Tag Archives: Hugh Thornton-Jones

Wee Sue (1972-1982)

Published: Sandie 12 February 1972 to 20 May 1972

Tammy 27 October 1973 to 21 November 1981

Tammy & Jinty merger in “Old Friends”, 26 December 1981 to 10 July 1982

Artists: (Sandie) Vicente Torregrosa Manrique. (Tammy) Mario Capaldi, John Richardson, Robert MacGillivray, Richard Neillands, Mike White, Hugh Thornton-Jones, John Johnston, Jim Eldridge

Writers (known): Terry Magee, Maureen Spurgeon, Iain MacDonald; Gerry Finley-Day also involved

We are now going to take a look at Sue Strong, better known as Wee Sue, and her development from her debut in Sandie to her final years in Tammy.

Wee Sue was one of the first stories to appear in Sandie. Sandie was launched on 12 February 1972 and ran until 20 May 1972, and was drawn by Vicente Torregrosa Manrique. Tammy readers would have been surprised to see how Wee Sue looked back then, as it was radically different to the Tammy version. It was a serial, not a regular weekly feature, and it was played for drama, not light relief. There was no “story of the week” format where Sue’s famous big brains would come up with ways to get out of various scrapes, being the bane of the bullying Miss Bigger, or sorting out someone’s problem. In fact, there is no Milltown, no Milltown Comprehensive, and no Miss Bigger. The logo was different too.

Wee Sue as she appeared in Sandie
Wee Sue as she appeared in Sandie
Wee Sue as she appeared in Sandie

Instead, Sue is a scholarship girl at exclusive Backhurst Academy, which has emphasis on sport. But it is facing closure, so Sue is trying to come up with a way to save it. Sue has other problems too, such as facing prejudice because she is a scholarship girl. Sue’s appearance is also different from the one Tammy readers are more familiar with. She is still a midget, but she has freckles and a more rigid bob style than the tousled one she would acquire in her later stories.

Still, the elements Sue became known for in Tammy were there from the beginning. She is always proving you should not estimate her because she is small. Indeed, her size often comes in handy. She has that reputation for brilliant ideas, particularly when she had to pull something out of her hat to save the day. Sometimes she moves in mysterious ways to do so, but she always knows what she is doing. She is always willing to help others, even more unsavoury types. She even sacrifices herself for them, often at the price of taking a dent in her popularity. She is not afraid to stand up to bullies and sort out nasty types. She is always kind, brave, thoughtful and generous.

The first Wee Sue story ended in Sandie on 20 May 1972. More than a year later Sandie merged with Tammy on 27 October 1973. Wee Sue and “Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie” were the only Sandie stories to cross over into the merger. Considering that the first Wee Sue story had ended in Sandie over a year before with no known sequels, the choice of reviving her for the merger is a surprising one. Were there plans for a Wee Sue sequel in Sandie that didn’t get off the ground but made their way into the merger? Or did the editor trawl through the issues of Sandie until he found something he thought had potential for the merger besides Uncle Meanie?

On the Jinty site Iain MacDonald has commented “…The other character I wrote and helped create was Wee Sue. Gerry Finlay Day suggested the character. I wrote most of the early ones.” It is not clear if MacDonald is referring to the original Sue from Sandie or the reboot in Tammy, but the reference to Finley-Day does suggest the latter.

Whatever was behind bringing Sue into the merger, it was an inspired choice. Sue became one of the most popular and enduring characters in Tammy. But for this, a sweeping overhaul of Wee Sue was undertaken. Former Sandie readers must have been taken aback to see it. 

In her debut episode in Tammy (below), Sue began to take on the form familiar to Tammy readers. She is now a regular strip with self-contained episodes (in later years she occasionally had two-parters and even mini-story arcs). She now has the logo familiar to Tammy readers, and she would retain it for the rest of her run. She has moved to Milltown, a poor industrial town. Instead of the posh academy she attends Milltown Comprehensive. There is more emphasis on her living in poverty, such as her patched uniform. The poverty angle disappears later in the strip, though her parents clearly remain working-class people. Sue still has her freckles from her original story, but her bob has a spiky look. The bob would later take on a softer style and the freckles disappeared. 

First Wee Sue episode in Tammy, 27 October 1973
First appearance of Wee Sue in Tammy, 27 October 1973
First episode of Wee Sue in Tammy, 27 October 1973

It is also the episode where Miss Bigger makes her first appearance. She, along with Miss Tuft the games mistress, are new to the comprehensive, and they make it clear they are both bully teachers. This is definitely the Tammy influence (dark stories laden with misery and cruelty) on Sue. Both of these teachers hate Sue from the moment they meet her. In the first episodes there is a harder edge to their nastiness. For example, in one episode Miss Tuft is determined to get Sue into trouble for theft although she knows Sue is innocent. The teachers also bully an autistic girl, who gets diagnosed thanks to Sue (very advanced for 1973!). Miss Tuft soon disappeared, leaving Miss Bigger to carry on as the arch-nemesis of Wee Sue. Well, there is room for only one arch-nemesis in a regular strip after all. 

Despite the harder edge, there are elements of humour. For example, in Sue’s first Tammy episode, she gets the better of Miss Bigger with the help of an onion johnny. As time passed, the cruelty, though still present in the form of Miss Bigger, would be reduced as the comedy took more of a front seat. Wee Sue evolved into a lightweight strip as she became more cheeky, wise-cracking, even mischievous, and often getting into slapstick scrapes. 

Miss Bigger remained as mean and pompous as she had been in her first episode, but she soon took on a more comic presence as well. As she did so, her features evolved from the rather flat, slim look in her first episode to becoming more wryly grotesque and tartar-looking. Mario Capaldi, Miss Bigger’s first artist, eventually gave her the distinctive jagged choppers that would gnash furiously whenever she shouted – which was often. Her nose changed too, becoming more distinctive, in a comical way. Under Robert MacGillivray it became an overgrown bulbous nose, similar to the one he eventually gave Uncle Meanie when he came over to Tammy. 

