Tag Archives: Geoffrey Whittam

Diana Annual 1971

Picture Stories

  • Kate’s Ancestors (Pages: 2-3, 126-127)
  • The Swish Family Robinson (Pages: 6-12) [Art: Jose Ortiz]
  • The Long Exciting Life of Countess Tolstoy (Pages: 13-16)
  • Margaret, Countess of Airlie (Page 17)
  • Lady Mabella de Tichborne (Page 18)
  • Lorna in the Wild West (Pages: 27-30)
  • The Sacred Geese of Juno (Pages: 31-32)
  • Mister Magic’s Last Trick (Pages: 33-36) [Art: David Matysiak]
  • Little Yoo (Pages: 39-44) [Art: Jose Gonzalez]
  • Up-To-Date Kate (Pages: 49, 80)
  • Mouse in the House (Pages: 50, 73)
  • Rosie Red Riding Hood (Pages: 51, 74)
  • My Big Brother Marmaduke (Pages: 52-55) [Art: Jesus Redondo]
  • Mary Brown’s Schooldays (Pages: 56-63) [Art: Don Walker]
  • The Ballad of Betsy May (Page 72)
  • The Terrors from the Tiny Planet (Pages: 75-78) [Art: George Martin]
  • School for Pen Friends (Pages: 81-84) [Art: Geoffrey Whittam]
  • The Secret of the White Rose (Pages: 85-88)
  • Sue of the Silver Arrow (Pages: 93-96) [Art: Jesus Redondo]
  • Secret of the Mountain Dog (Pages: 97-102) [Art: Robert Hamilton]
  • Ingrid and the Robot (Pages: 107-110) [Art: Augustin Navarro]
  • Patsy O’Hara (Pages: 113-115)
  • Jane – Model Miss (Pages: 116-119) [Art: Pamela Chapeau]
  • Starr of Wonderland (Pages: 120-125) [Art: Luis Bermejo]

Text Stories

  • Aunt Gretchen’s Secret Recipe (Pages: 37-38)
  • Two Can Play (Pages: 45-46)
  • The Day the Monet Fell Off the Mantelpiece (Pages: 66-67)
  • The Affair of the Artful Dodgers (Pages: 70-71) [Art: George Martin]
  • Agatha’s Fourteenth Birthday (Pages: 89-90)
  • What’s the Time in Trinidad? (Pages: 91-92)
  • A Bird Called Peg-Leg (Pages: 111-112)

Features

  • Dances of America (Page 19)
  • Dances of Wales (Page 20)
  • Tales of the Trees (Pages: 21-24)
  • Sweet Mixtures (Page 25)
  • Tea-Time Treats (Page 26)
  • Mini-Models (Page 47)
  • Animal Wisecrackers (Page 48)
  • Kate’s Continental Tour Game (Pages: 64-65)
  • Pantomime Time (Pages: 68-69)
  • It’s a Funny Fact (Page 79)
  • Film File on Jean Simmons (Page 103)
  • The Best of Chums (Pages: 104-105)
  • My Goldfish (Page 106)

 

* Thanks to Goof for information and picture

Diana Annual 1970

Picture Stories

  • Mary Brown’s Schooldays (Pages: 6-11, 121-125) [Art: Don Walker]
  • Our Gang (Pages: 12-13, 55-56, 104-105) [Art: Luis Bermejo]
  • Up-To-Date Kate (Pages: 14, 70, 103)
  • Jane – Model Miss (Pages: 15-20) [Art: Pamela Chapeau]
  • Starr of Wonderland (Pages: 25-30) [Art: Jose Ortiz]
  • Rosie Red Riding Hood (Pages: 31, 71)
  • Night of the Witches (Pages: 33-36) [Art: David Matysiak]
  • My Big Sister Billie (Pages: 44-47) [Art: George Martin]
  • Mum’s on the Council (Pages: 57-59)
  • Afraid to Tell the Truth (Pages: 60-64)
  • School for Penfriends (Pages: 65-69) [Art: Geoffrey Whittam]
  • My Big Brother Marmaduke (Pages: 73-76) [Art: Jesus Redondo]
  • MacTaggart of the Mounted Police (Pages: 81-85)
  • Clumsy Claudia (Pages: 88-91)
  • The Broken Ballerina (Pages: 92-95)
  • Nellie Bashem and the Unwelcome Guests (Pages: 97-102) [Art: Geoffrey Whittam]
  • Ingrid at Push-Button Academy (Pages: 106-110)
  • Lorna on Stage (Pages: 117-120)

Text Stories

  • The Other Catriona (Pages: 37-38)
  • New to the Prairies (Pages: 49-51, 54)
  • Snow in Summer (Pages: 86-87)

Features

  • Up-To-Date Kate Spring and Summer (Pages: 2-3)
  • Tales of the Trees (Pages: 21-24)
  • Gipsy Sam (Page 32)
  • The Pony Alphabet (Page 39)
  • Escape from the Red Giant (Pages: 40-41)
  • Wonder Horses (Pages: 42-43)
  • Pony Postbox (Page 48)
  • TV Tricks (Pages: 52-53)
  • Thoughts on a Penny (Page 72)
  • Cooking Round the Clock (Page 77)
  • Boutique, or Kate’s Game (Pages: 78-79)
  • Monkey Muses (Page 80)
  • Lucy Had a Little Boy (Page 96)
  • Festivals are Fun (Pages: 111-116)
  • Up-To-Date Kate Autumn and Winter (Pages: 126-127)

