Tag Archives: Strange Story

Tammy 20 January 1979

Tammy cover 20 January 1979

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Mouse (artist Maria Dembilio)
  • One Girl and Her Dog… (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • My Terrible Twin (artist Juliana Buch)
  • Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)
  • Thursday’s Child (artist Juan Solé, writer Pat Mills) – first episode
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and the Haunted Hall (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Menace from the Moor – Strange Story (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • The Moon Stallion – television adaptation (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • The Upper Crust (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)

 

Time for the 1979 issue in our Tammy round robin, and the issue chosen is 20 January 1979. It is three weeks into (at the time) the New Year, so naturally Tammy’s January issues are focused on new stories and clearing out old ones to make way for more new ones. The New Year also continues Tammy’s adaptation of the TV serial “The Moon Stallion”.

Bella is not part of the new lineup for the New Year though. When her story does start we learn that she’s been sailing home to Britain all the while.

We sense “The Upper Crust” is heading for its conclusion. Snobbish Mavis Blunt, of a snobbish neighbourhood, has had her nose put out of joint ever since the Carrington-Crusts moved in. She also suspects they are not all they appear to be. Now Mavis and her father suspect the Carrington-Crusts are criminals and set a trap for them, which appears to prove their suspicions. Or does it? We find out, in what we suspect is the final episode, next week.

“One Girl and Her Dog” looks like it is on its penultimate episode too. Kim Robinson and her dog Rumpus have finally caught up with Harry Whelkes, the man who has been hired to stop them claiming their inheritance in London. As a matter of fact, it’s brought the force of an entire circus down on Harry!

The circus also features in Wee Sue. Sue wants to go to the circus, but having no money, tries odd jobs there. The trouble is, two scheming girls from school have the same idea and are making sure she doesn’t get anything. They almost succeed, but the clowns decide Sue’s size will make her ideal for their act, and Sue gets the last laugh on those schemers.

“Thursday’s Child”, written by Pat Mills, starts today. It went on to become one of Tammy’s most popular stories and best-remembered classics. Life has always been good to Thursday Brown – but the splash panel on the first page tells us that will only be until she meets “the stranger” and her tears begin. And who might this stranger be? It’s the girl who mysteriously shows up in Thursday’s bed the night she starts using the family Union Jack as her bedspread. Looks like Thursday should have paid more attention to her mother’s misgivings about using the flag that way. Not to mention the strange red stuff that comes out when the flag is washed – it feels like blood. Is this a clue as to the reason why Mum was so unnerved?

“Mouse” and “My Terrible Twin”, the first Tammy stories to start in the New Year, take dramatic plot developments. Mary “Mouse” Malloway learns the reason for her strange, stranger-wary upbringing is her mother’s fears she will become the victim of an international child abduction at the hands of her estranged Sicilian father (the marriage soured because of the tyrannical mother-in-law). In the same episode, Mum’s fears come true. The father succeeds in catching up to Mary, abducts her, and is dragging her off to Sicily.

“My Terrible Twin” (Lindy) is on parole from a remand home after a shoplifting conviction and getting into a bad crowd. Her fraternal twin Moira is desperate to help her reform, which the remand home didn’t have much success in doing. However, Lindy gets off to a bad start in stealing lipsticks from the store Moira sets her up in. In this episode Lindy quietly returns them, settles into her job, and things seem to be going better. But there are clear bumps: Lindy has little sense of responsibility, and she is vain, conceited, which makes an enemy out of another employee, Helen. But that’s nothing compared to the real problem Lindy is now facing – her old crowd turn up and make trouble! Incidentally, My Terrible Twin was so popular she spawned a sequel, and her first story was reprinted by popular demand in 1984.

In the Strange Story, “Menace from the Moor”, Dad is trying to start a market garden business, but a horse from the moor keeps turning up and trampling all over his plants. It does not take long to realise there is something strange about the horse. It is getting in despite fencing, seems to just vanish, only appears on moonlit nights, and has a missing shoe. Could there be a link to the horseshoe in the house? Which, by the way, is hanging the wrong way up – the bad luck position.

