Tag Archives: Nothing To Sing About

Jinty 30 June 1979

Jinty cover 30 June 1979

  • Casey, Come Back! – final episode (unknown artist – Merry)
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Nothing to Sing About (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Keep Your Fingers Crossed! (feature)
  • The Disappearing Dolphin (artist Trine Tinturé)
  • The Hill that Cried – Gypsy Rose story (artist Shirley Bellwood)
  • Some Scarecrow! (Michael Jackson feature)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Beauty on a Budget (feature)

This issue’s cover portrays two water scenes, but they are a complete contrast. In “The Forbidden Garden” it’s a life-or-death situation where Laika and Kara nearly drown in floodwaters, while in “Bizzie Bet and the Easies” it’s fun-and-sun by the sea. And for once Bet scores a final laugh over the Easies.

In “A Girl Called Gulliver” there’s water trouble too, as our last Lilliputians set themselves sailing down the river in an old tea kettle – only to find they forgot to check it was seaworthy first, and it isn’t!

It’s the last episode of “Casey, Come Back!”, one of the three-part stories that appeared in Jinty in 1979 but give the impression they could have done with more prolonged treatment. Next we see the start of the Jinty classic, “Almost Human”, and “Mike and Terry”, Jinty’s response to popular demand for a detective story.

Pandora’s difficulty with maths has forced her hand to use the witchcraft box. But she finds she won’t get her box to work unless she gets herself a familiar, which means swallowing her dislike of cats. So meet Scruffy, the cross-eyed cat who doesn’t like Pandora any more than she likes him.

“The Disappearing Dolphin” leads the scuba divers to exciting archaeological finds. But Mrs Ormerod-Keynes, who is trying to stop the expedition, is not impressed. Now why could that be?

Gypsy Rose is back this week, but it feels like a filler. Gypsy Rose all but disappeared in 1979, making intermittent appearances. She never achieved the long-standing regularity of the Storyteller in June/Tammy. The Gypsy Rose story this week is clearly another recycled Strange Story. A Cornish family are faced with selling their farm, but strange things start to happen when a hill starts crying and wailing…

Alley Cat artist Rob Lee breaks the fourth wall and presents Alley Cat with some tasty treats to cheer him up in the last panel after Alley Cat gets a bit of a disappointment with this week’s episode.

Linette’s actions to shut her father’s music out of her life is really hurting her schoolmates, who are still fans of it. This week she has to change schools as well, but her attitude is making the transition even more difficult.

Jinty 9 June 1979

Stories in this issue:

  • Alice in a Strange Land (artist Terry Aspin) – last episode
  • Rinty ‘N’ Jinty
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Nothing To Sing About (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie) – first episode
  • Dip into this! (recipe feature)
  • Daughter of Dreams – last episode
  • The Four-Footed Friends (artist Peter Wilkes, writer Alison Christie)
  • Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters) – first episode

This is a time when Jinty seems to be finishing some particularly good stories – “Alice In a Strange Land”, “Children of Edenford”. This issue sees the start of tear-jerker “Nothing to Sing About” – another heart-tugger created by the joint talents of Alison Christie and Phil Townsend – and of the amusing but fairly light-weight “Pandora’s Box”. Next week sees the first episodes of “Casey, Come Back!” – another tear-jerker, drawn by the unknown artist who drew “Merry at Misery House” – and “The Disappearing Dolphin”, a mystery story beautifully drawn by Trini Tinturé. All are good, but none quite match those immediate predecessors.

“Alice” ends with a four-page episode that takes Alice out from the crumbling rocks threatening to crush her, to a reunion with her friends and a reconciliation with her cousin Karen. “I’m proud to be your cousin, Alice! I hope you can forgive how badly I’ve treated you in the past and let me be your friend?” Karen’s parents still need to understand the changed relationship but eventually all is resolved. The tag line at the end tells us that “Alice has deserved her happy ending. Next week, meet ‘The Disappearing Dolphin’!” In fact, the subsequent cover mostly features that story but the lead spot at the front of the comic is taken by “Casey, Come Back!”.

“The Forbidden Garden” is picking up the pace: Laika is told that someone has reported her as being of superior intellect, which means she is saved from the Industrial Zone where the rest of her family will just rot away their lives. Her old friends can’t afford to stay friendly with her, because if Laika makes any complaint about them, they will be severely fined, even imprisoned! The only bright side is that she can get back to her garden and tend to her plants – but even they are a source of fear, because surely they are growing much too fast? There must be something strange about them!

