Tag Archives: Julio Bosch

Bunty Summer Special 1996

Summer has arrived so I thought it would be fun to look at something appropriately themed – a Summer Special! This isn’t something that I’ve looked at before on this site, in part because Summer Specials seem to be more rarer to come by then other issues. There may be a few reasons for this, firstly  just looking at the DCT girls comics, despite having many popular long running titles, it seems Bunty was the only comic to get Summer/Holiday Specials. For a few years it did combine with Judy (from 1974 to 1980) to share a special between them, but it means there just aren’t as many specials out there in the first place.  To the best of my knowledge Bunty Summer Specials ran from 1963 to 2004, so there are only 42 issues in total. I wonder if they didn’t sell as well as the weekly issues, and weren’t deemed cost efficient to produce issues for multiple publications. Like the Annual, these were filled with favourite characters and one-off complete stories, so there was less of need to collect in case of missing an episode of an ongoing serial. Unlike the Annuals these were just a thicker weekly issue, so not as durable as the hardback books. They could have also been a bit more disposable, as they would be bought to entertain on holidays, long car journeys, read on the beach etc. , maybe not all of them made it back home again.

The comic I am looking at in this post is the Bunty Summer Special 1996 (issue 34). Also Special thanks to Jim Eldridge (The Four Marys artist) for sending me a copy. At 48 pages (including front and back cover) it is an extra 16 pages than the weekly comic. Inside there are 9  stories, 4 of them being regular characters, The Four Marys, Luv Lisa, Bunty -a girl like you and The Comp. The 5 others are complete stories and filling out the rest of the comic is a number of features, including Puzzles , Pin Ups, Star Chart , Cut-Out Wardrobe and a fun highlight for me, is  a Four Mary’s Game.

Of course the features and stories stick with the holiday theme. First up in The Four Marys, (art: Jim Eldridge) the girls are in Venice with the rest of their class. Mabel and Veronica are flashing their money around, while the Marys enjoy exploring. It turns out all their walking around helps them stop a thief as they have learned the back routes to places and they get rewarded for returning the stolen purse. So while the Marys can enjoy treating themselves, Mabel and Veronica run out of money and the boys they were hanging around with are suddenly not interested any more!

Lisa Codd meanwhile is having trouble with her brother Martin in Luv, Lisa. For the Summer, they are meant to be sharing  the job of looking after the dogs, but Lisa ends up doing all the work, alongside her summer job. She complains about the dogs taking up all her spare time, but when the family are to go away on holiday she doesn’t want them to just go in the kennels, and persuades her Mom to take them with her.

In Mystery Maid, while Becky is staying in a hotel her room keeps getting messed up and she sees a maid in a black uniform, but  can never catch up with her. When her parents point out all the cleaning staff just wear jeans and t-shirts, she wonders who the girl is. Then coincidentally her friend arrives with the History Society group she is holidaying with. It seems they are doing tours of haunted buildings and they are at this hotel because it is meant to be haunted by a maid from when it was a private house…

In Bunty – a Girl Like You  Bunty enjoys a day out at the beach,  but she doesn’t enjoy the wet dog smell on the way home!

Holly’s Hero with art by Eduardo Feito is set in America, where A girl Holly is a big fan of Beach Watch (obviously a Baywatch reference) and in particular it’s star Chad Chadwick. When Beach Watch starts filming nearby, she is starstruck, but when her dog gets in trouble in the water and Chad wont help because it will mess up his hair and makeup, she sees him as the vain, selfish person he is. Luckily a  friend, (a boy who has had a crush on Holly) saves the dog and Holly sees how he is much better than her “hero”.

The only other photo story besides Luv, Lisa, Dee’s Day Out is about a girl who just moved to a town. As it’s Summer holidays she hasn’t made any friends yet so she is quite fed up. She decides to make a trip to her old home town but misses the train. She does end up meeting a local girl, Tanya, who offers to show her around. By the end of the day she is pleased with what the new town has to offer, she has made friends and has a date.

In Rags to the Rescue, Yvonne is spending her Summer holidays at home in the remote farm, she is happy to have her dog, Rags for company but she wouldn’t mind some human companionship too. There is potential when a neighbouring farm has their nephew, Lee, visiting, but Yvonne seems to keep missing him. But when he gets lost in a cave it is Rags that tracks him down and it is a start of a friendship for Yvonne.

Karen and Jenny are best friends, but after a holiday together will they be Forever Friends? (art by Julio Bosch)At first they are excited that Karen’s parent’s are bringing them to a holiday camp but Karen is not pleased to see how much stuff Jenny is bringing with her. By the end of the car journey they are not talking to each other and neither one of them wants to make up first. After getting stuck on a chair lift together they realise how silly they’ve been and enjoy the rest of the holiday together. Although it looks like there will be more arguments on the way home!

