Tag Archives: Guy Peeters

Amy Beckett Says… [1993]

  • Amy Beckett Says… –  M&J:  #104 (8 May 1993) – #112 (10 July 1993)
  • Artist: Guy Peeters

Plot

After a bulldozer accidentally knocks against the the old entrance archway of the school, friends Fay Davis and Karen Green, notice some strange things happening. Fay feels an eerie chill when passing the entrance way and then some younger school kids start singing a skipping rhyme “Amy Beckett, now she’s free says come on girls and dance with me!”. A prefect, Jane, clears the young girls for making too much noise, later that day their skipping song changes to “Amy Beckett sees it all. Watch out when the oak leaves fall!”.  Fay and Karen don’t think the words make much sense as all the Autumn leaves have already fallen. Then Jane has a lucky escape when Fay saves her from a falling stone. Jane is clearly shaken, but the girls reason that it most have come loose when the bulldozer knocked against it. Fay notices a pattern of oak leaves on the stone, they put it down to a strange coincidence, though they don’t hear the girls now singing “Amy Beckett see it all and she KNEW the leaves would fall!”

The next day after a workman tells the skipping girls to move out of the way, the rhyme changes again, referencing the classic ‘ring-a-ring o’ roses’ nursery song. Fay, who still thinks something strange is going on, is worried when the workmen are planting a rose garden, that the rhyme is referencing it but is temporarily placated when nothing bad happens. She later realises when a builder sneezes and causes some bricks from a pulley to fall down injuring a workman, that she was right something bad would happen just not right in what the song referenced. Karen has also come around to the idea that the girls singing is a threat. Fay and Karen decide to talk to one the young girls they know, Annie, but she claims she doesn’t know any skipping rhymes. Karen theorises the girls are in some kind of trance while singing and don’t remember anything. But their questions have made them targets, the skipping girls surround them singing them to sleep and  in their dreams the ghost of Amy Beckett appears warning them not to interfere.

The girls are not deterred and decide to find out who Amy Beckett was, but when they try to look things up in the library, the reference cards start flying everywhere. They do manage to get a lead on some local history books that may be of use and the librarian tells them they are out on loan to an ex-teacher of their school. The skipping girls are keeping a watch on Fay and Karen, and when they try to go to Mrs Wilkins the next day, they are surrounded by fog, eventually they get to her house. Mrs Wilkins says she is writing a book about the school and shows them her notes, but the notes just repeat the same rhyme “Amy Beckett, now she’s free says come on girls and dance with me!”.  Then her granddaughter arrives it is one of the skipping girls, they find themselves surrounded as they sing “Amy says What is the fuss? Mrs Wilkins is with us!”. As the girls get away from the house, they have some luck when they find the history books in the rubbish bin outside.

At a cafe, when reading though the books Fay comes across a story about a tragedy at the school, but then it appears the book goes on fire. She douses it in water, but Karen didn’t see any flames. The cafe owner accuses them of vandalism and says she will return the books to library herself. We start to get hints of what could of happened to Amy, through the illusions and new rhymes. The girls sing “Everybody in this town says Amy Beckett burns things down!” then at the school the girls see flames they can’t be sure if its another illusion and sound the fire alarm. Annie has set them up to be caught by a teacher as there isn’t a fire. They are given detention to write ten thousand lines saying “Amy Beckett never was bad. But no-one believes her isn’t that sad?”. The lines are magically done, and they are told to give the sheets around the town. Mrs Wilkins is upset by the sheets, claiming it is all lies.More illusions show a newspaper saying “Amy Beckett is innocent” and fire caused by other girl before changing back to normal headline. We are given more information when the skipping girls new rhyme is “Amy didn’t start the fire  – Enid Armstrong is the liar”

Determined to get to the truth, Karen asks her dad who works for local newspaper if they can look at their records. While driving to office, Amy Beckett beckons Mrs Wilkins to step out in front of car, luckily  Mr Green stops just in time, he takes Mrs Wilkins home while Fay and Karen go on to the office. While they aren’t having luck finding information on fire, Karen finds an interesting wedding notice for local teacher Enid Armstrong marrying Ken Willkins. The girls figure out through what they heard in the rhymes and what they  saw on the fake newspaper that Mrs Wilkins was responsible for the fire and now Amy is out for revenge. The girls track down Mrs Wilkins but Amy has got to her first, hypnotising her and leading her to top of the school roof. Amy is about to get Mrs Wilkins to walk off the roof, but at last second has a change of mind and stops her and lets her go free. Mrs Wilkins confesses to starting the fire and blaming Amy who had died saving her. With the truth out the new school extension is named after Amy, to honour her and her ghost can now be at peace.

