Tag Archives: J. Badesa

Susan of Studio ‘B’ [1978]

Mandy Picture Story Library No.2 – Susan of Studio ‘B’.

Cover Art: Ian Kennedy, Art: J. Badesa

Plot:

Susan is working as a production assistant at “ICT” Studios. She’s already known as a bit of a klutz, and she has terrible luck – the very first thing she does in this comic is trip over a cable and spill coffee on the handsome young pop star who’s being filmed. His name is Tony Sunshine (later on, he’s referred to as Tony Scott, so it’s probably a stage name). Tony is all set to be the star of the new series ICT is launching. (The programme seems to be some kind of music and variety show, though this is never explained in any great detail.) The production has been plagued by bad luck and minor accidents; so Tony isn’t even mad at Susan – he’s just that used to things going wrong. Still – when Susan accidentally knocks Tony over while she’s trying to wipe the coffee from his shirt, he narrowly avoids being hit by one of the floodlights as it comes crashing down from the ceiling!

Susan spots a black-clad man hurrying off the set but thinks nothing of it; she just assumes he’s one of the lighting engineers.

As the director is telling everyone to go home for the day, since the set has basically been ruined, another TV star shows up. His name is Chas Harding; and he’s been in the business a lot longer than Tony has. The two men first met when Tony guest-starred on Harding’s show. After that, Tony became so popular that he’s now been given his own show to star in. Tony confides in the older man that, with all the accidents and breakages they’ve had, shooting is so far behind that the whole project is on the verge of being shut down. He and the crew have been given just one week to finish shooting.

Harding assures Tony that everything’s going to work out – “You’ll get the series finished, it’ll be a success, then the doors of show-business will be thrown wide open.” That’s when Susan walks in, opening the door right into Harding’s back!

Accidents just keep on happening at Studio B. The next day, as Tony is about to start singing a duet with a pretty young starlet called Cathy, Susan almost knocks Cathy off the stool she’s sitting on. When Tony tries to grab Cathy, they both overbalance on their tall stools and fall off – right out of the path of the heavy camera that’s suddenly rolling towards them! “There are times,” the director says, “When Susan’s clumsiness is a blessing.”

Meanwhile, Susan again spots a dark-clad figure running away. Convinced that this is the same man she saw yesterday after the lighting rig fell, Susan decides to follow him. But, she falls right into the soundstage’s trap door, which the man has left open behind him. By the time Susan has managed to climb out, the mysterious stranger is long gone. That’s when she smells smoke. It’s burning inside one of the store rooms, and as the smoke gets thicker, Susan tries to pull a fire extinguisher off the wall. It appears to be stuck, so she’s got no choice but to run back out on the soundstage for help. Members of the crew finally manage to put the fire out. The director wonders how a fire could have started in there, since the room was only used to store old script copies. Susan counters that she thinks someone set the fire deliberately. She tells him and the crew all about her theory that someone is sabotaging them, but the director doesn’t believe her. He says it’s too hard for anyone to just walk in off the street – you need a special pass to be let inside the studio – and orders them all to get back to work.

When Susan and the rest of the film crew return to the soundstage, however, they see that the set has been smashed up. Susan realizes that the fire was intended as a distraction, a way to clear the studio floor so that the mysterious man in black could smash up the set.  Susan tries the fire extinguisher again, but this time it comes away too easily. She falls backwards and drops the fire extinguisher, spraying the already ruined set with foam.

The crew is forced to reshuffle the filming order, and while Susan is wiping up all the foam they bring in a fog machine to use during Tony and Cathy’s duet. As soon as she’s done, Susan slips away up to what looks like a side gallery for a quick break, only for the man in black to appear behind her and push her off! Susan goes over the railing, bouncing off a large drum, which breaks her fall. She tries to explain that she was pushed, but the director isn’t in the mood to listen. Meanwhile, the smoke machine is producing a lot of smoke, and Susan is starting to feel dizzy. As Tony and Cathy begin to falter in their song before they collapse on the floor, she realizes that something’s up with the fog machine. Then Susan spots him again – the man in black – and, covering her face, she tries to follow him. But, the fog is too thick, and Susan trips over Tony’s lifeless body, knocking over a lever mounted in the floor. This happens to be the lever that opens the main transport doors, so now the toxic smoke quickly evaporates – but the man in black has made his escape.

