Tammy & Sandie 10 November 1973

Tammy cover 10 November 1973

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Two-Faced Teesha (artist Jose Casanovas)
  • Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • The Chain Gang Champions (artist Juan Garcia Quiros? writer Gerry Finley-Day?) – first episode
  • A New Leaf for Nancy (artist John Armstrong)
  • Back-Stab Ballerina (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • School for Snobs (artist J. Badesa, writer Pat Mills)
  • Wee Sue (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Granny’s Town (artist Douglas Perry, writer Pat Mills)
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

 

It’s part 3 of our Tammy round robin, and 10 November 1973 has been selected for 1973. It is three weeks into the Sandie merger. The happy, pretty girl covers Tammy had since her first issue have gone. In their place are the start of the humorous Cover Girl covers that would remain on the cover until late 1980. At the moment we only seem to have one Cover Girl. The cover gives the impression the Cover Girls are still in the early days compared to how they ran later on, but the cover is still funny with the joke of getting splashed by a dry cleaning company car.

Wee Sue was one of the stories to come over from Sandie. It is a surprising choice because the original Sue story finished a long time ago and no sequel appeared in Sandie. Moreover, Sue has had a complete overhaul, shifting from a posh academy as a scholarship girl to a comprehensive in an industrial town, Milltown. Bully teacher Miss Bigger is another change from the original, in which she didn’t appear at all.

In the Wee Sue episode, Sue has lost the freckles she had when she first debuted in the merger. Her spiky bob is starting to loosen a bit, but makes her look like an unmade bed. In the story, Miss Bigger thinks Wee Sue is encouraging the girls into hunger strike over school dinners and tries to stop it by force-feeding Sue! Then Sue runs amok in the canteen, smashing the dinners. What the heck’s gotten into her? Her nose has told her that there is an outbreak of food poisoning afoot, and the school is full of praises for Sue saving everyone. Well, nearly everyone. Miss Bigger ate some of the tainted food and now she’s in bed, and Sue besting her again is making her even sicker.

Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie also came over from Sandie. Uncle Meanie still has his original nose from Sandie and has not yet acquired the bulbous nose that Robert MacGillivray will later give to Miss Bigger when he takes over the Wee Sue strip. Uncle Meanie now has a wife, Jeannie’s Aunt Martha, who really has to put up with his meanness. And in the story this week? Hoots! Uncle Meanie has been knocked off his perch as Britain’s Number 1 meanie! The title has been awarded to a Miss Pincher. When the family meet Miss Pincher, they are forced to admit she outstrips even Uncle Meanie for meanness. Uncle Meanie is not having that. He’s in shock and deeply jealous, but why is he all nice and gentlemanly to Miss Pincher? Is he taking it better than the family think – or is he plotting something to reclaim his title?

We have a new story this week, “The Chain Gang Champions”. Rella Aston is a promising athlete like her father before he was crippled. They haven’t the money for proper training or an operation to cure her father. A woman named Stein has overheard, and goes to “The Duchess”, who offers Rella the chance to join a group of British champions. Rella thinks it is a miracle, but from the looks of Stein and what she’s thinking, Rella should have remembered the old adage: “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

“Granny’s Town”, “Two-Faced Teesha”, “Back-Stab Ballerina” and “A New Leaf for Nancy” (reprinted Misty annual 1980) are new stories that began with the merger.

Two-faced Teesha is a devious, spiteful girl. She has just moved to the country. She surprises her father when she opts for the country school over a snob school, the type of school she used to attend in the past. Her reason? She has met some of the girls and thinks it will be easy to stir up trouble for them.

Nancy’s family have made a depressing move to a rundown house after Dad loses his job, but Nancy discovers a tree in the garden that has powers to make things better for her. The trouble is, its power does not seem to be reliable and sometimes makes things worse.

The “Back-Stab Ballerina” is Rita Radley, who secretly makes trouble for her old friend June Day when they go to ballet school. This week Rita gets June into trouble with the other girls because they have started sticking up for her.

In “Granny’s Town”, grannies rule and anyone who crosses them is soon forced to leave quickly. This week it’s the turn of the donkey man who won’t allow the grannies to enjoy themselves on the beach. Their response is to stake him out on the croquet lawn and leave him to roast under the sun. Jen Young, the only one who refuses to be intimidated, rescues him, but later gets a nasty warning from the grannies to back off. The blurb for next week warns she will have to watch out even more.

“School for Snobs” and “No Tears for Molly” are the Tammy stories that have continued into the merger. In the Molly story, something or someone is putting the wind up bully butler Pickering. He’s convinced it’s a ghost and he’s running scared. He even faints in the cellar!

“School for Snobs” is a special school designed to cure girls of snobbery. This week it is curing a snob who drives off servants with her bullying. After being served by Hermione Snoot, the headmistress of the school, the snob is wishing she hadn’t driven those servants off.

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Tammy & Sally 12 February 1972

Tammy Cover 12 February 1972

  • Gina – Get Lost (artist Miguel Quesada) – final episode
  • Dogs of the Duchess
  • No Hope for Cathy (artist Victor Hugo Arias)
  • Lulu (cartoon)
  • Skimpy Must Ski! (artist Tom Hurst)
  • Paula on a String
  • Amanda Must Not Be Expelled (artist Jesus Redondo)
  • Talk it over with Trudy (problem page)
  • Star Struck Sister (artist Giorgio Giorgetti, writer Jenny McDade)
  • Maisie’s Magic Eye (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Beattie Beats ’em All! (artist John Armstrong)
  • Cinderella Spiteful (artist Jose Casanovas)
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • A Special Tammy Portrait – Peter Gordeno

In part 2 of the Tammy Round Robin, the 12th February issue has been selected for 1972. The cover style is still the same as it had been in 1971 and Tammy still has the Sally logo. Tammy now has a regular cartoon, “Lulu”. The issue also has the advertising for the first issue of Sandie, the next title to be merged into Tammy. There are blurbs for two stories starting in the next issue: “The Long and the Short” and the first Eduardo Feito story to appear in Tammy, “Rona Rides Again”.

