This week’s sports cover has Mario Capaldi drawing gymnastics, a sport we seldom see him depicting in girls’ comics. “Just the Job” replaces “Behind the Screen” this week, and its job is to inform us what’s behind the world of pop music. Alley Cat takes the spot as the humour cartoon this time. Snoopa must have been on holiday.
The Gypsy Rose story is another recycled Strange Story, and it’s a morality tale in “be careful what you wish for”. A genie grants Persian girl Farah three wishes – but warns her to think carefully before making a wish because he can only grant exactly what she asks for. This means granting her wishes literally, as Farah finds out when she blows her first two wishes because she jumped the gun and did not heed the genie’s warning. Will she think carefully about the third wish and make it the right one? Or will she end up wasting three perfectly good wishes – and maybe have an even deeper regret than that?
Ferne’s plan to help Jolie get over her dancing block is to dress up in her mother’s Firebird costume and pass herself off as “The Ghost Dancer”, which the girls all think is haunting the school. The plan does help Jolie’s dancing – but then blabbermouth Jolie tells everyone, so now the ghost rumour is worse than ever.
In “Land of No Tears”, the Gamma girls beat the odds and make it through the preliminary rounds in the Golden Girl award. Unfortunately there’s now a lot of heat on them, especially as the authorities are astonished to find no record of Cassy in their computer (well, there wouldn’t be as she’s an unwitting time traveller from the 20th century!). The dreaded Hive Inspector is being called in, and Perfecta is on the trail of the Gamma girls’ secret trainer.
Miss Simon – after a taste of what asthmatic Paul goes through – agrees to Marie’s request to let her have Simon Hall a year earlier because Paul is deteriorating so badly. Even so, it’s still nine months off. Will Paul last the distance?
Pam’s still stuck on the school magazine and Miss Peeble tries to help, but not very successfully. Miss Larks is definitely not under arrest, but she is on leave, and it’s linked to what Pam thinks is a blackmailer. She spots someone in Miss Larks’ apartment who could be the miscreant and gets the gang organised to catch him.
Sir Roger answers a “ghost for hire” ad. Sounds reminiscent of the old “Rent-a-ghost” strip from Buster. Tansy tries all sorts of nutty tactics to avoid “Dismal Dee” – but she’s the one who ends up dismal, because it cost her the chance of a concert ticket to see her current favourite pop group.
As well as having to fend off the cheating Syreeta and Selena, who are out to cheat her out of a disco contest (Syreeta) and netball match (Selena), Nadine now has to choose between the two events. For the first time she shows team spirit and chooses netball over disco. Stuffy Betty has had a change of heart too, and she wants to help Nadine against the two cheats.
There is no “Winning Ways” this issue, but we have Snoopa back. The letter column reveals another covert male Jinty reader, and this time it’s a dad. Dad let his secret slip when he suddenly asked his daughter if Roz got rid of her guardian angel and she realised he was referring to “Her Guardian Angel”. He was a bit embarrassed to be caught out in having had a sneaky peek into his daughter’s Jintys.
In the stories, Pam is still struggling to get the school newspaper together while the headmaster is nagging her about its progress. Meanwhile, the mystery about what’s bothering Miss Larks really deepens when Pam and Trace overhear her saying on the phone that she could be in trouble for aiding and abetting – and then the police actually take her away! Good grief, could she actually be under arrest?
Jolie is actually calling upon the ghost of Ferne’s mother for help with her dancing. After realising what is wrong with Jolie’s dancing, Ferne hatches a plan to help her. However, it looks like it’s going to play on the rumour Ferne accidentally started that her mother’s ghost is haunting the school. Unwise move – even if the plan does help Jolie, it is certainly going to fuel the rumour even more.
Marie snaps at Miss Simon (about time!) when she assumes Miss Simon has sent her chauffeur to keep tabs on her and make sure she wins no medals. But then she discovers that she was mistaken and the chauffeur was there for a different reason. Has she blown her chance of Simon Hall for her sick brother?
Talk about fighting fire on two fronts! Nadine discovers there are two cheating sisters (Selena and Syreeta) out to nobble her at both a disco competition and a netball match. And they are succeeding in putting a lot of nasty bruises into her legs to make her unfit for both.
Things get off to a very bad start for the Gamma girls because of the hostile spectators booing at them – who are then taken by surprise when Cassy beats the Alpha girls at the swimming event. Then there’s a shock for Cassy when she’s disqualified – but why?
