Tag Archives: Phil Gascoine

Tammy turns 12: 5 February 1983

Tammy 5 February 1983

Cover artist: John Armstrong

  • Romy’s Return (artist Juliana Buch, writer Charles Herring)
  • ET Estate (artist Guy Peeters, writer Jake Adams)
  • Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)
  • Bridge of Heart’s Desire (artist Trini Tinturé) – complete story
  • In the Fourth at Trebizon (artist Diane Gabbot, writer Anne Digby) – first episode
  • The Witch Wind (artist Hugo D’Adderio) – complete story
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Nanny Young (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Cuckoo in the Nest (artist Tony Coleman, writer Ian Mennell)
  • Step Lively! (feature)

Tammy turns 12 this issue, and Bella is flying high on the cover to celebrate. Only the cover celebrates Tammy’s 12th birthday though; there isn’t so much as a competition inside to commemorate. This was Tammy’s last birthday issue. She did turn 13 (which was indeed an unlucky year for her, what with her untimely disappearance from a strike), but did not celebrate it.

What is perhaps given even more commemoration is the start of a new Trebizon adaptation. Anne Digby was one of Tammy’s best writers; her best-remembered story was “Olympia Jones”. So it is not surprising that Tammy ran several adaptations of Digby’s books.

Tammy reprints two Strange Stories as complete stories, replacing the Storyteller with less appealing text boxes. “Bridge of Heart’s Desire” appeared in June and was reprinted in Jinty as a Gypsy Rose story. A Jinty reader wrote in to say her school adapted the story for a play and the teacher was very impressed. Now it appears in Tammy, but not as a Strange Story per se. Liu is upset because the Mandarin won’t let her marry her betrothed. She is told to make a wish to marry her betrothed while crossing the Bridge of Heart’s Desire, but must not speak until she is across or there will be no wish. Does the wish get granted? In a very convoluted and surprising way it is, due to Liu indeed not speaking while on the bridge.

The other story, “The Witch Wind” has an infuriating mixed message about the persecution of suspected witches. It starts out with Widow Dorrity being accused of raising storms to wreck ships, using a magical device known as a witch rope. A lynch mob goes to Dorrity’s house while Sal, who has been raised to scorn such superstitions, tries to warn her. However, Dorrity says she’s too old to run and passes on her witch rope to Sal for safekeeping. So it seems Dorrity really does have the power the mob accused her of, yet Tammy still calls her an “unfortunate old woman” for being burned alive in her own house by the mob. As for the witch rope, it eventually destroys the Spanish Armada in 1588 – something Dorrity herself seemed to prophesise to Sal.

Bella’s in a Muslim country teaching gymnastics to royal princesses. Not surprisingly, this is offending conservative Muslims, the Queen among them. The Queen does not realise her brother Suliemen is taking advantage her opposition to Westernisation to overthrow her husband and make himself the Shah. As part of his plan he has framed Bella for stealing the sacred “Tears of the Prophet”, and this week Bella nearly walks into his trap to plant them directly on her.

The formula where a girl plays dirty tricks on a friend to keep her in the background and herself in the limelight has been used less often at IPC than DCT, but “Romy’s Return” is one of the cases where it has been. This is the penultimate episode of it all, where it looks like Linda’s tricks to sabotage Romy have pushed Romy to breaking point. She snaps and starts doing things she shouldn’t have and gets into terrible trouble at school. Then Linda hears a bombshell from Romy’s father that has her realise that her sabotage may have been far more damaging than she thought.

In “E.T. Estate”, the aliens try to silence Jenny when she tries to tell everyone that there are alien doubles taking over the estate. They needn’t have bothered; nobody’s listening and they just think Jenny’s crazy. As it is, the aliens’ attack puts Jenny in hospital.

Tess just won’t stop boasting about her synchro swimming. It’s not only getting on everyone’s nerves; it also costs her the allies who had helped her to get into the swim baths after the manager wrongly banned Pond Hill pupils for vandalism.

In Nanny’s latest job, her employer, the Honourable Lady Louise Fanshawe, could lose the estate she means to pass on to her great-niece, Matilda, because of mounting debts. She managed to stave off her creditors with a “poor old dying woman” act, but by the end of the episode it looks like they are still in danger of losing the estate.

“Cuckoo in the Nest” is one of the most bonkers stories ever to appear in girls’ comics. The protagonist is a boy! Moreover, Leslie (that’s his name) is a boy who has to disguise himself as a girl (how many times have you seen that in girls’ comics?). It’s for the sake of his uncle, who is trying to cover up that he used funds an aunt sent for boarding school fees to treat Leslie instead. To make things even more complicated, the aunt had the mistaken belief that her nephew was a niece and the school was for girls. Hence the (not very good) girl’s disguise, which the nosy Sarah Mullins discovered when the school broke up for holidays. Fortunately a measles quarantine has delayed Sarah’s return to school where she is just dying to tell everyone about their having a boy disguised as a girl. But of course the quarantine won’t last forever.