After Susan has given her statement to the police, everyone is once again sent home for the day. Tony, however, decides to go have a lie-down in his dressing room first. Chas Harding stops by again, saying he’s heard about what happened. He suggests that, since it’s now clear that Tony’s show is being deliberately sabotaged, the safest thing might be for Tony to pull out. But Tony vehemently disagrees; he’s now more determined than ever to see the filming through. Harding praises Tony for his perseverance, but as he’s about to walk out, he turns to say, “I just hope you don’t regret it.”

Meanwhile, Susan is carrying an armful of scripts – she’s going to file them away before she heads home. She drops them just as Harding leaves Tony’s dressing room, causing him to trip over her while she’s picking them up. After being yelled at by Harding; Susan goes to tidy up backstage, and sees that the light is on in the empty costume department – and someone’s left a window open. She runs out when she hears loud noises, which turn out to be coming from Tony’s dressing room. The door is locked, so she runs to the props department and “borrows” their tractor. (Presumably, they use it to move set-pieces around, though this is never explained.)

Susan aims the tractor at the dressing room door, but ends up going through the wall instead. Inside, she finds a menacing figure standing over an unconscious Tony – and whoever this man is; he’s wearing a costume she recognizes, taken from their own costume department. Susan runs out, the mysterious stranger hurries after her, and what follows is a slapstick chase sequence where Susan pushes a tea-trolley at him, smacks him in the head with a door, and throws a microphone boom at him. Her luck appears to run out when Susan’s legs get tangled in some cables on the floor, causing her to trip. However, she lands right next to a lever that controls the backdrop curtain that her pursuer just happens to be standing in front of. That buys Susan just enough time to scramble back on her feet and run up the stairs to the control room. The door is locked, though, and Susan’s idea to blind her pursuer by shining the floodlights mounted outside it right at his eyes backfires, because she pushes the wrong button.

Finally, the man catches up to Susan, and as they struggle up there above the soundstage, she manages to pull the mask off his face. The mysterious stranger turns out to be Chas Harding, who promptly topples over the same railing he pushed Susan over earlier.

Tony shows up, worried about Susan, who assures him that she’s fine, but Harding isn’t. He’s still alive though, and paramedics swiftly arrive to take him away. The director also shows up, to offer an explanation for Harding’s actions: Not only had Tony become too popular, his show had been chosen to replace a series that had been planned for Harding himself. Tony concedes that, “If it hadn’t been for Susan, there wouldn’t have been any series.” The director agrees, saying, that “It sort of makes up for her clumsiness”, right before Susan causes the set-piece she’s leaning against to snap in half.

“Well,” Tony amends, “Almost!”

Thoughts:

The story may be named after her, but Susan barely gets the chance to star in her own comic. For instance, there are two long scenes between Tony and Harding (clearly put there to establish how evil Harding is) where Susan doesn’t appear at all. In fact, other than how clumsy she is, we don’t learn that much about Susan herself either. We get no insight into what she’s thinking except for mundane things intended to set the scene, such as “I’d better go file these scripts away.” She also gets a few thought bubbles during the protracted chase scene; but that’s all reactions to the situation she’s in – “Here he comes,” “I’d better duck”, etc.

The scripting isn’t always consistent; for instance the writer seems to have forgotten that Tony’s surname is “Sunshine” and refers to him as “Tony Scott” a few pages in. Also, the nature of the show they are filming is kept rather nebulous, nor do they ever explain whether Chas Harding is an actor or a singer like Tony, or even both. Also, let’s be honest – the art really isn’t fantastic. Susan’s wide-eyed expression often looks more crazed than innocent, her hair is sometimes different lengths on either side of her face, and the flared jeans Susan wears kind of take on a life of their own sometimes. This artist seems to have had the most trouble with drawing all the slapstick scenes.

This almost balletic moment below has more in common with modern dance than physical comedy!

What could have been a fun, breezy detective story is let down both by the art, and by some rather sloppy writing. Rather unusually for a girls’ comic, Susan is the only female character – aside, of course, from Cathy the starlet. You spend more time getting to know Tony; and there’s a sense that he was intended to be there as Susan’s love interest. She may have spilled coffee on him and knocked him off his stool, but Susan also saved Tony’s life. In other words, this is a perfect setup for Tony to begrudgingly fall in love with Susan, who would most likely remain completely unaware of his affections. In fact, this one-off story almost reads like a tester issue for what ways maybe intended to be a series; maybe in the weekly Mandy comic. Not quite terrible, but not fantastic either.

