Category Archives: Translations and Reprints

Jinty: Land of No Tears! and The Human Zoo review by Olivia Hicks

Guest post: many thanks to Olivia Hicks for reviewing the Rebellion reprint edition of Land of No Tears and The Human Zoo

I have a somewhat fond, nostalgic relationship with Jinty, considering how little of it I have read. I had never (prior to this volume) read a complete Jinty story, and the real reason that Jinty occupies such a place in my heart is because it was the favourite comic of my mum, back when she was buying comics. So I was excited to see Jinty back in print, even if, on paper, neither of the stories particularly appealed to me. Land of No Tears! Uhm, ok. The Human Zoo? If we must. This was not, on the surface, the bizarre cruel science fiction that Jinty, through word of mouth and internet blog culture, had been distilled into for me. I wanted a Worlds Apart reprinting!

I had read about half of Land of No Tears! in the British Library, and had found it semi-engaging. The Human Zoo I had deliberately avoided. From the brief blurbs I had read, I had no interest in the story. So I settled down with my copy of the new Rebellion reprint, with my expectations quite muted. Warning: major spoilers for both stories follow (although I assume most of you have either read the stories or are aware of the plot!).

Land of No Tears! is written by Pat Mills and has art by Guy Peeters, and is about Cassy Shaw. She was born with one leg shorter than the other, and she uses her disability to manipulate those around her.  One day, whilst undergoing an operation to lengthen her leg (which Cassy is dreading, because she will no longer be able to use her disability to get what she wants), the anaesthesia somehow sends her through time to a future where humanity has achieved physical perfection and a lack of emotion, and those like Cassy (with Grade One Deformities) are forced to work as slaves for the benefit of the Alphas.

The story is in many ways quite typical; there is, of course, a mystery to be solved (what is the secret of Cassy’s new friend Miranda, and her mother), a lesson to be learned (with hard work you can overcome), and a problem which can, conveniently, be solved with sports; in this case, winning a sports championship will result in the complete overhaul of an entire society’s social structure! Cassy is an interesting main character because she resists the ‘victim-heroine’ coding of many girls’ comics characters. In fact, at the beginning, Mills goes out of the way to make her cynical and quite unsympathetic. This is, of course, to make her character arc more striking; the selfish, cynical, bratty lone wolf has to become an inspirational team leader and motivator who works and trains hard, and thus redeems herself. I’ve read quite a few girls’ comics stories now where villainous characters are shown using disability as a cover for their actions, so there seems to be a thread of problematic treatment of disability running throughout these comics, which Land of No Tears! falls into. The idea of a society divided by physical and emotional ability is a solid science fiction trope, but I think it is telling that the only disabilities Mills shows are: wearing glasses, being overweight and having a bald patch. The comic really skirts over disability (apart from in the beginning, when we see Cassy monopolising it for her own benefit; something which Teresa May and her cronies in the Department of Work and Pensions already think is widespread). ‘But Olivia!’ you say, ‘It’s a comic from the 1970s, how in depth can it be?’ Well, when you consider what Malcom Shaw achieves with the topic of animals rights in the accompanying tale, I think it’s fair to critique Mills for not really engaging with how society demonises disability.

Upon rereading (and finishing) Land of No Tears! in this collection, my favourite bit was definitely the passage where we see how Miranda lost her hair. The image of the robot nurse singing to the screaming baby who is being burned was pretty affecting and grim, and definitely will stay with me. It was an excellent example of horror being utilised in girls’ comics.

I also enjoyed the character arc of Perfecta. Her battle with those dreaded emotions was quite well done. I felt the ending, where Perfecta damaged her spine was a bit too literal and on the nose as punishment for her actions within the text. I also felt that the central mystery of Miranda and her mother was quite an easy one to solve, but then I’m in my mid-twenties, so definitely not the target audience of a youngster reading it week to week!

