Tag Archives: Music

Scream! #4, 14 April 1984

Scream 4 cover

  • The Dracula File (artist Eric Bradbury, writer Gerry Finley-Day)
  • The Library of Death: All Done with Wires (artist Cam Kennedy, writer J.H. Teed)
  • The Thirteenth Floor (artist Ortiz, writer Ian Holland)
  • Tales from the Grave: “The Undertaker” – final episode (artist Jim Watson, writer Tom Tully)
  • Terror of the Cats (artist John Richardson, writer Simon Furman)
  • Fiends and Neighbours – cartoon (artist Graham Allen)
  • A Ghastly Tale! – Mirror, Mirror
  • Monster (artist Jesus Redondo, writer Rick Clark)

Ghastly introduces another competition. Meanwhile, he publishes another failed attempt to capture his likeness.

Scream 4 from the Depths

The vampire from Rumania has turned the agent who was on his tail into another servant to do his bidding. Then he’s off to the cinema in pursuit of more victims. And they would just happen to be watching a movie called “Dracula’s Death”. Dracula, of all things!

In the Library of Death a fraudulent medium gets his punishment-fitting-the-crime comeuppance, and it’s all done with wires. And in the Ghastly Tale “Mirror, Mirror”, the mirrors in the Hall of Mirrors are, shall we say, producing some unusual effects on people.

Scream 4 A Ghastly Tale

As shown below, the punks out to beat up a tenant emerge from The Thirteenth Floor as nervous wrecks. They won’t be in any condition to beat up anyone for a long time. But another transgressor is always coming along to the Thirteenth Floor, and this time it’s a gang of actual criminals.

(Click thru)

It’s the last episode of the Tales from the Grave story, “The Undertaker”. Murder plotters Sleeth and Emily discover too late that Emily’s fiancé Clive had committed the murder himself, for the same reason as Emily. The wires of the two murder plots got crossed, causing everything to backfire on all the plotters. Clive kills Sleeth and goes down for double murder. Emily tries to feign innocence with the police, but Sleeth’s apprentice Smyte is a witness to the truth, so she ends up in prison. And whose coffin on the cover is the Leper burying? Sleeth, the undertaker he was talking about the whole time, of course.

It is finally revealed why “The Terror of the Cats” is attacking the hospital. The cats are after a male nurse, Jim Wardon. Wardon helped Dr Kruhl with his diabolical experiments that are making the cats go crazy, and now he’s regretting it. Wardon’s making a run for it, not realising Kruhl’s cats are watching. Meanwhile, Woodward makes his way into Kruhl’s lair surprisingly unmolested by the killer cats. But then he bumps into a killer cat of a different sort – a tiger!

Scream 4 competition

“Monster” Uncle Terry is out of his attic prison for the very first time in his life. It’s in response to one of Dad’s dodgy creditors, Joe Thacker, attacking Kenny and robbing him of money in order to reclaim his debt. Unfortunately Uncle Terry ends up killing Thacker. Oh, no, that’s the second time he’s killed someone, and it’s another corpse for the garden.

 

 

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Nothing To Sing About [1979]

Sample Images

Nothing to Sing About

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Published: 9 June 1979 – 25 August 1979

Episodes: 12

Artist: Phil Townsend

Writer: Alison Christie

Translations/reprints: Girl Picture Story Library #15 as “I’ll Never Sing Again!”

Plot

Linette Davis dreams of being a top singer like her father Gary, who is a very famous singer. As far as Linette is concerned, things couldn’t be better. But there are warning signs of storm clouds ahead. Dad had been receiving medical advice to take it easy, which he is not heeding. Dad’s adoring fans have an unfortunate tendency to get carried away when they mob him for autographs and souvenirs, and have even torn his jacket off. When Mum and Linette watch Dad’s concert in Croxley, there’s an ominous poignancy about his singing…as if he’s doing it for the last time. Afterwards Linette hears that Dad went ahead with the concert although he was feeling poorly.

After the Croxley concert the fans mob Dad again, but he suddenly collapses. He dies in hospital, and Linette’s world is shattered. Mum says it was a heart attack, which had been coming for some time. But Linette blames the fans, saying they crushed and trampled him to death. This causes her to turn into an extremely bitter and irrational girl. She calls the fans murderers and lashes out at any fan of Dad’s that she encounters.

Moreover, Linette now can’t stand singing or music in any form, and she wants to block them out of her life. Whenever she hears Dad’s music being played (at record shops etc) she can’t stand it and wants to run away. Linette locks up Dad’s piano and throws the key away so it will never play that music again. She even goes as far as to try to stop birds singing in the garden. And she herself refuses to sing anymore; she gives up her singing lessons and burns all her singing books.

Linette refuses to listen to Mum’s urgings that Dad’s death was due to a heart attack and nothing to do with the fans, and that she shouldn’t give up on singing. As far as Linette is concerned, singing stopped the day Dad died.

