Tag Archives: Sandie

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; otherwise 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.

Sandie 15 April 1972

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Slaves of the Sorcerer (artist Desmond Walduck?)
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • 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.

Christine Ellingham – Interview

With many thanks to Christine Ellingham for sending through such detailed and interesting answers to the interview questions below – and of course also thanks to her for getting in contact in the first place!

Question 1 – Can you please give a bit of background context to your time in comics – when did you start doing work for picture strips / comics titles, and what got you into them in the first place? You say that your time as a strip artist was short – what led you to cut it short, if there was anything specific?

As with a lot of the jobs I have done over the years, I arrived at IPC, then Fleetway Publications, purely by accident and good luck.

I had been a staff layout artist plus fashion illustrator on a girls’ teenage magazine called, Go Girl! (This is where I first met Malcolm Shaw.) Go Girl! was part of City Magazines, the magazine division of The News of the World. This was in 1968.

Unfortunately, Go Girl! folded after a very short life and it was suggested that I approach Leonard Matthews, the then Director of Juvenile Publications, not sure of his correct title, at Fleetway. I did, and was offered a job there. In those days it was relatively easy to move around from one job to another.

Initially, I was placed in a department with several other people, not a specific title, where we did odd jobs for different papers, i.e. illustration, lettering, pasteup and, in the case of Alf Saporito, cartoons. I remember John Fernley being one of us, possibly Tony Hunt, though I’m not sure.

After a short period I was moved to the Nursery group, under the managing editor, Stuart Pride, and there I worked on a new publication called Bobo Bunny. This had come from Holland and needed adjusting size wise and certain content adaptation making it suitable for the UK market.

By now John Sanders was the overall editor of the juveniles. I have a feeling I wasn’t the first to be offered the position of art editor of a new girls’ paper called Tammy but I accepted it nevertheless and moved from juvenile to teenage. John Purdie was the editor and Gerry Finley-Day and Iain MacDonald made up the editorial team.

Under John, we gathered writers and artists and the aim was to compete with D.C. Thomson’s Bunty and maybe other titles of that type. I remember John and I made a trip to Rome to talk to the Giorgetti stable of artists and we were wined and dined by Giorgio Giorgetti and his American wife. We also attracted all the relevant artist’s agents, Danny Kelleher and his son Pat of Temple Arts, Linden Artists and Bardon Art for example, and collected together a group of strip artists, writers and balloon letterers.

Eventually, Tammy was launched and did very well. I was able to contribute a small amount of artwork, the back cover of the first edition is mine, but really my job was to get it all together, see the agents and in one case, the artists themselves (I remember Roy Newby used to deliver his own work) but usually the agents would deliver the artwork.

I have to admit, I was not entirely happy in the role of art editor. I had studied illustration at Hornsey College of Art and that was what I wanted to do. I left Fleetway 1971/72. Barry Coker and Keith Davis of Bardon Art represented mainly Spanish strip artists. I thought that maybe I could ‘have a go’ at doing this as a freelance and doing it from Spain. Barry and Keith took me on and my then partner and I moved to Spain. Just like that! This was 1972. Amazing really.

Christine Ellingham, 1973/74
Christine Ellingham, 1973/74

First of all my work was for D.C. Thomson; they waited for a whole series to be complete before publishing so as I was a novice and slow, this suited me. Fleetway needed an episode completed in a week, too much for me then. I am hazy about the titles, there may have been something called, “Warning Wind Bells” and another with an Egyptian theme with a character or a cat called Nofret, or these could have been later for IPC. I have a few old diaries of that time and one story I worked on I have only the initials of the title, S.O.S. I wonder what that stood for! 1972. There was “Topsy of the Pops”, “Vet on the Hill” and “Lindy Under the Lake”, all for Thomson’s circa 1973. (This is the date that I drew them, not necessarily of publication.)

As agents, Barry and Keith were superb. They made sure I was never without work, one story followed immediately after another, that I was paid promptly and they gave me such good advice regarding page layout, technique and story interpretation.

