Category Archives: Issues

The Darkening Journey

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Publication: 26 March 1977 – 6 August 1977 (20 episodes)

Reprint/translation: Translated into Dutch and published in Tina as “Samen door het duister” (1981)

Artist: José Casanovas

Writer: Unknown

Summary

Julie Burton’s eyesight is growing dimmer and dimmer, and her main support is her golden Labrador, Thumper, who almost acts as a guide dog. There are some bright spots in her future: her father has got a new job over in the west by the sea, and there is hope that an upcoming operation might give her good sight again. However, on the cusp of leaving to travel miles away to their new home, Julie and Thumper are separated and the dog suffers a blow to the head that leaves his own eyesight blurry. A friendly talking rook, Beaky, befriends Thumper and together they make their long difficult way west towards where Thumper remembers Julie’s new house to be located.

Their way is fraught with difficulties: it’s mostly humans who get in their way, either for positive or negative motives. First the talking rook is nearly recaptured by his former owners, only to be rescued by Thumper; then they both need to run away from a selfish rich lady who only wants to keep them while she’s able to show them both off to her snooty friends. (The rather more sympathetic chauffeur and secretary help them to escape in the end.) Sometimes Thumper and Beaky save the humans (foiling some lorry hijackers), sometimes they save each other (Beaky brings human help to save a trapped or injured Thumper more than once, though Thumper returns the favour when they are both trapped by floodwaters).

In the meantime, Julie is pining away thinking about Thumper, and he likewise seems to have an almost telepathic bond with her – her image is shown hovering over the setting sun more than once, as a beacon calling him to her, and she likewise often seems to be able to sense his misery. Increasing his woes, Thumper is suffering from more and more blind spells too. But there are many times when temporary blindness and separation anxiety are not the biggest evils they face – a few of the humans they meet have plans to put Thumper down; he is bullied by a pack of stronger dogs; and another time he is nearly eaten by rats.

Though by the end, Thumper in particular is moving more and more slowly, they eventually reach the westernmost limit of their travels: the final moorland, and the sea. The dramatic tension tightens right at the end as the dog, careless with happiness, hurts his foot badly and is trapped by the rising tide: but Beaky comes through again and brings Julie’s dad to the final rescue. All is well, once the two beloved friends each have operations to restore their eyesight.

Themes and commentary

It is an intrinsically pretty sentimental story, with the dog protagonist gifted with an implausibly good skill in navigating his way cross-country in the absence of a definite location to head for. (Not to mention the almost telepathic nature of the mental connection that he and Julie seem to share.) It must have been a popular story, at 20 episodes long and featuring on the cover twice, though at the same time not rivalling the most classic Jinty stories that were also running at this point. (Though they were shorter stories, both “Creepy Crawley” and “The Spell of the Spinning Wheel” featured on the cover four times in the same time period.) Journey stories in general seem to have been very popular at this time, and the addition of sympathetic animal characters will have given it a different angle from other journey stories.

José Casanovas is also always a talent to enjoy reading. His art style is much busier and ‘fuller’ than that of many other Jinty artists, who often like to include a lot more white space in their finished pages, but it makes a nice change of pace and feels very solid. This is a story that, while far from the first rank of stories running in this title at this time, is enjoyable on its own merits and will have a number of fans.

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Jinty 30 April 1977

  • Creepy Crawley (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Cassie and the Cat – Gypsy Rose story (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Mark of the Witch! — final episode (Phil Townsend)
  • Alley Cat
  • The Darkening Journey (artist José Casanovas)
  • The Robot Who Cried (artist Rodrigo Comos, writer Malcolm Shaw)
  • Kerry in the Clouds (artist Cándido Ruiz Pueyo, writer Alan Davidson)
  • Spell of the Spinning Wheel (artist Jim Baikie, writer Alison Christie)
  • Don’t Forget to Remember! (craft feature)

This issue is from a great period of Jinty’s run. It includes a number of real classic stories that have stood the test of time and memory (“Creepy Crawley”, “Spell of the Spinning Wheel”, and “The Robot Who Cried” being the obvious stand-outs) and all in all is a really solid read.

“Creepy Crawley” shows the how mean the main character Jean Crawley can be: she goes to see her rival Mandy who is recovering from the bee stings that the scarab brooch caused to happen. But even when not under the control of the scarab badge Jean allows her jealousy to control her, enough so that she voluntarily goes back to wearing the scarab and letting it give her ideas on how to get the better of Mandy. And it’s not just limited to ideas – the scarab’s control over insects means that Mandy’s beautiful wooden sculpture is eaten by termites before it can beat Jean’s pretty painting in the school art competition.

In the Gypsy Rose story “Cassie and the Cat”,  Cassie rescues a cat from some bullies, but the cat is far from what it seems. Enjoy the creepy story, atmospherically drawn by Terry Aspin, at the end of the post.

