Tag Archives: Strange Story

IGNCC18, Bournemouth: Anne Digby

As promised, a few notes so far on the comics conference I am attending here in Bournemouth. Julia Round is one of the key organisers and as such it was always likely to have interest for girls comics readers as her own research interest at the moment is on Misty and the gothic. Also attending, speaking, and helping to organise the event are Joan Ormrod (who is interested in British weekly publications such as Mirabelle and Roxy) and Dr Mel Gibson whose “Remembered Reading” was discussed on this blog.

The key event on the first day of the conference was an interview session at the end of the day between Mel Gibson and Anne Digby. This was recorded by Alex Fitch (of internet radio channel Resonance FM) with the aim of transmitting it at a future date. Anne Digby talked about her start in working life, getting her first job at 16 as an editorial trainee or apprentice at Amalgamated Press in London, working on School Friend. This matched her early desire, from the age of 8 or so, to be a writer. Learning on the job and being paid to do so was right up her street. She had been a reader of comics and of School Friend itself as a child, so she was particularly thrilled from that perspective.

There was one other trainee when she joined the team, another young woman; they worked with an older lady, Isobel Winchester (corrected following confirmation with AD) who was an old hand and trained them in sub-editing tasks. In the talk, Anne didn’t go into lots of detail of what those tasks consisted of, but she did say that it included editing texts sent in by freelancers and other writers by tidying them up. Afterwards in separate conversation she also explained that it included the commissioning of work too, including the matching of artists to writers. It was very much a journalistic job, pulling together the finished creation that the reader consumes.

In case the above misleads on the prevalence of women in the comics business, Mel did ask about whether there were many other women writers or artists that worked at the time that Anne Digby was associated with the Amalgamated Press / Fleetway / IPC as it became over the years. Evelyn “Polly” Flinders, artist on the long-running girls school story “The Silent Three”, was an obvious example for her to mention; Anne had memories of her as a lovely person who didn’t look stereotypically ‘artistic’ (she wore tweeds and had her hair in a schoolma’arm bun). One interesting snippet was that Flinders was unusual in not having an agent to represent her, as the other artists generally did. (Writers did not have agent representation, but artists did.) She would turn up to deliver her art in person, carrying it in a large portfolio, so she was a regular figure to Digby. However, the number of women creative contributors engaged in producing the comics seems otherwise to have been relatively minimal.

The expectation in that job was that people would take the opportunity to do extra writing jobs on a freelance basis, and eventually transition to going completely freelance. Anne did indeed do this. She wrote text stories and comics for A.P. / Fleetway for some years, and children’s novels from the mid- to late 70s onwards. Indeed, her own take on why the comics market declined is precisely because of the rise of children’s novels at ‘pocket money’ prices – the Armada Lions and the like of the times expanded the market beyond what Puffin had done when they stood alone as the big name in children’s books.

Digby is clearly pleased with and proud of her work even at this distance in time; she has favorites that she happily cites (such as semi-supernatural story “The Dance Dream” and horse story “Olympia Jones”. This is as it should be, of course – her work was read by masses of children and stayed with those readers for a long time, and it stands up to the test of time on re-read. I hope that her wish to see “Olympia Jones” and other work re-issued will come to pass.

Further posts will follow, covering the David Roach talk in particular. However one thing I can quickly share is a photo of the script that Anne Digby brought along to the event: for a Strange Story called “The Cat”. The script was around 5 pages long but I didn’t photograph the rest of it. How lovely to see physical artifacts still around from that time, and still legible too!

Tammy 10 March 1979

Tammy cover 10 March 1979

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Nurse Grudge (artist Tony Coleman)
  • A Girl Called Steve (artist Diane Gabbot)
  • My Terrible Twin (artist Juliana Buch)
  • The Moon Stallion (artist Mario Capaldi) – final episode
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and the Portrait Painter (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – first episode
  • Unlucky for Some (artist John Armstrong) – Strange Story
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Thursday’s Child (artist Juan Solé, writer Pat Mills)
  • Just Jogging Along! (feature)

It’s Friday the 13th (did you know there is a Friday 13th in a month that begins on a Sunday?). So this issue of Tammy is being profiled to commemorate. It’s not just because the theme on the cover – Dracula vs Tammy – should make it a Halloween issue but isn’t. It’s also because the number 13 is the theme of this issue’s Strange Story, which appears below. Could the mysterious 13th floor in the story have been one inspiration for “The 13th Floor” in Scream!, perhaps? It is a bit like how Scream’s 13th floor works in the way it teaches arrogant Annette a lesson. All that’s missing is Max the computer. Oh well, judge for yourself. It sure looks like Bella Barlow’s Aunt Gert was the inspiration for the workhouse matron anyway.

