Category Archives: Bunty

Mona Maid of Magic [1965]

Plot

Mona Masters, a promising magician, becomes apprentice to Merlina, aka the Black Witch. Merlina kidnaps three magicians to steal their secrets. Mona rescues them but burns her hands doing so. Merlina soon dies, but before she does she curses Mona’s hands, saying they will never heal. The hands refuse to heal and Mona is convinced Merlina’s curse is making her unable to perform magic again. However, the three grateful magicians are determined to help Mona overcome the problem and make her a famous magician.

Notes

  • A sequel, Mona The Maharaja’s Magician, ran in Bunty #429 (April 2 1966) – #438 (June 11 1966)

Appeared

  • Mona Maid of Magic – Bunty: #365 (January 9 1965) – #375 (20 March 1965)

Mark of the Witch [1966-67]

Plot

In 1588, Liza Trott’s mother Betsy is accused of witchcraft by Sir Edward, the current owner of Mullion Manor, and imprisoned to await trial at the assizes. Liza is branded “W” as the daughter of a witch and turned out of the community. She goes to London to get help for her mother from the previous owner of Mullion Manor. But when Sir Edward realises where Liza is headed, he goes in pursuit of her.

Notes

  • Artist: Hugh Thornton-Jones
  • Not to be confused with “Mark of the Witch!” from Jinty

Appeared

  • Mark of the Witch – Bunty: #458 (22 October 1966) – #469 (7 January 1967)

“I’ll Never Forgive You!” [1989]

Published: Bunty #1652 (09 September 1989) – #1661 (11 November 1989)

Episodes: 10

Artist: Douglas Perry

Reprints: None known

Plot

Carol Hastings is a difficult girl and getting into wild company that  her parents don’t approve of. When they remonstrate with her one more time, she reacts against it by running away, thinking she’s unloved and unwanted. Eventually Carol gets fed up and decides to return home, but it’s too late. While out looking for her, Mum ran out into the road without looking, got run over, and is now seriously injured.

Dad takes this very badly and blames Carol for it. He says he will never forgive her, especially when it looks like Mum could become wheelchair-bound. Their relationship becomes extremely embittered. Dad lashes out at Carol at every turn. He never wastes an opportunity to say he blames her and will never forgive her, tells everyone in town it’s all her fault, and won’t even let Carol visit her mother in hospital.

Carol blames herself too and has a terrible guilt trip. Also, the shock has sobered her up and she resolves become more responsible and sensible. She does whatever she can think of to help her father (doing housework, cooking, helping to get his new business going etc) in order to try to mend her relationship with him. But none of it makes any impression on him and he remains entrenched in his acrimony towards her. It does not help that sometimes things go wrong, such as Carol’s old crowd turning up at the worst time and getting Dad angry as he always disapproved of them.

Aunt Sally does not blame Carol for the accident and tries to help the situation. She tells Carol that when Dad was her age he ran away from home twice and was soon returned home, no harm done, which helps Carol to feel less guilty. However, reminding Dad of those incidents does not improve his attitude towards Carol.

What Mum thinks of where the blame lies for her accident is not known. Dad won’t let Carol see her, and when Carol finally gets the chance she is too ashamed to go.

Eventually Carol gets fed up with her embittered father and her efforts to reconcile going nowhere with him, and she turns to an act of rebellion. She and two friends go into town and cause trouble in a boutique. However, when the matter is reported to the headmistress they have to confess and take the punishment, which makes Dad even angrier. This time Carol lashes back at him, telling him how she’s tried so hard to prove to him that she’s improved, but all he does is hate her. She then locks herself in her room and him out, unable to take any more.

This has Dad wake up to how harsh he’s been and he goes to Mum for advice on how to put things right. As luck would have it, Carol’s birthday is imminent. So at Mum’s suggestion they throw a surprise party for her to patch things up, with Mum returning home for it. Dad tells Carol that from now on they will work things out together.

Thoughts

This is definitely one of the best emotional stories Bunty has ever published, but sadly not well remembered. It has intense moral lessons about the need for compassion and empathy rather than condemnation, and not let bitterness and hatred run away with you when someone makes a mistake that they already regret themselves, especially when it is a member of your own family. For if you do, you will only make that situation even worse, for both yourself and them and everyone else around you, when what’s really needed is working through the situation and trying to heal. There are so many situations in real life (as I have read in magazines) that parallel with Carol’s. A loved one just won’t respond to you, talk to you or show they still love you after some incident makes them fall out with you, no matter what you try to make things better or how much time passes. If only they would, as Mr Hastings did in the end, things would be so much better all around.

