Tag Archives: Bow Street Runner

Alison Christie: Interview

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.

Alison Mary Fitt
Alison Mary Fitt, credited in Tammy as Alison Christie

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.]
  • Daddy’s Darling” (spoilt girl evacuee)
  • “Somewhere over the Rainbow” (This ran for 36 weeks)

 Other Jinty stories

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)

 Tammy serials

  • “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)]
  • [edited to add: “I Must Fall Out With Mary!” published in Mandy in 1986]

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?’

Story theme: Sports

Many apologies for the long break in between posts. Life has got hectic and the run-up to Christmas didn’t help!

Jinty and Penny cover 7 February 1981

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.

Core examples

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.

  • Prisoners of Paradise Island (1974) – hockey
  • Hettie High and Mighty (1975) – hockey
  • Ping-Pong Paula (1975) – table tennis
  • Tricia’s Tragedy (1975) – swimming
  • Miss No-Name (1976) – athletics
  • Go On, Hate Me! (1976-77) – athletics, particularly running
  • Battle of the Wills (1977) – gymnastics and ballet.
  • Concrete Surfer (1977) – skateboarding
  • Cursed to be a Coward! (1977) – swimming
  • Curtain of Silence (1977) – cycling
  • Spell of the Spinning Wheel (1977) – cross-country running
  • Darling Clementine (1978) – water-skiing
  • Wild Rose (1978) – gymnastics
  • Black Sheep of the Bartons (1979) – judo
  • Prisoner of the Bell (1979) – gymnastics
  • Waves of Fear (1979) – swimming/hockey/orienteering
  • Toni on Trial (1979-80) – athletics
  • White Water (1979-80) – sailing/canoeing (see above for details)
  • Blind Faith (1980) – showjumping
  • Tears of a Clown (1980) – long-distance running
  • Child of the Rain (1980) – tennis
  • Minnow (1980) – swimming
  • Spirit of the Lake (1980) – figure-skating
  • Tearaway Trisha (1980) – cycling
  • The Bow Street Runner (1981) – long-distance running
  • Diving Belle (1981) – high-diving
  • Life’s A Ball for Nadine (1981) – netball (and disco dancing, competitively)

 

Edge cases

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
  • Holiday Hideaway (1981) – protagonist has gymnastic skills
  • 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

 

Other thoughts

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.

Phil Townsend

Phil Townsend is not an artist whose life and career I know much about. It seems from Bear Alley that he was a contributor to the sixties title Boys’ World and probably also illustrated some children’s books (but the thorough Steve Holland had not at the time of writing that post found any more information). He was a regular Jinty artist from very early on: while not in the very first issue, his beautiful clean style appeared in the title within the first couple of months of publication. After Jinty, he became a regular in Tammy, but from then on my information runs out. I would be very grateful if anyone were able to supply more information, as even his Comiclopedia entry is exceedingly brief.

Rivalling Phil Gascoine for productivity with 20 stories drawn for the title, his impact on Jinty is amongst the strongest of any artist: many beautiful and striking covers were derived from his internal artwork, and he has a number of memorable stories to his credit too. Many of the stories have a ‘type’; we’re informed by Mistyfan that in Tammy he regularly drew stories written by Alison Christie, and from what we now know it seems a similar circumstance applied in Jinty too. Many of the stories he drew were tear-jerkers: “Always Together…”, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, “Nothing to Sing About”, and of course in particular the well-loved classics “Song of the Fir Tree” and “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” had children dealing with grief, lost homes, lost parents. Others were more mystery-focused: “Then There Were 3…”, “Stage Fright!”, and “Waking Nightmare” were earth-bound mysteries resolved through non-supernatural means, while “Spirit of the Lake” had a real ghost (unlike “The Ghost Dancer”).

For me his top story would clearly be the previously written about “Children of Edenford“, but the mermaid-child tale “Combing Her Golden Hair” comes close behind, and I have soft spots for both the slightly-spooky “Child of the Rain” (tennis player is mysteriously affected for good or ill by the rain forest she visits) and the strong near-thriller “Stage Fright!”. Likewise, Mistyfan has expressed her admiration for the persecution story “Mark of the Witch!” I think that most Jinty fans would be likely to count at least one Phil Townsend story amongst their favourites. Of course the writer drives the story forward as much or more, but the immediate and lasting impression of the comic is so strongly shaped by the art; it is hard not to look at a Phil Townsend-illustrated story and to love it, be the story stronger or weaker.