Click thru

 

There is no Bella yet. Instead, the first story is part two of “Nurse Grudge”. It was extremely rare for Tammy to have a nursing story (the same went for Jinty). It’s also a revenge story, where Greta Jones starts as a student nurse at her dad’s old hospital to get revenge on the staff who got him dismissed 20 years ago. His old notebook is full of the details of their turning against him – but no details at all on why they turned against him or just what he was dismissed for. Now why did he leave that part out of his journal? Greta has noticed the omission but not looked into it at all before starting her vendetta against the hospital – and perhaps she should have done…?

Tammy’s adaptation of “The Moon Stallion” TV series ends this week. Next week is “The Outcast of Oakbridge”.

Bessie sneaks into town after Miss Stackpole, who is going to a dance. Hijinks ensue with Miss Stackpole and Bessie ending up in the same farmer’s truck and then having to use an old raincoat and sacking against pouring rain while trudging into town. Miss Stackpole finds she has missed the dance because she got her dates muddled, but the raincoat wins her first prize at a tramps’ ball instead.

It’s a real turnabout for Molly Mills in her new story, but it’s one she could well do without. Lady Stanton turns against Molly when a painter prefers to paint Molly than her. Then Molly is very surprised to find her arch-enemy Pickering suddenly coming over to her side and being supportive against Lady Stanton’s jealousy. Now he couldn’t possibly be doing that unless there’s something in it for him – but what? Is he hoping for a group portrait with Molly or something?

From the moment Stephanie “Steve” Sutton has arrived at her father’s archaeological dig, it has been looking more and more like enemies are trying to scare her away. They certainly are doing a very good job of scaring her in this episode. Now she’s being dragged into a terrifying magician’s act.

“My Terrible Twin” is beginning to turn around – but just as she does, her remand home past begins to catch up. First, an unreformed girl from the remand home wants Lindy to help her shoplift, and then swears revenge when Lindy refuses. Then Lindy’s enemy Helen discovers her past and is going to tell the boss!

Sometimes Wee Sue had two-part or even three-part stories, and this is the final episode of one of them. So far her class’s skiing holiday abroad has been disappointing because the whole setup looks a cheat. It turns out to be a troubled business with the owner reduced to running it as a one-man-band (chef, ski instructor, DJ etc) while not having the slightest idea how to do all the roles. Does one of Sue’s famous brainstorms save the day? No, it’s more a lucky fluke (and extremely improbable one) that turns everything around.

Thursday’s legs are mysteriously paralysed after her fall. However, Thursday has no doubt that the evil Union Jack and Julie’s strange grudge against her, which caused the fall, are behind this. Then comes a turning point: Julie is now willing to explain just what her problem is with Thursday.

Tammy 25 March 1978

Tammy 25 March 1978

Cover Artist: John Richardson

  • Melanie’s Mob (artist Edmond Ripoll)
  • Maisie – Fashion Crazy (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • Mask for Melissa – (artist Angeles Felices)
  • Tuck-in with Tammy – Easter Bonnet cake
  • An Easter Bonnet (artist Audrey Fawley) – Strange Story
  • Greetings for Easter – Feature
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills on the Run (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • The Black Hunter (artist Ken Houghton) – Strange Story
  • Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)
  • Wee Sue (artist Mike White)
  • Gail at Windyridge (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Easter Gifts – Feature

This is Tammy’s Easter issue from 1978. Easter bonnets are a huge feature inside. Tammy presents a recipe for an Easter bonnet cake. Sue designs a winning Easter bonnet for Miss Bigger after accidentally squashing her original. The Storyteller even has a Strange Story about an Easter bonnet that serves as a time travel device. It sets in motion a series of events that make sure a lady’s inheritance does not go to grasping relatives. Edie starts out all eager to eat the Easter eggs she has received. Bessie Bunter and the Editor are among the donors. However, Edie keeps seeing eggs so much in one form or other that she goes off them in the end. “Greetings for Easter” discusses Easter customs. The back cover is a feature on how to make Easter gifts, including Easter cards and Easter egg gift baskets.

Surprisingly, there is no Easter theme in the Bessie Bunter story. Instead, it’s hijinks as Cliff House prepares for a concert. Rather to her chagrin, Bessie is put in cat costume for Dick Whittington (played by Miss Stackpole). Talk about a fat cat!

