Tag Archives: Haunting of Form 2B

Jinty #5, 8 June 1974

jinty-8-june-1974

Katie’s jinxing has a water theme this week, from jinxing water skiers to having the swimming team walk miles in the rain.

Judy tries to get help from the police about the haunting, but of course they’re not going to believe a thing like that. And Judy is even more terrified to realise that whatever is causing the haunting and making her friends dress like Victorian girls is going to target her next!

Gwen is riding high on the glory she has stolen. Of course that means a fall sooner or later, and it is already starting. Julie Waring is getting suspicious and has also overheard Gwen’s troubled conscience speaking out loud. Is Gwen about to be caught out?

The girls try to bust out of Misery House, but they not only fail but are also duped into playing a cruel trick on Carla, who was caught during the escape. One up to Misery House, but we know there will be a next time.

Angela’s Angels are accused of stealing, but it turns out the patient was foisting the blame onto them. We see acid-drop Angela has a heart: she sticks up for the Angels when they are accused and covers up for one somewhat errant Angel later on.

The scheming girls did not mean Yvonne to take a fall down the stairs when they soap the soles of her shoes, and only her acrobatic skills save her. It doesn’t cut much ice with jealous Lisa though, who is furious when Yvonne is chosen over her for the Dance of the Four Cygnets.

Miss Madden’s test for Mandy this week is very odd, even for her. She has Mandy dress up like a princess and then puts her in a posh room, where a two-way mirror enables Miss Madden and her colleagues to watch Mandy. Then Mandy panics for some reason when she hears the tune from a music box. Now what could have brought that on?

The influence of the Indian necklace has Gail’s friends turning away from her while she gets very sneaky and deceptive in getting what she wants. Daisy’s Victorian employers turn up their noses at coconuts and are not impressed with her fishing. It all ends up with their going hungry and Daisy slipping away, full of fish, so they don’t lumber her again. Dora helps out a dog that is being mistreated, but makes sure the dog doesn’t go to the dogs’ hotel either.

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Jinty 20 July 1974

Cover 20 July 1974

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • The Haunting of Form 2B (artist Rodrigo Comos) last episode
  • Gwen’s Stolen Glory
  • Make-Believe Mandy (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Gail’s Indian Necklace (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • A Dream for Yvonne (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)

Katie Jinks is kicked out of her new job, for having inadvertently set off the fire alarm, scared all the customers out of the shop, and soaked her boss in the bargain! The reason she took that job in the first place was to be able to buy herself a swish new swimming costume, which she now can’t afford – but at least she can buy some patches in the store – “It’ll be a little bit of profit for them, to make up for all the trouble I caused!” Of course with Katie it’s never that easy – she is the 100,000th customer to the store and gets a prize as a result – reluctant though the manager is to grant it! This turns out to have been a really good, solid two-parter, with plenty of gags and plot twists. There’s even one at the end – the costume she’s been after is a sunsuit, which shouldn’t be used to swim in – so she has to give it to her mother and resort to patches after all!

The Haunting of Form 2B” comes to an end in this issue. The girls are indeed in big trouble in a small boat, and nearly drown – but it is not Judy Mayhew’s intervention that saves them. The ghost teacher warned a lock-keeper who helped to rescue them just in time. Just as well, as in trying to save them (as she thought) it was actually Judy who was acting massively recklessly and would have got them all drowned. Very much like the curse in Macbeth! But because Miss Thistlewick was able to save the girls in the end, her spirit is now at rest and she can leave them in peace to enjoy their modern lives.

Everything is working out beautifully for Gwen and her Stolen Glory. The grateful parents of the girl that everyone thinks she rescues are buying a house for her and her family to live in, and Gwen’s talent has won her a place at drama school now that she has been given some attention (and now that injured Judith is out of the way). The only risk to Gwen is if Judith ever regains her memory – and Gwen is far-gone enough now to be happy to prevent that from happening.

Make-Believe Mandy has to pass more tests set by Miss Madden. What has complicated things is that Mandy’s cruel family have twigged that there is something going on, and have tried to horn in on what might be coming to her.

We find out in this week’s episode that Merry’s friend Carla is still alive, but being kept hidden so that Merry is psychologically tormented along with being ostracised by her friends. But Merry finds out too, soon enough, and risks quite a lot to get Carla out of where she has been hidden. Miss Ball is even more of an enemy of Merry’s, after that…

Gail finds out something important about her necklace, and now knows what she needs to do to appease the vengeful spirit Anak-Har-Li that lives in it. Of course getting nearer to her goal isn’t easy, as the spirit seems quite happy to hurt people that stand in its way – and possibly Gail’s Aunt Marjorie might soon count!

