Jody has become evil thanks to an additional spell from the witch Mother Heggerty. She now believes she is capable of anything, regardless of how terrible it is, and is loving every minute of it. How is she going to break free of Mother Heggerty’s power when right now she doesn’t even want to?
Cassy gets even more of a taste of how totalitarian this Land of No Tears is. She learns the Hive Inspector, who’s about to pay a visit, has powers to take you away: “No one knows where to, but you never return!” Shades of the Gestapo! Miranda is terrified she will meet this fate if the Inspector finds out she is secretly seeing her mother, and she breaks off with Cassy. Meanwhile, the ruthless Perfecta breaks off with her own friend to train every waking hour for the Golden Girl Award. Cassy is shocked to see the former bosom pals “walking away from each other like robots!”
Ella bravely sets out to learn to waterski to win the competition for Clem, in the face of everyone who’s against her because they think she deliberately caused Clem’s accident. But her first attempt at waterskiing is such a disaster she’s lucky she didn’t hurt herself.
The same can also be said for sneaky cousin Rodney when he steals Katie’s roller skates to overtake her in the “Race for a Fortune”. But he soon finds he’s nowhere near as good on them as she is. He goes careering down a hill and lands on the back of a rodeo steer with her! Roller skating is back in the hands of the expert by the end of the episode. Thanks to his little stunt she has taken the lead again, and she’s gotten a lot of money out of it as well.
In “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!”, a thief breaks into the school, his first attempt at crime. But his remark that he could become the world’s leading cat burglar really is asking for it with Henrietta around, especially when she’s the first thing he tries to steal. Needless to say, his first attempt at crime is his last by the end of the episode.
In the Gypsy Rose story, Susanna is given a snowstorm and finds it has a tale to tell, with each instalment appearing every time she shakes it. The trouble is, the tale is scaring her to death. Gypsy Rose tells Susanna that she must either follow it through to know how the tale ended or put the snowstorm away. Susanna decides to follow through because she must know (not to mention us readers) what the ending is, but what will the final shake of the snowstorm reveal?
Maggie’s sleazy stepfather shows what an abuser he is when he gets so mad he locks her in the coal shed without food or water. Then he refuses to let her see her TV debut, so she has to go to a TV shop in pouring rain to see it. Maggie has a good mind to tell Miss Keyes about the abuse, but she’s staying quiet because Mum doesn’t want word to get around.
Alley Cat is back. Arch-enemy Spotty Muchloot picks on him for first aid practice, and now poor Alley Cat looks like an oversized cocoon. But can he still turn things around?
Phil finds out the girl she saw being bundled off in the middle of the night is named Carol, and her mother is clearly not telling the truth about things. Phil manages to wheedle Carol’s current address out of the mother, enabling her to write to Carol. Carol’s reply is a coded message for help. The plot thickens!
This is Jinty’s first issue for 1978. It’s not her New Year issue, which took the odd turn of being on the last day of the old year 1977, but there are still New Year themes. We also get a delightful feature about Mark Hamill of Star Wars.
Jinty starts her first story for 1978, “Waking Nightmare”. The nightmare begins when Phil Carey is woken up by toothache and sees a girl being dragged off in the middle of the night. Her parents don’t believe her, and at the house where Phil saw the girl being taken, the mother denies everything – but she does make odd remarks about a secret and trouble she hoped to leave behind. We’re suspicious already.
Sue’s new year’s resolution is to be extra-nice to people, and she urges her fun-bag to hold her to it. But she soon finds her excessive niceness is turning her into a nuisance and now she’s in trouble with a lot of people. We suggest your resolution should just be yourself, Sue.
On the subject of niceness, Mother Heggerty has found the Saxtons and wants revenge on them, but she finds her slave Jody is too nice for that. So she casts an additional spell to make Jody evil. Now why the silly old witch couldn’t have picked an evil girl like Stacey from Jinty’s Slave of Form 3B in the first place we’ll never know, but we’re deeply worried. The spell is bound to make Jody far more evil than any genuinely bad girl we’ve seen in Jinty.
In the Land of No Tears, the cold-hearted residents get a real surprise when the “reject” Gamma Girls beat the odds and are through to the finals of the Golden Girl Award. It should be a victory celebration for Cassy, but security have put the damper on everything by saying they will be sending the Hive Inspector over to make enquiries. And judging from the way Miranda’s mystery mother is reacting, this Inspector is kind of like the Gestapo.
In part two of “Darling Clementine”, Clementine (Clem) is in a coma after some horrible girl knocks her into the river. Worse, her cousin Ella is being accused of it instead, and everyone, including her own Uncle, turns against her. Poor Ella is not even allowed to visit Clem in hospital. Not knowing what else to do, Ella bravely decides to train herself up for the water-ski event that Clem was going to enter.
“Race for a Fortune” takes a spooky turn, but a hilarious one. Katie thinks her cousins’ latest trick is to play Roman ghosts on her at an old barn. So when a pair of glowing Romans does appear, she thinks it’s a huge joke and plays along with it. But she learns later that the glowing Romans weren’t her cousins. In fact, they scared those cheating cousins off. Unfortunately, not right back to the beginning of the race.
