Tag Archives: Humour

A Spell of Trouble [1980]

Sample Images

A Spell of Trouble 1A Spell of Trouble 2A Spell of Trouble 3

Published: Jinty 5 July 1980 – 30 September 1980

Artist: Trini Tinturé

Writer: Unknown

Episodes: 12

Translations/reprints: translated into Dutch as Anne Tanne Toverheks [Anne Tanne Sorceress] in Tina 1984-85

Plot

For centuries, the Black family have been the richest and most successful family in Witcham. Nobody realises that this is due to their being a family of witches, and that is because they take great care to guard their secret.

Carrie, the youngest Black, urges her mother for a lesson on how to look into the future. But they get a shock when they do, because the sight that greets them is of a homely, stupid-looking girl. Even the two witches are revolted at how ugly she looks. Her name is Angela White and she is an orphan that Matron is desperate to get rid of because she’s a bungling, walking disaster area who can’t do anything right. Her stupidity and well-meaning ‘help’ in combination with her klutziness make her even more of a menace than “The Jinx from St Jonah’s”, who at least had a brain and could do some things right. Now Matron has finally traced Angela’s relatives, so it looks like she will be rid of Angela at last.

Consultation with Uncle Bertrand the family ghost confirms the worst: Angela is descended from the Whites, the ‘black sheep in reverse’ of the Black family, and she is on her way here to live with them. The Blacks grow even more repulsed at that thought when Uncle Bertrand foretells, “the Blacks shall fall by the hand of a White!”

But it’s too late for any spells to stop Angela, because she is already outside with Matron. Matron ‘persuades’ them to take Angela in by dropping hints of unpleasant PR for them in the neighbourhood by not doing so. So the Blacks take Angela in while concealing their dislike of her and being witches. After all, says Mrs Black, Angela is family, and instructs Carrie to be nice and use no magic on Angela.

Carrie pretends to be friendly but is finding Angela blithely aggravating. For example, Carrie’s cat Jasper gives Angela a wide berth after the klutzy girl accidentally steps on his tail. Uncle Bertrand walks out on the Blacks and refuses to return while Angela stays after she cleaned up his nice, dusty, cobwebby attic – and also ruined the broomstick that was the Blacks’ family heirloom. Carrie tries to scare Angela with her pet spiders, but the joke is on her when Angela compassionately sets them free in the garden. We have a sneaking sympathy towards Carrie when Angela tries to have her watch “Marmaduke Mouse” (bleech!) because she thinks Carrie’s pop programme is unhealthy; Carrie snaps and turns Angela into a mouse. But she didn’t bargain on Jasper trying to eat Angela while she is a mouse and the spell has to be removed – fast!

The Blacks try a spell to foist Angela off onto another couple. But it fails because soppy Angela thinks the Blacks will be heartbroken if she leaves.

A further complication then comes up: the witches’ coven has a rule that a non-witch cannot live with a witch family. So when the Witch Inspector finds out about Angela, she says that either Angela has to become a witch or the Blacks will have their powers removed.

Now Angela knows the truth about her relatives, and once she hears what the Witch Inspector wants her to become, she is repulsed: “I’m not a horrid witch like you and I never shall be either!” she tells Carrie. She won’t have a bar of becoming a witch. Carrie tries to find ways to make Angela change her mind, including an evil Egyptian ring to corrupt her personality and make her amendable to becoming a witch, but nothing works. The failures are due to Angela’s bungling as much as her resolve, and sometimes spells exploding in Carrie’s face as well, including the evil ring. The Blacks manage to stall the Witch Inspector with a spell to make Angela and Carrie switch bodies so Carrie, in Angela’s body, will impress the Witch Inspector with Angela’s ‘progress’.

But of course the witches eventually find out Angela has not become a witch and strip the Blacks of their powers, which fulfils Uncle Bertrand’s prophecy. No magic is very hard on the Blacks because they’ve never got by any other way and they depended on magic to be successful and rich. Mum can’t use magic to pay the bills, so she has to take a job, which she isn’t strong enough for. Carrie’s self-esteem plummets and her schoolwork deteriorates because she can’t do it magically (all right, perhaps cheat through it magically would be a fairer description).

Seeing this, soft-hearted Angela decides to become a witch after all so the witches will return the Blacks’ powers. Unfortunately she does this without consulting her Black relatives beforehand or getting their advice. They only find out once they find Angela’s note explaining what she’s done and has now gone off to the witches’ coven to show it – and also find themselves attacked by brooms that dopey Angela bewitched to clean up the place and then forgot to un-bewitch afterwards! Mrs Black tells Carrie to get after Angela, because anything could happen now that bungling idiot is a witch.

Sure enough, Angela is bungling witchcraft, just as she bungles everything else, and she hasn’t got the brains to use her powers wisely or discreetly. Realising her train is going in the opposite direction from the coven, Angela casts a spell that makes it go backwards, which leads to confusion and chaos for the angry passengers and the hapless stationmaster. Then she asks the stationmaster where the coven is – as if he would know – which makes him suspicious, and the witches’ secret is in danger.

The witches have seen it all in their crystal ball. They now realise Angela should not be a witch because she is too much of a bungler to do it right. So they agree to return the Blacks’ powers, but on strict condition that Angela is depowered and never allowed to become a witch again.

Now that the non-witch rule is no longer a problem, the road is clear for non-witch Angela to get along with her witchy Black relatives.

Thoughts

The Jinx from St Jonah’s meets Bewitched. Well, it sure has all the ingredients for a sitcom, having a family of witches meet their match in a bungling oaf of a relative who always goofs up, sometimes without even realising it. There are always loads of laughs for the reader in every episode, no matter whether it’s the Blacks or the White who get the upper hand. But it is always the non-magic bungling White who wins in the end, much to readers’ delight.

Trini Tinturé’s artwork is the perfect choice in bringing out both the witchiness of Carrie Black and the goofiness of Angela White, often in the same panels. Not to mention all the hijinks that ensue from Angela’s bungling and the sometimes-bungling magic as well. Tinturé was a very popular Jinty artist, and having her draw this story would have really added to its popularity. Indeed, “A Spell of Trouble” was one of my personal favourites when it first came out.

The Blacks themselves add to the humour too, most often when some things, including their own spells, go a bit wrong for them. They are not all that nice and can be mean, but they can’t really be described as evil or villains although they are witches. Anti-heroes, er, anti-heroines would be the best description. They’ve got their human touches and can come across as sympathetic, such as Carrie enjoying pop music programmes, and thinking the boarding school Angela tries to enrol at in one episode “belongs in a museum”.

