Tag Archives: Nina Nimble Fingers

Roy Newby (1912-2011)

Roy Newby is thought to have drawn only only a few stories in Jinty, but he was certainly a long-running artist in other girls’ comics titles, particularly Girl, where he drew “Robbie of Red Hall” for many years. I do not yet have a fuller comic bibliography to list in this post, but on the UK Comics Forum, mention is also made of a story in the second Girl Annual which is specifically credited to him as artist: “Late For Dancing”, written by George Beardmore. Additionally, comics newssite Down The Tubes states that Newby worked on stories that appeared in other titles such as Tammy, Poppet, Judy, and Valentine.

Newby died relatively recently, having lived to the age of 98; the obituary in the Guardian, written by his son Mike, can be seen here. Mike Newby has likewise created a dedicated site showing his work (though not including many examples of comics, unfortunately for us). Finally, the Lambiek Comiclopedia has a little more on him here.

List of stories attributable to Roy Newby in Jinty:

Stories in Tammy:

  • The Secret Ballerina (1971-72)
  • Tina on a Tightrope (1972)
  • Minions of the Mine (1972)

Stories in Lindy attributable to him:

  • Nina Nimble Fingers (1975)
  • Poor Law Polly (1975)

Stories in Girl: many, including:

  • Robbie of Red Hall
  • Late for Dancing

When researching this post, I got in contact with Mike Newby and his sister Clare, who shared some memories with me. Mike told me that “…Dad’s original artwork for his comics was destroyed by the publishers as soon as they’d done the necessary for a print-run. (What a shame!) But Dad kept pretty much everything in printed form. He’d go and buy that week’s edition of whatever comic he’d drawn and stick it in a scrapbook.”.

Clare told me more details of her father’s time as a comics creator and her time as a reader of comics: “Through the late 50s and 60s, Friday afternoon was comic day! After school, I got School Friend, Girl’s Crystal and one other; Jackie/Tammy/or whatever.  I saw Dad’s stuff free! Whenever I was ill in bed, I used to look at the scrapbooks of mostly Girl. Dad said he preferred girls papers as they didn’t have as many technical, fiddly buttons and switches (spaceships) as boys. Also, he used to get any scripts set in dancing schools as he could use me for reference (I studied ballet which I went on to do professionally). He particularly liked historical costume stories.  As I got older, he worked on Valentine and Roxy. I was about 13 and wasn’t allowed to read them, so I would sneak into his studio when he was out and read about teen life. I put everything back and thought I’d got away with it, but he told me years later, he always knew!”

Courtesy of Clare Newby, here are two images of her father’s work – a photograph of some of the scrapbook pages, and a beautiful little sketch of herself reading them in bed, when ill at one time. Many thanks indeed to her for sending those in!

Lindy # 2, 28 June 1975

Lindy cover

  • Pavement Patsy (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The Tin-Mine Ponies (artist Manuel Cuyàs)
  • Nina Nimble Fingers (artist Roy Newby)
  • Jane’s Jeannie
  • David Essex pinup (missing from my copy)
  • Sophie’s Secret Squeezy (artist José Casanovas)
  • The Last Green Valley
  • Penny Crayon
  • The House of Fear (artist Tom Hurst)
  • Hard Days for Hilda (artist Dudley Wynne; writer Terence Magee)
  • Pop Spot (feature)

Lindy was the first comic to merge with Jinty. But how did she start off originally? What was in her first lineup? I do not have the first issue, but I do have the second, which came with a bottle of perfume as its free gift. Lindy’s favourite perfume, apparently. I wonder what scent that was?

I suspect my copy is lacking a couple of pages (at the “Jane’s Jeannie” section), most likely because someone took out the David Essex pinup, so it is possible that the lineup I have listed here is not quite complete. If someone could clarify this with a complete copy, please leave a comment below.

