Tag Archives: Kat and Mouse Game

Jinty 8 March 1975

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mike White)
  • Tricia’s Tragedy (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terry Magee)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • The Kat and Mouse Game (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Prisoners of Paradise Island (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Daddy’s Darling (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie) – first episode
  • Jinty made it herself… (craft feature on how to make a dressing table tidy)
  • Slave of the Mirror (artist Carlos Freixas)

Katie jinxes herself at the launderette this week – she spilt the water from her goldfish bowl over her eiderdown and it all comes apart when she tries drying it. The understandably tetchy manageress kicks her out unceremoniously and so she needs to hang things up at home. Her Heath Robinsonesque drying lines only succeed in giving the vicar a hot bum and a cold neck, but Katie’s mother is just as glad that the vicar was chased away by this odd combination as it saved her from having to say yes to the favour he was about to ask for. The grateful mum hauls out a ‘do it yourself continental quilt kit’ that Katie can make up and use that night – with the goldfish bowl set far away from the bedside this time! (DIY continental quilt sets – did they ever really exist I wonder?!)

In “Tricia’s Tragedy”, Tricia is blaming herself for her cousin Diana’s accident and subsequent blindness. She’s feeling so guilty that she is even going to withdraw from the important swimming trophy that they are both entered for. Her father is adamant that she shouldn’t do that, and even locks her in until the morning so that she can’t do something rash. That doesn’t stop her and she runs away to Diana’s house – though her father does get her to promise that at least she won’t actually withdraw from the Lloyd Trophy competition herself.

Merry realises what the mysterious joker has been up to over the past few weeks – trying to get Miss Ball sacked. Wardress Stropp (aptly named) turns out to be the mysterious figure behind it all, and soon she is sacked and Ball reinstated. Not that Ball is any more of a fan of Merry than she was before the reinstatement! But Merry doesn’t mind too much because she is inspired by something Miss Ball said – it has given her an idea for a potential escape plan!

Kat opens this episode by hesitating when asked to leap up onto a platform – because she has weakened it herself deliberately, so as to get Mouse to injure herself! Mouse guesses what is behind the hesitation, and it is the end of their friendship. For good? Probably – but Kat is very sneaky and can at least think of ways to turn everyone else against Mouse, even if she can’t get her willing wee slavey back again.

Sally Tuff thinks everything is going her way at last – her school sports mistress Miss Granley has come to find and save them from Paradise Island, so she thinks. But an overheard conversation between Miss Granley and Miss Lush makes Sally question who is on her side.

New story “Daddy’s Darling” starts in this week’s issue. Not many Jinty stories were set during WWII (one exception being “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” by the same creative team, and another being “Song of the Fir Tree“, also drawn by Phil Townsend but with no credited writer at present). Lee Simons is a poor little rich girl – her father is over-protective of her because of the tragic deaths of her older brother who was killed when riding his bike, and her mother who got ill and died rapidly thereafter. Five years later Lee is chauffered around and tutored at home; but the war is about to change things as Mr Simons can no longer arrange everything just as he wishes.

In “Slave of the Mirror” Mia Blake is dead set on getting enough money to pay for modelling classes. At first she tries it the straight way, by doing extra tasks at the boarding house and hoping her sister will give her more pocket money; but soon the sinister girl in the mirror has her going about things in a rather less straightforward way, by sneaking off to a bathing beauty contest that her sister is bound to be up in arms about. She is doing well in the contest too, but Janet is outraged and swears she will soon put a stop to that!

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Jinty 15 February 1975

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi and Mike White)
  • Tricia’s Tragedy – first episode (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Merry at Misery House (unknown artist – Merry; writer Terence Magee)
  • The Kat and Mouse Game (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Prisoners of Paradise Island (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Always Together… (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • Slave of the Mirror (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Jinty Made It Yourself – So Can You! (feature)

This issue is very close to Valentine’s Day, and so it features Katie Jinks receiving an appropriate heart-shaped card. What she doesn’t know is that her friends Liz and Sue are playing a trick on her – but as they soon find out, putting Katie into a romantic daze “means she’s a danger to life and limb! Our lives and our limbs!” How true – Katie jinxes her friends’ attempts to get a date for the Valentine Dance that night, while she herself gets an invite from the dishy lifeguard. Heh heh.

