The peak of the panel covers continued into 1978, as did Jinty’s peak period in storytelling. Her emphasis on SF, sports and fantasy just continued to grow and grow, and often expanded into more unconventional areas such as skateboarding and a parallel world ruled by magic. Perhaps the best remembered story from this period is “The Human Zoo“, which in fact is the only Jinty story to be set on an alien planet. Other well-remembered Jinty classics that made impressive covers included the long-running “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, “Dance into Darkness”, “Shadow on the Fen“, “Concrete Surfer“, and “The Zodiac Prince”, the only Jinty story to star a (gasp!) male protagonist – and he’s a real hunk to boot! Readers must have been drooling over the covers where he appeared. “Fran’ll Fix It!” came back for a sequel, leading to jaunty, hilarious cover spots.
Jinty’s colourful stories and panel covers continued all the way through 1979. It was still the peak of the Jinty run. The stories that became yet more well-remembered Jinty classics included ones about a secret South American cult, the last of the Lilliputians, illegal gardening in a dystopian future where Earth has been poisoned, a human/mermaid hybrid, an alien refugee who can’t touch Earth life without killing it, and a girl who uses witchcraft to make her way through acting school. During this period we said goodbye to “Fun-Bag” and the antics of “Bizzie Bet and the Easies” filled some cover spots.
By this time Jinty had been running for five years. Time for a birthday. So on 12 May 1979 Jinty celebrated her fifth birthday with her one and only birthday cover. Sadly, she did not last long enough to reach her tenth, as Tammy had done.
It was not always panel covers during this period. Sometimes advertising covers were used. These were used to advertise competitions or giveaways such as a four-part mobile. Other times, special occasions such as Easter called for special covers with a drawn cover girl.
Jinty often took panel layout to an art form when the cover focused on a single story. This was popular when Jinty was introducing a new story. The cover layout set the tone for the entire story and summed up what readers were to expect. Take these three examples:
In the cover introducing “Cathy’s Casebook” readers get samples of the antics that will ensue in this story. And in the centre, enclosed in a circular panel that sets it apart from the rest of the cover, is what leads to it all – the relationship between Cathy and her father.
In the cover introducing “The Four-Footed Friends” two panels are used to sum up the plight of Laura and what could help free her. The use of these panels contrasts confinement (for Laura), who looks all boxed in with that panel, with freedom (for the happy, scampering dog), and hints that the dog will be Laura’s liberator.
The cover introducing “Waves of Fear” says this girl will go from heroine to outcast, and her downfall is expressed in the arrangement of the story panels. The top panel, in cheerful tones of red and yellow, show this girl starts out with everything to make her happy. The bottom panel, in depressing shades of blue, indicates the pits and misery she has now hit. And in between the two panels is…we don’t know yet what that swimming head’s about. However, there can be no doubt it’s the thing that has come in between and the reason our heroine has plummeted from top to bottom.
In 1979 there were two curious cases of absenteeism on the cover. The first was when Jinty ran “Children of Edenford“. Not once did this story ever get a cover spot, not even in the issue where it started. Normally Jinty did have a story panel or full cover when she started a new story. But all we get that “Children of Edenford” had started is the top caption; the cover panels are devoted to already-running stories. “Children of Edenford” was a popular and well-remembered Jinty story about an insane headmistress who drugs her pupils into her ideals of perfection. What’s more, she does it with the full blessing of their parents, who know damn well it’s being done against their children’s will. But why was this story never given a cover spot? Could the reason for its absence on the cover be that the editor was uncomfortable with some of the underlying messages (disrespect of authority and kids’ revolution) that went with its main message of don’t repress free will and let kids be kids, and de-emphasised it by not allowing it a cover spot?
The second curious case of absenteeism was “Waves of Fear”. The only time this story was given a cover spot was on the cover already featured above. Throughout its run “Waves of Fear” was never given a cover spot again. Did the editor have a preference for panels from other stories such as “Combing Her Golden Hair“? Or did the editor de-emphasise it because it contained very disturbing content about what our heroine went through as an outcast, even at the hands of her own parents – and with nobody realising she was mentally ill?