Tag Archives: Hettie High-and-Mighty

Story theme: Redemption narratives

I recently wrote summary posts about two stories that I called ‘redemption narratives’: “The Girl Who Never Was” and “She Shall Have Music“. That’s a kind of story theme that we can all recognize as being fairly common in girls comics generally: in Jinty there are a number of other examples.  But how does this sort of story work?

Take those two stories as an initial guide: the protagonist is a difficult or disagreeable, probably dislikeable, girl who has some personal failing or issue that drives the story. It’s because of that failing that the story progresses; it may not have been due to something that was her fault that the story started off in the first place, but it is because of her moral or social problem that it continues and develops the way it does. Tina Williams lands in the alternate universe where magic works because of her conceited and annoying ways; Lisa Carstairs’s father doesn’t lose his money because of her, but if she wasn’t so obsessed with continuing her piano playing exactly as before, then she wouldn’t find herself in the same difficulties. It’s not just what happens to the protagonist (or how she is challenged in the story) but how she reacts to it. She has to be ‘the architect of her own misfortunes’, as Mistyfan puts it in her post about another redemption story, “Black Sheep of the Bartons“.

Does the story have to feature some sort of disagreeableness, some sort of outright nastiness or callousness on the part of the protagonist? No: I’d say that you could certainly include ‘guilt’ stories such as “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” and “I’ll Make Up For Mary”. The protagonist here  suffers huge pangs of guilt and despair because of the loss of a loved one – a best friend or a sister in the case of these two stories, but in other cases it can be a parent – a very natural feeling, but the failing here is that she lets those emotions overwhelm her and distort her common sense. The guilty feelings of the protagonist drive the story forward, but this guilt is portrayed throughout as excessive, as an indulgence that the main character should resist. It’s the lengths that their grief drives them to that causes their difficulties in their separate stories.

Also, it’s not just about having an objectionable main character who is nicer by the end of the story. “Curtain of Silence” and “Land of No Tears” are not what I would call redemption narratives, despite having protagonists who start off pretty disagreeable and end up much improved. (Likewise “Battle of the Wills” is not, nor I think “Pandora’s Box”, but sports story “Black Sheep of the Bartons” is one I would class as such: Bev Barton isn’t horrible so much as thoughtless and reckless, but her carelessness nearly brings tragedy to her family.) Why don’t “Curtain of Silence” and “Land of No Tears” count? Because when the girl main characters are swept into their initial circumstances – enslaved by a dictatorial coach, forced into third-class citizenship in a future world – their thoughts are not primarily about how they can continue to maintain their status quo ante but about how they can defeat their antagonist. Yvonne and Cassy aren’t just trying to get back to where they were at the beginning: their story is about a positive rebellion, not a futile rejection of the truth that the outside world is telling them. They end up much nicer than they started out being, but that’s not the whole reason for having the story in the first place – it’s because they have faced extraordinary circumstances which would change anyone by making them realise that some things are bigger than individual concerns.

Does the character who ends up being redeemed have to be the protagonist, or could they be the antagonist or villain? Overall I would say it has to be the protagonist, as the main character that you are supposed to sympathise with and want things to turn out well for, but maybe one counter-example is “Wanda Whiter Than White“. Wanda is not the main character of the story and she makes Susie Foster’s life a misery with her sanctimonious ways. At the end, it is revealed, as Mistyfan explains in her story post, that ‘Wanda’s own past is not as white as she would have us believe. In fact, she is on probation after being caught stealing.’ Rather than this reveal being painted as purely a victory for the main character, it ends up with Wanda being ‘truly redeemed when she tells a white lie to help Susie in return for Susie saving her life’. The reader wasn’t rooting for Wanda’s redemption all along, but it is a satisfying ending nevertheless.

What choices could the writer make that would move the story out of the category of being a redemption narrative? Let’s take Lisa Carstairs’ story as an example. As with the OuBaPo exercises, thinking about how a story could work differently will give us a view on how the stories actually do work.

  • Imagine Lisa’s parents still losing everything at the beginning of the story, and Lisa still losing her piano. The story could then have taken a different turn: rather than being about Lisa’s misguided piano obsession and selfishness, it could have been another kind of story entirely, for instance a mystery story where Lisa finds out that her father’s business partner was a crook who needs to be brought to justice. Perhaps Lisa’s piano playing could help her to find the clues she needs, and her obsession with it could be turned to a good cause in that way, so that she needs no redemption.
  • Or let’s say the story stays as being about Lisa’s obsession with playing piano but it’s portrayed as something not to be frowned on, rather as something acceptable or allowable. How would a story work where she can continue to be focused on playing piano to the exclusion of everything else, including her family? Perhaps her family would have to be a nasty, uncaring one, to make her disinterest acceptable.
  • Or perhaps the story could proceed more or less as it does, but with an unhappy ending where Lisa gets her comeuppance. This would make her into a more of an anti-heroine than normal but would not be unheard of.

