As the cover shows, Xenia tries her hand at horse riding and the results are not smooth. Xenia also adjusts a telescope so she can see her home world. But this means she has given herself away to the astronomy family she is staying with. She takes off, not hearing their shouts that they are the best people to help her. Oh well, let’s see if they will help later in the story.
In “Waves of Fear“, Clare’s parents are definitely not the best people to help her. She has escaped certain death in the cave, but even this does not cut any ice with them. They’re treating her more harshly than ever instead of hugging her and saying, “Oh, it’s a miracle, thank God you’re all right.” The headmistress isn’t much better; she calls the bullies who were responsible for nearly killing Clare “poor girls”! However, we get a hint that the person who is the best one to help Clare has finally shown up – a woman who saw the terrified state Clare was in when she fled the cave and was deeply concerned. Unfortunately, we are also warned that things will get even worse for Clare next week. Will this new character be able to help Clare enough against it?
The school staff in “My Heart Belongs to Buttons” aren’t any more professional than Clare’s headmistress. They put Julie in a lower form because her schoolwork has deteriorated since her dog’s death. They know about Julie being in grief, but they don’t show her any sympathy or understanding: “Excuses can’t make up for slack and lazy behaviour. You’ve let us all down, Julie.”
“The Black Sheep of the Bartons” discovers judo and her vocation in life. But her irresponsible behaviour has caused her parents to take a hostile attitude to her judo. Not the best of starts, and Bev can’t see that it’s her own fault for being so selfish and not thinking of others more.
In “Combing Her Golden Hair”, Tamsin confronts her gran and father over the way she has been forced into plaits, unnecessary glasses and hand-me-down clothes. But it just seems to make things worse – gran confiscates all the mirrors in the house. But of course gran has reckoned without the comb, and now it is dropping more clues about the mystery of Tamsin’s origins.
“Village of Fame” is now being told that they’re being visited by flying saucers. Sue finds out that Grand and Marvo are setting the stage for faking a UFO abduction, but how can she stop them? She has lost her only ally, Mandy, because her uncle has sent her back to London.
“Full of gripping fiction of all kinds!” says the cover, and it starts off with a disturbing imminent image of child abuse – Gran is about to cut off Tamsin’s hair. Fortunately Dad has gotten home on shore leave in the nick of time and stops her. Tamsin finds out he knows the reason for Gran’s conduct, but he won’t tell her. Meanwhile, Tamsin goes into open rebellion against her Gran by smashing the glasses Gran forces her to wear now she has realised they are just plain glass. The mystery is deepening in all directions. And we are told it is going to get even deeper next week when Tamsin confronts her gran.
In “Waves of Fear”, Clare’s parents have become so harsh with her that they say they don’t have a daughter anymore. Their words seem more prophetic than they realise because in this episode it looks like they are about to lose Clare altogether. Not knowing what else to do, Clare heads back to the cave to understand her panic. But she becomes overwhelmed by it again, and then by the bullies at school, who throw her into the cave pool. But they didn’t know there was an extremely powerful current below, and now it looks like Clare is going to drown. More gripping stuff here too!
It’s part two of “The Black Sheep of the Bartons”. Bev finds that the academy is not bringing her the freedom she expected – the school has its rules too, and they’re even more maddening for Bev than her parents’ rules. She’s up in rebellion against them, happy to be the black sheep of the school, and is oblivious to the fact that she is putting herself on the road to expulsion. Something needs to happen, and the blurb for the next issue tells us it’s going to be judo. Will judo save Bev from expulsion? And in part two of “My Heart Belongs to Buttons”, Julie is having a hard time with the new dog. Clearly it has been too soon and the new dog has reopened Julie’s grief.
In “Village of Fame”, Mandy begins to transcend her selfishness and agrees to help Sue. But the baddies are keeping one step ahead of them and have destroyed a vital piece of evidence. Next week we are told that Mandy is going to disappear. Yikes! How far is Mandy’s crooked uncle going to go there?
We have a very interesting quiz in this issue – do you know enough to take on Miss Know-All? You know, the sanctimonious know-all who is constantly showing off his/her knowledge and putting everyone else down with it? This quiz certainly tests your general knowledge, and don’t we wish we could put down a know-all? But they’re not easy because they always like to come up with some new knowledge to show off with.
Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
Village of Fame (artist Jim Baikie)
Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
My Heart Belongs to Buttons – first episode (artist Peter Wilkes)
Jinty Meets a Puppy-Walker – feature
Are You in Good Shape? Quiz
Waves of Fear (artist Phil Gascoine)
Combing Her Golden Hair (artist Phil Townsend)
Miss Make-Believe (unknown artist – Merry)
Black Sheep of the Bartons – first episode (artist Guy Peeters, writer Alison Christie)
This issue of Jinty begins two new stories, “Black Sheep of the Bartons” and “My Heart Belongs to Buttons”. The first is about Bev Barton, a rebel without a cause who styles herself as the black sheep of the family. She hates living on her parents’ ‘boring’ farm, chafes under their rules, and wants more freedom. She thinks the academy is the answer to her quest for freedom and is now taking the scholarship exam for it. Boy, is she going to find out! This story was written by Alison Christie. Christie has not claimed authorship of the other new story, “My Heart Belongs to Buttons”, but it ought to be one of her stories, because it’s a tear-jerker story about a girl who is not coping with loss of her dog well, and she keeps rejecting the new dog.
Meanwhile, people are beginning to notice Xenia’s strange powers in “Almost Human”, and policemen are among those taking an interest – uh, oh…. She manages to save a boy’s life without touching him, but is on the run again and the interest in her is intensifying.
Clare’s “Waves of Fear” are getting worse and worse, as Clare discovers when she desperately tries to visit Rachel in hospital, but the waves of fear drive her off. And it’s not just the waves of fear that are getting worse – so are the trouble at school and the hatred against Clare because everyone thinks it’s cowardice and they treat her like a criminal. People are giving her funny glances in the street now and refusing to serve her in the market. Even Clare’s parents are part of the crowd; Clare gets nothing but harshness from them and the final panel has Dad saying, “I don’t think we’ve got a daughter anymore.” What does that mean – they’ve disowned her or something? As if that wasn’t bad enough, it looks like worse is to follow next week, and we are told that this will take the form of a “cruel reward” for Clare.
In “Combing Her Golden Hair”, Gran isn’t much better than Clare’s parents – she finds Tamsin combing her golden hair and goes so wild that she’s about to cut Tamsin’s hair off!
In “Village of Fame“, Marvo’s hypnotic powers over the class has them throwing a hockey match, and nobody is listening to Sue when she tries to tell them what is going on. This is the price she is paying for spinning so many tall tales in the past. Mandy, the only other person to know what is going on, is currently not willing to help. Something has to change her mind because she looks like the only hope Sue has right now.
Jinty has used Hugh Thornton-Jones as a filler artist before; he took over two of her serials originally drawn by Mario Capaldi. Here he takes over from Richard Neillands for “Bizzie Bet and the Easies”. But in a couple of months he will start a Jinty story of his very own – “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” – and will draw it right up to Jinty’s final issue in 1981.
Alison Christie is credited with writing a number of stories in Tammy. She recently contacted this blog and clarified that she also wrote a number of stories for Jinty and other IPC titles, as well as for a number of DC Thompson titles. She continues to write for children, using her married name, so do look for Alison Mary Fitt when searching her out! She kindly agreed to do an email interview for this blog, for which many thanks are due.
Questions for her:
1 I saw a little on the Scottish Book Trust site that you started writing for DC Thomson on leaving school. Can you tell me a bit more about writing for girls’ comics and how long that career lasted? For instance, what titles did you write for, and on what basis (in house, freelance)? You said on the Scottish Book Trust site that you were “at one point turning out an episode a week for six picture story serials” – when would this have been, and how did you even manage it?!
On leaving school I worked in DC Thomson as a junior sub editor on Bunty, and was soon subbing scripts that came in from freelance writers. However, at that time, some of the serials were written in-house, so I got my first chance to write a serial, called “Queen of the Gypsies”. Later, I was moved to their new nursery comics which came out by the name of Bimbo, then Little Star, then Twinkle for girls. I wrote lots of text- and picture-stories for these, in house – though freelancers were used as well. After I got married, I still worked in-house at DCs… but then had 3 children in quick succession – so left and went freelance, submitting scripts for Twinkle, which had replaced the other two titles. I also freelanced for the various DC’s girls magazines, Judy, Debbie, Mandy, Nikki, Tracy etc…writing picture stories for them, though oddly enough, didn’t ever submit any story-line to Bunty, the mag I started on.
