Becky Never Saw the Ball – artist John Armstrong, writer Joe Collins
Wee Sue – artist John Richardson
Nell Nobody – artist Miguel Quesada
A Dog’s Best Friend (Strange Story) – artist Jim Eldrige
Dirty Trix – artist unknown
Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie (final episode) – artist Robert MacGillivray
Secret Ballet of the Steppes – artist Douglas Perry, writer Gerry Finley-Day?
No Tears for Molly – artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon
Town Without Telly – artist José Casanovas
It’s Guy Fawkes season, so we bring out the first Tammy Cover Girls cover with a Fifth of November theme. Oh dear, looks like a mishap struck the younger Cover Girl this time; usually it’s the older one. Hopefully they will come up with a brainwave to cover those ruined fireworks.
Bessie does not appear this week. Wee Sue could be out celebrating Bonfire Night, but she’s out playing soccer and rugby instead. This keeps striking trouble with Miss Bigger, who is looking for a missing consignment of school blazers.
It’s the final episode of Uncle Meanie – for now, anyway. At long last, he finishes off a world cruise that he’s constantly bedevilled with his penny-pinching tricks. The poor captain of that cruise ship will never be the same again. Home sweet home, all bracing for the return of Uncle Meanie to Tammy later on.
Many readers kept writing in demanding why the heck Molly doesn’t strike back at that bully butler Pickering. They must have cheered when her double, come to Stanton Hall in her place, finally does the job this week. Pickering is left utterly floored – literally.
This week’s Strange Story is drawn by what looks like a very early Jim Eldridge. So could it be an early Strange Story reprinted from June? Enough time has passed for such reprints to start appearing in Tammy. The story is about the ability of dogs to sense things people can’t.
Dirty Trix senses her cheating at athletics has finally been detected, and eavesdropping on the club coach Miss Wood confirms her fears. “I ain’t finished yet, not by a long chalk!” is her response. Don’t be so sure about that, Trix – the blurb for next week says the evidence against you is going to stack up.
Nell Nobody shows she’s a real trouper by proving this week that when disaster strikes, she can think on her feet and come up with ways to deal with the situation. She figures a way around her horrible uncle smashing the legs of her puppet by incorporating the puppet’s disability into a new act. She also creates a companion puppet (Lola) for him despite the gruelling demands of the hot dog stand she’s forced to slog at to pay for her spoiled cousin’s acting fees. Now an important-looking lady has lined up for the show Nell’s secretly using the hot dog stand for. Is Nell about to get her big break?
“Secret Ballet of the Steppes” is reaching its climax. Judith manages to get back to the palace, braving wolves, suspicious-looking men who try to drug her, and snowstorms to do so, to avert the upcoming attack against the revolutionaries. Then she discovers there’s more to it than that when she overhears the villainous Berova planning something sneaky.
Joy and Recepta’s plan to cure Boxless town of TV addiction is to bore viewers stiff with long-winded broadcasts featuring Lady Boxless. So far the results look good – Lady Boxless already has someone throwing a loafer at the screen.
Elspeth was forcibly separated from Becky after being wrongly accused of driving her too hard at tennis. Becky ran away in search of Elspeth and now she’s at a tennis match promoting ice cream in the hopes of finding her. Sure enough, Elspeth, who runs an ice cream truck, is now arriving at the same event. Will they reunite?
Nell Nobody (first episode) – artist Miguel Quesada
Wee Sue – artist John Richardson
Unscheduled Stop (Strange Story) – artist John Armstrong
Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie – artist Robert MacGillivray
No Tears for Molly – artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon
Town Without Telly – artist José Casanovas
Autumn covers are also good to profile in Halloween month, and I just dug this one out from 1974.