This week, Tansy and Simon are revealed to be so terrified of going to the dentist that Mum and Dad resort to underhand tactics to make sure the appointment is kept. The folks tell Tansy they want her help to get Simon to the dentist – but Simon seems to be under the impression that the folks want his help to get her there…
Sir Roger conjures a potion that makes Gaye invisible, but he’s the one who ends up needing invisibility when she discovers the trick he played on her – withholding the secret to making her visible again.
It’s another recycled Strange Story, from Ireland, for Gypsy Rose this week. Sheena Murphy and her grandmother are so badly hit by crop failure that they need a crock of gold from the leprechauns. Knowing the leprechauns, even getting that wish could have a lot of impish humour attached.
No Medals for Marie – (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Alison Christie Fitt)
Winning Ways 48 (writer Benita Brown)
Life’s a Ball for Nadine – (artist Mario Capaldi)
Pam thinks Miss Larks is being blackmailed, which leads to an embarrassing moment when Fred and Terry jump what they think is the blackmailer by mistake. Oh well, they were just trying to be helpful. The ‘blackmailer’ is Miss Larks’ nephew Steve Arnott, who takes over the reins for the upcoming school magazine Pam is struggling over.
“The Ghost Dancer” is approaching crunch time. Ferne wants to end her deception but is too scared of the consequences. But fate takes a hand when Ferne finds out that Jolie is in danger from a cracked pillar. Everyone sees the supposedly wheelchair-bound Ferne suddenly running off to try to avert disaster.
“No Medals for Marie” enters its penultimate episode. That mean old Miss Simon won’t let Marie’s family have the country home they so desperately need for Paul’s health. She’s going to abandon Paul to slowly die of asthma in his polluted town although she knows how serious his condition is. And it’s just because she’s so jealous at Marie finally winning a medal.
“Life’s a Ball for Nadine” is also on its penultimate episode. There are two jealous sisters going up against Nadine at netball and disco and trying to cheat her out of both. Nadine beats one sister at netball in this episode, but now she has to beat the other at disco in the final episode.
The Gamma Girls have won the preliminary rounds at the Golden Girl trophy, but it’s not all victory. Perfecta is on the trail of their secret trainer, who is Miranda’s mother. Cassy manages to foil Perfecta this time, but she is still suspicious. Plus, the dreaded Hive Inspector is going to pay a visit. He has the power to take Miranda and her mother away if he discovers their secret, and they will never return.
This week Gypsy Rose brings us an original story instead of a recycled Strange Story. Dora Lambert faithfully goes to Miss Harleigh to read Charles Dickens to her. Despite the Dickens title she reads from in the story, Dora expects and asks for nothing, even though her poor family could do with it. However, Gypsy Rose has forewarned us that there could be a surprise in store.
Sir Roger accidentally creates a double of himself, and then it’s triplets. Gaye ends up with treble the trouble of feeding a gluttonous ghost.
Tansy’s got a detective kit. She’s on the case of the missing hockey cup, which has disappeared from her bedroom window. For once pesky brother Simon and practical joker Peter are in the clear, so who could have done it?
No Medals for Marie – final episode (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Alison Christie Fitt)
Winning Ways 49 (writer Benita Brown)
Life’s a Ball for Nadine – final episode (artist Mario Capaldi)
Why do Pond Hill and Wormsley Comprehensive hate each other? That’s the question Steve intends to lead off the first issue of the school magazine with. He is set on going to Wormsley Comprehensive to conduct an interview with its pupils and is dragging Pam there with him, despite warnings from Goofy that the Wormsley pupils will just do something horrible to them. If you ask me, the Wormsley pupils don’t even know they hate Pond Hill or ever stop to think about it. The Pond Hill pupils certainly have no idea what the feud’s about.
Two stories end this week: “No Medals for Marie” and “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”. Marie decides it’s time to confront “that jealous battle axe” of a godmother over the blackmail she’s been pulling to stop her winning medals ever since they first met. However, Marie is in for a surprise, and it’s the one that guarantees a happy ending for all concerned. The godmother now goes from stopping Marie winning medals to a race to see who can win the most medals and trophies the fastest. No medals for guessing who’s leading. In “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”, the team resorts to a most unusual netball throw to make sure Nadine gets into the disco contest that her jealous rival’s cronies are trying to stop her entering. Nadine wins hands down of course, and “she’s the disco and netball queen!”.
