Category Archives: 1981

My Strange Sister [1981]

Sample Images

Strange Sister 1Strange Sister 2Strange Sister 3

Published: Dreamer #1 (19 September 1981) – 10 (21 November 1981)

Episodes: 10

Artist: Photo story

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: Girl Monthly #25, June 1988

Dreamer is a little-known photo story comic. Like many other new IPC titles of the 1980s it did not last long, and it became the first title to merge into Girl 2. It looks like Dreamer liked to have cute little animals decorating her bottom margins too. “My Strange Sister” was one of the stories in Dreamer’s very first lineup. Another of her first stories, “Who Stole Samantha?”, was written by Alison Christie.

Plot

Joanne Baxter tells her own story. She had once been an aspiring gymnast. But she has been confined to a wheelchair ever since a car knocked her down when she came out from her last gymnastics display. Joanne’s older sister Eve has been a tremendous help to her since the accident. Joanne is making attempts to walk again, but her legs won’t obey her.

Joanne can’t avoid reminders of her old life, such as a window display of sports gear or music from her last gymnastics display playing. She finds them painful reminders of course, but they are having even more bizarre effects on Eve. Eve seems to go off into a sort of trance, disappears and leaves the wheelchair-bound Joanne deserted, and then reappears with no apparent memory of what she did. Incidents like this are becoming ever more frequent. Joanne is baffled and concerned at Eve’s strange behaviour and can’t understand the reason for it at all. Eve’s behaviour is also putting a real strain on their relationship; they begin to quarrel and Joanne feels they are becoming like strangers.

Eve’s strange behaviour grows even more bizarre when her best friend Candy tries to take her out to the disco. Eve becomes inexplicably terrified and hides herself from Candy. Eve takes Joanne out to the disco instead, but another odd incident occurs along the way. They see a cat walking along a wall, which makes Eve inexplicably upset and she shoos it away. She says she does not want to be reminded, she wants to forget how it was…

At the disco, Eve’s strange behaviour acts up again when the music from Joanne’s last gymnastics display is played. This time she phones up Candy and arranges to see her outside. Joanne is watching them, but can’t hear the conversation. When Eve sees Joanne is watching them, she carts her off home in a bad temper, and accuses Joanne of spying on her.

On the way home, a police siren makes Eve’s strange behaviour act up again, and this time it is a real performance: Eve screams “Aagh, no!”, and then she runs off. When Joanne finds Eve, she is trying to hide. When Joanne asks her who she is hiding from, Eve snaps at her. She says Joanne knows that and she wouldn’t be surprised if Joanne had sent them after her. Eve’s outbursts prompt Joanne to attempt to walk, but she fails. Eve gets her back into her wheelchair and home, and again acts like she does not remember what happened.

The fact that it was a police siren has Joanne thinking that Eve is acting this way because she has done something wrong and is feeling guilty. Realising it must have something to do with Candy, Joanne phones Candy for an explanation. But Candy acts just as strangely. She says to stop pestering. More tellingly, she says: “Just because she feels guilty, that’s no reason why I should…even if I was with her that night.” When Joanne asks what Candy is talking about, Candy tells her that she jolly well knows and “Eve’s just being stupid about it”. She then hangs up, saying she isn’t saying anymore and wants to be left alone.

Eve realises Joanne was phoning Candy and accuses her of spying again. When Joanne says phoning Candy is not a crime, Eve’s odd behaviour acts up again at the word “crime”. She starts rambling about where she can go, where she can hide, and she must get away… Joanne realises that Eve seems to be hearing some weird voice in her head when she has these strange bouts of behaviour.

Next morning, Eve runs away. Joanne finds a note saying: “I don’t want your hatred as I couldn’t face that and I just can’t forget that night. It haunts me more and more so I’ve got to leave home for a while. Tell Mum not to worry.”

Joanne has not been telling her mother what is going on because she did not want her to worry, and she does not tell Mum about Eve’s disappearance either. But when Candy comes around to apologise for that phone call, Joanne shows her the note. Candy says she was afraid something like this might happen. Candy takes Joanne out to look for Eve while she explains what is wrong: Eve is blaming herself for Joanne’s accident. On the night of the gymnastics display, she and Candy slipped out to the car park. They found an unlocked car and played around inside for a bit with the steering wheel. This happened to be the car that knocked Joanne down as she came out from the gymnastics display. Eve thinks their fooling around in the car did something to it that caused the brakes to fail.

Joanne says that’s ridiculous. Candy agrees, so she does not blame herself in the way Eve does, but Eve evidently can’t stop blaming herself. The reason she was so helpful after the accident was to help her forget what happened. But now her guilt is resurfacing and intensifying, particularly at any reminder of the accident, such as the music, the cat on the wall (like Joanne on the beam), and emergency sirens.

After a long search they decide to check out the scene of the accident. Sure enough, there is Eve in one of her trance-like states. A car is approaching, but Eve is not moving or listening to Joanne’s warnings about the car. Joanne realises Eve thinks the only way to pay her debt is to get herself run over too. Desperation to save Eve prompts Joanne’s legs to move and she manages to push Eve to safety. Joanne can use her legs again, and tells Eve the accident had nothing to do with her; the car just skidded on a patch of oil. Joanne is very grateful to Eve for curing her, and Eve is relieved to be free of her guilt.

Thoughts

There have been many stories in girls’ comics where the protagonist is the architect of her own misfortunes because she keeps blaming herself for an accident. Usually it’s for some ridiculous reason or something that was not entirely her fault e.g. “The Black-and-White World of Shirley Grey” (Tammy), “Tearaway Trisha” (Jinty), and to some extent, “Tricia’s Tragedy” (Jinty).