While I was still working on Tammy I started to have problems with my right hand (I am right handed), it not functioning properly. This continued to get worse when we were in Spain and instead of speeding up and refining my style the opposite was happening, my work deteriorated. Bardon Art kept me going but eventually we had to return to England in 1974, where I continued to struggle depressingly.

During the Spanish time I illustrated at least two Annual covers, Tammy 1972, including the front endpapers depicting National Costumes and Sandie Annual 1973, plus various spot illustrations. I still have these annuals. Or I could have done these before Spain.

After inconclusive tests that found nothing terribly wrong with my hand or me generally, the GP at the time suggested I learn to use my left hand. After thinking initially, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, I realised this was my only option. I remember one ten-part story for Thomson’s started with me using my right hand and gradually with training, ended using my left hand. I can’t remember which story that was.

From then on things got better. I speeded up and developed my style. Bardon got me the first IPC job.  I’m not one hundred percent sure but it could have been, Cove of Secrets or Secret Cove, something like that, for the Jinty Annual possibly 1974. Also The Whittington’s Cat Princess, DCT, around the same time. To this day, I draw, paint and write using my left hand.

“Concrete Surfer” came later. That particular story stands out for me because it was such fun to do. It was all action with hardly any background, it was very modern and I love doing figure work. I remember we bought a skate board so that I could see what it looked like from all angles, a helmet too, still got them!

I cannot remember how many strip stories I worked on after “Concrete Surfer” but at some point I felt the need to move on, that I wasn’t being stretched any more. Bardon Art were no longer able to represent me, as strip was their speciality, and sadly, we parted company. I started contributing illustrations to Oh Boy, Loving and other IPC papers for older teens.

After a few years I moved on again and, as an illustrator, contributed to national newspapers, women’s magazines, house magazines, mail order publications, coin design, greetings cards and so on.

The work was still there after my retirement but the need to move on again got the better of me and now I paint, back in Spain.

 

Question 2 – On the blog we are always very keen to try to establish any creator credits for artists and writers, as these are otherwise very likely to get lost in the mists of time. As far as we can tell from the art style, it looks like you drew three stories for Jinty (“Race for a Fortune” (1977-78), “Concrete Surfer” (1978), and “Dance Into Darkness” (1978) plus some covers and spot illustrations, as well as a story in the Lindy Summer Special (1975) and in the Jinty Annual 1978. It may be asking too much at this distance in time, but what other work do you recall doing and in which publications?

I would have to look at these stories that you mention to verify that I actually drew them! As I have said, Concrete Surfer stands out because for me it was a joy to do. The others, some I have managed to see on line and they do look vaguely familiar. At the time I used my partner as a model. I found men more difficult to draw than women and girls and I have noticed him in certain frames even though I tried hard to make them not look like him! When I see him I know that I did that one!

Cover 19780708
Jinty 8 July 1978: cover shows “Dance Into Darkness”

Question 3 – At the time it was very usual for artists and writers to work quite separately from each other, particularly freelance creators. Was this the case with you, or did you know others working in the same area? I ask partly in case there are any interesting stories or anecdotes that you can relate at this distance in time, but also in case you remember any names of people on the creative or publishing side that can feed in to our information of who did what.

Yes, this was the case for me. Artists do lead a solitary life and being freelance meant I would be at my desk not wanting to be interrupted. The deadlines, especially for IPC, were pretty tight. In my case the work would be delivered to Bardon Art and they would take it to the publication in the case of Fleetway, a few minutes walk away. Though in Spain I posted it directly to DCT. Nevertheless, Barry and Keith were very much involved and would add their comments sometimes.

While we were in Spain the work was rolled into a tube and posted. The tubes had to be open at both ends, some string threaded through and tied and a description of the contents had to be stuck to the outside, or left with an official at the post office.

I did meet one artist in Spain, Miguel Quesada. It was he who told me how to send artwork to England. He and some of his very large family, (a lot of mouths to feed), visited us unexpectedly. He was one of Bardon’s and a contributor to Tammy. I never met any of the other artists apart from Roy Newby, but that was before I was a contributor myself.

