Tag Archives: Human Zoo

Jinty 30 December 1978

Jinty cover 30 December 1978

  • The Girl Who Never Was (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • “Wally” Glad You’re a Winner? (limerick competition results)
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • No Cheers for Cherry (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Sea Sister (Peter Wilkes)
  • She Shall Have Music (artist Ron Smith)
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Marked “Personal” – the file on Peter Dowell
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty (cartoon)
  • The Human Zoo (artist Guy Peeters)
  • D.I.Y. Decorations!

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?

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Jinty 25 November 1978

Jinty cover 25 November 1978

  • The Girl Who Never Was (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • “Wally” Glad You’re a Winner? (limerick competition results)
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • No Cheers for Cherry (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Friendship Formulas (feature)
  • The Gift of Christmas Present Making! (feature)
  • She Shall Have Music (artist Ron Smith)
  • Sea Sister (Peter Wilkes)
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Human Zoo (artist Guy Peeters)

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.

Jinty and Penny 6 September 1980

cover-19800906

Stories in this issue:

(Cover artist: Mario Capaldi)

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Girl the World Forgot (artist and Veronica Weir) – first episode
  • Tears of a Clown (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • 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.

The Human Zoo (1978-9)

Sample Images

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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 as Als beesten en een kooi (like animals in a cage)

Plot

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…

Thoughts

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 them to use? Oh, really!

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”.

Pat Mills: Interview

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

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

Known stories (Jinty)

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

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

Tammy

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

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

Misty

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

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

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

Pat Mills: No, none of those are mine.

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

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

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

I wrote “Captives of Madam Karma” in Sandie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jinty 11 November 1978

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Stories in this issue:

  • The Girl Who Never Was (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • No Cheers for Cherry (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Jinty’s “Fireside Book”
  • She Shall Have Music (artist Ron Smith)
  • Sea-Sister (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Human Zoo (artist Guy Peeters)

The exciting special issue mentioned on the topline and cover image is alerting readers to the Fireside Book four-page pullout. I generally read these pullouts while leaving them in the comic itself: did other readers pull them out? They mostly felt like just a part of the comic to me.

Tina in “The Girl Who Never Was” is playing hockey at school, and gets caught up in a trial by magic.

In “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” Dorrie and Max have been staying with an army pal of their father’s. He has sorted out a lift up north for them, with a lorry-driving friend of his – luckily for the lorry driver, really, because an accident happens on their journey and the lorry plunges into icy water! Dorrie pushes Max out of the window and urges him to go for help, while she stays in the cab to hold Fred’s head above the water. Will Max return in time?

Cherry Campbell is slaving in a hotel kitchen while feeling quite ill with a bad cold: but it all seems worth it when she sees recording star Eena Blair coming to the hotel for a meal. It is so exciting it makes her break into a song-and-dance routine, which leads to disaster and a sacking for Cherry! She is undeterred and does more singing and dancing next to her uncle and aunt’s barge – upon which she bumps into Eena Blair once more. It might be a lucky break for her…

Lisa Carstairs is still being obsessive in her pursuit of a piano for her to play. Maybe her old school will remember her talent and let her in? Not likely – “It would lower to the tone of the place, having a bankrupt‘s daughter here!”

New story “Sea-Sister” starts. Jane Bush has been travelling the world with her parents, who are artists, but now they have a settled home, finally. Unfortunately for them, the father uses a block of stone from a sunken village to mend a hole in the wall – and a girl rises from the deep to come and get it back! That girl is Helen, who has to get the stone from the wall before she can return to her ocean home – by whatever method, even if it means destroying the house that Jane has only just moved into.

Fran is stuck with looking after a race horse to save it from being nobbled by a couple of crooks – partly roped into it because owner of the horse is the darling nephew of Fran’s headmistress.

