Tag Archives: Humour

Gemma’s Jewels [1983]

Published: Mandy Picture Story Library #65

Artist: Rodney Sutton

Writer: Unknown


Gemma Gable helps out at the Yellowbridge Youth Club. She is dismayed when vicar puts her in charge of four rough-looking girls from a rundown area that has been demolished: Crystal, Ruby, Pearl and Opal. Oh, please don’t judge them by their appearances, says the vicar. Underneath that rough exterior they’ve got hearts of gold and are positive jewels.

In other words, the Jewels are diamonds in the rough.

Well, life sure isn’t dull with the Jewels around. Straight off the bat they demand the club put on disco music so they can have some action. At least everyone seems to be enjoying the dancing.

Afterwards the Jewels ask Gemma that they are broke and need money. They earn Gemma’s respect when they say they don’t want to bother their parents, who are financially taxed already. At their old home it was easy for them to get market jobs, but there is little call for that in Yellowbridge. Moreover, Yellowbridge shopkeepers don’t employ under-fifteens, not even for Saturday jobs. This means job hunting will be harder for them in their new locality.

Dad suggests fixing Crystal up with a job at Aunt Daphne’s guesthouse. However, Crystal proves too loud and rambunctious and keeps imposing her own ideas on how the guesthouse should be run. Although Crystal’s style is popular with the guests, Aunt Daphne lets Crystal go before she’s even finished the washing up.

Next, Gemma notices Ruby has a flair for design and fixes her up with a job as publicity assistant with Councillor Coombes for his road safety campaign. Ruby’s creativity lends tremendous weight to the campaign and Coombes is impressed. Unfortunately Ruby is also a walking disaster area, so she ends up creating a real mess that Councillor Coombes’ house-proud wife is furious to see. Ruby and Gemma end up quietly slipping out while a row erupts over it, though Coombes is still impressed with Ruby’s creativity.

Gemma’s old headmistress, Miss Cromarty, enquires about somebody to help her with a move. Gemma decides to try out Opal for the job, because she is the quiet one (that’s a bit of a surprise!) in the Jewels gang. Miss Cromarty sets Opal to sorting out her books in alphabetical order, and if she works out, take her on as research assistant for writing her memoirs. However, Opal is such a bookworm that she gets lost in reading the books instead of sorting them – and Miss Cromarty is just the same. Gemma realises that nothing will ever get done between them because they both get sidetracked with reading.

Now it’s Pearl’s turn. Gemma tries her out on a landscaping job, figuring that Pearl will be compatible with the employer, Jamie, as neither is too fussy about their clothes. Unfortunately it turns out Pearl is not compatible with the plants – they give her horrible allergies of all descriptions.

All for Jewels have proved totally unsuitable for the jobs they tried and Gemma does not know of any other jobs. After a discussion the same jobs are given another go, but with different Jewels. Opal will try the guesthouse job, Crystal the publicity assistant job, Pearl the Miss Cromarty memoir job, and Ruby the landscaping job.

The results:

Aunt Daphne is very impressed with Opal and her impressive manners with the guests. This is because Opal is drawing inspiration from a book she is reading about a Victorian maid.

Crystal adopts the costume and persona of “Roadie the Robot” to teach road safety in her own words while being as loud as she likes.

Thanks to Pearl, Miss Cromarty is making strides in writing her memoirs, which will be called “I Learned More than I Taught”.

Ruby is not only marvellous at the landscaping job but is also applying her creativity to developing her own talent for landscaping.

Gemma tells her father that now she has learned about not judging by appearances. When the vicar first brought the Jewels to her, she expected nothing but trouble (which she got, but not in the way she thought!). But Gemma’s so relieved the Jewels have been sorted out successfully and she can concentrate on the youth club barbeque. All four Jewels help out and give Gemma the best sausage to say “thanks”.

The vicar is very impressed with how successful Gemma was with the Jewels. In fact, he is so impressed that he brings her another set of rough-looking kids from the same area for her to help in the same way. Say hello to Mike, Gabriel (Gabe for short) and Luke (Lucifer) – the “Fallen Angels”!


Straight off the bat we are told how this story will go. It’s going to be an exploration of the morals in not being quick to judge. But just how this will pan out with these wild-looking girls remains to be seen during the course of the story.

As we get to know the Jewels, we can see the morals are going in a romp that’s full of hijinks, embarrassment, surprises and laughs. Crystal is loud and boisterous. She sweeps some fresh air into the stuffy guesthouse, but it’s too much for the stuffy aunt. Far from being rough, Ruby is a creative, helpful girl. The trouble is, she’s so clumsy and accident-prone, and everywhere she goes she causes disaster. In the case of Opal, we have to wonder why she looks so rough when she turns out to be a quiet girl who would spend hours with her nose in a book given half the chance. Maybe it’s the rundown locality the Jewels lived in before. Pearl just likes being scruffy and isn’t too bothered with her clothes.