Here are the examples I would identify as fitting most neatly into the category of ‘redemption narrative’ (core examples) and as being closely related to this category without necessarily definitely being classed as such (edge cases).

Core examples

  • “Dance Into Darkness” – Della just wants to live her life down at the disco with no regard for other people, but when her wish is granted she eventually discovers there is indeed more to life than her own self-interest.
  • There are a number of stories that are driven by a bereavement: the main character makes poor decisions as a result of her strong emotions of grief and anger because she is afraid of being hurt again. “The Ghost Dancer” is one of these, as is “Nothing to Sing About”, but of course “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” and “I’ll Make Up For Mary” are the strongest examples.
  • “The Girl Who Never Was” – discussed above
  • “She Shall Have Music” – discussed above
  • I said above that I thought that it needs to be the protagonist who is redeemed, not one of the other characters. In “Go On, Hate Me!” the antagonist is driven by grief into bullying the protagonist but in the end all is cleared and the antagonist is redeemed, so I would be tempted to class this alongside “Wanda Whiter Than White” as a clear example of this kind.
  • Jackie’s Two Lives” is more about the perils of wish-fulfilment, but Jackie’s snobbishness and the fact she is ashamed of her own family is definitely a character flaw that drives the story and she is cured of it at the end.
  • “Left-Out Linda” develops the redemption pretty well by recognizing that you can’t usually turn around your life by yourself: you have to have some help.
  • “Paula’s Puppets”: Paula has to learn to forgive her enemies rather than attacking them via the magical help she has been given.
  • “Tearaway Trisha”: Trisha’s recklessness has caused a serious accident; she tries to make amends but has to change her own character in order to do so.
  • “Valley of Shining Mist” has a clearly didactic message about the improving aspect of high culture: by playing the violin, Debbie will transcend the impact of her abusive family, who are low-class in their lack of culture and their morality.
  • In “Who’s That In My Mirror?” the protagonist’s selfish nature is made very literally visible and becomes more and more so until finally she is driven to renouncing it.
  • Worlds Apart” is the ultimate morality tale – one by one, six girls are shown the worst outcomes possible for each of their specific character flaws, and they have a chance to repent. The psychological development is minimal but the impact of the story was very dramatic.

Edge cases

  • “Fancy Free “- I know the main character is so independent that this may well be characterised as a fault, but I don’t really quite remember enough about the story to say whether it is the main thing that drives the whole plot.
  • The Four Footed Friends” – arguably another case where someone other than the protagonist ends up being redeemed, though it all feels a little sudden. “Hettie High-and-Mighty” likewise features a fairly sudden change of heart on the part of an antagonist who has mostly been about making  the protagonist’s life a misery until that point. I don’t think “The Kat And Mouse Game” quite counts, either: Kat may perhaps have realised the error of her ways at the end of the story, but will her change of heart actually stick?
  • I haven’t really made my mind up about “Gwen’s Stolen Glory” – it feels like it is mostly a story about deception, though clearly once Gwen owns up to the big lie this is a kind of redemption of her former deception.
  • In “Kerry In The Clouds”, Kerry is a day-dreamer imposed upon by a woman motivated by her own unfriendly concerns. Kerry’s day-dreaming nature is cured by the end of the story, but I don’t feel the main driver of the narrative was to improve her character.
  • The main character in “Mark of the Witch!” is hot-tempered and angry at all around her, and she comes to seek a more peaceful set of emotions by the end of the story. However, so much of her story is about the persecution and abuse that her neighbours visit on her that I don’t see her story being primarily about her renouncing her hot-headed ways.
  • I’m not sure about “Pandora’s Box” and whether it counts or not. Pandora’s witchy aunt does chide her at the beginning about being too cock-sure about her talents and says that she will need to use magic sooner or later, and this is all true: but I’m not sure what sort of morality story that adds up to – not a conventional one at any rate! The main nod in this story to more conventional morality is the fact that Pandora goes from disinterest in the pet she is stuck with (her black cat familiar, Scruffy) to loving him dearly and giving up her heart’s desire in order to save his life.

One last question struck me when thinking about this. What sort of things might the protagonist have done that means she needs to go through this process of redemption in the first place? Clearly it must be something negative: the story has a moral imperative of some sort, warning readers against some kinds of behaviour. But at the same time, some things would be beyond the pale of course, and would mean that any character doing that would be irredeemable. (There might therefore be some useful comparisons made with story villains: what does their villainy consist of?) If a character killed or seriously hurt someone on purpose then that would be beyond the pale: there are a number of villains who have gone this far, sometimes with a laugh on their cruel lips, but it would be hard to imagine that a girl protagonist could do this and still recover the moral high ground at the end of the story.

