Tag Archives: Badgered Belinda

Story length through Jinty’s life

I have created a new page listing the stories in Jinty by publication date. This seemed like an interesting and useful addition to the list of stories in alphabetical order that has been in place on the blog since we started. As part of the information on that new page it seemed sensible to count the number of episodes for each story, too (where possible) – luckily for me, the Catawiki data that I was using to compile this information gave me the ability to include that for almost all stories. As I put together the list, I got the impression that in the last year of Jinty‘s publication, the story length was getting shorter and shorter: so I pulled together some stats on it.

For each year below, there are some stories I excluded from the statistics, either because I didn’t have a complete count of all the episodes (for instance where a story had started in Lindy or Penny before their merger with Jinty), or because they were by their nature long-running humour strips with no specific start or end point. I’ll give a list of the excluded stories and their running lengths further down this post.

  • For 1974, the mean story length is just under 16 episodes and the mode (most usual) story length is 13 episodes
  • For 1975, the mean is just under 18 episodes and the mode is 16 episodes
  • For 1976, the mean is just under 15 episodes and the mode is 19 episodes
  • For 1977, the mean is just over 14 episodes and the mode is 11
  • For 1978, the mean is just over 16 episodes and the mode is 18
  • For 1979, the mean is just over 14 episodes and the mode is 12
  • For 1980, the mean is 11.5 episodes and the mode is 12
  • For 1981, the mean is 11 episodes and the mode is 10

We can see that the two averages do go up and down over the run of Jinty. Having said that, the drop-off in episode length in 1980 and 1981 does look like a real change, despite that context of background variation. (I’m not going to do any full-on statistical analysis with standard deviations and so on though!) Both average figures are down in those two years, because there are fewer long stories pushing up the mean as well as a general trend to the slightly shorter length of 10 – 12 episodes.

Which stories did I exclude from the analytics, and why?

  • The humour strips with no specific story arc: “Dora Dogsbody” (94 episodes), “Do-it-Yourself Dot” (62 episodes), “The Jinx From St Jonah’s” (112 episodes), “The Snobs and the Scruffs” (12 episodes), “Desert Island Daisy” (9 episodes), “Bird-Girl Brenda” (27 episodes), “The Hostess with the Mostess” (19 episodes), “Bet Gets The Bird!” (11 episodes), “Alley Cat” (163 episodes), “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” (111 episodes), “Bizzie Bet and the Easies” (27 episodes), “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” (96 episodes).
  • “Merry at Misery House” (66 episodes) is not a humour strip but like those above, it has no specific overall story arc, no obvious beginning or end that is worked towards throughout its run. I have therefore excluded that too. The same goes for “Pam of Pond Hill” which ran to a mighty 126 episodes in Jinty and then on into Tammy of course.
  • The stories that I have incomplete episode information about: “Finleg the Fox”, “Penny Crayon”, “Hettie High-and-Mighty”, “Gypsy Rose” (these stories are not catalogued on Catawiki as a group), “Rinty n Jinty”, “Seulah the Seal”, “Tansy of Jubilee Street”, and “Snoopa”. Various of those would be excluded even if I had complete episode numbers, of course.
    • Edited to add: further information has been given in the comments below. “Finleg” and “Hettie” ran for 7 episodes in Lindy, and “Tansy” ran for 45 episodes in Penny. “Seulah” ran for 11 episodes in Penny, and then started a new story in Jinty & Penny, which I hadn’t really realised. The two Seulah stories were more like separate arcs in a bigger story than self-contained stories in themselves. Many thanks to Marc for this information! I will add them into the spreadsheet and see if it makes any difference to the years in question.
    • “Snoopa” ran for 45 episodes in Penny, which Mistyfan confirms below (many thanks). As a gag strip, this would not be included in the year-on-year statistics in any case.

Longest run of an individual story? “Alley Cat” has all the others beat, at 163 episodes; runners-up are “Pam of Pond Hill” at 126 episodes, and then “The Jinx From St Jonah’s” and “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” neck and neck at 112 and 111 episodes respectively. However, if you exclude these and look at the length of the ‘normal’ stories, then the top three are “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (36 episodes), “Fran of the Floods” (35 episodes), and “Always Together…” (29 episodes). (Phil Townsend does particularly well for long-running stories, as “Daddy’s Darling” clocks in at 24 episodes and “Song of the Fir Tree” at 22 episodes.)

At the other end of things are some short stories. There are only two single-episode stories: “Holly and the Ivy” and “Mimi Seeks a Mistress”. “Freda’s Fortune” is the only two episode story. “Mimi” was a reprinted story, printed towards the end of 1980; possibly “Holly” and “Freda” were intended for publication in annuals or summer specials and then used as filler.