Mandy Annual 2004

Picture Stories

  • Penny’s Place (Pages: 5-10, 65-69) [Art: Peter Wilkes]
  • Angel (Pages: 27-32) [Art: Dudley Wynne]
    • Reprinted from Mandy Annual 1994
  • Lost in the Mist (Pages: 36-38) [Art: J. Badia]
  • Lonely! (Pages: 57-62) [Art: Eduardo Feito]
  • The Lucky Locket (Pages: 85-93) [Art: Guy Peeters]
    • Reprinted from Mandy Annual 1992
  • Perfect! (Pages: 113-118) [Art: Veronica Weir]
    • Reprinted from Mandy Annual 1994 (The Perfect Pony)

*Note: Angel is reprinted from Mandy Annual 1994 which was a 3 part story, 1st part is reprinted here and next 2 parts are reprinted in 2005 & 2006 annuals respectively.

Text Stories

  • The Christmas Box (Pages: 24-25) [Art: Susannah Fishbourne]
  • Bullies! – a reader’s story (Pages: 52)
  • The Nail Party (Pages: 94-95) [Art: Susannah Fishbourne]

Photo Stories

  • Let’s Pretend! (Pages: 15-19)
  • Beauty and the Beast (Pages: 44-49)
  • The Borrower (Pages: 97-105)
  • I Spy! (Pages: 120-125)

Features

  • Eyes Down! (Pages: 11)
  • In Colour! (Pages: 12-13)
  • Are You Starry-Eyed? (Pages: 14)
  • Let’s Visit…France (Pages: 20-21) [Art: Susannah Fishbourne]
  • Its Christmas (Pages: 22-23)
  • Koala Poster (Pages: 26)
  • Cat Deeley Poster (Pages: 33)
  • Pressies for Pets (Pages: 34-35)
  • Brown Bears (Pages: 39)
  • In Colour! (Pages: 40-41)
  • Let’s Visit…Switzerland (Pages: 42-43) [Art: Susannah Fishbourne]
  • Happy Families? (Pages: 50-51)
  • Giraffes (Pages: 53)
  • Meet the Girls From Byker Grove (Pages: 54-56)
  • Are You a Perfect Star? (Pages: 63)
  • Lion Cub Poster (Pages: 64)
  • Games for a Laugh! (Pages: 70-71)
  • Let’s Visit…Spain (Pages: 72-73) [Art: Susannah Fishbourne]
  • Kangaroos (Pages: 74)
  • Class Act! (Pages: 75-77)
  • Work it Out! (Pages: 78-79)
  • Lost for Words? (Pages: 80-81)
  • In Colour! (Pages: 82-83)
  • Seal (Pages: 84)
  • Who’s Your Perfect Pal? (Pages: 96)
  • In Colour! (Pages: 106-107)
  • Your Year! (Pages: 108)
  • Puzzled? (Pages: 109)
  • Let’s Visit…The British Isles (Pages: 110-111) [Art: Susannah Fishbourne]
  • Liberty X Poster (Pages: 112)
  • Puzzle Answers (Pages: 119)

(Click on thumbnails for bigger pictures)

“I Must Find My Mum” / “I’ll Find My Mum”

  • “I Must Find My Mum” – Bunty Picture Story Library #237  (1983)
  • Reprinted as “I’ll Find My Mum” –   Bunty Picture Story Library #402  (1995)
  • Partial reworking of text story Cinderella of the Orphanage
  • Artist:  J. Badesa

Plot

I'll find my mumIn the text story “Cinderella of the Orphanage”  Cindy Winters (renamed Waters in the psl) has grown up in the Oldbank orphanage, she is a kind-hearted and helpful girl and has a close relationship with Mrs Blake the house mother and Harry Winters the handyman who found her on the orphanage doorstep. Cindy Winters is shown to be a problem solver and helper, it is the last episodes of the text series that revolve around Cindy looking for her mother which is the focus of the picture story library book.

