Tag Archives: Ana Rodriguez

Vicki in the Village of Cats (1980)

Plot

When Vicki Bright goes to spend her summer holiday with her gran in Maythorpe, she finds the village seems to be in the power of cats, led by one called Black Jack. They walk all over everyone, take anything they want, and even have powers to influence people. As Vicki investigates, she finds it has something to do with Black Jack’s owner, Miss Feliss, and there are hints of a connection to a pharaoh’s curse as well.

Vicki

Notes

  • Artist: Ana Rodriguez

Appeared:

  • Vicki in the Village of Cats – Tracy: #47 (23 August 1980) – ?

Unfair to Favourites (1985)

Judy Picture Library 271

Published: Judy Picture Library #271.  Reprinted: Bunty Picture Library #428

Artists: Norman Lee (cover); Ana Rodriguez (story)

Plot

Jayne and Jean Gentry seem to have everything going for them in the activities they pursue: ballet (Jean), and athletics (Jayne). They are set to go to the top in their various activities and the school even makes allowances for it. But there is one problem – it has bred favouritism among their parents. Dad favours Jayne because she pursues sport, Mum favours Jean because she does the same with ballet, and neither parent pays much attention to the other girl. The root of the favouritism is that each parent only cares about one activity, which they once pursued themselves and are pursuing again through their respective daughter. Neither is willing to be more generous to the other activity; Mum does not care for athletics (“athletics don’t do anything for me”) and Dad is the same about ballet (“ballet nonsense”). Both say they don’t understand the other activity but neither makes an effort to understand it more.

Favourites

Each parent thinks that the other is too single-minded about the activity they do care about while deriding the other activity unfairly. Neither parent comes to the other activity to lend support to their other daughter. For example, Mum is annoyed that Dad doesn’t come to see Jayne perform on stage because he cares more about an athletics convention. Dad is likewise annoyed at Mum for not coming to watch and support Jean perform at an athletics event because she took Jayne to watch the Royal Ballet Company. This is not the case with the sisters themselves, who make the time to watch the other and give moral support.

Favourites 2

Jayne and Jean decide enough is enough and they need to find a way to change their parents. They start with trying to win something in the other activity, with the other’s help. But they forget that there is a reason that one pursues ballet/athletics and the other not – one has the aptitude for it, and the other not. And they soon find that out the hard way. When Jean tries cross-country running with Jayne’s help, she ends up in such a state that she is not fit for ballet class. When Jayne tries ballet with Jean’s help, she ends up with a foot injury that leaves her unfit for a sports event. In both cases the parents blow up, each blaming the other girl and the other parent unfairly. Each parent ends up quarrelling with the other about how they go over the top with the activity they favour, play favourites with their pet daughter, and don’t pay any attention to the other daughter. When Jayne, Jean and their dog Timmy return home wet after unwittingly using a leaky boat, Mum unfairly blames Jayne, thinking she encouraged Jean again, and this leads to a similar row between the parents. Mum and Dad can see it in each other all right – but they can’t see it in themselves, which is what they must do if things are to change.

Jean and Jayne then try to talk to their parents about how they carry on in playing favourites. But both take offence, saying they can’t help not liking ballet/athletics. The girls realise how set the parents are in their ways and it is going to be very difficult to change them.

The stress of the failure takes its toll on the girls, and they lose form at ballet/athletics. Their teachers recommend a break, so the parents stop making their daughters spend so much time at their various activities.

During the break, Jean and Jayne try something else. Jayne has a go at Jean’s other activity, which is skating. But the coach says that although Jayne is good, she is not good enough to make competition standard like her sister. When Jean tries Jayne’s other activity by making a bid for the school swimming trials, she fails because of the same thing – good but not good enough.

Then, after the swimming trials, Jayne grumbles at how fed up they are, and still wondering how to change their parents. A schoolteacher, Miss Maybrick, overhears and asks what is wrong. The girls explain the problem, and Miss Maybrick comes up with an idea – an activity that combines athletic and artistic ability.