But in this case the guilt complex formula is turned right on its head because it’s being told from another person’s point of view. This gives it a whole new take that’s completely different. In this case it’s the sister, Joanne, who’s also the accident girl. In so doing, the guilt complex story is turned into a mystery story because Joanne does not know Eve is blaming herself for the accident. She can’t understand what the reason is for Eve’s strange conduct and clearly unravelling mentality. Eve’s strange conduct and the mystery of it all are also putting severe strain on the sisters’ relationship and causing a rift between them, which compounds the situation. Having Joanne telling the story herself gives the reader further insight into Joanne’s emotional and mental reactions to the situation as well as seeing things from her point of view. This heightens the drama and tension of the story.

Adding to Joanne’s distress over her oddly behaving sister is that she is pretty much on her own, and she’s further impaired by being confined to a wheelchair. Joanne just won’t tell her mother what is going on, not even when Eve runs off. If the mother had known, she would certainly have screamed at Joanne for not telling her sooner.

It is fortunate that Candy knew the reason, but it would have made things simpler if she had spoken up, especially if she was worried that Eve might do something really stupid like running away. Her rudeness to Joanne on the phone could have come from growing exasperation at Eve blaming herself for such a ridiculous reason. We can just hear her saying, “Oh, come on, Eve, what could you have possibly done to the car to make the brakes fail? For God’s sake, will you please stop going on about it? It’s ridiculous!” All the same, why she says what she says to Joanne is a bit hard to fathom. But of course the mystery has to be kept up for as long as possible.

It is odd and rather unbelievable that Eve did not know the car just skidded on some oil while Joanne knew it. It would have been more convincing for it simply to have been bad luck or something. The way in which Joanne suddenly regains the use of her legs is a bit clichéd, but the story wisely gave hints that Joanne might regain the use of her legs if some blockage could be overcome. Desperation to save a loved one would be a most effective way of shifting it, and we are not really surprised to see Joanne lose the need for her wheelchair in the end. It would also help Eve to shed her guilt, something she may not have done even if Joanna had simply told her to stop blaming herself.

 

No Haven for Hayley [1981]

Sample Images

Hayley 1Hayley 2Hayley 3

Published: Tammy 21 March – 23 May 1981

Episodes: 10

Artist: Mario Capaldi

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: none known

Plot

Mrs Moore’s home is known as “the Haven” because she works so much for charity. Unfortunately Mrs Moore is exhibiting symptoms of a workaholic. She is so busy and over-zealous with charity projects, and cramming her life with so many charity works that she is neglecting her own daughter, Hayley, and letting her down all the time. She takes Hayley for granted and makes her a dumping ground for tasks she has agreed to take on but has no time for because her schedule is too crowded. Worst of all, Mum never stops to listen to Hayley or help Hayley with any problems. Even if Mum does listen a bit, she just doesn’t seem to understand what Hayley is talking about and Hayley just can’t get through to her. Ironically, one of Mum’s campaigns is for “latch-key” children.

The situation gets worse when Mum decides to foster problem children – on top of all her other work. Typically for Mum, she applies for fostering without consulting or even telling Hayley beforehand; she takes it for granted that Hayley will help out.

Also typically for Mum, she lumbers Hayley with the job of minding the foster children because she won’t make the time for it with all her other charity work. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the fostering itself is a nightmare for Hayley. First she is saddled with a pair of horrors who take over her room, mess up her things and constantly play tricks on her, but Mum won’t let Hayley even raise her voice to them.

But if Hayley thought those two horrors made her life hell, they are nothing on the real problem child to follow, Fenella Briars. Fenella comes from the long line of scheming foster children who take advantage of anyone who fosters them and push out the protagonist with sneaky tricks. This is what she proceeds to do with Hayley and succeeds in turning Mum and everyone at school with her tricks while taking advantage of them all and playing on their sympathy and gullibility.

Then, when Fenella tries to con hospital patients out of money during another of Mum’s charity works, a Nurse Harris catches her out. Fenella tries to put the blame on Hayley, but senses Nurse Harris has seen through her. Indeed Nurse Harris has, and tells Hayley to put Mum in touch with her so she can put her straight about Fenella. But Fenella makes a hasty exit from the Haven before they can do so, on pretext that Hayley is making her feel unwelcome there. And communications being what they are between Hayley and her mother, Mum is not put straight about Fenella and thinks Hayley’s ‘spite’ is the reason for her fostering failure. As a result, Mum loses faith in Hayley, thinks Hayley is turning selfish, and their relationship and communication problems grow even worse.

This misunderstanding has devastating consequences when Hayley organises a door-to-door collection for her school. Mum, as usual, is too busy to listen or help. But worse, Mum never told Hayley that she had been running three door-to-door collections along the streets that Hayley is using for her collection because of her lack of faith in Hayley because of Fenella. The result? People are angry about yet another door-to-door collection so soon after the others, so the collection turns into a disaster. Hayley’s fellow collectors blame her for it and don’t listen to her protests that Mum never told her about the other collections.

When Hayley confronts her mother over the door-to-door collections, Mum explodes over her fostering disappointment and shouts at Hayley. This is too much for Hayley. She blunders out of the house in tears and gets hit by a car. During a semi-conscious state Hayley rambles her problems with Mum to Sister Harris, who then has a serious talk with Mum. Presumably she also puts Mum wise about Fenella at long last, though the serial does not record this or Mum’s reaction.

Mum tells Hayley that she has used “a whole host of good deeds” to fill the gap left in her life following the death of Hayley’s father. But she now realises she has overdone it so much that she crowded Hayley out. Hayley agrees to forgive Mum and they are reconciled.

