Tag Archives: Sally

Pat Mills: Interview

Pat Mills is someone who has already contributed lots to our knowledge of girls comics of this era, but even so there are still some gaps in our knowledge of what he wrote, and always plenty more questions to be asked. With thanks to him for his contributions now and in the past, here is a brief email interview.

1) In previous discussions you’ve identified the following stories in girls’ comics as having been written by you. Are there any stories missing from that list that you can remember? Some other stories have been attributed to you – also listed below – which you’ve either specifically said you didn’t write, or which haven’t been included in those previous discussions. It would be great to clarify this once and for all, if we can.

Known stories (Jinty)

You have also said before that you wrote a horse story, without identifying which one it was. Might it be “Horse from the Sea”? Or perhaps “Wild Horse Summer“?

Pat Mills: No. Doesn’t ring a bell. It’s possible I did the horse story for Tammy, but it wasn’t very good.

Tammy

  • Ella on Easy Street?
  • Glenda’s Glossy Pages?

Pat Mills: Charles Herring wrote Ella which I hugely admire. I wrote Glenda. Also – Aunt Aggie, School for Snobs, and Granny’s Town, but not all episodes.

Misty

  • Moonchild
  • Roots (Nightmare)
  • Red Knee – White Terror! (Beasts)

Pat Mills: Think “Red Knee” was mine if it was the spider story. Also “Hush Hush Sweet Rachel” – art by Feito.

And some Jinty stories you didn’t write but which are often attributed to you: “Knight and Day” (now confirmed as not yours), “The Human Zoo” (I think this is thought to be Malcolm Shaw’s), “Wanda Whiter Than White“, “Guardian of White Horse Hill” (you’ve previously thought this is likely to be Malcolm’s too).

Pat Mills: No, none of those are mine.

2) I appreciate that it’s harder to remember which stories were written by other people, if you even knew these details at the time. If there are any stories that you know the writers of, we are always up for adding to our store of attributions! We know that co-workers of yours such as John Wagner, Gerry Finley-Day, Malcolm Shaw, Charles Herring wrote for girls comics, in case that helps to trigger any memories. Did you also perhaps know Jay Over, Ian Mennell, Benita Brown, Maureen Spurgeon? (Some of those names are listed in the era when Tammy printed creator credits between 1982 and 1984, meaning we do have some story credits already in hand for that time.)

Pat Mills: Charles Herring was great – Ella and similar stories.  Pat and Alan Davidson wrote stories like Little Miss Nothing – Sandie and the equivalent in Tammy. They were top writers and that style of ‘Cinderella” story was hugely popular, but I don’t think they ever worked for Mavis. [In fact we do know that Alan Davidson wrote for Jinty, though Pat Davidson did not.]

John Wagner created and wrote “Jeanie and her Uncle Meanie” for Sandie, I think.  John was an editor on Sandie, but Gerry was the founding editor.

I wrote “Captives of Madam Karma” in Sandie.

John Wagner and I wrote “School of No Escape” in Sandie. (That was not bad) And “The Incredible Miss Birch” for Sandie. (Not our finest hour!) And I must have written at least one other story of this kind for Sandie.

I also wrote “Sugar Jones” and other stories for Pink, and “9 to 4” for Girl.

3) In Steve MacManus’ new book on his time in IPC / Fleetway, he talks about stories being measured in terms of the number of panels in the story: so for instance at one point he refers to a ‘twenty-two picture episode’ and at other points to a ‘thirty-picture script’. Is this something that you too remember from your time at IPC Fleetway? Did it happen at DCThomson too? I was interested in this because it seemed like a surprising way to think about comics, rather than in terms of page count.

Pat Mills: Yes. Steve is spot on. It’s a big subject. A thirty picture story in girls comics would theoretically deliver a lot of story. But it would be crammed and old fashioned. So I changed all that on 2000AD with less images on the page and started to apply it to Misty.

