This is the first Mandy annual. Although the weekly Mandy issues started in 1967, it took a few years for the release of an annual. It has a colourful dust jacket with Mandy and her dog Patch on the front (a theme that would last up to the 1993 annual). The very clear distinctive picture on the white background and the use of simple primary colours; the yellow on her jacket, headband and the “Mandy” title makes it an eye catching cover. The Mandy comic was a very story focused book and most of it’s annuals, particularly the early ones had very little features. This book has no features at all, just picture and text stories. So there is a lot of reading in the annual, it also has the common theme of having an extended story split up over the annual in this case a 4 part text story (No Time to Dream) and a three part picture story (King Cat). As well as the longer stories there are classic characters, Valda, Mandy and Wonder Girl! Throughout the book there is some high quality artwork. (For just a list of contents click here)
Valda (Pages: 6-10)
Art: Rab Hamilton
A strong start to the annual with a story about popular character, Valda. Usually Valda stories focused on one of two themes, either proving herself the best at a sport or revealing secrets about a lost place. This is a story that focuses on a sport.
Valda arrives at a tennis tournament, where the trophies are to be presented by the undefeated tennis star Jeanne Cartier nee Duval. Jeanne is surprised when she sees Valda, she says her mother must be the Valda that she faced thirty years ago just as the war broke out. Their match was never completed as the appearance of an enemy aircraft put an end to the game. Jeanne introduces Valda to her daughter Michelle and declares she is going to carry on the family tradition and be an undefeated champion. Both Valda and Michelle do well in the tournament, Valda observes that Jeanne pushes her daughter too hard. Valda and Michelle meet in the final round. Valda knows she can defeat her but in the end she lets her win because she knows losing will break her confidence altogether.
Again the mother mentions family tradition of being undefeated. Valda decides she must put a stop to this as Michelle won’t be able to keep this up. Valda confronts Jeanne and shares with her the fire of life to put her at her peak again, so they can continue the game they started years ago. Valda defeats her and Jeanne learns her lesson and realises she shouldn’t put so much pressure on her daughter.
I usually prefer Valda helping out in lost cities than stories focused on sports, but I do like this one. The art is quite pretty and even though it’s not by usual artist Dudley Wynne, it does a good job capturing Valda. It has a ice storyline with Valda choosing to help Michelle rather then winning. It also shows a nice lesson for mother and the matches themselves are well drawn.
Captain of St. Crispin’s (Pages: 11-13)
An unusual regular story of Mandy; Aggie Morton is the captain of St Crispin’s school, this is unusual because she is an oil millionaire, hillbilly granny from America! She is keen for the school to keep up all its old customs and is helped out by her young English relative Gwen. Aggie wants to ring the old school bell which is rung by the school captain on special occasions. Aggie decides to send letters to queens and presidents to visit the school but on inspection the bell is unsafe. Aggie saves a workman, who comes to look at the bell, with a lasso and gets the honour of ringing the new bell.
While the stereotype hillbilly played up for laughs in the story, it gets points for not being ageist. Of course we have Gwen as the young girl point of view, but it’s old Aggie who sets things in motion and saves the day.
A Miracle for Marie (Pages: 14-16)
Marie lives with her grandmother in a small attic room in Marseilles. She is very sick but is happy to see a little bird visit her. Her grandmother buys her birdseed even though they really can’t afford it, but she knows Marie hasn’t long left and wants to help her last days happy. When Marie leaves out the seed some of it falls in the gutter and a plant sprouts from it. Some time late the grandmother collapses down town and is brought home by a doctor. The doctor recognises the rare plant by Marie’s window as one from his home county that will be able to cure Marie.
It’s a short story and is quite nice read. Of course filled with coincidences, and is something that is seen again and again with the sudden miracle cure, but when the annual first came out the story was more fresher.
There Was a Young Girl Who Lived in a Shoe (Pages: 21-24)
In Victorian times, Bessie Shepherd lives with five orphans in a house that is shaped like a shoe. Money is tight so when a storm hits up Bessie’s quick to round up their livestock. The next day the house has taken some damage with broken windowsand no money to repair them. This is stressful for Bessie so she gets cross when she discovers a chicken is missing, as she had Jack count them. Jack apologises that he was tired when he counted them. Bessie has an outburst at Jack. He runs away and finds the missing chicken but breaks his leg. Bessie is very sorry for her outburst but can’t get through to Jack. To make it up to him she makes her last nice dress into a kite for him. Jack is sorry he let his pride in the way. While out flying the kite the squire’s son offers money to get kites made for him and his cousins, which will be enough to fix the windows.