This issue has the first episode of “Tricia’s Tragedy“, following hard on the heels of the previous week’s final episode of the Alan Davidson-written “Jackie’s Two Lives“. It is seems pretty typical that a story by one artist / writer combination is often followed by another story from the same team, so while we do not have any definite indication that this story was also written by Alan Davidson, it seems a good likely hint. Tricia starts off the story by training in the local quarry pool because her family is too poor to use the public baths very often. We are told that if she can manage to win the Lloyd Trophy, then everything could change for her family.  But in the same few pages, her chance to continue using the quarry pool is dashed, by a complaint from the rich side of the family.

Merry is puzzled because someone else is playing practical tricks on the wardens in the reformatory – but they are tricks that go too far and will rebound on the joker. Of course everyone thinks it’s Merry who’s doing it while she knows it’s someone else – but who would have the nerve to do it, and why? Whatever the reasons, it spells trouble for Merry.

Kat is playing horrible tricks on Mouse but she is a careful and thorough worker, so all the ‘accidentally on purpose’ slips that Kat makes are undone by Mouse. The task that Mouse is trying to accomplish is to wash some expensive theatrical costumes, and it all goes off so well that Kat is driven to a desperate step to blacken Mouse’s name. She tries to chuck the hamper in a rubbish truck – but instead puts herself in the path of a passing motorbike, and hurts her leg badly!

Sally Tuff’s hockey team try to leave Paradise Island – they are not exactly prisoners, but they are tricked into staying as Miss Lush fools them into thinking that it doesn’t matter how little they train and how much they eat or drink – they are unbeatable no matter what! Sally knows different, but will she be able to do something about it?

It’s Beth’s birthday in “Always Together…” – as a small girl who doesn’t understand death, she is expecting her mother to come and give her a present, or at least to send her a card. Her brother and sister are working hard to make it a lovely birthday for her, as much as they can… but an unexpected visitor drops the bombshell that makes little Beth believe that her mother truly is dead. It is enough of a shock for her to fall down in a faint. Will the truth kill her, as her sister believes it might?

The girl in the mirror has Mia forging a number of letters, but this time in a good cause – she ends up clearing the Major’s name. Mia has also been noticed as someone who is pretty enough to make a living as a model – we are told this will lead to amazing developments later.

Jinty #40, 1 March 1975

Cover 1 March 1975

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mike White)
  • Tricia’s Tragedy (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terry Magee)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • The Kat and Mouse Game (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Prisoners of Paradise Island (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • The Hostess with the Mostest
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Always Together… (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie) – last episode
  • Slave of the Mirror (artist Carlos Freixas)

Katie fools a pony-napping gang in the cover story – there are some crooks who are stealing away the foals of some wild ponies and selling them to a nearby pony riding school. You’d think the school would soon spot that the ponies are wild, but the crooks tell them that ‘they’ll soon settle down’! Well, luckily Katie has hitched a couple of rides – first on one of the mother ponies trekking after her stolen baby, and then in the truck taking the ponies away. So she soon foils the plans, and is a hero to the neighbourhood.

Tricia’s tragedy takes place in this issue – cousin Diana dives too close to Tricia when she is in the pool, and the next thing Tricia knows, Diana seems stunned… unconscious! and when she wakes up, suddenly the cousin has been struck blind.

In Merry at Misery House, she is trying to get to the bottom of the mystery of the sinister figure – the joker who is turning the place upside down, but only at times when Merry is blamed for the pranks! But at last the prankster gets Miss Ball dismissed as deputy warden – and Merry finally gets a clue as to what is happening. We are promised that she will be unmasking the joker – next week.

The Kat and Mouse Game” is nearing its climax. Mouse is still dancing Kat’s part and letting her take the credit, but is hurt because Kat doesn’t seem to be acting like a real friend and taking any interest in Mouse’s small dance solo. The scheming Kat plots to sabotage even this small triumph – but we can tell that it will rebound on her, one way or another. The sample page on the story post shows you what happens in the following week’s episode…

The Prisoners of Paradise Island aren’t yet seeing through the luxury trap that Miss Lush has set for the hockey team. Sally Tuff has managed to get out a radio message to Miss Granley, their sports mistress – will she be the saving grace?

It is the last episode of Always Together…. Little sister Beth is desperately ill but all is sorted out in the final few pages – even to the extent of restoring the lost mother and the family home!

