Tag Archives: Santiago Hernandez

Princess II, #8, 12 November 1983

Princess 8 cover

  • Atchoo! (artist Bob Harvey)
  • Mr Evans the Talking Rabbit (photo story)
  • Ring of Feathers (artist Santiago Hernandez) – final episode
  • True Friends for Tansy (artist unknown) – first episode
  • Stairway to the Stars (photo story) – final episode
  • Farthings’ Flight (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)

 

This issue farewells two stories from Princess’s first lineup: “Ring of Feathers” and “Stairway to the Stars”. The pupils’ stage performance of course keeps the school open, but the euphoria fades a bit when the pupils learn the school exams are about to begin. Oh well, that’s part of any school. In “Ring of Feathers”, Cheryl manages to save the woods with the help of the ring and is also freed from her evil uncle, who is now in well-deserved trouble with the police.

New story “True Friends for Tansy” starts. Tansy Jones starts at a new school with a secret: she must not let anyone know her father is a famous pop star, otherwise she won’t know who her friends are. The trouble is, keeping the secret is interfering with friendships too and affecting Tansy’s popularity. I am having trouble identifying the artist. It looks a bit like John Johnston, but I am not sure. If anyone can help, it would be most appreciated.

Tansy panels

Jenny now realises she has grabbed the wrong rabbit, which messes up a ventriloquist performance she attempts to do. Meanwhile, Mr Evans breaks out of his cage and is now hiding in a hole, which could make it difficult for Jenny to find him again.

Grovel’s personality changes for the better after a bump on the head and he starts treating Sadie kindly. But of course it is too good to last. Sure enough, he returns to normal when Cook clonks him over the head with a frying pan.

Grandfather Farthing’s gift for communicating with animals exposes a groom who was mistreating horses and he is dismissed. But once the groom finds out Allgold is after them, he seizes his chance for revenge. Will this enable Allgold to capture the Farthings next week?

Jenny’s new double life as Hannah Hyde is bringing her the friends, popularity and confidence she had never known before. The trouble is, only sneezing can bring Hannah on, and you can’t just sneeze whenever you feel like it. Moreover, an unexpected sneeze can take Hannah away again, which can be at the worst possible moment. So this double life is proving very awkward for Jenny while her classmates are puzzled by the odd comings and goings of Hannah Hyde.

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Princess II, #7, 5 November 1983

Princess 7 cover

  • Farthings’ Flight (artist Hugo D’Adderio)
  • Mr Evans the Talking Rabbit (photo story)
  • Ring of Feathers (artist Santiago Hernandez)
  • Miranda’s Magic Dragon (artist Carlos Freixas) – final episode
  • Stairway to the Stars (photo story)
  • Atchoo! (artist Bob Harvey) – first episode
  • The Princess Diana Story
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Princess Diana Pinup

It’s the Guy Fawkes issue, and it’s Sadie in Waiting who does the honours. Poor Grovel is still in the doghouse after the Halloween fiasco he unwittingly caused last issue. Princess Bee won’t let him attend her fireworks display, but she would have been better off doing so. Grovel decides to have his own fireworks display – which messes up Princess Bee’s!

It’s the last episode of “Miranda’s Magic Dragon”. Miranda puts all the mixed-up magic right after she finally figures out how the magic pendant works – it only works as it should when the intention is good; otherwise things go wrong for the person using it. Pity nobody told Mordac that; he finds out the hard way when Miranda deliberately lets him have it, knowing full well that his intentions will be anything but good. It’s his downfall, of course.

“Atchoo!” starts today. You have to decide whether this one is a completely bonkers story or just plain silly. A weedy girl, Jenny Jeckyll, finds herself turning into a completely different and confident person – Hannah Hyde – after accidentally receiving a dose of her father’s new compound that can turn weeds into roses. The change occurs when Jenny sneezes, and another sneeze changes her back.

Mr Evans has gotten mixed up with a bunch of rabbits that look just like him. As a result, Jenny now has the wrong rabbit!

It’s now official in “Stairway to the Stars” – the council is closing the school down, in one fortnight. The pupils decide they might as well put on their end-of-term show on now then. A surprise turn of events has this turning it into their one chance to keep the school open – by performing it in front of the council. The trouble is, they have only one fortnight to get ready for a performance that was meant to take three months to prepare.

Allgold’s manages to catch up to the Farthings despite the distance they put between him and them. Then grandfather’s power takes a hand and birds attack Allgold’s flunkies. Bird power is also taking a hand in “Ring of Feathers”. The birds help Cheryl to reassemble the real deed her uncle tore up and prove the one he has is a fake. Now Cheryl is racing against her uncle and pouring rain to get the deed to the expert in the village.

