Tag Archives: Alison Christie

Jinty 2 December 1978

The Girl Who Never Was (artist Terry Aspin)

Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)

Somewhere Over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

No Cheers for Cherry (artist Phil Gascoine)

Let’s Go Nuts! Cookery feature

Jinty’s Top-Model Game – feature 

She Shall Have Music (artist Ron Smith)

Sea Sister (artist Peter Wilkes)

Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)

The Human Zoo (artist Guy Peeters, writer Malcolm Shaw)

Home-made Christmas cards – feature 

It is now December, and Jinty is starting off the countdown to the festive season with a feature on how to make your own Christmas cards. Sadly, the rest of her Christmas countdown got cut off by a strike, causing her to miss three issues that December. In the New Year, Jinty belatedly printed the episode of Fran’s Christmas party, which must have been intended for the Christmas issue. Strangely, Tammy was not affected and had all her issues that month. Perhaps the IPC strikes did not affect their titles all the same way.

As we see on the cover, things are getting stormy in “Sea Sister”, and she’s not the only serial with it this week. Storms and floods are turning the tide in both “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “The Human Zoo” and helping our heroes to escape their respective confinements. In the former, it’s a cruel children’s home. In the latter, it’s an alien lab, which is also demonstrating that the aliens, so advanced compared to Earth, are light-years behind Earth when it comes to a flood crisis. Their technology is not made for water except in avoiding it. There’s no water drainage, no boating vessels, no flood control, no rain gear or umbrellas. They can’t even swim although they have seen it from humans. All because they are afraid of water, presumably because of their evolution.  

The Girl Who Never Was is given some magic spells to help her survive in the magic world, but there are drawbacks. The biggest one is a limit on the number of spells, so Tina has to really use her head in how she uses them – or avoid wasting them. Will it help the selfish Tina acquire the good sense she badly needs?

In “She Shall Have Music”, good sense is still very far from Lisa’s thinking. Her parents have given her an electronic piano so at least she has something for piano practice, but the arrogant Lisa considers it way beneath her and angrily kicks it to pieces like the spoiled brat she is. Her parents are deeply hurt, but all she can think about is piano, piano, piano. Then she tracks down her original piano, which is going up for auction. Knowing how obsessive she is about getting that piano back, this can only mean more trouble. 

Sue and her fun-bag are annoyed at how Aunt Thora goes on and on at how you should spread a little happiness wherever you go and keep a smile on your face at all times…with Henrietta around, that is asking for it!

In Alley Cat, Spotty Muchloot thinks he’s foiled Alley Cat at last when he bells the cat, but it backfires on him because of unforeseen consequences.

Fran plays Dick Turpin and “ghost” to keep a horse safe from crooks, but they track her and the horse down all the same. Better come up with something fast to fix them, Fran!

Cherry’s luck finally seems to have changed, with a big chance that could finally break her free of the relatives that she doesn’t even realise are exploiting her. But we’re not counting our chickens with her still in the clutches of those sneaky relatives.

Jinty 18 November 1978

The Girl Who Never Was (artist Terry Aspin)

Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

Limerick Winners – contest results

Somewhere Over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

No Cheers for Cherry (artist Phil Gascoine)

Welcome to…Rainbow Corner! – Feature 

Shadow Games – Feature

She Shall Have Music (artist Ron Smith)

Sea Sister (artist Peter Wilkes)

Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)

The Human Zoo (artist Guy Peeters, writer Malcolm Shaw)

Biscuit bonanza – feature

Fran sure deserves the cover spot this week because of her latest potty antic – landing a horse she’s trying to protect in the school swimming pool! She’s really excelled herself this time. 

Spotty Muchloot pulls another trick on Alley Cat, this time to keep him tracked and stop him pinching his food. But of course Alley Cat’s fast to detect it and turn the tables on Spotty. 

Tina (The Girl Who Never Was) and Lisa (She Shall Have Music) continue to make their difficult situations even more difficult for themselves because of their selfish attitudes, because of which they can’t see beyond themselves or realise there could be different ways to handle their situations. At the end of it, it looks like Lisa’s in trouble in front of the whole school, but there’s a strange development for Tina. 

