Linda’s Fox (artist and writer Ron Tiner) – final episode
Are You Set for Summer? (artist John Johnston, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – quiz
The Look of Things (artist Jaume Rumeu) – Strange Story from the Mists
Tune-in (pop and TV gossip feature)
Bessie Bunter (artist Arthur Martin)
No Love for Lindy (artist Eduardo Feito) – first episode
Stella Stirrer (artist Tony Coleman)
For the first Tammy issue for August 1981, Bella takes over the cover spot after Sandy finished last week. Oh dear, no sooner is Bella back on the cover when she’s really put her foot in it by thinking circus tricks (learned from the circus she is staying at) would impress the judges at a gymnastics competition. Now she realises it was one of her worst mistakes, never, ever to be repeated. It not only makes her lose badly but also causes terrible trouble when the audience reacts angrily to the marking. Still, anyone who’s read Bella for long enough will know that when a competition goes badly for her, it means she’s about to undergo a new course in plot direction. Sure enough, somebody comes to the circus wanting to speak to her. Whether for good or bad, it’s definitely the upcoming plot change.
Bessie’s appearances have grown more intermittent since the Misty merger, but she appears this week. Stackers has the pupils making calendars for a sale of work, but soon finds out Bessie is about as good at making calendars as she is at classwork.
Tammy’s August issues always had a focus on getting us primed for summer and holidays. Sure enough, her first August issue for 1981 has a summer quiz. The Strange Story from the Mists has a holiday theme, with the Carstairs family on holiday in Malaysia. Unfortunately, daughter Geraldine is spoiling things with her rudeness towards anything or anyone she does not consider attractive. She even throws a stone at a tortoise, calling it “such an ugly-looking brute”. Geraldine’s parents don’t look like they are doing much to crack down on her conduct, but punishment comes, of course. Geraldine is cursed to see nothing but the face of a mysterious old lady she didn’t find attractive. The curse lifts by the time Geraldine returns home, but it would surely have been otherwise if the story had appeared in the original Misty. August is also time for shopping. Wee Sue goes Christmas shopping in August while she has the money, but eventually she uses her Christmas shopping to help some hard-up kids who want to celebrate a birthday, and they hold an August Christmas birthday party. Now, that’s the Christmas spirit! And Tammy is offering holiday coupons.
The new story, “No Love for Lindy”, looks like it could be following similar lines to Sandy Rawlings; perhaps it is the same writer. As with Sandy, the protagonist (Lindy Allen) tells her own story and there’s a boyfriend figure. He’s the only thing making staying at the Westons (who turned out to be no better than the countless failed foster families Lindy’s had already) worthwhile.
“Linda’s Fox”, written and drawn by Ron Tiner, finishes this week. It sounds like writing a girls’ story was a new experience for Tiner, but he did very well on it, and it must have been a popular story. It was one of my favourites, anyway. The ending is well crafted and thought out in how it handles the clearing of Linda’s father, what happens once he’s out, and keeping Linda’s friendship with Ross the fox intertwined. Tiner ought to be proud of it. Its replacement next week is a repeat of a popular 1976 Giorgio Giorgetti story, “Tag Along Tania”.
Speaking of Giorgetti, his current story, “The Breaking of Faith”, is now on its penultimate episode. Faith discovers the truth about her friend Claire after (finally) checking things out at the home Claire was staying at. Now she has to decide what to do. Her decision will certainly involve what to do about Claire running away, terrified of her finding out the truth.
“Stella Stirrer” saves her friend Katie from drowning in the school swimming pool although she can’t swim. Later, she’s back to stirring things up for snobby Harriet when she discovers Harriet has stolen the credit for the rescue!
The Loneliest Girl in the World (artist Jaume Rumeu)
Wee Sue (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
Molly Mills and the Green-fingered Runaway (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – first episode
Edie and Miss T – (artist Joe Collins)
The House Mouse (artist Mario Capaldi) – Strange Story from the Mists (Part 2 of 2)
Plain as Pearl (artist Juliana Buch)
Now we come to 1980 in the Tammy August month round. In this issue, Tammy has some Golly giveaways to celebrate Golly’s 50th. How times have changed for Golly in increasingly PC times since then.
