Story theme: the Magical Companion / Non-human companion

Stories of magic and the supernatural often include a companion who helps, guides, prods, or sometimes rather forcibly plonks the protagonist in the middle of adventure. The companion in question has his, her, or its own agenda and in that, it has some similarities to the evil object which takes over people’s lives: but unlike the evil object story, the magical guide does not coerce or remove free will. Generally speaking, the agenda of the companion is at least morally neutral, if not positively on the side of the protagonist’s best interests. The journey towards a happy ending, though, is not in itself happy all along: often the life of the main character is made decidedly more uncomfortable as the story unfolds.

Normally the companion is clearly magical, maybe right from the start: sometimes she (rarely he) or it seems outwardly normal at first but is found in the thick of things too often for it to be a coincidence. This perhaps is particularly the case where the companion is an animal, such as one of the three(!) examples of magnificent white horses that help protagonists in various ways.

Core examples

The example I think is one of Jinty‘s best for this theme is “Guardian of White Horse Hill”. Janey Summers is an orphan, with foster parents who she is hoping will go on to adopt her. However, life with her new family is not easy, partly because of mean snobbish girls in the local area, partly because of trauma she hasn’t yet got over (badly handled by the adults in question, as usual), and partly because, well, she sees a white horse that no-one else can see. Obviously people start questioning her sanity as well as her temperament, but the horse in question turns out to be Celtic horse goddess Epona. Epona takes Janey back in time more than once, to the Celtic settlement originally located where the modern village is. In the historical time, Janey finds herself in the body of a young priestess facing the peril of a Roman invasion; in the modern time of the story, the village is threatened by a road which is to be built through the village itself. At the priestess’s behest, the Celtic villagers saved themselves by a non-violent path, namely digging a white horse on the hillside; the earth left over from all the digging is swept into the path of the invaders by torrential rain. In parallel in modern times, the path that the villagers were going to take – giving up and giving in – is derailed by Epona, who through Janey’s actions reveals the historical white horse carved on the hill. The villagers are able to declare this a site of special interest and hold off the road-building that way.

Even before Epona takes Janey back in time, she clearly reveals her magic to the reader: no-one else can see the horse apart from Janey, and when she gets on the back of the horse she is invisible to those around her. Ultimately Epona’s actions are in Janey’s interest too: by saving the village, the livelihoods of Janey’s foster parents are secured, but also Janey’s role in bringing that salvation helps to secure her wish to have real, loving parents again. There are uncomfortable moments for Janey along the way: for instance when Epona makes her dismount (so that she can then be seen by anyone who can spot her) just before a big village meeting. Even more so, you could point to the basic fact that making yourself visible to just one person is in itself asking to lead them into trouble – and Epona, magic though she is, is not a talking horse and does not explain herself.

Clear examples of this story theme in Jinty are:

