Monthly Archives: November 2017

Fatherland [2017]

Fatherland cover

Published: Commando #5053

Art: Ian Kennedy (cover); Rodriguez and Morhain (story)

Writer: Iain McLaughlin

In the previous Commando entry on this blog we profiled Operation Nachthexen, the first Commando to have a female protagonist after over 50 years of exclusively male protagonists. All the same, the main protagonist was still male and the female protagonist was more in a supporting if major role.

This Commando is the first to have a female protagonist who is the star of the show in her own right. It is also the first Commando to have a female antagonist.


In March 1933 Hitler and his Nazi Party gain absolute control over Germany (and absolute is the word). For Hans Fischer, a German diplomat and Nazi living in London, this means benefits and promotion, but his Nazism is tearing his family apart. Hans’ wife Elizabeth is British born and therefore does not support “that funny little man Hitler” (say what?). She is appalled at how her husband has changed for the worse since he embraced Nazism, and with fanatical zeal. When Hans says they are all moving to Berlin so their children, Kurt and Lisa, can be brought up as proper Germans (Nazis, he means!), Elizabeth tries to do a runner with the children. Unfortunately she only succeeds in getting Lisa away. Kurt remains in the clutches of his fanatical Nazi father, which does not bode well for him.

Fatherland 2

Ten years later World War II is on, and Lisa (now Fisher) joins the fight against Hitler. As Lisa can speak German, she is chosen for a special assignment. After two months of intense special training, she is sent to the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands, where she goes undercover as Greta Kruger, a German auxiliary the Resistance intercepted. Her task is to work at one Colonel Schaudi’s office to gather information on the shipping. The German supply shipping has the infuriating habit of arriving at different times, which makes it difficult for the Allies to know when to intercept and destroy them. So they need information on the times those ships are coming.

As per training, Lisa also spends a great deal of time observing the routines of the German guards and patrols – with particular attention to the gaps and blind spots that she can take advantage of in order to move around without being caught.

Lisa also has to tread carefully around her roommate, Hannah Muller, who is a committed Nazi and a callous cold fish. Hannah looks upon the islanders as scum who are beneath the superior Germans and badly need German discipline to turn them around. She does not approve of Lisa saving a local boy from being run over by a German motorcyclist (and taking some injury herself) or Lisa going to church.

Fatherland 3

Hannah has no idea that the real reason for Lisa going to church is that the minister, Reverend Letts, is Lisa’s contact. Lisa gets the E.T.A. of one German supply ship, the HSK Wagner. However Lisa nearly gets unstuck at the rendezvous on a cliff to pass the information to Rev. Letts when a sentry catches her. She ends up slugging him and he falls to his death at the bottom of the cliff. As predicted, Schaudi puts the sentry’s death down to an accident (and orders it to be hushed up because he does not want the islanders to hear about such embarrassments). But Lisa and Rev. Letts are not going to use that cliff for a rendezvous again.

Lisa’s information enables the Allies to succeed in intercepting and destroying the Wagner. But when word reaches Berlin they (correctly) suspect their security has been compromised and send in one of their leading and most ruthless SS Oberfuehrers to investigate the matter. And guess who it is? Yep – Lisa’s father! What’s more, Lisa’s brother Kurt is in tow too, as an SS Hauptsturmfuehrer on Dad’s staff.

Lisa is unaware of this complication as she gathers evidence that the Germans are going to use the Channel Islands as a stockpile for German weapons. Rev. Letts tells Lisa the RAF is going to bomb the munitions store that night and she is required to light flares for them to see by.

Finding pretexts to get away from Hannah for night missions has been another problem for Lisa. The first time, Lisa said she was laid up because she was injured from the motorcycle incident, which worked. But the second trick – giving Hannah drugged coffee – does not. By the time Lisa is at the rendezvous lighting the flares, she finds Hannah has followed her; obviously she smelt a rat and has now discovered everything. A fight breaks out, and Hannah ends up out cold due to Lisa’s superior fighting training. The ensuing bomb raid does the rest in finishing off Hannah. Lisa then proceeds to frame Hannah for everything in order to cover her tracks.

The frame-up of Hannah works, but Lisa is in for a shock at the debriefing over Hannah – her SS father and brother. Fortunately they do not see through her disguise, but she realises their presence is now making things too risky for her. Things get even more risky when Schaudi wants to plant Lisa on the church as a choir member because he suspects it is linked to the Resistance.

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Orders come for Lisa to be withdrawn because of the increased risk. A plane will come for her in two days and the Germans will discover her ‘fall over a cliff’ later. During those two days, Lisa is appalled to see what a pair of vicious bullies her father and brother have become, as shown in the way they treat the islanders.

Lisa has one final task on the night she is to go: steal detailed orders of naval schedules from Schaudi’s office. Unfortunately Kurt has picked that night to start changing the guard routines, which impedes Lisa’s progress in getting away to meet the plane after stealing the papers. At one point she has no choice but to slug a guard, and she barely makes it in time for her plane. Unfortunately, Hans and Kurt discovered the guard, which alerted them, and now they arrive on the scene.

Still thinking she is Greta Kruger, Hans confronts her about her treason to the Fatherland. A moment later, Hans is quite taken aback and confused when she suddenly starts calling him “[Daddy]” and confronts him on the way he ripped his own family apart in the name of Nazism. Kurt, however, immediately understands what it’s about.

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As the family squabble unfolds, it becomes clear that years of abuse and bullying from Dad are responsible for Kurt being a bully himself. However, unlike the merciless Nazi fanatic father, there is still good in Kurt, and now it comes to the surface. He cannot bring himself to send his own sister to the firing squad and finds the courage to say this to his bully father. Dad’s response is more bullying of Kurt: he lashes out at his son and knocks him to the ground. He then points his gun at Lisa, telling her that she’ll be interrogated until she talks and all the rest of it. Moments pass as they just stare down each other. However, those moments give Kurt time to recover and he shoots his father dead to save Lisa: “Your cruelty and obsession has hurt me on many occasions. You will not do this to my sister.”