Cindy Waters is upset to hear that Mrs Blake is retiring, but then Mrs Blake tells her she would like to legally adopt her. She says it is Cindy’s choice, but first she must be aware of new information has come to light, that may influence her decision.  The matron has a letter that was left with her as a baby, usually such things would be given  to the child they lave the home but they feel she should have all the information now. Back at the home Cindy is given the letter, Cindy’s mother writes that she can’t look after her now but Mary Blake was kind to her once and she knows she will look after her. She also says she will come back one day to claim her. She also enclosed a photo of four girls but they are in costumes with their faces mostly hidden.

i'll find my mum 2

Cindy goes back to Mrs Blake to ask her what she remembers. Mrs Blake worked at a hostel The Footlight Club in London where young actresses would try and make a name for themselves. Unfortunately it was so long ago and so many girls came and went that she can’t remember any names. Cindy is not deterred though, she will be 16 in a month’s time when the summer holidays start and she wants to use that time to try and find her mother. Although Mrs Blake tells Cindy not to get her hopes up too much as the authorities had no luck in finding her mother. But knowing how determined Cindy is, Blake and Matron arrange for her to stay in Mrs Blake’s cousins guesthouse. At the guesthouse Cindy has a roommate Janet Draper, an art student, whom she soon makes friends with.

Cindy starts her investigation the next morning, first she goes to the photographers where the photo was taken, but finds it is now a coffee shop. Next she tries the Footlight Club, she has more luck there, as she is directed to Old Nellie who used to be the wardrobe mistress. Cindy shows Nellie the photo and is surprised to find Nellie has a copy of the photo herself. She was given it by one of the girls’,  Nancy Stevens, although she doesn’t remember the other three girls. Nancy went on to become quite famous and changed her name to Felicity Oldbank. Cindy thinks it can’t be a coincidence that the stage name she chose is the same as the Children’s home. Felicity is appearing in a musical nearby so Cindy has a chance to meet her. Felicity is moved by Cindy’s story but she is not her mother, she was in fact raised in the Oldbank home too, which is why she chose the name. Looking at the photo, she remembers it was taken after an audition. Two girls didn’t get the part but herself and another girl Connie did. Connie settled down and married soon after the play, so Cindy is disappointed that she is unlikely to be her mother. But Felicity tells her not to lose hope as Connie may remember the other two girls in the photo.

i'll find my mum 3

When Cindy meets Connie she is able to give her the names of  the other girls, Clarice Hastings, and Diana Thorpe who sadly died in an aircrash years ago. She has not been in contact with Clarice but she remembers, the photographer was a family friend of Clarice. Before going back to London  Cindy promises to call into Janet’s father who lives close by. Connie knows the Drapers and tells Cindy, about how Janet’s mother was killed in a car crash that also left her father paralyzed. Janet was mostly raised by Miss Barnes, Mr Draper’s nurse. When she visits Mr Draper, Cindy is surprised that a sunny girl like Janet could come from such a miserable place. Mr Draper sounds like a spoilt child and Miss Barnes seems cold and clearly had been crying before she arrived. Just as she is leaving she is surprised as Miss Barnes kisses her on the cheek and says to pass it to Janet.

i'll find my mum 4

The next day in London, Cindy goes to the coffee shop where the photographer studio once was. The owner contacts the lawyer who handled the sale and they are able to track down the Martins. This leads Cindy to Clarice where she explains her story again. She is disappointed that she is not her mother, which only leaves the deceased Diana, but then Clarice tells her that she had seen Diana a couple of years back, very much alive. Cindy tries to go back to Felicity in case Diana is still an actress and she might know her but Felicity has moved on. She seems to be momentarily at a dead end, then Janet receives a letter from Miss Barnes about her father undergoing an operation to help him walk again. Cindy is shocked that the writing is the same as her mother’s letter!

She goes to visit Miss Barnes who embraces Cindy and confesses that she is her mother but she was too afraid and ashamed to say anything last time in case Cindy rejected her. She tells her story; that she had not been on the ill fated flight because she had an accident on the way to the airport. Hurting her leg, she knew she wouldn’t be able to dance again so she decided to train as a nurse. It was then she met Cindy’s father, a medical student and married him. Tragedy struck, as just before Cindy was born he was killed in a car crash. In shock and with little money, Diana had decided to give up Cindy, just while she finished her nursing training, she planned to come back for her when she had more money. Miss Barnes took the job with Mr Draper because of the good money but she did not reckon on how demanding an possessive he was. She felt sorry for him and that she couldn’t leave him.

I'll find my mum 5

Now things have changed with Mr Draper having a successful operation and Janet moving to an art studio back home she finally she feels she can leave. She gets a job at the Oldbank home and her and Cindy move in with Mrs Blake at her insistence.