“Nothing to Sing About” starts off with 12 year old Linette Davis following in the footsteps of her beloved, popular singer father. By the end of the first three-page episode, her father is dead, and Linette is cursing the fans who she blames for killing him, by crowding round him too much!

It is the last episode of “Daughter of Dreams”. In this four-pager, Sally realises she can be brave after all, when she has to act without thinking – and her imaginary friend Pauline has a hand in making everything come out right, too. We are promised another Pauline Starr story later, so it looks like this was intended to be a long-running character feature. In the end there were only two stories featuring this duo.

Laura and her mum have to go and visit the slums that Laura’s friend Josie used to live in – Laura thinks this will change her mum’s mind now that she has seen how badly folks need re-housing, but not a bit of it, of course. In fact Laura’s mum purposefully gets Josie’s dog Riley lost, leading him into danger with the dog catchers.

Finally, it is the first episode of “Pandora’s Box”. Pandora is stubborn and conceited, but in for a shock – it’s bad enough her aunt suddenly claiming to be be a witch and telling her that she has to follow the family tradition of learning the ‘wisdom of witchcraft’ but her aunt is also claiming she has no drama talent and won’t succeed without the witchcraft! Of course Pandora is determined to prove her aunt wrong – but can she resist the temptation to use magic to make her path smoother?

Story theme: Redemption narratives

I recently wrote summary posts about two stories that I called ‘redemption narratives’: “The Girl Who Never Was” and “She Shall Have Music“. That’s a kind of story theme that we can all recognize as being fairly common in girls comics generally: in Jinty there are a number of other examples.  But how does this sort of story work?

Take those two stories as an initial guide: the protagonist is a difficult or disagreeable, probably dislikeable, girl who has some personal failing or issue that drives the story. It’s because of that failing that the story progresses; it may not have been due to something that was her fault that the story started off in the first place, but it is because of her moral or social problem that it continues and develops the way it does. Tina Williams lands in the alternate universe where magic works because of her conceited and annoying ways; Lisa Carstairs’s father doesn’t lose his money because of her, but if she wasn’t so obsessed with continuing her piano playing exactly as before, then she wouldn’t find herself in the same difficulties. It’s not just what happens to the protagonist (or how she is challenged in the story) but how she reacts to it. She has to be ‘the architect of her own misfortunes’, as Mistyfan puts it in her post about another redemption story, “Black Sheep of the Bartons“.

Does the story have to feature some sort of disagreeableness, some sort of outright nastiness or callousness on the part of the protagonist? No: I’d say that you could certainly include ‘guilt’ stories such as “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” and “I’ll Make Up For Mary”. The protagonist here  suffers huge pangs of guilt and despair because of the loss of a loved one – a best friend or a sister in the case of these two stories, but in other cases it can be a parent – a very natural feeling, but the failing here is that she lets those emotions overwhelm her and distort her common sense. The guilty feelings of the protagonist drive the story forward, but this guilt is portrayed throughout as excessive, as an indulgence that the main character should resist. It’s the lengths that their grief drives them to that causes their difficulties in their separate stories.

Also, it’s not just about having an objectionable main character who is nicer by the end of the story. “Curtain of Silence” and “Land of No Tears” are not what I would call redemption narratives, despite having protagonists who start off pretty disagreeable and end up much improved. (Likewise “Battle of the Wills” is not, nor I think “Pandora’s Box”, but sports story “Black Sheep of the Bartons” is one I would class as such: Bev Barton isn’t horrible so much as thoughtless and reckless, but her carelessness nearly brings tragedy to her family.) Why don’t “Curtain of Silence” and “Land of No Tears” count? Because when the girl main characters are swept into their initial circumstances – enslaved by a dictatorial coach, forced into third-class citizenship in a future world – their thoughts are not primarily about how they can continue to maintain their status quo ante but about how they can defeat their antagonist. Yvonne and Cassy aren’t just trying to get back to where they were at the beginning: their story is about a positive rebellion, not a futile rejection of the truth that the outside world is telling them. They end up much nicer than they started out being, but that’s not the whole reason for having the story in the first place – it’s because they have faced extraordinary circumstances which would change anyone by making them realise that some things are bigger than individual concerns.

