Tag Archives: Claude Berridge

The Double Life of Dana / The Secret Life of Dana

  • The Double Life of Dana– Mandy: #306 (25 Nov. 1972) – #317 (10 Feb. 1972)
  • Reprinted as The Secret Life of Dana – Emma: #49 (27 Jan. 1979) – #60 (14 Apr. 1979)
  • Artist: Claude Berridge

Plot

Dana Fenton, an orphan, has always dreamed of becoming a ballerina. Even now that she has left the orphanage she grew up in and has gotten a decent job and comfortable lodgings, it is not enough to satisfy her. So when she sees that there are auditions for a scholarship with a Ballet Company and a maid’s job in a prestigious ballet school, she takes the leap to follow her dream. She quits her job and applies for the in-house maid job, in the hopes that while she could never afford to go to school there, she may be able to learn by watching. Madame Rochelle proves to be a tough employer, meaning Dana will certainly be working hard to earn her place. At the same time she has to try and find time to go to Belmont Company audition. She arrives at the audition, but seeing Madame there with two pupils, she is afraid she will lose her job, so she dons a wig and makeup and gives the fake name ‘Ann Smith’ in order to keep her secret. The judges see potential in her and she gets in to the next round along with the two pupils from the ballet school, Janice and Ella.

secret life dana1Dana’s double life makes things difficult at time, such as Madame telling Dana to wait by the phone so she can tell everyone the results of the next audition. Of course as Dana is also meant to attend the audition she has to figure out how to do both things! She manages to attend the audition then rushes to pay phone outside and calls Madam pretending to have misunderstood the instructions. She then has to rush back to the school, and actually lets air out of Madame’s tyres so she will beat them back.

Also making life difficult for Dana, are her two rivals, Janice and Ella, who are snobbish and like to make more work for Dana. When Madame entrusts Dana to take the girls to next audition (which is a stroke of luck for Dana as she wondered how she was going to get to someplace so far away), the girls don’t listen to Dana and call her skivvy expecting her to be their personal maid. Luckily Miss Norris and old friend of Madame’s has also been sent to check on the girls and she helps Dana keep them in line. They still continue to cause more trouble,  back at the school making muddy prints over the floor Dana just cleans, they turn even more against Dana when Madame sticks up for her and make them re-clean the floor! Then later at an audition, they leave room a mess and carelessly leave clothes near an electric fire. Dana  in her ‘Ann Smith’ disguise finds the dressing room on fire and helps put it out, before having to run off before her identity is discovered. Janice and Ella blame Dana for the fire and their clothes getting destroyed. They decide to return the favour by destroying her clothes. So her ballet costume isn’t discovered, she has to chase them out of her room, which causes more trouble with Madame. While Madame doesn’t blame her for fire, she does think she should have been attending her duties more carefully, she also is suspicious of the girls being in Dana’s room but does tell Dana any more trouble and she’ll be dismissed.

secret life dana2

Due to the fire, the audition has been rescheduled and Madame offers the school as a new venue. Dana has to be extra careful not to be discovered and uses a traditional mask to hide her face completely. More questions are being asked about, who this mysterious Ann Smith is! While Madame doesn’t suspect Dana, Janice and Ella are beginning to wonder if she and Ann are the same person. Ella even opens a trapdoor at an audition in the hopes of not letting Ann slip away, she doesn’t seem concerned that she could have caused her some serious injury, if not for Dana/Ann’s quick reflexes allowing her to leap out of the way in time. Her secret is discovered by an unlikely person Myra Dean, a famous dancer, who is now blind. When she visits the school, Dana helps her twice, one time as ‘Ann’ and Miss Dean recognises her work-rough hands. Although she hints to Madame, that Ann and Dana maybe the same person, Madame dismisses the thought and Myra doesn’t try to persuade her, instead she becomes Dana’s ally.

secret life dana3

A  mistake signing a girl’s autograph book, leads Janice and Ella to also discover Dana’s secret.  At the last audition, using Dana’s friendship with Miss Dean against her, the girls send Dana to the wrong place. She only just makes it to the right place at the end, with no chance to change into Ann Smith. Myra Dean confirms her identity and Dana is allowed to dance, even though she doesn’t have time to even change into ballet clothes. Dana wins the scholarship and Madame Rochelle is shocked to find her own maid is Ann Smith. Seeing her dance she knows Dana deserves to win and she will also being having words with Janice and Ella about their involvement in the audition mix-up. Dana is delighted she can now pursue her dream and no longer lead a double life.

