Now we are in April, so here is Jinty’s 1 April issue for 1978. Strangely, despite the date, there’s no April fooling in it. Not even from Alley Cat, who doesn’t appear at all this week. And instead of having fun on April Fool’s Day, Henrietta the Fun-Bag shows Minnie the Moaner that the good old days are not all they’re cracked up to be, and she should appreciate modern times more. A session in the stocks in the 18th century (as shown on the cover) certainly teaches Minnie that!
However, in Jinty’s new ballet story, “Slave of the Swan”, we have a girl who’s about to be fooled all right, but in a most terrible way. Katrina Vale goes to seek help from Mum’s old friend Rosa Kachinsky after Mum is hospitalised. But she contracts amnesia along the way, and Kachinsky, who has gone from being Mum’s friend to her worst enemy, is all set to take advantage of this when she sees it.
It’s the final episode of “Darling Clementine”. It’s nice to see it doesn’t end on the cliché of the heroine miraculously rising from her sickbed to win the waterskiing contest and the prize money her dad so badly needs for a country cottage. Instead, she’s not sufficiently recovered from her hospitalisation to be on top form and is placed third, and then it’s the power of the press and human interest stories to the rescue.
Concrete Surfer Jean’s annoyed that there’s no skateboard park around and wants to do something about it. She’s also trying a lot harder to get along with her relatives, but as she doesn’t trust her cousin Carol, it’s not going to be easy.
Poor Paula! She has seen how the destruction of her father’s factory has made Marnie and her family suffer and is finally learning to look beyond herself. She tries to do something nice for Marnie, but it blows up in her face and makes her enemies worse. And here’s another development – Dad has escaped from prison.
In “Waking Nightmare”, Phil finally reads what has been in the newspapers about their escape – she’s actually busted a mentally ill girl out of an institution where she was receiving medical treatment. What does she do about it? She and Carol carry straight on, to where Carol’s gran lives – only to find gran isn’t there and the people who are don’t look very nice.
For once, Dad has praise for the Zodiac Prince when he helps a girl to prove herself as a mechanic.
In “Shadow on the Fen”, our heroines get a nasty shock when the Witchfinder shows up at school as the new archaeology teacher! What’s his game now? Is it connected with the apothecary’s shop being unearthed at the archaeological dig?
“I need air!” Jean thinks at how her aunt and uncle are fawning and fussing over her smarmy cousin when she dresses up for the theatre. Barf bags might be in order too. Blechh!
Spotty Muchloot’s put in charge of minding his dad’s prize sunflowers, but he prefers to mess with Alley Cat. The results are the sunflowers coming a cropper and Spotty being kicked out of the house. Now wishing you’d stuck to the sunflowers, Spotty?
In “Waking Nightmare”, Phil plunges even deeper into the nightmare when Carol takes another strange turn, causing her to take a nasty plunge over some hills. What’s more, Carol’s conduct has caused Phil to lose her suitcase and most of her money on a bus. That would be a vital clue to anyone looking for them.
Can “Paula’s Puppets” be used for good when they’ve only been used for revenge so far? This week, Paula puts it to the test. She uses their power to see if it gets Lindy, who’s in a coma because of it, to recover. But Paula doesn’t realise that while she’s doing it, one of her enemies is spying on her.
Meanwhile, Ella succeeds in bringing Clem out of her coma despite Val Lester’s tricks to stop her. Will she finally be able to prove it was Val and not her who was responsible for Clem’s accident?
Sue wishes she and her friends are on Cloud 9. Oh dear, watch what you wish for when your fun-bag’s around, Sue!
“Two Mothers for Maggie” reaches its penultimate episode. Maggie goes all out to help Miss Keyes make a go of the rundown theatre she’s bought over, and the results are promising. But what’s Mum, who’s never liked Miss Keyes, going to say about her return? And so the stage is set for the final episode.
