Published: Tammy 13 August 1983 to 7 January 1984 (no episodes 12 November to 17 December 1983)
Artist: Santiago Hernandez
Writer: Alison Christie
Translations/reprints: none known
It is the Christmas season. This story from Tammy has been chosen to honour the Christmas theme because its last three episodes were especially themed to tie in with Tammy’s (last, as it turned out) Christmas and New Year issues. Accordingly, the story was put on hiatus to return at Christmas.
As discussed below, this story is also related to Jinty history.
Everywhere Gran Wheeler goes, so does her beloved pram Rosie (from the roses painted on her sides). Rosie is a tough old boneshaker with a voluminous capacity, both of which have enabled her to work tirelessly at helping people in an assortment of ways as well as being perambulator to a few generations of Wheelers. Gran takes great pride at Rosie being such a toughie and made to last, and not at all like the flimsy contraptions that pass off as modern prams. Gran and Rosie have even won a community award for the work they have done in helping people.
On her deathbed, Gran has her granddaughter Pauline promise to find someone with “room for Rosie” and not let her end up on the scrap heap. Pauline, who cares as much about Rosie as Gran does, earnestly promises to do so.
But there is one big problem. The Wheeler house is too small for Rosie and she is taking up all the space in the hallway. This is a real nuisance for the rest of the family. They are always falling over Rosie (hitting shins, ruining pantyhose etc). They are putting up with it because Pauline was so insistent; she carted Rosie home in pouring rain to the house after they left her outside gran’s house for the dustmen. But there are limits to their patience. If that patience runs out, it’s the scrap yard for Rosie. And because of lack of space in the Wheeler house, there can be no future generations of Wheelers being taken for walks in Rosie. Rosie has to pass out of the family with this generation. So the quest to find someone with room for Rosie is pressing as she is on borrowed time in the Wheeler household.
Now, you’d think Pauline would put advertise for a home for Rosie in the paper, put Rosie in a garage sale, or sell her to a second hand shop or something. But this being a girls’ serial that has to be spun out, Pauline never does any of those things. Instead, it’s a story of the week format where each week Rosie continues to be put to 101 uses as a tireless workhorse with heaps of space and helping people in an assortment of ways. By turns we see Rosie being used as the Princess’ cot in the school Sleeping Beauty panto, being taken on the run by a girl who can’t stand her parents arguing anymore, and catching loot that a crook throws from a window. As shown above, she is even Santa’s helper at one point. Santa with a pram sure makes a change from his sleigh, doesn’t it? Rosie is accumulating quite a fan club out of the people she helps.
However, not everyone appreciates how useful or durable Rosie is. In several episodes Rosie draws a lot a teasing and snide remarks as to what a piece of scrap she is and is fit for the junk heap. In one episode Rosie is pitted against modern prams in a pram race where Pauline is dressed as a baby. The boy pushing her has been deploring Rosie as he thinks she’s just a piece of scrap that wouldn’t last five minutes in the race. But Rosie is soon proving what stern stuff she is made of compared to modern prams, which are soon dropping out like flies. They win hands down thanks to Rosie and Pauline’s partner is taking back what he said about her.
Pauline hopes to find a home for her out of all the people Rosie helps, but they can’t or won’t for some reason or other. Or sometimes fate intervenes to block Rosie from a new home.
When Christmas approaches, finding a home for Rosie becomes even more pressing because Dad says they’re giving Pauline’s brother Ben a bike for Christmas, and the only place to keep it is the hallway. But there is no room for both the bike and a pram the size of Rosie in that hallway. She really has to go now, even if it is to the scrapyard.
Come New Year’s Day, there is still no new home for Rosie. Happy New Year indeed for Pauline; she’s so upset that she’s failed Gran and can’t bear the thought of Rosie at the scrapyard. And that’s where Rosie will go after the family’s trip to the funfair. But it’s no fun at all at the fair for Pauline, of course.
Then Pauline realises that the fair could have room for Rosie – on their carousel. The fairground people are only too happy to take Rosie on board for it and say she will be extremely popular. Sure enough, there is a queue lining up for a ride in Rosie the moment she is put into place on the carousel. So it’s a Happy New Year’s Day after all for Pauline and Rosie.
This is not the first time Alison Christie wrote a heartwarming story about a pram that’s a tough old boneshaker and can be put to 101 uses. There was a predecessor, Old Peg, which appeared in Christie’s 1976 Jinty story, “For Peter’s Sake!” We strongly suspect Rosie and Old Peg were inspired by a real pram somewhere in Christie’s childhood.
