Jinty 9 November 1974

Jinty cover 19741109

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mike White)
  • Jackie’s Two Lives (artist Ana Rodrigues)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • Left-Out Linda (artist Jim Baikie) – last episode
  • Wild Horse Summer
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Always Together… (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Slave of the Mirror (artist Carlos Freixas) – first episode
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)

I should have posted this one earlier in the month as a timely Guy Fawkes story, but never mind – Katie makes a sparkling guy herself, as she points out! She tries to help some local kids raise money for some fireworks and a bonfire, but in the end her jinxing gets the kids into a posh local bonfire party in an unexpected way. This is a one-off story but next week another serialised story arc will start up, about Katie’s sailor father returning from sea.

In “Jackie’s Two Lives”, Jackie Lester has promised to come along to her mother’s birthday get-together, but we know that she will make some excuse to get out of it. The alternative life that Mrs Mandell is offering her is just too tempting – this week it involves a flight to Paris to have a dress made for her… And the mystery deepens, as the couturier says he has been making clothes for Mrs Mandell’s daughter since she was a small child!

Merry is once more seeing the Warders of Misery House setting the inmates against each other. New joiner Violet initially lies to get Merry into trouble, leading Miss Ball to identify her as a potential monitor – but the stratagem applied by the wardens to get Viola to commit to them once and for all is a step too far, and Viola joins Merry’s pack in the end.

It’s the last episode of “Left-Out Linda”, and she is working hard – and hand-in-hand with her stepfather’s mother (‘Gran’ to you). It’s really nice to see the protagonist getting appropriate support to clear up the mess she has made – even if she still has to do a lot of the work herself, of course. It all ends happily, with Linda having the second chance she has come to want, and to deserve.

Daphne, who can’t talk, is trapped down a mine shaft; her only hope is the wild horse she has befriended. Will the white mare help to rescue her, next week?

“Always Together…” has the three Harvey kids struggling to avoid detection – this time by persuading some scouts that the cave they are living in is nothing but a ‘leaky hole’. The next challenge is that brother Johnny has to tackle his jealousy of boys who live in a real house; some neat psychology by eldest sister Jilly has things working more smoothly. It seems as if their lives can go along this track for a while, but will they get derailed some time?

It is the first episode of “Slave of the Mirror”, drawn by the stylish Freixas. Mia Blake is trapped by the mysterious mirror before she gets much further than the first page of the story; but then, she is already grumpy and resentful at being ‘a glorified skivvy’ in her sister’s boarding house, which hardly helps.

Jinty & Penny 24 January 1981


Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • The Ghost Dancer (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Race against Time – Gypsy Rose story
  • Behind the Screen – Minder
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
  • No Medals for Marie (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Alison Christie)
  • Winning Ways 42 – Netball (writer Benita Brown)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine (artist Mario Capaldi)

The red, green and yellow colourings on the cover make it a standout. The winter sport on the cover blends in with the winter months when the issue came out.

It is the final episode of Pam’s current story, where she sets out to prove her cousin Veronica is a big fraud. And she sure needs proof, because even her best friend Tracy doubts her.

Ferne’s secret dancing in the ruins sets off funny rumours in the ballet school. And it can only get worse with Ferne secretly roaming around the school while deciding to carry on with her deception to punish her father.

Sir Roger’s mother descends on Stoney Hall. She is a dragon who haunted Sir Roger while he was alive and is now haunting him in death. But she has nothing on Gaye.

Tansy tries out for the school choir – just to get out of French lessons – but everyone is running a mile when they hear her sing.

Things are really stepping up in “Land of No Tears” when Cassy hears about the Golden Girl Award and decides that winning it is the only way to get better treatment for the Gammas, who are subject to indignities such as eating only scraps from the Alpha girls’ plates. And now she’s discovered a way into the Alpha girls’ gym for secret training.

Marie saves a boy’s life, but has to refuse the medal for bravery because of her jealous godmother, who says “No Medals for Marie” or no inheritance of her hall that Marie’s sick brother badly needs to live in.

It’s netball vs basketball in a stuffy boys’ school in “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”. But it’s disco that wins the day (while the coaches aren’t looking).

And the Gypsy Rose tale is another recycled Strange Story, about an odd case of time travel during a marathon drive that sets a guilty conscience at rest.