Then I thought I’d branch out and give IPC a go, and submitted a story-line to Mavis Miller of Jinty [at that point still editor of June & Schoolfriend] . She accepted it right away, and there began my freelance work for IPC, with June, Jinty, then Tammy, some stories for Misty – and, later, when the magazine Dreamer (for younger girls) started, and included photo stories, I wrote a serial called “Who Stole Samantha?” about a missing doll. Dreamer was short-lived, however, as was Penny, another IPC mag for younger girls. I wrote a serial for that entitled “Waifs of the Waterfall”. I have to say DC Thomson was a great training-ground as far as writing picture stories was concerned.
Sadly, Jinty/Tammy bit the dust around 1985, and suddenly vanished without any notification of this to their writers or artists. I continued writing for the DC Thomson stable of girls’ papers, but they all gradually gave up the ghost.
I have never stopped writing, though – and am now writing children’s books.
Six serials a week? Yes, at one point I was doing this, despite having 3 young children, working mostly at night when they were in bed. One of the freelance writers for one of the DC girl’s papers had died, and I was asked to finish his serials – so, along with 3 other serials for DC girl’s mags, plus a couple for Tammy and Jinty, that made six stories at that particular time.
2 What stories did you write in your comics career? Are there specific ones that stand out to you at this distance in time (for good or for ill)?
Alison reviewed her files and supplied the following list of stories that she wrote, with her own summaries
“The Grays Fight Back” (First story submitted to Mavis Miller, who was then editor of June & Schoolfriend, about a troubled family.)
War-time stories written for Mavis Miller / Jinty
“My Name is Nobody” (orphaned child in London Blitz who couldn’t remember her name) written for June & Schoolfriend when MM was the editor of that title [identified on the Comics UK Forum as “Nobody Knows My Name”, starting in the 20 November 1971 edition of June. It was illustrated by Carlos Freixas.]
Gypsy Rose stories incl ‘The Eternal Flame’ (22 Oct 1977)
[No Medals for Marie]
Jinty & Lindy serial
“For Peter’s Sake!” (Girl pushing her Gran’s old pram from Scotland to England for her baby brother Peter)
Tammy & Jinty serial
“Lara the Loner” (girl who hated crowds)
“A Gran for the Gregorys”
“The Button Box” (series)
“Cassie’s Coach” (Three children living in an old coach in London in Victorian times)
See also the list on Catawiki of titles credited to her – from issue 590 to 684 (last issue of Tammy was 691). NB number 590 was the first one to regularly credit creators and it stopped doing that a bit before 684 by the looks of it. Titles in [square brackets] below are credited to Alison Christie on that source.
[It’s A Dog’s Life Tammy 1983 623 – 629]
[Room for Rosie Tammy 1983 646 – 667]
Tammy complete stories
Olwyn’s Elm A storyteller story, may have been published in another title?
Bethlehem’s Come to Us (Christmas 1983 issue)
Message of a Flower
[Dreams Can Wait]
Serials for other titles
“Second Fiddle to Sorcha” (musical story) published in one of the DCT titles [identified on the Comics UK Forum: “Second Fiddle To Sorcha} ran in Mandy 880 (26 November 1983) – 887 (14 January 1984)]
I wrote more stories for Jinty than Tammy for, having firstly written for June & Schoolfriend (edited by Mavis Miller), I then wrote for Jinty when she became editress of that. When I finally took a trip down to King’s Reach Tower to meet her in person, I was then introduced to Wilfred Prigmore of Tammy, and began writing for Tammy as well. I was writing for Mavis in 1971. I know this because that’s when the youngest of my 3 children was born, and being hospitalised and hooked up on a drip, I was still writing my current serial for her, and I remember she commented, ‘That’s devotion to duty!’
I may well have written more serials than these, but foolishly did not keep files of them all.
