Monthly Archives: May 2014

Jinty 31 August 1974

Jinty cover 31 August 1974

Last episode of the Cinderella story that started off the first issues of Jinty, namely “Make-Believe Mandy“.

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Always Together… (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Wenna the Witch (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Make-Believe Mandy (artist Ana Rodrigues)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Rafart)
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Left-Out Linda (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Hostess with the Mostest
  • Wild Horse Summer
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)
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Jinty 24 August 1974

Jinty cover 24 August 1974

A rather crumpled and tattered copy of this issue, I’m afraid! But them’s the breaks when scanning an ephemeral item coming up for its 40th birthday in just a few months…

Mario Capaldi is powering ahead with the antics of Katie Jinks; he clearly adopted a slightly different style for this humour strip, with more exaggerated features, grimaces, motion lines and so on than in his ‘straighter’ work.  Phil Townsend’s art is beautiful, as ever, in the sad story “Always Together…”; beautiful, but rather old-fashioned in feel. This was probably his first story for Jinty and certainly generally I would think of his art as classic rather than positively old-fashioned.

Starting in this issue is a one-pager called “The Hostess with the Mostest”, featuring “TV’s Golden Girl, Anne Aston”. It’s a gag strip but drawn fairly crudely; the title character is a real person, and in aiming to represent that it comes across rather as if a (fairly mediocre) page of Mad Magazine had wandered out of its usual milieu. Odd stuff. [Edited to add: via Catawiki I have a possible attribution for this; it suggests that it is by artist Stanley Houghton, who drew for a number of girls’ comics. I am not 100% convinced but have added it in for now; here is some clearly-attributed Stanley Houghton artwork for comparison.]

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Always Together… (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Wenna the Witch (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Make-Believe Mandy (artist Ana Rodrigues)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Rafart)
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Left-Out Linda (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Hostess with the Mostest (artist Stanley Houghton)
  • Wild Horse Summer
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)

A Dream For Yvonne (1974)

Sample images

Yvonne 1

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Yvonne 2

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Yvonne 3

Publication: 11/5/74-27/7/74
Artist: Miguel Quesada
Writer: Unknown

Summary
Yvonne Laroon comes from a long line of circus performers and her family takes it for granted she will follow in their footsteps. But ever since Yvonne saw Swan Lake on television, she has had other ideas – to become a ballerina. She certainly has talent for it, thanks to her acrobatic circus skills, but no formal ballet training and does not even know what a plié is. Even worse, her parents do not approve, saying she is born for the circus and that is that.

Yvonne comes across Alexia Company Ballet School and climbs up onto the roof to take a look at a lesson. She gets more than she bargained for and ends up crashing through the roof. She is mistaken for a new girl they were expecting. After a demonstration of what dancing she can do, she is accepted into the school. But as her parents still won’t hear of her becoming a ballerina, to the point of Dad threatening to belt her, she runs away from the circus to the school. She decides to keep her circus origins secret, fearing expulsion because of it.

Having had no ballet training, Yvonne has to pick it up fast, by watching how others move and swotting up ballet books. And of course there has to be a jealous rival out to make trouble. In this case it is Lisa Telemann, a star pupil from a rival company, Pavel. Lisa becomes suspicious of Yvonne’s origins and eventually finds out the truth. Lisa gets peeved when Yvonne becomes a cygnet in The Dance of the Little Swans. She tries a blackmail note and then a phony telegram to recall Yvonne to the circus. At the circus, Yvonne discovers the trick. But her father disowns her when she insists on continuing with ballet.

Worse, on the way back Yvonne has an accident and loses her memory. This causes her to fall into the power of the unscrupulous Ma Crompton, who takes advantage of her amnesia and dance talent to exploit her. Yvonne eventually escapes Ma Crompton and comes across a Swan Lake poster that stirs some memory. She heads to the theatre, not realising Lisa has spotted her, and Lisa arranges for the doorman to block Yvonne.

Yvonne ends up in a home, where the matron takes her for a bad sort and threatens her with the reformatory. Yvonne runs off, where she bumps into the circus and saves the horses from an accident. During the process Yvonne bumps her head, which restores her memory. She is reconciled with her parents, who stop interfering with her dream after they hear what she has been through. They take her back to the ballet school. Lisa’s trick with the telegram is discovered, and she is expelled. Yvonne can now study ballet without interference.