Jinty & Penny 19 July 1980

Jinty cover 19 July 1980

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • The Venetian Looking Glass – final episode (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • A Spell of Trouble (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • A Light for the Loyal – Gypsy Rose story (artist Bill Mainwaring)
  • Behind the Screen – Top of the Pops (feature)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Minnow (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Winning Ways 18 – Javelin (writer Benita Brown)
  • Blind Faith (artist Phil Townsend)

This issue sees the conclusion of the Venetian Looking Glass – and one of the most gruesome panels to appear in Jinty when Lucy opens her namesake’s coffin to put in the things to lay her ghost, and is revolted by the sight of her skeleton.

Pam has realised one of her classmates is shoplifting and doesn’t know what to do. And to make matters worse, Pam was given one of the shoplifted items, but trying to return it quietly has gotten her into trouble with the shop management, who think she stole the item!

Tansy is in the doghouse after she loses her neighbour’s treasured memories. Even the teachers at school are rubbing her nose in it. Fortunately the treasures are recovered and it turns out they weren’t all that lost. But in “Blind Faith”, Clare has an even more heartbreaking loss – her dog Caesar, who has accidentally been shot dead.

In “Minnow”, Minna’s swimming teacher decides it’s time to ask Minna’s mother what light she can shed on Minna’s strange panics in the pool – but she doesn’t know Minna is swimming behind her mother’s back, so Minna’s secret is in danger!

The Gypsy Rose story recycles another Strange Story, about how will o’ the wisp saves a fugitive from Norman invaders. But the panels of Gypsy Rose that replace the Storyteller must rank as one of the worst instances of Jinty artwork ever.

In “A Spell of Trouble” Carrie gets even more infuriated with her gormless cousin Angela when Angela tries to impose her taste in television upon her – a cartoon called Marmaduke Mouse (oh, really, Angela, at your age!) instead of the pop programme that is Carrie’s favourite.

Sir Roger is not impressed with Americans – and even less so when a Texan wants to buy Stoney Hall and ship it to Texas! We have to wait until next week to find out what Sir Roger and Gaye do to prevent this. And haunting the Texans won’t work because they love having “a real English spook!”.

Rebellion’s Ben Smith on the forthcoming new Misty collection

The recent news that Rebellion will be reprinting a volume of material from Misty has caused a lot of excitement. It’s not only fans of Misty that are excited about this news; as fans of the excellent, thrilling, and often subversive stories from girls’ comics of the time we are glad to know that fresh eyes are being cast over these publications. And as keenly interested readers, we are prone to asking ourselves how those stories would fare in today’s publishing market, if done properly (unlike the nostalgia-focused recent outings that a small selection of content has had). This republication promises a lot of interest therefore, in many ways!

I caught up with Ben Smith, Head of books and comic books for Rebellion Publishing, who kindly answered the below questions.

Can you tell us a little more about how you chose the two stories you did? ‘Moonchild’ and ‘The Four Faces of Eve’ are known to be favourites of Pat’s, of course, but coming to them as both a fresh pair of eyes and as an experienced publisher, what qualities would you highlight in particular?

In selecting the stories for this collection these two are the obvious big hitters; my understanding is that at the time the Four Faces of Eve and Moonchild would regularly to top the readers’ polls. Kids were encouraged to fill out a small form in the back of the comic and post it back to the publisher so that the editorial team know what was going down well with the readers.

This material was created for a very different publishing market and in different times. Do you see there being any/many adjustments needed, either in production terms (do today’s readers demand colour rather than black and white?), or in elements of the story itself?

As with all our collections of archive material, we aim to produce as stunning a book as possible. This year we have gone back to the same era as Misty with the Dan Dare strips from 2000 AD, producing the definitive volume of that material on high quality paper and after painstaking reprographics work on each individual page to ensure the arts looks at good as possible. We’re applying the same techniques here. Although this will be a paperback release, the quality of the book and the design work that goes into it will be set to our highest standards. Simply put, there’s no point putting something second rate into today’s busy marketplace. We won’t be introducing anything new, like colour or altered lettering, as we have found that presenting the work as it was originally conceived always delivers the strongest result and is what is expected by today’s readers.

The intriguing words ‘The first volume of Misty material’ are used in the press release. What results would you say could lead to this establishing itself as a publishing line – critical success, sales success, perhaps even current creators who are inspired to produce similar material?

We won’t know until this volume is out, but the response to the announcement has been great and if the book does perform well I’m sure we’ll be looking further into the archives. As for inspiring new creators, that’s down to the material itself, but I already know from chatting to Jonathan Ross at the San Diego Comic Con that Jane Goldman, one of the most successful screenwriters in the UK currently and Ross’s wife, that Misty was a big influence on her.

