What makes a story work, pt 3?

Following on from my earlier posts, more about what makes a story work. The discussion points in this post are more focused on the work of the artist, whereas the ones in the previous post were more around what the writer does.

  • Art quality. Is the art convincing and solid, with movement and vigour where required? Can the artist actually follow-through on technical requirements such as drawing ballet steps, gymnastics, and horses? Or is it inaccurate, stiff, or lifeless?
    • Of course this is primarily the artist’s responsibility, but there is some input from editorial departments. They may ensure, for instance, that art drawn by Spanish artists matches the British location that most stories are supposed to take place in by adding in pillar boxes and the like. Few artists in Jinty and other comics of this era are anything other than good to extremely good, so overall art quality is normally not a factor in the story not working. However, the artist may have specific gaps in what they can and can’t draw convincingly.
    • Stronger: There are so many strong artists that it is difficult to pick out one over the other except on the basis of personal preference. Mario Capaldi can draw faces, action sequences, and solidly convincing backgrounds, and is almost universally loved, but you could also say the same of my personal favourites Trini Tinturé, Phil Gascoine, and Phil Townsend. I think perhaps my favourite art on all the stories might however be Terry Aspin’s work on “Alice In A Strange Land”, in which he brings a strange jungle-wrapped lost city to life, alongside the British schoolgirls who have strayed into it.
    • Weaker: I find the Ken Houghton art on “Tansy of Jubilee Street” to be adequate but unexciting. It can be stiff at times when the artist has intended an action sequence, which is bad news. But even excellent artists can have off-days, too: Jim Baikie’s art is normally top-notch, but in parts of “Miss No-Name” some faces and sequences are very patchy, and possibly even filled-in by another hand. Finally, even if the artist is generally good, a specific failure to draw ballet well will condemn the story in the eyes of those who can spot that, as Mistyfan commented on a previous post.
  • Art style. The style of the artist needs to be matched to the story requirements. A light-hearted comedy story typically uses a more exaggerated style, and a sentimental or sad story might need something more restrained.
    • This might be an editorial decision in commissioning the right artist for the job, but it might also involve the artist deciding to use a variation on their usual style. Mario Capaldi and Jim Baikie are examples of artists who had humorous and serious styles that can be readily distinguished not because they look radically different but by the exaggeration of the character’s actions and expressions.
    • Stronger: This was generally a close match in any case. In other titles you could cite the use of John Armstrong to illustrate gymnastics in the Bella stories; in Jinty a close parallel would be the usage of Mario Capaldi for any sports story – for instance his superb depiction of the dramatic moments and of the swimming action in “Cursed To Be A Coward!
    • Weaker: I think I would choose the selection of Trini Tinturé in “Prisoners of Paradise Island”. Trini is an excellent artist for showing scheming and plotting elegant ‘bad girls’ rather than hockey-playing schoolgirls. Similarly, José Casanovas in “The Darkening Journey” is always a slight mis-match for me as his animal characters are beautifully drawn but a tad too intrinsically cheeky-looking for such a sad and dramatic story. Finally, although I like Keith Robson’s art on “The Goose Girl” a lot, the Dutch publishers of Tina clearly felt that they wanted an art style that matched the continental expectations (such as a clear, clean line) as the same fundamental story was re-drawn in a Tina Topstrip.
  • Consistency of art. If the artist or the quality of the art changes visibly during the run of the storyline then this will be noticed by readers and is likely to have a negative impact on how well the story works overall.
    • If the artist is unwell or over-committed there might be a requirement for the editorial team to get another artist to fill in some or all of the remaining episodes of a story. Alternatively, another artist might perhaps collaborate to help finish the work in time (for instance by inking the original artist’s pencilled drawings). Presumably this might be an informal arrangement between artists if they were able to do this (for instance if they shared the same studio), but as there will have been people’s salaries at stake too I am assuming this was more likely to be an editorial decision to ensure that the story could be completed rather than abandoned.
    • Stronger: I am not aware of any examples where an inconsistency in the artwork actually benefitted the story (for instance if a mediocre artist was replaced by a better one). Even if the art changed for the better, the change itself would be jarring and intrusive. Ongoing humorous strips such as “The Jinx from St Jonah’s” did tend to have a few different artists working on it over the years and this was workable as there tended not to be a single story that would be badly affected by this change.
    • Weaker: This didn’t actually happen very often in Jinty‘s run. The obvious example is “Champion in Hiding” which started off with Mario Capaldi’s beautiful work and moved on to being drawn by Hugh Thornton-Jones, better known for his art on humour stories such as “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!”.
  • Character design. Making the characters in a story look and behave distinctively on the page is partly visual and partly about their dialogue and actions. Is the result a solid, convincing character or can you hardly tell them apart from other characters in girls’ comics? Worse, can you hardly even tell who’s who in the same story?
    • There is a lot of responsibility on the artist to bring a clear and distinctive visual identity to the character; at a minimum the inhabitants of the story should have different hairstyles, shapes, clothes that separate everyone out and make sure the reader is not confused. Ideally they should also have distinctive body shapes, body language and so forth too. The writer will have an impact too, in giving the protagonists an individual drive that will make them separate from others via distinctive dialogue and so forth.
    • Stronger: Jim Baikie was a very long-running Jinty artist, illustrating many continued stories and one-off Gypsy Roses. He certainly reused hairstyles (Fran of “Fran’ll Fix It!” shared a hairstyle with the protagonist of this Gypsy Rose story) but nevertheless each of his characters is visually distinctive in multiple ways – body shape, body language, freckles, and so on. No danger of mistaking his characters even when they do have some features in common.
    • Weaker: Comos’ schoolgirls across various stories illustrated by him have a bit too much similarity, I feel: I’d pick out the characters in “Destiny Brown” and the protagonists of “The Haunting of Form 2B” as being particularly visually similar.
  • Layout. There is a lot of thought that goes into getting an effective layout at the level of the individual panel and at the level of the whole page. Wally Wood’s 22 Panels That Always Work gives an idea of the sort of panel layouts that a US mainstream comics artist might use to vary the visual interest on a page; the conventions and standards for British weekly comics may differ a bit but will share a lot of requirements for varying the focus in each panel. Page layouts likewise can be pedestrian or innovative, with varying sizes of panel within and artwork that breaks out of the constraints of the panel border.
    • Again much of the responsibility of this lies with the artist, but the editorial team may also have input – for instance there may be a general instruction that pages should use a layout based on a nine-panel grid or on a six-panel grid to allow for larger panels. Pat Mills talks interestingly about working with the artist to create a dymanic page layout and strong panel layouts too. I don’t think that writers in this kind of comic usually would script down to this level (though in US mainstream comics they often will) but of course Pat was also an editor.
    • Stronger: There are a lot of really good and interesting layouts in Jinty, Misty, and Tammy, perhaps more so than in other titles from the time. “Concrete Surfer” has some very dynamic and interesting layouts depicting the protagonist’s skateboarding tricks; “Land of No Tears” is slightly more conventional but often breaks the borders or uses irregular panels for a dramatic effect.
    • Weaker: no immediate examples come to mind.
  • Incidentals. I am using this to refer to little background details in the artwork or the story.
    • This could be down to ideas from artist or from writer. Perhaps the artist will particularly need to fill the background somehow and may therefore put in extra detail either humorous or nostalgic.
    • Stronger: For instance Jim Baikie includes little jokes in the background of “Fran’ll Fix It”: they may be joky signs or funny things happening behind the protagonist’s back. There may also be little touches of colour that the writer may also include; I have always remembered a bit of dialogue in “Merry at Misery House” where Merry says she’s “not as green as [she’s] cabbage-looking!’ This is not in fact anything invented by writer Terry Magee but it’s a nice touch of appropriate vernacular and always lived on in my memory.
    • Weaker: It would be possible for the background detail to be over-egged and too intrusive. I can’t think of an immediate example that comes to mind however.
  • Design / font / lettering. The lettering of the dialogue in Jinty and similar comics are all typed in a standardised font, without any big distinction between strong emotion and ordinary ones (there can be a slightly bolder effect used but with the low print quality on newsprint this is not very easy to distinguish). However, the logo for the story title itself is more distinctively rendered to match the story it heads up. There are also lettering elements in the artwork that can be done well or less well – shop-fronts, newspapers within the story, and so on. Unlike in other comics genres, sound effects (another possible element to be done well or less well) are not greatly used.
    • I assume the story logo would have been done in-house editorially but this would need confirmation; I could also imagine it as supplied by the artist. The lettering would certainly be done by someone other than the artist as we can see by the consistency of the font used.
    • Stronger: A number of the story logos have a fairly simple design just using a natty font, so anything more than this can be quite striking. I like the design of the “Fran of the Floods” logo, with plain lettering but the addition of rain and a pool of water.
    • Weaker: Sometimes the logo font has no obvious sympathy with the title and just seems to have been chosen because it hadn’t been used particularly recently. “The Four-Footed Friends” is an example; nothing wrong with the story logo, but it doesn’t add anything extra.
  • Format / edition / pagination. The Jinty stories were only reprinted by British publishers in annuals rather than in albums collecting the whole story together, but of course translated editions did exist that brought the whole of a story under the same covers. This could potentially mean that a story either feels stronger in reading it as a cohesive whole, or perhaps that weaknesses of pacing are more clearly felt and so the whole story works less well when read as a single edition. Alternatively, a story may even be entirely too long for some formats. Finally, the format also includes the page size and other publishing decisions – how many pages will be in that week’s issue? Which pages will be printed on the double-page spread at the centre, or on the front or back where you can only see a single page at a time? These decisions are all very specific to the individual printing of a story and don’t necessarily impact how a story reads over its lifetime over more than one printing.
    • These format decisions are all editorial and would be unlikely to be down to anything decided by artist or writer (though a popular artist or writer could be ‘rewarded’ by being given a plum location in the weekly edition of a title, of course). I would assume that  in these cases, the writer and artist will not typically have known in advance whether their story was to be printed on a double-page spread or on the right-hand page (meaning that the reader needed to turn over to reveal the next page) and would not have specifically tailored the story as a result. (In other kinds of comics publications this kind of fine-tuning is possible and even normal.)
    • Stronger/ weaker: I have not got good examples of stories that could make a stronger or weaker impact depending on the editorial choices of edition and pagination, but perhaps a reader of one of the translated albums may have views based on that experience.

