Tag Archives: Robert MacGillivray

Tammy 4 August 1979

Cover artist: John Richardson

Bella (artist John Armstrong)

The Stand-in (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)

Proud as Punch (artist Tony Coleman)

The Happiest Days (artist Mario Capaldi)

Bessie Bunter (artist Arthur Martin)

Molly Mills and the Charleston Contest (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – first episode

Pictures from the Past (artist Audrey Fawley) – Strange Story

Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)

The Wolf at Our Door (artist Bob Harvey)

Edie’s Hobbyhorse: Why Not Make a Shell Collage – feature 

For 1979 in our Tammy August month round, there is a particular reason for profiling this August issue. At times, Tammy made in-jokes about the Tammy team, and the cover makes reference to comic book artist Mario Capaldi coming from a family of ice-cream vendors. Is the ice-cream man on the cover Mario Capaldi? Maybe someone can enlighten us. At any rate, there is a resemblance to Mario the ice-cream man, drawn by Capaldi himself, in a “Life’s a Ball for Nadine” episode. The episode appeared Jinty 27 December 1980.

The cover also brings a seaside flavour to the issue. This ties in with the craft feature on the back cover (making a shell collage) and the Wee Sue story. Miss Bigger informs the class that “an important coastal company have appointed me as their chairman!” Translation: she’s taken an extra job as a deckchair attendant. Too bad for her Wee Sue was taking a holiday at the same beach. Hijinks ensue, of course, but things end happily for them both. Two serials, “Proud as Punch” and “The Stand-in”, also tie in with the seaside/holiday theme. Perhaps they were published for the very purpose.

We mentioned Mario Capaldi a moment ago, and his current Tammy serial is “The Happiest Days”. It’s an evil influence story, except it’s played for laughs instead of scares, which makes it different. A frightful portrait of a school founder casts such a pall over a school it’s the most miserable school in Britain. The school is due to close because of falling numbers, but how to recruit more pupils with that portrait around?

Molly Mills’ new story is actually the second Molly story titled “The Charleston Contest”. The first appeared in the Thewenetti era. In the first, Molly enters a Charleston Contest to win money for her family (with Betty and Kitty playing dirty tricks, but there’s a last minute surprise save from Pickering). This time, Molly’s doing the Charleston Contest for the crippled Miss Claire.

Bessie’s also being a performer this week, in honour of Stackers’ birthday. Her conjuring act is a real performance, with some things not going quite right, but in the end she pulls one out of her hat. Of course her best trick is making food disappear. 

The Bob Harvey story, “A Wolf at Our Door”, now hits its climax. Jenny discovers who is trying to help her with the wolf pack – the aristocratic Rowena Rufley – and why. It’s because of an ancient prophecy. And now it looks like the prophecy is coming true. 

This week’s Strange Story (below) has a modern photographer meet a Victorian one. The artwork is by the ever-popular Audrey Fawley.

Bella is being fostered by the rich Courtney-Pikes, and it’s nice to see her being spoiled and loved for a change. But when they try to turn her into a lady…well, Eliza Doolittle had nothing on Bella, especially as she can’t resist any opportunity to break into gymnastics!

Tammy and June 31 August 1974

Cover artist: John Richardson

Bella at the Bar (artist John Armstrong, writer Jenny McDade)

Swimmer Slave of Mrs. Squall (artist Douglas Perry, writer Gerry Finley-Day?) – final episode

Sadie in the Sticks (artist Juliana Buch)

Wheels of Fate (artist John Armstrong) – Strange Story

Bessie Bunter (artist Arthur Martin)

Jeannie and her Uncle Meanie (artist Robert MacGillivray)

Wee Sue (artist Mario Capaldi)

Cat Stevens – feature

No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

Eva’s Evil Eye (artist John Richardson, writer John Wagner) 

In the 1974 issue in our Tammy August month round, three of the four serials (Bella, Sadie and Eva) that began in the Tammy and June merger issue are now on their penultimate episodes, and the fourth (“Swimmer Slave of Mrs. Squall”) finishes. That means readers will soon have a huge lineup of new stories to look forward to. It’s always great to see a big lineup of stories begin in one issue. 

