Tag Archives: Peter Wilkes

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

Scream! (1997)

Scream cover

Mandy Picture Library #272

Published: 1997

Cover: Peter Wilkes?

Writer: Anne Bulcraig

“Scream!” takes a complete break from the usual pattern of girls’ picture libraries. Instead of being one complete story it is a collection of five shorter-length stories, and they are all spooky, creepy stories. Unsavoury girls get their comeuppances while other girls get caught in scary experiences that they may or may not emerge from unscathed. All stories are labelled as a “Scream!”. This take harkens back to the days of horror comics Misty and Spellbound two decades before. It was a trend that was seldom seen after both comics folded and is fondly remembered.

Scream 1: Framed! – artist Norman Lee

Katie Knight feels lonely after her best friend Joanna Bland emigrates, but soon becomes friends with new girl Lisa Jones. Lisa says she and her mother look after animals of all descriptions and invites Katie and her dog Soda around for the weekend.

When Katie arrives, she is surprised to find the walls of the house are lined with paintings of animals done by Mrs Jones, but no real animals are present. Meanwhile, Soda is acting strangely, and when the girls take a walk in the wood, he gets really terrified. Katie thinks the wood is weird too, and eventually realises it has no birds or animals. Later, Katie is baffled to find that a cat she saw in one of the paintings has changed position from when she last saw it.

Then Katie wakes up one night and discovers that Soda has somehow been turned into one of Mrs Jones’ paintings. Katie explains that they have had to turn to pets for their paintings because all the wildlife realised what was going on and fled. What happens next with Katie and the Joneses is not recorded. Some weeks later, a new girl brings a guinea pig with her to a weekend stay with the Joneses….

 Scream 1

Scream 2: Green Fingers – artist Carlos Freixas

Sarah Peters is a very selfish girl who grabs whatever she wants and never helps anyone, not even when it is an emergency. In class Sarah suddenly gets interested in a green issue project when she hears the prize money will pay for the top she has her eye on. On the way home she sees a plant in a window box that has leaves shaped like hearts and cute animals. It is so unusual it is guaranteed to win. She asks the owner if she can have a cutting. The owner says she needs to test Sarah to see if she is a suitable candidate. It turns out to be a test for kindness, and of course the selfish Sarah fails dismally. The owner refuses to give her the cutting, saying the plant has powers to reflect the nature of its owner. Only nice people are safe tending it and it would be dangerous for someone like Sarah. But Sarah is not having that; she sneaks out in the night and helps herself to a cutting.

After one night with Sarah the leaves start changing shape. They are going from hearts and cute animals to ghoulish faces and creepy animals. Sarah is bewildered and revolted at the new shapes, but does not get rid of the plant or reconsider what the lady said. The lady warns Sarah to return the cutting before it is too late, for even she does not fully understand the plant’s powers. Sarah does not listen and denies ever taking the cutting.

When Sarah returns home from school, her mother asks her to go and pick up an urgent prescription for a neighbour who is not well. But Sarah cares far more for watching her favourite television programme and goes into the house to watch. Then, as Sarah approaches her bedroom, she is astonished to find her cutting is now growing so much that it is coming out through the door. She goes into her room, where the plant starts crawling all over her. She screams for help – but the plant has learned its behaviour from the girl who never helps anyone.

Scream 2

Scream 3: House Warning – artist unknown

Julie Wood and her family move into a large house in the country. Julie is bewildered when everyone at her new school avoids her for no apparent reason, and her mother gets the same treatment at the supermarket. A neighbour asks Julie if she is having problems with the house yet, and then things do start going strangely wrong for the family in the house. Eventually, a boy at school tells Julie the reason people avoid her is the house. It seems to be alive and won’t let anyone live in it ever since its owner died the previous year. Julie questions the neighbour again. The neighbour says the house is grieving for its late owner, “Old Kate” Murray. Old Kate loved the house and now it will not accept anyone else.

In the night, a strange lady wakes Julie up, which alerts Julie to a fire. Julie manages to extinguish the fire before it catches proper hold. Then Julie realises the woman was Old Kate and it had been her ghost that was driving people out. But this time Old Kate needed help to save her house from burning down, and got it from Julie. From then on, the Woods have no more trouble with the house.