Kurt helps Lisa to escape and cover it up afterwards. He declines to go with her as he is still loyal to Germany, but promises to find her after the war ends. As Lisa flies to safety, Kurt silently wishes her luck.


It is not surprising that the first Commando to have a female lead as the main protagonist puts her into undercover work and espionage rather than into combat as the male protagonists most often are in Commando. It also makes a change from making her a Resistance fighter, as girls’ comics so often did. Lisa is working with the Resistance, but she is in the role of the specially trained operative sent in by Intelligence, so we get insights into how the British Intelligence and special operatives worked from that meticulous military Commando research. We also see several of the techniques and tips Lisa provides from her special training, such as familiarising herself with the guards’ routines in order to get around them and how to handle interrogation. And the scene where she beats up that callous Hannah is absolutely priceless! Though Hannah does not get the chance to do anything that’s actually horrible as the Fischer men do, her unfeeling, arrogant remarks and her Nazi devotion make us all yearn for her to get her comeuppance.

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Lisa’s mother Elizabeth is of course the other female protagonist in the story. We really feel for the mother as we have seen so many similar situations in stories of domestic violence and parental abductions. She is faced with an increasing shadow of domestic violence from a husband who is turning bad, and then it’s compounded by the threat of being dragged off to a grim life under the jackboot of Nazi Germany. She attempts a desperate flight from that life and tries to save her children, but it’s heartbreaking to see she is only half successful. She failed to save Kurt because of his childlike naivety in hopping out of the car and asking Dad where they are going. This of course tipped Dad off at once and he threatened to take the kids away to Nazi Germany without her and she would never see them again. Mums and Dads who have lost their children to international custody disputes and parental abductions would really feel for her there and applaud when she at least manages to save her daughter. But we can imagine her heart must have been bleeding at being forced to leave her son behind and imagining what his upbringing will be like in Nazi Germany under his increasingly tyrannical father and without any motherly love. When we see how Kurt turned out because of this, Mum had every right to be concerned and how Lisa had such a lucky escape in not being dragged off to Nazi Germany as well.

Fatherland 1

Kurt Fischer is another first in Commando: he is the very first sympathetic SS Officer to appear in Commando. Up until this point, whenever Commando used stories with sympathetic German WW2 soldiers, it made a strong point of never, ever using sympathetic SS or Gestapo officers. The sympathetic German soldiers always came from the forces and were portrayed as fighting for their country rather than Nazism and disliking the SS and Gestapo for their brutality. Sergeant Oskar Dietrich in Entry Forbidden! is one such case. SS and Gestapo officers in Commando were always just like Hans Fischer: cruel, brutal fanatical Nazis with no mercy or redeeming qualities whatsoever. They are shown to be bad because they have always been bad, such as Max Rudel, also from Entry Forbidden!

But this is not the case with Kurt Fischer. When we first see him as a kid, he looks such a sweet kid (unlike Max Rudel in childhood), and we are really worried about him when he gets left behind with his fanatical Nazi father. Sure enough, he’s the mirror image of his bullying father years later, but that’s because he’s an abused child. After the separation he was dragged off to Nazi Germany where he suffered a miserable, terrifying life under his bullying father and without even his mother to give him love. If Dad had married again, we imagine it would have been someone like Hannah Muller.

Yet Dad had not destroyed all the good in Kurt with his bullying. And we imagine that deep down, long-standing resentment from years of abuse is yearning to break out and take revenge. Both come to the surface when he is confronted with his sister and the fate she will face if Dad arrests her. When Dad shows utter lack of mercy towards his daughter, it turns out to be the last straw for Kurt. For all the bullying Kurt did earlier, we really cheer for him when he strikes back at his bully father by shooting him, and he redeems himself.

Even Hans Fischer may be a tad more tragic than SS officers in Commando usually are. Usually they are just simply bad, irredeemable characters like Max Rudel. However, the line “Elizabeth was shocked by the changes in her husband since he became involved in Chancellor Hitler’s party” hints that Hans may have been once a better man. However, becoming a fanatical Nazi destroyed all that. His fanaticism led him to destroy the family he probably once loved very much, and ultimately that same family destroyed him.

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The ending was crafted in a manner that left scope for sequels. So we might see Lisa again in a future Commando. Or we might even see Kurt in the first-ever Commando to use a sympathetic SS officer as the main protagonist. Certainly there have been serious questions raised about the consequences of that night for Kurt, which could be developed further. It’s all very well for Kurt to say he can’t go against his country, but he will find it’s not going to be that simple and he can’t really carry on with the SS the way he did before. The good in him has awakened now, and he will have to work on it if he is to keep his promise to his sister to reunite with her. After all, she’s not going to be very impressed with him if he continues to shove the islanders around or run up a list of war crimes a mile long. Besides, he now has a terrible secret that could have him executed, blackmailed or going on the run if someone finds out, and that worry is going to be a huge shadow over him. And now that Dad’s bullying dominance is gone, Kurt is more of a free man to make his own decisions. We do have to wonder if the SS was Kurt’s choice of career in the first place or if bully Dad forced him into it. It would not be surprising to see a future Commando where Lisa goes to the rescue of her brother. We shall just have to wait and see.


Sandie 4 March 1972

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Desmond Walduck?)
  • Wendy the Witch (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Neil Diamond (artist Bob Gifford)

Norah has to fight hard to win the swimming trial that Mrs Maddox has arranged for her to enter. The committee isn’t very impressed with her at first but as Mrs Maddox points out, she hasn’t had any training and still can battle the odds and win. She is allowed in on trial only, but that is more than enough for starters. Cousin Lorna is mad as fire, of course. And at the end of the episode, Mrs Maddox muses that Norah reminds her of someone… who could it be?