You may have noticed there is no Bella Barlow in the lineup. Indeed, from 1976 to 1981 Bella followed a pattern where she did not start until April at the earliest. And when she did start, she had plot threads that kept going until late in the year.

“Melanie’s Mob” can be described as the Tammy version of “Concrete Surfer”. Melanie Newton has started a skateboard club and is campaigning to get a skateboarding rink added to the local sports centre. This week things look hopeful when the council says they’ll consider it. But then other clubs pose a problem that could cancel the site the skateboarding club want. Melanie says there’s only one chance, but it means using their skateboarding skills like never before. Now what can she have in mind?

“Maisie – Fashion Crazy” is a sequel to the earlier “Maisie of Mo Town”. Maisie and Mary Malone are in Paris with Gran while Mum’s away. Maisie has a mystery she wants to unravel: why has the man Mum left in charge of business suddenly flown in to Paris as well?

Melissa has developed a real chip on her shoulder about the scars on her face. She can’t bear the sight of her own face, which she hides with a mask while trying to re-establish her performing career. This week she goes into utter hysterics while waitressing when she sees her reflection, smashes the mirror in her room, and also loses a friend with her carry-on.

Molly Mills has returned to a new employer at Stanton Hall. Her existing knowledge of the hall from her Stanton employment is proving a tremendous help to everyone. But her secret about being a fugitive (after being framed for theft) is in danger when a photo of her earlier days at Stanton Hall is uncovered.

At Windyridge, Gail Peters and her father are in similar trouble. They are staying there under false names because Dad has been wrongly branded a horse doper. Unfortunately the residents of Windyridge suspect Dad’s true identity and have called in his previous employer, Owen Winters. Meanwhile, Winters is looking increasingly suspicious himself. Gail has linked him to sabotage at Windyridge, and then she overhears a conversation that suggests Winters had a hand in that horse doping. Well, well, well!

There is also a bonus Strange Story. Now and then Tammy treated her readers to one. “The Black Hunter” is said to revive if his horn is blown three times. June Warren has already blown it twice. Will she blow it the fateful third time or will she see the danger in the nick of time?

Tammy 9 April 1977

Tammy cover 9 April 1977

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Witch Hazel (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • Towne in the Country (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Copper’s Kid (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • The Elephant and Castle Case (artist John Armstrong) – Strange Story
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and the War Games (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – final episode
  • Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)
  • Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)
  • Katie on Thin Ice (artist John Armstrong) – final episode
  • The Dream House (artist Mike White)

We continue honouring the upcoming Easter season with Tammy’s Easter issue from 1977. Strangely, we have just one Cover Girl this week. Her daydream is about to send sticky goo from her Easter egg all over her head, and big sis is not around (for once) to handle the situation – or laugh at it, maybe?

Poor Bessie Bunter does not fare much better. To her mind, Easter is “Feaster”, but what she gets is far from feasting. She does not have enough money for a decent Easter egg. She tries to run away to Easter Island in the mistaken belief she would find one there. But all she gets in the end is a boiled egg because she missed her tea.

Edie goes egg-rolling, and her egg ends up going all over Farmer Grump, who really is a grump. Moreover, she forgot to hard-boil it, so he’s even grumpier. But not Edie, who still has her chocolate Easter egg.

Sue’s school is chosen to appear on a community singing TV programme at Easter. But Miss Bigger is threatening to ruin it and not only with her terrible singing voice – she’s also over-dressed herself in an Easter outfit.

There is no Bella Barlow. Instead, John Armstrong has been drawing a period story, “Katie on Thin Ice”, probably because ice-skating is such a feature in the story. Katie Williams has fallen foul of a Fagin-style racket run by Mrs Winter, who also forces her to use her ice-skating skills to commit crimes. And now Mrs Winter is out for murder by sending the whole ice fair under the ice with salt. Katie has to stop Mrs Winter and save her imperilled friends while keeping ahead of the authorities who are out to arrest her. Katie is replaced by a ballet story next week, “The Dance Dream”, so still no Bella.

John Armstrong is also drawing this week’s Strange Story, which has some reference to Easter, but even more to Sherlock Holmes. Joan Watson is sent to take her mother’s necklace to Baker Street for re-stringing, but she loses it. Then she gets knocked down by a car, and goes into a garbled dream (or something) where Sherlock Holmes himself offers his services to help locate the necklace. When Joan wakes up, the dream has given her enough clues to track down the necklace.