4) You’ve talked before about girls comics working differently from boys comics, and Steve MacManus recalls you saying that in a girls story the heroine would beat a bully, ride in a gymkhana, and still get back home in time to make her motherless family a hearty tea. Clearly girls comics were very full of plot! And you were a big part of rewriting a bunch of boys stories to make them fit the girls comics model more closely. Can you talk in a bit more detail about how this worked, in other words, what the mechanism was, more exactly? Is it a case of using fewer action sequences, more surprise reveals, lots of scene changes…?

Pat Mills: The big principle of girls comics that I applied to boys comics was “emotion”. Sometimes this worked well, but it needed applying in a different way. More “cool”, perhaps. Some girls principles didn’t adapt well:  jealousy for instance. Girls loved stories involving jealousy – boys didn’t. Hence “Green’s Grudge War” in Action wasn’t a hit.  Similarly, mystery stories work well in girls comics, boys didn’t give a damn about mystery. Hence my “Terror Beyond the Bamboo Curtain” in Battle, boys didn’t care what the terror was. It wasn’t a failure, but not the hit we hoped for.

However, where girls comics scored ENORMOUSLY was in having realistic stories that didn’t talk down to the reader. My “Charley’s War” is really a girls comic in disguise. Its popularity lies in it applying girls comic principles NOT boys comic principles – e.g. emotion is allowable in the context of World War One.

I was never that sold on “girls adventure” where there wasn’t a strong “kitchen sink”/Grange Hill factor. I think when Jinty went in for science fiction adventure it led the field, but not so sure about regular adventure which could seem “old school” – to me, at least. This was a factor everyone battled with on girls and boys comics, avoiding “old school” and creating stories that were “cool”.  Thus I would describe “Cat Girl” in Sally as uncool and old fashioned. Some of the Misty stories fell into that category – historical stories, for example.

Many thanks again to Pat Mills for his time, and for his memories and thoughts on this.

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Sally 21 June 1969

Sally 21 June 1961

  • Farm Boss Fanny (artist unknown)
  • The Cat Girl (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • Little Lulu – cartoon strip
  • Legion of Super-Slaves (artist unknown)
  • The Castle Kids and the Very Important Cow (artist unknown)
  • The Girl from Tomorrow (artist unknown)
  • Des and Dink – cartoon strip
  • Tiny Tania in Space (artist Rodrigo Comos?)
  • Daddy Come Home (artist unknown)
  • Maisie’s Magic Eye (artist unknown, but later drawn by Robert MacGillivray)
  • The Justice of Justine (artist unknown, but later drawn by Mike Noble)
  • Thunk – cartoon strip
  • Four on the Road (artist unknown)

Sally began on 14 June 1969. She started off with a strong emphasis on adventure, fantasy, SF and super-heroine stories. Later some of these elements gave way to more traditional stories on orphans and ballet. Memorable strips included “Maisie’s Magic Eye” and “Cat Girl”, both of which would be absorbed into Tammy. Sally merged with Tammy on 2 April 1971, making her the first of six titles that would be absorbed by Tammy during her 13-year run.

The merger was unusual in that Sally was older than Tammy, which had barely been out two months before swallowing Sally. Tammy hadn’t even finished all the stories from her first issue yet! This is a complete reversal of the usual pattern in which the older comic absorbs the newer one, very often a fledgling that has not proven profitable enough to last. It is thought that Sally had taken a bad hit in her sales due to a long absence from a 10-week strike, whereas the new Tammy was booming. Ironically, Sally is now enjoying a whole new status as a collector’s item and her issues command high prices.

I do not have the first issue of Sally, so I present the second (nice budgies, anyway!) to represent some Sally context in Jinty’s family tree at IPC.

Sally has two stories where kids go up against grasping schemers, and the antics have comical overtones. The first is “Farm Boss Fanny”, where Fanny locks horns with Gerald Garlick, who is out to buy her farm. The other is “The Castle Kids and the Very Important Cow”. Susan Porter and friends – which include a cow they rescued – help Mr and Mrs Lemington from being unfairly evicted from the castle by barricading it. But what’s so important about the cow? Ask the two men who are out to get their hands on it.