Does the character who ends up being redeemed have to be the protagonist, or could they be the antagonist or villain? Overall I would say it has to be the protagonist, as the main character that you are supposed to sympathise with and want things to turn out well for, but maybe one counter-example is “Wanda Whiter Than White“. Wanda is not the main character of the story and she makes Susie Foster’s life a misery with her sanctimonious ways. At the end, it is revealed, as Mistyfan explains in her story post, that ‘Wanda’s own past is not as white as she would have us believe. In fact, she is on probation after being caught stealing.’ Rather than this reveal being painted as purely a victory for the main character, it ends up with Wanda being ‘truly redeemed when she tells a white lie to help Susie in return for Susie saving her life’. The reader wasn’t rooting for Wanda’s redemption all along, but it is a satisfying ending nevertheless.

What choices could the writer make that would move the story out of the category of being a redemption narrative? Let’s take Lisa Carstairs’ story as an example. As with the OuBaPo exercises, thinking about how a story could work differently will give us a view on how the stories actually do work.

  • Imagine Lisa’s parents still losing everything at the beginning of the story, and Lisa still losing her piano. The story could then have taken a different turn: rather than being about Lisa’s misguided piano obsession and selfishness, it could have been another kind of story entirely, for instance a mystery story where Lisa finds out that her father’s business partner was a crook who needs to be brought to justice. Perhaps Lisa’s piano playing could help her to find the clues she needs, and her obsession with it could be turned to a good cause in that way, so that she needs no redemption.
  • Or let’s say the story stays as being about Lisa’s obsession with playing piano but it’s portrayed as something not to be frowned on, rather as something acceptable or allowable. How would a story work where she can continue to be focused on playing piano to the exclusion of everything else, including her family? Perhaps her family would have to be a nasty, uncaring one, to make her disinterest acceptable.
  • Or perhaps the story could proceed more or less as it does, but with an unhappy ending where Lisa gets her comeuppance. This would make her into a more of an anti-heroine than normal but would not be unheard of.

Here are the examples I would identify as fitting most neatly into the category of ‘redemption narrative’ (core examples) and as being closely related to this category without necessarily definitely being classed as such (edge cases).

Core examples

  • “Dance Into Darkness” – Della just wants to live her life down at the disco with no regard for other people, but when her wish is granted she eventually discovers there is indeed more to life than her own self-interest.
  • There are a number of stories that are driven by a bereavement: the main character makes poor decisions as a result of her strong emotions of grief and anger because she is afraid of being hurt again. “The Ghost Dancer” is one of these, as is “Nothing to Sing About”, but of course “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” and “I’ll Make Up For Mary” are the strongest examples.
  • “The Girl Who Never Was” – discussed above
  • “She Shall Have Music” – discussed above
  • I said above that I thought that it needs to be the protagonist who is redeemed, not one of the other characters. In “Go On, Hate Me!” the antagonist is driven by grief into bullying the protagonist but in the end all is cleared and the antagonist is redeemed, so I would be tempted to class this alongside “Wanda Whiter Than White” as a clear example of this kind.
  • Jackie’s Two Lives” is more about the perils of wish-fulfilment, but Jackie’s snobbishness and the fact she is ashamed of her own family is definitely a character flaw that drives the story and she is cured of it at the end.
  • “Left-Out Linda” develops the redemption pretty well by recognizing that you can’t usually turn around your life by yourself: you have to have some help.
  • “Paula’s Puppets”: Paula has to learn to forgive her enemies rather than attacking them via the magical help she has been given.
  • “Tearaway Trisha”: Trisha’s recklessness has caused a serious accident; she tries to make amends but has to change her own character in order to do so.
  • “Valley of Shining Mist” has a clearly didactic message about the improving aspect of high culture: by playing the violin, Debbie will transcend the impact of her abusive family, who are low-class in their lack of culture and their morality.
  • In “Who’s That In My Mirror?” the protagonist’s selfish nature is made very literally visible and becomes more and more so until finally she is driven to renouncing it.
  • Worlds Apart” is the ultimate morality tale – one by one, six girls are shown the worst outcomes possible for each of their specific character flaws, and they have a chance to repent. The psychological development is minimal but the impact of the story was very dramatic.