I loved writing them all – but liked the heart-tuggers best, of which there were plenty! I think “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was one of my favourites. I had the 3 children spending Christmas in a concrete pill-box. On mentioning this to my driving instructor at the time, who was a retired army major, he said, “Must have been bloody cold!” I liked “Always Together” too – and “Stefa’s Heart of Stone”.
3 You have mentioned separately that Keith Robson asked you in later years whether you were the writer on “The Goose Girl”, so clearly artists didn’t (always?) know who wrote the stories they worked on. Was this the usual way of doing things? It looks like many of your stories were illustrated by Phil Townsend; how aware of this in advance were you, and did it mean that for instance you had the chance to write to his strengths, or anything like that?
No, artists would not likely know who wrote the stories they worked on, unless the name of the writer was somewhere on the script. I had no say at all in who illustrated my stories, just sent them in, and the Editors farmed them out to an artist. Which is why I had no idea it was Keith Robson illustrating the Goose-girl, not that at the point I’d have known who he was. Only when Tammy started to put the author and illustrator’s names in, did I know who the illustrators were, mostly Phil Townsend and Mario Capaldi, both talented artists. I never met or communicated with either of them.
4 On the blog, we’d love to fill in more names of people associated with Jinty and related titles. Do you remember any other writers or artists that you worked with or knew of? Do you have any memories of working with them, directly or indirectly?
Sorry, but I don’t know of any artists, writers, who wrote for Tammy, Jinty, at that time – being freelance and working from home meant I didn’t meet any. I did meet Mavis Miller , the Jinty editor – but then she left to get married and I did not hear any more about her, though I did try to find out for a while. Also met Wilfred Prigmore.
I know of Pat Mills (who at one time had the temerity to write on a blog that females were no use writing for girl’s magazines such as Jinty -men were better at it! He worked in DCTs then down at IPC himself, and wrote for Tammy and possibly Jinty.)
But I have never actually met him. I did know the in-house artists at DCTs, but mostly freelance artists were used from outside, and I didn’t know them either.
5 Clearly there were similarities in your stories for Jinty: they were often tear-jerkers (Stefa, Bow Street Runner, Somewhere Over The Rainbow) and many of them illustrated by the same artist. Perhaps because they were drawn by different artists, I would identify a slightly different vibe about some other stories: The Goose Girl about independence, and Darling Clementine, a sports story with a ‘misunderstood’ angle. Were you ever asked to write to specified themes, formulas, or ideas given by the editorial department, or were you left to your own devices and inspiration?
Yes, I was asked to write to a specific theme, but only once. Mavis Miller asked me to write a serial based on Catherine Cookson’s The Dwelling Place. Which resulted in “Always Together”.
Many thanks again to Alison for sending in all this information – and of course for writing so many of these excellent and well-loved stories in the first place! Many thanks also to the folk on the Comics UK Forum for the detective work in finding some original titles and dates of publications noted above.
Edited to add a couple of follow-up questions and points of information:
6 You mention DCTs as a great training ground for writing comics serials. Can you tell us anything of the tips or techniques you either were specifically taught, or learned by osmosis? For instance, the style of these comics is to plunge straight into the story headlong – in The Spell of the Spinning Wheel, the father is lamed in the first couple of pages – and the protagonists are very central to every page and indeed almost every panel of the story, so that very little is told without reference to that main character. And perhaps there are also differences between boys’ comics of the time, with lots of action and less mystery, and girls’ comics?
Re training in DCT, nobody actually ‘trained’ me – but subbing other freelancers’ scripts as they came in was very informative. Can’t think why as a seventeen year old, (I was only sixteen when I started on the Bunty) I was allowed to do this – but after all this subbing I had a fair idea how to write scripts myself. The main point was to keep the story flowing from picture to picture – thus the captions at the top or sometimes bottom were important connectors to the following picture. Also, the last picture was always a cliff-hanger – so the reader would want to buy the comic the next week! The stories always had a main character, who did feature in all or most of the pictures, either prominently or in the background, which was fair enough, as the story was all about them.
Re boy’s comics at the time – yes, they were action-based, fighting, war stories, and adventures as you would expect, not full of emotional stories like the girl’s comics were.
7 Did you keep any copies of the original scripts? Have you ever (did you at the time ever) compare the script you wrote with the resulting printed version, and notice differences, big or small, for better or for worse?