The strife over “Two Mothers for Maggie” takes a very bad turn this week. Mum forbade Maggie to go to Miss Keyes’ party, where she could be on the rise as a star. Maggie goes there anyway and soon she is on the rise after saving Miss Keyes’ dog. Then Mum comes along in a terrible temper and drags her out in front of everyone. How embarrassing! And it’s not over. Poor Maggie has to face the wrath of her unfit guardian stepfather next week.
Jinty’s gearing us all up for Christmas with Christmas covers, Christmas features, Christmas jokes, and a Christmas party story from Sue and her Fantastic Fun-Bag.
There is a dash of Christmas with a yew tree walk in this week’s Gypsy Rose story, but definitely not in the Christmas spirit. New owners are warned not to cut down the yew trees or they will evoke a druid’s curse. Of course they do precisely that, and if they can’t find a way to lift the curse their very lives could be danger.
“Race for a Fortune” also gives a hint of Christmas, because it’s party time this week. Katie drops in on the Larrup Stick Dance and takes the opportunity to give her cheating cousins some “stick” after that dirty trick they played on her in the last issue.
It may not be Christmas in “Land of No Tears” – something we highly doubt is celebrated in that cold-hearted world where all emotion is banned. Still, it is as good as Christmas when Miranda’s mysterious mother offers to train the Gamma girls for the Golden Girl Award after Cassy takes a brunt to protect her and Miranda from being caught by the ruthless Perfecta.
What about presents? Maggie gets presents, in the form of lovely dresses, from both her real mother and her TV mother. Unfortunately the presents are creating conflicting loyalties.
In Alley Cat it’s Christmas stockings. Spotty is unravelling people’s sweaters and pinching the wool right off their backs, in order to knit his own giant Christmas stocking. What a grinch! We can imagine what his stocking will be filled with on Christmas Day.
In the last episode of “Stage Fright!” it takes a fire and the loss of his mansion because of the deranged Lady Alice to make Lord Banbury realise all he had cared about was the acting trophy and not enough about his family. Granddaughter Melanie is not quite ready to forgive him, but the story ends on a hopeful note that a better relationship will build between them.
Not much happens this week to advance the plot in “Come Into My Parlour”, except wait for the full moon in order to cast the spell to help unravel the mystery of the vanished Saxtons. But bullies get a surprise when the power of Mother Heggerty’s necklace enables Jody to give them a good walloping!
So the mysterious white horse is a mare! After a time trip to the past, Janey realises the white horse is Epona, the horse goddess, and it is a power that has awakened in response to the threat of the motorway. She returns to her own time with the sword she has taken as a symbol of Epona’s strength and compassion, and finds Epona has gathered a horse army. Now what can Epona have in mind? Let’s not forget she’s a goddess, and not even bulldozers are a match for a goddess.
It’s the final part of Jinty’s Christmas mobile. Jinty readers should be feeling more Christmassy now.
In “Land of No Tears”, the mystery of Miranda’s mother deepens, but some things are unravelling about it. Cassy finds out Miranda and her mother are secretly meeting each other, an illegal thing in a world where all emotion and normal human contact are forbidden. One is reminded of the Orwellian “Imagine a boot stamping on the human face – forever.” But who is the woman anyway? Why does she turn up in disguise? And why can’t she come up with a better disguise than a ridiculous wig and heavy makeup that would immediately draw attention and put her secret even more at risk?
Sue asks Henrietta to put a stamp on it – meaning on a letter. But, as is so often the case, Henrietta misunderstands and gives Sue a foot that stamps on anything – and with the force of an elephant.
Katie’s sneaky cousins pull the old signpost switch on her. This causes her to bump into a band of smugglers, and she has to find a way to escape from them. We are informed Katie will get revenge on her cousins next week.
“Stage Fright!” reaches its penultimate episode. The deranged Lady Alice has been blocking Linda and Melanie from acting because she stands to gain Banbury Manor out of it. But upon hearing Linda has foiled her attempt to stop Melanie entering the acting trophy, she decides that if she can’t have the manor, nobody else will. She’s going to burn it down – with Linda locked inside!
In the Gypsy Rose story, Dee also falls foul of a deranged woman who locks her in. The nutty old woman thinks Dee’s her lost daughter Celia, who eloped to marry the man she loved, not the man her mother chose. She does not realise Celia died before she got the chance to reconcile with her. Fortunately, Celia’s ghost is on hand to help.
Maggie’s first TV rehearsal is ruined because Mum lumbered her with babysitting. Miss Keyes, her TV mother, is the only bright spot in her life now. Why is it that the make-believe mother she has on the set is far more desirable than the real one who married an unsuitable stepfather?
Mother Heggerty forces Jody to search for the Saxton family she wants revenge on. The search leads Jody to the remains of their old home, and the next step is a spell cast there to find out what happened to them.
