COMMON CATEGORIES FOR SERIALS IN GIRLS’ COMICS
By Briony Coote
The following is an attempt to compile the most frequent, and most typical of the formats in girls’ comics. Every effort has been made to catalogue as many formats as possible, but some categories may have been overlooked. If readers can suggest other formats, titles, or serials which they feel should be included, or offer amendments, my e-mail address is email@example.com
The serials cited under these formats are ones which the author has collected, or at least glimpsed. For this reason, the most frequent examples used come from Tammy, Jinty, Girl, Judy, Bunty, Mandy, Mandy & Judy and Suzy. Less frequent examples include Misty, Penny, Girl, Debbie, Nikki, Spellbound, Diana, Princess, Dreamer and Lindy. Some titles, such as Tracy and Jackie, have been excluded because the author does not have sufficient information regarding their serials.
It should be noted that many serials are a blend of these formats, so the same serial sometimes comes up in several categories. The headings for each category are unofficial. Comic titles with a slash e.g. Jinty/Tammy indicate a comic merge. Stories which are accompanied by several comic titles indicate that the story was reprinted in these titles.
AFFLICTED: A girl is left disabled or suffering from a progressing illness, but she is determined it will not stand in her way of realising her dream.
“Becky Never Saw the Ball” Tammy
“Blind Ballerina” Jinty
Bad Influence: The heroine falls under the thraldom of (a) an evil/obsessive spirit, (b) an evil object/curse, or (c) a meddling hypnotist.
“The Revenge of Roxanne”, “Curse of Carmina” Suzy
“Spell of the Spinning Wheel”, “Slave of the Mirror”, “Gail’s Indian Necklace”, “The Venetian Looking Glass”, “Prisoner of the Bell” Jinty
“Nina’s Nightmare World”, “Slave of the Clock” Tammy
“Journey into Fear” Misty
“The Secret Piano” Nikki
“Gameplay”, “Gameplay Level 2” Mandy & Judy
“The Dream House” Tammy, Princess
Variation: A witch puts a troublesome spell on a girl in retaliation for an insult or supposed misdeed. The girl must get the spell lifted, but the problem is persuading the witch to do so.
“Double Trouble” Bunty
“My Cousin Quacker”, “Double Trouble” Mandy & Judy
“The Sorrows of Laughing Anne” Mandy
Blackmail: The heroine is being blackmailed, usually over a family secret. See also Bullying, BLACKMAIL EN MASSE and Reluctant Toady.
“Susie’s Sad Secret”, “Sonya’s Secret”, “Changing Places” Bunty
“Forced to Fail” Judy
Blackmail En masse: A blackmailer has a hold over several people, or even an entire school. One brave girl is determined to stop her, but must first discover exactly what hold she has.
“Wendy’s Web” M & J
“Poison Penny” Spellbound
“The Power of Petra” Judy
Bullying: No explanation is necessary. See also Blackmail and Reluctant Toady.
“Top of the Class”, “The Wrong Crowd!” Bunty
“Bullied!” Mandy & Judy
“Badgered Belinda”, “Tears of a Clown” Jinty
“It’s a Dog’s Life” Tammy
BUSINESS GIRLS: The exploits of career girls or trades-girls.
“The Slave Girls” Mandy
“Hairdresser on Wheels,” “Tinathe Tester”, “Willa the Wisp” Bunty
“Life with Tina” Princess Tina
Busy Parent Syndrome: An over-busy mother neglects her daughter.
“Tina’s Telly Mum”, “No Haven for Hayley” Tammy
“Number One Mum” Mandy
Cadger: A sneaky girl takes advantage of a soft-hearted/gullible/wealthy girl.
“The Kat and Mouse Game” Jinty
“False Friend”, “Debbie’s Debt” Bunty
Variation: The sneaky girl puts on an act to gain advantage over people
“Selfish Susan” Mandy
“Sarah the Seventh” Judy
CHAMPIONS OF THE POOR: Privileged women who give it all up in order to help the poor.
“The Children’s Champion” Bunty
“Angel” and “The Diary of Angel”, Mandy
CHEMICAL SPILLS: A mishap with a chemical formula has the heroine experiencing bizarre effects. The most common effects are invisibility, shrinking or age oscillations.
“My School Chum Mum”, “Invisible Isla” Bunty
“Tiny Tammy”, “Where’s Tammy?”, “Be Your Age, Tammy!” Mandy
“Marnie’s Mini-Mum”, Mandy & Judy
“The Incredible Shrinking Girl” Princess
Cinderella: The heroine is being exploited by parents/guardians/employers. She has a talent/secret which could be her only hope of happiness. However her abusers keep interfering, or exploiting her talent, or both. See also GAOLER GUARDIANS.