“Witch Hazel” is a Catweazle-type story where a 16th century witch named Hazel comes to the 20th century to learn witchcraft, and does not understand that she’s in the wrong century for witchcraft. Hazel’s first day in a 20th school is taking the science teacher by surprise: she demonstrates alchemy! Then Hazel reacts with horror at the sight of the school gym. Does she think it’s a torture chamber or something?

“Towne in the Country”, which had started out as Tammy’s answer to “All Creatures Great and Small”, took a jarring change of tack when Val Towne sets out to find her father, who had failed to return from an African expedition. This would have been better as two different serials. At any rate, Val and her companions have now been captured by a hostile African tribe. And from the looks of the idol they have been brought to, they are to be sacrificed to the tribe’s god.

Gill Warden has been having a hard time being accepted in the village her policeman father has been transferred to. They call her “copper’s kid”, but now there’s another reason for their hostility: they are hiding a secret from her, and they will only show it to her if she agrees to be blindfolded while they escort her.

Stanton Hall has been taken over by soldiers – but then Molly finds out they are criminals planning to spring their buddies out of jail. It’s Molly’s quick wits and resourcefulness to find a way to outwit them.

“The Dream House” was reprinted in Princess II. It is far from dreamy, though – it’s an evil doll house that is progressively taking away all the older members of the household, and the two youngest children are helping it for some reason.

Tammy 24 April 1976

Tammy 24 April 1976

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Sarah in the Shadows (artist Mario Capaldi) – final episode
  • Sit It out, Sheri (artist John Armstrong) – final episode
  • Luck of the Draw (artist Juliana Buch) – Strange Story
  • Claire’s Airs and Graces (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and the Secret Offer (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)
  • The Fairground of Fear (artist Diane Gabbot) – final episode
  • A Lead through Twilight (artist Douglas Perry) – final episode

 

This is Tammy’s Easter issue from 1976. You might feel sorry for the younger Cover Girl, who gets a much smaller egg than her big sister. But on many covers she is the one who is the bane of her older sister. Inside, Tammy commemorates Easter with an Easter competition, “Easter Fun Parade” (Easter-themed jokes on the back cover), and Bessie Bunter. Cliff House revives old Easter customs: pie scrambling and orange rolling. Bessie wants to get in on the action, but of course it’s for eating rather than participating. Bessie’s classmates roll her lemons to teach her a lesson, and she cops a mouthful of lemon before she realises what they are. However, Miss Stackpole takes pity on Bessie’s miserable lemon face and rolls her a huge Easter egg to give her a happy ending.

In the Strange Story, Joanne Lyons is taught a lesson about greed, but not for Easter eggs. After Joanne takes a horseshoe (she mistakenly thought it was stealing), she finds herself oddly haunted by horseshoes, especially when she tries to cheat or gets greedy.

In Tammy’s 5th birthday issue she started a lineup of five new stories over three issues as “birthday gifts”. In this issue four of them end, which opens up a lineup of four new stories in the next issue. Not surprisingly, Bella Barlow is in the lineup.

Throughout “Sarah in the Shadows”, Sarah Cole has been using her talent for paper cut-outs to get out of all sorts of scrapes. In the final episode this week it includes saving the life of music hall star Tilly Travers and bringing down Tilly’s evil partner, Mr Ford, who is in cahoots with the corrupt debtors’ prison governor. For reasons that are not satisfactorily explained, they are both determined to destroy Sarah and keep her unfortunate uncle in debtors’ prison. But now they are exposed, Tilly says she will make sure they never work again, and gives Sarah and her uncle jobs.

John Armstrong’s current story, “Sit it out Sheri”, makes extremely liberal use of the myth of Marie Antoinette as a haughty, hard-hearted woman who single-handedly started the French Revolution with the way she treated the lower orders. A soothsayer bewitched Antoinette’s chair in the vain hope it would help her see the light before it was too late. Centuries later the same chair helps Sheri Soames overcome her shyness, but at the cost of giving her all the arrogance of Marie Antoinette, and this has gotten Sheri into terrible trouble. For a moment, Sheri even looks decapitated when she relives the moment where Antoinette is guillotined! Fortunately, enough people become convinced about the chair for Sheri to get out of trouble. Sheri retains her confidence, and the soothsayer is pleased he had more success with her than Antoinette.

Alan Barker uses all the powers of “The Fairground of Fear” to get Sir Whitland to confess that he framed Barker on the charge that sent him to prison, just because he regarded Barker as too low to marry into his family. But Barker finds out the hard way that nothing he does will get the hard-hearted Whitland to do that. Barker settles for a surprise reunion with his daughter, whose death Whitland had faked to prevent him from claiming her.

