the title of the story would be a dead giveaway as to who the story is about – but it’s not always as simple as that, of course. The main villain might be the one featured in the title (“Angela Angel-Face“, “Wanda Whiter Than White“) or, particularly in the case of Jinty, the title may be fairly allusive (“The Valley of Shining Mist“, “Waves of Fear” and many others).

For most stories, though, it’s true – the title does give away who the main character is. Often her name is right up front as the first element of the title along with the key struggle of the story: “Gwen’s Stolen Glory“, “Stefa’s Heart of Stone“, “Glenda’s Glossy Pages“, “Cora Can’t Lose“. But is Amanda Blay the main character in “Amanda Must Not Be Expelled“? And in “The Slave of Form 3B“, is the main character weak-willed Tania or the villainous (and rather more interesting) Stacey?

Hearing their words

A more important test than the title of the story seems to me to be whether we know what the character thinks and says. Do we see the character’s words (spoken or thoughts) directly on the page or not?

  • The sample episode of “Amanda Must Not Be Expelled” has Amanda’s words showing (in speech or word balloons) in only 10 out of 28 panels in the episode. Her antagonists, Jane and Marty, have their words or speech reported in 22 of the 28 panels (including ones where Amanda also speaks).
  • The sample episode of “The Slave of Form 3B” does not include any words or thoughts of Tania’s, but only those of Stacey (in the 26 panels shown, we hear Stacey’s thoughts or words in all bar 5).

amanda must not be expelled crop

Seeing their face

Similarly to the test above of whether we hear their words directly, do we follow them on the page and see what they do, in each panel or the majority of the page?

  • You might think that it comes to a fairly similar outcome if you check how many panels the person appears in;  I would expect the main character in a British girls comic to be in most of the panels (and that, by some way). However, in the same episode of “Amanda Must Not Be Expelled”, Jane and Marty are visible in 23 of the 28 panels while Amanda is in 18 of the 28 panels. Amanda is visible in quite a lot more panels (18 panels) than just the ones where she says or thinks something (10 panels): she is a focus of the reader’s attention without actually being the main person that you put yourself in the place of.
  • In the sample episode of “The Slave of Form 3B”, Stacey appears in slightly more panels than she speaks in – there are only 3 panels that she does not appear in, compared to the 5 that she does not speak in.

 

Active doer, or passive done-to?

This can be a bit harder to determine, I think. Does the hero (or the person who might be the hero) kick off the actions and make things happen, or is she ‘done-to’ rather than actively ‘doing’? In girls comics there is a definite theme of the downtrodden underdog hero, whose heroism lies in her endurance and persistance rather than in solving the world’s woes, so this may be a less definitive way of singling out the hero of the story. What happens if we look at the two sample stories to check how active the characters are?

  • Jane and Marty ensure that Amanda gets back to the dorm without being spotted and expelled (foiling her intent), and even sneak back the gown and mortar board that Jane dressed up in, to remove all evidence of what they were up to. But Amanda is pretty active too, by the end of the episode: she takes a pair of scissors from the needlework room and sets out to pick herself a bouquet of the headmistress’s prized tulips, as a way to get herself expelled. Honours are relatively even, though I think that on the showing of this single episode, Jane and Marty feel like the initiators of more action than Amanda does.
  • In “The Slave of  Form 3B” Tania is unconscious throughout the whole sample episode and therefore as passive as she could possibly be. Stacey initiates the action throughout: she hides Tania out of sight of possible rescuers, and she makes it look as if Tania has run away. The teachers initiate a search of the grounds, but again Stacey’s action is the decisive one as she lies to the other searchers to decoy them away from where she has hidden Tania.

Slave of Form 3B pg 1 crop

Who has the emotional journey?

Pat Mills is currently writing a series of blog posts on storytelling, and one of the recent entries is on the Emotional Journey. Many thanks to him for this post, as it was something I nearly overlooked in this series of tests. We can sensibly ask, is there a shape to the story and if so, who does that story-shape belong to? There are a number of fairly well-worn story ‘shapes’ and these also help to identify the main character. ‘Spoilt girl redeems herself’ is one of them, and ‘brave girl beats her bullies by enduring’ is another – and by phrasing the story in this way you immediately understand who the hero is. But another way to think of it is, who undergoes the emotional journey – who is changed by the end of the story? Not all stories necessarily have change as part of their core structure, but many do, and it can provide an interesting contrast to the answers derived from the other tests.