I did meet John Jackson when he was the art editor of Jinty and of course, Mavis Miller.

Question 4 – I am keen to understand more about the creative and publishing processes of the time. Presumably the writer supplied a script, and the editor chose the artist, but I don’t know how everything interacted. Did you get any guidance (say as part of the written script) or conversely any interference from the editor or art editor, or was the published page pretty much under your design control including the composition of the page?

Yes, the editor would choose the artist, art editors didn’t have much say in the matter, (Though this is just from my experience of working on Tammy.) And I think the editorial team would have suggested an idea for a story to the writer, again, this is how it happened on Tammy.

The artists were given a lot of guidance. Before even starting, we would be briefed on the content and theme of the story, to get to know the main characters. In the case of IPC the scripts would come one at a time, having only just been written, probably. The artist would receive a document containing the dialogue for each balloon and the positioning of the balloons had to be in that same order in the frame, also, there would be instructions on the action and mood in the frame, i.e. the heroine to look sad, the bad girl to look vindictive; a closeup and so on. The composition of each frame would be influenced by the order and size of the balloons and the overall design of the page would have had input from the editor. Quite a lot to work out, now I come to think of it! [An example of a script has been previously sent in by Pat Davidson, wife of Jinty story writer Alan Davidson: see link here.]

I always had to submit pencil roughs that would be shown to the editor for his/her comments. In Spain there were many visits to the post office, pencils going off to Stan Stamper in Dundee, coming back with comments, a finished, inked episode flying off, the two passing each other on the way. Also, we artists had to work ‘half up’ so there was a lot of ground to cover. [‘Half up’ means using a larger piece of art paper – half as much again as the finished size, so that for instance if the finished publication is 10 inches by 12 inches, half up would be 15 inches by 18 inches – with the artwork being photographically reduced in size during the production process.]

 

Question 5 – A slightly self-indulgent question but with a point to it – how did you come across the Jinty blog? Was it a case of happening to suddenly remember something you worked on years ago and searching for it, or being sent to it? (I ask because I would love to hear from other creators from the time, and if there is anything I can do to increase the chances of someone posting a comment saying that they wrote or drew a story from the time, I will certainly consider it.)

I’m trying to think. How did I find it? I get carried away on the internet sometimes. I think  I was looking up an old friend of my now husband’s, the two of them used to work together on Eagle, Swift, Robin and Girl papers, as balloon letterers and layout artists. I started looking at Girl artwork as I do have a couple of Girl Annuals, No.3 and No.5. I noticed that the writers and artists all got a credit; one name I recognised was the artist Dudley Pout, I wonder if he contributed to any of the Jinty stories? Though he was probably of another generation.

The friend of my husband had died but in reading his obituary I found links to other sites and by then I was interested to see if any of my work was featured anywhere, the only title I could think of was, “Concrete Surfer”!

First episode of the 1978 story “Concrete Surfer”

Little Lady Nobody (1972)

Sample Images

(from Sandie 18 March 1972)

Published: Sandie 12 February 1972 – 1 April 1972

Episodes: 8

Artist: Desmond Walduck?

Writer: Unknown

Plot summary

Elaine Moresby is the daughter of a rich Yorkshire businessman. While her father is away on business she is sent to Miss Pettifor’s Academy for Young Ladies, where she soon shows how spoilt and selfish she is. Even her fellow rich young ladies are fed up of Elaine’s complaints and meanness towards the servants. But before the first episode is up, Elaine has been told by her uncle that her father has been drowned, leaving her an impoverished orphan; and Miss Pettifor takes the opportunity to ask for the payment of 150 guineas for the last six months’ fees (even though Elaine knows that it was paid at the time). The final indignity – Elaine is forced to work as a servant to pay off the debt that wasn’t really incurred  – and all the other servants are cruel to her apart from Mary, who is kind. (This is partly because Elaine caught Mary looking at a posh dress of hers and was going to denounce her to the headmistress, but was stopped from doing so by the arrival of her uncle – so it’s only by luck that she has even one friend on her side.)

