Tag Archives: Jackie’s Two Lives

Jinty 21 September 1974

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Jackie’s Two Lives (artist Ana Rodriguez, writer Alan Davidson)
  • Wenna the Witch (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Always Together… (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Jinty Made It Herself… so can you! (craft feature)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • The Hostess with the Mostest (artist Stanley Houghton)
  • Left-Out Linda (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • Wild Horse Summer
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)

I have been on a bit of a hiatus recently due to a very busy patch at work and some achy wrists from too much typing. Things have now settled down on both fronts so hopefully I will be able to ease myself back into blogging – and of course Mistyfan has been keeping things going on the blog with a recent focus on stories published in other titles and issues of other titles too.

This is issue 20 of Jinty and it feels quite thick and substantial – on counting the pages, it seems this was still running at a 40 page length at this point. There’s certainly quite a lot in it – the Katie Jinx story is a four-pager which continues a short story arc about Katie learning how to do hypnotism. She’s not quite as successful as she thinks she is being, because her school chums are fooling her by pretending to be hypnotized! But can she hypnotize a charging prize porker before it flattens her? I suspect not!

In “Jackie’s Two Lives“, Jackie meets Mrs Mandell for the first time. Of course she has to lie to her family in order to do that. That is only the tip of the iceberg, as Mrs Mandell starts to manipulate her further. It sounds so innocuous but it will all end badly, as we know.

Wenna is being persecuted as a witch – her local friends are being prevented from seeing her by their prejudiced parents. In fact the whole class of her year have been kept away from school – very cruel! Not surprisingly, Wenna takes this as a cue to run away.

The family in “Always Together…‘ are already runaways – elder sister Jilly is shocked to read in the paper that the water they have been using in cooking is polluted and likely to make them ill. Indeed, they all end up coming down with something. Jilly bravely keeps things going but once they are better there are the continuing challenges of before. How will they get enough money to eat and sustain themselves? Jilly’s talent for sketching will hopefully help but that might not be enough, because the little family are still not very strong and healthy.

In “Jinty Made It Herself” the reader is advised on how to adapt an old jumper into a different piece of clothing such as a tank top.

Linda is feeling very left-out in the story of the same name. Her mother has remarried and she has a step-sister, which rather spikes Linda’s plan of being expelled from school so that she can hang out with her mother and be as close as they were before everything changed. Step-sister Lorette seems rather nice and is certainly trying hard to be friends but Linda is having none of it. What’s more, when she does try to make amends by cooking tea, it all seems to go wrong and she is unhappier than ever.

Merry at Misery House is unhappy because her parents are suffering money troubles due to her father being taken ill. The other reformatory girls come up with a plan to earn a bit of cash that Merry can send off home. Unfortunately the way they earn it involves exposing themselves to illness, and soon the whole of Misery House starts to come down with virulent influenza. Yikes, that’s a real killer.

Daphne of “Wild Horse Summer” is made to go out picking sloes with the other orphanage children – everyone’s being very kind but all Daphne wants to do is to see the splendid white horse that she is secretly making friends with. On her ride, though, she spots that the farmhouse is on fire, with no-one left there to put it out! Her secret will be out but she has to alert everyone.

Finally, “Angela’s Angels” features a daring rescue from a crashed light plane – nurse Sharon rescues her hero, Neil Crosby, a tennis star. Fat lot of thanks she gets from him when he realises that he is paralysed and may never be able to walk again! There are lots of anguished faces in the beautiful art by Leo Davy.

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Alan Davidson

Alan Davidson, author of various Jinty stories such as "Jackie's Two Lives"
Alan Davidson, author of various Jinty stories such as “Jackie’s Two Lives”

We have run a few posts about Alan Davidson before now on the blog, but not a complete summary post that serves as an appreciation of his work. Of course no summary post can be properly complete at this stage as we do not know all the stories he wrote for girls’ comics – his wife Pat Davidson has mentioned that he kept careful copies of his invoices and his scripts, but to go through those files is itself a lot of work. We can hope that we will hear more titles of stories in due course, and if so, I will certainly add them into this post. In any case, we now have story posts about all five of the Jinty stories that it is is known that Alan wrote, so the time seems right for an appreciation of him as a comics writer.

Known Jinty stories written by Alan Davidson:

Known stories in other titles:

  • Little Miss Nothing (Tammy, 1971)
  • Paint It Black (Misty, 1978)

Pat Davidson has also stated in a separate email that “[f]or older readers he contributed some excellent stories for Pink and often met up with Ridwan Aitken, the then editor. I don’t have any records of these to hand, although I remember a very original story about a hero who could predict earthquakes, which Alan much enjoyed writing. I can’t remember its title.”

Having set down these initial bibliographic details, what can we pull together in terms of an appreciation of his work, in girls comics and elsewhere?

Davidson’s work is not as strongly themed as Alison Christie‘s concentration on heart-tugging stories which forms the bulk of her comics writing. There is a clear focus on wish fulfillment in his Jinty stories: Gwen stumbles into a position where her schoolmates respect and appreciate her as she has always wanted, Jackie is swept up by a rich mother-figure who is prepared to take her away from her life of poverty, Debbie finds a mysterious valley and within it a sort of fairy godmother who will save her from her cruel family, and Kerry is likewise swept up by a rich mentor who looks like she is a route to the fame that Kerry has always wanted. The wish in question is almost always double-edged or positively treacherous: Debbie is the only one who ends up happy with getting what she has always wanted (and of course her fairy godmother figure is stern-but-kind rather than seemingly kind but morally dubious). However, Davidson plays the theme of wish fulfillment while ringing the changes: none of his stories are close repeats, even though they have this similar focus.