Edge cases

  • “Fancy Free “- I know the main character is so independent that this may well be characterised as a fault, but I don’t really quite remember enough about the story to say whether it is the main thing that drives the whole plot.
  • The Four Footed Friends” – arguably another case where someone other than the protagonist ends up being redeemed, though it all feels a little sudden. “Hettie High-and-Mighty” likewise features a fairly sudden change of heart on the part of an antagonist who has mostly been about making  the protagonist’s life a misery until that point. I don’t think “The Kat And Mouse Game” quite counts, either: Kat may perhaps have realised the error of her ways at the end of the story, but will her change of heart actually stick?
  • I haven’t really made my mind up about “Gwen’s Stolen Glory” – it feels like it is mostly a story about deception, though clearly once Gwen owns up to the big lie this is a kind of redemption of her former deception.
  • In “Kerry In The Clouds”, Kerry is a day-dreamer imposed upon by a woman motivated by her own unfriendly concerns. Kerry’s day-dreaming nature is cured by the end of the story, but I don’t feel the main driver of the narrative was to improve her character.
  • The main character in “Mark of the Witch!” is hot-tempered and angry at all around her, and she comes to seek a more peaceful set of emotions by the end of the story. However, so much of her story is about the persecution and abuse that her neighbours visit on her that I don’t see her story being primarily about her renouncing her hot-headed ways.
  • I’m not sure about “Pandora’s Box” and whether it counts or not. Pandora’s witchy aunt does chide her at the beginning about being too cock-sure about her talents and says that she will need to use magic sooner or later, and this is all true: but I’m not sure what sort of morality story that adds up to – not a conventional one at any rate! The main nod in this story to more conventional morality is the fact that Pandora goes from disinterest in the pet she is stuck with (her black cat familiar, Scruffy) to loving him dearly and giving up her heart’s desire in order to save his life.

One last question struck me when thinking about this. What sort of things might the protagonist have done that means she needs to go through this process of redemption in the first place? Clearly it must be something negative: the story has a moral imperative of some sort, warning readers against some kinds of behaviour. But at the same time, some things would be beyond the pale of course, and would mean that any character doing that would be irredeemable. (There might therefore be some useful comparisons made with story villains: what does their villainy consist of?) If a character killed or seriously hurt someone on purpose then that would be beyond the pale: there are a number of villains who have gone this far, sometimes with a laugh on their cruel lips, but it would be hard to imagine that a girl protagonist could do this and still recover the moral high ground at the end of the story.

In the stories above it looks like the sort of wrong-doing that needs castigating but is still redeemable is often about emotional warmth and consideration for others – it’s not about ambition (by itself) or cleverness (by itself) for instance. An arrogant protagonist can still be the heroine, but if she is cold, selfish, or inconsiderate then that’s a good signal that this is a character marked down for improvement – by whatever means necessary. Preferably it will be a Shakespearean denouement, whereby her own moral failing brings about such a huge disaster that she has no option but to change her ways! And being too afraid to risk emotional commitment comes in for a bit of a kicking too, via the guilt / grief stories. The obvious next question: is this moral imperative specific to British girls comics? Do UK boys comics have redemption narratives too? Or those in other countries? My pal Lee Brimmicombe-Wood reckons that Japan’s flourishing manga industry has many stories about mavericks who insist on going their own ways – but in that industry’s story constraints, the mavericks are always right and never forced to realise that actually, there was a reason why everyone was telling them they were going about things the wrong way…

Jinty 28 July 1979

Jinty cover 28 July 1979

  • Almost Human (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Alley Cat
  • The Forbidden Garden – final episode (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Long and the Short of It! – Competition
  • Mike and Terry (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Hot But Happy! – Feature
  • The Bizzie Bet Holiday Dice Game! – feature
  • Picnic with Patti (artist Paul White)
    The Disappearing Dolphin (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Nothing to Sing About (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters)

The stories get pushed off the cover in favour of Jinty’s latest competition, which tests your skills in fashion design. The centre pages have a Bizzie Bet and the Easies dice game (below), which gives you an idea of all the work Bet piles on herself even when she’s not trying to change the Easies. But I have always wondered if anyone ever actually played those dice games that girls’ comics put out.

Xenia not being able to touch Earthlings without killing them gets her in another bind when she comes across a sick woman who needs help. Linette escapes the blackmailing landlady and found refuge with far nicer people. But they are fans of her father, which means more painful reminders of his death.

