Tag Archives: Photo story

Princess II, #6, 29 October 1983

Princess 6 cover

  • Their Darling Daughter… (artist Bert Hill) – final episode
  • Mr Evans the Talking Rabbit (photo story)
  • Ring of Feathers (artist Santiago Hernandez)
  • Miranda’s Magic Dragon (Carlos Freixas)
  • Stairway to the Stars (photo story)
  • Farthings’ Flight (artist Hugo D’Adderio) – first episode
  • The Princess Diana story part 6
  • Mini Princess Diana Pinus
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Fun Fair (puzzles)

Ever since #1, Princess had used selections of letters from her sister comic Girl for her letters page. From this issue she stops saying she is using Girl letters, so she must have been receiving enough letters to start printing her own.

It’s the Halloween issue, but only Sadie in Waiting honours it. Princess Bee is hosting a fancy dress party for Halloween. Grovel is grumbling because he hates Halloween. He hates it even more after he mistakenly attacks Princess Bee (dressed as a gorilla) as SuperGrovel and does mountains of washing up as a punishment.

“Their Darling Daughter” is the cover story, probably because this is the final episode, making it the second to be ejected from Princess’s first lineup. For some reason the title has ellipsis points, which it did not have in the other episodes. Perhaps it’s because of how everything resolves. Up until this point the impression was Mrs Crooks was plotting against Sylvie out of loyalty to the late Rachel. But then Sylvie finds out the real reason: Rachel was really Mrs Crooks’ daughter and Sylvie is really the Townes’ daughter. Mrs Crooks had switched them at birth so Rachel would lead an aristocratic life. Once discovered, Mrs Crooks goes fully insane and sets out to burn the whole house down while taking herself and the bound and gagged Sylvie in it!

In “Mr Evans the Talking Rabbit” Dad’s too overcome with grief over his wife to do a show. Jenny calls upon Mr Evans to help out, but he refuses to do so after the bad experience he had with the other children who captured him after he became a rabbit.

Nasty Uncle John has stolen Cheryl’s ring of feathers, but a bird friend helps her to get it back. She has also discovered Uncle John’s whole plan to destroy the woodlands, and only the ring of feathers can help her stop it. Meanwhile, Mum is hospitalised because Uncle John worked her too hard.

“Farthings’ Flight” starts, and it is Princess’s first period story, set in Victorian times. We meet Lizzie Farthing, whose grandfather has a power over animals and birds. Silas Allgold discovers grandfather’s power, and tries to force them into joining his freak show. Allgold is even going as far as to threaten violence against anyone who employs or shelters the Farthings, so they will have no choice but to crawl to him. Lizzie won’t give in to such blackmail, hence the flight of the Farthings, but how far will they get from Allgold? He looks extremely determined to get them, and he has the money and heavies to back him up.

In “Miranda’s Magic Dragon”, Liz is thrilled to meet King Arthur in person, but then the evil Mordac captures her. Meanwhile, a hint is dropped before Miranda that Paula has stolen her magic pendant, but will Miranda catch on?

In “Stairway to the Stars”, poor Terry is expelled after getting in a fight with bullies who call him “cissy”. But after intervention from Sandy, Terry’s father, who had disapproved of Terry attending stage school, changes his mind about it so much that he persuades the school to reinstate Terry.

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Princess II, #5, 22 October 1983

Princess 5 cover

  • The Incredible Shrinking Girl! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones) – final episode
  • Mr Evans the Talking Rabbit (photo story)
  • Ring of Feathers (artist Santiago Hernandez)
  • Miranda’s Magic Dragon (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Stairway to the Stars (photo story)
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Their Darling Daughter (artist Bert Hill)
  • The Princess Diana story part 5
  • Princess Bright Ideas Box: Pretty as a Picture!

“The Incredible Shrinking Girl!” is the cover story this week. It is only fair, because this is the final episode; the incredible shrinking girl returns to normal size after being hit by fly spray. This was the first story to be ejected from Princess II’s first lineup, after five episodes. The short run should not be taken as a reflection of its popularity, or lack of. As Princess II progressed, many of her serials had short runs, running at 5-6 episodes.