For Jinty‘s pages he also wrote the important science fiction story “Fran of the Floods” (1976) – perhaps not quite the first SF story that ran in this title (that is arguably 1975’s “The Green People”) but a hugely popular one that ran for some 9 months. Jinty‘s reputation as a title that ran lots of SF surely must owe plenty to the success of this key story. It is a strong story through to its end, though showing a few signs of padding in some parts of the long journey taken by the protagonist. (I note that Sandie ran a story called “Noelle’s Ark” a few years earlier which has a number of similarities without being as strong on characterization or drama: it would be interesting to know if this was something that Davidson was aware of, or perhaps even the author of.)

Davidson of course had also previously written a standout story that gave girls’ comics a key new theme: 1971’s “Little Miss Nothing” started the run of Cinderella stories which gave Tammy its reputation for cruelty and darkness. Pat Mills has lauded this as being written with a real lightness of touch and being written very much from the heart (note that he thought at the time that this was written by Alan’s wife Pat, which has since been corrected by Pat Davidson herself). We know less about what we wrote for titles other than Jinty: it seems he wrote little else for Tammy (unless Pat Davidson can correct that impression?), and only one story for Misty. “Paint It Black” was part of the opening line-up of that comic. While it was a compelling read it doesn’t seem to have struck the same chord with readers as some others from that title, and Davidson doesn’t seem to have written more for Misty (perhaps also due to the fact that he was finding success in children’s prose fiction from around that time).

It’s clear that Davidson’s writing is strong all round, and at its height was really mould-breaking (not just once, at least twice). There are ways in which it follows the conventions of girls comics writing reasonably closely: the titles of his stories tend to follow the standard set up of focusing on the girl protagonists (Gwen, Jackie, Fran, Kerry) though veering away from that in some cases (“Valley of Shining Mist” and most particularly “Paint It Black”). I’m not sure whether this all-round strength is part of the reason for another aspect of his comics career which I was struck by when looking back – he has not been associated with one particular artist, but rather been illustrated by a wide range of artists with no repeats that I know of. This contrasts with the partnership between Alison Christie and Phil Townsend, who created some seven very popular stories together for Jinty.

From the mid to late 70s, Davidson started to concentrate on prose fiction for children. It’s a little hard to search for details of his work online as he doesn’t seem to have had his own web presence and there are a few other well-known figures with the same name (such as a food writer and a cricketer). This Goodreads author page is the clearest list I have found of his prose works, while it’s also worth looking at his Wikipedia page, which tells us that he started off as a subeditor on “Roy of the Rovers” for Tiger. Writing children’s prose fiction has clear advantages over continuing in the world of juvenile comics: better recognition by your public rather than having no printed credits in the pages of the comics titles, better rewards for success in the form of royalties and translation money. At the same time, his most successful prose work, “The Bewitching of Alison Allbright”, is an effective re-working of his popular comics story “Jackie’s Two Lives”. The influence of the earlier writing clearly informs the later work too: what comics loses, children’s fiction gains.

If Davidson had been writing a decade or so later, might he have been swept up in the popularity of 2000AD and the migration that various British creators made to the US market? That only seems to have drawn in the creators working on boys’ comics, so I assume not. It is pleasant to imagine the talented writers of juvenile comics being fêted and recognized by name in a way that British publishers spent many years fighting to prevent. Ultimately however it is a sad thought: Alan Davidson, who is amongst those who most deserve that name recognition, is only now getting a small fraction of that recognition after his death.

Story theme: Redemption narratives

I recently wrote summary posts about two stories that I called ‘redemption narratives’: “The Girl Who Never Was” and “She Shall Have Music“. That’s a kind of story theme that we can all recognize as being fairly common in girls comics generally: in Jinty there are a number of other examples.  But how does this sort of story work?

Take those two stories as an initial guide: the protagonist is a difficult or disagreeable, probably dislikeable, girl who has some personal failing or issue that drives the story. It’s because of that failing that the story progresses; it may not have been due to something that was her fault that the story started off in the first place, but it is because of her moral or social problem that it continues and develops the way it does. Tina Williams lands in the alternate universe where magic works because of her conceited and annoying ways; Lisa Carstairs’s father doesn’t lose his money because of her, but if she wasn’t so obsessed with continuing her piano playing exactly as before, then she wouldn’t find herself in the same difficulties. It’s not just what happens to the protagonist (or how she is challenged in the story) but how she reacts to it. She has to be ‘the architect of her own misfortunes’, as Mistyfan puts it in her post about another redemption story, “Black Sheep of the Bartons“.

Does the story have to feature some sort of disagreeableness, some sort of outright nastiness or callousness on the part of the protagonist? No: I’d say that you could certainly include ‘guilt’ stories such as “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” and “I’ll Make Up For Mary”. The protagonist here  suffers huge pangs of guilt and despair because of the loss of a loved one – a best friend or a sister in the case of these two stories, but in other cases it can be a parent – a very natural feeling, but the failing here is that she lets those emotions overwhelm her and distort her common sense. The guilty feelings of the protagonist drive the story forward, but this guilt is portrayed throughout as excessive, as an indulgence that the main character should resist. It’s the lengths that their grief drives them to that causes their difficulties in their separate stories.