Thoughts

This was an effective creepy ghost story, the young girls skipping chant makes for an unsettling atmosphere, that sticks in your mind. While the story starts off, with Amy Beckett seeming to have no purpose but to cause trouble, later we find out more about her tragedy. As a ghost she seems quite conflicted, she wants revenge on Mrs Wilkins and wants to stop the girls investigating, but she also wants the truth to be known. At first she is an angry spirit, causing potentially deadly accidents to the prefect and workman for trying to stop the skipping girls, but she just warns off Fay and Karen and later only tries to cause the true fire culprit, Mrs Wilkins, harm. She tries to stop Fay and Karen in their research but then also starts to show them what happened by the false newspaper headline and tries to spread the truth by getting them to pass out papers saying she wasn’t bad. She comes close to taking full revenge on Mrs Wilkins, but as we know in life  Amy was a heroic person, it seems as a ghost she still has some of those qualities in her and can’t bring herself to go through with it. Which is good as she finds the truth is what sets her free not revenge.

While the girls own investigations are often disrupted like in the library and cafe, their biggest clues come from the rhymes and illusions that Amy shows them. It’s interesting that the biggest revelation they find themselves is not about a fire but a wedding notice. I thought that was a nice twist, rather than finding an article detailing a fire that we could figure out from what had happened from what been shown in the story but instead tying the importance of Mrs Wilkins to Amy’s revenge plot. Up to this point Mrs Wilkins could have just been targeted just because she was writing a book about the school, but we learn it is much worse. She started the fire, although we are not given a reason or whether it was on purpose or an accident, Mrs Wilkins was worried about getting in trouble and then blamed the girl who had died saving her. We don’t know what the consequences for her will be, but if she felt guilt over the years maybe now her conscience can be put to rest as well.

The other thing I noticed on this read is perhaps a sneaky reference to another ghost story The Shining where  in the film Jack’s draft of his book repeats the old proverb “All Work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” in this Mrs Wilkins notes repeat the Amy Beckett rhyme. While there have been other evil influence ghost stories, I do find the repeating rhymes, the mystery and that Amy Beckett wasn’t all evil makes it stand out from some others. It is a good read for Halloween and the resolution of the story, with the truth finally coming to light and Amy finding peace, was satisfying.

 

The Dream Machine

Plot

Tracy Jones had gone downstairs in the middle of the night to find the TV switched on to a strange weekly gameshow called “Heart’s Desire”. She found herself transported to the studio as a contestant. She was given tasks to do in the real world such as getting tickets for a concert and to bring it back to show the next week in order to win keys and progress to the next stage of the contest.

Notes

  • Art: Guy Peeters

Appeared

  • The Dream Machine – Judy: #1607 (27 October 1990) – #1622 (9 February 1991)

Skeleton Corner

  • Hallowe’en Story – Judy: #1555 (28 October 1989)
  • The Girl From Further Down – Judy: #1607 (27 October 1990)
  • Tales from Skeleton Corner – Judy: #1632 (20 April 1991) – #1635 (11 May 1991)
  • Tales from Skeleton Corner –  M&J: #11 (27 July 1991) – #41 (22 February 1992)
  • Skeleton Corner  – M&J:  #48 (11 April 1992) – #98 (27 March 1993) [not in every issue]
  • Skeleton Corner  – M&J:  #101 (17 April 1993) – #115 (25 July 1993) [no episode issue #102, #111, #112]
  • Skeleton Corner  – M&J: #129 (30 Oct. 1993)- #194 (28 Jan. 1995) [not in every issue]
  • Artist: Guy Peeters (Judy #1607, JudyAnn93)
  • Artist: Oliver Passingham (Judy: 1632-1635, M&J: 11-41, 48, 50, 52, 58-59,61-63, 65-66, 69, 72, 77, 85-86, 91-92, 98, 101, 103-110,113-115, 122, MandyAnn94)
  • Artist 2: Mike Dorey (M&J: 129-141, 143, 150, 153, 158, 163, 171, 173, 191-194, MandyAnn95)

This is an updated repost of a previous entry (10 years ago!), as I’ve re-read more stories and learned new information.

Plot

There wasn’t an ongoing plot, instead a skeleton, named Bones, introduces short scary stories, sometimes with a moral attached. It was usually 2 to 3 pages long. The stories varied from greedy girls getting what they deserved to innocent people being hassled by gremlins! A few stories focused on Bones and also had him interact with characters and influence outcomes.

Origins

The spooky storyteller was a common appearance in these comics, most famously the Man in Black in Diana and Damian Darke in Spellbound, this story would take the spookiness one step further with a skeleton narrating the tales. The story that would become known as Skeleton Corner, had a quieter beginning then others though, first appearing in a one-off story aptly called Hallowe’en Story in Judy issue 1555 (28 October 1989), a skeleton tells the tale of a poor girl in Victorian London, who gets a much needed job as a sculptor’s model. The sculptor emphasises the importance of being punctual and she is even when it is later discovered that before the last sitting, she was killed! This is a story that I believe was originally a Damian Darke story, though I can’t find the exact issue right now. The Skeleton returned again the following Halloween in issue 1607 with another story The Girl From Further Down. At this point the skeleton has not been named as Bones or there is not mention of Skeleton Corner. Then in issue 1631 (13 April 1991) there is an advertisement for the upcoming issue with the Skeleton saying “Hi girls – it’s me again” and talking about the story Flower Power that will appear in the next issue. From issue 1632 to Judy’s last issue  in 1635, the stories appeared with their own title with the caption “Tales from Skeleton Corner” beneath it. When the stories continued in the Mandy & Judy magazines it followed this format, until issue 59 when the individual titles were dropped and it just became known as Skeleton Corner.