“Beattie Beats ’em All!” and “Maisie’s Magic Eye” from Sally are still going strong, which indicates the Sally merger was a good one.

The serial “Star Struck Sister” is the first Tammy story to be written by Jenny McDade, who wrote the first Bella stories. The history behind the serial is a curious one. The first episode was written by another writer, but then the writing “choked” as they call it. The editor asked Jenny to take over. It was a bold move as Jenny had never written a serial before. But it went so well she was commissioned to write the rest of the story.

In the episode itself, Lesley and Stella Ross are in Rome making their first film. Lesley is jealous of Stella because she believes she should have the starring role. But Lesley is not Stella’s problem this week. Instead, Stella foolishly went off with a street urchin, who turned out to be part of a gang of pickpockets. Stella makes it back but now has a stolen wallet on her hands. And the victim, who is staying at the same hotel, has recognised her as one of the thieves!

“Cinderella Spiteful” is an orphan named Emma Jones who is staying with her cousin Angela, but feels overshadowed by her. To overcome this, Emma resolves to try harder and things get off to a good start this week. Then it looks like she has been so consumed with it that she neglected Angela while she was injured, and now Angela has fallen on the stairs. Are Emma’s attempts to better herself going wrong and landing her in trouble? Or is Angela pulling some kind of Carol Lord trick (see Concrete Surfer) to undermine her?

Molly has a problem of forbidden love on her hands (Lieutenant Regan disguising himself as a servant at Stanton Hall to get near his love because her father won’t allow the match) and keeping it safe from Pickering and the two catty maids. They go as far as to attempt to rough her up to get the secret out of her, but don’t discover it. Then a party is on and the men are allowed to wear masks. An easy way for the lovers to secretly meet again? Not when the forbidding father offers to remove Regan’s mask! This calls for some quick thinking on somebody’s part.

“Gina – Get Lost” is yet another Cinderella story of cruel relatives (the Randalls) exploiting the heroine (Gina) and her talent (making toys). The story ends this week, with the Randalls being caught out and being forced to let the kindly Mrs Swain become Gina’s guardian and stay away from her, or there will be charges.

Amanda keeps trying to get herself expelled so she can enjoy her home comforts. This week she brings the school to victory in a gymnastics contest. Will this change her mind and stay at the school? Sadly, no. She’s still intent on getting herself expelled and the other girls think she’s crazy and mixed up.

In “Dogs of the Duchess” the Duchess is a crusader for dog welfare. She would be a real heroine if she weren’t so uptight and rude to her helper, Doris Totting and could be as nice to people as she is to dogs. And why does she wear that black veil all the time anyway? Sounds like she’s got a real problem, and this week Doris gets a clue as to what it is when the Duchess doesn’t want to meet an aristocrat, whose dog she helped through Doris only a short while before.

Why is there “No Hope for Cathy”? She has been kidnapped and being forced to impersonate a missing girl. It’s not all that hopeless when Cathy discovers a helper, Alan Temple. But then Cathy gets amnesia, and being unable to remember who she really is has suddenly made the crooks’ deception a whole lot easier!

In “Skimpy Must Ski!”, Grandad sacrifices his precious war medal to raise funds to help Skimpy. But the medal makes its way back to Skimpy, who tries to slip it back secretly. But Grandad catches her and demands to know what she’s up to.

Tammy & Sally 1 May 1971

Tammy cover 1 May 1971

  • Beattie Beats ‘Em All! (artist John Armstrong)
  • Our Jane – Little Mum (artist Colin Merritt)
  • My Father – My Enemy!
  • The Cat Girl (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • The Secret of Trebaran
  • The Girls of Liberty Lodge (artist Dudley Pout)
  • Slaves of “War Orphan Farm” (artist Desmond Walduck, writer Gerry Finley-Day?)
  • Betina at Ballet School
  • Action Girl
  • Glen – Loney Dog on a Quest (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Maisie’s Magic Eye (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Sara’s Kingdom (artist Bill Mainwaring)
  • Castaways on Voodoo Island (artist Ken Houghton)
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

Hello, everyone. For something a bit different in the issue entries, we are going to have a round robin of Tammy, where one issue will be selected and profiled from each year Tammy was running.

Leading off in 1971 is the 1 May issue. We are now three months into Tammy’s run. How is it all going? Many of the stories from Tammy’s first issue are still going strong, though three look like they are near the end.

We are some weeks into the Sally merger and Sally’s contributions are still going too. The Cat Girl and Maisie’s Magic Eye are providing some light relief against the grimness of the Tammy stories that focus on cruelty and misery.

And what’s going on the stories?

Beattie wins a sports event despite dirty tricks from jealous rivals. But she is still on the run from the orphanage and her past is threatening to catch up, as she discovers when she is shown a newspaper.

Our Janie Little Mum has been saddled with an additional problem to looking after her younger siblings – helping to hide a carthorse that has been earmarked for the slaughterhouse! And on the top floor of the apartment block too!

“My Father – My Enemy!” looks like it is on its penultimate episode. Father has been critically injured from violence during the miners’ strike, and his ramblings inform Julie just why he is so horrible to them – he blames them for his wife’s death. And quite wrongly, of course. Julie is now anxious to reconcile with him, but he has one foot in the door of death.

