Tag Archives: Black Sheep of the Bartons

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.

Advertisements

Story theme: Redemption narratives

I recently wrote summary posts about two stories that I called ‘redemption narratives’: “The Girl Who Never Was” and “She Shall Have Music“. That’s a kind of story theme that we can all recognize as being fairly common in girls comics generally: in Jinty there are a number of other examples.  But how does this sort of story work?

Take those two stories as an initial guide: the protagonist is a difficult or disagreeable, probably dislikeable, girl who has some personal failing or issue that drives the story. It’s because of that failing that the story progresses; it may not have been due to something that was her fault that the story started off in the first place, but it is because of her moral or social problem that it continues and develops the way it does. Tina Williams lands in the alternate universe where magic works because of her conceited and annoying ways; Lisa Carstairs’s father doesn’t lose his money because of her, but if she wasn’t so obsessed with continuing her piano playing exactly as before, then she wouldn’t find herself in the same difficulties. It’s not just what happens to the protagonist (or how she is challenged in the story) but how she reacts to it. She has to be ‘the architect of her own misfortunes’, as Mistyfan puts it in her post about another redemption story, “Black Sheep of the Bartons“.

Does the story have to feature some sort of disagreeableness, some sort of outright nastiness or callousness on the part of the protagonist? No: I’d say that you could certainly include ‘guilt’ stories such as “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” and “I’ll Make Up For Mary”. The protagonist here  suffers huge pangs of guilt and despair because of the loss of a loved one – a best friend or a sister in the case of these two stories, but in other cases it can be a parent – a very natural feeling, but the failing here is that she lets those emotions overwhelm her and distort her common sense. The guilty feelings of the protagonist drive the story forward, but this guilt is portrayed throughout as excessive, as an indulgence that the main character should resist. It’s the lengths that their grief drives them to that causes their difficulties in their separate stories.

Also, it’s not just about having an objectionable main character who is nicer by the end of the story. “Curtain of Silence” and “Land of No Tears” are not what I would call redemption narratives, despite having protagonists who start off pretty disagreeable and end up much improved. (Likewise “Battle of the Wills” is not, nor I think “Pandora’s Box”, but sports story “Black Sheep of the Bartons” is one I would class as such: Bev Barton isn’t horrible so much as thoughtless and reckless, but her carelessness nearly brings tragedy to her family.) Why don’t “Curtain of Silence” and “Land of No Tears” count? Because when the girl main characters are swept into their initial circumstances – enslaved by a dictatorial coach, forced into third-class citizenship in a future world – their thoughts are not primarily about how they can continue to maintain their status quo ante but about how they can defeat their antagonist. Yvonne and Cassy aren’t just trying to get back to where they were at the beginning: their story is about a positive rebellion, not a futile rejection of the truth that the outside world is telling them. They end up much nicer than they started out being, but that’s not the whole reason for having the story in the first place – it’s because they have faced extraordinary circumstances which would change anyone by making them realise that some things are bigger than individual concerns.

Does the character who ends up being redeemed have to be the protagonist, or could they be the antagonist or villain? Overall I would say it has to be the protagonist, as the main character that you are supposed to sympathise with and want things to turn out well for, but maybe one counter-example is “Wanda Whiter Than White“. Wanda is not the main character of the story and she makes Susie Foster’s life a misery with her sanctimonious ways. At the end, it is revealed, as Mistyfan explains in her story post, that ‘Wanda’s own past is not as white as she would have us believe. In fact, she is on probation after being caught stealing.’ Rather than this reveal being painted as purely a victory for the main character, it ends up with Wanda being ‘truly redeemed when she tells a white lie to help Susie in return for Susie saving her life’. The reader wasn’t rooting for Wanda’s redemption all along, but it is a satisfying ending nevertheless.

What choices could the writer make that would move the story out of the category of being a redemption narrative? Let’s take Lisa Carstairs’ story as an example. As with the OuBaPo exercises, thinking about how a story could work differently will give us a view on how the stories actually do work.

  • Imagine Lisa’s parents still losing everything at the beginning of the story, and Lisa still losing her piano. The story could then have taken a different turn: rather than being about Lisa’s misguided piano obsession and selfishness, it could have been another kind of story entirely, for instance a mystery story where Lisa finds out that her father’s business partner was a crook who needs to be brought to justice. Perhaps Lisa’s piano playing could help her to find the clues she needs, and her obsession with it could be turned to a good cause in that way, so that she needs no redemption.
  • Or let’s say the story stays as being about Lisa’s obsession with playing piano but it’s portrayed as something not to be frowned on, rather as something acceptable or allowable. How would a story work where she can continue to be focused on playing piano to the exclusion of everything else, including her family? Perhaps her family would have to be a nasty, uncaring one, to make her disinterest acceptable.
  • Or perhaps the story could proceed more or less as it does, but with an unhappy ending where Lisa gets her comeuppance. This would make her into a more of an anti-heroine than normal but would not be unheard of.