Bella concludes her bid to reach the Moscow Olympics. A shipwreck brings it all to a head, putting her in hospital with a busted ankle, so no Moscow. That’s the second time poor Bella has missed out on the Olympics, and unlike her Montreal story she didn’t even get there this time. Maybe a rebooted Bella will finally get to compete at the Olympics. At least the rescuers brought her back to Britain for treatment, so she’s home and no longer stranded in the US. We’re promised a new story next week while Bella is recuperating.
In Molly’s new story, it’s time for Lord Stanton’s summer fete. We are introduced to Charlie’s sister Cathy, who has run away from a harsh orphanage, and the police are hunting for her. Molly and Charlie are very surprised when she turns up at the fete, helping Lord Stanton’s gardener. Oh boy, this is going make for one very interesting fete!
Since Misty joined, several Strange Stories from the Mists have appeared in two or three parts. The current two-parter, “The House Mouse”, has to be the most frightening of them all and is guaranteed to stick with you for years to come (it does me!). The House Mouse is far from a cute, cuddly mouse – it is an evil, possessed monster that drives off prospective buyers of its fanatical master’s house with “accidents”, outright attacks and even murder, as he has vowed the house will never leave his family.
There are a lot of “court” jokes and puns in this week’s Wee Sue story when Miss Bigger ropes Sue into helping her with tennis practice. This ends up “courting” trouble. Ultimately, they find themselves more successful at cricket.
In a later issue ye Editor informs us “Plain as Pearl” is a very popular story, and there is a lot in it to make it so. Pearl Kent has taken a job as a model to raise money for her sick mother’s holiday. Trouble is, she has to do it in secret because she senses Clare, the daughter of the foster family she is staying with, will be jealous. The secrecy is leading to problems of course, like Pearl not having a guardian’s consent for the job.
“Running Rosie Lee” turns into the bionic woman once she’s had a cup of tea, to the consternation of the snobs at her new boarding school. But this week it is established that the tea must be stirred, or failing that, shaken to get things going.
Karen Chalmers, “The Loneliest Girl in the World”, doesn’t know where she’s coming or going with the weird things that are happening to her, except now confirming that her parents are indeed robot imposters. But all this does is get her committed to a psychiatric hospital. The robot parents say she must never discover the truth, even if she has to stay at the hospital all her life. Now what can the truth be, and is it connected with her nightmares about her house burning down and nobody left except her?
Cut-Glass Crystal is finding out – the hard way – why her mother refused to come to Dad’s hometown of Pitedge after his business collapsed. Pitedge is worlds away from the upbringing she has had, adapting to life in Pitedge is hard for her, the house they live in doesn’t even have proper commodities, she doesn’t fit in, and now she doesn’t even know her own father anymore. Instead of being sympathetic and trying to help – or even grateful Crystal chose to come with him when Mum didn’t – he’s become very harsh with her. Can things possibly sort themselves out, or did Crystal’s mother have the right idea?
Molly Mills and the Charleston Contest (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – first episode
Pictures from the Past (artist Audrey Fawley) – Strange Story
Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
The Wolf at Our Door (artist Bob Harvey)
Edie’s Hobbyhorse: Why Not Make a Shell Collage – feature
For 1979 in our Tammy August month round, there is a particular reason for profiling this August issue. At times, Tammy made in-jokes about the Tammy team, and the cover makes reference to comic book artist Mario Capaldi coming from a family of ice-cream vendors. Is the ice-cream man on the cover Mario Capaldi? Maybe someone can enlighten us. At any rate, there is a resemblance to Mario the ice-cream man, drawn by Capaldi himself, in a “Life’s a Ball for Nadine” episode. The episode appeared Jinty 27 December 1980.
The cover also brings a seaside flavour to the issue. This ties in with the craft feature on the back cover (making a shell collage) and the Wee Sue story. Miss Bigger informs the class that “an important coastal company have appointed me as their chairman!” Translation: she’s taken an extra job as a deckchair attendant. Too bad for her Wee Sue was taking a holiday at the same beach. Hijinks ensue, of course, but things end happily for them both. Two serials, “Proud as Punch” and “The Stand-in”, also tie in with the seaside/holiday theme. Perhaps they were published for the very purpose.
We mentioned Mario Capaldi a moment ago, and his current Tammy serial is “The Happiest Days”. It’s an evil influence story, except it’s played for laughs instead of scares, which makes it different. A frightful portrait of a school founder casts such a pall over a school it’s the most miserable school in Britain. The school is due to close because of falling numbers, but how to recruit more pupils with that portrait around?
