Tag Archives: Fancy Free

Jinty & Penny 2 May 1981

jinty-cover-2-may-1981-1

This week’s text story should delight readers who ever met a bully teacher. The appropriately named Miss Bull (which lends itself to “Bully-bonce”, “Bossy Bully” or, most often, “Bully”) runs her sports classes like a drill sergeant. So the girls are dismayed when Bully pushes her way into coming on their half-term camp. However, when Bully shows just how competent she is at pitching a tent, it’s a humbling for her and a huge laugh and relief for all the girls when the Head decides Bully’s not fit to supervise the camping.

Pam strikes problems in raising the money to cover the costs of the school magazine that the “Worms” ripped up. She hasn’t patched things up with Goofy, and we are warned nasty Jill Cook is going to make even more trouble.

Betty’s got a really crazy plan for Belle’s diving training this week – she wants Belle to take the place of a stunt diver at the fairground. Now this looks awfully dangerous for a girl who’s not trained in the stunt, and the stuntwoman has clearly taken years to perfect it!

In “Worlds Apart”, the girls learn the meaning of gavage in this bizarre world where everyone is grotesquely fat, and the fatter the better. In hospital, the girls are force fed until they are just as fat. Only greedy Sarah is enjoying it because it’s her kind of world. Could there be a clue here?

This week’s recycling of a Strange Story in the Gypsy Rose tales treats Jinty readers to some Eduardo Feito artwork. When Clare stops in a small village with her singing group she feels like she’s been there before. Even weirder things start happening when they rehearse in the community hall.

Gaye pulls tricks on Sir Roger with a tape recorder to stop him being so lazy. When Sir Roger discovers the ruse he decides to fight fire with fire, although he finds 20th century technology a bit incomprehensible.

Tansy’s heartthrob pop star is in town, but she’s having trouble getting even a view of him. In the end she goes better than she ever imagined.

Fancy’s mother finally tells her a few facts about her absent father. He’s an escaped convict who claims he was innocent of the crime he went to prison for. He remains at large and his whereabouts are unknown. Ben says he may be able to provide more information.

Helen’s struggling with her nursing and is swotting too hard. The girls give her a book that they hope will help. Later, suspicion falls on Lesley when a patient reports a theft.

Snoopa’s got earache, but wrapping his ear to keep it warm is getting him into all sorts of scrapes.

Advertisements

Jinty & Penny 28 March 1981

jinty-cover-28-march-1981

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Ghost Dancer – final episode (artist Phil Townsend)
  • The Queen’s Vengeance! Gypsy Rose story (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • The Long Shot – text story (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Just the Job
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Are You Good at Arguments? (Quiz)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Fancy Free! – first episode (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Spot of Trouble – A Jinty & Penny special story (artist José Casanovas)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)

This week the Pond Hill-hating Wormsley Comprehensive makes its only appearance in the entire run of Pam of Pond Hill. It is such a neglected, rundown, graffiti-smeared dump it makes Pam appreciate Pond Hill. It’s no wonder the Wormsley pupils (“Worms”) are so rough. So could jealousy be the reason they hate Pond Hill? Pam and Steve never get the chance to even ask, for they get nabbed by the “Worms” and are now set to get a variant on tarring and feathering.

Two Phil Townsend stories overlap this week: “The Ghost Dancer” (ends) and “Fancy Free!” (begins). Ferne embarks on secret training to get out of that wheelchair and back into her ballet shoes. Fancy Cole is a problem girl who wants to have the freedom to do anything she likes. That includes bullying, it would seem. Still, things could be so different if her mother was kinder and looked after the place more instead of indulging in bingo all the time.

“A Spot of Trouble” is a Jinty and Penny special story. Apparently it is a filler, as two serials ended last issue but only one begins this issue. Natasha rescues an abandoned pup, Spot, in the Gulf States. The locals don’t much care for dogs, so the hotel manager doesn’t see the point in Natasha befriending Spot. He sees things in a new light when Spot saves Natasha from a deadly snake. The artist of this story is a bit uncertain. It looks like José Casanovas but it does not have the intricate detail that his other Jinty stories had. Perhaps it is an early Casanovas reprinted from somewhere.

