Monthly Archives: December 2017

Jim Baikie RIP – sad news

It was very sad to hear the news today that Jim Baikie has died, aged 77. It seems that he had been in declining health for a while – I had asked around previously to see if there was a chance of interviewing him for this blog but was given indications that this would not be very likely.

The page on this blog about him outlines his contribution to Jinty in particular, but since the time that that post was written, we have widened the scope of this blog to cover earlier titles such as Sandie (where he drew humour story “Our Big BIG Secret”) and June & School Friend (where he drew “Gymnast Jinty”). He was truly an all-rounder in girls’ comics. In tribute, below you can find some pages of his art brought together.

Jim Baikie illustrated the first published “Gypsy Rose” story
Fran the Fixer (with false beard) vs Sheikh Abbis. Jinty 21 October 1978.

 

 

Fran the Fixer (with false beard) vs Sheikh Abbis. Jinty 21 October 1978.

 

“Gymnast Jinty”, from June and School Friend 4 September 1971
click thru
The Forbidden Garden fave panel
The first real flowers the townsfolk have ever seen. From “The Forbidden Garden”, final episode, 28 July 1979.
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Girls’ Crystal Annual 1967

Girls Crystal annual 1967

Before Jinty, Tammy or even Bunty, there was the Girls’ Crystal (originally called The Crystal for the first nine issues). The Girls’ Crystal began on 28 October 1935 and was published by the Amalgamated Press and later Fleetway. It was published as a story paper but was reworked as a comic on 21 March 1953, and so it continued until 18 May 1963, when it merged with School Friend.

Here I present the only Girls’ Crystal annual I currently have as the cover ties in with the Christmas season. The Girls’ Crystal annuals started in 1939 and lasted into the late 1970s. Some of the stories were reprints from the Girls’ Crystal, which I suspect was the case with “Expelled!” and “Pepita Roams the Road”.

More information on the Girl’s Crystal and its annuals can be found here.

http://www.friardale.co.uk/Girls%20Crystal%20Annual/Girls%20Crystal%20Annual.htm

http://www.friardale.co.uk/Girls%20Crystal/Girls%20Crystal.htm

http://ukcomics.wikia.com/wiki/Girls%27_Crystal

Contents

Picture Stories

  • Not Like Lassie
  • Pepita Roams the Road (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Caught in the Act!
  • Jimmy in a Jam
  • Expelled!
  • When Fame Came to Fay

Text Stories

  • The Christmas Present (artist Dudley Wynne)
  • Mam’selle X Finds Danger at Midnight
  • Lady Jane
  • A Feather in Gillian’s Cap (artist Terry Aspin?)
  • The Witch on the Rock (Lorelei legend)
  • Tabu Island
  • The Silly Princess (based on The Swineherd from Hans Christian Anderson)
  • The Girl in the Moon (Goddess Diana legends)
  • Coconut Takes Over
  • The Last Empress of China (artists Sep & Scott)

Features

  • Party Magic
  • Sleep Sweetly
  • Schoolgirls in Australia
  • Just Jo (cartoon)
  • At Home in an Icy World
  • Sports and Pastimes Crossword
  • Tea in the Highlands
  • Picture Quiz
  • Butterflies for Your Party
  • Popsy
  • Silkworm Wonder
  • “Prickles” in the Garden (writer Melville Nicholas)

In its heyday, a major attraction of the Girls Crystal annual was the Noel Raymond series, written by Ronald Fleming under the pseudonym of Peter Langley. At the time it was almost unheard of for a male writer to write under a pseudonym in the girls’ papers. The Noel Raymond series was also unusual for using a male lead in a paper where the leads were exclusively female. But this annual appeared in 1967, 14 years after Girls’ Crystal disappeared into School Friend, so it is likely the annual was falling on reprints. “Expelled!” looks like a reprint from Girls’ Crystal. I could be wrong, but it looks like the story has been retitled.