In the final episode of “A Lead through Twilight”, farmers are after Twilight because they think he’s a sheep worrier. Fortunately they all see Twilight tackle the real sheep worrier, and Twilight is cleared. The scientific research used on Twilight is used to give Carol her sight back.

“Claire’s Airs and Graces” is the only ‘birthday gift’ story that is still running. Claire Weston-Jones has her classmates thinking she has a more privileged home life than she actually does because she fears the derision of her more snobby classmates if they discover the truth. As expected, living the lie causes all sorts of complications, and this week Claire’s parents could have been really hurt for it. They make the effort to provide a spread for Claire’s classmates, but nobody turns up because Claire doesn’t want them to see her house is not the palace they have been led to believe.

This week’s Wee Sue story also has a moral about living a lie. Sue’s classmate Ann spun a big yarn to her French penfriend Louis about her interests, and even sent a picture of Sue, saying it was herself, because Louis is a small person. Now Louis is visiting, so Ann wants Sue to help keep up the pretence. But the pretence unravels when it turns out Louis is much taller than Ann thought (got metrics and imperials mixed up).

Molly Mills has received an offer for a change of employment. Spiteful Kitty and Betty try to sabotage it by planting Lady Stanton’s hat on a snowman and looking like Molly did it, so it looks like it’s the end of that chance. But everyone is taken by surprise when Lord Stanton’s response is promote Molly to head chambermaid!

Tammy 17 February 1979

Tammy cover 17 February 1979

Cover artist: Giorgio Giorgetti

Contents

  • Mouse (artist Maria Dembilio)
  • A Girl Called Steve (artist Diane Gabbot)
  • My Terrible Twin (artist Juliana Buch)
  • Shadow on the Stage (artist Tony Coleman)
  • The Moon Stallion (artist Mario Capaldi) – adapted from TV series
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and the Haunted Hall (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • The Holden Hunt – Strange Story (artist Bob Harvey)
  • Make a Valentine Card…and Cookies – feature
  • Wee Sue (artist Mike White)
  • Thursday’s Child (artist Juan Solé, writer Pat Mills)
  • Have a Hearty Party! – feature

 

In honour of Valentine’s Day we profile Tammy’s Valentine issue for 1979, which I have just acquired.

The cover leads off the Valentine theme. Unusually, it is drawn by Giorgio Giorgetti instead of the regular cover artist, John Richardson. Tammy is the great lover on the cover instead of boys for the Cover Girls.

Inside, there are two Valentine features: one gives instructions for making Valentine cards and cookies, and the other gives tips on throwing a Valentine’s Day party. Inside, Wee Sue honours the event – in spite of Miss Bigger, who lumbers the whole class with a monstrous homework paper on Valentine’s Day because she’s upset at not getting a Valentine. Sue comes up with a solution once she acquires a box of reject Valentine cards – send them to Miss Bigger. Eventually this teaches a tight-fisted manager a lesson into the bargain when Miss Bigger takes him for the lover who sent her the Valentines. When you think about it, he and Miss Bigger would make a perfect match.

Tammy could have used Bessie Bunter and the Storyteller to enhance the Valentine theme as well. There are plenty of Bessie Valentine episodes they could have recycled and the Storyteller could have given a Strange Story with some romance in it. Instead, the Cliff House heating is busted and the caretaker is ill. Bessie ‘helps’ Miss Stackpole to fix it while trying to take advantage to swipe food from the kitchen, but it rebounds in the end. The Strange Story has an anti-fox hunting message. Lee Parsons is wearing a fox fur while running through a wood during an emergency. All of a sudden it feels and sounds like there is a fox hunt after her, and it’s terrifying. It mysteriously stops when Lee drops the fur, and later she finds out the date is the anniversary of the old annual Holden fox hunt.

You may have noticed from the lineup above that there is no Bella Barlow. Yes, she’s on hiatus. In a few weeks we learn she has been sailing home to Britain after two years of adventures and misadventures in various countries abroad, including Canada (Montreal Olympics) and Australia. Of course trouble isn’t far away once she docks, which sets the stage for her 1979 stories…but we’re getting a bit far ahead.

Tammy did many adaptations from books and TV series. This time she’s running an adaptation of “The Moon Stallion”. It is in the picture story format but uses story text in each panel instead of dialogue balloons.

