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Briony is our star writer, if it happened in Tammy then Briony knows about it!

The Cinderella-based theme was immensely popular in Tammy during the 1970's, but seemed to have declined by the 1980s. I cannot recall any Tammy stories with this theme from the 1980s.

The theme is as follows: The heroine lives a miserable life with nasty parents, relatives, guardians or employers. She usually has a special talent or secret which could be her ticket to a better life. However, the guardian keeps interfering, or exploiting her talent, or both. Here are some of the stories:

Common Cathy
Sadie in the Sticks,
The Stables Slave
Derry the Dowser
No Love for Liza
The Champion from Nowhere
Tess on Tap
Nell Nobody
Trina Drop-Out
Jumble-Sale Jilly

And the most important one in all of Tammy history: "Bella at the Bar."

Bella Barlow lives with her lazy, greedy, slave-driving Uncle Jed and Aunt Gert. Bella slaves at both her uncle's window-cleaning business and doing the housework. Bella's only joy is her passion for gymnastics, and she has the makings of an Olympic champion. Bella is determined that her uncle, aunt, or anyone else will not stop her from being a success. And what success!

Bella was so popular that she went on to hold a joint record with Molly Mills for Tammy's longest-running character - 10 years each!

And did Bella make it to the Olympics? Only once, at the Montreal Games in 1976.

Bella is perhaps the character with the richest Tammy history. Over the years she has coped with exploitation, blackmail, jealous rivals, injuries, getting stranded in foreign countries, bad jobs, being falsely accused of crimes, imprisonment, and the rarer spells of good fortune which never seemed to last long. The abrupt disappearance of Tammy left Bella learning an acrobatic form of gymnastics, with a nasty coach (another Bella staple).

Molly Mills hold a joint record with Bella Barlow as longest-running Tammy character. Both characters hold a joint record of 10 years. Molly Mills ran from the very first issue in 1971 up until the merge with Jinty in 1981. Originally called "No Tears for Molly," the strip eventually ran under individually titled stories.

Set in the 1920's, Molly Mills was a school leaver from the East End of London. She goes into domestic service as a maid with Lord Stanton at Stanton Hall in Devonshire, and serves him faithfully for 10 years. Molly is never short of work, yet she still finds time to become embroiled in the adventures and mysteries that make up the staple of her 10-year run. Over the years Molly has dealt thugs who take over the hall, fraudulent "ghosts," problem servants, people who are in desperate trouble, saving a horse from the knacker's yard, and going on the run from the law after being wrongly accused of stealing.

The regular villains of the piece were the maids Betty and Kitty, and Pickering the butler. Betty and Kitty were always out to find a dodge out of work, and playing cruel jokes on Molly. As if that wasn't bad enough, Pickering was a sadistic, slave-driving butler who always had his knife into Molly. Pickering frequently overworked Molly (and then daring to call her lazy!) and looking for ways to get her sacked. How could Molly bear life at Stanton Hall with such bullies? Well, she could always count on her friends - Charlie the boot boy, the wonderful Cook and Lord Stanton's daughter Clare.

In the early years, Molly Mills was excessively violent for a girls' strip. Not content with mere bullying, Pickering frequently slapped and beats Molly with a cane. Even the good-natured Cook was not above taking a swipe to a thug with her rolling pin if they pushed her too far.

There were even scenes of explicit torture. In one story, thugs blackmail Pickering into allowing them free run of the hall. The thugs clamp Molly, Charlie and Cook in the stocks and turn water hoses on them. Pickering was not above torture himself. In one story he overworks an overweight maid while putting her on a starvation diet to slim her down. The maid collapses, of course. In another story, Pickering forces the staff to take cold duckings. But he has pushed them too far. Egged on by the new secretary, they go on strike to get rid of Pickering. However, the strike turns ugly, with stone-throwing.

In later years, the excesses were toned down. Pickering stopped hitting Molly and torturing his staff, but otherwise remained as nasty as ever. Molly's relationship with Betty and Kitty improved slightly, but they never became friends. The artwork also changed around 1978. I don't know the name of the first artist, but the second was Douglas Perry.

