I was going to do a Christmas post while I had time off from work, unfortunately after Christmas day, I was unwell, but I have recovered now (just in time to go back to work of course!), so better late than never, I have managed to get time to look at an old Bunty annual.
The Bunty annuals up to 1988 all depicted a drawing of the Bunty character on the cover, in 1989 this changed instead to a photo of a girl and the 1990 annual does the same, a trend that would continue until the end of the annuals. What I do notice about this earlier photo covers is they are more minimalist, with just plain background, girl, and title. Later annuals would have more text added to the cover advertising what to expect inside. For regular weekly readers they would know what to look forward to, a lot of familiar characters are present with some fun one-off stories as well. (For just a list of contents go to the next page)
Sister Susie (Pages: 6-15)
Artist: Matias Alonso
Petra Mayne’s uncle raised a chimp named Susie like a human child. While he was away, Susie comes to stay with Petra’s family. Susie can be quite difficult to manage at times. To try and keep her entertained they go to visit a Stately home with a fun fair (oddly enough they leave Petra’s young twin siblings with a neighbour, which seems unfair that they miss out!). The plan is to stay at the outside grounds, but Susie slips away into the Hall. She causes mischief until a group of children visiting from children’s home are able to lead her outside. They have more success at the fair as Susie helps a boy down the helter skelter and stays with the children for the rest of the day. She does manage to get up to one more piece of mischief before leaving slipping hall to steal the wax fruit display, which the Mayne’s don’t notice until driving home!
Bonnie and Claude (Pages: 17-24)
Artist: Andy Tew
Ballroom dancers Bonnie and Claude Plank along with young Laura Balmain go to Rio de Janeiro on holiday, before they are to compete in the World Latin American Dance Campionship. Unbeknownst to them a competing pair of dancers, Pedro and Carmen Maneto, have decided in order to win, they must make sure the Planks can not participate.
They follow the Planks around on holiday but their tricks always backfire, until Pedro takes drastic measures and gets bandits to kidnap the trio. The bandits put them to work for them, but it has disastrous consequences, Laura puts too much chilli in the food, the Planks flatten his gold watch and burn his long johns with an iron. Laura then comes up with a plan to escape, Bonnie and Claude distract the bandits with dancing lessons and she throws bullets on fire, making them think they are being attacked. Bonnie, Claude and Laura manage to make it to championship just in time and of course win it. Still not knowing Maneto’s involvement she is confused when the Bandit seem to blame the Manetos for things her and the Planks did!
The Wilde Bunch (Pages: 26-32)
Art: Russ Nicholson
Carol Wilde found kids for the model agency she worked at. The company used real ordinary kids off the street rather than pretty posed professional models. Carol was good at finding the perfect kid, but it could also cause a lot of trouble.
While running late for work, she runs into a boy on roller skates, although he says he will jump over her, she ducks out of way landing in water, he tells her she could have saved herself a soaking if she listened to him. When she finally gets to works she has a note from colleague Miss Potts, but she can barely read the hand-writing, “Mega TV need a boy – skater trained – for a special stunt commercial” . Miss Potts is out looking at potential candidate but rings to say she has had no luck, Carol says she has an idea that she ran into a great skater earlier, she hangs up before hearing Miss Potts protest.
The boy, Lennie, sees Carol coming and thinks she is mad about earlier and runs off. Borrowing some skates Carol goes after him. Lennie gives is skates to is twin brother Teddy and disappears, Carol catches Teddy not knowing he is a twin. Without listening to him trying to explain she rushes him over to studio wondering why he has got so clumsy all of sudden, learning the truth, she thinks she is in big trouble but the TV people are delighted with Teddy. Miss Potts arrives she had been trying to tell Carol earlier the note said ‘scatter-brained’ not ‘skater-trained’, the commercial is for a relaxing hot drink where a kid is to wreck the house. So coincidentally for Carol, everything worked out as it should!
Three stories in and a lot of humour, hijinks and misunderstandings in this annual! There’s a change of pace for the next story.