In “Shadow on the Fen”, our protagonists clash with hoons, and things get worse when the Witchfinder recruits their help to destroy the witch ball, which is their protection against him. He fails this time, but he’ll try again, of course.
The Zodiac Prince and Shrimp decide to move – only it looks like they’re moving on straight into more trouble. The Zodiac Prince looks like he’s about to run someone over!
For this March issue we’ve got a fun cover, with fun with skateboarding and fun with juggling. And inside, Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag uses a spell to teach a stuffy man about fun.
Concrete Surfer Jean writes an essay on skateboarding, and is surprised to find teach liked it better than smarmy cousin Carol’s. Jean’s delighted to have triumphed over her sneaky cousin at last. Or has she? We know all too well that Carol will pull a fast one to stay top dog if her nose gets put out of joint.
In “Darling Clementine”, it’s now well and truly the end of Ella trying to win the waterskiing competition on Clem’s behalf. She turns to getting Clem out of the coma, but Val Lester, the girl responsible for Clem’s condition, is pulling dirty tricks to stop her.
Phil continues to protect Carol in “Waking Nightmare”, but it’s marred by Carol having strange mood swings between hysterics and happiness. A headline, which says a sick girl is missing, could explain things, but Phil fails to notice it.
The Zodiac Prince uses the power of the Zodiac wheel to give hopeless girls new talents, but soon finds it wasn’t the way to help them. They’ve gotten cocky and carried away with their new gifts, which has led to trouble. Can the Zodiac Prince find a way to put things right?
In “Two Mothers for Maggie”, Maggie tracks down Miss Keyes after she disappeared in the previous issue, but is shocked to find her cleaning in a rundown theatre.
A man throws a cricket ball at Alley Cat for disturbing his sleep when poor Alley Cat wasn’t even doing it. It all rebounds on the man when the ball goes his neighbour’s way instead.
Speaking of balls, in “Shadow on the Fen”, the girls find a witch ball can ward off the Witchfinder. Now that’s a funny twist – weren’t witch balls supposed to ward off witches?
After the power of the puppets causes an accident, Paula vows never to use them again. But she soon finds that the temptation to use them is hard to resist, not only because so many people are against her but also because the puppets won’t be destroyed.
It’s now March, so we present some March issues from Jinty. Mother’s Day (UK) is coming up, and in this issue, Jinty gives instructions on how to make a gift for her.
In Concrete Surfer, Jean’s trouble with her smarmy cousin Carol worsens. Jean has overheard Carol telling her parents something she didn’t want Jean to know about, but Jean couldn’t pick up what. There can be no doubt this is a gun in Scene 1 that is set to go off in Scene 3, and when it does, it will spell more trouble for Jean. Later, Jean’s hopes are raised that smarmy Carol will be caught out at last, but we wouldn’t bank on it. Not until the final episode, Jean, and that’s not for some episodes yet.
Concrete Surfer must have started a skateboarding craze. Alley Cat’s arch-enemy Spotty Muchloot has caught the bug, and his skateboarding is making him even more of a pest than usual for Alley Cat. But of course Alley Cat turns the tables on him and his skateboard in the end.
In a fit of pique, Sue tells her fun-bag she’ll have better luck without her around. Now that really is asking for a spell of bad luck – literally.
In “Two Mothers for Maggie” Maggie finds that one of her mothers, Miss Keyes, has put up her house for sale. Is it just one mother for her now?
Phil continues to hide Carol from the authorities although something’s now telling her that she should be checking things out more. As the two continue to travel together, it’s not only instinct that makes Phil uneasy – it’s Carol’s strange conduct as well.
The Zodiac Prince learns a few lessons about Earth food this week – like bath soap is not a food. Fortunately, he’s stopped before he gets a mouthful of soap, and later it’s his astral power to the rescue in cooking up a feast.
Paula uses the power of the puppets to get revenge on the people who are bullying her because of her jailed father. But the inevitable happens – it goes too far and now a girl’s injured because of it. This looks like the shock Paula badly needs to snap her out of her selfishness and set her on the path to redemption that is also part of the narrative.