When the pressure to make Angela a witch begins, the story becomes a battle of the wills, albeit still in a hilarious way. Angela may be a bungling idiot, but we have to give her full marks for resolve when she adamantly refuses to become a witch. We have to wonder where it will all end up. Perhaps Angela will end up as a toad, a transfiguration Carrie threatens her with several times. But considering Uncle Bertrand’s prophecy, we get the impression the Blacks will lose the battle. In fact, it all ends up where nobody foresaw, though the warning signs were there – that Angela is too much of a bungler to make a competent witch. The witches should have made an exception to the non-witch rule in her case, which they do in the end. It is fitting enough, and everything ends happily for both the Blacks and their White relative after all.

Bet Gets the Bird! (1975)

Sample Images

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“Bet Gets the Bird!” Jinty 22 March 1975
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“Bet Gets the Bird!” Jinty 22 March 1975.

Published: 22 March 1975 – 31 May 1975 (11 episodes)

Artist: Phil Gascoine

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: None known

Bet (short for Betty) has a long wait for a connecting train to take her to her boarding school, Forest Park School. To fill in time she visits old Mrs Carter, a friend of her grandmother. She finds Mrs Carter is going into a home and can’t take her beloved parrot, Rosy Posy, with her. Arrangements have been made for Mrs Carter’s nephew William to take Rosy Posy. However, when William arrives he strikes both Beth and Rosy Posy (but apparently not Mrs Carter) as a horrible man. Sure enough, he intends to strangle Rosy Posy at the first opportunity. Bet can’t let that happen, so she asks Mrs Carter to let her take Rosy Posy instead. Mrs Carter is worried about what the boarding school will say, but is persuaded when Bet says she could find a home for Rosy Posy with one of the day girls.

What this really means, though, is breaking school rules by bringing the parrot to school. Things get even more complicated when Rosy Posy’s squawks get her mistakenly enrolled as one of the pupils. Worse, teacher Mrs Cook is a tartar, so she is unlikely to understand if she discovers the truth. Therefore Bet has to hide the parrot, with help from Patty and Mary who share her dormitory, and keep up the pretence of a pupil named Rosy Posy at the school. This creates its own unforeseen problems, such as how to cover the homework that is supposed to be Rosy Posy’s. Bet finds herself doing double homework to cover up – and the first time she does it, the parrot messes up the homework book! So poor Bet has to do it again.

And of course there are the hijinks from the parrot. Rosy Posy is a very intelligent bird and whatever she says often seems to indicate she understands what’s going on. Other times what she says is well meaning but either comes out at an awkward moment or is misconstrued, which can lead to trouble. For example, one time Rosy Posy gets loose and ends up talking down the gardener’s telephone about “what a little pickle!” and “this is a nice kettle of fish! Help!” The telephone operator thinks there is some sort of emergency, and the gardener is surprised to find a policeman on his doorstep!

Other times the antics of Rosy Posy bring people their just desserts. For example, Patty’s grandparents celebrate their golden wedding anniversary but they have a most unsavoury guest – an old grouch who starts spoiling everything with his grumbling. But he’s allergic to feathers, and what with Bet having to bring the parrot because there’s nowhere else to keep her – plus more hijinks when Rosy Posy escapes from her cage – the day is saved for the grandparents.

It all makes for a very complicated situation that has lots of fun, humour, and animal appeal. But there is always the underlying element of risk and threat of discovery. Mrs Cook never finds out about the parrot, but there is one bully, Prissy, who does and starts blackmailing Bet and her friends over it. It is Rosy Posy herself who stops the blackmail, but Prissy tries to get revenge by poisoning Rosy Posy. Fortunately Bet finds out and then pulls a trick on Prissy that gets her removed from the school.

This story lasted 11 episodes, which is a fairly average length for a serial but rather short by the standards of Jinty’s humour strips. Why did Bet not last longer than 11 episodes? There was potential to spin it out further. Did Jinty want to move on to other things and decided to end Bet to make the room? Or did she want to free up Phil Gascoine to start on “The Green People” the following week? Whatever the reason, the story ended on a regular episode, but with a strong note. When Rosy Posy makes a good recovery from an accident, Bet tells Rosy how much she has missed her “even though you do get me into trouble sometimes!”

OuBaPo Experiment: Single Panels IV

In my latest OuBaPo experiment, I have been wondering what could be created with select panels that focus on villains, but with the original text removed. What new context or story could be created by writing new text for select panels on villains? Could some villains be turned into heroes? Could winning or despicable villains be turned into losers or something comical? Or losing villains into winners? Or could roles be reversed, with the heroes becoming villains? To create food for thought I have uploaded select panels featuring villains with the original text completely removed. The panels come from both Jinty and non-Jinty stories, but all are IPC.

villains-oubapo-12

villains-oubapo-1villains-oubapo-2-copyvillains-oubapo-4-jpgvillains-oubapo-3-jpgvillains-oubapo-7-jpgvillains-oubapo-5-jpgvillains-oubapo-6villains-oubapo-10-jpgvillains-oubapo-9-jpgvillains-oubapo-8villains-oubapo-text

 

 

José Casanovas

Catalan artist José Casanovas (1934 – 2009) was well-known and well-loved by lots of readers, appearing as he did in many British comics over a number of decades. His detailed, stylish, and above all fun art was distinctive and he was credited in various publications, so it is easy to pull together quite a long list of his work (though no doubt still incomplete). Many British readers think of him as a 2000AD artist – that is how I first came across his name myself – and therefore perhaps as an SF artist primarily. If you count up the stories he drew and the titles he appeared in, though, by far the majority of his work seems to be for the girls’ comics market.

The list below has been pulled together with much reference to the Catawiki database in order to fill out the non-Jinty stories, so many thanks to the contributors to that site. (I have included the numbers of episodes listed for each story as per Catawiki, to emphasize how prolific he was. I am fairly sure the records on that site are not complete but it gives a good impression of his work. Of course, please do send in further information if you have it!)

  • Tammy
    • Cinderella Spiteful (1971-72) – 20 episodes
    • Two-Faced Teesha (1973-74) – 10 episodes
    • Ella on Easy Street (1974) – 8 episodes
    • The Town Without Telly (1974) – 12 episodes
    • Wars of the Roses (1975-76) – 11 episodes
    • Babe at St Woods (1976-77) – 39 episodes (you can see some sample pages here)
    • Down To Earth Blairs (1977-78) – 25 episodes
    • Running Rosie Lee (1980) – 10 episodes
    • Tomorrow Town (1982) – 10 episodes
  • Sandie
    • The Nine Lives of Nat the Cat (1972-73) – 38 episodes
  • Princess Tina & Penelope
    • Have-A-Go Jo (1970) – 25 episodes
  • Jinty
  • Lindy
    • Sophie’s Secret Squeezy (1975) – 7 episodes
  • Penny
    • Pickle, Where Are You? (1979) – 10 episodes

Mistyfan has recently done a post about “Sue’s Daily Dozen” in which she made the point that Casanovas is known for science fiction. There is one science fiction story done by him in a girls’ comic, namely Tammy‘s “Tomorrow Town”, which I take the opportunity to reprint here as being a piece of art that would otherwise not be likely to get a showing on this Jinty-specific blog.