Susie Mann proves to the rest of her form that she was ‘voted’ into position of Form Captain purely due to lies and deception on the part of the authorities. Nevertheless, she takes on the task of Captain, purely because she wants to lead her class into outright rebellion! By the end of the episode, her Head Girl sister is fuming.

Anna sneaks out to see her friend Julia, who has had to listen to her father spout a lot of nonsense about how the kids from Madeley Buildings are a lot of hooligans. But it’s not the father that the two girls need to worry about – it’s estate manager Ramage who is putting every barrier in their way. Anna manages to get over the wall to meet up with Julia and give her a birthday present, and  Mr Crossley even lets them have their birthday picnic, but Ramage makes up a story about Anna having stolen some pears and gets her thrown out in disgrace.

Dale gets back late to her dorm room and finds that her friend Emily has disappeared in the way that other people have been doing – she has been replaced by a cold-eyed girl who says she is ‘the new girl’. A likely story! Miss Voor is still setting tests for all the girls and this time they have to solve a difficult riddle. Dale solves it, but only to hide the prize so that no one else can find it, because she is worried about the whole set-up. Soon there is another challenge when Dale and her other friend Daphne sneak into Miss Voor’s office – they find a box with a big initial V on it. Does it hold the answer to the mystery?

The two girls in “Our Big BIG Secret” continue to hide the fact they have become owners of a very large dog, and hillbilly Lucy continues to astound polite society – this time with her pet skunk. But the skunk did save Locksley Hall from burglars at  least!

Wee Sue saves the hockey game, and even fixes the engine on the bus on the way back from the game. Too clever for her own good, as her friend Kay says? Not half!

Elaine is saved from being run down by Miss Pettifor, the headmistress at the school she was at before her father’s ship went down. The worse discovery that Elaine makes, though, is that it is her Uncle Ned who is behind the attempts to kill her! Along with her friend Mary, Elaine tries to enlist the help of her old acquaintance Patricia Millard, but to no avail – and indeed her old friend tells her to her face that Elaine “has been dead these past three weeks!”.

We have two Mike Brown strips in Sandie at this time! “Wendy the Witch” is also on the go. To defeat a bully, she zaps a baby with a spell: “Oh, baby with the lolly – be big, but not jolly!” and Big Bully Bab gets her just desserts at the hands of said enlarged tot!

Sandra and her sister are increasingly on the outs. Joan wants to get her strength back to do her own dancing again, but they both want to keep their grandmother happy and she thinks that it is Joan doing the super dancing. Joan is indeed dancing, or at least trying to recover her strength – but as the nurse warns, if she tries to rush things she may lose all chance of ever being able to dance again.

Trudy finds out that Mr Macready isn’t dead or dying after all, but is worrying so much about her that she was called urgently to his bedside. When she gets back to the scrapyard she finds two of her rivals poking around the rickety ruins – so rickety that it promptly collapses on them. They need to be rescued – partly due to Silver pawing at the rubble and attracting the attention of helpers. Now Trudy needs to find a place to stable Silver overnight, to no avail – and when she returns to the hospital she finds that Mr Macready has disappeared!

Site announcement – small reorganization

As I have been lucky enough to get a run of 69 issues of Sandie, and am now posting about each issue in consecutive order, it seemed sensible to tweak some of the elements of the blog to reflect the wider range of titles included.

The page that previously was just called ‘Issues’, which listed all the issues of Jinty which we’d posted about, is now called Indices of issues and annuals. The aim is to mention the key titles covered on this blog, with a link to the separate page where the index of each title is held.

Below this in the menu there are currently links to the following pages:

  • Index of Jinty issues and annuals (the same information as before, just re-titled)
  • Index of Sandie issues (links to my recent posts and a few earlier posts on Sandie)
  • Index of other titles (the same information as before but with the Sandie links moved onto that index)

I’ve also updated the posts on the first three Sandie issues to list a couple of additonal artist credits. I checked on Catawiki and I see that Sleuth on that site has credited “Wee Sue” to the artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique, and “Bonnie’s Butler” to artist Julio Bosch. She also credited “Little Lady Nobody” to Desmond Walduck (artist on “Slaves of War Orphan Farm”) but I feel like the art is a better match to Roy Newby, per my original credit. Anyone have an opinion on this? I will post some scans later on to help with this identification, if need be. Edited to add: I now think this is not a match with Roy Newby’s work and am taking back this identification.

Sandie 26 February 1972

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Desmond Walduck?)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Cat Stevens (artist Bob Gifford)

Norah has a go at swimming in the local lake, which she’s not supposed to do – she attracts attention from various people, but luckily also from Mrs Maddox, who is not angry but rather offers her a visit to her house so that she can clean up and even have a try at her swimming pool instead… The quality of Norah’s swimming interests Mrs Maddox greatly and she asks Norah to the local swimming club for a trial. Cousin Lorna is far from pleased!

Susie Mann is wreaking havoc of all sorts. The other schoolgirls in her class are not totally sure what to make of her. She gets one of her classmates released from the cooler where she was unjustly locked up, but the headmistress conspires to get Susie elected as new Form Captain despite all her protestations. The Head is trying to make sure that power will go to Susie’s head – she doesn’t know who she’s dealing with, I think.

Anna finds the forbidden friend – it is Julia, the daughter of her horrible landlord, Mr Crossley. Mind you, the landlord is not half as mean as the estate manager, who stalks the grounds of Crossley House with a big Alsatian. Julia invites Anna to a birthday tea the next day, but Ramage wants to keep out anyone who has any connection with the Madeley Buildings where Anna lives.He’s going to make sure no one can get over the wall…

The creepy Miss Voor has got a bunch of cold-eyed clones to staff the school alongside her. They are working as teacher’s aids in each class, but they very much have their own agenda. For some reason they want to find the ‘best’ at everything – the tallest girl in class, the best at knitting, and so on. But there is more going on – at night, Dale finds that her room-mate Emily has been replaced by one of Miss Voor’s creepy clones!