To illustrate this post, I have chosen some pages from “Combing Her Golden Hair”, taken from the issue dated 6 October 1979. Tamsin has found a mysterious silver comb, which is altering her life dramatically, but not in ways that her stern grandmother approves of! The last panel leaves us with a striking cliff-hanger, of course, though it turns out that the grandmother has better reasons for her actions than we know at this point.

Jinty 6 October 1979
(click thru)
Jinty 6 October 1979
(click thru)
Jinty 6 October 1979
(click thru)

List of stories attributable to Phil Townsend:

(Edited to add: Alison Christie (Fitt) has posted a comment to say that she wrote a number of stories for Jinty, many of which were drawn by Phil Townsend.)

Jinty 14 November 1981

Jinty cover 8.jpg

(cover artist: Mario Capaldi)

This is the penultimate issue of Jinty. The cover features a nice autumn scene from Mario Capaldi. The covers of the last six Jintys were an odd mix of Mario Capaldi. They were either blow-ups of the spot panel for the text story inside or they were just general covers, such as this one. The spot panel for the text story inside was handled by another artist.

So how did the penultimate issue set things up for Jinty‘s finale the following week? We start with a new Pam story. Mr Gold (Goldilocks) tells the school that government cutbacks mean the school will not be repainted that year, and it could sure do with it. Following a fast bit of spraypaint work to cover up some vandalism from the boys, Pam has the idea of organising volunteers out of parents and classmates to do the painting. The trouble is, she forgot to consult Goldilocks! The final issue will explain how this will be sorted out and how the redecorating goes.

Belinda realises someone in the school is helping the squire with whatever he is up to on the slope. She barely has time to ponder who it is before we are told that the next episode will explain, because it is the final one. However, Belinda thinks her two main problems have been solved in this episode. The two girls who were bullying her have been caught out and punished, and it looks like the squire is after buried treasure, so the badgers must be safe. But is she right or is there something she does not know about? We find out in the final issue.

The Bow Street Runner comes down with flu, which turns into pneumonia because she foolishly goes on the cross country run in that state – and then collapses in a stream, of all places! But she just has to believe in that wretched prophecy and thinks she has to beat it. In fact, she just keeps on rambling about it while she is delirious with fever. Beth pulls through the pneumonia but now comes down with deep depression. So deep that she does not even care about the prophecy(!). Beth’s nasty rival Louise does not do well in the run either. She is riding high in the lead and then takes a fall – into a bed of nettles!

It is business as usual for Gaye and Tansy. But we are told that “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” will end next week, with Gaye trying to lose her beloved ghost. Now what can that mean? There is a double helping of Gypsy Rose stories, both of which concern mythical creatures. We met the leprechaun-like people underneath the Earth in “The Lost World” and dryads in “The Spirits of the Trees”.

In the story of Saturday’s Child, Betty Marshall is indeed a hard working girl and loves it. She works hard at a her father’s café, but there is pressure on her to become an air hostess. She takes a holiday and comes back with a whole new appreciation of the work she does. In fact, that was the very reason why she took the holiday, and now she is very happy to stay in the café, thank you very much.

Jinty 7 November 1981

Jinty cover 7.jpg

(Cover artist: Mario Capaldi)

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Sable Knight – Gypsy Rose story (artist Keith Robson)
  • Treasure Trove – text story
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Friday’s Child is Loving and Giving….
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Badgered Belinda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • The Bow Street Runner (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Alley Cat

This was Jinty’s last Guy Fawkes issue, and there were only two more issues before the merger. Jinty‘s drop in energy seems to be falling even more with this issue, because the Guy Fawkes celebrations are even more lacklustre than those for Halloween in the previous issue. Only the cover features Guy Fawkes. The text story inside is on a completely different topic – a treasure trove – and the spot artist is not even Mario Capaldi. All the regulars are on business as usual and none of them are even thinking of fireworks and bonfire parties.

The back cover is a surprise, though. Alley Cat, who had not been seen in Jinty for several years, suddenly makes an appearance. There is no sign of Snoopa, and Snoopa artist Joe Collins draws a spot feature of some jokes in this issue. Was Collins not available this issue and the editor had to find fill-ins for the gag spots?

