Fran sure deserves the cover spot this week because of her latest potty antic – landing a horse she’s trying to protect in the school swimming pool! She’s really excelled herself this time.
Spotty Muchloot pulls another trick on Alley Cat, this time to keep him tracked and stop him pinching his food. But of course Alley Cat’s fast to detect it and turn the tables on Spotty.
Tina (The Girl Who Never Was) and Lisa (She Shall Have Music) continue to make their difficult situations even more difficult for themselves because of their selfish attitudes, because of which they can’t see beyond themselves or realise there could be different ways to handle their situations. At the end of it, it looks like Lisa’s in trouble in front of the whole school, but there’s a strange development for Tina.
This week, our space aliens in “The Human Zoo” demonstrate that in some ways, they are not as advanced as we first thought, and Earth has the upper hand over them in some areas. Shona and her friend Laika glimpse the aliens’ farming methods – which is done by hand ploughs and tools, and captured humans as (cruelly treated) beasts of burden – while Earth, far less advanced, has long since gone over to mechanised farming in developed nations. These aliens have the flying saucer, food replicator robots, a time machine and the flying skateboard, but they don’t have the frikkin’ tractor?! The logic to it is that farming machines would need repair and maintenance, whereas slave humans can be quickly replaced. Oh? For how much longer? The aliens are driving native humans to extinction, and it is getting too expensive to take ones from Earth. Considering how efficient and cost-effective Earth’s mechanised agriculture is by comparison, these aliens would do well to take a leaf or two out of our book. Well, on to the alien city, where things take a surprising but weird twist in Shona’s search for her lost sister Jenny.
A police cell? That’s the latest shelter for our runaway orphans in search of the home “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, as the police haven’t anywhere else to put them. Don’t worry, the door’s not locked. The police have to do their duty and send them back where they started, but our orphans are working – well, singing – their way to the policemen’s hearts.
Cherry gets an audition, but whether by accident or design, her mercenary relatives have dolled her up to such ridiculous levels that Cherry’s not on form for it. Can she recover and turn things around, or will there be no cheers for her again?
“Sea Sister” finds the stone she came for. The trouble is, it’s been set into a wall to fix a hole. And she’s growing attached to her new friend, Jane Bush, but she can only stay until she retrieves the stone. Things are definitely getting problematic.
Wheels of Death (artist Ken Houghton) – Strange Story
Di and the Dolphins (artist Eduardo Feito)
We come to 1982 in our Tammy June month round, and the Tammy & Jinty merger era. The following month, everything in the merger was swept away for everything to start new and anew in the new look Tammy on 17 July 1982. So the weeks leading up to it was clearing the decks, with double episodes of serials, some material cut from “The Human Zoo”, and new stories shorter in length, such as new Bella story starting here. The Jinty logo has shrunk, another sign the Jinty merger was on its way out.
Bella’s new story is the last Bella story to have the cover spot in the splash panel cover era. The story begins with Bella having nowhere to go but Uncle Jed and Aunt Gert, which usually means slaving for them until she finds a way to break free and pursue her gymnastics. She is astonished to find them coming over all nice to her, but they have a long track record of phoney niceness to her when it suits them, and this is no exception.
The merger regulars (Monster Tales, Old Friends and the Strange Stories) carry on as usual. Nanny Young, a new regular that started with the merger, and Pam of Pond Hill, which came over from the merger, will continue with the new look Tammy. Bessie, Molly, Tansy and Wee Sue are in rotation as the “Old Friends” regular, but they look tired and clearly on their very last legs.
As there are so many regulars with the merger, there is not much room for serials. One reader even wrote in during the merger asking for more serials and no more “Old Friends”. She got her wish with the new look Tammy, with “Old Friends” dropped and the number of regulars reduced, which allowed for more serials. Right now, we have “Di and the Dolphins” and a welcome reprint of “The Human Zoo” from Jinty.
The current Pond Hill story puts more focus on Pam’s boyfriend Goofy than usual. Goofy, a bit on the bumbling side, wants to prove he can be good at something. His choice is making and entering a soapbox racer in a derby. He is adamant Pam is to stay out of it and not help in any way, saying she’s too interfering. Trouble is, he’s making things too difficult for her not to interfere! It’s soon evident he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s bitten off more than he can chew, and he badly needs the help he so adamantly refuses.
Guest post: many thanks to Olivia Hicks for reviewing the Rebellion reprint edition of Land of No Tears and The Human Zoo
I have a somewhat fond, nostalgic relationship with Jinty, considering how little of it I have read. I had never (prior to this volume) read a complete Jinty story, and the real reason that Jinty occupies such a place in my heart is because it was the favourite comic of my mum, back when she was buying comics. So I was excited to see Jinty back in print, even if, on paper, neither of the stories particularly appealed to me. Land of No Tears! Uhm, ok. The Human Zoo? If we must. This was not, on the surface, the bizarre cruel science fiction that Jinty, through word of mouth and internet blog culture, had been distilled into for me. I wanted a Worlds Apart reprinting!