The Witchfinder in “Shadow on the Fen” also causes a nasty accident, at an archaeological dig, which has unearthed a 17th century apothecary’s shop. A clear sign that our heroines are sniffing too close to something.
In “Darling Clementine”, Ella sprains her ankle, which puts paid to her entering the water-skiing heats on Clem’s behalf. She’s braving it all the same, but is her ankle up to it?
In this issue, two stories are clearly on their penultimate episodes: “Come Into My Parlour” and “Land of No Tears”.
In the former, Mother Heggerty’s spell forces Jody to set fire to the Kings’ store. But she’s been caught in the act. She could be facing criminal charges, but the blurb for next week says fire will strike at something else other than the store. Maybe someone is going to burn the old witch at the stake or something?
In the latter, Cassy comes close to losing the vital swimming marathon the Gamma Girls need to win because of a forced bargain with the ruthless Perfecta. Fortunately Perfecta injures herself from over-exertion in the race and drops out, freeing Cassy from all that and enabling her to catch up in the nick of time. Everyone is cheering her on, much to the villainous Hive Inspector’s chagrin. His response to secret helper Miss Norm’s delight in Cassy catching up – “What do you mean, Miss Norm? It’s a disgrace!” – cracks me up every time. Now Cassy is duking out the final length with two others and it’s so close. Everyone except the Hive Inspector and Perfecta is on the edge of their seats to see if Cassy will win.
“Two Mothers for Maggie” looks like it could be nearing its end as well. Mum is critically ill. It looks like the crisis has actually aroused a bit of conscience in Maggie’s horrible stepfather, but he’s not treating Maggie any better because of it.
A new story starts, “Paula’s Puppets”. Paula Richards is a spoiled, selfish girl whose rocky road to redemption starts when her father’s toy factory burns down and he is arrested for it. Her life turns upside-down while he protests his innocence. We believe him though nobody else does, but we know the poor bloke’s going to go down for it. Meanwhile, Paula finds some weird puppets at the burned-out factory, which seem to possess some kind of power.
People should really watch what they say with Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag around. Two pitying women whisper what an “absolute dragon” poor Jenny’s got for an aunt and she needs a knight in shining armour. Henrietta obliges, but she has taken it a bit literally and hijinks ensue. But of course it sorts out the old dragon.
Ella is not making much progress with her training for the waterskiing event she wants to win for her family, nor with convincing others she was not to blame for her cousin Clem’s accident. Then Ella makes progress with something else – finding the girl who really caused Clem’s accident. But when she confronts the girl, the miscreant makes it clear she is not going to own up and clear Ella’s name.
Alley Cat gets freebies from the sausage factory, but trust Spotty Muchloot to make trouble. Fortunately it all turns to the advantage of the factory and Alley Cat is rewarded, much to Spotty’s consternation.
Phil is trying to work out how break into Hardacre House, where she believes Carol is being held prisoner. It’s still very odd that Carol’s family clam up about it. It gets even odder when Phil learns Hardacre House and its owners are very mysterious, and she does not like the look of them when she sees them. After an accident with a tractor she is finally inside. The blurb for next week hints she will not like the look of what she finds there either.
Skateboarding is the only thing that gives Concrete Surfer Jean Everidge the upper hand over her smarmy cousin Carol. Jean’s about to start her new school with Carol, but the leadup to it is not going well, and Jean senses Carol is behind it.
Jody has become evil thanks to an additional spell from the witch Mother Heggerty. She now believes she is capable of anything, regardless of how terrible it is, and is loving every minute of it. How is she going to break free of Mother Heggerty’s power when right now she doesn’t even want to?
