Monthly Archives: April 2014

Dracula’s Daughter (1981)

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Publication: 6 June 1981-19 September 1981

Artist: Mario Capaldi

Writer: Unknown

A ranting, raving, power-mad headmaster who tyrannises his new school with his ideas of discipline and how schools should be run – with hard work, discipline, and totally serious study. No fun or free-and-easy teaching methods – Heaven forbid! As far as this headmaster is concerned, fun should be in the home, and not in a school. In his eyes, this free-and-easy school is a total apology, but in three weeks it will be his model school of an old-fashioned grammar school, with uniforms, harsh discipline, and teachers who run their classes the old-fashioned way and no fun methods, and houses with names like Dedication and Application (yes, I can just see modern pupils so happy to be in those houses). The only thing missing is corporal punishment. Pretty odd, as this headmaster was overjoyed to see it retained in his previous school. And this story was published before corporal punishment was outlawed in British schools.

Such is how Mr Graves, the former deputy head of the boys’ grammar, wants to run free-and-easy Castlegate Comprehensive. His idea of transforming the school is to force his grammar-school methods right down its throat, and he even goes as far as to butt in on classes and tell teachers to run their classes his way. And from the outside, his dress, appearance and whole manner of carrying on earns him the nickname of “Dracula” and for his daughter Lydia, “Dracula’s Daughter.” Poor Lydia takes the brunt of her classmates’ outrage towards her father’s campaign, and she does not like it any more than they do. It gets worse when Dracula’s treatment of his teachers forces one out, and she is replaced with Miss Snape, a kindred spirit in Mr Graves’ eyes. But the pupils find out that Miss Snape is a dragon who makes no effort to get on with them, and bullies them from the outset. Even worse, Miss Snape treats Lydia as teacher’s pet because she is after the position of deputy head. But when Lydia’s demonstration against her father costs Miss Snape this chance, Miss Snape turns against Lydia with even greater fury than the rest of the class.

What really carries this story is the incredible portrayal of the character of Mr Graves. He could so easily have been cast as an evil headmaster who inflicts sadism in the name of discipline. We have seen this in the Billy Bunter stories, where temporary headmasters proved so psychotic, sadistic and near-insane in their conduct that the Greyfriars boys threw up barricades against them. In girls’ comics there have been stories of headmistresses inflicting torture on their pupils in the name of discipline, such as The Girls of Liberty Lodge and The Four Friends at Spartan School in Tammy. But unlike these other principals, Mr Graves is not intended to be a flat, if hateful, villain who makes everyone’s life a misery before eventually getting his just desserts like all the rest of them. Rather, he is at heart a good man but completely misguided, rigid, bigoted, and naïve. And on top of it all, he is arrogant, so when he is appointed headmaster, it goes completely to his head. He becomes absolutely power-mad and seems to think being headmaster means he can run a school like a dictatorship. But even more astonishing is the change in Mr Graves at the end. He has modified his views on education enough to become more human in his approach. He is finally allowing some fun into school (putting on comedy videos in gratitude to the pupils who unknowingly helped him at one point), sticking up for them when they are wrongly accused of vandalism, and earning a whole new respect for alternate teaching methods. Above all, he has gone from believing that there is only one way to run a school (his way) to learning that there is no one way of running a school.

This is what puts this story a cut above the more typical stories about bully teachers and principals in girls’ comics. Someone must have been reading The Sky’s the Limit by Dr Wayne Dwyer and its sections of authoritarian thinking when they wrote this story. Mr Graves is a brilliantly conceived portrayal of how authoritarian thinking can be transcended and authoritarians can become more human. And it is all done without any seams showing. Mr Graves does not change completely. He is still strict, wears an old-fashioned teachers’ gown, and talks in an extremely formal manner (even in the home). But he is also letting the school see the human side to his nature, something he would only show in the home before.

Once Mr Graves starts to show he is a human being, the girls begin to like him more. This is something they can never do with Miss Snape, who is a typical bully teacher that does not change, but eventually transfers to another school. Still, the pupils are all relieved when Mr Graves goes back to his old school when he discovers its discipline has slipped so badly that there has been constant trouble with the police. The teacher he drove out before returns as the headmistress, so the girls can look forward to a return to the free-and-easy system. But before he goes, Mr Graves gives another example of how he has changed through his Castlegate experience – a complete collection of Dracula videos to remember him by!

