Category Archives: Specials and Annuals

Publications of holiday or summer specials (format like the weekly comic except longer and on better paper), and of annuals (hardback, perfect-bound)

Shirley Bellwood

Shirley Bellwood, who died in January 2016 aged 84, is probably particularly familiar to most readers of this blog as the key Misty artist, creator of the beautiful cover and interior images of the mysterious dweller in the Cavern of Dreams. However, as this very informative piece on Down the Tubes explains, she had a long artistic career from well before Misty was published, starting in the 1950s.

In the pages of Jinty, she was most usually seen as the illustrator of text stories in Specials and Annuals. There were one or two comics stories drawn by her but these were reprinted from earlier titles.

004_zpscaa3e9a3

Advertisements

The Terror Behind the Bamboo Curtain (1975)

Sample Images

bamboo curtain 1

(Click thru)

bamboo curtain 2

(Click thru)

bamboo curtain 3

Writers: Charles Herring, Pat Mills, John Wagner, Tom Tully (?). But only Charles Herring appears in the writing credits.

Artist: Giancarlo Alessandrini

Publication: Battle 8 March 1975 to 24 May 1975

Reprint: Tornado Annual 1980

Plot Summary

In World War II, “Big Jim” Blake is a prisoner in a Japanese POW camp in Burma where prisoners are forced to build a bridge on the Benwaddy River. Sado, the cruel commandant, takes great delight in punishing his prisoners by having them run the gauntlet in the Bamboo Curtain, a bamboo forest on one side of the camp that is laden with deadly booby traps. Concerned at the intimidating effect the Bamboo Curtain is having on his comrades, Blake deliberately gets himself sent to the Bamboo Curtain, in the hope that if he can somehow beat it, it will break Sado’s hold over them.

Sado declares Blake dead after seeing him fall into one of the booby traps and forces the prisoners to cheer at this. However, Blake escapes. He is then surprised to stumble across a band of British soldiers in Japanese uniform who are acting as if they are brainwashed/hypnotised and don’t even feel pain when branded. One of them he recognises as “Handlebars” Lewis from his old unit. He soon finds out Sado is behind it, but the men disappear into a ruined pagoda before he can investigate further. He decides that for the soldiers’ sakes he will return to the camp to find out what is going on, although he is risking big trouble from Sado.

Everyone at the camp is surprised to see Blake has not only survived the Bamboo Curtain but returned as well. Blake’s purpose in going into the Bamboo Curtain is fulfilled; the prisoners now see it is not so unbeatable and become more rebellious and rallying around Blake as a hero. Jensen, Blake’s best friend, is sceptical when he hears the reason for Blake’s return, because Handlebars had been sent to the Bamboo Curtain several months previously.

Sado starts inflicting heavy punishments (actually, tests) on Blake. He starts with the sweat hut, but loses face when he realises Blake is too strong to break that way. Next, Sado forces Blake to fight a masked man to the death, and Blake is shocked to discover it was Handlebars. The next punishment (Sado’s final test) – forcing Blake to find a way to escape from a minefield – backfires when Blake escapes into the Bamboo Curtain and back to the pagoda. There he discovers another soldier undergoing the brainwashing process. The process takes effect, and it causes the prisoner to go wild and nearly kill Blake. Then Sado recaptures Blake and takes him back to camp – by shackling him to the back of his jeep and dragging him along until he blacks out.

Sado now brings Blake to his hut for a surprise spread of food. Suspecting his food is drugged, Blake contrives to switch it for Sado’s plate. His suspicions are confirmed when Sado’s cat Suki goes crazy from eating the food and attacks Sado. Judging by what he saw with the brainwashed soldier, Blake guesses the drug in the food must be part of the brainwashing process and this was what Sado intended for him. He also notices the door to Sado’s office is heavily padlocked and suspects the reason is that the key to the mystery is in there.

Jensen has the men start a riot at the bridge as a diversion so Blake can go back to investigate the office. Breaking in through the roof, he rips open a desk, where he finds a paper listing the men who have been sent through the Bamboo Curtain – and his own name is at the top of the list. The rest is in Japanese, but Jensen can translate it.

However, Sado has guessed the reason for the now-quelled riot and returns to his office to check. He discovers the theft, but Blake manages to escape with the paper. Upon translation, it reveals that the true purpose of the Bamboo Curtain is a survival of the fittest test. Soldiers who survive the Curtain are incorporated into Sado’s private army. They undergo a brainwashing process to turn them into crazed killers who obey Sado robotically. The paper also reveals there is a secret entrance under one of the flagstones in the pagoda.

Determined to get his paper back, Sado has turned extra-nasty towards the prisoners. He is forcing them to work under even worse conditions (extra hours, reduced rations and sleep, drinking from a malaria-ridden source) until someone comes forward about the theft. This has Jensen and Blake escape before someone breaks and lets on, and they flee into the Bamboo Curtain. But Jensen gets caught in a quicksand trap and Blake fails to save him in time. Jensen’s death hardens Blake’s resolve to stop Sado.

Blake heads for the pagoda, where he disguises himself as one of the brainwashed soldiers. He learns that Sado is sending his army against the approaching British forces, and sets up an ambush for them at Hsenwo Valley. Blake slips away to warn the British forces, but the commander does not believe him and locks him up. Blake escapes, but bumps into some of Sado’s goons. He manages to fight them off, but then hears Sado’s signal to the brainwashed soldiers to attack the British forces. Blake stops the attack by taking Sado hostage.

Now the British forces have seen the brainwashed soldiers for themselves, they finally believe Blake. Sado is taken into custody and the brainwashed soldiers are sent to an army hospital in England for deprogramming. Soon Blake and the British are on their way to liberate Sado’s camp.

Then a report arrives to say that Sado has escaped. Blake insists on going after Sado personally and heads for the Bamboo Curtain, figuring Sado has gone there. But Sado corners Blake and is on the verge of killing him. Then Suki trips Sado up and he falls into the same quicksand that claimed Jensen. Sado begs Blake for help and mercy, but Blake rebuffs him, saying he never showed mercy to anyone. Blake leaves Sado to the quicksand while Suki looks on, and departs to rejoin the war that still needs to be won.

 tumblr_nt451posiG1sqgnf7o1_1280

Thoughts and Discussion

Although this story is from a boys’ comic, it has come up in many discussions of girls’ comics, with particular reference to discussing the slave story theme and transposing the themes of emotion, suffering, and cruelty used to revive girls’ comics in the early 1970s with Tammy to revive the boys’ titles with Battle and Action. It has also come up in several websites where former creators reminisce on what went on behind the scenes of IPC comics and the writing and editing processes of both boys’ and girls’ comics. And it has been mentioned several times on this blog. So now it is going to have its own entry here as it is related to the context of girls’ comics.

Tammy had led the field in the revival of girls’ comics in the 1970s with its emphasis on cruelty, suffering and deep emotion as opposed to stories on boarding schools, ballet and ponies. Girls were frequently abused and subjected to over-the-top tortures in schools, quarries, factories, abusive homes and other settings. The early Jinty followed in similar vein, but eventually developed her own character with science fiction, sports and fantasy stories. And finally there was Misty, who dared to be a horror comic for girls. Parents hated it, which meant their daughters loved it, and sales for the early Tammy soared.

