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?’
Many apologies for the long break in between posts. Life has got hectic and the run-up to Christmas didn’t help!
Stories featuring sports are very prevalent across the range of girls’ comics titles. This clearly taps into both the day-to-day experiences of many or most schoolgirls (playing on their hockey or netball teams) and into aspirational ideals (winning regional or national contests, going on to have a career in their chosen sport, excelling at unusual sports). At one end of this theme, many many stories will have some element of sports included, simply as a part of the protagonist’s daily life; I don’t count these as “sports stories” per se. At the other end of the spectrum, there are stories that are clearly mostly about the pursuit of excellence in the protagonist’s chosen sport, with a sprinkling of some complicating factor to spice the story up, such as peer rivalry. And in between there are stories where the sports element are strongly included but given a reasonably equal weighting with other elements.
To me, therefore, a “sports story” needs to feature the sport in question as the main story element, or with equal weight with the other elements. Often the story positively teaches us various details of that sport in a didactic way, as if part of the expectation is that readers might have their interest sparked by that story and go on to take it up themselves. The protagonist is someone who takes seriously the idea of practice, learning, improvement in their chosen area: they are not just naturally gifted without trying at all, and part of the drive of the story is about their drive to improve or to excel.
It seems obvious, but it also needs to be a sport not an art: as you would expect, there are plenty of ballet stories, and these are excluded from my categorisation. Ballet has its rivalries but it is not a competition with winners and losers, except in artificial ways that the writer might set up (for instance in “The Kat and Mouse Game”, the ‘winner’ gains a contract with an influential ballet impresario).
Finally, it is worth remembering Jinty also had a strong focus on sports in ways that lay outside of the stories themselves: for a period of time there was a specific sports section in the comic, with articles about specific sports, improvement hints and tips (such as how to win at a bully-off in hockey), and interviews with sports women and men. Over and above this, there was a lengthy period where Mario Capaldi drew cover images illustrating a very wide range of sports – netball and rounders, yes, but also archery, bob-sledding, ski-jumping… These are not sports stories, but form part of the context in which the sports-themed stories need to be read.
There are so many strong sports stories that it is hard to choose a single one as a core example. A wide range of sports are represented: ones that a schoolgirl might well have direct experience of such as hockey, gymnastics, running; and more unusual ones like judo, water-skiing, and figure skating.
“White Water” (1979-80), drawn by Jim Baikie and included in the sports section that Jinty ran for a year or so from late 1979, is a classic example of a story that includes teachable elements as well as dramatic ones. Bridie is in a sailing accident with her father, who is killed: her grieving mother moves them away from the sea and into an industrial city that depresses Bridie mightily. As well as grieving for her father, she also has a gammy leg that was badly hurt in the accident, so Bridie is pretty fed up; but she then finds out about a local canoe club. She is determined to learn canoeing, especially once she is told about sea or white-water canoeing. Along the way there are rivalries and misunderstandings – her mother hates the idea of Bridie doing anything at all like sailing, and the existing star of the canoe club doesn’t like the challenge represented by this bright (and sometimes tetchy) new member. But the story includes lots of information about canoeing techniques, certainly enough to either help interest a reader in the sport, or even to help someone already learning it.
You can see below the wide range of sports represented in Jinty.
Life’s A Ball for Nadine (1981) – netball (and disco dancing, competitively)
As ever, there are clearly-related stories that don’t quite fit in the main theme. Sports are such a pervasive trope in the life of Jinty and other girls’ comics precisely because they were an important part of many girls’ school lives. Of course they also made up a big part of other popular fiction read by girls; it becomes a reinforcing theme that is always available for use.