Six months later, everything has improved for both Hayley and her mother. Mum and Hayley now co-operate as a team on charity projects, with Mum listening to Hayley and even asking her for suggestions. For Hayley, “The Haven” is at last living up to its name.

Thoughts

This is a disturbing and well-crafted exploration of the damage that poor listening and breakdowns in communication can inflict on a relationship. It also proves that effective communication is essential not only for the people in the relationship, but also for the people surrounding them. As the communications between mother and daughter break down, it is not just Hayley who suffers. The bad communications also have an effect at Hayley’s school and, ironically, they undermine Mum’s charity work as well. Perhaps the greatest irony is when Hayley wants to organise her own door-to-door collection, but Mum, as usual, is too busy to listen or help. If Mum had just spared a few moments to listen, all that would have been avoided and she would have taken great pride in seeing Hayley run her own charity collection.

The serial makes deft and almost cruel use of irony to reinforce its points; for example, Mum remonstrating Hayley for being “selfish” on that fateful night, while she herself is selfish in thinking only of her work. It shows there is more than one kind of selfishness, and parents can take their children for granted, too.

The introduction of the foster children, and also a gang of yobs who attack Hayley, add the villainy that intensifies Hayley’s already-existing problems with Mum to the breaking point in the climax. Fenella’s ‘cuckoo-in-the-nest’ scheming has been used countless times in girls’ comics, especially in DCT titles. On this occasion it is used as a plot element rather than driving the plot itself, which makes it a bit different. But even without Fenella’s scheming, Mum’s fostering plans were clearly doomed from the start because she was just too busy, lacked the cohesion with Hayley to work effectively with a problem child for the reasons stated above, and it is obvious she never even thought the idea through properly in the first place.

The reason Mum made herself way too busy with charity work – to compensate for the death of her husband – is credible and rooted in realism. We can even imagine that Mum became addicted to charity work. But she became so consumed with charity work that she lost sight of other things in life, especially Hayley. Girls’ comics have frequently warned about not taking things to extremes (e.g. Jinty’s “Worlds Apart”) and do things in moderation. Apparently, even good things like charity work or generosity should be done in moderation as well, because taking them too far could do more harm than the good they are meant to do. DCT made similar points with stories like “Hard Times for Helen” and “Minnie the Meanie”, both from Judy.

The resolution of the story – Hayley getting hit by a car, rambling her problems to a person in authority who then has a word with Mum – is hardly new in girls’ comics. For example, “Hard Times for Helen” used a similar resolution. But what makes the plotting better in this case is that the accident occurs at the end of the penultimate episode. This enables the whole of the final episode to be used for the resolution of the story instead of a few panels crammed onto the last page, so there is more scope for development of the resolution. We are even shown panels of just how things have changed for Hayley after she was discharged from hospital, not just Mum apologising and promising things are going to be different, as Helen’s mother does at the end of “Hard Times for Helen”. The only shortcoming is that we are not shown Mum’s reaction when Nurse Harris tells her the truth about Fenella and that she had been wrongly blaming Hayley. Considering that the misunderstanding over Fenella is what caused the accident in the first place, not showing how the misunderstanding is resolved is glaring. Perhaps they felt they didn’t have the room to cover it, but couldn’t they have tried to squeeze in an extra line or two to do so? It would have made the ending more satisfying for the readers.

 

Entry Forbidden! [1981]

Entry Forbidden cover

Published: Commando War Stories in Pictures #1493

Artist: (updated to add) Gordon Livingstone

Writer: Unknown

Here’s another of our dips into something different. I have some Commandos in my collection, and “Entry Forbidden!” is one of my particular favourites.

Plot

In 1944, two sons on both sides of World War II say goodbye to their parents and go to war: Arnold “Scruffy” Scroggs of England says goodbye to his mother as he goes off to join the Downshires and Max Rudel of Germany says goodbye to his father Erich as he goes off to join the S.S. The two sets of parents and sons are polar opposites of each other.

Entry Forbidden 1

Max Rudel and his Nazi scientist father Erich Rudel are both evil and fanatical Nazis. Personality-wise, Max has everything it takes to go far in the S.S., which he is soon doing although his version of iron discipline does not make him popular with his men. Max’s only real shortcoming, which earns him the nickname “Old Sniffy”, is a perpetual running cold that never goes away.

Max’s cold is the legacy of germ warfare that Erich Rudel is having one Gustav Dietrich develop against the Allies. Gustav, being a more principled man than the Rudels, is troubled by the ethical and destructive implications of the virus he is being pressured to develop against the Allies. Gustav’s conscience grows worse when a series of leaks occur and the virus gets loose. Among those who fall foul to the virus is Max Rudel. Max survives, but his immune system is compromised so badly that he is left with that permanent cold he can never shrug off. When another leak occurs, which kills people, it is the last straw for Gustav. He disappears from the lab and goes into hiding in shabby flats in the back streets of Berlin. Erich Rudel is furious at this because the project is stalled without Gustav.

Another reason for aggravation between the Rudels and the Dietrichs is that Max and Gustav’s son Oskar have been enemies since they were children because Oskar stood up to Max when he bullied smaller boys in the playground (figures). Oskar now serves in the Wehrmacht. He is an honourable soldier and disapproves of the way the S.S. is infecting the Wehrmacht with their S.S. ways. When Oskar is put in charge of his own unit later in the story he does his best to counter that influence as much as possible and ensure his men behave honourably. Unlike Max Rudel, Oskar is popular with his squad.

