Bunty had a long run of annuals, up to 1988 Bunty appeared on the covers, after that cover girls were used instead. There was still plenty of picture stories inside, long running popular characters like The Four Marys and The Comp are present, along with complete new stories. In this book, there are 17 picture stories altogether, only 1 text story though. By this time photo stories were a common element, still there are only 2 photo stories present here. There isn’t a lot of features only 5 here. Overall there’s a nice variety here. (For just a list of contents click here)
The Four Marys (Pages: 5-12/ 76-80)
Artist: Barrie Mitchell
Probably the most famous of school stories and the longest running, the Four Marys was about 4 friends that attended a boarding school, St. Elmos. For the most part they went by nicknames to avoid confusion (though in early stories they did not). Raddy was the down to earth- daughter of an Earl, Simpy was the scholarship girl, who often got a hard time from the snobs Mabel and Veronica, Cotty was the artistic one and also sometimes a klutz, and finally Fieldy was the sporty one.
In this annual there are two stories about the girls. The first is a Christmas themed story. While most of the school has gone home for the holidays, a group including the four Marys and snobs Mabel and Veronica are left behind for a few extra days as their parents aren’t around yet. It starts to snow and the girls have great fun the first day having snowball fights and sledding. Then it continues to snow and the girls wake up to find the electricity gone. While Mabel and Veronica complain about everything, everyone else gets on with things. Later when the girls are out, another pupil Andrea has an accident and hurts her leg. The girls get her back to the school but she will need to get to hospital. The phones are down and the roads have yet to be cleared, but luckily Raddy is a great skier and manages to go for help. They get Andrea to hospital and also get supplies for the school. The roads still won’t be cleared for Christmas though so they will have to stay. The girls don’t mind so much. Though Mabel and Veronica amusingly do.
The second story has Raddy become a snob after a skiing accident. A blow to her head causes amnesia, while her memories return, her personality changes. Her parents hope that being around friends will help her recover. While Miss Mitchell and Creef are aware of this plan they don’t actually think it would be helpful to inform the other Marys about Raddy’s accident, so they get a surprise when Raddy comes in and starts ordering them around. and insist everyone refers to her as Lady Mary. Another knock on the head cures her, though when Simpy accidentally drops a book on her head.
As for the artist I’ve seen both Barrie Mitchell and Jim Eldridge credited for later Four Marys stories, but I think this is Eldridge work. Update: Apparently artist is Barrie Mitchell! It would be so much easier if creators were actually credited for their work in the past!
Secret Schoolgirl (Pages: 17-20, 71-74, 97-100)
This is a story in 3 parts which was a more common trait for Mandy annuals. Amy is at boarding school when she hears her parent’s plane has crashed and they likely haven’t survived. She has to go live with her aunt who is mean to her and treats her like a free maid. The people at her new school aren’t any nicer, so Amy goes back to Blackstone and her friends agree to hide her. They find the perfect place in the drama room, which is situated near a classroom so she can hear lessons and also she can dress up in disguise quickly when needed. When Amy sees a new girl stealing she make sure she’s caught but also the police are called. She thinks it’s too much of a risk to stay and runs away when she sees the police coming. She trips and knocks herself unconscious. When she wakes up in hospital her parents are there they had survives the crash after all. This was common when someone says that no-one is likely to have survived a crash, the dead people would turn up by the end of the story!
Annie’s Story (Pages: 21-25)
The opening caption box for this story places the time period as April 1985 but judging by their dress and background it is meant to say 1895. Unless it’s some time warped village which would put an interesting spin on the reading or a reminder of Shyamalan’s The Village! Annie is new to the village but has fitted in well as she is a friendly, nice girl. This does lead to some trouble with two girls; Mary and Ellen. They are especially mad when it comes to picking the May Queen, Annie makes sure a young disabled girl gets to be the Queen. This leads to a fight where Annie gets knocked onto an oncoming horse and cart. It is revealed that the family had moved to the village after Annie had nearly died from an illness and her eagerness to help of others is mostly due to her gratitude of surviving. On hearing this Mary and Ellen see the error of their ways and are very sorry about the accident. By the next summer Annie is recovered and the 3 are good friends visiting sick kids in the hospital.
A Dancer’s Dream (Pages: 26-32)
Artist: Guy Peeters
Hannah longs to be a ballerina and when she gets an audition for a scholarship at a famous ballet school she is thrilled. The audition is to take place over a weekend and Hannah is to room with 2 other candidates, Stephanie and Nicola. Hannah quickly becomes friends with Stephanie but Nicola is quite a nasty person, who makes sure to suck up to the teachers while trying to sabotage the other girls on the side. Hannah ends up being late for her audition as she tries to comfort a girl Gail that Nicola upset.
Hannah thinks she may have lost her chance but it turns out Stephanie is already a student at the school and she was there to make sure that as well as being talented, a generous and kind pupil was chosen. Predictable that Nicola would be found out, but still a decent story with decent art.
My Pen Pal From Pluto (Pages: 33-39)
Alien antics are always fun! Karen’s brother Martin customises a satellite dish so he can get channels from all over the world. It turns out the dish doesn’t just pick up transmissions from our world, as Karen finds herself communicating with a girl from Pluto; Aurora. No one believes her as she can never get Aurora to appear when people are around. Aurora comes to visit for a day, and of course causes trouble when she does such things as put food samples in her bag saying they will be interesting for scientific study.
Before a French lesson Karen tries to use Aurora’s language translator to help her, but Aurora’s too late in explaining you need to point it at the person who is fluent in that language. Aurora is beamed back to her ship before fixing it and Karen is left only able to speak Pluto. Luckily at their next transmission Aurora is able to fix Karen, just in time because the neighbours have complained and Martin has to take down dish.
I like the alien Aurora design, though she still looks close to human, it is still fun, which matches the fun, light-hearted tone of the story.
Bunty- A Girl Like You (Pages: 48/123)
Bunty gets up to her usual amusing antics. In the first strip Bunty and her friends are annoyed by people in the cinema talking and eating loudly. Lisa convinces the girls that they can watch a video quietly while babysitting her cousins, but of course things don’t work out that way as the kids stay up banging on drums while the girls try to watch their film.
In the second strip Bunty builds a snowman but the next morning all the snow has melted. It starts snowing again so she build another one. Her mother tells her next morning her snowman is gone again but Bunty isn’t disappointed as this time it is because it snowed even more during the night and now she can build even more snowmen.
Also of note is that Bunty appears on the first 2 pages and the last 2 pages inside the cover. It is more like the traditional way of the old Bunty; an amusing rhyme goes along with the images.