 

Jinty 1 April 1978

Jinty cover

  • Concrete Surfer (writer Pat Mills)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Slave of the Swan – first episode (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Waking Nightmare (artist Phil Townsend)
  • The Zodiac Prince (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Paula’s Puppets (artist Julian Vivas)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Shadow on the Fen (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Darling Clementine – final episode (artist Richard Neillands, writers Alison Christie)

My latest Jinty acquisition, thanks to Marc, and it complete several runs of Jinty stories in my collection. Among them are the last episode of “Darling Clementine” and the first episode of “Slave of the Swan”, the story of an amnesiac girl who falls foul of a spiteful ballet mistress who has a grudge against her mother. Next week we see another of Jinty’s classic stories, “Cathy’s Casebook”, and its blurb shows how well advanced the preparation for this story must have been. We are told that Cathy will save a lonely old shepherd, help an injured girl to walk again, stop a backward boy being persecuted, and solve an outbreak of food poisoning.

In the other stories, things are stepping up. Paula’s beginning to realise how nasty she has been to everyone in the past and she is partly responsible for the mean treatment she gets from them now. But her efforts to change backfire and make her even more unpopular. And to make it even more interesting, her wrongly-convicted father has escaped from prison! Is it the key to clearing his name or just to add drama to the story, and his vindication lies with Paula and her puppets?