Favourites 3

So for the next few weeks, the parents are disappointed to hear that the girls are on strike over ballet/athletics because of a school project that they are very secretive about. When the time comes, the school invites the parents to a gymnastics competition, which Jayne and Jean have been giving up everything else to train for. And it is here that both parents watch their daughters together; Dad sees Jean in action for the first time and Mum watches Jayne for the first time. When Mum watches Jayne’s floor exercises, she sees and appreciates the artistic side while Dad grasps the athletic part. When Jean goes on the bars, Dad is impressed at what she can do there, and Mum says it’s due to ballet, which has given her grace and strong muscles. Before long, both parents are cheering their daughters on. They are thrilled to see them win medals, and finally wake up to their earlier mistakes. Afterwards, they take Jayne and Jean out to a celebratory dinner. The girls know that they are both favourites with their parents now.

Favourites 4

Thoughts

 The premise is a refreshing one – two sisters who are the best of friends but suffer because each parent takes favourites over one child while ignoring the other, just because they are not a fan of the activity the other child pursues. It makes a change having two protagonists suffer in this way. Usually it is just one, who is overshadowed and put down because her sibling(s) excel at their various activities and make Mum and Dad proud while she doesn’t seem to shine at anything.

The portrayal of the parents is rooted in realism and real life, which makes their characterisation so effective. They are not intentionally neglectful or mean; it is just that they are both so single-minded about the activity they are interested in and the girl who pursues it to the exclusion of everything else in life. They are also narrow-minded about the other activity. Both parents make disparaging comments about the other activity, neither will give it more of a chance, or at least try to tolerate it enough to come and watch their daughter. They are too wrapped up in the activity they are interested in.

Favourites 5

The resolution is realistic and also refreshing. The girls confide in someone (which does not often happen in girls’ comics) who comes up with an idea that could be the answer. The girls can’t believe they didn’t think of it themselves.

The teacher and the headmistress are so wonderful in the way they bend over backwards to help the girls with their problem: excusing the girls lessons to train for it, and helping to keep it a carefully guarded secret until the parents are actually watching the event as they don’t know how the parents will take it if they had prior knowledge of it. The girls come away with a whole new appreciation for teachers, as do we. Sometimes teachers are not the idiots or meanies that they are in other stories. Sometimes they are the ones with the brains and wisdom to put everything right.

 

 

Debbie Must Dance Again!

Plot:

Orphan Debbie Tate and  her young brother, Peter, were being looked after by their greedy Aunt Betty and Uncle Joe. Hoping to claim compensation money for Debbie’s car accident injuries, they forced her to pretend she was a helpless cripple. However, Debbie had once taken ballet lessons and was able to resume her dancing in secret. After a Ballet Festival, in which Debbie had danced using the name Karen Foster, a ballet teacher called Felicity Dale showed an interest in her. Debbie was going to meet Felicity when she discovered that Peter had run away. During her anxious search for him, she realised that Felicity’s train had left.

debbie must dance

Notes:

  • Writer: Maureen Hartley
  • Art: Ana Rodriguez

Appeared:

  • Debbie Must Dance Again! –  Judy:  #1178 (07 Aug. 1982) – #1193 (20 Nov. 1982)

The Forbidden Friend

Plot:

Tracy Baker lives at the Grotto, where her widowed mother is housekeeper. Mrs Baker’s employers, the Howes, keep their invalid niece Sara a prisoner, but she and Tracy secretly become friends. Then Tracy and her mother overhear the Howes plotting to murder Sara.

Friend

Notes:

  • Artist: Ana Rodriguez

Appeared:

  • The Forbidden Friend –  Debbie: #324 (28 April 1979) –  #335 (14 July 1979)

Lisa – the Lonely Ballerina / Lonely Lisa

Plot

Lisa Blake  wanted to be a ballerina but had several obstacles to overcome. Her mother was dead and her father was an escaped convict and she was  wrongfully accused of stealing. Later she was abandoned by her aunt.  Luckily she was adopted by a group of orphans who were helping her to become a ballerina.

lisa lonely ballerina

In the Sequel Lonely Lisa – Lisa Blake has lost her memory and thinks she is Jean Bell, who lives and works with Mr and Mrs Thorpe, who are a pair of crooks. Lisa meets Mrs Powell, who teaches her to dance.