  • To answer this question you need to think about the story as a whole, not just individual sample episodes, so it can be harder to determine unless you know the story reasonably well. I don’t know “Amanda Must Not Be Expelled” very well but Mistyfan has provided a detailed synopsis. From this it does look very much to be the case that it is Amanda who has the emotional journey – going from desperately wanting to be expelled to being glad she never managed it, and from hating even being at school to being proud of it and wanting her team to win. Jane and Marty do not obviously seem to change throughout the story, their motives and psychology remain pretty consistent.
  • In “Slave of Form 3B” then again, when we look at the overall story, the sense of who is the hero is rather different from when we look at the details. Tania, who starts off the story weak-willed and very passive indeed, ends up still pretty ‘done-to’ rather than actively bringing about Stacey’s downfall. It is Tania who is acclaimed by her schoolfellows due to her persistence and survivorship, so at least she is changed from being a timid outcast to being someone that all her fellows know and think well of. Stacey, in contrast, has not changed her motivation or aims at all; if anything she has just become more fixed in her ambitions. The arc of Tania’s emotional journey is rather tacked-on in the final episode or two though, which dilutes the effect considerably.

 

Summary

I called the above ‘five key tests’ but of course most of the time it’s hardly necessary to apply a series of tests to determine who is the hero or main character in a story. For more unusual cases like the two stories chosen here, it can however shed some interesting light on aspects of the story.

  • Is Amanda the main character in “Amanda Must Not Be Expelled”, or are Jane and Marty the real heroes? If you just look at the sample episode then Jane and Marty are acting much more like the main characters – they are the ones that the reader sees and hears, and the ones who move the action forward more substantially. But taking the story as a whole, especially when you consider the intention signalled by the story title, it is Amanda who the story is most ‘about’, as the person who has the significant emotional journey.  Perhaps if we re-ran the tests on who we see and hear, and who initates the action, based on a later episode, she would be more obviously marked as the main character?
  • Is Timid Tania, who is the Slave in question, the hero of “The Slave of Form 3B”, or is it wicked Stacey? Stacey is by far the most active and most visible character throughout the story, though there may be other episodes where she does not dominate the action quite as fully as in this sample epsiode. The final part of Tania’s emotional journey feels very tacked on at the end, though there are earlier points in the story where she stands up for herself to some extent. Even taking the story as a whole it does not feel like Tania is ‘really’ the main character; possibly the writer intended her to be so, but had much more fun writing the frankly rather evil Stacey instead!

Tammy 5 November 1983

Tammy cover 5 November 1983

  • Lucky By Name… (artist Juliana Buch, writer Malcolm Shaw)
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Glenda’s Glossy Pages (artist Tony Highmore, writer Pat Mills)
  • Room for Rosie (artist Santiago Hernandez, writer Alison Christie)
  • Remember November… (artist Len Flux, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Alison Christie, sub-writer Ian Mennell)
  • The Dawn Horse – a Pony Tale (artist Hugo D’Adderio, writer Chris Harris)
  • Spell of Fog (artist Tony Coleman, writer Jake Adams)
  • The Crayzees (artist Joe Collins)

This was the last Guy Fawkes issue Tammy ever published, and it is bang on 5 November. Tammy dropped Bessie and Wee Sue in 1982, so they are no longer able to provide any special stories for Guy Fawkes. We have a Guy Fawkes feature, “Remember November…” and in “The Crayzees” we learn Miss T does not like fireworks because they are so noisy. So what is in that mystery parcel she has ordered for 5 November? Joe Collins was always one for incorporating the Fireworks Code into his Tammy cartoons and this one is no exception. It is written all around the border of the full-page cartoon. We also have a recipe for a Bonfire cake in “Tammy’s Tasties”.

Room for Rosie had her Guy Fawkes story in the Halloween issue, but there is some carryover this week. Rosie has taken damage from the bonfire party, so her chances of a home have been reduced. Can Pauline find a way to restore her?

