Tag Archives: June & Schoolfriend

Shirley Bellwood

Shirley Bellwood, who died in January 2016 aged 84, is probably particularly familiar to most readers of this blog as the key Misty artist, creator of the beautiful cover and interior images of the mysterious dweller in the Cavern of Dreams. However, as this very informative piece on Down the Tubes explains, she had a long artistic career from well before Misty was published, starting in the 1950s.

In the pages of Jinty, she was most usually seen as the illustrator of text stories in Specials and Annuals. There were one or two comics stories drawn by her but these were reprinted from earlier titles.

004_zpscaa3e9a3

Further thoughts on script conferences

You may have seen that Terry Magee made a series of illuminating and interesting comments on the Len Wenn post: these described the processes and principles behind script conferences in more detail. To make them more visible and easier to find in the future, I repeat them here. Many thanks, therefore, to Terry for sending in these details!

Len had worked on Fleetway boys’ comics in the 1950’s – either The Sun or The Comet, knew artists like Geoff Campion and colleagues like the famous/infamous Sid Bicknell (Uncle Sid to some). Len was a very fair chap and encouraged me to write. He was a soldier in the North African desert in the Second World War, telling me some of his experiences such as having to dig trenches in the sand – with the danger of being buried alive, which he actually saw happen. He told me other things about the Fleetway crowd that I can’t repeat.

I lost track with Len after I went freelance, but I’m real glad he survived on Buster
and continued writing for Mavis on Jinty. They were a good team. As for their script conferences, they happened around every six weeks or so with just two writers on separate occasions – Frank Redpath (Lucky’s Livin Doll) and Jack Johnson (very talented writer and great bloke). I only ever was at one script conference, but didn’t contribute much as Mavis and Len were too good to keep up with!

Fleetway was a friendly company, the opposite to the dreadful DC Thomson. I never worked there, but heard tales from those who did, like John Wagner. DC Thomson was owned and run by two old brothers who were right control freaks – no staff allowed to use the phones unless with permission. The two brothers didn’t talk to each other for years, communicating notes slipped under doors and so on. They lived in a mansion outside Dundee, one in the east wing and the other in the west wing. A weird story itself! Shiver me timbers!, as Captain Hurricane would say!

(then a question from me)

Thanks for this, Terry! Can you tell any more details about the script conferences themselves – if writers weren’t normally present, then what was the aim of them – did Mavis and Len use them to write their own stories, or to decide general ideas that they would send on to freelance writers, or what?

My pleasure, shipmate (still talking as Captain Hurricane whose letter I used to write in Battle comic for some years)! I was only the one time in a script conference and that was In Mavis Miller’s office along with Len Wenn and the author Jack Johnson (might have been John Johnson). They discussed ideas and plots for Jack’s stories for June & School Friend. I think he wrote three of them every week. They were plans for something like next 6 weeks’ episodes. It was the same for Frank Redpath and Lucky’s Living Doll (the most popular number one in June & School Friend).

I used to hear them talking quite loudly and excitedly with lots of laughs through the wall of the office next-door. I was sub-editor sharing the office with Art Editor Colin Parker (we could see the Scales of Justice statue of the Old Bailey from our window). In the next office along was other sub-editor Jackie Davis, who was engaged to Colin (they eventually married) and art assistant Roger Prickett. Colin went on to become Art Editor on the Daily Express. His elder brother, Jack Parker, was Editor of Look & Learn. Very talented people.
Fleetway (basically still the former Amalgamated Press), was packed with gifted journalists, authors, artists, both staff and freelance. It was positive-thinking and forward-looking, which is why John Purdy was able to bring in new people like Gerry Finley-Day and Pat Mills with new ideas. Although it was done surreptitiously and that didn’t go down well at Fleetway. I was there and I saw it happen!

