Tag Archives: Champion in Hiding

Hugh Thornton-Jones

gayes-gloomy-ghost-1gayes-gloomy-ghost-2Sample Images

Hugh Thornton-Jones has been a long-serving artist in girls’ comics. His work spans all across the DCT titles Bunty, Mandy, Judy, Tracy and Debbie. An (incomplete) list of his stories there can be found here:

http://girlscomicsofyesterday.com/?s=hugh+thornton-jones

In regard to IPC, no information is currently available on what work Thornton-Jones did for June or School Friend. He drew “The Incredible Shrinking Girl” for the short-lived Princess (series 2). For Tammy, Thornton-Jones drew one serial “Claire’s Airs and Graces”, a few Strange Stories (“The Lollipop Man’s Promise”, reprinted as a Gypsy Rose story), but was seen most often as one of the Wee Sue artists. During Tammy’s credits period, Thornton-Jones was credited with just one story, “Postcards from the Past”. This sole credit is what establishes the name of what might otherwise be another unknown Jinty artist.

Thornton-Jones started on Jinty as a filler artist for “The Jinx from St Jonah’s” and “Champion in Hiding”, but it was not long before he drew his own stories for Jinty. These were “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” and “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost”. Both of them were humour strips that starred a fantasy character who created paranormal hijinks every week. They kept Thornton-Jones busy because they both ran for a long time; the former lasted three years and the latter two years, right up until the last issue of Jinty.

Thornton-Jones’s style was not quite as strong as some artists, such as Mario Capaldi. But it is a genial, pleasing style that can fit in with a lot of general stories (school, ponies, emotional). Thornton-Jones could draw period stories, such as The Guardian Tree (Mandy) and Catch the Cat! (Bunty), though his art was seen more often in contemporary settings. Thornton-Jones also had a flair for humour and caricature, especially for drawing people with long, thin, pointed noses. So his style was also used in more zany, offbeat stories, such “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!”, “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” and “Microgirl” (Tracy).

Stories Hugh Thornton-Jones drew for Jinty:

  • The Jinx from St. Jonah’s (filler artist)
  • Champion in Hiding (second artist)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost

Jinty & Lindy 30 October 1976

Jinty 30 Oct 1976

Stories in this issue:

  • Jassy’s Wand of Power (artist Keith Robson)
  • Gertie Grit, the Hateful Brit! (artist Paul White)
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Rose among the Thornes (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Champion in Hiding (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Alley Cat
  • Sisters at War! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Girl in a Bubble (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Pat Mills)
  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones) – last episode
  • Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud (artist Ken Houghton)

“Jassy’s Wand of Power” is the lead story on this issue; it takes up the front cover and runs to three and a half pages, oddly enough – but then there are only 3 panels on this front cover so I guess that means it is the equivalent of about three ordinary pages. It’s nice having a page of comics on the cover, really draws you in. In this episode, Jassy is starting to raise people’s awareness of the dangerous industrial process that Sir Harmer Jeffreys has been using. They still have to manage to get further away from him without either getting caught – and at the end of the episode they have to face a hungry and thirsty lion too!

Stefa is continuing in the grip of her grief – she is cooking her own food as her dad has forbidden her mother to cook for her until she comes to her senses. There is nearly a deadly chip pan fire as a result, and it is Stefa’s classmate who saves her. No gratitude results of course as this is the classmate who has an eerie likeness to Stefa’s dead friend.

Hugh Thornton-Jones has two stories in this issue – he has taken on the art duties for “Champion in Hiding” from Mario Capaldi, and he has also drawn the last episode that Katie Jinks appears in. In this story, Katie is chasing a wee black kitten that you’d think woud be a lucky cat – but who brings disaster to all whose path she crosses! Of course in the end the little kitten is given to Katie, who is very happy to have a kitten jinx in her life.

“Girl In A Bubble” has the sinster Miss Vaal finding her experimental subject Helen out of the bubble – but escape is not possible as Helen’s friend Linda is threatened by Miss Vaal unless she returns meekly to the bubble. Of course Linda goes and tells someone in charge, but Miss Vaal has a plan to deal with that without letting Helen escape again…

What makes a story work, pt 3?