Scream 3

Scream 4: Skin Deep – artist Maria Dembilio

Nadine Andrews and her family are on holiday at a holiday camp. Nadine is a vain girl who infuriates everyone with her conceit, including her sister Emily. Nadine wants to enter the “Miss Happy Holidays” beauty contest. At the fair Nadine meets a fortune teller, and is surprised that the fortune teller somehow knows she wants to enter the contest. The fortune teller sells Nadine a beauty cream that will guarantee she wins. The effects on Nadine’s face seem like magic and she does win.

But the effect wears off next day. Nadine feels cheated and goes back to the fortune teller to get her money back. Nadine is extremely unreasonable when the fortune teller says she never said the effects were lasting, and becomes rude and insulting to her. Deciding Nadine needs a lesson, the fortune teller gives her an even stronger and longer-lasting cream that is guaranteed to make her really stand out. She says the price will be very high – but it isn’t money, which she refuses to accept. When Nadine puts on the cream, she is shocked to find her face has gone all distorted! The effects wear off eventually and Nadine stops being so vain.

Scream 4

Scream 5: Time Slip – artist Claude Berridge

During half-term break, Trudi Clark accompanies her father on an archaeological excavation at a site where a medieval village is said to be. The dig yields an old box that looks at least three hundred years old and Dad asks Trudi to hold it. But when she does, the whole environment changes to a medieval appearance, with no sign of her family. A boy runs by and tells Trudi to misdirect a man who is chasing him, which she does. She makes friends with the boy, whose name is Carak. Carak comments on her strange clothes. Trudi begins to think she has been transported to the past, when the medieval village existed. But then Carak serves her hamburgers, which were not around in medieval times.

Then Carak notices the box, and says Trudi must have stolen it from the museum. Trudi wants to hold onto it as she hopes it will get her back to her own time. When Carak says it is five hundred years old – not three hundred – Trudi realises that she has been transported to the future, not the past. A replica of the medieval village has been built as a tourist attraction, and the museum has exhibits not only of medieval times but the 20th century as well. Carak is surprised when the cabinet the box is supposed to be in is still sealed. Then he sets off an alarm and the man, Mr Peters, starts chasing them both. They find a place to take refuge in.

Trudi decides to tell Carak what happened. Carak opens the box, which contains three rings. He explains they are time travel devices that can take someone into the past, present or future. The trouble is, nobody knows which ring is which. When Trudi held the box, she must have had her hand too close to the “future” ring. Mr Peters catches up, and Trudi takes a chance on one of the rings. But this ring transports them to the past and the real medieval village. A woman comes in and thinks they are robbers. As they flee, Trudi trips up and a man grabs one of her Wellington boots. They take another shot at the rings, and this time they come to Trudi’s own time period, and the clock time is just before the box was found. Carak takes the box and goes back to his own time.

This time, Dad’s find is the Wellington boot that Trudi lost in medieval times. Trudi hopes he does not look too closely at the boot and realise it has been buried at that spot for years – how will she be able to explain that to him?

Scream 5

“I’ll Take Care of Tina!” (1978)

I'll Take Care of Tina logo

Published: Mandy: #605 (19 August 1978) – #616 (4 November 1978)

Artist: Peter Wilkes

Plot

Mr Marsden, an engineer, is promoted to a job that means he and his wife will be transferring to a post at the Middle East oilfields. The company will pay Tina’s school fees at Fairfield College, a top boarding school. Tina is not keen on leaving her old school but puts a brave face on it for her parents’ sakes.

When Tina arrives at Fairfield, junior school captain Elaine Warnock immediately takes her under her wing. But before long, things keep going wrong for Tina and she can’t explain why. Girls accuse her of hiding cupcakes in the dorm (as Elaine told her to) instead of sharing them around and they retaliate by shoving them down Tina’s throat. Tina is accused of stealing another girl’s soap when it turns up in her bag with no explanation and the girls throw her in a cold shower as punishment. The secretary accuses Tina of taking a confidential folder out of the cabinet when it is found near her in the office, and Tina has no explanation as to how it got there. These and other incidents soon put Tina under a cloud at Fairfield. None of the girls will have anything to do with her because she now has a reputation as a bad lot. They bully and ostracise Tina all the time and Elaine is the only one who stands up for her. Miss Barnett the headmistress and the teachers are getting dubious of Tina as well.