There are a few 3 or 4 episode stories: “The Birds”, “The Changeling”, “Casey, Come Back!”, and “The Tale of the Panto Cat”. This is also an odd length for a story – long enough to allow for a bit of development, but short enough to feel a bit abruptly cut off when you get to the end. Of these four, I’d say that “The Birds” is the one I find uses its length most successfully, though “Panto” works pretty well as a seasonal short. The slightly-longer “Her Guardian Angel” (5 episodes) likewise uses its length reasonably well to give us a seasonal amusement.  Some other shorter stories, such as “Badgered Belinda” (7 episodes), do read like they have probably been cut down from an originally-intended standard length of 10 – 12 episodes.

The spreadsheet with this information is available on request – please comment and I will be happy to email it to you if you want.

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What makes a story work, pt 2?

Following on from my earlier post on how we can sensibly say that a story works (or doesn’t), I want to look at the elements that can add to, or detract from, how well a story works. These are elements that are mostly down to decisions made by the writer or the artist (or both), though editorial decisions can also be relevant. For each of the elements, therefore, I will consider what the balance of responsibilities tends to be, as well as discussing the nature of each of them.

  • Plot. What actually happens? How well tied-together are the events of the story, and how naturally or consistently do they flow from earlier ones? Is it a very run-of-the-mill plot or does it have innovative elements? Is the plot simple or convoluted, full of sidelines or straightforward? In particular, does the ending follow well from the main part of the action or does it undercut the earlier events, for instance through by use of a deus ex machina to wrap everything up neatly and too-quickly?
    • This lies mostly in the writer’s corner, though the editorial department may make suggestions.
    • Stronger: “Concrete Surfer” is a tightly-plotted story where everything that happens drives the action forwards to the skate-off between rivals and the subsequent denouement. Not a moment of action is wasted and it all hangs together.
    • Weaker: in “Fran of the Floods” lots of things happen, but in a quite meandering structure with sub-plots that you can get lost in. The later happenings are not very tightly tied into the earlier events, though there is a wrap-up at the end of the story. This is a danger for road-trip sort of stories.
  • Title. Is the title overly-explanatory or does it promise without revealing too much? Is it ho-hum or unusual?
    • As far as we know, coming up with the story’s title seems to have been part of the writer’s tasks. Sometimes it might have been changed by the editorial department either before publication or on reprint / translation.
    • Stronger: There are lots of really evocative story titles in Jinty. Examples like “Girl The World Forgot” or “Golden Dolly, Death Dust!” are suggestive without giving the whole game away.
    • Weaker: the formula girl’s name + descriptive reference was over-used in girls’ comics generally and feels hackneyed as a result. “Badgered Belinda”, “Angela Angel-Face”, “Diving Belle” are examples in Jinty, but looking at a single issue of Lindy the ratio of such titles seemed considerably higher so things could have been much worse!
  • Theme. Is the theme a well-trodden one such as the Slave or Cinderella themes? Is it an intrinsically unlikely one such as the Exploited Amnesiac? In either case it probably needs something extra to make it stand out.
    • Again as far as we know the story theme was mostly under the control of the writer, though the editorial office would, according to Pat Mills, aim to have specific themes represented such as the two mentioned above. Some writers would focus preferentially on certain themes, so we know that Alison Christie wrote a number of heart-tugging stories with Runaways or Guilt Complexes. The art style (discussed in the next post) was probably chosen to match the theme as far as possible, though of course it is entirely possible that the availability of an artist was used to inspire a writer on occasion.
    • Stronger: I wouldn’t say it is that clear that one theme is stronger than another but there is a lot of personal preference that will govern whether a story works for an individual reader or not.
    • Weaker: as mentioned above, some themes such as the Exploited Amnesiac are so intrinsically unlikely and indeed rather melodramatic and silly that it means that the story is battling against something of a headwind.
  • Pacing. Girls (and boys) comics of this era typically feature fast-paced stories, with cliff-hangers at the end of each episode. The conventions of this sort of story are rather different from Japanese manga, where the action tends to take place over a far greater number of pages. If a story is compressed more than usual for this genre it would feel confusing, or if it was too slow-paced likewise it could throw readers off.
    • This lies solidly in the remit of the writer, though the page layout and composition could have some effect too.
    • Stronger: “Concrete Surfer” has some of the best pacing I can immediately think of: it builds evenly and the momentum never stops. Every panel and page builds on the last.