One reason why Miss Bigger’s appearance became more caricaturised was that Wee Sue passed into the hands of several artists who were strong on slapstick, caricature and humour. John Richardson, who took over from Mario Capaldi, was the first to take Wee Sue into this area, and his run on Sue was a long one. In fact, he took over in the same episode of Sue as Capaldi, on 14 September 1974, giving the readers the best of both worlds (or a lot of confusion, with the same episode switching from one artist to another). When Richardson took over, Sue took on a sharper, more clever look.

Deep dark secrets from Miss Bigger’s schooldays. Tammy 12 June 1976, art John Richardson.
Deep dark secrets from Miss Bigger’s schooldays. Tammy 12 June 1976, art John Richardson.
Deep dark secrets from Miss Bigger’s schooldays. Tammy 12 June 1976, art John Richardson.

Over time other artists continued the humour, though some brought it off better than others. Other artists to draw Wee Sue were John Johnston, Hugh Thornton-Jones, Richard Neillands, Jim Eldridge, Mike White and Robert MacGillivray.

Despite the grotesque comic looks she acquires, Miss Bigger is so vain beyond imagining that she actually believes she is beautiful. Her vanity extends to her abilities as well; she believes she is capable of any feat that borders on superhuman, including being a better ballerina than Margot Fonteyn or winning World War II single-handed. In one episode we see this vanity runs in the Bigger family: Miss Bigger shows Sue her illustrious family album of Bigger women, who all look like her and come up with grand schemes that make no sense and don’t look at all successful (below). We frequently see Sue take advantage of Miss Bigger’s vanity, either to get what she wants out of her or to fix Miss Bigger’s sneaky schemes or mountains of homework. 

The history of the Bigger family

There is also confusion about Miss Bigger’s first name. It was first established as Lillian, but later in the run it was Amelia.

From the first episode Miss Bigger gives the impression she is not a very good teacher; the onion johnny, for example, makes it clear that Sue’s French is better than hers. In another episode, Miss Bigger gives a German lesson, but her accent is terrible. Some episodes on Miss Bigger’s own days at school imply she has a dark past there: bullying and lousy school reports. 

Unfortunately Miss Bigger is also notorious for giving out such great big piles of homework that we suspect she does it to deliberately torture her class. She is also known for making the girls’ lives a misery if she’s in a filthy mood. For example, in a Valentine-themed episode she lumbers the girls with extra homework when they’re set to go to a Valentines Day party because she’s upset she didn’t get a Valentine. Frequently Sue has to come up with schemes to keep Miss Bigger in a good mood or placate her when she’s in a bad one, or the class suffers.

How the Allies won WW2 according to Miss Bigger

In the earliest episodes Miss Bigger wore a formal outfit. But later in the Capaldi run she acquired the more casual outfit that would stay with her for the rest of the strip: skirt and sweater (later a cardigan or jacket) and black blouse. This outfit became her trademark. In fact, in one episode Miss Bigger’s trademark outfit inadvertently starts a new fashion in Milltown called “the old frump look” after a rack full of her outfits (all the same outfit!) gets mixed up with a clothes rack bound for a fashion show.

Because Sue was the bane of Miss Bigger she was sometimes branded a troublemaker by school authorities. But what Sue was really known for was her big ideas to save the day. She could always be counted on to come up with a brainwave to fix any situation, such as helping her classmates and parents, coming to the rescue of people in trouble, foiling tricksters, bullies, criminals, and Miss Bigger’s mean schemes, raising school funds, and sometimes helping Miss Bigger. 

However, sometimes Sue really was naughty. In one episode, she takes a satchel to school that is so full of sweets it’s a wonder she doesn’t give herself diabetes, and she eats them in class. The sweets land her in so many sticky situations (including her toffee bar ripping Miss Bigger’s skirt and exposing her undies!) that she is right off sugar by the end of the day. It was in episodes like these that Miss Bigger was allowed to triumph against Wee Sue, so the bully teacher did win on occasion. But for the most part, Sue is a nice girl.

Miss Bigger frequently steals the credit for Sue’s big ideas whenever she sees the way to take advantage of it. This is something she gets away with a lot, but at least there is always a consolation for Sue, such as money, and in one instance, a trip to Spain.

Wee Sue remained a popular regular in Tammy, even having a special story to commemorate Tammy’s 10th birthday (below). Miss Bigger, for once having an inspired idea, takes the class on a tour at King’s Reach Tower for a behind-the-scenes look at Tammy. Sue falls asleep over the Tammys in the copy room, where she dreams of past and present Tammy characters. They all come together for a big birthday party, including Miss Bigger.

Wee Sue celebrates Tammy’s 10th birthday 7 February 1981
Wee Sue celebrates Tammy’s 10th birthday 7 February 1981
Wee Sue celebrates Tammy’s 10th birthday 7 February 1981
Wee Sue celebrates Tammy’s 10th birthday 7 February 1981

Then Jinty merged with Tammy on 28 November 1981. This was the beginning of the end for Sue. After a few weeks of not appearing in the merger, she reappeared as part of an “Old Friends” feature, which she shared in rotation with Bessie Bunter, Molly Mills and Tansy of Jubilee Street (the last of which being a surprise revival, having officially ended in the last issue of Jinty). In fact, Sue was the old friend to lead off the feature on 26 December 1981. Except for her first Old Friends episode, the Wee Sue appearances were entirely new material, as were the appearances of Tansy and Molly. This made them more refreshing to see. Only Bessie was on repeats. But it was clear that all four were on their very last legs. Sure enough, Old Friends disappeared with a revamped Tammy launched 17 July 1982, so Wee Sue was buried in the same grave as Tansy, Bessie and Molly. However, Sue continued to make appearances in the Tammy annual to the very end, though it was with repeats. 