In “Their Darling Daughter”, Sylvie can’t convince her foster parents that Mrs Crooks is pulling nasty tricks to get rid of her. And now Mrs Crooks has turned extra nasty after Sylvie scores her first triumph over her with help from Ben the dog. Mrs Crooks is taking advantage of Sylvie being left alone with her for the weekend by saying it’s going to be her last. Now what can the old bat mean by that? Whatever it is, it sure sounds like she’s knocking off the fancy stuff now and just going in with her big guns blazing at full throttle.

In “Ring of Feathers”, Cheryl discovers her Uncle John is out to destroy the woodlands, and with it the birds’ habitat. But there’s a loophole in his deed of ownership that says the woodlands must be left intact. Looks like the woodlands are safe after all, but Cheryl doesn’t realise her uncle is plotting to destroy the deed and make a forgery. And now Uncle John is stealing the ring of feathers – which will take away Cheryl’s power to get help from the birds.

Things really get in a pickle in “Miranda’s Magic Dragon” this time. Miranda from Camelot is stuck in 1983, and now a mistake on behalf of the evil Mordac whisks Miranda’s 20th century friend Liz away to Camelot – along with her house! Meanwhile, sly Paula is still hiding Miranda’s magic pendant, and without it Miranda is powerless.

Mr Andrews has been desperate to make a meal out of Mr Evans the talking rabbit, not realising he really is a human turned into a rabbit. But this week he pulls a hat trick – literally – to save Mr Evans when his unpleasant owners come in search of him.

Sandy’s audition fails in “Stairway to the Stars”, though she does get handy advice afterwards. Meanwhile, it’s not just Dad who’s calling Terry’s dancing “cissy” – bullies in the street are now doing it as well.

For once Grovel does “Sadie in Waiting” a good turn. Princess Bee is imposing early morning keep fit jogs on the staff, much to Sadie’s consternation. But when it’s imposed on Grovel (much as he needs it), the results put Princess Bee off the idea completely, to Sadie’s great relief.

Princess II, #3, 8 October 1983

Princess 3 cover

Contents

  • Their Darling Daughter (artist Bert Hill)
  • Mr Evans the Talking Rabbit (photo story)
  • The Incredible Shrinking Girl! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Miranda’s Magic Dragon (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Stairway to the Stars (photo story)
  • Ring of Feathers (artist Santiago Hernandez)
  • The Princess Diana Story part 3
  • Mini Princess Diana pinup
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)

The third issue of Princess II came with no free gift, which is unusual for the third issue in a new IPC series. Usually all the first three issues of a new IPC series came with gifts.

“Their Darling Daughter” is the cover story this time, and without the free gift there is more room for it on the cover. Unlike Jinty or Tammy, Princess clearly liked to rotate her stories so each would get a chance to be on the cover. That certainly made for more variety on the covers. In the episode, Mrs Crooks tricks Sylvie into ruining Lady Towne’s birthday party by having her show up in the dress Rachel wore when she died, which shocks Lady Towne into a faint. At least it should make Sylvie realise that Mrs Crooks has only been pretending to be friendly with her and is still out to get rid of her.

Mr Evans the talking rabbit hitches a ride home with Jenny – only to find Mr Andrews is so desperate for food and no money to buy it that he wants to eat the rabbit. Will Mr Evans end up in a rabbit stew before Jenny can get to the book of spells that can change him back?

“The Incredible Shrinking Girl” is horrified to find her family is out to make money out of her condition and turn her into a cash cow. They even have a line of incredible shrinking girl dolls planned. Their excuse is that they now have a chance for money when they had always scraped by, and they have the nerve to call Clare selfish for protesting against it. Then they get a shock when they find it looks like a cat has had Clare for dinner.

It’s not just Mordac who’s after Miranda now in “Miranda’s Magic Dragon”. A nasty 20th century girl, Paula, gets suspicious of her and won’t let up until she finds out the truth. Meanwhile Mordac’s servant finally manages to get hold of the pendant while Miranda sleeps.

“Stairway to the Stars” really gets into its stride when it’s revealed that the school is in danger of closing because there are people on the council who don’t approve of funding it. Meanwhile, Terry, the only male protagonist in the story, is revealed to be a Billy Elliot. His father doesn’t approve of him attending stage school because he thinks it’s “cissy”.

Cheryl is beginning to understand the power of the “Ring of Feathers” while the school bullies are getting suspicious of it. Meanwhile, slave-driving Uncle John is working Mum so hard that she faints from exhaustion.