Stories

Comics like Misty and Jinty were better known for their spooky stories, but there was still room for these kind of stories in other comics too.  Skeleton Corner was a bit of a softer approach, to the IPC comics but there were still some gems of stories featured. The storytelling skeleton, Bones, while he may appear scary he didn’t have a creepy personality, he was presented as a more as a friendly person who just happened to be a skeleton. He did set the tone well for the stories, as being a supernatural character that was possibly creepy but not overly disturbing!

There were two main artists for its run Oliver Passingham and Mike Dorey. Guy Peeters also did an early story and some of the annual stories. Whoever was on drawing duties always did a good job, I am a fan of both artists though I think Dorey had an edge on creating a darker tone.

The stories themselves varied and of course being short stories they were sometimes they were limited with the space to work with. Often the stories had a girl who was greedy, selfish or ignored the rules getting a fitting punishment. Other times the main character could be a nice person, who just had the bad luck to move into the wrong house or meet the wrong person. Some of the more effective scary stories were when the ending was left ambiguous with Bones only hinting at what may have happened. There are stories that could leave you quite unnerved, so it had a good mix, of the truly spooky and the stories that were lighter or had more happier endings.

Here’s a selection of some of my favourite stories in publication order rather than a ranking:

 

  1. Watching You! – Judy: #1635 (Art: Oliver Passingham)

Becky Brown keeps seeing a sad figure of a girl in her neighbour’s house which is currently being built. She finally goes to investigate and finds a paint splattered dungarees, which she figures flapping in the breeze was creating an illusion of a figure… but then she turns to see the figure in her own bedroom window. A nice build up as we see Becky get the courage to explore the other house and just when there seems to be a rational explanation, the twist of the figure now appearing in her own bedroom is well done.

  1. What’s in a Name?– M&J: #14 (Art: Oliver Passingham)

Sonia is writing a story for a competition, she decides to make it a romantic story and names the protagonist Pippa Gale. She is surprised when her brother starts dating a girl named Pippa Gale, even more surprising is Pippa has also entered the competition and named her protagonist Sonia Steel. While Sonia and her brother laugh at the coincidence, Sonia doesn’t tell them she is worried as her story is called “The Tragedy of Sonia Steel”

  1. The Longest Night – M&J: #38 (Art: Oliver Passingham)

Rachel’s brother Jon keeps having nightmares about it being dark forever, their gran says it reminds her of a legend of battle between light and dark. When the electricity goes out Jon lights a candle to keep away the dark but nearly starts a fire. They put the candle out, but in the morning it seems there was truth in the story as now darkness has won because there is no light!

  1. Wake Me Up! – M&J: #50

Lucy Kemp is determined to stay awake so she can greet her dad when he returns late from a long business trip away. She thinks keeping herself scared will help. She tries to read Skeleton Corner from her M&J mag to help, but then says Bones is not that scary. Bones shows up to try and prove her wrong but she only laughs at him! While Bones interacting with the characters, or having his own stories were not always the most compelling, this is a fun little meta story!

  1. Skeleton Corner – M&J: #108 (Art: Oliver Passingham)

Jo Johnson and her friend Emma are stuck waiting at a bus stop, so the begin playing a prize giving arcade game called Aladdin’s Cave. They win a brooch at first and are surprised when their money is also returned. They continue doing this for a while, but Emma begins to get nervous she worries that something is wrong that the goods might be stolen and that something’s not right with the game and leaves. Jo continues but then the machine starts to shake and all the prizes help form a large frightening genie. A case of greediness being punished!

   

  1. Bargain Basement! – Mandy Annual 1994 (Art: Oliver Passingham)

Carrie works part time at a department store Dinnegans. She is excited about the Christmas party, but it turns out to be quite boring with an old fashioned band. She is about to leave when she hears music coming from the basement. She finds a party much more to her liking and a good looking guy asks her to dance.  For some reason she isn’t put off by his enigmatic way of talking, even when she is the one that gives him his name Mark.

Mark is disappointed when Carrie leaves, but says they can meet at next years party. The next day Carrie mentions to another employee, that she joined the other Christmas party. She tells her there was no other party. Carrie investigates the basement and gets nervous when it is filled with dusty mannequins, she trips dropping her pen. She is jumpy the rest of the day, and is shocked to find Mark a mannequin set up for a new office display. She thinks she may have imagined it all, when she spots her pen beside Mark and a note “See you at the party next year”. Bones finishes the story by telling us readers that Carrie has decided to leave her job, so there’s a vacancy if anyone is interested, they have great Christmas parties! This is one of the stories that I always remembered, there can be something very creepy about mannequins and though they don’t threaten Carrie, it still has the right amount of scariness, to think of objects watching you and coming to life.

