Tag Archives: Alison Christie

Hip hip hooray! Jinty (would have been) 43 today!

This is a post covering more than one celebration. It is the 600th post on this blog, posted on the 11th May, the day that Jinty was first published 43 years ago. And while we normally don’t make much of the anniversary of the blog itself, it has been a little over three years since it first started, back on 15 April 2014.

Jinty likewise also didn’t make much of its anniversaries. There is a celebration cover for its 200th issue but that mostly consists of an Easter picture and some text stating that it is a celebration issue. And while the cover of its 5th anniversary, above, is at least specially-drawn for the occasion, there is nothing much more inside to remind readers of the exciting times from the previous years. We can do more than that, in this blog post!

Well of course on this blog you can go back and read posts on individual issues, either in the order in which they were originally posted or (rather more conveniently) as an index, in date order. This also shows you how far we’ve got through the list of all 383 issues of Jinty ever published. For much of the run, we have now got long unbroken streaks of consecutive issues. There are gaps here and there of two or three issues together where we still have to fill in issues not-yet-blogged, but these are much fewer than used to be the case. (To give you context of the publishing of the time, there is also a much shorter list of issues of other titles which we have written about. It’s an area we focus on less, of course, but we will continue to add to nevertheless.)

We are still plugging gaps in the list of stories, too, but there again the gaps are narrowing. If you look at the list of Stories by Publication Date you can easily see which stories are yet to be posted about. Most of the key stories have already been covered, but there are still some crackers to come. Mistyfan is promising us “Tears of a Clown”, and on my own list I need to get to “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, the popular and extremely long wartime tear-jerker from Alison Christie and Phil Townsend.

In terms of other sorts of blog achievements, of course 600 posts is itself a really good number to have got to, in as little as three years. I would have been happy to manage about one post a week, but thanks to Mistyfan’s energy and our combined bright ideas on new things to tackle over that time, we have managed three or four times that rate. (I must give due credit to Mistyfan, who writes about one and half as many posts as I do!) The readers of this blog will be glad to know that even though we are closing the gaps on individual issues to write about, we still have many creators to cover as well as the story gaps mentioned. And although issues of other titles have featured previously as context for Jinty‘s family tree, I can see that we might need to cover more of these so as to continue to trace the path of different creators, story types, and themes throughout the years.

Jinty never had a chance to continue even as far as its 8th birthday issue, alas. I wonder what it would have been like if it had lasted longer? There would certainly have been a lot more great stories and excellent art to read and enjoy, but would it have stayed as inventive and energetic as 2000AD has done in its 40th year? Bunty lasted from 1958 to 2001 and had strong stories even to the end, but I think it would be hard to class the latter-day content of the title as ranking with its heyday. A longer-lasting Jinty would have had to reinvent itself more widely: I’m not sure how that would be possible in the constraints of the British comics market, especially with comics marked out as being more and more ‘for boys’. Esther, the Spanish “Patty’s World”, managed it, with stories being written specifically for the Spanish market and grown-up readers still seeking out the title of their childhood and sharing it with the next generation. Perhaps not a coincidence that it succeeded so well: Esther was always down-to-earth and realistic, compared to stories about boarding schools or ballet, so it stood more of a chance to tap into the mainstream urge for everyday stories that lies behind the popularity of soap operas. Not that soaps are the only way to produce popular entertainment, of course: Jinty and the like could perhaps have tapped into the science fiction or fantastical elements that worked so well in their pages. For sure, something  different would have been needed. Wouldn’t it have been great to have seen the publishers give it a go!

Nothing To Sing About [1979]

Sample Images

Nothing to Sing About

Nothing to Sing About 2Nothing to Sing About 3

Published: 9 June 1979 – 25 August 1979

Episodes: 12

Artist: Phil Townsend

Writer: Alison Christie

Translations/reprints: Girl Picture Story Library #15 as “I’ll Never Sing Again!”

Plot

Linette Davis dreams of being a top singer like her father Gary, who is a very famous singer. As far as Linette is concerned, things couldn’t be better. But there are warning signs of storm clouds ahead. Dad had been receiving medical advice to take it easy, which he is not heeding. Dad’s adoring fans have an unfortunate tendency to get carried away when they mob him for autographs and souvenirs, and have even torn his jacket off. When Mum and Linette watch Dad’s concert in Croxley, there’s an ominous poignancy about his singing…as if he’s doing it for the last time. Afterwards Linette hears that Dad went ahead with the concert although he was feeling poorly.

After the Croxley concert the fans mob Dad again, but he suddenly collapses. He dies in hospital, and Linette’s world is shattered. Mum says it was a heart attack, which had been coming for some time. But Linette blames the fans, saying they crushed and trampled him to death. This causes her to turn into an extremely bitter and irrational girl. She calls the fans murderers and lashes out at any fan of Dad’s that she encounters.

Moreover, Linette now can’t stand singing or music in any form, and she wants to block them out of her life. Whenever she hears Dad’s music being played (at record shops etc) she can’t stand it and wants to run away. Linette locks up Dad’s piano and throws the key away so it will never play that music again. She even goes as far as to try to stop birds singing in the garden. And she herself refuses to sing anymore; she gives up her singing lessons and burns all her singing books.

Linette refuses to listen to Mum’s urgings that Dad’s death was due to a heart attack and nothing to do with the fans, and that she shouldn’t give up on singing. As far as Linette is concerned, singing stopped the day Dad died.

Dad’s death has brought on financial difficulties too. They cannot afford to keep up their big house. Linette suggests they take in lodgers, as long as they are not singers. But singers are precisely what Mum takes in and she is helping them with their singing too. Linette can’t stand it and tries to get rid of the lodgers. But she ends up with Tom Bruce, the secretary of Dad’s fan club, and his daughter Anna.