As with Rosie, Old Peg is a real workhorse and famous in the locality for community work. Both prams are owned by grandmothers. They bequeath them to their granddaughters upon their deathbeds and charge them with a special mission for it. In Pauline’s case it is find a home for the pram. In the Jinty story it is take the pram to a sick baby brother, Peter, who needs it for his recovery. Towards the end it looks as if the granddaughters have failed in those missions despite all their efforts, and they are heartbroken. But an unexpected turn of events at the last minute changes everything and ensures a happy ending.
Old Peg differs from Rosie in that people believe her to have supernatural powers. Any sick baby that is rocked in her will be cured. Rosie has no claim to have any supernatural powers, though at times she gives the impression she is alive somehow. Curiously, a lot of people call her a “magic pram” for no apparent reason. Maybe she does have a power somewhere after all?
Room for Rosie also follows a similar pattern to “The Button Box”, in using a “story of the week” format. As with the buttons in the box, this accumulates a great deal of stories behind Rosie. This is not surprising as Christie wrote both of them and both were running at the same time. But in the case of Rosie there is always that underlying urgency in finding a home for Rosie and disappointment in how each time a new lead fails to pan out. It’s not a mere “story of the week” as The Button Box is. The urgency is carried right even through Pauline’s Christmas for a luck last-minute turnaround to keep up the suspense and drama right up to the last page of the final episode.
The grammar in Cato’s famous tagline, Carthago delenda est [Carthage must be destroyed] was the inspiration for this one.
Pascendum appetitum aeternum (Feeding the eternal appetite i.e. Food for Fagin)
Straight off I decided not to use the name of the dog in the title, and I never could stand those Oliver Twist references in the story anyway (would a mum seriously name her daughter Olivia Twist?). Instead, I worked on a title that commented on the increasingly difficult task of trying to keep up with that mountainous appetite of Fagin’s on the family’s limited income.
I decided against a title that used “Martine”. Instead, I went for translating the name of the play in the story “The Demon Within”, as its title summed up what was going on.
Neglecti et superbi sumus (We are Neglected but Proud i.e. A Boy Like Bobby)
Two boys who were neglected and living in a squalid flat. But they still had their pride, which made it difficult for our heroine to reach out to them. So this was the basis for the Latin translation. Originally I thought of “Two neglected boys”, but that did not sound very interesting. I decided that a title that reflected their pride showing through their neglect made it more interesting. The endings of the adjectives also gave it alliteration.
One of the artists mentioned in the recent talk about girls comics was Ana Rodriguez. David Roach has a set of portfolio samples used to showcase her drawing abilities (see below) which credits her as such. Initially I had little luck in finding any internet trace of her but eventually I found an entry for her on Spain’s comic artist database, Tebeosfera, as Anita Rodriguez Ruiz . This also links to an entry on Lambiek’s Comiclopedia.
(The latter list is taken from Catawiki, with many thanks to that site.)
She also drew a large number of stories in DC Thomson titles such as Debbie, Judy, Tracy. See the Girls Comics of Yesterday site for posts tagged with her name.
Her particular focus is clearly on girls comics, though there is little solid information on the Tebeosfera and Comiclopedia sites about other work done by her. Here are some pages from “Blind Ballerina”, where Ana Rodriguez’s showcasing of the girl protagonist’s faces is very evident.
Save Old Smokey! (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
Covers from this period seemed to be very fond of showing off the athletic prowess of “Miss No-Name”. This one demonstrates how hurdling enables Lori to make a fast getaway. But she still can’t get away from those nasty Crabbes. She thinks she has found a safe haven but bumps into them again – hence the fast getaway on the cover.
Ironically, hurdling enables Katie the Jinx to make a fast getaway too in this issue – from an angry Mum – after she was daydreaming too much and flooded the kitchen. She had been daydreaming on how she would have fared in previous times. She decides she would have been just the same – except that she wouldn’t be able to get away so quickly in the clothes of the period and is thankful for modern skirt lengths.
The days of Penny Crayon and Do-It-Yourself Dot seem to be over. We are now in the era of Alley Cat.
“For Peter’s Sake” is fully established in this episode. Gran has died, leaving Corrie with a note to push Old Peg to Peter in the full confidence that the pram will cure her sick brother. But Corrie has to push Old Peg all the way from Scotland to London, so we’re in for a lengthy story full of adventures.
