Tag Archives: Richard Neillands

Wee Sue (1972-1982)

Published: Sandie 12 February 1972 to 20 May 1972

Tammy 27 October 1973 to 21 November 1981

Tammy & Jinty merger in “Old Friends”, 26 December 1981 to 10 July 1982

Artists: (Sandie) Vicente Torregrosa Manrique. (Tammy) Mario Capaldi, John Richardson, Robert MacGillivray, Richard Neillands, Mike White, Hugh Thornton-Jones, John Johnston, Jim Eldridge

Writers (known): Terry Magee, Maureen Spurgeon, Iain MacDonald; Gerry Finley-Day also involved

We are now going to take a look at Sue Strong, better known as Wee Sue, and her development from her debut in Sandie to her final years in Tammy.

Wee Sue was one of the first stories to appear in Sandie. Sandie was launched on 12 February 1972 and ran until 20 May 1972, and was drawn by Vicente Torregrosa Manrique. Tammy readers would have been surprised to see how Wee Sue looked back then, as it was radically different to the Tammy version. It was a serial, not a regular weekly feature, and it was played for drama, not light relief. There was no “story of the week” format where Sue’s famous big brains would come up with ways to get out of various scrapes, being the bane of the bullying Miss Bigger, or sorting out someone’s problem. In fact, there is no Milltown, no Milltown Comprehensive, and no Miss Bigger. The logo was different too.

Wee Sue as she appeared in Sandie
Wee Sue as she appeared in Sandie
Wee Sue as she appeared in Sandie

Instead, Sue is a scholarship girl at exclusive Backhurst Academy, which has emphasis on sport. But it is facing closure, so Sue is trying to come up with a way to save it. Sue has other problems too, such as facing prejudice because she is a scholarship girl. Sue’s appearance is also different from the one Tammy readers are more familiar with. She is still a midget, but she has freckles and a more rigid bob style than the tousled one she would acquire in her later stories.

Still, the elements Sue became known for in Tammy were there from the beginning. She is always proving you should not estimate her because she is small. Indeed, her size often comes in handy. She has that reputation for brilliant ideas, particularly when she had to pull something out of her hat to save the day. Sometimes she moves in mysterious ways to do so, but she always knows what she is doing. She is always willing to help others, even more unsavoury types. She even sacrifices herself for them, often at the price of taking a dent in her popularity. She is not afraid to stand up to bullies and sort out nasty types. She is always kind, brave, thoughtful and generous.

The first Wee Sue story ended in Sandie on 20 May 1972. More than a year later Sandie merged with Tammy on 27 October 1973. Wee Sue and “Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie” were the only Sandie stories to cross over into the merger. Considering that the first Wee Sue story had ended in Sandie over a year before with no known sequels, the choice of reviving her for the merger is a surprising one. Were there plans for a Wee Sue sequel in Sandie that didn’t get off the ground but made their way into the merger? Or did the editor trawl through the issues of Sandie until he found something he thought had potential for the merger besides Uncle Meanie?

On the Jinty site Iain MacDonald has commented “…The other character I wrote and helped create was Wee Sue. Gerry Finlay Day suggested the character. I wrote most of the early ones.” It is not clear if MacDonald is referring to the original Sue from Sandie or the reboot in Tammy, but the reference to Finley-Day does suggest the latter.

Whatever was behind bringing Sue into the merger, it was an inspired choice. Sue became one of the most popular and enduring characters in Tammy. But for this, a sweeping overhaul of Wee Sue was undertaken. Former Sandie readers must have been taken aback to see it. 

In her debut episode in Tammy (below), Sue began to take on the form familiar to Tammy readers. She is now a regular strip with self-contained episodes (in later years she occasionally had two-parters and even mini-story arcs). She now has the logo familiar to Tammy readers, and she would retain it for the rest of her run. She has moved to Milltown, a poor industrial town. Instead of the posh academy she attends Milltown Comprehensive. There is more emphasis on her living in poverty, such as her patched uniform. The poverty angle disappears later in the strip, though her parents clearly remain working-class people. Sue still has her freckles from her original story, but her bob has a spiky look. The bob would later take on a softer style and the freckles disappeared. 

First Wee Sue episode in Tammy, 27 October 1973
First appearance of Wee Sue in Tammy, 27 October 1973
First episode of Wee Sue in Tammy, 27 October 1973

It is also the episode where Miss Bigger makes her first appearance. She, along with Miss Tuft the games mistress, are new to the comprehensive, and they make it clear they are both bully teachers. This is definitely the Tammy influence (dark stories laden with misery and cruelty) on Sue. Both of these teachers hate Sue from the moment they meet her. In the first episodes there is a harder edge to their nastiness. For example, in one episode Miss Tuft is determined to get Sue into trouble for theft although she knows Sue is innocent. The teachers also bully an autistic girl, who gets diagnosed thanks to Sue (very advanced for 1973!). Miss Tuft soon disappeared, leaving Miss Bigger to carry on as the arch-nemesis of Wee Sue. Well, there is room for only one arch-nemesis in a regular strip after all. 

Despite the harder edge, there are elements of humour. For example, in Sue’s first Tammy episode, she gets the better of Miss Bigger with the help of an onion johnny. As time passed, the cruelty, though still present in the form of Miss Bigger, would be reduced as the comedy took more of a front seat. Wee Sue evolved into a lightweight strip as she became more cheeky, wise-cracking, even mischievous, and often getting into slapstick scrapes. 

