Tag Archives: Humour

Princess II, 24 December 1983

Princess cover 24 December 1983

  • The Last Christmas Carol (artist Purita Campos) – complete story
  • The Grovel Game – feature (artist Joe Collins)
  • The Ghostly Ballerina (photo story)
  • Fairy Tale (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Best of Friends… (photo story) – first episode
  • Cinders on Ice (artist unknown) – final episode
  • Sadie-in-Waiting (artist Joe Collins)

 

More Princess II’s have been added to my collection. Christmas may have been a couple of months ago, but here is Princess II’s one and only Christmas issue anyway.

Leading off the cover is a complete Christmas story from Purita Campos. Sue and Jill Crawley are new to the neighbourhood and feel lonely. They go out carol singing for charity, which turns into a spooky time travel trip to the Blitz. They give an old lady her final Christmas carol and return with souvenirs of the 1940s.

Christmas carolling does wonders on Grovel too. He’s pressganged into being Santa Claus but is more like the Grinch until Christmas carols work some Christmas magic on him and he starts enjoying himself. We can also play “The Grovel Game”, where the objective is to be the first to give Princess Bee her presents, but Grovel is trying to stop you.

There is also a Christmas dinner in “Cinders on Ice” to celebrate the fairytale ending we all expected. Yep, that story was definitely written to tie up with the Christmas issue.

The Ghostly Ballerina gives Clare Thomas the power to dance brilliantly, and everyone is surprised at the sudden improvement. But it is obvious that the power comes at an unpleasant price, which starts with it turning Clare’s friend Sonja against her.

Fairy tales get screwed up and turned on their heads in “Fairy Tale”. This week it’s a dotty old genie who is hard of hearing and can’t hear wishes properly – or even hear if what people say really is a wish. As a result, our protagonists get unwanted hair length and now they look like Rapunzels.

In the new photo story, Lizzie and Katie are “Best of Friends”. Then the old “three’s a crowd” comes in between them when new girl Linda comes along, and Katie’s in tears.

Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (1979-1981)

Sample Images

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

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

Episodes: 96

Artist: Hugh Thornton-Jones

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: None known

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

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

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

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

(Click thru)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tammy & Sally 12 February 1972

Tammy Cover 12 February 1972

  • Gina – Get Lost (artist Miguel Quesada) – final episode
  • Dogs of the Duchess
  • No Hope for Cathy (artist Victor Hugo Arias)
  • Lulu (cartoon)
  • Skimpy Must Ski! (artist Tom Hurst)
  • Paula on a String
  • Amanda Must Not Be Expelled (artist Jesus Redondo)
  • Talk it over with Trudy (problem page)
  • Star Struck Sister (artist Giorgio Giorgetti, writer Jenny McDade)
  • Maisie’s Magic Eye (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Beattie Beats ’em All! (artist John Armstrong)
  • Cinderella Spiteful (artist Jose Casanovas)
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • A Special Tammy Portrait – Peter Gordeno

In part 2 of the Tammy Round Robin, the 12th February issue has been selected for 1972. The cover style is still the same as it had been in 1971 and Tammy still has the Sally logo. Tammy now has a regular cartoon, “Lulu”. The issue also has the advertising for the first issue of Sandie, the next title to be merged into Tammy. There are blurbs for two stories starting in the next issue: “The Long and the Short” and the first Eduardo Feito story to appear in Tammy, “Rona Rides Again”.

“Beattie Beats ’em All!” and “Maisie’s Magic Eye” from Sally are still going strong, which indicates the Sally merger was a good one.

The serial “Star Struck Sister” is the first Tammy story to be written by Jenny McDade, who wrote the first Bella stories. The history behind the serial is a curious one. The first episode was written by another writer, but then the writing “choked” as they call it. The editor asked Jenny to take over. It was a bold move as Jenny had never written a serial before. But it went so well she was commissioned to write the rest of the story.

In the episode itself, Lesley and Stella Ross are in Rome making their first film. Lesley is jealous of Stella because she believes she should have the starring role. But Lesley is not Stella’s problem this week. Instead, Stella foolishly went off with a street urchin, who turned out to be part of a gang of pickpockets. Stella makes it back but now has a stolen wallet on her hands. And the victim, who is staying at the same hotel, has recognised her as one of the thieves!

