While annuals like Mandy often had long picture stories, commonly split in 4 parts throughout the annual, Judy seemed to favour shorter stories and therefore more of them. Comic strips ranged from 2 to 6 pages.
There are a nice variety of stories, some humorous strips, and regular characters such as Wee Slavey and Cora Cupid in new adventures and then there are new complete stories especially for the annual. Stories with twist endings seemed to be a favourite, perhaps because these fitted better with telling a story in a few pages. For more details on the featured stories read on… (For just a list of contents click here)
Silver Star (Pages: 5-9)
This story seems to start out as any other average horse story, an untameable horse and the only person who ever could ride him in a coma after an unnamed tragic accident. But it quickly turns to the more bizarre side when it the next panel states the story really starts a year ago with an alien scouting ship. While the alien, Captain Zoros’, ship is on a collision course to Earth, we see the stable owner’s daughter Megan, being a spoilt brat (though it’s clear she will get her comeuppance as a year later she’s in coma).
That evening a meteorite crashes near the stables of a pregnant horse. The horse’s foal is born and Megan names him Silver Star and claims him as her own. The other stable workers notice something unusual about the horse, after a few months he looks like a 2 year old, and he seems too intelligent.
Finally Zoros fellow aliens track him down and bring Megan and the horse to their ship. They extract Zoros but accidently put Megan’s personality into Silver Star. So the comatose Megan is empty and the spirited horse is actually Megan, though it’s decided that a lifetime of punishment as a horse is a bit much for being a spoilt brat, so the aliens realise their mistake (how they realise it a whole year later isn’t explained!) and come back and fix it, so happy ending for Megan who becomes a nicer person after that.
Bobby Dazzler (Pages: 12-15)
Artist: Matías Alonso
This was a regular strip in Judy, though it isn’t drawn by the regular artist. This strip like all the artist’s work is lovely looking. The only flaw I find is that Bobby a bit too pretty and girly then I’m used to.
Basically Bobby is the only girl at an all-boys boarding school where her mother works. She usually ends up having to prove that she can do anything the boys can (and she usually does it better!). This story follows a typical set up where her main antagonists, Mike and Don, sign up for a model plane building competition and laugh at Bobby when she says she’ll enter. They tell her she should stick to flower arranging (this piece of dialogue will be a set up for the end punchline).
Of course when they realise she’s actually good at making model planes they decide to interfere as they can’t lose to a girl! So when Bobby volunteers to do the flower display for the hall, the boys decide to lock her into the room so she hasn’t time to finish her model. Of course quick thinking Bobby uses the flowers and some wire to make a unique model plane and ends up winning the competition.
I liked Bobby Dazzler, she could always hold her own with the boys and the boys while sounding a bit chauvinistic were usually aware that Bobby could beat them at most things.
The Time Machine (Pages: 17-21)
Artist: Ken Houghton
Ann lives with her brilliant inventor uncle, who of course has no money, still waiting for the invention that will make them millions. He thinks he finally has it when he makes a time machine. Ann isn’t too convinced. Later she sees a paper headline about a painting that sold for a million pounds by Leonardo. (Presumably Da Vinci though they never say his second name specifically for some reason, they just leave it at Leonardo, Italian painter from 1498). So when she sees that the painting was part of a pair she decides to try out her uncle’s time machine.
Somehow the vague location of Milan lands her right in his studio. We also get the classic swirling numbers when travelling back in time (this is also where this site’s banner comes from). So Ann does a deal with Leonardo, through gestures as he’s Italian and doesn’t speak English.
So she takes the painting back and then goes to contact an art dealer. Straight away the dealer tells her it can’t be the original painting as the paint’s too fresh, he gives her £50 for it anyway for its curiosity value. Of course time as a loop means that she was the cause of the painting being “lost”.
Simple Simon (Pages: 23-25)
Artist: Sean Phillips Inker: Ken Houghton
As this is only 3 pages long the set-up, conflict and resolution all come pretty quick. Sandra Brown and her horse, Simon, are accepted into a riding club and she delighted. She has a great time on the outings with the club and seems oblivious that the girls are annoyed that her horse is too slow to keep up with the rest of them.
So she is surprised and disappointed a few weeks later when one of the girls, Moira, tells her she has been voted out of the club. She is still loyal to Simon telling him he’s better than any of the faster ponies and then the next day he gets to prove himself when Moira’s horse gets in trouble. Simon helps pull Moira’s horse out of the bog and Moira is so grateful she and the rest of the club vote for Sandra and Simon to join again. Sandra accepts it enthusiastically with no conflict about been kicked out 2 days before.
