The Comp (Pages: 57-58)
There is only one text story in this annual and it’s narrated by Laura Brady of “The Comp”. Mostly she is being annoyed by Hodge and Freddy, and declares that we’d be better off without boys. Hayley on the other hand is love struck and is delighted when fifth former Darren asks her out. Hodge and Freddy, let Laura know that Darren is only using Hayley to get to another girl Marilyn. Together they all come up with a plan to humiliate Darren and put him in his place. It’s a fine story and it’s unusual to see a regular character like Laura, narrate directly to the reader acknowledging the reader’s presence.
Wheels of Love (Pages: 13-16)
Photo Stories were often just a cheaper, easier story mode. They do get a bit of a bashing sometimes. Often they didn’t seem very natural, there could be a lack of flow and situations seem very staged. While I agree I’d prefer good artwork over photos, still they weren’t all bad. This story is a bit of fun, it is narrated by a bike that tries to get it’s owner a boyfriend. It does this by breaking every time a boy shows up. After a few failed attempts Julie gets a date but she also decides to sell off the bike as it’s so unreliable!
Luv, Lisa (Pages 42-47)
This was a long running photo story, basically its just the everyday life of Lisa and her family, I’m not sure when the strip ended in the comic, but presumably it was when it was Lisa started getting too old. Must be strange to see yourself grow up in comics. Wonder what happened to them! Here Lisa tries to get the family in the Christmas spirit as everyone seems a bit grumpy. They do end up having a good Christmas after all and Lisa is happy with her new typewriter.
Cover Story (Pages: 40-41)
This is a photo feature showing the process of getting the cover girl ready for photo shoot. It also talks a bit about the cover girl who was Emma Griffiths-Malin, If the name sounds familiar she went on to act in various things including TVs The Forsythe Saga and House of Boys. It’s interesting both to see some of the behind the scenes production that goes into the annual and also seeing where that person is today.
The Best Best Friend? (Page: 75)
The ‘best friend’ quiz was a very popular feature in the 90s and 00s, I already mentioned in the Judy 1993 annual, but it would be interesting to see how many times they appeared if I counted them all up. There isn’t much new or different in this quiz than previous ones.
Christmas Crackers (Page: 90)
The traditional puzzle page, which were always enjoyable. One of the puzzles you have to guess who is the celebrity disguised with a Santa hat and beard. In this case it was Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I’m quite impressed that my younger self managed to only spell one letter wrong! (I spelled it Schwaizenegger).
Presenting Christmas (Page: 114)
Hints to make Christmas wrapped presents look more special. Tips include making tags from cutting out pictures from old Christmas cards and sticking chocolate coins to brighten up wrapped presents for an extra treat.
Starring You! (Pages: 124-125)
A nice little reader feature that does a little profile on 4 readers, it includes such questions as their favourite Bunty story and TV favourites, three wishes they have and their ambition. Interestingly favourite Bunty stories were either The Four Marys or Luv, Lisa.
Of course the usual reader favourites are there, The Four Marys, Luv Lisa and The Comp, there is a nice mix of other stories too. There is some fun and weirdness with Haunted Hotel and Pen Pal from Pluto, drama like Secret Schoolgirl and Storm, also spooky story and period drama to round it up . I would say it wouldn’t meet the heights of some other annuals but it is still is pretty decent, highlights for me would be Haunted Hotel, Carly’s Cats and Diary of Hate.
Regarding the features, I think the 90s was a transition period for the annual features, moving on from such things as Bunty’s cut out wardrobe, but not quite at the 2000s stage which actually became more feature heavy again with a more magazine feel to it.
The art throughout is good and the whole book is quite colourful and eye catching.