Sue lasted in Tammy for a proud nine years, including her Old Friends appearances. But if you include the Sandie year, Sue ran for 10 years, which means she holds a joint record with Bella for longevity and one year behind Molly at 11 years.

Jinty and Lindy 27 November 1976

Go on, Hate Me! (artist Keith Robson, writer Len Wenn) 

Gertie Grit, the Hateful Brit! (artist Paul White)

Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

Rose among the Thornes (artist Jim Baikie) – final episode

Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)

The Big Cat (artist Ana Rodriguez)

Girl in a Bubble (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Pat Mills)

Is this Your Story? (artist John Richardson)

Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud (Ken Houghton)

In part two of “Go on, Hate Me!”, Carol dies in hospital, and her last words to Hetty are to win a race at their athletics club. But now we begin to see what the title’s about: Carol’s sister Jo wrongly blames Hetty for Carol’s death and she’s turning everyone at the club against her.

Ruth Lee has vowed to get back the family horse, Captain, who has been sold as part of a rough eviction. Her gran has passed, and her dying words were “take care of the big cat”. Now what’s that about? This week “The Big Cat” makes its appearance: a circus cheetah!

Sue has figured out there’s something about her new handbag, which she has named Henrietta. Whenever she puts something in it, something strange – and hilarious – happens…

Of late, Stefa’s efforts to turn her heart into stone have been really laughable. She runs away from home but can’t part herself from her precious statue – so she takes it with her on a wheelbarrow! Needless to say, that soon gets her tracked down. Now she’s sleeping on the lawn beside her statue rather than in the same bedroom as Ruth – even though she damn well knows it’s cold outside. She wakes up soaking wet and shivering from the dew, the silly girl. Then Stefa is taken aback to discover that Ruth has suffered an even greater loss than hers – three family members, yet Ruth is taking it far better and more bravely than Stefa is with just one loss. Will this finally melt that stubborn, stony heart of hers? It’s certainly time enough. 

In “Is This Your Story?”, Georgie Jones has a very bad temper and flies off the handle like nobody’s business, and her classmates suffer for it. They give her a day in Coventry to drive the point home that she must work on her temper. After that, Georgie counts to ten more when she feels her temper rising. 

The title “Rose among the Thornes” takes an unexpected twist in this week’s final episode: Rose and the Thornes work together to stop a cylinder containing poison from releasing its deadly contents. Then the Thornes beat a fast exit from the village once people begin to realise what they’ve been up to, so our Rose is now Thorne-less. Let’s just hope the Thornes don’t get up to the same tricks elsewhere.

In “Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud”, Maud is learning to ice-skate at the posh finishing school, but an employee named Georges has realised she’s not Lady Daisy De Vere. And from the looks of things, he’s going to pull blackmail on her. Meanwhile, the real Daisy, mistaken for a servant, is trying to escape from the cruel household she’s landed up in. After several failed attempts at escape she’s now going for the extremely dangerous one that’s been on hold for some time – climb the household chimney! 

Gertie Grit visits the court of King Arthur this week. Caractacus declares a wizards’ strike to demand Gertie back, so Merlin can’t intervene when arch-enemy Mordred marches on Camelot. Gertie tries her own hand at wizardry to help King Arthur win, but instead of her messing things up as usual, Caractacus sabotages her efforts.

After escaping from the bubble Helen has reached home – only to find another girl in her place. And her parents call this girl Helen too! Miss Vaal informs Dad that our Helen has escaped from the bubble, but he isn’t saying a word to Mum. In fact, he doesn’t even want Mum to see our Helen. Weirder and weirder! Then Mum really does spot our Helen. What will her reaction be?

We’ve heard of concrete shoes, but this is ridiculous – Alley Cat lands his feet in two buckets of wet cement and they get stuck. Fortunately he manages to make use of it, but we think it would be a good idea if he can get his feet back by next week. 

Jinty and Lindy 6 November 1976

Jassy’s Wand of Power (Keith Robson)

Gertie Grit, the Hateful Brit! (artist Paul White)

Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

Rose among the Thornes (artist Jim Baikie)

Champion in Hiding (artist Hugh-Thornton Jones) – final episode

Sisters at War! (artist Trini Tinturé)

Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

Girl in a Bubble (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Pat Mills)

Is this Your Story? (artist John Richardson)

Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud (Ken Houghton)

In Jinty’s fireworks issue for 1976, Gertie Grit does the honours when her time-travelling gets her caught up in the Gunpowder Plot itself (below). Funny – the biggest fireworks of this historical event seem to come from Druid Caractacus.

Gertie isn’t the only one in the issue getting a taste of the Tower of London. That’s where Jassy is about to be sent to as well. It’s the fate of all those who claim to have psychic ability in this drought-stricken story.

The Thornes’ latest trick is play “ghost” to get their hands on the magistrate’s property, but Rose’s gran turns the tables by scaring the Thornes with the same ruse. Halloween was last week, you Thornes!

Ruth finds out the reason for “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” and starts a “Melt Stefa” campaign with her classmates to soften it. But from the looks of things, not even global warming would “melt Stefa”. However, jealousy is proving more effective; Stefa gets her nose put out of joint when her parents start treating Ruth like their very own daughter. 

Mandy in this week’s “Is This Your Story?” doesn’t want to share her brother with a girlfriend. She breaks them up, but her brother’s reaction isn’t what she expected. Her conscience pricks up and she gets them back together. 

In “Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud”, Maud finds a friend in a servant at the finishing school while Daisy can’t in the cruel household she has ended up in. The household is on holiday in the country and Daisy seizes another chance to escape. Unfortunately they catch up (again), and Daisy breaks a bone in her hand in the process. And nobody, not even the servants, has an ounce of sympathy for her there. Rather, they all laugh at what great sport it’s been chasing her.

