Review of the Picture Stories in the Bunty for Girls 1999 Annual (Part 2)

(You can read Part 1 here)

Here is what I think of the other picture stories in the Bunty for Girls 1999 annual (WARNING: Contains spoilers): 

The Comp (pp. 77 – 81)

Artist: Peter Wilkes

In this second instalment of The Comp in this annual, the pupils of Redvale Comprehensive School enter a float for the local Torchlit Winter Carnival. Laura draws up a design of a pirate ship with a parrot and her idea is chosen for the school’s float. Miss Grimstyle advises everyone that their float idea must be kept a secret. During the construction of the float, the Redvale pupils suspect that some pupils from St. Angela’s Girls’ School are listening in on them about their float idea. The St. Angela’s pupils tell the Redvale snobs, Pippa and Morag, that they will pay them £5.00 each if they tell them what the float is going to be. When Pippa and Morag enter the shed where the float is being built, they turn on the faulty light where its sparks cause the float to catch fire. This leads Pippa and Morag to tell the St. Angela’s girls that Redvale Comp will no longer be entering the float, but the St. Angela’s girls refuse to pay them because they heard about the fire on the news. Despite the pirate ship burning down, Laura realises that she and her fellow pupils still have the parrot, so they turn it into a phoenix rising from the ashes for their final float idea. The Redvale Comp pupils win the float competition and the St. Angela’s girls push Pippa and Morag into the fountain for lying to them about the float.

With the first The Comp story mostly taking place outside the school, I like how this one took place both at the school and outside the school. It was clever of the Redvale Comp pupils to turn their parrot into a phoenix rising from the ashes after their pirate ship burnt down while Pippa and Morag get what they deserve at the end.

Girls Talking (page 84) 

Artist unknown 

Girls Talking is another humour strip that appeared in Bunty in the 1990s, although like The Comp, it originally appeared in Nikki as Girl Talk in the 1980s. The earlier Girl Talk strips in Nikki featured two girls named Sally and Tracey. Later on, Sally and Tracey were replaced with Lucy and Liz. In Bunty, each strip is only two panels long. 

In the first strip, Lucy and Liz are having a snowball fight. They think it’s fun until a snowball goes down the back of Liz’s neck.

In the second strip, Liz is not impressed with a hat and scarf that she received from Lucy’s Aunt Millie. Meanwhile, Lucy is very pleased with the hat and scarf from her aunt.

The first panel of the third strip is only an explosion, but the second panel reveals that Liz and Lucy had pulled a mega cracker. 

Upon rereading this annual in 2011, I thought the strips made up one complete story until I realised that each strip is totally separate. Despite this, I still think it’s clever that only two panels are used to convey a joke.

Penny’s Place (pp. 91 – 95)

Artist: Guy Peeters

Penny’s Place is another soap-type picture story that appeared in Bunty. Before then, it appeared in Mandy & Judy (later renamed M&J), the merger of two other girls’ comics. In Penny’s Place, Penny Jordan’s parents run the titular café in the fictional town of Chesterford.

In this instalment in the annual, Penny and her friends except Donna (who is much worse off compared to her friends) go on a coach trip to the Lakeland Shopping Centre. The trip is not a success because Penny and her friends miss the first coach due to Arlene’s lateness, the next coach has faulty brakes and they only have two hours at Lakeland after the replacement coach. While Penny and her friends are out, Donna offers to help out at the café as it gets busier in the run-up to Christmas. When Penny tells her dad what had happened, he offers to take her and her friends to London to see the Christmas lights and go shopping, including Donna who now has enough money due to the tips and wages she has earned for helping out at the café. 

Even though things went awry during the trip, I like how things work out well in the end what with Penny’s dad taking her and her friends to London and Donna being able to afford going there.

Bugsy (p. 96)

Artist unknown

Like Girls Talking, Bugsy is yet another humour strip that appeared in Bunty comics and annuals in the 1990s. It is believed to be the only other Bunty humour strip where its protagonist is male after the earlier Haggis that revolved around the misadventures of the titular Scottie dog. 

In this instalment of Bugsy, the construction bug tells Bugsy that he needs to do urgent repairs to his chimney. This frustrates Bugsy because he doesn’t know how Santa Bug is going to go down his chimney until the chute above the skip gives him an idea. On Christmas Eve, Santa Bug goes down the chute as Bugsy sleeps.