Also, it’s not just about having an objectionable main character who is nicer by the end of the story. “Curtain of Silence” and “Land of No Tears” are not what I would call redemption narratives, despite having protagonists who start off pretty disagreeable and end up much improved. (Likewise “Battle of the Wills” is not, nor I think “Pandora’s Box”, but sports story “Black Sheep of the Bartons” is one I would class as such: Bev Barton isn’t horrible so much as thoughtless and reckless, but her carelessness nearly brings tragedy to her family.) Why don’t “Curtain of Silence” and “Land of No Tears” count? Because when the girl main characters are swept into their initial circumstances – enslaved by a dictatorial coach, forced into third-class citizenship in a future world – their thoughts are not primarily about how they can continue to maintain their status quo ante but about how they can defeat their antagonist. Yvonne and Cassy aren’t just trying to get back to where they were at the beginning: their story is about a positive rebellion, not a futile rejection of the truth that the outside world is telling them. They end up much nicer than they started out being, but that’s not the whole reason for having the story in the first place – it’s because they have faced extraordinary circumstances which would change anyone by making them realise that some things are bigger than individual concerns.

Does the character who ends up being redeemed have to be the protagonist, or could they be the antagonist or villain? Overall I would say it has to be the protagonist, as the main character that you are supposed to sympathise with and want things to turn out well for, but maybe one counter-example is “Wanda Whiter Than White“. Wanda is not the main character of the story and she makes Susie Foster’s life a misery with her sanctimonious ways. At the end, it is revealed, as Mistyfan explains in her story post, that ‘Wanda’s own past is not as white as she would have us believe. In fact, she is on probation after being caught stealing.’ Rather than this reveal being painted as purely a victory for the main character, it ends up with Wanda being ‘truly redeemed when she tells a white lie to help Susie in return for Susie saving her life’. The reader wasn’t rooting for Wanda’s redemption all along, but it is a satisfying ending nevertheless.

What choices could the writer make that would move the story out of the category of being a redemption narrative? Let’s take Lisa Carstairs’ story as an example. As with the OuBaPo exercises, thinking about how a story could work differently will give us a view on how the stories actually do work.

  • Imagine Lisa’s parents still losing everything at the beginning of the story, and Lisa still losing her piano. The story could then have taken a different turn: rather than being about Lisa’s misguided piano obsession and selfishness, it could have been another kind of story entirely, for instance a mystery story where Lisa finds out that her father’s business partner was a crook who needs to be brought to justice. Perhaps Lisa’s piano playing could help her to find the clues she needs, and her obsession with it could be turned to a good cause in that way, so that she needs no redemption.
  • Or let’s say the story stays as being about Lisa’s obsession with playing piano but it’s portrayed as something not to be frowned on, rather as something acceptable or allowable. How would a story work where she can continue to be focused on playing piano to the exclusion of everything else, including her family? Perhaps her family would have to be a nasty, uncaring one, to make her disinterest acceptable.
  • Or perhaps the story could proceed more or less as it does, but with an unhappy ending where Lisa gets her comeuppance. This would make her into a more of an anti-heroine than normal but would not be unheard of.

Here are the examples I would identify as fitting most neatly into the category of ‘redemption narrative’ (core examples) and as being closely related to this category without necessarily definitely being classed as such (edge cases).

Core examples

  • “Dance Into Darkness” – Della just wants to live her life down at the disco with no regard for other people, but when her wish is granted she eventually discovers there is indeed more to life than her own self-interest.
  • There are a number of stories that are driven by a bereavement: the main character makes poor decisions as a result of her strong emotions of grief and anger because she is afraid of being hurt again. “The Ghost Dancer” is one of these, as is “Nothing to Sing About”, but of course “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” and “I’ll Make Up For Mary” are the strongest examples.
  • “The Girl Who Never Was” – discussed above
  • “She Shall Have Music” – discussed above
  • I said above that I thought that it needs to be the protagonist who is redeemed, not one of the other characters. In “Go On, Hate Me!” the antagonist is driven by grief into bullying the protagonist but in the end all is cleared and the antagonist is redeemed, so I would be tempted to class this alongside “Wanda Whiter Than White” as a clear example of this kind.
  • Jackie’s Two Lives” is more about the perils of wish-fulfilment, but Jackie’s snobbishness and the fact she is ashamed of her own family is definitely a character flaw that drives the story and she is cured of it at the end.
  • “Left-Out Linda” develops the redemption pretty well by recognizing that you can’t usually turn around your life by yourself: you have to have some help.
  • “Paula’s Puppets”: Paula has to learn to forgive her enemies rather than attacking them via the magical help she has been given.
  • “Tearaway Trisha”: Trisha’s recklessness has caused a serious accident; she tries to make amends but has to change her own character in order to do so.
  • “Valley of Shining Mist” has a clearly didactic message about the improving aspect of high culture: by playing the violin, Debbie will transcend the impact of her abusive family, who are low-class in their lack of culture and their morality.
  • In “Who’s That In My Mirror?” the protagonist’s selfish nature is made very literally visible and becomes more and more so until finally she is driven to renouncing it.
  • Worlds Apart” is the ultimate morality tale – one by one, six girls are shown the worst outcomes possible for each of their specific character flaws, and they have a chance to repent. The psychological development is minimal but the impact of the story was very dramatic.