This week, our space aliens in “The Human Zoo” demonstrate that in some ways, they are not as advanced as we first thought, and Earth has the upper hand over them in some areas. Shona and her friend Laika glimpse the aliens’ farming methods – which is done by hand ploughs and tools, and captured humans as (cruelly treated) beasts of burden – while Earth, far less advanced, has long since gone over to mechanised farming in developed nations. These aliens have the flying saucer, food replicator robots, a time machine and the flying skateboard, but they don’t have the frikkin’ tractor?! The logic to it is that farming machines would need repair and maintenance, whereas slave humans can be quickly replaced. Oh? For how much longer? The aliens are driving native humans to extinction, and it is getting too expensive to take ones from Earth. Considering how efficient and cost-effective Earth’s mechanised agriculture is by comparison, these aliens would do well to take a leaf or two out of our book. Well, on to the alien city, where things take a surprising but weird twist in Shona’s search for her lost sister Jenny. 

A police cell? That’s the latest shelter for our runaway orphans in search of the home “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, as the police haven’t anywhere else to put them. Don’t worry, the door’s not locked. The police have to do their duty and send them back where they started, but our orphans are working – well, singing – their way to the policemen’s hearts. 

Cherry gets an audition, but whether by accident or design, her mercenary relatives have dolled her up to such ridiculous levels that Cherry’s not on form for it. Can she recover and turn things around, or will there be no cheers for her again?

“Sea Sister” finds the stone she came for. The trouble is, it’s been set into a wall to fix a hole. And she’s growing attached to her new friend, Jane Bush, but she can only stay until she retrieves the stone. Things are definitely getting problematic. 

Tammy 20 August 1983

Cover artist: John Armstrong

Namby Pamby (artist Eduardo Feito, writer Ian Mennell)

Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)

Welcome, Stranger! (artist Douglas Perry, writer Chris Harris) – Pony Tale

Room for Rosie (artist Santiago Hernandez, writer Alison Christie)

Holiday Miss Title! (writer Maureen Spurgeon) – Quiz 

Fate – or Fortune? (artist Carlos Freixas, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – complete story

The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Alison Christie)

Backhand Play (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Ian Mennell)

Make Your Mind Up, Maggie (artist Juliana Buch)

Pretty Tidy (Chris Lloyd) – feature 

We had this issue before, but the post disappeared for some reason. So here it is again for 1983 issue in our Tammy August month round. 

Inside is one of the most historic moments in the saga of Bella Barlow – the moment when her arch-antagonists, Jed and Gert Barlow, make their final bow and disappear from her strip for good. We never thought we’d see the day. This was an astonishing move for Tammy to take, and we have to wonder what was behind it. Did ye Editor get tired of them or something? Anyway, good riddance to them. Our only regret is that although they had their karmic low points (including prison), they were never really punished for their treatment of Bella. 

In our other stories, Pam’s ridiculously overprotective mother does it again in “Namby Pamby”. The moment she hears Pam’s in a swimming match, she races to the pool, barrelling through the crowd and screaming hysterics, just because she thinks her precious little baby’s catching a chill. Oh, for crying out loud! Pauline Wheeler thinks she’s found “Room for Rosie” pretty quickly, but the new home falls through, so back to square one. No doubt this will be the first in a long string of failed homes before Rosie finds the One. “Backhand Play” is now on its penultimate episode, and it sets the stage for the final one: showdown between the tennis club and their backhand-playing tennis officer, Terry Knightly’s uncle, who’s now making an utter mockery of tennis. And the complications over juggling between riding and ballet get even worse for Maggie in “Make Your Mind Up, Maggie”.

Tammy’s complete stories are now the Button Box series, a Pony Tale series, and a self-contained complete story, a number of which had a supernatural theme. Some of them were reprints of Strange Stories, others were totally new and credited, giving us insight as to who might have written the spooky completes of the past.