Entry Forbidden 2

Back to Arthur Scroggs now. Personality-wise, Arthur Scroggs is everything Max Rudel is not: kind, helpful, good-humoured and considerate. He is also a bit clownish and has an amiability that helps him cope with the grind of basic training and heckling discipline. The influence of Arnold’s mother on him is so profound it will resonate throughout the story. For example, Scroggs gets on the nerves of everyone in the barracks with the pearls of wisdom his mother gives him in her letters, and they are just about strangling him.

When it comes to basic training, Scroggs is a regular Gomer Pyle. The heart and enthusiasm are there, but wearing a uniform unsettles Scroggs and he cannot seem to get the hang of basic training, which he constantly makes a mess of. This drives Sergeant “Corky” Carew to constant distraction. All the same, Corky is determined to make a soldier out of the ungainly Scroggs “even if it kills him” – “or me” he adds inwardly. Yep, Corky is definitely the Sergeant Carter of the piece.

Somehow, Scroggs makes it through basic training. Under Corky’s command, Scroggs and his regiment start fighting on the Continent in the wake of D-Day. He still has problems with his awkwardness, such as keeping his helmet straight. The story has said that Arnold Scroggs will be more than a match for Max Rudel, but there seems to be no sign of that yet.

Entry Forbidden 3

Then Corky finally succeeds in making a soldier out of Scroggs, though not quite in the way he imagined. Corky’s nerves and mental capabilities begin to deteriorate from war-weariness as they fight pockets of German resistance. Corky finally goes to pieces during one such attack at a critical moment when his regiment need him to get them out of the tight spot they are in. Seeing this, the gawky Scroggs suddenly becomes a courageous soldier with a calculating mind. Scroggs assumes command himself while pretending to the others it is Corky’s plan. He decides grenades are the answer, but there are not enough. So he throws potatoes, which the Germans mistake for grenades. As planned, this scares them out into the open for the Downshires to mop up.

Fortunately Corky returns to his old self. He is impressed with Scroggs’s cleverness and is relieved to see Scroggs is not telling tales on him. From then on he respects Scroggs – though of course he does not show it, and Scroggs is still a bit of a klutz in any case. Corky remains the same old barking sergeant towards Scroggs, which Scroggs is glad to see again.

Meanwhile, Oskar Dietrich comes home with a war wound. He knows through coded messages what his father has done and where he is hiding. But Max Rudel spots Oskar and puts a tail on him. Despite Oskar’s best efforts to shake off the tail, the tail succeeds in following him all the way to Gustav’s hideout. After Oskar leaves, Max arrests Gustav. The germ warfare research has been relocated to an old house miles from Berlin because of Allied bombing. Gustav flatly refuses to resume work on the virus, so he is kept in a cell there.

Oskar recovers and resumes fighting, now as a sergeant in charge of his very own squad in a strikeback at the Allied advance. (As will be seen, Oskar’s new command means he is having even more clashes with the S.S. and their evil influence over the Wehrmacht.) They are going up against the Downshires, and the strikeback is proving too strong for the Downshires. Corky and Scroggs become separated from their unit and run out of ammunition. This leaves them no choice but to surrender – to none other than Oskar Dietrich.

Then S.S. Major Helmut Meyer (whose unit is nicknamed “The Vultures” by Oskar’s squad) arrives on the scene. He and Oskar have clashed before, and they do so again over the POWs. Oskar wants them dealt with according the rules of war and it’s his battle zone after all. But Meyer has orders from the S.S. to have them shot, and furious at Oskar’s stance, draws on him. A struggle ensues, which ends with Meyer’s gun going off and he is shot dead. Oskar is in big trouble over this, for Meyer was a big man in the S.S.

Entry Forbidden 5

Scroggs and Corky take advantage of the Germans being distracted by Meyer’s death to break free and make a run for it. The Germans put up little pursuit; the two units are on the verge of fighting each other. Wishing to avoid a bloodbath, Oskar orders his men to stand down, and goes into custody of the S.S. Ostensibly, this is to clear the matter up, but in reality Oskar and his squad know there is little hope for him.

Oskar soon finds that things have gone from bad to worse for him once Max Rudel learns what happened from the dispatches. He orders Oskar to be brought to the new laboratory and use him as a hostage to blackmail Gustav into resuming the research. Gustav agrees to give in for Oskar’s sake, but secretly he decides to find a way to destroy his work if he does make the breakthrough. For this, Gustav is about to find he has help.

Meanwhile, a burst tyre gives Oskar the opportunity to make a run for it. The S.S. men are soon hot in pursuit and are on the verge of recapturing Oskar by putting a bullet in his leg. However, Corky and Scroggs, who have been trying unsuccessfully to find their lines, chance upon the spot. Realising what is going on, they knock the S.S. men out and save Oskar.

Oskar can speak English. He explains to Corky and Scroggs about his father and the virus development and asks for their help. Of course they agree to it. They set out for the house, which Oskar’s guards had informed him about.

At the house, Gustav finds a friend in Johann the butler. Johann informs Gustav about Oskar’s escape, which he overheard from the guards. Johann hates the S.S. (his nephew got shot by Max Rudel) and the way the S.S. have commandeered the house. He shows Gustav a secret passage down to a cellar, which is full of crates containing dynamite that he secretly transferred from an old quarry after the hated S.S. took over the house. The idea is, of course, to blow them and the entire house sky high.

Oskar and the Allied soldiers arrive and work their way in by taking out the guards one by one. Max Rudel, who has also arrived, recognises Oskar’s voice and conceals himself in a cupboard to cut them down, which he almost does with Oskar. Fortunately for Oskar, violent sneezing from that persistent cold alerts Scroggs to Max’s hiding place. He now fulfils the story’s promise that he will be more than a match for Max Rudel by riddling the cupboard with gunfire. Max Rudel dies before he even hits the floor.

