Monthly Archives: December 2016

Jinty 15 July 1978

jinty-15-july-1978

  • Dance into Darkness (unknown Concrete Surfer artist)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thorton-Jones)
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • Knight and Day
  • The Zodiac Prince – final episode (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Clancy on Trial (artist Ron Lumsden)
  • The Lowdown on Showaddywaddy – feature
  • Slave of the Swan (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Sand in Your Shoes? – Feature
  • Cathy’s Casebook (artist Terry Aspin)

“Dance into Darkness” featured on a lot of Jinty covers and this week’s one is no exception. This week Della can’t stop dancing when she hears disco music, and it’s kept her out so late that her parents have called the police.

“The Zodiac Prince” ends his run this week. He’s down to his last astral gift, and this time he really must choose wisely in terms of recipient and the type of gift. Well, he can’t think of anyone more deserving than Shrimp, and we certainly agree. Talk about a parting gift! Next week sees the return of Phil Gascoine, whose artwork has been uncharacteristically missing from Jinty for weeks, as he starts on “The Changeling”.

Dorrie and Max are on the run as they make their way to the home in Scotland that they believe will give them happiness. This week they sneak a lift aboard a lorry to get out of London.

Pat does some running away too – away from her mother’s abusive household and back to the foster family who looked after her properly. However, Mum sends the police to get her back. Will they do so or will they listen to Pat’s side of things?

The kids at Berkeley Comprehensive are softening towards Clancy and she begins to make friends with them. But grandfather tells Clancy she must replace the bicycle Sandra sold to get the tandem, which means job-hunting for the girl who’s already got so much on her plate with trying to walk again.

Cathy’s father agrees to run some medical tests on Denis to see if there is a medical cause for his slowness. Finally, someone is listening to Cathy’s insistence that Denis is not as daft as everyone assumes. Meanwhile, the old trouble with Diane’s horse resurfaces as he goes out of control at the races.

The Swan well and truly shows just how evil she has become in the name of revenge against Katrina’s mother. She tricks Katrina into going into a rusty old tub that she will drown in once the tide rises. But it’s not just to protect herself from the police – the murder she is plotting is more revenge against Katrina’s mother, and she wants to play it out as slowly as possible to savour every minute of it. Katrina does not wake up to the danger she is in until the tide does rise…but is it too late?

Sue tells Henrietta that standing on her head is good therapy and sets Henrietta upside-down to prove her point. Naturally, that’s an open invitation for Henrietta mischief.

Jinty 1 July 1978

jinty-1-july-1978

  • Dance into Darkness (unknown Concrete Surfer artist)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thorton-Jones)
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Andy Gibb Talks to You – Feature
  • Knight and Day
  • The Zodiac Prince (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • Clancy on Trial (artist Ron Lumsden)
  • Slave of the Swan (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Cathy’s Casebook (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Not to be Sniffed At! Ways with Hankies – Feature

 

Whatever is happening to Della gets weirder, and she is surprised to find some of it is positive. She can see much better in the dark, and night itself seems much more comfortable. Oddly, cats are following her around at night.

Sue takes Henrietta on a London trip. But Henrietta doesn’t quite understand that the name Piccadilly Circus does not mean a three-ring circus. Or that waxworks are not meant to be that lifelike. Or that changing the guard does not mean changing his nappies! Oh, dear…

Dorrie and Max have been put in separate homes, but at least Dorrie can visit Max and they are still looking for the end of the rainbow. Max is taking that bit about the end of the rainbow a bit literally, though.

Janet is finding out the pitfalls of the paper round she is now lumbered with instead of Pat. Then the sneaky girl steals the swimsuit that was meant to be a present for Pat from her foster parents.

The Zodiac Prince has got real trouble this time – his chain has snapped and he’s lost his medallion! The Prince and Shrimp find a little girl has it, and they have to get it back quick.

“The Slave of the Swan” is really disturbed to find that new girl Rita Hayes is watching her and asking probing questions about her. And someone is definitely messing around with that Swan costume, which is supposed to be hidden away in Miss Kachinsky’s secret room. Katrina finds somebody wearing the costume and trying to recreate “The Swan” ballet.

In “Cathy’s Casebook” Diane, who was supposed to have a limp, is suddenly running. She had been faking because her father is pushing her into riding in the races, but she’s too frightened of her horse to do so. And then Denis runs away from home. Cathy hits on a way to tackle both problems at once.

Clancy enrols herself at Berkeley Comprehensive, the school her grandfather looks down upon (with some justification, as it is riddled with vandalism). The kids there don’t think much of grandfather either. They say he’s a skinflint and a snob who never does anything for anybody. So when they find out he is Clancy’s grandfather, they look set to give her a bad time.