I'll Take Care of Tina panel 1

Tina soon realises she has an enemy at school who is causing trouble for her. But at least she has one friend – Elaine. Or so she thinks. In truth, it is Elaine who is her enemy. She has been using her position as junior school captain and pretence at being Tina’s friend to secretly cause trouble for her ever since she arrived. There is no apparent motive for Elaine’s scheming against Tina. The only clue is when Elaine intercepts and destroys Tina’s letters to her parents because “we can’t have Tina’s parents getting worried, and taking her away from Fairfield.” Now what can she mean by that?

Around the middle of the story, Elaine’s motive is finally revealed. Mr Marsden was promoted ahead of Mr Warnock, who works at the same company, and Mr Warnock needs the promotion to keep Elaine on at Fairfield. So they are plotting to steal the promotion by causing trouble for Mr Marsden through getting Tina expelled, as the company is covering her school fees. Mr Warnock warns Elaine to be careful; he knows Mr Marsden is clever and surely Tina is the same. Elaine is confident Tina will never be able to figure her out.

I'll Take Care of Tina panel 2

Once the motives and intentions for the scheming are revealed and the groundwork been laid down, Elaine starts the real campaign to get Tina expelled. Getting Tina blamed for a trick on a guest of honour. A stone pinged at a girl’s face during a hockey match and the catapult found in Tina’s pocket. Tricking Tina into going out of bounds and getting into a fight at a sleazy café. Wrecking Miss Barnett’s office. Trying to make it look like Tina stole from a pensioner. When the pensioner guesses the truth and tries to warn Tina, Elaine shuts the old lady up by starting a fire in a kitchen and puts her in hospital. It is a series of narrow escapes and Tina only escapes expulsion through Elaine’s pretend support, or others back Tina up by pure chance.

Tina cannot convince Miss Barnett that someone is working against her. Elaine also makes the clever move of pulling tricks on a girl named Ann to mislead Tina into thinking that Ann is the enemy. Ann is an easy target for this because she openly dislikes Tina as a ‘troublemaker’ and has played her own tricks on her.

When Elaine plants an exam paper on Tina, Miss Barnett decides to call Tina’s parents. Forewarned by Elaine, Mr Warnock intercepts the call, as they do not want the parents to remove Tina before she is expelled. Pretending to be Mr Marsden, he feigns callousness about the whole situation.

Eventually, it gets too much for Tina and she tries to run away. Elaine intercepts her and frames her for a fire in a classroom. Miss Barnett finally decides to expel Tina. Then Tina pretends to run away again while sneaking back to prove her innocence. Along the way she overhears a remark from Elaine that has her think she can no longer look to Elaine for help and is on her own (actually, it means Elaine is no at Tina’s side to sabotage her attempts to prove her innocence).

In the head’s office Tina tries to phone her father, but gets hold of Mr Warnock instead. Mistaking Tina for Elaine, he says he is expecting good news from her soon. Following this, Mr Warnock’s warning begins to bear out as Tina begins to suspect Elaine and her never mentioning that their fathers worked for the same company. She then sneaks out of the office.

I'll Take Care of Tina panel 4

Meanwhile, Miss Barnett gets hold of the real Mr Marsden, who says he and his wife are flying back at once. During the course of the conversation Miss Barnett discovers she was speaking to a fake Mr Marsden earlier. This has her reconsider Tina’s claims that an enemy is working against her. Summoning Elaine, she informs Elaine of her suspicions. Alarmed to hear that the plot is in trouble, Elaine makes a hasty lie that she saw Tina start the fire in the classroom. But she does not know Tina is eavesdropping outside the door and overheard her. Now Tina knows who her enemy is, but she needs to prove it.

