In this issue one of Jinty’s most enduring stories, “Guardian of White Horse Hill”, starts. Janey still gets nightmares of her parents’ death and clings to her teddy. This makes things difficult when she gets fostered out and she gets off to a bad start. Things look up when a beautiful white horse appears and Janey offers it an apple. Then it just seems to disappear…like a ghost. There’s not a trace of it or hoofmarks.
Alley Cat is pursuing apples too, from Spotty Muchloot’s orchard. Spotty goes to extreme measures to deal with Alley Cat – chop down the apple trees. Dad is very angry to find his entire orchard has been felled.
This week’s Gypsy Rose story is a weird one to make sense of, and the protagonist in the story is clearly having a hard time making sense of it too. She’s an air stewardess who has a vision of an Indian boy named Rajan walking right off the plane in mid-flight. Nobody has any record of Rajan even being on board, yet she has a carved elephant he gave her. She asks Gypsy Rose for help, and they find Rajan was in hospital at the time of the flight. But yes, that’s definitely the carved elephant he made in woodwork class. He was going to give it to her on the flight. He thought it got lost in the fire that put him in hospital, but there it is in her possession. Okay, you confused yet? Nobody but Gypsy Rose seems to understand it.
Destiny Brown has seventh sight, yet she never seems to foresee how to keep out of trouble. She has gone in search of her father, who has been accused of bank robbery. She camps out for the night at a funfair but gets caught. What are they going to do with her?
Sue’s got problems with seeing through a microscope and calls on Henrietta for help with a “see through” spell. Unfortunately the spell gets skewed because Henrietta wasn’t on the ball, with hilarious hijinks. Fortunately everything works out in the end for all those who got caught up in it.
Goose girl Glenda enters a wildlife poster competition, using her beloved goose as a model. Bird-hating Mum foils her again, but Glenda’s not wasting the poster – she’s using it to demonstrate against the local goose-hunting. However, she is not getting any support – except for the geese behind her.
In “Stage Fright!”, Linda finds out why someone is gunning for her – Lord Banbury is leaving his mansion to her on condition she win the acting trophy that has been in the Banbury family for three generations. Everything points to Lady Alice being her enemy – but is she? Then Linda gets locked in. Her enemy again?
“Fran’ll Fix It” fixes a burglar posing as a policeman. But she could do something to fix things up for the poor gardener – she keeps accidentally dropping plaster casts on his head.
In “Cursed to be a Coward!”, the crazed Madam Leo almost drowns Marnie and gets away with it because the police won’t listen to Marnie. Cousin Babs suggests confrontation time with Madam Leo, so she and Marnie go together. There’s a real face-off starting. How will it work out?
If you’ve read Mistyfan’s superb, thorough rundown of the cover styles that Jinty had over the years, you may remember this issue being noted as the last one which had a separate blue background behind the logo. (Following issues had the logo incorporated into the body of the cover design itself.) However, we had not yet posted about the issue itself, which I am remedying here.
Destiny Brown is trapped in a number of ways – having run away to find her father, her purse was stolen and she had to sleep rough. Not surprisingly she was quickly set up to be exploited by some rough types, especially once they realize they may have struck gold, if she really can predict the future with her second sight. Poor old Destiny – dragged away by these dodgy geezers, just as she has bumped into her father, who is likewise being dragged away by – who is *he* trapped by? It looks like the police, but is it really so? The art, by Rodrigo Comos, is clear and classy, if perhaps slightly old-fashioned looking for the time.
The letters page includes a list of the winners of a recent competition: the first ten correct entries won a KODAK Instamatic camera, while the 60 runners up won a giant full-colour poster of Starsky and Hutch. Looking at the names of the winners carefully, most of them are, unsurprisingly, traditional English, Irish, or Scottish girls names; but there are one or two less usual entrants hidden in the mix, indicating some small diversity of the readership. Pushpa Hallan is one of the ten winners of the main prize, and C. Thiyagalingam is one of the 60 winners of the runner-up prize. Perhaps even less expectedly, there is also one boy’s name included: Adrian King.
Orphan Janey is adapting to being fostered by the Carters – but when she sees a beautiful white horse, they think she is making up stories to impress them. What Janey doesn’t yet realize is that no-one else can see the horse apart from her – and nor will any photos of the horse show it, either! It’s all tied up with the local beauty spot, White Horse Hill, which is threatened by the destructive plans to build a motorway.
Brenda Noble is a bird-lover who is campaigning against the local sport of goose shooting in the village she lives in with her mother. Her mother hates birds as she blames them for her husband’s death – and soon she enacts her plans to take the two of them to Edinburgh away from the wee ‘backwater’ village.
“Stage Fright” is an odd mystery story: stylishly drawn by Phil Townsend, the protagonist Linda is being made by Lord Banbury to train as an actor in order to win an acting trophy that has been in his family for generations. But who is locking her into places, stealing her costume, and watching her from afar?
The Gypsy Rose story this week is drawn by Christine Ellingham, who until recently we were only able to list as the ‘unknown artist of Concrete Surfer’. What a pleasure to be able to correctly credit this lovely art! Delphine is a lively girl who works in a florist’s shop. She has an irrational fear of lilies, but the rich customer who falls for her wants a centrepiece of those same flowers, to be put together with her very own hands. Not only that – once he proposes to her, Delphine finds out that his mother’s name is Lily, and she is due to sleep in the lily room. All omens that tell her that soon she will meet the spirit of the lily – in death.
The evil fortune teller who is the villain of “Cursed To Be A Coward!” manages to get Marnie Miles thrown into a rickety old boat in the middle of a pond – luckily she gets fished out but the fortune teller’s determination to make sure that blue water will get her yet is pretty sinister.