In the stories above it looks like the sort of wrong-doing that needs castigating but is still redeemable is often about emotional warmth and consideration for others – it’s not about ambition (by itself) or cleverness (by itself) for instance. An arrogant protagonist can still be the heroine, but if she is cold, selfish, or inconsiderate then that’s a good signal that this is a character marked down for improvement – by whatever means necessary. Preferably it will be a Shakespearean denouement, whereby her own moral failing brings about such a huge disaster that she has no option but to change her ways! And being too afraid to risk emotional commitment comes in for a bit of a kicking too, via the guilt / grief stories. The obvious next question: is this moral imperative specific to British girls comics? Do UK boys comics have redemption narratives too? Or those in other countries? My pal Lee Brimmicombe-Wood reckons that Japan’s flourishing manga industry has many stories about mavericks who insist on going their own ways – but in that industry’s story constraints, the mavericks are always right and never forced to realise that actually, there was a reason why everyone was telling them they were going about things the wrong way…

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Jinty & Lindy 6 December 1975

Jinty & Lindy 6 December 1975

Stories in this issue:

  • Slaves of the Candle (artist Roy Newby)
  • The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Win a Super Watch (competition)
  • Finleg the Fox (artist Barrie Mitchell)
  • Golden Dolly, Death Dust! (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Ping-Pong Paula (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Too Old to Cry! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Hettie High and Mighty (unknown artist – Merry; idea by Terence Magee)
  • The Haunting of Hazel (artist Santiago Hernandez)
  • Song of the Fir Tree (artist Phil Townsend)

 

Katie the Jinx had a break last week, but as the cover shows, she’s back now. This week she’s trying to sweep down a cobweb that’s in a difficult position to reach. She succeeds in the end, but leaves the place in a worse state than when she first started cleaning it. Typical Katie!

It’s not every day in girls’ comics we see an unsavoury girl being straightened out with a good spanking on the bottie. Yet that is the case here in “Hetty High-and-Mighty” here, and you’ve got to love it. Next, Hettie has got to help the school win the match or she will hear it from her stepmother again. Trouble is, can Hettie pull it off after a dog bite makes her go lame?

Lyndy and Lucy have broken out of the House of Candles, but things aren’t going smoothly. Mrs Tallow sets the Peelers on them, claiming they are thieves, and Lucy’s been injured! Moreover, Mrs Tallow is off on another robbery with her accomplice in the mystery coach. Fortunately Lyndy gets on the trail, but can she stop the robbery?

Una gets help for the sick Finleg. She soon realises he’s been poisoned by despicable Dora and swears vengeance. However, Una’s attitude changes when she realises Dora’s unknowingly put herself in danger when she finds the stolen money.

In “Golden Dolly, Death Dust!”, Miss Marvell’s bid to split up the girls has failed, but leaves Lucy’s mother a nervous wreck and she has to take a break in Cornwall. Mum’s lucky – soon everyone’s a nervous wreck when they see the latest damage the death dust has caused.

Mum’s pride gets worse for Ping-Pong Paula. They have to find new accommodation but silly old Mum would rather sleep in a field or – as it turns out – the night refuge shelter, than swallow her pride and go back to Dad. Even relatives are fed up with Mum’s stupidity. But worse is to follow – Paula gets news that Dad’s garage is failing!

Nell finds she’s being virtually blackmailed into staying at the academy and being turned into a refined young lady. She doesn’t make a good start either – she gets herself dreadfully dirty by cleaning filthy pots, not realising that they had only been put out to be disposed of and were not meant for cleaning. What an embarrassing start, but then things look up when she finds a friend.

More weird things happen on Black Crag, but Hazel is convinced explosives, not the curse of the mountain, are responsible. Whatever the cause, it’s not making things easy for her mountaineering group.

In “Song of the Fir Tree”, Dad’s a bit caught up with getting help for the injured Strang and getting information from him about his children to look for them at the moment. Meanwhile the children take refuge in a railway station, but Grendelsen isn’t far away, and now thieves are attacking the goods trains.

 

 

 

Story length through Jinty’s life

I have created a new page listing the stories in Jinty by publication date. This seemed like an interesting and useful addition to the list of stories in alphabetical order that has been in place on the blog since we started. As part of the information on that new page it seemed sensible to count the number of episodes for each story, too (where possible) – luckily for me, the Catawiki data that I was using to compile this information gave me the ability to include that for almost all stories. As I put together the list, I got the impression that in the last year of Jinty‘s publication, the story length was getting shorter and shorter: so I pulled together some stats on it.

For each year below, there are some stories I excluded from the statistics, either because I didn’t have a complete count of all the episodes (for instance where a story had started in Lindy or Penny before their merger with Jinty), or because they were by their nature long-running humour strips with no specific start or end point. I’ll give a list of the excluded stories and their running lengths further down this post.

