Tag Archives: Little Miss Nothing

Alan Davidson

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

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

Known Jinty stories written by Alan Davidson:

Known stories in other titles:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pat Mills: Interview

Pat Mills is someone who has already contributed lots to our knowledge of girls comics of this era, but even so there are still some gaps in our knowledge of what he wrote, and always plenty more questions to be asked. With thanks to him for his contributions now and in the past, here is a brief email interview.

1) In previous discussions you’ve identified the following stories in girls’ comics as having been written by you. Are there any stories missing from that list that you can remember? Some other stories have been attributed to you – also listed below – which you’ve either specifically said you didn’t write, or which haven’t been included in those previous discussions. It would be great to clarify this once and for all, if we can.

Known stories (Jinty)

You have also said before that you wrote a horse story, without identifying which one it was. Might it be “Horse from the Sea”? Or perhaps “Wild Horse Summer“?

Pat Mills: No. Doesn’t ring a bell. It’s possible I did the horse story for Tammy, but it wasn’t very good.

Tammy

  • Ella on Easy Street?
  • Glenda’s Glossy Pages?

Pat Mills: Charles Herring wrote Ella which I hugely admire. I wrote Glenda. Also – Aunt Aggie, School for Snobs, and Granny’s Town, but not all episodes.

Misty

  • Moonchild
  • Roots (Nightmare)
  • Red Knee – White Terror! (Beasts)

Pat Mills: Think “Red Knee” was mine if it was the spider story. Also “Hush Hush Sweet Rachel” – art by Feito.

And some Jinty stories you didn’t write but which are often attributed to you: “Knight and Day” (now confirmed as not yours), “The Human Zoo” (I think this is thought to be Malcolm Shaw’s), “Wanda Whiter Than White“, “Guardian of White Horse Hill” (you’ve previously thought this is likely to be Malcolm’s too).

Pat Mills: No, none of those are mine.

2) I appreciate that it’s harder to remember which stories were written by other people, if you even knew these details at the time. If there are any stories that you know the writers of, we are always up for adding to our store of attributions! We know that co-workers of yours such as John Wagner, Gerry Finley-Day, Malcolm Shaw, Charles Herring wrote for girls comics, in case that helps to trigger any memories. Did you also perhaps know Jay Over, Ian Mennell, Benita Brown, Maureen Spurgeon? (Some of those names are listed in the era when Tammy printed creator credits between 1982 and 1984, meaning we do have some story credits already in hand for that time.)

Pat Mills: Charles Herring was great – Ella and similar stories.  Pat and Alan Davidson wrote stories like Little Miss Nothing – Sandie and the equivalent in Tammy. They were top writers and that style of ‘Cinderella” story was hugely popular, but I don’t think they ever worked for Mavis. [In fact we do know that Alan Davidson wrote for Jinty, though Pat Davidson did not.]

John Wagner created and wrote “Jeanie and her Uncle Meanie” for Sandie, I think.  John was an editor on Sandie, but Gerry was the founding editor.

I wrote “Captives of Madam Karma” in Sandie.

John Wagner and I wrote “School of No Escape” in Sandie. (That was not bad) And “The Incredible Miss Birch” for Sandie. (Not our finest hour!) And I must have written at least one other story of this kind for Sandie.

I also wrote “Sugar Jones” and other stories for Pink, and “9 to 4” for Girl.

3) In Steve MacManus’ new book on his time in IPC / Fleetway, he talks about stories being measured in terms of the number of panels in the story: so for instance at one point he refers to a ‘twenty-two picture episode’ and at other points to a ‘thirty-picture script’. Is this something that you too remember from your time at IPC Fleetway? Did it happen at DCThomson too? I was interested in this because it seemed like a surprising way to think about comics, rather than in terms of page count.

Pat Mills: Yes. Steve is spot on. It’s a big subject. A thirty picture story in girls comics would theoretically deliver a lot of story. But it would be crammed and old fashioned. So I changed all that on 2000AD with less images on the page and started to apply it to Misty.

