On this day, 9 May 1970: Sally
Sally was nearly one year old at this point (its first issue was dated June 1969), and is a strong, confident read. It’s a shame that the comic lasted for less than two years before being merged into Tammy (thank you, Quiet Storm, for commenting on the last Sally post I wrote that it is believed the circulation numbers of Sally were hit hard by an absence caused by industrial action, so the decision was made to merge it into the younger and more buoyant comic). There’s a noticeable ‘action’ feel to this Sally, with lead characters in the roles of mystery investigators (The Ghost Hunters), a superhero (The Cat Girl), a gunslinger (Broken-hearted Rebel) and anti-Nazi resistance fighters (The Silent Shadows). It’s good to see also that there are strips with female characters in positions of authority – Sara’s Kingdom and Farm Boss Fanny – and the rest is made up with a traditional mix of a sports story (Jumping Jo), a heart-tugger (Judy’s Search for Happiness) and funnies (including Maisie’s Magic Eye, Des and Dink and Thunk).
I felt that this Sally has a more empowering feel to it than other girls’ comics of the early 1970s, and, mindful of her scathing review of a 1972 issue of Sandie (‘So much of it is written from a male perspective’), I asked my partner Sharon to have a look and to see if she agreed. And she did! ‘I poked fun at Sandie, but it’s harder to do so with this,’ said Sharon. ‘The stories are about girls who are more autonomous and self-reliant. They’re pursuing goals for their own selves, and there’s virtually no approval-seeking (of men, or of other girls). I think this is a far truer capturing of the women’s lib feel that would have been happening around this time, at the turn of the decade – perhaps more so than at the time of the Sandie, when the biteback against feminism had grown sharper.’
It’s a hayseed to a china orange that there will be exceptions to the rule, and there are a few problematic aspects of this comic – not least the ‘white saviour’ story Sara’s Kingdom, and that ‘Cheer up, Tubby’ reply to a reader’s letter – but overall this is great reading. Could Sally be described as Britain’s first feminist comic?