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EARLY 1958

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The Four Marys - 1959

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"After the daring rescue of Miss Johnson, the hermit, from a treacherous marsh, the Four Marys and the rest of the search party prepared to return to St Elmo's. The quaint old woman was in a dazed condition after her frightening experience."

The Four Marys - 1999

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"The Four Marys, Cotter, Field, Radleigh and Simpson, friends at St Elmo's School for Girls, had discovered that a girl band, B True, who had bought property nearby, were being cheated by the agent, Jed Upton."

The Four Marys & The Comp - Angeline Adams

The Four Marys,who were in the third form of St.Elmos,making them 13 - 14 (also,the visual descriptions here apply to how they were drawn in the late 80s and 90s) :

When the four girls first came to St.Elmos,the headmistress was called Dr.Gull,nicknamed "the squawker".New girls were nicknamed "newts". After Dr.Gull left,the headmistress was Miss Madeline Mitchell.I remember that she got married,but don't think her name changed.She was blonde and quite glamarous.There was also an older teacher called Miss Creef ("Creefy" behind her back) who had black hair and glasses.She was grumpy and strict,and was the teacher they didn't want to get into trouble with.

The Marys went into the town where the school was,Elmbury,and would meet up with the boys from a boys' boarding school called St.Bartophs.The members of the two schools went to discos together and there would sometimes be school functions to which one group would invite the other.

The four girls:

  • Lady Mary Radleigh was known as "Raddy",but she was down-to-earth and didn't like people to use her title.She had shoulder-length blonde hair.Her father,the Earl of Radleigh,was one of the school governors.The other Marys would often go and stay at their home (I think it was called Radleigh Hall or something like that) in the holidays.
  • Mary Simpson,known as "Simpy",was a scholarship girl,and had long,wavy black hair.She had originally gone to a school in Ironboro,a comprehensive I think.Mabel and Veronica used to be mean to her because unlike them (and I think most of the other pupils),her parents hadn't paid to send her to the school.
  • Mary Cotter,known as "Cotty" was the artistic one,and sometimes won photography and painting competitions.She had long,straight black hair and sometimes wore glasses for reading etc.
  • Mary Field,known as "Fieldy",had a black,straight bob-cut,and was very sporty.She was especially good at hockey.

Other characters:

Ailsa - who had long wavy brown hair and was in a wheelchair,was introduced when she started contacting pupils at the school in secret.I seem to remember that she did this by computer or maybe radio,and she sent puzzling messages which the Marys decided to find the source of.I think they thought she was being held prisoner,but it turned out that she was living nearby with her over-protective aunt,and was lonely.She had been taught at home as her aunt was worried about whether she'd cope at a regular school,and so had tried to get in touch with girls from St.Elmo's.When her aunt realised that contact with other girls could do her good,she let Ailsa attend the school as a day pupil (she couldn't board as the school didn't have wheelchair facilities).

Mabel Lentham and Veronica Lavery - the extremely stuck-up school bullies.They bullied first-year girls into doing their chores for them,and played tricks on the Marys,never missing the chance to get them into trouble or break up their group.Both had boyish haircuts,with Mabel having black and Veronica blonde hair.I think that Mabel's father was very rich,and Veronica was a bit under her thumb and inclined to do what Mabel wanted.

There was an occasional truce between the Snobs and the Marys,and I think the Marys saved one or both of the Snobs from one fate or another a few times,but it always ended up with their fighting again.For a while when Raddy had temporary amnesia following a bump on the head,the Snobs convinced her that they were her real friends,but everything turned out okay in the end with Raddy's memory returning.The Snobs tended to suck up to her a bit generally as she was rich and titled.

