Publication: 6 December 1980 – 3 January 1981
Artist: Peter Wilkes
Christmas is in the air, and people observe a shooting star streaking across the sky. It’s supposed to be lucky – but perhaps not so much in this case. The shooting star is really an angel, Gabbi (acronym for their motto “Guardian Angels Better Body Insurance”), sent out on practical experience. Gabbi has been put in charge of “Reckless” Roz Rogers, a girl who gets herself into lots of scrapes because she has a very irresponsible sense of danger. She laughs them off – but ironically, she does learn about danger with all the scrapes her supposed guardian angel gets her into.
But on with how Gabbi and Roz meet. Gabbi takes the form of a Christmas angel that Roz buys for the Christmas tree. She hopes it will soften her parents, who have been angry since her since she rode her Mum’s bike into the duck pond. No such luck – Roz leaves her roller skate on the front door, which causes Dad to have an accident. So they ban her from a Christmas party, but Roz sneaks out down the drainpipe – “Reckless Roz laughs at danger!” But even Reckless Roz has to stop laughing when her hands slip and she starts falling. And then she is surprised to find herself in the arms of Gabbi, the Christmas tree angel come to life! Gabbi then tells Roz what her mission is, and she is now Roz’s guardian angel – but only Roz can see and hear her.
Unfortunately Gabbi is way too overprotective, takes her work far too seriously, and goes to absurd lengths to protect Roz from danger or what she imagines to be danger. And in so doing, gets Roz into tons of trouble. These include fusing the disco equipment because Gabbi considers the noise and lights unhealthy and dangerous for Roz – as a result, Roz gets chased by an angry mob, and Gabbi has to rescue her. Gabbi refuses to let Roz ride bicycles, use skateboards, or watch television (which she fuses) because she says television is bad for Roz’s eyesight. Gabbi disapproves of Roz’s presents (pogo stick, rollerskates, monster mask, radio, chocolates) because she considers them dangerous or unhealthy. On Twelfth Night Gabbi pulls the ladder out from under Roz, who is taking down the Christmas decorations because she thinks the ladder is dangerous – and of course it causes Roz to fall down. Defeating your own purpose, aren’t you, Gabbi? And those are just some of the things.
But sometimes Gabbi does things right (maybe despite herself). We do have to cheer Gabbi when she throws Roz’s school dinner off the table: “We’re not having your delicate digestion assaulted by that-that muck!” And we cheer Gabbi even more when she puts the dustbin over the head of an ‘acid-tongued’ teacher who is nagging Roz: “Don’t shout at my Roz!”
And Gabbi just about needs a guardian angel herself by the time her practical experience is over. She has become so battered and her gown so torn by all the scrapes she has landed herself into with her experience with Roz that she is ashamed of the state she is in when the time comes for her to go back “Up There”. Upon hearing Gabbi is leaving, Roz finds herself not wanting Gabbi to go because she has gotten used to her. But it is Gabbi’s time to go (and it is the end of Christmas, so this Christmas story must end). Roz patches up Gabbi’s gown as best she can. Soon Mum is surprised to see the Christmas tree angel (actually, Gabbi’s celestial transporter) vanish from the tree, people are surprised to see a shooting star going upwards, and Gabbi gives Roz a halo to remember her by.
In her later years, Jinty tended to run short filler stories around the Christmas period – or, in the case of 1981, in her last seven issues before the merger. These were evidently used to fill in the gaps while Jinty sorted out her New Year line up, and it is not surprising that a number of such stories had Christmas themes. Of these, “Her Guardian Angel” is the last.
It is quite surprising to use an angel as a comical magical companion, as angels tend to be regarded more as holy beings than comical ones. And there are religious implications which could be uncomfortable. This is probably why angels were not seen as much as fairies, leprechauns or other magical creatures in girls’ comics. The only other angel-themed serial I know of appeared in Mandy. But then, it is Christmas, so the angel theme does blend in.
Gabbi comes from the long tradition of magical companions to heroines. They mean well, but they often end up causing unintentional trouble. This can be because things backfire, or they get mischievous, or they don’t understand the ways of humans very well. Other times they do things right and it all smiles for them and their human friend. However it goes, the heroine always loves her magical companion. And for us readers, it always means loads of laughs.
In this story, the laughs come from Gabbi’s over-protectiveness, and to a lesser extent, Roz’s recklessness, and the scrapes they both end up in. Gabbi has a more human side, such as when she gets constantly worn out by all her efforts to look after Roz, or takes a moment of gluttony to indulge in Christmas dinner.
And there is one further thing that I really like about this story. We have had loads of stories about over-protective or obsessive parents and the ridiculous lengths they go to protect their children from danger. But an over-protective angel? That’s different!