On the cover, one of the Cover Girls is outbouncing kangaroos with her pogo stick. But the cover’s let down a bit by how cardboard the kangaroos look, as if a kid drew them. Surely John Richardson can draw far better kangas than that? 

Ghost stories in the Strange Stories are by no means unusual, but the ghost certainly is – a ghost lorry. It starts haunting Gail Hawkins when she holidays in a village where heavy traffic has been diverted after a fatal lorry accident. But why is it haunting Gail, and why is a voice telling her to get the hell out? 

You would think teachers would have no problem with pupils stopping at a cafe for a coffee on the way home from school, would you? Not when the teacher’s Miss Bigger, who makes a big fuss over such a trivial thing – Sue and Co stopping for some coffee before starting homework, and turns it into yet another weekly round of Miss Bigger trouble for Sue to sort out. 

Molly’s caught up in one of the complex mysteries she’s ever tackled, and the more she probes it, the more questions it raises than answers: a wounded war pilot whose face is bandaged, and he won’t speak or give his name; a community that clams up about him; a strange couple have taken over his old home, Poppy Farm, and try to hold him prisoner, as they have done with his wife Emily for years; a boy says Poppy Farm is cursed; and now nothing’s left of the pilot but his uniform and bandages. Gets weirder by the minute, doesn’t it?

Jeannie and Aunt Martha do something that is long overdue – walk out on Uncle Meanie because of his skinflint ways. Unwisely, they say Uncle Meanie will foot their hotel bills, so he’s on their tail like a shot with more scheming to get them back. He does get them back, but in the end is forced to give in the demands that sent them packing in the first place: fork out the money to replace the dilapidated furnishings he been too mean to replace. 

Bessie Bunter and her class offer to help out the youth orchestra when their van breaks down by bringing the instruments to the hall. But things get horny when Miss “Stackers” Stackpole has them take a shortcut through a field, which for some reason has no “Beware of the Bull” sign on the gate. Someone should have a word with the farmer about that! Bessie, after a bit of trouble with Stackers earlier in the story, gets a happy ending by saving the day. 

Tammy and Sally 14 August 1971

Palomo (artist Douglas Perry)

Little Miss Nothing (artists Miguel Rosello, Luis Bermejo, Miguel Quesada, writer Alan Davidson)

Betina and the Haunted Ballet (artist Dudley Wynne) – first episode

The Cat Girl (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)

Roberta’s Rebels (artist Rodrigo Comos, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – first episode

Our Janie – Little Mum (artist Colin Merrett)

Maisie’s Magic Eye (artist Robert MacGillivray)

A Million Pounds to Give Away! (artist Agustin Navarro, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

Beattie Beats ‘Em All (artist John Armstrong, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

The School on Neville’s Island (artist Douglas Perry)

Glen – A Lonely Dog on a Quest (artist Jim Baikie)

No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

It is now August, and to commemorate, we will have an August month Tammy round, with an August issue taken from each Tammy year. Also, selecting covers from this month guarantees a lot of nice, cheery summer covers to brighten us up. We begin at 1971, and with an August issue that starts two new stories.

It has now been seven months since Tammy started and five since Sally merged with her. Three strips from Tammy’s first issue are still going strong: Molly, Glenn, and Janie. Betina, another heroine from the original lineup, now starts her second story in Tammy’s first-ever sequel, “Betina and the Haunted Ballet”. The other story to start this week is “Roberta’s Rebels”. Though set in a boarding school, its premise sounds oddly prescient of “Land of No Tears”. Roberta Russell’s boarding school system is divided into the Supremos, the girls who get all the privileges and best treatment because they are the school sports stars, and the Serfs, who are forced to wait on the Supremos hand and foot and receive lesser treatment from school staff. Outraged, Roberta immediately sets out to stop this unfair school system by training up the Serfs to beat the Supremos. But once she sees the girls she has to train, she finds that’s going to be easier said than done. They look more like Bessie Bunter than Beattie Beats ‘Em All (q.v.).