Tomorrow Town pg 1

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Following Casanovas’ death in 2009, Steve Holland wrote an obituary Bear Alley post here, drawing also on the Spanish-language blog Tebeosfera’s post here. (Do follow this last link to see some lovely artwork from an adaptation of Pollyanna done for the local market.) There was also an interesting comment on 2000AD fan blog the Prog Slog about Casanovas’ work in the boys’ science fiction comics market. He drew well-liked characters Max Normal (some Max Normal art by Casanovas can be seen here) and Sam Slade Robo-Hunter (after Ian Gibson had stopped drawing this latter character). He also drew a number of one-off stories in 2000AD, and a story in Starlord, and people characterise him as a 2000AD artist therefore. The Prog Slog comment here clarifies that: “Casanovas early work for 2000AD, Starlord etc. was sporadic. First appearance was a ‘Future Shock’ in Prog 70 (24 June 1978) a 1.5 pager called ‘Many Hands’. “Good morning Sheldon, I love you” was his next, a six page future shock style one-off written by John Wagner in Starlord 11 (22 July 1978). He drew another one-off Wagner [story] in Starlord 16. There’s a gap then until Progs 148 & 149 (January 1980) where he does a 2-part Ro-Jaws Robo-Tale. He then draws the 11 page Mugger’s Mile by Alan Grant, the first ever Max Normal strip (“The Pinstripe Freak (He’s Dredd’s informer)”) in the first Judge Dredd annual (1981). He goes on to draw more Future Shocks in Prog 220, 241 and 245, another Max Normal in the 1982 JD annual, and again in JD 1983 annual. In the 1982 Sci-Fi Special he draws his first Dredd proper, a 10 pager by Wagner – The Tower of Babel. His first Dredd in the weekly is the excellent “Game Show Show” 2 parter in 278/279, August 1982, Wagner again. He did the second ever ‘Time Twister’ in Prog 295, a 4 pager called Ultimate Video. And that’s as far as my data goes for now, by Prog 300 he’d done 77.5 pages: 32.5 in the weeklies, 10 in specials, 23 in annuals and 12 in Starlord. According to ‘Barney’ online (http://www.2000ad.org) his last work was in Prog 822 (Feb 1993), Robo-Hunter”. The tally of his pages for 2000AD and the like must therefore surely be far outnumbered by the 90+ episodes of his run on Dora Dogsbody in Jinty alone!

Sue’s Daily Dozen (1980-1)

Sample Images

Sue 1Sue 2Sue 3

Publication: 4 October 1980 to 3 January 1981

Artist: José Casanovas

Writer: Unknown

Reprint: Girl Picture Library #18 and #19 as “Spellbound!” and “Bewitched!”

 Plot

Sue Barker has just moved to the village of Hillcroft. Things do not go off to a good start because she is shy and finds it difficult to make friends, and her efforts to help always seem to go wrong. However, Sue finds out the cottage she is living in once belonged to Granny Hayden, a witch who was revered in the community for her “Daily Dozen”, which worked magic in helping people. Sue finds the Daily Dozen (book, spoon and cauldron) hidden in the chimney. The opening pages of the book bear the inscription: “The wondrous DAILY DOZEN within these pages, seek inside, and trace the secrets that I hide for things may not be what they seem, but help I give to all who dream”.

Sue has been challenged to produce an entry for the school cookery contest. She had not been confident about it, but now selects a recipe, “totties treats”, from the Daily Dozen book, and is surprised to see her cooking go off without a hitch. She is even more surprised to find the headmistress and severe cookery teacher, who are judging the contest, suddenly playing like toddlers after eating the totties treats! Sue wins the contest of course, and suddenly feels more confident about making friends now she has found the Daily Dozen.

Nonetheless, Sue is still a bit wary about the Daily Dozen (it is, after all, associated with witchcraft, which does not have a good press). But every recipe the family uses from the book seems to work miracles. Just one dab of the home-made cleaner from the book on the brickwork on the house, and every speck of dirt just melts off the wall, leaving it sparkling. Moreover, the cleanup reveals drawings of the Daily Dozen book, complete with black cats and broomsticks. Sue even acquires a “familiar” – albeit a Siamese cat named Ling-Su instead of the traditional black cat, after she treats him with a tonic from the Daily Dozen. Then a broomstick, cape and witch’s hat drop down from the chimney. Sue is a bit wary about wearing them in public while pedalling the wares of the Daily Dozen, though everyone else is pleased at the revival of Granny Hayden and more remedies, including one that cures a sick man. At one point, the Daily Dozen has to flex its muscles quite severely at Sue for still doubting it, although its remedies do nothing but good, even if they do look like…magic. Eventually Sue fully accepts the Daily Dozen when it helps her to foil two criminals – who very unwisely tried to steal the Daily Dozen.

George Smith the blacksmith is due to marry Anne the florist, and the vicar tells Sue that the Daily Dozen is part of an old custom that must be performed. Sue has no idea what this means, and nothing in the book sheds light on it. But after the attempted theft, the Daily Dozen gives out some clues. First, a note appears to say:

“Forge and anvil – tools of trade

Fair and flowery must be made

And when church bells are gladly rung

The Daily Dozen’s work is done.”

Then the Daily Dozen shows Sue visions. First are visions of the things the Daily Dozen and Sue have accomplished together, followed by a vision of George and Anne happily married. Then there is a vision around the weather vane of an anvil decorated with flowers – which then appears for real in Anne’s flower shop. The cauldron is there too, with more flowers spilling out of it. There is no explanation, except that it must be the work of the Daily Dozen.

Meanwhile, Sue’s friend Alison has been doing research on old blacksmith customs. She learns that in olden times, blacksmiths were so important that they had to be protected from evil spirits with rituals such as firing up the anvil to produce a bang, and the ringing of church bells. The pieces are now coming together, but there is one piece still to discover, which Sue does when she sees the cauldron wobbling. She looks underneath and sees there is a piece that fits perfectly into the anvil.