In “Sadie in Waiting”, Princess Bee can’t find a disco outfit. In the end she settles on Grovel’s uniform (a rather odd choice as it is too big for her). All Grovel can find to wear is a maid’s uniform, much to his embarrassment.

Princess II, #2, 1 October 1983

Princess 2 cover

Contents

  • The Incredible Shrinking Girl! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Mr Evans the Talking Rabbit (photo story)
  • Ring of Feathers (artist Santiago Hernandez)
  • Miranda’s Magic Dragon (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Stairway to the Stars (photo story)
  • Their Darling Daughter (artist Bert Hill)
  • The Princess Diana story (part 2)
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Princess Diana Pinup

The second issue of Princess II comes with a princess happiness ring. “The Incredible Shrinking Girl!” leads off the cover this time. Clare has now shrunk down to doll size. The parents take her to hospital, but now a media circus is outside to take advantage of the huge story. The parents allow them to do so, despite Clare’s protests that she does not want to be treated like a freak. The parents say they need the money the press is offering for Clare’s treatment – well, that’s what they say, but we suspect greed is overtaking them, and they don’t care for Clare’s feelings.

For some reason they dropped the exclamation mark in the title for “Mr Evans the Talking Rabbit” that appeared in part one. The rabbit explains to Jenny that he is Mr Evans, the owner of the local joke shop. He was trying out a book of spells, but it backfired and he turned himself into a rabbit. Obviously, the consequences of meddling with magic when you don’t know what you’re doing.

Miranda doesn’t fully know what she’s doing with magic either, although she is the granddaughter of Merlin. She’s unwittingly whisked herself from the days of Camelot into the year 1983, but at least she’s found a friend and guide to help her with the time and culture shock. However, the evil Mordac is not far behind and has sent his unfortunate-looking servant, in the form of a raven, to 1983 to steal the “magic dragon” pendant from her.

In “Ring of Feathers”, Cheryl Gibson is finding misery at her new school as well as at home with abusive Uncle John. The class bullies are picking on her and for this reason nobody dares to be friends with her except one girl – and the birds that seem to be hanging around her ever since she acquired the ring. After the birds teach the bullies a lesson, Cheryl finally begins to suspect something funny is going on.

A bully is out for a punishment in “Stairway to the Stars” as well. Linda picks on new girl Sandy, but Sandy finds some friends to help her punish Linda. They’ve tricked Linda into signing a document saying what a conceited pain in the neck she is, and they’re going to put it up on the notice board (hee, hee!).

In “Their Darling Daughter”, Mrs Crooks suddenly becomes all apologetic and friendly to Sylvie, saying she didn’t mean those threats to get rid of her and it was the grief from Rachel’s death. But then it looks suspiciously like Mrs Crooks has tricked Sylvie into selling two pieces of porcelain that could get her into a lot of trouble with Lady Towne.

Princess II, Issue 1, 24 September 1983

Princess 1 cover

Contents

  • Ring of Feathers (artist Santiago Hernandez) – first episode
  • Mr Evans the Talking Rabbit! (photo story) – first episode
  • Their Darling Daughter (artist Bert Hill) – first episode
  • Miranda’s Magic Dragon (artist Carlos Freixas) – first episode
  • Stairway to the Stars! (photo story) – first episode
  • The Incredible Shrinking Girl! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones) – first episode
  • The Princess Diana Story (part one) – feature
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins) – first appearance
  • Princess Diana pinup (feature)

We start the Jinty blog entries for 2018 with the first issue of Princess, which I was fortunate to find while on holiday. No, not the Princess that later became Princess Tina. This is the start of the second Princess series, which used Princess Diana pictures and life story to sell the comic – sadly, not enough, because it merged into Tammy after 28 issues.

Although Tammy was the title Princess II merged into, she started off as calling herself a sister comic to Girl II, IPC’s photo story comic. Indeed, Princess II was the same type of comic as Girl II, including the same newsprint and page size. She had her own photo stories, though she only ran two at a time, so there was more room for picture stories. There were also more colour pages, which must have made her more attractive to buy. One photo story was in full colour while the other was black-and-white, while the photo stories in Girl were all black and white. Later in her run Princess II switched to the same newsprint and style as Tammy and dropped the photo stories altogether. This must have been why Princess II merged with Tammy instead of her sister comic.

