Bessie Bunter (artist Arthur Martin, writer Ron Clark)
Pony Trek Penny – text story (artist Jim Baikie, writer Linda Blake)
The Grays Fight Back! (artist Robert MacGillivray)
Showdate Shirley Reports on Arthur Lowe (of Dad’s Army)
Sindy and Her Friends in: Operation Ugly Duckling (artist Phil Townsend)
Sindy’s Scene: Her Diary and Club News
Nature’s Wonderful Ways (artist Helen Haywood)
Lucky’s Living Doll (artist Robert MacGillivray)
The Champions (Karen Muir) – first episode
The Curse of Witch Wood – Strange Story
Dotty Doogood (cartoon)
Orphans Alone (artist Tom Kerr)
Call Me Cupid! (artist Bill Baker)
In this issue “The Champions” begin, a feature that profiles a sports champion each week. Starting off the series is Karen Muir, a South African swimming star who retired at 18. At the time, Muir was distinguished for being the youngest world breaker holder at the age of 12.
This week’s Strange Story is about a ship’s head that has a curse on it. It turns out this is because the tree used to make the ship’s head was taken from Witch Wood without planting an acorn to replace it. If there is no acorn to replace a cut-down tree in that wood, the witches curse anything made from the tree’s wood. Sounds like very ecological witches.
Tinker tries to help a boy whose lion costume lacks roar – but it works too well. Tinker manages to put it right, and the boy has no memory of what happened, thank goodness. But she now has to face her Fairy House-Mother over the matter, so don’t you go giggling at me as well, she says to readers.
We didn’t know Jinty was brilliant at tennis as well as gymnastics, but it turns out she is. She is helping out Louise, who has her heart set on Wimbledon. But it looks like an arm injury could put an end to that.
Bessie is trying to hide a dog at Cliff House for the sake of its owner, who can’t afford to keep it. But the dog’s a huge bumbling menace whose appetite rivals Bessie’s own. Eventually the school pitches in so the owner can keep the dog.
The Grays are out on the street after their horrible landlord threw them out (at least they’re well rid of that landlord), and they’re not having much luck finding anything suitable. Worse, their mum is fit to come home now – but there is no home for her to come home to. So they have to find one, and fast!
Sindy has the task of turning the ugly duckling daughter Melinda of the Mayor-elect into a swan, um mayoress, with a makeover. Melinda hasn’t been cooperative until she discovers her cousin Angela is playing dirty tricks to replace her. And lack of confidence is now proving to be a problem too, but everything works out splendidly – except for Angela, of course.
Tina is doing spring-cleaning. But it turns into disaster when a kitten interferes, followed by a dog that Lucky tried to use to dry the washing. Maybe leave it to Lucky next time eh, Tina?
“Orphans Alone” try their luck with a theatrical company, and they handle rubbish-throwing hecklers like troupers. But it turns out that wretched beadle is in the audience, so they’re back on the run.
This week “Call Me Cupid!” tells the story of how her efforts to help Cherry went so badly wrong that she got a row from the folks that just about broke her eardrums, lost her pocket money and has to do washing up every night. But she isn’t giving up on finding the man for Cherry.
In “Wild Girl of the Hills” Naomi has been wrongly accused of theft while the real thieves have tied up Jean on the moor – and a wildcat is threatening her!
It’s Easter Week! (crafts feature by Angela Barrie)
Gymnast Jinty (artist Jim Baikie)
Pony Trek Penny (writer Linda Blake) – prose serial
Call Me Cupid! (artist Bill Baker)
“I Talk To Basil Brush” – Showdate (feature)
Sindy and her friends in The Haunted Theatre (artist Phil Townsend)
Sindy’s Scene – her Diary and Club News (feature)
Animal World (feature)
Lucky’s Living Doll (artist Robert MacGillivray)
Hobby Time – Rambling (feature)
“The Elsa Story” (true story feature)
“The Shadow of Success” – Strange Story (artist Robert MacGillivray)
The Grays Fight Back! (artist Robert MacGillivray)
Secret of Bell Mountain
Some months ago I bought three copies of June and School Friend, slightly on a whim. They are very readable, and also interesting for the light they shed on how IPC girls comics developed over the years. There are a lot of different comics stories included – 10 in total – but these are shorter than in Jinty or the like, as they are pretty much all only 2 pages long each. That leaves more room for text items, including a three page serialised prose story, which is something that never happened in Jinty and only rarely in Tammy. I will write detailed posts on all three of them, as we do for Jinty issues, but I know fewer of the artists to be able to credit their work.
“Oh, Tinker!” looks rather like a story from a nursery-title: drawn by Trini Tinturé, it features a sweet little fairy who can cast up to 3 spells a day and often gets things mixed up. Of course in the end everything always works out ok.
The “Wild Girl of the Hills” is Naomi, a gypsy girl who lives alone in a cave and is friends with wild creatures. Her only friend is Jean Ross, whose father is the head game-keeper locally; the two girls are drawn together by their love of animals. This is a theme that occurs in other stories; Freixas’ lovely art makes it worth a look.