In “Shadow on the Fen”, the witch finder turns up in the 20th century and Rebecca discovers how her friend Catherine took the witch-hunting rap for her at his hands in the past. Next week things are going to step up even more as the girls find out one of the witch finder’s secrets.

The Zodiac Prince’s latest effort to help someone impresses his father this time, and next week he tries fortune telling at a fair. How easy can that be when you’re the Prince of the Zodiac? Or will it be harder than we expect?

The Concrete Surfer wonders if she has got things wrong about Carol and is trying to be nicer. But is she doing the right thing or playing straight into Carol’s hands?

And in “Waking Nightmare”, Phil Carey is blaming herself for Carol’s disappearance because she realised too late that Carol had a phobia about trains. Fortunately she finds Carol and now they’re off to her grandmother’s. But when they arrive, the occupants are definitely not Gran! What has happened?

 

 

What makes a story work, pt 2?

Following on from my earlier post on how we can sensibly say that a story works (or doesn’t), I want to look at the elements that can add to, or detract from, how well a story works. These are elements that are mostly down to decisions made by the writer or the artist (or both), though editorial decisions can also be relevant. For each of the elements, therefore, I will consider what the balance of responsibilities tends to be, as well as discussing the nature of each of them.

  • Plot. What actually happens? How well tied-together are the events of the story, and how naturally or consistently do they flow from earlier ones? Is it a very run-of-the-mill plot or does it have innovative elements? Is the plot simple or convoluted, full of sidelines or straightforward? In particular, does the ending follow well from the main part of the action or does it undercut the earlier events, for instance through by use of a deus ex machina to wrap everything up neatly and too-quickly?
    • This lies mostly in the writer’s corner, though the editorial department may make suggestions.
    • Stronger: “Concrete Surfer” is a tightly-plotted story where everything that happens drives the action forwards to the skate-off between rivals and the subsequent denouement. Not a moment of action is wasted and it all hangs together.
    • Weaker: in “Fran of the Floods” lots of things happen, but in a quite meandering structure with sub-plots that you can get lost in. The later happenings are not very tightly tied into the earlier events, though there is a wrap-up at the end of the story. This is a danger for road-trip sort of stories.
  • Title. Is the title overly-explanatory or does it promise without revealing too much? Is it ho-hum or unusual?
    • As far as we know, coming up with the story’s title seems to have been part of the writer’s tasks. Sometimes it might have been changed by the editorial department either before publication or on reprint / translation.
    • Stronger: There are lots of really evocative story titles in Jinty. Examples like “Girl The World Forgot” or “Golden Dolly, Death Dust!” are suggestive without giving the whole game away.
    • Weaker: the formula girl’s name + descriptive reference was over-used in girls’ comics generally and feels hackneyed as a result. “Badgered Belinda”, “Angela Angel-Face”, “Diving Belle” are examples in Jinty, but looking at a single issue of Lindy the ratio of such titles seemed considerably higher so things could have been much worse!
  • Theme. Is the theme a well-trodden one such as the Slave or Cinderella themes? Is it an intrinsically unlikely one such as the Exploited Amnesiac? In either case it probably needs something extra to make it stand out.
    • Again as far as we know the story theme was mostly under the control of the writer, though the editorial office would, according to Pat Mills, aim to have specific themes represented such as the two mentioned above. Some writers would focus preferentially on certain themes, so we know that Alison Christie wrote a number of heart-tugging stories with Runaways or Guilt Complexes. The art style (discussed in the next post) was probably chosen to match the theme as far as possible, though of course it is entirely possible that the availability of an artist was used to inspire a writer on occasion.
    • Stronger: I wouldn’t say it is that clear that one theme is stronger than another but there is a lot of personal preference that will govern whether a story works for an individual reader or not.
    • Weaker: as mentioned above, some themes such as the Exploited Amnesiac are so intrinsically unlikely and indeed rather melodramatic and silly that it means that the story is battling against something of a headwind.
  • Pacing. Girls (and boys) comics of this era typically feature fast-paced stories, with cliff-hangers at the end of each episode. The conventions of this sort of story are rather different from Japanese manga, where the action tends to take place over a far greater number of pages. If a story is compressed more than usual for this genre it would feel confusing, or if it was too slow-paced likewise it could throw readers off.
    • This lies solidly in the remit of the writer, though the page layout and composition could have some effect too.
    • Stronger: “Concrete Surfer” has some of the best pacing I can immediately think of: it builds evenly and the momentum never stops. Every panel and page builds on the last.
    • Weaker: the pacing on “Freda’s Fortune” makes it an odd read, with much of the plot line of a normal horse & rival story compressed into two 6-page episodes.
  • Tone. Is the story light and frothy, silly, adventurous, realistic, tear-jerking, hard, gritty, subversive, or even sadistic? The dialogue is a big part of what sets the tone so I am including it in this element, though others might prefer to separate it out.
    • The style set by the comic overall is very linked to the tone of the individual stories inside; whether this is mostly to do with editorial choices as to which stories to publish or writers to commission, clearly the editorial focus has a part to play. Pat Mills reckons that there is a big divide between working class comics (Tammy, Misty, Jinty, Pink, and most of Bunty) and middle-class, ‘safe’ comics, and that this divide was purposeful, to try to move past the ‘old hat’ style of the past. The individual writer is the prime mover of the tone of the story but the artist also has an important role to play as the writing and art must of course match. Additionally, the artist is in a position to add a lot of background detail in their art, to really bring things to life (John Armstrong draws graffiti in the background of “Moonchild”, and Jim Baikie draws details from the London Underground of the 70s or earlier in his recreation of the futuristic world of “The Forbidden Garden”.)
    • Stronger: Of course one tone is not in itself ‘better’ than another, but some are more unusual or more consistently applied throughout. “Knight and Day” is the epitome of a gritty and realistic story of physical and emotional abuse within a family, played seriously and with enough emotional effect to convince the reader.
    • Weaker: In the link above, Pat Mills says that light and frothy stories are ‘safe’ and boring to the reader. This is arguable, but certainly a light and frothy story such as “The Perfect Princess” is by its nature one that is easier to dismiss the more emotional or tear-jerking tales. Perhaps more fatal to a story is a sudden shift in tone, such as Lorrbot mentions having happened in “Balloon of Doom” in her comment on the last post.
  • Resonance. I’m stretching a bit things here in using this term in this way. What I mean is whether the story has a certain mythic resonance, a re-use (in a purposeful way) of cultural material. Mermaids, spinning wheels, magic mirrors, wicked and cruel women: these all have resonance as they have been used in countless stories to tell us how to behave or what to be careful of. Re-use of a current successful story from a different medium also gives the comics narrative a chance to grab some resonance from elsewhere.
    • I am assuming this is mostly in the care of the writer, though of course the artist will be able to add in many visual elements that will strengthen the references.
    • Stronger: “Who’s That In My Mirror?” combines ideas of vanity, moral peril, and the idea that a mirror can hold a reflection of a kind of truth. It has echoes of “The Picture of Dorian Grey” and of the Andersen tale “The Shadow” – and its denouement is as spooky as anything in comics.
    • Weaker: There are so damned many stories of haunted mirrors that it’s very easy for the shine to wear off! For me, “The Venetian Looking-Glass” was just another one of many: the element of resonance had become repetition.
  • Audacity. This is sort of the flip side of Resonance, and again I am stretching things a bit in using this term in this way. By this I mean the ‘WTF’ element where you can’t quite believe that anyone dared to put that on the page! It is the element of surprise and of novelty, but it is quite a delicate balancing act.
    • The written story bears a lot of the responsibility for this element but the art is key in making sure that the reader’s suspension of disbelief doesn’t flag. The editorial and publishing teams are the ones who would be on the bosses’ carpet if it all goes horribly wrong (as it did for boys’ comic Action after questions were asked in parliament), so they are part of the mix too.
    • Stronger: “Worlds Apart” is one of the most audacious stories in girls’ comics, with each protagonist having to die in grotesque and excessive ways in order for them to progress to the next scenario. “Children of Edenford” is also outrageous but a bit more quietly so as it criticises the shibboleth of social mobility ahead of the tide of Thatcherism and yuppiedom to come.
    • Weaker: When audacity tips the scales of suspension of disbelief, the wheels come off. For me, the cruelties at the end of “Slave of the Swan” and “The Slave of Form 3B” push it a step too far.