 

  1. Skeleton Corner – M&J #129 (Art: Mike Dorey)

Deanne and Emma are on school trip to a wood which has unusual branch sculptures. Emma is rude to the creator of the sculptures and when Emma and Deanne sneak away from the group they are horrified when Emma is turned into sculpture herself. This is one of the more horrific stories told in Skeleton Corner, with some body horror included, while Emma has not acted nicely the punishment hardly seems fitting to the crime and the art really captures it well.

 

  1. Skeleton Corner – M&J:  #140 (Art: Mike Dorey)

Sally Townsand is a late comer to her new boarding school, so she is given a single room that isn’t normally used. Sally doesn’t like an old faded picture of gates hanging up and is going to take it down, but the housekeeper insists it must always stay there.

Sally takes it down later anyway, she notices a crack in the wall but figures her poster can hide it just as well. That night she is woken up by knocking and tearing noises coming from the wall. Bits of plaster start to fall off. She runs to get the housekeeper who place the picture back up and tells her as long as its there nothing can get through. Bones ends the story by explaining that gates are used to keep things in as well as out. A disturbing tale as the reader is let to wonder what is the gate keeping in, though luckily for Sally she doesn’t find out!

 

 

  1. Skeleton Corner – M&J:  #141 (Art: Mike Dorey)

Rachel Gunn and her family move into a new house, they are quite happy and she settles in quickly at her new school. Her younger brother tells her how the previous family disappeared. Soon after Gary starts disappearing and reappearing.

Rachel thinks its Gary playing tricks on her, until it happens with her parents as well. She wakes up one morning and there is no trace of her family, though the car is still in the driveway. Feeling scared she rings the police. The police arrive but there is no sign of Rachel and they discuss how its strange that the same thing happened to the previous family, but its not like people vanish into thin air! This has a nice bit of a build up for a short story and it’s made even creepier when these things are left unexplained.

 

  1. Skeleton Corner – #191

On a school trip Amy is not pleased to be roomed with wimpy Debra. She is kept awake all night by Debra claiming she hears noises and turning on a torch. The next night Amy hears the noise as well and asks Debra to pass the torch. She is handed the torch but as she turns on torch, Debra walks into room with teacher she had gone to fetch, so who handed Amy the torch! Again the right amount of creepiness while the presence in the room doesn’t seem malicious it is little disturbing to think there is some unknown entity in the dark!

Final Thoughts

It was not a new concept to have a spooky storyteller telling stories, The Man in Black (Diana), Damian Darke (Spellbound) and Gipsy Rose (Jinty) all scared readers and taught them lessons weekly. Skeleton Corner was the last of these type of stories that continued this tradition and was successful in having a long enjoyable run of stories.

The next page has a full list of stories that appeared.

Mandy Stories for Girls 1992

The Mandy annual was always very story focused, this is another annual with no features  or articles just text and picture stories. This is also one of the books I had when I was younger and read many times, so these stories have a special place for me, although I think they all hold up well in their own right without the nostalgia attached.

Mandy took advantage of telling longer stories in parts over the annual and the Red Box of Destiny is certainly a memorable one. Most of the stories are one-offs for the annual but there are a few regular characters Valda, Picture-Book Polly, Attractive Angie and of course Mandy & Patch all show up. (For just a list of contents go to the next page)

Picture Stories

The Red Box of Destiny (Pages: 4-12, 49-55, 73-80, 113-125)

A story in 4 parts, the first 3 parts each tell a different story of a girl in trouble who each end up using an old telephone box and in the final part the girls are all enlisted to help in a campaign to save the box and it saves them in the process.

First we have Carrie, an orphan, she lives with her abusive Uncle, Aunt and cousins. When her Aunt Edna allows her to keep a stray puppy, she should have known there was a catch. They only let her have Jasper the puppy as another means of controlling her. Aunt Edna wasn’t happy when Carrie stood up to her cousin about taking her locket but by using Jasper now Carrie is completely powerless. When a new girl joins at school, Carrie knows she can’t give her home number but then she remembers the Red Box’s number and gives her that. Carrie asks Jilly to call when she knows she will be out running errands, she is desperate to hear a friendly voice. The next girl, Kelly, is a promising dancer, her parents take on extra work so she has a chance at a prestigious dance school, but the car crashes on the way to the audition leaving Kelly’s legs permanently damaged. She becomes very bitter about it and blames her parents for it. She stops at the phone box to ring for a lift home and makes her mother feel guilty when she implies Kelly could manage to make it the rest of the small journey home. Finally we have Rama a talented musician but her father wants her to help with the family business, a restaurant, when she leaves school. He believes she shouldn’t spend so much time on music. Rama uses the phone box to ring her teacher and say she will play in a festival behind her father’s back, but then has a dilemma when her father wants Rama to work the same day to help impress a food critic.