Tina is then caught outside the door and brought in. She tries to tell Miss Barnett the truth. Then, recalling the earlier phone call with Mr Warnock, she asks to make a phone call to prove her innocence. Miss Barnett agrees, because her suspicions are not satisfied. Tina phones Mr Warnock and, pretending to be Elaine, says she has the good news he wanted. This tricks Mr Warnock into a gleeful admission of the entire plot for Miss Barnett to hear on the other end. Miss Barnett then reveals herself to Mr Warnock and tells him to remove his daughter from the school.

I'll Take Care of Tina panel 6

By the time Tina’s parents arrive, everything has been sorted out. However, they decide it would be better to take Tina with them, and the company is starting a new school in the Middle East that she can go to. They are right: although Tina now has real friends at Fairfield, she is anxious to get away from the memories of the false one.

Thoughts

Serials about a girl plotting to get another expelled (out of misguided revenge, spite or personal gain) are not unusual; “Captain Carol” (Bunty) and “Rachel’s Revenge” (Judy) are but two. Neither are stories about a girl pretending to be friends with another while secretly causing trouble for her e.g. “False Friend” and “A Friend Like Freda” from Mandy.

However, there are several aspects about this story that are atypical for this theme. First, it is unusual for a parent to be behind the whole plot. Usually the troublemaker acts alone, or on occasion has an accomplice, as Gwen of “I’ll Get Rid of Rona!” from Tracy does. It would have been more standard for Elaine to plan the whole thing herself for the sake of her father, as is the case with Lucinda Gromley of Bunty’s “Tina at Tumble Towers”. But here father and daughter conspire the whole thing together.

The second is the buildup in the early episodes. Instead of starting with overt tricks to get Tina expelled, Elaine is playing a very clever game in pulling subtle tricks that are aimed at turning the other girls against Tina. The purpose is clear: isolate Tina, stop her from making real friends, cut her off from potential avenues of help, give her a bad name that will make it easier to get her expelled, and make her increasingly dependent on the only girl who seems friendly to her. It’s not intended to get Tina expelled straight away; it’s all groundwork on which Elaine can build her real campaign once she thinks the time is ripe.

Elaine’s early groundwork also reaps other benefits that play into her hands. The other girls bully Tina because they think she is a bad sort. Elaine uses these incidents to plant things that make it look like Tina is getting her own back in vicious ways, such as planting a glass shard in Ann’s sports shoe and a rat in her locker. Standing up for Tina during these bullying incidents also reinforces Elaine’s false show of friendship towards Tina. Ann’s overt dislike of Tina also enables Elaine to turn her into a red herring by playing tricks on Ann that have Tina suspect Ann is the enemy.

I'll Take Care of Tina panel 3

The third is keeping Elaine’s motives hidden in the early episodes while she lays down the groundwork (isolating Tina, giving her a bad reputation at Fairfield, turning others against her). It provides a mystery element that keeps the reader guessing and wondering what lies behind it all. Perhaps it will all be revealed in the final episode, as is what usually happens? No, here it is revealed around the middle, and after this the buildup to the climax begins with Elaine starting her campaign in earnest.

Tina herself is, like most victims of this sort of trickery, a good-natured innocent who makes easy prey for the schemer. She has been completely fooled by Elaine’s false show of friendship and is surrounded by red herrings – a whole school of girls who have been led to hate her.

She is not without courage; she puts a brave face on her transfer to Fairfield for the sake of her parents. And she does not turn a hair at finding a mouse in her desk (Ann’s joke). She likes the mouse, and we can see she would have been a popular, well-liked girl at Fairfield if things had been different. And towards the end, Tina shows even more courage when she risks life and limb in climbing ledges to get in and out of the head’s office.

It is ironic that Mr Warnock warned at what will eventually be their undoing – do not underestimate Tina’s brains. Indeed, Tina is sharp enough to figure out she has an enemy fairly early on in the piece (some victims don’t even realise, like Bettina in Mandy’s “That Bad Bettina!”). She is also clever enough to act on the mistakes Mr Warnock and Elaine make in the end and hit on a way to trap them. It is also unusual for this type of story to foreshadow how the schemer will be caught out. Usually the reader is left guessing as to how that will happen until it develops towards the end, or even coming in the final episode itself.