To follow in the next post, discussions on:

  • Art quality
  • Art style
  • Character design
  • Page layout / composition
  • Art incidental details
  • Design / font / lettering
  • Format / edition

 

What makes a story work pt 1 – how do we know it does work?

I wanted to write a post looking at what makes a story work, but first it seems sensible to consider how we can tell that a story has worked at all – or not, of course. It seems to me that there are some general principles we can reasonably consider when thinking about stories in the titles under discussion – Jinty/Misty/Tammy in particular. (I should add a caveat that here I am particularly considering stories which have a beginning, middle, and end, rather than gag strips or humour stories that tend to consist of indivudal self-contained episodes.)

What evidence do we have that it worked at the time?

Looking at evidence from the past, we can clearly say that people at the time judged some stories to have worked better than others.

  • Some stories are known to have been particularly popular; we may have information from editors (we know that “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” was very popular). The publishers certainly canvassed readers for indicators of the most and the least popular stories, either through the invitation to specify your faves when writing a letter to the editor, or more rarely through initiatives such as “Pam’s Poll“.
  • Reprinting of stories is likely to indicate a positive judgement on how well they worked – why waste space on a story you didn’t think was worth it? At the same time, some reprints are hard to see as being particularly strong – “Angela Angel-Face” being a case in point. Sometimes, therefore, the fact that a story has been reprinted might just be a recognition of its ready availability as a cheap space-filler.
  • Translation of stories is surely a stronger indication of success; a third party has selected the story (in some way – it would be good to know more about how this happened), paid for it, and put work into producing a translated edition, possibly with new cover artwork or more colouring.
  • And then sometimes we have seen the translation go on to further usage – collection in an album format (the Dutch Tina Topstrips), and then perhaps further translations derived from those earlier selections (the Indonesian Nina reprints that drew heavily on the Tina Topstrip editions). “The Spell of the Spinning Wheel” is an example of a story that scores particularly highly, having been translated into Dutch and Indonesian in just this way.
  • Story length may be another indicator. “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” ran for 36 episodes and “Fran of the Floods” ran for 35 episodes, where a story was more usually some 15 episodes long. The obvious reason for this extraordinary length is that as the story was popular, the writer will have been asked to make it carry on for longer, or at any rate not stopped from continuing. (This may have turned out as a double-edged sword: we understand that for instance Dutch Tina didn’t reprint stories past a certain length because of format constraints, so a very long story of this sort was actually less likely to be translated and reprinted elsewhere.)
  • (edited to add) Promotional and editorial decisions may also give some pointers. The editorial office decides about which story to feature on the cover, and to what extent – for instance when dramatically using a panel from the interior art to create a striking cover. They also decide which stories to feature in prime positions in the publication: the first and last stories are key positions, but the centre pages can also be an important focus for the reader. Some pages are in colour and again this will reflect a specific editorial decision to add something extra (requiring more work) to that story compared to others. Finally, some titles will be highlighted in adverts published in other titles.

As you can see, though, none of these indicators are foolproof. The most reliable indicator would be evidence direct from the editorial office to confirm that a story was popular, and even then of course you can quibble about whether popularity necessarily relies on the story being strong… though what you could certainly say in that case is that the most important critics, the readers, had voted in favour to say that it had worked for them.