Janey goes time travelling to the time of the ancient Celts, where she becomes the chosen one of Epona the horse goddess. In this time period the villagers face a threat, just like the 20th century ones, though the threats are of very different sorts. Is this why Janey keeps seeing this white horse? Is she some sort of chosen one or a reincarnation?
Alley Cat makes a new home in a pipe after Spotty blows up his bin. Spotty sends it rolling downhill, and right where it foils a bank robbery. Alley Cat spends his reward money on a new home that Spotty can’t blow up. Foiled again, Spotty!
In this issue, Jinty starts her buildup to Christmas with a four-part Christmas tree mobile. It’s got us thinking about Christmas already, eh? She also starts a four-part feature on how to throw original parties. The first is a Victorian-themed party.
Phil Gascoine’s artwork is taking a break from Jinty. It turns out to be an uncharacteristically long one that lasts well into the new year. His artwork is not seen again in Jinty until July 1978, with “The Changeling“. Now this is puzzling, given that periods between Gascoine serials were usually short in Jinty.
Three new stories start. The first is “Come Into My Parlour”, where Jody Sinclair falls under the spell of an evil witch, Mother Heggerty. The second is “Two Mothers for Maggie”, where Maggie Jones launches on an acting career after nothing but doing chores at home for her sleazy stepfather, only to find herself torn between her real mother and a make-believe mother on the set. The last is “Race for a Fortune”, where Katie McNab really has to get her skates on when her miserly Uncle Ebenezer’s will dictates that the first of his young relatives to reach Yuckiemuckle under their own steam and without money will inherit his fortune. Of course Katie’s rivals Rodney and Caroline are not playing fair or obeying the conditions of the will.
In “Land of No Tears”, Cassy is learning – the hard way – more about the harshness of the dystopian world of the future she has landed in. Perfecta’s idea of teaching Cassy disclipine is to force her to stand under a sub-zero shower for 15 minutes, then says she does the same thing herself for 30 minutes each day. Then Cassy is shocked to see girls who are deemed rejects like herself and relegated to the “inferior” Gamma class to do slave work are not even disabled by our standards. Wearing glasses, having clumsy thumbs or bearing a scar from a childhood accident are enough. What can Cassy do about this? She’s already come up with something to show the Gammas the Alphas are not so perfect: a practical joke on Perfecta to make her lose her temper in front of the Gammas, something Perfecta is not supposed to do because Alphas have to repress their emotions. And boy, is Perfecta steaming! She definitely is not one to joke with. We know Perfecta will make Cassy suffer for this, but Cassy’s plan pay off?
Beryl is a pain in the neck who sometimes appears in “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!”. This week she’s a tattle-tale with a superior attitude. She boasts she always tells the truth. Henrietta decides to take Beryl at her word and put a spell on her to make her always tell the truth – literally. This soon reveals that Beryl is not as perfect or honest as she likes to have everyone think.
The moral of this week’s Gypsy Rose story is to listen if you’re warned about dangers. Kay disobeys her brother Bruce’s warning not to attempt a piece of pot-holing that’s too tricky and advanced for her, and naturally she runs into big trouble. Then she is surprised to get help from the Little People. An additional moral might be to do some research about pot-holing, as none of the pot-holers are wearing helmets.
Janey discovers the council has plans to bulldoze the village and part of White Horse Hill for a motorway. Could this have something to do with why she keeps seeing that white horse when nobody else can?
In “Stage Fright!”, Linda is teaching mute Melanie to be a mime, and she’s got a real talent for it. Then she discovers the frosty Lady Alice is out to crush Melanie’s talent, and she’s done a really good job of turning Melanie against her. But why is Lady Alice doing this anyway? Another mystery to unravel about the Banbury family.
The Journey Story or Quest was a popular story theme at certain points in Jinty and in other titles. Indeed, at some points in 1976, it would have been possible to be reading an issue of Jinty which included three or even arguably four journey stories in the same week’s comic (see 24 April 1976 for an example). It’s a story framework which allows the creators to vary the setting and characters as much as they like, and to experiment with a range of local touches if desired (Scottish kilts, Welsh mountains, or European stereotypes could be brought in depending on the story). Within a Quest theme the dramatic tension is kept up, too – the protagonist is always thinking of the thing that keeps them on the journey – the danger they are avoiding or the goal they are trying to reach.
The journey story is of course focused around a lengthy journey, but it is also something of a quest, as the protagonist has someone she needs to find or something she needs to do before she can stop journeying. She does not just head out for the fun of it or to see the sights; there is some motivating reason for her to keep moving. Apart from the journey element, the other themes of the story can be fairly varied: there are journey stories in Jinty which are rooted in science fiction, humour, love of aninals, and more.
“Song of the Fir Tree” (1975-76). This story has siblings Solveig and Per traveling across Europe after they are released from the concentration camp they were held in during WWII. They travel from Germany to Norway under their own steam, constantly having to keep one step ahead of their enemy Grendelsen (though at the same time, unknown to them, their father is chasing after them also).