The annual is a very good read and still bears up pretty well. It has 159 pages, so there is plenty of reading, and gives scope for reprints of two serials. “Pepita on the Road” is an early Robert MacGillivray. Pepita is an Italian girl who runs a puppet show. Then a volcanic eruption devastates the village and Pepita answers the call for funds to rebuild it by hitting the road to help raise money with her puppets. In “Expelled!”, Pauline Kane is wrongly expelled (as you might have guessed) and is determined to clear her name. Her determination takes her to the lengths of shacking up in a shabby backstreet boarding house instead of going home while trying to work out who framed her. Pauline gets a horrible shock when the trail leads to her own sports teacher, who even resorts to kidnapping her once Pauline rumbles her. And there seems to be a link between the teacher’s animosity and Pauline’s father, who is a famous lawyer. Pauline tells her story in her own words; unfortunately her dialogue comes across as formal and old fashioned when read today. All the same, “Expelled!” is one of my favourite stories in this annual. If anyone can provide information on when Pauline’s story originally appeared and what the original title was, if any, I will be pleased to hear it.

There are shorter picture stories as well. In “Caught in the Act!”, it is a delight to see two female magicians as the leads, who perform a popular disappearing act. They are forced to reveal the secret to the reader after partly using it to foil a robbery, but don’t worry ladies, I won’t repeat it here! “Jimmy in a Jam” is about a little brother who likes to help, but he always ends up as the one needing help. However, the jam he gets into is not due to klutiziness, but to a silly woman who is not looking after her dogs correctly, so Jimmy and the ex-gardener have to resort to drastic measures to ensure one of the dogs gets proper vet care. And it wouldn’t be complete without a ballet story, which we get with “When Fame Came to Fay”. Fay gets her chance of fame in the ballet show after the lead walks out. But when Fay learns the show needs the original lead if it is to really succeed, she has to choose between the show and her own opportunity.

Of course there are text stories too. Among them: a Mam’selle X story, a Christmas story for the Christmas season when it was published, and a castaway story with a mystery attached. One of the more striking text stories is “The Last Empress”, which tells us how a Chinese girl named Orchid was chosen to be one of Emperor’s wives. To be chosen was her dearest wish, but little did Orchid know that from there she would ultimately rise to become Empress Tzu Hsi, the last empress of China, and become even more powerful than the Emperor himself. The feature “Silkworm Wonder”, on Chinese silkmaking, ties in with the Chinese theme of this story.

Legends and fairy tales also make their way in here. There is no happily ever after for “The Silly Princess”, a retelling of “The Swineherd”, when her handsome prince decides she is not fit to marry him after she arrogantly rejects his gifts because they are natural but falls over him when he disguises himself as a swineherd and offers her a trinket. “The Girl in the Moon” tells us how anyone Diana fell in love with was doomed to misfortune because of her vow of chastity leads to difficult choices between her principles and her feelings. And the “Witch on the Rock” is not a witch but the legendary siren of the Rhine, Lorelei.

 

Jinty Titles in Latin Part 3

Here is my third volume of Jinty titles translated into Latin, with some brief commentary.

  1. In loco Mariae (In Place of Mary i.e. I’ll Make up for Mary)

A simple matter of taking the phrase in loco parentis [in place of parent] and adapting it to what Ann is trying to do – take the place of Mary.

  1. Qui est mater Rosae? (Who is Rose’s Mother? i.e. Wild Rose)

At first I thought of “Who is the woman with the moon scar?”, but it was too wordy. I settled on a much simpler title that summed up the mystery of the story and the question Rose is trying to answer.

  1. Hoc robotum lacrimare potest (This Robot Can Cry i.e. The Robot Who Cried)

Similar to the English title, but it is more reflective of how this particular robot was capable of human emotion.

  1. Effugium ex exilio (Escape from Banishment i.e. Bound for Botany Bay)

A working translation for another title gave me the idea of starting with a title that had the Latin for “escape” in it. The end result had alliteration all the way through the title.

  1. Petrus curandus est! (Peter Must Be Cured! i.e. For Peter’s Sake!)

The grammar in Cato’s famous tagline, Carthago delenda est [Carthage must be destroyed] was the inspiration for this one.

  1. Pascendum appetitum aeternum (Feeding the eternal appetite i.e. Food for Fagin)

Straight off I decided not to use the name of the dog in the title, and I never could stand those Oliver Twist references in the story anyway (would a mum seriously name her daughter Olivia Twist?). Instead, I worked on a title that commented on the increasingly difficult task of trying to keep up with that mountainous appetite of Fagin’s on the family’s limited income.

  1. Daemonium, quod intro est (The Demon that is Within i.e. The Mystery of Martine)

I decided against a title that used “Martine”. Instead, I went for translating the name of the play in the story “The Demon Within”, as its title summed up what was going on.