 

Jinty 24 June 1978

jinty-cover-24-june-1978

  • Dance into Darkness (unknown Concrete Surfer artist)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thorton-Jones)
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • Knight and Day
  • The Zodiac Prince (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Clancy on Trial (artist Ron Lumsden)
  • Talking Personally to Travolta… (feature)
  • Slave of the Swan (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Cathy’s Casebook (artist Terry Aspin)

Weird things are happening to Della that she can’t explain. She has suddenly woken up with all light blinding her and she has to wear dark glasses, and she can’t stop dancing when she hears disco music. People think she’s putting it on, but Della realises it must have something to do with that girl in the disco. And it has to be, because the girl is waiting for her outside the school gates.

Sue tries out the trumpet, much to Henrietta’s consternation. However, Henrietta’s spells to stop Sue playing are rebounding a bit on her. She gets scratched by a terrified cat and then gets mud splattered all over her.

In “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” Dorrie and Max are liberated from the cruel Mrs Soper when she dumps them back on the welfare office. But now Dorrie and Max are being split up because the children’s home they are being sent to segregates the sexes. If it’s not one thing it’s something else…

One of the girls at school begins to realise how badly Janet is treating Pat though the other girls still won’t have anything to do with Pat because Janet poisoned them against her. Then the tables get turned on Janet when she’s lumbered with the paper round Mum lumbered Pat with before!

The Zodiac Prince’s in trouble again because he is still not thinking before he hands out his astral gifts. Dad gives him a real telling off over it, but says he still has to stay put until he finishes the job set for him.

“The Slave of the Swan” saves her only friend Sarah from being badly burned, but everyone thinks she caused it because of all the lies the Swan has spread about her being an arsonist. Now it’s all getting to Katrina so much that she sees police pursuing her everywhere – including a strange woman who has turned up at the school.

Cathy is still pursuing the cases of Denis, whom she does not believe is as dim as everyone thinks, and Diane, who is still limping although her X-ray says her leg is fine. Now both cases could come to a head when Denis walks into the path of a runaway horse.

Clancy’s still walking with sticks and is having trouble enrolling at a new school because of it. She won’t hear of a disabled school and St Catherine’s, the school cousin Sandra goes to, won’t take her because of her disability. So she decides it has to be the ill-reputed Berkeley Comprehensive or nothing. But grandfather is going to have a fit when he hears that!

Jinty 27 May 1978

jinty-cover-27-may-1978

  • Concrete Surfer (writer Pat Mills, artist unknown)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • Winning Birthday Girls! – Contest results
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Knight and Day
  • A-to-Z of Things to Do – part two
  • Clancy on Trial (artist Ron Lumsden)
  • Talking to the Star from “Robin’s Nest” – Feature
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • The Zodiac Prince (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Slave of the Swan (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Cathy’s Casebook (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Seahorse Sunspecs Case – feature

The panel from “Slave of the Swan” actually appeared in the story some weeks ago, which is a bit irregular. Usually Jinty used panels from the current episode of a story for a cover. The depiction of Katrina’s apron is reminiscent of a tutu, which is very clever and also fitting for the ballet theme. And in this week’s episode of “Slave of the Swan”, the Swan’s lies get even crueller. Now she’s got poor Katrina thinking she’s an arsonist and a murderer who burned down an orphanage in revenge and killed someone in the flames!

Last week “Concrete Surfer” was pushed off its usual slot of leading story, but it’s back there this week. Carol freely admits to Jean how she had played Jean for a fool. Belatedly, Jean wishes she had had a tape recorder on hand so she could prove it to everyone else. They all think Carol is a sweet girl and Jean bullies her. The skateboard contest gets underway and Jean is thinking up her own lyrics to the piece of music Carol has chosen: “Isn’t she sickening…? Isn’t she spiteful…? I never thought what a cat she could be…”

In part two of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” the war ends in victory for the Allies, but the Peters children have no heart for celebrating because their father was KIA. They cheer up when Mum gets complimentary tickets for them to see a “Wizard of Oz” production. This introduces the Wizard of Oz theme that will resonate throughout the rest of the serial.

In “Knight and Day”, Pat meets her stepsister Janet, who’s a very nasty piece of work and bullies Pat. At least she reveals the real reason why Mum reclaimed the daughter she had always neglected: it was so they could get a council flat. Well, well, well!

“Clancy on Trial” impresses her grandfather by standing up to him (the only one who does), especially when he expresses his long-standing disapproval of her mother’s marriage to a bus driver. Meanwhile, Sandra continues to help Clancy to learn to walk again.