The craft suggested for this week is to collect up ‘autumn treasures’ such as the heads of cow parsley, twigs with berries, or pretty leaves, and to make dried arrangements of them in vases, or pictures, or perhaps even jewellery of the tougher seedpods of ash keys or beech nut cases. The pictures accompanying the feature make it all look rather pretty, but I would assume that beech nut cases in particular would be rather scratchy to turn into jewellery!
Published: 19 April 1975 – 30 August 1975 (20 episodes)
Artist: Jim Baikie
Translations/reprints: None known
Twins Greg and Flo Carroll have looked after each other since their parents died (from Dad’s reckless driving). Trouble is, Flo acts like Greg’s mother when it comes to running his life. She keeps telling him to carry on with his plumbing course at the technical college, as it will guarantee a job for life. But Greg clearly does not like plumbing (just whose idea was it to pursue it in the first place?). His heart is in showbiz and he wants to pursue a career in pop music. Flo doesn’t approve of this because their late father’s showbiz career was a disaster and drove the family into debt. So before Mum died, she made Flo promise to see to it that Greg pursued a career that guaranteed more job security than showbiz.
Nonetheless, pop music is what Greg begins to pursue, and he is soon on the rise as a pop star. Flo still does not approve and this begins to drive a wedge between the twins. Flo does not like this change in their relationship either, as she and Greg have always been close; but as Greg’s career develops, he begins to drift apart from Flo. He also neglects his plumbing studies and eventually leaves the course. This horrifies Flo as she believes Greg is throwing away a steady job for the sake of an uncertain dream. Moreover, Greg’s manager Vince Telfer has a very sleazy look about him. Telfer encourages Greg to pursue his music career and he takes an active hand in widening the gulf between Flo and Greg.
Still, as far as Greg is concerned, his career is everything his father’s was not – success, fame, loads of money, and gifts he proceeds to shower Flo with. So why can’t Flo get past the tragedy of her father’s failed showbiz career? He is living proof that just because Dad’s career was a flop, it doesn’t mean his own will be. He (rightly) warns Flo that if she carries on being so difficult about his new career they will end up hating each other. However, Flo still thinks it is not the right path for Greg and also feels she failed Mum and the promise she made to her. So the gulf widens even more. And wider still when Flo cleans Greg’s guitar. She accidentally messes up the controls, which turns Greg’s performance into a disaster. When Greg finds out what happened, he thinks Flo did it on purpose because of her attitude, and walks out on her altogether. Telfer keeps feeding this false assumption of Greg’s for all it’s worth: “She’ll do anything to wreck your career, Greg – you know that!” And Greg won’t listen to Flo when she says it was unintentional.
Flo decides the only way to get anywhere near Greg is to disguise herself as one of the fans who keep mobbing him at every turn. She wins a prize draw to an evening with Greg. Telfer sees through Flo’s disguise and causes more trouble for her right in front of the press. Greg really is poisoned against Flo after this, which is all part of Telfer’s ploy to stop Flo getting Greg out of his clutches. Flo soon finds out why Telfer wants to turn Greg against her – Telfer has been fleecing Greg (yes, we thought he looked sleazy!). Telfer is now out to pocket 80% of Greg’s fee on his upcoming provincial tour. However, Flo can’t convince Greg of this and he goes off on his tour.
However, Flo follows him secretly. This means renting a shabby flat and taking a job as a waitress at the gig Greg is playing at. But Flo gets discovered, which causes intense embarrassment for Greg and turns the audience against him. Telfer, of course, takes advantage to widen the rift between the twins and says Flo did that on purpose too. Flo gets sacked and also hurt her wrist during the incident. The only one who notices her injury is Pip, Greg’s kind-hearted drummer. Pip takes Flo to hospital for treatment, and the doctor asks if Greg could perform a charity concert in the children’s ward.
Unfortunately Flo thinks the answer will be no because she is under the impression success is making Greg hard and selfish. A misunderstanding where she thinks Greg has turned down the doctor’s request cements that view. So she impersonates Greg to throw a concert for the kids. However, the press find her and take photos for “Big-Hearted Pop Star Entertains Sick Kids” story. Flo dreads Greg’s reaction when he reads the story, but it has surprising ramifications: a television producer was so impressed that he wants to do a television programme with Greg. Flo and Greg also clear up their misunderstanding, but disaster strikes when the TV producer sees the shabby digs Flo is renting and thinks Greg is to blame.
Now Greg has seen how Flo is living he puts her in more posh accommodation. He also spruces her up in luxury, saying that as a sister of a pop star she must have the look for it. But Flo soon finds the high life isn’t as fulfilling as it first seemed and wants to go back to being useful. Unfortunately this leads to a series of mishaps that widen the gulf between her and Greg again. First, Flo finds a sick maid and she offers to finish her duties for her. When Greg and the TV producer find Flo at it, it’s another embarrassment. And then there’s another embarrassment when Greg acts as judge at a fete but Flo gets horribly messed up from cleaning up a dog. When Greg and his high-rise friends come to Flo’s suite with caviar and champagne, he is really shown up when he finds Flo enjoying kippers and cocoa with Uncle Eddie and Aunt Mabel: “Why can’t you be a credit to me, instead of slumming with a couple of old deadbeats you picked up off the street?”
Uncle Eddie and Aunt Mabel agree with Flo that success is changing Greg for the worse. Then Flo finds Greg has left flowers on their parents’ graves and the twins start hugging each other. She wonders if she has judged him too harshly, but then thinks it was all a publicity stunt when the press photograph them (it was, but Telfer arranged it behind Greg’s back). After this, Flo heads back to their old home in London. She bumps into Greg again at one his open-air concerts and they proceed to make up. But Telfer does his best to come between them again – and so do mobs of fans. Flo is also feeling neglected because Greg’s getting too busy with his pop career to devote any time to her and the only place she can see him these days is on television.