Other authors for June & School Friend were freelance and hardly ever came in to the editorial offices and sometimes never, as was the same for artists. Although Scott Goodall, freelance author, was often there, thumping away on a Bluebird typewriter at any spare desk going. They were referred to as authors in the Fleetway days, not writers, and the word ‘comic’ wasn’t used. They were girls’ papers or juvenile publications, sounding more adult and serious… Knockout and Buster were comics, due to their humorous strips.  Freelances were also paid in guineas, not plain pounds. We were paid salaries, not wages, with accounts in Coutts Bank of the Strand, the Queen’s bank and very posh… Fleetway could be snooty copared to D C Thomson, who seemed more down-to-earth although weird as I eventually discovered. Fleetway/IPC artists were better, more arty and often really fantastic.

Features on June & School Friend were written by Robin May, who also wrote a lot
for Look & Learn. There were no restrictions on freelancing for publications. I wrote Tarzan and The Saint for TV Tornado while subbing on June & School Friend. Fleetway and IPC were always trendy, being in the centre of London where it was all happening (or supposed to be happening!). There were lots of women’s magazines in the building like Woman, Woman’s Own, Options, Woman’s Weekly and others I can’t remember, plus cool mags like Rave and Fab 208, so we’d often see famous pop stars like Marianne Faithful, The Beatles, Adam Faith and so on. It was glamorous!

Mavis Miller didn’t write any stories or features, she concentrated on the editing. Len Wenn didn’t write anything for June & School Friend. Maybe he did for his new paper Sally. Just remembered: staff member Cecil Graveney used to write Bessie Bunter and Sindy (toy doll). Cecil was old Amalgamated Press, in his late 50s or early 60s then. Mavis in her 30s and Len in his 40s (I think – I’m terrible at telling ages). One artist who occasionally drew illustrations for features was in his 80s. A jolly chap with a big smile who reminded me of Father Christmas. I regret not remembering his name. When you think about it, he must have been drawing for Amalgamated Press in the 1920s and have known people who were at the very start of ‘comics’ in the 1890s. His artistic style was still very 1920s. A real link with the past and great to meet him.

Of course, there were dark sides to Fleetway/IPC. Not sure if I want to go into that!

Thanks again to Terry for sending in these memories and explanations.

Leo Davy

One of the things I am most appreciating about this blog is the way that it is able to take part in an expanding network of resources: the existing UK girls’ comics blogs, the Comics UK forum, Catawiki, the original creators or editors where we are able to make contact with them, and interested fans and experts internationally. This not only means that things known in one area (artists of specific strips, contents of individual issues) are made more readily available to other interested parties, but also that inconsistencies can be corrected and new knowledge promulgated. This is particularly important as, sadly, there is no single reliable source of this information in the shape of publishing archives or editorial records; I recently spoke to copyright holders Egmont who confirmed that they have no editorial files or information held from that time. This makes our current networking and sharing of memories, information, and analysis the only way we can come up with a good picture of who did what, when, how, and where.

I posted back in November about the artist attribution we have been giving for “Angela’s Angels”; we have given the name of the artist as Alberto Cuyas, though in fact we seemingly should have listed him as Manuel Cuyàs. However, Sleuth from Catawiki has recently emailed me a number of pages of art definitively credited to Manuel Cuyàs and to Leo Davy, confirming to me that we should change the attribution of “Angela’s Angels” to the latter artist (now done).

There is quite a bit of artwork attributed to Leo Davy and Phil Townsend together; they drew two Girl strips together, “Susan of St Bride’s” and “Calling Nurse Abbott!”. There is some similarity here of faces and other details when compared to “Angela’s Angels”: look at the bottom left of the first page and the bottom right of the second.

click thru
click thru
click thru
click thru

“A Scooter To Sydney” is credited to Leo Davy alone, as is a smashing adaptation of “The Day of the Triffids” – Bill’s face in the second row of panels, in particular, is a very good match with the “Angela’s Angels” artwork to my mind. (Moreso than the art on “Sydney”, which is in a very finished style.)

click thru
click thru
click thru
click thru

Here are some more faces from the nursing strips:

click thru
click thru
click thru
click thru

Finally, some more “Angela’s Angel’s” artwork for comparison:

click thru
click thru

Cuyàs has similarities of style; he is a vigorous artist with lots of movement in his drawing, and his characters are not pretty-pretty. However, his faces are distinctively different (those noses!) and he often signs his work. His art appeared in June & Schoolfriend, Bunty, and other classic girl’s titles, and some of it was reprinted in Jinty: the 1979 Jinty annual (post to follow) includes the rather fun collected story “Trudy on Trial!” (originally published between 24 June 1972 and 19 August 1972 according to Deskartes Mil). The 1975 Jinty annual republishes the story “Eve’s Dream” which I assume is also from June & Schoolfriend, though I would be grateful for confirmation of this.