Linette promptly starts taking her anger against the fans out on Anna and her Gary Davis fan club. Despite this, Anna tries to reach out to Linette. And Linette is forced towards Anna even further when the financial situation means Linette has to transfer to Anna’s comprehensive school.

At Anna’s fan club, Linette tries to crush it by yelling accusations about their being responsible for his death at their meeting. However, she is interrupted when a sudden fire breaks out, which nearly claims her. She won’t believe that it was one of Dad’s fans, Lucy, who saved her from the fire. And it’s too much for Linette when Mum agrees to let the fans hold their meetings at her house because they’ve lost their meeting place from the fire.

So Linette decides to run away, to a place where nobody sings and Dad’s music is not played. Silly girl; there’s no place like that, short of running away to a desert island or something. Sure enough, everywhere Linette turns she finds Dad’s songs and fans, and music. And she is forced to break her vow never to sing again after she loses her money and has to raise some at a talent show with her singing.

More problems come when Linette seeks lodgings. The landlady, Mrs Huggins, turns out to be a dodgy woman. Once Huggins realises Linette is a runaway, she starts blackmailing her into being the hotel skivvy, with no pay. And there is still no escape from Dad’s music when Linette discovers the Gary Davis impersonator that Huggins has hired for a cabaret evening. By the time the embittered Linette has finished with the impersonator, the cabaret evening is ruined and Huggins is furious because it cost her a fortune. In fact, Huggins is so furious that she is going to turn Linette in. But Linette runs off before Huggins finishes the phone call to the police.

Linette is forced to take shelter at a record shop, where she finds there is still no escape from Dad’s music because it is full of Gary Davis merchandise. The record shop owners, Mike and Sue, take her in, and Linette is a bit ashamed when she finds their disabled son loves singing and it brings the family sunshine. At first it’s extremely painful for her to work in the record shop, which sells Gary Davis merchandise, and it’s a hot seller. But to Linette’s surprise, hearing Dad’s music begins to bring comfort. Her experience in the record shop has her realise that he lives on through his songs and will never really gone altogether.

However, Linette still blames the fans for Dad’s death and refuses to go home because of the fan club. Then Linette sees her mother making a televised appeal for her to return. Appalled at how ill her mother looks, Linette returns immediately. She realises it was her conduct that has made her mother ill and is ashamed. Unfortunately she still blames the fans for Dad’s death and can’t accept their staying at her house. She lashes out at Anna over it, which causes her mother to collapse altogether.

In hospital, Mum urges Linette to sing her one of Dad’s songs. Linette can’t bring herself to sing, but does so when Tom tells her to stop being so selfish. A man from a record company overhears Linette singing and asks Linette if she would be interested in a contract, but she refuses. Singing is still off as far as she is concerned. Back home she still snubs the Bruces and the fan club, and even calls in the police when they hold a disco at her house. But the police find they have permission for it. Linette is ashamed when told they were raising money for her father’s favourite charity and begins to soften towards the Bruces a bit.

But Linette still blames the fans. Her hatred flares up again when she discovers that Mum and Tom are now engaged and she is going to have Anna for a stepsister. And when she finds Anna playing Dad’s songs on his piano (reopened with a new key) she yells that she does not want one of the fans who killed her father for a sister. When Mum asks Linette why she can’t accept that the fans did not crush Dad to death, Linette says she knows better than that. And to prove her point, she’s going to see Dad’s doctor about it – he should know.

And the doctor does. In fact, it’s the doctor who finally convinces Linette that Dad was not crushed to death by fans. It was indeed a heart attack, which was already on the way and could have struck at any time. It was just unlucky coincidence that it did so while the fans were crowding Dad.

Linette goes home ashamed and anxious to apologise – but it’s too late. The engagement’s been called off and Tom and Anna have moved out, all because of Linette’s conduct.

To put things right, Linette arranges a surprise that means resuming the singing she had tried to eschew. She then gives Mum, Tom and Anna tickets to a concert at Croxley (yes, where Dad died), where they all hear her sing. Tom and Mum get the message of the lyrics “We’ll always be together, you and I…” and resume the engagement. The records company boss is also there and repeats his offer, which Linette accepts this time. At Mum and Tom’s wedding, Linette does more singing honours and welcomes the cheering fans she used to hate so wrongly.

Thoughts

No sooner had Alison Christie finished one emotional story about a misguided, grief-stricken girl (“I’ll Make Up for Mary”) for Jinty when she started on another, “Nothing to Sing About”, which replaced Mary. The story also reunites the Alison Christie/Phil Townsend team, a combination which has been a long-standing stalwart in Jinty, especially when it comes to emotional stories such as “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and “Stefa’s Heart of Stone”, and would continue well into the merger with Tammy e.g. “A Gran for the Gregorys” and “It’s a Dog’s Life!”. Jinty sure liked to keep Christie cranking out those emotional stories to give her readers a good cry.

Although not as classic or well-remembered as Stefa or Rainbow, Linette’s story is still a strong, solid one. It is also more psychologically complex because it combines two emotional problems to compound Linette’s grief rather than the one problem that Mary and Stefa had. And they both have to be untangled and resolved if Linette is to get past her father’s death and learn to live her life again.

The first is Linette shutting all music and singing out of her life because she finds it too painful in the wake of her father’s death. This is not unlike how Stefa tries to shut all love out of her life in the wake of her friend’s death. This alone is enough to carry Stefa’s story.