I had read about half of Land of No Tears! in the British Library, and had found it semi-engaging. The Human Zoo I had deliberately avoided. From the brief blurbs I had read, I had no interest in the story. So I settled down with my copy of the new Rebellion reprint, with my expectations quite muted. Warning: major spoilers for both stories follow (although I assume most of you have either read the stories or are aware of the plot!).
Land of No Tears! is written by Pat Mills and has art by Guy Peeters, and is about Cassy Shaw. She was born with one leg shorter than the other, and she uses her disability to manipulate those around her. One day, whilst undergoing an operation to lengthen her leg (which Cassy is dreading, because she will no longer be able to use her disability to get what she wants), the anaesthesia somehow sends her through time to a future where humanity has achieved physical perfection and a lack of emotion, and those like Cassy (with Grade One Deformities) are forced to work as slaves for the benefit of the Alphas.
The story is in many ways quite typical; there is, of course, a mystery to be solved (what is the secret of Cassy’s new friend Miranda, and her mother), a lesson to be learned (with hard work you can overcome), and a problem which can, conveniently, be solved with sports; in this case, winning a sports championship will result in the complete overhaul of an entire society’s social structure! Cassy is an interesting main character because she resists the ‘victim-heroine’ coding of many girls’ comics characters. In fact, at the beginning, Mills goes out of the way to make her cynical and quite unsympathetic. This is, of course, to make her character arc more striking; the selfish, cynical, bratty lone wolf has to become an inspirational team leader and motivator who works and trains hard, and thus redeems herself. I’ve read quite a few girls’ comics stories now where villainous characters are shown using disability as a cover for their actions, so there seems to be a thread of problematic treatment of disability running throughout these comics, which Land of No Tears! falls into. The idea of a society divided by physical and emotional ability is a solid science fiction trope, but I think it is telling that the only disabilities Mills shows are: wearing glasses, being overweight and having a bald patch. The comic really skirts over disability (apart from in the beginning, when we see Cassy monopolising it for her own benefit; something which Teresa May and her cronies in the Department of Work and Pensions already think is widespread). ‘But Olivia!’ you say, ‘It’s a comic from the 1970s, how in depth can it be?’ Well, when you consider what Malcom Shaw achieves with the topic of animals rights in the accompanying tale, I think it’s fair to critique Mills for not really engaging with how society demonises disability.
Upon rereading (and finishing) Land of No Tears! in this collection, my favourite bit was definitely the passage where we see how Miranda lost her hair. The image of the robot nurse singing to the screaming baby who is being burned was pretty affecting and grim, and definitely will stay with me. It was an excellent example of horror being utilised in girls’ comics.
I also enjoyed the character arc of Perfecta. Her battle with those dreaded emotions was quite well done. I felt the ending, where Perfecta damaged her spine was a bit too literal and on the nose as punishment for her actions within the text. I also felt that the central mystery of Miranda and her mother was quite an easy one to solve, but then I’m in my mid-twenties, so definitely not the target audience of a youngster reading it week to week!
Whilst I enjoyed both stories, I definitely preferred The Human Zoo to Land of No Tears! This one was a cracker! Written by Shaw, with art again by Peeters, The Human Zoo is about twins Shona and Jenny, who are abducted by aliens. Jenny is experimented on in an allegory of animal testing, and Shona is sent to a zoo with some other captives. There is more than a little ‘Planet of the Apes’ vibe in this comic, and the way Shaw explored human nature in this story was exceptional. At one point Shona becomes a pet for alien girl Tamsha, but is sent back to the zoo for being too rebellious. Tamsha then replaces her with a more ‘docile’ human, another school girl who is more than happy to ‘act the pet’ in order to secure a cushy life. Another excellent scene was when the aliens starve the humans in order have the equivalent of a Chimpanzee’s Tea Party. Shaw’s central message, that we ‘dehumanize’ animals in order to profit off them and entertain ourselves, was, yes, preachy, but he dramatized it so skilfully that it worked. He also showed tension well, by allowing us to understand both the aliens and the humans, but never letting them understand each other.
The Human Zoo crammed quite a lot into its sixty pages: animal testing, animals rights activists, the morality of having pets, the morality of zoos, religion, forgiveness; all this and more gets thrown into the blender, and some of the threads (such as when Shona inadvertently becomes a god to the humans who have escaped captivity) are a little underdeveloped. There’s also a suggestion that the aliens are responsible for such mysterious mass disappearances as the Mary Celeste, which was interesting but I would have liked worked out just a bit more.
