Jody has become evil thanks to an additional spell from the witch Mother Heggerty. She now believes she is capable of anything, regardless of how terrible it is, and is loving every minute of it. How is she going to break free of Mother Heggerty’s power when right now she doesn’t even want to?
Cassy gets even more of a taste of how totalitarian this Land of No Tears is. She learns the Hive Inspector, who’s about to pay a visit, has powers to take you away: “No one knows where to, but you never return!” Shades of the Gestapo! Miranda is terrified she will meet this fate if the Inspector finds out she is secretly seeing her mother, and she breaks off with Cassy. Meanwhile, the ruthless Perfecta breaks off with her own friend to train every waking hour for the Golden Girl Award. Cassy is shocked to see the former bosom pals “walking away from each other like robots!”
Ella bravely sets out to learn to waterski to win the competition for Clem, in the face of everyone who’s against her because they think she deliberately caused Clem’s accident. But her first attempt at waterskiing is such a disaster she’s lucky she didn’t hurt herself.
The same can also be said for sneaky cousin Rodney when he steals Katie’s roller skates to overtake her in the “Race for a Fortune”. But he soon finds he’s nowhere near as good on them as she is. He goes careering down a hill and lands on the back of a rodeo steer with her! Roller skating is back in the hands of the expert by the end of the episode. Thanks to his little stunt she has taken the lead again, and she’s gotten a lot of money out of it as well.
In “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!”, a thief breaks into the school, his first attempt at crime. But his remark that he could become the world’s leading cat burglar really is asking for it with Henrietta around, especially when she’s the first thing he tries to steal. Needless to say, his first attempt at crime is his last by the end of the episode.
In the Gypsy Rose story, Susanna is given a snowstorm and finds it has a tale to tell, with each instalment appearing every time she shakes it. The trouble is, the tale is scaring her to death. Gypsy Rose tells Susanna that she must either follow it through to know how the tale ended or put the snowstorm away. Susanna decides to follow through because she must know (not to mention us readers) what the ending is, but what will the final shake of the snowstorm reveal?
Maggie’s sleazy stepfather shows what an abuser he is when he gets so mad he locks her in the coal shed without food or water. Then he refuses to let her see her TV debut, so she has to go to a TV shop in pouring rain to see it. Maggie has a good mind to tell Miss Keyes about the abuse, but she’s staying quiet because Mum doesn’t want word to get around.
Alley Cat is back. Arch-enemy Spotty Muchloot picks on him for first aid practice, and now poor Alley Cat looks like an oversized cocoon. But can he still turn things around?
Phil finds out the girl she saw being bundled off in the middle of the night is named Carol, and her mother is clearly not telling the truth about things. Phil manages to wheedle Carol’s current address out of the mother, enabling her to write to Carol. Carol’s reply is a coded message for help. The plot thickens!
This is Jinty’s first issue for 1978. It’s not her New Year issue, which took the odd turn of being on the last day of the old year 1977, but there are still New Year themes. We also get a delightful feature about Mark Hamill of Star Wars.
Jinty starts her first story for 1978, “Waking Nightmare”. The nightmare begins when Phil Carey is woken up by toothache and sees a girl being dragged off in the middle of the night. Her parents don’t believe her, and at the house where Phil saw the girl being taken, the mother denies everything – but she does make odd remarks about a secret and trouble she hoped to leave behind. We’re suspicious already.
Sue’s new year’s resolution is to be extra-nice to people, and she urges her fun-bag to hold her to it. But she soon finds her excessive niceness is turning her into a nuisance and now she’s in trouble with a lot of people. We suggest your resolution should just be yourself, Sue.
On the subject of niceness, Mother Heggerty has found the Saxtons and wants revenge on them, but she finds her slave Jody is too nice for that. So she casts an additional spell to make Jody evil. Now why the silly old witch couldn’t have picked an evil girl like Stacey from Jinty’s Slave of Form 3B in the first place we’ll never know, but we’re deeply worried. The spell is bound to make Jody far more evil than any genuinely bad girl we’ve seen in Jinty.
In the Land of No Tears, the cold-hearted residents get a real surprise when the “reject” Gamma Girls beat the odds and are through to the finals of the Golden Girl Award. It should be a victory celebration for Cassy, but security have put the damper on everything by saying they will be sending the Hive Inspector over to make enquiries. And judging from the way Miranda’s mystery mother is reacting, this Inspector is kind of like the Gestapo.
In part two of “Darling Clementine”, Clementine (Clem) is in a coma after some horrible girl knocks her into the river. Worse, her cousin Ella is being accused of it instead, and everyone, including her own Uncle, turns against her. Poor Ella is not even allowed to visit Clem in hospital. Not knowing what else to do, Ella bravely decides to train herself up for the water-ski event that Clem was going to enter.
“Race for a Fortune” takes a spooky turn, but a hilarious one. Katie thinks her cousins’ latest trick is to play Roman ghosts on her at an old barn. So when a pair of glowing Romans does appear, she thinks it’s a huge joke and plays along with it. But she learns later that the glowing Romans weren’t her cousins. In fact, they scared those cheating cousins off. Unfortunately, not right back to the beginning of the race.