It’s the last episode of “The Forbidden Garden”. Laika hits on an extremely daring plan to help her dying sister. But she has to run the gauntlet with the police – and with armfuls of real flowers, which stick out like a sore thumb in a world where flora has been rendered extinct because of pollution! Another Baikie story, “Village of Fame”, replaces it next week.

Mike and Terry get caught in a trap set by the Shadow. They escape, but Mike’s adopted a rather weak disguise to get on the Shadow’s trail again – a ridiculous false beard.

Loads of laughs as the Lilliputians get rid of nosey parker Noreen. But fresh trouble is never far away of course, and at the end of the episode Minty has got stuck in a vending machine.

Briony’s got all the prefects ganging up on Pandora and picking on her for the most trivial thing. The box does have a spell for that sort of thing, of course. But Pandora has to choose between using the box to solve the bullying problem or making Scruffy a free cat again, which means no more witchcraft, because she can’t do both because of the timetable.

In “The Disappearing Dolphin” the girls find dirty work afoot with their expedition: their Roman artefact has been stolen and someone has messed around with their underwater samples. They’re off to do some investigating, but it looks like someone is on their trail…

Bizzie Bet game 1Bizzie Bet game 2

 

 

Jinty 21 July 1979

Jinty cover 21 July 1979

  • Almost Human (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Alley Cat
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Mike and Terry (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Budding Genius…or Blooming Nuisance? – Quiz
  • Cornucopia – recipes
  • Picnic with Patti (artist Paul White)
    New from Old! – Feature
  • The Disappearing Dolphin (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Nothing to Sing About (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters)

Xenia finds another runaway, but is forced to get police when he falls down floorboards and she can’t touch him to pull him out. He’s safe but very sour with her. Back on the road again…

It’s the penultimate episode of “The Forbidden Garden” and it’s taking an astounding twist – Laika suddenly finds her garden is now a lush tropical paradise! But what use is it with the police after her and now tipped off that she is in the Forbidden Zone, and still no flower or help for her dying sister?

Mike and Terry become bodyguards to a singer they suspect is a tempting target for the Shadow to kidnap. And talking of singers, Linette is forced to sing to raise money for food and is now being blackmailed and abused at the hostel she is staying at, by the landlady who has discovered she is a runaway. And Linette’s bringing it all on herself by blaming the fans for her father’s death.

Nosey parker Noreen is out to find the Lilliputians in “A Girl Called Gulliver” and wormed her way into Gwenny’s house to do so. But they’re onto her, and now they’re threatening to put a spoke in her wheel, um no, a fork in her foot!

Pandora tries a spell to make her hear better so she can overhear what teachers are saying about her. It works, but the spell starts rebounding when every single noise becomes unbearable and she can’t find a counter-spell. On the other hand, the spell enables Pandora to overhear she has an enemy in Briony, who is out to get rid of her. Don’t be too sure of that Briony, when Pandora is armed with her box!

In “The Disappearing Dolphin” the girls find a Roman artefact and they’re in the paper. But unforeseen consequences have Mrs Ormerod-Keynes and local fishermen up in arms.

 

 

Jinty 16 June 1979

Jinty cover 16 June 1979

  • Casey, Come Back! – first episode (unknown artist – Merry)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Alley Cat
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Nothing to Sing About (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Take Your Pick! – General Knowledge Quiz
  • The Disappearing Dolphin – first episode (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • The Four-Footed Friends (artist Peter Wilkes, writer Alison Christie)
  • Your Own Seaside Rock! (feature)
  • Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters)

As the cover announces, there are two new stories in this issue. And the moment we open up the issue, we see the first one: “Casey, Come Back!”. Josie Stanton lives a lonely life with her grandfather. While not downright cruel or abusive like some guardians we’ve seen in Jinty, grandfather does not show Josie any affection, takes her for granted, and just expects her to work hard on the farm. Casey the dog is the only friend Josie has. Then grandfather deprives Josie of even that when he sells Casey! Looks like he’s taken Josie for granted once too often.

The other story is another Trini Tinturé story, “The Disappearing Dolphin”. An underwater archaeological dig turns to mystery when a dolphin shows up and then disappears without explanation.

“The Four-Footed Friends” is now on its penultimate episode, so we will be seeing a new story pretty soon. Mrs Marshall finally pushes Laura too far with her ridiculous carry-on about germs and mixing with ‘common’ people. So now Laura is running away, with the dogs in tow!