And the same still goes for “Fran of the Floods”. Fran and her friend Jill have now fallen foul of a cult movement that whips them into ploughing fields in the never-ending rain. They don’t see any way to escape, but we know they will.
Meanwhile, Miss Wortley has put the best tracker in the district on the trail of Betsy and Mary. But the tracker does not like the cruel Miss Wortley either and ends up helping the girls to fake their deaths and taking the heat off. But it looks like there is another cruel woman coming along to ill-treat Betsy and Mary….
Save Old Smokey is now on its penultimate episode. Gresby looked set to win, but now an emergency has forced him to seek the help of the very people he was trying to destroy!
Friends of the Forest ends with Maya revealed to be the offspring of an elopement in Colonel Weatherby’s family due to his snobbishness. He is now remorseful and this becomes instrumental in giving Sally and Maya the happy ending. Next week is “Then There were 3…”. This story is drawn by Phil Townsend, who is also drawing “Save Old Smokey”, so it’s going to be another overlap of artwork next issue.
Stacey thinks she has got everything sewn up with her hypnotic powers over Tania, including planting suggestions to cut her off from avenues of help. But the blurb for next week tells us that Stacey has overlooked something. Unfortunately, it does not sound like it is going to provide the rescue.
Ma Siddons has been commissioned to improve the IQ of a dimwitted bulldog. Dora Dogsbody is of course lumbered with the hard draft. There is an unexpected twist at the end that saves the day. We can’t help wondering if it was fixed as it is a bit hard to swallow. But it does put Ma Siddons well and truly in her place – until the next issue anyway.
Following up on the previous post on European Translations, Sleuth from Catawiki has kindly sent me a list she has prepared of Jinty stories which were translated into Dutch. (See also some comments from her in that post, about Dutch translations.) They were mostly published in the weekly comic Tina and/or in the reprint album format Tina Topstrip. The list below shows the original title, followed by the title in the Dutch translation, with a literal translation in [square brackets] where appropriate, and then the details of the publication that the translation appeared in. It is ordered by date of original publication.
Gwen’s Stolen Glory (1974): De droom van een ander [Someone else’s dream] (in: Tina Club 1975-2)
Curtain of Silence (1977): Achter het stille gordijn [Behind the Silent Curtain] (in: Tina 1978/79, Tina Topstrip 52, 1983)
Fran’ll Fix it! (1977; 1978-79): short story 3/4; Annabel versiert ‘t wel [Annabel will fix it]; episodes in Tina from 1983 till 1994; there were also “Dutch” episodes written by Bas van der Horst and drawn by Comos, and there is an episode in 1994 written by Ian Mennell and drawn by Comos.
The Ghost Dancer (1981): Dansen in het maanlicht [Dancing in the Moonlight] (in: Tina 1983)
Holiday Hideaway (1981): Wie niet weg is, is gezien [If you’re not gone, you’re seen – a sentence children use in hide-and-seek] (in: Tina 1982)
Freda’s Fortune (1981): Could be: Fortuin voor Floortje [A Fortune for Florrie] (in: Groot Tina Herfstboek 1983-3)
Airgirl Emma’s Adventure (reprint from June 1969, in Jinty Holiday Special 1975): Short story 16; Emma zoekt het hogerop [Emma takes it higher up] (in: Tina 1970)
Various of the stories translated in Tina were also reprinted in the Indonesian title Nina (of course Indonesia is a former Dutch colony, making for a clear link). These will be listed on a new reference page for Translations into Indonesian.
This long list enables us to see how very popular some creators were – for instance, a large number of Jim Baikie and Phil Gascoine stories are included (though not all, by any means). Of course, these were also the most prolific of Jinty artists too.
Many stories were translated very shortly after initial publication, and then reprinted in album form some time later. There was also a ‘second round’ of translation work done after Jinty ceased publication, to go back and pick some of the earlier stories that had not been selected earlier. This was the case with “Always Together” and “The Kat and Mouse Game”, for instance.
Many but by no means all of the story titles were translated fairly literally or exactly, though the main character’s name was almost invariably exchanged for another one. Some titles ended up particularly poetical or neat in translation: “A Spell of Trouble” and “Holiday Hideaway” perhaps benefit most from their translated titles. Of course, there are also some losers: I think “The Human Zoo” and “The Girl Who Never Was” ended up with less resonant titles through the process.