“Champion in Hiding” ends this week. It turns out nasty Aunt Shirley and Mrs Blackmoor were in cahoots to stop Mitzi and Firefly from winning the dog championship, but win they do. Mrs Blackmoor’s furious and won’t pay Aunt Shirley because she failed, so Aunt Shirley is punished by ending up with nothing.

Helen’s back in the bubble and the sinister Miss Vaal manages to forestall Helen’s art teacher when she makes enquiries into what’s going on. Then Helen makes a bold move with the black book she stole from Miss Vaal to help her make a rush for freedom. Will it work?

In “Sisters at War!”, Uncle Jason runs away from hospital and camps out in hiding although he’s not well. Mum is furious when she finds out Sue has been helping to hide him though she knows about his condition. 

Spotty Muchloot and Alley Cat have another battle, this time with toffee. Well, we always knew Spotty was stuck-up.

Gertie Grit and the Gunpowder Plot
Gertie Grit and the Gunpowder Plot

Jinty 8 October 1977

Destiny Brown (artist Rodrigo Comos)

Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)

Guardian of White Horse Hill (artist Julian Vivas, writer Pat Mills)

Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

The Goose Girl (artist Keith Robson, writer Alison Christie)

Rinty ‘n’ Jinty (cartoon)

Berni in the Big Time (Berni Flint feature)

Stage Fright! (artist Phil Townsend)

Flight Home – Gypsy Rose Story

Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)

Cursed to be a Coward! (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Alison Christie)

I Spy, with My Beady Eye! (feature)

In this issue one of Jinty’s most enduring stories, “Guardian of White Horse Hill”, starts. Janey still gets nightmares of her parents’ death and clings to her teddy. This makes things difficult when she gets fostered out and she gets off to a bad start. Things look up when a beautiful white horse appears and Janey offers it an apple. Then it just seems to disappear…like a ghost. There’s not a trace of it or hoofmarks.

Alley Cat is pursuing apples too, from Spotty Muchloot’s orchard. Spotty goes to extreme measures to deal with Alley Cat – chop down the apple trees. Dad is very angry to find his entire orchard has been felled. 

This week’s Gypsy Rose story is a weird one to make sense of, and the protagonist in the story is clearly having a hard time making sense of it too. She’s an air stewardess who has a vision of an Indian boy named Rajan walking right off the plane in mid-flight. Nobody has any record of Rajan even being on board, yet she has a carved elephant he gave her. She asks Gypsy Rose for help, and they find Rajan was in hospital at the time of the flight. But yes, that’s definitely the carved elephant he made in woodwork class. He was going to give it to her on the flight. He thought it got lost in the fire that put him in hospital, but there it is in her possession. Okay, you confused yet? Nobody but Gypsy Rose seems to understand it. 

Destiny Brown has seventh sight, yet she never seems to foresee how to keep out of trouble. She has gone in search of her father, who has been accused of bank robbery. She camps out for the night at a funfair but gets caught. What are they going to do with her?

Sue’s got problems with seeing through a microscope and calls on Henrietta for help with a “see through” spell. Unfortunately the spell gets skewed because Henrietta wasn’t on the ball, with hilarious hijinks. Fortunately everything works out in the end for all those who got caught up in it.

Goose girl Glenda enters a wildlife poster competition, using her beloved goose as a model. Bird-hating Mum foils her again, but Glenda’s not wasting the poster – she’s using it to demonstrate against the local goose-hunting. However, she is not getting any support – except for the geese behind her. 

In “Stage Fright!”, Linda finds out why someone is gunning for her – Lord Banbury is leaving his mansion to her on condition she win the acting trophy that has been in the Banbury family for three generations. Everything points to Lady Alice being her enemy – but is she? Then Linda gets locked in. Her enemy again?

“Fran’ll Fix It” fixes a burglar posing as a policeman. But she could do something to fix things up for the poor gardener – she keeps accidentally dropping plaster casts on his head. 

In “Cursed to be a Coward!”, the crazed Madam Leo almost drowns Marnie and gets away with it because the police won’t listen to Marnie. Cousin Babs suggests confrontation time with Madam Leo, so she and Marnie go together. There’s a real face-off starting. How will it work out?

Jinty and Lindy 9 October 1976

Girl in a Bubble (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Pat Mills)

Gertie Grit, the Hateful Brit! (artist Paul White) – first episode

Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

Rose among the Thornes (artist Jim Baikie)

Champion in Hiding (artist Hugh Thornton-Hughes)

Sisters at War! (artist Trini Tinturé)

Jassy’s Wand of Power (artist Keith Robson)

The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)

Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud (artist Ken Houghton

Ian Mitchell – feature

We fill another October gap here. As the cover indicates, it is the start of a new serial, “Gertie Grit the Hateful Brit!”, but one thing puzzles me about it: why does the cover show Gertie Grit with long green sleeves when in fact she has bare arms?

Inside, Jinty seems to be paying Halloween some early homage with Alley Cat, who has a dream about a witch turning him into a worm. He gets used as fish bait, but the spell wears off in time for him to catch fish of his own. When he wakes up he really does catch fish, which have fallen off the back of a lorry.

In the first episode of “Gertie Grit, the Hateful Brit!”, Gertie hails from Roman Britain. There’s a definite Flintstones feel about Gertie’s home environment, but we don’t get much chance to see it before she steals a magic time-travel pendant from Druid Caractacus. Off she goes, and her first stop in time is the boudoir of Helen of Troy. Though it hardly looks it, Gertie’s is the face that launches the fabled 1000 ships when she mucks about with Helen’s makeup. Gertie then discovers Caractacus is following her through time to get his pendant back, but she isn’t going to let him do it that easily. And so the pattern is set for the rest of the episodes to follow. We are informed that Gertie meets Nell Gwynn in the next issue. Pity poor Nell…

In “Stefa’s Heart of Stone”, Stefa is trying to turn her heart into stone after losing her best friend Joy, which for everyone is more like “Stefa’s head of stupidity”. Stefa’s now trying to get herself expelled to get away from Ruth Graham, the girl who looks almost like Joy. However, Ruth keeps foiling Stefa’s attempts to do so. You’re not getting rid of Ruth that easily, Stefa!

