Tag Archives: Princess

Last Tammy Ever Published: 23 June 1984

Tammy cover 23 June 1984

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)
  • No Use to Anyone! (Eduardo Feito)
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Secret Sisters – first episode (artist Maria Dembilio)
  • A Walk in the Country – feature
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Jemima and the Arabian – a Pony Tale (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Top Girls! – Feature (Mari L’Anson)
  • I’m Her – She’s Me! (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Cora Can’t Lose (artist Juliana Buch)

This is the last issue of Tammy ever published – for the wrong reason in that Tammy simply disappeared after this, leaving all the stories inside unfinished. In particular, former readers are still frustrated to be left dangling on the penultimate episode of “Cora Can’t Lose”. The final episode was set for the next issue, but there never was a next issue. Only a few months later did Tammy reappear, but in logo only, which appeared on a few issues of Girl.

What happened? From what another Tammy enthusiast, Marionette, has pieced together from former IPC, Tammy was due for cancellation anyway, but not until August. Presumably, Tammy was then to merge with Girl. Then, after this issue was published, there was a strike that took many weeks to settle. By the time it was, the Tammy editors decided not to pick up where they left off, because it would have taken even longer to finish the stories. So everything here was dropped and left unfinished.

Tammy was not the only title to disappear because of the strike. The same went for “Scream!”, which was only on its 15th issue when the disaster struck. (Despite this, “Scream!” has become a cult favourite and its issues can command high prices.) But unlike Tammy, “Scream!” was allowed to continue in Eagle and finish things off. Presumably Girl did not have the room to complete Tammy’s stories, because she was nearly all a photo-story comic. But IPC still had a duty to the Tammy fans to let them know how the stories ended, which they did not meet. Unlike “Scream!”, there is no evidence of the unpublished material appearing in Tammy’s holiday specials. Tammy’s remaining annuals did not take the opportunity to publish any of the material either, except perhaps the Button Box stories; instead, they went for reprints. Another possibility could have been a special final issue that included the last episode of Cora and potted summaries for the other stories, but that wasn’t done either.

It is also telling that Tammy has dropped the Princess logo all of a sudden. Princess had only merged with Tammy in April, so dropping the logo of a merging comic in such a short space of time is disturbing. It hints at the direction Tammy was going with her sales and what was in store for her had the strike not intervened.

So just what inside was left dangling? First, Bella finds a coach who offers to get her back into proper gymnastics – on condition that she quit the acrobatics she has done with Benjie. But this will mean letting Benjie down. Bella is left with a tough choice to make, but we never find out what she decides. Ironically, it is virtually 10 years to the day here that Bella started: she first appeared on 22 June 1974.

In “No Use to Anyone!”, Kirsty gets some tips on how to train her puppy, Clumsy. But now the blind Clumsy has been trapped by a herd of cows, and Kirsty is terrified of them too. We never find out how she rescues Clumsy.

“Sadie in Waiting” had come over from Princess, and it brings Grovel, the first villainous butler since Pickering of “Molly Mills”, to Tammy. Grovel is out to win the “Servant of the Year” award in his usual fashion, which does not include working hard or honestly.

Sadie

In Tammy’s reprint of “The Forbidden Garden”, Gladvis has started blackmailing Laika over her water theft. This is about to include forcing Laika to do a dreadful job in the dreaded industrial zone, with water instead of money for wages. Perhaps the reprint of “The Forbidden Garden” had something to do with Princess, which had reprinted several old serials from Tammy and Jinty in her final issues, including “Stefa’s Heart of Stone“, “Horse from the Sea” and “The Dream House”. However, it is a bit surprising that Tammy chose to start reprinting a long serial when she was set for an August cancellation, and it is unlikely that Girl would have had the room to finish the story. So one wonders how the reprint would have been finished off. In the previous issue, the story had a double-up spread, but that is not the case here. Perhaps once Cora was finished, there would have been more double-ups until the merger.

“Secret Sisters” starts in this issue, but sadly never got beyond episode one. Jill Paget is an adopted child who wishes she had siblings. Then she finds out she has three sisters who were adopted separately and wants to find them. Next week is supposed to include a “surprise move”, but we never find out what it is.

