The Twin She Couldn’t Trust! (artist Phil Gascoine)
My Family, My Foes! (artist Carlos Freixas)
The Shepherd Boy (text story)
Lucky’s Living Doll (artist Robert MacGillivray)
Dark Destiny (artist A.E. Allen)
The Sea Urchins (artist Audrey Fawley, writer Linda Blake) – text story
Poochy – cartoon
Sylvie on a String (artist Tony Highmore)
Tell Us about It! (letters page)
Swim to Safety! (artist Phil Townsend)
Tilly’s Magic Tranny (artist Jim Baikie)
Are You a Sparkler? (quiz)
A Christmas Miracle (artist Jim Baikie) – complete story
School for Sports (artist Dudley Wynne)
He’s Grown Up! (Neil Reid)
Christmas is coming, so we continue our tour of older titles with the June Christmas issue from 1973. This was the last Christmas issue June ever published. On 22 June 1974 she merged into Tammy. Several of the June artists would also join the Jinty team as regulars when it started in May 1974: Jim Baikie, Phil Gascoine and Phil Townsend. Carlos Freixas, Audrey Fawley and Robert MacGillivray, who were also regulars on the June team, would also feature on the Jinty team, but not as regulars. These artists were Jinty’s biggest legacy from June. Jinty would also inherit a number of reprints from June as well, such as Strange Stories repackaged as Gypsy Rose stories and Barracuda Bay.
June, who would go through a merger in six months’ time, is still going through her current merger with Pixie. Mini Ha-Ha, a cartoon about a Red Indian girl, is one that really carried over from Pixie, but would not join the Tammy & June merger. Bessie Bunter, who came from the School Friend merger, would continue in the merger with Tammy. So would The Strangest Stories Ever Told, though currently it is not running in June.
Although the Storyteller is not running, the Christmas issue does have a spooky Christmas story by Jim Baikie. It is reproduced here for the benefit of Jim Baikie fans. Also reproduced here is the Bessie Bunter Christmas story, about a giant Christmas pudding. So giant you could fit people into it. And what’s this with goblins? It’s Christmas, not Halloween.
Also celebrating Christmas are Lucky’s Living Doll, two text stories and a quiz: Are You a Sparkler? The artist illustrating the quiz is the same artist who illustrated a number of Jinty’s quizzes.
Rather than give the usual potted summaries of the picture stories in the issue, I have chosen to feature panels from them. This is to give an indication what our Jinty artists got up to in June before they joined the Jinty team five months later, a month before June folded.
Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie (artist Robert MacGillivray)
The Chain Gang Champions (artist Juan Garcia Quiros? writer Gerry Finley-Day?) – first episode
A New Leaf for Nancy (artist John Armstrong)
Back-Stab Ballerina (artist Miguel Quesada)
School for Snobs (artist J. Badesa, writer Pat Mills)
Wee Sue (artist Mario Capaldi)
Granny’s Town (artist Douglas Perry, writer Pat Mills)
No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
It’s part 3 of our Tammy round robin, and 10 November 1973 has been selected for 1973. It is three weeks into the Sandie merger. The happy, pretty girl covers Tammy had since her first issue have gone. In their place are the start of the humorous Cover Girl covers that would remain on the cover until late 1980. At the moment we only seem to have one Cover Girl. The cover gives the impression the Cover Girls are still in the early days compared to how they ran later on, but the cover is still funny with the joke of getting splashed by a dry cleaning company car.
Wee Sue was one of the stories to come over from Sandie. It is a surprising choice because the original Sue story finished a long time ago and no sequel appeared in Sandie. Moreover, Sue has had a complete overhaul, shifting from a posh academy as a scholarship girl to a comprehensive in an industrial town, Milltown. Bully teacher Miss Bigger is another change from the original, in which she didn’t appear at all.
In the Wee Sue episode, Sue has lost the freckles she had when she first debuted in the merger. Her spiky bob is starting to loosen a bit, but makes her look like an unmade bed. In the story, Miss Bigger thinks Wee Sue is encouraging the girls into hunger strike over school dinners and tries to stop it by force-feeding Sue! Then Sue runs amok in the canteen, smashing the dinners. What the heck’s gotten into her? Her nose has told her that there is an outbreak of food poisoning afoot, and the school is full of praises for Sue saving everyone. Well, nearly everyone. Miss Bigger ate some of the tainted food and now she’s in bed, and Sue besting her again is making her even sicker.
Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie also came over from Sandie. Uncle Meanie still has his original nose from Sandie and has not yet acquired the bulbous nose that Robert MacGillivray will later give to Miss Bigger when he takes over the Wee Sue strip. Uncle Meanie now has a wife, Jeannie’s Aunt Martha, who really has to put up with his meanness. And in the story this week? Hoots! Uncle Meanie has been knocked off his perch as Britain’s Number 1 meanie! The title has been awarded to a Miss Pincher. When the family meet Miss Pincher, they are forced to admit she outstrips even Uncle Meanie for meanness. Uncle Meanie is not having that. He’s in shock and deeply jealous, but why is he all nice and gentlemanly to Miss Pincher? Is he taking it better than the family think – or is he plotting something to reclaim his title?
We have a new story this week, “The Chain Gang Champions”. Rella Aston is a promising athlete like her father before he was crippled. They haven’t the money for proper training or an operation to cure her father. A woman named Stein has overheard, and goes to “The Duchess”, who offers Rella the chance to join a group of British champions. Rella thinks it is a miracle, but from the looks of Stein and what she’s thinking, Rella should have remembered the old adage: “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”
“Granny’s Town”, “Two-Faced Teesha”, “Back-Stab Ballerina” and “A New Leaf for Nancy” (reprinted Misty annual 1980) are new stories that began with the merger.
Two-faced Teesha is a devious, spiteful girl. She has just moved to the country. She surprises her father when she opts for the country school over a snob school, the type of school she used to attend in the past. Her reason? She has met some of the girls and thinks it will be easy to stir up trouble for them.
Nancy’s family have made a depressing move to a rundown house after Dad loses his job, but Nancy discovers a tree in the garden that has powers to make things better for her. The trouble is, its power does not seem to be reliable and sometimes makes things worse.
The “Back-Stab Ballerina” is Rita Radley, who secretly makes trouble for her old friend June Day when they go to ballet school. This week Rita gets June into trouble with the other girls because they have started sticking up for her.
In “Granny’s Town”, grannies rule and anyone who crosses them is soon forced to leave quickly. This week it’s the turn of the donkey man who won’t allow the grannies to enjoy themselves on the beach. Their response is to stake him out on the croquet lawn and leave him to roast under the sun. Jen Young, the only one who refuses to be intimidated, rescues him, but later gets a nasty warning from the grannies to back off. The blurb for next week warns she will have to watch out even more.
“School for Snobs” and “No Tears for Molly” are the Tammy stories that have continued into the merger. In the Molly story, something or someone is putting the wind up bully butler Pickering. He’s convinced it’s a ghost and he’s running scared. He even faints in the cellar!
“School for Snobs” is a special school designed to cure girls of snobbery. This week it is curing a snob who drives off servants with her bullying. After being served by Hermione Snoot, the headmistress of the school, the snob is wishing she hadn’t driven those servants off.
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.
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.
Following the interview of John Wagner which ran on this blog a few days ago, I thought I would dig out my few issues of Sandie (only four, acquired somewhat at random). Because I have so few issues, and none of them are significant ones such as the first or last ones published, it didn’t seem worth reviewing them individually. Here therefore is something of an overview of this short-lived title – limited in scope by having so few originals to draw on directly, but I have tried to also bring together other relevant comments on this site and elsewhere, to give a wider context.
Let’s start with the contents of the four issues I do have:
Sandie 17 March 1973: Angela Angel-Face (artist Rodrigo Comos), Connie Courageous (unknown artist ‘Merry’), The Captives of Terror Island (artist Juan Escandell Torres, writer Terence Magee), Supergirl Sally (artist A. E. Allen), Isla and the Ice Maiden, Anna and the Circus, Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown), Dawn at Dead-End Street (artist Bill Baker), Pop portrait: Paul Newman, Lindy and the last Lilliputians, The Nine Lives of Nat the Cat (artist José Casanovas), Quiz Kid Queenie (artist Luis Bermejo)
Sandie 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 (unknown artist ‘Merry’) – 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, Sisters in Sorrow (artist Roy Newby)
Sandie 11 August 1973: The House of Toys (artist Douglas Perry), Noelle’s Ark (unknown artist ‘Merry’) – first episode, Wyn and the Witch (artist A. E. Allen), The Golden Shark (artist Santiago Hernandez), Cherry in Chains (artist Joan Boix), Slaves of the Eye (artist Joan Boix), Dancing to Danger, Bridie at the Fair (artist Leslie Otway), All Against Alice , Cinderella Superstar (artist ?Joan Boix)
Sandie 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 (unknown artist ‘Merry’), Cherry in Chains (artist Joan Boix), The Golden Shark (artist Santiago Hernandez), Dancing to Danger – last episode, Bridie at the Fair (artist Leslie Otway), Sister to a Star, Cinderella Superstar (artist ?Joan Boix)
There’s lots of good stuff in these issues, though I did find the covers rather old-fashioned, with mostly very blocky designs. Some of the inside content is rather old-fashioned too, and/or show possible signs of being reprinted from elsewhere. “The Golden Shark” is hand-lettered, and “Dancing to Danger” and “Bridie At The Fair” are lettered using a different font or technique to the other strips. The latter two are also only two pages long per episode, and have a painted aspect to the title element – I take these to have been reprinted from much earlier titles where there may have been an option to use more sophisticated colour printing.