Edge cases

  • “Fancy Free “- I know the main character is so independent that this may well be characterised as a fault, but I don’t really quite remember enough about the story to say whether it is the main thing that drives the whole plot.
  • The Four Footed Friends” – arguably another case where someone other than the protagonist ends up being redeemed, though it all feels a little sudden. “Hettie High-and-Mighty” likewise features a fairly sudden change of heart on the part of an antagonist who has mostly been about making  the protagonist’s life a misery until that point. I don’t think “The Kat And Mouse Game” quite counts, either: Kat may perhaps have realised the error of her ways at the end of the story, but will her change of heart actually stick?
  • I haven’t really made my mind up about “Gwen’s Stolen Glory” – it feels like it is mostly a story about deception, though clearly once Gwen owns up to the big lie this is a kind of redemption of her former deception.
  • In “Kerry In The Clouds”, Kerry is a day-dreamer imposed upon by a woman motivated by her own unfriendly concerns. Kerry’s day-dreaming nature is cured by the end of the story, but I don’t feel the main driver of the narrative was to improve her character.
  • The main character in “Mark of the Witch!” is hot-tempered and angry at all around her, and she comes to seek a more peaceful set of emotions by the end of the story. However, so much of her story is about the persecution and abuse that her neighbours visit on her that I don’t see her story being primarily about her renouncing her hot-headed ways.
  • I’m not sure about “Pandora’s Box” and whether it counts or not. Pandora’s witchy aunt does chide her at the beginning about being too cock-sure about her talents and says that she will need to use magic sooner or later, and this is all true: but I’m not sure what sort of morality story that adds up to – not a conventional one at any rate! The main nod in this story to more conventional morality is the fact that Pandora goes from disinterest in the pet she is stuck with (her black cat familiar, Scruffy) to loving him dearly and giving up her heart’s desire in order to save his life.

One last question struck me when thinking about this. What sort of things might the protagonist have done that means she needs to go through this process of redemption in the first place? Clearly it must be something negative: the story has a moral imperative of some sort, warning readers against some kinds of behaviour. But at the same time, some things would be beyond the pale of course, and would mean that any character doing that would be irredeemable. (There might therefore be some useful comparisons made with story villains: what does their villainy consist of?) If a character killed or seriously hurt someone on purpose then that would be beyond the pale: there are a number of villains who have gone this far, sometimes with a laugh on their cruel lips, but it would be hard to imagine that a girl protagonist could do this and still recover the moral high ground at the end of the story.

In the stories above it looks like the sort of wrong-doing that needs castigating but is still redeemable is often about emotional warmth and consideration for others – it’s not about ambition (by itself) or cleverness (by itself) for instance. An arrogant protagonist can still be the heroine, but if she is cold, selfish, or inconsiderate then that’s a good signal that this is a character marked down for improvement – by whatever means necessary. Preferably it will be a Shakespearean denouement, whereby her own moral failing brings about such a huge disaster that she has no option but to change her ways! And being too afraid to risk emotional commitment comes in for a bit of a kicking too, via the guilt / grief stories. The obvious next question: is this moral imperative specific to British girls comics? Do UK boys comics have redemption narratives too? Or those in other countries? My pal Lee Brimmicombe-Wood reckons that Japan’s flourishing manga industry has many stories about mavericks who insist on going their own ways – but in that industry’s story constraints, the mavericks are always right and never forced to realise that actually, there was a reason why everyone was telling them they were going about things the wrong way…

Jinty 8 February 1975

jinty-cover-8-february-1975

Stories in this issue:

 

This week Katie’s torn between getting her own back on a horror who keeps plaguing her with practical jokes and sticking to her New Year’s resolution of being nice to people. Katie’s jinxing turns out to be the perfect compromise.

Speaking of practical jokes, they are the order of the day in this week’s episode of “Merry at Misery House”. Merry has turned to pranking Miss Ball. Then another practical joke is pulled on Miss Ball – but it isn’t Merry! What’s going on here?

It’s the final episode of “Jackie’s Two Lives”. History threatens to repeat itself for the obsessive mother who hasn’t learned her lesson from the last time she drove her daughter too hard to win the Princedale Trophy. Next week, Jackie will be replaced by another Ana Rodriguez story, “Tricia’s Tragedy”. Jinty sure liked to keep her artists in business. As with Jackie, “Tricia’s Tragedy” sounds like it has a rich vs poor basis, and there’s a trophy at stake again.

Sally seems to have succumbed to the old adage, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”. Actually, it’s another scheme to bring the “Prisoners of Paradise Island” to their senses. And it works! But will it last, or will the devious Miss Lush come up with another ploy to ruin them as hockey players?

Bird-Girl Brenda is given an ostrich egg and thinks it is a most appropriate gift for her. But perhaps it isn’t so appropriate when she starts having odd dreams about the egg.

The latest trick forced upon “Slave of the Mirror” destroys the reputation of an innocent man. But – surprise, surprise – the face in the mirror breaks down in tears when she hears what she’s done to the man! Maybe the spirit has a better side to her nature after all?