  • For 1974, the mean story length is just under 16 episodes and the mode (most usual) story length is 13 episodes
  • For 1975, the mean is just under 18 episodes and the mode is 16 episodes
  • For 1976, the mean is just under 15 episodes and the mode is 19 episodes
  • For 1977, the mean is just over 14 episodes and the mode is 11
  • For 1978, the mean is just over 16 episodes and the mode is 18
  • For 1979, the mean is just over 14 episodes and the mode is 12
  • For 1980, the mean is 11.5 episodes and the mode is 12
  • For 1981, the mean is 11 episodes and the mode is 10

We can see that the two averages do go up and down over the run of Jinty. Having said that, the drop-off in episode length in 1980 and 1981 does look like a real change, despite that context of background variation. (I’m not going to do any full-on statistical analysis with standard deviations and so on though!) Both average figures are down in those two years, because there are fewer long stories pushing up the mean as well as a general trend to the slightly shorter length of 10 – 12 episodes.

Which stories did I exclude from the analytics, and why?

  • The humour strips with no specific story arc: “Dora Dogsbody” (94 episodes), “Do-it-Yourself Dot” (62 episodes), “The Jinx From St Jonah’s” (112 episodes), “The Snobs and the Scruffs” (12 episodes), “Desert Island Daisy” (9 episodes), “Bird-Girl Brenda” (27 episodes), “The Hostess with the Mostess” (19 episodes), “Bet Gets The Bird!” (11 episodes), “Alley Cat” (163 episodes), “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” (111 episodes), “Bizzie Bet and the Easies” (27 episodes), “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” (96 episodes).
  • “Merry at Misery House” (66 episodes) is not a humour strip but like those above, it has no specific overall story arc, no obvious beginning or end that is worked towards throughout its run. I have therefore excluded that too. The same goes for “Pam of Pond Hill” which ran to a mighty 126 episodes in Jinty and then on into Tammy of course.
  • The stories that I have incomplete episode information about: “Finleg the Fox”, “Penny Crayon”, “Hettie High-and-Mighty”, “Gypsy Rose” (these stories are not catalogued on Catawiki as a group), “Rinty n Jinty”, “Seulah the Seal”, “Tansy of Jubilee Street”, and “Snoopa”. Various of those would be excluded even if I had complete episode numbers, of course.
    • Edited to add: further information has been given in the comments below. “Finleg” and “Hettie” ran for 7 episodes in Lindy, and “Tansy” ran for 45 episodes in Penny. “Seulah” ran for 11 episodes in Penny, and then started a new story in Jinty & Penny, which I hadn’t really realised. The two Seulah stories were more like separate arcs in a bigger story than self-contained stories in themselves. Many thanks to Marc for this information! I will add them into the spreadsheet and see if it makes any difference to the years in question.
    • “Snoopa” ran for 45 episodes in Penny, which Mistyfan confirms below (many thanks). As a gag strip, this would not be included in the year-on-year statistics in any case.

Longest run of an individual story? “Alley Cat” has all the others beat, at 163 episodes; runners-up are “Pam of Pond Hill” at 126 episodes, and then “The Jinx From St Jonah’s” and “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” neck and neck at 112 and 111 episodes respectively. However, if you exclude these and look at the length of the ‘normal’ stories, then the top three are “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (36 episodes), “Fran of the Floods” (35 episodes), and “Always Together…” (29 episodes). (Phil Townsend does particularly well for long-running stories, as “Daddy’s Darling” clocks in at 24 episodes and “Song of the Fir Tree” at 22 episodes.)

At the other end of things are some short stories. There are only two single-episode stories: “Holly and the Ivy” and “Mimi Seeks a Mistress”. “Freda’s Fortune” is the only two episode story. “Mimi” was a reprinted story, printed towards the end of 1980; possibly “Holly” and “Freda” were intended for publication in annuals or summer specials and then used as filler.

There are a few 3 or 4 episode stories: “The Birds”, “The Changeling”, “Casey, Come Back!”, and “The Tale of the Panto Cat”. This is also an odd length for a story – long enough to allow for a bit of development, but short enough to feel a bit abruptly cut off when you get to the end. Of these four, I’d say that “The Birds” is the one I find uses its length most successfully, though “Panto” works pretty well as a seasonal short. The slightly-longer “Her Guardian Angel” (5 episodes) likewise uses its length reasonably well to give us a seasonal amusement.  Some other shorter stories, such as “Badgered Belinda” (7 episodes), do read like they have probably been cut down from an originally-intended standard length of 10 – 12 episodes.

The spreadsheet with this information is available on request – please comment and I will be happy to email it to you if you want.