Poppy and Daisy Mason find a nearby old lady who will happily look after their huge dog for them, but he is too clever for the old lady and soon escapes. If Poppy and Daisy’s parents find out about Pedro, he’ll be for it!

Hillbilly Lucy is sent to a snobbish school, but no one there is kind and sympathetic. Guardian Lady Primrose takes the snobs down a peg or two.

Wee Sue is worried about her French – she has learned a lot with Kay teaching her (even though they were playing hockey at the time!) but there are still big gaps in her knowledge. Sue is caught out of bounds while trying to study at night, and the hockey captain stops her from playing in the big hockey game the next day – she substitutes pal Kay instead. Sue knows this is not a good idea, as Kay isn’t a great player and the captain is just trying to show her up, but Kay takes Sue’s comments the wrong way and thinks that Sue has turned against her.

Little Lady Nobody is pushed down the well, but she clings onto the rope and avoids falling all the way into the well. Fellow servant Mary saves her but Elaine immediately betrays her. Mary falls ill as a result but Elaine makes up for her betrayal by being staunchly by MAry’s side during her illness. The other servants are won over, too – at least somewhat.

Sandra continues to dance on her sister’s behalf, but now her sister is jealous of the fact that all the kudos is going to her sister, and not to her. But they are both doing this just for their grandmother – it’s not a comfortable deception for either of the twins.

Bonnie’s Butler wins out again – Bonnie’s mother goes out for a posh evening do, courtesy of Gregston, rather than the trip to see a horror film that Bonnie’s father had planned.

Trudy rescues Silver from the burning stables but her friend and mentor is struck down with a heart attack. Now she doesn’t know where she can keep the horse; but her immediate concern is overwhelmingly about her friend, Mr MacReady.

Sandie 19 February 1972

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Desmond Walduck?)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Gilbert O’Sullivan (artist Bob Gifford)

There seem to be two copies of Issue 2 in this box I have just received – one nice clean copy as above (though with one coupon cut out, affecting the “Brenda’s Brownies” page but nothing else), and one with a couple of ladybird badges drawn over the cover girl’s collar and, rather disturbingly, on her neck! There is also one of her teeth fetchingly blacked-out. Not a mint copy!

Norah is keen to join the local swimming club, but her no-good cousins are trying to shut her out. They have just told the wealthy president of the swimming club that Norah is the ‘new help’ – but it does mean that the kind words that Mrs Maddox says to Norah are received with true emotion. Of course Norah isn’t going to be able to join the pool so easily – cousin Lorna tears her costume into rags and tells her it costs far too much money for her to join anyway.

The school started and run by the Manns is looking rather more sinister than in the first episode. Susie Mann is trying to stir stuff up and show she isn’t interested in becoming the next Head Girl  or whatever, but her prank gets another girl landed in the cooler instead. And it’s a literal cooler – down in the dungeons, set up like a prison! Susie is having none of it, but how will the powers that be take it?

Anna Martin lives in a block of flats in the East End of London. Her only interest is in bird-watching. Everyone else teases her and destroys things to do with her hobby (a book, a nesting box). It looks like Anna will find a friend who may share her interest – but probably someone related to her nasty landlord, Mr Crossley.

At St Junipers, new headmistress Miss Voor is being very odd. She catches rebel schoolgirl Dale out of doors at night and just makes her climb back up the ivy into her dorm. Next thing she does is to tell the girls that half of them will get no lunch and the other half will get double helpings. ?! Dale organizes a strike to share out the food, or (once Miss Voor prevents them from doing that) at least makes sure that if some have no food, then all will refuse their food in solidarity. But oddest of all – the last shot shows a group of tall, stern women in Miss Voor’s office, all looking very like her, and all with the same cold blank eyes as this weird woman!

The two girls have named their big secret – the dog is called Pedro. He’s not happy at his sleeping accommodation, and ends up getting his way and sleeping in Poppy’s bed, while she has to bunk up with Daisy.

Hillbilly Lucy is the daughter of the new Earl of Locksley (also a hillbilly). His Lordship leaves to go on a round the world cruise, and Lucy is to be looked after by Lady Primrose and turned into a lady – whether she likes it or not! At least it turns out that Lady Primrose is a crack shot, when she stops some intended poaching from taking place. (It’s the nesting season, so even not-particularly-law-abiding Lucy agrees it would be better not to shoot pheasants at this time.)

Wee Sue is preoccupied because she isn’t great at French (they didn’t do it at her old school). She is a scholarship girl so is worried about losing her place if she can’t keep up in lessons, but in fact the headteacher and others seem more interested in her sporting prowess. Luckily friend Kay teaches her French – during the hockey! It works well and Sue’s team wins.

Historical sob-story “Little Lady Nobody” turns sinister quickly. Elaine learns that her second day as a skivvy will be rather worse than her first as she is nearly suffocated when a fire is started while she is up a chimney – and later when she goes to fetch water from the well, she is given a hard push from behind!

Sandra discovers she can only dance well when her sister is nearby, willing her to do so. Neither of the twins want to disappoint their grandmother so they both continue to collude in the deception, even though it means trying to ensure that twin Joan is wheeled to the theatre by their unsuspecting gran. Will it work?

Bonnie’s Butler continues to be a quick-witted helper. This time he makes sure that Bonnie and her school pals triumph with their school task of making jam puffs.

Trudy enters Silver into a showjumping competition, but he’s not been trained to jump and muffs it badly. Scrapmerchant Mr Macready is a helpful mentor, but tragedy strikes as a fire breaks out in the stables where Silver is bedded down for the night.