Here are the examples I would identify as fitting most neatly into the category of ‘redemption narrative’ (core examples) and as being closely related to this category without necessarily definitely being classed as such (edge cases).

Core examples

  • “Dance Into Darkness” – Della just wants to live her life down at the disco with no regard for other people, but when her wish is granted she eventually discovers there is indeed more to life than her own self-interest.
  • There are a number of stories that are driven by a bereavement: the main character makes poor decisions as a result of her strong emotions of grief and anger because she is afraid of being hurt again. “The Ghost Dancer” is one of these, as is “Nothing to Sing About”, but of course “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” and “I’ll Make Up For Mary” are the strongest examples.
  • “The Girl Who Never Was” – discussed above
  • “She Shall Have Music” – discussed above
  • I said above that I thought that it needs to be the protagonist who is redeemed, not one of the other characters. In “Go On, Hate Me!” the antagonist is driven by grief into bullying the protagonist but in the end all is cleared and the antagonist is redeemed, so I would be tempted to class this alongside “Wanda Whiter Than White” as a clear example of this kind.
  • Jackie’s Two Lives” is more about the perils of wish-fulfilment, but Jackie’s snobbishness and the fact she is ashamed of her own family is definitely a character flaw that drives the story and she is cured of it at the end.
  • “Left-Out Linda” develops the redemption pretty well by recognizing that you can’t usually turn around your life by yourself: you have to have some help.
  • “Paula’s Puppets”: Paula has to learn to forgive her enemies rather than attacking them via the magical help she has been given.
  • “Tearaway Trisha”: Trisha’s recklessness has caused a serious accident; she tries to make amends but has to change her own character in order to do so.
  • “Valley of Shining Mist” has a clearly didactic message about the improving aspect of high culture: by playing the violin, Debbie will transcend the impact of her abusive family, who are low-class in their lack of culture and their morality.
  • In “Who’s That In My Mirror?” the protagonist’s selfish nature is made very literally visible and becomes more and more so until finally she is driven to renouncing it.
  • Worlds Apart” is the ultimate morality tale – one by one, six girls are shown the worst outcomes possible for each of their specific character flaws, and they have a chance to repent. The psychological development is minimal but the impact of the story was very dramatic.

Edge cases

  • “Fancy Free “- I know the main character is so independent that this may well be characterised as a fault, but I don’t really quite remember enough about the story to say whether it is the main thing that drives the whole plot.
  • The Four Footed Friends” – arguably another case where someone other than the protagonist ends up being redeemed, though it all feels a little sudden. “Hettie High-and-Mighty” likewise features a fairly sudden change of heart on the part of an antagonist who has mostly been about making  the protagonist’s life a misery until that point. I don’t think “The Kat And Mouse Game” quite counts, either: Kat may perhaps have realised the error of her ways at the end of the story, but will her change of heart actually stick?
  • I haven’t really made my mind up about “Gwen’s Stolen Glory” – it feels like it is mostly a story about deception, though clearly once Gwen owns up to the big lie this is a kind of redemption of her former deception.
  • In “Kerry In The Clouds”, Kerry is a day-dreamer imposed upon by a woman motivated by her own unfriendly concerns. Kerry’s day-dreaming nature is cured by the end of the story, but I don’t feel the main driver of the narrative was to improve her character.
  • The main character in “Mark of the Witch!” is hot-tempered and angry at all around her, and she comes to seek a more peaceful set of emotions by the end of the story. However, so much of her story is about the persecution and abuse that her neighbours visit on her that I don’t see her story being primarily about her renouncing her hot-headed ways.
  • I’m not sure about “Pandora’s Box” and whether it counts or not. Pandora’s witchy aunt does chide her at the beginning about being too cock-sure about her talents and says that she will need to use magic sooner or later, and this is all true: but I’m not sure what sort of morality story that adds up to – not a conventional one at any rate! The main nod in this story to more conventional morality is the fact that Pandora goes from disinterest in the pet she is stuck with (her black cat familiar, Scruffy) to loving him dearly and giving up her heart’s desire in order to save his life.

One last question struck me when thinking about this. What sort of things might the protagonist have done that means she needs to go through this process of redemption in the first place? Clearly it must be something negative: the story has a moral imperative of some sort, warning readers against some kinds of behaviour. But at the same time, some things would be beyond the pale of course, and would mean that any character doing that would be irredeemable. (There might therefore be some useful comparisons made with story villains: what does their villainy consist of?) If a character killed or seriously hurt someone on purpose then that would be beyond the pale: there are a number of villains who have gone this far, sometimes with a laugh on their cruel lips, but it would be hard to imagine that a girl protagonist could do this and still recover the moral high ground at the end of the story.

