Tag Archives: Merry at Misery House

Jinty 31 May 1975

Jinty cover 31 May 1975

Both Comixminx and I have been trying to find this issue for some time. Coincidentally, we both succeeded at virtually the same time.

As the cover states, the first episode of “The Valley of Shining Mist” begins this issue. This story was one of Jinty’s most enduring and beloved stories. Everyone compares Debbie Lane to a wild animal, yet that is because everyone, especially her cruel guardians, treats her like an abused animal. But something strange begins to happen when Debbie enters a valley that everyone avoids when it gets full of mist, and she sees something “fantastic!” From the sound of it, this is just the beginning of “strange and wonderful discoveries” that Debbie will see in the valley next week.

Two stories end this week, and their respective artists will move on to “Blind Ballerina” and “The Green People” next week. In the first, “Tricia’s Tragedy”, Tricia finally discovers that her guilt trip over cousin Diana’s blindness has all been over nothing – Diana’s ‘blindness’ was just the first in a long line of dirty tricks her unpleasant relatives have been pulling to put her out of the Lloyd Trophy. The eventual reveal that it was all to get their hands on Grandfather Lloyd’s inheritance is no great surprise. So the final lap to win the trophy turns into a race of revenge with Diana that ensures Tricia and her parents inherit what is rightfully theirs at long last. So they finally climb out of the poverty they descended into because of their horrible relatives – who soon clear out of town and their lives, thank goodness. The second, “Bet Gets the Bird!”, ends pretty much on a regular episode. The only indication of finality is Beth saying she’s glad to have Rosy Posy, even if the parrot does get her into trouble sometimes.

Merry and her friends now have a secret friend to help them against the cruelty they are suffering at the hands of the farmer the reformatory has illegally hired them out to. But now Merry fears they have lost him.

A sponsored walk for charity is going hilariously wrong because of Katie’s jinxing. It has progressively put all her fellow walkers out of the walk and eventually she’s the only one left. Then she discovers an old penny-farthing in a rubbish heap and tries to finish the walk that way. Katie the Jinx on a penny-farthing? That sounds like a recipe for disaster, and it certainly is at the finish line. Fortunately the penny-farthing turns out to be so valuable that it makes far more money for the charity than all of Katie and her walkers combined.

Dora’s challenge this week is a mother dog that is grieving because her litter died. Nothing seems to cheer the dog up until another mother dog at the hotel rejects her puppies. The grieving mother takes them over, and all is well with her again.

In “Daddy’s Darling”, Dad accuses Maggie of stealing Lee’s clothes, and right in front of everyone in the class! The teacher soon puts him straight: Lee has given the clothes to the clothing exchange. But of course difficult Dad doesn’t apologise to Maggie, and the incident forces Lee to resign as club president. What’s more, Dad’s pulling her out of school to educate her at home again, which will condemn Lee to loneliness and a stifling home life again.

Still, it’s better than the home life poor “Cinderella Smith” has with her cruel cousins. This week, they’re putting her in leg shackles that she has to wear around the house. They also beat her up when she confronts them about their hating her mother. But why do they hate her mother?

Greg is going on tour. Flo is sneaking along after discovering his manager Vince is trying to cheat him. Vince discovers the stowaway in his van and has Flo dumped on the roadside – in pouring rain.

Dot’s mother tells her to go fly a kite when she asks for extra money. That turns out to be an unwise thing to say, because that is precisely what Dot does. It ends up with her causing big trouble and the kite forms the basis of her punishment.

The text ghost story, “The Ghostly Guardian”, is about a ghost abbot who swore with his dying breath to protect the holy treasures of his church. He haunts “Abbot’s Dyke”, along with his pet owl, where the treasure from his church ended up. A truck driver disregards warnings not to dump rubbish in that dyke but soon discovers otherwise – too late.

 

 

 

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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!

The Four Friends at Spartan School [1971-72]

Sample Images

Spartan School 7aSpartan School 7bSpartan School 7c

Published: Tammy 23 October 1971 to 8 January 1972

Episodes: 12

Artist: Unknown artist – Merry

Writer: Terence Magee

Translations/reprints: None known

Special thanks to Robert Gairey for scans

Plot

Judy Jenkins is a bit uncontrollable at school and likes to play pranks to liven things up and relieve the boredom of school. She isn’t a bad kid; it’s just that her home life is neglectful and unguided what with Mum being dead, Dad being away on business so much, and a housekeeper who looks like she’s pretty much in loco parentis. When Dad gets the latest note from school, he decides that what Judy needs is discipline (not a parent who gives her proper time and attention, saying he can’t do that because of his work). So he sends her to “Spartan School”, a Swiss school that is very strong on discipline, and says it’ll do Judy “a power of good”.

