Monthly Archives: May 2017

June and School Friend 31 July 1971

They Call Me a Coward 5a

  • They Call Me a Coward!” (artist Leslie Otway)
  • Oh, Tinker! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Slaves of the Sleeping Ones (artist Juan Solé) – final episode
  • Animal World – feature
  • Angela Barrie: Trim ‘n’ Slim! (feature)
  • Gymnast Jinty (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Mystery of the Seal of Babylon – text story (artist Jim Baikie, writer Jean Theydon)
  • Bessie Bunter (writer Ron Clark)
  • Shirley’s Showdate: New Girl in Five C
  • Sindy and Her Friends in: Fight for Francesca! (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Sindy’s Scene: Her Diary and Club Page
  • The Champions: Ann Packer
  • Lucky’s Living Doll (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Rock of Destiny – Strange Story (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Nature’s Wonderful Ways – feature (artist Helen Haywood)
  • Orphans Alone (artist Tom Kerr)
  • Dottie Doogood (cartoon)
  • Wild Girl of the Hills (artist Carlos Freixas)

The bullying Cathy suffers at school puts her friend Lynn in danger, yet it still continues. Cathy loses her job because she is too upset over the whole affair to do it right. Her new job is proving too much for her, but she continues because her parents need the money. Everything is just piling up on our heroine!

Tinker tries to help out a sheep that has fallen down a crevice. As usual, she can’t get it right, and the sheep even takes a trip to Fairyland! At least the sheep enjoyed the trip.

It’s the final episode of “Slaves of the Sleeping Ones”. Defeating the Zurons turns out to be a matter of pressing the green button instead of the red one on their spaceship, which sends their spaceship off back into outer space. The Zurons themselves just disintegrate.

Gymnast Jinty has been secretly training Janice Stokes. Janice’s father is so opposed to her doing gymnastics that he locked her in on the day of the “Three Towns” athletic meeting. He even nailed the window shut to stop her climbing out! Jinty manages to get Janice out in time for the event. She also gives Janice’s father a good talking-to about how miserable he has made Janice by making her do things his way. Eventually Dad comes around, especially when he’s pressed to have his photo taken with his triumphant daughter.

Bessie is in a gymkhana this week. It turns out her mount is as big a food lover as she is, so she knows what to do to get him to win at every event – dangle food in front of him. What a pair!

Sindy suspects the prince her friend Francesca is set to marry is a creep, and her inquiries prove her right. The prince is a cad who squanders the family fortune and piles up debts, so it is obvious he’s out to marry Francesca for her money and squander that too. Sindy tries to show the prince up for what he is in front of Francesca, but it looks like the prince has foiled her. Fortunately the blurb for next week says that Sindy is not beaten yet.

In Lucky’s Living Doll, classmates are playing jokes with a trick spider. They get annoyed when Lucky refuses to joke someone with the spider. To keep the peace with them, Lucky pulls the joke on the teacher and cops lines.

“Orphans Alone” have a narrow escape when they get trapped at the foot of a cliff and the tide is coming in. This week’s Strange Story also has a perilous water escape, where Annie Simpson has a strange dream of a girl being kidnapped by pirates. She escapes the pirates by seizing control of the ship’s wheel and wrecking it against the Steeple Rock. The dream has Annie prepared when criminals kidnap her in the same manner, and she pulls the same stunt to escape.

Kidnapping and escaping are also the order of the day in “The Mystery of the Seal of Babylon”. The villainous Krebens has kidnapped Liza in order to force her father to reveal the whereabouts of the Seal of Babylon, a priceless relic. Liza manages an escape that would make Gymnast Jinty proud, but then a strong hand grips her. Has she been recaptured or is it something else?

In “Wild Girl of the Hills”, the mystery of Naomi’s bracelet deepens. Two gypsies know the truth, so our protagonists decide to tail them in the hope of uncovering it.

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June and School Friend 23 October 1971

Stories in this issue:

  • Gymnast Jinty (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Oh, Tinker! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Fashion flashes – feature (writer Angela Barrie)
  • Ann’s South Sea Adventure (artist Dudley Pout, writer Jason Alan)
  • Emma In The Shade (artist Juan Solé)
  • Bijli in the Dark (text story)
  • Bessie Bunter (writer Ron Clark)
  • Shirley’s Showdate – feature on Ian Carmichael
  • Sindy and her Friends in Boomerang! (artist Phil Townsend)
  • The Champions: sports feature on Emma ‘Maid Marian’ Gapchenko
  • Lucky’s Living Doll (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Nature’s Wonderful Ways (artist Helen Haywood)
  • Strange Story: The Island of Mystery (attributed to artist Shirley Bellwood)
  • My Brother’s a Nut!
  • Dottie Doogood (gag strip)
  • Double for Danger (artist Leslie Otway)
  • Star Special “The Darwin Adventure”

For this last issue of June & School Friend of the three that I acquired, I looked through the credits listed on Catawiki to be able to list artists (and even some writers) that I didn’t otherwise know. I am very grateful to that site for its detailed information. I was rather surprised to see Shirley Bellwood credited with the art on the Strange Story (The Island of Mystery, which was reprinted as a Gypsy Rose story in the Jinty Annual for 1980) as it looks much scrappier than Bellwood’s normal lovely art, but I have gone with this attribution rather than doubting it.

