Tag Archives: Tony Coleman

Portrait of Doreen Gray (1983)

Sample images

Published: Tammy 21 May 1983 to 6 August 1983

Episodes: 12

Artist: Tony Coleman (credited as George Anthony)

Writer: Charles Herring

Translations/reprints: None known

Continuing our possession/evil influence serial theme, we take a look at what can happen when possession/evil influence strikes a girl who wants to improve her lot or strengthen her character. Conversely, the possession/evil influence actually helps the girl to do just that – well, at least at first. But its nature being what it is, it is inevitable that the girl eventually senses the dark side of how she is changing. 

Plot

Doreen Gray is the butt of teasing at school because she is a very shy girl. The worst of the bullies is Jane Quarles. Jane secretly knows Doreen can be more than what she is in the school sports teams if her shyness didn’t get the way, but of course she doesn’t want Doreen to step out of the shadows.

One day, Jane and her gang tease Doreen about being too shy to have a birthday party, and the teasing culminates in their chasing Doreen across the school pool. It backfires when Doreen unwittingly swims so well to get away from them that swimming team captain, Ann offers her a trial for the swimming team, but it’s too much for Doreen’s shyness to take.

Doreen’s father is an antique dealer who could be richer than he is, except Mr Quarles (Jane’s father) is always picking his brains for free advice on the best antiques to buy, which is how he has grown so wealthy. Doreen can see how Mr Quarles is using Dad, shy though she is, but Dad is too good-natured to realise this or how Mr Quarles is cheating him out of antiques that could benefit him instead. 

One day Mr Gray brings home a Victorian portrait that has been painted over. He bought it for the value of the frame. Then the black paint begins to flake, showing another portrait underneath, and Dad removes the paint altogether. They are surprised to find the portrait is of a girl who is a dead ringer for Doreen. She also looks a girl who always got her own way and anything she wanted. As Doreen gazes at it, she suddenly surprises her father when she demands the portrait for her birthday – which she has now dubbed “The Portrait of Doreen Gray” – and a party to celebrate. 

Doreen notices odd things, such as a whisper in her ear saying “You can get what you want, too!”, and when Jane and Carole challenge Doreen at the swimming trial, she sees the portrait staring up at her from the water, which spurs her to win the trial and a place in the team. Oddest of all, the girl’s face in the portrait seems to be able to change expressions, which seems to have an effect on Doreen. She is growing more confident to the point of being demanding.

Dad notices unsettling changes in Doreen. One is pretending to the other girls that she sat for the portrait herself. He is disturbed, as he is suddenly reminded of a certain Oscar Wilde story and warns Doreen about it. Although he has misgivings about letting Doreen have the portrait, he eventually lets her have it. 

At the party Doreen continues to pretend the portrait is of her. Jane’s nose is put out of joint at this and she quickly leaves. Doreen noticed Jane had her eye on the frame and realised its value. Afterwards, Mr Quarles is after the frame and Dad is willing to sell it because he needs the money (something he’d have more of if he wised up to Mr Quarles). Realising Jane’s hand in this, Doreen hides the portrait in the attic where she can secretly visit it and feel its influence strengthening her. She pretends to Dad that it was stolen. The ladder to the loft is too unsafe to bear Dad’s weight, so she is confident he won’t find it. Any pricks of conscience (such as cheating Dad), second thoughts or worry when she finds her behaviour becoming arrogant (which it does as the story progresses) somehow get overridden every time she’s near the portrait and it seems to make a look at her. 

Doreen is still having problems with self-confidence at school. Although she is in the swimming team, she is struggling to find her feet at netball. Egged on more by Jane’s remarks than the portrait, Doreen not only makes her way into the team but pushes Jane out of it as well. Finding out Jane intends to make her the lame duck in a swimming match against a rival school, Doreen is spurred on to come first. But she is becoming arrogant and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. Ann drops Doreen from the team, saying she’s become too big-headed. But the influence of the portrait (this time in the form of tears and sympathetic looks) has Doreen thinking Ann is just being jealous. She challenges Ann to a swimming match, where she pushes Ann out of her position as captain and takes her place. Yet she persuades Ann to stay in the team – leaving no place for Jane. Jane’s nose is out of joint again.

To humiliate Doreen, Jane challenges her to a tennis match. Doreen is not experienced enough at tennis, but she is riding on such success she feels confident she can win without the portrait and tells it so. Doreen senses the portrait is laughing at this but presses on with her resolve. However, Jane slaughters her, and Doreen is left thinking she does need the portrait after all.