Miss Bigger remained as mean and pompous as she had been in her first episode, but she soon took on a more comic presence as well. As she did so, her features evolved from the rather flat, slim look in her first episode to becoming more wryly grotesque and tartar-looking. Mario Capaldi, Miss Bigger’s first artist, eventually gave her the distinctive jagged choppers that would gnash furiously whenever she shouted – which was often. Her nose changed too, becoming more distinctive, in a comical way. Under Robert MacGillivray it became an overgrown bulbous nose, similar to the one he eventually gave Uncle Meanie when he came over to Tammy. 

One reason why Miss Bigger’s appearance became more caricaturised was that Wee Sue passed into the hands of several artists who were strong on slapstick, caricature and humour. John Richardson, who took over from Mario Capaldi, was the first to take Wee Sue into this area, and his run on Sue was a long one. In fact, he took over in the same episode of Sue as Capaldi, on 14 September 1974, giving the readers the best of both worlds (or a lot of confusion, with the same episode switching from one artist to another). When Richardson took over, Sue took on a sharper, more clever look.

Deep dark secrets from Miss Bigger’s schooldays. Tammy 12 June 1976, art John Richardson.
Deep dark secrets from Miss Bigger’s schooldays. Tammy 12 June 1976, art John Richardson.
Deep dark secrets from Miss Bigger’s schooldays. Tammy 12 June 1976, art John Richardson.

Over time other artists continued the humour, though some brought it off better than others. Other artists to draw Wee Sue were John Johnston, Hugh Thornton-Jones, Richard Neillands, Jim Eldridge, Mike White and Robert MacGillivray.

Despite the grotesque comic looks she acquires, Miss Bigger is so vain beyond imagining that she actually believes she is beautiful. Her vanity extends to her abilities as well; she believes she is capable of any feat that borders on superhuman, including being a better ballerina than Margot Fonteyn or winning World War II single-handed. In one episode we see this vanity runs in the Bigger family: Miss Bigger shows Sue her illustrious family album of Bigger women, who all look like her and come up with grand schemes that make no sense and don’t look at all successful (below). We frequently see Sue take advantage of Miss Bigger’s vanity, either to get what she wants out of her or to fix Miss Bigger’s sneaky schemes or mountains of homework. 

The history of the Bigger family

There is also confusion about Miss Bigger’s first name. It was first established as Lillian, but later in the run it was Amelia.

From the first episode Miss Bigger gives the impression she is not a very good teacher; the onion johnny, for example, makes it clear that Sue’s French is better than hers. In another episode, Miss Bigger gives a German lesson, but her accent is terrible. Some episodes on Miss Bigger’s own days at school imply she has a dark past there: bullying and lousy school reports. 

Unfortunately Miss Bigger is also notorious for giving out such great big piles of homework that we suspect she does it to deliberately torture her class. She is also known for making the girls’ lives a misery if she’s in a filthy mood. For example, in a Valentine-themed episode she lumbers the girls with extra homework when they’re set to go to a Valentines Day party because she’s upset she didn’t get a Valentine. Frequently Sue has to come up with schemes to keep Miss Bigger in a good mood or placate her when she’s in a bad one, or the class suffers.

How the Allies won WW2 according to Miss Bigger

In the earliest episodes Miss Bigger wore a formal outfit. But later in the Capaldi run she acquired the more casual outfit that would stay with her for the rest of the strip: skirt and sweater (later a cardigan or jacket) and black blouse. This outfit became her trademark. In fact, in one episode Miss Bigger’s trademark outfit inadvertently starts a new fashion in Milltown called “the old frump look” after a rack full of her outfits (all the same outfit!) gets mixed up with a clothes rack bound for a fashion show.

Because Sue was the bane of Miss Bigger she was sometimes branded a troublemaker by school authorities. But what Sue was really known for was her big ideas to save the day. She could always be counted on to come up with a brainwave to fix any situation, such as helping her classmates and parents, coming to the rescue of people in trouble, foiling tricksters, bullies, criminals, and Miss Bigger’s mean schemes, raising school funds, and sometimes helping Miss Bigger. 

However, sometimes Sue really was naughty. In one episode, she takes a satchel to school that is so full of sweets it’s a wonder she doesn’t give herself diabetes, and she eats them in class. The sweets land her in so many sticky situations (including her toffee bar ripping Miss Bigger’s skirt and exposing her undies!) that she is right off sugar by the end of the day. It was in episodes like these that Miss Bigger was allowed to triumph against Wee Sue, so the bully teacher did win on occasion. But for the most part, Sue is a nice girl.

Miss Bigger frequently steals the credit for Sue’s big ideas whenever she sees the way to take advantage of it. This is something she gets away with a lot, but at least there is always a consolation for Sue, such as money, and in one instance, a trip to Spain.

Wee Sue remained a popular regular in Tammy, even having a special story to commemorate Tammy’s 10th birthday (below). Miss Bigger, for once having an inspired idea, takes the class on a tour at King’s Reach Tower for a behind-the-scenes look at Tammy. Sue falls asleep over the Tammys in the copy room, where she dreams of past and present Tammy characters. They all come together for a big birthday party, including Miss Bigger.

Wee Sue celebrates Tammy’s 10th birthday 7 February 1981
Wee Sue celebrates Tammy’s 10th birthday 7 February 1981
Wee Sue celebrates Tammy’s 10th birthday 7 February 1981
Wee Sue celebrates Tammy’s 10th birthday 7 February 1981

Then Jinty merged with Tammy on 28 November 1981. This was the beginning of the end for Sue. After a few weeks of not appearing in the merger, she reappeared as part of an “Old Friends” feature, which she shared in rotation with Bessie Bunter, Molly Mills and Tansy of Jubilee Street (the last of which being a surprise revival, having officially ended in the last issue of Jinty). In fact, Sue was the old friend to lead off the feature on 26 December 1981. Except for her first Old Friends episode, the Wee Sue appearances were entirely new material, as were the appearances of Tansy and Molly. This made them more refreshing to see. Only Bessie was on repeats. But it was clear that all four were on their very last legs. Sure enough, Old Friends disappeared with a revamped Tammy launched 17 July 1982, so Wee Sue was buried in the same grave as Tansy, Bessie and Molly. However, Sue continued to make appearances in the Tammy annual to the very end, though it was with repeats. 

