Tag Archives: acting

Kerry in the Clouds (1977)

Sample Images

Kerry In The Clouds pg 1

Kerry In The Clouds pg 2

Kerry In The Clouds pg 3

Published: 16 April 1977 – 18 June 1977

Episodes: 10

Artist: Cándido Ruiz Pueyo/Emilia Prieto

Writer: Alan Davidson

Translations/reprints: Klaartje in de wolken [Klaartje in the clouds] in Tina 1978

Plot

Kerry Langland has just left school. Her nickname is “Kerry in the Clouds”, partly because she lives so high in an apartment block that clouds settle over it sometimes. But it’s mostly because she always has her head in the clouds with dreams of being a famous actress. She loves to dress up and go out on the balcony, imagining that she is an actress, and getting away from the apartment block she hates living in. Her former classmates have always teased her over her dreaming. They say her dreams are all castles in the air and she doesn’t have what it takes to be an actress. Kerry’s parents share the same view and fix her up with a dead-end factory job, saying she can’t expect better because she wasted her schooling on dreaming.

So Kerry writes to her idol, the famous actress Gail Terson, for help. Much to Kerry’s surprise, Terson shows up in person to see her and agrees to help, saying Kerry has the talent to make it as an actress. She gives Kerry a complete makeover to make her glamorous, takes her around the high life, gives her plenty of media exposure, and fixes her up with an agent for a soft drink ad that will be circulated nationwide. As people see Kerry’s ad on the billboard, the teasing stops and nobody calls her “Kerry in the Clouds” anymore.

Kerry’s parents warn her it’s all too good to be true and she shouldn’t buy into it because there must be a catch somewhere. They are right: Terson is just taking advantage of Kerry and her head always being in the clouds, but just what Terson wants Kerry for is not clear. Kerry’s own suspicions begin to grow after seeing Terson use a dress that looks suspiciously like the one she bought for Kerry in a shopping expedition. But Terson pulls the wool over Kerry’s eyes by saying the dress is all part of an acting role she has got for Kerry.

So Kerry goes back to living the high life. Her picture is getting in all the papers, her parents are astonished at the whole new glamorous wardrobe Terson has bought for her, her pay cheque for the poster ad is far bigger than anything she would have earned at the factory, and the press say she is tipped as a girl who is going places. Kerry even finds herself being mobbed by autograph fans, including the two girls who used to tease her at school.

Kerry realises her makeovers and new wardrobes have been designed to build her up for the starring role in a film called “The Buttercup”, the role Terson plays in the stage version. Then Kerry learns that Terson had wanted the same part in the film, but film producer Mel Simpson turned her down because he considered her old and stale while the public wanted someone new. Kerry wonders why Terson helped her to get the role that she wanted so badly.

Crunch time comes when shooting starts, and all of a sudden Kerry realises she can’t do the role because she can’t act at all! Which is precisely what Terson had known all along. She had known from the first that Kerry was just a dreamer and had no real acting talent – which is what the parents and schoolgirls had always said to Kerry. She had just been stringing Kerry along to get her revenge on Simpson by lumbering him with a talentless girl in the leading role and being stuck with her because of the contract.

Kerry is distraught at being played for such a fool and realises her parents had been right all along. She releases Simpson from the contract and disappears, and the papers are full of it. Once Terson reads about Kerry’s disappearance she is struck by remorse and goes after Kerry, whom she finds on the roof of the apartment block. She apologises to Kerry, saying she never considered Kerry’s feelings while plotting revenge against Simpson. Kerry says the experience has made her grow up and realise how her constant dreaming was so unrealistic, so she bears no grudges. Terson offers Kerry a job as a personal assistant, and Kerry accepts.

Thoughts

This story is not one of Jinty’s more memorable stories. But recently it has attracted comment on the Jinty blog for two reasons. First, we have been provided with a glimpse of the script for part one, which still exists and came to light in writer Alan Davidson’s files. Second, there is some controversy over the identity of the artist. Is the artist’s name Cándido Ruiz Pueyo or Emilia Prieto? It is Pueyo, but for a while he worked under the pseudonym Emilia Prieto, and a panel in the final episode of this story is signed with his pseudonym.

Although the story is not one of Jinty’s classics, it certainly breaks some moulds in the Cinderella and “dream fulfilment” formats. It does not end up with the heroine realising her dream of becoming an actress and having the last laugh on the parents and schoolgirls who said she was just a silly dreamer. Instead, it is revealed they were right all along, and Kerry is made to realise it when she is forced to act for the first time in her life and discovers she can’t. In all those years she dreamed of being an actress, she clearly made no serious attempt to realise her ambitions by, say, pursuing drama clubs and school plays to get experience. If she had, she would have realised long ago that she was no actress. Instead, she just indulged herself with dreaming while not doing anything serious to fulfil her dreams until she writes to Terson.