In revenge for her humiliation, Doreen pulls a long-overdue comeuppance on Mr Quarles, who is again taking advantage of Dad. Mr Gray identifies some candlesticks Mr Quarles has his eye on at an auction as fakes. Then Doreen sees the portrait winking at her from a mirror, and suddenly gets an idea. She tricks Mr Quarles into thinking they’re valuable and waste money on buying them. When Mr Quarles finds out, he and Dad exchange angry words, and it looks like Mr Quarles won’t be able to use him anymore.

Mr Quarles has to cancel the family holiday because of the money he lost through Doreen’s trick, so next day an angry Jane tackles Doreen. Doreen deals to her with a good shove. Realising the change in Doreen started with the portrait, Jane suspects it was not stolen and wangles her way into Doreen’s house to do some investigating. In the loft she discovers Doreen with the portrait, but is then scared by a rat sitting on top of it. Doreen won’t shoo the rat away until Jane agrees to stay silent, which she does. Realising the portrait helped her keep her cool when Jane discovered the truth, Doreen is now more drawn to it than ever before. 

At netball, Doreen’s growing big-headedness gets her dropped from the team. The netball captain, Clare, adds that Doreen isn’t going to take her place as she did with Ann. (Oh, dear, is Doreen starting to get a reputation at school because of that portrait?) When Doreen visits the portrait, she suddenly knows how to not only worm her way back into the netball team but steal Clare’s position as captain as well – and succeeds at both. 

Meanwhile, Mr Quarles is worming his way back into taking advantage of Mr Gray, this time by paying him fees (sops, more like) for his advice on antiques. This leads to an angry exchange between Doreen and Dad, and she takes refuge in the loft with the portrait. 

Then Doreen hears her father climbing up the ladder to apologise and on the verge of discovering the truth. But he has forgotten the ladder is dangerous for him to climb, and Doreen is shocked to find herself tempted to not warn him. Eventually she does, but too late – the ladder collapses and he is hanging on for dear life. Doreen is again shocked to find herself tempted to loosen her grip and let him fall. Fortunately she overcomes it and tries to save him, but only succeeds with the help of a man who has arrived in the shop. 

The man is the previous owner of the portrait, and Doreen now confesses to hiding it. The man explains the portrait is evil. It is of a Victorian girl who was always able to influence people although she was so young. She died in debtors’ prison when her family was ruined. The man’s grandfather bought it for his daughter, who also bore a resemblance to the portrait. Then grandfather discovered it was exerting an evil influence over her. He tried to destroy the portrait but couldn’t, so he ordered it painted over and hidden. It was kept that way until money troubles forced the man to sell the portrait. Then he grew concerned and tracked the portrait down. He says he will now take the portrait, but Doreen screams, “No! It’s mine!” and runs off with it. Dad and the man are relieved to find Doreen meant it was hers to destroy, which she does by pulling it out of the frame and throwing it in a vat of boiling tar in the road. Then she finally allows Dad to have the frame (but let’s hope Mr Quarles doesn’t get his hands on it!).

Thoughts

You don’t need to look far to see what inspired the story. However, it is more the title that draws on the Oscar Wilde story than the premise itself, which is firmly rooted in the evil object formula seen so many times in girls’ comics. Most often the evil object makes the girl do terrible things against her will or without her even realising, but this is not really the case here. Rather, the portrait acts more like the magic object that can help a shy girl become more confident, stand up to bullies who make her life miserable, and advise her on what to do when she wants to her own way or get out of sticky situations. But as it is an evil object, not a beneficial one, it is not helping her for the sake of it.

There are indeed positive sides to how Doreen changes (becoming more confident), but there is a dark shadow all the way. Doreen never turns totally to the dark side, but she does get disturbed by horrifying changes in herself: becoming arrogant and big-headed, going behind Dad’s back, finding insidious ways to get her own way in everything, even being tempted to let Dad fall to his death rather than him discovering where she hid the portrait. But until the end of the story it does not take much for one look at the portrait to smooth over any twitches of conscience or second thoughts. 

Portraits with an evil influence have been seen elsewhere in girls’ comics. Stories with this theme include “The Painting” (Bunty), “The Portrait of Paula” (Suzy) and “Penny and the Portrait” (Mandy). Another, on a more comical note, is “The Happiest Days” (Tammy), where the frightful portrait of the school founder casts such a pall over the school it has to be gotten rid of, which our protagonist tries to do in all sorts of hilarious ways. After finally succeeding, she is surprised to find a more savoury version of the portrait. 

But this portrait is far more insidious for several reasons. First, unlike other spooky portrait stories we don’t even know who the girl in the portrait is, and right up to the end of the story her name remains unrevealed. This adds an extra note of mystery to the story and the portrait. Is she a witch (a common reason why a portrait is evil in girls’ comics), someone who died tragically, someone out for revenge, or someone just plain bad? 