Sandie 12 February 1972

This is the first issue of Sandie. Through a stroke of fortune, I have just today got my hands on 69 issues of Sandie (and Tammy & Sandie). These were all bought by the mother of a girl whose name is shown on the issues as ‘Diane Lidgett’. The mother in question seems to have been something of a hoarder and the now grown-up girl – herself a mother and indeed a grandmother – recently unearthed them. The family wanted the comics to go to a good home and that’s what has just happened – that is, after they had had a good chance to re-read the stories themselves! If the pressures of work and other life stuff allow, I will post about each issue  in order, as I come to them.

As with the first issues of Jinty, this runs to 40 pages. It’s packed full of stories that are drawn by familiar names, though of course it is hard to know in most cases who wrote them.

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Desmond Walduck?)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – George Best (artist Bob Gifford)

“Norah” looks like it is going to be a a tear-jerker Cinderella story, sharing a lot of similar ground with “Tricia’s Tragedy” in that a talented but poor swimmer needs to brave her way through challenges posed by wrong’uns from her own family as well as the difficulties put in her way by lack of money.

“Little Lady Nobody” is a riches-to-rags saga – in the first episode, snobbish Miss Elaine quickly finds out that her father has died and left only debts, meaning that she has to become a servant in the very same snobbish school that she had previously made lots of enemies in due to her horrible attitude. Only one scullery maid is on her side after her downfall and everyone else is positively out to get her.

Susie Mann is the latest of the Mann family to attend the posh private school that her ancestors started and which all of her family seem to have loved to make waves in. Susie is different, though – I had assumed at first that she might be a lovable klutz type, but by the end of this first episode it looks more like there might be something a bit sinister in how the school works, or at the very least that all her family members have enjoyed being bossy more than being kind and considerate. Whichever it is, Susie will definitely turn everything upside down, by the looks of it.

A one-pager of Brenda’s Brownies gives us some broad comedy – Brenda’s Tarantula Troupe are trying for their Baking Badge but end up needing to have a go at their Hut Building Badge, if they can possibly manage it…

Two sisters win a mystery prize in “Our Big BIG Secret” – a dog! They have been wanting one for ages but it’s the perennial question of where will they keep it, how will they pay for its food – and will their mother ever agree to let them keep it? it’s a fairly well-worn path but Jim Baikie’s art is always a treat and this has little humorous labels dotted here and there, in a way that foreshadows Baikie’s “Fran’ll Fix It!“.

From a mystery prize to a mystery story in “The School of No Escape” – Headmistress Miss Fitch of St Juniper’s has a sudden funny turn and walks out of the school entirely, only to be replaced by newcomer Miss Voor, who immediately announces herself as the new Headmistress. She is clearly a mind-controller and probably the fore-runner of an alien invasion, I shouldn’t wonder, as before the episode is out she has sent the deputy headmistress walking out in a very similar way, all the while asking the schoolgirls questions like “What are the names of the leaders of the principal nations on this planet?”

The new Earl of Locksley and his daughter are country bumpkins from rural America (though the editorial text says they come from Texas while the story intro says they are from Tennessee). Laughs ensue as the local high society mix with the rough and ready hillbillies.

Wee Sue, in her debut, is quite different from the later stories. Here Sue Strong is a small girl full of big surprises – she is clearly capable of taking down a class bully through unexpected sporting prowess, which isn’t something I would really have associated the later Sue stories with.

Bonnie Belthorp finds out that her family have inherited a butler, as per the will of the old lady that Bonnie’s mother used to do the cleaning for! This is a comedy story with a Jeeves-type character who is capable of winning through any situation.

In “Sandra Must Dance”, there are twin sisters who both love ballet, but only one of whom is any good. Duffer Sandra has to stand in for dancer Joan, and this deception bid fair to become permanent when Joan is injured in an accident and it looks like she will never be able to dance again. But Sandra has mysteriously started to feel a strange link with her twin, and this even seems to telepathically enable her to dance – on her paralysed twin’s behalf…

Trudy Parker is a poor girl who loves horses. She has a chance to buy ex-milk cart horse Star, who turns out to be a fantastic jumper – but will she find somewhere to stable him, let alone be able to enter into competitions? Her local rag-and-bone man is on her side, at any rate.

The Editorial page says there will be another great new story starting next week – I must say I can’t really see how they will manage to fit it in! Let’s see what happens…

Operation Nachthexen [2013]

Operation Nachthexen cover

Published: Commando #4599

Artist: (cover and story) Carlos Pino

Writer: Mac MacDonald


In 1940, a dogfight with superior German Me109s goes badly for Pilot Officer Drew Granger and his unit. He is the only survivor, but his left arm is disabled from enemy fire, and the psychological damage over losing his entire unit makes him lose his nerve for flying. So he is deemed unfit to return to active service.

Operation Nachthexen 1

So when Hitler launches Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union, Drew is dispatched there to help the Russians because he has some background in the Russian language. However, Drew is still affected by his shattered nerve, and his command of Russian is not as good as the Allies think. The Russian commissioners are quick to realise this, so they are not impressed with him. Among them is Captain Gleb Revnik, who has a dark secret: he ran during a fight with the Germans. And Major Zubov, who has a knack for hearing tales about lack of will to fight, has men shot for running. Zubov is another commissioner who does not think much of Drew.

Then Drew is further injured during a German air raid on a Russian airfield. While recovering he is visited by a female Soviet fighter pilot, Yana Belinky, who fortunately can speak English, and they strike a friendship. When Drew recovers, he discovers the entire unit consists of women (whom the Germans call Nachthexen [Night Witches]), which he finds strange. He is concerned that their aircraft are nothing but dated PO2s (nicknamed “corn cutters” by the Russians and “sewing machines” by the Germans). All the same, they are still a vital part of the Soviet airforce. The Nachthexen pound the Germans during the night, and have worked their way up to become an effective fighting force against the Germans. Their ageing aircraft have the advantage of flying slow and low, which makes them a difficult target for the faster Me109s; they stall if throttled back too much. Another advantage of the PO2s is that they are invisible on enemy radar because their construct is canvas and wood rather than metal.