In “The Forbidden Garden”, they have advanced the programmed rainfall, which puts Laika’s precious plants in danger of being ruined. Talk about “it never rains but it pours”!

In part two of “Nothing to Sing About”, Linette’s father dies. Linette blames the fans, despite her mother saying it was just a heart attack that could have struck at any time. Linette’s bitterness is making everyone suffer, and she’s vowed never to sing again. Hmm, that may be harder than you think, Linette!

Pandora has been confident that she can get by at stage school without her aunt’s box of witchcraft. But her confidence is shattered when she gets mixed feedback on why she was such a hit at her school show, with some saying that she is not all that good and just gets noticed because she is “so pushy” and a “big-head” (no arguments there). So she gives in to her aunt and accepts the box.

In “A Girl Called Gulliver”, Maloney snatches Gwenny’s bag to get his hands on the Lilliputians. But then a policeman gets his hands on Maloney! However, more trouble is soon brewing for the Lilliputians, in the form of a vacuum cleaner and then a cat, whom Minty is determined to fight.

Bizzie Bet hopes the Hobbies Fair will make the Easies more active. But of course they go for a hobby where they can still go easy. And it’s yoga. Maybe they should try meditation too.

Jinty 7 July 1979

Jinty cover 7 July 1979

  • Almost Human – first episode (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Timbuctoo Fashion – Competition
  • The Forbidden Garden – (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Mike and Terry – first episode (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • More Smart Ideas! – Feature
  • Picnic with Patti – (artist Paul White)
  • July with Jinty – Feature
  • The Disappearing Dolphin (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Nothing to Sing About (artist Phil Townsend)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters)

Two new stories begin in this issue. The first, which went on to become one of Jinty’s classics, is “Almost Human”. An alien girl, Xenia, is left to fend for herself on Earth because her own planet is facing ecological catastrophe. But Xenia soon discovers that her alien touch is deadly to any life form on Earth. Talk about being the Untouchable!

The second, “Mike and Terry”, is the Editor’s response to a recent competition in which readers were asked for what they especially wanted in Jinty. Ye Editor was flooded with requests for a detective story, hence Mike Temple (makes a change, having an adult male as protagonist in a Jinty serial) and his assistant Terry (a woman) on the trail of a master criminal known as “The Shadow”. This must have taken inspiration from “The Zodiac Prince”, which had a similar pairing that proved extremely popular.

Meanwhile, Pandora wants to be rid of the cat she was obliged to magically bind to her in order to make her box work because she hates cats. But it looks like she’ll have to learn to tolerate the cat instead.

Maloney thinks the Lilliputians are leprechauns and is out to catch them. And the Lilliput children are in big trouble on a river. Linette’s hatred of Dad’s fans is driving her to run away from home, which can only lead to big trouble for her too. And in “The Disappearing Dolphin”, Paula and Chris are having problems overcoming local hostilities to their expedition. But it looks like they’ve got an ally at last, with something in his boot that can help them.

In “The Forbidden Garden” Laika discovers that destroying Gladvis’s blackmail evidence is now paying off dividends in a most surprising manner. The headmistress Miss Karvell was among the people she freed, and Miss Karvell has been her secret helper in return. (Pity Gladvis is still in business, using her position as prefect to collect more blackmail evidence to use on pupils and teachers alike.) However, the forbidden garden yields a surprise that is not so pleasant – Laika discovers that the plants she had been cultivating for her dying sister are not beautiful flowers but hideous mutants!

 

Jinty 18 August 1979

Jinty cover 18 August 1979

  • Almost Human (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)
  • Village of Fame (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Tom Baker – Doctor Who feature
  • Mike and Terry (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • The Disappearing Dolphin (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Be a Private Eye! (text story with deliberate mistakes to spot)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Nothing to Sing About (artist Phil Townsend)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Harvest Crossword – Feature
  • Crumbs! That’s a Good Idea! – Feature

The indignity the Lilliputians suffer in this issue makes the cover, and the complementary use of orange and green on the cover makes it even more striking. The silly things thought a sandcastle was for living in, and have been hung up to dry after the soaking they got from the sea. This Gascoine story certainly had several cover slots, no doubt because it was such a fun, upbeat story (unlike the next story Gascoine will draw – “Waves of Fear” –  which is one of Jinty’s most disturbing stories).