Schoolgirl Vet (Pages: 27-31)
This was another regular Judy feature about a girl Kay Burrows who wanted to be a vet and helped her vet brother David a lot of the time. In this story the set-up is that Constable Clark’s dog Rex who is trained to protect him and not accept anything from strangers, gets poisoned. They don’t know what could have happened but Kay figures out that the stick Clark has being using to play fetch with Rex is Laburnum, a poisonous plant.
So Rex is cured, but a mere poisoning doesn’t make for enough of a thrilling story, so a runaway truck has to be added. Constable Clark performs an impressive and improbable bit of policing.
But wouldn’t you know it after that amazing feat, the brakes have failed so all Clark and Rex can do is steer it clear of the populated area and use their amazing reflexes to jump clear of the truck
Clark is hurt and needs to be gotten clear of the truck before it explodes but Rex won’t let anyone near him. While some guy gets ready to shoot the dog, Kay and David arrive. Kay convinces the police to let her try and get the dog and Rex recognises her and lets her put a lead on him so everyone’s okay.
A Year and a Day (Pages: 33-37)
The year is 1738 and a Squire Jonas and his new wife Althea, are heading home when the coach nearly hits an old woman. Now the Squire doesn’t seem like a bad guy he had told his driver to go slower and shows concern about the old woman though he does mention that people call her a witch. Woodtrope (the witch) decides to place a curse on him, which seems somewhat unfair after all it was his driver’s fault not his, unless she was more pissed off by being called a witch, in which instance she doesn’t help her case by cursing his first born child.
So for those of you who are history buffs you might spot a flaw in her curse, for everyone else prepare for the twist ending.
So the couple have a daughter, Alona, and pretty much forget about the curse until Woodthorpe turns up to remind them on Alona’s 13th birthday. While Jonas is sceptical about Woodthorpe’s powers, Althea decides she should spend the night of the 2nd with her daughter. Just as midnight approaches Death appears. Looking like the stereotypical Death with a cloak and scythe, and also wings and a horse and lots of smoke. Then the clock strikes midnight and he just disappears. The next day Alona’s tutor comes with the news that Woodthorpe was heard to be carried off screaming in the night and also provides the reason for Death’s disappearance.
Apparently Death follows the Gregorian calendar too.
A Fast Learner (Pages: 40-44)
Marie Reagan is part of a travelling community and is told she will have to go to school by the government. She insists on bringing her parrot to school and of course she runs into some bullies the first day. The bullies leave the parrot out of the cage and she flies away. For someone that was so insistent that she couldn’t be parted from her bird she isn’t too upset about her flying off. She doesn’t even look for her; she just leaves the cage open at school and goes home to study. Meanwhile the bullies decide to set Marie up by stealing stuff and put it in Marie’s locker.
So the police arrive and Marie is happy to see Polly has returned to the locker room. She is surprised when the police search the lockers and find the stolen stuff in her locker. Luckily there is a witness to the crime, as Polly quotes the bullies.
The policeman takes the word of the parrot. The bullies get taken to the station to meet their parents and Marie does well on her first test, so everything works out.
The Hero (Pages 49-51)
Two sisters, Susan and Rachel, decide to avoid any more dates with two boys who bored them by talking about cowboys and rock climbing respectively. The perfect distraction comes in the form of a film star who is part of film being shot in their town. A big crowd gathers around and Jason James the film star chooses the girls to go on a boat with him for publicity shots. Of course when things go wrong, it’s the boys to the rescue with their skills of rock climbing and ah… cowboy related lassoing.
Of course Jason James makes a complete idiot of himself. The boys are enjoying attention from some girls when Susan and Rachel come over to set them straight, that it’s theirboyfriends the girls are hitting on. So being fickle girls, they are now fascinated by their boyfriends interests the minute some other girls show and interest in them.
Cora Cupid (Pages: 55-57)
Another regular Judy story about a girl, Cora’s, attempts to play matchmaker. As she is an already established character with Judy fans, other than a small caption box there is no need for a big story set up. This also means that a short 3 page story works better here than the previously mentioned “Simple Simon”. In this story she tries to matchmaker an overzealous first aider with a guy who wants to be a doctor. It doesn’t quite work as she hoped.
Romance and boyfriends became a more common story plot in the 70s/80s/90s then when these comics first started.
Rain (Pages: 62-63)
Art: Oliver Passingham
Marie Patin and her father a doctor live in a log cabin where there neighbours are a tribe of “Red Indians”. Anuak, one of the neighbours apparently has interest in becoming a doctor but thinks his elders wouldn’t approve as they are set in their ways. He is disparaging of their plans for a ritual to the rain god to stop the recent flooding. That night Marie awakens to find an old man outside in the rain. She invites him in gives him shelter. The next morning he has gone and so has the rain. Anuak has a quick change of opinion about his elders with these revelations.