A wide range of stories were translated: spooky stories, humour stories, science fiction, adventure, sports stories. There are some omissions that I’m surprised by, though of course the editors had to pick and choose from so much that was available. “Fran of the Floods” was probably too long (see Marc’s comment about the length of stories selected for translation). No Gypsy Rose stories were selected – maybe they didn’t want a storyteller, ‘grab-bag’ approach? I am however quite surprised at the omission of the excellent “Children of Edenford” (1979). Could it have been too subversive a story, with its underlying theme of adults undermining their position of trust by hypnotizing children in order to control their moral development? The similarly-themed “Prisoner of the Bell” was also not translated. Of course this is rather a guess! At the end of the day I’m sure there were just more stories to choose from than there were spaces for publication.
For reference, I also include a complete list of stories published in the album format Tina Topstrip (71 albums in total). This gives us a view of how many of the reprinted stories deemed worthy of collection came from which original title. Note that some of the stories in this album format were themselves originally written in Dutch as they are credited to a Dutch writer. (NB I will add this to the new page created for Translations into Dutch)
Becky Never Saw The Ball
Twinkle, Twinkle, Daisy Star
Het geheim van oom Robert (original story in Dutch)
Kimmy op de modetoer (original title unknown)
Marcella het circuskind (original title unknown)
Moses and Me
Peggy en Jeroen (Patty’s World story)
Anja – Dorp in gevaar (original title unknown)
Het lied van de rivier (Patty and the Big Silver Bull Band story, original in Dutch)
Sonja en de mysterieuze zwemcoach (I suspect this is a translation as no writer is given)
De man in het koetshuis (original story in Dutch)
Linda’s verdriet (original title unknown, from Tammy)
Het circus komt (original story in Dutch)
Wild Horse Summer
Noortje (original story in Dutch)
Ruzie om Jeroen (Patty’s World story)
Het lied van de angst (Patty and the Big Silver Bull Band story, original in Dutch)
The cover brings us promise that snobby Shirl will earn our respect for the first time since her story started. Shirley shoves her shoeshine brush into the face of a snobby classmate for insulting Alice. Such an unladylike but ballsy move raises our hopes that snobby Shirl is becoming more human. But when we learn that Shirley still looks on Alice as a servant, our hopes are dashed. This is one girl who should have lived in Victorian times. It’s the final episode of “For Peter’s Sake!” Peg the pram does not seem to have fulfilled her promise to cure Peter although she has cured every other baby rocked in her. But there is a last minute surprise to ensure a happy ending. Another Alison Christie story, “Stefa’s Heart of Stone“, starts next week. Jinty must have liked to keep her writers as busy as her artists. Bridey finds a man with influence who believes her father is innocent. But fate, in the form of a mob and a gang of thieves, is soon to cut off that avenue of help. David, self appointed king (and loony) of Glasgow, is the latest problem in “Fran of the Floods”. He’s taken Fran and Jill prisoner. All the same, Fran finds herself liking him for some reason. Will this help to sort things out with him? In “Horse from the Sea”, Tracey gets injured when the staircase collapses. But she could have sworn it was sound earlier. And what about those shots somebody fired at her on the moor? Sue is causing more trouble for herself in “Sisters at War!”. And now it looks like she’s going to be blamed for something she hasn’t even done and get into trouble with the police on top of everything else. Mitzi is striking more difficulties in keeping her “Champion in Hiding” fed because of her horrible aunt. Could a paper round be the answer? Willa gets off her wheels to help a surgeon who needs a theatre nurse. Next week we will see if she does prove herself this way.
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.]
Gypsy Rose stories incl ‘The Eternal Flame’ (22 Oct 1977)
[No Medals for Marie]
Jinty & Lindy serial
“For Peter’s Sake!” (Girl pushing her Gran’s old pram from Scotland to England for her baby brother Peter)
Tammy & Jinty serial
“Lara the Loner” (girl who hated crowds)
“A Gran for the Gregorys”
“The Button Box” (series)
“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.
[It’s A Dog’s Life Tammy 1983 623 – 629]
[Room for Rosie Tammy 1983 646 – 667]
Tammy complete stories
Olwyn’s Elm A storyteller story, may have been published in another title?
Bethlehem’s Come to Us (Christmas 1983 issue)
Message of a Flower
[Dreams Can Wait]
Serials for other titles
“Second Fiddle to Sorcha” (musical story) published in one of the DCT titles [identified on the Comics UK Forum: “Second Fiddle To Sorcha} ran in Mandy 880 (26 November 1983) – 887 (14 January 1984)]
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?’