Finally in “The Human Zoo”, the Outlanders (humans living on the alien planet) have been led to a hidden paradise by a vision that Shona experienced. She sees some more visions, of her sister in a laboratory in the alien city. One of the other people in that laboratory is the father of Likuda, the Outlander who has befriended Shona. Dare they go in search of their captive loved ones?

Jinty 4 November 1978

Cover 4 November 1978

Stories in this issue:

  • The Girl Who Never Was (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • No Cheers for Cherry (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Gypsy Rose: Wicked Lady Melissa (artist Shirley Bellwood)
  • She Shall Have Music (artist Ron Smith)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Human Zoo (artist Guy Peeters)

Tina starts learning how to do some magic in this parallel world – she learns how to float an object with her mind. She tries it out on the hockey pitch but the results aren’t entirely positive – she loses control of the ball and it heads straight towards the headmistress, at speed!

Dorrie and Max are helped out by a passing war veteran who turns out to have been in the same regiment as their dad. He is very kind and feeds them at his own expense, but he can tell they are runaways – will he let the authorities know they are there?

Cherry lands in the water, trying to rescue her first press clipping that she was aiming to send home to her mother. Her aunt and family are less than kind, leaving her in wet clothing and making her work in all weathers. No wonder she comes down ill after that.

The Gypsy Rose story this week is clearly a reprint from an earlier title – Gypsy Rose is drawn in by another artist, in the chair where the Storyteller presumably sat. The in house artist who did this sort of work was called a bodger; this example is pretty well done, though Gypsy Rose’s face on the final panel is not quite as nicely done as it might be. In this story, wicked Lady Melissa possesses young Anthea once she starts using an old whip in order to play the ‘Georgian belle’ for a pageant.

The Carstairs family move into a small terraced house and start to get used to their changed circumstances. Lisa starts at a new school, but refuses to change her selfish ways: she won’t help her mother clean the house, she squeals like a baby when she gets a splinter in her finger at school, and she leaves school in a temper when she is prevented from playing on the school piano.

Last week, Fran served dandelion tea to all the staff at her school – or so she thought! Actually it had fermented and she was serving them all dandelion wine instead… ooops. The school governor, Colonel Wellington, was due to arrive any minute. How can Fran avoid him seeing everyone squiffy? The front cover of the comic gives a clue…

Shona encourages all the humans in hiding – her sister sends her a telepathic message showing her the way to a beautiful fertile valley where all can live in peace and safety.

Jinty 28 October 1978

Cover 28 October 1978

Stories in this issue:

  • The Girl Who Never Was (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • No Cheers for Cherry (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Wild Rose (artist Jim Baikie) – last episode
  • She Shall Have Music (artist Ron Smith) – first episode
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Human Zoo (artist Guy Peeters)

The cover image is drawn by Audrey Fawley – nice to see her in Jinty once again.

Tina is finding out how different the world she’s in, compared to the world she comes from. She loses a swimming match because magic is used to drain the pool; and in science class she is expected to learn how to turn base metal into gold! She realises that she is going to have to learn how to work some magic, pronto – but all the library books aimed at her age are far too advanced for her. She has to start learning magic from a book for 4-5 year olds…

Siblings Dorrie and Max are hiding out in an air raid shelter but have no food, and no ration books to get more. By the end of the episode, she has fainted with hunger and is lying in the snow!

“No Cheers for Cherry” is pretty depressing. She is being dreadfully exploited by her cousins and aunt; her uncle is a little better but again is basically out for what he can get – cheap labour and a talented actress in their drama troupe.

“Wild Rose” comes to an end – Rose finds out that the gypsy woman who had abandoned her all those years ago is really her mother, but to say so would be to cause unhappiness to the other baby in the switcheroo. Rose realises that her real happiness lies in going back to the family who brought her up – the circus family – and all ends well, because they have been scouring the area looking for her, too.