“A Dream for Yvonne” develops further on its miserable course – she is picked up by a children’s welfare officer who is sceptical about her claim to have lost her memory, so he takes her to a reformatory, which she will be hard-pressed to escape from. Writing this, I am reminded of the fact that Miguel Quesada also drew Tammy‘s “Little Miss Nothing” – a similar Cinderella story.

Jinty 13 July 1974

Jinty cover 13 July 1974

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi – and Mike White?)
  • The Haunting of Form 2B (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Gwen’s Stolen Glory
  • Make-Believe Mandy (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • What’s Cooking? Myedovyi Muss (honey mousse), Kovrizhka Myedovaya (honey cake) (recipes)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Gail’s Indian Necklace (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • The Snobs and the Scruffs
  • A Dream for Yvonne (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)
  • Jinty made it herself… so can you! (craft: cat towel)

Katie Jinks is knocked off the front page by a competition! Lawks. Things work out for her on the inside though: she applies for a Saturday job at the local department store so as to earn enough for a replacement swimming costume, and jinxes her way into it – and almost certainly out of it, too! The episode ends with her having set off the fire alarm by mistake, and two senior members of staff breaking down the stock room door to get her out before she is burned to death! They won’t be pleased when they realise it’s all a false alarm…

There is a letters page now in Jinty as the publication schedule has caught up with the earliest mail sent in by readers.  This page also includes a filled-in form of the sort you are supposed to send in with your letters: Deborah Halifax (age 10 1/2) voted for her top three favourite stories as being “Bird Girl Brenda”, “Always Together”, and “Make-Believe Mandy”. Two out of those three stories hadn’t actually started yet, so clearly Deborah must have gone back to an old issue to cut out the form, and then changed her mind for some reason.

Judy is still being haunted in Form 2B. She has failed to stop her friends from being taken off by Miss Thistlewick, but a vision brought about by an object from the old school room gives her enough information to get to the lake, hopefully in time to stop everyone from drowning. Or maybe she has brought them to the very place where they are all doomed?! We are promised a resolution in the following week’s episode.

Gwen is being cheered and feted by her schoolmates who only recently mocked her. One holdout still stands against her – Julie Waring – and Julie is almost being bullied in her turn, although everything that she is saying is in fact the truth. Gwen is buying into her own turnaround in fortune far too much, including joining the taunting of Julie – for her own protection, of course…

In “Make-Believe Mandy”, Mandy has further tests of loyalty to Miss Madden to pass after the initial one. Now that her wicked step-family have seen Madden in her big car being so friendly to Mandy, they are intent on buttering her up in case there is something good in it for them.

A nasty accident in “Merry at Misery House” sees her friend being stretchered off. Merry is hopeful that Carla will see a doctor straight away but the officers don’t sound like they’re having any of it. The Warden does get a doctor in but at the price of shutting everyone away so that no-one can pass a message to him – and then soon enough an announcement is made that Carla is dead! Because the accident was due to Merry fooling around, everyone starts blaming her – including herself – until she spots someone who looks like Carla, at the window of a tower…

Gail is still struggling with trying to get rid of the Indian necklace, without success. She has buried it and tried to leave it in the local church. At the end of the episode it hovers over her in her mind, haunting her – it looks quite a lot like the carved mask in “Golden Dolly, Death Dust!”.

Yvonne is still amnesiac in her story, but her circus skills don’t desert her as she climbs out of a window to escape from a fire, despite being locked into her room. She nearly makes it to a more general safety in the form of the theatre and her ballet colleagues, but nasty rival Lisa prevents that too, by bribing the theatre doorman. What a horrid piece of work! No wonder that at the end of the episode, Yvonne feels that everyone’s hand is against her.

The last story in this very full week’s comic is “Angela’s Angels” – the cat is out of the bag that Lesley’s father is a millionaire, not a prisoner held at Her Majesty’s convenience. Time for a different bit of soap opera to kick in…

Jinty 6 July 1974

Jinty cover 6 July 1974

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • The Haunting of Form 2B (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Gwen’s Stolen Glory
  • Make-Believe Mandy (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • What’s Cooking? Muesli, Creme aus Rohen Apfeln (recipes)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Gail’s Indian Necklace (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • A Dream for Yvonne (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • Desert Island Daisy (artist Robert MacGillivray) last episode
  • Jinty made it herself… so can you! (craft: papier-mâché elephant)
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)

Back to the early issues of Jinty, when the Katie Jinks stories had a serious undertone as well as lots of slapstick. The story arc that had champion swimmer Karen refusing to swim, in best tear-jerking style, ends happily as she rescues a drowning Katie and snaps out of the depression she’s been in since her best friend drowned. Unlike earlier episodes, the art all looks like pure Capaldi to me, rather than being finished off by a stand-in artist.