Dad’s death has brought on financial difficulties too. They cannot afford to keep up their big house. Linette suggests they take in lodgers, as long as they are not singers. But singers are precisely what Mum takes in and she is helping them with their singing too. Linette can’t stand it and tries to get rid of the lodgers. But she ends up with Tom Bruce, the secretary of Dad’s fan club, and his daughter Anna.

Linette promptly starts taking her anger against the fans out on Anna and her Gary Davis fan club. Despite this, Anna tries to reach out to Linette. And Linette is forced towards Anna even further when the financial situation means Linette has to transfer to Anna’s comprehensive school.

At Anna’s fan club, Linette tries to crush it by yelling accusations about their being responsible for his death at their meeting. However, she is interrupted when a sudden fire breaks out, which nearly claims her. She won’t believe that it was one of Dad’s fans, Lucy, who saved her from the fire. And it’s too much for Linette when Mum agrees to let the fans hold their meetings at her house because they’ve lost their meeting place from the fire.

So Linette decides to run away, to a place where nobody sings and Dad’s music is not played. Silly girl; there’s no place like that, short of running away to a desert island or something. Sure enough, everywhere Linette turns she finds Dad’s songs and fans, and music. And she is forced to break her vow never to sing again after she loses her money and has to raise some at a talent show with her singing.

More problems come when Linette seeks lodgings. The landlady, Mrs Huggins, turns out to be a dodgy woman. Once Huggins realises Linette is a runaway, she starts blackmailing her into being the hotel skivvy, with no pay. And there is still no escape from Dad’s music when Linette discovers the Gary Davis impersonator that Huggins has hired for a cabaret evening. By the time the embittered Linette has finished with the impersonator, the cabaret evening is ruined and Huggins is furious because it cost her a fortune. In fact, Huggins is so furious that she is going to turn Linette in. But Linette runs off before Huggins finishes the phone call to the police.

Linette is forced to take shelter at a record shop, where she finds there is still no escape from Dad’s music because it is full of Gary Davis merchandise. The record shop owners, Mike and Sue, take her in, and Linette is a bit ashamed when she finds their disabled son loves singing and it brings the family sunshine. At first it’s extremely painful for her to work in the record shop, which sells Gary Davis merchandise, and it’s a hot seller. But to Linette’s surprise, hearing Dad’s music begins to bring comfort. Her experience in the record shop has her realise that he lives on through his songs and will never really gone altogether.

However, Linette still blames the fans for Dad’s death and refuses to go home because of the fan club. Then Linette sees her mother making a televised appeal for her to return. Appalled at how ill her mother looks, Linette returns immediately. She realises it was her conduct that has made her mother ill and is ashamed. Unfortunately she still blames the fans for Dad’s death and can’t accept their staying at her house. She lashes out at Anna over it, which causes her mother to collapse altogether.

In hospital, Mum urges Linette to sing her one of Dad’s songs. Linette can’t bring herself to sing, but does so when Tom tells her to stop being so selfish. A man from a record company overhears Linette singing and asks Linette if she would be interested in a contract, but she refuses. Singing is still off as far as she is concerned. Back home she still snubs the Bruces and the fan club, and even calls in the police when they hold a disco at her house. But the police find they have permission for it. Linette is ashamed when told they were raising money for her father’s favourite charity and begins to soften towards the Bruces a bit.

But Linette still blames the fans. Her hatred flares up again when she discovers that Mum and Tom are now engaged and she is going to have Anna for a stepsister. And when she finds Anna playing Dad’s songs on his piano (reopened with a new key) she yells that she does not want one of the fans who killed her father for a sister. When Mum asks Linette why she can’t accept that the fans did not crush Dad to death, Linette says she knows better than that. And to prove her point, she’s going to see Dad’s doctor about it – he should know.

And the doctor does. In fact, it’s the doctor who finally convinces Linette that Dad was not crushed to death by fans. It was indeed a heart attack, which was already on the way and could have struck at any time. It was just unlucky coincidence that it did so while the fans were crowding Dad.

Linette goes home ashamed and anxious to apologise – but it’s too late. The engagement’s been called off and Tom and Anna have moved out, all because of Linette’s conduct.

To put things right, Linette arranges a surprise that means resuming the singing she had tried to eschew. She then gives Mum, Tom and Anna tickets to a concert at Croxley (yes, where Dad died), where they all hear her sing. Tom and Mum get the message of the lyrics “We’ll always be together, you and I…” and resume the engagement. The records company boss is also there and repeats his offer, which Linette accepts this time. At Mum and Tom’s wedding, Linette does more singing honours and welcomes the cheering fans she used to hate so wrongly.

Thoughts

No sooner had Alison Christie finished one emotional story about a misguided, grief-stricken girl (“I’ll Make Up for Mary”) for Jinty when she started on another, “Nothing to Sing About”, which replaced Mary. The story also reunites the Alison Christie/Phil Townsend team, a combination which has been a long-standing stalwart in Jinty, especially when it comes to emotional stories such as “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and “Stefa’s Heart of Stone”, and would continue well into the merger with Tammy e.g. “A Gran for the Gregorys” and “It’s a Dog’s Life!”. Jinty sure liked to keep Christie cranking out those emotional stories to give her readers a good cry.