    • Weaker: the pacing on “Freda’s Fortune” makes it an odd read, with much of the plot line of a normal horse & rival story compressed into two 6-page episodes.
  • Tone. Is the story light and frothy, silly, adventurous, realistic, tear-jerking, hard, gritty, subversive, or even sadistic? The dialogue is a big part of what sets the tone so I am including it in this element, though others might prefer to separate it out.
    • The style set by the comic overall is very linked to the tone of the individual stories inside; whether this is mostly to do with editorial choices as to which stories to publish or writers to commission, clearly the editorial focus has a part to play. Pat Mills reckons that there is a big divide between working class comics (Tammy, Misty, Jinty, Pink, and most of Bunty) and middle-class, ‘safe’ comics, and that this divide was purposeful, to try to move past the ‘old hat’ style of the past. The individual writer is the prime mover of the tone of the story but the artist also has an important role to play as the writing and art must of course match. Additionally, the artist is in a position to add a lot of background detail in their art, to really bring things to life (John Armstrong draws graffiti in the background of “Moonchild”, and Jim Baikie draws details from the London Underground of the 70s or earlier in his recreation of the futuristic world of “The Forbidden Garden”.)
    • Stronger: Of course one tone is not in itself ‘better’ than another, but some are more unusual or more consistently applied throughout. “Knight and Day” is the epitome of a gritty and realistic story of physical and emotional abuse within a family, played seriously and with enough emotional effect to convince the reader.
    • Weaker: In the link above, Pat Mills says that light and frothy stories are ‘safe’ and boring to the reader. This is arguable, but certainly a light and frothy story such as “The Perfect Princess” is by its nature one that is easier to dismiss the more emotional or tear-jerking tales. Perhaps more fatal to a story is a sudden shift in tone, such as Lorrbot mentions having happened in “Balloon of Doom” in her comment on the last post.
  • Resonance. I’m stretching a bit things here in using this term in this way. What I mean is whether the story has a certain mythic resonance, a re-use (in a purposeful way) of cultural material. Mermaids, spinning wheels, magic mirrors, wicked and cruel women: these all have resonance as they have been used in countless stories to tell us how to behave or what to be careful of. Re-use of a current successful story from a different medium also gives the comics narrative a chance to grab some resonance from elsewhere.
    • I am assuming this is mostly in the care of the writer, though of course the artist will be able to add in many visual elements that will strengthen the references.
    • Stronger: “Who’s That In My Mirror?” combines ideas of vanity, moral peril, and the idea that a mirror can hold a reflection of a kind of truth. It has echoes of “The Picture of Dorian Grey” and of the Andersen tale “The Shadow” – and its denouement is as spooky as anything in comics.
    • Weaker: There are so damned many stories of haunted mirrors that it’s very easy for the shine to wear off! For me, “The Venetian Looking-Glass” was just another one of many: the element of resonance had become repetition.
  • Audacity. This is sort of the flip side of Resonance, and again I am stretching things a bit in using this term in this way. By this I mean the ‘WTF’ element where you can’t quite believe that anyone dared to put that on the page! It is the element of surprise and of novelty, but it is quite a delicate balancing act.
    • The written story bears a lot of the responsibility for this element but the art is key in making sure that the reader’s suspension of disbelief doesn’t flag. The editorial and publishing teams are the ones who would be on the bosses’ carpet if it all goes horribly wrong (as it did for boys’ comic Action after questions were asked in parliament), so they are part of the mix too.
    • Stronger: “Worlds Apart” is one of the most audacious stories in girls’ comics, with each protagonist having to die in grotesque and excessive ways in order for them to progress to the next scenario. “Children of Edenford” is also outrageous but a bit more quietly so as it criticises the shibboleth of social mobility ahead of the tide of Thatcherism and yuppiedom to come.
    • Weaker: When audacity tips the scales of suspension of disbelief, the wheels come off. For me, the cruelties at the end of “Slave of the Swan” and “The Slave of Form 3B” push it a step too far.

To follow in the next post, discussions on:

  • Art quality
  • Art style
  • Character design
  • Page layout / composition
  • Art incidental details
  • Design / font / lettering
  • Format / edition

Jinty 14 November 1981

Jinty cover 8.jpg

(cover artist: Mario Capaldi)

This is the penultimate issue of Jinty. The cover features a nice autumn scene from Mario Capaldi. The covers of the last six Jintys were an odd mix of Mario Capaldi. They were either blow-ups of the spot panel for the text story inside or they were just general covers, such as this one. The spot panel for the text story inside was handled by another artist.