Molly Mills’ new story is actually the second Molly story titled “The Charleston Contest”. The first appeared in the Thewenetti era. In the first, Molly enters a Charleston Contest to win money for her family (with Betty and Kitty playing dirty tricks, but there’s a last minute surprise save from Pickering). This time, Molly’s doing the Charleston Contest for the crippled Miss Claire.
Bessie’s also being a performer this week, in honour of Stackers’ birthday. Her conjuring act is a real performance, with some things not going quite right, but in the end she pulls one out of her hat. Of course her best trick is making food disappear.
The Bob Harvey story, “A Wolf at Our Door”, now hits its climax. Jenny discovers who is trying to help her with the wolf pack – the aristocratic Rowena Rufley – and why. It’s because of an ancient prophecy. And now it looks like the prophecy is coming true.
This week’s Strange Story (below) has a modern photographer meet a Victorian one. The artwork is by the ever-popular Audrey Fawley.
Bella is being fostered by the rich Courtney-Pikes, and it’s nice to see her being spoiled and loved for a change. But when they try to turn her into a lady…well, Eliza Doolittle had nothing on Bella, especially as she can’t resist any opportunity to break into gymnastics!
Vision of Vanity Fayre (artist Mario Capaldi) – final episode
Maggie’s Menagerie (artist Tony Coleman)
Double – or Nothing! (artist Diana Gabbot(t))
The Juicy Mackerel (artist Peter Wilkes) – Strange Story
Wee Sue (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
A Bus in the Family (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
Heraldry – Edie’s Hobbyhorse
Now we come to 1978 in our August Tammy month round, with one of my favourite Tammy covers.
“Your future’s assured” says the cover, but not for Bella in introducing gymnastics to Port Tago, Australia. The way things are going, she must have wondered if she should have stayed home. And now, just when things finally seem to be looking up, an enemy strikes. They tried to sabotage Bella’s public demonstration, and now they’ve sent her a death threat, telling her to get out of Port Tago, or else!
Currently, there is no Molly Mills (she returns in the following issue), which was a definite change after her artist changed from Tony Thewenetti to Douglas Perry. In the Thewenetti run, Molly appeared without pause from the first issue of Tammy to the end of Thewenetti’s run on 20 August 1977. But when Perry took over on 31 December 1977, Molly took more breaks until the end of her run in 1981 (barring her spot appearances in the “Old Friends” strip in 1982). This would have given some relief to the readers who did not like her so much and allowed more room for serials.
In the Strange Story, you wouldn’t think a fish could help a man escape? It does when he gets pressganged and his twin sister comes to the rescue after sensing his danger through the twin link.
Tony Coleman is drawing his second story for Tammy. Maggie Crown is living on her gran’s barge while her parents are away. Animal-loving Maggie is accumulating a secret hoard of stray animals on the barge – what a thing to hide on a barge! As gran is no animal lover, the fur will really fly if she finds out, and that can only be a matter of time.
“Vision of Vanity Fayre” concludes, and a TV production crew are free to carry on with the shoot of the life of a famous authoress without interference from the monstrous conduct of the authoress, which was threatening to destroy it. It turns out she was an imposter (surprise, surprise!) who was holding the real authoress a virtual prisoner while profiteering from her fame. And talking of TV, it leads to trouble for Bessie this week, who ends up under punishment again.
As nobody will partner with Kate Winter because of her terrible temper, she has roped Pam Doggett into a doubles team with her. This week they go into action, but Pam’s insufficient training and constant arguing with Kate are having predictable results. At least someone sees Pam does have potential as a tennis player, but with the way things are going, would Pam be better off in the singles?
Rosie Banks’ father is taking her class on a continental tour in the bus he’s just bought. Things aren’t going smoothly, sometimes in hilarious ways, sometimes in more serious ones. This week it’s really serious, as the brakes suddenly fail, and at the worst possible location – the Pyrenees. Adding to the seriousness is the mystery of why the previous owner, Dodger Wilkins, is so determined to get it back and sent his flunky after it. Is there more to the bus than meets the eye? At least Rose is alerted to his shadowing this week.
Sue enters a sponsored cycle race, but there is a cheat pulling dirty tricks on her. Sue decides to pull her own trick on the cheat, who ends up taking a well-deserved dunking.
Now we come to the 1983 issue in our Tammy June month round. As it so happens, the issue has a feature about popular British folklore in June (below), which makes it even more flavoursome for our June month theme. At this time, Tammy liked to run a feature on a particular month and the folklore that went with it.