Some of my interest in this title is in how it might have influenced, or been influenced by, work that is more directly related to Jinty. For instance, “Isla and the Ice Maiden” has an orphaned girl learning how to ice skate as she is taught by a mysterious woman: both the basic plot set-up and the visual design of the mystery woman is quite reminiscent of the Jinty story “Spirit of the Lake”. Likewise, “Lindy and the Last Lilliputians” has some wee travellers from Lilliput travel to stay with Lindy, a descendant of Lemuel Gulliver – who they claim must look after them. It sounds like the story has quite a lot of differences from Jinty‘s “A Girl Called Gulliver”, but there are certainly some big overlaps too.
In terms of the artists included, there is a fair amount of overlap with the slightly later titles I am more familiar with – with representation from José Casanovas, Rodrigo Comos, Douglas Perry, Santiago Hernandez, and the unknown artist who drew “Merry at Misery House” and so many other stories. Obviously there are many artists unknown to me, also: the very striking Joan Boix, who drew “The Slaves of the Eye”, is very well represented inside these pages. There are a couple of stories where it’s hard to decide if the art is by Joan Boix’s, or by Cándido Ruiz Pueyo’s. These are “Cinderella Superstar” and “All Against Alice”. I would be inclined to think these both contained Boix’s art if not for the fact that this would imply that there might be as many as four stories by the same artist in one issue! I suppose this is not impossible but still. On balance, I think that “Cinderella Superstar” is likely to be Boix’s work (though it is not signed in any of the issues I have, unlike “Cherry in Chains” and “Slaves of the Eye”). “All Against Alice” is not close enough for me to assign to Boix – it looks more like Pueyo’s work, though again not really definitively enough for me to say so for sure.
On the post with the interview with John Wagner, I asked for people’s impressions of the title compared to others from that era. Mistyfan commented to say that “Sandie had more regulars than Tammy, particularly “Wee Sue”. She also had a lot of circus themed stories such as “Sister to a Star”, “Cherry in Chains” and “Slave of the Trapeze”. Far more than either Tammy or Jinty. She followed the in vein of Tammy in having Cinderella and slave stories.” I haven’t got enough issues to have much representation of regular strips – there’s the start of “Jeannie and her Uncle Meanie”; “Nat the Cat” was so long-running as to perhaps count; and I do have two separate Angela Angel-Face stories in this short sample.
The circus theme is absolutely inescapable even in just these few issues, though! “Anna and the Circus” is in the March issue above, and the August and September issues include “Cherry in Chains” and “Sister to a Star”. There are very few circus-themed stories in Jinty, and not many in Tammy either, so this feels like a real unique selling point for this title. Of course there are also plenty of cinderella stories, ballet stories, and the like – a lot of what’s in the pages wouldn’t look out of place in Jinty or Tammy (and indeed some was reprinted in annuals and summer specials).
Mistyfan also previously posted on this site about the launch of Sandie and about issue 7 of the title – representing the earlier issues of the title. But after the title came to an end it still continued to make something of an impact as stories had a life after death. Quite a few of the stories were translated into the Dutch market: for instance “Sandra Must Dance”, “The Return of Rena”, “Lorna’s Lonely Days”, “Anna’s Forbidden Friend”, and “Peggy in the Middle”. Of course “Wee Sue” and “Jeannie and her Uncle Meanie” had an ongoing life in the pages of other comics titles thereafter, as did others (more briefly). “Angela Angel-Face” was reprinted in Jinty but generally reckoned to be a very weak offering in that title, and “School of No Escape” was reprinted in the Misty 1980 annual.
So Sandie feels a little old-fashioned to me, and a little quirky with its love of circus stories (quite why so many of them were used, I’m not sure – they make for a good story backdrop but aren’t quite as flexible a story theme as the sports or SF themes that Jinty readers liked, or of course the spooky tales of Misty). It has quite a bit of overlap of stories or of artists with the titles I am more familiar with, and some cracking content – I’d like to read more of the exciting “Noelle’s Ark” which I give below (and which again has some overlap with a classic Jinty story – “Fran of the Floods”). At this point it feels to me a bit like a fore-runner of the more fully-developed, stronger Jinty/Tammy/Misty stable – but at the same time, I know readers who have only found this title recently and have become real converts. I will seek out more…