A new Pam of Pond Hill starts. It would have been nice if Jay Over had written a Pam of Pond Hill Guy Fawkes story, which is something Pam never had. Instead, Pam and her friends find themselves being roped into a cookery contest by Jenny Bates, who is using the excursion to see her favourite pop group, the Phonees. Moreover, Jenny has chosen them more for their good nature than their talent for cooking. They decide to go along with it because they are under the impression Jenny’s days are numbered and it’s her dying wish. Actually, it looks suspiciously like Jenny’s playing on their sympathy. Anyway, Jenny’s reason for entering them all in the contest is selfish and not giving any thought to winning for the school – which they don’t have much chance of.

In “Lucky By Name” everyone is now thinking Lucky the foal has some strange power over animals. Snobby Amanda and her father demand the foal be examined by a research institute but Lucky’s owners refuse because the institute has an unsavoury reputation for animal experimentation. Now someone is stealing Lucky, and we strongly suspect Amanda and her father are behind it. Lucky, if you really do have a power over animals, now might be a good time to use it…

This week’s episode of “Glenda’s Glossy Pages” was drawn by Tony Highmore instead of Mario Capaldi. Capaldi must have been unavailable for some reason, but he returns in the next episode. In the story, the power of the glossy pages drives off the police who think Glenda stole the items she mysteriously got from the catalogue, but they warn she hasn’t heard the last of them. Next, it looks like the catalogue is helping Glenda by giving her the confidence to swim against her arch-enemy Hillary. But when Hillary suddenly develops cramp, Glenda finds herself just swimming off instead of helping. What the hell has come over her? Well, it’s not hard to guess, especially as Glenda is at a loss to explain it herself but just can’t help it. We rather suspect the same thing is behind Hillary’s cramp too.

The Button Box gives us more Jackson family history this week. This time it’s a World War II story on how gran’s sister met her husband – all through one of the buttons in the box, of course.

This week’s pony tale is a sad one and based on fact. It discusses the last of the Tarpan horse breed in the Ukraine. Sonja and her father travel to the Ukraine in search of the Tarpan breed – only to find the Tarpans are on the brink of extinction and two parent Tarpans being shot by farmers pushes them over the edge.

In “Spell of Fog” Sally is convinced the mysterious rising mist is Alice Compton’s angry response to the sensationalised, historically inaccurate filming of her persecution for witchcraft. But the filming continues, so the mist intensifies. It’s got everyone scared and has even shattered a window.

Beforehand, we are introduced to Alice’s sad-looking self-portrait, the only one of her pictures to survive her burning at the stake. It seems her “extremely modern, natural style” was too far ahead of its time; people called it “the Devil’s likeness” and it sounds like this is one of the reasons why she was branded a witch. The self-portrait is clearly a plot thread to be followed up, but will it be in a way that tells us anything about the mist?

Tammy 29 October 1983

Tammy cover 29 October 1983

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jinty: Land of No Tears! and The Human Zoo review by Olivia Hicks

Guest post: many thanks to Olivia Hicks for reviewing the Rebellion reprint edition of Land of No Tears and The Human Zoo

I have a somewhat fond, nostalgic relationship with Jinty, considering how little of it I have read. I had never (prior to this volume) read a complete Jinty story, and the real reason that Jinty occupies such a place in my heart is because it was the favourite comic of my mum, back when she was buying comics. So I was excited to see Jinty back in print, even if, on paper, neither of the stories particularly appealed to me. Land of No Tears! Uhm, ok. The Human Zoo? If we must. This was not, on the surface, the bizarre cruel science fiction that Jinty, through word of mouth and internet blog culture, had been distilled into for me. I wanted a Worlds Apart reprinting!

I had read about half of Land of No Tears! in the British Library, and had found it semi-engaging. The Human Zoo I had deliberately avoided. From the brief blurbs I had read, I had no interest in the story. So I settled down with my copy of the new Rebellion reprint, with my expectations quite muted. Warning: major spoilers for both stories follow (although I assume most of you have either read the stories or are aware of the plot!).

Land of No Tears! is written by Pat Mills and has art by Guy Peeters, and is about Cassy Shaw. She was born with one leg shorter than the other, and she uses her disability to manipulate those around her.  One day, whilst undergoing an operation to lengthen her leg (which Cassy is dreading, because she will no longer be able to use her disability to get what she wants), the anaesthesia somehow sends her through time to a future where humanity has achieved physical perfection and a lack of emotion, and those like Cassy (with Grade One Deformities) are forced to work as slaves for the benefit of the Alphas.