Tansy’s in a fix when she forgets Mother’s Day and has to lay her hands on a present fast. Sir Roger is embarrassed when he accompanies Gaye to the museum and finds a document he signed is on display, and it says he is “ignorant, timid and the biggest liar in the kingdom”. It’s hijinks time when he tries to keep Gaye from finding out.

“The Long Shot” is the first of the text stories that will continue during 1981, with the spot illustrations being expanded for the covers. The cover could also be considered the last of the Mario Capaldi sports covers as it features a sport. There are no “Winning Ways” this week, so perhaps they have now been phased out.

This week’s Gypsy Rose story is another recycled Strange Story (which appeared in June). Julie laughs at ghosts and the supernatural, and never refuses a dare. So she accepts a dare to spend the night in a house supposedly haunted by a vengeful Elizabeth I. Julie emerges not quite sure if what she saw that night was a dream or not, but she stops laughing at ghosts. The Storyteller was more smug about this than the paste-up of Gypsy Rose is. Julie also discovers a lost miniature that not only triggered the apparent haunting but also saves the house from demolition. The story has been uploaded to the Gypsy Rose gallery in the panel section.

Miss Norm reveals the full story of how she became to be both the Hive Mother and the Gamma Girls’ secret trainer. Her training is paying off because the Gamma Girls are doing so well in the finals – much to the consternation of the bigoted Hive Inspector. Unfortunately Cassy made a bargain to let Perfecta beat her in the swimming marathon and sees no way out of it. However, the blurb for next week says fate is going to step in, so it sounds like there is a way out after all.

Jinty & Penny 21 March 1981

jinty-cover-21-march-1981

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Ghost Dancer (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Kathie Come Home! Gypsy Rose story (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)
  • Just the Job
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
  • No Medals for Marie – final episode (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Alison Christie Fitt)
  • Winning Ways 49 (writer Benita Brown)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine – final episode (artist Mario Capaldi)

Why do Pond Hill and Wormsley Comprehensive hate each other? That’s the question Steve intends to lead off the first issue of the school magazine with. He is set on going to Wormsley Comprehensive to conduct an interview with its pupils and is dragging Pam there with him, despite warnings from Goofy that the Wormsley pupils will just do something horrible to them. If you ask me, the Wormsley pupils don’t even know they hate Pond Hill or ever stop to think about it. The Pond Hill pupils certainly have no idea what the feud’s about.

Two stories end this week: “No Medals for Marie” and “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”. Marie decides it’s time to confront “that jealous battle axe” of a godmother over the blackmail she’s been pulling to stop her winning medals ever since they first met. However, Marie is in for a surprise, and it’s the one that guarantees a happy ending for all concerned. The godmother now goes from stopping Marie winning medals to a race to see who can win the most medals and trophies the fastest. No medals for guessing who’s leading. In “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”, the team resorts to a most unusual netball throw to make sure Nadine gets into the disco contest that her jealous rival’s cronies are trying to stop her entering. Nadine wins hands down of course, and “she’s the disco and netball queen!”.

One of the replacement stories starting next week is “Fancy Free!”, but why is there only one new story when two have ended? It also means two Phil Townsend stories will overlap because Townsend will finish “The Ghost Dancer” while starting “Fancy Free!”. Normally that sort of overlap happens with Phil Gascoine in Jinty.

In “The Ghost Dancer”, Ferne ends her wheelchair deception to save a fellow pupil from a dangerous pillar. But Ferne takes the pillar herself and it turns her deception into reality! Now she’s stuck in a wheelchair for real. Will she ever dance again?

There is even more cause for tears in “Land of No Tears” this week. To save Miranda from being taken away, Cassy is forced into a bargain to throw the swimming marathon in Perfecta’s favour – and so lose the Golden Girl Trophy that is the Gamma Girls’ ticket to a better life.

Gypsy Rose brings another recycled Strange Story. Twin sisters are separated after an accident and one loses her memory. So she can’t understand these strange flashes of a girl looking just like her and calling her name. Of course it’s the twin calling out for a reunion.