King Cat (Pages: 25-28, 57-60 & 97-100)
This is a 3 part story told throughout the annual. Judy Pace and her kitten Sam are to stay with her Gran during the holidays. She is surprised when her Gran’s cat Ginger attacks Sam and scratches her. Her Gran tells her to stay away from cats. Later Judy takes a walk down town she notices other people being followed and threatened by cats. She comes to an old unused house but is scared off by several cats. It keeps getting stranger as Judy goes to shops to see cats have wrecked the place and stolen food. The owner doesn’t want to go to police and Judy notices she seems scared that a cat on the windowsill is listening. When she gets home Sam is missing. She figures he must be at the old house. She goes there and sneaks pass the cats only to be bizarrely confronted by a man in a cat suit, calling himself King Cat. It turns out he is a scientist/crook who has built a machine to control all the cats and now he wants to test his machine on Judy. But she manages to smash it and all the cats turn on King Cat, so Judy can go call the police.
The mystery of what’s happening in the town is good and the cats do seem intimidating and threatening, which is shown well by the art. The conclusion is a bit odd, it’s not really clear why King Cat is dressed up in a cat suit, though presumably he has some mental problems. It is also unclear why the people in the village never called the police to check out the old house or at least animal control!
Mandy (Pages: 33 / 87 / 113)
The title character appears in 3 amusing strips, each with its common theme. The first strip Mandy is fed up of getting wet while waiting at the telephone box, but when they get a phone installed she still stands out around wet as she has to get out of the bath. Then a dog chases her not appreciating she is out collecting money to help animals. Finally visiting a museum Mandy looks at old torture methods and glad she doesn’t live there but it seems her new shoes are just as much as a torture!
Something Borrowed, Something Blue (Pages: 34-40)
Sally Durrant lives with her mother and her ambition is to become a dress designer. Sally takes some evening art classes but has to work in a shop as she can’t afford to go to college full time. There is an art school ball coming up and she buys cheap material for a dress. It was cheap because it has a stain on it so she takes it to dry cleaners but a mix up ends up with a different dress and no time to change it before the ball. Her mother convinces her to try on the dress it fits so she wears it. Her teacher introduces her to a man Mr Lennox he compliments her dress but she down plays it as she does not want to draw attention to herself. The next day a newspaper article shows Lady Daphne Staite in her dress. Sally is horrified that the dress she wore was an expensive House of Cleve design. She returns the dress, and Lady Daphne offers to get her an interview at the House of Cleve as she was impressed with the dress. Another shock for Sally is when she recognises owner as Mr Lennox but he promises to keep her secret that she wore the dress. and laughs that she’d called it “this old thing” at the dance. She gets a job offer and is delighted. She brings flowers to the dry cleaners to thank them for the mix up.
I like the colours and inking in this story, it also has some funny moments. Again it’s nothing new but it has a nice pace and does its job well.
Jill- Junior Reporter (Pages: 41-43)
Art: Robert MacGillivray
Jill Cooper is a reporter for the Daily Echo and often finds interesting stories by following up adverts in the personal column. In this story the ad is for an expedition to see Sahara cave paintings by truck. When they arrive at the caves Jill is wary of their new guide Hussan who has replaced the other guide due to sickness. She is right to be suspicious of him as he sneaks away while in the caves to steal their stuff. Jill spots him in time and leaves a trail of paper for the others to follow. She manages to stop him which is good the only down side is she is left having to piece her story back together as those were the papers she made her trail with!
This is a fun little adventure story. Jill is a fun resourceful character and it has a good ending, being amusing and not just ending with everything sorted.
Wendy the Winner (Pages: 44-48)
Art: Andy Tew
Wendy Blake’s hobby is entering competitions and winning though it can cause some problems. Her father isn’t happy when she is collecting alphabet soup labels for a competition. Not only is there too much soup in the house but there is other trouble like a display gets knocked over, a can accidentally gets thrown a window and she knocks her dad over running to the post. In the meantime prizes from previous competitions arrive, a barbecue, picnic rugs, windbreak and a vacuum ice bucker. her father suffering from a cold isn’t too happy for what will they do with that in winter. Her father perks up when she wins the soup competition and finds out the prize is central heating and double glazing for the whole house. But the catch again is the workmen have to rip up floorboards and the work will take a few days. Lucky all the summer prizes come in handy after all, as they cosy around the barbecue with blankets and soup.