So on the wedding day, church bells are rung and the Daily Dozen cauldron is placed on the flower-festooned anvil, which is then fired up to produce the bang. Suddenly, the cauldron shoots up, along with the spoon and book that go with it. They all arrive back at the cottage, and their work is now done. So now they disintegrate into soot and fall down the chimney into the fireplace. But their legacy lives on, in a much happier community and Sue finding confidence and friends.

 Thoughts

“Sue’s Daily Dozen” was the last story José Casanovas drew for Jinty. And as Casanovas stories go, this is unconventional for two reasons. First, it is unusual for Casanovas to draw a supernatural-themed story, because his style is more suited for animal stories (“Dora Dogsbody”) or science fiction (“Tomorrow Town” from Tammy), so you are more likely to see him in stories with those themes. But here he is drawing a story with a supernatural theme. He was probably chosen because he brings off humour and the bizarre so well, and would therefore fit “Sue’s Daily Dozen”, which is a lightweight supernatural story. Even so, it is a surprise (for me) to see him bringing the supernatural to life here. The only other Casanovas story I have seen with a fantasy theme is “Sophie’s Secret Squeezy” from Lindy. There must be more Casanovas supernatural stories, but I wonder how frequently they appeared.

Second, Casanovas’ heroines are usually gutsy and proactive, and some are even unsavoury (such as the spiteful “Two-Faced Teesha” in Tammy). But here the Casanovas heroine starts off quiet and shy, and tending to stick her foot in it when she tries to help. Of course we know Sue is going to change into a more confident girl during the course of the story.

This story is also unconventional, for its portrayal of witches. It depicts witches more closely to what they really were – wise women who helped people in the community with herbal remedies – though it is unlikely they would have the powers of the Daily Dozen. Moreover, the villagers understand this completely, and appreciate and adore Granny Hayden for this, instead of lashing out at it in fear, ignorance, or at all the things they see that defy all explanation. In a village like Kettleby (“Mark of the Witch!”), Granny Hayden or Sue would be more likely to become targets of persecution, just like Emma Fielding. But here the locals are not frightened of it at all and see it as miraculous and helpful. Even the vicar accepts it, instead of labelling it Satanic, unchristian, or rubbish. It is only Sue who is worried about the Daily Dozen possibly having an evil side.

This portrayal of witchcraft (or Wicca) being a business run by wise women, not agents of the Devil, was touched on once before in Jinty, in Shadow on the Fen. But in Fen it was a dark and grim picture, with practitioners falling victim to witch hunters and superstitious, ignorant folk. But here it is such a relief to see the practitioner is not only understood but also embraced and loved instead of being hated and persecuted. And the Casanovas artwork is perfect, for not only bringing it all to life but also adding humour that enhances the message the story is wants to convey about witches – for no persecution would ever be allowed in a story drawn by Casanovas.

The Perfect Princess (1980)

Sample Images

Princess 1

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Princess 2

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Princess 3

Publication: 5 January 1980 – 1 March 1980

Artist: Trini Tinturé

Writer: Unknown

Reprint: Girl Picture Library #13 as “Princess Wanted!”

Plot

Orphan Sally Smith has been brought up in a succession of foster homes, none of which are good enough for her. She dreams of being princess, and is so obsessed with it that her bedroom is filled with posters of princesses and fairy tale castles, and even her reading is nothing but fairy tales. Her obsession is also reflected in her snobby behaviour, as she believes she must stay aloof from common people – even the ones she serves in the café run by her latest foster parents, the Grubbs.

Meanwhile, in the tiny kingdom of Burmania (so tiny it only has one town and one royal castle), a real princess named Victoria is anything but Sally’s idea of a princess. Victoria is a horror who constantly misbehaves, shows no respect for her royal heritage, her room is filled with pop idols and disco music, and she is the despair of her parents. When Victoria brings her favourite pop group, The Baddies, to perform at the ceremony to appoint her heir to the throne, this is the last straw for them. The king disinherits her and advertises in Britain for an heir.

Sally sees the ad and naturally seizes the chance. But she has no pedigree, so she makes one up, stealing the name and portfolio of one Lady Sally Hunter-Smith. She is shortlisted with three other girls. But in Burmania, Victoria is not pleased about being disinherited, and is determined to get rid of them.

On the way to Burmania, Sally nearly comes unstuck when another candidate, Lucinda, realises she is an imposter. But Victoria pulls a trick that has the plane landing in the marshes and the candidates arrive looking like walking mud pies. Lucinda is so outraged at the indignation that she leaves in a huff, forgetting to report Sally.

Sally’s secret is safe, but Victoria decides to get rid of her next. So at a masked ball, Victoria has Sally tied up while she takes her place, planning to cause trouble that Sally will be blamed for. But Victoria comes unstuck thanks to a dirty trick pulled by another candidate – who is then eliminated when it ends up in a catfight – and Sally is discovered tied up. Victoria manages to pass it off as a joke, but Sally finds her out and is watching out for her now.

Victoria pulls more tricks, but they backfire and have the king choose another candidate, Isabella, as the princess. Then Victoria pulls an itching powder trick that gets Isabella sent packing. Victoria plants the itching powder box on Sally that almost gets her sent home. But the king gives her another chance once he is reminded what a horror Victoria is. He has Victoria put out of the way by locking her in a tower. But then Sally gets a telegram that the Grubbs are coming for a visit, which threatens her secret.

Meanwhile, Victoria uses a cannon to break out of the tower, but it goes wrong and the tower collapses. Now everyone thinks Victoria is dead.

At the feast in honour of the Grubbs, Sally is surprised to see them cover up for her. Afterwards they explain that they have realised what she is trying to do, but won’t get in her way. They pack up and get out of her life. The same feast exposes Victoria as very much alive. She gets a scolding from her parents, but butters them up by claiming she has changed. To prove it, she is arranging a gymkhana for Sally, as Lady Sally Hunter-Smith is a top rider.

But in fact Victoria has now discovered Sally’s secret and has called in the real Lady Sally Hunter-Smith. They plan to expose Sally at a gymkhana, guessing she is no rider like the girl she is impersonating. But it goes too far and Sally ends up in hospital, while Victoria is in trouble with her father again.

Still, Victoria thinks she has won and gets ready for her coronation – where she will wear shorts and roller skates. She gets word from the hospital that Sally has lost her memory and takes advantage to fob Sally off with a cruel couple, the Grimes, saying they are her true parents.