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Tammy 9 April 1983

Tammy 9 April 1983

Cover artist: Santiago Hernandez

  • The Secret of Angel Smith (artist Juliana Buch, writer Jay Over)
  • It’s a Dog’s Life (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, (sub)writer Ian Mennell)
  • Spring into Summer! (artist Joe Collins, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Nanny Young (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Tom Newland)
  • Princess and the Bear (artist Hugo D’Adderio, writer Chris Harris)
  • Pair Up for ‘Champions All’! – gymnastics freebie
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • ET Estate (artist Guy Peeters, writer Jake Adams)
  • Take-Away Fashion for Spring – feature

 

Tammy’s spring issue for 1983 immediately follows her Easter issue. It merits inclusion in our spread of Tammy Easter issues because of its colourful cheery cover, which is a very Easter-like cover with those cute little chicks and field full of daisies. It looks like one of the chicks is about to find out that bees are not for eating, though! Tammy also has a spring quiz. When she ran credits, we learnt it was Maureen Spurgeon who wrote the quizzes. She might have written Jinty’s quizzes too.

“It’s a Dog’s Life” and “E.T. Estate” are on their penultimate episodes. When Rowan runs away from the bullying with Riley, she finds the refuge she was aiming for is no longer available, and there’s nowhere else to go. Of course it is not long before the police catch up. It looks like back to the bullying for Riley and Rowan – or maybe not, as the final episode is next week. Meanwhile, other policemen are called in to investigate the goings-on at ET Estate, but the aliens quickly get rid of them with their hypnotic powers. Jenny and Dora are still tied up. Can nothing stop the aliens’ pod from reaching maturity? If it does, it will spell doom for all life on Earth, including the human race.

Abby, getting nowhere with her father over what she knows about “The Secret of Angel Smith” because he’s been led to believe it’s jealousy, decides to play Angel at her own game and act ruthless to get what she wants. Her plan is to force Dad to watch her on the trapeze and let her into the act – but then the trapeze snaps and Abby looks badly injured from the fall! Could Dad’s fears about losing Abby the way he lost his wife (from a trapeze fall) be prophetic after all?

This week’s Button Box tale is a sad, cautionary tale about seeking revenge without getting your facts straight first. So many revenge-seekers in girls’ comics have found out they had persecuted innocent people because they had misjudged them (or had been misled about them). And the girl in the tale (Ann Freeman) suffers for her error far more than they do. She has spent a whole year in shame, tears and guilt, and too ashamed to even write to the girl – her best friend – whom she had hurt so badly in her mistaken revenge. But it doesn’t sound like she has owned up or apologised to her friend, which is the first true step in the healing.

Bella discovers her Uncle Jed’s trick over the gym he had her believe he was renting for her when the gym owner finds her and kicks her out. (Oh, come on, Bella, you really should know have known better!) Sure enough, it was another of Jed’s schemes to make money out of Bella. Now there is a new mystery over the woman who owns the gym – she wears a mask. Bella is drawn back to her, and discovers the mysterious masked lady is a brilliant gymnast.

Nanny is still having problems over Barbara, who is jealous over her new baby brother because it seems that he’s stealing all attention from her. At least Nanny now fully understands the problem.

This week’s complete story is a cautionary tale about showing consideration to both animals and people. The officers of the Second Hussars do not heed Princess Elena’s advice to treat their soldiers considerately, as she does with the mascot bear that they mistreat. The soldiers mutiny in protest of their treatment, and when they take Elena prisoner, the bear repays her kindness by helping her escape.

In the new Pond Hill story, Goofy enters a film competition that requires a short documentary about your school. A film about Pond Hill? Now that sounds even more dramatic and problematic than a soap opera! Yep, it sure is. Goofy finds that even the stern Mr Gold goes gaga when he is in front of the camera!

Tammy 2 April 1983

Tammy 2 April 1983

Cover artist: Santiago Hernandez

  • The Secret of Angel Smith (artist Juliana Buch, writer Jay Over)
  • It’s a Dog’s Life (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Alison Christie)
  • Strawberry Delight! Competition
  • Nanny Young (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Tom Newland)
  • The Crayzees (artist Joe Collins)
  • Thief by Night (artist Eduardo Feito) – complete story
  • Easter Bonnets – feature
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • ET Estate (artist Guy Peeters, writer Jake Adams)

The cover of this Tammy Easter issue has always had me craving for a yummy Easter egg.

But anyway, Wee Sue, Bessie Bunter and even the Storyteller have been dropped by this stage, so how does the issue commemorate Easter? There is a feature on how to make an Easter bonnet, Easter jokes, and Easter hijinks with the Crayzees. Miss T tries a spell to enlarge Easter eggs and thinks she’s succeeded, but finds that what she has really done is shrink herself and Edie so the Easter eggs just look big to them. And when she tries to reverse a spell, she ends up turning herself and Edie into giants, so now the eggs look like mini eggs to them.