This issue is one for Doctor Who fans because it has an exclusive interview with Tom Baker, the fourth Doctor. The text story is unusual too. There are deliberate mistakes in it, and the challenge is to see how good a sleuth you are by picking up as many of the mistakes as you can.

Xenia’s inability to touch Earthlings without killing them causes real problems as she tries to help some people with an accident. The district nurse is getting suspicious.

Sue does not trust Mr Grand’s scheme to use her village as a location for a television serial. And when she discovers just how he is filming it (cameras everywhere and stirring things up to create action), she declares war on him.

Mike and Terry are out to stop a plot to kidnap a ventriloquist, and Mike is turning conjurer to do it. But at the end of the episode he looks like he could do with a disappearing trick when the kidnappers accost him.

In “The Disappearing Dolphin”, Paula and Chris think they’ve worked out who is plotting against them – Mrs Ormerod-Keynes. But now they need to work out why and how.

It’s the penultimate episode of “Nothing to Sing About”. Linette has now been put straight about the cause of her father’s death and realises she was wrong to blame the fans. But her bitter behaviour beforehand has had serious consequences – it wrecked her mother’s new engagement.

Pandora works another spell to get what she wants – a job in a commercial. But she finds a conscience when she discovers it cost Ruth her chance of getting it, and she badly needed the money because her father can’t pay the school fees.

Jinty and Girl Picture Library

Girls picture libraries. The monthly Commando-style digests where girls could read a complete 64-page story every month as a supplement to their regular weekly comic. Thrillers, humour, drama, horror, supernatural, heart-breakers, fantasy or science fiction stories were told in a once-a-month, one-volume complete story.

The picture libraries also provided stories about favourite regulars such as The Four Marys, Wee Slavey and The Comp. Occasionally there were variations in the formula, such as a story being told over two picture libraries, or a picture library featuring several short stories instead of one complete one. One example was “Scream!”, which told five scarey stories that made you scream.

Picture libraries were a long-running staple of four of DCT’s titles: Bunty, Judy, Mandy and Debbie. The Bunty picture libraries lasted 455 issues. This is not surprising as Bunty herself is the longest-running girls’ title in history. The Mandy books finished at the same time as the Bunty ones, but at 277 books. Judy produced 375 books and Debbie 197 books. Towards the end of the run reprints appeared although original stories continued.

In IPC the girls’ picture library had a more unusual and uneven history. June and Princess Tina were the only titles to produce any long-running ones. In fact, the June picture library eventually recycled the old Princess logo to become the wordy title, “June and School Friend and Princess Library Picture Library“. Maybe this was why “Picture Library” was dropped on the cover at some point after #458, though the spine continued to say “June and School Friend and Princess Picture Library” to the end of its run.

Tammy and Jinty were never given any picture libraries although they lasted the longest after June. Yet the photo-story comic, Girl (series 2) was given her own picture library. This lasted for just 30 books. Miniscule compared with the rich histories of the June picture library and its counterparts from DCT. But what gives Girl Picture Library its place on this blog is that although some of the libraries were original material, many of them also reprinted material from Jinty and Tammy.

Most of the reprints appeared under revised titles, some of which were awful and showed little thinking. For example, “Vision of Vanity Fayre” from Tammy was reprinted in Girl Picture Library #2 under the the extremely lame title of “Dear Diary”. Strangely, the last three Girl picture libraries reprinted Tammy stories under their original titles.

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There were some oddities and even downright sloppiness in the run, which may indicate what sort of budget or editorship that the series was running to. For example, the cover of #16 (reprint of “My Heart Belongs to Buttons”) changes the appearance of the heroine. Readers must have been surprised or irritated when they opened the issue and found the brunette heroine inside bearing no resemblance to the girl on the cover. And the girl who appears on the cover of #25 (reprint of “Shadow on the Fen”, above) has the wrong hair colour – she is blond on the cover but is a brunette in the story. The witchfinder too looks different – he looks younger and has a fuller face than the craggly gaunt face rendered by Douglas Perry. Still, it is a beautiful, haunting cover.

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A more striking oddity was “Sue’s Daily Dozen” being reprinted over two volumes: “Spellbound” and “Bewitched”. But there was no indication in “Spellbound” to say “to be continued”. Readers must have wondered why the story suddenly stopped abruptly. The remaining pages are devoted to “Tiny Tina”, which is Wee Sue under a revised title. “Cathy’s Casebook” also appears in two volumes: “Cathy’s Crusade” and “Dr Cathy”. But the reprint is even odder in that “Dr Cathy” does not come immediately after “Cathy’s Crusade” – “The Old Mill” is in between them.

