Tag Archives: Ian Kennedy

The £100,000 Headache [1980]

Published: Debbie Picture Library #33

Artist: Ian Kennedy (cover); J Badesa (story)

Plot

Sandra Painter’s family are not rich; her bicycle, for example, is getting ancient. But she’s got lots of friends and happy with her lot. Then Dad tells her and her brother Billy that they’ve won £100,000 on the pools. Sandra and Billy are all set to shout it to the world when Dad stops them. He’s heard stories on how the lotto curse has ruined lives and is not going to have that happen to him. So they’re going to keep their win a secret. They are not going to get carried away with flash cars, posh houses and such. The new things and renovations they will get will be done discreetly and the story will be that they have had a bit of luck, and they’ll show that having money makes no difference at all.

But as they soon discover, it does make a difference. The neighbours and kids at school can’t help but notice things the renovations being done professionally instead of Mr Painter doing it himself, which they think is strange. And it’s showing the rest of the neighbourhood up too. The kids at school see Sandra’s got flash new clothes and bicycle and we can sense jealousy in the way they comment on it. The worst is Edna Egon, who is constantly making nasty remarks about it and Sandra.

The new dudes are making Sandra a standout in school, but it’s proving awkward and causing embarrassments. For example, the teachers keep picking out Sandra for answering questions or running unwelcome errands because they are now noticing her too much. Sandra has to lock her new bicycle whereas she didn’t need to with the old one because it was not worth stealing. Then she loses the key and has to borrow a hacksaw! She comments that such things would never have happened with her old bicycle. On top of that, it causes her to mess up the errand teach lumbered her with, and when she gets home she messes up her new clothes on the paint being used for the redecorating. Dad comments that she wouldn’t have been so careless in the old days. Sandra finds she is beginning to miss things from the old days and she preferred some of the old things to everything they have bought anew.

Dad is encountering the same problems as Sandra; he says he is not going to darts club because everyone is getting wary of him. Later on in the story Billy says it’s just the same for him: everyone is picking on him. Sandra suggests they try sharing their good fortune, but in ways without hurting people’s pride.

They start with Dad offering his friend George Clark a lift in his new car. Sandra tries treating everyone at the canteen, but they accuse her of trying to buy popularity and will pay for themselves, thank you very much. Then Dad presents two new athletics trophies to the school. But Dad forgot that athletics are Sandra’s forte and it would be conflict of interest if she wins the trophy. Moreover, people remark that the competitors will let Sandra win because her dad donated the trophy. Sandra tries deliberately losing, and let her friend Wendy (George Clark’s daughter) win, but everyone realises what she did. Wendy is furious with Sandra for what she thought was favours, as it was not an honest win for her. Meanwhile, Dad messes things up even more when he generously has the Clarks’ car taken away for repairs at his expense – without consulting them first. The Clarks are furious, not only because they are proud but also because they thought their car had been stolen. After this, Sandra finds none of her friends are speaking to her at the leisure centre.

Dad miscalculates yet again when he sees Sandra standing miserably outside a ballet shop and assumes she wants ballet lessons. So without consulting her, he gets her expensive ballet gear and lessons at the more posh part of town. In fact, Sandra hates ballet, proves completely hopeless at it at her first lesson, and the other ballet students are a snobbish lot who won’t have anything to do with her. On top of that, her new bicycle got stolen while she was having the lesson.

The whole family is finding that everything has been going wrong since they won the money. It’s spilling out into frayed nerves and constant rows, which they never had before they won the money. For example, Dad unfairly accuses Sandra of letting the money go to her head and being careless over the bike theft. He’s a fine one to talk about being careless – he was saying this instead of watching his driving, and his new car hits a gatepost! Sandra has had enough of her classmates making such nasty remarks about her turning into Miss Posh, especially Edna, and lashes out at them. Billy is in a bad temper because everyone is picking on him, and when he’s in a bad mood he does something stupid. In this case it’s flying his new motor plane in the school playing fields out of hours. Sandra knows this could lead to trouble. She realises that giving the motor plane to Billy was another of Dad’s bad moves, which was compounded by Dad being too busy to teach Billy how to use it properly. Sure enough, Billy can’t control the plane properly and it smashes into a neighbour’s greenhouse. The neighbour is furious and the school janitor says they are in big trouble for trespass and damage. Now their parents are even worse, and there will be the headmistress to face next morning.

Next day, Billy runs away because of what happened. Sandra goes in search of him. Her classmates stop making their unkind remarks when they hear Billy’s missing. Even Edna changes her attitude. They promise to help if they can. Sandra decides the places to check are Billy’s favourite haunts. She soon locates him, and when they get home they find his disappearance has helped to patch things up with the people the Painters fell out with.