 

* Thanks to Goof for the information

Diana Annual 1968

Picture Stories

  • The Girls from N.O.O.D.L.E.S (Pages: 6-12) [Art: Geoffrey Whittam]
  • Starr of Wonderland (Pages: 17-21) [Art: Emilio Frejo]
  • Babs of Butterfly Farm (Pages: 23-28)
  • Problem Dog (Pages: 33-36)
  • Miranda’s Mystery Plant (Pages: 41-43, 46)
  • Kitty’s Concert Party (Pages: 53-57)
  • What Happened When The Instruments Couldn’t Agree (Pages: 60-61)
  • The Merry Mermaids (Pages: 63-67)
  • Emergency Nurse Gwen (Pages: 78-80) [Art: Ferran Sostres]
  • The Battling Badger (Pages: 81-84)
  • The One-Legged Eagle (Pages: 87-90)
  • A Christmas Miracle (Pages: 93-96)
  • The Magic Mirror (Pages: 97-100)
  • The First Punch and Judy Man (Pages: 102-105)

Text Stories

  • Mallard’s Morning (Page 22)
  • The Firebug (Pages: 37-38)

Features

  • Secret Agents (Pages: 2-3)
  • Spyland Games (Pages: 13-16)
  • Winter Wonderland (Page 29)
  • The Wonderland of Dolls (Page 30)
  • Pets (Page 31)
  • Witty Kitties (Page 32)
  • Pet Quiz (Page 39)
  • First Aid for Four-Footed Friends (Page 40)
  • Bottle your Garden (Pages: 44-45)
  • Dear Teacher (Pages: 47-48)
  • Bound for the Beach (Page 49)
  • String Things (Pages: 50-51)
  • On Target! (Page 52)
  • Mixed Doubles (Pages: 58-59)
  • Tchaikovsky the Music Maker (Page 62)
  • The Joys of Spring (Pages: 68-69)
  • School on Ice (Pages: 70-71)
  • Rodeo-Oh-Oh! (Page 72)
  • Model Match (Page 73)
  • Mary Quant (Pages: 74-75)
  • Nurses of Tomorrow’s World (Pages: 76-77)
  • Born Free (Pages: 85-86)
  • Two Strange Women (Page 91)
  • Have Fun with Facts (Page 92)
  • Just Hanging Around (Page 101)
  • Make Your Own Puppet Theatre (Pages: 106-109)
  • Girls on the Go (Pages: 110-116)
  • Ballet Feature (Pages: 117-125)
  • Pop Stars (Pages: 126-127)

 

* Thanks to Goof for the information

Mandy Annual 1975

Picture Stories

  • The Farmer Wants A Wife (Pages: 6-11) [Art: Bernard Greenbaum?]
  • The Slave Girls (Pages: 12-16)
  • The Sign Of The Acorn [3 parts] (Pages: 18-22, 49-58, 97-107) [Art: Claude Berridge]
  • Stella Starr – Policewoman From Space (Pages: 23-28) [Art: John Richardson]
  • Polly’s Piglet (Pages: 34-37) [Art: Richard Neillands]
  • Della in the Dark (Pages: 38-43) [Art: Guy Peeters]
  • Charley Boy! (Pages: 44-47) [Art: Geoffrey Whittam]
  • Terry’s Ferry (Pages: 60-64) [Art: Geoff Jones]
  • I Want To Be A Witch! (Pages: 70-73) [Art: Tom Hurst]
  • One Day In Rome (Pages: 74-80) [Art: “B Jackson”]
  • Netta’s Newshound (Pages: 82-85)
  • Ellen of Elmswood Farm (Pages: 86-91) [Art: Tony Higham]
  • Here Come The Mini-Mounties (Pages: 92-96)
  • Swinging Sue (Pages: 113-118) [Art: Tony Higham]
  • Little Phantom Of The Opera (Pages: 119-125) [Art: Dudley Wynne]

Text Stories

  • The Guardian Tree (Pages: 29-32)
  • Sheena And Her Stories (Pages: 65-69)
  • The Girl with the Smile (Pages: 108-112) [Art: George Martin]

Features

  • Mandy’s A B C In Rhyme Of Ways She Likes To Pass The Time[7 parts] (Pages: 2-3, 17, 33, 48, 59, 81,126-127)

 

* Thanks to Kaylana for information and cover picture

Diana 1969

Comic Annuals were a very popular present at Christmas, which is why I like to take look at an annual around this time of year. Usually the books would have some Christmas reference, but not always, as I assume it would appeal better for re-reading if it wasn’t just set all about the holiday. This annual has 2 stories that are set at Christmas time, Mandy the Thirteenth and Life with Miss Peake – Ugh!