I can also give you some facts about The Comp and its characters,who I think were in the second form at their school,Redvale Comprehensive:

The core characters were:

Laura Brady - Lived with her parents (there was a brief split,but they got back together) and big brother Maxwell,who was really into girls and loved his car.I think he may have been a mechanic.Laura was blonde with a ponytail and I guess slightly tomboyish.She was very sporty and artistic.Her best friend was Becky.They had an aunt and uncle and cousins who lived on a farm,and the Bradys and Laura's friends spent some holidays there

Becky Sinden - Identical twin of Hayley,though the girls hated it if they ever had to dress alike.Becky had chin-length tousled brown hair,and was quite sporty too I think.Their family was big - they lived with their mum,a stepdad who was a bit older,two little brothers (Ben who seemed to be a preschooler and Tom the toddler) and an older sister who ended up leaving home,getting married and having twins.

Hayley Sinden - Wore her hair as a high ponytail,and was more into clothes and boys than Becky,and had a bit less common sense.Best friend of Roz.

Roz Cummings (full name Rosalind) - Roz and her dad were from California.The parents were divorced,and her sister Carly and mother would come and visit,and sometimes Roz would go there to see them.Roz had long wavy ginger hair and was quite sophisticated,and very much into boys.Roz's dad ended up marrying a woman whose name I don't remember,and Roz gained a step-sister,Stacey.Stacey was a year younger I think,and painfully shy,and at first Roz found her incredibly irritating and didn't like her mum.Eventually they all became reconciled to each other and were happy enough.

Then there were other girls who appeared in most stories:

Nikki - She had long straight black hair,an annoying older sister,and a dog named Boots.(The dog may have been Claire's;both had dogs and liked taking them for walks together)She had a big brother who Claire fancied I think.

Claire (think her surname was Carter) - She had short choppy brown hair and was hearing impaired.She could lipread,and so used to find out stuff people were talking about (like the bullies for instance) without their knowing it,which came in really handy.Best friends with Nikki.She had an older sister.

Amy - She had a pale blonde bob-cut and was plump,which she used to get bullied about.Her dad was a policeman and her best friend was Kiko.

Kiko - Joined the school when she and her parents moved to Redvale from Japan.She had a dark bob-cut,was very polite and was artistic.She got bullied at first,for instance when she brought a kimono in and the bullies either hid it or messed it up.

Pippa Cragston and Morag (don't remember her surname) - Pippa had wavy shouloder-length blonde hair and I think Morag's was short and dark.These two were quite thuggish and basically served the same purpose in The Comp and Mabel and Veronica did in The Four Marys,except that they weren't snobs.I think Pippa and Morag may have been a bit older than the other kids - in the third or fourth year perhaps.

Hodge (David Hodgeson) and Freddy (John Fredericks) - blond and black-haired respectively,boys in the same class as the main group.These two were the class clowns.

"Jayne the Pain" - a girl in the same class as the others who was always acting superior and smug.Very sophisticated and always in the latest fashions,she'd boast non-stop,especially when she got to do a bit of modelling work.

"My-mum-says Margaret" - a girl who I suppose would be seen as a bit of a "prig" in school comics idiom,she had short,blonde curly hair and always knew better than anyone else.She'd be disapproving of anything and everything,and would express this by saying "My mum says..." whatever,hence her nickname.

And in the late 90s,they added a new girl called Steffi who had ash-blonde hair in a ponytail and was very sporty.She hung out with the group and got on especially well with Laura.I think she was quite into activism for various causes.

The teachers - There were the ones the kids liked - Mrs."Tosh"Macintosh and Mr."Sooty" Cole,and then there were the ones the kids weren't so keen on.There was the slightly grumpy Mr."Basher" Bartlett,and headmistress Miss "Grim Gertie" Grimstyle.

All the best, Angeline

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Margie The Swimming Marvel

"Margie Newfield was a ten-year-old orphan, and she lived in the industrial town of Reghampton with her brother, Fred, and his wife, Lily. Margie was a great help with the housework and with Lily's six young children - in fact, Lily kept her young sister-in-law working too hard. Margie had one very strange ambition. She wanted to be a champion swimmer, even though she had never swum a stroke in her life!"


