Tag Archives: Sandra Must Dance

Sandie 12 February 1972

This is the first issue of Sandie. Through a stroke of fortune, I have just today got my hands on 69 issues of Sandie (and Tammy & Sandie). These were all bought by the mother of a girl whose name is shown on the issues as ‘Diane Lidgett’. The mother in question seems to have been something of a hoarder and the now grown-up girl – herself a mother and indeed a grandmother – recently unearthed them. The family wanted the comics to go to a good home and that’s what has just happened – that is, after they had had a good chance to re-read the stories themselves! If the pressures of work and other life stuff allow, I will post about each issue  in order, as I come to them.

As with the first issues of Jinty, this runs to 40 pages. It’s packed full of stories that are drawn by familiar names, though of course it is hard to know in most cases who wrote them.

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

“Norah” looks like it is going to be a a tear-jerker Cinderella story, sharing a lot of similar ground with “Tricia’s Tragedy” in that a talented but poor swimmer needs to brave her way through challenges posed by wrong’uns from her own family as well as the difficulties put in her way by lack of money.

“Little Lady Nobody” is a riches-to-rags saga – in the first episode, snobbish Miss Elaine quickly finds out that her father has died and left only debts, meaning that she has to become a servant in the very same snobbish school that she had previously made lots of enemies in due to her horrible attitude. Only one scullery maid is on her side after her downfall and everyone else is positively out to get her.

Susie Mann is the latest of the Mann family to attend the posh private school that her ancestors started and which all of her family seem to have loved to make waves in. Susie is different, though – I had assumed at first that she might be a lovable klutz type, but by the end of this first episode it looks more like there might be something a bit sinister in how the school works, or at the very least that all her family members have enjoyed being bossy more than being kind and considerate. Whichever it is, Susie will definitely turn everything upside down, by the looks of it.

A one-pager of Brenda’s Brownies gives us some broad comedy – Brenda’s Tarantula Troupe are trying for their Baking Badge but end up needing to have a go at their Hut Building Badge, if they can possibly manage it…

Two sisters win a mystery prize in “Our Big BIG Secret” – a dog! They have been wanting one for ages but it’s the perennial question of where will they keep it, how will they pay for its food – and will their mother ever agree to let them keep it? it’s a fairly well-worn path but Jim Baikie’s art is always a treat and this has little humorous labels dotted here and there, in a way that foreshadows Baikie’s “Fran’ll Fix It!“.

From a mystery prize to a mystery story in “The School of No Escape” – Headmistress Miss Fitch of St Juniper’s has a sudden funny turn and walks out of the school entirely, only to be replaced by newcomer Miss Voor, who immediately announces herself as the new Headmistress. She is clearly a mind-controller and probably the fore-runner of an alien invasion, I shouldn’t wonder, as before the episode is out she has sent the deputy headmistress walking out in a very similar way, all the while asking the schoolgirls questions like “What are the names of the leaders of the principal nations on this planet?”

The new Earl of Locksley and his daughter are country bumpkins from rural America (though the editorial text says they come from Texas while the story intro says they are from Tennessee). Laughs ensue as the local high society mix with the rough and ready hillbillies.

Wee Sue, in her debut, is quite different from the later stories. Here Sue Strong is a small girl full of big surprises – she is clearly capable of taking down a class bully through unexpected sporting prowess, which isn’t something I would really have associated the later Sue stories with.

Bonnie Belthorp finds out that her family have inherited a butler, as per the will of the old lady that Bonnie’s mother used to do the cleaning for! This is a comedy story with a Jeeves-type character who is capable of winning through any situation.

In “Sandra Must Dance”, there are twin sisters who both love ballet, but only one of whom is any good. Duffer Sandra has to stand in for dancer Joan, and this deception bid fair to become permanent when Joan is injured in an accident and it looks like she will never be able to dance again. But Sandra has mysteriously started to feel a strange link with her twin, and this even seems to telepathically enable her to dance – on her paralysed twin’s behalf…

Trudy Parker is a poor girl who loves horses. She has a chance to buy ex-milk cart horse Star, who turns out to be a fantastic jumper – but will she find somewhere to stable him, let alone be able to enter into competitions? Her local rag-and-bone man is on her side, at any rate.