Tammy 28 August 1982

Cover artist: John Armstrong

A Horse Called September (artist Eduardo Feito, writer Anne Digby (Pat Davidson))

Saving Grace (artist Juliana Buch, writer Ian Mennell)

Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Malcolm Shaw)

A Gran for the Gregorys (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

Cross on Court (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Gerry Finley-Day) – first episode

Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)

Camping Sights (Mari L’Anson)

Nanny Young (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – final episode

Slave of the Clock (artist Maria Barrera, writer Jay Over)

Treasures from the Seashore (Chris Lloyd) – feature

For 1982 in our Tammy August month round, we profile the final issue in that month. It’s the seventh issue since the new look Tammy was launched. The credits, a little uneven in the relaunch issue, now seem to have been ironed out more. As with a new comic, the relaunch is a little experimental, with some stories and features quickly canned and replacements tried, while other stories prove to be popular and played for all they’re worth. 

A new Mario Capaldi story, “Cross on Court”, replaces his previous one, “Come Back Bindi”. Bindi was Jenny McDade’s swansong; it only lasted six episodes when it could have been played for longer. Was it meant to be short, or did it get cut short for some reason? “A Gran for the Gregorys”, a story I liked, lasted eight episodes (ending next issue), but I felt it could have had more episodes and ended too soon. Nanny Young’s story ends this week, presumably to make way for something else, but she returns later.

“Saving Grace” and “Slave of the Clock” are definite hits, and the latter is remembered as a classic. The current Bella story had me hooked when it appeared; Bella loses her memory, and the unscrupulous Barlows are taking advantage of course. Interestingly, it was written by Malcolm Shaw, whereas all the other credited Bella stories were written by Primrose Cumming. “A Horse Called September”, an adaptation of the book by the same name, started later than the relaunch. It is guaranteed to be a smash with Anne Digby as the writer and the gorgeous equestrian artwork of Eduardo Feito. The Pam of Pond Hill story has a story arc that will keep it going for quite a while, and with a secret saboteur as the antagonist, it will definitely keep readers riveted. 

Tammy and Princess 2 June 1984

Cover artists: Trini Tinturé and Juliana Buch

Bella (artist John Armstrong, Primrose Cumming)

No Use to Anyone! (artist Eduardo Feito)

Pride of the Lamports (artist Hugo D’Adderio) – Pony Tale

Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)

Shape Up to Summer with Bella (feature)

Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie) – final episode

Take the Plunge! (Mari L’Anson) – feature 

The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Alison Christie)

I’m Her – She’s Me! (artist Phil Gascoine)

Cora Can’t Lose (artist Juliana Buch)

Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)

We now come to the end of our Tammy June month round with June 1984. In fact, this was the last month Tammy would ever appear. She was cut off by a strike with the 23rd June issue and was not brought back to finish her stories. Everything was forever left tantalisingly unfinished.

If not for the strike, Tammy would have been cancelled in August for her own merger into Girl (second series). As June progressed, there were signs of Tammy heading for the merger, with some double episodes and the disappearance of the Princess logo on her last published issue. Princess had only merged with Tammy two months earlier, so her logo lasted the shortest of any comic to merge with Tammy. The Tammy logo had also changed with the merger, going from straight colour to an eye-catching rainbow colour. Many of the covers are pretty summer scenes (well, it was summer) and an inset of a story panel.

For the moment, the buildup to the Girl merger has not yet started. Tammy’s still on the Princess (second series) merger. “Stefa’s Heart of Stone”, which came over from Princess (reprinted from Jinty), finishes this week. This was the last story to be completed from Princess. This will give more scope for the buildup to the merge with Girl.

Right now, it’s pretty much business as usual. With the last of the serials from Princess gone, Sadie in Waiting is the only Princess feature remaining. The current serials could be scripted for either Tammy or Princess. The one remembered the most is “Cora Can’t Lose”, which built up to an exciting conclusion, only to be cut off by the strike, to the eternal frustration of readers. The other serials that started in the remaining weeks of Tammy got cut off as well. But it may not be too late, even all these years later. Perhaps Rebellion can do something to redress the matter. 

Tammy 11 June 1983

Cover artist: Phil Gascoine

Portrait of Doreen Gray (artist Tony Coleman (credited as George Anthony), writer Charles Herring)

The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Alison Christie)

Backhand Play (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Ian Mennell) – first episode

School Days (artist Phil Townsend, writer Ian Mennell) – complete story

Enchanted June (artist Alma Jones, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – feature 

Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)

Different Strokes (artist Santiago Hernandez, writer Charles Herring)

Jaws Three (artist Phil Townsend, writer Gerry Finley-Day)

Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)

Heatwave! (Mari L’Anson) – feature 

Now we come to the 1983 issue in our Tammy June month round. As it so happens, the issue has a feature about popular British folklore in June (below), which makes it even more flavoursome for our June month theme. At this time, Tammy liked to run a feature on a particular month and the folklore that went with it.