The same elements of cruelty, emotion and suffering in Tammy were applied to Battle to make it the spearhead in reviving boys’ comics, which had fallen into a similar slump as the girls’. As Pat Mills explains: “…When we did Battle and so on, we followed the girls’ comic role model, and my boys’ comics were, and I take great pleasure in saying this, disguised girls’ comics!” http://www.comixminx.net/comixminx/articles/Entries/2008/5/31_Pat_Mills_at_CAPTION2004.html

Although this approach did make Battle a success, the creators soon discovered that there were differences between the sexes that made some formulas less successful than others. And Terror Behind the Bamboo Curtain is one example where a girls’ comics formula (the slave story) proved less successful in the boys’ because of the differences between the sexes. So much so, in fact, that they never tried it again, which makes Terror Behind the Bamboo Curtain a one-off stand-alone story in Battle. For this reason it is now undergoing reappraisals, with collectors appreciating what a unique story it was in boys’ comics.

The formula that Terror Behind the Bamboo Curtain followed was the slave story theme, which is one of the lynchpins for a girls’ comic. The story had a group of girls (or one girl) who were being used as slaves or prisoners in an extremely harsh institution (reformatories, islands, quarries, factories, boarding schools and workhouses are frequent settings, while more unusual ones have included ships, restaurants, despotic regimes and dystopian worlds). The protagonist refuses to break under the torture, so her tormentors subject her to extra-harsh torture to break her down. Sometimes there is a mystery element involved, such as who is the mysterious masked helper who turns up to secretly help the girls, and solving the mystery is critical to the resolution of the story. This certainly was the case with Bamboo Curtain.

But Pat Mills believes it was the mystery element in Bamboo Curtain that made it unpopular and short lived in Battle:

“Mystery stories – girls, female readers, love mystery stories, say a school where there’s a mysterious headmistress, and girls are disappearing, and other girls are turning up in the dormitory – this gets them going! And the explanation can be complete crap, and it usually was, and it doesn’t matter!

“We tried this with male readers, we only did it once, and they hated it! That was Terror Beyond the Bamboo Curtain… You could see the thinking; we had the sadistic Japanese commander of the prisoner-of-war camp, and prisoners are disappearing, and strange things are going on, and the readers DID NOT CARE! They weren’t bothered about the mystery, they just wanted to see the action! What was the Terror Behind the Bamboo Curtain? Who cares, bring on the violence! A female readership, even if you’ve got a mystery as simple as “What’s inside that box?”, that’ll keep them going for weeks! It’s a fundamental difference between the sexes”.

http://www.comixminx.net/comixminx/articles/Entries/2008/5/31_Pat_Mills_at_CAPTION2004.html

But co-writer John Wagner has a different opinion on what made Bamboo Curtain less than successful:

“… It wasn’t that popular a story, I think because they were prisoners and they weren’t proactive. They were having it done to them, rather than doing it themselves”.

http://viciousimagery.blogspot.co.nz/2007/01/john-wagner-talks-about-battle-picture.html

Less-than-proactive prisoners are a typical element of the slave story, even with the protagonist who refuses to be broken and is a constant rebel against her tormentors. And although Bamboo Curtain has its share of Blake striking back against his Japanese jailers (slugging guards and Sado, shooting out watch towers, fighting the masked man), he does fall into the same vein as his female counterparts when he throws away his escape from the Bamboo Curtain and returns voluntarily to the camp to solve the mystery, although he knows he is risking death at the hands of Sado. Boys must have been outraged because they had expected a more proactive approach, such Blake turning jungle commando or something to bring down Sado once he had escaped. And the cowering prisoners in the first episode must have left them less than impressed either. And they must have been used to oppressed men rising up against their oppressors and bringing on the ass-kicking action that boys wanted to see.

But now Bamboo Curtain is attracting comment and reappraisal online for daring to be different. And it is not just because it was a brave, if unpopular, attempt at transposing the slave story formula into a boys’ comic. The story also dared to break clichés:

“[Comics] had been too safe, samey, sanitised. Characters never died, nothing ever changed, nothing progressed. Like Captain Hurricane went on episode after episode, the same formula, he’d throw a raging fury and rip tanks apart, and in his raging fury always win the day. It was so unreal and we were fed up with it. We wanted to kick some butt”.

http://viciousimagery.blogspot.co.nz/2007/01/john-wagner-talks-about-battle-picture.html

The biggest kick in the butt has to be where Jim Blake actually fails to save Jensen from the quicksand trap. As Pat Mills explains:

“My favourite [great moment in the story] – Blake trying to rescue his buddy who is sinking into a swamp. “Will Big Jim save his friend? Find out next week!” Next week Blake fails to save his friend, who sinks and dies. I took such pleasure in writing that scene, because it raises truths we all have to deal with, that heroes don’t always arrive in time. And it mocks the cliché ending! Even today, in comics, we don’t challenge the clichés enough – although I do my best in Marshal Law”.

https://patmills.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/misty-the-female-2000ad/

The cliché gets mocked again right at the end when Sado falls into the same quicksand. You expect the hero to do the noble thing and extend a hand to save his/her enemy, as Patti does in “Children of Edenford”. But Blake does not. Instead, he leaves Sado to die, saying he never showed mercy to anyone. This is a most shocking and unexpected thing to see a hero do in comics and readers must have been wondering about Blake after reading the ending.

While the story turned some clichés on their heads, other clichés were hammed up. This is the case with Sado. He is cast in the model of the stereotyped Japanese, and he certainly is evil, sadistic and loves inflicting torture. Yet he is so campy that he is such an engaging and colourful villain, and he is the source of all the humour in the story, with lines like:

  • “See Fearnly run! He think he okey dokey, but he no get far – you see!”
  • “Englishman sing! He too tough for sweat box. Sado lose much face!”
  • “See – Suki like. Big boy like, too! Please to eat.”
  • “Sado have way of making prisoners talk. Work them double chop chop. Soon someone break – talk turkey with Sado.”

“Bouncie, bouncie! Big boy bounce along path like rubber ball!”

With lines like those you just have to laugh, even at the lines that show just how evil Sado is. Pat Mills says “It was even funnier when John and I were acting these lines out to each other”. It is small wonder that “Sado was popular in the company while we were writing it. One guy made and wore a ‘SAVE SADO’ badge”.

https://patmills.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/misty-the-female-2000ad/

But it seems that either the writers or editor did not agree, because Sado is not saved in the end.

The glasses Sado wears serve to heighten his role as a humorous villain and help dilute his evil to less extreme levels (it seems to be something about comic book characters who wear glasses). His cat Suki does fall into the cliché of the villain having a soft spot. Yet the Siamese does add a subtle sinister note to the story. For example, it knows all the safe routes in the Bamboo Curtain, and it gives the impression that it is deliberately luring Blake into a trap when he follows it. Blake knows the cat will lead him to Sado without falling into any booby traps, but what he does not know is that Sado is planning another trap for him – leaving a gun for him to find that is rigged to fire backwards.

