Diary of Hate (Pages: 49-56)
Anita and her family move to a new home. Anita is quite optimistic about this, despite missing her old home. She finds an old diary about a girl, Anna who used to live in the house 100 years ago but Anna wasn’t very happy and often acted spiteful. Anita finds herself acting like Anna being snappy and selfish, events that happen in the diary seem to be repeating themselves. Anita then finds out Anna died on her 15th birthday which is the same day as her birthday. Anita starts to worry as she has being feeling ill, she thinks that Anna’s influence of her will end with her dying on her birthday. On the day of her party, she is too ill to join her guests but she does end up meeting Anna who wants Anita to join her as she is lonely. Anita confronts her telling her this house is full of love and basically it’s her own fault she doesn’t have friends. Anna disappears and Anita is finally free.
It’s an enjoyable ghost story, spooky and there’s a nice build up before Anita actually meets the ghost. I really like the art in this story, in particular the confrontation with the ghost Anna, where Anna goes from scary and threatening to sad and broken. I really like the sketchy line design of Anna.
Storm (Pages: 59-64)
This is a horse story, where a girl Amanda tries to calm a wild horse and after some mishaps Storm eventually bonds with her and they go on to win horse riding competitions. Admittedly I was never that into the horse stories, for the most part I found them boring and while I’d often reread annuals I would skim past this story. This still isn’t a story that interests me, but I can appreciate the artwork and understand that it may appeal to others. That was a great thing about these comics; even if one story didn’t appeal there were plenty of others that did.
The Perfect Partner (Pages: 65-70)
Artist: Andy Tew
Romance and Dancing! Mark and Danielle are friends and dance partners. It isn’t until someone points out that they would make a great couple that Danielle realises her feelings for Mark aren’t platonic. Unfortunately at the same time Mark gets a girlfriend. When Mark’s girlfriend comes to watch their dance practices, Danielle can’t concentrate and decides to dance solo for a while. Mark misses Danielle though and he realises he also has feelings for her so the resume their partnership and start dating.
Carly’s Cats (Pages: 81-89)
Artist: John Armstrong
Drawn by the talented John Armstrong, this is on of my favourite stories. It is an enjoyable tale where a girl Carly works in a cat sanctuary but the cats home lease is up, so they have to try to find homes for each of the cats ot the cats will be put down. She finds homes for a few, though she does run into a few problems like a fashion designer, who just wants an exotic cat as background material. One of the cats Griselda keeps getting into trouble by exploring a neighbour’s property. This turns out to be a lucky thing when a fire starts and Griselda wakes up the owner. In gratitude, she offers the cat sactuary to set up in her old outbuildings.
The drawings and colours of this story are brilliant, the cats are very distinguished and expressive. This story and the previous story are both reprinted in the last Bunty annual, 2009. So 14 years later and these stories were still considered relevant and appealing for a newer generation.
The Comp (Pages: 91-96)
Artist: Peter Wilkes
Like Jinty’s Pam of Pond Hill this was Bunty’s answer to Grange Hill (or to be more accurate Nikki’s take on Grange Hill soap as it was originally printed there). There was a big group of students at the comp, in general twins Hayley and Becky along with their best friends Laura and the American Roz were the main focus.
This is another Christmas time story. Just before the holidays, Laura slips in a bus and gets knocked unconscious. She has to stay in hospital for a few days. There she meets an energetic young girl, Alice. Alice was paralysed in a crash that killed her parents 6 months ago (she is surprisingly upbeat though). Soon she will be released into her Gran’s care but unfortunately she won’t be able to take the expensive electric wheelchair with her. The girls decide to set up an end of year concert to help raise money for it. Though Becky has fears it’ll be a disaster after some of the rehearsals.
On the night everything goes to plan and the get enough money to give Alice the wheelchair. Admittedly out of regular strips, I did prefer The Comp over The Four Marys, I found the characters had more personality and of course you got to see them interact with their families and outside of school.
Haunted Hotel (Pages: 101-108)
This was a fun strip, that was in the weekly Bunty as well. Kirsty and her family run a hotel that is also occupied by ghosts, who let out room to fellow ghosts as well! Only Kirsty can see them, though they can appear to other people if they choose. Kirsty becomes friends with the ghost of her age, Grisly.
Grisly’s family are worried when a ghost-hunter, Jemima comes to stay. Grisly especially worried when she thinks she has been found out but it turns out Jemima mistakenly thinks Kirsty is the ghost. She annoys Kirsty by following her everwhere and refering to her in her tape-recorder as a “poor lost soul”. Soon she invites other ghost hunters and they discover the actual ghosts. Eventually Grisly and her family come up with the plan to lead them away to derelict house, then take shifts keeping them occupied.
Fran in Fashion (Pages: 109-112)
This was a popular title for a story, I’m sure I’ve come across it at least 4 times, of course alliteration in titles was a popular trend and when Fashion was mentioned, Fran seemed to be the go to name, (I think there might have been a Fiona in Fashion too once). Anyway the Fran in this story actually has no interest in fashion preferring to slouch around in comfortable clothes. Her mother is a fashion designer and wants her to dress up nicer. She actually lands her a modelling job with a colleague. Expecting to see Fran dressed up she is surprised when the magazine comes out with Fran modelling jeans and jumpers. She learns to accept Fran for herself. It’s a nice mother and daughter relationship and although the mother would like to see Fran dress up she never comes across as too over bearing or bossy. They have a nice dynamic, there is a bit of conflict but nothing extreme so it seems like a natural depiction of mother-daughter relationship.
Bored Bug! (Page: 113)
In the 90s a new sort of Bunty humorous mascot appeared (maybe to fill the gap left by Haggis?) Like Haggis he was male, though he was a bug rather than a dog and he was named Bugsy. In this strip he is trying to think of something fun to do but he quickly shoots down all his ideas for various reasons. In the end he realises the obvious answer is he could be enjoying reading the Bunty Annual. Maybe they were trying to assure boys it was ok to read Bunty as well!
The Right Time (Pages: 115-122)
Rachel is 13 and still has her childhood teddy, she get teased a little bit by her friends for this. She wonders if she is too grown up for teddies and is it time to give hers away. Her parents tell her she will know when the time is right. While looking through a book about old toys she discovers that Ted (that belonged to her great-grandmother originally) is actually worth a lot of money. Her father has recently been made redundant and the family are on a tight budget so she decides now is the right time to give him up to an auction. It’s a nice story and seems relevant to Bunty in other ways as well, girls entering there teen years is the time in general, where teddies and dolls are swapped for such things as make up and comics for teen magazines. (Of course some of us never really left these things behind completely!).