Following on from my earlier posts, more about what makes a story work. The discussion points in this post are more focused on the work of the artist, whereas the ones in the previous post were more around what the writer does.

  • Art quality. Is the art convincing and solid, with movement and vigour where required? Can the artist actually follow-through on technical requirements such as drawing ballet steps, gymnastics, and horses? Or is it inaccurate, stiff, or lifeless?
    • Of course this is primarily the artist’s responsibility, but there is some input from editorial departments. They may ensure, for instance, that art drawn by Spanish artists matches the British location that most stories are supposed to take place in by adding in pillar boxes and the like. Few artists in Jinty and other comics of this era are anything other than good to extremely good, so overall art quality is normally not a factor in the story not working. However, the artist may have specific gaps in what they can and can’t draw convincingly.
    • Stronger: There are so many strong artists that it is difficult to pick out one over the other except on the basis of personal preference. Mario Capaldi can draw faces, action sequences, and solidly convincing backgrounds, and is almost universally loved, but you could also say the same of my personal favourites Trini Tinturé, Phil Gascoine, and Phil Townsend. I think perhaps my favourite art on all the stories might however be Terry Aspin’s work on “Alice In A Strange Land”, in which he brings a strange jungle-wrapped lost city to life, alongside the British schoolgirls who have strayed into it.
    • Weaker: I find the Ken Houghton art on “Tansy of Jubilee Street” to be adequate but unexciting. It can be stiff at times when the artist has intended an action sequence, which is bad news. But even excellent artists can have off-days, too: Jim Baikie’s art is normally top-notch, but in parts of “Miss No-Name” some faces and sequences are very patchy, and possibly even filled-in by another hand. Finally, even if the artist is generally good, a specific failure to draw ballet well will condemn the story in the eyes of those who can spot that, as Mistyfan commented on a previous post.
  • Art style. The style of the artist needs to be matched to the story requirements. A light-hearted comedy story typically uses a more exaggerated style, and a sentimental or sad story might need something more restrained.
    • This might be an editorial decision in commissioning the right artist for the job, but it might also involve the artist deciding to use a variation on their usual style. Mario Capaldi and Jim Baikie are examples of artists who had humorous and serious styles that can be readily distinguished not because they look radically different but by the exaggeration of the character’s actions and expressions.
    • Stronger: This was generally a close match in any case. In other titles you could cite the use of John Armstrong to illustrate gymnastics in the Bella stories; in Jinty a close parallel would be the usage of Mario Capaldi for any sports story – for instance his superb depiction of the dramatic moments and of the swimming action in “Cursed To Be A Coward!
    • Weaker: I think I would choose the selection of Trini Tinturé in “Prisoners of Paradise Island”. Trini is an excellent artist for showing scheming and plotting elegant ‘bad girls’ rather than hockey-playing schoolgirls. Similarly, José Casanovas in “The Darkening Journey” is always a slight mis-match for me as his animal characters are beautifully drawn but a tad too intrinsically cheeky-looking for such a sad and dramatic story. Finally, although I like Keith Robson’s art on “The Goose Girl” a lot, the Dutch publishers of Tina clearly felt that they wanted an art style that matched the continental expectations (such as a clear, clean line) as the same fundamental story was re-drawn in a Tina Topstrip.
  • Consistency of art. If the artist or the quality of the art changes visibly during the run of the storyline then this will be noticed by readers and is likely to have a negative impact on how well the story works overall.
    • If the artist is unwell or over-committed there might be a requirement for the editorial team to get another artist to fill in some or all of the remaining episodes of a story. Alternatively, another artist might perhaps collaborate to help finish the work in time (for instance by inking the original artist’s pencilled drawings). Presumably this might be an informal arrangement between artists if they were able to do this (for instance if they shared the same studio), but as there will have been people’s salaries at stake too I am assuming this was more likely to be an editorial decision to ensure that the story could be completed rather than abandoned.
    • Stronger: I am not aware of any examples where an inconsistency in the artwork actually benefitted the story (for instance if a mediocre artist was replaced by a better one). Even if the art changed for the better, the change itself would be jarring and intrusive. Ongoing humorous strips such as “The Jinx from St Jonah’s” did tend to have a few different artists working on it over the years and this was workable as there tended not to be a single story that would be badly affected by this change.
    • Weaker: This didn’t actually happen very often in Jinty‘s run. The obvious example is “Champion in Hiding” which started off with Mario Capaldi’s beautiful work and moved on to being drawn by Hugh Thornton-Jones, better known for his art on humour stories such as “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!”.
  • Character design. Making the characters in a story look and behave distinctively on the page is partly visual and partly about their dialogue and actions. Is the result a solid, convincing character or can you hardly tell them apart from other characters in girls’ comics? Worse, can you hardly even tell who’s who in the same story?
    • There is a lot of responsibility on the artist to bring a clear and distinctive visual identity to the character; at a minimum the inhabitants of the story should have different hairstyles, shapes, clothes that separate everyone out and make sure the reader is not confused. Ideally they should also have distinctive body shapes, body language and so forth too. The writer will have an impact too, in giving the protagonists an individual drive that will make them separate from others via distinctive dialogue and so forth.