  1. Neglecti et superbi sumus (We are Neglected but Proud i.e. A Boy Like Bobby)

Two boys who were neglected and living in a squalid flat. But they still had their pride, which made it difficult for our heroine to reach out to them. So this was the basis for the Latin translation. Originally I thought of “Two neglected boys”, but that did not sound very interesting. I decided that a title that reflected their pride showing through their neglect made it more interesting. The endings of the adjectives also gave it alliteration.

Misty Vol. 2: The Sentinels & End of the Line [2017]

Misty Volume 2

Contents

  • The Sentinels (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Malcolm Shaw)
  • End of the Line (artist John Richardson, writer Malcolm Shaw)
  • Your Face is Your Fortune (feature)
  • Brief Biography of Creative Teams

In 2016 Rebellion brought us the first of their Misty reprint volumes. It was generally well received although there were a few quibbles. Of course this could only mean the first volume left scope for even better volumes to follow.

The second volume certainly delivers on that front, right from the front cover. Rebellion have definitely put far more thought and design into the cover than they did for the first volume. The cover really conveys the spookiness of Misty with The Sentinels silhouetted against the night sky and Misty with her trademark, the bats flying across the full moon. The return of the original logo complements the urban sprawl that the Sentinels hint at.  Having the problem Sentinel itself in full colour further enhances the creepiness of the cover because we can see just how rundown and mouldy it looks.

Reprint quality is an improvement on the first volume. The powerful black-and-white inking on glossy paper rather than the old newsprint of the original really intensifies many scenes, such as the infamous Gestapo torture cell scene in The Sentinels. On the other hand, of the finer details of white outlines against black fill do look a bit lost and hard to distinguish because of the intensity of the black inking.

The reprint of The Sentinels was the drawing card for this volume, so it is little wonder that it was used for the cover. It feels like the other reprint, End of the Line, hardly gets a look-in, which seems a bit sad. But then, The Sentinels has always been one of Misty’s serials that sticks with people, while End of the Line is less remembered.

It is not surprising that The Sentinels is one of Misty’s most popular and well-remembered stories considering the topic it tackled was extremely daring and controversial for girls’ comic: what if Hitler had won World War II? To this day, The Sentinels is the only serial in girls’ comics to use that theme. Further adding to its publicity is the recent follow-up in the Scream & Misty Halloween Special, Return of the Sentinels. However, readers are strongly advised to read The Sentinels first or at least be familiar with it before reading the sequel. Otherwise they will be just as confused as the heroine at what she encounters when she ventures into the Sentinel.

In End of the Line we go from a creepy apartment block with an entrance into a nightmare world to a creepy railway line that has something similar, but in a different manner. Unlike the Sentinel, there is genuine evil at work out to take people away, plus there are glimpses of what happens to them once they are snatched – which are of course not pleasant to see.

End of the Line is one of Misty’s more underrated serials, but hopefully its reprint alongside The Sentinels will give it more attention. It has the distinction of being the only serial in girls’ comics (at least, the only one I have seen) to be drawn by John Richardson. Richardson was more often seen drawing complete stories, the Tammy Cover Girls from Tammy, and plenty of Wee Sue.

It is annoying that Richardson only got a couple of lines’ worth in the biographical section of the volume. Surely there must be far more information available on him somewhere?

This volume could be regarded as a tribute to Malcolm Shaw, as he wrote both these serials. As we read the biographies at the end of the volume, it is sad to read that his life and career were cut short just the day before his 38th birthday.

Towards the end is a reprint of “Your Face is Your Fortune”, which is a compilation of what various types of facial features (eye colour, face shape etc) say about your personality. It would have been all right for the original readership of 8+ year-olds, but might come across as condescending for adult people who are more likely to be reading the volume. How about a reprint or two of Misty’s text stories to break up the flow of the picture stories instead? It would be more to the point, and there are plenty of well-remembered classic Misty text stories, such as “The Doorway to Evil!” and “The Little White Dot”, that could be dusted off and given a whole new lease of life in the reprint volumes.

On the whole, Misty Volume 2 delivers on being a proud step up in the Misty reprint series. It definitely makes us even more excited about Misty Volume 3 and what it will bring us.

Misty Vol. 2 Featuring: The Sentinels & End of the Line. Rebellion Publishing 2017. ISBN 978-1-78108-600-1