Ballet
(Lonely Lisa – Art: Ana Rodriguez)

Notes

  • Artist: Rodney Sutton (Lisa-the Lonely Ballerina)
  • Artist: Ana Rodriguez (Lonely Lisa)
  • Before the Spellbound comic merged with Debbie, the first part of “Lonely Lisa”   was published in both the last issue of Spellbound and  Debbie issue #257.

Appeared

  • Lisa – the Lonely Ballerina –  Debbie:  #13 (12 May 1973) – #120 (31 May 1975)
  • Reprinted – Debbie: #396 (13 September 1980) – #507 (30 October 1982)
  • Lonely Lisa – Debbie: #257 (14 Jan 1978)  also printed in Spellbound: #69 (14 Jan 1978), Debbie: #258 (22 Jan 1978) – #268 (01 Apr 1978)

Judy 1993

This was the last Judy annual published. By this time the Judy comic had merged with Mandy to become M&J. The Mandy annuals continued until 2007 and I think the character of Judy did appear in some of the later Mandy annuals, but this was the last of  a solo Judy title.

While Bunty and Mandy annuals declined in quality in their last years I think this Judy annual finished up on a good note. There are 21 picture stories, 3 prose stories and 6 features. There are favourite characters like Bobby Dazzler and Wee Slavey along with complete new stories. (For just a list of contents click here)

 

Picture Stories

Home for Christmas   (Pages: 4-11)

The first story as you can guess from the title is Christmas themed. When I was younger I quite liked having some Christmas themed stories in these annuals.  As traditionally I used to get these annuals as a Christmas present, having these type of stories was nice to keep in the festive mood. Some annuals seemed to avoid being tied to Christmas, if you look at the Judy 1984 annual, none of the stories are set at Christmas and even the cover looks more Summer like than Winter like.

So this story is a nice family Christmas story. Wendy is the youngest sibling in the family, her older brother Kevin and her sister Gilly have both moved out into the working world. Wendy and her parents are looking forward to having the family all back together for Christmas, so they are disappointed when they get a letter from Kevin saying he won’t make it home as he is shipping off to Canada.

The mum reminices about how she always knew the three of them would make something of themselves, they used to make their own way home from school letting themselves in with the key hidden under the garden gnome. Obviously this memory is significant to the story later on, with short stories like this subtlety wasn’t always an option.  There is more bad news, when Gilly phones to say she has to do a photo shoot and won’t make it for Christmas either.

 

Wendy tries to make the best of things by decorating the house, but when she goes to get the decorations out of the attic she is knocked of the ladder and ends up in hospital.  She is told she will have to stay in hospital over Christmas.  The Dad decides he’ll take the Mum out for dinner Christmas Eve to cheer her up. Wendy is delighted when she is released from hospital early. She gets a lift home forgetting her parents won’t be there. Luckily the hidden key is still under the gnome and she enters only to find that Kevin has made it home for Christmas after all.

The parents are on their way home when they hear on the radio that Gilly has been in a car accident and wandered off. They are delighted to find Wendy and Kevin at home but are worried about Gilly. She manges to find her way home as well. Turns out her shoot was cancelled. The father wonders how they all got in with the key because they usually bolt the door from the inside these days. Turns out the mother unbolted the door just in the hope that the children would come home.

I really like the art and the inking. The colouring is quite muted when things look bad and then changes to nice and bright without being too overwhelming when things turn out well. Its just a nice family christmas story to read.

Junior Nanny (Pages: 14-16)

Junior Nanny never seemed like the most interesting concept, a young nanny solving the problems of children no older than 5, but somehow I always liked the strip. The kids were genuinely cute and often sympathetic and Chris Johnson was kind but also practical and resourceful.