Jinty 31 October 1981

Jinty cover 6.jpg 001

(Cover artist: Mario Capaldi)

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Marble Heart – Gypsy Rose story (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Thursday’s Child Has Far to Go….
  • Hallowe’en Magic (text story)
  • Badgered Belinda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)
  • The Bow Street Runner (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

This was Jinty’s last Halloween issue. As you see, the cover is a lead-in to the digital watch offer inside. The cover and the text story are the only things honouring Halloween. None of the regulars – Tansy, Snoopa, Gypsy Rose or even the resident ghost, Sir Roger, do anything to commemorate. It is business as usual. Perhaps the upcoming merger was the reason for the lack of Halloween spirit in the issue. The last seven issues of Jinty definitely feel like there was a drop in energy.

 

Jinty 10 October 1981

Jinty cover 5.jpg 001 (Cover artist: Phil Gascoine)

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Robber Bird – Gypsy Rose Story (artist Isidro Mones)
  • Eyes of the Blind – text story
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Monday’s Child is Full of Grace (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)
  • Badgered Belinda – first episode (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • The Bow Street Runner – first episode (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

This issue is significant to Jinty history in that it is the first issue to feature the completely new Jinty logo that will carry on in the merger with Tammy. It also begins the lineup of fillers and serials that can be construed as a seven-issue countdown to the merger, where stories will either be wound up or given their springboards into the merger, while the fillers mark time until the final issue.

“Pam of Pond Hill” returns, and features a new girl, Tess Bradshaw, who proves a problem pupil for the class. She is a bossy, domineering girl who orders everyone about and is not the sort of person you can say no to. But when little Sue Bryant returns to class, the trouble really starts. Tess starts bullying Sue because of her size, and of course the bullying will have serious consequences.

Bullying is also a big feature in the new story, “Badgered Belinda”. Belinda Gibson is in the process of running away from her boarding school because she is being bullied by her classmates. But then she comes across a set of orphaned badgers and wonders if she should stay on to look after them. There is something unusual in Gascoine’s artwork; the linework seems quite heavy, and the drawing feels a bit coarse. It is a stark contrast to the more refined, cleaner touch that you see in Gascoine’s artwork for “Monday’s Child”. Is this part of the five-year gap between the stories? Or is there some other reason for the differences in Gascoine’s artwork? Whatever the reason, Belinda is a filler that covers the last seven issues of Jinty and bookends Gascoine’s run in Jinty, from the first issue with “Gail’s Indian Necklace” to the last issue with “Badgered Belinda”.

Mario Capaldi takes a break with this issue. The spot feature in the text story is drawn by another artist and Gascoine draws the cover, which features “Badgered Belinda”. In a break with the usual pattern, it is not an enlargement of a panel from the story but a piece of artwork in its own right.

The Gypsy Rose story is also unusual in that it seems to feature completely new material in “The Robber Bird” while most of her 1981 stories were reprint. I can find no evidence that this is a repeat of an old Gypsy Rose story. Nor is it recycling a Strange Story, because Gypsy Rose is definitely drawn by the same artist and not a paste-up. The artist for the story, Isidres Mones, is unusual too, as he is not one you usually see here. Mones was a regular artist in Misty. He/she drew “House of Horror” and many complete stories such as “The Final Piece” and one of Misty’s best-remembered stories, “The Purple Emperor”, about an unpleasant girl girl who collects butterflies and ends up as a specimen herself. But “The Robber Bird” was the only story he drew for Jinty. For these reasons I have decided to present “The Robber Bird” below.

The issue begins the last Phil Townsend story for Jinty, “The Bow Street Runner“. This story will carry over into the merger and become Townsend’s transition from Jinty to Tammy.

Robber Bird 1.jpg (click thru) Robber Bird 2.jpg (click thru) Robber Bird 3.jpg (click thru)

Jinty 3 October 1981

Jinty cover 4.jpg 001

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

  • Freda’s Fortune – last episode (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Jenny’s Journal – text story (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • The Wish on Devil Rock! – Gypsy Rose story (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Holiday Hideaway – last episode (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Worlds Apart – last episode (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)

This issue is significant to Jinty history for several reasons. First, it is the last issue to have the Jinty logo that she has borne, with some minor tweaking, since her first issue. The next issue will feature a completely new logo that will carry over into the merger with Tammy.