The strife over “Two Mothers for Maggie” takes a very bad turn this week. Mum forbade Maggie to go to Miss Keyes’ party, where she could be on the rise as a star. Maggie goes there anyway and soon she is on the rise after saving Miss Keyes’ dog. Then Mum comes along in a terrible temper and drags her out in front of everyone. How embarrassing! And it’s not over. Poor Maggie has to face the wrath of her unfit guardian stepfather next week.
It’s the final part of Jinty’s Christmas mobile. Jinty readers should be feeling more Christmassy now.
In “Land of No Tears”, the mystery of Miranda’s mother deepens, but some things are unravelling about it. Cassy finds out Miranda and her mother are secretly meeting each other, an illegal thing in a world where all emotion and normal human contact are forbidden. One is reminded of the Orwellian “Imagine a boot stamping on the human face – forever.” But who is the woman anyway? Why does she turn up in disguise? And why can’t she come up with a better disguise than a ridiculous wig and heavy makeup that would immediately draw attention and put her secret even more at risk?
Sue asks Henrietta to put a stamp on it – meaning on a letter. But, as is so often the case, Henrietta misunderstands and gives Sue a foot that stamps on anything – and with the force of an elephant.
Katie’s sneaky cousins pull the old signpost switch on her. This causes her to bump into a band of smugglers, and she has to find a way to escape from them. We are informed Katie will get revenge on her cousins next week.
“Stage Fright!” reaches its penultimate episode. The deranged Lady Alice has been blocking Linda and Melanie from acting because she stands to gain Banbury Manor out of it. But upon hearing Linda has foiled her attempt to stop Melanie entering the acting trophy, she decides that if she can’t have the manor, nobody else will. She’s going to burn it down – with Linda locked inside!
In the Gypsy Rose story, Dee also falls foul of a deranged woman who locks her in. The nutty old woman thinks Dee’s her lost daughter Celia, who eloped to marry the man she loved, not the man her mother chose. She does not realise Celia died before she got the chance to reconcile with her. Fortunately Celia’s ghost is on hand to help.
Maggie’s first TV rehearsal is ruined because Mum lumbered her with babysitting. Miss Keyes, her TV mother, is the only bright spot in her life now. Why is it that the make-believe mother she has on the set is far more desirable than the real one who married an unsuitable stepfather?
Mother Heggerty forces Jody to search for the Saxton family she wants revenge on. The search leads Jody to the remains of their old home, and the next step is a spell cast there to find out what happened to them.
Janey goes time travelling to the time of the ancient Celts, where she becomes the chosen one of Epona the horse goddess. In this time period the villagers face a threat, just like the 20th century ones, though the threats are of very different sorts. Is this why Janey keeps seeing this white horse? Is she some sort of chosen one or a reincarnation?
Alley Cat makes a new home in a pipe after Spotty blows up his bin. Spotty sends it rolling downhill, and right where it foils a bank robbery. Alley Cat spends his reward money on a new home that Spotty can’t blow up. Foiled again, Spotty!
Molly Mills: A Cure for Claire – artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon
Wheeler Delia – artist unknown
Have a Heart! – Competition
The Greatest Gift (Strange Story) – artist Douglas Perry
Serfs of the Swamps – artist Douglas Perry
Although this is a September issue, I am bringing it out for Christmas because the Strange Story has a dash of Christmas in it. The story sure is a warning not to take generosity – something to show more of at Christmas – to extremes or come before things that should take priority, like paying the bills. Some of you may wonder if the grandfather deserved the Strange Story rescue, even if he did seem to learn his lesson, and if something up there is going, “All right, this once, but if it happens again…” After all, Dickens frequently commented on the consequences and misery of debt in his stories, and “A Christmas Carol” itself was written to pay off debt. Well, judge for yourselves.
Douglas Perry is drawing this Strange Story while also drawing a serial, “Serfs of the Swamps”. The locals of a hamlet seem to be making Lynn Wake and her marooned classmates work like serfs – and now they are forced to dress like serfs too, in dreadful sack cloth garments. One rather gets the impression these people are out to use the girls as slave labour.
Talking of serfs, Bella is, is usual, being underfed while forced to work like a serf for Aunt Gert and Uncle Jed, who show no mercy for the back injury Bella is trying to recover from. The lack of food makes Bella black out while she’s doing swimming therapy, and because she’s in the water, that’s now put her in terrible danger.
Assistant manager Mrs Mallis isn’t making “Wheeler Delia” work like a serf at the rollerdrome where she works although she dislikes her. Instead, she’s gotten Delia sacked, and when Delia is reinstated she reports Delia to the orphanage for breaking bounds. This prompts Delia to run away from the orphanage and take refuge at the pier, but someone has caught her. And it looks like…guess.
Bessie is always coming up with screwy schemes to get out of schoolwork and exams because she hopeless at schoolwork. This week she pretends her eyesight is ailing. Predictably, food being the sight to behold for Bessie is her undoing and soon everyone “sees” through her.