Finally, in “Slave of the Mirror“, Mia is still being manipulated by the mirror at the times when she feels most resentful for her sister’s bossy ways. But nice old Major Rose has build Mia a beach hut that she can escape to when she feels stressed out. She does so, and prepares to go for a dip – unaware that she is being watched by two men. Are they sinister stalkers such as we would expect them to be nowadays, or far more benign?

Jinty #42, 15 March 1975

Cover 15 March 1975

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Tricia’s Tragedy (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • My Perfect Day – themed reader letters
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terry Magee)
  • The Kat and Mouse Game (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Prisoners of Paradise Island (artist Trini Tinturé) – last episode
  • The Ghostly Wedding – spooky story
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine) – last episode
  • Daddy’s Darling (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Slave of the Mirror (artist Carlos Freixas)

Katie is dog-sitting for Lady Lampwick – but the huge dog ‘Cuddles’ looks like rather a handful! She earns enough money to be able to afford a dog of her own, but by the end of the story she is somehow not quite as keen on the idea…

Tricia is forced to slave for her cousin Diana, whose family say was blinded by an accident caused by Tricia. At least, unlike in some slave stories, Tricia is not emotionally fooled by her abusive cousin: they are ‘two people who hate each other… tied to each other by a terrible debt!’

There is a page of reader-produced content: the winning selections in a request made by the Jinty editors for letters on the theme ‘My perfect day’. I reproduce it here particularly because of one letter, ‘Just peace would be perfect’, about living in Northern Ireland – the reader wishes for peace and safety in Belfast. In the intervening years this has indeed come to pass, though there are many fears at present of possible impacts that could affect the Good Friday agreement as and when the UK exits from the EU – and/or the EU Human Rights Convention, the legal framework of which underlies the Good Friday agreement.

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Merry is planning an escape from Misery House, so as to try to warn the outside world of the cruelties that go on inside its walls. The convicts make a dummy look-a-like of Merry, to hide the fact that she is not returning with the rest from an outdoors stint of fence-mending. Will it work?

Kat is still fooling everyone, this time by pretending to sleep-walk to make it look like some missing money was stolen by the innocent Mouse.

It’s the last episode of “Prisoners of Paradise Island” – school sports mistress Miss Granley was Sally Tuff’s hope for outside rescue, but she seems to be in league with the evil Miss Lush. When it is revealed that the teacher is really on their side, Miss Lush pops up and takes Miss Granley hostage – but it all goes wrong for her as reinforcements help the girls to finally fight back against their captors. At the end of the story, we see the hockey team winning the international championship, and we are promised that new dramatic story “Cinderella Smith” (also drawn by Trini Tinturé) starts next week.

It’s also the last episode of “Bird-Girl Brenda” – a very sudden ending, as Brenda discovers that going for a walk with her friends – and someone’s dishy cousin Rob – is just as much fun as flying. Just as well, because her flying powers have abruptly deserted her. Next week we will get new story “Bet Gets The Bird”, likewise drawn by Phil Gascoine – another lightweight humour strip with no overall story arc. Bet was rather more short-lived than Brenda – perhaps it wasn’t as successful – but for whatever reason that left Gascoine drawing more memorable stories such as “The Green People”, “Golden Dolly, Death Dust!”, and of course the long-running “Fran of the Floods”.

It’s early days in “Daddy’s Darling” – protagonist Lee is being looked after so closely by her father that she has no life of her own. Even though she now has to go to the local school, her father is still managing to separate her from others her own age.

Mia Blake is still strongly possessed by the spirit in the mirror – not surprisingly it is feeding off the resentment that Mia feels when her sister prevents her from going into a modelling competition.

Memories triggered

I have recently received a few 1975 issues of Jinty, which I will write individual issue posts about in due course as usual. Before that, I wanted to write a little bit about the memories triggered by seeing these issues again for the first time in many years.

I’ve seen the cover images on Catawiki or similar, and they didn’t particularly lead me to feel that I remembered what the contents were going to cover. Indeed, when starting to read issues 42 and 51, practically none of it triggered any memories from when I was little – “Tricia’s Tragedy”, “The Kat and Mouse Game”, and the end of “Bird-Girl Brenda” rang no bells at all. But looking inside the issue dated 26 July 1975 was a different matter: of course the  front cover with Katie Jinks’ antics was familiar, but so was the inside story of her circus exploits – I wouldn’t have been able to remember it in advance but looking at it again I felt I knew it well. The next story was “Blind Ballerina”, much more familiar to me than “Tricia’s Tragedy” – as I read each page it felt as if it was flooding back to me, not just the plot (which I could have got from Mistyfan’s post on this issue) but the individual panels and the dialogue boxes themselves, too.