This was the first journey story printed in Jinty. Clear precursors outside of British girls comics are “I Am David” and “The Silver Sword”, both of which feature long journeys and have child protagonists dealing with the aftermath of WWII.
“Fran of the Floods” (1976). After her home town is overwhelmed in flooding, Fran Scott travels the length of an apocalyptic Britain to see if her sister is alive and well in Scotland. This popular and well-remembered journey story is one of survival against the odds and courage in the face of barbaric behaviour on the part of other survivors.
“Bound for Botany Bay” (1976). Betsy Tanner is transported to Australia; in addition to the lengthy sea journey, once she gets to Botany Bay she runs off and travels across dangerous countryside, eventually finding her father who was sentenced to transportation earlier on.
“For Peter’s Sake!” (1976). Set in the 1930s, Carrie Lomax has a brother who is seriously ill. Her grandmother’s pram has rocked many babies back to good health in a seemingly miraculous way and she hopes that it will do the same for little Peter. However, Carrie and the pram are in Scotland and the rest of her family is in London, and she needs to push the pram all the way back to him on foot.
“The Darkening Journey” (1977). Thumper has been separated from his owner Julie, who is moving house with her family, across Britain to the west country. To add to the pathos, both of them are going slowly blind: Julie because she needs an operation to cure her, and Thumper because of an accident at the time they were separated. Together with his friend Beaky, a clever talking rook, he travels towards the setting sun to see if he can be reunited with his beloved owner.
“Race For A Fortune” (1977-78). This is a humourous take on the journey story: Katie McNabb must race her snobby cousins in a journey to inherit her skinflint great-uncle Ebeneezer’s money. The one who reaches Ebeneezer’s home village of Yuckiemuckle first, starting out from the south of England with no money to help them, will win the race and the terms of the will. Katie and her cousins battle it out, each overtaking the other at various points on their travels.
“Somewhere Over The Rainbow” (1978-79). This is the longest, most epic of all the journey stories in Jinty (indeed so long is it, at 36 episodes, that to date I have quailed before the mighty task of writing a story post for it!). Dorothy and Max are an orphaned brother-sister pair who run away from the state care they are put into when their mother is killed. Inspired by the Wizard of Oz song, they travel from the south of England all the way to Scotland, hoping to find happiness at a care home called Rainbow’s End.
Updated to add: a post on this story has now been added.
Edge cases and uncertainties
The core stories listed above all feature epic, dangerous, and long journeys as a central aspect of the story. There are other stories in Jinty which feature travelling on the part of the protagonists, but without it being such a central part of the plot.
“Then There Were 3…” (1976). This is more of a mystery story: ten girls hire a narrowboat and travel on the water for some time, but the plot primarily focuses on the mystery of what is behind the occurrences that spook the girls. Is it something supernatural in origin, or is it down to a purely human villainy?
“The Big Cat” (1976-77) When her grandmother dies and she is evicted from the gypsy camp she lives in, Ruth travels with the big cat Ayesha that the story is named after. We do not currently have a story post about this to confirm if this is more of a journey story, or a fugitive story where the protagonist runs away and spends time in hiding rather than in travelling towards a clear goal.
Not to be confused with…
There are plenty of stories that include an element of journeying or travelling, such as those ones where the main character runs away: for instance Jinty‘s first issue includes the story “A Dream for Yvonne“, where Yvonne runs away from the circus to become a ballerina. She does not travel throughout the story unceasingly until she reaches her goal, though: she runs away multiple times, loses her memory, is threatened by jealous rivals, and is eventually accepted by both her family and the ballet school. The journeying is not the main point of the story, but rather her challenge lies in how to be accepted by family and friends.
Likewise in many stories there is a dramatic finale where the protagonist runs away either to elicit sympathy or to enact some specific deed: Gail in “Gail’s Indian Necklace” and Lee in “Daddy’s Darling” are two such examples from Jinty‘s early days. I am not counting these either, as the main focus of the story is again not on the journey itself, which is pretty limited in the span of story time that it takes up.
Fugitive stories may overlap considerably with the journey story, but again the key question in my mind is whether the fugitive keeps running, or mostly hides away somewhere. “Always Together…” (1974-75) has an orphaned family (well, almost – read the story summary for more detail) who run away from the welfare state mechanisms which are threatening to split them up. They do not keep running continuously, but instead camp out in a few locations and fend for themselves throughout the bulk of the story.
There are a few stories with castaways (“Desert Island Daisy“, “Girl The World Forgot“): if you are going to be cast away on a desert island you can hardly avoid having travelled, somewhere along the lines! But the focus is then on the predicament of the main character, not on a prolonged journey. The same goes for “Alice In A Strange Land” which has a transatlantic plane journey at beginning and end of the story, and a dramatic crash landing in an early episode, but which does not focus on those elements in the core plot.
