Monthly Archives: January 2016

Jinty 9 September 1978

Jinty cover 9 September 1978

  • Dance into Darkness (unknown Concrete Surfer artist)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Was My Face Red! (feature)
  • No Cheers for Cherry (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Wild Rose – (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Clancy on Trial (artist Ron Lumsden)
  • The Human Zoo – (artist Guy Peeters)
  • 7 Steps to the Sisterhood – (artist Ron Smith)
  • Alley Cat
  • Let’s Go Blackberrying! (feature)

A new competition has pushed all the stories off the cover. The letters page of this issue informs us that popular demand has prevailed and “Fran’ll Fix It!” will return in one month’s time (almost a year after her first story ended). So now we know one story that will replace whatever ends in three weeks, which raises speculation as to what will end.

Della is beginning to find she is beginning to like Winnie after all – and suddenly realising that she does not like the idea of foisting the curse onto her. So Della, who started off as a rather selfish, shallow person, is beginning to change her ways. At least something is coming out of the curse.

The Cinderella theme is now manifest in part two of “No Cheers for Cherry”. Aunt Margot just wants Cherry to do all the donkeywork for her family, who are too selfish and lazy to pitch in to help their theatre barge business. Poor Cherry does not even have a proper bed – she is forced to sleep on the floor in her cousin Michelle’s cabin. Worst of all, she is too naïve to realise that her relatives are exploiting her.

By contrast, Wild Rose now knows how the fairground people have duped and exploited her, and she has run away from them. But they are determined to recapture her for their snake girl act.

With help from Nirhani, Shelley now realises what a dupe she has been as well. There is no “Sisterhood” at all – an enemy has set her up with phoney tests that are actually traps. It’s the turning point of the story, and now they plot to turn things around on the enemy. It’s started with the fourth challenge that was clearly meant to get Shelley expelled. And now the fifth one is here. What nasty setup is planned with this one?

Shona makes friends with Tamsha’s hitherto jealous pet, and now she has an ally. But then she is horrified to see her fellow humans at the zoo being humiliated and abused in the aliens’ version of the chimps’ tea party! And the reference to chimps’ tea parties shows how much things have changed for chimps in our PC times.

Dorrie is surprised to find herself being offered the role of Dorothy in another production of The Wizard of Oz. Let’s hope her being a fugitive doesn’t mess up her chance.

The sale of a priceless ring gets Clancy on the wrong side of her grandfather and then on his good side when she shows signs of his knack for profit. But then Clancy’s health problems begin to plague her again….

 

7 Steps to the Sisterhood (1978)

7 Steps 17 Steps 27 Steps 3

Publication: 12 August 1978 – 30 September 1978

Artist: Ron Smith

Writer: Unknown

Plot

Kim Mason and Shelley Vernon are both on their way to Lansdale, a boarding school that specialises in foreign languages. Shelley is a bit nervous because she is a clumsy, accident-prone girl and is worried it will go against her at her new school.

Meanwhile, on the train, Kim overhears two staff members, Miss Tweed and Miss Frost, talking about them. Both of them are candidates for a special opportunity, the chance of a lifetime. But only one will be picked, so both will be watched carefully during the term. Kim is keeping this piece of information to herself…hmm, sounds like something for the reader to note as well.

When the girls arrive, Shelley is delighted that her room is next to Kim’s. She looks on Kim as a friend, even if Kim is acting a bit aloof. Meanwhile, Miss Tweed is unpacking priceless Thai costumes as background for an upcoming lecture.

Later, Shelley is surprised to see a note on her bed, from “The Sisterhood of Lansdale”. It claims to be a secret society that is considering her as a new member, but she must pass seven tests to qualify. She must not try to investigate the Sisterhood, ask help from anyone, or talk to anyone about the Sisterhood. If she agrees, she must tie a hanky to her bedroom door handle. Shelley jumps at it and ties the hanky to her door handle.

Someone takes the hanky, and next morning Shelley receives instructions for her first challenge: obtain a colour photograph of herself in one of the Thai costumes and leave it outside her door that night.

So Shelley borrows one of the costumes and sneaks out of school to use a photo kiosk to take the photograph. She does not know someone is watching her, and that person realises that Shelley is not solving the problem in the way she anticipated. When Shelley returns, someone throws water at her from a window, narrowly soaking her and the priceless costume. She has made it, but has to iron the costume to get rid of some damp spots. Miss Tweed catches her but thinks Shelley is just trying to help, and even allows Shelley to wear the costume at the display!