The issue begins another Cinderella story, “Nell Nobody”. Nell must have been popular, as her run (18 episodes) was even longer than the first Bella Barlow story (12 episodes). Nell Ewart is badly treated by her aunt and uncle (confusingly, they are actually her step-parents), who only have eyes for her spoiled stepsister/cousin Rosie. They yank Nell out of school to slog at a hot dog stand to pay for Rosie’s acting fees, which dashes her hopes of pursuing drama and stagecraft at school when she’s just discovered her talent for it. At least she still has her puppet Willoughby, and we know things will somehow start from there. And could Nell’s uncle have unwittingly helped her by establishing the hot dog stand across from the TV studio and theatre?
Imagine putting Coppelia together in three days! That’s the task facing our slave dancers of the Steppes from the slave-driving Berova. Incredibly, they pull it off, but Judith collapses from the strain. Princess Petra allows them to take a sleigh ride over the Steppes for a break, but Judith smells something fishy about their drivers.
Recepta, once a TV addict herself, is now trying to stop her father from turning the town of Boxless into a town full of TV addicts. It’s a battle of wills between them now, with Dad going as far as to bind and gag Recepta and force her to watch television.
Miss Bigger feels confident she’s put Sue in her place this time after lumbering her with the awful task of pumping the organ for choir practice. Little does she know Sue’s had one of her brainwaves to get out of it.
Bessie Bunter is off like a shot when Miss Stackpole says there’ll be refreshments at St. Prim’s School – without stopping to hear there’ll be a hockey match there first. And to her chagrin, she’s lumbered as goalie. She tries to wriggle out of it and to the grub, but it backfires so badly on her that she gets tangled in the goal net and unable to get to the refreshments before the others finish them. Poor Bessie.
In the Strange Story, “Unscheduled Stop”, Jenny Shaw is reaching breaking point because her parents are always arguing. Then the train they’re on makes an unscheduled stop – back in time – which shows Jenny the younger versions of her parents and what started the trouble between them.
The Stanton Hall staff, egged on by the militant Miss Byrdy, have gone on strike to get rid of Pickering. But it’s gone too far and Miss Byrdy is arrested. The strike collapses without her, but Lord Stanton sees the point of it after catching Pickering taking a horrible revenge on the staff, and orders him to apologise. No dismissal for him though, or any real improvement in how he treats the staff. At least the staff get raises out of it, and Miss Byrdy is soon released, all charges dropped.
Uncle Meanie’s round-the-trip cruise lands the family in California and at the doorstep of another McScrimp relative, Tex McScrimp. And from the looks of the signs and barbed wire fences he has put up, he is every bit as mean, unwelcoming, and eccentric about it as Uncle Angus. The miser gene definitely runs right through the McScrimp family; Jeannie’s generation is the only one known to have skipped it.
Becky Bates is making a comeback as a tennis player after losing her sight. But keeping her blindness a secret is causing problems. This time it’s having another accident and collapsing because of it, and her coach/Aunt Elspeth is accused of driving her too hard.
We continue our Halloween theme with the 1974 Tammy Halloween issue. This is the first time the Tammy Cover Girls appear in a Halloween cover, and it’s a very nice cover. However, it also shows the inconsistency in depicting the age of the younger Cover Girl during this period. On this cover she’s a kid sister, but on the next cover she’s definitely a young teen, about twelve or so.
The Cover Girls are the only ones commemorating Halloween. There isn’t even so much as a Halloween craft feature inside. Bessie and Wee Sue could also have emphasised the theme further with a Halloween-themed story, which they both did in later years. Instead, it’s business as usual. In the former, Miss Stackpole follows a suggestion to make Bessie a prefect to improve her conduct. But Miss Stackpole soon finds out it was bad advice – and Bessie finds out that even she can gorge herself sick! In the latter, Miss Bigger goes to such extremes in sugar hoarding during a sugar shortage that her larder is almost busting from it. But, as usual, she has reckoned without Sue. The Storyteller could have also done something with Halloween, but instead he tells a comeuppance story about a girl who is always playing truant.
John Armstrong is now drawing “Becky Never Saw the Ball”, a story Pat Mills considers “rather silly and far-fetched”. Still, a lot of other girls’ stories could be considered that, and I could name a few stories that were far more silly and far-fetched than this one. Maybe one of these days we will do an entry on this story and you can decide for yourselves. Becky Bates is making a comeback as a tennis player after losing her sight. Added to that, she’s made a bad enemy out of Brenda Morris, even more so after she trounces Brenda this week.