We aren’t so sure about that when Judy and three other new girls (Amanda Rogers, Liz Orton and Sarah Williams) meet school prefect Siddons. Siddons is a cold fish who treats them with such severity she would make a heckling army sergeant look lovable. She says that they are all to take orders from her, and her sharp tongue is nothing compared to what awaits them at Spartan School, which will be “much worse things”. Amanda, who is a weaker character physically and emotionally, is quickly subdued by Siddons’ conduct. But Judy stands up to Siddons and says she won’t be downtrodden by such bullying, and neither Siddons nor the school will frighten her. The foreshadowing of how things are going to go in this story, obviously.

When they arrive at the school, Judy sees some pupils who have just finished their term and are going home. Although they do look disciplined, Judy is disturbed at how frightened and lifeless they are. Siddons tells the new arrivals that they will be just the same by the time Spartan School has finished with them.

Next, Judy meets headmistress Miss Bramble, who has been warned by Siddons that Judy will be troublesome. Miss Bramble tells Judy that she is a disciplinarian who doesn’t hold with “modern soft teaching methods”. She goes on to say rebels do not last long at Spartan School, and Judy will emerge from it a very different person. Siddons has already made it clear this means Judy will emerge just like the broken girls she just saw. The story’s subsequent text boxes say Miss Bramble runs the school like one from the Victorian era, with harsh punishments. Now that has to be an understatement. As we shall see, not even Victorian schools went to the lengths that Miss Bramble does.

Siddons shows the girls their dormitory, and continuing her ruthless army-like grind to break them into the Spartan School discipline. Once alone, the new girls tell Judy disturbing rumours they have heard about Spartan School. Amanda relates a story about a friend who was sent to it. Previously a wild girl, she never laughed or smiled again once she returned from Spartan School.

And the parents? Apparently they have no idea of what the school is like (or don’t believe it). Later we learn that Miss Bramble censors all the girls’ correspondence to their parents regarding her methods. The girls are to write glowing letters saying how happy they are at the school and learning to behave better. And what happens when they go home and tell their parents? By that time, says Miss Bramble, they are completely different people: “obedient and with a respect for authority”. In other words, too frightened to tell anyone.

Judy still isn’t fazed by her first impressions of Spartan School, and neither is Liz, who starts larking around. Unfortunately she accidentally breaks a lightbulb. When Siddons returns, she assumes Judy broke it and Liz doesn’t own up. Judy realises this is because Liz is more scared of the school and Miss Bramble than she is admitting.

In punishment, Judy is forced to stand in the dinner hall with her hands on her head and get no food. The food isn’t bread and gruel as you might expect, but it is bad quality food all the same. From the way the other girls look at Judy while she undergoes this humiliation, she gets the impression that niceness and kindness are unknown qualities at the school. But Judy’s punishment doesn’t end there. When Miss Bramble enters the hall (all pupils have to stand when she does), she inflicts the icing on the cake: Judy has to share a table with Miss Bramble where she gets a meal of bread and water while Miss Bramble gets a gourmet dinner.

Afterwards, Judy says she has never been so humiliated. The other girls are angry with Liz for not owning up and being responsible for what Judy went through. Judy herself is more understanding about Liz being too frightened to own up. Liz feels so guilty about it all that she sneaks to the kitchen to smuggle some proper food to Judy. Liz is disgusted to see how Cook feeds Jason, Miss Bramble’s cat, better than she does the pupils (a plate of the best chicken). Jason’s a real tiger though, and Liz has to run the gauntlet with him in order to get the chicken.

Judy is thrilled with the food and Liz is forgiven. The girls decide to band together in a friendship for standing up against Miss Bramble and Spartan School, and not let it break them.

The first test comes immediately when Miss Bramble and Siddons arrive about the stolen cat’s supper. This time Liz does own up. The girls rally behind her, saying they are all involved, as they do not want Liz to face the punishment alone. Realising the friendship that has formed, Miss Bramble tells them that she does not allow close friendships because these are bad for discipline, and is going to turn them all against each other. To make things even worse, the whole school, teachers and all, have turned against Judy because Miss Bramble is taking her rage over Judy’s defiance out on all of them, even the teachers.

However, Judy is more concerned about Amanda, whose health and nerves aren’t strong. Amanda was sent to Spartan School because her parents thought it would toughen her up, but instead it is making her ill. But the teachers are as cruel as Miss Bramble and show her no compunction or medical attention at all.

In the courtyard, Miss Bramble’s plan to break up the friendship gets underway. She has the girls toss a heavy medicine ball, and the one to drop it will be the victim for the punishment. As the weakening Amanda is bound to be the one, Judy saves her by dropping the ball deliberately and taking the punishment herself. The punishment is putting Judy in the pillory, with the whole school throwing rotten fruit at her. They are only too happy to do so as they have turned against Judy. Siddons orders the three girls to do the same, or Judy will be put in solitary confinement. Their response is to throw the rotten fruit at Siddons. Surprisingly, this results in the whole school rioting against Siddons and the school discipline while the three friends release Judy. But when reinforcements arrive, the other girls go back to their subservient selves and put the blame on the four friends. The four friends are put in solitary confinement, which means being imprisoned in cramped, freezing, rat-infested cells. Amanda emerges even weaker but recovers after a rest, and the others are even more defiant, angry and determined to stick together. Seeing this, Miss Bramble is even more anxious to destroy the friendship because in her view it impedes discipline. This time Siddons offers to have a go at it.

