For the 1977 issue in our Tammy June round, it just has to be the Jubilee issue, seeing as the Queen’s Jubilee is topical this year. For the commemorations, Tammy takes a flashback look at the Coronation, and Wee Sue and Bessie both plan Jubilee pageants but run into obstacles that threaten to derail everything. It takes a bit of quick-thinking, determination and strokes of luck before things work out happily. The Bessie Bunter episode looks like it was a reprint, with a bit of new text bodged in to give it the Jubilee context.
The Crown Jewels cover also adds the theme of jewels to the issue, which carries on in the Strange Story, “The Caliph’s Jewels”, in which the Storyteller retells the Dutch folktale of The Lady of Stavoren, a cautionary tale about treating food with respect. So it’s not about jewels, then? The arrogant Lady of Stavoren discovers too late that food becomes as precious as jewels when you face starvation. There are over 27 versions of the tale. The Tammy version appears below. It is illustrated by Hugo D’Adderio, whose artwork is always popular.
The new story this week, “Time Trap!”, is a gem too. Tammy takes on the subject of reincarnation and hypnotic regression, which is a novel thing for her to do. Another gem, now on its penultimate episode, is “Witch Hazel”, which looks like it was inspired by Catweazle. A 16th century apprentice witch comes to the 20th century to learn witchcraft, but she doesn’t understand that witchcraft is not exactly on the curriculum of 20th century schools, nor can she grasp how the 20th century works. Another jewel in Tammy’s crown is the hugely popular “Babe of St. Woods”, starring a gangster’s daughter who uses all her gangster know-how to get herself and her friends out of all sorts of scrapes at boarding school. And “What’s Wrong with Rhona?” is a sparkler. Rhona has been acting very strangely ever since she picked up a strange doll. Things hit their nadir this week when her odd behaviour makes her steal a calculator, and now the police are on her doorstep! Help, is she on her way to juvenile court?
The Bella story takes a surprise turn this week. Bella is giving us her origin, as told to her American Indian friend Oona Tall Tree. She tells Oona (and us) how she started on gymnastics before her orphaning (which doesn’t quite fit her first story on how she discovered gymnastics while window-cleaning for Jed and Gert) and how she lost her parents. It’s a surprise to see the flashback shows Bella did not have her trademark pigtails or overalls back then.
The latest Molly story, the “Comic Capers”, is Molly’s funniest story ever. It takes the unusual twist of parodying itself through a satire of Stanton Hall and its staff, which Pickering submits to a magazine, and it is drawn by a comical artist (John Johnston), who has been doing a number of Wee Sues of late. Sadly, it ends this week, and Molly will be back to business as usual with her usual artist next week.
There has also been a notable change in the artwork of Wee Sue. It used to be an artist doing a long stint (Mario Capaldi, John Richardson), but now there is a trend towards more variety of art work in her strip; artwork from John Johnston and Richard Neillands is now appearing. This trend in a variety of Wee Sue artwork would continue, with Hugh Thornton-Jones, Mike White, Jim Eldridge and Robert MacGillivray added to the mix.
In this issue, two stories are clearly on their penultimate episodes: “Come Into My Parlour” and “Land of No Tears”.
In the former, Mother Heggerty’s spell forces Jody to set fire to the Kings’ store. But she’s been caught in the act. She could be facing criminal charges, but the blurb for next week says fire will strike at something else other than the store. Maybe someone is going to burn the old witch at the stake or something?
In the latter, Cassy comes close to losing the vital swimming marathon the Gamma Girls need to win because of a forced bargain with the ruthless Perfecta. Fortunately Perfecta injures herself from over-exertion in the race and drops out, freeing Cassy from all that and enabling her to catch up in the nick of time. Everyone is cheering her on, much to the villainous Hive Inspector’s chagrin. His response to secret helper Miss Norm’s delight in Cassy catching up – “What do you mean, Miss Norm? It’s a disgrace!” – cracks me up every time. Now Cassy is duking out the final length with two others and it’s so close. Everyone except the Hive Inspector and Perfecta is on the edge of their seats to see if Cassy will win.
