Not only did Bunty include picture stories in its comics, annuals and summer specials, but these publications also included photo stories in their later years.
The first known photo story to appear in a Bunty publication was Hector’s Holiday in the 1983 Summer Special. Photo stories then began to appear in the annuals starting with The Gift in the 1985 annual. In October 1989 when the weekly comic had a complete makeover where it was printed on glossy paper and was made bigger, a complete colour photo story called True Colours appeared. This was then succeeded by Luv, Lisa, a regular photo story serial where the protagonist, Lisa Codd, writes in her diary about situations she has been in with her family and friends. Luv, Lisa continued in the weekly comic until 1996 when several one-off photo story serials took over (although they previously appeared in Bunty when Luv, Lisa took a break) and it appeared in the annuals from the 1993 one to the 1997 one.
There are five photo stories in the Bunty for Girls 1999 annual. Here’s what I thought of each one (WARNING: contains spoilers):
Computer Crazy (pp. 11 – 15)
This is the first Bunty photo story I have ever read. Amy is the only one in her group of friends who doesn’t have a boyfriend. One day when she is out shopping, she bumps into Gary Holmes, who Emma was crazy on before she met Ant. Gary invites Amy over to his house to play a new adventure computer game. When Amy tells her friends that she is now going out with Gary, they are amazed. Although Amy likes having a boyfriend, she sometimes gets bored of playing computer games with him. Rachel invites Amy and Gary to a party but he can’t come because he has bought tickets for himself and Amy to a big games exhibition that will take place on the same day. Amy furiously dumps Gary for being so selfish. When Claire bumps into Amy, Amy tells her that she packed Gary in. Claire has also finished with Mark, so she and Amy have a Coke in the café to celebrate the end of their relationships. Claire and Amy realise that they don’t need boyfriends to have a good time and they raise a toast to girl power.
While the names of Emma and Rachel’s boyfriends appear to be mixed up, this is one of my favourite photo stories in the annual. This story also makes me glad that I’m single.
Gabby’s Own Goal (pp. 34 – 39)
The only thing that Gabby Palmer hates more than her younger brother, Ben, is football. Ben is accepted into the junior football club that the father of Zac Simpson, the boy who Gabby has a crush on, coaches. When Gabby hears that Zac is helping out at the club, she offers to take Ben there on the coming Saturday because Mrs Palmer works on Saturdays. Gabby also begins to brush up on her football knowledge in order to impress Zac. After Gabby’s first visit to the football club, Zac takes her out to see a football film at the cinema. The pair are soon an item but a few days later, Zac visits Gabby to tell her that it’s time for them to split up. Gabby is surprised with Zac’s decision, but Zac reveals that he was only helping out at the football club while his football-crazy sister, Liz, was away and he actually hates football. Gabby scores her own goal of wishing she had been herself by not pretending to love football in an attempt to impress Zac.
Even though I’m not a big fan of football or sport in general, I still enjoyed this story and its moral that teaches readers to be themselves.
Sammi’s Stars (pp. 60 – 63)
One evening when Sammi Farrow has her friends over at her house, Emma reads Sammi’s horoscope that says an older boy will bring romance on Saturday. Sammi does not believe that she will meet an older boy because she thinks horoscopes are rubbish. Her friends keep going on at her about the horoscope and how Saturday will be her lucky day, but she is not amused. Because Sammi doesn’t want to go to the disco on Saturday in case her friends watch her to see if she meets an older boy, her brother takes her to the drama club instead. At the drama club, an older boy named Mark introduces himself to Sammi. After the rehearsal, Mark asks Sammi out, much to her astonishment. Now that Sammi realises Saturday was a lucky day for her after all, she decides to always read her horoscope from this moment on.
This is my least favourite photo story in the annual because I found it rather unsubstantial for four pages long. The story appears to be outdated because in the first three photo panels, a Spice Girls poster from when Geri was still in the group is visible and she left the group the same year the annual was published. Sammi’s friends only appear in the first half of the story while her siblings only appear in the second half. In spite of the flaws, the story has made me realise how I feel about horoscopes myself. Sometimes I believe them, sometimes I don’t. This is especially true for the personality traits of my own sign, Taurus.
Christmas Past (pp. 85 – 90)
Maxine’s parents take over a toy shop. She helps them out there over the Christmas holidays. Maxine’s mum spots a mysterious young girl in an old-fashioned dress who is always coming into the shop and tells Maxine to keep an eye on her. The mysterious young girl also vanishes in thin air sometimes, appears to be unhappy and seems to be scared of things she has not seen before such as a Nintendo 64 computer games console. Maxine offers to go to the wholesaler with her parents. Even though Maxine’s parents are keen on getting more high-tech stuff in the shop, she urges them to take a doll to the shop to see if it will cheer up the mysterious young girl. Back in the shop, Maxine places the doll on the shelf, the mysterious young girl reappears, happily takes the doll and disappears along with it. Maxine’s mum shows Maxine a feature about the shop in the local newspaper. The feature says that the shop was built on the site of a large house that was destroyed in a fire over a hundred years ago. Upon looking at the photograph of the family who lived in the house, Maxine recognises the youngest daughter and wonders if the mysterious young girl who kept coming in the shop was actually her ghost.
Alongside Computer Crazy, this is probably my other favourite photo story in the annual. While the story is spooky in parts, I liked spotting things that I remembered from my youth in the 1990s such as the original Sony PlayStation (my brother had one) and Get Set! craft kits.
No Christmas for Carol (pp. 117 – 120)
Carol Singer (yes, this is legitimately her name!) and her friend, Holly Evans, both hate Christmas because of their names. Holly also despises Christmas because her birthday is on Christmas Eve. Carol is not keen on her family sing-along at Christmas time. On the Christmas Eve in this story however, Carol does not know where her parents are taking her until they arrive at a local hall. A surprise birthday party without a trace of Christmas is being held for Holly in the hall. As Holly is told to make a wish whilst blowing out the candles on her birthday cake, she thinks her wish of having a proper birthday party has come true already. Even though Carol thinks she can forget about Christmas for one night, she can actually enjoy it for once the next day.
Although this story is only four pages long, I found it a lot more substantial than Sammi’s Stars. This photo story is also one of the most memorable ones for me from when I first read the annual.
While three of the photo stories are romance-themed, the other two are predominantly Christmas-themed (although Christmas is briefly mentioned in Computer Crazy). My favourite photo stories are a toss-up between Computer Crazy and Christmas Past while my least favourite is definitely Sammi’s Stars. Despite the photo stories only being based on two major themes altogether, I still think there is a decent selection of them for my first girls’ comic annual.
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 my other Bunty for Girls 1999 annual blog posts