“Bella at the Bar”, “Common Cathy”, “Jumble-Sale Jilly”, “Derry the Dowser”, “Sadie in the Sticks”, “Trine Drop-Out”, “Nell Nobody” Tammy
“The Sad Star” Mandy
“Make-Believe Mandy”, “Cinderella Smith” Jinty
Clear the Innocent: Campaign to clear a parent/convict of a crime.
“Linda’s Fox”, “Daughter of the Regiment” Tammy
“Bridey below the Breadline”, “Toni on Trial” Jinty
“Kathy’s Convict” Penny
Cross-Dresser: The main character disguises herself (or in one case, himself) as the opposite sex.
“Call Me Joe!” Suzy
“Cuckoo in the Nest” Tammy
Cruel Orphanage: The heroine escapes from a cruel orphanage but the nasty proprietor won’t let her go that easily. See also Squeersian Establishment.
“Poor-Law Polly” Lindy
“Too Old to Cry!” Jinty
DAILY DIARY: Regular feature which records the activities of the main character.
“Luv, Lisa” Bunty
“Domino” Animals and You
Deadly Ringer: The heroine forcibly (or sometimes accidentally), swaps identities with another girl, but proving this is difficult.
“Curtain of Silence”; “Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud” - Jinty
“The Stranger in My Shoes” Tammy
“The Impostor!” – Bunty
Variation 1: The heroine swaps bodies with another girl.
“I’m Her – She’s Me!” Tammy
Variation 2: Babies who had their identities muddled.
“The Silver Ballerina” Dreamer
DoppelgÄnger: An evil doppelgänger causes trouble – for her genuine counterpart.
“Double Trouble” Mandy & Judy
“Double Trouble” Bunty
“Sister of Hate” Suzy
DOUBLE AGENT: The main character pretends to be a collaborator with invaders/cruel patrons in order to secretly help their victims. She must endure scorn and hatred from these same victims for her apparent collaboration. Sometimes she adopts a costumed identity to facilitate contact with the victims. See also Zorro.
“Detestable Della” Debbie
“Hateful Hattie”; “Slaves of the Sewing Machine” - Mandy
“To Catch the Cat” Bunty
Variation 1: It is not apparent as to whether the collaborator is genuine or not. This creates an intriguing mystery which keeps the reader guessing as to the collaborator’s true motives.
“Force of Evil” Suzy
“Circus of the Damned” Tammy
Variation 2: The character pretends to be an unpleasant character, not a collaborator.
“The Seeker” Bunty
Exploited Amnesiac: Rogues exploit an amnesiac girl, usually by blackmailing her with false information.
“The Double Life of Dolly Brown” Mandy, Mandy & Judy
“Slave of the Swan,” “Miss No-Name” Jinty
Family Feuds: Family feuds, typically over a shared hobby or meaningless quarrel. See also Piggy in the Middle.
“Wars of the Roses”, “Fathers’ Footsteps” Tammy
“They Call it Aggro-batics!” Mandy
“Sharing Starlight” Mandy & Judy
Family Problems: Family problems caused by a) a family break-up, b) troublesome stepsisters/cousins/siblings or c) parent/child problems.
“Day and Knight” Princess
“Cousin Carrie”, “Carrie’s Choice” Bunty
“No Fun for Fiona” Suzy
“Sandy and Steve” Tammy
“Black Sheep of the Bartons” Jinty
“Just the Two of Us” Nikki
For a Loved One: Crusade to save an animal/child.
“Katrina and Kahn” Tammy
“For Peter’s Sake!”, “The Big Cat” Jinty
FRIENDSHIP PROBLEMS: A friendship is threatened by a) a boyfriend creating an awkward situation, b) the proverbial three’s a crowd or c) a fallout.
“Susie’s Secret”, “Don’t Date Damon!” “Three’s a Crowd!” “Betrayed” Bunty
“Two Plus One” Mandy & Judy
Frustrated destiny: The heroine longs to pursue a special talent but her parent/guardian will not allow it. Usually this is due to a family tragedy associated with the same talent.
“The Goose Girl”, “Minnow” Jinty
“The Ice Girl” Tammy
“Born to Dance!” Bunty
Variation: The heroine deliberately hardens against her own ambition because she has lost a loved one because of the talent.
“Nothing to Sing About”, “The Secret Dancer” Jinty
GAOLER GUARDIANS: Mercenary guardians keep the heroine a prisoner. See also CINDERELLA and OVERPROTECTIVE GUARDIANS.
