Tag Archives: Jim Eldridge

Jim Eldridge – Artist

Jim Eldridge is an artist who drew the long running serial “The Four Marys” in it’s final years (along with some other stories). He has kindly answered some questions on his timeworking for DCT and other comics.

Jim got his first work with DCT through LINK studios, under the agent Doris White. Another well known artist, Barrie Mitchell, also started his career in the same studio and both of them drew Roy of the Rovers strips at different times and have a similar style. This has led to some confusion of their work, but Barrie Mitchell did not draw The Four Marys, that was all Jim’s work. While Jim did draw other stories, it being so long ago, he can’t remember all the jobs he worked on then, and certainly none were as long as the time he spent on The Four Marys.

“When I joined LINK studios I had already has my first strip “Tarzan” printed for the TV Comic. I did various artwork jobs for DCT while with LINK studios but none for IPC. I wasn’t with them very long, I then moved to another agent “Roger & Co.” run by Jack  Wall and Kate Woolley, while there I did draw a few “Wee Sue” for Tammy and also got my first strip for the Bunty comic “The Three Imps” and  I also did “football libraries” for DCT.  That agency was taken over by Temple Art Agency run by Patrick Kelleher, it was while there I was offered “The Four Marys” for Bunty, and I also did Roy of the Rovers on a few occasions. I was with Temple for about 20 years. When Bunty ended I moved again to SGA agency for a few years and then to Linda Rogers agency for a while. I have been with my current agent Paul Beebee of Beehive Illustration for the last 16 years and illustrated many hundreds of Educational Books for most of the main publishers.” [You can see some of Jim Edridge’s more recent work here: www.beehiveillustration.co.uk]

       (The Three Imps – Bunty)

Jim got to know some other artists in the business; Barrie Mitchell, Mike White (Roy of the Rovers artist) and Mike Lacy, but there was no collaboration for Jim with the writers of the stories he drew for.  He was just given the script,  so he would just illustrate straight from script to final art. He only met with the Bunty editor Jim Davie, whom he got on very well with and he passed on the readers’ fan mail for The Four Marys to Jim. The Four Marys was a favourite with readers and many praised his artwork, the story was increased from 3 pages to 4 pages, keeping Jim busy as he had to produce this every week. He did have time for some other jobs but mostly The Four Marys kept him occupied enough, he had no idea it would run for 12 years and as a freelancer he was grateful for the steady work.

“With regard to The Four Marys. That was my favourite story to draw. I had no idea I would be drawing this story for 12 years [..]  I also did Four Marys picture library’s and summer specials as well as the Four Marys weekly pages and it was my artwork that modernised them and in colour.  It was an amazing long run to draw this story and I was thankful for the regular work. Being freelance. Looking back it was good to have drawn Bunty’s top story for 12 years.”

   

Of course sadly Bunty came to an end, but Jim has made his mark on the comic and is happily still working these days illustrating children’s books. “When Bunty finished it was a shock at the time, but I then moved on to Children’s book illustration”

List of Work:

  • Beehive Illustration
  • Football Picture Story Monthly
  • Mike’s Mini-Men (Roy of the Rovers)
  • Roy of the Rovers
  • Tarzan (TV Comic)
  • The Four Marys (Bunty)
  • The Three Imps (Bunty)
  • Wee Sue (Tammy)

The Secret Servant: A Four Marys Story [1993]

Published: Bunty Picture Library #365

Artist: Jim Eldridge

Writer: Unknown

Plot

Simpy’s father opens a supermarket, Simco’s Supermarket, and its business is soon booming to soaring levels. But he only took a lease on the building. The freehold has been taken over by Lentham Holdings, which is run by – yes, Mabel Lentham’s father. Now Lentham is applying for planning permission to turn the building into flats. If this goes ahead Mr Simpson will be forced to close. This would bankrupt him as he has sunk everything into the supermarket.

Foolishly, Simpy hopes that if she sucks up to Mabel, such as buying her the birthday present she wanted and allowing her and Veronica on the gymnastics team although they aren’t much good at gymnastics but not yelling at Mabel when she makes a mess of things, Mabel will save her father. But once Mabel finds out the reason why Simpy is suddenly crawling to her (by prying into Simpy’s mail), she sets out to take full advantage of Simpy. She and Veronica have Simpy wait on them hand and foot and do all their dirty work, including prep. They waste no opportunities in bullying Simpy, such as making her do chores twice, in revenge for all the times the Four Marys have scored over them. Of course Mabel has no intention of saving Mr Simpson and is stringing Simpy along with false promises that she will speak to her father about it, but always seems to forget. Although Simpy does not trust Mabel, she still continues to slave for the snobs and hope Mabel will keep her end of the deal.

Of course the other Marys soon notice what’s going on between Simpy and the snobs. They get suspicious and start to investigate. Fieldy spies on the snobs’ study and sees how Simpy is waiting on the snobs while they bully her. They realise the snobs must have some kind of hold on Simpy. But they hit a dead end as to what it could be, and they decide against tackling Simpy outright.

Then, during a parents’ visiting day, Cotty accidentally overhears Simpy’s parents talking about their supermarket being in trouble. The Marys wonder if there is some connection with Simpy slaving for the snobs. On a free afternoon they head down to Simco’s Supermarket to investigate this angle.

Simco’s Supermarket is located in an arcade, which the Marys discover has been recently taken over by Mabel’s father. They soon learn that Lentham is forcing all the shops in the arcade out of business with exorbitant rents while terminating their leases. He is applying for planning permission to turn the arcade into flats so as to make a profit. It is later revealed that the flats project is intended to pay off loans. Lentham also plans to use the money for a world cruise family holiday, which Mabel is really looking forward to. The Marys draw all the right conclusions, including the one that Mabel will not really help Simpy save her father.

Then, a remark from Cotty about it being “such a lovely old arcade” gives Raddy an idea on how to solve the problem. She contacts her father, who works on a heritage committee that saves old buildings with historical value. The committee manages to get Lentham’s application for planning permission blocked. Now the flats plan is stymied, Lentham cannot afford to hold on to the arcade and is forced to sell at a rock bottom price. Mr Simpson is doing so well from the supermarket, he can afford to buy the freehold, become his own landlord, and save his business.

The Four Marys inform the snobs of this and punish them by tipping rubbish all over their study for them to clean up. Mabel is punished even more when she receives a call from her father that the world cruise holiday is off because the flats plan has failed. The Marys are delighted to hear this and treat Simpy to a celebratory tea.