“Gymnast Jinty” was occasionally seen in as a reprint in an annual; it’s interesting to see this story, which I assume may have lead to the idea behind naming Jinty itself. Jinty Lewis is a popular young gym mistress at Sandbury School; she has to deal with emotional troubles from her pupil Gail.
Bessie Bunter is always a fun strip, if very silly indeed, and of course old-fashioned. Bessie does some shopping and scarfs as many free samples as she can – but what with one thing and another still ends up as the hero of the day when she inadvertently catches a shoplifter.
“Pony Trek Penny” is credited to Linda Blake, who is also credited with a text story printed in the 1975 Jinty annual. I suspect that means either that the story in the annual is a June &SF reprint, or that Mavis Miller kept Ms Blake on the creative books during the initial while that Jinty was getting established. She is not a name that seems to appear in subsequent pages of Jinty though.
“Call Me Cupid!” starts this week – a humorous story about a girl whose older sister breaks up with her fiancé when he fails to turn up to the church in time – he got his dates mixed up! Cue match-making from the younger sister, to stop her older sister from moaning so much.
There is a comic with a difference in the middle of the issue – ‘by arrangement with the manufacturers of Pedigree Dolls’, it features Sindy and her friends. Here it is, partly so you can enjoy the lovely Phil Townsend art.
There is a two-page episode of “Lucky’s Living Doll” which lets us enjoy Robert MacGillivray’s art, but then we are very well off for his art in this issue, as the Strange Story also is drawn by him. The Strange Story is 3 pages long – the only comics story in the issue which is as long as that. A girl borrows a tennis racket from an old champion and it seems to encourage her to heights of dedication and ruthlessness, which starts to make her unhappy. And MacGillivray also draws “The Greys Fight Back!” about a family rallying round their father, who is in a wheelchair following an accident and is depressed about it. Normally this sort of role would be fulfilled by a girl protagonist so this is a different twist. It has a humorous angle rather than dealing strongly with negative emotions like anger or despair.
In the letters page we see an example of a reader who is interested in the creators behind the stories: she asks “why don’t you print something about the different artists who draw the stories”. A particular favourite of hers is Trini Tinturé, who is given a name in the reply and described as “a Spanish girl… who lives in Barcelona – and has her record player going to keep her company while she’s working!” We are promised more of Trini in a later issue. I wonder if she was in a feature?
The last story of the issue is “Secret of Bell Mountain”, a thriller which ends with the brave girl protagonist being held up at gun point by the villain of the piece.
Following the interview of John Wagner which ran on this blog a few days ago, I thought I would dig out my few issues of Sandie (only four, acquired somewhat at random). Because I have so few issues, and none of them are significant ones such as the first or last ones published, it didn’t seem worth reviewing them individually. Here therefore is something of an overview of this short-lived title – limited in scope by having so few originals to draw on directly, but I have tried to also bring together other relevant comments on this site and elsewhere, to give a wider context.
Let’s start with the contents of the four issues I do have:
Sandie 17 March 1973: Angela Angel-Face (artist Rodrigo Comos), Connie Courageous (unknown artist ‘Merry’), The Captives of Terror Island (artist Juan Escandell Torres, writer Terence Magee), Supergirl Sally (artist A. E. Allen), Isla and the Ice Maiden, Anna and the Circus, Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown), Dawn at Dead-End Street (artist Bill Baker), Pop portrait: Paul Newman, Lindy and the last Lilliputians, The Nine Lives of Nat the Cat (artist José Casanovas), Quiz Kid Queenie (artist Luis Bermejo)
Sandie 28 July 1973: Slaves of the Eye (artist Joan Boix), Cinderella Superstar (artist ?Joan Boix), Wyn and the Witch (artist A. E. Allen), Connie Courageous (unknown artist ‘Merry’) – last episode, Sink or Swim, Sara! (artist Eduardo Feito), The Captives of Terror Island (artist Juan Escandell Torres, writer Terence Magee) – last episode, Dancing to Danger (artist Tom Kerr), Bridie at the Fair (artist Leslie Otway), All Against Alice, Sisters in Sorrow (artist Roy Newby)
Sandie 11 August 1973: The House of Toys (artist Douglas Perry), Noelle’s Ark (unknown artist ‘Merry’) – first episode, Wyn and the Witch (artist A. E. Allen), The Golden Shark (artist Santiago Hernandez), Cherry in Chains (artist Joan Boix), Slaves of the Eye (artist Joan Boix), Dancing to Danger, Bridie at the Fair (artist Leslie Otway), All Against Alice , Cinderella Superstar (artist ?Joan Boix)
Sandie 29 September 1973: Angela Angel-Face (artist Rodrigo Comos), The House of Toys (artist Douglas Perry), Jeannie and her Uncle Meanie (artist Robert MacGillivray, writer John Wagner), Noelle’s Ark (unknown artist ‘Merry’), Cherry in Chains (artist Joan Boix), The Golden Shark (artist Santiago Hernandez), Dancing to Danger – last episode, Bridie at the Fair (artist Leslie Otway), Sister to a Star, Cinderella Superstar (artist ?Joan Boix)
There’s lots of good stuff in these issues, though I did find the covers rather old-fashioned, with mostly very blocky designs. Some of the inside content is rather old-fashioned too, and/or show possible signs of being reprinted from elsewhere. “The Golden Shark” is hand-lettered, and “Dancing to Danger” and “Bridie At The Fair” are lettered using a different font or technique to the other strips. The latter two are also only two pages long per episode, and have a painted aspect to the title element – I take these to have been reprinted from much earlier titles where there may have been an option to use more sophisticated colour printing.