Cassy gets even more of a taste of how totalitarian this Land of No Tears is. She learns the Hive Inspector, who’s about to pay a visit, has powers to take you away: “No one knows where to, but you never return!” Shades of the Gestapo! Miranda is terrified she will meet this fate if the Inspector finds out she is secretly seeing her mother, and she breaks off with Cassy. Meanwhile, the ruthless Perfecta breaks off with her own friend to train every waking hour for the Golden Girl Award. Cassy is shocked to see the former bosom pals “walking away from each other like robots!”
Ella bravely sets out to learn to waterski to win the competition for Clem, in the face of everyone who’s against her because they think she deliberately caused Clem’s accident. But her first attempt at waterskiing is such a disaster she’s lucky she didn’t hurt herself.
The same can also be said for sneaky cousin Rodney when he steals Katie’s roller skates to overtake her in the “Race for a Fortune”. But he soon finds he’s nowhere near as good on them as she is. He goes careering down a hill and lands on the back of a rodeo steer with her! Roller skating is back in the hands of the expert by the end of the episode. Thanks to his little stunt she has taken the lead again, and she’s gotten a lot of money out of it as well.
In “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!”, a thief breaks into the school, his first attempt at crime. But his remark that he could become the world’s leading cat burglar really is asking for it with Henrietta around, especially when she’s the first thing he tries to steal. Needless to say, his first attempt at crime is his last by the end of the episode.
In the Gypsy Rose story, Susanna is given a snowstorm and finds it has a tale to tell, with each instalment appearing every time she shakes it. The trouble is, the tale is scaring her to death. Gypsy Rose tells Susanna that she must either follow it through to know how the tale ended or put the snowstorm away. Susanna decides to follow through because she must know (not to mention us readers) what the ending is, but what will the final shake of the snowstorm reveal?
Maggie’s sleazy stepfather shows what an abuser he is when he gets so mad he locks her in the coal shed without food or water. Then he refuses to let her see her TV debut, so she has to go to a TV shop in pouring rain to see it. Maggie has a good mind to tell Miss Keyes about the abuse, but she’s staying quiet because Mum doesn’t want word to get around.
Alley Cat is back. Arch-enemy Spotty Muchloot picks on him for first aid practice, and now poor Alley Cat looks like an oversized cocoon. But can he still turn things around?
Phil finds out the girl she saw being bundled off in the middle of the night is named Carol, and her mother is clearly not telling the truth about things. Phil manages to wheedle Carol’s current address out of the mother, enabling her to write to Carol. Carol’s reply is a coded message for help. The plot thickens!
This is Jinty’s first issue for 1978. It’s not her New Year issue, which took the odd turn of being on the last day of the old year 1977, but there are still New Year themes. We also get a delightful feature about Mark Hamill of Star Wars.
Jinty starts her first story for 1978, “Waking Nightmare”. The nightmare begins when Phil Carey is woken up by toothache and sees a girl being dragged off in the middle of the night. Her parents don’t believe her, and at the house where Phil saw the girl being taken, the mother denies everything – but she does make odd remarks about a secret and trouble she hoped to leave behind. We’re suspicious already.
Sue’s new year’s resolution is to be extra-nice to people, and she urges her fun-bag to hold her to it. But she soon finds her excessive niceness is turning her into a nuisance and now she’s in trouble with a lot of people. We suggest your resolution should just be yourself, Sue.
On the subject of niceness, Mother Heggerty has found the Saxtons and wants revenge on them, but she finds her slave Jody is too nice for that. So she casts an additional spell to make Jody evil. Now why the silly old witch couldn’t have picked an evil girl like Stacey from Jinty’s Slave of Form 3B in the first place we’ll never know, but we’re deeply worried. The spell is bound to make Jody far more evil than any genuinely bad girl we’ve seen in Jinty.
In the Land of No Tears, the cold-hearted residents get a real surprise when the “reject” Gamma Girls beat the odds and are through to the finals of the Golden Girl Award. It should be a victory celebration for Cassy, but security have put the damper on everything by saying they will be sending the Hive Inspector over to make enquiries. And judging from the way Miranda’s mystery mother is reacting, this Inspector is kind of like the Gestapo.
