Tag Archives: Benita Brown

Jinty & Penny 13 December 1980

Cover 13 December 1980

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

Stories in this issue:

  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Her Guardian Angel (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Girl the World Forgot (artist and writer Veronica Weir) – last episode
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Behind the Screen: The Goodies (feature)
  • Angela Angel-Face (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Sue’s Daily Dozen (artist José Casanovas)
  • Winning Ways 37: Netball – Marking and intercepting (writer Benita Brown)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine (artist Mario Capaldi)

This issue sees episode 2 of Jinty‘s last Christmas story, “Her Guardian Angel”: as Mistyfan pointed out in the post about the previous issue, by the following Christmas this title had merged with Tammy. And Pam is still struggling hard to make a cheerful Christmas party for the local orphans, despite many arguments between her friends and her supporters. But by the end of this week’s three pager, it looks very much like it may all be off…

Girl The World Forgot” comes to a dramatic end this week as some reenactors dressed as Vikings from the mainland come to the island. They rescue Shona and explain to her local ghost Alice Drunnon has been haunting the castaway girl. Shona is reunited with her parents – on Christmas eve, of all days. What an emotional present for all concerned!

“Sue’s Daily Dozen” sounds like it is nearing its end – we even see an appearance by Granny Hayden, as a vision helping Sue to defeat some crooks. Just about the last thing for her to do seems to be to help George the blacksmith have a truly blessed wedding – blessed by the spirit of Granny H herself, mind you!

Nadine is still combining disco dancing with netball, much to the displeasure of stiff-necked captain Betty. This time the other netball players need to rescue Nadine on the dance floor, by getting a huge strobe lightbulb from one end of the crowded dance floor to the other – in record time – using their netball skills, natch.

John Wagner: Interview

John Wagner is known to have worked on girls’ comics and written girls stories in the 1970s. I didn’t know of any previous interviews which had focused on this part of his career in particular: many thanks to him for answering the questions below in this brief interview.

1 I’d love to know how you got started in writing for girls’ comics, and what you did during that part of your comics career. What stories did you write? How did you balance writing comics alongside being an editor – or was that all part of what the editor was expected to do?

The girls’ comic side of my career started with Romeo, the DC Thomson romantic comic/mag, the poor sister of Jackie. Girls’ romance was just a step up from normal girls’ fare with the addition of boys. We never touched on lesbian love back then! Then when I left to go freelance with Pat Mills, girls’ stories was one of our target markets. We were given “School of No Escape” (was that in Sandie or Tammy? [that was in Sandie]) by the managing editor, John Purdie. The story had already been started, was running, but either the writer had quit, or been sacked. In any case editorial didn’t know quite how to handle it. It was quite a challenging first assignment but we made a pretty good fist of it. I helped Pat devise “School for Snobs” and write the first couple of episodes before we split up and I went to work in the IPC office in London. My only girls’ comic story after that was “Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie”.

2 We’re always on the lookout for information on other creators of girls comics from the  time. I have already asked you for any suggestions on the name of the artist on “Slave of the Trapeze” and “School of No Escape”, which sadly for us you weren’t able to recall. Are there stories by other people that you particularly remember from that time, which you would be able to help us to credit the creators on? For instance, anything written by any of Gerry Finley-Day, Malcolm Shaw, Charles Herring, Jay Over, Ian Mennell, Benita Brown, Maureen Spurgeon?

Malcolm Shaw was my sub on Sandie for a while, quite a good, reliable one. I’m afraid I don’t remember any particular stories any of the people you mention wrote, though Gerry would have done two or three for me. Never heard of Jay Over or Benita Brown and assume Maureen then went by another surname that I can’t remember.

3 Pat Mills has fond memories and a lot of respect for specific girls’ comics titles and the hard-hitting gritty stories that ran in them. What kind of comparisons would you draw between the world of girls’ comics and that of the boys’ titles you worked on?

They were pretty different, up until Pat and I started work on Battle Picture Weekly. I refer to the IPC boys’ stories, as DC Thomson boys’ comics had some excellent stories and were almost the equal of their girls’ titles. But IPC boys’ titles had stagnated, with stories that were formulaic, repetitive, barely credible and carried very little emotional power. They paled in comparison to the stories in Judy, Mandy and especially Bunty – clever, meaty, affecting.

4 You started your comics career working for DC Thomson before moving south to IPC/Fleetway. Were there things about creating comics that you learned at DC Thomson which you were keen to bring with you to IPC, or perhaps keen to move away from? Or other memories of differences between the two publishers?