We are now in the era where Tammy ran credits and her covers used story illustrations taken from the panels inside. Jinty did the same thing for several years before she changed to Mario Capaldi covers on 21/28 June 1980. This era of Tammy also had a new logo.
This issue has a gorgeous Phil Gascoine cover, which heralds Gascoine’s new story, “Backhand Play”, the last tennis serial Tammy published. A number of tennis stories appeared in Tammy over the years, such as “Backhand Billie” and “Double – Or Nothing!”. But the one that has to be the classic is “Becky Never Saw the Ball”, about a tennis player making a comeback after going blind.
Bella and Pam of Pond Hill continue as the regular characters. There are two other regulars strips that appear now. One is a weekly complete story, with themes ranging from the supernatural to romance. Some of these completes reprint old Strange Stories, with text boxes replacing the Storyteller. The other is “The Button Box”. The Button Box is a storyteller theme (minus the supernatural), with Bev Jackson bringing a story every week from her button box. Each button has a story to tell, and often a moral along with it. This week’s moral: if you show a little kindness, it will be rewarded. Like having your life saved, which is what happens with the only man who showed kindness to a beggar girl who is bullied by everyone else in an Italian village.
Tammy has had a higher number of serials since she dropped a lot of old regulars on 17 July 1982. And now she has credits, we can not only see who is behind the stories but also the types of stories some of her writers favoured. For example, we can see from the credits that Alison Christie favoured heart-tugging emotional stories and Charles Preston spooky completes. Perhaps Preston used to write on Strange Stories, Gypsy Rose and Misty. Other writers, such as Malcolm Shaw, Ian Mennell and Charles Herring, wrote on a wider variety of genres.
Now we come to 1981 in our Tammy June month round. The Cover Girls have disappeared and we are in the era of the splash panel story covers. Most often, Bella had the spot on this cover, but Sandy has it at the moment. When the cover changed, a new look Tammy logo was introduced (above).
The Misty logo has shrunk on the cover, a clear sign the Misty merger was on its way out in Tammy. Misty was still co-presenter of Strange Stories from the Mists, and this week she tells the legend of Evelyn Carew of Potter Heigham (below), rendered with gorgeous Hugo D’Adderio artwork. The same legend was profiled in the original Misty, on her page of British folklore and legends. Many readers sent in contributions for prize money.
The team-up of Miss T and Edie was the most durable of the Misty merger. The pair became a trio when Snoopa came over from Jinty to form “The Crayzees”, and it lasted until Princess II merged with Tammy in 1984.
Adding extra delight to Tammy is the “Tune-In” feature, which gives us funny and informative stories and gossip about TV and pop stars.
Bessie Bunter was relegated from regular appearances to fill-in ones when Misty joined, but this week she does make an appearance. Molly is on break, which gives more room for serials. Hugh Thornton-Jones is doing Wee Sue this week, the strip where his artwork appeared the most often in Tammy. Olympia Jones, the smash-hit story from 1976, is back by popular demand and enjoying an equally popular repeat. “Linda’s Fox” is one of the girls’ serials we know to be both written and drawn by the same person. In this case it is Ron Tiner. This was the only serial Tiner drew for Tammy, along with a couple of Strange Stories.
Sandy, another popular Tammy character, is on her second story in Tammy (a third followed in 1982). In her original story, Sandy was the first Tammy story about boyfriends and dating, which was a novel thing for Tammy to do at the time. The days when boyfriend serials were commonplace in girls’ serials were still many years ahead, up at DCT. Sandy’s second story still features boyfriends, but it is not a story arc like the original. It is a series of scrapes and troubles of one sort or other. Some of them are new problems, but others stem from Sandy’s still-persisting problems from her first story, particularly her interfering father, and not having found a suitable boyfriend since she lost the one from her first story.
In her latest story, Bella has run away from the cruel Barlows and fallen in with a circus. She finds circus is not for her, nor is it the best way to keep up her gymnastics. However, she’s stuck with it for the time being, as the circus badly needs her while it is under threat from an enemy.
Giorgio Giorgetti’s new story is “The Breaking of Faith”. He had been a regular Tammy artist for several years, but he passed over later in 1981, so this was his final year in Tammy. His last Tammy story was “Jump, Jump, Julia”.
“Stella Stirrer” is a revenge on the bullies story, where a new kitchen maid at a posh boarding school uses the kitchen to hit back at the snobs who pick on her. But in revenge stories, things have a nasty habit of getting out of hand. So far this has not happened, but the story is still in its early episodes. The later episodes will tell.
Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)
Shadows on the Wall – Strange Story from the Mists
Tina’s Telly Mum (artist Giorgio Giorgetti, writer Alison Christie) – first episode
Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)
The Sea Witches (Mario Capaldi)
Lucky By Name (artist Julian Vivas)
Peggy in the Middle (artist Tony Coleman)
Edie and Miss T (artist Joe Collins)
Meet the Tammy Gymnast of the Month – Feature
Donna Ducks Out (artist Diane Gabbot(t))
Now we come to 1980 in our Tammy June month round. This particular June issue is unusual for having a double date. All IPC titles that week had it for some reason.
It’s been six months since Misty merged with Tammy. The merger changed the Tammy logo from having daisy flowers to solid letters. The Misty merger was a bit disappointing because Misty was underrepresented in the merger. Tammy had a higher ratio of content all the way through. Much of the problem must have been with Misty herself. She had no regulars except Miss T and Misty herself, and regulars are vital for carrying on in a merger. Also, Misty’s ratio of serials was not very high, while her number of complete stories was way too vast. Also, her stories used 4-page spreads while her sister comics used three, which also reduced the space for more serials to run. A lower ratio of complete stories, enabling more room for serials, would have created a better balance. It would have also created more scope for something from Misty’s serials to turn into a regular, or for a regular strip to have been created. Some of the spooky stories that appeared during the merger, such as “The Sea Witches”, do give the impression they were originally scripted for Misty. Unfortunately, if Misty was not writing that many serials to begin with, not many of them could be published in the merger. The ratio of Tammy serials was definitely higher than Misty’s in the merger. Misty made her presence felt more in the Strange Stories – now called Strange Stories from the Mists, and she alternated with the Storyteller as the presenter.
Meanwhile, Tammy has a higher number of serials running, as she is not running her regulars so much. This was another key change when Misty joined. The ever-popular Bella has to continue of course, and Sue is still a weekly regular, but Bessie is now appearing off and on, and Molly is on hiatus.
In the serials, “The Sea Witches” are striking back at an American air base, which is disturbing nesting grounds, and how far they will go is increasingly worrying. “Peggy in the Middle” is a bold move in exploring how messy divorce and custody battles can be. “Lucky By Name” reaches its climax, with Lucky running off with her beloved pony in the mistaken belief her father will sell him. “Donna Ducks Out” is now on its penultimate episode. A bathroom duck gives Donna the power to swim, but now it has been damaged. The final episode will clearly tell if Donna can now sink or swim without the duck. A new story, “Tina’s Telly Mum”, starts. Tina Mason persuades her recently widowed mother to take a glamorous TV announcer job to distract herself from grief. Unfortunately, there are ominous signs Tina is going to regret this. She has already been left behind as her mother leaves for her new job, and a most unsuitable woman has been put in charge of her – the sort that has us instantly thinking, “What the hell was Mum thinking when she hired her?”
Bella is making a bid for the Moscow Olympics, but got herself stranded in the US after winning a qualifying event and then lost her sponsorship. Now it’s becoming even more difficult to keep up her gymnastics, much less get to Moscow. Bella missed out on competing in the Olympics once before, and now history is threatening to repeat itself. Bella is also making her influence keenly felt in Tammy’s latest competition, “Meet the Tammy Gymnast of the Month”.
A Champion Time for All! – Results of Bella Gymnastics Competition
Down to Earth Blairs (artist José Casanovas)
Molly Mills (artist Douglas Perry)
The Witch Wind (artist Hugo D’Adderio) – Strange Story
Wee Sue (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
Circus of the Damned (artist Diane Gabbot(t))
Fun at Your Summer Fete (artist Joe Collins, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – feature
For the 1978 Tammy issue in our Tammy June month round, here is a June Tammy issue with a cover that is sure to make you smile.
Tammy posts the results of a Bella-inspired competition. Bella featured in several Tammy competitions, a four-part pull-out poster and even her own book, which showed how powerful she had become. This competition shows she was being used to help aspiring gymnasts as well.
The new story, “Prince of the Wild”, is Veronica Weir’s first and only serial for Tammy. Her artwork was seen more often in Tammy’s Strange Stories and complete stories.
“Betta to Lose” has brought Tony Coleman artwork to Tammy, and Coleman was a regular artist on the Tammy team right up until her final year in 1984.
