Tag Archives: School of Dark Secrets

Princess II, #21, 11 February 1984

Princess 21 cover

  • School of Dark Secrets (artist Carlos Cruz) – final episode
  • Laura in the Lyon’s Den (artist Bob Harvey)
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • The Runaway Clown (artist José Canovas?)
  • How Mean Are You? – Quiz
  • Horse from the Sea… (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Princess Pet Book part 3
  • Rowena of the Doves (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Sheena and the Treetoppers (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • The Saddest Dog in Town (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Fun Fair (puzzles)

This is Princess II’s one and only Valentine issue. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, which gives it topical flavour. Only Sadie in Waiting actually commemorates Valentine’s Day (below), and we get a hint that Grovel has a softer side, though of course he won’t admit it.

“School of Dark Secrets” reveals its secret. The staff are descended from the Witches of Barnham. All they need to complete the coven and receive the powers of the original witches is Judy, the descendant of Alvira, the 13th witch in the portrait. Too bad for the witches they failed to spot the clue that the portrait of Alvira had been painted over with that of Judy’s great-great-grandmother, so they grabbed the wrong descendant. Now did someone paint the portrait over to fool the witches or because they couldn’t stand the sight of Alvira’s ugly mug? At any rate, the school is closed down and then reopened with more wholesome staff.

Laura is way too much for Mrs Lyon this week – she actually throws a huge, creamy cake in the woman’s face! She’s still serving in the restaurant though.

Stefa starts on the path to turn her heart into stone to avoid feeling grief again. Everyone is upset by the change in her but don’t realise why. The doctor advises a complete change. A fat lot of good that’s going to do.

Princess, the elephant performer, is so jealous of “The Runaway Clown” that she sets a tiger on her. This backfires big time on Princess, and it looks like it’s about to lead to the Big Top going up in flames as well.

The Treetoppers fend off an escaped lion, but their treehouse is still facing the bulldozers. Then Sheena has a brainwave – but what is it?

The origin of the “Horse from the Sea” is revealed this week. Legend says a Penrose married the daughter of the King of the Sea, and she came up from the sea on the horse. Ever since then the horse has appeared whenever the heir of Penrose is in danger, which apparently is what is happening now.

Rowena’s father, King Guthlac, has sent her to summon her three brothers to his aid. One brother has already refused, as has the second this week, because he’s in the power of a vampire. It’s all down to the third now.

In “The Saddest Dog in Town”, a clue emerges as to who the dog’s lost owner is. He is linked to Jess, a girl who wanted to learn ballet, but her parents couldn’t afford it. But where is Jess?

Sadie in Waiting Valentine

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Princess II, #19, 28 January 1984

Princess 19 cover

  • The Saddest Dog in Town (artist Eduardo Feito) – first episode
  • Laura in the Lyon’s Den! (artist Bob Harvey) – first episode
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie) – first episode
  • School of Dark Secrets (Carlos Cruz)
  • The Runaway Clown (artist José Canovas?) – first episode
  • Rowena of the Doves (artist Peter Wilkes) – first episode
  • Are You a Scaredy Cat ? Quiz
  • Horse from the Sea (artist Rodrigo Comos) – first episode
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Princess Pet Book (artist Mario Capaldi) – feature
    Sheena and the Treetoppers (artist Rodrigo Comos)

 

This is where Princess switches to the Tammy format (same newsprint, style and page count) and starts printing reprints from Tammy and Jinty. A new comic using reprints is not a good sign. It is an indication of an ailing comic and cutting costs, or perhaps even that the decision had already been made to merge Princess with Tammy.

The reprints are “Stefa’s Heart of Stone”, “Horse from the Sea” (Jinty) and “Rowena of the Doves” (Tammy). Later another reprint, “The Dream House” from Tammy, joins the lineup. Stefa was one of Jinty’s most popular stories. There was a huge demand to repeat her story in “Pam’s Poll“. Despite this, it was a repeat that did not eventuate in either the remainder of Jinty’s run or her merge into Tammy, but it finally did so in Princess and would continue in the Tammy merger.