I'll Take Care of Tina panel 5

The only problem with the resolution is what Tina says to Elaine in their final confrontation: “It’s all over, Elaine. I’m sorry – I really mean that. I did so want us to be friends.” Now we know Mandy would not want to show her protagonists being bitter or bearing grudges – but is that what you would say to a person who had been plotting against you, or turned out to be your worst enemy when you thought they were your friend?

The villains’ motives are less clichéd than most. They are not driven so much by greed or spite but by circumstance. For some reason Mr Warnock can no longer afford Elaine’s school fees and needs the promotion for it. So he and Elaine hatch the plot to steal Mr Marsden’s promotion. But they do not come across as being driven by desperation, nor do they have any redeeming or sympathetic qualities. They show no qualms, remorse or conscience in what they are doing to Tina. Elaine has no limits in the lengths she will go to get Tina expelled; starting a fire, pinging a stone in a girl’s face, and putting an old lady in hospital for trying to help Tina are extremely vicious and dangerous stuff.

The story is very deftly constructed in how it builds up Elaine’s campaign and reveals her motives in stages rather than the more typical “scheme of the week” format that a lot of schemer stories such as “That Bad Bettina!” often follow. This story construct also illustrates what a clever schemer Elaine is in laying groundwork for her campaign before launching on it in earnest, rather than plunging straight into it as a lot of schemers do in girls’ comics.

The resolution brings out real strengths in Tina (except for some unconvincing final dialogue). The parents’ decision to take Tina away from Fairfield is less trite than her staying on for a fresh start at a new improved Fairfield, free of the schemer. The artwork of Peter Wilkes lends itself well to the school environment, and it really brings out the innocence and good nature of the hapless Tina.

The Comp

  • The Comp–  Nikki:  #01 (23 February 1985) – #237 (02 September 1989)
  • Nikki –  Bunty: #1650 (26 August 1989) – #1651 (02 September 1989)
  • The Comp– Bunty : #1652 (09 September 1989) – #2243 (06 January 2001)
  • Writers: Rhoda Miller
  • Main Artists:  Ron Lumsden , Peter Wilkes
  • Occassional Artists: Guy Peeters

Plot

The Comp was a soap story that followed the lives of a group of friends in the 3rd Form at Redvale Comp. The Comp dealt primarily with  friendships, romances, family drama and school. There was a large cast of characters, including the pupils, their families, and teachers. It took some risks too, as main characters actually left and were replaced throughout it’s run. Initially the story was introduced (in Nikki) with Sam Greene starting her first day at the Comp. Her family had just moved back from Germany, and she soon made close friends with Julie, Lisa, Megan and Marilyn.  Although most stories revolved around those five, there were many other characters that also got the spotlight at times, such as punk Sharon, jokster Sprot and studious Tina. There was also a variety of teachers at the Comp, some loved and some feared, with nicknames like Grim Gertie, Mad Maureen and Sooty.

The Comp - 1st panel

In issue #102 of Nikki, Sam and her friends moved up to 4th form and a new cast of characters were introduced as the 3B form. These were Laura Brady and her friends Becky, Hayley and Nadina. The other various characters in the class included Freddy, Hodge, Jayne the Pain, Claire and Amy. When Nadina moved away, a new character Roz was introduced. She was an American that had moved with her Dad to Redvale. Although Sam and her friends had moved on they still occasionally made appearances, although they became less frequent in later years.

When Nikki was merged with Bunty,  The Comp came to Bunty. For two issues before the merger, in Bunty, there was a story called Nikki, this introduced the character of Nikki, and bullies Pippa and Morag. Due to a factory shutting down, the girls’ families had to relocate and they all start at the Comp.   While Bunty showed things from Nikki’s perspective,  in Nikki (the comic) continued with its own story and showed some of the same events from the regular characters perspectives. After Bunty and Nikki merged, the story was called “Nikki at the Comp” for an issue before changing back to just “The Comp”. While some minor characters came and went, the core four (Laura, Hayley, Becky and Roz) stayed the same until the end, and didn’t move up in the school.