Both stories end with a ‘was it a dream….?’ resolution. In Land of No Tears!, Cassy learns from her mistakes and takes her lessons forward into her old life. However, much more poignantly, Shaw has Shona and Jenny completely forget their adventures, erasing their character growth and dooming them to continue in their ways. I’m a bit of a Shaw fan, as this review evidences!
To conclude, I was sceptical at first about the two stories, but ended up thoroughly enjoying them: I think this tells us that girls’ comics are far more than the sum of their plot synopsises! Malcolm Shaw was a top tier talent; I’m glad that the Rebellion reprints are reintroducing people to his work. The volume itself is quite beautiful, and the use of blue and yellow spot colouring on the back cover is effective (although I wish they had kept the original trippy colours for the cover of Jinty #1). My minor gripe is that it towers over both my 2000 AD and Misty trade paper backs. The sight of a single Jinty volume peeking over all the others irritated me enough that I had to relocate Jinty and Misty to a new section of my bookshelf. Such is the price of bookshelf perfection.
You will perhaps have already seen the latest exciting information on the internet: Rebellion Publishing is bringing out two volumes of girls comics reprints from Tammy and from Jinty respectively.
“Bella at the Bar” is billed, appropriately, as “A modern day Cinderella story”. At 96 pages it is the right length to include the first two “Bella” stories but the blurb is fairly general and gives little away to the aficionado as to exactly what the contents are. It seems unlikely that it includes Bella’s later struggles to reach the Moscow Olympics or travels to mysterious Arab countries where she tutors princesses – or at least not yet, as this is billed as Book One. May there be many more!
Rebellion have chosen a strong pair of stories from Jinty to launch what is again billed as Volume One of (hopefully) a series: “The Human Zoo” and “Land of No Tears”. No cover is shown on the initial announcement on the Simon & Schuster website, but there are plenty of great images that could be used, of course. As with the Misty volumes, they have made sure to link the two stories in some clear way – this time rather than choosing the same author, they have gone for the same artist. Guy Peeters is an under-recognized girls’ comics artist and I am glad to see him get more attention.
Where possible, I am keen to link to the original publisher’s site. I see that the Bella book is listed as being one of the “Treasury of British Comics” line, but it is not yet mentioned on the specific website for that imprint. I found it on the Simon & Schuster website: I think that Rebellion have a distribution deal with them, which is presumably why it is listed there. I’m not quite sure why the Jinty volume is listed as being one of Rebellion’s Graphic Novels (a list that on searching seems to include “Charley’s War” and “Marney the Fox”, but also some less all-ages titles such as “Bleach”). It would be nice to see all the announced titles listed clearly on the Treasury of British Comics site, which is a good dedicated shopfront that is easy to navigate and use.
Finally, a word of warning to other sites announcing these two new titles and future ones in the series – be careful to attribute the creators and the stories correctly. “Bella” is correctly credited as being by Jenny McDade as writer and John Armstrong as artist, but in future Bella stories it will be harder to be sure of the writer. During Tammy’s era of printing credits, Primrose Cumming is known to have been the writer of the time – hopefully the publishers will check with erstwhile editor Wilf Prigmore in case there was any other writer in between those two times, but certainly Jenny McDade did not write all the Bella stories over the ten years that it ran.
“The Human Zoo and Land of No Tears” is billed as being by Pat Mills as writer and Guy Peeters as artist. The sharp-eyed reader of this blog will spot straight away that “The Human Zoo” is known not to have been written by Mills – although the writer is not definitively established it is thought likely to have been one of Malcolm Shaw’s. That uncertainty presumably makes it harder for the publishers to be clear about the authorship: in the circumstances they can’t just say straight out that it is by Malcolm Shaw I suppose. However, that lack of clarity will muddy the waters for others and I fear it will lead to a perpetuation of the unexamined notion that Pat Mills wrote the vast majority of girls comics – something which he does not himself claim, but which others not infrequently do on his behalf.
Following on from Mistyfan’s post where she had a go at translating a number of Jinty story titles into Latin, I am going to do the same for a (smaller) number of titles. Latin is not one of my strengths though, so I will be using a modern language – namely, Brazilian Portuguese. (I was born in Brazil and speak Portuguese fluently, though it’s a long time since I have had to speak it day in and day out, so there are definite rusty patches in my vocabulary.) won’t be doing as many as Mistyfan managed, but I will be putting a little commentary behind my thought processes so that will bring something different to the proceedings.
I started with “Combing Her Golden Hair“, turning it into “Pente de prata, cabelo de ouro” [literally, silver comb, golden hair]. I thought that it was important to stick to the allusive nature of the story title – it wouldn’t have been appropriate to call it something spoiler-y like “the mermaid’s daughter” or anything. Having said that, there is a song lyric which goes “Qual é o pente que te penteia” which might have possibly worked [literally, what is the comb that combs your hair?], but the song has specific references to Black Brazilian hair types so probably not a great match.