 

Thoughts

Stories were often reprinted or updated, text stories turned to picture stories, and in a case like this sometimes they were shortened into one complete picture story library book.  Another time I can think of this happening is Bunty story Captain Shirley. In Cinderella of the Orphanage,  like I mentioned it starts with stories about Cindy’s time helping out in the orphanagethe plot of Cindy looking for her mother takes  place in Bunty #167-173 (this is only a small part of the story as Cinderella of the Orphanage started in #157). They do well taking the core mystery as the story  and the picture story library does not feel incomplete for missing out on the rest of the text story.

“I’ll Find My Mum” has an interesting mystery with only a photo as a clue to where her mother might be. Of course typically she ends up tracking the three other women before the final woman being revealed as her mother. It wouldn’t be quite so tense if the first woman she fond was her mother.  Also introducing the plot that Diana is supposedly dead means the readers put their hope on Clarice being the mother if Cindy is going to have a happy ending to her search. It’s a good way of keeping things more emotional and readers invested. Of course the reveal that Miss Barnes is actually Diana is a surprise and quite an unbelievable coincidence that Cindy would find her through room-mating with Janet! Also it’s hard to make Mr Draper sympathetic when he has been so demanding of Miss Barnes.

While most of story makes it in tact from the text, even little things such as Cindy being a nickname, she was actually baptized Angela Mary, there are some changes. A subplot was dropped about Cindy’s money going missing and she suspects Janet. Also when we are first introduced to Janet they have a longer conversation and a description of her includes: “Cindy felt rather as if a charming tornado had swept through the room“. After this Cindy makes a comment about it not going to dull with Janet around, this line is kept in the psl but it fails to fully represent the frenzied nature of the meeting, so that line now seems a bit out of place.

I'll find my mum 6

Cindy is also a little younger in the text story but the major change comes from time period it is set in. The text story was published in 1961, while it doesn’t make a difference to the majority of the story, it does change the details of Diana Thorpe’s past. The ill-fated air-crash that she managed to avoid was actually a for a troupe going to entertain the soldiers. Seeing air raid victims is what influenced her to be a nurse and Cindy’s father actually died just after the war after catching typhus in the East. While it doesn’t change the core of the story it would give more insight to why Diana would have struggled more with a baby and how she could be more vulnerable after such events. Reading the text story adds this nice details but are not necessary to enjoy the picture story library.

cindy

Deceived! (1995)

Deceived logo

Published: M&J #233 (28 October 1995) – #240 (16 December 1995)

Artist: J. Badesa

Plot

Amy Davis and Diane Carlton are best friends. Amy has a boyfriend called Gary. Diane has always fancied Gary too because she thinks he looks really nice. One day Amy and her family go away for a while because grandmother is ill. Amy asks Diane to deliver a message that she cannot meet Gary for their date that night because of this. Diane goes to tell Gary, while wishing it was a date with him instead. But it’s a dream come true for Diane when Gary offers to take her to the disco in Amy’s place, so as not to waste the tickets. Afterwards, she takes Gary for a treat in return.

Deceived 1

Okay, so that’s innocent and reasonable enough – but then it leads to things that aren’t. Now Gary tells Diane he has gotten to like her and wants to go out with her properly. Diane is horrified because he is currently Amy’s boyfriend, and she does not want to hurt her best friend. But Gary gets around her with that nice smile of his, which she can’t say “no” to. She agrees to it, so long as Amy never gets hurt. Gary says Amy won’t get hurt because he will not dump her so he can go out with Diane freely; rather, he will carry on with Amy to keep her happy. In other words, he will two-time Amy by going out with her best friend behind her back. Diane knows it’s wrong, but she can’t help herself because “Gary’s just so nice!” (hmm, would a really nice boy suggest a thing like that?).

So while Amy is away, Diane goes out with Gary. Predictably, she gets herself more and more entangled in a horrible two-timing trap and webs of deceit and dishonesty towards her best friend. She cannot escape her guilty conscience, and there are constant reminders about the wrongs of what she is doing. For example, Diane finds an old toy that was a present from Amy for her 10th birthday, and it was at that time that they swore to remain best friends forever. This makes Diane feel so guilty that she stands Gary up. Diane’s sister Marcie also gives her a hard time when she finds out (their parents don’t know).