I was keen to move away from poverty! The key lesson I learned there was self-criticism. Nothing you write can’t be better. Always question yourself – am I getting the best out of that scene, those characters, is there a better way of doing things?

5 Finally, anything you can tell us about your time at Sandie would be good to know. It was a fairly short-lived title, only lasting for 89 issues. What do you think that was down to? Did you leave it as it finished, or earlier? Who else worked on it that you can recall?

My memory is that they closed it down – or merged it – on a circulation of about 180,000 (though that figure may be inflated in my mind). In any case the low cover price meant that they had to sell enormous numbers. I was told the comic was going under and that they wanted me to move on to Princess Tina (which was also dying) and revamp it in an attempt to save it. Norman Worker (I think) was brought in to see Sandie laid to rest. In turn I made an awful hash of Tina, whereupon I quit journalism to become caretaker of an estate in Scotland, never to return (I thought!).

I’ve already mentioned [in email] some of the names of Sandie staff – subs Kyra Clegg, Rhoda Miller, Malcolm Shaw. Ally McKay was assistant art man for a while, and John…John…ah, I forget, but he was art editor.

Many thanks again to John Wagner for this interview. I have a small number of issues of Sandie, which I looked at in this post. Catawiki has details on a few Sandie issues also, and the Great News for All Readers blog has posted in detail about two issues in 2016. Mistyfan also wrote a post about the advert for Sandie’s launch, and another on issue 7 of Sandie in 1972.

Jinty & Penny 14 March 1981

jinty-cover-14-march-1981

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Ghost Dancer (artist Phil Townsend)
  • No Expectations – Gypsy Rose story (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)
  • Just the Job
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
  • No Medals for Marie – (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Alison Christie Fitt)
  • Winning Ways 48 (writer Benita Brown)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine – (artist Mario Capaldi)

Pam thinks Miss Larks is being blackmailed, which leads to an embarrassing moment when Fred and Terry jump what they think is the blackmailer by mistake. Oh well, they were just trying to be helpful. The ‘blackmailer’ is Miss Larks’ nephew Steve Arnott, who takes over the reins for the upcoming school magazine Pam is struggling over.

“The Ghost Dancer” is approaching crunch time. Ferne wants to end her deception but is too scared of the consequences. But fate takes a hand when Ferne finds out that Jolie is in danger from a cracked pillar. Everyone sees the supposedly wheelchair-bound Ferne suddenly running off to try to avert disaster.

“No Medals for Marie” enters its penultimate episode. That mean old Miss Simon won’t let Marie’s family have the country home they so desperately need for Paul’s health. She’s going to abandon Paul to slowly die of asthma in his polluted town although she knows how serious his condition is. And it’s just because she’s so jealous at Marie finally winning a medal.

“Life’s a Ball for Nadine” is also on its penultimate episode. There are two jealous sisters going up against Nadine at netball and disco and trying to cheat her out of both. Nadine beats one sister at netball in this episode, but now she has to beat the other at disco in the final episode.

The Gamma Girls have won the preliminary rounds at the Golden Girl trophy, but it’s not all victory. Perfecta is on the trail of their secret trainer, who is Miranda’s mother. Cassy manages to foil Perfecta this time, but she is still suspicious. Plus, the dreaded Hive Inspector is going to pay a visit. He has the power to take Miranda and her mother away if he discovers their secret, and they will never return.

This week Gypsy Rose brings us an original story instead of a recycled Strange Story. Dora Lambert faithfully goes to Miss Harleigh to read Charles Dickens to her. Despite the Dickens title she reads from in the story, Dora expects and asks for nothing, even though her poor family could do with it. However, Gypsy Rose has forewarned us that there could be a surprise in store.

Sir Roger accidentally creates a double of himself, and then it’s triplets. Gaye ends up with treble the trouble of feeding a gluttonous ghost.

Tansy’s got a detective kit. She’s on the case of the missing hockey cup, which has disappeared from her bedroom window. For once pesky brother Simon and practical joker Peter are in the clear, so who could have done it?