SF strips are both serious and comic. On the humour side is “Thunk”, a dog-like alien who has made friends with Penny Jones. “The Girl from Tomorrow” is more serious: a 23rd century girl has landed in 1969 after messing about with her uncle’s time machine, and is now on the run with a reformed pickpocket. Another is “Tiny Tania in Space”, who has permitted herself to be miniaturised and taken to an alien planet in order to escape an abusive guardian – only to find the alien is putting her on show at a science conference! But others howl in protest and one is out to rescue Tania. We are told that Tania will return to normal proportions next week, so should the title really have included the “tiny” bit if Tania was only to be miniaturised for three episodes? Finally, there is “Legion of Super-Slaves”. Sounds like some sort of super-hero thing gone wrong? Something is definitely wrong with the mind of “The Grand Termite” if he kidnaps girls to be used in a slave colony called “The Ants”, and they are only allowed to join if they survive his deadly tests!

The super-heroine theme is high as well. The most memorable is “The Cat Girl”, where Cathy gains cat-like super-powers after donning a magic cat suit and sets out to help her PI father, who is currently running up against his arch-enemy, The Eagle. Cat Girl would be one of two Sally strips to go into the merger. The other super-heroine, “The Justice of Justine”, proved less durable and was eventually dropped. Justine is given magic items that turn her into a super-heroine, including a magic mirror that tells her where she is needed each week.

The other Sally story to go into Tammy was “Maisie’s Magic Eye”. Maisie Macrae has acquired a magic brooch fashioned from a piece of meteorite. At this stage the brooch has hypnotic powers; whenever it glows, it makes people do whatever Maisie tells them. Trouble is, the brooch doesn’t glow all the time and its power tends to cut out at the worst possible moment. Later the brooch would have powers to make anything Maisie says come true, such as transforming two difficult teachers into Romeo and Juliet. Trouble is, it can also do the same with things Maisie says in the heat of the moment, such as calling her friend Lorna an ignoramus.

There are two non-super heroine stories as well. “Daddy Come Home” is a World War II story where evacuees find themselves put into a cruel home with Mrs Grimble, who mistreats her dog as well and the children set out to save it. The other is “Four on the Road”, where two Italian children are told to take two dogs to a rich American in Naples. It sounds like a pretty odd assignment. But there must be a reason for it, which will no doubt be revealed in due course. This story, by the way, was reprinted in Jinty annual 1975.

And of course there are cartoon strips. Thunk has already been mentioned. The other two were “Des and Dink” and “Little Lulu”. Lulu made it to Tammy, and would make an appearance in an annual.

 

200th Entry: Jinty Annual 1975

Jinty annual 1975.jpg

  • Eve’s Dream (artist Manuel Cuyas)
  • Cooking Magic! (recipe feature)
  • Token of Gratitude (text story)
  • Happy Memory Coverlet (feature)
  • The Helping Hand (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Puzzle Time (feature)
  • Four on the Road – (update: reprinted from Sally)
  • Dreaming Again (feature)
  • The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • This Beautiful World 1975 (feature)
  • Sarah – the Spellbinder! (text story)
  • The Snobs and the Scruffs
  • Can You Take a Joke? (quiz)
  • Happy Ever After…. (artist Audrey Fawley) text story
  • The Hole in the Wall
  • How to be a Witch! (feature)
  • Mystery of the Devil Dancers (writer Linda Blake) text story
  • Desert Island Daisy (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Second Best Sally
  • Birthday Budgie (game)
  • “Starlight” Saves the Train
  • Midsummer Madness and Michaelmas Magic (feature)
  • It’s a Laugh! (feature)
  • All Right on the Night (poem)
  • Holly Takes the Plunge! (text story)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Ideas…Big and Little!
  • Strawberry Fare! (recipe feature)
  • Oh Dear, David! (text story)
  • Animal Crackers (feature)
  • Button, Button…Who’s Got the Button? (feature)
  • Shirley Finds Her Feet
  • People of the Sea (feature)
  • Date with a Dreamboat (artist Phil Townsend)

It is the 200th entry on this blog, so what to do to celebrate? Well, The Best of 70s Girls’ Comics Annual reprinted the cover from the 1975 Jinty annual, so it seems appropriate to now take a look at the annual itself – which is in fact the first annual Jinty produced!