In Victorian times, Lady Daisy de Vere and a skivvy named Maud have accidentally switched lives. Maud is taking advantage of a posh finishing school (shades of My Fair Lady), and this week she is trying to cover the fact that she’s barely literate by pretending to have an injured hand. Meanwhile, Daisy attempts to run from the horrible downstairs life she has landed in, but she gets recaptured, brutally beaten, and then chained to a kitchen range until she’s finished cleaning it. 

Hugh Thornton-Jones is doing double duty as filler artist for “Champion in Hiding” and “The Jinx from St Jonah’s”. In the former, Firefly foils some sheep rustlers but gets badly hurt, and cruel Aunt Shirley is still a real slavedriver to our protagonist Mitzi. In the latter, Katie attempts to reconcile a quarrelsome couple who keep breaking off their engagement. It succeeds, but in an extremely weird way that leaves us all scratching our heads along with Katie. 

Helen Ryan escapes from the bubble she was kept in for lack of germ resistance and even joins an art class. But then she feels horribly ill. Maybe she should have stayed in the bubble after all? Meanwhile, Miss Vaal discovers Helen has escaped and says “she will have to take the consequences”. Now that sounds very, very ominous…

In “Rose among the Thornes”, motorcycle roughs are raising hell in the village, and Rose discovers the Thornes are behind it in a scheme to shut down a café. She manages to foil that scheme but knows the Thornes will have another brewing soon.

Jassy discovers Mr Danby is taking advantage of her water-dowsing powers to extort payment and goods out of drought-stricken people. Her response is to walk out on Danby, but then she jumps from the frying-pan into the fire. She gets captured by Sir Harmer Jeffreys, the man in charge of the power plant. He’s heard the gossip about her and Danby, and whatever he’s got in mind for her does not sound promising.

Another extortionist threatens Sue, one of the “Sisters at War”. Sue gives in to his demands to meet him, but the blackmailer reckons without Uncle Jason. Uncle manages to deal to the blackmailer but then collapses with a heart condition. He swears Sue to secrecy. Then sister Sylvia jumps to the wrong conclusion about what happened and it’s “sisters at war” again.

Jinty 24 October 1981

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)

The Eternal Flame (artist Richard Neillands, writer Alison Christie) – Gypsy Rose story

Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (arist Hugh Thornton-Jones)

Full Circle (artist Mario Capaldi) – text story

Wednesday’s Child is Full of Woe… (artist “B. Jackson”)

Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)

Man’s Best Friend: Curious Dogs (feature)

Winning Ways – Badminton (writer Benita Brown)

The Warning Windbells (artist Christine Ellingham) – Gypsy Rose story

Badgered Belinda (artist Phil Gascoine)

The Bow Street Runner (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

This is the fifth-to-last issue of Jinty. The repeats to fill the dying comic are really telling now – we get not one but two reprints of old Gypsy Rose stories. The repeat of the 7-part “Monday’s Child” and so forth strip continues with “Wednesday’s Child”, who’s full of woe. In this case it’s a girl who is always grumbling, but she eventually realises how selfish and petty it is, and the final panel shows her becoming more positive. 

In “Pam of Pond Hill”, Tessie Bradshaw has run off to the canal in search of the girl she drove off with her bullying. Tessie has an accident there and is hospitalised. The story is really realistic about bullying when it reveals the reasons why Tessie bullies: jealousy, sensivity about her weight, too much responsibility at home, absent mother and overtime father. Dad decides to remarry in the hope it will help, but Tessie isn’t reacting well to it. And she’s also worried her classmates won’t forgive her for bullying although it put her life in danger. 

Tansy tries being a newshound, but when she tries to report news on Jubilee Street she comes up empty and decides nothing ever happens there. She completely fails to notice the things that get reported in the local newspaper later on. 

Sir Roger has a dream that Gaye will be hit by a car. As ghost dreams always come true, he is going to all sorts of lengths to protect her, which is causing all sorts of hijinks. In the end, Gaye does get hit by a car – but it’s only a pedal car.

The text story discusses how fashions go in cycles. But things go a bit far when a fashion designer from the future takes a trip to the present for ideas on how to reinvent 20th century fashions for her own time. Sadly, the time period she came from is one that never came to pass: the Queen Diana period. Perhaps it did in an alternate timeline.

The last remaining Jinty serials “The Bow Street Runner” and “Badgered Belinda” continue. In the former, tricks from nasty Louise mess Beth up on cross-country. At least Beth realises it was Louise who was reponsible and will be on the lookout for her in future. In the latter, Squire Blackmore brings some old hunting prints to the school and nobody seems upset by them except Belinda – especially at the one showing badger digging. The squire’s also having the school setting up vermin traps, which is another concern for Belinda in minding the badgers. What’s more, looking after those badgers is causing Belinda to lose sleep and it’s taking its toll. 

Jinty 17 October 1981

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)

Haunted Ballerina (artist Christine Ellingham) – Gypsy Rose story

Donkey Work (artist Mario Capaldi) – text story

Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (arist Hugh Thornton-Jones)

Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)

Tuesday’s Child is Full of Grace… (artist Jim Baikie)

Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

Winning Ways – Badminton (writer Benita Brown)

Badgered Belinda (artist Phil Gascoine)

Man’s Best Friend: Herding Dogs (feature)

The Bow Street Runner (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

Find Out About Where You Live – feature 

We continue the October theme by filling in a few remaining gaps in the Jinty October issues. This is the sixth-to-last issue of Jinty and she’s in her countdown to the merger.