Molly’s new story is “the Haunted Hall”, but it’s not really haunted. Molly is trying to hide her kid brother Billy in the hall while the family see to a sick relative. But Molly will lose her job if she is found out. Naturally, Billy’s high spirits make it hard to conceal him. His antics, plus ghost stories, are getting Pickering wound up about the hall being haunted. Pickering always did have a track history for being haunted, whether the ghost is real or fake.

Don’t talk to Bessie Bunter about birds this week! Mary Moldsworth tries to encourage Bessie to share her food with birds. But all poor Bessie gets out of it is bird bother and unfair lines.

Tammy 18 September 1978

Tammy cover 18 September 1978

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Bella (John Armstrong)
  • Maggie’s Menagerie (Tony Coleman)
  • Crawl, Carrie, Crawl (artist Juan Escandell Tores)
  • Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)
  • Double – Or Nothing! (artist Diane Gabbot)
  • Tuck-in with Tammy
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and the Maid of Mystery (artist Douglas Perry)
  • The Telly Fan – the Strange Story
  • Wee Sue (artist Barrie Mitchell?)
  • A Bus in the Family (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)

 

September 18, 1978 has been chosen for 1978 in the Tammy round robin. The cover has the Cover Girls doing what the letter column sometimes commented on what readers do with their old Tammys – build up a pile of them and put them in storage. One reader actually said she discovered someone else’s pile of old Tammys while helping her father do renovations. Even today there must be old piles waiting to be cleared out or rediscovered, and be put up on eBay for eager collectors.

Bella has to do well in a gymnastics competition in Sydney in order to keep her job as a gymnastics coach in Port Tago. Sometimes we wonder why she even bothered with that job, much less keep it, as it has been fraught with difficulties from the start that still resonate. Her employer, Mr Cox, made the job offer without thinking and realised he didn’t actually want it in the first place, but couldn’t back out. Mrs Cox tried to drive Bella off because she is a disgraced gymnast. Mrs Cox and Bella have made peace, but Mrs Cox is not the coach who can bring out the best in Bella because she is a real stick in the mud who does not realise how gymnastics have advanced since her day. So Bella is already handicapped before she even starts at the contest, and there would have to be ominous signs of trouble from an old rival as well.

“Maggie’s Menagerie” is a story about a girl (Maggie Crown) who is hiding secret pets. Her problem is not just that her gran does not like animals. It’s also because she has to hide her menagerie on gran’s barge! Maggie’s managed to get them all safely hidden on board. But how long can she keep them hidden from gran? It sounds like even she realises she can’t keep it up indefinitely.

Carrie Smith is despised as a crawler at school because of the tactics she uses, including sucking up to the new strict teacher, to keep out of detention. But the reason is she can’t afford detention – she has to run swimming lessons before and after school to keep her parents afloat while Dad is jobless. On top of that she has a sprained back but is not seeking treatment because she doesn’t want to worry her parents. Dad’s just sent off a job application and Carrie hopes to God he gets it so she can stop all this crawling.

Kate Winter is a tennis player who can’t keep a tennis partner because of her foul temper. She finally finds one in Pam Doggett, the granddaughter of the tennis club’s charlady. However, a row with her parents has Kate realise she is beginning to care for Pam. She chooses pairing with her in a tournament over a cruise, much to her snooty parents’ consternation. Dad brings Mum along to the tournament to show her what a “little grub” Pam is. But something else upsets Mum and she leaves in an awful hurry. Hmm, do we have a little mystery here?

Speaking of mystery, Molly has one in the “maid of mystery”, though this week the mystery unravels. A Mrs Bowden has framed Molly for ransacking because she has mistaken her for the new maid, Victoria. This week Victoria explains why: to get her inheritance she has to prove herself in “gainful employment”, and Mrs Bowden will get the inheritance if she fails. Lord Stanton has sent Molly away from the hall for her own protection, but not even that is stopping Mrs Bowden, who still thinks she is Victoria. At least the mistaken identity will keep the real Victoria safe, and Molly is far more capable of handling Mrs Bowden than Victoria is.