Glen looks like he is on his penultimate episode too. After a long, epic journey, he finally tracks down his mistress June. But she has been cornered by a vicious dog, and it’s a killer!

The Castaways of Voodoo Island looks like it is approaching its conclusion too. Jackie is cornered by the dreaded Devil God, but the blurb for next week says we will learn the truth about him.

The Cat Girl discovers her father has been set up to look like an enemy spy. She’s got to get to him before the British agents do.

On Trebaran, Abel the evil sorcerer (come to think of it, he was the only evil sorcerer Tammy ever had) is after a stone in Trudy’s possession. Surprisingly, he disappears when Trudy’s friends appear, but when she wakes up the following morning, it’s her friends have disappeared. Where have they got to?

The Girls of Liberty Lodge and their headmistress Miss Valentine are in a barge race against the rival school, Hardington School, which is run along the harsh, sadistic lines of Miss Steele, who hates Miss Valentine’s guts . As usual, Hardington plays dirty tricks against Liberty, but it backfires with Liberty finding helpers who get them to the finishing line first. And they have a new pupil – Lady Angela.

Kate frees one of the slaves of War Orphan Farm with the help of “Mad” Emma. Kate declines the offer to come too, because she wants to stay on and free more slaves. But nasty Ned and the evil Ma Thatcher have spotted the escape. What can Kate do to stop them?

Molly is also helping to liberate mistreated orphans, this time at an orphanage. The cruel staff look like they’ve conned Binks the chauffeur into helping them, but when they attack Mistress Clare he lashes back at them, and they get arrested. Well, that’s the end of the cruel treatment at the orphanage.

Betina is suspended from ballet lessons after being wrongly accused. Her confidence is so shattered that she has decided to pack her bags.

Sara is one step closer to finding the ruby that will cement her claim to the throne of Hunzir, but is warned to beware “the fat bearded one”. By the looks of things, he is the one heading up the mountain in a jeep to cut her off.

 

Journey stories: how do they work?

I would not normally write at such length about a story theme, but there was an academic conference held the week before last, for which I submitted a paper. The subject was Travel and Comics, and I chose to look at Jinty‘s journey stories in some detail, meaning that I now have quite a lot to say on it… Last week’s earlier post about the Journey theme formed the first half of the paper, showing how the theme was prevalent and popular, particularly at certain points during Jinty‘s run. (I wonder exactly why this happened, but I suspect the answer is just ‘why not’!) Today’s post will look at some specific example stories in Jinty in more detail, asking the following questions:

  • How does the journey start – what is the triggering thing that means the main character heads off on a journey in the first place?
  • What keeps them going – why don’t they just stop and do something else? What is it that happens that means they can stop travelling at the end of the story?

(These points tell us quite a lot about what makes the story into a ‘journey’ story specifically: it is the distinction between a story that has some bits where some travelling happens, and a story that is more clearly about the journey.)

  • While they are travelling, do we see the characters shown on the page as actively travelling, or do we see them ‘having travelled’, perhaps at the end of the day?

I think that looking at this sort of question about how a story works, in more detail, will help uncover some things about the journey theme beyond the obvious fact that it involves a journey.

How does the journey start?

If you look at some example journey stories, one thing that leaps out fairly soon is that it’s not a free choice on the part of the protagonist to go on a journey. Fran sets out  into a flooded Britain once her town has been overwhelmed by the rising waters and she is separated from her parents. Thumper suffers an accident at the precise moment which means he is unable to travel with Julie at the point she is moving house. Solveig and Per are looking forward to going home to Norway in the official convoy, but they have to go on the run when they see that Grendelsen has come to collect them as part of that official convoy: they know he is their deadly enemy. And even happy-go-lucky Katie McNab only sets off from London to Yuckiemuckle in order to fulfil the terms of Great-Uncle Ebeneezer’s will: because her family is poor, the chance to win a fortune is a strong incentive.

This  constraint or forced situation underlying the journey might be because the reader is expected to be a youngish girl (perhaps somewhere between 8 and 12 years old), not herself at an independent stage in life. Would it feel unrealistic if the protagonist was able to set off on a journey of her own choice, in the way that that a reader would be unable to do? Maybe, but I think that perhaps looking at Bella Barlow’s wanderings might shed a different light on it. Bella travels to many countries – Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, and Russia among others. She doesn’t go on a journey, with a beginning and an end: she goes travelling, with no particular reason to come to a stop. (All right, if she made it to the Olympics she would be able to stop, but she’s Bella Barlow – part of the point of her story is exactly that she will never get a truly happy ending!)

In mainstream publishing likewise there are plenty of examples where the main character sets off of their own accord. Laurie Lee famously wrote “As I Set Off One Midsummer’s Morning” – he goes to seek his fortune wherever he might find himself. There is no clear driver right from the start that means he needs to go in a certain direction or to do a certain thing. The power of his story isn’t about the drama of leaving home and what made him go, nor about whether he will get to his destination safely. Reading his story we are interested in the landscapes he walks through, the people he meets, the food he eats, the foreign languages he shows us.

So I think that part of the point of a journey story, certainly in girls comics, is precisely that the protagonist is made to set out on her journey, by forces that are somewhat out of her control. (Lack of control or choice is quite common in girls comics in general, of course.)

What keeps the journey going? What happens that means that the protagonist can finally stop?

For it to be a real journey story, the travelling needs to be a significant part of it, and so it has to keep going for a while. If you look at the examples in Jinty, there are temptations along the way for the main character to stop: Fran Scott finds some occasional comfortable places to stay for a while on her tortuous journey up to Scotland, and Thumper could have made a new home with various of the friendly humans he met along his travels westward. These possibilities are properly tempting in their own right, because there are significant dangers on the way too: with a serial story comes a lot of cliff-hangers, and quite a few of those relate to physical dangers such as illnesses (fevers in “For Peter’s Sake!” and “Song of the Fir Tree”, plague in “Fran of the Floods”), or murderous humans (marauding bands in some particularly spectacular episodes of “Fran of the Floods”).