Dad comes home and says he has lost the money. He made a stupid investment with it – “didn’t take proper advice” – with a dodgy firm, who have now disappeared and being hunted by the police. However, Sandra and Billy cheer and tell Dad that losing the money was the cleverest thing he ever did with it. The Painters are now pretty much back to the way they were and glad for it. Their friends are back and now everyone knows the whole story.

 

Thoughts

When Dad wins the fortune he comes across as a whole lot more sensible than the Mill parents in Judy’s Minnie the Meanie, who lost the whole fortune they won on the pools because they did everything wrong: they broadcast the news of their good fortune to everyone in town, which made them prey to vultures out to take advantage; they did not save, invest or put any of the money where it would generate further income for them; worst of all, they just wouldn’t stop spending the money, despite danger signals that it was running out because of this.

Dad has clearly learned from stories like these and he tries to do everything right. But we know from the title of the story that things are not going to work out that way. Dad’s decisions on what to do with the money prove to be ill-conceived because he is not thinking things through or checking them out properly, and everything he does with the money blows up in his face one way or other. He turns out to be as incapable of handling a vast sum of money as the Mill parents.

Although the Painters are sensible enough not to flaunt the money and throw it around like confetti as the Mill parents do, they soon find out they are mistaken in believing money makes no difference. The overhaul they make to their entire household makes them stand apart too much from their less-wealthy neighbours. Instead of being just one of the gang as they were before, they look too far above themselves for their friends and neighbours to take. And of course people get jealous and resentful. The Painters try to win them over with generosity and sharing their good fortune with them. But rather than people getting greedy and taking advantage, as they do in Minnie the Meanie, it all just goes wrong all the time. In the end, the best thing for the Painters to do with the money was lose it altogether, and give the old adage “money does not buy happiness” a whole new appreciation.

Fear from the Past (1979)

Fear from the Past cover

Published: Judy Picture Library #192

Artists: Ian Kennedy? (cover); unknown (story)

Plot

June Mason and her father are on holiday in Germany and enjoying a Rhine steamer cruise. Then, one night an unknown man seizes June and throws her overboard. As he does so, June notices a scar on his right wrist.

A woman named Hanna Schmidt rescues June. The attack remains unsolved and of course June has been traumatised. In gratitude to Hanna, the Masons grant her request to stay with them for a few days, at their fine home near Dover.

All seems well until June is surprised to see Hanna out walking on the estate in the dead of night. But Parker the gamekeeper mistakenly fires a warning shot at Hanna because he mistook her for a poacher. Hanna’s story is that she could not sleep because of a romantic conflict of interest: she has fallen in love with an Englishman named Roger Mills while already loving another man in Germany. She asks the Masons if she can invite Roger over. June and her father think it is an awkward situation, but as they are grateful to Hanna, they agree to her request, but Roger must stay in the village.

Fear from the Past 2

As Hanna sets off to post her reply to Roger, Parker suddenly gets shot. Apparently his gun went off, and the injury is serious. When Roger arrives, he is allowed to take over Parker’s job and lodge temporarily because he has gardening experience.

Then June notices a scar on Roger’s wrist and recognises it as the one she saw on the assailant who threw her off the steamer. Soon June is drawing the right conclusions: Roger and Hanna are carrying out some sort of criminal plot. Roger threw her into the river for Hanna to “rescue” so Hanna would gain the Masons’ confidence and access to their property. Roger deliberately shot Parker so as to get his job and access to the Masons’ estate. June decides against telling her father for now in case he does not believe her, but is going to watch Hanna and Roger very closely.

June steals an opportunity to sneak into the gardener’s lodge and search Roger’s belongings in search of clues. She finds a rough map of their property that looks very aged and faded. On the map are the words “next to the elm” and “summerhouse” in German. She realises Hanna and Roger are after something hidden in the grounds. Her guess is confirmed when she finds Roger digging near the roots of an elm, and knows it is not because of rotting roots as Roger claims.

June goes to tell her father – only to find a note that he has gone to Manchester on urgent business. But in fact Roger has drawn Mr Mason away with a phony call.

Fear from the Past 4

Worse, Hanna saw June snooping in the lodge. When she tells Roger, they realise they must act fast. The trouble is, Roger has discovered the summerhouse has been moved since the map was drawn. This has left them with dozens of elms to check now and created an unforeseen delay when they had anticipated only a short time was required. They decide to work through the night, when June is asleep.