It is difficult for Elaine to adjust to the life of a servant, but her main challenge is that Miss Pettifor and the head servants are clearly out to get her. Mary helps her to get used to the tasks but Elaine is firstly nearly suffocated when Mrs Rutherford lights a fire underneath her after sending her up the chimney, and then is thrown down the well by a mystery assailant. Mary helps Elaine to climb out but of course Mrs Rutherford comes out almost immediately and sees that her ploy has failed. She tells Elaine to climb back down the well to find the bucket, and of course she is terrified at the thought – and says that Mary was the one who knocked it in, and Mary has to climb down instead. Mary understands that it was fear that drove Elaine to say that, but that forgiveness means little when Mary gets very ill as a result of her ducking. Elaine sticks up for Mary and helps to nurse her during her illness, so the other servants think better of her after all.

Miss Pettifor is still out to kill her if possible, though – her next attempt is to run her over with a horse and cart. Some of her fellow servants stick up for her, but in retaliation Mary is once more driven to illness by Miss Pettifor and Mrs Rutherford. When Elaine spots her uncle coming to visit, she thinks that he will be her way out, and escapes to find him. However, a panel set back at Miss Pettifor’s Academy has the uncle explaining that it was he who set up the series of murderous attacks, because ‘with her out of the way, I am the sole heir to her dead father’s fortune’.

Elaine has escaped from the Academy, along with Mary, but her erstwhile friends don’t believe that the tattered escapee is really Lady Elaine Moresby, who they have been told has ‘been dead these past three weeks!” And when she reaches her old home of Moresby Hall, her uncle shoots at them, sets the servants on them claiming they are ‘gipsy thieves’, and makes Miss Pettifor and Mrs Rutherford go after them to fetch them back to the academy. Not content with that, her uncle has the school set on fire, with the two girls trapped inside! So it is all a real giveaway that they have serious enemies who will stop at nothing.

They manage to make it back to Moresby Hall, where Elaine finds some papers written by her father’s lawyer, Mr Murchison. Her father wasn’t penniless at all, and her uncle is claiming the estate as his. They try to see Murchison to plead Elaine’s case, but he is ill and they aren’t allowed in – and when they are taken up by the Bow Street Runners, Uncle Ned tells the magistrates that Elaine ‘suffers from the delusion that she is my niece Elaine’. He also threatens her friend Mary. Defeated, Elaine can only plead guilty to imposture – and Uncle Ned, now clearly revealed as a black-hearted villain, sends her to a dreadful quarry where kids are made to work until they drop. However, a death from overwork isn’t going to be quick enough for Uncle Ned – firstly because Mary is making a nuisance of herself, asking questions (so off to the quarry she goes, too), and then because the father’s ship turns out to have survivors after all. So the head man in charge of the quarry is enticed into locking the two girls in a burning shed full of gunpowder… Miraculously, they escape once again, and this time are taken in by a shepherd who recognises Lady Elaine for who she is.

Biddy, Elaine’s old nurse, also knows who she is, but the real test is whether Lawyer Murchison will do so or not. He is nearly convinced, until Uncle Ned shows him Elaine’s hands, coarsened by weeks of work. It was all for nothing, and Elaine is tried and sentences to be transported for life. Mary proves her worth once again as a true friend, though- she forces her way into the place where Uncle Ned and Miss Pettifor are bamboozling the father with spurious stories of Elaine’s last days before succumbing to pneumonia. All’s well that ends well as her father turns up at the transportation ship to rescue Elaine just as she is trying one last escape – this time by plunging into the water to swim away. The last half page shows the faithful companion Mary and the reformed character Elaine drinking tea at Moresby Hall, and planning to enrich the lives of these who have less than she does.

Further thoughts

“Little Lady Nobody” is a slave story with strong redemption narrative elements. It is as over-the-top as most slave stories tend to be – of course the protagonist faces hard work, lack of food, and lack of sleep, but matters quickly escalate from the hard life of a normal skivvy to multiple threats of violent death. This cruelty is the main focus of the story, though Lady Elaine’s transformation from spoiled uncaring rich girl to compassionate champion of the poor is also a thread running through the first few episodes or so.