Sue lasted in Tammy for a proud nine years, including her Old Friends appearances. But if you include the Sandie year, Sue ran for 10 years, which means she holds a joint record with Bella for longevity and one year behind Molly at 11 years.

Jinty 24 October 1981

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)

The Eternal Flame (artist Richard Neillands, writer Alison Christie) – Gypsy Rose story

Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (arist Hugh Thornton-Jones)

Full Circle (artist Mario Capaldi) – text story

Wednesday’s Child is Full of Woe… (artist “B. Jackson”)

Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)

Man’s Best Friend: Curious Dogs (feature)

Winning Ways – Badminton (writer Benita Brown)

The Warning Windbells (artist Christine Ellingham) – Gypsy Rose story

Badgered Belinda (artist Phil Gascoine)

The Bow Street Runner (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)

This is the fifth-to-last issue of Jinty. The repeats to fill the dying comic are really telling now – we get not one but two reprints of old Gypsy Rose stories. The repeat of the 7-part “Monday’s Child” and so forth strip continues with “Wednesday’s Child”, who’s full of woe. In this case it’s a girl who is always grumbling, but she eventually realises how selfish and petty it is, and the final panel shows her becoming more positive. 

In “Pam of Pond Hill”, Tessie Bradshaw has run off to the canal in search of the girl she drove off with her bullying. Tessie has an accident there and is hospitalised. The story is really realistic about bullying when it reveals the reasons why Tessie bullies: jealousy, sensivity about her weight, too much responsibility at home, absent mother and overtime father. Dad decides to remarry in the hope it will help, but Tessie isn’t reacting well to it. And she’s also worried her classmates won’t forgive her for bullying although it put her life in danger. 

Tansy tries being a newshound, but when she tries to report news on Jubilee Street she comes up empty and decides nothing ever happens there. She completely fails to notice the things that get reported in the local newspaper later on. 

Sir Roger has a dream that Gaye will be hit by a car. As ghost dreams always come true, he is going to all sorts of lengths to protect her, which is causing all sorts of hijinks. In the end, Gaye does get hit by a car – but it’s only a pedal car.

The text story discusses how fashions go in cycles. But things go a bit far when a fashion designer from the future takes a trip to the present for ideas on how to reinvent 20th century fashions for her own time. Sadly, the time period she came from is one that never came to pass: the Queen Diana period. Perhaps it did in an alternate timeline.

The last remaining Jinty serials “The Bow Street Runner” and “Badgered Belinda” continue. In the former, tricks from nasty Louise mess Beth up on cross-country. At least Beth realises it was Louise who was reponsible and will be on the lookout for her in future. In the latter, Squire Blackmore brings some old hunting prints to the school and nobody seems upset by them except Belinda – especially at the one showing badger digging. The squire’s also having the school setting up vermin traps, which is another concern for Belinda in minding the badgers. What’s more, looking after those badgers is causing Belinda to lose sleep and it’s taking its toll. 

Jinty 15 September 1979

Almost Human (artist Terry Aspin)

Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)

Village of Fame (artist Jim Baikie)

Mike and Terry (artist Peter Wilkes)

Gwynne’s Quiz Show

Your Pet Hates – Results

Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

Rinty ‘n’ Jinty – cartoon

Combing Her Golden Hair (artist Phil Townsend)

Miss Make-Believe (artist “B. Jackson”) – first episode

Upsy Downsy Mascot – feature 

Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters)

In this issue, Jinty publishes the results of a pet loves and hates competition, and there appears to be more emphasis on the hates. Pet peeves included squeaky chalk, mushy peas, bullies, vandalism, spiders, litter, glib expressions and coat hangers. Some of the replies about pet peeves were put into verse, which was very imaginative.

As we’ve got a pet peeve theme going, let’s look at other peeves in the issue.

In “Pandora’s Box”, everyone, including the headmistress, is peeved with Pandora for jumping queue on the audition for “Alice in Jazzland” when she had no right to even enter it. The girls have turned cold towards her. She uses a spell for “melting hearts of ice” to make them nice to her again. Pandora would have been better to cast that spell on herself; she had little regard for her cat Scruffy being peeved at having to sit on ice blocks and shivering while she cast the spell. Now poor Scruffy has caught a bad chill because of it.

In “Combing Her Golden Hair”, Gran’s peeves are vanity and Tamsin trying to swim. So Gran goes absolutely bonkers when Tasmin tries to swim in the new pool at a classmate’s party. Tamsin’s also suspicious at gran’s claims she isn’t allowed to swim because chlorine’s bad for her asthma, especially as there is no evidence to support this and Gran won’t even allow a doctor to look into it. So Tasmin’s delighted when a new teacher demands medical certification before any pupil can be excused swimming. Now gran’s claims will be put to the test. 

Spotty Muchloot’s pet peeve, as always, is Alley Cat. He goes to extreme lengths to keep Alley Car out of his house and away from his grub while his folks are away, but Alley Cat turns the tables, as usual.

We are informed that “Bizzie Bet and the Easies” will not appear next week. This week, Bizzie Bet and Kate Easie’s peeve is a school bully named Erica and both agree that something’s got to be done about her. They do it themselves – without realising – with Erica constantly getting on the wrong end of their respective Bizzie and Easie ways. Erica emerges bruised, battered, drenched, and given the fright of her life. And after all that, when they see the state Erica’s in, they think someone else has saved them the job of sorting her out. 