But Sally regains her memory and makes her way to the coronation to be crowned – notwithstanding that she is dirty and dishevelled from her stay with the Grimes. Victoria’s cronies lock Sally up, but she escapes and makes her way to the coronation through the sewer just as Victoria is about to be crowned. Sally and Victoria start fighting over the crown, causing it to snap in half. The king decides the answer is to crown both Victoria and Sally with the two halves of the crown, and they will both rule happily ever after – well, for a short period at least.

 

Thoughts

Occasionally I come across a serial where I don’t know whether it’s just plain stupid or if it’s meant to be a take on something that is conducted in an oddball manner.

Such is the case with “The Perfect Princess”. When I first came across it in its Girl Library reprint I thought it was ridiculous and agreed with other online comments that it was one of Jinty’s worst stories, right down there with “Angela Angel-Face”. But now I have studied the original print, I have wondered if it was meant to be one of those stories that is meant to be a take on something and should be treated as a satire or parody rather than a weak, silly story. I encountered two such stories in Tammy, “Town without Telly” and “Granny’s Town” where I thought the premise was stupid, but then I began to wonder if they were meant to be satires, parodying TV addiction in the former and ageism in the latter.

When examining “The Perfect Princess”, it does appear to turn the concept of the fairytale right on its head and inside out. It starts right off with a girl who dreams of being a princess – the dream of so many young girls – but the girl is more like the haughty princess than Princess Aurora. She’s a snob – nobody and nothing is good enough for her, because all she cares about is being a princess. It’s an obsession that has been plastered over every corner of her room, much to the derision of other girls who see it. Worse, she’s dishonest – she lies about her credentials to make her way into the shortlist. Yet she knows how a princess should behave, unlike the real princess in the story.

Although Victoria is a real princess, she is the complete opposite of Sally or how a princess should be, both in her behaviour and what she puts up on her bedroom walls. Victoria doesn’t even mind her cronies calling her “Vicky”. Disinheriting a badly-behaved princess is not unusual in a fairy tale, but Victoria is not going down the road of trials filled with suffering and humbling to turn her into a reformed character. No, she’s going down the road of dirty tricks to get rid of rivals. The road that has been so frequent trodden in so many serials, except that it’s got such a distasteful flavour with a royal who is behaving like a spoilt little horror instead of a proper princess.

Victoria being locked in a tower as a punishment also seems to be a dig at the classic fairytale; there are many stories about princesses being locked in towers. But rather than waiting for a handsome prince to rescue her, Victoria resorts to ingenuity and a cannon to make her own breakout. But she shows no disregard to her crony’s warning that this could be dangerous, further showing how thoughtless she is.

The ending also turns the fairy tale on its head – rather than happily ever after being really happily ever after, it’s for a short while, because neither Victoria nor Sally have improved, and they glare at each other as they sit on the throne they are obliged to share. One could say that they both end up punished, because in a sense they have both got what they wanted, but they don’t like it.

So is “The Perfect Princess” one of Jinty’s weakest stories or is it meant to be a satire? It’s all up to how you look at it. In any case, it is difficult to totally dislike a story that was drawn by the popular Trini Tinturé.

Race for a Fortune (1977-78)

Sample Images

Race 1

Race 2

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Race 3

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Publication: 19 November 1977-28 January 1978

Artist: Unknown Concrete Surfer artist

Writer: Unknown

Reprint: Girl Picture Library #20 as “The Inheritance

Plot

Katie McNab and her parents are on their way to the annual get-together for Uncle Ebenezer’s birthday. It is an occasion they do not look forward to because Uncle Ebenezer is an unpleasant miserly type who is disliked by the entire family. But he is rich, and the parents hope to inherit from him, especially as their shop is doing badly. Their hopes drop when Katie arrives in a state for the party because she had to roller-skate all the way after helping out elsewhere and no buses. It looks like Ebenezer’s money will go to their snooty cousins Rodney and Caroline because of this.

However, Uncle Ebenezer told them all that whoever gets his money must work for it, just as he did. And when his will is read out after he dies a few months later, they discover he meant what he said. Whichever relative reaches his home village of Yuckiemuckle first, under their own steam and starting without any money, will inherit his fortune.

And so the race to Yuckiemuckle begins, between Katie and her roller skates, and Caroline and Rodney, who pull every dirty trick they can to sabotage her and get there first. And they don’t start under their own steam either – they get a lift for the first thirty miles and then cheat Katie out of a fancy dress prize when she was trying to raise money because she was not allowed to start with any. This happens every time their paths cross – they try to cheat her, but she always manages to win one way or another. Sometimes she gets her own back on them as well, such as tricking them into ‘volunteering’ for medical research, where they have to agree to catch a cold as part of the research.

Katie also starts a diary of all her adventures. It has plenty to record; as well as the threat of the cheating cousins, other perils come into play along the way, including bad weather, vultures and Roman ghosts. And there are surprises, such as the legendary Loch Yuckie monster. And is it a plesiosaur? Is it a giant catfish? No, it’s a fraud the Yuckiemuckle residents perpetuate to pull in the tourists.

Finally, Yuckiemuckle beckons, and the race for a fortune goes into the final hurdles for Katie and her cousins. They try to stop Katie by stealing her roller skates, but things backfire when the skates run away on Rodney. He ends up on the same bull that Katie is riding rodeo to make money. She takes back the roller skates and shares the prize money with Rodney, saying she comes from the honest side of the McNab family. But they don’t appreciate it – they are still trying to cheat her as the race goes across Loch Yuckie. Katie beats them once again with the help of the Loch Yuckie monster (she has agreed to keep its secret because the McNabs are respected in Yuckiemuckle). On the last lap, Rodney tries to outrace her on a skateboard (a foreshadowing of Concrete Surfer?), but again things backfire and Rodney ends up in a dirty pond.

Katie reaches Yuckiemuckle, beating her cousins by a margin. But Uncle Ebenezer has one last surprise for them (trust him!). After taxes and lawyers’ expenses were deducted from the fortune, all that is left of it is enough money to pay for their train fares home. It was all Uncle Ebenezer’s sense of humour and his wish that his young relations learn the meaning of hard work. Katie and her cousins are not impressed; Katie even more so when she loses the diary of her journey on the train home.

However, a publisher finds the diary and finds it so amusing that he wants to publish it. It is published as “Race for a Fortune” (presumably the part about Lake Yuckie monster was altered a bit) and Katie gets a fortune after all. Her cousins turn up for the book signings looking like they are trying to put a brave face on it, but not having much success.