Here she tries to help new arrival Jonathan who is shy and cries during snowball fights. When another kid Alan tease him for this Chris explains that he gets upset easily because his parents are in hospital. Alan being a good kid at heart takes it on himself to look after Jonathan. But this means he ends up missing out on stuff he likes to do because Jonathan doesn’t like it.  To solve this Chris enlists Jonathan to make a special present for Alan.  Its a fort for his toy soldiers. After helping make this Jonathan is keen for everyone to play together with Alan’s new fort.

Pepper the Pony  (Pages: 17/111)

Pepper the pony is a humour strip that ran in Judy. The first strip in this annual, involves Lucinda calling Pepper lazy, so he decides to run off. Remembering the tale of Dick Whittington and his cat making a fortune in London, he goes to look for puss. After spending all night looking for him he ends up needing a rest. Lucinda berates him in the morning again for being lazy while Puss is already up and washing himself.

The second strip has Pepper being scared by stories of witches and ghosts. He gets particularly scared when he sees the shadow of a witch in the stables. It turns out to be Lucinda dressed up for a costume party.

Wedding Belle   (Pages: 18-22)

Artist: Ana Rodriguez

Belle is a girl who hires out her services as a flower girl/bridesmaid at weddings. It is quite a successful endeavour, although I could never understand why people would want a stranger as part of their wedding!  I can imagine looking at the photos would be like; there’s the bride, groom, best man and some girl we hired!

Belle’s neighbour Liza isn’t having a lot of luck in the romance department. Belle observes this is because Liza is a bit over eager and ends up scaring guys off. Belle meanwhile is bridesmaid at a wedding of someone she knows. Valerie runs a dating agency, but her and her husband are moving away after the wedding so the agency will have to close down as she couldn’t find anyone to take it over. Belle thinks Liza would be perfect for the job. Apparently she is very good because just a few weeks into the job already one couple she introduced are engaged.

People seem to move fast in this town! The job also helps Liza out because she has been so busy she hasn’t had time to chase guys around. Dan from the downstairs office, finds this busy Liza, that hasn’t time to talk to him attractive, so he asks her out..in a somewhat abrupt manner.

But Liza seems charmed enough so happy ending for her.

The Honourable S.J.   (Pages: 26-32)

Artist: Paddy Brennan

Nasty blackmailer Sarah Jane is up to her usual tricks. When Ann tries to stop her stealing from caravans they are both sent to  an under-privileged children’s home for a bit of community service. Soon S.J. has all the children and staff charmed. Ann keeps her eye on S.J. and discovers her plot to steal a silver rose bowl heirloom. She manages to stop her and also records the encounter.  At a disco for the children Ann plays the recording, exposing S.J. Ann volunteers to stay on for the rest of the Summer even though her name is cleared and S.J. gets sent away.

“You’re Just Jealous!”   (Pages: 33-38)

Artist: Edmond Ripol

This is a story of friendship versus boyfriend.  When Lucy falls sick her best friend Amy is pretty bored until she meets Chris.  So when Lucy gets better, she isn’t too happy to find out that Amy has a boyfriend now. She is especially upset to find out Amy and Chris went to a film that they were planning to see together.

She is feeling pretty blue about it… I don’t know where that colouring in that panel came out of but I still think the art looks good throughout the story. So Lucy see Chris hanging around with another girl and tells Amy straight away. Amy presumes she is just being jealous, so they fall out. Amy does try to make things up but Lucy won’t hear of it.  Lucy later gets to prove her point when she sees the girl Chris was hanging around with.  Only to discover that the girl, Laura, is his sister. Amy realises Lucy made a genuine mistake and they end up going on a double date with one of Chris’s friends.

I like the friendship angle of this story, Lucy feeling threatened by her friend’s new boyfriend is a reasonable reaction and she does try to be happy for her at first too. I also like that Amy doesn’t hold a grudge against Lucy, she puts their friendship as a high priority even with new relationship. It seems like a pretty solid message.