Last week “The Zodiac Prince” and his gift of balance to Julie unwittingly made another circus performer jealous. Now she’s putting herself in danger trying to prove herself on the high wire. Fortunately Julie is able to come to the rescue and everything is sorted out. Fresh trouble isn’t far away though, and it comes when the Zodiac Prince sees a girl mistreating a donkey and decides it’s time for another astral gift. However, next week’s blurb informs us that he’s about to make a big mistake.

There are double emergencies in “Cathy’s Casebook” this week. Mr Shaw’s daughter gets injured after being thrown from her horse and loses her nerve, and a café owner collapses from a perforated ulcer.

 

Jinty 20 May 1978

jinty-cover-20-may-1978

  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow – first episode (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Get in the Swim! Competition
  • Concrete Surfer (writer Pat Mills, artist unknown)
  • Knight and Day – first episode
  • A-to-Z of Things to Do – part one
  • Clancy on Trial – first episode (artist Ron Lumsden)
  • The Zodiac Prince (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Slave of the Swan (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Cathy’s Casebook (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Snow in Summer – feature

The advertising for Jinty’s new competition and her A-to-Z of things to do has pushed the story panels right off the cover. There’s only a blurb at the bottom to say that three new stories have started. It looks like the pull-out feature, competition and stories have pushed out “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” and “Alley Cat” out of the issue; neither appears this week.

The first new story, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, pushes “Concrete Surfer” out of her usual slot as leading story. The episode is also a four-pager, which gets it off to quite a start. It seems fitting as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” went on to be one of Jinty’s most enduring and longest stories. It was the last of the three Jinty serials to be set in World War II. As the story opens, the war is drawing to a close. VE Day is in sight, wartime restrictions are easing a bit, and the Peters family are looking forward to the day when Dad comes home from the war. But of a sudden Mum gets the dreaded envelope that means KIA.

The second new story is “Knight and Day” (a popular play on one girl being named Day and the other Knight in a serial). Pat Day’s mother has always neglected her and she is now happily fostered out to the Hargreaves. But now, all of a sudden, the neglectful mother (now Mrs Knight under her new marriage) has successfully applied to get her back. But why would she even bother?

The artist for the third new story, “Clancy on Trial”, is a surprise. It’s Ron Lumsden, who is best remembered for being the first artist on “The Comp”. Clancy Clarke is determined to walk again after being crippled in an accident and is getting help from her cousin Sandra. All of a sudden, Clancy’s grandfather, who had ignored her before, suddenly takes an interest in her. As with Pat’s mother it sounds suspicious, but at least we get an inkling of his motives – to put her to some sort of test.

In the other stories, “The Zodiac Prince” hands out another astral gift, and this time it works out. Julie is now happily reunited with her father and, thanks to the astral gift, is now joining him at the circus. Unfortunately it pushed out another performer and now she’s jealous.

“The Slave of the Swan” is finally beginning to remember bits of her past. But the Swan is getting set to ensnare her again, and she’s already pulled the wool over the eyes of the police who were getting on her trail at last.

In “Cathy’s Casebook” Dad is hauled up before the medical board on an unfair charge of neglecting a patient, thanks to the old trout of a district nurse who judged him too harshly and wouldn’t listen to pleas that Dad was overworked and feeling unwell. But Cathy makes sure the medical board listens to her over them! The nurse looks veerry sour indeed when Cathy gets the charge against her father dismissed.

“Concrete Surfer” finally catches creepy Carol out once and for all. She tricks Carol into admitting that she stole her skateboard. Not that it would do much good in the competition – Jean can’t compete unless she finds the skateboard.

 

Jinty 13 May 1978

jinty-cover-13-may-1978

  • Concrete Surfer (writer Pat Mills, artist unknown)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Slave of the Swan (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • Wednesday’s Child – Gypsy Rose story (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
  • The Zodiac Prince (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • The Birds – final episode (artist Keith Robson, writer Len Wenn)
  • The Cinderella Story of Sneh Gupta– Feature
  • Shadow on the Fen – final episode (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Cathy’s Casebook (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Make a Sunflower Shoulder Bag – Feature

 

Gypsy Rose is back this week, but she’s clearly being used as a filler. Her run in Jinty was nowhere as regular or as solid as the Storyteller’s in June/ Tammy. Her story features a kid brother who strikes up an unusual friendship with what turns out to be the ghost of another boy who was starved to death by his aunt.

Next week “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” starts, and its announcement is unusual. It’s on the letters page, in response to one reader who wrote in to say that “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” was her all-time favourite Jinty story (perhaps she was one of the many readers in Pam’s Poll who voted for its reprint). The editor informs the reader that “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is penned by the same author as Stefa (now that’s quite a lead-in) and “it’s making us all have a lovely cry at the office!”