Thoughts
Ballet stories are bread-and-butter in girls’ comics, so Jinty’s first line-up would hardly have been complete without one. It was drawn by Miguel Quesada, a regular on the Tammy team during her first five years, but this was his only outing in Jinty. Quesada drew some ballet stories for Tammy as well, but it must be said that he could have done with more research on drawing ballet. The poses look angular and positions often not drawn correctly. And the title itself sounds a bit uninspired and perhaps could have done with more imagination.

Storywise, there are certainly plenty of well-tried elements in girls’ comics to keep the drama high and ensure readers stayed hooked on this one: circus theme, fugitive theme, jealous rivals, amnesia, exploitation, determination and courage, difficult parents, a nasty matron, reformatory, and even some laughs as Yvonne gives demonstrations of her circus tricks. Ballet theme combined with circus theme would certainly have been a powerful combination. The circus is always popular in girls’ comics (although the theme was oddly sporadic in Jinty).

Contracting amnesia and falling into the clutches of a crook because of it is an oldie but a goodie in girls’ comics, and would certainly have helped to make this story popular as well. There is also plenty of action and the story moves at a cracking pace. In summary, “A Dream for Yvonne” had plenty in it to make it a strong, thrilling, fast-paced story in the first line-up.

The episode where the father disowns Yvonne is a shock that must have taken readers by surprise. Parents who disapprove of their daughter’s dreams are common enough in girls’ comics, but seldom do they go that far. The father’s move is even more shocking as the parents do seem loving and caring – just lacking a little understanding. It must have been a relief to readers when the parents finally change their minds and start helping Yvonne.

Incidentally, the episode where Yvonne is threatened with the reformatory has echoes of a Quesada story in Tammy, “The Stranger in My Shoes”. Could it be the same writer?

Jinty 8 April 1978

Jinty cover 8 April 1978

I am skipping ahead to 1978 because of some exciting news yesterday – the identification of an artist who is a favourite of mine and co-writer Mistyfan’s, but who had been languishing in the “unknown artist” group until now. The beautiful cover art above is by Terry Aspin, a Welsh artist based in Wrexham. His granddaughter, Josie Rayworth, indicated that Terry drew for Jinty amongst other titles and the rest of the detective work proceeded quickly. A specific blog post for Terry will follow in due course, covering his work on Jinty stories such as “Alice In A Strange Land”, “Toni on Trial”, “The Girl Who Never Was”, and “Almost Human”.

One of the aspects of the cover montage above that I particularly like is that it uses images from much of the story, rather than simply some images from inside that specific comic issue. You get a good impression of the whole story therefore. Clearly either the whole story must have been already in the hands of the editors so that they could do the montage, or Terry Aspin did the cover himself having drawn much of the story.

Stories in this issue:

  • Concrete Surfer (writer Pat Mills)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Slave of the Swan (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Alley Cat
  • Waking Nightmare (artist Phil Townsend)
  • The Zodiac Prince (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Paula’s Puppets (artist Julian Vivas)
  • Shadow on the Fen (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Cathy’s Casebook (artist Terry Aspin)

Jenny – Good or Bad Friend? (1974)

Sample image

Image

Publication: 6(?) July 1974 – 17 August 1974
Artist: Unknown
Writer: Unknown

Summary

“This is the story of a friendship between Jenny and Laura and how it broke up. Jenny tells the story while the editor questions her – and you, readers, must decide in the end who was to blame”.

Jenny tells us how she and Laura have been friends ever since they were little. It has been an exclusive friendship between the two, with no other friends. Then Laura befriends another girl, Carol. Jenny, who has been long used to having Laura to herself, is understandably upset and resents the third party. The trouble is how she reacts. She blames Carol, accusing her of stealing her friend with bribes. Jenny then starts playing nasty tricks on Carol, such as sabotaging her efforts to win a swimming race (afterwards justifying it to the querying editor that she did it so Laura would win) and even on Laura, such as hiding her tennis shoes, in her efforts to come between Carol and Laura. Accusations and counter-accusations lead to arguments between Carol and Laura and Laura and Jenny. But things always get patched up and no breakups either way. But Jenny gets ever more furious and sees no wrong in what she is doing: “Carol’s trying to pinch my best friend, so anything’s fair!”