    • Stronger: Jim Baikie was a very long-running Jinty artist, illustrating many continued stories and one-off Gypsy Roses. He certainly reused hairstyles (Fran of “Fran’ll Fix It!” shared a hairstyle with the protagonist of this Gypsy Rose story) but nevertheless each of his characters is visually distinctive in multiple ways – body shape, body language, freckles, and so on. No danger of mistaking his characters even when they do have some features in common.
    • Weaker: Comos’ schoolgirls across various stories illustrated by him have a bit too much similarity, I feel: I’d pick out the characters in “Destiny Brown” and the protagonists of “The Haunting of Form 2B” as being particularly visually similar.
  • Layout. There is a lot of thought that goes into getting an effective layout at the level of the individual panel and at the level of the whole page. Wally Wood’s 22 Panels That Always Work gives an idea of the sort of panel layouts that a US mainstream comics artist might use to vary the visual interest on a page; the conventions and standards for British weekly comics may differ a bit but will share a lot of requirements for varying the focus in each panel. Page layouts likewise can be pedestrian or innovative, with varying sizes of panel within and artwork that breaks out of the constraints of the panel border.
    • Again much of the responsibility of this lies with the artist, but the editorial team may also have input – for instance there may be a general instruction that pages should use a layout based on a nine-panel grid or on a six-panel grid to allow for larger panels. Pat Mills talks interestingly about working with the artist to create a dymanic page layout and strong panel layouts too. I don’t think that writers in this kind of comic usually would script down to this level (though in US mainstream comics they often will) but of course Pat was also an editor.
    • Stronger: There are a lot of really good and interesting layouts in Jinty, Misty, and Tammy, perhaps more so than in other titles from the time. “Concrete Surfer” has some very dynamic and interesting layouts depicting the protagonist’s skateboarding tricks; “Land of No Tears” is slightly more conventional but often breaks the borders or uses irregular panels for a dramatic effect.
    • Weaker: no immediate examples come to mind.
  • Incidentals. I am using this to refer to little background details in the artwork or the story.
    • This could be down to ideas from artist or from writer. Perhaps the artist will particularly need to fill the background somehow and may therefore put in extra detail either humorous or nostalgic.
    • Stronger: For instance Jim Baikie includes little jokes in the background of “Fran’ll Fix It”: they may be joky signs or funny things happening behind the protagonist’s back. There may also be little touches of colour that the writer may also include; I have always remembered a bit of dialogue in “Merry at Misery House” where Merry says she’s “not as green as [she’s] cabbage-looking!’ This is not in fact anything invented by writer Terry Magee but it’s a nice touch of appropriate vernacular and always lived on in my memory.
    • Weaker: It would be possible for the background detail to be over-egged and too intrusive. I can’t think of an immediate example that comes to mind however.
  • Design / font / lettering. The lettering of the dialogue in Jinty and similar comics are all typed in a standardised font, without any big distinction between strong emotion and ordinary ones (there can be a slightly bolder effect used but with the low print quality on newsprint this is not very easy to distinguish). However, the logo for the story title itself is more distinctively rendered to match the story it heads up. There are also lettering elements in the artwork that can be done well or less well – shop-fronts, newspapers within the story, and so on. Unlike in other comics genres, sound effects (another possible element to be done well or less well) are not greatly used.
    • I assume the story logo would have been done in-house editorially but this would need confirmation; I could also imagine it as supplied by the artist. The lettering would certainly be done by someone other than the artist as we can see by the consistency of the font used.
    • Stronger: A number of the story logos have a fairly simple design just using a natty font, so anything more than this can be quite striking. I like the design of the “Fran of the Floods” logo, with plain lettering but the addition of rain and a pool of water.
    • Weaker: Sometimes the logo font has no obvious sympathy with the title and just seems to have been chosen because it hadn’t been used particularly recently. “The Four-Footed Friends” is an example; nothing wrong with the story logo, but it doesn’t add anything extra.
  • Format / edition / pagination. The Jinty stories were only reprinted by British publishers in annuals rather than in albums collecting the whole story together, but of course translated editions did exist that brought the whole of a story under the same covers. This could potentially mean that a story either feels stronger in reading it as a cohesive whole, or perhaps that weaknesses of pacing are more clearly felt and so the whole story works less well when read as a single edition. Alternatively, a story may even be entirely too long for some formats. Finally, the format also includes the page size and other publishing decisions – how many pages will be in that week’s issue? Which pages will be printed on the double-page spread at the centre, or on the front or back where you can only see a single page at a time? These decisions are all very specific to the individual printing of a story and don’t necessarily impact how a story reads over its lifetime over more than one printing.
    • These format decisions are all editorial and would be unlikely to be down to anything decided by artist or writer (though a popular artist or writer could be ‘rewarded’ by being given a plum location in the weekly edition of a title, of course). I would assume that  in these cases, the writer and artist will not typically have known in advance whether their story was to be printed on a double-page spread or on the right-hand page (meaning that the reader needed to turn over to reveal the next page) and would not have specifically tailored the story as a result. (In other kinds of comics publications this kind of fine-tuning is possible and even normal.)
    • Stronger/ weaker: I have not got good examples of stories that could make a stronger or weaker impact depending on the editorial choices of edition and pagination, but perhaps a reader of one of the translated albums may have views based on that experience.