One of the replacement stories starting next week is “Fancy Free!”, but why is there only one new story when two have ended? It also means two Phil Townsend stories will overlap because Townsend will finish “The Ghost Dancer” while starting “Fancy Free!”. Normally that sort of overlap happens with Phil Gascoine in Jinty.
In “The Ghost Dancer”, Ferne ends her wheelchair deception to save a fellow pupil from a dangerous pillar. But Ferne takes the pillar herself and it turns her deception into reality! Now she’s stuck in a wheelchair for real. Will she ever dance again?
There is even more cause for tears in “Land of No Tears” this week. To save Miranda from being taken away, Cassy is forced into a bargain to throw the swimming marathon in Perfecta’s favour – and so lose the Golden Girl Trophy that is the Gamma Girls’ ticket to a better life.
Gypsy Rose brings another recycled Strange Story. Twin sisters are separated after an accident and one loses her memory. So she can’t understand these strange flashes of a girl looking just like her and calling her name. Of course it’s the twin calling out for a reunion.
A misunderstanding has Tansy think Mr Grady’s being put in a pensioners’ home. She rallies the whole street to save him, but ends up in the doghouse with them all when the misunderstanding comes to light.
Sir Roger puts on a show of spooking to get Stoney Hall into a guidebook. Unfortunately he meets his match in the guidebook’s editors, who are the biggest sceptics he has ever met.
No Medals for Marie (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Alison Christie)
Winning Ways 41: Netball – A Two-Footed Landing (writer Benita Brown
Life’s a Ball for Nadine (artist Mario Capaldi)
Three weeks into 1981, but winter chill is still in the air in Jinty – see the dog’s breath on the cover? The chill continues in “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost”, with Sir Roger trying ice skating, but a spoilsport is out to destroy the fun by smashing the ice to pieces.
In “Land of No Tears” there is chill of a different sort – Perfecta’s idea of disciplining Cassy is to force her to take a shower that is 10 degrees below zero! We learn that this is what Perfecta does with herself every morning, for twice the length of time.
We all encounter a scheming cousin/foster sister/stepsister story now and then, and it’s happening in Pam of Pond Hill. Pam’s cousin Veronica is making all sorts of bragging claims about her abilities, and Pam is beginning to doubt they are true. But Veronica has turned everyone against Pam, and even her best friend Tracey doubts her. However, the blurb for next week hints that Pam will expose her cousin.
Ferne has sworn never to dance again to punish her father, whom she blames for her mother’s death. But we know she won’t be able to keep that up. Sure enough, Ferne gives in and starts dancing secretly. But that is already leading to repercussions when fellow ballet student Jolie spots her dancing from a distance without realising who she is. And Jolie is a big blabbermouth! The plot is really going to thicken now.
The lengths Marie is forced to go to because of her jealous godmother’s mandate that she wins no medals – this week it’s turning to vandalism to avoid winning a medal! What next?
This week’s Gypsy Rose story prompted a intriguing letter from a reader later on: the reader’s name is Gaynor, she is thirteen, and loves gymnastics – same as the girl in the story! Gaynor must have treasured this issue forever to show her family. Gypsy Rose looks like she has been drawn by the same artist, so this must be a completely new story, one of the few Gypsy Rose stories of 1981 that is not a recycled Strange Story.
Tansy is put in charge of minding a neighbour’s budgie this week. Sounds simple? Oh, no, we know it will get complicated.
In “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”, the goalkeeper gets some unusual training to get her back into form. She, Nadine and the others are catching rubbish thrown by her unruly rock ‘n’ roll brothers who don’t like the acts in a talent show that aren’t rock ‘n’ roll – especially the disco act, of course.
No Medals for Marie (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Alison Christie)
Winning Ways 42 – Netball (writer Benita Brown)
Life’s a Ball for Nadine (artist Mario Capaldi)
The red, green and yellow colourings on the cover make it a standout. The winter sport on the cover blends in with the winter months when the issue came out.
It is the final episode of Pam’s current story, where she sets out to prove her cousin Veronica is a big fraud. And she sure needs proof, because even her best friend Tracy doubts her.
Ferne’s secret dancing in the ruins sets off funny rumours in the ballet school. And it can only get worse with Ferne secretly roaming around the school while deciding to carry on with her deception to punish her father.
Sir Roger’s mother descends on Stoney Hall. She is a dragon who haunted Sir Roger while he was alive and is now haunting him in death. But she has nothing on Gaye.
