Tag Archives: John Armstrong

Sandie 4 March 1972

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Roy Newby)
  • Wendy the Witch (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Neil Diamond (artist Bob Gifford)

Norah has to fight hard to win the swimming trial that Mrs Maddox has arranged for her to enter. The committee isn’t very impressed with her at first but as Mrs Maddox points out, she hasn’t had any training and still can battle the odds and win. She is allowed in on trial only, but that is more than enough for starters. Cousin Lorna is mad as fire, of course. And at the end of the episode, Mrs Maddox muses that Norah reminds her of someone… who could it be?

Susie Mann proves to the rest of her form that she was ‘voted’ into position of Form Captain purely due to lies and deception on the part of the authorities. Nevertheless, she takes on the task of Captain, purely because she wants to lead her class into outright rebellion! By the end of the episode, her Head Girl sister is fuming.

Anna sneaks out to see her friend Julia, who has had to listen to her father spout a lot of nonsense about how the kids from Madeley Buildings are a lot of hooligans. But it’s not the father that the two girls need to worry about – it’s estate manager Ramage who is putting every barrier in their way. Anna manages to get over the wall to meet up with Julia and give her a birthday present, and  Mr Crossley even lets them have their birthday picnic, but Ramage makes up a story about Anna having stolen some pears and gets her thrown out in disgrace.

Dale gets back late to her dorm room and finds that her friend Emily has disappeared in the way that other people have been doing – she has been replaced by a cold-eyed girl who says she is ‘the new girl’. A likely story! Miss Voor is still setting tests for all the girls and this time they have to solve a difficult riddle. Dale solves it, but only to hide the prize so that no one else can find it, because she is worried about the whole set-up. Soon there is another challenge when Dale and her other friend Daphne sneak into Miss Voor’s office – they find a box with a big initial V on it. Does it hold the answer to the mystery?

The two girls in “Our Big BIG Secret” continue to hide the fact they have become owners of a very large dog, and hillbilly Lucy continues to astound polite society – this time with her pet skunk. But the skunk did save Locksley Hall from burglars at  least!

Wee Sue saves the hockey game, and even fixes the engine on the bus on the way back from the game. Too clever for her own good, as her friend Kay says? Not half!

Elaine is saved from being run down by Miss Pettifor, the headmistress at the school she was at before her father’s ship went down. The worse discovery that Elaine makes, though, is that it is her Uncle Ned who is behind the attempts to kill her! Along with her friend Mary, Elaine tries to enlist the help of her old acquaintance Patricia Millard, but to no avail – and indeed her old friend tells her to her face that Elaine “has been dead these past three weeks!”.

We have two Mike Brown strips in Sandie at this time! “Wendy the Witch” is also on the go. To defeat a bully, she zaps a baby with a spell: “Oh, baby with the lolly – be big, but not jolly!” and Big Bully Bab gets her just desserts at the hands of said enlarged tot!

Sandra and her sister are increasingly on the outs. Joan wants to get her strength back to do her own dancing again, but they both want to keep their grandmother happy and she thinks that it is Joan doing the super dancing. Joan is indeed dancing, or at least trying to recover her strength – but as the nurse warns, if she tries to rush things she may lose all chance of ever being able to dance again.

Trudy finds out that Mr Macready isn’t dead or dying after all, but is worrying so much about her that she was called urgently to his bedside. When she gets back to the scrapyard she finds two of her rivals poking around the rickety ruins – so rickety that it promptly collapses on them. They need to be rescued – partly due to Silver pawing at the rubble and attracting the attention of helpers. Now Trudy needs to find a place to stable Silver overnight, to no avail – and when she returns to the hospital she finds that Mr Macready has disappeared!

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Sandie 26 February 1972

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Roy Newby)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Cat Stevens (artist Bob Gifford)

Norah has a go at swimming in the local lake, which she’s not supposed to do – she attracts attention from various people, but luckily also from Mrs Maddox, who is not angry but rather offers her a visit to her house so that she can clean up and even have a try at her swimming pool instead… The quality of Norah’s swimming interests Mrs Maddox greatly and she asks Norah to the local swimming club for a trial. Cousin Lorna is far from pleased!

Susie Mann is wreaking havoc of all sorts. The other schoolgirls in her class are not totally sure what to make of her. She gets one of her classmates released from the cooler where she was unjustly locked up, but the headmistress conspires to get Susie elected as new Form Captain despite all her protestations. The Head is trying to make sure that power will go to Susie’s head – she doesn’t know who she’s dealing with, I think.

Anna finds the forbidden friend – it is Julia, the daughter of her horrible landlord, Mr Crossley. Mind you, the landlord is not half as mean as the estate manager, who stalks the grounds of Crossley House with a big Alsatian. Julia invites Anna to a birthday tea the next day, but Ramage wants to keep out anyone who has any connection with the Madeley Buildings where Anna lives.He’s going to make sure no one can get over the wall…

The creepy Miss Voor has got a bunch of cold-eyed clones to staff the school alongside her. They are working as teacher’s aids in each class, but they very much have their own agenda. For some reason they want to find the ‘best’ at everything – the tallest girl in class, the best at knitting, and so on. But there is more going on – at night, Dale finds that her room-mate Emily has been replaced by one of Miss Voor’s creepy clones!

Poppy and Daisy Mason find a nearby old lady who will happily look after their huge dog for them, but he is too clever for the old lady and soon escapes. If Poppy and Daisy’s parents find out about Pedro, he’ll be for it!

Hillbilly Lucy is sent to a snobbish school, but no one there is kind and sympathetic. Guardian Lady Primrose takes the snobs down a peg or two.

Wee Sue is worried about her French – she has learned a lot with Kay teaching her (even though they were playing hockey at the time!) but there are still big gaps in her knowledge. Sue is caught out of bounds while trying to study at night, and the hockey captain stops her from playing in the big hockey game the next day – she substitutes pal Kay instead. Sue knows this is not a good idea, as Kay isn’t a great player and the captain is just trying to show her up, but Kay takes Sue’s comments the wrong way and thinks that Sue has turned against her.

Little Lady Nobody is pushed down the well, but she clings onto the rope and avoids falling all the way into the well. Fellow servant Mary saves her but Elaine immediately betrays her. Mary falls ill as a result but Elaine makes up for her betrayal by being staunchly by MAry’s side during her illness. The other servants are won over, too – at least somewhat.