4) You’ve talked before about girls comics working differently from boys comics, and Steve MacManus recalls you saying that in a girls story the heroine would beat a bully, ride in a gymkhana, and still get back home in time to make her motherless family a hearty tea. Clearly girls comics were very full of plot! And you were a big part of rewriting a bunch of boys stories to make them fit the girls comics model more closely. Can you talk in a bit more detail about how this worked, in other words, what the mechanism was, more exactly? Is it a case of using fewer action sequences, more surprise reveals, lots of scene changes…?

Pat Mills: The big principle of girls comics that I applied to boys comics was “emotion”. Sometimes this worked well, but it needed applying in a different way. More “cool”, perhaps. Some girls principles didn’t adapt well:  jealousy for instance. Girls loved stories involving jealousy – boys didn’t. Hence “Green’s Grudge War” in Action wasn’t a hit.  Similarly, mystery stories work well in girls comics, boys didn’t give a damn about mystery. Hence my “Terror Beyond the Bamboo Curtain” in Battle, boys didn’t care what the terror was. It wasn’t a failure, but not the hit we hoped for.

However, where girls comics scored ENORMOUSLY was in having realistic stories that didn’t talk down to the reader. My “Charley’s War” is really a girls comic in disguise. Its popularity lies in it applying girls comic principles NOT boys comic principles – e.g. emotion is allowable in the context of World War One.

I was never that sold on “girls adventure” where there wasn’t a strong “kitchen sink”/Grange Hill factor. I think when Jinty went in for science fiction adventure it led the field, but not so sure about regular adventure which could seem “old school” – to me, at least. This was a factor everyone battled with on girls and boys comics, avoiding “old school” and creating stories that were “cool”.  Thus I would describe “Cat Girl” in Sally as uncool and old fashioned. Some of the Misty stories fell into that category – historical stories, for example.

Many thanks again to Pat Mills for his time, and for his memories and thoughts on this.

Miguel Quesada

Miguel Quesada (1933- ) drew only one story for Jinty, but his style will be familiar to readers of other girls comics, particularly Tammy.

Pencils by Miguel Quesada, inks by Vicente Melo

The only story he drew in Jinty was published in the very earliest issues:

  • A Dream for Yvonne (1974)

He drew a number of covers and stories for Tammy – a list is below:

  • Little Miss Nothing
  • Gina – Get Lost
  • Linda Left-Out
  • The Ballet in the Back Streets
  • The Stranger in My Shoes
  • Nell Nobody
  • Miss Nobody
  • Back-Stab Ballerina
  • Hidebound Hayley
  • Lord of the Dance

As can be seen, he drew some classic stories with a wide reach and impact – stories such as “Linda Left-Out” were translated into Dutch and Indonesian, for instance, while “Little Miss Nothing” is cited as the key story of the Cinderella theme that was so prevalent in UK girls comics of the time. He drew for a number of other UK titles outside of the girls’ publications mentioned above: for instance he is also particularly known in the UK as an artist on “The Trigan Empire” as well as having some Dan Dare stories under his belt.

In Spain, Quesada is an important award-winning artist with a long-running career; if you can read Spanish, there is a Tebeosfera entry about him listing the publications that he contributed to prior to his UK work, with some biographical detail. There is also a link on that site to a useful and interesting article on ‘The Spanish Invasion’ written by David Roach and translated into Spanish.

The work done by Quesada for UK girls comics is not amongst his most prominent or well-known but his clean style and ability to draw subjects like ballet ensures he will always have a well-deserved place in the memories of his readers. Here are some pages from “A Dream For Yvonne”, from 1 June 1974. (I originally included the episode from 13 July 1974 but the replacement episode more effectively shows off Quesada’s ballet drawing.)