It all comes to a head when Laura’s birthday comes up. Jenny is furious when Carol’s present (a real gold bracelet) outdoes hers and believes Carol did it on purpose. Not to be outdone, she hires a conjurer for Laura’s party. Carol realises this and confronts Jenny, who replies, “Laura’s my friend, so she does not need presents from you!” But it backfires when Jenny finds she did not understand that the £2 she paid the conjurer was meant to be a deposit, not the full fee, and another £3 is required. Carol graciously offers to pay the money. But Jenny is far from grateful – she accuses Carol of making her look a fool and hits her. It is then that Laura breaks up with Jenny, saying it is because she has changed.

A very tearful Jenny tells us that she just wanted her friend back and never wanted any other friend but Laura, because Laura was the best friend she had ever had. She asks if it was her fault and if so, where did she go wrong?

So now is the time for readers to decide? Strangely, the editor offers no facility for readers to express their opinions. Instead, the editor offers her own opinion, which reads:

“I can imagine how Jenny felt. For so long there had been just her and Laura; they had grown up together, been together since they were tots. Then along comes Carol – and Jenny resented her. Which, perhaps, was quite natural. But where Jenny went wrong was to allow Carol to spoil her own relationship with Laura. Laura was right, Jenny did change. She played mean tricks and she lied and cheated … and all because she wouldn’t share Laura with another girl.

“Poor Jenny! I think she was wrong, but I feel sorry for her … and I hope that, one day, she and Laura will make it up.”

Thoughts

Serials about friendships turning sour because of jealousy, or protagonists telling their own stories is nothing new in girls’ comics. But what is new, perhaps even unique, is the agony aunt take on it. Readers are invited to not only read and enjoy the story, but also participate in it, with assurances of their being the jury at the end of the story. So it must have been a let-down at the end when in the end there is nothing anywhere – not even an invite to the letters page – for readers to express their judgements on who is to blame. Instead, the editor presents her own opinion. But what still catches your attention is the constant breaking of the Fourth Wall as the editor keeps questioning Jenny (in black speech balloons) and Jenny giving her replies.

This is certainly a different take on the modes of storytelling in a girls’ serial. But this was the only time it ever appeared in Jinty. To the best of my knowledge it never appeared elsewhere. Perhaps it was an experiment that did not prove as successful as hoped? Maybe it was too moralising and preachy for readers’ tastes? Or was it just meant to be a one-page filler?

Even more to the point, why did this format appear at all? Perhaps the editor was experimenting. After all, Jinty was still new, and must have been open to innovative and fresh ideas. Or was it reprinted from elsewhere as a stop gap while Jinty was setting up other things in her line-up? Ah, the things we may never know without interviews.

Incidentally, Jinty‘s foray into the world of the agony aunt did not end with this story. Later she would run a problem page, and also a series called “Is This Your Story?“, where she would portray stories about problems and lessons that readers might relate to. In one story, a twelve-year-old thinks her parents are treating her like a baby, but eventually realises she was trying to grow up too fast. In another, a girl has developed a bad habit of telling lies. But inevitably she gets caught out in a lie and now fears expulsion.

Jinty 10 August 1974

Cover Jinty 10 August 1974

The cover looks in places a little as if another artist could have done the finishing, but that could perhaps simply be the print quality; certainly the black and white story pages inside are clearly Mario Capaldi doing the Jinx From St Jonah’s; the transition to another artist still lies a little ahead.

There is some sort of special “pull out” in the middle pages – part 5 of 6 – “all about you!” – with tips on looking after your skin and a section of horoscope (Virgo and Libra). More interesting to me now is the first episode of “Left-Out Linda” drawn by Jim Baikie – the first time I know of this long-term and popular artist appearing in Jinty. Another new story starting this issue is “Wenna the Witch”, art by Carlos Freixas; again the first instance I know of his art appearing in Jinty.

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Always Together… (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Wenna the Witch (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Make-Believe Mandy (artist Ana Rodrigues)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • What’s Cooking? Ayrshire Shortbread, Helensburgh Toffee (recipes)
  • Jenny – Good or Bad Friend?
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Left-Out Linda (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Snobs and the Scruffs
  • Wild Horse Summer
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)
  • Jinty made it herself… so can you! (craft: make a scented pillow)

Jinty 1 June 1974

Jinty cover 1 June 1974

This marks the first of the style of cover that I have remarked on previously: a page of “The Jinx From St Jonah’s”, promoted to the front page as an enticement to the reader. The layout is more boxy than is the case later on, with more panels and less of a ‘splash page’ feel (excuse the pun, given what is depicted here). Mario Capaldi’s art is nice, but not quite as elegant as it later becomes: Katie Jinx’s legs and arms in the first panel, in particular, are rather spindly.