Jinty also announces that “Clancy on Trial” starts next week as well. So this week we see the final episodes of “The Birds” and “Shadow on the Fen”. The ending of “The Birds” is grim, with the parents plummeting to their deaths in the car because of those crazy birds and that chemical factory that has driven them crazy. In “Shadow on the Fen”, the Witchfinder is reduced to just bones and then dust after being struck by… well, it’s not quite clear if it is the power of the holy cross or the falling wishing tree that lands on top of him. But it is quite reminiscent of how a vampire is destroyed.

Jean almost walks out on the skateboarding club but changes her mind. And she’s beginning to suss Carol out; she can’t stand being on the losing side and being second best. She always has to be the winner and centre of attention. So Jean’s quite pleased there’s going to be a skateboarding competition where she can settle things with Carol once and for all.

Katrina Vale, “The Slave of the Swan”, overhears the story of how the Swan got crippled: the story goes that a friend got jealous of her final triumph in “The Swan” role and injured her deliberately. We realise they can only mean Katrina’s mother. But from our brief glimpse of Mrs Vale as a sympathetic character way back in part one, can we really believe she would do such a thing? Meanwhile, the police are finally on the trail of the missing Katrina. Will they be able to rescue her from the Swan?

Sue calls upon Henrietta’s help to cook a meal for her friends, but finds she would have been better off doing it herself.

The Zodiac Prince sets out to help a girl who’s got circus in her blood, but her snooty aunt is keeping her away from it.

Being a doctor’s daughter pays off dividends for Cathy – she gets to see her favourite pop star in person when he needs a doctor. Cathy also finds a way to cheer up sourpuss Tom while he’s in hospital, though it flouts hospital rules.

 

2016: the Jinty blog in review

It’s not quite the end of 2016 yet of course, and this is probably not quite the last post before the beginning of 2017. Nevertheless, it feels like a good moment to take stock of what 2016 has been like here on the Jinty blog. What have we been posting about, and what has caused the most excitement and interest? What new ground have we broken, and what core material have we been filling in the gaps on?

The main focus of this blog is to be a resource, as it says – so the key elements are always the posts on issues, stories, and creators. We now have around 100 posts about individual stories, and nearly 50 posts either about individual creators, or interviews with people involved in comics creation or publishing. It’s a bit harder to count the posts on individual issues directly, due to some overlaps in categorisation, but certainly these posts have kept on coming throughout the year. Often they are posted either at the time we write a story post covering that time span (so you might get a few related issues being written about at the same time), or as and when missing copies reach us and we fill in gaps that we weren’t able to post about previously. Overall, we have posted around 95 times this year (Mistyfan being a considerably more frequent poster than I have managed to be).

The year hasn’t only seen posts on those core areas though: I have spent time looking at whether there were computer-based ways to identify writers who are otherwise not recorded, as well as at a structured way to assess how rounded the representation of characters in girls comics – something to take us beyond a Bechdel test, if you like. Mistyfan has also gone beyond the main focus of the blog by creating lots of OuBaPo experiments with Jinty and girls’ comics content. And in the latter end of the year, lots of excitement was generated across the community of UK comics fans and experts, when Rebellion announced their acquisition of a very substantial number of classic comics copyrights. Their September publication of two Misty stories was scrutinised carefully for what it might mean for the newly-acquired IPC copyrights. Not that this was all we saw about IPC in the last few months of the year, as I also reviewed Steve MacManus’s memoirs and Hibernia’s publication about IPC’s short-lived horror comic, Scream.

Finally there has also been a little bit of re-jigging of the site’s structure: I split the Articles page to create new pages on Analysis and Analytic MethodsBook Reviews, and Interviews. Mistyfan has particularly focused on adding and enhancing a number of panel galleries including highlights of art by individual artists, as well as adding in galleries of OuBaPo work. Most recently I have also added a page to list that issues  I or Mistyfan have for sale / trade, and issues on our respective Wants lists. Finally, I have also just added a page for posts about Stories in other titles and about Issues of other titles, both of which give valuable context for discussions of Jinty.