Second, you can feel the effects of the upcoming merger in the lineup of this ssue. “Worlds Apart” and “Holiday Hideaway” are concluded in order to make way for a seven-issue lineup of fillers that feel like a countdown to the merger. You can feel it in the conclusion of “Worlds Apart”, which has all the hallmarks of a rushed and pressured ending to finish the story quickly. This was the last story Guy Peeters drew for Jinty. And Peeters was not the only artist to be drawing his or her last story for Jinty in this and upcoming issues.

Third, the issue introduces us to the lineup that will start in the next issue, which are not just stories. They are the lineup of fillers for the final issues of Jinty and the stories that will continue in the merger. This issue sees off one filler already, “Freda’s Fortune”. This was the last Trini Tinturé serial in Jinty, and it is a rather sad farewell in that this story only lasted two episodes. Or maybe not so sad, because the two episodes are six pagers. Was Freda meant to be longer but was instead finished quickly with extra pages? Laying on extra pages is often a sign that the team was under pressure to finish a story fast and get it out of the way to make way for big changes or lineups. Or were the extra pages intended so that Freda would fill more of the issue?

This week’s Gypsy Rose story also features Tinturé artwork, even if it is a repeat. It is a cautionary tale that seems to bear out the New Age adage that when you wish for something, you must ask that it serve the highest good of all. Sheila Drake is sick of being poor and wishes to be rich. But she asks for it while she is in a surly mood and upon a formation called The Devil Rock. So it is not surprising that the wish is granted, but it brings only misery.

The fillers and serials to commence in the next issue are “Badgered Belinda”, the last story Phil Gascoine drew for Jinty,The Bow Street Runner“, the Phil Townsend/Alison Christie story that will continue in the merger, and a repeat of the seven issue serial based on the rhyme “Monday’s Child, Tuesday’s Child etc”. But the most significant entry in the lineup has to be the return of “Pam of Pond Hill”. Pam had ended some issues earlier, with an open invitation to readers to say if they wanted her back. This was the second such appeal to succeed in Jinty; the first had been “Fran’ll Fix It!” But one suspects the merger was also a factor in Pam’s return; perhaps the editor felt Pam was the strongest Jinty feature to carry on in the merger. And indeed she was.

And we are also told that next issue and the one following will give away packets of World of Survival stickers. Jinty‘s farewell gift to her readers?

Tammy & Jinty 28 November 1981

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  • Jump, Jump, Julia (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • The Shadow of Sherry Brown – first episode (artist Maria Barrera)
  • Crayzees (artist Joe Collins)
  • Pam of Pond Hill – from Jinty (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Goodbye, Jo… (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Sheena, So Shy (artist Tony Coleman)
  • The Bow Street Runner – continues from Jinty (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Lara the Loner (artist Juliana Buch, writer Alison Christie)
  • Bella (artist John Armstrong)

This was the issue where Jinty merged with Tammy. Strangely, the merger changed the Jinty logo – something Jinty had never done in all her seven years. And it was very unusual to change the logo of a merging comic. What could be the reason for doing it here? Had there been plans to change the Jinty logo during her own run that they decided to put into practice here? Or did they feel the previous style would not stand out so well in a smaller size? The more solid lettering, narrowing of the letter spaces, and the overlap of the letters in the new style does point to the latter.

Correction: It has been brought to my attention that Jinty did change to the new logo in October, about seven issues before the merger.  This figures, because I do regard these last seven issues of Jinty as a “countdown” to the merger because of the abrupt change in the lineup of stories to short filler stories and hints that “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” was building up to a conclusion. The rushed conclusion of “Worlds Apart” and sudden return of “Pam of Pond Hill” point to this as well.

Jinty brought with her “Pam of Pond Hill” (with an entirely new story that had no proper introductions to the characters – Tammy readers were left to pick things up), the continuation of “The Bow Street Runner”, and the amalgamation of Snoopa into the Edie & Miss T strip to become “Crayzees”. They move into a new house to celebrate, but Edie dislikes Snoopa from the start and is chagrined when Miss T’s cat falls in love with him. Phil Townsend made his transition to Tammy with “The Bow Street Runner” and became a regular contributor. Trini Tinturé made no contributions to Tammy, except for one complete story, “When the Wild Geese Call…”. Later, Tammy & Jinty readers would see a repeat of Jinty‘s “The Human Zoo”, possibly due to Pam’s Poll in 1980. The merger would also run “Little Sisters”, which was possibly originally written for Jinty because it appeared in a Jinty annual. Tansy of Jubilee Street would return in “Old Friends”, a slot she shared with Bessie Bunter, Molly and Wee Sue until the merger gave way to the new look Tammy on 17 July 1982. Gypsy Rose would return in the spooky storyteller slot that she shared with The Storyteller. The merger also carried on Jinty‘s ribbon-cutting logo that she had used to open new stories. And of course no merger is no complete without a competition to celebrate (though some readers may not have), and the first prize is a 7-day trip to the US.