Operation Nachthexen 2

Revnik realises that Drew still hasn’t regained his nerve, and his arm, which was reinjured in the airfield attack, is troubling him as well. Drew feels useless and is ashamed to see Yana seems more resilient than he is to losing comrades and getting injured in dogfights. Revnik decides to write to Zubov about it when the time comes. In the meantime, he is pleased that Zubov’s focus on Drew and Yana is diverting him from any potential rumours about his secret.

Meanwhile, Drew begins to suspect Revnik is up to no good. Indeed, Revnik wants to bring Yana down because of her aristocratic family background during the days of the tsars. Zubov also has his doubts about her loyalty.

Then Yana says she is not flying because there is nobody to team up with. Drew volunteers to fly with her on a raid on a German communications post, and he will handle the PO2 machine gun. Drew finds that even going through the instrument panels and controls scares him when he once found them second nature, but there is no backing out. Revnik is delighted at the prospect of getting rid of them both, and suspects will be too.

As the flight unfolds, Drew finds his nerves are doing better than expected; even his disabled arm is. The advantages of the PO2 enable Yana and Drew to reach their target with little trouble, and they soon destroy it despite a strong attack from the Germans. Then they strike serious trouble from a ferocious Me109, and Drew manages to clip it. Later it is revealed that the clipped Me109 crashes on top of Zubov’s vehicle, which kills him.

Operation Nachthexen 3

However, during the dogfight Yana gets shot and the plane develops a fuel leak. Yana manages to land the plane so Drew can fix the leak, but it becomes apparent her condition is extremely serious. It’s up to Drew to get her back for medical treatment. But this means flying a plane he has never flown before and facing up to his nerve difficulties and problematic arm. At least he gets unwitting help with this from approaching German soldiers, who are out for revenge against one of those hated PO2’s. He has to take off fast or get mown down by their vindictive gunfire.

Drew manages to get the plane back to the airfield, though he too had taken a shot. Both he and Yana need extensive medical care, but he has regained his nerve. Revnik acquires a whole new respect for Yana and Drew and is confident they will both return to the skies. He is also relieved his secret is safe due to Zubov’s death.


This Commando holds a special place in the history of girls’ comics because it is the very first Commando to feature a female protagonist. Commando protagonists (and antagonists) have been exclusively male ever since its launch; appearances of any female characters were fleeting and peripheral, such as mothers seeing their sons off to war.

Operation Nachthexen 4

The protagonists in this Commando are atypical for another reason: they become recurring characters. Commando protagonists are generally one-offs, but Drew and Yana return in Witch Hunt (Commando #4616) and Warrior’s Return (Commando #4635), with the same creative team.

Although this Commando is the first one to use a female protagonist, the focus of the story remains firmly on the male protagonist, Drew Granger, and his fight to regain his nerve and resume flying combat. In the meantime, he is the fish out of water at the Russian airfield. His Russian is not good enough, he can’t join the fight because of his shattered nerves, he feels useless and out of sorts, he is a target of personal and political agendas of two commissioners, and he is handicapped by an impaired arm. Drew also feels shame at how Yana is such a contrast to him. While he can’t regain his nerve she always jumps back on the horse after it throws her, never gets the loss of comrades get her down, and can face down injuries with such utter stoicism.

How Drew regains his nerve is well handled. It does not come all at once, which would feel trite. It comes in stages during the flight with Yana, but it takes a real life-or-death situation to really force Drew to face up to his problems – fly the plane and get back to base, regardless of them all – because their lives depend on it.

As the focus of the story is on Drew, we get little feel of Yana’s character. Sure, she is stoic, courageous, quick-witted, resourceful, and has nerves of steel, but that’s about it. She does not get much development, and gets no thought bubbles for us to see how she thinks or show the human side of her. The only glimpse of it is when we get a hint that Yana is more affected by the loss of her comrades than she admits: she responds abruptly to Drew when he tries to sympathise, and apologises later.

Operation Nachthexen 5

Revnik is perhaps more developed than Yana because he gets thought bubbles for us to read, and these help to round out his character. When we learn his terrible secret and the fate he dreads, we may either develop some sympathy for him or we may hope he gets found out and shot because of his plotting against Drew and Yana. However, the respect he eventually gains for both Drew and Yana in the end turns him into a sympathetic and more likeable character. We end up feeling relief that Revnik’s secret is safe, with Drew’s unknowing help.

Unfortunately I do not have the sequels to comment on how the relationship and characters of Drew and Yana developed, or whether Revnik went on to become a good friend to them. Nor can I say whether any romance between Drew and Yana blossoms in the sequels, which is something readers might expect. For their first story there is none.

Latin Translations of Jinty Titles II: A Selection

I have been working on more Latin translations of Jinty serials. In line with Comixminx’s entry on Portuguese translations, I have taken a select few from the list and provide some commentary on them rather than posting a long list as I did before.

  1. Malincha et sceptrum magicum (Malincha and the Magic Sceptre i.e. Sceptre of the Toltecs)

I couldn’t find a Latin word for Toltec, so I came up with “magic sceptre” instead. From there it was an easy matter to use the protagonist’s name to provide alliteration. Perhaps it is not as effective as “Sceptre of the Toltecs”, but it is alliterative. As Comixminx says, girls titles would not be complete without alliteration somewhere.