Siddons takes the four friends out for a skiing lesson. There are only enough skis for three, so Judy is excluded. She is directed to go down the slope to check it is clear. She finds it is clear, but when Sarah skis down, a branch hidden on the slope causes Sarah to take a fall. She accuses accuses Judy of putting it there on purpose and turns on her. Judy soon realises Siddons is behind it, and spots the proof – a glove Siddons dropped while taking the branch from the tree – but needs to sneak out and retrieve it if she is to convince Sarah. She succeeds, although she narrowly escapes being caught by Siddons.

Siddons soon realises her trick has failed, but soon has another one brewing: tricking the other friends into distrusting Judy. She forces Amanda to clean windows, despite Amanda telling her that she cannot climb ladders on medical grounds, and her health is worsening. Amanda ends up falling off the ladder, with Judy breaking her fall. Judy covers for Amanda by cleaning the windows herself while the others take Amanda to the dormitory. But she does not realise Siddons is watching and had planned it that way all along. After Judy cleans the windows, Siddons dirties them up again so Amanda will think Judy lied to her. And when Judy sees the look on Amanda’s face when Amanda sees the dirty windows, it looks like Siddons’ trick is going to succeed!

Realising Siddons’ trick, Judy pulls a smokescreen (literally) to cover up the windows looking like they were not cleaned. This succeeds in foiling Siddons and regaining Amanda’s trust. Unfortunately this also earns Judy the punishment that “never fails” at Spartan School – the Iron Mask!

Yes, a real-life iron mask that is straight out of the Middle Ages. Judy is to be locked into this ghastly contraption for two days, with no respite whatsoever. Out of all the tortures that have been inflicted on her so far, this is the one that is the most telling on Judy’s strength. It also makes Judy a target for bullying and cruel tricks from all the other girls, who have grown as heartless and cruel as Siddons because Miss Bramble’s ‘discipline’ has destroyed all sense of humanity in them.

Later, the girls rescue a pigeon from being clubbed to death by Siddons. After they help it to recover, they use it to carry a message for help and hope the message makes its way to a school inspector.

Next day, Judy is almost collapsing under the weight of the iron mask. It makes her so faint that she breaks a flask in science class and sets poisonous fumes off. While the class evacuates, Judy makes her way into the laboratory storeroom in the hope of finding something that will help her get the mask off. She succeeds, and then throws the iron mask down the mountain so Miss Bramble can never use it again.

Terrible punishment for this is inevitable. Sadistic Siddons suggests that the girls be allowed to choose the punishment as they all think Judy set off the poisonous fumes on purpose so she could get rid of the iron mask. Of course Miss Bramble thinks it is a marvellous idea. The girls’ punishment is a hockey match where they all take turns in fouling and brutalising Judy.

But just as this punishment ends, a helicopter arrives. The carrier pigeon did get through and the helicopter has brought in a school inspector, Miss Craig. Miss Craig indeed suspects something is wrong with the school after witnessing the inhumane hockey match and sees Miss Bramble for explanations. Miss Bramble says Jenkins must have goaded them but they will all be punished, while Judy tells Miss Craig that Miss Bramble put them up to it and it’s all part of how she runs the school through terror. Miss Bramble tries to cover up with smooth talk in how her school prides in discipline that turns unruly girls around. Nonetheless, Miss Craig tells Miss Bramble that in view of the note she has received about brutal treatment at the school, she will make a thorough inspection of the school.

The four friends realise Miss Bramble will try to pull the wool over Miss Craig’s eyes – and eventually it looks like she could succeed. They are desperate to find a way to find a way to make her see the truth. They get their chance when Miss Bramble gives the school a film show of documentaries to impress Miss Craig. Judy plants a Charlie Chaplin film (gee, how did that get to Spartan School in the first place?). She shows Miss Craig how the girls are reacting to the film: not laughing or smiling at all. She tells Miss Craig the girls are too cowed and scared to laugh because that’s what Spartan School does to its girls. Miss Craig understands what Judy is driving at, and when Miss Bramble lashes out at Judy in anger, Miss Craig wises up to her at last. She tells Miss Bramble her school will be closed down by tomorrow and gets ready to take Judy away from it immediately.

Miss Bramble is not having that and orders Siddons to get the cine-camera. She then threatens to beat Judy, and Siddons films Miss Craig holding the cane after she snatches it from Miss Bramble to make it look like it was Miss Craig beating Judy. They use it to blackmail Miss Craig into dropping her threat to close down the school. Appalled at how this frame-up could destroy her career. Miss Craig leaves without a murmur. While she leaves, Miss Bramble says to her, “These girls need the treatment I give them. It’s the only thing they understand.”