[By request, here is the Strange Story – click through for large, more readable pages]

“Gymnast Jinty” has escaped the confines of the school environment and is into thrilling spy-story stuff. Jinty is on a modelling assignment on a tropical island during a coup d’état; she gets embroiled in a rebellion against this wrongdoing. In this episode we see her scattering two thousand leaflets across the capital city – during a parachute drop! But we are promised that next week, she is thrown in jail. An exciting story!

“Oh, Tinker!” this week is a fun story about a magpie who stole an engagement ring from a young woman whose fiancé is very angry about it – the ring is returned in time for it to be clear that it wasn’t from carelessness that it was lost, but due to the thieving magpie. The best bit though is when the young lady in question gives her fiancé the heave-ho for having been such a git about it all.

[By request, here is the Tinker story – click through for large, more readable pages]

We have a single page of what looks art-wise like a rather earlier story: “Ann’s South Sea Adventure”. Ann Pilgrim travels to the South Sea Islands. Lots of action and danger with natives who speak broken English, hmm.

This is a much later episode of “Emma In The Shade” – her and her mother are living in poverty on a barge and just scraping by. Her mother is failing to make a living at painting, until an accident transforms one of her naturalistic paintings into a modernist success. (A well-worn joke that seems to have been used several times as the basis of an episode of one or other comic story.) She also makes a success of singing in a talent contest, once she takes Emma’s advice to not make the songs too ‘highbrow’.

The Sindy story features a fire at the sheep station where she is staying in Australia – and a secret that the daughter of the house is hiding from her father. It is simply that she is a talented violinist, but her father disapproves.

I reproduce here the page of “Nature’s Wonderful Ways”, which was often reprinted in Jinty issues and annuals. There is a signature at the bottom of the page, so we are able to credit it to Helen Haywood.

“Double for Danger” is the dramatic story of the issue. Gail Dawson is asked to become a body double for ballet soloist Karen Grant – a request which seems innocent enough, just embarrassing if she is found out. I suspect it will end up as rather more than it seems, though! I like the way the logo is done in one large vertical panel that runs from top to bottom of the page: it is shaded as if it might have been intended for colour reproduction originally.

I notice some differences between this title and the way things worked a bit later in Jinty‘s day. Primarily it’s rather longer – this issue is 36 pages rather than the 32 I am used to seeing – but looking at Catawiki I see that this figure is down from 44 pages in around 1968. I also see that the lettering in the stories is not done via typewriting as in Jinty et al – it’s hand-lettered throughout, sometimes more neatly than others, so presumably it was not done in house by a central resource. Interesting! Often the lettering was very nicely done too.

June and School Friend 3 July 1971

They Call Me a Coward 1a

  • They Call Me a Coward!” (artist Leslie Otway) – first episode
  • Oh, Tinker! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Slaves of the Sleeping Ones (artist Juan Solé)
  • Angela Barrie Presents Her Choice for a Pattern for Summer (feature)
  • Gymnast Jinty (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Mystery of the Seal of Babylon – text story (artist Jim Baikie, writer Jean Theydon)
  • Nature’s Wonderful Ways (artist Helen Haywood)
  • Bessie Bunter (writer Ron Clark)
  • The Windmill – text story (artist Jim Baikie, writer 11-year-old Susan Bloomer)
  • Sindy and Her Friends in: The Great Poodle Puzzle! (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Sindy’s Scene: Her Diary and Club Page
  • Lucky’s Living Doll (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • The Champions: Sally-Anne Stapleford
  • The Weather Decider – Strange Story
  • Animal World: It’s a Dog’s Life (feature)
  • Dotty Doogood (cartoon)
  • Orphans Alone (artist Tom Kerr)
  • Wild Girl of the Hills (artist Carlos Freixas)

Comixminx has been putting up entries on the odd June & School Friends she has acquired, so I will do the same.

It is the first episode of “They Call Me a Coward!”, a story that has its own entry on this blog because of the parallels it shares with the Jinty story “Waves of Fear” in which the protagonist is bullied for cowardice after she fails to come to a girl’s rescue. This story will hold the cover spot for the duration of its run.

This week’s Strange Story has a definite “don’t mess with Mother Nature” message. Sara James acquires a strange device called “Jeremiah Bagshaw’s Weather Decider”. You think it will be great to decide the weather you want? Sara thinks so until she tries the decider out. The ruddy dial keeps slipping to the extreme of whatever weather Sara sets it to: “gale” when she sets it to “breezy”, “tropical heat” when she sets it to “sunny”, and “torrential downpour” when she sets it to “rain”. In the end, Sara smashes the decider.

Lucky the Living Doll uses Punch and Judy props to take on a girl who uses the “Punch, punch, first day of the month and no return!” game to bully other girls. It works better than expected – the bully ends up with 500 lines.