We are now in the era where Tammy ran credits and her covers used story illustrations taken from the panels inside. Jinty did the same thing for several years before she changed to Mario Capaldi covers on 21/28 June 1980. This era of Tammy also had a new logo.

This issue has a gorgeous Phil Gascoine cover, which heralds Gascoine’s new story, “Backhand Play”, the last tennis serial Tammy published. A number of tennis stories appeared in Tammy over the years, such as “Backhand Billie” and “Double – Or Nothing!”. But the one that has to be the classic is “Becky Never Saw the Ball”, about a tennis player making a comeback after going blind. 

Bella and Pam of Pond Hill continue as the regular characters. There are two other regulars strips that appear now. One is a weekly complete story, with themes ranging from the supernatural to romance. Some of these completes reprint old Strange Stories, with text boxes replacing the Storyteller. The other is “The Button Box”. The Button Box is a storyteller theme (minus the supernatural), with Bev Jackson bringing a story every week from her button box. Each button has a story to tell, and often a moral along with it. This week’s moral: if you show a little kindness, it will be rewarded. Like having your life saved, which is what happens with the only man who showed kindness to a beggar girl who is bullied by everyone else in an Italian village. 

Tammy has had a higher number of serials since she dropped a lot of old regulars on 17 July 1982. And now she has credits, we can not only see who is behind the stories but also the types of stories some of her writers favoured. For example, we can see from the credits that Alison Christie favoured heart-tugging emotional stories and Charles Preston spooky completes. Perhaps Preston used to write on Strange Stories, Gypsy Rose and Misty. Other writers, such as Malcolm Shaw, Ian Mennell and Charles Herring, wrote on a wider variety of genres. 

Tammy & Misty 21/28 June 1980

Cover artist: John Richardson

Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)

Shadows on the Wall – Strange Story from the Mists

Tina’s Telly Mum (artist Giorgio Giorgetti, writer Alison Christie) – first episode

Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)

The Sea Witches (Mario Capaldi)

Lucky By Name (artist Julian Vivas)

Peggy in the Middle (artist Tony Coleman)

Edie and Miss T (artist Joe Collins)

Meet the Tammy Gymnast of the Month – Feature

Donna Ducks Out (artist Diane Gabbot(t))

Now we come to 1980 in our Tammy June month round. This particular June issue is unusual for having a double date. All IPC titles that week had it for some reason. 

It’s been six months since Misty merged with Tammy. The merger changed the Tammy logo from having daisy flowers to solid letters. The Misty merger was a bit disappointing because Misty was underrepresented in the merger. Tammy had a higher ratio of content all the way through. Much of the problem must have been with Misty herself. She had no regulars except Miss T and Misty herself, and regulars are vital for carrying on in a merger. Also, Misty’s ratio of serials was not very high, while her number of complete stories was way too vast. Also, her stories used 4-page spreads while her sister comics used three, which also reduced the space for more serials to run. A lower ratio of complete stories, enabling more room for serials, would have created a better balance. It would have also created more scope for something from Misty’s serials to turn into a regular, or for a regular strip to have been created. Some of the spooky stories that appeared during the merger, such as “The Sea Witches”, do give the impression they were originally scripted for Misty. Unfortunately, if Misty was not writing that many serials to begin with, not many of them could be published in the merger. The ratio of Tammy serials was definitely higher than Misty’s in the merger. Misty made her presence felt more in the Strange Stories – now called Strange Stories from the Mists, and she alternated with the Storyteller as the presenter. 

Meanwhile, Tammy has a higher number of serials running, as she is not running her regulars so much. This was another key change when Misty joined. The ever-popular Bella has to continue of course, and Sue is still a weekly regular, but Bessie is now appearing off and on, and Molly is on hiatus. 