The Cat Girl and Maisie’s Magic Eye are still going strong from the Sally merger. Both became so well remembered they have recently been given remakes in the rebooted Tammy and Jinty specials, and Cat Girl has just received her own reprint volume. Their presence also adds humour and lightweight fare to Tammy, who initially had no humour to balance the grim, misery-laden fare she was renowned for when she started. 

“A Million Pounds to Give Away!” is another story to show Tammy is finding her feet with her own lightweight fare. Biddy Lenton has to give away her late great uncle’s entire fortune (a million pounds) under the terms of his will, but it’s proving harder than expected and it’s getting Biddy into all sorts of scrapes. Shades of the future Bumpkin Billionaires! 

This week’s episode of Beattie must have given the readers some laughs, what with the antics Beattie gets up to on the racetrack to raise signatures for a petiton to stop some buildings – including her home – being bulldozed for development. She gets the satisfaction of annoying her worst enemies on the track with it as well. The petition ends up full of signatures. Strangely, nobody comments on or corrects Beattie’s spelling mistake – “support” has been spelled with one “p”.

“Little Miss Nothing” was a pivotal story in Tammy, as it set the template for the Cinderella serial in girls’ comics for hundreds of Cinderella serials at IPC and DCT to follow. “Make-Believe Mandy” and “Cinderella Smith” from Jinty were but two who owed their roots to “Little Miss Nothing”. This week, Annabel’s cruel parents kick her out, and they’re not through with her yet. Annabel’s spiteful stepsister Dora is cooking up a really nasty revenge on Annabel for getting her the well-deserved sack. 

Douglas Perry is on double duty with drawing two stories, “The School on Neville’s Island” and “Palomo”. But that’s nothing on Maureen Spurgeon, who’s writing four strips, probably more, in one issue! Incidentally, Palomo was Tammy’s first horse story, and it was so popular it scored an appearance in a Tammy annual. 

Tammy & Sally 5 June 1971

Neville’s Island/The School on Neville’s Island (artist Douglas Perry) – first episode

Glen – A Dog on a Lonely Quest (artist Jim Baikie)

Slaves of “War Orphan Farm” (artist Desmond Walduck, writer Gerry Finley-Day?)

The Cat Girl (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)

The Secret of Trebaran – (artist Giorgio Cambiotti) – final episode

Maisie’s Magic Eye – artist Robert MacGillivray

Little Miss Nothing (artists Miguel Rosello, Luis Bermejo, Miguel Quesada, writer Alan Davidson) – first episode

Betina at Ballet School

Beattie Beats ‘Em All! (artist John Armstrong)

Sara’s Kingdom (artist Bill Mainwaring)

The Girls of Liberty Lodge (artist Dudley Pout)

“Our Janie” – Little Mum (artist Colin Merrett)

No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

For the month of June we are having another Tammy round, which will profile a Tammy issue from the month of June for each Tammy year. We begin with the first June issue of Tammy in 1971.

In this issue, it’s the final episode of “The Secret of Trebaran”, one of the first stories from the first Tammy lineup. Its replacement next week is “Gandora the Golden”. Others from the first Tammy lineup, “Slaves of ‘War Orphan Farm’”, “Betina at Ballet School”, “The Girls of Liberty Lodge”, “Glen – A Lonely Dog on a Quest”, “No Tears for Molly”, and “’Our Janie’ – Little Mum” are still going strong, and it’s been four months since they started. Molly went on to become one of the longest-running regulars in Tammy, which showed she was the most powerful of the first lineup. Beattie, who joined later, is still going strong, and is the first Tammy strip drawn by John Armstrong. Cat Girl, “Maisie’s Magic Eye” and “Sara’s Kingdom”, which came over from Sally, are still going happily as well. 