From Jinty 1 June 1974

From Jinty 1 June 1974
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From Jinty 1 June 1974
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Pat Davidson writes to the blog

I am very excited to say that Pat Davidson has written in to reply to the comments made by Malcolm Shaw’s wife, Brenda Ellis. She clarifies that, contrary to the information previously supplied by Pat Mills, Pat Davidson did not write for Jinty herself, and indeed did not write the classic “Little Miss Nothing” which she has been wrongly credited with. Here are her own words to explain:

How much I agree with Mrs Shaw that – like her late husband Malcolm –  some, at least, of the men who wrote for Jinty took their work seriously, writing stories of real quality.  And I know how hard they  worked. In the 1970s, when we too had a mortgage to pay – and four children under eight – my husband Alan Davidson wrote many wonderful stories for Jinty, including “The Valley of Shining Mist”, “Fran of the Floods“, “Gwen’s Stolen Glory” and – one of Jinty’s all-time favourites – “Jackie’s Two Lives“.  In earlier years, he had written the breakthrough “Little Miss Nothing” which was often reprinted and became the template for a stream of ‘Cinderella’ stories written (in my opinion) by lesser writers.

After Jinty, Alan wrote many successful books for children in various genres, including humour and no doubt Malcolm Shaw, had he lived, would have done likewise.  IPC’s policy not to credit writers or artists was a disgrace and I’m grateful that Alan kept careful records, including copies of all his scripts together with his invoice books (IPC tending to be rather late-payers)! Although I remember Alan mentioning Malcolm’s name as a fine writer, sadly I have no knowledge  of which stories he wrote. Perhaps someone else will remember for Mrs Shaw? I do hope so.

Pat Davidson also kindly sent in a photo of the young Alan Davidson.

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

I hope that this blog will be able to follow up this very interesting contact and to give further details on other stories written by Alan Davidson. On a personal note, I am particularly happy to know the authorship of “The Valley of Shining Mist”, which is a story that lived on in my memory from reading it as a child.

Jinty 20 July 1974

Cover 20 July 1974

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • The Haunting of Form 2B (artist Rodrigo Comos) last episode
  • Gwen’s Stolen Glory
  • Make-Believe Mandy (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Gail’s Indian Necklace (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • A Dream for Yvonne (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)

Katie Jinks is kicked out of her new job, for having inadvertently set off the fire alarm, scared all the customers out of the shop, and soaked her boss in the bargain! The reason she took that job in the first place was to be able to buy herself a swish new swimming costume, which she now can’t afford – but at least she can buy some patches in the store – “It’ll be a little bit of profit for them, to make up for all the trouble I caused!” Of course with Katie it’s never that easy – she is the 100,000th customer to the store and gets a prize as a result – reluctant though the manager is to grant it! This turns out to have been a really good, solid two-parter, with plenty of gags and plot twists. There’s even one at the end – the costume she’s been after is a sunsuit, which shouldn’t be used to swim in – so she has to give it to her mother and resort to patches after all!

The Haunting of Form 2B” comes to an end in this issue. The girls are indeed in big trouble in a small boat, and nearly drown – but it is not Judy Mayhew’s intervention that saves them. The ghost teacher warned a lock-keeper who helped to rescue them just in time. Just as well, as in trying to save them (as she thought) it was actually Judy who was acting massively recklessly and would have got them all drowned. Very much like the curse in Macbeth! But because Miss Thistlewick was able to save the girls in the end, her spirit is now at rest and she can leave them in peace to enjoy their modern lives.

Everything is working out beautifully for Gwen and her Stolen Glory. The grateful parents of the girl that everyone thinks she rescues are buying a house for her and her family to live in, and Gwen’s talent has won her a place at drama school now that she has been given some attention (and now that injured Judith is out of the way). The only risk to Gwen is if Judith ever regains her memory – and Gwen is far-gone enough now to be happy to prevent that from happening.

Make-Believe Mandy has to pass more tests set by Miss Madden. What has complicated things is that Mandy’s cruel family have twigged that there is something going on, and have tried to horn in on what might be coming to her.

We find out in this week’s episode that Merry’s friend Carla is still alive, but being kept hidden so that Merry is psychologically tormented along with being ostracised by her friends. But Merry finds out too, soon enough, and risks quite a lot to get Carla out of where she has been hidden. Miss Ball is even more of an enemy of Merry’s, after that…

Gail finds out something important about her necklace, and now knows what she needs to do to appease the vengeful spirit Anak-Har-Li that lives in it. Of course getting nearer to her goal isn’t easy, as the spirit seems quite happy to hurt people that stand in its way – and possibly Gail’s Aunt Marjorie might soon count!