A misunderstanding has Tansy think Mr Grady’s being put in a pensioners’ home. She rallies the whole street to save him, but ends up in the doghouse with them all when the misunderstanding comes to light.

Sir Roger puts on a show of spooking to get Stoney Hall into a guidebook. Unfortunately he meets his match in the guidebook’s editors, who are the biggest sceptics he has ever met.

Jinty & Penny 16 May 1981

jinty-cover-16-may-1981

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

Stories in this issue

  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Diving Belle (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • The Silent Admirer– text story (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Ancient Remedy – Gypsy Rose story (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
  • Just the Job
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Worlds Apart (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Fancy Free! – (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Winning Ways 52 (writer Benita Brown)
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

In “Pam of Pond Hill” Goofy doesn’t realise nasty Jill Cook is taking advantage of him. He’s been completely taken in by her sob story that her father’s a bully (yeah, riiiiight). And now poor Mrs Dankins’ flat has been invaded by Jill and her mates for a wild party, all because of Goofy’s gullibility.

Another party gets gatecrashed in “Diving Belle” so Belle can use the diving board there. It’s one of Betty’s desperate measures to get Belle trained up for this all-important dive she keeps foreseeing.

This week’s Gypsy Rose story is completely new. For once there’s no recycled Strange Story. Joanne’s got warts on her right hand and she finds a very unusual helper – the ghost of the Wise Woman of Barling Castle. Cromwell’s goons executed the wise woman for witchcraft, but that clearly hasn’t stopped her from curing people.

A witch also appears in this week’s episode of “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost”. Sir Roger tries a dating service for ghosts, but is not impressed when it pairs him up with a witch. The dating service must have slipped up at the witch’s end as well because she wants Sir Roger for a servant, not a date.

The protagonist in this week’s text story has more luck with dating than Sir Roger. Jenny is a shy girl who finds a poem that seems to be from a secret admirer. It turns out the poem was not for her, but it cures her of her shyness and pairs her up with a real date.

In “Worlds Apart”, the girls reach their limit with the fatties’ world when Ann dies because she’s too fat for running and the fatties’ idea of first aid is to shove assorted foods down Ann’s throat to see if they revive her. The girls start throwing food right back at the people who keep shoving it in front of them. Things take a surprise twist when Sarah seems to drown but is then rescued by…Ann?

An Oliver Twist film gives Tansy the strangest of nightmares. She finds her whole home and Jubilee Street in Victorian settings. Her brother Simon is all filthy from cleaning chimneys. Victorian manners must have impacted on the Victorian Mr Court because he actually serves Tansy for once. Tansy finds herself a maidservant to snobby Angela, but isn’t taking any of Angela’s arrogance. The dream provides plenty of fodder for the homework Tansy’s teacher sets later: an essay on imagining what it is like to live in Victorian times. The full episode has been uploaded on the Peter Wilkes page at https://jintycomic.wordpress.com/galleries/panel-gallery/peter-wilkes/

In “Fancy Free!” there is a shock over the money Ben gave to Fancy – it came from the bank robbery Fancy’s father was imprisoned for. While Mum faces awkward questions at the police station over the money, Fancy goes to Ben for a good explanation.

In “Angela’s Angels”, Lesley doesn’t want her fellow Angels to know her father’s rich. Unfortunately, pulling the wool over their eyes is causing misunderstandings. Meanwhile Helen brings a kitten into the hospital, which is against regulations. Worse, it is about to trip a blind patient.

Jinty & Penny 23 May 1981

jinty-cover-23-may-1981

Pam of Pond Hill and her friends have been suspended from school because of that nasty Jill Cook, who is having them carrying the can for a crime she did. Their parents are outraged and want their children’s names cleared or they will take them away from Pond Hill.

This is the day for Diving Belle’s all-important dive. Betty has now had the final vision of where she is meant to do it, and she must do it urgently. But the police are closing in because of all the liberties Belle and Betty have taken, so will they get the chance to do the dive?