Tansy tries out for the school choir – just to get out of French lessons – but everyone is running a mile when they hear her sing.
Things are really stepping up in “Land of No Tears” when Cassy hears about the Golden Girl Award and decides that winning it is the only way to get better treatment for the Gammas, who are subject to indignities such as eating only scraps from the Alpha girls’ plates. And now she’s discovered a way into the Alpha girls’ gym for secret training.
Marie saves a boy’s life, but has to refuse the medal for bravery because of her jealous godmother, who says “No Medals for Marie” or no inheritance of her hall that Marie’s sick brother badly needs to live in.
It’s netball vs basketball in a stuffy boys’ school in “Life’s a Ball for Nadine”. But it’s disco that wins the day (while the coaches aren’t looking).
And the Gypsy Rose tale is another recycled Strange Story, about an odd case of time travel during a marathon drive that sets a guilty conscience at rest.
The three stories that started in the New Year issue are now on their second episodes. Marie Smart has agreed to her godmother’s blackmail not to win any medals so that her sick brother can live at the godmother’s hall and away from the air pollution that could kill him. But she is finding that deliberately losing after winning all her life is harder than she thought when she does no swotting in order to fail her exams, but comes out on top in spite of it! In “Land of No Tears“, Cassie has just arrived in it and what she sees already has her gearing up to be a rebel – but also facing the price she has to pay for it when Hive Mother directs Perfecta to punish her. And now that Cassie has seen that they are capable of locking four-year-olds in cupboards to teach them self-control (and Perfecta lauds it as to why she is so perfect), she is really alarmed as to what her punishment could be. Ferne is adamantly sticking to her resolve to continue her pretence at being paralysed to punish her father, but the temptation to dance is all around her when she is sent to the ballet school. Keeping up the pretence is clearly going to be harder than she thought.
Nadine is upstaged by gimmicky disco dancers who depend more on costumes and appearance than skill to clear the floor. But in the end the gimmicky dancers are upstaged and the floor goes back to Nadine, with the help of netball!
Pam’s first full story for 1981 begins. It looks like the new year is not going well for her when her cousin Veronica comes to stay. Pam realises Veronica is a fraud who gets attention and admiration with boasting and pretence, but Veronica is very clever at turning Pam’s friends against her. So how is Pam going to catch Veronica out?
Another solid sports cover from Mario Capaldi, and the complementary use of purple and yellow really brings it to life.
Cinderella pantos feature in two stories in this issue, would you believe? Tansy has put up her Cinderella shoe to remind herself of the day she put her foot in it. That was the day she suggested a Cinderella pants for raising funds for the youth club and ends up lumbered with organising the whole thing. She thinks she has everything pretty much sussed – until she finds herself blackmailed into having snobby Angela playing Cinderella!
And blackmail is the reason why Marie Smart deliberate makes a mess of her role as Prince Charming in her own Cinderella panto. Her jealous godmother has her deliberately failing at things because of her sick brother – win no medals, or no country estate that the sick brother desperately needs to mend his health.
The cruelty of the “Land of No Tears” strikes you anew with sickening horror in this issue. Gamma girl Grizelda has her grimy hands scrubbed until they are raw and bleeding by the cold hearted Perfecta in the name of cleanliness. And Grizelda is still expected to go on working, regardless of the state of her hands. However, the incident finally persuades the Gamma girls to follow Cassie’s plan to win the Golden Girl award, and they find a star hope in Miranda. But then Miranda backs out unexpectedly. Why?
Pam of Pond Hill starts a new story. She decides she wants to pursue a career in journalism, and makes a start with submitting an article against school uniform to the local newspaper. Will it get her launched, and where will this latest thread take the strip itself?
It looks like “The Ghost Dancer” has been rumbled. Dad realises Ferne has been faking paralysis and to prove it he leaves her out where she has to walk back. But Ferne refuses to fall into his trap and prove his point. Which battle of the wills is going to win next week?
Netball gets Nadine an unexpected bonus in this issue – meeting Disco Dave, her favourite disc jockey!
Alison Christie is credited with writing a number of stories in Tammy. She recently contacted this blog and clarified that she also wrote a number of stories for Jinty and other IPC titles, as well as for a number of DC Thompson titles. She continues to write for children, using her married name, so do look for Alison Mary Fitt when searching her out! She kindly agreed to do an email interview for this blog, for which many thanks are due.