Thoughts

Dana while she certainly hasn’t the easiest time, it’s not as hard as other characters in similar positions, leading double life (such as “Ballerina on a String”). She is actually a very upbeat person and she is in charge of her own choices, as she is not forced to do the things she does. She left comfortable lodgings and a shop job, to work at the school, because she wants to follow her dream.

Madame Rochelle has a reputation as a slave-driver and none of  her other maids stayed very long. She certainly works Dana hard but she is not cruel and does treat her fairly. She even puts her trust in Dana to chaperone the other girls. When she knows of the tricks the girls play, she assesses situation and doesn’t automatically favour her students over her employee, as seen when she makes Janice and Ella clean the muddy prints and not taking their side when she finds Dana yelling at them as they were in Dana’s room.

secret life dana4

While she does treat her with some respect, at the same time she does not see Dana’s potential, viewing her only as maid. This bias blinds her to the clues in front of her, such as finding Ann Smith looks familiar, nearly catching a girl practicing late at night to audition music (and it not being Janice or Ella), she doesn’t even question that the mysterious Ann Smith gets a letter to the school and ignores the hint her old friend Myra Dean gives.

secret life of dana

So while the work is hard the main difficulties Dana has, is keeping her identity hidden while getting to auditions and the bigger problem of the spiteful girls. Of the two girls, Ella is more dangerous than Janice, she is the leader of the two and the most suspicious. She also opens the trapdoor on Dana and while she passes it off as an accident, she should really have more repercussions. She is not happy to be shown up by Ann Smith, and even less happy when she finds out that Ann is actually the ‘skivvy’ Dana. Even without Dana in the competition, Ella’s thoughts are shown to be quite big-headed, she expects to win over her supposed friend Janice too.

While Dana has joined the school to learn of ballet, we don’t really see much time focused on seeing how she benefits from this and how she improves. Instead most episodes are dedicated to her trying to attend an audition and keep her secret. Although as she keeps getting through to the next stage her “unpolished potential” must be getting better. The competition for the scholarship isn’t very clear, there’s seems to be a lot of auditions happening but it’s not clear how many stages there are and how many people auditioning. In the first stage the 3 girls get through, but as we never really get to see other competitors this leads to the impression that there are only three in the running all the time! In the last audition there appears to be five competing but again wonder how many auditioned initially in the first stage and how wide an area did the competitors come from? Still other than the questions of how the competition is ran, the story keeps a nice pace and the main characters are each distinctive both in personality and design. The art throughout is very nice and expressive. Berridge seems to be quite a varied artist, doing many different type of stories, I’m not aware of any other ballet story that he’s done, but he does a good job here.

secret life dana5

 

The Girl in the Mask / The Mask

Plot

After Dorinda Lacey’s parents die, she is taken in by her wealthy Aunt Clara. Aunt Clara tells Dorinda she is frightfully ugly. So Dorinda has to wear a mask at all times and every mirror in the house save the one in Aunt Clara’s room is removed.

Mask.jpg

Notes

  • Artist: Claude Berridge

Appeared

  • The Girl in the Mask:  Mandy: #875 (10 October 1983) – #890 (4 February 1984)
  • Reprinted as The Mask – M&J: #58 (20 June 1992) – #73 (3 October 1992)

 

Scream! (1997)

Scream cover

Mandy Picture Library #272

Published: 1997

Cover: Peter Wilkes?

Writer: Anne Bulcraig

“Scream!” takes a complete break from the usual pattern of girls’ picture libraries. Instead of being one complete story it is a collection of five shorter-length stories, and they are all spooky, creepy stories. Unsavoury girls get their comeuppances while other girls get caught in scary experiences that they may or may not emerge from unscathed. All stories are labelled as a “Scream!”. This take harkens back to the days of horror comics Misty and Spellbound two decades before. It was a trend that was seldom seen after both comics folded and is fondly remembered.

Scream 1: Framed! – artist Norman Lee

Katie Knight feels lonely after her best friend Joanna Bland emigrates, but soon becomes friends with new girl Lisa Jones. Lisa says she and her mother look after animals of all descriptions and invites Katie and her dog Soda around for the weekend.

