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Sunday, 9 October 2011

WebFinds: Girls Comics of Yesterday

Researching a question from a downthetubes reader about a fondly-remembered British 'Supergirl', I came across Girls Comics of Yesterday, a relatively new fan site dedicated to British girl comics of the past, looking at three of the most long lasting publications of Bunty, Mandy and Judy.

All three titles were published by DC Thomson, Bunty comic being the longest running publication, running from January 1958 to February 2001 and lasting for 2249 issues, as well as a short-lived Picture Story Library monthly series. It's the DC Thomson title perhaps most fondly remembered, with a campaign for a revival of girls comics centring on the name.

Judy ran from January 1960 and Mandy from January 1967 (DC Thomson seem to have a thing about launching titles in January and February), lasting 1635 issues and 1269 issues respectively. In 1991, Mandy and Judy merged with each other, then merged with Bunty in 1995.

Some of their long running strips included 'The Four Marys', 'Lorna Drake', 'The Comp', 'Luv Lisa', 'Penny’s Place' and Valda, and Girls Comis of Yesterday is a growing attempt to document them all, including story lists and features.

While the site had nothing on 'Supergirl' - the sample above was actually located on 'Stupid Comics' - it's definitely a resource that is surely going to grow and well worth book marking.

As for 'Supergirl' - like many other girls characters, her fans have fond memories. From what our reader recalled, she was a schoolgirl named Susie Solomon who was hit by a car, and crippled. With a tip of the hat to 'Bionic Woman' (which had its own strip in Look-In for a time, drawn by artists such as John Bolton), the government then offered to rebuild her limbs with secret technology, in return for her services as a secret agent.

The operations she had gave her bionic legs (enabling her to run at superhuman speeds) and an extra strong arm. She agreed to keep her abilities secret, keeping up the pretence that she was a cripple.

Her crutch was actually secret tv radio - a way to speak to her superiors at HQ.

While our reader recalled her appearing in Bunty, locating information about the character - who may also later have been published as 'Super Sue' (perhaps to avoid obvious copyright issues), longtime girls comic expert David Roach has been able to provide plenty of information, although he stresses that his research is open to challenge.

Firstly, the 'Super Sue' cover of Bunty Picture Story Library 253, above, was published in 1984 and the cover looks like it was drawn by Rodney Sutton. This may not be 'Supergirl': there are earlier issues with a “Sue” in them, such as Issue 212, 'Singalong Sue' drawn by Carlos Laffond and 222, 'Sue and the Smiling Dolls'.

The annual story featured on Stupid Comics' - drawn by Douglas Perry who was a veteran of girls comics at D C Thomson, Fleetway/IPC and Pearsons - offered better leads and the revelation that the 'Supergirl' strip initially ran in Judy, not Bunty, first appearing In the comic with Issue 1217 (cover dated 7th May 1983) and drawn by Giorgio Letteri who was one of D C Thomson's most prolific and talented girls artists (principally on the long running Judy strip 'Bobby Dazzler').

Another serial called 'Part-time Supergirl' appeared later in 1983, ending with #1243 (5 11 83) also drawn by Letteri.

"I’m not aware of any other 'Supergirl' strips after that, unfortunately, though there might well have been one or two appearances in annuals," he tells us - but also stresses that he can’t be 100 per cent accurate, so further information or samples would be welcome.

Update (with thanks to the folk at ComicsUK): The fondly-remembered Supergirl ran in Bunty 1011 (May 28 1977) - 1028 (September 24 1977). Here's the first episode (© DC Thomson)...

- Girls Comics of Yesterday: http://girlscomicsofyesterday.com

- Bring Back Bunty Group: http://downthetubes.ning.com/group/bringbackbunty

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