Category Archives: Translations and Reprints

Esther Y Su Mundo, vols 1 & 15

I have recently been to Madrid and saw two relevant comics items when I was out there. One was a free item, sponsored by Telefonica, about Paralympic swimmer Teresa Perales. (Digital version available via this link.) It’s a very interesting and well-done comic overall, although as an anthology there are abrupt transitions in style from the serious to the humorous to the positively silly. The overall tone is pretty serious in that it recounts Perales’ achievements and tribulations as a Paralympic athlete, but it also has plenty of time for humorous and revelatory asides on on the difficulties as a wheelchair user of making one’s way through a world designed for able-bodied people.

The first story in the comic was by Purita Campos, the very popular artist on Patty’s World. This caught my attention and got me to look twice at the free comic in the first place, but it also meant that I had Campos and her popular creation in mind when I went into a bookshop a day or two later, at which point I asked if there was a collected edition of the Spanish edition of Patty’s World – “Esther Y Su Mundo”. Indeed there was – a handsome reissue of at least 15 volumes of the story, advertised as “One of the great classics of Spanish comics in a new re-coloured edition”. I bought volumes 1 and 15, so as to be able to get a sense of how the comic has developed over the years since its first pages were published in 1971. I am not sure what year of original publication Vol 15 relates to, ie how long a time-span is represented in my two selected volumes; certainly a number of years, but I suspect not the full original publication span of 1971 – 1988.

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They are solid, substantial-feeling editions: 96 pages long, which is slightly less than the 114 pages of the Rebellion Misty reprint (and substantially less than the 192 page whopper reprint of Monster), but the hardback binding, handsome red cloth covering of the spine, and the full colour cover and insides, make for a very enticing package. The price is pretty comparable to the UK reprints I mention above – around £15 – £16, with fluctuations depending on the exchange rate with the Euro. The end papers are a greyscale montage of images from the various years covered in the volumes, and showcase Purita Campos’ beautiful art very nicely.

“Patty’s World” is not something I knew anything at all about until quite recently, and I hadn’t ever read any of it either in the original version or in translation. The first volume starts with Patty Lucas (or Esther Lucas as I will now think of her, having only read the Spanish version!) just turning thirteen. Lots happens to her in the pages of the comic – the pace is quite different from the 14 – 18 episodes of what I think of as a typical girls comic story. This story doesn’t build up and up to a dramatic finale – in this first volume, Esther fights with her family and her best friend and then makes up again, gets into trouble when someone thinks she is shoplifting, worries about her mother getting remarried, pines after a boy from her school, and has a mutual hate society going on with nasty Doreen. It’s all down to earth and (more or less) realistic, apart from the frenetic pace that it all goes at.

It’s not the sort of story that I normally go for very much; and for me the first volume was more of a curiosity item than something that hooked me. However, Volume 15 felt like it would do more for me – it develop story arcs a little more slowly and gives them more time to breathe. I think the stories are also actually better, too: the first arc in the book is genuinely amusing (Esther and her friend Rita swop lives for a day and it gets very silly). It also clearly has more of an edge, though this is really an extension of what we saw right at the beginning. One of the things going on in Esther’s life at thirteen is that her father died some years previously and her mother is considering remarrying, with all the adjustment that this brings. And in Volume 15 Rita’s mother is shown to have died in a previous volume, and her father has since remarried – the stepmother role is shown in a positive light even though tempers can flare. It’s all very human and warm. I think the focus on boy-chasing would put me off if I was embarking on a prolonged read, but overall I can certainly see how readers could end up living in this world and greatly enjoying the characters and the stories.

Of course for many people the draw will also be the art. Purita Campos is great at fluid, expressive characters of all ages, but her protagonists as they move from being girls to young women are her particular focus of course – and she imbues everyone with their own distinctive looks and ways of being, from flirty Rita and annoying Doreen to girl-next-door Esther. The girls are sassy and sexy without crossing a line, the boys are rather cute, and it’s all fun.

Will we ever see a UK reprint edition? The title that it originally appeared in, Princess Tina, started to be published before the 1971 cutoff date that places it outside of Rebellion’s ownership, but the story and the character was published after 1 January 1971. The fact that the Spanish edition has gone through numerous reprintings and new editions clearly indicates that those rights must be clearly established by someone, even if the UK rights have historically been somewhat tangled. The Spanish readership seem to have an ongoing love for this character: the back cover blurb acclaims the comic as a ‘great classic of Spanish comics’ which has been loved by ‘three generations of readers both male and female’. The UK doesn’t have anything like as strong a memory or feeling about this story, though there will certainly be many with fond memories of it in this country. But if this story and this character – which after all is actually set in the UK, with right-hand drive cars, British bobbies, and double-decker buses! – is so popular in Spain with a general audience, it has perhaps the strongest chance to break into that teen market than any of the other Rebellion content acquisition. That is, so long as this is even part of that purchase…

Esther Y Su Mundo volume 1 and volume 15. 96 pp, 17.95 EUR (around the £15 – £16 mark at current exchange rates). Story by Phillip Douglas, art by Purita Campos

Misty: Moonchild & The Four Faces of Eve (2016)

This is a review of the Rebellion reprint of two stories from Misty: “Moonchild” and “The Four Faces of Eve”. Many thanks to Rebellion for supplying this review copy.