This week’s text story is about a do-it-yourself Dad who is about as good at DIY as Homer Simpson. Unlike Homer Simpson, he gives it up after the hijinks in the story.

Gypsy Rose recycles another Strange Story. Jenny mistakenly uses her dad’s raffle ticket for the old message-in-a-bottle routine. The bottle goes all the way around to Australia where Jenny, who has now emigrated there, uses it to fend off a shark!

Sir Roger is a film star this week. Unfortunately they forgot that being a ghost, he wouldn’t show up on film. Tansy is in need of pest control this week. No, it’s not her brother Simon and Peter the Joker – it’s a mouse that’s taken up residence in the house.

It’s the penultimate episode of “Fancy Free!”. Ben once told Fancy running away was a mug’s game, but now he’s doing it himself because he’s terrified the police will find him, and he’s an escaped convict. Unfortunately he has a serious accident while doing so.

In “Worlds Apart” the girls are surprised to find themselves clear of the fatties world after Sarah seems to drown and is rescued by Ann, who was supposed to be dead. They think things are back to normal. However, they realise this is not the case when they look out the window and find there is not a single vehicle in sight. Everyone is getting around by running and they’re all wearing tracksuits.

In “Angela’s Angels” an emergency catches Sharon at an awkward moment. She was sunbathing on the roof when the emergency chopper arrived, so she was wearing a swimsuit instead of uniform. Now disciplinary action is imminent!

 

Jinty and Penny 25 April 1981

Jinty cover 25 April 1981.jpeg

  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Diving Belle (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • A Lot to Sing About – text story (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • The Missing Link – Gypsy Rose story (artist Juan Garcia Quiros)
  • Just the Job – Feature
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Worlds Apart – first episode (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Fancy Free! – (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Easter Parade – Feature
  • Horses in History – feature
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)

This is Jinty’s Easter issue for 1981. Tansy and Gaye both have stories where they enter Easter parades. And Jinty has a feature on how to make things for Easter.

The letter column prints one letter that yields interesting information on Pam’s Poll. The reader and her sister want Jinty to reprint “Stefa’s Heart of Stone”. The editor replied that Stefa was one of their most popular stories and in Pam’s Poll lots of readers voted for it to be repeated. Yet the editor still asks if other readers would like to see it reprinted and please write in if they do. Now why does the editor need to ask this? Surely there has been demand enough already.

In this issue is the first episode of the serial that was Jinty’s jewel in the crown for 1981: “Worlds Apart”. Greed, sports mania, vanity, delinquency, intellectualism and fearfulness are exemplified in six girls who get knocked out by gas from a tanker that crashes into their school. When they wake up they are in hospital, but there is something odd about it – everyone in sight is grotesquely fat, and by their standards the girls are emaciated. The hospital treatment they are about to get is designed to forcibly turn them into fatties!

This week’s text story is a bit improbable. Violet is a dreadful singer (but tell her that!). When she starts singing in the street, people give old stuff just to get rid of her. It’s put to good use for a jumble sale – but come on, would people really give old stuff to get rid of horrible singing? Throw it, yes – but give it?

Pam reveals her two big dislikes about Pond Hill: school sago pud and Jill Cook. Now she dislikes Jill more than ever as Jill has become a bad influence for her boyfriend Goofy Boyle.

In “Fancy Free!”, Fancy’s in a huff when Ben tries to press his own rules on her. It culminates in a row at home, where Mum says she had the same trouble with Fancy’s mysteriously absent father.

Angela’s Angels are having a hard time learning the ins and outs of nursing. And Sister Angela looks a nervous wreck herself after a day of instructing them. Student Nurse Helen is put on night duty – but falls asleep on the job and now she’s in trouble!

This week’s Gypsy Rose story is another recycled Strange Story. Stacy Fletcher’s hobby in making jewellery leads to a strange time travel story where she drops a piece of jewellery in the past after unwittingly foiling a crime. This gives rise to a legend that a ghost left it.

In “Diving Belle” Betty’s coming up with all sorts of inventive ways to get Belle diving again. This week it it’s breaking into school to use the pool. When the caretaker finds them, it’s an improvised diving board on the cliffs. And Betty says time is pressing as there is only a day or two left. Day or two left before what?

 

Jinty and Penny 30 May 1981

jinty-cover-30-may-1981

  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Diving Belle (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • She Who Laughs Last – text story (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • The Unlucky Rabbit’s Foot – Gypsy Rose story (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Jinty Fights Junk! (readers’ submissions for anti-litter posters)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Fancy Free! – last episode (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Worlds Apart (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)

Jinty’s feature this week is anti-litter posters submitted by readers. This was a suggestion from one reader and Jinty said they would print the best one. However, they had trouble deciding which was the best one, so they printed several winners.

The text story this week is about a quest to get a pop star’s autograph, but the protective barriers are proving a bit unsurmountable. One fan finds a way around it – the pop star’s younger brother.

Pam of Pond Hill and her friends have been suspended for vandalism that the horrible Jill Cook is responsible for. Jill won’t own up, so Mrs Dankins is the only one who can clear them – but she hasn’t got the guts and wants to forget the whole thing. How selfish can you get?

Diving Belle is on her penultimate episode. She and Betty are running the gauntlet with the police to get to the place where she must do the all-important dive Betty foretold – which turns out to be the abandoned oil rig where Belle’s father was lost! Good grief, Belle has to dive from the height of an oil rig? It sounds like suicide!

Fancy Free concludes this week. It’s a very emotional ending, when Ben, the only one who ever cared for Fancy, dies in her arms. The difficult Fancy will definitely emerge more sober after this.

In “Worlds Apart” there are some amusing moments with politics in the sports world. The girls learn that in the sports world, wars are played as sports events. Hitler fought World War II as the coach for the German footy team (below). And Margaret Thatcher addresses the nation while wearing a tracksuit and working out on gym equipment. Thatcher informs the nation that the Soviet Union has declared war on Britain, which will be played as a swimming match. Ann is thrilled because she will be in the team – but the girls are horrified as the losing war teams are executed.

Worlds Apart Fave panel 1
“Worlds Apart”: How Hitler fought WW2 in Ann’s dream world of sport.

This week’s Gypsy Rose story is another recycled Strange Story. The people on Squire Robson’s estate are horrified when he marries the unpleasant Carrie Piggott. It’s as if she has him under a spell. In view of the strange things that start happening on the estate that seem to be connected with a strange hare, it could well be the case…

Sir Roger’s armour gets magnetised after a contretemps with a magnetic crane and he becomes ‘attractive’ in a way he doesn’t want. From Sir Roger’s point of view the cure is just as bad: he has to take a bath to de-magnetise his armour, which makes it – horror of horrors – clean!

Tansy’s trying to help old folks with redecorating this week, but things don’t work out as she expected. Worse, Dad now lumbers her with redecorating her room because he thinks she can do it herself!

In Angela’s Angels, Sharon is facing disciplinary action because she got caught up in an emergency while she was wearing a swimsuit. And Lesley finds it awkward to help one patient because he is the governor of the prison and her own father.

Jinty and Penny 18 April 1981

Cover 14 April 1981

Stories in this issue:
(Cover artist: Mario Capaldi)

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Diving Belle (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Best Foot Forward – text story (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Whispers In The Wind: Gypsy Rose story (artist Antonio Borrell)
  • Just The Job: Television Make-up Artists (feature)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • What Do You Make of It? (personality quiz)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (Ken Houghton)
  • Fancy Free (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)

This week’s issue has a free gift: two packets of ‘Sarah Kay’ stickers. It means that my copy of Jinty & Penny has a fairly big tear in the front cover where it was attached, but luckily the scan doesn’t show it all that badly.

Pam is upset: her friend Steve has been working together with her to make a magazine by and for their year at school, but it has been vandalised by mysterious person or persons unknown. Pam is worried that it might have been Goofy: it turns out not to have been, but her nemesis Jill Cook has been spreading rumours and Goof is in turn upset with Pam.

