Princess II, Issue 1, 24 September 1983

Princess 1 cover

Contents

  • Ring of Feathers (artist Santiago Hernandez) – first episode
  • Mr Evans the Talking Rabbit! (photo story) – first episode
  • Their Darling Daughter (artist Bert Hill) – first episode
  • Miranda’s Magic Dragon (artist Carlos Freixas) – first episode
  • Stairway to the Stars! (photo story) – first episode
  • The Incredible Shrinking Girl! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones) – first episode
  • The Princess Diana Story (part one) – feature
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins) – first appearance
  • Princess Diana pinup (feature)

We start the Jinty blog entries for 2018 with the first issue of Princess, which I was fortunate to find while on holiday. No, not the Princess that later became Princess Tina. This is the start of the second Princess series, which used Princess Diana pictures and life story to sell the comic – sadly, not enough, because it merged into Tammy after 28 issues.

Although Tammy was the title Princess II merged into, she started off as calling herself a sister comic to Girl II, IPC’s photo story comic. Indeed, Princess II was the same type of comic as Girl II, including the same newsprint and page size. She had her own photo stories, though she only ran two at a time, so there was more room for picture stories. There were also more colour pages, which must have made her more attractive to buy. One photo story was in full colour while the other was black-and-white, while the photo stories in Girl were all black and white. Later in her run Princess II switched to the same newsprint and style as Tammy and dropped the photo stories altogether. This must have been why Princess II merged with Tammy instead of her sister comic.

In fact, the letters page of Princess II used letters from Girl as she had not received any of her own yet. The winning letter was the one that made sulky old Grovel grin. Readers must have wondered who Grovel was as they did not see his strip, the resident cartoon strip “Sadie in Waiting”, until the last page. Grovel is the villainous (but humorously so) butler of the piece. Grovel is alway sucking up to his employer, Princess Bee (hence his name), and is a bully and a schemer into the bargain, but Sadie the maid was always on the alert to his game. Princess Bee doesn’t think much of his grovelling either, so we have to wonder how on earth he holds onto his job. I wonder if this cartoon drew inspiration from Molly Mills in Tammy.

The first story, which starts off on the cover, is “Ring of Feathers”. Cheryl and her mother move to Scotland to live with Uncle John. He soon makes it clear to them that he’s a mean type, and we’re soon getting hints that he is criminal as well. Meanwhile, birds have been hanging around Cheryl in an odd manner ever since she was given a ring of feathers as a parting gift.

The first photo story, “Mr Evans the Talking Rabbit!”, is the one that appears in colour, and unlike most photo stories it has been remembered. Mr Andrews has lost heart as a kids’ entertainer ever since his wife died, which is not bringing in money for the rent and they’re on the verge of being evicted. While out on an entertainment job, daughter Jenny is very surprised to encounter a caged rabbit that can talk, and it doesn’t appear to be her father’s ventriloquism. But we don’t find out what’s going on until next week.

In “Their Darling Daughter”, Lord and Lady Towne foster Sylvie, a girl in a children’s home, while still grieving for their daughter Rachel. There’s some mystery as to how they actually came across Sylvie and why they fostered her, but there’s one person who is determined to get rid of her. No, it isn’t a spiteful stepsister or cousin, which is usually the case. It’s Mrs Crooks the housekeeper, who worshipped Rachel and doesn’t want anyone taking her place. Unlike most of these types of schemers, Mrs Crooks does not keep her campaign secret from her unsuspecting victim. She tells Sylvie straight off that she wants her out, and why. This story is also unusual for using Bert Hill, an artist who was seen frequently at DCT, but not at IPC.

“Miranda’s Magic Dragon” is not a real dragon. It’s a magic dragon pendant that Merlin bequeathes to his granddaughter Miranda before he dies. Unfortunately Miranda has not got the hang of its magic yet, and her first disaster is to be transported from the days of Camelot into the year 1983. Talk about a fish out of water! Meanwhile, Merlin’s enemy Mordac is after the pendant, and we are getting hints that he is about to make his presence felt in 1983. Gee, what’s he going to make of that time period? Miranda has almost been hit by cars as well as culture and time shock.

Oddly for a girls’ comic’s first lineup, there is no ballet story. Still, we get plenty of dancing in the second photo story, “Stairway to the Stars!”, which is the black-and-white photo story. It is set in a stage school and has a soap opera feel to it. So we get a school story into the bargain.