The Robot Who Cried (1977)

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Summary and themes

In a secret laboratory, a robot is shown to the scientific community – a robot who looks exactly like a human girl, and who can at the tug of a lever be given her own free will. What does she do with this free will? Why, escape her creator and find out what it means to be human. For some reason this seems to mean crying a lot – with the notable exception of sniffling sorrow, most human emotions are beyond her grasp (it is not until the last panel that she finally learns to smile with joy). During this equivalent of a coming of age story robot KT5 (in her human identity as Katy Fife) learns to care for others and to sacrifice herself before she can be given the ultimate gift of a real human family and a life as a real girl. You could hardly wish for a clearer example of a Pinocchio story.

1977’s The Robot Who Cried shows a lot of similarities with the 1979 story Almost Human. Both have undoubted references to popular media of the time: the clearest link here is the tracksuit nod to the Six Million Dollar Man’s outfit, as like him KT5 is a product of the lab. Again like Almost Human, the super-strong, super-intelligent, not-actually-human protagonist is on the run with a secret that she must keep from her new friends, even when lives are at stake – her own included. What happened in the editorial departments when discussing this sort of thing: did the commissioning minds think that their young readers wouldn’t mind repetition of the same themes over again (certainly I don’t remember minding), and/or did they try to mask it a little by using different artists, I wonder?

The artist in this case is Rodrigo Comos, an old hand who illustrated The Haunting of Form 2B from the earliest issues of Jinty. Fittingly, his female characters are often a little teary or prone to sobbing, though he also does a good line in angry snapping eyes. Some of the charm of the story to a grown-up eye has to be attributed to the outright silliness of some of the set-up: KT5 can sing divinely, she can solve a complex equation “that would take a trained scientist hours to work out” (an entirely made-up equation that she answers with “XYZ to the power of nine” – surely she must just be taking the piss here?). And she can also… serve tea and buns on a hostess trolley? Clearly a robot in the thrall of the patriarchy!

Further details

Creators: Rodrigo Comos (artist) and Malcolm Shaw (writer). Writer attribution supplied by Pat Mills (twitter).

Publication date: 1977.

Final Jinty 21 November 1981

On 21 November 1981 the final Jinty was published.

Inside: Exciting News For All Girls Who LIke A Good Read!

Whether Jinty readers would really have been thrilled or excited by the news might well have been another matter. The Tammy & Jinty merger published two letters from former Jinty readers who weren’t.

The last seven issues could be considered a countdown to the merger, with a reprint of the seven-part series on Monday’s Child is Fair of Face, Tuesday’s Child is Full of Grace etc, short filler stories and Gaye’s attempts to farewell Sir Roger end in disappointment because he failed to pass the test to the House of Ghosts. She does not realise he deliberately failed his test because he thought she miss him too much. But in the last issue, Gaye finds out what Sir Roger did and, when she wangles him another another tryout, she makes sure he passes. Only one long serial, The Bow Street Runner, began, and would conclude in the Tammy & Jinty merger.

Two stories, Worlds Apart and (probably) Dracula’s Daughter, suffered rushed endings, evidently to clear the decks for the seven-issue countdown. Worlds Apart was the greater casualty of this; the final of the six dream worlds it explored was clearly cut too short. That world was only allowed one and a half episodes while the others had four or five. The result was an unsatisfactory exploration of the final world in the name of a rushed conclusion. Dracula’s Daughter gives the impression it may have been cut a bit short as well, but fortunately not so drastically that you would notice too much.

We also have two bookends in this issue. The first is Phil Gascoine, the only artist whose work lasted from the first issue (Gail’s Indian Necklace) to the final one (Badgered Belinda). The second is Tansy of Jubilee Street, who reminisces on her very first story in the very first issue of Penny (which merged with Jinty),  where she loses her diary and gets into all sorts of scrapes trying to find it. In the final Jinty, Tansy finds her diary has disappeared again. We get flashbacks of what happened the first time, and watch Tansy as she gets into new scrapes in her search for it, and horrible thoughts of what people will find out if they should read it. Much to her relief, Tansy finds her mother just put the diary away for safekeeping.

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(Cover artist: Mario Capaldi)

  • Pam of Pond Hill – continues in merger (artist Bob Harvey)
  • The Magic Tambourine: Gypsy Rose story – Gypsy Rose continues in merger (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street – ends, but returns in the Old Friends slot in merger – (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Sunday’s Child (end of series)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost – ends (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • A Window on the Past – Gypsy Rose story (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
  • Badgered Belinda – ends (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Fancy Meeting You! (text story)
  • The Bow Street Runner – continues in merger (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

[Edited by Comixminx: I thought readers might also be interested to see the double-page advert that ran in this final issue for the merged title.]