“Cinderella Spiteful” is an orphan named Emma Jones who is staying with her cousin Angela, but feels overshadowed by her. To overcome this, Emma resolves to try harder and things get off to a good start this week. Then it looks like she has been so consumed with it that she neglected Angela while she was injured, and now Angela has fallen on the stairs. Are Emma’s attempts to better herself going wrong and landing her in trouble? Or is Angela pulling some kind of Carol Lord trick (see Concrete Surfer) to undermine her?

Molly has a problem of forbidden love on her hands (Lieutenant Regan disguising himself as a servant at Stanton Hall to get near his love because her father won’t allow the match) and keeping it safe from Pickering and the two catty maids. They go as far as to attempt to rough her up to get the secret out of her, but don’t discover it. Then a party is on and the men are allowed to wear masks. An easy way for the lovers to secretly meet again? Not when the forbidding father offers to remove Regan’s mask! This calls for some quick thinking on somebody’s part.

“Gina – Get Lost” is yet another Cinderella story of cruel relatives (the Randalls) exploiting the heroine (Gina) and her talent (making toys). The story ends this week, with the Randalls being caught out and being forced to let the kindly Mrs Swain become Gina’s guardian and stay away from her, or there will be charges.

Amanda keeps trying to get herself expelled so she can enjoy her home comforts. This week she brings the school to victory in a gymnastics contest. Will this change her mind and stay at the school? Sadly, no. She’s still intent on getting herself expelled and the other girls think she’s crazy and mixed up.

In “Dogs of the Duchess” the Duchess is a crusader for dog welfare. She would be a real heroine if she weren’t so uptight and rude to her helper, Doris Totting and could be as nice to people as she is to dogs. And why does she wear that black veil all the time anyway? Sounds like she’s got a real problem, and this week Doris gets a clue as to what it is when the Duchess doesn’t want to meet an aristocrat, whose dog she helped through Doris only a short while before.

Why is there “No Hope for Cathy”? She has been kidnapped and being forced to impersonate a missing girl. It’s not all that hopeless when Cathy discovers a helper, Alan Temple. But then Cathy gets amnesia, and being unable to remember who she really is has suddenly made the crooks’ deception a whole lot easier!

In “Skimpy Must Ski!”, Grandad sacrifices his precious war medal to raise funds to help Skimpy. But the medal makes its way back to Skimpy, who tries to slip it back secretly. But Grandad catches her and demands to know what she’s up to.

The Jinx from St Jonah’s [1974-76]

Sample Images

Jinx from St JonahsJinx from St Jonahs 2Jinx from St Jonahs 3

Published: Jinty 11 May 1974 – 30 October 1976

Episodes: 112 episodes

Artists: Mario Capaldi, Mike White, Hugh Thornton-Jones

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: None known

The Jinx from St Jonah’s was one of Jinty’s very first strips, and it was the longest-running at 112 episodes. It was a humour strip, full of slapstick humour and hijinks galore with Katie Jinks. It’s easy to turn that into “jinx”, and Katie is indeed a jinx by name, jinx by nature. She is a walking disaster area; even innocuous things like playing the triangle, practising yoga, or minding a goldfish lead to hilarious catastrophes in the hands of Katie the Jinx. Even the school staff have to really watch out when Katie’s about.

Though Katie’s classmates know they have to watch out for Miss Klutzy too, there are plenty of times when Katie’s jinxing works to their advantage. For example, they all get a day off school when Katie’s jinxing gets all the school staff sent home, including the headmistress. And Katie is not a jinx all the time. There are occasions when Katie does something right, such as when she figures out a girl who won’t swim has a serious problem and she sets out to unravel what it is. But the time to really watch out is when Katie wants to be helpful because that is when her jinxing is at its worst.

There are plenty of occasions when Katie’s jinxing eventually leads to a happy ending and things work out to everyone’s benefit. But of course the road getting there is full of bumps and high jinxing.

On a frequent basis it’s comeuppance time for many a wrongdoer when Katie’s around. Bullies, gluttons, stuffy teachers, snobs, troublemakers and even criminals are among the unsavoury types who get their punishment from Katie the Jinx, whether she plans it or simply jinxes it. Either way we cheer and laugh when the unpleasant type gets jinxed into their long-awaited comeuppance.