It is the final episode of “Mark of the Witch!”, and outcast Emma Fielding redeems herself by saving rich girl Alice Durant, the girl who she’s persecuted in revenge for the persecution that Emma herself has suffered at the hands of the local villagers. As they keep each other afloat in the raging river, Emma takes a moment to think “It’s funny.. I could die, but I feel sort of happy! Happy to be fighting and struggling with Alice instead of against her!”

“The Robot Who Cried” is an invention of the bushily-moustached Professor Targett – codenamed KT5, she escapes from the laboratory and discovers that she can pass for a real girl – assuming she can sort out how human emotions like friendliness or loneliness work in real life, of course.

In “Kerry In The Clouds”, Kerry Langland is taken under the wing of famous actress Gail Terson, but Ms Terson clearly has an agenda of her own. There are echoes of the story “Jackie’s Two Lives”, also written by Alan Davidson – both feature a poor girl with ambitions beyond her station, manipulated in sinister ways by an older woman. Spanish artist Cándido Ruiz Pueyo provides some very stylish hairstyles and clothing.

Spell of the Spinning Wheel” is a rare foray of Alison Christie’s into a spooky mystery story – I wish she had done more of it, it was very memorable. Rowan Lindsay is sporadically struck down by a mystery tiredness – she’s worked out that it is related to hearing humming sounds but she hasn’t persuaded anyone other than her dad to believe her yet, and the doctors have now forbidden her from running again.

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Jinty 26 September 1981

schoolgirls passing a collection box with the words Mayors Appeal on it

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

  • Freda’s Fortune – first episode (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • All over a farthing… – text story (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Child’s Play – Gypsy Rose story (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Holiday Hideaway (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Winning Ways – sports tips
  • The Sweet and Sour Rivals – last episode (artist Carlos Cruz)
  • Worlds Apart (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)

This is one of the last few issues of Jinty before the merger with Tammy. As a result it is full of penultimate episodes (Holiday Hideaway, Worlds Apart), a final episode (The Sweet and Sour Rivals) and complete or nearly complete stories (the Gypsy Rose story, and the first half of the two-parter Freda’s Fortune).

Freda wins a pony in a raffle – a stroke of luck for her, as she has longed for one since she was a toddler, but also some bad luck because not only does she have to find somewhere to keep it and food to feed it, she also earns the envy of snobbish Susan who will stop at little to throw a spoke in her wheel.

The text story “All over a farthing” has a struggling girl give away a lucky farthing to the school charity appeal, only to find that it brings luck back to her and her unemployed father in an unexpected way.

The Gypsy Rose story, “Child’s Play”, is a new one this week, drawn by Phil Townsend (though the subsequent week’s issue will have a reprint of a story by Trini Tinturé from 1977). I reprint it below.

“Holiday Hideaway” is coming to an end – the family in hiding prepare to ‘return from holiday’ which will mean they have to continue to lie to their friends by pretending they have been away on a cruise ship holiday all along. But the episode ends by a reveal that they can’t possibly have been on the ship – the liner never left England in the first place! How will Hattie Jones and her family keep their heads up now?

This is the last episode of “The Sweet and Sour Rivals”: at the school fair Mandy and her friend Suzie Choo face off against Abigail Beaton whose family run the town’s snootiest restaurant. As often happens with schoolgirl rivalries, the envious antagonist overreaches herself and the good girl(s) have to save the day, including the antagonist herself. This time the jealous rival entices a horde of hungry dogs to all the food stalls, risking her own parents’ food stall as well as the Choo’s one; and Suzie saves the day by building a wall of plates to keep the dogs away. Yes, it’s a Great Wall of China (groan).

In “Worlds Apart” the six schoolgirls are transported from brainy Clare’s world into scaredy-cat Jilly’s world – one inhabited by horror monsters. Read all about it in the summary of that story, linked to above.

Page 1, “Child’s Play” – Gypsy Rose story
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Jinty 15 October 1977

  • Destiny Brown (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Guardian of White Horse Hill (artist Julian Vivas)
  • Alley Cat
  • The Goose Girl (artist Keith Robson; writer Alison Christie)
  • So What’s New with David Essex? (feature)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Stage Fright! (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Lilies for the Bride – Gypsy Rose story (artist Christine Ellingham)
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Cursed to be a Coward! (artist Mario Capaldi; writer Alison Christie)
  • Autumn Treasures! (craft feature)

If you’ve read Mistyfan’s superb, thorough rundown of the cover styles that Jinty had over the years, you may remember this issue being noted as the last one which had a separate blue background behind the logo. (Following issues had the logo incorporated into the body of the cover design itself.) However, we had not yet posted about the issue itself, which I am remedying here.