Kat definitely does not have a better side to her nature though. She’s playing nasty tricks on both Mouse and the juniors that Mouse has taken under her wing. Then she’s trying to ruin their costumes, while still trying to find a way to get Mouse expelled. All the while she still expects Mouse to do all her chores and cover for her in the role of the Tiger in the ballet show. What a nerve!

Dot is inspired to play Indians this week, which brings heap big trouble on her. Heap big angry croquet players play her at her own game and stake her out on lawn.

Ma Siddons has been so much more nasty than usual that Dora has walked out with the dogs. They’ve now taken refuge on a farm, where hijinks are ensuing between the dogs and the donkey. Things get even more hilarious when the Siddonses catch up and try to take the dogs back.

A Canadian offers to adopt the children in “Always Together”, but Beth won’t budge because she believes they should wait for their mother.

 

Wild Horse Summer (1974)

Sample images

Wild Horse Summer pg 1

Wild Horse Summer pg 2
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Wild Horse Summer pg 3
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Publication: 3 August 1974 – 30 November 1974 (18 episodes)
Artist: Unknown (same as Gwen’s Stolen Glory)
Writer: Unknown (but see Thoughts)

Translation/reprints: Translated into Dutch as ‘De zomer van het witte paard’ (in: Tina 1976, Tina Topstrip 15 (1980)). Translated into Indonesian as ‘Elvira misteri kuda putih’

Synopsis

We first meet Daphne in the orphanage that she has been consigned to since the death of her parents in the car crash that also left her unable to speak. She clearly loves all sorts of animals – she finds some field mice and her immediate thought is that they are really sweet and she wonders if she could tame them as pets. She herself is pretty wild though – when the cook finds the mice and is about to splifficate them, Daphne’s resort is to attack and bite the poor woman. Well, she can’t argue rationally with anyone, but additionally everyone in the orphanage seems to have written Daphne off as a daftie who has strange ideas and is not to be trusted.

Nor does anyone in the orphanage empathise with her in other ways. Even when she writes it down as a heartfelt plea, she is not allowed to miss the road journey to the farm that is proposed as a holiday trip – even though such a journey is bound to bring back memories of the day her parents were killed.

At the farm however she makes friends with a wild horse. Unfortunately this is a horse that everyone has been told to keep away from, as it’s ‘best left alone’ – rather like Daphne herself, I suppose. Again and again the misunderstanding by the authorities who are looking after this girl are clearly signalled – she is still shocked after the journey but the matron thinks she is avoiding doing her share, or mooning about. And the matron doesn’t really do her job properly in other ways – in telling the other girls not to go near the wild horse she doesn’t check that Daphne had heard or understood, which could have been a fatal error. She also asks her daughter Eileen, arrived to share the holiday, to befriend Daphne – and Eileen clearly shares her mother’s lack of tact, talking loudly to Daphne as if she was stupid rather than simply unable to speak.

The matron continues in this vein, taking Daphne into town by car despite her clear fear of this mode of travel; Daphne rebels and walks back by herself, but this backfires when she gets lost in the moorland with night coming on. The white horse that everyone else was warned about comes to comfort and help her, and she is charmed and delighted by the mare rather than being frightened (because she didn’t hear or listen to the earlier warning). Daphne is led back to the farm by the horse and manages to make more time to spend together after that – each lonely creature being the other’s only friend. Of course it doesn’t take long for the other kids to find out – they throw stones at the horse they believe to be dangerous, and of course Daphne can’t speak to tell them that she is friends with the mare.

The matron is fed up of Daphne sneaking off and assigns her daughter Eileen to make friends with the girl and to keep an eye on her – not that Daphne is fooled. Especially as Eileen thinks she is so clever, training to be a nurse and having an interesting case to study right in front of her! Daphne rebels, cheekily writing in Eileen’s set of notes that she needs to take ‘more care … over simple spelling.. very untidy writing…’. After initial crossness, Eileen laughs heartily and takes Daphne more seriously, opening up the possibility of real friendship between the two – but of course Daphne still has the secret of the horse to keep.

It’s not a secret for ever – Eileen finds the bridle that Daphne has been using to ride the mare, and has a dilemma of her own. If she gives away the secret then she knows Daphne will never forgive her, and if she doesn’t, then she’s afraid the white mare may turn dangerous and even kill Daphne one day. What should she do? The secret is clearly not going to last for long. Eileen tells Daphne her fears, which is at least rather more grown-up than just telling the authorities – and the warning seems to be borne out when the mare throws Daphne for no very obvious reason. Is the horse turning wild and unsteady again?

The story of the horse and the girl are clear parallels – the reason the horse seemed wild and unreliable was because of the bad experiences she had that led her to grow wild in the first place. Daphne’s hair style had reminded the horse of that time, which is why she was thrown. But the two couldn’t stay away from each other for long. When they next met they rode together for joy – into dangerous bog! Daphne is saved by the mare’s actions and wants to save her in turn – which means revealing the secret. Unfortunately, it is to the last person in the area who will take it well – she has to tell Jem, the farmhand who bears the most of a grudge against the mare, from when she broke his arm in a frenzy. He thinks the mare is dangerous and vicious, and is more likely to kill her than save her!