The Editorial page says there will be another great new story starting next week – I must say I can’t really see how they will manage to fit it in! Let’s see what happens…

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Sandie 25 March 1972

Sandie 25 March 1972.png

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A.E. Allen)
  • Brenda’s Brownies – cartoon strip (artist unknown)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (unknown artist – Merry)
  • Our Big Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy (artist unknown)
  • Wee Sue (artist unknown)
  • Wendy the Witch – cartoon strip (artist unknown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Richard Neillands)
  • Silver is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)

Sandie ran from 12th February 1972 to 10th October 1973 and was edited by John Wagner. She then merged with Tammy, bringing “Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie” and, more importantly, “Wee Sue”, who would last in Tammy until 1982.

I do not have the first issue of Sandie, so the seventh is presented to represent some Sandie context in Jinty’s family tree. The content of Sandie feels closer to that of the early Jinty than the early Tammy, which was more into dark tales of cruelty, abuse, exploitation and slavery. Sandie did have her share of such tales, but there was more of a blend with other types of serials. She did not have the heavy emphasis on science fiction and fantasy that Sally had either.

Tammy readers would be surprised to see how Wee Sue looked when she first began in Sandie, for her strip bears little resemblance to its premise in Tammy. Here it was not played for light relief and did not use a “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 sort out someone’s problem. She does not attend Milltown Comprehensive and there is no Miss Bigger at all. Instead, her strip looks more like a serial, and she 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.

“No-one Cheers for Norah” has such a similar premise to Jinty’s “Toni on Trial” that there has been speculation that it was the same writer. Similar to Toni, Norah Day’s father was accused of theft at a sports event years ago; the scandal just refuses to go away and the stigma is now threatening Norah’s own career in the same sport. And both girls have to contend with a scheming, jealous rival as well. But Norah’s story has a tighter plotting than Toni’s; it is resolved in 12 episodes as compared to Toni’s 21, and the resolution is far more action-packed. It may also be the same writer as Jinty’s “Tricia’s Tragedy” as both serials climax with a do-or-die swimming race against a spiteful cousin, who gets roundly booed off for her conduct afterwards.

In “Odd Mann Out”, Susie Mann leads the resistance against the tyrannical administration at her school. The tyranny is not as over the top as in some stories with a dictatorial school (say “The Four Friends at Spartan School” from Tammy), which is quite refreshing. “The School of No Escape” has a school falling under a more mysterious form of oppressive administration – pupils mysteriously disappearing and then turning up in hooded robes and looking like they’ve been brainwashed or hypnotised.

“Anna’s Forbidden Friend” is a poor girl befriends rich girl story. But the threat is not so much from the rich father but his manager, who is conducting unscrupulous evictions. In “Our Big Secret”, the threat to a friendship comes from a Mum who won’t allow dogs, so Poppy Mason has to keep her new dog Pedro secret. This leads to hijinks, such as Pedro unwittingly starting a ghost hunt in this issue.

Aristocracy also features in a few strips. In “Not So Lady-like Lucy” it’s hijinks My Fair Lady style. In “Little Lady Nobody” it’s an evil squire out to cheat his niece out of her inheritance and even – shades of “Slaves of ‘War Orphan Farm’” – make her work in a quarry! It’s even the same artist. Is that coincidence or what? And in “Bonnie’s Butler”, life gets more interesting for Bonnie Belthorp when she inherits a butler called Greston.

There just has to be a ballet story, and in this case it is “Sandra Must Dance”. Sandra can only dance through a psychic bond with her twin sister. Not the best way to be assured of a secure career, as the twins begin to discover in this episode. And now a jealous rival has worked out the secret too.

Eduardo Feito was a popular choice for drawing horse stories, especially ones that feature show jumping. “Silver is a Star” here is no exception.

And of course there are regular cartoon strips. In the case of Sandie it’s “Brenda’s Brownies” and “Wendy the Witch”.