“A Dream for Yvonne” develops further on its miserable course – she is picked up by a children’s welfare officer who is sceptical about her claim to have lost her memory, so he takes her to a reformatory, which she will be hard-pressed to escape from. Writing this, I am reminded of the fact that Miguel Quesada also drew Tammy‘s “Little Miss Nothing” – a similar Cinderella story.

WTFometer III

If you’re a relatively recent reader of this blog you may not have seen a couple of linked posts I did back in June last year, explaining an analytical concept I came up with and named the WTFometer. The idea of this was to give a framework for looking at how bonkers (or not) a story’s plot was, by comparing the story to an assumed ‘average reader’s situation’. This gives a structured way of comparing stories, including the possibility of finding patterns of oddity in seemingly-different stories which are perhaps odd in similar ways.

At that point I only posted 3 complete WTFometers – for “Song of the Fir Tree“, “The Children of Edenford“, and “Worlds Apart“. “Song of the Fir Tree” was surprisingly more extreme than I would have expected it to have come out as: with a boy and girl protagonist, serious threat of death, and a long journey across lands quite foreign to the assumed readership of Jinty, the story scored reasonably high on the WTFometer at 39 points. “The Children of Edenford”, likewise, had some surprises in store – the analysis highlighted the fact that a great deal of the setup was quite similar to that of the expected readership – it takes place in England, doesn’t move far from its initial geographical setup, and the protagonist herself is not very different from the typical reader. What marks it out and gives it an eventual score of 24 is the lack of agency of the characters – this is a story about free will – and the strange school setup, as well as the serious threat of death towards the end.

There was little surprise in the very high score of 87 for “Worlds Apart”, a strong contender for the most bonkers girls comics story of all. The WTFometer may not surprise us in this case, but the story’s very extremeness can more easily quantified by this method that gives us a comparison across stories.

There’s little sense in developing the concept and then not using it for more than a few stories, but of course there’s always plenty to write about on this blog between me and Mistyfan, and the WTFometer has lain unused since that time. However, a couple of months ago I created a few more WTFometers; I didn’t post them at the time as they turned out not to fit the main theme of the posts I was writing. I am now therefore including them in a post of their own, re-opening discussion about these stories but also about the WTFometer generally.

Firstly, I wanted to compare two tear-jerking stories. They are not quite the same; the first story involves emotional cruelty, and the second is about grief and its effects. Both were very popular, both were written by female writers. The first one is “Little Miss Nothing”, and the second is “Stefa’s Heart of Stone“.

Little Miss Nothing” is one of the originators of the cruelty/suffering theme that became so popular in girls’ comics of the 70s. As such it is perhaps not surprising to see a relatively low score of WTFness overall at 23 points; the character is taken out of a normal school environment but much of the setting of the story remains close to an ordinary readers’ life: the key focus is on the removal of much of her agency as she is bossed around by others, and on the emotional abuse she suffers.

WTFometer Little Miss Nothing

“Stefa’s Heart of Stone” was published a few years later. Again, much of the setting of the story will be very familiar to the readers. As it is a very focused story of grief and severe emotional withdrawal, only some of the categories score highly and overall the WTFometer score is not very high at 22.

WTFometer Stefa HOS

Go On, Hate Me!” is here partly because it is another emotional cruelty / tear-jerker story, but one known to be written by a man. It would only be a small sample which wouldn’t prove anything, but could it indicate anything about possible differences in writing between the genders? If anything the extremeness of the scenario explored in this story is lesser than in the two stories above – the protagonist is a young woman rather than a girl, not living in a two-parent household, not surrounded by a small group of close friends; but the one key element that stands out on the WTFometer analysis is the exploration of the emotional abuse. Remember that the WTFometer is not a tool for looking at neatness of dialogue or tightness of plot – it is purely one element of a general analysis, and says nothing about how well overall a story works or doesn’t. On this analysis, “Go On, Hate Me!” has just one striking angle of attack rather than being generally over-the-top.