So, keeping going on the journey is typically dangerous (though in humour story “Race for a Fortune” any sense of physical danger is only minimally present). The reason to keep going in the face of this needs to be pretty strong in itself, otherwise why wouldn’t the protagonist just stop, and bring the story to an end (or turn it into a different sort of story). The reason to keep going is indeed a strong one – it is typically related to love, family, or some sort of stronger loyalty than self-preservation.

  • Fran keeps going in order to find her sister – the urge to find someone from her family, so that she doesn’t feel all alone in the world, is what drives her on, even though she doesn’t know for sure if her sister is alive in Scotland. When she is faced with a substitute possible family, it is not sufficient and she moves on regardless.
  • Thumper keeps going, despite increasingly sore feet and failing eyesight, in order to be reunited with his beloved owner, Julie. Other substitute possible owners, even though it is clear to him that they are loving and kind, are not enough for him to stay and he finds a way to move on regardless.
  • Corrie keeps pushing her pram southwards to London “For Peter’s Sake” as the story title has it – she is convinced that the pram is the only way that her ailing baby brother will be cured.
  • Although Katie McNab’s motive to keep going is less of a life-and-death situation than in the other stories, it is still an important one: a sense of family, in that she constantly muses on how the money she might inherit from great-uncle Ebeneezer would transform their impoverished lives.

The story does come to an end eventually, of course; generally with the protagonist reaching the end of their journey. The main character doesn’t just decide to stop travelling, though, as we saw above. The story end is tied up with the beginning of the story and the reason why she set off in the first place. Thumper finds Julie; Fran finds her sister; Corrie reaches London and her pram helps to cure Peter; Solveig and Per reach their home village in Norway and Grendelsen is defeated once and for all so he is no longer a threat. Some stories in Jinty have surprising endings that defy their beginnings; not so the journey story, which ends in a way consistent with the constant motivation.

How does this help us to understand what a journey story is or might be?

It seems to me that the above give us some important characteristics about what a journey story is and how it works, at least in British girls comics. The main character is forced by some sort of external circumstance to embark on the journey; she does not choose freely to set out. She keeps going on the journey for a serious reason, not lightly undertaken (and this is true even for humorous takes on the theme). She doesn’t just stop travelling because she feels like it, she has to complete the journey in a way consistent with the circumstance that forced her to set out in the first place.

You can easily enough imagine different versions of the stories, where one or more of these elements have been disregarded. Would they still count as journey stories, just ones that didn’t happen to have been written?

  • What sort of story might there be, if the protagonist had set out on a long journey of her own free choice?
    • You can certainly imagine a travel diary or a tourism story, perhaps like Patrick Leigh Fermor’s books. It would probably focus on something different rather than being a quest: perhaps it would be a didactic story, teaching the reader how to set up camp and survive under tough conditions, or perhaps it would be about the people and landscapes she found on her travels.
    • I can imagine a girls comic covering this as a historical story, say retelling the life of a great explorer such as Lady Hester Stanhope, or perhaps framing it as a moral tale of a missionary.
  • What if the main character could stop any time she felt like it?
    • Perhaps this might work if she had set out of her own choice in the first place as above. It does however feels to me as if this would take away from the journey aspect of the story: I am not sure if such a story would count as a journey story.
    • Can anyone think of a journey story where this happens?
  • What if the main character never stopped, or never found what she was looking for?
    • There are stories that work in something like this way, as far as I understand: Valda travels the world competing with athletes and always beating them (would she stop if she found someone who could beat her, is that stated in the story?). Boys’ comics character Wilson similarly travels around, though as I understand it, he trains other athletes rather than focusing on beating them.
    • To readers of these stories – do they feel like journey stories to you?

And Finally

For the conference, I also briefly looked at a question which I think would repay more attention than I was able to spend on it at the time. This was about the depiction of the process of journeying itself. While the characters in the story are travelling, do we see the characters shown on the page as actively travelling, or do we see them ‘having travelled’, perhaps at the end of the day? How much of the process of travelling is shown on the page?

It seemed to me that the stories I looked at often didn’t show that much travelling on the page itself, though it did vary as some stories did more than others.

  • Thumper and Beaky are typically shown arriving somewhere new at the very beginning of the episode, and leaving again in the last panel or two. The bulk of the episode is spent with them overcoming the challenge posed that week: chasing off robbers, avoiding deadly rats and packs of dogs, avoiding being penned in by would-be owners. This only really changes in the second to last episode (see sample images on the story post) where we see a lot more active travelling depicted on the page itself. Other than that, it is the narration that does a lot of the work: we are told that they have travelled for days, that he is footsore, that he has little strength left.
  • Although as with “The Darkening Journey”, many episodes are focused on the challenge of the week, in “Fran of the Floods” Fran is shown on the page travelling by row-boat, on foot, by raft, and even by cruise ship. Not every panel shows her travelling onwards, but it is quite a feature of the story.
  • Corrie Lomax pushes her gran’s pram over a considerable distance and it is again quite a feature of the comics art itself: in the sample images on the story post she is shown doing so in many of the week’s story panels.
  • “Race for a Fortune” works similarly to “The Darkening Journey”, with Katie shown arriving and leaving again on her trusty roller skates, but otherwise mostly dealing with the week’s challenges as the key focus of each episode.