The Necklace (Pages: 33-44)
Artist: David Matysiak
As in a lot of these annuals (mostly in Diana, Man in Black stories) a spooky tale by David Matysiak, seems tradition. In this story Sally Regan borrows a special necklace from a friend and promises to return it first thing in the morning. She puts in a secret cubby hole for safe keeping but oversleeps in the morning and forget to bring it. Jean is anxious to get the necklace back, so Sally rushes home to get it after school but doesn’t pay attention when crossing the road getting hit by truck.
Sally makes it home but is feeling strange, there is a truck moving furniture and girls in her bedroom which confuses her. Then she puts her hand through a clock and she realises she is a ghost. Her memories are not fully in tact, she remembers getting hit and she was rushing to do something important but can’t remember what it was. Getting used to her ghost state, she eavesdrops on the new owners conversations to find out her parents moved. She then seeks out her grave and sees her friends including Jean visit. Jean is sorry that she was cross about the necklace the last time she saw Sally. Now knowing what she needs to do Sally goes back to the house, and after a workman discovers her secret cubby hole she scares him and takes the necklace placing it in Jean’s desk. This is not the end of it though, as Sally discovers so much time has passed that her old class have moved to third year. The boy who now has Jean’s desk finds the necklace and gives it to his girlfriend. Sally manages to sneak it back from her during gym class and slip it into Jean’s blazer pocket. Jean is surprised to find it, and even more surprisingly Sally wakes up in a hospital bed with her parents beside her. She has been unconscious since the accident, she thinks it was all a strange dream she had, until Jean visits wearing her necklace, saying she found it in her blazer pocket!
School’s Out! (Pages: 49-58)
Artist: Terry Aspin
Before The Comp came over from Nikki, Bunty’s equivalent long running soap story, School’s Out, followed the pupils at Wansdale School. In this story Patti asks her friends to come along to the Christmas Eve disco with her, but they all have plans – Dawn is decorating at an Old people’s home, Sandra is going to a fancy dress party, Carol is baking a Christmas cake, Ellie is going with her brother Kevin to get a Christmas tree and Gladys is being Santa at a kid’s party. Their Christmas plans end up being a disaster, after lots of complaints about her decorating Dawn discovers someone else has decorated the party room at the old peoples home, Sandra’s Eddie the Eagle costume cause her trouble as she can’t get in taxi or crowded bus with her skis, Kevin and Dawn tries to cut down a tree but after a misadventure buy one instead, and the kids are not convinced by Gladys Father Christmas voice and rip her beard off. Patti is surprised to see them all turn up at the disco, but they all have a good time in the end.
Life in Bunty (Pages: 59-61)
Not to be confused with Life with Bunty that follows the Bunty character, this strip follows Kirstie a worker in a ficionalised Bunty office, that seems to employ a number of women with a male boss they call “Sir”. In this story Kirstie recall some previous years Christmas mishaps, like Sir trying dance on table at restauraunt and slipping onto holly or when they all had the same idea to give Sir a photo of themselves as a present. This year Kirstie brings the whole office down as she slips on a filofax after decorating the office.
Toots (Page: 64)
Artist: Bill Ritchie
Toots bemoans the youth watching TV instead of doing constructive hobbies like bygone years such as knitting, painting, playing the piano… that is until she hears the theme tune of “Neighbours” on the TV and so has to pause to watch that first.
Bike Rider (Pages: 65-69)
Artist: Andy Tew
Sandy Clark with her computerised super bike go on the hunt for a pickpocket, after mistaking a man running for the bus as the thief trying to get away, they have better luck at the circus and they find a trained monkey responsible. After the events, the ringmaster is sorry that the Bike Rider has disappeared he wanted to offer him a job as a stunt rider. Sandy overhearing thinks “he” won’t be taking up the offer.