But in Linette’s case there is a second problem that carries the story even more intensely  – the hatred that has consumed her because she blames the fans for Dad’s death. Her hatred is making the grieving over Dad’s death even worse, not only for her but also for everyone around her. And to make it worse, she is quite wrong to do so, but she won’t accept that.

Irrational hatreds that stem from wrongly blaming someone/something for a loved one’s death are a common feature in Alison Christie’s Jinty stories. More often, though, it is on the part of the antagonist of the story and the protagonist suffers because of it. Examples where this has occurred include “The Four-Footed Friends” and “Cursed To Be a Coward!”. But here Christie takes a more atypical step of having the protagonist carry this hatred. And by insisting on believing it was the fans when Mum pleads it was a medical condition, Linette does not understand that she is making things even worse for herself and hurting everyone around her even more, or that she is dishonouring her father’s memory by lashing out at his fans. Nor does she realise that she is the architect of her own misfortunes, such allowing her irrationalities to have her run off and getting into all sorts of scrapes, including being blackmailed and exploited by Mrs Huggins.

It does make a change to have the voice of authority (the doctor) being the one to bring the misguided, aggrieved girl/woman to her senses instead of the more usual shock treatment, such as their conduct causing an accident or something. Readers might have expected Linette’s time on the run to provide the cure, but it doesn’t, which makes another change. Though Linette finds running off is no escape from Dad’s music, it does not sink in that his music is impossible to run from or be silenced. In fact, there would have been a swelling of popularity of Dad’s singing in the wake of his death, but Linette does not realise that either. Nor does seeing her mother ill really make Linette see reason, though she realises she is responsible for it because of the way she is behaving. Once she does see reason and the damage she has caused, she is forced to go back to the singing she had tried to erase from her life. And in so doing she learns to appreciate singing all over again, become much happier by letting go of her pain, and honour her father by following in his footsteps.

Jinty 30 June 1979

Jinty cover 30 June 1979

  • Casey, Come Back! – final episode (unknown artist – Merry)
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Nothing to Sing About (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Keep Your Fingers Crossed! (feature)
  • The Disappearing Dolphin (artist Trine Tinturé)
  • The Hill that Cried – Gypsy Rose story (artist Shirley Bellwood)
  • Some Scarecrow! (Michael Jackson feature)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Beauty on a Budget (feature)

This issue’s cover portrays two water scenes, but they are a complete contrast. In “The Forbidden Garden” it’s a life-or-death situation where Laika and Kara nearly drown in floodwaters, while in “Bizzie Bet and the Easies” it’s fun-and-sun by the sea. And for once Bet scores a final laugh over the Easies.

In “A Girl Called Gulliver” there’s water trouble too, as our last Lilliputians set themselves sailing down the river in an old tea kettle – only to find they forgot to check it was seaworthy first, and it isn’t!

It’s the last episode of “Casey, Come Back!”, one of the three-part stories that appeared in Jinty in 1979 but give the impression they could have done with more prolonged treatment. Next we see the start of the Jinty classic, “Almost Human”, and “Mike and Terry”, Jinty’s response to popular demand for a detective story.

Pandora’s difficulty with maths has forced her hand to use the witchcraft box. But she finds she won’t get her box to work unless she gets herself a familiar, which means swallowing her dislike of cats. So meet Scruffy, the cross-eyed cat who doesn’t like Pandora any more than she likes him.

“The Disappearing Dolphin” leads the scuba divers to exciting archaeological finds. But Mrs Ormerod-Keynes, who is trying to stop the expedition, is not impressed. Now why could that be?

Gypsy Rose is back this week, but it feels like a filler. Gypsy Rose all but disappeared in 1979, making intermittent appearances. She never achieved the long-standing regularity of the Storyteller in June/Tammy. The Gypsy Rose story this week is clearly another recycled Strange Story. A Cornish family are faced with selling their farm, but strange things start to happen when a hill starts crying and wailing…

Alley Cat artist Rob Lee breaks the fourth wall and presents Alley Cat with some tasty treats to cheer him up in the last panel after Alley Cat gets a bit of a disappointment with this week’s episode.

Linette’s actions to shut her father’s music out of her life is really hurting her schoolmates, who are still fans of it. This week she has to change schools as well, but her attitude is making the transition even more difficult.

Jinty 9 June 1979

Stories in this issue:

  • Alice in a Strange Land (artist Terry Aspin) – last episode
  • Rinty ‘N’ Jinty
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Nothing To Sing About (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie) – first episode
  • Dip into this! (recipe feature)
  • Daughter of Dreams – last episode
  • The Four-Footed Friends (artist Peter Wilkes, writer Alison Christie)
  • Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters) – first episode

This is a time when Jinty seems to be finishing some particularly good stories – “Alice In a Strange Land”, “Children of Edenford”. This issue sees the start of tear-jerker “Nothing to Sing About” – another heart-tugger created by the joint talents of Alison Christie and Phil Townsend – and of the amusing but fairly light-weight “Pandora’s Box”. Next week sees the first episodes of “Casey, Come Back!” – another tear-jerker, drawn by the unknown artist who drew “Merry at Misery House” – and “The Disappearing Dolphin”, a mystery story beautifully drawn by Trini Tinturé. All are good, but none quite match those immediate predecessors.

“Alice” ends with a four-page episode that takes Alice out from the crumbling rocks threatening to crush her, to a reunion with her friends and a reconciliation with her cousin Karen. “I’m proud to be your cousin, Alice! I hope you can forgive how badly I’ve treated you in the past and let me be your friend?” Karen’s parents still need to understand the changed relationship but eventually all is resolved. The tag line at the end tells us that “Alice has deserved her happy ending. Next week, meet ‘The Disappearing Dolphin’!” In fact, the subsequent cover mostly features that story but the lead spot at the front of the comic is taken by “Casey, Come Back!”.