An Indian doctor claims to have the power to make Mistress Claire walk again – but the moment Claire starts walking, Molly suddenly loses the power of her own legs. Now she’s the one in the wheelchair and Mistress Claire is wheeling her around. What a turnabout! What’s going on? A legal rep believes this weird doctor is behind it and offers to help Molly sue for damages. Lord Stanton’s response is to sack Molly. At least there’s a bright side to this episode: Pickering gets a bite on the nose from a parrot!
Backhand Billie wants to become a top tennis player under her own steam and not because she’s the daughter of a tennis star. Okay, but she has been going about it the wrong way: John McEnroe tactics, nasty tricks, and not being a good loser. She’s now having second thoughts about this, but the damage she’s done is not easy to reverse and she still doesn’t like losing. Miss Ball the academy head now offers to help, with CCTV post mortems of Billie’s playing, but how ready is Billie to take things on board?
Wee Sue goes to a mini-market for cheap sports gear, only to discover the reason it’s so cheap is that the man is a crook who cheats customers with rubbish goods. Ever heard of caveat emptor, Sue? Or if it is too good to be true, it usually is? And get a load of the name of the crook’s mini-market: “Honest Pat Mills’ Mini-Market”! Wonder what Pat Mills thought of the in-joke.
Glenda is now convinced the glossy pages really can work magic after she gets a flash bicycle out of them and her snooty arch-enemy Hillary is seething. But then Mum starts a fire in the fireplace where Glenda has hidden the glossy pages – and all of a sudden the bicycle catches fire. Yikes, what other magic is at work here? Is it that old adage, if it is too good to be true it usually is again?
In this issue, Jinty starts her buildup to Christmas with a four-part Christmas tree mobile. It’s got us thinking about Christmas already, eh? She also starts a four-part feature on how to throw original parties. The first is a Victorian-themed party.
Phil Gascoine’s artwork is taking a break from Jinty. It turns out to be an uncharacteristically long one that lasts well into the new year. His artwork is not seen again in Jinty until July 1978, with “The Changeling“. Now this is puzzling, given that periods between Gascoine serials were usually short in Jinty.
Three new stories start. The first is “Come Into My Parlour”, where Jody Sinclair falls under the spell of an evil witch, Mother Heggerty. The second is “Two Mothers for Maggie”, where Maggie Jones launches on an acting career after nothing but doing chores at home for her sleazy stepfather, only to find herself torn between her real mother and a make-believe mother on the set. The last is “Race for a Fortune”, where Katie McNab really has to get her skates on when her miserly Uncle Ebenezer’s will dictates that the first of his young relatives to reach Yuckiemuckle under their own steam and without money will inherit his fortune. Of course Katie’s rivals Rodney and Caroline are not playing fair or obeying the conditions of the will.
In “Land of No Tears”, Cassy is learning – the hard way – more about the harshness of the dystopian world of the future she has landed in. Perfecta’s idea of teaching Cassy disclipine is to force her to stand under a sub-zero shower for 15 minutes, then says she does the same thing herself for 30 minutes each day. Then Cassy is shocked to see girls who are deemed rejects like herself and relegated to the “inferior” Gamma class to do slave work are not even disabled by our standards. Wearing glasses, having clumsy thumbs or bearing a scar from a childhood accident are enough. What can Cassy do about this? She’s already come up with something to show the Gammas the Alphas are not so perfect: a practical joke on Perfecta to make her lose her temper in front of the Gammas, something Perfecta is not supposed to do because Alphas have to repress their emotions. And boy, is Perfecta steaming! She definitely is not one to joke with. We know Perfecta will make Cassy suffer for this, but Cassy’s plan pay off?
Beryl is a pain in the neck who sometimes appears in “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!”. This week she’s a tattle-tale with a superior attitude. She boasts she always tells the truth. Henrietta decides to take Beryl at her word and put a spell on her to make her always tell the truth – literally. This soon reveals that Beryl is not as perfect or honest as she likes to have everyone think.
The moral of this week’s Gypsy Rose story is to listen if you’re warned about dangers. Kay disobeys her brother Bruce’s warning not to attempt a piece of pot-holing that’s too tricky and advanced for her, and naturally she runs into big trouble. Then she is surprised to get help from the Little People. An additional moral might be to do some research about pot-holing, as none of the pot-holers are wearing helmets.
Janey discovers the council has plans to bulldoze the village and part of White Horse Hill for a motorway. Could this have something to do with why she keeps seeing that white horse when nobody else can?
In “Stage Fright!”, Linda is teaching mute Melanie to be a mime, and she’s got a real talent for it. Then she discovers the frosty Lady Alice is out to crush Melanie’s talent, and she’s done a really good job of turning Melanie against her. But why is Lady Alice doing this anyway? Another mystery to unravel about the Banbury family.
Published: Tammy 27 October 1973 to 23 February 1974
Artist: Douglas Perry
Writer: Pat Mills [edited to add: Mills credits the concept and direction to Gerry Finley-Day]
Translations/reprints: None known
Jen Young comes to the seaside town of Crone-on-Sea, also known as Granny’s Town, to help with her grandfather’s boarding house. It’s a favourite retirement place for old ladies, but so incredibly old-fashioned, with amusements, transport, accommodation and so forth that are decades out of date. Modernism seems to have bypassed it completely, and it looks like nothing ever happens there.
