Publication Dates: 18 January 1958 – 17 February 2001
Number of Issues Published: 2249 (#1 – #2249)
Color: Colour cover
Paper Stock: Newsprint
Publishing Format: Was ongoing
Bunty was a British comics anthology for girls published by D. C. Thomson & Co. from 1958 to 2001. It consisted of a collection of many small strips, the stories typically being three to five pages long. As well as the weekly comic, Christmas and summer annuals were published. Bunty published 2,249 issues, and went monthly in 2001 before ceasing publication after a further 5 months. In contrast to earlier and contemporary comics, it was aimed primarily at working class readers under the age of 14, and contained mostly fictional stories.
The average issue of Bunty contained several short comic-strip stories, broken up by letters pages, competitions, featured readers, puzzle pages, promotions, next-week previews or advertisements. The back page initially featured a cut-out doll and paper clothes, which eventually gave way to a wall poster.
The Four Marys
“The Four Marys” was the longest story the comic ran—drawn by artist Barrie Mitchell, it appeared from its creation in 1958 to its end in 2001. When the strip started, public boarding schools like St. Elmo’s, the girls’ boarding school, were common, but as time went on, they became less accessible to Bunty’s general audience. It centred on four young teenagers who lived in a girls-only boarding school in Elmbury, and often had problems with studying, being bored, or helping (and being hindered by) the other girls or teachers within the school. Of the four main characters, two were middle class, one was the aristocratic daughter of an Earl, and one was a working class girl, attending the school on a scholarship. This representation of the working class was a reflection of changing class experiences in the 1950s.
A comic drawn very much in the same way as The Four Marys, this was set in a mixed-sex comprehensive school. The Comp was originally published in Nikki, and moved to Bunty after that comic folded. The Comp finished a short time before Bunty’s end, the story being that Redvale Comprehensive closed down and the pupils were sent to different schools.
This story was written out as a diary, with pictures to accompany it. The pictures took the form of photographs, being the only regular comic to do so (although regularly ‘one-time’ comics also took the form of being shown in photographs). Regularly her stories would consist of her writing about people, boyfriends and situations she was in with her friends—although sometimes she would have a story set about her, with an adventure such as finding good Christmas cards. Her friends’ names changed from issue to issue, the only regular characters being her brother and her mother.
Bunty—A Girl Like You
A one-page feature included a short comic strip about the comic’s namesake, a blonde girl called Bunty, and her friends Haya and Payal. The strip was so short it usually could not convey more than a quick joke—mostly about normal teenage girl subjects like boys, family or school.
A comic drawn in much the same way as The Comp and The Four Marys, Penny’s Place began in the comic M&J (an amalgamation of earlier comics, Mandy and Judy), but was taken up by Bunty when M&J ended. The story centred on Penny, whose parents owned a cafe called ‘Penny’s Place’, and her three best friends, who all lived in the same town and attended the same school. Penny’s best friend Donna was from a lower-class family and had several brothers and sisters, and these siblings were often involved in storylines.
The story came to an end in the late 1990s, but due to popular demand Bunty began to publish the story again from the beginning. During this time, both Bunty and Mandy published “Penny’s Place” in their Christmas annuals.
Moira Kent and Lorna Drake
“The Dancing Life of Moira Kent”, the story of an aspiring ballerina, appeared in the first issue of Bunty, and Moira Kent was a regular feature for many years, the character eventually achieving international stardom. When the storyline was discontinued, it was replaced with “Lorna Drake”, also about a ballet dancer, who attended the Thelma Mayne Dancing School (Thelma having been a ballerina herself before an accident prevented her from dancing ever again). This accident was caused by Lorna’s father, also a ballet dancer, who was going blind when he let Thelma Mayne fall during a performance, thus crippling her. However, Moira still appeared in the annuals, where she had opened her own ballet school.
The lyrics to the song “Melody Lee” by the British punk rock group the Damned, on their 1979 album Machine Gun Etiquette, were borrowed entirely from the dialogue balloons of Bunty comics.
On March 19, 2012, the Royal Mail launched a special stamp collection to celebrate Britain’s rich comic book history. The collection featured The Beano, The Dandy, Eagle, The Topper, Roy of the Rovers, Bunty, Buster, Valiant, Twinkle and 2000 AD.
Picture Library 246
172,173, Book for girls 1980, Picture story library for girls 172