As I’ve already done a post on the last Judy annual published, I thought it was time to look at the first Judy annual. Of course being 30 years from this annual to the last annual there are definite differences. Some of the focus of the stories is different, there are less teen romance stories here, than in the last annual. This early annual also had more text stories, and even the picture stories tend to use more text boxes, rather than speech bubbles. The presentation is also different to later annuals for example this is from a time that annuals had dust covers.
Inside the annual, there are 8 picture stories, 6 prose stories and 18 features. While there isn’t a lot of picture stories, they are quite long on average taking up 8 pages. As usual a lot of stories involve the long running characters from the weekly issues including; Heather, Tricky Trixie and Val of the Valley. The features are varied from puzzles, to interesting trivia and articles on women’s achievements. (For just a list of contents click here)
Sandra and the Sleeping Beauty (Pages: 6-13)
I really like the art work in this; the ballet postures, the colours of the Lilac Fairy’s costume. I know Paddy Brennan drew Sandra and the Secret Ballet, I’m not too sure if this early work is his too, it does looks similar in parts. The story itself involves Sandra falling asleep and dreaming that she plays the Lilac Fairy in a ballet of Sleeping Beauty. Other than a panel where the Wicked Fairy curse the princess and a thought balloon on the last panel there is no dialogue just text boxes explaining the story. The story isn’t anything new but it is prettily drawn and the ballet interpretation is refreshing.
Colleen and the Last Witch (Pages: 26-31)
Artist: George Ramsbottom
This was a regular story in Judy, it is set in Ireland, in a fictional town named Ballyvale near Cork. This is a new town and it is located right next to the cave where Bumble the last witch of Ireland lives. She is upset by this new town disturbing her peace and regularly casts spells to try and drive the people away. She is always defeated by a young girl Colleen, who as a 7th daughter of a 7th daughter is immune to the witche’s spells.
In this story Bumble tries to ruin the new Girl Guides camping trip. She sends a troop of ants into their camp-site, then summons great winds when they move to another site. Colleen gets the idea to set up camp in Bumble’s cave as she cannot cast spells on her own home. This was a light-hearted fun story. Bumble as a character seemed to have more in common with antagonists of “boy” comics of the time. As an antagonist she was funny, never getting the upper hand and never really a threat.
Tricky Trixie (Pages: 33-38)
Trixie the girl with a thousand faces, can change her voice and appearance through her talents of acting and make-up appliance. Here Trixie helps out a girl, Lucy, who’s overprotective mother is a big problem. First Trixie disguises herself as Lucy’s teacher and convinces her mother Lucy needs to be allowed socialise more. Mrs. Green relents somewhat but she still doesn’t let her do anything she considers strenuous. While watching her friends ice skate, one of the girls Jill falls through thin ice. Lucy being the smallest is able to get the closest to Jill and pull her out.
Lucy asks Trixie not to let her mother find out about the incident, afraid she’ll become even more over protective. When a reporter comes to cover the story for the local paper, Trixie sees this as an opportunity to help out. She dresses up as Lucy and gets the story and “Lucy’s” photo in the paper. Mr. Green is very impressed with his daughter’s deeds and decides they have been too over protective of Lucy. Mrs. Green doesn’t seem as convinced but goes along with her husband, so it all works out for Lucy.
Joan All-Alone (Pages: 49-56)
This story is set in Arizona around the 1700s. Frank Carr has the job of delivering post across “Indian” country, his wife Martha is crippled and he is dissappointed that all he has to look after her is his daughter, Joan. He wishes he had a son instead and has no problem in letting Joan know this.
Joan is determined to prove that she can do anything a boy can do. When her father leaves on a job, she takes a cloak she made out of leaves to hide herself and tracks her father. Frank meanwhile gets shot in the back. Joan brings him home, but he is badly injured and delirious. Joan sees this as her chance to prove herself. She takes the letter to deliver to Fort Brush and braves the Indians alone. She proves to be a capable person, when she hears she is being followed she quickly sets up a trap to take Red Eagle out.
As Joan continues on her way other Indians find the unconcious Red Eagle and start to track her down. When Joan sees them coming close she heads for a forest, knowing she can’t outrun them but she may be able to hide from them. When the Indians find her abandoned horse and have no luck finding her they set up camp for the night and discuss their plans to attack the fort. Joan overhearing this manages to sneak away when they fall asleep and warn the Colonel. Her father learning of all this is prouder of her than of any son.
The story has the stereotypes of “Cowboys and Indians”, as was common in the 60s and often depicted in films. There isn’t a lot of dialogue throughout the strip as Joan spends most of her time on her own. Instead of thought bubbles; text boxes were the most popular method of moving the plot along. The art and inking is impressive and colourful. The thing I most like about this story is Joan as a smart, strong and brave character, able to be feminine yet stand up to gender roles.
Backstage Betty (Pages: 69-76)
Betty is a young girl that helps out backstage with a concert troupe, doing whatever odd jobs are needed of her and extra things just to make sure everthing works out ok. She is a cheerful girl and happy when things work out. (The girl working in the background, solving all sorts of problems was quite common story; Miss Fix-It of TV, Girl With the Golden Smile were similar types in different settings.)
Here Betty helps a homesick dancing couple to feel more at home so they can perform better. The couple Carmen and Rodriguez, won’t make it as international stars if they expect everyplace to be like Spain! Firstly they are unhappy because England is so much colder than Spain. Which is a fair point as temperature adjustment takes time, but they are also just miserable being in England. The first rehersal is a disaster because of this. So Betty paints bullfighting scene on background and learns Spanish phrases to help them feel at home. She also plays Spanish music for them (which makes me wonder what they were trying to dance to before!) Borrowing a fan and Brazier she is able to heat up the stage and the rehearsal goes great.
There is another obstacle when Rodriguez is confined to bed after bad English food. Betty finds a Spanish chef to cook for him. Rodriguez automatically feels better so it doesn’t seem like it was food sickness he is just a fussy eater! Luckily after all this the show is a great success
Dixie at Dude Ranch (Pages: 90-94)
Dixie Dalton helps her father out at his Texan Ranch. She has a talent for playing guitar. Not just ordinary talent, but by playing certain cords she can command the horses of the ranch. When Miss Weston a tennis player arrives at the ranch, Dixie does not take kindly to Weston’s rudeness and boasting about her skill. She uses the opportunity of a poor local Indian girl to beat Miss Weston and put her in her place.
Runaway Princess in Paris (Page: 97-104)
The Princess in the title may be misleading, Princess is a dog not any kind of royalty. Coincidentally the girl of this story Babette’s dog is named Prince. Her and her parents live in Paris, but not for long as her Dad is getting transferred to London, but Prince will not be able to come. Naturally Babette is upset by this news but is distracted from her problems when she witnesses a minor car crash and a poodle escaping. With the help of Prince she tracks down Princess. Prince rescues Princess from a lake and they get her back to her owner Charmaine, a famous actress. Charmaine is delighted and Babette tells her of her predicament. Charmaine solves the problem by offering her a job, so both her and Prince can stay in Paris.
Heather in Italy (Pages: 113-120)
Heather was an amusing “wee” Scottish girl. She was often of the habit of breaking the 4th wall, looking straight out at the readers. Here she on a tour with some snobby artists in Italy she soon gets the best of them after them playing tricks on her. The art is good solid, the story is amusing.