Journey-themed stories were of course not confined to the pages of Jinty, though the April 1976 spike in popularity of these stories is perhaps only seen in this title. The following stories are not meant to be a complete list of journey stories, but just to give a flavour of the prevalence and the variety of them across both IPC and DC Thomson. (Many thanks to Mistyfan for providing scans of the below and other stories, and also to Lorrbot and the Girls Comics of Yesterday site, which I checked for mention of journey stories.)
Glen, A Dog on a Lonely Quest (Tammy, 1971)
Janet and her Travellin’ Javelin (Debbie, 1974)
Towne in the Country (Tammy, 1976-77)
The Ride-Away Randalls (Debbie, 1978)
The Wandering Starrs (Bunty, 1978-79)
One Girl and Her Dog (Tammy, 1978-79)
Jumbo and Jet (Tracy, 1981)
Jet’s Incredible Journey (Suzy, 1986)
This post is already rather long, but I have more thoughts about the theme. Another post will follow, discussing aspects of how journey stories actually worked in more detail, looking at some of the stories mentioned above.
With many thanks to Christine Ellingham for sending through such detailed and interesting answers to the interview questions below – and of course also thanks to her for getting in contact in the first place!
Question 1 – Can you please give a bit of background context to your time in comics – when did you start doing work for picture strips / comics titles, and what got you into them in the first place? You say that your time as a strip artist was short – what led you to cut it short, if there was anything specific?
As with a lot of the jobs I have done over the years, I arrived at IPC, then Fleetway Publications, purely by accident and good luck.
I had been a staff layout artist plus fashion illustrator on a girls’ teenage magazine called, Go Girl! (This is where I first met Malcolm Shaw.) Go Girl! was part of City Magazines, the magazine division of The News of the World. This was in 1968.
Unfortunately, Go Girl! folded after a very short life and it was suggested that I approach Leonard Matthews, the then Director of Juvenile Publications, not sure of his correct title, at Fleetway. I did, and was offered a job there. In those days it was relatively easy to move around from one job to another.
Initially, I was placed in a department with several other people, not a specific title, where we did odd jobs for different papers, i.e. illustration, lettering, pasteup and, in the case of Alf Saporito, cartoons. I remember John Fernley being one of us, possibly Tony Hunt, though I’m not sure.
After a short period I was moved to the Nursery group, under the managing editor, Stuart Pride, and there I worked on a new publication called Bobo Bunny. This had come from Holland and needed adjusting size wise and certain content adaptation making it suitable for the UK market.
By now John Sanders was the overall editor of the juveniles. I have a feeling I wasn’t the first to be offered the position of art editor of a new girls’ paper called Tammy but I accepted it nevertheless and moved from juvenile to teenage. John Purdie was the editor and Gerry Finley-Day and Iain MacDonald made up the editorial team.
Under John, we gathered writers and artists and the aim was to compete with D.C. Thomson’s Bunty and maybe other titles of that type. I remember John and I made a trip to Rome to talk to the Giorgetti stable of artists and we were wined and dined by Giorgio Giorgetti and his American wife. We also attracted all the relevant artist’s agents, Danny Kelleher and his son Pat of Temple Arts, Linden Artists and Bardon Art for example, and collected together a group of strip artists, writers and balloon letterers.
Eventually, Tammy was launched and did very well. I was able to contribute a small amount of artwork, the back cover of the first edition is mine, but really my job was to get it all together, see the agents and in one case, the artists themselves (I remember Roy Newby used to deliver his own work) but usually the agents would deliver the artwork.
I have to admit, I was not entirely happy in the role of art editor. I had studied illustration at Hornsey College of Art and that was what I wanted to do. I left Fleetway 1971/72. Barry Coker and Keith Davis of Bardon Art represented mainly Spanish strip artists. I thought that maybe I could ‘have a go’ at doing this as a freelance and doing it from Spain. Barry and Keith took me on and my then partner and I moved to Spain. Just like that! This was 1972. Amazing really.
First of all my work was for D.C. Thomson; they waited for a whole series to be complete before publishing so as I was a novice and slow, this suited me. Fleetway needed an episode completed in a week, too much for me then. I am hazy about the titles, there may have been something called, “Warning Wind Bells” and another with an Egyptian theme with a character or a cat called Nofret, or these could have been later for IPC. I have a few old diaries of that time and one story I worked on I have only the initials of the title, S.O.S. I wonder what that stood for! 1972. There was “Topsy of the Pops”, “Vet on the Hill” and “Lindy Under the Lake”, all for Thomson’s circa 1973. (This is the date that I drew them, not necessarily of publication.)
As agents, Barry and Keith were superb. They made sure I was never without work, one story followed immediately after another, that I was paid promptly and they gave me such good advice regarding page layout, technique and story interpretation.
While I was still working on Tammy I started to have problems with my right hand (I am right handed), it not functioning properly. This continued to get worse when we were in Spain and instead of speeding up and refining my style the opposite was happening, my work deteriorated. Bardon Art kept me going but eventually we had to return to England in 1974, where I continued to struggle depressingly.