“Nell Nobody” is one of Tammy’s longest-running Cinderella stories (18 episodes!). Nell Ewart is yanked out of school and forced to slog at her uncle’s hot dog stand to pay for his spoiled daughter Rosie’s acting lessons. Nell is secretly pursuing performing ambitions of her own with puppets and turning the hot dog stand itself into a puppet theatre. But now her rotten Uncle Vic has smashed her puppet and she has no money for repairs. Unless she can think of something, her show is busted.
Molly discovers she has a double, Lady Alice Dornby. Lady Alice and Molly agree to swap roles, and Lady Alice even goes to Stanton Hall in Molly’s place at Stanton Hall when Molly has an accident. Oh dear, Molly realises that even though Lady Alice has been warned about Pickering the bully butler, she is going to get one heck of a shock when she meets him!
“Dirty Trix” Harris has turned to cheating at athletics after being cheated herself, and the results are proving profitable for her so far. But now the coach, Miss Wood, is getting suspicious – even without Trix deciding not to cheat this week.
The ballet slave dancers of the Steppes find they have swapped one form of slavery for another when they get kidnapped by Russian revolutionaries. Then, oddly, they find dancing can bridge the gap between them and their captors. So they create a ballet inspired by Russian revolutionary ideals, which delights the revolutionaries. Then comes the threat of war, so now there’s a desperate plan to escape back to the imperial palace to find a way to stop it.
Mr Jones is trying to turn the town of Boxless, which previously had no television because its location blocked reception, into a television-addicted town. But his daughter Recepta, once a TV addict herself, has other ideas, and is trying to cure Boxless of TV addiction. This week, Recepta’s friend Joy thinks she has the answer.
In the couple of days since the interview with Alison Christie was published, we have had some particularly interesting information sent in. Candela, who writes about girls’ comics in Spain, tells us that Alison’s ‘story “Over the Rainbow” was very popular in Spain and reprinted in two different girl’s magazines, and of course all the stories under the Gypsy Rose head, which in Spain sometimes were reprinted under the Uncle Pete’s stories.’ Likewise, Peggy from Greece wrote in to say ‘I was really touched to discover after 40 years the writer of one of the stories (“My Name is Nobody”) that I loved in my early youth! It is such a lovely story about the power of friendship’. She was even able to send in some scans of the Greek translation of this story, shown here with many thanks to her (see below for the first and last episodes). She also says that ‘”My Name Is Nobody” was selected to be among the stories to be included in the first issues of the Greek magazine Manina (issue 9), something that shows the significance of the story itself! Just for your information, the other stories of the first issues were “The Cat Girl” (from Sally), “Molly Mills” (from Tammy), “Lucky’s Living Doll” (from June & Schoolfriend), “Jackie & the Wild Boys” (from Princess Tina)” and “Bessie Bunter” (from June & Schoolfriend).’
Greek translation of “Nobody Knows My Name” (originally published in June & Schoolfriend, 1971)
The work done by writers and artists in comics like Jinty was typically on a work-for-hire basis, with a flat fee being paid and no expectation of earning royalties on reprints or translations and so forth. The artwork was owned by the publishing company and not sent back to the artist. A lot of the communication we’d perhaps expect to be happening was just not on the cards: for instance it does not seem that Alison was very aware of the extent of her stories’ popularity, and certainly she was not aware that “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” was reprinted in Princess in 1984. (Indeed, in a reply to a reader’s 1981 letter, this story was described as one of Jinty‘s most popular stories.) Translations into another language were presumably something that creators were unaware of the existence of, except as a vague possibility.