The portrait does not speak as some evil portraits do, such as “The Painting” from Bunty. Instead, it exhibits its influence through facial expressions and, at times, through distance. Yet its influence is so subtle Doreen doesn’t even realise what it’s doing, which makes it all the more creepy.

Second, setting itself up as the magic friend/object who can help Doreen makes it all the harder to fight against because it seems a friend to her, one she can’t do without in becoming a success and beating the bullies. It always seems to offer a friendly listening ear when Doreen has a problem in getting her way or trouble with Jane. 

Third, the portrait is very cunning in the way it influences Doreen through its expressions. It seems to smile in delight when Doreen tells her how she dealt to Mr Quarles. It turns on the waterworks when Doreen thinks it is making her big-headed and then sympathetic looks to convince Doreen that Ann is just being jealous. In other words, it really sets itself up to appear a genuine friend. But we can sense the portrait is only manipulating Doreen to strengthen its hold over her. One example is the episode where Doreen loses against Jane after telling the portrait she doesn’t need it to win against her, then she reverts back to dependency on the portrait after losing. We’re left thinking the portrait planned the whole thing. Another example is the rat in the loft that frightens Jane. We have a strong feeling the rat was not sitting on top of the portrait by accident!  

Fourth is the way these bad ideas just seem to pop into Doreen’s head and she surprises herself with them. There’s never an evil voice in her head telling her to do these things, though she does get one whisper in her ear: “You can get what you want, too!” Yet we know it’s the portrait all the same. 

Fifth, for an evil object story, it’s unusual in that the evil object does not force the protagonist to do terrible things as other “evil object” stories often do. It is more like the serials where the protagonist gets into bad company with a false friend who is a bad influence on her and taking advantage of her. The protagonist can’t see her for what she is (or ignores it) because the sneaky girl is so slick and manipulative in the way she keeps the protagonist close to her. “The Kat and Mouse Game” (Jinty) is one example of this, and “Lessons from Lindy” (Bunty) is another. This must have been what the girl in the portrait was like when she was alive, except that unlike Kat or Lindy, not even death stops her. There can be no doubt she was a girl who always got her own way in everything (except debtors’ prison), and not even death stops her there either. Through her portrait she gets her own way through others by leading them to think she is helping them get their own way in everything.

Finally, it must be said there is good coming out of the portrait influencing Doreen. It helps Doreen to overcome her shyness, give Mr Quarles a long-overdue comeuppance, stand up to Jane, and step out of the shadows at school to take prominence in school teams. Setting itself up as a good thing makes it all the harder to realise it is evil and fight against it. For this reason, for all the new confidence Doreen shows, it is not until she finds the power within her to destroy the portrait that she shows her whole new strength of character. 

Tammy and Misty 5 July 1980

Cover artist: John Richardson

Bella (artist John Armstrong)

Donna Ducks Out (artist Diane Gabbot(t)) – final episode

Tina’s Telly Mum (artist Giorgio Giorgetti, writer Alison Christie)

The Sea Witches (artist Mario Capaldi)

Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)

Something in the Cellar (artist Tony Coleman) – Strange Story from the Mists in text

Peggy in the Middle (artist Tony Coleman)

Lucky by Name (artist Julian Vivas)

The Cover Girls are on a trip to the safari park, and for once the older girl has an upper hand over the younger one, with the aid of the monkeys. The monkey on the roof of the vehicle sure looks like he’s poking the Tammy logo with that stick!

Bella is trying to make her way to the Moscow Olympics, but her efforts aren’t meeting with much more success than her 1976 bid for the Olympics. She has got stranded (again), this time in the US. She has no way to get to Moscow or back to Britain, no equipment to train on, no money, and no coach. She has taken a job to help raise funds, but it’s in rhythmic gymnastics, which is not helping her usual gymnastics – and she’s entered a gymnastics tournament.

We sense there’s going to be a raft of new stories starting soon. One story finishes, one is about to, and another is reaching its climax. 

Donna Ducks Out is the one to end this week. A bathroom duck has somehow given Donna Desmond the power to swim, but she’s so dependent on the toy that she gets shot by duck hunters while trying to retrieve it when it is taken on holiday, and the duck has taken damage too. In this sorry state, she has to win a swimming championship with a sinking duck. It’s never quite clear whether the duck actually gave Donna the power to swim or just the confidence to do so, but ultimately she finds she no longer needs the duck and retains her ability to swim. The duck ends up in the hands of another non-swimmer who feels the same confidence rising. Donna will be replaced next week by the return of Molly Mills, who has been absent from the merger until now.