Douglas Perry has taken over the Molly Mills artwork since Molly’s return in December 1977. Sometimes I wonder if one reason why Molly was put on hiatus in 1977 and her fate put into the hands of readers was her original artist, Tony Thewenetti, no longer continuing with her for some reason. The change in artist does suggest something like this might have happened.
The structure of the Molly Mills writing has changed completely. The story that sent her on hiatus was a tantalising cliff-hanger where Pickering frames her for theft, forcing her to go on the run from the law. Since her return, it’s been nothing but life as an unjustly wanted fugitive, and her stories are in continuous serial format. Molly’s now back at Stanton Hall, which is now under a new owner who seems to be something of a fugitive herself. An American gangster is on her tail, and now he’s caught up and holding Molly and the other servants hostage! We suspect this is all part of the build-up to the resolution of Molly’s frameup.
Bella’s latest story has taken her to Australia, as a coach to introduce gymnastics to an Australian town. Even before Bella started, things were not off to a good start (the man who hired her regrets his offer, which he made without thinking), and her arrival got delayed as well. Now she’s finally made it, she’s told the job is no longer available. And Bella has a long track record of getting stranded in foreign countries. Is it going to happen again?
Wee Sue’s latest artist is Hugh Thornton-Jones, and a continuity problem has struck. In earlier years Miss Bigger’s first name was given as Lillian, but this episode says it is Amelia, and it sticks.
Hugh D’Adderio artwork featured strongly in the Tammy Strange Stories, particularly with period settings ranging from ancient Babylon to Victorian England, as well as modern times. This week it is Elizabethan England, with a Strange Story on how witchcraft (indirectly but foretold) defeated the Spanish Armada.
Down to Earth Blairs was obviously inspired by “The Good Life”, and proved so popular that its sequel is now running. No doubt the ever-popular José Casanovas artwork sealed its success. In the original, Betsy Blair had a hard time adapting to self-sufficiency after her father’s redundancy drove the family to it. Now she accepts and enjoys it, and her sequel now follows “The Good Life” format of handling snobby neighbours and coming up with new forms of self-sufficiency and money-making, some of which don’t always go as expected.
“Circus of the Damned” is a welcome return to Tammy’s old days of dark stories laden with misery and cruelty, which now seem to have faded. A whole circus is enslaved by a fanatical circus boss who uses blackmail, animal abuse, kidnapping, and possibly murder to create the greatest show on earth. One of his tactics is forcing trapeze artists to leap over deadly snakes without a safety net.
Published: Tammy 17 November 1979 – 26 January 1980
Artist: Tony Coleman
Translations/reprints: Girl Picture Library #23 as “Fame and Fortune”
Hannah Hilton is regarded as the failure of her family, a line of success stories. She lives in the shadow of her sisters Jane and Louise, who are showered with attention and the lion’s share in everything because they are brilliant and succeed in everything. People are always whispering and laughing at what a failure Hannah is. Her apathetic parents treat her as if she doesn’t exist. They don’t lend her any help, encouragement or sympathy, especially her mother.
Great Uncle Matt, who is paying a visit, tells Hannah he will give her £100 if she can make a name for herself in the papers upon his return. It appears to be meant as a joke as much as an incentive. Still, it sets Hannah going and she starts entering a series of events to hit the headlines and prove herself. Her actions eventually focus on the town carnival.
However, Hannah’s every attempt to hit the headlines keeps being foiled by dirty tricks from her sisters. When they become the carnival princesses, they are in a stronger position to sabotage Hannah at the carnival. However, the sisters’ spite has the unexpected effect of Hannah acquiring help from others, though not from her apathetic parents. In fact, Mum just grumbles at how Hannah has changed since Uncle Matt’s money promise, as she’s not sitting quietly in the back seat anymore and even shouting at her sisters for their spite. By contrast, Hannah’s new friend Derek has noticed the sisters’ dirty tricks and offers help in any way he can. Another helper emerges at the carnival after Jane and Louise wreck Hannah’s attempt to present a letter to the guest pop star. To cheer her up, he gives her a costume to help raise money. Hannah is successful at this, but it doesn’t make her name.