Particular high points of the year have included:

  • In January we wrote 23 posts between us, 9 of which were posts on individual creators (Ron Smith, José Casanovas, Hugh Thornton-Jones, Anne Digby, Peter Wilkes, Hugo D’Adderio, Miguel Quesada, Unknown Artist ‘Concrete Surfer’, and Robert MacGillivray). This started off a bit of a theme for the year as there have been quite significant additions made to the resources about individual creators.
  • In February I started to look at whether there were computer-based ways to identify writers who are otherwise not recorded. In the end this was inconclusive but as a part of this we also looked at stories and creators in Tammy to give a wider context. This continued in subsequent months as both Mistyfan and I looked at Sandie and Misty, and at earlier stories in June & Schoolfriend, as well as stories in Girl, Dreamer, Princess, and Sally. As a result, we now have much more context on other titles published before and around the time of Jinty‘s span.
  • In April, the talk that Mel Gibson, David Roach, and I gave in London galvanized some posts both about the talk itself and about artists covered in that talk – Ana Rodriguez and Emilia Prieto / Cándido Ruiz Pueyo in particular.
  • In August and September there was a lot of discussion about the IPC copyrights news along with the review of the Misty reprint, followed in October by an interview with Pat Mills, the review of the MacManus book, and then in November an interview with John Wagner.
  • November was another bumper month overall, with 22 separate posts, including story posts on older narratives “No-One Cheers for Norah” and “They Call Me A Coward!“, giving us context on other girls comics titles.

Phew! You can see that it has been a productive and interesting year on the comics blogging front. All that remains for this post is to wish all a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, with all best wishes for 2017.

Jinty 6 May 1978

jinty-cover-6-may-1978

The Concrete Surfer finds sneaky Carol cheated to put up the winning design for their skateboard tee shirts. She’s now so fed up with smarmy Carol being Miss Bainbridge’s pet that she wants to walk out on the skateboard club.

A woman gets on Sue’s nerves with her bossiness and endless spouting of old proverbs, and Sue reckons the woman doesn’t even know what those proverbs mean. Oohh, sounds like an open invitation for Henrietta to hand out another lesson with her mischief-making magic.

The Swan is up to mischief of an even more nasty nature. She’s poisoning her own pupils against Katrina with false stories and sneaky tricks to make Katrina look a thief in order to turn them against her because they were trying to help her. At least Sarah is still friendly and is treating Katrina to a ballet performance.

It’s the final episode of “Waking Nightmare”. Phil realises she should have heeded newspaper reports that Carol was not quite right in the head. But Carol’s mother admits it was partly her fault for concealing it because she was ashamed to let people know her daughter was mentally ill. Phil helps Carol overcome her fear of doctors and everything works out happily.

“The Birds” is on its penultimate episode, and it’s only the second one. There was so much scope to make this Hitchcock-inspired story longer, so why did they just keep it at three episodes?

“Shadow on the Fen” is clearly nearing its end as we’re told the story will reach its climax next week. This week The Witchfinder attacks Mrs Perks, the only ally of Linden and Rebecca. At least they manage to get hold of his book, the second magic artefact they have to destroy to destroy him. However, he managed to get away with his last artefact, the magic knife.

Cathy saves the life of a critically ill man, but the old sourpuss isn’t showing her any gratitude. Dad takes her out for a treat, but there could be a surprise when someone asks if there is a doctor in the house.

The Zodiac Prince is trying to work out what’s upsetting the clown he’s standing in for. Then he and Shrimp find a photograph that could be a clue.

 

Jinty 22 April 1978

jinty-cover-22-april-1978

Last week Jean believed she had finally seen through Carol as “a smarmy little creep!” But she repents when Carol really puts on the waterworks. Did she really hurt Carol’s feelings or has the smarmy little creep worked her way around her again? Meanwhile, Jean takes on some advice to bring some rhythm and flow into her skateboarding and is making progress. However, could Carol be trying to discreetly undermine it?

In “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” some bullies always pick on a girl and call her names. Naturally, Henrietta decides to give them a taste of their own medicine, which gets a bit out of hand. They end up in detention, but it’s a fitting punishment for bullying.

The Swan has made a slip that she knew the slave’s parents. But she twists it around with another lie: the slave’s parents died in prison for theft and she may have inherited their bad ways. It’s an old trick in “amnesiac” serials and it does what the Swan intended: the slave becomes demoralised and begins to doubt herself.

Carol comes to the rescue of Phil, who’s under a pile of debris. However, Carol seems to be going to pieces because the debris is reminding her of something.

The Zodiac Prince casts a spell on a girl to make her attractive to animals. It was meant to save her from a tiger, but it backfires when every single animal in town follows the girl all the way home, and the spell starts messing things up at the circus as well. Father tells the Prince he can’t remove the spell, so he suggests another to modify the first. But will it work out?

It’s the final episode of “Paula’s Puppets”. Paula’s in a cross-country race but isn’t up to it with nobody to support her. Then, all of a sudden, Dad is there to cheer her on. But he’s supposed to be in prison! What gives?

Linden manages to get the plant to cure Rebecca, despite the Witchfinder trying to stop her by turning himself into the largest rat you ever saw. Next they learn how to stop the Witchfinder – destroy his three magic items – but they have to track them down first.