Jinty & Lindy 31 July 1976

Jinty cover

The cover brings us promise that snobby Shirl will earn our respect for the first time since her story started. Shirley shoves her shoeshine brush into the face of a snobby classmate for insulting Alice. Such an unladylike but ballsy move raises our hopes that snobby Shirl is becoming more human. But when we learn that Shirley still looks on Alice as a servant, our hopes are dashed. This is one girl who should have lived in Victorian times. It’s the final episode of “For Peter’s Sake!” Peg the pram does not seem to have fulfilled her promise to cure Peter although she has cured every other baby rocked in her. But there is a last minute surprise to ensure a happy ending. Another Alison Christie story, “Stefa’s Heart of Stone“, starts next week. Jinty must have liked to keep her writers as busy as her artists. Bridey finds a man with influence who believes her father is innocent. But fate, in the form of a mob and a gang of thieves, is soon to cut off that avenue of help. David, self appointed king (and loony) of Glasgow, is the latest problem in “Fran of the Floods”. He’s taken Fran and Jill prisoner. All the same, Fran finds herself liking him for some reason. Will this help to sort things out with him? In “Horse from the Sea”, Tracey gets injured when the staircase collapses. But she could have sworn it was sound earlier. And what about those shots somebody fired at her on the moor? Sue is causing more trouble for herself in “Sisters at War!”. And now it looks like she’s going to be blamed for something she hasn’t even done and get into trouble with the police on top of everything else. Mitzi is striking more difficulties in keeping her “Champion in Hiding” fed because of her horrible aunt. Could a paper round be the answer? Willa gets off her wheels to help a surgeon who needs a theatre nurse. Next week we will see if she does prove herself this way.

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.

The Cinderella Theme

Pat Mills has said on online that the Cinderella theme was one of the lynchpins in girls’ comics. This feature will examine the Cinderella theme and how it played out in Jinty.

As the name suggests, the Cinderella theme refers to stories where girls are treated like Cinderella. Their parents, step parents or other types of guardians abuse them, use them as cheap labour, exploit them and take advantage of any talent they may have. There may be a wicked stepsister type (cousin, sister, stepsister or whatever) who is the nasty spoilt one and the exploitation is often geared towards investing in the spoilt one’s advancement, such as in Knight and Day and Make Believe Mandy from Jinty.