Destiny Brown is trapped in a number of ways – having run away to find her father, her purse was stolen and she had to sleep rough. Not surprisingly she was quickly set up to be exploited by some rough types, especially once they realize they may have struck gold, if she really can predict the future with her second sight. Poor old Destiny – dragged away by these dodgy geezers, just as she has bumped into her father, who is likewise being dragged away by – who is *he* trapped by? It looks like the police, but is it really so? The art, by Rodrigo Comos, is clear and classy, if perhaps slightly old-fashioned looking for the time.

The letters page includes a list of the winners of a recent competition: the first ten correct entries won a KODAK Instamatic camera, while the 60 runners up won a giant full-colour poster of Starsky and Hutch. Looking at the names of the winners carefully, most of them are, unsurprisingly, traditional English, Irish, or Scottish girls names; but there are one or two less usual entrants hidden in the mix, indicating some small diversity of the readership. Pushpa Hallan is one of the ten winners of the main prize, and C. Thiyagalingam is one of the 60 winners of the runner-up prize. Perhaps even less expectedly, there is also one boy’s name included: Adrian King.

Orphan Janey is adapting to being fostered by the Carters – but when she sees a beautiful white horse, they think she is making up stories to impress them. What Janey doesn’t yet realize is that no-one else can see the horse apart from her – and nor will any photos of the horse show it, either! It’s all tied up with the local beauty spot, White Horse Hill, which is threatened by the destructive plans to build a motorway.

Brenda Noble is a bird-lover who is campaigning against the local sport of goose shooting in the village she lives in with her mother. Her mother hates birds as she blames them for her husband’s death – and soon she enacts her plans to take the two of them to Edinburgh away from the wee ‘backwater’ village.

“Stage Fright” is an odd mystery story: stylishly drawn by Phil Townsend, the protagonist Linda is being made by Lord Banbury to train as an actor in order to win an acting trophy that has been in his family for generations. But who is locking her into places, stealing her costume, and watching her from afar?

The Gypsy Rose story this week is drawn by Christine Ellingham, who until recently we were only able to list as the ‘unknown artist of Concrete Surfer’. What a pleasure to be able to correctly credit this lovely art! Delphine is a lively girl who works in a florist’s shop. She has an irrational fear of lilies, but the rich customer who falls for her wants a centrepiece of those same flowers, to be put together with her very own hands. Not only that – once he proposes to her, Delphine finds out that his mother’s name is Lily, and she is due to sleep in the lily room. All omens that tell her that soon she will meet the spirit of the lily – in death.

The evil fortune teller who is the villain of “Cursed To Be A Coward!” manages to get Marnie Miles thrown into a rickety old boat in the middle of a pond – luckily she gets fished out but the fortune teller’s determination to make sure that blue water will get her yet is pretty sinister.

The craft suggested for this week is to collect up ‘autumn treasures’ such as the heads of cow parsley, twigs with berries, or pretty leaves, and to make dried arrangements of them in vases, or pictures, or perhaps even jewellery of the tougher seedpods of ash keys or beech nut cases. The pictures accompanying the feature make it all look rather pretty, but I would assume that beech nut cases in particular would be rather scratchy to turn into jewellery!

A History of Tammy Covers

The cover is the first thing the potential reader sees when they see the comic book on the shelf. The cover is what catches their eye, draws them in, arouses their interest, and induces them to buy it. Throughout the run of a comic, the cover will change dramatically in accordance with changes in public tastes, artists, levels of sophistication, and even the type of paper. Therefore compiling the history of the cover of a particular comic can tell you a lot about how things have changed in comics over the decades.

In this entry we are going to look at the history of the covers Tammy produced throughout her 13-year run and how they changed to make her a drawing card to the readers.

We begin with the very first issue, 6 February 1971. The girl on the cover is Tammy herself, showing off the bracelet and ring that come with the first issue. It is a very bright, happy cover, which belies the dark content that features in so many of the stories within, especially “Slaves of ‘War Orphan Farm'”. The floral-patterned logo is the one that will stay the same for nine years, though there were some exceptions to its regular layout. It most often appeared in red, but other colours were used on occasion. The floral pattern is unusual when girls’ comics used solid lettering. Perhaps the flowers were intended to be a further contrast to the dark content the early Tammy was known for.

Tammy 6 February 1971

First Tammy cover: original

Successive covers until Sandie merged with Tammy on 27 October 1973 were pretty cover girl covers, showing happy girls engaged in various activities such as leisure and sport. Again they continued to belie the grim content (slave stories, Cinderella stories, bullying stories) that continued to feature with stories like “The Four Friends at Spartan School”. A number of the covers had a flat, stiff, one dimensional look to the artwork, which was probably fine at the time but looks a bit unappealing now.

On occasion though, an issue had a full cover that was inspired by a serial inside Tammy, such as Beattie Beats ’em All on Tammy’s first Christmas issue. It did not take long for the Sally logo to be added to the Tammy cover. Tammy was barely two months old before Sally, a longer-running comic, merged into her. It was most unusual for an older comic to be merged into a barely new one, and says something about the sales figures for both comics: Tammy was already a hit while it is presumed that Sally had lost readership due to a long-standing strike.