“Two Mothers for Maggie” looks like it could be nearing its end as well. Mum is critically ill. It looks like the crisis has actually aroused a bit of conscience in Maggie’s horrible stepfather, but he’s not treating Maggie any better because of it.
A new story starts, “Paula’s Puppets”. Paula Richards is a spoiled, selfish girl whose rocky road to redemption starts when her father’s toy factory burns down and he is arrested for it. Her life turns upside-down while he protests his innocence. We believe him though nobody else does, but we know the poor bloke’s going to go down for it. Meanwhile, Paula finds some weird puppets at the burned-out factory, which seem to possess some kind of power.
People should really watch what they say with Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag around. Two pitying women whisper what an “absolute dragon” poor Jenny’s got for an aunt and she needs a knight in shining armour. Henrietta obliges, but she has taken it a bit literally and hijinks ensue. But of course it sorts out the old dragon.
Ella is not making much progress with her training for the waterskiing event she wants to win for her family, nor with convincing others she was not to blame for her cousin Clem’s accident. Then Ella makes progress with something else – finding the girl who really caused Clem’s accident. But when she confronts the girl, the miscreant makes it clear she is not going to own up and clear Ella’s name.
Alley Cat gets freebies from the sausage factory, but trust Spotty Muchloot to make trouble. Fortunately it all turns to the advantage of the factory and Alley Cat is rewarded, much to Spotty’s consternation.
Phil is trying to work out how break into Hardacre House, where she believes Carol is being held prisoner. It’s still very odd that Carol’s family clam up about it. It gets even odder when Phil learns Hardacre House and its owners are very mysterious, and she does not like the look of them when she sees them. After an accident with a tractor she is finally inside. The blurb for next week hints she will not like the look of what she finds there either.
Skateboarding is the only thing that gives Concrete Surfer Jean Everidge the upper hand over her smarmy cousin Carol. Jean’s about to start her new school with Carol, but the leadup to it is not going well, and Jean senses Carol is behind it.
Jody has become evil thanks to an additional spell from the witch Mother Heggerty. She now believes she is capable of anything, regardless of how terrible it is, and is loving every minute of it. How is she going to break free of Mother Heggerty’s power when right now she doesn’t even want to?
Cassy gets even more of a taste of how totalitarian this Land of No Tears is. She learns the Hive Inspector, who’s about to pay a visit, has powers to take you away: “No one knows where to, but you never return!” Shades of the Gestapo! Miranda is terrified she will meet this fate if the Inspector finds out she is secretly seeing her mother, and she breaks off with Cassy. Meanwhile, the ruthless Perfecta breaks off with her own friend to train every waking hour for the Golden Girl Award. Cassy is shocked to see the former bosom pals “walking away from each other like robots!”
Ella bravely sets out to learn to waterski to win the competition for Clem, in the face of everyone who’s against her because they think she deliberately caused Clem’s accident. But her first attempt at waterskiing is such a disaster she’s lucky she didn’t hurt herself.
The same can also be said for sneaky cousin Rodney when he steals Katie’s roller skates to overtake her in the “Race for a Fortune”. But he soon finds he’s nowhere near as good on them as she is. He goes careering down a hill and lands on the back of a rodeo steer with her! Roller skating is back in the hands of the expert by the end of the episode. Thanks to his little stunt she has taken the lead again, and she’s gotten a lot of money out of it as well.
In “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!”, a thief breaks into the school, his first attempt at crime. But his remark that he could become the world’s leading cat burglar really is asking for it with Henrietta around, especially when she’s the first thing he tries to steal. Needless to say, his first attempt at crime is his last by the end of the episode.
In the Gypsy Rose story, Susanna is given a snowstorm and finds it has a tale to tell, with each instalment appearing every time she shakes it. The trouble is, the tale is scaring her to death. Gypsy Rose tells Susanna that she must either follow it through to know how the tale ended or put the snowstorm away. Susanna decides to follow through because she must know (not to mention us readers) what the ending is, but what will the final shake of the snowstorm reveal?
Maggie’s sleazy stepfather shows what an abuser he is when he gets so mad he locks her in the coal shed without food or water. Then he refuses to let her see her TV debut, so she has to go to a TV shop in pouring rain to see it. Maggie has a good mind to tell Miss Keyes about the abuse, but she’s staying quiet because Mum doesn’t want word to get around.