People and their Pets

"A lady in Los-Angeles, California, kept a full-grown deer as a house pet. It slept in a bed, smoked cigarettes, and was especially fond of a cup of coffee!"

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Briony's Corner

Previously in Bunty ...


Trilby will be Tops! - A mysterious woman takes an interest in Pat Trilby's sports career.
Wendy's Wishing Well - The Wishing Well Cafe has a wishing well that really works - with a little help from Wendy Webster.
The Phantom Ballerina - a mysterious girl arrives at Madame Petrova's ballet school and she can't even dance! What's the idea?
Wildcat of the Court - Princess Pandora is rescued from a tower where she had been imprisoned all her life. Such an upbringing has left her rough and tough, which is not suitable princess material. Her snobby relatives try to get rid of her. But they have reckoned without her popularity with the populace.
An Athlete She Must Be - How can Ellen Perkins turn her guzzling sister into an athlete?
The Children's Champion - Dissatisfied with the Victorian lifestyle, Hester Langley renounces her wealthy life to help the poor of London.
My Brother's a Pop Star - Stella Jones is manager to her pop star brother.
Selma's Sanctuary - story of an animal shelter.
Laural and the Talking Doll - Gypsy Laurel Lee is trying to clear her sister with a most unusual ally - a talking doll!


Amazing Grace, Gymnast of the Future – Circus girl Grace Connor has her heart set on being a gymnast, but her father keeps pushing her into being a trapeze artist: “As a circus start she could be rich one day, but as a gymnast she’ll stay a pauper!” How can Grace change his mind?
Catch the Cat – Marie Bonnet is despised for being friendly with Nazi soldiers in a French town during the WW2 occupation. But this is really a blind for Marie’s double life as a costumed resister known as “the Cat.” This was obviously a very popular story because The Cat appeared in several Bunty annuals in the 1980s.
Courage of Crippled Clara (The) – Mary Jordan is the only friend of Clara Thornton, the crippled daughter of the horrible village squire. Mary is trying to help Clara to walk again, but the nasty squire is turning the whole village against Mary in his efforts to break them up.
Destiny Calls Rosita - gipsy girl Rosita is determined to become a ballerina, but the ballet mistress dislikes her and is trying to get rid of her.
Lona the Wonder Girl – Lona Neal has been trained by scientists as a super-girl. Now out in the real world, Lona finds that she has a lot to learn.
Princess of the Pops – Princess Helen of Lichenberg loves pop music, but her father, King Gustave, has forbidden her to listen to it. Now Helen has gone even further – living a double life as a masked pop star, “M’Lady of Mystery”! But a double life is very tricky, especially when you have pressing engagements as both a princess and a pop star.
School for Unwanted Ones (The) - In 1900 Val Matthews is sent to Dr Croome’s Academy for Girls. This is, of course, a cruel Squeersian establishment, complete with a phoney headmaster and forged credentials.


Bringing up the Barkers - Walter the Dalmation disapproves of his new owners' coarse ways and is trying to teach them more genteel habits.
Maisie Mercury - Maisie the little goddess is in charge of a new wishing well, but there is a rival determined to strip her of her post.
Miss Danby's Dolls - ecentric Miss Danby believes her dolls are alive, and her companion Lizzie Miller finds that strange things are happening about these dolls.
Painting (The) - a witch is burned at the stake, but they neglect to burn a portrait of her as well. So, three centuries later...
Westfield Wage (The) - Rose Westfield must win a wager for her horse's sake, but of course there is saboteur determined to see that she doesn't.
Which Twin for Captain? - sibling rivalry over the captain's post.


