While annuals like Mandy often had long picture stories, commonly split in 4 parts throughout the annual, Judy seemed to favour shorter stories and therefore more of them. Comic strips ranged from 2 to 6 pages.
There are a nice variety of stories, some humorous strips, and regular characters such as Wee Slavey and Cora Cupid in new adventures and then there are new complete stories especially for the annual. Stories with twist endings seemed to be a favourite, perhaps because these fitted better with telling a story in a few pages. For more details on the featured stories read on… (For just a list of contents click here)
Silver Star (Pages: 5-9)
This story seems to start out as any other average horse story, an untameable horse and the only person who ever could ride him in a coma after an unnamed tragic accident. But it quickly turns to the more bizarre side when it the next panel states the story really starts a year ago with an alien scouting ship. While the alien, Captain Zoros’, ship is on a collision course to Earth, we see the stable owner’s daughter Megan, being a spoilt brat (though it’s clear she will get her comeuppance as a year later she’s in coma).
That evening a meteorite crashes near the stables of a pregnant horse. The horse’s foal is born and Megan names him Silver Star and claims him as her own. The other stable workers notice something unusual about the horse, after a few months he looks like a 2 year old, and he seems too intelligent.
Finally Zoros fellow aliens track him down and bring Megan and the horse to their ship. They extract Zoros but accidently put Megan’s personality into Silver Star. So the comatose Megan is empty and the spirited horse is actually Megan, though it’s decided that a lifetime of punishment as a horse is a bit much for being a spoilt brat, so the aliens realise their mistake (how they realise it a whole year later isn’t explained!) and come back and fix it, so happy ending for Megan who becomes a nicer person after that.
Bobby Dazzler (Pages: 12-15)
Artist: Matías Alonso
This was a regular strip in Judy, though it isn’t drawn by the regular artist. This strip like all the artist’s work is lovely looking. The only flaw I find is that Bobby a bit too pretty and girly then I’m used to.
Basically Bobby is the only girl at an all-boys boarding school where her mother works. She usually ends up having to prove that she can do anything the boys can (and she usually does it better!). This story follows a typical set up where her main antagonists, Mike and Don, sign up for a model plane building competition and laugh at Bobby when she says she’ll enter. They tell her she should stick to flower arranging (this piece of dialogue will be a set up for the end punchline).
Of course when they realise she’s actually good at making model planes they decide to interfere as they can’t lose to a girl! So when Bobby volunteers to do the flower display for the hall, the boys decide to lock her into the room so she hasn’t time to finish her model. Of course quick thinking Bobby uses the flowers and some wire to make a unique model plane and ends up winning the competition.
I liked Bobby Dazzler, she could always hold her own with the boys and the boys while sounding a bit chauvinistic were usually aware that Bobby could beat them at most things.
The Time Machine (Pages: 17-21)
Artist: Ken Houghton
Ann lives with her brilliant inventor uncle, who of course has no money, still waiting for the invention that will make them millions. He thinks he finally has it when he makes a time machine. Ann isn’t too convinced. Later she sees a paper headline about a painting that sold for a million pounds by Leonardo. (Presumably Da Vinci though they never say his second name specifically for some reason, they just leave it at Leonardo, Italian painter from 1498). So when she sees that the painting was part of a pair she decides to try out her uncle’s time machine.
Somehow the vague location of Milan lands her right in his studio. We also get the classic swirling numbers when travelling back in time (this is also where this site’s banner comes from). So Ann does a deal with Leonardo, through gestures as he’s Italian and doesn’t speak English.
So she takes the painting back and then goes to contact an art dealer. Straight away the dealer tells her it can’t be the original painting as the paint’s too fresh, he gives her £50 for it anyway for its curiosity value. Of course time as a loop means that she was the cause of the painting being “lost”.
Simple Simon (Pages: 23-25)
Pencils: Sean Phillips Inker: Ken Houghton
As this is only 3 pages long the set-up, conflict and resolution all come pretty quick. Sandra Brown and her horse, Simon, are accepted into a riding club and she delighted. She has a great time on the outings with the club and seems oblivious that the girls are annoyed that her horse is too slow to keep up with the rest of them.
So she is surprised and disappointed a few weeks later when one of the girls, Moira, tells her she has been voted out of the club. She is still loyal to Simon telling him he’s better than any of the faster ponies and then the next day he gets to prove himself when Moira’s horse gets in trouble. Simon helps pull Moira’s horse out of the bog and Moira is so grateful she and the rest of the club vote for Sandra and Simon to join again. Sandra accepts it enthusiastically with no conflict about been kicked out 2 days before.