The campiness of Sado was deliberate because: “This story didn’t work until we hyped up Sado. It was sitting there. We kept going over it and over it and couldn’t see what was wrong with it. Decided to hype up Sado”.

http://viciousimagery.blogspot.co.nz/2007/01/john-wagner-talks-about-battle-picture.html

Even with Sado hyped up, writing the story proved extremely problematic:

“I’m sure we wrote the first episode of this one [Bamboo Curtain – Herring, Wagner/Mills, Tully?]. Anything you see with Charles Herring on it, it was rewritten and rewritten and rewritten. He had lots of good ideas. You had to take one of Charles’ scripts and pick out those good ideas. This story didn’t work until we hyped up Sado. It was sitting there. We kept going over it and over it and couldn’t see what was wrong with it. Decided to hype up Sado. But it wasn’t that popular a story, I think because they were prisoners and they weren’t proactive. They were having it done to them, rather than doing it themselves”.

Here’s what Battle staff editor Dave Hunt had to say about how Mills & Wagner worked…

“Pat and John wrote the initial episodes and then farmed them out to other writers. GFD was the author of D-Day Dawson. Lofty’s One-Man Luftwaffe – that was John and Pat. Their brief was not only create a new title but bring in new talent into the industry. We’d worked with a bed-rock of people. When you launched a new title, you rang up Tom Tully, he would do four of the new strips, Ted Cowan – people of that era – Ken Mennall. A lot of the people in Battle #1 were new to me.

“John and Pat always listened and got what they wanted from you. They would see a glimmer of an idea in a script and the writer would get paid for it. John and Pat would shape that glimmer. You’d re-read it 14 attempts later and the idea would still be there but developed. I was full of admiration for them. Being freelance themselves, they always felt they shouldn’t destroy a contributor, they felt that was the last thing they should do. They wanted to train them more into their way of thinking. Often it didn’t work…I had absolutely no idea where the story was going. I’m sure we hadn’t thought past the first episode. We knew it was something pretty awful, believe me! [Sadism, violence and black humour?] That’s what happens when you put a couple of freelancers in a room together! They just egg each other on. Part of it all was a reaction to the way comics had been up until then. They had been too safe, samey, sanitised. Characters never died, nothing ever changed, nothing progressed. Like Captain Hurricane went on episode after episode, the same formula, he’d throw a raging fury and rip tanks apart, and in his raging fury always win the day. It was so unreal and we were fed up with it. We wanted to kick some butt”.

http://viciousimagery.blogspot.co.nz/2007/01/john-wagner-talks-about-battle-picture.html

Despite these problems, the end result is a story that is gripping and filled with themes (brainwashing, struggle for survival, fighting adversity, war, black humour) that are guaranteed to grab the reader. The structure is well paced and the plot holds together extremely well. There is a discrepancy or two (such as Blake losing his boots in the minefield, but suddenly wearing boots again when he leaves the pagoda). But the overall product is strong, with its greatest strength perhaps lying in the characterisation, particularly of the villain. Nobody reading it would have guessed the problems the writers had in drafting it. Terror Behind the Bamboo Curtain deserves to have more appreciation than it received when it was first published. But the attention it is getting on the Internet indicates that it is getting that appreciation now.

Tammy Annual 1986

Tammy annual 1986

  • Cover artist: Mario Capaldi
  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Animal Magic (feature)
  • The Bell – Strange Story (artist Jaume Rumeu aka Homero Romeu)
  • Crayzees (artist Joe Collins)
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Wish Upon a Star (feature)
  • The Black and White World of Shirley Grey (artist Diane Gabbot)
  • Party Pieces (feature)
  • Bella (artist John Armstrong)
  • The Crayzees (artist Joe Collins)
  • Yule Tide – text story (artist Tony Coleman, writer Ian D. Mennell)
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Snow – poem (writer Deborah Pfeiffer)
  • What’s Your Resolution? (quiz)
  • Sally’s Secret – Strange Story (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Animal Magic
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Second Sight – Button Box story in text (artist John Johnston, writer Ian D. Mennell)
  • Animal Magic
  • ‘Make It’ a Great Year! (feature)
  • Flutter by, Butterfly! (feature)
  • Sweet Eats (feature)
  • The Crayzees (artist Joe Collins)
  • Snowy, the Christmas Snowman (feature)
  • The Crayzees (artist Joe Collins)
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Molly Mills and the Sporting Life (artist Douglas Perry)

This was the last Tammy annual, with a gorgeous cover from Mario Capaldi. Capaldi had illustrated several covers for the Jinty annual and one for the Misty annual, but this was his first – and last – cover for the Tammy annual. Could it well be the last cover Capaldi ever produced for any girls’ annual as well? By this time the IPC girls’ titles had faded and DCT had taken more of a centre stage.

Pam of Pond Hill leads off the annual with her last Christmas story. Pam and Goof are sent to collect the Christmas tree for the school. Sounds simple and foolproof? Pam and Goof find out it’s anything but.

(Click thru)

Pam 1 Pam 2Pam 3Pam 4

The two text stories, “Yule Tide” and “Second Sight” take the unusual step of crediting the writer, Ian D. Mennell. “Second Sight” is unique for being the only Button Box story ever published as a text story, and it is a story that I have always enjoyed. Carmal, an Oriental girl, starts out as a selfish rich girl. Not surprising, considering that her uncle is a rogue. She mistreats a blind busker by putting buttons in his bowl instead of coins. But karma strikes when the uncle’s victims take a revenge attack that leaves Carmal blind and alone, and she is taken in by the very same busker she had mistreated. She learns his trade, and also learns what it is like to have mean people throw worthless rubbish in your busking bowl instead of money. In the process she becomes a more considerate and kind person – and so has the uncle, once he has tracked her down.

Meanwhile, Capaldi’s picture Button Box story is about a housemaid who hates her job because she is an outdoor type. When she foils a robber (realising he left a loose button from his jacket at the scene of the crime), it opens up a new career for her as a policewoman and enjoying the great outdoors on the beat.

Talking of housemaids, the last Molly Mills annual story reprints “The Sporting Life”, an annual sports event between the villagers and the Stanton Hall staff. Normally the villagers get on well with Stanton Hall, but when it comes to sports day it is far from a friendly match. It’s a needle event, and the needles are sharper than usual because the villagers have Olympic hopefuls on their team, and then spoilsport Pickering bans the staff from training after he gets caught up in mishaps from it.

(Click thru)

molly1molly2molly3

The poem “Snow” is also given a credit. The writer is Deborah Pfeiffer. This is the only work in Tammy credited to Pfeiffer.

The reprints are taken from 1981, including Diane Gabbot’s second-to-last Tammy story, “The Black and White World of Shirley Grey”. The original run had the honour of starting in Tammy’s 10th birthday issue. Shirley Grey refuses to tell lies in the wake of an accident she irrationally blames herself for. But Shirley is taking it to such extremes that she refuses to tell even a white lie, no matter what the circumstances. You can imagine what that leads to, and it starts with the boss’s wife asking Shirley what she thinks of her dress (which is hideous!).

(Click thru)

shirley 1 shirley 2shirley 3

The annual is the one that stops the Bessie Bunter appearances. I find this a bit sad as I have always been a big fan of Bessie. Maybe there was no room for Bessie, or the editors decided she had had her day? If they did, it may reflect what happened in the regular comic. Bessie’s days became numbered in 1980 after Tammy swallowed Misty. During the merger Bessie was demoted from regular appearances to “from time to time” appearances while Wee Sue and Molly were still going strong.