The story is also a cautionary tale in that old adage “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is”. Kerry was very fortunate in that the woman who took advantage of her eventually found her conscience and made amends by offering Kerry a high-paying job that would still get Kerry into the acting world, of sorts. So Kerry would not be stuck in dead-end factory jobs like Dad and continue to live in the graffiti-smeared apartment block she hated so much. There are many sleaze bags out there waiting to prey upon the dreams of innocent, naive girls to take advantage of them.

Advertisements

Tale of the Panto Cat (1979)

Sample Images

Panto Cat 1.jpg

(Click thru)

Panto Cat 2.jpg

(click thru)

Panto Cat 3.jpg

Publication: 8 December 1979 – 29 December 1979

Artist: “B Jackson”

Writer: Unknown

Summary

In Daisy Green Youth Club, Verna is known as “the original panto cat”. She is conceited, bossy, domineering and self-centred. She walks over everyone to have everything her way.

The club members are discussing what to do for their Christmas special when Verna barrels in, tears up their suggestions and pushes ahead with her own – a pantomime for the kids who will be confined to Farley Hospital over the Christmas season. But Verna doesn’t stop there. She allows no discussion of what the pantomime will be – it must be Cinderella. Before the meeting is over, she casts everyone in the roles as she sees fit. And of course she casts herself as Cinderella. Gwen is feeling very indignant at the way Verna carries on.

But there is worse to come when Gwen finds Verna is writing the panto as well. She is astonished to find the script Verna gave her is only two pages long and the lines are awful. The same goes for everyone else, and they find out why at the next meeting – Verna’s part is three times as big as theirs! They reach their limit at this and shelve Verna’s script in favour of one in the club library. But they still give Verna a chance to be Cinderella if she is good. But of course the panto cat is anything but good, and in the end she finds herself without any role (not even as wicked stepmother, the only role that really suits her personality).

Gwen says they still have to let Verna be director, but that proves to be a bad mistake. Now the panto cat has lost the limelight she turns vicious. She gets her claws out and sets out to wreck the panto now she cannot be in it. As director, she tries to stir everything up, make everyone’s life a misery, and even smash the pumpkin. All this does is get her removed from the panto altogether.

Another club member, Minna, suggests they have Verna’s father make Cinderella’s coach. Gwen says they should keep Verna out, but Minna feels it is rotten to do so because it is Christmas. This is another bad mistake. Verna sabotages the coach so it will fall apart on the night. Instead it falls apart at a rehearsal, leaving Cinderella with a sprained ankle, Prince Charming with a black eye and the Fairy Godmother with an injured leg. It looks like the show is off and the panto cat has got the cream.

But then Gwen has a brainwave – convert a piece of the coach into a puppet theatre and have a puppet Cinderella show instead. Unfortunately, Minna tells Verna about how they have salvaged the disaster, thinking she is acting in the spirit of Christmas. So the cat gets ready to pounce again. On the night of the show, Verna tries to sabotage them at the club as they make preparations to set off. She fails, and her tricks put Gwen on her guard.

At the hospital, Gwen sends Verna on an errand to get her out of the way. Verna spots a jug of water in a ward and goes in for it, planning to spill it on the puppets and make them too wet to use. But she failed to spot a warning notice on the door saying there is a child with scarlet fever quarantined in the ward. Verna has got too close to the child, and the nurse tells Verna she now has to be quarantined as well. The cat’s last minute pounce to wreck things has backfired. Verna has to spend Christmas in quarantine (later the editor informs us in the letter page that she did not contract scarlet fever) and watch the show she tried to sabotage through the observation window.

The show is a huge success and everyone except Verna enjoys it. Afterwards, the girls have a Christmas party back at the club and Verna’s fate gives them all the more reason to celebrate. Minna says she enjoyed the panto despite all the problems and they must do it again.

Thoughts

“Tale of the Panto Cat” was one of the Christmas-themed filler stories that Jinty ran over her build up to Christmas. But what Christmas message does this tale of spite, sabotage and deliberate attempts to wreck a Christmas production have for readers? Well, every Christmas has a Grinch somewhere. If Jinty ever had a Grinch story, this has to be it. But unlike her Seuss counterpart, the heart of Verna does not swell to the right size when faced with the spirit of Christmas. Rather, she destroys herself in her efforts to wreck the show. It backfires on her and she ends up spending Christmas in quarantine.