And of course there is the constant fear of being found out; she knows Amy would never forgive her. Marcie knows and makes her disapproval clear, but she does not sneak. However, Diane has several close calls when seen with Gary, but fortunately for her she can explain them away.

Deceived 2

However, stopping it is not easy. Several times Diane resolves to stop seeing Gary because it isn’t right while he is Amy’s boyfriend. But Gary always sweet talks her into continuing. Or something else occurs that stops Diane from speaking to Gary. Eventually, Gary suggests another way out of the mess: he will dump Amy and then he and Diane go out freely once Amy gets over it.

Then Amy returns early, and all of a sudden Gary says he cannot dump her. Amy is grieving because her grandmother died, and Diane assumes this is the reason Gary refused to dump Amy.

Deceived 3

Amy goes away again, for the funeral. Diane resolves that this time she will not go out with Gary until he has finished with Amy. But Gary works his way around Diane again; she agrees to go out with him while Amy is absent, and he will finish with Amy upon her return so they can date freely.

However, while Diane is at Gary’s house, Amy phones him. Gary gets rid of her quickly, but Diane gets pangs of guilt and leaves, and decides not to go out with him again while Amy is away. But then Amy phones Diane, saying she suspects that Gary is two-timing her after she phoned him earlier. She asks Diane to keep an eye on Gary. So Diane decides she might as well carry on with Gary after all. She also informs Gary of what Amy suspects and instructed her to do.

Deceived 4

Gary now dumps Amy. She is devastated of course, and she suspects it is because he is seeing another girl. Gary is now a free man, but Diane tells him to allow some time before they start dating freely. But she can’t resist phoning him, and he agrees to meet her in the coffee bar after seeing his mates.

Next day, Amy tells Diane that she saw Gary with another girl last night. Thinking Amy means her and Gary, Diane panics and blurts out an apology over what she did – which reveals her transgression! But it was not Diane that Amy saw with Gary – it was Tracey in the bowling alley, when Gary was seeing his ‘mates’. Diane now realises Gary has two-timed her as well!

But this does not make Amy forgive Diane. No, they are not “in the same boat” – Diane (and Tracey) had only been deceived by Gary; she, Amy, had been deceived by them both. Ah, so Diane could not help herself because Gary was so nice? It doesn’t sound like she tried. Diane loses her best friend forever, and knows she only has herself to blame.

Thoughts

There must have been a lot of readers wincing when they read this story; so many of them would have encountered a similar situation one way or other, or read about one in an agony aunt column or real-life story in a teen magazine. I myself once read a real-life story in a magazine where the correspondent did exactly the same thing as Diane and ended up the same way. Readers must have been screaming at Diane not to date her best friend’s boyfriend and, once things got sticky for Diane, to get the hell out of there before it’s too late. No doubt they would have followed the story in the hope that Diane would see the light and stop what she is doing in the nick of time.

Deceived 5

From the start there are warning signs about Gary. To begin with, asking Diane to go out with him while he is already going out with her best friend is despicable. He does not express any guilt over it either, nor does he respect Diane’s bad feelings about going through with it. That nice smile and smooth talk of his that keep getting around Diane are ominous signs of a master manipulator. Diane thinks he is so nice, but does not stop to think that a really nice boy would never do a thing like that to his girlfriend. It does not help that she has always fancied Gary herself; no doubt it would have been a factor in her not trying hard enough to say no to Gary. It is no surprise at all that Gary two-times Diane as well; all the red flags have been there that Gary is a creep and a love rat in the making. He probably makes a regular habit of stringing several girls along at once.

Deceived 6

The ending is strong and realistic. There are no deux ex machina resolutions that extricate Diane from the whole ghastly mess she has gotten herself into without losing Amy’s friendship and give her a happy ending to her story. It could have ended with Diane finding out about the two-timing herself, chucking Gary, and she carries on with Amy. It could have ended with Diane finally putting her foot down with Gary. Or it could have ended with Diane falling for another boy and dumping Gary to go out with him instead. But it does nothing of the sort.

Diane does not get away with it, nor does she receive the glib forgiveness that so many serials have ended with. Nor does she get out of the situation with her friend never finding out and they carry on being best friends. No, the friend finds out and is so hurt and betrayed that she never wants to see her again – just as it would have been (and is) in real life. This is what makes the story so effective, and a sterling warning to any readers who might be tempted to go out with their best friend’s boyfriend.