Belle McBane is “Diving Belle” – a story that to me feels a little old-fashioned and shoehorned in. Belle is being instructed in diving by a mysterious gypsy woman, who urges her not to lose time in getting better and better at diving. But why?

Text story “Best Foot Forward” is an ‘ugly duckling’ type ballet story – the main character has a jealous rival who tries to nobble her so that she has no chance of success in the audition for a dance school. Of course, talent wins out in the end.

“Whispers in the Wind” is a Gypsy Rose story that looks to have been reprinted from an earlier title – I don’t know the artist. Wendy Price stays in a haunted hotel room and helps to clear the reputation of a ghostly maid, who has proved that she is not a thief after all.

The feature on make-up artists is quite interesting and informative – it is part of a series on jobs that readers might be interested in doing when they are grown-up.

Personality quizzes were a staple of my childhood and early secondary school. This one has the quite nice twist that as you answer questions about what you would do in certain circumstances, you fill in a section of the picture with the specified colour. If you answer more pink answers then you will end up with a flower coloured in, or similarly a brown wren or a blue fish.

“Fancy Free!” is a Philip Townsend strip, about a troubled and angry girl who has few friends apart from wild birds, and a fellow bird enthusiast.

The last few pages include a reprint of an early episode of “Angela’s Angels“, one of the stories published seven years previously in the first issues of Jinty when it was a new title. With a reprinted serial, a reprinted Gypsy Rose story, a two-page letters section, and a text story this issue of Jinty feels to me slightly thin – perhaps a sign of the approaching merger with Tammy in November of the same year. There are only 20 pages of comics included, though to be fair the features are pretty good and the text story is quite readable.

Story theme: Redemption narratives

I recently wrote summary posts about two stories that I called ‘redemption narratives’: “The Girl Who Never Was” and “She Shall Have Music“. That’s a kind of story theme that we can all recognize as being fairly common in girls comics generally: in Jinty there are a number of other examples.  But how does this sort of story work?

Take those two stories as an initial guide: the protagonist is a difficult or disagreeable, probably dislikeable, girl who has some personal failing or issue that drives the story. It’s because of that failing that the story progresses; it may not have been due to something that was her fault that the story started off in the first place, but it is because of her moral or social problem that it continues and develops the way it does. Tina Williams lands in the alternate universe where magic works because of her conceited and annoying ways; Lisa Carstairs’s father doesn’t lose his money because of her, but if she wasn’t so obsessed with continuing her piano playing exactly as before, then she wouldn’t find herself in the same difficulties. It’s not just what happens to the protagonist (or how she is challenged in the story) but how she reacts to it. She has to be ‘the architect of her own misfortunes’, as Mistyfan puts it in her post about another redemption story, “Black Sheep of the Bartons“.

Does the story have to feature some sort of disagreeableness, some sort of outright nastiness or callousness on the part of the protagonist? No: I’d say that you could certainly include ‘guilt’ stories such as “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” and “I’ll Make Up For Mary”. The protagonist here  suffers huge pangs of guilt and despair because of the loss of a loved one – a best friend or a sister in the case of these two stories, but in other cases it can be a parent – a very natural feeling, but the failing here is that she lets those emotions overwhelm her and distort her common sense. The guilty feelings of the protagonist drive the story forward, but this guilt is portrayed throughout as excessive, as an indulgence that the main character should resist. It’s the lengths that their grief drives them to that causes their difficulties in their separate stories.

Also, it’s not just about having an objectionable main character who is nicer by the end of the story. “Curtain of Silence” and “Land of No Tears” are not what I would call redemption narratives, despite having protagonists who start off pretty disagreeable and end up much improved. (Likewise “Battle of the Wills” is not, nor I think “Pandora’s Box”, but sports story “Black Sheep of the Bartons” is one I would class as such: Bev Barton isn’t horrible so much as thoughtless and reckless, but her carelessness nearly brings tragedy to her family.) Why don’t “Curtain of Silence” and “Land of No Tears” count? Because when the girl main characters are swept into their initial circumstances – enslaved by a dictatorial coach, forced into third-class citizenship in a future world – their thoughts are not primarily about how they can continue to maintain their status quo ante but about how they can defeat their antagonist. Yvonne and Cassy aren’t just trying to get back to where they were at the beginning: their story is about a positive rebellion, not a futile rejection of the truth that the outside world is telling them. They end up much nicer than they started out being, but that’s not the whole reason for having the story in the first place – it’s because they have faced extraordinary circumstances which would change anyone by making them realise that some things are bigger than individual concerns.

Does the character who ends up being redeemed have to be the protagonist, or could they be the antagonist or villain? Overall I would say it has to be the protagonist, as the main character that you are supposed to sympathise with and want things to turn out well for, but maybe one counter-example is “Wanda Whiter Than White“. Wanda is not the main character of the story and she makes Susie Foster’s life a misery with her sanctimonious ways. At the end, it is revealed, as Mistyfan explains in her story post, that ‘Wanda’s own past is not as white as she would have us believe. In fact, she is on probation after being caught stealing.’ Rather than this reveal being painted as purely a victory for the main character, it ends up with Wanda being ‘truly redeemed when she tells a white lie to help Susie in return for Susie saving her life’. The reader wasn’t rooting for Wanda’s redemption all along, but it is a satisfying ending nevertheless.

What choices could the writer make that would move the story out of the category of being a redemption narrative? Let’s take Lisa Carstairs’ story as an example. As with the OuBaPo exercises, thinking about how a story could work differently will give us a view on how the stories actually do work.

  • Imagine Lisa’s parents still losing everything at the beginning of the story, and Lisa still losing her piano. The story could then have taken a different turn: rather than being about Lisa’s misguided piano obsession and selfishness, it could have been another kind of story entirely, for instance a mystery story where Lisa finds out that her father’s business partner was a crook who needs to be brought to justice. Perhaps Lisa’s piano playing could help her to find the clues she needs, and her obsession with it could be turned to a good cause in that way, so that she needs no redemption.
  • Or let’s say the story stays as being about Lisa’s obsession with playing piano but it’s portrayed as something not to be frowned on, rather as something acceptable or allowable. How would a story work where she can continue to be focused on playing piano to the exclusion of everything else, including her family? Perhaps her family would have to be a nasty, uncaring one, to make her disinterest acceptable.
  • Or perhaps the story could proceed more or less as it does, but with an unhappy ending where Lisa gets her comeuppance. This would make her into a more of an anti-heroine than normal but would not be unheard of.

Here are the examples I would identify as fitting most neatly into the category of ‘redemption narrative’ (core examples) and as being closely related to this category without necessarily definitely being classed as such (edge cases).

Core examples

  • “Dance Into Darkness” – Della just wants to live her life down at the disco with no regard for other people, but when her wish is granted she eventually discovers there is indeed more to life than her own self-interest.
  • There are a number of stories that are driven by a bereavement: the main character makes poor decisions as a result of her strong emotions of grief and anger because she is afraid of being hurt again. “The Ghost Dancer” is one of these, as is “Nothing to Sing About”, but of course “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” and “I’ll Make Up For Mary” are the strongest examples.
  • “The Girl Who Never Was” – discussed above
  • “She Shall Have Music” – discussed above
  • I said above that I thought that it needs to be the protagonist who is redeemed, not one of the other characters. In “Go On, Hate Me!” the antagonist is driven by grief into bullying the protagonist but in the end all is cleared and the antagonist is redeemed, so I would be tempted to class this alongside “Wanda Whiter Than White” as a clear example of this kind.
  • Jackie’s Two Lives” is more about the perils of wish-fulfilment, but Jackie’s snobbishness and the fact she is ashamed of her own family is definitely a character flaw that drives the story and she is cured of it at the end.
  • “Left-Out Linda” develops the redemption pretty well by recognizing that you can’t usually turn around your life by yourself: you have to have some help.
  • “Paula’s Puppets”: Paula has to learn to forgive her enemies rather than attacking them via the magical help she has been given.
  • “Tearaway Trisha”: Trisha’s recklessness has caused a serious accident; she tries to make amends but has to change her own character in order to do so.
  • “Valley of Shining Mist” has a clearly didactic message about the improving aspect of high culture: by playing the violin, Debbie will transcend the impact of her abusive family, who are low-class in their lack of culture and their morality.
  • In “Who’s That In My Mirror?” the protagonist’s selfish nature is made very literally visible and becomes more and more so until finally she is driven to renouncing it.
  • Worlds Apart” is the ultimate morality tale – one by one, six girls are shown the worst outcomes possible for each of their specific character flaws, and they have a chance to repent. The psychological development is minimal but the impact of the story was very dramatic.