The story is in many ways quite typical; there is, of course, a mystery to be solved (what is the secret of Cassy’s new friend Miranda, and her mother), a lesson to be learned (with hard work you can overcome), and a problem which can, conveniently, be solved with sports; in this case, winning a sports championship will result in the complete overhaul of an entire society’s social structure! Cassy is an interesting main character because she resists the ‘victim-heroine’ coding of many girls’ comics characters. In fact, at the beginning, Mills goes out of the way to make her cynical and quite unsympathetic. This is, of course, to make her character arc more striking; the selfish, cynical, bratty lone wolf has to become an inspirational team leader and motivator who works and trains hard, and thus redeems herself. I’ve read quite a few girls’ comics stories now where villainous characters are shown using disability as a cover for their actions, so there seems to be a thread of problematic treatment of disability running throughout these comics, which Land of No Tears! falls into. The idea of a society divided by physical and emotional ability is a solid science fiction trope, but I think it is telling that the only disabilities Mills shows are: wearing glasses, being overweight and having a bald patch. The comic really skirts over disability (apart from in the beginning, when we see Cassy monopolising it for her own benefit; something which Teresa May and her cronies in the Department of Work and Pensions already think is widespread). ‘But Olivia!’ you say, ‘It’s a comic from the 1970s, how in depth can it be?’ Well, when you consider what Malcom Shaw achieves with the topic of animals rights in the accompanying tale, I think it’s fair to critique Mills for not really engaging with how society demonises disability.

Upon rereading (and finishing) Land of No Tears! in this collection, my favourite bit was definitely the passage where we see how Miranda lost her hair. The image of the robot nurse singing to the screaming baby who is being burned was pretty affecting and grim, and definitely will stay with me. It was an excellent example of horror being utilised in girls’ comics.

I also enjoyed the character arc of Perfecta. Her battle with those dreaded emotions was quite well done. I felt the ending, where Perfecta damaged her spine was a bit too literal and on the nose as punishment for her actions within the text. I also felt that the central mystery of Miranda and her mother was quite an easy one to solve, but then I’m in my mid-twenties, so definitely not the target audience of a youngster reading it week to week!

Whilst I enjoyed both stories, I definitely preferred The Human Zoo to Land of No Tears! This one was a cracker! Written by Shaw, with art again by Peeters, The Human Zoo is about twins Shona and Jenny, who are abducted by aliens. Jenny is experimented on in an allegory of animal testing, and Shona is sent to a zoo with some other captives. There is more than a little ‘Planet of the Apes’ vibe in this comic, and the way Shaw explored human nature in this story was exceptional. At one point Shona becomes a pet for alien girl Tamsha, but is sent back to the zoo for being too rebellious. Tamsha then replaces her with a more ‘docile’ human, another school girl who is more than happy to ‘act the pet’ in order to secure a cushy life. Another excellent scene was when the aliens starve the humans in order have the equivalent of a Chimpanzee’s Tea Party. Shaw’s central message, that we ‘dehumanize’ animals in order to profit off them and entertain ourselves, was, yes, preachy, but he dramatized it so skilfully that it worked. He also showed tension well, by allowing us to understand both the aliens and the humans, but never letting them understand each other.

The Human Zoo crammed quite a lot into its sixty pages: animal testing, animals rights activists, the morality of having pets, the morality of zoos, religion, forgiveness; all this and more gets thrown into the blender, and some of the threads (such as when Shona inadvertently becomes a god to the humans who have escaped captivity) are a little underdeveloped. There’s also a suggestion that the aliens are responsible for such mysterious mass disappearances as the Mary Celeste, which was interesting but I would have liked worked out just a bit more.

Both stories end with a ‘was it a dream….?’ resolution. In Land of No Tears!, Cassy learns from her mistakes and takes her lessons forward into her old life. However, much more poignantly, Shaw has Shona and Jenny completely forget their adventures, erasing their character growth and dooming them to continue in their ways. I’m a bit of a Shaw fan, as this review evidences!