(In a separate email, Alison says ‘I did know that DC Thomsons had a room with magazine journalists seconded to doing this, syndicating picture stories for European countries. As the payment slips freelancers like myself got always had at the foot, “All copyright for all purposes”; this meant they could do what they liked with picture stories etc, once they had paid the writer and artist a one-off payment. However, I had no idea that IPC did this as well – but I didn’t keep any payslips from them, and I can’t remember what was written on them. It must have been on these lines.’ From my own personal knowledge, I was involved with the SSI – the Society of Strip Illustrators – in the early 1990s and there was much talk at the time about work-for-hire contracts and the rather brutal agreements in place. There was little or nothing in the way of a formal contract, and instead as Alison says, your actual payment slip confirmed that this was in consideration of all your creators rights. There would have been no way round this if you wanted to be paid! At the time I was involved in these areas, there was a lot of work being done to change this situation, but at one time it was very normal and not even questioned by many.)
However, it is clear that there was a lot of this translation going on over the years, in many directions. The Dutch auction site Catawiki is an invaluable resource for many British comics but particularly so for this question; although details are not all complete in every cases it lists stories by issue, artist, writer, and original title. Many stories were reprinted in the Tina series Tina Topstrip, as albums collecting the whole story with a new cover. Usually the protagonist was also renamed to something locally suitable (so the protagonist of “Becky Never Saw The Ball” turned into “Eefje”). There was also a monthly magazine, Tina Club, which reprinted stories in an anthology format with what looks like a couple of stories in each one. For instance, “Gwen’s Stolen Glory” was translated as “De droom van een ander / The Dream of Another” in 1975.
Some of the individual Tina Topstrips I have looked at on Catawiki are listed below.
As can be seen from the above list, a number of the Jinty creators were represented in these Dutch translations – prolific artists Phil Gascoine, Jim Baikie, and Phil Townsend were all published in this series, and popular writer Alison Christie is represented too, along with Pat Mills. Nowadays the flow of material will presumably be more likely to go the other way, if at all (Trini Tinturé has recently had original Dutch material being republished in UK magazine Girls & Co).
I’m not in the best position to check, but I would love to know more about the details of these translated editions. How faithfully was the translation done? What changed, apart from names and covers – were story lines ever abridged or even amended? Were credits given to artists and writers in any cases? (I do have one or two of the Tina Topstrips and don’t believe anyone was created apart from the local artist who drew the new cover.)
I would also love to know whether this was limited to Europe or not? Once you’ve translated material into Spanish or Portuguese then Latin America becomes available as a market, but it is a lot further away for connections to be made and that may well just not have happened. I know that Brazil and Mexico have their own local comics publishing traditions, as does Argentina (I don’t know about the other Latin American countries), with quite a different feel from the British weekly comic. Certainly in Brazil and Mexico if you see a foreign translation then it is very likely to consist of American reprinted material: Disney material such as the Donald Duck stories, and the Harvey comics such as Little Lulu and Richie Rich. Marvel and DC also make a strong showing in those markets, but the sort of emotional long-running story seen in British girls comics is not very prevalent as far as I know. They would match well with the interest in telenovelas (soap operas) but perhaps this connection is one that was never made?
Further information from Sleuth of Catawiki:
I have never closely looked at the translations done in the Netherlands. My impression is that stories are usually complete and properly translated, although the names are often changed (“Patty’s World” is translated as “Peggy’s wereldje”, probably because there already was a “Patty” strip in Tina at the time). Having said that, I should compare “Gail’s Indian Necklace” to the translation: reading the story in Jinty I found an episode in London with Gail travelling the tube that might have been taken out as it seemed new to me. Perhaps too outlandish! They always tried to make it look like the stories took place in Holland. That did not work for the school stories with all the uniformed girls of course (no uniforms at school here). I read somewhere that a girl had even asked her parents to send her to boarding school because of the stories in Tina. She did not like it very much when she got there. Boarding schools here are for children whose parents are travelling or for children with behaviour problems or illnesses which cannot be taken care of at home. Another story that I should compare one of these days is “Maartje het ganzenmeisje” (Marge the goose girl). The story very much resembles the story of “The Goose Girl”, but the story takes place in Holland and is drawn by Dutch artist Piet Wijn.