New IPC titles of the 70’s started off with a Cinderella story and a  slave story in their first lineups, and Lindy is no exception. The Cinderella story is “Pavement Patsy”, where Patsy Logan puts up with her horrible aunt and uncle so she can stay together with her little sister Jenny. She is their drudge and obliged to go on on her uncle’s coal round. The aunt and uncle are as mean as Scrooge too; in this episode Patsy asks her aunt for money to buy a new pair of shoes for Jenny, but all the aunt will cough up for it is five pence for something at a jumble sale, which results in shoes that don’t fit properly. There is usually some hobby or passion that provides solace; in Patsy’s case it is pavement art, and words of praise from a tramp encourage her to believe that her art is going to be more than just a hobby. But you can be sure the horrible guardians are going to get in the way.

The slave story is “Nina Nimble Fingers” (reprinted in Jinty Holiday Special 1981). The slaving is set in a Victorian dress shop, where Nina Sinclair and her sickly younger sister Clare have ended up as apprentices after their mother’s death. We are into part two, and Madam Estelle, the owner of the shop, has now established to the Sinclair sisters just what a hard, cruel woman she is to work for. She even takes off money that Nina has earned for herself and badly needs in order to get medical treatment for her sister. But it also establishes the to-be-expected determination of the heroine not to give in to such cruelty and ultimately rise above it. Supernatural stories are part of the parcel as well, of course.  In this case they are “Sophie’s Secret Squeezy” and “Jane’s Jeannie”. Jeannie is the more lightweight one, played for humour. Jane makes friends with a genie called Jeannie. But instead of a bottle, Jeannie pops out of a tennis racquet! That sure makes a change. Sophie has been down on her luck until she acquires a squeezy bottle and now feels different about herself. Every time she makes bubbles, she sees visions in them that help her immensely. In this episode she is framed for stealing, but the squeezy bottle shows her who and why; it was a girl who was embittered because her mother will not allow her to join the hockey team. How will the squeezy help her to sort out the problem, and in a way that helps the girl? Presumably the story lasted until the squeezy bottle ran out.

A scary story is always popular, and so Lindy has “The House of Fear”. Harriet has gone to stay at her aunt’s and the only residents are the servants who are trying to scare her off with claims of hauntings. As if they need to fake ghosts – the butler looks like Frankenstein’s monster or Lurch from the Addams Family. And by the end of the episode, Harriet suspects they are holding her aunt prisoner in the cellar. But I wonder if Lindy is tipping her hand way too soon with this one – it’s only the second episode and already Harriet is convinced the servants are trying to scare her off. Shouldn’t the story be allowed to develop more before she begins to suspect them of that?

“Hard Days for Hilda” is a maidservant story, but set in the 1930s rather than the more usual Victorian times. Hilda Hobbs takes the lowest maidservant job at The Grand Hotel (makes a change from aristocratic residences like Molly Mills’ Stanton Hall) though she doesn’t let it get her down and remains chirpy. But in the second episode she finds her days getting harder when she finds the other maidservants are spiteful and play tricks to get her into trouble, and there is the typical bullying from senior staff. But there is always one servant who is friendly and Hilda finds him in this episode as well – Willie the Buttons Boy. I have found on UK Comics Wiki that it was written by Terence Magee, a stalwart at writing stories about tortured heroines at all sorts of cruel institutions ranging from schools to reformatories, including Jinty’s own “Merry at Misery House“.

In “The Last Green Valley”, Lindy seemed to anticipate Jinty in featuring environmental stories. The environmental issue in this case is Britain being plunged into an ice age, and our band of survivors are making their way to “the green valley”, an oasis that is supposed to have escaped the ice age.

Finally, there are “The Tin-Mine Ponies”, where the snobby Mrs Gore-Bradley threatens the rehoming of ponies at a pony trek centre because she wants to keep the countryside to herself. She is outsmarted in this episode but is still determined to get rid of “those ghastly ponies”, and it won’t be for lack of trying. Hilda and Patsy were the longest-running stories from the first Lindy lineup; Patsy finished in #18 and Hilda in #19. This indicates they were popular while they lasted, perhaps among the most popular.