“The Human Zoo” is another nicely allusive story title in Jinty. The Portuguese for ‘zoo’ is quite long – jardim zoologico – so instead I turned it into “Somos pessoas, não animais!” [literally, we are people, not animals!]. I wonder if it might have overtones of political or racial repression rather than the animal rights references that the original story had – not that I think the original writer would have been against that sort of extension as such, but it might be a shift in meaning.
It wouldn’t be a representative sample of girls’ story titles if it didn’t have an alliterative title or two somewhere in the mix. “Paula’s Puppets” and “The Disappearing Dolphin” seemed like good ones to try. If you are going to reference a girl’s name then you have to match it to the locality it’s going to be read in – Paula would be fine to use as a Brazilian girl’s name but it wouldn’t alliterate with the word for puppet [marionete] so that had to be changed. I’d initially thought of using the name Maria, which is a very normal name in Brazil, but it seemed a bit too ordinary and so I went with “As marionetes da Mônica”. Another option might perhaps have been “Mônica dos marionetes” [Monica of the puppets] but the first one might be more likely to also mean that other characters in the story are being played for puppets by Paula.
“O boto que desaparece” is a very straightforward translation of the original title – it just means ‘the dolphin which disappears’. I didn’t think that this story really called for something cleverer – it’s a straightforward thriller / action story at its heart. It’s a shame to miss out on the alliteration though – not always going to be possible to transfer everything to the target language, of course! Perhaps someone whose Portuguese was less rusty would make a neater job of it. Having said that, I well remember that the popular film “Airplane” was rendered into “Fasten your seatbelts, the pilot has disappeared!” on its cinema release in Brazil – so it’s not always about a faithful adaptation, to be fair.
On our pages about translations into other languages (the one on Dutch translations is the longest I think) you can see a similar range of translation choices – some are fairly literal / exact translations (Wenna the Witch / Wenna de heks), some are very similar but with choices to match the local market more closely (Kerry in the Clouds / Klaartje in de wolken), some are about as allusive as the original (The Human Zoo / Als beesten in een kooi [Like Animals in a Cage]; or another great example is Come into My Parlour (1977-78): Kom maar in mijn web [Just Come into My Web]).
I find the cases where the translator has gone in quite a different direction to be almost more intriguing – did they think the original title wasn’t exciting enough? was there a risk of giving away plot twists ahead of time? – but then it was also in keeping with some of the other off-piste titles seen in some of the girls’ comics publishing. Of this last group, I think my top pick might be the choice to turn “Gail’s Indian Necklace” into the name of the Indian deity on the necklace, Anak-Har-Li – not a very obvious choice, and one which makes the rather run-of-the-mill original title into something rather more unexpected I think.
As the cover and letter page state, Jinty has returned after a 3-week absence due to one of those strike actions that always bedevilled IPC. The strikes contributed to the downfall of several IPC titles, including Tammy in 1984.
Magic is still causing problems for “The Girl Who Never Was”, not least of which is because she has a limited number of them to use. This problem leads to her getting grounded – magically – and she has a vital swimming contest to go to.
Sue should really watch her words when she asks for something from Henrietta. She has a job in a sweet job but asks Henrietta for a spell to prevent her from touching them so she is not tempted to eat them while selling them. But as Sue soon discovers, the word is “touch”.
The boot camp children’s home gets flooded while Dorothy and Max are shut up alone in the place. This turns out to be a blessing in disguise because it enables them to float away to freedom on an airbed, and the flooding will be a richly deserved comeuppance for that horrible drill sergeant matron upon her return. It might even be the end of the institution, thank goodness. But fresh trouble just has to be around the corner. Dorothy hurts her ankle, so their journey to rainbow’s end is put on hold while she rests it – in the wreckage of a German fighter.
Flooding is also putting an end to the slavery the aliens have put the humans under. And it’s all because the aliens are so terrified of water that they have never developed the skills to handle it. They can’t swim, and they have no water drainage systems, no watercraft, and no methods for coping with flooding – all of which humans have developed because they clearly evolved differently from the aliens. So the humans are free – for the moment.
In “Fran’ll Fix It!”, Fran is trying her hand at being a drill sergeant with the army of schoolgirls she has raised to protect a racehorse. However, the school gardener soon shows Fran how army drill should be done; he used to be a sergeant major.
Cherry finally gets her big break in stardom with her uncle, which gives her a break from the slaving her relatives have her do without her even realising. Later, Cherry sees another opportunity for an even bigger break. But cousin Michelle’s jealous and she wants a piece of the action.