“Mouse” is really ahead of its time for portraying child abduction, international custody disputes and girls being sold into forced marriages years before “Not Without My Daughter” and “Sold”. Mary “Mouse” Malloway is kidnapped by her father and brought to Sicily, where her tyrannical grandmother intends to sell her into a forced marriage in exchange for a vineyard. But in this episode, after Mouse makes it clear to her father how unhappy she is about that, he seems to be discreetly teaching her a few things that could be useful for an escape. Could he be actually helping her to do so?

“My Terrible Twin” was reprinted by popular demand in 1984. Lindy is on parole from a remand home. She has stopped the shoplifting that got her convicted, but she is having lapses of thoughtlessness and irresponsibility, and her sister Moira suffers for it. By the end of this episode Moira has had enough and she’s in tears, but she is failing to see that what Lindy is doing now could be considerate this time.

Jan Gregg is being harassed by a shadowy figure at Olivia Oldborne Memorial Stage School. It’s even made several attempts on her life. Now the Shadow has come right on stage and cornered Jan, saying “Little fool, to think you could ever rival the great Olivia Oldborne!” Hmmm, now that sounds like a clue!

Stephanie “Steve” Sutton is also being harassed while accompanying her father’s archaeological dig at Clambourne Bay. The villagers round on Steve, saying the dig has brought a curse on the whole village because it disturbed a monster called “the Acum”. But it isn’t long before we see clues that the Acum is a hoax and enemies are responsible for whatever’s going on.

Despite the title for the latest Molly story, the hall is not haunted. The ghost is a cover story for Molly’s high-spirited kid brother Billy, whom she’s trying to hide in Stanton Hall while her family visits a sick relative. But Molly will be fired if she is found out, and Pickering, who suspects what she is doing, will be very happy to see that. And this time it looks like Pickering really is going to catch Billy.

“Thursday’s Child” was one of Pat Mills’ most popular Tammy stories and one of her very best. Life has been good to Thursday Brown until she decides to use a Union Jack flag for a bedspread, despite her mother’s warnings that there is something about that flag. Soon after, a girl named Julie appears in Thursday’s bed, who claims to be Thursday’s daughter from the future. But for some reason Julie has nothing but hate for her future mother and makes her life a misery. The reason for Julie’s hatred seems to be linked to being paraplegic – and at the end of this episode, Thursday suddenly finds she has lost the use of her legs for no apparent reason, and Julie is gloating over her.

Tammy 20 May 1978

Tammy cover 20 May 1978

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong)
  • Down to Earth Blairs (artist José Casanovas)
  • Mask for Melissa (artist Angeles Felices)
  • Get Set for Chess
  • Betta to Lose (artist Tony Coleman)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and a Life of Crime (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • The Samaritan – Strange Story (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
  • Edie (artist Joe Collins)
  • Wee Sue (artist Mike White)
  • Circus of the Damned (artist Diane Gabbot)

 

Do you remember the first Jinty, Misty, 2000AD or other favourite comic you ever bought from the shelves? Well, this was the first Tammy I ever bought, and it was from here that my attraction to Tammy and other girls’ comics began.

I suspect even the British bobbies would get a laugh out of the joke on the cover and maybe even pin it up at the station. Perhaps Tammy knew that the UK police slang for traffic warden is “Gestapo”.

Bella has received a new job offer from a Mr Cox to introduce gymnastics to Port Tago, Australia. But when she tries to enter his hotel she gets barred because of her scruffy appearance (yes, they do have a point there Bella, and I for one would love to give you an Oubapo makeover!). So she resorts to breaking into the hotel, which gets her taken for a burglar. Can she get Mr Cox before the hotel gets the police onto her?

“Down to Earth Blairs” is Tammy’s answer to “The Good Life”. Redundancy has made the Blair family resort to a life of self-sufficiency, which they’ve come to enjoy, but there are still problems in how to make ends meet. This week it’s how to raise money to pay the rates. A gift from a gypsy gives the daughter Betsy the solution – homemade dolls made out of gypsy clothes pegs.

Melissa Mappin uses a mask to hide facial scars and works under the alias Gail Traynor in a London stage production. But hiding her face and true identity is causing problems, including giving the false impression she is stuck up. Worse, a girl who knew Melissa before the accident that scarred her face has shown up and is getting suspicious of her.

School sports star Betta James decides to start deliberately losing because she is tired of how the school and parents make her win sports all the time at the cost of social life, education, time for herself, and even being able to eat what she likes. But Betta is finding out that deliberately losing is not that easy because she is the winning kind by nature, so now she is resorting to sabotage. Unfortunately another girl is wrongly blamed for Betta’s self-sabotage. What can Betta do?