Although not as classic or well-remembered as Stefa or Rainbow, Linette’s story is still a strong, solid one. It is also more psychologically complex because it combines two emotional problems to compound Linette’s grief rather than the one problem that Mary and Stefa had. And they both have to be untangled and resolved if Linette is to get past her father’s death and learn to live her life again.

The first is Linette shutting all music and singing out of her life because she finds it too painful in the wake of her father’s death. This is not unlike how Stefa tries to shut all love out of her life in the wake of her friend’s death. This alone is enough to carry Stefa’s story.

But in Linette’s case there is a second problem that carries the story even more intensely  – the hatred that has consumed her because she blames the fans for Dad’s death. Her hatred is making the grieving over Dad’s death even worse, not only for her but also for everyone around her. And to make it worse, she is quite wrong to do so, but she won’t accept that.

Irrational hatreds that stem from wrongly blaming someone/something for a loved one’s death are a common feature in Alison Christie’s Jinty stories. More often, though, it is on the part of the antagonist of the story and the protagonist suffers because of it. Examples where this has occurred include “The Four-Footed Friends” and “Cursed To Be a Coward!”. But here Christie takes a more atypical step of having the protagonist carry this hatred. And by insisting on believing it was the fans when Mum pleads it was a medical condition, Linette does not understand that she is making things even worse for herself and hurting everyone around her even more, or that she is dishonouring her father’s memory by lashing out at his fans. Nor does she realise that she is the architect of her own misfortunes, such allowing her irrationalities to have her run off and getting into all sorts of scrapes, including being blackmailed and exploited by Mrs Huggins.

It does make a change to have the voice of authority (the doctor) being the one to bring the misguided, aggrieved girl/woman to her senses instead of the more usual shock treatment, such as their conduct causing an accident or something. Readers might have expected Linette’s time on the run to provide the cure, but it doesn’t, which makes another change. Though Linette finds running off is no escape from Dad’s music, it does not sink in that his music is impossible to run from or be silenced. In fact, there would have been a swelling of popularity of Dad’s singing in the wake of his death, but Linette does not realise that either. Nor does seeing her mother ill really make Linette see reason, though she realises she is responsible for it because of the way she is behaving. Once she does see reason and the damage she has caused, she is forced to go back to the singing she had tried to erase from her life. And in so doing she learns to appreciate singing all over again, become much happier by letting go of her pain, and honour her father by following in his footsteps.

The Valley of Shining Mist (1975)

Sample Images

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Published: 31 May 1975 – 1 November 1975 (23 episodes)

Artist: Carlos Freixas

Writer: Alan Davidson

Translations / reprints: Het dal van de glanzende nevel (The Valley of the Shining Mist) in Tina 1977)

Plot

At the Cornish village of Armfield, Debbie Lane has lived with her aunt, uncle and cousin Elaine ever since her parents died. The upbringing she has received from them has been a terrible one. They are cruel relatives who abuse Debbie while teaching her to steal. Debbie also has a stammer and never spoken a full sentence in her life. As a result, everyone at school bullies her and calls her “Dumbie Debbie” and “stupid”. As she can’t talk back to the bullies because of her stammer, all she can do is lash out at them. Nobody cares for her at all or steps in against the bullies or the abusive relatives, although the teachers do notice it. Everyone compares her to a wild animal, and that’s just about what her behaviour has been reduced to because of the terrible life she leads.

On the upside, when Debbie passes the village antique shop she takes a moment to play a violin there, and the dealer says she has a genius for it. But what’s the use when she can’t get the violin or lessons? She also takes solace by finding solitude in the nearby valley, though it is dangerous from old mine workings.

One day Debbie lashes out at the Lanes and runs off when they are about to punish her for stealing food from a grocer. That’s pretty hypocritical of them, since they are the ones who teach her to steal. Moreover, they also drove her to steal the food in the first place by not leaving her anything to eat.

For the first time, Debbie heads for the valley while it is full of mist. She figures she will be safe there because everyone is scared to approach the valley when it is full of mist. When Debbie enters the mist, she is astonished to find an idyllic, shining fantasy world under it. And the valley farmhouse, which was in ruins before, is now intact and there is a woman there. Her name is Mrs Maynard, and there is something familiar about her that Debbie can’t place (clearly, a thread to be tied up later). She is the first to treat Debbie kindly and her home is everything Debbie has dreamed of: love, comfort, lots of food, and a violin she plays. Debbie is astonished to find that she is speaking proper sentences now and realises it is because she feels so relaxed in this loving, heavenly atmosphere and nobody is cruel to her. Mrs Maynard encourages Debbie’s gift for the violin, but when Debbie asks if Mrs Maynard can teach her, Mrs Maynard says that’s up to Debbie.