What can we say about whether it works now?

And coming to stories that we read now, what tools can we use to think about whether a story works? (For instance we may come across a new story that we didn’t read at the time, or re-read a story in a new light.)

It is entirely legitimate to consider our own uncritical reaction as readers: “I love this sort of thing”, or “it’s not my cup of tea”, or “I know it’s very generic but I have a soft spot for this story”. Perhaps when you read the story initially, you hadn’t ever come across that particular cliché, and even though you recognize how hackneyed it is you still like it. Or perhaps there is some detail of script or art that just gives it something extra in your eyes. We can say “this story works for me”, acknowledging that others may read it and judge it more harshly; we may need to be aware of the limitations of our judgment, while at the same time still seeing those judgments as valid in themselves.

Likewise if we re-read a fondly remembered story now as adult readers, we may find that it is just as exciting as those memories had it as; or we may find that since then we have brought a lot more experience (and perhaps cynicism) to bear as readers, and the story just doesn’t work any more. Maybe events have overtaken it entirely (a story featuring casual racism or a now-known sex predator would be seen quite differently now than at the time). So the story might not work for us as individuals, or more generally, and we can make judgements accordingly.

Finally, there are a whole range of elements we can analyse to see what can make a story work, coming from the contribution of the artist and of the writer and even of the editorial office. Looking through these elements, as I want to do in my next post, we may find that we see more in the story than at first glance, and that it works more effectively than we’d given it credit for initially. I am finding this can happen for me when reading Mistyfan’s posts on stories, as we (naturally) have some differences in reading taste – for instance, reading her post on “Go On, Hate Me!” gave me a different view on how and why the story worked, although this is a story I might otherwise have dismissed as only moderately interesting. Using more analytical tools we are therefore able to say that a story works well or less well as a narrative of its kind, on its own merits, regardless of its reception at the time or by us as individuals.

Jinty & Lindy 22 January 1977

Jinty 77

One of the most colourful and striking Jinty covers in my opinion, and it’s another of my favourites. On the cover, Henrietta is making it plain to Sue that she does not like Sue putting an umbrella into her while Emma stops a runaway horse but gets no thanks. As far as the villagers are concerned, she is a “bad ‘un” and that’s that. Only Alice is friendly and in this issue she offers her hand of friendship again. Will Emma take it next week?

Two stories end in this issue. Hetty reaches breaking point and snaps from all the hatred she is receiving. But Jo sees the consequences of the hatred against Hetty that she fermented and learns the value of forgiveness – not to mention getting her facts straight. Druid Caractacus finally catches up with Gertie, but she is pleased to see him because she is in a spot of bother. Next week we will see the start of one of Jinty’s most enduring and popular features – “Gypsy Rose’s Tales of Mystery and Magic“. Also starting next issue is “Freda, False Friend”, Phil Gascoine’s first Jinty story for 1977.

The origin of the Sceptre of the Toltecs is revealed, so the story is heading for its climax now. Made-Up Mandy has played “ghost” to help a friend, but narrowly missed being caught. And now she’s set on going on safari, although her nasty employer Miss Agate won’t allow it. So we have a pretty good suspicion that Mandy will be headed back to the make-up kit for another disguise next week. Whatever has possessed Martine is still causing trouble and  it’s all Tessa can do to concentrate on ballet so she can get into the City Ballet Company.

 

 

Jinty #39, 22 February 1975

JInty 39

  • The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mike White)
  • Tricia’s Tragedy (artist Ana Rodrigues)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terry Magee)
  • The Kat and Mouse Game (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Prisoners of Paradise Island (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Always Together… (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • The Hostess with the Mostest
  • Slave of the Mirror (artist Carlos Freixas)

This is another newly-arrived Jinty for my collection.

The Jinx from St Jonah’s uncovers a man running a pony-selling racket and turns to an ancient gun to stop him. But knowing our Katie, the crook has more to fear from her jinxing than an ancient gun!

The latest arrival in “Dora Dogsbody” is eating everyone out of house and home, and for once Dora sides with Ma Siddons.

In “Tricia’s Tragedy“, Tricia would have done well to heed the old adage, “beware the Greeks, even when they offer gifts” when her estranged relatives suddenly offer her a surprise invitation to train in their pool, especially when her father has a premonition that something horrible will happen if she accepts the invitation. But she does not heed the warning any more than the Trojans did. So we can pretty much guess where that is going to lead, and it starts with the final panel where cousin Diana is diving dangerously on top of Tricia.

Merry at Misery House” is getting the blame when someone plays tricks on Miss Ball the sadistic guard. Even her fellow inmates find it hard to believe she is innocent. But then a weird masked figure appears in the final panel, and it can’t be Merry.

In the “Kat and Mouse Game”, Kat hurts her leg. It’s her own fault, but Mouse thinks it’s hers, and of course Kat is taking full advantage of this.

Miss Lush is full steam ahead on making her “Prisoners of Paradise Island” unfit to win the hockey championship. Sally, the only person to realise, is at a dead end, and we are told that next week she is going to be “lost at sea”.

Bird-Girl Brenda” gets more than she bargained for when she uses her flying power to map a canal – she finds an unexploded WWII bomb and must find a way to alert the authorities without giving herself away!

“Always Together” is on its penultimate episode. Beth has fallen dangerously ill. Jill has little choice but to take her to hospital and risk giving themselves up to social welfare.

And in “Slave of the Mirror”, we get a hint that the mirror may not be all that bad when it leads Mia to what looks like an accident involving Major Rose. Or does it have some hidden agenda? We shall have to wait and see.