Afterwards, Miss Bramble gives the four friends an ultimatum: sign a document promising they will never defy her again or face terrible punishment the following day. Naturally, Liz, Judy and Sarah refuse to sign. Unfortunately Amanda’s weak nerves have reached breaking point and she feels she doesn’t have the strength of the others in continuing to defy Miss Bramble. Next day she signs the document while the others get a hosing for refusing. Amanda regrets signing, but has been brought up to keep her word and refuses to go back on it, even if it was forced. Later, the girls notice how Amanda is becoming more and more like the browbeaten, terrified girls.

That night, Amanda runs away. She is in serious danger because a blizzard is looming, but hard-hearted Miss Bramble refuses to organise a search for her. She locks up the three girls in a shed for the night when they try to force her to do so. Later, Miss Bramble grows worried that the girls might report her for refusing to search for Amanda, and Siddons hatches a plan to deal with this.

Next morning, Siddons offers to help the girls escape, claiming that she has seen how wrong Miss Bramble is and sends them off down the mountain in the cable car. When the cable car is half way down the mountain, Siddons cuts through the cable to kill the girls. Miraculously, they survive, and soon discover what Siddons did with the cable.

They make their way to the police station to tell their story and get help for Amanda. But they soon discover that Miss Bramble and Siddons have arranged another nasty surprise for them: they told the police a concocted story about the girls having run away after stealing money, and Siddons had planted the money on them before they left. The police escort the girls to the cells, but Liz helps Sarah and Judy escape by distracting the police with a ‘fainting fit’. Sarah and Judy make a fast getaway on a sleigh and head across the country to shake off the police.

They check out a hotel in the hope the guests found Amanda on the slope. Instead, they find Amanda herself! She says she found a calf on the slopes and they helped keep each other warm in the shelter of some rocks. After the blizzard eased, a farmer found Amanda when he came looking for his calf. He brought Amanda to the hotel, where she has made a good recovery. She phoned her father about Spartan School, who in turn contacted Judy and Sarah’s parents, and Mr Rogers is on his way to collect Amanda.

Just then, the police catch up to the girls, and they have brought Liz as well. But before the police can do anything, there is a sudden alert that an avalanche is imminent and will sweep Spartan School away. They cannot warn the school because the school phone has been cut off. What’s more, another blizzard has started. The girls decide to head back to Spartan School to warn them, making their way through the blizzard.

They make it back to the school. Knowing Miss Bramble is unlikely to listen to them, they decide to sound the old fire bell instead. But Siddons has seen them return and alerts Miss Bramble. They lock the girls in the bell tower. Miss Bramble does not listen to the girls’ warnings about the avalanche. Fortunately, Siddons does.

The girls manage to break down the door by using the bell as a battering ram. The noise the bell makes while they do so rouses the school, which enables Siddons to warn them about the avalanche. The school evacuates, and on the way down the slope, they bump into the rescue party consisting of the police, Judy’s father – and Miss Craig, who found the courage to report Miss Bramble to the authorities. The schoolgirls say they don’t know where the four friends are.

Meanwhile, the four friends have found Miss Bramble knocked out and unconscious on the bell tower steps. They pull her away with a sledge and eventually meet up with the search party. While they do so, the avalanche gets underway and destroys Spartan School.

Miss Bramble regains consciousness and cannot understand how these “wicked girls” were capable of saving her life. The police tell Miss Bramble how Miss Craig has told them about her “strange ideas of discipline”. When Miss Bramble says she was certain discipline would be good for the girls, Miss Craig tells Miss Bramble that discipline is good, but her “harsh tyranny” is not. However, seeing as Spartan School is no more, Miss Craig has little doubt the authorities will take no further action in the matter (whaatt?!?). Nonetheless, Miss Craig tells Miss Bramble that her teaching days are over – “over for ever!” Meanwhile, Siddons slinks away and is not seen again.

The four friends return to England and stay together at a much better and happier school.

Thoughts

This was the first story Terence Magee wrote for girls’ comics. It was also the first to pair up Terence’s writing with the artwork of the unknown artist who is nicknamed “Merry”. This pairing would occur again and again, most prominently in Jinty’s “Merry at Misery House”. Other occasions included the extremely popular Sandie story, “Slave of the Trapeze”.

Girls’ comics often made comment on progressivism vs. authoritarianism in education, particularly on how evil authoritarianism could be if it was taken too far. In so doing, it was linked with the bully teacher/principal theme, which was frequently used to illustrate what not to do in the classroom (or for the creators to purge their own memories of bully teachers?). The theme of tyrannical headmistresses going to extremes with discipline and reacting against modern teaching methods was in Tammy from the first issue with “The Girls of Liberty Lodge”. Here Miss Steele runs her school with such bizarre and harsh discipline that she stages show trials for girls in the school hall in front of the whole school. However, Miss Steele’s nemesis is not a pupil but a teacher, Miss Valentine. When Miss Steele reprimands Miss Valentine for showing a pupil kindness (so kindness is not allowed at this school either) Miss Valentine responds by quitting and establishing a progressive school, Liberty Lodge, in reaction against Miss Steele. From then on, Miss Steele pulls every trick in the book to destroy Liberty Lodge.