In fact, the letters page of Princess II used letters from Girl as she had not received any of her own yet. The winning letter was the one that made sulky old Grovel grin. Readers must have wondered who Grovel was as they did not see his strip, the resident cartoon strip “Sadie in Waiting”, until the last page. Grovel is the villainous (but humorously so) butler of the piece. Grovel is alway sucking up to his employer, Princess Bee (hence his name), and is a bully and a schemer into the bargain, but Sadie the maid was always on the alert to his game. Princess Bee doesn’t think much of his grovelling either, so we have to wonder how on earth he holds onto his job. I wonder if this cartoon drew inspiration from Molly Mills in Tammy.

The first story, which starts off on the cover, is “Ring of Feathers”. Cheryl and her mother move to Scotland to live with Uncle John. He soon makes it clear to them that he’s a mean type, and we’re soon getting hints that he is criminal as well. Meanwhile, birds have been hanging around Cheryl in an odd manner ever since she was given a ring of feathers as a parting gift.

The first photo story, “Mr Evans the Talking Rabbit!”, is the one that appears in colour, and unlike most photo stories it has been remembered. Mr Andrews has lost heart as a kids’ entertainer ever since his wife died, which is not bringing in money for the rent and they’re on the verge of being evicted. While out on an entertainment job, daughter Jenny is very surprised to encounter a caged rabbit that can talk, and it doesn’t appear to be her father’s ventriloquism. But we don’t find out what’s going on until next week.

In “Their Darling Daughter”, Lord and Lady Towne foster Sylvie, a girl in a children’s home, while still grieving for their daughter Rachel. There’s some mystery as to how they actually came across Sylvie and why they fostered her, but there’s one person who is determined to get rid of her. No, it isn’t a spiteful stepsister or cousin, which is usually the case. It’s Mrs Crooks the housekeeper, who worshipped Rachel and doesn’t want anyone taking her place. Unlike most of these types of schemers, Mrs Crooks does not keep her campaign secret from her unsuspecting victim. She tells Sylvie straight off that she wants her out, and why. This story is also unusual for using Bert Hill, an artist who was seen frequently at DCT, but not at IPC.

“Miranda’s Magic Dragon” is not a real dragon. It’s a magic dragon pendant that Merlin bequeathes to his granddaughter Miranda before he dies. Unfortunately Miranda has not got the hang of its magic yet, and her first disaster is to be transported from the days of Camelot into the year 1983. Talk about a fish out of water! Meanwhile, Merlin’s enemy Mordac is after the pendant, and we are getting hints that he is about to make his presence felt in 1983. Gee, what’s he going to make of that time period? Miranda has almost been hit by cars as well as culture and time shock.

Oddly for a girls’ comic’s first lineup, there is no ballet story. Still, we get plenty of dancing in the second photo story, “Stairway to the Stars!”, which is the black-and-white photo story. It is set in a stage school and has a soap opera feel to it. So we get a school story into the bargain.

Clare Humphreys is recruited to test a range of products. She feels it is unhealthy because they are so full of chemicals, but she does not realise how right she is until they start making her shrink.

Towards the end we start seeing Princess Diana herself. It’s part one of her life story, and on the back cover we get the first Princess Diana pinup.

 

Girl II #151, 31 December 1983

Girl 151

  • Splat! (photostory)
  • Animal Poem (feature)
  • Fun Fashion: Going in Disguise (feature)
  • Tippy’s Special Pool (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Special Friend – text story (artist Jenny Gable)
  • Beauty Resolutions: I Promise… (feature)
  • The Kitty Café Cats (artist Joe Collins)
  • The Secret Society of St. Nicola’s (photostory)
  • Flower’s First Days (feature)
  • Patty’s World (artist Purita Campos)
  • Slaves of the Nightmare Factory (photostory)
  • Help Me! (problem page)
  • Police pinup (feature)

This issue of Girl II was published on New Year’s Eve 1983, so it is not surprising there is a New Year’s resolutions feature. The Kitty Cats are also having a dispute over their New Year’s resolutions – the first one of which turns out to be “We promise not to argue”. Meanwhile, Patty hasn’t even got up to Christmas Day yet, and Christmas Eve is anything but merry because Patty’s stepfather has fallen foul of a road accident.

Splat the alien needs a food called “blengrens” in his alien language – which turn out to be peas – in order to remain a convenient doll size and not his usual 10 metres. But he might have been better off growing back to 10 metres after all because he’s now been kidnapped by Rita Harrison and Thelma Crow, the worst enemies of his friend Wendy Collins.