“Speed” is Stackers’ order of the day in this week’s Bessie Bunter episode. It’s a motto that Bessie latches onto as an excuse to cause her usual mischief and even take the school governor roller-skating. Fortunately it all works out well when Bessie foils a car thief with her antics.

The Sleeping Ones in “Slaves of the Sleeping Ones” are now revealed to be aliens called Zurons. The Zurons want their slaves to dig something up for them. But Pat, our protagonist, is detected before she can find out what, and now the slaves are out to kill her!

Tinker tries to save a puppy from the doghouse when it chews up a man’s boot. Of course things don’t smoothly with her mixed-up magic, but at least it does help the puppy get away with it. Meanwhile, Sindy & Co are trying to help another dog, which has gone missing. They think they have spotted him at the circus, but it looks like a dead end.

Gymnast Jinty is trying to organise an aqua-show. Nothing has gone right so far, but can everything come together in the final episode this week?

“Orphans Alone” were all set to be adopted by the kindly Mr Maple – but then the workhouse authorities turn up, all ready to drag them back. So the orphans are on the run again. They end up in London with the aid of a barge woman and spot a vacancy. How will it go next week?

Naomi in “Wild Girl of the Hills” is not so lucky. The authorities have put her into an institution and Jean is trying to get her out.

Buster 30th Birthday Issue 26 May 1990

Birthday Buster 1

Contents in this issue:

  •  Buster (artist Jimmy Hansen)
  • Tom Thug’s Schooldayz (artist Lew Stringer)
  • Rodney & Dez (artist Gordon Hill)
  • X-Ray Specs (artist Mike Lacey)
  • Beastenders (artist Reg Parlett)
  • Specky Hector’s Totally Crucial History of Buster Comic! (artist and writer Lew Stringer)
  • Vid Kid (artist Jack Edward Oliver)
  • The Vampire Brats (artist Lew Stringer)
  • Adam Adman (artist Barry Glennard)
  • Buster Survey for Kids and Adults
  • Chalky (artist Gordon Hill)
  • Ricky Rainbow (artist Jimmy Hansen)
  • The Winners (artist Jimmy Hansen)
  • Double Trouble (artist Terry Bave)
  • The Leopard from Lime St (artist Mike Western, writer Eric Bradbury)
  • Melvyn’s Mirror (artist Terry Bave)
  • Mad Mac (artist Mark Bennington)
  • School Belle (artist Tom Paterson)
  • Nightmare on Erm St. (artist Vic Neill)

Sunday 28 May 2017 marks what would have been Buster’s 57th birthday. To honour the anniversary I am discussing how Buster celebrated his 30th birthday in 1990, as it is a Buster birthday issue I have to hand. I have also included a gallery of the pages that marked the occasion. Sadly, Buster was cancelled just a few months short of his 40th birthday and never got the chance to celebrate his ruby anniversary.

Specky Hector kicks off the celebrations by pulling out his vintage Busters for fans to read. Tom Thug steals the comics (and later the birthday cake), but it all explodes in his face, as usual. Buster also steals the opportunity for a blast from the past by slipping some old Buster characters into Tom’s pages, which gives Tom nightmares. Later on in the comic, Specky Hector presents a one-page history of Buster, with Tom providing some humorous asides.

“The Winners”, “Chalky” and “Double Trouble” also join in the celebrations. The Winners compete in the Editor’s contest for the best Buster birthday cake. The Winners make a birthday cake that is so huge they need a cement mixer to make it. Too bad the cake ends up like cement as well and just about breaks the poor old Editor’s teeth! Still, the Editor awards them the first prize anyway – a cookbook – as he believes they really need it. The Winners say they will use the next 30 years to practise, so we expect a perfect birthday cake from them when it’s time for Buster’s 60th birthday. The twins in “Double Trouble” present the Editor with a huge present, which is full of the Buster characters they have rounded up to join the party, and the characters have all brought the food for it. Chalky decorates a wall with a wall-sized version of Buster’s first issue to commemorate Buster’s 30th birthday. According to bustercomic.co.uk, the page was re-used for Buster’s 35th birthday in 1995 and 39th birthday issue in 1999.

Lastly, Buster has recycled a parents & kids survey from 1985 and updated it in order to compare the generation of 1960 with the generation of 1990. The kids of 1990 would answer the questions on the first page, and an adult from the family would answer the questions on the second page. The purpose was to compare the lifestyles, likes and dislikes of the children of 1990 and the children-now adults of 1960. Of course there were prizes to be won. It is funny to think that the children of 1990 who responded back then would now be old enough to respond as the adults of 2017. How would their likes, dislikes and lifestyles of 1990 compare with those of the kids of 2017? Does anyone fancy trying out the survey out with their kids? It’s been uploaded in case anyone does.