In “Miss Make-Believe”, the sequel to “Daughter of Dreams”, shy Sally Carter is peeved that everyone is treating her as courageous when she is not. It was her imaginary friend Pauline, come to life, who was behind it all, by entering Sally for a bravery-testing contest at Playne Towers. The test? A six-month safari. Meanwhile, Pauline discovers the servants are up to no good. Could this be the real test?

In “Village of Fame”, Sue’s peeves are Mr Grand and her inability to prove he’s up to no good in the name of TV ratings. This week, teacher Miss Pebblestone is accused of accidentally starting a fire at school. The evidence looks black against her, though Sue and Mandy suspect Mr Grand faked it, and poor Miss Pebblestone is forced to leave the village. Now Sue’s brother Jason goes missing, and Sue and Mandy suspect Mr Grand engineered it for yet more ratings.

In “Almost Human”, Xenia’s peeve is her alien touch, which is deadly to Earth life, so she can’t touch anything living on Earth. Some gypsies discover Xenia’s secret and are willing to let her stay after she saved them from a poisonous snake. But Xenia goes on the run again because of her alien touch. We are informed a thunderstrom is going to have “extraordinary effects” next week. Will this be good or bad for Xenia?

“Mike and Terry” must be peeved they failed to stop the Shadow again. He’s also after an escaped convict – who turns up in Mike and Terry’s car! The common denominator is a theatre show from 1976: the Shadow is kidnapping everyone involved in it. But why? Let’s hope the escaped convict can shed some light on the matter. 

Mainstay Jinty artist Phil Gascoine takes a holiday this issue, but he’s back next week with “Waves of Fear”. From the looks of the blurb, the protagonist is going to have worse things than peeves; she’s on “the crest of a wave…that was suddenly to smash her life into a thousand, terrifying pieces!”.

Jinty 8 September 1979

Almost Human (artist Terry Aspin)

Village of Fame (artist Jim Baikie)

Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)

Mike and Terry (artist Peter Wilkes)

Gwynne’s Quiz Show

Super fun-time Competition!

Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

Horse and Rider Crossword

Combing Her Golden Hair (artist Phil Townsend)

Rinty ‘n’ Jinty

A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine) – final episode

Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters)

Pining for Something New? – craft feature

We continue our September theme with some September Jinty issues. This one from 8 September 1979 is a competition issue, with five stereo record players up for grabs as the grand prizes.

It’s the final episode of “A Girl Called Gulliver”. The Lilliputians take their leave of Gwenny, saying they’ve found a new home. Sadly, it was a white lie. The Lilliputians have realised the responsibility of looking after them was too heavy for Gwenny, so they will continue wandering on their own. Dad Lilliput is confident they will find a home soon anyway. Its replacement next week is “Miss Make-Believe”, a sequel to “Daughter of Dreams”.

In “Almost Human”, Xenia has fallen in with some friendly gypsy children, but her inability to touch them because her alien touch is deadly to Earth life is causing misunderstandings. Plus, she gets a taste of human prejudice against gypsies. She’s still with the gypsies, trudging onwards and hoping things will get better. 

In “Village of Fame”, Mandy helps her uncle Mr Grand with a trick on Sue Parker, but then he reneges on her, refusing to keep his end of the bargain. Now Mandy wants revenge and turns to Sue, but after that trick Mandy pulled, Sue is in no mood to be any ally with her. Mr Grand also has plans for teacher Miss Pebblestone – and it looks like making sure she’s blamed when the school gets partially burned down. 

Bizzie Bet tries to clean up the Easies’ garden, which the loafers have left to turn into a jungle. But then it has to be left intact after rare flora and fauna are discovered there. The Easies win again.

The trail of the Shadow, a criminal mastermind, has led Mike and Terry to a funfair, where the Shadow has plans to kidnap a trick cyclist named Dirk Dare (now what can he want with a trick cyclist?). Some very amusing hijinks ensue at the fair as Terry and Mike outwit the Shadow’s thugs. To make things even more complicated, Mike and Terry discover Dirk has swapped places with the human cannonball. Now, the Shadow doesn’t know about the switch, so could this lead to his thugs grabbing the wrong man?

Alley Cat’s annoyed to find Spotty Muchloot having a picnic all to himself, but Spotty has come prepared for any food snatching from Alley Cat. In the end, though, it backfires on Spotty and Alley Cat gets Spotty’s grub.

In “Combing Her Golden Hair”, Tamsin is surprised when Gran allows her to go to a party. But Gran won’t allow a party dress (no money, she says). Tamsin has to go in school uniform and still wear her hair in those awful plaits Gran always tells her to wear. Gran’s got a real thing about vanity, but this week she goes too far. She finds Tasmin combing her hair with that strange silver comb and goes so mad she almost cuts Tamsin’s hair off. Tamsin’s friend Ellen steps in to pretty her up for the party, and that strange comb is taking effect again. Now it is tempting Tamsin to go swimming, something her gran has always banned.

In “Pandora’s Box”, Pandora wins the audition for “Alice in Jazzland”, and for once she’s using stuff she’s learned instead of taking shortcuts with that box of witchcraft. But when she plans a surprise party to celebrate, it’s back to the box to get it set up quick and easy.