In part two of “Darling Clementine”, Clementine (Clem) is in a coma after some horrible girl knocks her into the river. Worse, her cousin Ella is being accused of it instead, and everyone, including her own Uncle, turns against her. Poor Ella is not even allowed to visit Clem in hospital. Not knowing what else to do, Ella bravely decides to train herself up for the water-ski event that Clem was going to enter.
“Race for a Fortune” takes a spooky turn, but a hilarious one. Katie thinks her cousins’ latest trick is to play Roman ghosts on her at an old barn. So when a pair of glowing Romans does appear, she thinks it’s a huge joke and plays along with it. But she learns later that the glowing Romans weren’t her cousins. In fact, they scared those cheating cousins off. Unfortunately, not right back to the beginning of the race.
The strife over “Two Mothers for Maggie” takes a very bad turn this week. Mum forbade Maggie to go to Miss Keyes’ party, where she could be on the rise as a star. Maggie goes there anyway and soon she is on the rise after saving Miss Keyes’ dog. Then Mum comes along in a terrible temper and drags her out in front of everyone. How embarrassing! And it’s not over. Poor Maggie has to face the wrath of her unfit guardian stepfather next week.
Little information is available on Richard Neillands. He was known to be a prolific artist in the 1970s and 1980s, though he was seen more frequently at DCT, and an incomplete list of his DCT stories can be found here. He was a regular artist in Mandy, Judy and Tracy with serials like “Unhappy Families”, “The Girl with No Shadow” and “Polly’s Painted Smile”. On Tammy, Neillands drew some Wee Sue stories, but was not a regular or long-lasting Wee Sue artist. He was probably used as a filler artist. [Edited to add: he was a filler artist in Sandie also.]
On Jinty, Neillands drew one serial, “Darling Clementine”, and a humorous regular, “Bizzie Bet and the Easies”. Bizzie Bet was an energetic girl who tries to get the lazy Easies off their butts every week, but the Easies always win in the end. Bizzie Bet lasted about six months (27 episodes), which although reasonable, did not make her a long runner compared to Jinty’s other humorous regulars such as “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” or “The Jinx from St Jonah’s”.
Slave of the Swan – first episode (artist Guy Peeters)
Waking Nightmare (artist Phil Townsend)
The Zodiac Prince (artist Trini Tinturé)
Paula’s Puppets (artist Julian Vivas)
Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
Shadow on the Fen (artist Douglas Perry)
Darling Clementine – final episode (artist Richard Neillands, writers Alison Christie)
My latest Jinty acquisition, thanks to Marc, and it complete several runs of Jinty stories in my collection. Among them are the last episode of “Darling Clementine” and the first episode of “Slave of the Swan”, the story of an amnesiac girl who falls foul of a spiteful ballet mistress who has a grudge against her mother. Next week we see another of Jinty’s classic stories, “Cathy’s Casebook”, and its blurb shows how well advanced the preparation for this story must have been. We are told that Cathy will save a lonely old shepherd, help an injured girl to walk again, stop a backward boy being persecuted, and solve an outbreak of food poisoning.
In the other stories, things are stepping up. Paula’s beginning to realise how nasty she has been to everyone in the past and she is partly responsible for the mean treatment she gets from them now. But her efforts to change backfire and make her even more unpopular. And to make it even more interesting, her wrongly-convicted father has escaped from prison! Is it the key to clearing his name or just to add drama to the story, and his vindication lies with Paula and her puppets?
In “Shadow on the Fen”, the witch finder turns up in the 20th century and Rebecca discovers how her friend Catherine took the witch-hunting rap for her at his hands in the past. Next week things are going to step up even more as the girls find out one of the witch finder’s secrets.
The Zodiac Prince’s latest effort to help someone impresses his father this time, and next week he tries fortune telling at a fair. How easy can that be when you’re the Prince of the Zodiac? Or will it be harder than we expect?
