Tag Archives: Life’s a Ball for Nadine

Latin Translations of Jinty Titles II: A Selection

I have been working on more Latin translations of Jinty serials. In line with Comixminx’s entry on Portuguese translations, I have taken a select few from the list and provide some commentary on them rather than posting a long list as I did before.

  1. Malincha et sceptrum magicum (Malincha and the Magic Sceptre i.e. Sceptre of the Toltecs)

I couldn’t find a Latin word for Toltec, so I came up with “magic sceptre” instead. From there it was an easy matter to use the protagonist’s name to provide alliteration. Perhaps it is not as effective as “Sceptre of the Toltecs”, but it is alliterative. As Comixminx says, girls titles would not be complete without alliteration somewhere.

  1. Citeria cara noster (Our Beloved Clown i.e. The Jinx from St Jonah’s)

This was a tough one to translate. I doubted I could find a Latin word for “jinx” that had the same context as the original title. So I googled for a Latin word for “klutz” but then it was pointed out the word may be not so suitable as it had other more negative meanings. So in the end it was “citeria”, meaning “clown”. It was alliterated with “carus –a –um”, meaning “beloved”, to express that Katie may be a jinx but everyone loves her, including the girls who regularly suffer from her jinxing. It also provided alliteration and a dash of humour that was in keeping with the strip being a humorous one.

  1. Saltandum per ludum (Dancing Through the Game i.e. Life’s a Ball for Nadine)

This was another tough one. I was thinking along the lines of a title that reflected the curious relationship between sport and dancing that ran throughout the story, but I couldn’t figure out how to go about it. Eventually I hit on the idea of something like “dancing around the game”, but as this sounded like Nadine was fooling around with the game, it became “dancing through the game”.

  1. Odium perplexum, tentamenta perplexa (Perplexing Hate, Perplexing Tests i.e. Make-Believe Mandy)

Originally I toyed with a translation that reflected how Mandy used her daydreaming to escape an intolerable home life. But I changed my mind and began to develop a title that commented on the mystery that surrounded both the hatred Mandy gets at home and the tests she undergoes, and the mystery of how and why they were connected. The adjective used for them both would provide the alliteration. “Perplexus –a –um” was chosen because it was recognisable to English speakers. It can also mean “interlaced”, which could also serve as a play on the hatred and the tests being connected.

  1. Plagae ex scarabeo aegyptio (Plagues of the Egyptian Scarab i.e. Creepy Crawley)

A title that used “brooch” was rejected because the Latin word for brooch can also mean “buckle”. Eventually I found there was an actual Latin word for “scarab” and developed the title with that. The noun “plaga –ae”, meaning “strike” or “plague”, was chosen for association with the scarab because it was short, strong and instantly recognisable. It was also reminiscent of the Ten Plagues of Egypt, which tied in with the Egyptian theme and what the scarab does.

  1. Ira ex monili indico (Wrath of the Indian Necklace i.e. Gail’s Indian Necklace)

A title that used “evil” was rejected because the necklace was not downright evil, just angry. So the title began to develop from there, and the Latin words for “wrath” and “Indian” provided alliteration.

  1. Coma aurea, pecten argenteus (Golden Hair, Silver Comb i.e. Combing Her Golden Hair)

Yes, the Latin version of Comixminx’s Portuguese translation. I think it works even better in Latin because the Latin words for “golden” and “silver” both begin with “a”, which gives an alliterative effect.

  1. Haruspex et Siccitas Longa (The Diviner and the Long Drought i.e. Jassy’s Wand of Power)

This started with “siccitas longa” (long drought), but it didn’t sound a very thrilling title. So “haruspex -spicis” (diviner) was added because it would sound like an intriguing word to English speakers and therefore provide more interest. Finally, “siccitas longa” was capitalised because the people in the story would be very likely to use capitalisation for the drought when they look back on it.