Cathy thinks her father needs a break and leaves the phone off the hook so he won’t be disturbed. But this could lead to real trouble if there is an emergency…

 

Slave of the Swan (1978)

Sample Images

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swan-2swan-3

Published: 1 April 1978 to 29 July 1978 (18 episodes)

Artist: Guy Peeters

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: De wraak van de Zwaan [Revenge of the Swan] (in: Tina 1980)

Plot

Katrina Vale is a talented ballerina. Her mother is a ballet teacher, but has to work as a cheap one. Therefore life’s so much on the poverty line that Mum collapses of malnutrition from having to cut meals, and she’s taken to hospital. Katrina has to find a relative to look after her or it’s welfare, but Mum has never talked about any relations or her past life. A search of Mum’s belongings reveals she used to be a famous ballerina, under the name of Katia Groves. This is quite a surprise to Katrina, who was never told any of this, and is puzzled as to why things changed so much for Mum (yes, why did they?). Another ballerina, Rosa Kachinksy aka “The Swan”, was Mum’s best friend. Katrina finds the address for the ballet school Kachinsky runs in London and decides to go to Kachinsky for help. But in London Katrina gets hit by a hit-and run driver and loses her memory. She makes it to Kachinsky’s school but now has no idea why she came or who she is.

Kachinsky catches on to who Katrina is, though. Unfortunately she’s gone from Mum’s best friend to her worst enemy because she blames Mum for being confined to a wheelchair. Now she intends to use Katrina to wreak her revenge. So she takes advantage of Katrina’s amnesia to feed her an orchestrated tissue of lies to make Katrina her slave and keep her away from her mother forever.

It starts with Kachinsky telling Katrina that her name is Mary Black, and she’s been taken from an orphanage to work as a servant. Soon she is turning Katrina into a drudge who is lumbered with all the worst jobs around the place, and loving every minute of watching Katrina slave away. And of course she isn’t paying Katrina a penny for all the work; she tells Katrina that she’s living off her charity. But that’s only the beginning.

Kachinsky gives Katrina a ragged hair cut while she’s in a drugged sleep to prevent anyone recognising her from newspaper reports of her being missing (and no doubt Kachinsky enjoyed giving the poor girl that dreadful haircut!). When Kachinsky sees Katrina stealing moments to dance she puts her feet into deliberately heavy boots, on pretext they are medical boots, to stop her dancing and anyone getting suspicious.

The ballet pupils begin to notice how Kachinsky is treating Katrina. They sympathise with Katrina and tell her she’d being exploited. Their sympathy grows when Katrina plays a piece of music she finds and Kachinsky is so upset that she slams the piano lid so hard on Katrina’s hands that her fingers are badly bruised. They tell her that she was playing “The Swan”, a title role that was created especially for Kachinsky, and it’s where her nickname comes from. It was Kachinsky’s final triumph, for soon after she had the accident that crippled her.

During this same incident Kachinsky made a slip that she knew Katrina’s parents. When Katrina confronts Kachinsky, she spins a line that the parents were thieves who died in prison. She takes advantage of Katrina reclaiming a piece of her mother’s jewellery to plant ideas in Katrina’s mind that she is a thief too. She also makes threats that if Katrina leaves she will get no references. After this, Kachinsky is confident Katrina won’t leave, no matter how badly she is treated.

Seeing that the ballet pupils are getting suspicious and sympathising with Katrina, Kachinsky decides her next move is to turn them against her. She begins working on Sarah by making it look like Katrina is stealing from her. When the ‘theft’ is discovered Kachinsky spins out more lies about Katrina’s ‘criminal’ past right in front of the whole school. The plan works. Now the girls think Katrina’s a thief and turn against her.

However, Sarah is still friendly and treats Katrina to a ballet performance. Katrina feels ballet is the key to her past and hopes for a clue there. There she hears people repeating a long-standing rumour that within an hour of performing “The Swan”, the woman who was Kachinsky’s best friend deliberately crippled her out of jealousy. That woman is Katrina’s mother. So now we know why Kachinsky is out for revenge. But from what we have seen of both Kachinsky and Mrs Vale, can we really believe the rumour is true? We need to get Mrs Vale’s side of things.

Meanwhile, the police finally trace Katrina to Kachinsky’s ballet school. Kachinsky manages to mislead them, but then realises Katrina is missing because she’s still at the ballet. There Katrina has impressed performers with her own ballet talent. And while she was dancing, fragments of memory began to return, but they are not strong enough. When Kachinsky arrives she drags Katrina off and says she’s having delusions.