Bizzie Bet and the Easies (1979)

Sample Images

Bizzie Bet 1Bizzie Bet 2

Published: Jinty 31 March 1979 – 1 December 1979

Episodes: 27

Artist: Richard Neillands

Writer: Unknown

A lightweight humour strip that ran in Jinty in 1979. The premise is Bet Bizzel, known as “Bizzie Bet” who’s such a bundle of energy and always working hard, versus her bone-idle friends, the Easies. Each week Bizzie Bet is always coming up with bright schemes to show the Easies the meaning of work and curing them of their lazy ways. But things always backfire on Bet eventually and the Easies win in the end. Such a premise wouldn’t have been out of place in a funnies comic like Buster or Whizzer & Chips. Imagine if this strip was drawn by one of their artists!

The Easies are also very inventive, coming up with their own creative ways of doing things – the very quick and laid back way, of course, but it does save a lot of labour and turns out well. You do have to hand it to them. The fact that sloth always wins in this story is what gives the story its humour. It’s a strip the lazy Garfield the cat would love.

Readers must have had a sneaking sympathy for the Easies. You do wish Bet would stop shoving her oar in all the time, stop trying to force hard work on the Easies, and let them be. Besides, doing all this extra work for Easies is just making Bet working far harder than she needs to and doing everything for the Easies is really not encouraging them to do things for themselves. In fact, if Bet took a leaf out of the Easies’ book and took things easy now and then, life would be easier for her. And she wouldn’t be the one doing all the work all the time, as her holiday dice game below proves. But maybe she can’t take it easy any more than the Easies could turn into balls of energy.

In the end Bizzie Bet and the Easies come to an arrangement where they agree to disagree, accept each other for what they are, and just be friends. It’s a very good, definitive ending. It did not end on a regular episode, which is very satisfying, and readers would have been very pleased with how it concluded.

Bizzie Bet had a fair run at 27 episodes. But in comparison to the longer-running “Jinx from St Jonah’s”, “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” or “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” humour strips in Jinty, it didn’t have much staying power. It may have been a popularity issue, and this could well have been the case. Though the strip is fun, it doesn’t feel as strong, engaging or memorable as, say, “The Jinx from St Jonah’s” and is one of Jinty’s more forgettable  strips.

The artwork could have been the problem. A premise like this requires an artist who can really draw exaggerated, stylised cartoony humour, but Richard Neillands is not one of them. His style is for lightweight or sports stories but he can’t really pull off exaggerated comedy or make anyone laugh with his artwork. An artist like Robert MacGillivray or even a Buster-type artist is what’s required here.

Or it could simply be that Bizzie Bet was simply axed to help make way for “Pam of Pond Hill” and “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost”, both of which started shortly afterwards.

Bizzie Bet game 1Bizzie Bet game 2

 

 

 

Sandie 15 April 1972

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Slaves of the Sorcerer (artist Desmond Walduck?)
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie) – last episode
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Richard Neillands)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Dave Cassidy (artist Bob Gifford)

The cover competition offers a chance to win a ‘fabulous electric sewing machine’, though I think that a battery-powered machine probably won’t get you very far through sewing anything other than the dolls clothes mentioned in the competition blurb.

Norah loses her home twice over in this episode – after an emotional visit to see her father, she stays overnight in her old house, but in the morning she is turfed out by a new family who have just rented the place. On returning to her cousin’s house she isn’t allowed back in there either! As is so often the way, though, the horrible relatives have played a mean trick too far – Norah has to stay in her uncle’s clothing factory overnight, and of course she finds a document that shows pretty clearly that the culprit who stole the money that her dad was blamed for – was probably her uncle all along!

Orphan Beth Williams is well and truly in the clutches of the evil sorcerer Caspar, along with three other hard-done-by girls. It seems that Caspar’s act is ‘so dangerous he’d never get anyone to volunteer. That’s why he has to have slaves.’ Beth is a spirited girl who is keen to run away at the first opportunity, but I suspect it won’t be as easy as that.

It’s the last episode of “Our Big BIG Secret” – a story post will be forthcoming.

At the end of the previous issue’s “The School of No Escape”, Dale was pushed over a cliff. Luckily she falls onto a ledge, which though small is enough to save her. The next morning, Miss Voor thinks that her last obstacle is out of the way and so she summons all her specially-chosen pupils to her side. They are all to write farewell letters to their parents and then to follow Miss Voor to Hangman’s Copse – which is where they meet up with the exhausted Dale, who has crawled up the cliff face to seek help.

This week’s episode of “Bonnie’s Butler” is drawn by Richard Neillands instead of regular artist Julio Bosch.

Sandie 25 March 1972

See also Mistyfan’s previous post on this issue.

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Desmond Walduck?)
  • Wendy the Witch (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Richard Neillands)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Gary Warren (artist Bob Gifford)

Norah’s horrible Uncle Philip tells Mrs Maddox an awful secret that makes her turn away from Norah – but what is it?

Susie gets her school class to set up a fete to collect money to help out the school – knowing that doing so will make the school look shamefully badly run. Which it is.

Anna tells Julia that Ramage the estate manager is behind much of the trouble between Julia’s father and the tenants. Julia will try to help, but in the meantime Anna is in danger.

Dale makes herself a robe so that she can pretend to be one of a group of masked schoolgirls who seem literally entranced by the evil Miss Voor – but her costume may put her in danger.

Wee Sue finds a way to save her school from being shut down in order for a motorway to be built through their land – all she needs to do is to ‘scale the wall of Swithers Castle without the aid of mechanical means’ (in this case by climbing up a pyramid of girl athletes).

Elaine and Mary resort to blowing the lock off the door in order to escape the gruesome death planned for them by one of their many enemies – and in their escape they even find some friends, finally.

Sandra and Joan have made up their quarrel and the psychic bond between them is operating at full force – so Sandra is set to give a super performance in front of Dame Valerie, patron of the Southern Ballet Company.