Pam of Pond Hill has returned by popular demand and will continue in the merger. Her latest story features the debut of Tessie Bradshaw, “Ten Ton Tessie”, a girl who would go on to appear regularly and be known for her heftiness and love of food. In Tessie’s first story, where she is a new pupil at Pond Hill, she doesn’t get off to a good start because she is bullying. Her bullying goes too far and drives off her victim, Sue, in tears. Tess runs away in search of Sue (who showed up later) – and she is headed to the canal, a most dangerous area.

Tansy holds a rag week to raise funds for her youth club. But things go wrong, and Simon & Co deal to Tansy with something else from rag weeks. Tansy is left, shall we say, feeling a bit wet afterwards. Cindy Briggs of the text story “Donkey Work” is more successful in raising funds with her contribution to the autumn fayre – donkey rides in the school playground – despite things going mad-cap (just like her).

This week’s episode of “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” sets up the story arc to end the strip in the final issue of Jinty. Sir Roger deliberately failed his exam for the House of Ghosts because he thought Gaye would miss him too much. Gaye, who doesn’t know, is wracking her brains on why Sir Roger failed at floating in the exam when he does it very brilliantly. In fact, it’s how he gets away from her a few times in this episode.

Jinty is now using reprints to help fill the pages of her last six issues. So Alley Cat returns, and we are having a repeat of the 7-part strip on the old rhyme, “Monday’s Child is fair of face” etc. This week it’s Tuesday’s Child and how she teaches her selfish siblings to have more grace. The Gypsy Rose story is another repeat, “Haunted Ballerina”, about the ghost of a jealous ballerina who is out to stop others from doing the dancing she can’t do after an accident. You could also say the story’s a caution about picking up second-hand items – you never know what might come with them from previous owners, especially ones who’ve passed on. 

“The Bow Street Runner” and “Badgered Belinda” are the only serials left. In the former, Beth Speede sets out to become a champion runner so she can beat a prophecy that she has interpreted as her father’s life being put in danger. But she has a jealous rival, Louise Dunn, out to make trouble for her. In the latter, Belinda Gibson tolerates constant bullying while she secretly helps a badger sett. She gets worried when the local squire says he’s hunting vermin – could this include the badgers?

Jinty 19 September 1981

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

Dracula’s Daughter (artist Mario Capaldi) – final episode

Holiday Hideaway (artist Phil Gascoine)

‘Girl Called Scarecrow’ (artist Veronica Weir) – Gypsy Rose story

Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)

Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)

Man’s Best Friend – Toy Dogs

Stacy’s Posy (artist Mario Capaldi) – text story

The Sweet and Sour Rivals (artist Carlos Cruz)

Worlds Apart (artist Guy Peeters)

Winning Ways – Volleyball (writer Benita Brown)

Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

“Dracula’s Daughter” ends this week. The final episode has a four-page spread instead of the usual three, which further suggests this story was brought to a quick conclusion to help clear the decks for the merger. The extra page helps to develop the ending further and give things more room to breathe.

The ending: Everyone at Castlegate is relieved when Mr Graves decides to leave. He is returning to his old grammar school, this time as headmaster, after finding out its discipline has slipped so badly that its pupils are running amok, vandalising property, and getting into trouble with the police. Bully teacher Mrs Snape is leaving too, which is another great relief for Castlegate. She is transferring to another school, as she did not like her pupils’ company any more than they did hers – only to find one of them is going to follow her to her new school. Sonya, the popular teacher driven out by Mr Graves’ over-zealous drive to run the school on his strict grammar school lines, returns as headmistress, so the school’s even happier.

However, the ending doesn’t have everything being resolved with Mr Graves and Mrs Snape simply leaving Castlegate. It both surprises and impresses us by having Mr Graves develop and emerge less bigoted about schools should be run. He’s still a disciplinarian and wearing that dreadful, old-fashioned teacher’s gown that earned him the nickname “Dracula”. But he’s gone from believing his way is the only way to run a school to accepting that there is no one way of running a school. He’s also modified his view that fun does not belong in a school and should be kept in the home. Now he’s allowing some fun things at school and showing his pupils he has a funny side. His farewell gift to Castlegate reflects this: a complete collection of Dracula films to remember him by! The boys at the grammar school might get a surprise when they see the change in him. Perhaps even the teachers too.

Sadly, no improvement in the character of the horrible Mrs Snape, so there is a worry about the pupils at her new school. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all. At least she leaves Castlegate with a comeuppance of sorts.

The fifth dream world in “Worlds Apart” is now dying with its creator, Clare. Hers is the only imaginary death in the story that is not shown, so we don’t see how her dream world ultimately backfired on her, caused her death, and taught her the ultimate lesson about how horrible her dream world is. We are informed that the sixth and final dream world (followed by the conclusion to the story) will be a “horror film world”. Its creator is Jilly, a girl who seems to be in a perpetual state of fear. 

“Holiday Hideaway” is also approaching its conclusion. Hattie manages to save the family pretence (hiding in the house, pretending to be on holiday) from unravelling again. However, we are informed they are going to get “the shock of their lives” when they “‘come home’” next week. We suspect this has something to do with being caught out. 

This week’s Gypsy Rose story is a new one, not a repeat or a recycled Strange Story. Julia is bullied and called “scarecrow” because of her straw-like appearance and thin build, and being a bit timid. However, her scarecrow build helps one of her bully classmates (thin enough to slip out when they’re trapped in a barn and get help) when she has an accident. After that, everyone wants to be friends with Julia. However, Julia can’t tell them that she got help from a real scarecrow, which pointed her in the right path to take for help.  

In the other stories, the text story has Stacy dress up in period costume for a town festival. It brings back a ghost from that era, who presents her with a posy. Tansy believes she’s brilliant at general knowledge, but when she enters a quiz competition her history knowledge proves deficient and she gets landed with extra history homework. Coincidentally, Gaye does the same thing with Sir Roger, and even forces the poor ghost to wear a dunce’s hat. Suzie Choo brings Chinese themes to the school open day. Alley Cat wants to go fishing but doesn’t want to get caught in the rain. Instead of a raincoat he uses his bin for protection. The results are a bit mixed but work out in the end.

Jinty 12 September 1981

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

Dracula’s Daughter (artist Mario Capaldi)

Holiday Hideaway (artist Phil Gascoine)

Where the Heart Is (artist Mario Capaldi) – text story

Rosemary for Remembrance (artist Russ Nicholson?) – Gypsy Rose story

Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)

Man’s Best Friend – Terriers – feature 

Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)

Worlds Apart (artist Guy Peeters)

Winning Ways (writer Benita Brown)

The Sweet and Sour Rivals (artist Carlos Cruz)

Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy) – final episode

Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

We continue our September theme with a couple of September Jinty issues from 1981.

In hindsight, one senses this issue marks the first signs of Jinty’s wind-down towards the merger. The reason for this is that this week’s penultimate episode of “Dracula’s Daughter” feels like the story’s being brought to a quick conclusion. Only with the previous episode did things take a surprise turn with ultra-disciplinarian Mr Graves deciding to bend his rigid views that fun belongs in the home and not at school, and allow a comedy show in gratitude to the girls. By contrast, Mrs Snape (no relation to Severus Snape but definitely the same breed of teacher) turned against Mr Graves’ daughter Lydia because she mucked up her hopes for deputy principal. Now she’s bullying Lydia big time. Both things had potential to be developed further with more episodes. Perhaps the writer had plans to do so, but the Editor told him/her to finish the story fast, we’ve got to start clearing the decks for the merger. As it is, we’ve barely got into this turn of events, and then things come to a fast head when the girls find a phone booth vandalised. Nasty Mrs Snape blames them for it and drags them to the police station.

In the letter column, one reader asked for “Pam of Pond Hill” and “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” to be retired, believing they’d worn thin, and suggested more SF stories. In response, Editor asked readers to share their views and whether they wanted Pam to return (she had ended some issues earlier, with readers invited to ask for her back). The answer must have been a resounding yes, as Pam did return before the merger and then carried on with the merger itself. The Editor had no comment about Gloomy Ghost (its end came in the last issue of Jinty), which incidentally has a metal-detecting theme this week. 

“Angela’s Angels” concludes. The Angels are celebrating because they’ve passed their exams. Of course they know there’s a long way to go yet before they’re qualified nurses, “but it’s so rewarding!”. 

“Holiday Hideaway” shows no sign of a fast conclusion. Or, for that matter, any conclusion to the charade the family goes through in the name of pride: hide in the house because Dad doesn’t want people to know they can’t afford their holiday. And poor Hattie is lumbered with the job of keeping the secret safe from close shaves. This week it’s helping the family avoid being caught while a girl guide does their windows and lawn.

“Worlds Apart” is on its fifth dream world come alive and there is one dream world to go. So there is no ending for this story just yet, but it’s definitely getting there. Brainy Clare seems to have forgotten her humanity in her dream world of intellectualism. She only sees her classmates, who are subhuman “dullards” in this world, as lab rats in her research laboratory. Dullard rights demonstrators have rescued the girls and turned them loose into the wild, but it’s full of dangers and predators. Added to that, Clare is catching up with the girls. But then Clare suddenly finds her heart again when her superiors want to capture the “dullards’” perils all on television and she protests that it’s cruel.

“Tansy of Jubilee Street” carries on as usual. In this week’s story, Tansy becomes a marshal for a cycling rally. But things backfire when she unwittingly starts a rally craze in Jubilee Street.

This week’s Gypsy Rose tale is another recycled Strange Story. Nobody in the family but Susan appreciates Gran’s enthusiasm for herbs. Rosemary is Susan’s favourite. Susan takes some herb cuttings for the family’s new flat, but they don’t seem to flourish as well as they did at Gran’s. Gran appears and gives Susan some advice on reviving them – and then Susan hears Gran just died. Spooky! Not surprisingly, the herbs flourish after that, especially the rosemary.

In “The Sweet and Sour Rivals”, a bullying motorcycle gang causes trouble at the Chinese restaurant. They keep barging in and forcing the establishment to give them free meals. Instead of the police, Suzie Choo brings in a giant panda to drive them off, courtesy of the zoo and her Chinese friend there.

The premise of the text story, “Where the Heart is”, would be used again in Tammy’s “Telling the Bees” in Tammy, 12 November 1983. A Puritan girl finds a wounded Cavalier soldier and hides him while nursing his wounds, and romance begins to bloom.

Alley Cat’s on the back cover, in blue print. Melvyn goofs and brings Alley Cat light bulbs instead of flower bulbs. But when Spotty Muchloot makes trouble, Alley Cat puts the bulbs to good use against him. Meanwhile, Snoopa visits a hall of mirrors – and finds the one showing his normal reflection the most horrible.

Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (1979-1981)

Sample Images

Gayes Gloomy Ghost 1 1
The Arthurian legend according to “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost”. Jinty 5 July 1980.

Gayes Gloomy Ghost 2 1
The Arthurian legend according to “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost”. Jinty 5 July 1980.

Published: Jinty 22 December 1979 – 21 November 1981 (final issue)

Episodes: 96

Artist: Hugh Thornton-Jones

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: None known

In the vein of “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” and “The Jinx from St. Jonah’s” is this regular humour strip, which lasted from 1979 right up until Jinty’s final issue. At 96 episodes, Gloomy Ghost had a respectable innings, though not as long as Fun-Bag or Katie Jinx.