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Jinty and Penny 1 November 1980

Jinty cover 1 November 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) – final episode
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Behind the Screen: Robin’s Nest
  • The Secret of Covent House (artist Peter Wilkes) – Gypsy Rose story
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Sue’s Daily Dozen (artist José Casanovas)
  • Winning Ways #31: The Lob (writer Benita Brown)
  • Child of the Rain (artist Phil Townsend)

“Winning Ways” is running a lot of tennis tips. This must be because of Jinty’s tennis story, “Child of the Rain”. Next week a netball story, “Life’s a Ball for Nadine” starts, so it will not be surprising if we start seeing some netball tips in “Winning Ways”.

Nadine will replace “Tears of a Clown”, which ends this week. Last week Jinty promised an emotional ending, which she delivers with Kathy coming home from her time on the run and allowed to keep her new dog. She is astonished to find all the new-improved attitudes from the girls who bullied her and her parents and teachers who failed her. From then on, Kathy progresses so well at school, including becoming the star of the school cross country team with her running talent, that her parents let her throw her first-ever party and treat her to a trendy makeover. At the party Kathy celebrates her new look by ripping up a photo of the old gawky one.

One reader wrote in to say that the ending had her in tears; she thought “Tears of a Clown” was one of Jinty’s best ever and hoped all her future serials would be just as good. Indeed, this story would still stand up today because the bullying issues it commented on still prevail. (How about a reprint, Rebellion?)

Tansy of Jubilee Street and Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost deal with this being Jinty’s Guy Fawkes issue. Spoilsport Dad won’t let Tansy have fireworks or a bonfire; he can be a bit mean at times. Then Tansy finds the school could be the answer. They are willing to provide the bonfire, but the class has to raise the money for the fireworks because the school can’t. So it’s the penny-for-the-guy routine, and with Jubilee Street you can only expect hijinks along the way. The story has been uploaded onto the Ken Houghton page in the panel gallery. Meanwhile, Gaye’s father is willing to have the bonfire, but he can’t afford the fireworks either. So Gaye is using Sir Roger for the penny-for-the-guy routine to raise the money, which he finds a bit undignified. Of course this also leads to hijinks.

It’s Shona’s birthday, which she is trying to celebrate as best she can while marooned on the island. But given her circumstances, it can’t be anything but bittersweet. Meanwhile, Shona’s parents honour her birthday, even though they think she’s dead. If only they knew.

For once, the Gypsy Rose story is an original instead of a recycled Strange Story. New owners move into Covent House, next door to Mary Jones, but there is something strange about them. And they are reacting very oddly to Mary’s cat, Rye. Then Rye mysteriously disappears, yet Mary gets an odd calling from him to come…where she finds him in the centre of some…witches’ coven?

Witchcraft features on a more savoury basis in “Sue’s Daily Dozen”, though Sue is still not convinced of that. And the Daily Dozen does look a bit angry with her for doubting it.

Jemma is banned from the tennis club when a jealous rival frames her for stealing. She needs to find another way to train, and luckily, she finds a disused tennis court next door. But who can she use for a training partner?

The Pond Hill French camping trip is not doing too well, and then it takes a mysterious turn when a strange boy steals Fred’s shirt. We get the feeling the boy is a runaway, and whatever trouble he’s in will drag the Pond Hill campers down with him – but to what?

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 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.

Jinty & Penny 13 December 1980

Cover 13 December 1980

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

Stories in this issue:

  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Her Guardian Angel (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Girl the World Forgot (artist and writer Veronica Weir) – last episode
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Behind the Screen: The Goodies (feature)
  • Angela Angel-Face (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Sue’s Daily Dozen (artist José Casanovas)
  • Winning Ways 37: Netball – Marking and intercepting (writer Benita Brown)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine (artist Mario Capaldi)

This issue sees episode 2 of Jinty‘s last Christmas story, “Her Guardian Angel”: as Mistyfan pointed out in the post about the previous issue, by the following Christmas this title had merged with Tammy. And Pam is still struggling hard to make a cheerful Christmas party for the local orphans, despite many arguments between her friends and her supporters. But by the end of this week’s three pager, it looks very much like it may all be off…

Girl The World Forgot” comes to a dramatic end this week as some reenactors dressed as Vikings from the mainland come to the island. They rescue Shona and explain to her local ghost Alice Drunnon has been haunting the castaway girl. Shona is reunited with her parents – on Christmas eve, of all days. What an emotional present for all concerned!