In “Pam of Pond Hill”, Pam is set to move on to Tess Bradshaw, the third classmate she is going to stay with while Pam’s family are away. But all of a sudden Tess says she can’t have Pam and even slams the door in her face. The blurb for next week tells us that we are going to find out what is wrong with Tess, but we never do.

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Incidentally, Pam’s various sleepovers with her classmates have developed their characters and home lives in surprising ways. During her stay with Goofy, Pam was surprised to find that Goofy could be extremely determined when he fixed his mind on beating something. The trouble is, that determination could take him to obsessive levels. Pam’s stay with Di (Diana) has changed the life of Diana’s mother for the better. She is going to be less house-proud, just to satisfy the demands of her husband, while he is going to be less demanding of her.

There is no Button Box story in this issue. Instead, we have the last Pony Tale ever published, “Jemima and the Arabian”. The Arabian is proving a bit too spirited for the stablehands until the horse strikes a surprise friendship with a cat called Jemima. Next week we are promised a complete tennis story, but we never get it.

“I’m Her – She’s Me!” is Phil Gascoine’s last, and incomplete, story for Tammy. Nice Paula Holmes and nasty Natalie Peters have somehow switched bodies after a strange lightning strike. Natalie is all set to explore new avenues of nastiness under her new identity while Paula is desperate to get help. She finally does so in this episode, where she manages to convince her ballet teacher of what happened. But then they strike new problems – Natalie has now gone and broken one of the legs in Paula’s body, and then Natalie’s unfit father shows up and is trying to drag Paula, in Natalie’s body, back home, where he has something unpleasant in mind for her. We never find out if the ballet teacher manages to rescue her, how the girls get their bodies back, or, for that matter, just how that bolt of lightning caused them to switch bodies in the first place.

(Click thru)

And now we come to the most frustrating part of Tammy’s sudden disappearance – the penultimate episode of “Cora Can’t Lose” with no final episode ever coming after. When this story came out, it really had me hooked and I was anxious to find out what was going to happen in the final episode. From the sound of comments on the Internet, so were a lot of other readers.

Cora Street has gone on an obsessive sports cup-winning frenzy to win the respect of her parents, who kept sneering at her for not winning sports trophies as they did when they were at school. But this is putting Cora’s life in danger, because she cares more about winning the trophy her mother failed to win than seeking treatment for a head injury that is currently affecting her vision and hearing and will ultimately kill her if left untreated. Not even the identikit issued by the hospital in this episode brings her to her senses. And now the injury is causing another problem: it may have caused Cora to unwittingly spike her main rival during an event. If she’s right, she could face disqualification and be out of the running for the cup.

Final note: The ending of “The Forbidden Garden” is known because it is a Jinty reprint, and a summary of the story can be found on this site. If anyone has any information on how the other unfinished stories would have ended, they are welcome to drop a line here.

 

 

‘Remembered Reading’ by Mel Gibson; book review

Remembered Reading: Memory, Comics and Post-War Constructions of British Girlhood“, by Dr Mel Gibson; ISBN 9789462700307, published by Leuven University Press, June 2015. Reviewed by Jenni Scott.

Remembered_reading

British girls’ comics are not much written-about, either within academia or within comics fandom. Even the people who read these comics as children tend to move away from then in their teenage years and forget about them as adults, until a deep well of memory is probed and an undercurrent of (often very strong) emotion is released. In looking at how people talked and thought about girls comics in the past, and how people talk and think about them still, this book is a great review both of the memories of the former girl readers, and of the criticism – often ill-informed or inadequate – made of these comics.

To be clear up front, this is an academic work based on Dr Gibson’s research for her doctoral thesis, and published by an academic press within a series of ‘Studies in European Comics and Graphic Novels’. Some of the writing includes some specialized vocabulary or concepts (in fact this is generally not too bad but it could put some people off). Perhaps more importantly for a work on comics, only a very few illustrations are used: this sort of book typically has definite budget constraints and it is hard to obtain permission to use this sort of old material (especially for free). It is not a lavish reference book for a general audience! Having said that, Dr Gibson has chosen wisely in including a four-page “Belle of the Ballet” story and an absolutely corking two page photo story from “Shocking Pink”. It also includes a very solid chapter on ‘The Rise and Fall of the British Girls’ Comic’, which provides an outline of publication history and of the development of this market. Its real strength, though, lies in the number of questions, thoughts, and avenues for investigation that it has provoked in me during my reading. (And what better thing can you say of an academic book than that it is fruitful?)