Lindy #20 – final issue – 1 November 1975

Lindy cover

  • Hettie High and Mighty (unknown artist – Merry) – continues in Jinty & Lindy
  • “Nightmare Motel” – final episode
  • The Pointing Finger – final episode (artist Jesus Redondo)
  • Bay City Rollers centrefold
  • My Father Friend or Foe? – final episode
  • Finleg the Fox (artist Barrie Mitchell) – continues in Jinty & Lindy
  • Poor Law Polly – final episode (artist Roy Newby)
  • Spot the Difference! Competition results
  • Are You a Lark or a Night Owl? Quiz
  • Great News Next Week…Jinty and Lindy
  • David Essex pin-up

It’s my 150th post on this blog, and I commemorate with a rare find that I just acquired today – the final issue of Lindy. So in the interests of Jinty history I present it here to show how Lindy went out before she merged with Jinty the following week, and how she announced the merger.

“Hettie High and Mighty” and “Finleg the Fox” are the stories that carry on in the merger. In this issue, Hettie has now moved in with Janie and totally convinced her father that she has reformed and lost her snobby ways. But Janie knows different, so she’s bracing herself for more trouble in the merger next week. Meanwhile, Una finds fishy goings on with her nasty guardian Mr Dray meeting someone in the dead of night who then clobbers him on the head! Ironically, it’s Finleg who helps him by seeing the attacker off. Then the attacker is found shot the next day and there is a list of names on him. But it’s Sir Arthur who has found the list, and he looks the shifty type, so this does not look good. Penny Crayon, Lindy’s resident humour strip, carries on in the merger.

“‘Nightmare Motel'”, “The Pointing Finger” (which finishes with a six-page spread), “Poor Law Polly” and “My Father Friend or Foe?” are the stories that end with Lindy. “My Father Friend or Foe?” (about a half-German girl victimised by anti-German prejudice during World War II) was clearly a filler story; it had only started in #18. The last three issues see the buildup to the merger – “Hard Days for Hilda” finished in #19 and “Pavement Patsy” finished in #18. Readers were promised a new story to replace Patsy, but there is no trace of a new story between #19 and #20. Perhaps they changed their minds and decided to hold it for the merger instead, or the new story was not available for publishing at the time. Lindy announces competition results and offers some nice pinups of Bay City Rollers and David Essex – farewell present, perhaps?

And this is how Lindy announced the merger with Jinty:

Lindy cover back

Story theme: Sports

Many apologies for the long break in between posts. Life has got hectic and the run-up to Christmas didn’t help!

Jinty and Penny cover 7 February 1981

Stories featuring sports are very prevalent across the range of girls’ comics titles. This clearly taps into both the day-to-day experiences of many or most schoolgirls (playing on their hockey or netball teams) and into aspirational ideals (winning regional or national contests, going on to have a career in their chosen sport, excelling at unusual sports). At one end of this theme, many many stories will have some element of sports included, simply as a part of the protagonist’s daily life; I don’t count these as “sports stories” per se. At the other end of the spectrum, there are stories that are clearly mostly about the pursuit of excellence in the protagonist’s chosen sport, with a sprinkling of some complicating factor to spice the story up, such as peer rivalry. And in between there are stories where the sports element are strongly included but given a reasonably equal weighting with other elements.

To me, therefore, a “sports story” needs to feature the sport in question as the main story element, or with equal weight with the other elements. Often the story positively teaches us various details of that sport in a didactic way, as if part of the expectation is that readers might have their interest sparked by that story and go on to take it up themselves. The protagonist is someone who takes seriously the idea of practice, learning, improvement in their chosen area: they are not just naturally gifted without trying at all, and part of the drive of the story is about their drive to improve or to excel.

It seems obvious, but it also needs to be a sport not an art: as you would expect, there are plenty of ballet stories, and these are excluded from my categorisation. Ballet has its rivalries but it is not a competition with winners and losers, except in artificial ways that the writer might set up (for instance in “The Kat and Mouse Game”, the ‘winner’ gains a contract with an influential ballet impresario).

Finally, it is worth remembering Jinty also had a strong focus on sports in ways that lay outside of the stories themselves: for a period of time there was a specific sports section in the comic, with articles about specific sports, improvement hints and tips (such as how to win at a bully-off in hockey), and interviews with sports women and men. Over and above this, there was a lengthy period where Mario Capaldi drew cover images illustrating a very wide range of sports – netball and rounders, yes, but also archery, bob-sledding, ski-jumping… These are not sports stories, but form part of the context in which the sports-themed stories need to be read.

Core examples

There are so many strong sports stories that it is hard to choose a single one as a core example. A wide range of sports are represented: ones that a schoolgirl might well have direct experience of such as hockey, gymnastics, running; and more unusual ones like judo, water-skiing, and figure skating.

“White Water” (1979-80), drawn by Jim Baikie and included in the sports section that Jinty ran for a year or so from late 1979, is a classic example of a story that includes teachable elements as well as dramatic ones. Bridie is in a sailing accident with her father, who is killed: her grieving mother moves them away from the sea and into an industrial city that depresses Bridie mightily. As well as grieving for her father, she also has a gammy leg that was badly hurt in the accident, so Bridie is pretty fed up; but she then finds out about a local canoe club. She is determined to learn canoeing, especially once she is told about sea or white-water canoeing. Along the way there are rivalries and misunderstandings – her mother hates the idea of Bridie doing anything at all like sailing, and the existing star of the canoe club doesn’t like the challenge represented by this bright (and sometimes tetchy) new member. But the story includes lots of information about canoeing techniques, certainly enough to either help interest a reader in the sport, or even to help someone already learning it.