Thoughts

 

In girls’ comics there have been two types of ‘quest’ stories. The first is the serious one, filled with perils and life-and-death situations and deadly enemies, such as “Fran of the Floods” or “Song of the Fir Tree”. The second type of quest story is one played for light humour. Though it still has its perils, it is not life threatening or the villains as dangerous as they would be in the serious type of quest story. In fact, much of the humour can come from the villains. This is the case with Katie’s cousins, who often land themselves in sticky situations when their tricks backfire or Katie gets one up on them. Or the humour may come from the good guys, such as in Tammy’s “One Girl and Her Dog”. Most of the laughs come from the goofy dog companion who has to be taught to growl.

Though goofy is not the word to describe Katie, she is still meant to have a dash of humour about her that heightens the fun of the story. For example, the gap in her front teeth gives her a slightly Alf E. Neuman look. And some of the scrapes she gets into, such as skating all the way to Ebenezer’s in her best clothes and ending up a mess when she gets there, also provide laughs. But Katie is not meant to be a klutzy character who provides loads of laughs every week, nor is she gormless or stupid. She is a very resourceful character who can survive on her wits as she makes her way to Yuckiemuckle.

Humour can also come from the situations the heroine and villains can encounter on the way. For example, Katie unintentionally has fun with Roman ghosts because she doesn’t realise what they are; she thinks it’s another of her cousins’ tricks. It’s only afterwards, when she finds out her cousins weren’t around, that she finally gets a shock!

Finally, you have to hand some of the laughs to Uncle Ebenezer himself. Though his miserliness is not meant to be played for laughs (such as in Judy’s “Skinflint School”), there is a dash of humour about him, such as the burr in his r’s, and his insistence that his heirs must work for his inheritance. And of course, there is his own sense of humour that gives the story a surprise ending. Or maybe not so surprising, as you might have known there would be some catch when you inherit from a man like Uncle Ebenezer.

The Sweet and Sour Rivals (1981)

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Sweet and Sour

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Sweet and Sour 2

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Sweet and Sour 3

Publication: 25 July 1981-26 September 1981

Artist: Carlos Cruz

Writer: Unknown

Reprint: Girl Picture Library #26 as “Sweet and Sour”

In comics, rivalry between businesses always had a ‘good’ vs ‘bad’ format, with the bad business out to pull every trick in the book to come out on top of the good one, which always conducted itself honourably. Sometimes this was done in a serious manner, with lots of dirty, dangerous subterfuge that could even threaten lives. Other times it was done in a comic manner, with the ‘bad’ business getting a comeuppance every week. The best-known example of this is “Store Wars” from Whizzer & Chips.

The humour format of the good business vs bad business was used in one of Jinty’s last humour stories, “The Sweet and Sour Rivals”. The rivalry is over two restaurants: the newly-opened Choo’s Chinese Restaurant and Riverside Cordon Bleu Restaurant, which is the snobbiest restaurant in town and charges the highest prices. But the rivalry is not fought by the owners but by their daughters, Susie Choo and Abigail Beaton. Abigail is just as snooty as the restaurant and recruits help from class bullies Janet and Debbie to find ways to bring Suzie and her restaurant down. Fortunately Suzie has a friend too – Mandy Mead – who thought her school was as dull as dishwater until Suzie joined the class. But Mandy was instantly struck at how Suzie could play brilliantly at hockey after the bullies smash her stick (she’s used to chopsticks) and be such a whiz at mental arithmetic (because she orders things by numbers) and now thinks school is going to be fun with Suzie around.

Indeed it is fun, but it is not free from trouble. Abigail and the two bullies are out to sabotage things for Suzie and her restaurant. For example, they smash the sign Suzie has created to advertise the new restaurant, set motorcycling toughs to bully the Choos into giving them free meals, and recruit a parking warden “Dora the Dragon” (with offers of a free meal) to harass the restaurant with unfair parking tickets. But they always fail in the end, due to a combination of Suzie’s ingenuity and a dash of her Chinese culture. For example, Susie turns the smashed sign into a model Chinese junk and floats it around on the river as an advertising stunt. A fierce-looking (but harmless) panda is let loose in the restaurant to scare the motorcycle bullies off. Dora the Dragon meets her downfall from a Chinese dragon that the Choos are using for more advertising. The school bullies are blackmailed into carting Suzie and Mandy back to school in makeshift Chinese rickshaws.

It all climaxes at the school open day fete. The Choos set up a Chinese food stall, and Abigail sets out to make them look fools by poking fun at Chinese food names and then setting dogs on the stall (a reference to the Chinese dog-eating culture). But Suzie beats the dogs with a great wall of china – real china. The final panel has Mandy saying to readers that Suzie is her old ‘china’ – Cockney slang for mate.

How PC all the Chinese references and play on Chinese culture and words would be in today’s climate is anyone’s guess. But it is a nice change to have an ethnic girl as the star of the show, something that didn’t appear much in Jinty. The story itself is fun, filled with inventiveness and comeuppances that are guaranteed to delight readers, and can rate as one of the stronger stories in the last days of Jinty.

Fran’ll Fix It! (1977; 1978-1979)

Sample images

Fran 1

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Fran 2

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Fran 3

Artist: Jim Baikie

Writer: Unknown

Publication: 9 July 1977 to 12 November 1977

Sequel: 7 October 1978 to 10 March 1979

“Say hello to our pint-sized problem-solver – and maker!”

So said the opening blurb to introduce us to the Jinty character who made her name as “zany”, “madcap”, and became one of the most popular characters ever to appear in Jinty. In fact, Fran was the first Jinty character to come back by popular request.

In the very first panel where we meet Fran, we immediately see what she’s going to be like when we see her reading a comic book that is rated “not suitable for girls”. And as her strip develops, we are not disappointed: Fran is wacky, potty, outrageous, resourceful, quick-witted, cheeky, anti-establishment, loads of fun, and there is never a dull moment without her. Mind you, it’s hard to see where the “pint-sized” comes in. Fran appears to be a normal height and hardly a midget like “Wee Sue”.

Potty Fran Anderson, better known as Fran the Fixer, styles herself as a problem solver who can fix anything and her catchphrase is “‘s easy!”. But it is not always as “‘s easy” as Fran thinks, for her ideas of fixing things are crazy, madcap ones. For the most part they work out, but there is typically mayhem along the way, and sometimes things backfire on Fran. For example, Fran’s solution to the tea shortage is dandelion tea – but it ends up more like dandelion wine that gets the teachers drunk! In another crazy caper she and the other girls dress as window cleaners, but things go wrong when their false beards get stuck. Fran has to get to the shop for advice and disguises herself in Arab costume to hide her beard. But this gets her kidnapped by a sheikh, who has mistaken her for the princess he wants to marry. Needless to say, he soon gets ‘fixed’; ironically, it is with the help of the false beard.