So, what is the book all about, in more detail?

Coverage

In the Introduction, Dr Gibson sets out her stall. This book aims to look at how the genre of comics aimed at British girls developed and why they disappeared, while also looking at other comics that were read by girls (such as American superhero comics) and to a lesser extent also at the phenomenon of boys reading girls’ comics too. This is in order to challenge the received idea in our Anglo-Saxon culture of comics as being by and for boys and for men: a prejudice that forgets and belittles the history of girls comics. Because it proved hard and expensive to get hold of issues of girls comics themselves, or at least in the range and quantity you’d need to do a good overview, Gibson ended up not looking at the titles directly, or the stories in them, but rather at people’s memories and what was important enough in those memories to stick with them until she interviewed them years and decades later. (These were interviews done at a range of events typically held in libraries, schools, and other organizations, thus not targeting a body of already-identified comics fans.) At the same time, Gibson is clear about needing to look at the history of British writing on comics too: a history that comprises a strand that considers comics functionally as an educational tool, a strand that reflects enthusiasm and positive interest in the medium, and a larger third, critical, strand that starts from the premise that comics are bad for readers. (Even in the Introduction, it’s obvious that Gibson is writing from the point of view of a keen and positive reader of comics herself, so that while she outlines and discusses the critical strand there’s no fear she is likely to endorse it.)

Chapter One starts off talking in more detail about why it was so hard for Gibson to find copies of the girls’ comics she would have liked to work on: you might not have thought this was a particularly interesting aspect to lead off with, but it actually reveals some interesting attitudes on the part of the comics dealers she was in contact with. The dealers themselves had prejudices and misconceptions about girl comics readers: they argued that girls only got given comics out of duty and “did not really like them”, while at the same paradoxically still keeping them – meaning that dealers ended up with stashes of girls comics that they didn’t value either, and typically destroyed rather than sell! So a perceived lack of interest in girls comics becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Mass media writing about girls comics, too, ‘flattens’ and reduces the diversity of comics actually produced and read, and paints the comics that girls read as being all about boarding schools and middle-class respectability.

Between her own experience, the interviews with readers, and even some interviews with women involved in the creation of comics, Gibson promises us a much more nuanced view not only of the value and interpretations that girls do place on comics, but of the range of publications actually on offer at different times, and the relevant differences between them, particularly including perceived differences of class. This nuanced view is used not only to challenge the views of the dealers but also those of the few academics or educationalists who have written about this area. The analysis is even turned inwards too: Gibson confesses that “[a]s a younger reader I dismissed comics for girls as less significant, showing my own entanglement with value judgements and ideology” – a point she develops further in the rest of book that had a lot of resonance for me, too. Nevertheless, when discussing their memories with readers who came forward, she found that “these publications had been an important part of childhood reading”, used to construct the reader’s sense of what it was to be a girl in Britain at the time. (Not that everyone wanted to become a girl if that was what it meant to be one – some readers rebelled in various ways – but it clearly helped to shape them, either way.)

Chapter Two covers the publishing history of girls’ comics in Britain: this is a really good solid chapter which covers the gamut of work and of publishers. It starts with 19th and early 20th century text-based periodicals for girls, which were aimed at and read by a wide range of classes and ages. Girls’ comics themselves appeared rather later, in the 1950s; the key story is “The Silent Three” but the key title that comes under most discussion here is Girl. One particular point of interest in this chronological approach is that Gibson is able to highlight the treatment in Girl of ballet as “acceptable”, “although it had not been long since ballet had been seen as a problematic profession” – that is, although later generations of readers treated ballet themes as boring and conservative, we should remember there was a time when this was far from being the case! Gibson also highlights that titles with a mixture of content – features, fashion, pin-ups as well as comic strips – “came to be predominantly associated with British girls’ comics” (despite also being seen in boys’ titles such as Eagle and Look & Learn). Later titles such as Jackie in particular took this further, of course, and indeed led to the magazine format dominating the teenage and adult markets. At this point there’s a visible split in the market, with the titles for pre-teens (starting with Bunty, Judy, and Princess) being produced primarily in comics form rather than using more of the mixed format. “The comic medium, in not continuing through to periodicals for adults, was reinforced as an indicator of childhood.”