The second challenge is to bake a strawberry cake and leave it on the tack shelf in the stables on Friday night. Seems straightforward and harmless enough. Shelley even lets Major, a terror of a horse that only the headmistress can ride, have a few strawberries from the cake. But the third challenge is to ride Major bareback at dawn tomorrow!

Hoping that Major will return the strawberry favour, Shelley takes him out for the bareback ride. She sees a light flash back at the school and suspects the Sisterhood is watching her. Shelley gets caught by the headmistress and stable-hand. The head is astonished at what Shelley is trying to do – and bareback. But remembering daft things she did in her own youth, she decides to go along with it and help Shelley ride Major bareback. But Shelley does not get away with it altogether – she has to write a 500-word essay on horse riding in Spanish, which takes days! Meanwhile, someone in the shadows is watching. She thinks how lucky Shelley was that time, and if she’d had her way, things would have turned out differently. Now what can this mean?

The fourth challenge wants Shelley to take the new gold earrings belonging to an Indian student, Nirhani. She is to keep them until told what to do next. Shelley does not like the idea of stealing or risking trouble and is now having second thoughts about the Sisterhood itself. Shelley compromises by taking the jewel box, but not the earrings.

Then Nirhani comes up and says she found Shelley’s hanky (the one Shelley tied to her door handle) in her drawer. Shelley is now so thoroughly frightened by everything that she tells Nirhani (disregarding the conditions she agreed to). Nirhani, a long-standing student, says she has never heard of “The Sisterhood”. She also surmises that if Shelley really had taken the earrings, the theft reported, and then Shelley’s hanky found in the drawer – she would have been expelled. In other words, it was a set-up. Nirhani, who has second sight, gets psychic impressions that there is no “Sisterhood” at all – rather, Shelley has an enemy.

They start planning to catch the culprit. Shelley will pretend to steal the earrings, and Nirhani writes her a cover letter to say she lent them. They gamble that when Nirhani does not report the theft as the enemy expects, she will come into the open.

Another student, Fran, has a birthday and has been permitted to have a midnight BBQ. This brings in the fifth challenge – arrange a fireworks display as an extra surprise for the party. Fireworks are not available at that time of year, but then a book arrives with instructions on how to make your own. Shelley and Nirhani see the dangers at once, and realise the enemy must have as well. However, Shelley has to give the impression she is going along with it, so they use the instructions to make dummy fireworks filled with talcum powder. At the party they hide the fireworks in some bushes and take turns to keep an eye on it discreetly.

Before long, Nirhani sees someone try to light the fake fireworks – but then there are real ones as the BBQ suddenly goes up in flames. In the confusion and firefighting, Nirhani fails to get a look at the enemy. They are horrified when they realise what the enemy tried to do and get Shelley blamed for.

A note arrives from “The Sisterhood” telling Shelley to stay behind after the party – alone. She does, hoping to catch her enemy. A hooded figure appears, her voice disguised, and not allowing Shelley to get close. She tells Shelley she failed the fifth task (the fireworks did not go off as she planned) but Shelley manages to wriggle out of it with a cover story. Shelley tries to get closer as the girl begins to outline the sixth task: tomorrow she is to kidnap Nirhani and lock her in the hayloft in the stables. But just as Shelley is about to unmask the girl, Miss Tweed interrupts and the girl gets away.

Nirhani and Shelley realise what the enemy is up to: “find” Nirhani, be a big heroine, and get Shelley expelled. And Nirhani is getting premonitions of real danger if they go along with it in order to trap the enemy. This has them thinking of all the lucky escapes Shelley has had so far in avoiding serious accidents or being expelled because of all the traps the enemy has set for her.

In the end, Nirhani goes into the hayloft, with Shelley leaving a ladder outside for her to get out with. She then joins the others on a nature ramble. But the teacher drops a bombshell – the headmistress is getting the stable block fumigated! Shelley dashes off for the stables – and so is Kim. Seeing this, Shelley now realises that Kim is the enemy, not her friend. She also sees that the fumigators have moved the ladder, cutting off Nirhani’s escape, so she has to get the fumigators to rescue Nirhani.

Nirhani and Shelley confront Kim over her being the enemy. At first Kim almost gets out of it with a slick move – but then she makes the mistake of claiming that Shelley stole Nirhani’s earrings (she still thinks Shelley has retained them from the earlier challenge). Nirvana and Shelley then spring their long-waiting ace – Nirhani lent Shelley the earrings, and they have the note to prove it. Cornered, Kim confesses that she was trying to put Shelley out of the running for the opportunity of a lifetime that she learned about on the train.