The Boys From Beyond   (Pages 39-46)

Artist: Guy Peeters

This is a Skeleton Corner story, a regular feature in Judy.  They  were basically  spooky stories introduced by a skeleton. Here two sisters, Tanya and Fay, are getting ready to attend a Halloween party at their father’s hotel. Before the party, Tanya is disappointed when her favourite metal band Darkest Night, skip their appearance on a TV show. They attend the party but it is a further disappointment, as it all old people attending. They then meet a boy, Luke,  their own age who is dressed up in old fashioned clothes. They go for a walk together and come across a farmhouse, that is suposed to be empty, has lights on. Tanya is delighted to find inside is Darkest Night rehearsing. Luke apparently is not a metal fan and runs away from the noise. Fay follows him and Tanya is left to talk with the band.

They explain that they picked this place to play becuase their next album Boy from Beyond is about a young  ghost from the area.  Tanya figures Luke is a ghost and that now he’s alone with her sister. The lead singer reassures her that even if Luke is a ghost he won’t hurt her ghosts just appear and vanish again. Tanya finds Luke and Fay and discovers he is pale and sensitive to noise because he recently had an accident but he is not a ghost. She re-enters the farmhouse only to find the band doing a montage of their cover art.

I really liked this story. I am a fan of skeleton corner and spooky, twist stories in general. I also really liked that Tanya’s favourite band was a heavy metal band. It was really refreshing to see a girl not into the usual boybands, or pop charts stuff for a change.  It was closer to my taste in music, so I found her a more relatable character.

Bobby Dazzler   (Pages: 50-58)

Bobby Dazzler, the only girl at a boys boarding school, has trouble getting on the football team. The boys think they will be laughed at if they have a girl in the team for their next match.  She appeals to the coach who decides letting her be their sub will please her, but he has no plans of playing her. On the day of the match the other team’s star player, Barry, is just a sub for a day, so Bobby ends up flirting with him. Mike and Don are a bit distracted by Barry chatting up Bobby. When it comes to half time they blame each other for how badly the match is going. Don pushes Mike injuring him so the coach benches Don and has to replace Mike in goal with Bobby.

Bobby is less impressed with Barry when he comes onto play and takes advantage of their earlier talk aiming for her weak spot. Luckily Bobby manages to save it. Then Mike feeling better comes back to play goalie, and Bobby goes back on the field. She manages to score the equaliser and win man of the match. I liked that Bobby can show her feminine side by flirting but still be as good as the boys in whatever situation she is in.

Charity’s Room

Plot

After a disastrous fire which left her lame, Lindy Martin moved with her parents to the Suffolk village of Whitmarsh where she found that their cottage was once the home of a girl called Charity who was burnt as a witch. With her new friend, Kay, Lindy was searching for a book of herbal cures that Charity had hidden. Lindy suspected the sinister Professor Starkridge of being a descendant of the witchfinder who burnt Charity and that he, too, was looking for the book.

Notes

  • Artist: Ana Rodriguez

Appeared

  •   Charity’s Room – Judy: (?) – #1301 (15 December 1984)

Melanie and the Moonstone

Plot

During a school expedition, Melanie Benson’s teacher, Mrs Fincher, had removed a strange stone from an underground cave. Only Melanie knew this stone was the key to eternal youth for Razzan, a moon goddess. To ensure its return, Razzan had imprisoned the other girls who had been on the trip.

melanie-and-the-moonstone

Notes

  • Artist: Ana Rodriguez

Appeared

  • Melanie and the Moonstone – Nikki: #217 (15 April 1989) – #222 (20 May 1989)

The Truth About Terri

Plot

Terri Northam was the most popular and successful girl at Elmway School. But unknown to everyone except Sarah Carter, Terri only achieved her successes by playing nasty tricks on her opponents. To make sure that Sarah never made any friends, Terri usually arranged her tricks so that Sarah got the blame.

truth-about-terri

Notes

  • Artist: Ana Rodriguez

Appeared

  • The Truth About Terri – Nikki: #81 (6 September 1986) – #91 (15 November 1986)