You’d think there would be an Easter tale somewhere in “The Button Box”. Instead, it’s shades of “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” with the tale of “ ‘Tough Nut’ Tara”. New girl Tara is a hard case who snubs all offers of friendship. But when it’s her birthday she gives in. She admits to Bev that, like Stefa, she reacted badly to grief and tried to harden her heart so she would not be hurt that way again, but now she realises her mistake. Thank goodness tough nut Tara was not as hard to crack as Stefa!

The complete story slot could have been used for an Easter story. Instead, it’s a reprint of a Strange Story. By this time Tammy was running reprints of Strange Stories, but the Storyteller has been replaced with text boxes.

In the serials, Abby Fox can’t help but be jealous of Angel Smith, the girl who wants to enter the family’s trapeze act while Abby is excluded because Dad does not want to lose her the way he lost her mother. Now Abby suspects “The Secret of Angel Smith”, whatever that is, and Stalky the clown could help her there. But Stalky has oddly clammed up and Abby thinks it’s because the circus boss has been at him over it.

In “It’s a Dog’s Life”, Rowan Small is bullied in the children’s home, and the bullying she gets shares some parallels with the ill-treatment Riley the dog gets next door. Both Riley and Rowan have been making progress in striking back at their abusers, but this week the bullies bring in reinforcements, which trebles the bullying for both of them. Rowan decides it’s time to run away – with Riley in tow, of course.

Bella is so badly out of training that she has to go through the basic tests to get back into gymnastics. It’s a bit of a come-down for an ex-champion like her, but at least she gets through. But Bella should have known better than to believe her devious Uncle Jed would have genuinely been hiring the private gym he found for her. And in the final panel it looks like she is about to find out the hard way…

Nanny Young is in charge of a baby this time, and there are suspicious signs that his older sister Barbara is jealous of him. Nanny tries to reach out to Barbara while looking for the solution, but so far it’s evasive.

The current Pam of Pond Hill story concludes this week. Fortune-seekers have been out to steal Goofy’s inheritance from his great-aunt, which they believe is hidden in the doll’s house that was bequeathed to him. They tear the doll’s house to pieces to find it and leave in haste when they turn up empty. It turns out they didn’t look hard enough.

In “ET Estate”, the alien invaders finally catch up with Jenny and Dora. They hold them prisoner while explaining the next stage of their plan – which will make all life (humans included) on Earth extinct, just to keep them fed!

 

Princess II, #26, 17 March 1984

Princess cover 26

  • The Secret Swimmer (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • The Dream House (artist Mike White)
  • Rusty, Remember Me (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Day and Knight (artist Juliana Buch)
  • Are You a Teacher’s Pet? (quiz)
  • Flight from the Romanys (artist Maria Dembilio)
  • Fun Fair – puzzles
  • Horse from the Sea (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • The Haunted Station (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)

 

The merge into Tammy is in three weeks, so how does this issue contribute towards the merger? “The Dream House” has a double episode, it looks like “Flight from the Romanys” is getting close to finishing, but “The Secret Swimmer”, “The Haunted Station”, “Rusty, Remember Me” and “Day and Knight” are on their second episodes. And anyone familiar with the original run of “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” knows it still has a long way to go.

Liza now becomes “The Secret Swimmer” and secretly training for the event Nikki is now out of, because she feels it is the only way to get the girls to talk to her again after wrongly blaming her for Nikki’s accident. But getting up at early hours for training and pushing herself too much are beginning to take their toll.

Mr Day is pushing headlong into his new marriage with Carrie Knight’s mother, despite protests from his daughter Sharon that Carrie is bullying her. Dad is not listening and Carrie is very good at pulling the wool over his eyes. And now Carrie is causing another heartbreak for Sharon – she has to rehome her beloved cat Monk because of Carrie’s asthma.

In “Stefa’s Heart of Stone”, Dad’s job is on the line because of Stefa’s tricks to dodge Ruth, Joy’s look-alike at school. Stefa gets no sleep because her heart of stone is struggling against her guilty conscience. But conscience does not win, and neither does common sense. By the final panel it looks like Stefa will indeed get Dad sacked because of her wanting to avoid Ruth.

Donna Jones needs a vet for the injured fox cub, now named Rusty, but money is a problem. And there is another problem – animals aren’t allowed in their flat, and the caretaker is not the sort who would understand the situation.

Jan Dale is becoming more convinced that the doll’s house is evil and taking away the elder members of the family she is working for. Now Diana, the eldest daughter, has disappeared like the parents, but the two youngest kids seem to be helping it.

Lydia Parks, who has only just escaped from the gypsies who kidnapped her, now has to escape from a workhouse. She finally does, but it’s now more urgent than ever to get home, because her sick friend at the workhouse badly needs help.

In “Horse from the Sea”, Janice and Tracey Penrose discover a rift in the Penrose family that stems from when Charles Penrose blamed his father for a mining accident because the old miser was cutting corners at the expense of safety. It would not be surprising if Janice’s stepfather was descended from the old meanie, because it looks like he’s deliberately keeping Janice an invalid so she won’t inherit, and committing other fraud too.