There is no “Pony Parade” this week and it’s also the last episode of “Desert Island Daisy”, signalling a change in the make-up of the title to focus primarily on the more serious stories. In “The Haunting of Form 2B”, matters are clearly moving to a climax, and protagonist Judy is not sure if she’s failed totally with no way of stopping the tragedy! There are still a couple of episodes left before the final denouement, though.

In “A Dream for Yvonne”, circus girl Yvonne has lost her memory and is being made to skivvy for an unscrupulous exploiter, Ma Crompton. By day she has to cook, clean, and tidy up, and by night she has to dance in a skeevy nightclub in skimpy clothes. Cor blimey! Things are about to get worse though as Ma locks her inside while going shopping, only for a fire to break out in the badly-maintained hovel… if it’s not one thing it’s another, eh.

Jinty 29 June 1974

Cover Jinty 29 June 1974

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi – and Mike White?)
  • Jinty made it herself… so can you! (craft: rosette)
  • The Haunting of Form 2B (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Gwen’s Stolen Glory
  • Make-Believe Mandy (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • What’s Cooking? Rice, Vegetable curry (recipes)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Pony Parade 8 – Cara’s Secret (text story)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • The Snobs and the Scruffs
  • A Dream for Yvonne (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • Gail’s Indian Necklace (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Desert Island Daisy (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Seeing Stars: Elton (pinup)
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)

I am slowly making my way through the 1974 Jintys that I bought recently, while at the same time reading & annotating Mel Gibson’s book, “Remembered Reading“. Some people may have noticed an incomplete draft which was posted by mistake and then swiftly deleted – apologies for any confusion. The book review will be ready in a couple of days, I think.

The “Jinx” lead story continues. New girl Karen sobs heartbrokenly in true tear-jerker style as she exclaims that no-one understands her troubles. Katie is listening and sympathetic, and despite her typical clumsiness, she does manage to shake Karen out of her distress and into a laugh. Karen’s secret sorrow is that her best friend was drowned while they were swimming together, and naturally Karen feels it is all her fault! Not that she will allow Katie to tell anyone else – and so, of course, hijinks ensue.

In “The Haunting of Form 2B”, Judy Mayhew discovers a limitation to Miss Thistlewick’s ghostly power, but nevertheless is captured by her and brainwashed: “My name is Judith Victoria Mayhew. I was born in 1862…”

“Merry at Misery House” has thought up a clever trick to send a message to her parents – she writes a letter using different handwriting and they come to see what has happened and if something is wrong. Of course the wardens won’t allow a revealing message out beyond the four walls of the reformatory: if Merry spills the beans to her parents, Miss Ball will set the fierce dog onto her best friend, Carla. “If only they knew how awful it really is! But I can’t tell them.” Not that Merry is downcast for long – soon she has taken a splinter out of the fierce dog’s paw and befriended it, giving her a chance to try to escape!

Yvonne’s dream has turned nightmarish – following a bike accident she has lost her memory and is being exploited by a cruel woman who is giving her a place to stay and some work, but at a price. The club she ends up working in, doing acrobatic stunts in a fringed bikini, looks pretty sleazy!

Jinty 22 June 1974

Cover 19740622

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi – and Mike White?)
  • Seeing Stars: Donny (pin-up: Donny Osmond)
  • The Haunting of Form 2B (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Gwen’s Stolen Glory
  • Make-Believe Mandy (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • What’s Cooking? Ham and Cheese Savoury, Flenjes (recipes)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Pony Parade 7 – Crusader’s Strange Catch (text story)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • The Snobs and the Scruffs
  • A Dream for Yvonne (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • Gail’s Indian Necklace (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Desert Island Daisy (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)
  • Jinty made it herself… so can you! (craft: flowered headband)

The relatively-serious Jinx story continues, still at the same rate of four pages in this issue. I guess it was seen as a proper lead story at this point, not simply an amusing aside. New girl Karen has been revealed as faking an injury to get out of swimming, which means that Katie is in the clear (her chums thought she’d injured Karen herself). But Katie starts to feel sorry for Karen, and sure that there is some reason behind the way she is acting. Various pratfalls later, Katie sees Karen crying in the school grounds, and trying to burn her old swimming costume. “I can’t stand it! I’ll never swim again! And nobody will ever understand! There’s nobody I can tell about it!” This last page of art, in particular, is classic Capaldi and beautifully done, whereas the cover page once again shows signs of collaborative work with someone who doesn’t do faces quite as beautifully.

