Tag Archives: Phil Townsend

Tammy and Princess 28 April 1984

Tammy 28 April 1984

Cover artist: Maria Barrera

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)
  • Cassie’s Coach (artist Tony Coleman, writer Alison Christie)
  • Open an Easter Egg! (writer Maureen Spurgeon) – quiz
  • The Horse Finders – A Pony Tale
  • Day and Knight (artist Juliana Buch) – final episode
  • Easter Parade – feature
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, main writer Alison Christie)
  • Easter Fun Spot – Easter jokes
  • Rusty, Remember Me (artist Eduardo Feito) – final episode
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Picture Yourself! – feature

 

We finish off our spread of Tammy Easter issues with the very last Tammy Easter issue in 1984. Easter is celebrated here with Easter features, an Easter quiz, Easter jokes, and a beautiful spring cover drawn by Maria Barrera.

It is four weeks into the Tammy and Princess merger, and two of the stories that came over from Princess end this week. In “Day and Knight”, Sharon now realises the only way to make her heartbroken father happy is to allow her bully stepsister Carrie a second chance. However, her wounds from all that bullying are making it very hard for her to do so, and she does not understand that her bully stepsister is now genuinely sorry. So it’s a real dilemma. Meanwhile, helping Rusty to get his leg fit again is what finally gets Donna to stop depending on her leg brace and work on improving that leg with exercise.

“Stefa’s Heart of Stone”, which Princess reprinted from Jinty, carries on, as Stefa has still not learned that a heart of stone is not the answer. Ruth, who now realises Stefa’s game, has the girls rally around for a “Melt Stefa” campaign to soften that stony heart. But so far all this gets is rude rebuffs from Stefa. Next week is Stefa’s birthday. Will this make things any different?

Bella has persuaded Benjie to join the sports acrobatics group as her partner. Pity the instructress is so unfriendly to Bella because she is a former gymnastics champion. An encouraging coach would really help the partnership to flourish more.

“Cassie’s Coach” reaches its penultimate episode, and it’s a tear-jerking plot development. Mr Ironside has been such a father figure to the Lord children ever since their mother was wrongly imprisoned. There is so much they could not have done without him – like find the old coach that became their home. But this week they lose him because he has to give up his business (can’t afford to replace his horse) and go work at his cousin’s farm. Can the Lord children survive without him?

“The Horse Finders” are commissioned to find 60 of the near-extinct black Zarah horse breed. They find 50 readily enough, but the final 10 are proving elusive, and time is running out. And time has just about run out when they are one short. But the 60th appears in a most surprise manner.

In this week’s Button Box story, Bev hears a church button story that is instructive in the evolution of hassocks. They started out as tufts of grass for poorer parishioners to kneel on. Unfortunately tufts of grass also made a mess on the church floor. So they became the more practical, decorative and non-messy cushions.

A Pond Hill girl, Catherine Bone, is being terrorised by a secret society known as “The Group” because she had been such a sneak. While Pam is appalled at what “The Group” is doing, others are unsympathetic and say it’s Catherine’s just desserts for sneaking. Di is one of them – but then Catherine turns up on the doorstep, dripping with paint that “The Group” threw all over her. What do you say to that, Di?

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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!

 

The Ghost Dancer [1981]

Sample Images

Ghost Dancer 1Ghost Dancer 2Ghost Dancer 3

Published: Jinty 3 January 1981 – 28 March 1981

Episodes: 13

Artist: Phil Townsend

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: Dansen in het maanlicht [Dancing in the Moonlight] (in: Tina 1983)

Plot

Ferne Ashley’s mother, Martina Kerr, is a famous ballerina and her father a famous composer. Unfortunately Dad is a short-tempered man who flies off the handle easily, especially when his work isn’t going well, and he picks constant fights with his wife. This has tragic consequences that shape the course of the entire story.

Ferne passes the audition to her mother’s old ballet school with Madame Naninska. But instead of being thrilled for her, Dad starts an argument with Mum that Ferne only got in because Mum was Madame’s ex-prize pupil (frustration over his latest composition not going well). Worse, he’s doing it while driving instead of watching the road, and fails to avoid a tractor that’s driving on the wrong side of the road for some reason. Mum gets killed in the ensuing crash. Ferne blames Dad for Mum’s death, and decides to punish him by pretending to be crippled so he can’t see the joy of her dancing.