(Click thru)

bella

The Bella story is more intriguing in that Tammy is taking a serious attempt to giving the colouring more of a 3-D look in the use of the hues and tones. In the previous annuals this was only applied to skin toning, but now it is being applied to everything. The story has Bella losing her confidence because she is under a cloud that she won a medal by default when her rival withdrew. Bella’s coach is handling her badly, which only makes matters worse. But of course things turn around and it ends with Bella all set to make the coach eat his words. And it’s nice to see Bella’s last annual story focus on her gymnastics and not the machinations of Jed and Gert, which were the most frequent basis of Bella’s annual stories.

In the last Wee Sue story in the annual, Sue’s final word is “’bye!.” I wonder if this is meant to be a double meaning as this is the last-ever Tammy annual, and this particular reprint chosen for this reason.

(Click thru)

sue 1sue 2sue 3a

Tammy Annual 1985

Tammy annual 1985

  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Animal Magic
  • The Town Crier – Strange Story (artist John Johnston)
  • Fun Time
  • Animal Magic
  • Molly Mills and the Festive Season (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Are You Really Nice to Know? (quiz)
  • Animal Magic
  • Bella (artist John Armstrong)
  • The Indian Blanket – Strange Story (artist Maria Dembilio)
  • The Price of Fame – text story (artist Tony Coleman)
  • The Crazyees (artist Joe Collins)
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Stick with Us! (feature)
  • Fun Time
  • A Girl Called Steve (artist Diane Gabbot)
  • Be a “Wise Owl” and Decorate a Plant Pot (feature)
  • Christmas Exchange – text story (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Lend a Helping Hand (feature)
  • Choose Chocolate (feature)
  • Who’s a Pretty Boy, Then? (feature)
  • Odds and Ends (feature)
  • Polar Bears and Arctic Hares – feature (artist John Johnston)
  • Fun Time
  • Animal Magic
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Be a Cover Girl! (feature)
  • Hidden Melody – Strange Story (artist Tony Coleman)
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)

Continuing the theme of Pam’s appearances in the Tammy annual, this Pam story takes a break from the Christmas theme where everything’s gearing up for a Christmas celebration but fate threatens to throw a Grinch into the works. Instead, the story focuses on exam nerves. It’s the history exam that’s the biggest worry of all for Pam, and considering that she has never been strong academically, what will the results be?

(click thru)

Pam 1Pam 2Pam 3Pam 4

This annual is the last Tammy annual to have Bessie Bunter. One story has a guest appearance from Billy Bunter (below), so at least Bessie ends on a high. Meanwhile, this is the first annual to have The Button Box, and the button Bev selects tells an anti-fox hunting story and a harsh squire who is shocked into changing his ways after his fox traps nearly kill his own niece.

(Click thru)

bessie 1bessie 2

The serial reprinted for the 1985 annual is the 1979 story, “A Girl Called Steve” (short for Stephanie). It’s a mystery story, but is unusual in that Steve gets two mysteries to solve, one after the other. The first comes when Steve joins her father’s archaeological dig in the caves at Clambourne Bay. Even on the journey up there, it becomes blatantly obvious that there are some very sinister types out to scare her away. Things get even worse when the superstitious locals tell Steve that the Acum (a monster said to haunt the cave) has cursed the village in retaliation for the archaeological dig, and they join the campaign to get rid of Steve and her father. But is there really a monster behind it all, or is whatever in the caves more to do with human greed? Once the Clambourne mystery is solved and Steve returns home, she soon embarks on mystery number two when the council wants to bulldoze the old tram lines and weird things start happening there.

(Click thru)

stevesteve 2steve 3

In the Bella story, Jed and Gert embark on one of their most idiotic dodges to make money – Gert running aerobics classes, despite the fact that she is overweight, out of condition, has no training or qualifications, and is no spring chicken. But it’s poor Bella who ends up carrying the can and fleeing the angry aerobics class once they realise they’ve been conned. However, this is Christmas, so the Bella story has to resolve that way.

(Click thru)

bella

The text stories are new, but the reprints increase. The Christmas-themed Molly story is a repeat. It looks like nowhere for the Stantons to have Christmas because Pickering wrecked the hall by lighting a match in a kitchen full of gas. Claire suggests London’s East End where Molly’s family are, but are the Stantons too posh for a Cockney party? The Wee Sue stories and Strange Stories are more repeats. And it could be the cover is a reprint as well, possibly taken from Princess Tina, as the Katy covers were. Still, the annual and its content are solid and can be read again and again.

Tammy Annual 1984

Tammy annual 1984

  • Cover: John Richardson
  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Animal Magic – feature
  • Fun Time
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Vassilya’s Doll – Strange Story (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Wee Sue – artist Robert MacGillivray
  • Bessie Bunter
  • The Lucky Sixpence – text story (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Edie and Miss T (artist Joe Collins)
  • Calendar of Events – feature (artist John Johnston)
  • Bella – artist John Armstrong
  • Animal Magic – feature
  • Victim of Vesuvius – Strange Story (artist Diane Gabbot)
  • Tasty Tuck-In – feature
  • Knights of the Road – text story (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Fun Time – feature
  • ‘Sleigh’ Them, Father Christmas! – feature
  • Mask for Melissa – artist Angeles Felices
  • Wee Sue – artist Robert MacGillivray
  • The Christmas Visitor – text story (artist Diane Gabbot)
  • What a Cover-Up – feature
  • On with the Show… – feature
  • Quite a Puzzle – feature
  • Edie and Miss T (artist Joe Collins)
  • Animal Magic – feature
  • Room of Shadows – Strange Story
  • Wee Sue – John Richardson
  • Fun Time – Feature
  • Tasty Tuck-In – feature
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills – artist Douglas Perry

Tammy annuals would not normally feature on the Jinty blog. But the last three do feature Pam of Pond Hill, so they will have entries here for this reason.

Tammy annual 1984 takes over the Pam of Pond Hill appearances in the annuals, leaving the Jinty annual for that year somewhat reduced in pure Jinty content because she clearly could not have Pam. The Pam story (reproduced here in full) incorporates the Orwellian 1984 theme that was big in that same year, for obvious reasons. Here we get a twist on the Big Brother theme.

(Click thru)

pam 1pam 2pam 3pam 4pam 5pam 6

This was the last Tammy annual to have the Cover Girls on the cover. The Cover Girls disappeared from the regular comic in late 1980 after a run that can be traced back to 1974. They are certainly enjoying themselves in the snow.

The annual has a lot of reprints, many of which I am pleased to see. The Strange Story “Room of Shadows” was one of my favourites when it first came out, so I am delighted to have it again.

(Click thru)

shadowsshadows 2shadows 3

There does seem to be some new material as well; the Molly Mills story, for example, is not a reprint (unlike the next two annuals). Unwanted puppies are dumped on the doorstep, and Molly has to find a home for them fast because Pickering has nasty ideas about drowning them.