You can see below the wide range of sports represented in Jinty.

  • Prisoners of Paradise Island (1974) – hockey
  • Hettie High and Mighty (1975) – hockey
  • Ping-Pong Paula (1975) – table tennis
  • Tricia’s Tragedy (1975) – swimming
  • Miss No-Name (1976) – athletics
  • Go On, Hate Me! (1976-77) – athletics, particularly running
  • Battle of the Wills (1977) – gymnastics and ballet.
  • Concrete Surfer (1977) – skateboarding
  • Cursed to be a Coward! (1977) – swimming
  • Curtain of Silence (1977) – cycling
  • Spell of the Spinning Wheel (1977) – cross-country running
  • Darling Clementine (1978) – water-skiing
  • Wild Rose (1978) – gymnastics
  • Black Sheep of the Bartons (1979) – judo
  • Prisoner of the Bell (1979) – gymnastics
  • Waves of Fear (1979) – swimming/hockey/orienteering
  • Toni on Trial (1979-80) – athletics
  • White Water (1979-80) – sailing/canoeing (see above for details)
  • Blind Faith (1980) – showjumping
  • Tears of a Clown (1980) – long-distance running
  • Child of the Rain (1980) – tennis
  • Minnow (1980) – swimming
  • Spirit of the Lake (1980) – figure-skating
  • Tearaway Trisha (1980) – cycling
  • The Bow Street Runner (1981) – long-distance running
  • Diving Belle (1981) – high-diving
  • Life’s A Ball for Nadine (1981) – netball (and disco dancing, competitively)

 

Edge cases

As ever, there are clearly-related stories that don’t quite fit in the main theme. Sports are such a pervasive trope in the life of Jinty and other girls’ comics precisely because they were an important part of many girls’ school lives. Of course they also made up a big part of other popular fiction read by girls; it becomes a reinforcing theme that is always available for use.

  • Jackie’s Two Lives (1974-75) – features a mentally disturbed woman grieving over her late daughter and trying to recreate her in another girl, but also features horse riding and show-jumping
  • Wanda Whiter than White (1975-6) – the main story theme is constant trouble with an interfering, tale-telling girl, but also features horse riding and show-jumping
  • Champion In Hiding (1976) – the champion in question is a sheepdog, trained to win at dog trials
  • Rose Among the Thornes (1976) – the main story theme is family rivalry, but there are sections where Rose is involved in running races in her local village
  • Stage Fright! (1977) – includes some realistic elements of sailing
  • Land of No Tears (1977-78) – gymnastics and swimming as part of the futuristic competition to find the most perfect schoolgirl
  • The Changeling (1978) – main character loves horseriding and this is used as part of the abusive family/wishfulfilment story
  • Knight and Day (1978) – really a story about an abusive family but includes a family rivalry based around swimming and competitive diving
  • Paula’s Puppets (1978) – a story of magical objects and group strife, but includes elements of athletics (running)
  • Combing Her Golden Hair (1979) – a strange comb has the protagonist rebelling against her strict grandmother, whose rules include a ban on swimming
  • Freda’s Fortune (1981) – mostly wish-fulfilment gone wrong, with horseriding
  • Holiday Hideaway (1981) – protagonist has gymnastic skills
  • Worlds Apart (1981) – each dream-like parallel world featured a society built around an individual’s interests, and this included a sporty girl’s world

 

Other thoughts

This is probably one of the most pervasive themes you could possibly have in a girls’ comic; no doubt those who are expert in other comics titles will be able to mention many more examples of stories and of unusual sports featured in them. Reviewing the list above, I am surprised not so much by the number of stories as of the range of sports included. Of course the sports that girls played on a regular basis at school – hockey, swimming, athletics, netball, running – would feature in the girls’ comics. Even then, the weighting of specific sports doesn’t seem entirely even, mind you – in Jinty there was only one netball story compared to two or three hockey stories, and a few athletics stories. There is a noticeable absence of lacrosse stories despite the fact they are a staple of girls school prose fiction (I am sure they must be included in some other comics titles). I also don’t recall any rounders stories, which was a very typical summer sport for girls to play.

I am sure that other titles included some aspirational sports such as figure-skating or show-jumping as Jinty did, and the inclusion of some ordinary if less usual sports such as orienteering doesn’t seem unlikely either. However, the fact that skate-boarding, table-tennis, and judo were included as part of the range of stories shows, I think, that Jinty wanted to push the boat out and include elements that were not just a bit unusual, but also modern, fresh, and popular in the wider world: elements that were not marked as ‘élite’ and expensive.