Diana is one of the comics that I only have a few issues of, but it’s influence carried on in other comics, particularly Spellbound and Debbie. This annual is full of stories and features that would appeal to many. I like that the Diana covers for the annuals consistently (bar one) used a black background, which makes it distinctive from other annuals. After 1975, the covers depicted a photo girl but before that it was always a hand-drawn blonde girl which contrasted well with the dark background. (For just a list of contents go to the next page)

Picture Stories

The Girls from N.O.O.D.L.E.S  (Pages: 6-11)

Art: Geoffrey Whittam

Gail Price and Nicola Main are agents for N.O.O.D.L.E.S. (National Orgainisation for Order Discipline and Law Enforcement in Schools). At their secret headquarters, Miss Z, informs them about top athletes who have disappeared from their schools and tells of a lead about where they might be. One of the missing girls was found wandering around near Ben Vornich, Scotland, talking of gold. Gail and Nicola, parachute in to investigate Firtree College. On their way they see some of the missing girls  being led into a cave by armed men, but when they go to get a closer look, the cave entrance seems to have vanished.

They continue their investigation at Firtree College, but the schoolgirls there, appear happy and healthy. Then a bedraggled girl runs towards them trying to escape guards, they help her escape and she shows them where the other missing girls are hidden. Gail and Nicole are carrying super vitamins, that will help the girls recover their strength and together they overpower the guards and confront the person behind the scheme. It seems the respected headmistress, is actually Karl Minden, top criminal and an expert at disguise. He was using Firtree as a cover and recruited strong girls to mine gold for him in a hidden cave. After showing the girls the secret panel to the cave he tries to escape, but Nicola shoots down an icicle onto his head.  The real headmistress is recovered (off-panel) and the girls can be returned to their proper schools.

Mary Brown’s Schooldays (Pages: 12-17)

Art: Don Walker

Mary Brown a scholarship girl at St Winifred’s, is surprised when Miss Cragg , an old teacher returns to the school. She had earned the nickname, Craggy Monster by treating the class like they were army recruits, but now is acting very friendly. Unfortunately she has gone to other extreme, now treating them like young primary kids. This annoys the girls so much that they make plans to make the “monster” come back, including bringing toys to classroom, flying Cragg’s  flag on the chimney and ambushing her while she’s out on a walk. Only the last plan works, but not in the way they expected! Unfortunately for them the army is doing exercises in the moor at same time, and there are tanks heading straight for the girls, until Cragg yells out orders to divert the tanks. Afterwards, Miss Cragg leaves the school again, and Mary and the others feel guilty. A few weeks later Mary’s happy to see Miss Cragg, lecturing about the Army at a careers lecture, and she hopes she has now found the ideal job.

How Kathy Tricked a Ghost   (Pages: 33-36)

This is a story from Diana’s resident spooky storyteller, The Man in Black. Kathy Martin arrives at Hogarth Hall for a holiday with her foster parents. Hogarth Hall is maintained by her great aunt Agatha and there is one room Agatha tells Kathy not to go near. But her curiosity piqued she does visit it and sees a picture of a sad girl beside a creepy woman. That night Kathy is visited by the ghost of the girl. She asks her to play with her the next day, but when she goes to where she says, the door leads nowhere and she nearly falls to her death. Agatha explains the spirit of the girl will roam until she finds someone to take her place. Once again the ghost tries to get Kathy to meet her at a dangerous place. Kathy gives her another chance not believing she could be evil, but after another attempt on her life, she comes up with a plan to defeat the ghost. She agrees to meet the ghost by the cliff the next day. After she seemingly falls off the cliff, it is revealed that the ghost is actually the cruel governess seeking revenge on the Martins after her dismissal. Now her spirit is free and she will no longer haunt the hall. She will never know that it was actually just a dummy that fell off the cliff, not Kathy, and the portrait now holds only a smiling girl.

Mandy the Thirteenth (Pages: 39-43, 46)

Art: Don Walker

Mandy Martin is the 13th child of a large family and always seems to have bad luck. Her horoscope for the day tells her “Her lucky number is 3, lucky colour is orange, a good day for money matters and watch out for an unexpected trip”. Her lucky number 3 doesn’t seem to work out as she gets injured helping a mother with triplets, and takes a dip in the pond trying to rescue a 3rd duckling. Things seem to brighten up as she asked to model an orange dress and gets 10 shilling note as payment. But then it gets blown away. Someone does pick it up at Santa’s grotto and in her rush to claim it she trips over some oranges and pulls down Santa’s beard. She recognises  him as a pickpocket and gets rewarded from the store for unmasking him.

Emergency Nurse Gwen   (Pages: 49-54)

Art: Ferran Sostres

In this bizarre story, Gwen gets a mysterious call, and when she goes to answer it, she is taken on a helicopter, (voluntarily) drugged and dropped in a strange place. She is then attacked by a metal monster but is relieved to find some airman, though their aircraft looks more like a spaceship. When one of the men starts freaking out, Gwen sedates him, averting a crisis. She finally gets an explanation, with the advancement of space travel and hopes to colonise planets,  it was all a test to see how a medical professional would act on a space colony, it seems Gwen would be an ideal candidate whenever such a thing happens.