Alley Cat is back. Arch-enemy Spotty Muchloot picks on him for first aid practice, and now poor Alley Cat looks like an oversized cocoon. But can he still turn things around?
Phil finds out the girl she saw being bundled off in the middle of the night is named Carol, and her mother is clearly not telling the truth about things. Phil manages to wheedle Carol’s current address out of the mother, enabling her to write to Carol. Carol’s reply is a coded message for help. The plot thickens!
This is Jinty’s first issue for 1978. It’s not her New Year issue, which took the odd turn of being on the last day of the old year 1977, but there are still New Year themes. We also get a delightful feature about Mark Hamill of Star Wars.
Jinty starts her first story for 1978, “Waking Nightmare”. The nightmare begins when Phil Carey is woken up by toothache and sees a girl being dragged off in the middle of the night. Her parents don’t believe her, and at the house where Phil saw the girl being taken, the mother denies everything – but she does make odd remarks about a secret and trouble she hoped to leave behind. We’re suspicious already.
Sue’s new year’s resolution is to be extra-nice to people, and she urges her fun-bag to hold her to it. But she soon finds her excessive niceness is turning her into a nuisance and now she’s in trouble with a lot of people. We suggest your resolution should just be yourself, Sue.
On the subject of niceness, Mother Heggerty has found the Saxtons and wants revenge on them, but she finds her slave Jody is too nice for that. So she casts an additional spell to make Jody evil. Now why the silly old witch couldn’t have picked an evil girl like Stacey from Jinty’s Slave of Form 3B in the first place we’ll never know, but we’re deeply worried. The spell is bound to make Jody far more evil than any genuinely bad girl we’ve seen in Jinty.
In the Land of No Tears, the cold-hearted residents get a real surprise when the “reject” Gamma Girls beat the odds and are through to the finals of the Golden Girl Award. It should be a victory celebration for Cassy, but security have put the damper on everything by saying they will be sending the Hive Inspector over to make enquiries. And judging from the way Miranda’s mystery mother is reacting, this Inspector is kind of like the Gestapo.
In part two of “Darling Clementine”, Clementine (Clem) is in a coma after some horrible girl knocks her into the river. Worse, her cousin Ella is being accused of it instead, and everyone, including her own Uncle, turns against her. Poor Ella is not even allowed to visit Clem in hospital. Not knowing what else to do, Ella bravely decides to train herself up for the water-ski event that Clem was going to enter.
“Race for a Fortune” takes a spooky turn, but a hilarious one. Katie thinks her cousins’ latest trick is to play Roman ghosts on her at an old barn. So when a pair of glowing Romans does appear, she thinks it’s a huge joke and plays along with it. But she learns later that the glowing Romans weren’t her cousins. In fact, they scared those cheating cousins off. Unfortunately, not right back to the beginning of the race.
The strife over “Two Mothers for Maggie” takes a very bad turn this week. Mum forbade Maggie to go to Miss Keyes’ party, where she could be on the rise as a star. Maggie goes there anyway and soon she is on the rise after saving Miss Keyes’ dog. Then Mum comes along in a terrible temper and drags her out in front of everyone. How embarrassing! And it’s not over. Poor Maggie has to face the wrath of her unfit guardian stepfather next week.
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.
This is the fifth-to-last issue of Jinty. The repeats to fill the dying comic are really telling now – we get not one but two reprints of old Gypsy Rose stories. The repeat of the 7-part “Monday’s Child” and so forth strip continues with “Wednesday’s Child”, who’s full of woe. In this case it’s a girl who is always grumbling, but she eventually realises how selfish and petty it is, and the final panel shows her becoming more positive.
In “Pam of Pond Hill”, Tessie Bradshaw has run off to the canal in search of the girl she drove off with her bullying. Tessie has an accident there and is hospitalised. The story is really realistic about bullying when it reveals the reasons why Tessie bullies: jealousy, sensivity about her weight, too much responsibility at home, absent mother and overtime father. Dad decides to remarry in the hope it will help, but Tessie isn’t reacting well to it. And she’s also worried her classmates won’t forgive her for bullying although it put her life in danger.