You would think there might be more use made visually of the fact of travelling, but as I mentioned above, it seems that the narration plays more of a role in telling the reader about the journey than the art does. We don’t see lots of use of maps, for instance – showing how far the protagonist has travelled or still has to travel. We don’t typically see a lot of ‘local colour’ either, which is also a bit surprising – when Katie is in the Scottish Highlands she sees some people wearing tam o shanters and pretending there is a local lake monster as in Loch Ness, but this sort of ‘tourism touch’ is not done as often as I might have expected. (Would a Welsh reader feel a surge of local pride, say, if something was set in Snowdonia, or would that mostly tend to put off the larger group of readers who wouldn’t immediately identify with the local touch in question?)

As I said above, I think this could repay more attention across a wider range of comics. Do most other journey stories stick to the episodic ‘challenge of the week’ format with minimal travelling shown? Do artists who I haven’t looked at use more, or less, in the way of visual shortcuts to indicate the character’s travelling, or is it generally down to the writer to tell us readers about the journey? I hope you may have comments and thoughts on this, and the rest of my long post: so please share!

Story Theme: Journey Story or Quest

The Journey Story or Quest was a popular story theme at certain points in Jinty and in other titles. Indeed, at some points in 1976, it would have been possible to be reading an issue of Jinty which included three or even arguably four journey stories in the same week’s comic (see 24 April 1976 for an example). It’s a story framework which allows the creators to vary the setting and characters as much as they like, and to experiment with a range of local touches if desired (Scottish kilts, Welsh mountains, or European stereotypes could be brought in depending on the story). Within a Quest theme the dramatic tension is kept up, too – the protagonist is always thinking of the thing that keeps them on the journey – the danger they are avoiding or the goal they are trying to reach.

The journey story is of course focused around a lengthy journey, but it is also something of a quest, as the protagonist has someone she needs to find or something she needs to do before she can stop journeying. She does not just head out for the fun of it or to see the sights; there is some motivating reason for her to keep moving. Apart from the journey element, the other themes of the story can be fairly varied: there are journey stories in Jinty which are rooted in science fiction, humour, love of aninals, and more.

Core examples

Song of the Fir Tree” (1975-76). This story has siblings Solveig and Per traveling across Europe after they are released from the concentration camp they were held in during WWII. They travel from Germany to Norway under their own steam, constantly having to keep one step ahead of their enemy Grendelsen (though at the same time, unknown to them, their father is chasing after them also).

This was the first journey story printed in Jinty. Clear precursors outside of British girls comics are “I Am David” and “The Silver Sword”, both of which feature long journeys and have child protagonists dealing with the aftermath of WWII.

Fran of the Floods” (1976). After her home town is overwhelmed in flooding, Fran Scott travels the length of an apocalyptic Britain to see if her sister is alive and well in Scotland. This popular and well-remembered journey story is one of survival against the odds and courage in the face of barbaric behaviour on the part of other survivors.

Bound for Botany Bay” (1976). Betsy Tanner is transported to Australia; in addition to the lengthy sea journey, once she gets to Botany Bay she runs off and travels across dangerous countryside, eventually finding her father who was sentenced to transportation earlier on.

For Peter’s Sake!” (1976). Set in the 1930s, Carrie Lomax has a brother who is seriously ill. Her grandmother’s pram has rocked many babies back to good health in a seemingly miraculous way and she hopes that it will do the same for little Peter. However, Carrie and the pram are in Scotland and the rest of her family is in London, and she needs to push the pram all the way back to him on foot.

The Darkening Journey” (1977). Thumper has been separated from his owner Julie, who is moving house with her family, across Britain to the west country. To add to the pathos, both of them are going slowly blind: Julie because she needs an operation to cure her, and Thumper because of an accident at the time they were separated. Together with his friend Beaky, a clever talking rook, he travels towards the setting sun to see if he can be reunited with his beloved owner.

Race For A Fortune” (1977-78). This is a humourous take on the journey story: Katie McNabb must race her snobby cousins in a journey to inherit her skinflint great-uncle Ebeneezer’s money. The one who reaches Ebeneezer’s home village of Yuckiemuckle first, starting out from the south of England with no money to help them, will win the race and the terms of the will. Katie and her cousins battle it out, each overtaking the other at various points on their travels.

“Somewhere Over The Rainbow” (1978-79). This is the longest, most epic of all the journey stories in Jinty (indeed so long is it, at 36 episodes, that to date I have quailed before the mighty task of writing a story post for it!). Dorothy and Max are an orphaned brother-sister pair who run away from the state care they are put into when their mother is killed. Inspired by the Wizard of Oz song, they travel from the south of England all the way to Scotland, hoping to find happiness at a care home called Rainbow’s End.

Edge cases and uncertainties

The core stories listed above all feature epic, dangerous, and long journeys as a central aspect of the story. There are other stories in Jinty which feature travelling on the part of the protagonists, but without it being such a central part of the plot.

Then There Were 3…” (1976). This is more of a mystery story: ten girls hire a narrowboat and travel on the water for some time, but the plot primarily focuses on the mystery of what is behind the occurrences that spook the girls. Is it something supernatural in origin, or is it down to a purely human villainy?

“The Big Cat” (1976-77) When her grandmother dies and she is evicted from the gypsy camp she lives in, Ruth travels with the big cat Ayesha that the story is named after. We do not currently have a story post about this to confirm if this is more of a journey story, or a fugitive story where the protagonist runs away and spends time in hiding rather than in travelling towards a clear goal.

Not to be confused with…

There are plenty of stories that include an element of journeying or travelling, such as those ones where the main character runs away: for instance Jinty‘s first issue includes the story “A Dream for Yvonne“, where Yvonne runs away from the circus to become a ballerina. She does not travel throughout the story unceasingly until she reaches her goal, though: she runs away multiple times, loses her memory, is threatened by jealous rivals, and is eventually accepted by both her family and the ballet school. The journeying is not the main point of the story, but rather her challenge lies in how to be accepted by family and friends.