The Four Marys (Pages: 71-80)
Artist: Jim Eldridge
After the four Marys find out that Miss Creef’s been teaching at St Elmos for 25 years, they talk to Miss Mitchell about celebrating the occasion. They decide to write to old pupils to get together for the celebration. Everyone replies except sisters Ruth and Rhoda Dale. As the last address they have for them is close to Raddy’s home, over half-term they decide to pay a visit. They are shocked when Rhoda has so much hate for Creefy, she tells them of her time in school. Her mother was a famous actress that they rarely got to see when she was in London for only one day, they wanted to go visit, but Dr Gull was unable to let them go as there was no teacher free to chaperone the. Rhoda and her sister snuck off to London anyway, surprised to meet Creefy at the train station. Despite the hotel being close by, Creefy just took them back to school, and they never got a chance to see their mother again as she died in an accident a few months later.
The Marys are disappointed that Miss Creef could do something like that, but remind themselves people can make mistakes. On the day of the celebration allthe old pupils tell stories of how Miss Creef helped them. The Marys think everything will be ruined when Ruth and Rhoda show up, but of course the story Rhoda told was not the whole truth. What she did not know was that he mother did not want to be seen with the girls in case having grown up daughters damaged her career. Miss Creef had gone to see her to try and get her to change her mind, Ruth found this out later and only after learning that Rhoda still had resentment for Miss Creef she told her the whole story. So the firm but fair Creefy’s reputatation is restored and everyone is able to happily join in the celebrations.
Haggis (Pages: 93)
Haggis is tired of having to follow orders, but he doesn’t refuse the order to come for dinner.
Life With Bunty (Pages: 94-95)
Artist: Doris Kinnear
Bunty is enjoying skating with her friends. When a boy comes along that she likes, she pretends not to be a good skater so he will offer to help her.
No Time for Terri (Pages: 97-104)
Artist: Douglas Perry
Terri Dempster’s parents run a children’s home, Heartvale House. Sometimes Terri feels her parents don’t have as much time for her as the other children, so she is excited when she sees they have booked a holiday to Paris. She icannot hide her disappointment when they tell her it is a getaway just for her mom and dad and they’ve got a temporary matron in for the week. Terri is so upset so won’t stay at the home and asks to stay with an aunt instead. She ends up quite bored, meanwhile the children aren’t getting along with the new matron and decide totrack down Terri. Terri comes back to the home and helps the matron, with all the little tricks she’s learned from her parents (like putting a sprinkle of cheese on the mash so the children eat it).
Hearing the whole story when they return, her parents are proud of her when they come back. They want to treat her to a weekend away to London just the three of them. Terri is excited but when one of the young girls, Mandy, is upset that Terri will miss her birthday, Terri feels so bad that they end up staying for the party instead. Terri tells her parents she is getting as daft about the place as they are.
Bringing Up the Barkers! (Pages: 106-112)
Artist: Andy Tew
Walter the dalmatian of Janner Hall, despaired at his new owners, the rough and common Barkers who had inherited the Hall. When Princess Idra comes to stay, he thinks she must also be appalled by the Barkers behaviour. When he invites some of his dog friends to look at the Princesses room, he get in trouble as Karl attacks a big teddy bear and the room gets wrecked. Walter is ashamed but redeems himself when he raises the alarm to kidnappers who are spying on the place. Him and the Barkers stop them and Princess Idra is grateful, she also thinks the Barkers are fun and is enjoying her stay. Walter admits one can’t be highbrow all the time!
Dream Pony (Pages: 113-120)
Artist: Edmond Ripoll
Mandy Mason gets to ride her neighbours cart pony Missy, but dreams of owning her own exciting competitive pony. When her father comes into money her dream comes true when she is able to buy an arab pony, Flame. But she soon finds out he is not as perfect as he seems, he tires her out from straining on the reigns, is traffic shy, he bolts from her and doesn’t watch out for people when jumping over a drop. Mandy#s friends mention having such a thoughtful pony as Missy who would never do such things has spoiled. Mandy had never seen things that way but begins to realise how lucky she was to have Missy. She gives Flame back and when her old neighbour wants to give up her cart, Mandy is delighted she can buy Missy her perfect pony for herself.