Jinty also used the theme on occasion. In one of her holiday specials she ran “The Spoof of St. Elma’s”, where the “cold and unfeeling” Miss Reed takes great pride in making St Elma’s “the harshest and strictest school in the country” (grim teachers and appointing the hardest girls as prefects are among her methods) and has no tolerance whatsoever for modern progressive teaching methods. She vows not to retire until she can find someone who can run the same way, and eventually tries it with a computer named Miss Steele. But it all blows up in her face when the computer malfunctions. As a result, her harsh, unfeeling legacy is completely swept away and progressive, caring teaching comes in with the new headmistress.

A variant Jinty had on the theme was “Children of Edenford”. Headmistress Miss Purity Goodfellow uses drugs to turn her pupils into brainwashed paragons of virtue in the name of perfection – with the full blessing of the girls’ parents.

Jinty’s most striking, and best thought-out example of the theme was “Dracula’s Daughter”, where authoritarian Mr Graves is determined to turn free-and-easy Castlegate into an old-fashioned grammar school. He rams it down everyone’s throats, even the teachers’, saying that he’s the headmaster so everything he says goes, and the teachers are to shape up to it or ship out. Mr Graves also believes fun and play belong in the home and not the classroom, and imposes this on the school too. However, unlike Miss Bramble or Miss Reed, Mr Graves is not a cruel, unfeeling sadist who subjects pupils to mock trials or ladles over-the-top torture with a shovel in the name of discipline. He is a bigot, not sadistic or insane like the headmistresses mentioned here. Ironically, he does have a heart and he shows he can be human when he believes it is appropriate for him to do so. Moreover, Mr Graves ends up becoming less rigid in his beliefs about education and learns to respect progressive education more. Still, everyone at Castlegate is relieved when Mr Graves leaves and goes back to his old grammar after discovering its discipline has slipped to the point of the boys becoming delinquent.

Spartan School is no doubt the most intense and excessive example of progressivism vs. authoritarianism in girls’ comics. Nothing is beyond Miss Bramble in her crusade to turn ‘unruly’ girls into her models of obedient and disciplined girls. However, we suspect discipline is just her excuse and the real motive behind her methods is that she’s a sadist who likes to torture girls emotionally, physically and psychologically. We suspect this even more when Miss Bramble says she has to stop the girls reporting her to the authorities because they would not understand her methods.

The text boxes say that Miss Bramble runs the school as if it were Victorian, but surely not even Victorian schools went as far as Miss Bramble. The girls either emerge as emotionally and psychologically traumatised zombies or like Siddons – unfeeling, bullying monsters with no trace of kindness or humanity to be seen. It is not just unruliness that is beaten out of girls but all trace of kindness, humanity and friendship as well. This is clearly because Miss Bramble does not tolerate tender emotions as she does not have any, and she does not allow friendships because they are building blocks to conspiracy against her discipline. She wants all her girls to be turned into models that are based on her personality. It could well be that Siddons came to Spartan School as an ‘undisciplined’ girl herself, and Miss Bramble’s ideas of discipline turned her into the stone-hearted monster and flunky that she is. As a result, Siddons is capable of anything, even murder. Or maybe she was a genuine badass kid in serious need of straightening out, but just got a whole lot worse at Spartan School. In any case, the four friends are the only oasis of kindness and courage we see in the entire school. Nowhere else is it to be seen.

Miss Bramble seems to ride on the shoulders of neglectful / useless parents who don’t seem to pick up on what’s going on at Spartan School or what their girls have become after they return from the school. Some may even approve of it. Rumours about the school’s cruelty circulate, Amanda herself has seen a damaged girl returning from Spartan School, and girls go home from Spartan School looking broken and frightened, yet nobody seems to step up and look into things. Parents still send their girls to it, believing it will do their girls a world of good. It’s not until Amanda manages to bring an inspector in that the cruelty of the school finally begins to get out. At least the four friends’ parents redeem themselves somewhat when they come in person to form part of the rescue party.

It is a bit annoying that Miss Bramble seems to get off a bit too lightly at the end of the story. Miss Craig takes the view that the authorities will not do much because Spartan School has been destroyed. Oh, come on, this is a woman who’s not only committed physical and psychological abuse against girls but is guilty of attempted murder as well! Shouldn’t there be at least a full public inquiry before deciding what should be done with Miss Bramble? Don’t the parents and pupils get a say in the matter? A lot of readers must have wished Miss Bramble had died in the avalanche or broken her neck on the staircase after reading Miss Craig’s view on what will happen to her. As for Siddons not being seen again after she disappears…well, it does suggest she might have come to a sticky end off-panel. Readers must have hoped for that anyway.