Baby Went Too! (Pages: 53-56)
Barbara Bunting had special permission to bring her baby brother to school while their mother was in hospital. Baby was making a nuisance of himself trying to help out while the girls decorated the classroom for Christmas. He causes so much problems Miss Powell says Barbara will have to keep him out of the classroom. She is disappointed she can’t help with the decorations. Then after baby’s bubble bath she gets the idea to dress him up as Santa with a sleigh. The class win as best decorated.
This was a regular story in Mandy and one I never really understood. Why would having a young girl bringing a baby to school be a good solution, seems unfair on everyone involved. Also poor Baby Bunting didn’t appear to be deserving of a name, only being referred to as Baby. But I suppose the point was to create some drama or some laughs and not to be grounded in reality.
Friend or Foe? (Pages: 65-71)
Jim Dalton is a huntsman and his best Lakeland terrier died leaving a 4 week old puppy Turk. He gave his daughter Jean the job of raising him. She isn’t to encourage him to be a pet as he has to be tough to hunt foxes. He also has to stay in the barn not the house. Later Jean finds an orphan fox cub and she saves him and names him Amber. She hides him in the barn loft away from Turk but the two orphaned animals find each other and comfort each other. Amber helps Turk kill a big rat that attacks them. Amber is clever enough to hide from strange voices and not to be seen with Turk. When the barn catches on fire, Amber and Turk raise the alarm and the Daltons are able to save the house. Jim says the barn or Turk won’t be saved but Jean smashes a window so they may be able to escape. Both Amber and Turk jump through the window surprising Jim. One of the hunting dogs goes for Amber but Turk holds him back and Amber escapes. Jean is worried her father will put down Turk because he’ll be a useless hunting dog now he doesn’t know foxes are the enemy. But because he saved their lives Jim lets Turk off and gives him to Jean as a pet.
This is a well told story and while Jim Dalton could have come across as cruel and hard, even Jean sees him more as practical and understands why Turk can’t be raised as a pet.
Junkyard Jenny (Pages: 74-76)
Jenny Todd runs her father’s junkyard business while he is in hospital. On one of her pickups she gets an old bike and is fixing it up when she sees a family watching her, in particular the eldest girl. The next day Jenny catches the girl with the bike in the junkyard. Sheila says she was only riding it not stealing it. Jenny isn’t convinced though she feels sorry the girl, when she sees what little money her family have. Sheila arrives to help around the yard to make up for things. Jenny is cynical thinking she is doing it to soften her up and get the bike cheap. She decides to test her by saying she can have the bike for five Bob or a cot, knowing her baby brother sleeps in a drawer. She takes the cot and Jenny gives her the bike as a present, she’s delighted.
I like that Jenny is cynical of Sheila at first. She is not going to be fooled by anyone or get taken advantage of. Sheila does turn out to be a good person but has to learn from mistakes.
Wonder Girl! (Pages: 81-86)
Jay Smith was brought up by a scientist Dr Harriet Pugh on a scheme of diet and training designed to make her exceptional both physical and mentally. Jay quickly made a name for herself in athletics. The story starts with Jay practicing yoga, after which Jay and Dr Pugh are on their way to an event. Outside the stadium when they notice an advert for Vigrus the vitamin food and a girl who resemble Jay. The stewards won’t allow Jay to race because of the ad, until they are sure of her amateur status. Jay stills wants to test herself against the other runners so Jay starts at the finish line and is at the starting line before the rest of the girls.
Then Dr Pugh and Jay set out to confront the advertisers. Mr Wilcox the crafty advertiser insist on Jay trying the food first before disregaring it. Although she says reading the ingredients you’d get more vitamins from an orange, when she does go to try some a photographer takes a picture of her with the spoon in her hand. Mr Wilcox then tries to blackmail them saying that they’ll have a hard time proving innocence with that photo, so they can either not interfere with his lookalike ad or come aboard and get paid. Jay agrees his won and tells him to get a picture of her actually eating the food. When she takes a bite She collapses and her breathing and pulse slow down. Jay winks at Dr Pugh and she picks up on it, saying Jay is used to a very strict diet and does Mr Wilcox still want to claim she eats his food. He destroys the photos and signs a statement saying she is no way associated with Vitrus so they can’t sue him. Once it is signed Jay jumps to her feet, leaving Mr Wilcox dumbfounded.