“The Forbidden Garden” is picking up the pace: Laika is told that someone has reported her as being of superior intellect, which means she is saved from the Industrial Zone where the rest of her family will just rot away their lives. Her old friends can’t afford to stay friendly with her, because if Laika makes any complaint about them, they will be severely fined, even imprisoned! The only bright side is that she can get back to her garden and tend to her plants – but even they are a source of fear, because surely they are growing much too fast? There must be something strange about them!

“Nothing to Sing About” starts off with 12 year old Linette Davis following in the footsteps of her beloved, popular singer father. By the end of the first three-page episode, her father is dead, and Linette is cursing the fans who she blames for killing him, by crowding round him too much!

It is the last episode of “Daughter of Dreams”. In this four-pager, Sally realises she can be brave after all, when she has to act without thinking – and her imaginary friend Pauline has a hand in making everything come out right, too. We are promised another Pauline Starr story later, so it looks like this was intended to be a long-running character feature. In the end there were only two stories featuring this duo.

Laura and her mum have to go and visit the slums that Laura’s friend Josie used to live in – Laura thinks this will change her mum’s mind now that she has seen how badly folks need re-housing, but not a bit of it, of course. In fact Laura’s mum purposefully gets Josie’s dog Riley lost, leading him into danger with the dog catchers.

Finally, it is the first episode of “Pandora’s Box”. Pandora is stubborn and conceited, but in for a shock – it’s bad enough her aunt suddenly claiming to be be a witch and telling her that she has to follow the family tradition of learning the ‘wisdom of witchcraft’ but her aunt is also claiming she has no drama talent and won’t succeed without the witchcraft! Of course Pandora is determined to prove her aunt wrong – but can she resist the temptation to use magic to make her path smoother?

Jinty 2 June 1979

The cover on this week and the following week’s comics are drawn by the unknown artist who gave us “Concrete Surfer” – lovely fun summer scenes!

Stories in this issue:

  • Alice in a Strange Land (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • I’ll Make Up for Mary (artist Guy Peeters, writer Alison Christie) – last episode
  • Are You a Do-er, a Ditherer, or a Do-Nothing? (quiz)
  • Daughter of Dreams
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • The Four-Footed Friends (artist Peter Wilkes, writer Alison Christie)
  • Children of Edenford (artist Phil Townsend)

Alice is rescued from being sacrificed – partly because she is smart enough to take off the Sun Goddess mask and show the priestesses that she is not really the goddess they thought she was. That wouldn’t save her from the High Priestess herself, but Sir Edward turns up in the nick of time and tells her that it’s all over – the fountain of youth has been blocked by the earthquakes and their eternal life will soon come to an end. A split in the ground carries away the mad priestess and Alice is safe – if she can just get back to where the other girls are so they can all get away together!

Laika is stuck in the Industrial Zone where she can’t look after her plants in her Forbidden Garden – the only hope that is keeping her ill sister alive is the promise to have a flower of her very own. Suddenly everything changes: Laika is dragged off by the Child Protection Force, who say that she has been deemed highly intelligent and must be taken away from her parents so that she can be brought up as befits her intelligence. What next?

It is the last episode of “I’ll Make Up For Mary“. Poor sad Ann thinks there is no way out other than the very final way of going back to where Mary was drowned! Luckily the friends she has made even during her struggles, and her parents who have never stopped loving her, rescue her.

Quizzes were a very normal feature of girls comics and magazines: here is an example. I love this artist, who featured in lots of items like this – features, quizzes, and articles published in summer specials and annuals. I wonder what his or her name was?

click thru

“Daughter of Dreams” is not one of Jinty’s best or most memorable stories. Sally Carter is shy: she has invented an imaginary friend who is outgoing and slightly obstreperous. She has such a strong imagination that her friend ends up coming to life – and even being able to do things like rescue the bully who has fallen into the canal water! Sally is too scared to do it herself, but finds that she is being fêted as the heroine of the hour – which is perhaps even harder for her to deal with.

Laura’s mum is really angry with her husband, who has borrowed scruffy mongrel Riley to help protect the house after a burglar broke in. Riley and Winston are very glad just to be able to hang out together! And there’s more – the father is actively working to support the local council estate, by building a supermarket nearby, which will help to bring much-needed amenities to the area.

In the dramatic last episode of “Children of Edenford”, Patti is taken down to the Temple of Purity – yes, the headmistress has got a temple of fire, named after herself! – to be sacrified on the altar of Miss Goodfellow’s ambitions. Unlike other sacrificial lambs, Patti is no pushover and she fights back – and the fight sees Miss Goodfellow tipped down into the firey pit of her own making! All is over, and the world is saved from the threat of being turned monstrously, unwillingly perfect.

Jinty 26 May 1979

Stories in this issue:

  • Alice in a Strange Land (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • I’ll Make Up for Mary (artist Guy Peeters, writer Alison Christie)
  • Tennis superstar John McEnroe talks to you (feature)
  • Daughter of Dreams
  • “Frieze” A Jolly Good fellow – craft feature
  • The Four-Footed Friends (artist Peter Wilkes, writer Alison Christie)
  • Children of Edenford (artist Phil Townsend)

“Alice In a Strange Land” is coming to a distinct climax – it starts off with Alice and her schoolgirl party in a dungeon, coming up with a plan to save their skins from the high priestess, who is planning to sacrifice Karen to the Sun God! Alice swaps places with Karen and waits heroically during the long ceremony, hoping frantically that the girls will be able to get away and find Sir Edward in time to stop the priestess. But the last panel has got the knife being raised over Alice’s chest, ready to be plunged down! Will it all work out in time?