In the serials, “The Sea Witches” are striking back at an American air base, which is disturbing nesting grounds, and how far they will go is increasingly worrying. “Peggy in the Middle” is a bold move in exploring how messy divorce and custody battles can be. “Lucky By Name” reaches its climax, with Lucky running off with her beloved pony in the mistaken belief her father will sell him. “Donna Ducks Out” is now on its penultimate episode. A bathroom duck gives Donna the power to swim, but now it has been damaged. The final episode will clearly tell if Donna can now sink or swim without the duck. A new story, “Tina’s Telly Mum”, starts. Tina Mason persuades her recently widowed mother to take a glamorous TV announcer job to distract herself from grief. Unfortunately, there are ominous signs Tina is going to regret this. She has already been left behind as her mother leaves for her new job, and a most unsuitable woman has been put in charge of her – the sort that has us instantly thinking, “What the hell was Mum thinking when she hired her?”

Bella is making a bid for the Moscow Olympics, but got herself stranded in the US after winning a qualifying event and then lost her sponsorship. Now it’s becoming even more difficult to keep up her gymnastics, much less get to Moscow. Bella missed out on competing in the Olympics once before, and now history is threatening to repeat itself. Bella is also making her influence keenly felt in Tammy’s latest competition, “Meet the Tammy Gymnast of the Month”.

Save Old Smokey! (1976)

Sample Images

Published: Jinty 7 February 1976 – 17 April 1976 

Episodes: 11 

Artist: Phil Townsend

Writer: Alison Christie

Translations/reprints: None known

Plot

Billie Stephenson and her grandfather live and work at the local railway line of Whistledown, and for years grandpa has run Old Smokey, the commuter steam train between Whistledown and the big city. But then Councillor Gresby sets up a garage, offering rival commuting by car, and is trying to push out Grandpa. He even puts up an ad outside the railway station (cheek!) saying, “It’s cheaper by far, to travel by car!”. His selling point is cheap petrol, and, as the Stephensons soon discover, his scheme is making the villagers so dependent on car travel they lose interest in the trainline, thinking they don’t need it anymore. 

Before long, Gresby is pinching not only Grandpa’s customers but his staff as well. Grandpa has to cover their jobs as well as his own, and it’s wearing him out. A flu epidemic closes the school, enabling Billie to help with Grandpa’s workload. But Gresby sends in a railway official to inspect things, and after seeing how poor custom has become, he closes down the railway line altogether. And Gresby still isn’t through; he tries to buy out Grandpa by offering him a job at his garage, and then he buys all the railway cottages for his garage employees. This pulls out the Stephensons’ home right from under them, and now they’re homeless. Gresby’s game is clear to Grandpa: “Take a job from him or get out!” 

Still, it’s not all going Gresby’s way. The housewives have wised up to how Gresby pulled strings to close the railway line. As they need the train because they don’t have cars, they rally around for Old Smokey and launch the fight to reopen the line. This gives Grandpa the resolution to fight as well. He soon finds a way to stay on living at the railway line – buy an old railway coach and convert it into a home. Billie organises a petition to Save Old Smokey.

But Gresby is finding his own way around the difficulties, and he seems to be cutting off the Stephensons at every turn. People are treating the Stephensons’ railway home as a joke, and Gresby takes advantage. He pays off the girls at school to really bully Billie over it. He then deals with the housewives by offering them a luxury bus to take them to the shops. Now they now say they don’t need Smokey and won’t bother with the petition. Billie only gets a handful of signatures. She also finds the closure of the railway line has driven more people to buy cars because there’s no other way of commuting, so now they don’t think they even need Smokey anymore. Gresby has the Stephensons’ water supply cut off, and the neighbours seem too scared to give them water (probably under threat of losing their jobs). Gresby sends in a scrap merchant to have Smokey scrapped. However, Billie manages to get a letter from British Rail telling Gresby he does not have the authority for this because Smokey is their property, not his. When the railway home springs a leak, giving Grandpa bronchitis, Gresby has the sanitary department around to inspect the home. They tell them to make the place damp proof or find another place to live. 

On the bright side, Billie finds a surprise ally – Gresby’s son Simon. Simon says he loves trains and stands up for Billie against the bullies who were paid off to pick on her. At first, Grandpa doesn’t trust Simon, but Billie thinks she can. Another friend is Farmer Miles of Whistledown Farm, who helps with water and other supplies.