Jinty #43, 22 March 1975

Jinty cover 43

 

  • The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Tricia’s Tragedy (artist Ana Rodrigues)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terry Magee)
  • The Miser’s Ghost (text story)
  • The Kat and Mouse Game (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Cinderella Smith – first episode (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Bet Gets the Bird! – first episode (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Daddy’s Darling (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Slave of the Mirror (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot

After so many years, I finally came into a complete copy of this issue. My old copy had pages missing.

Now I have a complete copy, I can read The Kat and Mouse Game episode in its entirety. Kat’s trick succeeds in getting Mouse expelled, but then Kat realises she still needs to take advantage of Mouse to continue the role of the Tiger in the ballet as Mouse can perform it better than she can. But we are told that Kat is going to play one trick too many next week. Ah, the thing that has been the downfall of many a troublemaker in so many stories. And now that I can read the Dora Dogsbody episode, I see an ex-sergeant major is trying to run the dogs hotel in military fashion and even the unpleasant Siddonses are unhappy about it. However, the arrogant sergeant-major does not meet his Waterloo until next week.

As the cover shows, Kate the Jinx tries her hand at ballet, but it meets with her usual disaster. The same goes when she tries supposedly harmless things for a hobby like turning pages for the school orchestra or stamp collecting.

Merry escapes from Misery House (and it’s about time!). But last week we were warned that fate was going to play a cruel trick on her. And it is now revealed to be amnesia. How can Merry stay on the run and keep one step ahead of Misery House if she’s lost her memory?

Two new stories start: “Bet Gets the Bird!” and “Cinderella Smith”. Bet saves Rosy Posy the parrot from a cruel man and brings her to her boarding school. But we can see Rosy Posy is going to bring hijinks to Bet’s school, and she starts by being mistakenly enrolled as one of the pupils! And as the title of the latter suggests, we have a new Cinderella-type story. Cindy Smith goes to stay with her cousins while Dad goes away. Cindy thinks it’s going to be great because the cousins are so wealthy and they have animals. But she did not count on her cousins being so horrible, and already they’re laying into her with a cane and giving her a ghastly room. And next week Cindy starts school in second-hand clothes when her cousins can more than afford to buy her a whole new uniform.

The “Slave of the Mirror” tries to get rid of the mirror. But she should have guessed she wouldn’t be able to get rid of the haunted mirror that easily. “Daddy’s Darling” isn’t proving popular in school because her father’s over-protective treatment of her has her classmates thinking she is a snob. And now another evacuee is arriving in the household, but what is Dad going to say? He was not happy with one evacuee to begin with.

In “Tricia’s Tragedy”, Tricia begins to learn the reason for the feud between her family and Diana’s. But Dad is being thrown out before he can properly explain – now what have Diana’s parents got to hide? And it casts even more suspicion on the events that are binding Tricia to Diana.

 

 

 

Stories translated into Dutch

Following up on the previous post on European Translations, Sleuth from Catawiki has kindly sent me a list she has prepared of Jinty stories which were translated into Dutch. (See also some comments from her in that post, about Dutch translations.) They were mostly published in the weekly comic Tina and/or in the reprint album format Tina Topstrip. The list below shows the original title, followed by the title in the Dutch translation, with a literal translation in [square brackets] where appropriate, and then the details of the publication that the translation appeared in. It is ordered by date of original publication.