Laika has had bad news in “The Forbidden Garden” – her family is being sent to the industrial zone. She tells her friend Kara what happened – including the fact that this transfer is Gladvis Clampp’s revenge on Laika, for burning the negatives that were being used to blackmail all sorts of people. But the worst aspect of it is that there is no way that Laika will be able to keep her promise to her deathly sick little sister Valli, to bring her a real flower some day…

Gwenny Gulliver has to handle the annoying four tiny Lilliputians who claim that as the last descendant of Lemuel Gulliver she needs to protect them. She needs protecting from them, as the two kids of the family start flinging ink pellets and all sorts while at school!

Mary has finally cracked – she flies into a rage at school, and runs off after flinging the school dance club records at all and sundry. When she gets home she overhears her parents say they need to move north to start again – ‘We must think of Ann… Ann’s all we’ve got left now.’ Ann, despairing, thinks there is only one way out – ‘I’m the one who must go… There’s only one thing left to do!’ The last episode is next week, and all will be resolved.

“The Four Footed Friends” has a surprise for Laura – it’s her dad, returned from his work abroad! He has a very different take on things from Laura’s mum, including borrowing Riley to come and help guard the house from burglars (because their house has just been burgled).

Miss Goodfellow has caught Patti good and proper – red-handed smashing the bottles of the mystery drug that turns people perfect! The headmistress’s plan is to drug Patti into submission. Friend Jilly is nearly caught too: she escapes the school but when she flags down a police car to get away, even the local cops are in Miss Goodfellow’s thrall! Patti cannot be zombified, because of the extra-bad hay fever causing her eyes to stream and weep, so the headmistress swears to – burn out her imperfections instead! The final episode is promised for next week – so it will be a very exciting week for readers.

Jinty 19 May 1979

Stories in this issue:

  • Alice in a Strange Land (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • I’ll Make Up for Mary (artist Guy Peeters, writer Alison Christie)
  • What’s In a Name? (feature and quiz)
  • Daughter of Dreams
  • The Real Thing – pop feature on Liverpool band
  • The Four-Footed Friends (artist Peter Wilkes, writer Alison Christie)
  • Children of Edenford (artist Phil Townsend)
  • A Dashing Cravat – craft feature

“Alice in a Strange Land” enters prime H Rider Haggard territory – she finds that her rescuer is a Victorian explorer – complete with mutton-chop whiskers – who has been kept young by the spring of eternal youth. Sir Edward takes Alice to see the Incan carving that tells the tale of how the spring was blocked by an earlier earthquake – it must periodically be stopped and started by earth tremors. It is this that the High Priestess wants to prevent, by sacrificing Alice or her cousin to the Incan sun god!

Laika has found a hidden safe that is almost certainly where scheming blackmailer Gladvis keeps the negatives of the compromising photos she has taken over the years. (Ah, negatives – a blast from the past, in this science fiction story!) Gladvis inadvertently gives away the combination when she tips out a bunch of stuff from her drawer, for Laika to tidy up. Laika wastes no time in getting rid of the material in the safe, but Gladvis’ revenge is not long in coming. Laika’s dad gets the news that he has been downgraded to a Grade C manager – and the family have to move to an underground apartment in the Industrial Zone!

Gwenny Gulliver is getting used to having tiny guests – the last Lilliputians have come to stay with her. There are a few hitches – not least them setting fire to the doll’s house that they are living in!

Ann Ridley’s parents are putting a brave face on things and clearing out the bedroom of Mary’s things. Ann works hard to help, but giving stuff away to the jumble sale sparks painful memories that cause her to go off in anger at just the point when she is starting to feel she is doing a good job. Once again she feels “they only want Mary, and there’s nothing I can do about it!”

Laura’s posh mother is on stage in “The Four-Footed Friends” – she wants to beguile the audience into signing her petition against extending the council estate. But mongrel Riley and best friend Winston undo her efforts by putting up such a show of friendship that no one wants to sign the petition! Good for them.

Jilly and Patti are busy clearing up the school – headmistress Purity Goodfellow has turned all the parents and schoolchildren into perfect zombies in the wake of the riot that the two girls incited. Patti and Jilly must try and destroy the perfection drug as soon as possible, before Miss Goodfellow tries to feed it to the whole country – she has enough of it stored up to do so!

Jinty 31 March 1979

Stories in this issue

  • Alice in a Strange Land (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands) – first episode
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Boney is beautiful! (feature on pop group Boney M)
  • Prisoner of the Bell (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • I’ll Make Up for Mary (artist Guy Peeters, writer Alison Christie)
  • You Wanna Be a Millionaire… or do you? (quiz)
  • Daughter of Dreams
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • The Four-Footed Friends (artist Peter Wilkes, writer Alison Christie)
  • Kate Bush (pin up)
  • Children of Edenford (artist Phil Townsend)
  • What price beauty? (feature)

Alice follows the sound of Chana’s voice and discovers that they have both been betrayed – Chana has been exiled from the city and will thereby surely die, and Alice’s cousin Karen has got the golden urn and declared herself sun goddess. The temple priestesses seize Alice on sight and she is forced to dress as a jester in order to appease her cousin, who is finding that power has gone to her head!

It is the first episode of “Bizzie Bet and the Easies”, a lightweight two page humour strip that has started running in the place of “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!”. Bet is an energetic girl but her friends the Easies are much keener on a quiet life with minimal effort. I like their style, personally!

Laika is starting to grow her forbidden garden, but she has to balance the needs of tending to it with the danger of getting caught in the Forbidden Zone. This time the police nearly catch her, and her weak little sister Valli is half-dead with anxiety.