When Katie arrives, she is surprised to find the walls of the house are lined with paintings of animals done by Mrs Jones, but no real animals are present. Meanwhile, Soda is acting strangely, and when the girls take a walk in the wood, he gets really terrified. Katie thinks the wood is weird too, and eventually realises it has no birds or animals. Later, Katie is baffled to find that a cat she saw in one of the paintings has changed position from when she last saw it.

Then Katie wakes up one night and discovers that Soda has somehow been turned into one of Mrs Jones’ paintings. Katie explains that they have had to turn to pets for their paintings because all the wildlife realised what was going on and fled. What happens next with Katie and the Joneses is not recorded. Some weeks later, a new girl brings a guinea pig with her to a weekend stay with the Joneses….

 Scream 1

Scream 2: Green Fingers – artist Carlos Freixas

Sarah Peters is a very selfish girl who grabs whatever she wants and never helps anyone, not even when it is an emergency. In class Sarah suddenly gets interested in a green issue project when she hears the prize money will pay for the top she has her eye on. On the way home she sees a plant in a window box that has leaves shaped like hearts and cute animals. It is so unusual it is guaranteed to win. She asks the owner if she can have a cutting. The owner says she needs to test Sarah to see if she is a suitable candidate. It turns out to be a test for kindness, and of course the selfish Sarah fails dismally. The owner refuses to give her the cutting, saying the plant has powers to reflect the nature of its owner. Only nice people are safe tending it and it would be dangerous for someone like Sarah. But Sarah is not having that; she sneaks out in the night and helps herself to a cutting.

After one night with Sarah the leaves start changing shape. They are going from hearts and cute animals to ghoulish faces and creepy animals. Sarah is bewildered and revolted at the new shapes, but does not get rid of the plant or reconsider what the lady said. The lady warns Sarah to return the cutting before it is too late, for even she does not fully understand the plant’s powers. Sarah does not listen and denies ever taking the cutting.

When Sarah returns home from school, her mother asks her to go and pick up an urgent prescription for a neighbour who is not well. But Sarah cares far more for watching her favourite television programme and goes into the house to watch. Then, as Sarah approaches her bedroom, she is astonished to find her cutting is now growing so much that it is coming out through the door. She goes into her room, where the plant starts crawling all over her. She screams for help – but the plant has learned its behaviour from the girl who never helps anyone.

Scream 2

Scream 3: House Warning – artist unknown

Julie Wood and her family move into a large house in the country. Julie is bewildered when everyone at her new school avoids her for no apparent reason, and her mother gets the same treatment at the supermarket. A neighbour asks Julie if she is having problems with the house yet, and then things do start going strangely wrong for the family in the house. Eventually, a boy at school tells Julie the reason people avoid her is the house. It seems to be alive and won’t let anyone live in it ever since its owner died the previous year. Julie questions the neighbour again. The neighbour says the house is grieving for its late owner, “Old Kate” Murray. Old Kate loved the house and now it will not accept anyone else.

In the night, a strange lady wakes Julie up, which alerts Julie to a fire. Julie manages to extinguish the fire before it catches proper hold. Then Julie realises the woman was Old Kate and it had been her ghost that was driving people out. But this time Old Kate needed help to save her house from burning down, and got it from Julie. From then on, the Woods have no more trouble with the house.

Scream 3

Scream 4: Skin Deep – artist Maria Dembilio

Nadine Andrews and her family are on holiday at a holiday camp. Nadine is a vain girl who infuriates everyone with her conceit, including her sister Emily. Nadine wants to enter the “Miss Happy Holidays” beauty contest. At the fair Nadine meets a fortune teller, and is surprised that the fortune teller somehow knows she wants to enter the contest. The fortune teller sells Nadine a beauty cream that will guarantee she wins. The effects on Nadine’s face seem like magic and she does win.

But the effect wears off next day. Nadine feels cheated and goes back to the fortune teller to get her money back. Nadine is extremely unreasonable when the fortune teller says she never said the effects were lasting, and becomes rude and insulting to her. Deciding Nadine needs a lesson, the fortune teller gives her an even stronger and longer-lasting cream that is guaranteed to make her really stand out. She says the price will be very high – but it isn’t money, which she refuses to accept. When Nadine puts on the cream, she is shocked to find her face has gone all distorted! The effects wear off eventually and Nadine stops being so vain.

