Tuesday, January 18, 2011

British Girls' Comics: Girl Annual 1965

Here's a selection of stories and features from one of the later Girl annuals, as the title was struggling to adapt to the swiftly changing fashions and culture generally of the 1960s. One of the few comic strips left from Girl's 1950s heyday was a single page of John Ryan's Lettice Leefe, now simply called 'Lettice'.

The handy thing about Girl was that it credited writers and artists. This 1965 annual featured art by Pat Tourret in this 4-page story "Out of the Blue". Her distinctive style looks familiar, and perhaps some of the stories in the Diana annuals from the 1970s are by her. Have to take a closer look. This story here is about a young woman struggling to find her niche in the world. Quite by accident she stumbles into her future, when her glider crashes into a quarry and she meets a professional paleontologist! Love it!

"Lazy Holiday", another 4-pager, and in color, is drawn by Gwen Tourret, another of the three Tourret sisters, all of whom were comic artists! Gwen went onto a career writing and especially illustrating children's books. "Lazy Holiday" is another of those independent middle class young adult female vacation sagas set in a European destination. Typically, the unsuspecting sunbathers end up with far more adventure than they anticipated.

"Model in America" is again drawn by Gwen Tourret and is an unlikely, if charming tale of a New York fashion model and her photographer saving the day as an old Southern family faces ruin from corporate ruthlessness. In the early 60s and before anti-Vietnam War sentiment tarnished the Brits' love affair with the USA, America remained an alluring, if distant, ideal for the young. I'm only surprised that so few stories in these girls' comics I've been looking at feature events set in the USA.

One of the non-story (I say that with tongue in cheek because these Beatles anecdotes are clearly posed and contrived for the fans) features in the book is about the Fab Four!

By now I can tell at a glance that the next story, "Beth Goes on TV", is drawn by Pat Tourret. A fourteen year old girl's dream comes true when she gets to sing backup with her favorite band. But is she ready to abandon her existing life for stardom on the road?

This next story, "The Red Pennant", is drawn by Leo Davy, an artist about whom I am unable to find any information. That surprises me, given the quality of his artwork in this story. In some ways it's almost reminiscent of Neal Adams' work, only several years before Adams achieved fame. Appropriately so for a British girls' comic, a gutsy young lady beats a champion sailor to save her family home.

This last example from a packed Girl annual is by a Spanish artist credited only as Ortiz. Exactly which Ortiz I can't determine for sure. It looks to me like it could be an early example of the work of José Ortiz Moya, who worked on Eagle and 2000 A.D., two British weekly comics in the 1980s. What makes me think this story is by José Ortiz is the similarity between this artwork and that of Ortiz's early 1960s strip Caroline Baker, Barrister at Law in the British newspaper The Daily Express. José Ortiz was also a significant contributor to Warren titles in the 70s and 80s in America.

"Cindy's Night Out" is a nice nurse romance that incorporates that favorite romance comic device, the masquerade party. Cindy decides to skip the party to study, but ends up running outside to aid a young doctor in trouble on his way to the very same event that our nurse protagonist has skipped out on. He charms her into going dressed as a nurse, and of course, in true romance comic fashion, she passes her exams anyway, and he reveals his true identity to her. We can imagine a life of wedded bliss in store for the two as the fourth page ends.

This 1965 Girl annual has presented some interesting stories and art. Being more of a magazine format in terms of content, there's a lot I've not represented with this selection - the various features, illustrated text stories, and so on. I've focused on the sequential art, and I think you'll agree that, on the basis of it, Girl is a publication well worth investigation.


  1. Thanks for posting this, particularly the John Ryan page. I'd seen a lot of his Captain Pugwash work through Eagle reprints and the various book versions he produced and loved his work but this was the first I'd seen of Lettice, although I was aware of it. Leo Davy's work put me in mind of the great Frank Bellamy, particularly the panel designs and layouts. I know Davy did some fine work for the illustrious Look and Learn but not much else.

  2. Peter: glad you enjoyed this post. Here's links to a couple of other Lettice Leefe pages by Ryan that I posted previously:



    I thought there was something strangely familiar about John Ryan's style - Captain Pugwash! I haven't seen any of those for years. Now it makes sense.

    Also, thanks for that info about Leo Davy working for Look & Learn.