Thoughts

Using false promises to help a loved one in order to blackmail a mug into doing what you want has been used in many DCT stories, such as “Meg and the Magic Robot” (Tracy) and “April Fool” (Mandy). However, it’s unusual in that it is the victim, Simpy who instigated her very own blackmail by sucking up to the snobs in the first place in the foolish hope they would save her father. Blackmailing Simpy wasn’t the snobs’ idea; they just take advantage once they realise why Simpy is being ‘nice’ to them all of a sudden. If it had been the snobs who had concocted the blackmail we would have been more sympathetic to Simpy. But really, Simpy brought the whole thing on herself. Honestly, she should have known better after the long time she had known those snobs, and how much they despise her for being a scholarship girl. Even when Simpy finds she doesn’t trust Mabel because Mabel is ‘forgetting’ her promises, she still doesn’t suspect the snobs are just taking advantage of her. She carries on regardless, hoping it will be worth it if it saves her father. Perhaps Simpy wasn’t thinking clearly because she was so worried about her parents and desperation overrode her rationality.

Ironically, slaving to the snobs does help save Simpy’s father, but not in the way she expected. It’s because it prompted the other Marys to make their inquiry at the arcade itself and, once they saw it personally, realise the heritage value that could save it. It is less likely this would have occurred if Simpy had just confided in the Marys.

The Four Marys in Four Great Stories! [1994]

Published: Bunty Picture Library #372

Artist: Jim Eldridge

Writer: Unknown

Story 1: The Sad Schoolgirl

It looks like the resident snobs, Mabel and Veronica, are bullying a new first year, Abigail. Fieldy finds it a bit hard to believe Mabel and Veronica would bully first years while Simpy says the snobs have been behaving worse than usual. The snobs themselves deny it, but the evidence mounts against them and they get detention.

Then Abigail’s music box is stolen and found in the snobs’ study, so they going to be expelled. The snobs protest their innocence, and Raddy can’t quite believe the snobs would steal, even if they are not very nice. The Four Marys find it a bit odd that Abigail’s parents are being sent for as well as the snobs’.

Fieldy forms a theory. She tells Abigail there’s been a change of plan: her parents are not coming and the snobs are getting another chance. She then has the Four Marys keep watch that night, and they catch Abigail planting her purse in the snobs’ study. Abigail admits she faked everything because she did not like the school and was trying to get her parents to remove her. The Four Marys have Abigail confess to Mrs Mitchell. Soon after, the Four Marys watch Abigail leave and comment that Abigail got what she wanted in leaving the school, but she is leaving in disgrace. The snobs don’t thank the Four Marys for saving them, but the Four Marys were expecting that.

Thoughts

A similar Four Marys story (a flashback set in Victorian times) ran in one of the Bunty annuals. Unlike this story it ended happily, with the girl deciding to give St Elmo’s a chance and finding she liked it after all. The girl also had the grace not to frame any girl in particular for the ‘bullying’, as Abigail tried to do with the snobs. Getting someone expelled for something they didn’t do is despicable, even if it is someone who isn’t particularly nice. And all just to get what you want is pathetic. Abigail must have walked away with deep regrets as to what she did.

It is stretching things a bit as to how Fieldy managed to figure out Abigail was faking things. Maybe it was due to seeing it before – such as in the aforementioned flashback, perhaps?

Story 2: Boys at St Elmo’s!

St Bartoph boys are temporarily housed at St Elmo’s when their teachers come down with food poisoning (much to Miss Creef’s annoyance). The Four Marys find the boys are becoming a distraction because their presence is turning girls’ heads. Simpy complains nobody is turning up for hockey practice because of it. The other Marys are surprised to find Simpy later talking to James, the junior football captain, and suspect she has a fancy for him. It turns out Simpy was making arrangements with James to have a boy team play the girls in hockey practice to get their minds back on the game. But afterwards the Four Marys find they were not far wrong in assuming Simpy did have a fancy for James…

Thoughts

Aww, you just have to love the sight of boys in a Four Marys story! The Four Marys don’t often get the chance to meet boys, so it’s nice to see Simpy get it.

Story 3: Teacher Trouble

Miss Creef goes away on a course. The substitute teacher, Miss Wilson, is popular because her lessons are more fun than Miss Creef’s, and she even uses drama to help teach the girls the Industrial Revolution. Too bad Miss Wilson also takes an inexplicable dislike to one girl, Jenny Martin, and starts bullying her. Miss Wilson always gives Jenny failed marks on homework although Jenny did not shirk on it, and Jenny scores A’s and B’s with Miss Creef. Miss Wilson does not give proper explanations for the marks; she just says the homework was so awful she felt like ripping it up – and she actually does so at one point. In class she puts questions to Jenny in a harsh manner that makes Jenny too scared to think. Jenny becomes depressed and miserable and wonders if she has the problem.

Miss Wilson scowls when a girl mentions what a brilliant actress Jenny’s mother is. Realising it is a clue, the Four Marys check through entertainment pages in old newspapers and discover that years ago, Miss Wilson was passed over in a starring role for a stage production in favour of Jenny’s mother and was deeply disappointed about it. The Four Marys realise Miss Wilson is taking her old hurt out on Jenny and decide the only thing to do is report the matter to Mrs Mitchell.

After Mrs Mitchell speaks to both Miss Wilson and Jenny, Jenny thanks the Four Marys for their help while Miss Wilson, um, leaves St Elmo’s early. Miss Wilson’s bullying gives the girls a whole new appreciation for the strict, stuffy Miss Creef, which surprises her when she returns.

Thoughts

This is not a particularly new idea. One of “The Comp” Picture Story Libraries had a similar storyline, with a substitute teacher picking on Laura Brady in a far more spiteful manner than Miss Wilson because she had a long-standing grudge against Laura’s aunt. But a story about a bully teacher is always guaranteed to attract the readers because it’s so rooted in realism. The story’s got well thought-out dashes of realism, such as Jenny’s doubts about herself and wondering if it’s her fault.

It is a crying shame that Miss Wilson did turn bully teacher towards Jenny, as she is such a splendid teacher otherwise. Now she will have a blot on her record that will make it difficult to get another teaching job. If only she remembered that missing out on the role had nothing to do with Jenny and she should put the past aside.

Story 4: Mystery Girl

A new girl, Tara Brook, does not seem to be taking to St Elmo’s. She keeps quiet, shows little interest in the school, and is not setting out to make friends. The Four Marys invite her to their study to listen to tapes in the hope she will open up. She does for a while, but she closes up again when a Jez tape is suggested.

Then the Four Marys discover Jez’s real name is Gerard Brook, and they make the connection. Tara admits Jez is her brother, and he paid big money to send her to St Elmo’s. The trouble is, she misses her old school and friends and wants to return there. The Four Marys suggest Tara speak to her brother, but she says he’d be too upset. The Four Marys do it for Tara. Jez understands and allows Tara to transfer back to her old school. Jez gives the Four Marys some of his posters, tapes and records in gratitude for how good they were to Tara.

Thoughts

This picture story library begins and ends with new girls who can’t take to St Elmo’s and want to leave. At least Tara had more sense than Abigail and ended up leaving the right way – but telling someone how she felt – than by trying to do it by subterfuge. The Four Marys do well out of it too, meeting a pop star in person and getting presents from him!