  • “The Valley of Shining Mist” (1975) has a mysterious woman in a mysterious cottage in a mysterious valley – only when the mist fills the valley can the protagonist see the cottage as anything but an old ruin. Debbie is taught music by the woman in the cottage, but more than that, she also learns love and acceptance as Mrs Maynard helps her to change her life.
  • Corn Dolly in “Golden Dolly, Death Dust!” (1975-76), who guides and protects the protagonists in their battles against the evil witch Miss Marvell.
  • The eponymous horse in “Horse From The Sea” (1976) seems initially like a normal (magnificent, unbridled, appearing-out-of-the-blue) white horse, but a tale is recounted part-way through the story that makes it clear that this is the same mysterious horse that throughout centuries has defended the heir of the local estate from danger.
  • The mysterious Malincha in “Sceptre of the Toltecs” (1976-77) is golden-eyed, and inhumanly strong and smart. She needs the help of protagonist Jenny Marlow to fulfill her quest; you could perhaps consider Malincha to be the protagonist herself, but she is so characterless and mysterious that it is hard to see her in that role.
  • In “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag” (1976-79), the magical companion is another inanimate object: well, I say inanimate – the bag in question is given expression by the creases in the leather, giving her a cheeky look. This one is played for laughs too, and as an ongoing humour strip there is less of a clear agenda on the part of Henrietta the hand-bag as there is less of an overall story. Henrietta often helps Sue and gets her out of a pickle, but equally she often lands her in one too.
  • In “Daughter of Dreams” (1979), Sally Carter is a wall-flower until she makes up an imaginary friend, Pauline Starr. Her imagination is so strong she can see her new friend clearly – so clearly in fact that Pauline comes to life! Pauline helps to shake up Sally’s life, first of all by getting her to do more lively things so she can make more friends, and then in the sequel, “Miss Make-believe” (1979), defeating crooks in a stately house caper.
  • Karen finds a ghostly skating instructor in the “Spirit of the Lake” (1979-80): appearing to her as an elegant woman, the spirit is friendly and helpful to Karen in a situation where the girl is otherwise not shown much love or friendship. The skating spirit seems to have little agenda of her own other than to help Karen become a skating champion.
  • “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” (1979-81) has another ghostly companion but is an ongoing humour strip like “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag” (and indeed is drawn by the same artist too).
  • “Sue’s Daily Dozen” (1980) has an inanimate object as the magical companion, making it perhaps a slight stretch from the main theme of the category. Sue finds a book in the old cottage that she has moved into with her sister: the recipes in the book turn out to be more like magic spells, but very positive and homely ones intended to spread positive effects in the local community: sweets turn out to bring the childhood sense of fun back, and a love potion reconciles a quarreling couple. None of the spells are dramatically and clearly magic until the end of the story: the ambiguity of whether the odd effects are coincidental is maintained for quite a while, which is nice. In the end the book is reunited with the cauldron that Granny Hayden had also used, and both items disappear off to be found in the future by another lucky girl.
  • Gabbi is the magical companion in “Her Guardian Angel” (1980-81); literally a guardian angel, this played-for-laughs story has her defending her charge from all sorts of things that are not in fact dangerous. Gabbi has her own agenda: she has to pass a test to earn her wings, and earthbound Roz must therefore temper her normal way of being in order to help this angel who has become a friend.

Not in Jinty: Mistyfan has pointed out the Tracy story Rhoda’s Robot, in which the companion is not magical in origin, but a robot. (It’s a little arguable in my mind as to whether the robot really should be counted as non-magical as she doesn’t behave anything like a ‘realistic’ robot, but still.)

Edge cases

As with the other themes, you can see examples that don’t fit quite as clearly in the category but still have a lot of overlap with it.

  • “Wild Horse Summer” (1974) has (yet another) magnificent wild white horse which changes the protagonist’s life, but this horse really does seem to be a real-life horse who behaves reasonably realistically.
  • “The Zodiac Prince” (1978) in question is definitely magical; he is more protagonist than companion.
  • “Paula’s Puppets” (1978) is a little harder to categorise; I’d say it was a better match with the Evil Object / Supernatural Object theme as the puppets have a less clear agenda of their own, if any.
  • In “Pandora’s Box” (1979) Pandora has a little black magical cat, Scruffy, but he acts like a typical witch’s familiar, not as a magical guide.
  • “Sea-Sister” (1979) has a ghostly/magical character who again is more protagonist than guide or companion.

Related but different

  • There are other stories with animal friends or antagonists – cats, dogs, horses, birds and so forth in stories such as “The Big Cat”, “The Birds”, “Blind Faith”, “The Disappearing Dolphin”, “Finleg the Fox”, “Friends of the Forest”. As with “Wild Horse Summer”, these are animals that are given a generally realistic treatment.
  • Evil object / supernatural object, discussed separately.
  • Mysterious helper: a story type where someone is mysteriously helping the main character, but in a naturalistic way. The particular example in Jinty would be “Diving Belle”, where the protagonist gets training in diving by a female instructor who appears mysteriously and does seem to have more-than-natural knowledge of what is needed (what with being a gypsy, as obviously psychic powers come with that). Nevertheless she is a human and interacts with the main character in a human way.
  • Wish fulfilment: this can be magical/supernatural in nature (“Dance Into Darkness”) or through more naturalistic methods (“Jackie’s Two Lives”, “Kerry In The Clouds”). There is a trigger for the protagonist to have her wish fulfilled but that is not someone who accompanies her throughout the story guiding her.