The first two stories chosen are ones where we know both writer and artist, which is not the case in many of the stories printed at the time in girls’ titles, whereas 2000AD has credited creators from the start. For any future stories chosen, would it be important to you as publishers to identify all the creators? Would certain editorial selections be discouraged if that information is not forthcoming?

We would certainly want to credit the creators, but sad to say it’s not always possible. 2000 AD’s editorial team led the way in the 1970s in getting creator credits into the comic but that was just nine months after 2000 AD launched, and even now we sometimes cannot find out who authored some of the very early material, simply because no records were kept and if there is no memory of it among the other creators we speak to then that information is, sadly, gone. If the stories are strong enough, not knowing the creator would certainly never prevent us from including the material, no.

Would you see any possible horizon stretching out ahead where you would look at the content in other titles beyond Misty, or would you consider the historic and thematic linkage of that title with 2000AD as a key reason to stick to Misty in particular?

I am happy to say there will be another announcement shortly about another non-2000 AD collection, so keep a look out for that. Naturally when we look at material and consider if we can publish successfully, existing links with 2000 AD makes that task easier.

Many thanks again to Ben Smith for this email interview.

One-offs, series, returning characters, regulars

The Goods News for All Readers blog has recently done a Halloween post about Misty; in the comments on that post, and on a related post on the Comics UK forum, a few of us have had a brief discussion about one-off stories, series, and regular characters. Different titles create different balances between the various kinds of comics: Misty has always struck me as having a strong focus on one-off (complete) stories in a way that Jinty didn’t, so that is an obvious comparison between the two, but there are other groupings that could be usefully looked at too.

One-off stories / complete stories haven’t ever been a big focus in the pages of Jinty, except for in annuals or summer specials which are by their nature reliant on complete reads. Indeed, I wonder whether the two examples that come readily to mind – “Mimi Seeks A Mistress” and “Holly and the Ivy” – might have been originally written for publication in an annual and for whatever reason then been included in the weekly comic instead?

If you ask someone who was a reader of Misty at the time for specific stories they remember from the comic, they may well mention some key serials but they are perhaps even more likely to remember the spine-chilling stories. Clearly, one-off or complete stories have important strengths: this format allowed Misty to be tougher on the protagonists than an ongoing story would typically be. Indeed, many of the Misty stories featured character death – or even a worse fate! You can also have a huge amount of variety with complete stories, with the rapid turnover allowing creators potentially to experiment with a lot of different themes or plots. On the down side, they don’t allow enough narrative time for much character development, and I suspect that can lead to a focus on clever ‘twist in the tale’ story structures. (I personally felt like Misty placed too much reliance on this at certain points in its life.)

‘Storyteller’ / framed stories are stand-alone stories that still fit into some sort of structure or framing sequence. Gypsy Rose is Jinty‘s most obvious example, but I would also classify “Is This Your Story?” and “Thursday’s Child” within this as being complete stories that may not have a narrator but do have a constraining element to them that means you have a certain sense of knowing ‘what you’re getting’. In a Gypsy Rose story you know you’ll have a spooky element, but also a sense of safety; the protagonist won’t herself suffer an awful fate. In 2000AD‘s “Future Shocks” there was no such guarantee, but you did know it would generally be an SF story rather than a horror story or a morality tale (as “Is This Your Story?” was).

Both the entirely stand-alone and the framed stories have the advantage editorially of great flexibility – they can be run in any order so it doesn’t matter if one story is not ready for printing that week, you can try out new artists and writers, you can try out new directions and ideas. This flexibility can also lead to problems – the results can be uneven in quality or interest level, or overly repetitive. I would also say that to my mind they’re a bit too easy to put down and not feel that motivated to pick up again – even if you know that Gypsy Rose or Future Shock stories are generally really good, to me they don’t have the “must read” factor that a cliff-hanger ending to an earlier episode gives.

Serial stories are Jinty‘s bread-and-butter, but if you count up the number of series in a given issue it is not given over totally to them: 23 February 1980, for instance, has 5 serials out of 8 stories in comics format. I am here using the phrase ‘serial stories’ meaning stories that run over more than one week with a beginning/middle/end narrative structure. The way the ‘end’ element works is important because Katie Jinx or the Four Marys also have stories with endings, but they aren’t final – we know that next week they’ll be back with more, which is what makes them ‘regulars’.