The section on Bunty and the subsequent section on Tammy and the new wave of comics will probably be of particular interest to readers of this blog, and won’t disappoint. There are some quotes from Benita Brown, who talks about writing the stories “Blind Bettina” (publication not traced),  “Hateful Heather”, and “Cathy’s Friend From Yesterday” (both in Mandy). Brown also wrote the sports tips that appeared in Jinty, “Winning Ways”, and it is implied though not stated clearly that she wrote “Spirit of the Lake” too. The final section is also interesting, covering the advent of photo-stories (illustrated by a parody one from feminist title Shocking Pink) and horror themes, before the death of the girls’ comic as a separate medium. Unfortunately for my personal interests, this chapter doesn’t go down to the level of detail I would ideally want to see about ‘production’ points such as sales data, who wrote what, who drew what, or editorial decisions and aims. Nevertheless it is a really good chapter that will give solid reference for anyone reading or researching in this area in the future.

Chapter Three is about how librarians, academics, teachers, and others have thought and talked about comics reading in Britain. It looks at moral panics and the fears that adults who are gatekeepers for children have had about comics: that comics are dangerous unless vetted for appropriate content, poorly-made, and will incite their readers to violent, criminal, or otherwise undesirable outcomes. These fears applied to boys and girls but particularly vehemently to girls; there was also a class element to the fears, with working-class readers felt to be more at risk than others. These worries came from various sides of the political spectrum as there were also plenty of feminist critiques made: that girls’ comics were unnecessarily twee and limiting, that they had too many stereotypes, that they were created almost exclusively by men, that they encouraged a victim mentality (especially the Cinderella and Slave story themes, as you can imagine).

On the positive side, Gibson counters these fears much more thoroughly than I’ve seen elsewhere. She cites Benita Brown as seeing her work in comics deliberately stretching the boundaries of the girls’ comics traditions; Brown also apparently “said that during her period of writing the majority of writers that she found out about, in both IPC and DC Thomson, were women”. (No further details were given on this statement – I’d love to hear more! – I also note that Mavis Miller, who also shaped girls comics publications at the time, wasn’t mentioned.) Gibson also points out the contradictions in the ‘moral panic’ reactions to comics – that commentators are scared comics will make readers ‘lazy’ and unwilling to move on to ‘proper’ books while at the same time noting that high volumes of comics being read tends to go hand in hand with high volumes of other materials being read by the same people. Gibson also points out changes over time in what is shocking and deplorable – at one point ballet is risqué, then Jackie becomes worrying because of its content about boyfriends and fashion, and subsequently titles like Just Seventeen and Mizz seem just as problematic. Each generation sees “a shift in defining what girlhood is and what the concerns of girlhood are.” Furthermore, once you start talking to the readers of the stories about them in more detail, you get a lot more about how they are interpreted or understood by those readers: girls discussed and argued about what they were reading, they interpreted them in different ways, it wasn’t just a mechanical equation or imposition of stereotypes onto vulnerable readers. It is precisely that area of reader response that is so valuable in the subsequent couple of chapters.

Chapters Four and Five are based on her interviews with readers of comics. It covers (of course) girls reading girls’ comics, looking at interview data to see how women talk about their girlhood reading and comparing this to academic writing that often makes incorrect assumptions about how that worked. Pleasingly, Gibson also covers boys reading girls’ comics, and girls reading comics that aren’t intended for girls (or not straightforwardly – she argues that even humour comics intended for a mixed audience are more firmly marked as being for boys than you might think).