Bunty 2001

bunty 2001The 2001 annual, would be the last Bunty book to come out when the weekly comic was still running.  The cover is nice in its simplicity (even though I do prefer the hand drawn covers more) and I like the coloured flowers that brightens up the background. Inside there is a nice variety of stories, features and it is all in colour. There are 12 picture stories  with regular characters, such as The Comp, The Four Marys and Girls Talking appearing.  There is also 2 text stories and 4 photo stories. Due to getting in contact with some creators through this site, I’m actually able to credit a lot of stories in this annual which is a very nice bonus.(For just a list of contents click here)

Picture Stories

The Comp   (Pages: 13-17 & 83-87 )

  • Artist: Peter Wilkes

Roz has a crush on a new sixth former, Greg, who is handsome and drives a flashy car. Amy’s not impressed with him though, he’s moved in near her and has a new girlfriend every week and drives recklessly. That doesn’t put Roz off though and she is happy to accept a date with him. She knows her father won’t approve so she gets her friends to cover for her. They agree at first but soon get annoyed at having to lie to the Cummings, especially when Roz hasn’t even warned them when she’s using them as cover. Roz finally wises up when Greg is speeding and won’t slow down. She demands to be let out of the car. Meanwhile a little bit away Claire is crossing the street and is knocked down by a familiar looking speeding car…

bunty-2001_comp

This is where the story splits, to build up some suspense the next part is later in the book. Roz comes across Claire being taken away in the ambulance and Nikki explains what happen. Roz is upset as she suspects Greg may be responsible. She doesn’t want to tell anyone her suspicions in case she is wrong and everyone else assumes Roz was with Greg at the time, so it couldn’t be him. When Roz hears Greg’s car is in the garage for some repairs, she breaks down and tells Laura, Hayley and Becky about her suspicions. With their support, she goes to police station, but it turns out the hit and run driver has turned himself in and it’s not Greg! Although Roz feels a bit bad about jumping to conclusions, she doesn’t regret breaking up with him, he wasn’t nice and she thinks if he continues the way he does one day he will have an accident. It ends with the girls visiting Claire in hospital.

Lonely This Christmas (Pages: 21-25)

  • Writer: Maureen Hartley
  • Artist: Guy Peeters

Tessa Jones is feeling she will have a lonely holiday, as her family have just moved house. Then the old owners cat, Sheba, keeps showing up at the door. Although they return her, she comes back and then Tessa discovers she has had kittens. The families agree to keep Sheba until the kittens are big enough and  not only that Tessa will be allowed to keep two of the kittens. They advertise homes for the other kittens and she meets some girls who invite her to Youth Club party, so it turns out not to be such a lonely Christmas after all. It’s a nice, simple story with some good art.

bunty-2001_lonely

Girl Zone  – Bunty- a Girl Like You (Pages: 26-27 & 88-89)

  • Artist: Andy Tew

Strangely, this is just called Girl Zone but it is a Bunty strip, I don’t know if this is just an occurrence in this annual or is the strip had also been renamed in the weekly comics. It is the usual fun for a Bunty strip anyway,  in the first story it’s time for a new tree, Bunty convinces her mom to buy a real one, but then she can’t bear to see it cut down so they end up buying another artificial one instead.

In the second story Bunty decides to make her own crackers they are successful but she discovers they are not so fun when you know what all the gifts and jokes are!

bunty-2001_bunty

The Four Marys (Pages: 31-35)

  • Artist: Jim Eldridge

No Bunty annual would be the same without at least one Four Marys story, in this book there are two stories. In this first story on their way to Elmbury, the four Marys see puppies for sale and they see a man refuse to sell a puppy to a woman who he doesn’t believe will look after it. The woman is not too happy and pays Mabel to buy it instead. Mabel hides the puppy in St Elmos and the Marys find out about it and who she intends to give it to. They raise money to pay Mabel off and give the puppy to deserving girl whose dog had died.

Penny’s Place (Pages: 37-43)

  • Artist: Guy Peeters

An old friend of Penny’s is staying with her during the holidays. Lucy soon starts causing problems with Penny’s other friends. Donna is a little put out by being ignored and this gets worse when her dog gets blamed for Lucys dog taking steak. Lucy continues to isolate friends by using Pete and trying to start a fight between Gemma and Sita. Penny begins to realise what a troublemaker she is. After Mrs Jordan says Lucy’s dog can’t stay anymore, Lucy decides to stay with her aunt. Which makes for a happier Christmas for everyone.

bunty-2001_-penny

Bugsy (Pages: 52-53)

Bugsy takes his niece Bugella to see Santa Bug, but Santa doesn’t arrive. After investigation Bugsy finds Santa Bug’s sleigh is stuck. Using his plane he is able to deliver Santa Bug to the department store.

Girls Talking (Pages: 56 & 79)

Twp short strips, consisting of 1 small picture and a a big picture that takes up the full page, I like this layout and they were fun quick jokes. In the first strip Liz emails Lucy with news and it is revealed they are sitting right next to each other. In the second strip Lucy wraps present and then realises the box doesn’t contain the present.

bunty-2001_girls-talk

Squeakie (Pages: 57-63)

  • Writer: Maureen Hartley

Alice Scott is delighted to get a Squeakie toy for Christmas (This toy appears to be based on Furby, which was first released in 1998 and even today still a popular toy). Squeakie can repeat back what Alice ays, but then trouble starts, as it begins to say back private thoughts she had too, such as spoiling her gran’s surprise party and insulting her friend’s taste in music. At first Alice thinks that she may have accidentally said those things aloud but when it keeps happening she gets creeped out and decides to get rid of it. She takes it to a shop and gets an exchange after been told that it was a prototype that shouldn’t have been sold. Alice is relieved but is still going to be cautious about her new Squeakie and not teach it to talk. After Alice leaves the room, the last panel shows the new Squeakie is even worse as he declares he will make her last Squeakie look like a pussycat! I’ve seen similar stories, often with ventriloquist dummy, using the furby like toy is a nice update and of course the foreboding creepy ending works well, just when the protagonist thinks she’s solved her problem!

bunty-2001_squeakie

Space Cadet (Pages: 67-74)

  • Artist: Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?)

Fiona Miller is annoyed by her younger sister Debbie, who is a sci-fi enthusiast. Debbie is particularly obsessed by a video game Space Cadet. But when Debbie starts acting nice and considerate, Fiona begins to suspect something is wrong. Then she sees Debbie with a green face talking to an alien n the tv screen, she tries to tell her parents but of course they don’t believe her. She figures out that this new “Debbie” has just replaced her sister and the real Debbie must be held someplace. It’s up to Fiona to rescue her sister, so she follows the alien to it’s ship. With the help  of her hockey stick Fiona is able to free her sister and they both escape the ship.

bunty-2001_space-cadet

This is my favourite art/colouring in the book. It is very vibrant colours but fits nicely not overpowering the details of the art. There is also some more interesting layout of the panels. The story is fun too, I am always a sucker for sci-fi stories anyway!