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • The Haunting of Form 2B (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Gwen’s Stolen Glory
  • Make-Believe Mandy (artist Ana Rodrigues)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Rafart)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • The Snobs and the Scruffs
  • Pony Parade 4: Snatcher’s Cleverest Trick
  • A Dream for Yvonne (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • Gail’s Indian Necklace (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Desert Island Daisy (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • What’s Cooking? Omelette aux Champignons (recipe)
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)
  • Jinty made it herself… so can you! (craft: bird mobile)

Jinty 18 May 1974

Jinty cover 18 May 1974

Stories in this issue:

  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • The Haunting of Form 2B (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Gwen’s Stolen Glory
  • Make-Believe Mandy (artist Ana Rodrigues)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Rafart)
  • The Jinx From St. Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Pony Parade 2: Don’t Call Me Ragbag!
  • The Snobs and the Scruffs
  • A Dream for Yvonne (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • Gail’s Indian Necklace (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Desert Island Daisy (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • What’s Cooking? Broad bean eggah, Spinach eggah (recipe)
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)
  • Jinty made it herself… so can you! (craft: net bag)

Even as early as the second issue, Phil Gascoine has included a signature in one of his pages of art. (That is, it doesn’t seem done as a reaction to the success of a given story or title.)

I don’t know what happened to the bracelet from the first issue, but we used this hairbrush as a doll’s hairbrush for a long time.

Jinty 11 May 1974

Jinty cover 11 May 1974

Aha! I said earlier that I didn’t have the first issue of Jinty, but in fact it was there, a purchase subsequent to the bulk acquisition I made in my twenties of four or five years of Jinty. I have had some delays at home in getting a working scanner connected and tested, but that is now sorted so I am able to catch up with some scanning that was previously impracticable for me. (Many thanks to other fans, particularly to site co-writer Mistyfan, who have been supplying some missing scans that I didn’t already have scanned previously.)

Stories in this issue:

  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • The Haunting of Form 2B (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Gwen’s Stolen Glory (writer Alan Davidson)
  • Make Believe Mandy (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Rafart)
  • The Jinx From St. Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • The Snobs and the Scruffs
  • Pony Parade 1: Sandy, Come Home!
  • A Dream for Yvonne (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • Gail’s Indian Necklace (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Desert Island Daisy (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • What’s Cooking? Cream of Carrot Soup, Cream of Corn Soup (recipes)
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)
  • Jinty made it herself… so can you! (craft: pencil box)

This first issue has the wide mix of stories that characterises girls’ comics generally at this period: humour strips and gag strips (“Dora Dogsbody”, “The Jinx From St Jonah’s”, “Do-It-Yourself Dot”, “The Snobs and the Scruffs”, and “Desert Island Daisy“), a couple of spooky stories (“The Haunting of Form 2B”, “Gail’s Indian Necklace“), a slave story (“Merry at Misery House“), a Cinderella story (“Make Believe Mandy“), a friendship story (“Angela’s Angels“), and a deception story (“Gwen’s Stolen Glory“). In fact the weighting given to humour and gag strips in this first episode is a bit overwhelming, and this is quite soon slimmed down so that only a couple of these items run each issue.

The focus on this blog is generally going to be on the stories; my main interest is in comics and that is what people tend to remember most. It would be remiss not to at least sketch out some of the non-comics material included in some issues, though; in this first issue there is an editorial page introducing the new “story-paper”, advertising the next issue’s free gift, and promising competitions with great prizes. From the beginning, there is a request for input from the readers as to the stories that will be included: “let us know the stories you like in Jinty – and any you don’t like, too!”

The featured competition promises that you can “win £1 a week pocket money for two whole years!” (Cover price for this weekly comic was 5p, so this would be a very generous prize). The challenge was to collect the first four issues of Jinty and to then decide which of the following six occasions would you wear each of the “super outfits” shown in those issues. (Occasions being a country ramble, a friend’s birthday party, a record session with your chums, your brother’s school open day, a pop concert, and a special shopping spree in a big city.)

In addition to the competition, there was also a single page text story (“Sandy, Come Home!” – labelled Pony Parade 1 – and a “Jinty’s Fun and Games” page with single-panel gags and, coin tricks, and so on. Further on there was a page with some “Well I Never” surprising facts and a recipe for making soup. The last page was dedicated to a “Jinty made it herself… so can you!” item. In future issues the text story was gradually phased out (returning sporadically); the other items were reasonably regular types of feature. Of course in this first issue there could be no letters page yet.

