Tag Archives: Her Ugly Duckling

José Casanovas

Catalan artist José Casanovas (1934 – 2009) was well-known and well-loved by lots of readers, appearing as he did in many British comics over a number of decades. His detailed, stylish, and above all fun art was distinctive and he was credited in various publications, so it is easy to pull together quite a long list of his work (though no doubt still incomplete). Many British readers think of him as a 2000AD artist – that is how I first came across his name myself – and therefore perhaps as an SF artist primarily. If you count up the stories he drew and the titles he appeared in, though, by far the majority of his work seems to be for the girls’ comics market.

The list below has been pulled together with much reference to the Catawiki database in order to fill out the non-Jinty stories, so many thanks to the contributors to that site. (I have included the numbers of episodes listed for each story as per Catawiki, to emphasize how prolific he was. I am fairly sure the records on that site are not complete but it gives a good impression of his work. Of course, please do send in further information if you have it!)

  • Tammy
    • Cinderella Spiteful (1971-72) – 20 episodes
    • Two-Faced Teesha (1973-74) – 10 episodes
    • Ella on Easy Street (1974) – 8 episodes
    • The Town Without Telly (1974) – 12 episodes
    • Wars of the Roses (1975-76) – 11 episodes
    • Babe at St Woods (1976-77) – 39 episodes (you can see some sample pages here)
    • Down To Earth Blairs (1977-78) – 25 episodes
    • Running Rosie Lee (1980) – 10 episodes
    • Tomorrow Town (1982) – 10 episodes
  • Sandie
    • The Nine Lives of Nat the Cat (1972-73) – 38 episodes
  • Princess Tina & Penelope
    • Have-A-Go Jo (1970) – 25 episodes
  • Jinty
  • Lindy
    • Sophie’s Secret Squeezy (1975) – 7 episodes
  • Penny
    • Pickle, Where Are You? (1979) – 10 episodes

Mistyfan has recently done a post about “Sue’s Daily Dozen” in which she made the point that Casanovas is known for science fiction. There is one science fiction story done by him in a girls’ comic, namely Tammy‘s “Tomorrow Town”, which I take the opportunity to reprint here as being a piece of art that would otherwise not be likely to get a showing on this Jinty-specific blog.

Tomorrow Town pg 1

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Following Casanovas’ death in 2009, Steve Holland wrote an obituary Bear Alley post here, drawing also on the Spanish-language blog Tebeosfera’s post here. (Do follow this last link to see some lovely artwork from an adaptation of Pollyanna done for the local market.) There was also an interesting comment on 2000AD fan blog the Prog Slog about Casanovas’ work in the boys’ science fiction comics market. He drew well-liked characters Max Normal (some Max Normal art by Casanovas can be seen here) and Sam Slade Robo-Hunter (after Ian Gibson had stopped drawing this latter character). He also drew a number of one-off stories in 2000AD, and a story in Starlord, and people characterise him as a 2000AD artist therefore. The Prog Slog comment here clarifies that: “Casanovas early work for 2000AD, Starlord etc. was sporadic. First appearance was a ‘Future Shock’ in Prog 70 (24 June 1978) a 1.5 pager called ‘Many Hands’. “Good morning Sheldon, I love you” was his next, a six page future shock style one-off written by John Wagner in Starlord 11 (22 July 1978). He drew another one-off Wagner [story] in Starlord 16. There’s a gap then until Progs 148 & 149 (January 1980) where he does a 2-part Ro-Jaws Robo-Tale. He then draws the 11 page Mugger’s Mile by Alan Grant, the first ever Max Normal strip (“The Pinstripe Freak (He’s Dredd’s informer)”) in the first Judge Dredd annual (1981). He goes on to draw more Future Shocks in Prog 220, 241 and 245, another Max Normal in the 1982 JD annual, and again in JD 1983 annual. In the 1982 Sci-Fi Special he draws his first Dredd proper, a 10 pager by Wagner – The Tower of Babel. His first Dredd in the weekly is the excellent “Game Show Show” 2 parter in 278/279, August 1982, Wagner again. He did the second ever ‘Time Twister’ in Prog 295, a 4 pager called Ultimate Video. And that’s as far as my data goes for now, by Prog 300 he’d done 77.5 pages: 32.5 in the weeklies, 10 in specials, 23 in annuals and 12 in Starlord. According to ‘Barney’ online (http://www.2000ad.org) his last work was in Prog 822 (Feb 1993), Robo-Hunter”. The tally of his pages for 2000AD and the like must therefore surely be far outnumbered by the 90+ episodes of his run on Dora Dogsbody in Jinty alone!