Selfish Sarah (Pages: 99-103)

  • Writer: Anne Bulcraig
  • Artist: Eduardo Feito

There’s already been discussion on this story as it first appeared under the name Green Fingers in the Mandy Picture Story Library Scream! The story has been redrawn here by Eduardo Feito (rather than original artist Carlos Freixas) this may be so it would fit better with the annual format more than the smaller sized picture library. There is some slight changes to the dialogue too but this is less noticeable.

The story is about a girl Sarah Peters, who is very selfish and never helps anyone if  it won’t benefit her. When she learns a Green Issue project for school has a cash prize, she becomes interested in a plant that has leaves shaped like hearts and cute animals, as she believes that it will help her win. After the owner spends some time with Sarah, she decides she can’t give her a cutting as she isn’t suitable. Sarah later sneaks over and takes a cutting anyway. Soon after the cutting begins to change shapes, into toads and witches, reflecting the kind of person Sarah is. The plant’s owner knows she took a cutting and warns her to bring it back before it’s too late. But of course Sarah doesn’t listen, and when she goes home she finds the plant has grown rapidly taking over her bedroom and it grabs her, leaving her screaming for help.

selfish-sarah

I do prefer the original art, but it is interesting to see another interpretation. I like Eduardo Feito’s  art in general and the end panel with the hand like plants reaching for Sarah is very effective. I think the bigger problem is the colouring swallows up some details, like the leave shapes, that would be more clearer in black and white. The story is still a solid, scary story with the bad girl getting fitting punishment, so I can see why it would be chosen for reprint.

The Four Marys (Pages: 107-111)

  • Artist: Jim Eldridge

The second Four Marys story also has a plot revolving around animals. This time Josie another student at St. Elmos tends to pick up animals that need helping. First she is hiding a hedgehog and nursing it back to health after it was hit by a car and  later an owl. With the Marys help they get permission to set up an animal hospital in the basement. Mabel and Veronica aren’t happy of course, as they think the basement would make a great den where they could play loud music. The snobs try to sabotage the project bu sending a letter to the school governor that animals were being kept in poor conditions and then messing up the hospital. Luckily the Marys overhear and catch them in the act. They make them clean up the mess they made and the visit by the governor goes well.

I usually find it hard to say much about the Four Marys, as a lot of times the stories are fairly standard for them. Not bad, just a bit repetitive. It is nice to see some more diversity in this story with Josie.

bunty-2001_4-marys

Lost in the Snow (Pages: 115-120)

  • Writer: Maureen Hartley
  • Artist: Peter Wilkes

Jade is disappointed that because of heavy snow, it looks like her grandparents won’t make it for Christmas. Later Jade is disturbed by a dog barking, he seems to want her to follow him. Jade and her father go to investigate and the dog leads them to a car stuck in the snowdrift. They find a family nearby looking for help, but then the dog disappears and they say that they don’t own a dog.  They end up having a good Christmas with their unexpected guests, but Jade still wonders where the dog came from. After inquiring to some neighbours, they say there are many black and white collies around the nearby farms. One boy jokes it could have been Bruce, a local tale of a dog who saved his master from a fire and died years ago but always turns up to help people in trouble. Later Jade sees a dog up on the hill, but when she goes to look he is gone and the are no paw-prints in the snow…

A nice little ghost mystery with some good art. I like the contrast of the bright, warm colours when they are inside and the colder colours out in the snow.

Lost in the Snow

Bunty 2009

bunty 2009This is the last Bunty annual, not including any ‘best of Bunty’ books that came out after it.  At a mere 80 pages including covers already it’s at a disadvantage for being 48 pages less than the older annuals. The cover shows a clear change in how they market the book. A cover girl appears but is mostly overwhelmed by flashy banners advertising whats inside and celebrity pictures.  Of course when this annual came out, the weekly issues had stopped for many years, so it may be understandable they are trying different methods to entice readers in with. Inside the annual, there is a table of contents, there are only 8 stories altogether; 4 picture stories, 2 text stories and 2 photo stories, the book is more feature heavy with 22 features. Some of the features  are factual articles, quizzes, posters and puzzle pages. The whole annual is full colour. (For just a list of contents click here)

Picture Stories

The Comp       (Pages: 19-25)

Art: Peter Wilkes

There are a lot of reprints in this annual, but this story I can’t confirm is a reprint,  it has some more up to date (for the time) references, like mention of the  X-Factor tv show, but it may have just updated the dialogue. At Redvale Comp there is going to be a concert for an end of term fund raiser. Laura, Roz,  Hayley and Becca are trying to think of an act for the concert and decide they will perform as  a tribute band – the Spice Girls, as they were when they started. They need a fifth person, they ask Nikki but she says her and Claire are more comfortable handling backstage stuff. Freddy volunteers to be Scary Spice. Stancee, Roz’s stepsister directs the group. They plan to mime and dance, but then the auditions take place and don’t allow any props. They try their best and luckily their routine and explanation means they barely make it, despite the bad singing. On the night of the concert in their costumes they are the hit of the concert, even if Jayne the Payne and Margaret aren’t impressed. The story is fine, nice to see the Comp gang again, although it may seem familiar to me because I think it was quite common for The Comp annual stories to revolve around some sort of concert!

Bunty_2009_comp

Strictly Dancing!      (Pages: 33-38)

Art: Andy Tew

This was first printed in the 1995 annual under a different name – The Perfect Partner. The story has also had a colour update. now in full-colour rather than the orange/black/white it was before. There are some other changes-  like the lettering is different, there are some alterations to the dialogue (mainly to reiterate the title strictly dancing) and the main characters names are changed. Danielle has her name shortened to Danni and Mark  becomes Nat.

The story itself has Nat and Danni as friends and dance partners. It isn’t until someone points out that they would make a great couple that Danni realises her feelings for Nat aren’t platonic. Unfortunately at the same time Nat gets a girlfriend, Zoe. When Zoe comes to watch their dance practices, Danni can’t concentrate and decides to dance solo for a while. Nat misses Danni though and he realizes he also has feelings for her so the resume their partnership and start dating. The colour update is fine, it doesn’t overwhelm the original drawing, so it works well. The forced extra dialogue can be a bit much though “We’re strictly dancing partners”  “It’s strictly dancing to him. Nothing more”.  Still the story holds up well enough and clearly isn’t outdated that it still works 14 years later.