Mascot of the Ballet (Pages: 62-67)

Art: Emilio Frejo

This story is narrated by Pelly the cat. His owner is Anice who is part of a ballet company and they have made him their mascot. Lucky for them, as Pelly raises the alarm when the hotel they are staying  at goes on fire. The Laird of Strathbey offers to put the company up in his ancestral home for the meantime, but Pelly gets a bad feeling about the Laird. Strange things do happen as valuable items go missing, one of which is found in Anice’s bag! The police are informed and Anice is under suspicion. Then Pelly follows the Laird and finds out he is an imposter when he sees the real Laird tied up in a cave. With the help of wildcat and gamekeeper, Pelly manages to get the real Laird free. It seems the Laird’s twin brother was setting things up to pay off his debts by stealing from the house and have ballet company take the fall. He also set the fire in the hotel so he could have the ballet company stay. Quite the elaborate plot!

The Mermaids   (Pages: 76-80)

Art: Juan Gonzalez Alacreu

The Mermaids, a team of synchronized swimmers, taught by Dot Cameron, are chosen to be the carnival queen’s attendants. Then the carnival queen Joyce goes missing. Their search for her is of no avail until Joyce’s dog shows up. Leading the team to an old wreck, they find Joyce unconscious after she had tripped while exploring. The Mermaids rouse her and are able to swim her to safety on a makeshift raft. The publicity ensures the festival is a great success.

Wedding Belle  (Pages: 81-86)

Belle Richards enjoys going to weddings, which is lucky for a disorganized couple. She sorts out their problems – acting as an usher, finding a last minute organist and even fetching the groom who was sitting at the wrong church! The Mother of the Bride is surprised she is not family or friend, she just came to watch. She invites Belle to the reception as a thank you for her help (and just in case other problems arise!).

Ingrid at Push-Button Academy (Pages: 89-94)

Ingrid Bergan attends the progressive school Push Button Academy built by her father, a professor.  The Professor enters the school  into a competition for the most attractive school. Ironically when showing off a replica of the magnetic pole, it seems it is too attractive as the magnetism pulls the belongings of the inspectors to the pole. The inspectors leave not happy with these events. While trying to readjust it so the magnetism isn’t so strong, Ingrid becomes temporarily magnetized in the process. So now all metal things fly to her. This works to her advantage, when it helps her stop a thief in the hotel the inspectors are staying at. So the inspectors give the school another chance.

Jane Model Miss (Pages: 98-103)

Art: Juan Gonzalez Alacreu

Business is slow for Jane Morgan, so she accepts a sudden offer by an American, Mr Glanville, to design and model swimsuits from his fabrics and as part of the deal she must teach is daughter April to be a model. But it seems April is awkward and clumsy. Mr Glanville still wants her to model but even he;s not keen for her to model his swimsuits and asks Jane to keep her away. Jane does this by locking her in a cupboard but April breaks out and slips into the pool. Luckily she is elegant in the water, impressing the potential clients and so she becomes their action model.

Starr of Wonderland (Pages: 105-110)

Art: Emilio Frejo

While auditioning for a new King Arthur for Wonderland, Diana Starr has her work cut out or her when two feuding fathers try out. Their daughters, Wendy and Sue, are good friends and are tired of their dad’s fighting. They are both are up to tricks to undermine each other’s audition such as Mr Marshall loosening Excalibur so Mr Booth falls over when he gives it a big tug. Then Mr Marshall accidentally sets a fire in a tower putting their daughters at risk. They have to work together to save them, after which they put their feud behind them. As for the part of King Arthur, Diana says they can each take the part every other day while the other plays Sir Lancelot.

Sadie Macbeth (Pages: 114-119)

Sadie Macbeth’s class are visiting the McPorridge castle on a school trip, but are disappointed when the grouchy Hamish McPorridge says the castle is closed for the afternoon. Sadie summons her three witch friends, Prue, Vinny and Cassie to help. Unfortunately while casting a spell, Vinny thoughts wander to the famous Macbeth, who stayed in the castle, which brings forth him and Lady Macbeth. The two Macbeths chase Hamish from the castle and the witches have a hard time getting rid of them as their spells  don’t work out as they want them too. Finally after turning some bagpipes into a giant octopus then into a balloon, they are whisked away and the grateful Hamish gives the class a tour.

Lorna at Court  (Pages: 122-125)

Art: Don Walker

Lorna Butterwick has won a trip to Paris by entering a historical essay contest. After eating some cheese sandwiches her mother gave her, she falls asleep. She finds herself in the Palace of Tuileries in 1791, witnessing Marie Antoinette’s attempts to escape with her family, Lorna admires her brave actions, though she ends up back in her own time before she sees the royals final fate. Still she is able to write an article about Marie Antoinette’s heroic attempts to save her family, for her school magazine

Text Stories

Life With Miss Peake – Ugh!  (Pages: 37-38)

A girl dreads her new assignment from her horrible sewing mistress, Miss Peake. The class are to make their own fancy dress costume for a Christmas party.  She puts it off until the last minute and then finds out that her mom has given away her material! With little options left, she rents a costume, but is found out when she wears the top inside out ad the shop’s tag is clear for everyone to see. As she is sorry and it is Christmas she gets off with a light punishment.