In regard to Tammy, she had dropped the Misty logo shortly before the merger. But one suspects that the Misty influence continued, as the merger ran “Monster Tales”, which told stories of monsters that included a man-eating plant, a gargoyle, a (helpful) fire monster, a doll that reflected the evil nature of its owner, and a man turned into a monstrous dog as a punishment for his cruelty to dogs. Such a thing could only come from Misty; perhaps this was originally written for Misty and appeared in the Tammy & Jinty merger because the space had opened for it.

The merger also saw changes in the art teams. Phil Townsend was now a regular and Maria Barrera’s artwork appeared more frequently, starting with “The Shadow of Sherry Brown”. But other Tammy art veterans were on their way out. Giorgio Giorgetti, an artist who had been with Tammy from her early days, made his Tammy swansong with “Jump, Jump, Julia”. Douglas Perry, who had been on the Tammy team since year one, would become sporadic, with Molly Mills in “Old Friends” and some complete stories, before disappearing from Tammy later in 1982. Presumably this was when Perry moved to DCT. Diane Gabbot, who had been a regular Tammy artist since 1976, drew her last Tammy serial, “Rosie at the Royalty”, just before the merger. She would only return to draw the spot illustrations for “Into the Fourth at Trebizon” adaptation in 1983.

 

Final Jinty 21 November 1981

On 21 November 1981 the final Jinty was published.

Inside: Exciting News For All Girls Who LIke A Good Read!

Whether Jinty readers would really have been thrilled or excited by the news might well have been another matter. The Tammy & Jinty merger published two letters from former Jinty readers who weren’t.

The last seven issues could be considered a countdown to the merger, with a reprint of the seven-part series on Monday’s Child is Fair of Face, Tuesday’s Child is Full of Grace etc, short filler stories and Gaye’s attempts to farewell Sir Roger end in disappointment because he failed to pass the test to the House of Ghosts. She does not realise he deliberately failed his test because he thought she would miss him too much. But in the last issue, Gaye finds out what Sir Roger did and, when she wangles him another another tryout, she makes sure he passes. Only one long serial, The Bow Street Runner, began, and would conclude in the Tammy & Jinty merger.

Two stories, Worlds Apart and (probably) Dracula’s Daughter, suffered rushed endings, evidently to clear the decks for the seven-issue countdown. Worlds Apart was the greater casualty of this; the final of the six dream worlds it explored was clearly cut too short. That world was only allowed one and a half episodes while the others had four or five. The result was an unsatisfactory exploration of the final world in the name of a rushed conclusion. Dracula’s Daughter gives the impression it may have been cut a bit short as well, but fortunately not so drastically that you would notice too much.

We also have two bookends in this issue. The first is Phil Gascoine, the only artist whose work lasted from the first issue (Gail’s Indian Necklace) to the final one (Badgered Belinda). The second is Tansy of Jubilee Street, who reminisces on her very first story in the very first issue of Penny (which merged with Jinty),  where she loses her diary and gets into all sorts of scrapes trying to find it. In the final Jinty, Tansy finds her diary has disappeared again. We get flashbacks of what happened the first time, and watch Tansy as she gets into new scrapes in her search for it, and horrible thoughts of what people will find out if they should read it. Much to her relief, Tansy finds her mother just put the diary away for safekeeping.

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(Cover artist: Mario Capaldi)

  • Pam of Pond Hill – continues in merger (artist Bob Harvey)
  • The Magic Tambourine: Gypsy Rose story – Gypsy Rose continues in merger (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street – ends, but returns in the Old Friends slot in merger – (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Sunday’s Child (end of series)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost – ends (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • A Window on the Past – Gypsy Rose story (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
  • Badgered Belinda – ends (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Fancy Meeting You! (text story)
  • The Bow Street Runner – continues in merger (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

[Edited by Comixminx: I thought readers might also be interested to see the double-page advert that ran in this final issue for the merged title.]