WTFometer Go On Hate Me

“Land of No Tears” is of course also known to be written by a man, but one who has categorised himself as being one of the young men ‘killing themselves laughing’ (Pat Mills, of course). Does this mean the story ends up looking particularly over-the-top in a way that Len Wenn’s story above does not? Yes, indeed – though of course this is a science fiction story anyway which by its nature will involve a lot of moving away from the expected context of the assumed Jinty reader. At 45 it is one of the highest scoring stories on the WTFometer so far, second only to “Worlds Apart”. It is also noticeable for having a spread of differences compared to the ‘expected reader’ – it portrays a world different to that girl reader’s in many and varied ways, not just one or two. If we did a WTFometer for a non-science fiction Pat Mills story,  “Concrete Surfer”, I’m sure the score would be much lower.

WTFometer Land of no Tears

Fran of the Floods” is another science fiction story, this time known to be written by a woman. It actually beats LONT on its WTFometer score with a total of 51 – though the story protagonists share a lot of initial similarities with the readers, the journey they are taken through, and the world they end up in, is radically different from what the readers live through.

WTFometer Fran of the Floods

The Cinderella Theme

Pat Mills has said on online that the Cinderella theme was one of the lynchpins in girls’ comics. This feature will examine the Cinderella theme and how it played out in Jinty.

As the name suggests, the Cinderella theme refers to stories where girls are treated like Cinderella. Their parents, step parents or other types of guardians abuse them, use them as cheap labour, exploit them and take advantage of any talent they may have. There may be a wicked stepsister type (cousin, sister, stepsister or whatever) who is the nasty spoilt one and the exploitation is often geared towards investing in the spoilt one’s advancement, such as in Knight and Day and Make Believe Mandy from Jinty.

Cinderella 1.jpg

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Sometimes there is no wicked stepsister type at all, such as in the most famous example of the Cinderella story in girls’ comics, Bella Barlow from Tammy. Starting as another Cinderella serial, Bella proved so popular that she lasted for ten years, and was stopped only by Tammy’s cancellation.

And there are times when the Cinderella is the eldest of a group of siblings. They are all being abused by a nasty guardian, but it is the eldest who takes the brunt but also retains the determination to protect her siblings in any way she can and win through. Examples of this type of Cinderella story are more readily found in DCT titles, such as Slaves of the Singing Kettle from Tracy.

Some Cinderella themed strips are played for laughs, with the wicked stepmother or sisters getting a comical comeuppance every week. The best known example is Cinderella Jones from Judy. But for the most part it is serious, emotional abusive fare, and that was how it was played in Jinty.

The abuse occurs mostly because the abusers are nasty bullies or neglectful/lazy types who don’t care for the girl, or it is a combination of the two. But sometimes they have deeper motives. In Sadie and the Sticks (Tammy) and Champion in Hiding (Jinty), for example, it is revealed that the abusers are in the pay of an even bigger criminal. In Make Believe Mandy the abusers are motivated by a deep hatred and the reason for it forms the mystery of the story. It starts to unravel once Mandy realises she is not related to them by blood, which is a common reason for it all in Cinderella stories.

Cinderella 3.jpg

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As per the original, rescue may come in a supernatural form, such as Whistle and I’ll Come and Moonchild (Misty), Girl with the Power (Tracy), The Clothes Make Carol (Tammy), and The Valley of Shining Mist (Jinty). But in most cases the girl has to look to her own salvation. This usually takes the form of a hobby or talent that the girl is determined to pursue (gymnastics, ballet, music, a sport, art, a craft, sewing and herbology are just of the things that have been used). Or it may be a special secret, such as an injured animal. Whatever it is, it is not her only consolation in her unhappy home life but her ticket to freedom and happiness. Of course the road is not smooth; the abusers throw up obstacles along the way, and even take advantage of her ability. Running away often happens, which either leads to the resolution of the story or turns it into a fugitive story. But it is the fairy godmother type who usually resolves it, either by discovering the abuse or stumbling across the girl’s talent. Cinderella stories typically end up with the girl being adopted by a loving family, being reconciled with her former abusers who had a change of heart, or her talent/secret finally gives her an escape to happiness.