Altogether, it does feel like a very packed-out issue, if not yet showing the unique slant that made Jinty special to me and lots of other readers.

Land of No Tears (1977-78)

Sample images

Land of No Tears episode 7 pg 1
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Land of No Tears episode 7 pg 2
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Land No Tears ep 7 - 3

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Publication: 5 November 1977 – 11 February 1978; reprinted 3 January 1981 – 11 April 1981 as a result of Pam’s Poll.

Artist: Guy Peeters

Writer: Pat Mills

Summary

Cassy Shaw was born with one leg shorter than the other and a consequent bad limp, but she doesn’t feel sorry for herself; what’s more, she is quite happy to play on the sympathies of those who do. Her parents have different ideas: they arrange for her to have an operation that will correct her disability. In the operation, something very unusual happens: Cassy is whirled away through time into the future, a cruel future in which girls who are less than utterly perfect are treated as second-class citizens. She is greeted (with something very different from the sympathy she is used to) by Alpha girl Perfecta, who takes her to the nearest communal home or hive, run by a ‘hive mother’, who takes in children from the age of four and turns them into emotionless, physically perfect “superior girls”.

Cassy quickly revolts against this harsh treatment, where the Gamma girls are dressed in shabby clothes, treated like skivvies, and given literal scraps from the Alpha girls’ tables while the latter hone their mental and physical perfection and live in luxurious surroundings. She urges the Gamma girls to train at sports in order to beat the Alphas and win the Golden Girl award, proving that ‘rejects’ like them can’t safely be despised and humiliated. At first the Gamma girls are understandably sceptical, but Cassy finds allies first in her fellow Gamma, Miranda, who would have been an Alpha if her robo-nurse hadn’t left her too near a radiator which caused her to have a bald patch; and subsequently in Miranda’s mysterious mother, who wears heavy make-up and is clearly hiding a secret, but who is a fantastic trainer. Cassy herself has always been good at swimming and finds that the hive pool has a pace-setter – film of Perfecta swimming. “Racing against Perfecta is just what I need to spur me on. I’ll do anything to beat that stuck-up snob!”

Things initially look sticky in the first round of the Golden Girl trials, but Cassy wins her swimming heat, causing Perfecta to sweat as she realises “She’s better than me! She’s better than me! Those wretched Gamma girls could get through to the final… Could even win the Golden Girl award. I feel sick!” Not so fast – an announcement comes over the tannoy saying that Cassy has been disqualified – there are no records for her, and so the authorities think she must be competing under an assumed name. A reprieve happens when the computer fails to match her up with anyone else – as indeed how could it, as Cassy’s voiceprint and fingerprints never got recorded in this future time. However, this has brought suspicion on the hive generally and further investigations are promised.

Miranda’s mother appears in time to watch her gymnastics performance, which starts off lacklustre but is spurred on by her mother’s presence. This gives the Golden Girls another win, but the mother is furious – with Cassy. “Thanks to you, the Hive Inspector is coming down to investigate. He’ll ask questions about everyone. He’s certain to find out I’ve been meeting my daughter in secret. And then they’ll take her away from me, for ever!” (Yes, that was her secret – or at least, part of it…) Because of this, Miranda feels she can’t be friends with Cassy any longer; and Perfecta, desperate to train as hard as possible, breaks off with her best friend too, setting things up for a head-to-head between the perfect girl and the 20th century “reject’.

It’s a head-to-head that seems doomed to failure for Cassy, not because she is slower than Perfecta, but because Perfecta is about to spill the beans to the visiting Hive Inspector about having seen Miranda’s mother where she wasn’t supposed to be. “When I tell him, he’ll have Miranda and her mother put into a special prison… and serve them right, too!” Cassy can prevent this – but only by promising to lose to Perfecta in the Golden Girl finals. Miranda’s mother comes, sobbing and grateful, to thank Cassy for this sacrifice; the heavy make-up comes off with her tears and reveals … Miss Norm, the Hive Mother! That’s how she has managed to appear and disappear so unexpectedly at times.

Miss Norm tells the story of how the robo-nurse was left to look after Miranda when she was a baby, because Miss Norm wanted to enjoy herself without the responsibilities of motherhood; but as the nurse’s heat sensors were faulty she put the cot too close to the radiator and Miranda’s head got scorched. “If it hadn’t been for the accident, Miranda would have been an Alpha girl. She was perfect…” – Miss Norm doesn’t regret the cruel system of Alphas and Gammas, she just regrets the accident that placed her daughter on the wrong side of the divide. “I had to make things up by protecting her now… When the time came for her to be taken away to the Hive, I changed my name and got the job of Hive Mother.”