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Naturally, some material and panels had to be cut or modified to make the reprints fit into 64-page pocket size volumes. For example, “Moments of Terror”, which reprints “Waves of Fear”, deletes Priscilla Heath and the orienteering club sequences. Both of these played a key role in the resolution of the story in its original run – realising that the panic Clare Harvey had while her friend was drowning in a cave was a claustrophobia attack and not the cowardice that has made her the most hated girl in town. The revelation is now made by Clare’s mother after Rachel tells her about the trick Jean pulled – playing on Clare’s claustrophobia – to get her expelled.

On the other hand, the editing also mercifully reduces some of Clare’s ordeal; for example, the hostility Clare receives from the townsfolk has been removed completely. Some of the bullying at school and the harsh treatment Clare gets from her parents has been deleted as well. The editing is pretty seamless, but there is one glitch: when Clare is pushed to the brink of suicide, she thinks the business at the club was the last straw. With the orienteering club deleted, readers must immediately have wondered “what club?” or “what’s missing here?”. They would know it’s been reprinted from somewhere else because there was always a caption saying “previously published” for the reprint material.

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Cutting out material also had the unfortunate effect of removing key turning points in some plots. For example, the reprint of “Thursday’s Child” removes the scene where an evil flag forces a man to nearly saw his own hand off. Yes, it’s gruesome. But in the original run it was what made the villainess, Julie, who had been using the flag’s power to conduct a revenge campaign against her future mother, Thursday, come to her senses and realise the flag had to be destroyed.

Below is a list of the Girl Picture Libraries, along with their original titles and appearances. The only one that has not been identified is “Penny’s Best Friend” in #8. It could be that this was an original story as not all the Girl Picture Libraries carried reprints, but I need to confirm this.

  1. Patty’s World – original
  2. Dear Diary – Vision of Vanity Fayre from Tammy
  3. Patty’s World – original
  4. The Dolphin Mystery – The Disappearing Dolphin from Jinty
  5. Cathy’s Crusade – Part 1 of Cathy’s Casebook from Jinty
  6. The Old Mill – original
  7. Dr Cathy – Part 2 of Cathy’s Casebook from Jinty
  8. Penny’s Best Friend – ?
  9. Circus Waif – Wild Rose from Jinty
  10. Stormy Seas – original
  11. Moments of Terror – Waves of Fear from Jinty
  12. The Shadow – Mike and Terry from Jinty
  13. Princess Wanted! – The Perfect Princess from Jinty
  14. The Black Sheep – Black Sheep of the Bartons from Jinty
  15. I’ll Never Sing Again! – Nothing to Sing About from Jinty
  16. A Second Chance – My Heart Belongs to Buttons from Jinty
  17. Winner-Loser! – No Medals for Marie from Jinty
  18. Spellbound! – Part 1 of Sue’s Daily Dozen from Jinty, plus A Wee Sue story from Tammy reprinted as Tiny Tina
  19. Bewitched! – Part 2 of Sue’s Daily Dozen from Jinty, plus a Strange Story, “A Monumental Detective” reprinted as “The Crook Catchers”
  20. The Inheritance – Race for a Fortune from Jinty
  21. The Fortune-Teller – Cursed to be a Coward! Jinty
  22. Tina’s Temper – Temper, Temper, Tina! Tammy
  23. Fame and Fortune – Make the Headlines, Hannah! Tammy
  24. Wonder Girl – Betta to Lose from Tammy
  25. The Witchfinder – Shadow on the Fen from Jinty
  26. Sweet and Sour – The Sweet and Sour Rivals from Jinty
  27. Carol in Camelot – Carol in Camelot St from Tammy
  28. The Happiest Days – Tammy
  29. Thursday’s Child – Tammy
  30. A Girl Called Midnight – Tammy

Alison Christie: Interview

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.

Alison Mary Fitt
Alison Mary Fitt, credited in Tammy as Alison Christie

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.]
  • “Daddy’s Darling” (spoilt girl evacuee)
  • “Somewhere over the Rainbow” (This ran for 36 weeks)

 Other Jinty stories

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)

 Tammy serials

  • “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)]
  • [edited to add: “I Must Fall Out With Mary!” published in Mandy in 1986]

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?’