Likewise with “The Valley of Shining Mist” – the very first panel of it gave me a shock of recognition, as ‘Dumbie Debbie’ stumbles tearfully away from the poetry reading competition she has been asked to take part in. It is like when Mistyfan sent me a scan of the episode of “Golden Dolly, Death Dust!” from the issue dated 1 November 1975, which I have also just received recently – but until she sent me that scan some months ago now, I hadn’t seen the episode since I was perhaps ten years old or so, and yet the snippet of dialogue where evil witch Miss Marvell poisons the buddleia in the school grounds has lived in my mind ever since then.

My six-year old daughter has taken to reading my old Jintys now (and Sandies, and anything else I leave lying around). She’s enjoying them greatly and can hardly be torn away from them for suppertime and the like. I hope for her sake that when she is my age, she will not just have vague fond memories of this childhood reading, but ingrained snapshots in her mind that are subtly longer-lasting than you could ever have expected – unless of course you hadn’t already had it happen to you.

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…

The Kat and Mouse Game (1974-75)

Sample Images

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Published: 16 November 1974 – 5 April 1975 (18 episodes)

Artist: Jim Baikie

Writer: Unknown

Translation/reprints: Dutch translation “Als kat en muis” [Like cat and mouse] in Tina 1985; translated into Greek in Manina.

Plot

Everyone avoids Kat Morgan at Barton Grange Ballet School because they all know she is a selfish, bullying girl who grabs all the best chances there are in the school, along with everything else she wants. What makes it even more distasteful is that Kat’s dancing is not as good as she thinks.

Meanwhile, new girl Letitia (her last name is not established) arrives. She was not keen on coming because she is a shy girl and happy to be the only ballet pupil in her village because of it. She only agreed to enrol at Barton Grange at the urging of her ballet teacher, who says the school can provide far better tuition for her talent than she can.

Shyness also makes Letitia gullible and naïve, so she proves easy prey for Kat’s false show of friendship. Kat has quickly realised what a sap Letitia is, and so she is taking advantage of Letitia to turn her into her personal handmaid. She also nicknames Letitia “Mouse”, and it sticks. But not even the humiliation of dubbing Letitia “Mouse” in front of everyone makes Letitia wake up; she meekly says she does not mind. Mouse does not listen to the girls’ later warnings that Kat is a creep who is making a mug out of her. Kat also poisons Mouse against Miss Randall the headmistress to make sure Miss Randall is not able to warn Mouse either. Eventually Mouse is left to stew in her own juice.

However, Kat soon discovers there is one snag to having Mouse as her skivvy once she sees her dance – Mouse is a far better dancer than she is. Jealousy unleashes the Kat’s claws, for she is not going to be upstaged by that Mouse. So Kat now plays a double game of stringing Mouse along as her skivvy while sabotaging Mouse to keep her in the background. To make sure of both, she wangles things for Mouse to come and live in her house, where she really enjoys having Mouse wait on her hand and foot and fetching and carrying everything for her. It is the same at school. The girls notice how Kat is turning Mouse into her slave. But when they try to speak to Mouse about it she just thinks they are being mean.

The double game has its drawbacks, though, due to Kat not thinking through the consequences of playing such a tricky double game. For example, Kat tricks Mouse into dancing badly at a test to make sure Mouse does not outshine her. But when Kat realises that this could get Mouse thrown out and she will lose her little skivvy, she quickly talks the teachers into letting Mouse stay, saying it was nerves.

Then Kat’s mother finds out how Kat is turning Mouse into her slave. In punishment, she stops Kat’s pocket money for two months. This comes at a time when Kat wants money to see a new ballet, as they will perform it later at their school and there are two places at stake in a ballet company. Of course Kat wants one of them. As there is no pocket money, Kat steals the money Mouse asked home for.