In “The Haunting of Form 2B”, the sinister teacher Miss Thistlewick and her Victorian-influenced pupils become a little more sympathetic and vulnerable – the pupils are disturbed and saddened by the hostile reception they’re getting from their classmates, who think it is all a put-on and a bad joke. Miss Thistlewick offers a class trip as a prize for the best essay – on life in Victorian times, which the unaffected pupils tell her is very unfair! But the teacher’s aloof attitude is disturbed when a photo is taken of her alongside the affected pupils – she doesn’t at all want to included. The reason is obvious once it is developed – with no sign of Miss Thistlewick! Protagonist Judy hopes this will be the proof she can show to others (but in vain of course).

I said that the previous episode of “Merry at Misery House” was starting to show the divide-and-rule attitude beloved by repressive regimes. Merry finds out that no one is speaking to her because the warders have threatened dire punishment to anyone who does so. Her spirit is nearly cracked by this removal of her friends’ support – but not quite.

Jinty 15 June 1974

Cover 19740615

This is the earliest issue out of the batch of issues I recently bought from Peggy, filling in a big gap from the beginning of my run of Jinty.

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi – and Mike White?)
  • The Haunting of Form 2B (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Gwen’s Stolen Glory
  • Make-Believe Mandy (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Pony Parade 6 – A Pony With a Purpose! (text story)
  • The Snobs and the Scruffs
  • A Dream for Yvonne (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • Gail’s Indian Necklace (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Desert Island Daisy (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • What’s Cooking? Spaghetti Bolognaise, Torrone di Cioccolato (recipes)
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)
  • Jinty made it herself… so can you! (craft: bird feeder)

It’s hard to be sure about the art on this issue of “Jinx”. The figures look very much as if they have been drawn by Mario Capaldi, but the faces less so; I think it must be a collaborative piece. Maybe, as happened with Capaldi at other points, he had over-committed himself work-wise in some way? It is also seemingly the start of an extended, relatively-serious story line for Katie Jinks – a swimming champion from another school is joining St Jonah’s but (of course) things are never so simple. In this four-page episode, new girl Karen is clearly faking an injury to get out of the swimming that she is well-known for – and Katie is unjustly getting the blame for the injury.

In “Merry at Misery House”, Merry is put in with the hardest of hard cases – the high-security section – but her capacity for keeping on going despite tough treatment wins even these girls over. Mind you, we never see these real tough nuts again – they are clearly a point being made by writer Terence Magee. The more striking point is probably the one that leads into the next episode, though – Merry’s real friends, Carla and the others – turn away from her when she is restored to them, precisely because it’s made clear to them by the warders that they will get worse and worse treatment the more they support Merry. Divide and rule… the influence of Terry Magee’s time in Francoist Spain is clear to see.

“A Dream for Yvonne” continues the story of the circus girl who longs to become a professional ballerina despite spiteful rivalries and family opposition. It is beautifully drawn but the faces are not very expressive, which does detract.

In “Gail’s Indian Necklace” the malevolent influence of the evil object is more and more like a pathology, a mental health issue – Gail’s obsessive behaviour and her changes in personality; her horror at what she has done once she comes out of it. The magical telepathy used in the story keeps it on a fantastical level, of course, but there are some quite striking moments where it could almost be done as a straight story about mental health.

Rodrigo Comos

Comos signature on Haunting of Form 2B

Rodrigo Rodríguez Comos (1935- ) is an artist with a distinctive style, quickly recognizable as a strong contributor to Jinty and to other British girls’ comics over many years. The Lambiek Comiclopedia has a detailed entry for him in English; likewise there is an entry on Spanish reference site Tebeosfera. He seems to have only started drawing for the non-Spanish market in the late 60s or early 70s, so his work for Jinty was probably quite early on in his career in British girls’ comics. This is in contrast to his slightly old-fashioned style, which I could happily have imagined to have been brought through from the days of comics such as Girl. I say this not to do him down: he is the artist on some key reader favourites. He lives in Spain and currently focuses on oil painting.