Nobody realises “Tippy’s Special Pool” is being used for dumping chemical waste, which has now poisoned Tippy the otter and his friend Frances. Can it all be cleaned up in the final episode next week?

“The Secret Society of St. Nicola’s” swears to help a new pupil when the headmistress does not allow her to keep her pet at the school. Still, the headmistress’s position is understandable when you consider the pet is a crocodile!

The plight of the “Slaves of the Nightmare Factory” grows even bleaker after escapee Ellen Crawley dies in suspicious circumstances. In punishment for her escape, the girls are given even higher dress quotas to meet. At least the toady is punished too, by losing her privileges and having to share the girls’ rotten diet. Then Natalie falls dangerously ill, but the crooks’ only response is to shut her in the Punishment Box because she was too ill to meet her quota. Amanda is shut in there too. On the other hand, this enables Amanda to discover that fate has played a cruel trick on the man who is the mastermind of it all, and it could cause everything to explode in the crooks’ faces.

Slaves of the Nightmare Factory (1983-84)

Sample Images

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Published: Girl (second series) 10 December #148 – 14 January 1984 #153

Episodes: 6 (with four-page spreads)

Reprint: Girl Monthly (issue number unavailable)

Artist: Photo story

Writer: Unknown

Special thanks to David Roach for scans

This is the only group slave story (girls become slaves in a cruel institution/business/racket/regime) run by Girl II from IPC. Its publication is unusual as it came at a time when the group slave story had long since faded at IPC. Tammy, which used to pioneer in slave stories and Cinderella stories, had stopped running them by the late 1970s. Jinty had her share too in her early days, particularly Merry at Misery House, but had given them away by the late 1970s as well. Lighter fare had taken over from dark stories filled with tortured heroines that had made Tammy so pioneering and made her the blueprint for the early Jinty and the short-lived Sandie and Lindy to follow.

It is most unusual for a group slave story to be published in photo story format, so Slaves of the Nightmare Factory may even be one of a kind.

Plot

Amanda Harvey and Natalie Jones (whose mother works for the wealthy Harveys as a cleaner) are best friends despite their differing backgrounds and Natalie secretly envying Amanda’s wealth. But one day some thugs kidnap them and bring them to a dress factory, which abducts girls for slave labour.

The racket is so secretive the girls do not even know the name of the factory manager; she just tells them to address her as “Ma’am”. The factory itself is located deep underground somewhere near the London dockland and disguised as some sort of wasteland above. Later we discover the goons themselves do not know the identity of the man who owns the factory. There will be more on the factory owner later.

The racket has been going on for a long time; one girl, Sandy, has been there for three years. Another girl, named Ellen Crawley, has been there for two, and is clearly cracking up because she is having constant hysterics. Nobody has ever successfully escaped from the factory, and the racketeers like to constantly reinforce this point to demoralise the girls.

Ma’am is under strict orders to kidnap only runaway girls. However, recent slave shortages have driven her to break the rules; hence the abduction of Natalie and Amanda, and probably other non-runaways too.

Amanda and Natalie soon discover that getting the dresses churned out is like a monomania with Ma’am. Much of her cruelty towards the girls is driven by her single-minded obsession about producing the dresses and making sure the girls meet strenuous quotas. Girls who fail to meet their quotas go to the dreaded Punishment Box, which means spending the night, or even 24 hours, in a crate where the victim can neither stand up nor stretch out.

The racketeers provide no necessities of life for the girls, including medical facilities: “They don’t even have ‘band-aids’! They don’t care what happens to us!” The food is dreadful; it’s nothing but bread and a foul-tasting slop (delivered in a bucket!) that the girls just have to get used to. In return for better food, one slave girl named Sarah has turned Ma’am’s toady and works as an overseer and guard (and bully) in the workshop where Amanda and Natalie work.

Conversely, Ma’am allows the girls to have a television set. This is the only way the girls can see anything of the outside world, which they are completely cut off from because the factory is so deep underground. The television set enables Amanda and Natalie to see that their abduction has hit the news. Ironically, Natalie’s mother is making her appeal while wearing one of the factory dresses.

During this time Natalie confesses her envy of Amanda, who says her envy’s no good now. Natalie also starts applying her notebook and journalistic ambitions to keeping a secret record of their slavery.