However, June is not asleep; she is keeping watch and sees Hanna sneak off into the woods. She follows, but Roger catches her. They leave June tied up, gagged and locked up in the gardener’s lodge, and they return to work. They intend to vanish for good once they find what they are looking for.

But Hanna and Roger have made two mistakes. First, they neglected to bind June’s legs, so she can still use them. Second, they did not see the dog-flap in the lodge. So, though still bound, June manages to escape. She flags down a lorry, and once the truckers see her bound and gagged they untie her and then come with her to stop the plotters. They arrive in time to see Roger and Hanna unearth what they have been looking for: a cache of valuables buried under an elm. The truckers seize the criminals and June calls the police.

The whole story comes out under police interrogation. Hanna’s father had been a WW2 pilot who looted a stately French home when the liberation of Paris started. He fled across the Channel in his plane, but was shot down and also wounded. Despite his injury, he managed to parachute into the grounds with the loot, bury it under the elm, and draw the rough map of its location. He was captured and spent the rest of the war in a British POW camp. His wounds prevented him from returning to retrieve the treasure, so he entrusted the job to Hanna.

Fear from the Past 5

Parker pulls through and is expected to make a complete recovery. Hanna is handed over to the German authorities while the British police charge Roger. The French government sends a letter of deep gratitude for the return of the valuables, particularly for the part June played. June then tells Dad she fancies their next holiday to be in Switzerland. Dad jokes they will have to make sure nobody pushes her off a mountain.

Thoughts

This is a very straightforward mystery story. It gets off to a very catchy start when a shadowy assailant attacks June on the steamer and throws her into the Rhine. Being pushed overboard would a terrifying, traumatic experience for anyone. The artwork makes the attack even more frightening with its use of black-and-white used in silhouette. The assailant and his motives are completely unknown. It can only look like attempted murder. Readers would very likely be set off in the direction of why anyone would want to kill June.

When June goes home she thinks she is safe, but the reader knows better; there wouldn’t be any point to the story otherwise. The attacker is sure to strike again, and the reader reads on in suspense to see when and how he will return. We wonder if he will strike at Hanna as well when she tags along with the Masons. Things get even tenser when the two shooting incidents occur, though they seem to be mishaps and nothing to do with the assailant.

Fear from the Past 3

When June sees the scar on Roger’s wrist and recognises it, she exhibits impressive powers of observation and deduction. Despite the shock, she had managed to notice the scar on her assailant’s wrist and remembered it. And once she sees it again, it only takes her a few minutes to work out the truth. She also shows tremendous courage in snooping into Roger’s belongings and realising she has to stand on her own when her father is called away on a phony call. She also shows resourcefulness and quick thinking when the crooks tie her up in the lodge. They think they have her secured, but she escapes quickly due to her superior knowledge of the lodge and their forgetting to tie her feet.

Roger and Hanna do have to be admired for their craftiness. The Masons realise the criminals must have spent months watching them in order to know about their Rhine cruise and put their scheme together. Their plan to gain access to the Masons’ property to start their search was extremely cunning. But things can go wrong with even the best-laid plans; in this case, the relocation of the summerhouse causing an unexpected delay and giving June more time to work out what is going on. And criminals have to make mistakes at some point. This happens when they try to secure June, but make the two mistakes noted above. Mr Mason also believes that attacking June outright on the steamer was another mistake and gave them away. It certainly did when June saw the scar during the attack. And suppose someone had witnessed the attack and caught Roger? They would have been far more clever to stage an accident for June on the steamer and make it look like an accident.

Fear from the Past 1

There are two quibbles with this story. The first is the title, which does not sound very descriptive of the story. “Fear from the Past” sounds like the protagonist has to overcome some fear in her past or something. Couldn’t they have found a better title, and one that summed up the cover (showing the attack on the steamer) more appropriately? The second is the second panel on page 51, where June escapes through the dog-flap. A speech balloon is used for June here, but it shouldn’t be because June is gagged. It should be a thought balloon. This is clear sloppiness on the part of the letterer and editor.

Still, this is an engrossing story. The early attack on the steamer makes it even more gripping, particularly as the attacker and his motives remain unknown. The plotting is well paced and tight, and there is no meandering into red herrings. The use of black inking and the contrast of white space add to the atmosphere and tension of the story, and also to the night scenes, when a lot of the plot developments occur. There are plenty of panels where the artwork is simply sumptuous, such as the one where June falls into the Rhine. We can see that the artist would be brilliant at a ballet or gymnastics story.