Kim is expelled, of course. And it was all for nothing, because it turns out that Kim was not an ideal student for it after all. Moreover, there is now a chance for two students to win the opportunity, which is a world tour to publicise Lansdale’s methods. The head chooses Shelley and Nirhani because she has been so impressed over how they handled “The Secret Sisterhood”.

Thoughts

This is the first of only two stories that Ron Smith drew for Jinty. Smith was more frequent in Judge Dredd, so it is a delight to see him here.

A girl who causes trouble for another (motivated by revenge, personal gain, jealousy or just plain spite) is one of the oldest and most frequent formulas in girls’ comics. The DCT titles ran them so constantly that they must have run into the zillions. In Mandy alone, not many weeks went by without one such story, and Mandy’s cruellest example was probably The Dark Secret of Blind Bettina aka The Lying Eyes of Linda Lee. In Tammy and Jinty the formula appeared less frequently, which helped to keep it fresh.

In this version of the formula, we get a whole new take on the formula that is extremely rare, if not unique in its genre. Instead of pulling downright nasty tricks to sabotage the girl and get her into trouble, the troublemaker takes a far more insidious and convoluted approach – trying to get her into trouble with challenges from a non-existent secret society. This approach is extremely clever, not only on the part of the troublemaker but also the plotting. It is not so apparent straight away as to what is going on because the sabotage is being disguised as challenges, and it is more difficult for the reader to put the pieces together. Downright nasty tricks would have been a dead giveaway for the reader, and they would have known who it was and why immediately because it was all established in the first episode. Of course it all depends on Shelley rising to the bait in the first place – if she had decided against joining the society and not left her hanky on the door handle, the scheme would have been over for Kim immediately and she would have had to think of something else.

Girls’ comics have long made a strong comment on the dangers of secret societies, whether it is ones who issue challenges that are increasingly foolish and reckless, or are dark and bullying. This one is no exception – even if the society does turn out to be non-existent and it is all the work of one spiteful individual. Kim must be one of the most evil girls ever to appear in girls’ comics. Forget about trying to get Shelley expelled – Kim almost got Shelley (and others) hurt or even killed several times. She had no compunction about it whatsoever, though she must have been aware of what could happen with, say, letting off the boxful of fireworks near a crowd of people. Only at the end does she show any horror at her actions, when she realises that Nirhani could get killed because of her sixth challenge. And if that was the sixth challenge, what would the seventh have been like? The seventh step was never revealed, which must have had readers curious as to what it would have been.

This is one of the few stories in girls’ comics to have some ethnic characters. Though girls’ comics are not intentionally racist, there is a long-standing absenteeism of non-white girls in girls’ comics. Appearances of coloured or Asian girls are more the exception than the rule. But given that this is a language school, it is expected that there are girls of mixed races speaking diverse languages, and Jinty does deliver. Nirhani is Indian while Kim is part Chinese. It is interesting that both a heroine and the villain are of ethnic origin, and both are strong characters. Kim, the part Chinese, is a cold fish who is capable of just about anything to get rid of Shelley and seize the opportunity for herself. She is extremely clever and calculating, as shown in the way she is going about it – luring Shelley into trouble with a phoney secret society. Even the dress she always wears lends to her clinical nature, for it gives her an “evil scientist” look. By contrast, Nirhani the Indian girl is a warm and colourful character. Her second sight (which she handles with more success than 1977’s “Destiny Brown”) lends weight to the brains that figure out what is really going on. Nirhani is brilliant at working that part out, but we wonder if she really could have done it without her second sight.

“7 Steps to the Sisterhood” does seem to come across as a bit short-lived – only eight episodes. It could have been taken an episode or two more, if only to reveal the seventh challenge. Could it have been cut a bit short to make way for a new line-up of stories, and perhaps the seventh challenge cut off with it? Still, while it lasted, it was a whole new take on one of the most formulaic themes in girls’ comics.