Clare Humphreys is recruited to test a range of products. She feels it is unhealthy because they are so full of chemicals, but she does not realise how right she is until they start making her shrink.

Towards the end we start seeing Princess Diana herself. It’s part one of her life story, and on the back cover we get the first Princess Diana pinup.

 

17 thoughts on “Princess II, Issue 1, 24 September 1983

  1. My sister read this although not for too long; it wasn’t AROUND for too long but she wasn’t a reader at the death. From the few peeks I sneaked at it I remember finding Mr Evans the Talking Rabbit silly. Having looked it again in adulthood, it doesn’t remotely compare to late-stage Tammy. Dragons and shrinking kids? Pshaw! Yes, I know all of these concepts had appeared in other comics within other contexts – e.g. the sci-fi context of Judge Dredd shrinking during the 1980 Judge Child mission – but it doesn’t seem to have been what girls would have gravitated towards during this era. Not that I was one…

    1. As Princess progressed, there were warning signs she would not have staying power, despite the Princess Diana presence. Many of her stories had short runs, none were long running, and some of them were on the silly side. But the most damning sign of all was the switch to the cheaper Tammy newsprint with #19, dropping the photo stories, and fallback on reprints from Tammy and Jinty.

      1. Hi I have just found 1- 26 and oddly no number 9 of this comic and can’t find any information about price or collectability except your site would appreciate some help if you can, thanks

  2. After having completed my collection of Princess, I started to read them from issue 1 onwards. Yesterday I finished issue 26, so only two more to go. Although some of the stories are quite silly (‘The incredible shrinking girl’, ‘Atchoo’), I like the concept of how Princess started: serials that lasted for about 6 episodes. So no stories that dragged on and on like in some of the other girl’s comics. When a serial needs to last long because the story is long, that’s okay. But so often populair serials just lasted too long, with filler episodes or added story lines that didn’t do anything to the development of the story.

    In hindsight we can see the merger with Tammy coming: to prepapre for the merger, the look changed to be more like Tammy’s. The format changed to newsprint and the number of pages went up from 24 to 32, all just like Tammy. The same was done when Penny was going to be merged with Jinty.
    To fill these extra pages in Princess , some stories from Jinty and Tammy were reprinted.

    I wonder if the comics that had numbers instead of dates were not created to be merged in the first place, to create extra readership for an already existing comic. With a number it was easier to keep track when it was about time to cancel a comic (Pixie, Lindy, Princess, Penny). Jinty had numbers for the first year, possibly with the intention to merge her with Tammy in 1975, but when Jinty proved to be too good a seller and the numbers had already gotten to 50, it was perhaps decided not to cancel her, and thus the issues were no longer numbered.

    When you look at the later issues of Tammy and the availabilty nowadays, it seems these are not more difficult to find than Tammys from previous years. So Tammy must still have sold well. My guess for the planned merger with Girl was, that the newsprint comics were disappearing, and instead of giving Tammy a new look, it was decided that this time is was her turn to be gobbled up by another comic.

    Just some thoughts.

    1. Your thoughts are very interesting. Titles with numbered issues were intended to be merged? I always wondered why Jinty started off with numbering but then dropped it. It was pretty unusual.

      I also noticed the Princess stories had shorter spans, lasting 6 episodes or so, which I thought was unusual.

      You’ve also got me thinking that if Tammy had properly merged with Girl, she would definitely have not lasted long. It was intended as a very fast hatch, match and dispatch, probably even faster than the Princess merger before it.

      1. I also think there would not have been many traces of Tammy in Girl, had there been a proper merger. All the girls’ comics that have merged through the years were more or less the same: almost all of the pages were filled with serials, there was a letter page and sometimes some editorial pages. So when two merged, you could almost say that the main difference was the name of the comic the readers had to buy the week after a merger.
        Girl was a completely different comic, with two art serials and a few photo serials. The rest was filled with editorial stuff, pop stars, etc.. So in fact Girl had no ‘room’ for anything from Tammy, without making the comic look very different from previous issues.
        I believe the issues of a comic were prepared about two months in advance. So perhaps the issue of Girl with just the Tammy logo on the front looked exactly as the first real merger issue would have looked like otherwise: just a logo, no content.