“Sue’s Daily Dozen” sounds like it is nearing its end – we even see an appearance by Granny Hayden, as a vision helping Sue to defeat some crooks. Just about the last thing for her to do seems to be to help George the blacksmith have a truly blessed wedding – blessed by the spirit of Granny H herself, mind you!

Nadine is still combining disco dancing with netball, much to the displeasure of stiff-necked captain Betty. This time the other netball players need to rescue Nadine on the dance floor, by getting a huge strobe lightbulb from one end of the crowded dance floor to the other – in record time – using their netball skills, natch.

Jinty & Penny 14 March 1981

jinty-cover-14-march-1981

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Ghost Dancer (artist Phil Townsend)
  • No Expectations – Gypsy Rose story (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)
  • Just the Job
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
  • No Medals for Marie – (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Alison Christie Fitt)
  • Winning Ways 48 (writer Benita Brown)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine – (artist Mario Capaldi)

Pam thinks Miss Larks is being blackmailed, which leads to an embarrassing moment when Fred and Terry jump what they think is the blackmailer by mistake. Oh well, they were just trying to be helpful. The ‘blackmailer’ is Miss Larks’ nephew Steve Arnott, who takes over the reins for the upcoming school magazine Pam is struggling over.

“The Ghost Dancer” is approaching crunch time. Ferne wants to end her deception but is too scared of the consequences. But fate takes a hand when Ferne finds out that Jolie is in danger from a cracked pillar. Everyone sees the supposedly wheelchair-bound Ferne suddenly running off to try to avert disaster.

“No Medals for Marie” enters its penultimate episode. That mean old Miss Simon won’t let Marie’s family have the country home they so desperately need for Paul’s health. She’s going to abandon Paul to slowly die of asthma in his polluted town although she knows how serious his condition is. And it’s just because she’s so jealous at Marie finally winning a medal.

“Life’s a Ball for Nadine” is also on its penultimate episode. There are two jealous sisters going up against Nadine at netball and disco and trying to cheat her out of both. Nadine beats one sister at netball in this episode, but now she has to beat the other at disco in the final episode.

The Gamma Girls have won the preliminary rounds at the Golden Girl trophy, but it’s not all victory. Perfecta is on the trail of their secret trainer, who is Miranda’s mother. Cassy manages to foil Perfecta this time, but she is still suspicious. Plus, the dreaded Hive Inspector is going to pay a visit. He has the power to take Miranda and her mother away if he discovers their secret, and they will never return.

This week Gypsy Rose brings us an original story instead of a recycled Strange Story. Dora Lambert faithfully goes to Miss Harleigh to read Charles Dickens to her. Despite the Dickens title she reads from in the story, Dora expects and asks for nothing, even though her poor family could do with it. However, Gypsy Rose has forewarned us that there could be a surprise in store.

Sir Roger accidentally creates a double of himself, and then it’s triplets. Gaye ends up with treble the trouble of feeding a gluttonous ghost.

Tansy’s got a detective kit. She’s on the case of the missing hockey cup, which has disappeared from her bedroom window. For once pesky brother Simon and practical joker Peter are in the clear, so who could have done it?

Jinty & Penny 21 March 1981

jinty-cover-21-march-1981

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Ghost Dancer (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Kathie Come Home! Gypsy Rose story (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)
  • Just the Job
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
  • No Medals for Marie – final episode (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Alison Christie Fitt)
  • Winning Ways 49 (writer Benita Brown)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine – final episode (artist Mario Capaldi)

Why do Pond Hill and Wormsley Comprehensive hate each other? That’s the question Steve intends to lead off the first issue of the school magazine with. He is set on going to Wormsley Comprehensive to conduct an interview with its pupils and is dragging Pam there with him, despite warnings from Goofy that the Wormsley pupils will just do something horrible to them. If you ask me, the Wormsley pupils don’t even know they hate Pond Hill or ever stop to think about it. The Pond Hill pupils certainly have no idea what the feud’s about.