Elaine is quite a sympathetic character as she is very determined and tries very hard not to be beaten. Of course she is not perfect – as well as having to learn how hard a servant’s life is, she is also understandably affected by the various frights she’s had, and it leads her to some disgraceful actions that she is ashamed of later. For instance in an early episode she lies and says that it was Mary who dropped the bucket down the well, though of course it was Elaine herself who did so, because she was being pushed down the well by an unseen hand. But her lie is because she is so scared, she can’t face climbing down the well to retrieve the bucket as the cruel slavedrivers demand, so although it is wrong of her, we understand that this is not a real relapse into being an uncaring rich girl.

Even after asking David Roach and others on Facebook, it is not clear to me who the artist is. Catawiki credits this story to Desmond Walduck. who drew “Slaves of ‘War Orphan Farm'”, and there is certainly a lot of similarities. However, the later Sandie story “Sisters in Sorrow”, drawn by the same artist and with a very similar theme, was previously identified by David Roach as being by a female artist called Broderick. And when I looked at this story, my immediate feeling was that it looked like the work of Roy Newby, who is credited with drawing “Slaves of the Candle” and “Bound for Botany Bay” in Jinty, and “Nina Nimble Fingers” in Lindy. All three of these were historical stories set in the 18th and 19th centuries, featuring slavery, severe injustice, hard times, and danger of death – so again very thematically similar to the current story under discussion. However, on further consideration, I think I will withdraw that identification. Roy Newby’s work is much smoother than the rather scratchy line used by the artist on “Little Lady Nobody” and the figure drawing and the faces are not quite the same either, though there are a lot of similarities in elements like noses and chins. Roy Newby’s children also do not think that this is by their father, though they again can see the similarities. Perhaps we will find that there are three artists with very similar styles – Newby, Walduck, and Broderick.

Sandie 8 April 1972

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Slaves of the Sorcerer (artist Desmond Walduck) – first episode
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Wendy the Witch (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 – Sacha Distel (artist Bob Gifford)

The contents have moved around quite a lot in this issue compared to the previous eight – for instance “Silver Is A Star” has been moved much nearer the middle of the paper than it was, and “Anna’s Forbidden Friend” has moved to the last spot (which I think was probably one of the best spots, as providing the denouement of the issue).

Norah hurries to her father’s hospital bed, as he is in a bad way. She hears his side of the story of his disgrace (he says he didn’t do it) and her visit gives him a new will to live.

Catawiki credits both the new story, “Slaves of the Sorcerer”, and last week’s “Little Lady Nobody”, as both being by artist Desmond Walduck. I disagree and have credited “Little Lady Nobody” as being by Roy Newby. Soon I will post about the story, which was the first Sandie story to finish, and you can decide for yourselves. In this first episode, Beth Williams is accused and then acquitted of stealing, but she soon finds herself entangled in a trap that is much harder to escape from. The story is set in 1930, but the historical elements are not very strongly outlined, at least not yet.

Wee Sue rescues a dog from the roadside – she has recognized that its yellow collar means it belongs to a nearby scientific establishment. Researcher Miss Brog claims only to be kind to the animals she is experimenting on – but if so, why did the dog run away?

Susie Man’s elder sister carries out her threat to expel Susie’s classmate Sarah in revenge for Susie’s trouble-making, but the class rally round Sarah and (at Susie’s  further instigation, of course) hide her in the storeroom while they run round trying to find evidence to condemn the Head as a crook and a liar.

Trudy wins a steeplechase event that brings with it a first prize of one hundred pounds – so she is able to buy back Mr MacReady’s pawned saddle. We are told that next she will have to find money to save the stables…

Eva, one of Miss Voor’s mysterious sidekicks, is remorseful and tries to help Dale – but Miss Voor overpowers her mentally and Dale is soon being pushed over the side of a cliff rather than being helped to rescue her classmates.