The pupils at The Comp set off for a school trip to Scotland, Grim Gertie expects them to wear their uniform but luckily she is not actually on the trip and Carlton says they can change once they’re away from the school. Freddy and Hodge mess around at one of the Lochs causing Freddy to fall in and later the class participate in some highland games. When the boys get kilts on, Laura threatens to pin the photo on school notice board when they return.

While the regular characters all get at least 5 pages, but the other stories only get 3 pages. This can leave things a bit cramped plot wise, for example in Forever Friends? the girls having a fall out in the car seems a bit soon or in Mystery Maid, we don’t get much of a reason why the ghost maid would be messing things up, other than because she’s a ghost! Still it is a fun issue, that would certainly get readers in the holiday spirit, it has lots of colour and fun features, such as puzzles and it would be good entertainment, whether you were stuck on a long journey or just at home.

 

 

Teacher’s Pet [1990]

  • Teacher’s Pet  – Judy: #1574 (10 March 1990) – #1583 (12 May 1990)
  • Artist: Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?)

Plot

Anna Norman gets on well in school until the arrival of a new teacher Miss Johnstone. Her new form teacher, starts favouring her immediately, earning Anna the name of “Teacher’s Pet” from her classmates. Even when Anna tries to get in trouble it makes things worse, such as when she is late to class she expects to be punished, like her other classmates were, but “Stoney” Johnstone just lets her away with it, and everyone else just thinks Anna’s taking advantage. When it comes time to elect a form captain Johnstone makes it clear that she thinks Anna has the right qualities for the job and commiserates with her when she lose out to Lucy. No amount of objections from Anna can convince her friends that she never wanted to be captain. It continues to get worse, on a museum trip, Johnstone implies that Anna told tales on Lucy and Anna rues the day the teacher took a liking to her. One good thing comes out of the trip is that her old friend Ros has gotten suspicious of Johnstone’s motives and points out to Anna that everything she does gets her in trouble and perhaps Johnstone doesn’t favour her at all!

Anna puts this theory test by speaking in slang to Johnstone when no one else is around, and gets a more typical “Stoney” response, but in class when she does it, Johnstone suggests she’d be perfect for reading the lead Pygmalion. She enlists Ros’s help to find out why Johnstone is doing this, Ros agrees to help but doesn’t want to get too involved for fear of losing friends. So in secret Ros and Anna start investigating Miss Johnstone, they find out where she lives and theorize that Anna may look like a sister that she dislikes. That theory is soon disproved as Johnstone is an only child. While Stoney is away for the weekend they do more snooping where she lives and gets talking to a neighbour of hers. Seeing a letter in a book she lent the neghbour, they think they have a new clue. It involves the local dramatics society and they think Stoney is upset because she lost out to a younger actress similar to Anna that also has the same name. Again this theory quickly goes nowhere, as the letter actually was Mrs Greys’, the neighbour.

Johnstone assigns Anna to the school disco committee, despite Lucy volunteering, not winning Anna any favours from the others. The theme is to be the 60s, so Anna asks to borrow some of her Dad’s records, but he won’t let his precious collection out of the house, her mom says he had them even before they met (some foreshadowing here!). Then while setting up for the disco, Anna gets in Stoney’s bad books temporarily for playing “Twist and Shout” by the Beatles. Stoney ends up scratching the record in her hurry to turn it off. Wayne, the owner of the record, blames Anna for putting it on. Ros thinks they finally have a clue to Stoney’s past and they must find out why she hates that song so much.

Things look up for Anna, when Ros introduces her to her cousin Tom and they hit it off, but of course Stoney tries to cause problems. Anna then tells her mom that she she is having problems with Miss Johnstone praising her all the time, so her mom says she will have a word with her on parents night. But on the night Johnstone leaves suddenly with a headache before meeting the Normans. Ros who has smoothed things with Tom, reckons that Stoney had a broken romance, and wanted to break Anna and Tom up, though it doesn’t explain why she’s targeting Anna specifically. She soon finds out the reason why, when they get a chance to look in Johnstone’s flat while Mrs Grey is looking after her cat. Anna finds a picture of young Johnstone with a man whose face is crossed out, but she recognises the car in the background. A visit to her grandmother and looking through old photo albums, confirms her suspicions, the man in the photo was her dad! Mr Norman had never made the connection with the name but he was once engaged to Jean Johnstone but broke it off because of her jealousy and moodiness. They contact the headmistress and Johnstone doesn’t even deny it when confronted, she is happy she took her revenge. Learning the truth her classmates are sorry for how they treated Anna, she forgives them easily as she doesn’t want to end up like Stoney holding a grudge for years.