Cinderella 1.jpg

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Sometimes there is no wicked stepsister type at all, such as in the most famous example of the Cinderella story in girls’ comics, Bella Barlow from Tammy. Starting as another Cinderella serial, Bella proved so popular that she lasted for ten years, and was stopped only by Tammy’s cancellation.

And there are times when the Cinderella is the eldest of a group of siblings. They are all being abused by a nasty guardian, but it is the eldest who takes the brunt but also retains the determination to protect her siblings in any way she can and win through. Examples of this type of Cinderella story are more readily found in DCT titles, such as Slaves of the Singing Kettle from Tracy.

Some Cinderella themed strips are played for laughs, with the wicked stepmother or sisters getting a comical comeuppance every week. The best known example is Cinderella Jones from Judy. But for the most part it is serious, emotional abusive fare, and that was how it was played in Jinty.

The abuse occurs mostly because the abusers are nasty bullies or neglectful/lazy types who don’t care for the girl, or it is a combination of the two. But sometimes they have deeper motives. In Sadie and the Sticks (Tammy) and Champion in Hiding (Jinty), for example, it is revealed that the abusers are in the pay of an even bigger criminal. In Make Believe Mandy the abusers are motivated by a deep hatred and the reason for it forms the mystery of the story. It starts to unravel once Mandy realises she is not related to them by blood, which is a common reason for it all in Cinderella stories.

Cinderella 3.jpg

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As per the original, rescue may come in a supernatural form, such as Whistle and I’ll Come and Moonchild (Misty), Girl with the Power (Tracy), The Clothes Make Carol (Tammy), and The Valley of Shining Mist (Jinty). But in most cases the girl has to look to her own salvation. This usually takes the form of a hobby or talent that the girl is determined to pursue (gymnastics, ballet, music, a sport, art, a craft, sewing and herbology are just of the things that have been used). Or it may be a special secret, such as an injured animal. Whatever it is, it is not her only consolation in her unhappy home life but her ticket to freedom and happiness. Of course the road is not smooth; the abusers throw up obstacles along the way, and even take advantage of her ability. Running away often happens, which either leads to the resolution of the story or turns it into a fugitive story. But it is the fairy godmother type who usually resolves it, either by discovering the abuse or stumbling across the girl’s talent. Cinderella stories typically end up with the girl being adopted by a loving family, being reconciled with her former abusers who had a change of heart, or her talent/secret finally gives her an escape to happiness.

Cinderella 2.jpg

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Strangely, Tammy, the pioneer in darkness and cruelty, did not have a Cinderella sto in her first lineup. Her first Cinderella story, which came later, was Little Miss Nothing, and it set the template in Tammy, though the theme must have been much older than that in girls’ comics. Once discovered, there was no stopping the Cinderella story in Tammy until it, like the slave story, faded from Tammy by the late seventies. Only Bella remained from former times. Until then, Cinderella stories in byTammy included Jumble Sale Jilly, Tess on Tap, Sadie in the Sticks, Nell Nobody, Common Cathy, Sally in a Shell and, of course, Bella.

However, Jinty did have a Cinderella story in her first lineup as she was following the early Tammy. Notable Cinderella stories in Jinty were:

Make Believe Mandy (1974): the first one, starting in the first issue. Mandy Miller is abused her family who seem to hate her and compare her unfavourably with her sister Dinah.

Cinderella Smith (1975): The abuse of Cindy Smith under her cousins is so extreme that she is forced to wear shackles on her legs when she is working.

The Valley of Shining Mist (1975): Debbie Lane has been so psychologically damaged by the abuse from her adoptive family that she has become wild and thieving and has no confidence, which is reflected in a stammer. Then Debbie discovers confidence and can talk properly when she discovers the magical Valley of Shining Mist. But she soon finds that she has to learn to function that way outside the valley as well.

Finleg the Fox (1975): this story started in Lindy and concluded in the Jinty & Lindy merger. Lame Una Price is sent to the Dray family at Blindwall Farm in the hope of a country cure for her poor health. But the Drays are not very welcoming, nor do they welcome Finleg, the fox Una befriends.

