Shirley Bellwood, who died in January 2016 aged 84, is probably particularly familiar to most readers of this blog as the key Misty artist, creator of the beautiful cover and interior images of the mysterious dweller in the Cavern of Dreams. However, as this very informative piece on Down the Tubes explains, she had a long artistic career from well before Misty was published, starting in the 1950s.
In the pages of Jinty, she was most usually seen as the illustrator of text stories in Specials and Annuals. There were one or two comics stories drawn by her but these were reprinted from earlier titles.
- Tessa Trot and Her Trusty Blot
- Stop Those Nasty Habits (feature)
- The Slave Girl and the Prince (artist Ken Houghton)
- Miss Clever Thinker (artist Douglas Perry)
- You’ll Never Swim Again!
- The Test of Love (feature)
- Oh I Wish I Had Beautiful Nails… (feature)
- Gi-Gi of the Circus and Her Horse Go-Go
- Things People Say… (feature)
- A Chinese Love Story
- No Horse Like Hamlet
- Why Do We Say These Things? (feature)
- Christmas Creations (feature)
- The Adaptable Animals (feature)
- Locket of Fate (artist Shirley Bellwood)
- The “Ghost” of Miss Clare
- Autumn’s Child (artist Shirley Bellwood)
- Friends (quiz)
- The Waxworks Mystery (artist Diane Gabbot)
- If Inventors Had Their Way… (feature)
- The Diary (artist Bill Mainwaring)
- Weather: The Rhyme and the Reason (Feature; artist Joe Collins)
- Heart of Ice
- Beautiful Tales: La Prima Ballerina
- Miss Moneybags (artist Jim Baikie)
- Holly Takes the Plunge! (text story)
- Sad, Sad Susannah (artist Rodrigo Comos)
- Rudolph’s Relatives (feature)
- Caravan Christmas (artist Phil Gascoine)
The last two Jinty annuals were not a distinguished run. There was no recognisable Jinty content anywhere. They were a collection of stories, features and jokes that could either be reprints from non-Jinty sources or a mix of such stories and new material. Economics may have been the reason for the drop in quality. But when compared to the Tammy and Misty annuals of the period, this hardly seems a convincing explanation. Both Misty and Tammy continued to run their own material, even if they did fall back on reprints. In 1986 Misty also produced her last annual. This annual had a far reduced number of pages, indicating something serious behind the scenes which may have some bearing on the Jinty annuals. But at least it was still Misty and she was still producing her own material in her annuals. Yet this was not the case with the last Jinty annual of the same year. There was no Jinty content anywhere, just a collection of stories and features. It was Jinty in name only. Some stories, such as “Miss Clever Thinker”, “The Diary”, “Heart of Ice” and “Autumn’s Child” I recognise as reprints from older annuals, including Girls Crystal. “Holly Takes the Plunge!” is also a reprint – ironically, it also appeared as a reprint in the first Jinty annual!
The drop in quality began in the 1984 Jinty annual. While it still had some Jinty material to make it a substantial Jinty annual, the Jinty material had been reduced and some of the content gave way to reprints from older sources. The 1985 annual dropped her Jinty content altogether and was just a collection of stories and features that could make it any old annual (and very likely taken from older non-Jinty annuals). Why was there such drop in the quality of the last two Jinty annuals, particularly when compared to the Tammy and Misty annuals of the same years? Internal politics or economics? Lack of budget? Or something else? We will never know.