In summary, it can be said that Lindy got off to a promising start, with Norman Worker at the editor’s helm. Lindy’s stories were filled with the ingredients (hardship, cruelty, humour, supernatural, friendship) that made the early Tammy and Jinty popular. There were even some surprising takes on established formulas, such as the genie who popped out of a tennis racquet. However, her lineup lacked humorous regular characters (a la Tansy of Jubilee Street or The Jinx from St Jonah’s); the only character in that area was the Penny Crayon cartoon, which made her the only Lindy character to carry on in the merger. She also lacked regular characters in general, a deficiency that is always means a girls’ comic fades fast once it goes into a merger, because it is the regulars and cartoon strips that carry on in a merger. So although Lindy’s first lineup showed potential, it exhibited deficiencies that would be telling once she merged with Jinty. Had she lasted longer, the deficiencies could have been addressed, more regular characters introduced, more serials that could still be well-remembered, and Lindy herself remembered more. Instead, she was short-lived (only 20 issues), even by the standards of short-lived girls’ comics, and is largely forgotten.

Jinty Holiday Special 1981

JInty cover

Cover: Mario Capaldi

  • Alley Cat
  • The First Class Mag (Pond Hill feature)
  • The Bracelet of Love – Gypsy Rose story (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Your Holiday Calculator (quiz)
  • Wot’s Wot (feature)
  • Take an Old Bath Towel…
  • Nina Nimble Fingers (artist Roy Newby)
  • The Invaders (text story)
  • They Always Know – Gypsy Rose story (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Puzzle Time
  • A Clock for all Seasons! (feature)
  • Puzzle Time
  • Make a Model Theatre (feature)
  • Which Holiday Title Could You Win? (quiz)
  • Puzzle Time
  • Have a Wild Holiday (feature)
  • Jinty Way (feature)
  • Wot’s Wot (feature)
  • Shells ‘n’ Stones (feature)
  • The Flight of Fancy! (text story)
  • When Things Go “Bang” in the Night… – Gypsy Rose Story
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)

The Jinty holiday special for 1981 has one very unusual Pond Hill feature – the First Class Mag. This is a magazine that the First Years of Pond Hill have produced by themselves, for themselves. It is different from the regular Pond Hill newspaper, The Pond Hill Printout. The First Class Mag is reproduced below. We get some insights into Pond Hill that we don’t normally find in the regular strip! It also makes references to the 1980 trip to France, which they almost missed out on because of Diana’s jealous sister holding them up. And it looks like Fred and Terry will never hear the end of their getting sick on the ferry while it was crossing the Channel. At least there is no mention of their getting arrested by the gendarmes when they pick up a runaway boy who is thought to be kidnapped. The First Class Mag is definitely the highlight of the special.

(Click thru)

Mag 1Mag 2Mag 3

Mag 4Mag 5Mag 6

 

The holiday special also reprints “Nina Nimble Fingers”, one of the first stories from Lindy, a short-lived comic that merged with Jinty in 1975. Perhaps it is a bit disappointing that Jinty chose not to reprint one of her old strips instead. On the other hand, it is nice to recapture some of the short-lived and long-forgotten Lindy, and Nina can be considered one of her stronger stories. Nina Sinclair and her lame sister Clare work for Madam Estelle, the owner of a Victorian dress shop. Madam Estelle is a hard, greedy, slave-driving woman, but there is not much Nina can do because Madam Estelle is her legal guardian. As if that weren’t bad enough, the jealous Maria keeps playing tricks on Nina. But we know things will change during the course of the story.

Gypsy Rose stories seem to be more reprints of old Strange Stories, substituting Gypsy Rose for the Storyteller. And this being a holiday special, the features focus on holidays, such as converting old beach towels into beach bags, and plenty of holiday-themed quizzes.