Other thoughts

Bringing a magical companion into an otherwise ordinary girl’s life is always going to be a popular way to power a story; any reader could hold out a hope that just such a force could enter her own life and help her out with her difficulties. I guess it also makes sense that the writer can’t have the magical companion make things too straightforward for the protagonist as it’d be boring otherwise; the magical companion must therefore challenge or complicate the main character’s life as much as improving it.

Jinty 17 November 1979

Jinty cover.jpg

  • Almost Human (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)
  • Village of Fame (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • My Heart Belongs to Buttons (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Combing Her Golden Hair (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Miss Make-Believe (unknown artist – Merry)
  • Waves of Fear (Phil Gascoine)
  • Black Sheep of the Bartons (artist Guy Peeters)

Another of my favourite Jinty covers, drawn by Jim Baikie. The creepiness of the theme is brilliantly induced by the use of complementary colours with the orange and yellow mesmeric circles around Marvo’s head and the blue background, and the cross-hatching on Sue’s face.

It is, of course from Village of Fame. The story now reaches its penultimate episode, with Marvo using mass hypnotism to mesmerise the whole village into believing that Mr Grand’s TV serial is good for them. Worst of all, Sue Parker, the girl who has opposed Grand all along, is falling under the spell as well. Something needs to happen fast in the next episode!

Almost Human is on its penultimate episode as well. Xenia’s mother has been trying to tell her something important but can’t get through. Then it happens with one of the moons of Xenia’s home planet suddenly exploding! Xenia is distraught, but is it all what it seems?

Combing Her Golden Hair is approaching its climax, with Tamsin running off to Redruthan, her birthplace. We know that soon Tamsin is going to discover what Gran has been keeping from her all these years. Waves of Fear is approaching its climax too, what with Clare’s latest bout of panic getting her expelled thanks to nasty Jean. Priscilla Heath, the only adult who has not been judgemental to Clare, now begins to realise Clare needs serious help. The trouble is, nobody else does. As usual, Clare’s parents react with anger and harshness because they are working on the assumption that she is a coward and delinquent. And in Black Sheep of the Bartons, Bev Barton is in more trouble with her parents as well – and on Christmas Day!

Waves of Fear (1979)

Sample images

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Publication: 22 September 1979 – 15 December 1979
Artist: Phil Gascoine
Writer: Unknown
Reprint: Girl Picture Library 11 as “Moments of Terror”
Summary
Clare Harvey and Rachel Mitchell are the best of friends, and now they are celebrating a special hockey victory. The only one put out is Jean Marlow, a nasty girl who has always hated Clare (presumably because of jealousy). In the cloakroom, Clare suddenly takes a strange turn and has to get out in a hurry.

Later, Rachel wants to take a swim in the pools in a nearby cave. Clare does not feel like it, but Rachel insists. In the cave pool, Rachel runs into trouble. Clare is about to go in after her when an inexplicable panic of walls closing in and waves of fear hit her. They are so terrifying they force her out of the cave, leaving Rachel behind. Outside is Jean, and Clare tells her what is happening, but is too terrified to go back in. Jean rescues Rachel and, having always hated Clare, puts up the word that Clare is a coward who left her friend to drown. Clare now finds herself an outcast at school, with all the girls turning on her and calling her a coward. At home, Clare’s parents are just as condemnatory, and they will get increasingly harsh with her as the story progresses.

The morning assembly is honouring Jean’s heroism. This has Clare thinking of the cave, and as she does so, the same terror starts again. She feels walls closing in on her and she panics, desperate to get out. As she does so, she brings chaos to the assembly and bites a teacher when he tries to restrain her.

Clare tries to visit Rachel in hospital. But the waves of fear and images of that cave overwhelm her again and she has to get out fast. She decides to try writing to Rachel instead.

She heads home and finds the parents angry after the school phoned them about her conduct at assembly. They don’t seem to be concerned when Clare says she now sees that cave everywhere and gets terrified every time she does. They also insist on her going to the hospital to apologise to Rachel, but Clare is too terrified after what happened there already. They don’t listen when she tries to explain this. They go to the hospital themselves, saying they don’t have a daughter anymore.