Angie

  • Angie –  Emma: #01 (26 February 1978) – #09 (29 April 1978)
  • Art: Ian Kennedy

Plot

Angie Martin, a district nurse sets out in the morning to visit patients. She intends to drop her younger sister, Sally, to school along the way. Unknown to her, not too far away, a bullion robbery is taking place as 3 armed men take on a security van. One of the security men goes to raise the alarm and a robber (Lonny) threatens him with a gun. Another robber (Jimmy) intervenes, but gets shot himself. The three men escape but Jimmy needs medical attention. They spot Angie and take her and Sally so she can fix Jimmy up.  They hear on the radio that the police now know Lonny’s name due to Jimmy’s slip up, so they dump their van, and hide out in an empty cottage.  Angie starts to think about how her and her sister can escape, she slips tablets into the men’s tea, but luck isn’t on her side as Lonny spills his drink and she has no more tablets to use. When Jimmy and Vic pass out, Lonny figures she is involved and ties her up.

angie_1

Angie takes advantage of every opportunity she has to escape. Lonny is clearly the leader of the gang and is more wary of keeping an eye on Angie. He catches her trying to phone for help and locks her and Sally in the attic nursery. Angie finds a balloon and felt tip pens and uses them to get a message outside. The balloon is found by some kids who give it to the police.  Unfortunately before they get to the cottage,  the arrival of tourists at the cottage has made the gang go on the run again. When the police get to cottage they free the tourists and are soon in pursuit of the gang.

angie 2

The cops surround them at a filling station but Lonny threatens Angie and Sally’s lives, so they are able to hijack the police helicopter. Sergeant Smith manages to slip a transmitter to Angie before they get on the helicopter. They plan to fly to France but a storm forces them to land on a ship. They smash all communication devices on the ship, but the captain has a plan – when it gets dark he will turn them around so they get dropped off at Dorset, rather than France. When they land one sailor tries to get gun off Jimmy, but is knocked out by Vic, Angie attends to him. The gang believe they are in France and don’t know that the captain of the ship has managed to contact the police on the helicopter radio.

While Lonny and Vic go to look for transport, Jimmy is told to keep Angie and Sally in a cave, out of sight. As they are so exhausted all three of them fall asleep and they wake up to find the tide has come in and they are trapped. Sally manages to slip out a hole to go for help, only to run into Vic and Lonny. Angie and Jimmy will have to swim for it but Jimmy can’t with his injured arm. Angie swims Jimmy to safety, and he makes note that she has saved his life again.

His gratitude to Angie is seen when after another escape attempt Vic strikes Angie, Jimmy is quick to defend her. The gang figure they are not in France when police catch up with them, but they have stolen a tank and smash up the police car. They hide out in a forest where Vic accidentally starts a fire, Jimmy helps Angie and Sally onto the tank but falls off himself.  Angie is the only one concerned enough to go back and help him. The gang attempt to cross a foot bridge with the tank because they won’t leave the gold behind, the bridge collapses leaving them all in the water. Angie and Sally manage to escape and take a boat but the gang pursue them. Both Vic and Lonny take aim to shoot Angie but Jimmy stops them, jerking the steering wheel. Vic shoves Jimmy out of the boat. They catch up on Angie and grab her, leaving Sally on the boat headed for a weir. Lonny and Vic plan to use Angie as a hostage to get back their gold, that has been found by the police. Meanwhile Jimmy having gotten out of the water sees Sally in trouble and saves her. Knowing she needs to get to a hospital he brings her to the police station and hands himself in.

angie_3

With Angie as their hostage, Lonny and Vic get the police to hand over the gold and their uniforms.  Soon after when Angie escapes she doesn’t just run, after all they’ve done to her she is not going to let them get away. Using a crane she catches their boat and the police arrive to arrest them. She meets up with her parents and goes to see Sally in hospital.  They discuss Jimmy’s fate, it turns out he will be let off light due to his good actions and turning himself in and Mr Martin will even give him a job when he gets out of jail.

Thoughts

This is a good action story, the pace doesn’t let up and Ian Kennedy does a great job at showing the action scenes. Like the above car chase shows, Kennedy uses a variety of angles to keep the action interesting and fast paced. Whatever the location, from water to forest, he does a superb job of capturing the place.

The fast pace of the story is set up effectively in the first issue when the time is tracked throughout; 8.35 Angie leaves her house, 8.47 the robbery takes place, 12.30 Mrs Martin is worried and 8.00pm Angie tied up and can’t believe only 12 hours have passed since she got up in the morning. After the first issue the tracking of time stops, but the story doesn’t slow down. Sometimes it seems a bit ridiculous when the gang manage to hijack 2 cars, a helicopter, a ship, a boat and a tank! But really you aren’t given much time to dwell on it.