Nothing But the Best- for Cousin Gertrude (Pages: 47-48)

Elizabeth and her friend Felicity prepare for the arrival of Cousin Gertrude, how they assume as well travelleved person will be used to the best. Everything’s a disaster, but when Gertude arrives she soon puts things right and proves not to be as uptight as they were expecting.

The Loneliness of Being Sandra  (Pages: 87-88)

Sandra joins her aunt at a skiing holiday but finds it lonely as the others people her age don’t seem too friendly. When her aunt suggest she might have been showing off too much with her skiing skills,  Sandra begins to pretends to not be as great a skier as she actually is. This works but then has to reveal her secret when the weather turns on a trip and she has to go get help, luckily her new friends have already accepted her at this stage, and are impressed by her heroics.

The Girl With the Magic Touch   (Pages: 95-96)

Rosemary isn’t too happy when her family move into an old Victorian house so they have space for her Gran to live with them. This is made worse when her friend Betty gets her room turned into a modern den, while Rosemary is still stuck sharing a room with her sister. She also finds Gran critical but does take her suggestion of checking out the attic as potential room of her her own. After finding old chest, with diary she decides to decorate in Victorian style and does most of the work herself. She ends up bonding with Gran when she helps with the curtains and understands the importance of having a place of your own doesn’t change when older.

Features

Diana was a book that was known for it’s informative features, the early issues of the weekly comic had a “Getting-to-Know” section, that told facts in an interesting and often story-like manner. There are many interesting features, some more simply straightforward facts, others told in a a more story-like manner, as well as popular creative and quiz features.

There are two story – type features in this annual, The Village That Died  (Page: 55),  which tells the story of Eyam village where in the 17th century most people died of the plague after receiving parcel from London. The other story feature I go into more detail below –

On Holiday With – Claudia/ Eleanor/  Anne/ Lucy  (Pages: 18-23)

Four different girls, from different time periods share what their holidays were like. This was good way to relate to the readers of the same age.  Firstly there is Claudia a Roman girl of the 2nd century tells of a holiday to her uncle’s in Roman Briton, where she had family feasts (though the children were expected to stay quiet), played ball games with her cousins, watched chariot races, shopped in the Forum and relaxed in the public baths.

Eleanor, from the 14th century, along with her hooded hawk, Visits the shrine of St Thomas à Becket at Canterbury. She travels with a group of pilgrims, along the way seeing entertainment of jugglers and dancing bears. At Canterbury, she is blessed by bishop and buys a puppet from a toymaker.

Anne, from the 16th century, visits her uncle in London, which is quite a change from her country life. She gets to see one of Shakespeare’s new plays, ride on a boat in the river Thames and see Queen Elizabeth as she leaves London for the Summer.

Lucy, from the days of Queen Anne of the 18th century, visits friends in the country, accompanied by her maid. Outside they played battledore and shuttlecock, if it rained they played the spinet and at night looked at the stars. A travelling artist does her portrait which will be a keepsake for the holiday.

 

Other Features:

Informative Pieces:

  • Festivals and Fun  (Pages: 25-31)
    • Information about different festivals/ carnivals, including; St Lucia’s Day – Sweden, Battle of Flowers – Jersey, Carnival of Nice – France  and many others
  • Tales of the Trees  (Pages: 56-61)
    • The Elder – The Fairy Tale Tree
    • The Hawthorn – The Omen Tree
    • The Apple – The Tree of Good Health
    • The Peach – The Tree of Eastern Legend
    • The Oak – Samson of the Forest
    • The Birch – The Witching Tree
  • Dances of the World  (Pages: 72-75)
    • Different dances from Golden Greece, Merrie England and France
  • The Wonderland of Dolls  (Pages: 111-113)
    • Split into the subheadings of; The Toys that Saved a Village, Dance Little Doll, and Dolls at War
  • Fairies in Ballet  (Pages: 120-121)
    • Photos and captions of fairy characters in the Ballet such as Titania, Lilac Fairy and Carabosse

There also two poems with accompanying photos

  • Join the Crew  (Page: 24)
  • Hooray for Holidays  (Page: 32)

Finally  there are the more participatory/ creative activities

  • Secrets of the Palm  (Pages: 44-45) [A guide to reading palms]
  • Ballet Quiz  (Pages: 68-71)
  • Knit this Super Smarty Top/ Hairstyles for the Modern Miss  (Page: 97)
  • A Sweater and Hat to Knit for Snow Time  (Page: 104)

 

Final Thoughts

As this isn’t a book I grow up with, but got later, it doesn’t evoke the same nostalgia as other books, so it’s somewhat of a mixed bag for me. Majority of the artwork is impressive as is the colouring (Jane Model Miss is a stand out for me), there are some good stories, but others I found had convoluted plots or were just unappealing to me. Although I would say at least none of the stories are boring!