Pam’s Poll: Jinty & Penny 27 September 1980

On 27 September 1980, Jinty & Penny ran what is perhaps the most innovative poll in girls’ comics history – Pam’s Poll. This poll took the form of Pam’s school project. Pam’s questions were designed to gauge and adjust the balance of stories, the biggest favourites from the past, and what stories would make popular reprints.

The poll resulted in the reprints of Land of No Tears and Angela’s Angels (the latter because readers wanted a nursing story) in 1981. Pam’s Poll must also have been instrumental in the repeat of The Human Zoo during the Tammy & Jinty merger. The letters page revealed that many respondents had wanted Stefa’s Heart of Stone (1976) to return as well. Eventually Stefa was reprinted, but in Princess (series 2) and concluded in the Tammy & Princess merger. It is also possible that Pam’s Poll prompted the reprint of The Forbidden Garden in Tammy in 1984, a reprint that was sadly cut off by Tammy’s cancellation.

The stories Pam profiles in her project are:

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And here is the cover from the Pam’s Poll issue:

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(Cover artist: Bob Harvey)

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey)
  • Girl the World Forgot (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Tears of a Clown (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Pennies for Her Thoughts – Gypsy Rose story (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Child of the Rain (artist Phil Townsend)

Jinty 3 May 1975

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Not a particularly distinguished cover in itself, and sadly without any references to the stories inside. However, it’s quite a neat illustration of the sorts of competitions that were a regular feature of girls’ comics of the time.

A short self-contained set of stories ran at around this time, illustrating the nursery rhyme about people born on certain days of the week – here, “Thursday’s Child” who has far to go. In this case, a polish evacuee to England returns to Poland after the war to search for her parents, and finds… a memorial to herself put up in 1939. Her parents come to the grave to put flowers on it every month, and they meet that way; in three pages, this is a real distillation of a classic type of comic story.

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Tricia’s Tragedy (artist Ana Rodrigues)
  • Bet Gets The Bird! (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Thursday’s Child
  • Cinderella Smith (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Face the Music, Flo! (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Daddy’s Darling (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

Trini Tinturé

Spanish comic artist Trini is an iconic Jinty creator; her sharp lines lend themselves well to mean girls (Stacey in ‘The Slave of Form 3B’) and to humour (The Zodiac Prince). She has illustrated some true classics – ‘Creepy Crawley’ and ‘The Slave of Form 3B’ in particular – but whether drawing a one-shot Gypsy Rose story or a longer arc that gives her free rein with mad eyes and grins, her distinctive style is always a delight to see. She seems particularly good at brunettes with snapping glares, but her happy-go-lucky Zodiac Prince, one of the few male protagonists in a Jinty story, is also a memorable character.

Some of her stories are signed, such as this page from ‘Sisters At War!’ – a small neat signature in the very bottom left of the page that would be easy to miss. Even without that, it would be hard to avoid a contented recognition of her beautiful artwork on first sight.

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She is widely-published in Continental Europe, with long-running strips and short one-offs in Dutch comic Tina and in German magazine Biggi. Sadly though her name never became famous in this country in the way her artwork really deserves.

Her official website has text in English and Spanish.

List of Jinty stories attributable to Trini Tinturé:

Jinty & Penny 4 April 1981

Starting with this issue, the covers switched from sports covers to featuring the cover story. These were a cover size version of the spot illustrations for the text stories starting inside. The covers were still drawn by Mario Capaldi.

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(Cover artist: Mario Capaldi)

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey)
  • Diving Belle (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Arrow of Fate (Gypsy Rose story)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (Ken Houghton)
  • “He’s the Champ!” – text story (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Fancy Free (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters)

Jinty & Penny 21/28 June 1980

Beginning with this issue, Jinty, or rather, Jinty & Penny, switched to sports covers drawn by Mario Capaldi. Later, Jinty would run features on sporting tips, probably in line with the covers. The sports covers must have brought more emphasis to the sports stories that Jinty was known for, but it may have been unfair to her other types of stories, particularly the science fiction stories she was also known for. The change in cover may also reflect the change in editorship that occurred around this time.

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(Cover artist: Mario Capaldi)

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tearaway Trisha (artist Andrew Wilson)
  • Seulah the Seal (artist Veronica Weir)
  • The Venetian Looking Glass (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Alley Cat
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • The Magic Hockey Stick – Gypsy Rose story (artist Dudley Wynne)
  • Blind Faith (artist Phil Townsend)

 

 

Jinty 6 August 1978

By late 1976,  Jinty covers featured spot panels from the stories within. In the view of this writer, these were the most colourful and eye-catching Jinty covers. They are my favourite type of cover for a girls’ comic. They must have sold Jinty better because they gave you a tantalising taste of the contents that awaited you inside, and you had to pick the comic off the shelf to take a look.