Then Flo realises Telfer is driving Greg too hard and he’s beginning to fall ill from exhaustion. When she and Pip try to speak to Telfer, he sacks Pip and throws them both out. Undaunted, they smuggle Greg out in a drum and take him on holiday. While on holiday, Greg takes delight in throwing concerts for the villager. Flo has come to realise that Greg has show business in his blood.
But then Telfer comes along with a bombshell – Greg’s holiday has caused him to miss an opportunity for an American tour! Following this, Flo decides to just let Greg pursue his pop career and goes back to her old life. Six months pass without even seeing Greg, but painful reminders of him are everywhere. Greg sends Flo regular cheques, which she puts into the bank. While at the bank, Pip and a bunch of would-be pop musicians put on a performance. They hope the bank manager will back them for their road musical, which he does not.
Now it’s Flo’s birthday and she hopes Greg will make the effort to come and celebrate it. But all he does is send her flowers, as he can’t make the time to come. Then Flo finds out Greg is off on an American tour, so now he will be even more distanced from her. She is so upset she stumbles into the road and gets hit by a truck.
Flo’s condition is critical and she needs Greg urgently. Greg has a horrible sense of foreboding and feels he should check on Flo. However, Telfer does not want Greg to find out about Flo’s accident as he wants him on the plane for his American tour. Pip rushes to the airport to inform Greg, but Telfer locks him up. By the time Pip gets out, the plane is flying. In hospital, Flo senses Greg departing and her condition worsens.
Then the plane suddenly returns to the airport because of mechanical problems. This time Pip manages to tell Greg about Flo’s accident and how Telfer tried to stop him finding out. Greg goes to the hospital, and tells Telfer to shove it when he tries to get him back on the plane or lose the American contract. Greg’s arrival turns Flo around, and Greg says the shock has opened his eyes to what his true priorities in life are. So when Telfer arrives, Greg angrily breaks contract with him (which has Telfer pocket all of Greg’s money) and ends his pop career. Greg turns to a new line in showbiz – getting Pip’s show on the road. They have no money because of Telfer, but Flo can finance them with the money Greg sent her before. The show is a huge success and makes Flo and Greg joint stars.
This story starts with a premise that is so familiar in girls’ comics, except that it is turned on its head and given a whole new take. The protagonist is frustrated in pursuing her (or in this case his) choice of career by interfering relatives because they got burned by some family tragedy associated with it. The protagonist gets pushed down a career path of the relative’s choice, and the relative cannot accept that the protagonist does not want it and may not have the aptitude for it either. Examples in Jinty include “The Goose Girl”, where Glenda Noble’s mother keeps pushing her into fashion design instead of the ornithology where Glenda’s heart really lies.
But instead of a parent/guardian pushing a daughter in this way it’s a sister pushing her brother. It’s a bit unclear as to just how Greg came to study plumbing, for it does not look like he would choose it himself. It is a bit hard to believe that Flo would be able to press him into taking up plumbing, though she could have. The parents have been dead for several years, so there could not have been any pressure from them either. Perhaps Greg just took the course to please his sister. However it happened, Flo carries on Greg’s mother in the way she keeps pushing him to be a plumber because in her view it would guarantee a good, steady job while showbiz is too uncertain for that. She does not stop to think whether it is something Greg really wants or would be happy doing. One has to applaud Greg when he decides, in effect “screw you – I’m going to pursue a career in showbiz, whether you like it or not!” – and follows his heart into showbiz.
Flo’s bad reaction to this and difficulty in accepting it means she must take at least some of the blame for the widening rift with her brother. If she had been more respectful of her brother’s feelings it would have made things far easier for them both. Eventually Flo does come to accept that showbiz, however much trouble it caused for the family in the past, is in her brother’s blood. But she can’t accept this at first and is too badly prejudiced by the bad legacy of their father’s failed showbiz career to agree with Greg pursuing it. It is ironic that Flo ends up going full circle from disapproving of a showbiz career to sharing it with Greg at the end of the story.
Flo’s doubts about whether the pop career will bring Greg true happiness prove to be more prophetic than her disapproval about him pursuing showbiz. This is particular so considering the type of manager Greg has ended up with. Vince Telfer is a greedy, crooked and ruthless man who clearly took advantage of Greg’s greenness in signing him up. Greg can’t see that Telfer is just using him as a means to line his own pockets by hook or by crook and he does not care about his wellbeing one bit. Even when Telfer starts driving Greg so hard that he is on the brink of collapse, Greg does not wake up. It takes a horrible shock to make Greg see Telfer for what he is. Sadly, it looks like Telfer gets away with all that fleecing he did on Greg. He even pockets all of Greg’s money after he breaks contract. Clearly, Greg overlooked some fine print that shifty Telfer inserted about breach of contract.
Even without Telfer’s cheating, Greg’s pop career soon takes a course that proves Flo right – it is not bringing him happiness. As Greg’s pop career progresses the story shifts towards “the price of fame” premise where fame, success and fortune come at the cost of family and personal life. Flo feels increasingly isolated and distanced from the twin brother she was once so close to and feels neglected. Greg also discovers the pitfalls of being a pop star, such as becoming public property, being constantly hounded by fans, and having no time for family (or himself, probably). Eventually he decides a career that makes him turn his back on his family is the wrong one, but he takes a long time to realise it and it takes a shock to do the trick. Greg is too blinded by his success and the bad influence of his dodgy manager, who pulls every trick he can to keep Greg under his thumb and line his pockets. Fame is clearly having a bad effect on Greg. It never goes completely to Greg’s head and he becomes conceited or unbearable. But he is showing signs of snobbery and selfishness and losing sight of the warm-heartedness he used to have. By contrast, once Flo has a taste of Greg’s high life she does not like it; she wants a down-to-earth life where she helps people.