The Concrete Surfer wonders if she has got things wrong about Carol and is trying to be nicer. But is she doing the right thing or playing straight into Carol’s hands?
And in “Waking Nightmare”, Phil Carey is blaming herself for Carol’s disappearance because she realised too late that Carol had a phobia about trains. Fortunately she finds Carol and now they’re off to her grandmother’s. But when they arrive, the occupants are definitely not Gran! What has happened?
Alison Christie is credited with writing a number of stories in Tammy. She recently contacted this blog and clarified that she also wrote a number of stories for Jinty and other IPC titles, as well as for a number of DC Thompson titles. She continues to write for children, using her married name, so do look for Alison Mary Fitt when searching her out! She kindly agreed to do an email interview for this blog, for which many thanks are due.
Questions for her:
1 I saw a little on the Scottish Book Trust site that you started writing for DC Thomson on leaving school. Can you tell me a bit more about writing for girls’ comics and how long that career lasted? For instance, what titles did you write for, and on what basis (in house, freelance)? You said on the Scottish Book Trust site that you were “at one point turning out an episode a week for six picture story serials” – when would this have been, and how did you even manage it?!
On leaving school I worked in DC Thomson as a junior sub editor on Bunty, and was soon subbing scripts that came in from freelance writers. However, at that time, some of the serials were written in-house, so I got my first chance to write a serial, called “Queen of the Gypsies”. Later, I was moved to their new nursery comics which came out by the name of Bimbo, then Little Star, then Twinkle for girls. I wrote lots of text- and picture-stories for these, in house – though freelancers were used as well. After I got married, I still worked in-house at DCs… but then had 3 children in quick succession – so left and went freelance, submitting scripts for Twinkle, which had replaced the other two titles. I also freelanced for the various DC’s girls magazines, Judy, Debbie, Mandy, Nikki, Tracy etc…writing picture stories for them, though oddly enough, didn’t ever submit any story-line to Bunty, the mag I started on.
Then I thought I’d branch out and give IPC a go, and submitted a story-line to Mavis Miller of Jinty [at that point still editor of June & Schoolfriend] . She accepted it right away, and there began my freelance work for IPC, with June, Jinty, then Tammy, some stories for Misty – and, later, when the magazine Dreamer (for younger girls) started, and included photo stories, I wrote a serial called “Who Stole Samantha?” about a missing doll. Dreamer was short-lived, however, as was Penny, another IPC mag for younger girls. I wrote a serial for that entitled “Waifs of the Waterfall”. I have to say DC Thomson was a great training-ground as far as writing picture stories was concerned.
Sadly, Jinty/Tammy bit the dust around 1985, and suddenly vanished without any notification of this to their writers or artists. I continued writing for the DC Thomson stable of girls’ papers, but they all gradually gave up the ghost.
I have never stopped writing, though – and am now writing children’s books.
Six serials a week? Yes, at one point I was doing this, despite having 3 young children, working mostly at night when they were in bed. One of the freelance writers for one of the DC girl’s papers had died, and I was asked to finish his serials – so, along with 3 other serials for DC girl’s mags, plus a couple for Tammy and Jinty, that made six stories at that particular time.
2 What stories did you write in your comics career? Are there specific ones that stand out to you at this distance in time (for good or for ill)?
Alison reviewed her files and supplied the following list of stories that she wrote, with her own summaries
“The Grays Fight Back” (First story submitted to Mavis Miller, who was then editor of June & Schoolfriend, about a troubled family.)
War-time stories written for Mavis Miller / Jinty
“My Name is Nobody” (orphaned child in London Blitz who couldn’t remember her name) written for June & Schoolfriend when MM was the editor of that title [identified on the Comics UK Forum as “Nobody Knows My Name”, starting in the 20 November 1971 edition of June. It was illustrated by Carlos Freixas.]
“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.
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?’