A common feature for Mandy annuals is to have a long picture story split throughout the book. In this annual there is one story that totals 36 pages and is split into 4 parts. The rest of the comic strips have a range of 3 to 11 pages.
There doesn’t seem to be as much variety as other annuals. The majority of stories are based on regular characters from the weekly comic such as “Stella Starr” and “Hilary of the Happy Bus”. The features are all quiz based features, each quiz has a theme. For more details read on… (For just a list of contents click here)
A Wedding for Wilma (Pages: 4-9)
Fran is looking for a husband for her elder sister. For what purpose… to quote Fran “If only I could find her a husband to take her away from housework sometimes” Yep not so the husband can help her out but so he can take her away from it sometimes. Really, if that is her worry why doesn’t Fran help her out some time?
Considering this is 1981 annual, Fran’s character seems to be oblivious to any feminist movement. While I don’t think its necessarily a bad thing to have a variety of characters, and not everyone has to be the sensible strong feminist but I think this seems to be a common theme in this annual. There seems to be a lack of characters to contrast the less feminist Fran.
Fran tries to set Wilma up with her gymnastics instructor Tim because he has the great husband qualities of being “ strong and handsome”. She tries to start their “courtship” off by giving them opportunities to spend time together. I question if a 13ish old girl be using the word “courtship” in the 80s. Meanwhile Wilma seems quite capable of making a play for Tim without help from Fran (Go Wilma!).
Unfortunately Tim is fitness freak and his idea of dates is getting her to watch him play football and as she’s so supportive he brings her the teams strips to wash. He also decides to get the girls training for football and a romantic trip on the river turns into skull training for Wilma until she tells him where to shove it. Wilma is actually a good role model in a lot of way. She doesn’t hesitate in considering Tim as a potential boyfriend, but at the same time isn’t dependent on him for happiness and knows when to get out the relationship.
“That’s Not My Gran” (Pages: 11-16/33-44/81-90/120-126)
- Artist: Claude Berridge
This is the 4 part complete new story. Jenny goes to visit her gran’s grave. While she’s there a storm blows up and she is knocked out by a branch and doesn’t see a ball of lightning in the sky. She wakes up and goes home and discovers her gran is alive. Which is kind of a creepy premise. Suddenly Gran is back from the dead, not as some zombie but as a mean lady who likes to kick fluffy cute lambs or poor cats.
So this makes Jenny suspicious. Well that and the fact she is the only one that remembers her gran dying in the first place. Gran’s strange behaviour extends to cheating at a cake competition, deciding she wants a driving licence and nearly runs over a guide dog (she really has it in for animals!) and slamming her other granddaughter’s hand in the car boot.
But nobody else seems to notice Grans obvious evilness. Throughout the four parts the big mystery builds up, not only her strange behaviour but gran seems to be able to make people forget things when she looks in their eyes and she doesn’t show up in photographs. Jenny being suspicious of all this strangeness discovers that her “Gran” is actually an alien.
She overhears Gran talking over radio about wheter earth is suitable. It is never actually states what they want Earth to be suitable for but presumably it’s the traditional Alien takeover scheme. As a powerful alien though I don’t know where the thought process was that the best human form to take was that of a previously deceased gran! Luckily the alien accidentally disintegrates itself when it is attacked by a blind man. The aliens not getting their final data about earth presume it’s not suitable for a takeover and everyone forgets about fake gran again (except for Jenny). Alien plots like this are quite common, but what is less common is using an elderly person as often children or teens were used in some manner.
The Living Lie of Linda (Pages: 22-32)
Linda is in a wheelchair after an accident. She is making progress learning to walk again when she overhears her father talking to a woman on the phone saying he can’t leave until Linda’s better. Linda jumps to the conclusion he is having an affair and decides the healthiest way to deal with this is to pretend that she still can’t walk so the father will have to stay with the family against his will.
When she’s out swimming another girl gets into trouble and Linda goes to rescue her so the family discover she can use her legs. It turns out the father was talking to his new boss’s wife about a job offer he wasn’t going to take until Linda was recovered.
While the story is fairly average, I do really like the different angles the artist used in this story its nice to see some experimentation.
Lucy’s Locket (Pages: 45-48)
Art: George Martin
Lucy has a magical locket that brings bad luck to whoever’s photo is in the locket. So you’d think a magical object like that should be kept safe. Lucy thinks its fine to let her little sister play around with the locket and wear it around. When her sister, Ruth, is conned by some market sellers into exchanging the locket for two cheap lockets, Lucy has to figure a way of getting it back.
Luckily for her she doesn’t have to do much because the con woman puts a photo of herself and her husband in the locket. So after a string of bad luck Lucy is able to get the locket back.
Stars in her Eyes (Pages: 52-55)
Art: Richard Neillands
Karen is a girl who thinks horoscopes are a guide for life. When her horoscope for the week says she should take a chance on going someplace different but over-tiredness may ruin the day, she decides she can’t turn down any opportunity. So she agrees to go on a school trip, a youth club trip, help at a jumble sale and go to a disco all on the one day. At each trip she also has a different boy that she agrees to dance with at the disco. She tries not to tire herself out at any of the events, such as skipping the tidy up at the jumble sale, so she will have enough energy at the disco. Of course the three boys have been picking up her slack all day so they end up falling asleep at the disco, so Karen has no-one to dance with anyway!
Blind Ben’s White Christmas (Pages: 57-64)
I am an animal lover so I did feel for the dog in this story. Ben is the family dog on a farm and he is losing his sight. The family of course just let him retire inside the house. Jill’s aunt comes to stay with the family and disrupts everything. She moves furniture around so Ben gets confused and then when Ben is just lying down asleep she blames him when she trips over him. She also insists that he should be put down. I definitely would have told that aunt where to go!
Ben ends up being moved back outside in the snow. Then the aunt goes wandering off in the snow and slips hurting her leg. She would have probably froze to death only for Ben sniffing her out. The aunt apologises to Ben and the family, so everyone has a happy Christmas. I know the drama and conflict has to come from some place, but I really don’t see why the family would even consider putting Ben down because of the aunt’s suggestion. It’s already established other than not being able to see, Ben isn’t in pain and nobody is happy about aunt coming to stay in the first place so why would they be taking her advice!