Sandra continues to dance on her sister’s behalf, but now her sister is jealous of the fact that all the kudos is going to her sister, and not to her. But they are both doing this just for their grandmother – it’s not a comfortable deception for either of the twins.

Bonnie’s Butler wins out again – Bonnie’s mother goes out for a posh evening do, courtesy of Gregston, rather than the trip to see a horror film that Bonnie’s father had planned.

Trudy rescues Silver from the burning stables but her friend and mentor is struck down with a heart attack. Now she doesn’t know where she can keep the horse; but her immediate concern is overwhelmingly about her friend, Mr MacReady.

Sandie 19 February 1972

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Roy Newby)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Gilbert O’Sullivan (artist Bob Gifford)

There seem to be two copies of Issue 2 in this box I have just received – one nice clean copy as above (though with one coupon cut out, affecting the “Brenda’s Brownies” page but nothing else), and one with a couple of ladybird badges drawn over the cover girl’s collar and, rather disturbingly, on her neck! There is also one of her teeth fetchingly blacked-out. Not a mint copy!

Norah is keen to join the local swimming club, but her no-good cousins are trying to shut her out. They have just told the wealthy president of the swimming club that Norah is the ‘new help’ – but it does mean that the kind words that Mrs Maddox says to Norah are received with true emotion. Of course Norah isn’t going to be able to join the pool so easily – cousin Lorna tears her costume into rags and tells her it costs far too much money for her to join anyway.

The school started and run by the Manns is looking rather more sinister than in the first episode. Susie Mann is trying to stir stuff up and show she isn’t interested in becoming the next Head Girl  or whatever, but her prank gets another girl landed in the cooler instead. And it’s a literal cooler – down in the dungeons, set up like a prison! Susie is having none of it, but how will the powers that be take it?

Anna Martin lives in a block of flats in the East End of London. Her only interest is in bird-watching. Everyone else teases her and destroys things to do with her hobby (a book, a nesting box). It looks like Anna will find a friend who may share her interest – but probably someone related to her nasty landlord, Mr Crossley.

At St Junipers, new headmistress Miss Voor is being very odd. She catches rebel schoolgirl Dale out of doors at night and just makes her climb back up the ivy into her dorm. Next thing she does is to tell the girls that half of them will get no lunch and the other half will get double helpings. ?! Dale organizes a strike to share out the food, or (once Miss Voor prevents them from doing that) at least makes sure that if some have no food, then all will refuse their food in solidarity. But oddest of all – the last shot shows a group of tall, stern women in Miss Voor’s office, all looking very like her, and all with the same cold blank eyes as this weird woman!

The two girls have named their big secret – the dog is called Pedro. He’s not happy at his sleeping accommodation, and ends up getting his way and sleeping in Poppy’s bed, while she has to bunk up with Daisy.

Hillbilly Lucy is the daughter of the new Earl of Locksley (also a hillbilly). His Lordship leaves to go on a round the world cruise, and Lucy is to be looked after by Lady Primrose and turned into a lady – whether she likes it or not! At least it turns out that Lady Primrose is a crack shot, when she stops some intended poaching from taking place. (It’s the nesting season, so even not-particularly-law-abiding Lucy agrees it would be better not to shoot pheasants at this time.)

Wee Sue is preoccupied because she isn’t great at French (they didn’t do it at her old school). She is a scholarship girl so is worried about losing her place if she can’t keep up in lessons, but in fact the headteacher and others seem more interested in her sporting prowess. Luckily friend Kay teaches her French – during the hockey! It works well and Sue’s team wins.

Historical sob-story “Little Lady Nobody” turns sinister quickly. Elaine learns that her second day as a skivvy will be rather worse than her first as she is nearly suffocated when a fire is started while she is up a chimney – and later when she goes to fetch water from the well, she is given a hard push from behind!

Sandra discovers she can only dance well when her sister is nearby, willing her to do so. Neither of the twins want to disappoint their grandmother so they both continue to collude in the deception, even though it means trying to ensure that twin Joan is wheeled to the theatre by their unsuspecting gran. Will it work?

Bonnie’s Butler continues to be a quick-witted helper. This time he makes sure that Bonnie and her school pals triumph with their school task of making jam puffs.

Trudy enters Silver into a showjumping competition, but he’s not been trained to jump and muffs it badly. Scrapmerchant Mr Macready is a helpful mentor, but tragedy strikes as a fire breaks out in the stables where Silver is bedded down for the night.

Sandie 12 February 1972

This is the first issue of Sandie. Through a stroke of fortune, I have just today got my hands on 69 issues of Sandie (and Tammy & Sandie). These were all bought by the mother of a girl whose name is shown on the issues as ‘Diane Lidgett’. The mother in question seems to have been something of a hoarder and the now grown-up girl – herself a mother and indeed a grandmother – recently unearthed them. The family wanted the comics to go to a good home and that’s what has just happened – that is, after they had had a good chance to re-read the stories themselves! If the pressures of work and other life stuff allow, I will post about each issue  in order, as I come to them.

As with the first issues of Jinty, this runs to 40 pages. It’s packed full of stories that are drawn by familiar names, though of course it is hard to know in most cases who wrote them.

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Roy Newby)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – George Best (artist Bob Gifford)

“Norah” looks like it is going to be a a tear-jerker Cinderella story, sharing a lot of similar ground with “Tricia’s Tragedy” in that a talented but poor swimmer needs to brave her way through challenges posed by wrong’uns from her own family as well as the difficulties put in her way by lack of money.

“Little Lady Nobody” is a riches-to-rags saga – in the first episode, snobbish Miss Elaine quickly finds out that her father has died and left only debts, meaning that she has to become a servant in the very same snobbish school that she had previously made lots of enemies in due to her horrible attitude. Only one scullery maid is on her side after her downfall and everyone else is positively out to get her.

Susie Mann is the latest of the Mann family to attend the posh private school that her ancestors started and which all of her family seem to have loved to make waves in. Susie is different, though – I had assumed at first that she might be a lovable klutz type, but by the end of this first episode it looks more like there might be something a bit sinister in how the school works, or at the very least that all her family members have enjoyed being bossy more than being kind and considerate. Whichever it is, Susie will definitely turn everything upside down, by the looks of it.