Stories that had some of the more ridiculous plots, in the case of complicated villain plans we have The Girls from NOODLES and Mascot of the Ballet.  I’m more forgiving of NOODLES as it’s more in keeping with the spy antics and I have a soft spot for stories that take inspiration from The Man from U.NC.L.E. / James Bond, so I do actually like that story. Mascot on the other hand the villains plan to to burn down hotel so he can get a ballet troop to stay in the house, frame them for stealing  and presumably kill his brother, so he can pay off debts in London, seems extreme! Of course having such elaborate schemes is nothing new for these books, but sometimes it works better than others.

The story I had the most problems with was Emergency Nurse Gwen. While it may have had a more “grounded” explanation, for  the “alien monster” the whole set up seems surreal. I feel this may work with a different type of story but is not suited for this character.  For example there have been stories where nurse is put in a bizarre situation like “Pam on the Purple Planet” which is fine because that is the set up of the story, but Emergency Nurse Gwen I’d expect a story more in keeping with the problem solving character who may have have found herself in some unusual situations but more down to earth. The biggest issue I have is her reaction to the situation first the people won’t tell her where they are taking her   and then she is persuaded to be drugged! That would trigger so many warnings these days and the entire experiment is unethical, the dumped her in this situation video taped her reactions without any explanation. Then she is perfectly fine with that when they finally do explain, I really think this story wouldn’t pass today!

It’s not all negative though, there are many stories I liked. I thought Life with Miss Peake -Ugh! was amusingly written and I liked Wedding Belle, it is simple premise yet moved along quickly as Belle diverts one disaster or another at the wedding. Mandy the Thirteenth is also a fun read, and while it’s not the focus of the plot it’s nice to have the festive setting. One odd thing about that story is the last page of the story is preceded by a feature about palm reading. While longer stories are sometimes split up in annuals, it’s quite unusual to just separate one page.

Throughout the book the art, and colours when used are top quality. The feature On Holiday with…  has lovely art making every time period distinctive. Jane Model Miss has my favourite art in the book, I enjoyed the story, though the characters can come off a bit mean-spirited for not giving April a chance because she  is clumsy, as she seems perfectly nice otherwise. I’m glad that things work out for her! I also enjoyed Starr of Wonderland but because it only shows Mr Marshall’s tricks (coupled with him starting the fire)and just tells us of Booth’s tricks, it makes things uneven and Marshall comes off less sympathetic. How Kathy Tricked a Ghost is a fine addition to the spooky stories, which usually work well in annuals as they add variety and often work best in the short form. Again there are some questionable plot points, but it is fine.

So despite some criticism still enjoyable read, I would think if I had read this when I was younger I’d be less critical, with the nostalgia goggles on! Still I always find to read any comic annual at this time of year does get me in festive mood!

 

Mandy Annual 1976

 

mandy-1976

Picture Stories

  • Mandy (Pages: 2-3/ 126-127) [Art: Peter Kay]
  • The Amazing Valda (Pages: 6-16) [Art: Dudley Wynne]
  • That’s My Boy! (Pages: 17-21) [Art: Guy Peeters]
  • Double Trouble (Pages: 24-27) [Art: Richard Neillands]
  • Karen of the Crusader (Pages: 29-32) [Art: Tom Hurst]
  • Rent-a-Face from Rosie (Pages: 33-36) [Art: Geoff Jones]
  • The Guardian Tree (Pages: 38-44) [Art: Hugh Thornton-Jones]
  • Fay Fearless (Pages: 51-60) [Art: Claude Berridge]
  • Call Me Cupid! (Pages: 61-66) [Art: Geoffrey Whittam]
  • Babyface Bobbie (Pages: 67-71)
  • The Secret Life of Hateful Hattie (Pages: 72-78) [Art: Len Potts]
  • The Girl with the Smile (Pages: 87-92) [Art: “B Jackson”]
  • Tennis Chimp (Pages: 97-104)
  • Little Auntie Annie (Pages: 106-110) [Art: George Parlett]
  • A Friend for Freda (Pages: 115-120)
  • Pat’s Cats (Pages: 121)
  • The Slave Girls (Pages: 122-125)

Text Stories

  • What’s Cooking? (Pages: 22-23)
  • The Lonely Lapwing (Pages: 45-48)
  • Misfortune Manor (Pages: 81-86)
  • Lanky Liz (Pages: 94-96)
  • One Jump Forward (Pages: 111-112)

Features

  • Contents (Pages: 4-5)
  • The Mandy Method to Make Your Own Rubber Stamp (Pages: 28)
  • The Mandy Method to Make an Almost-Human Puppet (Page: 37)
  • Mandy Calendar for 1976 (Pages: 49-50, 79-80, 113-114)
  • The Mandy Method to Make a Jumping Bean (Page: 93)
  • The Mandy Method to Make a Magic Slate (Page: 105)