Manuel Cuyàs
click thru
Manuel Cuyàs
click thru

There is very little information available on the internet about Leo Davy. As Girl printed credits for writers and artists, we can attribute the following stories to him:

  • Susan of St Bride’s (with Phil Townsend)
  • Calling Nurse Abbott! (with Phil Townsend)
  • The Day of the Triffids (adaptation of the John Wyndham book)
  • A Scooter to Sydney
  • The Red Pennant

The only Jinty strip attributable to him is “Angela’s Angels”, including a short story featuring the same characters in the Jinty 1974 annual. There is also a longer list of titles available on Catawiki here; I haven’t reviewed it fully or sense-checked it for any oddities yet, though.

Looking at those strips in Girl, Leo Davy has a very classic, elegant style. The strips he draws are energetic and also pretty neat and meticulous; “Angela’s Angels” is less meticulous to my eye, looking in some places as if it was pencilled but not fully inked or painted. Could this be a sign of an experienced draughtsman towards the end of his career, still drawing beautifully but less carefully and precisely?

Leo Davy fits well as the artist on “Angela’s Angels” – especially in the first issues of a new title, getting an experienced artist on a nursing story to do another makes good sense! Cuyàs would also be unsurprising as an artist in Jinty, having probably previously worked with Mavis Miller or colleagues of hers, but compared to the themes in his previous stories it would be a little more of a leap for him to turn up as the creator on a nursing story.

With particular thanks to Sleuth from Catawiki

European Translations

In the couple of days since the interview with Alison Christie was published, we have had some particularly interesting information sent in. Candela, who writes about girls’ comics in Spain, tells us that Alison’s ‘story “Over the Rainbow” was very popular in Spain and reprinted in two different girl’s magazines, and of course all the stories under the Gypsy Rose head, which in Spain sometimes were reprinted under the Uncle Pete’s stories.’ Likewise, Peggy from Greece wrote in to say ‘I was really touched to discover after 40 years the writer of one of the stories (“My Name is Nobody”) that I loved in my early youth! It is such a lovely story about the power of friendship’. She was even able to send in some scans of the Greek translation of this story, shown here with many thanks to her (see below for the first and last episodes). She also says that ‘”My Name Is Nobody” was selected to be among the stories to be included in the first issues of the Greek magazine Manina (issue 9), something that shows the significance of the story itself! Just for your information, the other stories of the first issues were “The Cat Girl” (from Sally),  “Molly Mills” (from Tammy), “Lucky’s Living Doll” (from June &  Schoolfriend), “Jackie & the Wild Boys” (from Princess Tina)” and “Bessie Bunter” (from June & Schoolfriend).’

Greek translation of “Nobody Knows My Name” (originally published in June & Schoolfriend, 1971)

click thru
click thru for first episode

click thru

Nobody Knows My Name ep 1 pg 3

click thru for last episode
click thru for last episode

Nobody Knows My Name last ep pg 2

Nobody Knows My Name last ep pg 3

The work done by writers and artists in comics like Jinty was typically on a work-for-hire basis, with a flat fee being paid and no expectation of earning royalties on reprints or translations and so forth. The artwork was owned by the publishing company and not sent back to the artist. A lot of the communication we’d perhaps expect to be happening was just not on the cards: for instance it does not seem that Alison was very aware of the extent of her stories’ popularity, and certainly she was not aware that “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” was reprinted in Princess in 1984. (Indeed, in a reply to a reader’s 1981 letter, this story was described as one of Jinty‘s most popular stories.) Translations into another language were presumably something that creators were unaware of the existence of, except as a vague possibility.

