Carlos Freixas Baleito (31 October 1923 – 26 February 2003) was a Spanish artist. Freixas had a long career in girls’ comics in a wide range of titles. At IPC his artwork appeared in Valentina, Marilyn, June, Misty, Tammy and Jinty. At DCT, he drew for Bunty, Mandy, Tracy, Nikki, Judy, Emma, M&J and Spellbound. He had a fluid style that lent itself to a diverse range of stories, including supernatural, horror, period, adventure and school. An incomplete list of Carlos Freixas stories for DCT can be found at http://girlscomicsofyesterday.com/?s=carlos+freixas
Freixas started out as an illustrator at the age of 14, guided by his father Emilio Freixas. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts and, as his father’s assistant, published his first work in Lecciondes. Freixas and his father then began an association with the publishing house Molino. This collaboration eventually resulted in the publishing project Mosquito, which they started with the aid of Angel Puigmiquel in 1944. At this time, Freixas created his first character, ‘Pistol Jim’, who appeared in Gran Chicos and later Plaza El Coyote.
In 1947, Molino asked Freixas to join the Argentine division of their publishing house, so Freixas moved to Buenos Aires, where he established himself as a well-known and respected artist. His first Argentine work was for Patoruzito, where he created the boxing ‘Tucho, de Canilla a Campeón’ and several detective (‘Elmer King’) and motor comics (‘Juan Manuel Fangio’). He often collaborated with Alberto Ongaro, who wrote ‘Drake el Aventurero’ for him and with whom he illustrated Hector German Oesterheld’s scripts for ‘El Indio Suarez’. Freixas was also the author of ‘Darío Malbrán Psicoanalista’ for Aventuras.
In 1956, Freixas returned to Spain because of homesickness, and resumed his collaboration with his father and cooperated on most of his father’s illustration work. He also took on agency work for the British market through Creaciones Editoriales, where he broke into IPC and DCT titles.
Back in Spain, Freixas contributed to Juan Martí Pavón’s magazine Chito in 1975, made a comics adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s ‘Gaspar Ruiz’, and some horror stories for Bruguera. In the last years of his career, Freixas worked for US comics, which included Marvel’s Monsters Unleashed. He also worked for Swedish comics (‘Joe Dakota’ stories for Semic’s Colt) and Dutch comics, where he was a regular artist on stories like ‘Marleen’ for the Dutch girls’ magazine Tina.
When Did You Last See Your Father? – first episode
Kathy at Marvin Grange School – first episode
Cloris and Claire the Sporting Pair – first episode (artist Roy Wilson)
We continue expanding the context of Jinty’s predecessors and family tree by taking a look at the first issue of June, published 18 March 1961. June would enjoy a 13-year run before merging with Tammy on 22 June 1974. Coincidentally, Tammy’s own run would go to the same length. Over the years June had many well-remembered characters and strips, including Kathy at Marvin Grange, Bessie Bunter, Vanessa from Venus, The Strangest Stories Ever Told, Lucky’s Living Doll, Cherry and the Children and Oh, Tinker!. Two of them, Bessie Bunter and the Storyteller, went on for a long run in Tammy after the merger.
June started off with a cover girl on her cover. In later years June covers would feature panels from picture stories, as the Jinty covers would do 1977-mid 1980 and Tammy from mid 1982 to 1984. It is interesting that the free gifts that come with any new comic go for four weeks instead of three, as was seen in the 1970s-1980s. The first issue of June had no celebratory contests or a message from the editor welcoming the new readers. But she did have a crafts page, and also a book adaptation, “Bambi’s Children”.
The first picture story is “Diana’s Diary”. It is a day-to-day diary (and the first entry even has its own date, which isn’t the same as the issue), a bit like “Luv Lisa” but has is a bit more serious. It starts off with Diana facing the prospect of missing out on being chosen for her ballet class’s presentation at the County Festival because of an accident with a bicycle tyre that her brother carelessly left in the hall. Looks like Diana is also the resident ballet story, which was one of the lynchpins of girls’ comics in the 1960s. The other two were horse stories and boarding school stories.
“Against All Odds” is the horse story. June (note the name!) Hurst and her mother want to continue the family horse stables. But they are facing odds in the form of increasing costs that are proving difficult to meet and the villainous Sam Fletcher who is out to buy them out. And of course Fletcher is pulling dirty tricks to get what he wants.