Whilst I enjoyed both stories, I definitely preferred The Human Zoo to Land of No Tears! This one was a cracker! Written by Shaw, with art again by Peeters, The Human Zoo is about twins Shona and Jenny, who are abducted by aliens. Jenny is experimented on in an allegory of animal testing, and Shona is sent to a zoo with some other captives. There is more than a little ‘Planet of the Apes’ vibe in this comic, and the way Shaw explored human nature in this story was exceptional. At one point Shona becomes a pet for alien girl Tamsha, but is sent back to the zoo for being too rebellious. Tamsha then replaces her with a more ‘docile’ human, another school girl who is more than happy to ‘act the pet’ in order to secure a cushy life. Another excellent scene was when the aliens starve the humans in order have the equivalent of a Chimpanzee’s Tea Party. Shaw’s central message, that we ‘dehumanize’ animals in order to profit off them and entertain ourselves, was, yes, preachy, but he dramatized it so skilfully that it worked. He also showed tension well, by allowing us to understand both the aliens and the humans, but never letting them understand each other.

The Human Zoo crammed quite a lot into its sixty pages: animal testing, animals rights activists, the morality of having pets, the morality of zoos, religion, forgiveness; all this and more gets thrown into the blender, and some of the threads (such as when Shona inadvertently becomes a god to the humans who have escaped captivity) are a little underdeveloped. There’s also a suggestion that the aliens are responsible for such mysterious mass disappearances as the Mary Celeste, which was interesting but I would have liked worked out just a bit more.

Both stories end with a ‘was it a dream….?’ resolution. In Land of No Tears!, Cassy learns from her mistakes and takes her lessons forward into her old life. However, much more poignantly, Shaw has Shona and Jenny completely forget their adventures, erasing their character growth and dooming them to continue in their ways. I’m a bit of a Shaw fan, as this review evidences!

To conclude, I was sceptical at first about the two stories, but ended up thoroughly enjoying them: I think this tells us that girls’ comics are far more than the sum of their plot synopsises! Malcolm Shaw was a top tier talent; I’m glad that the Rebellion reprints are reintroducing people to his work. The volume itself is quite beautiful, and the use of blue and yellow spot colouring on the back cover is effective (although I wish they had kept the original trippy colours for the cover of Jinty #1). My minor gripe is that it towers over both my 2000 AD and Misty trade paper backs. The sight of a single Jinty volume peeking over all the others irritated me enough that I had to relocate Jinty and Misty to a new section of my bookshelf. Such is the price of bookshelf perfection.

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Further reprints from Rebellion: “Bella” and two Jinty stories

You will perhaps have already seen the latest exciting information on the internet: Rebellion Publishing is bringing out two volumes of girls comics reprints from Tammy and from Jinty respectively.

bella

Bella at the Bar” is billed, appropriately, as “A modern day Cinderella story”. At 96 pages it is the right length to include the first two “Bella” stories but the blurb is fairly general and gives little away to the aficionado as to exactly what the contents are. It seems unlikely that it includes Bella’s later struggles to reach the Moscow Olympics or travels to mysterious Arab countries where she tutors princesses – or at least not yet, as this is billed as Book One. May there be many more!

Rebellion have chosen a strong pair of stories from Jinty to launch what is again billed as Volume One of (hopefully) a series: “The Human Zoo” and “Land of No Tears”. No cover is shown on the initial announcement on the Simon & Schuster website, but there are plenty of great images that could be used, of course. As with the Misty volumes, they have made sure to link the two stories in some clear way – this time rather than choosing the same author, they have gone for the same artist. Guy Peeters is an under-recognized girls’ comics artist and I am glad to see him get more attention.

Jinty cover 19 August 1978

Where possible, I am keen to link to the original publisher’s site. I see that the Bella book is listed as being one of the “Treasury of British Comics” line, but it is not yet mentioned on the specific website for that imprint. I found it on the Simon & Schuster website: I think that Rebellion have a distribution deal with them, which is presumably why it is listed there. I’m not quite sure why the Jinty volume is listed as being one of Rebellion’s Graphic Novels (a list that on searching seems to include “Charley’s War” and “Marney the Fox”, but also some less all-ages titles such as “Bleach”). It would be nice to see all the announced titles listed clearly on the Treasury of British Comics site, which is a good dedicated shopfront that is easy to navigate and use.