Katie comes from a long line of jinx girls in girls’ comics whose blundering causes scrapes that provide loads of laughs for the readers. “Sailor Sally – She’s All at Sea” (Debbie) and “Simple Simona” (Tammy) were other examples. But Katie was one to reach such heights of popularity in Jinty that she not only ran for two years but also became cover girl, leading off Jinty’s cover with jinx hijinks to pull readers in with a huge laugh. The panel exhibiting the jinxy gag itself, such as Katie tripping over something or getting everyone in a heap, was often given jagged edging for emphasis. Examples of Katie’s glory days on the cover are shown below.

(click thru)

 

 


Edited by comixminx to add: the strip has the power to amuse modern readers just as much. My daughter (8 at the time of writing this) loves Katie Jinks’ hijinks more than just about anything in the comic. We have recently had the pleasure of having Trini Tinturé doing a piece of art for the family, and while my son chose to have himself illustrated with one of his favourite youTubers (Dan TDM), my daughter chose to be illustrated alongside Katie Jinks. Here it is, a new piece of Trini art with a direct Jinty link!

Two kids and two idols
Illustration by Trini Tinturé for two avid comics readers

Bizzie Bet and the Easies [1979]

Sample Images

Bizzie Bet 1Bizzie Bet 2

Published: Jinty 31 March 1979 – 1 December 1979

Episodes: 27

Artist: Richard Neillands

Writer: Unknown

A lightweight humour strip that ran in Jinty in 1979. The premise is Bet Bizzel, known as “Bizzie Bet” who’s such a bundle of energy and always working hard, versus her bone-idle friends, the Easies. Each week Bizzie Bet is always coming up with bright schemes to show the Easies the meaning of work and curing them of their lazy ways. But things always backfire on Bet eventually and the Easies win in the end. Such a premise wouldn’t have been out of place in a funnies comic like Buster or Whizzer & Chips. Imagine if this strip was drawn by one of their artists!

The Easies are also very inventive, coming up with their own creative ways of doing things – the very quick and laid back way, of course, but it does save a lot of labour and turns out well. You do have to hand it to them. The fact that sloth always wins in this story is what gives the story its humour. It’s a strip the lazy Garfield the cat would love.

Readers must have had a sneaking sympathy for the Easies. You do wish Bet would stop shoving her oar in all the time, stop trying to force hard work on the Easies, and let them be. Besides, doing all this extra work for Easies is just making Bet working far harder than she needs to and doing everything for the Easies is really not encouraging them to do things for themselves. In fact, if Bet took a leaf out of the Easies’ book and took things easy now and then, life would be easier for her. And she wouldn’t be the one doing all the work all the time, as her holiday dice game below proves. But maybe she can’t take it easy any more than the Easies could turn into balls of energy.

In the end Bizzie Bet and the Easies come to an arrangement where they agree to disagree, accept each other for what they are, and just be friends. It’s a very good, definitive ending. It did not end on a regular episode, which is very satisfying, and readers would have been very pleased with how it concluded.

Bizzie Bet had a fair run at 27 episodes. But in comparison to the longer-running “Jinx from St Jonah’s”, “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” or “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” humour strips in Jinty, it didn’t have much staying power. It may have been a popularity issue, and this could well have been the case. Though the strip is fun, it doesn’t feel as strong, engaging or memorable as, say, “The Jinx from St Jonah’s” and is one of Jinty’s more forgettable  strips.

The artwork could have been the problem. A premise like this requires an artist who can really draw exaggerated, stylised cartoony humour, but Richard Neillands is not one of them. His style is for lightweight or sports stories but he can’t really pull off exaggerated comedy or make anyone laugh with his artwork. An artist like Robert MacGillivray or even a Buster-type artist is what’s required here.

Or it could simply be that Bizzie Bet was simply axed to help make way for “Pam of Pond Hill” and “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost”, both of which started shortly afterwards.