In the last part the community start a campaign when red box is to be torn down. When she is approached, Aunt Edna volunteers Carrie  to help. An overworked Carrie collapses on the way home with shopping one day. Once she is inside they start to abuse her, but luckily Jilly and her mother arrive just in time to stop them. They had noticed the number Carrie gave Jilly was the red box number, that along with some other instances made them suspicious to check up on her. They bring Carrie and Jasper to stay in their home. Kelly meanwhile only goes to the campaign talk so she can inconvenience her parents. There she meets David, a boy in wheelchair, he has a bone disease, but he doesn’t feel sorry for himself, he is very enthusiastic and volunteers him and Kelly’s services. He suddenly takes a turn for the worse and dies but Kelly changes her ways and decides to follow his example and not be bitter about how life changed for her. Rama’s father finds out about festival and forbids her from going. They go to meeting and he is fine for Rama to sing to draw attention to the red box. He says he doesn’t mind her singing as hobby he just doesn’t want her taking it seriously. She does well singing for the campaign and people make him realise her talent. He agrees she can go to music school but has to still learn about business if music career doesn’t work out. The last panel of the story has the girls each thanking the box for changing their lives for the better.

It is a heart-wrenching story, Carrie and her dog are cruelly mistreated by her family. Kelly has her dreams shattered and then her new friend dies. Rama doesn’t have it as bad, but still family problems are not easy to cope with and like Kelly, she feels her dreams being taken away. Rama is a bit more sympathetic than Kelly too. Even before the accident she doesn’t seem to appreciate her parents working extra shifts to pay for her school and complains when her dad is running late for the audition. Because she is so worked up, she distracts her father while driving and while I don’t think she is deserving of her fate, her parents definitely don’t deserve her bitterness directed at her. It is nice that David showed her the error of her ways but again sad that he died so young.

Rama and her dad have different viewpoints and story could easily have painted him as the villain but we see that he cares about her. He wants her to work in restaurant but worries when she seems overworked, and he doesn’t ban music completely, he just is cautious of the fickleness of the music business.  He comes to a good compromise in the end so Rama can follow her dream but still have something to fall back on.

Mum’s Secret (Pages: 13-16)

Writer: Alison (Christie) Fitt

When a new neighbour moves in that is known to be a ladies man, and Jane sees her mum going into his house, when she said she was going to the shop, she starts thinking they are having an affair. She thinks her mum will leave the family, but it turns out the man is a painter and mum has being going over to  his to get her portrait painted in secret as a surprise for father’s birthday.

Valda and the Burning of Barthol  (Pages: 17-24)

[Art: Dudley Wynne]

This classic Mandy character appeared in many annuals, here Valda comes across a town of Barthol and burning of effigy of  Richard Bartholomew. It seems a professor of history has reinstated an old village costum of “The Burning of Barthol”. This upsets Richard’s ancestor greatly especially as other villagers have been mean to her saying Richard burnt out villagers because they couldn’t pay rent. Valda sets the history straight about the man, when she leads the villagers to a hidden document. In Richards’ time a plague broke out and with the help of a mysterious girl they crossed ravine to build new settlement. Richard then burnt the village and his castle to stop the plague spreading. With the truth now known Valda leave, though the professor and villagers have many questions about how she knew such things.

Down with Boys (Pages: 25-32)

Writer: Alison (Christie) Fitt, Art: Carmen Barbara

Best friends, Jane and Polly make a pact to not get distracted by boys for Valentines Day, but when Neil starts paying attention to both of them, they end up playing dirty tricks on each other to win his favour. Such as Polly throwing away Jane’s valentine’s card for Neil, and Jane sending lots of cards out in Polly’s name. They eventually find out Neil was using them, so they would help set up a disco for him and he already has a girlfriend. After that they revert back to their original sentiment of down with boys!

Who is Sylvie? (Pages: 35-45)

Art: Andrew Wilson

Rachel thinks there is something mysterious about the new girl, Sylvie.  Although Rachel becomes friends with her she notices somethings she says doesn’t add up, like where she said she went to school previously. Also the teachers seem to let her get away with things other pupils wouldn’t be able to. Despite being a good singer and dancer, Sylvie claims to be stage shy and says she can’t help out in concert to raise money for school pool. Then it turns out her secret is she is a tv star trying to live normal life. Everyone is surprised and even more pleased when a change in her contract means she can now perform in public and help raise money for school.

Picture-Story Polly (Pages: 46-48)

Art: Tom Hurst

Polly tries to copy the picture-stories she reads in her magazine “Candy”. In this story she tries to be like “Olympic Olga” a girl who never gave up and won a gold medal.  Polly tries out some sports but finds out she is better as just a spectator.