 

Jinty 2 September 1978

Jinty cover 2 September 1978

  • Dance into Darkness (unknown Concrete Surfer artist)
  • Wild Rose – (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend)
  • No Cheers for Cherry – first episode (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Merry-Go-Round Mobile part 4 – last part (feature)
  • Clancy on Trial (artist Ron Lumsden)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • The Human Zoo – (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • 7 Steps to the Sisterhood – (artist Ron Smith)
  • Salad “Flowers” – feature

“No Cheers for Cherry” starts in this issue. Cherry Campbell wants to pursue a career in the theatre. Too bad she takes after her mother, who is too trusting and easy to deceive. This makes them both prey to Cherry’s unscrupulous Aunt Margot, who pays a visit to con her own sister out of priceless family heirlooms. Worse, Aunt Margot cons her out of Cherry too, with false promises of taking Cherry on for her own theatre, “Theatre Rose”. But it is clear that Aunt Margot really wants Cherry for something that is not going to bode well for the unsuspecting girl.

It’s the last part of the merry-go-round mobile. So what will be on the centre pages next week?

In “Dance into Darkness”, we see the consequences Rozelle is facing in foisting the curse of darkness onto Della. Rozelle is having a ball indulging herself in light for the first time in her life. She just can’t get enough of light in her own home. But Rozelle forgot her mother is still cursed, and the light she is pouring into the house has driven poor old Mum to living in the cellar. How is this aspect of the story going to be resolved, as well as the main one in freeing Della from the curse?

Jealous Betty plays a dirty trick on “Wild Rose” that makes a fool out of Rose in the snake girl act that Betty’s family have forced Rose into. But there are hints that Betty’s jealousy may backfire.

Jealousy takes a more dangerous turn “The Human Zoo”. Shona is now a pet to alien girl Tamsha. But Tamsha’s other pet is so jealous that it’s about to attack Shona!

Shelley must have some guardian angel – she passes the third test of the Sisterhood (ride a dangerous horse bareback) without breaking her neck or getting into serious trouble with the headmistress (except for a punishment essay that has to be written in Spanish, which takes days to write). But when the fourth test arrives, it’s the limit – it is asking Shelley to steal!

Although Grandfather wonders if he has demanded too much of Clancy, he still hasn’t learned his lesson. His hardness is causing problems for the family, such as not forgiving Clancy’s mother for leaving home. And now he’s beginning to think Clancy is a weakling after all and not fit to inherit his fortune.

September is a bit early for Christmas in Jinty. But finding a way to celebrate Christmas is precisely what Max and Dorrie are trying to do this week, while sleeping rough and trying to find food.

 

Jinty 26 August 1978

Jinty cover 26 August 1978

  • Dance into Darkness (unknown Concrete Surfer artist)
  • Wild Rose – (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Knight and Day – last episode
  • Merry-Go-Round Mobile part 3 (feature)
  • Clancy on Trial (artist Ron Lumsden)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • The Human Zoo – (artist Guy Peeters)
  • 7 Steps to the Sisterhood – (artist Ron Smith)
  • Alley Cat

“Dance into Darkness” featured on a lot of covers during its run, and this one is no exception. The ad for part three of the carousel mobile provides whites and yellows of light to contrast with the darker colours used to for “Dance into Darkness”. However, the cover does feel like it has too many red and magenta hues in it. It could have done with some more contrasting colours, such as some blues.

Meanwhile, Della is finding she is not having much luck in fobbing the curse off onto Winnie. However, she is beginning to find advantages to the curse, such as sharing the night with nocturnal animals.

In “The Human Zoo”, Shona finds herself in a zoo. But things may soon look up as Shona is set to become a pet to an alien girl Tamsha, who is an animal rights advocate in the making (what a contrast to her father, who owns the zoo). The trouble is, Tamsha still thinks Shona is an animal, not a sentient being like herself.

Rose sets off to Bencombe Fair with a gypsy family in her quest to find her mother. But she soon finds herself forced into a contortionist act as “The Amazing Snake Girl”, and realises too late what a snaky lot she is travelling with.

Shelley’s second test – baking a strawberry cake and leaving it in the stables seems harmless enough. But then comes her third challenge – ride a dangerous horse barebacked! What will Shelley decide over this one – go through with it, or tell the Sisterhood to sod off, because she is not risking her neck for a secret society?

Both Pat and Clancy find themselves in danger of drowning when they pass out in deep water. For Pat, it leads to the resolution of her story and a happy ending. For Clancy, it’s a narrow escape and Granddad wondering if he had demanded too much of her. But Clancy’s left in deep depression afterwards, so no resolution in sight for her just yet.

Max transcends his hatred of Germans when the fugitive German soldier saves his life. In turn, they teach him their maxim about happiness over the rainbow, which persuades him to stop hiding. But they themselves are still fugitives, trying to find rainbow’s end before the authorities catch up with them.