Bizzie Bet game 1Bizzie Bet game 2

 

 

 

Our Big BIG Secret (1972)

Sample Images

(from Sandie 15 April 1972)

Published: Sandie 12 February 1972 – 15 April 1972

Episodes: 10

Artist: Jim Baikie

Writer: Unknown

Plot summary

Poppy and Daisy are sisters who are both mad-keen on having a dog, but their parents are too poor to consider it. Even giving the sisters (and their rather less keen brother Ted) 10p each to go to the local fete is a bit of a stretch for poor old Mum. But at the fete, Poppy and Daisy put their money into the prize raffle – and (of course) end up winning the mystery prize. It’s… a pedigree Pyrennean Mountain puppy! Not only is it a dog but a huge one, bound to be hungry all the time. A bystander tries to buy it off the girls and they turn him down, but that’s a decision that will certainly cause them difficulties.

As soon as they get the puppy, now named Pedro, back home, they have to decide where to keep him. The shed won’t do for long, as Pedro clearly knows pretty well what a nice comfy indoor bed looks like and he is determined to get inside to the girls – who have to trick their parents while Poppy nips downstairs to let Pedro in. A kindly lady looks like she can help out by keeping Pedro during the day, but it doesn’t take long for him to escape. A white lie saves them – “Isn’t he the puppy you met in the park, Poppy? With that old lady, Mrs Jenkins?”

In any case the family are about to move house to a much bigger place (though with the reputation of being haunted) and perhaps this will give the girls the answer they need – Pedro can sleep in the cellar! Well, maybe so – and in the meantime there’s the problem of how to pay for his food. Poppy already has a baby-sitting job (or, well, she does until she turns up with Pedro in tow – and he takes the little kids for a ride on his back!) and tries to get a paper-round. Again it isn’t long before Pedro jinxes it. But a turn up for the books – Pedro also stages a heroic rescue of an old man from a house on fire! Great! Though, yes, you guessed it… the evening papers carries the whole story, plus a photo, and so the girls have to try to keep this secret safe too. A hard job, made harder when the son of the man whose life was saved comes round to say thanks and to pay a reward!

Again the problem situation is averted (though not in a very convincingly-explained way) and the action moves on to the new house – a possible place to hide Pedro. And not before time – the grumpy old neighbour of the nice old lady who was trying to help them has made a complaint, and she isn’t able to put Pedro up overnight any more. Why’s the grumpy guy also showing up round at the new place, though? Could it be related to the sighting that young Ted makes – of a while ghostly shape in the very house they are moving into?

Poppy shuts Pedro into the cellar anyway as she runs out of ideas and it’s getting very late – but in the meantime the grumpy neighbour has gone back to the family’s old place and told everyone that there is indeed a ghost in that there house! Mum in particular is sobbing her heart out to hear it – “Our new house! How can we go and live there now?” The neighbour leads everyone over to see the ghost for themselves, but in the meantime Daisy has run back, spirited Pedro out, and left the neighbour to look like a fool. Not so much because the house is free of ghosts, but because Poppy is in on the action too – she has dressed up as a ghost to pretend that it was all her doing all along!

It works, but finally Mum and Dad find out (they notice that both girls have ended up kipping in the new house snuggled up to Pedro). Mum is determined that Pedro MUST GO, but a final incursion by the nasty neighbour has her changing her mind after all when Pedro proves what a good guard dog he would be.

Further thoughts

The story starts promisingly, with hectic scenes at the fete, and bops along at quite a pace throughout. The plot itself feels fairly thin and it didn’t ‘grab’ me all that much on first read, but it’s quite solid on re-read. The best bit about it is the Jim Baikie cartoonish  artwork, with lots of characterful images. I particularly liked the way he does little signs on Pedro himself, such as in the last panel where Pedro is very pleased with himself! The art does get a bit scrappy in places and it doesn’t feel like it is Baikie’s best, but there is lots to like about it nevertheless.

Mr Evans the Talking Rabbit (1983)

Sample Images

Mr Evans 1Mr Evans 2Mr Evans 3

Published: Princess II, #1 (24 September 1983) to #12 (10 December 1983)

Episodes: 12

Artist: Photostory

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: ‘Hokus pokus, ik ben een konijn!’ [Hocus pocus, I’m a rabbit!]. Dutch Tina, 1984.

In keeping with the Easter season, we present this rabbit-themed story from Princess II.

Plot

Jenny Andrews’ father is a children’s entertainer, but ever since his wife died his heart has not been in it. It gives him too many reminders of his late wife, plus he has also grown cynical about child audiences. As he can’t work properly no money is coming in for the rent, and eviction is imminent.

