Tag Archives: Fun Spot

June Book 1982

June annual 1982

Cover artist: Jim Baikie

  • Lucky’s Living Doll (artist John Richardson)
  • Return of the Silver Mare – Strange Story (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Fun Spot
  • Wot’s Wot?
  • Spitter the Career Cat – text story
  • Tuck into Tucktonia! – feature
  • Box Clever – feature
  • Wonders of Nature
  • Bessie Bunter
  • The Strangest Alliance – feature
  • Disco Dancer – Strange Story (artist Tony Coleman)
  • Join the Nit-Wits! Feature
  • Could You Be a Tough Goody? – quiz
  • Fun Spot
  • Getting to Know You – feature
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Dairy Delicious – feature
  • Pictures of Matchstick Men – Strange Story (artist Angeles Felices)
  • Weather: The Rhyme and the Reason – feature (artist Joe Collins)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • What Age Are You? – quiz
  • The Phobia – Strange Story (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Bessie’s Tuck Shop – feature
  • Going with the Wind – feature
  • The Spirit of the Mary Rose – Strange Story (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Half-Term in the Kitchen – text story
  • Lucky’s Living Doll – artist John Richardson
  • Fun Spot

In continuation with Comixminx’s entries on June, I now analyse the only June annual I still have, the one from 1982. This may have been the last June annual produced – I haven’t confirmed it.

The cover is a lively Christmas shopping scene from Jim Baikie and is more fluid and modern than the stiffer older style from June annuals of previous decades. But the annual has been reduced to 78 pages instead of the 126 that say, the Jinty annual of the same year has. This may be why it does not reprint any serial. Instead, we have Strange Stories (some of which I recognise from Tammy), reprints of Bessie Bunter and Lucky’s Living Doll, and two text stories. The two quizzes inside are strong. “Are You a Tough Goody?” tests to see if you have what it takes to be a Charlie’s Angel type or whether you should stay behind the desk like Bosley. “What Age Are You?” has nothing to do with how old you are – it tests to see whether you should have been born in ancient Rome, the Middle Ages or Victorian times.

June annual 1982 1

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Lucky’s Living Doll is the first thing we see when we open the annual. It is reprinted from the era when John Richardson had taken over from Robert MacGillivray, and there has been feeling among June collectors that this marked a decline in the Living Doll series. But the story is strong; Lucky and Tina encounter a clown who has fallen on hard times but still spends far more than he can afford to keep his daughter Stella in school. He even goes to lengths such as going without food and stealing money to pay for her schooling! And he just can’t tell her what is going on, even when he collapses. Lucky and Tina decide Stella must be told, and if he won’t, they will. But are they doing the right thing?

Lucky’s Living Doll is also the last thing we read in the annual. Alarm bells go off when Cousin Matilda tells the family she is going to send “an absolute pet of a boa” to them! Tina’s imagination goes overtime as she pictures herself being eaten by a boa.

June annual 1982 2June annual 1982 5

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The last June annuals also took to having one Strange Story in colour. In this case it is “The Phobia”. Other Strange Stories in the annual were in the old black-and-white. We get some good features, such as “Going with the Wind” (about windmills) and Bessie’s Tuck Shop, in which she provides recipes on how to make the Cliff House goodies in her tuck shop (though we have to wonder how they stayed around long enough to sell with Bessie in charge!). The presence of Poochy is a surprise; he did not appear in the regular strip.

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One text story “Spitter the Career Cat”, is an unusual and delightful one. It is a story about cats who go on the run, as told from one of the cats. But they don’t just run away – our narrator has his eye on getting into the high life and leading a life of luxury. It doesn’t quite go that way, of course. Eventually they settle on being travelling acting cats and take to theatre barges. “Half-Term in the Kitchen” leads to a half-term holiday leading to a battle with uncooperative wallpaper during redecorating and our heroine just about giving up before family cooperation turns things around.

It is not surprising that the June annuals had fallen into reprints by the 1980s, and they were reprints of shorter material because the reduced number of pages meant no room for reprinted serials. But the quality in this June annual is still good and I find it a delight to read.

June Book 1970

June Annual 1970 Cover

Cover by Phil Townsend

In this Annual:

  • Nella and Her Donkey (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • House of Phantoms (writer Jane Derwent, artist Carlos Freixas)
  • The Girl From Tibet (artist John Armstrong)
  • Who’ll Buy My Sweet Oranges? (poem)
  • Figure, Fashion and Facing Facts… (feature by Angela Barrie)
  • Nursing Is My Life (artist not identified)
  • Zoo Fun (photo feature)
  • Jeannie’s Unearthly Twin (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Long-Legged Peg (artist not identified)
  • Silverwing’s Jest (prose story)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Bessie’s Christmas Beano (recipes)
  • Cowboy Country (feature)
  • Bright and Beautiful (feature)
  • Debra’s Dolls (feature)
  • Enchanted Woodland (photo feature)
  • Guardians of the Temple: Strange Story (artist not identified)
  • Fun Spot (puzzles)
  • Sunshine Susie (artist not identified)
  • Oh, That Statue! – Surprise Corner (artist Colin Merritt)
  • Schoolgirl Models (prose story; writer Sheila Morton, artist not identified)
  • Kathy Must Stay! (artist not identified)
  • Cleo and the Cat (prose story; writer Denise Barry, artist Phil Townsend)
  • Things to Make and Do (crafts feature)
  • What A Laugh! (gag page)
  • Sam and Suki Save The Day (artist Robert MacGillivray)

I see that June called its Annual a ‘Book’ instead!