As Debbie leaves Mrs Maynard she steals a silver hairbrush with which to buy the violin she saw at the antique shop. But there is a strange, sad look on Mrs Maynard’s face as she watches Debbie go, and the text says it is as if Mrs Maynard knows what Debbie has done. Once Debbie is out of the valley, it returns to its normal state, with no trace of Mrs Maynard or the mist.

Debbie uses the hairbrush to obtain the violin, but can’t get far with it without proper lessons. When the violin attracts the attention of her cruel uncle, she tries to flee to the Valley of Shining Mist. But the mist rejects her, and she knows it is because of her theft. So she returns the violin to the shop, confesses the theft, and gets the hairbrush back. However, spiteful Elaine throws the hairbrush into the dangerous mine workings. This means Debbie has to risk her life to get the hairbrush out. However, she finds she does not mind the danger, even though she gets hurt, because she feels it is purging her of her sin in stealing the hairbrush.

This time the Valley of Shining Mist opens up for Debbie. She returns the brush, apologises, and promises Mrs Maynard that she will stop stealing. Mrs Maynard then gives Debbie her own violin. Later, when Debbie asks Mrs Maynard about her origins, she is vague, saying that perhaps she does not exist except in Debbie’s imagination, and only when Debbie wants it. As for why she seems so familiar to Debbie for some reason, she says that one day she will understand, but only if Debbie does everything she asks and becomes the great violinist she wants her to be.

Over time Debbie’s cruel family increasingly suspect she is up to something because of the objects she brings back from the Valley of Shining Mist, such as the hairbrush and the violin. Elaine soon realises it has something to do with the valley, but she just gets sucked down in bog when she tries to follow Debbie into the mist. Eventually the family force it out of Debbie, but of course they don’t believe a crazy story like that.

Debbie finds that if she is to continue to return to the Valley of Shining Mist and receive more violin lessons she must pass a series of tests Mrs Maynard sets for her. As the tests unfold, it becomes apparent that they are designed to bring out Debbie’s inner strengths, build her confidence, and shed the negative traits Debbie has developed from her abusive upbringing.

The first is to obtain a mug, which turns out to be the prize in a poetry reading competition – so Debbie is challenged to overcome her stuttering. The village is buzzing with astonishment and scorn when word spreads about “Dumbie Debbie” entering the poetry competition, and everyone turns up just to see how “Dumbie Debbie” fares. With the help of a strange vision from Mrs Maynard, Debbie manages to recite two lines of her poem without a stutter, but she is too overwrought to continue. The winner is so impressed that she insists Debbie receive the mug instead for her courage. Debbie also has to run the gauntlet with Elaine, who tries to take the mug from her, before she brings it to Mrs Maynard. In the Valley of Shining Mist, she makes tremendous strides with her violin under Mrs Maynard’s tuition. Mrs Maynard also suggests a shed where Debbie can practise in secret from her cruel family.

The next test is to obtain a brooch from Tracey Stocks – but that’s the girl who bullies Debbie the most at school! Then Tracey herself catches Debbie while she’s practising in the shed and starts bullying her over it. When Tracey snatches the violin, Debbie is pushed too far. She lunges at Tracey and during the fight the brooch comes off. Debbie takes the brooch while Tracey is in tears over losing it. Later, Debbie realises that taking the brooch like that had broken her promise to Mrs Maynard never to steal again. So she goes to the Stocks’s house to return it and is in for a surprise – Tracey’s home is as bad and abusive as hers! So they are two of a kind. Tracey is so impressed with Debbie’s kindness after all that bullying that she lets her keep the brooch to make things up to her. Tracey says she will be Debbie’s friend from now on, make sure the bullying stops (next day, Debbie finds it has), and Debbie can use her gang hut to practise.

Tracey is also very surprised to hear Debbie suddenly speaking almost proper sentences. The Lane family are noticing this and other changes in Debbie. Elaine begins to wonder if there is something in her story about “the valley of shining mist”, and wants to crush it.

Debbie’s third test is to enter a talent contest to demonstrate her violin ability in public, with a £100 prize for the winner. Mrs Maynard trains her up for it and gives her an envelope containing instructions. But Elaine has entered the contest too, so her spite towards Debbie is worse than usual. She throws Debbie’s violin down a hillside. By the time Debbie has retrieved it, her best dress has been ripped by brambles and her hands stung and blistered by nettles. This gets her off to a bad start when she finally arrives at the talent contest, but the miraculous strength she gets from visions of Mrs Maynard gets her through to victory.

Debbie treats herself to a spending spree with the prize money. Her family suddenly go all nice to her. She is completely taken in by their phoney kindness, and she does not realise they are just conning her into spending some of the money on them. But she forgot the sealed envelope, and by the time she opens it, she realised she should have taken the money to Mrs Maynard instead of spending it. Elaine sees the note and says Mrs Maynard is conning and exploiting her, which plants seeds of doubt about Mrs Maynard in Debbie’s mind.