Lucky By Name is the one on its penultimate episode. Lucky Starr has run away with her beloved pony Fortune in the mistaken belief her father will sell him because of money troubles. Of course it doesn’t take long for the police to catch up, but there’s a bonus – it all leads to them foiling a couple of robbers and recovering stolen loot. Hmm, we smell a reward coming up that will solve everything!

The Sea Witches is reaching its climax. It looks like the witches have had enough of the American air-base interfering with their nesting grounds and they’re going to bring out their big guns. That can only mean something really bad now. Katie, the only one trying to help the situation, is being sent away at this crucial point, but we know she’ll be back to stop the witches somehow.

Tina’s Telly Mum is on part two. Tina Mason persuaded her grieving mother to take a television announcer job to take her mind off things, but now she’s beginning to regret it because it’s backfiring on her. Mum’s now too wrapped up in her job to think of anything else – including Tina, who’s been left behind, being neglected and missing Mum so much. Worse, Mum left the wrong person in charge of Tina: a nasty old bat who’s deliberately coming in between everything Tina has left of her mother or any respite Tina tries to seek. She even makes Tina do housework that she is being paid to do herself. What a cheek!

By popular demand, the Tammy & Misty merger revived the spooky text stories that Misty used to run, but it didn’t seem to last long. This week’s one is “Something in the Cellar”, about a cellar haunted by an Alsatian that got suffocated by a delivery of coal, poor thing. It leaves the babysitter so spooked she’s never going to babysit at that house again.

Peggy in the Middle is caught in a custody battle between her mother and her father and his new wife Mitzi. Peggy and Mum suspect they’re being watched as part of the custody battle, but discover the watchers were in fact burglars waiting for their moment to strike – and the burglars not only rob the place but totally trash it as well!

Miss Bigger reveals some Bigger family history in this week’s Wee Sue story. We learn the Bigger women (“dotty old birds”, “a rogue’s gallery” go Sue’s classmates) were ones for big ideas such as cycling up Mt Everest and civilising the American Indian nation (that one looks like it got a tomahawk in the head from behind). But their ideas clearly lacked common sense and invariably failed – just like the measures Miss Bigger takes to economise at school this week. Predictably, it’s all at the expense of the girls, but Miss Bigger loses out in the end, and Wee Sue puts things right.

Tammy 17 June 1978

Cover artist John Richardson

Bella (artist John Armstrong)

Prince of the Wild (artist Veronica Weir)

Betta to Lose (artist Tony Coleman)

Tuck-In with Tammy (feature)

Down to Earth Blairs (artist José Casanovas)

Bessie Bunter

Molly Mills (artist Douglas Perry)

The Weather-Cock – The Strange Story (artist Angeles Felices)

Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)

Wee Sue (artist Mike White)

Circus of the Damned (artist Diane Gabbot(t))

Edie’s Hobbyhorse – Archery 

It’s Father’s Day where I am, which for some reason is celebrated the first Sunday in September instead of 20 June as it is in Britain. So I have pulled out this Father’s Day issue from Tammy in honour of the occasion. The cover appears to both acknowledge and satirise how adults, including Dads, like to read Tammy and other girls’ comics as much as the girls themselves. 

The Wee Sue story could have used a father theme to celebrate Father’s Day, but the emphasis is more on mothers when Sue and her friends offer to advertise washing powder, with a free supply of a year’s washing powder for their mums in return. Then old Bigger has to interfere, but quick-brained Sue finds a way to turn it to their advantage and make their advertising even better. 

Bella’s new job in Australia has gone badly, especially as Mr Cox, who made the offer, has been trying to back out of it and now says it’s off for good. It doesn’t help that Bella has arrived in a sorry state. Her idea of cleaning herself up is to swim in the sea, clothes and all (really, Bella!). Then the Cox children goad Bella into surfboarding for the first time, which almost gets Bella killed.

In “Prince of the Wild”, Agnes Croft is known for her big imagination, so she is finding hard to get people to believe her when she befriends a wild horse on the moors and names him Prince. We are also introduced to Colonel Powell’s snooty twin daughters, who look like they’re going to be the antagonists of the piece. Agnes finds it very suspicious that the Powell twins are frequenting the moors. Could it have something to do with Prince?

Betta’s latest attempt at self-sabotage (playing with a dud hockey stick) to escape sports slavery at school rebounds on her, and in the end her trick is discovered. The sports mistress has already grown suspicious as it is, so is the game up for Betta? 

In “Down to Earth Blairs”, the Tammy version of “The Good Life”, snooty Mrs Proctor, who is always gunning for the Blairs because she disapproves of their self-sufficient lifestyle, has a flea infestation in her house and blames the Blairs’ animals. However, the animals test negative for fleas when Sanitary Department inspects them, so where did the fleas come from?