A one-pager of Brenda’s Brownies gives us some broad comedy – Brenda’s Tarantula Troupe are trying for their Baking Badge but end up needing to have a go at their Hut Building Badge, if they can possibly manage it…

Two sisters win a mystery prize in “Our Big BIG Secret” – a dog! They have been wanting one for ages but it’s the perennial question of where will they keep it, how will they pay for its food – and will their mother ever agree to let them keep it? it’s a fairly well-worn path but Jim Baikie’s art is always a treat and this has little humorous labels dotted here and there, in a way that foreshadows Baikie’s “Fran’ll Fix It!“.

From a mystery prize to a mystery story in “The School of No Escape” – Headmistress Miss Fitch of St Juniper’s has a sudden funny turn and walks out of the school entirely, only to be replaced by newcomer Miss Voor, who immediately announces herself as the new Headmistress. She is clearly a mind-controller and probably the fore-runner of an alien invasion, I shouldn’t wonder, as before the episode is out she has sent the deputy headmistress walking out in a very similar way, all the while asking the schoolgirls questions like “What are the names of the leaders of the principal nations on this planet?”

The new Earl of Locksley and his daughter are country bumpkins from rural America (though the editorial text says they come from Texas while the story intro says they are from Tennessee). Laughs ensue as the local high society mix with the rough and ready hillbillies.

Wee Sue, in her debut, is quite different from the later stories. Here Sue Strong is a small girl full of big surprises – she is clearly capable of taking down a class bully through unexpected sporting prowess, which isn’t something I would really have associated the later Sue stories with.

Bonnie Belthorp finds out that her family have inherited a butler, as per the will of the old lady that Bonnie’s mother used to do the cleaning for! This is a comedy story with a Jeeves-type character who is capable of winning through any situation.

In “Sandra Must Dance”, there are twin sisters who both love ballet, but only one of whom is any good. Duffer Sandra has to stand in for dancer Joan, and this deception bid fair to become permanent when Joan is injured in an accident and it looks like she will never be able to dance again. But Sandra has mysteriously started to feel a strange link with her twin, and this even seems to telepathically enable her to dance – on her paralysed twin’s behalf…

Trudy Parker is a poor girl who loves horses. She has a chance to buy ex-milk cart horse Star, who turns out to be a fantastic jumper – but will she find somewhere to stable him, let alone be able to enter into competitions? Her local rag-and-bone man is on her side, at any rate.

The Editorial page says there will be another great new story starting next week – I must say I can’t really see how they will manage to fit it in! Let’s see what happens…

Tammy & Jinty 9 January 1982

Tammy & Jinty cover 9 January 1982

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong)
  • Danger Dog – first episode (artist Julio Bosch?)
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Shadow of Sherry Brown (artist Maria Barrera)
  • Little Sisters – first episode (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Nanny Young – first episode (artist Phil Gascoine, writers Maureen Spurgeon and Tom Newland)
  • Bessie Bunter – Old Friends (artist Arthur Martin)
  • Molly Mills and the Unhappy New Year – Old Friends (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Monster Tales: The Secret of Seafleet – first episode (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
  • Sandy – A Fresh Start – first episode (artist Juliana Buch)

We are now into the new year of the Tammy & Jinty merger. Indeed, the Molly Mills story in this issue has the New Year theme, where an old superstition causes the New Year to get off to a bad start at Stanton Hall. There is no New Year theme in the Bessie Bunter story, but there is a party theme where Miss Stackpole wants to go to a dance, but her new shoes need breaking in. Bessie volunteers to help stretch them. Of course Bessie has her own agenda in borrowing the shoes for a bit – namely, to cover her tracks when raiding the kitchen.

As part of the New Year celebrations, Tammy & Jinty bring out a lineup of five new stories (count ‘em, five!). There is little doubt that these were waiting in the wings while the merger completed other serials from both Tammy and Jinty in the first weeks of the merger.

Some months before the merger, there was a letter asking for Sandy back. The Editor replied that a new Sandy story was in hand and would be published in a few months, so stay tuned for an announcement. This meant the story was kept waiting for quite a while (wonder how many other stories were kept waiting for months before publication?). This is the third (and last) Sandy Rawlings story, and it takes the then revolutionary step of featuring boyfriends and boyfriend troubles. Sandy’s boyfriend troubles stem mainly from her father who not only still treats her like a little girl (all too common) but also chooses the boyfriends for her. To make matters worse, Dad’s choices of ‘suitable’ boyfriends for Sandy are determined by his snobby attitudes and his business connections rather than Sandy’s tastes. In this story, Dad becomes Education Officer of Birchborough, which means the family is on the move straight after Christmas. But will Sandy’s New Year be happy? Given how interfering her father can be when it comes to boyfriends, we wouldn’t bet on it.

I suspect “Little Sisters”, which also starts this issue, was originally written for Jinty as it gets an appearance in the 1984 Jinty annual. I am not quite sure why it is called “Little Sisters” as there is only one little sister, Samantha “Sam” Grey. Maybe it is meant to have us thinking “these kid sisters”. As you might have guessed, Sam’s age causes all sorts of scrapes for her older sister Carol. But there are other times when little sis is a blessing for Carol.

“Nanny Young” is the first story former Jinty artist Phil Gascoine draws for the merger. Tina Young is trying to find her first job as a nanny, but her looks (everyone thinks she looks too young to be a nanny) and even her surname (Young) are against her. How can she overcome this hurdle? Of course, this being a girls’ comics, Tina’s break comes in an unexpected and humorous manner, but when Tina sees her first family, she finds this is only the first hurdle to be overcome.

“Danger Dog” may have been originally written for Misty as it uses a Misty artist. It may have been inspired by “The Plague Dogs” or “Rats of NIMH”. Beth Harris rescues her dog Sammy from a scientific research station, but there is a fear that he may be contaminated with something from it.

“Monster Tales” is the most striking feature of the new lineup because it is so unconventional. It is a series of monster-themed stories, beginning with smugglers trying their hand at wrecking, only to encounter a sea monster that got washed up from the ship they wrecked. Afterwards they all disappear without a trace and everyone gets so frightened that they clear out of the area. I wonder if this was originally written for Misty or been inspired by her, as neither Tammy nor Jinty would run such a feature.