A serial story has a lot of degrees of freedom: it can be a story about a ghost or a horse or a superheroine (or maybe a ghost horse or a horse superheroine). What it can’t easily do is change tack dramatically once the story starts; the start of the story sets it into certain tracks and certain expectations. The strength of the serial is the length of time that it has to develop a story and to really hammer it home, or to twist and turn surprisingly. It also has the freedom to change the situation of the characters in the story: it can end with them healed, or vindicated, or with the protagonist growing as a person. A complete one-off story doesn’t have enough length to develop that sense of change, and we often don’t know enough about the character to even care that much if they grow into a better person. A story with a regular character, contrariwise, has to ‘reset’ at the end of each episode or each multi-episode story, so that as the next story starts it can pick up more or less from the beginning again.

There are still weaknesses in the serial story format, of course. It can get too long and lose its way; it can be too short to let itself develop properly while not benefiting from the punchiness of the self-contained story.

Jinty also has a couple of cases of returning characters, where the original series gets a second, follow-up story. There aren’t many of these – “Fran’ll Fix It!” gets a second run, and so does “Daughter of Dreams”. Each story is a complete serial in itself, but because the character or the story was popular, they returned for another go. One option would be to reprint the original story, which Jinty did a few times; but if the story structure allowed it then a whole new follow-up story might also a possibility. Some stories would be better suited to this than others – a sequel to “Land of No Tears” wouldn’t be impossible to imagine but would require quite a lot of changes (someone from the dystopian future travelling back to the past, perhaps?), while a sequel to “The Robot Who Cried” wouldn’t be that hard at all to do (her adventures at school as an acknowledged robot, and how other people reacted once she had no secrets left to hide?).

A regular character may have short complete stories like “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag” or individual longer story runs as in “No Tears for Molly“. Either way there is no real change in or development of the character over the time her story runs. “Merry at Misery House” was also basically a regular, with story arcs; you don’t really get a sense of a planned resolution that Merry was struggling to reach from the start of her story, it’s just… time to wrap up the story so her mum and dad announce that her name has been cleared, bang.

They can be great fun reads, with a real comfort factor – we can get to know the characters well, and look forward to seeing them again, like old friends. That is really the draw of regulars; like reading a beloved Chalet School book, we know what we are getting and that we will enjoy it. The characters can develop some strong external recognition, too – the interviewees in Mel Gibson’s “Remembered Reading” consistently mentioned long-running regulars “The Four Marys”, and “Bella” from Tammy.

On the down side? If the reader just isn’t that interested in the character in the first place, or doesn’t find their antics funny, it ain’t likely to change for the better… The main counter-example I can think of in this area is 2000AD and Judge Dredd in particular: he is a regular who has turned into a proper, fleshed-out character with a backstory, a life, and unpredictability. Through him now, all sorts of stories can be told. The Four Marys changed their uniforms and were updated to become more modern on the surface, but never changed their fundamental natures – and that is much more the usual case with regulars.

At the end of the day, a weekly publication needs a balance of different types of story, not just thematically, but also structurally. There are other types of story structure that I don’t know of within girls comics: is there an example anywhere of the Buffy tv story structure, where individual self-contained stories build up in an overall arc to a series finale? I’m sure there are other kinds of structure in girls’ comics and elsewhere: what can others think of?

Edited to add: I have thought of another kind of story structure – Worldbuilding, or Shared worlds. This is where the reader is shown an imagined world that is developed in story after story. Perhaps one set of creators are mostly responsible for writing and drawing that world, or maybe a number of different creators add their own influences to the world. In traditional British comics, I guess that Dan Dare inhabits this sort of built world, though I’m not that sure as to how much of the world we see outside of stories focused on Dare himself; it is at least a strong enough world in itself for Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes to develop their own take on it in Revolver’s “Dare“. 2000AD does a lot of this worldbuilding: what else is Judge Dredd’s universe of Megacities, isocubes, and the Cursed Earth? But in traditional girls’ comics I’m not sure I can think of any examples. This is a big shame I think as this would provide not only very fertile ground for telling stories but also a lot of ongoing reader loyalty in the way that 2000AD has seen over the years – eventually even moving into mainstream acceptance.

Edited further: Lorrbot points out in the comments that there are also examples of Spin offs, where the characters in the original story generate stories with further characters from that setup. It may not be the same case as Worldbuilding, if there is no very obvious effort to invent a whole new world different from ours, but it shares some characteristics with this.