The Strange Story features a weather-cock, which “Badger” Browny insists should be left alone when the church committee decide to remove it. He claims it has the power to warn of upcoming accidents by pointing in their direction. Karen, who believes him, follows the direction of the weather-cock, where she discovers a road collapse and saves an oncoming bus from it. After this, the weather-cock is allowed to stay.

It had to happen – Bessie’s so fat she gets stuck in a chair. To make things more awkward, it’s the head’s chair, so if Bessie can’t get unstuck fast, she could be in serious trouble if “Stackers” finds out.

This week’s episode of “Circus of the Damned” focuses on the use – and abuse – of exotic animals in circuses. Their use in the episode comes across as even more distasteful today in an age where using exotic animals in circuses has become un-PC and the move is on to phase it out. Circus owner Yablonski is so obsessed with creating the greatest show on earth that he blackmails his performers into dangerous stunts. This week’s episode shows how the blackmail makes the animals suffer as well. This week they and their trainers actually try to rebel, but Yablonski cracks his whip – literally – to bring them into line. Or has he? At the end of the episode, someone releases the tiger Yablonski mistreated earlier and it’s on the loose. 

The Molly Mills strip has been nothing but crime, fugitives and running from the law ever since arch-enemy Pickering framed Molly for a theft he committed himself. Molly, still on the run from that, has returned to Stanton Hall, now under the ownership of Mrs Powell. But it turns out the money Mrs Powell used to buy the hall came from her half-brother’s bank robbery. He escaped prison and went after her to get the money back. Now he’s caught up and is holding the whole hall hostage to force Mrs Powell to resell the hall to get the money back. Both Molly and maidservant Jodie are trying to smuggle messages for help to the estate agent – without consulting each other. Molly’s worried things could go wrong.

Tammy 16 July 1983

tammy-cover-17-july-1983

  • Namby Pamby (artist Eduardo Feito, writer Ian Mennell)
  • Horsepower! (artist Julian Vivas, writer Chris Harris) – A Pony Tale
  • Backhand Play (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Ian Mennell)
  • Portrait of Doreen Gray (artist Tony Coleman, writer Charles Herring)
  • Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Alison Christie)
  • The Lady of Ranoch Water (artist Hugo D’Adderio, writer Roy Preston) – complete story
  • Make Your Mind Up, Maggie (artist Juliana Buch)

This Tammy issue contains one of my favourite complete stories, “The Lady of Ranoch Water” (a remarkably flattering name for a witch who’s a hideous old hag!). “The Lady of Ranoch Water” appears below. It was written by Roy Preston, and the Tammy credits of the period show Preston specialised in creepy complete stories, often with comeuppances. This begs the question: what spooky complete stories (Misty completes, Strange/Gypsy Rose Stories, Monster Tales) did Roy Preston write for IPC in the past?

The other complete story, “Horsepower!”, has a horse competing with progress when Pa gets ideas about getting a tractor to replace him, much to the horror of his daughter Maisie. The tractor seems to be more efficient, but in the end the weather and climate of the locality prove the horse more practical and keep horses in business there for a long time. Relief for Maisie!

Pam of Pond Hill is on summer break, which gives scope for more serials to run. No doubt one will be replaced by Pam when she returns in the autumn, as promised by the Editor.

The extremely overprotective upbringing Pamela Beeton has received since birth (her mother could give Mum in “Mummy’s Boy” from Buster a run for her money) has rendered her little more than a three-year-old in emotional and psychological development. Consequently, she acts like a baby at school, which has earned her the nickname “Namby Pamby”, and her seriously stunted growth puts her even more on a back foot than other serials where protagonists struggle with overprotective parents. At least she is trying and has found a friend, but her overprotective mother is beginning to interfere.

In “Backhand Play”, Arthur Knightly is the King of Backhanders and his motto is “Never miss a trick”. He doesn’t cross the line to anything illegal, but his backhanders are causing a lot of problems for his niece Terri, who only wants to play tennis. Terri has discovered her backhander uncle has been applying them to her tennis club to give her favourable treatment and even compel a tennis player to throw a match in her favour. She refuses to return to the club in protest and the coaches sell their cars to deal with Arthur and get her back.

The “Portrait of Doreen Gray” (yes, and the story itself makes reference to a certain Oscar Wilde story) is making shy Doreen Gray more confident, but there were hints from the beginning there was something sinister about it. Sure enough, Doreen’s confidence is threatening to turn into arrogance that could make her unpopular, and we suspect the portrait. This week, Doreen’s arch-enemy Jane Quarles begins to suspect what’s going on and starts investigating. She strikes gold – but then gets scared by a rat. Will she be scared off for good?

