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.
“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.
Here are some other pages from the Book:
“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!” 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.)
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!)
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.