Jinty 3 August 1974

Cover 19740803

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Always Together… (writer Alison Christie, artist Phil Townsend)
  • Gwen’s Stolen Glory last episode
  • Make-Believe Mandy (artist Ana Rodrigues)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Gail’s Indian Necklace (artist Phil Gascoine) last episode
  • Wild Horse Summer first episode
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)

Katie Jinks and friends are investigating mysterious gleams in the water near where they are camping, and find traces of frogmen’s footprints; but as they try to investigate further they are stymied and come to believe that it is all down to Katie’s  foolishness. Katie knows she is right, and follows the frogmen down into the depths – only to get trapped, with her air running out!

The Harvey children need to stick together, when their widowed mother fails to come home from work one day. Eldest child Jill – only 15 or so – tries to hold it all together, even in the wake of a body being found in the river. Her younger brother Johnny understands the situation at least somewhat, but Beth, the baby of the family, heartbreakingly doesn’t really understand what’s happening and says that Jill can pretend to be mummy until her real mummy comes back… In the meantime, they have to find somewhere to live, meaning that they return back to their old digs despite the fact that the houses are ready to be pulled down.

“Gwen’s Stolen Glory” comes to an end, dramatically: by climbing down the cliff in front of Judith, Gwen has triggered Judith’s memory. The shock of its return makes Judith fall down the cliff though, so it is not an identical repeat of the first time – in fact it repeats itself the other way round, as Gwen helps Judith to climb back up the cliff, to safety. The astounding fact of having managed to be brave for once leads Gwen to be able to confess – first to her parents, and then to the whole school. Everything is forgiven and forgotten.

In “Make-Believe Mandy”, she is told by the mysterious Miss Madden that she passed her second test despite disobeying instructions – by proving that her compassion is greater than her self-interest. But Mandy is also downcast to hear that her sister Dinah is also to be tested alongside her. Will she now take Mandy’s one chance of happiness from her?

Merry is trying to cheer up her pals at Misery House by using scraps of material to put on a variety concert – but bully Adolfa is about to put the twist on shrinking girl Lily. Will she give the game away? Find out next week…

It’s the last episode of “Gail’s Indian Necklace”, too. She’s in a tight spot, literally, but the Indian god helps her to get to the point of putting the necklace back where it belongs, even to the extent of working on the security guards’ minds so that they open the special glass case that the god-statue is kept behind… and even helps her escape in the end too. To prove that the god isn’t all bad, she even gets a new bicycle as a reward – the very thing that kicked off the whole story in the first place. Not sure that it’s enough of a reward for all that she has been through, but hey!

“Wild Horse Summer” starts this week, drawn by the same artist as has just finished “Gwen”. Daphne has been in a tragic car accident in which her parents were killed, and she has lost her voice and is in an orphanage as a result. The ‘wild’ in the title refers to her, really; because she can’t speak and is frankly still traumatised, she resorts to violence when threatened. Not that her carers are really all that caring; they put her in a coach to go on a trip despite her still being badly affected mentally by the car crash she was in. At the end of the episode, she has arrived in the countryside; the only thing the orphanage kids are warned of is a horse on the moor that they need to leave alone – because it too is wild. Chances of Daphne leaving alone? Not very high…

Jinty 27 July 1974

Cover 19740727

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Always Together… (writer Alison Christie, artist Phil Townsend) first episode
  • Gwen’s Stolen Glory
  • Make-Believe Mandy (artist Ana Rodrigues)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • The Snobs and the Scruffs
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Gail’s Indian Necklace (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • A Dream for Yvonne (artist Miguel Quesada) last episode
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)

Katie Jinks starts a new story this week, with pratfalls and slapstick, but that is combined with an exciting story whereby there are mysterious ‘hostile eyes watching’. The sunken village near to where the girls are camping has a tale for them!

This is the first episode of “Always Together…”, which is the first time that Phil Townsend’s lovely artwork has graced the pages of Jinty. It is also the first story by Alison Christie that appears in Jinty. The combination is always an excellent one; tear-jerking stories are not my main reading preference but the two creators together do us proud on this one, and on the later “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. There is quite a lot of thematic overlap between the two but a number of years separate their publication. Here are the pages of the first episode, to whet your appetite for a future story post sometime.

Always Together pg 1

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Gwen is coming to the end of her story: this is the penultimate episode, and she has to struggle with her strong desire for the new life that seems very much in her grasp – which she feels more and more could be costing her soul. Her only answer seems to be a climb down the very cliff that caused the situation in the first place…

In “Make-Believe Mandy”, evil sister Dinah is plotting with her father to take away the possible future that lies ahead of Mandy. Meanwhile, Mandy is still working on Miss Madden’s tests – has she passed or failed the most recent one?