Scream 4

Scream 5: Time Slip – artist Claude Berridge

During half-term break, Trudi Clark accompanies her father on an archaeological excavation at a site where a medieval village is said to be. The dig yields an old box that looks at least three hundred years old and Dad asks Trudi to hold it. But when she does, the whole environment changes to a medieval appearance, with no sign of her family. A boy runs by and tells Trudi to misdirect a man who is chasing him, which she does. She makes friends with the boy, whose name is Carak. Carak comments on her strange clothes. Trudi begins to think she has been transported to the past, when the medieval village existed. But then Carak serves her hamburgers, which were not around in medieval times.

Then Carak notices the box, and says Trudi must have stolen it from the museum. Trudi wants to hold onto it as she hopes it will get her back to her own time. When Carak says it is five hundred years old – not three hundred – Trudi realises that she has been transported to the future, not the past. A replica of the medieval village has been built as a tourist attraction, and the museum has exhibits not only of medieval times but the 20th century as well. Carak is surprised when the cabinet the box is supposed to be in is still sealed. Then he sets off an alarm and the man, Mr Peters, starts chasing them both. They find a place to take refuge in.

Trudi decides to tell Carak what happened. Carak opens the box, which contains three rings. He explains they are time travel devices that can take someone into the past, present or future. The trouble is, nobody knows which ring is which. When Trudi held the box, she must have had her hand too close to the “future” ring. Mr Peters catches up, and Trudi takes a chance on one of the rings. But this ring transports them to the past and the real medieval village. A woman comes in and thinks they are robbers. As they flee, Trudi trips up and a man grabs one of her Wellington boots. They take another shot at the rings, and this time they come to Trudi’s own time period, and the clock time is just before the box was found. Carak takes the box and goes back to his own time.

This time, Dad’s find is the Wellington boot that Trudi lost in medieval times. Trudi hopes he does not look too closely at the boot and realise it has been buried at that spot for years – how will she be able to explain that to him?

Scream 5

Little Lord Percival

Plot

Pauline Pratt finds a ventriloquist’s dummy, Little Lord Percival, but discovers he is evil and causes a lot of trouble that she gets the blame for. Eventually she realises that Lord Percival is possessed by the spirit of Fred Vernon-Vaisley (“Vernon the Valet”), a ventriloquist with a difficult, quarrelsome personality. Vaisley’s personality led to his “sad end” after a quarrel with a fellow performer, Mr Grantley, and now Lord Percival is out for revenge on Mr Grantley.

Percival 1

Notes

  • Artist: Claude Berridge

Appeared

  • Little Lord Percival – Mandy:  #609 (16 September 1978) – #618 (18 November 1978)

Nurses

Plot

Soap opera concerning four first-year student nurses (Verity, Amanda, Jackie and Kay) at Norchester General Hospital. The girls return in later series and are joined by another student – Chris.

Nurses.jpg

Notes

  • Artist: Claude Berridge

Appeared

  • Nurses – M&J:  #100 (10 April 1993) – #112 (3 July 1993)
  • Nurses (2) – M&J:  #128 (23  October 1993) – #139 (8 January 1994)
  • Nurses (3) – M&J:  #154 (23  April 1994) – #167 (23 July 1994)
  • Nurses (4) – M&J:  #187 (10 December 1994) – #198 (25 February 1995)

Other Appearances: 

  • Nurses – Mandy Annual 1995
  • Nurses – Mandy Annual 1997
  • Nurses – Mandy Picture Story Library: #193
  • Nurses – Mandy Picture Story Library: #220

Mandy

  • Mandy –  Mandy:  #01 (21 Jan 1967) – #1269 (11 May 1991)
  • Art: Claude Berridge

Plot

The comic’s namesake ‘Mandy’ stayed on the cover of the comic for its whole run with just a few changes along the way.  The first issues were more concerned with advertising free gifts and that it was a new paper. After this it settled into the pattern of a full-shot of Mandy on a mostly white background. Mandy is instantly recognisable with her bobbed dark hair, her clothes changed but are always colourful and kept up with 70s fashions. Accompanying her, is her red and white dog, Patch. The main picture set up the theme for the story.   Each issue had a theme usually involving a play on words.  As well as the large picture there was one small panel in the corner, often this would be a contrast to the calmer/ happier main picture.  For example one cover has Mandy admiring a dalmatian, the smaller panel then has her running away from the bad tempered dog. Also on the cover a pun usually encouraged you to continue reading on the back cover like when Mandy gets sunburned and the line is “Have you “red” it all girls? Then turn to the back cover -”