Likewise in many stories there is a dramatic finale where the protagonist runs away either to elicit sympathy or to enact some specific deed: Gail in “Gail’s Indian Necklace” and Lee in “Daddy’s Darling” are two such examples from Jinty‘s early days. I am not counting these either, as the main focus of the story is again not on the journey itself, which is pretty limited in the span of story time that it takes up.

Fugitive stories may overlap considerably with the journey story, but again the key question in my mind is whether the fugitive keeps running, or mostly hides away somewhere. “Always Together…” (1974-75) has an orphaned family (well, almost – read the story summary for more detail) who run away from the welfare state mechanisms which are threatening to split them up. They do not keep running continuously, but instead camp out in a few locations and fend for themselves throughout the bulk of the story.

There are a few stories with castaways (“Desert Island Daisy“, “Girl The World Forgot“): if you are going to be cast away on a desert island you can hardly avoid having travelled, somewhere along the lines! But the focus is then on the predicament of the main character, not on a prolonged journey. The same goes for “Alice In A Strange Land” which has a transatlantic plane journey at beginning and end of the story, and a dramatic crash landing in an early episode, but which does not focus on those elements in the core plot.

Elsewhere…

Journey-themed stories were of course not confined to the pages of Jinty, though the April 1976 spike in popularity of these stories is perhaps only seen in this title. The following stories are not meant to be a complete list of journey stories, but just to give a flavour of the prevalence and the variety of them across both IPC and DC Thomson. (Many thanks to Mistyfan for providing scans of the below and other stories, and also to Lorrbot and the Girls Comics of Yesterday site, which I checked for mention of journey stories.)

  • Glen, A Dog on a Lonely Quest (Tammy, 1971)
  • Janet and her Travellin’ Javelin (Debbie, 1974)
  • Towne in the Country (Tammy, 1976-77)
  • The Ride-Away Randalls (Debbie, 1978)
  • The Wandering Starrs (Bunty, 1978-79)
  • One Girl and Her Dog (Tammy, 1978-79)
  • Jumbo and Jet (Tracy, 1981)
  • Jet’s Incredible Journey (Suzy, 1986)

Other thoughts

This post is already rather long, but I have more thoughts about the theme. Another post will follow, discussing aspects of how journey stories actually worked in more detail, looking at some of the stories mentioned above.

The Darkening Journey

Sample images

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Publication: 26 March 1977 – 6 August 1977 (20 episodes)

Reprint/translation: Translated into Dutch and published in Tina as “Samen door het duister” (1981)

Artist: José Casanovas

Writer: Unknown

Summary

Julie Burton’s eyesight is growing dimmer and dimmer, and her main support is her golden Labrador, Thumper, who almost acts as a guide dog. There are some bright spots in her future: her father has got a new job over in the west by the sea, and there is hope that an upcoming operation might give her good sight again. However, on the cusp of leaving to travel miles away to their new home, Julie and Thumper are separated and the dog suffers a blow to the head that leaves his own eyesight blurry. A friendly talking rook, Beaky, befriends Thumper and together they make their long difficult way west towards where Thumper remembers Julie’s new house to be located.

Their way is fraught with difficulties: it’s mostly humans who get in their way, either for positive or negative motives. First the talking rook is nearly recaptured by his former owners, only to be rescued by Thumper; then they both need to run away from a selfish rich lady who only wants to keep them while she’s able to show them both off to her snooty friends. (The rather more sympathetic chauffeur and secretary help them to escape in the end.) Sometimes Thumper and Beaky save the humans (foiling some lorry hijackers), sometimes they save each other (Beaky brings human help to save a trapped or injured Thumper more than once, though Thumper returns the favour when they are both trapped by floodwaters).

In the meantime, Julie is pining away thinking about Thumper, and he likewise seems to have an almost telepathic bond with her – her image is shown hovering over the setting sun more than once, as a beacon calling him to her, and she likewise often seems to be able to sense his misery. Increasing his woes, Thumper is suffering from more and more blind spells too. But there are many times when temporary blindness and separation anxiety are not the biggest evils they face – a few of the humans they meet have plans to put Thumper down; he is bullied by a pack of stronger dogs; and another time he is nearly eaten by rats.

Though by the end, Thumper in particular is moving more and more slowly, they eventually reach the westernmost limit of their travels: the final moorland, and the sea. The dramatic tension tightens right at the end as the dog, careless with happiness, hurts his foot badly and is trapped by the rising tide: but Beaky comes through again and brings Julie’s dad to the final rescue. All is well, once the two beloved friends each have operations to restore their eyesight.

Themes and commentary

It is an intrinsically pretty sentimental story, with the dog protagonist gifted with an implausibly good skill in navigating his way cross-country in the absence of a definite location to head for. (Not to mention the almost telepathic nature of the mental connection that he and Julie seem to share.) It must have been a popular story, at 20 episodes long and featuring on the cover twice, though at the same time not rivalling the most classic Jinty stories that were also running at this point. (Though they were shorter stories, both “Creepy Crawley” and “The Spell of the Spinning Wheel” featured on the cover four times in the same time period.) Journey stories in general seem to have been very popular at this time, and the addition of sympathetic animal characters will have given it a different angle from other journey stories.

José Casanovas is also always a talent to enjoy reading. His art style is much busier and ‘fuller’ than that of many other Jinty artists, who often like to include a lot more white space in their finished pages, but it makes a nice change of pace and feels very solid. This is a story that, while far from the first rank of stories running in this title at this time, is enjoyable on its own merits and will have a number of fans.