Merry is trying to keep chirpy and the Warden continues to try to divide the girls from each other. At the end of this episode it seems as if the powers that be might have won, by making Merry sign a guarantee of good conduct.

Gail is also very near the end of her story – she makes it to the museum to return the idol’s necklace, but it’s not as easy as just getting in! Hopefully the idol’s powers will help her, when she trips one of the electronic alarms and brings the security guards running… The next episode is promised to be the final one.

Yvonne has reached the end of her story in this issue; she is vindicated in her struggle agains her ballet school rival, who is proved to be a liar and a schemer. Having also regained her memory and made up with her family, all that remains to do now is to indulge her love of and talent for dancing! This is the only story in Jinty with Miguel Quesada’s artwork, though he drew various stories and cover images for Tammy in particular.

Pam of Pond Hill (1979-1984)

Sample images

Pam 1

Pam 2

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Pam 3

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Pam 4

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Publication: 15/12/79 to 21/11 1981. Merged with Tammy 28/11/1981 and ran until 23/6/84

Artist: Bob Harvey

Writer: Jay Over

There is nothing like Pam of Pond Hill in the entire run of Jinty – or for that matter, in the history of girls’ comics.

In the wake of Grange Hill, Pam of Pond Hill was one of the pioneers in a new form of regular – the soap opera – blazing a bold trail for The Comp (Nikki/Bunty), School’s Out! (Bunty), and Penny’s Place (M&J/Bunty) to follow. Pam was even bolder to feature a mixed comprehensive school when Jinty, like all other girls’ comics, featured single-sex schools. It even featured boyfriends, mainly in the form of Pam’s boyfriend Danny “Goofy” Boyle, when boys were still peripheral figures in girls’ comics rather than the boyfriends who would be commonplace in the rival DC Thompson titles in later years. Mind you, Goofy seems to be more of a friend than a boyfriend per se – perhaps it’s because they were first years and a bit young for serious dating.


Pam Watts brings us stories of what happened when she was a first-year at Pond Hill Comprehensive. These usually deal with bullies, problem pupils, teachers, family and friendship problems, brushes with the law, accidents and catastrophes, school trips, Christmas chaos, and even the occasional hint of the supernatural. They’re all told in in Pam’s own words and her own language, which adds a touch of humour and realism that DCT soaps like The Comp can’t match. The opening panel where Pam starts narrating is similar to that of Bessie Bunter, except that it is not a joke at herself that sets the theme for the entire episode. In fact, some of her introductory boxes have a serious tone. Nor does Pam actually recap what has happened so far in the story as a text box would. No, it’s just a line or two that is a carryover from the last episode and sums up what to expect in the current episode. For example: “Some people have bats in the belfry, but I’ve got a teacher in the attic! [Pam’s teacher has started renting the flat above her family’s] When I started at the comprehensive, Miss Peeble was our form teacher, and a right hash she made of it.”

Pam is being self-critical over her schoolwork.
Pam is being self-critical over her schoolwork.

One of the biggest strengths of Pond Hill is the realism of the stories, which clearly draw on true-life situations. In the very first story, the problem is Miss Peeble, who is clearly inexperienced, lacking confidence and consequently finding it difficult to control her class. Consequently the class larrikins, Fred Finch and Terry Jones, make great sport of her and Mr Gold the headmaster threatens to sack her if she can’t get her act together. Featuring a teacher who is being bullied is a very rare thing seen in girls’ comics, yet it is all too common in real life. Another story features a girl who starts shoplifting – not because she is a bad sort or light-fingered – it is because she is desperately lonely and doesn’t make friends easily, so she is trying to buy friendship by presenting gifts to classmates – gifts that come from her shoplifting. Added to that, she has an unhappy home life, including an abusive father. Indeed, unhappy home lives and problems at home feature a great deal with the more problem classmates. For example, the reason Terry picks on Miss Peeble so much and behaves so badly in class is the bad influence of his brother Stan – but it turns out this is because he thinks teachers are battle-axes as they picked on him for being a slow learner. However, when Pam shows Stan what a ‘battle axe’ Miss Peeble is, he is so knocked out by her that the two of them start dating, and he tells Terry to lay off Miss Peeble. Thereafter, Fred, Terry and Miss Peeble get on well, although the two boys remain the class layabouts and never put on school uniform, despite the uniform inspections of the severe headmaster Mr Gold (ironically nicknamed “Goldilocks”, because he is bald).