Debbie returns the things she bought to recoup the money she spent. The Lanes continue to string her along because they are hoping to make money out of her talent, and they recruit a sleazy agent, Arthur Swain, for the job. Debbie is tempted by the money and fame Swain promises her and almost signs his contract. But in the nick of time she thinks the right things about Mrs Maynard and realises Swain is a nasty man. She leaves the contract unsigned and heads to Mrs Maynard with the money. Mrs Maynard said it was a test to see if Debbie could resist the temptation of money, and she shows what she thinks of those ideas of taking advantage of Debbie by burning the money.

Mrs Maynard then gives Debbie the last payment: bring Swain’s contract to her, all torn up, to show she will never sign it. However, the Lanes trick Debbie into signing it by having Elaine fake illness and saying they need Swain’s money for Elaine’s treatment. Debbie realises too late they have been fooling her and are as bad as ever. She runs off and her uncle gives chase. He forces her to retreat into the misty valley. Debbie is surprised to find herself in the Valley of Shining Mist after failing the last test. But no – she had passed it by signing the contract. It was really a test of selflessness and self-sacrifice. And the contract cannot be enforced against Debbie because she is a minor.

Mrs Maynard now says goodbye. She and the Valley of Shining Mist all dissolve in front of Debbie’s eyes and the valley goes back to its normal state. But in the village, Debbie is surprised to see Mrs Maynard get out of a car!

Er, it’s not quite Mrs Maynard. It’s Mrs Maynell, Debbie’s aunt, whom she had only seen once as a small child. She missed out on claiming Debbie when her parents died because she was out of the country at the time. She came to look for Debbie after getting a lead from a newspaper report about Debbie winning the talent contest. She shows Debbie a photograph of her house, and Debbie realises it looks exactly like Mrs Maynard’s home in the Valley of Shining Mist. Mrs Maynell has a stronger claim on Debbie than the Lanes do, and Debbie is only too happy to leave them and go with her. Mrs Maynell is a concert violinist and will encourage Debbie’s talent. When Debbie talks to Mrs Maynell, there is no trace of a stammer.

The Lanes just say “good riddance to her!” As Debbie and Mrs Maynell leave Armfield, Debbie requests one last stop at the valley. She deduces the Valley of Shining Mist was created out of her own imagination and subconscious memories of her one stay at her aunt’s. All those tests from Mrs Maynard were created by Debbie herself to rise above her abusive upbringing and the “wild animal” traits she had developed from it. She now says goodbye to the valley, but will always remember it when she plays her violin.

Thoughts

“The Valley of Shining Mist” was one of Jinty’s most popular and enduring stories and is fondly remembered in Jinty discussions. It has its roots in the “Cinderella” story, but it certainly is not your average Cinderella story. It is a Cinderella story that features one of the most intense, extraordinary, and emotional journeys in character development ever seen in girls’ comics.

Here the heroine is so emotionally and psychologically damaged by the abuse that she is likened to a wild animal. Mrs Maynard herself says a wild animal was what Debbie pretty much was when she first came to the Valley of Shining Mist. Nowhere is Debbie’s lack of self-esteem more evident than in her stammer. This must have struck a chord with readers who had stammers themselves. One even wrote in to Jinty’s problem page saying that she had a stammer just like Debbie.

So our heroine is set to not only rise above the abuse at home and bullying at school but also to overcome the psychological problems from it and find her true self: the violin genius. But Debbie is so damaged that she needs to do a whole lot more than develop her musical genius if she is to rise above the terrible life she leads.

This is precisely what Debbie gets in the Valley of Shining Mist (the fairy-tale land) and Mrs Maynard (the fairy godmother), both of which tie in appropriately with the Cinderella theme. But the fairy godmother does not help simply by giving Debbie gifts. She also helps Debbie to find her true self with a series of trials. Several of which seem unreasonable, bizarre and even impossible, but there always turns out to be a reason for them that does Debbie’s character development tremendous good. As Debbie progresses through the tests we see her strengths developing and her bad traits disappearing. The “wild animal” traits are being progressively shed and a more confident, compassionate and talented girl is developing. As Debbie’s character develops and strengthens everyone notices it, Debbie herself feels it, and it is reflected in her stammer, which gradually disappears after the first test. It is far more realistic to have the stammer disappear in stages, through each trial, rather than all at once.

One of the finest moments in the story is when Debbie discovers why Tracey Stocks is such a bully. It’s because she has an unhappy home life; in fact, she even has to sleep in the shed because there’s no room in the house. There’s no love for Tracey either; the only one who was ever nice to her was her late Aunt Betty, who gave her the brooch. The brooch meant everything to Tracey for that reason, so we realise it is a tremendous leap in Tracey’s own character development and redemption when she gives Debbie her beloved brooch because Debbie was the second person to be nice to her. Tracey Stocks would be worthy of a serial in her own right, and we wish she could find the Valley of Shining Mist too.