I really like the art in this story, just really nice use of colours and good expressions on the people. Jay Smith has some similarities to Valda, she has above average human abilities and likes to test herself against others in sports, of course her origins are rooted in science rather then the mystical. I like her novel idea of how to compare herself to the other runners when she isn’t allowed race. She also shows her intelligence by finding such solutions and also when she easily outsmarts Mr Wilcox.
Mum on Wheels! (Pages: 88-92)
June Burton is a trained nurse and housekeeper, who travels in a well equipped van to look after children whose parents are absent due to illness or injury. She is meant to be looking after three children and is surprised by their two chimp pets. She doesn’t get off to a good start with the chimps. and they hold a grudge despite her efforts to make friends. When they throw her clothes out the window for a second time, June figures their problem is she is in the parents bedroom and they thinks she’s a permanent replacement. She moves things into the guest bedroom and that seems to solve the problem.
That Imp Angela! (Pages:93-96)
Little Angela Lister won the title of Little Miss Loveliness and was in demand for public appearances. Only her sister Karen knew how mischievous she really was. She is to open the Roselea swimming pool, where Mrs Ponsoby expresses her unhappiness about the pool which is opened just behind her house. Nobody else is pleased either as Mrs Ponsoby has restricted the pool to a 1 hour opening per day. During her speech Angela lets a bar of soap on the ground, so Mrs Ponosby slips into the pool and Angela also throws bubble balls into the pool (although Karen is the only one who knows who is responsible). After this Mrs Ponosby is determined have the pool closed.
While Mrs Ponosby goes to dry off, Angela sees her house on fire. Karen suggests they form a water chain and save the house. It turns out Angela locked Pinsoby in the room she was drying off in, she saw everything and is so grateful she lets the pool be open all the time.
No Good at Games! (Pages: 104-108)
Art: Andy Tew
Violet Timson is no good at games which is unfortunate as she attends Athleet Hall where games are taken very seriously and merits given for good performances each week. (Of course with a name like Athleet Hall what else would they be obsessed with!). The only thing Violet has learned is how to hit the hockey ball into a rabbit hole, so practice has to be stopped. Later at a match she passes out scared of the opposing Welsh team. She come across a teacher putting in the office. Been actually good at it (after her rabbit hole trick) she helps out. She then finds out she’s a famous hockey star and through a misunderstanding, she thinks Violet has been selflessly missing out on her hockey. She awards her merits for the week and presents her with a hockey stick! This is a funny story, my favourite part is Violet being intimidated by the chanting Welsh team, who turn out to be very nice and friendly.
Go, Girl-Go! (Pages: 114-119)
Art: Douglas Perry
14 year old, Vanessa Coombes is keen bout go-karting but her 18 year old brother Terry has strong views on women drivers especially with his kart. He stops every attempt she tries. She decides to take his go-kart one night and ends up crashing. Terry’s mad at first but is happier when he realises there was a part missing on the kart and if he had driven it in a race he could have been seriously injured. A few days later Vanessa sees a poster for a gala with £20 cash prize. Knowing he borrowed money from their father to fix the go-kart she tells Terry about it. But on the way to the race, a dog jumps out in front of the car and Terry crashes. He’s taken to hospital with a cracked rib. Vanessa decides she will win the money for him. Things are a bit more difficult than she thought she runs off the track and is left a lap behind. She doesn’t want that to be the humiliating end to her first race, so she decides she needs to catch up to the other drivers. She doesn’t win the race but does win the money, as the prize was for the fastest lap not who crossed the finish line first.
The art by Douglas Perry is great of course. I really like who the race ends, instead of winning the first time she drives a go-kart, she struggles at the start and it is her determination to at least make a respectable finish that ends with her getting the fastest lap.
Bunch and Judy (Pages: 120-125)
Judy and her horse Bunch are often asked to do comic routines at local horse shows. At one show they have a run in with snobbish Gloria, but impress a film producer Mr Perry who wants them in his film. When they arrive for filming they aren’t too happy to see Gloria there too. Turns out they want Judy and Bunch to do the entertaining part of how riding shouldn’t be done before Gloria shows the correct way. Gloria takes great pleasure in putting them down and Bunch knocks Gloria’s hat off after she hits him. She backs her own horse into a cigar while looking for the hat, which causes the horse to bolt. It is Bunch and Judy that ride after her and clear hedges and walls beautifully and stops Gloria before she goes onto traffic. This is all caught on film and the director is so impressed he uses this as the example of good riding.