However, there are also totally new stories. In “The Saddest Dog in Town” the Dentons take in Sammy, a dog who hitched a ride into town, but there is a real mystery as to why Sammy is so sad. It appears to be linked to his searching for something (or someone?) and disappointed to find it.

In “Laura in the Lyon’s Den!”, Aunt Leroy decides it’s time to get someone to sort out her spoiled and mischievous niece, Laura. That’s definitely a good idea, but is the approach – give Laura a holiday job in the family restaurant under the strict supervision of Mrs Lyon – going to work out? Mrs Lyon herself is not happy about such a burden, and Laura’s a real handful. Still, Laura could meet her match in Mrs Lyon as she definitely has what it takes to deal with a rotten brat.

In “The Runaway Clown” Cindy runs away from a children’s home where she always puts her foot in it. She is drawn to the circus, where she goes to the rescue of a tightrope walker in trouble although she’s never walked a tightrope before.

The Treetoppers’ treehouse is in danger. The site is going to be demolished to make way for a stadium. The Treetoppers decide they’re going to put up a fight. Meanwhile, Judy tries to get her father to take her away from the “School of Dark Secrets”, but Miss Grimkin is onto Judy and manages to pull the wool over Dad’s eyes.

Princess Bee goes away; Grovel takes advantage to open the place to guided tours, and passes himself off as a lord. He is in danger of being caught out when Princess Bee returns unexpectedly. Sadie graciously covers up for him – while still teaching him a lesson.

Princess II, #18, 21 January 1984

Princess cover 18

  • Sheena and the Treetoppers (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • The Ghostly Ballerina (photo story) – final episode
  • Fairy Tale (artist Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?)) – final episode
  • School of Dark Secrets (artist Carlos Cruz)
  • Sadie-in-Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Lena Lends a Hand… (artist John Johnston) – complete story

Issue 18 was the last Princess II to use the Girl II format and newsprint that the series had used since #1. From #19, Princess II switched to the same format, newsprint and page count as Tammy. She dropped the photo stories and the colour pages and became an exclusively picture story comic like Tammy. In so doing, she broke away from being the sister comic to Girl II and became more like the sister comic to Tammy, though she did not say so. She hailed the new look as “great news”, but it was clearly anything but. In fact, it was a sign that she was in trouble and cutting costs. This is particularly telling in her reprinting old serials from Tammy and Jinty. Years later these reprints had the benefit of enabling some of the original artwork from IPC girls’ comics to survive, of which very little has. But at the time, a new comic falling back on reprints from older titles was a very, very bad sign.

Princess great news

As Princess II drops the photo stories this issue, naturally this is the last episode of “The Ghostly Ballerina”. Clare finds a way to lay the troublesome ghost of Arabella Hood and free herself from Arabella’s power: create a ballet about Arabella’s life to give her the fame that her premature death deprived her of.

Also ending this issue is “Fairy Tale”, our tale of mixed-up fairy tales. It gets even crazier with a genie who grants two wishes instead of three, and he is so deaf he often mishears your wishes – to the cost of the evil Morgana when she calls upon him for wishes. The greedy Angie does not emerge from the adventure much improved once the girls return home, though she does get a comeuppance for it.

“Lena Lends a Hand…”, the complete story, is clearly a filler story to mark time until the whole new lineup begins in the new look Princess next issue. Lena tries to follow the Brownie motto and lend a hand one Saturday, but her efforts always keep going wrong – until she unwittingly lends a hand to catch a thief.

Judy Marshall is beginning to unravel the mystery of “The School of Dark Secrets”. The school staff are in some sort of secret occult, and they say their thirteenth sister has arrived, which completes the coven. They are referring to a portrait, and when Judy gets a look at it, she finds it is of a girl who looks just like her!