Dad does manage to perform at a children’s party at the Mortimers’ house. Jenny goes out into the garden to set up the puppet show. She is surprised to find a rabbit in a garden pen talking to her. At first she thinks it is her father’s ventriloquism, but the rabbit says he is in fact Arthur Evans, owner of the local joke/magic shop, who has been missing for weeks. He unwisely tried out a book of spells he found in the market and unwittingly turned himself into a rabbit. He retained the ability to talk, which he hides because he fears people will exploit him. He opened up to Jenny because he feels he can trust her, and he begs for her help to get him back to normal.

When Mr Evans does talk he is very disagreeable and ill-mannered. As a human he was an old grouch and even his wife calls him a “miserable old so-and-so”. As a rabbit he is not much better, but he does have more reason to be irritable considering his ordeal, especially after being imprisoned in the pen. It does not sound like the Mortimer children have treated him well either. When Mrs Mortimer pulls the rabbit’s ears, he protests in a justified but very offensive manner: “Let go, you stupid old bag!” Mrs Mortimer thinks it’s Jenny’s ventriloquism and sends Mr Andrews packing without payment (now we know where the bratty Mortimer kids get it from). So no money for the rent from that job, which means they’re even closer to eviction.

Mr Evans escapes and hitches a ride to the Andrews’ place. There Mr Andrews is so desperate for food and no money for it that he wants to eat the rabbit. The rabbit objects to that of course: “You’ve got to get me out of here before I end up sharing a plate with potatoes and two veg!” He tells Jenny. Mr Andrews assumes it’s Jenny’s much-improved ventriloquism.

Jenny and Mr Evans go to the joke shop for the book, but Mrs Evans has sold it and has no clue as to who bought it. She is not missing her husband much because he was such a misery boots. Mr Evans takes money from the till (hiding it in his mouth) to pay for groceries to keep the Andrews household fed. He does not regard it as stealing. “It’s my shop, my till, and my money! I can’t steal from myself, can I?” he tells Jenny. Yes, but tell the police that. When Mrs Evans discovers the missing money she assumes Jenny trained up the rabbit to steal it, and it’s in the newspaper: “Rabbit Steals Cash!”

The Mortimers come looking for the rabbit, which they correctly suspect got away with Mr Andrews. Mr Andrews pulls a magic hat trick to confuse them and keep the rabbit safe from them. “Squashed me a bit though,” says Mr Evans. “My back’s aching.”

Then grief overtakes Mr Andrews again. He is in no mental state to do a booked show, and they badly need the money from it. So Jenny decides to do the show herself, with the help of Mr Evans. At first he is reluctant because of the child audience: “…I loathe children – smelly, sticky, noisy little brats the lot of them. Always poking and breaking things. Definitely no!” However, Jenny persuades him otherwise. The show is such a success that Jenny is paid a bonus.

Mr Evans can smell other rabbits in the house, and says they are terrified. No wonder – they are being kept in a pen, waiting to be taken to the father’s research station for experimentation. Mr Evans goes into the pen to help them while the pen is not properly secured: “Hey, chaps – now’s your chance to make a break!” This only has Mr Evans get muddled up with them and Jenny takes the wrong rabbit. Later, Mr Evans manages to escape himself, but then he gets caught in a trap.

It doesn’t take Jenny long to realise she has the wrong rabbit, and when she goes back she discovers Mr Evans’ escape and does not know where to find him. Meanwhile, Jenny’s father gets a TV talent entrepreneur to come and listen to Jenny’s ventriloquism act, but her pathetic efforts make him look an idiot. He does not realise the talking rabbit was not her ventriloquism and the rabbit she has is not Mr Evans.

Eventually Jenny finds Mr Evans and frees him from the trap, but he becomes really ill. The vet says the rabbit has a heart condition, and if he were human he would receive hospital treatment, but as he is a rabbit he will have to be put to sleep. Of course this is not an option for Mr Evans. They need the book of spells more than ever now, so they start advertising for it.

The advertising gets no response until Dad gives Jenny the book of spells for a birthday present. So it was in the house all the time!

Dad comes over to believing Mr Evans the talking rabbit is for real and lends a hand with the counter spell. Unfortunately something goes wrong. Mr Evans starts growing into a monstrous giant rabbit, which sends the landlady into faint.