Mandy_01   Mandy_02

These covers were very eye-catching, the colourful Mandy stands out from the white background. Also I think the cover is so effective by keeping it quite simple the expressions of Mandy and Patch with just a few props sets up the theme without over crowding  the page. Even the corner box isn’t intrusive but a nice hint of what’s to come. The back page consists of 6 panels often with the panels in pairs, continuing the theme. Sometimes the last panel would have things work out for Mandy but not always.

A breakdown of one story; it starts with Mandy skating on the ice on the cover, the smaller panel has her in trouble getting stuck when the ice melts. The bottom of the cover tells us to skate round to the back cover for more fun with Mandy.  The first panel on the back page has Mandy leaving the house to go babysitting, the next panel has Mandy covered in snow because the snow on the roof melted. The third panel Mandy is having trouble with her sitting charge who won’t stop crying. The next panel reveals she is crying because her snowman melted. On her way home in the next panel Mandy complains she has had nothing but trouble with melting things all day. Things work out for in the last panel as her Mum has backed her favourite biscuits Melting Moments.

Mandy_03By the middle of 1978 there was a slight change to the format. Mandy’s still on the cover but now there is no other panels, dialogue and the  picture is usually a more close up shot. The front cover slogan encourages potential readers to buy the comic, like when Mandy in on a boat the slogan is “All Aboard for the best picture stories “or when she is playing catch with Patch the slogan is  “There’s No Catch – if you like picture stories you’ll like Mandy”.  Sometimes the story continued inside the cover rather than the back cover but the format stayed the same. The last few years of Mandy the character had a bit of a makeover. A new artist takes over and now Mandy has longer hair in a pony tail but the format stays the same. After Mandy ends and joins with Judy their new strip M&J- Friends and Neighbours drops the play on words and is more ordinary life mishaps for the friends.

Mandy_04     Mandy_06

Thoughts

I’ve already talked about the Bunty and Judy characters previously and while they are enjoyable,  I think Mandy has the more interesting strip. The play on words is a fun angle instead of the usual straightforward mishaps characters have. A lot of other character strips like Judy & Co., Life with Bunty, Debbie weren’t vey different from each other, so Mandy made a nice change. The art is also really good. My favourites are the early covers, like I said above these were very eye catching. The artist really captures a lot of expressions throughout the strip and there are more detailed backgrounds on the back page but he/she still keeps things quite simplistic. I enjoy the different outfits Mandy wears, which are nice look back at the time period.

The character must have been a good selling point as she consistently stayed on the cover while other comic covers changed over the years. Although later issues would advertise some inside stories as well, these only took up a small portion of the page while Mandy still kept her place as the main focus of the cover. When Mandy comic merged with Judy comic the two characters became friends in a new strip M&J – neighbours and friends.

List of Appearances

  • Mandy –  Mandy:  #01 (21 Jan 1967) – #1269 (11 May 1991)
  • M&J – neighbours and friends– M&J: 01 (18 May 1991) – #46 (28 Mar. 1992)
  • The Diaries of M&J – M&J: #47 (04 Apr. 1992) – (?)

Other Appearances:

  • Mandy (x3) – Mandy Annual 1971
  • Mandy – Mandy Annual 1974
  • Mandy (x2) – Mandy Annual 1976
  • Mandy (a story without words) (x2) – Mandy Annual 1982
  • Mandy (a story without words) (x2) – Mandy Annual 1983
  • Mandy – Mandy Annual 1986
  • Mandy and Patch – Mandy Annual 1992
  • M&J – Mandy Annual 1993
  • M&J – Judy Annual 1993
  • M&J (x2) – Mandy Annual 1994
  • M&J – Mandy Annual 1995

No Friends for Freda

Plot

Freda Wilson accidentally fell foul of an old gipsy woman, who told her from than on she would bring only harm to her friends. The curse seemed to be working and Freda feels she has to avoid her friends, for their own sake.

no friends for freda

Notes

  • Artist: Claude Berridge

Appeared

  • No Friends for Freda –  Mandy:   ?  – #346 (01 September 1973)

 

Mary and Her Marvellous Machine

Plot

In the early 19th century, Mary Elliot lives with her widowed father. Mr Elliot  invented a machine he hoped would make them a fortune – one of the very first sewing machines. Mary sets out to sell this “marvel” machine, but meets with many difficulties through fear and ignorance.

marys marvellous machine

Notes

  • Artist: Claude Berridge

Appeared

  • Mary and Her Marvellous Machine –  Mandy:   circa #332 (26 May 1973) – (?)