When Judy arrives at Spartan School, it’s where Miss Bramble finally meets her match, much in the way that Misery House does with Merry Summers. Like Merry, Judy refuses to be broken by the cruelties of the institution, finds strength in the only friends she has, and uses her quick wits to get out of the scrapes and dirty tricks that Miss Bramble and Siddons pull on her. As with Merry, Judy’s defiance takes the form of something that flies in the face of Spartan School and defies all attempts to break it. In the case of Merry, it is keeping on smiling and joking, no matter what. In the case of Judy, it is maintaining the four-friend friendship against all of Miss Bramble’s attempts to destroy it. And like Merry, Judy is determined to get word out about the cruelties of Spartan School and get it shut down. Unlike Merry, Judy succeeds on her very first try, although it takes time for help to arrive because of the blackmail Miss Bramble pulls on Miss Craig.

On this blog, Spartan School has been regarded as a forerunner of “Merry at Misery House”. For one thing, it is the same creative team. Parallels between the two stories have been noted above. The cruel institutions are physically destroyed (fire in Misery House, avalanche in Spartan School) as well as being shut down by authorities that have been finally been alerted by unsettling reports. Misery House also resorts to beatings, pillories, unhealthy isolation cells, poor food and other cruelties (but no iron mask, thank goodness) in order to break the protagonist. As with Judy, they also pull blackmail and other dirty tricks in order to isolate the protagonist from her friends and turn them against her. Character-wise, Judy could well be a predecessor of Merry; she likes to play jokes to liven things up a bit, but unwisely does them during class time. Liz is a bit like Merry too; our first impressions of her are that she is a chirpy girl, just like Merry.

In some ways, Spartan School does Judy a lot of good, albeit in spite of itself. Her energies, which went into practical jokes at her previous schools, are rechanneled into bringing down Spartan School and foiling all the tricks that are pulled to destroy the friendship. At the beginning we see a stubborn streak in Judy; once she puts her mind to something, she does it. This would have helped Judy immensely once she became determined not to let anything at Spartan School crush her. We get the impression that Judy emerged as a more toned-down and mature girl. No doubt she emerged as a much stronger and courageous one.

 

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 21 September 1974

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Jackie’s Two Lives (artist Ana Rodriguez, writer Alan Davidson)
  • Wenna the Witch (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Always Together… (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Jinty Made It Herself… so can you! (craft feature)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • The Hostess with the Mostest (artist Stanley Houghton)
  • Left-Out Linda (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee)
  • Wild Horse Summer
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)

I have been on a bit of a hiatus recently due to a very busy patch at work and some achy wrists from too much typing. Things have now settled down on both fronts so hopefully I will be able to ease myself back into blogging – and of course Mistyfan has been keeping things going on the blog with a recent focus on stories published in other titles and issues of other titles too.

This is issue 20 of Jinty and it feels quite thick and substantial – on counting the pages, it seems this was still running at a 40 page length at this point. There’s certainly quite a lot in it – the Katie Jinx story is a four-pager which continues a short story arc about Katie learning how to do hypnotism. She’s not quite as successful as she thinks she is being, because her school chums are fooling her by pretending to be hypnotized! But can she hypnotize a charging prize porker before it flattens her? I suspect not!

In “Jackie’s Two Lives“, Jackie meets Mrs Mandell for the first time. Of course she has to lie to her family in order to do that. That is only the tip of the iceberg, as Mrs Mandell starts to manipulate her further. It sounds so innocuous but it will all end badly, as we know.

Wenna is being persecuted as a witch – her local friends are being prevented from seeing her by their prejudiced parents. In fact the whole class of her year have been kept away from school – very cruel! Not surprisingly, Wenna takes this as a cue to run away.

The family in “Always Together…‘ are already runaways – elder sister Jilly is shocked to read in the paper that the water they have been using in cooking is polluted and likely to make them ill. Indeed, they all end up coming down with something. Jilly bravely keeps things going but once they are better there are the continuing challenges of before. How will they get enough money to eat and sustain themselves? Jilly’s talent for sketching will hopefully help but that might not be enough, because the little family are still not very strong and healthy.

In “Jinty Made It Herself” the reader is advised on how to adapt an old jumper into a different piece of clothing such as a tank top.

Linda is feeling very left-out in the story of the same name. Her mother has remarried and she has a step-sister, which rather spikes Linda’s plan of being expelled from school so that she can hang out with her mother and be as close as they were before everything changed. Step-sister Lorette seems rather nice and is certainly trying hard to be friends but Linda is having none of it. What’s more, when she does try to make amends by cooking tea, it all seems to go wrong and she is unhappier than ever.