Finally, a word of warning to other sites announcing these two new titles  and future ones in the series – be careful to attribute the creators and the stories correctly. “Bella” is correctly credited as being by Jenny McDade as writer and John Armstrong as artist, but in future Bella stories it will be harder to be sure of the writer. During Tammy’s era of printing credits, Primrose Cumming is known to have been the writer of the time – hopefully the publishers will check with erstwhile editor Wilf Prigmore in case there was any other writer in between those two times, but certainly Jenny McDade did not write all the Bella stories over the ten years that it ran.

“The Human Zoo and Land of No Tears” is billed as being by Pat Mills as writer and Guy Peeters as artist. The sharp-eyed reader of this blog will spot straight away that “The Human Zoo” is known not to have been written by Mills – although the writer is not definitively established it is thought likely to have been one of Malcolm Shaw’s. That uncertainty presumably makes it harder for the publishers to be clear about the authorship: in the circumstances they can’t just say straight out that it is by Malcolm Shaw I suppose. However, that lack of clarity will muddy the waters for others and I fear it will lead to a perpetuation of the unexamined notion that Pat Mills wrote the vast majority of girls comics – something which he does not himself claim, but which others not infrequently do on his behalf.

Jinty Titles in Latin Part 3

Here is my third volume of Jinty titles translated into Latin, with some brief commentary.

  1. In loco Mariae (In Place of Mary i.e. I’ll Make up for Mary)

A simple matter of taking the phrase in loco parentis [in place of parent] and adapting it to what Ann is trying to do – take the place of Mary.

  1. Qui est mater Rosae? (Who is Rose’s Mother? i.e. Wild Rose)

At first I thought of “Who is the woman with the moon scar?”, but it was too wordy. I settled on a much simpler title that summed up the mystery of the story and the question Rose is trying to answer.

  1. Hoc robotum lacrimare potest (This Robot Can Cry i.e. The Robot Who Cried)

Similar to the English title, but it is more reflective of how this particular robot was capable of human emotion.

  1. Effugium ex exilio (Escape from Banishment i.e. Bound for Botany Bay)

A working translation for another title gave me the idea of starting with a title that had the Latin for “escape” in it. The end result had alliteration all the way through the title.

  1. Petrus curandus est! (Peter Must Be Cured! i.e. For Peter’s Sake!)

The grammar in Cato’s famous tagline, Carthago delenda est [Carthage must be destroyed] was the inspiration for this one.

  1. Pascendum appetitum aeternum (Feeding the eternal appetite i.e. Food for Fagin)

Straight off I decided not to use the name of the dog in the title, and I never could stand those Oliver Twist references in the story anyway (would a mum seriously name her daughter Olivia Twist?). Instead, I worked on a title that commented on the increasingly difficult task of trying to keep up with that mountainous appetite of Fagin’s on the family’s limited income.

  1. Daemonium, quod intro est (The Demon that is Within i.e. The Mystery of Martine)

I decided against a title that used “Martine”. Instead, I went for translating the name of the play in the story “The Demon Within”, as its title summed up what was going on.

  1. Neglecti et superbi sumus (We are Neglected but Proud i.e. A Boy Like Bobby)

Two boys who were neglected and living in a squalid flat. But they still had their pride, which made it difficult for our heroine to reach out to them. So this was the basis for the Latin translation. Originally I thought of “Two neglected boys”, but that did not sound very interesting. I decided that a title that reflected their pride showing through their neglect made it more interesting. The endings of the adjectives also gave it alliteration.

Misty Vol. 2: The Sentinels & End of the Line [2017]

Misty Volume 2

Contents

  • The Sentinels (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Malcolm Shaw)
  • End of the Line (artist John Richardson, writer Malcolm Shaw)
  • Your Face is Your Fortune (feature)
  • Brief Biography of Creative Teams

In 2016 Rebellion brought us the first of their Misty reprint volumes. It was generally well received although there were a few quibbles. Of course this could only mean the first volume left scope for even better volumes to follow.

