The Monkey Princess (stellanova) wrote,
The Monkey Princess
stellanova

girl of mystery

If you are female, British or Irish and were a child between 1945 and 1990, chances are you read Mandy, Judy, Bunty et al. Valda, Miss Angel, the Honourable S.J. and their chums are burned into my memory forever, but, presumably because these comics were aimed at girls, very little has been written about them in comparison to boys' comics (or comics that were read by boys and girls, like the Beano - of which I was also a fan at a very early age, and indeed a member of Dennis the Menace's Fan Club (and Gnasher's Fang Club). Unlike boys' comics, there's also very little online about girls' comics - I've looked a few times over the years, and a quick google reveals that the situation is still the same: a couple of entries about girls' comics in general British comic fan sites. In fact, I've been talking about doing a book about girls' comics myself for years - these comics are a huge part of 20th century girls' culture in this part of the world, one that has been largely ignored.

So I was delighted to hear an item about girls' comics on Woman's Hour the other day, which sent me into paroxyms of nostalgia - I'd forgotten all about "The Cat", but as soon as they started talking about it I instantly visualised the art work, it all came back in an instant. Valda, of course, also got a mention, but I was slightly disappointed that no one mentioned the gloriously masochistic Miss Angel (rich girl who discovers she is dying of unspecified consumption-esque ailment and, to spare her parents the pain of watching her die, goes off to set up a sort of refuge for even more pitiful orphans in a stable house. Supporting characters included Annie, the hunchbacked orphan who was a musical genius. Miss Angel also regularly visited the orphans under the railway arches whom she was "unable to house", wishing that "the stable house was as big as my heart", though as my sister Busta J and I would regularly point out, the stable house always had room for the picturesque "orphan of the week" who arrived with an interesting backstory).

Other favourite stories in the C**** household back in the '80s included Workhouse Wendy (rich child goes undercover in workhouse to investigate its cruelty, but then her parents are killed in a shipwreck and she's trapped there!), Little Stranger (brilliantly scary story about a girl - who is an only child - who wakes up one day and discovers that as far as everyone else is concerned, she's always had a little sister. Who is, of course, really an alien who has brainwashed everyone) and, most of all, The Honourable S.J., in which the evil Sarah-Jane Cheetwell (oh, yes!) blackmailed the daughter of her housekeeper, who was unlucky enough to repeatedly end up at the same boarding school as S.J. We could never understand how, after being unmasked as evil and expelled time and time again, S.J. managed to get accepted at her next school, apparently without a stain on her character, and get made a prefect or headgirl straight away. But there you go. Perhaps her evil powers had a magical quality.

So what were your favourites?
Tags: comics, nostalgie
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