Champion in Hiding (1976): Mitzi Morris is forced to live with her horrible Aunt Shirley, who does not treat her well. Mitzi has to hide her dog Firefly from Aunt Shirley as she is determined to train him as a sheepdog champion, but Aunt Shirley is being paid to prevent this.

No Cheers for Cherry (1978): Cherry Campbell’s aunt brings her to her family theatre houseboat with the promise of drama training for the fame that Cherry wants. In reality, the family just want Cherry as an unpaid servant.

The Changeling (1978): Katy Palmer runs away and then steals another girl’s identity to escape her cruel uncle. In an unusual break with the theme, the uncle appears in only the first and last episodes. And he does not seem to launch much pursuit, if any, of his runaway niece, which is what the abusive guardian usually does when the girl runs off. But then he doesn’t get much chance as this story only ran for three episodes.

Knight and Day (1978): Pat Day is removed from her foster family because her natural mother, Mrs Knight, suddenly wants her back after years of ignoring her. But Pat soon finds that Mum only wants her so they can get a council flat and stepsister Janet is spiteful. This story is unusual in having the natural parent being cast in the wicked stepmother role while the foster parent is the good parent.

Spirit of the Lake (1979-80): Sometimes Mum shares the Cinderella role with the heroine, as is the case in this story. Karen Carstairs and her mother find themselves unpaid help when they come to stay with their relatives, the Grahams. And snooty cousin Cynthia sneers at Karen for not being able to skate while she is the best skater in the county. But then a fairy godmother appears in the form of the mysterious woman on the lake who starts teaching Karen to skate.

Cinderella 4.jpg

(Click thru)

Evidently the Cinderella theme was less frequent in Jinty than in Tammy, and eventually it faded from Jinty altogether. This may be due to the SF and sports emphasis that took hold in Jinty. Or it may be because stories of darkness, cruelty and tortured heroines faded at IPC because of changes in editorship. By the late seventies the Cinderella stories had faded altogether from Tammy, except for Bella. The same went for the slave story that Tammy had revelled in. Yet the Cinderella story remained popular at DCT, and titles like Bunty and Mandy continued to crank them out in quantity. Yet by the 1990s the Cinderella theme had waned at DCT too, except for reprints. Now what changes in editorship could have taken place here? Another question for comic book researchers to ponder.

Jinty & Lindy 2 October 1976

Jinty cover 5.jpg 001

  • Girl in a Bubble (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Pat Mills)
  • The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Rose among the Thornes (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Champion in Hiding (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Sisters at War! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Jassy’s Wand of Power (artist Keith Robson)
  • Snobby Shirl the Shoeshine Girl! final episode (artist José Casanovas)
  • Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud (artist Ken Hougton)

This is one of the first Jintys I came across when I was younger. The image of Miss Vaal pulling the flower out of Helen’s hair and then punishing her by putting her in total darkness for two days without food really stuck with me, as did the premise of a girl in a bubble. I have just come into another copy of the issue with a collection of new Jintys I have just acquired, so I am familiarising myself with the issue properly. By the way, you will be pleased to know Helen does not suffer two days of hunger and darkness; she escapes again, and this time she plucks up the courage to let herself out of the bubble. The trouble is, Miss Vaal will not like that; she is already trying to discourage Helen from leaving the bubble by breaking her spirit.

Hugh Thornton-Jones has a double chore now because he has taken over from two Mario Capaldi stories, “The Jinx from St Jonah’s” and “Champion in Hiding”. You have to wonder why Capaldi stopped drawing these strips.

This issue sees the final episode of “Snobby Shirl the Shoeshine Girl”. Has Shirl learned not to be so snobby? You would not think so by the way she is enjoying the high life. But maybe her father is in for a surprise.

Stefa’s heart of stone causes even more trouble for her parents, what with causing Dad to lose his job and take a lower paying job, and the family having to move into a cheap council house. This does not move her stony heart, but we can still see there are chinks in it. Stefa is desperate to get away from her school and Ruth Graham, who is a constant reminder that her grief for Joy is unresolved. Stefa cannot bear to be parted from her statue, the closest thing she has to a friend now. And although she expresses no shame or apology at costing her father his “grotty old job”, we suspect she really is covering up a guilty conscience. After all, in the previous episode Stefa was nagged by guilt over how much she was hurting her parents and had a sleepless night.