The second volume certainly delivers on that front, right from the front cover. Rebellion have definitely put far more thought and design into the cover than they did for the first volume. The cover really conveys the spookiness of Misty with The Sentinels silhouetted against the night sky and Misty with her trademark, the bats flying across the full moon. The return of the original logo complements the urban sprawl that the Sentinels hint at.  Having the problem Sentinel itself in full colour further enhances the creepiness of the cover because we can see just how rundown and mouldy it looks.

Reprint quality is an improvement on the first volume. The powerful black-and-white inking on glossy paper rather than the old newsprint of the original really intensifies many scenes, such as the infamous Gestapo torture cell scene in The Sentinels. On the other hand, of the finer details of white outlines against black fill do look a bit lost and hard to distinguish because of the intensity of the black inking.

The reprint of The Sentinels was the drawing card for this volume, so it is little wonder that it was used for the cover. It feels like the other reprint, End of the Line, hardly gets a look-in, which seems a bit sad. But then, The Sentinels has always been one of Misty’s serials that sticks with people, while End of the Line is less remembered.

It is not surprising that The Sentinels is one of Misty’s most popular and well-remembered stories considering the topic it tackled was extremely daring and controversial for girls’ comic: what if Hitler had won World War II? To this day, The Sentinels is the only serial in girls’ comics to use that theme. Further adding to its publicity is the recent follow-up in the Scream & Misty Halloween Special, Return of the Sentinels. However, readers are strongly advised to read The Sentinels first or at least be familiar with it before reading the sequel. Otherwise they will be just as confused as the heroine at what she encounters when she ventures into the Sentinel.

In End of the Line we go from a creepy apartment block with an entrance into a nightmare world to a creepy railway line that has something similar, but in a different manner. Unlike the Sentinel, there is genuine evil at work out to take people away, plus there are glimpses of what happens to them once they are snatched – which are of course not pleasant to see.

End of the Line is one of Misty’s more underrated serials, but hopefully its reprint alongside The Sentinels will give it more attention. It has the distinction of being the only serial in girls’ comics (at least, the only one I have seen) to be drawn by John Richardson. Richardson was more often seen drawing complete stories, the Tammy Cover Girls from Tammy, and plenty of Wee Sue.

It is annoying that Richardson only got a couple of lines’ worth in the biographical section of the volume. Surely there must be far more information available on him somewhere?

This volume could be regarded as a tribute to Malcolm Shaw, as he wrote both these serials. As we read the biographies at the end of the volume, it is sad to read that his life and career were cut short just the day before his 38th birthday.

Towards the end is a reprint of “Your Face is Your Fortune”, which is a compilation of what various types of facial features (eye colour, face shape etc) say about your personality. It would have been all right for the original readership of 8+ year-olds, but might come across as condescending for adult people who are more likely to be reading the volume. How about a reprint or two of Misty’s text stories to break up the flow of the picture stories instead? It would be more to the point, and there are plenty of well-remembered classic Misty text stories, such as “The Doorway to Evil!” and “The Little White Dot”, that could be dusted off and given a whole new lease of life in the reprint volumes.

On the whole, Misty Volume 2 delivers on being a proud step up in the Misty reprint series. It definitely makes us even more excited about Misty Volume 3 and what it will bring us.

Misty Vol. 2 Featuring: The Sentinels & End of the Line. Rebellion Publishing 2017. ISBN 978-1-78108-600-1

 

 

 

Latin Translations of Jinty Titles II: A Selection

I have been working on more Latin translations of Jinty serials. In line with Comixminx’s entry on Portuguese translations, I have taken a select few from the list and provide some commentary on them rather than posting a long list as I did before.

  1. Malincha et sceptrum magicum (Malincha and the Magic Sceptre i.e. Sceptre of the Toltecs)

I couldn’t find a Latin word for Toltec, so I came up with “magic sceptre” instead. From there it was an easy matter to use the protagonist’s name to provide alliteration. Perhaps it is not as effective as “Sceptre of the Toltecs”, but it is alliterative. As Comixminx says, girls titles would not be complete without alliteration somewhere.