The stories were very character focused, sometimes there was a campaign or event that everyone came together on but mostly it just concentrated on a couple of characters at a time. Typically as a soap story there was many varied plots and they would overlap starting and finishing at different time. The last issue ends when Redvale has to close for safety reasons. It is unknown when and if the school will reopen. The pupils are to go to different schools. At first it looks like the Laura, Becky, Hayley and Roz will be split up, but then luckily they are able to work things out and go to same school. Of course Bunty ended a few issues later, so The Comp didn’t return.

the comp the end

Thoughts

The Comp had an impressive run of 830 episodes (between both Nikki and Bunty), as well as regular annual appearances and picture story library books. Being a soap story, there were more continuous stories and story arcs overlapped, rather than something like The Four Marys or Bobby Dazzler which had separate story arcs – that for the most part reset to the status quo at the end. There were also a lot more characters and while it mostly focused on a core four, there were others that had the spotlight over the years.

What’s most interesting is that Nikki decided to change all the established main characters and have a new cast. I wonder what led to this decision. Did they want to just freshen things up, maybe there was a plan to always move characters on after a while, and introduce new people every few years? If that was the original plan did the Bunty merger put a stop to that or were Laura & Co. so popular they decided to keep them? The original cast were popular enough that they printed a special page of reactions to departure, while there were some sad to see them go, it seemed most were willing to give the new cast a chance.

the comp changes

the comp letters

The second cast do have an advantage of being around longer but in someways their development stalled. While things changed around them, they were stuck in the same class. One clear example of this is the twins stepsister Angie. She starts off as a prefect in the Comp, then later she gets engaged, married, has her own twins who become toddlers while Becky and Hayley never move up the school! So it is a strange mix of some things evolving and a sense of the passage of time  but the class never age! I also found some storylines seemed to repeat with different characters, such as the Nikki and Jacki dynamic, being similar to Sam and Sharon or that Laura fancies a neighbour and is upset when he likes Becky, which also happened to Julie and Sam.

Still these things are only obvious when reading the stories in a large block, and most likely wouldn’t be noticed by readers at the time. Another thing I did notice by reading these stories chronologically, is that there is some good continuity. While the odd time a name or appearance may change (like Amy’s surname being Rodgers, Linton and Lister at different times) there was good use of old characters and storylines. When the twins get an inheritance from their Great Aunt Freda, it is actually 43 issues later that the money comes to them. Lorraine Grover an old bully from issue 1 of Nikki, who had been expelled, pops up 10 years later. Some of the original class are named in passing or pop up briefly, such as Mike Morris winning a dance competition 6 years after he had moved into 4th year, or Kath Watkins getting expelled for stealing. Selena Smith who left the school, reappears bumping into Laura & co. and letting them know why her sister “Mad Maureen”, a teacher at the school, is so grumpy. It’s instances like this that makes me think that it must have been the one writer for a long time.

When Nikki merged with Bunty in 1989, I liked the way the merger was handled for The Comp. Bunty originally had its own school drama School’s Out that ended a few issues before the merger, this gave the comic a chance to introduce a story named Nikki which follows Nicola as she moves to Redvale and joins The Comp. I liked how they had the story was told from 2 different perspectives and the character of Nikki was a good way to introduce the story to readers to those people who hadn’t read Nikki comic. Also the name of the new character was a nice nod to the old comic.

comp last nikki

(Above: The Comp – Nikki #237)

comp - bunty 1651

(Above: Nikki – Bunty#1651)

The stories themselves were entertaining and they had the opportunity to be varied and change things. They could have light moments such as Hodge and Freddy playing tricks, Hayley’s self tan going wrong and often it could be amusing when the girls got the wrong end of the stick by listening to part of conversations of teachers, like when they think Tosh is pregnant! There was also quite a lot of drama, such as dealing with parent’s divorce, a new baby in the house, and even death. While Laura & Co, did not grow up like Sam & Co. there were more permanent changes in their lives that were ongoing and did not reverse back to the status quo. Such as Roz’s father getting remarried and she gains a new stepsister Stancee or Laura’s  family deciding to foster.