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Sandie 28 July 1973

Sandie cover 28 July 1973

  • Slaves of the Eye (artist Joan Boix)
  • Cinderella – Superstar (artist Joan Boix?)
  • Wyn and the Witch (artist A. E. Allen)
  • Connie Courageous (artist “B. Jackson”) – last episode
  • Sink or Swim, Sara! (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • The Captives of Terror Island (artist Juan Escandell Torres, writer Terence Magee) – last episode
  • Dancing to Danger (artist Tom Kerr)
  • Bridie at the Fair (artist Leslie Otway)
  • All Against Alice (artist Miguel Quesada?)
  • Sisters in Sorrow (artist Desmond Walduck?)

“Slaves of the Eye” features another sinister teacher (Miss Krell) who exerts a strange, sinister influence over pupils, and it’s up to our protagonists (Kate Saunders and her friend Heather) to unravel how and why. Plus what lies under that veil Miss Krell always wears and what lurks in her laboratory. Kate has now discovered Miss Krell used a transmitter inside a netball to make the girls foul her during the match. Once she gets hold of the transmitter, it leads her and Heather to prison cells that were empty earlier but are now full of…whom?

 

“Cinderella Superstar” is an aspiring ballerina, Ellie Villiers whose road to her dreams is being blocked by uncooperative relatives who treat her like dirt. Now they’ve taken her gramophone to stop her dancing to her ballet music and given it away. But the blurb for next week says Ellie’s about to get some help.

 

Wyn is an ill-treated drudge at Pinchbeck Hall, but has a good friend in the form of the witch Grizelda “Grizzy” in the attic, whose magic helps Wyn get comeuppance on her horrible employers. This week Lord Pinchbeck is challenged to a duel but there’s a problem – Grizzy has turned him into a pig, so how the heck is he going to duel?

 

It’s the final episode of “Connie Courageous”. Connie Cartwright has jealous rivals in addition to learning to jump while being blind. And she needs the prize money to restore her sight, but her enemies have blocked the path to her getting to the event. Can she and her horse find a way to get there in time?

 

“The Captives of Terror Island” also ends this week. Madame Soong of Terror Island has kidnapped an entire hockey team in order to claim the National Hockey Championships for her country, and her training methods are “barbaric”. It looks like she has finally got what she wants and is a national heroine, until our heroine finally manages to expose her in front of the spectators. Madame Soong quite literally destroys herself – and Terror Island – with the very bomb she had set for her enemies.

 

In “Sink or Swim, Sara”, the two snobby headmistresses of St Agatha’s should have thought twice before making Sara Dale’s life so miserable. This caused her to change schools when they badly needed her to win an inter-school swimming gala. Now the same thing has resulted in two of Sara’s friends being expelled. Now they’ve transferred to Sara’s school and are happier – then Sara informs them that the expulsion is all part of some dirty trick the headmistresses are playing, which won’t be revealed until the final episode next week.

 

“Sisters in Sorrow” is also on its penultimate episode. Layla and her friend Pat have been forced to become thieves, but the story takes the unusual step of having an aristocrat, Lady Maggins, as the Fagin. They have been forced to impersonate two others in order to infiltrate a household so they can rob it. Layla manages to rescue the real McCoys, but they get cornered by Lady Maggins. Meanwhile, Pat has been exposed as an imposter, so they’re both in a corner now.

 

“Dancing to Danger” and “Bridie at the Fair” look like they have been reprinted from elsewhere, perhaps School Friend or June. In the former, Pat White uses ballet as her cover for undercover work against the Nazis in World War II. She manages to worm her way into Gestapo HQ to find information on a prisoner, Professor Duval, under pretext of her ballet troupe staging a performance there. However, her Nazi nemesis, Herr Staub, gets suspicious and is going to arrange a special watch on them. In the latter, Bridie Donovan has joined a fair in the hope of regaining her memory. But the fortune-teller Madame Rosa tells Bridie she can do anything she wants with her.

 

“All Against Alice” has been fostered out to a former Wimbledon champion who is coaching her in her beloved tennis, but shows her no affection. Then a Mr and Mrs Tyler claim to be Alice’s parents but lose the custody battle in the interim. Just as well, because they are clearly out to make money out of her, which they finally succeed in doing by destroying Alice’s amateur status through a dirty trick, and with it, her career.