Jinty & Penny 11 April 1981

jinty-cover-11-april-1981

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Diving Belle – (artist Phil Gasoine)
  • Emily’s Last Stop – text story (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • The Puppet That Came to Life! Gypsy Rose Story (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Just the Job
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Whose Face Will Appear in the Mirror? (Quiz)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Fancy Free! – first episode (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Angela’s Angels – first episode (artist Leo Davy)
  • Winning Ways 51 (writer Benita Brown)
  • Land of No Tears – final episode (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)

It’s the last episode of “Land of No Tears”. The Gamma Girls’ win has sparked off more than they intended and it’s symbolised by the spectators knocking the Hive Inspector into the pool. The Gamma Girls have made people realise how fed up they were with the system that oppressed even their emotions. The letters page prints a letter from one reader thanking Jinty for reprinting the story, especially as she had lost her original copy.

“Land of No Tears” was reprinted because of “Pam’s Poll”, and in this issue another story starts repeating because of the poll. Many readers voted for a nursing story, so “Angela’s Angels” returns. Jinty made a strong point in the announcement that this was one of Jinty’s first stories, so newer readers must have been delighted to be reading a story from Jinty’s first days.

Pam has a bad falling out with Goofy because she laughed at his submission for the upcoming school magazine without realising who wrote it. On the day of the launch all the magazines are found ripped to shreds! Pam can only think of one person who had the motive, and is praying it wasn’t him.

Sir Roger’s sad to find that he’s badly affecting the Stony Hall business of guided tour by scaring people off. He tries to boost the business.

It’s Tansy and June vs Peter and Simon in a bike contest. When the contest is tied it’s up to the bike scrambling to break it. Tansy does scrambling in more ways than one – she accidentally causes Mrs Spikle’s eggs to go for a scramble. Despite this her bike scrambling nails a victory for her and June.

Fancy’s encounter with Ben and his wild bird hospital has brought on some improvement in her character: she begins to have second thoughts about bullying. Just as well, because she’s being taken to the headmistress.

Betty uses some pretty strong-arm tactics to get Belle diving again. At least it works.

Another Strange Story from June is recycled for Gypsy Rose. A Spanish orphan named Maria makes a living entertaining people with her puppet Chica. She wishes she could be rich and buy Chica a puppet theatre. Events starting with Chica somehow appearing in a rich man’s garden make this dream come true. But the mystery of how Chica got into the garden remains unsolved.

In this week’s text story, a leisure centre appeal is going badly. It is also up against competition from an appeal to save a loco named Emily, which does better but also fails. Then inspiration strikes: convert Emily into the leisure centre!

Jinty & Penny 21 March 1981

jinty-cover-21-march-1981

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Ghost Dancer (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Kathie Come Home! Gypsy Rose story (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)
  • Just the Job
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
  • No Medals for Marie – final episode (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Alison Christie Fitt)
  • Winning Ways 49 (writer Benita Brown)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine – final episode (artist Mario Capaldi)

Why do Pond Hill and Wormsley Comprehensive hate each other? That’s the question Steve intends to lead off the first issue of the school magazine with. He is set on going to Wormsley Comprehensive to conduct an interview with its pupils and is dragging Pam there with him, despite warnings from Goofy that the Wormsley pupils will just do something horrible to them. If you ask me, the Wormsley pupils don’t even know they hate Pond Hill or ever stop to think about it. The Pond Hill pupils certainly have no idea what the feud’s about.

Two stories end this week: “No Medals for Marie” and “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”. Marie decides it’s time to confront “that jealous battle axe” of a godmother over the blackmail she’s been pulling to stop her winning medals ever since they first met. However, Marie is in for a surprise, and it’s the one that guarantees a happy ending for all concerned. The godmother now goes from stopping Marie winning medals to a race to see who can win the most medals and trophies the fastest. No medals for guessing who’s leading. In “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”, the team resorts to a most unusual netball throw to make sure Nadine gets into the disco contest that her jealous rival’s cronies are trying to stop her entering. Nadine wins hands down of course, and “she’s the disco and netball queen!”.

One of the replacement stories starting next week is “Fancy Free!”, but why is there only one new story when two have ended? It also means two Phil Townsend stories will overlap because Townsend will finish “The Ghost Dancer” while starting “Fancy Free!”. Normally that sort of overlap happens with Phil Gascoine in Jinty.

In “The Ghost Dancer”, Ferne ends her wheelchair deception to save a fellow pupil from a dangerous pillar. But Ferne takes the pillar herself and it turns her deception into reality! Now she’s stuck in a wheelchair for real. Will she ever dance again?

There is even more cause for tears in “Land of No Tears” this week. To save Miranda from being taken away, Cassy is forced into a bargain to throw the swimming marathon in Perfecta’s favour – and so lose the Golden Girl Trophy that is the Gamma Girls’ ticket to a better life.