Jinty herself appears on page 124, saying it is the first-ever Jinty annual and she was granted the right to be the first person to read it. But ye Editor suddenly realised he forgot to include Jinty herself in it and had to take fast action to redress the oversight. So Jinty appears on page 124 rather than page 1, with Gary Glitter himself! What a way to make it up to her and give the readers an extra treat!

The annual has six text stories (oddly, one of them, “Mystery of the Devil Dancers” actually credits the writer, Linda Blake), six picture stories, at least ten features, and the regulars are The Jinx from St Jonah’s, Dora Dogsbody, The Snobs and the Scruffs, and Desert Island Daisy. The last two are unusual because they were the most short-lived features from the original Jinty lineup. And Daisy actually appeared in two Jinty annuals after a short span in the regular comic. By contrast, Merry from Misery House, one of the longest-running stories from the original Jinty lineup, did not appear at all in the annuals. Perhaps Jinty was aiming for more lightweight features with her annuals. Or perhaps Merry was regarded more as a serial than a regular and therefore did not qualify to appear.

Dora Dogsbody is drawn by Jim Baikie instead of her regular artist, José Casanovas. In fact, this was the case with all the annuals Dora appeared in. Do-It-Yourself Dot, the longer running of Jinty‘s funnies, makes no appearance while the short-lived Snobs and the Scruffs does. Another oddity in the lineup.

The Jinx from St Jonah’s retains her regular artist, Mario Capaldi. Katie is unsure about joining the latest roller-skating craze at school because she is klutsy enough on her own two feet. The prospect of being selected for a roller-skating/swimming show decides the matter. Katie sure is determined to get into the show, but will her jinxing wreck her hopes – or the show, maybe? Or will Katie land on her feet somehow, skates and all?

As was frequent with young IPC titles, the annual reprints material from older annuals as she was not old enough to reprint her own material in the annuals. The early Jinty (and Tammy) annuals reprinted a lot of old material (some of it under revised titles) from June, and this was very likely the case with “Four on the Road”; there can be no doubt it was originally a serial, and it may or may not be appearing under a revised title. The story concerns two orphaned Italian children Lola and Toni, who are faced with an orphanage after their grandfather dies. Then their adventures begin when their landlord, Signor Borani, has the children collect two dogs and then they get stranded, forcing them and the dogs to take the the road in order to deliver the dogs to their new owner.

Update: I have found that “Four on the Road” originally appeared in Sally.

One text story, “Holly Takes the Plunge” was ironically reprinted in the last Jinty annual in 1986. Talk about bookends.

Some of the shorter stories such as “Eve’s Dream”, “Starlight Saves the Train” and “Shirley Finds Her Feet” may be reprints from older sources as well, because they are not drawn by Jinty artists. “The Helping Hand” and “Date with a Dreamboat” may be Jinty as they are both drawn by regular Jinty artists. The former is an intriguing story about a student nurse who is struggling with her training until she gets help from a strange character dressed as a jester. Then she sees the same jester in a portrait and discovers he founded the hospital 800 years ago. Someone playing a joke or did the founder return to help the nurse? Whatever the truth, Jinty seems to be stretching credibility a bit with a jester founding a hospital – even if he did persuade the king to grant him the land for it. All the same, the story is fun to read. The latter, quite surprisingly for the times, is a boyfriend-themed story. Claire takes a fancy to Tom, but soon finds herself in a love triangle with Susie – Tom’s boat! And Susie seems to be just as unhappy with the situation as Claire when Claire joins Tom for a sailing in Susie. But of course things work out in the end.

The first Jinty annual can be regarded as an enjoyable read. It cannot be described as having a full Jinty feel as it is a mix of Jinty stories (some of which are a bit surprising) and reprints of older IPC material. But that is understandable as Jinty was still getting established and did not yet have enough material to fill her annuals with her own material. It is a good start to the run of Jinty annuals that would sadly end on a whimper. The last two Jinty annuals were Jinty in name only; they were just a collection of reprints from older comics and not a trace of Jinty material anywhere.