Merry at Misery House is unhappy because her parents are suffering money troubles due to her father being taken ill. The other reformatory girls come up with a plan to earn a bit of cash that Merry can send off home. Unfortunately the way they earn it involves exposing themselves to illness, and soon the whole of Misery House starts to come down with virulent influenza. Yikes, that’s a real killer.

Daphne of “Wild Horse Summer” is made to go out picking sloes with the other orphanage children – everyone’s being very kind but all Daphne wants to do is to see the splendid white horse that she is secretly making friends with. On her ride, though, she spots that the farmhouse is on fire, with no-one left there to put it out! Her secret will be out but she has to alert everyone.

Finally, “Angela’s Angels” features a daring rescue from a crashed light plane – nurse Sharon rescues her hero, Neil Crosby, a tennis star. Fat lot of thanks she gets from him when he realises that he is paralysed and may never be able to walk again! There are lots of anguished faces in the beautiful art by Leo Davy.

Jinty 12 April 1975

Jinty cover 12 April 1975

  • The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Tricia’s Tragedy (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Jinty’s Favourite Spooky Stories: Her Lost Love (text story)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terence Magee; unknown artist – Merry)
  • Ten Polaroid Cameras Must be Won! – Competition
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Monday’s Child is Fair of Face – first in seven-part series on the old rhyme (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Cinderella Smith (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Bet Gets the Bird! (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Daddy’s Darling (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Slave of the Mirror – final episode (artist Carlos Freixas)

Yee-ikes! Katie is experimenting in the school lab, and we can just imagine what trouble our jinx can get into in the name of science. Sure enough, that’s just what happens. Katie’s trying to make a perfume, but her efforts are more like stink bombs!

“Slave of the Mirror” concludes this week. Isabella, the spirit of the mirror, is having Mia trying to burn down the place. But then Isabella repents and shows herself to everyone to prove it’s not Mia’s fault before departing in peace and disappearing from the mirror. Thereafter, the mirror reflects normally like any other mirror. The replacement story next week is “Face the Music, Flo!

Cindy’s cousins sell all her clothes to make money (as if they don’t have plenty of it already). Worst of all, they also sell Cindy’s beloved pendant, especially as it contains a photo of her mother, whom they really hate for some reason. Cindy is determined to get her pendant back but strikes a problem – no money!

We have double helpings of parrot humour this week, in the Dora Dogsbody story as well as “Bet Gets the Bird!” We also get a double helping of Phil Gascoine, who is not only illustrating Bet but also the first episode of a seven-part serial based on the rhyme of “Monday’s Child”, “Tuesday’s Child” etc. Monday’s Child Christine Carter is very fair of face and because of this, she has always gotten her own way with everyone and overshadowed Mary Jennings. It looks like Christine will do the same with Mary again when they both audition for a drama school. But there is a twist in store that enables Mary to finally get her break and Christine’s charms to fail for once!

Tricia and her father have to creep around their unpleasant relatives to get her back in training in her old training ground of the quarry pool. Then all of a sudden cousin Diana appears at the pool, calling out for Tricia. Now how could she have gotten all the way there? She’s supposed to be blind! All those who suspect there is something fishy about this please raise their hands.

Daddy’s having real fits this week when he hardly needs to. First it’s over Lee being accidentally showered in food scraps and then trying to help the families of the two evacuees. But he really hits the roof when he finds Lee and Maggie sharing the same bed!

Merry’s getaway from Misery House has been stymied by amnesia. At last, she regains her memory when she sees her “wanted” posters. Unfortunately, doing a runner could be awkward because of the kindly family she fell in with while she had amnesia. And what of the nasty butler who hates Merry?

 

 

WTFometer VI – Group Slave Story

Comixminx has devised the WFTometer, the idea of which “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”.

In the sixth volume of the WTFometer I am putting three group slave stories through the WFTometer. The stories are Merry at Misery House and Prisoners of Paradise Island from Jinty, and Slaves of the Nightmare Factory from Girl series 2. All of them have entries on this blog.

The group slave story is where a group of girls are being held captive, used as slaves and mistreated. Settings for the slavery have included state prisons, cruel schools, orphanages, factories, workhouses, mines, farms and secret workshops. More unusual settings have included ships, circuses, restaurants, holiday camps, totalitarian regimes and dystopian worlds. Sometimes the enslavement is based on an activity, such as hockey, ballet or swimming.

Sometimes the slavers have ulterior motives for exploiting girls, such as the establishment being used as a front for an underground crime ring or forced labour racket. And there are times when the slavery takes a form that is more insidious. On the surface it looks harmless, even enjoyable, but underneath it all, its victims are being ensnared for sinister purposes.

These three group slave stories are being put through the WFTometer to see how high the settings of the their forms of slavery, the cruelties the villains inflict, and how far they went would score on the WTFometer. As part of this purpose there are two lines for physical security: one for the protagonist and one for supporting characters. This is in case the physical security of the protagonist is any different from her fellow prisoners. For example, do any fellow prisoners actually die from all the cruelty?