Sandie 13 May 1972

Sandie 13 May 1972

  • Lorna’s Lonely Days
  • Slaves of the Sorcerer (artist Desmond Walduck?)
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Odd Mann Out – final episode (artist A E Allen)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Friends and Neighbours
  • The Captives of Madam Karma (artist Jaume Rumeu, writer Pat Mills)
  • Wendy the Witch (artist Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance – final episode (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch?)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Ryan O’Neil (artist Bob Gifford)

“Lorna’s Lonely Days” are due to her longing to find the mother who disappeared when she was two. The mystery of the mother really deepens when Lorna thinks she has finally found her mother at last, but the woman in the photo just turns out to be a former employee who expresses no surprise at nobody letting Lorna see a picture of her mother. Meanwhile, Dad is worried Lorna is becoming more and more like her mother. Now why can these people be thinking this way?

Mike Brown is drawing a new strip in Sandie, “Wendy the Witch”, in addition to Brenda’s Brownies.

Beth Williams has once again failed to escape the sorcerer, and she’s back in his clutches. Now this is getting really tedious.

Wee Sue is becoming unpopular with her classmates and she seems to be taking deliberate measures to make it so. Now what is she playing at?

It’s the last episode of “Odd Mann Out”. The tyrannical headmistress is brought down when Susie Mann exposes her as an embezzler and falsifying exam marks for girls she favours.

Trudy Parker’s efforts to save Silver have landed her in court. Only the action of the Colonel saves Trudy from an unjust sentence of corrective training school. But then another injustice looms, in the form of Trudy being falsely accused of stealing a necklace.

The neighbour problem finally seems to be sorted in “Friends and Neighbours”. But fresh problems start when Dad begins renovating the house.

“The Captives of Madam Karma” (spelled Madame Karma on the cover) are a slave labour force of abducted girls who slave all day making transistor radios in a sweatshop – which is 200 miles within the Arctic circle. But if you think that’s weird, it’s nothing on the mysterious helper who shows up to help our protagonist – a glowing woman floating on air!

In the final episode of “Sandra Must Dance”, the twins have fallen out because Joan has wrongly assumed Sandra pulled the dirty trick a jealous girl was responsible for. To put things right, Sandra compels Joan to dance again, and in doing so the twins discover they no longer need the psychic bond and both are brilliant dancers.

In “Bonnie’s Butler” there is a disagreement over home decorating and Dad taking exception to Bonnie’s pop posters adorning the walls. But of course the butler’s got a scheme to help Bonnie there.

Anna gets a clue to help her find her forbidden friend Julia, who has been kidnapped as part of her father’s machinations to drive everyone out of Madeley Buildings. The dirty rotten schemer has even put the blame for the kidnapping on Anna!

Sandie 29 April 1972

Sandie 29 April 1972

  • No-one Cheers for Norah– final episode (artist John Armstrong)
  • Slaves of the Sorcerer (artist Desmond Walduck?)
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Friends and Neighbours
  • The School of No Escape – final episode (artist “B. Jackson”, writer Terence Magee)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch?)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Mark Lester (artist Bob Gifford)

In this issue of Sandie we say goodbye to two of her first stories: “No-One Cheers for Norah” and “The School of No Escape”. The former finishes with a needle race to beat the relatives who have not only made Norah’s life a misery ever since they met but also ruined her father’s life. The latter ends with the pretty typical deus ex machina of the aliens just vanishing away just as they are about to triumph because time’s up, and everyone but the heroine loses all memory of them for no apparent reason.

Replacing them next week are “Lorna’s Lonely Days” and “The Captives of Madam Karma”. The latter is written by Pat Mills.

In “Slaves of the Sorcerer” Beth Williams finally gets the police onto Caspar. But when they arrive at the fairground there’s no sign of him. The lead they have been given is in fact another trap for Beth set by Caspar, and he’s waiting to pounce.

Boys are admitted to Wee Sue’s school. They get quite a shock when the titch they tease turns out to be brilliant at footy. Then Sue finds one of the football boys stuck on a ledge and climbs up to the rescue.

“Odd Mann Out” is now leading a demonstration against the tyrannical way things are run at her school. But why the hell is the headmistress smiling about it instead of looking worried?

Trudy loses Silver – to the rag-and-bone man. And everyone knows how cruel he is to animals. Can Trudy get him back?

Ann Friend and her family in “Friends and Neighbours” have moved into a new house. The neighours haven’t been friendly but now Anne believes they are worse than she thought – they are trying to scare her family out of the house with a ruse that it’s haunted. They deny it angrily and mean to prove it by sitting up with them.

In “Sandra Must Dance”, enemy Robinia Drew discovers the twins’ bizarre secret – Joan can transfer her ballet talent into her twin sister Sandra through a psychic bond. Robinia locks Joan up to prevent her from doing so during a performance. Can the twins pull things off despite this?

This week’s episode of “Bonnie’s Butler” has a row with the Major and Bonnie loses the present she was going to give Angie. Things get even more bizarre when Bonnie wins an unwanted hip bath at an auction, but her butler uses it to put everything right.

In “Anna’s Forbidden Friend”, Julia’s father takes advantage of Anna and Julia to hatch a scheme to get everyone out of Madeley Buildings. He managed to turn everyone against them once before and now plots to do it again. And his scheme includes kidnapping his own daughter!

Sandie 29 September 1973

Sandie cover 29 September 1973

  • Angela Angel-Face (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • The House of Toys (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Jeannie and her Uncle Meanie (artist Robert MacGillivray, writer John Wagner)
  • Noelle’s Ark (artist “B. Jackson”)
  • Cherry in Chains (artist Joan Boix)
  • Sandie’s Pop Special – Geordie
  • The Golden Shark (artist Santiago Hernandez)
  • Dancing to Danger – last episode (artist Tom Kerr)
  • Bridie at the Fair (artist Leslie Otway)
  • Sister to a Star (artist Joan Boix?)
  • Cinderella Superstar (artist Joan Boix?)

The issue begins with part two of the first print of the “Angela Angel-Face” story that will be reprinted in Jinty 1980 and Tammy 1984. It is generally agreed among Jinty readers that the less said about that one the better, so we move on to other things in the issue.

Sandie sure had a big thing for circus stories. There are not one but two of them running, plus one with a fairground theme. The first, “Cherry in Chains”, stars a heroine who’s an escape artist, which is a real delight to have. There are not many Houdinis in girls’ comics who can get themselves out of being tied up. There are many scenes I can recall in girls’ comics where they sure could have done with that. But Cherry’s unknown enemy is making her escapes even more dangerous and escape-proof than normal because he or she is using them to kill her. Who could be doing it? Everyone’s a suspect because everyone thinks Cherry’s father is a traitor. But there really can only be one person – the one who framed him.

In the other circus story, Mary Suza in “Sister to a Star” is a trapeze artist. She has defied her overstrict guardian in running away to the circus. In this episode she loses her nerve, gets it back, but the ageing trapeze star, Sue Suza, will have not have Mary in her act. No, she is not bloody well getting too old, she says! Meanwhile, the fortune teller sees tragedy in the cards, which will no doubt have bearing on the final episode next issue.

The fairground story, “Bridie at the Fair”, looks like it was reprinted from an earlier title, maybe School Friend. Amnesiac girl Bridie Donovan joins a travelling fair to find her true identity. Now Bridie has finally discovered her old nursemaid, Mrs Kerry – only to find the poor old woman was being taken advantage of by a nasty fortune teller. No wonder when it’s revealed that a nasty relative is out to steal Bridie’s estate, and then Bridie’s enemies, led by the fortune teller, close in to stop her claiming it!

“Dancing to Danger” also has the impression it was reprinted from an earlier title. Pat White is a ballerina who is in fact an undercover secret agent in occupied France. It’s the final episode and Pat has now earned a medal in addition to her bouquets, but that has to be kept secret until after the war. Right now, it’s more undercover work while dancing with those pointe shoes.

Sandie also had two ballet stories running at the same time. In the second ballet story, Ellie Villiers wants to be a ballerina, but her Aunt Stella and cousins do everything they can to stop her. It’s not just a matter of treating her like Cinderella. It’s also something to do with a locked room, which Ellie has found is full of tutus and other ballet paraphernalia, and they once belonged to a ballerina named Sylvia Coral. What’s more, Aunt Stella says weird things that sound like she thinks she’s being haunted by Sylvia’s ghost or something. Sylvia’s diary holds the answer, but Aunt Stella is trying to stop anyone from reading it.

“The Golden Shark” looks like another reprint from elsewhere as its lettering is not the same as Sandie’s. Perhaps it originally appeared in June. Like “Barracuda Bay” (a June reprint in Jinty), it’s an underwater sea adventure, and it’s got underwater exploration, pirates, a treasure hunt in a sunken galleon, and a giant octopus.

“The House of Toys” is “and then there were none” story. Jill Small and nine girl gymnasts have somehow found themselves on a mysterious island when they were headed for another, and the only house on it has nothing but strange toys. Now the girls are disappearing one by one. Even the food is disappearing into thin air, and we don’t mean eating. Is it because these toys have strange powers or is someone pulling a fast one on them? In this episode the girls discover there are definitely two people on the island, but now another girl vanishes!

Uncle Meanie is running for Parliament, would you believe? His campaign is to stop needless spending and save, save, save. In other words, he would issue tight-fisted McScrimp-style black budgets given half the chance. As nobody in their right mind would vote for him, he is turning to dirty tricks to sabotage the other candidates. And then his ideas begin to grow in popularity once he learns to appeal to the miser in people. Can Jeannie find a way to stop him?

Like “Fran of the Floods“, “Noelle’s Ark” was ahead of its time in anticipating rising sea levels and worldwide flooding. This week Noelle encounters a mystery boat that carries a deadly fungus. She manages to get rid of the fungus, but it’s had a weird effect on her – she’s turning so nasty she’s on the verge of pushing her friends overboard!

In “Slaves of the Sorcerer” Beth Williams finally gets the police onto Caspar. But when they arrive at the fairground there’s no sign of him. The lead they have been given is in fact another trap for Beth set by Caspar, and he’s waiting to pounce.

Boys are admitted to Wee Sue’s school. They get quite a shock when the titch they tease turns out to be brilliant at footy. Then Sue finds one of the football boys stuck on a ledge and climbs up to the rescue.

“Odd Mann Out” is now leading a demonstration against the tyrannical way things are run at her school. But why the hell is the headmistress smiling about it instead of looking worried?

Trudy loses Silver – to the rag-and-bone man. And everyone knows how cruel he is to animals. Can Trudy get him back?

In “Friends and Neighbours” Ann Friend and her family have moved into a new house. The neighours haven’t been friendly but now Anne believes they are worse than she thought – they are trying to scare her family out of the house with a ruse that it’s haunted. They deny it angrily and mean to prove it by sitting up with them.

 

Black Schneider [1967]

black schneider cover

 

Published: Commando #273 (July 1967)

Reprinted: Commando #5168 (November 2018)

Artists: Gordon C. Livingstone (story); Rafael Lopez Espi (cover)

Writer: E. Hebden

On the Jinty blog we love to collect information on writers and artists in comics, whether Jinty or otherwise. The reprint gives some titbits of information about Rafael Lopez Espi, the cover artist.

Espi began his career as a comic book artist in 1953. He worked extensively for war comics, beginning with drawing covers for war stories published by Simbolo, moved on to Commando, and even worked for Commando’s rival, Fleetway. His Commando covers included Black Schneider, Break Through!, Pirate Breed and Dangerous Dawn. As well as war comics, Espi worked on Western and romance comics.

More information on Espi can be found at https://www.lambiek.net/artists/l/lopez-espi_rafael.htm and https://www.comicartfans.com/comic-artists/lopez_espi.asp

Plot

In 1938, traveller and explorer Stanilaus Schneider is dispatched to a German archaeological dig in Libya to help search for prehistoric cliff paintings. After the paintings are found he disappears for a month in the desert on a secret military mission for the Nazis, and tells the archaeological professor to cover for him.

During World War II Schneider re-emerges in the desert as Army Major Sonderkommando (Sand Commander), and self-styled King of the Desert, which he boasts is his friend, and he gives the impression he is in confident, total command of it. He dresses himself up in black leather (despite the desert heat), which gives him a sinister Gestapo-like appearance, hence his nickname of Black Schneider. He has developed a military style that enables him to somehow sneak up on Allied platoons and take them down from the rear and completely unawares. There is a real mystery as to how he is able to emerge out of nowhere from the desert sands and catch them napping from behind, and he’s giving the impression he must be a magician or something.

black schneider 1

Schneider pulls this stunt several times on Sergeant Bill Kane and his 3rd platoon of the 2nd North Loamshires, which always causes them to fail in their mission and take heavy casualties and loss of equipment. As a result, the platoon develops a reputation as a bad luck platoon that is jinxed, and the jinx is dubbed “the Mark of Kane”. Nobody wants to join that platoon, and one soldier dubs Kane “Mr Suicide”. Lieutenant Colonel Stacey at Battalion HQ won’t listen to Kane’s protests that Schneider and his desert tactics are responsible for their failures. Nor does he listen to Kane’s suspicions that Schneider is making clever use of little-known desert paths, a discovery he made when investigating how Schneider and his platoon managed to escape from one of their attacks so readily. When it reaches the point where Kane loses his entire platoon through Schneider’s tactics and Stacey won’t listen to the reason why, he is transferred to a store job at base camp.

En route to base camp, a mine field gives Kane an idea on how to get back at Schneider. He extracts two mines and uses them to mine the pathway he discovered before and blow up Schneider next time he uses it.

Then a desert Arab appears out of nowhere and starts to use the path, and Kane has to warn him about the mines. But when Schneider and his army show up, they are well prepared to deal with the mines, and Kane realises the Arab must have been an informer. Schneider confirms this as he takes Kane prisoner.

black schneider 2

En route to and during his time in Schneider’s POW camp at the Oasis of Sitra Kane discovers how Schneider does it. He used that month in 1938 to trace a desert road constructed in ancient times and mapped it with compass bearings. The road is concealed by desert sand, so he cunningly uses his map to navigate it without sinking into the sands as so many convoys have done. He is also keeping Arab guides well paid with old Spanish gold (treasure to them) to guide him along the caravan routes and ancient wells, which enables them to keep themselves supplied with water as well. And the secret to his success is that very few outsiders know about the ancient road, which is also concealed by desert sand, the caravan routes or the Oasis of Sitra, so the Allied Intelligence knows nothing about it. This is how he is able “to hold a gun in the back of the British all the time. They never expect the enemy to come from the sea of sand”.