“The Leopard from Lime St” is also a reflection of how times and readership had changed. When the strip ended in 1985 it marked the end of an era for Buster, namely the adventure strips that used to abound in the comic, such as “Fishboy” and “Galaxus”. From then on it was funnies all the way. The year 1990 was the year Leopardman enjoyed a brief revival, with a collection of reprints from his old strip. But Leopardman did not seem to be as popular as he was before. His 1990 revival came to a definitive end, with a reprint of the story that ended with him losing his mask while pulling a rescue, so he had to fake his death to protect his secret identity. Thus he did not make it to the merger with Whizzer & Chips the following week. Despite a closing line that said “The Leopardman lives on – to return again sometime!”, he did not come back during the last nine years of Buster’s run. However, the assurance that the Leopardman would “return again sometime” is going to be fulfilled after all, with the upcoming Leopardman reprint volumes.

A discussion of Buster’s last nine years and his final issue can be found here.

A Leap Through Time… [1978]

A Leap Through Time

Click thru

Published: Misty 26 August 1978 – 7 October 1978

Episodes: 7 (part 1 almost the length of a double episode spread)

Artist: Eduardo Feito

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: Een sprong in de tijd [A Leap through Time] Tina (weekly comic, 1985)

Plot

Elena Hare is on a school trip in Crete. The school party is not far from an old amphitheatre. As usual, Laura picks on Elena, calling her “rabbit”, a cruel twist on her surname, because Elena is no good at sport, has no confidence, and keeps herself buried in books.

Elena takes refuge in the old amphitheatre and begins to daydream. She then has a vision of herself in the amphitheatre in the days of ancient Crete. She is performing a sort of bull-baiting dance with a live bull (as explained in the text that describes life in ancient Crete) and wearing a crystal bull pendant. Elena’s final challenge is the bull leap, which means taking the bull by the horns in order to perform a somersault straight over the bull’s back. The leap is demonstrated in the story’s most striking panel below:

bull-leap

The crowd cheers her victory and someone throws her the crystal bull pendant, saying “wear it for me!”

The girls catch up and Elena tells them what she experienced. They all ridicule it, but the crystal bull is there. Elena is seized by a sudden impulse to shut up that sneering Laura once and for all. Still clutching the crystal bull, she performs amazing somersaults that take the girls by surprise.

It is time for the school trip to leave, but Elena does not want to go. She feels like she belongs there, and she has been having odd dreams about some Cretan girls pleading with her to stay.

Back at school, Elena takes everyone by surprise. Last term she was useless at gym. But now, with her new confidence – and crystal bull pendant – there is no stopping her from going to the gym and her new gymnastics skills are stunning. In fact, Elena feels she knows every trick in the book about gymnastics now and is a cert for the inter-schools gymnastics contest. But then she has more visions of the Cretan girls. This causes her to take a fall while performing on the parallel bars and she ends up in hospital.

In hospital, the doctors are puzzled as to why they can’t wrench the pendant away from Elena, who is in a coma. Elena’s visions grow even more terrifying. In them, she has taken a fall while showing the Cretan girls the bull leap. But she must recover in time to teach it to them, or they will all die on the day of the sacrifice. Crete is being plagued by quakes. The King of Crete thinks the quakes are due to the bull god being displeased and must be placated with sacrifice. So the girls (Iris, Hebe, Melina, Eyria and, of course, Elena) have been selected for sacrifice to the bull god.

The girls don’t understand Elena’s protests that she is a girl from England who doesn’t understand what the hell is going on; they tell her she is the most famous bull-dancer in Crete and will teach them how to face the bull. Elena soon finds there is no escape because the girls are too well guarded.

Elena finally understands she is on some sort of time trip to ancient Crete. The pendant was bequeathed to her from another Elena, an ancestress who wore the pendant before her and successfully leapt the bull. Elena decides she must help the girls.

Upon entering the hall of the bull, Elena realises the bull is a fake. It is just a man-operated wooden machine disguised as a bull, and it has been provided for practice. Treating it like the school gym vault, Elena begins to train the girls, but they don’t have much success with the vaulting. They too are lacking confidence. Moreover, they are being fattened up for sacrifice, which does not make them fit for athletics or somersaulting over bulls. Elena imposes serious training, with intense exercise, eating only wholesome foods, and says that she used to lack confidence as well. If she can overcome that, they can too!

A real bull is brought in, and Elena takes the girls down to practise on him. She is warned the bull is extra-dangerous because of an injury. But the warning comes too late – she’s already in the pit with him, and he’s coming too fast for her to do the bull leap! However, the other girls find their courage and distract the bull enough for Elena to get out.

Following this, the girls bond together as a team and overcome their fears. The bull handler planned it that way and continues to help them by bringing in another bull for them to practise with. Elena makes progress with the bull leap and coming up with strategies to defeat the bull on the day of the sacrifice.

However, the continuing quakes have the people so terrified that the King advances the date of the sacrifice. It will now be the following day, which cuts the time the girls needed to be properly prepared, and the four trainees have not learned the bull leap.