This week’s episode of “Bonnie’s Butler” is drawn by a fill-in artist – namely Richard Neillands, who drew “Darling Clementine” in Jinty some years later. Here it is:

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Trudy ends up running the rag and bone cart in order to save Mr MacReady from worrying – but then her beloved horse Silver seems to fall sick.

Darling Clementine [1977-78]

Sample Images

Darling Clementine 1Darling Clementine 2Darling Clementine 3

Published: Jinty 24 December 1977 to 1 April 1978

Episodes: 15

Artist: Richard Neillands

Writer: Alison Christie

Translations/reprints: None known

Plot

Fifteen-year-old Ella Peters is an intensely shy girl who used to cling to her mother, but the mother is now dead. She has been in a children’s home since her mother’s death, but then her cousin Clementine Bradley (Clem for short) and Uncle Dave give her a home.

Ella and Clem hit it off immediately. Ella is impressed at how Clem is the darling of everyone. She has a charm that works on everyone, and she is full of confidence, which sets an example to Ella that will influence how she grows in confidence during the story. Everything looks so rosy for Ella now; she is too shy to make friends but she can do it through the popular Clem, and she is so happy.

But storm clouds just have to gather around. Uncle Dave, a miner, develops a lung disease from years of coal dust exposure, and the polluted smoky mining town is making it worse. A move to the country is badly needed, but Uncle Dave hasn’t the money for a country cottage. Then Clem sees a way to raise the money when she sees a water-skiing contest advertised, with £1,000 as the top prize.

Clem can’t waterski, but her mind is set. She dashes off to join the water-skiing club at Ladenford Lake, and never mind that it is an extremely exclusive and ultra-snobby club. Her charm persuades the snobby manager to let her join the club despite her lack of pedigree background, and he is so entranced he even gives her waterskis and a spare wetsuit. Clem gets Uncle Bill to provide a speedboat so she can start practising, and Ella is backing her all the way. Clem is soon making good progress in waterskiing.

Then disaster strikes. While Clem gets ready for another practice, an arrogant girl cyclist comes bowling along and deliberately knocks Clem clean over. Clem ends up hitting her head on a tree and falling into the river. When Clem is plucked from the water, she is in a deep coma. But that isn’t all. Uncle Bill was nearby and mistakenly thinks he saw Ella push Clem into the river deliberately when in fact Ella was trying to push Clem clear of the cyclist. Uncle Bill could not see the cyclist because the trees cut off his view of her. He has Uncle Dave believe it too, and Ella’s protests of innocence with Uncle Dave just lead to rows. Uncle Dave even bans Ella from visiting Clem in hospital. When word gets around, poor Ella finds herself an outcast at school and in the community, and she is estranged at home as well.

And there is still the matter of how to win the much-needed prize money. As Clem is out of action, Ella bravely decides to train for it herself. It’s a tall order as Ella is not only shy but also scared of water and she has force herself to swim more confidently. Uncle Bill won’t help with the speedboat, but Ella manages to get help from Jim, the son of the waterskiing club caretaker, after she helps him against some bullies. Ella gradually improves and even overcomes her fear of water. But girls from the posh club overhear Ella saying she is winning the prize money instead of Clem and spitefully take back the gear that was borrowed from the club. They say she can’t enter the contest anyway because only club members can enter.

When Ella sees her uncle’s condition is worsening, it renews her determination. She takes on two jobs so she can raise the money for waterskiing gear and subs to join the club. She finds courage in approaching the club, but gets turned down because she is not upper class. She encounters more nastiness from the snobs, who throw the last leaflet about the contest out the window so Ella can’t verify if it really is for members only. Fortunately Jim rescues the leaflet, and Ella discovers that the snobs had lied and it is open to any entrant. Well, well, well!

Ella resumes her waterskiing training with Jim’s help, but the snobs find out. They spitefully try to get the caretaker sacked and tell Ella they’ll keep on doing it until either Ella gives up waterskiing or Jim’s father gets the sack. However, Jim’s father suddenly gets another job, so that’s the end of that blackmail.

While Ella does her training, another waterskiier passes by – and Ella recognises her as the cyclist who knocked Clem into the river. She tackles the girl, a Val Lester, who eventually says she might confess if Ella will do some “little jobs” for her. After a whole week of skivvying and slaving for Val, there is still no confession, but Ella still doesn’t realise Val is just taking advantage of her and has no intention of confessing.

At her training, Ella unwittingly gets too close to one of the snobs and knocks her off balance. The snobs accuse Ella and Jim of doing it on purpose and say they will go to the police. Fortunately a Councillor Dickens witnesses the incident and informs the police it was an accident.

Ella now has a whole new confidence now she has Councillor Dickens on her side. She tells those snobs that she is not scared of them anymore. Moreover, she has finally woken up to how Val is just stringing her along and tells her to do her own dirty work.

Uncle Dave suspects Ella is up to something and thinks it has something to do with thefts at a hotel near the lake. He kicks Ella right out of the house, but allows her back once Jim informs him about Ella’s waterskiing. What’s more, there is good news about Clem – she is beginning to wake up and calling for Ella. Unfortunately Uncle Dave misconstrues what Clem says in her half-conscious state as evidence that Ella pushed her. Ella snaps and tells Uncle Dave that she is winning the prize money for his sake. After some investigating Uncle Dave believes it is true, but will not accept the money. Ella continues with her training regardless, and also visits Clem in hospital, who has lapsed back into her coma, in defiance of Uncle Dave’s ban.

Then Uncle Dave finds out about the secret hospital visits after Ella sprains her ankle on the hospital steps. The injury also impairs her waterskiing. Ella bravely goes into the waterskiing heats while she still has this injury, but of course it’s no good. She passes out because of her injury and is out of the contest.