Schneider’s POW camp at Sitra has the deadly desert itself acting as the bars and barbed wire. So there is no need for them, only plenty of guards. The prisoners are forced to fill up cans with either water or petrol, and keep the water and petrol cans apart, don’t mix them up (hmm, do we sense something crafty could be pulled here?). Most of the prisoners are resigned to staying until the war ends because the camp is surrounded by desert that only Schneider seems able to cross, and the British know nothing about the camp’s existence. But not Kane once he has the full picture of how Schneider is doing it – with the ancient concealed road he plotted and the Arab guides. He is going to orchestrate a mass breakout by beating Schneider at his own game.

black schneider 3

The Battle of El Alamein is now on and Schneider wants to be part of the action. He departs, leaving the prisoners only lightly guarded. He does not realise his water tanks are really filled with petrol and the prisoners have taken water tanks for themselves (yes, we thought something like that was coming). The soldiers quickly overcome the few remaining guards and seize vehicles, ammunition and weapons. Kane also seizes the Arab who betrayed him and forces him at gunpoint to take them along the caravan route. Before departing, he paints the captured vehicles with “3 Platoon” and tells his fellow escapees this is what they are now. He is forming a new 3rd platoon with his escapees, to salvage the reputation of the old one and settle old scores with Schneider.

Kane directs the Arab to take them to the wells Schneider showed him at Bir Quara, figuring that Schneider must be stopping there for water and discovering the trick with the cans. Upon arrival they surround Schneider, but he is not one to surrender, so “the Skirmish at Bir Quara” begins. Soon Schneider is the last man standing. Kane takes him prisoner to El Alamein and seizes his map of the concealed desert road.

Stacey is very surprised to see this new 3rd platoon arriving at the Battle of El Alamein, with Kane himself in command. He will soon learn that the new 3rd platoon is much luckier than its predecessor, much of which is due to consisting of toughened desert fighters who have ironically learned to navigate the desert through their enemy Schneider.

Thoughts

This Commando certainly had a very long wait for a reprint – 51 years. That sure is a very long wait for a reprint and it’s surprising the issue did not get a reprint earlier.

The first thing you see with this issue is that it is the villain on the cover, and his presence monopolises it entirely. None of the heroes appear anywhere. His resplendent, strident, confident appearance hits you right in the eye and makes it an eye-catching cover. It’s an unusual step for Commando to take, having the villain star on the cover rather than the hero, but it’s a very sensible one, and makes a far more striking cover, rendered brilliantly by Espi.

Schneider’s nickname is also the title of the story. It has you thinking that maybe the whole story is going to be about him. Maybe he will be the anti-hero or even hero of the story, which Commando has done before with non-Gestapo German soldiers.

But once you open the issue (or read the blurb on the back) you know that’s not the case. Black Schneider is set up to be the bane of Bill Kane and his 3rd platoon.

Schneider and his desert tactics are clearly based on General Rommel, “The Desert Fox”. There is also a dash of the Red Baron in the way he unconventionally dresses in black leathers rather than army uniform. There is a hint of the Gestapo as well, both in his dress and in his icy demeanour. He is an extremely clever villain, styling himself as master of the desert and giving the impression his control of the desert is seeming miraculous and strikes awe and confusion into the enemy. As well as his seeming uncanny ability to sneak up on the enemy from behind out of nowhere, he further dumbfounds them with tactics such as destroying their supply of water, the most precious commodity of the desert, saying he has no need for it himself. Why the hell should he not need water when he’s out in the desert? His bragging that the desert is his friend appears to be no idle boasting and he almost appears to be a magician.

But once Schneider’s secret is uncovered, Kane discovers there was nothing miraculous about it – just learn how others before you have tamed the desert – and it was all a simple yet ingenious trick. And it’s a trick that his enemies take over themselves and start to use against him.

black schneider 4

Schneider’s seeming magic is further enhanced by the fact that he is always bumping into the same platoon and pulling the same trick over and over on them, and giving them a bad luck reputation. If Schneider had done it on several platoons, British HQ would have had to take these reports about Schneider more seriously. But as only one platoon seemed to get picked on it is poor old Sergeant Bill Kane who gets the blame and has to clear his name and reputation of his platoon.

Kane is reduced to the point where he has to take on Schneider and clear his reputation single-handed. It is ironic that it happens through being taken prisoner by Schneider, but Kane soon finds out that this is the only way he could learn Schneider’s secrets and start to use them himself. So we get some elements of the slave story of the protagonist being the only one who refuses to be broken by his captivity, which the other prisoners are resigned to, and find a way to escape. He not only does so but also gets his fellow prisoners back into action. And as this is the Battle of El Alamein, it would have been a stunning victory for them all and restore the name of the 3rd Platoon, and Black Schneider finally met his match in Sergeant Bill Kane.