“The Haunted Station” is more like a time travel device. It has already sent Linda Brent and Wendy Smith to the 1930s, where they get entangled with a frightened girl who is being chased by someone. Now it looks like it’s about to send them back to the 1930s again.

Princess Bee wants to go riding – and so does Grovel. He ends up regretting it because Princess Bee uses him for her mount after he messes things up (below).

Sadie in waiting riding
Horse hijinks, “Sadie in Waiting”, Princess II, 17 March 1984

Jinty and Penny 7 March 1981

Jinty cover 7 March 1981

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Ghost Dancer (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Farah’s Three Wishes (artist Hugo D’Adderio) – Gypsy Rose story
  • Just the Job – feature with Leo Sayers and Rod Stewart – first episode
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
  • No Medals for Marie (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Alison Christie)
  • Winning Ways 47 (writer Benita Brown)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

This week’s sports cover has Mario Capaldi drawing gymnastics, a sport we seldom see him depicting in girls’ comics. “Just the Job” replaces “Behind the Screen” this week, and its job is to inform us what’s behind the world of pop music. Alley Cat takes the spot as the humour cartoon this time. Snoopa must have been on holiday.

The Gypsy Rose story is another recycled Strange Story, and it’s a morality tale in “be careful what you wish for”. A genie grants Persian girl Farah three wishes – but warns her to think carefully before making a wish because he can only grant exactly what she asks for. This means granting her wishes literally, as Farah finds out when she blows her first two wishes because she jumped the gun and did not heed the genie’s warning. Will she think carefully about the third wish and make it the right one? Or will she end up wasting three perfectly good wishes – and maybe have an even deeper regret than that?

Ferne’s plan to help Jolie get over her dancing block is to dress up in her mother’s Firebird costume and pass herself off as “The Ghost Dancer”, which the girls all think is haunting the school. The plan does help Jolie’s dancing – but then blabbermouth Jolie tells everyone, so now the ghost rumour is worse than ever.

In “Land of No Tears”, the Gamma girls beat the odds and make it through the preliminary rounds in the Golden Girl award. Unfortunately there’s now a lot of heat on them, especially as the authorities are astonished to find no record of Cassy in their computer (well, there wouldn’t be as she’s an unwitting time traveller from the 20th century!). The dreaded Hive Inspector is being called in, and Perfecta is on the trail of the Gamma girls’ secret trainer.

Miss Simon – after a taste of what asthmatic Paul goes through – agrees to Marie’s request to let her have Simon Hall a year earlier because Paul is deteriorating so badly. Even so, it’s still nine months off. Will Paul last the distance?

Pam’s still stuck on the school magazine and Miss Peeble tries to help, but not very successfully. Miss Larks is definitely not under arrest, but she is on leave, and it’s linked to what Pam thinks is a blackmailer. She spots someone in Miss Larks’ apartment who could be the miscreant and gets the gang organised to catch him.

Sir Roger answers a “ghost for hire” ad. Sounds reminiscent of the old “Rent-a-ghost” strip from Buster. Tansy tries all sorts of nutty tactics to avoid “Dismal Dee” – but she’s the one who ends up dismal, because it cost her the chance of a concert ticket to see her current favourite pop group.

As well as having to fend off the cheating Syreeta and Selena, who are out to cheat her out of a disco contest (Syreeta) and netball match (Selena), Nadine now has to choose between the two events. For the first time she shows team spirit and chooses netball over disco. Stuffy Betty has had a change of heart too, and she wants to help Nadine against the two cheats.

Jinty and Penny 28 February 1981

Jinty cover 28 February 1981

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Ghost Dancer (artist Phil Townsend)
  • The Golden Touch (artist Peter Wilkes) – Gypsy Rose story
  • Behind the Screen – Worzel Gummidge
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
  • No Medals for Marie (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Alison Christie)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine (artist Mario Capaldi)

There is no “Winning Ways” this issue, but we have Snoopa back. The letter column reveals another covert male Jinty reader, and this time it’s a dad. Dad let his secret slip when he suddenly asked his daughter if Roz got rid of her guardian angel and she realised he was referring to “Her Guardian Angel”. He was a bit embarrassed to be caught out in having had a sneaky peek into his daughter’s Jintys.

In the stories, Pam is still struggling to get the school newspaper together while the headmaster is nagging her about its progress. Meanwhile, the mystery about what’s bothering Miss Larks really deepens when Pam and Trace overhear her saying on the phone that she could be in trouble for aiding and abetting – and then the police actually take her away! Good grief, could she actually be under arrest?

Jolie is actually calling upon the ghost of Ferne’s mother for help with her dancing. After realising what is wrong with Jolie’s dancing, Ferne hatches a plan to help her. However, it looks like it’s going to play on the rumour Ferne accidentally started that her mother’s ghost is haunting the school. Unwise move – even if the plan does help Jolie, it is certainly going to fuel the rumour even more.