Some of my interest in this title is in how it might have influenced, or been influenced by, work that is more directly related to Jinty. For instance, “Isla and the Ice Maiden” has an orphaned girl learning how to ice skate as she is taught by a mysterious woman: both the basic plot set-up and the visual design of the mystery woman is quite reminiscent of the Jinty story “Spirit of the Lake”. Likewise, “Lindy and the Last Lilliputians” has some wee travellers from Lilliput travel to stay with Lindy, a descendant of Lemuel Gulliver – who they claim must look after them. It sounds like the story has quite a lot of differences from Jinty‘s “A Girl Called Gulliver”, but there are certainly some big overlaps too.
In terms of the artists included, there is a fair amount of overlap with the slightly later titles I am more familiar with – with representation from José Casanovas, Rodrigo Comos, Douglas Perry, Santiago Hernandez, and the unknown artist who drew “Merry at Misery House” and so many other stories. Obviously there are many artists unknown to me, also: the very striking Joan Boix, who drew “The Slaves of the Eye”, is very well represented inside these pages. There are a couple of stories where it’s hard to decide if the art is by Joan Boix’s, or by Cándido Ruiz Pueyo’s. These are “Cinderella Superstar” and “All Against Alice”. I would be inclined to think these both contained Boix’s art if not for the fact that this would imply that there might be as many as four stories by the same artist in one issue! I suppose this is not impossible but still. On balance, I think that “Cinderella Superstar” is likely to be Boix’s work (though it is not signed in any of the issues I have, unlike “Cherry in Chains” and “Slaves of the Eye”). “All Against Alice” is not close enough for me to assign to Boix – it looks more like Pueyo’s work, though again not really definitively enough for me to say so for sure.
On the post with the interview with John Wagner, I asked for people’s impressions of the title compared to others from that era. Mistyfan commented to say that “Sandie had more regulars than Tammy, particularly “Wee Sue”. She also had a lot of circus themed stories such as “Sister to a Star”, “Cherry in Chains” and “Slave of the Trapeze”. Far more than either Tammy or Jinty. She followed the in vein of Tammy in having Cinderella and slave stories.” I haven’t got enough issues to have much representation of regular strips – there’s the start of “Jeannie and her Uncle Meanie”; “Nat the Cat” was so long-running as to perhaps count; and I do have two separate Angela Angel-Face stories in this short sample.
The circus theme is absolutely inescapable even in just these few issues, though! “Anna and the Circus” is in the March issue above, and the August and September issues include “Cherry in Chains” and “Sister to a Star”. There are very few circus-themed stories in Jinty, and not many in Tammy either, so this feels like a real unique selling point for this title. Of course there are also plenty of cinderella stories, ballet stories, and the like – a lot of what’s in the pages wouldn’t look out of place in Jinty or Tammy (and indeed some was reprinted in annuals and summer specials).
Mistyfan also previously posted on this site about the launch of Sandie and about issue 7 of the title – representing the earlier issues of the title. But after the title came to an end it still continued to make something of an impact as stories had a life after death. Quite a few of the stories were translated into the Dutch market: for instance “Sandra Must Dance”, “The Return of Rena”, “Lorna’s Lonely Days”, “Anna’s Forbidden Friend”, and “Peggy in the Middle”. Of course “Wee Sue” and “Jeannie and her Uncle Meanie” had an ongoing life in the pages of other comics titles thereafter, as did others (more briefly). “Angela Angel-Face” was reprinted in Jinty but generally reckoned to be a very weak offering in that title, and “School of No Escape” was reprinted in the Misty 1980 annual.
So Sandie feels a little old-fashioned to me, and a little quirky with its love of circus stories (quite why so many of them were used, I’m not sure – they make for a good story backdrop but aren’t quite as flexible a story theme as the sports or SF themes that Jinty readers liked, or of course the spooky tales of Misty). It has quite a bit of overlap of stories or of artists with the titles I am more familiar with, and some cracking content – I’d like to read more of the exciting “Noelle’s Ark” which I give below (and which again has some overlap with a classic Jinty story – “Fran of the Floods”). At this point it feels to me a bit like a fore-runner of the more fully-developed, stronger Jinty/Tammy/Misty stable – but at the same time, I know readers who have only found this title recently and have become real converts. I will seek out more…