A Jinty Sampler, Part III

This is the final of three Sampler posts, the aim behind which is partly to give me a good excuse to range over all the years of Jinty‘s publication (rather than taking ages to get to the later issues), and partly to help look for some of the changes over time that are otherwise rather hidden.

  1. Issue 250: 10 March 1979
    • Extent and print details: 32 pages. Cover is in full colour; back cover and 5 pages in duotone (red and black).
    • Cover design: story image
    • Content: 10 stories; 2 humour, 2 gag strips.
    • Regular artists include Terry Aspin, Jim Baikie, Phil Gascoine, Guy Peeters, Ron Smith, Hugh Thornton-Jones, Phil Townsend, Peter Wilkes
  2. Issue 275: 1 September 1979
    • Extent and print details: 32 pages. Cover and two central advert pages in full colour; back cover in duotone (red and black).
    • Cover design: story montage (free-form)
    • Content: 8 stories, 1 humour strip.
    • Regular artists include Terry Aspin, Jim Baikie, Phil Gascoine, Richard Neillands, Guy Peeters, Trini Tinturé, Townsend, Peter Wilkes
  3. Issue 300: 23 February 1980
    • Extent and print details: 32 pages. Cover is in full colour; back cover and 5 pages in duotone (red and black).
    • Cover design: story montage (free-form)
    • Contents: 8 stories, 1 humour strip. “Sports Jinty” pages are marked out –  8 pages, of which 6 are made up of two stories (“Toni on Trial” and “White Water”). The other two pages are text about sports personalities (here Torvill and Dean) and “Winning Ways” tips for specific sports (here winning a bully-off in hockey)
    • Regular artists include Terry Aspin, Jim Baikie, Phil Gascoine, Bob Harvey, Hugh Thornton-Jones, Trini Tinturé, Phil Townsend.
  4. Issue 325: 16 August 1980
    • Extent and print details: 32 pages. Cover is full colour; back cover and 4 pages in duotone (red and black).
    • Cover design: sports image (Mario Capaldi)
    • Content: 9 stories; 2 humour, 1 gag. “Sports Jinty” pages are marked out –  7 pages, of which 6 are made up of two stories and 1 is how to do a cartwheel.
    • Regular artists include Phil Gascoine, Bob Harvey, Ken Houghton, Hugh Thornton-Jones, Trini Tinturé, Phil Townsend, Peter Wilkes.
  5. Issue 350: 7 February 1981
    • Extent and print details: 32 pages. Cover is full colour; back cover and 2 pages in duotone (blue and black).
    • Cover design: sports image (Mario Capaldi)
    • Content: no sports pages for stories but ‘new story’ ribbon and half a page on roller skating. 9 stories; 2 humour, 1 gag.
    • Regular artists include Mario Capaldi, Joe Collins, Phil Gascoine, Bob Harvey, Ken Houghton, Guy Peeters, Hugh Thornton-Jones, Phil Townsend.
  6. Issue 375: 1 August 1981
    • Extent and print details: 32 pages. Cover is full colour; back cover and a few other pages red & black
    • Cover design: text story image (Mario Capaldi)
    • Content: 9 stories + a text story; 2 humour, 1 gag strip.
    • Regular artists include Mario Capaldi, Joe Collins, Alberto Cuyas, Phil Gascoine, Guy Peeters, Hugh Thornton-Jones, Peter Wilkes.

It feels to me as if this latest group of issues is subtly showing some harder times for Jinty. There are fewer pages in anything other than black and white; indeed, issue 275 has only the central advert pages in colour and the other pages inside all in b&w. The blue printing briefly returns around issue 350, though to be fair I have no reason to suspect any associated budgetary or production constraints around the choice of colour: the editors of the time maybe just thought it looked nicer. Still, it seems an odd thing to do, as if they are trying a few different things out, perhaps.

Content-wise, the “sports Jinty” concept starts out strongly around the issue 300 mark and continues well for a while, but within a year it is down to being an incidental feature and none of the stories are marked out as specifically “sports”. (Likewise, the covers stop being specifically related to sports.) By 1981, although there are strong new stories still being printed, we are starting to see reprints of popular series (“Land of No Tears”, “Angela’s Angels“) and also re-workings of the “Strange Stories”, spooky tales from June and Tammy. Personally, I also think that the text stories are a bit of a death knell for a comics title: they feel so different in pace that I think they disrupt the pace of reading, and use up space to no good purpose.

(Of course, all these gloomy considerations are speculative post-hoc rationalisations in the absence of some sort of hard circulation figures to show whether there was any sort of associated drop in readership or whether it was simply that the editorial team were floundering a little. I’m not quite sure how I would go about finding out that data but I think I know someone I could ask; if I get any good figures to help tell this story, I will be back here updating to say what I’ve found.)