So how did the penultimate issue set things up for Jinty‘s finale the following week? We start with a new Pam story. Mr Gold (Goldilocks) tells the school that government cutbacks mean the school will not be repainted that year, and it could sure do with it. Following a fast bit of spraypaint work to cover up some vandalism from the boys, Pam has the idea of organising volunteers out of parents and classmates to do the painting. The trouble is, she forgot to consult Goldilocks! The final issue will explain how this will be sorted out and how the redecorating goes.

Belinda realises someone in the school is helping the squire with whatever he is up to on the slope. She barely has time to ponder who it is before we are told that the next episode will explain, because it is the final one. However, Belinda thinks her two main problems have been solved in this episode. The two girls who were bullying her have been caught out and punished, and it looks like the squire is after buried treasure, so the badgers must be safe. But is she right or is there something she does not know about? We find out in the final issue.

The Bow Street Runner comes down with flu, which turns into pneumonia because she foolishly goes on the cross country run in that state – and then collapses in a stream, of all places! But she just has to believe in that wretched prophecy and thinks she has to beat it. In fact, she just keeps on rambling about it while she is delirious with fever. Beth pulls through the pneumonia but now comes down with deep depression. So deep that she does not even care about the prophecy(!). Beth’s nasty rival Louise does not do well in the run either. She is riding high in the lead and then takes a fall – into a bed of nettles!

It is business as usual for Gaye and Tansy. But we are told that “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” will end next week, with Gaye trying to lose her beloved ghost. Now what can that mean? There is a double helping of Gypsy Rose stories, both of which concern mythical creatures. We met the leprechaun-like people underneath the Earth in “The Lost World” and dryads in “The Spirits of the Trees”.

In the story of Saturday’s Child, Betty Marshall is indeed a hard working girl and loves it. She works hard at a her father’s café, but there is pressure on her to become an air hostess. She takes a holiday and comes back with a whole new appreciation of the work she does. In fact, that was the very reason why she took the holiday, and now she is very happy to stay in the café, thank you very much.

Badgered Belinda (1981)

Sample images

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Publication: 10 October 1981 – 21 November 1981

Artist: Phil Gascoine

Writer: Unknown

Summary

Orphan Belinda Gibson is a trust-paid pupil at Brockhill Boarding School. She is badgered (bullied) by the other girls, especially Frances and Katie. We get the impression Belinda is a target of bullying because she is shy and has no pedigree or friends. The bullying makes Belinda so miserable that one night she decides to run away.

Belinda is making her way up a slope when she comes across a badger, which soon dies. Belinda suspects it was poisoned. Then Belinda finds the badger’s new-born litter. One of them is pure white and she soon calls him Whitey. She lingers to feed them, but unwittingly caves in the tunnel, leaving them vulnerable to predators. So she ends up a surrogate mother to the sett, guarding them all night. This upsets her plans for running away. Eventually she decides to quietly return to the school so she can continue to secretly look after the sett, and voluntarily endure the bullying for the sake of her badgers.

Upon Belinda’s quiet return, Frances and Katie bully her again. But the bullying backfires when one ruins her silk gown and the other her tennis racquet. Later, Belinda uses the items to help the badgers, and has a good feeling at how her wonderful secret is helping her confidence. Back at school she starts swotting up on badgers. Frances and Katie notice Belinda’s apparent early rising for this and get suspicious. But in fact Belinda has been sneaking out at night for the badgers and loss of sleep starts showing in her lessons and getting her into trouble.

Belinda begins to feel that she should inform the headmistress about the sett. But then, Squire Blackmore, who owns the land next to the school, speaks at assembly. The squire announces that he will be lending his stables and horses to the school for riding lessons. He is also a big fan of hunting and endorses it to get rid of vermin. Fearful that badgers will be classed as vermin, Belinda decides to say nothing about the sett.

The girls have a free afternoon. The others use it for the riding lessons while Belinda goes into town to buy supplies for the cubs. But Whitey follows, and the bus with the girls on it is coming. Belinda hides Whitey in her bag, but his scent causes problems with other animals when she arrives in town. Belinda then bumps into Miss Green the biology teacher and discovers that she has been buying poison for vermin traps. Remembering the fate of the mother badger, Belinda gets even more scared. Back at school, she finds the squire has gifted prints of hunting scenes to the school and they are proudly displayed on the wall. Belinda is revolted to see that one print shows badger digging.

