The first issue of Judy is dated 1 January 1960 and cost 4 ½ d. Its final issue just over 30 years later, is dated 11 May 1991 and cost 30p. The publication had a good long run, perhaps partly due to it being the 2nd girl’s comic DCT launched after Bunty. It’s similarity to Bunty seemed to be a selling point, as the banner on the first cover states “Companion Paper to Bunty“. The first issue does have an eye catching cover, keeping things quite simplistic and of course the advertisement of the obligatory free gift is quite eye-catching. Clear as well, is that it is a no. 1 issue and the red Judy title on the blue banner stands out from the relatively white background. The young Judy admiring her free bangle, shows who the title is aimed at. The last issue’s cover also keeps things quite simplistic with the picture of (a very different looking) Judy and Patch, being the main focus. Of course typical for a last issue, is the banner announcing “Great News for all Girls”, if that didn’t give you an idea of what was happening, then sister publication, Mandy’s dog Patch being on the cover was certainly a big hint of what was to come.
Inside the first issue there are 9 picture stories and one short comic strip on half a page, a true life picture story, 3 text stories, a puzzle section and a fact page done in picture format. In the last issue there are 9 picture stories, 2 features and an ad for the new M&J magazine. So there is a lot of content in the first issue, although most of the stories only take up 2 pages rather than the last issue where stories average 3 pages. As well the last issue has to take time to finish up stories as well as advertise what’s to come in the new book.
The Contents of the First Issue:
- Sandra of the Secret Ballet– a young girl is taken away from her harsh stepmother to learn ballet.
- The Ring That Winks– Julie is given a magic ring so she can communicate with animals.
- The Lass Of Flinty Farm– Jill a talented hockey player joins a snobbish school, where one teacher in particular dislikes her.
- Lucky-Locks– a complete text story about a girl who early sells her hair to save her mother’s shop
- Wee Babs– a silent 3 panel humour stip at the bottom of the text story.
- An advertisement for next week’s Judy.
- Janie B. Quick– a humour strip about speedster Janie.
- The Scarlet Wagon– an adventure on a wagon trail across the wild west.
- Popski’s Circus– a circus that’s run by a heartless miser.
- Big Sister– text story about Janet who works for a company escorting children through their travels.
- Nanette Of The North– a young girl helps out at her dad’s delivery service in the Canadian Backwoods.
- The Story In Pictures Of David Copperfield– retelling of the classic story.
- Anna Junior Miss– a text story, Anna starts her work at a big department store.
- Pop the Question– half page of puzzles.
- Janette Scott Growing Up– the life of actress Janette Scott told in pictures.
- Runaway Princess– on an island in the Pacific, Princess Mo-Nah runs away as she doesn’t want to be queen.
- Alice in Winterland- Alice explores the world and life of the Eskimos.
The Contents of the Last Issue (#1635):
- Torn Apart – twins Katy and Ellen are upset that after their parents divorce they are seperated.
- It Must Be Luv: Star Wars!– complete story, romance
- Dear Pen Pal– feature to find a pen pal
- Watching You (Skeleton Corner)– a spooky story involving an empty house.
- Starscope– horoscopes
- Sally Says– Jenny’s twin Sally has lost her voice but can communicate telepathically and control Jenny
- Mandy & Judy– two page advert of the new comic
- Sarah The Seventh– Sarah convinces people at her new school that she has magic powers.
- The Honourable S.J.– S.J. schemes to get herself a part in a film.
- Lynn Dean’s Deadly Double- in the 1920s Lyn has to try and defeat her evil double that is trying to kill her.
- Wee Slavey– Victorian maid Nellie helps her employers out of a sticky situation.
- Judy & Co.– Judy tells her friends the bad news that she is moving.
There doesn’t seem to be much in common with the stories being told in the first and last issues, the first issue has a lot of adventurous stories like The Scarlet Wagon, Nannette of the North, Runaway Princess and career driven stories like Big Sister and Anna Junior Miss. There seems to be more spooky and mystical stories in the last issue; Lynn Dean’s Deadly Double (which was originally published in Spellbound), Sally Says and Skeleton Corner. There is a mystical object in first issue with “The Ring that Winks” but that is played for humour rather than spookiness. S.J. and Sarah the Seventh are both schemers, which has something in common with the teacher in “The Lass Of Flinty Farm”. The short story in the last issue involves romance, which became a more common theme in the 80s/90.
Also a lot of the protagonists seem older in the last issue compared to the first issue where Sandra is said to be 11 and Jill is 12, but maybe they just seem older because of the tone and difference in the time its set. They are from very different time periods, a story with divorced parents was less likely to appear in the 60s and characters in general weren’t concerned about getting boyfriends.
I think both issues contain some good stories and both had a nice variety of stories. Along with the short serials, they both contain long running memorable characters/stories. Anna Junior Miss seems to be particularly enduring as it went on to be adapted into a picture story, then it was renamed and redrawn as the Girl with the Golden Smile. It doesn’t appear in the last issue but it still lasted nearly up to the end.
There are no text stories in the last issue, they had become a less common feature in comics as time went on. The only regular text story I remember in the 90s was Carly’s Crowd in Bunty. Another thing that was dropped in later years was adapting classic books, which is a pity I think, because it was a good way to introduce girls to these stories and maybe encourage them to seek out the source material. I also liked the factual features in the first issues that helped to teach about people and places in a fun way.
The changes from the first and last issue did progress naturally throughout the years, such as factual features, becoming more focused on pop music etc. in the 70s. So to take the run as a whole isn’t as jarring as just looking at the first and last issue. I think the overall run did create some great characters and I can pick up an issue from any year and find something to like in it. The last issue is at a disadvantage of trying to tie everything up before the merger, one story in particular feels like its ending is a bit rushed. There were some good tie ins to the new magazine, to encourage you to buy it. The Honourable S.J is a prequel setting up the reprint of the original story in M&J. Judy & Co. has Judy saying goodbye to her friends and her meeting Mandy, although Mandy looks a bit odd, like she was cut and pasted in!
So it wasn’t the end really for Judy and it had the advantage of starting a new issue and not just merging and getting lost into another comic. M&J shared both classic Mandy and Judy as well as the new stories, and Judy’s influence was still present throughout. Although another few years would see only Bunty remaining.