Helen calls for a storm to bring down the cottage so the Ullapond stone can be returned home. But it fails to do so, and her secret is in danger too. If she is found out, she can never return home.
Lisa still can’t forget her piano. She finds it at an auction and gets thrown out when she conducts her usual naff behaviour to get it back. When Lisa discovers its new owner – the Mayor’s spoiled daughter – she resorts to breaking and entering to play it. Then the window slams shut on her precious hands. Will they become so damaged she can no longer play any piano?
This week’s episode of The Human Zoo was deleted from the Tammy & Jinty reprint except for the last panel. What got lost in the reprint? Shona and Likuda meet up with Tamsha’s new action group and the evidence they have collected of their people’s cruelty to animals, including humans. They remove Shona’s obedience collar (which looks like it has disappeared without explanation in the reprint because it has not got this bit), and Tamsha and her action group help Shona and Likuda reach the laboratory to find Likuda’s father and Shona’s lost sister.
Meanwhile, in the magic world, Tina’s still having problems getting to grips with magic. A further handicap is that she can only do one type of spell once. And her alt-parents have now received a letter from school that she isn’t doing too well magic wise. It must be a real affront for a girl who’s used to being top girl to get a letter about, in effect, poor schoolwork.
Henrietta is not keen on window-shopping. Her spells to get out of it end up with the surprise result of Sue getting extra pocket money, which she uses to take Henrietta on some real shopping.
The saga of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” continues. One of these days we will get onto this story, which is second only to “Merry at Misery House” for longevity. In this week’s episode our runaways end up at a children’s home that is definitely not the end of the rainbow. Wicked Witch of the West more like. The matron is a harsh ex-army officer who runs the place like a drill camp and makes poor Max run laps while carrying a heavy pack on his back. She doesn’t listen to Dorothy’s protests that Max is still weak from pneumonia. Now he’s on the verge of collapse.
Cherry’s audition is a disaster and even her uncle, who has been taking advantage of her without her realising, is disappointed for her. Then Cherry bumps into some old friends from home. Will they help free her from her sneaky relatives?
Things are looking up for Lisa’s father because his new job’s doing well. But not for Lisa, whose difficult attitude has made things so difficult for her at school that she is being bullied.
“Sea Sister” finds the lost stone from Ullapond, but can’t shift it because it is cemented into the Bush house. And Jane is finding there are odd things about this visitor of hers – such as her objecting strongly to Jane eating fish and collecting shells from the very depths of the ocean.
Fran is now in charge of minding a racehorse (his owner is the nephew of the headmistress). Among other things, she has to exercise him. And she’s dressed up like Dick Turpin in order to do it because she can’t find anything else! Didn’t this nephew have the sense to provide her with riding gear? No, from what we’ve seen of him, he doesn’t seem to have much sense.
The Swim For Life: A Jinty and Penny Special Story (artist John Armstrong)
Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
Unscheduled Stop – Gypsy Rose story (artist John Armstrong)
Mork ‘n’ Mindy: Behind The Screen (Feature)
A Spell Of Trouble (artist Trini Tinturé)
Child of the Rain (artist Phil Townsend) – first episode
Many thanks to Derek Marsden for the copy of this issue, which he kindly sent on to me.
Pam is on a roll – her ‘witch ball’ brings her luck or so she thinks, and indeed it seems to be the case. By returning it to its rightful owner, her school benefits from help to go on a school trip to France (which leads us on to a whole other set of stories).
“Girl The World Forgot” starts this issue. Initially it looks like an adventure story with a castaway plot, but later on it turns spooky. It is beautifully drawn by Veronica Weir, and through a comment on this blog we found out that it was also written by her too – one of only a very few cases where we know the artist and writer were the same person.
Kathy Clowne is bullied by Sandra Simkins, as so often in her time at school. This time Sandra paints Kathy’s face in greasepaint to make her up in clownface. Not realizing that this has happened, Kathy snaps when a teacher comments ‘What have you done to your face?’ and of course a punishment now looms – even though really it is all Sandra’s fault.
“The Swim For Life” is referred to as a ‘special story’ – it’s a complete two-page story that is presumably reprinted from an earlier title, but unusually it doesn’t fit into the mold of a Strange Story which was normally changed into a Gypsy Rose one. This one is a straightforward adventure story with a brave dog saving the brother and sister who went out in a speedboat and got into difficulties. There are no supernatural elements though, unlike in the Gypsy Rose story “The Unscheduled Stop” – which is likewise by John Armstrong. In this latter story, Jenny Shaw’s parents are arguing non-stop, until an unscheduled train stop shows her the reason in their earlier history for their bitterness, and a way to fix their future.