Instead of a sentimental story about the true spirit of Christmas, we get a more typical story of an unpleasant type who causes trouble and getting her eventual comeuppance. Christmas is used more as the theme and setting for the story. This makes the story a nice, refreshing, atypical break from the more standard Christmas fare in girls’ comics. And Verna does not change into a nicer person in the light of Christmas, which makes it even more realistic.

Minna is the only one who strives for real Christmas spirit in the way she insists on keeping Verna in the loop over the panto. But in so doing she unwittingly helps Verna to cause more trouble. Perhaps the story is making a statement that the spirit of Christmas is lost on some people. In fact, although it was Verna’s idea to put on the show for the children in hospital, Verna clearly did not do it for the sake of the kids. All she cared about was being the star of the show and the centre of attention. When she could not have that, she turned just plain vindictive and set out to wreck things in any which way she could with no thought for the kids or anyone else. That is hardly the way to behave, much less at Christmas time. One can only hope Verna left the club for good after she came out of quarantine and was not around to interfere with the next Christmas special.

The Mystery of Martine (1976-77)

Sample images

Martine 1

(Click thru)

Martine 2

(Click thru)

Martine 3

Publication: 18 December 1976-26 February 1977

Reprint: Jinty annual 1983

Artist: Trini Tinturé

Summary

Sisters Tessa and Martine Freeman are pursuing promising careers in the arts; Tessa is preparing for a ballet audition at a ballet company while Martine has landed the starring role in Nigel Ropley’s drama, “The Demon Within”. Unfortunately this is where the trouble begins and it creates the titular mystery that is never really solved.

Martine is playing the role of Vivien, a crazed, grasping, demented woman who has an obsession about getting her old house back from its current owner. She stops at nothing, “as if some demon was inside her” and increasingly acts in a manner that suggests she is possessed. Whenever Martine, onstage playing Vivien, hatches some sinister machination to take back the house, she clicks her bangles in a manner that sounds sinister, even off stage. The play climaxes with Vivien burning down the house when she decides she cannot get it back – with her enemy inside. Even when she is arrested, she still looks triumphant. The play is also triumphant, but Tessa soon finds that Martine still acts like Vivien, even off stage. The same facial expressions, vocal expressions, bangles, clothes – as if she is becoming Vivien in real life.

And there is a disturbing parallel with Vivien’s situation – Tessa’s current ballet school used to be the Freemans’ home. Now Martine is becoming obsessed with getting that house back Vivien-style. She starts hanging around the ballet school, clicking those bangles and staring at the house in the sinister manner of Vivien. She starts regarding the ballet teacher, Miss Bond, in the same manner that Vivien regards the woman who took over her house. At home, Martine starts behaving like Vivien to Tessa and other people, which is truly frightening. It also causes trouble with the other tenants in the apartment block. It doesn’t happen all the time – she usually returns to normal, but then she starts acting like Vivien again. Tessa is astonished when Martine agrees to pay her ballet fees, but she soon finds that this is a Vivien plot – it was a ploy to get into the ballet school and start harassing Miss Bond.

In the midst of all this trouble, Tessa still has to keep practising for her audition. Amazingly, she still manages to keep up with it. But of course there has to be a jealous rival out to make trouble, and in this case her name is Julie Worral. Julie starts causing trouble when Martine leaves a nasty note to Miss Bond “You are in my house. Get out or face the consequences”. Miss Bond throws the note in the bin and tells Tessa her concerns about how this will affect her dancing. If it proves detrimental to Tessa passing the audition, Julie is the next choice for it. They do not realise Julie has overheard.

Martine’s harassment of Miss Bond gets worse. She removes Miss Bond’s furniture and tries to move her new purchases of furniture into the house. Tessa has the furniture taken to their flat, but this gets the Freemans threatened with eviction. Tessa tries to get Martine removed from the play, but Martine convinces Nigel that Tessa is just jealous. Meanwhile, Julie retrieves the nasty note and tries to use it to blackmail Tessa into backing out of the audition. And then Tessa remembers that Vivien burned down the house she could not reclaim and realises that this is what Martine will do.

Sure enough, Martine is heading to the ballet school with a petrol can. However, an accidental fire (caused by Julie) starts instead and Martine is found unconscious on the lawn. The reason – Nigel noticed things and came to realise that Tessa was right. However, he decided that the solution was to rewrite the ending of the play. The new ending has Vivien’s personality changing from evil to good (and also makes for a far better play). The moment Nigel finished it, Martine says she felt Vivien go out of her and she was herself again, and then she just passed out. They are still not sure how it happened and conclude they never will know. But everything is sorted out happily, of course. The play, with its revised ending, goes to London where it is a huge success while Tessa passes the audition. Both sisters can now look forward to being stars.