Schoolgirl Vet (Pages: 27-31)
This was another regular Judy feature about a girl Kay Burrows who wanted to be a vet and helped her vet brother David a lot of the time. In this story the set-up is that Constable Clark’s dog Rex who is trained to protect him and not accept anything from strangers, gets poisoned. They don’t know what could have happened but Kay figures out that the stick Clark has being using to play fetch with Rex is Laburnum, a poisonous plant.
So Rex is cured, but a mere poisoning doesn’t make for enough of a thrilling story, so a runaway truck has to be added. Constable Clark performs an impressive and improbable bit of policing.
But wouldn’t you know it after that amazing feat, the brakes have failed so all Clark and Rex can do is steer it clear of the populated area and use their amazing reflexes to jump clear of the truck
Clark is hurt and needs to be gotten clear of the truck before it explodes but Rex won’t let anyone near him. While some guy gets ready to shoot the dog, Kay and David arrive. Kay convinces the police to let her try and get the dog and Rex recognises her and lets her put a lead on him so everyone’s okay.
A Year and a Day (Pages: 33-37)
Artist: Martin Puigagut?
The year is 1738 and a Squire Jonas and his new wife Althea, are heading home when the coach nearly hits an old woman. Now the Squire doesn’t seem like a bad guy he had told his driver to go slower and shows concern about the old woman though he does mention that people call her a witch. Woodtrope (the witch) decides to place a curse on him, which seems somewhat unfair after all it was his driver’s fault not his, unless she was more pissed off by being called a witch, in which instance she doesn’t help her case by cursing his first born child.
So for those of you who are history buffs you might spot a flaw in her curse, for everyone else prepare for the twist ending.
So the couple have a daughter, Alona, and pretty much forget about the curse until Woodthorpe turns up to remind them on Alona’s 13th birthday. While Jonas is sceptical about Woodthorpe’s powers, Althea decides she should spend the night of the 2nd with her daughter. Just as midnight approaches Death appears. Looking like the stereotypical Death with a cloak and scythe, and also wings and a horse and lots of smoke. Then the clock strikes midnight and he just disappears. The next day Alona’s tutor comes with the news that Woodthorpe was heard to be carried off screaming in the night and also provides the reason for Death’s disappearance.
Apparently Death follows the Gregorian calendar too.
A Fast Learner (Pages: 40-44)
- Art: Rodney Sutton
Marie Reagan is part of a travelling community and is told she will have to go to school by the government. She insists on bringing her parrot to school and of course she runs into some bullies the first day. The bullies leave the parrot out of the cage and she flies away. For someone that was so insistent that she couldn’t be parted from her bird she isn’t too upset about her flying off. She doesn’t even look for her; she just leaves the cage open at school and goes home to study. Meanwhile the bullies decide to set Marie up by stealing stuff and put it in Marie’s locker.
So the police arrive and Marie is happy to see Polly has returned to the locker room. She is surprised when the police search the lockers and find the stolen stuff in her locker. Luckily there is a witness to the crime, as Polly quotes the bullies.
The policeman takes the word of the parrot. The bullies get taken to the station to meet their parents and Marie does well on her first test, so everything works out.
The Hero (Pages 49-51)
Two sisters, Susan and Rachel, decide to avoid any more dates with two boys who bored them by talking about cowboys and rock climbing respectively. The perfect distraction comes in the form of a film star who is part of film being shot in their town. A big crowd gathers around and Jason James the film star chooses the girls to go on a boat with him for publicity shots. Of course when things go wrong, it’s the boys to the rescue with their skills of rock climbing and ah… cowboy related lassoing.
Of course Jason James makes a complete idiot of himself. The boys are enjoying attention from some girls when Susan and Rachel come over to set them straight, that it’s theirboyfriends the girls are hitting on. So being fickle girls, they are now fascinated by their boyfriends interests the minute some other girls show and interest in them.
Cora Cupid (Pages: 55-57)
Artist: Giorgio Letteri
Another regular Judy story about a girl, Cora’s, attempts to play matchmaker. As she is an already established character with Judy fans, other than a small caption box there is no need for a big story set up. This also means that a short 3 page story works better here than the previously mentioned “Simple Simon”. In this story she tries to matchmaker an overzealous first aider with a guy who wants to be a doctor. It doesn’t quite work as she hoped.
Romance and boyfriends became a more common story plot in the 70s/80s/90s then when these comics first started.
Rain (Pages: 62-63)
Art: Oliver Passingham
Marie Patin and her father a doctor live in a log cabin where there neighbours are a tribe of “Red Indians”. Anuak, one of the neighbours apparently has interest in becoming a doctor but thinks his elders wouldn’t approve as they are set in their ways. He is disparaging of their plans for a ritual to the rain god to stop the recent flooding. That night Marie awakens to find an old man outside in the rain. She invites him in gives him shelter. The next morning he has gone and so has the rain. Anuak has a quick change of opinion about his elders with these revelations.
Junior Nanny (Pages: 65-67)
Art: Oliver Passingham
Junior Nanny, Chris Johnson, works in a residential nursery, solving little kids problems. Donny one of the recent additions is having problems settling in. His father’s dead, his mother’s in hospital and he can’t talk well. Presumably in frustration with the way his life is going so far, he starts tearing the legs off kid’s teddies. Chris’s boyfriend, Andrew, decides terrifying the kid will help…
Apparently honey was a high commodity 1984, was there a shortage in the 80s or something? I definitely remember having honey at home in the 80s.
So they get the “precious” honey but Donny smashes it. That night one of the kids asks to be read a story about the bear who really likes honey (wonder who that refers to!). Donny gets upset. Chris figures out that Donny’s missing his teddy bear named Honey. So Donny and Honey are reunited and Andrew gets to slip in some suggestive comments to Chris about having his own honey to cuddle.
The Girl in the Looking Glass (Pages: 69-73)
Artist: “B Jackson”
Jane Martin is on holidays with her parents but is very bored. She is interested in the local Chateau, but it is closed to public. She decides to take a closer look anyway, so she hops over the wall and is found by the caretaker’s son
I think she needs to look up definition trespassing, jumping the wall for a closer look at the chateau still constitutes trespassing. So it turns out the Chateau was originally owned by the LaMartins and Jane’s last name being Martin thinks they might be ancestors of hers, and the boy Jean also thinks this is remarkable (because you know Martin being such an unusual name to have!)
Years ago a curse placed on the Chateau, that if intruders ever stole anything from the chateau and went un-punished, the whole place would be destroyed. It seems like an odd curse, was the old woman who placed the curse a really vigilant law keeper that wanted to ensure thieves did not go unpunished? Or was it that she hoped that the place would not only get robbed but get destroyed in the process? Why the old woman placed the curse in the first place is never explained either.
So while Jean is checking on one of the burglary alarm he lets Jane into one of the rooms for a few minutes. Jane admires one of the pictures but then as she turns to leave she sees the portrait in the mirror but it reflects her own face. She panics trips over a stool, knocks herself unconcious and sets off an alarm. This turns out to be a lucky thing as burglers had broken in and captured Jean and tried to get him to turn off the alarms. Later her seeing herself in the mirror is explained away.
You know those old trick mirrors, set a precise angles to old paintings, that every rich person keeps in their house.
The owner are so grateful to Jane that they invite her and her family to stay. Jane looks in the mirror again and sees the portrait is smiling so is not convinced that it’s just a trick of the mirror. There is a bit of ambiguity to whether she’s just over imaginative or whether the Lamartins were actually her ancestors.
Big ‘n’ Bertha (Pages: 74-75)
Judy also had humorous regular features that were more in the style of Beono/Dandy type comic. Bertha is a young girl and Big is her dog and that usually end up being a source of irritation of her father. The father looks a lot like teacher from Bash street kids, I’m not entirely sure if it was the same artist. Of course artists and writers hardly ever got credited for their work with these comics so it can be hard to track down who drew what.
In this strip Bertha sets up a paddle pool but Dad ties Big up so he won’t splash around and dirty Mum’s washing. When Dad tries to show off his diving skills of course it ends in disaster for him when he trips over Big.
Wee Slavey (Pages: 78-79)
Artist: John Higson
This was a popular feature in Judy. It was about a young Victorian maid, Nellie Perks. While often stories about maids in Victorian times showed a hard life of drudgery, this was a more light-hearted funny strip. In this short story on her afternoon off she tries to help out a struggling artist, to sell his paintings. He doesn’t have much luck but he paints a portrait of Nellie and signs it for her. Later when Nellie is working she drops the picture in front of some of the family’s guests. In a big coincidence style, it turns out the guests are the parents of the artist.
It is never explained did Ian actually go to Australia and come back or just take the fare money to do his own thing. Either way the parents are so happy to be reunited with him that they help him get famous and he has an exhibition to a crowded galley which includes Nellie’s picture.
For All to See (Pages: 82-85)
Lucy Weston’s estranged rich Uncle is dying. He emigrated from England to Canada in the 40s. Now that he’s dying, he is feeling bad about disowning his sister after her marriage. So he wants to make it up to his sister and niece Lucy by leaving them an inheritance. He is afraid that his family would contest a legacy so his sends something open for “all to see”. Sure enough after his death, his pompous son, Alan, comes to check what his father sent his aunt and cousin. The document Uncle Charles sent them is deeds to a property in Canada. Alan informs them it’s worthless, it was flooded in 1973 by the government to make a reservoir. So Alan throws the paper back at them and leaves. They are disappointed, but Lucy refuses to believe it was some joke. While in a newsagents she figures out what the document is all about. She shows the document to the newsagent a keen stamp collector. Turns out the document has a rare stamp attached to it worth nearly 50,000.