Two stories end this week: “No Medals for Marie” and “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”. Marie decides it’s time to confront “that jealous battle axe” of a godmother over the blackmail she’s been pulling to stop her winning medals ever since they first met. However, Marie is in for a surprise, and it’s the one that guarantees a happy ending for all concerned. The godmother now goes from stopping Marie winning medals to a race to see who can win the most medals and trophies the fastest. No medals for guessing who’s leading. In “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”, the team resorts to a most unusual netball throw to make sure Nadine gets into the disco contest that her jealous rival’s cronies are trying to stop her entering. Nadine wins hands down of course, and “she’s the disco and netball queen!”.

One of the replacement stories starting next week is “Fancy Free!”, but why is there only one new story when two have ended? It also means two Phil Townsend stories will overlap because Townsend will finish “The Ghost Dancer” while starting “Fancy Free!”. Normally that sort of overlap happens with Phil Gascoine in Jinty.

In “The Ghost Dancer”, Ferne ends her wheelchair deception to save a fellow pupil from a dangerous pillar. But Ferne takes the pillar herself and it turns her deception into reality! Now she’s stuck in a wheelchair for real. Will she ever dance again?

There is even more cause for tears in “Land of No Tears” this week. To save Miranda from being taken away, Cassy is forced into a bargain to throw the swimming marathon in Perfecta’s favour – and so lose the Golden Girl Trophy that is the Gamma Girls’ ticket to a better life.

Gypsy Rose brings another recycled Strange Story. Twin sisters are separated after an accident and one loses her memory. So she can’t understand these strange flashes of a girl looking just like her and calling her name. Of course it’s the twin calling out for a reunion.

A misunderstanding has Tansy think Mr Grady’s being put in a pensioners’ home. She rallies the whole street to save him, but ends up in the doghouse with them all when the misunderstanding comes to light.

Sir Roger puts on a show of spooking to get Stoney Hall into a guidebook. Unfortunately he meets his match in the guidebook’s editors, who are the biggest sceptics he has ever met.

Jinty and Penny 29 November 1980

Jinty 29 November 1980

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Girl the World Forgot (artist and writer Veronica Weir)
  • Angela Angel-Face – first episode (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Behind the Screen – Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
  • The Demon Eye – Gypsy Rose story (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost – artist Hugh Thornton-Jones
  • Sue’s Daily Dozen (artist José Casanovas)
  • Winning Ways 35: Netball – Dodging (writer Benita Brown)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Care for Your Countryside – feature

In this issue, Pam wraps up one of her most classic tales, her school trip to France. It has climaxed in a most unexpected manner – the French teacher being mistakenly arrested for kidnapping! What a story to get around the school when they get home! Fortunately the misunderstanding is sorted out and everyone is back home. But while the kids are all agog for an even bigger adventure next time, the teachers seem to be nervous wrecks from the French trip for some reason…

“Angela Angel-Face”, a reprint from Sandie, starts in this issue. It is not regarded as one of Jinty’s better moments.

In “Girl the World Forgot”, we get a hint that Shona will be home in time for Christmas, because her mother has bought her Christmas presents although she thinks Shona will never get them (or won’t she?). Meanwhile, Shona’s struggle for survival gets worse and worse as winter sets in, food is getting scarce, and Shona feels unwell, with no medical facility available.

Sue seems to be more comfortable with the Daily Dozen now that nobody has burned her at the stake or anything for wearing Gran Hayden’s witch gear and mixing her potions in public. But then Sue begins to doubt the Daily Dozen again when one of her clients collapses.

In “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”, it’s fancy footwork time as Nadine attempts to attend both a disco competition and a school netball game in Birmingham.