Cassy is out of the running because of her promise, but she hasn’t told any of the other Gamma girls, who do well in the final heats. Perfecta draws inexorably ahead as Cassy lets her win, but suddenly Perfecta screams in pain – she has done something to her spine by pushing herself faster and further! She is out of the race, and Cassy speeds up to try to make up for lost time. Even the crowd are on her side, now, despite the Hive Inspector urging them to “Remember your conditioning… “Feelings – bad! Bad! Self-control… Good! Good!” In a final surge, Cassy pips the other racers and ensures that the Gamma girls win the award – to the cheers of the crowd, who push the protesting Hive Inspector out of the way and into the pool.

In the aftermath, Miranda and Cassy are chatting about the changes that have happened since their win: “it seems people were pretty fed-up with things. When a bunch of “reject” girls won a top sports award, they realised they’d had enough of being bullied.”  But Cassy is still stuck in this future world – until their walk takes them near to the ruins of the hospital, the place where Cassy first emerged and met Perfecta. She falls down a crumbly part of the ruined site and… wakes up in her own time, with the leg operation having been successful. Was it just a dream? No, because she is still clutching her Golden Girl medallion. “Then everything did happen… the Hive, the Gamma girls, Miss Norm, Miranda! I’ll always have this to remember them by… and the time I spent in the land of no tears.”

Themes and further comment

I keep on comparing Jinty stories with other media items: Children of Edenford with The Stepford Wives, Almost Human with Superman. Not without reason – this revisioning of  stories from elsewhere was an acknowledged policy of girls’ comics, as Pat Mills explained to me back in 2005. Well, this story is nothing so much as Brave New World, Aldous Huxley’s sf classic, done schoolgirl-style. The future is cold, regimented, divested of family feeling, inhuman; the people in it are divided into superior types and inferior “rejects” (even the Alpha and Gamma terminology is taken from Brave New World).

However, the main point of the story is picked up in the word “elitism” that Mills mentions in that interview. Like “Children of Edenford”, the newcomer is faced with a group that creates and values a certain set of élite qualities, though the specific qualities are different in this story, focusing as they do more on physical perfection. Protagonist Cassy is fired up by the injustice of this; her response to this society is not just selfishly wanting the sympathetic response she was used to in her previous world, but to tear down the whole evil structure – a true class warrior response. (In fact, although her normal world is much more comfortable for her, it also did her few favours by not making her challenge herself in the way that she is clearly capable of, not that she would necessarily have seen it that way.) Cassy’s journey from selfish manipulator to crusader is quick: in the first episode she is shown cannily and coldly getting her own way, but as early as the second episode she is already thinking of the wider picture (she comforts one of the crying four-year-old new Hive entrants by giving her a doll).

Again as with “Edenford” and other stories of this kind, some of the interest is in the sheer outrageousness of how far the writer is prepared to ladle it on. The future girls are called ‘Perfecta’ and ‘Divina’; they take showers in icy-cold water; the girls wear big As or Gs on their clothes to denote their status. This verve moves the story on quickly, still including touches of realism, such as the bitchy relations between the lower-class Gamma girls, who have no-one but each other to pick at. If you are picky, there are indeed plot holes to poke at. How did we get from our current soft-hearted society to the future hard-nosed one? Does the setup apply across the world, and if so what will happen given the collapse of the hive society at the end of the story? (And if it wasn’t world-wide then what happened in terms of collaboration between different types of society?) And most of all, how can it be that positive human emotions such as the love shown between Miranda and her mother is at all sustainable, even in hiding, in this repressive set-up? These are however side-issues that don’t occur as you avidly read through this exciting story.

Unlike almost all other Jinty stories, in this case we know both the artist and the writer. Pat Mills is well-known for writing science fiction and anti-establishment stories, so it comes as little surprise to assign his name to this story. Artist Guy Peeters has a distinctive style that makes it easy to link his uncredited art to the stories he did later on when credits were published. I would say that this is one of Peeters’ best works, with varied layouts, expressive features on the characters, and a solid depiction of the uncaring future society. It is little surprise to me that this story was shortlisted in Pam’s Poll for readers to vote on a reprint of, nor that it should have emerged a winner.