Then Ellen manages to escape, and hopes rise that help is coming. However, Ma’am directs the girls to a news broadcast, which informs them that Ellen died during her escape and her body was found in a reservoir.

In punishment for Ellen’s escape Ma’am increases the girls’ arduous dress quotas even more. Sarah does not emerge unscathed either: Ma’am withdraws her special rations for failing to stop Ellen and she must now eat the same substandard food as the other girls. But the girls realise Sarah will try to regain favour with Ma’am, so they must be even more careful around her.

Eventually the slavery takes its toll on Natalie and she falls ill at her sewing machine. As Natalie cannot meet her quota, Amanda tries to cover for her. However, Sarah reports them and in return is given back her special rations. Amanda and Natalie are sent to the Punishment Boxes.

While Amanda is in the Punishment Box the owner of the factory passes by and she overhears the conversations that are made. It is at this point the goons say that even they do not know who the owner is. But Amanda identifies him from his voice – it’s her own father! So the racket is the source of the wealth Natalie had so envied.

Amanda reports her discovery to the other girls, but is not sure what to do about it. For his part, Dad has clearly somehow begun to suspect who kidnapped his daughter because he orders polaroids to be taken of the girls kidnapped over the past month for him to check through the following night. Amanda had overheard him giving that order and guesses the reason for it.

Natalie’s condition is now so bad that Amanda persuades all the girls to join her in a mass breakout in a desperate bid to get help. After tying up Sarah they all set off, with Amanda dragging the sick Natalie (and her notebook) along. Amanda’s father unknowingly passes by them while returning for the polaroids, which also helps them to find the exit to the factory.

When Dad discovers the escape – and Amanda’s photograph among the polaroids – he orders his henchmen to discreetly let Amanda and Natalie go while rounding up the others. He does not realise Amanda and Natalie have hidden themselves in his car. Ma’am is astonished at Amanda and Natalie being allowed to go. Dad just tells her that her disobedience in kidnapping those two girls who were not runaways has caused him a lot of problems. He then orders her to clear out the factory and move the girls to the other workshops because the police will be coming soon, which suggests there is more than one factory.

As Dad approaches his car Amanda is surprised to hear him whistling, because he only whistles when he’s happy. She does not realise he thinks he has managed to get her back while keeping his operation relatively intact. But there are a couple of things he does not know either…

Dad drives straight home. Mum and a policeman assigned to the kidnapping case are there too. They are quite surprised when Amanda suddenly walks in. After a brief reunion with Mum and a call for an ambulance, Amanda gives them Natalie’s notebook, saying it contains a complete record of everything. She has not explained things yet, but gives them the impression her father is suspect and Dad realises she has found him out. Dad crumples in his chair, Mum looks at him with suspicion, and Amanda says he’s not her father anymore. Amanda goes back to Natalie and tells her that soon the whole world will know their story.

Thoughts

As Nightmare Factory is a photo story, the setting has to be in modern times (period settings would have been too expensive and difficult), which makes the slave racket all the more horrifying. You expect this sort of thing to belong to the past or Third World countries, not 20th century Britain. Seeing the cruelties inflicted on pictures of actual flesh-and-blood girls as opposed to artistically drawn girls may add to the horror even more. And the black-and white photographs perfectly complement the grimness of the situation.

Nightmare Factory certainly is a very dark story, but it doesn’t go over the top with its cruelties or descend into absurdity as some group slave stories do. Its cruelty remains rooted in dark, gritty realism and delivers some real shockers, such as the death of Ellen from what looks like culpable homicide if not first-degree murder. There is an insidious overtone to the whole racket and so many unanswered questions about it (like Ma’am’s real name never being revealed), which makes the story even more disturbing and creepy. Insinuating that there are other Nightmare Factories makes it even more frightening; most of the cruel outfits in slave stories are stand-alone operations.

Perhaps because Nightmare Factory is a photo story, it is not a long story in comparison to other slave stories. There are only six episodes, although each has four pages rather than the usual three. So the plotting is extremely tight while the pacing is well handled and it does not feel rushed. Unlike so many group slave stories, it is not padded out with a lot of middle (constant failed escape attempts, tortures being laid on ever more thickly, schemes to score one over the villains, getting medical aid for fellow victims), which can get tedious and meandering before the story finally reaches its climax.

