I now present my list of the top ten villains from the run of Jinty. Some have been chosen because they are the most obvious choices, while others have been chosen as representatives of particular types of villains. The choices on this list are entirely mine, and in making my choices I have tried to keep a broad spectrum of the different types and archetypes of villains that appeared in Jinty. But I am aware that some of you may have your own views and some of my choices could be subject to second-guessing. Please feel free to suggest your own lists for the top ten Jinty villains in the comments below if you wish.
And now, counting down…
10: Mr Grand
Story: Village of Fame
Creators: Jim Baikie (artist); writer unknown
Just how far would you go for the highest television ratings? Mr Grand goes to the lengths of spy cameras all over the village called Fame he’s chosen for his location where he can watch every move under pretext of collecting footage, devious publicity stunts, including a faked UFO abduction, genuine kidnappings, blackmail, and even hiring a hypnotist named Marvo to brainwash people to do whatever he wants. At the climax, this takes the form of a widespread television broadcast where Grand and Marvo attempt to hypnotise the whole village in order to restore the television ratings. Mr Grand takes the popular view of television as a one-eyed monster that hypnotises people with junk and intrudes into their homes to a whole new level.
9: Jean Marlow
Story: Waves of Fear
Creators: Phil Gascoine (artist); writer unknown
As you might expect, there has to be a school bully somewhere on the list. There sure have been some nasty ones in Jinty, such as Sandra Simpkins (Tears of a Clown) and Lydia’s ex-friends in Dracula’s Daughter. But the worst of them all has to be Jean Marlow and her hate campaign against Clare Harvey. There can be nothing worse than bullying a mentally ill girl, and just because Jean hates her for some unknown reason. Jean takes advantage of Clare being branded a coward and becoming ostracised and bullied when her illness causes her to flee while her friend is drowning in a cave pool. Jean has the girls throw Clare into the same cave pool, which nearly drowns her. Then Jean plays upon Clare’s illness to get her expelled: she locks Clare into a classroom, forcing Clare to smash her way out once the illness overwhelms her, and then leading the headmistress believe Clare did it out of spite. As if that weren’t enough, Jean vandalises her own orienteering club in order to frame Clare for it because Clare stumbled across her cheating.
8: Miss Marvel
Story: Golden Dolly, Death Dust!
Creators: Phil Gascoine (artist); writer unknown
It wouldn’t be complete without a witchy, cackling crone type on this list either. Jinty certainly had plenty to remember, such as Madam Kapelski (Curtain of Silence), Mrs Tallow (Slaves of the Candle) and Miss Vaal (Girl in a Bubble). However, Miss Marvel has been chosen to represent them all, for she is not only a real witch but also, in modern parlance, an eco-terrorist with her poisonous death dust. The death dust kills all the flora and fauna it touches, and Miss Marvel uses it to bring terror to the district by destroying all the plant life around. In an increasing climate of widespread pollution, mass extinction, environment destruction and, of course eco-terrorism, this sounds more relevant and disturbing than when it was first published. Plus Miss Marvel has one of the most frightening of accomplices – a terrifying Halloween mask that can float around and scare the living daylights out of anyone who sees it!
7: Mrs Siddons
Story: Dora Dogsbody
Creators: José Casanovas (artist); Terence Magee, Pat Mills et al (writers)
Comical villains are a long-running staple in girls’ comics. A popular mechanism was a schemer getting his or her comeuppance every week at the hands of the protagonist. Such is the case with Mrs Siddons. Mrs Siddons runs a dogs’ hotel where all the pooches live in the height of luxury – but she is no animal lover. She only runs the hotel for profit and making extra money out of the dogs’ owners or crafty schemes wherever she can find them. Often these come at the expense of the dogs, such as undercutting their food and heating to save money. Moreover, she can’t be bothered doing the dirty work of running the hotel. So she brings Dora Watson in, ostensibly to adopt her, to do all the work as unpaid servant and treat her worse than a dog. However, it turns into grand hijinks and laughs for the readers every week with Mrs Siddons vs Dora Dogsbody as Dora rises to the occasion to foil Mrs Siddons. And the hijinks, scheming, and animals are all rendered brilliantly and amusingly with the artwork of José Casanovas.
6: Jemima and Agnes
Story: Cinderella Smith
Creators: Trini Tinturé (artist); writer unknown
Cinderella-type stories are long-running staple in girls’ comics, where the heroine is made a drudge at the hands of cruel guardians and seeks solace and escape in a talent. The most famous one is Bella Barlow from Tammy. But surely not even Cinderella herself experienced cruelty like this at the hands of these two wicked stepsisters, er cousins. Locked in chains and deprived of food and water because she tried to tell her father how she was being treated? Being made to wear leg irons while she works? Forced to eat from the dog’s dish? Being tricked into signing away her inheritance? Deliberately given tainted food to make her ill? Made to live in a cold, shabby attic with no electricity, decent lighting, heating or proper bedding, and forced to wear tatty clothing while the cousins live in the lap of luxury? Forced to paint a huge house from top to bottom? All these and more were inflicted on Cinderella Smith at the hands of her cruel cousins, Agnes and Jemima. They do it because they hate Cindy’s mother for some reason and are so stingy they make or save as much money as they can out of Cindy with free labour and any possessions she has. There have been hundreds of serials with cruel guardians who treat the protagonist like Cinderella. But the cruelties and excesses of Agnes and Jemima are hard to beat, even by Jed and Gert from Bella Barlow.
5: The Aliens aka The Silent Death
Story: The Human Zoo
Creators: Guy Peeters (artist); Malcolm Shaw (writer)
The aliens, also known as the Silent Death, were the only alien race in Jinty to give readers cause to remember them. They may be highly advanced telepathic beings, but advancement has not brought enlightenment. They are a cold-hearted race who disapprove of all sentimentality and emotion, yet revel in bloodsports and animal cruelties. They lock animals – including humans, whom they kidnap from Earth – into obedience collars that give intense pain when activated. The humans kidnapped by the aliens in this story are by turn subjected to the aliens’ equivalents of bounty hunting, pain-induced discipline, cattle markets, zoos, slaughterhouses, circuses, bloodsports, beasts of burden, vivisection and even a hint of animal sacrifice. They regard humans as animals and their attitude is (with welcome exceptions who care for animal welfare) “they’re just animals, for us to use as we like”. These include cruel versions of chimps’ tea parties where they starve humans for the purpose and never let them get the chance to eat any of the food that is thrown at them, and circus acts where the non-swimming protagonist is nearly drowned every night while the aliens clap and cheer.
But what makes them such unforgettable villains is that we see so much of ourselves in them. Humans are guilty of the same atrocities against animals as the ones the aliens inflict on the humans in the story. Even today, particularly in Third World countries, you will see animal cruelties of all sorts that are just as horrible and barbaric as the ones the aliens commit.