However, Jen soon discovers the grannies in Granny’s Town are operating some kind of secret society/underground movement, and it’s enabling them to run the town all but in name. The movement is led by a granny known only as Her Ladyship.
Under Her Ladyship and her granny army, the only law in town is Granny’s Law. Anyone who treats any granny rudely, crosses them in any way or interferes with them gets swiftly dealt with in mysterious ways and scared into leaving town. Innocuous granny activities such as knitting, embroidery and crochet are used as weapons to frightening effect against such people, such as sending threats or tying them up. And there are so many of them (always men) who cross the grannies. In what appears to be the first attack, which makes front page news in the local paper, a rude train conductor and businessman get tied to lamp posts with wool in a night vigilante attack, and cushions are left behind with a stitched message: “Get out of Granny’s Town”. This first attack strikes at night, but subsequent ones strike in broad daylight. Among them, an uncivil workman who won’t shut down the racket he’s making with his roadworks gets bound and and gagged and locked in a grandfather’s clock, to be near-deafened by its chiming and ordered to get out of town. A new supermarket owner threatens fierce competition against a long-standing store run by dear old Mrs Mullins; the grannies sabotage the supermarket and it soon closes down.
There are danger signals about Granny’s Law. In one case, the grannies stake out a boorish donkey ride man on a lawn but just leave him there, with no release or keeping an eye on him. By the time Jen finds him he’s nearly dead from heatstroke. When Jen tries to investigate further, the grannies seize her, tie her to a peepshow machine, and force her head down into the machine to read a message: “Next time mind your own business, Miss Nosey Parker.” Unlike the others the grannies have forced out, that doesn’t stop Jen or drive her out. But the grannies always keep one step ahead of Jen when she tries to probe their activities.
It’s not just rudeness that brings down the wrath of the grannies. Anyone trying to modernise the old-fashioned town is also targeted. A rude developer wants to turn the movie theatre where the grannies enjoy silent movies into a bingo hall. They tie him up with film and force him to watch silents – with Charlie Chaplin as the movie projector – while tickling him to make him laugh.
Things really heat up when the Mayor wants to enforce modernism on the town, demolish the old-style buildings, and pack off the grannies to old age homes. This brings out the granny fight military style and now they turn into a full-scale army. They send messages in code, such as using their knitting to click out out Morse, march like soldiers, organise councils of war, and rouse to Her Ladyship’s version of Winston Churchill’s famous “We shall never surrender” speech.
Jen notices it’s not just the Mayor’s modernism the grannies are rebelling against. They’re striking against anything modern now, including football, a TV studio and cars, the last of which gets banned and the grannies take delight in the old-style horse and carriage. Things come to a head when the Mayor wants to pull down the pier and build an oil rig. The grannies’ tricks have him resigning in disgrace. After the Mayor resigns, Her Ladyship becomes Mayoress.
Now Her Ladyship is Mayoress, she swiftly becomes a cross between Queen Victoria and Hitler of the whole town. It’s unbelievably easy for her to do so. Everything just seems to turn into a police state in Granny’s Town at Her Ladyship’s command, no protest, no questions asked, no human rights issues raised. Granny’s Law shifts to making it a virtual crime to be young or modern. The grannies’ retaliation changes its focus from punishing those who are rude or abusive to grannies to those who do not support the granny rule. It begins with Her Ladyship throwing a free celebratory party and has Jen sell flags for it. Seems innocuous, but Jen discovers the party is Her Ladyship’s way of identifying anyone at the party who opposes her (by not wearing her flags) and remove them all by having them arrested – on no charge whatsoever: “It’s the orders of the new mayoress!” Jen is the only one shocked at this Gestapo-like action; the grannies just think it’s amusing and say Her Ladyship must have a very good reason for it.
Under Her Ladyship, Granny’s Town is stripped of any remnant of modernity and reduced even further into an old-fashioned pattern that takes it right back to Victorian times. Coal and gaslights replace electricity. People are given Victorian clothes to stay warm after a power cut. Jen soon discovers the power cut is meant to be permanent. The town is mysteriously cut off from the outside world when the trains get blocked and telephone lines non-operational until after the upcoming Granny’s Day celebration. Everyone is trapped in Granny’s Town with these weird going-on. Yet nobody except Jen seems to realise something’s weird about the clock turning back to the 19th century in this town that was old-fashioned to begin with. They treat it as a joke and think what Her Ladyship is doing is just marvellous.
Jen snoops into Her Ladyship’s house and discovers doll-sized dummies of everyone in town, with the doll of Her Ladyship rigged up as queen. She realises that is precisely how Her Ladyship intends to rule Granny’s Town. There can be no doubt it has something to do with the upcoming Granny’s Day celebration.
Jen soon discovers the dolls have another purpose – a means of terrorising people who still pose a threat to Her Ladyship. She walks into a store to get something trendy to replace her Victorian dress. The shop assistant, initially happy to help, receives the doll of himself from Her Ladyship’s house, now broken, and a note: “Greetings to you on Granny’s Day.” He screams they’re going to get him, he can’t serve Jen after all, and shuts up his shop fast. Later, Jen receives a package: it’s her own doll, now broken, and the same message. Now she really knows Her Ladyship is gunning for her. It looks like the granny retaliation, served in an underground way before, is becoming more open now the grannies are in charge.
