June Book 1970

June Annual 1970 Cover

Cover by Phil Townsend

In this Annual:

  • Nella and Her Donkey (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • House of Phantoms (writer Jane Derwent, artist Carlos Freixas)
  • The Girl From Tibet (artist John Armstrong)
  • Who’ll Buy My Sweet Oranges? (poem)
  • Figure, Fashion and Facing Facts… (feature by Angela Barrie)
  • Nursing Is My Life (artist not identified)
  • Zoo Fun (photo feature)
  • Jeannie’s Unearthly Twin (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Long-Legged Peg (artist not identified)
  • Silverwing’s Jest (prose story)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Bessie’s Christmas Beano (recipes)
  • Cowboy Country (feature)
  • Bright and Beautiful (feature)
  • Debra’s Dolls (feature)
  • Enchanted Woodland (photo feature)
  • Guardians of the Temple: Strange Story (artist not identified)
  • Fun Spot (puzzles)
  • Sunshine Susie (artist not identified)
  • Oh, That Statue! – Surprise Corner (artist Colin Merritt)
  • Schoolgirl Models (prose story; writer Sheila Morton, artist not identified)
  • Kathy Must Stay! (artist not identified)
  • Cleo and the Cat (prose story; writer Denise Barry, artist Phil Townsend)
  • Things to Make and Do (crafts feature)
  • What A Laugh! (gag page)
  • Sam and Suki Save The Day (artist Robert MacGillivray)

I see that June called its Annual a ‘Book’ instead!

There is no dedicated internet source that I can find for discussion of June (though of course the Comics UK Forum covers this too); I hope everyone will forgive my inclusion of this ‘Book’ under the Jinty banner. June is not a girl’s paper that I know well, but I have been interested to read this annual in the light of now knowing that it is a direct precursor to Jinty: Mavis Miller was the editor of June & School Friend before being moved onto Jinty, seemingly as part of the general move of the time to pep up girls comics and make them sharper and less old-fashioned. (Around the time that Jinty was being prepared, June was merged with Tammy, which would be another reason to move the editor on.) We already know of some overlap in creators and themes between June and Jinty: “Nobody Knows My Name”, written by Alison Christie, was published in June under Mavis’s editorship. Looking at this Book, we can see even more overlap, and some interesting areas of difference too.

The annual starts off with a nice little animal story drawn by Trini: little Italian girl Nella is invited to be a bridesmaid at a posh society wedding; her pet donkey ends up saving the wedding presents from thieves. The art is beautiful, as always, and the story is sprightly and fun. It’s a story that would have fitted well into any Jinty annual, too.

The first text story, “House of Phantoms” has given me a bit of doubt: looking at the illustrations I am still not totally sure whether they are done by Comos or Freixas (who I hadn’t previously thought of as particularly hard to tell apart). The mouths are quite similar. On balance I am plumping for Freixas but am interested to hear other views! The story itself is exciting and dramatic (if very stereotyped in its portrayal of made-up South American countries) – not quite long enough, though, needing a few more twists and turns.

House of Phantoms

“The Girl from Tibet”, drawn by John Armstrong, is slicker than his later style. There is little dramatic tension though, because the title lead is clearly a bit of a supergirl who can do anything, so when she defeats the rather mimsy villain, it comes as not much of a surprise.

The Girl From Tibet

Here are some other pages from the Book:

Jeannie's Unearthly Twin

“Jeannie’s Unearthly Twin”, drawn (and signed) by Freixas, is very stylish; the story itself is a straightforward humorous ‘magical companion’ story à la “Vanessa From Venus”.

Oh that Statue!

“Oh, That Statue!” is ‘a gay story featuring the family at Surprise Corner’ – I understand  “Surprise Corner” to have been a regular in June. I can’t quite identify the artist, who does however look familiar – can anyone help? (I haven’t scanned a page of “Long-Legged Peg”, where again the artist looks familiar – I guess that again this might be a regular in the main comic and so might also be identifiable by others.)

Cleo and the Cat

The last text story, “Cleo and the Cat”, is rather fun – I was surprised too to see more than one named prose story writer (normally it seems as if the only named writer is Linda O’Byrne, who I have developed something of a soft spot for). This is illustrated by Phil Townsend – it’s not always all that easy to be sure who the illustrator is when it is finished quite differently from the pen-and-ink linework we are used to seeing in people’s comics, but the girl’s figure in the page shown above is unmistakeably Townsend. I have attributed this Book’s cover to Townsend too; that is harder to be sure about as I haven’t seen much painted full-colour artwork of his, but his faces are quite distinctive and I feel on reasonably good ground. (I’m always happy for further input though of course!)

Sam and Suki Save The Day

And finally, “Sam and Suki Save The Day” is by Robert MacGillivray, in a slightly less cartoony style than he used for “Desert Island Daisy” in Jinty some years later. He is an artist I am coming to appreciate more as I see a wider range of his styles.