Questions for her:
1 I saw a little on the Scottish Book Trust site that you started writing for DC Thomson on leaving school. Can you tell me a bit more about writing for girls’ comics and how long that career lasted? For instance, what titles did you write for, and on what basis (in house, freelance)? You said on the Scottish Book Trust site that you were “at one point turning out an episode a week for six picture story serials” – when would this have been, and how did you even manage it?!
On leaving school I worked in DC Thomson as a junior sub editor on Bunty, and was soon subbing scripts that came in from freelance writers. However, at that time, some of the serials were written in-house, so I got my first chance to write a serial, called “Queen of the Gypsies”. Later, I was moved to their new nursery comics which came out by the name of Bimbo, then Little Star, then Twinkle for girls. I wrote lots of text- and picture-stories for these, in house – though freelancers were used as well. After I got married, I still worked in-house at DCs… but then had 3 children in quick succession – so left and went freelance, submitting scripts for Twinkle, which had replaced the other two titles. I also freelanced for the various DC’s girls magazines, Judy, Debbie, Mandy, Nikki, Tracy etc…writing picture stories for them, though oddly enough, didn’t ever submit any story-line to Bunty, the mag I started on.
Then I thought I’d branch out and give IPC a go, and submitted a story-line to Mavis Miller of Jinty [at that point still editor of June & Schoolfriend] . She accepted it right away, and there began my freelance work for IPC, with June, Jinty, then Tammy, some stories for Misty – and, later, when the magazine Dreamer (for younger girls) started, and included photo stories, I wrote a serial called “Who Stole Samantha?” about a missing doll. Dreamer was short-lived, however, as was Penny, another IPC mag for younger girls. I wrote a serial for that entitled “Waifs of the Waterfall”. I have to say DC Thomson was a great training-ground as far as writing picture stories was concerned.
Sadly, Jinty/Tammy bit the dust around 1985, and suddenly vanished without any notification of this to their writers or artists. I continued writing for the DC Thomson stable of girls’ papers, but they all gradually gave up the ghost.
I have never stopped writing, though – and am now writing children’s books.
Six serials a week? Yes, at one point I was doing this, despite having 3 young children, working mostly at night when they were in bed. One of the freelance writers for one of the DC girl’s papers had died, and I was asked to finish his serials – so, along with 3 other serials for DC girl’s mags, plus a couple for Tammy and Jinty, that made six stories at that particular time.
2 What stories did you write in your comics career? Are there specific ones that stand out to you at this distance in time (for good or for ill)?
Alison reviewed her files and supplied the following list of stories that she wrote, with her own summaries
“The Grays Fight Back” (First story submitted to Mavis Miller, who was then editor of June & Schoolfriend, about a troubled family.)
War-time stories written for Mavis Miller / Jinty
“My Name is Nobody” (orphaned child in London Blitz who couldn’t remember her name) written for June & Schoolfriend when MM was the editor of that title [identified on the Comics UK Forum as “Nobody Knows My Name”, starting in the 20 November 1971 edition of June. It was illustrated by Carlos Freixas.]
Gypsy Rose stories incl ‘The Eternal Flame’ (22 Oct 1977)
[No Medals for Marie]
Jinty & Lindy serial
“For Peter’s Sake!” (Girl pushing her Gran’s old pram from Scotland to England for her baby brother Peter)
Tammy & Jinty serial
“Lara the Loner” (girl who hated crowds)
“A Gran for the Gregorys”
“The Button Box” (series)
“Cassie’s Coach” (Three children living in an old coach in London in Victorian times)
See also the list on Catawiki of titles credited to her – from issue 590 to 684 (last issue of Tammy was 691). NB number 590 was the first one to regularly credit creators and it stopped doing that a bit before 684 by the looks of it. Titles in [square brackets] below are credited to Alison Christie on that source.
[It’s A Dog’s Life Tammy 1983 623 – 629]
[Room for Rosie Tammy 1983 646 – 667]
Tammy complete stories
Olwyn’s Elm A storyteller story, may have been published in another title?