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(Cover artist unknown)

Stories in this issue:

  • Dance into Darkness
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Knight and Day
  • The Changeling (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Clancy on Trial (artist Ron Lumsden)
  • Cathy’s Casebook (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Alley Cat

Gypsy Rose’s Tales of Mystery and Magic

Dates: 29/1/1977 – 21/11/1981
Tammy and Jinty: 28/11/1981 – 17/7/1982
Artists: Various, including Terry Aspin, Jim Baikie, Guy Peeters, Phil Townsend, Trini Tinturé, Carlos Freixas, Douglas Perry, Keith Robson, Douglas Perry and Hugo D’Adderio.

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(artwork by Keith Robson)

Spooky storytellers. The storytellers who bring you a spooky tale of mystery, creepiness, paranormal, magic, fantasy and even horror every week. Often there was a moral in it, with girls learning about courage and confidence, paying the price for bad behaviour, or some other lesson or experience they will never forget. Spooky storytellers were extremely popular mainstays in girls comics, and a spooky storyteller was guaranteed to last for years and even decades, as the Storyteller who brought us The Strangest Stories Ever Told proved. The Storyteller went through three comics – School Friend, June and, finally, Tammy. Other spooky storytellers included The Man in Black from Diana and Skeleton Corner from Judy/M&J. And Jinty had Gypsy Rose (no relation to Gipsy Rosa Remembers from Diana). ‘Gypsy Rose’s Tales of Mystery and Magic’ debuted in Jinty on 28 November 1977.

Gypsy Rose, as the name suggests, is a gypsy woman whose Romany understanding of the supernatural, not to mention her wanderings as a gypsy where she can encounter adventures in more distant places, brought an extra advantage to her stories. And from the beginning, Gypsy Rose showed us that she was going to break the conventional mould of the spooky storytellers in several ways. First, while most other storytellers were older people with a parental or creepy look to them, Gypsy Rose was a young woman. Second, Gypsy Rose not only told us the story but was often a story character as well, somewhat like DC’s Madame Xanadu. While she opened some stories with a panel to open the story and then a concluding panel to round it off as other story tellers did, she also took an active role in other stories as a supernatural consultant who has been called in for advice. This was only natural as she was a gypsy, who was expected to not only understood the supernatural but have powers of her own as well. The only one we really see is Rose consulting her crystal ball to answer a client’s query. The other is how, whenever she is called in, she always seems to know the story behind whatever is plaguing the consultant and able to tell them what is going on. How she knows is never revealed, though we do see her doing research in a library occasionally.

As Rose often acted as a supernatural advisor, her stories were set in the present and centred on ghosts, curses, strange happenings, and evil objects, places or people. For example, in ‘The Box of Hate’, one girl comes to Rose saying that she is being blamed for strange activities that are destroying her guardians’ shop. Rose comes along, traces the problem to a box which is inhabited by a poltergeist, and has the box buried. In ‘The Haunted Ballerina’, another client comes to complain of a malevolent force emanating from a mirror that she has just bought. It seems to be out to destroy her dancing career. Rose tells the client that the mirror is haunted by a jealous ballerina who hated to see others dance because she could not do so following an accident. The evil ends up destroying itself. We never see Rose fighting evil with exorcisms, magic charms or spells, though in one story she urges an angry god to stop chasing a girl who took a bracelet from a sacred site.

Whenever Rose was an actor in her stories, it brought one drawback – they had to be set in the present. There could be no period settings (except in flashback or in one case, time travel), science fiction stories, or fantasy stories dealing with mythical beasts and such, as could be done in the Storyteller stories as he merely narrated the story, not acted in it. So story material was limited to supernatural-based themes. Only in stories where Rose was the narrator could there be more diversity in the themes explored.

By 1980, the Gypsy Rose tales were all reprint. Some of them were reprints of her own stories, but others were reprints of old Strange Stories from Tammy and even June, but replacing the Storyteller with Rose. As such, she was now more a narrator than an actor and consultant. This did have the advantage of bringing more diversity to the story material. We began to see more period stories, fantasy and even a bit of science fiction. It also enabled artwork from non-Jinty artists such as Giorgio Giorgetti, John Armstrong and Diane Gabbot to appear in Jinty and give readers a taste of these artists. On the other hand, a fallback on reprints is never a good sign for a comic. All too often it reflects cost-cutting measures and/or that the comic was declining and approaching cancellation. Indeed, Jinty would merge with Tammy the following year.