The announcement last year that Rebellion were to reprint two classic stories from Misty was met with great excitement. How does the reality match to our heightened expectations? What might we like to see Rebellion do more of in any future reprints of IPC material, and what might we want them to avoid if possible?

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The two stories themselves are likely to be familiar to many readers of this blog and I won’t cover the content of the stories at all in this review. (Other reviews, such as this one on FA Comiczine, cover this territory.) “Moonchild” is a definite classic and would spring to most people’s minds when thinking of key stories from Misty. It also has the name recognition factor of Pat Mills; John Armstrong is probably less well known to those who are not already fans of UK girls comics, but is also familiar from Tammy‘s “Bella at the Bar”. “The Four Faces of Eve” isn’t one of the stories I would necessarily immediately think of when coming up with classics from Misty, but Malcolm Shaw can certainly make a tale speed along and the Brian Delaney art is stylish and beautiful. I don’t think any knowledgeable reader of UK girls comics would have a problem with these two stories having been chosen to represent Misty in the first modern reprint edition, though depending on individual preferences we might have made slightly different choices.

The book itself felt a bit thin when I took it from the (large) packaging, but that was slightly illusory: it’s a good size book, and the fact it combines two stories of a decent length means that you feel that it gives you enough to get your teeth into. However at 114 pages it still feels like a relatively quick read; fellow Rebellion title “Monster”, reprinted from Scream & the Eagle, clocks in at 192 pages so I think there is room to push the boat out and include more pages next time. The print and production qualities are high (much higher than the original newsprint of course), though there are some aesthetic choices that will succeed with some readers and maybe not with all. Specifically, the cover features beautiful Shirley Bellwood art, but the pink (on Misty’s skin and dress) has come out with the half-tone screen dots very visible: surely done on purpose as this is not anything constrained by current production processes. The title logo has also been re-designed, using a rather wiggly and wavy font: I don’t know why anyone would use anything other than the classic logo, unless the rights to that logo had not been acquired at the time? It’s not a bad choice in itself – I like the little crescent moon that tops the letter ‘i’ in the title – but it feels like a bit of an unnecessary change.

There’s a good amount of extra material inside. Pat Mills has written a foreword about the historical context of girls comics publishing of the time, and how the title Misty was originally created; generous credit given to fellow creator Malcolm Shaw in particular and many readers of this blog will be glad to see Mavis Miller get a namecheck too. At the back of the book, Dr Julia Round has written a lovely tribute to Shirley Bellwood, and there are brief biographies of all four creators (Brian Delaney’s is particularly brief but I suspect there may be limited biographical information available about him). Finally, there are one or two craft items included – how to make a witch’s hat, and how to make a tree-devil mask. I think these are a great touch: I suspect they were added for kitsch value but they bring something extra of their own to the reprint. More of this sort of thing in any reprint please!

Of course the key component to any such reprint is the treatment of the comic pages themselves. The printing is nice and crisp and you wouldn’t particularly guess it had been scanned from a published edition. Will Morgan makes the observation (in his review on FA) that John Armstrong’s art suffers because it includes so many thin lines, which are lost in the production: that’s true, but I think most readers wouldn’t notice, as they will be dragged along by the story. The faces and the other details in the story remain compelling – there are large standout images throughout, that arrest the reader’s attention regardless of individual fine detail elements that are lost.

I am also sure that hardly anyone would notice the fact that the Moonchild pages have been edited to fit a larger page size*: an extra two centimetres of art was drawn on the bottom of each page, to make it longer! It sounds absurd and obvious but in fact I have read exactly this edition (which was the version printed in the 1983 Misty Annual) more than once and have only noticed it now, when looking quite carefully. (This is just like what happened in the 1979 Jinty Annual, in the story “Trudy On Trial”.) Having said that, in some places this editing is pretty clumsily done: another time it would be far preferable to follow the model used in “The Four Faces of Eve”, where you can see the original logo from each weekly episode, and the original art dimensions are respected. (In the case of “Eve”, in particular, the story title logo and accompanying art is really beautifully done and is different in almost every episode, so it would be a real loss to miss this out.)

[*Edited to add: I should clarify here that Rebellion themselves haven’t edited the art to fit a larger page size, but they have chosen a source to scan from where this had been done, that is, when the story was reprinted in the 1983 Misty Annual.]

I know this review is a little odd in focusing so strongly on the editorial and publishing choices made when creating this reprint, rather than on the stories themselves. As you will understand, I am keen to understand what any future reprints from other girls comics could look like! Of course, the quality of the stories themselves is not anything I have any concerns about, but lacklustre publishing decisions can damn the best content. This first reprint from Rebellion isn’t perfect but it hits the right high notes. New readers will find plenty to love, while those who already know the content will be very happy to see a professional, competently-executed edition produced by people who perhaps are still figuring out some of the details of what will work best, but who are very much moving in a welcome direction. Here’s hoping it is the success it deserves to be!

Misty: Featuring Moonchild & The Four Faces of Eve. Rebellion Publishing, 2016. ISBN 9781781084526

Katy

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Katy. This is a title that is so obscure that I cannot find any piece on it or jpegs on the Internet (save at a recent eBay auction, which are reproduced here). The only source on Katy so far is this thread from Comics UK forum http://comicsuk.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=140&t=6484

Katy lasted ten issues. She appeared fortnightly, from #1, 31 October 1986 to #10, 6 March 1987. She then merged with Barbie.

What gives Katy her place on this blog is that she reprinted some stories from Jinty. Other reprints came from Tammy, Misty, Whizzer & Chips, Sandie, and other sources that have not yet been identified. The beauty is that Katy reprinted the stories in full colour!

If anyone can supply further information on Katy it would be most appreciated.

Stories in Katy

Creepy Crawley – Jinty

Combing Her Golden Hair – Jinty. Retitled “Comb of Mystery”

Alone in London – original comic unknown

The Upper Crust – Tammy

Witch Hazel – Tammy

Guitar Girl – Tammy

Claws (cat cartoon) – Whoopee!

The Cats of Carey St – Misty

Sister to a Star – Sandie

Minnie’s Mixer (cartoon) – Whizzer & Chips

The Petticoat Pirate – original comic unknown

Dora Dogsbody – Jinty

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Update: Further scans are now available. They have established that most of the Katy covers were reproduced from Princess Tina, such as this one. All the covers were also used for the Dutch Tina.23ubw2a

And the following scans of the contents have been added. “Comb of Mystery” is “Combing her Golden Hair” under a new title.

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Jinty and Girl Picture Library

Girls picture libraries. The monthly Commando-style digests where girls could read a complete 64-page story every month as a supplement to their regular weekly comic. Thrillers, humour, drama, horror, supernatural, heart-breakers, fantasy or science fiction stories were told in a once-a-month, one-volume complete story.

The picture libraries also provided stories about favourite regulars such as The Four Marys, Wee Slavey and The Comp. Occasionally there were variations in the formula, such as a story being told over two picture libraries, or a picture library featuring several short stories instead of one complete one. One example was “Scream!”, which told five scarey stories that made you scream.

Picture libraries were a long-running staple of four of DCT’s titles: Bunty, Judy, Mandy and Debbie. The Bunty picture libraries lasted 455 issues. This is not surprising as Bunty herself is the longest-running girls’ title in history. The Mandy books finished at the same time as the Bunty ones, but at 277 books. Judy produced 375 books and Debbie 197 books. Towards the end of the run reprints appeared although original stories continued.

In IPC the girls’ picture library had a more unusual and uneven history. June and Princess Tina were the only titles to produce any long-running ones. In fact, the June picture library eventually recycled the old Princess logo to become the wordy title, “June and School Friend and Princess Library Picture Library“. Maybe this was why “Picture Library” was dropped on the cover at some point after #458, though the spine continued to say “June and School Friend and Princess Picture Library” to the end of its run.

Tammy and Jinty were never given any picture libraries although they lasted the longest after June. Yet the photo-story comic, Girl (series 2) was given her own picture library. This lasted for just 30 books. Miniscule compared with the rich histories of the June picture library and its counterparts from DCT. But what gives Girl Picture Library its place on this blog is that although some of the libraries were original material, many of them also reprinted material from Jinty and Tammy.

Most of the reprints appeared under revised titles, some of which were awful and showed little thinking. For example, “Vision of Vanity Fayre” from Tammy was reprinted in Girl Picture Library #2 under the the extremely lame title of “Dear Diary”. Strangely, the last three Girl picture libraries reprinted Tammy stories under their original titles.