Jassy is developing her water divining powers, only to discover they mean trouble for her. There is a law against psychics after a one prophesised there would be no drought for many years. Furthermore, there are greedy people out to take advantage of Jassy’s power. Daisy is still too much of a lady to take the skivvy treatment she is getting lying down. She tries to speak out against the treatment she is getting from the other servants, but this only has the servants turn on her for snitching. Now her life is even more unbearable, and even the boot boy despises her. Rose manages to foil the Thornes who try to sabotage her pole vault, but gets damaged hands from having to make do with a rough pole.

Jinty & Lindy 18 September 1976

 

Jinty cover 3

  • Girl in a Bubble – first episode (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Pat Mills)
  • Alley Cat
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Rose among the Thornes (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Champion in Hiding (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Horse from the Sea (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Sisters at War! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Snobby Shirl the Shoeshine Girl! (artist José Casanovas)
  • Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud (Ken Houghton)

This issue marks the first episode of one of Jinty’s most insidious and disturbing stories, “Girl in a Bubble”. Helen Ryan has been incarcerated in a sterile bubble for four years, under the care of Miss Vaal, after she was diagnosed as having no resistance to germs. But there is something mysterious about all this. In all that time, Helen’s parents have never come to see her. And what’s with that black book Miss Vaal keeps writing in?

It gets even more suspicious when Helen demands to be let out and have some company. Miss Vaal pays off some kids to come and torment Helen in order to put her off company – hmm, now why would she do that? In any case, it backfires when one of the kids, Linda, regrets it and comes back to encourage Helen to come out. But what awaits Helen outside the bubble? And what will Miss Vaal do if she finds out?

Meanwhile, “Horse from the Sea” has reached its penultimate episode. Tracey has discovered she is the true heir to the Penrose estate, but the nasty relatives tie her up, and make plans to kill her and put the blame on her beloved Brightmane. Tracey escapes with the help of Brightmane and Janice. But raising help strikes problems with the phone dead and Janice still not strong enough to walk far.

The reverse situations of “Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud” are now firmly established, what with Maud drugged and on board the ship to the finishing school and Daisy now at Park Square mansion in Maud’s place. Daisy is forced to do work she has no idea how to do or get beaten. At the end of the day, she is furious at all the drudgery and physical abuse she has taken and resolves to make them pay. But she finds that will be harder than she thought when she finds herself locked in the attic room where servants sleep.

In “Sisters at War”, Sue has to put the war on hold. She and Sylvia have been wrongly accused of a crime and she enlists the aid of a reporter to help sort things out. But the true criminal has gotten wind of it and now Mum comes in – all roughed up!

Another mum is having a bad time in this issue too; Stefa’s mum is on the verge of a breakdown because of Stefa’s stony behaviour and takes a short break. Meanwhile, Stefa gets an invitation to Ruth’s party but worms her way out of it by pretending to be ill. Dad falls for it and takes time off work to look after her – something he is going to regret .

Rose foils another plot from the Thornes but falls asleep at the same time because they gave her a drugged drink. Next time, don’t consume anything the Thornes offer! In “Champion in Hiding”, the class launches a campaign to save Firefly, but it strikes problems, including Aunt Shirl making nasty threats against Mitzi. This forces Mitzi and Firefly to go on the run.

Instead of shining shoes and losing her snobbishness, Shirl is soaking up the high life in a sheikh’s palace. But not for long, thanks to Alice’s pea shooter! Soon it is Alice soaking up the high life instead and has a feeling that things are going to happen now that Shirl is a sheikess. And “Alice is too right, as you’ll find out in next week’s hilarious story!”

 

Jinty & Lindy 23 October 1976

Jinty Cover 23 October 1976 

  • Jassy’s Wand of Power (artist Keith Robson)
  • Gertie Grit, the Hateful Brit! (artist Paul White)
  • Is This Your Story?
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Rose among the Thornes (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Champion in Hiding (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Sisters at War! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Girl in a Bubble (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Pat Mills)
  • Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud (artist Ken Houghton)

Human sacrifice on a Jinty cover is disturbing, even though we can see Jassy is striving to save the boy (and succeeds). The boy is blind, which makes it even more horrifying. It makes for a striking cover to feature on this blog. “Jassy’s Wand of Power” would have been better to keep the explanation that it is set in an alternate Britain that is more superstitious so readers who joined the story would know. But it didn’t, so some readers must have been been puzzled as to why Britain is suddenly reverting to human sacrifice, witchcraft and water diviners, even if it is in a drought crisis.