Oh, no! It looks like Bella is heading for another round of losing her nerve, and it’s all because of her Uncle Jed. He ropes Bella into a dangerous window-cleaning job and only Bella’s gymnastics save her from a horrible accident. But then Bella discovers the incident has affected her psychologically and she can’t perform gymnastics properly.

This week “The Button Box” brings us a romantic story about a boy and girl finding love on the beach and shells are at the centre of it all. Aww…

“Make Your Mind Up, Maggie” has been reprinted from 1974 by popular demand (the original run ended on a double episode to make way for the Tammy & June merger). Maggie is obliged to give up horse riding because it’s bad for her ballet. But this week Maggie discovers the alternative is her beloved horse Robbie being sold to the Brimstowes, who mistreat their horses (and nobody seems to call the SPCA about it). Now Maggie is in an awkward double life of doing both ballet and riding while keeping it secret from her ballet teacher. To make things even more difficult, Maggie is finding that ballet is just as bad for her riding as riding is for her ballet.

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Tammy & Misty 16 February 1980

Tammy cover 16 February 1980

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong)
  • A Girl Called Midnight (artist Juliana Buch) – first episode
  • Who’s Your Valentine? – Feature (writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Spider Woman (artist Jaume Rumeu)
  • Misty’s House of Mystery Game – part 3
  • Sister in the Shadows (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Sour Grapes for Sophie (artist Tony Coleman) – first episode
  • Too Close an Encounter (artist Jose Canovas) – Strange Story from the Mists

Valentine’s Day is nigh, and to commemorate I have brought out the Tammy Valentine issue from 1980. This is the last Tammy Valentine issue to have the Cover Girls honour the event. Later in 1980 they were dropped in favour of story covers.

This is not the first time Tammy used the joke of big sister feeling narked that little sis got more Valentines than her. The same gag was used on the Cover Girls’ first Tammy Valentine cover in 1974. Talk about bookends.

Also in the issue is a feature that cites old customs for finding a Valentine before presenting a “Misty-ic Messenger board”, where you can ask Valentine questions to an oracle board. Definitely influence of Misty here on this one.

This week’s episode of Wee Sue could have been used for the Valentine theme, but instead she’s going shopping for new clothes. Sounds simple, but Sue is embarrassed to have to use the toddlers department because of her size, and that’s just the start of the hijinks.

The Strange Story from the Mists, “Too Close an Encounter”, looks like it was originally written, perhaps drawn, for Misty. The story length (four pages) and artist (from the Misty team) point to this. Jackie’s grandfather claims to be in contact with aliens and they’re going to land in the garden, but nobody believes him except his granddaughter Jackie. Everyone else laughs and Mum thinks grandfather is going senile. But will grandfather have the last laugh on them?

Two stories begin this week: “Sour Grapes for Sophie” and “A Girl Called Midnight“. Oddly enough, both feature newcomers who act awkwardly towards everyone around them. In Midnight’s case it’s because nobody wants to foster her for long; her “black midnight moods” see to that. Now what can these moods be, and how will her latest foster family, the Brights, react to them? In “Sour Grapes for Sophie”, Sophie Drew starts a new school, but is rude to both classmates and teachers alike, and turns them against her. At the end of the episode Sophie has a sudden burst of repentance and explains to classmate Jackie that she does want to make friends, but only has six months. Now what can Sophie mean by that, and what’s it got to do with sour grapes? And even if she is sorry, can she undo the damage she has done on her first day?

Bella qualifies for the Moscow Olympics despite all the obstacles she has encountered in the competition. But now she finds out why her wealthy guardians didn’t show up to cheer her on: they’ve gone bankrupt. This has left her high and dry and stranded in a foreign country, with no way to return home or press on to Moscow. At least she has plenty of experience with being stranded in foreign countries, and she has something that could lead her to her next move: a note from a well-wisher.

Bullies Angela and Honey stoop to a whole new low in “Sister in the Shadows“, and it’s alarming. They’ve not only got the whole class sending poor Wendy to Coventry but get a family member help to play tricks on her too. What B.S. they fed to big brother to pose as a reporter and help trick Wendy into breaking a new school rule we don’t know. But it’s having us really dread what those two horrors have in store next for Wendy.

Spider Woman has dragged Paula off to her lair, where she brags about her latest plan to conquer the world with her specially bred spiders. Then she just lets Paula go, saying she will require Paula’s services later. Now what can she mean by that? It’s not like she is using mind control on Paula, as she did on the two girls she captured in her first story. Added to that, something is creeping up behind in the bushes behind Paula and her family. Meanwhile, the Navy find the boat Mrs Webb infested with her man-eating spiders and begin to realise Mrs Webb is up to her tricks again.