The elderly Misses Charity, Hope and Faith are regulars at granddad’s boarding house and have been friendly with Jen from the beginning. They are present when Jen receives the broken doll. She decides to take a chance and tell them what she’s discovered, and hope her trust is not misplaced. They give some indication they might help.
Granny’s Day is a grand celebration, with only Jen seeing the grannies lined up like an army. It is announced that Her Ladyship is going to demolish houses in certain roads as part of a new town planning scheme. Everyone, including Jen, thinks it’s just innocuous slum clearance and old houses going. Then men in terrifying oversized masks start chasing Jen. Nobody but Jen realises they are there to terrorise her; they think it’s part of the fun.
Jen takes refuge from her pursuers in the town hall. There she finds a model of Granny’s Town, with all the dolls of the young people in town being thrown in a box and only the granny dolls on the model. Later, Jen discovers what it means and what the town planning scheme is really about: Her Ladyship has condemned all the modern buildings, just to evict the young people in them and force them to leave town, and make Crone-on-Sea the exclusive reserve of the grannies. The young people just seem to leave their homes and the town without a murmur of protest.
Misses Hope, Charity and Faith then seize Jen and say she’s coming with them. It looks like her trust in them was misplaced. She gives them the slip and disguises herself as a granny, but then it starts to rain heavily, washing off her makeup. She is discovered and taken to Her Ladyship. Her Ladyship is now on a virtual throne in the town hall. The only thing missing is the crown she wore in her model. She is now so powerful that all the grannies are under her control and doing everything she says, and she even has spies everywhere.
She has Jen locked up to be dealt with later. While in her cell, Jen sees the rain turn into a thunderstorm. It gets so bad it weakens the sea wall, which threatens to flood the town. Misses Hope, Charity and Faith rescue Jen from her cell, saying they were secretly trying to help earlier without being detected. They realise “[Her Ladyship’s] a little silly and has to be stopped”.
The sea wall is now cracking really badly and the water’s pouring in, but the grannies are too old and frail to do anything. There are no young people to help and no telephone to call for help, thanks to Her Ladyship. Jen starts a fire (in torrential rain!) to start a beacon that will hopefully alert the evicted people in the next town. It works, and the young and old forget their differences while they start sandbagging to stop up the wall. Jen is hit by a falling tree and knocked unconscious.
When Jen wakes up, the town is safe and the granny rule has been dismantled. Her Ladyship fled in a hot air balloon during the storm, not to be seen again. The grannies have learned from the flooding business that they can’t live on their own and need young people. The young people are back and reconciled with the grannies. Everything is forgiven, but Jen knows she will never forget the days of Granny’s Law.
In girls’ comics, one constant message has been to never underestimate a granny, whether good or evil. This message has been seen in so many stories, including Pam of Pond Hill.
These grannies don’t just have the monopoly in Granny’s Town – they have it in the entire story itself as well. It’s always grannies in the story; grandpas never feature in Her Ladyship’s movement or on the plans for Granny’s Town. The dolls on the model are all grannies – no grandpas. In fact, the only gramps in the story is Jen’s grandfather, and even he barely appears in it. Again, it’s always a girls’ world in girls’ comics.
This story is making a particularly strong statement about ageism and Grey Power. Only it’s not doing it in a positive light, and the grannies, although they believe they are rightly striking back at abusers and threats to their old-fashioned livestyle, are not portrayed as the heroes of the story. In a humour serial, the direction the story could have taken, the granny movement would provide the readers with loads of laughs. We would all cheer the grannies on in giving these nasty types their just desserts. Instead, we all feel uneasy and creeped out about the whole thing because that’s the way Jen feels about it all. Though there is some humour to the way these nasty types are punished, it’s perverse humour and we are not laughing. There is nothing funny about being their being forced out of town by the grannies, just for one act of callousness. It’s vigilantism, and vigilantism can be very dangerous. Indeed, in several instances it does get dangerous and goes too far, such when the staked-out man nearly dies in the heat or Jen gets tied to the peepshow machine.
Grannies are not normally people to be scared of, but you do get the creeps from these grannies and whatever they might be up to next, beginning with Her Ladyship. Her Ladyship gives Jen the chills right from the start. She never gives her name (“prefers to remain anonymous”) and never shows her face; she’s always veiled and she favours dark clothing. She’s also drawn at angles and distances that give the impression she operates at a distance and from the shadows. When she becomes Mayoress she switches from the veil to dark glasses that she never takes off, giving her a Mafia look. From the beginning to the end she never shows her face or gives her name, which makes her even more chilling.