The letters page this week includes a letter from Sophie Jackson, a science fiction fan, who loved “Land of No Tears” and asked for more SF like that story and “The Human Zoo”. She also specifically said how much she liked the artist who drew both stories and also others such as “Black Sheep of the Bartons” and “Pandora’s Box”, and wanted more by that artist. Perhaps this was part of the reason why the Jinty editors commissioned “Worlds Apart”, also drawn by Guy Peeters?
(I also take this opportunity to comment on the fact that the form that you were supposed to send in with your letters, saying which your favourite stories were, has an issue number printed on it which is otherwise not shown elsewhere. This issue is number 320.)
Finally, it’s also the first episode of spooky-mysterious tennis story, “Child of the Rain”. Drawn by Phil Townsend, this story is flavoured with elements of the South American rainforest, which lends it particular interest in my eyes as I was living in South America at precisely this time. Despite this attraction, I have to admit it’s not the strongest story ever. Jemma West is a keen tennis player and hates the rain because it stops her playing – that is, until an accident in the rain forest, after which she starts to love the rain and to find it gives her extra strength and energy. It shares some similarities with “Spirit of the Lake” (mystery / supernatural elements, and sporting details) which we think is likely to have been written by Benita Brown – I wonder therefore if this story also might have been penned by the same writer.
Published: 12 August 1978 – 13 January 1979 (20 episodes)
Artist: Guy Peeters
Writer: Malcolm Shaw
Reprint/translation: Tammy and Jinty 20 March 1982 to 10 July 1982; Tina #34 1986 as Als beesten en een kooi (like animals in a cage); Jinty Vol. 1, 2018
Alien bounty hunters from a distant galaxy come to Earth to collect specimens to take to their home planet. They make no exception for humans, which they think are just animals like any other. Among the people who are kidnapped by the aliens are twins Shona and Jenny Lewis. (It is implied that suchlike kidnappings are responsible for the Mary Celeste mystery.)
The aliens soon make it obvious that they do not care for animal welfare. They lock animals (and humans) into obedience collars that give intense pain when activated. Once the spaceship arrives on the aliens’ home planet, all the Earth specimens are sold at a cattle market. Shona and Jenny are sold to different owners, which means they are forcibly separated. The story then follows the fate of Shona, who becomes an exhibit in a zoo along with other people, and her quest to find Jenny.
Shona also realises the only way to freedom is to make the aliens realise that humans are sentient beings like themselves and not mere animals. However, there is a huge communication barrier between humans and the aliens: the aliens communicate by telepathy and do not speak; humans are not telepathic and communicate verbally. A bridge between the different forms of communication needs to be found.
Fortunately the zoo owner’s daughter Tamsha cares more for animal welfare than most of her people, including her father. She notices Shona and develops a soft spot for her. Although she also thinks Shona is just an animal she makes Shona her pet. Shona tries to convince Tamsha of human sentience by doing some writing. Tamsha understands it is writing but fails to grasp it is proof that humans are sentient. During this time Shona also befriends Tamsha’s other pet, a two-headed goat, which will prove a key plot development.
Then Shona goes to the rescue of her fellow prisoners at the zoo, who are being forced into a cruel “chimps tea party” sideshow. This incident gives Tamsha’s father the impression she is a rogue animal and has to be destroyed. So he sells Shona to a slaughterhouse to be turned into food. Fortunately another alien spots Shona and buys her off the slaughterhouse in the nick of time.
However, saving Shona from the slaughterhouse is the only good thing he does for her. He wants to incorporate Shona in a circus act that involves a huge tub of water. This is a thrilling thing for the aliens, who are terrified of water. When he tries to work the act out Shona almost drowns because she can’t swim. Tamsha’s two-headed goat saves Shona in time. The circus boss is so impressed with it all that he buys the goat in order to recreate it all as his big circus act. When the cruel act of near-drowning is performed, the aliens go crazy over it and give a huge ovation afterwards. Tamsha is the only one who is appalled. With the help of some fellow aliens who are animal rights activists, Tamsha rescues Shona and the goat from the circus and releases them into the wilderness (she thinks she is putting Shona back into the wild).
The two-headed goat reunites with his own kind, and they take Shona to the Outlanders, a primitive Stone Age people who suffer dreadfully at the hands of the aliens, whom they call “The Silent Death”. She becomes very close to an Outlander girl named Likuda. The aliens remove the males, which they use as beasts of burden for farming and mining. They hunt the females for blood sport. The Outlanders are resigned to this and are also weakened by insufficient food to fight back.
All of a sudden, Shona gets strange pains in her head. Then she starts having visions of Jenny, who shows her a secret valley, which is full of luscious fruit trees. Then Shona discovers the valley is real and leads the Outlanders there. Now the Outlanders worship Shona as a saviour.
The pain returns and this time the visions of Jenny are horrifying. They show her being taken to a laboratory where the aliens perform experiments on her. There is also a male Outlander being used as a lab rat; he is identified as Likuda’s father, Lik. Shona and Likuda set off to rescue them.