“The Haunting of Form 2B” is one of the stories in the launch issue in 1974, establishing Comos as one of the stable of Jinty artists thereafter. This ghost story set in a school has many classic elements: a mystery to be resolved, a school teacher with a difference, weird and scary goings-on, and danger to life and limb before all is cleared up. The fact that the main plot driver is ghostly rather than fantastical or science fictional lends it a less Jinty-like tone; but then Comos drew more ghostly or spooky stories than he did fantastical ones, in Jinty‘s pages at any rate. Having said that, the key story he will be particularly remembered for in this title is the classic SF story “The Robot Who Cried“.

As with many of the Spanish artists seen in Jinty and other comics of the time, Comos often signed his art, which helps to make attribution straightforward.

Jinty cover 12Jinty cover4.jpg

List of Jinty stories attributable to Rodrigo Comos:

  • The Haunting of Form 2B (1974)
  • Destiny Brown (1977)
  • Horse From The Sea (1976)
  • The Robot Who Cried (1977)
  • Various Gypsy Rose stories (various dates between 1977 and 1980)
  • Angela Angel-Face (1980, reprinted from Sandie)
  • Dutch-original stories featuring Fran from “Fran’ll Fix It!”

 

What makes a story work, pt 3?

Following on from my earlier posts, 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.

Story theme: Evil influence/supernatural influence

This is the first in a new category of post, covering the various story themes seen in Jinty in more detail. As we will see, the story themes are often not clear-cut; many themes overlap or become fuzzy at the edges when investigated further. Nevertheless, definite strands can be traced.

There is a long-running story theme in girls’ comics based around someone or something (normally an object) influencing the protagonist to do things she normally wouldn’t do, in a way that is supernatural or unnatural. The influencing object usually has its own agenda, and in service of this it often ends up taking away the protagonist’s free will, and perhaps even her memory, such are the extremes that are gone to. The object (or, sometimes, person) is often evil, though sometimes it can be just driven by its own underlying requirements, which the protagonist must serve in order to resolve the situation.

Core examples

Probably the purest form of this story theme in Jinty can be found in the spooky story “Spell of the Spinning Wheel” (1977). Rowan Lindsay pricks her finger on the spinning wheel that her mother has just bought and finds that she is made to fall fast asleep every time she hears a humming sound – like the sound of the wheel when it is being used, but also the hum of a hairdryer, a car, and so on. The spinning wheel is entirely malicious: its agenda seems simply to spoil Rowan’s running career and indeed her life. When Rowan tries to give it away or destroy it to save herself, it responds dramatically by trying to make her go over a cliff, drown in a river, or get knocked down by a car; certainly it’s not possible to just tamely pass it on. In the end it must be destroyed by cleansing fire, but this can only happen once the whole family is united in determination to remove its malign influence: the heroine does not have enough power to get rid of it by herself. (In this story this works partly through the wheel’s power and partly through the mother’s disbelief: although the father is soon persuaded of the spinning wheel’s malice, the mother is turned against her family and refuses to co-operate with them until finally the wheel goes a step too far and shows her its true colours.)

Clear examples of this story theme in Jinty are:

  • Gail’s Indian Necklace (1974): Gail acquires a mysterious necklace made of wooden beads in a jumble sale: it originally came from India. Initially it grants some desires that are unspoken, or socially wrong: she cannot afford a bicycle and so the necklace makes her steal one, or she wants her aunt out of the way and the aunt gets knocked over by a car. The necklace has a specific agenda, to be returned to its original location; once Gail complies she is free of its influence and is even rewarded by it.
  • Slave of the Mirror (1975): Mia Blake finds an old mirror in her house and it makes her turn against her sister. The mirror possesses her and makes her destroy things in the house, sabotaging her sister’s attempt to run a boarding house. It turns out to be haunted by the ghost of a Spanish serving-girl who was ill-treated by a previous owner of the house; her spirit is set to rest and the possession stops.
  • Spell of the Spinning Wheel (1977): see above.
  • Creepy Crawley (1977): Jean Crawley comes across an old scarab brooch in a shop; it comes with the promise that it can help her defeat her rival. She doesn’t stay around long enough to listen to the associated warning she would have been given: once it gives her her wish it will go on to further its own ends, up to and including a reign of insects! Very soon she is unable to give up the brooch or gainsay it in any way; the defeat of the evil object has to be done by a friend of Jean’s, and by the rival herself, who has to be persuaded into forgiveness to break the spell.
  • Come Into My Parlour (1978): Jody Sinclair is made to wear a cat’s-paw necklace by an evil witch, who uses it to get revenge on the descendents of a judge who hanged her wicked ancestor. At first she is made to do things against her will as if she were a puppet, but her inconvenient conscience is eventually eliminated by changing her personality entirely. In the end she is only freed when the house that the witch has been living in is burned down, with the witch inside.
  • Paula’s Puppets (1978): Paula finds some mysterious wax puppets and finds they act like voodoo dolls, and she can make things happen to whoever she makes the puppets resemble. At first the bitter Paula uses them to exact revenge, but eventually she realises she can use them to help her father. (Here, protagonist Paula is the active force behind the influencing object, which differs from usual in this story theme.)
  • The Venetian Looking Glass (1980): the protagonist finds a hand mirror which starts to control her life and wreak its revenge, ultimately being revealed as due to an angry ghost. As with other stories above, the spirit can only be laid to rest with the help of a wider group of people than just the enthralled protagonist, and forgiveness plays an important part too.
  • A number of Gypsy Rose stories also include this story theme, with a more diverse set of evil or haunted objects such as a handkerchief and a tambourine.