Ella now turns to getting Clem out of her coma, as Clem is the only one who can clear her name. She brings in a tape of speedboat engine noise to bring Clem out of the coma, but Val discovers what Ella is up to and switches it for one of her own tapes. She does not want Clem coming out of her coma and telling the truth about the accident. Ella discovers who pulled the switch when she finds the initials “V.L.” on the tape, and Val doesn’t deny it when Ella confronts her either. Ella gets another recording of speedboat noise, after initially overcoming a bout of shyness over approaching the club secretary for help there. Uncle Dave has banned Ella from seeing Clem, so she has to get a nurse to play the tape to her. Later, Ella finds spiteful Val has told tales on her secret visits to Clem to Uncle Dave.

The tape brings Clem out of her coma. Unfortunately, Ella gets over-excited about pressing Clem to tell Uncle Dave the truth and clear her name. She did not think that it was too soon after Clem woke up, or that Clem’s memory would be clouded. And Clem can’t remember what happened, so when she comes home, Ella has to do something to help her remember.

So Ella takes Clem back to the very spot where it happened – and who should show up but Val Lester herself! This brings back Clem’s memory, and Val brags that she did it too. Val tries to bluff her way out of it, saying people will just think Clem is trying to shift the blame from Ella if she tries to tell them the truth, and there is no way she is going to confess. But Uncle Dave has followed and heard everything – and so has a passing policeman! The policeman takes charge of Val. What happens to her is not revealed, but she is not seen again in the story. Val’s exposure cuts no ice with the snobby girls at the waterski club, who remain just as nasty to Clem and Ella. Ella readily forgives a very apologetic Uncle Dave.

Despite her long illness and missing the heats, Clem is determined to enter the competition and win the money for her father. Ella asks Councillor Dickens to pull some strings so Clem can enter the finals despite missing the heats. Clem realises what Ella did for her and comments on how her shy cousin has become so spunky. Ella says it was due to necessity from what followed in the wake of the accident.

Unfortunately Clem just isn’t up to scratch to win the contest and is placed third. However, a reporter learns why it was so important for Clem to win the money and publishes a newspaper article on “The Dashed Dreams of Darling Clem”. It touches the heartstrings of everyone in town – not to mention their guilty consciences over the way they wrongly blamed Ella for Clem’s accident – and cash donations begin to pour in.

Soon there is plenty of money for a cottage and Uncle Dave’s health improves once they move in. There is no room for three, but Ella says that does not matter. She is now so confident about standing on her own two feet that she moves into the new girls’ hostel. She won’t forget her relatives though, and will visit them often.

Thoughts

It is obvious from the start that we are going to have a story about an intensely shy girl who is embarking on a journey to discover her self-confidence. But the twists and turns that the journey takes are ones that could have totally destroyed the shy girl instead of helping her to grow and learn to believe in herself. After all, the ordeal Ella goes through is hardly one to boost self-confidence – being wrongly accused of deliberately putting her own cousin in hospital and people turning against her unjustly. Moreover, it’s Ella’s own relatives that have wrongly accused her, so not even her home life brings her any respite against the cloud she’s under. The only things that stop it from destroying her are the determination to win the prize money for the ailing Uncle Dave and the example Clem had set to Ella about having courage and self-confidence. Several times in this story Ella has lapses of nerve and shyness in her quest to win the competition, but all she has to do is remember Clem’s example and show “some spunk” like her.

Though she probably does not realise it, the shy Ella further develops her courage by constantly standing up to Uncle Dave in protesting her innocence. Ella also develops backbone in learning to stand up to Val. Once she sees through Val’s blackmail, she has no hesitation in telling her to get off and shoves that dirty laundry Val wanted her to clean right in her face. Oh, there are so many blackmail victims in girls’ comics that we so wish would stand up to their blackmailers like that!

Learning to water-ski also helps Ella to develop her self-confidence even further. To begin with, it motivates her to overcome a fear of water. As her water-skiing improves, it boosts her self-confidence as well. But this is the only good thing that really comes out of it for Ella. It is sad, but very realistic, that no matter how hard Ella tries, she could not get up to the standard that would enable her to win the competition. Even without her injury, Ella could never have won the competition because she was not a natural at it like Clem, much less have what it takes to be a champion that would wow the judges.

If not for Val Lester, Clem could have reached the standard that would win the championship and the prize money for Uncle Dave. But the story avoids the cliché of the protagonist rising out of her wheelchair and beating all odds to win the prize money. Instead, it has Clem more realistically lose with a noble but doomed effort because she had insufficient time to get up to the standard required. However, it leads to events that do help to raise the money, so it was not in vain after all.

Val Lester certainly is one of the slickest schemers to appear in Jinty. Whenever Clem or Ella thinks they’ve got her where they want her, Val is extremely crafty at bluffing or conning her way out of it. Even when Uncle Dave finds her out, she keeps her cool and arrogantly tries to bluff him too, saying nobody will believe even him. But even Val can’t get past the policeman (though his presence feels contrived as there is no explanation or credible reason for it). There seems to be no other reason for Val’s attack on Clem than sheer snobbery. She just does not want Clem in the club. It’s not because she’s jealous or looks on Clem as a serious rival in the competition. One can imagine the reputation the waterski club would have gotten in the wake of all their nastiness to “common scum” in their club and Val’s campaign against Clem and Ella. Perhaps someone (Jim maybe?) will take a hand in forming another waterski club in town that welcomes anyone.

Jinty was big on sports stories, and many of her sports stories had more uncommonly used sports (judo, netball, skateboarding) as well as stories on more traditional sports such as hockey, ice-skating and swimming. This story uses water-skiing, which was an extremely unusual sport to use, and examples must be rare in girls’ comics. Although “Darling Clementine” does not seem to be as well rememembered as some of Jinty’s sports stories (“Life’s a Ball for Nadine”, “Concrete Surfer”), using waterskiing as the sport does make it quite novel, as do the breaks from common cliches in girls’ comics in favour of more realism.