The secret tending of the badgers continues. But Belinda still suffers from lack of sleep and this causes problems, including more bullying from Frances and Katie who set out to disrupt Belinda’s attempts to catch up. There are other close shaves that almost expose Belinda’s secret as well, including the bullies poking around. And the squire seems to be going out of his way to become a fixture at the school, with constant visits, his prints and offers of free riding lessons. Belinda is now forced to go on one. She can’t ride, so she is relegated to mucking out. But then a pack of the squire’s hunting dogs gets loose and Belinda fears for her badgers. She manages to draw the dogs off with some aniseed balls until the squire’s hunting horn calls them off. But when she attends to the badgers that night, there is a man about with a spade, and he looks suspiciously like the squire. And there is evidence he was digging for something. Belinda begins to suspect the squire let the dogs loose on purpose and wonders if there is another secret about.

At the squire’s stables the next day, Belinda overhears the squire on the phone. It was indeed him she saw last night, and he knows there was a schoolgirl out there. He then says “I’ll leave the problem to you to deal with.” And when Belinda prepares to leave the dorm that night, someone comes in. She manages to evade the intruder but cannot see who it is. Later, she suspects it was one of the staff and now feels she cannot turn to anybody because there is nobody she can trust.

When Belinda goes to the sett again, she finds the squire and another man digging and frightens them off with her torch. Next day, the squire announces he will be holding a ball the following night to celebrate 200 years of hunting and the school is invited. However, a day history trip has Belinda drawing the conclusion that the squire is digging for buried treasure, which means the badgers must be safe.

Meanwhile, the teachers begin to notice the bullying. Frances and Katie are eventually caught red-handed and are punished with detention instead of going to the ball. Belinda tries to sneak away from the ball with food for the badgers, but gets caught by a teacher, Miss Harper. She is forced to explain everything to Miss Harper and show her the sett.

Miss Harper then tells Belinda something that only she knows about. Many years ago a rich lady took an interest in the sett. When the school fell into debt in 1881, she gave a grant that still keeps the school solvent, but on condition that the sett remains unharmed. And now that Belinda has shown her where the sett is, the squire can get rid of them once and for all. So Miss Harper is the squire’s accomplice! The whole plot has been to find and destroy the sett so the grant will end and the school forced to sell. The squire will then buy the grounds for development. And at this very moment the squire and his men are setting about badger digging on the slope. That badger-digging print had been a clue, but Belinda missed it entirely!

Belinda tries to escape Miss Harper, and is ironically saved by Katie and Frances. They like badgers too and are repulsed at the badger-hunt, and at Miss Harper for calling badgers vermin to be got rid of. They lock Miss Harper in a store room. Once Belinda tells them the story, they set off to rescue the badgers. On the slope, a race begins between the squire and the girls to get to the sett.

Evidently the squire was so confident of victory that he did not linger to see the outcome. He goes back to the ball and brags to his guests that their school is closing and it is their fault for not knowing about their school history (he may have a point there). But the grin is wiped off his face when the girls come into the hall with the badgers. They got to the badgers first!

It is the squire who is forced to sell out while Miss Harper resigns. Belinda is now best friends with Katie and Frances. There is only one type of badgering for her now, and it is out there on the slope. The whole school is now devoted to looking after the badgers.

Thoughts

“Badgered Belinda” was one of the filler stories for the last seven issues of Jinty. It has four page spreads throughout its run rather than the usual three. It is very unusual for a Jinty serial to have four-pagers for the entire duration of its run; usually four-pagers appear when a story is winding down, but there is pressure to finish it quickly. This happened with “Worlds Apart” and “The Human Zoo”. But Belinda was a four pager from start to finish. What could be the reason? Was it to pack as much story as possible into the seven episodes that the story was allowed? Or was it so that Belinda would help fill out the last seven issues more?

In any case, Belinda was the last Jinty story drawn by Phil Gascoine, and it literally bookends Gascoine’s run in Jinty; his artwork appeared in the first issue with “Gail’s Indian Necklace” and in the final issue with Belinda. In between, Gascoine’s artwork has been continuous in Jinty. There were very few instances where his artwork did not appear and several where it appeared in two stories in the same issue.

Story wise, Belinda is not one of Jinty’s classics, but she can be regarded as one of the stronger filler serials to appear in the final issues of Jinty. Belinda may even be the best serial in the line up that Jinty selected for her last seven issues.

Bullying stories are always guaranteed to be popular, and this one takes the twist in which the victim decides to endure the bullying, for the sake of the badgers, rather than trying to free herself from it as most victims in bully stories do (a la “Tears of a Clown”). The bullying is serious; we see Belinda shoved around on the sports field, constantly being pushed out of bed as her wake-up call and being forced under a cold shower among other nasty incidents. It is ironic that Belinda’s secret mission to take care of the badgers and keep them safe from the hunters helps her with confidence that she did not know she had. For example, desperation for the aniseed balls to draw off the hounds has her barrelling her way to the counter to buy them. This takes the girls by surprise as they always considered her “a weed” (although this does not stop them from punishing her with the cold shower).