Although Bugsy was not the most memorable character for me upon revisiting this annual in 2011, I still thought this was an amusing and intelligent strip.

Lizzie’s New Life (pp. 100 – 107)

Artist: Don Walker

In 1850, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Smith lives in a small cottage on the Springwood Family Estate with her widowed mother, her sister, Ellen, and her brothers, Jack and Tommy. The new squire, Sir Robert, and his wife, Lady Anne, move into Spingwood Hall with their stuck-up niece, Clarissa. The Smiths receive the bad news that they have a week to move out of their cottage because the workers need it and the other cottages to expand the estate farm. Lizzie goes to plead with Sir Robert about her family being able to stay in their cottage for longer. In 1848, Sir Robert and Lady Anne lost their only daughter and they decide to take Lizzie in as their own in order to allow her family to stay at their cottage. Adjusting to life with Sir Robert, Lady Anne, Clarissa and the servants proves difficult for Lizzie, especially when her mother falls ill. On Christmas Day, Clarissa falls in the icy water from her pony and she also falls seriously ill. Clarissa is remorseful for mistreating Lizzie if she saved her life. In order for Clarissa to fully recover, Sir Robert and Lady Anne decide to sell their house and estate to move to a warmer country, but this prompts Lizzie to return to her own family where she truly belongs.

Don Walker’s artwork captures the 19th century perfectly while this is a touching and memorable story. 

Pretend Friends (pp. 111 – 116)

Artist unknown 

Narrated by Stacey Barratt, this is another romance story where Stacey’s friends try to pair her off with a boy, but she doesn’t want a boyfriend. Her classmate, Robin Fletcher, has a similar problem where his friends try to pair him off with a girl when he doesn’t want a girlfriend. He then suggests that he and Stacey pretend to go out so that their friends won’t pair them off with anyone else. During the pretence, Stacey and Robin actually end up falling for each other. At the end, Stacey and Robin become girlfriend and boyfriend for real. 

Robin’s idea of him and Stacey pretending to go out with each other is clever. It’s good that they decide to become an official couple at the end.

The Four Marys (pp. 121 – 125)

Artist: Jim Eldridge

In this second instalment of The Four Marys, there is a competition to design a Christmas card and the star prize is a trip to Disneyland Paris. Fieldy, Raddy and Simpy want Cotty to win because she is good at art, but Cotty wants Carol Brent to win instead because her family are struggling to keep her at St. Elmo’s. In a local shop, Carol overhears a young boy named Tim saying he won’t have any money for his bus fare if he buys his mum a Christmas present. Carol then drops some of her own money beside him despite hardly having any herself and pretends he dropped it because “anything can happen at Christmas.” Cotty enters the Christmas card competition with a design of the exterior of St. Elmo’s while Carol enters it with a design of a family. Cotty notices that the girl in Carol’s design looks glum. Late at night, Cotty makes her own design look more dull while she changes the expression of the girl in Carol’s design. The next day, Carol wins the competition and she is hesitant to accept the prize if her design has changed, but Cotty reminds her that it was like ‘Tim dropping money’ for his bus fare and once again, “anything can happen at Christmas.” 

Again I could hardly remember this instalment upon revisiting the annual in 2011, but both Carol and Cotty were very generous in their own ways in this story.

Final Verdict 

There is a fine selection of picture stories in the Bunty for Girls 1999 annual. My particular favourites are both instalments of The Comp, both instalments of The Four Marys, Fear of the Future, Who’s Next Door?, Prefect’s Pet, Penny’s Place and Lizzie’s New Life. Even though Love Thy Neighbour and Pretend Friends focus solely on boyfriend and girlfriend relationships like a lot of stories in Bunty did at the time the annual was published, they were still pretty decent. The Bunty – A Girl Like You, Girls Talking and Bugsy strips were definitely worthwhile contrasts to the more serious picture stories.

Disclaimers: This is not a sponsored blog post. All opinions expressed are my own.

The images used in this blog post belong to D.C. Thomson & Co., Ltd., although I have made my own scans of them. 

Links to other Bunty for Girls 1999 annual blog posts

Photo stories:

Text stories:

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