(Click thru)

melissa

Theatre is a big theme in this annual. One feature, “On with the Show”, discusses what goes on behind the scenes during a performance. The theatre theme is probably why they reprinted the 1978 story, “Mask for Melissa”, in which aspiring actress Melissa Mappin gets such an enormous chip on her shoulder from a facial disfigurement in a road accident that she can’t look at herself in a mirror. She resumes her career by hiding behind a facial mask and changing her name to Gaye Traynor. But the deceit is bringing its own problems – like not able to have people touch her face because they’ll find out it’s a mask – which leads to misunderstandings and unpopularity.

(click thru)

doll1 doll 2 doll 3

Cinderella is also a running theme as well, starting with the Strange Story on page 14, “Vassilya’s Doll”. Two jealous aunts go out to more extremes than most wicked stepmothers when they plot to send their drudge to her death because they can’t ruin her looks with hard work. But they did not count on a babushka doll and (despite herself) a witch. Yes, perhaps the moral of that story is that fairy godmothers can come in all shapes and sizes – and surprises. And it’s a moral that continues in the Bella story, where Bella finds herself a Cinderella, both in a panto production and in the children’s home where she has taken a job, because of the bullying orderlies who are also cast as the wicked stepsisters. When they try to put Bella out of the panto altogether, fairy godmother arrives in a most unexpected form – Aunt Gert, who is usually Bella’s wicked stepmother. And Bella is now appearing in full colour after several annual appearances in the usual black-and-white, sometimes with red colouring. She is the only character in the annual to appear in full colour, apart from Edie and Miss T. Does this say something about her status?

bella

(click thru)

And in one Wee Sue story, the school Cinderella panto looks like a shambles when Miss Bigger sticks her oar in with her casting ideas, and then more disasters strike just before the first performance.

(click thru)

sue 1sue 2sue 3

In one Bessie Bunter story, Miss Stackpole is conducting a lesson on what life will be like in the 21st century, which prompts another dream sequence for Bessie. It’s the 21st century now, so how close did the Bessie story get? Well, there are still another eight-and-a-half decades left in the 21st century, so maybe it’s too early to tell yet?

(Click thru)

bessie 1bessie 2

Jinty Annual 1980

JInty annual 1980

Cover artist: Audrey Fawley

  • Rinty (cartoon)
  • The Christmas Spirit (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Can You Beat Sharp-Eyed Sharon? (artist Keith Robson)
  • And Then There were Two – text story (artist Shirley Bellwood, writer Linda O’Byrne)
  • Alley Cat
  • Drat This Weather! (feature)
  • Sally Was a Cat (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • It’s a Mystery! (quiz)
  • Wrong End of the Tape – text story (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty (cartoon)
  • Gymnast Jinty (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • The Bride Wore Black (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Snow Dog – text story (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Noel Edmonds (feature)
  • If I’d been a Princess – poem
  • Superspud! Feature
  • Calendar 1980 (feature)
  • At the Midnight Hour… – text story
  • How Fruity are You? Quiz
  • The Whistling Skater – poem (Concrete Surfer artist?)
  • No Time for Pat (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Happy Ever After – text story
  • The Winning Loser (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Meet Some Hopeless Cases (feature)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • The Island of Mystery – Gypsy Rose story
  • Cat’s Corner – feature
  • The Town Girl – text story (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Take an Egg! (feature)
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)

The Jinty annual 1980 is a solid annual. Her own features are Alley Cat, Gypsy Rose, Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag, and Fran’ll Fix It! We learn that Fran is at her worst when she is trying to be helpful (spreading Christmas cheer) because that is when disaster is most likely to strike. Despite everything, Fran does spread cheer by making an old misery laugh at the sight of her after she tries to clean a chimney. But after this she gives up helping and goes back to fixing. Rinty is a bit unusual for having his own feature at the start of the annual. It’s just Rinty – no Jinty. Yet we get a Rinty ‘n’ Jinty cartoon later in the annual.

“Sally was a Cat” is a be-careful-what-you-wish-for story. The Robert MacGillivray artwork lends even more fun to the hilarity when sourpuss Sally Biggs wishes she could change places with her cat – and then finds the cat comes from a long line of witches’ cats and can therefore oblige her! You also have to be careful what you say around Henrietta too, in the fun-bag story. Sue wishes it could be holidays all the time instead of school, and Henrietta seizes on that in her usual alacrity. Sue changes her mind when she sees the spell has everyone else off on holiday too! No burgers, no buses, no mum to make tea, because they’re all taking a holiday. Still, Sue and her friends do end up with a holiday from school in the end because of flooding.

1980 5

(Click thru)

“The Christmas Spirit” is lost on Julie. She is fed-up with being the butt of jokes because her surname is Christmas. She tries to find the Christmas spirit for her brother’s sake but isn’t having much luck – until she finds shelter in a snowstorm and things begin to happen. The Christmas spirit also comes to the rescue of “The Town Girl,” who is having trouble fitting into country life.

1980 3

(Click thru)

In “The Winning Loser”, Jean and Alice Fisher try to get a replacement vase for their gran, who is comatose. Alice finds one going as a second prize in a tennis match, but has to learn to play tennis and go up against Selena, an arrogant girl who is always poking fun at her. At the tennis match, Alice starts playing a bit too well against Selena and could end up with first prize instead of the second prize she wanted for her gran. So she has to face a choice at the match – her pride or her gran?

1980 6

(Click thru)

“The Bride Wore Black” is a demented bride still clinging to her wedding gown and feast decades after the wedding that never took place. An old cliché, but the creepiness is brought off to perfection by the Jim Baikie artwork.

1980 4

(Click thru)

Jinty annuals have still not escaped the era of reprinting old serials from June. This time it’s “No Time for Pat”. No, it isn’t about a neglected girl. It’s a tear-jerker of a story about a girl who is living on borrowed time and using it to help a wheel-chair bound girl at the orphanage. Oddly, the June reprint has no border while the other reprints of June serials in other Jinty annuals do. Yet the Fran story does have a border.

1980 2

(Click thru)

Other reprints include Gymnast Jinty, whom Comixminx has been wondering has been one inspiration for Jinty’s name. In this reprint, Gymnast Jinty is leading a camping trip instead of doing gymnastics. But her leadership faces a huge problem – Carol Lomas. Carol is a foolhardy girl whose lack of common sense causes all sorts of scrapes and could lead to big, big trouble – and it eventually does when Carol tries to show off while a storm is blowing up.

I wonder whether the text stories were actually written for the annual or reprints, or both. “Then There Were Two” is the only one with a credit, to Linda O’Byrne as the writer. It probably is a reprint as it is drawn by Shirley Bellwood. The same may hold true for “At the Midnight Hour” as the spot illustration artist is unknown but definitely not a Jinty artist. The spot illustrations of the other text stories were done by artists who have drawn for Jinty (Terry Aspin, Douglas Perry and Phil Townsend).

The Gypsy Rose story finally leaves Uncle Pete (The Storyteller under another name) behind. Gypsy Rose is now telling the story herself, although the story is still recycled from Strange Stories. Nonetheless, it is a sign that the Jinty annuals were beginning to outgrow reprints from older comics.