First: Prisoners of Paradise Island

wtfometer-prisoners-of-paradise-island

Score: 19

This is one of the more insidious group slave stories. A hockey team is kidnapped and taken to a tropical island. But instead of being subjected to all sorts of cruelties and being abused and exploited, the girls are treated to every kind of luxury and pampering their kidnapper, Miss Lush can offer. Only the hockey team captain, Sally Tuff, realises it’s a gilded cage. Miss Lush is deliberately spoiling the girls with too much luxury and pampering so as to make them too fat and unfit to win a hockey championship, and she is going to take punts against them. After many failed bids at escape or make the girls see reason, Sally calls in their sports teacher Miss Granley for help. But when Miss Lush finds out, she tries to kill them both.

On the WTFometer there is a difference between Sally’s physical security and those of the other hockey players. They are subjected to deceptively luxurious treatment that threatens to damage their health, but it does not put them in any physical danger. However, Sally is put in physical danger when Miss Lush tries to kill her. So her physical security scores higher. Taking the hockey players away from their locality and onto a tropical island also scores points. This story would score more if its cruelties were more severe, but as it is it scores 19.

Second: Merry at Misery House

wtfometer-merry-at-misery-house

Score: 26

This was the longest-running group slave story in Jinty (and in girls’ comics). In the 1920s Merry Summers is wrongly sent to a reformatory called Sombre Manor. It is better known as Misery House, and for good reason. The reformatory staff are sadistic, hypocritical and corrupt, and inflict tortures that include beatings, starvation, drip dungeons and stocks. They are capable of leaving sick girls to die of neglect, and only Merry’s efforts to get medical attention for them one way or other saves their lives. Eventually it is revealed the Misery House staff are engaged in illegal dealings, and when Merry discovers this they try to kill her.

Physical security for both the protagonist and supporting characters is the same: big difference because of high risk of death or injury, but nobody actually dies. The setting of a juvenile prison and historical time period also help bring the scoring of the story to 26.

Third: Slaves of the Nightmare Factory

wtfometer-slaves-of-the-nightmare-factory

Score: 33

Natalie Jones and Amanda Harvey are kidnapped for slave labour in a secret dress factory located deep underground in London’s wasteland. Girls are sent to the dreaded Punishment Box if they fail to meet strenuous dress quotas. Food is terrible and monotonous. Basic necessities and medical facilities are totally absent because the kidnappers care nothing for the girls’ welfare.

Girls are showing more psychological effects of their ordeal, which means a “big difference” score on the mental security. The prison settings also raise scores in the free will/agency sections. The physical security for the protagonist scores “big difference”, and indeed co-protagonist Natalie almost dies from the ordeal. But what makes this story score the highest, with 33 points, is the “extreme” rating in the physical security for supporting characters. This is because one slave girl, Ellen Crawley, actually dies while trying to escape, in circumstances that suggest murder or at least culpable homicide.

Jinty #5, 8 June 1974

jinty-8-june-1974

Katie’s jinxing has a water theme this week, from jinxing water skiers to having the swimming team walk miles in the rain.

Judy tries to get help from the police about the haunting, but of course they’re not going to believe a thing like that. And Judy is even more terrified to realise that whatever is causing the haunting and making her friends dress like Victorian girls is going to target her next!

Gwen is riding high on the glory she has stolen. Of course that means a fall sooner or later, and it is already starting. Julie Waring is getting suspicious and has also overheard Gwen’s troubled conscience speaking out loud. Is Gwen about to be caught out?

The girls try to bust out of Misery House, but they not only fail but are also duped into playing a cruel trick on Carla, who was caught during the escape. One up to Misery House, but we know there will be a next time.

Angela’s Angels are accused of stealing, but it turns out the patient was foisting the blame onto them. We see acid-drop Angela has a heart: she sticks up for the Angels when they are accused and covers up for one somewhat errant Angel later on.

The scheming girls did not mean Yvonne to take a fall down the stairs when they soap the soles of her shoes, and only her acrobatic skills save her. It doesn’t cut much ice with jealous Lisa though, who is furious when Yvonne is chosen over her for the Dance of the Four Cygnets.

Miss Madden’s test for Mandy this week is very odd, even for her. She has Mandy dress up like a princess and then puts her in a posh room, where a two-way mirror enables Miss Madden and her colleagues to watch Mandy. Then Mandy panics for some reason when she hears the tune from a music box. Now what could have brought that on?

The influence of the Indian necklace has Gail’s friends turning away from her while she gets very sneaky and deceptive in getting what she wants. Daisy’s Victorian employers turn up their noses at coconuts and are not impressed with her fishing. It all ends up with their going hungry and Daisy slipping away, full of fish, so they don’t lumber her again. Dora helps out a dog that is being mistreated, but makes sure the dog doesn’t go to the dogs’ hotel either.

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.

click thru
click thru

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.