Animals (especially orphaned animals) are always a hit as well, and Jinty makes a very strong stance against hunting. Girls’ comics have always come out strong against blood sports. But it is unusual to use badgers for this; foxes and deer are more commonly used when girls’ comics commented on the issue. The hunting has a very insidious side to it as well as a cruel one; when the squire has his hunting prints plastered on the school walls, offers the girls free riding lessons and invites them to his ball to celebrate hunting, it’s almost as if he is indoctrinating them into the sport. Belinda alone seems to stand against it. So it is a surprise when it turns out that the bullies take such a strong stance against the badger hunt that they lock the teacher in the store-room and join forces with Belinda. Mind you, how many pupils would really dare to lock up a teacher? That would be an expelling matter, wouldn’t it? Fortunately for them, it was justified. And the bullying problem reaches its final resolution. It goes from punishment, with the bullies being caught out in the penultimate episode, to redemption in the final episode.

Girls love mystery stories too. So as the mystery element creeps its way into the story with the introduction of the squire and his strange generosity, and then the strange goings-on on the slope, it would certainly have jacked up the drama and thrills and kept the readers engaged. It is a bit jarring that it turns out to be Miss Harper, though, because there have been no hints beforehand to suggest it might be her. In fact, she hadn’t even been named until then. Perhaps there was not enough scope in the seven episodes the story was allowed for sufficient clues and red herrings to be dropped for the readers to ponder on in solving the mystery.

Lastly, there is an environmental element in this story too. Jinty had been strong on environmental stories such as “The Forbidden Garden” and “Fran of the Floods”. We see it again in Belinda, with the indiscriminate use of poisons that are meant to kill pests but can also kill innocent wildlife. This is how the mother badger dies. If Belinda had not been there, the cubs would have died too. A whole family of badgers killed through the thoughtless of humanity. But the badgers are saved by a kind girl who not only finds courage and confidence in the face of bullying but ends up saving her school and finding friends at last.

 

 

 

Jinty 7 November 1981

Jinty cover 7.jpg

(Cover artist: Mario Capaldi)

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Sable Knight – Gypsy Rose story (artist Keith Robson)
  • Treasure Trove – text story
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Friday’s Child is Loving and Giving….
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Badgered Belinda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • The Bow Street Runner (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Alley Cat

This was Jinty’s last Guy Fawkes issue, and there were only two more issues before the merger. Jinty‘s drop in energy seems to be falling even more with this issue, because the Guy Fawkes celebrations are even more lacklustre than those for Halloween in the previous issue. Only the cover features Guy Fawkes. The text story inside is on a completely different topic – a treasure trove – and the spot artist is not even Mario Capaldi. All the regulars are on business as usual and none of them are even thinking of fireworks and bonfire parties.

The back cover is a surprise, though. Alley Cat, who had not been seen in Jinty for several years, suddenly makes an appearance. There is no sign of Snoopa, and Snoopa artist Joe Collins draws a spot feature of some jokes in this issue. Was Collins not available this issue and the editor had to find fill-ins for the gag spots?

Jinty 31 October 1981

Jinty cover 6.jpg 001

(Cover artist: Mario Capaldi)

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Marble Heart – Gypsy Rose story (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Thursday’s Child Has Far to Go….
  • Hallowe’en Magic (text story)
  • Badgered Belinda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)
  • The Bow Street Runner (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

This was Jinty’s last Halloween issue. As you see, the cover is a lead-in to the digital watch offer inside. The cover and the text story are the only things honouring Halloween. None of the regulars – Tansy, Snoopa, Gypsy Rose or even the resident ghost, Sir Roger, do anything to commemorate. It is business as usual. Perhaps the upcoming merger was the reason for the lack of Halloween spirit in the issue. The last seven issues of Jinty definitely feel like there was a drop in energy.

 

Jinty 10 October 1981

Jinty cover 5.jpg 001 (Cover artist: Phil Gascoine)

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Robber Bird – Gypsy Rose Story (artist Isidro Mones)
  • Eyes of the Blind – text story
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Monday’s Child is Full of Grace (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)
  • Badgered Belinda – first episode (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • The Bow Street Runner – first episode (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

This issue is significant to Jinty history in that it is the first issue to feature the completely new Jinty logo that will carry on in the merger with Tammy. It also begins the lineup of fillers and serials that can be construed as a seven-issue countdown to the merger, where stories will either be wound up or given their springboards into the merger, while the fillers mark time until the final issue.