Yes, I have copies of some of the original DCT stories I wrote for their girl’s comics. Re comparing my original script to what it ended up as on a printed page – I guess there might have been some minor changes to the text, as they likely had people subbing freelance stories that came in down in IPC too. I really can’t remember. But I was always happy with the artwork on all my stories.
Alison also clarified that she wrote both “I’ll Make Up For Mary” in Jinty, and in 1986 the similarly-titled “I Must Fall Out With Mary”, published in Mandy. She also wrote “Tina’s Telly Mum” in Tammy, and “No Medals for Marie” in Jinty. Less certainly, she wrote ‘a short story … for Tammy, about a girl leaving school, junior school it was, a kind of whimsical tale about a girl who, on her leaving day, is very glad to escape all the horrible things she’s had to put up with there… but, at the very end, is hanging her school tie on the railing, and thinking, So why am I so sad at leaving then?… I think it was called Goodbye school, or Leaving Day, or something. ‘ And ‘”My Shining Sister”, a Tammy story, also rang a bell. I did write a story about Marnie, the daughter of an astrologer, who found a girl in a field, who is dazed as she’s had some kind of fall. Marnie’s family take her in, and she becomes the sister that only child Marnie has ever wanted. However, the girl, Sorcha, turns out to be one of the Seven sister stars… and has somehow fallen to earth…. Sorcha keeps being drawn to the number six – aka she has six sisters – Marnie tries to stop her seeing or being with groups of six girls, or going on a number six bus… in case she remembers where she has come from. If I remember right, Marnie has already worked out Sorcha is a fallen star. Anyway, story ends I think with Marnie helping her to return to her sisters, realising this is where she really belongs – but happily still sees her ‘sister’ through her dad’s telescope. I don’t know if you have a Tammy issue with “My Shining Sister” in it… but, unless some other writer has written a similar story, ie at the time when credits were being given to writers and artists… I have a feeling this is my story also?’
Many apologies for the long break in between posts. Life has got hectic and the run-up to Christmas didn’t help!
Stories featuring sports are very prevalent across the range of girls’ comics titles. This clearly taps into both the day-to-day experiences of many or most schoolgirls (playing on their hockey or netball teams) and into aspirational ideals (winning regional or national contests, going on to have a career in their chosen sport, excelling at unusual sports). At one end of this theme, many many stories will have some element of sports included, simply as a part of the protagonist’s daily life; I don’t count these as “sports stories” per se. At the other end of the spectrum, there are stories that are clearly mostly about the pursuit of excellence in the protagonist’s chosen sport, with a sprinkling of some complicating factor to spice the story up, such as peer rivalry. And in between there are stories where the sports element are strongly included but given a reasonably equal weighting with other elements.
To me, therefore, a “sports story” needs to feature the sport in question as the main story element, or with equal weight with the other elements. Often the story positively teaches us various details of that sport in a didactic way, as if part of the expectation is that readers might have their interest sparked by that story and go on to take it up themselves. The protagonist is someone who takes seriously the idea of practice, learning, improvement in their chosen area: they are not just naturally gifted without trying at all, and part of the drive of the story is about their drive to improve or to excel.
It seems obvious, but it also needs to be a sport not an art: as you would expect, there are plenty of ballet stories, and these are excluded from my categorisation. Ballet has its rivalries but it is not a competition with winners and losers, except in artificial ways that the writer might set up (for instance in “The Kat and Mouse Game”, the ‘winner’ gains a contract with an influential ballet impresario).
Finally, it is worth remembering Jinty also had a strong focus on sports in ways that lay outside of the stories themselves: for a period of time there was a specific sports section in the comic, with articles about specific sports, improvement hints and tips (such as how to win at a bully-off in hockey), and interviews with sports women and men. Over and above this, there was a lengthy period where Mario Capaldi drew cover images illustrating a very wide range of sports – netball and rounders, yes, but also archery, bob-sledding, ski-jumping… These are not sports stories, but form part of the context in which the sports-themed stories need to be read.
There are so many strong sports stories that it is hard to choose a single one as a core example. A wide range of sports are represented: ones that a schoolgirl might well have direct experience of such as hockey, gymnastics, running; and more unusual ones like judo, water-skiing, and figure skating.
“White Water” (1979-80), drawn by Jim Baikie and included in the sports section that Jinty ran for a year or so from late 1979, is a classic example of a story that includes teachable elements as well as dramatic ones. Bridie is in a sailing accident with her father, who is killed: her grieving mother moves them away from the sea and into an industrial city that depresses Bridie mightily. As well as grieving for her father, she also has a gammy leg that was badly hurt in the accident, so Bridie is pretty fed up; but she then finds out about a local canoe club. She is determined to learn canoeing, especially once she is told about sea or white-water canoeing. Along the way there are rivalries and misunderstandings – her mother hates the idea of Bridie doing anything at all like sailing, and the existing star of the canoe club doesn’t like the challenge represented by this bright (and sometimes tetchy) new member. But the story includes lots of information about canoeing techniques, certainly enough to either help interest a reader in the sport, or even to help someone already learning it.
You can see below the wide range of sports represented in Jinty.
Life’s A Ball for Nadine (1981) – netball (and disco dancing, competitively)
As ever, there are clearly-related stories that don’t quite fit in the main theme. Sports are such a pervasive trope in the life of Jinty and other girls’ comics precisely because they were an important part of many girls’ school lives. Of course they also made up a big part of other popular fiction read by girls; it becomes a reinforcing theme that is always available for use.
Jackie’s Two Lives (1974-75) – features a mentally disturbed woman grieving over her late daughter and trying to recreate her in another girl, but also features horse riding and show-jumping
Wanda Whiter than White (1975-6) – the main story theme is constant trouble with an interfering, tale-telling girl, but also features horse riding and show-jumping
Champion In Hiding (1976) – the champion in question is a sheepdog, trained to win at dog trials
Rose Among the Thornes (1976) – the main story theme is family rivalry, but there are sections where Rose is involved in running races in her local village
Stage Fright! (1977) – includes some realistic elements of sailing
Land of No Tears (1977-78) – gymnastics and swimming as part of the futuristic competition to find the most perfect schoolgirl
The Changeling (1978) – main character loves horseriding and this is used as part of the abusive family/wishfulfilment story
Knight and Day (1978) – really a story about an abusive family but includes a family rivalry based around swimming and competitive diving
Paula’s Puppets (1978) – a story of magical objects and group strife, but includes elements of athletics (running)
Combing Her Golden Hair (1979) – a strange comb has the protagonist rebelling against her strict grandmother, whose rules include a ban on swimming
Freda’s Fortune (1981) – mostly wish-fulfilment gone wrong, with horseriding
Worlds Apart (1981) – each dream-like parallel world featured a society built around an individual’s interests, and this included a sporty girl’s world
This is probably one of the most pervasive themes you could possibly have in a girls’ comic; no doubt those who are expert in other comics titles will be able to mention many more examples of stories and of unusual sports featured in them. Reviewing the list above, I am surprised not so much by the number of stories as of the range of sports included. Of course the sports that girls played on a regular basis at school – hockey, swimming, athletics, netball, running – would feature in the girls’ comics. Even then, the weighting of specific sports doesn’t seem entirely even, mind you – in Jinty there was only one netball story compared to two or three hockey stories, and a few athletics stories. There is a noticeable absence of lacrosse stories despite the fact they are a staple of girls school prose fiction (I am sure they must be included in some other comics titles). I also don’t recall any rounders stories, which was a very typical summer sport for girls to play.
I am sure that other titles included some aspirational sports such as figure-skating or show-jumping as Jinty did, and the inclusion of some ordinary if less usual sports such as orienteering doesn’t seem unlikely either. However, the fact that skate-boarding, table-tennis, and judo were included as part of the range of stories shows, I think, that Jinty wanted to push the boat out and include elements that were not just a bit unusual, but also modern, fresh, and popular in the wider world: elements that were not marked as ‘élite’ and expensive.
Another of my favourite Jinty covers, drawn by Jim Baikie. The creepiness of the theme is brilliantly induced by the use of complementary colours with the orange and yellow mesmeric circles around Marvo’s head and the blue background, and the cross-hatching on Sue’s face.
It is, of course from Village of Fame. The story now reaches its penultimate episode, with Marvo using mass hypnotism to mesmerise the whole village into believing that Mr Grand’s TV serial is good for them. Worst of all, Sue Parker, the girl who has opposed Grand all along, is falling under the spell as well. Something needs to happen fast in the next episode!
Almost Human is on its penultimate episode as well. Xenia’s mother has been trying to tell her something important but can’t get through. Then it happens with one of the moons of Xenia’s home planet suddenly exploding! Xenia is distraught, but is it all what it seems?
Combing Her Golden Hair is approaching its climax, with Tamsin running off to Redruthan, her birthplace. We know that soon Tamsin is going to discover what Gran has been keeping from her all these years. Waves of Fear is approaching its climax too, what with Clare’s latest bout of panic getting her expelled thanks to nasty Jean. Priscilla Heath, the only adult who has not been judgemental to Clare, now begins to realise Clare needs serious help. The trouble is, nobody else does. As usual, Clare’s parents react with anger and harshness because they are working on the assumption that she is a coward and delinquent. And in Black Sheep of the Bartons, Bev Barton is in more trouble with her parents as well – and on Christmas Day!
This is the issue after the one that Mistyfan posted about recently with one of her favourite Jinty covers of all. This one is also a beautiful cover, to my mind, though not quite reaching the heights of the one with Tamsin and the mirror. It’s celebrating a new development for Jinty: the sports pages and sports section it is well-known for too. This issue has an article on swimmer Sharron Davies, who was then only about 16, in addition to two new sports-based stories.
“Combing Her Golden Hair” is coming to a climactic end, as Tamsin’s gran discharges herself from hospital: “It’s no good just telling the police – they could never understand the nature of the peril that awaits you there, Tamsin! I am the only one who can fight it – and I must, even to my last breath!” Perhaps the gran has good reasons for her harsh and stern ways, after all? And the last panel is a good cliffhanger: her mother is still alive after all, and trying to get her to come – under the sea to live as a mermaid too!
“Waves of Fear” is also coming towards an end. Spiteful Jean has wrecked the orienteering club that is one of Clare’s only places to be happy, and left an incriminating token behind in the form of Clare’s hankie. The only option left seems to be to run away. In the meantime, though, her friend Rachel is managing to weasel out of Jean the story behind Clare’s expulsion.
The first of the two new sports stories is “Toni on Trial”. Toni is a talented runner who has very recently been orphaned; she moves town to live with her mother’s parents, who she didn’t know at all because her mother ran away at 16. The first evening at her new home seems to go smoothly, until she notices and comments on a photo of her mother winning a running race – at which point her grandfather gets suddenly and unwontedly angry… not a good sign of what’s ahead!
Likewise in “White Water” tragedy is part of the story start-up. Bridie Mason and her father spent every spare moment on board their boat “White Water”, until the accident that killed her father and lamed Bridie. Her widowed mother moves them far inland, away from the sea that her daughter still loves but which she blames bitterly.
The last story in the issue is also a sports story, but as it started before the new section it is not branded as such. Bev, “The Black Sheep of the Bartons”, has been expelled from her school and is back home, corralled and trammeled. Of course that’s going to lead her into doing rebellious, unwise things: in this case, putting her timid young sister on a rough boy’s scrambler bike, to shake up her ‘dull little life’. Not very kind, and we get a hint that next week likewise Bev’s lack of empathy is going to cause more harm.
Stories in this issue:
Combing Her Golden Hair (artist Phil Townsend)
Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)
This is one of my favourite Jinty covers. It is so hard to take your eyes off it. Its composition is simple, but is the stuff of fairy tales. It is of course from Combing Her Golden Hair. Tamsin has reached Redruthan and is beginning to decipher the mystery surrounding her birth and the reasons for her gran’s strict ways that border on the bizarre and even abusive at times. We are promised that next week Tamsin will discover the strangest secret of all. And judging by the way the story has been building up all along, we have a sneaky suspicion as to what – or rather, who – that will be.
In this issue we see the end of three stories: Almost Human, Village of Fame and Miss Make-Believe. Combing Her Golden Hair and Waves of Fear look like they are also approaching their conclusions because their climaxes are building up fast. That means we will see more new stories coming soon after the new lineup that starts next week. In Waves of Fear, Clare is finally pushed too far and runs away (it had to happen). And it’s still not enough for her enemies. Her parents still think they have an out-of-control daughter whom they just rant and rave at while arch-enemy Jean, who is responsible for Clare’s expulsion, is now trying to frame her for vandalism at the orienteering club. Meanwhile, Tamsin finds a mirror that matches her comb, so the mystery of the comb is about to unravel.
When several stories end at once, it is often a sign that the next issue is going to be big and exciting. And it is. Next issue (which I unfortunately do not have), Jinty starts her sports pages. And to kick her sports pages off, Jinty starts two sport-themed stories: White Water and Toni on Trial.
And what is a glumitt? It’s a cross between a glove and a mitt, and there are instructions on how to make one on the back cover. One of the things that Jinty teaches us how to make in the issues that lead up to Christmas. And it starts on the centre pages, where we are given tips for touching up our Christmas gifts.
As the cover depicts, this is the issue where we see the debut of Jinty‘s most enduring regular, “Pam of Pond Hill”. She was the most enduring because she lasted through the merger with Tammy and became a Tammy regular. Pam was, of course, the Jinty version of Grange Hill. Her strip opens with her telling us how her first day at Pond Hill went. You get a pretty good idea of how it goes when the aniseed balls Pam’s gran gave her go over the landing and onto the heads of sixth formers below! Pam finds a kindred spirit in her form teacher, Miss Peeble. It’s Miss Peeble’s first day at ‘The Pond’ too, and she is off to a bad start as well. We know things will get better, but what do our newcomers go through in the meantime?
As well as starting a new story, this issue sees off three stories. “Waves of Fear” ends with Clare striving for redemption for her original failure by rescuing Rachel, who is facing another accident in the cave. And Rachel, who originally demanded to know why Clare ran off the first time, is the one who now tells her why – claustrophobia, not cowardice. Waves of Fear will be replaced by another Phil Gascoine story, “When Statues Walk…”, the following week. Jinty sure liked to keep Gascoine busy, didn’t she? “Spirit of the Lake” takes over from “My Heart Belongs to Buttons” in the next issue. The regular humour strip, “Bizzie Bet and the Easies”, will replaced by a more enduring one, “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost”, the following week. And a fourth strip, “Black Sheep of the Bartons” is now on its penultimate episode. This means we see another new story for the Christmas or New Year issue. Well, it is December after all. December is a time for farewelling the old and bringing in the new for next year.
You might call Jinty‘s 1979 Christmas strip, “Tale of the Panto Cat”, a grinch story. Bossy Verna wants to pull all the strings of her youth club’s Christmas panto and be star of the show as well. When she does not get her way because everyone is getting fed up with her, she sets out to ruin the panto. We eagerly wait to see what role the Christmas season will play here.
Another beautiful Phil Townsend cover, from one of my favourite stories: “Combing Her Golden Hair”. There were a number of striking covers from this story, in fact. Tamsin lives with her strict gran, who is so strict we are led to think in terms of a slave story or emotional abuse as in “Mark of the Witch!“. However, spookier and stranger things are going on; the controlling or slave element is seen not just in the relations with the adult in the story but also with the silver comb that Tamsin has found.
In “Almost Human“, Xenia is enjoying being able to integrate with human society but is getting weaker physically, so the end of the story is heading towards us…
A story forgotten from the story-list is “My Heart Belongs to Buttons”, a realistic story of training a puppy to be a guide dog. Julie is heart-broken when her old dog Buttons died; her parents suggest that they become puppy-walkers for the Guide Dogs For the Blind Association. Julie finds it very hard to see another dog, even an engaging puppy, in her beloved Buttons’ place. Of course in the end her heart will be melted – but this puppy isn’t to stay with them, she has to go on to her new blind owner…
Another couple of realistic stories in this issue are “Waves of Fear” (bullying and claustrophobia handled sensitively by the writer and pretty badly by all the adults in the story) and “Black Sheep of the Bartons”. The latter is a sports story featuring the unusual sport of judo. Not totally realistic, of course: it also has the trope of hair colour enforcing outcome, in that Bev is the only family member who has black hair and both feels and is treated differently accordingly. I mean what, do they think she’s an illegitimate child or something?
Stories in this issue:
Almost Human (artist Terry Aspin)
Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)