Jinty 30 June 1979

Jinty cover 30 June 1979

  • Casey, Come Back! – final episode (unknown artist – Merry)
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Nothing to Sing About (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Keep Your Fingers Crossed! (feature)
  • The Disappearing Dolphin (artist Trine Tinturé)
  • The Hill that Cried – Gypsy Rose story (artist Shirley Bellwood)
  • Some Scarecrow! (Michael Jackson feature)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Beauty on a Budget (feature)

This issue’s cover portrays two water scenes, but they are a complete contrast. In “The Forbidden Garden” it’s a life-or-death situation where Laika and Kara nearly drown in floodwaters, while in “Bizzie Bet and the Easies” it’s fun-and-sun by the sea. And for once Bet scores a final laugh over the Easies.

In “A Girl Called Gulliver” there’s water trouble too, as our last Lilliputians set themselves sailing down the river in an old tea kettle – only to find they forgot to check it was seaworthy first, and it isn’t!

It’s the last episode of “Casey, Come Back!”, one of the three-part stories that appeared in Jinty in 1979 but give the impression they could have done with more prolonged treatment. Next we see the start of the Jinty classic, “Almost Human”, and “Mike and Terry”, Jinty’s response to popular demand for a detective story.

Pandora’s difficulty with maths has forced her hand to use the witchcraft box. But she finds she won’t get her box to work unless she gets herself a familiar, which means swallowing her dislike of cats. So meet Scruffy, the cross-eyed cat who doesn’t like Pandora any more than she likes him.

“The Disappearing Dolphin” leads the scuba divers to exciting archaeological finds. But Mrs Ormerod-Keynes, who is trying to stop the expedition, is not impressed. Now why could that be?

Gypsy Rose is back this week, but it feels like a filler. Gypsy Rose all but disappeared in 1979, making intermittent appearances. She never achieved the long-standing regularity of the Storyteller in June/Tammy. The Gypsy Rose story this week is clearly another recycled Strange Story. A Cornish family are faced with selling their farm, but strange things start to happen when a hill starts crying and wailing…

Alley Cat artist Rob Lee breaks the fourth wall and presents Alley Cat with some tasty treats to cheer him up in the last panel after Alley Cat gets a bit of a disappointment with this week’s episode.

Linette’s actions to shut her father’s music out of her life is really hurting her schoolmates, who are still fans of it. This week she has to change schools as well, but her attitude is making the transition even more difficult.

Jinty 2 June 1979

The cover on this week and the following week’s comics are drawn by the unknown artist who gave us “Concrete Surfer” – lovely fun summer scenes! Edited Feb 2018 to add – this artist is now identified as Christine Ellingham.

Stories in this issue:

  • Alice in a Strange Land (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • I’ll Make Up for Mary (artist Guy Peeters, writer Alison Christie) – last episode
  • Are You a Do-er, a Ditherer, or a Do-Nothing? (quiz)
  • Daughter of Dreams
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • The Four-Footed Friends (artist Peter Wilkes, writer Alison Christie)
  • Children of Edenford (artist Phil Townsend)

Alice is rescued from being sacrificed – partly because she is smart enough to take off the Sun Goddess mask and show the priestesses that she is not really the goddess they thought she was. That wouldn’t save her from the High Priestess herself, but Sir Edward turns up in the nick of time and tells her that it’s all over – the fountain of youth has been blocked by the earthquakes and their eternal life will soon come to an end. A split in the ground carries away the mad priestess and Alice is safe – if she can just get back to where the other girls are so they can all get away together!

Laika is stuck in the Industrial Zone where she can’t look after her plants in her Forbidden Garden – the only hope that is keeping her ill sister alive is the promise to have a flower of her very own. Suddenly everything changes: Laika is dragged off by the Child Protection Force, who say that she has been deemed highly intelligent and must be taken away from her parents so that she can be brought up as befits her intelligence. What next?

It is the last episode of “I’ll Make Up For Mary“. Poor sad Ann thinks there is no way out other than the very final way of going back to where Mary was drowned! Luckily the friends she has made even during her struggles, and her parents who have never stopped loving her, rescue her.

Quizzes were a very normal feature of girls comics and magazines: here is an example. I love this artist, who featured in lots of items like this – features, quizzes, and articles published in summer specials and annuals. I wonder what his or her name was?

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“Daughter of Dreams” is not one of Jinty’s best or most memorable stories. Sally Carter is shy: she has invented an imaginary friend who is outgoing and slightly obstreperous. She has such a strong imagination that her friend ends up coming to life – and even being able to do things like rescue the bully who has fallen into the canal water! Sally is too scared to do it herself, but finds that she is being fêted as the heroine of the hour – which is perhaps even harder for her to deal with.

Laura’s mum is really angry with her husband, who has borrowed scruffy mongrel Riley to help protect the house after a burglar broke in. Riley and Winston are very glad just to be able to hang out together! And there’s more – the father is actively working to support the local council estate, by building a supermarket nearby, which will help to bring much-needed amenities to the area.

In the dramatic last episode of “Children of Edenford”, Patti is taken down to the Temple of Purity – yes, the headmistress has got a temple of fire, named after herself! – to be sacrified on the altar of Miss Goodfellow’s ambitions. Unlike other sacrificial lambs, Patti is no pushover and she fights back – and the fight sees Miss Goodfellow tipped down into the firey pit of her own making! All is over, and the world is saved from the threat of being turned monstrously, unwillingly perfect.