Tag Archives: 1 September 1979

A Jinty Sampler, Part III

This is the final of three Sampler posts, the aim behind which is partly to give me a good excuse to range over all the years of Jinty‘s publication (rather than taking ages to get to the later issues), and partly to help look for some of the changes over time that are otherwise rather hidden.

  1. Issue 250: 10 March 1979
    • Extent and print details: 32 pages. Cover is in full colour; back cover and 5 pages in duotone (red and black).
    • Cover design: story image
    • Content: 10 stories; 2 humour, 2 gag strips.
    • Regular artists include Terry Aspin, Jim Baikie, Phil Gascoine, Guy Peeters, Ron Smith, Hugh Thornton-Jones, Phil Townsend, Peter Wilkes
  2. Issue 275: 1 September 1979
    • Extent and print details: 32 pages. Cover and two central advert pages in full colour; back cover in duotone (red and black).
    • Cover design: story montage (free-form)
    • Content: 8 stories, 1 humour strip.
    • Regular artists include Terry Aspin, Jim Baikie, Phil Gascoine, Richard Neillands, Guy Peeters, Trini Tinturé, Townsend, Peter Wilkes
  3. Issue 300: 23 February 1980
    • Extent and print details: 32 pages. Cover is in full colour; back cover and 5 pages in duotone (red and black).
    • Cover design: story montage (free-form)
    • Contents: 8 stories, 1 humour strip. “Sports Jinty” pages are marked out –  8 pages, of which 6 are made up of two stories (“Toni on Trial” and “White Water”). The other two pages are text about sports personalities (here Torvill and Dean) and “Winning Ways” tips for specific sports (here winning a bully-off in hockey)
    • Regular artists include Terry Aspin, Jim Baikie, Phil Gascoine, Bob Harvey, Hugh Thornton-Jones, Trini Tinturé, Phil Townsend.
  4. Issue 325: 16 August 1980
    • Extent and print details: 32 pages. Cover is full colour; back cover and 4 pages in duotone (red and black).
    • Cover design: sports image (Mario Capaldi)
    • Content: 9 stories; 2 humour, 1 gag. “Sports Jinty” pages are marked out –  7 pages, of which 6 are made up of two stories and 1 is how to do a cartwheel.
    • Regular artists include Phil Gascoine, Bob Harvey, Ken Houghton, Hugh Thornton-Jones, Trini Tinturé, Phil Townsend, Peter Wilkes.
  5. Issue 350: 7 February 1981
    • Extent and print details: 32 pages. Cover is full colour; back cover and 2 pages in duotone (blue and black).
    • Cover design: sports image (Mario Capaldi)
    • Content: no sports pages for stories but ‘new story’ ribbon and half a page on roller skating. 9 stories; 2 humour, 1 gag.
    • Regular artists include Mario Capaldi, Joe Collins, Phil Gascoine, Bob Harvey, Ken Houghton, Guy Peeters, Hugh Thornton-Jones, Phil Townsend.
  6. Issue 375: 1 August 1981
    • Extent and print details: 32 pages. Cover is full colour; back cover and a few other pages red & black
    • Cover design: text story image (Mario Capaldi)
    • Content: 9 stories + a text story; 2 humour, 1 gag strip.
    • Regular artists include Mario Capaldi, Joe Collins, Alberto Cuyas, Phil Gascoine, Guy Peeters, Hugh Thornton-Jones, Peter Wilkes.

It feels to me as if this latest group of issues is subtly showing some harder times for Jinty. There are fewer pages in anything other than black and white; indeed, issue 275 has only the central advert pages in colour and the other pages inside all in b&w. The blue printing briefly returns around issue 350, though to be fair I have no reason to suspect any associated budgetary or production constraints around the choice of colour: the editors of the time maybe just thought it looked nicer. Still, it seems an odd thing to do, as if they are trying a few different things out, perhaps.

Content-wise, the “sports Jinty” concept starts out strongly around the issue 300 mark and continues well for a while, but within a year it is down to being an incidental feature and none of the stories are marked out as specifically “sports”. (Likewise, the covers stop being specifically related to sports.) By 1981, although there are strong new stories still being printed, we are starting to see reprints of popular series (“Land of No Tears”, “Angela’s Angels“) and also re-workings of the “Strange Stories”, spooky tales from June and Tammy. Personally, I also think that the text stories are a bit of a death knell for a comics title: they feel so different in pace that I think they disrupt the pace of reading, and use up space to no good purpose.