Jinty Annual 1983

Jinty annual 1983

Jinty annual 1983

  • Little Sisters (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Do You Doodle? Feature
  • Carnival of Flowers – Gypsy Rose story (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Where Do You Fit In? Quiz (artist John Johnston)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)
  • The Mystery of Martine (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Growing Pains – text story
  • For the Love of Horses – feature
  • Make Music – feature
  • Desert Island Bookshelf – feature (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Picture of the Past (artist and writer Keith Robson)
  • Make Your Own Cards – feature
  • Pond Hill Bazaar – feature (artist Bob Harvey)
  • The Thirteenth Hour – Gypsy Rose story (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Box of Tricks – feature
  • Chance to Say Sorry – text story (artist Tony Coleman)
  • Call of the Sea – Gypsy Rose story
  • Perils of Babysitting – feature
  • It’s the Custom! Feature
  • Alley Cat
  • How to Make a Fortune Teller – feature
  • At the Top of the Tree – feature
  • No Place Like Home – Gypsy Rose story (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Nothing to Wear – feature
  • Strawberry Handkerchief – Gypsy Rose story (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Snoopa
  • Percy’s Christmas – text story
  • A Puzzle to Make – feature
  • All Around the World – feature
  • The Jigsaw Puzzle – text story (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Snowbound! Gypsy Rose story (artist Keith Robson)
  • Christmas with Dickens – feature (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Netball Quiz – feature

This could well be the annual where Jinty comes into her own, because she is no longer printing serials from older comics for the long story sections. Instead she is reprinting one of her own serials, “The Mystery of Martine“, in which an actress who plays a dangerous, obsessive woman who eventually burns down a house starts behaving exactly like the psycho. The story is reprinted in yellow colouring, which makes a nice change from the usual red to set off some black-and-white pages, or the blue that Jinty used for a while.

Martine 1Martine 2Martine 3

(Click thru)

The number of recycled Strange Stories as Gypsy Roses has been reduced (a couple of them were omitted from the Table of Contents for some reason); the rest are reprints of Gypsy Rose’s own stories this time. One Gypsy Rose story, “Picture of the Past” is unusual in that it is both written and drawn by the same person, Keith Robson. This is the second instance we have come across of stories being written and drawn by the same person in Jinty. Or girls’ comics for that matter.

click thru
click thru
click thru
click thru
click thru
click thru
click thru
click thru

The cover is one of the most gorgeous covers I have ever seen in girls’ annuals. The artwork from Mario Capaldi is mouth-watering, but what really sets it off and makes it memorable is the use of the colouring. And don’t you just love exquisite pictures of Victorian times – oh, wait, is that a car and garage we see in the background, in subtle grey tones? Ah, we have very enterprising carol singers here who must have made a few extra quid by using Victorian costume.

Capaldi’s artwork continues on the first page with “Little Sisters”. This story appeared in the Tammy & Jinty merger, but the fact that it has an appearance in a Jinty annual suggests it was originally conceived for Jinty. “Little Sisters”, a popular story about a teenage girl, Carol, who finds her little sister Samantha “Sam” exasperating at times (yes, a lot of girls can relate to that) also continues the Christmas theme on the cover. Sam wants to know what is meant by “goodwill” at Christmas. She misunderstands when the family explain (not very well), but ends up sending a whole new message to them about the meaning of Christmas.

Jinty annual 1983 1little sisters 2little sisters 3

(click thru)

The presence of “Little Sisters” may be the reason “Pam of Pond Hill” was reduced to a feature instead of its own story. But we get a whole new side to Pond Hill when we are shown what Pam & Co did for the school bazaar, complete with instructions on the items and games. Yes, it’s a different take on the obligatory craft-and-make features in any girls’ annual.

Jinty annual 1983 2Jinty annual 1983 3Jinty annual 1983 4

(click thru)

In “Growing Pains” a quilting party is not Betsy’s idea of growing up. But quilting takes on a whole new meaning when her boyfriend Nathan leaves and his parting gift is a patch to sew into her quilt. This text story should have you thinking about quilting in a different light as well. And “A Chance to Say Sorry” reminds us that you are given a chance to make amends, take it. Ruth Oldham the youth drama group secretary is due to retire, but nobody likes her except Keith because she is a “bossy-boots, thinks she’s the greatest, and never lets anyone else get a word in edgeways”. Sounds like Verna from “Tale of the Panto Cat”. But unlike Verna, she turns out to be a sympathetic character with a problem. And “Percy’s Christmas” brings us the story of a know-it-all seagull who is havng trouble grasping the ways of humans and Christmas.

Some of the text features are really strong, informative, and you will read them over and over. “For the Love of Horses” tells us about Dorothy Brooke, a woman who went to track down the former World War I Army horses and mules and started rescuing them from animal abuse in Egypt. The end result was the Brooke Hospital for Animals in Cairo. I just had to show the feature to my World War I lecturer at university and she took a copy. I still wonder if the annual became a source in somebody’s essay or thesis because of this.

“I’ve Got Nothing to Wear” reminds us how lucky we are in being able to acquire clothes in comparison to clothes manufacturing in the past. Clothes had to be handmade, often from scratch, no patterns until Victorian times, and made to last because many people were lucky to have a second set of clothes.

Finally, “Christmas with Charles Dickens” rounds off the Christmas theme by telling us how Dickens celebrated Christmas. Not to mention how fit he must have been with the long walks he took all over London, sometimes covering as much as 15 miles. And he would return home ready for more while his friends were ready to collapse. The feature might have been even better if it had told us that A Christmas Carol revived Christmas at a time when it had fallen on such evil days many people didn’t bother with it. But I guess you can only put in so much into a two-page spread, plus spot illustration.

This annual definitely ranks as one of Jinty’s top annuals, one of her very best. It is well worth collecting. It is sad that the quality did not last – the next annual, though still good, reduced the Jinty content (no Gypsy Rose or Pam of Pond Hill), and the last two Jinty annuals contained just reprints of older material from other comics.

June Book 1982

June annual 1982

Cover artist: Jim Baikie

  • Lucky’s Living Doll (artist John Richardson)
  • Return of the Silver Mare – Strange Story (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Fun Spot
  • Wot’s Wot?
  • Spitter the Career Cat – text story
  • Tuck into Tucktonia! – feature
  • Box Clever – feature
  • Wonders of Nature
  • Bessie Bunter
  • The Strangest Alliance – feature
  • Disco Dancer – Strange Story (artist Tony Coleman)
  • Join the Nit-Wits! Feature
  • Could You Be a Tough Goody? – quiz
  • Fun Spot
  • Getting to Know You – feature
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Dairy Delicious – feature
  • Pictures of Matchstick Men – Strange Story (artist Angeles Felices)
  • Weather: The Rhyme and the Reason – feature (artist Joe Collins)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • What Age Are You? – quiz
  • The Phobia – Strange Story (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Bessie’s Tuck Shop – feature
  • Going with the Wind – feature
  • The Spirit of the Mary Rose – Strange Story (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Half-Term in the Kitchen – text story
  • Lucky’s Living Doll – artist John Richardson
  • Fun Spot

In continuation with Comixminx’s entries on June, I now analyse the only June annual I still have, the one from 1982. This may have been the last June annual produced – I haven’t confirmed it.

The cover is a lively Christmas shopping scene from Jim Baikie and is more fluid and modern than the stiffer older style from June annuals of previous decades. But the annual has been reduced to 78 pages instead of the 126 that say, the Jinty annual of the same year has. This may be why it does not reprint any serial. Instead, we have Strange Stories (some of which I recognise from Tammy), reprints of Bessie Bunter and Lucky’s Living Doll, and two text stories. The two quizzes inside are strong. “Are You a Tough Goody?” tests to see if you have what it takes to be a Charlie’s Angel type or whether you should stay behind the desk like Bosley. “What Age Are You?” has nothing to do with how old you are – it tests to see whether you should have been born in ancient Rome, the Middle Ages or Victorian times.

June annual 1982 1

(Click thru)

Lucky’s Living Doll is the first thing we see when we open the annual. It is reprinted from the era when John Richardson had taken over from Robert MacGillivray, and there has been feeling among June collectors that this marked a decline in the Living Doll series. But the story is strong; Lucky and Tina encounter a clown who has fallen on hard times but still spends far more than he can afford to keep his daughter Stella in school. He even goes to lengths such as going without food and stealing money to pay for her schooling! And he just can’t tell her what is going on, even when he collapses. Lucky and Tina decide Stella must be told, and if he won’t, they will. But are they doing the right thing?

Lucky’s Living Doll is also the last thing we read in the annual. Alarm bells go off when Cousin Matilda tells the family she is going to send “an absolute pet of a boa” to them! Tina’s imagination goes overtime as she pictures herself being eaten by a boa.

June annual 1982 2June annual 1982 5

(Click thru)

The last June annuals also took to having one Strange Story in colour. In this case it is “The Phobia”. Other Strange Stories in the annual were in the old black-and-white. We get some good features, such as “Going with the Wind” (about windmills) and Bessie’s Tuck Shop, in which she provides recipes on how to make the Cliff House goodies in her tuck shop (though we have to wonder how they stayed around long enough to sell with Bessie in charge!). The presence of Poochy is a surprise; he did not appear in the regular strip.

June annual 1982 3June annual 1982 4 1

(Click thru)

One text story “Spitter the Career Cat”, is an unusual and delightful one. It is a story about cats who go on the run, as told from one of the cats. But they don’t just run away – our narrator has his eye on getting into the high life and leading a life of luxury. It doesn’t quite go that way, of course. Eventually they settle on being travelling acting cats and take to theatre barges. “Half-Term in the Kitchen” leads to a half-term holiday leading to a battle with uncooperative wallpaper during redecorating and our heroine just about giving up before family cooperation turns things around.

It is not surprising that the June annuals had fallen into reprints by the 1980s, and they were reprints of shorter material because the reduced number of pages meant no room for reprinted serials. But the quality in this June annual is still good and I find it a delight to read.

June Book 1970

June Annual 1970 Cover

Cover by Phil Townsend

In this Annual:

  • Nella and Her Donkey (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • House of Phantoms (writer Jane Derwent, artist Carlos Freixas)
  • The Girl From Tibet (artist John Armstrong)
  • Who’ll Buy My Sweet Oranges? (poem)
  • Figure, Fashion and Facing Facts… (feature by Angela Barrie)
  • Nursing Is My Life (artist not identified)
  • Zoo Fun (photo feature)
  • Jeannie’s Unearthly Twin (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Long-Legged Peg (artist not identified)
  • Silverwing’s Jest (prose story)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Bessie’s Christmas Beano (recipes)
  • Cowboy Country (feature)
  • Bright and Beautiful (feature)
  • Debra’s Dolls (feature)
  • Enchanted Woodland (photo feature)
  • Guardians of the Temple: Strange Story (artist not identified)
  • Fun Spot (puzzles)
  • Sunshine Susie (artist not identified)
  • Oh, That Statue! – Surprise Corner (artist Colin Merritt)
  • Schoolgirl Models (prose story; writer Sheila Morton, artist not identified)
  • Kathy Must Stay! (artist not identified)
  • Cleo and the Cat (prose story; writer Denise Barry, artist Phil Townsend)
  • Things to Make and Do (crafts feature)
  • What A Laugh! (gag page)
  • Sam and Suki Save The Day (artist Robert MacGillivray)

I see that June called its Annual a ‘Book’ instead!

There is no dedicated internet source that I can find for discussion of June (though of course the Comics UK Forum covers this too); I hope everyone will forgive my inclusion of this ‘Book’ under the Jinty banner. June is not a girl’s paper that I know well, but I have been interested to read this annual in the light of now knowing that it is a direct precursor to Jinty: Mavis Miller was the editor of June & School Friend before being moved onto Jinty, seemingly as part of the general move of the time to pep up girls comics and make them sharper and less old-fashioned. (Around the time that Jinty was being prepared, June was merged with Tammy, which would be another reason to move the editor on.) We already know of some overlap in creators and themes between June and Jinty: “Nobody Knows My Name”, written by Alison Christie, was published in June under Mavis’s editorship. Looking at this Book, we can see even more overlap, and some interesting areas of difference too.

The annual starts off with a nice little animal story drawn by Trini: little Italian girl Nella is invited to be a bridesmaid at a posh society wedding; her pet donkey ends up saving the wedding presents from thieves. The art is beautiful, as always, and the story is sprightly and fun. It’s a story that would have fitted well into any Jinty annual, too.

The first text story, “House of Phantoms” has given me a bit of doubt: looking at the illustrations I am still not totally sure whether they are done by Comos or Freixas (who I hadn’t previously thought of as particularly hard to tell apart). The mouths are quite similar. On balance I am plumping for Freixas but am interested to hear other views! The story itself is exciting and dramatic (if very stereotyped in its portrayal of made-up South American countries) – not quite long enough, though, needing a few more twists and turns.

House of Phantoms

“The Girl from Tibet”, drawn by John Armstrong, is slicker than his later style. There is little dramatic tension though, because the title lead is clearly a bit of a supergirl who can do anything, so when she defeats the rather mimsy villain, it comes as not much of a surprise.

The Girl From Tibet

Here are some other pages from the Book:

Jeannie's Unearthly Twin

“Jeannie’s Unearthly Twin”, drawn (and signed) by Freixas, is very stylish; the story itself is a straightforward humorous ‘magical companion’ story à la “Vanessa From Venus”.

Oh that Statue!

“Oh, That Statue!” is ‘a gay story featuring the family at Surprise Corner’ – I understand  “Surprise Corner” to have been a regular in June. I can’t quite identify the artist, who does however look familiar – can anyone help? (I haven’t scanned a page of “Long-Legged Peg”, where again the artist looks familiar – I guess that again this might be a regular in the main comic and so might also be identifiable by others.)

Cleo and the Cat

The last text story, “Cleo and the Cat”, is rather fun – I was surprised too to see more than one named prose story writer (normally it seems as if the only named writer is Linda O’Byrne, who I have developed something of a soft spot for). This is illustrated by Phil Townsend – it’s not always all that easy to be sure who the illustrator is when it is finished quite differently from the pen-and-ink linework we are used to seeing in people’s comics, but the girl’s figure in the page shown above is unmistakeably Townsend. I have attributed this Book’s cover to Townsend too; that is harder to be sure about as I haven’t seen much painted full-colour artwork of his, but his faces are quite distinctive and I feel on reasonably good ground. (I’m always happy for further input though of course!)