 

Mandy 1994

Mandy_Ann_1994This is the last Mandy annual to have art on the cover, rather than a photo of a cover girl. It is also the first cover not to depict the Mandy character.  There are 22 picture stores, 2 text stories and 6 features. There are no photo stories, and as usual with Mandy there is one longer picture story split into 3 parts. There is also a symbol beside each story to show what type of story it is; drama, humour, spooky or romance, so there is a nice mix here and the layout is nicely done.

When this was published, Mandy and Judy had already combined in the week issues to become M&J and Judy’s last annual was published the previous year, so it makes sense that some traditional Judy characters continue to show up here; Cinderella Jones, Wee Slavey and Pepper the Pony. Angel as an original Mandy character, is the focus of the long picture story. Along with these regular characters there is also a lot of original stories.  (For just a list of contents click here)

Picture Stories

Rhymes for our Times     (Pages: 4/ 39/ 64/ 97)

These humorous one page strips update the old rhymes of Little Miss Muffet, The Queen of Hearts, Mary had a little Lamb and Little Bo Peep. In Little Miss Muffet,  Muffet refuses  curds and whey in preference of a strawberry yoghurt, she isn’t scared off when a fake spider appears beside her and excepts the trickster John’s offer of a date.

little_miss_muffet

In the Queen of Hearts, pop star Gloria Hart bakes some tarts but they are rock hard so no one wants to steal them. Only the local paper boy accepts the tarts  to give to his boxer to chew.

Next Mary helps out at a local farm and with a young lamb, Larry, when he follows her to school there isn’t laughing and playing instead she gets 200 lines.

Lastly, Betty “Bo” Peep helps look after her dad’s sheep and is quite taken by the handsome new shepherd. He is too busy to talk to her and a bit of a know it all, so Bo hides the sheep in order to help him find them later!

bo_peep

 

Angel     (Pages: 5-10, 33-38, 113-118)

  • Artist: Dudley Wynne

Angel is a well remembered tragic heroine that appeared in the Mandy and M&J comics. When Angela Hamilton a wealthy young woman discovers she has only a year to live, she leaves home and dedicates her life to helping the poor. After she dies her parents dedicate a home to help the poor children and have a statue built in her memory. Here the  story set up is that 3 older people meet at the statue to pay their respects to Angel, each tell their story of how she helped them.

m94_angel3

Firstly is Peter, who as a young boy grew up with wealth, but after losing his parents he ends up on the streets. His pride makes him refuse Miss Angel’s offer of a home, because it is in a stables, which he believes is only fit for animals. Angel worries about him, then realising it is Christmas time, takes Peter to a church to see a Nativity scene and if a stable was good enough for Jesus, then Peter can accept her offer. This fits in with religious tones of the original story.

m94_angelThe next story is from Annie and actually takes place after Miss Angel’s death. She was given a violin by Angel’s parents which she then used to busk on the streets. She also tried to live up to Angel’s goodness by helping out the family living next door to her. When the money she earns to buy a Christmas feast for the family is stolen, she goes to sell off her violin. A customer hearing her play gives her a job in the orchestra.

The last story is told by the youngest woman, Peter points out that she couldn’t remember Miss Angel, as she has been dead over 40 years.  But she actually owes Angel, her life. She was born under a railway at Christmas and Miss Angel paid for her and her mother’s medical bills. Years later when the family is doing well they recognise the statue.

The art and the inking are great a like the soft pastel colours used. A lot of browns and greys are used, though it does not look dull. Also this helps to make Miss Angel stand out more with her green dress.

m94_angel2

A Shy Romance     (Pages: 11-15)

  • Artist: Georgio Letteri

One of the many romance stories in this book. Trina is a shy girl and is delighted when a boy she likes Ross asks her out.  She is nervous about the date but seeing a tv programme about  “the shy guide to dating” gives her confidence.  Another girl Sophie, a jealous, tries to interfere with her plans with Ross. Because of this, Trina arrives to the date late and things don’t seem to be going well. Taking the advice of the TV show she leans in, to show her interest only to knock heads with Ross.

m94_shyromanceShe tries to follow the rest of programme’s advice but Ross gets in before her, asking about her hobbies. She realises he also saw the show, meaning that he is shy too and wants to make a good impression.  This is a sweet story with some humour, the artist is good at humorous expressions.

