Tag Archives: Horse from the Sea

Princess II, #26, 17 March 1984

Princess cover 26

  • The Secret Swimmer (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • The Dream House (artist Mike White)
  • Rusty, Remember Me (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Day and Knight (artist Juliana Buch)
  • Are You a Teacher’s Pet? (quiz)
  • Flight from the Romanys (artist Maria Dembilio)
  • Fun Fair – puzzles
  • Horse from the Sea (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • The Haunted Station (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)

 

The merge into Tammy is in three weeks, so how does this issue contribute towards the merger? “The Dream House” has a double episode, it looks like “Flight from the Romanys” is getting close to finishing, but “The Secret Swimmer”, “The Haunted Station”, “Rusty, Remember Me” and “Day and Knight” are on their second episodes. And anyone familiar with the original run of “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” knows it still has a long way to go.

Liza now becomes “The Secret Swimmer” and secretly training for the event Nikki is now out of, because she feels it is the only way to get the girls to talk to her again after wrongly blaming her for Nikki’s accident. But getting up at early hours for training and pushing herself too much are beginning to take their toll.

Mr Day is pushing headlong into his new marriage with Carrie Knight’s mother, despite protests from his daughter Sharon that Carrie is bullying her. Dad is not listening and Carrie is very good at pulling the wool over his eyes. And now Carrie is causing another heartbreak for Sharon – she has to rehome her beloved cat Monk because of Carrie’s asthma.

In “Stefa’s Heart of Stone”, Dad’s job is on the line because of Stefa’s tricks to dodge Ruth, Joy’s look-alike at school. Stefa gets no sleep because her heart of stone is struggling against her guilty conscience. But conscience does not win, and neither does common sense. By the final panel it looks like Stefa will indeed get Dad sacked because of her wanting to avoid Ruth.

Donna Jones needs a vet for the injured fox cub, now named Rusty, but money is a problem. And there is another problem – animals aren’t allowed in their flat, and the caretaker is not the sort who would understand the situation.

Jan Dale is becoming more convinced that the doll’s house is evil and taking away the elder members of the family she is working for. Now Diana, the eldest daughter, has disappeared like the parents, but the two youngest kids seem to be helping it.

Lydia Parks, who has only just escaped from the gypsies who kidnapped her, now has to escape from a workhouse. She finally does, but it’s now more urgent than ever to get home, because her sick friend at the workhouse badly needs help.

In “Horse from the Sea”, Janice and Tracey Penrose discover a rift in the Penrose family that stems from when Charles Penrose blamed his father for a mining accident because the old miser was cutting corners at the expense of safety. It would not be surprising if Janice’s stepfather was descended from the old meanie, because it looks like he’s deliberately keeping Janice an invalid so she won’t inherit, and committing other fraud too.

“The Haunted Station” is more like a time travel device. It has already sent Linda Brent and Wendy Smith to the 1930s, where they get entangled with a frightened girl who is being chased by someone. Now it looks like it’s about to send them back to the 1930s again.

Princess Bee wants to go riding – and so does Grovel. He ends up regretting it because Princess Bee uses him for her mount after he messes things up (below).

Sadie in waiting riding
Horse hijinks, “Sadie in Waiting”, Princess II, 17 March 1984
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Princess II, #21, 11 February 1984

Princess 21 cover

  • School of Dark Secrets (artist Carlos Cruz) – final episode
  • Laura in the Lyon’s Den (artist Bob Harvey)
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • The Runaway Clown (artist José Canovas?)
  • How Mean Are You? – Quiz
  • Horse from the Sea… (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Princess Pet Book part 3
  • Rowena of the Doves (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Sheena and the Treetoppers (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • The Saddest Dog in Town (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Fun Fair (puzzles)

This is Princess II’s one and only Valentine issue. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, which gives it topical flavour. Only Sadie in Waiting actually commemorates Valentine’s Day (below), and we get a hint that Grovel has a softer side, though of course he won’t admit it.

“School of Dark Secrets” reveals its secret. The staff are descended from the Witches of Barnham. All they need to complete the coven and receive the powers of the original witches is Judy, the descendant of Alvira, the 13th witch in the portrait. Too bad for the witches they failed to spot the clue that the portrait of Alvira had been painted over with that of Judy’s great-great-grandmother, so they grabbed the wrong descendant. Now did someone paint the portrait over to fool the witches or because they couldn’t stand the sight of Alvira’s ugly mug? At any rate, the school is closed down and then reopened with more wholesome staff.

Laura is way too much for Mrs Lyon this week – she actually throws a huge, creamy cake in the woman’s face! She’s still serving in the restaurant though.