During the Spanish time I illustrated at least two Annual covers, Tammy 1972, including the front endpapers depicting National Costumes and Sandie Annual 1973, plus various spot illustrations. I still have these annuals. Or I could have done these before Spain.
After inconclusive tests that found nothing terribly wrong with my hand or me generally, the GP at the time suggested I learn to use my left hand. After thinking initially, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, I realised this was my only option. I remember one ten-part story for Thomson’s started with me using my right hand and gradually with training, ended using my left hand. I can’t remember which story that was.
From then on things got better. I speeded up and developed my style. Bardon got me the first IPC job. I’m not one hundred percent sure but it could have been, Cove of Secrets or Secret Cove, something like that, for the Jinty Annual possibly 1974. Also The Whittington’s Cat Princess, DCT, around the same time. To this day, I draw, paint and write using my left hand.
“Concrete Surfer” came later. That particular story stands out for me because it was such fun to do. It was all action with hardly any background, it was very modern and I love doing figure work. I remember we bought a skate board so that I could see what it looked like from all angles, a helmet too, still got them!
I cannot remember how many strip stories I worked on after “Concrete Surfer” but at some point I felt the need to move on, that I wasn’t being stretched any more. Bardon Art were no longer able to represent me, as strip was their speciality, and sadly, we parted company. I started contributing illustrations to Oh Boy, Loving and other IPC papers for older teens.
After a few years I moved on again and, as an illustrator, contributed to national newspapers, women’s magazines, house magazines, mail order publications, coin design, greetings cards and so on.
The work was still there after my retirement but the need to move on again got the better of me and now I paint, back in Spain.
Question 2 – On the blog we are always very keen to try to establish any creator credits for artists and writers, as these are otherwise very likely to get lost in the mists of time. As far as we can tell from the art style, it looks like you drew three stories for Jinty (“Race for a Fortune” (1977-78), “Concrete Surfer” (1978), and “Dance Into Darkness” (1978) plus some covers and spot illustrations, as well as a story in the Lindy Summer Special (1975) and in the Jinty Annual 1978. It may be asking too much at this distance in time, but what other work do you recall doing and in which publications?
I would have to look at these stories that you mention to verify that I actually drew them! As I have said, Concrete Surfer stands out because for me it was a joy to do. The others, some I have managed to see on line and they do look vaguely familiar. At the time I used my partner as a model. I found men more difficult to draw than women and girls and I have noticed him in certain frames even though I tried hard to make them not look like him! When I see him I know that I did that one!
Question 3 – At the time it was very usual for artists and writers to work quite separately from each other, particularly freelance creators. Was this the case with you, or did you know others working in the same area? I ask partly in case there are any interesting stories or anecdotes that you can relate at this distance in time, but also in case you remember any names of people on the creative or publishing side that can feed in to our information of who did what.
Yes, this was the case for me. Artists do lead a solitary life and being freelance meant I would be at my desk not wanting to be interrupted. The deadlines, especially for IPC, were pretty tight. In my case the work would be delivered to Bardon Art and they would take it to the publication in the case of Fleetway, a few minutes walk away. Though in Spain I posted it directly to DCT. Nevertheless, Barry and Keith were very much involved and would add their comments sometimes.
While we were in Spain the work was rolled into a tube and posted. The tubes had to be open at both ends, some string threaded through and tied and a description of the contents had to be stuck to the outside, or left with an official at the post office.
I did meet one artist in Spain, Miguel Quesada. It was he who told me how to send artwork to England. He and some of his very large family, (a lot of mouths to feed), visited us unexpectedly. He was one of Bardon’s and a contributor to Tammy. I never met any of the other artists apart from Roy Newby, but that was before I was a contributor myself.
I did meet John Jackson when he was the art editor of Jinty and of course, Mavis Miller.
Question 4 – I am keen to understand more about the creative and publishing processes of the time. Presumably the writer supplied a script, and the editor chose the artist, but I don’t know how everything interacted. Did you get any guidance (say as part of the written script) or conversely any interference from the editor or art editor, or was the published page pretty much under your design control including the composition of the page?
Yes, the editor would choose the artist, art editors didn’t have much say in the matter, (Though this is just from my experience of working on Tammy.) And I think the editorial team would have suggested an idea for a story to the writer, again, this is how it happened on Tammy.
The artists were given a lot of guidance. Before even starting, we would be briefed on the content and theme of the story, to get to know the main characters. In the case of IPC the scripts would come one at a time, having only just been written, probably. The artist would receive a document containing the dialogue for each balloon and the positioning of the balloons had to be in that same order in the frame, also, there would be instructions on the action and mood in the frame, i.e. the heroine to look sad, the bad girl to look vindictive; a closeup and so on. The composition of each frame would be influenced by the order and size of the balloons and the overall design of the page would have had input from the editor. Quite a lot to work out, now I come to think of it! [An example of a script has been previously sent in by Pat Davidson, wife of Jinty story writer Alan Davidson: see link here.]