Because Daphne is willing to go into the bog after the horse, and drown alongside the mare if need be, Jed is forced to save the horse – but takes his gun out later to kill her after all, now he knows where she is. Of course Daphne can’t leave it like that, so she sneaks out after midnight to save the mare, which she does by hiding her in an abandoned mine – little knowing that this is just another danger. This time it is a danger for Daphne herself, who falls down a hole and cannot even scream to let people know she is there. The mare knows, but how can she bring help? Only by exposing herself to danger, which she does – she brings the farmer and Eileen to rescue Daphne. Many people in the farm now realise the horse is not dangerous after all, and are willing to rehabilitate it – but not Jed (as can be seen in the penultimate episode above). He drives the horse away and shoots at it, to make it seem as if the horse went wild again and needed a mercy-killing – but Daphne gets in the way and is shot instead.

Of course this is the denouement that leads to great remorse on Jed’s part – he carries Daphne into the farmhouse where she is nursed back to health, and leaves the farm in disgrace thereafter. The shock of the injury gives Daphne her voice back (in that way that happens in comics) and everything else ends happily – the mare will be kept by the farmer, Daphne will be understood by the people surrounding her, Eileen nurses her back to health, and the mare is given a fitting new name (Hope). In the last two panels, similarly to the sort of vindication seen at the end of “Slave of Form 3B“, Eileen even offers Daphne a bright new future – “Being dumb has given you a lot of patience and understanding, Daphne. You’d make a wonderful nurse! Mum says when you’re old enough, you could train along with me!” “Oh Eileen! I’d love to!”

Thoughts

The unknown artist (who also worked on “Gwen’s Stolen Glory”) does a lovely job once again. These were the only two Jinty stories that s/he drew: if anyone knows of any stories by this artist in other story papers, please do let me know. Many of the episodes are very clear and open in feel, with a lot of white space used for hair and other details that might well be completed in darker textures by other artists. This artist reserves that for scenes like the one in the sample pages – taking place by night, and with potentially deadly outcomes. It makes for a story drawn with a lot of nuance and variety.

The writer is also unknown. We understand that often the same writer and artist were paired up repeatedly, and Alan Davidson is known to have written “Gwen’s Stolen Glory” – could he therefore have written this story too? Hopefully his wife Pat would be able to confirm or deny this at some point, but against this suggestion we should set the point that “Jackie’s Two Lives” ran at the same time as this story. It was not unknown for writers to have two or even more stories running at the same time, but nor was it that usual.

Pat Mills is also known to have written at least one horse story in Jinty, and he has declined to specify which one (giving the impression that he was a bit unimpressed in retrospect with that particular story). This is actually a rather good story – tight and dramatic, if more low-key than some other Jinty stories with supernatural goings-on or scenery-chewing villains. It’s not the sort of thing that I would expect Pat Mills to have any particular reason to disown – the protagonist is hard-done-by by the authorities and has to make her own way in life. She takes no guff, and this is not a particularly daft story or over-the-top in any way. It could still be the missing Mills horse story, but I take leave to doubt it.

Jinty 30 November 1974

Jinty cover 30 November 1974
Jinty cover 30 November 1974.
  • The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mike White)
  • Jackie’s Two Lives (artist Ana Rodriguez, writer Alan Davidson)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terry Magee)
  • The Kat and Mouse Game (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Wild Horse Summer – last episode
  • Calling All Overseas Readers! – competition
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Always Together… (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • The Hostess with the Mostest
  • Slave of the Mirror (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)

In this issue, Jinty addresses a common gripe from overseas readers – not being able to enter Jinty competitions (because they were several months behind British readers as Jinty was brought out by ship). Jinty has started a competition especially for overseas readers.

Katie’s still out sleuthing to clear her father’s name. But her latest suspects look like real thugs! On the other hand, maybe we should feel sorry for them with the Jinx on their tail.

It is the final episode of “Wild Horse Summer”. Jed’s hatred for the white mare has been asking for serious repercussions from the beginning, and now he gets it – he has accidentally hit Daphne while trying to shoot the mare! He is so upset that he packs his bags. But his action also has positive results that wrap up the story. Its replacement next week is Jinty’s first Trini Tinturé story, “Prisoners of Paradise Island”.

Riches again lure Jackie to carry on with Mrs Mandell as her fake daughter, despite all the warning signs that this woman is clearly mentally unbalanced and danger is imminent. She turns her back on her own family even more now – and not even Mum’s birthday turns her around again.

A stray dog is alleviating the misery at Misery House for the girls, who have adopted him as a pet. But the prison authorities are not having that and are out to crush it. Miss Ball tries to shoot the dog, and then she and fink Adolfa try to slip him some poisoned meat.

Mouse just seems to be getting even more gullible at readily she falls for Kat’s tricks. Kat has tricked Mouse into being her nursemaid, and then she gives Mouse bad advice in order to trick her into dancing badly for an exam.

Ma Siddons wants to put a dog down because she thinks it is savage. When the previous owner from the circus tries to put her straight, she doesn’t listen, so it’s up to Dora’s quick wits to save the dog.

In “Always Together”, a bad accident with fire has given Beth a fear of it, which means the children have to find another way to keep warm in freezing weather. And then a new headmaster bans Johnny and other gypsies from the school because he hates gypsies. Jeepers, aren’t there laws against such discrimination?