Mandy Annual 1979

Picture Stories

  • The Double Life of Julie-Ellen (Pages: 4-9) [Art: Tom Hurst]
  • Angel (Pages: 10-17) [Art: Dudley Wynne]
  • Collector Kate (Pages: 18-19)
  • My Brother- Rex! (Pages: 20-25) [Art: Wilf Street]
  • Hilary of the Happy Bus (Pages: 27-32) [Art: Geoffrey Whittam]
  • The Samsons Stick Together [4 parts] (Pages: 34-39, 61-64, 85-90, 104-111) [Art: Hugh Thornton-Jones]
  • Stella Starr- Redcoat from Space (Pages: 43-48) [Art: Rodney Sutton]
  • It’s A Dare! (Pages: 50-56) [Art: Richard Neillands]
  • “Hands Off My Dad!” (Pages: 65-70) [Art: Claude Berridge]
  • Charmette (Pages: 72-75) [Art: Wilf Street]
  • Wendy the Winner (Pages: 76-79) [Art: Andy Tew]
  • Lazy Lizzie (Pages: 80)
  • Toni and the Time Trigger (Pages: 92-96)
  • Penny of P.A.W.S (Pages: 97-101)
  • Beth of Battle Harbour (Pages: 113-120)
  • The Whispering Shell (Pages: 121-126) [Art: Robert MacGillivray]

Text Stories

  • A Gift for Gran (Pages: 40-41)  [Art: George Martin]
  • Marie Claire’s Holiday Diary (Pages: 58-60)
  • The Story of Sam (Pages: 81-83)
  • Boy Trouble (Pages: 102-103) [Art: Claude Berridge]

Features

  • Circus Puzzle Page (Pages: 33)
  • Good Dog! (Pages: 42)
  • How to Make a Calendar Tree (Pages: 57)
  • Hands Up! (Pages: 91)
  • Paper Sculpture (Pages: 112)

 

  • Grim Warning: Vain Jane (Pages: 26)
  • Grim Warning: Disc Din (Pages: 49)
  • Grim Warning: TV Topic (Pages: 71)
  • Grim Warning: Quiet, Please! (Pages: 84)
  • Grim Warning: Late Kate (Pages: 127)

Mandy Annual 1977

Picture Stories

  • A Tale of Two Sisters (Pages: 6-9) [Art: Richard Neillands]
  • The Secret Nurse (Pages: 11-16) [Art: “B Jackson”]
  • Captive of Castle Grimm [4 parts] (Pages: 17-22, 49-53, 76-79, 106-112) [Art: Andrew Wilson]
  • Wedding of the Week (Pages: 24-29)
  • Dottie and Her Dad (Pages: 32)
  • A Cat for Christmas (Pages: 33-41) [Art: Robert Hamilton]
  • “Call Me Cupid!” (Pages: 43-48) [Art: Geoffrey Whittam]
  • Belle Bonebrane- Insecurity Agent (Pages: 55-60) [Art: Wilf Street]
  • Polly the Poet (Pages: 64)
  • Little Auntie Annie (Pages: 66-73) [Art: George Parlett]
  • Nancy the Knitwit (Pages: 80)
  • The Slave Girls (Pages: 81-86)
  • Fay Fearless (Pages: 87-96) [Art: Claude Berridge]
  • Ellen of Elmwood Farm (Pages: 100-105) [Art: Len Potts]
  • Bonnie and her Boy-Friend (Pages: 114-117) [Art: Tom Hurst]
  • Rent-A-Face from Rosie (Pages: 118-125) [Art: Guy Peeters]

Text Stories

  • The Lame Mare (Pages: 30-32)
  • Keep the Head! (Pages: 61-63)
  • The Hair Piece (Pages: 74-75)
  • A Dog’s Life! (Pages: 97-99) [Art: Claude Berridge]

Features

  • The Months in Rhyme [2 parts] (Pages: 2-3, 126-127)
  • How to Make a Piggy Bank (Pages: 10)
  • Mandy’s Puzzle Page (Pages: 23)
  • String Pictures (Pages: 42)
  • The Name of the Game is Ping-Pong (Pages: 54)
  • The Honest Truth- About You! (Pages: 65)
  • Sea Shore Sculpture (Pages: 113)

Mandy 1981

In this annual there are 12 picture stories, 5 text stories and 6 features.

A common feature for Mandy annuals is to have a long picture story split throughout the book. In this annual there is one story that totals 36 pages and is split into 4 parts. The rest of the comic strips have a range of 3 to 11 pages.

There doesn’t seem to be as much variety as other annuals. The majority of stories are based on regular characters from the weekly comic such as “Stella Starr” and “Hilary of the Happy Bus”.  The features are all quiz based features, each quiz has a theme. For more details read on… (For just a list of contents click here)

Picture Stories

A Wedding for Wilma   (Pages: 4-9)

Fran is looking for a husband for her elder sister. For what purpose… to quote Fran “If only I could find her a husband to take her away from housework sometimes” Yep not so the husband can help her out but so he can take her away from it sometimes. Really, if that is her worry why doesn’t Fran help her out some time?

Considering this is 1981 annual, Fran’s character seems to be oblivious to any feminist movement.  While I don’t think its necessarily a bad thing to have a variety of  characters, and not everyone has to be the sensible strong feminist but I think this seems to be a common theme in this annual.  There seems to be a lack of  characters to contrast the less feminist  Fran.

Fran tries to set Wilma up with her gymnastics instructor Tim because he has the great husband qualities of being “ strong and handsome”. She tries to start their “courtship” off by giving them opportunities to spend time together. I question if  a 13ish old girl  be using the word “courtship” in the 80s.  Meanwhile  Wilma seems quite capable of making a play for Tim without help from Fran (Go Wilma!).

m81_a_wedding_for_wilma_01-640x568

Unfortunately Tim is fitness freak and his idea of dates is getting her to watch him play football and as she’s so supportive he brings her the teams strips to wash. He also decides to get the girls training for football and a romantic trip on the river turns into skull training for Wilma until she tells him where  to shove it.  Wilma is actually a good role model in a lot of way. She doesn’t hesitate in considering Tim as a potential boyfriend, but at the same time isn’t dependent on him for happiness and knows when to get out the relationship.

 

“That’s Not My Gran”   (Pages: 11-16/33-44/81-90/120-126)

  • Artist: Claude Berridge

This is the 4 part complete new story. Jenny goes to visit her gran’s grave. While she’s there a storm blows up and she is knocked out by a branch and doesn’t see a ball of lightning in the sky. She wakes up and goes home and discovers her gran is alive. Which is kind of a creepy premise. Suddenly Gran is back from the dead, not as some zombie but as a mean lady who likes to kick fluffy cute lambs or poor cats.

   

So this makes Jenny suspicious.  Well that and the fact she is the only one that remembers her gran dying in the first place. Gran’s strange behaviour extends to cheating at a cake competition, deciding she wants a driving licence and nearly runs over a guide dog (she really has it in for animals!) and slamming her other granddaughter’s hand in the car boot.

But nobody else seems to notice Grans obvious evilness. Throughout the four parts the big mystery builds up, not only her strange behaviour but gran seems to be able to make people forget things when she looks in their eyes and she doesn’t show up in photographs. Jenny being suspicious of all this strangeness discovers that her “Gran” is  actually an alien.

She overhears Gran talking over radio about wheter earth is suitable. It is never actually states what they want Earth to be suitable for but presumably it’s the traditional Alien takeover scheme.  As a powerful alien though I don’t know where the thought process was that the best human form to take  was  that of a previously deceased gran! Luckily the alien accidentally disintegrates itself when it is attacked by a blind man. The aliens not getting their final data about earth presume it’s not suitable for a takeover and everyone forgets about fake gran again (except for Jenny). Alien plots like this are quite common, but what is less common is using an elderly person as often children or teens were used in some manner.

 

The Living Lie of Linda   (Pages: 22-32)

Linda is in a wheelchair after an accident. She is making progress learning to walk again when she overhears her father talking to a woman on the phone saying he can’t leave until Linda’s better. Linda jumps to the conclusion he is having an affair and decides the healthiest way to deal with this is to pretend that she still can’t walk so the father will have to stay with the family against his will.

When she’s out swimming another girl gets into trouble and Linda goes to rescue her so the family discover she can use her legs. It turns out the father was talking to his new boss’s wife about a job offer he wasn’t going to take until Linda was recovered.

While the story is fairly average, I do really like the different angles the artist used in this story its nice to see some experimentation.

 

Lucy’s Locket   (Pages: 45-48)

Art: George Martin

Lucy has a magical locket that brings bad luck to whoever’s photo is in the locket. So you’d think a magical object like that should be kept safe.  Lucy thinks its fine to let her little sister play around with the locket and wear it around. When her sister, Ruth, is conned by some market sellers into exchanging the locket for two cheap lockets, Lucy has to figure a way of getting it back.

Luckily for her she doesn’t have to do much because the con woman puts a photo of herself and her husband in the locket. So after a string of bad luck Lucy is able to get the locket back.

Stars in her Eyes   (Pages: 52-55)

Art: Richard Neillands

Karen is a girl who thinks horoscopes are a guide for life. When her horoscope for the week says she should take a chance on going someplace different but over-tiredness may ruin the day, she decides she can’t turn down any opportunity. So she agrees to go on a school trip, a youth club trip, help at a jumble sale and go to a disco all on the one day. At each trip she also has a different boy that she agrees to dance with at the disco. She tries not to tire herself out at any of the events, such as skipping the tidy up at the jumble sale, so she will have enough energy at the disco. Of course the three boys have been picking up her slack all day so they end up falling asleep at the disco, so Karen has no-one to dance with anyway!

 

Blind Ben’s White Christmas   (Pages: 57-64)

I am an animal lover so I did feel for the dog in this story. Ben is the family dog on a farm and he is losing his sight. The family of course just let him retire inside the house. Jill’s aunt comes to stay with the family and disrupts everything. She moves furniture around so Ben gets confused and then when Ben is just lying down asleep she blames him when she trips over him. She also insists that he should be put down.  I definitely would have told that aunt where to go!

Ben ends up being moved back outside in the snow. Then the aunt goes wandering off in the snow and slips hurting her leg. She would have probably froze to death only for Ben sniffing her out. The aunt apologises to Ben and the family, so everyone has a happy Christmas. I know the drama and conflict has to come from some place, but I really don’t see why the family would even consider putting Ben down because of the aunt’s suggestion. It’s already established other than not being able to see, Ben isn’t in pain and nobody is happy about aunt coming to stay in the first place so why would they be taking her advice!