Jane and Louise’s next trick is to set Hannah up at a rag week fund-raising competition to make a fool of her. Following this, Hannah finds another helper, Mrs Taylor. In return for Hannah finding her lost dog, Mrs Taylor says the Colonel is just what she needs to succeed. The Colonel is a stuffed fortune-telling parrot who was a popular attraction in Victorian times. Mrs Taylor had several requests from the mayor to revive him, but as she is too old for it, she is lending him to Hannah to do so at the antiques fair. Outside, the sisters and a friend of theirs, Mandy, hear Hannah and Mrs Taylor talking about Colonel. The sisters just laugh, but it rings a bell with Mandy and she seems more intrigued.
Soon everything looks all set for Hannah to hit the headlines when she revives Colonel at the fair, complete with reporters and the mayor all eager to see it. But on the morning of the fair, disaster strikes – someone breaks into Mrs Taylor’s cottage. The place is turned inside out and Colonel vandalised. Hannah manages to repair Colonel and is determined to put him on anyway. Before she does, she confronts her sisters over her suspicions that they were behind it. However, she is not so sure when she later hears them accusing each other of it.
At the fair, she discovers her display stand has been dismantled because the fairground staff heard about the attack and thought she wouldn’t be able to make it. But she is surprised when Uncle Matt turns up. Derek had written to him about Hannah’s situation and he has come to help. He pushes things to get a stall for Hannah and Colonel and pictures with the mayor. But he pushes things so far for Hannah rather than helping her to do things for herself that he unwittingly pushes Hannah into the background again.
Uncle Matt is so impressed at Hannah’s hard work at the fair that he gives her the money he promised. But Hannah feels it did not bring her the success she was looking for. What’s more, she soon discovers she still hasn’t really earned her family’s respect and her sisters still hog the family limelight. Besides that, there is still the mystery of the attack on Colonel.
Then Hannah learns more about Colonel’s history and discovers there are rumours about him guarding some sort of treasure. Believing this is the motive for the attack and figuring the culprit is someone who knows her, Hannah works out a plan to catch them. She also examines Colonel and finds a name plate on his base with the word “Domingo”, but can’t figure out what it means.
To flush out the culprit, Hannah throws a party with Uncle Matt’s money, to gather all the people who know her. Her sisters steal the limelight at the party, but Hannah is more interested in using the party to set a trap. This entails drawing everyone’s attention to Colonel at the party, say they’re dropping him off at Mrs Taylor’s cottage, and then wait. The thieves take the bait, and Hannah sneaks inside to surprise them while Derek calls the police. The trap snares Mandy and an unnamed boy, all ready for the police. Belatedly, Hannah remembers Mandy overheard her discussing Colonel with Mrs Taylor.
The police also clear up the mystery of Domingo: it’s the name plate and last surviving piece of Nelson’s flag ship “Domingo”, and it’s worth a fortune at auction. The valuable find and catching the thieves earns Hannah the name and respect she had been seeking for so long.
Girls’ comics have a long tradition of serials about plain girls who never shine at anything, are written off as losers, often get teased over it, and grow tired of living in the shadows. But stepping out of the shadows is far from easy, and there are always loads of setbacks and disappointments in between. And it’s never because they are genuinely incompetent or stupid. It’s because a) they have poor self-esteem and no confidence in themselves, b) their appearance is often against them, c) their home and/or school environment is letting them down, and d) there’s always some spiteful person out to sabotage them.
Hannah is no exception. Lack of confidence and self-esteem rather than incompetence are the obvious cause of her never winning anything, and her home environment is clearly to blame for it. It is doing nothing to build her confidence or support or help her in any way. In fact, it is doing the total opposite. Hannah’s school environment is not shown, but it is unlikely to be helping much either. A serious makeover would go a long way to building Hannah’s confidence, but nobody in the family ever gives her one. The only family member to help Hannah in any way is her Uncle Matt. After all, it is his promise of money that finally gives Hannah the incentive to make something of herself and climb out of the shadows. But even he is not quite going about things the right way.
Hannah is lucky in that she does find genuine helpers, most notably Derek and Mrs Taylor. Many girls in similar situations don’t have even that e.g. Kathy Clowne in “Tears of a Clown” (Jinty). Without their help Hannah could never have overcome her spiteful sisters and finally made a name for herself. Some failing parents in similar stories offer last-minute help that helps redeem themselves and save the day, such as “Sheena So Shy” and “Belinda Bookworm” from Tammy. Sadly, this is not the case with Hannah’s parents.