The stories that started in the first issue of the merger continue. Bella’s still having problems gaining points in the “Superkid” contest and the track-and-field events aren’t helping so far. Then Bella finds just what she needs – gym apparatus. After a practice on it, she surprises everyone by coming back looking a champion. Will this turn things around next week?

The jealous ghost of Sherry Brown shows she is capable of hurting even her own best friend when Katy Bishop foolishly begins to become friends with her too. Sherry’s action has put both girls in danger of drowning in the weir.

In Pam of Pond Hill, Pam’s class have been temporarily housed at St Dorrit’s while Pond Hill is closed because the foundations are under repair. But St Dorrit’s is such a super-snob school that even the caretaker looks down on them. Everyone, pupils and school staff alike, go out of their way to make it clear that Pond Hill is not welcome at St Dorrit’s. The poor Pond Hill pupils are forced to take their lessons in a substandard hut, which is leaking from bad weather in this week’s episode. After a visit from their unsympathetic headmaster, Pam tries to bridge the gap between the schools by encouraging her classmates to offer olive branches to the St Dorrit’s pupils. But she soon finds that this has opened the door to more of their bullying when they play a dirty trick with Di’s hair!

Moonchild [1978]

Sample Images

Moonchild 1Moonchild 2Moonchild 3Moonchild 4

Published: Misty 4 February 1978 – 29 April 1978

Episodes: 13

Artist: John Armstrong

Writer: Pat Mills

Translations/reprints: Misty annual 1983; Misty Vol. 1 2016, published by Rebellion

Plot

All Rosemary Black wants is to lead a normal life and have friends, but she does not get much chance at home or at school. Her mother (no father is present) is severe and abusive, and she shows Rosemary no love or affection at all. She is always beating Rosemary black and blue with a cane because she thinks there is a “dark wickedness” in Rosemary that must be beaten out. What dark wickedness? Rosemary is clearly not a bad lot.

At one point Mrs Black is hauled up before the magistrate because of her treatment of Rosemary. But the magistrate dismisses the case without even a slap on the wrist. He believes parents should use more discipline, and just tells Mrs Black not to overdo it in future.

Mrs Black is not only abusive but strange as well. She does not allow gas or electricity at her house (Rosemary has to do her homework by candlelight). She does not allow Rosemary any freedom or dress fashionably like other girls, and she clamps down on any bids for these with more abuse, and bigotry to rival any fundamentalist. She doesn’t even allow Rosemary to have birthday parties (something that will have dire consequences later). Strangest of all, Mrs Black sometimes looks at Rosemary as if she’s afraid of her – now what could be the reason for that? Mrs Black’s dress sense is just as bizarre; she always goes out wearing a black cloak. This makes her look like a witch, which is precisely what everyone whispers whenever they see her.

Yes, Mrs Black has clearly got quite a reputation around the town for weirdness if not witchiness. It seems Rosemary does too; there is graffiti on a wall that says: “Rosemary Black is a weirdo”. It looks like someone else wrote “true” underneath that.

We get a pretty good idea on who wrote that graffiti when we get to Rosemary’s school. Girls pick on Rosemary because there’s something strange about her that nobody can really pinpoint. The worst bully is Norma Sykes, who’s a bad lot and got ‘delinquent’ written all over her (and where does she get those fags of hers when she must be underage, like Rosemary?). Her reason (or excuse) for tormenting Rosemary is that in her view Rosemary deserves it for being so weird, and her daily fix is getting Rosemary to cry. Norma has two cronies, Freda and Dawn, and she constantly holds them to their oath of loyalty to her.

Anne is Rosemary’s only friend at school. Anne gives Rosemary a more fashionable hairdo, which exposes a crescent moon-shaped mark on her forehead. After Rosemary finds the moon mark, strange things do begin to happen to her in earnest. It’s like there’s some sort of power growing inside her; small objects move and a television set goes on the blink for no apparent reason when Rosemary is around. The power gets stronger when the moon is full, and the school nurse finds the mark is burning red hot although Rosemary has no temperature. But the first really spectacular event occurs when one of Norma’s tricks (match in a piece of chalk) sets Rosemary’s hair on fire. Rosemary seems to subconsciously lash out at Norma – and then a bookcase starts toppling towards the bully. Norma narrowly avoids being flattened.

Rosemary is sent to the school nurse, who refers her to the school doctor, Dr Armstrong, about the moon mark. Afterwards, Rosemary and Anne discuss this strange power that seems to be growing. It grows even more when it enables Rosemary to save Anne from a nasty accident and they realise strong emotion is key. That night, a full moon prompts Rosemary to practise with the power, and she gains more control over it.

When Mrs Black sees what Rosemary is doing, she really goes berserk. She yells that she knew it would happen and it was the evil she had been trying to beat out of Rosemary all along. She really brings the cane on this time to teach Rosemary not to use her “wicked gift”. However, Rosemary snatches the cane away with her powers: “No! You will not hit me…ever again!” And wouldn’t you know it – Mrs Black never beats Rosemary again!

Meanwhile, Norma wants revenge on Rosemary because of the punishment she got for the match trick (although her cronies did the lines for her) and brings out her big guns. Norma’s plan, called “Operation Rosemary”, is intended to hurt Rosemary where it hurts most by crushing the thing that Rosemary desires the most. In order to find out what this desire is, Norma directs Dawn to become ‘friendly’ with Rosemary. Anne is to be pushed out of the way in order to help this along. Dawn is to gain enough of Rosemary’s trust for her to say what the desire is. Then they will concoct the way to ruin it.

Next day, Rosemary is surprised at Dawn suddenly coming all over friendly and helpful to her. Even Norma is leaving her alone. Rosemary wonders if the other girls are starting to accept her. Anne is suspicious at this sudden friendliness from Dawn and warns Rosemary to be the same. Anne’s suspicions make things too difficult for Dawn to break them up. Norma decides hard measures are required to get rid of Anne, so she fouls Anne at a hockey match to put her in hospital.

Meanwhile, Dr Armstrong is intrigued at Rosemary’s moon mark. He becomes even more intrigued when the needle bends inexplicably when he tries to give Rosemary an injection. He wants to refer her for further testing. For this he gives Rosemary a consent form for her mother to sign. Mrs Black throws the form away, saying the gift is evil and she does not want that sort of interference.