Susie is no longer the prisoner of the bell – at least temporarily so, because her gran can’t get at her while she is on the residential gym course. A weight seems to have lifted from her, and Susie’s gym mojo returns – but the gran doesn’t give up as easily as that!

Ann tries to emulate her sister by demanding that the bullies who have pinched a precious photo album give it back – but instead they just rip up the photos! Ann is heartbroken but more importantly she can’t face telling the news to the old lady whose photo album it is. When the story comes out, more and more people are disappointed in Ann and she feels once again that she can never make up for her dead sister.

The “Daughter of Dreams” is Pauline Starr – she’s really just a figment of shy Sally Carter’s imagination, but such a strong imagination that she comes to life! Sally is the only person who can see her, but the fantastical creation can nevertheless have an effect on the world around her… and on Sally’s confidence, of course. The sequel to this story is drawn by the unknown artist who drew Merry, but this is done by the hand of a different artist (probably a Spanish person by the looks of the style).

The four-footed friends are posh Peke Winston and scruffy mongrel Riley – their owners are also fast friends, but Laura’s mum is having none of it. Riley ends up shut in a shed, with a threat to turn him over to the police, as a vermin spreader.

Patti is still a normal teenager in “Children of Edenford” but not so the girls next door – Mandy and Debbie used to be lazy messy little horrors who never helped out, but now they make posh suppers for dinner parties and listen to poetry records for fun. Patti escapes to visit her friend Jilly – only to find that Jilly too, is proposing to do some maths homework for a bit of fun, and has taken down all her Travolta posters! “Pop music is a waste of time. It neither enriches the soul nor challenges the intellect.” Yikes!

Jinty 3 March 1979

Stories in this issue:

  • Alice in a Strange Land (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Sea-Sister (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Alley Cat
  • Prisoner of the Bell (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Gypsy Rose Looks at the stars (Horoscope)
  • Children of Edenford (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Masters of Space: pin-up of “Blake’s Seven”
  • She Shall Have Music (artist Ron Smith)
  • Flying High with the Cavarettas! (feature)
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)
  • I’ll Make Up for Mary (artist Guy Peeters, writer Alison Christie)

“Alice in a Strange Land: is the lead story at this point – Alice and her cousin Karen are told by the mysterious High Priestess that there is a prophecy that a “white-skinned goddess” will lead the tribe back to greatness. Will that goddess be Karen or Alice – and what test will decide between them?

Sea-Sister Helen and her friend Jane are stuck in the ocean – Helen was trying to return to the underwater village that she comes from, but with Jane also on board her sea-shell boat it was not able to return properly. An oil tanker that is stuck on the rocks threatens the two girls, and also a number of friendly birds – Helen tries to save them all but in then end a giant wave sweeps the two of them overboard and under the sea. That’s fine for Helen, who is finally home again – but what of Jane, who has ended up visiting the underwater kingdom without permission?

In “Prisoner of the Bell”, Susie Cathcart is afraid she’s lost her nerve and can’t face doing gymnastics any more. Loyal friend Lorraine thinks of a way to help her get back into the swing of it and even lends her twenty pounds for it – a residential course at a gym school. But the meddling gran finds the money and instructs Susie to “destroy that friendship forever!” The hypnotized Susie can only reply “Whatever your orders, Grandma, I will obey!”

We normally haven’t touched on the features and extraneous items in the pages of the comic. I include the page with the horoscope (and who better to present it than Gypsy Rose, of course – here drawn by Phil Townsend) and a crossword. The clues on the crossword seem surprisingly hard for the intended age range of 8-12, I’d think: but have a look at the tiny upside-down answers, if you can, and see what you think. You will need to click through, of course.

This is just the second episode of “Children of Edenford”. Patti has arrived at the clean and beautiful village of Edenford, but she knows that something’s not right about it. Well, the runaway terrified girl being pursued by grim blank-eyed schoolgirls, and the headmistress whose motto is “Others strive for perfection – we achieve it!” is a bit of a give-away, maybe.

Lisa Carstairs is still a snooty snob in “She Shall Have Music”. Her mother is ill and unable to cope: Lisa is told to stay on with her friend Tracey but instead runs off to stay with her London godmother. Will it work out? Not likely…

There is a two-page text article about a trapeze artist act, the Caravettas: three sisters and a brother. Very exciting!

Fran is playing at being the Fire Officer, which is great fun, so long as she doesn’t screw it up badly enough that she gets into the Headmistress’s bad books, cos that would mean that big bully Martha Stump would have a chance to get her own back.

Shy Ann has changed her hairstyle and other looks to match her dead twin’s – and the other girls on the school bus are understandably rather freaked out when they first see it. Being back at school after the traumatic holiday where her sister was drowned is difficult in many ways, however hard Ann tries.

Ping-Pong Paula [1975-1976]

Sample Images

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Published: 6 September 1975 – 17 January 1976

Episodes: 20

Artist: Jim Baikie

Writer: Alison Christie

Translations/reprints: none known

Plot

Paula Pride wants to become a champion tennis player. Her father runs a garage business and enjoys a happy marriage with Mum. The Prides have always been content with living in a council house.

But then comes the day Mum visits her old school friend, Joan. Joan is married to a bank manager, which enables her to live a wealthy lifestyle in a high-income house, and says she would find a council house so “dreary”. Mum, being a proud woman, gets jealous, dreads what Joan will think if she visits and sees they live in a council house, and becomes discontented with the council house they have.