 

Tammy 23 April 1983

ITammy cover 23 April 1983

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)
  • Different Strokes – first episode (artist Santiago Hernandez, writer Charles Herring)
  • Nanny Young (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Tom Newland)
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Alison Christie)
  • This is Your Road to Fame! – Quiz (artist John Johnston, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Menace from the Moor – complete story (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Fame at Last! (artist Tony Coleman, writer Marianne Nichols)
  • The Secret of Angel Smith (artist Juliana Buch, writer Jay Over)
  • Make Your Own Container Gardens – feature (Chris Lloyd)

 

April 23 1983 has been selected for 1983 in Tammy round robin. Fame is big in this issue because of the Fame gifts attached. Tammy accompanies the Fame theme with a “Fame” quiz and the complete story “Fame at Last!” Kirsty Brown’s school is having a talent contest but she does not think she is talented at anything. But helping the other contestants gets her a special prize and they tell her she has a gift after all – for starmaking. Maybe Kirsty will become an acting agent when she leaves school?

The issue reprints “Menace from the Moor”, a recycled Strange Story. At this stage in Tammy’s run we get recycled Strange Stories where boring text boxes and drawn-in panels replace the Storyteller and his dialogue.

In new story “Different Strokes”, when teacher hears new girls Jacintha and Samantha Carwen are twins she is dismayed, as that usually means trouble. It does, but not in the way she thinks. The twins are as different as chalk and cheese. The only thing they share is an intense sibling rivalry, and they squabble and bicker all the time. Next door neighbour, Tracy Maine, who befriends the twins, is caught in the middle, and she soon suspects there is a mystery attached to the twins’ rivalry as well.

Bella keeps her savings in her suitcase instead of banking them, saying she does not understand “cheques and things” (insufficient education), despite warnings it is not wise to keep her savings like that. But at the end of the episode she pays the price when a burglar breaks in and her savings are stolen. Well, you were warned, Bella.

Goofy has been having enormous difficulty in shooting a film of Pond Hill for a competition. But now he is well out of it when the school bully vandalises his camera.

Nanny Young has been having problems with a young girl, Barbara, who is jealous of her new baby brother. But in this episode she hits on the solution: get Barbara to take an interest in the baby by allowing her to help with minding him.

In this week’s Button Box tale, Lily hates wearing button boots. Then she encounters a crippled girl who changes her mind about them; she realises she is lucky to be able to wear them because she can walk.

“The Secret of Angel Smith” was Tammy’s last circus story. Abby Fox has always resented Angel Smith, the girl who pushed her way into her father’s trapeze act while Dad won’t allow Abby in it because he does not want to lose Abby the way he lost his wife. Abby has ended up in hospital because of it all, but ironically it is Angel who talks Abby into getting fit again, saying she is going to find a way to help her into the act. When Abby gets back to the circus, she discovers this means taking advantage of Dad being absent on an international tour.

Tammy & Misty 26 January 1980

Tammy cover 26 January 1980

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong)
  • Cindy of Swan Lake (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Sister in the Shadows (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • Spider Woman (artist Jaume Raumeu)
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • The Witch in the Window – Strange Story from the Mists (artist Tony Higham)
  • Miss T (artist Joe Collins)
  • Make the Headlines, Hannah! (artist Tony Coleman) – final episode
  • Daughter of the Desert (Mario Capaldi)

Part two of the Tammy & Misty merger has been chosen for 1980 in the Tammy round robin. For the second – and last time – Misty shares the cover with the Cover Girls. Afterwards the cover returned to the Cover Girls and Misty never occupied a cover spot again. Poor Misty.

To further commemorate the merger, next week we are getting the House of Mystery game, where we become one of our favourite Tammy characters (Molly, Sue, Bessie or Bella) and try to escape from the House of Mystery. Which Tammy character would you pick for this game? Misty readers would probably go for Sue or Bella as they haven’t seen Molly or Bessie yet in the merger.

Tammy is working on clearing out her older stories so she can make way for the new ones she has already indicated are waiting in the wings. “Make the Headlines, Hannah!” finishes this week. Hannah not only succeeds in making a name for herself at long last but also gets on television. Funny – the possibility of appearing on television was something she fantasised about way back in part 1. And it wasn’t for the money her Uncle promised as her mean sisters thought. It was winning respect and proving to everyone she was not a born loser.

“Daughter of the Desert” looks like it is heading for its conclusion. The episode itself says as much: the protagonists reckon everything is coming to a head and they are about to find out why the school has been plagued by strange desert phenomena ever since the Arabian princess Aysha arrived. What makes them think that? The mystery “Arab” behind it has cut off the water’s school supply for 24 hours and now they are all going as dry as the desert.