Gibson showed through these interviews what readers of this blog will know from personal experience: girls don’t only read girls’ comics as might be assumed, they also read humour comics intended for a mixed-gender audience (The Beano) and titles intended for a male audience (Eagle, superhero comics). They read across class lines (there is often awareness of the idea of comics as a ‘lower class’ thing unless you read the ‘posh’ titles such as Girl). Most of all, readers read widely – borrowing other people’s comics, swapping, buying multiple titles per week – often communally, and with strong feelings about those comics even when remembering them as adults. Comics were fun to read and remembered fondly, but were also an important part of growing up: the transition from reading comics to reading magazines was often a marker of teenagerhood or early womanhood, and not infrequently this transition was forced on the reader to some extent by parents or by peer pressure. So on the one hand comics showed you ways of being a girl in British society (which you might reject by reading boys comics instead, or by interpreting the story differently from the way adults did), and on the other hand they were something you were expected or made to grow out of and put behind you – they belonged to childhood.

And girls comics stayed in one’s childhood, unlike the boys comics which have generated a collector base and fandom around them. Grown women are not, in our society, supposed to be still interested in those childish things for their own sake (though they are allowed to read comics if they have children who they are buying them for), and grown women do not as a rule, indulge themselves in re-buying their old comics and participating in ‘collecting’ activities. This is especially the case considering that comics are quite strongly marked culturally as being ‘for boys’ and ‘for men’, apart from the girls comics which are marked as being ‘of the past’. Some women will buck this trend, of course, but as exceptions to the rule.

The book ends with a good selection of end material, with an index and bibliography that has given me leads for further investigation in the future. One very welcome feature is a list of stories under discussion, which shows convincingly the wide range that Gibson covers. An index is also always useful, though a couple of quibbles – why not include Benita Brown in the index? (Pat Mills is also quoted but not included, so presumably no creators are listed in the index, but this still doesn’t make good sense to me.) Also, why is there no list of figures? There are only about 6 of them so it wouldn’t be a long list but it would be handy to refer back to and seems a striking omission for a book about comics.

I have a host of follow-up thoughts on this in terms of questions this book sparks, and further things to be looked at. This post is already very long though so those will continue separately.

Snoopa (1979-1984)

Publication: (Snoopa) 29 April 1979-21 November 1981; (Crayzees) 28 November 1981-31 March 1984

Artist: Joe Collins

Snoopa 1

(Snoopa’s third appearance in Penny. He comments on the free gift that came with her third issue.)

Snoopa was a regular cartoon in Penny. He was with Penny from her first issue and proved his durability by going not through one merger but two. Of course Snoopa had the advantage of being drawn by the popular Joe Collins, which enabled him to be absorbed into the other Joe Collins cartoon in Tammy. More on that in a moment.

Snoopa 2

(Snoopa, 1 December 1979. Joe Collins is clearly more comfortable with Snoopa, whose appearance looks more developed than in his early days in Penny. And here, Penny makes one of her appearances in Snoopa.)

Snoopa was a mouse who (presumably) is a resident of Pennys house. I do not have the first Snoopa to verify that he did in fact live in Penny’s house, but Penny herself is seen in several of his cartoons. Interestingly, Penny’s face is drawn in a style that aims at realism rather than the cartoony style that Collins uses in his typical drawings of people (see Crayzees below).

Update: I have now viewed the first Snoopa cartoon, in which Snoopa mistakes the plastic cheese gift that came with the first Penny for real cheese and breaks his teeth on it. Penny takes pity on him. It still does not fully confirm that Snoopa lived in Penny’s house, but it can be safely assumed that he did.

Many of Snoopa’s gags centre on food because Snoopa has a big appetite and is often pilfering food. This leads to another running gag – weight loss schemes that have varying degrees of success. Other gags focus on him running the gauntlet with the resident cat with his pilfered food or getting into other scrapes with it.

Snoopa 3

(Snoopa’s first appearance in the Jinty & Penny merger, 12 April 1980.)

And Snoopa continued with his gags in the Jinty and Penny merger. Together with Tansy of Jubilee Street, he was the longest-running Penny feature in Jinty.