Jenny and her father finally get the magic right and Mr Evans returns to human form. The landlady assumes the giant rabbit must have been one of her dizzy turns. Mr Evans now hopes to make money out of the book, but it has been conveniently reduced to ashes. “Blast!”

Mr Evans can now receive the hospital treatment he needs. He even gets his wife to believe what happened and how the money really got taken from the shop till, so Jenny is cleared. As Mr Andrews is no longer up to entertaining, Mr Evans offers him a job as manager of his joke shop because he is going to retire and take his wife on a world cruise. Mind you, Mr Evans is still a grouchy man, and he is not pleased to be given a salad lunch in hospital: “Oh no – not more lettuce!” Just when he thought he was free of rabbit greens.

Thoughts

Few photo stories in girls’ comics are remembered today, but there seems to be some lingering memory for this one, even if it is a bit bonkers. This has to be due to Mr Evans himself. There is no doubt he is the star of the show. Every time he speaks in his rude, tetchy, sourpuss manner it makes you laugh out loud because it’s so funny. You just have to love it, and for this reason I’ve put up examples throughout the entry.

The story would be far less effective if Mr Evans talked in a more nondescript or formal manner. And for all his cranky ways, he is simply loveable – at least when he is a rabbit – because he’s a rabbit, and rabbits are so cute. “You were impossible as a rabbit,” says Jenny. “I can’t begin to think what you’d be like as a donkey or an elephant!” But that’s what makes it so funny. The juxtaposition of a cute rabbit talking in such a crabby uncivil manner is simply hilarious. His grouchiness makes him less likeable when he is a human, yet endearing as a rabbit. It’s ironic that an old sourpuss like him runs a joke shop.

We can just see the laughs the grouchy talking rabbit would raise if the story were televised, and it would make a delightful children’s programme.

Mr Evans’ surly disposition does not improve much as a rabbit. He is rude even to Jenny when he reaches out to her for help. In some ways he does have reason to be snappy: “You’d be a grouch too, if you’d been turned into a rabbit, lived in a hutch outside in all weathers, been thought of as a tasty meal, and then cuddled like some revolting pet!” Yes, he sure has been through quite an ordeal since he became a rabbit, and being turned into a rabbit must have been very traumatic. It certainly is not very comfortable: “It’s hot, wearing a fur coat all the time!” Added to that is his growing heart condition, which would hardly help his disposition. He becomes even more sympathetic when his illness is diagnosed, so now his very life depends on finding the book of spells and reversing the spell.

Mr Evans’ experiences as a rabbit do open his heart more to other animals. For example, when he encounters the research lab rabbits he thinks “Never thought I’d feel sorry for a bunch of rabbits!”, which shows how much he had thought about animal welfare before. That’s not to say he is a heartless man; his offering Mr Andrews a job shows he’s not such a bad old stick, even if he is a grump. He does not even mind (well at least he doesn’t object) when Jenny tells him how impossible he is, even when he becomes human again.

Mr Evans’ disposition would be projected far better if the story had been drawn. We could really see his surliness brought to life with say, lines and storm clouds around his head indicating anger. This would also bring in even more humour to the story. And his growth to giant rabbit proportions would be brought off far more effectively. Indeed, the story itself would be far better off being a picture story rather than a photo story.

It’s not surprising that Mr Evans’ adventures as a rabbit are a vehicle into the exploration of animal abuse and animal welfare. It begins with Mr Evans being abused by the Mortimer family, and comes up again with the caged rabbits bound for the research lab. Mr Evans even tries to encourage those rabbits into a jailbreak, but they don’t understand him.

When heroines in girls’ comics work in the entertainment business, they are as a rule quite proactive heroines and Jenny is no exception. She may not have enough experience or talent to follow her father, but she is not afraid to speak her mind. Mr Andrews’ occupation (conjuror, clown, ventriloquist, puppeteer) also lends liveliness to the story; the best scene is where he uses the hat trick to hide Mr Evans. This shows what a good entertainer he is, and it’s a real shame he has lost his passion for it. We really hope he would regain it. He does not, but it’s a relief that he is going to get a job where his conjuring skills will be transferable. He will most certainly be a more pleasant man for customers to meet in the joke shop than Mr Evans.

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.

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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