“Cindy of Swan Lake” still has longer to go, though its conclusion can’t be far off either. Jealous Zoe Martin is still playing on Cindy Grey’s worries about her sick swan, who is dying from pollution. This week she allows Cindy to get the lead in Swan Lake. Why? She calculated Cindy would get too upset at doing the Dance of the Dying Swan in it to continue with the role and she would get it, and she was right…oh for #^%@’s sake! Will someone please tell the Tammy editor the Dance of the Dying Swan is not in Swan Lake? It’s a separate solo dance!

Like Hannah, Wendy the “Sister in the Shadows” is overshadowed by a successful sister (Stella) and trying to prove herself against comparisons, bullies, lack of self esteem and sabotage. This week, Wendy’s debut is on stage is a disaster because of nasty tricks from the bullies, but there is insult to injury as well. Wendy’s parents totally forgot to come and watch her, but as far as they are concerned, Stella phoning to say she might visit for the weekend (which she doesn’t) was far more important anyway. Not exactly making things up to Wendy for letting her down, are they? From this, we can see Hannah definitely had it easy compared to Wendy in proving herself and winning respect. And at least Hannah had some friends to help. Wendy has none at all.

Bella has a long history of getting stranded in foreign countries. She’s only two episodes into her new story and it’s happening again: she is stranded in the US, trying to win a championship to qualify for the Olympics, but her wealthy guardians fail to show up. They abruptly cancel and don’t even send a message to Bella to explain why or arrange help. Now this is really irresponsible, even if something bad happened to them back there. They’ve really left her in the lurch and Bella is not getting much help from the coaches either. It’s no wonder she gets off to a bad start when the event gets underway. The vault, which was never her strong point, is already down – in flames.

Spider Woman has discovered witnesses have stumbled onto her evil plan. To deal with them she strands them on a deserted island that used to be a leper colony. Too late they discover it was a trap. And they have to live in rundown huts. As if that weren’t bad enough, the former occupants were the lepers and there are rumours their ghosts still haunt the huts. Then they discover the boat Mrs Webb used to bring them to the island is now covered with spiders, so there is no getting off the island with it. But what about Mrs Webb herself? Where has she got to? Did she get off the island on another boat…or what?

In Wee Sue, it’s charity fundraising time at Milltown Comprehensive. Sue’s idea is bash up one of the old bangers from the council tip and see who can guess the correct number of parts. Of course Miss Bigger and Wee Sue get into all sorts of scrapes towing the old banger to the event, but they do foil bank robbers with it before finally getting it to the banger-bashing ceremony.

In Strange Story from the Mists, the Witch in the Window makes a profitable living out of causing bad luck to girls unless they give her money. She meets her match in one girl and flies off in a rage. But beware – there are plenty of other girls in the windows out there for her to take her revenge out on.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

A History of Tammy Covers

The cover is the first thing the potential reader sees when they see the comic book on the shelf. The cover is what catches their eye, draws them in, arouses their interest, and induces them to buy it. Throughout the run of a comic, the cover will change dramatically in accordance with changes in public tastes, artists, levels of sophistication, and even the type of paper. Therefore compiling the history of the cover of a particular comic can tell you a lot about how things have changed in comics over the decades.

In this entry we are going to look at the history of the covers Tammy produced throughout her 13-year run and how they changed to make her a drawing card to the readers.

We begin with the very first issue, 6 February 1971. The girl on the cover is Tammy herself, showing off the bracelet and ring that come with the first issue. It is a very bright, happy cover, which belies the dark content that features in so many of the stories within, especially “Slaves of ‘War Orphan Farm'”. The floral-patterned logo is the one that will stay the same for nine years, though there were some exceptions to its regular layout. It most often appeared in red, but other colours were used on occasion. The floral pattern is unusual when girls’ comics used solid lettering. Perhaps the flowers were intended to be a further contrast to the dark content the early Tammy was known for.

Tammy 6 February 1971

First Tammy cover: original

Successive covers until Sandie merged with Tammy on 27 October 1973 were pretty cover girl covers, showing happy girls engaged in various activities such as leisure and sport. Again they continued to belie the grim content (slave stories, Cinderella stories, bullying stories) that continued to feature with stories like “The Four Friends at Spartan School”. A number of the covers had a flat, stiff, one dimensional look to the artwork, which was probably fine at the time but looks a bit unappealing now.

On occasion though, an issue had a full cover that was inspired by a serial inside Tammy, such as Beattie Beats ’em All on Tammy’s first Christmas issue. It did not take long for the Sally logo to be added to the Tammy cover. Tammy was barely two months old before Sally, a longer-running comic, merged into her. It was most unusual for an older comic to be merged into a barely new one, and says something about the sales figures for both comics: Tammy was already a hit while it is presumed that Sally had lost readership due to a long-standing strike.

(click thru)

 

 

 

 

 

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