Molly's days were numbered by the time of the Jinty merge. She was reduced to an "Old Friends" slot, along with Bessie Bunter, Wee Sue and Tansy of Jubilee Street from Penny (via Jinty). Molly, Bessie, Sue and Tansy were all buried in the same grave with the arrival of the new-look Tammy which followed the Jinty merge. - Briony

(Briony is our resident expert on UK Girls Comics from the 70s, 80s and 90s - 26pigs)

Read more of Briony's memories on the Characters Page and a Tammy merger history in the Bibliography section.

I have enjoyed your website: it has provided a fascinating site, providing lots of information about comics I remember, and, in a few cases, such as 2000AD, or, occasionally The Beano, still enjoy.

I see that you give MISTY a good write up: this was a comic I rather enjoyed: yes it was marketed as a girls comic, but it did have some genuinely interesting stories, one, in particular, with the title MOONCHILD was quite outstanding. Even though it was clearly very influenced by Carrie I have since re-read it in various formats, and it still is an excellent format. Many weekly stories in comics have ‘cliffhanger’ endings, but the end of the penultimate episode of Moonchild was about the best cliffhanger ending I have seen in any comic anywhere! There is now a website dedicated to Misty: one part of it is worth reading:
http://www.mistycomic.co.uk/Lets_Here_It_For_The_Girls.html

This does bring me to one query about girls comics: I was doing some internet research on comics, and found that TAMMY once published a serial HETTY, HORSE HATER. Apparently the eponymous heroine of the story hated horses more than anything else, but somehow either won, or was given a holiday at a riding camp. This rather appealed to my sense of humour: there have been lots (and lots and lots) of girls stories about a girl who loved horses, but the concept of a story of a girl who actually hated horses and was put into an equestrian environment does sound rather like lots of fun. I would imagine that at the end Hetty ended up becoming an accomplished horse rider. Does anybody on the staff know the exact dates that HETTY HORSE HATER ran in TAMMY?

Some comic stories or characters, such as ‘Dennis the Menace’ or ‘Desperate Dan’ are of course well known. Two rather obscure comic features stick in my mind, both from about 1967. These were not comic strips, but coherent stories, exclusively text. TOM ATO (sic) SPECIAL AGENT. Tom Ato or was it Tom Arto? was a secret agent who each week had a rather farfetched mission to accomplish. The stories were always full of excruciating puns, and intentionally corny jokes. I think it was in a comic that a friend of mine used to get, and I would swap my comics for him, so I may have forgotten the title because I did not buy it myself. I also remember a series called HILARIOUS HISTORIES, which was about a CLOTWOLD family. The idea was that there had been a family of people called Clotwold, and every generation had always been near the centre of power. Whenever a king (or queen) was in a sticky situation there was always a Clotwold on hand to give him advice. The trouble was that although every Clotwold thought they were really smart and intelligent, and was full of their own importance, they were really rather dim, and their ideas always rebounded on them with a vengeance. One I do remember was that a Clotwold was an advisor to King John, and caused him to loose the royal treasure in the Wash. (Rather like Blackadder, but without the sarcasm.) I enjoyed it since history was my best subject at school, and although the tales of the Clotwolds were always intentionally humorous, they still fitted in with documented historical events, and could just have happened.

One reason for my writing is that I am now 57, and have a postgraduate degree in history. As such I had been able to obtain a reader’s pass to the British Library. This expired in 2002, but I was going to the British Library this week to renew my pass and do some research in the manuscripts department. But I thought that while I was there I might try looking for a few old comics to see what memories they bring back.

As I say, if anybody does know when HETTY HORSE HATER appeared in TAMMY, and which comics featured TOM ARTO SPECIAL AGENT, or the stories about the CLOTWOLDS I would be delighted to hear from you. All the best - Robert Halliday

Were in hotspur - Annette

 

If you have any other information on Tammy please drop us a line. Drop us a line.

 


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