Artist: Phil Gascoine
Bird-Girl Brenda was an early replacement in the Jinty lineup, probably taking over from the short-lived “Desert-Island Daisy“. Like Daisy, Brenda was a light strip to give us laughs, but there were also thrills and a means for us to indulge in the dream of flying. Brenda was drawn by Phil Gascoine, who was also still drawing “Gail’s Indian Necklace”. This meant a double workload for Gascoine (hope he did not mind too much) and an overlap of his artwork, appearing in two strips simultaneously. In fact, Brenda starts on the page after Gail in her debut issue.
It all starts when Brenda finds herself locked out of the house. She wishes she could fly so she can reach the window. And bingo, she finds herself flying! She flies up to the window, though her inexperience with this new power means it is not smooth sailing, er, flying. There is never any explanation of how her wish is granted, or how she is now able to fly whenever she wants to. “I can’t describe what it’s like. I just think about it, and one moment my feet are on the ground, and next they’re in the air!” And so the stage is set for loads of high-flying fun with Brenda. And the fun must have been popular with readers, because Brenda lasted seven months. Despite this, Brenda made no appearances in the 1974 annual; perhaps the annual had already gone to press?
Flying leads to all sorts of adventures, filled with laughs and thrills. Flying proves very handy if Brenda is pressed for time to get to a place, or if there is a task outside which requires scaling heights. And of course it is useful for emergencies. For example, in one episode Brenda is getting ready for her birthday party when she finds her mother overlooked the invitations. Flying is the only way to get them delivered in record time, and Brenda has to do so without her power being discovered. This leads to a few mishaps and scrapes, but Brenda gets them all done. At the party, Brenda’s guests marvel at how she must have trudged miles to deliver the invitations, yet she is so fresh that she looks as if she never made a step.
Brenda’s power also enables her to do people lots of good turns. For example, in the November issue, the kids next door look like they will miss out on Guy Fawkes because the fireworks got ruined. And Brenda has spent her money on other things, so she cannot provide some to share. So she makes improvised fireworks out of sparklers, cut-up glitter paper, and her power to fly. The kids are awed and think the fireworks must be really fancy and expensive ones. Sometimes it happens more by accident; for example, the wind sends Brenda flying into a museum, where she unwittingly sets off a series of mishaps that end up with her wishing she had stayed home. However, the mishaps have unexpected results that make the headlines, and the museum has even more visitors.
Naturally, the power is also used to punish wrongdoers at times. For example, in the Halloween issue, Brenda uses her power to put a Halloween scare into some yobs who were harassing her. Later, she discovers the yobs were planning to crash her friend’s Halloween party and ruin it. The friend is glad that the yobs did not show up, although she is puzzled as to why. Of course, Brenda cannot tell her. The power must be kept secret, and the efforts in doing so lead to some awkward situations and scrapes.
But of course all good things come to an end. In the final episode, Brenda’s mother prompts her to go out on a ramble with her friends. The excursion has Brenda realising that she has neglected her friends and been missing out on good times because she distanced herself in her efforts to keep her powers secret. Perhaps that is why the power to fly now vanishes as abruptly as it appeared. Brenda’s flying days are over, but after what she has learned, she does not even mind.
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