Bethlehem’s Come to Us (Christmas 1983 issue)
Message of a Flower
[Dreams Can Wait]
Serials for other titles
“Second Fiddle to Sorcha” (musical story) published in one of the DCT titles [identified on the Comics UK Forum: “Second Fiddle To Sorcha} ran in Mandy 880 (26 November 1983) – 887 (14 January 1984)]
I wrote more stories for Jinty than Tammy for, having firstly written for June & Schoolfriend (edited by Mavis Miller), I then wrote for Jinty when she became editress of that. When I finally took a trip down to King’s Reach Tower to meet her in person, I was then introduced to Wilfred Prigmore of Tammy, and began writing for Tammy as well. I was writing for Mavis in 1971. I know this because that’s when the youngest of my 3 children was born, and being hospitalised and hooked up on a drip, I was still writing my current serial for her, and I remember she commented, ‘That’s devotion to duty!’
I may well have written more serials than these, but foolishly did not keep files of them all.
I loved writing them all – but liked the heart-tuggers best, of which there were plenty! I think “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was one of my favourites. I had the 3 children spending Christmas in a concrete pill-box. On mentioning this to my driving instructor at the time, who was a retired army major, he said, “Must have been bloody cold!” I liked “Always Together” too – and “Stefa’s Heart of Stone”.
3 You have mentioned separately that Keith Robson asked you in later years whether you were the writer on “The Goose Girl”, so clearly artists didn’t (always?) know who wrote the stories they worked on. Was this the usual way of doing things? It looks like many of your stories were illustrated by Phil Townsend; how aware of this in advance were you, and did it mean that for instance you had the chance to write to his strengths, or anything like that?
No, artists would not likely know who wrote the stories they worked on, unless the name of the writer was somewhere on the script. I had no say at all in who illustrated my stories, just sent them in, and the Editors farmed them out to an artist. Which is why I had no idea it was Keith Robson illustrating the Goose-girl, not that at the point I’d have known who he was. Only when Tammy started to put the author and illustrator’s names in, did I know who the illustrators were, mostly Phil Townsend and Mario Capaldi, both talented artists. I never met or communicated with either of them.
4 On the blog, we’d love to fill in more names of people associated with Jinty and related titles. Do you remember any other writers or artists that you worked with or knew of? Do you have any memories of working with them, directly or indirectly?
Sorry, but I don’t know of any artists, writers, who wrote for Tammy, Jinty, at that time – being freelance and working from home meant I didn’t meet any. I did meet Mavis Miller , the Jinty editor – but then she left to get married and I did not hear any more about her, though I did try to find out for a while. Also met Wilfred Prigmore.
I know of Pat Mills (who at one time had the temerity to write on a blog that females were no use writing for girl’s magazines such as Jinty -men were better at it! He worked in DCTs then down at IPC himself, and wrote for Tammy and possibly Jinty.)
But I have never actually met him. I did know the in-house artists at DCTs, but mostly freelance artists were used from outside, and I didn’t know them either.
5 Clearly there were similarities in your stories for Jinty: they were often tear-jerkers (Stefa, Bow Street Runner, Somewhere Over The Rainbow) and many of them illustrated by the same artist. Perhaps because they were drawn by different artists, I would identify a slightly different vibe about some other stories: The Goose Girl about independence, and Darling Clementine, a sports story with a ‘misunderstood’ angle. Were you ever asked to write to specified themes, formulas, or ideas given by the editorial department, or were you left to your own devices and inspiration?
Yes, I was asked to write to a specific theme, but only once. Mavis Miller asked me to write a serial based on Catherine Cookson’s The Dwelling Place. Which resulted in “Always Together”.
Many thanks again to Alison for sending in all this information – and of course for writing so many of these excellent and well-loved stories in the first place! Many thanks also to the folk on the Comics UK Forum for the detective work in finding some original titles and dates of publications noted above.
Edited to add a couple of follow-up questions and points of information:
6 You mention DCTs as a great training ground for writing comics serials. Can you tell us anything of the tips or techniques you either were specifically taught, or learned by osmosis? For instance, the style of these comics is to plunge straight into the story headlong – in The Spell of the Spinning Wheel, the father is lamed in the first couple of pages – and the protagonists are very central to every page and indeed almost every panel of the story, so that very little is told without reference to that main character. And perhaps there are also differences between boys’ comics of the time, with lots of action and less mystery, and girls’ comics?
Re training in DCT, nobody actually ‘trained’ me – but subbing other freelancers’ scripts as they came in was very informative. Can’t think why as a seventeen year old, (I was only sixteen when I started on the Bunty) I was allowed to do this – but after all this subbing I had a fair idea how to write scripts myself. The main point was to keep the story flowing from picture to picture – thus the captions at the top or sometimes bottom were important connectors to the following picture. Also, the last picture was always a cliff-hanger – so the reader would want to buy the comic the next week! The stories always had a main character, who did feature in all or most of the pictures, either prominently or in the background, which was fair enough, as the story was all about them.