The story also turns several conventions in girls’ comics on their heads, which makes it an even more interesting and unconventional story that’s a bit different and refreshing. The first is the redemption theme. Carol starts off as a difficult, thoughtless girl who is asking for something serious to happen to make her a more thoughtful, mature girl. Usually this happens towards the middle or end of the story, but here it is right at the beginning, when the shock of Mum’s accident has Carol realise that she needs to be more responsible and sensible. She really tries, but it just goes nowhere with her embittered father. She gets frustrated and gives it up as hopeless. But instead of resorting to desperate measures as some protagonists have done, she vents her frustration with a stupid act and shouting back at her estranged father, which is a brilliant touch of realism. Ironically, this becomes the turning point in resolving the story.

The second is the protagonist running away from home. When a story uses this device, it usually comes at the climax of the story, when the protagonist has been pushed too far. But here it comes at the beginning of the story, and it drives the plot for the rest of the story instead of being the turning point in resolving it.

The third is the guilt trip theme and someone blaming the protagonist for some unfortunate incident. Often this is resolved with the person either finding out they were mistaken in blaming the protagonist or the protagonist redeems herself in some way, but neither of these things happen in this case.

Lastly, there is the resolution of the story. For once it does not come with the protagonist being pushed too far, running off, and have the people who drove her off realise what they have done. Nor does it occur with the protagonist getting knocked down by a car. Instead, it is resolved with a reconciliatory act on behalf of the father, once Carol’s anger has him realise what his bitterness has done.

Is Carol really to blame for her mother’s accident? It’s probably a matter of how you look at it. Carol did not do it directly or intentionally of course, and there was no way she would have known that running away would lead to it. Besides, as Aunt Sally says, running away or even contemplating it is something kids do frequently, and Dad is guilty of it himself. Directly, it was because Mum was not looking when she crossed the road, but that was because she was distraught, and Carol did trigger in motion the events that led to it. Dad blames Carol, Carol blames herself, Aunt Sally does not blame Carol at all, and what Mum thinks is not recorded, but when she reappears in the story it looks like she holds no grudges. Is it really Carol’s fault through what lawyers call causation, or was it just one of those things and extremely rotten luck?

One thing is certain: it does more harm than good to harbour hatred over the incident, and forgiveness and serious counselling are far better for everyone concerned.

John Armstrong

Anyone who has read girls comics will be familiar with John Armstrong’s work. From his long run drawing for Bella at the Bar, strips in cult favorite comic Misty and a run of covers for Bunty in the 1990s, along  with many other strips, he was a prominent contributor to girls comics. Sadly John passed away on 28 August this year. Down the tubes have printed a nice memoriam piece for John which you can read here. Clearly he will be missed, and while John was deserving of more recognition for his work, it is nice to know that he was able to see some of his work reprinted (with credits), with the Rebellion treasury line.  First was the Misty reprint of Moonchild and more recently Tammy’s Bella at the Bar.

                       

Until I started this blog, I wasn’t familiar with creator’s names (due to credits regrettably  not being given) and there are still many unknown, but lucky some have been tracked down. Of course some artists were able to sneak in a signature in the background, so these days it can be like a “Where’s Wally?” looking for Armstrong’s distinct J.A. signature. When I first started reading comics, while I wouldn’t have known his name, Armstrong’s art was instantly recognisable. When I was younger, probably his work for Bunty covers is where I first noticed him, I was fan of The Comp and really liked his depictions of some of my favourite characters. I’ve found more of his work since and it is always top quality. He is maybe best known for his gymnastic stories due to his work on Bella and I recently covered a late Bunty story he did Secret Gymnast.   But he had quite a range, whether it was horse stories, family drama, romance, mystery or historical . His protagonists were often of a working class background and his talent at depicting emotions always came across in the strip. A story from a Bunty annual that stuck with me, is a blind girl that is told by her parents that she is their princess, when she get’s her sight back and sees (in her eyes) that she is not as pretty as a princess she is devastated. Then there was his work on Misty, when I did a list of some of my favourite short stories of that comic, it’s no surprise majority are drawn by him (see that blog post here). There are many other stories that I can see clear in my mind because of his artwork, it would be impossible to pick one favourite, and I can still enjoy reading his old stories (I also look forward to discovering the old stories I haven’t read yet).

 

 

Carrie’s Cab

Plot

Carrie Cole lived in London in Victorian times. When her father died, she was left to look after her brother Joe and sisters Beth and Violet. To keep her family out of the workhouse, Carrie,  decided to make a living driving her father’s horse and cab, to the annoyance of some of the other drivers. Life was a struggle, but Carrie was determined to make a go of things.

Notes

Appeared

  • Carrie’s Cab – Bunty: circa #1536 (20 June 1987) – (?)

An American at the Manor

Plot

When orphan Dixie Marston inherited a manor in England in Victorian times, she found life very different from the ranch in America where she had been brought up. Dixie’s Uncle Cecil, Aunt Rachel and cousin Lydia deeply resented her coming to take up her inheritance, which they believed should have been theirs. They were determined to get rid of Dixie as soon as possible.

Notes

Appeared

  • An American at the Manor – Bunty: circa #1536 (20 June 1987) – (?)