Tansy tries being a newshound, but when she tries to report news on Jubilee Street she comes up empty and decides nothing ever happens there. She completely fails to notice the things that get reported in the local newspaper later on.
Sir Roger has a dream that Gaye will be hit by a car. As ghost dreams always come true, he is going to all sorts of lengths to protect her, which is causing all sorts of hijinks. In the end, Gaye does get hit by a car – but it’s only a pedal car.
The text story discusses how fashions go in cycles. But things go a bit far when a fashion designer from the future takes a trip to the present for ideas on how to reinvent 20th century fashions for her own time. Sadly, the time period she came from is one that never came to pass: the Queen Diana period. Perhaps it did in an alternate timeline.
The last remaining Jinty serials “The Bow Street Runner” and “Badgered Belinda” continue. In the former, tricks from nasty Louise mess Beth up on cross-country. At least Beth realises it was Louise who was reponsible and will be on the lookout for her in future. In the latter, Squire Blackmore brings some old hunting prints to the school and nobody seems upset by them except Belinda – especially at the one showing badger digging. The squire’s also having the school setting up vermin traps, which is another concern for Belinda in minding the badgers. What’s more, looking after those badgers is causing Belinda to lose sleep and it’s taking its toll.
Miss Make-Believe (artist “B. Jackson”) – first episode
Upsy Downsy Mascot – feature
Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters)
In this issue, Jinty publishes the results of a pet loves and hates competition, and there appears to be more emphasis on the hates. Pet peeves included squeaky chalk, mushy peas, bullies, vandalism, spiders, litter, glib expressions and coat hangers. Some of the replies about pet peeves were put into verse, which was very imaginative.
As we’ve got a pet peeve theme going, let’s look at other peeves in the issue.
In “Pandora’s Box”, everyone, including the headmistress, is peeved with Pandora for jumping queue on the audition for “Alice in Jazzland” when she had no right to even enter it. The girls have turned cold towards her. She uses a spell for “melting hearts of ice” to make them nice to her again. Pandora would have been better to cast that spell on herself; she had little regard for her cat Scruffy being peeved at having to sit on ice blocks and shivering while she cast the spell. Now poor Scruffy has caught a bad chill because of it.
In “Combing Her Golden Hair”, Gran’s peeves are vanity and Tamsin trying to swim. So Gran goes absolutely bonkers when Tasmin tries to swim in the new pool at a classmate’s party. Tamsin’s also suspicious at gran’s claims she isn’t allowed to swim because chlorine’s bad for her asthma, especially as there is no evidence to support this and Gran won’t even allow a doctor to look into it. So Tasmin’s delighted when a new teacher demands medical certification before any pupil can be excused swimming. Now gran’s claims will be put to the test.
Spotty Muchloot’s pet peeve, as always, is Alley Cat. He goes to extreme lengths to keep Alley Car out of his house and away from his grub while his folks are away, but Alley Cat turns the tables, as usual.
We are informed that “Bizzie Bet and the Easies” will not appear next week. This week, Bizzie Bet and Kate Easie’s peeve is a school bully named Erica and both agree that something’s got to be done about her. They do it themselves – without realising – with Erica constantly getting on the wrong end of their respective Bizzie and Easie ways. Erica emerges bruised, battered, drenched, and given the fright of her life. And after all that, when they see the state Erica’s in, they think someone else has saved them the job of sorting her out.
In “Miss Make-Believe”, the sequel to “Daughter of Dreams”, shy Sally Carter is peeved that everyone is treating her as courageous when she is not. It was her imaginary friend Pauline, come to life, who was behind it all, by entering Sally for a bravery-testing contest at Playne Towers. The test? A six-month safari. Meanwhile, Pauline discovers the servants are up to no good. Could this be the real test?
In “Village of Fame”, Sue’s peeves are Mr Grand and her inability to prove he’s up to no good in the name of TV ratings. This week, teacher Miss Pebblestone is accused of accidentally starting a fire at school. The evidence looks black against her, though Sue and Mandy suspect Mr Grand faked it, and poor Miss Pebblestone is forced to leave the village. Now Sue’s brother Jason goes missing, and Sue and Mandy suspect Mr Grand engineered it for yet more ratings.
