Tag Archives: Mimi Seeks a Mistress

Story length through Jinty’s life

I have created a new page listing the stories in Jinty by publication date. This seemed like an interesting and useful addition to the list of stories in alphabetical order that has been in place on the blog since we started. As part of the information on that new page it seemed sensible to count the number of episodes for each story, too (where possible) – luckily for me, the Catawiki data that I was using to compile this information gave me the ability to include that for almost all stories. As I put together the list, I got the impression that in the last year of Jinty‘s publication, the story length was getting shorter and shorter: so I pulled together some stats on it.

For each year below, there are some stories I excluded from the statistics, either because I didn’t have a complete count of all the episodes (for instance where a story had started in Lindy or Penny before their merger with Jinty), or because they were by their nature long-running humour strips with no specific start or end point. I’ll give a list of the excluded stories and their running lengths further down this post.

  • For 1974, the mean story length is just under 16 episodes and the mode (most usual) story length is 13 episodes
  • For 1975, the mean is just under 18 episodes and the mode is 16 episodes
  • For 1976, the mean is just under 15 episodes and the mode is 19 episodes
  • For 1977, the mean is just over 14 episodes and the mode is 11
  • For 1978, the mean is just over 16 episodes and the mode is 18
  • For 1979, the mean is just over 14 episodes and the mode is 12
  • For 1980, the mean is 11.5 episodes and the mode is 12
  • For 1981, the mean is 11 episodes and the mode is 10

We can see that the two averages do go up and down over the run of Jinty. Having said that, the drop-off in episode length in 1980 and 1981 does look like a real change, despite that context of background variation. (I’m not going to do any full-on statistical analysis with standard deviations and so on though!) Both average figures are down in those two years, because there are fewer long stories pushing up the mean as well as a general trend to the slightly shorter length of 10 – 12 episodes.

Which stories did I exclude from the analytics, and why?

  • The humour strips with no specific story arc: “Dora Dogsbody” (94 episodes), “Do-it-Yourself Dot” (62 episodes), “The Jinx From St Jonah’s” (112 episodes), “The Snobs and the Scruffs” (12 episodes), “Desert Island Daisy” (9 episodes), “Bird-Girl Brenda” (27 episodes), “The Hostess with the Mostess” (19 episodes), “Bet Gets The Bird!” (11 episodes), “Alley Cat” (163 episodes), “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” (111 episodes), “Bizzie Bet and the Easies” (27 episodes), “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” (96 episodes).
  • “Merry at Misery House” (66 episodes) is not a humour strip but like those above, it has no specific overall story arc, no obvious beginning or end that is worked towards throughout its run. I have therefore excluded that too. The same goes for “Pam of Pond Hill” which ran to a mighty 126 episodes in Jinty and then on into Tammy of course.
  • The stories that I have incomplete episode information about: “Finleg the Fox”, “Penny Crayon”, “Hettie High-and-Mighty”, “Gypsy Rose” (these stories are not catalogued on Catawiki as a group), “Rinty n Jinty”, “Seulah the Seal”, “Tansy of Jubilee Street”, and “Snoopa”. Various of those would be excluded even if I had complete episode numbers, of course.
    • Edited to add: further information has been given in the comments below. “Finleg” and “Hettie” ran for 7 episodes in Lindy, and “Tansy” ran for 45 episodes in Penny. “Seulah” ran for 11 episodes in Penny, and then started a new story in Jinty & Penny, which I hadn’t really realised. The two Seulah stories were more like separate arcs in a bigger story than self-contained stories in themselves. Many thanks to Marc for this information! I will add them into the spreadsheet and see if it makes any difference to the years in question.
    • “Snoopa” ran for 45 episodes in Penny, which Mistyfan confirms below (many thanks). As a gag strip, this would not be included in the year-on-year statistics in any case.