To make the grannies even more frightening, they remain unseen each time they strike, so we never know just who is behind the attack and it’s hard for the victim to prove anything. Panels only show groping hands reaching out to pull a trick, utensils (feather dusters, canes, hatpins, scarfs, etc) being applied to victims, the threats the grannies leave behind, and the odd clue Jen finds. Compounding the terror is that the grannies are so crafty in what they do that they always keep one step ahead and win every time. However much people really know about what’s going on, nobody does anything. After all, they are old ladies, and it’s a hard thing to rise up against old ladies. All the same, nobody has any backbone. One attack from the grannies and they run scared from town – except Jen of course.
When the Mayor starts his campaign to modernise the town, the story goes in a vast change of direction. Up until this point it was episodic, with an unsavoury type getting a mysterious comeuppance at granny hands each week and driven out of town. Now the story structure switches to a full-scale story arc, with the grannies shifting from an underground movement to moving out more openly as an army and a political force that rises up to take over the town completely, with nobody but Jen realising.
As the granny takeover unfolds, we wonder if Pat Mills was reading up on how Nazism came to power in Germany and why Hitler held such sway over the German people. We can definitely see the parallels. As with Hitler and Nazism, the granny movement starts off well and seems to be well intentioned; Her Ladyship does things that makes her extremely popular with her followers, just as as Hitler did with the Germans when he came to power. To her followers, Her Ladyship offers great benefits that are everything they could want and address their needs. It makes them feel like somebody, improves their lives, gives them great power, and shows everyone what Grey Power’s about. Nobody is able to touch them, and anyone who crosses them is always removed quickly, and serve them right too. As with the rise of Nazism, most people watching it all think it’s no big deal, serves good, and will benefit its subjects. At worst, the non-granny residents think it’s “a bit barmy”, but for the most part they just laugh at it. After all, these are just old biddies running the show. What harm can they do? Anyway, it’s to be expected they might be a bit dotty. As for this sudden turnback to Victorian times, aww, how quaint and nostalgic it is, the good old days are here again. Those who see the dark side of it (whether Jen or Winston Churchill) are voices crying in the wilderness.
As with Nazi Germany, the dark side of it is how extreme it becomes and targets those who do not fit into its ideals because the person leading it all (whether Her Ladyship or Hitler) is a fanatical dictator. But nobody but an isolated few can see what a dangerous fanatic that leader is and the extremes they are capable of for their ideals, because it’s veiled as something that serves good and benefits those who follow it. Even Jen does not understand just how fanatical Her Ladyship is until she sees the models, and realises Her Ladyship is a crazy woman who is out to rule like Queen Victoria of the town and have her very own Victorian kingdom with all her granny subjects.
The extreme led by this power-hungry fanatic is making the town exclusively granny and old-fashioned, to the exclusion of all those who are neither. Under her rule, everything in town must be how it was in the good old days, from architecture to transport. It becomes a crime to be young or modern, just as it became a crime to be non-Aryan, anti-Nazi or Jew in Nazi Germany. You don’t even have to be rude to a granny anymore to become a target of their retaliation. Simply not supporting the granny movement or not being able to do so makes you a target. Nobody but Jen seems to realise what’s going on, either because they don’t take it seriously or are blind to it. If anyone does realise it, they are likely to be too scared to speak out. Nobody puts up any fight or protest. The young people who have their perfectly sound houses condemned for no good reason just leave. There’s no picketing, demonstrations or marches on the town hall. The mod shop man just shuts up shop in terror after receiving the doll threat. The police arrest people who don’t support grannies at the party without charge or crime, because Her Ladyship ordered it. There are no human rights for anyone who isn’t a granny, but not a word is said about it. Her Ladyship has spies all over. Granny’s Town is turning into a police state right under everyone’s noses, and nobody but Jen realises. Had the storm not cut Her Ladyship’s reign short, we can just see it escalating into a reign of corruption, greed and terror for even her own subjects. Had the story been taken further, there can be little doubt Her Ladyship’s rule would have gone down this path.
Girls’ comics have shown time and time again that when things are taken to extremes they inevitably lead to disaster and threaten self-destruction. You must learn the lessons of moderation, tolerance, and understanding that your way is not everything. This is what the grannies learn the hard way when the flood makes them realise that granny rule to the exclusion of the young is ultimately doomed to failure and destroy itself. They cannot survive on their own and need young people for things they cannot do themselves because they are too old to do it. They also need severe reminding that they were once young themselves and these young people will in turn be old people someday. Old and young must live side by side in Granny’s Town, which they do happily once Her Ladyship is gone and the emergency made them forget their differences.
Further thoughts from Pat Mills
Pat Mills added via Twitter: “Gerry was inspired by Arsenic and Old Lace and possibly similar films. He gave me the story but because it was ‘his baby’, I did an okay job, rather than something more. Readers liked it okay, but weird mysteries were never as popular as ‘Cinderella’ stories. Great art.”
In part two of “Go on, Hate Me!”, Carol dies in hospital, and her last words to Hetty are to win a race at their athletics club. But now we begin to see what the title’s about: Carol’s sister Jo wrongly blames Hetty for Carol’s death and she’s turning everyone at the club against her.
Ruth Lee has vowed to get back the family horse, Captain, who has been sold as part of a rough eviction. Her gran has passed, and her dying words were “take care of the big cat”. Now what’s that about? This week “The Big Cat” makes its appearance: a circus cheetah!