The hijinks of the Jewels are brought off brilliantly with the artwork. It’s a sharp but fluid style that lends itself well to zaniness, humour and drama all at the same time.

The introduction of the Fallen Angels right at the end is a twist that has the reader laughing and ensures the story does not end on a trite “happily ever after” note. There’s just no peace for the wicked, is there, Gemma? One can only hope the vicar knows what he’s doing with the Fallen Angels too. As well as looking rough, they don’t look too friendly when they meet Gemma.


Magic Wishes

  • Magic Wishes –  M&J:  #119 (21 August 1993) – #128 (23 October 1993)
  • Artist: Wilf Street


While at a fairground, Beth Robinson  visits a cave, where she finds a bottle and releases a trapped sorceress. The Sorceress gives her 10 bottles as a reward. She tells her she might find happiness with all of them or she might not, but when she opens one bottle on that day she will be happy. Each bottle has it’s own note which hints at what it will do, but  Beth soon finds out the results don’t work out as she assumes they will! She tries out the first potion which tells her nasty people will take a splash. She uses it on her mean sister and friend to each them a lesson for calling her names. After taking a rowing boat out, she is the one that ends up in the water, while the girls are rescued by some boys and take a different kind of splash on a water ride.

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The next bottle she tries isn’t any better. Trying to get a boyfriend, she follows the instructions to get  her crush, Dave, to ask her out but he instead asks her if she would like to go out with his friend, William, whom she can’t stand. Other attempts with trying to get a boyfriend don’t work out either such as when she makes Simon a slave for a day. Unfortunately it’s just before a family trip. While he is away he phones and makes all sorts of promises to her but when he comes back he has forgotten all he said. Another time she gets her new date to stick to her, but after finding out more about him, she is happy when the note actually means they get stuck to a bench.

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She hopes to get to the top of the class with another potion instead it causes an explosion and she ends up top of the class cleaning the ingredients off the ceiling. Another bottle her sister gets to first and it makes her hair look great, so Beth thinks this one will work great and she even enters a beauty contest. But then when sun comes out it goes frizzy and orange and she has to runaway from her angry sister. Another bottle promises fame and fortune, assuming it means she will win the school raffle she spends all her money on tickets, only to win a board game “Fame and fortune”

The last bottle she opens promises people will crowd around her. They do, but it’s not about popularity, they think she has written nasty notes about people. Beth goes home annoyed but things start to look up as it turns out her father has got a promotion which means an increase in pocket money.  Then she is asked about Simon, who realizes what a good sport she was about his brush off. Finally her friends come to apologize as they find out someone else stole Beth’s notepaper to write nasty notes. So it works out that Beth has found happiness but again the interpretation of the Sorceress  words are not as she expected.

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This is a fun story, it is drawn by an unknown artist, but an easily recognizable style. The artist is most known for lighthearted stories and as is the case here it suits to capture the humour of the situation. I like also that  there is a consistent set up at the start of each episode, there is a panel dedicated to Beth picking a bottle and  a panel of the bottle and its label. This nicely establishes what the episode is focusing on, and gives a reader a chance to wonder what the message actually means.

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The bottles have a sort of curse about them, twisting the meaning of what they say they will do in ways Beth or the reader doesn’t expect . This kind  of “monkeys paw” type story is often played for horror (like in Misty’s The Evil Djinn) but here none of the consequences are that that terrible, even if it does cause problems for the protagonist.

In some cases it seems Beth causes the outcomes by trying to make her own interpretations of the inscriptions come true. When she believes her sister will take a splash – she takes her out on the boat,  when she thinks a raffle will lead to fame and fortune – she buys lots of tickets, and when she is trying to get Dave to drink a potion – she comes across as showing an interest in his friend.

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To keep things interesting the way each of the bottles are used is different as well. It’s not just a case of Beth drinking the potion, there are cases where she is trying to get the object of her affection to drink the potion, or using it as a shampoo. It’s these little touches that makes the episodes less repetitive. Its a good ending where actually none of what is in the bottles gives her happiness. It again fits with the running theme that the Sorceress words are not what they seem Also you may not rely on wishes and magic solutions but you can still find happiness anyway.



Dopey Dora – the Hope of the School


Dora Spoone is the dimmest pupil at Eversford School, and is also the school klutz – everything she does goes wrong. Yet the school computer picks her as the most brilliant scholar, so she is entered along with five other clever pupils in the School of the Year Contest. Ironically, it is Dora’s blundering that is pulling the team through to success. All the same, her team mates want to get rid of her.




  • Dopey Dora – the Hope of the School –  Bunty: 1969. No publication dates currently available.