Next week “No Cheers for Cherry” starts. This is one of the last Jinty stories to have the Cinderella theme. The Cinderella theme had been present in Jinty since her first issue (though not as frequent as Tammy), but by the late 1970s it was being phased out of IPC girls’ titles.

Jinty 19 August 1978

Jinty cover 19 August 1978

  • Dance into Darkness (unknown Concrete Surfer artist)
  • Wild Rose (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Knight and Day
  • Alley Cat
  • Merry-Go-Round Mobile part 2 (feature)
  • Clancy on Trial (artist Ron Lumsden)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • The Human Zoo (artist Guy Peeters)
  • 7 Steps to the Sisterhood (artist Ron Smith)
  • Sunny Memories

The cover for this issue is the cover that represents Jinty in her Wikipedia entry. The use of the pinks on the bottom half make it a standout, and the use of complementary colour in the green in the top half makes it even more striking.

In “The Human Zoo”, twins Shona and Jenny and their fellow abductees arrive on the aliens’ home planet, which has two suns (the astronomy term is binary star system). The aliens have already demonstrated how they discipline animals, including humans – with collars that inflict pain. And now there is emotional pain for the twins as well – they have been sold to different owners at the aliens’ cattle market, which means they have now been separated! The quest to find each other again is clearly going to be a major plot driver.

Rose sets off to find the birth mother in the locket that was left with her as a baby. A fortune-teller has warned her that there will be heartbreak (hmm, can of worms there?) but happiness at the end.

Shelley passes her first step to the Sisterhood. But the test could have gotten her into trouble as she had to borrow a priceless Thai costume for it (without permission) – and then someone throws water at her, which almost ruins the costume. Coincidence or sabotage? The next test looks harmless enough, but we are beginning to wonder….

In “Dance into Darkness”, the curse really has gotten Della into hot water this time – suspended from school and landed her parents with a whopping great big bill that they have to borrow money to pay for!

Dorrie and Max are having problems with the German they have encountered at the old army camp – but is it the German or Max’s hatred of Germans that is causing the problems?

Clancy is about to compete at the swimming gala, but her body is telling her that it’s not up to it. She could be heading for trouble.

Pat being caught returning a shoplifted item turns out to be a blessing when the police discover the injuries from the beating her nasty guardians inflicted. But Pat is too scared to accept their help and runs away – where she falls into a canal and is too weak to swim out of it. And the only girl around to help is her friend Cheryl – who can’t swim and is terrified of water!

Sue and Henrietta are back with this issue. Sue is grumbling about the beach being too crowded and wants to go back to a time when it wasn’t so crowded. But Sue soon finds herself on a be-careful-what-you-wish-for time travel lesson.

Jinty 12 August 1978

Jinty cover 12 August 1978

  • Dance into Darkness (unknown Concrete Surfer artist)
  • Wild Rose – first episode (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Knight and Day
  • Merry-Go-Round Mobile part 1 (feature)
  • Clancy on Trial (artist Ron Lumsden)
  • Summer Madness (feature)
  • The Human Zoo – first episode (artist Guy Peeters)
  • 7 Steps to the Sisterhood – first episode (artist Ron Smith)
  • Fan-tastic! (feature)

The cover for this issue is so taken up with part 1 of a merry-go-round mobile that there is barely enough room to say that three new stories have started. They are “Wild Rose”, “7 Steps to the Sisterhood” and “The Human Zoo”. Wild Rose is Jinty’s first story to star a circus girl since A Dream for Yvonne from her very first lineup. Unlike Yvonne, Rose Harding is very happy in the circus she has been brought up in – but then she finds the family who brought her up aren’t her real family! Sounds like a quest to find the true parents, but what will Rose find at the end? “The Human Zoo” is an alien abduction story with animal abuse analogies, where twin sisters find themselves abducted by aliens who think they are just animals and treat them as such. And new girl Shelley Vernon is delighted to receive an invitation to join the secret society of the school – but she must pass seven tests if she is to join. Ooer, sounds dangerous already.

There is no “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” in this issue. Presumably, she is taking a holiday because of the mobile pull-out. Phil Gascoine is also taking a break.

In “Dance into Darkness”, Della is trying to fob off her curse on someone else, but finds she can’t bring herself to do it. And now the curse is about to get her into trouble in a record shop.

Dorrie and Max are taking refuge in an old army camp, but they find someone else there too – an mean-looking man who talks with a German accent. German accent? What with World War II still being fresh in the story, this does not sound good.