Jinty & Lindy 13 December 1975

Jinty cover 3.jpg

  • Slaves of the Candle (artist Roy Newby)
  • Penny Crayon
  • Finleg the Fox (artist Barrie Mitchell)
  • Golden Dolly, Death Dust! (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Ping-Pong Paula (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Too Old to Cry! (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Hettie High and Mighty – final episode (unknown artist – Merry)
  • The Haunting of Hazel (artist Santiago Hernandez)
  • Song of the Fir Tree (artist Phil Townsend)

I’m rather puzzled as to the reason for the state of the cover. Maybe someone left part of it in the sun for too long.

At any rate, this issue sees off one of the stories to come from Lindy, “Hettie High and Mighty”. Miss High and Mighty was finally knocked off her high horse in the previous issue when her new stepmother gave her a jolly good hiding and told her to lead the team to victory, or else. The trouble is, Hettie was bitten by a dog on the way and now she is lame. Nonetheless, she is determined to help her team win despite the pain she is in, and her heroism is honoured on the cover. It sure is one way to redeem herself after all the trouble she has caused, but can she score the victory? Next issue, Hettie will be replaced by “Wanda Whiter than White“, another girl who causes trouble for everyone, but in a very different way – she “is the most hateful tell-tale ever!”

It is also revealed in this issue that the next one will have the conclusion of the other story to come from Lindy, “Finleg the Fox”. This episode sees a surprise twist – nasty Dora Dray, who tried to poison Finleg the fox, has been kidnapped! It is all because of money Mr Dray was forced to hide from a train robbery and a mystery man known as “the boss” who led the gang. Nobody knows who the boss is, and when our heroine finds out in the final panel, she cannot believe it. And we probably won’t either when we see who it is in the next issue.

Things get bloody in “Song of the Fir Tree” – Solveig and Per go out on a limb to stop some Nazi guerillas and Solveig takes a bullet to the head! Worse, it affects her memory and causes erratic behaviour. Just the thing you need when a man is out to kill you. And in “Slaves of the Candle”, Lyndy is left carrying the can over yet another of Mrs Tallow’s crimes. Now the price on her head has been raised to £700! In “Ping-Pong-Paula”, Paula collapses because she took a job on top of everything else to help pay the mortgage for the posh house her mother wanted. But now  that Mum has walked out, what is the point of keeping the house anyway? Nobody wanted it in the first place but her.

 

Unknown Artist (Merry)

A number of the artists on Jinty remain as yet unidentified. One of the main artists we would love to identify is the person who drew one of the Jinty stories in the very first issue, “Merry at Misery House”. For convenience in this article, I will use the pronoun ‘her’ for this artist, and refer to her as ‘Merry’. (Of course, I have no knowledge at present as to whether she really was a female artist, or anything much about her. I like to think she may have been a British artist; somehow I get a vibe of classic British style, as if her art would be right at home in a Bunty or Girl annual from a previous decade. I also like to think she may be female, but if asked to substantiate my feeling I would have to go down some route of gender essentialisation, pointing to the delicate lines or similar, so I shall avoid doing that. That is, any guesswork is all supposition and imagination!)

6 March 1976 page 1
(click thru)
6 March 1976 page 2
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6 March 1976 page 3
(click thru)

‘Merry’ seems to have been particularly associated with Terence Magee at various points in time: she drew “Merry at Misery House” in Jinty, but also “Four Friends At Spartan School” (published in Tammy in 1971-72), and “Slave of the Trapeze” (published in Sandie in September 1972, but originally commissioned for Tammy). The Jinty stories attributable to her are as follows:

  • Merry at Misery House (1974)
  • Hettie High-And-Mighty (1975)
  • Friends of the Forest (1976)
  • Miss Make-Believe (1979)
  • Casey, Come Back (1979)
  • Tale of the Panto Cat (1979)

The post about “Merry at Misery House” also includes artwork from “Four Friends at Spartan School”. In these earlier stories, the composition of individual panels is mostly based around a middle distance view: the characters are seen full body, or three-quarters, and you get lots of interaction between them. The slightly later story “Friends of the Forest” (above), in particular, gives a ‘closer up’ feel, with tight focus on the faces of the characters. In this example there are fewer panels on a page, too, giving a more open feel. It is really nice to see an artist changing the way they work as they go along and experimenting with new looks; as a reader you feel that it wasn’t just a treadmill or a grindstone, despite the busy schedule that many of the artists must have put in to create so many pages of amazing art.

I should also add that some of the stories attributed above to ‘Merry’ have previously been attributed to other artists: “Hettie High-And-Mighty” to Jordi Badia, and “Miss Make-Believe” tentatively to Sarompas. I am however confident of this attribution to ‘Merry’; there is a typical stance that she draws with hands in a specific position that is unmistakable. I will feature it when I come to illustrate “Miss Make-Believe” later; it can also be seen in the bottom-left panel of this page from “Hettie High-And-Mighty”:

(click thru)
(click thru)

Any information leading to a positive identification of this artist will be very gratefully received.