That night Rosemary has a strange nightmare of a raging fire where Norma, Freda, Dawn, and even Anne are laughing hysterically at her. Then she falls into the fire. Upon awakening, Rosemary checks on her mother, and is surprised to find a photograph of a beautiful woman who also has the moon mark. Mrs Black explains that it is Rosemary’s grandmother. Grandmother also had the “evil” gift and something terrible happened to her because of it. Mrs Black tells Rosemary not to use that gift or something similar will happen to her. Rosemary can’t really believe it because Grandmother looks a nice woman to her and she is soon feeling a bond with her. Mrs Black goes crazy and tries to burn the photograph, but Rosemary rescues the photograph with her powers. At this, Mrs Black washes her hands of Rosemary entirely, though just what she means by that is not clear. To help decide things, Rosemary retrieves the consent form and forges her mother’s signature on it so she can have the tests.

Dr Armstrong watches Rosemary’s powers in action at the tests. This includes her powers going berserk and smashing up the laboratory when she gets distressed at the sight of Anne being carried away on a stretcher. Dr Armstrong tells her that her power is called telekinesis. Rosemary tells him about her grandmother having the power and the mother’s attitude about it. So Dr Armstrong now wants to interview Mrs Black. Unbeknownst to Rosemary, Dr Armstrong is getting greedy and wants to use his discovery to catapult him to the heights of fame in science.

Dawn finally convinces Anne and Rosemary of her friendliness with a get-well present (flowers raided from the park flowerbed) in hospital. However, Dawn is still having problems obtaining the information Norma wants. And Rosemary is also getting the impression that they are being shadowed. At Dawn’s house, Rosemary uses her powers to distract Dawn’s kid brother from a tantrum by moving his toys telekinetically. He is thrilled with these fascinating antics with his toys. Then Rosemary is very surprised when another power, which is even stronger than hers, takes control of one of the toys and throws a scare into Dawn. Now where could that power have come from? Well, there is one other person with the power who’s been mentioned in the story…could that be a clue?

Mrs Black is called up to the school. She tells the doctor and the nurse that the power and accompanying moon mark had run in the family for generations. Apparently she is the black sheep in reverse because she is the only one in the family without it. She says she was lucky in escaping the “curse” (pull the other one, as we see later!). As a child, Julia (Mrs Black’s first name) did not really mind her mother’s power and just thought it was strange.

Then one night the power caused a terrible tragedy in the family. Grandmother was surprised by an intruder in the house, panicked, and used her telekinesis to hit him with an iron, which unwittingly caused his death. Too late she discovered that it was her own husband, who had gone AWOL from the army and was sneaking back to see them. Julia saw how her mother’s telekinesis had unwittingly killed her own father. From that moment on, Julia went against her mother, who was imprisoned because the police did not accept it was an accident (probably because they did not believe how it happened). Mrs Black had not seen her mother since then (she was raised in child welfare after that) and believes she died in prison. She blames the power for her father’s death, and calls both it and her mother evil. When she had Rosemary, she was horrified to discover her baby had the power too. Her harshness (which she begins to regret a bit) was meant to crush it and stop another terrible thing happening.

The doctor and nurse try to reason with Mrs Black, saying the tragedy was not really her grandmother’s fault. The power itself is not evil; such thinking does not belong in this day and age. She does not listen and tells the doctor she will not have any more of his tests on Rosemary.

Rosemary’s 13th birthday is coming up. This finally prompts her to tell Dawn what she would really like – a birthday party, which is something her strict mother has never allowed. So now the next phase of Operation Rosemary is planned. Norma says she will be Rosemary’s fairy godmother (a very evil fairy, of course) and give Rosemary “a very special birthday party” where they “give her da woiks!” Soon after, Dawn tells Rosemary they are organising a birthday party for her, and her house will be used for it. Dawn has arranged for her parents and kid brother to be absent from the house (to get them out of the way, of course).

Mrs Black now tells Rosemary the story about the grandmother and just what she means when she says something terrible will happen if she keeps using the power. Rosemary gives in and promises not to use the power.

But that night, Rosemary is surprised when that other power returns, and it is trying to enter the house. Being stronger than Rosemary’s, it wins the fight. The door opens to reveal…Grandmother (died in prison, huh?).

Grandmother says she has been watching Dawn, figured out her game (that toy terror was an attempt to scare Dawn off) and come to warn Rosemary. Mrs Black finds Grandmother in the house and is not making her welcome. Grandmother rebukes Mrs Black for the way she treated Rosemary. When Rosemary says it was meant for her own good, Grandmother says that’s not the real reason. The truth is that Mrs Black is jealous because she was the only one in the family without the power, and she took it out on Rosemary. One look at Mrs Black’s face confirms this, as do her comments that if she had inherited the power she would have used it for evil: “Oh, what I could have done with the power!” Rosemary goes upstairs all confused and just wanting to be ordinary. After Grandmother’s visit, the relationship between Rosemary and her mother becomes so bad that they are hardly speaking to each other.

Unfortunately, Rosemary does not heed Grandmother’s warning about Dawn. In her view she can trust Dawn because Anne does now (haven’t you heard of misplaced trust, Rosemary?). So the party/final stage of Operation Rosemary goes ahead at Dawn’s house.

At the party, Norma and her gang lock Anne up so she cannot interfere with Operation Rosemary. It is a birthday party where everything is designed to be horrible and reduce Rosemary to tears. The birthday ‘surprises’ include presents filled with nasty things such as worms, and a birthday cake laden with the most vile ingredients Norma could find: fag butts, cat meat, fish bones, rotten eggs and the like. The bullies ruin Rosemary’s newly made party dress by spraying all over it, and all over her as well. Upstairs they bully Rosemary further with ‘party games’. But they didn’t mean the balustrade to break and Rosemary fall off the staircase.

