Tag Archives: soap story

Jane at St Jude’s

Plot

Jane Green and her friends attend St Jude’s school.

 

Notes

  • Photo Story

Appeared

  • Jane at St Jude’s – Debbie: #415 (24 January 1981) – #431 (16 May 1981)
  • Jane at St Jude’s – Debbie: #437 (27 June 1981) – #446 (29 August 1981)
  • Jane at St Jude’s – Debbie: #469 (6 February 1982) – #475 (20 March 1982)
  • Jane at St Jude’s – Debbie: #517 (8 January 1983)

Other Appearances:

  • Jane at St Jude’s – Debbie for Girls 1983
  • Jane at St Jude’s – Debbie for Girls 1984

The Comp

  • The Comp–  Nikki:  #01 (23 February 1985) – #237 (02 September 1989)
  • Nikki –  Bunty: #1650 (26 August 1989)- #1651 (02 September 1989)
  • Nikki at the Comp – Bunty: #1652 (09 September 1989)
  • The Comp– Bunty : #1653 (16 September 1989) – #2243 (06 January 2001)
  • Some stories reprinted and translated to Dutch as Klas 3M” – Peggy #3/1987
  • Writers: Rhoda Miller
  • Main Artists:  Ron Lumsden , Peter Wilkes
  • Occasional Artists: Guy Peeters

Plot

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

The Comp - 1st panel

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

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

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

the comp the end

Thoughts

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

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

the comp changes

the comp letters

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

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

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

comp last nikki

(Above: The Comp – Nikki #237)

comp - bunty 1651

(Above: Nikki – Bunty#1651)

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

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

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

the comp gertie vs marilyn

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

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

the comp different artist

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

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

the comp 100the comp competition

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

Quick Links:

Original Class           Second Class           Staff            List of Appearances

Carly’s Crowd!

Plot:

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

Notes:

  • Spot Art: Peter Wilkes

Appeared:

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

Other Appearances:

  • Carly’s Crowd – Bunty Annual 1998

The King’s Lane Kids

Plot

When King’s Lane a small street in a quiet village was swallowed up by a brand new housing estate, neighbours Charlie Duff and Violet Linden found themselves surrounded by lots of new friends. This soap story follows the lives of Diana, Charlie, Joanne, Carol, Violet and Johnny.

Notes

  • Photo story

Appeared

  • The King’s Lane Kids – Suzy: #01(11 September 1982) – #31 (09 April 1983)

The Randell Road Girls

Plot

Soap like story set in Randell Road Comprehensive School. Life was never dull for the friends; Alice, Bessie, Muriel and Diane. Some of the boys had their share of problems too. In one story Nigel Greene decided to leave home as his mother was driving him around the bend. Meanwhile  Alice Evans has to deal with some trouble at the tennis club she’s hoping to join, after a girl lets everyone know Alice’s father is in jail for fraud.

randell road girls

Notes

  • Photo Story
  • Continued in Mandy after Debbie merges with that comic

Appeared

  • The Randell Road Girls –  Debbie: #448 (12 September 1981) – #518 (15 January 1983) [no episodes in #456 or #457]
  • The Randell Road Girls –  Mandy: #836 (22 January 1983) – (?)

Katy at St. K’s / Sara at St. K’s

Plot:

Follows a group of girls at a boarding school, St. Katherine’s. Firstly new girl Katy joins the school. Later the story returned with a different new girl Sara.

sara at st ks

Notes:

  • Photo Story

Appeared:

  • Katy at St K’s –  Bunty:  #1756 (07 September 1991) – #1761 (12 October 1991)
  • Sara at St  K’s–  Bunty:  #1818 (14 November 1992) – #1823 (19 December 1992)

 

Luv, Lisa

Plot:

Lisa Codd writes about her life and family in her diary. She lives with her parents Andrew and Susan, older brother Neil, older sister Ali and younger brother Martin. They go through many changes during the years, Andrew loses his job at one point, Martin begins a music career, Andrew and Susan separate for a while. Lisa deals with all this plus friend trouble, boys and everyday school life.

luvlisa_B95

Notes:

  • Writer: Linda Stephenson
  • Photographer: Richard Palmer
  • Story Idea: Rhoda Miller
  • Photo story
  • Appeared in two picture story libraries as a drawn character, art by Ron Lumsden
  • Her dog Jeff had a spin off text story Luv, Jeff

Appeared:

  • Luv, Lisa–  Bunty:  #1659 (28 Oct 1989) – #1688 (19 May 1990)
  • Luv, Lisa–  Bunty:  #1694 (30 June 1990) – #1729 (02 March 1991)
  • Luv, Lisa–  Bunty:  #1735 (13 April 1991) – #1755 (31 August 1991)
  • Luv, Lisa–  Bunty:  #1762 (19 October 1991) – #1788 (18 April 1992)
  • Luv, Lisa–  Bunty:  #1794 (30 May  1992) – #1817 (7 November 1992)
  • Luv, Lisa–  Bunty:  #1824 (26 December 1992) – #1839 (10 April 1993)
  • Luv, Lisa–  Bunty:  #1851 (3 July 1993) – #1876 (25 December 1993)
  • Luv, Lisa–  Bunty:  #1892 (16 April 1994) – #1916 (01 October 1994)
  • Luv, Lisa – Bunty:  #1928 (24 December 1994) – #1945 (22 April 1995)
  • Luv, Lisa – Bunty:  #1975 (18 November 1995) – #2031 (14 December 1996)

Other Appearances:

  • Luv, Lisa – Bunty Annual 1993
  • Luv, Lisa – Bunty Annual 1994
  • Luv, Lisa – Bunty Annual 1995
  • Luv, Lisa – Bunty Annual 1996
  • Luv, Lisa – Bunty Annual 1997
  • Luv, Lisa – Bunty Summer Special 1993
  • Luv, Lisa – Bunty Summer Special 1994
  • Luv, Lisa – Bunty Summer Special 1995
  • Luv, Lisa – Bunty Summer Special 1996
  • Luv, Lisa – Bunty Picture Story Library #374
  • Luv, Lisa – Bunty Picture Story Library #399

 

School’s Out!

Plot

Follows the lives, families, romances and friendships of a group of students  including Patti Wheeler, Ellie Lane, Deepa Shastri, and Gladys Bates.

school's out

Notes

  • Artist: Terry Aspin

Appeared

  • School’s Out!–  Bunty: #1553 (17 October 1987) – #1649 (19 August 1989)

Other Appearances

  • School’s Out!–  Bunty Annual 1990
  • The K.O. Kids – Bunty Annual 1991