Clancy’s latest trial is an upcoming swimming match when she’s still walking with a cane. She’s determined to win, but will she win or will it be a step too far?

Pat’s wearing dark glasses to hide a brutal battering she has gotten from her nasty guardians. Then she tries to quietly return an item she shoplifted in a moment of rashness – but she gets caught!

José Casanovas

Catalan artist José Casanovas (1934 – 2009) was well-known and well-loved by lots of readers, appearing as he did in many British comics over a number of decades. His detailed, stylish, and above all fun art was distinctive and he was credited in various publications, so it is easy to pull together quite a long list of his work (though no doubt still incomplete). Many British readers think of him as a 2000AD artist – that is how I first came across his name myself – and therefore perhaps as an SF artist primarily. If you count up the stories he drew and the titles he appeared in, though, by far the majority of his work seems to be for the girls’ comics market.

The list below has been pulled together with much reference to the Catawiki database in order to fill out the non-Jinty stories, so many thanks to the contributors to that site. (I have included the numbers of episodes listed for each story as per Catawiki, to emphasize how prolific he was. I am fairly sure the records on that site are not complete but it gives a good impression of his work. Of course, please do send in further information if you have it!)

  • Tammy
    • Cinderella Spiteful (1971-72) – 20 episodes
    • Two-Faced Teesha (1973-74) – 10 episodes
    • Ella on Easy Street (1974) – 8 episodes
    • The Town Without Telly (1974) – 12 episodes
    • Wars of the Roses (1975-76) – 11 episodes
    • Babe at St Woods (1976-77) – 39 episodes (you can see some sample pages here)
    • Down To Earth Blairs (1977-78) – 25 episodes
    • Running Rosie Lee (1980) – 10 episodes
    • Tomorrow Town (1982) – 10 episodes
  • Sandie
    • The Nine Lives of Nat the Cat (1972-73) – 38 episodes
  • Princess Tina & Penelope
    • Have-A-Go Jo (1970) – 25 episodes
  • Jinty
  • Lindy
    • Sophie’s Secret Squeezy (1975) – 7 episodes
  • Penny
    • Pickle, Where Are You? (1979) – 10 episodes

Mistyfan has recently done a post about “Sue’s Daily Dozen” in which she made the point that Casanovas is known for science fiction. There is one science fiction story done by him in a girls’ comic, namely Tammy‘s “Tomorrow Town”, which I take the opportunity to reprint here as being a piece of art that would otherwise not be likely to get a showing on this Jinty-specific blog.

Tomorrow Town pg 1

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Following Casanovas’ death in 2009, Steve Holland wrote an obituary Bear Alley post here, drawing also on the Spanish-language blog Tebeosfera’s post here. (Do follow this last link to see some lovely artwork from an adaptation of Pollyanna done for the local market.) There was also an interesting comment on 2000AD fan blog the Prog Slog about Casanovas’ work in the boys’ science fiction comics market. He drew well-liked characters Max Normal (some Max Normal art by Casanovas can be seen here) and Sam Slade Robo-Hunter (after Ian Gibson had stopped drawing this latter character). He also drew a number of one-off stories in 2000AD, and a story in Starlord, and people characterise him as a 2000AD artist therefore. The Prog Slog comment here clarifies that: “Casanovas early work for 2000AD, Starlord etc. was sporadic. First appearance was a ‘Future Shock’ in Prog 70 (24 June 1978) a 1.5 pager called ‘Many Hands’. “Good morning Sheldon, I love you” was his next, a six page future shock style one-off written by John Wagner in Starlord 11 (22 July 1978). He drew another one-off Wagner [story] in Starlord 16. There’s a gap then until Progs 148 & 149 (January 1980) where he does a 2-part Ro-Jaws Robo-Tale. He then draws the 11 page Mugger’s Mile by Alan Grant, the first ever Max Normal strip (“The Pinstripe Freak (He’s Dredd’s informer)”) in the first Judge Dredd annual (1981). He goes on to draw more Future Shocks in Prog 220, 241 and 245, another Max Normal in the 1982 JD annual, and again in JD 1983 annual. In the 1982 Sci-Fi Special he draws his first Dredd proper, a 10 pager by Wagner – The Tower of Babel. His first Dredd in the weekly is the excellent “Game Show Show” 2 parter in 278/279, August 1982, Wagner again. He did the second ever ‘Time Twister’ in Prog 295, a 4 pager called Ultimate Video. And that’s as far as my data goes for now, by Prog 300 he’d done 77.5 pages: 32.5 in the weeklies, 10 in specials, 23 in annuals and 12 in Starlord. According to ‘Barney’ online (http://www.2000ad.org) his last work was in Prog 822 (Feb 1993), Robo-Hunter”. The tally of his pages for 2000AD and the like must therefore surely be far outnumbered by the 90+ episodes of his run on Dora Dogsbody in Jinty alone!