When Oskar and the Allied soldiers find Gustav, he explains about the dynamite and Johann has rigged it to go off in a few minutes. He declines to go with them, saying he has a score to settle with Erich Rudel, who is due any moment. Oskar realises his father has chosen to die with his work and he says his last goodbye.

Then Oskar and the Allied soldiers find a squad of newly arrived S.S. soldiers have cut off their escape. Scroggs scares them off with his ‘potato bluff’. He throws a bottle at them that he has led them to believe contains the deadly virus (in fact, it is a bottle of his mother’s cough remedy). Once the house is clear of the S.S. soldiers, Oskar and the Allied soldiers are free to escape the house and take refuge in the woods, and the soldiers are too preoccupied to pursue them.

Entry Forbidden 6

Erich Rudel arrives, knowing nothing about what is going on or his son’s death. He is concerned by the house looking deserted and no guards seem to be around. This puts him in a particularly nasty mood when he finds Gustav appears to be about to desert as well. So he pulls a gun on Gustav and threatens to shoot him. Gustav tells Erich he is too late – they and the project are all about to come to an end. Misunderstanding this, Erich shoots Gustav, saying he will continue the work himself. With his dying breath, Gustav tells Erich: “I think not. You haven’t the time now.” Again misunderstanding Gustav, Erich laughs crazily, and he gloats over Gustav’s dead body that he is going to go on with the project until he brings victory and glory to the Reich…

But then the dynamite goes off. It blows up the house, Erich, Gustav’s work, and also Johann, who chose to die with the house as well. From the woods, Oskar and the Allied soldiers watch the devastation. Oskar throws in his lot with the Allied cause because of his trouble with the S.S., and heads off with Corky and Scroggs to find the Allied lines.

Thoughts

Commando was very strong on pointing out that not all Germans who fought in World War II were evil, cruel and brutal Nazis, nor did they all support Hitler. Many soldiers who fought in the German armies, navy and airforce fought for their country rather than for Hitler. The Wehrmacht and the S.S. were at constant odds because the former did not approve of the brutality of the latter, and Commando often used this to create sympathetic soldiers who fought on the side of the Germans. But of course it never showed any sympathetic officers in the Gestapo and S.S. Commando made that distinction very clear, and arguably none more so than the characters of Sergeant Oskar Dietrich and S.S. Max Rudel, who are the epitomes of it in human form.

The story makes a further point that not all German civilians supported Hitler or Nazism either. There were good Germans who did not approve of Nazism and its cruelties, and many of them went against it, such as the resistance group “The White Rose”. We see this portrayed in the characters of Gustav Dietrich and Johann the butler, whose courage is so immense they are willing to sacrifice themselves in order to destroy the germ warfare. Like the Allied soldier Arnold Scroggs, the good Germans are the opposites of the Rudel men and the other S.S. Nazis.

Cruel and rabid Nazis are all the villains are shown to be; it is the heroes of the story who are given the character development, and for this we are shown their progress on both sides of the war. Arnold Scroggs starts off as a humorous, good-natured character, which gives us light relief from the grimness of Gustav’s situation and the rise and cruelties of Max Rudel in the S.S. But the story tells us that Scroggs is destined for far more than a Gomer Pyle/Seargeant Carter career in the army. He is going to be the ultimate match for Max Rudel, so we all read on eagerly to see how that happens.

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Scroggs’s leap from gawkiness to a courageous and clever soldier is convincingly done, and it has a dash of humour (bluffing German soldiers with potatoes), which blends in with Scroggs’ genial character. We are shown that Scroggs has not changed completely and is still a bit clumsy, but he is finding his feet now in the army (when he doesn’t get them tangled on the march).

The story does not shy away from showing the horrors and PTSD effects of war either, as we see when war-weariness causes the heckling Sergeant Corky to have a breakdown and lose his grip in battle. It gives a more human dimension to Corky, and makes us all the more grateful to have the old Corky back. Afterwards, Corky is still given the odd touches to show he is a human being, such as a reference to his mother.

The artwork has a loose, angular style, which really brings out the gawkiness of Arnold Scroggs. Even in the more serious panels there are dashes of humour. One example is a panel (above) of the S.S. soldiers who corner our heroes at the house. The panel showing their reactions to Scroggs’ threat to throw the virus at them does raise a chuckle. The frightened expressions on the guards’ faces have a kind of goofy look, and the S.S. officer almost looks like he’s got buck teeth. It would be really great to know who the artist is (updated to add: we have been informed it is Gordon Livingstone). Commando would print credits in the latter part of its run, but this issue is not part of it.

Jinty & Penny 20 June 1981

jinty-cover-20-june-1981

  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Food for Fagin (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • What the Eye Doesn’t See – text story (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Russalka – Gypsy Rose (artist unknown)
  • Just the Job
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)
  • Worlds Apart (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Working Horses
  • Dracula’s Daughter (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

Pam tracks down runaway Steve during a school trip to London and that storyline is all wrapped up happily. It isn’t long before another one spins again, and it’s centred on a Pond Hill pupil named Mack who has a real ear for music. Mack’s also a non-white character, which is quite refreshing.

Mum has told Olivia her dog Fagin’s only getting one tin of food a day and it’s up to her to stump up the rest to fill Fagin’s bottomless tum. Olivia is doing her best, but is beginning to find Fagin is causing difficulties there.

In the text story, Sally is finding it difficult to accept wearing glasses. Then she finds the boy she fancies needs glasses too. So it’s a date thanks to glasses!