Next, Clare heads back to the scene of the disaster and finds that even the waves seem to be calling her a coward. She forces her way into the cave to try to understand her panic, but it just starts up again. However, her attempt to get out is blocked by Jean and other girls. Egged on by Jean, they throw Clare into the pool in an act of bullying. Then they get a shock when Clare does not come up, and they discover there is a powerful current below. It looks like Clare is dead because of their bullying. Jean is all for covering up, but the others say she is the coward now and phone the police with the truth.

However, the current merely pulls Clare through into another cave. Once she emerges, the panic grips her again. It takes some fierce scrambling under the rocks for her to get out. As the terror-stricken Clare runs off, she is spotted by a woman who is concerned by the state of mind she is in. She is Priscilla Heath, secretary of the orienteering club. She takes an interest in Clare for the club.

At home the parents find Clare not dead as they all supposed. When the headmistress demands to know why Clare did not report her survival, the parents accuse her of doing it on purpose to spite the girls. They refuse to listen to Clare’s pleas that she had been just too frightened to think of it, and it was their fault for throwing her in to begin with. Nor do they listen to her pleas not to go back to the school because of the bullying and they drag her back there.

In the head’s office the bullies get a fierce dressing down from the headmistress and this has them turning on Jean. But this has Jean turning extra nasty and swearing revenge on Clare, who is still an outcast and a target of bullying. When Jean sees Clare getting the same panic when she gets stuck in the shower cubicle and raving about the cave, she immediately sees how she can get her revenge. Meanwhile, Clare gets heavy detention for biting the teacher.

On a brighter note, Clare joins the orienteering club. Miss Heath knows about the unfortunate business but unlike the others she does not condemn Clare; instead she says there must have been a reason why she panicked. Clare gets the satisfaction of beating Jean in a race, which nobody has ever done before. But of course this has Jean turning even nastier towards Clare.

Rachel’s parents have also turned nasty towards Clare. They have been turning people against her and now they are demanding her expulsion. Outside the head’s office, Clare gives them her letter for Rachel, but unknown to Clare, Mrs Mitchell rips it up. Mrs Mitchell is furious when the headmistress refuses to expel Clare and will not allow Rachel to return until she does so. When the girls hear of this, Jean uses what she saw in the shower cubicle to hatch a plan to get Clare expelled.

Jean locks Clare in the classroom where she is doing detention and turns off the lights to simulate the cave. As Jean planned, this sets Clare off into the panic and, in her desperation to get out, she wrecks the classroom. The headmistress expels Clare. Jean then heads off to tell the Mitchells of Clare’s expulsion. Mrs Mitchell is delighted and will be sending Rachel back to school. Rachel wants more understanding of the whole business and wishes Clare had tried to contact her. She does not know Clare had tried twice and failed.

As Clare runs off, Miss Heath finds her in a dreadful state and Clare explains what happened. And she says she can’t come to the club because of Jean. Miss Heath insists that she does and she will deal with Jean. She tells Clare she needs help.

But at home, Clare’s parents are furious about the expulsion. They tell Miss Heath to go away and ban Clare from the club, despite Clare’s protests that it is the only good thing she has right now. Dad then locks Clare in her room. This sets off another panic and Clare escapes through the window.

Now Clare is on the run, and the police are after her. She makes her way to the orienteering club, where Jean destroys her last joy by wrecking the orienteering club and putting the blame on her. Clare protests her innocence to Miss Heath, who is not sure what to make of Clare’s claims that it was Jean. But she begins to think Clare is sick. However, Clare has run off again. She heads back to the scene of the near-tragedy, where men have now started dynamiting.

Meanwhile, Rachel returns to school. She learns of Clare’s failed bid to write to her, and then how Jean got Clare expelled. She calls Jean a monster and rushes off to tell Clare’s parents. Miss Heath is also there, and upon hearing Rachel’s story she now believes Jean wrecked the club. She also realises that Clare is ill with extreme claustrophobia (the fear of closed spaces). The guilt-stricken parents now realise they have handled Clare the wrong way and notify the police and the school.

The sight of a police car forces Clare back into the cave. Rachel comes in and says she forgives Clare. But then the entrance to the cave collapses because of the dynamiting. Rachel pushes Clare outside but becomes trapped inside. Clare uses the other entrance she discovered to rescue Rachel, braving her claustrophobia and the current to do so. After the rescue, Rachel informs Clare about her claustrophobia.