In “Almost Human”, Xenia’s peeve is her alien touch, which is deadly to Earth life, so she can’t touch anything living on Earth. Some gypsies discover Xenia’s secret and are willing to let her stay after she saved them from a poisonous snake. But Xenia goes on the run again because of her alien touch. We are informed a thunderstrom is going to have “extraordinary effects” next week. Will this be good or bad for Xenia?
“Mike and Terry” must be peeved they failed to stop the Shadow again. He’s also after an escaped convict – who turns up in Mike and Terry’s car! The common denominator is a theatre show from 1976: the Shadow is kidnapping everyone involved in it. But why? Let’s hope the escaped convict can shed some light on the matter.
Mainstay Jinty artist Phil Gascoine takes a holiday this issue, but he’s back next week with “Waves of Fear”. From the looks of the blurb, the protagonist is going to have worse things than peeves; she’s on “the crest of a wave…that was suddenly to smash her life into a thousand, terrifying pieces!”.
A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine) – final episode
Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters)
Pining for Something New? – craft feature
We continue our September theme with some September Jinty issues. This one from 8 September 1979 is a competition issue, with five stereo record players up for grabs as the grand prizes.
It’s the final episode of “A Girl Called Gulliver”. The Lilliputians take their leave of Gwenny, saying they’ve found a new home. Sadly, it was a white lie. The Lilliputians have realised the responsibility of looking after them was too heavy for Gwenny, so they will continue wandering on their own. Dad Lilliput is confident they will find a home soon anyway. Its replacement next week is “Miss Make-Believe”, a sequel to “Daughter of Dreams”.
In “Almost Human”, Xenia has fallen in with some friendly gypsy children, but her inability to touch them because her alien touch is deadly to Earth life is causing misunderstandings. Plus, she gets a taste of human prejudice against gypsies. She’s still with the gypsies, trudging onwards and hoping things will get better.
In “Village of Fame”, Mandy helps her uncle Mr Grand with a trick on Sue Parker, but then he reneges on her, refusing to keep his end of the bargain. Now Mandy wants revenge and turns to Sue, but after that trick Mandy pulled, Sue is in no mood to be any ally with her. Mr Grand also has plans for teacher Miss Pebblestone – and it looks like making sure she’s blamed when the school gets partially burned down.
Bizzie Bet tries to clean up the Easies’ garden, which the loafers have left to turn into a jungle. But then it has to be left intact after rare flora and fauna are discovered there. The Easies win again.
The trail of the Shadow, a criminal mastermind, has led Mike and Terry to a funfair, where the Shadow has plans to kidnap a trick cyclist named Dirk Dare (now what can he want with a trick cyclist?). Some very amusing hijinks ensue at the fair as Terry and Mike outwit the Shadow’s thugs. To make things even more complicated, Mike and Terry discover Dirk has swapped places with the human cannonball. Now, the Shadow doesn’t know about the switch, so could this lead to his thugs grabbing the wrong man?
Alley Cat’s annoyed to find Spotty Muchloot having a picnic all to himself, but Spotty has come prepared for any food snatching from Alley Cat. In the end, though, it backfires on Spotty and Alley Cat gets Spotty’s grub.
In “Combing Her Golden Hair”, Tamsin is surprised when Gran allows her to go to a party. But Gran won’t allow a party dress (no money, she says). Tamsin has to go in school uniform and still wear her hair in those awful plaits Gran always tells her to wear. Gran’s got a real thing about vanity, but this week she goes too far. She finds Tasmin combing her hair with that strange silver comb and goes so mad she almost cuts Tamsin’s hair off. Tamsin’s friend Ellen steps in to pretty her up for the party, and that strange comb is taking effect again. Now it is tempting Tamsin to go swimming, something her gran has always banned.
In “Pandora’s Box”, Pandora wins the audition for “Alice in Jazzland”, and for once she’s using stuff she’s learned instead of taking shortcuts with that box of witchcraft. But when she plans a surprise party to celebrate, it’s back to the box to get it set up quick and easy.