Sue’s Daily Dozen (1980-1)

Sample Images

Sue 1Sue 2Sue 3

Publication: 4 October 1980 to 3 January 1981

Artist: José Casanovas

Writer: Unknown

Reprint: Girl Picture Library #18 and #19 as “Spellbound!” and “Bewitched!”

 Plot

Sue Barker has just moved to the village of Hillcroft. Things do not go off to a good start because she is shy and finds it difficult to make friends, and her efforts to help always seem to go wrong. However, Sue finds out the cottage she is living in once belonged to Granny Hayden, a witch who was revered in the community for her “Daily Dozen”, which worked magic in helping people. Sue finds the Daily Dozen (book, spoon and cauldron) hidden in the chimney. The opening pages of the book bear the inscription: “The wondrous DAILY DOZEN within these pages, seek inside, and trace the secrets that I hide for things may not be what they seem, but help I give to all who dream”.

Sue has been challenged to produce an entry for the school cookery contest. She had not been confident about it, but now selects a recipe, “totties treats”, from the Daily Dozen book, and is surprised to see her cooking go off without a hitch. She is even more surprised to find the headmistress and severe cookery teacher, who are judging the contest, suddenly playing like toddlers after eating the totties treats! Sue wins the contest of course, and suddenly feels more confident about making friends now she has found the Daily Dozen.

Nonetheless, Sue is still a bit wary about the Daily Dozen (it is, after all, associated with witchcraft, which does not have a good press). But every recipe the family uses from the book seems to work miracles. Just one dab of the home-made cleaner from the book on the brickwork on the house, and every speck of dirt just melts off the wall, leaving it sparkling. Moreover, the cleanup reveals drawings of the Daily Dozen book, complete with black cats and broomsticks. Sue even acquires a “familiar” – albeit a Siamese cat named Ling-Su instead of the traditional black cat, after she treats him with a tonic from the Daily Dozen. Then a broomstick, cape and witch’s hat drop down from the chimney. Sue is a bit wary about wearing them in public while pedalling the wares of the Daily Dozen, though everyone else is pleased at the revival of Granny Hayden and more remedies, including one that cures a sick man. At one point, the Daily Dozen has to flex its muscles quite severely at Sue for still doubting it, although its remedies do nothing but good, even if they do look like…magic. Eventually Sue fully accepts the Daily Dozen when it helps her to foil two criminals – who very unwisely tried to steal the Daily Dozen.

George Smith the blacksmith is due to marry Anne the florist, and the vicar tells Sue that the Daily Dozen is part of an old custom that must be performed. Sue has no idea what this means, and nothing in the book sheds light on it. But after the attempted theft, the Daily Dozen gives out some clues. First, a note appears to say:

“Forge and anvil – tools of trade

Fair and flowery must be made

And when church bells are gladly rung

The Daily Dozen’s work is done.”

Then the Daily Dozen shows Sue visions. First are visions of the things the Daily Dozen and Sue have accomplished together, followed by a vision of George and Anne happily married. Then there is a vision around the weather vane of an anvil decorated with flowers – which then appears for real in Anne’s flower shop. The cauldron is there too, with more flowers spilling out of it. There is no explanation, except that it must be the work of the Daily Dozen.

Meanwhile, Sue’s friend Alison has been doing research on old blacksmith customs. She learns that in olden times, blacksmiths were so important that they had to be protected from evil spirits with rituals such as firing up the anvil to produce a bang, and the ringing of church bells. The pieces are now coming together, but there is one piece still to discover, which Sue does when she sees the cauldron wobbling. She looks underneath and sees there is a piece that fits perfectly into the anvil.

So on the wedding day, church bells are rung and the Daily Dozen cauldron is placed on the flower-festooned anvil, which is then fired up to produce the bang. Suddenly, the cauldron shoots up, along with the spoon and book that go with it. They all arrive back at the cottage, and their work is now done. So now they disintegrate into soot and fall down the chimney into the fireplace. But their legacy lives on, in a much happier community and Sue finding confidence and friends.