Sir Roger is not cock-a-hoop when he tries out the hula hoop, but it does help him to hoop two criminals. And in this week’s Gypsy Rose story, a girl’s superstition about cats bringing bad luck is annoying her friend, but saves lives when it leads to a premonition of impending disaster.

 

The Bechdel Test and Beyond

I have been trying to come up with a good way of looking at the characters in girls’ comics (and boys comics too), to help me think about diversity and representation in a structured, repeatable fashion. Hopefully that structure could also be used on other ranges of comics, to compare and contrast.

The Bechdel Test, which you may well have heard of previously, has become a fairly well-known way to check whether a story passes a pretty basic test of representation. It works quite interestingly in the context whereby the vast majority of stories told are by, about, and for men, in that it highlights those stories which have at least a bare minimum of female representation in them (to pass, they have to include at least two named female characters, who talk to each other at some point, and who don’t just talk about a man). It’s a starting point for analysis, not a tick that says the story is a great feminist achievement. But in a genre which is intrinsically focused around girls, this test becomes fairly meaningless. I could imagine a Jinty story which doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test (though the vast majority of them would do), but it would fail it in a different way from the male-dominated Hollywood stories that the test was designed for. The first rule of doing comics for girls is clearly that the main character must (almost always) be a girl: so stories in this genre will almost certainly only fail the test if the main character is the only character and therefore had no one else to speak to.

So there is little point in trying to measure female representation in girls’ comics by using the Bechdel Test (you could measure the lack of male representation in them by doing a reverse Bechdel Test but I’m not sure that this would tell you very much more). We need something with a higher bar than testing for the mere existence of female characters and their minimal interaction together. I propose a ‘Rounded Representation’ test, therefore: looking at the range of portrayals of female characters in the stories under analysis. OK, so girls’ comics are focused around girls, duh. But do they still stereotype girls and limit the ways they are represented, or do they allow their female characters to represent a much wider range?

I have chosen a few initial attributes to look at, and made some initial scores off the top of my head. The yellow items below are my generalised scores for Jinty across its run; the items in blue are scored with reference to a specific issue of Misty that I could easily access at the time of writing (April 1978 – available online). Does Jinty include stories where the female characters show the basic emotions listed below? Do the characters have a range of things they are shown as doing, whether realistic or not (sports, feats of superhuman strength, doing well in school, reading people’s minds)? Do the stories show the girls facing a wide range of different kinds of challenges, in a range of roles both positive and negative? And do you see only young and pretty girls represented, or are they shown as people who feature in stories across the spectrum of ages? If you are looking at the whole run of Jinty then yes, you see pretty much the whole gamut; and even if you only look at one specific issue of one comic targeted at girls (the Misty example in blue) then again, yes, even in one issue you see a pretty wide range of representation of the female condition.

Rounded Representation test

So what, you might say – surely it’s almost a dead cert that across a whole run of several years you will get the range of possibilities used. Well, let’s try that analysis again, but this time with BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) characters.

Rounded Representation 2

Even though we are talking about some 350 issues / 7 years worth of comics, the yellow items show right away that the range of depictions of BME characters is massively much thinner than that of female characters*. BME characters aren’t (in Jinty) shown as saving the whole world or depicted in fantastical situations – they are shown in more mundane situations where the challenge they face is about them individually. They aren’t shown in whole families or as ‘people in the crowd’ (actually I need to amend this a little, because in “Life’s a Ball for Nadine” we do see Nadine’s parents). If you are going to include fewer BME characters in the first place then it’s unsurprising that there are fewer roles given to them, but I suspect the gaps also highlight some tokenistic thinking too. Perhaps the gaps imply that it’s reasonable to have a story or two that are specifically about a Black British girl or a Chinese girl, or indeed to make her a villain; but to include BME characters as part of the expected background pattern of life is too much to expect?

* I am happy to explain my scoring in more detail if anyone asks in the comments; some of the elements may well need revising as it was a fairly hasty assessment. Apologies also for assessing at the pretty crude level of ‘BME characters’ which is itself a loaded choice, I know.