“The Mask” Mandy & Judy
“No Pity for Paula” Mandy, Mandy & Judy
Guilt Complex: The heroine makes life difficult for herself because she blames herself (rightly or wrongly) for an accident or misfortune.
“The Black-and-White World of Shirley Grey” Tammy
“Blind Faith”, “Tricia’s Tragedy”, “Tearaway Trisha” Jinty
“My Strange Sister”, “Don’t Blame Jenny!” Girl
Hampered Girl: The heroine is trying to prove herself, but a spiteful classmate or relative keeps foiling her every attempt in order to keep her in the background. See also NASTY TROUBLEMAKER.
“Tears of a Clown” Jinty
“Hit the Headlines, Hannah!”, “Sheena so Shy”, “Dulcie Wears the Dunce’s Hat”, “Shani Must Shine” Tammy
Hard-Faced Girl: The heroine sets a hard face to her peers for well-meaning, but misguided, reasons.
“Backhand Billie” Tammy
“Hard-Hearted Harriet”, “Pat the Brat” Mandy
Hate Campaign: A revenge-crazed girl (or adult) carries out a terrifying vendetta against a person or persons. She is stopped when she discovers that she has wrongly blamed her victim/s. See also Revenge.
“Go on, Hate Me!”, “Cursed to be a Coward!” Jinty
“The Change in Claire”, “Down with St Desmonds!” Bunty
“Foul Play” Tammy
“Revenge!” Mandy & Judy
“Rachel’s Revenge” Judy
Variation 1: The girl turns bitter, and ostracises the person she blames.
“I Hate You!” Mandy & Judy
“The Secret Swimmer” Princess
Variation 2: The heroine is being harassed by a shadowy figure who sees her as a rival.
“Stage Fright” Jinty
“Shadow on the Stage,” “Vision of Vanity Fayre” Tammy
Hidden Pets: The heroine hides secret pets, either from a cruel person, or to prevent their being destroyed.
“Rusty Remember Me” Princess
“Maggie’s Menagerie”, “High-Rise Hazel” Tammy
“Finleg the Fox” Lindy
HUBRIS: Parents/guardians/teachers are too demanding.
“Cora Can’t Lose”, “Betta to Lose”, “Sister in the Shadows” Tammy
Ice Maiden: The heroine is so badly burned by a bad experience that she hardens her heart and snubs all offers of love and friendship.
“Stefa’s Heart of Stone” Jinty
“Saving Grace”, “Sour Grapes for Sophie” Tammy
“Cold as Charity” Judy
Jinxed Girl: The heroine tries to make life better for herself, but things either keep going wrong, or she has the wrong attitude.
“I’ll Make up for Mary” Jinty
“Picture-book Polly”, “Copy Kate”, “Life with the Greens” Mandy
“Lessons from Lindy” Bunty
KLUTZY GIRLS: Hilarious regulars which feature girls who are a walking disaster area. However, some of them find that their klutziness can work to their advantage – especially if they are up against unpleasant types.
“Glenda the Guide” Mandy
“Simple Simona” Tammy
“The Jinx of St Jonah’s” Jinty
LEAST SUSPECTED: Someone is causing trouble, and it turns out to be either a) the person the victim has least suspected, or b) the supposed victim herself, who has been faking everything.
“Donna Must Dance”, “Stop, Thief!”, “Hot Gossip” Bunty
“Who Hates Steve?”, “Whodunnit?” Mandy & Judy
“Rosie’s Revenge” Judy
LITTLE FOLK: The heroine befriends one of the little folk, or a space alien. There are two themes:
“The Green People”, “A Girl Called Gulliver” Jinty
“Merry at Merrylees” Bunty
“Terri’s Troll” Mandy & Judy
Living a Lie: The heroine is living a lie, or a double life. She does this to protect herself, prevent embarrassment, or out of pride.
“Donna’s Double Life”, “Last Chance for Laura”, “Living a Lie”, “Pop Starr” Bunty
“Holiday Hideaway” Jinty
“Claire’s Airs and Graces”; “Jilly Liar” – Tammy
MAGIC OBJECT: The heroine acquires a magical object which makes life much more interesting.
“The Whispering Shell” Mandy
“Time after Time” Bunty
“Ghost Writer” Mandy & Judy
“The Girl in the Window” Tammy
Variation: This theme forms the basis for regular features, and they appear frequently in girls’ comics.
“Lucky’s Living Doll” June
“Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” Jinty
“Cat Girl” Sally/Tammy
“Lucy’s Loving Cake” Mandy
Misunderstood Girl: The heroine has a certain problem. This problem causes a string of misunderstandings that makes her unpopular.