Thoughts

This is an interesting hate campaign story, there are several things that make it stand out from similar stories. Firstly that it is an adult campaigning against the protagonist rather than a peer. Miss Johnstone is in a position of power, she abuses this terribly and has no regrets that she punishes an innocent girl for the perceived wrong doings of her father. She also doesn’t regret ruining her own career because of this. Even without her revenge plan, Miss Johnstone isn’t a nice person, she soon earns her nickname “Stoney” with her tough discipline and hard attitude. We later learn it is not just being dumped that has turned her into this bitter person (although it certainly doesn’t help!) as even as a younger woman Johnstone was prone to jealousy and moodiness. Seems Mr Norman had a lucky escape!

Another thing that makes it stand out, is that it is not clear that there is a hate campaign against Anna to begin with. Other stories have had the “friend” of the protagonist turn out to be their secret enemy, but here because of Miss Johnstone’s strategy it’s not clear there is a hate campaign. Certainly it is a devious scheme, by praising and acting like she thinks Anna is great, she causes trouble without suspicion. It is nearly half ways through the story before her motives are actually questioned. Some of the girls thoughts on why Johnstone is after Anna are a stretch (such as looking like a hated sister) but they don’t have a lot to go on, so they have to think of some reason. Anna was lucky to find the photo and recognise the car and end Johnstone’s revenge. I like that Anna’s parents are supportive too, because often adults in these stories can be dismissive, especially considering Anna’s complaints are “Johnstone’s too nice to her”! While her mother doesn’t think it can be that bad, she does say she will talk to Johnstone and when they find out who she really is, they go straight to the Headmistress.

Anna’s friends are a bit quick to judge her, even Ros at first when she agrees to help, she doesn’t stand up for her in public. This might be excused if she didn’t want to put Johnstone onto their investigation but she also says she doesn’t want to get involved and lose her friends. Although as Ros becomes more convinced of Johnstone’s motives, she does become more active in supporting Anna, even introducing her to Tom, her cousin. I’m sure Anna, as a nice person, would have forgiven all her friends anyway, but it’s good to see it tie in with Johnstone, as she doesn’t want to become a bitter, unforgiving person like her. It brings the story to a satisfying conclusion.

Tug of Love Toni / Toni’s Troubles

Plot

Toni Cole’s mother walked out on the family two years before because she was mixed up. She returns for a second chance, but Toni has not forgiven her and tries to drive her away with nastiness. However, when Toni finally succeeds in getting rid of her mother, she suddenly realises how wrong she was.

Notes

  • Artist: Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?)

Appeared

  • Tug of Love Toni – Judy: #1548 (9 September 1989) – #1559 (25 November 1989)
  • Reprinted as Toni’s Troubles – M&J:  #240 (16 December 1995) – #251 (2 March 1996)

 

Dream Boy [1997]

Published: Bunty: #2065 (9 August 1997) – #2072 (27 September 1997)

Episodes: 8

Artist: Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?)

Writer: Unknown

Plot

Claire Thomas is extremely worried about her friend Kerry Simpson. Kerry is a huge fan of a new pop group called Dream Boyz, especially its lead singer, Rob. But it turns into an obsession that is getting out of hand and begins to hurt everyone around her.

The first sign of real trouble is when Kerry steals a video recording of Dream Boyz from her friend Julia. When Claire puts pressure on Kerry to quietly return it, Kerry does so – but then steals it again.

When Kerry has Claire around, she just ignores her because she’s miles away, daydreaming about Dream Boyz. When Kerry hears Rob likes women who are dressed in black, have short hair, and wear wild jewellery so they stand out in the street, she sets off to have a makeover in that style although she hates black and likes her long hair. She even dyes her hair black. Kerry’s boyfriend Dan is appalled because he liked Kerry the way she was. Now she’s almost unrecognisable.

Claire learns Kerry paid for her makeover with the money she was saving for a trip to Disneyland Paris with her parents and Dan. She tells Kerry that the folks will be furious after the arrangements they have made for Disneyland Paris, but all Kerry cares about is Dream Boyz.

Dan hears about how Kerry misused the money for Disneyland Paris, but that’s not the reason he is now thinking of dumping her. It’s because when she has him around, she neglects him too because she’s too wrapped up daydreaming about Dream Boyz.

Claire tries to talk sense into Kerry and informs her what Dan is thinking of. But Kerry isn’t listening and is far more interested in how to get to Dream Boyz concerts that are too far away to get to.