Bunty_2009_strictly

perfectpartners_B95

The Four Marys      (Pages: 45-49)

Art: Jim Eldridge

The Four Marys story is set at Christmas with the opening splash page of the girls and their class caroling around a Christmas tree. Later at a shop the other Marys tell Cotty that she is going to need to brush up on her French when she wins the Chrismas Card Art Competition, the prize of which is a trip to Disneyland Paris. Cotty modest as ever says others could win including Carol, a kind girl whose parents have fallen on hard times. Cotty notices that  Carol gives a little boy some extra money so he can afford to buy a present and get the bus home. Later at school the paintings for the competition are hanging. Everyone is agreeing Cotty’s is the best, but she no longer wants to win and would rather Carol did. Cotty looks at Carol’s knows how it could be improved. That night she makes some changes to both pictures adding a little extra to Carol’s picture and making hers a little duller. The next day Carol wins the competition.

Bunty_2009_4 marys

It is a nice gesture by Cotty but it does seem to diminish Carol’s abilities a bit.  Because of course no one could actually be better than Cotty! Not only does she have to make her own picture look less good she also has to improve Carol’s picture. Also while Cotty’s painting of the school is nice, it’s not very Christmassy compared to Carols.

Carly’s Cats!        (Pages: 57 – 63)

Art: John Armstrong

Another reprint taken from the 1995 annual. The lettering and the title style have changed, probably to fit in better with the rest of the book. There are some slight changes to the dialogue and little changes like the closing statement in the last panel was initially just a thought rather than spoken out loud. Also the main cat’s name changes from Griselda to Maisie.

The story is about  a girl Carly that works in a cat sanctuary but the cats home lease is up, so they have to try to find homes for each of the cats or the cats will be put down. She finds homes for a few, though she does run into a few problems like a fashion designer, who just wants an exotic cat, Tang, as a background ornament. Carly takes Tang back explaining cats are pets not ornaments, luckily on the way home  Tang escapes and runs into a man’s home who would love a new cat after his old one died. One of the cats Maisie keeps getting into trouble by exploring a neighbour’s property. This turns out to be a lucky thing when a fire starts and Maisie wakes up the owner. In gratitude, she offers the cat sanctuary to set up in her old outbuildings.

Bunty_2009_Carlys cats

This was one of my favourite stories when I read it first time around in the older annual, and it still as good now, this is in large part due to John Armstrong’s great artwork.

Text Stories

The New Girl      (Pages: 40-41)

Writer: Susan Elizabeth Issacs
Illustrations: Susannah Fishbourne

The text stories and their spot art are actually credited in this book! It is strange that sometimes text stories would be credited but they still didn’t like to print who was responsible for picture stories. Anyway this story is about a girl Lexi that moves to a new town. On her first day she makes friends with the next door neighbour Petra and her cousin, Dawn, that lives close by. Petra is going away on holidays, but Lexi is excited to make plans with Dawn. But then Dawn doesn’t call all week. When she sees her in town she ignores her. Then she literally bumps into her spilling drink on her, Dawn calls her an idiot and walks away. Lexi is upset but surprised when Petra returns and she still wants to be friends. It turns out Dawn’s been in hospital with appendicitis and it was actually Dawn’s sister Claire that Lexi ran into.

Suzy Plays a Trick      (Pages: 68-69)

Writer: Tracy Joy Holroyd
Illustrations: Susannah Fishbourne

I wonder is this the same Tracy J Holroyd that wrote Children’s History of Lancashire and Children’s History of Manchester? Suzy and her friend Amy decide to play a trick on the cast of the play their in. There is a ghost story about a twisted grey ghost appearing on the balcony of the old theatre. During rehearsal Suzy plans to dress up as the ghost, and then Amy will point out the ghost to everyone.  The trick starts off as planned, and at first Suzy is impressed at Amy’s acting skills, but then everyone starts panicking so she rushes down, to calm them. She meets the boys on the stairs they tell her they knew it was her playing a trick what everyone was scared of was the appearance of a ghastly twisted grey figure behind her! Nice little scary story and the spot art shows that Suzy is a person of colour, which is nice to see some bit of diversity as all the other protagonists in the annuals are white.

bunty 2009_suzy trick

Photo Stories

Two’s Company…      (Pages: 7-12)

Bunty 2009 twos companySally has some trouble in her school as she is being teased because her mum is temporary head. One girl, Lori, is the leader of all this and gets some boys to ask Sally about an upcoming dance, getting her hopes up and then walking away. Luckily Sally has her friend Jo to support her, so when she sees Lori’s brother, Al, waiting near her house she tells him she knows about jokes and cuts him off before he can say anything. Jo talks to him though and convinces Sally to listen to him, he’s not like his sister and really likes Sally and wants to go to the dance with him. I’m not a fan of photo stories but i will give it some recognition for making a more interesting, eye catching layout than normal.

Choices!      (Pages: 72-77)

This is the better of the two photo stories. Andrea is training to be top athlete, unfortunately it means she hasn’t a lot of time for her friends. She is excited when she is entered into county trials and wants to tell her best friend Jackie. It turns out Jackie has news too some friends have been challenged to an inter school bowling match, they want Andrea to play but she can’t because its the night before the trials. She is upset when Jackie doesn’t understand. During training her coach can tell somethings wrong, and Jackie tells her, she is torn between friends and athletics. The coach listen but tells her that Andrea has to come to her own decision about whats most important. She decides she wants to see how good an athlete she can be. But while athletics is the dream she wants to pursue she is also more conscious of neglecting her friends and realizes she can do more. Her and Jackie make up and Andrea says she’ll come to the bowling game to cheer them on for a little bit.

Bunty_2009_choices

Features

This annual is more feature heavy then previous annuals and there is also more focus on celebrities, but there is still room for quizzes, puzzles and crafts. While some of the articles have photos, the features with illustrations are actually credited.

A to Z of Things We Like!      (Pages: 2-3, 78-79)

Illustrations: Susannah Fishbourne

Inside the covers is a bright list of things that the readers may like such as Friends, Kittens, Reading, X-Mas.

Bunty_2009 AtoZ

Starscope      (Page: 4)

A short horoscope – as a Gemini mine was: A text or email might bring big news. Lucky Month: March, Lucky Number: 7 Star Birthday: Johnyy Depp (9th June)

Posters      (Pages: 6, 18, 39, 70)

A poster for every season of the year. These are photos of animals. Spring – Chickens, Summer- kitten, Autumn – Westie and Winter – Penguin. Each animal also has a funny thought or speech bubble.

10 Funky Facts About…      (Pages: 13, 28, 44, 51, 56)

The more celebrity based feature telling us about; Miley Cyrus, the ‘High School’ Guys (Zac Efron, Corbin Bleu, Lucas Grabeel), Ashley Tisdale, Emma Roberts, Dylan and Cole Sprouse

Quizzes:

There are several quizzes throughout the annual, 2 involve answering questions and seeing is full under the mostly a, b, c or d category. Those two quizzes are checking how good a friend you are and what starsign your personality matches up with. There is a also a flowchart quiz to determine what type of holidays do you like

  • How Do You Rate as a Mate?      (Pages: 14-15) [Illustrations: Wayne Thompson]
  • Home or Away?      (Page: 50)
  • Are You Really Like Your Star Sign?  (Pages: 54-55) [Illustrations: Wayne Thompson]Bunty_2009_Mate

 

Puzzles:

There are a variety of puzzles, including Take Five! which has word searches on topics like animals, British places, collectibles.  Other puzzles are crosswords, ladder puzzles and spot the difference.