Douglas Perry artwork appears in Tammy for the first time – and on the first page – with the start of Perry’s first Tammy story, “Neville’s Island”. Thirty girls from St Edburgha’s are lured to a mysterious island. And we all know what happens when girls are lured to an island in girls’ comics – it’s a trap! To make things even more mysterious, the plot is being engineered by a ominous-sounding elderly woman in a wheelchair who won’t show her face. Once the unsuspecting girls are in the trap, she says, “Now they shall begin to suffer. All of them.” But why? From the sound of it, it’s revenge for being bullied at the school, but there’s probably more to it than that. It all adds to the mystery that has to be solved if the girls are to escape. 

Also starting this issue is the first episode of “Little Miss Nothing” (written by Alan Davidson, not Pat Davidson aka Anne Digby, as has been sometimes stated). This story is noted for setting the “Cinderella” template that so many Tammy stories were to follow, the most famous of which was Bella Barlow. Update: an entry on this story has now been posted here.

“Little Miss Nothing” Annabel Hayes is regarded by her family as a nobody and they treat her as a drudge. It’s her younger sister Dora who gets the lion’s share in everything. Annabel shines at dressmaking, but her hopes of making a career out of it are dashed when the family move to be closer to Dora’s modelling school. Dad illegally yanks Annabel out of school to slog all day at the family market stall to pay for Dora’s school fees, makes her sleep in an attic, and not a word about her treatment or she’ll suffer. Wow, things are really piled on our Cinderella in the first episode alone. But then Annabel spots something in the attic that could turn things around. 

Tammy 16 February 1974

Cover artist: John Richardson

The Clothes Make Carol – artist John Armstrong

Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie – artist Robert MacGillivray

Ballerina in Blue Jeans – artist Escandell Torres

The Girls of Grimleys Grammer 

‘Those Jumps Ahead of Jaki’ – artist Eduardo Feito

School for Snobs – artist J. Badesa 

Little Lady Jane

Granny’s Town – artist Douglas Perry, writer Pat Mills

No Tears for Molly – artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon

For Valentine’s Day, we bring you the very first Tammy Cover girls cover that commemorated this event. Ironically, the gag about big sis feeling pissed at little sis getting more Valentines than her would also be used for the last Valentine cover featuring the Cover Girls, which appeared in 1980. They could have used a different colour font for the heading, though. The yellow can be hard to read.

Inside, the Wee Sue story also uses the Valentine theme. Miss Bigger gets a Valentine. Now who the heck in their right mind would admire her? Nobody, of course. It’s Wee Sue trying to put her in a better temper, and also because she feels sorry for her after discovering she has a lonely heart. 

Two stories, “Those Jumps Ahead of Jaki” and “Granny’s Town”, are on their penultimate episodes, the former with a double episode. Jaki has to win an all-important riding trophy to bring her friend Isabel out of a coma – which requires her to beat a near-impossible time set by the favourite. Also, the nasty Miss Stockland does not want Jaki to win and is trying to stop her – but why? Definitely a mystery here. In the latter, Jen Young must be the only young person left in Granny’s Town. Her Ladyship has removed all the other young people by condemning their houses. It’s all in the name of her campaign to turn Granny’s Town into the town where only grannies rule.

The Ballerina in Blue Jeans, rough Cockney kid Jessie Grub, has been spotted as a ballerina and even been taken on as a pupil. Now the Duveen Ballet has spotted Jessie as well. Unfortunately, so have the police. She just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when some toughs attacked a shop, but the police won’t believe it.

For once, Uncle Meanie’s mind is not fixated on screwy penny-pinching schemes. Instead, he lands the role of MacBeth! How did it happen? It’s all Jeannie’s plan to keep a long-standing feud between the McScrimps and the McScrams, who have moved in for a holiday, away from home and give everyone some peace until the McScrams return home. It’s a pity this was not turned into a two-parter to show us how Uncle Meanie actually performs as MacBeth.