“She Shall Have Music” starts in this issue. It’s another redemption narrative, but of a considerably more unpleasant protagonist than Tina in “The Girl Who Never Was”. Lisa Carstairs is rich and a talented pianist – everyone in her life makes allowances for her because of those things, but she is also extremely spoilt and self-centred. In this first episode, her father loses all his money and everything is to be sold. Her reaction? “You’ve wrecked everything! Well, I’ll get my piano back somehow… and meanwhile I’ll make you pay for this day of misery!”

Shona is free from the alien circus ill-treatment, but has to find humans who she can live with. Even out here in the wilderness, they are hunted down by the Silent Death, as these humans call the telepathic aliens.

Jinty 21 October 1978

Cover 21 October 1978

Stories in this issue:

  • The Girl Who Never Was (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • No Cheers for Cherry (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Wild Rose (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Clancy on Trial (artist Ron Lumsden) – last episode
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • The Human Zoo (artist Guy Peeters)

The cover image on this issue is a memorable one – Mistyfan says it has stuck with her for years, since she first saw it. The colours are vivid and the picture of Fran as an Arabian ravin’ beauty could hardly be bettered! Poor Cherry is skivvying away – and to my mind, taking a back seat to dressed-up Fran, to boot.

Tina is finding out how the world that Salina landed her in differs from her own. Is it only this sorceress (or rather, Professor Salina PhD, Head of Sorcery Department at Benford University) who has mysterious powers? That’s what Tina persuades herself of, and with Salina out of sight, she thinks she has no very strong motive to mend her selfish ways. Cue complaints about her parallel universe parents’ cooking, and a forceful demand to have all the clothes and knick-knacks that she is used to back in her own world. At the start of the week, Tina is looking forward to starting school and showing everyone how much better she is than everyone else – but she is in for some nasty surprises, because everyone else is surprised ‘that new girl didn’t use any magic against Lindy when Lindy was swimming!’. What will she come up against in the next episode?

Dorrie and Max in “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” are stuck on a train that is blocked by snow – they entertain the passengers while the train is stopped, and earn their passage that way. The weather is against them as they continue their journey, and it is difficult to find shelter anywhere.

Cherry is being abused both emotionally and now physically – none of her family have thanked her for stepping in so successfully when her cousin wasn’t there for the play, and when a nosy parker Child Welfare officer starts asking questions, the family do a quick bunk. The aunt even slaps Cherry when she asks why they’re ‘rushing off like crooks’ and the smooth-talking uncle says ‘Your aunt didn’t mean to hurt you. She often lands our two a crack… forgot you weren’t one of our brood, y’see! Beginning to think of you as real family.’ What a lot of charmers!

“Wild Rose” hears the story of the mysterious gypsy lady – who turns out to be not her long-lost mother, but the mother of Susanne, the girl that Lady Vere thinks is her own daughter! How will this tangle be cleared up? Next week we are promised the ending of this story, so we will find out soon.

This is the last episode of “Clancy on Trial”. Her uncle, aunt, and cousin Sandra stand accused of trying to poison Clancy, and her parents are trying to keep them apart while the police come and take the accused away. The maker of the herbal tonic says she is sure nothing harmful is in it, as it all comes from her own garden – oh, apart from the odd bit taken from local hedgerows… and it turns out that this is the answer, and everyone is innocent. Things are back to how they were earlier, except that Clancy is determined that her grandfather should make her and Sandra joint heirs: ‘You made me your heir because you admired my courage in learning to walk again. But I didn’t do it alone. Sandra and I worked at it together, so you’ll have to make us joint heirs!’

Fran has disguised herself as an Arabian princess, complete with yashmak, to hide the fact that she still hasn’t managed to unstick her fake beard! But before she can sort that out, she is kidnapped by the guards sent by Sheik Abbis, who think she is Princess Natisha… Fran can always wriggle out of that sort of tight corner, though, with her skills at ventriloquy and perhaps more importantly her willingness to jump into the nearest duck pond to do a disappearing act. Luckily the duck pond turns out to be the answer to the beard glue, which the other bearded girls will be happy to learn! (Perhaps they won’t be so happy at having to jump into the pond, mind you.)