“Kathy at Marvin Grange School” (later just “Kathy at Marvin Grange”) is the boarding school story, and it would run in June for four years. Kathy Summers has grown up in a orphanage and wonders what her origins and parentage were. But instead of embarking on a quest to find out, she is sent off to Marvin Grange because the orphanage thinks she will get a better education there.
“When Did You Last See Your Father?” is a period story set in the English Civil War. Celia Vane’s father goes on the run to protect a vital document from the Roundheads. But the Roundheads are pounding at the door, asking Celia the question that establishes the title.
“The Black Pearls of Taboo Island” is an adventure story with apparent supernatural elements. It is building up to be a treasure hunt story for valuable black pearls on an island armed with a curse that repels anyone who tries to take them. Anyone, that is, except an innocent girl, or so the legend goes. Our protagonist, Sally Grant, looks innocent enough, especially as she has a pet chimpanzee and a father who wants to open his own hospital.
Of course it wouldn’t be complete without humour strips. “Jenny” and “Cloris and Claire” are filling in the role. The first is a nice girl with a penchant for getting into/causing trouble. The second derives its humour from the long (Cloris) and the short (Claire), and bossiness (Cloris) and klutziness (Claire) that always gives her the last laugh over Cloris.
In this issue, Jinty addresses a common gripe from overseas readers – not being able to enter Jinty competitions (because they were several months behind British readers as Jinty was brought out by ship). Jinty has started a competition especially for overseas readers.
Katie’s still out sleuthing to clear her father’s name. But her latest suspects look like real thugs! On the other hand, maybe we should feel sorry for them with the Jinx on their tail.
It is the final episode of “Wild Horse Summer”. Jed’s hatred for the white mare has been asking for serious repercussions from the beginning, and now he gets it – he has accidentally hit Daphne while trying to shoot the mare! He is so upset that he packs his bags. But his action also has positive results that wrap up the story. Its replacement next week is Jinty’s first Trini Tinturé story, “Prisoners of Paradise Island”.
Riches again lure Jackie to carry on with Mrs Mandell as her fake daughter, despite all the warning signs that this woman is clearly mentally unbalanced and danger is imminent. She turns her back on her own family even more now – and not even Mum’s birthday turns her around again.
A stray dog is alleviating the misery at Misery House for the girls, who have adopted him as a pet. But the prison authorities are not having that and are out to crush it. Miss Ball tries to shoot the dog, and then she and fink Adolfa try to slip him some poisoned meat.
Mouse just seems to be getting even more gullible at readily she falls for Kat’s tricks. Kat has tricked Mouse into being her nursemaid, and then she gives Mouse bad advice in order to trick her into dancing badly for an exam.
Ma Siddons wants to put a dog down because she thinks it is savage. When the previous owner from the circus tries to put her straight, she doesn’t listen, so it’s up to Dora’s quick wits to save the dog.
In “Always Together”, a bad accident with fire has given Beth a fear of it, which means the children have to find another way to keep warm in freezing weather. And then a new headmaster bans Johnny and other gypsies from the school because he hates gypsies. Jeepers, aren’t there laws against such discrimination?
“The Slave of the Mirror” has thrown the mirror over the cliff, but it pops back again to force her to cause more trouble at Scully House. Now it’s making her steal money, and she’ll be in even more hot water if she’s caught next week.
Publication: 27 July 1974 – 1 March 1975 (29 episodes) Artist: Phil Townsend Writer: Alison Christie
Translations/reprints: translated into Greek and published in Manina; translated into Dutch and published in Tina.
The story starts with Nell Harvey burying her husband; her 12 year old daughter Jill stands alongside her at the funeral to support her in this grim time. Over the years, Nell works hard at all jobs that come her way, to fulfill her dead husband’s dream of buying a home for them all to live in together. But the constant working at all the job possibilities that comes her way is too much. She disappears, and isn’t seen again for several days – until the local news report that the body of a woman has been found in the river, a woman answering to Nell’s description! The kids have no other relatives and so Jilly, now age 15, is put in the position of primary carer – if the authorities will let her, of course.
Their life in the shadows begins once they realise that the cottage that their mum had put a deposit on is too expensive for them to keep up the payments on, given that their only income would be a paper round or similar odd jobs. Of course they want to stick together – bearing in mind their mother’s prophetic last words to Jill the morning that she disappeared. The question for the rest of the serial is whether they will be able to do this. Firstly they go back to their old lodgings as squatters (the council won’t put them on the list for a council house as they are too young) but it doesn’t take long before a local bully informs the social workers about them. And of course if they are taken into care, it means splitting them up – Jilly, Beth and Johnny all into different children’s homes…
As soon as she turns 16, Jilly is determined to leave school, get a job, and to do what she can for her little family. Presents and treats for them bought with her wages only twist the knife further in the wound when she has to go at the end of the visit. It’s not long before she chucks in her job and comes to get the kids so that they can all run away together – where at least they can be a family again. It does mean living in a cave – a cave that Jilly remembers from stories that their dad told her about, from when he stayed in it many years previously.