It’s another recycled Strange Story for Gypsy Rose. Russalka is a spirit who haunts the Danube River and lures men to their doom. Katerina discovers Russalka is trying to do this with her brother Georgi. What can she do?

In “Angela’s Angels” Sharon is getting into all sorts of scrapes helping a patient. First it’s getting her off a window ledge without falling and then helping to keep her boutique going – which causes a brush with the law. Meanwhile, the Angels’ bandaging class ends up looking like a casualty clearing station.

Sir Roger discovers they’re out of bread and needs to catch up to Gaye before the shops shut. Of course there are a lot of hjinks across the way, and it’s still not the end when they find the baker shut. They end up with floating bread as anything carried inside Sir Roger’s apparel becomes a ghost of its former self, while the baker finds floating coins coming out of his till. Meanwhile, there are hijinks in Jubilee Street over Japanese culture.

In “Worlds Apart”, the Russians cheat their way into winning the war against Britain and the British team is executed on exercise bicycles. Yes, even the death penalty in Ann’s dream world is governed by sport. But the joke’s on the Russians when Ann’s death by exercise bicycle causes the sports world to gradually disappear under their very eyes. The next dream world the girls arrive in starts with a medieval castle and they can’t move a muscle. Nor can anyone else around them. Looks like they’ve been that way for a long, long time because there are cobwebs all over the place, and all over them too.

In “Dracula’s Daughter” it’s Mr Graves’ first day as headmaster of Castlegate. It’s a nightmare for everyone, even the teachers. Is that a headmaster or Hitler addressing the school? The girls are calling it “Dracula”.

Alley Cat is back this week. He’s got a toothache but is scared of the dentist, so he tries some DIY dentistry. The results give the dentist a real laugh.

Jinty & Penny 2 May 1981

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This week’s text story should delight readers who ever met a bully teacher. The appropriately named Miss Bull (which lends itself to “Bully-bonce”, “Bossy Bully” or, most often, “Bully”) runs her sports classes like a drill sergeant. So the girls are dismayed when Bully pushes her way into coming on their half-term camp. However, when Bully shows just how competent she is at pitching a tent, it’s a humbling for her and a huge laugh and relief for all the girls when the Head decides Bully’s not fit to supervise the camping.

Pam strikes problems in raising the money to cover the costs of the school magazine that the “Worms” ripped up. She hasn’t patched things up with Goofy, and we are warned nasty Jill Cook is going to make even more trouble.

Betty’s got a really crazy plan for Belle’s diving training this week – she wants Belle to take the place of a stunt diver at the fairground. Now this looks awfully dangerous for a girl who’s not trained in the stunt, and the stuntwoman has clearly taken years to perfect it!

In “Worlds Apart”, the girls learn the meaning of gavage in this bizarre world where everyone is grotesquely fat, and the fatter the better. In hospital, the girls are force fed until they are just as fat. Only greedy Sarah is enjoying it because it’s her kind of world. Could there be a clue here?

This week’s recycling of a Strange Story in the Gypsy Rose tales treats Jinty readers to some Eduardo Feito artwork. When Clare stops in a small village with her singing group she feels like she’s been there before. Even weirder things start happening when they rehearse in the community hall.

Gaye pulls tricks on Sir Roger with a tape recorder to stop him being so lazy. When Sir Roger discovers the ruse he decides to fight fire with fire, although he finds 20th century technology a bit incomprehensible.

Tansy’s heartthrob pop star is in town, but she’s having trouble getting even a view of him. In the end she goes better than she ever imagined.

Fancy’s mother finally tells her a few facts about her absent father. He’s an escaped convict who claims he was innocent of the crime he went to prison for. He remains at large and his whereabouts are unknown. Ben says he may be able to provide more information.

Helen’s struggling with her nursing and is swotting too hard. The girls give her a book that they hope will help. Later, suspicion falls on Lesley when a patient reports a theft.

Snoopa’s got earache, but wrapping his ear to keep it warm is getting him into all sorts of scrapes.

Jinty & Penny 28 March 1981

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  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Ghost Dancer – final episode (artist Phil Townsend)
  • The Queen’s Vengeance! Gypsy Rose story (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • The Long Shot – text story (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Just the Job
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Are You Good at Arguments? (Quiz)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Fancy Free! – first episode (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Spot of Trouble – A Jinty & Penny special story (artist José Casanovas)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)

This week the Pond Hill-hating Wormsley Comprehensive makes its only appearance in the entire run of Pam of Pond Hill. It is such a neglected, rundown, graffiti-smeared dump it makes Pam appreciate Pond Hill. It’s no wonder the Wormsley pupils (“Worms”) are so rough. So could jealousy be the reason they hate Pond Hill? Pam and Steve never get the chance to even ask, for they get nabbed by the “Worms” and are now set to get a variant on tarring and feathering.

Two Phil Townsend stories overlap this week: “The Ghost Dancer” (ends) and “Fancy Free!” (begins). Ferne embarks on secret training to get out of that wheelchair and back into her ballet shoes. Fancy Cole is a problem girl who wants to have the freedom to do anything she likes. That includes bullying, it would seem. Still, things could be so different if her mother was kinder and looked after the place more instead of indulging in bingo all the time.

“A Spot of Trouble” is a Jinty and Penny special story. Apparently it is a filler, as two serials ended last issue but only one begins this issue. Natasha rescues an abandoned pup, Spot, in the Gulf States. The locals don’t much care for dogs, so the hotel manager doesn’t see the point in Natasha befriending Spot. He sees things in a new light when Spot saves Natasha from a deadly snake. The artist of this story is a bit uncertain. It looks like José Casanovas but it does not have the intricate detail that his other Jinty stories had. Perhaps it is an early Casanovas reprinted from somewhere.