Some of the mayhem comes from Fran’s cheeky nature. For example, she outrages school governor Colonel Wellington by leap-frogging over him instead of politely going around him. Then she drops a clanger – on his poor old gouty foot! All right, so that part was an accident. But he sporting and agrees to let Fran off if she can fix something for him – shift a grand piano to his house without trucks or moving men because there’s a strike on! And there is another occasion where Fran puts on a circus gorilla suit for a joke. But she gets stuck in it and the sight of the gorilla suit has people fainting and fleeing in terror when she tries to get help. Worse, her monkeying around causes a real gorilla to get loose – which then attacks her school!

Fran’s “secret weapon” gets her out of a lot of scrapes (caused by her ‘fixing’ or otherwise). The secret weapon also gives readers loads of laughs and no doubt heightened Fran’s popularity. And what is her secret weapon? It is ventriloquism, the power of throwing her voice, which she does with alacrity. She has made stuffed parrots, doughnuts and butterflies talk among other things. She is also skilled at mimicry when she throws her voice and can impersonate things like bees, cats and Miss Garston’s voice.

 

Fran has been expelled from several schools because of her ‘fixing’. Dad threatens to pack her off to her aunts Toni and Chloe (or Tooth and Claw as Fran calls them) if it happens again. And after Dad shows Fran a film of what it will be like to live with Aunts Tooth and Claw (who later show up in person at the school). Fran definitely does not want to be expelled from her new school, St Catherine’s School for Young Ladies. Nor does Dad, particularly as it is a snob school and he has paid big money for it.

But even when Fran tries, she still gets into trouble, and this nearly gets her expelled on her first day. It all starts when headmistress Miss Garston lets Fran carry her suitcase. Seems simple enough and a good start at her new school – but it all turns to disaster when  a thief steals it and then Fran accidentally drops it on the head of Joggers the gardener. This establishes a running gag in the strip that has Joggers regarding Fran as more of a menace than rest of the staff do.

But to come back to the suitcase – by the time Fran hands the suitcase to Miss Garston, it is a mess. Fran has to do some fast fixing to butter Miss Garston  up and save herself from expulsion and Tooth and Claw. She not only succeeds, but exposes the other side of Miss Garston. Underneath that stern exterior is a real softie, but more pertinently, Miss Garston is potty herself. In fact, sometimes her pottiness rivals Fran’s. One example is where Miss Garston takes them camping. The girls hate it and tell Fran to fix it so they will go back to school. But the headmistress’s pottiness outmatches Fran’s tricks (ghosts, bugs, flooding, rain) every time and Fran does not know what to do.  But sometimes the fixing happens by luck rather than planning and this is the case here; the headmistress can’t get back to school soon enough after Fran accidentally sets some cows loose.

All the same, having a potty headmistress does help to keep Fran from expulsion. And so does her best friend Sally “Sal” Duff. Sal acts as a watchdog over Fran, although she reckons lion taming is easier. However, Sal has little success in stopping Fran’s schemes once Fran comes up with one, no matter how crazy it seems or in violation of school rules. Fortunately for the most part they work out. But sometimes things didn’t work out and Fran would typically take refuge in a tree until things had cooled down. She often got chased up a tree as well. Usually it was either Joggers the gardener or the resident bulldog (more on that in a moment) who were the very annoyed chasers.

Fran is not the only crazy resident of St Catherine’s. She has frequent trouble from “Slobberchops” aka Desmond the bulldog. Desmond is owned by the games mistress, the imposing Miss Lottie. Fran’s first encounter with Slobberchops comes when he eats Freda’s ‘talking’ doughnut and then chases Fran up a tree. Fran’s relationship with Slobberchops has swung from him going all ga-ga over Fran to chasing her with teeth bared and getting her up a tree or whatever. But things go really wild whenever he meets Fran’s parrot Beaky (who replaced the original stuffed version in the sample images above). Beaky, of course, heightens the zaniness of the strip. Strips with parrots are always guaranteed to be hilarious (such as “Bet Gets the Bird!”).

Of course there has to be a nemesis, and the regular villain of the piece is Clara. Clara is a snob who has looked down on Fran as a “scruff” right from the start. She was bitterly disappointed when Fran was not expelled. She confines herself more to playing tricks on Fran, but she always ends up getting ‘fixed’. She does not seem to do much to sabotage Fran’s schemes. Maybe they were too zany for her to figure out or she thought Fran would expel herself sooner or later.

Even the formidable aunts showed that pottiness ran in the Anderson family when they pay a visit to Fran’s school. Although they are dragons, they are also wacky – in their own way. We see this in their first panel when Aunt Toni points a blunderbuss at a porter whom the aunts think is stealing their luggage. At school, they cause as much mayhem as Fran; for example, on the hockey pitch they clobber the whole team. They also put the snobby Clara in her place (below). Maybe readers liked them better after that.

They have Dad’s permission to remove Fran to their farm if they disapprove of the school, whether Fran is expelled or not (aren’t you being a bit unfair there, Dad?). So far they are not impressed, deeming it too soft while they pride themselves on hardiness. Ironically, it is not Fran’s ‘fixing’ that saves her but the potty headmistress, whom the aunts make friends with. The only thing is, their visit has the headmistress send the girls on the aforementioned camping trip to toughen them up.

Wacky characters played for laughs and hijinks had been in Jinty from the very first issue. “The Jinx from St Jonah’s” established the trend, with Katie Jinks the jinx who was a walking disaster area. She could get the school orchestra in a tangle through playing a simple triangle, get chased by an ostrich, drop laundry powder in the swimming pool and get the swimming contest in a lather, and accidentally set the school boiler to dangerous levels. In one story her friends tried tying her up to stop her jinxing but disaster struck them anyway. And there was “Do-It-Yourself Dot“, who made “a nuisance of herself” in making things, though they often went right as well. Dot could be regarded as a “fixer” too while Fran can also be regarded as making a nuisance of herself.

Fran is clearly carrying on the tradition. Perhaps the same writers were involved. Whoever they were, they were certainly inspired by “Jim’ll Fix It!“, from which this strip clearly takes its cue. But whilst Katie’s capers come from her being a walking disaster area, Fran’s come from her personality and the skills she has learned to ‘fix’ things. Fran also differs from Katie in that most of her capers are told in story arcs spanning several weeks while Katie usually had weekly disasters. This allows for more development, storytelling, and more hijinks and laughs spanning over a single story. And the artwork of Jim Baikie lends itself brilliantly to the atmosphere of the strip. More often seen drawing some of Jinty’s more dramatic strips such as “The Forbidden Garden“, he showed that he could draw comedy as well. His style in Fran is looser and more exaggerated when drawing high comedy scenes. His depiction of Freda and her ‘talking’ doughnut (above) is an excellent example.