However, Katrina is finally beginning to doubt what Mrs Kachinsky is telling her. She and Sarah go in search of the orphanage. Kachinsky finds out and pulls another trick: she leads them to a burned-out orphanage and takes advantage of it having been deliberately burned down and someone dying in the fire to have Katrina believe she’s a fire bug and a murderer as well as a thief, and she’s wanted by the police for it. She found Katrina in a daze after the ‘incident’ and took her in and kept her safe from the police because she believed she deserved a second chance. After this, Katrina is now well and truly in the power of the Swan, for she now believes that Kachinsky is her only friend who did so much for her. She now does any job for Kachinsky, no matter how horrible, without complaint or payment, because she thinks this is the only way to repay her. Kachinsky realises Katrina’s completely in her power now too, and is crying for joy.

While Katrina spring-cleans Kachinsky’s room, she accidentally finds a secret room hidden behind the wardrobe. It is a shrine filled with Kachinsky memorabilia, and even includes the costume from “The Swan”.

Then Kachinsky’s chauffeur gossips about Katrina being an arsonist and hysteria spreads about her pulling the same thing at the school. Kachinsky takes advantage to keep Katrina locked in a disused coal cellar to sleep. There Katrina gets a frightening visitor – someone in the Swan costume! Next morning she checks the Swan costume and finds evidence it has been moved recently, and concludes someone took it and used it to frighten her.

The rumours about Katrina being an arsonist grow more intense. So when Sarah’s costume accidentally catches fire, tongues wag that Katrina caused it although she saved Sarah by putting out the flames. Sarah goes to hospital and now Katrina has lost her only friend.

Katrina’s such a bag of nerves now about her ‘arson’ and everyone turning against her that she takes off in a panic when a policeman calls. She also sees a strange woman lurking around and thinks she is a plain-clothed policewoman who is on her tail. When she tells Kachinsky this, Kachinsky tells her that the woman is just a new ballet student, Rita Hayes. All the same, Katrina remains convinced that she’s right when Rita seems to be watching her, snooping around in her room and asking her questions.

Meanwhile, the Swan costume is resurrected again. Katrina is surprised to find someone dancing in the costume in the ballet studio to “The Swan” music. She can’t see who it is because the headdress obscures the face. The mysterious dancer doesn’t seem able to dance properly. She throws a real hissy fit and smashes the ballet record.

When Katrina goes to Kachinsky to report the matter she finds Rita snooping around in Kachinsky’s office. Katrina doesn’t listen when Rita tries to explain, and that it’s for her own good. Katrina alerts Kachinsky, but they find Rita has cleared out. Kachinsky realises Rita’s snooping must be because she is onto her game with Katrina and gone to alert the police. Not wanting to be cheated of her revenge before it is complete, she decides to get rid of Katrina altogether before the police arrive.

On pretext she is helping to conceal Katrina from arrest, Kachinsky takes Katrina to a rusty old boat in the canal to hide, but in fact she means to kill Katrina there. When Katrina enters the boat she is surprised to hear somebody shut the hatch on her, which locks her in. For a while Katrina does nothing because she has been fooled by Kachinsky’s assurances that her chauffeur will come with supplies. Meanwhile, the police have arrived to question Kachinsky. The pupils are perturbed at how pleased Kachinsky seems to be at Katrina’s disappearance, which seems very odd considering what she had them believe about her taking care of Katrina before.

Back in the boat, Katrina finally realises nobody is coming, but assumes it is because something happened to Kachinsky. But when the tide causes water to rise in the rusty old tub (as Kachinsky planned) Katrina realises she has to get out fast or she will drown. After a desperate struggle she succeeds.

Katrina is in a dreadful state but, thinking Kachinsky did not return as promised because something happened to her, staggers back to the ballet school to check on her. There she collapses, in full sight of her mother, who recognises her at once. Mum has tracked Katrina down, with the aid of Sarah’s family and Rita Hayes. It turns out Rita Hayes was a private investigator Sarah’s family had hired to help Katrina; it was part gratitude for saving Sarah and part suspicion about Kachinsky’s treatment of Katrina.

However, Mum now fears Katrina is dead. Seeing this, Kachinsky crows – right in front of everyone, including the police – she has taken her revenge at last by robbing Mrs Vale of her daughter. At this, the police arrest Kachinsky.

But no – Katrina is still alive, and she regains her memory when her mother addresses her by her proper name. Mum explains to Katrina that she and Kachinsky used to be best friends at a ballet company, and she never minded that Kachinsky was the better dancer. However, following Kachinsky’s one and only (and unforgettable) performance as “The Swan”, she was crippled by a fall down a staircase and wrongly accused Mum of pushing her out of jealousy. The accusation was widely believed and Mum was forced to leave the stage. “The Swan” has never been performed since and the swan costume itself disappeared. At this, Katrina leads Mum and Sarah to the secret room full of Kachinsky memorabilia.