The Lucky Locket  (Pages: 56-64)

Art: Guy Peeters

In Victorian times, Charlotte receives a locket on her last day in orphanage, from one of the workers, Harriet. She tells Charlotte it was wrapped in her baby shawl, when she found her on the doorstep.Charlotte then goes to work in a grand house as a scullery maid but the rest of the staff are not kind to her. When one of the other maids spies her pretending to be a lady, they are even more cruel and mocking. She does make one friend, Hugh, the stable-boy,  so when his sister falls ill, she decides to sell her precious locket to help. But one of the other maids follow her and accuses her of theft. Harriet has died so noone can collaborate her story, that the locket belongs to her and she goes to jail. After a few weeks an old French lady arrives and seeing a birthmark confirms that Charlotte is her grandaughter. It seems her mother had run off and got married to man whom they didn’t approve of. They fell on hard times when he died and soon after giving Charlotte up, her mother died too. Her Grandmother helps Hugh’s sister and is to bring her back to France, she no longer has to pretend to be a lady.

Under Her Spell?  (Pages: 65-72)

Art: Wilf Street

Jenny’s mother is researching the family tree and believe they descendants of a witch, Lizzie Blount. Then some things happen that makes Lizzie’s friends think she has witchy qualities. Lizzie embraces it and tries to make a spell to win a writing contest. She does win the contest, then her mum says she has made a mistake they are not related to witch but a writer,, Eliza Blunt. Lizzie isn’t disappointed though, she is happy it is her own talent and not  a spell that let her win.

Come to My Party! (Pages: 83-93)

Writer: Alison (Christie) Fitt, Art: Terry Aspin

Best friends Kim and Laura share the same birthday. They both want to have a special 13th birthday party on the actual day. Neither will back down and they play tricks on each other so friends will come to one of the partys. On the day of  her birthday Kim is upset it seems everyone has chosen Laura’s party. Her parents take her out and she finds out that instead their friends come together with their parents to throw joint surprise party.

Attractive Angie (Pages: 94-96)

Art: Giorgio Letteri

A strange lotion had made Angie Agams magnetic which caused her lots of problems. It is particularly bad when she is feeling bothered, which is the case at the fair, where she attracts coins from the wishing well and accidentally launches a pie at someone. Her powers come in useful when she stops some thieves and she is able to relax and enjoy rest of her day.

Storm Horse (Pages: 99-110)

Art: Veronica Weir

Kylie is out riding with her horse, Heather, when they get caught in a storm and slip down an embankment. A mysterious grey horse appears and leads them to safety, then disappears. Kylie tries and track him down, she finds him and after freeing him from some wire he does grow to trust her but always disappears when someone else is nearby. Then he warns her of the nearby dam breaking and she raises the alarm for the village. She doesn’t see him again but Heather gives birth to foal which Kylie names Storm, proof that the magical horse was real.

Mandy and Patch  (Pages: 126-127)

Art: Claude Berridge

Mandy looks through a book to figure out Patch’s breed. He doesn’t seem to match with any but she doesn’t care as he’s still the best friend a girl can have.

Text Stories

Each of the text stories have a subtitle with the name of person who is telling the story.

Losing Lucy – Carol’s story (Pages: 33-34)

Writer: Alison (Christie) Fitt, Spot Art: Leslie Branton

Carol meets a fortune teller who tells her she will lose her best friend to the water. Carol is horrified by the thought, so she tries to teach her friend Lucy to swim. At first she takes persuading but then she succeeds so well that Lucy becomes a competitive champion and she doesn’t have as much time for friends. Watching her at one of her competitions she realises she did lose Lucy to the water, just not in the terrible way she thought. It’s a nice play on words, the twist of the fortune teller fortune coming true and Carol leads it to come true y trying to prevent it.

In The Bag – Chester’s story (Pages: 81-82)

Writer: Alison (Christie) Fitt

Chester is a monkey who is curious what women carry around in bags. He sees an opportunity to steal one, and is confused by contents and why they are so important. The daughter of the woman he stole the bag from is pleased her mom still carries a picture of her dad as he had left after a falling out. She writes Chester a thank you letter, explaining after seeing that she called her dad, he came around and her family is back together. She also sends Chester a cake as thanks. Chester doesn’t nderstand what that is all about but is very happy with his cake.

Jardine’s in a Tin – Sally’s story (Pages: 97-98)

Writer: Alison (Christie) Fitt, Spot Art: Leslie Branton

Sally and her family live in crowded council house. She is jealous of her friend Tina, an only child, who has a bedroom to herself with all the latest things. Then Tina gets a holiday home and that seems even more unfair. For the holidays the Jardines rent a caravan near where TIna will be. Sally thinks they really are Jardines in a tin, in the caravan, she is eager to visit Tina, but doesn’t know why she is so reluctant. Then Sally discovers it is not a holiday home and that Tina’s parents have separated. Tina didn’t want to admit that she is just spending weekends and holidays at her Dads. Sally realises Tina’s not so lucky after all and appreciates having her family together. Soon after holidays things improve even more for Sally as they get to top of the housing waiting list and get a 4 bed house.