Gypsy Rose brings another recycled Strange Story. Twin sisters are separated after an accident and one loses her memory. So she can’t understand these strange flashes of a girl looking just like her and calling her name. Of course it’s the twin calling out for a reunion.

A misunderstanding has Tansy think Mr Grady’s being put in a pensioners’ home. She rallies the whole street to save him, but ends up in the doghouse with them all when the misunderstanding comes to light.

Sir Roger puts on a show of spooking to get Stoney Hall into a guidebook. Unfortunately he meets his match in the guidebook’s editors, who are the biggest sceptics he has ever met.

Jinty and Penny 6 September 1980

cover-19800906

Stories in this issue:

(Cover artist: Mario Capaldi)

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Girl the World Forgot (artist and Veronica Weir) – first episode
  • Tears of a Clown (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • The Swim For Life: A Jinty and Penny Special Story (artist John Armstrong)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Unscheduled Stop – Gypsy Rose story (artist John Armstrong)
  • Mork ‘n’ Mindy: Behind The Screen (Feature)
  • A Spell Of Trouble (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Child of the Rain (artist Phil Townsend) – first episode

Many thanks to Derek Marsden for the copy of this issue, which he kindly sent on to me.

Pam is on a roll – her ‘witch ball’ brings her luck or so she thinks, and indeed it seems to be the case. By returning it to its rightful owner, her school benefits from help to go on a school trip to France (which leads us on to a whole other set of stories).

“Girl The World Forgot” starts this issue. Initially it looks like an adventure story with a castaway plot, but later on it turns spooky. It is beautifully drawn by Veronica Weir, and through a comment on this blog we found out that it was also written by her too – one of only a very few cases where we know the artist and writer were the same person.

Kathy Clowne is bullied by Sandra Simkins, as so often in her time at school. This time Sandra paints Kathy’s face in greasepaint to make her up in clownface. Not realizing that this has happened, Kathy snaps when a teacher comments ‘What have you done to your face?’ and of course a punishment now looms – even though really it is all Sandra’s fault.

“The Swim For Life” is referred to as a ‘special story’ – it’s a complete two-page story that is presumably reprinted from an earlier title, but unusually it doesn’t fit into the mold of a Strange Story which was normally changed into a Gypsy Rose one. This one is a straightforward adventure story with a brave dog saving the brother and sister who went out in a speedboat and got into difficulties. There are no supernatural elements though, unlike in the Gypsy Rose story “The Unscheduled Stop” – which is likewise by John Armstrong. In this latter story, Jenny Shaw’s parents are arguing non-stop, until an unscheduled train stop shows her the reason in their earlier history for their bitterness, and a way to fix their future.

The letters page this week includes a letter from Sophie Jackson, a science fiction fan, who loved “Land of No Tears” and asked for more SF like that story and “The Human Zoo”. She also specifically said how much she liked the artist who drew both stories and also others such as “Black Sheep of the Bartons” and “Pandora’s Box”, and wanted more by that artist. Perhaps this was part of the reason why the Jinty editors commissioned “Worlds Apart”, also drawn by Guy Peeters?

(I also take this opportunity to comment on the fact that the form that you were supposed to send in with your letters, saying which your favourite stories were, has an issue number printed on it which is otherwise not shown elsewhere. This issue is number 320.)

Finally, it’s also the first episode of spooky-mysterious tennis story, “Child of the Rain”. Drawn by Phil Townsend, this story is flavoured with elements of the South American rainforest, which lends it particular interest in my eyes as I was living in South America at precisely this time. Despite this attraction, I have to admit it’s not the strongest story ever. Jemma West is a keen tennis player and hates the rain because it stops her playing – that is, until an accident in the rain forest, after which she starts to love the rain and to find it gives her extra strength and energy. It shares some similarities with “Spirit of the Lake” (mystery / supernatural elements, and sporting details) which we think is likely to have been written by Benita Brown – I wonder therefore if this story also might have been penned by the same writer.

Jinty & Penny 10 May 1980

jinty-penny-10-may-1980-cover

Stories in this issue

  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)
  • Tearaway Trisha (artist Andrew Wilson)
  • Rinty ‘n Jinty
  • Seulah the Seal (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Lost in Time!  – final part (Game)
  • The Venetian Looking Glass (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Val Robinson – sports feature
  • Winning Ways 12 – Keeping Goal (writer Benita Brown)
  • Minnow (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Blind Faith (artist Phil Townsend)

It’s part three of a pull-out game, “Lost in Time!” Players have to make their way around the ages, including the future where the TV prints out the 5000th issue of Jinty & Penny. Sadly, Jinty never got to that issue number (and shouldn’t Jinty have dropped Penny years ago?).