There is a definite mystery about “A Bus in the Family” as well, but nobody is investigating it. “Dodger” Wilkins, the man who sold Dad the bus he is using to take his daughter Rosie’s class on a school trip on the Continent, is so desperate to get it back that he is chasing them all the way across the Continent! Dad and Rosie didn’t know that before, but now they do because Dodger and his crony Harry seized and searched Dad. They also suspect those creeps of sabotaging the bus. Pity Rosie and her father weren’t there for the glorious scene where the crooks meet their match (below) in Rosie’s form teacher! Despite this, the chase is going on to Gibraltar next week, with nobody looking into why Dodger is going to such extremes. But from the sound of things, it’s because something is hidden on the bus – or maybe Dodger just thinks there is, as he didn’t find it.

Bus in the Family 1
Crooks get clobbered. From “A Bus in the Family”, Tammy 18 September 1978. Art by Giorgio Georgetti.
Bus in the Family 2
Continuing the clobbering of the crooks in “A Bus in the Family”, Tammy 18 September 1978. Art by Giorgio Georgetti.

Bessie is seeking homemade beauty treatments, but of course her food inclinations and tendency for naughtiness take over. She ends up with 1000 lines. Meanwhile, Sue is trying to find a way to stop her father’s home movie parties because the catering is too much work for her and her mother. She knows Dad’s mates don’t really enjoy his movies either; they’re mediocre at best. The solution: make her own movie of Dad’s outtakes when he is shooting his lousy movies and show it to his long-suffering audience!

This week’s Strange Stories, one of my particular favourites, is a moral about the dangers of TV addiction. Norma gets so engrossed in television she neglects her studies. Her parents’ efforts to sort her out meet with little success. Then Norma finds herself in the television drama she was watching and becomes the heroine who saves the day. In the process she scrapes her leg and a bandage is put on. Norma wakes up and thinks it must have been all a dream – but then she finds her bandaged leg. Dad is very surprised when Norma suddenly seems to be less keen on television and starting on homework.

Tammy 14 August 1976

Tammy cover 14 August 1976

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Bella at the Bar (artist John Armstrong)
  • Towne in the Country (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Storm over Jerra Island – Strange Story (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Tag Along Tania (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and the General Strike (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Wee Sue – artist John Armstrong
  • Drawn to Destiny – Strange Story serial (artist Tony Higham)
  • Odds on Patsy – final episode (artist Eduardo Feito)

The issue for 1976 in the Tammy round robin is 14 August 1976. The cover is one of my favourites. The Star Trek reference makes it particularly funny if you like Star Trek. It’s a change having a pesky kid brother (or is it a cousin?) instead of a kid sister for the Cover Girl to deal with. And there is another in-joke with the reference to Dan Dare, the famous space adventurer from Eagle. Tammy did not go for SF as much as Jinty – you see SF more often in the Strange Stories than Tammy’s serials – so it’s great to get an SF reference on the cover.

The Olympics featured heavily in Tammy in 1976, which was the year of the Montreal Olympics. Bella has an Olympics-themed story, complete with the Olympics rings being added to her logo. Bella is trying to reach the Montreal Olympics although she has no passport and was passed over for the British team thanks to Jed and Gert Barlow. Right now she is stranded in France with an acrobatics team. They are stringing her along with false promises of getting her to Montreal, and Bella has not yet realised their game. Moreover, her desperation to find gym equipment to train on has landed her in a sticky situation. Later the same year Tammy ran her Olympics-themed classic, Olympia Jones.