Sue has figured out there’s something about her new handbag, which she has named Henrietta. Whenever she puts something in it, something strange – and hilarious – happens…
Of late, Stefa’s efforts to turn her heart into stone have been really laughable. She runs away from home but can’t part herself from her precious statue – so she takes it with her on a wheelbarrow! Needless to say, that soon gets her tracked down. Now she’s sleeping on the lawn beside her statue rather than in the same bedroom as Ruth – even though she damn well knows it’s cold outside. She wakes up soaking wet and shivering from the dew, the silly girl. Then Stefa is taken aback to discover that Ruth has suffered an even greater loss than hers – three family members, yet Ruth is taking it far better and more bravely than Stefa is with just one loss. Will this finally melt that stubborn, stony heart of hers? It’s certainly time enough.
In “Is This Your Story?”, Georgie Jones has a very bad temper and flies off the handle like nobody’s business, and her classmates suffer for it. They give her a day in Coventry to drive the point home that she must work on her temper. After that, Georgie counts to ten more when she feels her temper rising.
The title “Rose among the Thornes” takes an unexpected twist in this week’s final episode: Rose and the Thornes work together to stop a cylinder containing poison from releasing its deadly contents. Then the Thornes beat a fast exit from the village once people begin to realise what they’ve been up to, so our Rose is now Thorne-less. Let’s just hope the Thornes don’t get up to the same tricks elsewhere.
In “Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud”, Maud is learning to ice-skate at the posh finishing school, but an employee named Georges has realised she’s not Lady Daisy De Vere. And from the looks of things, he’s going to pull blackmail on her. Meanwhile, the real Daisy, mistaken for a servant, is trying to escape from the cruel household she’s landed up in. After several failed attempts at escape she’s now going for the extremely dangerous one that’s been on hold for some time – climb the household chimney!
Gertie Grit visits the court of King Arthur this week. Caractacus declares a wizards’ strike to demand Gertie back, so Merlin can’t intervene when arch-enemy Mordred marches on Camelot. Gertie tries her own hand at wizardry to help King Arthur win, but instead of her messing things up as usual, Caractacus sabotages her efforts.
After escaping from the bubble Helen has reached home – only to find another girl in her place. And her parents call this girl Helen too! Miss Vaal informs Dad that our Helen has escaped from the bubble, but he isn’t saying a word to Mum. In fact, he doesn’t even want Mum to see our Helen. Weirder and weirder! Then Mum really does spot our Helen. What will her reaction be?
We’ve heard of concrete shoes, but this is ridiculous – Alley Cat lands his feet in two buckets of wet cement and they get stuck. Fortunately he manages to make use of it, but we think it would be a good idea if he can get his feet back by next week.
“Heap big Injun trouble for Gertie Grit” says the cover. Heap big trouble for the Injuns more like, knowing our Gertie. Sure enough, she unwittingly causes another historical catastrophe, which in this case is Custer’s Last Stand. And it’s all because Custer put her on KP duty.
“Jassy’s Wand of Power” and “Sisters at War!” both end this week. The drought breaks when the power plant that’s causing it is shut down. Blimey, it’s been so long since a rainfall that Jassy’s little friend Mark doesn’t even realise what it is when it finally falls! Well, Jassy can retire her water-divining rod now. Story artist Keith Robson moves on to a new serial next week. Meanwhile, the sisters are still at war with constant arguing, but their uncle has decided he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Another story ended last issue, but nothing new starts this week. Instead, we have a full page informing us that three stories start next week. We just love it when we have a nice big run of several stories starting at once.
Meanwhile, poor Daisy has to do ironing with a broken bone in her hand (and it doesn’t look like that hand is getting any medical attention – ooh, that horrible household!). But Daisy finds a way to get the ironing done despite her hand and is surprised to be rewarded with a cat brooch. Unfortunately the other servants are still mean to her, and that brooch has made them jealous too. If only Daisy could see what Maud has learned about dealing with nasty types who bully servants – throw water all over them.
In “Is This Your Story?”, Freda has a bad habit of telling lies, but she gets caught out when she tries to pull a fast one over her teacher. She spends a horrible weekend dreading what punishment awaits her on Monday, which could be expulsion. What is teach going to do?
Ouch! Rose gets a faceful of stings while foiling the Thornes’ latest scheme this week. Gran’s herbal remedies sort out the stings, but then the bryony blooms – which is a warning of disaster. Sounds like the story is about to reach its climax.
Groan…not even Stefa’s own birthday softens her “heart of stone”. She throws all the presents she gets in the faces of everyone who gave them to her. Stefa, the day will come when you look back on this birthday with deep regret. Later in the episode, Stefa finds it’s going to be a lot harder to steer clear of Ruth – her parents are inviting Ruth over to their house and going to parents’ night to see her work. Stefa thinks it’s a cheek; she is their daughter, not Ruth. Huh, considering the way you’re carrying on with your folks, you’re the one who’s got a cheek, Stefa!
Helen manages to break free of Miss Vaal and shut her in the bubble for a change. On the advice of her teacher she goes home to tell her parents what’s going on. The very parents who never once visited her while she was in the bubble, come to think of it.