Jinty was not high on ghost stories, so there is some irony that her last regular humour strip is one to star a ghost, and also use ghosts and hauntings to raise loads of laughs with readers.

Our story begins at Stoney Hall, and initially there are three ghosts. They hate how Stoney Hall has become commercialised and they can’t scare anyone because the tourists are all unbelievers and don’t show ghosts any respect. They consider the caretaker’s daughter Gaye the worst of the worst. Two of them pack their bags and leave, never to be seen again. The remaining ghost, a knight called Sir Roger de Grohan, wishes he could materialise so he could really throw a scare into those tourists. The Amalgamated Association of Resident Ghosts and Haunters (A.A.R.G.H.) gives Sir Roger the ability. But when Sir Roger tries it out on Gaye, things don’t exactly go scaringly. Far from being terrified, Gaye is delighted at the ghost, and the two end up striking a friendship.

And so the premise is established for the rest of the strip. Sir Roger and Gaye become firm friends…well, most of the time. Much of the humour derives from their differences and character flaws. Sir Roger is gluttonous and always after food. He can be boastful too; for example, his iceskating ability (below) is nowhere near as brilliant as he claims it is. On the other hand, it helps to get rid of a bully and Gaye gives him the reward she knows he will love: food. He is also a coward at heart. Despite his being a ghost, people scare him more often than the other way around.

(Click thru)

Gaye’s flaw is that she has bit of a mean, bullying streak at times. Indeed, several other supernatural forces, including Henry VIII, meet their match in her. She calls Henry an “over-stuffed spectre!” and chases him off with a broom. Henry offers Sir Roger his commiserations about having Gaye for a companion: “Verily, thou has a right one there! And I thought I wast hag-ridden!”

Sir Roger, who prides himself on being cunning, often has to engage in a battle of tricks with Gaye to see who can outsmart the other. Often he proves himself crafty and also makes the right observation, such as Elizabethan gear suiting Gaye far more than a hideous disco outfit. Other times it is Gaye who wins in the end. And when it comes to getting out of scrapes they constantly land in (supernatural or otherwise), Gaye has the edge on brains.

How exactly Sir Roger became a ghost is not established and he is never given an origin. We can safely assume he died from decapitation as his head becomes separated from his body on several occasions. In one episode his head gets accidentally switched with that of Anne Boleyn! It is a pity this was not turned into a full episode. It would have been hilarious to see how Sir Roger goes with Anne’s head and Henry VIII getting the shock of his life to see Sir Roger’s head on Anne.

As Sir Roger is a ghost, a lot of gags derive from the other supernatural forces he brings in with him, such as his mother and father, both of whom wreak havoc on the hall with their demands. The mother is outraged Stoney Hall is sparkling instead of cobwebby, dusty and dull, and Sir Roger is not putting scares into humans. She is a match even for the bossy Gaye, who has to resort to a bit of cunning (a fake telegram from hubby) to get her to leave. But no sooner have they got rid of her when hubby himself descends on the scene. “Crumbs! Here we go again!”

None of the supernatural visitors are outright scary. They are more a nuisance. And of course much humour is derived from Sir Roger being a ghost and having ghostly abilities, including floating, walking through walls, and having the ability to materialise (which sometimes goes a bit wrong). There are also ghost rules to provide humour, such as keeping his sword and armour rusty, and be proud of it. In one episode Sir Roger gets magnetised and has to go through the indignity of a bath to become demagnetised, which comes at the price of losing the rust he is so proud of. He can only hope no other ghosts see him looking so clean and shiny or he will be the laughingstock of the ghost world.

Other gags come from Sir Roger being a real glutton who can eat you out of house and home. He could give Slimer from Ghostbusters a run for his money. For example, in one episode he steps in to make a plump teacher stick to a sponsored slim when she keeps taking naughty snacks. He says it’s all in a good cause – but his ‘help’ seems to include taking opportunities to grab the teacher’s food for himself. Still, he is so successful in slimming the teacher down that she makes a nice sum for charity. On the other hand, Gaye has noticed Sir Roger seems to be putting on a bit for some reason.

Much humour is derived from Sir Roger being from a different time period. Exactly what period Sir Roger is from is a bit inconsistent. Sir Roger’s outfit looks Elizabethan, but he demonstrates throwbacks to living in Tudor, medieval and even Arthurian periods when he was alive. Perhaps some of it should be taken with a pinch of salt, such as his version of King Arthur (above). The throwbacks to earlier times do have their own humour, such as clamping Gaye in the stocks, then she does the same on him to get her own back.

Sir Roger being from another time also lends to plenty of “man out of time” jokes where he has problems understanding the 20th century. For example, he does not understand fruit machines and gets frustrated when he keeps winning “groats” instead of the fruit. In the same amusement arcade he does not understand that the “shoot-a-spook” stall is not shooting real spooks and raises a complaint with the management.

Sometimes Sir Roger’s old-style views work out better than modern times. For example, we have to take Sir Roger’s side when he is shocked to see Gaye dress up in that hideous disco outfit, whereupon he exercises his cunning to see it’s destroyed. In his view, Elizabethan dress is far more becoming, and once Gaye puts it on she thinks it actually suits her very well.

Unlike “Fun-Bag”, which ended on a regular episode, the end of Gloomy Ghost is a definitive one. Sir Roger is offered the chance to join the Hall of Ghosts but deliberately fails the exam because he mistakenly thinks Gaye will miss him too much. When Gaye finds out, she lends him a bit of…um…help, and this time he passes. Gaye knows she will miss him, but she wants him to pass on to the Hall of Ghosts. And when he does, his luggage goes with him, Stoney Hall loses its last remaining ghost, and there is no scope for appearances in the merger with Tammy. The Gloomy Ghost is well and truly laid to rest.