Marie snaps at Miss Simon (about time!) when she assumes Miss Simon has sent her chauffeur to keep tabs on her and make sure she wins no medals. But then she discovers that she was mistaken and the chauffeur was there for a different reason. Has she blown her chance of Simon Hall for her sick brother?

Talk about fighting fire on two fronts! Nadine discovers there are two cheating sisters (Selena and Syreeta) out to nobble her at both a disco competition and a netball match. And they are succeeding in putting a lot of nasty bruises into her legs to make her unfit for both.

Things get off to a very bad start for the Gamma girls because of the hostile spectators booing at them – who are then taken by surprise when Cassy beats the Alpha girls at the swimming event. Then there’s a shock for Cassy when she’s disqualified – but why?

This week, Tansy and Simon are revealed to be so terrified of going to the dentist that Mum and Dad resort to underhand tactics to make sure the appointment is kept. The folks tell Tansy they want her help to get Simon to the dentist – but Simon seems to be under the impression that the folks want his help to get her there…

Sir Roger conjures a potion that makes Gaye invisible, but he’s the one who ends up needing invisibility when she discovers the trick he played on her – withholding the secret to making her visible again.

It’s another recycled Strange Story, from Ireland, for Gypsy Rose this week. Sheena Murphy and her grandmother are so badly hit by crop failure that they need a crock of gold from the leprechauns. Knowing the leprechauns, even getting that wish could have a lot of impish humour attached.

Jinty and Penny 21 February 1981

Jinty cover 21 Feb 1981

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Ghost Dancer (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Zebras of Zendobo (artist Peter Wilkes) – Gypsy Rose story
  • Behind the Screen – Peter Davidson
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
  • No Medals for Marie (artist Phil Gascoine, writer Alison Christie)
  • Winning Ways 46: Table Tennis – service (writer Benita Brown)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine (artist Mario Capaldi)

I have the issues out, so here is a round of 1981 issues we have not yet covered.

In this issue, Peter Wilkes takes over from Ken Houghton as the Tansy of Jubilee Street artist. Wilkes is also the artist of this week’s Gypsy Rose story, so we get a double helping of Peter Wilkes art. In the former, a stray dog follows Tansy home and she has to find a home for it because Dad won’t allow dogs. But wouldn’t you know it – the same dog later follows Dad home and he decides to keep it! In the latter, grandfather’s sacrilege over shooting two sacred African zebras awakens when his granddaughter Billie opens his trunk and decides to use the zebra skins for her bed. Of course she does not get a peaceful night’s sleep for that and gets increasingly terrifying night visitations from the zebras, but she is reluctant to take advice that the skins are better off in a local exhibition on Africa. The story is one of the few 1981 Gypsy Rose stories that is an original and not a recycled reprint from Strange Stories.

In Pam of Pond Hill, something is on Miss Larks’ mind, and so much that her domestic science classes are turning to custard. Pam thinks Miss Larks is being blackmailed, but it remains to be seen if Pam’s right. Meanwhile, Pam is still having trouble getting the upcoming school newspaper together and clearly needs serious help.

In “Land of No Tears”, the Gamma girls begin to discover the full extent of the opposition towards them as they begin to compete for the Golden Girl Award. Their Alpha girls have been taunting them for days about it, but that’s nothing to what they get from the spectators, who boo and hiss at them on all sides. This does not bode well for their performance.

The rumours Ferne has unwittingly started about her mother haunting the school are really snowballing now. The girls are trying to contact the ghost by Ouija board and one pupil, Jolie, is calling upon the ghost for help because lack of confidence is affecting her dancing, which she tries to cover by goofing off in class.

This week, conceited Sir Roger meets his match in a bratty kid who’s a real horror and not at all scared of him. Readers will have to decide where their sympathies lie.

Marie decides to go against Miss Simon’s “no-medals” blackmail to some extent and come out on top in exams for her sick father’s sake. It is just the tonic he needs, but then Miss Simon’s blackmail indirectly puts Marie’s life in danger – for the second time in this story.

For the first time since Nadine’s story began so many episodes ago, she is up against a real enemy – Selena on a rival netball team who keeps trying to foul her, and doing it in crafty ways so the umpire doesn’t notice. And why is Selena so interested in Nadine entering the disco dancing competition? That has nothing to do with netball.

No Medals for Marie [1981]

Sample Images

Marie 1Marie 2Marie 3Marie 4

Published: Jinty 3 January 1981 to 21 March 1981

Episodes: 12

Artist: Phil Gascoine

Writer: Alison Christie

Translations/reprints: Girl Picture Library #17 as “Winner-Loser!”

Plot
Marie Smart has always been a brilliant girl who excels at everything and wins at everything she goes for. This is one bright spot in the lives of her parents, who don’t make much money at the jobs they have. Worse, they constantly worry about their son Paul, who is seriously ill with asthma, and the polluted industrial town they live in makes it progressively worse. Paul’s health is deteriorating so badly that they badly need to move to the countryside. The trouble is, the parents can’t afford it.