My School Chum Mum- When Mrs Todd tries her anti-ageing potion, it works too well. She ends up looking like a schoolgirl! With her husband abroad, Mrs Todd has to attend school with her daughter (ostensibly as cousin Emily). Mrs Todd is finding the joys of modern schools, modern teaching methods, how teenagers live – but the welfare authorities are asking questions.
Mum Knows Best- Jasmine Pearce’s parents are ridiculously over-protective (in reaction to her twin sister dying of a rare disease as a baby). Most unusually for this type of serial, Jasmine wins her parents around simply by talking to them about the situation. The usual ending is for the over-protectiveness to go too far,with disastrous results, before the over-protective parent/guardian sees reason.
Teen TV- Heston Comp is making its own TV programmes
Heartbreak House- When Penny Wellman moves into Corbie House, spooky and frightening things keep happening to her. It seems the house hates her . Then Penny discovers the problem; a Victorian girl was wrongly accused of causing her brother’s death. Penny recruits a TV crew to clear the girl’s name and the trouble ceases.
Starring Sally- Sally Smith wants to be a singer. But does she have the talent or is she just a dreamer?
Last Chance for Laura- Amy Patterson agrees to secretly take her sister Laura’s place as a top model until her face heals from an injury. Success had made Laura conceited and ill-behaved, so Amy also sets out to mend her sister’s reputation by convincing people that Laura has reformed. Fortunately Laura has reformed for real by the end of the story, so nobody will be the wiser.
In the Picture- Jodie Brown buys a camera which can take photographs of the future. She and her friend Lynn decide they have to use the power very carefully – but in the end they find it best to just dump the thing. But someone else spots it…
Wonderful Wanda- St Anne’s Boarding School is boring – until Wanda Jackson arrives!
Forbidden Island- Jenny Weston goes to live with her uncle and aunt. On an island, she discovers two more relatives living in a run-down house. They have to live there for three months to fulfil the conditions of a will. To make things worse, they have fallen out with the aunt and uncle. Jenny is determined to bridge the gap.
Distant Cousin- Jenny Clayton goes to Larchwood Boarding School, where her cousin Claire is a pupil. But Jenny discovers that the girl claiming to be her cousin Claire is not. In fact, the whole school is trying to deceive her, even the staff! Jenny fears her cousin has been kidnapped, but in the end it turns out that they are all doing this because Claire’s mother is too proud to let her relatives know that her daughter was expelled.
Flower Power- Donna Mason helps her disorganised parents run Seaview Hotel. Things get really interesting when the new maid, Blossom, arrives – she is from another planet. As her name suggests, she is really a flower species.
Susie’s Secret- Julie fancies Susie’s brother. He already has a girlfriend, but Susie is trying to keep this a secret because she doesn’t want to fall out with Julie.


Born to Dance- Catherine Collins is a born ballerina but her grandmother has forbidden her dance. Gran is afraid that Catherine will have a fatal accident like her late mother. (So how come Gran is running a BALLET school?!?)
Looking after Lara-Lara Shaw has a new stepsister, Andrea, who is a few years older than she. Andrea is determined to look after her new sister, but Lara finds this a bit too fussy and over-protective.
Secret School-In Victorian times Hannah Gilbert finds her class at the exclusive Howard Academy disappointing because the spoiled little brats just don’t want to learn. Then Hannah discovers that poor childen make more willing pupils and is running a secret school for them.
Patsy’s Parents-Patsy has just been adopted. Her parents are nice, but seem a bit old-fashioned and dull. Patsy is trying to change them.
The Hooded Angel-In Victorian times, Henrietta Farnsworth becomes the “Hooded Angel” to secretly help the poor of London. It is unusual to use the photostory for Victorian-set serials, so this one is a rarity (shot on location at The North of England Open Air Museum at Beamish, County Durham).
Bighead- Tina Patterson has never made many friends because she is quiet and shy. Then her good-looking but big-headed cousin Joe arrives and suddenly everyone wants to be friends with her! Tina knows they just want to get to Joe, but she doesn’t care because she is being noticed at last.