Then the bullies are really surprised to see Rosemary floating in mid air! (We learn later that Grandmother was holding her telekinetically.) Rosemary says it’s her turn now, so Operation Rosemary now meets Rosemary’s revenge as Rosemary’s real party begins. Rosemary starts using her telekinesis to attack the bullies. One of the best moments is where she telekinetically throws the vile ‘birthday cake’ right into Norma’s face. Talk about a taste of your own medicine! As she goes, Rosemary shouts that she is now figuring out their whole plan, and she also finds and releases Anne. The bullies are terrified, terrorised and trying to run. Norma exposes herself as the coward she really is with ludicrous excuses for what she did and attempts to sacrifice her cronies to save herself (and she has the nerve to expect them to swear perpetual loyalty to her!).

But the worst is yet to come. Norma lights a fag to calm herself, which starts a fire that spreads fast. The girls begin to laugh hysterically as they become trapped in the fire, which fulfils what Rosemary saw in her dream. Rosemary tries to extinguish the fire telekinetically – but finds that she can’t! She has over-extended the power and now it has burned out, rendering her powerless.

Then Grandmother appears, and extinguishes the fire with her own powers. However, the strain on her powers has been too much, and she dies in hospital. Grandmother dies content, as she feels she has made amends for that other tragedy, which blighted her life with guilt. Rosemary regrets not listening to her grandmother’s warnings, and also that she did not get the chance to spend longer with her.

The police collect enough evidence on the nightmare party to send Norma to approved school. The fates of Dawn and Freda are not recorded, but no doubt these will include the reactions of Dawn’s parents to the state of the house and trouble with the police.

Mrs Black disappears, leaving Rosemary on her own. Anne’s family gladly take her in. So Rosemary finally has the normal life she wanted, but is saddened at the price she has paid for it.

Thoughts

This was one of the stories in Misty’s first lineup. Like Misty’s other first serials (“The Sentinels” and “The Cult of the Cat”), “Moonchild” still endures and is well remembered. There are strong indications that it was very popular, and writer Pat Mills attributes much of this to the artist, John Armstrong.

Many of Misty’s stories drew on popular literature and films. This one is definitely based on Stephen King’s Carrie. There is no mistaking the parallels. The protagonist is a bullied girl who possesses the power of telekinesis. The telekinetic is the product of a broken home, family tragedy, and an abusive, bigoted mother and absent father. The telekinetic uses her telekinesis to wreak a terrifying revenge on tormentors who tried to destroy her big night with cruel tricks. There are also some Rosemary’s Baby references thrown into the mix (the name of the protagonist and the Mia Farrow hairstyle she gets). And is Dr Armstrong named after the artist, John Armstrong?

There have been zillions of stories about bullying, but the drawing card of this one is – what if the bullied girl has the power? Yes, wouldn’t we love to have a power like that to strike down a bully! We want to follow this story as soon as we read the blurb on the splash page because it is just something we would love to do ourselves.

The exact origins of the power are not defined and the grandmother herself does not know where it came from. All she knows is, the power has been in the family for generations. The telekinesis is clearly hereditary, but it is not just some genetic mutation as in Carrie. It is linked to the moon mark and the moon itself, which the telekinesis draws its power from. This suggests some sort of supernatural or SF origin, and the undefined but clear connection with the powers of the moon makes the story even spookier. The insinuation of a supernatural origin also suggests that the power passing over Rosemary’s mother is not simply a genetic mutation skipping a generation. The grandmother tells her daughter she was probably not given it because she would have used it badly, and she could just well be right.

Mrs Black is at least saner than her counterpart in Carrie, who may have a borderline personality disorder as well as being a religious fanatic who should feel right at home at Westboro Baptist Church. When we learn the reason for Mrs Black’s attitudes about the power Rosemary has, she even becomes more sympathetic and her conduct more understandable, although not excusable. It is easy to understand how the shock and grief of losing her father, her mother becoming his killer, her happy family life shattered forever, and spending the rest of her childhood in orphanages could affect her mind and cause her to become so twisted and irrational. Thereafter, she became terrified of the power, regarding it as an evil thing, and fearing that it could cause another terrible thing to happen in her life. Regarding the power as an evil thing that had to be crushed in Rosemary is not unlike the Dursleys’ attitude towards magic and why they treated Harry Potter so cruelly because of it. Mrs Black could also share the same roots as Tamsin’s grandmother in “Combing Her Golden Hair”. The grandmother outwardly treated Tamsin in harsh, unfair and even absurd ways. However, it turned out that the grandmother in fact meant well. She was just not going about things in the best way. Moreover, she did not realise that she was fighting a losing battle against a supernatural heritage.

Unlike Tamsin’s grandmother though, Mrs Black loses that sympathy she ultimately gains when we learn that the real reason for her treatment of Rosemary is jealousy because she was denied the power. And after saying that the power is evil, we learn that Mrs Black would have used it for evil herself if she had been born with it (what a nerve!). Neither Rosemary nor her grandmother use the power that way. No, the power itself is not evil; it is the way that it is used.

Those eccentricities Mrs Black has are more difficult to understand. Her attitude towards Rosemary’s power does not explain why she bans gas and electricity at her house and keeps the place in the dark ages with candlelight. Does she have some weird thing about modernity? Or is it to save money by not having to pay power bills? And why does she wear that weird, sinister cloak when she goes out instead of a simple coat, which makes her such a magnet for gossip that she’s a witch or weirdo? And if Mrs Black hates her mother so much because of the telekinetic accident that killed her father, why does she keep a photo of her around the house? And why does she just disappear at the end of the story? It certainly is a very quick way to get rid of her (and good riddance!), which would open up a new life for Rosemary where she can live happily and normally. And given the way things were going between her and Rosemary it is probably not too surprising. But it is not really explained at all. Doesn’t she even leave a note? We have to wonder just how much Mrs Black really loved Rosemary in the first place – if she ever loved Rosemary at all.

The evil in the story does not come from the power but from people’s cruelty. This comes in the forms of the abusive mother, and the bullies at school, though we see some other abusive people around, such as a kid who taunts Rosemary and calls her a witch. Norma is always saying to her cronies that Rosemary deserves to be hurt because she’s so weird, but that’s just her excuse of course. She just does it because she is a bully, a bad sort, and looks like she is on her way to delinquency. She comes from a line of John Armstrong bad girls with short black hair, leather jacket and knee high boots. June Roberts, who was the bane of Bella Barlow in her 1979 story, is perhaps the best example. Unlike Norma, June changes her ways in the end.