Simon soon proves he can be trusted. He repairs the leak in the railway carriage as the Stephensons can’t, and seeing how poorly the petition is going, comes up with an interesting way to help it along – take the petition and get signatures himself. He gets into a fight with his own father over it, right in front of everyone in public. The rough way the enraged Gresby treats Billie and Simon shocks everyone so much they rally around with support and signatures. Hmm, did Simon plan it this way, or did it just happen?

The fight is not the only reason why the villagers have turned against Gresby; they are finding his service and maintenance charges are too high, so they’re looking at Smokey again. His petrol is the only thing that is cheap, but Billie knows that will increase too, once Gresby has gotten rid of them.

Gresby tries to destroy the petition by having one of his mechanics setting fire to the railway carriage. The arson does a pretty good job of making a mess of the place, but Grandpa was one step ahead of Gresby on the petition – he hid it inside Smokey in case Gresby tried to destroy it. Gresby is seething to see the petition being posted to the railway company. 

Billie soon gets warning Gresby is up to something else, and she also sees his garage is doing extremely well despite people turning on him after the public fight. He takes over the village dump site for his new car show room, so what’s going to be the new dump site for the old rubbish? Yep, you guessed it – the railway station. Billie and Grandpa are horrified to wake up to find themselves woken up surrounded by rubbish, and Gresby renames the old railway station “Whistledown Scrap Yard” (more of that cheek!). He is confident that as the railway line is closed, the railway company will not make a fuss about all the rubbish dumped on its property.

But Gresby soon finds he has miscalculated. When Mr Martin, a representative from the railway company, comes in response to the petition, he has Gresby remove the rubbish or face legal action. What’s more, as the council won’t remove the rubbish, Gresby has to pay a private firm to remove it, and there’s nowhere to put it but his own front garden! The Stephensons really have the last laugh on him this time. 

Mr Martin says they will reopen the line, but only if they can find a guard and a station master. So the Stephensons advertise, but Gresby is onto it with his own advertising, to tempt the jobseekers away with better jobs at his garage. However, the railway company find the men to do the jobs. Gresby bribes the coal merchant not to sell them any coal for Old Smokey, but the villagers overhear and rally around with their own coal. 

Grandpa insists on fixing up Old Smokey for the big day despite stormy weather, which makes him ill again. Gresby takes advantage by telling everyone they can’t have a sick old man like that as a driver, makes the train service unreliable, and they’re far better off with cars. Grandpa overhears, and this time he wonders if Gresby is right; he’s old, getting sick, and Smokey needs a young driver although it seems unthinkable that anyone but Grandpa can drive her. Though he recovers, he grows depressed and loses interest in everything, even in Smokey. 

Then, on another stormy night, matters come to a head when Gresby comes to the Stephensons begging for help. Simon’s got appendicitis and the storm has blocked the road, so no cars or ambulances can get to the hospital. Grandpa and Smokey are his only chance of saving Simon, as the railway line is the only other way to the hospital. So, Gresby is now forced to use the very steam engine he’s forced into retirement for months. And now he has discovered the hidden folly of making everyone in Whistledown – including himself – too dependent on just one means of commuting to the city and putting all their eggs in one basket.

Of course, the mission of mercy to the hospital on Smokey is how it’s all resolved. Simon is saved, and a grateful Gresby apologises, makes peace with the Stephensons and leaves them in peace, and concedes there’s room for both the railway and the garage in Whistledown. Smokey and Grandpa become heroes in the press and are back in business. Smokey is now tooting merrily along the railway track again.

Thoughts

According to Comixminx, at the time of publication, the story illustrated the increasing move to car usage. Nowadays, nearly fifty years later, we live in an age where increased car usage is causing multiple problems: too many vehicles, traffic congestion, traffic jams, parking problems and costs, increasing pollution, environmental damage, carbon footprints, fuel shortages and increasing petrol prices. These are driving us more and more to alternative forms of transport, preferably ones that are cheaper and more environmentally friendly. 

None of this was really in vogue at the time of publication, and none of it comes up in the story. All the same, the themes that come up in the story – too much car usage, not enough alternate means of transport, discarding existing means of transport that are still serviceable and could be upgraded, profitability at the expense of welfare and common sense – now seem more relevant today than in 1976.