The blue items from my fairly brief analysis of an issue of Misty highlight further the fact that there is just so much less inclusion of non-white people in this era of comics. In one of the stories there is a sinister Chinese man who smiles happily and is clearly a villain – single-handedly he accounts for 3 of the 5 attributes ticked. This issue also includes “The Cult of the Cat” and I have slightly generously included Bast’s priestesses young and old, in the background, to account for the remaining two attributes ticked.

It’s immediately obvious when reading girls’ comics that the majority of the characters in them are female: that means that these comics have a great chance to represent a wide range of human possibilities in the shape of those female characters. Girls’ comics may not be bastions of feminism but just the fact that they show girls and women as main characters, villains, and sidekicks – and shows them as schemers, bullies, and heroes as well as paragons of virtue – means that the girl reader sees lots of ways of being, not a single simple straitjacket. The above gives us a way to show this range of ways of being: a method that can be applied in other cases too. We can ask whether this range of representation is made available in cases of other disadvantaged groups (the answer above being, probably not).

We can also ask whether other girl-focused stories show the same range of representation. I’ve watched a few episodes of Barbie’s “Life In the Dreamhouse” and while I am not going to do a full analysis of that show, I would score it as probably lower than the Jinty or Misty scores above – do you ever see old people on it or only beautiful young people? Does the protagonist ever face a widespread societal challenge? I don’t think so (but could be proved wrong by a more assiduous viewer). Compare that to “My Little Pony”, also targeted at a young female audience – the scores for female representation are likely to be much more akin to the Jinty scores, I’d hazard.

Now I need to apply the same analysis to girls in boys’ comics – and to boys in girls’ comics!

Health warning – as with any fairly basic analysis, there is lots and lots omitted in the interest of simplicity. There could be a lot more emotions included, for a start – such as guilt or envy – and this analysis certainly says nothing about whether any individual character is a thin cardboard cutout. It just says whether, in this genre, girls and women are allowed a range of slots in the story rather than always being shown doing the same thing in the same way – always the love interest and never the hero.

Edited to add – this is the 400th post on this blog! Very suitable to have this sort of thinky analytic piece on such an auspicious number. Many thanks all for reading the blog.

Jinty & Penny 24 January 1981

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Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • The Ghost Dancer (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Race against Time – Gypsy Rose story
  • Behind the Screen – Minder
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
  • No Medals for Marie (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Alison Christie)
  • Winning Ways 42 – Netball (writer Benita Brown)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine (artist Mario Capaldi)

The red, green and yellow colourings on the cover make it a standout. The winter sport on the cover blends in with the winter months when the issue came out.

It is the final episode of Pam’s current story, where she sets out to prove her cousin Veronica is a big fraud. And she sure needs proof, because even her best friend Tracy doubts her.

Ferne’s secret dancing in the ruins sets off funny rumours in the ballet school. And it can only get worse with Ferne secretly roaming around the school while deciding to carry on with her deception to punish her father.

Sir Roger’s mother descends on Stoney Hall. She is a dragon who haunted Sir Roger while he was alive and is now haunting him in death. But she has nothing on Gaye.

Tansy tries out for the school choir – just to get out of French lessons – but everyone is running a mile when they hear her sing.

Things are really stepping up in “Land of No Tears” when Cassy hears about the Golden Girl Award and decides that winning it is the only way to get better treatment for the Gammas, who are subject to indignities such as eating only scraps from the Alpha girls’ plates. And now she’s discovered a way into the Alpha girls’ gym for secret training.

Marie saves a boy’s life, but has to refuse the medal for bravery because of her jealous godmother, who says “No Medals for Marie” or no inheritance of her hall that Marie’s sick brother badly needs to live in.

It’s netball vs basketball in a stuffy boys’ school in “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”. But it’s disco that wins the day (while the coaches aren’t looking).

And the Gypsy Rose tale is another recycled Strange Story, about an odd case of time travel during a marathon drive that sets a guilty conscience at rest.