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Jinty Annual 1976

Jinty Annual 1976

In this annual:

  • Cove of Secrets (same unknown artist as “Concrete Surfer”)
  • Make a Shoulder Bag (crafts)
  • My Giddy Aunt! (text story)
  • The Changing Picture (possibly a reprint of a Strange Story?)
  • The Little Helper (poem)
  • The Courage of a Coward (Carlos Freixas)
  • The Haunted Horse (text story)
  • Just Joking!
  • Who’ll Buy? Who’ll Buy? (article)
  • Dora Dogsbody (Jim Baikie)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot
  • Jinty Made It Herself… so can you! (crafts)
  • Holidays At Home (feature)
  • Minna From Mars
  • Her Ugly Duckling (José Casanovas)
  • The China Shepherdess (text story credited to Linda O’Byrne)
  • Fallow’s End
  • The Time of Your Life? (feature)
  • Minna From Mars
  • Dot’s Do-It-Yourself Dafties
  • Desert Island Daisy (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Good News For The Birthday Girl! (horoscope)
  • Captured By Pirates! (text, non-fiction)
  • Oddities of Nature (article)
  • Gypsy Festival (photos, non-fiction)
  • The Great Picture Puzzle! (text story, illustrated by Terry Aspin)
  • Desert Island Daisy (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Fun With Fruit! (recipes, sponsored by McDougalls’s Pastry)
  • Bike Hike Through Britain (board game)
  • Care Of Your Cat (article)
  • Katie Makes a Splash (artist Audrey Fawley)
  • Lesson From The Past (text story)
  • The Little Demon! (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot
  • What’s It All About? (personality quiz)
  • Minna From Mars
  • Eggs-travaganza! (article)
  • The Black Pearl (possibly a reprint of a Strange Story?)
  • By Bike To India (text, non-fiction)
  • Whiz-Kid or Stick In The Mud? (personality quiz)

This is a good solid read even now! There are lots of articles and non-fiction items that are still interesting today (for instance Gypsy Festival, about a Romany gathering in Provence), solid text stories, and spooky comics (two short ones that look like they could be Strange Stories reprints, with the Storyteller panels replaced with descriptive text instead, and one longer one with malevolent ghosts and an annoying girl – “Fallow’s End”, very nicely drawn). If you like the short humour strips, the selection is quite good: three “Minna From Mars” reprints, two “Desert Island Daisy” stories that I expect are specific to this annual, and some two page Do-It-Yourself-Dot strips (in the weekly comic she normally only got one page).

Fallow's End
(Fallow’s End – click thru)

In the “Angela’s Angels” post, Mistyfan mentions the story included in this annual: “The Little Demon!”. The story only features two of the group, Sharon and Jo, who travel (with the little tearaway who is nicknamed a little demon, and his mum) to a remote Scottish island. We now know that Phil Townsend worked with original “Angela’s Angels” artist, Leo Davy, on another nursing strip, so it makes sense that he might have taken up the reins in this case too. I’m interested to see some other outings of artists who are not normally associated with the long-running characters they draw here: Jim Baikie making a good fist of doing “Dora Dogsbody” – Ma Siddons looks as mean as ever, though Dora ends up looking more sweet than cheeky – and Audrey Fawley drawing Katie Jinks.

Dora Dogsbody as drawn by Jim Baikie
(click thru)

“Her Ugly Duckling” is a different artistic twist – it is a Casanovas strip, but one which I think might be reprinted from an earlier time (the characters are wearing very 60s styles). He has gone for a dreamy, romantic art style and the story is likewise one with a hint at the end that a boyfriend may be in the offing, though the main theme is about rivalries and a ladette-to-lady story.

Her Ugly Duckling, José Casanovas art
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A personality quiz was a popular item in all sorts of the publications a young girl might read – here you can see if you are a Whiz Kid or a Stick In The Mud, or find out your secret self. These are light-hearted silly items with some undertone of a moral imperative – if your secret self is a mixed-up jumble of all the other types, you are not praised for your moderation but exhorted to choose one type and suppress the less pleasant sides of your personality deliberately.