Tammy 6 Feb 1971 - 27 March 1971
Courier Carol sits uncomfortably among the likes of Slaves of War Orphan Farm and Betina at Ballet School, being a rather dated and light-hearted comedy adventure. In many ways it's an Ealing Studios movie in comic strip form.
Carol Jones' Uncle Ebenezer runs a one man coach tour business. In order to save the business, Carol persuades him to do a tour of Europe in his old fashioned coach (despite it being incapable of managing a day trip to Southend without breaking down). Thus we meet a diverse group of eccentrics who in subsequent issues will be carried through a series of misadventures across the continent. There's even a dastardly rival in the shape of Carter O'Toole, proprietor of Go Ahead Coaches, who wants to buy out Ebenezer's business, and who is, coincidentally, also running a coach tour around Europe following the exact same itinerary.
It's a fairly hectic journey, with stops at Calais, when the coach breaks down, staying the night with a history obsessed Frenchman who takes a liking to the two daft passengers dressed in Napoleonic costume. Then on to Canera, a fictional beach resort which may be in the south of France (it's not clear). From there to Spain, where the coach breaks down again, and a passenger is mistaken for a famous bullfighter, despite being unable to speak the language, and on to the tiny fictional country of Durango, where they are conned by the residents into helping with the grape harvest. Then it's a between-issues dash back to Calais for the final episode, and a race home against O'Toole on a bet, which O'Toole loses due to his own impatience.
Courier Carol is so far from the Tammy mission statement that it's not surprising that it's one of the first strips to be jettisoned. Even at two pages an issue instead of the three that most serials get, it's over in eight issues. In fact it was probably cut short to accommodate incoming strips from the Tammy-Sally merger, but it's easy to see why this was one of the two that were sacrificed. It reeks of the old fashioned, from its Ealing comedy-style plot and characters to the obsolete coach, to the cliché representations of foreigners, to even several of the episodes revolving around historical interests. And everyone is cheerful, even in the face of adversity. It's a world without angst in a comic powered by the stuff.
That being said, the artwork by Jean Sidobre is luscious whenever it gets room to breathe. For the most part the story is so compressed that there is little room for the artwork underneath all the text, but whenever there is room it shines. It's filled with idiosyncratic detail, and each person is given a distinctive, if somewhat caricatured look. All the cars look like real, actual cars, and the places have individual and characteristic styles.