The story is also unusual for giving male protagonists more attention. Usually, boys were kept on the periphery in girls’ comics during the 1960s–1970s. There is Greg, of course, but there is also Pip the drummer. Pip is a humble, kind, good-natured boy whose own pursuit of showbiz is an uplifting and delightful contrast to the glamour and glitz of Greg’s pop career that comes at the price of happiness. Pip is also a tremendous help to both Flo and Greg in getting through their difficulties with Telfer and Greg’s pop career until they break free of it and start working together on their own gig. Had this story appeared in the late 1980s we have a strong suspicion Pip and Flo would have started dating. However, this was still not allowed in girls’ comics at the time of publication.
Guardian of White Horse Hill (artist Julian Vivas, writer Pat Mills)
The Goose Girl (artist Keith Robson, writer Alison Christie)
Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
Stage Fright! (artist Phil Townsend)
The Kids Fly High! – feature
A Window on the Past – Gypsy Rose story (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
Make Your Own Mini-Monster! (feature)
Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)
Cursed to be a Coward! – final episode (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Alison Christie)
This issue came out about Halloween time, but there is nothing to commemorate Halloween in the issue. The nearest to it is the mini-monster feature. However, the issue promises that the Guy Fawkes issue next week will be a sparkler, and in more ways than one – because that is when the Jinty classic, “Land of No Tears”, starts.
The story that gives way to “Land of No Tears” is “Cursed to be a Coward!”. The prophecy is fulfilled, but the twist is that it does not come true in the way Marnie expected – it had a completely different meaning altogether. And that is exactly how a prophecy is supposed to work. Once it is fulfilled, the crazed fortune-teller who had been trying to kill Marnie has one more desperate go at it – but there is something she apparently did not foresee, for all her powers to see in the future…
Alison Christie’s other story, “The Goose Girl”, is now on its penultimate episode. Glenda wants to go for an interview to get the career she wants. Unfortunately, her impossible mother messes everything up by sending her off to another interview because she is still pushing her into fashion design.
“Destiny Brown” also messes things up because she misinterpreted what her second sight was telling her – again. This time it screws up the chance that she and her father had of escaping the criminals who kidnapped them.
Fran and Co are off on a camping trip. But the outfits Fran picks show how ignorant she is about camping or country life, and it’s causing some embarrassment.
The mystery of the frightened girl deepens in “Stage Fright!” when Linda tries to reach out to her, but gets rebuffed. Linda turns to the mystery of the acting trophy instead and finds a clue there. And in “Guardian of White Horse Hill”, Janey’s emotional state gets so bad that her foster parents decide to send her back for expert help. Janey gets even worse when she overhears this; what will it drive her to do next week?
In the Gypsy Rose story, Tracy Gray discovers a window that can show her the past and the story of a stern father who is coming between his son and the girl he loves. But the story gets altered for the worse when a replacement pane from an evil house is fitted. Can the story be put right before the girl gets murdered?
Henrietta takes exception to Sue’s nail polish and her showing it off at school (um, isn’t nail polish banned in school?), and casts a spell in response. However, things rebound a bit on Henrietta when the spell has unexpected results that have her giving up in the end.
Following on from my earlierposts, more about what makes a story work. The discussion points in this post are more focused on the work of the artist, whereas the ones in the previous post were more around what the writer does.
Art quality. Is the art convincing and solid, with movement and vigour where required? Can the artist actually follow-through on technical requirements such as drawing ballet steps, gymnastics, and horses? Or is it inaccurate, stiff, or lifeless?
Of course this is primarily the artist’s responsibility, but there is some input from editorial departments. They may ensure, for instance, that art drawn by Spanish artists matches the British location that most stories are supposed to take place in by adding in pillar boxes and the like. Few artists in Jinty and other comics of this era are anything other than good to extremely good, so overall art quality is normally not a factor in the story not working. However, the artist may have specific gaps in what they can and can’t draw convincingly.
Stronger: There are so many strong artists that it is difficult to pick out one over the other except on the basis of personal preference. Mario Capaldi can draw faces, action sequences, and solidly convincing backgrounds, and is almost universally loved, but you could also say the same of my personal favourites Trini Tinturé, Phil Gascoine, and Phil Townsend. I think perhaps my favourite art on all the stories might however be Terry Aspin’s work on “Alice In A Strange Land”, in which he brings a strange jungle-wrapped lost city to life, alongside the British schoolgirls who have strayed into it.
Weaker: I find the Ken Houghton art on “Tansy of Jubilee Street” to be adequate but unexciting. It can be stiff at times when the artist has intended an action sequence, which is bad news. But even excellent artists can have off-days, too: Jim Baikie’s art is normally top-notch, but in parts of “Miss No-Name” some faces and sequences are very patchy, and possibly even filled-in by another hand. Finally, even if the artist is generally good, a specific failure to draw ballet well will condemn the story in the eyes of those who can spot that, as Mistyfan commented on a previous post.
Art style. The style of the artist needs to be matched to the story requirements. A light-hearted comedy story typically uses a more exaggerated style, and a sentimental or sad story might need something more restrained.
This might be an editorial decision in commissioning the right artist for the job, but it might also involve the artist deciding to use a variation on their usual style. Mario Capaldi and Jim Baikie are examples of artists who had humorous and serious styles that can be readily distinguished not because they look radically different but by the exaggeration of the character’s actions and expressions.