I always had to submit pencil roughs that would be shown to the editor for his/her comments. In Spain there were many visits to the post office, pencils going off to Stan Stamper in Dundee, coming back with comments, a finished, inked episode flying off, the two passing each other on the way. Also, we artists had to work ‘half up’ so there was a lot of ground to cover. [‘Half up’ means using a larger piece of art paper – half as much again as the finished size, so that for instance if the finished publication is 10 inches by 12 inches, half up would be 15 inches by 18 inches – with the artwork being photographically reduced in size during the production process.]
Question 5 – A slightly self-indulgent question but with a point to it – how did you come across the Jinty blog? Was it a case of happening to suddenly remember something you worked on years ago and searching for it, or being sent to it? (I ask because I would love to hear from other creators from the time, and if there is anything I can do to increase the chances of someone posting a comment saying that they wrote or drew a story from the time, I will certainly consider it.)
I’m trying to think. How did I find it? I get carried away on the internet sometimes. I think I was looking up an old friend of my now husband’s, the two of them used to work together on Eagle, Swift, Robin and Girl papers, as balloon letterers and layout artists. I started looking at Girl artwork as I do have a couple of Girl Annuals, No.3 and No.5. I noticed that the writers and artists all got a credit; one name I recognised was the artist Dudley Pout, I wonder if he contributed to any of the Jinty stories? Though he was probably of another generation.
The friend of my husband had died but in reading his obituary I found links to other sites and by then I was interested to see if any of my work was featured anywhere, the only title I could think of was, “Concrete Surfer”!
Edited 20 February 2018 – this artist has now written in to identify herself as Christine Ellingham.
As per my post last year about the unknown artist who drew “Merry at Misery House”, we still have a number of Jinty artists who remain unidentified. One key one is the artist on “Concrete Surfer”, who also drew two other stories and a number of one-offs in annuals and summer specials. As with my post on the ‘Merry’ artist, I will for convenience refer to this artist as ‘she’ though I don’t have any information one way or another about whether this might have been a female artist or not. (Partly this is optimism on my part, as I would really like to know of more female creators in this medium aimed at girls!)
The Jinty stories attributable to her are as follows:
This artist also did a few stories in one or two summer specials / annuals:
Lindy Summer Special (1975)
Jinty Annual 1978
All three of the stories illustrated by this artist are dramatic and memorable, but the pick of the bunch has to be the classic “Concrete Surfer”, with its fantastic skateboarding scenes and great page layouts that bring the sports action to life. Below are the three pages from the episode printed in Jinty‘s 200th issue, dated 25 March 1978.
I wonder why this fantastic artist only drew these few stories for Jinty – and, more importantly, I wonder what she went on to do afterwards? It very much feels to me as if she developed her style and stretched herself during her relatively brief run in Jinty.
As ever, any information leading to a positive identification of this artist will be very gratefully received.
We have also recently used this story in particular as the basis for some OuBaPo experiments in using existing artwork while relettering the story, to see what different effects can be gained. My original post here shows some of this artist’s work with the text removed, which gives an interesting different view of it, while Mistyfan reworked the page to include new text.
Guardian of White Horse Hill (artist Julian Vivas)
Stage Fright! (artist Phil Townsend)
Jinty Pops the Question! (quiz)
The Scarecrow of Dread – Gypsy Rose story (artist Terry Aspin)
Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
Race for a Fortune (artist Christine Ellingham unknown Concrete Surfer artist)
More Flowery Fun (feature)
Jinty is gearing up for Christmas with her Christmas mobiles. And things gear up elsewhere in the issue as well. In Land of No Tears, Cassy’s getting her ideas together to liberate the Gamma girls. And her plan is to train them up to win a top sports award. In part two of Race for a Fortune, Katie has to get her thinking cap on to raise money because under the terms of her Uncle’s will, both she and her scheming cousins had to set off without money. In Stage Fright, a doctor is called in and Linda tries to get him to help Melanie. Can he help Melanie to remember her past and break her free from the scheming Lady Alice? Janey learns that her Guardian of White Horse Hill was a Celtic goddess! And in Two Mothers for Maggie, step-dad still thinks acting is a waste of time for Maggie, and he gets abusive when he finds out she has gotten a job on television.
Douglas Perry is drawing his first serial for Jinty, Come into My Parlour, about an evil witch who enslaves a girl with a spider-like necklace. It’s strange that both serials Perry drew for Jinty had witch themes. The first features the typical evil crone who is out to cause trouble with her evil magic, while the pendulum swings to the other end with the second, Shadow on the Fen, which depicts witches as they really were – wise women who helped people with folk magic and the real evil lay with the people who persecuted them. Maybe it’s Perry’s style that made him the choice for drawing these serials?
Although Halloween was a month ago, there is a distinctive Halloween flavour with this week’s Gypsy Rose story. A terrifying scarecrow and horrible turnip faces are scaring Oonah Jack at the farm she is trying to run. Fortunately for her, she has Gypsy Rose for company.