Sandra has been accepted to the Southern Ballet Company for a trial period, but rival Robinia Drew has also been invited along. One way or another, the twins’ secret seems likely to be out fairly soon – especially as Joan has to sign the contract herself, with her own signature.

Anna is tied up by the roughs from her estate, with a placard reading “I am a traitor”. Julia unties her and then runs away, saying “I don’t want to have anything to do with you or Madeley Buildings any more!” – to the reader, a transparent ploy, but will it fool the onlookers?

Sandie 1 April 1972

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Desmond Walduck?) – last episode
  • Wendy the Witch (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Steve McQueen (artist Bob Gifford)

It’s nice to see the some of the elements in colour on the front. Norah’s swimming suit looks great and the colour work really enhances the image taken from the story inside. Last week’s cover showed us Sandra the ballet dancer with brown hair, which looked rather nice. Imagine if this had been published by Marvel in colour inside and out – somehow it seems to make a difference to how you see a character if you imagine them with a different hair colour.

Norah’s cousin tells her that her father is a crook who stole money from the swimming club – and Mrs Maddox believes the story, because she knew him when he was the secretary of the club. She will carry on being Norah’s supporter and mentor though, as she can see that the girl is not also a crook.

Susie Mann thinks the head of the school is living luxuriously at the school’s expense – and the glimpses we catch of the head’s sinister sideways glances have the reader thinking that it must indeed be so.

Anna and her friend Julia have managed to get Mr Crossley to come and talk to the estate dwellers in person – but Ramage has manged to poison the well against the estate owner and he is not well received.

Dale is made to drink a mysterious beverage when she is spying on Miss Voor – but she is helped by Eva, who seems to be at least a bit on Dale’s side against Miss Voor.

In “Wee Sue”, she has to deal with machinations by Miss Chivers who wants her niece to be sports captain instead of Sue – and who is threatening to evict Sue’s mum from her home if Sue doesn’t go quietly.

It’s the last episode of “Little Lady Nobody”. Lady Elaine has been found guilty of being an impostor and is sentenced to be transported for life – but in the nick of time, Sir William Moresby is found alive and on his way home. All comes well at the last moment. An advert tells the reader that next week’s new story will be called “Slaves of the Sorcerer”.

Sandra is dancing superbly well most of the time but her rival does manage to get the wheel-chair bound twin sister out of the way for long enough to nearly put the kibosh on the dancing twin’s chances in front of the great Dame Valerie in the audience.

Trudy finds out that her sporting rivals have gone to the lengths of trying to poison Silver by slipping yew tree leaves in his feed bag – they really are sinking low.

Sandie 25 March 1972

See also Mistyfan’s previous post on this issue.

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Desmond Walduck?)
  • Wendy the Witch (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Richard Neillands)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Gary Warren (artist Bob Gifford)

Norah’s horrible Uncle Philip tells Mrs Maddox an awful secret that makes her turn away from Norah – but what is it?

Susie gets her school class to set up a fete to collect money to help out the school – knowing that doing so will make the school look shamefully badly run. Which it is.

Anna tells Julia that Ramage the estate manager is behind much of the trouble between Julia’s father and the tenants. Julia will try to help, but in the meantime Anna is in danger.

Dale makes herself a robe so that she can pretend to be one of a group of masked schoolgirls who seem literally entranced by the evil Miss Voor – but her costume may put her in danger.

Wee Sue finds a way to save her school from being shut down in order for a motorway to be built through their land – all she needs to do is to ‘scale the wall of Swithers Castle without the aid of mechanical means’ (in this case by climbing up a pyramid of girl athletes).

Elaine and Mary resort to blowing the lock off the door in order to escape the gruesome death planned for them by one of their many enemies – and in their escape they even find some friends, finally.

Sandra and Joan have made up their quarrel and the psychic bond between them is operating at full force – so Sandra is set to give a super performance in front of Dame Valerie, patron of the Southern Ballet Company.

This week’s episode of “Bonnie’s Butler” is drawn by a fill-in artist – namely Richard Neillands, who drew “Darling Clementine” in Jinty some years later. Here it is:

click thru

click thru

Trudy ends up running the rag and bone cart in order to save Mr MacReady from worrying – but then her beloved horse Silver seems to fall sick.