When Kat sees the ballet, she immediately sets her eyes on dancing the Tiger role in it. But Kat’s in for a surprise (and so are we) when she describes the Tiger performance to Mouse. Mouse visualises the Tiger so vividly that she puts up a stunning impromptu that has even Kat impressed. Realising Mouse could beat her to the Tiger role, Kat pulls more tricks to stop Mouse – and others – auditioning for it. But one trick backfires and gets Kat stuck in the lift. So she could be the one who misses out on the part. Sappy but kind Mouse isn’t having Kat miss out on her audition, so she dons the Tiger costume and pretends to be Kat. So thanks to Mouse, Kat gets the role. Now Kat has a new use for Mouse – have her stand in for her in the Tiger role, because she knows she could never top Mouse’s interpretation of the Tiger.

Then Kat starts getting worried that it’s getting too dangerous and the school might find her out. So, although she has enjoyed having Mouse as her mug, she now plots to get Mouse expelled. However, one of the tricks rebounds when it causes Kat to get her leg badly bruised in an accident. Moreover, Kat won’t seek treatment because that would mean the end of her Tiger role. However, she can’t dance properly because of her leg and she has to perform in front of the Mayor, so she cons Mouse into dancing it for her. Moreover, she is making sure Mouse, who blames herself for the accident, is waiting on her even more. Kat is really enjoying it, but is now treating Mouse in a bad tempered way. Mouse puts it down to the pain in Kat’s leg. Yes, there is that, but of course the real reason is that Kat is taking advantage to bully Mouse into the bargain.

Kat’s temper gets worse when she sees Mouse dancing the Tiger in the show. She realises that Mouse is getting even better in the role and her jealousy grows. Suspicion also grows when the girls comment on how well Kat danced with that badly bruised leg while Mouse looked like she had been dancing hard but she was not even in the performance.

Kat gets so jealous of Mouse that she sabotages a special platform that Mouse will leap onto so it will collapse under her. However, it backfires when Miss Randall tells Kat to leap onto the platform instead. Kat tries to avoid the weakened parts, but fails because of her bad leg, and the platform collapses under her.

Mouse saves Kat from serious injury – but oh, what a surprise! Mouse has picked up on clues that have made her suspicious of Kat. She now realises what Kat did and shouts at her over it: Kat spiked the platform, Kat betrayed their friendship, Kat hated her all along, they’re finished and she never wants to see Kat again. So now Mouse has finally seen through Kat and it’s the end of the story!

Oh rats, it’s not. Kat isn’t finished yet. She is now even more anxious to get Mouse expelled before everything comes out, and now plots to frame her for stealing. And Mouse is still living with Kat, which makes it easier. One night Kat goes to steal money from the head’s safe and blame it on Mouse. Realising Mouse has followed her, Kat pretends to be sleepwalking while taking the money. Mouse takes the money back to the safe, but is caught doing so. Mouse can’t fully explain because as she feels it would be sneaking and foolishly thinks Kat didn’t mean it. She even thinks Kat did it subconsciously for her because she is poor! So she takes the blame and is expelled.

The school has to wait for Mouse’s parents to come to remove her. So Mouse is put in isolation, but still around for Kat to take advantage of. Kat can’t dance properly because of her leg, and now the time has come to impress the ballet company director and get one of the two places. So again Kat wheedles Mouse into dancing the Tiger for her. However, the director is so overexcited by the performance that he rips off the Tiger mask on the stage, and everyone sees who was really doing the dancing.

Kat has to do some fast thinking on why an expelled girl is dancing in her place. So she dashes off, ties herself up, and spins a story that Mouse tied her up and stole the costume. Even the unbelievably gullible Mouse has to well and truly realise what a toad Kat is after this, but she can’t prove it.

Meanwhile, Kat is forced to go on stage in the tiger costume. But she can’t dance properly with her bad leg, and that mad dash to tie herself up has aggravated the damage. Her leg injury and its lack of treatment are soon discovered. Although by his own admission he is not a doctor, the director tells Kat that the injury will leave a permanent weakness in her leg, which means she can never become a professional dancer. Shocked to realise she has destroyed herself by her own dirty tricks against Mouse, Kat decides she might as well make a clean breast of everything and does so. At Mouse’s request, Miss Randall spares Kat the disgrace of expulsion and just lets her quietly leave because of her leg. Mouse gets into the ballet company and goes on to have a brilliant ballet career.