The explanation on how the Valley of Shining Mist worked at the end is the weakest part of the story. If Debbie had created the valley and tests out of her own imagination and subconscious memories of her aunt’s home, then where did the hairbrush, violin and envelope with the talent contest instructions come from? How did Mrs Maynard manage to give Debbie violin lessons? What happened to Tracey’s brooch and the £100 that Debbie took to Mrs Maynard? It would have been more convincing to have a more supernatural explanation, and preferably one that ties in with why the locals get so scared of the valley when it is full of mist – something that was never explained. Still, we can’t be certain that Debbie’s deductions about the Valley of Shining Mist were entirely correct. There may have been some supernatural force in the valley that she was not aware of. It certainly would tie in with the Cinderella theme beautifully.

Jinty & Penny 27 June 1981

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  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Food for Fagin (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Friends in Need – text story (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • The Broomstick Gymnast – Gypsy Rose (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Horses Around the World
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy)
  • Worlds Apart (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Dracula’s Daughter (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Beautiful Jars – Feature

This is one of the few issues where Phil Gascoine’s art does not appear. Neither does Phil Townsend’s. They’re both between stories for the moment, but of course it won’t be long before they’re back.

Pam’s having one of her crazes, and this time it’s really ambitious. She wants a piano! But there are some things Pam has not considered – like there being no room for a piano at home. Eventually she settles for trying out the tuba instead. Will it work out?

This week’s text story is a period story, which is set in Victorian times. Two waifs are trying to get to the country, away from the workhouse. Along the way they meet some very unlikely help – from the very top!

Olivia’s doing her best to raise the money for the dog food to keep ahead of Fagin’s bottomless belly. Unfortunately Fagin and his gargantuan appetite keep messing up every opportunity Olivia finds to fill that tum of his.

It’s another recycled Strange Story this week. A modern gymnast finds herself time travelling back to Puritan times to save a girl who’s been accused of witchcraft, just because she tried out some gymnastics.

Sir Roger’s had enough of bossyboots Gaye and brews a potion to make her his slave. Gaye discovers the trick and decides to play along so as to get her own back.

Pity they couldn’t have a potion like that for Mr Graves, who is continuing with ruthless, overbearing strong arm measures to turn Castlegate into an old-style grammar school as quickly as possible. He’s even barging into classes to force his ideas on teaching pupils upon the teachers.

Tansy wants to participate in a parade for preserving the quality of the environment. She ends up leading the parade with a majorette’s baton, but is crimson with embarrassment to be leading a marching band that is campaigning for noise abatement!

In “Worlds Apart” the girls are now in dream world number three, which is Samantha’s world. Samantha is Sleeping Beauty and her world is a fairy tale world that has to indulge her vanity and lust for power. And if it’s happily ever after for Samantha, the other girls will be stuck in her dream world for life.

In “Angela’s Angels” Sharon’s helping Susannah with her boutique. It ends up doing well, but there are a few mishaps – including making Sharon and Susannah late for duty. Can they get out of this spot?

Face the Music, Flo! (1975)

Sample Images

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Published: 19 April 1975 – 30 August 1975 (20 episodes)

Artist: Jim Baikie

Translations/reprints: None known

Plot

Twins Greg and Flo Carroll have looked after each other since their parents died (from Dad’s reckless driving). Trouble is, Flo acts like Greg’s mother when it comes to running his life. She keeps telling him to carry on with his plumbing course at the technical college, as it will guarantee a job for life. But Greg clearly does not like plumbing (just whose idea was it to pursue it in the first place?). His heart is in showbiz and he wants to pursue a career in pop music. Flo doesn’t approve of this because their late father’s showbiz career was a disaster and drove the family into debt. So before Mum died, she made Flo promise to see to it that Greg pursued a career that guaranteed more job security than showbiz.

Nonetheless, pop music is what Greg begins to pursue, and he is soon on the rise as a pop star. Flo still does not approve and this begins to drive a wedge between the twins. Flo does not like this change in their relationship either, as she and Greg have always been close; but as Greg’s career develops, he begins to drift apart from Flo. He also neglects his plumbing studies and eventually leaves the course. This horrifies Flo as she believes Greg is throwing away a steady job for the sake of an uncertain dream. Moreover, Greg’s manager Vince Telfer has a very sleazy look about him. Telfer encourages Greg to pursue his music career and he takes an active hand in widening the gulf between Flo and Greg.

Still, as far as Greg is concerned, his career is everything his father’s was not – success, fame, loads of money, and gifts he proceeds to shower Flo with. So why can’t Flo get past the tragedy of her father’s failed showbiz career? He is living proof that just because Dad’s career was a flop, it doesn’t mean his own will be. He (rightly) warns Flo that if she carries on being so difficult about his new career they will end up hating each other. However, Flo still thinks it is not the right path for Greg and also feels she failed Mum and the promise she made to her. So the gulf widens even more. And wider still when Flo cleans Greg’s guitar. She accidentally messes up the controls, which turns Greg’s performance into a disaster. When Greg finds out what happened, he thinks Flo did it on purpose because of her attitude, and walks out on her altogether. Telfer keeps feeding this false assumption of Greg’s for all it’s worth: “She’ll do anything to wreck your career, Greg – you know that!” And Greg won’t listen to Flo when she says it was unintentional.