What’s the feud about, anyway? Generations ago, a McScrimp and a McScram accused each other of cheating in a card game. They were probably both cheating, seeing as Uncle Meanie and Mr McScram are as bad as each other at feuding – and playing the bagpipes.

Carol Carter is nicknamed “Scarecrow” because of her scruffy clothes, which she has to wear because her uncle and aunt give all the best to her cousin Sheila. Then Carol is given a magnificent blazer that’s giving her confidence. But spiteful Sheila has noticed and is trying to ruin the blazer, and finally succeeds with a whitewash boobytrap – or has she? There are already hints that there is something odd about that blazer. 

In Molly Mills, bully butler Pickering has gone too far (making a man work until he collapsed). That’s usually when his bullying comes back to bite – for a while, anyway. In this case, Pickering’s being scared shitless by spooky things happening to him, and he’s been hearing stories that if the man dies he will return to haunt. 

In “School for Snobs”, bossy snob Georgina always fancies being headmistress and even goes to the lengths of kicking out the current one. She even does it to Hermione Snoot when she arrives at the School for Snobs for treatment. Has Hermione met her match at last? “Not on your conkers, mate! There’s gonna be a surprise for Lady Muck!” 

Tammy 5 January 1980

Cover artist: John Richardson

Cindy of Swan Lake – artist Ana Rodriguez

Sister in the Shadows (first episode) – artist Giorgio Giorgetti

Daughter of the Desert – artist Mario Capaldi

Edie the Ed’s Niece – artist Joe Collins

Ring the Changes (Strange Story) – artist unknown

Bessie Bunter

Molly Mills and the Promotion (first episode) – artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon

Wee Sue – artist Robert MacGillivray

Make Headlines, Hannah! – artist Tony Coleman

Turn of the Year (Strange Story) – artist Peter Wilkes

Tuck-In with Tammy – feature 

For New Year we bring you Tammy’s New Year issue from 1980. This is the last New Year issue to use the Cover Girls. If they had known they would be dropped in October that year, we don’t think it would have been a very Happy New Year for them. It was a common in-joke for a Cover Girls cover to show someone holding a Tammy with the same cover or a tie-in cover. In this case, old year 1979 looks like he’s got the Tammy with the cover showing new year 1980 on it.

As it turned out, new year 1980 was a big one for Tammy. Just two weeks after this issue came out, Misty merged with Tammy, and the effect resonated for several years. 

The issue is chock-a-block with New Year-themed stories from the regulars. Wee Sue, Bessie Bunter, Edie, and the Storyteller with a double helping of Strange Stories are all in on the act. So is Molly, with her new story, “The Promotion”. Sadly, it’s not a good start for the New Year for her. Ironically, it’s because of something that should be very happy for her – she is chosen for the staff promotion. But the other servants don’t look happy about it, and neither is Molly. She isn’t one of the gang anymore because of the promotion. 

New Year was a popular time for girls’ comics to start new stories, and two stories start in this issue. The first is Molly’s new story. The other is “Sister in the Shadows”. Wendy Weekes is off to a new start, at her new school, but it’s already off to a bad start because everyone expects her to live up to the success of her older sister Stella. As if this weren’t bad enough, it’s also making Wendy unpopular with the other girls and a prime target for bullying.

In the old stories, things are finally looking up for Hannah Hilton, who is trying to become a success after nothing but failure, in the form of her nasty sisters who keep trying to sabotage her. Hannah is about to revive an old attraction at the fair. The mayor, who had been requesting it for years, is all agog, and so are the reporters. Seems nothing can go wrong this time – but then there’s a policeman at the door. Is it Hannah’s sisters again or something far more serious?

In “Cindy of Swan Lake”, Cindy Grey goes on tour. It should be a great experience, but, as usual, she’s lumbered with the company of her jealous rival Zoe Martin, who is also out to sabotage her. Zoe’s sabotage takes the form of head games, playing on Cindy being worried sick about her beloved swan who is being poisoned by pollution.