Screen Shot 2019-08-15 at 12.54.35 PM

Another thing to run strongly in Tammy in 1976 was stories published at readers’ requests, by open invitation from Tammy. One starting next issue is “Dumbells Academy”, about a school run by the most incompetent staff in the world. This story appeared at the suggestion of one reader: “I’d like to see a story about a school where all the staff are really nutty.” It replaces “Odds on Patsy”, a horse story where Tammy opted for a story on horse racing and jockeys, which makes a nice change from show-jumping. Could the same writer have written “Gail at Windyridge”, another story on jockeying that appeared in Tammy later on?

Expanded Strange Stories also appeared at readers’ requests, which ran for several episodes. The current one is “Drawn to Destiny”, about Diane Hudson, a girl who is jealous of her twin sister Sylvia. And when Diane takes up drawing, her jealousy takes a sinister turn when whatever she draws seems to come true. It starts really scaring her and she doesn’t know what to think, but her jealousy is intensifying too.

Although we have a Strange Story serial, the regular Strange Story continues. This week’s mystery is how the villagers of Jerra Island managed to evacuate from a volcanic island in the 19thcentury. According to legend, the pastor had a vision of it, but how did that happen? And how did Brenda’s church snowstorm souvenir get encased in lava for over 100 years near the site where the pastor saw the vision? She only bought it that day!

Girls’ serials did not often delve into politics, but Molly gets badly tangled in local politics when Lord Stanton has her and Pickering running a bus service during a nationwide strike in support of miners demanding better conditions. This does not please the strikers because it’s blacklegging. It is quite funny seeing the bully butler Pickering in a bus driver’s outfit though! However, Molly has worse problems now than the strike and blacklegging – she is trapped in a crumbling mine with Pickering and Lord Stanton.

Local politics are also a feature in Wee Sue. The council is building an old people’s centre but the oldies don’t want it because they don’t think it’s sound enough. Meanwhile, Sue and her friends would have loved the same site for a roller skating rink. Sue’s suggestion to the council: turn it into a community centre and convert the roof into a skating rink. Now everybody’s happy.

Tania Foster has always been the muggins and dumping ground of the gang of she hangs out with. Now she realises it, she is trying to stand up for herself. The trouble is, they keep finding ways to keep her put upon, including blackmail and dirty tricks. This week they push her into doing all their maths homework for them at the disco while they enjoy themselves and laugh at her. Too bad for them they forgot a noisy disco was not the best place for Tania to concentrate on maths and they end up in detention for “disgusting” homework. It is one of many instances where their treatment of Tania backfires. But Tania is still the muggins of the gang and finding a way to get them to treat her with respect is proving elusive.

“Towne in the Country” is a period story where All Creatures Great and Small meets “Cathy’s Casebook”. Valerie Towne and her vet father have moved to a new post in the country. Valerie soon realises she is going to be deeply involved in her father’s work, but she is not all that confident around animals. And there are other problems such as their vet’s clinic being a mess and queues of kids lining up with pets, expecting Valerie to cure them. And now Valerie and her father have a jumbo-sized problem – treating a sick circus elephant!

Bessie and her class go to the fair. After a series of mishaps, hijinks and getting messed up, everything ends happily for Bessie – with lots of food, of course.

Tammy & June 14 June 1975

Tammy cover 14 June 1975

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Bella at the Bar (artist John Armstrong, writer Jenny McDade)
  • Slaves of the Hot Stove – final episode (artist Douglas Perry, writer Gerry Finley-Day?)
  • Red Letter Rosie
  • Last Laugh for the Jester – the Strange Story (artist John Armstrong)
  • Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Lill Waters Runs Deep – final episode (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Picture – Alan Merrill-Arrows

The issue for 14 June 1975 has been chosen for 1975 in the Tammy round robin. Bella’s second story, where she has to cope with unjust public stigma after being wrongly expelled from a Russian gymnastics school, definitely must rank as her darkest. Bella has managed to overcome the stigma enough to be chosen for the British team at a European championship. But the cloud is always hanging over her, and it shows in the cold way her coaches and fellow team members treat her. It gets worse this week when another team member, Jill, gets injured trying to copy Bella and blames her. Then, when Bella is on the bars, something goes wrong. Bella can’t get a grip and now she is about to take a bad fall. And we have a sneaky suspicion Jill is behind it.