As stories focused on different characters, it was more likely a reader could find someone they identified with or maybe just found interesting! My favourite characters when I was growing up, were Roz and Laura.  Roz looked quite distinctive from the other characters and being American also made her different and interesting for me. I also liked Laura as she was a tomboy, artistic and didn’t stand for the boys putting girls down. Rereading I also appreciate how well rounded  a character Jacki was, she had a rougher background, which sometimes led to her looser definitions of right or wrong, like she didn’t see anything wrong with shoplifting, but hated bullies and even saved the caretakers life by performing CPR. Of the original class I quite like Lisa, who was very like Laura but maybe more flawed, I also liked Marilyn because she had one of the most interesting story arcs for me…

Marilyn starts dating Tim, and like a realistic young romance, they believe they will get married after school and be together forever. They break up and get back together a lot, due to Tim moving further away and him cheating on her. Even when “Grim Gertie” tries to advise her that her studies are more important than boys, in typical teenager fashion, Marilyn thinks what would Gertie know about such things. They do split up for good when Tim cheats on her again. Though she has tried to move on she is devastated when he is killed in a motorcycle accident. Lisa also feels bad about this due to a comment she had made about a boy like him being no loss, after he cheated on Marilyn. Their whole relationship lasts about 50 issues, it was not always the main focus but I think it was well written and his death was quite shocking.

the comp gertie vs marilyn

Another storyline that I thought was well done was when Laura’s family foster a teenager, Rachel. Only Laura knows that she isn’t as sweet as she pretends to be and that she seems to have it in for Laura. Although this is the type of story we’ve seen before, the differences here is that this is happening  to a well-established character and we also get to see the aftermath. Laura’s mom takes it particularly hard when the truth comes out, feeling she’s failed as a foster mom and it takes some time for the family to decide if they want to foster again.

Along with the well written stories, I like the art and think it did well making characters distinctive and capturing the different environments, as they weren’t always just focused around the school. Although I do have a preference for the earlier stuff, the designs seemed to get more simpler as time went on. Some characters look quite different from their first appearance such as Jayne Saunders  or  Mad Maureen who looks a lot older in some issues.  While Ron Lumsden and Peter Wilkies were the main artists, there were some artists that took over for short periods of time like Guy Peeters (who would go on to draw another long running soap story “Penny’s Place”). When Bunty changed format The Comp became coloured, the colouring style was as varied  but usually enhanced the art.

the comp different artist

Despite such a large cast there is a lack of diversity. The second class start off well with Nadina but she doesn’t last very long. It’s not until Kiko joins that we get a main character of a different ethnicity again. Even with the teachers, there is only one black student teacher of note that appeared (although I do have some gaps in my collection). It does appear by the late 90s more non-white background characters appeare, but certainly most speaking characters were white, which was actually the norm across these comics, but still interesting to note.

The Comp was a big selling point for both Nikki and Bunty. They even expanded it so that in  Nikki, additional to the picture story, Sam Greene also had a diary,  this was 1 text page placed after the story and filled readers in on extra events. When the new class came Laura took over this slot with her letters to a friend for a for a while.  In Bunty The Comp also spawned a spin off “Carly’s Crowd”, which followed Roz’s younger sister and her friends and their lives in California. This was a text story, in a time when it was quite unusual to see text stories! Of course The Comp was also popular subject for the Picture Story Library Books. For Nikki’s 100th issue there was a competition to win a part in The Comp by answering questions about previous things that had happened in The Comp. Not surprisingly The Comp often took top place in reader polls, they even gave readers a chance to vote on their favourite teacher, while in the story the class were also voting!

the comp 100the comp competition

Over the next few pages I’ve done short character profiles on the main cast, of course it would be far too long to list all events and I have some gaps in my collection, particularly in the later years, but it should show some highlights of the characters.

Quick Links:

Original Class           Second Class           Staff            List of Appearances

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.

Carly’s Crowd!