[Edited to add: at Mistyfan’s request, here are the pages from this week’s episode of Fran]

Fran the Fixer (with false beard) vs Sheikh Abbis. Jinty 21 October 1978.
Fran the Fixer (with false beard) vs Sheikh Abbis. Jinty 21 October 1978.

Fran the Fixer (with false beard) vs Sheikh Abbis. Jinty 21 October 1978.

Fran'll Fix It pg 3

Alley Cat is a light-hearted, light-weight gag strip that we don’t typically describe in these story posts. We have found out, via the Great News For All Readers blog, that the artist to credit is Rob Lee, so we will be indicating that from now on.

Shona is worried that she will soon die ‘on a planet millions of miles from home… and alone’! She has been rescued from the cruel circus but left in the harsh outlands and abandoned by the two-headed goat that has befriended her. Soon her friend returns, though, along with a whole herd – who cluster around her and warm her up. The herd leads her to another part of the outlands, where she can contact people who look human, like her. What will she find, once she makes that contact?

Jinty 14 October 1978

Jinty cover 14 Oct 1978

Stories in this issue:

  • The Girl Who Never Was  (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • No Cheers for Cherry (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Wild Rose (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Clancy on Trial (artist Ron Lumsden)
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Alley Cat
  • The Human Zoo (artist Guy Peeters)

Stuck-up Tina is finding out the fix she’s in – her parents aren’t really her parents, because Salina the Sorceress has sent her to a parallel world where she was never born – and where people can do magic! And Salina is just leaving her to it, to boot – clearly to teach her a lesson, because she disapproves of Tina’s ‘conceited and self-centred’ ways.

Sue and her magic bag Henrietta weren’t in the last issue, presumably to make room for the special International Velvet pull-out. (Nor was Alley Cat, also returning in this issue.) Sue’s neighbour is boring on about his big game hunting days, and of course Henrietta obliges in making them all too real! This is the first part of a two-parter.

In “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, Dorrie’s little brother Max gradually recovers from his pneumonia. Their kind temporary guardian, Mr Harris, is sending them back to London and the children’s home they escaped from, for their own good – but they give him the slip at the train station and head on their way again.

Cherry is keen to make the most of her big break when one of her cousins fails to turn up for the evening’s performance – but it means her dressing up as a man. Can she turn in a compelling performance? Yes – but by turning it into a comedy! Not everyone is happy, but the audience love it, and the dodgy uncle likewise. Not that anyone says as much as a thank you to her, mind…

Rose is finding out more about her mysterious past, while at the same time her graceful gymnastics gives us a beautiful cover image.

“Clancy on Trial” is reaching its penultimate episode – her kind cousin Sandra, and her uncle and aunt, are looking like they are going to be put on trial for attempted poisoning of Clancy. It turns out that the herbal medicine that Clancy has been glugging contains some dodgy ingredients! Are they innocent or guilty – with an inheritance at stake?

I love Fran and her fixing! Part of what I always love is the background gags, presumably put in by Baikie himself. Fran and her chums still have beards on from pretending to be a gang of window cleaners – they’ve managed everything else quite neatly, from being paid good money for their work to dealing with the school porter, Joggers (by pushing him into the back of the butcher’s van – said van being labelled with the name ‘T Bone’). Here are the last couple of panels of that story, showing Fran’s ingenuity and one of Jim Baikie’s little side-jokes:

Fran'll Fix It - textual joke in art

In the Human Zoo, Shona’s rescued from the cruel circus owner who is happy to let her nearly drown every night. Her previous owner, the alien girl Tamsha, rescues her with help from a group of like-minded animal activists. It seems wonderful to be free in the wilderness, at first – but then the cold wind begins to blow. Will Shona just be left to die in the cold, even though at least she is free?