“Lill Waters Runs Deep” and “Slaves of the Hot Stove”, the two other stories that began in the same issue as the new Bella story, both end this week.

“Slaves of the Hot Stove” has been a bizarre slave story from the start. Everything, from the racket to the escape plans, revolves around food. Madam Mange runs a secret kitchen in a restaurant with kidnapped top cooks as slave labour, complete with chains and rags. Its ending this week must rank as one of the…weirdest ever published in girls comics. To break all the slaves free from Madam Mange altogether, protagonist Carol Cook scares her to death with a giant Yorkshire pudding that grows so huge it threatens to smother her. Er…yes…most believable…quite how the chemistry should work. Madam Mange escapes, already plotting to cook up more evil somewhere else, and the world will hear from her again. But if Tammy was planning a sequel with Madam Mange, it didn’t eventuate for some reason.

Lill Waters has been a crafty schemer and so far gotten away with everything until two men who saw her true self show up at her home. How does the family react when they hear about Lill’s scheming? They laugh their heads off! They always thought she was a shy little thing, and here she is all clever and crafty, and tell her that her scheming didn’t matter because it was herself she really hurt. Well, that is one way to deal with it, and it really works. After that, Lill changes her ways, and the family gives her a new makeover to match.

Laughter has surprising results in this week’s Strange Story too. Mary Barnes is a swot and a nerd who wouldn’t know what funny is if she wrote a thesis on it. Then, during a school trip to an old castle Mary picks up a jester’s stick – and all of a sudden she’s playing practical jokes on the school party. Later, holding the jester’s stick enables her to save the guide’s life, and those practical jokes also had a hand in saving him.

Red Letter Rosie is now at its climax. Rosie’s horrible stepsister Gloria has been part of a scheme to kidnap Rosie’s pen friend Sarah Wilson, take her place, and rob the Wilson family. The crooks succeed with the robbery, but that’s not the worst of it. Sarah has grown ill because of her kidnapping and it looks very serious. Rosie’s horribly afraid for Sarah’s life.

The School for Snobs is in open war against a snob (Serena) who plays soldiers with everyone, even her father. Serena soon proves a tough one to crack and Hermione has to bring out her big guns. They take the form of the girls dressing up as a robot army to show Serena the logical conclusion of where her army discipline will lead. After this, Serena waves the white flag of surrender.

Miss Bigger’s out to impress the mayor. But it turns out to be in the wrong way when the mayor turns up incognito, realises what a tartar she is, and sets up a trap to teach her a lesson. So Wee Sue wins over Miss Bigger without even trying this week.

Bessie plays tricks with a Halloween mask and roller skates, but her scheme unravels and “Stackers” the headmistress confiscates the skates. But things come right for Bessie in the end when Stackers tries the skates herself and gets in trouble.

Mistress Claire has entered Molly in a Servant of the Year Award, but catty Betty and Kitty are out to make sure she doesn’t win. The journalist testing Molly for the award has discovered their tricks but decides to let them continue in order to test Molly’s true worth for the award.

 

 

Tammy 4 November 1978

Tammy 4 November 1978

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong)
  • The Upper Crust – first episode (Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • Dancer Entranced (artist Angeles Felices)
  • Tuck in with Tammy – food ideas for Bonfire Night
  • One Girl and Her Dog… (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and the Tender Trap (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Strange Story – The Pied Piper
  • Edie the Ed’s Niece – cartoon (artist Joe Collins)
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • TEAM in Action (artist Carmona)

Guy Fawkes is coming, so I am taking time out from Scream to discuss fireworks issues, courtesy of Tammy.

This one, from 1978, had the regulars Edie the Ed’s Niece, Wee Sue and Bessie Bunter available to provide Guy Fawkes-themed stories, and they all do so. Tammy’s recipe page, “Tuck in with Tammy”, also has some recipes for Bonfire Night.