Sandie 18 March 1972

I am going to try limiting myself to a maximum of one sentence for each story (particularly focusing on serials) otherwise I fear that I will never get through the pile of Sandies, even though it was a relatively short-lived title. I aim to revisit the serials later in the format of story posts (as we do for stories printed in Jinty and elsewhere): a sample episode, story summary, and discussion of relevant themes and points. So even if the stories are not described in much detail right now, you will get much more in later posts.

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Desmond Walduck?)
  • Wendy the Witch (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Barry Gibb (artist Bob Gifford)

Mrs Maddox finds out some of the abuse that Norah is going through at the hands of her family: Norah is accepted into the swimming club as a non-paying member after all.

Susie Mann discovers that all the school textbooks and other material are decades out of date, and decides to do organize a fete to do something about it.

The episode of “Brenda’s Brownies” this week is particularly good: the last panel is my favourite, I think it really makes it.

Julia helps Anna escape from trouble-makers at her housing estate, but the estate itself is banding together against Anna’s father who is planning to kick them all out, so tempers are rising.

Dale finds a hidden room with CC TV and and witnesses Miss Voor doing mysterious things to their school mate Agnes.

Wee Sue says she’s not that good at gym but with the help of a book she seems to master it very quickly. She seems a bit too much of a wonder girl, I must say.

Little Lady Nobody is not far from an exciting close – Elaine Moresby’s life keeps on being threatened by the associates of her evil uncle. Will she get blown up in the latest attempt?

Sandra and her sister Joan discover they have been tricked by an enemy who has been trying to separate them – they make amends and re-join forces to allow Sandra to keep dancing until Joan’s back is better.

Trudy skips detention at school in order to ride in a race, which she would have won if not for the sneaky trick of her rival, swiftly followed by the medical collapse of her mentor Mr Macready.

Sandie 11 March 1972

Sandie 11 March 1972

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Desmond Walduck?)
  • Wendy the Witch (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Dave Cassidy (artist Bob Gifford)

I am behindhand in getting back to these issues of Sandie – partly for personal / work reasons, and partly I suspect that I am making the description of each issue a bit too long to easily complete. Let’s see if there is mileage in cutting down the entries a little.

Norah is being nobbled by her cousin and family – Mrs Maddox is defending and supporting her but the cousin’s nasty trick in putting the clock forward by an hour may prevent Norah from succeeding in her swimming trial.

Susie Mann is still championing the underdogs at her school, even against her own family. It is a real kangaroo court that her friend is facing! Very corrupt goings-on in this school.

Estate Manager Ramage has made it look like protagonist Anna has pinched some fruit that she never did. Her family don’t really believe her, but the fact she says she’s friends with Julia, the landlord’s daughter, is the real clincher in their disbelief. Lots of sobs accompany this Quesada artwork, and worse is to come as the tenants of the estate are all given their eviction order.

Dale has discovered something interesting with the stony-faced enforcers of Miss Voor’s – one of them is smiley and joyful as she sees a swallow flying. What’s that all about?

In “Little Lady Nobody”, Elaine Moresby is still trying to get to the bottom of why her uncle wants to see her dead. She has a chance to testify against him in court (with it all rigged against her, of course) – but her uncle argues that it would be unfair to her friend Mary’s mother. What will Elaine do next?

There is a voting box in this week’s issue, filled out by the owner. At this time, her favourite story was “The School of No Escape”, followed by “Wee Sue” and “Anna’s Forbidden Friend”.

“Sandra Must Dance” – Sandra’s sister Joan hates seeing her twin dancing under her namme, even though Sandra is only doing it to support their gran. The psychic bond between the two girls falters, but Sandra is able to continue dancing because she has had more practice now than before. A secret enemy tries to separate them further via a forged letter – will it work?

In “Silver Is A Star”, Mr MAcReady is out of hospital – though who knows if he is really as well as he claims to be – and Trudy is bidding fair to win her race – until the two snob rivals try to get her disqualified.