To conclude, I was sceptical at first about the two stories, but ended up thoroughly enjoying them: I think this tells us that girls’ comics are far more than the sum of their plot synopsises! Malcolm Shaw was a top tier talent; I’m glad that the Rebellion reprints are reintroducing people to his work. The volume itself is quite beautiful, and the use of blue and yellow spot colouring on the back cover is effective (although I wish they had kept the original trippy colours for the cover of Jinty #1). My minor gripe is that it towers over both my 2000 AD and Misty trade paper backs. The sight of a single Jinty volume peeking over all the others irritated me enough that I had to relocate Jinty and Misty to a new section of my bookshelf. Such is the price of bookshelf perfection.

Tammy & Sandie 26 January 1974

Tammy 26 January 1974

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Two-Faced Teesha (artist José Casanovas) – final episode
  • School for Snobs (artist J Badesa, artist John Wagner)
  • Ballerina in Blue Jeans (artist Escandell)
  • Wee Sue (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Little Lady Jane
  • The Chain Gang Champions (writer Gerry Finley-Day?)
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Granny’s Town (artist Douglas Perry, writer Pat Mills)

 

Here we go with an entry on the latest addition to my collection. I wonder if the grey paint or whatever it is that got spattered on the cover actually adds some character to it.

Tammy is quite a few weeks into her merger with Sandie. Although the Cover Girls were touted as Tammy and June (from the June merger) by the 1980s, their origins can be traced to the Sandie merger in 1973.

Two-Faced Teesha, one of the stories that started with the merger, ends this week. Two-Faced Teesha finds her dad does not believe her when she says she is trying to turn over a new leaf, so she has one final round of spite before the girl she targeted in particular helps her to convince him.

Miss Bigger gets an ally in her bullying of Wee Sue – new girl Sophie Scandel-monger. The name says it all, as do Sophie’s repulsive, weasel-like looks. But Sophie’s scheme against Wee Sue backfires so much that she gets a huge ticking off from Miss Bigger. That’s the end of that evil alliance, thank goodness.

Uncle Angus stoops to whole new heights (or should that be lows?) in scrounging to save money. This time it’s at the cinema, much to the embarrassment of Jeannie and her aunt. And when Uncle Angus sets up his own cinema where he passes off his home movies as a blockbuster movie, Aunt Martha is so embarrassed she takes to her bed. However, once the audience catches on to what a cheap cheat Uncle Angus’ cinema is, they pelt him with his own vegetables from his garden.

School for Snobs is a special school designed to cure girls of snobbery. The headmistress is Hermione Snoot, who wears a nightie and slippers with a mortar board, is seldom seen without a cigarette, and talks Cockney. This week Hermione’s in charge of curing a practical joker. I’m not quite sure what that has to do with snobbery, but turning the tables on the girl with practical jokes until she’s cured is right up Hermione’s street. After all, she pretty much does that with every snob every week.

“The Chain Gang Champions” are kidnapped athletes. The Duchess subjects them to training methods that are as bizarre as they are sadistic. This week it’s finish gruelling cross-country training runs in record time – with ever-shortening time periods with each run – or the Duchess will feed her old enemy, the Minister for Sport, to a hungry bear!

As if Pickering weren’t bad enough, Molly has a new enemy plotting her downfall. It is guest Cynthia Swingleton, who is after her fiancée’s money. Molly’s rumbled Cynthia’s game, so now she’s is trying to frame Molly for stealing!

“Ballerina in Blue Jeans” impresses her ballet school with her dancing. Unfortunately her streetwise ways, like turning up at ballet school in a leather jacket and impersonating a motorbike rider as a demonstration of mime, have the teachers just about fainting. It’s not endearing her to the pupils either, and she has one spiteful enemy already. Well, whoever heard of a pupil in a ballet school serial who didn’t have one?

“Granny’s Town” appears to be a take on ageism, but a very sinister one. “Her Ladyship” has become Mayoress of a retirement spot, Crone-on-Sea. She is introducing new measures that look suspiciously like they are striking at the young people of the town and putting old people on top. This week she has the police throwing young people in the nick for no crime other than they are not carrying one of Her Ladyship’s flags, unlike the elderly people. “It’s the orders of the new mayoress!” Gee, whatever happened to human rights in this town?