(Of course, all these gloomy considerations are speculative post-hoc rationalisations in the absence of some sort of hard circulation figures to show whether there was any sort of associated drop in readership or whether it was simply that the editorial team were floundering a little. I’m not quite sure how I would go about finding out that data but I think I know someone I could ask; if I get any good figures to help tell this story, I will be back here updating to say what I’ve found.)

I do wonder about the reasoning behind reprinting popular strips. It is obvious that reprinting a good, popular story would be a safe and cheap way to attract new readers; and based on the replies to “Pam’s Poll“, clearly many readers also wanted old stories to return. But why did they want them to return? The original printing of the stories had in many cases only been a few years earlier (“Land of No Tears” had been published in 1977/78 and the poll took place in September 1980). If the readers had read them originally, then they could well have still had their old copies from that first printing; or it could be that they had become readers only after that time, but in that case how would they know the story in order to vote for it? Of course, if they had started reading it part-way through a particularly impressive story, or if they had unluckily lost a lot of their comics, that would be a strong reason for voting for something to be reprinted, but this can surely only have applied to a minority of cases. I tell you what I’d like to be true – that girls were passing down tales by word of mouth, older girls to younger, that – ‘listen! – there used to be this really fantastic story that I loved, and wouldn’t it be great if it was that one that they chose to reprint…’ But I don’t really think this is the case. What does anyone else think?

Finally, I note as far as creators are concerned that Phil Gascoine and Phil Townsend are still going strong until the end of the title (Phil Townsend continuing after the merger with Tammy, even though he happened not to be in issue 375). Guy Peeters was a fixture between 1977 and 1979 or so, returning in 1981 initially with the reprint of “Land of No Tears” but then continuing with one of Jinty‘s most memorable stories, the tour de force “Worlds Apart”. Terry Aspin and long-running Jim Baikie seem to finish their association with Jinty at similar times to each other, perhaps both with the ending of their sports stories (“Toni On Trial” and “White Water” respectively). Trini Tinturé’s beautiful artwork is sporadically visible, but the last stalwart from the early days is Mario Capaldi, now drawing two well-remembered stories (“Life’s a Ball for Nadine” and “Dracula’s Daughter”) as well as his striking cover images. (José Casanovas, alas, had already ceased to be a presence by this point.)

Jinty 1 September 1979

Jinty cover 1 September 1979

We’ve covered excellent stories “Almost Human” and “Village of Fame” in previous posts; a science fiction and a Big Brother surveillance-story respectively. Bizzie Bet is the lead character in a humour strip that lasts less well than some of her peers did, but which is ephemeral fun nevertheless; “A Girl Called Gulliver” straddled the borderline between being a humour strip and being a standard strip with humorous aspects and enough narrative energy to it to say it has a proper arc.

“The Disappearing Dolphin” reaches its last episode in this issue; it’s an adventure story with archaeology, diving, and a villain who is only unmasked in these last few pages. Beautifully drawn, if not that strong a story overall; the ending is rushed. “Mike and Terry” is an interesting and unusual type of strip – a “career” themed story, where the career in question is – being a detective! Also unusually, one of the title characters is a boy, or rather a young man – private eye Mike Temple has a sidekick, blonde Terry, who is sometimes cleverer and quicker than he is – and sometimes too clever for her own good.

If a lot of the stories are going in similar pairs in this issue, then the last pair needs to be “Pandora’s Box” and “Combing Her Golden Hair”. The former is a story of witchcraft combined with a lead character’s determination to follow her path despite family resistance: Pandora Carr discovers her aunt is a witch who uses magic to get where she wants in life, and who expects Pandora to do the same. However, the stubborn girl thinks she has enough talent to get through her time at stage school without magic, at which her aunt only laughs and says she’s welcome to try. The family resistance is benign rather than constraining – a sort of ‘told-you-so’ – but still forms the spine of the narrative.

However, it is “Combing Her Golden Hair”, here in its first episode, which to me is the stand-out story. In these first four pages we meet lonely schoolgirl Tamsin, who lives with her dragon of a grandmother who forbids her from doing many things she might want to do, such as swimming; a mysterious silver comb entrances her and leads her to start to dream of many impossible things.

Stories in this issue:

  • Almost Human (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)
  • Village of Fame (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Mike and Terry (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • The Disappearing Dolphin (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Combing Her Golden Hair (artist Phil Townsend)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters)