The policy of merging comics together is mostly looked down on, people dreaded the slogan “Great News for Our Readers” on the front cover of a comic, as that usually meant that your comic was being merged with another and that sounded the death knell of your favourite book. When Mandy and Judy merged together in 1991, they had each previously swallowed up a number of comics and another decade would see the last girl comic standing, Bunty, finish up. Mandy & Judy didn’t last too long only 6 years and there was a decline in quality and more of a dependency on reprints towards the end. I’m sure I could do a list of negative things about M&J (and mergers in general) but I prefer to look on the positive and the truth is there is also a lot of things I liked as well. So here is my list of favourite things about M&J:
1. That it was a “New” magazine.
- It starts with a new issue 1 which was uncommon for a DC Thomson publication. So both comics still maintained a presence in the comic, while also incorporating new things.
2. The overall look of the comic.
- I liked the layout of the comic, the story titles font, the contents box and the first few years particularly had a nice style. There was some nice touches like the way the classic stories were printed with an old style border. There was a good mix of features and stories. There was also a nice mix of colour and b&w and I actually preferred the “cheaper” paper over glossy paper. Also before the cover switched to photos I really liked the cover art.
3. The Classic section.
- Which I know may sound contradictory that one of the best features was reprints! But these were good stories, and a lot of stories I hadn’t read before so it was good to see.
4. Penny’s Place and the other soap like stories
- Penny’s Place was a strong story with good characters and art. I actually think the majority of the soap like stories were good here; Nurses, Stage School, Pine Tree Grove and to a lesser extent Classmates.
5. They had relevant life issues in some stories
- Penny’s Place addressed common problems and normal life, but other stories also hit on some interesting subjects. Like in one, a mother suffers from post natal depression and in another a family tries to copes after their brother dies of illness.
6. Skeleton Corner
- While it started in Judy, the majority of its stories were in M&J and it had a lot of good creepy stories. Also worth mentioning as another narrator of short stories; Jade Jenkins was enjoyable and a good update on something like Dolwyn’s Dolls.
7. It had some memorable serials
- While it had reprints (which could be good too!) and some not so good stories, it also contained some of my personal favourite serials such as “Strange Neighbours” “Gameplay” “Door to Yesterday” “Wendy’s Web” and “Hard Mercy”. The art was usually top quality too.