The only major concern at the time of publication was rising cost of petrol. This is probably why Gresby’s cheap petrol is such a selling point. His other selling points include reliability, convenience, and cars being cheaper to run. Against this are his exorbitant charges for car maintenance and services. The petrol is the only thing that is cheap, but that will rise too, once the Stephensons are out of the way. If it happens, Gresby could well price himself out of the market.

However, from the outset we can see Gresby is so greedy at making his the only means of commuting to keep his garage profitable that he fails to see the folly that has been there from the start – having only one means of commuting puts too many eggs in one basket, which makes people over-reliant on it. But there will be times when it fails for one reason or other, and can’t always be available. He finds this out the hard way at the story’s climax. Besides, not everyone is willing or able to use that particular means of transport and may prefer others. Trains and cars have their pros and cons; rail has advantages that cars don’t have, and vice-versa. Therefore, both have ended up complementing each other, and this is what happens at the end of the story.

The Stephensons, in their own way, are as short-sighted as Gresby. The reason they want people to continue to use Smokey is that she is their life and blood, and they can’t live any other way. Moreover, to them, Smokey is not just a train but a person and their dearest friend, and they will move heaven and earth to save her. However, they are not looking all that much beyond this, to look at other reasons why Smokey should carry on, or if not, what else she could be used for. There are so many arguments they could use for public appeal. Over-dependency on one means of commuting has already been discussed. Heritage value and tourism could be another. This was used in a Button Box story (also written by Alison Christie) where a railway company closes down a railway station for economic reasons, to the devastation of the dedicated station master. As with Grandpa, the station was his life. However, the station’s heritage value comes to the rescue. A railway enthusiast converts it into a railway museum, beginning a whole new life for the station and its station master. There are also people like Simon who just love trains, and an old steam engine would build up on nostalgia appeal. And of course, there are people who prefer to be taken along the scenic route and avoid the traffic.

The villagers get so annoying in the way they constantly change back and forth between supporting Smokey and not doing so because of Gresby’s crafty manoeuvres to keep their custom. One minute they begin to see the pitfalls of the garage and the switch to cars, and even see Gresby for what he is. Then they change their minds in a flash once they receive yet another lucrative offer from Gresby or, in some cases, an off-panel threat from him. However, in the times when they do support Smokey, they always leave something behind to help. Ultimately, this takes the form of the filled petition. The petition in itself does not save Smokey, but it opens up the avenue to what ultimately does – prove to everyone, including greedy Gresby, that there is still a use for rail in Whistledown and they should not rely on just one means of commuting.

Jinty and Lindy 21 February 1976

Miss No-Name (artist Jim Baikie)

The Jinx from St. Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)

Friends of the Forest (artist “B. Jackson”)

Fran of the Floods (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Alan Davidson)

Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)

Too Old to Cry! (artist Trini Tinturé)

Wanda Whiter Than White (artist Ana Rodriguez)

Bound for Botany Bay (artist Roy Newby)

Save Old Smokey! (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)

Lori, “Miss No-Name”, makes her first attempt to run from the horrible Crabbs. But instead of dragging Lori back, Ma Crabb resorts to more crafty means. She sends a shadow, Fingers, on Lori’s tail. His job is to pull some sneakiness on Lori to make her come crawling back. Will he succeed? She’s found a good refuge, but he’s watching outside. 

Katie wants to see a big football match, but she’s been jinxed by bad chilblains. Poor Katie. Will she miss out on the match or find a way around things? 

Sally and Maya are hiding a deer, Star, from the circus. But nasty types are after Maya and are on their tail. 

Talk about a farewell concert! Fran is tearfully singing “We’ll Meet Again” at the school concert, to say goodbye to her parents the only way she can. The floods are now claiming her hometown as the reservoir bursts. The concert hall is quietly evacuating while the headmistress orders the concert to bravely carry on to avoid panic. 

Ma Siddons turns her hand at painting this week when she agrees to look after a famous artist’s dog in exchange for free art lessons. The results are a dog’s dinner, and Mrs Siddons is even more annoyed when Dora ends up reaping the benefits.  