After the merger, Gypsy Rose was rotated with the Storyteller in the spooky story slot until 17 July 1982, with the launch of a new-look Tammy. Her stories in the merger were new material and not reprints or recycled Strange Stories as they were in Jinty‘s final year. When the new-look Tammy appeared, spooky stories continued but their narrators disappeared – even the long-running Storyteller.

List of Gypsy Rose stories in Jinty (incomplete, to be added to as issues are posted)

  • 12 February 1977: Dream of Destiny (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • 19 February 1977: Hide and Seek with a Ghost! (artist Maria Barrera)
  • 5 March 1977: The Doll’s Dark Secret (artist Terry Aspin)
  • 12 March 1977: So Long at the Fair (artist Keith Robson)
  • 19 March 1977: The Hound from Hades (artist Terry Aspin)
  • 2 April 1977: The Holy Stones (artist Terry Aspin)
  • 9 April 1977: The Bells (artist unknown)
  • 23 April 1977: The Gemini Girl (artist Maria Barrera)
  • 7 May 1977: A Storm of Vengeance (artist Jim Baikie)
  • 4 June 1977: The Strawberry Handkerchief (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • 25 June 1977: The Lost Locket (artist Phil Townsend)
  • 2 July 1977: The Wish on Devil Rock! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • 9 July 1977: The Winged Spirit (artist Juan Garcia Quiros)
  • 16 July 1977: The Magic Tambourine (artist Douglas Perry)
  • 23 July 1977: Suburst! (artist Juan Garcia Quiros)
  • 3 September 1977: The Last Rose of Summer (artist unknown)
  • 22 October 1977: The Eternal Flame (artist Richard Neillands; writer Alison Christie)
  • 5 November 1977: The Thirteenth Hour (artist Douglas Perry)
  • 12 November 1977: The Carnival of Flowers (artist Guy Peeters)
  • 3 December 1977: A Picture of the Past (artist and writer Keith Robson)
  • 24 December 1977: The Spirits of the Trees (artist unknown)
  • 31 December 1977: Snowbound! (artist Keith Robson)
  • 29 January 1978: The Eyes of Chang (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Jinty Summer Special 1978: The Stone of Courage (artist unknown)
    • The Mirror That Knew The Truth (artist unknown) – reprint
  • 5 May 1979: Captive of the Stars (artist Juan Solé)
  • Jinty Holiday Special 1979: The Ghost of Charlotte (artist unknown) – reprint
  • Jinty Annual 1979: Chain of Destiny (artist Carlos Freixas) – reprint
    • Violetta’s Donkey (artist Richard Neillands) – reprint
    • Midnight Express (artist unknown)
    • Una the Unsinkable (artist Rodrigo Comos) – reprint
  • 5 January 1980: Did Taffy Know? (artist unknown)
  • 23 February 1980: Oasis of Dreams (artist Phil Townsend)
  • 1 March 1980: The Haunted Circus (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • 21/28 June 1980: The Magic Hockey Stick (artist Dudley Wynne)
  • 16 August 1980: Pictures of Peril (artist unknown)
  • Jinty Holiday Special 1980: Rock of Destiny (artist Rodrigo Comos)
    • The White Blackbird (artist John Richardson)
    • Porthole of Panic (artist unknown)
    • The Yellow Dress (artist John Richardson)
    • Laddie (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • 27 September 1980: Pennies for Her Thoughts (artist Douglas Perry)
  • 4 October 1980: A Call for Help (artist Terry Aspin)
  • 15 November 1980: A Cross for the Cornish Queen (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • 27 December 1980: An Ace Up the Sleeve (artist John Armstrong)
  • 7 February 1981: The Lollipop Man’s Promise (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • 14 February 1981: Friends for All Time (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • 4 April 1981: Arrow of Fate (artist unknown)
  • 9 May 1981: The Seal People (artist unknown)
  • 13 June 1981: The Resting Place (artist Veronica Weir)
  • 25 July 1981: The Veiled Threat (artist Tony Highmore)
  • 1 August 1981: The Witching Bones (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Jinty Holiday Special 1981: The Bracelet of Love (artist Jim Baikie)
    • They Always Know (artist Robert MacGillivray)
    • When Things Go “Bang” in the Night… (artist unknown)
  • 3 October 1981: The Wish on Devil Rock! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • 10 October 1981: The Robber Bird (artist unknown)
  • 31 October 1981: The Marble Heart (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • 7 November 1981: The Sable Knight (artist Keith Robson)
  • 14 November 1981: The Secret World (artist Keith Robson)
  • 21 November 1981: A Window on the Past (artist Hugo D’Adderio)