It’s a Dog’s Life

Plot:

When Lisa Thornley’s family are forced to move into a flat, she cannot take her dog Sandy because of the rules. Lisa cannot find a home for Sandy except with Vera Gibson, a nasty unpopular girl at school. Vera then starts using Sandy to blackmail Lisa by threatening to put him in the dogs’ home.

Dog.jpg

Notes:

  • Artist: J. Badesa  (Jordi Badesa)

Appeared:

  • It’s a Dog’s Life – M&J: #300 (8 February 1997) – #307 (29 March 1997)

 

Cinderella of the Orphanage

Plot:

Cindy Winters has grown up in Oldbank Orphanage, when  she is old enough she is given the letter and a photograph that her mother left with her as a baby. The photo is of 4 young girls in costumes and this is the starting point for Cindy to try and track down her mother.

cindrella of orphanage

Notes:

  • Text Story
  • Later the story was adapted into picture story for Bunty Picture Story Library  Book “I Must Find My Mum”
  • “I Must Find My Mum” (PSL) –  Art: J. Badesa

Appeared:

  • Cinderella of the Orphanage–  Bunty: #157 (14 January 1961) – #173 (06 May 1961)
  • Adapted into PSL “I Must Find My Mum” – Bunty Picture Story Library #237
  • Reprinted as “I’ll Find My Mum” –  Bunty Picture Story Library #402

 Other Appearances:

  • Cinderella of the Orphanage –  Bunty Annual 1961

It’s in the Book!

  • It’s in the Book! – Bunty PSL: #336 (1991)
  • Artist:  J. Badesa

Plot

Sally Barton is a bookworm but her parents believe she should be out meeting new people and getting fresh air, so they sign her up for an adventure holiday on an American island. There are 7 girls signed up and their holiday leader is Miss Tuffnell. For no sensible reason (other than to serve the plot), Miss Tuffnell sails on in a powerboat leaving the girls by themselves following  in a motor boat. Fog splits the girls up from Miss Tuffnell and the end up drifting of course and landing on an uninhabited island. Janice a regular holiday adventurer and a bossy girl decides to take charge but it is Sally with all her book knowledge that is the better equipped to handle the situation.

After Janice leads them to the other side of the island where there is little food and only cliffs, Janice overhears Sally telling Liz they would be better off on the beach where they can fish and have better chance of being seen. Janice decides to present this idea to the rest of the girls as if it was hers. On their way back they run into a swamp with a crocodile but luckily get safely back to the beach. Janice does not like that Sally is taking control of things. While looking for firewood Janice sees she is being watched by some unidentified animal and runs back to camp. The situation starts taking its toll on her, Janice seems defeated and stops giving the orders. Sally and Liz discover Janice’s mysterious animal was a lost dog. The dog comes in handy when a storm washes away their supplies and he finds them again.  Also he leads his owners back to help the girls. Sally and the girls get home safely and promise to stay friends and keep in contact.

Thoughts

This isn’t the most original story, a bunch of people being stranded on an island has been told often enough, but it is still a good adventure story. Visually the island is interesting and well represented, from the swamps and dense forests to the open beaches and cliffs. There are no mysterious smoke monsters, just the normal hazards of islands like animals, storms and  poisonous food. While the girls do not crash on the island the boat does get swept away onto the rocks, which serves putting them in a difficult situation without dealing with injuries on top of it.

There are 7 characters and while visually distinctive most of them don’t have a lot to do. Of course the focus is on both Sally and Janice. Liz as Sally’s close friend gets to be supportive of her and put down Janice when needed. One other girl Eunice seems to have the trait of making things worse by scaring the other girls.

The other girls seem to be there just to complain or switch allegiances from Janice and Sally and follow who ever is favourable at the moment, like sheep. It is a short book so I supose can’t expect everyone to form distinct personalities. Both Janice and Sally get time to develop. Janice actually gets the most development. She goes from being bossy, arrogant and jealous to scared and unsure. She gets back to taking charge again but it is more driven by fear after the dog runs off and she forms a group to follow him. While bossy and jealous she is never shown to be nasty and softens up a lot by the end. Sally throughout maintains her practical and level headed attitude. She does gain friends that will take some of her time from reading and she is happier about the holiday than she was in the beginning but overall she stays the same. It is nice to see the bookworm triumph!