Jinty 30 April 1977

  • Creepy Crawley (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Cassie and the Cat – Gypsy Rose story (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Mark of the Witch! — final episode (Phil Townsend)
  • Alley Cat
  • The Darkening Journey (artist José Casanovas)
  • The Robot Who Cried (artist Rodrigo Comos, writer Malcolm Shaw)
  • Kerry in the Clouds (artist Cándido Ruiz Pueyo, writer Alan Davidson)
  • Spell of the Spinning Wheel (artist Jim Baikie, writer Alison Christie)
  • Don’t Forget to Remember! (craft feature)

This issue is from a great period of Jinty’s run. It includes a number of real classic stories that have stood the test of time and memory (“Creepy Crawley”, “Spell of the Spinning Wheel”, and “The Robot Who Cried” being the obvious stand-outs) and all in all is a really solid read.

“Creepy Crawley” shows the how mean the main character Jean Crawley can be: she goes to see her rival Mandy who is recovering from the bee stings that the scarab brooch caused to happen. But even when not under the control of the scarab badge Jean allows her jealousy to control her, enough so that she voluntarily goes back to wearing the scarab and letting it give her ideas on how to get the better of Mandy. And it’s not just limited to ideas – the scarab’s control over insects means that Mandy’s beautiful wooden sculpture is eaten by termites before it can beat Jean’s pretty painting in the school art competition.

In the Gypsy Rose story “Cassie and the Cat”,  Cassie rescues a cat from some bullies, but the cat is far from what it seems. Enjoy the creepy story, atmospherically drawn by Terry Aspin, at the end of the post.

It is the final episode of “Mark of the Witch!”, and outcast Emma Fielding redeems herself by saving rich girl Alice Durant, the girl who she’s persecuted in revenge for the persecution that Emma herself has suffered at the hands of the local villagers. As they keep each other afloat in the raging river, Emma takes a moment to think “It’s funny.. I could die, but I feel sort of happy! Happy to be fighting and struggling with Alice instead of against her!”

“The Robot Who Cried” is an invention of the bushily-moustached Professor Targett – codenamed KT5, she escapes from the laboratory and discovers that she can pass for a real girl – assuming she can sort out how human emotions like friendliness or loneliness work in real life, of course.

In “Kerry In The Clouds”, Kerry Langland is taken under the wing of famous actress Gail Terson, but Ms Terson clearly has an agenda of her own. There are echoes of the story “Jackie’s Two Lives”, also written by Alan Davidson – both feature a poor girl with ambitions beyond her station, manipulated in sinister ways by an older woman. Spanish artist Cándido Ruiz Pueyo provides some very stylish hairstyles and clothing.

Spell of the Spinning Wheel” is a rare foray of Alison Christie’s into a spooky mystery story – I wish she had done more of it, it was very memorable. Rowan Lindsay is sporadically struck down by a mystery tiredness – she’s worked out that it is related to hearing humming sounds but she hasn’t persuaded anyone other than her dad to believe her yet, and the doctors have now forbidden her from running again.

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Jinty 26 September 1981

schoolgirls passing a collection box with the words Mayors Appeal on it

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

  • Freda’s Fortune – first episode (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • All over a farthing… – text story (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Child’s Play – Gypsy Rose story (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Holiday Hideaway (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Winning Ways – sports tips
  • The Sweet and Sour Rivals – last episode (artist Carlos Cruz)
  • Worlds Apart (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)

This is one of the last few issues of Jinty before the merger with Tammy. As a result it is full of penultimate episodes (Holiday Hideaway, Worlds Apart), a final episode (The Sweet and Sour Rivals) and complete or nearly complete stories (the Gypsy Rose story, and the first half of the two-parter Freda’s Fortune).

Freda wins a pony in a raffle – a stroke of luck for her, as she has longed for one since she was a toddler, but also some bad luck because not only does she have to find somewhere to keep it and food to feed it, she also earns the envy of snobbish Susan who will stop at little to throw a spoke in her wheel.

The text story “All over a farthing” has a struggling girl give away a lucky farthing to the school charity appeal, only to find that it brings luck back to her and her unemployed father in an unexpected way.

The Gypsy Rose story, “Child’s Play”, is a new one this week, drawn by Phil Townsend (though the subsequent week’s issue will have a reprint of a story by Trini Tinturé from 1977). I reprint it below.

“Holiday Hideaway” is coming to an end – the family in hiding prepare to ‘return from holiday’ which will mean they have to continue to lie to their friends by pretending they have been away on a cruise ship holiday all along. But the episode ends by a reveal that they can’t possibly have been on the ship – the liner never left England in the first place! How will Hattie Jones and her family keep their heads up now?

This is the last episode of “The Sweet and Sour Rivals”: at the school fair Mandy and her friend Suzie Choo face off against Abigail Beaton whose family run the town’s snootiest restaurant. As often happens with schoolgirl rivalries, the envious antagonist overreaches herself and the good girl(s) have to save the day, including the antagonist herself. This time the jealous rival entices a horde of hungry dogs to all the food stalls, risking her own parents’ food stall as well as the Choo’s one; and Suzie saves the day by building a wall of plates to keep the dogs away. Yes, it’s a Great Wall of China (groan).

In “Worlds Apart” the six schoolgirls are transported from brainy Clare’s world into scaredy-cat Jilly’s world – one inhabited by horror monsters. Read all about it in the summary of that story, linked to above.