  • Take Five!      (Pages: 16-17, 52-53)
  • Puzzled!      (Pages: 42-43)
  • Snakes ‘n’ Ladders      (Pages: 66-67)

All About….     (Pages: 26-27, 64-65)

Readers share a part of their life, first up is Alex  who likes reading, baking and helps her dad look after bees. The second is about Amelia, who likes acting, swimming and fortune telling.

We Love Elephants!      (Pages: 29-31)

Three pages dedicated to Elephants, which leads into the next feature…

Create Your Very Own Ele-Friend      (Page: 32)

Some arts and crafts with instructions to make paper mache elephant.

Chill Out!      (Page: 71)

Another factual article about animals, in this case – penguins.

Final Thoughts

The content of this annual is actually fine, there is quite a nice variety, but it does suffer in comparison to other annuals by having less pages. It’s funny that The Best of Bunty Annual that came out last year had a few less pages but seems more substantial (of course has to be noted that the target audience is different for that book). For me at least that is probably because it had more space dedicated to stories, 60 pages compared to the 42 pages in this annual. Another thing that I don’t like in this annual is the lettering, it’s most prominent in comparing it to the older stories that were reprinted. It’s less subtle, bigger and bolder and doesn’t always suit the story.  There is a consistency throughout the annual, which can be nice, I was also happy to see some people credited with their work.

The Three Imps

Plot:

Jenni Taylor, Karen Lander and Kiki Nagomi are three close friends that attend a  boarding school, the Imperial Ballet School.  Some stories include; Jenni having to deal with a teacher that takes a dislike to her and the girls helping hide a runaway at the school.

three imps

Notes:

  • Art: Jim Eldridge

Appeared:

  • The Three Imps–  Bunty:  circa 1202 (24 January 1981) – 1378 (09 June 1984)

Other Appearances:

  • The Three Imps – Bunty Annual 1983
  • The Three Imps – Bunty Annual 1985

 

Silent Illness (A Four Marys Story)

  • Silent Illness – Bunty (PSL): #439 (1997)B439_silent_illness
  • Artist: Jim Eldridge

Plot

A Four Marys story where Cotty catches a viral infection which causes her to lose her hearing. Her parents want to send her away to a special school to cope, but with the Marys support, Cotty convinces them that she can stay on at St. Elmos. The girls start to study sign language, Cotty learns to lip read, the school changes the tv to have subtitles and Creef makes sure to write things on the board. Mabel and Veronica are also eager to help out as they feel responsible as Veronica purposely sneezed on Cotty. They are unconvinced when the Marys tell them its completely unrelated. Even though the snobs are being friendly and trying to help, they end up causing more trouble for Cotty. Veronica tunes Cotty’s violin before a concert causing great embarrassment to Cotty, who can’t hear its out of tune. They also annoy Cotty to an extent, that she insists she can go meet the others on her own. This is bad luck as a fire drill goes off while she is on her own.

silent_illness_01

Of course Cotty’s parents arrive and are not happy; if it was a real fire Cotty could have been killed. So Cotty has to leave. The new girl that takes her place is Mary Smith, and though its not the same as old times, the girls do get along well with Smithy and they start their usual adventures, rescuing puppies and fundraising.  Just when things seem to be settling in Smithy’s father gets a job in Australia and she has to move. The Marys are disappointed and worried about who her replacement will be. They are surprised to find Cotty back. Turns out the deafness was just temporary. The snobs are dismissive of her taking advantage, so back to their old ways and everything is back to normal.

Thoughts

This is one of the many PSL books the Marys were featured in. There was about 15 of these PSL stories. This was also a book with a Four Marys symbol, that was used before but not regularly, the last 3 Four Marys PSL books all had this symbol.

4marysstory

Interestingly Cotty nearly leaves St. Elmos for a music academy in another story in the weekly issues. She is also replaced by a girl called Mary but she isn’t as nice as Smithy is in this story. In fact she becomes friends with the snobs. It could have been interesting to see one of the Marys replaced permanently, though shocking as well! Smithy doesn’t get much time for characterisation but appears to fit in well with the group

silent_illness_02

Cotty seems to pick up lip reading quickly which can’t  be that easy. Also  lip reading is made harder that phonemes can often be visually the same. Adjusting to a new disability would take more time than depicted in this story, but it is nice to see the effort the girls and the school make, to help with the adjustment. The snobs trying to be nice is amusing, they are even happy when Smithy joins up. It’s a story that concentrates a lot on the girls friendships, and even if the snobs make things difficult, there is no antagonist here. Strangely, even though it is Cotty that is having to adapt to her new life, the story is shown more from the other Marys perspective. There is the time where Cotty decides she has enough of Mabel and Veronica and goes to practice music on her own, but other than that it’s mainly the other girls  making the effort to ensure Cotty is settling back in and then getting used to Cotty being gone.  Of course, everything is back to the status quo by the end of the story.

silent_illness_03               

The Four Marys

 

  • The Four Marys – Bunty: #01 (18 January 1958) –  #2249 (17 February 2001)
  • Writers: Maureen Hartley (2 Stories: “Creefy’s Rival” and “The Mystery Virus”)
  • Artists: Bill Holroyd (#01-#15), James ‘Peem’ Walker, Manuel Cuyàs (#434 – #436), Selby Donnison, Jim Eldridge

Plot

Four girls all named Mary attend a reputable boarding school, St. Elmos. They become firm friends and usually go by their nicknames Raddy, Simpy, Fieldy and Cotty. Throughout their time they have many adventures and solve some mysteries.

Thoughts

This is one of the most well remembered stories, and that has to be partially due to its longevity. A 40 year run is quite impressive. The strip appeared in the majority of the issues but wasn’t a continuous run from first to last issue. There was a couple of breaks particularly in the 80s, though they never went away for too long. There were some reprints over the years particularly towards the end of Bunty.

1950s/1960s

The first 15  issues were drawn by Bill Holroyd, and each girl had their own distinctive look.  The early years had an Enid Blyton tone to the stories, they had the usual boarding school routines,  as well as chase up some mysterious going-ons.

fourmarys_02

While all the girls had their own personality and talents, Mary Simpson was probably one of the most inspirational to young girls. A smart working class girl, that had earned her place in a good school, yet had to contend with being looked down on by some snobs. Bunty in the late 50s was aimed at a more working class background and at the time it was quite a novelty to put a scholarship girl as a main character.  Overall it seems the big appeal of the story was the relationships and friendship of the girls. (Mel Gibson discusses such things in her essay: What Bunty did next….)