On 28 November 1981 Jinty merged with Tammy, and Snoopa merged with the Joe Collins cartoon in Tammy. Originally “Edie the Ed’s Niece”, it became “Edie and Miss T” when Misty merged with Tammy, which brought Misty’s Joe Collins cartoon, Miss T the witch, to the merger. When Snoopa joined, the Joe Collins cartoon became “Crayzees”. In my opinion, “Crazyees” was an even better cartoon than when its respective characters had their own strips. The amalgamation of three gag strips into one meant more characters, and they were very diverse characters. This made scope for more variety, situations, interactions, and a more diverse range of gags that ranged from fantastical (with Miss T being a witch) to gags that centre more on the animals in the strip, such as Miss T’s cat’s birthday.

To celebrate their merger, Edie, Miss T and Snoopa moved into a new house in Crayzee Street – presumably to give the name to their combined strip. Snoopa brings the key to the new house and declares, “I’m Snoopa from Jinty!” This upset one former Penny reader who said Snoopa was properly from Penny. She also complained about Penny‘s gradual disappearance in the merger. But that, sadly, is the way mergers go, and Snoopa did come over to Tammy from Jinty after all. In any case, as Snoopa is moving into a new house, that means he is leaving behind the one he shared with Penny in his own strip – and with it, his Penny roots.

Edie took an instant dislike to Snoopa because he was a mouse, and she never seemed to overcome it. But Miss T’s cat falls head over heels in love with Snoopa – which is really ironic considering that Snoopa had a cat for an enemy in his old cartoon. Snoopa found it increasingly unbearable to have the cat mooning over him and took refuge in his mouse hole. The cat pined, so Miss T’s solution was to make Snoopa the size of a human. The size of a human?!? Oh, well, this is called “Crazyees” after all. Snoopa’s new size displeased Edie, but it made Snoopa and the cat happy.

Crayzees lasted until Princess (series 2) merged with Tammy in 1984 and was replaced with Princess’s Joe Collins cartoon, “Sadie in Waiting”. Personally, I missed “Crazyees” but I guess there was room for only one Joe Collins cartoon in a merger.

Crayzees

(Snoopa, Edie and Miss T come together to form Crayzees. Tammy & Jinty, 28 November 1981.)

Make-Believe Mandy (1974)

Sample images

Mandy 4

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Mandy 5

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Mandy 6

Publication: 11/5/74-31/8/74
Artist: Ana Rodriguez
Writer: Unknown

Pat Mills once said in an interview that there were three lynchpins that a new comic for girls must have (personally, I think there are five). He identified them as the slave story, the friendship story, and the Cinderella story. In the case of the first Jinty, the slave story was “Merry at Misery House”, the friendship story was “Angela’s Angels” – and the Cinderella story was “Make-Believe Mandy”. Mandy was the first Jinty story drawn by Ana Rodriguez, who would be a regular on the Jinty team for the next two years.

Summary

Mandy is the Cinderella of the Miller household. The parents make her do all the housework and slave in their second hand clothes shop while they devote all their attention and money on their spoiled daughter Dinah. The parents send Dinah to a posh stage school and even hire a hall for her birthday. Mandy takes refuge in dress-up and fantasy, and particularly loves to act as a princess.

The Millers exclude Mandy from Dinah’s birthday celebrations, calling her plain, ugly, useless and not fit to be seen with Dinah. Poor Mandy is starting to believe it herself, but tries to go to the party anyway. But when she arrives, the parents tell her that they didn’t want her and to go away. Dad throws Mandy’s present for Dinah on the ground while Dinah says, “D’you think I want my friends to see what an ugly sister I’ve got?” Mandy now realises her family hate her, and she has no idea why. A mystery to be solved and to hook the readers in even further!

Earlier that evening Dad had seen an advert for an audition for a princess in an amateur play, with all applicants receiving 50p. Now that is a bit weird, isn’t it? Dad threw the paper aside while Dinah scorned such a lowly role. But when Mandy comes home, she finds the advert and decides to have a go, despite how the Millers’ taunts erode her self-confidence. After all, a princess is her favourite fantasy. What nobody realises is that the advert has a connection with the reason for the Millers’ hatred of Mandy.