 Thoughts

“Sue’s Daily Dozen” was the last story José Casanovas drew for Jinty. And as Casanovas stories go, this is unconventional for two reasons. First, it is unusual for Casanovas to draw a supernatural-themed story, because his style is more suited for animal stories (“Dora Dogsbody”) or science fiction (“Tomorrow Town” from Tammy), so you are more likely to see him in stories with those themes. But here he is drawing a story with a supernatural theme. He was probably chosen because he brings off humour and the bizarre so well, and would therefore fit “Sue’s Daily Dozen”, which is a lightweight supernatural story. Even so, it is a surprise (for me) to see him bringing the supernatural to life here. The only other Casanovas story I have seen with a fantasy theme is “Sophie’s Secret Squeezy” from Lindy. There must be more Casanovas supernatural stories, but I wonder how frequently they appeared.

Second, Casanovas’ heroines are usually gutsy and proactive, and some are even unsavoury (such as the spiteful “Two-Faced Teesha” in Tammy). But here the Casanovas heroine starts off quiet and shy, and tending to stick her foot in it when she tries to help. Of course we know Sue is going to change into a more confident girl during the course of the story.

This story is also unconventional, for its portrayal of witches. It depicts witches more closely to what they really were – wise women who helped people in the community with herbal remedies – though it is unlikely they would have the powers of the Daily Dozen. Moreover, the villagers understand this completely, and appreciate and adore Granny Hayden for this, instead of lashing out at it in fear, ignorance, or at all the things they see that defy all explanation. In a village like Kettleby (“Mark of the Witch!”), Granny Hayden or Sue would be more likely to become targets of persecution, just like Emma Fielding. But here the locals are not frightened of it at all and see it as miraculous and helpful. Even the vicar accepts it, instead of labelling it Satanic, unchristian, or rubbish. It is only Sue who is worried about the Daily Dozen possibly having an evil side.

This portrayal of witchcraft (or Wicca) being a business run by wise women, not agents of the Devil, was touched on once before in Jinty, in Shadow on the Fen. But in Fen it was a dark and grim picture, with practitioners falling victim to witch hunters and superstitious, ignorant folk. But here it is such a relief to see the practitioner is not only understood but also embraced and loved instead of being hated and persecuted. And the Casanovas artwork is perfect, for not only bringing it all to life but also adding humour that enhances the message the story is wants to convey about witches – for no persecution would ever be allowed in a story drawn by Casanovas.

Hugh Thornton-Jones

gayes-gloomy-ghost-1gayes-gloomy-ghost-2Sample Images

Hugh Thornton-Jones has been a long-serving artist in girls’ comics. His work spans all across the DCT titles Bunty, Mandy, Judy, Tracy and Debbie. An (incomplete) list of his stories there can be found here:

http://girlscomicsofyesterday.com/?s=hugh+thornton-jones

In regard to IPC, no information is currently available on what work Thornton-Jones did for June or School Friend. He drew “The Incredible Shrinking Girl” for the short-lived Princess (series 2). For Tammy, Thornton-Jones drew one serial “Claire’s Airs and Graces”, a few Strange Stories (“The Lollipop Man’s Promise”, reprinted as a Gypsy Rose story), but was seen most often as one of the Wee Sue artists. During Tammy’s credits period, Thornton-Jones was credited with just one story, “Postcards from the Past”. This sole credit is what establishes the name of what might otherwise be another unknown Jinty artist.

Thornton-Jones started on Jinty as a filler artist for “The Jinx from St Jonah’s” and “Champion in Hiding”, but it was not long before he drew his own stories for Jinty. These were “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” and “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost”. Both of them were humour strips that starred a fantasy character who created paranormal hijinks every week. They kept Thornton-Jones busy because they both ran for a long time; the former lasted three years and the latter two years, right up until the last issue of Jinty.

Thornton-Jones’s style was not quite as strong as some artists, such as Mario Capaldi. But it is a genial, pleasing style that can fit in with a lot of general stories (school, ponies, emotional). Thornton-Jones could draw period stories, such as The Guardian Tree (Mandy) and Catch the Cat! (Bunty), though his art was seen more often in contemporary settings. Thornton-Jones also had a flair for humour and caricature, especially for drawing people with long, thin, pointed noses. So his style was also used in more zany, offbeat stories, such “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!”, “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” and “Microgirl” (Tracy).

Stories Hugh Thornton-Jones drew for Jinty:

  • The Jinx from St. Jonah’s (filler artist)
  • Champion in Hiding (second artist)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost