“My guy’s mad at me,” sang Tracey Ullman in her gender-swapped version of the classic 1979 hit “My Girl” by Madness. I’m guessing, however, that no matter how mad Tracey’s guy was at her, I’m even madder at My Guy.
That’s My Guy the magazine, of course. But why am I mad at it, I pretend that I hear you ask? Because I’ve been unable to verify how many issues of My Guy were published, or how long it lasted. Over the past few years I’ve trawled through dozens of on-line comics encyclopaedias, book-stores, databases and what-have-you, and I’m still not sure. Some of these sources supply contradictory information. Others are just sparse. Many of them don’t mention My Guy at all, possibly because it was closer to a magazine than a comic.
Ah, but if My Guy was a magazine, what’s it doing on this here comics blog, eh? Why, Unky Rusty, are you even bothering with it?
Because, imaginary disembodied voice in my head who somehow always sounds like Hugo Weaving, in 1990 My Guy absorbed the 1980s incarnation of Girl, and that one definitely was a comic.
And also, My Guy contained photo-stories and they do count as comic-strip material. Not to mention that many of the other publications I’ve covered are story-papers: if they count as comics, so does My Guy.
A brief digression that serves to illustrate how frustrating it can be to research this stuff: The merger of My Guy and Girl is not mentioned on-line anywhere — at last, nowhere I could find — and in fact I didn’t even know about that merger until a few weeks ago when I stumbled across the cover on the right. At first I thought that maybe it had absorbed an entirely different title called Girl because the “Girl” part of the logo was unfamiliar to me, but a little more research showed that in its later years the Girl comic did indeed sport that logo on the cover.
(Nested digression: Searching on-line for a comic called “Girl” is a lot harder than it should be. “Girl comic uk” was the first search-string on Google I used… Lots of images of the 1950s Girl showed up, plus many other titles, but the one we’re looking for? Nothing, even though it was in print for almost a decade.)
So how does a long-running and well-known publication like My Guy manage to garner such a sparse presence on-line? It could be that there aren’t any serious My Guy collectors out there, or at least none who’ve felt the urge to put its details on-line. Collectors of old magazines do actually exist (I use some of their sites to verify certain info for this blog), but they mostly focus on mags for adults. And there’s a plethora of sites dedicated to “proper” comics. But publications aimed at teens seem to have fallen through the cracks.
To undigress… Sometime around March 1995 My Guy and its companion reprint title My Guy Monthly were apparently sold by IPC Magazines to Frank Hopkinson, the then-current group editor of those titles. Mr Hopkinson intended to “publish the magazines in his own right.” In 2006 he published My Guy: The Best of the Photostories, the paperback version of which was subtitled “Your favourite photostories from 1978 to 1999!” which is a pretty strong clue that the mag lasted beyond 1995, but not actual evidence (I haven’t actually got a copy of the book yet!). The only other clues I’ve been able to find are along the lines of this mention on Magforum: “in 1998, 11 titles sold 2,441,163 copies a month (Smash Hits, Just 17, Looks, Jackie, Mizz, Company, 19, Number One, Girl, Blue Jeans and My Guy).” Again, that’s not actually evidence.
Unfortunately, that’s as far as I’ve managed to travel down that road. Attempts to contact Mr Hopkinson for clarification have yet to bear fruit.
Deep, protracted sigh.
Y’know, beloved reader, if someone had told me when I started all this that it’d be easier to verify info on, say, Cartwright’s Lady’s Companion magazine from 1892 than on a popular teen magazine that lasted long enough to acquire an e-mail address, I would have scoffed mightily and then laughed in their face. But they would have been right. Luckily, no one did tell me that and so my honour was spared.
Here’s a brief history of the magazine in the hope that it might spark some memories…
My Guy is launched. It’s glossy, has forty pages, costs 14p in the UK, and come with a free Heart-to-Heart Bangle. It also has “Real love stories in photos” and a feature that promises 101 ways to acquire a boyfriend, thus setting the scene for the next 800+ issues.
My Guy absorbs short-lived stable-mate magazine Heartbeat (launched 3 Oct 1981, lasted 28 issues).
My Guy Monthly is launched, reprinting the “The Best from Britain’s Best Photo Story Mag.”
Absorbs Oh Boy (launched 12 October 1976, lasted 428 issues), another teen girls’ magazine, this one with a stronger emphasis on pop music.
My Guy absorbs the comic Girl (launched 14 January 1981, lasted 478 issues).
12 March 1994
#820, the most recent issue I’ve been able to pin down. As you can see, by now My Guy has given itself another makeover: the giant “MG” logo dwarfing the original title. This happened sometime between late March 1992 and early June 1992. A heavy revamp like this, where the magazine’s original identity is almost obliterated, is a strong indicator that sales have not been great.
Given that it lasted at least sixteen years — and possibly as long as twenty-two — My Guy was an important and influential publication, so it’s a shame that there’s so little solid information about it. If anyone out there can supply me with solid proof of My Guy‘s extended life beyond March 1995 (cover scans are a good start!) I would be massively grateful.
And if you believe that I’m wasting my time with all this stuff, well, let me tell you, nothing you could say could tear me away from My Guy (my guy).
(Sorry, couldn’t help myself!)