“The Slave of the Mirror” has thrown the mirror over the cliff, but it pops back again to force her to cause more trouble at Scully House. Now it’s making her steal money, and she’ll be in even more hot water if she’s caught next week.

Jinty 23 November 1974

Jinty cover 23 November 1974

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx from St. Jonah’s (artist Mike White)
  • Jackie’s Two Lives (artist Ana Rodriguez, writer Alan Davidson)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terry Magee)
  • The Kat and Mouse Game (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Wild Horse Summer (artist and writer unknown)
  • Always Together… (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Slave of the Mirror (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)

Katie Jinks is trying to help her dad with his interview for a new job, but of course jinxes it all over the place! The real problem though is that her dad’s reputation has been blackened by the way he lost his last job, leaving Katie furious and desperate to clear his name.

Jackie Lester is finding out more and more how Mrs Mandell will drive her cruelly and without regard for safety. In Misery House, stray dog Mr Nobody is looking out for Merry’s safety but will that work for long, or will he be destroyed, as per the Warden’s orders?

New girl Leticia is about as soppy as you can get, and a soft target for Kat’s mean-spirited domination over her. This story reminds me quite a lot of “Slave of Form 3B”, but without the hypnotism. Kat’s wangling gets Mouse moved out of the hostel where she’s supposed to stay (and where other people might find out about Kat’s emotional hold over the shyer girl) and into staying at Kat’s own home.

Revenge-crazed Jed sets it up to look like the Wild Horse has escaped from her barn, even though it’s the middle of a thunderstorm – but Daphne has seen what’s going on, and gone with her beloved white horse. In the darkness, Jed’s shot doesn’t hit the horse, but the girl! He is filled with remorse, but the mare doesn’t know that, and this may be the turning point that may turn her wild in earnest… We are promised the final episode next week.

The homeless family in “Always Together…” go from bad to worse luck. They are not dragged back to the children’s home, but Jilly’s hurt her arm badly and can’t earn money, and Beth goes too close to the fire and sets herself alight!

 

Jinty 16 November 1974

Jinty cover 16 November 1974

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx from St. Jonah’s (artist Mike White)
  • Jackie’s Two Lives (artist Ana Rodriguez, writer Alan Davidson)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terry Magee)
  • The Kat and Mouse Game (artist Jim Baikie) – first episode
  • Wild Horse Summer  (artist and writer unknown)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Always Together… (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • The Hostess With the Mostest (artist Stanley Houghton)
  • Slave of the Mirror (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)

The cover story with Katie Jinks has a humorous start (with a prat-fall as usual), but moves quickly into a more thrilling story-line than we usually expect from Katie. Her father is home from sea, but with a secret – he was fired from his job because he was suspected of smuggling! Katie vows to help get him started in a new life, but you can also bet that she’ll end up trying to find out what really happened, too.

Jackie is turning her back further against her real family, while being ensnared more and more by Mrs Mandell. And more mysteries – how can Monsieur Charelle, the famous couturier, say that her measurements have hardly changed since the last time he saw her, two years ago?

Merry and co at Misery House have discovered that their mystery visitor isn’t a ghost, but a dog that has sneaked in! He’s lovely company for them, but of course the warden won’t be happy.

This issue sees the start of another rivalry / slavery story – “The Kat and Mouse Game”. Leticia has just joined ballet school Barton Grange, and spiteful bossy Kat has got her claws into her already, getting her to do chores and listen only to her and no one else. And of course even though Leticia – or Mouse, as Kat nicknames her – will have her chances of success at the school spoiled, too.

“Wild Horse Summer” is at a dramatic point – Daphne is stuck down an old mine shaft, an dependent on the wild horse to go for help. Of course the wild horse is torn between her love for Daphne and her fear of humans, but in the end she is instrumental in rescuing Daphne. It sounds like wonderful news for the girl, who will surely be allowed to keep the horse after all that – but farmhand Jed is still crazy with hatred for the white mare!

The kids in “Always Together…” are sleeping in a remote cave on the moors but still trying to do normal things, like taking part in a school concert. But one of the attendees to the concert is a Mr Giles, who knows they are runaways and may drag them back to the children’s home if he spots them… always a cliffhanger in this story.

Mia Blake is still thinking that she can stop being the Slave of the Mirror if she throws it away – but it will not break or free her from the spell of driving away all guests at the house run by Mia’s sister.

Ana Rodriguez

One of the artists mentioned in the recent talk about girls comics was Ana Rodriguez. David Roach has a set of portfolio samples used to showcase her drawing abilities (see below) which credits her as such. Initially I had little luck in finding any internet trace of her but eventually I found an entry for her on Spain’s comic artist database, Tebeosfera, as Anita Rodriguez Ruiz . This also links to an entry on Lambiek’s Comiclopedia.

Ana Rodrigues art sample
Art from “Cindy of Swan Lake”, published in Tammy

Stories in Jinty:

Stories in Tammy:

  • Mandy and the House of Models (1973)
  • Trina Drop-Out (1973)
  • Last Song at Sunset (1974)
  • Cindy of Swan Lake (1979-80)

(The latter list is taken from Catawiki, with many thanks to that site.)

She also drew a large number of stories in DC Thomson titles such as Debbie, Judy, Tracy. See the Girls Comics of Yesterday site for posts tagged with her name.