Another strength that makes Pam so enduring to readers, and gives her one edge over her competitors, is that Pam narrates her stories herself in a realistic, humorous, chirpy manner that sounds like a real kid talking. Indeed, Pam is the only Jinty character to narrate her own stories. This is another thing that makes Pam different from the other soap opera features, which are told from neutral standpoints and can focus on any character in the regular, whether it’s the bullies or the protagonists. The Pam stories are told from her viewpoint and in her language, which makes it a bit difficult to develop other characters because it cannot shift to their points of view. But reading the stories from Pam’s point of view makes her strip so funny and engaging. And Pam’s dialogue is so witty that she has been used in memorable Jinty features, most notably “Pam’s Poll” in 1980.

Pams Poll 2Pams Poll 3

(click thru)

And there is the humour of it all that always guarantees a laugh, whether it is the artwork of Bob Harvey, the characters, the dialogue or the zaniness, while other soap opera strips such as The Comp were played straight. Even the feared Mr Gold has the odd moment where he becomes the butt of jokes, such as when a council worker tells him off for not following regulations or when he gets paint on his pants because he sat on a chair the kids had just painted. Elsewhere, one teacher has been locked in the storeroom by a jealous junior while another was arrested by the French police who mistook him for a kidnapper. And it could only happen in Pam of Pond Hill – it is highly unlikely that those kinds of things could ever happen to, say Grim Gertie from The Comp.

Mag 1Mag 2Mag 3Mag 4Mag 5Mag 6

(click thru: from Jinty holiday special)

Some humour, and even some of the stories, arise from Pam’s own lack of academic talent. For example, English teacher Miss Canter thinks it is a joke when Pam declares she wants to pursue a career in journalism because she is showing little promise of it with her English work. Pam’s determination to prove Miss Canter wrong eventually leads to the foundation of the school magazine “The Pond Hill Print Out”. In another story, the sewing teacher sneers at Pam’s attempt at needlework. This has Pam persuading Mr Gold to have the boys and girls swap sewing and woodwork classes, and the sewing teacher is on the verge of resigning after trying to teach the boys to sew.

Pam 1Pam 2Pam 3Pam 4

(Click thru: exam nerves, from Tammy annual 1985)

It is no wonder that when Pam of Pond Hill was taken out briefly in 1981, the editor’s invitation to readers to bring her back was hugely popular and proved successful. Part of it may have been the upcoming merger with Tammy, and Pam was the Jinty character who endured in the merger, lasting right through until the last issue of Tammy. It is sad that Pam’s last story, the story of her first home computer, was cut off due to Tammy’s abrupt disappearance from a strike and never finished. Pam was such a powerful and popular character that she might have carried on in Girl, if Tammy had been allowed to merge with her.

Jinty 22 December 1979


  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost – first episode (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Christmas Sweets and Nuts – feature
  • Spirit of the Lake – first episode (artist Phil Townsend, writer Benita Brown?)
  • Alley Cat
  • Tale of the Panto Cat
  • Toni on Trial (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Sports Pages – Tessa Sanderson
  • White Water (artist Jim Baikie)
  • When Statues Walk… – first episode (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Black Sheep of the Bartons – final episode (artist Guy Peeters, writer Alison Christie)

My copy of this issue is so badly doodled from a previous owner that I had to go to Catawiki for a scan of the cover to put up. Thank you, Catawiki!

This issue starts Jinty’s Christmas fun, yet the three new stories that start in this issue all have ghost themes. The most significant of them is perhaps “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost”. Sir Roger and his fellow ghosts are outraged at how tourism and commercialism at Stoney Hall are destroying their respectability as ghosts. The other two resident ghosts walk out to haunt a nice quiet graveyard, but the Shop-Steward of Amalgamated Association of Resident Ghosts and Haunters (A.A.R.G.H!) gives Sir Roger the power to materialise sometimes so he can really put a scare into those pesky tourists. Sir Roger is all eager to start with Gaye, the caretaker’s daughter who is the worst of them all – but the blurb for next week hints that it’s not going to be as easy as that.

“When Statues Walk…” is the ghost story that really sets out to be scary. North Street has a reputation for being haunted, and weird things start happening when workings start there. Then the screaming really starts when Laura takes home some broken pottery from the site and reassembles the pieces. But it’s not her that’s screaming – it’s the Viking head that the pieces have made!