(In a separate email, Alison says ‘I did know that DC Thomsons had a room with magazine journalists seconded to doing this, syndicating picture stories for European countries. As the payment slips freelancers like myself got always had at the foot, “All copyright for all purposes”; this meant they could do what they liked with picture stories etc, once they had paid the writer and artist a one-off payment. However, I had no idea that IPC did this as well – but I didn’t keep any payslips from them, and I can’t remember what was written on them. It must have been on these lines.’ From my own personal knowledge, I was involved with the SSI – the Society of Strip Illustrators – in the early 1990s and there was much talk at the time about work-for-hire contracts and the rather brutal agreements in place. There was little or nothing in the way of a formal contract, and instead as Alison says, your actual payment slip confirmed that this was in consideration of all your creators rights. There would have been no way round this if you wanted to be paid! At the time I was involved in these areas, there was a lot of work being done to change this situation, but at one time it was very normal and not even questioned by many.)

However, it is clear that there was a lot of this translation going on over the years, in many directions. The Dutch auction site Catawiki is an invaluable resource for many British comics but particularly so for this question; although details are not all complete in every cases it lists stories by issue, artist, writer, and original title. Many stories were reprinted in the Tina series Tina Topstrip, as albums collecting the whole story with a new cover. Usually the protagonist was also renamed to something locally suitable (so the protagonist of “Becky Never Saw The Ball” turned into “Eefje”). There was also a monthly magazine, Tina Club, which reprinted stories in an anthology format with what looks like a couple of stories in each one. For instance, “Gwen’s Stolen Glory” was translated as “De droom van een ander / The Dream of Another” in 1975.

Some of the individual Tina Topstrips I have looked at on Catawiki are listed below.

As can be seen from the above list, a number of the Jinty creators were represented in these Dutch translations – prolific artists Phil Gascoine, Jim Baikie, and Phil Townsend were all published in this series, and popular writer Alison Christie is represented too, along with Pat Mills. Nowadays the flow of material will presumably be more likely to go the other way, if at all (Trini Tinturé has recently had original Dutch material being republished in UK magazine Girls & Co).

I’m not in the best position to check, but I would love to know more about the details of these translated editions. How faithfully was the translation done? What changed, apart from names and covers – were story lines ever abridged or even amended? Were credits given to artists and writers in any cases? (I do have one or two of the Tina Topstrips and don’t believe anyone was created apart from the local artist who drew the new cover.)

I would also love to know whether this was limited to Europe or not? Once you’ve translated material into Spanish or Portuguese then Latin America becomes available as a market, but it is a lot further away for connections to be made and that may well just not have happened. I know that Brazil and Mexico have their own local comics publishing traditions, as does Argentina (I don’t know about the other Latin American countries), with quite a different feel from the British weekly comic. Certainly in Brazil and Mexico if you see a foreign translation then it is very likely to consist of American reprinted material: Disney material such as the Donald Duck stories, and the Harvey comics such as Little Lulu and Richie Rich. Marvel and DC also make a strong showing in those markets, but the sort of emotional long-running story seen in British girls comics is not very prevalent as far as I know. They would match well with the interest in telenovelas (soap operas) but perhaps this connection is one that was never made?

Further information from Sleuth of Catawiki:

I have never closely looked at the translations done in the Netherlands. My impression is that stories are usually complete and properly translated, although the names are often changed (“Patty’s World” is translated as “Peggy’s wereldje”, probably because there already was a “Patty” strip in Tina at the time). Having said that, I should compare “Gail’s Indian Necklace” to the translation: reading the story in Jinty I found an episode in London with Gail travelling the tube that might have been taken out as it seemed new to me. Perhaps too outlandish! They always tried to make it look like the stories took place in Holland. That did not work for the school stories with all the uniformed girls of course (no uniforms at school here). I read somewhere that a girl had even asked her parents to send her to boarding school because of the stories in Tina. She did not like it very much when she got there. Boarding schools here are for children whose parents are travelling or for children with behaviour problems or illnesses which cannot be taken care of at home. Another story that I should compare one of these days is “Maartje het ganzenmeisje” (Marge the goose girl). The story very much resembles the story of “The Goose Girl”, but the story takes place in Holland and is drawn by Dutch artist Piet Wijn.