Witchcraft also features in Gertie Grit, where Gertie gets a job with a witch. She ends up causing the Vesuvius eruption and the destruction of Pompeii when she makes a miscalculation with some magic powder. Gertie is forced to make another hasty exit to another time period, and for once she learns a lesson: “You can’t learn magic spells in five minutes!”

This week’s “Is This Your Story?” features Clare who makes herself the centre of attention and the envy of her classmates with her clothes. They don’t realise the clothes are not Clare’s – she helps herself to her sisters’ wardrobes to impress everyone with her appearance. The sisters resort to drastic measures to teach Clare a lesson – they lock up their wardrobes and Clare’s, so the hitherto smartly dressed Clare has to go to school in her mum’s dress! Everyone gets a huge laugh, but Clare takes it in part and sees the funny side too. This is what sees her through her dressing down, so to speak, as well as learning her lesson.

Last week Stefa softened and cried when her mother had a bad accident. But then she regretted it, seeing it as weakness when she should have stayed firm with her stony heart. This week, silly Stefa resolves to harden up even more. So poor Mum is in for a shock when she comes home from the hospital. Dad reaches his limit and decides to give Stefa a taste of her own medicine by telling her she must buy and cook her own food. Stefa welcomes it, as it will widen the rift between them. But in the next issue, Stefa finds it turning into another test for her stony heart as she is a lousy cook! But will this teach her the lesson she so badly needs to learn?

Rose foils another plot from the Thornes, but falls out with her friend Elaine. The girl in the bubble is on the run from Miss Vaal, but she and Linda dodge the police to sneak back and find out what exactly Miss Vaal is up to. They find Miss Vaal’s black book, but what will it reveal? Daisy’s plan to escape by chimney  has to be put on hold when the family go on holiday and take the servants with them. It’s no holiday for Daisy, who still has to cope with hard work and bullying, but she is hopeful for a chance to escape her servitude on holiday. Will she succeed or be forced to go back to her chimney plan? Uncle Jason is in hospital, but this brings no peace between the Sisters at War. In Champion in Hiding, Mitzi’s mother is in hospital too, and nasty Aunt Shirley is taking advantage of it to sabotage Mitzi’s training for the dog championship.

 

Jinty and Lindy 10 July 1976

Jinty and Lindy 10 July 1976

“Willa on Wheels” and “Bridey Below the Breadline” are the two ‘new’ stories here that have not been included in earlier posts about individual issues. In the first of these two stories, Willa was a student nurse who bravely saved lives in an accident but was herself left in a wheelchair as a result. In this episode, she leaves hospital and goes to stay with the family of the children she saved; she is depressed and bitter about her disability and unwilling to battle for improvement. The mother of the family tries ‘tough love’ to get her to snap out of it, but (not surprisingly perhaps) is not immediately successful. Of course, this being a girls’ comic story, she does eventually stir herself and decide to fight her situation.

“Bridey Below The Breadline” is one of Ken Houghton’s historical stories. Her challenge is to get her father well again and to avoid capture by the many people who think she and her father, as bakers, caused the Great Fire of London.

This is the first episode of “Champion In Hiding” and by the end of it the poor protagonist has lost her father, her home, and nearly her mother too (who is in hospital very ill); the aunt who takes her in is clearly a bad lot and only thinks of selling off the champion dog who is her only consolation. These first episodes drawn by Mario Capaldi are really beautiful, but sadly he didn’t stay the course as the story’s artist. The other first episode in the issue, “Snobby Shirl”, is also drawn by a classic artist – José Casanovas – though it’s not one of the top stories he worked on.

Stories in this issue:

  • Willa On Wheels (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • For Peter’s Sake! (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Fran of the Floods (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Champion In Hiding (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • The Slave of Form 3B (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Horse From The Sea (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Snobby Shirl the Shoeshine Girl! (artist José Casanovas)
  • Bridey Below The Breadline (artist Ken Houghton)