Longest run of an individual story? “Alley Cat” has all the others beat, at 163 episodes; runners-up are “Pam of Pond Hill” at 126 episodes, and then “The Jinx From St Jonah’s” and “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” neck and neck at 112 and 111 episodes respectively. However, if you exclude these and look at the length of the ‘normal’ stories, then the top three are “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (36 episodes), “Fran of the Floods” (35 episodes), and “Always Together…” (29 episodes). (Phil Townsend does particularly well for long-running stories, as “Daddy’s Darling” clocks in at 24 episodes and “Song of the Fir Tree” at 22 episodes.)

At the other end of things are some short stories. There are only two single-episode stories: “Holly and the Ivy” and “Mimi Seeks a Mistress”. “Freda’s Fortune” is the only two episode story. “Mimi” was a reprinted story, printed towards the end of 1980; possibly “Holly” and “Freda” were intended for publication in annuals or summer specials and then used as filler.

There are a few 3 or 4 episode stories: “The Birds”, “The Changeling”, “Casey, Come Back!”, and “The Tale of the Panto Cat”. This is also an odd length for a story – long enough to allow for a bit of development, but short enough to feel a bit abruptly cut off when you get to the end. Of these four, I’d say that “The Birds” is the one I find uses its length most successfully, though “Panto” works pretty well as a seasonal short. The slightly-longer “Her Guardian Angel” (5 episodes) likewise uses its length reasonably well to give us a seasonal amusement.  Some other shorter stories, such as “Badgered Belinda” (7 episodes), do read like they have probably been cut down from an originally-intended standard length of 10 – 12 episodes.

The spreadsheet with this information is available on request – please comment and I will be happy to email it to you if you want.

One-offs, series, returning characters, regulars

The Goods News for All Readers blog has recently done a Halloween post about Misty; in the comments on that post, and on a related post on the Comics UK forum, a few of us have had a brief discussion about one-off stories, series, and regular characters. Different titles create different balances between the various kinds of comics: Misty has always struck me as having a strong focus on one-off (complete) stories in a way that Jinty didn’t, so that is an obvious comparison between the two, but there are other groupings that could be usefully looked at too.

One-off stories / complete stories haven’t ever been a big focus in the pages of Jinty, except for in annuals or summer specials which are by their nature reliant on complete reads. Indeed, I wonder whether the two examples that come readily to mind – “Mimi Seeks A Mistress” and “Holly and the Ivy” – might have been originally written for publication in an annual and for whatever reason then been included in the weekly comic instead?

If you ask someone who was a reader of Misty at the time for specific stories they remember from the comic, they may well mention some key serials but they are perhaps even more likely to remember the spine-chilling stories. Clearly, one-off or complete stories have important strengths: this format allowed Misty to be tougher on the protagonists than an ongoing story would typically be. Indeed, many of the Misty stories featured character death – or even a worse fate! You can also have a huge amount of variety with complete stories, with the rapid turnover allowing creators potentially to experiment with a lot of different themes or plots. On the down side, they don’t allow enough narrative time for much character development, and I suspect that can lead to a focus on clever ‘twist in the tale’ story structures. (I personally felt like Misty placed too much reliance on this at certain points in its life.)

‘Storyteller’ / framed stories are stand-alone stories that still fit into some sort of structure or framing sequence. Gypsy Rose is Jinty‘s most obvious example, but I would also classify “Is This Your Story?” and “Thursday’s Child” within this as being complete stories that may not have a narrator but do have a constraining element to them that means you have a certain sense of knowing ‘what you’re getting’. In a Gypsy Rose story you know you’ll have a spooky element, but also a sense of safety; the protagonist won’t herself suffer an awful fate. In 2000AD‘s “Future Shocks” there was no such guarantee, but you did know it would generally be an SF story rather than a horror story or a morality tale (as “Is This Your Story?” was).

Both the entirely stand-alone and the framed stories have the advantage editorially of great flexibility – they can be run in any order so it doesn’t matter if one story is not ready for printing that week, you can try out new artists and writers, you can try out new directions and ideas. This flexibility can also lead to problems – the results can be uneven in quality or interest level, or overly repetitive. I would also say that to my mind they’re a bit too easy to put down and not feel that motivated to pick up again – even if you know that Gypsy Rose or Future Shock stories are generally really good, to me they don’t have the “must read” factor that a cliff-hanger ending to an earlier episode gives.

Serial stories are Jinty‘s bread-and-butter, but if you count up the number of series in a given issue it is not given over totally to them: 23 February 1980, for instance, has 5 serials out of 8 stories in comics format. I am here using the phrase ‘serial stories’ meaning stories that run over more than one week with a beginning/middle/end narrative structure. The way the ‘end’ element works is important because Katie Jinx or the Four Marys also have stories with endings, but they aren’t final – we know that next week they’ll be back with more, which is what makes them ‘regulars’.

A serial story has a lot of degrees of freedom: it can be a story about a ghost or a horse or a superheroine (or maybe a ghost horse or a horse superheroine). What it can’t easily do is change tack dramatically once the story starts; the start of the story sets it into certain tracks and certain expectations. The strength of the serial is the length of time that it has to develop a story and to really hammer it home, or to twist and turn surprisingly. It also has the freedom to change the situation of the characters in the story: it can end with them healed, or vindicated, or with the protagonist growing as a person. A complete one-off story doesn’t have enough length to develop that sense of change, and we often don’t know enough about the character to even care that much if they grow into a better person. A story with a regular character, contrariwise, has to ‘reset’ at the end of each episode or each multi-episode story, so that as the next story starts it can pick up more or less from the beginning again.

There are still weaknesses in the serial story format, of course. It can get too long and lose its way; it can be too short to let itself develop properly while not benefiting from the punchiness of the self-contained story.

Jinty also has a couple of cases of returning characters, where the original series gets a second, follow-up story. There aren’t many of these – “Fran’ll Fix It!” gets a second run, and so does “Daughter of Dreams”. Each story is a complete serial in itself, but because the character or the story was popular, they returned for another go. One option would be to reprint the original story, which Jinty did a few times; but if the story structure allowed it then a whole new follow-up story might also a possibility. Some stories would be better suited to this than others – a sequel to “Land of No Tears” wouldn’t be impossible to imagine but would require quite a lot of changes (someone from the dystopian future travelling back to the past, perhaps?), while a sequel to “The Robot Who Cried” wouldn’t be that hard at all to do (her adventures at school as an acknowledged robot, and how other people reacted once she had no secrets left to hide?).

A regular character may have short complete stories like “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag” or individual longer story runs as in “No Tears for Molly“. Either way there is no real change in or development of the character over the time her story runs. “Merry at Misery House” was also basically a regular, with story arcs; you don’t really get a sense of a planned resolution that Merry was struggling to reach from the start of her story, it’s just… time to wrap up the story so her mum and dad announce that her name has been cleared, bang.

They can be great fun reads, with a real comfort factor – we can get to know the characters well, and look forward to seeing them again, like old friends. That is really the draw of regulars; like reading a beloved Chalet School book, we know what we are getting and that we will enjoy it. The characters can develop some strong external recognition, too – the interviewees in Mel Gibson’s “Remembered Reading” consistently mentioned long-running regulars “The Four Marys”, and “Bella” from Tammy.

On the down side? If the reader just isn’t that interested in the character in the first place, or doesn’t find their antics funny, it ain’t likely to change for the better… The main counter-example I can think of in this area is 2000AD and Judge Dredd in particular: he is a regular who has turned into a proper, fleshed-out character with a backstory, a life, and unpredictability. Through him now, all sorts of stories can be told. The Four Marys changed their uniforms and were updated to become more modern on the surface, but never changed their fundamental natures – and that is much more the usual case with regulars.

At the end of the day, a weekly publication needs a balance of different types of story, not just thematically, but also structurally. There are other types of story structure that I don’t know of within girls comics: is there an example anywhere of the Buffy tv story structure, where individual self-contained stories build up in an overall arc to a series finale? I’m sure there are other kinds of structure in girls’ comics and elsewhere: what can others think of?

Edited to add: I have thought of another kind of story structure – Worldbuilding, or Shared worlds. This is where the reader is shown an imagined world that is developed in story after story. Perhaps one set of creators are mostly responsible for writing and drawing that world, or maybe a number of different creators add their own influences to the world. In traditional British comics, I guess that Dan Dare inhabits this sort of built world, though I’m not that sure as to how much of the world we see outside of stories focused on Dare himself; it is at least a strong enough world in itself for Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes to develop their own take on it in Revolver’s “Dare“. 2000AD does a lot of this worldbuilding: what else is Judge Dredd’s universe of Megacities, isocubes, and the Cursed Earth? But in traditional girls’ comics I’m not sure I can think of any examples. This is a big shame I think as this would provide not only very fertile ground for telling stories but also a lot of ongoing reader loyalty in the way that 2000AD has seen over the years – eventually even moving into mainstream acceptance.

Edited further: Lorrbot points out in the comments that there are also examples of Spin offs, where the characters in the original story generate stories with further characters from that setup. It may not be the same case as Worldbuilding, if there is no very obvious effort to invent a whole new world different from ours, but it shares some characteristics with this.

Jinty and Penny 15 November 1980

Jinty and Penny 15 November 1980

Heading back slightly in time from the issues most recently posted about by Mistyfan, here is another Mario Capaldi cover but this time one in the sports series. The scene has a very modern feel, with the blocky school buildings in the background. I’m not entirely sure about all the colour choices though – those white socks and shoes look like they’ve been forgotten about rather than deliberately chosen. Mind you, in those days we did have to carefully paint tennis shoes as white as white could be, so it’s probably my memory that is at fault…

“Mimi Seeks a Mistress” is nearly the last of the stories to be linked to on the story list: it is a complete story in this issue, and only two pages long. I wonder if it might have been commissioned for something else, like an annual or a summer special? It has little in it that makes it fit Jinty‘s “feel” more than any other story paper, so it could easily have been commissioned for some other use. At this point Jinty is not yet obviously struggling to fill its pages, as it was shortly to do with multiple reprinted stories in the same issue. As it is only two pages long, I think it would be nice to reprint “Mimi” for your enjoyment, slight though it is.

Mimi Seeks a Mistress pg 1
(click thru)
Mimi Seeks a Mistress pg 2
(click thru)

Stories in this issue:

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Girl The World Forgot (artist and writer Veronica Weir)
  • Mimi Seeks a Mistress (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Gypsy Rose: A Cross for the Cornish Queen (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Life’s A Ball for Nadine (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Child of the Rain (artist Phil Townsend)

Trini Tinturé

Spanish comic artist Trini is an iconic Jinty creator; her sharp lines lend themselves well to mean girls (Stacey in ‘The Slave of Form 3B’) and to humour (The Zodiac Prince). She has illustrated some true classics – ‘Creepy Crawley’ and ‘The Slave of Form 3B’ in particular – but whether drawing a one-shot Gypsy Rose story or a longer arc that gives her free rein with mad eyes and grins, her distinctive style is always a delight to see. She seems particularly good at brunettes with snapping glares, but her happy-go-lucky Zodiac Prince, one of the few male protagonists in a Jinty story, is also a memorable character.

Some of her stories are signed, such as this page from ‘Sisters At War!’ – a small neat signature in the very bottom left of the page that would be easy to miss. Even without that, it would be hard to avoid a contented recognition of her beautiful artwork on first sight.

Image

She is widely-published in Continental Europe, with long-running strips and short one-offs in Dutch comic Tina and in German magazine Biggi. Sadly though her name never became famous in this country in the way her artwork really deserves.

Her official website has text in English and Spanish.

List of Jinty stories attributable to Trini Tinturé:

Stories in other titles:

  • Orphans of Italy (June and School Friend, 1968) – 50 episodes
  • Jumping Julie and the Harlequins (Judy, 1969)
  • Oh, Tinker! (June and School Friend, 1969-1972)