Re boy’s comics at the time – yes, they were action-based, fighting, war stories, and adventures as you would expect, not full of emotional stories like the girl’s comics were.
7 Did you keep any copies of the original scripts? Have you ever (did you at the time ever) compare the script you wrote with the resulting printed version, and notice differences, big or small, for better or for worse?
Yes, I have copies of some of the original DCT stories I wrote for their girl’s comics. Re comparing my original script to what it ended up as on a printed page – I guess there might have been some minor changes to the text, as they likely had people subbing freelance stories that came in down in IPC too. I really can’t remember. But I was always happy with the artwork on all my stories.
Alison also clarified that she wrote both “I’ll Make Up For Mary” in Jinty, and in 1986 the similarly-titled “I Must Fall Out With Mary”, published in Mandy. She also wrote “Tina’s Telly Mum” in Tammy, and “No Medals for Marie” in Jinty. Less certainly, she wrote ‘a short story … for Tammy, about a girl leaving school, junior school it was, a kind of whimsical tale about a girl who, on her leaving day, is very glad to escape all the horrible things she’s had to put up with there… but, at the very end, is hanging her school tie on the railing, and thinking, So why am I so sad at leaving then?… I think it was called Goodbye school, or Leaving Day, or something. ‘ And ‘”My Shining Sister”, a Tammy story, also rang a bell. I did write a story about Marnie, the daughter of an astrologer, who found a girl in a field, who is dazed as she’s had some kind of fall. Marnie’s family take her in, and she becomes the sister that only child Marnie has ever wanted. However, the girl, Sorcha, turns out to be one of the Seven sister stars… and has somehow fallen to earth…. Sorcha keeps being drawn to the number six – aka she has six sisters – Marnie tries to stop her seeing or being with groups of six girls, or going on a number six bus… in case she remembers where she has come from. If I remember right, Marnie has already worked out Sorcha is a fallen star. Anyway, story ends I think with Marnie helping her to return to her sisters, realising this is where she really belongs – but happily still sees her ‘sister’ through her dad’s telescope. I don’t know if you have a Tammy issue with “My Shining Sister” in it… but, unless some other writer has written a similar story, ie at the time when credits were being given to writers and artists… I have a feeling this is my story also?’
This is another of my favourite Jinty sports covers. The composition and the use of the yellow space against the rest of the colours in the foreground is so eye-catching. And the activity (I would not call yoga a sport) is a nice, relaxing change of pace from the usual active sports such as tennis or hockey. I myself like yoga and I know the girls are positioned in shoulder stands, headstands and ploughs.
As we see from the heart in the background, our yoga practitioners probably have their minds on Valentines Day. Yes, it is the Valentine issue. The back cover provides instructions for making your own Valentine heart, which you can either wear or put on a Valentine card. Inside, though, there isn’t so much as a Valentines Day card in any of the stories. It is all business as usual.
“Land of No Tears”, “The Ghost Dancer” and “No Medals for Marie” all began in the New Year issue. Now they enter their seventh episodes and approximate mid-way points. In “Land of No Tears”, Cassy allows herself to take heavy punishment to save her friend Miranda, and is rewarded in a way she never dreamed of. In “The Ghost Dancer”, Ferne’s now in an even bigger mess than before. Her bid to escape discovery backfires when it intensifies the rumours that her mother’s ghost is haunting the ballet school. Marie’s parents are even more upset that there are “No Medals for Marie”, and all because of the hold Marie’s godmother has over her.
In “Pam of Pond Hill”, Mr Gold (Goldilocks) the strict headmaster takes Pam and Co by surprise when he decides what to do about the anti-uniform news sheet they have been circulating. Their punishment is to produce a lower school magazine in one month! And so The Pond Hill Printout is born.
The Gypsy Rose story is one that Misty would be proud of. Nasty Aunt Gladys abuses her niece Karen. Karen takes retreat in daydreaming and an old dress from Mathilda, godmother to Karen’s grandmother, but these really aggravate Aunt Gladys. She looks on them as forms of lunacy inherited from Mathilda, whom she believes was mad. But is it madness or something that will give Karen the last laugh over her cruel aunt?