“Sweet and Sour Charity”, “Lara the Loner” Tammy
Modern Witchunt: (See also WITCHES). The heroine (or an animal) is persecuted by backward villagers who still believe in witches.
“Weena the Witch”, “Mark of the Witch!” Jinty
“Bad Luck Barbara”, “The Cat with 7 Toes” Mandy
Variation: Hysterical villagers revert to witch-hunt mania against a girl who is in fact being controlled by a supernatural force.
“The Revenge of Roxanne” Suzy
“Spell of Fog” Tammy
MONEY GRUBBERS: The heroine is being persecuted by greedy, unscrupulous people who are out for her money or property.
“Olympia Jones” Tammy
“The Haunted Station” Princess
‘The Jealousy of Jemma” Debbie, Mandy, Mandy & Judy.
MYSTERIOUS GIRLS: The heroine is a girl with mysterious powers. She may fight the forces of evil, interact with the normal world before mysteriously disappearing on, or find friends who help to keep the truth about her secret.
“Miranda”, “Maisie Mercury” Bunty
Nasty Troublemaker: A troublemaker secretly causes trouble for an unsuspecting girl. See also Revenge, Saboteur, HAMPERED GIRL and Sweet-Faced Schemer
“What Lilla Wants…”, “Cutting Edge” Mandy and Judy
“The Hateful Heart of Limpalong Lindy”, “That Bad Bettina!”, “The Lying Eyes of Linda Lee” Mandy
“In Petra’s Place”, “Lonely Lynn”, “Friend or Foe?” “For Sam’s Sake!” Bunty
“I’ll Take Care of Tina!” Mandy
“Dulcie Wears the Dunce’s Hat” Tammy
OVERPROTECTIVE GUARDIANS: Parents/guardians go to ridiculous lengths to protect their children. See also GAOLER GUARDIANS.
“The Courage of Crippled Clara” Bunty
“The Four-Footed Friends” Jinty
“No Fun for Fiona” Suzy
Pandora’s Box: The progenitor uses a magical object for her own ends, but unleashes an evil force in the process.
“Creepy Crawley” Jinty
“Thursday’s Child” Tammy
“The Jinx” Mandy & Judy
Piggy in the Middle: The heroine is caught between quarrelsome friends or parents. See also Family Feuds and friendship problems.
“Ping-pong Paula” Jinty
“Peggy in the Middle” Tammy
“Three’s a Crowd!” Bunty
“Two plus One” Mandy & Judy
Pinocchio: An alien/non-human/time traveller tries to assimilate into society.
“Almost Human”, “The Robot Who Cried” Jinty
“Freda Who?” Mandy
Reluctant Toady: The heroine is being blackmailed into toadying a horrible, unpopular girl. The toadying offends her classmates, and they ostracise her. See also Bullying and Blackmail.
“Be Nice to Nancy” a.k.a. “Be Nice to Nikki” Judy, Mandy & Judy
“It’s a Dog’s Life” Mandy & Judy
“Dear Diary – I Hate You!” Tammy
Revenge: A girl starts a campaign of revenge because she has been hurt or bullied. Most often she a) ends up going too far or b) her revenge turns into harassment because the avenger doesn’t know where to stop. See also Hate Campaign.
“When Harry Dumped Sally”, Bunty
“Stella Stirrer”, “The Destiny Dolls”, “Nurse Grudge”, “Thursday’s Child” Tammy
“Diary of Despair” Mandy & Judy
Runaway: Main character(s) go on the run from a) welfare authorities, b) cruel guardians/employers, c) Gestapo-types or d) criminals.
“Somewhere over the Rainbow”, “Song of the Fir Tree”, “Always Together” Jinty
“Sonya’s Secret” Judy
Saboteur: A saboteur secretly interferes with a special project or a girl’s efforts to shine because of vested interest. See also Nasty Troublemaker.
“Tina of Tumbledown Towers” Bunty
“Romy’s Return” Tammy
SAVVY STARS: The exploits of quick-witted characters who apply their skills to solving problems, getting out of scrapes, or dodging work.
“Wee Sue” Sandie/Tammy
“Fran’ll Fix It!” Jinty
“Babe of St Woods” Tammy
School Soap Operas: A regular, which consists of a soap opera featuring the daily lives of pupils in a school. In the 1980s these features were heavily influenced by Grange Hill, and also show a marked shift from the traditional boarding school saga to day schools and pupils’ home lives. Several titles were also reminiscent of Grange Hill.