Thoughts

This is an evil influence story, but with two major differences from the formula. First, it is never revealed just what the influence was or what caused it. This is a complete deviation from the standard formula, where it is always obvious what the evil influence is – at least, to the reader. The victim may start off knowing what it is herself as well, as in Jinty’s “Slave of the Mirror”. Or the victim does not realise what is going on until something – or an astute someone – tips her off, as in “Prisoner of the Bell”, also from Jinty. Either way, the reader is usually informed as to what it is that is taking hold of the protagonist in the first episode. Yet in this case, the reader is kept in the dark. Readers must have expected that everything will be explained by the final episode. But no – right up to the end it remains just as much a mystery to the reader as it is to the protagonists – and becomes a double pun on the “Mystery” in the title. Instead, readers are left to draw their own conclusions. Was it some kind of psychological cause? Was Martine getting so wrapped up in the role of Vivien that life started to imitate art, so to speak? Or was there truly some supernatural force at work? Indeed, there are hints of demons and possession in the play, and Nigel’s solution to the problem sounds ominously like exorcism. The mystery of it all makes it even more frightening because we do not understand what it is exactly that is making Martine act like Vivien.

Second, the evil influence story usually focuses on the point of view of the victim of the influence. We see her thoughts as she falls under the influence and her reactions to it: confusion, terror, bewilderment, desperation, torture, trying to make sense of it all and finding ways to deal with it. But here the story is told from the POV of the sister who is watching it all from a terrified, bewildered and desperate standpoint. We never get Martine’s point of view or thought bubbles that tell us what is going on in her head. And because we do not see this, we do not have the insight that can shed light on just what is happening to Martine. Nor can we see just what she is planning when Vivien takes over, so we have no idea just how or when she will strike. So we are all the more worried and frightened when Martine lurks around the school with that Vivien look and clicking those bangles. So having the POV from the sister rather than the victim makes the story even more frightening and helps to preserve the “mystery”.

Comix minx has commented on how Tinturé “seems particularly good at brunettes with snapping glares”. This is perfect for the facial expressions of the seemingly possessed, demented, crazed Viviene/Martine, such as where she sits on a chair, clicking her bangles, and her face is “terribly transformed!” There is even a wild look about her flowing black hair that further enhances her terrifying Vivien look and must have sent shudders up the spines of readers.

Gwen’s Stolen Glory (1974)

Sample images

Gwen 1

 (Click thru)

Gwen 2

(Click thru)

Gwen 3

Publication: 11/5/74-4/8/74

Artist: Unknown

Writer: Alan Davidson

The living a lie story – the story where the heroine is living a lie for one reason or other. But she gets increasingly caught up in her own lies, resorting to ever more desperate and even shocking measures to keep her secret, and living in constant fear of being discovered. And if she gets discovered, where is it going to end, and what is going to happen to her? Or will she be able to extricate herself from her sticky situation without getting into too much trouble – that is, if she even deserves to?

Such makes the suspense and thrills in another of Jinty’s first stories, “Gwen’s Stolen Glory”.

Summary

Gwen Terry longs to have friends, be popular and pursue a career as an actress. However, she has no confidence in herself and does not consider herself good at anything. The other girls consider her boring and useless and tease her. Her home life does not help; her dad is on an invalid’s benefit, so they can’t afford much or a decent home. She envies Judith Langham, who is everything she is not: popular, confident, good at everything, and just been accepted for drama school. Gwen does not realise Judith sympathises with her position and stands up for her.

In the school drama class, it’s Gwen’s turn to recite, but she dries up. Everyone laughs at her and she runs off in tears. Their taunts go too far when the distraught Gwen falls over the cliff and lands in a precarious position. Judith goes to the rescue, but the rescue goes through a series of unexpected turns which end up with everyone thinking that it was Gwen who saved Judith, who is now unconscious after a fall.

Gwen is now the heroine of the school, and seizes her opportunity for happiness. Indeed, she has everything she dreamed for now: glory, popularity, loads of admiring friends and showers of gifts. She even takes Judith’s place in the drama school, and the gratitude of the Langham parents ensures the Terrys a better home. When Judith comes to, she has lost her memory of what really happened, so it looks like Gwen’s glory is sealed and everything will be just dandy for her from now on.

But the glory has come at a price – Gwen’s conscience. She cannot forget that it was really Judith who saved her life. Her troubled conscience gives her no peace of mind and she is ashamed at the depths she has sunk to, so all her new-found gains cannot give her full happiness. And it filters through; her mother wonders why Gwen seems ashamed rather than proud. And in the cloakroom a guilt-stricken Gwen says, “Oh Judith, what have I done to you? What have I done to myself?”

