Tag Archives: fairy tale

Princess II, #15, 31 December 1983

Princess 15 cover

  • Sheena and the Treetoppers (artist Rodrigo Comos) – first episode
  • The Ghostly Ballerina (photo story)
  • Fairy Tale (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Enough to Make a Cat Laugh! (artist Phil Townsend) – complete story
  • Best of Friends… (photo story)
  • Suzy and Snowdrop (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Sadie-in-Waiting (artist Joe Collins)

“Sheena and the Treetoppers” starts this issue and leads off the cover. Sheena and her siblings discover a tree house, and they are determined it’s going to be their secret.

Clare Thomas learns the full story of Arabella Hood, “The Ghostly Ballerina”. Arabella died before her time and ever since then she has been exercising her brilliance through other dancers. She targets mediocre dancers, which makes them easy to fall for her bait. But she just sees them as tools and cares nothing for their wellbeing, and they suffer for it.

In “Fairy Tale”, Angie and Jane have misadventures with a deaf genie who mishears their wishes (would somebody please wish this genie get a hearing aid!), get chased by a giant spider, and pick up the Frog Prince – only to find all the other frogs are yelling that they are the Frog Prince and the frog they have is an imposter.

What’s “Enough to Make a Cat Laugh!” is not funny for the two girls in the story. The girls fight over the cat because each believes she has a claim to the cat. They don’t realise that the cat, in true feline fashion, has been making two homes out of their houses. The cat settles the squabble by giving each girl one of her kittens, and they become firm friends.

In “Suzy and Snowdrop” a clue is dropped as to why Aunt Alice is so merciless in forcing Jane to ride, which will definitely be followed up later. Meanwhile, Aunt Alice forces Jane to enter a gymkhana although Jane is not up to standard, too frightened – and under too much pressure because everyone expects her to live up to the family’s reputation for top horsemanship. Definitely a recipe for disaster.

The “Best of Friends” are in danger of falling out because Katie sees Linda as coming between her and her best friend Lizzie. Or is she just being silly and jealous? Katie’s mum tries to talk to her about it and get her to patch things up, but the friendship remains on the rocks – and is getting even more rocky.

Sadie makes a New Year’s resolution to get up earlier so she can work earlier – much to the annoyance of the still-sleeping Grovel and Cook.

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Princess II, #13, 17 December 1983

Princess 13 cover

 

  • The Ghostly Ballerina (photo story) – first episode
  • Fairy Tale (artist Julio Bosch) – first episode
  • Suzy and Snowdrop (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • True Friends for Tansy – final episode
  • Alice Spring is Missing! (photo story) – final episode
  • Cinders on Ice
  • Sadie-in-waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Princess Diana Pinup

I have come into a few more Princesses (thanks to Marc), so we continue with more Princess II entries.

Two stories begin and two stories end in this issue. On the cover is the beginning of Princess’s first (and last) ballet story, “The Ghostly Ballerina”. Clare Thomas lives for ballet and is shattered when she is told she has to leave ballet school because she’s not good enough. Then a mysterious ballerina appears and says she can make Clare as brilliant a dancer as she is – but how on earth can she do that?

In the other new story, “Fairy Tale”, Jane Graham and her horrible cousin Angie are whisked away to a fairy tale land where they find Sleeping Beauty. Angie’s response is to steal Sleeping Beauty’s necklace, which shows just how unsavoury she is. Then they find they are now trapped in this world.

The two stories that end are “True Friends for Tansy” and “Alice Spring is Missing!”. Tansy is now free to say that her dad is her friends’ favourite pop star. Her friends are proved genuine – and pinching themselves when they get royal box tickets to his concert. Alice Spring and Carrie finally get help against the kidnappers when the people they were trying to convince actually look into it instead of assuming it’s a joke. They also nab a pickpocket on the train into the bargain.

In the ice pantomime, Ella lands the starring role of Cinderella. The trouble is, the horrible family who abuse her are going to be watching the performance and find out her secret.

Suzy agrees to Aunt Alice’s deal to help Janet to ride because it will keep her near Snowdrop. But Janet is scared stiff of horses and refuses to ride, while her ruthless aunt keeps forcing her to do so because it’s the family tradition and has no sympathy for her problem whatsoever.

Poor Sadie wants to do Christmas shopping, but doesn’t get the chance because everyone else keeps lumbering her with their shopping lists.

Princess II, #18, 21 January 1984

Princess cover 18

  • Sheena and the Treetoppers (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • The Ghostly Ballerina (photo story) – final episode
  • Fairy Tale (artist Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?)) – final episode
  • School of Dark Secrets (artist Carlos Cruz)
  • Sadie-in-Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Lena Lends a Hand… (artist John Johnston) – complete story

Issue 18 was the last Princess II to use the Girl II format and newsprint that the series had used since #1. From #19, Princess II switched to the same format, newsprint and page count as Tammy. She dropped the photo stories and the colour pages and became an exclusively picture story comic like Tammy. In so doing, she broke away from being the sister comic to Girl II and became more like the sister comic to Tammy, though she did not say so. She hailed the new look as “great news”, but it was clearly anything but. In fact, it was a sign that she was in trouble and cutting costs. This is particularly telling in her reprinting old serials from Tammy and Jinty. Years later these reprints had the benefit of enabling some of the original artwork from IPC girls’ comics to survive, of which very little has. But at the time, a new comic falling back on reprints from older titles was a very, very bad sign.

Princess great news

As Princess II drops the photo stories this issue, naturally this is the last episode of “The Ghostly Ballerina”. Clare finds a way to lay the troublesome ghost of Arabella Hood and free herself from Arabella’s power: create a ballet about Arabella’s life to give her the fame that her premature death deprived her of.

Also ending this issue is “Fairy Tale”, our tale of mixed-up fairy tales. It gets even crazier with a genie who grants two wishes instead of three, and he is so deaf he often mishears your wishes – to the cost of the evil Morgana when she calls upon him for wishes. The greedy Angie does not emerge from the adventure much improved once the girls return home, though she does get a comeuppance for it.

“Lena Lends a Hand…”, the complete story, is clearly a filler story to mark time until the whole new lineup begins in the new look Princess next issue. Lena tries to follow the Brownie motto and lend a hand one Saturday, but her efforts always keep going wrong – until she unwittingly lends a hand to catch a thief.

Judy Marshall is beginning to unravel the mystery of “The School of Dark Secrets”. The school staff are in some sort of secret occult, and they say their thirteenth sister has arrived, which completes the coven. They are referring to a portrait, and when Judy gets a look at it, she finds it is of a girl who looks just like her!

Grovel is taking delight in spooking everyone with the ventriloquism he has learned from a book. But it isn’t long before Sadie learns to fight fire with fire.

A club called the Treetoppers has formed around Sheena’s treehouse. But someone is spying on them. Is it the snobby Beverley Sneed, who’s already suspicious, or someone else? Sheena soon finds that somebody has definitely been around the treehouse, and they’ve stolen her bike too.

Princess II, #16, 7 January 1984

Princess cover 16

  • The Ghostly Ballerina (photo story)
  • Suzy and Snowdrop (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Fairy Tale (artist Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?))
  • School of Dark Secrets (artist Carlos Cruz) – first episode
  • Best of Friends… (photo story)
  • Sheena and the Treetoppers (artist Rodrigo Comos?)
  • Sadie-in-Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Princess Diana Pinup

The cover story is Princess’ one and only ballet story, “The Ghostly Ballerina”. Clare is in the power of a ghost ballerina named Arabella Hood whose power can make her dance brilliantly, but also makes her life a nightmare, and Arabella can harm others around Clare as well. The advantage of doing it as a photo story is that we get correct and graceful ballet; after all, they would have to use real ballerinas for the models. This is something that does not always happen with hand drawn ballet stories (depending on the style and research of the artist). The disadvantage is that the ghost does not look very convincing, especially as the photo story is in colour, which shows flesh colour more. More white makeup on the model or shooting the serial in black and white might have helped.

In “Suzy and Snowdrop”, poor Jane makes a complete fool of herself at a gymkhana when her demanding Aunt Alice forces her to enter it although she’s scared stiff of horses. Then Suzy realises Aunt Alice seems to have a thing about mounting horses herself, and she finds the answer to that mystery when she opens a silver box. But then, it looks like Aunt Alice has driven Jane too far because Suzy discovers she’s run away.

There is some controversy about the artist who draws “Fairy Tale” (below). The work is signed Julio Bosch, but the same or similar style has been ascribed to Martin Puigagut. I don’t know whether it is the same artist using a pseudonym or two different artists with a similar style. Both things have happened in girls’ comics. Some clarity could be useful here. In the story, Jane and her selfish, greedy cousin Angie find themselves in a fairy tale world where all the fairy tales are getting mixed up. They meet the frog prince who needs the kiss of a princess to change him back, and the only ones available are Sleeping Beauty and Morgana, the evil villainess of the story. Then it’s a dash of Snow White when the magic mirror says the awful Angie (of all people!) is the fairest in the land, not Morgana. So Morgana tells her guards to find Angie and “off with her head!” Hmm, do we have a sneaking hope that Morgana will succeed there?

Fairy tale

In “School of Dark Secrets”, Judy Marshall does not like the creepy-looking Miss Grimkin, headmistress of Tadbury Boarding School, who seems unusually interested in her. It should be very suspicious when Judy is given a free space at Miss Grimkin’s school, which has never happened to anyone before. And things sure get creepy when Judy hears chanting in the night. Nobody else does, because it looks suspiciously like they are being drugged from drinking the hot chocolate they receive.

In “Sheena and the Treetoppers”, Sheena Hunter and her siblings are thrilled about the treehouse they have found. They discover the treehouse was very dear to Edwina, a girl who had to leave it behind to get married. Then Sheena starts getting dreams of Edwina urging her to save the treehouse. Is the treehouse haunted or something? I cannot quite identify the artist. I’m leaning toward Rodrigo Comos, but I am not sure.

Sheena

“Best of Friends…” is the old three’s a crowd routine. Katie Thomas and Lizzie Burton have been best friends until Linda comes along and Katie feels she is being shut out of things. Or is it her jealousy and emotional reactions that are tearing the friendship apart? That’s the question this week.

Sadie runs after a piece of litter that Grovel dropped. By the time she catches it and drops it in the bin, she has left a messy trail of chaos behind her. The same gag has also been used in “Snoopa”.

Worlds Apart (1981)

Sample images

Worlds Apart 23a

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Worlds Apart 23b

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Worlds Apart 23c

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Worlds Apart 23d

Publication: 25 April 1981 to 3 October 1981

Artist: Guy Peeters
Writer: Unknown (this story has been incorrectly credited to Pat Mills in other publications)

Summary

“Imagine the dream worlds inside your head becoming real! That’s what happened to six girls from Crawley Comprehensive after an accident with a road tanker carrying dangerous chemicals from a secret government research establishment”.

Each world is governed by the respective girl’s characteristic – making it an ideal world for her, but a nightmare for the other girls: “It seems that given a free rein, the worst comes out in us.” The only release from these worlds is for its respective creator to die – and this happens when each creator meets her downfall through the very same characteristic that shaped her world. The respective adventures and nightmares in each world develop as follows:

Sarah (greedy): Sarah’s world is ruled by fat, greed and gluttony. The people only think about food and being as fat as they can possibly be; 20 stone is “such a trim figure”. Even the animals are fat, including the sparrows. Exercise is considered “disgusting”. The girls are emaciated by the standards of this world, even fat Sarah. So the girls are force-fed in hospital until they are so grotesquely obese that they can hardly walk. Sarah is the only one to enjoy this world because she can stuff herself with as much food as she likes and nobody calls her “fatty”. Then Sarah gets a horrible shock when sporty Ann dies from running half a mile because she is too fat. Now Sarah sees the fatty world in a whole new light. Afterwards she falls into a river and drowns because she can’t swim.

Ann (sporty): Ann’s world is ruled by sport. Education, clothes, foodstuffs, food consumption, architecture, city planning, transport, politics, war, and even the death penalty are all linked to sport. In fact, everything revolves around sport and keeping fit at all costs, even if you are old and infirm. Ann simply loves her world because she can indulge in sport at every waking moment. But like the others, Ann’s indulgence becomes her undoing. It begins when the Soviet Union declares war on Britain. War is played with a sports match; the losing team is executed and the invading country just walks in if its team wins. Ann is honoured to be in the British team, but doesn’t know that the Russians are cheating by taking drugs. When Britain loses, Ann meets her downfall by the very thing she loves – sport. The method used to execute her is to be tied to an exercise bicycle until she dies from exhaustion.

Samantha (vain): Samantha’s world is ruled by vanity. It is a fairy tale world and she is Sleeping Beauty – who rules this world more than her royal parents. But Samantha is no fairytale princess. She is cruel, tyrannical, power mad, and indulges in admiring her beauty at every waking moment. Her castle is known as the Castle of Mirrors because there are mirrors everywhere for Samantha to admire her beautiful face. As for the other girls, they are her downtrodden servants and threatened with torture if they displease her. Mo, whom Samantha dislikes, suffers the most in this world – partly because she refuses to be downtrodden.

Then, when Samantha dumps Prince Charming for the Frog Prince, he gets revenge by hiring the witch (Mo’s mother!) who originally put Samantha to sleep. So the witch turns Samantha’s vanity against her with a spell that causes Samantha’s face to appear as a pig when reflected in the mirrors. Samantha becomes hysterical when she realises that she can never see her beautiful face again. “How can I live without admiring myself? I can’t stand it!” Samantha shrieks like a maniac, shattering all the mirrors and herself in the process. Talk about narcissism.

Mo (delinquent): Mo’s world is ruled by crime, where crime, violence and anarchy are the rule. Everyone has prison numbers, and if they are stripped of them they become non-persons and fall prey to lynch mobs. Education at reform schools (which in the girls’ case is modelled on Alcatraz and patrolled by guards with live bullets in their guns) teaches crime (safe-cracking, forgery, framing, pickpocketing etc). The only crime in this world is to do a good deed, which is punishable by lynching – and nearly happens to the other girls. It seems the perfect world for the delinquent Mo to flourish – until she is kidnapped by gangsters and given a pair of concrete shoes. This has Mo anxious to turn over a new leaf if she returns to the real world before she is even thrown into the river to drown.

Clare (intellectual): Clare’s world is ruled intellectualism, and the size of your IQ determines your standing in society. At the top of society are the “swots” and at the bottom are the “dullards” – a dimwitted subhuman species who are classed as animals and are treated as such (experimentation, slaughter houses, etc). The other girls are dullards because Clare always considered them stupid, “so in her world, we are stupid.” Clare is an arrogant, clinical scientist ready to perform experiments on her “dullard” classmates. But she doesn’t get the chance because dullard liberationists break them out of the laboratory and turn them loose into the wild.

Clare comes after them, but she quarrels bitterly with her co-worker who wants to make a dullard wildlife film. Clare protests that this is cruel to the dullards because they cannot survive in the wild. The man retorts that she was cruel herself, for experimenting on them and what’s more, the law states that his word overrules hers because his IQ is higher than hers. Well, these were the rules Clare made for this world. Then the helicopter crashes. Clare is unhurt and is saved by her dullard friends. But she cannot survive in the wild herself; she runs away and dies in an unshown accident.

Jilly (timid): Jilly’s world is ruled by fear. It is a horror-movie Goth world where everything serves only one purpose – to terrify! There is a particular emphasis on vampires, and lessons in school are geared to turn pupils into vampires, with coffin building lessons, blood pudding (with real blood) in domestic science, and first aid class includes mouth-to-neck resuscitation i.e. be bitten on the neck and be turned into one of the Undead.

Clare realises that if Jilly becomes one of the Undead, she will never die – and the only way to escape this horror world is for Jilly to die. They will become trapped in this world if Jilly becomes one of the Undead and never dies, and in the penultimate episode it looks like this is going to happen. The girls do save Jilly from becoming one of the Undead, but she is a girl who is still scared of her own shadow. This too is taken to its extreme – Jilly is attacked and killed by her own shadow.

Afterwards
The girls now wake up in hospital in the real world. They discuss their adventure and ponder over why their worlds were so horrible: “We’re not terrible people, are we?” Clare decides it was because if you take things to extremes, it gets all twisted. The girls then reflect on the lessons they have learned, including becoming more tolerant and understanding, that greed, sport, cleverness and beauty are not everything, and crime does not pay.

Thoughts
“Worlds Apart” was Jinty’s last science fiction/fantasy story before her merge with Tammy in 1981. It was also the last serial that Guy Peeters drew for Jinty. In discussions of girls’ comics this story is widely regarded as Jinty’s ultimate classic in science fiction, not to mention being an incredible adventure story, perils-and-adversity story and a sobering, thought-provoking morality story. It touches all of us because we have all had a dream world at some point and wished they could come true. But if they did, would they live up to our expectations or would they turn out to be the stuff of nightmares?

Although “Worlds Apart” is considered one of the best, perhaps it could have been better. The ending suffers a bit because it looks like it was rushed to make way for the seven-issue ‘countdown’ to the merger. The last world is given short shrift (one and a half episodes while the others get four or five), so it is not as developed as much as the others and Jilly emerges as the only one not to learn anything from her world. Instead, the other girls end up feeling sorry for her for being so terrified. It feels a bit unsatisfying. All right, so maybe Jinty wanted to make a statement here that some people never learn. Or they cannot learn because they are too entrenched in what they are. This is what some of the others begin to think about Jilly: “If this is Jilly’s mind, she must be permanently scared, poor girl!” Then again, the last two episodes were given four pages instead of the usual three. I have observed that an increase in pages and even double episodes can be a sign of pressure to finish a story quickly to clear the decks fast for something big – such as a merger.

Nonetheless, “Worlds Apart” is far more hard hitting and bizarre than anything Jinty had produced before in moralism as it depicts the dangers of extremism (extremes of greed, sports-mania, vanity, crime, intellectualism and fear), and how terrible the consequences can be if extremism is allowed to carry to its logical conclusion. In fact, Clare decides that this is why the worlds were so horrible.

It also took the torture of its heroines to fantastical heights of grotesqueness and perversity that remain unmatched today. For example, in the fat world the girls are force-fed until they are grotesquely fat – probably the “trim figure” of 20 stone. In the sports world they are expected to exercise while they have their school dinners, take cold showers to toughen them up, and run across the town to their dormitories because the run will help keep them fit. And in the horror world, they have classes for building their own coffins for when they are turned into vampires. Talk about digging your own grave….

There is perverse and tongue-in-cheek humour and satire too, such as where the vain world turns the fairy tale on its head. Sleeping Beauty is a tyrant instead of an innocent princess, she jilts her prince, and you find yourself sympathising with the fairy-tale witch who punishes Samantha. There are some jokes even in the horror world – the train station, for example, is called Lugosi station, and Britain is called The United Kingdom of Transylvania. And in the sports world, we learn that Hitler fought World War II via a footy match. Yes, the class is shown a slide of Hitler – “German manager and chief coach” – in his footy gear!