We also note that Hannah would have won far sooner if her sisters hadn’t keep interfering, and her failures to hit the headlines have nothing to do with incompetence. We also have to wonder why the sisters bother to sabotage her at all if they’re so confident she won’t succeed in getting the money anyway: “Caterpillars will be walking to the moon and back before Hannah shines at anything!” Unlike, say, Sandra Simpkins in “Tears of a Clown”, their motives for derailing Hannah are not clear. The nearest we get to it is their telling Hannah she’s only thinking of the money, but that doesn’t sound like their real motive. Do they secretly fear she might win after all? Do they want to make doubly sure she won’t succeed and fail to get the money? Or are they just doing it out of spite and think it’s all one huge joke?
Most heroines in Hannah’s situation discover some surprise talent and try to prove themselves through it. Kathy Clowne, for example, finds she is brilliant at running, and Sheena Willcox in “Sheena So Shy” discovers how to turn her refuge in disco dancing into a fight for success. But Hannah doesn’t go this route. This is probably because she has to meet Uncle Matt’s deadline, so it’s hit the headlines any way she can as fast as she can. But instead of her just winning in the end and getting the money, the story takes the novel route of making Hannah a winner by giving her a mystery to solve. And if there is one thing girls love, it is mystery. Unravelling the mystery makes the final episode even more exciting to read. The story also takes a surprise twist of Hannah using the money she is promised to help her succeed when readers expected Hannah to just make her name and being given the money.
There is just one question readers may be wondering: is Hannah’s triumph at the end going to be a one-off, or will it be the start of Hannah’s own success? The story gives no hint, but along the way to hitting the headlines, a number of hidden talents did come to light for Hannah: creativity, fund raising, horseshoe throwing, deduction, fortune telling with Colonel, and even ventriloquism. Any one or all of these could be taken further to boost Hannah’s confidence and further her gains as a success. And, as mentioned earlier, poor self-esteem and lack of confidence and support were at the root of Hannah’s failures. Now these are sure to get a boost, Hannah is bound to make strides in improving herself.
Molly Mills and the Promotion (first episode) – artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon
Wee Sue – artist Robert MacGillivray
Make Headlines, Hannah! – artist Tony Coleman
Turn of the Year (Strange Story) – artist Peter Wilkes
Tuck-In with Tammy – feature
For New Year we bring you Tammy’s New Year issue from 1980. This is the last New Year issue to use the Cover Girls. If they had known they would be dropped in October that year, we don’t think it would have been a very Happy New Year for them. It was a common in-joke for a Cover Girls cover to show someone holding a Tammy with the same cover or a tie-in cover. In this case, old year 1979 looks like he’s got the Tammy with the cover showing new year 1980 on it.
As it turned out, new year 1980 was a big one for Tammy. Just two weeks after this issue came out, Misty merged with Tammy, and the effect resonated for several years.
The issue is chock-a-block with New Year-themed stories from the regulars. Wee Sue, Bessie Bunter, Edie, and the Storyteller with a double helping of Strange Stories are all in on the act. So is Molly, with her new story, “The Promotion”. Sadly, it’s not a good start for the New Year for her. Ironically, it’s because of something that should be very happy for her – she is chosen for the staff promotion. But the other servants don’t look happy about it, and neither is Molly. She isn’t one of the gang anymore because of the promotion.
New Year was a popular time for girls’ comics to start new stories, and two stories start in this issue. The first is Molly’s new story. The other is “Sister in the Shadows”. Wendy Weekes is off to a new start, at her new school, but it’s already off to a bad start because everyone expects her to live up to the success of her older sister Stella. As if this weren’t bad enough, it’s also making Wendy unpopular with the other girls and a prime target for bullying.
In the old stories, things are finally looking up for Hannah Hilton, who is trying to become a success after nothing but failure, in the form of her nasty sisters who keep trying to sabotage her. Hannah is about to revive an old attraction at the fair. The mayor, who had been requesting it for years, is all agog, and so are the reporters. Seems nothing can go wrong this time – but then there’s a policeman at the door. Is it Hannah’s sisters again or something far more serious?
In “Cindy of Swan Lake”, Cindy Grey goes on tour. It should be a great experience, but, as usual, she’s lumbered with the company of her jealous rival Zoe Martin, who is also out to sabotage her. Zoe’s sabotage takes the form of head games, playing on Cindy being worried sick about her beloved swan who is being poisoned by pollution.
And in “Daughter of the Desert”, the mysterious Arab figure who seems connected to a strange series of desert-related incidents at a boarding school, leads our heroines into a trap – of quicksand!