A disastrous trail of mess-ups and misunderstandings have made Sara distrustful of Nell. But this week, when Sara sees the horrible orphanage Nell was raised in after her horse was sold to its cruel matron, they come together again. Trouble is, how to get the horse back?

Susie suspects there’s more to Wanda than being the biggest tattle-tale and most self-righteous prig you ever saw, but her conduct is just impossible. Then, Susie discovers the truth when she stumbles across an old newspaper, and from the sound of it, she’s astounded. 

Betsy Tanner begins her transportation to Botany Bay. She’s been warned, “You’ll be lucky if you get to Botany Bay alive!” And for her, it’s not just the usual convict ship conditions. Everyone, from her arch-enemy Lady De Mortimer to a fellow convict named Judy, is out to make her life a living hell. At least Judy turns around when Betsy shows her a kindness, and Betsy still has her farewell present, some art supplies, to help her survive.  

Grandpa and Billie Stephenson are fighting to hold onto their railway home against the greedy Councillor Gresby. Grandpa isn’t impressed with the new flat they’ll be moved to, for all its conveniences. Then, he turns up trumps by buying a railway coach for them to live in, so they can stay where they are. But will Gresby give up that easily?

Dot’s invited her friends around for ping pong, but practice gets her into trouble with her Dad. In the end, the ping pong balls are used for bingo games. Even Dad is impressed after being annoyed with Dot.

Jinty and Lindy 27 March 1976

Miss No-Name (artist Jim Baikie)

Penny Crayon (cartoon)

For Peter’s Sake! (artist Ana Rodriguez, writer Alison Christie)

Fran of the Floods (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Alan Davidson)

Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)

The Slave of Form 3B (artist Trini Tinturé)

Friends of the Forest (artist “B. Jackson”)

Bound for Botany Bay (artist Roy Newby)

Save Old Smokey! (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

Dora’s doggy problem this week is a dog who’s named Custard because he’s such a coward that he has to wear earmuffs as loud noises make him leap thirty feet in the air and has no clue how to stand up for himself. Then Custard finds the courage he never knew he had when he sees the nasty Ma Siddons bully Dora. She gets such a fright at his barking and growling that she takes refuge in a cupboard and comes out crawling to Dora for the rest of the evening.

Meanwhile, another cupboard is used as torture in “Bound for Botany Bay”. Poor Mary has been locked in a dark cupboard as punishment for blowing the whistle on Miss Wortley’s cruel treatment of Betsy, and it’s driving her mad with terror. This is the last straw for Betsy, so she decides it’s time to run off, with Mary too, and seek out her father. However, it’s not going to be easy to avoid recapture. Miss Wortley’s screaming for them to be brought back in chains and is going to turn Australia upside-down until she finds them. 

Nasty Ma Crabb has been forcing the amnesic Lori to practise dangerous climbing on an old tower. Now Lori finds out why – Ma Crabb’s training her up to commit forced robberies that involve high wall climbing!

The latest threat to survival in “Fran of the Floods” is a tinpot dictator group called the Black Circle. They operate a boot camp, which they operate as slave drivers. Now Fran and her friends are prisoners of the Black Circle and forced to do hand ploughing in the still-falling rain at the crack of a whip. Then a swarm of crazed birds attacks. Could it be their chance of escape?

Carrie’s in Scotland with her kindly gran and Old Peg, the pram that seems to cure any sick baby that’s rocked in it. Carrie is yearning for Old Peg to cure her sick baby brother Peter. 

There’s no Jinx from St Jonah’s at the moment. We presume she’ll be back when another story finishes, which could be “Friends of the Forest”. It looks like it’s nearing its end, and there’s a surprising revelation about our gypsy girl Maya – she’s an heiress!

Councillor Gresby is demonstrating he will resort to any means necessary to get rid of the Stephensons – including setting fire to their railway coach home and destroying the petition to “Save Old Smokey!”. Now he’s cleared out the village dump – and guess where he’s dumped the rubbish.

This week, “The Slave of Form 3B” is hypnotised into sabotaging one of Stacey’s rivals, Edna. Edna guesses the mean trick and who was responsible, but nobody will believe her. Stacey’s free to strike again, but the blurb for next week hints it won’t go so smoothly.