Willa on Wheels – first episode (artist Jim Baikie)
The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
For Peter’s Sake! (artist Ana Rodriguez)
Fran of the Floods (artist Phil Gascoine)
The Slave of Form 3B (artist Trini Tinturé)
Horse from the Sea – first episode (artist Rodrigo Comos)
Bridey Below the Breadline – first episode (artist Ken Houghton)
Then There were 3… (artist Phil Townsend)
Jinty’s centre page pull-out and competition push the stories off the cover with this issue – just as three new stories start. So we get blurbs telling us we have new stories instead of the usual panels or even titles on the cover that give us a taste to what they are going to be about.
The first new story is “Willa on Wheels”. Willa Keen lives up to her name because she is utterly determined to qualify as a nurse. But then an accident damages her spine and confines her to a wheelchair. She is still determined, but will it be enough for a comeback?
The second new story is “Horse from the Sea”. Tracey receives a summons from cousin Mrs Penrose-Harvey to Cornwall to be a companion for her invalid daughter. Desperate for work, Tracey accepts though the family have their doubts and suspicions. Suspicion grows even more when the Penrose-Harveys hear about Tracey’s encounter with the white horse along the way and seem oddly scared.
The third new story is “Bridey below the Breadline“. This is the second period story Ken Houghton drew for Jinty in 1976. He had just finished “House of the Past“, which dealt with the 1930s, and Bridey will be replaced with “Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud“, which is set in the Victorian era. But right now we have the Stuart period, where Bridey Brown and her father go on the run after being wrongly accused of starting the Great Fire of London.
In the regular stories, Old Peg comes to the rescue twofold in “For Peter’s Sake!” – saving another sick baby and Corrie’s feet, which have become blistered from worn-out boots. But can Old Peg save Corrie from interfering welfare busybodies, who begin to threaten trouble in the last panel? Fran of the Floods comes across a surprisingly self-sufficient community who are thriving against the floods. In “The Slave of Form 3B“, Tania is in deep trouble and disgrace in school and her parents are getting bad reports – all because of Stacey. And it gets worse when Tania is confronted by vicious dogs! In “Then There Were 3“, it is finally down to three – the last three girls on the barge who have not been scared off by all the creepy goings-on. But the blurb for next week gives us a hint that things are about to turn around.
Willa tries to help a fellow patient but, because she can’t walk properly, falls and knocks herself out. The patient could be severely affected by the delay caused by Willa not having just called for help while she could… I have sympathy with the exasperated hospital staff, but the fact they brutally say “you’re incapable of helping now” is rather too strong; it leads to Willa abandoning everything about her life as a nurse, including her old uniform which sinks symbolically into the mud.
This issue has a “Jinx From St Jonah’s” artist that I assume is Mike White; as it is certainly not Mario Capaldi; I am not very familiar with his work, so if someone else is able to confirm the artist I would be grateful. (Capaldi is at this time presumably busy drawing “Champion in Hiding”, that is advertised in this issue as starting in the following week.)
The episode of “The Slave of Form 3B” in this issue has Stacey finding Tania still hypnotised and out cold at the bottom of the wall that she was told to walk on top of – and of course Stacey’s only thought is to hide her so that she doesn’t get the blame! Talk about an anti-hero…
“Willa on Wheels” is one of those stories where everything is psychologically mis-handled (surprise). After having had the accident which put her in a wheelchair, Willa continues to think of herself as a nurse still, but the hospital is not set up to have a wheelchair bound nurse, let alone one who is supposed to be a patient rather than a staff member. The staff handle the mental transition that Willa needs to make in a very inept way, needless to say, and Willa herself is not being very sensible about it: risking some patients’ lives on the way.
I have not mentioned “Horse From The Sea” much in these issue posts, as it isn’t a story that I remembered very strongly from the time. It is a mystery story with the eponymous horse from the sea cast in the role of magical helper: in this issue we hear the tale of how it appears every time the heir of Penrose is in danger. The mystery is that the heir is, supposedly, someone other than the protagonist, and yet it is to the protagonist that the horse is appearing… The art, by Comos, is beautiful, but the story is only so-so, I feel.
This is the penultimate episode of “Then There were 3…“: the last two brave girls are captured by the criminals and are told all their plans – because it is not expected that they will be found again to tell the tale to the authorities!