In the stories above it looks like the sort of wrong-doing that needs castigating but is still redeemable is often about emotional warmth and consideration for others – it’s not about ambition (by itself) or cleverness (by itself) for instance. An arrogant protagonist can still be the heroine, but if she is cold, selfish, or inconsiderate then that’s a good signal that this is a character marked down for improvement – by whatever means necessary. Preferably it will be a Shakespearean denouement, whereby her own moral failing brings about such a huge disaster that she has no option but to change her ways! And being too afraid to risk emotional commitment comes in for a bit of a kicking too, via the guilt / grief stories. The obvious next question: is this moral imperative specific to British girls comics? Do UK boys comics have redemption narratives too? Or those in other countries? My pal Lee Brimmicombe-Wood reckons that Japan’s flourishing manga industry has many stories about mavericks who insist on going their own ways – but in that industry’s story constraints, the mavericks are always right and never forced to realise that actually, there was a reason why everyone was telling them they were going about things the wrong way…

Guy Peeters

Sample Images

Worlds Apart 23aWorlds Apart 23bWorlds Apart 23cWorlds Apart 23d

Guy Peeters is a very popular, long-standing artist in girls’ comics. Regrettably, he has no entry at all at Lambiek Comiclopedia and no other information on him is currently available, except for a listing of his works on Catawiki. It is only due to the Tammy credits that his name is known, but it is possible that it was a pseudonym.

Peeters was a very prolific artist at DCT, with his artwork appearing in Nikki, Mandy, Judy and M&J among others. His best-known work at DCT is arguably Penny’s Place, which started in M&J and then moved to Bunty with a merger. An incomplete list of Peeters stories at DCT can be found here.

At IPC, Peeters made his strongest presence in Jinty, particularly in regard to her SF stories. SF was one of his strengths, and his style really brought several of Jinty’s SF classics to life, including “Land of No Tears” and “Worlds Apart”. Peeters also brought off sport well, but only did one sports story for Jinty, “Black Sheep of the Bartons”. It is rather surprising that he also drew a ballet story, “Slave of the Swan”, and also a complete story, “Forget-Me-Not at Christmas”, which contained period elements, as his style is less suited to ballet and period stories than other artists.

In Tammy, Peeters’ artwork appeared more intermittently. He drew nothing for Misty, despite his aptitude for SF. But he did draw one of Tammy’s best-remembered SF classics, “E.T. Estate”. This was during Tammy’s credit run, which gives a name to this hugely popular artist.

Guy Peeters Jinty stories

  • Carnival of Flowers – Gypsy Rose story (1977)
  • Land of No Tears (1977-78)
  • Slave of the Swan (1978)
  • The Human Zoo (1978-79)
  • “I’ll Make Up for Mary” (1979)
  • Pandora’s Box (1979)
  • Black Sheep of the Bartons (1979)
  • Forget-Me-Not at Christmas – complete story (1979)
  • Worlds Apart (1981)

 

Credited Guy Peeters story in Tammy (click thru)

Jinty 22 December 1979

d0fe0502-669c-11e3-8814-12cc9c552fc2

  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost – first episode (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Christmas Sweets and Nuts – feature
  • Spirit of the Lake – first episode (artist Phil Townsend, writer Benita Brown?)
  • Alley Cat
  • Tale of the Panto Cat
  • Toni on Trial (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Sports Pages – Tessa Sanderson
  • White Water (artist Jim Baikie)
  • When Statues Walk… – first episode (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Black Sheep of the Bartons – final episode (artist Guy Peeters, writer Alison Christie)

My copy of this issue is so badly doodled from a previous owner that I had to go to Catawiki for a scan of the cover to put up. Thank you, Catawiki!

This issue starts Jinty’s Christmas fun, yet the three new stories that start in this issue all have ghost themes. The most significant of them is perhaps “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost”. Sir Roger and his fellow ghosts are outraged at how tourism and commercialism at Stoney Hall are destroying their respectability as ghosts. The other two resident ghosts walk out to haunt a nice quiet graveyard, but the Shop-Steward of Amalgamated Association of Resident Ghosts and Haunters (A.A.R.G.H!) gives Sir Roger the power to materialise sometimes so he can really put a scare into those pesky tourists. Sir Roger is all eager to start with Gaye, the caretaker’s daughter who is the worst of them all – but the blurb for next week hints that it’s not going to be as easy as that.

“When Statues Walk…” is the ghost story that really sets out to be scary. North Street has a reputation for being haunted, and weird things start happening when workings start there. Then the screaming really starts when Laura takes home some broken pottery from the site and reassembles the pieces. But it’s not her that’s screaming – it’s the Viking head that the pieces have made!

And the third ghost story is “Spirit of the Lake”, a supernatural companion story where the ghost offers coaching in skating as well as comfort to Karen Carstairs, who is not made to feel welcome in the home of her relatives.

It’s the last episode of “Black Sheep of the Bartons”. Bev was resorting to the desperate measure of quitting judo to gain her father’s trust. But now fate has enabled her to prove herself to him without giving up her beloved judo, and she’s a heroine too! And the ghost theme continues with a complete Christmas ghost story that will fill Bev’s old slot, and then a new story starts for New Year.

In part two of “Pam of Pond Hill”, Miss Peeble is having trouble finding her feet as a teacher. Fred and Terry take advantage to give her a bad time while Pam tries to help her, but it’s got her branded as teacher’s pet.

In “Tale of the Panto Cat”, Verna gets so spiteful at wrecking the Cinderella panto that she causes sabotage and injuries. And it looks like she’s achieved her aim – all the stars of the show are now out of action because of her. They really need a fairy godmother now if the show is to go on.

Everyone is picking on Toni at the athletics club because of her mother being branded a thief. Two girls are even playing spiteful tricks on her, and it looks like they’re set to continue for the duration of the story. And Bridie’s mum won’t even let her pursue canoeing, because she thinks all water sports are dangerous after the accident that killed her husband.

Jinty 8 December 1979

Jinty 8 december 1979 1

Here we have a competition with “40 gay Gypsy dolls” to win (hmm, how times have changed over the use of the word ‘gay’). And it is an issue big on stories finishing or approaching their conclusions, so the decks are being cleared for the Christmas/New Year lineup.

The ending to “Combing Her Golden Hair” takes you completely by surprise because it’s not what you expect from stories about abusive guardians and salvation from magical objects. Next week Jinty’s most enduring regular, “Pam of Pond Hill” starts.

In the penultimate episode of “Waves of Fear”, Clare is now on the brink of suicide (strong stuff for a girls’ comic to hint at!), unaware that her luck is finally beginning to change. Once Rachel weasels the truth about Clare’s expulsion from that horrible Jean, people in authority finally begin to realise that Clare’s uncharacteristic behaviour is due to a mental illness, not cowardice or delinquency. But by the time they finally catch up to Clare, the search for her has led to Rachel facing another accident in the very same cave where the trouble started. So it’s all going to end where it began next week.

“My Heart Belongs to Buttons” is also on its penultimate episode, and it’s ironic. Julie, who has rejected Buttons II for so long, now can’t bear the thought of letting him go!

Black Sheep of the Bartons” is at its climax too, with Bev finally realising how selfish she has been when her thoughtless conduct leads to her sister Ruth going off in search of her, and now Ruth’s life is in danger.

Jinty starts her Christmas story “Tale of the Panto Cat”. Daisy Green Youth Club is planning their Christmas special, but bossy-boots Verna is spoiling everything, including Christmas, by taking over everything, from what they are to do for their special to the (dreadful) lines they are given. And everything Verna does is geared towards putting herself in the spotlight as the star of the show.

In “Toni on Trial”, Toni finally finds out what the mystery is about her late mother – she was accused of stealing a sports trophy. Now Toni is being tarred with the same brush by everyone in town, and it’s interfering with her running career. And the person wielding the biggest brush seems to be the sports coach, Miss Rogers. She tells Toni her mother was “nothing but a common thief” – and right in front of all the other athletes!

Bridie has vowed “White Water” will ride again, but runs into her first obstacle –her embittered mother, who is burning Dad’s sailing books.

Black Sheep of the Bartons (1979)

Sample Images

Black Sheep 1

Black Sheep 2

(Click thru)

Black Sheep 3

(Click thru)

Jinty: 6 October 1979-22 December 1979

Artist: Guy Peeters

Writer: Alison Christie

Reprint: Girl Picture Library #14 as “The Black Sheep”

Plot

Bev Barton looks on herself as the black sheep in her sheep farming family, both in appearance (the only one with black hair in a blond family) and in character. She is a rebel without a cause who chafes under her parents’ rules and regulations and is bored stiff with the sheep farm. But Bev has a big problem – she is selfish and can’t see beyond herself. She tends to get jealous of her sister Ruth, who seems to be more in favour with the parents. Bev does not understand that the parents trust Ruth because she earns it with obedience, hard work and consideration, while Bev does nothing of the kind.

Bev applies for and wins a scholarship in Elmsford Academy as she thinks boarding school will give her freedom from her parents and the farm and to do her own thing. But of course she soon finds that Elmsford has its own rules and regulations. It is not long before Bev’s rebelliousness gets her into trouble with the headmistress.

Then Bev discovers the judo club at Elmsford and finds she has a real passion and talent for the sport. She finally has something to work for. The trouble is, she gets so obsessed with judo that she neglects her schoolwork, exams, and breaks more rules and orders in order to get to her judo club. The only thing that stands between Bev and expulsion is that she used her judo to foil a burglar who was stealing school trophies. But eventually Bev defies the headmistress once too often and gets expelled. As a result, the parents thoroughly disapprove of Bev’s judo.

Being expelled has cut Bev off from the judo club and there is none in the village. She flouts her parents’ orders again in order to get to the judo club – only to find it has closed down. Worse, Dad catches her in the act of defying him and she’s in trouble again. Back home, Bev’s jealousy of her sister Ruth, whom she perceives as the parents’ favourite worsens, which heightens the bad situation with her parents. Bev does not appreciate how patient Ruth is with her – or realise that Ruth is ill with angina and needs extra care.

Things look up when Ted Nelson, Bev’s judo instructor, takes a job at her school as the new PE teacher. They start a judo club at the school. Dad won’t let Bev join after her expulsion, but Ruth talks him around. Bev soon earns her yellow belt, but is neglecting her schoolwork again. Ruth is staying up late doing Bev’s homework – which is not good for her state of health – and the parents are angry at Bev again. But Bev takes this as more favouritism and her response is to “disappear” for a bit to teach them a lesson. But this backfires dreadfully – Ruth sneaks off to look for Bev and this is extremely dangerous for her because she is so sick. When Bev finds out, she finally wakes up to how selfish she has been. She takes off to look for Ruth – against Dad’s orders, who is too angry to let her help search – and succeeds.

Following this, Bev makes a serious effort to become more considerate and helpful to her family. Mum is impressed, but Dad just says that Bev’s head is still full of that “confounded judo”. Hearing this, Bev decides that there is only one way to convince Dad of her good faith – give up judo – and tells Dad what she is doing. She rushes off in tears to give away her judo gear. But en route she encounters Alf Sutton. Dad has suspected Sutton of stealing his sheep and now Bev catches him red-handed. She uses her judo to bring him down. This now convinces Dad that judo is not a bad thing and he admits to Bev that he was just too proud to acknowlege her change for the better.

Bev is now getting along so much better with her parents. And to show it, Dad converts his barn into a judo club so the club can continue after the school gym burns down. Bev is still proud of being a black sheep but is now a more mature, thoughtful and happier girl.

Thoughts

This came hard on the heels of Guy Peeters’ previous story, “Pandora’s Box”, which was also about a selfish girl who learned to open her heart. Perhaps it was the same writer. But while Pandora’s Box had supernatural elements, Black Sheep is grounded firmly in realism. There is so much in the character of Bev Barton that we see in everyday life – rebel without a cause, inability to handle authority, generation gap, and problem children who have nowhere to vent their energy so they transmute it into difficult behaviour that exasperates their parents.

The problem with Bev is that she can’t see that she is the architect of her own misfortunes with her selfish, self-centred behaviour. She does not understand that her problems with her parents stem from her being selfish, disobedient, rebellious, doing nothing to earn their trust, and having no consideration for others. And her attitude not only gets her expelled but endangers Ruth several times – such as practising judo with her while not thinking that Ruth is untrained – but Bev does not stop to think. And the types of boyfriends she has – rough bikers – do not help matters.

Bev is not a totally bad character. For example, she stands up to a bully at school who blackmails other girls. There is also a dash of feminism when Bev has to demand to join the judo club as it is boys only. She’s full of spunk and balls, which would have appealed to readers. Bev is not your typical victim heroine who would take emotional and physical abuse lying down, and is no Cinderella.

It is obvious that the judo is the key to Bev’s salvation. After all, it has finally given our rebel without a cause something to channel her energy into. If only she would wake up to how selfish she is, she be a true heroine. But we know she will eventually. That’s the whole point of the story after all.

We have to enjoy this story for the judo itself. It came out at a time when martial arts were popular in Britain, which must have provided inspiration and popularity. And judo makes a change from stories about hockey, tennis or swimming, so readers must have enjoyed the story for this alone. Martial arts did not appear much in girls’ comics, which makes this story even more of a standout.

Girl Picture Library

Girls’ picture libraries. The monthly Commando-style digests where girls could read a complete 64-page story every month as a supplement to their regular weekly comic. Thrillers, humour, drama, horror, supernatural, heart-breakers, fantasy or science fiction stories were told in a once-a-month, one-volume complete story.

The picture libraries also provided stories about favourite regulars such as The Four Marys, Wee Slavey and The Comp. Occasionally there were variations in the formula, such as a story being told over two picture libraries, or a picture library featuring several short stories instead of one complete one. One example was “Scream!” (not to be confused with the IPC comic of the same name), which told five scarey stories to make you scream.

Picture libraries were a long-running staple of four of DCT’s titles: Bunty, Judy, Mandy and Debbie. The Bunty picture libraries lasted 455 issues. This is not surprising as Bunty herself is the longest-running girls’ title in history. The Mandy books finished at the same time as the Bunty ones, but at 277 books. Judy produced 375 books and Debbie 197 books. Towards the end of the run reprints appeared although original stories continued.

In IPC the girls’ picture library had a more unusual and uneven history. June and Princess Tina were the only titles to produce any long-running ones. In fact, the June picture library eventually recycled the old Princess logo to become the wordy title, “June and School Friend and Princess Library Picture Library“. Maybe this was why “Picture Library” was dropped on the cover at some point after #458, though the spine continued to say “June and School Friend and Princess Picture Library” to the end of its run.

Tammy and Jinty were never given any picture libraries although they lasted the longest after June. Yet the photo-story comic, Girl (series 2) was given her own picture library. This lasted for just 30 books. Miniscule compared with the rich histories of the June picture library and its counterparts from DCT. But what gives Girl Picture Library its place on this blog is that although some of the libraries were original material, many of them also reprinted material from Jinty and Tammy.

Most of the reprints appeared under revised titles, some of which were awful and showed little thinking. For example, “Vision of Vanity Fayre” from Tammy was reprinted in Girl Picture Library #2 under the the extremely lame title of “Dear Diary”. Strangely, the last three Girl picture libraries reprinted Tammy stories under their original titles.

2912390-girl25

There were some oddities and even downright sloppiness in the run, which may indicate what sort of budget or editorship that the series was running to. For example, the cover of #16 (reprint of “My Heart Belongs to Buttons”) changes the appearance of the heroine. Readers must have been surprised or irritated when they opened the issue and found the brunette heroine inside bearing no resemblance to the girl on the cover. And the girl who appears on the cover of #25 (reprint of “Shadow on the Fen”, above) has the wrong hair colour – she is blond on the cover but is a brunette in the story. The witchfinder too looks different – he looks younger and has a fuller face than the craggly gaunt face rendered by Douglas Perry. Still, it is a beautiful, haunting cover.

2916377-561510

A more striking oddity was “Sue’s Daily Dozen” being reprinted over two volumes: “Spellbound” and “Bewitched”. But there was no indication in “Spellbound” to say “to be continued”. Readers must have wondered why the story suddenly stopped abruptly. The remaining pages are devoted to “Tiny Tina”, which is Wee Sue under a revised title. “Cathy’s Casebook” also appears in two volumes: “Cathy’s Crusade” and “Dr Cathy”. But the reprint is even odder in that “Dr Cathy” does not come immediately after “Cathy’s Crusade” – “The Old Mill” is in between them.

2912380-girl182912381-girl19

Naturally, some material and panels had to be cut or modified to make the reprints fit into 64-page pocket size volumes. For example, “Moments of Terror”, which reprints “Waves of Fear”, deletes Priscilla Heath and the orienteering club sequences. Both of these played a key role in the resolution of the story in its original run – realising that the panic Clare Harvey had while her friend was drowning in a cave was a claustrophobia attack and not the cowardice that has made her the most hated girl in town. The revelation is now made by Clare’s mother after Rachel tells her about the trick Jean pulled – playing on Clare’s claustrophobia – to get her expelled.

On the other hand, the editing also mercifully reduces some of Clare’s ordeal; for example, the hostility Clare receives from the townsfolk has been removed completely. Some of the bullying at school and the harsh treatment Clare gets from her parents has been deleted as well. The editing is pretty seamless, but there is one glitch: when Clare is pushed to the brink of suicide, she thinks the business at the club was the last straw. With the orienteering club deleted, readers must immediately have wondered “what club?” or “what’s missing here?”. They would know it’s been reprinted from somewhere else because there was always a caption saying “previously published” for the reprint material.

2912376-girl11

Cutting out material also had the unfortunate effect of removing key turning points in some plots. For example, the reprint of “Thursday’s Child” removes the scene where an evil flag forces a man to nearly saw his own hand off. Yes, it’s gruesome. But in the original run it was what made the villainess, Julie, who had been using the flag’s power to conduct a revenge campaign against her future mother, Thursday, come to her senses and realise the flag had to be destroyed.

Below is a list of the Girl Picture Libraries, along with their original titles and appearances. The only one that has not been identified is “Penny’s Best Friend” in #8. It could be that this was an original story as not all the Girl Picture Libraries carried reprints, but I need to confirm this.

  1. Patty’s World – original
  2. Dear Diary – Vision of Vanity Fayre from Tammy
  3. Patty’s World – original
  4. The Dolphin Mystery – The Disappearing Dolphin from Jinty
  5. Cathy’s Crusade – Part 1 of Cathy’s Casebook from Jinty
  6. The Old Mill – original
  7. Dr Cathy – Part 2 of Cathy’s Casebook from Jinty
  8. Penny’s Best Friend – ?
  9. Circus Waif – Wild Rose from Jinty
  10. Stormy Seas – original
  11. Moments of Terror – Waves of Fear from Jinty
  12. The Shadow – Mike and Terry from Jinty
  13. Princess Wanted! – The Perfect Princess from Jinty
  14. The Black Sheep – Black Sheep of the Bartons from Jinty
  15. I’ll Never Sing Again! – Nothing to Sing About from Jinty
  16. A Second Chance – My Heart Belongs to Buttons from Jinty
  17. Winner-Loser! – No Medals for Marie from Jinty
  18. Spellbound! – Part 1 of Sue’s Daily Dozen from Jinty, plus A Wee Sue story from Tammy reprinted as Tiny Tina
  19. Bewitched! – Part 2 of Sue’s Daily Dozen from Jinty, plus a Strange Story, “A Monumental Detective” reprinted as “The Crook Catchers”
  20. The Inheritance – Race for a Fortune from Jinty
  21. The Fortune-Teller – Cursed to be a Coward! Jinty
  22. Tina’s Temper – Temper, Temper, Tina! from Tammy
  23. Fame and Fortune – Make the Headlines, Hannah! from Tammy
  24. Wonder Girl – Betta to Lose from Tammy
  25. The Witchfinder – Shadow on the Fen from Jinty
  26. Sweet and Sour – The Sweet and Sour Rivals from Jinty
  27. Carol in Camelot – Carol in Camelot St from Tammy
  28. The Happiest Days – Tammy
  29. Thursday’s Child – Tammy
  30. A Girl Called Midnight – Tammy

Jinty 29 September 1979

click thru
click thru

Stories in this issue:

  • Almost Human (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Alley Cat
  • Village of Fame (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Mike and Terry (artist Peter Wilkes) – final episode
  • Waves of Fear (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Combing Her Golden Hair (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Miss Make-Believe (unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters) – final episode

Almost Human” Xenia is happy that the lightning strike from last episode has drained enough of her life force that she does not kill earth creatures that she touches – just as well, as a kindly couple take her to the local hospital to have her burned hands treated. But it’s not only her extraordinary strength that still marks her out as an alien: she is also not able to be x-rayed, which raises enough suspicions in the minds of the medical staff that Xenia needs to run away again – this time by jumping out of a window and down several stories! She is still super-powered enough to be able to this easily, though in future episodes this will not be the case.

In “Village of Fame“, developments are afoot. Mr Grand has had all the schoolgirls in Sue’s class hypnotised, apart from snob Angela Grenfield; Sue and ex-spy Mandy are pretending they were also caught by the hypnotist. The fact he missed one girl to his knowledge is infuriating Mr Grand, who clearly has something up his sleeve to make his serial more exciting. The pacing is neat though – the weeks are shown going by with nothing happening, until finally some lever is pulled to get Angela out of the way. Come Monday morning, only the hypnotised girls are in the class: cue the permanent replacement teacher arriving, in the form of… Marvo the hypnotist, looking as sinister as you like!

It’s the last episode of “Terry and Mike”, the girl assistant who is lauded as the person who gets all her best ideas at just the right moments. The master criminal gets away, having been revealed as the person they least expected (he was dressed up as unassuming Cornelius Mumble, the caretaker), but the detective duo managed to free all the kidnapped entertainers and rescue the necklace that was the point of the whole caper. (The villain was reenacting the night of a show when thief Jed Adams hid the stolen necklace, just before some scenery fell on him and made him lose his memory – the idea being that re-staging the night would trigger his memory, as indeed it did.) Next week we are promised the new story “My Heart Belongs to Buttons”, drawn by the same artist.

Waves of Fear” has Clare’s claustrophobia kicking in to such a degree that she runs out of her school assembly and even bites a teacher in order to get free of him as he attempts to prevent her! In “Combing Her Golden Hair”, Tamsin has smuggled a swimming costume out of the house despite her gran’s bag-checking habits. Sadly her silver comb gets mislaid in the changing room (a spot of minor bullying by classmates) and she loses her nerve as the time comes to swim. More bullying in the pool itself doesn’t help. At least by the end she has found her comb again, which encourages her to try again next time… if there is a next time.

It’s also the last episode of “Pandora’s Box”, where we’ve seen the conceited Pandora become softer-hearted as she realises how much she loves her enchanted cat, Scruffy. To save his life (he became ill while helping her cast a spell), she has to give up her heart’s desire – her part in the London musical ‘Alice in Jazzland’. Interestingly, although a lot of the imagery around Pandora and her aunt is that of stereotypical black magic – devilish statues in a circle, for instance – the spell to cure Scruffy is based around the sun, which is life. Pandora and her aunt are portrayed perhaps more like Wiccans than evil witches: they may use their magic for their own advancement but it is not clearly black or white in itself. Pandora does indeed lose her part in ‘Alice’ – and refuses to be just an understudy (more fool her in her unprofessional attitude). But actually that is the last flash of the old Pandora that we see – prompted by Scruffy, she gets her next part through proper hard work and determination, in much more the spirit that will see her have a career in show biz. Good for her! Next week we will see a different kind of pig-headedness in this slot – Bev Barton in “Black Sheep of the Bartons”, drawn by the same artist and written by Alison Christie.

Jinty 10 November 1979

JInty cover 9

It is the theme that provides the contrast between the two panels on this cover. One is dark and spooky and the other is cute and appealing, although tinged with apprehension as we are not sure if those cute doggy eyes will melt Julie’s heart.

After being drawn by a filler artist and then briefly disappearing from Jinty, “Bizzie Bet and the Easies” are back, with their regular artist.

The tension to the climax builds in “Almost Human”. Xenia is not recharging her life force because it will make her touch deadly again, but it is taking its toll. She is too tired to wake up when her mother calls with vital news. But we are told that next week someone from Xenia’s past will call with news of her home planet, so it must be to do with that. But is the news good or bad?

In “Combing Her Golden Hair”, Tamsin is on her way to Redruthan, so the mystery is finally unravelling. But so is Gran’s health, and Tamsin has left her behind when Gran needs her.

Clare finally gets what she needs in “Waves of Fear” – someone to support her and offer understanding, not be over-judgemental and harsh, and stick up for her against the bullying. Unfortunately Clare doesn’t get the same thing from anyone in authority, not even her parents, because they think she’s a coward like the rest of the people who hate her. So she has no protection from the trick Jean pulls in this issue to get her expelled. And it looks like it’s going to succeed, unfortunately. But even if it does, surely it can’t last for long. Sooner or later the truth will out. It always does in girls’ comics.

“The Black Sheep of the Bartons” takes one step closer to being expelled in this issue as well. The headmistress is furious that Bev failed her exams because she was sneaking off to judo instead of swotting! If Bev doesn’t turn around fast she could be out on her ear. But will she?

In “My Heart Belongs to Buttons”, Julie is finally getting close to Buttons II. But naughty Buttons chews up the rosettes Julie won with Buttons I. This could set things back in the next issue….

And in “Village of Fame”, spoilt Angela finds out that it’s no good running away if you can’t do basics like fixing up food because everything’s always been done for you. But there’s one silver lining – Angela knows a secret passage that can help Mandy and Sue to get one up on the villains. And it gives us the nice spooky panel for the cover.

Jinty 3 November 1979

JInty cover 8

  • Almost Human (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Alley Cat
  • Hallowe’en Crossword
  • Village of Fame (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Competition pages
  • My Heart Belongs to Buttons (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Pony Parade Poster part 1
  • Combing Her Golden Hair (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Miss Make-Believe (unknown artist – Merry)
  • Jinty Fashion Contest – more winners
  • Waves of Fear (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Black Sheep of the Bartons (artist Guy Peeters, writer Alison Christie)

Jinty’s new competition and part 1 of her four-part pony poster knock all serials or Halloween/Guy Fawkes celebrations off the cover in this issue. The only thing honouring Halloween is the crossword; there are no regulars strips (Jinx from St Jonah’s, Fran’ll Fix It or even Bizzie Bet and the Easies) that could be used to commemorate Halloween or Guy Fawkes. There is no Gypsy Rose either to bring us a spooky story to celebrate Halloween at least. Even Alley Cat is up to business as usual.

And what drama in the stories have been pushed off the cover this week? Xenia, the “Almost Human”, finds herself in a life-or-death dilemma. She discovers that the lightning strike is draining her life force. She will die if she does not recharge herself with her medikit. But if she does, her touch will be deadly to Earth life again!

In “Village of Fame”, spoilt Angela is causing even more problems for our heroines because she wants revenge on her grandfather and blackmails them into helping her with it. Worse, Mr Grand announces that he is going to produce evidence that his TV serial is not harmful for the village of Fame. That can mean only one thing – something harmful! And from the sound of it, it’s going to be the climax of the story as well.

Julie begins to take to Buttons II after the dog runs away, but she feels disloyal to Buttons I.

In “Combing Her Golden Hair”, the mystery of Redruthan begins to unravel slightly, while Gran suddenly falls ill. We are told that Tamsin is off to Redruthan next week, so another climax is clearly approaching.

In “Waves of Fear”, Clare the outcast finally finds a friend and some respite from her ordeal in the form of orienteering. But Clare’s enemies are putting on the pressure to get her expelled, and spiteful Jean has a plan to do just that.

“The Black Sheep of the Bartons” finally does something right – she uses her judo to foil some burglars out to steal the school trophies. This becomes the only thing standing between her and expulsion. But what with Bev bunking off to judo when she should be swotting for exams and still needing to change her selfish attitude, expulsion may only be a matter of time. So we have two girls in danger of expulsion in the same issue! We shall be following their stories to see if that happens.