Tansy’s in a fix when she forgets Mother’s Day and has to lay her hands on a present fast. Sir Roger is embarrassed when he accompanies Gaye to the museum and finds a document he signed is on display, and it says he is “ignorant, timid and the biggest liar in the kingdom”. It’s hijinks time when he tries to keep Gaye from finding out.

“The Long Shot” is the first of the text stories that will continue during 1981, with the spot illustrations being expanded for the covers. The cover could also be considered the last of the Mario Capaldi sports covers as it features a sport. There are no “Winning Ways” this week, so perhaps they have now been phased out.

This week’s Gypsy Rose story is another recycled Strange Story (which appeared in June). Julie laughs at ghosts and the supernatural, and never refuses a dare. So she accepts a dare to spend the night in a house supposedly haunted by a vengeful Elizabeth I. Julie emerges not quite sure if what she saw that night was a dream or not, but she stops laughing at ghosts. The Storyteller was more smug about this than the paste-up of Gypsy Rose is. Julie also discovers a lost miniature that not only triggered the apparent haunting but also saves the house from demolition. The story has been uploaded to the Gypsy Rose gallery in the panel section.

Miss Norm reveals the full story of how she became to be both the Hive Mother and the Gamma Girls’ secret trainer. Her training is paying off because the Gamma Girls are doing so well in the finals – much to the consternation of the bigoted Hive Inspector. Unfortunately Cassy made a bargain to let Perfecta beat her in the swimming marathon and sees no way out of it. However, the blurb for next week says fate is going to step in, so it sounds like there is a way out after all.

Jinty & Penny 21 March 1981

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  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Ghost Dancer (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Kathie Come Home! Gypsy Rose story (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)
  • Just the Job
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
  • No Medals for Marie – final episode (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Alison Christie Fitt)
  • Winning Ways 49 (writer Benita Brown)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine – final episode (artist Mario Capaldi)

Why do Pond Hill and Wormsley Comprehensive hate each other? That’s the question Steve intends to lead off the first issue of the school magazine with. He is set on going to Wormsley Comprehensive to conduct an interview with its pupils and is dragging Pam there with him, despite warnings from Goofy that the Wormsley pupils will just do something horrible to them. If you ask me, the Wormsley pupils don’t even know they hate Pond Hill or ever stop to think about it. The Pond Hill pupils certainly have no idea what the feud’s about.

Two stories end this week: “No Medals for Marie” and “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”. Marie decides it’s time to confront “that jealous battle axe” of a godmother over the blackmail she’s been pulling to stop her winning medals ever since they first met. However, Marie is in for a surprise, and it’s the one that guarantees a happy ending for all concerned. The godmother now goes from stopping Marie winning medals to a race to see who can win the most medals and trophies the fastest. No medals for guessing who’s leading. In “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”, the team resorts to a most unusual netball throw to make sure Nadine gets into the disco contest that her jealous rival’s cronies are trying to stop her entering. Nadine wins hands down of course, and “she’s the disco and netball queen!”.

One of the replacement stories starting next week is “Fancy Free!”, but why is there only one new story when two have ended? It also means two Phil Townsend stories will overlap because Townsend will finish “The Ghost Dancer” while starting “Fancy Free!”. Normally that sort of overlap happens with Phil Gascoine in Jinty.

In “The Ghost Dancer”, Ferne ends her wheelchair deception to save a fellow pupil from a dangerous pillar. But Ferne takes the pillar herself and it turns her deception into reality! Now she’s stuck in a wheelchair for real. Will she ever dance again?

There is even more cause for tears in “Land of No Tears” this week. To save Miranda from being taken away, Cassy is forced into a bargain to throw the swimming marathon in Perfecta’s favour – and so lose the Golden Girl Trophy that is the Gamma Girls’ ticket to a better life.

Gypsy Rose brings another recycled Strange Story. Twin sisters are separated after an accident and one loses her memory. So she can’t understand these strange flashes of a girl looking just like her and calling her name. Of course it’s the twin calling out for a reunion.

A misunderstanding has Tansy think Mr Grady’s being put in a pensioners’ home. She rallies the whole street to save him, but ends up in the doghouse with them all when the misunderstanding comes to light.

Sir Roger puts on a show of spooking to get Stoney Hall into a guidebook. Unfortunately he meets his match in the guidebook’s editors, who are the biggest sceptics he has ever met.

Jinty & Penny 27 June 1981

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  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Food for Fagin (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Friends in Need – text story (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • The Broomstick Gymnast – Gypsy Rose (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Horses Around the World
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)
  • Worlds Apart (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Dracula’s Daughter (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Beautiful Jars – Feature

This is one of the few issues where Phil Gascoine’s art does not appear. Neither does Phil Townsend’s. They’re both between stories for the moment, but of course it won’t be long before they’re back.

Pam’s having one of her crazes, and this time it’s really ambitious. She wants a piano! But there are some things Pam has not considered – like there being no room for a piano at home. Eventually she settles for trying out the tuba instead. Will it work out?

This week’s text story is a period story, which is set in Victorian times. Two waifs are trying to get to the country, away from the workhouse. Along the way they meet some very unlikely help – from the very top!

Olivia’s doing her best to raise the money for the dog food to keep ahead of Fagin’s bottomless belly. Unfortunately Fagin and his gargantuan appetite keep messing up every opportunity Olivia finds to fill that tum of his.

It’s another recycled Strange Story this week. A modern gymnast finds herself time travelling back to Puritan times to save a girl who’s been accused of witchcraft, just because she tried out some gymnastics.