Edge cases

Of course, there are always fuzzy edges around definitions, with examples that don’t match the story theme quite as obviously. Looking at these less clear-cut cases can help to challenge our definitions.

  • The Haunting of Form 2B” (1974) has a whole class being haunted by a ghostly teacher. The schoolgirls are taken over mentally by objects given to them by the ghost, but it’s quite a number of varied objects that are influencing them rather than a specific one or two.
  • In “The Haunting of Hazel” (1975) the protagonist is strongly influenced by a ghostly ancestor, but it feels more like a standard ghost story than a case of possession.
  • In “The Mystery of Martine” (1976-77), the source of the possession is not very clearly delineated: is it the bangles that Martine clanks together, or is it the script written by the playwright, or is it all perhaps in Martine’s mind?
  • Sometimes the object is not that clearly evil, or has an influence without appearing almost anthropomorphic. Tamsin Tregorren finds a silver comb that belonged to her mother in “Combing Her Golden Hair” (1979) and the comb shows her visions and leads her to frolic in the water like a dolphin despite never having learned to swim. Eventually she is brought to the sea where she meets her mother, who is a mermaid, and who wants her to come and live in the sea too. The comb serves the agenda of the mother, who is not evil (and though she is portrayed as selfishly not caring whether or not Tamsin would be able to survive in the same environment, this is never actually proven one way or another).
  • In “Child of the Rain” (1980), Gemma West is strongly affected by the rain after a trip to the Amazon rainforest; it is found that some bark from a tree was left in her leg after an accident in the forest, and it is that that is affecting her, rather than any evil object or tennis-mad spirit .
  • In “Who’s That In My Mirror” (1977), the special mirror in question does not remove Magda’s free will, though it does seem to tempt her to worse and more selfish actions than she would have done alone. It’s also not entirely clear at the end whether perhaps the mirror might be intended as an ultimately moral force, to make her repent of her selfish deeds?

Related but different

Further away again from my core definition sit some related themes:

  • Hypnotism and brainwashing are the keys to “The Slave of Form 3B“, “Prisoner of the Bell”,  “Children of Edenford“, and “Jackie’s Two Lives”: the active agents are people, working in ways that aren’t actually strictly realistic but can’t be classed as supernatural.
  • Wish fulfillment: “Dance Into Darkness” has the protagonist forced to dance whenever music plays, with her free will eroded by the curse she takes on. It could be classed along the same double-edged gift that tempts Jean Crawley, but it feels more like irony than evil. And of course a wish fulfillment story can also be purely mundane, such as in “Food for Fagin” and “Freda’s Fortune”.
  • Not to be confused with: a magical companion, who persuades or helps rather than forcing or tempting. Stories with such a companion include “Guardian of White Horse Hill”, “Her Guardian Angel”, “Daughter of Dreams”. The companion may leave the protagonist in a sticky situation but she is not compelled or possessed.

Other thoughts

It’s an old-fashioned sort of story theme, in many ways. The magical objects in question are typically very gendered – mirrors, necklaces, a brooch, a spinning wheel. It feels like a trope from old stories or fairy tales, continued on in girls’ comics as a morality tale. The girl who is affected by the evil object often picks it up initially for the wrong reasons, or is in places she’s not supposed to be: the object promises revenge or oneupmanship, and the seeds of the main character’s undoing are sown because they are heading in the morally wrong direction from the start.