Sam and Suki Save The Day

And finally, “Sam and Suki Save The Day” is by Robert MacGillivray, in a slightly less cartoony style than he used for “Desert Island Daisy” in Jinty some years later. He is an artist I am coming to appreciate more as I see a wider range of his styles.

So, what similarities and dissimilarities do I see in this June Book, compared to Jinty? Clearly there is an overlap between these final years of June and the first year of Jinty in terms of artists (MacGillivray, Townsend, Freixas). The Jinty Annuals ongoing also included a lot of material reprinted from June, often stories drawn by John Armstrong who also features in this Book; and writer Linda O’Byrne is clearly a carry-over from June too, though presumably writing new material for each Jinty Annual [edited to add – not sure why I said this last bit as Linda O’Byrne is not in either of my June Annuals!]. This gives the June book quite a similar feel superficially to the usual Jinty Annual. I think it’s also not too far-fetched to point to the logo for the two titles, which at least at this point in June’s evolution are quite similar, both featuring a golden-yellow colour and a slightly italic font.

I can see a few differences in approach, though. For one thing, June has a more old-fashioned feeling; the schoolgirls are uniformed, seemingly at fee-paying schools, denizens of that ‘school story’ world. Villains are self-interested not cruel, and lives are hardly ever at risk. One devotee of June on the Comics UK Forum would probably call this a nice change from the ‘depressing’ world of Tammy and early Jinty, so of course it all depends on your taste! (Having said this, of course June did include some stories of this ilk, as some were reprinted in later Jinty Annuals – “She Couldn’t Remember!” in the 1981 Annual being a particularly good example.)

For another, without doing a detailed comparison, it seems to me that this June Book is probably an item with rather higher production values than the typical Jinty Annual. The majority of the pages are printed in two or more colours, though the artwork itself is not always coloured (an extra step of work is required for this of course, as well as potentially more expensive printing). Comics pages such as “The Girl From Tibet” are produced in what looks like a line-and-wash technique, which again I think is likely to mean more expensive printing techniques for those pages. More of the writers are credited; this may or may not be associated with higher costs, but clearly they are ‘names’ that are worth printing, either because the agent for that writer has negotiated that, or because they are deemed sufficiently well-known to be worth it. And finally, nothing in this Book seems to be obviously reprinted from earlier publications; it has all been produced for an annual in this printing format, and looks like it is all original material. This is quite a big difference from the typical Jinty annual of latter times.

Jinty Annual 1978

Cover Jinty Annual 1978

Cover by Audrey Fawley

In this annual:

  • House of Secrets (artist Ken Houghton)
  • For Love of Smudge (text story written by Linda O’Byrne, illustrated by Terry Aspin)
  • Luck of the Draw: A Dora Dogsbody Story (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Salt, Mustard, Vinegar, Pepper (quiz)
  • Alley Cat
  • Shelagh’s Shadow (artist John Armstrong)
  • Potty Proverbs (poem)
  • Maker of Dreams (text story, possibly illustrated by Tony Higham)
  • It’s a Puzzle!
  • Nature’s Wonderful Ways (feature)
  • Take It With A Pinch of Salt (feature)
  • “Purrfectly” Puzzling!
  • A Great Partnership (Fonteyn and Nureyev pin-up)
  • Beautiful Butterflies (feature)
  • Cook Up A Party! (feature)
  • Jiffy Jewellery! (feature)
  • The Gift of Christmas (poem)
  • Girl Pearl Divers of Japan (feature)
  • The Lost Valley (Uncle Pete story; artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Blue and the Babe (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Nature’s Wonderful Ways (feature)
  • Jinty Sets You Some Teasers (puzzle page)
  • Good Knight! (text story, illustrated by Terry Aspin)
  • Black Friday (artist unknown artist ‘Concrete Surfer’)
  • Spirit of the Snows
  • Be Snap Happy! (feature)
  • Where Is My Mother? (Uncle Pete story; artist Alberto Salinas)
  • What A Giggle! (gag cartoons)
  • Nature’s Wonderful Ways (feature)
  • Naomi’s Moment of Truth (text story, illustrated by unknown artist ‘Concrete Surfer’)
  • Attacked By Condors! (non-fiction feature)
  • Pretty Clued-Up? (quiz)
  • A Life For a Life (Uncle Pete story; artist John Armstrong)
  • Washday Blues (text story)

Now this is a proper Jinty annual! It has lots of recognizably Jinty artists (Jim Baikie, Trini Tinturé, Ana Rodriguez, Terry Aspin), plenty of good solid stories, and a nice long complete story that has intrigue, sports, and dramatic cruelty. Oh wait, that last bit makes it sound like Tammy too!

“House of Secrets” is a straightforward-enough ghost story with a happy ending; Ken Houghton’s art seems a little on the stiff side here, but overall the story works well. Text story “For Love of Smudge”, illustrated by Terry Aspin and written by Linda O’Byrne, is a read that gives more back; the plot of fed-up mother manipulated by a so-called friend, all of which impacts badly on the girl protagonist and her dog Smudge, raises it from being a straight-forward animal story.

For The Love of Smudge

The Dora Dogsbody story is here drawn by Jim Baikie; it’s nice to see a Jinty regular even when drawn by an unexpected artist (if also a Jinty regular himself). Baikie does a good job but I can’t help feeling that his Ma Siddons, in particular, ends up rather more hag-like than when drawn by the more slapstick Casanovas.

Luck of the Draw! pg 2

“Shelagh’s Shadow” is the long story, presumably reprinted from June. I guess that when that title ended, John Armstrong moved in directions that did not primarily include Jinty – he was featured in Tammy, of course, and I suppose that might have taken up a lot of his time until he was perhaps brought over to Misty by Pat Mills. This story has great swimming and diving sequences, and the strong depiction of facial expression that Armstrong is particularly good at, so it must have been right up his street. Ann Brent is the mysterious girl who shadows swimming champ Shelagh; Ann is under the thumb of her frightening guardian and swimming coach and multiple layers of deception need to be unravelled before the end.

Shelagh's Shadow pg 1

Mistyfan has posted about the 1982 annual which includes a good dose of Gypsy Rose stories; Gypsy Rose had just about started in Jinty by now but perhaps was not solidly enough established to feature in the annual? For whatever reason, all the strange storyteller spooky tales in this annual were ‘Uncle Pete’ reprints. The second to last of the stories reprinted has a signature showing it is by Alberto Salinas, a beautiful Spanish artist.

Uncle Pete - Where Is My Mother?

There are two outings for the artist I think is the “Concrete Surfer” unknown artist – the first in the complete short story “Black Friday” (thrilling adventures with wildlife and the wild outdoors). This is competent but looks like an early outing for this artist as a comics artist. The text story “Naomi’s Moment of Truth” has rather more polished artwork which works well; the story is one of broken friendship and lesson-learning, quite realistic actually.

I don’t have the 1982 Annual that Mistyfan acclaims as possibly the best of the Jinty annuals; nevertheless, this is a great one well worth looking out for.