Shirley Bellwood, who died in January 2016 aged 84, is probably particularly familiar to most readers of this blog as the key Misty artist, creator of the beautiful cover and interior images of the mysterious dweller in the Cavern of Dreams. However, as this very informative piece on Down the Tubes explains, she had a long artistic career from well before Misty was published, starting in the 1950s.
In the pages of Jinty, she was most usually seen as the illustrator of text stories in Specials and Annuals. There were one or two comics stories drawn by her but these were reprinted from earlier titles.
Herbs of Life (Uncle Pete spooky story; artist Shirley Bellwood) – originally printed in June & School Friend, 4 July 1970 (source here)
Jill In the Dark (artist Carlos Freixas)
Spiky and Otis – gag strip
A Chip On Her Shoulder (Uncle Pete spooky story)
Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
A Call for Help (text story)
Star Performance (text story, illustrated by Terry Aspin)
Heroes of the Wreck (prose non-fiction)
The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
The Pooh Stick Game (text story, written by Lindy Gale)
The Nodding Mandarin (Uncle Pete spooky story)
Curse of the Cat Goddess!
The Bells of Karlok (Uncle Pete spooky story, illustrated by John Armstrong)
The Truth… and Mandy Martin
Nurse, please help me! (text story)
Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
A Christmas Dream (text story, illustrated by Trini Tinturé)
This doesn’t strike me as the strongest annual I’ve ever read, though some of that feeling may be down to the lack of many of the usual strong Jinty artists. There are a good number of strange stories, which I always like, and some solid text stories, but nothing very outstanding in any of it.
The first story, about a mystical plant that will bring happiness to the finder, has a desperate girl who wants to find it so as to make her mother well, and a rival bitchy girl who only wants to enrich herself. Of course the good end happily and the bad unhappily – but I do wonder what illness the girl’s mother could have that ‘only an expensive operation could cure’ that she wouldn’t be able to get on the NHS? It sounds rather like plot taken from the heyday of girls school stories rather than a 1970s story.
Other readers may well be more interested than me to read “Jill In The Dark”, illustrated by Carlos Freixas who I know has many fans. I like his work in other stories, and it is very nicely done, but there is a preponderance of melodrama both in the plot (girl runner finds herself going blind at unpredictable points, has to struggle in the absence of friends and family) and in the art (lots of shots of the eponymous Jill staring in panic as she struck by sudden blindness).
There are at least a couple of good solid Jinty standbys in the shape of “Dora Dogsbody” and “The Jinx from St Jonah’s”. Dora sees household hijinks as Mrs and Mr Siddons dress up for a fancy dress ball as Dick Whittington and a cat respectively – including Mr Siddons being ordered by his missus to get onto the floor and miaouw at the cheeky mouse who has frightened her! In the end Dora gets to go to the ball and Mrs and Mr stay at home, nursing nasty colds. And in Katy Jinks’s story, of course she is the one causing the upsets and shenanigans, if inadvertently as ever. There are lots of trips and spills, and much outrage is caused, only to end happily for all. They are both nicely-judged stories with a light touch and a feel-good factor.
As ever there are also various quizzes and articles about possible careers for the reader when she grows up, and things to make and do. I include a scan of one of the quizzes below because it is illustrated by an artist I am particularly fond of, who I would like to know more about. Does anyone know the name of this artist at all?