Other stories included:

A New Life for Lilly: In Victorian times, Polly Bond leaves her sister Lilly on a doorstep to be taken in by a wealthy family. Returning to the household as a servant some years later, Polly is horrified to see her sweet sister is now a selfish, spoilt brat.
Change in Claire (The)
: Jane Cook is delighted when her old friend, Claire Harvey, moves back. Her delight turns to dread when she finds that Claire is waging a horrible vendetta against her entire family for unknown reasons. It turns out that Claire (wrongly) blames Jane's brother for an accident which befell her sister.
Captain Carol: Carol gets her best friend, Fiona, expelled so she can take her place as school captain. However, Carol reckons without Fiona's determination to prove her innocence.
Donna's Double Life: Grange and Forden schools are bitter enemies. When Forden pupil Donna Wade suddenly transfers to Grange, she leads a double life to keep her friends at both schools from finding out. Eventually, of course, Donna is found out, and she soon finds who her real friends are.
Debbie's Debt: Jealous Paula interferes with Debbie's bike. When an accident ensues, it is Paula who finds the injured Debbie. Paula proceeds to exploit her family's indebtedness and wealth. This comes to an end when a slide show unwittingly exposes Paula's tampering.
False Friend: Sneaky Karen pretends to be friends with wealthy Natalie in order to take advantage of her.
Imposter! (The): Lady Harriet Mannering is tricked into switching places with her servant, Hetty. Until Harriet can prove her identity, she has to endure a life of toil and grime below stairs
In Petra's Place - a girl tries to push Petra out of her place as School Captain.
Jealous! Lindy is jealous when her sister Joanne lands a job as a model.
Last Chance for Laura: Modelling success has gone to Laura's head. When her face is injured because of her own arrogance, Laura's sister agrees to secretly take her place as a model until her face heals.
Lessons from Lindy: Angie Parsons is tired of being taken for granted. She asks pushy, selfish Lindy Marchant for lessons in how to get her own way. As a result, Angie swings to the other extreme, and ends up in a lot of trouble, before she finally understands what true assertiveness is.
Lonely Lynn: When Lynn Walsh loses her only friends, she turns to breaking up as many friendships as she can, out of pure spite. Lynn certainly breaks up a number of friendships, but it does not occur to her that someone might catch on ...
Looking for Lyn: Sly Jenna Archer runs away from a children's home, posing as a long-lost granddaughter (Lyn Smith) to get a free ticket to an easy life. Jenna's subterfuge works for a time, but she finally comes unstuck when Matron traces the real Lyn Smith.
Move over, Maria: Maria Campbell is the popular class captain until the arrival of Josie Goulden. Josie looks so angelic, but she is in fact a nasty, cheating, troublemaker. Josie pushes Maria out with a series of frame-ups. Maria must expose Josie before Josie's tricks get her expelled.
Oriel - an alien who poses as a schoolgirl in order to learn more about human behaviour. Her goal is to help pave the way for an alien invasion, but ends up becoming more human than she anticipated.
Pop Starr - a girl is leading a double life to keep her snobby classmates from finding out her father was a pop star.
Ring of Truth: Spoiled Catriona helps herself to her inheritance - her grandmother's ring. A string of bad luck ensues. Is it the ring, or coincidence?
Sandra's Sad Secret a.k.a. Cheat!, Sonya's Secret, Changing Places: blackmail stories, the secret concerning a family member who has falsely been accused of a crime.
Secret Gymnast (The) - for me, this brought back warm memories of Bella Barlow from Tammy, since it was illustrated by the same artist, John Armstrong.
Tina of Tumbledown Towers: Tumbledown Towers must win a certain number of trophies, or it will be closed down.
When Harry Dumped Sally: When Sally is dumped (rather callously, it must be said) by Harry, she takes her revenge by playing nasty tricks that get Harry into a great deal of trouble at school. However, Sally makes the mistake of playing one trick too many, and Harry finds her out. His revenge is sweeter than hers when he tells her classmates what she has been up to. "I got my revenge, but I'M the one who lost out!"

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



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