In Bessie Bunter Miss Stackpole won’t allow the girls to have Guy Fawkes because it clashes with a concert she booked for the girls for the same night. “Mean rotter!” says Bessie, and we totally agree. Naturally, the girls don’t look very happy at the concert, and Bessie is taking a more proactive stance – sneaking out of the concert with her friend Mary to let off fireworks secretly. As it turns out, this leads to a chain of events that have the girls enjoying a Guy Fawkes celebration after all.

Wee Sue and her friends are on the Penny-for-the-Guy routine, but some boys steal their Guy and leave them with an inferior model. Surprisingly, it’s Miss Bigger who gives the boys their comeuppance when they mistake her for an even better Guy.

Now here’s a twist on The Pied Piper legend in this week’s Strange Story. The Pied Piper turns up at the scene of an accident near Hamelin where a hit-and-run driver forces a coachload of kids off the road. And would you believe it, the Pied Piper helps the injured driver and drives the kids to safety at a carnival in Hanover. But was it really the Pied Piper or just someone dressed up? There was a carnival going on, after all.

Toni, Ellie, Anthea and Maggie (TEAM) have formed the school newspaper editorial team for their boarding school, with the scrapes they get into becoming fodder for the paper. This week it’s Ellie’s turn, with some water gypsies stealing her sacred talisman for good luck. Ellie believes the loss is causing her to suffer terrible misfortune as she tries to recover the talisman, to the extent where the police have nabbed her for her failed bike lights.

Bella is in Australia and has joined Limber, a promotional team for gymnastics equipment. The trouble is, her latest coach, Sergeant Marks, has too much of a military and masculine view of gymnastics, which not only causes clashes between him and Bella but is also detrimental to the way he coaches the team for a competition. When the day comes, Bella is not confident that Sarge’s style of coaching will lead them to victory. His latest is setting the floor routines to military marches, despite Bella’s protests they won’t fit. Fortunately she has managed to set her floor routine to different music secretly. Will it make a difference?

It’s part one of “The Upper Crust”, where the Carrington-Crusts arrive in High Hills, the super-snob area of Cherryton. The daughter, Clara Carrington-Crust, immediately clashes with snobby Mavis Blunt, but in a very odd way. One minute she seems to be taking Mavis down a peg or two, the next she’s as snobby as the rest of them at High Hills. Nobody knows what to make of Clara and she’s baffling everyone at school, even the caretaker. Meanwhile, the Blunts decide there is something about these Carrington-Crusts that they’re determined to get to the bottom of.

A ballerina is under the influence of hypnotism in “Dancer Entranced”. It’s not in the same way as “Slave of the Clock”, but when you think about it, there are some hallmarks. Trina Carr is obliging her father’s dream for her to become a top ballerina like her late mother but she has no talent and doesn’t want Dad to know. Then a hypnotist seems to give her the ability to dance, but only while his metronome is ticking. The metronome has now gotten Trina into a top ballet school, where she is striking problems with a jealous rival and keeping that damn metronome ticking because she believes she can’t dance without it.

In “One Girl and Her Dog…” Kim Robinson is hoofing it all the way to London to claim an inheritance because her daft dog Rumpus ate her train ticket. They’re getting into all sorts of scrapes along the way. Among them is Harry Whelkes, a flunky a relative hired to stop them claiming the inheritance. They have just met Harry in this episode but don’t realise what he is up to. Rumpus almost scared him off for good when he tried out growling for the first time, but the promise of double the money has lured Harry back into the game.

You wouldn’t think anyone could seriously fall in love with that bully butler Pickering in Molly Mills, would you? Well, the district nurse Miss Key has after a misunderstanding has her thinking he is in love with her, and she doesn’t realise his true nature. All Pickering’s attempts to get rid of her have failed. Now the daft woman thinks he has proposed to her, and she has accepted!

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 Thirteenth 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.