Stefa starts on the path to turn her heart into stone to avoid feeling grief again. Everyone is upset by the change in her but don’t realise why. The doctor advises a complete change. A fat lot of good that’s going to do.

Princess, the elephant performer, is so jealous of “The Runaway Clown” that she sets a tiger on her. This backfires big time on Princess, and it looks like it’s about to lead to the Big Top going up in flames as well.

The Treetoppers fend off an escaped lion, but their treehouse is still facing the bulldozers. Then Sheena has a brainwave – but what is it?

The origin of the “Horse from the Sea” is revealed this week. Legend says a Penrose married the daughter of the King of the Sea, and she came up from the sea on the horse. Ever since then the horse has appeared whenever the heir of Penrose is in danger, which apparently is what is happening now.

Rowena’s father, King Guthlac, has sent her to summon her three brothers to his aid. One brother has already refused, as has the second this week, because he’s in the power of a vampire. It’s all down to the third now.

In “The Saddest Dog in Town”, a clue emerges as to who the dog’s lost owner is. He is linked to Jess, a girl who wanted to learn ballet, but her parents couldn’t afford it. But where is Jess?

Sadie in Waiting Valentine

Princess II, #28 – final issue – 31 March 1984

Princess 28 cover

  • The Secret Swimmer (artist Phil Gascoine) – final episode
  • The Haunted Station (artist Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?)) – final episode
  • The Dream House (artist Mike White) – final episode
  • Day and Knight (artist Juliana Buch)
  • Horse from the Sea… (artist Rodrigo Comos) – final episode
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Rusty, Remember Me (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)

This is the very last issue of Princess. She came to an end after 28 issues and a disturbing change of format from Girl II style to Tammy style with #19, and an equally disturbing fallback on reprints of older material.

Princess great news 1

The Princess stories that do not carry on into the merger are “The Secret Swimmer”, “The Dream House” (Tammy reprint), “Horse from the Sea” (Jinty reprint) and “The Haunted Station”. The last two are given six page spreads to help finish them off.

The ending of “The Secret Swimmer” is a good one that avoids clichés, and is worthy of Jinty. Liza wonders if there is any point in winning the race because all the girls are against her as they wrongly blame her for Nikki’s accident. But when Nikki herself starts cheering for Liza, the girls turn around and start cheering as well. It gives Liza all the encouragement she needs to really compete – yet she still does not win. She is narrowly beaten, but she’s still a winner because she has friends again.

In “The Haunted Station” the Grices think pushing Helen off the cliff means her inheritance is now in their pocket. They don’t realise a tree root has broken her fall, and Wendy and Linda pull her up. Helen goes on to get help from an old housekeeper, Mrs Burke, but Linda and Wendy are whisked back to their own time before they find out how things turned out. Then, at the next stop on the school trip they are surprised to meet Helen Mills, now an old lady who runs a Tudor Tea Gardens attraction. Yes, everything worked out happily for Helen and justice was done. The elderly Helen is very surprised at how Wendy and Linda look so much like her two helpers.

The two schemers in “Horse from the Sea” come to an even stickier end than the Grices – they get drowned during a flood, and the rightful heir is free from their power.

“The Dream House” turns out to be the result of Miss Royd’s quest for immortality that she had begun centuries before, and she uses the minds of small children to wield her power. Jane manages to turn that power against Miss Royd and re-imprison her in her secret room in the dollhouse. But all it needs to turn Miss Royd loose again is for another small child to find that secret room in the dollhouse…

The stories that continue with the merger are “Day and Knight”, “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” and “Sadie in Waiting”. Sharon Day’s father has married Carrie Knight’s mother despite Sharon’s pleas that Carrie is a bully who makes her life a misery, and has even stolen her beloved guitar. Now the bullying is double the misery because Carrie is now living with Sharon and making her life hell at home as well as school, and Dad just won’t listen when Sharon tries to tell him. Carrie and her gang have trashed Sharon’s belongings and now Carrie’s planning a very nasty surprise for Sharon – a piece of meat in her vegetarian school lunch!

In “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” (Jinty reprint) Stefa tries to get herself expelled in order to get away from Ruth, but Ruth keeps foiling her. Meanwhile, and Stefa and her parents make the move into the council house. Stefa’s stoniness gets her on the wrong foot with the kids in the neighbourhood, who react by throwing stones at the statue Stefa models her stony heart on.

Hiding Rusty the fox from the nasty caretaker Mr Jenkins while his leg is in plaster is proving problematic. Jenkins is already suspicious and now he wants to search the flat – which is precisely where the kids have hidden Rusty.