Too bad for Gwen that Julie Waring was in earshot. Julie has been having niggling doubts about the whole affair, and after what she overhears, she becomes really suspicious. Soon Julie is drawing the right conclusions and makes no secret of what she suspects to Gwen. Now Gwen’s guilt is compounded by the fear of being found out, losing all her gains and becoming an outcast! Another consequence of living a lie.

Julie challenges Gwen to recreate her heroic climb on the cliff to save Judith – something Julie knows Gwen could not possibly have done. Gwen fails the test, but the girls still think she is a heroine, and accuse Julie of being jealous. But Gwen is taking no chances – she frames Julie and gets her expelled. It looks like her secret is safe, but now she has sunk even further.

Before Julie goes, she defiantly tells Gwen, “You’ll suffer for what you’ve done, Gwen, if you’ve got any conscience at all. It won’t do you any good in the end, I know it won’t!”

Julie’s words bear out when Gwen looks in her bedroom mirror. She is shocked to see her face has taken on a hard, selfish, cruel look. Gwen realises what a monster she has turned into and is now more ashamed than ever. But her greed and selfishness are getting too strong and Gwen starts turning into a Jeckyll and Hyde type character, with one half the deeply ashamed Gwen, and the greedy selfish one who will stop at nothing to keep what she has gained, even if it means Judith dies on the cliff and her secret is safe forever.

Yes, Judith is beginning to remember, but not fully. She goes to the cliff to jog her memory and Gwen has no choice but to go with her. Her conflicting personality traits surface again. The cruel half gets the better of her, but when she sees it reflected in a puddle, she is ashamed at what she has become and hates herself. Seeing only one way to get rid of that evil face, Gwen deliberately goes to the same perch on the cliff as before in the hope of restoring Judith’s memory – and it does.

Then things take another surprising turn when Gwen ends up saving Judith’s life for real. For the first time in her life, Gwen finds she has reason to respect herself. The grateful Judith even offers to keep Gwen’s secret. But Gwen refuses; she must get rid of that evil and find peace of mind. So she confesses to her parents and then the whole school. She runs off in tears, expecting dire consequences.

But Gwen is in for a surprise. The girls say it was their fault too; they treated her badly, so perhaps they drove her to it. Well, they did – literally – when their scorn had her running off and going over the cliff in the first place. They are also impressed with the way Gwen really saved Judith this time (something Gwen did not mention when she confessed) and declined the offer of the easy way out.

So it’s forgiveness from them, and from Julie, who is reinstated at the school. Judith goes to drama school, but it looks like Gwen might follow the next year.

Thoughts

Most living a lie stories, such as “Holiday Hideway“, generally focus on all the scrapes the heroine gets into to keep her secret. They may be played for humour, thrills, or to make us despise the character. But here the focus is on the character development of Gwen, and this is the real strength of the story. Gwen starts off as a character you can instantly sympathise with. She feels a nobody who is desperate to step out of the shadows, but lacks the self-confidence and is always the target of teasing. And she has an accident and nearly gets killed because of it as well!

Once she becomes the centre of admiration, she laps up her new-found glory, happiness, friendships, and the acting opportunity she had dreamed of. Her life is looking up at last, and she starts gaining confidence. But the lie of it all means she still has no reason to love or respect herself, which is what she really needs if she is to be truly happy. The lows she sinks to in order to keep her secret bring out her dark side, which she never realised she had before. The revulsion of what she is turning into, and how this has led to her to destroy two people, has her discovering what a tormented soul truly means. And the changes in her face and personality are truly disturbing. On the other hand, it is this horrific change, rather than the guilty conscience, that sets Gwen on the path to redeeming her character, even though it will certainly mean ruining herself. But thanks to another turn of events, Gwen ends up on the path towards true self-respect and happiness as well as redemption.

Was Gwen forgiven a bit too readily and the ending a bit too pat? After all, she did get Julie expelled for something she did not do, and that would be an expelling matter for herself. Perhaps it is a matter of opinion. Certainly it is a frequent thing in girls’ comics for errant heroines to get off too easily, without any punishment. Forgiveness is a big thing in girls’ comics, but at times it comes too easily to be believable. On the other hand, the girls, and perhaps the staff, had reason to reflect on Gwen’s former miserable situation after she became a heroine. The gifts the girls shower her with could well be balms for guilty consciences as much as tokens of admiration. And now they have real reason to admire Gwen, for the courage in her honesty as well as heroism. It could well be that the headmistress was among those who was far too impressed with Gwen to think about punishing her.