  1. Citeria cara noster (Our Beloved Clown i.e. The Jinx from St Jonah’s)

This was a tough one to translate. I doubted I could find a Latin word for “jinx” that had the same context as the original title. So I googled for a Latin word for “klutz” but then it was pointed out the word may be not so suitable as it had other more negative meanings. So in the end it was “citeria”, meaning “clown”. It was alliterated with “carus –a –um”, meaning “beloved”, to express that Katie may be a jinx but everyone loves her, including the girls who regularly suffer from her jinxing. It also provided alliteration and a dash of humour that was in keeping with the strip being a humorous one.

  1. Saltandum per ludum (Dancing Through the Game i.e. Life’s a Ball for Nadine)

This was another tough one. I was thinking along the lines of a title that reflected the curious relationship between sport and dancing that ran throughout the story, but I couldn’t figure out how to go about it. Eventually I hit on the idea of something like “dancing around the game”, but as this sounded like Nadine was fooling around with the game, it became “dancing through the game”.

  1. Odium perplexum, tentamenta perplexa (Perplexing Hate, Perplexing Tests i.e. Make-Believe Mandy)

Originally I toyed with a translation that reflected how Mandy used her daydreaming to escape an intolerable home life. But I changed my mind and began to develop a title that commented on the mystery that surrounded both the hatred Mandy gets at home and the tests she undergoes, and the mystery of how and why they were connected. The adjective used for them both would provide the alliteration. “Perplexus –a –um” was chosen because it was recognisable to English speakers. It can also mean “interlaced”, which could also serve as a play on the hatred and the tests being connected.

  1. Plagae ex scarabeo aegyptio (Plagues of the Egyptian Scarab i.e. Creepy Crawley)

A title that used “brooch” was rejected because the Latin word for brooch can also mean “buckle”. Eventually I found there was an actual Latin word for “scarab” and developed the title with that. The noun “plaga –ae”, meaning “strike” or “plague”, was chosen for association with the scarab because it was short, strong and instantly recognisable. It was also reminiscent of the Ten Plagues of Egypt, which tied in with the Egyptian theme and what the scarab does.

  1. Ira ex monili indico (Wrath of the Indian Necklace i.e. Gail’s Indian Necklace)

A title that used “evil” was rejected because the necklace was not downright evil, just angry. So the title began to develop from there, and the Latin words for “wrath” and “Indian” provided alliteration.

  1. Coma aurea, pecten argenteus (Golden Hair, Silver Comb i.e. Combing Her Golden Hair)

Yes, the Latin version of Comixminx’s Portuguese translation. I think it works even better in Latin because the Latin words for “golden” and “silver” both begin with “a”, which gives an alliterative effect.

  1. Haruspex et Siccitas Longa (The Diviner and the Long Drought i.e. Jassy’s Wand of Power)

This started with “siccitas longa” (long drought), but it didn’t sound a very thrilling title. So “haruspex -spicis” (diviner) was added because it would sound like an intriguing word to English speakers and therefore provide more interest. Finally, “siccitas longa” was capitalised because the people in the story would be very likely to use capitalisation for the drought when they look back on it.

Portuguese Translations of Jinty Titles

Following on from Mistyfan’s post where she had a go at translating a number of Jinty story titles into Latin, I am going to do the same for a (smaller) number of titles. Latin is not one of my strengths though, so I will be using a modern language – namely, Brazilian Portuguese. (I was born in Brazil and speak Portuguese fluently, though it’s a long time since I have had to speak it day in and day out, so there are definite rusty patches in my vocabulary.)  won’t be doing as many as Mistyfan managed, but I will be putting a little commentary behind my thought processes so that will bring something different to the proceedings.

I started with “Combing Her Golden Hair“, turning it into “Pente de prata, cabelo de ouro” [literally, silver comb, golden hair]. I thought that it was important to stick to the allusive nature of the story title – it wouldn’t have been appropriate to call it something spoiler-y like “the mermaid’s daughter” or anything. Having said that, there is a song lyric which goes “Qual é o pente que te penteia” which might have possibly worked [literally, what is the comb that combs your hair?], but the song has specific references to Black Brazilian hair types so probably not a great match.

The Human Zoo” is another nicely allusive story title in Jinty. The Portuguese for ‘zoo’ is quite long – jardim zoologico – so instead I turned it into “Somos pessoas, não animais!” [literally, we are people, not animals!]. I wonder if it might have overtones of political or racial repression rather than the animal rights references that the original story had – not that I think the original writer would have been against that sort of extension as such, but it might be a shift in meaning.

It wouldn’t be a representative sample of girls’ story titles if it didn’t have an alliterative title or two somewhere in the mix. “Paula’s Puppets” and “The Disappearing Dolphin” seemed like good ones to try. If you are going to reference a girl’s name then you have to match it to the locality it’s going to be read in – Paula would be fine to use as a Brazilian girl’s name but it wouldn’t alliterate with the word for puppet [marionete] so that had to be changed. I’d initially thought of using the name Maria, which is a very normal name in Brazil, but it seemed a bit too ordinary and so I went with “As marionetes da Mônica”. Another option might perhaps have been “Mônica dos marionetes” [Monica of the puppets] but the first one might be more likely to also mean that other characters in the story are being played for puppets by Paula.

“O boto que desaparece” is a very straightforward translation of the original title – it just means ‘the dolphin which disappears’. I didn’t think that this story really called for something cleverer – it’s a straightforward thriller / action story at its heart. It’s a shame to miss out on the alliteration though – not always going to be possible to transfer everything to the target language, of course! Perhaps someone whose Portuguese was less rusty would make a neater job of it. Having said that, I well remember that the popular film “Airplane” was rendered into “Fasten your seatbelts, the pilot has disappeared!” on its cinema release in Brazil – so it’s not always about a faithful adaptation, to be fair.

On our pages about translations into other languages (the one on Dutch translations is the longest I think) you can see a similar range of translation choices – some are fairly literal / exact translations (Wenna the Witch / Wenna de heks), some are very similar but with choices to match the local market more closely (Kerry in the Clouds / Klaartje in de wolken), some are about as allusive as the original (The Human Zoo / Als beesten in een kooi [Like Animals in a Cage]; or another great example is Come into My Parlour (1977-78): Kom maar in mijn web [Just Come into My Web]).

I find the cases where the translator has gone in quite a different direction to be almost more intriguing – did they think the original title wasn’t exciting enough? was there a risk of giving away plot twists ahead of time? – but then it was also in keeping with some of the other off-piste titles seen in some of the girls’ comics publishing. Of this last group, I think my top pick might be the choice to turn “Gail’s Indian Necklace” into the name of the Indian deity on the necklace, Anak-Har-Li – not a very obvious choice, and one which makes the rather run-of-the-mill original title into something rather more unexpected I think.

Latin Translations of Jinty Titles

Recently I bought a book called A Smattering of Latin. Among its assorted goodies are Latin translations of the titles of popular books and movies. This had me thinking: what would the titles of some of our Jinty stories look like if they were translated into Latin?

I am not the most fluent of Latinists, but I decided to have a go all the same. My old school Latin and assorted Latin tools I have acquired, including ones on the Internet, were all utilised for the job. The following results are listed below. In some cases I had to take a few liberties and use my imagination as titles like “Sue’s Daily Dozen” would not translate directly into Latin. In other cases I took some liberties for more dramatic effect, such as the Latin translation of “Prisoners of Paradise Island”.

Please feel free to offer any corrections. I have done my best to be accurate, but I am aware there could still be errors in the translations somewhere. Also please feel free to offer alternative translations of the titles, and translations of other Jinty titles that are not listed here.