Joining St. John’s – Katy’s story (Pages: 111-112)

While attending a Gilbert and Sullivan show with her mom, Katy gets the idea to join St Johns Ambulance so she can go to theatre for free. She actually finds herself really enjoying the experience and she helps an old woman feel better bu sneaking her cat in for a visit in the hospital. A  friend of the woman, appreciates what Katy has done and gives her a free theatre entry card, but Katy is so busy with St John’s that by the end of the story she still hasn’t had the chance to use it!

 

Final Thoughts

Last year I covered the Judy 1982 annual and noted there was a lot of spooky stories in that book. This book meanwhile concentrates on the more realistic dramas of life and majority of stories are set in contemporary times. Under her Spell? hints at possible supernatural elements, although in the end those are only coincidence and seems to be no magic at work, which leaves only two stories with characters that are not the average girl, Attractive Angie a character with magnetic powers and Valda the long-living character with powers and knowledge. Valda and the Burning of Barthol is a good story, as I’ve mentioned before I like Valda stories that aren’t about her competing in a sport the best. Here we get to see her in past helping a village and in the present restoring the good name of Lord Barthol. There is only one other story that is set in the past, The Lucky Locket, nicely drawn by Guy Peeters and is a classic story of poor girl not realising her rich heritage.

All the other stories are set in contemporary times and majority have themes of friendship or family. A favourite story has to be The Red Box of Destiny, as the big 4 part story it is a strong component of the annual, it brings a lot of drama and heartbreak for the characters and as a reader I certainly hoped that they would each get their happy endings. In the last part where everything comes together, one may expect the characters to interact but instead the stories are resolved separately, although you can see the other protagonists in the backgrounds of some scenes. This actually is more effective as it highlights people that we just pass by, each have their own problems that we may never know about, and also not know that one thing could touch a life in different ways.

Other favourites was Losing Lucy, I like a good twist on a fortune tellers words, and of course it was well written by Alison (Christie) Fitt who wrote many great stories including a number for Mandy Annuals in the early 1990s. Two of her other stories here Come to My Party! and Down With Boys, have similar ideas of friends playing tricks on each other to win the favour of someone but are executed quite differently, so they each have their merits. Carmen Barbara and Terry Aspin respectively each complement the story well, I don’t think if the artists were switched they would have been as effective stories, which shows how important pairings can be. Honourable mentions goes to Picture-Story Polly, just because I enjoy a meta-commentry story and a girl trying to imitate the characters from her “Candy” comic is a lot of fun, and Who is Sylvie? a small sized mystery with lovely art as always by Andrew Wilson.

Bunty Holiday Special 2000

Picture Stories

  • The Comp (Pages: 11-14) [Art: Peter Wilkes]
  • Scared! (Pages: 16-18)
  • Girls Talking (Page 22)
  • Penny’s Place (Pages: 31-33) [Art: Guy Peeters]
  • Girl Zone (Page 36) [Art: Andy Tew]
  • The Four Marys (Pages: 45-47) [Art: Jim Eldridge]

Text Stories

  • It Happened to Me… (Page 10)

Photo Stories

  • Smile, Please! (Pages: 3-5)
  • Shivers! (Pages: 37-40)

Features

  • Festival Fun! (Pages: 6-7)
  • Get Packing! (Pages: 8-9)
  • Show Time Swirl (Page 15)
  • Shades of Summer (Pages: 19-21)
  • S Club 7 Poster (Pages: 23, 26)
  • Cat Poster (Pages: 24-25)
  • On the Beach (Page 27)
  • Ice Girl! (Pages: 28-29)
  • Cool! (Page 30)
  • On Safari (Pages: 34-35)
  • Your Summer Stars (Page 41)
  • Puzzle Time! (Pages: 42-43)
  • Welcome To… (Page 44)
  • Britney Spears Poster (Page 48)

*Thanks to Goof for the information and cover picture

Bunty Holiday Special 1999

Picture Stories

  • The Four Marys (Pages: 9-11) [Art: Jim Eldridge]
  • Bugsy (Page 16)
  • Girls Talking (Page 16)
  • Penny’s Place (Pages: 17-19) [Art: Guy Peeters]
  • The Last Laugh! (Pages: 33-35)
  • Girl Zone (Page 38) [Art: Andy Tew]
  • The Comp (Pages: 44-47) [Art: Peter Wilkes]

Text Stories

  • Home Alone (Page 12)
  • Carly’s Crowd! (Page 32) [Art: Peter Wilkes]

Photo Stories

  • Blind Date (Pages: 3-5)
  • Three’s a Crowd (Pages: 27-29)
  • By the Book (Pages: 39-41)

Features

  • Seven Take It Easy (Pages: 6-7)
  • Do Not Disturb! (Page 8)
  • Happy Holidays (Page 13)
  • Super Scuba! (Pages: 14-15)
  • Flower Girls! (Pages: 20-21)
  • It’s Hopping at the Hoppins (Pages: 22-23)
  • Summer-Tastic (Pages: 24-25)
  • Summer Fun (Page 26)
  • Ahoy There! (Pages: 30-31)
  • Scream! (Pages: 36-37)
  • Going Wild! (Pages: 42-43)
  • Dolphin Poster (Page 48)