At first it is hard for the kids to adjust, and of course there are lots of difficulties to overcome – the weather, finding food, getting money. They find friends – an artist who gives them a meal and sympathy. But if it’s not one thing it’s another – the stream near the cave turns out to be polluted, the kids are chased away from a nearby village for being “thievin’ gypsies”, and Beth still thinks their mother is only “away” rather than drowned and never coming back.
On the plus side, Jilly develops her skill at sketching and starts to sell charcoal drawings at the market, which brings in money – and they make friends with the local gypsies, which means that Johnny can go to the local school, disguised as one of them. But winter is coming and outdoor living is only going to get harder… It’s not the only danger, as Beth has one accident after another (living in a cave is hardly as safe as houses! first she falls down a quarry and later on she gets too close to the fire and is burned!). There are also close shaves with the authorities, who they are constantly afraid of being caught by. There are plenty of strokes of luck – rather implausibly on occasion (for instance the headmaster who bans all the gypsies from the local school, including Johnny of course, until Jilly accidentally knocks the headmaster over with an old pram, saving his life from a large brick that dropped down at just the right time…).
When they meet a local nosey reporter who wants to use them as a human interest story, it seems the game may be up. They manage to outsmart him, but the next challenge is Christmas – which they manage to make much more festive than is entirely likely. It’s a heartwarming sight nevertheless, to see them feasting and making merry in their “little stone palace”, still managing to stay together!
The village sees a visitor who may be positive or negative for them – it is an old friend of their father’s, come to visit his childhood haunts. The little family save him from the inclement weather and grow closer as a result. Close enough that the family friend even offers to take them home – he and his wife have never had children and have always longed to. Could this be a fairy-tale ending? In some stories, yes; but in this one, little Beth has never-ending faith that her mummy will still come home for her – and so the family must stay, for her sake.
Not long after, it comes to an even more heart-tugging ending. Beth is desperately ill and unresponsive to treatment, but a nurse recognizes Beth’s face from a sketch kept by a patient in a local convalescent home. The patient in question lives in a daze and initially doesn’t recognize them, but Jilly and Johnny recognize her – it is indeed their mother! And once she sees little Beth, all is well again.
This is the first Phil Townsend artwork published in Jinty, and it is likewise the first Alison Christie story in these pages too. The combination of these two creators working on heart-tugging stories was clearly popular from the start – this one ran for much longer than the other comparable serials with clear start and end points, such as “Make-Believe Mandy” and “Gwen’s Stolen Glory”. It never had the most prominent position in the story paper – first or second story or a cover spot – but then during most of this period Katie Jinx claimed the lead spot by right.
The tear-jerking element is very effective; by the end of the story even I was ready to wipe away a tear or two. The characters struggle with extreme poverty and the things that often come with it – ill-health, envy at others’ possessions, irregular schooling and even irregular heating and eating. The threat of official condemnation and sanctions is always close, with officialdom breathing down their necks. The length of the story suggests to me that it probably was spun out a little longer than it might otherwise have been, due to its popularity – I think some of the accidents towards the end are arguably a little forced and may betray a story that was getting a little over-stretched. Having said that, I think this is probably also an impression received from reading the whole story in one sitting, which is not the experience that the original readers would have had of the story on first publication. I wonder if any of the reprints or translations trimmed the length of it at all?
I quibble with the ending. Is it realistic that the mother should have been lying in a convalescent home for all that time, only to be found just at the right point to save little Beth’s life? Well, no – not that realism is the be-all and the end-all, I appreciate, but I do feel it stretches credulity a little far. The decision to turn down an adoption into the possible new life in Canada is pretty poignant though, and that could not have worked without another, happier ending just round the corner, so I can certainly see the point of the eventual ending.