Clare is reinstated at school and welcomed as a heroine by remorse-stricken classmates. Jean is furious (but there is no mention of her being punished in any way). The rescue of Rachel is regarded as the first step to recovery. It is a long, hard struggle before Clare is well again, but she makes it. And she also makes county orienteering champion.

Thoughts
Phobias have a history of making plot material in girls’ strips. Lara the Loner (Tammy), A Dog’s Life for Debbie (Tracy) Cursed to be a Coward! (Jinty) and Slave of the Trapeze (Sandie) are some  examples. The first deals with ochlophobia (fear of crowds), the second cynophobia (fear of dogs), the third hydrophobia (fear of water) and the fourth acrophobia (fear of heights). Equinophobia (fear of horses) is one phobia that crops up frequently as well, with stories of girls who lose their nerve after riding accidents. Hettie Horse-Hater and Rona Rides Again (Tammy) are among them.

But at least in these stories the heroines know what their fears are. This is not the case with Clare Harvey, who has no idea what these waves of fear are that keep gripping her, and nobody seems to understand what explanations she can manage to give – that she just gets seems to get scared and sees that cave everywhere. But we can see that whatever it is that is overwhelming Clare, it is not cowardice or bad conduct. There can be no explanation for those swirls and flashes around Clare’s head and the inexplicable panic attacks but insanity of some sort. But neither Clare nor the reader knows or understands what it is, which makes it all the more terrifying.

And neither the parents nor school staff are picking up the clues; they are all being too judgemental and harsh because they are all acting on the assumption that Clare is a coward who is becoming badly behaved and violent. But nobody tries to find out why Clare is acting this way, although the headmistress is at a loss to explain why a model pupil with a good school record is suddenly acting so out of character. We wince at the increasing harshness of the parents towards Clare. They even go as far as to show more sympathy to the bullies than to Clare. They call them “poor girls” when it was their fault for bullying Clare and nearly killed her, and also say they cannot even blame all the girls at school for bullying Clare. They don’t even consider taking her out of the school. But really, bullying is bullying. The parents’ attitude is made all the worse that these are supposed to be loving parents (unlike some parents we have met in other serials). The only adult to act with any sense is Miss Heath, who, unlike the others, has not reacted judgementally. It just goes to show that taking a step back and trying to look at things in perspective instead of reacting emotionally can make all the difference.

Seldom have girls’ comics explored the issue of mental illness, but this one does. It is handled in a sensitive, well-researched and written manner that delivers a disturbing warning on the damage authorities can do when they act on assumptions, emotion and quick judgements instead of trying to handle things in an investigative, non-judgemental manner. This is one Jinty story that will linger with you long after reading it because of the issues it explores are issues that are still all-too-relevant, because even today people can make the same mistakes and errors of judgement as the parents and school staff do in this story.

This was not the first Jinty story to have a girl being wrongly branded and bullied as a coward because of a phobia. In 1977, Jinty ran “Cursed to be a Coward!”, where Marnie Miles, a brilliant swimmer, develops intense hydrophobia because a fortune teller frightened her with a prophecy that she will end up in blue water. Marnie thinks this means she will drown. And the fortune teller is out to oblige, by making several attempts to drown Marnie. But Marnie’s classmates don’t understand this and start calling her a coward on top of her other problems. Is it possible that Cursed to be a Coward and Waves of Fear had the same writer, or the former influenced the latter? There are similarities between the stories; two girls are wrongly branded cowards and become targets of bullying because of phobias, and the incidents that caused the phobias are both related to swimming.

Waves of Fear also has similarities with Jinty‘s 1980 story Tears of a Clown. Both stories deal with bullying situations where the school and parents keep failing the girl because they are all making assumptions that she is the one at fault with bad behaviour instead of looking into the situation in an investigative manner. And in both stories, the bullies turn on the ringleader at one point, although she protests (with some justification) that they are to blame as well. So it is possible it was the same writer here as well. It certainly was the same artist – Phil Gascoine drew both stories.

Incidentally, Waves of Fear was reprinted in Girl Picture Library 11 as Moments of Terror. Plenty of old serials from Tammy and Jinty made their way into the Girl Picture Libraries, most of them under revised (and not very good) titles. As the story had to fit into a 64-page booklet, some material had to be deleted. When comparing the original with the reprint, one finds that the Miss Heath segments have been cut out entirely. This leaves only the revelation of how Jean got Clare expelled as the cue that tips the parents (and a strange woman in the panel, now we don’t know her as Miss Heath) as to what is wrong with Clare. This leaves some anomalies in some panels, including the one just mentioned and another that has us wondering why on earth Clare says the business at the club was the last straw. Some of the parents’ harshness has been mercifully cut out as well, such as the segment where they drag Clare back to school. The harassment Rachel’s mother causes by turning people against Clare in the market has also been cut. Some of the bullying (such as Clare finding an egg in her desk and Jean being sent off for fouling), Jean’s vandalism at the orienteering club, and some of the claustrophobia attacks have also been removed.

Jinty & Lindy 12 February 1977

Jinty cover.jpg

  • Dream of Destiny – Gypsy Rose tale (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Sceptre of the Toltecs (artist Cándido Ruiz Pueyo)
  • Made-Up Mandy (artist Audrey Fawley)
  • Freda, False Friend (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • The Big Cat (artist Ana Rodrigues)
  • The Mystery of Martine (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Alley Cat
  • Mark of the Witch! (artist Phil Townsend)

Another of my favourite covers. The panel from the Gypsy Rose tale of haunted woods, warning owls and the eerie, supernatural ambiance is one that lingers with you. The lightning-shaped panels that separate the three images are another hint of what might happen in the story and certainly heighten the mood. The panel with the lavender doll seems a little out of place. Its theme is such a contrast to the supernatural theme. However, the colour composition is a nice use of complementary colours that work well against the colouring in the supernatural panel.

The Gypsy Rose tale is one about listening to your dreams because it can make all the difference. And note the Gypsy Rose image on page one, panel 7. That image is going to be used as a paste up for future Gypsy Rose stories.

This week’s Fun-Bag story features workplace bullying. Sue’s friend Linda has just got a job, but the office head Miss Jones bullies her all the time. The boss had been putting up with that bully for years, but after Henrietta steps in, he finally does what he should have done years ago.

Workplace bullying also causes Made-Up Mandy to don another disguise to help a fellow worker, Nikki. A bully customer has accused Nikki of stealing and got her sacked. Mandy’s now posing as a Balinese dancer to raise much-needed money for Nikki. But can you do Bali dancing, Mandy?

The daily bullying that poor Emma Fielding suffers because of the so-called Mark of the Witch turns into something far worse. Emma tries to put out a fire, but those Kettleby villagers, always willing to believe the worst of her, accuse her of starting it. Their mood is ugly and we’re warned there’s going to be a lynch mob!

In The Mystery of Martine, Tessa tries to explain what is happening to Martine to the playwright, but he doesn’t believe her. And the harassment from Vivien’s possession of Martine is wearing Miss Bond down while a blackmailer is getting ready to add to Tessa’s worries.

Jinty and Lindy 3 July 1976

Jinty and Lindy 3 July 1976

Willa tries to help a fellow patient but, because she can’t walk properly, falls and knocks herself out. The patient could be severely affected by the delay caused by Willa not having just called for help while she could… I have sympathy with the exasperated hospital staff, but the fact they brutally say “you’re incapable of helping now” is rather too strong; it leads to Willa abandoning everything about her life as a nurse, including her old uniform which sinks symbolically into the mud.

This issue has a “Jinx From St Jonah’s” artist that I assume is Mike White; as it is certainly not Mario Capaldi; I am not very familiar with his work, so if someone else is able to confirm the artist I would be grateful. (Capaldi is at this time presumably busy drawing “Champion in Hiding”, that is advertised in this issue as starting in the following week.)

The episode of “The Slave of Form 3B” in this issue has Stacey finding Tania still hypnotised and out cold at the bottom of the wall that she was told to walk on top of – and of course Stacey’s only thought is to hide her so that she doesn’t get the blame! Talk about an anti-hero…

Stories in this issue:

  • Willa on Wheels (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s
  • For Peter’s Sake! (artist Ana Rodrigues)
  • Fran of the Floods (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • The Slave of Form 3B (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Horse From The Sea (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Bridey Below The Breadline (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Then There were 3… (artist Phil Townsend)

Jinty 31 December 1977

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  • Come into My Parlour (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Darling Clementine (artist Richard Neillands)
  • Two Mothers for Maggie (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Guardian of White Horse Hill – final episode (artist Julian Vivas)
  • Snowbound! Gypsy Rose tale (artist Keith Robson)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
  • Alley Cat
  • Race for a Fortune

It is the New Years issue, but not in the new year of 1978. As you can see from the date, Jinty is still on the old year of 1977.

New Year goodies include part one of a pull-out Jinty calendar, and it’s resolution time in Alley Cat. Spotty Muchloot resolves never to let Alley Cat give him the run-around again. He starts off his resolution by giving Alley Cat a bashing while wearing protective gear. But Alley Cat gets the last laugh on Spotty, as usual, and Spotty resolves never to make new year resolutions again. Sounds like a resolution that is more sensible and easier to keep!

The first (Phil Townsend) story for 1978 is Waking Nightmare. It starts in the next issue, replacing White Horse of Guardian Hill, the Jinty story to finish on the last day of 1977. But it will be a while yet before we see other new stories in 1978. The current ones are still going strong and Darling Clementine is only on its second episode.

 

Jinty and Lindy 26 June 1976

Jinty and Lindy 26 June 1976

“Willa on Wheels” is one of those stories where everything is psychologically mis-handled (surprise). After having had the accident which put her in a wheelchair, Willa continues to think of herself as a nurse still, but the hospital is not set up to have a wheelchair bound nurse, let alone one who is supposed to be a patient rather than a staff member. The staff handle the mental transition that Willa needs to make in a very inept way, needless to say, and Willa herself is not being very sensible about it: risking some patients’ lives on the way.

I have not mentioned “Horse From The Sea” much in these issue posts, as it isn’t a story that I remembered very strongly from the time. It is a mystery story with the eponymous horse from the sea cast in the role of magical helper: in this issue we hear the tale of how it appears every time the heir of Penrose is in danger. The mystery is that the heir is, supposedly, someone other than the protagonist, and yet it is to the protagonist that the horse is appearing… The art, by Comos, is beautiful, but the story is only so-so, I feel.

This is the penultimate episode of “Then There were 3…“: the last two brave girls are captured by the criminals and are told all their plans – because it is not expected that they will be found again to tell the tale to the authorities!

Stories in this issue:

  • Willa on Wheels (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Alley Cat
  • For Peter’s Sake! (artist Ana Rodrigues)
  • Fran of the Floods (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • The Slave of Form 3B (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Horse From The Sea (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Bridey Below The Breadline (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Then There were 3… (artist Phil Townsend)

Jinty 24 December 1977

Jinty cover 1.jpg

  • The Spirits of the Trees – Gypsy Rose tale
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Two Mothers for Maggie (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Guardian of White Horse Hill (artist Julian Vivas)
  • Darling Clementine – first episode (artist Richard Neillands)
  • Come into My Parlour (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
  • Alley Cat
  • Race for a Fortune

The cover for the Christmas issue of 1977 features the star of ‘Race for a Fortune’, Katie McNab. Yes, the hairstyle clearly denotes the girl as Katie, not Jinty. In Katie’s story she is trying to outrace her dirty cousins to Yuckiemuckle (yes) to claim the fortune left by their Uncle Ebenezer. Katie must be taking time out from her race to decorate the Christmas cake on the cover. But why did they colour the icing that is dripping out of the back of Katie’s piping bag brown when the icing is clearly blue? It also makes that gob of icing on Katie’s nose look like she’s got a great big zit.

The Gypsy Rose story, while not a Christmas story, has a Christmas feel in its heavy features of fir trees in snowy landscapes. The story could also be said to have a Christmas message, where an aggrieved dryad swears revenge on a forester’s children when the forester cuts down her sister’s tree. But in the end the dryad is persuaded to show mercy and forgiveness when her sister’s spirit says she will reincarnate in a new tree.

Christmas also features in Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag, where Sue gives Henrietta some saddle soap. But this prompt causes trouble when it sets Henrietta to dreaming. We have a Christmas quiz while the letterbox has a Christmas theme, and there are instructions for making a Christmas pixie on the back cover. Several of the logos in the stories have been given Christmas themes (snow, holly), but not all. Land of No Tears, Guardian of White Horse Hill and Come into My Parlour don’t. Maybe it’s because they have darker themes. And poor Alley Cat wakes up starving on Christmas Day and not a bite to eat! He goes in search of some food, and eventually he buys a Christmas feast with reward money after he foils a robbery.

And for a Christmas present we have a new story, Darling Clementine. Ella Peters has been having a rough time because she is a shy person and just lost her mother. Things look up when Uncle Dave and cousin Clementine (Clem) find her. But Uncle Dave develops a lung disease from the smoky mining town and Clem is determined to win a water-skiing contest to raise the money for a cottage in a healthy environment. This can only be the beginning of the troubles that Clem and Ella are going to face in this story. And we also suspect that shy Ella is going to learn about courage and confidence – but the hard way!

 

Jinty 17 June 1978

Jinty cover.jpg

  • Dance into Darkness – first episode
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Alley Cat
  • Knight and Day
  • The Zodiac Prince (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Clancy on Trial (artist Ron Lumsden)
  • Slave of the Swan (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Cathy’s Casebook (artist Terry Aspin)

This must be one of Jinty‘s most colourful covers and is another of my favourites for that reason. It of course introduces us to a new serial, Dance into Darkness. It is the first of Jinty‘s disco-themed serials and one to touch on Goth with hints of vampires in the name of the disco, “Bats Disco”. During the course of the story we don’t get vampires exactly, but the vampire theme can be felt throughout. You will never see night, darkness or night-time creatures the same way again. Nor will Della Benson, the heroine of this story.

Child abuse features heavily in this issue. The rainbow seems even further away when Dorrie and Max Peters go to another foster home. Their new foster-mother, Mrs Soper, seems a suitable one to the welfare authorities, but Max and Dorrie soon find out she is anything but! In Knight and Day, uncaring Mum wants Pat to take a paper round because the family is having trouble making ends meet (yeah, riiiight). Pat is upset because this will cut into her diving coaching. The Swan has the Slave so wound up on that lie (which she has spread all over the school) that she is an arsonist that the Slave is trembling as she lights a fire. And someone is definitely trying to scare the Slave with that Swan costume – the Slave has found the evidence. In Cathy’s Casebook, Cathy tries to help “Dopey” Denis, but finds that even his family bully him for his apparent lack of wit. And Grandad’s latest test for Clancy may be going too far when it has her turning up at school in a dustcart and the headmistress putting a call to him.

 

Dance into Darkness (1978)

Sample Images

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Publication: 17 June 1978 – 30 September 1978

Artist: Unknown

Writer: Unknown (but see below)

Marionette has done such an excellent summation and analysis on this serial over at her Tammy blog that I feel I can scarcely improve upon it. The link can be found here.

Essentially, Della Benson envies the disco dancing ability of Rozelle and wishes she could dance like that. Rozelle tells Della that she will be able to – if she is willing to pay the price. Della assumes this means dancing lessons, but we know it means something even more sinister.

No, it isn’t Della’s soul. The price is that Della must carry the curse that Rozelle’s family has suffered since Medieval times. It is a curse that turns the victim into a creature of darkness. They can only live in the dark. There are advantages, such as being able to see in the dark and attracting night creatures. But they cannot stand light, which blinds them, and they  cannot even function in the daytime without wearing dark glasses. For Della, there is an additional problem with the curse – whenever she hears disco music, she cannot stop dancing until it stops. This gets her into a lot of trouble, such as wrecking a record shop and getting suspended from school.

There is no cure for the curse (and no origin given either), but the curse can be passed on to another person – in exchange for something that person wants. But will Della be able to find such a person? More to the point, will she be able to bring herself to pass it on? Or will she be under the curse of darkness forever?

On a side note, I wonder if Jay Over wrote this story. Della not being able to stop dancing when she hears disco music has echoes in Slave of the Clock, a story that Over wrote for Tammy in 1982. Here, Allison Thorne cannot stop dancing (ballet dancing this time) whenever she hears the ticking of a clock after she meets a ballet mistress with hypnotic powers.