Jackie’s Two Lives (1974-75) – features a mentally disturbed woman grieving over her late daughter and trying to recreate her in another girl, but also features horse riding and show-jumping
Wanda Whiter than White (1975-6) – the main story theme is constant trouble with an interfering, tale-telling girl, but also features horse riding and show-jumping
Champion In Hiding (1976) – the champion in question is a sheepdog, trained to win at dog trials
Rose Among the Thornes (1976) – the main story theme is family rivalry, but there are sections where Rose is involved in running races in her local village
Stage Fright! (1977) – includes some realistic elements of sailing
Land of No Tears (1977-78) – gymnastics and swimming as part of the futuristic competition to find the most perfect schoolgirl
The Changeling (1978) – main character loves horseriding and this is used as part of the abusive family/wishfulfilment story
Knight and Day (1978) – really a story about an abusive family but includes a family rivalry based around swimming and competitive diving
Paula’s Puppets (1978) – a story of magical objects and group strife, but includes elements of athletics (running)
Combing Her Golden Hair (1979) – a strange comb has the protagonist rebelling against her strict grandmother, whose rules include a ban on swimming
Freda’s Fortune (1981) – mostly wish-fulfilment gone wrong, with horseriding
Worlds Apart (1981) – each dream-like parallel world featured a society built around an individual’s interests, and this included a sporty girl’s world
This is probably one of the most pervasive themes you could possibly have in a girls’ comic; no doubt those who are expert in other comics titles will be able to mention many more examples of stories and of unusual sports featured in them. Reviewing the list above, I am surprised not so much by the number of stories as of the range of sports included. Of course the sports that girls played on a regular basis at school – hockey, swimming, athletics, netball, running – would feature in the girls’ comics. Even then, the weighting of specific sports doesn’t seem entirely even, mind you – in Jinty there was only one netball story compared to two or three hockey stories, and a few athletics stories. There is a noticeable absence of lacrosse stories despite the fact they are a staple of girls school prose fiction (I am sure they must be included in some other comics titles). I also don’t recall any rounders stories, which was a very typical summer sport for girls to play.
I am sure that other titles included some aspirational sports such as figure-skating or show-jumping as Jinty did, and the inclusion of some ordinary if less usual sports such as orienteering doesn’t seem unlikely either. However, the fact that skate-boarding, table-tennis, and judo were included as part of the range of stories shows, I think, that Jinty wanted to push the boat out and include elements that were not just a bit unusual, but also modern, fresh, and popular in the wider world: elements that were not marked as ‘élite’ and expensive.
Concrete Surfer – first episode (writer Pat Mills)
Meet the Singing Stuntman Actor Gareth Hunt (feature)
Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
Darling Clementine (artist Richard Neillands, writer Alison Christie)
Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
Race for a Fortune – final episode
Well, this is the issue that begins one of Jinty’s best remembered stories, Concrete Surfer. Skateboarding is the only thing to come out of Jean Everidge’s stay in Australia. Her family are losers who failed at everything in Australia. Jean comes back to Britain, where cousin Carol and her family are the opposite – successful and well off. And Carol likes nothing better than being the centre of attention. The trouble is, when Jean is on a skateboard, she is the centre of attention. This will make skateboarding the bone of contention between the two cousins for the duration of the story.
Ironically, skateboarding also features in the final episode of “Race for a Fortune”. Katie’s sneaky cousin Rodney barters for a skateboard to get ahead of Katie’s roller skates in the final lap on the race. Fortunately for Katie, Rodney is nowhere near as good as Jean on a skateboard. But with a name like Ebenezer, you have to wonder what the uncle has really left for the winner of the race. “Race for a Fortune” will be replaced next issue by a much darker story, “Paula’s Puppets”. In fact, Jinty dares us to be honest – would we do as Paula does when she finds some weird puppets with strange powers? Maybe, maybe not. But then, surely we are not embittered by the same ordeal that Paula faces in this story – being bullied and stigmatised after her father is imprisoned for insurance fraud. He protests his innocence but is not believed. However, that is a story for another entry on this blog.
In the other Pat Mills story in this issue, “Land of No Tears“, the Gamma girls are doing really well in the finals. And judging by the Hive Inspector’s attitude towards the Gamma girls, we can imagine that he is not pleased. But Cassy is still bound by her bargain with Perfecta to throw the swimming marathon, which will mean they lose the trophy and their one chance of better treatment. However, the blurb for next week tells us that fate is going to take a hand, so there be even more readers eager to buy the next issue!
In “Two Mothers for Maggie”, Maggie gets a break from her abusive stepfather. But then her mother falls ill and is taken to hospital. Good breaks never last long for heroines – until the end of the story, that is. In “Waking Nightmare”, Phil is trying for a break of a different kind – breaking into Hardacre House to rescue Carol. So far she has not had much success, and now she is finding there is a mystery about the house itself. Another reason readers will be lining up for the next issue. And in “Darling Clementine”, Ella is trying for jobs to raise money for her water-skiing equipment to get into the club. But the snobby girls at the club are not making her welcome, and we are told that next week they will get even more spiteful. And in “Come into My Parlour”, Mother Heggerty forces Jody into even more spiteful acts, this time at a department store.