“Pam of Pond Hill” returns, and features a new girl, Tess Bradshaw, who proves a problem pupil for the class. She is a bossy, domineering girl who orders everyone about and is not the sort of person you can say no to. But when little Sue Bryant returns to class, the trouble really starts. Tess starts bullying Sue because of her size, and of course the bullying will have serious consequences.

Bullying is also a big feature in the new story, “Badgered Belinda”. Belinda Gibson is in the process of running away from her boarding school because she is being bullied by her classmates. But then she comes across a set of orphaned badgers and wonders if she should stay on to look after them. There is something unusual in Gascoine’s artwork; the linework seems quite heavy, and the drawing feels a bit coarse. It is a stark contrast to the more refined, cleaner touch that you see in Gascoine’s artwork for “Monday’s Child”. Is this part of the five-year gap between the stories? Or is there some other reason for the differences in Gascoine’s artwork? Whatever the reason, Belinda is a filler that covers the last seven issues of Jinty and bookends Gascoine’s run in Jinty, from the first issue with “Gail’s Indian Necklace” to the last issue with “Badgered Belinda”.

Mario Capaldi takes a break with this issue. The spot feature in the text story is drawn by another artist and Gascoine draws the cover, which features “Badgered Belinda”. In a break with the usual pattern, it is not an enlargement of a panel from the story but a piece of artwork in its own right.

The Gypsy Rose story is also unusual in that it seems to feature completely new material in “The Robber Bird” while most of her 1981 stories were reprint. I can find no evidence that this is a repeat of an old Gypsy Rose story. Nor is it recycling a Strange Story, because Gypsy Rose is definitely drawn by the same artist and not a paste-up. The artist for the story, Isidres Mones, is unusual too, as he is not one you usually see here. Mones was a regular artist in Misty. He/she drew “House of Horror” and many complete stories such as “The Final Piece” and one of Misty’s best-remembered stories, “The Purple Emperor”, about an unpleasant girl girl who collects butterflies and ends up as a specimen herself. But “The Robber Bird” was the only story he drew for Jinty. For these reasons I have decided to present “The Robber Bird” below.

The issue begins the last Phil Townsend story for Jinty, “The Bow Street Runner“. This story will carry over into the merger and become Townsend’s transition from Jinty to Tammy.

Robber Bird 1.jpg (click thru) Robber Bird 2.jpg (click thru) Robber Bird 3.jpg (click thru)

Jinty 3 October 1981

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Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

  • Freda’s Fortune – last episode (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Jenny’s Journal – text story (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • The Wish on Devil Rock! – Gypsy Rose story (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Holiday Hideaway – last episode (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Worlds Apart – last episode (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)

This issue is significant to Jinty history for several reasons. First, it is the last issue to have the Jinty logo that she has borne, with some minor tweaking, since her first issue. The next issue will feature a completely new logo that will carry over into the merger with Tammy.

Second, you can feel the effects of the upcoming merger in the lineup of this ssue. “Worlds Apart” and “Holiday Hideaway” are concluded in order to make way for a seven-issue lineup of fillers that feel like a countdown to the merger. You can feel it in the conclusion of “Worlds Apart”, which has all the hallmarks of a rushed and pressured ending to finish the story quickly. This was the last story Guy Peeters drew for Jinty. And Peeters was not the only artist to be drawing his or her last story for Jinty in this and upcoming issues.

Third, the issue introduces us to the lineup that will start in the next issue, which are not just stories. They are the lineup of fillers for the final issues of Jinty and the stories that will continue in the merger. This issue sees off one filler already, “Freda’s Fortune”. This was the last Trini Tinturé serial in Jinty, and it is a rather sad farewell in that this story only lasted two episodes. Or maybe not so sad, because the two episodes are six pagers. Was Freda meant to be longer but was instead finished quickly with extra pages? Laying on extra pages is often a sign that the team was under pressure to finish a story fast and get it out of the way to make way for big changes or lineups. Or were the extra pages intended so that Freda would fill more of the issue?

This week’s Gypsy Rose story also features Tinturé artwork, even if it is a repeat. It is a cautionary tale that seems to bear out the New Age adage that when you wish for something, you must ask that it serve the highest good of all. Sheila Drake is sick of being poor and wishes to be rich. But she asks for it while she is in a surly mood and upon a formation called The Devil Rock. So it is not surprising that the wish is granted, but it brings only misery.