Marie wins a scholarship, and it means everything to her parents for her to fill her sideboard with medals and trophies; Dad is even working overtime and risking his own health because of it so he can afford Marie’s new school. Marie understands this and resolves to fulfil their wish to fill that sideboard with medals.

But then Marie’s godmother, Miss Simon, invites her to her country home. Dad has misgivings because Miss Simon is an “eccentric old bat” who might put “strange ideas” into Marie’s head. Mum persuades him otherwise, but it turns out his fears were more than justified. Miss Simon has never won any medals in her life, and her jealousy over it is so twisted that she resolves the person to inherit her hall won’t win any either. She wants Marie’s family to inherit the hall when Marie turns 16 – but on strict condition that Marie wins no medals in the interim. And not a word to her parents about it. Marie agrees to the perverse terms because this is the only way her sick brother can move to the countryside.

So Marie starts deliberately failing things that have a medal or trophy attached. Her family is disappointed to see the sideboard not filling up with medals, but Marie has been forced to agree not to tell them why. Sometimes Marie has to resort to lengths that get her into real trouble in order to avoid winning medals, including vandalism and embarrassing her family with a lousy performance at the school pantomime. Twice Marie’s life is even put in danger because of her deliberate failures at medals.

Soon there is another problem – it will be two years before Marie is 16, and Paul is getting so sick that he could die well before that time arrives. So Marie takes the plunge and asks Miss Simon if she can have the hall when she turns 15 instead. At first Miss Simon refuses because she doesn’t understand or care about the seriousness of Paul’s condition, dismissing it as “a tickle in his chest”. She changes her mind – somewhat – when a fire in her room gives her a taste of not being able to breathe, just as Paul can’t during his asthma attacks. She agrees to let Marie have the hall when she turns 15.

But Miss Simon’s new-found sympathy for Paul is not enough to turn her around. She does not let up on Marie either although Marie helped to save her from the fire. She remains jealous because she has no medals herself and still insists Marie win no medals. When she mistakenly thinks Marie has won one, she refuses to hand over the hall to her, regardless of how much Paul’s life depends on it. Fortunately Marie manages to convince Miss Simon that she jumped to the wrong conclusion there. The trouble is, it will be some months before Marie is 15, and time is fast running out for Paul; the parents now fear for his life.

Towards the end of the school year the Smarts organise a holiday that will get some country air into Paul. But then both the parents lose their jobs and can’t afford the holiday. So a cheaper holiday is organised at Simon Hall. But finally, Marie cannot help herself from winning a medal. When the jealous Miss Simon hears, she refuses to hand over the hall, calls off the holiday, and leaves Paul to slowly die in the smoky town.

The family manage to organise a car so they can at least get some country holiday. However, a breakdown drives the Smarts to Simon Hall, where Marie decides to confront the jealous old bag once and for all. To her surprise she finds Miss Simon has had a change of heart because she has finally won a medal and now realises how horrible she had been. So Miss Simon hands the hall immediately over to the Smarts, with a job to go with it for Mr Smart. The family are thrilled, as it is the answer to their prayer. The move from the air-polluted town to the countryside of Simon Hall soon has Paul’s health going from strength to strength and his asthma fades.

Miss Simon now goes from stopping Marie from winning medals to challenging her as to which of them can fill their sideboards with medals the fastest. No medals for guessing who is soon in the lead.

Thoughts

IPC girls’ titles delved into the blackmail theme far less often than the DCT titles, who used it so frequently. Jinty herself hardly ever used it, and this is one of the exceptions. Objects of blackmail have included jobs, incriminating diaries, and family reputations. The health or even the life of a loved one being held hostage has been used too.

However, Miss Simon is unusual in that she did not start using Paul’s ill-health as a blackmail ploy to begin with as most blackmailers in girls’ comics would have. In fact, it sounds like she did not even know about it until Marie pleads for the hall a year early because of Paul’s deteriorating condition. So at the beginning she hardly had any leverage to seriously get Marie to agree to her no-medal condition, and Marie would have most likely to tell her to sod off. So how she could have seriously believed she would get Marie to agree is difficult to understand and does create a plot weakness. Perhaps it’s that eccentricity Dad was on about. Eccentrics are not known for common sense.

Miss Simon is also unusual is that she is not lying about guaranteeing the saving of the sick relative in return for agreeing to the blackmail. This usually is the case as shown in DCT titles like “Meg and the Magic Robot” (Tracy) and “April Fool” (Mandy). The blackmailer leads the protagonist to believe that they will do their bit to save the sick relative in exchange for the protagonist agreeing to their demands, but eventually the protagonist finds out the blackmailer was lying and not doing anything of the sort. But this is not the case with Miss Simon. In fact, it’s not really her idea to hold Paul’s life hostage in the first place.

This is one of the redeeming qualities about Miss Simon, who already comes across as a despicable character with her twisted jealousy and later, her callousness in leaving Paul to slowly die in the polluted town, just because Marie had won a medal. Her callousness is even more disgusting because she does understand and sympathise with his plight once she gets a taste of not being able to breathe, yet she is still willing to leave him to just slowly die if Marie wins a medal. We’re not really sure Miss Simon even deserves to win a medal because of her petty conduct, which not even eccentricity can excuse. All the same, Miss Simon winning a medal is the only way to make her see sense and resolve the story.