Thoughts

There has been a common feeling about this story that it’s difficult to be fully sympathetic for the protagonist because she’s so wet and unbelievably naïve and gullible that she believes anything Kat tells her. Even when Mouse does see through Kat after the platform incident, it does not last long. Before long, Mouse goes back to falling for Kat’s tricks and thinking Kat’s her friend. Any respect we gained for Mouse in that outburst is instantly lost. And any hope we have of Mouse finding a whole new backbone that sets her on the road to more confidence is dashed as well.

Mouse cuts off her own avenues of help by not listening to warnings, although this is partly because she has foolishly believed the lies that Kat has told her. Even when Kat’s mother finds out how Kat is treating Mouse and stops her pocket money in punishment, Mouse doesn’t open her eyes to it as well. She goes on thinking Kat is her friend whom she is only too happy to do everything for. All anyone can really do is watch and notice suspicious things that filter through, but they don’t have enough evidence to act on them.

The scheming follows a fairly common pattern in girls’ comics, where the schemer starts off just playing tricks on the protagonist because she is taking advantage her or thinks it’s just a huge joke. But later the scheming takes a more spiteful turn, with the schemer deciding to get rid of her victim altogether. This is because she’s gotten bored with it, or it’s gotten too complicated, or the victim has done something that’s really put the schemer’s nose out of joint and she’s out for revenge. And it’s here that things begin to unravel for the schemer. Other stories that follow this pattern include Tammy’s “Dulcie Wears the Dunce’s Hat” and M&J’s “What Lila Wants…”.

It is bad enough that Kat is playing a double game with Mouse, what with sabotaging her while taking advantage of her at the same time. But when it turns to scheming to get Mouse expelled, her conduct becomes really galling. Although she succeeds in getting Mouse expelled, she has the nerve to still take advantage of her because she wants Mouse to stand in for her in the Tiger role and be her unpaid servant. She isn’t even grateful to Mouse for saving her from the collapsing platform. Yes, she does say “thanks”, but nothing in her conduct or thoughts afterwards indicates true gratitude. Kat’s only redeeming quality is how she breaks down in the end and confesses everything, which saves Mouse. Could those tears be the start of a new improved Kat? We cannot say for sure, but we can be confident that Kat will never be the same again.

It is a real twist that the Kat ends up destroying herself through her own subterfuge on Mouse. Kat won’t seek treatment for an injury that was caused by one of her own tricks, just because she does not want to lose the Tiger role. Yet she can’t even dance the Tiger because of her own injury, so she still has to use the very girl she is trying to expel. Moreover, Kat let her leg go untreated and worsened it with her final trick on Mouse, so it deteriorated to the point where she would never be able to dance again. In any case, she never had enough talent to really get to the top to begin with, so no amount of trickery would get her there.

 

 

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.

 

Jinty 5 April 1975

Cover 5 April 1975

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Tricia’s Tragedy (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Merry at Misery House (unknown artist – Merry, writer Terence Magee)
  • The Kat and Mouse Game (artist Jim Baikie) – last episode
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Cinderella Smith (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Bet Gets the Bird! (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Daddy’s Darling (artist Philip Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Slave of the Mirror (artist Carlos Freixas)

Katie Jinks gets her hands on a gorilla costume, in a way that is very similar to some hi-jinks that Fran gets up to some years later – as Mistyfan has wondered recently, I also now wonder if the two stories shared a writer. In this case, pal Liz is the one togged up in a gorilla suit, and the gorilla is rather friendlier than one might have guessed.

Tricia is being made to look after her cousin Diana, through the emotional blackmail of being told it’s her fault for blinding her cousin. She is made to use all her time to teach Diana to swim well enough to be able to win the Lloyd Trophy, and is forbidden to use her cousin’s pool to do her own training in. What will happen when she goes home to see her parents – will she withdraw from the Lloyd trophy, as her uncle expects?

Merry has lost her memory – she escaped from the reformatory in order to bring help to the others, but had an accident in the street. A kindly – and posh – family have taken her in, but cruel butler Haig hates her because she battles injustice  such as when he tries to beat a local kid for taking some vegetables. Haig catches Merry unawares and locks her in the dark shed. Maybe the similarity between this predicament and her reformatory experiences will bring her memory back? After all, she’s still not managed to bring help to the other girls in Misery House…

It’s the last episode of “The Kat and Mouse Game”. Mistyfan has got a story post coming up soon, so I won’t describe the ending in detail. Suffice it to say that Kat gets her comeuppance – after trying to land Mouse in it one last time, of course – and Mouse gets the career of her dreams. Satisfyingly, Kat even confesses at the end, once she realises it’s all gone wrong for her (and it’s all her own fault too).