And in “Daughter of the Desert”, the mysterious Arab figure who seems connected to a strange series of desert-related incidents at a boarding school, leads our heroines into a trap – of quicksand!

Tammy & June 9 November 1974

Cover artist: John Richardson

Becky Never Saw the Ball – artist John Armstrong, writer Joe Collins

Wee Sue – artist John Richardson

Nell Nobody – artist Miguel Quesada 

A Dog’s Best Friend (Strange Story) – artist Jim Eldrige

Dirty Trix – artist unknown

Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie (final episode) – artist Robert MacGillivray

Secret Ballet of the Steppes – artist Douglas Perry, writer Gerry Finley-Day?

No Tears for Molly – artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon

Town Without Telly – artist José Casanovas

It’s Guy Fawkes season, so we bring out the first Tammy Cover Girls cover with a Fifth of November theme. Oh dear, looks like a mishap struck the younger Cover Girl this time; usually it’s the older one. Hopefully they will come up with a brainwave to cover those ruined fireworks.

Bessie does not appear this week. Wee Sue could be out celebrating Bonfire Night, but she’s out playing soccer and rugby instead. This keeps striking trouble with Miss Bigger, who is looking for a missing consignment of school blazers.

It’s the final episode of Uncle Meanie – for now, anyway. At long last, he finishes off a world cruise that he’s constantly bedevilled with his penny-pinching tricks. The poor captain of that cruise ship will never be the same again. Home sweet home, all bracing for the return of Uncle Meanie to Tammy later on. 

Many readers kept writing in demanding why the heck Molly doesn’t strike back at that bully butler Pickering. They must have cheered when her double, come to Stanton Hall in her place, finally does the job this week. Pickering is left utterly floored – literally.

This week’s Strange Story is drawn by what looks like a very early Jim Eldridge. So could it be an early Strange Story reprinted from June? Enough time has passed for such reprints to start appearing in Tammy. The story is about the ability of dogs to sense things people can’t.

Dirty Trix senses her cheating at athletics has finally been detected, and eavesdropping on the club coach Miss Wood confirms her fears. “I ain’t finished yet, not by a long chalk!” is her response. Don’t be so sure about that, Trix – the blurb for next week says the evidence against you is going to stack up.

Nell Nobody shows she’s a real trouper by proving this week that when disaster strikes, she can think on her feet and come up with ways to deal with the situation. She figures a way around her horrible uncle smashing the legs of her puppet by incorporating the puppet’s disability into a new act. She also creates a companion puppet (Lola) for him despite the gruelling demands of the hot dog stand she’s forced to slog at to pay for her spoiled cousin’s acting fees. Now an important-looking lady has lined up for the show Nell’s secretly using the hot dog stand for. Is Nell about to get her big break? 

“Secret Ballet of the Steppes” is reaching its climax. Judith manages to get back to the palace, braving wolves, suspicious-looking men who try to drug her, and snowstorms to do so, to avert the upcoming attack against the revolutionaries. Then she discovers there’s more to it than that when she overhears the villainous Berova planning something sneaky. 

Joy and Recepta’s plan to cure Boxless town of TV addiction is to bore viewers stiff with long-winded broadcasts featuring Lady Boxless. So far the results look good – Lady Boxless already has someone throwing a loafer at the screen. 

Elspeth was forcibly separated from Becky after being wrongly accused of driving her too hard at tennis. Becky ran away in search of Elspeth and now she’s at a tennis match promoting ice cream in the hopes of finding her. Sure enough, Elspeth, who runs an ice cream truck, is now arriving at the same event. Will they reunite?

Tammy & June 19 October 1974

Artist: John Richardson

Becky Never Saw the Ball – artist John Armstrong, writer Joe Collins

Secret Ballet of the Steppes – artist Douglas Perry, writer Gerry Finley-Day?

Nell Nobody (first episode) – artist Miguel Quesada 

Wee Sue – artist John Richardson

Bessie Bunter

Unscheduled Stop (Strange Story) – artist John Armstrong

Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie – artist Robert MacGillivray

No Tears for Molly – artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon

Town Without Telly – artist José Casanovas

Autumn covers are also good to profile in Halloween month, and I just dug this one out from 1974.