  1. Citeria cara noster (Our Beloved Clown i.e. The Jinx from St Jonah’s)

This was a tough one to translate. I doubted I could find a Latin word for “jinx” that had the same context as the original title. So I googled for a Latin word for “klutz” but then it was pointed out the word may be not so suitable as it had other more negative meanings. So in the end it was “citeria”, meaning “clown”. It was alliterated with “carus –a –um”, meaning “beloved”, to express that Katie may be a jinx but everyone loves her, including the girls who regularly suffer from her jinxing. It also provided alliteration and a dash of humour that was in keeping with the strip being a humorous one.

  1. Saltandum per ludum (Dancing Through the Game i.e. Life’s a Ball for Nadine)

This was another tough one. I was thinking along the lines of a title that reflected the curious relationship between sport and dancing that ran throughout the story, but I couldn’t figure out how to go about it. Eventually I hit on the idea of something like “dancing around the game”, but as this sounded like Nadine was fooling around with the game, it became “dancing through the game”.

  1. Odium perplexum, tentamenta perplexa (Perplexing Hate, Perplexing Tests i.e. Make-Believe Mandy)

Originally I toyed with a translation that reflected how Mandy used her daydreaming to escape an intolerable home life. But I changed my mind and began to develop a title that commented on the mystery that surrounded both the hatred Mandy gets at home and the tests she undergoes, and the mystery of how and why they were connected. The adjective used for them both would provide the alliteration. “Perplexus –a –um” was chosen because it was recognisable to English speakers. It can also mean “interlaced”, which could also serve as a play on the hatred and the tests being connected.

  1. Plagae ex scarabeo aegyptio (Plagues of the Egyptian Scarab i.e. Creepy Crawley)

A title that used “brooch” was rejected because the Latin word for brooch can also mean “buckle”. Eventually I found there was an actual Latin word for “scarab” and developed the title with that. The noun “plaga –ae”, meaning “strike” or “plague”, was chosen for association with the scarab because it was short, strong and instantly recognisable. It was also reminiscent of the Ten Plagues of Egypt, which tied in with the Egyptian theme and what the scarab does.

  1. Ira ex monili indico (Wrath of the Indian Necklace i.e. Gail’s Indian Necklace)

A title that used “evil” was rejected because the necklace was not downright evil, just angry. So the title began to develop from there, and the Latin words for “wrath” and “Indian” provided alliteration.

  1. Coma aurea, pecten argenteus (Golden Hair, Silver Comb i.e. Combing Her Golden Hair)

Yes, the Latin version of Comixminx’s Portuguese translation. I think it works even better in Latin because the Latin words for “golden” and “silver” both begin with “a”, which gives an alliterative effect.

  1. Haruspex et Siccitas Longa (The Diviner and the Long Drought i.e. Jassy’s Wand of Power)

This started with “siccitas longa” (long drought), but it didn’t sound a very thrilling title. So “haruspex -spicis” (diviner) was added because it would sound like an intriguing word to English speakers and therefore provide more interest. Finally, “siccitas longa” was capitalised because the people in the story would be very likely to use capitalisation for the drought when they look back on it.

Portuguese Translations of Jinty Titles

Following on from Mistyfan’s post where she had a go at translating a number of Jinty story titles into Latin, I am going to do the same for a (smaller) number of titles. Latin is not one of my strengths though, so I will be using a modern language – namely, Brazilian Portuguese. (I was born in Brazil and speak Portuguese fluently, though it’s a long time since I have had to speak it day in and day out, so there are definite rusty patches in my vocabulary.)  won’t be doing as many as Mistyfan managed, but I will be putting a little commentary behind my thought processes so that will bring something different to the proceedings.

I started with “Combing Her Golden Hair“, turning it into “Pente de prata, cabelo de ouro” [literally, silver comb, golden hair]. I thought that it was important to stick to the allusive nature of the story title – it wouldn’t have been appropriate to call it something spoiler-y like “the mermaid’s daughter” or anything. Having said that, there is a song lyric which goes “Qual é o pente que te penteia” which might have possibly worked [literally, what is the comb that combs your hair?], but the song has specific references to Black Brazilian hair types so probably not a great match.

The Human Zoo” is another nicely allusive story title in Jinty. The Portuguese for ‘zoo’ is quite long – jardim zoologico – so instead I turned it into “Somos pessoas, não animais!” [literally, we are people, not animals!]. I wonder if it might have overtones of political or racial repression rather than the animal rights references that the original story had – not that I think the original writer would have been against that sort of extension as such, but it might be a shift in meaning.

It wouldn’t be a representative sample of girls’ story titles if it didn’t have an alliterative title or two somewhere in the mix. “Paula’s Puppets” and “The Disappearing Dolphin” seemed like good ones to try. If you are going to reference a girl’s name then you have to match it to the locality it’s going to be read in – Paula would be fine to use as a Brazilian girl’s name but it wouldn’t alliterate with the word for puppet [marionete] so that had to be changed. I’d initially thought of using the name Maria, which is a very normal name in Brazil, but it seemed a bit too ordinary and so I went with “As marionetes da Mônica”. Another option might perhaps have been “Mônica dos marionetes” [Monica of the puppets] but the first one might be more likely to also mean that other characters in the story are being played for puppets by Paula.

“O boto que desaparece” is a very straightforward translation of the original title – it just means ‘the dolphin which disappears’. I didn’t think that this story really called for something cleverer – it’s a straightforward thriller / action story at its heart. It’s a shame to miss out on the alliteration though – not always going to be possible to transfer everything to the target language, of course! Perhaps someone whose Portuguese was less rusty would make a neater job of it. Having said that, I well remember that the popular film “Airplane” was rendered into “Fasten your seatbelts, the pilot has disappeared!” on its cinema release in Brazil – so it’s not always about a faithful adaptation, to be fair.