Page 1, “Child’s Play” – Gypsy Rose story
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Bella at the Bar: Book One

Bella at the Bar 1

 

Tammy has now joined the slew of reprint volumes that Misty and Jinty are enjoying. And it makes sense for Tammy to begin with her most popular and enduring character, Bella Barlow. Bella never had the polarising among Tammy readership that Molly Mills had; many loved Molly while others hated her, frequently saying she was boring, and so stupid for not standing up to that bully butler, Pickering. Bella, by contrast, just seemed to grow and grow in popularity. She began as a regular Cinderella-themed story, a style that was so popular in Tammy’s early years. But instead of allowing Bella’s story to end on the Cinderella happy ending, readers brought her back by popular demand, where she endured a story that was even more cruel than the first time around. From there Bella came back again and again until she held a joint record with Molly as Tammy’s longest-running character.

The volume reprints Bella’s first two stories. The first one, already discussed here, tells us how Bella battled to overcome her window-cleaning drudgery, her memorably cruel Uncle Jed and Aunt Gert, snobbery, class distinction, depression and even injury to pursue her gymnastics dream. In true fairy tale fashion she is ultimately delivered from her guardians to pursue her gymnastics at a Russian gymnastics school. There it was expected to end, as so many Cinderella-themed Tammy stories had done. But not in the case of Bella Barlow. Popular demand brought her back, where she is flung into even more dregs of darkness. Bella’s time at the gymnastics school is tragically cut short before it’s hardly begun when a jealous rival, Natalia Orlov, gets her expelled on a false charge. It is not only back to the old window-cleaning drudgery with her horrible relatives – who treat her even worse than before – but also suffering unjust disgrace and ostracism in the public eye. Can Bella keep up her beloved gymnastics under these dual pressures? And how the heck can Bella clear her name?

At the time of the original print of the Bella sequel, there were a huge number of letters on it, many of which expressed confidence that Bella would triumph and be exonerated. Some even (correctly) guessed it had something to do with Bella running up against Natalia again. But the editor always said to those guesses: “Wait and see.” And when we do, we see the groundwork has been laid for a third Bella story in which she has to overcome yet another hurdle to get back into gymnastics. And Tammy says it will be starting soon.

Jenny McDade wrote the first two Bella stories. Future Bella volumes – which we eagerly anticipate – will tell if McDade wrote more Bella before the strip passed to other writers. When we read the stories in the volume we get a taste of how good writers helped to make titles like Tammy so great in their heyday. But contrary to the impression the volume might give, McDade did not start on Tammy with Bella Barlow. Her first Tammy story was “Star-Struck Sister” in 1972, which she took over after the first episode. It was also how McDade cut her teeth on writing for girls’ comics.

It has been decades since British girls enjoyed titles like Tammy and avidly followed exploits like those of Bella Barlow, Wee Sue, Molly Mills, The Four Marys and The Comp. Sadly, they have all vanished. To today’s generation of girls, the comics that girls used to know and love so well must be an unknown commodity, along with the characters who helped to make them so great. So the first reprint volume of Bella Barlow would not only bring back nostalgia for former Tammy readers but also give the new generation a taste of why girls’ comics used to be so popular, and what made Tammy such a hit in her earliest years: Cinderella theme, tortured heroine, adversity on all sides, a will that refuses to be beaten by it all, determination to triumph with a special talent and claim the happiness that is the heroine’s by right. And all brought to life by one of the most brilliant girls’ comics artists of all time – John Armstrong. To this day, John Armstrong’s fluid, brilliantly rendered anatomic artwork on gymnastics, sports and ballet is unmatched and simply mouth-watering. This was what always sold the Bella strip for me. It should do so for the new generation as well and leave them wondering why they don’t make British comics like that anymore.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday to Our Jinty Site!

Jinty cover 12 May 1979

Cover artist: Christine Ellingham

“A Resource on Jinty” is now five years old! On 16 April 2014 it was launched by Comixminx. The site was inspired by other resource sites such as Tammy Project (now defunct) and Girls Comics of Yesterday, and queries for help on strips that indicated a resource on Jinty was sorely needed for those wanting help on Jinty scans, issues, stories and other Jinty-related information.

In the words of Comixminx when she first launched the site:

“So in this new blog, I want to cover various Jinty-related items. I’ve got quite a few cover images and story pages already scanned which are just languishing on my computer invisible to other people who might be interested; let’s put them up. I’ve got details of individual comic issues which I will index following the lead given by UK Girls Comics, and details of specific stories will follow too. I also want to include sections on specific artists (I’d love to cover writers too but they’re much harder to identify, as Jinty never did run credits for stories). And if I run out of steam or fancy a break, I’ll also either reprint or link to articles relevant to Jinty.

“See you here soon – I think I’m going to enjoy the ride!”

It did not take long for me, Mistyfan to join the blog as a co-writer, and I soon proved to be the more prolific one. This was not only in terms of Jinty entries but also in expanding the site beyond Jinty. Tammy, Sandie, Misty, June, Girl II and even Commando have received entries on this site, especially when the entries were in some way connected to Jinty’s history or girls’ comics history in general, or the presence of female protagonists in ways they had not appeared before.

Our blog has also drawn a lot of surprises out of the woodwork. Among them are comments and information from former writers, which helped us to expand our credits on stories. The blog has led to contact and interviews with former artists and learning so much more about what went on behind the scenes. We have also received exciting titbits such as scripts of episodes to upload on our site. We even have an upload of very special Trini Tinturè fanart of Comixminx’s family with The Jinx from St Jonah’s.

The blog has inspired creativity in other ways. The best example of this was Oubapo, in which demonstrated how former girls’ strips could be re-imagined, either in terms of text or in artwork.

We have covered so much on Jinty in the past five years. But we still have plenty of years left and there is still Jinty material we have not yet covered. So is there anything in particular you would like to see on this site? Or do you have any suggestions on how we could develop our site even further? Please let us know.

And in closing: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO OUR JINTY SITE!