*Thanks to Goof for the information and cover picture

Bunty Holiday Special 1998

Picture Stories

  • The Comp (Pages: 7-10) [Art: Peter Wilkes]
  • Bugsy (Page 14)
  • Girls Talking (Page 14)
  • Home and Away (Pages: 15-17) [Art: Eduardo Feito]
  • It’s a Dog’s Life! (Pages: 20-22)
  • Penny’s Place (Pages: 27-29) [Art: Guy Peeters]
  • Wish You Were Here? (Pages: 38-39) [Art: Andy Tew]
  • The Four Marys (Pages: 43-46) [Art: Jim Eldridge]
  • Bunty – A Girl Like You (Page 47) [Art: Andy Tew]

Text Stories

  • Carly’s Crowd (Page 11) [Art: Peter Wilkes]
  • Phantom Prince (Page 32) [Art: John Armstrong]

Photo Stories

  • Scatter Brain (Pages: 3-5)
  • Just Like Lizzie (Pages: 33-35)

Features

  • Happy Holidays! (Page 6)
  • Get Packing! (Page 12)
  • Plane Sailing! (Page 13)
  • What’s Cookin’? Summer Sizzlers (Pages: 18-19)
  • Pop Posters (Pages: 23-26)
  • Check in at the Pet Hotel (Pages: 30-31)
  • Do Not Disturb! (Pages: 36-37)
  • In the Swim! (Pages: 40-41)
  • Your Holiday Horoscope (Page 42)
  • Horse Poster (Page 48)

*Thanks to Goof for the information and cover picture

Bunty Summer Special 1991

Picture Stories

  • Bunty – A Girl Like You (Page 2) [Art: Andy Tew]
  • The Four Marys (Pages: 3-8) [Art: Andy Tew]
  • Pony School (Pages: 13-15)
  • Haggis (Page 17)
  • Monkey Business (Pages: 19-21) [Art: Andy Tew]
  • Girl Talk (Page 21)
  • Teacher’s Pet (Pages: 27-29) [Art: Guy Peeters]
  • The Girl in White (Pages: 32-34) [Art: Bert Hill]
  • Backstreet Hospital (Pages: 36-38) [Art: “B Jackson”]
  • Clothes Sense (Pages: 39-41) [Art: Terry Aspin]
  • The Comp (Pages: 42-47) [Art: Ron Lumsden]

Photo Stories

  • All for Nothing (Pages: 10-12)
  • Luv, Jeff (Pages: 16-17)
  • Holiday at Home (Pages: 30-31)

Features

  • Flying High! (Page 9)
  • Summer Styles (Page 18)
  • Summer Special or Winter Wonder (Page 22)
  • Summer Sizzlers! (Pages: 23, 26)
  • Danni Minogue and Mat Stevenson Poster (Pages: 24-25)
  • Club Corner (Page 35)
  • Phillip Schofield Poster (Page 48)

 

*Thanks to Goof for the information and cover picture

Mandy Annual 1991

Picture Stories

  • A Warning for Wendy Who? (Pages: 4-6, 27-32, 65-79, 113-125)
  • The Diary of Angel (Pages: 7-19) [Art: Dudley Wynne]
  • Where’s Tammy? (Pages: 20-22) [Art: Andrew Wilson]
  • I Can’t Stand My Sister! (Pages: 23-26)
  • The Star in the Easts’ (Pages: 35-42) [Writer: Alison Christie, Art: Veronica Weir]
  • May the Best Girl Win! (Pages: 44-48) [Writer: Alison Christie, Art: Carmen Barbara]
  • Daredevil Donna (Pages: 51-57) [Art: Pamela Chapeau]
  • Cry Baby (Pages: 59-63) [Art: Bert Hill]
  • Princess Dinah (Page 80)
  • What the Tea-Leaves Tell (Pages: 83-86)
  • Bookworm Bev (Pages: 88-95) [Writer: Alison Christie, Art: Guy Peeters]
  • Cousin Colin (Pages: 97-101) [Art: Wilf Street]
  • Picture-Story Polly (Pages: 104-107) [Art: Tom Hurst]
  • Too Many Cooks (Pages: 108-112) [Writer: Alison Christie, Art: Eduardo Feito]

Text Stories

  • Growing Up (Pages: 33-34)
  • New Girl (Pages: 49-50) [Art: David Matysiak]
  • Scruffs Find a Home (Page 64)
  • Me and my Big Mouth! (Pages: 81-82) [Writer: Alison Christie]
  • The Bridesmaid’s Dress (Pages: 102-103)

Features

  • Are You Friendly? (Page 43)
  • Do-It-Yourself Fashion (Page 58)
  • Are You Superstitious? (Page 87)
  • Make a Pannier Pony (Page 96)

 

* Thanks to Goof for information and picture