On our pages about translations into other languages (the one on Dutch translations is the longest I think) you can see a similar range of translation choices – some are fairly literal / exact translations (Wenna the Witch / Wenna de heks), some are very similar but with choices to match the local market more closely (Kerry in the Clouds / Klaartje in de wolken), some are about as allusive as the original (The Human Zoo / Als beesten in een kooi [Like Animals in a Cage]; or another great example is Come into My Parlour (1977-78): Kom maar in mijn web [Just Come into My Web]).

I find the cases where the translator has gone in quite a different direction to be almost more intriguing – did they think the original title wasn’t exciting enough? was there a risk of giving away plot twists ahead of time? – but then it was also in keeping with some of the other off-piste titles seen in some of the girls’ comics publishing. Of this last group, I think my top pick might be the choice to turn “Gail’s Indian Necklace” into the name of the Indian deity on the necklace, Anak-Har-Li – not a very obvious choice, and one which makes the rather run-of-the-mill original title into something rather more unexpected I think.

Latin Translations of Jinty Titles

Recently I bought a book called A Smattering of Latin. Among its assorted goodies are Latin translations of the titles of popular books and movies. This had me thinking: what would the titles of some of our Jinty stories look like if they were translated into Latin?

I am not the most fluent of Latinists, but I decided to have a go all the same. My old school Latin and assorted Latin tools I have acquired, including ones on the Internet, were all utilised for the job. The following results are listed below. In some cases I had to take a few liberties and use my imagination as titles like “Sue’s Daily Dozen” would not translate directly into Latin. In other cases I took some liberties for more dramatic effect, such as the Latin translation of “Prisoners of Paradise Island”.

Please feel free to offer any corrections. I have done my best to be accurate, but I am aware there could still be errors in the translations somewhere. Also please feel free to offer alternative translations of the titles, and translations of other Jinty titles that are not listed here.

  • Puella subridens contra domum miseriae (Smiling girl versus the house of misery i.e. Merry at Misery House)
  • Gloria furata (The stolen glory i.e. Gwen’s Stolen Glory)
  • Duae vitae Jacquelinae (Jackie’s Two Lives)
  • Caeca fide (Blind Faith)
  •  Dora, sicut servus canem (Dora, like a slave dog i.e. Dora Dogsbody)
  •  Pupuli Paulae (Paula’s Puppets)
  •  Filia Draculae (Dracula’s Daughter)
  • Tragoedia Triciae (Tricia’s Tragedy)
  •  Nota maleficae! (Mark of the Witch!)
  •  Servus speculi (Slave of the Mirror)
  •  Mima cum nubibus (actress in the clouds i.e. Kerry in the Clouds)
  •  Servi candelae (Slaves of the Candle)
  •  Captivi in therotrophio (Prisoners in the zoo i.e. The Human Zoo)
  •  Cursus inter mundos novos (Course between Strange Worlds i.e. Worlds Apart)
  •  Puella, quae nunquam nasci (The Girl Who Had Been Never Born i.e. The Girl Who Never Was)
  •  Lisa musicam habebit (Lisa Will Have Music i.e. She Shall Have Music)
  •  Mima, quae non amatur (The Actress Who Is Not Loved i.e. No Cheers for Cherry)
  •  Alicia in terra nova (Alice in a Strange Land)
  • Malefica nomine Wennam (A Witch Called Wenna i.e. Wenna the Witch)
  •  Mundus sine lacrimis (World without Tears i.e. Land of No Tears)
  •  Discipula nomine Pamelam (A Pupil Named Pamela i.e. Pam of Pond Hill)
  •  Arca Pandorae (Pandora’s Box)
  • Serves Cygni (Slave of the Swan)
  •  Feriae in latibulum (Holiday in Hiding i.e. Holiday Hideaway)
  •  Filius regis ex zodiaco (The Zodiac Prince)
  •  Sicut muscam in telo (Like a Fly in a Web i.e. Come into My Parlour)
  •  Hortus vetitus (The Forbidden Garden)
  •  Freda et Fortuna (Freda and Fortune i.e. Freda’s Fortune)
  •  Sicut felem et murem (Like Cat and Mouse i.e. The Kat and Mouse Game)
  •  Semper ludibrium (Always a Laughing-stock i.e. Tears of a Clown)
  •  Relinquetur et oblita (Marooned and Forgotten i.e. The Girl the World Forgot)
  •  Undae metu (Waves of Fear)
  • Stefa amare recusat (Stefa Refuses to Love i.e. Stefa’s Heart of Stone)
  •  Abies spem dat (The Fir Tree Gives Hope i.e. Song of the Fir Tree)
  •  Defensor ex avium (The Defender of Birds i.e. The Goose Girl)
  •  Aves oppugnant! (The Birds are Attacking! i.e. The Birds)
  •  Mater superba contra canem vulgarem (The Arrogant Mother versus the Common Dog i.e. The Four-Footed Friends)
  •  Cur mater natationem vetat? (Why Does Mum Ban Swimming? i.e. Minnow)
  •  Equus ex mari (Horse from the Sea)
  •  Bellum sororum! (Battle of the Sisters! i.e. Sisters at War!)
  •  Praedictum de aqua caeruleo (The Prophecy about Blue Water i.e. Cursed to be a Coward!)
  •  Terror ex arvis viridis (Terror of the Green Fields i.e. The Bow Street Runner)
  •  Ovis nigra (The Black Sheep i.e. Black Sheep of the Bartons)
  •  Canem alium amare non possum (I Cannot Love Another Dog i.e. My Heart Belongs to Buttons)
  •  Maxima inundationes (The Largest Floods i.e. Fran of the Floods)
  •  Instrumenta ex malefica bona (The Tools from the Good Witch i.e. Sue’s Daily Dozen)
  •  Captivi in paradiso falso (The Prisoners in the False Paradise i.e. Prisoners of Paradise Island)
  •  Freda, amicus falsus (Freda, False Friend)
  •  Angelus custos acer (The Zealous Guardian Angel i.e. Her Guardian Angel)