Girls’ picture libraries. The monthly Commando-style digests where girls could read a complete 64-page story every month as a supplement to their regular weekly comic. Thrillers, humour, drama, horror, supernatural, heart-breakers, fantasy or science fiction stories were told in a once-a-month, one-volume complete story.
The picture libraries also provided stories about favourite regulars such as The Four Marys, Wee Slavey and The Comp. Occasionally there were variations in the formula, such as a story being told over two picture libraries, or a picture library featuring several short stories instead of one complete one. One example was “Scream!” (not to be confused with the IPC comic of the same name), which told five scarey stories to make you scream.
Picture libraries were a long-running staple of four of DCT’s titles: Bunty, Judy, Mandy and Debbie. The Bunty picture libraries lasted 455 issues. This is not surprising as Bunty herself is the longest-running girls’ title in history. The Mandy books finished at the same time as the Bunty ones, but at 277 books. Judy produced 375 books and Debbie 197 books. Towards the end of the run reprints appeared although original stories continued.
In IPC the girls’ picture library had a more unusual and uneven history. June and Princess Tina were the only titles to produce any long-running ones. In fact, the June picture library eventually recycled the old Princess logo to become the wordy title, “June and School Friend and Princess Library Picture Library“. Maybe this was why “Picture Library” was dropped on the cover at some point after #458, though the spine continued to say “June and School Friend and Princess Picture Library” to the end of its run.
Tammy and Jinty were never given any picture libraries although they lasted the longest after June. Yet the photo-story comic, Girl (series 2) was given her own picture library. This lasted for just 30 books. Miniscule compared with the rich histories of the June picture library and its counterparts from DCT. But what gives Girl Picture Library its place on this blog is that although some of the libraries were original material, many of them also reprinted material from Jinty and Tammy.
Most of the reprints appeared under revised titles, some of which were awful and showed little thinking. For example, “Vision of Vanity Fayre” from Tammy was reprinted in Girl Picture Library #2 under the the extremely lame title of “Dear Diary”. Strangely, the last three Girl picture libraries reprinted Tammy stories under their original titles.
There were some oddities and even downright sloppiness in the run, which may indicate what sort of budget or editorship that the series was running to. For example, the cover of #16 (reprint of “My Heart Belongs to Buttons”) changes the appearance of the heroine. Readers must have been surprised or irritated when they opened the issue and found the brunette heroine inside bearing no resemblance to the girl on the cover. And the girl who appears on the cover of #25 (reprint of “Shadow on the Fen”, above) has the wrong hair colour – she is blonde on the cover but is a brunette in the story. The witchfinder too looks different – he looks younger and has a fuller face than the craggly gaunt face rendered by Douglas Perry. Still, it is a beautiful, haunting cover.
A more striking oddity was “Sue’s Daily Dozen” being reprinted over two volumes: “Spellbound” and “Bewitched”. But there was no indication in “Spellbound” to say “to be continued”. Readers must have wondered why the story suddenly stopped abruptly. The remaining pages are devoted to “Tiny Tina”, which is Wee Sue under a revised title. “Cathy’s Casebook” also appears in two volumes: “Cathy’s Crusade” and “Dr Cathy”. But the reprint is even odder in that “Dr Cathy” does not come immediately after “Cathy’s Crusade” – “The Old Mill” is in between them.
Naturally, some material and panels had to be cut or modified to make the reprints fit into 64-page pocket size volumes. For example, “Moments of Terror”, which reprints “Waves of Fear”, deletes Priscilla Heath and the orienteering club sequences. Both of these played a key role in the resolution of the story in its original run – realising that the panic Clare Harvey had while her friend was drowning in a cave was a claustrophobia attack and not the cowardice that has made her the most hated girl in town. The revelation is now made by Clare’s mother after Rachel tells her about the trick Jean pulled – playing on Clare’s claustrophobia – to get her expelled.
On the other hand, the editing also mercifully reduces some of Clare’s ordeal; for example, the hostility Clare receives from the townsfolk has been removed completely. Some of the bullying at school and the harsh treatment Clare gets from her parents has been deleted as well. The editing is pretty seamless, but there is one glitch: when Clare is pushed to the brink of suicide, she thinks the business at the club was the last straw. With the orienteering club deleted, readers must immediately have wondered “what club?” or “what’s missing here?”. They would know it’s been reprinted from somewhere else because there was always a caption saying “previously published” for the reprint material.
Cutting out material also had the unfortunate effect of removing key turning points in some plots. For example, the reprint of “Thursday’s Child” removes the scene where an evil flag forces a man to nearly saw his own hand off. Yes, it’s gruesome. But in the original run it was what made the villainess, Julie, who had been using the flag’s power to conduct a revenge campaign against her future mother, Thursday, come to her senses and realise the flag had to be destroyed.
Below is a list of the Girl Picture Libraries, along with their original titles and appearances. The only one that has not been identified is “Penny’s Best Friend” in #8. It could be that this was an original story as not all the Girl Picture Libraries carried reprints, but I need to confirm this.