Elena manages to orchestrate a breakout through old sewers. But they get recaptured when they reach the harbour in search of a boat. Moreover, the harbour is high and dry because the water has receded drastically. The Cretans believe it is a sign that that the bull god is angry because the sacrifice girls tried to escape. But Elena recalls from geography lessons that the sea receding in this manner means a major earthquake is coming within 24 hours (uh, shouldn’t it mean that a tsunami is coming?).

But not even the girls listen to Elena’s warnings about this. They too believe the bull god will be appeased and the quakes stop once they are sacrificed, while Elena knows that no amount of sacrificial blood will stop what is coming. Even the birds are taking fright from the impending quake and fleeing.

In the arena, Elena faces the bull alone because the others are too frightened. Elena realises the bull is too big for the bull leap, so things look even more hopeless. Then fate steps in – a small earthquake strikes and opens a deep rift in the ground that cuts the bull off from Elena and makes it run away in terror.

The King takes this as a sign that the bull god does not want the girls to be sacrificed after all, and he orders them to be set free. But a few minutes later the huge earthquake strikes, killing everyone in the arena. Elena does not look much better off.

Elena now wakes up in hospital. She has been in her strange coma for 15 days. She finds her crystal bull is now smashed and is worried she will lose her newly discovered skills for gymnastics. But when she gets back to school she is relieved to find she still has them.

In another time and place, Iris, Hebe, Melina and Eyria watch Elena perform her gymnastics with the aid of a mystic. They are glad to see Elena so happy in her own world and thank the mystic for it.

Thoughts

This story certainly gets off to an unconventional start. Before we even start reading the first episode we are actually given a page of historical background on ancient Crete and the bull leap to give us some context and help us understand the story better. Seldom have girls’ comics had such foresight. The first episode itself is even longer than Misty’s usual four-page spreads.

At first it looks like the story will go off in the direction of a timid no-hoper girl who gains confidence and talent when she is given a magical object. The formula has been used over and over in girls’ comics, and is sometimes given an edge when the magic object turns out to have a dark side or causes awkward problems. But instead of having Elena and her crystal bull continuing to wow everyone at school while arousing jealousy in rivals, which is the more usual convention, the pendant takes Elena off on an abrupt time travel journey to ancient Crete to save four girls from death. It certainly is quite a departure from convention.

Elena, who is barely out of her own shell and only just acquired a talent for gymnastics, must now impart her new skills to these four girls who are pretty much like herself not long ago – lacking confidence and think themselves hopeless at such acrobatics. It’s a race against time against the date for the sacrifice, it’s a matter of saving the lives of four girls, and then it looks like a futile cause once Elena realises there is going to be a huge earthquake anyway, regardless of what happens in the arena. But Elena takes everything firmly in hand, even when it looks like it’s all pointless because of the impending earthquake. Surely no serial has made a more sterling message about having confidence in yourself and keeping the faith than this one.

The mechanics of the time travel and the crystal bull pendant are not really explained, which is not really surprising. At first it looks like Elena might be reliving some sort of past life or becoming possessed by the spirit of the other Elena. But at the end it is revealed that the four girls and a mystic are watching her from another time and place. So could the mystic have somehow engineered the whole thing? We are not told, and it probably best left to the imagination because it would give you a headache trying to figure it out.

Feito’s artwork does a brilliant job of bringing off the story, such as those huge sweeping panels of the amphitheatre, the bull leap acrobatics, and the bulls themselves. Drawing animals was always one of Feito’s greatest strengths. The story also shows that Feito’s artwork lends itself well to period stories that use settings of ancient civilisations. Another Misty story, “When the Rain Falls…”, which uses a Roman setting, also demonstrates this. Though John Armstrong remains unmatched for drawing gymnastics, the Grecian-style panel demonstrating the mechanics of the bull leap is one of Feito’s best ever.

 

 

The Debut of The Four Marys [1958]

Four Marys 1Four Marys 2Four Marys 3

This entry presents the very first episode of The Four Marys. The original appeared in Bunty #1 on 18 January 1958, and this is the reprint from Golden Age Classic Stories Bunty for Girls 2009. Artwork is by Bill Holroyd, who drew the first 15 episodes of The Four Marys.

The first episode establishes the elements that will continue all the way to the last episode in Bunty #2249, 17 February 2001: the four girls who have to go by their last names because they all share the same Christian name; they share the same study and a long-standing friendship through thick and thin; the snobs (not yet named) who will always look down on Mary Simpson because she is ‘common’; and the characterisation that helped to make The Four Marys so popular. In the early stories The Four Marys also had more individual looks than they did by the 1990s, especially Mary Cotter.

There is a distinctive Enid Blyton feel about the first episode to modern eyes, both in terms of its tone and its artwork. But The Four Marys were willing to adapt to changes in trends, tastes, and in the education system itself. For example, the formidable Dr Gull in the first episode was eventually replaced by the modern-thinking Miss Mitchell in the 1980s. There was even one story where Dr Gull returned to the modern St Elmo’s, but was too old-fashioned and strict to accept how things had changed. She tried to force the school into her mould, and of course there was bad reaction to it.

An in-depth discussion of The Four Marys, which includes pictorial comparisons of how they and their supporting cast changed over the years, can be found here at Girls Comics of Yesterday.