There is quite a bit of overlap with “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, which was written and drawn by the same team some years later (published in 1978-79). “Rainbow” is also very long (36 episodes, so even longer than “Always Together…”). The orphaned family in the later story is not quite as large – there are two children rather than three, and the eldest is not as old as Jilly’s sixteen – but once again their father dies off-camera and their mother is shown much more close-up (though not for long), and the children decide they must keep together come what may. There are also more adventures in the latter story, partly due to the wartime setting and partly because the children do more travelling – from England to Scotland. The scenes where the protagonists squat in a pillbox during the depths of winter are particularly reminiscent of similar wintry scenes in “Always Together…”, though. To my mind, “Rainbow” has the slight edge on “Always Together…” in terms of giving us an ending that is both neater and (slightly) more plausible. I realise however that may just be because I have more childhood memories of reading the later story, and living it as it happened.
This OuBaPo experiment takes a new slant of creating new text in artwork that has had the original text removed. Instead of creating a whole new story by removing old text and putting in new text, into a page or episode, it does it with one panel, maybe one or two more. What new context, story, dramatic high point or humour might be created by reworking the text of just one panel? I have done one example below, with a panel from “Waves of Fear”:
Panel with new text.
I have added some more panels with text removed below.
Cándido Ruiz Pueyo (1931 – 1982) has given us a few puzzles on this blog. First of all, I was puzzled by the attribution of this name to a couple of stories which clearly were signed ‘Prieto’. When David Roach showed me a portfolio sample labelled “Emilia Prieto” then the signature matched up with the name we were able to attribute, but the very close resemblance of art styles between Cándido Ruiz Pueyo and Emilia Prieto was still a puzzle, as I wrote about recently. The mysteries are now cleared up, with the following information from his daughter, Elisabet Ruiz Prieto – as you can imagine this was very gratefully received!
Here are her own words, followed by my further questions and her replies.
“Indeed, my father was Cándido Ruiz Pueyo. He died in 1982, when I was two years old, because of a serious illness. I still have his original drawings and I would be happy to help you with everything you need. Emilia Prieto is the name of my mother. She is retired and lives in Menorca but she isn’t an artist.
Due to the political situation in Spain in 70’s he had to use a pseudonym for some of his publications. I know that he worked for a German magazine called Bunty [this refers to the well-known British title] as well as Jinty. He drew a series of Buffalo Bill, Fix and Foxy and when he died he was working on a commission for Walt Disney.”
In reply I asked:
“I would love to know more about your father, and to publish it in the blog so that others who also are interested in your father’s work can know more about it and about him. I was wondering in particular if he used the pseudonym ‘Emilia Prieto’ only for the stories published in girls comics, or perhaps only for some girls comics and not for others? Bunty is a British girls comic published by D C Thomson in Scotland – there is a blog dedicated to that publisher, called Girls Comics of Yesterday, and it has some stories that are tagged Cándido Ruiz Pueyo and others tagged Emilia Prieto. I would love to know more about his life and any scans of original drawings!”
“My mother told me that when they first met, he was only working for Spanish publishers, especially for Editorial Bruguera. He draw series for them like Buffalo Bill, and Ivanhoe in the series “Colección novelas históricas” [Collection of historical novels], and some terror and motorist stories. He also published a comic book called Tarzan’s Son.
But my father really liked to draw love stories. My mother encouraged him to submit his romantic drawings on foreign publishers ( she even served as a model for some of his female characters) because in Spain it was almost impossible. My father sent his drawings to several girl-magazines but all rejected him. At that time it was not normal for a man to draw romantic stories, so he re-sent them with my mother’s name, Emilia Prieto, and several publishers accepted.
My mother said me that he was published in a German magazine called Lucky, another Swedish magazine called Starlet, and Bunty. When he got sick, he was preparing a story about Donald Duck to work with the Walt Disney company because one of his dreams was to work there.”
I was very grateful to hear back from Elisabet about her father’s work, and also to be sent so many images too. It was particularly interesting to me to see so much of his work for Bunty and girls comics, including artwork from the Picture Library series – I hadn’t realised that it was often drawn as an original story, rather than featuring re-used material. Here is “Trixie’s Taxi” from Bunty, along with an interior image from the published book. There is also another sketch of a page that is clearly intended for another Picture Library, by its size and layout.
Finally, I also include some published artwork from three British girls titles – the first one is from Bunty but I am not yet sure of the others.
Further updates: his Tebeosfera entry has now been updated to reflect the above information. Also, Colin Noble has posted some pictures on Facebook of Commando artwork thought to be by Pueyo.
I was perusing through the Tammys and came across these features that appeared in the issue for 24 December 1977. I put them up to show how Tammy sometimes brought characters from her serials and regulars together in special features and how fascinating it was to see so many characters and features from Tammy combined together. Recent or running serials team up with the Tammy regulars for these special features in the 1977 Christmas issue. This never happened with Jinty.