Grovel is taking delight in spooking everyone with the ventriloquism he has learned from a book. But it isn’t long before Sadie learns to fight fire with fire.

A club called the Treetoppers has formed around Sheena’s treehouse. But someone is spying on them. Is it the snobby Beverley Sneed, who’s already suspicious, or someone else? Sheena soon finds that somebody has definitely been around the treehouse, and they’ve stolen her bike too.

Princess II, #16, 7 January 1984

Princess cover 16

  • The Ghostly Ballerina (photo story)
  • Suzy and Snowdrop (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Fairy Tale (artist Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?))
  • School of Dark Secrets (artist Carlos Cruz) – first episode
  • Best of Friends… (photo story)
  • Sheena and the Treetoppers (artist Rodrigo Comos?)
  • Sadie-in-Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Princess Diana Pinup

The cover story is Princess’ one and only ballet story, “The Ghostly Ballerina”. Clare is in the power of a ghost ballerina named Arabella Hood whose power can make her dance brilliantly, but also makes her life a nightmare, and Arabella can harm others around Clare as well. The advantage of doing it as a photo story is that we get correct and graceful ballet; after all, they would have to use real ballerinas for the models. This is something that does not always happen with hand drawn ballet stories (depending on the style and research of the artist). The disadvantage is that the ghost does not look very convincing, especially as the photo story is in colour, which shows flesh colour more. More white makeup on the model or shooting the serial in black and white might have helped.

In “Suzy and Snowdrop”, poor Jane makes a complete fool of herself at a gymkhana when her demanding Aunt Alice forces her to enter it although she’s scared stiff of horses. Then Suzy realises Aunt Alice seems to have a thing about mounting horses herself, and she finds the answer to that mystery when she opens a silver box. But then, it looks like Aunt Alice has driven Jane too far because Suzy discovers she’s run away.

There is some controversy about the artist who draws “Fairy Tale” (below). The work is signed Julio Bosch, but the same or similar style has been ascribed to Martin Puigagut. I don’t know whether it is the same artist using a pseudonym or two different artists with a similar style. Both things have happened in girls’ comics. Some clarity could be useful here. In the story, Jane and her selfish, greedy cousin Angie find themselves in a fairy tale world where all the fairy tales are getting mixed up. They meet the frog prince who needs the kiss of a princess to change him back, and the only ones available are Sleeping Beauty and Morgana, the evil villainess of the story. Then it’s a dash of Snow White when the magic mirror says the awful Angie (of all people!) is the fairest in the land, not Morgana. So Morgana tells her guards to find Angie and “off with her head!” Hmm, do we have a sneaking hope that Morgana will succeed there?

Fairy tale

In “School of Dark Secrets”, Judy Marshall does not like the creepy-looking Miss Grimkin, headmistress of Tadbury Boarding School, who seems unusually interested in her. It should be very suspicious when Judy is given a free space at Miss Grimkin’s school, which has never happened to anyone before. And things sure get creepy when Judy hears chanting in the night. Nobody else does, because it looks suspiciously like they are being drugged from drinking the hot chocolate they receive.

In “Sheena and the Treetoppers”, Sheena Hunter and her siblings are thrilled about the treehouse they have found. They discover the treehouse was very dear to Edwina, a girl who had to leave it behind to get married. Then Sheena starts getting dreams of Edwina urging her to save the treehouse. Is the treehouse haunted or something? I cannot quite identify the artist. I’m leaning toward Rodrigo Comos, but I am not sure.

Sheena

“Best of Friends…” is the old three’s a crowd routine. Katie Thomas and Lizzie Burton have been best friends until Linda comes along and Katie feels she is being shut out of things. Or is it her jealousy and emotional reactions that are tearing the friendship apart? That’s the question this week.

Sadie runs after a piece of litter that Grovel dropped. By the time she catches it and drops it in the bin, she has left a messy trail of chaos behind her. The same gag has also been used in “Snoopa”.