        1. I don’t think the planned Girl & Tammy merger would have been much better than what appeared in Girl either. The two comics were not made for merging with each other and the merger would have been the worst ever at IPC. At least all the stories in Tammy would have finished and we would know their endings.

  3. I think the merger between Pixie and June was also rather bad. It would have been nice if ‘The happy Days’ would have survived the merger, instead of their stories ending with the last issue of Pixie. The serial that continued after the merger was ‘Melody for Mimi’, which was a typical June story, and a bit out of place in Pixie where the first three instalments were published. The only real Pixie element that survived the merger with June was ‘Mini Ha-Ha’, which is of course a rather silly cartoon.

    It is unforgivable that Tammy was axed like it was, with no repect at all for the readers, leaving all the serials unfinished. Would this have happened now, readers might have united through the internet, demanding to know the end of the stories. A web published version of the final instalments would have done, athough a final, printed edition would have been preferred, of course. Just as long as we could read the end of each serial. The only way we could ever know the end of the unfinished serials now, would be if the original artwork turned up somewhere. But I think there is not much hope for that, after all these years.

    1. The Tammy team should have done something, yes. If they couldn’t resume where they left off, a farewell Tammy special with the endings and recaps of the stories would have been okay. Or sod the merger – just carry on with Tammy and have her say goodbye with the final issue. Someone must have written in, demanding to know what happened to Cora, Pam, Bella and the others. With Scream, similarly disrupted, they made a better effort to finish some things.

    2. Pixie was for a younger readership than June, and you’re right – they did not make the right choices from Pixie in June merger. Mini Ha-Ha would not exactly be PC now either.

      Penny was also for a younger readership, but they picked the right ones from Penny in the Jinty merger: Tansy and Snoopa. They could easily be absorbed by an older readership.

    3. Maybe not. But you never know what might come with reprint and research volumes on Tammy and other girls’ comics. Or Dutch translations. It might be possible that some of these unfinished stories turned up in translation. And there is always Rebellion.

      1. I can say with 100% certainty that none of the unfinished serials from Tammy had Dutch translations, because I have a complete collection of Dutch girls’ comics from 1967 onwards. I don’t know if original art was shipped for publication in foreign publications. I always believed the publishers received the weekly comics, made a choice of which stories to use, and then scanned the pages from the comics, after which these were translated and sometimes colourised. But who knows, there may have been exceptions.

    4. I agree that the Pixie/June merger was really badly handled. Pixie seems to me to have been misconceived from the outset, being aimed vaguely at something between the nursery comics and the 8-13 age group. The result was too cautious and unimaginative, and relied too heavily on adaptations of well-known books, and cartoon-type strips designed to look like Hanna-Barbera TV shows. It’s little wonder that there wasn’t much suitable for transfer to June.

      The treatment of The Happy Days was particularly botched. Having decided to move it to Pixie, it seems that they couldn’t bring themselves to kill it off in Princess Tina, so they continued that series with reprints, in tandem with Pixie, which probably diluted the appeal of the series in Pixie. When Pixie was merged, they could have transferred the issue of new stories back to Tina (as it then was) if they didn’t want to put it in June, but by this time Tina had been adapted into something like a young teen magazine, and Happy Days stuck out like sore thumb. So they stopped production of new stories altogether, but limped along with reprints for a few months more until the series fizzled out altogether. It was a sorry way to wind up what had been one of Fleetway’s most successful series in this age group.

      They took a totally ruthless approach to ending Tammy, and sadly it does seem pretty unlikely that the endings of the unfinished stories will turn up now. Even if some of the artwork surfaces, what’s the betting that it wouldn’t have the text added? (Although it might be interesting to try and puzzle out the endings from a dumb show of artwork with empty speech bubbles)

      1. Can you confirm the stories of ‘The happy Days’ in Pixie were reprints? I have never read any of these somewhere else and always thought these were originals. If these were indeed reprints, it makes it much clearer why ‘The happy Days’ was not chosen to survive after the merger with June.

        1. Sorry if what I wrote wasn’t clear. The stories in Pixie were all new. The continuing series in Princess Tina/Tina was of reprints, from 20 May 1972 onwards.

          I think you can also see a change in style in the Pixie stories, which may have been designed to make it a better fit for Pixie. The serious and sentimental vein which was a big feature of the series before now virtually disappears, and the creators seem to have decided (or been told) to go all out for zany humour.

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