Edge cases

  • “Fancy Free “- I know the main character is so independent that this may well be characterised as a fault, but I don’t really quite remember enough about the story to say whether it is the main thing that drives the whole plot.
  • The Four Footed Friends” – arguably another case where someone other than the protagonist ends up being redeemed, though it all feels a little sudden. “Hettie High-and-Mighty” likewise features a fairly sudden change of heart on the part of an antagonist who has mostly been about making  the protagonist’s life a misery until that point. I don’t think “The Kat And Mouse Game” quite counts, either: Kat may perhaps have realised the error of her ways at the end of the story, but will her change of heart actually stick?
  • I haven’t really made my mind up about “Gwen’s Stolen Glory” – it feels like it is mostly a story about deception, though clearly once Gwen owns up to the big lie this is a kind of redemption of her former deception.
  • In “Kerry In The Clouds”, Kerry is a day-dreamer imposed upon by a woman motivated by her own unfriendly concerns. Kerry’s day-dreaming nature is cured by the end of the story, but I don’t feel the main driver of the narrative was to improve her character.
  • The main character in “Mark of the Witch!” is hot-tempered and angry at all around her, and she comes to seek a more peaceful set of emotions by the end of the story. However, so much of her story is about the persecution and abuse that her neighbours visit on her that I don’t see her story being primarily about her renouncing her hot-headed ways.
  • I’m not sure about “Pandora’s Box” and whether it counts or not. Pandora’s witchy aunt does chide her at the beginning about being too cock-sure about her talents and says that she will need to use magic sooner or later, and this is all true: but I’m not sure what sort of morality story that adds up to – not a conventional one at any rate! The main nod in this story to more conventional morality is the fact that Pandora goes from disinterest in the pet she is stuck with (her black cat familiar, Scruffy) to loving him dearly and giving up her heart’s desire in order to save his life.

One last question struck me when thinking about this. What sort of things might the protagonist have done that means she needs to go through this process of redemption in the first place? Clearly it must be something negative: the story has a moral imperative of some sort, warning readers against some kinds of behaviour. But at the same time, some things would be beyond the pale of course, and would mean that any character doing that would be irredeemable. (There might therefore be some useful comparisons made with story villains: what does their villainy consist of?) If a character killed or seriously hurt someone on purpose then that would be beyond the pale: there are a number of villains who have gone this far, sometimes with a laugh on their cruel lips, but it would be hard to imagine that a girl protagonist could do this and still recover the moral high ground at the end of the story.

In the stories above it looks like the sort of wrong-doing that needs castigating but is still redeemable is often about emotional warmth and consideration for others – it’s not about ambition (by itself) or cleverness (by itself) for instance. An arrogant protagonist can still be the heroine, but if she is cold, selfish, or inconsiderate then that’s a good signal that this is a character marked down for improvement – by whatever means necessary. Preferably it will be a Shakespearean denouement, whereby her own moral failing brings about such a huge disaster that she has no option but to change her ways! And being too afraid to risk emotional commitment comes in for a bit of a kicking too, via the guilt / grief stories. The obvious next question: is this moral imperative specific to British girls comics? Do UK boys comics have redemption narratives too? Or those in other countries? My pal Lee Brimmicombe-Wood reckons that Japan’s flourishing manga industry has many stories about mavericks who insist on going their own ways – but in that industry’s story constraints, the mavericks are always right and never forced to realise that actually, there was a reason why everyone was telling them they were going about things the wrong way…

Phil Townsend

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

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

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

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

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

List of stories attributable to Phil Townsend:

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