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.

Image

(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.

Here is the first Gypsy Rose story, “The Ring of Death”, from Jinty and Lindy 29 January 1977; art by Jim Baikie.

Gypsy Rose Ring of Death pg 1

Gypsy Rose Ring of Death pg 2Gypsy Rose Ring of Death pg 3

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

  • 29 January 1977: The Ring of Death (artist Jim Baikie)
  • 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)
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