Flo decides the only way to get anywhere near Greg is to disguise herself as one of the fans who keep mobbing him at every turn. She wins a prize draw to an evening with Greg. Telfer sees through Flo’s disguise and causes more trouble for her right in front of the press. Greg really is poisoned against Flo after this, which is all part of Telfer’s ploy to stop Flo getting Greg out of his clutches. Flo soon finds out why Telfer wants to turn Greg against her – Telfer has been fleecing Greg (yes, we thought he looked sleazy!). Telfer is now out to pocket 80% of Greg’s fee on his upcoming provincial tour. However, Flo can’t convince Greg of this and he goes off on his tour.

However, Flo follows him secretly. This means renting a shabby flat and taking a job as a waitress at the gig Greg is playing at. But Flo gets discovered, which causes intense embarrassment for Greg and turns the audience against him. Telfer, of course, takes advantage to widen the rift between the twins and says Flo did that on purpose too. Flo gets sacked and also hurt her wrist during the incident. The only one who notices her injury is Pip, Greg’s kind-hearted drummer. Pip takes Flo to hospital for treatment, and the doctor asks if Greg could perform a charity concert in the children’s ward.

Unfortunately Flo thinks the answer will be no because she is under the impression success is making Greg hard and selfish. A misunderstanding where she thinks Greg has turned down the doctor’s request cements that view. So she impersonates Greg to throw a concert for the kids. However, the press find her and take photos for “Big-Hearted Pop Star Entertains Sick Kids” story. Flo dreads Greg’s reaction when he reads the story, but it has surprising ramifications: a television producer was so impressed that he wants to do a television programme with Greg. Flo and Greg also clear up their misunderstanding, but disaster strikes when the TV producer sees the shabby digs Flo is renting and thinks Greg is to blame.

Now Greg has seen how Flo is living he puts her in more posh accommodation. He also spruces her up in luxury, saying that as a sister of a pop star she must have the look for it. But Flo soon finds the high life isn’t as fulfilling as it first seemed and wants to go back to being useful. Unfortunately this leads to a series of mishaps that widen the gulf between her and Greg again. First, Flo finds a sick maid and she offers to finish her duties for her. When Greg and the TV producer find Flo at it, it’s another embarrassment. And then there’s another embarrassment when Greg acts as judge at a fete but Flo gets horribly messed up from cleaning up a dog. When Greg and his high-rise friends come to Flo’s suite with caviar and champagne, he is really shown up when he finds Flo enjoying kippers and cocoa with Uncle Eddie and Aunt Mabel: “Why can’t you be a credit to me, instead of slumming with a couple of old deadbeats you picked up off the street?”

Uncle Eddie and Aunt Mabel agree with Flo that success is changing Greg for the worse. Then Flo finds Greg has left flowers on their parents’ graves and the twins start hugging each other. She wonders if she has judged him too harshly, but then thinks it was all a publicity stunt when the press photograph them (it was, but Telfer arranged it behind Greg’s back). After this, Flo heads back to their old home in London. She bumps into Greg again at one his open-air concerts and they proceed to make up. But Telfer does his best to come between them again – and so do mobs of fans. Flo is also feeling neglected because Greg’s getting too busy with his pop career to devote any time to her and the only place she can see him these days is on television.

Then Flo realises Telfer is driving Greg too hard and he’s beginning to fall ill from exhaustion. When she and Pip try to speak to Telfer, he sacks Pip and throws them both out. Undaunted, they smuggle Greg out in a drum and take him on holiday. While on holiday, Greg takes delight in throwing concerts for the villager. Flo has come to realise that Greg has show business in his blood.

But then Telfer comes along with a bombshell – Greg’s holiday has caused him to miss an opportunity for an American tour! Following this, Flo decides to just let Greg pursue his pop career and goes back to her old life. Six months pass without even seeing Greg, but painful reminders of him are everywhere. Greg sends Flo regular cheques, which she puts into the bank. While at the bank, Pip and a bunch of would-be pop musicians put on a performance. They hope the bank manager will back them for their road musical, which he does not.

Now it’s Flo’s birthday and she hopes Greg will make the effort to come and celebrate it. But all he does is send her flowers, as he can’t make the time to come. Then Flo finds out Greg is off on an American tour, so now he will be even more distanced from her. She is so upset she stumbles into the road and gets hit by a truck.

Flo’s condition is critical and she needs Greg urgently. Greg has a horrible sense of foreboding and feels he should check on Flo. However, Telfer does not want Greg to find out about Flo’s accident as he wants him on the plane for his American tour. Pip rushes to the airport to inform Greg, but Telfer locks him up. By the time Pip gets out, the plane is flying. In hospital, Flo senses Greg departing and her condition worsens.

Then the plane suddenly returns to the airport because of mechanical problems. This time Pip manages to tell Greg about Flo’s accident and how Telfer tried to stop him finding out. Greg goes to the hospital, and tells Telfer to shove it when he tries to get him back on the plane or lose the American contract. Greg’s arrival turns Flo around, and Greg says the shock has opened his eyes to what his true priorities in life are. So when Telfer arrives, Greg angrily breaks contract with him (which has Telfer pocket all of Greg’s money) and ends his pop career. Greg turns to a new line in showbiz – getting Pip’s show on the road. They have no money because of Telfer, but Flo can finance them with the money Greg sent her before. The show is a huge success and makes Flo and Greg joint stars.

Thoughts

This story starts with a premise that is so familiar in girls’ comics, except that it is turned on its head and given a whole new take. The protagonist is frustrated in pursuing her (or in this case his) choice of career by interfering relatives because they got burned by some family tragedy associated with it. The protagonist gets pushed down a career path of the relative’s choice, and the relative cannot accept that the protagonist does not want it and may not have the aptitude for it either. Examples in Jinty include “The Goose Girl”, where Glenda Noble’s mother keeps pushing her into fashion design instead of the ornithology where Glenda’s heart really lies.

But instead of a parent/guardian pushing a daughter in this way it’s a sister pushing her brother. It’s a bit unclear as to just how Greg came to study plumbing, for it does not look like he would choose it himself. It is a bit hard to believe that Flo would be able to press him into taking up plumbing, though she could have. The parents have been dead for several years, so there could not have been any pressure from them either. Perhaps Greg just took the course to please his sister. However it happened, Flo carries on Greg’s mother in the way she keeps pushing him to be a plumber because in her view it would guarantee a good, steady job while showbiz is too uncertain for that. She does not stop to think whether it is something Greg really wants or would be happy doing. One has to applaud Greg when he decides, in effect “screw you – I’m going to pursue a career in showbiz, whether you like it or not!” – and follows his heart into showbiz.

Flo’s bad reaction to this and difficulty in accepting it means she must take at least some of the blame for the widening rift with her brother. If she had been more respectful of her brother’s feelings it would have made things far easier for them both. Eventually Flo does come to accept that showbiz, however much trouble it caused for the family in the past, is in her brother’s blood. But she can’t accept this at first and is too badly prejudiced by the bad legacy of their father’s failed showbiz career to agree with Greg pursuing it. It is ironic that Flo ends up going full circle from disapproving of a showbiz career to sharing it with Greg at the end of the story.

Flo’s doubts about whether the pop career will bring Greg true happiness prove to be more prophetic than her disapproval about him pursuing showbiz. This is particular so considering the type of manager Greg has ended up with. Vince Telfer is a greedy, crooked and ruthless man who clearly took advantage of Greg’s greenness in signing him up. Greg can’t see that Telfer is just using him as a means to line his own pockets by hook or by crook and he does not care about his wellbeing one bit. Even when Telfer starts driving Greg so hard that he is on the brink of collapse, Greg does not wake up. It takes a horrible shock to make Greg see Telfer for what he is. Sadly, it looks like Telfer gets away with all that fleecing he did on Greg. He even pockets all of Greg’s money after he breaks contract. Clearly, Greg overlooked some fine print that shifty Telfer inserted about breach of contract.

Even without Telfer’s cheating, Greg’s pop career soon takes a course that proves Flo right – it is not bringing him happiness. As Greg’s pop career progresses the story shifts towards “the price of fame” premise where fame, success and fortune come at the cost of family and personal life. Flo feels increasingly isolated and distanced from the twin brother she was once so close to and feels neglected. Greg also discovers the pitfalls of being a pop star, such as becoming public property, being constantly hounded by fans, and having no time for family (or himself, probably). Eventually he decides a career that makes him turn his back on his family is the wrong one, but he takes a long time to realise it and it takes a shock to do the trick. Greg is too blinded by his success and the bad influence of his dodgy manager, who pulls every trick he can to keep Greg under his thumb and line his pockets. Fame is clearly having a bad effect on Greg. It never goes completely to Greg’s head and he becomes conceited or unbearable. But he is showing signs of snobbery and selfishness and losing sight of the warm-heartedness he used to have. By contrast, once Flo has a taste of Greg’s high life she does not like it; she wants a down-to-earth life where she helps people.

The story is also unusual for giving male protagonists more attention. Usually, boys were kept on the periphery in girls’ comics during the 1960s–1970s. There is Greg, of course, but there is also Pip the drummer. Pip is a humble, kind, good-natured boy whose own pursuit of showbiz is an uplifting and delightful contrast to the glamour and glitz of Greg’s pop career that comes at the price of happiness. Pip is also a tremendous help to both Flo and Greg in getting through their difficulties with Telfer and Greg’s pop career until they break free of it and start working together on their own gig. Had this story appeared in the late 1980s we have a strong suspicion Pip and Flo would have started dating. However, this was still not allowed in girls’ comics at the time of publication.