The Millers hate Mandy even more when she passes the audition (which was as weird as the advert, and Mandy thinks it was a setup). If there is one thing they cannot stand, it is Mandy scoring one over Dinah, and they get more nasty than usual whenever she does. This becomes a critical plot point when Dad cottons on to what is going on here.

Ah, so there is more to the audition than an amateur play? Oh, yes. The producer, Miss Madden, promises Dinah a better life if she passes a series of tests. These tests are a test of character – testing honesty, kindness, loyalty, self-sacrifice, courage and other virtues. What have these got to do with the play? Nothing at all – it is obvious this has more to do with the reason the Millers hate Mandy. The first clue we get is when Miss Madden establishes that there is only a three month age difference between Mandy and Dinah, so how can they be sisters? Aha! So Mandy is not related to the Millers by blood, eh?

Eventually, Dad guesses Miss Madden’s motives. He does not explain what he suspects, but he wangles it for Dinah to go for the audition as well in the hope that she will grab what he thinks Miss Madden has in store for Mandy. He also makes a point of not letting Miss Madden know which girl is his real daughter – hmmm … now, that’s interesting! They also start pretending to be nice to Mandy. But of course the selfish, spoiled Dinah cannot pass the tests of virtue. When Dad finds out he is furious. He tells Dinah that she has thrown away the chance of a lifetime and given it straight to Mandy.

What does he mean? Miss Madden tells Mandy the story of the princess of Slareznia, who was smuggled out of the country when a revolution broke out. A governess brought the princess to England, but then they disappeared. Miss Madden and her agents have been trying to trace the princess and bring her back to Slareznia … yes, Mandy is a real princess! The governess left the princess with the Millers and paid for her upkeep, but evidently made a bad choice of guardians to take care of the princess. Then she vanished, leaving the Millers feeling stuck with Mandy. The whole audition setup had been to find the princess and then determine which of the Miller girls was her. Miss Madden has one last test for Mandy – be on the train to Slareznia departing from Victoria Station. She warns that it will be Mandy’s hardest test.

And she isn’t kidding. As said before, the Millers absolutely hate it when Mandy scores one over Dinah, so seeing Mandy on her throne will be the ultimate insult for them and their spoiled daughter. Moreover, they need Mandy in the shop to pay for Dinah’s stage school fees. So they lock her in the coal cellar to make her miss the train. Mandy struggles to get out through the coal chute. It looks impossible, and Mandy even knocks herself out doing so. But eventually she succeeds – something she didn’t think she could do – and makes a mad dash for the station, where she scrambles on the train just as it is departing. Mandy passes the test that seemed impossible, and Miss Madden starts courting her with royal honours. As the train travels on, it passes by the Millers’ house. They are absolutely furious that Mandy has escaped the cellar. And no doubt they will be even more furious when they find she has made it to Slareznia.

Thoughts

Cinderella is a fairy tale, and this Cinderella-based strip is far more fairy tale than Cinderella-based strips usually are. Usually, it is some talent the heroine has, or long-lost relative, or some kind person that becomes an adoptive parent that rescues the heroine from her drudgery with her cruel guardians. But this one is more the stuff that fairy tales are made of, with the heroine turning out to be a real princess, and a series of trials that the good sister passes because she is virtuous, and the bad sister does not because she is spoiled and horrid. The ‘series of trials’ element would be used in another of Jinty’s Cinderella stories, “The Valley of Shining Mist”, in 1975. In that strip it looks even more like a fairy tale because it seems there is real magic at work.

The methods Miss Madden uses to determine which girl is the princess do come across as a bit bizarre, convoluted and contrived. And it all depended on whether or not Mandy would go for the audition, and then stick with Miss Madden once she found there was no play but some weird setup with no explanation. Surely Miss Madden could have worked out something much more credible and simple to find the princess?