Sir Roger’s had enough of bossyboots Gaye and brews a potion to make her his slave. Gaye discovers the trick and decides to play along so as to get her own back.

Pity they couldn’t have a potion like that for Mr Graves, who is continuing with ruthless, overbearing strong arm measures to turn Castlegate into an old-style grammar school as quickly as possible. He’s even barging into classes to force his ideas on teaching pupils upon the teachers.

Tansy wants to participate in a parade for preserving the quality of the environment. She ends up leading the parade with a majorette’s baton, but is crimson with embarrassment to be leading a marching band that is campaigning for noise abatement!

In “Worlds Apart” the girls are now in dream world number three, which is Samantha’s world. Samantha is Sleeping Beauty and her world is a fairy tale world that has to indulge her vanity and lust for power. And if it’s happily ever after for Samantha, the other girls will be stuck in her dream world for life.

In “Angela’s Angels” Sharon’s helping Susannah with her boutique. It ends up doing well, but there are a few mishaps – including making Sharon and Susannah late for duty. Can they get out of this spot?

Jinty & Penny 6 June 1981

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  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Diving Belle – final episode (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Double Take – text story (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • The Dove of Peace – Gypsy Rose story (artist Bob Harvey)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Just the Job
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • The Mysterious Mynah – Gypsy Rose Story (artist Manuel Benet)
  • Worlds Apart (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Sporting Horses – feature
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)

In this issue Jinty has a double feature on Gypsy Rose stories. “The Mysterious Mynah” is another recycled Strange Story, but “The Dove of Peace” is completely new. This makes a nice change from the Strange Stories Jinty recycled in 1981. “The Dove of Peace” looks like it is being used as a filler because Jinty wanted to start the replacements for “Fancy Free!” (ended last issue) and “Diving Belle” (ends this issue) in one issue.

And how does “Diving Belle” end? Belle trusts Betty and her instinct enough to carry out the dive from the oilrig, even though it could kill her. Readers should not be at all surprised when the dive enables Belle to find her father’s bathyscaphe, so he and his comrades are rescued. That’s what this mysterious diving training has been for all along.

In “Worlds Apart” the sports world is getting increasingly bizarre. You don’t sit down to eat – you are expected to eat while playing table tennis at the same time. And of course it’s all health foods, which the girls loathe. School punishments don’t apply detention or lines; they are designed to make girls lose physical fitness. Meanwhile, Ann’s all set to compete in the war against the Soviet Union. But why is Clare hoping Ann’s side will lose?

Pam persuades the school staff to let the girls have a go at woodwork and the boys sewing. However, Pam is the only girl who enjoys the woodwork. Well, she always was a bit of a tomboy, after all. And the boys? The sewing teacher has not enjoyed teaching the boys because they had a great time wrecking the sewing machines!

In this week’s text story, a psychic bond between twins is causing one to feeling the other’s pain, which is rather putting a damper on the holiday one of the twins won. It all gets sorted out, of course.

Sir Roger’s a bit put out when Gaye says he can’t come to the seaside with the family. He sneaks along anyway, which proves fortuitous. He unwittingly scares off some people (car thieves, police and a packed beach) who would have otherwise spoiled things for Gay and her family.

Snoopa’s back this week with a big-headed mouse who boasts he can beat Snoopa at anything. However, when the mouse loses his voice it gives Snoopa the chance to beat him at one game – Snap.

Tansy’s lumbered with a dog that is trying to get out of getting his booster shot. But then Tansy and Simon are just as chicken when it comes to their shots, which are due too.

Matron’s all set to come hard down hard on Sharon, just because an emergency got her caught in her swimsuit instead of uniform. Fortunately the patient speaks up for her and she’s off the hook. The girls discover Lesley’s secret, and wonder what all the fuss was about in her hiding his occupation.

 

Jinty & Penny 23 May 1981

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Pam of Pond Hill and her friends have been suspended from school because of that nasty Jill Cook, who is having them carrying the can for a crime she did. Their parents are outraged and want their children’s names cleared or they will take them away from Pond Hill.

This is the day for Diving Belle’s all-important dive. Betty has now had the final vision of where she is meant to do it, and she must do it urgently. But the police are closing in because of all the liberties Belle and Betty have taken, so will they get the chance to do the dive?

This week’s text story is about a do-it-yourself Dad who is about as good at DIY as Homer Simpson. Unlike Homer Simpson, he gives it up after the hijinks in the story.

Gypsy Rose recycles another Strange Story. Jenny mistakenly uses her dad’s raffle ticket for the old message-in-a-bottle routine. The bottle goes all the way around to Australia where Jenny, who has now emigrated there, uses it to fend off a shark!

Sir Roger is a film star this week. Unfortunately they forgot that being a ghost, he wouldn’t show up on film. Tansy is in need of pest control this week. No, it’s not her brother Simon and Peter the Joker – it’s a mouse that’s taken up residence in the house.

It’s the penultimate episode of “Fancy Free!”. Ben once told Fancy running away was a mug’s game, but now he’s doing it himself because he’s terrified the police will find him, and he’s an escaped convict. Unfortunately he has a serious accident while doing so.

In “Worlds Apart” the girls are surprised to find themselves clear of the fatties world after Sarah seems to drown and is rescued by Ann, who was supposed to be dead. They think things are back to normal. However, they realise this is not the case when they look out the window and find there is not a single vehicle in sight. Everyone is getting around by running and they’re all wearing tracksuits.

In “Angela’s Angels” an emergency catches Sharon at an awkward moment. She was sunbathing on the roof when the emergency chopper arrived, so she was wearing a swimsuit instead of uniform. Now disciplinary action is imminent!