Dad loves Mum so much that he agrees to take on extra work at his garage so they can afford a mortgage for a posh home like Joan’s. He should have thought more carefully before indulging Mum’s pride in this manner, because it turns out to be a dreadful mistake. They find a house as posh as Joan’s all right, but Dad now has to work all hours to pay the mortgage, plus all the luxurious furnishings that Mum wants for the new home. He is taking on so much work that soon he has no time for his family.

Mum feels neglected because of this. She is also lonely because she has no friends in their new neighbourhood (the new neighbours are too snobby and her old friends don’t visit), and is deeply hurt when Dad forgets their wedding anniversary because he is working too hard. Dad and Mum begin to quarrel over it all. Mum is accusing Dad of being too wrapped up in cars to care for his family while not considering that Dad is doing it all to pay for what she wanted, not because he’s a workaholic. It’s her fault he took on so much work in the first place.

It gets even worse when Joan is invited over to see the Prides’ new home. Snobby Joan is not impressed to see Dad in grubby garage clothes, says she’s so pleased her husband is a white collar worker and not a blue one, and walks out.

Eventually, when Dad lets Paula down at an important table tennis match because he has to go clinch a business deal, Mum gets into such a strop that she decides to right walk out on Dad and out of the posh house she had wanted so much. And she insists on dragging Paula out with her.

They end up in a seedy flat with lumpy mattresses to sleep on after Mum meets up with Coral Bly, another old school friend of hers who is now a hippy artist. So much for living like Joan!

Mum is too huffy and proud to care about Paula’s protests that she did not want to leave Dad. Nor does she care about making Paula miss table tennis practice, just because she doesn’t want Dad to snatch Paula back. Paula’s table tennis begins to suffer, but it’s Dad to the rescue when he hears. He installs a table tennis table at their old posh house for her to practise with.

Paula falls sick because of Coral’s unhealthy accommodation, but she and Mum just get kicked out. Instead of going back to Dad as Paula hoped, Mum shacks them up in a guesthouse and gets a job in a dispensary. Paula recovers in the guesthouse, but now finds her father has fallen ill from overwork (it had to happen). She starts going back to their old house to nurse him, but has to do it behind Mum’s back because Mum would have a fit if she found out Paula was seeing Dad. Mum’s definitely not allowing Dad to have any visitation rights, and Paula’s becoming a real-life ping-pong ball between her estranged parents. Paula is also missing her table tennis practice in order to care for Dad.

Mum and Paula’s coach Miss Park find out about Paula seeing Dad instead of going to table tennis practice. When Paula explains about her sick father, Miss Park is understanding and sympathetic. However, Mum is just too far up on her high horse of pride to even care that her husband is ill, much less nurse him. At least she arranges for Auntie June to nurse Dad, but she doesn’t even go to see him while he’s ill. Meanwhile, Paula is free to get back into table-tennis shape and is making strides at it.

But a jealous rival just has to come along to make trouble for Paula on top of her other problems. It comes in the form of Myra Glegg, who is also a new boarder in the guesthouse where Mum and Paula are staying. This makes it easier for Myra to play dirty tricks on Paula, such as hiding her bats or having her switch rooms to make her lose sleep.

Paula manages to work her way through Myra’s tricks and is on the rise as inter-school champion. Both parents are delighted for her, but when they come together at a match, they don’t put aside their acrimony for her sake. Paula is hurt and embarrassed when they refuse to sit for a family photo for the press. Dad takes off and Paula poses for the photo with Mum, but the upset spoils the photo opportunity.

At the county final Paula finds out her opponent is none other than Myra Glegg! So that explains the dirty tricks. And Myra tries to pull another – stirring up trouble between the quarrelsome parents to upset Paula. It fails and Myra does not even shake hands when Paula wins. Back at the guesthouse Myra rips up Paula’s table tennis photos out of spite, but the landlady catches her in the act and throws her out of the guesthouse.

Myra’s no longer a problem for Paula now, but she’s still a ping-pong ball between her separated parents. Paula tries to use her celebratory dinner at a posh restaurant to bring them together. After a bad start it begins to show some hope, but then Mum sees Dad is still wearing garage boots with his dinner suit (oops, working too hard again!). Prideful Mum makes a real scene over it because she believes she has been shown up in front of her friends. Both Paula and Dad are furious with her for shouting about it so much – and in public – when nobody would have even noticed otherwise. At any rate, it’s back to square one.

Then the landlady falls ill, so Mum and Paula have to find new lodgings. All the other guesthouses are full and relatives won’t take them in because they’re on Dad’s side and say Mum should jolly well go back to him. But she won’t because she’s still too proud for that. She’s too proud to go into a night refuge centre for down-and-outs too, so she is utterly mortified when the police put her and Paula in one.

For Paula, this is the last straw in being shunted around in boarding houses, hotels and shabby accommodation with Mum. She leaves Mum altogether and goes back to living with Dad, much to Mum’s consternation when she finds out. And it also means that Paula has no idea where her mother will be living next.

Paula is now training for the junior all-England championships, which are in four months’ time. Then Paula finds out Dad is falling behind on the mortgage payments and then learns it’s because his garage is ailing very badly. Paula takes a café job to help make ends meet but collapses with exhaustion from juggling it with her other commitments. The recuperation period the doctor prescribes puts her table tennis on hold for a month.

Dad’s business now closes down altogether, so he cannot pay the mortgage. Paula says there’s no point now anyway; it was only Mum who wanted the house, but now she isn’t even there to live in it. Dad agrees with Paula’s suggestion that they move back to a council house, as they were quite happy with one before. Paula is not sorry to leave the house that caused nothing but trouble for her family.

At the new council house Paula puts up Mum’s photo as a gesture of hope. Dad finds a job as a chief mechanic in another garage. He’s now got more times on his hands now he doesn’t have to work so hard, but is spending it showing that he misses Mum as much as Paula does.