Miss Simon truly redeems herself in handing over the hall immediately once she stops being jealous over medals, instead of waiting until Marie is 15. No doubt it was prompted by guilt over the way she behaved and how she treated Paul (leaving him to his fate) who had, ironically, always liked her.

Marie Smart arouses our sympathies far more than a victim in a regular blackmail story usually does. For one thing, she is a sympathetic character from the start in that she has never let her brilliance go to her head and make her conceited like Tina Williams in “The Girl Who Never Was”. We really laud her for that, and for the way she puts her sick brother ahead of herself. Marie does not grieve over the failures she forces herself to do; instead her heart bleeds over how it is disappointing and even shaming her family. She knows how much it means to them, especially how Dad is working overtime to pay for her new school and expects medals in return. Dad going through a heart attack must be attributed to his overtime and his deep disappointment at no medals on Marie’s sideboard. Marie decides to at least come out top in mid-year exams to please him and inject him with encouragement to recover, and it’s a real tonic for him. But that’s all she can do; there are to be none of the medals he really wants because of Miss Simon.

Our hearts bleed for the parents as well. They are already under a lot of stress and worry because of Paul’s condition. The only remedy – move to a cleaner environment – is unaffordable for them and they watch in anguish as Paul’s health deteriorates in the polluted town. Marie winning medals is one of the few things to give them joy, but now they are deprived of that because of Miss Simon’s pettishness. Their constant disappointment compounds the anxiety they are already under, and it’s so unfair to them. Then they sink even lower in losing their jobs and Dad’s health not fully recovering from his heart attack.

And then final anguish – being denied the hall and watching Paul slowly die because of her medal, is the most heart breaking of all for Marie. Even the parents and Paul, who don’t know about the situation, are devastated at Miss Simon cancelling the holiday.

It’s no wonder that Jinty advertised this story as “nail-biting”. It is not one of Jinty’s most distinguished or memorable stories, but as with so many Alison Christie stories, emotion is still its strength.

Princess II, #28 – final issue – 31 March 1984

Princess 28 cover

  • The Secret Swimmer (artist Phil Gascoine) – final episode
  • The Haunted Station (artist Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?)) – final episode
  • The Dream House (artist Mike White) – final episode
  • Day and Knight (artist Juliana Buch)
  • Horse from the Sea… (artist Rodrigo Comos) – final episode
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Rusty, Remember Me (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)

This is the very last issue of Princess. She came to an end after 28 issues and a disturbing change of format from Girl II style to Tammy style with #19, and an equally disturbing fallback on reprints of older material.

Princess great news 1

The Princess stories that do not carry on into the merger are “The Secret Swimmer”, “The Dream House” (Tammy reprint), “Horse from the Sea” (Jinty reprint) and “The Haunted Station”. The last two are given six page spreads to help finish them off.

The ending of “The Secret Swimmer” is a good one that avoids clichés, and is worthy of Jinty. Liza wonders if there is any point in winning the race because all the girls are against her as they wrongly blame her for Nikki’s accident. But when Nikki herself starts cheering for Liza, the girls turn around and start cheering as well. It gives Liza all the encouragement she needs to really compete – yet she still does not win. She is narrowly beaten, but she’s still a winner because she has friends again.

In “The Haunted Station” the Grices think pushing Helen off the cliff means her inheritance is now in their pocket. They don’t realise a tree root has broken her fall, and Wendy and Linda pull her up. Helen goes on to get help from an old housekeeper, Mrs Burke, but Linda and Wendy are whisked back to their own time before they find out how things turned out. Then, at the next stop on the school trip they are surprised to meet Helen Mills, now an old lady who runs a Tudor Tea Gardens attraction. Yes, everything worked out happily for Helen and justice was done. The elderly Helen is very surprised at how Wendy and Linda look so much like her two helpers.

The two schemers in “Horse from the Sea” come to an even stickier end than the Grices – they get drowned during a flood, and the rightful heir is free from their power.

“The Dream House” turns out to be the result of Miss Royd’s quest for immortality that she had begun centuries before, and she uses the minds of small children to wield her power. Jane manages to turn that power against Miss Royd and re-imprison her in her secret room in the dollhouse. But all it needs to turn Miss Royd loose again is for another small child to find that secret room in the dollhouse…

The stories that continue with the merger are “Day and Knight”, “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” and “Sadie in Waiting”. Sharon Day’s father has married Carrie Knight’s mother despite Sharon’s pleas that Carrie is a bully who makes her life a misery, and has even stolen her beloved guitar. Now the bullying is double the misery because Carrie is now living with Sharon and making her life hell at home as well as school, and Dad just won’t listen when Sharon tries to tell him. Carrie and her gang have trashed Sharon’s belongings and now Carrie’s planning a very nasty surprise for Sharon – a piece of meat in her vegetarian school lunch!