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There were some oddities and even downright sloppiness in the run, which may indicate what sort of budget or editorship that the series was running to. For example, the cover of #16 (reprint of “My Heart Belongs to Buttons”) changes the appearance of the heroine. Readers must have been surprised or irritated when they opened the issue and found the brunette heroine inside bearing no resemblance to the girl on the cover. And the girl who appears on the cover of #25 (reprint of “Shadow on the Fen”, above) has the wrong hair colour – she is blond on the cover but is a brunette in the story. The witchfinder too looks different – he looks younger and has a fuller face than the craggly gaunt face rendered by Douglas Perry. Still, it is a beautiful, haunting cover.

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A more striking oddity was “Sue’s Daily Dozen” being reprinted over two volumes: “Spellbound” and “Bewitched”. But there was no indication in “Spellbound” to say “to be continued”. Readers must have wondered why the story suddenly stopped abruptly. The remaining pages are devoted to “Tiny Tina”, which is Wee Sue under a revised title. “Cathy’s Casebook” also appears in two volumes: “Cathy’s Crusade” and “Dr Cathy”. But the reprint is even odder in that “Dr Cathy” does not come immediately after “Cathy’s Crusade” – “The Old Mill” is in between them.

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Naturally, some material and panels had to be cut or modified to make the reprints fit into 64-page pocket size volumes. For example, “Moments of Terror”, which reprints “Waves of Fear”, deletes Priscilla Heath and the orienteering club sequences. Both of these played a key role in the resolution of the story in its original run – realising that the panic Clare Harvey had while her friend was drowning in a cave was a claustrophobia attack and not the cowardice that has made her the most hated girl in town. The revelation is now made by Clare’s mother after Rachel tells her about the trick Jean pulled – playing on Clare’s claustrophobia – to get her expelled.

On the other hand, the editing also mercifully reduces some of Clare’s ordeal; for example, the hostility Clare receives from the townsfolk has been removed completely. Some of the bullying at school and the harsh treatment Clare gets from her parents has been deleted as well. The editing is pretty seamless, but there is one glitch: when Clare is pushed to the brink of suicide, she thinks the business at the club was the last straw. With the orienteering club deleted, readers must immediately have wondered “what club?” or “what’s missing here?”. They would know it’s been reprinted from somewhere else because there was always a caption saying “previously published” for the reprint material.

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Cutting out material also had the unfortunate effect of removing key turning points in some plots. For example, the reprint of “Thursday’s Child” removes the scene where an evil flag forces a man to nearly saw his own hand off. Yes, it’s gruesome. But in the original run it was what made the villainess, Julie, who had been using the flag’s power to conduct a revenge campaign against her future mother, Thursday, come to her senses and realise the flag had to be destroyed.

Below is a list of the Girl Picture Libraries, along with their original titles and appearances. The only one that has not been identified is “Penny’s Best Friend” in #8. It could be that this was an original story as not all the Girl Picture Libraries carried reprints, but I need to confirm this.

  1. Patty’s World – original
  2. Dear Diary – Vision of Vanity Fayre from Tammy
  3. Patty’s World – original
  4. The Dolphin Mystery – The Disappearing Dolphin from Jinty
  5. Cathy’s Crusade – Part 1 of Cathy’s Casebook from Jinty
  6. The Old Mill – original
  7. Dr Cathy – Part 2 of Cathy’s Casebook from Jinty
  8. Penny’s Best Friend – ?
  9. Circus Waif – Wild Rose from Jinty
  10. Stormy Seas – original
  11. Moments of Terror – Waves of Fear from Jinty
  12. The Shadow – Mike and Terry from Jinty
  13. Princess Wanted! – The Perfect Princess from Jinty
  14. The Black Sheep – Black Sheep of the Bartons from Jinty
  15. I’ll Never Sing Again! – Nothing to Sing About from Jinty
  16. A Second Chance – My Heart Belongs to Buttons from Jinty
  17. Winner-Loser! – No Medals for Marie from Jinty
  18. Spellbound! – Part 1 of Sue’s Daily Dozen from Jinty, plus A Wee Sue story from Tammy reprinted as Tiny Tina
  19. Bewitched! – Part 2 of Sue’s Daily Dozen from Jinty, plus a Strange Story, “A Monumental Detective” reprinted as “The Crook Catchers”
  20. The Inheritance – Race for a Fortune from Jinty
  21. The Fortune-Teller – Cursed to be a Coward! Jinty
  22. Tina’s Temper – Temper, Temper, Tina! Tammy
  23. Fame and Fortune – Make the Headlines, Hannah! Tammy
  24. Wonder Girl – Betta to Lose from Tammy
  25. The Witchfinder – Shadow on the Fen from Jinty
  26. Sweet and Sour – The Sweet and Sour Rivals from Jinty
  27. Carol in Camelot – Carol in Camelot St from Tammy
  28. The Happiest Days – Tammy
  29. Thursday’s Child – Tammy
  30. A Girl Called Midnight – Tammy