There is no dedicated internet source that I can find for discussion of June (though of course the Comics UK Forum covers this too); I hope everyone will forgive my inclusion of this ‘Book’ under the Jinty banner. June is not a girl’s paper that I know well, but I have been interested to read this annual in the light of now knowing that it is a direct precursor to Jinty: Mavis Miller was the editor of June & School Friend before being moved onto Jinty, seemingly as part of the general move of the time to pep up girls comics and make them sharper and less old-fashioned. (Around the time that Jinty was being prepared, June was merged with Tammy, which would be another reason to move the editor on.) We already know of some overlap in creators and themes between June and Jinty: “Nobody Knows My Name”, written by Alison Christie, was published in June under Mavis’s editorship. Looking at this Book, we can see even more overlap, and some interesting areas of difference too.

The annual starts off with a nice little animal story drawn by Trini: little Italian girl Nella is invited to be a bridesmaid at a posh society wedding; her pet donkey ends up saving the wedding presents from thieves. The art is beautiful, as always, and the story is sprightly and fun. It’s a story that would have fitted well into any Jinty annual, too.

The first text story, “House of Phantoms” has given me a bit of doubt: looking at the illustrations I am still not totally sure whether they are done by Comos or Freixas (who I hadn’t previously thought of as particularly hard to tell apart). The mouths are quite similar. On balance I am plumping for Freixas but am interested to hear other views! The story itself is exciting and dramatic (if very stereotyped in its portrayal of made-up South American countries) – not quite long enough, though, needing a few more twists and turns.

House of Phantoms

“The Girl from Tibet”, drawn by John Armstrong, is slicker than his later style. There is little dramatic tension though, because the title lead is clearly a bit of a supergirl who can do anything, so when she defeats the rather mimsy villain, it comes as not much of a surprise.

The Girl From Tibet

Here are some other pages from the Book:

Jeannie's Unearthly Twin

“Jeannie’s Unearthly Twin”, drawn (and signed) by Freixas, is very stylish; the story itself is a straightforward humorous ‘magical companion’ story à la “Vanessa From Venus”.

Oh that Statue!

“Oh, That Statue!” is ‘a gay story featuring the family at Surprise Corner’ – I understand  “Surprise Corner” to have been a regular in June. I can’t quite identify the artist, who does however look familiar – can anyone help? (I haven’t scanned a page of “Long-Legged Peg”, where again the artist looks familiar – I guess that again this might be a regular in the main comic and so might also be identifiable by others.)

Cleo and the Cat

The last text story, “Cleo and the Cat”, is rather fun – I was surprised too to see more than one named prose story writer (normally it seems as if the only named writer is Linda O’Byrne, who I have developed something of a soft spot for). This is illustrated by Phil Townsend – it’s not always all that easy to be sure who the illustrator is when it is finished quite differently from the pen-and-ink linework we are used to seeing in people’s comics, but the girl’s figure in the page shown above is unmistakeably Townsend. I have attributed this Book’s cover to Townsend too; that is harder to be sure about as I haven’t seen much painted full-colour artwork of his, but his faces are quite distinctive and I feel on reasonably good ground. (I’m always happy for further input though of course!)

Sam and Suki Save The Day

And finally, “Sam and Suki Save The Day” is by Robert MacGillivray, in a slightly less cartoony style than he used for “Desert Island Daisy” in Jinty some years later. He is an artist I am coming to appreciate more as I see a wider range of his styles.

So, what similarities and dissimilarities do I see in this June Book, compared to Jinty? Clearly there is an overlap between these final years of June and the first year of Jinty in terms of artists (MacGillivray, Townsend, Freixas). The Jinty Annuals ongoing also included a lot of material reprinted from June, often stories drawn by John Armstrong who also features in this Book; and writer Linda O’Byrne is clearly a carry-over from June too, though presumably writing new material for each Jinty Annual [edited to add – not sure why I said this last bit as Linda O’Byrne is not in either of my June Annuals!]. This gives the June book quite a similar feel superficially to the usual Jinty Annual. I think it’s also not too far-fetched to point to the logo for the two titles, which at least at this point in June’s evolution are quite similar, both featuring a golden-yellow colour and a slightly italic font.

I can see a few differences in approach, though. For one thing, June has a more old-fashioned feeling; the schoolgirls are uniformed, seemingly at fee-paying schools, denizens of that ‘school story’ world. Villains are self-interested not cruel, and lives are hardly ever at risk. One devotee of June on the Comics UK Forum would probably call this a nice change from the ‘depressing’ world of Tammy and early Jinty, so of course it all depends on your taste! (Having said this, of course June did include some stories of this ilk, as some were reprinted in later Jinty Annuals – “She Couldn’t Remember!” in the 1981 Annual being a particularly good example.)

For another, without doing a detailed comparison, it seems to me that this June Book is probably an item with rather higher production values than the typical Jinty Annual. The majority of the pages are printed in two or more colours, though the artwork itself is not always coloured (an extra step of work is required for this of course, as well as potentially more expensive printing). Comics pages such as “The Girl From Tibet” are produced in what looks like a line-and-wash technique, which again I think is likely to mean more expensive printing techniques for those pages. More of the writers are credited; this may or may not be associated with higher costs, but clearly they are ‘names’ that are worth printing, either because the agent for that writer has negotiated that, or because they are deemed sufficiently well-known to be worth it. And finally, nothing in this Book seems to be obviously reprinted from earlier publications; it has all been produced for an annual in this printing format, and looks like it is all original material. This is quite a big difference from the typical Jinty annual of latter times.