In “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” (Jinty reprint) Stefa tries to get herself expelled in order to get away from Ruth, but Ruth keeps foiling her. Meanwhile, and Stefa and her parents make the move into the council house. Stefa’s stoniness gets her on the wrong foot with the kids in the neighbourhood, who react by throwing stones at the statue Stefa models her stony heart on.

Hiding Rusty the fox from the nasty caretaker Mr Jenkins while his leg is in plaster is proving problematic. Jenkins is already suspicious and now he wants to search the flat – which is precisely where the kids have hidden Rusty.

Princess Bee says Sadie will have to go, and Sadie can’t understand what she did to get sacked when Grovel deserves it more. It turns out to be a misunderstanding – Princess Bee has chosen Sadie to be the one to go the annual servants’ conference. Poor Grovel’s in tears at not being the one, but we all know Princess Bee made the right decision.

Princess II, #27, 24 March 1984

Princess 27 cover

  • Flight from the Romanys (artist Maria Dembilio) – final episode
  • Day and Knight (artist Juliana Buch)
  • The Haunted Station (artist Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?))
  • The Dream House (artist Mike White)
  • The Secret Swimmer (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Horse from the Sea… (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Rusty, Remember Me (artist Eduardo Feito)

This is the second to last issue of Princess II before the merge into Tammy, so it’s an issue where things are beginning to wind down. Finishing this issue is “Flight from the Romanys”, where Lydia, a wealthy lord’s daughter, has been kidnapped by gypsies. She has escaped, but it’s a long way home, and she very nearly gets recaptured as well.

“The Haunted Station”, “The Dream House”, “Horse from the Sea” and “The Secret Swimmer” are on their penultimate episodes.

Liza, “The Secret Swimmer”, has been secretly training for a swimming trophy after she is wrongly blamed of putting her friend Nikki out of it. Her secret is exposed, but she has become so good she is chosen to represent the school at the event. But everyone is so against her because of the wrongful accusation that they are going to cheer for the rival schools. So is there any point in even winning? This story was drawn by Phil Gascoine, and I was surprised to learn it was an original Gascoine and not a repeat from Jinty.

“The Haunted Station” is not so much haunted but a time travel device. Linda Brent and Wendy Smith are finding a converted railway station transporting them to the 1930s (and back again).  Their 1980s clothes are arousing disapproval in the 1930s and making them stick out like sore thumbs: “Girls wearing trousers. It’s disgraceful!” But their real concern is Helen Mills, who is a target for murder because her guardians, the Grices, are after her inheritance. The Grices are getting close to succeeding now; in the final panel Mr Grice pushes Helen over the edge of a quarry.

Evil guardians are also out to steal an inheritance in “Horse from the Sea”, and now they’ve caught our heroine as she tries to phone for help. As with “The Haunted Station” supernatural help is at hand, which comes in the form of a magic horse from the sea.

“The Dream House” (reprinted from Tammy) is more like “The Nightmare House”. Jane Dale is convinced a dollhouse is evil and taking family members away to inhabit it as dolls, and that she is next in line. The weird thing is, the two small children of the family are willing to help it. In this episode Jane discovers that housekeeper Miss Royd is behind it all. In fact, Miss Royd says she came with the dollhouse and lived in it for centuries, and Jane is going to do the same!

“Day and Knight” and “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” are the Princess stories that will carry on in the merger. Stefa’s repeat is now up to the point where she wants to leave her new school because of Joy’s look-alike. She storms into her father’s workplace demanding he remove her from the school, which gets him sacked. He has to take a lower paid job, which means the family has to move to a cheaper council house. But none of this moves Stefa’s stony heart. After efforts to dodge school fail, she plots to get herself expelled as her parents won’t let her change schools.

In “Day and Knight”, Sharon Day’s father now marries Carrie Knight’s mother despite Sharon’s protests that Carrie is a bully who is making her life a misery. He just won’t listen (Gran is the only one who believes Sharon), and that is clearly going to come back to bite him and his new marriage. Meanwhile, the wedding is a day of tears for Sharon that she has to choke down for the sake of Dad’s big day. Even if everything does get sorted out in the end (as we expect), Sharon’s forced smiles will be evident in the wedding photos for years to come and be a painful reminder of what used to be.

“Rusty, Remember Me” is the fox story (every girls’ comic has to have one at some point). Donna Jones has to hide an injured fox because she lives in a flat where pets are against the rules and the caretaker is a nasty piece of work. This week they take the fox to the vet, only to hear that the vet’s advice is put him to sleep.

Sadie in Waiting is the other Princess feature that will carry on in the merger, supplanting the Tammy Joe Collins cartoon, “The Crazyees”. This week they screw down the furniture because of a visit from Lady Edna, who’s the proverbial bull in a china shop because she’s so huge. They are annoyed to find it unnecessary when Lady Edna proves she has slimmed down – but they find they have spoken too soon when her huge friends arrive. And by that time they have removed the screws.