While it’s true that the friendships were very important, probably most people had their favourite Mary. Personally I always had a soft spot for Mary Cotter, the talented but often shy and clumsy Mary. Mary Radleigh was the daughter of an Earl but also hated anyone putting on airs and graces, she was loyal and down to earth. Mary Field was the active sports mad girl, that could be a little too pushy at times. Of course 2 other regular characters were the snobs; Mabel and Veronica, who disliked Simpy for her lower class upbringing and the Marys in general for being popular and goody two shoes!

The boarding school itself was full of traditions. Dr. Gull was the head mistress, sometimes known as the Squawker (and the first years were called the Newts). While the girls were allowed to go to the local town, Elmbury, they were expected to behave appropriately, wear their full uniform and there were certain shops they weren’t allowed visit. Miss Creef was the third form mistress, who held up the various traditions but was also described as firm but fair.

Story arcs from this decade included; a mystery surrounding  a hermit teacher Miss Johnson who turns out to be a former student; Lady Josephine Bramily. She has amnesia after a boating accident. Luckily, Mary Simpson and head girl, Ann Fairlie, help her  recover her memories so she can go reclaim her inheritance. Another mysterious teacher Miss Mandy seems to have hidden past with a young cockney that involves thieving. The girls help a young girl Hilda secure a job as maid in the school, only to discover someone’s out to get her fired.  Mary Cotter damages her eye in a lab accident and  nearly does worse damage when she mixes up eye ointment with a bottle of bleach, luckily Simpy catches her in time, and eventually Cotty’s eyes recover (although by the end of the series, her eyesight declines and she ends up having to get glasses!).  A group of girls dub themselves ‘the avengers’ and punish any girl that has done any wrong doing. Simpy discover that it is Raddy and Fieldy doing such things after they let her join them in dunking a cheating prefect Avril in a bath.

fourmarys_01

Early on the stories usually consisted of 2 pages, though later this got expanded to 3 pages. The girls interestingly didn’t refer to each other by nicknames, for the first few years they continued to just call each other Mary. I’m not sure when exactly the change happened but it made sense to start giving them each a distinctive name to be referred as.

1970s

There was a lot of reprinted stories in the 70s.  It was quite common to reprint shorter serials in these comics and with a long running strip like the Four Marys it may have been hard to keep the weekly turnover of new stories. Presumably it was also thought that readers of the first printing would have outgrown the comic by then.

Some of the new stories included; the school being threatened by a flood. A cycle trip with the cycle club led by Miss Creef, Mabel and Veronica mess with Simpy’s old bike in the hopes of getting back to the school earlier. Simpy manages to borrow an old 3 wheeler bike and enter in a race. She doesn’t win but the winner gives her the prize of a new bike for being so entertaining. Cotty believes she is under a gypsy curse and those close to her are getting harmed, it turns out to be a combination of  Mabel and Veronica playing some tricks and a scheme to take over the school. Raddy has trouble looking out for her cousin Sonia.  A feud between Mr Crowe, a local farmer, and the school starts over the school using the right of way to walk through his land.

4marys_04

 

1980s

Like I mentioned before the 80s saw the Four Marys on some breaks. On one of these breaks the regular ongoing story had some similar themes, involved 3 friends in a ballet boarding school called The Three Imps. Perhaps they were testing out permanent replacements or maybe they just needed a break, but the Marys did return again and with a new artist. At the end of the 80s a new format seemed to settle with the Marys. With them being the first story in the issue, and the more modern School’s Out (which was replaced with The Comp by 1989) as the last story of the issue. Dr Gull had been replaced by the more forward thinking Miss Mitchell, and the girls even got to interact with boys from St. Bartophs boarding school.  The end of 1989 was also when Bunty got a new colour update. While some stories were still in black and white, The Four Marys were now fully coloured.

4marys_05

Some stories in the 1980s include the girls rallying a strike to stop Miss Creef being dismissed after a fall out with Dr Gull. A group of unruly circus girls joining the school temporarily. A new American pupil Lana  gets elected captain of the Bee’s House and wants to hold up all St. Elmos traditions including challenging the village boys to a football match, running barefoot down to the town and raising the house flag on the clock tower. A mystery involving the school’s founder Margaret Carews actual death. A temporary Home Economics teacher who has been secretly keeping her toddler daughter at the school. A competition sees the Marys all split up into different teams, this causes problems but in the end they all come together. St Elmo’s comes under threat of closure when they start to lose students, of course the school is saved with the help of the Marys.

1990s/ 2000s

So the 90s started with the Four Marys in colour and now expanded to 4 pages. The Four Marys was trying to change with the times, with the more up to date Miss Mitchell, continuing to modernise the school, and even Cotty stopped wearing her hair in 2 plaits. The girls were now frequently seen out of uniform as they were able to wear their regular clothes down town and like I mentioned before they were even mixing with boys. Still even with this more modern tone, the girls still has familiar adventures; dealing with new teachers with hidden agendas, threats to the school and tests of their friendships. By the end of the 90s earlier stories were reprinted a lot.

4marys_06

Stories in the 90s included; Mary Field having trouble when her cousin becomes her teacher, causing the other girls to think she’s a teacher’s pet. The girls go on a trip to America with Miss Creef and help foil a jewel thief. The girls try to help a girl they believe is being held captive. It turns out the wheelchair bound, Ailsa, who just has an overprotective aunt, but agrees to let her join St. Elmos. When a famous fashion designer comes to St. Elmos to unveil her new collection, it seems someone is out to sabotage her.  A story set in the past shows the Marys first term in St. Elmos. Raddy gets held captive by robbers who coerce Miss Mitchell into letting them hide out the school. The other Marys soon get suspicious of the new “gardener” and Miss Mitchell’s story that Raddy was sent home sick.

4marys_10

In the final story for The Four Marys, it looks like they will be split up when Cotty fails her exams and will have to leave St. Elmos. Luckily she passes her resit test, Raddy gets elected as form captain and Simpy ends the strip on line “The Four Marys forever”

bunty_2249_4maryslastissue

 

Final Thoughts

The Four Marys certainly had lasting power, although by the 80s/90s I think they were considered somewhat old fashioned, and so there was changes made to modernise them. At the same time the Marys were permanently stuck in the 3rd form, similar story-lines were repeated and in some ways they felt quite worn out. Still they appealed to a lot of readers. Personally growing up I did enjoy the Four Marys but I  was definitely more interested with The Comp. Funnily reading back the older issues even though it was before my time I actually find the 60s stuff appealing to me more, the art was more simplistic and it had a nice charm with the setting and stories. I think sometimes the Marys could come off a little too good and helpful at times, but still they weren’t without their flaws and their solid friendship it seems is one of the things that interested people.