June and School Friend 4 September 1971

Stories in this issue:

  • Emma in the Shade (artist Juan Solé)
  • Oh, Tinker! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Angie’s Angel (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • S.O.S.! – Agony aunt Angela Barrie
  • Gymnast Jinty (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Bijli the Curious Mongoose (text story)
  • Nature’s Wonderful Ways (feature)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • More Winning Pictures By Our Readers
  • Sindy and her Friends in “Carefree’s Champion”
  • The Champions – Lillian Board (sports personality feature)
  • Lucky’s Living Doll (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Strange Story: “Phantoms of the Old Chateau” (artist Phil Townsend)
  • My Brother’s a Nut! – sparkling new family story begins today
  • Adam’s Got What he Wants – feature on Adam Faith
  • Orphans Alone (artist Tom Kerr)

Another one of my slightly-randomly-acquired issues of June and School Friend. As I said in the comments on the last post, we will look to cover more titles beyond Jinty on this blog in the future.

“Emma In The Shade” is a nicely-drawn tale of parental angst. As with the other stories in June & SF, it feels very short at only 2 pages long per episode but other than that it could certainly fit in the pages of Jinty. Emma is the only child of brilliant parents, who expect her to excel likewise. But she doesn’t feel that she has any talents, and her mother in particular is very hard on her as a result. Of course when there is an accident that deprives her of one parent, it is the unsympathetic one that she is left with…

Little fairy Tinker is trying to help a young boy who is having no luck fishing – through a series of happy accidents she ends up dragging the whole jetty he is standing on off to the deep sea, which at least means that he ends up with an impressive catch!

Angie West is in trouble. While trying to find out what happened to a china angel belonging to her old friend, she has got mixed up in something which results in her being accused of robbery. She is cleared by the end of the episode because luckily she sketched a man that she saw in pirate costume in the location of the robbery – and that turned out to be the perpetrator, so all was well.

Gymnast Jinty is faced with a dilemma – the school she works at is due to be merged with another, and she and the games teacher at the other school must compete for their jobs. I’m not that interested in the story resolution but Jim Baikie does such lovely art even in the background details – Jinty invents a game to get the school girls practicing hard, by hitting tennis balls against ‘space monsters’ she has set up dangling from the ceiling of the gym. They are lovely little details. I include it here for others to enjoy.

click thru

The text story is a three-pager, as with the earlier issue I posted about. This is not so much a serial as a series of linked stories about the same protagonists, seemingly the little curious mongoose in particular. There is also a one-page “Nature’s Wonderful Ways” illustrated feature on interesting animals and their play-time habits.

Bessie Bunter is up to her usual tricks, but so is her brother, who is her rival in the quest to obtain a feast from a school hamper! But the two chumps, sorry chums, end up pinching a basket of cacti for the flower show instead, alas for them.

Sindy’s pal Tim dashes into a stable when a fire breaks out, and they discover a tale of drugged and sabotaged horses. Very Dick Francis.

The feature about a sports personality is on Lillian Board, a very fast runner I’d never heard of. She sadly died of cervical cancer at the very early age of 22: the feature just refers to ‘her killer disease’ without going into any further details and I needed to look her up to find out anything more.

Robert MacGillivray delivers his usual fun as Lucky and her living doll try to enjoy the sunshine without too many slapstick sillies.

The Strange Story is drawn by Phil Townsend, meaning we really have a good lot of Jinty stalwarts featured in this issue. It is about a girl in the French Resistance, who is guided to find an important package which has landed in the middle of a maze. Her guides are the ghosts of previous inhabitants who followed the path to escape from revolutionaries long ago.

“My Brother’s A Nut” is rather sloppily drawn I would say. Jilly Carter’s family is all very normal and ordinary, apart from her brother, who often takes it into to try out new ideas. This week he’s trying to get Jilly to form a band with him and some friends, as the drummer – but of course she has never done any drumming before.

The artist on “Orphans Alone” is familiar but I don’t know his/her name [edited to add – Catawiki tells me this is Tom Kerr]. Beth and Tim are orphans who have run away from the workhouse and are struggling to make a living. When Tim buys her a bottle at a fair, they seem to be dogged by bad luck afterwards, but it turns out to be all because of a scam that a nasty trickster is trying to play on the two. I assume there are further episodic tales of these two orphans to come, until eventually they find their last home or long-lost parents or similar.