Stronger: This was generally a close match in any case. In other titles you could cite the use of John Armstrong to illustrate gymnastics in the Bella stories; in Jinty a close parallel would be the usage of Mario Capaldi for any sports story – for instance his superb depiction of the dramatic moments and of the swimming action in “Cursed To Be A Coward!“
Weaker: I think I would choose the selection of Trini Tinturé in “Prisoners of Paradise Island”. Trini is an excellent artist for showing scheming and plotting elegant ‘bad girls’ rather than hockey-playing schoolgirls. Similarly, José Casanovas in “The Darkening Journey” is always a slight mis-match for me as his animal characters are beautifully drawn but a tad too intrinsically cheeky-looking for such a sad and dramatic story. Finally, although I like Keith Robson’s art on “The Goose Girl” a lot, the Dutch publishers of Tina clearly felt that they wanted an art style that matched the continental expectations (such as a clear, clean line) as the same fundamental story was re-drawn in a Tina Topstrip.
Consistency of art. If the artist or the quality of the art changes visibly during the run of the storyline then this will be noticed by readers and is likely to have a negative impact on how well the story works overall.
If the artist is unwell or over-committed there might be a requirement for the editorial team to get another artist to fill in some or all of the remaining episodes of a story. Alternatively, another artist might perhaps collaborate to help finish the work in time (for instance by inking the original artist’s pencilled drawings). Presumably this might be an informal arrangement between artists if they were able to do this (for instance if they shared the same studio), but as there will have been people’s salaries at stake too I am assuming this was more likely to be an editorial decision to ensure that the story could be completed rather than abandoned.
Stronger: I am not aware of any examples where an inconsistency in the artwork actually benefitted the story (for instance if a mediocre artist was replaced by a better one). Even if the art changed for the better, the change itself would be jarring and intrusive. Ongoing humorous strips such as “The Jinx from St Jonah’s” did tend to have a few different artists working on it over the years and this was workable as there tended not to be a single story that would be badly affected by this change.
Weaker: This didn’t actually happen very often in Jinty‘s run. The obvious example is “Champion in Hiding” which started off with Mario Capaldi’s beautiful work and moved on to being drawn by Hugh Thornton-Jones, better known for his art on humour stories such as “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!”.
Character design. Making the characters in a story look and behave distinctively on the page is partly visual and partly about their dialogue and actions. Is the result a solid, convincing character or can you hardly tell them apart from other characters in girls’ comics? Worse, can you hardly even tell who’s who in the same story?
There is a lot of responsibility on the artist to bring a clear and distinctive visual identity to the character; at a minimum the inhabitants of the story should have different hairstyles, shapes, clothes that separate everyone out and make sure the reader is not confused. Ideally they should also have distinctive body shapes, body language and so forth too. The writer will have an impact too, in giving the protagonists an individual drive that will make them separate from others via distinctive dialogue and so forth.
Stronger: Jim Baikie was a very long-running Jinty artist, illustrating many continued stories and one-off Gypsy Roses. He certainly reused hairstyles (Fran of “Fran’ll Fix It!” shared a hairstyle with the protagonist of this Gypsy Rose story) but nevertheless each of his characters is visually distinctive in multiple ways – body shape, body language, freckles, and so on. No danger of mistaking his characters even when they do have some features in common.
Weaker: Comos’ schoolgirls across various stories illustrated by him have a bit too much similarity, I feel: I’d pick out the characters in “Destiny Brown” and the protagonists of “The Haunting of Form 2B” as being particularly visually similar.
Layout. There is a lot of thought that goes into getting an effective layout at the level of the individual panel and at the level of the whole page. Wally Wood’s 22 Panels That Always Work gives an idea of the sort of panel layouts that a US mainstream comics artist might use to vary the visual interest on a page; the conventions and standards for British weekly comics may differ a bit but will share a lot of requirements for varying the focus in each panel. Page layouts likewise can be pedestrian or innovative, with varying sizes of panel within and artwork that breaks out of the constraints of the panel border.
Again much of the responsibility of this lies with the artist, but the editorial team may also have input – for instance there may be a general instruction that pages should use a layout based on a nine-panel grid or on a six-panel grid to allow for larger panels. Pat Mills talks interestingly about working with the artist to create a dymanic page layout and strong panel layouts too. I don’t think that writers in this kind of comic usually would script down to this level (though in US mainstream comics they often will) but of course Pat was also an editor.
Stronger: There are a lot of really good and interesting layouts in Jinty, Misty, and Tammy, perhaps more so than in other titles from the time. “Concrete Surfer” has some very dynamic and interesting layouts depicting the protagonist’s skateboarding tricks; “Land of No Tears” is slightly more conventional but often breaks the borders or uses irregular panels for a dramatic effect.
Weaker: no immediate examples come to mind.
Incidentals. I am using this to refer to little background details in the artwork or the story.
This could be down to ideas from artist or from writer. Perhaps the artist will particularly need to fill the background somehow and may therefore put in extra detail either humorous or nostalgic.
Stronger: For instance Jim Baikie includes little jokes in the background of “Fran’ll Fix It”: they may be joky signs or funny things happening behind the protagonist’s back. There may also be little touches of colour that the writer may also include; I have always remembered a bit of dialogue in “Merry at Misery House” where Merry says she’s “not as green as [she’s] cabbage-looking!’ This is not in fact anything invented by writer Terry Magee but it’s a nice touch of appropriate vernacular and always lived on in my memory.
Weaker: It would be possible for the background detail to be over-egged and too intrusive. I can’t think of an immediate example that comes to mind however.
Design / font / lettering. The lettering of the dialogue in Jinty and similar comics are all typed in a standardised font, without any big distinction between strong emotion and ordinary ones (there can be a slightly bolder effect used but with the low print quality on newsprint this is not very easy to distinguish). However, the logo for the story title itself is more distinctively rendered to match the story it heads up. There are also lettering elements in the artwork that can be done well or less well – shop-fronts, newspapers within the story, and so on. Unlike in other comics genres, sound effects (another possible element to be done well or less well) are not greatly used.