I do wonder about the reasoning behind reprinting popular strips. It is obvious that reprinting a good, popular story would be a safe and cheap way to attract new readers; and based on the replies to “Pam’s Poll“, clearly many readers also wanted old stories to return. But why did they want them to return? The original printing of the stories had in many cases only been a few years earlier (“Land of No Tears” had been published in 1977/78 and the poll took place in September 1980). If the readers had read them originally, then they could well have still had their old copies from that first printing; or it could be that they had become readers only after that time, but in that case how would they know the story in order to vote for it? Of course, if they had started reading it part-way through a particularly impressive story, or if they had unluckily lost a lot of their comics, that would be a strong reason for voting for something to be reprinted, but this can surely only have applied to a minority of cases. I tell you what I’d like to be true – that girls were passing down tales by word of mouth, older girls to younger, that – ‘listen! – there used to be this really fantastic story that I loved, and wouldn’t it be great if it was that one that they chose to reprint…’ But I don’t really think this is the case. What does anyone else think?

Finally, I note as far as creators are concerned that Phil Gascoine and Phil Townsend are still going strong until the end of the title (Phil Townsend continuing after the merger with Tammy, even though he happened not to be in issue 375). Guy Peeters was a fixture between 1977 and 1979 or so, returning in 1981 initially with the reprint of “Land of No Tears” but then continuing with one of Jinty‘s most memorable stories, the tour de force “Worlds Apart”. Terry Aspin and long-running Jim Baikie seem to finish their association with Jinty at similar times to each other, perhaps both with the ending of their sports stories (“Toni On Trial” and “White Water” respectively). Trini Tinturé’s beautiful artwork is sporadically visible, but the last stalwart from the early days is Mario Capaldi, now drawing two well-remembered stories (“Life’s a Ball for Nadine” and “Dracula’s Daughter”) as well as his striking cover images. (José Casanovas, alas, had already ceased to be a presence by this point.)

19 thoughts on “A Jinty Sampler, Part III

  1. Reprints were a big thing in Jinty’s final year. Not just with the reprints of Land of No Tears and Angela’s Angels, but the bulk of the Gypsy Roses falling back on reprints as well – either from her own stories or, more often, recycling Strange Stories and replacing the Storyteller with Rose. There were a few Gypsy Roses that may have been exceptions. Ironically, once Rose teamed up with the Storyteller in the Tammy and Jinty merger, her stories became 100% new material!

    Increase in reprints is never a good sign to me. It is an indication of a lower budget and/or falling profits. So you could be right about harder times for Jinty, and this may be the reason she merged with Tammy.

  2. Angela’s Angels was reprinted because readers in Pam’s Poll indicated they wanted a nursing story. Indeed, Jinty only had two serials on this theme – Angela’s Angels and Willa on Wheels. But why a reprint of Angela’s Angels? Why not a completely new nursing story? Is it because there indication that Angela’s Angels was popular the first time around and the editor counted on it being so again? Also, the editor made a point to readers that Angela’s Angels was one of the first Jinty stories, when she came out seven years before. Perhaps he was counting on nostalgia among older readers and curiosity among newer readers to further boost readership?

    Also, I find it a bit odd that Land of No Tears was reprinted so quickly – the interval between the reprint and the original run is unusually short – only four years. Yet Jinty seemed to hesitate about reprinting Stefa’s Heart of Stone, although readers had indicated in the poll and the letter column that they wanted it. And Stefa had been published the year before Land of No Tears. So there was a longer interval in between had Jinty reprinted Stefa in 1981 or during the merger, as was the case with the Human Zoo, which was two years younger than Stefa. Why was Jinty more quick to reprint Land of No Tears and Human Zoo than Stefa, when she was older than both of them?

    1. Perhaps they chose the science fiction stories over the heartbreak story? But then that only raises the further question of why would they do that – did they have any figures about respective popularity and so on. hmm.

  3. One thing I have just realised – by 1980, the year Pam’s Poll came out, Jinty was old enough to start reprinting her stories. Up until then, the only reprints she could have were from older comics. There is only one such reprint I know of in Jinty (besides the recycled Strange Stories in Gypsy Rose) – Angela Angel Face (originally Sandie) in 1980.

    Perhaps Pam’s Poll was the editor’s way of gauging what could make the best reprint material now that Jinty was old enough for reprints? And remember he was still a fairly new editor and probably felt he still needed to get a better grip on what to publish.

    1. I’m not quite sure what you mean in saying that Jinty was now old enough for reprints. Obviously if you reprint material right away in the first year or two then things will get very repetitive for readers, and if you reprint very old material after a comic has gone for years then this is cheap and could be popular. But the way you’re phrasing it almost implies to me that there was a known age after which you tended to see reprints happening in titles? Like say, that the cycle of years that a girl read Jinty for was typically 4 years and so now Jinty could freely expect to reprint material older than 4 years? (Guessing at the actual numbers of course.)