Gypsy Rose disappears from Jinty with this issue and is not seen again until 13 May 1978. Also, she had previously used her own material and interacted with the characters in her stories as a consultant. However, when she returns she is recycling Strange Stories from June/Tammy and is bodged over the Storyteller.
Lastly, this issue advertises the first issue of Misty. For some reason we are told the issue will be on sale on 30 January although the issue will be dated 4 February.
Darling Clementine (artist Richard Neillands, writer Alison Christie)
The Eyes of Chang (artist Terry Aspin) – Gypsy Rose story
Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
Race for a Fortune
Sew Yourself a Sash! (feature)
I dug this particular issue out because the Gypsy Rose story featured on the cover has really stuck with me. For this reason the cover does as well. I decided to upload the story itself along with the cover.
The cover promises us that this is a chilling story, and it sure delivers. It ends on a grimmer note than most Gypsy Rose stories, despite Rose’s reassurances to the heroine that she will find happiness if she forgets. Usually evil is vanquished in Gypsy Rose stories, but not in this case. It is still there, ready to strike again, in the form of an evil, possessive dog who will go to any lengths, including murder, to get rid of anyone who he sees as coming between him and his mistress. We really feel for anyone the mistress hires in the future (or probably has hired in the past) and hope the dog hurries up and dies.
This was the last story to appear in the first Gypsy Rose series. After this, Gypsy Rose disappears from Jinty and is not seen again until 13 May 1978. Also, she had previously used her own material and interacted with the characters in her stories as a consultant. However, when she returns she is recycling Strange Stories from June/Tammy and is bodged over the Storyteller.
“Race for a Fortune” enters its penultimate episode. It’s a race across to the finish line. And the legendary monster (no, not Nessie) said to inhabit the loch they must cross? It turns out to be a money-making fraud, but helps Katie to get ahead of her scheming cousins after they smash her raft. She is setting off again, in a rowboat.
In “Land of No Tears“, the threads that will be tied up in the concluding episodes become manifest here. Cassie begins to discover the identity of the mystery trainer as her disguise comes off, and she is in for a big surprise when she sees the woman’s face. But we don’t see what the surprise is until the next issue. Perfecta manages to blackmail Cassie into throwing the swimming marathon in the finals after she discovers Miranda is seeing her mother illegally. On the other hand, Perfecta looks like she is seriously overdoing her training in her crazy determination to win the event…
Meanwhile, in “Darling Clementine” Ella’s training for the water-skiing event is not going well. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. And poor Ella is still being wrongly blamed for Clem’s accident and is not even allowed to visit her in hospital. She has to pay surreptitious ones.
In “Come into My Parlour”, Jody is still under the power of Mother Heggerty, who is forcing her to harm the Saxton family. But her sister Tess has begun to notice things. Can she help?
Meanwhile, the parents in “Two Mothers for Maggie” are no help to her – in finishing her homework. The extra chores she is forced to do are making it worse and worse and slaving is all step-dad sees Maggie as fit for. Miss Keyes offer to talk to them, but will they see reason? We will have to wait until next week to find out.
And in “Waking Nightmare”, Phil Carey believes she has finally tracked down the institution where Carol is being held. But how to get in?
Finally, we have the blurb that “Concrete Surfer” will start next week. “Start the gripping story of this rebel on wheels in your next super JINTY!” Funny, the blurb says the issue will be out on Monday, January 23 – but this issue is January 21. Looks like a typo.
This is the third consecutive issue I’ve posted in date order over the past few days: I wanted to get out an issue to show spooky story “Come Into My Parlour” but was so entranced by the covers of the issues after it that I then wanted to post them all. It’s a cover very of its time: I showed it to my brother yesterday and he said ‘is that from around 1978?’ without looking at the date itself. The skating gives it away of course, but yeah, he could identify it as precisely as that just from the cover.
“Concrete Surfer” is interesting in the way it’s written: protagonist Jean is actually pretty quiet in terms of how much she says out loud, but her inner monologue is sharp and rather bitter. Told by the advertising man to do some solo skating while smiling, she thinks to herself “I don’t feel like smiling at the moment, but I’ve got to, otherwise I don’t get paid…”. We don’t hear her accuse her cousin Carol of being the smarmy, spiteful girl that Jean thinks she really is, or not out loud, so for quite a long time it hangs in the balance as to whether Jean is right in her judgement of the world, because no crisis is caused by her blurting out something sudden.
Stories in this issue:
Concrete Surfer (writer Pat Mills, artist Christine Ellingham)