To get back to the city, they hide in one of the vehicles used by the bloodsporting aliens. En route to the city they pass a farm where they see how male Outlanders are being used as beasts of burden. It is not only cruel but also surprisingly crude and primitive for such a technologically advanced race. The Outlanders use hand ploughs and tools, while the robots that force them to work until they collapse from exhaustion use whips. Shona marvels at why the aliens don’t use machines instead; Likuda says it simpler than machines, which can break down.
In the city Likuda and Shona meet up with Tamsha again. Tamsha has grown more vociferous in her animal rights activism and is part of an animal rights demonstration at the scientific establishment that is performing experiments on Jenny and Lik. The activists show they have been collecting evidence of animal cruelty, including a recording of Shona and the others arriving on the planet. The activists also remove Shona’s obedience collar. Note: this scene is deleted from the Tammy and Jinty reprint. In the reprint, when Shona and Likuda arrive in the city they just go straight into the laboratory. This deletion creates two plot holes in the reprint. First, what happened to Shona’s obedience collar? It has suddenly disappeared without explanation. Second, how come the alien scientists had Tamsha to throw into the cage with the humans?
Shona and Likuda find Jenny in a bad state. Lik explains that the aliens deprived her of sleep for their experiment, which is designed to make humans telepathic so they can communicate with them. Shona realises Jenny used her new telepathic powers to tell her where she was. They are about to escape when the aliens capture them. Jenny realises too late that she had unwittingly lured them all into a trap set by the aliens. The aliens are triumphant at finally making contact with a member of the animal kingdom (yes, they still have not realised humans are sentient beings despite their experiment). They throw them all back into their cages and throw Tamsha in after them. Looks like the demonstration collapsed.
Then the aliens’ weather control goes on the blink, which causes a violent thunderstorm. This is a shock for the aliens, not just because they are terrified of water but also because they have never known such weather. A lightning bolt hits the building and frees the prisoners. They make their way through the city, which is now flooding badly (looks like the aliens have no rainwater drainage systems), and sending off all the aliens into a panic. Shona spares a moment to rescue a drowning alien child. They make a boat out of a floating cupboard and sail their way out of the city.
They soon find that the flooding also destroyed the robots guards at the farm and freed the Outlanders who were slaving there. When the Outlanders see Tamsha and the alien child they are all set to tear them to pieces until Shona intervenes. She tells them that the flooding has only brought momentary freedom. Once it passes the aliens will go back to their old treatment of the Outlanders. Hiding in the secret valley is no good because the aliens will find it sooner or later. She persuades them all to go and help the flood-stricken aliens, because it is the only way to be free of them permanently and live in peace.
The Outlanders decide they have nothing to lose, so they put their hatred aside to begin a mission of mercy. The aliens, who have no skills in swimming, water navigation or flood control because they are so terrified of water, have been more badly stricken by the flood than Earth people would. Humans, on the other hand, have learned to swim, developed boating skills, and are more accustomed to water.
The humans have a lot of success in helping the aliens, and the water is receding too. Then they find a panic-stricken engineer. Using her telepathic powers, Jenny learns that the dam at the reservoir is about to burst. If it does, the whole city will be submerged and kill everyone. The aliens are trying to redirect the water, but the crucial valve is twenty feet below water. Of course the aliens have no skills in underwater swimming. However, Likuda and Jenny do, and they succeed in turning the valve. Sadly, Likuda gets her foot caught underwater. By the time she is rescued, it is too late. Likuda has sacrificed her life for the aliens.
Now, will the aliens appreciate everything the humans have done and realise humans are sentient beings, not animals? Or was it all for nothing and things will go back to what they were before?
It looks like the latter when security guards round up all the humans and throw them back in a cage. Then the city’s ruler frees all the humans and brings them all to a celebratory feast. The aliens got the message after all (perhaps it took a little while to sink in). Furthermore, it turns out the alien girl Shona rescued was the ruler’s daughter, so he is grateful for that as well as their saving the city. The aliens will now leave the Outlanders in peace and send the Earth humans back to Earth. The aliens will use a time machine to put them back on Earth the day before they disappeared so they will not have to face awkward questions about their disappearances. It also means they will lose all memory of what happened. All the same, when they arrive on the day in question, Shona finds she seems to know how a caged gorilla at the zoo feels…
This story is one of Jinty’s classics. It is one of her most popular and enduring stories, and is right up there with “Worlds Apart” and “Land of No Tears” as one of her best science fiction stories. Due to popular demand “The Human Zoo” was reprinted during the Tammy & Jinty merger. No doubt a lot of the votes would have come from “Pam’s Poll” in 1980. Indeed, a panel from “The Human Zoo” featured in the poll itself.