“The Four Marys,” “School’s Out!” Bunty
“Pam of Pond Hill” Jinty/Tammy
“The Grange Hill Juniors” School Fun
“The Comp” Nikki/Bunty
“Penny’s Place” Mandy & Judy/Bunty
Shock Treatment: An unpleasant girl reforms after encountering a supernatural force, or enduring a tragic/cruel/humbling experience. The girl either reforms immediately, or changes gradually, usually with relapses.
“The Girl Who Never Was”, “Snobby Shirl the Shoeshine Girl!” Jinty
“The Clock and Cluny Jones” Tammy
“Ring of Truth” Bunty
“Money Matters” Mandy and Judy
“Portrait of Pauline” Mandy
SIBLING SQUABBLES: These are typically cases of a) sibling rivalry, or b) siblings who do not welcome a newcomer to the family.
“Georgie, Go Home!” Mandy
“Diff’rent Strokes” Tammy
“I Hate Boys!” Mandy & Judy
“Sisters at War!” Jinty
Slavery Racket: The heroine falls foul of a child slavery racket and schemes to escape in order to alert the authorities. See also Squeersian Establishment.
“Slaves of the Nightmare Factory” Girl
“Slaves of the Candle” Jinty
“Waifs of the Wigmaker”, “Mandy and the House of Models” Tammy
“Slaves of the Sewing Machine” Mandy
Space Invaders: Alien invaders threaten Earth, and the heroine is the only one who knows about it.
“Stella’s Spell” Bunty
“E.T. Estate” Tammy
Special Helper: The heroine has a special coach/benefactor/guardian. The helper may be supernatural, or a normal person, but they typically work in secret.
“Fancy Free!”, “Spirit of the Lake” Jinty
“You Can Do Better” Mandy & Judy
“Phantom Friend” Bunty
Squeersian Establishment: The heroine is determined to survive the harshness of a workhouse, a Squeersian-style school, or a cruel reformatory. See also Cruel Orphanage and Slavery Racket.
“The Four Friends of Spartan School” Tammy
“Merry at Misery House” Jinty
“The Worst School in the World” Judy
“School for Unwanted Ones” Bunty
Storyteller: The storyteller is a regular who tells a) spooky stories or b) stories from a collection of items
Spooky storytellers: The Man in Black, “Gypsy Rosa Remembers” (Diana), Gypsy Rose (Jinty), the Storyteller (School Friend/June/Tammy).
Collective storytellers: Dolwyn’s Dolls (Bunty), The Button Box (Tammy)
Strange School: A school has a very bizarre policy.
“Children of Edenford” Jinty
“Carol in Camelot Street”, “Roberta’s Rebels” Tammy
Struck Dumb: The heroine loses her voice after an accident. In most stories this handicap puts her at the mercy of an unscrupulous person.
“Curtain of Silence”, “Wild Horse Summer” Jinty
“Who is Sad Sally?” Mandy
“The House of Cats” Diana
Sweet-Faced Schemer: A girl has an angelic, sweet face, but this is a mask which conceals a spiteful, scheming nature.
“Move Over, Maria” Bunty
“The Truth about Wendy” Mandy
“Angela Angel-Face” Jinty
TIME TRAVEL: The heroine travels through time.
“The Haunted Station” Princess
“Land of No Tears” Jinty
“Door to Yesterday” Mandy & Judy
“The Time Travellers”, “Ghost Train” Bunty
Troublesome toys: The heroine acquires a toy with strange powers, and it causes a lot of trouble for her.
“Teddy”, “the Many Faces of Moppet”, “Terror Toys”, Mandy
“What’s Wrong with Rhona?” Tammy
Wallflower Blooms: Strange events start happening which make a timid girl more confident – but often at a price.
“Sit it out, Sheri”, “Portrait of Doreen Grey” Tammy
Witches: There are four types of portrayal in girl’s comics, including MODERN WITCHUNT. The other three are:
1. The traditional evil witch
“The Painting” Bunty
“Golden Dolly, Death Dust” Jinty
“The Witch of Witchcolme Wold”, “The Sea Witches” Tammy
2. A supernatural being played for laughs
“Pandora’s Box”, “A Spell of Trouble” Jinty
“Maisie’s Magic Aunt” Bunty
“Witch Hazel” Tammy
3. A wise woman
“Sue’s Daily Dozen” Jinty
WOLF GIRL: A feral girl must adjust to civilisation.
“Wildcat of the Court” Bunty
“Princess Wildcat” Debbie(?)
Zorro: The heroine adopts a costumed identity to help oppressed people. See also Double agent.
“Lady Sarah’s Secret” Judy
“The Hooded Angel” Bunty