  • Gwen’s Stolen Glory (1974): De droom van een ander [Someone else’s dream] (in: Tina Club 1975-2)
  • Dora Dogsbody (1974-76): Hilda Hondemoppie (in: Tina 1974)
  • Gail’s Indian Necklace (1974): Anak-Har-Li [the name of the Indian deity on the necklace] (in: Tina Club 1975-01)
  • Always Together (1974): Voor altijd samen (in: Tina 1985/86)
  • Wild Horse Summer (1974): De zomer van het witte paard [White Horse Summer] (in: Tina 1976, Tina Topstrip 15 (1980))
  • Left-Out Linda (1974): Linda (in: Tina 1975/76)
  • Wenna the Witch (1974): Wenna de heks (in: Tina 1976, Tina Topstrip 34, 1981)
  • Slave of the Mirror (1975): De spiegel met de slangen [The Snakes Mirror] (in: Tina 1976)
  • The Kat and Mouse Game (1975): Als kat en muis [Like cat and mouse] (in: Tina 1985)
  • Tricia’s Tragedy (1975): Tineke – Strijd om de Lankman-trofee [Tineke – Fighting for the Lankman Trophy] (in: Tina 1975/76, Tina Topstrip 18 (1980)).
  • The Valley of the Shining Mist (1975): Het dal van de glanzende nevel (in: Tina 1977)
  • Barracuda Bay (1975): Susan Stevens – Barracudabaai (in: Tina 1971); reprint from June & School Friend 1970.
  • The Haunting of Hazel: Hazel en haar berggeest [Hazel and her Mountain Ghost] (in: Tina 1976/77, Tina Topstrip 27 (1981))
  • For Peter’s Sake! (1976): De opdracht van Josefien [Josephine’s Assignment] (in: Tina Boelboek 5 (1985))
  • The Slave of Form 3B (1976): In de ban van Isabel [Under Isabel’s Spell] (in: Groot Tina Zomerboek 1984-2)
  • Then there were 3 … (1976): Toen waren er nog maar drie (in: Groot Tina Lenteboek 1982-1
  • Horse from the Sea (1976): De legende van het witte paard [The Legend of the White Horse] (in: Tina 1985)
  • Snobby Shirl the Shoeshine Girl! (1976): Freule Frederique [Lady Frederique] (in: Tina 1979)
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (1976): Steffie’s hart van steen (in: Tina 1986). Reprint in Tammy 1984
  • Girl in a Bubble (1976): Gevangen in een luchtbel [Prisoner in a Bubble] (in: Tina 1977, Tina Topstrip 29, 1981).
  • Sceptre of the Toltecs (1977): De scepter van de Tolteken (in: Tina 1978; Tina Topstrip 44, 1982)
  • The Mystery of Martine (1976-77): De dubbelrol van Martine [Martine’s Double Role] (in: Tina 1978).
  • Mark of the Witch! (1977): Het teken van de heks (in: Tina 1982/83)
  • Freda, False Friend (1977): Frieda, de valse vriendin (in: Tina 1978/79)
  • Spell of the Spinning Wheel (1977): De betovering van het spinnewiel (in: Tina 1978; Tina Topstrip 42, 1982)
  • The Darkening Journey (1977): Samen door het duister [Through the Darkness Together] (in: Tina 1981/82)
  • Creepy Crawley (1977): In de macht/ban van een broche [Under the Spell of a Brooch] (In: Tina 1979; Tina Topstrip 60, 1984)
  • Kerry in the Clouds (1977): Klaartje in de wolken (in: Tina 1978)
  • The Robot Who Cried (1977): Robot L4A ontsnapt! [Robot Elvira Gets Away] (in: Tina 1985/86).
  • Curtain of Silence (1977): Achter het stille gordijn [Behind the Silent Curtain] (in: Tina 1978/79, Tina Topstrip 52, 1983)
  • Fran’ll Fix it! (1977; 1978-79): short story 3/4; Annabel versiert ‘t wel [Annabel will fix it]; episodes in Tina from 1983 till 1994; there were also “Dutch” episodes written by Bas van der Horst and drawn by Comos, and there is an episode in 1994 written by Ian Mennell and drawn by Comos.
  • Who’s That in My Mirror? (1977): Het spookbeeld in de spiegel [The Ghost in the Mirror] (in: Tina 1980)
  • Cursed to be a Coward! (1977): Zoals de waarzegster voorspelde [Like the Fortune-Teller Predicted] (in: Tina 1979, Tina Topstrip 49, 1983)
  • Destiny Brown (1977): De vreemde visioenen van Seventa Smit [Seventa Smit’s Strange Visions] (in: Tina 1980)
  • The Goose Girl (1977): not translated directly but the storyline was probably used for Maartje, het ganzenmeisje [Marge, the Goose Girl] in Tina 1979, art by Piet Wijn; Tina Topstrip 40, 1982).
  • Stage Fright! (1977): De gevangene van Valckensteyn [Prisoner of Valckensteyn/Falconstone] (in: Tina 1981)
  • Guardian of White Horse Hill (1977): Epona, wachter van de paardenvallei [Epona, Guardian of the Horse Valley] (in: Tina 1978; Tina Topstrip 37, 1982)
  • Land of No Tears (1977-78): Wereld zonder tranen [World of No Tears] (in: Groot Tina Lenteboek 1983-1)
  • Come into My Parlour (1977-78): Kom maar in mijn web [Just Come into My Web] (in: Groot Tina Boek 1981-3)
  • Race for a Fortune (1977-78): Om het fortuin van oom Archibald [Race for Uncle Archibald’s Fortune] (in: Tina 1980)
  • Concrete Surfer (1977-78): Ik heb altijd m’n skateboard nog! [At least I’ve still got my skateboard] (in: Tina 1980)
  • Paula’s Puppets (1978): De poppen van Petra [Petra’s Puppets] (in: Tina 1979, Tina Topstrip 54, 1983). Perhaps they changed the name because there was a Stewardess Paula strip in Tina at the time.
  • Slave of the Swan (1978): De wraak van de Zwaan [Revenge of the Swan] (in: Tina 1980)
  • The Birds (1978): De vogels (in: Groot Tina Boek 1978 winter).
  • Clancy on Trial (1978): Nancy op proef [Nancy on Trial – the name Clancy is highly unusual in the Netherlands] (in: Tina 1979)
  • Wild Rose (1978): Waar hoor ik thuis? [Where do I belong?] (in: Tina 1980)
  • 7 Steps to the Sisterhood (1978): Gevaar loert op Lansdael [Danger at Lansdael] (in: Tina 1980)
  • The Human Zoo (1978): Als beesten in een kooi [Like Animals in a Cage] (in: Tina 1986). Reprint in Tammy 1982.
  • No Cheers for Cherry (1978): Geen applaus voor Sandra [No Applause for Sandra] (in: Groot Tina Zomerboek 1983-2)
  • The Girl Who Never Was (1979): De verbanning van Irma Ijsinga [Irma Ijsinga’s Banishment] (in: Tina 1981)
  • Sea-Sister (1979): Gevangene van de zee [Prisoner of the Sea] (in: Tina 1989)
  • The Forbidden Garden (1979): De verboden tuin (in: Tina 1982/83). Reprint in Tammy 1984
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (1979): Dina Doe douwt door [Dinah Do Pushes Through] (just one episode, in: Groot Tina Lenteboek 1982-1).
  • Almost Human (1979): De verloren planeet [The Lost Planet] (in: Tina 1984)
  • Village of Fame (1979): Het dorp waar nooit ‘ns iets gebeurde [The Village Where Nothing Ever Happened] (in: Tina 1982)
  • Combing Her Golden Hair (1979): Kirsten, kam je gouden lokken [Kirsten, Comb Your Golden Locks] (in: Tina 1981, Tina Topstrip 64, 1985: Kam je gouden lokken)
  • Waves of Fear (1979): In een golf van angst [In a Wave of Fear] (in: Tina 1983)
  • White Water (1979-80): Wild Water [Wild Water] (in: Tina 1984)
  • When Statues Walk… (1979-80): De wachters van Thor [Thor’s Guardians] (in: Tina 1981/82, Tina Topstrip 71, 1985)
  • The Venetian Looking Glass (1980): Het gezicht in de spiegel [The Face in the Mirror] (in: Tina 1983)
  • Seulah the Seal (1979-80): Sjoela de zeehond (in: Tina 1980/81, little booklets in black and white that came as a free gift, stapled in the middle of a Tina).
  • A Spell of Trouble (1980): Anne Tanne Toverheks [Anne Tanne Sorceress, a sort of nursery rhyme name] (in: Tina 1984/85)
  • Girl the World Forgot (1980): Door iedereen vergeten [Forgotten by everyone] (in: Tina 1987)
  • The Ghost Dancer (1981): Dansen in het maanlicht [Dancing in the Moonlight] (in: Tina 1983)
  • Holiday Hideaway (1981): Wie niet weg is, is gezien [If you’re not gone, you’re seen – a sentence children use in hide-and-seek] (in: Tina 1982)
  • Freda’s Fortune (1981): Could be: Fortuin voor Floortje [A Fortune for Florrie] (in: Groot Tina Herfstboek 1983-3)
  • Airgirl Emma’s Adventure (reprint from June 1969, in Jinty Holiday Special 1975): Short story 16; Emma zoekt het hogerop [Emma takes it higher up] (in: Tina 1970)