Then in comes Kachinsky. She had given the police the slip – and she’s walking! She had secretly regained the use of her legs years ago. She kept it quiet because she could never dance properly again and couldn’t settle for anything less than perfection, and she enjoyed playing on people’s sympathy into the bargain. Katrina now realises Kachinsky was the one in the swan costume, and Kachinsky deliberately shut her in the rusty old tub – to die. Kachinsky gleefully admits both charges and tells Katrina “what a trusting little fool” she was to fall for those tricks and all the other lies. As the police take Kachinsky back into custody she raves that she still has more than Mrs Vale, who in her view has nothing. But Katrina does not agree – and neither do we.

Thoughts

There have been hundreds of stories about unscrupulous people taking advantage of amnesiac girls for their own ends, such as Jinty’s “Miss No-Name”. But this one could well be the most disturbing, even sickening, of them all. Usually the people who take advantage of an amnesiac protagonist are just doing it for profit and unpaid labour. Feeding them lies about having shady pasts and being on the run from the police to blackmail them into staying is a pretty common trick; Mandy’s “The Double Life of Dolly Brown” aka “The Double Life of Coppelia Brown” is one example. But the antagonist in this story isn’t doing it for money – she’s doing it for revenge. Of course it is useful to exploit someone for unpaid labour, but that isn’t her real motive; it’s just part of her campaign for revenge.

Having revenge as the motive for enslaving an amnesiac girl rather than the usual greed makes the story truly frightening. Revenge is extremely dangerous because it can drive the antagonist to the point where she has no limits. That certainly is the case with Kachinsky. She is capable of anything, including murder, to get revenge on the woman she hates. As Kachinsky’s revenge unfolds she reveals herself more and more as what a sick, cruel, twisted woman she is. She is not content with merely exploiting Katrina and keeping her away from her mother. She means to break Katrina entirely with endless psychological and emotional tortures at her ballet school, including using the swan costume to terrorise Katrina. When it comes to plotting murder, Kachinsky has no compunction or remorse about it either. When she tells Katrina to use a gangplank to go over to the boat she contemplates just pushing it away and knocking Katrina into the mud. But she decides against it because it’s too quick. She wants to watch and relish each minute of Katrina suffering slowly.

Kachinsky is also extremely clever in the ways she constantly manages to block Katrina’s attempts to remember her past and twist it around to reinforce her lies even more, cut Katrina off from avenues of help, and ensnare Katrina ever more tightly. Kachinsky pulls it off so well that Katrina ends up thoroughly convinced that Kachinsky is actually protecting her, that everything she does is for her own good, and that she actually deserves everything that she is going through because of her so-called arson, murder and thievery. Katrina is so taken in by Kachinsky’s lies that she does not even realise she is being exploited. This makes Katrina’s situation even worse than other amnesiac protagonists; at least they understand the antagonists are abusing and exploiting them. But Katrina can’t; she’s been so take in and brainwashed that she thinks the woman who is abusing her is actually her only friend. Readers would have been crying for Katrina every step of the way, not only because of the abuse she is going through but also because she can’t see it for what it is.

When it is revealed that Kachinsky had been faking paralysis all this time, it’s the last straw that puts her well beyond the pale. Her excuse for abusing Katrina is that it’s all revenge on the woman who confined her to the wheelchair. But when we discover Kachinsky isn’t really confined to the wheelchair at all – well, what a nerve she’s got there! The last possible reason for Kachinsky evoking any of our sympathy is gone.

It is only when we see Mrs Vale’s flashback of Kachinsky before the accident that we feel Kachinsky is in any way tragic. We can see she used to be a very nice woman who would never have even dreamed of doing all those things she did to Katrina. And she would still be a nice, happy woman if she hadn’t had the accident. But really, Kachinsky’s hatred destroyed her far more than the accident did.

It is no surprise to learn that Kachinsky wrongly accused Mrs Vale of causing her accident. This almost invariably is the case in revenge stories, and it makes everything all the worse for all concerned because we know it’s all been for nothing.

Is Kachinsky insane? Or is she just so full of hate it turned her into an evil, twisted monster? It is difficult to determine. Kachinsky does not come across as downright insane, just sick, cruel and perverted. Only a psychiatrist can judge on her state of mind, but we never find out what the courts decide to do with her. We can safely assume that she will lose her ballet school, her reputation, and all the sympathy and respect people have for her. When word spreads, people are certain to rethink Kachinsky’s accusations against Mrs Vale, and her reputation will be salvaged. Mrs Vale may even become a teacher at Kachinsky’s ballet school, or even take it over altogether. Who knows? Whatever the aftermath, we can be confident that the Vales’ revenge will be sweeter than Kachinsky’s.