Miss Stackpole’s lesson on ancient Egypt sends Bessie off into one of her dream sequences. In the dream, she and Miss Stackpole are slaves in ancient Egypt and try to make a run for it. This leads to hijinks in the tomb of King Tut. The dream sequences in Bessie Bunter were always a favourite of mine because seeing the characters get so mixed up and put into different contexts was so funny.

Molly Mills has been on the run ever since Pickering framed her for theft from her employers, the Stantons. Now Molly’s sister Peggy is going off the rails and turning to actual crime. Molly has to resort to some shrewd measures to get Peggy straight again. Now that’s done, Molly is heading back to Stanton Hall, of all places.

There is nothing supernatural in this week’s Strange Story, although the superstitious fools in the story think otherwise. False accusations of witchcraft are levelled against a 17th century French charity worker, Marie Bisset, because her enemies want her out of the way. Fortunately Marie receives warning, and her uncle is also there to help her flee. Their escape has their pursuers actually thinking Marie has made herself disappear by witchcraft.

It’s fund-raising time for Wee Sue this week, and her big idea is the greasy pole challenge. Although it raises plenty of funds, it leads to a sticky situation in the end.

Carla Keble has been taken for tightrope star Princess Astrid and brought to Yablonski’s circus. Yablonski wants to make his circus the greatest show on Earth, which he does by blackmailing his performers into dangerous stunts, with no regard for their lives. How many people has he killed because of this? He also holds them prisoner with electric fences, guards and guard dogs, as Carla finds out when she tries to escape that night.

June and School Friend 15 May 1971

June cover 15 May 1971

  • Oh, Tinker! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Wild Girl of the Hills (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Angela Replies… (problem page)
  • Gymnast Jinty (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Pick of the Post (letters page)
  • Bessie Bunter (artist Arthur Martin, writer Ron Clark)
  • Pony Trek Penny – text story (artist Jim Baikie, writer Linda Blake)
  • The Grays Fight Back! (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Showdate Shirley Reports on Arthur Lowe (of Dad’s Army)
  • Sindy and Her Friends in: Operation Ugly Duckling (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Sindy’s Scene: Her Diary and Club News
  • Nature’s Wonderful Ways (artist Helen Haywood)
  • Lucky’s Living Doll (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • The Champions (Karen Muir) – first episode
  • Animal World
  • The Curse of Witch Wood – Strange Story
  • Dotty Doogood (cartoon)
  • Orphans Alone (artist Tom Kerr)
  • Call Me Cupid! (artist Bill Baker)

In this issue “The Champions” begin, a feature that profiles a sports champion each week. Starting off the series is Karen Muir, a South African swimming star who retired at 18. At the time, Muir was distinguished for being the youngest world breaker holder at the age of 12.

This week’s Strange Story is about a ship’s head that has a curse on it. It turns out this is because the tree used to make the ship’s head was taken from Witch Wood without planting an acorn to replace it. If there is no acorn to replace a cut-down tree in that wood, the witches curse anything made from the tree’s wood. Sounds like very ecological witches.

Tinker tries to help a boy whose lion costume lacks roar – but it works too well. Tinker manages to put it right, and the boy has no memory of what happened, thank goodness. But she now has to face her Fairy House-Mother over the matter, so don’t you go giggling at me as well, she says to readers.

We didn’t know Jinty was brilliant at tennis as well as gymnastics, but it turns out she is. She is helping out Louise, who has her heart set on Wimbledon. But it looks like an arm injury could put an end to that.

Bessie is trying to hide a dog at Cliff House for the sake of its owner, who can’t afford to keep it. But the dog’s a huge bumbling menace whose appetite rivals Bessie’s own. Eventually the school pitches in so the owner can keep the dog.

The Grays are out on the street after their horrible landlord threw them out (at least they’re well rid of that landlord), and they’re not having much luck finding anything suitable. Worse, their mum is fit to come home now – but there is no home for her to come home to. So they have to find one, and fast!

Sindy has the task of turning the ugly duckling daughter Melinda of the Mayor-elect into a swan, um mayoress, with a makeover. Melinda hasn’t been cooperative until she discovers her cousin Angela is playing dirty tricks to replace her. And lack of confidence is now proving to be a problem too, but everything works out splendidly – except for Angela, of course.