I assume the story logo would have been done in-house editorially but this would need confirmation; I could also imagine it as supplied by the artist. The lettering would certainly be done by someone other than the artist as we can see by the consistency of the font used.
Stronger: A number of the story logos have a fairly simple design just using a natty font, so anything more than this can be quite striking. I like the design of the “Fran of the Floods” logo, with plain lettering but the addition of rain and a pool of water.
Weaker: Sometimes the logo font has no obvious sympathy with the title and just seems to have been chosen because it hadn’t been used particularly recently. “The Four-Footed Friends” is an example; nothing wrong with the story logo, but it doesn’t add anything extra.
Format / edition / pagination. The Jinty stories were only reprinted by British publishers in annuals rather than in albums collecting the whole story together, but of course translated editions did exist that brought the whole of a story under the same covers. This could potentially mean that a story either feels stronger in reading it as a cohesive whole, or perhaps that weaknesses of pacing are more clearly felt and so the whole story works less well when read as a single edition. Alternatively, a story may even be entirely too long for some formats. Finally, the format also includes the page size and other publishing decisions – how many pages will be in that week’s issue? Which pages will be printed on the double-page spread at the centre, or on the front or back where you can only see a single page at a time? These decisions are all very specific to the individual printing of a story and don’t necessarily impact how a story reads over its lifetime over more than one printing.
These format decisions are all editorial and would be unlikely to be down to anything decided by artist or writer (though a popular artist or writer could be ‘rewarded’ by being given a plum location in the weekly edition of a title, of course). I would assume that in these cases, the writer and artist will not typically have known in advance whether their story was to be printed on a double-page spread or on the right-hand page (meaning that the reader needed to turn over to reveal the next page) and would not have specifically tailored the story as a result. (In other kinds of comics publications this kind of fine-tuning is possible and even normal.)
Stronger/ weaker: I have not got good examples of stories that could make a stronger or weaker impact depending on the editorial choices of edition and pagination, but perhaps a reader of one of the translated albums may have views based on that experience.
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)
A cover featuring two disturbing panels from the inside, and the colour combinations of red, black and burgundy make it even stronger.
“Battle of the Wills” reaches its penultimate episode and it contains one of the most ruthless acts ever seen in Jinty. Dr Morrison eliminates the cloned Kate in front of an audience of scientists with her reversal machine in order to prove her duplicating machine works. Everyone is horrified, but not the cold-blooded Dr Morrison, who only cares about proving her greatness.
It is also the penultimate episode of “Who’s That in My Mirror?”. The ghastly face of Magda’s own evil is getting worse and worse. Magda knows what must be done, but can’t do it, and traces of her old scheming ways still linger as well. So it is not surprising that in the final panel the evil face now threatens to do its worst.
“Destiny Brown” is in big trouble in school because she misconstrued her vision and plays truant. While doing so, she gets another vision of her runaway father. But a trip to Wales threatens her plans to search for him.
In “The Goose Girl”, Mum is getting really impossible with her bird-hating attitude and it is interfering with Brodie’s recovery. At the end of the episode, Mum goes too far – she locks Brodie in a shed and is going to arrange for the Colonel to dispose of him!
Linda reluctantly agrees to Lord Banbury’s condition to train as an actress under his wardship for the sake of her father. But the creepy old house she has to live in is really giving her “Stage Fright!”.
Marnie, the girl who is “Cursed to be a Coward!”, finds a swimming pool where she can train in without fear of the prophecy. And at the end of the episode she decides to tell her trainer, Miss Frame, why she has been so terrified of swimming lately. In the next episode we will see how much it helps.
Fran enlists the help of a bloodhound to find the missing school trophy, but he’s causing even more mayhem. It culminates when he has the headmistress standing on her desk in fright! The blurb for next week assures us that Fran will get herself out of this ‘fix’, so that’s a relief.
This is the 250th post on this blog! After a slow season in the run up to Christmas, we have been blazing away. How better to celebrate than with another creator interview?
Keith Robson contacted us via a comment on this site: “I drew ‘The Birds’ so can tell you that the writer was ‘Buster’ editor Len (Lennox) Wenn. Before going freelance in 1975 I was a staffer so Len and I were old friends. Len also wrote ‘Go On, Hate Me’ and many other Jinty serials.” He kindly agreed to answer a few questions for this blog, illuminating various aspects of the life of a freelancer and staffer at the time and subsequently.
Keith Robson stories in Jinty (see also the Catawiki list of his stories and the Lambiek Comiclopedia entry):
Can You Beat Sharp-eyed Sharon? – spot-the-clue feature in a Summer Special and the Jinty Annual 1979
1 Can you please outline your career in British comics? For instance, how did you start, which titles did you write for, how long did you draw comics for? I have read Dez Skinn’s article about IPC Fleetway when you both worked there, and of course in your original comment on this site you said that you started as a freelancer in 1975, but it would be great to know what led you to go freelance (it seems to have been a step taken by a lot of in house staff?).
I got my start in October 1968 in D.C.Thomson’s Meadowside art department in Dundee. This was a wonderful training ground where I learned far more than I ever did in Art College! There were over 50 artists, letterers and layout people at the disposal of all the Thomson publications so almost anything could land on your desk to be drawn, quickly and accurately. In those early days I drew lots of text story illustrations for the boys’ comics – Rover, Victor, Hotspur etc. Pat Mills and John Wagner were there at the time though I never got to know them, and they left before I did.