Norma has no compunction about anything she does and will go to any lengths to get her own way. When Dawn and Freda sometimes get qualms about Operation Rosemary, Norma pushes them to continue with it. Norma is also extremely clever and a smooth talker who bluffs or talks her way out of fixes, though she does not always succeed. Her cronies say she would be top of the class if she tried, but the only thing that interests Norma about school is bullying Rosemary. Norma’s tag line to get out trouble is to bluff people with the threat that she will set her father on them as he is the [whatever]. She even tries it on the police when they say they will send her to approved school! As there is only one instance where this bluff actually succeeds, we get the impression it’s more cheek than anything else.

From the brief glimpse we see of Norma’s home life, her misconduct is clearly rooted in her parenting. Although Mrs Sykes suspects the truth about the horrible thing (the ‘birthday cake’) that Norma is making, she does not investigate further because she is heading off to bingo. She wonders if she should send Norma to the doctor to get her head examined, but Norma’s line “Don’t nick any of me fags on your way out” indicate what sort of example Mrs Sykes sets to her daughter.

At times, Norma can be witty and delivers very funny lines, mostly when she is being impudent or planning something. One of the best examples is where she styles herself as fairy godmother to bring Rosemary her birthday party: “Norma Sykes, fairy godmother – dreams come true a specialty. Magic wand no extra charge.” It must be said Norma delivers the only comic relief we see in this unsettling, grim story, even if she is also the main villain.

And now we come to Rosemary herself. All she wants is to lead a normal life where she is loved, accepted, and have lots of friends. But in order to get there, she has to unravel the mystery of why her mother keeps denying them to her, what this thing is that her mother has about ‘wickedness’, and just what the ‘weirdness’ is that nobody can really explain but makes her a magnet for bullying. It is not surprising that they are connected. It all comes from Rosemary’s telekinetic heritage and how it turned Mrs Black into a monster – and eccentric – from grief, hatred and jealousy. It is ironic that the very thing that lay at the root of all Rosemary’s troubles was the only way out of all the abuse and bullying she suffers because of it.

Rosemary does not kill anyone as Carrie does before she herself finally dies in the story. However, this story does not shy away from its own tragedy and deaths. We cry for the grandmother when she finds she unwittingly killed her own husband with her telekinesis. We cry even more so when we see that Julia does not understand that her mother didn’t mean to do it or how bad she feels about it. The grandmother too probably began to hate her own power after that, whereas it is not so much the power but panic that was the problem. A normal person could well do the same thing with a gun or poker if they were in the same situation. It is a relief to see Grandmother finally find peace over the tragedy on her deathbed.

Rosemary’s friend Anne is a real brick in that she not only stands by Rosemary all the way but also does not condemn her power as evil or witchcraft. Rosemary’s power does not frighten her either. Instead, she is one of the people with a more level-headed attitude about it and compares it to Uri Geller, which in her mind must give it scientific validity. She helps Rosemary to explore, develop and understand the power. Anne also tries to encourage Rosemary to stand up for herself more, which is something Rosemary begins to do as the power gives her more confidence. Anne has the sense to rightly suspect Dawn’s supposed friendliness is not all it seems, but eventually she gets duped by a bunch of get-well flowers and how much they must have cost. Didn’t it occur to them that the flowers might not have been bought at all?

Dr Armstrong would also be a real friend to Rosemary if he had a better attitude. He assures Rosemary that her power is not evil as her mother says; it is scientific and he gives her the scientific name for it. Dr Armstrong also tries to reason with the mother and get her to accept that the power is not evil. The trouble is, he starts getting too greedy and ambitious over Rosemary’s power. He wants to make his name with it and has no respect for Rosemary’s feelings over it. The nurse is far more sympathetic and tries to plead with the doctor that she has the right to lead a normal life.

Losing the power in the end is not unusual in girls’ comics. But in this case it really is the only way for Rosemary to start leading a normal life, though not before she is finally rid of all that domestic and school abuse of course. Still, we can’t help but hope that the power of the moon will restore Rosemary’s powers. Maybe they will consider it for a new Moonchild story in the new Misty material that is beginning to come out?

 

Jinty and Penny 20 September 1980

Jinty 20 September 1980

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

Contents in this issue:

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Girl the World Forgot (artist and writer Veronica Weir)
  • Tears of a Clown (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Behind the Screen: Charlie’s Angels
  • Wheels of Fate (artist John Armstrong) Gypsy Rose story
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • A Spell of Trouble (artist Trini Tinturé) – final episode
  • Child of the Rain (artist Phil Townsend)

Looks like Betty, the sports mistress from the future serial “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”, is supervising the javelin on the cover. Well, it does look rather like Betty.

The trouble in “A Spell of Trouble” solves itself in a four-page finale, which looks like it has bumped “Winning Ways” this week. The witches, who have been pressing Angela to become a witch, find out – the hard way – that making Angela White a witch is only a recipe for disaster because she’s such a bungling menace. So they restore the Blacks’ powers, but please, please, keep Angela as a non-witch from now on! And now that’s all been sorted out, Angela and Carrie can become friends. In two weeks’ time Jinty will start another witchcraft story, “Sue’s Daily Dozen”, which will be the last witch serial she will ever run.

Everyone in Pam’s class is vying for the ten places on the French trip. Even the class larrikins Fred and Terry are, but only once they find out it will mean missing the last week of term. Those two will do anything to get out of some lessons – even swotting up French and crawling to the French teacher. But then Pam notices that something seems to be bothering her friend Tracy…

Shona finds out she is now the girl the world forgot: a radio broadcast announces that she has been presumed dead and the search for her has been called off. Tantalisingly, it does not inform her whether her parents survived or not. At least Shona finds the island is kitted out for survival, with a source of fresh water and an abandoned croft, and she’s got other company on the island – a talking crow.

In “Tears of a Clown”, Kathy’s respite from the bullying is over. The bullying is back now, and it’s worse than ever. Then the upcoming sports day gives Kathy new hope to prove her running talent. But considering her luck in proving it so far, she might be wise not to set her hopes too high. And what about spiteful Sandra, the bully who keeps thwarting Kathy’s efforts to prove her talent?

Tansy and the gang from Jubilee Street go off to apprehend some smugglers – only to find they were just actors for a television show. Fortunately their interference makes the scene even better, so it will be retained and they will see themselves on television next week.