The issue begins another Cinderella story, “Nell Nobody”. Nell must have been popular, as her run (18 episodes) was even longer than the first Bella Barlow story (12 episodes). Nell Ewart is badly treated by her aunt and uncle (confusingly, they are actually her step-parents), who only have eyes for her spoiled stepsister/cousin Rosie. They yank Nell out of school to slog at a hot dog stand to pay for Rosie’s acting fees, which dashes her hopes of pursuing drama and stagecraft at school when she’s just discovered her talent for it. At least she still has her puppet Willoughby, and we know things will somehow start from there. And could Nell’s uncle have unwittingly helped her by establishing the hot dog stand across from the TV studio and theatre?

Imagine putting Coppelia together in three days! That’s the task facing our slave dancers of the Steppes from the slave-driving Berova. Incredibly, they pull it off, but Judith collapses from the strain. Princess Petra allows them to take a sleigh ride over the Steppes for a break, but Judith smells something fishy about their drivers. 

Recepta, once a TV addict herself, is now trying to stop her father from turning the town of Boxless into a town full of TV addicts. It’s a battle of wills between them now, with Dad going as far as to bind and gag Recepta and force her to watch television. 

Miss Bigger feels confident she’s put Sue in her place this time after lumbering her with the awful task of pumping the organ for choir practice. Little does she know Sue’s had one of her brainwaves to get out of it. 

Bessie Bunter is off like a shot when Miss Stackpole says there’ll be refreshments at St. Prim’s School – without stopping to hear there’ll be a hockey match there first. And to her chagrin, she’s lumbered as goalie. She tries to wriggle out of it and to the grub, but it backfires so badly on her that she gets tangled in the goal net and unable to get to the refreshments before the others finish them. Poor Bessie.

In the Strange Story, “Unscheduled Stop”, Jenny Shaw is reaching breaking point because her parents are always arguing. Then the train they’re on makes an unscheduled stop – back in time – which shows Jenny the younger versions of her parents and what started the trouble between them. 

The Stanton Hall staff, egged on by the militant Miss Byrdy, have gone on strike to get rid of Pickering. But it’s gone too far and Miss Byrdy is arrested. The strike collapses without her, but Lord Stanton sees the point of it after catching Pickering taking a horrible revenge on the staff, and orders him to apologise. No dismissal for him though, or any real improvement in how he treats the staff. At least the staff get raises out of it, and Miss Byrdy is soon released, all charges dropped.

Uncle Meanie’s round-the-trip cruise lands the family in California and at the doorstep of another McScrimp relative, Tex McScrimp. And from the looks of the signs and barbed wire fences he has put up, he is every bit as mean, unwelcoming, and eccentric about it as Uncle Angus. The miser gene definitely runs right through the McScrimp family; Jeannie’s generation is the only one known to have skipped it. 

Becky Bates is making a comeback as a tennis player after losing her sight. But keeping her blindness a secret is causing problems. This time it’s having another accident and collapsing because of it, and her coach/Aunt Elspeth is accused of driving her too hard. 

Wee Sue (1972-1982)

Published: Sandie 12 February 1972 to 20 May 1972

Tammy 27 October 1973 to 21 November 1981

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.

Wee Sue as she appeared in Sandie
Wee Sue as she appeared in Sandie
Wee Sue as she appeared in Sandie

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. 

First Wee Sue episode in Tammy, 27 October 1973
First appearance of Wee Sue in Tammy, 27 October 1973
First episode of Wee Sue in Tammy, 27 October 1973

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.

Deep dark secrets from Miss Bigger’s schooldays. Tammy 12 June 1976, art John Richardson.
Deep dark secrets from Miss Bigger’s schooldays. Tammy 12 June 1976, art John Richardson.
Deep dark secrets from Miss Bigger’s schooldays. Tammy 12 June 1976, art John Richardson.