The doctors can’t find any medical reason for Ferne’s paralysis of course, but assume it is a mental block that’s come from the shock of Mum’s death. The decision is made to send Ferne to the ballet school anyway, in the hope it will help to unfreeze the block.

What this really does is make it increasingly difficult for Ferne to keep up the pretence. There is temptation on all sides, including urging from Madame to dance again, to just give in and start dancing. Although Ferne still blames Dad for Mum’s death, the reality of what she is doing and the consequences it has wrought are now sinking in – including denying herself the dancing she loves so much. She is beginning to feel shame and guilt. However, Ferne is too afraid of what everyone will say, especially her bad-tempered father, to confess what she has done.

So Ferne tries pretending that she is gradually regaining the use of her legs and quietly rejoin the ballet class. Madame notices that Ferne seems to be moving her toes in time to the ballet music and joyfully tells Dad. However, when Dad hears about it, he guesses the truth. He comes up to the school, confronts Ferne over it, and leaves her out in the woods, telling her to walk straight back to school. Ferne refuses to do so and her wheelchair is stuck, so she’s trapped herself, and then a downpour starts. By the time anyone finds her she is suffering from hypothermia and Dad is in big trouble for leaving a crippled girl like that. After this, Ferne is finding it even harder to own up.

One night Ferne yearns to dance so much that she slips out to some Roman ruins to secretly dance in them, as her, as her mother used to do. Unfortunately one of the pupils, Jolie, spots her, and blabs it around. At first the girls think it’s imagination, but later it adds to a rumour that the ghost Ferne’s mother is haunting the school.

Ferne is also secretly wandering around the school, and one night Madame catches her in her mother’s Firebird costume. This sends Madame into a faint, and after this the ghost rumour well and truly starts, with even staff members believing it. Ferne is appalled at what she has started and knows that owning up would stop it, but she is still too scared to do so.

The rumour just grows and grows; Ferne actually finds the girls trying to contact the ghost with a Ouija board and breaks it up. Jolie even goes to the ruins to call upon the ghost for help, because she is having trouble with her dancing and lost confidence. She is trying to distract the teacher from it by goofing off in class and playing the fool, but knows that in the end it won’t stop her being told to leave because she is not progressing. She does not realise Ferne is listening in.

Ferne soon realises what Jolie’s dancing problem is, having experienced it herself several years earlier, and wants to help. Deciding that openly helping Jolie won’t work out, Ferne decides to play the ghost. Dressing up in the Firebird costume and pretending to be her mother’s ghost, Ferne appears before Jolie in the ruins and walk her through the problem. This overcomes Jolie’s problem, but of course the big gossip can’t resist telling everyone about her encounter with the ghost of Martina Kerr.

At this, the girls crawl all over the ruins in search of the ghost. The caretaker angrily chases them off and, following this, the headmistress abruptly puts the ruins out of bounds. Despite the ban, the girls trick Jolie into coming to the ruins for another supposed rendezvous with the ghost, where they intend to have some sport with her.

Ferne overhears what they are plotting but does nothing about it, figuring Jolie had it coming for being such a blabbermouth. Then she overhears the headmistress saying she put the ruins out of bounds because the caretaker’s lawn mower badly cracked one of the pillars, and it could fall at any time. At this, Ferne abandons her pretence once and for all – she’s off and running to stop a potential accident – right in front of an astonished Madame, Matron and every pupil who sees her.

At the ruins, Ferne warns the girls and gets Jolie out of the danger the girls unwittingly put her in. But Jolie, realising the trick Ferne pulled on her, angrily shoves her away, and Ferne hits a pillar. Unfortunately this is the dangerous pillar, and Jolie’s action sends it toppling. Ferne manages to push Jolie clear of the pillar, but does not make it herself. The pillar lands on top of her.

Of course Ferne’s deception is now out, but everyone forgives her because of her heroism – no wait, there’s a far more serious reason why nobody can be angry with Ferne. The pillar damaged her spine and now she really is confined to a wheelchair. Her deception has turned into dreadful reality.

Ferne’s accident makes Dad lose heart for composing music, including completing the ballet, “Sea Maiden’s Dream”, that he was composing for Mum before she died. Ferne is informed that stress is the reason for Dad’s constant temper problems. At this she is really ashamed at blaming him, and she resolves to dance again for his sake. After weeks of secret work, she manages to dance a few steps before him, which restores his heart for composing. At Ferne’s request, he resumes work on the ballet. Some years later Ferne has fully recovered and dancing the lead in the premiere of “Sea Maiden’s Dream”.