Angie is clearly a resourceful and determined character. When ever she sees an opportunity to escape, she jumps on it. She smartly hides the tracker she gets from the police in Sally’s bandage. She is also quick thinking in stopping the gang from escaping at the end. Not only is she tough she shows her high morals and why she makes a good nurse when she not only helps the people the gang hurt, but also goes out of her way to save Jimmy several times.

angie_5

The gang are easy to characterise, Vic is the tough and mean leader, Lonny is a bit dimmer but equally nasty, while right away Jimmy proves himself to be the most sympathetic of the gang, and shows he has a conscience. Even before Angie earned his gratitude he is shown to be against anyone getting hurt. The only reason he got shot was because he wanted to protect the security guard from Vic. In the end he could have just left Sally at the door of the police station but he does the right thing and hands himself in. Also very charitable of Mr Martin to give him a job, considering he was involved in a kidnap even if he did save his daughter’s life. We don’t get a lot of background on the gang, so we don’t know how Jimmy got involved with Vic and Lonny in the first place, whether he previously had a criminal record or just fell in with a bad crowd, or was really needing the money. Still it’s nice to hear that he will be given a second chance after he gets out and we hope he’ll use the opportunity wisely.

The Emma comic didn’t last too long, which is a pity because I think it had some strong stories (like this one) and had a fresh take on some of the usual formulas.

Children from the Stars

Plot:

When  a spaceship landed in the village where Beth Bantry lived, a force field was thrown round it cutting it off from the world. Strange children, with their teacher, Kong, appeared from the craft and took over the schoolhouse where Beth’s father was the schoolmaster. The villagers were growing tense and, due to the influence of Ogden Thorpe, an enemy of Beth’s father, one of the space-children was shot. The space-children used their amazing powers to save Clovis, the injured girl. Beth’s father hod gone missing, then he appeared, escorted by the space-children.

children from the stars

Notes:

  • Art: Ian Kennedy

Appeared:

  • Children from the Stars    Judy:  #1050 (23  Feb. 1980) – #1063 (24 May 1980)

 

 

Slaves of the Sinister Eye

Plot:

Sports writer Pat Fraser had been mysteriously  transported to a strange palace where a woman known as the Princess ruled with the aid of a hypnotic eye, which hovered in the air, and a voice that came from nowhere. There, she watched a girl called Lora skate against world champions and beat them! For each victory, Lora was rewarded with the release of one of tie the prisoners from the dungeons beneath the ice rink. Ranulf, Lora’s cousin, tried to escape and, before he was recaptured, he managed to hide a bracelet that gave the wearer protection against the mysterious eye that spied on everything that happened in the palace. Later, Pat went into the grounds to look for the bracelet.

slaves of the sinister eye

Notes:

  • Art: Ian Kennedy

Appeared:

  • Slaves of the Sinister Eye – Judy:  #616 (30 Oct. 1971) – #630 (05 Feb. 1972)
  • Reprinted – Judy: #956 (06 May 1978) – #970 (12 August 1978)

My Brother Barney

Plot:

June Jackson’s  brother Barney had fallen for  film star, Suzy Trafford, and entered a competition to find the new leading man for her next picture. June decided to help—or hinder—as Barney preferred to call it.

my brother barney

Notes:

  • Art: Ian Kennedy

Appeared:

  • My Brother Barney – Judy:  #733 (26 January 1974) – #745 (20 April 1974)
  • My Brother Barney – Judy:  (?) – 806 (21 June 1975)

 

 

Dark Danger

Plot

Blind Sue Taylor’s father has made her a walking stick with an attachment that helps her to walk alone. She is testing it in a maze when Irene Kayak, the daughter of the President of Slavonia, is kidnapped. Sue believes she can identify the kidnappers, a man and a woman, by their voices, and by the smell of the man’s tobacco and the woman’s scent.

dark danger

Notes

  • Art: Ian Kennedy

Appeared

  • Dark Danger – Judy:   circa #439 (08 June 1968) – (?)

Beneath the Blue Iceberg

Plot:

Ann Fenton and her geologist father crash-land on an iceberg which, when melted by the heat of a volcanic eruption, brings to life a frozen island and its prehistoric people. One day the Fentons learn that Mog, the witch doctor, has seized one of the tribal boys.

beneath blue iceberg

Notes:

  • Art: Ian Kennedy

Appeared:

  • Beneath the Blue Iceberg – Judy:  #404 (07 Oct. 1967) – #423 (17 Feb. 1968)