Jemma’s strange problem with rain gets her withdrawn from the school tennis team. And now it’s about to land her in big trouble with her teacher!

Sir Roger’s bragging about how brave he is, but just how brave is he really? He apprehends some burglars, but it’s due more to hijinks and dumb luck than courage.

The Gypsy Rose story is yet another recycled John Armstrong Strange Story from Tammy. Gail Hawkins goes on holiday with her uncle and aunt. She is plagued by a constantly passing lorry, but no lorry has been allowed on that road since one caused a fatal accident some years back. And it is a French lorry, just like the one that caused the accident…but there can’t be such things as ghost lorries, surely?

Jinty and Penny 13 September 1980

Jinty 13 September 1980

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

Contents in this issue:

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Girl the World Forgot (artist and writer Veronica Weir)
  • Tears of a Clown (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Back to School! (craft feature)
  • Phantom of the Fells (artist John Armstrong) Gypsy Rose story
  • Behind the Screen: Grange Hill
  • A Spell of Trouble (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Winning Ways #25: Tennis – the Grip (writer Benita Brown)
  • Child of the Rain (artist Phil Townsend)

Jinty commemorates it being “back to school” after the summer holidays with a “back to school” craft page and doing a feature on Grange Hill for “Behind the Screen”.

At Pond Hill, school’s much happier because a school camping trip to France is planned. Pam’s so enthused that she’s boning up on her French, much to Miss Peeble’s surprise. But there’s one problem: the school can only take ten pupils because that’s all the room there is in their vehicle. So there is no guarantee Pam will even go.

In “Child of the Rain”, Jemma’s odd reaction to rain is causing a real nuisance at school and she’s running the risk of letting the school tennis team down because of it.

School is now looking up for Kathy the class clown because her classmates decide Sandra has gone too far and start protecting her from Sandra’s bullying. But Kathy loses that protection when her clumsiness turns a classmate’s party into custard and a stereo system is wrecked! Now it’s back to square one for her, and we are warned that the bullying will grow even worse next week.

“A Spell of Trouble” is on its penultimate episode. The witches find out Angela is still not a witch and carry out their threat to strip the Blacks of their powers because of it. But when Angela sees how hard this is on her Black relatives because they’ve never gotten by any other way except witchcraft, she decides to become a witch after all, for their sakes. She doesn’t think it’s going to be that easy, though, and we have a feeling she’s right.

Shona becomes the “Girl the World Forgot” once the searchers find her empty life raft and draw the apparent conclusion that she is dead. Nobody knows that Shona and her dog Scuffer are in fact washed up on a deserted island and waiting for rescue.

Aunt Agnes comes to stay at Stoney Hall, and she’s so house-proud she insists on cleaning everything in sight, while Sir Roger likes it dusty and cobwebby.

Tansy’s holiday gets even weirder when she and June find their way out of the cave they got lost in and find a gang of smugglers – in pirate costumes(?). She runs to the other Jubilee Street residents to get help in rounding them up.

This week’s Gypsy Rose is another recycled John Armstrong Strange Story, which is reprinted from Tammy. An arrogant mountaineer learns that the fells should not be underestimated, even if they are “flea bites” compared to the mountains she’s climbed, and they can be dangerous for those who do not know them. She learns that dogs should not be underestimated either. But we wonder what her opinion on ghosts will be after this episode?

Jinty and Penny 30 August 1980

Jinty cover 30 August 1980

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tears of a Clown (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • A Spell of Trouble (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Black Rory’s Curse (artist John Armstrong) – Gypsy Rose story
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Behind the Screen: Happy Days (feature)
  • Minnow (artist Peter Wilkes) – final episode
  • Winning Ways #24: A Squat Vault (writer Benita Brown)
  • Blind Faith (artist Phil Townsend) – final episode
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

On the cover we see Betty, the sports mistress from the future serial “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”, supervising the high jump. Oh, just kidding! But the sports mistress does bear a striking resemblance to Betty.

In the letter column there is a letter from one reader saying she cuts out the “Winning Ways” and gives them to her P.E. teacher, who pins them on the gymnasium wall. Benita Brown must have been so chuffed.

Both “Blind Faith” and “Minnow” finish this issue. Clare has to forfeit her win because she entered under false pretences, but she has made her point about Cromwell being able to jump despite his blindness, so he’s safe now. Minna has to do a life-or-death swim to shore to get away from her kidnappers, which is a real test for a girl who’s only recently learned to swim. Her escape can be viewed on the Peter Wilkes page in the panel gallery.

Their replacements next week are “Girl the World Forgot” and a new Phil Townsend sports story, “Child of the Rain”, which, come to think of it, was Jinty’s one and only tennis story. “Girl the World Forgot” is a castaway story, something that Jinty has not used since her earliest days with “Desert Island Daisy“, but it clearly takes the theme seriously, while Daisy used it for laughs.

Spiteful Sandra is at her worst this week to make sure Kathy stays “the clown”, and it makes this episode a really cruel one. Under cover of pretend kindness, she tricks Kathy into eating too much food to stop her demonstrating her running talent at the sports centre. And just look at the monstrous amounts of food she’s coercing poor Kathy to eat. Talk about gavage!

Pam guesses who has taken her witch ball and resorts to some sneakiness to get it back – while tricking the thief into making a fool of herself and cheer up her depressed gran into the bargain.

This week Tansy discovers just how superstitious the residents of Jubilee Street are. Although she herself remains a sceptic, she eventually decides to bone up on superstitions for luck: “better safe than sorry!”

Sir Roger thinks modern people don’t know how to make others suffer through torture these days. But after a trip to the funfair and trying out its rides, he changes his mind.

This week’s Gypsy Rose story is another recycled Strange Story, which originally appeared in June. It treats Jinty readers to some John Armstrong artwork. The old maxim “you can’t take it with you” is put to the test with Black Rory, a robber baron who was so greedy that not even death would make him part with his ill-gotten loot; he had himself buried in full armour in a stone room with all his riches. It looks like being beyond the grave is not stopping his greed either, because his spirit is taking possession of generous Carly and making her insatiably greedy. And then he disappears from the stone room altogether…to spread even more greed…?

Angela’s off to a boarding school, and Carrie goes along to ensure her bungling cousin stays there. But it all backfires in the end and they’re still stuck with Angela.