Plot:

Carly Cummings, the sister of Roz Cummings from The Comp, starts her own spin-off series in text version.

Carly

Notes:

  • Spot Art: Peter Wilkes

Appeared:

  • Carly’s Crowd!  Bunty: #2034  (4 January 1997) – #2040 (15 February 1997)
  • Carly’s Crowd! – Bunty: #2066 (16 August 1997) – (?)
  • Carly’s Crowd! – Bunty #2172 (28 August 1999)
  • Carly’s Crowd! – Bunty #2209 (13 May 2000)

Other Appearances:

  • Carly’s Crowd – Bunty Annual 1998

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.

The Sailor Doll / Sam

  • The Sailor Doll – Bunty PSL: #265
  • Reprinted as  Sam  Bunty PSL: #396
  • Artist: Peter Wilkes

Plot/Thoughts

This month is the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking.  I’m sure  with all the books on the subject that have been released and James Cameron 1997 film Titanic is being re-released in 3D, that it has been pretty hard to miss. So with the month that is in it I thought it was a good time to look at the story “The Sailor Doll”.

The story is drawn by Peter Wilkes and is a mystery/ ghost story involving a girl Jackie and a sailor doll that was on the Titanic. Jackie is going on a school trip with her friends Donna and Fran, they are taking the cruise ship “Odin” to New York then onto Disneyland for a week.  It must be some fancy school school these girls went to, if they can afford a cruise ship to America and a week in Disneyland on top of it. I also wonder about the logistics of the trip so they get a ship to New York then do they fly to Disneyland, because presumably if it’s in California that’s a really long drive to take!

As a mascot Jackie’s father gets her a sailor doll named Sam from a junk shop. When they are sailing off Jackie nearly drops Sam into the water. It’s the first sign that there may be something strange going on.

In the standard procedure of these stories,  more strange things happen when the girls keep finding their porthole window open and Sam beside it. At first these things are dismissed and Jackie’s friends are particularly cynical that there is something unusual with Sam. Then Jackie has a nightmare in which she is drowning she also see a young girl in old-fashioned clothing, looking for Sam.  While she tries to forget these nightmares and just have fun, she starts to see visions during the daytime.

 

So the only reasonable theories Jackie can have is that she is hallucinating or that Sam is trying to tell her something. Later from a tear in his jacket she finds a note.  She can’t read all the note but she can make out the date of  April 1912 and words “exciting, cold and  big ship” also the name of the ship ends in ‘anic’.  So Jackie researches the information and finds out about the sinking of the Titanic. I would have thought this is something she would of heard of before in school at some point but apparently not. She notices that there are similarities between the Titanic and the trip they are on now, they are travelling the same course, between the same dates and their captain is also name Smith.

Jackie tries to convince her friends that there is a connection with their trip and the Titanic. When more strange things happen Fran and Donna agree to help investigate. Jackie sees the young girl again and falls down steps chasing after her, ending up with a concussion. Fran decides to throw Sam overboard thinking if he’s gone all the trouble may stop. Jackie is upset when she finds out this, she is also convinced their ship is going to sink as well and only Sam could have helped them. Not sure how Sam could have helped him but instead of finding Sam sinister and creepy, Jackie thinks he is a good spirit.

Luckily it turns out Sam fell onto a lower deck when Fran dropped him so Jackie finds him again. She figures that the girl would have been saved if she hadn’t gone back looking for the doll, while Sam was rescued from the water and now he wants to be reunited with the girl. The girls decide they need to toss Sam overboard on  April 14  at 11.46pm.

After this the ship arrives safely at its destination. Fran and Donna believe they let their imaginations run wild but Jackie believes Sam and the girl are happily reunited.

The story is quite a common one; strange occurrences, ghosts and cynical friends. It has the more accurate historical setting which is a bit more educational than the usual made up ghost history. A lot of these tortured ghosts were looking to be reunited with a beloved item, if there is a lesson to be learned I think its if your ship is sinking/house is on fire/school collapsing etc… do not go back for your favourite toy/ locket because you will be killed and end up haunting some girl 60 years later.