They both begin looking for Mum, but they come up empty. Paula’s 16th birthday comes, but this does not bring the parents together. Instead it’s separate gifts, with Mum sending Paula a ticket for the top table tennis player Gordon Simons display match – anonymously. When Paula sees Mum there (something Mum was trying to avoid) she gives Paula a parcel for Dad. It turns out to be a farewell gift for him, along with a note saying that Mum is moving to Australia. It looks like the marriage is well and truly over, and all Paula can do is throw herself into her training.

At the championship Paula is not on form because Mum is not there. Then Mum, surprisingly, shows up and sits beside Dad. Paula’s assumption that they have reconciled puts her back on form and she wins. But she is wrong; Mum just takes off afterwards. Mum is now feeling sorry for everything and realises how Paula has taken the brunt of their split. But her pesky pride still won’t let her make up with Dad, and she also stupidly assumes Dad and Paula are better off without her. Paula dashes out after Mum, which causes her to get hit by a car and she falls into a coma.

But not even this brings the parents together. At the hospital they visit Paula separately while neither succeeds in rousing Paula from the coma, and they cold-shoulder each other whenever their paths cross. Seeing how they never see their daughter together, the nurse tells them, very pointedly, that if they want their daughter to wake up they must go in together, because that is what she wants. Mum’s pride still gets in the way and she objects, but Dad tells her they must put aside their differences for Paula’s sake. They do so, and Paula responds to them both being there. Mum is so overjoyed she finally forgets her pride and says she wants to come back and live with them, which speeds up Paula’s recovery. When Paula is discharged she finds her parents are living together again, and they say she won’t be a ping-pong ball between them anymore. For Paula, having her parents together again is even more important than winning the championship.

Thoughts

They say pride is one of the seven deadly sins, so this must be one of the deadliest sin stories Jinty has ever produced. The misery the Pride family goes through is all because Mum is just too proud. That pride got badly bruised the day she visited Joan and got jealous. Joan was far higher up the social ladder and living far better than Mum was, and Mum wants to start climbing up there too.

Though the rest of the family are happy as they are, Dad feeds Mum’s pride by giving her what she wants, which turns out not to be in the family’s best interest. Mum just gets stroppy at Dad when he starts spending too much time working at the garage, although it’s all to pay for what she wanted in the first place. It’s her own fault, but she’s too proud to admit that. Instead she just walks out, although she is walking out on the very thing she wanted in the first place. So what was the point of it all?

Instead of climbing up the social ladder to join the ranks of Joan, Mum starts tumbling down, down even further than the council house that she found so inadequate after seeing Joan. And she’s dragging down Paula with her, not caring about Paula’s feelings or what she is going through because the split and being constantly shunted around. Mum is just too wrapped up in her pride for that. Her pride drives her to most despicable acts at times, such as refusing to see Dad when he falls ill, or trying to keep Paula away from him. She ruins Paula’s celebratory dinner when she throws a tantrum at what her high-class friends will think if they see Dad wearing garage boots with his dinner suit. Hmph, since when did she ever have any high-class friends? She never got far with social climbing while living in the posh house, and she has long since left the place and is resorting to cheaper and even substandard accommodation. Even when she finally begins to feel sorry for everything, her pride just won’t let her even attempt reconciliation. And in so doing she is letting her pride tear the family apart and destroy her marriage.

Dad proves to be the more caring and mature parent, in stark contrast to his wife who is behaving like a spoiled brat. For example, he tries to help Paula keep up her table tennis when Mum interferes with it. He is the more sympathetic of the two parents and the relatives are quite right to side with him. His wife is too wrapped up in herself to think about the extra demands she has put on him to get her what she wants, and they are making him suffer terribly. He is working far too hard and is under way too much stress, he falls sick because of it and can’t work, and ultimately his business fails. This is all just to get what his wife wants – and then she just turns her back on it. There’s gratitude for you. On top of that, he is deprived of Paula because of his wife and he is left with a house of loneliness that he is straining to pay the mortgage for.

At the hospital, the reactions of the parents to the nurse’s urging that they must go see Paula together best shows the vast difference between them and their attitudes. At first Mum flatly refuses to do what the nurse says because she’s just too proud to be in her estranged husband’s company, even though her daughter’s recovery depends on it. By contrast, Dad tells Mum to forget her pride and their quarrel because they must put Paula first.

And caught in the middle is poor ping-pong Paula. The title has a sadly appropriate double meaning: a girl who is both a table tennis player and a real-life ping-pong ball between divided parents. So many readers caught between separated or divorced parents or being split down the middle in custody battles would have really felt for Paula.

All the while Paula has to keep up her table tennis and strive to become a champion while her parents are splitting. At the urging from her coach, Paula has to learn to put her parent problems aside when she’s working on her table tennis. But Paula has her limits, such as when she’s in danger of losing the championship because she’s too upset over Mum not being there. She might have lost if Mum had not shown up at the last moment – only to take off again because of her pride.

As if the problem with her parents wasn’t bad enough, Paula also meets a jealous rival, Myra Glegg, who plays dirty tricks on her. Fortunately Myra doesn’t last too long, and all the other competitors are good sports.

The trouble over the parents even puts Paula in hospital – an all-too-common thing in girls’ comics. Ultimately it provides the resolution, though unlike most serials the shock of it all does not provide immediate resolution. The parents are still fighting and divided despite their unconscious, injured daughter and Mum realising Paula has taken the brunt over her split from her husband. It needs a wise outsider to step in and have a serious word with the parents before Paula’s accident can provide the resolution.