The fillers and serials to commence in the next issue are “Badgered Belinda”, the last story Phil Gascoine drew for Jinty,The Bow Street Runner“, the Phil Townsend/Alison Christie story that will continue in the merger, and a repeat of the seven issue serial based on the rhyme “Monday’s Child, Tuesday’s Child etc”. But the most significant entry in the lineup has to be the return of “Pam of Pond Hill”. Pam had ended some issues earlier, with an open invitation to readers to say if they wanted her back. This was the second such appeal to succeed in Jinty; the first had been “Fran’ll Fix It!” But one suspects the merger was also a factor in Pam’s return; perhaps the editor felt Pam was the strongest Jinty feature to carry on in the merger. And indeed she was.

And we are also told that next issue and the one following will give away packets of World of Survival stickers. Jinty‘s farewell gift to her readers?

Final Jinty 21 November 1981

On 21 November 1981 the final Jinty was published.

Inside: Exciting News For All Girls Who LIke A Good Read!

Whether Jinty readers would really have been thrilled or excited by the news might well have been another matter. The Tammy & Jinty merger published two letters from former Jinty readers who weren’t.

The last seven issues could be considered a countdown to the merger, with a reprint of the seven-part series on Monday’s Child is Fair of Face, Tuesday’s Child is Full of Grace etc, short filler stories and Gaye’s attempts to farewell Sir Roger end in disappointment because he failed to pass the test to the House of Ghosts. She does not realise he deliberately failed his test because he thought she would miss him too much. But in the last issue, Gaye finds out what Sir Roger did and, when she wangles him another another tryout, she makes sure he passes. Only one long serial, The Bow Street Runner, began, and would conclude in the Tammy & Jinty merger.

Two stories, Worlds Apart and (probably) Dracula’s Daughter, suffered rushed endings, evidently to clear the decks for the seven-issue countdown. Worlds Apart was the greater casualty of this; the final of the six dream worlds it explored was clearly cut too short. That world was only allowed one and a half episodes while the others had four or five. The result was an unsatisfactory exploration of the final world in the name of a rushed conclusion. Dracula’s Daughter gives the impression it may have been cut a bit short as well, but fortunately not so drastically that you would notice too much.

We also have two bookends in this issue. The first is Phil Gascoine, the only artist whose work lasted from the first issue (Gail’s Indian Necklace) to the final one (Badgered Belinda). The second is Tansy of Jubilee Street, who reminisces on her very first story in the very first issue of Penny (which merged with Jinty),  where she loses her diary and gets into all sorts of scrapes trying to find it. In the final Jinty, Tansy finds her diary has disappeared again. We get flashbacks of what happened the first time, and watch Tansy as she gets into new scrapes in her search for it, and horrible thoughts of what people will find out if they should read it. Much to her relief, Tansy finds her mother just put the diary away for safekeeping.

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(Cover artist: Mario Capaldi)

  • Pam of Pond Hill – continues in merger (artist Bob Harvey)
  • The Magic Tambourine: Gypsy Rose story – Gypsy Rose continues in merger (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street – ends, but returns in the Old Friends slot in merger – (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Sunday’s Child (end of series)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost – ends (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • A Window on the Past – Gypsy Rose story (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
  • Badgered Belinda – ends (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Fancy Meeting You! (text story)
  • The Bow Street Runner – continues in merger (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

[Edited by Comixminx: I thought readers might also be interested to see the double-page advert that ran in this final issue for the merged title.]

Phil Gascoine

It’s quite fitting that the first artist to be written about on this blog should be Phil Gascoine, who was in Jinty from the first issue (with Gail’s Indian Necklace) to the last one (with Badgered Belinda). His art is distinctive in any case but identification of him as the artist of these stories is indisputable, because he often signed his work with large, looping letters, as is the case in this page from ‘No Cheers for Cherry’.

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Phil was a great all-rounder in story terms; very good at drawing pretty (but realistic) teenage girls, as above, but also well able to do sports stories, science fiction, and spooky magic that verged into horror.

List of Jinty stories attributable to Phil Gascoine:

List of Tammy stories credited to Phil Gascoine after the Tammy & Jinty merger:

  • Nanny Young (1982-1983)
  • Backhand Play (1983)
  • Into the First at Trebizon (1983-1984)
  • Raining Cats and Dogs (complete story 10 March 1984)
  • I’m Her – She’s Me! (1984). Unfinished due to Tammy’s disappearance from a strike

Princess II stories attributed to Phil Gascoine:

  • The Secret Swimmer (1984)