Thoughts

This story has the rather sad distinction of being Jinty’s last ballet story before the merger. Ballet-wise, it does show that Phil Townsend can draw beautiful ballet. It’s a shame he did not draw ballet more frequently. It is also the last Jinty serial to use the theme of ghosts (unless you count the ghost that appeared briefly in “Worlds Apart“), even if there is no actual ghost in the story. Finally, it is also the last Jinty story to use the theme of bad reactions to grief without thinking of the consequences (a la “Nothing to Sing About” and “Stefa’s Heart of Stone”). So it is quite surprising that Alison Christie did not write it.

There have been scores of girls’ serials about girls (and adults) pretending to be disabled, either by their own free will or by circumstance, such as being forced. Sometimes it’s linked to tragedy and grief, as it is with Ferne, but more often it’s due to scheming. The theme cropped up frequently at DCT, but appeared less often at IPC; neither Tammy nor Jinty used it much.

Unlike most girls who willingly pretend to be disabled, Ferne never uses her deception to play upon people’s sympathy or take advantage of them. It’s a kneejerk reaction to grief and blaming her father for her mother’s death, which is quickly regretted once Ferne realises the consequences. While most girls in girls’ serials keep up the pretence for as long as possible, Ferne changes her mind about it fairly quickly, but can’t see how to end it without getting into trouble. Every time she decides to confess, something happens to scare her into staying silent and continue the deception. And in the meantime, everything just continues to get more and more out of hand.

Ferne’s heroism in giving up her deception to save Jolie would have been the perfect way  for Ferne to end the deception gracefully and be forgiven. Indeed, the story could have ended with that. Instead, there is one final twist – Ferne’s deception turning into reality  and the final episode of her story being dedicated to comeback. It seems a harsh way to go before the final happy ending, especially for a girl who deserved it far less than other schemers who pretend to be disabled in girls’ comics. After all, her deception was prompted by grief, shock and anger, which hardly made her conducive to thinking straight. On the other hand, it is far less trite than the alternate ending the story could have taken, as described above.

There is no doubt the father’s bad temper started the trouble, whether or not he was actually to blame for his wife’s death. Things would have been so different if the father had done what he should have done: been overjoyed that Ferne passed the audition, congratulated her wholeheartedly and took the family out to celebrate. Instead, he uses it as a vehicle to vent his frustration and pick a fight with his wife. Moreover, he was doing it while driving, which would have made his driving dangerous. It was asking for an accident.

It is never officially established just who was responsible for the accident or why the tractor was on the wrong side of the road. Dad knows Ferne blames him for her mother’s death, but he does not blame himself. The mother might still have died, but at least Ferne wouldn’t have blamed Dad if he hadn’t started that fight in the first place. His bad temper may be due to strain and work stress, but that really is no excuse for it. He admits in the end that he does have a temper problem, but it’s something he should address with stress and anger management therapy instead of making everyone in the household suffer for it.

Discussion should also be made of Jolie. Jolie is one of the standout supporting characters in the story. She could even be a more rounded character than Ferne, and is certainly more humorous. She’s a bit of a butt of jokes at the school. For one thing, English is her second language (she is French), so she doesn’t always get things right. For example, she comes up to the girls to say she heard the gardener say a motorway is going to be built through the school grounds, when in fact the driveway is just going to be enlarged. She has the unfortunate reputation for big imagination and tall tales as well, which go hand in hand with her being a big gossip and blabbermouth by nature. But really, the pranks she plays in class (blowing down a girl’s neck for example) do not endear her much to the girls, so she is asking for a big revenge prank from them at some point. And it comes with fateful results at the climax. Jolie becomes more sympathetic there when we learn the reason for her goofing off: covering up loss of confidence in her dancing because she can’t get the hang of certain steps, and she is terrified she will leave the school. She is so human, and has potential for her own story. We can just see this one being retold from Jolie’s point of view. It would be interesting to see how it looks.

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

Princess II, #21, 11 February 1984

Princess 21 cover

  • School of Dark Secrets (artist Carlos Cruz) – final episode
  • Laura in the Lyon’s Den (artist Bob Harvey)
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • The Runaway Clown (artist José Canovas?)
  • How Mean Are You? – Quiz
  • Horse from the Sea… (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Princess Pet Book part 3
  • Rowena of the Doves (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Sheena and the Treetoppers (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • The Saddest Dog in Town (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Fun Fair (puzzles)

This is Princess II’s one and only Valentine issue. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, which gives it topical flavour. Only Sadie in Waiting actually commemorates Valentine’s Day (below), and we get a hint that Grovel has a softer side, though of course he won’t admit it.