Cinderella 2.jpg

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Strangely, Tammy, the pioneer in darkness and cruelty, did not have a Cinderella sto in her first lineup. Her first Cinderella story, which came later, was Little Miss Nothing, and it set the template in Tammy, though the theme must have been much older than that in girls’ comics. Once discovered, there was no stopping the Cinderella story in Tammy until it, like the slave story, faded from Tammy by the late seventies. Only Bella remained from former times. Until then, Cinderella stories in byTammy included Jumble Sale Jilly, Tess on Tap, Sadie in the Sticks, Nell Nobody, Common Cathy, Sally in a Shell and, of course, Bella.

However, Jinty did have a Cinderella story in her first lineup as she was following the early Tammy. Notable Cinderella stories in Jinty were:

Make Believe Mandy (1974): the first one, starting in the first issue. Mandy Miller is abused her family who seem to hate her and compare her unfavourably with her sister Dinah.

Cinderella Smith (1975): The abuse of Cindy Smith under her cousins is so extreme that she is forced to wear shackles on her legs when she is working.

The Valley of Shining Mist (1975): Debbie Lane has been so psychologically damaged by the abuse from her adoptive family that she has become wild and thieving and has no confidence, which is reflected in a stammer. Then Debbie discovers confidence and can talk properly when she discovers the magical Valley of Shining Mist. But she soon finds that she has to learn to function that way outside the valley as well.

Finleg the Fox (1975): this story started in Lindy and concluded in the Jinty & Lindy merger. Lame Una Price is sent to the Dray family at Blindwall Farm in the hope of a country cure for her poor health. But the Drays are not very welcoming, nor do they welcome Finleg, the fox Una befriends.

Champion in Hiding (1976): Mitzi Morris is forced to live with her horrible Aunt Shirley, who does not treat her well. Mitzi has to hide her dog Firefly from Aunt Shirley as she is determined to train him as a sheepdog champion, but Aunt Shirley is being paid to prevent this.

No Cheers for Cherry (1978): Cherry Campbell’s aunt brings her to her family theatre houseboat with the promise of drama training for the fame that Cherry wants. In reality, the family just want Cherry as an unpaid servant.

The Changeling (1978): Katy Palmer runs away and then steals another girl’s identity to escape her cruel uncle. In an unusual break with the theme, the uncle appears in only the first and last episodes. And he does not seem to launch much pursuit, if any, of his runaway niece, which is what the abusive guardian usually does when the girl runs off. But then he doesn’t get much chance as this story only ran for three episodes.

Knight and Day (1978): Pat Day is removed from her foster family because her natural mother, Mrs Knight, suddenly wants her back after years of ignoring her. But Pat soon finds that Mum only wants her so they can get a council flat and stepsister Janet is spiteful. This story is unusual in having the natural parent being cast in the wicked stepmother role while the foster parent is the good parent.

Spirit of the Lake (1979-80): Sometimes Mum shares the Cinderella role with the heroine, as is the case in this story. Karen Carstairs and her mother find themselves unpaid help when they come to stay with their relatives, the Grahams. And snooty cousin Cynthia sneers at Karen for not being able to skate while she is the best skater in the county. But then a fairy godmother appears in the form of the mysterious woman on the lake who starts teaching Karen to skate.

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Evidently the Cinderella theme was less frequent in Jinty than in Tammy, and eventually it faded from Jinty altogether. This may be due to the SF and sports emphasis that took hold in Jinty. Or it may be because stories of darkness, cruelty and tortured heroines faded at IPC because of changes in editorship. By the late seventies the Cinderella stories had faded altogether from Tammy, except for Bella. The same went for the slave story that Tammy had revelled in. Yet the Cinderella story remained popular at DCT, and titles like Bunty and Mandy continued to crank them out in quantity. Yet by the 1990s the Cinderella theme had waned at DCT too, except for reprints. Now what changes in editorship could have taken place here? Another question for comic book researchers to ponder.