On this day, 20 October 1979: Penny
On this day, 20 October 1979 … This issue marked a new look for Penny, the short-lived girls’ comic that ran for 49 issues between the springs of 1979 and 1980. As issue number 26, it’s a pleasing coincidence (for those people – like me – who take pleasure in unusual numerical coincidence) that it marks the start of the second half of the comic’s run. From this issue onwards, Penny was printed on a cheaper paper and had a slightly wider format, but the most obvious change was in a move to artists’ covers rather than photographic designs. It’s a purer comic, in my opinion.
The stories are all engagingly told, with some lovely artwork, and generally tell tales of slightly younger girls than were the subject of adventures in Tammy, Jinty and Misty at this time. All the evidence suggests that Penny was aimed at a younger readership.
The Deliverers is the first strip, about a squad of newspaper deliverers hired by a newsagent to keep an eye on suspicious goings-on in the neighbourhood. Sad Sal and Smiley Sue is about two friends who are ‘as different as first and second-class mail’. Living with Laura stars Katie, overshadowed by her athletically-gifted older sister, while Pickle, Where Are You? follows the adventures of a lost kitten (I especially like the Jose Casanovas art on this one). Tansy of Jubilee Street is a soapy sort of story taking in a large cast of residents of a suburban street, and the comic finishes with the dramatic Odd Girl Out, about Samantha, a girl fighting against her grandmother’s expectation that she become a ballerina.
I’ve scanned the whole page of Jack Edward Oliver’s Blunder Girl!, simply because it’s an extremely good but little-known humour strip that deserves to be more widely known. By chance, Wonder Woman also appears in this issue, as one of the subjects to appear in a cut-out-and-keep booklet, ‘Penny’s Book of Wonder Women’ … which would also include Queen Elizabeth II, Margot Fonteyn, Joan of Arc, and Margaret Thatcher.