What makes the story so powerful is the allegories of animal abuse that humans themselves commit. By turn we see alien equivalents of bounty hunting, pain-induced discipline, cattle markets, zoos, slaughterhouses, circuses, bloodsports, beasts of burden, vivisection and even a hint of animal sacrifice. For this reason we cannot totally condemn the aliens for their treatment of humans, for humans themselves are guilty of the same things. The callous attitudes many of the aliens have towards animals are echoed in humans too. Just look at the attitude of Tamsha’s father, for example: “Don’t forget, they’re just animals, for us to use as we like.”
You would think such an advanced race would have more enlightened attitudes. However, it would be a mistake to assume any race that is technically advanced would be advanced in other ways as well. Moreover, it is easier to understand their coldness when we see this is a race that does not approve of soft emotions or tenderness. Sentimentality is considered as a primitive emotion and shedding tears a primitive action. After the Outlanders are freed, Tamsha is no longer ashamed to cry and tells the humans that her people have a lot to learn from them about showing emotions.
Fortunately there are kinder aliens among this cold-hearted race who stand up for animal rights. The aliens clearly are light-years behind Earth in regard to animal welfare, although they are far more technologically advanced than Earth. There are evidently no laws against animal abuse and exploitation. Hopefully this will change after the humans proved themselves to the aliens and the ruler himself proposed a toast to better understanding among all species. But then, animal rights are only a comparatively recent innovation on Earth itself, and in many places on Earth they have yet to take a serious hold. Still, at least it does exist on this alien world, and without it Shona and her fellow humans would never have escaped the animal abuse they suffered at the hands of the aliens. It is ironic that an experiment meant to make contact with animals becomes the bridge of the huge communication gap between humans and aliens and helps convince the aliens that humans are sentient beings and not animals. The alien scientists did not mean it that way; they were just out to score another scientific triumph with animals.
The emotional aspects of the story make it even more compelling. Shona goes through the pain of being torn away from Earth and her parents, and then from her own sister, whom she resolves to find. She is subjected to the horrors of being treated just like an animal, including a cruel circus act that takes advantage of her not having learned to swim. Even when Shona is finally freed from the abuse and joins the Outlanders she is still not safe from the aliens. Plus there is still the matter of finding her sister and maybe even returning to Earth. The story delivers quite a wallop when Likuda dies, and her death leaves an ominous question dangling over it: was Likuda’s sacrifice in vain or not?
The story is a bit vague about the aliens themselves. The name of their planet is never revealed; it’s just “the planet with two suns” (binary star system). The Earth humans just call them “the aliens” and the Outlanders “The Silent Death”. What the aliens call themselves is not known.
The aliens come across as rather arrogant and obtuse in assuming humans are animals and not realising they are sentient. Clearly they have not bothered with much study of the planet they have been taking specimens from. And it is implied that they have been doing so for centuries, as there is a hint they are responsible for the Mary Celeste mystery. Still, the concept is not entirely new. For example, in Star Trek: The Animated Series, there is an episode called “The Eye of the Beholder”, where Spock and Kirk are captured by the Lactrans, who think they are animals because they are primitive by their standards. (Perhaps this is the reason why the aliens think humans are animals?) The Lactrans put them in a zoo. Spock convinces the Lactrans of their sentience by mind melding with one of them and they are set free. That episode always reminds me of this story.
There are some aspects of this story that don’t look like they have been all that well thought out. For example, if the aliens segregate the sexes of the Outlanders by removing the men for forced labour, then how is it the Outlander women have children? How are they able to reproduce with the men removed?
Another more head-splitting example is the aliens using the time machine to restore the Earth humans to Earth the day before they disappeared. What happens when they approach the original time when the alien bounty hunters abducted them in the first place? Do they go through the whole ordeal again, come back once more with the time machine and their memories wiped, and then the whole thing starts all over again?
It also seems inexplicable that the aliens even need the Outlanders to be beasts of burden in the first place. With their advanced technology they could surely come up with something more efficient for farming and mining. And this advanced race still puts out hand ploughs and hand tools for their beasts of burden to use? Oh, really! Even Earth technology, which is not as advanced as the aliens’, has advanced way beyond that in farming.
Overall though, this is a very solid, powerful story that strikes a lot of chords and would leave a lasting impression on readers long after they have read it. A lot of readers would emerge from it thinking more carefully about how animals are treated. One reader wrote in to thank everyone involved for such commentary on animal cruelty and said she wouldn’t laugh at chimps’ tea parties anymore after reading the story. Some may even have considered vegetarianism after reading “The Human Zoo”.
Updated to add: Page from the Dutch translation, Tina #34 1986 as Als beesten en een kooi (like animals in a cage).
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.
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.
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.
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.