A lightweight humour strip that ran in Jinty in 1979. The premise is Bet Bizzel, known as “Bizzie Bet” who’s such a bundle of energy and always working hard, versus her bone-idle friends, the Easies. Each week Bizzie Bet is always coming up with bright schemes to show the Easies the meaning of work and curing them of their lazy ways. But things always backfire on Bet eventually and the Easies win in the end. Such a premise wouldn’t have been out of place in a funnies comic like Buster or Whizzer & Chips. Imagine if this strip was drawn by one of their artists!
The Easies are also very inventive, coming up with their own creative ways of doing things – the very quick and laid back way, of course, but it does save a lot of labour and turns out well. You do have to hand it to them. The fact that sloth always wins in this story is what gives the story its humour. It’s a strip the lazy Garfield the cat would love.
Readers must have had a sneaking sympathy for the Easies. You do wish Bet would stop shoving her oar in all the time, stop trying to force hard work on the Easies, and let them be. Besides, doing all this extra work for Easies is just making Bet working far harder than she needs to and doing everything for the Easies is really not encouraging them to do things for themselves. In fact, if Bet took a leaf out of the Easies’ book and took things easy now and then, life would be easier for her. And she wouldn’t be the one doing all the work all the time, as her holiday dice game below proves. But maybe she can’t take it easy any more than the Easies could turn into balls of energy.
In the end Bizzie Bet and the Easies come to an arrangement where they agree to disagree, accept each other for what they are, and just be friends. It’s a very good, definitive ending. It did not end on a regular episode, which is very satisfying, and readers would have been very pleased with how it concluded.
Bizzie Bet had a fair run at 27 episodes. But in comparison to the longer-running “Jinx from St Jonah’s”, “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” or “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” humour strips in Jinty, it didn’t have much staying power. It may have been a popularity issue, and this could well have been the case. Though the strip is fun, it doesn’t feel as strong, engaging or memorable as, say, “The Jinx from St Jonah’s” and is one of Jinty’s more forgettable strips.
The artwork could have been the problem. A premise like this requires an artist who can really draw exaggerated, stylised cartoony humour, but Richard Neillands is not one of them. His style is for lightweight or sports stories but he can’t really pull off exaggerated comedy or make anyone laugh with his artwork. An artist like Robert MacGillivray or even a Buster-type artist is what’s required here.
Or it could simply be that Bizzie Bet was simply axed to help make way for “Pam of Pond Hill” and “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost”, both of which started shortly afterwards.
Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie) – last episode
The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
Bonnie’s Butler (artist Richard Neillands)
Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
A Sandie Pop Portrait – Dave Cassidy (artist Bob Gifford)
The cover competition offers a chance to win a ‘fabulous electric sewing machine’, though I think that a battery-powered machine probably won’t get you very far through sewing anything other than the dolls clothes mentioned in the competition blurb.
Norah loses her home twice over in this episode – after an emotional visit to see her father, she stays overnight in her old house, but in the morning she is turfed out by a new family who have just rented the place. On returning to her cousin’s house she isn’t allowed back in there either! As is so often the way, though, the horrible relatives have played a mean trick too far – Norah has to stay in her uncle’s clothing factory overnight, and of course she finds a document that shows pretty clearly that the culprit who stole the money that her dad was blamed for – was probably her uncle all along!
Orphan Beth Williams is well and truly in the clutches of the evil sorcerer Caspar, along with three other hard-done-by girls. It seems that Caspar’s act is ‘so dangerous he’d never get anyone to volunteer. That’s why he has to have slaves.’ Beth is a spirited girl who is keen to run away at the first opportunity, but I suspect it won’t be as easy as that.
It’s the last episode of “Our Big BIG Secret” – a story post will be forthcoming.
At the end of the previous issue’s “The School of No Escape”, Dale was pushed over a cliff. Luckily she falls onto a ledge, which though small is enough to save her. The next morning, Miss Voor thinks that her last obstacle is out of the way and so she summons all her specially-chosen pupils to her side. They are all to write farewell letters to their parents and then to follow Miss Voor to Hangman’s Copse – which is where they meet up with the exhausted Dale, who has crawled up the cliff face to seek help.
This week’s episode of “Bonnie’s Butler” is drawn by Richard Neillands instead of regular artist Julio Bosch.