The Helpers (Pages: 88-93)
Artist: Ian Kennedy
A new take on the history of Britain, two aliens Petra and Anya land on Earth during the early Stone Age. Their mission is to help primitive people. They begin to show the people how to make fire, tools, wheels, and apparently teach them English.
So the people are amazed by this “teknajee” and want the “Gods” to stay with them. Anya and Petra decide its time to leave before they become to dependent on them. So the tribe name the land after them; Petranya.
Then centuries later the Romans come to conquer them. I guess the tribe could have used their alien helpers then!
So after some kind of chinese whispers like hijinks Petranya become Britannia. Not exactly the most historical accurate depiction of Britain, but the last panel asks anyway “Just a story. But could it be how Britain and London got their names?”
The Theatre (Pages: 97-101)
Artist: Russ Nicholson
I just love the artwork in this story particularly the opening panel. Often I think these stories benefited from not being in colour, the simple green/black/white works beautifully here.
So the set up is Grace has time to kill before getting her train and seeks shelter in a theatre. Often short stories with a twist, used the situation of the protagonist hanging out with ghosts without realising it. This story has the good double bluff, where Grace freaks out as she thinks the theatre people are ghosts when she sees they are dressed in old fashioned clothes. She runs away but some of the people catch up to her.
So this is explained away, and Grace ends up staying until the second half, then goes to get her train. She forgets her gloves though, so she runs back to get them, only to find…
Danger, Min at Work! (Pages: 104-105)
Another humour strip, this involves a girl Min who can never keep a job. Her story-lines had her trying out a variety of jobs, that always end in disaster. Here she gets a job on a farm and typical mayhem ensues. She decides the quickest way to weed turnips is to use a tractor. She ends up losing control of the tractor and crashing into a milk tanker.
Betty’s Bloodhound Butler (Pages: 107-109)
- Art: Giorgio Letteri
Betty has a dog that is called Butler and is also dressed liked one. He also talks like a butler, but only Betty can understand him (or else she is completely delusional!). Kind of reminds me of the recent Australian/US TV show Wilfred, only Butler is more dignified than Wilfred and Betty was never suicidal.
Betty is out getting a birthday present for her Neighbour’s little girl, Susie. She buys her a stuffed dog, but Susie the ungrateful brat decides she wants Butler instead. Since she’s told she can’t have Butler she goes into a pet shop to get a puppy. The owner understands as he has a daughter who is similar to Susie. The daughter proves this by demanding to have Susie’s stuffed dog.
Butler’s suggestion to Betty is that the pet shop owner may accept the stuffed dog as payment for the puppy. The owner apparently is all for the bartering system agrees to this.
The Black Dog (Pages: 110-111)
Artist: Oliver Passingham
Linda Llyod has a sixth sense and helps her uncle out whom as a member of Society for Psychical Research, investigates ghosts and haunted houses. A new client is upset that her son, Toby, has invented an imaginary dog and more upsetting for her is that she saw it herself go into his room before disappearing. Linda goes to talk to Toby and he is able to summon the dog at will. Linda figures out that Toby is very lonely, so she solves the problem by getting him a puppy. (Puppies, they solve all kids’ problems!). She also persuades him to let the ghost dog go back to where he belongs.
Photo Finish (Pages:112-117)
Artist: Claude Berridge
June Simons finds an old instant camera in a local junk shop.But it turns out the camera is cursed; June soon figures out that anything she takes a picture of gets destroyed. A vase breaks, her dad’s new car crashes etc. Presumably the camera was always doing this so I’ve got to wonder why the previous owner would pass it on to a junk shop.
So, while babysitting the little kid Jimmy goes to take a photo of Jane. She panics and decides to get rid of it but instead of just smashing she decides to run in the rain to throw it over the junk dealer’s wall
So that could have ended in a disaster but luckily the last photo taken was not of Jane but of the mirror, so as it took a photo of itself it had to destroy itself. Which is pretty lucky as if she had just tossed it away presumably there’d be some kind of “jumanji” situation, where the junk dealer would just sell it on to some unsuspecting person again.
Reluctant Heroine (Pages: 120-125)
This is another romance type story. While on holiday with parents Fran meets a boy Keith. She is happy to spend time with him at first but she isn’t too happy when he suggests they go diving.
She confesses that she has been scared of being underwater since a bad experience as a toddler. (Although she has no problem with swimming). Keith offers to help her with her phobia, but she declines. Later they go exploring some caves but they are trapped when the tide starts to come in. Keith decides to climb up to an opening at the top of the cave. He slips and hurts himself. Fran decides to the only way to get help is to swim out the entrance. So she ignores her fears, swims out and gets help to rescue Keith. This is a nice contrast to the earlier story “The Hero”; it means that both sexes have had a chance to save their love interests.