And the third ghost story is “Spirit of the Lake”, a supernatural companion story where the ghost offers coaching in skating as well as comfort to Karen Carstairs, who is not made to feel welcome in the home of her relatives.

It’s the last episode of “Black Sheep of the Bartons”. Bev was resorting to the desperate measure of quitting judo to gain her father’s trust. But now fate has enabled her to prove herself to him without giving up her beloved judo, and she’s a heroine too! And the ghost theme continues with a complete Christmas ghost story that will fill Bev’s old slot, and then a new story starts for New Year.

In part two of “Pam of Pond Hill”, Miss Peeble is having trouble finding her feet as a teacher. Fred and Terry take advantage to give her a bad time while Pam tries to help her, but it’s got her branded as teacher’s pet.

In “Tale of the Panto Cat”, Verna gets so spiteful at wrecking the Cinderella panto that she causes sabotage and injuries. And it looks like she’s achieved her aim – all the stars of the show are now out of action because of her. They really need a fairy godmother now if the show is to go on.

Everyone is picking on Toni at the athletics club because of her mother being branded a thief. Two girls are even playing spiteful tricks on her, and it looks like they’re set to continue for the duration of the story. And Bridie’s mum won’t even let her pursue canoeing, because she thinks all water sports are dangerous after the accident that killed her husband.

Jinty 20 July 1974

Cover 20 July 1974

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • The Haunting of Form 2B (artist Rodrigo Comos) last episode
  • Gwen’s Stolen Glory
  • Make-Believe Mandy (artist Ana Rodrigues)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Gail’s Indian Necklace (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • A Dream for Yvonne (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)

Katie Jinks is kicked out of her new job, for having inadvertently set off the fire alarm, scared all the customers out of the shop, and soaked her boss in the bargain! The reason she took that job in the first place was to be able to buy herself a swish new swimming costume, which she now can’t afford – but at least she can buy some patches in the store – “It’ll be a little bit of profit for them, to make up for all the trouble I caused!” Of course with Katie it’s never that easy – she is the 100,000th customer to the store and gets a prize as a result – reluctant though the manager is to grant it! This turns out to have been a really good, solid two-parter, with plenty of gags and plot twists. There’s even one at the end – the costume she’s been after is a sunsuit, which shouldn’t be used to swim in – so she has to give it to her mother and resort to patches after all!

The Haunting of Form 2B” comes to an end in this issue. The girls are indeed in big trouble in a small boat, and nearly drown – but it is not Judy Mayhew’s intervention that saves them. The ghost teacher warned a lock-keeper who helped to rescue them just in time. Just as well, as in trying to save them (as she thought) it was actually Judy who was acting massively recklessly and would have got them all drowned. Very much like the curse in Macbeth! But because Miss Thistlewick was able to save the girls in the end, her spirit is now at rest and she can leave them in peace to enjoy their modern lives.

Everything is working out beautifully for Gwen and her Stolen Glory. The grateful parents of the girl that everyone thinks she rescues are buying a house for her and her family to live in, and Gwen’s talent has won her a place at drama school now that she has been given some attention (and now that injured Judith is out of the way). The only risk to Gwen is if Judith ever regains her memory – and Gwen is far-gone enough now to be happy to prevent that from happening.

Make-Believe Mandy has to pass more tests set by Miss Madden. What has complicated things is that Mandy’s cruel family have twigged that there is something going on, and have tried to horn in on what might be coming to her.

We find out in this week’s episode that Merry’s friend Carla is still alive, but being kept hidden so that Merry is psychologically tormented along with being ostracised by her friends. But Merry finds out too, soon enough, and risks quite a lot to get Carla out of where she has been hidden. Miss Ball is even more of an enemy of Merry’s, after that…

Gail finds out something important about her necklace, and now knows what she needs to do to appease the vengeful spirit Anak-Har-Li that lives in it. Of course getting nearer to her goal isn’t easy, as the spirit seems quite happy to hurt people that stand in its way – and possibly Gail’s Aunt Marjorie might soon count!

“A Dream for Yvonne” develops further on its miserable course – she is picked up by a children’s welfare officer who is sceptical about her claim to have lost her memory, so he takes her to a reformatory, which she will be hard-pressed to escape from. Writing this, I am reminded of the fact that Miguel Quesada also drew Tammy‘s “Little Miss Nothing” – a similar Cinderella story.