Tina is doing spring-cleaning. But it turns into disaster when a kitten interferes, followed by a dog that Lucky tried to use to dry the washing. Maybe leave it to Lucky next time eh, Tina?

“Orphans Alone” try their luck with a theatrical company, and they handle rubbish-throwing hecklers like troupers. But it turns out that wretched beadle is in the audience, so they’re back on the run.

This week “Call Me Cupid!” tells the story of how her efforts to help Cherry went so badly wrong that she got a row from the folks that just about broke her eardrums, lost her pocket money and has to do washing up every night. But she isn’t giving up on finding the man for Cherry.

In “Wild Girl of the Hills” Naomi has been wrongly accused of theft while the real thieves have tied up Jean on the moor – and a wildcat is threatening her!

June and School Friend 31 July 1971

They Call Me a Coward 5a

  • They Call Me a Coward!” (artist Leslie Otway)
  • Oh, Tinker! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Slaves of the Sleeping Ones (artist Juan Solé) – final episode
  • Animal World – feature
  • Angela Barrie: Trim ‘n’ Slim! (feature)
  • Gymnast Jinty (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Mystery of the Seal of Babylon – text story (artist Jim Baikie, writer Jean Theydon)
  • Bessie Bunter (writer Ron Clark)
  • Shirley’s Showdate: New Girl in Five C
  • Sindy and Her Friends in: Fight for Francesca! (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Sindy’s Scene: Her Diary and Club Page
  • The Champions: Ann Packer
  • Lucky’s Living Doll (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Rock of Destiny – Strange Story (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Nature’s Wonderful Ways – feature (artist Helen Haywood)
  • Orphans Alone (artist Tom Kerr)
  • Dottie Doogood (cartoon)
  • Wild Girl of the Hills (artist Carlos Freixas)

The bullying Cathy suffers at school puts her friend Lynn in danger, yet it still continues. Cathy loses her job because she is too upset over the whole affair to do it right. Her new job is proving too much for her, but she continues because her parents need the money. Everything is just piling up on our heroine!

Tinker tries to help out a sheep that has fallen down a crevice. As usual, she can’t get it right, and the sheep even takes a trip to Fairyland! At least the sheep enjoyed the trip.

It’s the final episode of “Slaves of the Sleeping Ones”. Defeating the Zurons turns out to be a matter of pressing the green button instead of the red one on their spaceship, which sends their spaceship off back into outer space. The Zurons themselves just disintegrate.

Gymnast Jinty has been secretly training Janice Stokes. Janice’s father is so opposed to her doing gymnastics that he locked her in on the day of the “Three Towns” athletic meeting. He even nailed the window shut to stop her climbing out! Jinty manages to get Janice out in time for the event. She also gives Janice’s father a good talking-to about how miserable he has made Janice by making her do things his way. Eventually Dad comes around, especially when he’s pressed to have his photo taken with his triumphant daughter.

Bessie is in a gymkhana this week. It turns out her mount is as big a food lover as she is, so she knows what to do to get him to win at every event – dangle food in front of him. What a pair!

Sindy suspects the prince her friend Francesca is set to marry is a creep, and her inquiries prove her right. The prince is a cad who squanders the family fortune and piles up debts, so it is obvious he’s out to marry Francesca for her money and squander that too. Sindy tries to show the prince up for what he is in front of Francesca, but it looks like the prince has foiled her. Fortunately the blurb for next week says that Sindy is not beaten yet.

In Lucky’s Living Doll, classmates are playing jokes with a trick spider. They get annoyed when Lucky refuses to joke someone with the spider. To keep the peace with them, Lucky pulls the joke on the teacher and cops lines.

“Orphans Alone” have a narrow escape when they get trapped at the foot of a cliff and the tide is coming in. This week’s Strange Story also has a perilous water escape, where Annie Simpson has a strange dream of a girl being kidnapped by pirates. She escapes the pirates by seizing control of the ship’s wheel and wrecking it against the Steeple Rock. The dream has Annie prepared when criminals kidnap her in the same manner, and she pulls the same stunt to escape.

Kidnapping and escaping are also the order of the day in “The Mystery of the Seal of Babylon”. The villainous Krebens has kidnapped Liza in order to force her father to reveal the whereabouts of the Seal of Babylon, a priceless relic. Liza manages an escape that would make Gymnast Jinty proud, but then a strong hand grips her. Has she been recaptured or is it something else?

In “Wild Girl of the Hills”, the mystery of Naomi’s bracelet deepens. Two gypsies know the truth, so our protagonists decide to tail them in the hope of uncovering it.