Edited to add: other stories drawn by this artist include

  • Bess’s Secret Brother (Judy, 1984)

Jinty 1 November 1975

Image

  • The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Blind Ballerina – final episode (artist Ana Rodrigues)
  • Golden Dolly, Death Dust! (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Dora Dogsbody – final episode for now (artist José Casanovas)
  • The Haunting of Hazel (artist Santiago Hernandez)
  • Song of the Fir Tree (artist Phil Townsend)
  • The Valley of Shining Mist – final episode (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • Barracuda Bay
  • Ping-Pong Paula (artist Jim Baikie)

This was the week before Lindy merged with Jinty. “The Valley of Shining Mist”, “Blind Ballerina” and (temporarily) “Dora Dogsbody” end in order to make room for the new stories and completing Lindy stories, “Hettie High and Mighty” and “Finleg the Fox”. Presumably Dora was intended to return once material from Lindy had been cleared. And inside is the blurb to introduce us to the merger and the two new stories we will see next week: “Too Old to Cry” and “Slaves of the Candle”. Plus there is a competition (there always is with a merger) with 6 bikes as first prizes and 50 Family Favourite LPs as runners-ups.

As you see on the cover, Katie’s friends resort to desperate measures to ensure Katie does not jinx them while they practise cycle-polo. But in the end it does them no good; they take a tumble in a ditch and Katie gets the last laugh. They themselves admit they should have known. In “Song of the Fir Tree”, Grendelsen takes an undignified tumble as well – into a river. It does not kill him, as everybody thinks, but it is another setback for him. He has lost his quarry again and he is not having much progress with drying out afterwards.  But of course it will not be long before he returns to the chase, and after this mishap he will be meaner than ever. In “The Haunting of Hazel” there is yet another fall as Hazel’s instructor falls through rotten floorboards and hurts her ankle. “Ping-Pong Paula” finds her table tennis taking a downturn, as she is forced to play with bats she is not used to and now losing sleep – thanks to the trickery from her jealous rival, Myra. But in “Barracuda Bay”, things are beginning to look hopeful. Susan Stevens has been chained up with the captive scientists, but her escape plans are in progress.

 

Jinty and Lindy 8 November 1975

Jinty and Lindy 8 November 1975

The first issue of the merged Jinty and Lindy. Cover montage includes art by Mario Capaldi and Trini Tinturé. “Finleg the Fox” has come over from Lindy, as has “Penny Crayon” and “Hettie High and Mighty”. Additionally this issue has the first episodes of “Slaves of the Candle” and “Too Old To Cry”.

Stories in this issue:

  • Slaves of the Candle (artist Roy Newby)
  • Golden Dolly, Death Dust! (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Finleg the Fox (artist Barrie Mitchell)
  • Song of the Fir Tree (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Ping-Pong Paula (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Barracuda Bay
  • Penny Crayon
  • Too Old To Cry (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Hettie High and Mighty
  • The Haunting of Hazel (artist Santiago Hernandez)
  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)

Lindy 20 September 1975

 

Image

  • Hettie High and Mighty! – first episode (unknown artist (Merry))
  • The Pointing Finger (artist Jesus Redondo)
  • Poor Law Polly (artist Roy Newby)
  • Defiant Daisy (artist Diane Gabbot)
  • Pavement Patsy (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • Finleg the Fox – first episode (artist Barrie Mitchell)
  • Penny Crayon (artist unknown)
  • The Tin-Mine Ponies – last episode (artist Manuel Cuyàs)
  • Hard Days for Hilda (artist Dudley Wynne; writer Terence Magee)

Lindy was the first of two comics to merge with Jinty. She was one of the many short-lived comics which did not survive past the first year and got swallowed by mergers very quickly. But Lindy was short-lived even by the standards of a short-lived girls’ comic; she lasted only 20 issues while most short-lived girls’ comics were usually cancelled around the 30th issue or so.

The merge came on 8 November 1975. This issue of Lindy is notable for the first episodes of “Hettie High and Mighty!” and “Finleg the Fox”, the two Lindy serials which would conclude in the merger. Unlike Penny in 1980, Lindy contributed little to Jinty because she lacked regulars to carry on after her serials concluded. Not even her resident cartoon, “Penny Crayon”, lasted long in the merger. But it is possible that  Lindy‘s scripts and writers had more influence on the merger because it featured several historic period stories such as “Bound for Botany Bay“. And Lindy seemed to have a stronger emphasis on such stories than Jinty, with serials like “Nina Nimble Fingers”, “Poor Law Polly” and “Hard Days for Hilda”. Lindy also brought artist Roy Newby to Jinty; he had illustrated period stories for Lindy and would do the same for the merger, including “Bound for Botany Bay”.