I do find Sally’s parents attitude quite funny. When they send her on holiday, I get that they want to her to socialise and exercise and such, but you wouldn’t think having a daughter that likes to read would be such a problem.

I don’t think reading too much is something that needs to be cured, it’s not something I want to be cured of anyway!

 

“Nobody Knows My Face!”

  • “Nobody Knows My Face!” – Mandy PSL: #143 (1990)
  • Artist:  J. Badesa.

Plot

Millie Mason is a budding actress with dreams of becoming a star. It seems she’s on her way to fame when she gets spotted by an agent, Eddie Tanner. Unfortunately every role she gets cast in she ends up in a costume, mask or in the shadows, so nobody sees what she looks like. Her agent  also thinks keeping the mystery of what she looks like will make her an even bigger star, with a big reveal.  Millie finally gets sick of being unknown and threatens to quit if  she can’t appear as herself., for her next interview. Eddie agrees and Millie is delighted. Only on the day of the big reveal she ends up getting mumps and is all bandaged up anyway!

Thoughts

Firstly, yes that is Dennis the Menace on the cover. Of course Mandy and Beano were both published by D.C. Thomson, it was quite common for the comics the reference another comic, sometimes characters would even be seen reading the comic they were part of! ! In this instance Millie’s first job is appearing as Dennis the Menace for a grand opening.

Millie then  gets her big TV break, doing a series of commercials. As Jane the Germ Killer, she gets interviews and fame and when her contract is finished in a year there will be a big reveal of who she is.  Apperently Jane the Germ Killer is a big hit.  I know some advertisements have been a staring path for big careers (like Brad Pitt or Leonardo DiCaprio) but I don’t remember them getting TV interviews for just staring in the ad! Then during a public appearance as Jane, Millie is kidnapped.  The kidnappers threaten to publicly unmask her if they don’t get paid. At first Millie is scared but she also thinks of the benefits i.e. that people will finally know who she is! She is disappointed to find out it is all a big publicity stunt by the agency.  Apparently they  didn’t tell her about the stunt because  they wanted her reactions to be realistic. Which is bad enough  but once they got her to the safe house, that may have been a good time to explain everything. But no, instead they tie her up and leave her wondering what is going to happen until some nice agency guy decides to turn up later. It just makes an unethical situation even worse

 

Even Millie sees how terribly wrong this is and wants out. She lets them know they can’t sue her for breaking her contract without her letting everyone know about the publicity stunt. The agency agrees but only on the condition that she never reveals she played the character. They are going to replace her with another actress and pretend she was always the one. Yep thats showbiz for you!

So Millie’s back to square one, and she can’t even use her television experience on her resume. She does gets another chance when she stars in a TV mini series. Unfortunetely her face is hidden in shadows. This trend of masks and shadows continues, until she decides she has had enough and quits. Eddie convinces her to come back to the business after he gets his writer friend to write a script based on the idea of “The Girl with a Thousand Faces”. Using a similar idea to the Jane the germ killer ad campaign, they are also going to build up the idea of the mystery girl but this time he promises she will get her big reveal at the end.

Really I couldn’t see this concept work today, people would track down Millie Mason no bother, on IMDB/Wikipedia or some social networking site.  Actually I find it difficult to believe even in pre-web/social networking  days, that not one reporter didn’t track her down! Eventually Millie gets her big moment to finally show her face….only to end up in hospital with the mumps.

This story has some unrealistic setups, particularly the kidnapping plot, but the story isn’t one to take it too seriously either. Millie could have come off as a very unlikeable character,  a girl that seems to be in the acting business not for the roles but to become famous. Yes she does come across a fame hungry at times but as its played mostly for laughs, she isn’t a terrible character. You don’t wish for her downfall. You sympathise with her frustration, but can also see the humour in the situation.  The big joke of all this build up only for her to be covered in bandages for her unveiling, is played with a kind of; roll of  the eyes “typical”  rather than as a devastating blow.

Mum Can’t Cope!

Plot

When Gail Benson’s father left home, her mother went to pieces. Afraid the family might be split up, Gail had decided to take charge of things, while keeping up a pretence to the outside world that her mother was coping.

mum-cant-cope

Notes

  • Artist: J. Badesa

Appeared

  • Mum Can’t Cope! – M&J: #215 (24 June 1995) – #223 (19 August 1995)