As the serial uses photo story format and live models, the villains look less stereotyped than they would be in picture-story slave stories. Ma’am is quite a change from the sinister crones and old dragons that so often serve as the main slave drivers in slave stories. The model does a brilliant job with the facial expressions in conveying Ma’am as a cold, ruthless bitch. It is also quite surprising to see a couple of non-whites among the henchmen (if none among the girls in the workshop).

From the beginning, Amanda is the strong-willed protagonist who is determined not to break and resolves to escape and bring down the racket. She is a rich girl, but is neither spoiled nor bratty. Sometimes rich girl protagonists in slave stories are that way, in which case the slavery knocks the arrogance out of them, turns them into more sober girls and brings out their strengths. But not in this case. The rich girl is established as a sympathetic character right from the first, when just before the kidnapping she tries to persuade her father to give Mrs Jones a raise because she is so concerned at how the Joneses have so little while they have so much. However, the father insists Mrs Jones’ wage is fair although it does not let them afford much. This gives a hint of the sort of man he really is, although Amanda always regarded him as a kind man before she discovered his secret. Amanda remains the one to bring down the racket. But the way in which she does it is most unexpected and awry from how the protagonist usually brings it down, and it’s a perverse twist of fate that causes the whole racket to backfire on Mr Big himself.

However, there is no redemption for Amanda’s father. He loves Amanda enough to let her escape, but we doubt he would have done that if he had known she had discovered his secret. The twist of Amanda’s own father being behind it all puts a sting into the tail that means the story will not end on a trite happy ending. Amanda does regain her freedom, saves Natalie, and is reunited with her mother. But she can never really be happy again now she knows what her father has done, and it will blight her life forever.

The ending is a bit unsatisfying because it leaves us dangling on the fate of the Nightmare Factory. Knowing the factory is being cleaned out and its operations shifted elsewhere makes it all the more troubling. There isn’t so much as a text box to wrap things up and tell us what happened to the girls and racketeers in the end. We only have Amanda’s final word to reassure us that justice will be done.

Girl and Tammy 25 August 1984

Girl cover 25 August 1984

  • The Return of Splat! (photo story) – first episode
  • Animal Poem – competition
  • Olly Decides! (artist Trini Tinturé) – complete story
  • Let’s Go Pop! Regular feature
  • The Kitty Café Cats – cartoon (artist Joe Collins)
  • Wham Pinup – feature
  • Village of Shame (photo story)
  • Patty’s World (artist Purita Campos, writer Phillip Douglas)
  • The Final Curtain (photo story) – last episode
  • Help Me! – problem page

We continue exploring the context of Jinty’s family tree with Girl. IPC published Girl from 14 February 1981 to 1990. Later IPC published the Best of Girl Monthly, which reprinted stories from the original comic.

This was the second series called Girl; the first was a comic that ran from 1951 to 1964. Another photo story/picture story comic, Dreamer, merged with Girl in 1982. Tammy was scheduled to merge with Girl in 1984 but was instead dropped after a strike, leaving her stories unfinished. None of the Tammy stories carried on in Girl. Only the Tammy logo made it, mysteriously appearing on Girl’s cover (as is the case here), some time after Tammy disappeared with no explanation. It appears about the time Tammy was originally scheduled to be cancelled, so it was probably meant as a token gesture. All the same, Girl readers must have been puzzled by the sudden appearance of the Tammy logo. In 1990, Girl merged into My Guy.

Note: As Tammy came out Monday and Girl Thursday, my theory is that Tammy, being originally meant to be cancelled in late August, was set for cancellation 22 August and readers instructed to pick up the week’s issue of Girl on Thursday 25 August.

Girl II was largely a photo story comic, but always included two picture stories. One was the regular, “Patty’s World”, which made its way into Girl after going through several other titles. The other picture story was a serial or complete story. The photo stories were in black-and-white. Strips included “Nine to Four” (written by Pat Mills), “The Haunting of Uncle Gideon”, “No Mother for Marty”, “The Pink Flamingo”, “Slaves of the Nightmare Factory“, “The Evil Mirror”, “Wish of a Witch”, “The Runaway Bridesmaid”, “The Perfect Pest” and “To Catch a Thief”.

Most of the photo stories were about school, boyfriends, horse riders, gymnasts, theatre and ballerinas. But some photo stories did have a supernatural theme, such as “Wish of a Witch”, where a girl is given a ring that can grant seven wishes. But she gets greedy and also wastes several wishes because she is not using the power thoughtfully. “Splat” and its sequel, which starts in this issue, are among the few Girl photo stories to delve into science fiction. Occasionally the photo stories used the theme of tortured and abused heroines as well. One, “Slaves of the Nightmare Factory”, was about a racket where girls are abducted and used as slave labour in a dress factory – in the 1980s.