      1. I would not think there is a precise age of when a comic started reprinting her own material. But a very young comic would not do so – reprint stuff from older comics, yes. This did happen in the case of Princess (series 2), which reprinted stories from Jinty and Tammy. Girl (series 2) annuals were five years in the running before they started reprinting their own material instead of old serials from Tammy, Jinty and Misty.

        Jinty had been around for six years and going on seven when she started considering reprints in 1980. Maybe the editors thought enough time had lapsed between the original runs of her stories and potential for reprint. By implication, Jinty was old enough for reprinting her serials. They would not have considered reprints in Pam’s poll if Jinty had been younger, even if economics were pushing it. They would have been more likely to reprint material from older comics.

        Anyway, one of Jinty’s serials was reprinted in the Misty annual of that year. Girl annual 1983 also reprinted a Jinty story. Oddly, Jinty did not start reprinting her own serials in her own annuals until 1983 – up until then, she had reprinted older material. Perhaps there were copyright issues.

        However, I am a bit surprised that Land of No Tears was brought back so soon. From what I have gathered, the interval is about five years minimum at IPC and nine years at DCT. Maybe they made exceptions?

        1. Ah, that sort of guideline in your last paragraph is exactly the sort of thing I was after, thanks. Is that something you’ve worked out by looking at the issues in question, or something you’ve heard stated as a principle by others?

          1. From what I have gathered, I would not expect a girls’ comic to reprint her own material until she was five at least. About ten if she was healthy. But Jinty was under that age.

            1. Yes. What I was wondering was how you have gathered that understanding – through other people (maybe industry people) explicitly saying, or through your reading of the comics, or what?

              1. From what I have observed.

                I have also observed that Tammy was ten before she started reprinting her stories, starting with Olympia Jones. Jinty started at an earlier age – seven. And that was the year she was cancelled.

  4. I do recall one reader commenting in the letter page about how much they loved Land of No Tears and would never forget it. There may have been others. And other readers commented on the stories they loved in the past. It could be that this provoked curiosity in younger readers and they voted for that reason.

    Or maybe older readers voted for their old favourites because they wanted them back again, regardless if they had their originals or not. Besides, they would have known newer readers would enjoy them too.

  5. I think your suggestion that readers had lost their comics seems very plausible — it never occurred to me to hold on to my comics for a long time (I know! daft!), so the possibility of a fondly-remembered story returning would have been seized on with pleasure.
    Also, perhaps it depends on the age of the readers filling in the poll form – younger readers generally do enjoy repetition in a way that older readers don’t. (I know that’s a sweeping generalization, but there is some truth in it!)

    Slightly off-topic, but did the introduction of the Sports Jinty section – while it lasted – shift the bias of stories away from the fantastical? Or did it just concentrate the athletic stories all in one place? I like the fact that in Pam’s Poll it allowed readers to indicate the types of story they really loved.

    1. Yes, I can see that many kids wouldn’t hold onto their comics for all that long – certainly parents often threw or gave whole comics collections away! I did keep mine for a long time and re-read them regularly, but even then they did go the way of all flesh sometime after 1981 I think probably. So when Land of No Tears was reprinted I almost certainly still had the originals and probably even re-read them, but I can accept that I could well have been an exception rather than the rule.

      Re the Sports Jinty – I will have to review this and see. Good question!

    2. My initial feeling is that the introduction of the Sports Jinty section did not shift the bias away from the fantastical – you are still getting stories like “Spirit of the Lake”, “When Statues Walk”, and less seriously “A Spell of Trouble”. I think at the end of Jinty’s run there is a move away from the fantastical, though even then there is the stone cold classic “World Apart” running.

  6. One reader commented that she had lost her original copy of Land of No Tears. She cut it out and pasted it on cardboard. But she loaned it to a friend who thought it was for keeps and threw it out. She thanked Jinty for bringing back the serial and was now collecting it again. So it could be she voted for the serial’s return.

  7. Interesting to read all the commenst about the reprints. My guess is, that they just said that a story was reprinted by request of the readers to make it look less cheap. I can’t imagine thousands of readers wanting to have a story reprinted that was only a few years old, no matter how much they liked it. If you buy a comic, you want to read new stories. At least, that is my opinion.

    1. I know what you mean, but I think this will depend a lot on whether you keep / have been able to keep the old issues of the comic. I can certainly imagine having fond memories of a story that you read once and would like to read again, but didn’t keep copies of as your mother threw them away! After all, TV used to be a medium in which you hardly managed to see a repeat of a story unless you were lucky, and people had fond memories of episodes of eg Star Trek as a result.

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