Her particular focus is clearly on girls comics, though there is little solid information on the Tebeosfera and Comiclopedia sites about other work done by her. Here are some pages from “Blind Ballerina”, where Ana Rodriguez’s showcasing of the girl protagonist’s faces is very evident.

Ana Rodriguez 27 September 1975

Ana Rodriguez 27 September 1975
click thru
Ana Rodriguez 27 September 1975
click thru

Can a computer program help us identify unknown writers? 4

Right now I am sorry to say that I haven’t had great success with the computer program that I was hoping would help us to identify unknown writers. I’m by no means declaring it to be impossible or unrealistic, but I think I will need to ask for help from the experts who wrote the program and/or who do more of this sort of analysis on a day to day basis.

My initial trials were to see if I could test a Jay Over script known to be by him against another one known to be by him, so as to see if the program could pick out a ‘known good’ example. It did do that pretty well, but it may be that I calibrated the program options too closely against Jay Over. I haven’t got to the stage of being able to say that this series of tests, done in this way, gives you a good chance of identifying this text by a known author. (Unless that known author is Jay Over, she says slightly bitterly.) And if I can’t do this reasonably reliably, there is no point (as yet, at least) in moving on to trying out unknown author texts.

In my last post about this computer program, I ran a series of 10 tests against a Jay Over text, and the program reliably picked out Jay Over as the most likely author of that text out of a supplied set of 4 test authors. It was much less reliable in picking out a test Malcolm Shaw text out of the same set of test authors: only 5 of the 10 tests suggested that Malcolm Shaw was the best fit. I have now tried the same 10 tests with an Alan Davidson text (“Jackie’s Two Lives”), and with a Pat Mills text (“Girl In A Bubble”). This means that all four of the test authors have been tested against a text that is known to be by them.

  • Unfortunately, in the test using an Alan Davidson text the program was even worse at picking him out as the ‘best fit’ result: it only did so in 2 of the 10 tests, and in 4 of the tests it placed him in last, or least likely to have written that test text.
  • In the test using a Pat Mills text, the program was rather better at picking him out as the ‘best fit’ result, though still not great: it did so in 4 out of 10 tests, and in 3 of the remaining tests he was listed second; and he was only listed as ‘least likely/worst fit’ in one of the tests.

The obvious next step was to try with a larger group of authors. I tried the test texts of Jay Over (“Slave of the Clock”) and of Malcolm Shaw (“Bella” and “Four Faces of Eve”) against a larger group of 6 authors (Primrose Cumming, Anne Digby, Polly Harris, Louise Jordan, Jay Over, Malcolm Shaw).

  • With the Jay Over text, only 7 of the 10 tests chose him as the ‘best fit’, so the attribution of him as the author is showing as less definite in this set of tests.
  • With the Malcolm Shaw texts, only 1 and 3 tests (for “Bella” and for “Eve” respectively identified him as the ‘best fit’ – not enough for us to have identified him as the author if we hadn’t already known him to be so. (He also came last, or second to last, in 4 of the first set of tests, and the same in the second set of tests.)

I should also try with more texts by each author. However I think that right now I will take a break from this, in favour of trying to contact the creators of the program. I hope they may be able to give me better leads of the right direction to take this in. Do we need to have much longer texts for each author, for instance? (We have generally been typing up just one episode for each author – I thought might be too much of an imposition to ask people to do any more than that, especially as it seemed sensible to try to get a reasonably-sized group of authors represented.) Are there some tests I have overlooked, or some analytical methods that are more likely to be applicable to this situation? Hopefully I will be able to come back with some extra info that means I can take this further – but probably not on any very immediate timescale.

In the meantime, I leave you with the following list of texts that people have kindly helped out with. You may find (as I have) that just looking at the texts themselves is quite interesting and revealing. I am more than happy to send on any of the texts if they would be of interest to others. There are also various scans of single episodes sent on by Mistyfan in particular, to whom many thanks are due.

  • Alison Christie, “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” (typed by Marckie)
  • Primrose Cumming, “Bella” (typed by Lorrbot)
  • Alan Davidson, three texts
    • “Fran of the Floods” (typed by Marckie)
    • “Jackie’s Two Lives” (typed by me)
    • “Kerry In the Clouds” (typed by me, in progress)
  • Anne Digby, “Tennis Star Tina” (typed by Lorrbot)
  • Gerry Finley-Day, “Slaves of War Orphan Farm” (typed by Mistyfan)
  • Polly Harris, two texts
    • “Monkey Tricks” (typed by Mistyfan)
    • “Midsummer Tresses” (typed by Mistyfan)
  • Louise Jordan, “The Hardest Ride” (typed by Mistyfan)
  • Jay Over, two texts
    • “Slave of the Clock” (typed by me)
    • “The Secret of Angel Smith” (typed by me)
  • Malcolm Shaw, five texts
    • “Lucky” (typed by Lorrbot)
    • “The Sentinels” episode 1 (typed by Lorrbot)
    • “The Sentinels” episode 2 (typed by Lorrbot)
    • “Bella” (typed by Lorrbot)
    • “Four Faces of Eve” (typed by Lorrbot)
  • Pat Mills, two texts
    • “Concrete Surfer” (typed by me)
    • “Girl In A Bubble” (typed by me)
  • John Wagner, “Eva’s Evil Eye” (typed by Mistyfan)