Kerry almost falls under the wheels of a truck because she’s too preoccupied with listening to Dream Boyz on her Walkman to pay attention to the road. Claire saves her, but not even this brings Kerry to her senses. Her head is still full of Dream Boyz.

Before long, Claire is the only friend Kerry has left. She breaks up with Dan, and she doesn’t even turn a hair, much less get jealous, when Dan starts dating another girl, because she’s too obsessed with Dream Boyz. She also falls out with her friends Julia and Lois, just because Lois doesn’t like Dream Boyz. Kerry misses out on Lois’ birthday party in consequence. And it isn’t long before Kerry’s obsession severely tries her friendship with Claire as well. Kerry gets a signed photograph and believes Rob personally signed it for her. Claire says it’s just a publicity photo, and gets one as well to prove her point. But instead of stopping to think as Claire hopes, Kerry gets the impression that Claire has become a fan too.

But the real strain on their friendship begins when Kerry plans to play truant in order to attend a Dream Boyz concert and wants Claire to come too. Against her better judgement Claire does so, in order to keep an eye on Kerry. Kerry has arranged her cover note and instructs Claire to have a boy named David tell teachers she’s unwell. As they set off for the station, they notice Julia and Lois driving by with their parents.

While waiting for the concert, Kerry meets another fan, Tanya (hmm, wonder if any of these fans played truant too?). Claire isn’t enjoying herself because she is not a Dream Boyz fan like the others. Moreover, she begins to worry that she has been found out when she phones home, but nobody answers.

Tanya wins a draw to see Rob after the concert and Kerry jumps at her invitation to come along. Claire is annoyed at this because it will make them miss their train. Claire is even more furious when it turns out to be for nothing: they are told the interview’s off as Rob is too ill – again. The message is delivered with a “yeah, riiight” hint that Claire picks up on. It turns out to be a foreshadowing of what happens in the final episode, but that will be discussed later. Right now the Dream Boyz crazy-girls dismiss it and want to stay on to see how Rob is. However, Claire insists on not missing another train and this time Kerry is obliged to come along. As they leave, Tanya gives Kerry a piece of paper.

Missing the earlier train has made Claire late home and now she is extremely worried about big trouble. Luckily for Claire, her parents haven’t even noticed because they were out at the new supermarket. Claire is relieved to get away with it.

But Kerry isn’t so lucky – the school has somehow found her out and she receives a summons to see the Head! Kerry is convinced Lois and Julia sneaked on her (Claire doesn’t believe it) because they saw her at the station and swears vengeance. Meanwhile, Claire decides to tell David the truth about what happened. When she is through, he is also concerned about Kerry’s obsession. Claire finds she has an attraction for David too.

Claire hopes the Head will knock some sense into Kerry, but no such luck. Kerry is as bad as ever. In fact, she gets even worse because her angry parents have told her to get rid of her Dream Boyz collection. Kerry wants Claire to mind it instead, but Claire puts her foot down because she had a bad fright from her narrow escape and doesn’t want any more involvement. Kerry gets into a real huff and won’t speak to Claire. Yet she has the nerve to dump the Dream Boyz collection at Claire’s house, with a note saying she will split about Claire’s role in the truancy business if she doesn’t look after the collection. In other words – Kerry is blackmailing Claire!

Claire is horrified at this, and so is David when he hears. He advises Claire to tell Kerry to get lost and accompanies her to Kerry’s house to help her do that. But when they arrive there is no sign of Kerry. The parents are worried. It looks like she has gone to another concert, and there is a connection to a girl named Tanya. Claire and David go to check through Kerry’s collection for a clue as to her whereabouts.

On the way they bump into Julia, and they learn her family’s car has been vandalised. This has caused a particular nuisance because they needed the car to go visit Julia’s brother Oliver in hospital. They have to use a taxi instead. Recalling Kerry’s threat against Julia and Lois, Claire gets a horrible suspicion as to who vandalised the car.

David and Claire discover the blackmail note has been written on the back of the piece of paper Tanya gave Kerry. It lists Tanya’s phone number and Rob’s home address. They head out to the address, and find Kerry there, along with Tanya and other fans, who have come to wish Rob “Happy Birthday”. At first Kerry denies the vandalism of the car, but then she admits it when she hears how it has interfered with the Oliver emergency.