The banjo is a real bone of contention in “Pam of Pond Hill”. It caused a feud between Goofy’s mother and grandfather that has not healed, despite the passage of years. Now it threatens to erupt again as Goofy discovers his own talent for the banjo – and then his lost grandfather.

“Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” takes a hand in helping a plump teacher stick to her sponsored slim when she doesn’t stick to it herself. He says it’s all in a good cause – but we do notice that the gluttonous ghost seems to be taking opportunities to grab the teacher’s food for himself…

Trisha’s first show to raise money for Fran’s operation is a great success. Finally, something’s gone right for Trisha. Oh dear, perhaps we spoke too soon – Fran’s throwing it all in Trisha’s face because she thinks the operation won’t work. And next week’s blurb says it’s going to get worse, because Fran is running away!

Things look up for Seulah when he finds a friend in the form of a kindly tramp. But then things look down again when the seal is cornered by a bunch of sealers out to club him for his fur.

In “The Venetian Looking Glass”, Lucy saves the stables from burning down – but then realises the ghost of Lucy Craven made her set fire to them in the first place. It’s all part of the ghost’s revenge, and next week’s blurb says we are going to find out what her revenge is about.

Dad’s got a ticket for a pop concert, but Simon and Tansy have to decide who gets it. Yikes, this can only mean one thing with a brother like Simon – dirty tricks to get the ticket!

Minnow’s taken a bad fright after a strange panic attack in the pool. The teacher has to put extra coaching into restoring her confidence, which succeeds. And in “Blind Faith”, Clare is making headway in training her blind horse to show jump while keeping him hidden from the authorities. But her mind gets full of doubts as to whether she’s doing the right thing.

Jinty and Penny 17 January 1981

Jinty 17 January 1981

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • The Ghost Dancer (artist Phil Townsend)
  • A Gift for Gaynor – Gypsy Rose story
  • Behind the Screen – Record Breakers
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost – artist Hugh Thornton-Jones
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
  • Jinty’s Magic! – Feature
  • No Medals for Marie (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Alison Christie)
  • Winning Ways 41: Netball – A Two-Footed Landing (writer Benita Brown
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine (artist Mario Capaldi)

Three weeks into 1981, but winter chill is still in the air in Jinty – see the dog’s breath on the cover? The chill continues in “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost”, with Sir Roger trying ice skating, but a spoilsport is out to destroy the fun by smashing the ice to pieces.

In “Land of No Tears” there is chill of a different sort – Perfecta’s idea of disciplining Cassy is to force her to take a shower that is 10 degrees below zero! We learn that this is what Perfecta does with herself every morning, for twice the length of time.

We all encounter a scheming cousin/foster sister/stepsister story now and then, and it’s happening in Pam of Pond Hill. Pam’s cousin Veronica is making all sorts of bragging claims about her abilities, and Pam is beginning to doubt they are true. But Veronica has turned everyone against Pam, and even her best friend Tracey doubts her. However, the blurb for next week hints that Pam will expose her cousin.

Ferne has sworn never to dance again to punish her father, whom she blames for her mother’s death. But we know she won’t be able to keep that up. Sure enough, Ferne gives in and starts dancing secretly. But that is already leading to repercussions when fellow ballet student Jolie spots her dancing from a distance without realising who she is. And Jolie is a big blabbermouth! The plot is really going to thicken now.

The lengths Marie is forced to go to because of her jealous godmother’s mandate that she wins no medals – this week it’s turning to vandalism to avoid winning a medal! What next?

This week’s Gypsy Rose story prompted a intriguing letter from a reader later on: the reader’s name is Gaynor, she is thirteen, and loves gymnastics – same as the girl in the story! Gaynor must have treasured this issue forever to show her family. Gypsy Rose looks like she has been drawn by the same artist, so this must be a completely new story, one of the few Gypsy Rose stories of 1981 that is not a recycled Strange Story.

Tansy is put in charge of minding a neighbour’s budgie this week. Sounds simple? Oh, no, we know it will get complicated.

In “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”, the goalkeeper gets some unusual training to get her back into form. She, Nadine and the others are catching rubbish thrown by her unruly rock ‘n’ roll brothers who don’t like the acts in a talent show that aren’t rock ‘n’ roll – especially the disco act, of course.

 

Jinty and Penny 29 November 1980

Jinty 29 November 1980

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Girl the World Forgot (artist and writer Veronica Weir)
  • Angela Angel-Face – first episode (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Behind the Screen – Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
  • The Demon Eye – Gypsy Rose story (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost – artist Hugh Thornton-Jones
  • Sue’s Daily Dozen (artist José Casanovas)
  • Winning Ways 35: Netball – Dodging (writer Benita Brown)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Care for Your Countryside – feature

In this issue, Pam wraps up one of her most classic tales, her school trip to France. It has climaxed in a most unexpected manner – the French teacher being mistakenly arrested for kidnapping! What a story to get around the school when they get home! Fortunately the misunderstanding is sorted out and everyone is back home. But while the kids are all agog for an even bigger adventure next time, the teachers seem to be nervous wrecks from the French trip for some reason…

“Angela Angel-Face”, a reprint from Sandie, starts in this issue. It is not regarded as one of Jinty’s better moments.

In “Girl the World Forgot”, we get a hint that Shona will be home in time for Christmas, because her mother has bought her Christmas presents although she thinks Shona will never get them (or won’t she?). Meanwhile, Shona’s struggle for survival gets worse and worse as winter sets in, food is getting scarce, and Shona feels unwell, with no medical facility available.

Sue seems to be more comfortable with the Daily Dozen now that nobody has burned her at the stake or anything for wearing Gran Hayden’s witch gear and mixing her potions in public. But then Sue begins to doubt the Daily Dozen again when one of her clients collapses.

In “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”, it’s fancy footwork time as Nadine attempts to attend both a disco competition and a school netball game in Birmingham.

Sir Roger is not cock-a-hoop when he tries out the hula hoop, but it does help him to hoop two criminals. And in this week’s Gypsy Rose story, a girl’s superstition about cats bringing bad luck is annoying her friend, but saves lives when it leads to a premonition of impending disaster.

 

Can a computer program help us identify unknown writers? 2

The jury’s still out at present, but I am very grateful for the kind offers of help of various sorts! I now have text versions of episodes of:

  • “Slave of the Clock” and “The Secret of Angel Smith” (Jay Over)
  • “The Sentinels” (Malcolm Shaw)
  • “Fran of the Floods” (Alan Davidson)
  • “Concrete Surfer (Pat Mills).

So I have enough to try to see if I can get the program to identify “Slave of the Clock” as being by Jay Over rather than any of the other writers. If anyone is able to send in any more texts, the following would be useful:

  • Some texts by female writers such as Anne Digby, Alison Christie, Benita Brown
  • Some more texts by the writers named above, so that I can offer the program a wider base of texts per each writer (rather than keeping on increasing the number of individual authors)

How far have I got so far? Not that far yet, I’m afraid to say. I have downloaded a copy of the program I chose (JGAAP) and I’ve got it to run (not bad in itself as this is not a commercial piece of software with the latest user-friendly features). I’ve loaded up the known authors and the test text (Slave of the Clock). However, the checks that the program gives you as options are very academic, and hard for me to understand as it’s not an area I’ve ever studied. (Binned naming times, analysed by Mahalanobis distance? What the what??) Frankly, I am stabbing at options like a monkey and seeing what I get.

I can however already see that some of the kinds of checks that the program offers are plausibly going to work, so I am optimistic that we may get something useful out of this experiment. These more successful tests involve breaking down the texts into various smaller elements like individual words, or small groups of words, or the initial words of each sentence, or by tagging the text to indicate what parts of speech are used. The idea is that this should give the program some patterns to use and match the ‘test’ text against, and this does seem to be bearing fruit so far.

So, an interim progress report – nothing very definite yet but some positive hints. I will continue working through the options that the program offers, to see if I can narrow down the various analytical checks to a subset that look like they are successfully identifying the author as Jay Over. I will then run another series of tests with a new Jay Over file – I’ll type up an episode of “The Lonely Ballerina” to do that, unless anyone else has kindly done it before me 🙂 – scans from an episode are shown below, just in case! That will be a good test to see if the chosen analytical checks do the job that I hope they will…

Jay Over, Lonely Ballerina pg 1

Jay Over, Lonely Ballerina pg 2
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Jay Over, Lonely Ballerina pg 3
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