But it is the jauntiness of it all that makes Fran arguably the best-remembered comedy character in Jinty, for jauntiness summed up Jinty herself. It was hardly surprising that Jinty’s open invitation for readers to ask for her back at the end of her first story drew a response that proved successful. It would not be surprising if there had been a demand to bring back Fran in “Pam’s Poll” as well. If so, unfortunately it did not succeed that time.

It is a bit difficult to understand why Fran did not become more of a regular in Jinty and return more than once. Many characters in girls’ comics have done so (such as Bella Barlow in Tammy and The Honourable S.J. in Judy) once their popularity and staying power were established. Maybe something behind the scenes prevented it.

Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (1976-1979)

Sample images

Sue 1

Sue 2

Publication: 20/11/76-24/3/79

Artist: Hugh Thornton-Jones

Writer: Unknown

It all starts at a jumble sale. Sue Lawton notices a handbag that came from the Mysterious Orient. Her mother does not think much of it, but for Sue it is love at first sight. And the same seems to be true for the bag; it seems to grin at Sue and then falls right off the stall and onto her arm. Sue calls the bag Henrietta, saying it has personality.

It turns out Henrietta has more than just personality, but it takes several episodes before Sue understands the full nature of Henrietta. We get the first inkling when a thief then snatches Henrietta, and then finds his hair super-growing to abnormal lengths when he takes a comb out. He ends up begging to be arrested. Sue finds more weird things happening when she puts things in Henrietta, such as a pair of plimsolls that give a girl super-powered sports ability when she is teased for lack of them. Sue eventually catches on that Henrietta is a magic handbag. She can put spells on things that Sue puts into her. So Sue has to be careful what she puts in there. If Henrietta does not like what is put into her or gets mischievous over it, Sue or someone else will pay the price. Henrietta can also bewitch people and objects outside of her as well. By episode three the premise is established for Jinty’s magic companion story that lasted for three years. Incidentally, “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” followed a similar pattern of taking several episodes to set up its premise, suggesting that Fun-Bag and Gloomy Ghost had the same writer as well as the same artist. But unlike Gloomy Ghost, which ended with a definite conclusion, Fun-Bag ended with a regular episode.

But back to Fun-Bag. Once the premise is established, the stage is set for a magical handbag that makes all sorts of things happen every week that are guaranteed to give loads of laughs. A lot of the fun comes from Henrietta having a mischievous streak and taking cues from things she overhears or things that are put in her to cast a spell and have a bit of naughtiness. One example is a Major who just won’t stop talking about his safari days and is the ultimate bore. After a cue from Sue about his really living his hunting days, Henrietta casts a spell that has the Major reliving his safari days – literally. But, as usually is the case when Henrietta casts these spells, things get out of hand, and Sue is among those who fall into his safari traps. In one Easter egg episode, Sue and her friends find it a pity to break such a pretty Easter egg. Henrietta takes the cue to make the egg unbreakable, leading to loads of laughs as they try to break it. It has the additional, unexpected bonus of foiling a thief who was trying to steal a garden gnome, and Sue and her friends are rewarded with Easter eggs.

Other times Henrietta casts spells because she is annoyed, such in one episode where Sue plays a trumpet very badly, or because Sue succumbs to human greed and tries to take advantage of Henrietta. This happens in the third episode once Sue catches on to Henrietta’s power. In one episode, Mrs Lawton, who still does not like Henrietta, buys a replacement bag for Sue’s Christmas present. Henrietta is in earshot and is so furious that she causes trouble at Sue’s present-wrapping session. She is placated once she finds Sue has bought a present for her and she starts helping with the present-wrapping. And Mrs Lawton does not try to replace Henrietta again.

Sometimes Henrietta causes trouble unintentionally, such as when she misunderstands something or is sleep-casting (casting spells in her sleep). In one episode Henrietta sets the whole class turning Indian because she keeps misunderstanding Sue’s orders to have girls bury the hatchet and such. Sue ends up washing Henrietta’s ears out, saying she needs it. In some episodes the spells seem fun at first, but they soon get out of hand. In one episode, Henrietta turns Mum’s glasses into X-Ray specs. Sue thinks it is great – until the spell gets too strong and she urges Henrietta to remove it.

Of course there are the episodes where Henrietta uses her power to punish people, such as the bag-snatcher who takes her in the first episode. People who appropriate Henrietta and put unpleasant things in her, such as chalk or a can of worms for fishing, soon receive poetic justice once she puts a spell on the things she puts in there. Plenty of episodes deal with punishing bullies who range from school bullies to workplace bullies, and criminals, fraudsters and other unsavoury types, and practical jokers and troublemakers . And there are episodes where Henrietta and Sue lend a hand, sometimes somewhat accidentally from Henrietta’s mischievous streak. In the episode celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee, Sue is wondering what life was like when the Queen was actually crowned 25 years ago. Henrietta puts a spell on the punch that has people acting like they were 25 years ago; acting and dressing like school kids and such. Sue saves some of the punch for the Golden Jubilee. Other times Henrietta uses her spells to go to the rescue, such as one episode where she diverts Sue from booby traps being laid by the school joker. The joker is furious – and then gets a nasty shock when she is faced by the angry headmistress, who did fall into her traps.

One of the strengths of Fun-Bag comes from not only the magic and laughs, but from the fact that Henrietta is a flawed character. She is mischievous, gets things wrong, has tantrums, gets very naughty, and gets things wrong. And sometimes her spells do not work out as she expected. For example, in the trumpet episode, Henrietta’s spells to stop Sue playing rebound a bit, and Henrietta ends up a bit battered. Or things do work out by sheer luck. For example, Henrietta’s bewitchment of the Major has gotten badly out of hand and caused serious trouble – but then it unwittingly has him capturing a real tiger that escaped from the zoo.

And another of its strengths is its variety. In many humorous magic companion stories, the humour stems from the magic companion being somewhat goofy. Sometimes it’s because their spells tend to backfire (“The Zodiac Prince”), or they do not understand some things because they come from different time periods (“Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost”), or they take things literally or to extremes (“Her Guardian Angel”). This occurs in Fun-Bag as well, but it is rotated with humour that comes from giving people comeuppances, coming to the rescue, or taking the protagonist down a peg if she gets a bit above herself. It is not surprising that Fun-Bag lasted well in Jinty. It spanned three years, rivalling “The Jinx from St Jonah’s” for longest-lasting regular humour strip.