  • Puella subridens contra domum miseriae (Smiling girl versus the house of misery i.e. Merry at Misery House)
  • Gloria furata (The stolen glory i.e. Gwen’s Stolen Glory)
  • Duae vitae Jacquelinae (Jackie’s Two Lives)
  • Caeca fide (Blind Faith)
  •  Dora, sicut servus canem (Dora, like a slave dog i.e. Dora Dogsbody)
  •  Pupuli Paulae (Paula’s Puppets)
  •  Filia Draculae (Dracula’s Daughter)
  • Tragoedia Triciae (Tricia’s Tragedy)
  •  Nota maleficae! (Mark of the Witch!)
  •  Servus speculi (Slave of the Mirror)
  •  Mima cum nubibus (actress in the clouds i.e. Kerry in the Clouds)
  •  Servi candelae (Slaves of the Candle)
  •  Captivi in therotrophio (Prisoners in the zoo i.e. The Human Zoo)
  •  Cursus inter mundos novos (Course between Strange Worlds i.e. Worlds Apart)
  •  Puella, quae nunquam nasci (The Girl Who Had Been Never Born i.e. The Girl Who Never Was)
  •  Lisa musicam habebit (Lisa Will Have Music i.e. She Shall Have Music)
  •  Mima, quae non amatur (The Actress Who Is Not Loved i.e. No Cheers for Cherry)
  •  Alicia in terra nova (Alice in a Strange Land)
  • Malefica nomine Wennam (A Witch Called Wenna i.e. Wenna the Witch)
  •  Mundus sine lacrimis (World without Tears i.e. Land of No Tears)
  •  Discipula nomine Pamelam (A Pupil Named Pamela i.e. Pam of Pond Hill)
  •  Arca Pandorae (Pandora’s Box)
  • Serves Cygni (Slave of the Swan)
  •  Feriae in latibulum (Holiday in Hiding i.e. Holiday Hideaway)
  •  Filius regis ex zodiaco (The Zodiac Prince)
  •  Sicut muscam in telo (Like a Fly in a Web i.e. Come into My Parlour)
  •  Hortus vetitus (The Forbidden Garden)
  •  Freda et Fortuna (Freda and Fortune i.e. Freda’s Fortune)
  •  Sicut felem et murem (Like Cat and Mouse i.e. The Kat and Mouse Game)
  •  Semper ludibrium (Always a Laughing-stock i.e. Tears of a Clown)
  •  Relinquetur et oblita (Marooned and Forgotten i.e. The Girl the World Forgot)
  •  Undae metu (Waves of Fear)
  • Stefa amare recusat (Stefa Refuses to Love i.e. Stefa’s Heart of Stone)
  •  Abies spem dat (The Fir Tree Gives Hope i.e. Song of the Fir Tree)
  •  Defensor ex avium (The Defender of Birds i.e. The Goose Girl)
  •  Aves oppugnant! (The Birds are Attacking! i.e. The Birds)
  •  Mater superba contra canem vulgarem (The Arrogant Mother versus the Common Dog i.e. The Four-Footed Friends)
  •  Cur mater natationem vetat? (Why Does Mum Ban Swimming? i.e. Minnow)
  •  Equus ex mari (Horse from the Sea)
  •  Bellum sororum! (Battle of the Sisters! i.e. Sisters at War!)
  •  Praedictum de aqua caeruleo (The Prophecy about Blue Water i.e. Cursed to be a Coward!)
  •  Terror ex arvis viridis (Terror of the Green Fields i.e. The Bow Street Runner)
  •  Ovis nigra (The Black Sheep i.e. Black Sheep of the Bartons)
  •  Canem alium amare non possum (I Cannot Love Another Dog i.e. My Heart Belongs to Buttons)
  •  Maxima inundationes (The Largest Floods i.e. Fran of the Floods)
  •  Instrumenta ex malefica bona (The Tools from the Good Witch i.e. Sue’s Daily Dozen)
  •  Captivi in paradiso falso (The Prisoners in the False Paradise i.e. Prisoners of Paradise Island)
  •  Freda, amicus falsus (Freda, False Friend)
  •  Angelus custos acer (The Zealous Guardian Angel i.e. Her Guardian Angel)

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?

Rebellion Publishing 2016

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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