Alley Cat borrows a library book on how to “nab nosh”, but everything backfires and he ends up having to exchange it for a first aid book.
In Jinty’s fireworks issue for 1976, Gertie Grit does the honours when her time-travelling gets her caught up in the Gunpowder Plot itself (below). Funny – the biggest fireworks of this historical event seem to come from Druid Caractacus.
Gertie isn’t the only one in the issue getting a taste of the Tower of London. That’s where Jassy is about to be sent to as well. It’s the fate of all those who claim to have psychic ability in this drought-stricken story.
The Thornes’ latest trick is play “ghost” to get their hands on the magistrate’s property, but Rose’s gran turns the tables by scaring the Thornes with the same ruse. Halloween was last week, you Thornes!
Ruth finds out the reason for “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” and starts a “Melt Stefa” campaign with her classmates to soften it. But from the looks of things, not even global warming would “melt Stefa”. However, jealousy is proving more effective; Stefa gets her nose put out of joint when her parents start treating Ruth like their very own daughter.
Mandy in this week’s “Is This Your Story?” doesn’t want to share her brother with a girlfriend. She breaks them up, but her brother’s reaction isn’t what she expected. Her conscience pricks up and she gets them back together.
In “Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud”, Maud finds a friend in a servant at the finishing school while Daisy can’t in the cruel household she has ended up in. The household is on holiday in the country and Daisy seizes another chance to escape. Unfortunately they catch up (again), and Daisy breaks a bone in her hand in the process. And nobody, not even the servants, has an ounce of sympathy for her there. Rather, they all laugh at what great sport it’s been chasing her.
“Champion in Hiding” ends this week. It turns out nasty Aunt Shirley and Mrs Blackmoor were in cahoots to stop Mitzi and Firefly from winning the dog championship, but win they do. Mrs Blackmoor’s furious and won’t pay Aunt Shirley because she failed, so Aunt Shirley is punished by ending up with nothing.
Helen’s back in the bubble and the sinister Miss Vaal manages to forestall Helen’s art teacher when she makes enquiries into what’s going on. Then Helen makes a bold move with the black book she stole from Miss Vaal to help her make a rush for freedom. Will it work?
In “Sisters at War!”, Uncle Jason runs away from hospital and camps out in hiding although he’s not well. Mum is furious when she finds out Sue has been helping to hide him though she knows about his condition.
Spotty Muchloot and Alley Cat have another battle, this time with toffee. Well, we always knew Spotty was stuck-up.
In this issue one of Jinty’s most enduring stories, “Guardian of White Horse Hill”, starts. Janey still gets nightmares of her parents’ death and clings to her teddy. This makes things difficult when she gets fostered out and she gets off to a bad start. Things look up when a beautiful white horse appears and Janey offers it an apple. Then it just seems to disappear…like a ghost. There’s not a trace of it or hoofmarks.
Alley Cat is pursuing apples too, from Spotty Muchloot’s orchard. Spotty goes to extreme measures to deal with Alley Cat – chop down the apple trees. Dad is very angry to find his entire orchard has been felled.
This week’s Gypsy Rose story is a weird one to make sense of, and the protagonist in the story is clearly having a hard time making sense of it too. She’s an air stewardess who has a vision of an Indian boy named Rajan walking right off the plane in mid-flight. Nobody has any record of Rajan even being on board, yet she has a carved elephant he gave her. She asks Gypsy Rose for help, and they find Rajan was in hospital at the time of the flight. But yes, that’s definitely the carved elephant he made in woodwork class. He was going to give it to her on the flight. He thought it got lost in the fire that put him in hospital, but there it is in her possession. Okay, you confused yet? Nobody but Gypsy Rose seems to understand it.
Destiny Brown has seventh sight, yet she never seems to foresee how to keep out of trouble. She has gone in search of her father, who has been accused of bank robbery. She camps out for the night at a funfair but gets caught. What are they going to do with her?
Sue’s got problems with seeing through a microscope and calls on Henrietta for help with a “see through” spell. Unfortunately the spell gets skewed because Henrietta wasn’t on the ball, with hilarious hijinks. Fortunately everything works out in the end for all those who got caught up in it.
Goose girl Glenda enters a wildlife poster competition, using her beloved goose as a model. Bird-hating Mum foils her again, but Glenda’s not wasting the poster – she’s using it to demonstrate against the local goose-hunting. However, she is not getting any support – except for the geese behind her.
In “Stage Fright!”, Linda finds out why someone is gunning for her – Lord Banbury is leaving his mansion to her on condition she win the acting trophy that has been in the Banbury family for three generations. Everything points to Lady Alice being her enemy – but is she? Then Linda gets locked in. Her enemy again?
“Fran’ll Fix It” fixes a burglar posing as a policeman. But she could do something to fix things up for the poor gardener – she keeps accidentally dropping plaster casts on his head.
In “Cursed to be a Coward!”, the crazed Madam Leo almost drowns Marnie and gets away with it because the police won’t listen to Marnie. Cousin Babs suggests confrontation time with Madam Leo, so she and Marnie go together. There’s a real face-off starting. How will it work out?