The art changed a lot over the years and while the artists all did well, my personal favourites are  James Walker (60s) and Selby Donnison (80s).  There was a lot of adventure, mystery, fun and characters that you could get invested in.

 

Quick Links:

The Four Marys – Characters                                List of Appearances 

Bunty 1995

Bunty_Ann_1995Bunty had a long run of annuals, up to 1988 Bunty appeared on the covers, after that cover girls were used instead. There was still plenty of picture stories inside, long running popular characters like The Four Marys and The Comp are present, along with complete new stories.  In this book, there are 17 picture stories altogether, only 1 text story though.  By this time photo stories were a common element, still there are only 2 photo stories present here. There isn’t a lot of  features only 5 here. Overall there’s a nice variety here. (For just a list of contents click here)

 

Picture Stories

The Four Marys    (Pages: 5-12/ 76-80)

Artist:  Jim Eldridge

Probably the most famous of school stories and the longest running, the Four Marys was about 4 friends that attended a boarding school, St. Elmos. For the most part they went by nicknames to avoid confusion (though in early stories they did not).  Raddy was the down to earth- daughter of an Earl, Simpy was the scholarship girl, who often got a hard time from the snobs Mabel and Veronica,  Cotty was the artistic one and also sometimes a klutz, and finally Fieldy was the sporty one.

In this annual there are two stories about the girls. The first is a Christmas themed story. While most of the school has gone home for the holidays, a group including the four Marys and snobs Mabel and Veronica are left behind for a few extra days as their parents aren’t around yet. It starts to snow and the girls have great fun the first day having snowball fights and sledding. Then it continues to snow and the girls wake up to find the electricity gone. While Mabel and Veronica complain about everything, everyone else gets on with things. Later when the girls are out, another pupil Andrea has an accident and hurts her leg. The girls get her back to the school but she will need to get to hospital. The phones are down and the roads have yet to be cleared, but luckily Raddy is a great skier and manages to go for help. They get Andrea to hospital and also get supplies for the school. The roads still won’t be cleared for Christmas though so they will have to stay. The girls don’t mind so much. Though Mabel and Veronica amusingly do.

four_marys_B95

The second story has Raddy become a snob after a skiing accident. A blow to her head causes amnesia, while her memories return, her personality changes. Her parents hope that being around friends will help her recover. While Miss Mitchell and Creef are aware of this plan they don’t actually think it would be helpful to inform the other Marys about Raddy’s accident, so they get a surprise when Raddy comes in and starts ordering them around. and insist everyone refers to her as Lady Mary. Another knock on the head cures her, though when Simpy accidentally drops a book on her head.

Secret Schoolgirl    (Pages: 17-20, 71-74, 97-100)

This is a story in 3 parts which was a more common trait for Mandy annuals.  Amy is at boarding school when she hears her parent’s plane has crashed and they likely haven’t survived. She has to go live with her aunt who is mean to her and treats her like a free maid.  The people at her new school aren’t any nicer, so Amy goes back to Blackstone and her friends agree to hide her. They find the perfect place in the drama room, which is situated near a classroom so she can hear lessons and also she can dress up in disguise quickly when needed. When Amy sees a new girl stealing she make sure she’s caught but also the police are called. She thinks it’s too much of a risk to stay and runs away when she sees the police coming.  She trips and knocks herself unconscious. When she wakes up in hospital her parents are there they had survives the crash after all. This was common when someone says that no-one is likely to have survived a crash, the dead people would turn up by the end of the story!

Annie’s Story     (Pages: 21-25)

The opening caption box for this story places the time period as April 1985 but judging by their dress and background it is meant to say 1895. Unless it’s some time warped village which would put an interesting spin on the reading or a reminder of Shyamalan’s The Village! Annie is new to the village but has fitted in well as she is a friendly, nice girl. This does lead to some trouble with two girls; Mary and Ellen. They are especially mad when it comes to picking the May Queen, Annie makes sure a young  disabled girl gets to be the Queen. This leads to a fight where Annie gets knocked onto an oncoming horse and cart. It is revealed that the family had moved to the village after Annie had nearly died from an illness and her eagerness to help of others is mostly due to her gratitude of surviving. On hearing this Mary and Ellen see the error of their ways and are very sorry about the accident.  By the next summer Annie is recovered and the 3 are good friends visiting sick kids in the hospital.

A Dancer’s Dream    (Pages: 26-32)

Artist: Guy Peeters

Hannah longs to be a ballerina and when she gets an audition for a scholarship at a famous ballet school she is thrilled. The audition is to take place over a weekend and Hannah is to room with 2 other candidates, Stephanie and Nicola. Hannah quickly becomes friends with Stephanie but Nicola is quite a nasty person, who makes sure to suck up to the teachers while trying to sabotage the other girls on the side. Hannah ends up being late for her audition as she tries to comfort a girl Gail that Nicola upset.

dancer_B95

Hannah thinks she may have lost her chance but it turns out Stephanie is already a student at the school and she was there to make sure that as well as being talented,  a generous and kind pupil was chosen. Predictable that Nicola would be found out, but still a decent story with decent art.

My Pen Pal From Pluto    (Pages: 33-39)

Alien antics are always fun!  Karen’s brother  Martin customises a satellite dish so he can  get channels from all over the world. It turns out the dish doesn’t just pick up transmissions from our world, as Karen finds herself communicating with a girl from Pluto; Aurora. No one believes her as she can never get Aurora to appear when people are around.  Aurora comes to visit for a day, and of course causes trouble when she does such things as put food samples in her bag saying they will be interesting for scientific study.

pen_pal_B95  pen_pal_2B95

Before a French lesson Karen tries to use Aurora’s language translator to help her, but Aurora’s too late in explaining you need to point it at the person who is fluent in that language. Aurora is beamed back to her ship before fixing it and Karen is left only able to speak Pluto. Luckily at their next transmission Aurora is able to fix Karen, just in time because the neighbours have complained and Martin has to take down dish.

I like the alien Aurora design, though she still looks close to human, it is still fun, which matches the fun, light-hearted tone of the story.

Bunty- A Girl Like You    (Pages: 48/123)

Bunty gets up to her usual amusing antics. In the first strip Bunty and her friends are annoyed by people in the cinema talking and eating loudly. Lisa convinces the girls that they can watch a video quietly while babysitting her cousins, but of course things don’t work out that way as the kids stay up banging on drums while the girls try to watch their film.

In the second strip Bunty builds a snowman but the next morning all the snow has melted. It starts snowing again so she build another one. Her mother tells her next morning her snowman is gone again but Bunty isn’t disappointed as this time it is because it snowed even more during the night and now she can build even more snowmen.

bunty_b95

Also of note is that Bunty appears on the first 2 pages and the last 2 pages inside the cover. It is more like the traditional way of the old Bunty; an amusing rhyme goes along with the images.