June and School Friend 10 April 1971

Stories in this issue:

  • Oh, Tinker! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Wild Girl of the Hills (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • It’s Easter Week! (crafts feature by Angela Barrie)
  • Gymnast Jinty (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Pony Trek Penny (writer Linda Blake) – prose serial
  • Call Me Cupid! (artist Bill Baker)
  • “I Talk To Basil Brush” – Showdate (feature)
  • Sindy and her friends in The Haunted Theatre (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Sindy’s Scene – her Diary and Club News (feature)
  • Animal World (feature)
  • Lucky’s Living Doll (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Hobby Time – Rambling (feature)
  • “The Elsa Story” (true story feature)
  • “The Shadow of Success” – Strange Story (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • The Grays Fight Back! (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Secret of Bell Mountain

Some months ago I bought three copies of June and School Friend, slightly on a whim. They are very readable, and also interesting for the light they shed on how IPC girls comics developed over the years. There are a lot of different comics stories included – 10 in total – but these are shorter than in Jinty or the like, as they are pretty much all only 2 pages long each. That leaves more room for text items, including a three page serialised prose story, which is something that never happened in Jinty and only rarely in Tammy. I will write detailed posts on all three of them, as we do for Jinty issues, but I know fewer of the artists to be able to credit their work.

“Oh, Tinker!” looks rather like a story from a nursery-title: drawn by Trini Tinturé, it features a sweet little fairy who can cast up to 3 spells a day and often gets things mixed up. Of course in the end everything always works out ok.

The “Wild Girl of the Hills” is Naomi, a gypsy girl who lives alone in a cave and is friends with wild creatures. Her only friend is Jean Ross, whose father is the head game-keeper locally; the two girls are drawn together by their love of animals. This is a theme that occurs in other stories; Freixas’ lovely art makes it worth a look.

“Gymnast Jinty” was occasionally seen in as a reprint in an annual; it’s interesting to see this story, which I assume may have lead to the idea behind naming Jinty itself. Jinty Lewis is a popular young gym mistress at Sandbury School; she has to deal with emotional troubles from her pupil Gail.

Bessie Bunter is always a fun strip, if very silly indeed, and of course old-fashioned. Bessie does some shopping and scarfs as many free samples as she can – but what with one thing and another still ends up as the hero of the day when she inadvertently catches a shoplifter.

“Pony Trek Penny” is credited to Linda Blake, who is also credited with a text story printed in the 1975 Jinty annual. I suspect that means either that the story in the annual is a June &SF reprint, or that Mavis Miller kept Ms Blake on the creative books during the initial while that Jinty was getting established. She is not a name that seems to appear in subsequent pages of Jinty though.

“Call Me Cupid!” starts this week – a humorous story about a girl whose older sister breaks up with her fiancé when he fails to turn up to the church in time – he got his dates mixed up! Cue match-making from the younger sister, to stop her older sister from moaning so much.

There is a comic with a difference in the middle of the  issue – ‘by arrangement with the manufacturers of Pedigree Dolls’, it features Sindy and her friends. Here it is, partly so you can enjoy the lovely Phil Townsend art.

click thru

There is a two-page episode of “Lucky’s Living Doll” which lets us enjoy Robert MacGillivray’s art, but then we are very well off for his art in this issue, as the Strange Story also is drawn by him. The Strange Story is 3 pages long – the only comics story in the issue which is as long as that. A girl borrows a tennis racket from an old champion and it seems to encourage her to heights of dedication and ruthlessness, which starts to make her unhappy. And MacGillivray also draws “The Greys Fight Back!” about a family rallying round their father, who is in a wheelchair following an accident and is depressed about it. Normally this sort of role would be fulfilled by a girl protagonist so this is a different twist. It has a humorous angle rather than dealing strongly with negative emotions like anger or despair.

In the letters page we see an example of a reader who is interested in the creators behind the stories: she asks “why don’t you print something about the different artists who draw the stories”. A particular favourite of hers is Trini Tinturé, who is given a name in the reply and described as “a Spanish girl… who lives in Barcelona – and has her record player going to keep her company while she’s working!” We are promised more of Trini in a later issue. I wonder if she was in a feature?

The last story of the issue is “Secret of Bell Mountain”, a thriller which ends with the brave girl protagonist being held up at gun point by the villain of the piece.

Jinty and Lindy 1 January 1977

Jinty cover 1 January 1977

Contents in this issue:

Jinty’s New Year issue for 1977 was bang on New Year’s Day. Jinty says “make it a great New Year – with us!” Indeed, in my opinion 1977 was the year Jinty hit her stride. In 1977 she cast off the Lindy logo that had stayed with her throughout 1976. But what really defined 1977 as the year Jinty hit her stride was fully establishing her trademark science fiction and jauntiness with strips like the quirky “Fran’ll Fix It!” and her “smash hit” story of 1977, “Land of No Tears”. In the same year, Jinty added her resident spooky storyteller, Gypsy Rose. It was also in 1977 that Jinty added Guy Peeters and the unknown Concrete Surfer to her team, who would go on to draw some of her biggest classics.

Oddly, although Gypsy Rose did not appear in Jinty until 29 January 1977, there is a horoscope in this issue saying, “Gypsy Rose looks at the stars”. Readers must have been wondering, “Who the heck is Gypsy Rose?” The horoscope appears on the same page as the blurb for a new story, “Mark of the Witch!”, so perhaps it was meant as a foreshadowing for Gypsy Rose too. If so, it is an odd one, because it gives no hint of who Gypsy Rose is supposed to be. Is it the pen name of the astrologer who writes the horoscope or something?