Various of the stories translated in Tina were also reprinted in the Indonesian title Nina (of course Indonesia is a former Dutch colony, making for a clear link). These will be listed on a new reference page for Translations into Indonesian.

This long list enables us to see how very popular some creators were – for instance, a large number of Jim Baikie and Phil Gascoine stories are included (though not all, by any means). Of course, these were also the most prolific of Jinty artists too.

Many stories were translated very shortly after initial publication, and then reprinted in album form some time later. There was also a ‘second round’ of translation work done after Jinty ceased publication, to go back and pick some of the earlier stories that had not been selected earlier. This was the case with “Always Together” and “The Kat and Mouse Game”, for instance.

Many but by no means all of the story titles were translated fairly literally or exactly, though the main character’s name was almost invariably exchanged for another one. Some titles ended up particularly poetical or neat in translation: “A Spell of Trouble” and “Holiday Hideaway” perhaps benefit most from their translated titles. Of course, there are also some losers: I think “The Human Zoo” and “The Girl Who Never Was” ended up with less resonant titles through the process.

A wide range of stories were translated: spooky stories, humour stories, science fiction, adventure, sports stories. There are some omissions that I’m surprised by, though of course the editors had to pick and choose from so much that was available. “Fran of the Floods” was probably too long (see Marc’s comment about the length of stories selected for translation). No Gypsy Rose stories were selected – maybe they didn’t want a storyteller, ‘grab-bag’ approach? I am however quite surprised at the omission of the excellent “Children of Edenford” (1979). Could it have been too subversive a story, with its underlying theme of adults undermining their position of trust by hypnotizing children in order to control their moral development? The similarly-themed “Prisoner of the Bell” was also not translated. Of course this is rather a guess! At the end of the day I’m sure there were just more stories to choose from than there were spaces for publication.

For reference, I also include a complete list of stories published in the album format Tina Topstrip (71 albums in total). This gives us a view of how many of the reprinted stories deemed worthy of collection came from which original title. Note that some of the stories in this album format were themselves originally written in Dutch as they are credited to a Dutch writer. (NB I will add this to the new page created for Translations into Dutch)

  1. Becky Never Saw The Ball
  2. Twinkle, Twinkle, Daisy Star
  3. Wee Sue
  4. Het geheim van oom Robert (original story in Dutch)
  5. Kimmy op de modetoer (original title unknown)
  6. Marcella het circuskind (original title unknown)
  7. Moses and Me
  8. Peggy en Jeroen (Patty’s World story)
  9. Anja – Dorp in gevaar (original title unknown)
  10. Het lied van de rivier (Patty and the Big Silver Bull Band story, original in Dutch)
  11. Sonja en de mysterieuze zwemcoach (I suspect this is a translation as no writer is given)
  12. De man in het koetshuis (original story in Dutch)
  13. Linda’s verdriet (original title unknown, from Tammy)
  14. Het circus komt (original story in Dutch)
  15. Wild Horse Summer
  16. Noortje (original story in Dutch)
  17. Ruzie om Jeroen (Patty’s World story)
  18. Tricia’s Tragedy
  19. Het lied van de angst (Patty and the Big Silver Bull Band story, original in Dutch)
  20. Silver Is A Star (from Sandie)

Jinty & Penny 6 December 1980

JInty Cover 7

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Her Guardian Angel – first episode (Peter Wilkes)
  • Girl the World Forgot (artist and writer Veronica Weir)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Behind the Screen: Crossroads (feature)
  • Angela Angel-Face (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Sue’s Daily Dozen (artist José Casanovas)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Winning Ways 36: Netball – Two more dodges

The buildup to the Christmas issue is well underway. In this issue, Jinty starts her 1980 Christmas story, to act as a filler and add to the Christmas theme over the holiday season. The story, “Her Guardian Angel”, was Jinty’s last Christmas story; by next Christmas she had merged with Tammy.

Pam of Pond Hill is trying to instil some Christmas spirit too, but it seems to be lost on everyone else. Pam gets permission to hold a Christmas party at school, which turns into one for the kids from the orphanage. But far from instilling the Christmas spirit Pam wanted, it has everyone quarrelling, and the blurb for next week warns us that more problems are ahead.

The Girl the World Forgot knows Christmas is coming, and the only present she wants is a ship to get her off the island she is marooned on. In the final panel, it looks like she is going to get one at last – but it is a Viking boat! What gives?

Thieves strike in “The Daily Dozen” and one of them even knocks Sue out. But as it is the cauldron they are stealing, we know the next episode can only “spell” trouble for them. Nadine does a whole new take on “roller disco”, with the aid of netball – again. Scheming Angela Angel-Face has wangled a trip to Meringaria, but she has not bargained on the company that comes with her – the very girls who know what she is really like. Tansy’s Dad tries pigeon-racing, and of course this causes mayhem for Tansy. Sir Roger loses his head – literally – because it is too windy. Next time he goes out, he wears full armour although there is hardly a breeze.