Then Rob himself turns up – driving his car in such a reckless manner that he nearly runs over an old lady’s dog and is not in the least bit sorry about it. He continues to act in a rude, callous, arrogant manner right in front of his fans, including brushing Kerry aside when she tries to get his autograph for Oliver: “Clear off, kid!” Rob goes off into his home with a girl who is totally unconcerned about his conduct. And it is very suspicious that the girl, whose body language suggests she is Rob’s girlfriend, is not dressed in the manner Rob has led his fans to believe he likes in women…

Kerry’s illusions about Rob have been shattered and she’s in tears. But of course it is the definitive cure for her Dream Boyz mania. There is a slight hint in the panel that Tanya and the other fans have also become disillusioned with Rob. Kerry now realises how badly she has behaved and is deeply sorry. Claire is relieved that the Dream Boyz nightmare is finally over.

Thoughts

There have been plenty of girls’ serials that warn what can happen if something is taken to extremes, even if it is something considered beneficial, such as charity work. Becoming overly obsessed with a pop star is an all-too-common thing, and there must have been a lot of readers who winced a bit as they read this story, because they would have seen or even experienced something like it in their own lives. There are also plenty of parents exasperated with pop-crazy teenage daughters and sons who would relate to this story too.

Claire is a friend in a million. She is the only one who stands by Kerry while Kerry’s obsession with Dream Boyz drives off all her other friends and boyfriend, causes her to miss out on things, ruins the prospects of her Disneyland Paris, gets her into trouble with her parents and the Head, and even almost gets her run over. But none of it gets through to Kerry. In fact, Kerry begins to ruin her very last friendship with the way she treats Claire in dragging her down into truancy to attend a Dream Boyz concert, which could have gotten Claire into big trouble, and even stooping to blackmailing her own friend. Kerry was lucky she still had a friend in Claire after that.

Kerry’s obsession is also making her do things that she would not have otherwise done. By turns we see Kerry steal from Julia, squander money she was saving that would upset travel plans, play truant from school, destroy her friendships, resort to blackmail, and even commit vandalism. She doesn’t have the slightest twinge of guilt or common sense about it because her obsession with Dream Boyz has made her too single-minded. So there is no reasoning with her. The only thing that can get through is shock treatment. And Kerry gets it from Rob himself, who turns out to be a selfish git who cares nothing about his own fans. We have to wonder how long Dream Boyz will last once word gets out that its own lead singer has such an attitude towards his fans.

Meanwhile, Kerry will be answerable to the consequences of her conduct, including the damaged car. And it was all for nothing because Rob did not turn out to be the dreamboat Kerry imagined him to be. One can only hope this will be a factor in forgiveness for her.

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

Amber All-Alone

Plot

Amber Taylor is all alone after her best friend moves away. Then her classmates mistakenly think her family has won the pools when they move to a bigger house, which is in fact due to Dad’s promotion. Amber finds herself the centre of attention and is taking advantage of it.

amber all alone

Notes

  • Artist: Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?)

Appeared

  • Amber All-Alone –  Bunty: #1988 (17 February 1996) – (?)

Fairweather Friend

Plot

Jenny Cooper’s mother makes up with her sister after a falling out years before, and she and Jenny go to stay with the aunt while Mr Cooper goes abroad. But the cousin, Rachel Fairweather, is going astray and getting in with a rough crowd, and Jenny is getting the blame for the trouble she causes. But Mum is anxious to keep the peace, having only just made up with her sister, and this is making it more difficult for Jenny to speak out.

fairweather_friend

Notes

  • Artist: Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?)

Appeared

  • Fairweather Friend –  Bunty: #2110 (20 June 1998) – #2118 (15 August 1998)

Sharon’s Stone

Plot

Best friends Sharon Dawson and Emma Foxley live next door to each other in cottages that have been in their families for generations. One day, Sharon and her father unearth a stone from an old wishing well that is inscribed with the words “Foxleys Beware”. Soon after the discovery, the families start feuding. When Sharon and Emma investigate, they theorise the stone is linked to a curse that a Dawson put on the Foxleys in the 18th century for wrongly accusing her of witchcraft. This started a feud between the Foxleys and the Dawsons, and now the curse and feud have returned with the stone.

Notes

  • Artist: Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?)

Appeared

  • Sharon’s Stone –  Bunty: #2041 (22 February 1997) – #2052 (10 May 1997)

Home Alone!

Plot

Gina Gordon and Gabby Andrews are fostered by Mr and Mrs Wood. Unfortunately the girls hate each other and each starts playing tricks to get rid of the other. The inevitable result is that both girls are sent back to the Children’s Home in disgrace. Gabby and Gina now realise their folly, but need to come up with a way to convince the Woods of this.

home_alone

Notes

  • Artist: Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?)

Appeared

  • Home Alone! –  Bunty:  (?) –  #2011 (27 July 1996)