Princess Bee says Sadie will have to go, and Sadie can’t understand what she did to get sacked when Grovel deserves it more. It turns out to be a misunderstanding – Princess Bee has chosen Sadie to be the one to go the annual servants’ conference. Poor Grovel’s in tears at not being the one, but we all know Princess Bee made the right decision.

Princess II, #27, 24 March 1984

Princess 27 cover

  • Flight from the Romanys (artist Maria Dembilio) – final episode
  • Day and Knight (artist Juliana Buch)
  • The Haunted Station (artist Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?))
  • The Dream House (artist Mike White)
  • The Secret Swimmer (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Horse from the Sea… (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Rusty, Remember Me (artist Eduardo Feito)

This is the second to last issue of Princess II before the merge into Tammy, so it’s an issue where things are beginning to wind down. Finishing this issue is “Flight from the Romanys”, where Lydia, a wealthy lord’s daughter, has been kidnapped by gypsies. She has escaped, but it’s a long way home, and she very nearly gets recaptured as well.

“The Haunted Station”, “The Dream House”, “Horse from the Sea” and “The Secret Swimmer” are on their penultimate episodes.

Liza, “The Secret Swimmer”, has been secretly training for a swimming trophy after she is wrongly blamed of putting her friend Nikki out of it. Her secret is exposed, but she has become so good she is chosen to represent the school at the event. But everyone is so against her because of the wrongful accusation that they are going to cheer for the rival schools. So is there any point in even winning? This story was drawn by Phil Gascoine, and I was surprised to learn it was an original Gascoine and not a repeat from Jinty.

“The Haunted Station” is not so much haunted but a time travel device. Linda Brent and Wendy Smith are finding a converted railway station transporting them to the 1930s (and back again).  Their 1980s clothes are arousing disapproval in the 1930s and making them stick out like sore thumbs: “Girls wearing trousers. It’s disgraceful!” But their real concern is Helen Mills, who is a target for murder because her guardians, the Grices, are after her inheritance. The Grices are getting close to succeeding now; in the final panel Mr Grice pushes Helen over the edge of a quarry.

Evil guardians are also out to steal an inheritance in “Horse from the Sea”, and now they’ve caught our heroine as she tries to phone for help. As with “The Haunted Station” supernatural help is at hand, which comes in the form of a magic horse from the sea.

“The Dream House” (reprinted from Tammy) is more like “The Nightmare House”. Jane Dale is convinced a dollhouse is evil and taking family members away to inhabit it as dolls, and that she is next in line. The weird thing is, the two small children of the family are willing to help it. In this episode Jane discovers that housekeeper Miss Royd is behind it all. In fact, Miss Royd says she came with the dollhouse and lived in it for centuries, and Jane is going to do the same!

“Day and Knight” and “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” are the Princess stories that will carry on in the merger. Stefa’s repeat is now up to the point where she wants to leave her new school because of Joy’s look-alike. She storms into her father’s workplace demanding he remove her from the school, which gets him sacked. He has to take a lower paid job, which means the family has to move to a cheaper council house. But none of this moves Stefa’s stony heart. After efforts to dodge school fail, she plots to get herself expelled as her parents won’t let her change schools.

In “Day and Knight”, Sharon Day’s father now marries Carrie Knight’s mother despite Sharon’s protests that Carrie is a bully who is making her life a misery. He just won’t listen (Gran is the only one who believes Sharon), and that is clearly going to come back to bite him and his new marriage. Meanwhile, the wedding is a day of tears for Sharon that she has to choke down for the sake of Dad’s big day. Even if everything does get sorted out in the end (as we expect), Sharon’s forced smiles will be evident in the wedding photos for years to come and be a painful reminder of what used to be.

“Rusty, Remember Me” is the fox story (every girls’ comic has to have one at some point). Donna Jones has to hide an injured fox because she lives in a flat where pets are against the rules and the caretaker is a nasty piece of work. This week they take the fox to the vet, only to hear that the vet’s advice is put him to sleep.

Sadie in Waiting is the other Princess feature that will carry on in the merger, supplanting the Tammy Joe Collins cartoon, “The Crazyees”. This week they screw down the furniture because of a visit from Lady Edna, who’s the proverbial bull in a china shop because she’s so huge. They are annoyed to find it unnecessary when Lady Edna proves she has slimmed down – but they find they have spoken too soon when her huge friends arrive. And by that time they have removed the screws.