So, what similarities and dissimilarities do I see in this June Book, compared to Jinty? Clearly there is an overlap between these final years of June and the first year of Jinty in terms of artists (MacGillivray, Townsend, Freixas). The Jinty Annuals ongoing also included a lot of material reprinted from June, often stories drawn by John Armstrong who also features in this Book; and writer Linda O’Byrne is clearly a carry-over from June too, though presumably writing new material for each Jinty Annual [edited to add – not sure why I said this last bit as Linda O’Byrne is not in either of my June Annuals!]. This gives the June book quite a similar feel superficially to the usual Jinty Annual. I think it’s also not too far-fetched to point to the logo for the two titles, which at least at this point in June’s evolution are quite similar, both featuring a golden-yellow colour and a slightly italic font.

I can see a few differences in approach, though. For one thing, June has a more old-fashioned feeling; the schoolgirls are uniformed, seemingly at fee-paying schools, denizens of that ‘school story’ world. Villains are self-interested not cruel, and lives are hardly ever at risk. One devotee of June on the Comics UK Forum would probably call this a nice change from the ‘depressing’ world of Tammy and early Jinty, so of course it all depends on your taste! (Having said this, of course June did include some stories of this ilk, as some were reprinted in later Jinty Annuals – “She Couldn’t Remember!” in the 1981 Annual being a particularly good example.)

For another, without doing a detailed comparison, it seems to me that this June Book is probably an item with rather higher production values than the typical Jinty Annual. The majority of the pages are printed in two or more colours, though the artwork itself is not always coloured (an extra step of work is required for this of course, as well as potentially more expensive printing). Comics pages such as “The Girl From Tibet” are produced in what looks like a line-and-wash technique, which again I think is likely to mean more expensive printing techniques for those pages. More of the writers are credited; this may or may not be associated with higher costs, but clearly they are ‘names’ that are worth printing, either because the agent for that writer has negotiated that, or because they are deemed sufficiently well-known to be worth it. And finally, nothing in this Book seems to be obviously reprinted from earlier publications; it has all been produced for an annual in this printing format, and looks like it is all original material. This is quite a big difference from the typical Jinty annual of latter times.

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10 thoughts on “June Book 1970

  1. I love June. I started with the Jinty and Tammy comics, but because I wanted to know something about all the comics that merged with these two, I bought several of them. And now I’m completely addicted to June, and Sandie, too. Sally is not too bad, either.
    The June comics from the 60’s look old fashioned (but in my opinion not dated), but the ones from the 70’s are *really* nice. Good stories, nice artwork. I was never a fan of John Armstrong, but I really do like his work from the 60’s and early 70’s. Carlos Freixas seems to be for June, what Phil Gascoine was for Jinty. In the early issues I have, he is not present, but in the later ones he’s always there. Sometimes even with two serials at the same time (which is not a very good idea, in my opinion).

    “Nella and her donkey” is a rather silly story, that ran for years in the Dutch Tina from 1968-70. If I remember well, she is looking for Francis of Assisi. Or Francis of Assisi tells her to go somewhere in the first episode. On or the other.
    The artist of “Oh, that statue!” is Collin Merritt (some sources claim it’s spelled as Merrett).
    The illustration of “House of phantoms” is definitely Carlos Freixas.
    I think you’re right about Phil Townsend for the cover, although the blonde girl could have been done by Robert MacGillivray. But I suppose only one artist worked on it.

    1. PS The episodes of “Long-legged Peg” that I know are by Robert MacGillivray. But perhaps in this book she was drawn by someone else?

    2. That’s rather a nice idea, that you started off with the more modern comics and then also got hooked on their precursors! I can see I shall have to look out for more myself. It’s very odd, I seem to have bought two June annuals (1970 and 1971) and only skimmed through the 1971 and not even read the 1970 one at all! So it was a nice thing for me to be able to read through with a fresh eye.

  2. Shelagh’s Shadow is one June story where June could go for darkness and cruelty, in the form of Mr Murdock, the most ruthless, obsessive slave-driving coach you ever saw. He forces Ann to train although she is badly injured in one arm, turns vicious to Shelagh because she won’t have him as her manager, and the same ruthless training was revealed to be responsible for the death of Ann’s mother.

    1. Indeed. I mentioned ‘She Didn’t Remember’ specifically because I read it at the time in the annual and it stuck with me, but as you say, ‘Shelagh’s Shadow’ is just as dark.

  3. About the logo: this was actually the logo June used for her weekly comics from 1961-1963. They kept using it for the annuals until the one from this entry (1970). For the 1971-1973 annuals they used the logo from 1967-late 1971. And only from the 1974 annuals onwards, they used the logo that was used for the weeklies from late 1971 until the end in 1974.

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