Ever Had That Shrinking Feeling? (Pages: 81-92)
Helen agrees to take on her friend Rosemary’s newspaper round for a day as a favor. The shopkeeper mentions Rosemary was shakey after returning from her round the previous day. Helen wonders what could have caused trouble, as everything runs smoothly, her nerves start to ease, but when she gets to house 13 suddenly everything starts looking bigger. The house belongs to a witch who has cursed her for insulting her the previous day, not realising she’s a different paper girl. Helen has to escape the wilds of the garden before getting into the house and finally getting attention of the witch. Finding out her mistake the witch un-shrinks Helen but also makes her forget what happened. So the next day when Rosemary asks what happened thinking there is no trouble she says she doesn’t want to give up the money will take back the paper round.
There is some dodgy cut and paste sometimes with making Helen small and interacting with things, but it was a different type of photo story than we usually see so it makes it more memorable.
- Top Popstrels (Pages: 16, 48, 70, 121)
- Posters of popstars: Kylie Minogue,Whitney Houston, Tiffany and Sinitta
- Pop the Question (Page: 25)
- A pop music quiz.
- Alton Towers (Pages: 45-47)
- A feature on the lesure park
- “As We Were Saying…!” (Pages: 62-63)
- Animal photos with joke speech bubbles
- A Right Royal Crossword (Pages: 96)
- A crossword based on the royal family.
- Lets All Go to Sandy City! (Page: 105)
- Feature on sculptor Kent Trollen sand city built on Seal beach, California.
- A Photo Story is Born… (Pages: 122-123)
- An interesting insight into the making of a photo story. The story in question is “Nothing to be Afraid of” appeared in the Bunty 1989 Summer Special. According to this feature firstly the writer Judy Maslen, passes on the story to sub-editor Jeanette Taylor which then gets passed to photographers Norman and Benita Brown. The photographers gather the cast and after shooting the scenes, the film is developed and passed back to the Bunty office. The type is set, read and corrected and stuck up by balloonist Elaine Bolton.
- Design a Fashion (Pages: 124-125)
- Eight fashion designs submitted by readers, redrawn by a Bunty artist.
This was the earliest Bunty annual I owned when I was younger (well… technically it belonged to my sister first). I always preferred the Mandy and Judy annuals, but Bunty had its merits too and I have good memories of this. There is a lot of humourous stories in this, I enjoyed The Wilde Bunch, the misunderstandings and Carol’s chase of Lennie is quite dynamic. The soap story School’s Out could be played for drama in the weekly issues at times, but this story instead goes for a humourous Christmas inspired tale. I especially appreciate Sandra’s costume of an eagle with skis to represent Eddie the Eagle. Another favourite of mine is The Necklace the long spooky story, left you wondering how much was a dream and is a story that stuck out in memory with of course David Matysiak’s distinctive art. The Four Marys is always a classic, and I do have a soft spot for stories that show flashbacks to St Elmos in the past, of course there was a misunderstandings with Miss Creef, us readers could hardly believe she could be so cruel and story shows of course that’s not the case. It’s the only story that shows us some past events as well, as all the stories are set in contemporary times, no tragic Victorian orphans stories present here.
Surprisingly we get no text stories, although maybe its not a big surprise as Bunty annuals didn’t have a lot of text stories other than the very early years, and none appeared in annuals from 1988 to 1992. We do get one photo story, Ever Had That Shrinking Feeling? is more memorable than other photo stories which usually stuck to general life stories with their restricted format. Another bonus of this book is the behind the scenes of how the photo stories were made, with names of people who worked on the story. Photos taken of photographer taking photos for a photo story, all very layered! There were some other other fun features, I liked the Design a Fashion page where reader’s designs would be drawn by a Bunty artist, and the sand sculptures in the Lets all Go to Sandy City.