The Spanish and Italian artists used by the girls’ comics did beautiful work, but they could never get British things like policemen, buses, taxis, pillar boxes etc. right, so a typical job would be Anglicising pages for Jackie or Romeo. (I also appeared in Romeo, as did many young Thomson staffers, photographed to illustrate readers’ letters and problems!) More often though, 39 pages of an old girls’ serial would land on my desk to be updated- all the hairstyles updated, skirts shortened, blazer badges changed and so on. Thus acres of magnificent artwork passed through my hands, and once in a while there would be the opportunity to actually draw some pages. My first girls’ stories were for Diana starting with a serial on the back page (in full colour!) called ‘Little Donkey’. Assorted other Diana features and annual pages followed but the bread and butter work of the art department was repairs and alterations. In all, I spent two and a half happy years in Meadowside learning from some wonderful mentors, but really wanting to draw my own weekly pages and not seeing too much future for that in the Thomson Art Dept.
In the summer of 1971 I was down in London (hoping to find an agent) and found myself passing the offices of IPC Magazines with a folder of artwork under my arm and the number of an ex-Thomson staffer now in Look and Learn… An hour later after a hilarious interview with legendary managing editor Jack Le Grand I emerged back on Farringdon Street with a staff job (and some freelance work on Look and Learn)!
I returned to Dundee, packed my bags, bade a cordial farewell to D.C.Thomson, and a fortnight later joined Buster working with editor Lenn Wenn and sub editor Dez Skinn. (A week later we were all on strike!)
A daily visitor to the Buster office was Mavis Miller, and old friend of Lenn’s (they started at Fleetway together) and we often all went to lunch. I acquired an agent (Dan Kelleher of Temple/Rogers) and started doing freelance for assorted publishers, all kinds of work with a view to saving enough for a deposit on my own flat. Through the good offices of Dan and Pat Kelleher, (and since I had parted amicably from D.C.Thomson), I began drawing for the Sparky – a series called ‘Mr. Bubbles’.
Friends in Dundee alerted me to a suitable flat for sale in Newport-on-Tay (across the river from Dundee) I was able to get a mortgage, and a few months later took the plunge, moved back north and went freelance, working for both Thomsons and IPC.
2 Which stories did you draw, in Jinty and on other titles? On my list of Jinty stories that you drew, I have “Jassy’s Wand of Power”, “Go On, Hate Me!”, “The Goose Girl”, “The Birds”, and various Gypsy Rose stories. Of the stories you drew, do you have favourites or perhaps ones you now recall with a bit of a shudder? Did you know ever know who wrote “Jassy” for instance, or the Gypsy Rose stories you drew? We know from Veronica Weir that there was at least one case of an artist who wrote their own story; did you ever do that, or did you know of other cases where that happened at all?
It was through Pat Kelleher and knowing Mavis Miller that I got my first Jinty serial – “Jassy’s Wand of Power’’ – which I really enjoyed. They never told me know who wrote anything, I only knew the stories written by Lenn Wenn, so I can’t tell you who did those Gypsy Rose stories – except for the one I wrote myself. This was one of the first scripts I ever had accepted. A girl encounters a photographer with a Victorian camera at a ruined castle. She later realises he must be a ghost and that she has taped his voice on her new cassette recorder! However when she plays it back there’s nothing. The twist comes when she does some research in the library and discovers a 100 year old photo – of herself! [This story is reprinted below]
I didn’t find out that Alison Fitt had written “The Goose Girl” until 2006 when we met at the launch of ‘Time Tram Dundee’, a ‘Horrible History’-type book I illustrated that was written by Alison’s son Matthew.
3 In your time doing these comics are there any kinds of stories that you would have liked to draw that you didn’t get the chance to?
I enjoyed all the stories I did for Jinty, and I always tried to put in as much background detail as I could. I would love the opportunity to redraw any of them again now (I cringe when I see some of the stuff I did in those days!). I especially liked stories with a distinctive setting and lots of atmosphere. I can remember “Save Old Smokey” the train story that Alison mentioned. I would have loved to have been asked to draw that one as I love steam trains! Deadlines were often a bit of a struggle, and in order to stay on schedule with “The Goose Girl” I had to take my pages with me on holiday, and it was while drawing an episode in a caravan in Anstruther that the news came that Elvis had died (16 August 1977).
4 We are always keen to know who worked on the various stories, as explicit creator credit was very rare. You have already helped muchly with your crediting of Len Wenn as writer on “Hate Me!” and “The Birds”, and via Alison Christie we now know that she was the writer on “The Goose Girl”. Do you know names of other people who worked on Jinty and related girls’ comics?
After Jinty, I also did a serial for Penny called ‘The Blue Island Mystery’; again I was never told who the writer was, also a ‘spot the clue’ type detective feature called “Sharp-eyed Sharon” for the Summer Special [there were also two examples of it in the 1979 Annual]. My final girls’ serial was for D.C.Thomson in Mandy, which had been taken over by former Sparky editor, Iain Chisholm (shortly before he died). This was “Diana’s Dark Secret” – Blind Diana unexpectedly regains her sight in episode one, but because she fears they’ll take away Goldie, her beloved guide dog she continues (riddled by guilt) to fake blindness. Only the dog knows…
After Mandy, Thomsons moved me onto Topper (drawing “The Whizzers from Oz”) and Starblazer doing science fantasy covers, then on to their final two boys’ papers, Spike and Champ. When they folded I worked on school textbooks for Oliver and Boyd in Edinburgh, then over ten years on the Dandy writing and drawing “Black Bob”, and “Jonah” and “General Jumbo” for Beano. There was a brief return to girls’ type stories in the Dandy with a short-lived parody written tongue-in-cheek by Thomson staffer Duncan Leith called “Wendy’s Wicked Stepladder”.