There’s a story post coming up on “Cinderella Smith” too, I understand. Cindy is sent to school without the correct uniform and has to use old clothes left behind by others – she finds it embarrassing and humiliating but comes across as snobbish rather than apologetic for her change of circumstance. But wearing old clothes will be the least of it, very soon: Cindy’s cousins are some of the meanest abusers in these stories.

The kids at school are making Lee’s life a misery because her father is himself being so ungenerous to evacuees Joe and Maggie. Bowing to public pressure, he sends the evacuee kids to school in a posh car – but a different one from the one his daughter travels in.

It is nearing the ending of “Slave of the Mirror”. The Spanish au pair girl Inez tells Mia the story of the girl in the mirror, who is an ancestor of Inez’. Isabella lived as a servant in the house, some two hundred years previously; she was treated so cruelly by her master that she died unhappily and vowed her revenge. Now, through Mia, she is trying one last act of revenge – burning down the house!

Jinty 29 March 1975

Jinty cover 29 March 1975

  • The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Tricia’s Tragedy (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Merry at Misery House (unknown artist – Merry, writer Terence Magee)
  • Easter Fun with Jinty – feature
  • The Kat and Mouse Game (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Cinderella Smith (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Bet Gets the Bird! (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Daddy’s Darling (artist Philip Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Slave of the Mirror (artist Carlos Freixas)

 

This is Jinty’s first Easter issue. To celebrate, Jinty has “Easter Fun with Jinty”, which tells you how to make an Easter egg cake and felt Easter bunnies. The Jinx from St Jonah’s has an Easter theme too – Katie is invited to an Easter holiday fancy dress show. But we all know our jinx, and she really excels herself when she persuades a friend to dress up as a gorilla!

“Slave of the Mirror” and “The Kat and Mouse Game” look like they are nearing the end. Mia, the slave of the mirror, finds surprise help in Inez. Inez has not only worked out what the mirror is doing to Mia but also found out information that could help free her from the mirror. In “The Kat and Mouse Game”, Kat has the gall to continue taking advantage of Mouse after getting her expelled. This time it’s conning Mouse into taking her place in the ballet show and dancing Kat’s way to success for her. But Kat did not bargain on everyone finding out who was really dancing the role! Trouble is, how is this going help Mouse clear her name and declaw the scheming Kat?

Merry has escaped from Misery House. But she had the bad luck to lose her memory in an accident. She cannot remember who she is, that she is on the run, or that she has to raise help for the girls at Misery House. And now the cruel staff of Misery House have discovered her escape and spitefully locked up her friend Carla in a detention cell.

Tricia’s guilt complex is turning her into a slave to her cousin Diana and leaving her with no time to train for the event she promised her father she would win. Dad does not believe a word Diana’s family are saying about the matter – and neither do we. There has been something suspicious about it all from the beginning.

A pompous sergeant major is bossing Dora and the dogs around like they’re in the army. As if life wasn’t miserable enough with Ma Siddons.

In part two of “Cinderella Smith”, Cindy’s first full day with her cousins gets worse and worse as their abuse becomes more and more apparent. It begins with slogging in the stables with nothing to eat. Then she finds they’ve taken away all her clothes and are forcing her into tatty, patched replacements – and she has to wear them when seeing her new headmistress. But what’s really the pits of cruelty in this episode is Cindy finding the bacon in her substandard breakfast looks suspiciously like what was in the dog’s dish a while earlier! Even the mean Ma Siddons doesn’t go that far with Dora.

And it’s part two of “Bet Gets the Bird!” as well. Bet discovers she hasn’t thought through the consequences of having the teachers think her parrot Rosy Posy is a pupil. She has to cover for Rosy Posy in class and produce homework from her – which the pesky parrot messes up and Bet lands in trouble because of it!

Lee remains “Daddy’s Darling” while he shows nothing but a heart of stone to everyone else. This week it’s making Lee’s two evacuee friends walk to school in pouring rain although one has a limp and the other has a cold – while he gives Lee a cosy lift.