On the other hand, it all added to the mystery element – why the Millers hate Mandy – which is another reason readers would have kept reading. Mystery stories were always popular in girls’ comics. The hatred the Millers have for Mandy, and the mystery about the reason for it, add a further level of drama and thrills to the story. Usually the motives of the guardians have in exploiting the heroine are plain to see (cheap labour, greed, laziness, cruel personalities) and are not part of the plot development. But in this story they are, which makes the story a bit different to other Cinderella-based strips, where the story development focuses exclusively on surviving and escaping the drudgery. It also makes the Millers slightly more three-dimensional villains than most cruel guardians in a Cinderella-based strip, who do it just because they are nasty, greedy, and favour their spoiled daughter (if there is one). Eventually, it turns out that this is why the Millers treat Mandy so badly too, but there is more background and edge to it than most.

Penny 1 December 1979 and Seulah the Seal

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(Cover artist: Veronica Weir)

Seulah 1

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Seulah 2

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Seulah 3

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Seulah 4

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This issue of Penny marks the beginning of “Seulah the Seal” (posted above). The cover seems to have an error – isn’t a baby seal supposed to be called a pup? Seulah is the Penny serial that would conclude in the Jinty & Penny merger on 5 June 1980. Seulah must have been hugely popular if his serial lasted six months. Seulah is drawn by Veronica Weir, whose artwork would carry over to Jinty with the merger and illustrate the Jinty classic, “Girl the World Forgot“.

The issue also tells you something about the context behind the merger. When Penny began, she was printed on more expensive paper, similar to that of Girl (series 2). But by this time Penny was printed on cheaper newsprint, the same type of newsprint used for comics like Jinty, and so resembled Jinty more closely in appearance. The same shift in newsprint would appear again in Princess (series 2), which merged with Tammy in 1984. A shift to cheaper newsprint is a sign of cost-cutting, which implies that Penny was in trouble and not meeting costs of the earlier, more expensive production.

Penny gives the impression she was targeting a slightly younger audience than Jinty, what with her name, fairly lightweight fare and adaptations of popular children’s books, such as Heidi and the Secret Seven.  Tansy of Jubilee Street was the best match for the merger, because the zany humour of Tansy suited the flavour of Jinty. One of Penny‘s most striking features was Blunder Girl, a parody of Wonder Woman. Blunder Girl was drawn by J. Edward Oliver, an artist more frequently seen in Buster. Sadly, Blunder Girl did not make it into the merger.

  • The Deliverers (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Sad Sal and Smiley Sue (artist S.D. Duggan) – does not make it to merger
  • Heidi – adaptation (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Seulah the Seal – carries on in mergerr (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins) – carries on in merger
  • Secret Seven Adventure – adapted from Enid Blyton series (artist John Armstrong)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton) – carries on in merger
  • Blunder Girl!! (artist J. Edward Oliver) – does not make it to merger
  • Kathy’s Convict (artist Jesus Peña)

 

Jinty & Penny 12 April 1980

On 12 April 1980, Penny became the second comic to merge with Jinty. The first had been Lindy in 1975. Penny was the more successful of the two mergers because she had more regulars to bring over whereas Lindy had only serials. Lindy‘s resident cartoon, Penny Crayon, did not last long in the Jinty & Lindy merger. During her seven year run, Jinty went through only two mergers while her sister comic, Tammy, went through six in thirteen years.

Discussion of the final issue of Penny can be found here.

Penny‘s most lasting additions to Jinty were Tansy of Jubilee Street and Snoopa, who would make their presence felt in the Tammy & Jinty merger as well. Snoopa was the most enduring of all, perhaps because he was drawn by Joe Collins. This made him easy to incorporate into Edie and Miss T, the Joe Collins cartoon running in Tammy. The cartoon became The Crazyees, which would last until Princess (second series) merged with Tammy in 1984.

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  • Pam of Pond Hill (Jinty) – Bob Harvey
  • Spirit of the Lake (Jinty) – Phil Townsend
  • Seulah the Seal (Penny) – Veronica Weir
  • Tearaway Trisha (Jinty) – Andrew Wilson
  • The Venetian Looking Glass (Jinty) – Phil Gascoine
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (Penny) – Ken Houghton
  • Toni on Trial (Jinty) – Terry Aspin
  • White Water (Jinty) – Jim Baikie
  • Snoopa (Penny cartoon) – Joe Collins