5 In his article, Dez attributes the decline of comics to a contempt for the reader (and maybe also the creator?) that was down to a purely commercial vision – printing using old-fashioned presses, resizing artwork in a destructive fashion, and so on. Pat Mills also thinks similarly, talking of the hatch-match-dispatch process angrily. Of course the rise of competing claims on kids’ time and pocket money (computer games, tv) could also be held to blame. Where do you stand on this? Do you think the decline of the British comics industry was an avoidable misfortune, or inevitable in a changing world?
I feel it was very short-sighted that the comics were allowed to slide into decline. For sure, the rise of other media certainly played its part, but the publishers were always reluctant to invest when sales dropped, especially IPC with its hatch, match, and despatch policy. They never had much respect for the amazing pool of talent that they had at their disposal, and certainly never gave anyone credit. Payments hardly increased in the latter years, and our work was never returned. There was a constant anxiety that the comic might fold (they never told you that the end was coming) and there might be no more work…
Letterpress printing never did justice to the artwork and maybe, just maybe if they had gone upmarket into full colour and printed on decent paper, giving creators a name check they might have got a bit more attention and survived. Of course there was always a snobbery towards comics in this country, devalued and disparaged at the time by teachers, librarians etc. who thought they were just throwaway rubbish that would rot children’s brains.
Nowadays teachers are delighted to see children reading comics (reading anything!) and appreciate the creativity that goes into them. Thanks largely to ‘Time Tram Dundee’, I decided to qualify as a teacher and now have a whole new career (which I love!) going into schools and working with children to create and draw their own comics.
It surprises me that no-one has considered publishing some of those serials as graphic novels (suitably updated and with colour). I’ve worked with Alison Fitt on several projects and we’ve recently collaborated on a 72 page graphic novel ‘Nora Thumberland, Heroine of Hadrian’s Wall’ (yet to find a publisher) which 30 years ago could well have have been a Jinty serial…
Many thanks again to Keith for this great interview!
“Gypsy Rose: A Picture From The Past” published Jinty 3 December 1977
A cover featuring two of the supernatural- themed stories running in Jinty at the time, both with foreboding overtones. The panel featuring laughs with Alley Cat is quite a contrast.
In “Destiny Brown”, people are ostracising Destiny because her father has been connected to a robbery and bullies pick on her at school. But their bullying puts a girl’s life in danger – as Destiny foresaw with her second sight. In “Who’s That in My Mirror?”, Magda smashes the mirror in the hope this will free her from that ugly face that is a reflection of her own devil heart. But she is puzzled as to why the mirror is putting up no resistance to being smashed after resisting her attempts to get rid of it. Perhaps she should have taken the hint and put the rock down. But instead the drama of the story is going to accelerate towards its climax.
“The Goose Girl” learns why her mother hates birds. And now all readers must be more annoyed with the mother than ever. Hating all birds because her husband was shot while defending them from hunters? And now she’s helping those very same hunters who killed her husband? That woman really needs to get her head examined! Unfortunately that’s not going to happen, and her attitude is going to cause even more problems.
Marnie tries to get the curse lifted in “Cursed to be a Coward”. But instead she ends up with Madam Leo terrorising her over it and scaring the living daylights out of her just as she is about to do a high dive. Not a good combination, and this is just what that demented Madam Leo intends. Another Jinty character in serious need of a psychiatrist.
Fran the Fixer ropes some girls into shifting the grand piano for the Colonel. And she fixes a half holiday for the girls into the bargain!
It’s the last episode of “A Boy Like Bobby”. Next week Phil Townsend starts on his new Jinty story, “Stage Fright!”. Jinty is keeping her artists busy again.
“The Battle of the Wills” is put aside as the ballet Kate goes in search of the gymnast Kate, whom she thinks is in trouble. And she finds out how much Dr Morrison really cares about the cloned Kate; as far as the doctor is concerned, it’s “just an interesting experiment”. But little does ballet Kate know how much it is a foreshadowing of one of the most cold-blooded acts ever to be seen in girls’ comics.
The cover announces the start of one new story, “Destiny Brown”, but there is not even a mention of the other story starting, “The Goose Girl”. Presumably its space has been taken up by the competition being announced on the cover. Just answer two Muppet questions and you go into a draw to win a copy of the first Muppet album. But why is “Who’s That in My Mirror?” taking what could easily have been the space to announce the start of “The Goose Girl”?
“Destiny Brown” is the seventh child of a seventh child, so it’s no surprise that she suddenly develops psychic powers. And we have a new ‘parent problem’ story with “The Goose Girl”. Glenda Noble and her mother have been feuding over birds for years; Glenda loves them while her mother hates them. Moreover, she is the sort of mother who won’t let Glenda be herself and keeps pushing Glenda in the wrong direction. But Glenda is a rebel and constantly defies her mother, so she’s more ballsy than most regular heroines in that she can stick up for herself and even get her own way. But not enough to make her mother see reason.
Meanwhile, in “Battle of the Wills”, Kate Wills, who has been constantly rebelling against the grandmother who keeps forcing her into ballet, suddenly surprises herself by enjoying ballet for the first time when her new teacher arrives. If she is the original Kate, maybe she could stay that way forever. But is she? Dr Morrison says she is, while the other Kate, who has been told she is the clone, has gone into a state of shock and wandering in a daze. But Dr Morrison has been caught out in one lie already, so is her word to be trusted?
In “A Boy Like Bobby”, Tessa is defying her mother too in order to help the boys, and manages to fool her. But new problems are not far off, of course.
In “Cursed to be a Coward!”, Marnie’s hydrophobia is intensifying to ludicrous lengths. It is increasing her unpopularity at school, and she just won’t tell anyone what the problem is.
And as the cover states, the face of evil gets worse in “Who’s That in My Mirror?” as Magda’s scheming intensifies. In fact, in this episode she deliberately gives her own mother a dose of food poisoning!