The cover itself is a beautiful one, with its ingenious use of blues, yellows and reds. The white space lightens things up and does not make the cover too heavy. The seasons look a bit mixed. Mandy’s water-skiing panel hints at summer, while the holly the poor old druid is about to sit on implies winter. The rock Gertie puts the holly on makes it reminiscent of a Christmas pudding, which further adds to the winter theme. While Mandy and Gertie look happy on the cover, we get the opposite with Ruth and Ayesha, who are on the wrong end of a farmer’s gun.

Of course we have New Year features. There is a page where pop stars like Paul McCartney and Paul Nicholas list their resolutions for 1977. In “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” Henrietta mishears the word “resolution” as “revolution” and enchants everyone at school into a revolution instead of making resolutions. Alley Cat starts off New Year doing what he does best – annoying the Muchloots. In this case it’s raiding their larder for a New Year feast. Gertie triggers a series of events that establishes Stonehenge – its purpose being a tourist attraction – and its opening has New Year celebrations included.

Now, on to the other stories:

“Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud” is the first of Jinty’s stories to end in 1977, with the mixed-up identities of the skivvy and the high-class girl being sorted out once they finally find each other. This also marks the end of Jinty’s serials with 19th century settings, which had been introduced when Lindy merged into Jinty way back in November 1975. Its replacement next week is Phil Townsend’s first 1977 story, “Mark of the Witch!

So far there is no end for Hetty King’s ordeal. Hetty is lumbered with looking after Jo, but Jo hates Hetty because she wrongly blames Hetty for her sister’s death. Hetty manages to secure a job as a temporary PE teacher at her new locality after Jo’s hatred forced her out of her old one, but she faces an uphill battle to win respect from the pupils. And how long before Jo’s hatred interferes with everything?

Mandy applies makeup to adopt a new persona, “Bubbles”, and goes water-skiing. But really – wearing a wig while water-skiing? No wonder the episode ends with Mandy’s secret in danger.

Martine’s odd behaviour is getting worse and worse. Tessa can’t figure out what the hell is going on, except that Martine seems to be acting like the crazed woman she plays onstage.

As already mentioned on the cover, Ruth and Ayesha have a scary moment with a farmer. Fortunately he turns friendly after Ayesha saves his life. But then a shoplifter makes Ruth the scapegoat for her crimes, taking advantage of the prejudice against gypsies.

In “Is This Your Story?”, Lynn Carter feels her family don’t appreciate her and she envies her friend Mary for being an only child. But when both girls end up in hospital, right next to each other, Lynn learns that some people may not be as enviable as she thinks and she draws closer to her family.

In “Sceptre of the Toltecs”, both Clare and a class bully begin to suspect that Malincha, the mystery girl from Mexico, has strange powers. The blurb for next week says there will be more evidence of this.

Girl II #151, 31 December 1983

Girl 151

  • Splat! (photostory)
  • Animal Poem (feature)
  • Fun Fashion: Going in Disguise (feature)
  • Tippy’s Special Pool (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Special Friend – text story (artist Jenny Gable)
  • Beauty Resolutions: I Promise… (feature)
  • The Kitty Café Cats (artist Joe Collins)
  • The Secret Society of St. Nicola’s (photostory)
  • Flower’s First Days (feature)
  • Patty’s World (artist Purita Campos)
  • Slaves of the Nightmare Factory (photostory)
  • Help Me! (problem page)
  • Police pinup (feature)

This issue of Girl II was published on New Year’s Eve 1983, so it is not surprising there is a New Year’s resolutions feature. The Kitty Cats are also having a dispute over their New Year’s resolutions – the first one of which turns out to be “We promise not to argue”. Meanwhile, Patty hasn’t even got up to Christmas Day yet, and Christmas Eve is anything but merry because Patty’s stepfather has fallen foul of a road accident.

Splat the alien needs a food called “blengrens” in his alien language – which turn out to be peas – in order to remain a convenient doll size and not his usual 10 metres. But he might have been better off growing back to 10 metres after all because he’s now been kidnapped by Rita Harrison and Thelma Crow, the worst enemies of his friend Wendy Collins.

Nobody realises “Tippy’s Special Pool” is being used for dumping chemical waste, which has now poisoned Tippy the otter and his friend Frances. Can it all be cleaned up in the final episode next week?

“The Secret Society of St. Nicola’s” swears to help a new pupil when the headmistress does not allow her to keep her pet at the school. Still, the headmistress’s position is understandable when you consider the pet is a crocodile!

The plight of the “Slaves of the Nightmare Factory” grows even bleaker after escapee Ellen Crawley dies in suspicious circumstances. In punishment for her escape, the girls are given even higher dress quotas to meet. At least the toady is punished too, by losing her privileges and having to share the girls’ rotten diet. Then Natalie falls dangerously ill, but the crooks’ only response is to shut her in the Punishment Box because she was too ill to meet her quota. Amanda is shut in there too. On the other hand, this enables Amanda to discover that fate has played a cruel trick on the man who is the mastermind of it all, and it could cause everything to explode in the crooks’ faces.