“School of Dark Secrets” reveals its secret. The staff are descended from the Witches of Barnham. All they need to complete the coven and receive the powers of the original witches is Judy, the descendant of Alvira, the 13th witch in the portrait. Too bad for the witches they failed to spot the clue that the portrait of Alvira had been painted over with that of Judy’s great-great-grandmother, so they grabbed the wrong descendant. Now did someone paint the portrait over to fool the witches or because they couldn’t stand the sight of Alvira’s ugly mug? At any rate, the school is closed down and then reopened with more wholesome staff.

Laura is way too much for Mrs Lyon this week – she actually throws a huge, creamy cake in the woman’s face! She’s still serving in the restaurant though.

Stefa starts on the path to turn her heart into stone to avoid feeling grief again. Everyone is upset by the change in her but don’t realise why. The doctor advises a complete change. A fat lot of good that’s going to do.

Princess, the elephant performer, is so jealous of “The Runaway Clown” that she sets a tiger on her. This backfires big time on Princess, and it looks like it’s about to lead to the Big Top going up in flames as well.

The Treetoppers fend off an escaped lion, but their treehouse is still facing the bulldozers. Then Sheena has a brainwave – but what is it?

The origin of the “Horse from the Sea” is revealed this week. Legend says a Penrose married the daughter of the King of the Sea, and she came up from the sea on the horse. Ever since then the horse has appeared whenever the heir of Penrose is in danger, which apparently is what is happening now.

Rowena’s father, King Guthlac, has sent her to summon her three brothers to his aid. One brother has already refused, as has the second this week, because he’s in the power of a vampire. It’s all down to the third now.

In “The Saddest Dog in Town”, a clue emerges as to who the dog’s lost owner is. He is linked to Jess, a girl who wanted to learn ballet, but her parents couldn’t afford it. But where is Jess?

Sadie in Waiting Valentine

Princess II, #15, 31 December 1983

Princess 15 cover

  • Sheena and the Treetoppers (artist Rodrigo Comos) – first episode
  • The Ghostly Ballerina (photo story)
  • Fairy Tale (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Enough to Make a Cat Laugh! (artist Phil Townsend) – complete story
  • Best of Friends… (photo story)
  • Suzy and Snowdrop (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Sadie-in-Waiting (artist Joe Collins)

“Sheena and the Treetoppers” starts this issue and leads off the cover. Sheena and her siblings discover a tree house, and they are determined it’s going to be their secret.

Clare Thomas learns the full story of Arabella Hood, “The Ghostly Ballerina”. Arabella died before her time and ever since then she has been exercising her brilliance through other dancers. She targets mediocre dancers, which makes them easy to fall for her bait. But she just sees them as tools and cares nothing for their wellbeing, and they suffer for it.

In “Fairy Tale”, Angie and Jane have misadventures with a deaf genie who mishears their wishes (would somebody please wish this genie get a hearing aid!), get chased by a giant spider, and pick up the Frog Prince – only to find all the other frogs are yelling that they are the Frog Prince and the frog they have is an imposter.

What’s “Enough to Make a Cat Laugh!” is not funny for the two girls in the story. The girls fight over the cat because each believes she has a claim to the cat. They don’t realise that the cat, in true feline fashion, has been making two homes out of their houses. The cat settles the squabble by giving each girl one of her kittens, and they become firm friends.

In “Suzy and Snowdrop” a clue is dropped as to why Aunt Alice is so merciless in forcing Jane to ride, which will definitely be followed up later. Meanwhile, Aunt Alice forces Jane to enter a gymkhana although Jane is not up to standard, too frightened – and under too much pressure because everyone expects her to live up to the family’s reputation for top horsemanship. Definitely a recipe for disaster.

The “Best of Friends” are in danger of falling out because Katie sees Linda as coming between her and her best friend Lizzie. Or is she just being silly and jealous? Katie’s mum tries to talk to her about it and get her to patch things up, but the friendship remains on the rocks – and is getting even more rocky.

Sadie makes a New Year’s resolution to get up earlier so she can work earlier – much to the annoyance of the still-sleeping Grovel and Cook.

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.