Princess II, #19, 28 January 1984

Princess 19 cover

  • The Saddest Dog in Town (artist Eduardo Feito) – first episode
  • Laura in the Lyon’s Den! (artist Bob Harvey) – first episode
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie) – first episode
  • School of Dark Secrets (Carlos Cruz)
  • The Runaway Clown (artist José Canovas?) – first episode
  • Rowena of the Doves (artist Peter Wilkes) – first episode
  • Are You a Scaredy Cat ? Quiz
  • Horse from the Sea (artist Rodrigo Comos) – first episode
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Princess Pet Book (artist Mario Capaldi) – feature
    Sheena and the Treetoppers (artist Rodrigo Comos)

 

This is where Princess switches to the Tammy format (same newsprint, style and page count) and starts printing reprints from Tammy and Jinty. A new comic using reprints is not a good sign. It is an indication of an ailing comic and cutting costs, or perhaps even that the decision had already been made to merge Princess with Tammy.

The reprints are “Stefa’s Heart of Stone”, “Horse from the Sea” (Jinty) and “Rowena of the Doves” (Tammy). Later another reprint, “The Dream House” from Tammy, joins the lineup. Stefa was one of Jinty’s most popular stories. There was a huge demand to repeat her story in “Pam’s Poll“. Despite this, it was a repeat that did not eventuate in either the remainder of Jinty’s run or her merge into Tammy, but it finally did so in Princess and would continue in the Tammy merger.

However, there are also totally new stories. In “The Saddest Dog in Town” the Dentons take in Sammy, a dog who hitched a ride into town, but there is a real mystery as to why Sammy is so sad. It appears to be linked to his searching for something (or someone?) and disappointed to find it.

In “Laura in the Lyon’s Den!”, Aunt Leroy decides it’s time to get someone to sort out her spoiled and mischievous niece, Laura. That’s definitely a good idea, but is the approach – give Laura a holiday job in the family restaurant under the strict supervision of Mrs Lyon – going to work out? Mrs Lyon herself is not happy about such a burden, and Laura’s a real handful. Still, Laura could meet her match in Mrs Lyon as she definitely has what it takes to deal with a rotten brat.

In “The Runaway Clown” Cindy runs away from a children’s home where she always puts her foot in it. She is drawn to the circus, where she goes to the rescue of a tightrope walker in trouble although she’s never walked a tightrope before.

The Treetoppers’ treehouse is in danger. The site is going to be demolished to make way for a stadium. The Treetoppers decide they’re going to put up a fight. Meanwhile, Judy tries to get her father to take her away from the “School of Dark Secrets”, but Miss Grimkin is onto Judy and manages to pull the wool over Dad’s eyes.

Princess Bee goes away; Grovel takes advantage to open the place to guided tours, and passes himself off as a lord. He is in danger of being caught out when Princess Bee returns unexpectedly. Sadie graciously covers up for him – while still teaching him a lesson.

Pat Mills: Interview

Pat Mills is someone who has already contributed lots to our knowledge of girls comics of this era, but even so there are still some gaps in our knowledge of what he wrote, and always plenty more questions to be asked. With thanks to him for his contributions now and in the past, here is a brief email interview.

1) In previous discussions you’ve identified the following stories in girls’ comics as having been written by you. Are there any stories missing from that list that you can remember? Some other stories have been attributed to you – also listed below – which you’ve either specifically said you didn’t write, or which haven’t been included in those previous discussions. It would be great to clarify this once and for all, if we can.

Known stories (Jinty)

You have also said before that you wrote a horse story, without identifying which one it was. Might it be “Horse from the Sea”? Or perhaps “Wild Horse Summer“?

Pat Mills: No. Doesn’t ring a bell. It’s possible I did the horse story for Tammy, but it wasn’t very good.

Tammy

  • Ella on Easy Street?
  • Glenda’s Glossy Pages?

Pat Mills: Charles Herring wrote Ella which I hugely admire. I wrote Glenda. Also – Aunt Aggie, School for Snobs, and Granny’s Town, but not all episodes.

Misty

  • Moonchild
  • Roots (Nightmare)
  • Red Knee – White Terror! (Beasts)

Pat Mills: Think “Red Knee” was mine if it was the spider story. Also “Hush Hush Sweet Rachel” – art by Feito.

And some Jinty stories you didn’t write but which are often attributed to you: “Knight and Day” (now confirmed as not yours), “The Human Zoo” (I think this is thought to be Malcolm Shaw’s), “Wanda Whiter Than White“, “Guardian of White Horse Hill” (you’ve previously thought this is likely to be Malcolm’s too).

Pat Mills: No, none of those are mine.

2) I appreciate that it’s harder to remember which stories were written by other people, if you even knew these details at the time. If there are any stories that you know the writers of, we are always up for adding to our store of attributions! We know that co-workers of yours such as John Wagner, Gerry Finley-Day, Malcolm Shaw, Charles Herring wrote for girls comics, in case that helps to trigger any memories. Did you also perhaps know Jay Over, Ian Mennell, Benita Brown, Maureen Spurgeon? (Some of those names are listed in the era when Tammy printed creator credits between 1982 and 1984, meaning we do have some story credits already in hand for that time.)

Pat Mills: Charles Herring was great – Ella and similar stories.  Pat and Alan Davidson wrote stories like Little Miss Nothing – Sandie and the equivalent in Tammy. They were top writers and that style of ‘Cinderella” story was hugely popular, but I don’t think they ever worked for Mavis. [In fact we do know that Alan Davidson wrote for Jinty, though Pat Davidson did not.]

John Wagner created and wrote “Jeanie and her Uncle Meanie” for Sandie, I think.  John was an editor on Sandie, but Gerry was the founding editor.

I wrote “Captives of Madam Karma” in Sandie.

John Wagner and I wrote “School of No Escape” in Sandie. (That was not bad) And “The Incredible Miss Birch” for Sandie. (Not our finest hour!) And I must have written at least one other story of this kind for Sandie.

I also wrote “Sugar Jones” and other stories for Pink, and “9 to 4” for Girl.

3) In Steve MacManus’ new book on his time in IPC / Fleetway, he talks about stories being measured in terms of the number of panels in the story: so for instance at one point he refers to a ‘twenty-two picture episode’ and at other points to a ‘thirty-picture script’. Is this something that you too remember from your time at IPC Fleetway? Did it happen at DCThomson too? I was interested in this because it seemed like a surprising way to think about comics, rather than in terms of page count.

Pat Mills: Yes. Steve is spot on. It’s a big subject. A thirty picture story in girls comics would theoretically deliver a lot of story. But it would be crammed and old fashioned. So I changed all that on 2000AD with less images on the page and started to apply it to Misty.

4) You’ve talked before about girls comics working differently from boys comics, and Steve MacManus recalls you saying that in a girls story the heroine would beat a bully, ride in a gymkhana, and still get back home in time to make her motherless family a hearty tea. Clearly girls comics were very full of plot! And you were a big part of rewriting a bunch of boys stories to make them fit the girls comics model more closely. Can you talk in a bit more detail about how this worked, in other words, what the mechanism was, more exactly? Is it a case of using fewer action sequences, more surprise reveals, lots of scene changes…?

Pat Mills: The big principle of girls comics that I applied to boys comics was “emotion”. Sometimes this worked well, but it needed applying in a different way. More “cool”, perhaps. Some girls principles didn’t adapt well:  jealousy for instance. Girls loved stories involving jealousy – boys didn’t. Hence “Green’s Grudge War” in Action wasn’t a hit.  Similarly, mystery stories work well in girls comics, boys didn’t give a damn about mystery. Hence my “Terror Beyond the Bamboo Curtain” in Battle, boys didn’t care what the terror was. It wasn’t a failure, but not the hit we hoped for.

However, where girls comics scored ENORMOUSLY was in having realistic stories that didn’t talk down to the reader. My “Charley’s War” is really a girls comic in disguise. Its popularity lies in it applying girls comic principles NOT boys comic principles – e.g. emotion is allowable in the context of World War One.

I was never that sold on “girls adventure” where there wasn’t a strong “kitchen sink”/Grange Hill factor. I think when Jinty went in for science fiction adventure it led the field, but not so sure about regular adventure which could seem “old school” – to me, at least. This was a factor everyone battled with on girls and boys comics, avoiding “old school” and creating stories that were “cool”.  Thus I would describe “Cat Girl” in Sally as uncool and old fashioned. Some of the Misty stories fell into that category – historical stories, for example.

Many thanks again to Pat Mills for his time, and for his memories and thoughts on this.

Princess (series 2) #4, 15 October 1983

Princess cover 1

  • Ring of Feathers (artist Santiago Hernandez)
  • Mr Evans the Talking Rabbit (photo story)
  • Their Darling Daughter (artist Bert Hill)
  • Miranda’s Magic Dragon (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Stairway to the Stars (photo story)
  • The Incredible Shrinking Girl! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • The Princess Diana Story – Feature
  • Sadie-in-Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Princess Diana Pin-up – Feature

Here we continue the theme of more context around Jinty’s family tree at IPC. As I do not have #1, I present #4, which is the earliest issue in my collection, to represent Princess. Updated to add: I now have Princess  #1, and its entry is here.

Princess (not to be confused with the 1960s Princess, later called Princess Tina) ran from 24 September 1983 to 31 March 1984, and then it merged into Tammy on 7 April 1984. It was riding on the popularity of Princess Diana, and included pinups of Diana and the story of Diana’s life. It lasted for 28 issues and, unusually for IPC girls’ titles, numbered its issues. Up until #18 it had a lot of colour pages and two photo stories, one in black-and-white and the other in colour. But it had fewer pages than Tammy, which was printed on cheaper newsprint than Princess. From #19 Princess dropped the photo stories and colour pages and switched to the same newsprint, format and number of pages as Tammy. This is similar to the pattern that Penny followed three years earlier before it merged into Jinty.

Princess also reprinted several serials from Tammy and Jinty: “Horse from the Sea”, “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” (completed in the merge with Tammy), “Rowena of the Doves” and “The Dream House”. These changes and reprints are signs that Princess was not doing well. Ironically, the reprints in Princess enabled some original Jinty artwork to survive the cavalier manner in which IPC handled original artwork.

Princess stories were not particularly memorable or well remembered, and some only lasted a few episodes. One, “The Incredible Shrinking Girl!”, looks like it is on its penultimate episode, and it is only #4.

Other Princess stories were a bit unconventional, such as the photo story “Mr Evans the Talking Rabbit”. Mr Evans has turned himself into a rabbit after messing around with a magic book. Unfortunately the change has not improved his disagreeable character and he is still the “miserable old so-and-so” that his wife does not miss one bit. Nonetheless, Jenny Andrews continues to help him find the book and change back – trouble is, the book has been sold and they need to track it down. This is the colour photo story, which makes it stand out more.

The black-and-white photo story, “Stairway to the Stars”, is a bit of a mix between a soap opera and a serial at a stage school. Right now, the school is now being threatened with closure, just because one mother (who unfortunately has influence with the council) thinks it is not doing anything for her daughter and would rather close the school down than have people think her daughter is a failure. She does not realise her daughter was doing badly on purpose because she wanted to be taken away.

“Their Darling Daughter” comes from the long line of stories where a spiteful schemer tries to get rid of a foster girl/cousin. In this case it is a housekeeper in an aristocratic household, who idolises the parents’ late daughter and does not want foster-girl Sylvie taking her place. Unusually for this type of serial the victim has an ally – her dog!

“Ring of Feathers” is the abusive guardian story, except that heroine Cheryl Gibson does not fully realise how cruel her Uncle John is. Her mother does, though – Uncle John makes her work like a slave for hardly any money and now he has started hitting her. Meanwhile, Cheryl is given a ring that gives her strange powers with birds. We eagerly wait to see how that is going to work against nasty Uncle John.

In “Miranda’s Magic Dragon”, Merlin’s granddaughter Miranda has travelled in time to 1983 to escape the evil sorcerer Mordac. There she makes friends, and also an enemy out of greedy Paula, who has stolen her magic pendant. This could get Paula into an awful lot of trouble with Mordac, who is after it too. But where’s the dragon? It’s the emblem on the magic pendant.

“Sadie-in-Waiting” is the resident cartoon strip and would carry on in the merger, replacing Tammy’s Joe Collins strip “The Crayzees”. As with Molly Mills, it is a maid vs. a devious butler, but played for weekly laughs.

 

Women Making Girls Comics – further thoughts arising

Talk at the House of Illustration: Paul Gravett, Mel Gibson, Jenni Scott, David Roach (thanks to Alice London for image)

The excitement of Saturday’s event is receding a bit; I have subsequently thought of further things that came up in the discussion that will be relevant to readers of this blog.

One important point is David’s repeated emphasis of how ‘cheap’ IPC were. For instance, to get stories reprinted or translated, they didn’t photocopy the art, send out the copy and keep the originals carefully for future reference: instead they sent the originals out to Spain or wherever, where the new text was physically pasted over the original words on the artwork itself. The original logo was torn away and pasted over or drawn over (and typically in IPC generally the artist signature was tippexed out, though people can’t have always been that rigorous over that because quite a lot of signatures survive).

A good example of this is shown in the Rodrigo Comos page below, which is from “Horse From The Sea”; it survives because it was reprinted in Princess (David is not aware of any other Jinty pages having survived). The logo itself was produced in house and was again not copied for re-use week by week: typically the same logo was removed from week 1 and re-pasted onto the space left for it on week 2’s artwork, from what David says.

Comos Horse From The Sea orig

The company didn’t want to spend money on storing old artwork; it simply didn’t value anything it wasn’t immediately using. David recounts horrific stories of mistreatment of artwork – used as cutting mats when working on newer art, or put on floors to soak up the rain. (Yes, really!) Apparently there was a huge bonfire (literally) of girls comics artwork once the company decided it didn’t need it any longer. When people say that none of the IPC girls’ comics artwork survives, this is the history that they are referring to – one in which a relatively recent reprint of Misty (as recounted by an audience member) was done from issues of the weekly comic, not from pristine art cleaned and tidied up. One feeble ray of hope might be that if the originals were sent to Spanish or Dutch publishers who had a better approach to keeping the artwork then perhaps some might be found in those countries, as David does not think that artwork sent for translation was typically returned to the original publishers.

I took the opportunity to ask David how it came to be that Tammy published credits in the later issues. His memory of Wilf Prigmore’s answer (the Tammy editor at the time) was that Wilf just decided to do it withouth asking anyone’s permisson, and no-one made him stop. David’s assumption was that the credits continued until the cancellation of Tammy but in recent posts on this blog we’ve seen that this wasn’t the case. Did a new editor take over Tammy in the final weeks after 11 February 1984? In any case, many heartfelt thanks are clearly due to Wilf and his unilateral decision!

I also thought to ask David something that there have been a lot of myths and rumours about, namely why were there so many Spanish artists in girls and boys comics of the time? He is the right person to ask about this (he has a book in the works about Spanish artists, which I shall be keenly interested to hear more about when any announcements are made). His understanding was that there was simply so many pages to be filled at the time that the British artists simply wouldn’t have been able to do it all! He specifically demystified the assumption / rumour that the Spanish artists were paid less and therefore undercut the rates of the British artists – they were paid the same. And of course there are a great number of extremely good Spanish artists, too, so the British publishers were very definitely getting their money’s worth.

I nearly forgot to mention one particular key point – in thinking about the pay ledgers that David saw, he was able to tell us that in the 50s, the absolute majority of names on the pay books were of female creators – perhaps 90%. Comparing that to the 70s and 80s, the number of female creators involved had obviously gone down subsequently. This was tentatively linked with the fact that the number of years that each female creator was visible on the pay books was not all that long, overall – perhaps a few years each, or some ten years of career visible on those ledgers at maximum per creator. Were they stopped from working once they became wives and mothers? Clearly not entirely so, by the anecdotes recorded from Alison Christie and Benita Brown, both of whom wrote at home while bringing up young families. But that was later, and times could well have changed by then.

There are many more snippets that I was very interested to hear at the talk, from audience members too. I will try to add key items to this post as they come to me, without making it hugely long.

Last Tammy Ever Published: 23 June 1984

Tammy cover 23 June 1984

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)
  • No Use to Anyone! (Eduardo Feito)
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Secret Sisters – first episode (artist Maria Dembilio)
  • A Walk in the Country – feature
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Jemima and the Arabian – a Pony Tale (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Top Girls! – Feature (Mari L’Anson)
  • I’m Her – She’s Me! (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Cora Can’t Lose (artist Juliana Buch)

This is the last issue of Tammy ever published – for the wrong reason in that Tammy simply disappeared after this, leaving all the stories inside unfinished. In particular, former readers are still frustrated to be left dangling on the penultimate episode of “Cora Can’t Lose”. The final episode was set for the next issue, but there never was a next issue. Only a few months later did Tammy reappear, but in logo only, which appeared on a few issues of Girl.

What happened? From what another Tammy enthusiast, Marionette, has pieced together from former IPC, Tammy was due for cancellation anyway, but not until August. Presumably, Tammy was then to merge with Girl. Then, after this issue was published, there was a strike that took many weeks to settle. By the time it was, the Tammy editors decided not to pick up where they left off, because it would have taken even longer to finish the stories. So everything here was dropped and left unfinished.

Tammy was not the only title to disappear because of the strike. The same went for “Scream!”, which was only on its 15th issue when the disaster struck. (Despite this, “Scream!” has become a cult favourite and its issues can command high prices.) But unlike Tammy, “Scream!” was allowed to continue in Eagle and finish things off. Presumably Girl did not have the room to complete Tammy’s stories, because she was nearly all a photo-story comic. But IPC still had a duty to the Tammy fans to let them know how the stories ended, which they did not meet. Unlike “Scream!”, there is no evidence of the unpublished material appearing in Tammy’s holiday specials. Tammy’s remaining annuals did not take the opportunity to publish any of the material either, except perhaps the Button Box stories; instead, they went for reprints. Another possibility could have been a special final issue that included the last episode of Cora and potted summaries for the other stories, but that wasn’t done either.

It is also telling that Tammy has dropped the Princess logo all of a sudden. Princess had only merged with Tammy in April, so dropping the logo of a merging comic in such a short space of time is disturbing. It hints at the direction Tammy was going with her sales and what was in store for her had the strike not intervened.

So just what inside was left dangling? First, Bella finds a coach who offers to get her back into proper gymnastics – on condition that she quit the acrobatics she has done with Benjie. But this will mean letting Benjie down. Bella is left with a tough choice to make, but we never find out what she decides. Ironically, it is virtually 10 years to the day here that Bella started: she first appeared on 22 June 1974.

In “No Use to Anyone!”, Kirsty gets some tips on how to train her puppy, Clumsy. But now the blind Clumsy has been trapped by a herd of cows, and Kirsty is terrified of them too. We never find out how she rescues Clumsy.

“Sadie in Waiting” had come over from Princess, and it brings Grovel, the first villainous butler since Pickering of “Molly Mills”, to Tammy. Grovel is out to win the “Servant of the Year” award in his usual fashion, which does not include working hard or honestly.

Sadie

In Tammy’s reprint of “The Forbidden Garden”, Gladvis has started blackmailing Laika over her water theft. This is about to include forcing Laika to do a dreadful job in the dreaded industrial zone, with water instead of money for wages. Perhaps the reprint of “The Forbidden Garden” had something to do with Princess, which had reprinted several old serials from Tammy and Jinty in her final issues, including “Stefa’s Heart of Stone“, “Horse from the Sea” and “The Dream House”. However, it is a bit surprising that Tammy chose to start reprinting a long serial when she was set for an August cancellation, and it is unlikely that Girl would have had the room to finish the story. So one wonders how the reprint would have been finished off. In the previous issue, the story had a double-up spread, but that is not the case here. Perhaps once Cora was finished, there would have been more double-ups until the merger.

“Secret Sisters” starts in this issue, but sadly never got beyond episode one. Jill Paget is an adopted child who wishes she had siblings. Then she finds out she has three sisters who were adopted separately and wants to find them. Next week is supposed to include a “surprise move”, but we never find out what it is.

In “Pam of Pond Hill”, Pam is set to move on to Tess Bradshaw, the third classmate she is going to stay with while Pam’s family are away. But all of a sudden Tess says she can’t have Pam and even slams the door in her face. The blurb for next week tells us that we are going to find out what is wrong with Tess, but we never do.

(Click thru)

Incidentally, Pam’s various sleepovers with her classmates have developed their characters and home lives in surprising ways. During her stay with Goofy, Pam was surprised to find that Goofy could be extremely determined when he fixed his mind on beating something. The trouble is, that determination could take him to obsessive levels. Pam’s stay with Di (Diana) has changed the life of Diana’s mother for the better. She is going to be less house-proud, just to satisfy the demands of her husband, while he is going to be less demanding of her.

There is no Button Box story in this issue. Instead, we have the last Pony Tale ever published, “Jemima and the Arabian”. The Arabian is proving a bit too spirited for the stablehands until the horse strikes a surprise friendship with a cat called Jemima. Next week we are promised a complete tennis story, but we never get it.

“I’m Her – She’s Me!” is Phil Gascoine’s last, and incomplete, story for Tammy. Nice Paula Holmes and nasty Natalie Peters have somehow switched bodies after a strange lightning strike. Natalie is all set to explore new avenues of nastiness under her new identity while Paula is desperate to get help. She finally does so in this episode, where she manages to convince her ballet teacher of what happened. But then they strike new problems – Natalie has now gone and broken one of the legs in Paula’s body, and then Natalie’s unfit father shows up and is trying to drag Paula, in Natalie’s body, back home, where he has something unpleasant in mind for her. We never find out if the ballet teacher manages to rescue her, how the girls get their bodies back, or, for that matter, just how that bolt of lightning caused them to switch bodies in the first place.

(Click thru)

And now we come to the most frustrating part of Tammy’s sudden disappearance – the penultimate episode of “Cora Can’t Lose” with no final episode ever coming after. When this story came out, it really had me hooked and I was anxious to find out what was going to happen in the final episode. From the sound of comments on the Internet, so were a lot of other readers.

Cora Street has gone on an obsessive sports cup-winning frenzy to win the respect of her parents, who kept sneering at her for not winning sports trophies as they did when they were at school. But this is putting Cora’s life in danger, because she cares more about winning the trophy her mother failed to win than seeking treatment for a head injury that is currently affecting her vision and hearing and will ultimately kill her if left untreated. Not even the identikit issued by the hospital in this episode brings her to her senses. And now the injury is causing another problem: it may have caused Cora to unwittingly spike her main rival during an event. If she’s right, she could face disqualification and be out of the running for the cup.

Final note: The ending of “The Forbidden Garden” is known because it is a Jinty reprint, and a summary of the story can be found on this site. If anyone has any information on how the other unfinished stories would have ended, they are welcome to drop a line here.

 

 

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!”