A popular format for stories were the small digest picture story libraries. These could tell a variety of stories and were a light easy read and complete, so no need to track down the rest of the story. I’ve already looked at some of the DC Thomson picture story library for girls that were published under the names of 4 of their popular titles; Bunty, Mandy, Judy and Debbie. IPC also had their equivalent picture library which is discussed on the Jinty blog here
DC Thomson published other types of digests to capture different audiences such as the lighthearted Beano and Dandy comic libraries, Commando war stories in pictures and romance based Star- Love Stories in Pictures. Another romance based digest was Blue Jeans photo novel but the black and white and more stilted photos make the other art based books more memorable to me. Although I never read the Star digests when they were originally published, it is nice to see some familiar artists and interesting stories available digitally.
DC Thomson has only a small collection of digital content on comixology (more details here) including Beano and Dandy Annuals, Best of Bunty, Commando and Star, but the collection is growing and hopefully will continue to expand. The Star-Love Stories were first published in the 1960s and lasted until the 1990s with over a thousand issues printed. The Star digests had something in common with the Commandos as they both had the same editor for a time Chick Checkley. Unfortunately like other DCT publications details of the creators involved are still hard to come by, some familiar artists do pop up though. This looks to be Julian Vivas work.Also some familiar themes appear such as jealous rivals, career driven protagonists, historical stories, mysteries to be investigated, cruel guardians, family feuds and misunderstandings. One of my favourite’s in this collection is “Mistress of Jarmyle” digital issue #9 (originally printed in 1989 as #1195). A historical story set in Somerset in 1815, Caroline Bennet returns from America, to claim back her family home, Jarmyle, and seek revenge on Lord Grantley, the man responsible for taking over Jarmyle and killing her father in a duel. She keeps her identity hidden in order to get close to the nephew of Lord Grantley intending he will pay for his late uncle’s crimes. The art is very pretty and the digital upgrade makes it very clean and crisp. The plot is somewhat predictable but there are still some surprises and it’s a good read. The art on the covers of these books are nothing like the inside art, but they are very vibrant and striking.
Another story “Journey to Love” has orphan Jo Gibbs, a young woman who is taken advantage by her guardian who expects her to do all the housework and give her the money she earns (a familiar setting!). Jo decides enough is enough and pursues her goal of becoming a nurse which leads her to taking a job at a residential home. This in turn leads to her to be taken on the pensioner’s trip to Spain, where this potential romance and some shady business going on. Other stories include “Treacherous Heart” where an aspiring model, Alison, has to deal with a jealous rival who isn’t happy with her getting top jobs and envies her photographer boyfriend. She plans to sabotage Alison. In “Two Hearts” sisters Liz and Corrie move to the Scottish highlands to help with their father get his hotel up and running. The sisters are very different Liz more willing to muck in, while Corrie is more snobbish. They both find love interests but it seems that Corrie has her eye on Liz’s potential partner. I found the ending a bit rushed in this story but the story kept me interested as I didn’t know who was going to end up with who.
In the original format a small pin up of popular band or star would be inside the front cover. This is not included in the digital format but it may have been fun to include this in for nostalgia. Still for just 69p each, there is plenty of nostalgia to be captured in the stories. So far there are 12 digital issues available. They are fun reads and I’m looking forward to future releases.