Cinderella Jones     (Pages: 17-22)

  • Artist: Oliver Passingham

Arnold Jones, Cindy’s father has been made redundant and Agnes is making sure he doesn’t laze around the house by putting him hard at work. As a Christmas present, Cindy helps him stand up for himself, when she gets someone to pretend to be from the tourist board, who expects a male in charge. This leads to him ordering Agnes around for a change! The last panel has the characters looking out of panel saying Happy Christmas. In this annual there is actually a few times where characters address the reader directly..

M94_cinderella

M&J      (Pages: 23-25/ 59-61)

Mandy and Judy, best friends have some small adventures. In the first story, Mandy is worried when her dog Patch goes missing. It turns out he sneaked into Judy’s family car and had a great trip to the country, while Mandy was searching for him.

In the second story Judy arranges a tennis game with Mandy but can’t find her racquet. She visits various friends that she may have lent it to. They don’t have the racquet, but they do have other things she lent them. Judy arrives at court with various things but without a racquet, but it turns out she had lent racquet to Mandy! Both stories have a lost theme, and it is  nice to see a focus on both characters in the different stories.

The Perfect Pony      (Pages: 27-32)

Julie has an old pony, Pixie, who is not a show jumper or  a very fast horse,  then Julie sees the opportunity to get a better horse in a competition. She wins an Arab horse, Desert Prince, in the competition. Her parents tell her they can’t afford to keep both horses, so she advertises to sell Pixie. In the meantime when Desert Prince arrives, Julie is very excited at the prospect of entering competitions. But soon she notices other differences in the horses, such as Pixie comes to greet her when she arrives at the field and comes to comfort her when she hurts herself. Julie realises that she wants a sweet pony that she has a bond with, more than a fast competitive one and ends up selling Desert Prince instead.

A Fairy Story      (Pages: 43-47)

  • Artist: Claude Berridge

A more fantastical romance story. Carrie and Bill, are dating and unknown to them they are also getting help from Carrie’s good fairy and Bill’s elf whispering in their ears. Carrie can be hotheaded, so her fairy helps calm her down. While Bill is easygoing and his elf encourages him to be more honest, like not agreeing to see a romance film when he doesn’t like them. It seems the advice they are giving is causing arguments between Carrie and Bill which also leads the Fairy and Elf  to argue about each others methods. They are so busy arguing that it takes them a while to notice that Bill and Carrie are getting on great without their help. They wonder who could they help instead and so breaking the fourth wall, they say to could help the girl reading the story!

M94_fairystory

This is a fun story, the similar looks of the fairy/elf with their protagonists seem like they may be part of Carrie and Bill’s conscious, a part of them. Maybe when they find a new person to help their looks will change!

Wee Slavey      (Pages: 49-56)

Trouble for Nellie when the family buy the Little Wizard (an early vaccum cleaner model)! It’s meant to save her time for housework but actually it is so big, bulky and hard to carry that it creates more work for her. Then a diamond clasp goes missing, Nellie has idea to solve 2 problems at once by reversing hoover. So they find the clasp had been accidentally sucked up by the Wizard and the family get rid of the “faulty” machine.

Big ‘n’ Bertha      (Page: 57)

Dad kicks Big out of the house, saying he’ll be fine in the shed with his basket.  But when Dad get locked out of the house one night, and ends up sharing Big’s bed, he agrees the shed is too cold. So Big can stay in the house again.

Love Next Door       (Pages: 65-69)

  • Artist: Julio Bosch

Tony and Julie are neighbours and also boyfriend and girlfriend, but they have a falling out. Their younger siblings John and Jane try to get them back together but seem to make things worse. Only after Tony rescues Julie from a ladder do they get back together. A couple of months later they get married. Some neighbours comment that they will miss the romance across the fence, but it seems John and Jane’s friendship is changing to something more. The story is fine, although not very memorable, still the art is very good.

M94_lovenextdoor