The early Girl annuals are noteworthy in that they reprinted serials from Tammy, Jinty and Misty. These include “Tricia’s Tragedy”, “Secret of the Skulls” and “Journey into Fear…” – which was a badly abridged reprint, with about half of the material cut out. The annual would have done better to use a shorter serial or one that lent itself more readily to abridging.

And now we turn to the issue that has been chosen to represent Girl. In this issue, we see the start of a sequel to an earlier Girl story, “Splat!”, about a space alien. Splat returns in response to a call for help from his Earth friend Wendy. But another alien has landed too. Is it friend or foe?

It is the final episode of “The Final Curtain”. It is the final curtain in more ways than one because Julian Berridge, who has been giving Sherry Martin acting lessons, dies on stage after helping her give the performance of her life.

In “Village of Shame” the Walker family are on holiday at a fishing village – only to find it mysteriously empty. Except for some bank robbers who are now holding them hostage! But the bank robbers could be in trouble too if there is some supernatural force responsible for the empty village. And it’s not much of a holiday for Patty either – she has discovered the holiday chalet her family booked got destroyed in a cliff collapse! And the place they do end up in delivers another whammy – Patty’s arch enemy Doreen Snyder is there too!

“Olly Decides!” is a complete story, where a dog has to end up choosing between the girl who has taken him over and loves him, and his previous owners who have suddenly turned up to claim him.

References

http://ukcomics.wikia.com/wiki/Girl_(1981-1990)

http://britishcomics.wikia.com/wiki/Patty’s_World

http://britishcomics.wikia.com/wiki/Girl_(IPC)

Dreamer 17 October 1981

Dreamer cover

  • My Strange Sister (photo story)
  • Shari King – Shark Girl (artist Juliana Buch)
  • Dawn Dreamer (cartoon)
  • Rose Among Thorns (photo story)
  • Cliff Richards – pinup
  • Pattern Printing – feature
  • Ugly Duckling (artist Santiago Hernandez)
  • Dog-in-the-Middle (photo story)
  • The Silver Ballerina (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Who Stole Samantha? (photo story, writer Alison Christie Fitt)
  • Shower Power! (feature)

Like Girl, Dreamer was a 1980s IPC title that was a blend of photo stories and picture stories, and the blend seemed to be more balanced than in her sister comic Girl, which consisted of mostly photo stories. Dreamer was probably inspired by the popularity of Girl, a title that lasted nine years. However, Dreamer proved to be another short-lived title. It lasted 35 issues, from 19th September 1981 to 15th May 1982. It then merged with Girl.

We are privileged to know the writer of “Who Stole Samantha?”. Alison Christie Fitt, who has been credited more often with emotional stories, is writing a detective story here. Cheryl Homes (not Holmes!) is investigating who stole her sister’s doll, Samantha. She has to check six suspects and it is a race against time because little sister is pining for Samantha so badly that she refuses to eat.

“My Strange Sister” is also a mystery story. Joanne, who has been wheelchair-bound since an accident, is noticing her sister Eve is acting very strangely all of a sudden and sets out to discover why. But that wheelchair could be a handicap to investigations.

A ballet story is always a guarantee in a first lineup, and in this case it is “The Silver Ballerina”, about two girls who accidentally had their identities switched as babies and haven’t a clue until the power of the silver ballerina bracelet begins to reveal itself. Eduardo Feito demonstrates that he can draw beautiful ballet, and it is a pity he wasn’t called upon more regularly to draw ballet stories.

“Rose Among Thorns” is the school story. Rose is having trouble settling in at her new school and crossing a lot of bullies. And snooty old Mum nearly breaks up the only friendship Rose has there because the girl is not good enough for her. A dog is causing problems with another friendship in “Dog-in-the-Middle” where two friends start falling out over who should own the dog.

Our shark girl is a real cheat who has cheated all her way to team captain. Now she’s got her swimming team cheating against other schools. No doubt readers are reading on to see how her comeuppance shapes up. Meanwhile Sandra Swann is dubbed “Ugly Duckling” and trying to turn herself into a swan by learning to skate. It would do her well to take more care with her appearance too.