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. 

The history of the Bigger family

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.

How the Allies won WW2 according to Miss Bigger

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.

Wee Sue celebrates Tammy’s 10th birthday 7 February 1981
Wee Sue celebrates Tammy’s 10th birthday 7 February 1981
Wee Sue celebrates Tammy’s 10th birthday 7 February 1981
Wee Sue celebrates Tammy’s 10th birthday 7 February 1981

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.

Tammy 27 November 1976

Cover artist: John Richardson

Babe at St. Woods (artist José Casanovas)

Towne in the Country (artist Mario Capaldi)

Curtains for Cathy (artist Douglas Perry) – first episode

The Unseen Hand (Strange Story) – artist Robert MacGillivray

Bessie Bunter

Molly Mills and a Friend from the Sea (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)

Nightmare at Grimm Fen (artist Diana Gabbot(t)) – first episode

Olympia Jones (artist Eduardo Feito, writer Anne Digby)

Two new stories begin this issue: “Curtains for Cathy” and “Nightmare at Grimm Fen”.

In the former, Cathy Harley wants to make her own way on the stage, not because she’s the daughter of a famous actor. She’s even willing to do it the hard way and take all the hard knocks she’s been warned about. So she takes an assistant stage manager job under an assumed name at a rundown theatre, and she even agrees not to be paid for it. But no sooner has Cathy gone when Dad receives a threatening phone call saying he won’t see Cathy again and the curtains are coming down for her! We don’t think Cathy counted on that as part of the hard knocks she was willing to risk – but can she take it anyway when whoever it is starts their game?

In the latter, Mark and Patty Stephens make a brass rubbing of an evil medieval knight, Robert Le Mal. Then there are warning signs they shouldn’t have done that and they return to the place to reverse the damage. But as they do so, the weather grows stormy and there’s a horrible flapping sound.

It’s unusual for Robert MacGillivray to draw a historical story, but he does so with this week’s Strange Story. The story appears below for those who like MacGillivray artwork.

The snobs are cooking up trouble for Babe – literally – this week. It must be said that the gangster know-how she pulls to foil their scheme really does stretch credibility. 

There’s a hunt for a loose tiger in “Towne in the Country”, and there’s a hunter after it with safari ideas. Val spots it first and, realising it’s hurt, decides to risk herself to treat it. 

Miss Claire is trying to hide a baby seal with Molly’s help, but of course it’s a load of trouble for them both. Now there are further complications. The first is Pickering, who mistakes the seal for a monster and has all the staff hunting it. The second is another man finding the seal – and Molly doesn’t like the look of him! 

Sue plans a party. Unfortunately Mum accidentally scratches the new LP she was going to use for it, and the stores are sold out because it’s so hot. Then a stroke of luck and Sue’s habit of doodling bring her to the pop star himself, who agrees to perform live at her party after she does him a favour. 

Bessie Bunter pulls a crooked raffle to raise more food for herself, but of course she gets caught out. Her punishment is a notebook to be filled with lines. She never seems to get expelled for those naughty schemes of hers.

In this week’s episode of “Olympia Jones” it’s the long-awaited (and dreaded) return of her archenemies, the Rotts. We get the satisfaction of seeing that sacking Olympia for Linda Rott’s animal cruelty to escape prosecution from animal welfare has rebounded on them: “Takings down again…Sometimes I regret sacking Olympia Jones. She certainly knew how to train the animals.” They overlooked that Olympia was too valuable as animal trainer for Linda’s horse act, and her absence has caused the circus to suffer.

Then the Rotts discover the circus horse they mistreated has now become a show-jumping Olympic prospect under Olympia – which makes him worth a fortune. Now new cruelty is underway as the Rotts plot how to get their hands on that money.

The Unseen Hand. Strange Story, Tammy 27 November 1976.
The Unseen Hand. Strange Story, Tammy 27 November 1976.
The Unseen Hand. Strange Story, Tammy 27 November 1976.