Princess II, #6, 29 October 1983

Princess 6 cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Princess II, #5, 22 October 1983

Princess 5 cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Princess II, #3, 8 October 1983

Princess 3 cover

Contents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Princess II, #2, 1 October 1983

Princess 2 cover

Contents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Princess II, Issue 1, 24 September 1983

Princess 1 cover

Contents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Barracuda Bay [1975]; from June & School Friend [1970]

Sample Images

Barracuda Bay cover

Barracuda Bay 1aBarracuda Bay 1b

Published: June & School Friend 23 May 1970 to 19 September 1970. Reprinted Jinty 23 August 1975 to 22 November 1975

Episodes: 14

Artist: Santiago Hernandez

Writer: (possibly) Len Wenn

Translations/reprints: Barracudabaai (in Tina 1971)

Plot

Susan Stevens leads an “extraordinary double life” that alternates between an assistant to a British secret agent, Martin Risen, and odd jobs when not assisting him. The current one is working for a solicitor, which Susan finds dead boring.

Then Risen sends Susan a newspaper ad for an adventurous girl as an assistant (mostly secretarial work with some possible scuba diving) in an expedition for historical treasures in a sunken Spanish galleon at Barracuda Bay in the Bahamas. Susan jumps at the chance to escape her boring job.

Risen added a warning of possible danger to the ad, and later he informs Susan that the department organised it all because they want someone there to help find three missing scientists, Wellington, Menworth and Slade. All three were working on a new process for refining oil, and they mysteriously disappeared off vessels that were sailing in Barracuda Bay. Kidnapping is suspected, and the department’s job is to find them.

In Barracuda Bay, Susan meets her new employers, Mr and Mrs Prinze. The Prinzes want Susan to type up the book on the expedition. Prinze also teaches her to scuba dive, and soon Susan is diving down to the galleon. She finds Risen there too, who instructs her to meet him in Sam’s Shanty restaurant, where he works undercover as a kitchen hand (under a chef who hates him). At the restaurant Risen tells her about a multimillionaire named Cornelius Kane (who looks like Kingpin from Spiderman, and he wouldn’t look out of place in a 1960s James Bond film either). Kane is their suspect, and Susan is to get into his home, the Villa Lotus Flower, and see what clues she can find. Risen warns her not to arouse suspicion or Kane will become dangerous.

Susan manages to wangle her way into Kane’s house, and deliberately leaves her handbag behind so she will have a pretext to return. Meanwhile, Kane and Susan see a fire at Prinze’s store shed. The fire is put under control, but Susan sees suspicious tyre tracks of a truck that backed into the shed. Kane also warns Prinze to lay off his diving expedition, in a most threatening manner.

Suspecting the tyre tracks lead to Kane’s villa, Susan heads back to investigate. Meanwhile, Kane has found Susan’s purse, but it arouses his suspicions – which means he’s now dangerous. Sure enough, he orders his henchman Parker to deal with the suspected snooper if she returns.

However, Susan is one step ahead with binoculars and detects Parker. So she sneaks in the back way. In Kane’s study she finds all the drawers locked, but then sees a glasses case – and Kane does not wear glasses. The case has the initials PJW, which are the same initials as one of the missing scientists. Susan also finds the suspect truck and an empty petrol tin beside it.

Susan has to rendezvous in Barracuda Bay to report to Risen. They then spot an underwater light and dive down to investigate. But as they approach the reef they run into a strange black cloud that blinds them. They are forced to turn back.

That night Parker turns up at the Prinzes’ house to return Susan’s purse and delivers a veiled warning not to go back to Kane’s house. He is also carrying a gun, and his explanation that it is meant for protection does not ring true. Susan realises Kane suspects her.

Then when Prinze takes Susan out on his launch, it floods and sinks. Susan discovers too late that Parker sabotaged it. The sabotage maroons them on a deserted island in dreadful weather. They are surprised to stumble across a shed that is locked, and the padlock is new. They also find a patch outside that looks like oil. Prinze assumes it is somebody storing fuel, which has Susan realise someone could use the island for anchoring big ships. Just then Risen arrives and rescues them after seeing the wreckage of their launch. Susan reports what she has discovered, and Risen decides the shed needs further investigation.

They spot a mysterious yacht approach the island and don scuba gear to investigate. Susan sees Kane, Parker and a man who looks like Wellington on board, but does not realise Kane saw her. He hatches a plot for her to have a fatal ‘accident’ next time she dives down to the wrecked galleon, which he puts in motion the following day.

Down in the galleon, the black cloud returns and knocks Susan out. When she recovers she finds herself trapped in the galleon and her oxygen is nearly gone. Fortunately Risen and the Prinzes sense something is wrong. They see debris floating up from the galleon and realise it is a call for help. Risen dives down to the galleon in the nick of time and realises someone shut Susan in deliberately. He now wants to send Susan home because it is getting too dangerous. Susan insists on carrying on, but Risen puts her in a hotel for her own safety.

Risen investigates the shed and discovers it belongs to Kane. He also finds a newspaper that has marked the arrival of SS Pacific Star, which has another oil research scientist on board, a Charles Scott. Realising Kane is plotting another kidnapping, Susan and Risen head out to the Pacific Star to keep an eye on Scott. The ship is holding a fancy dress party, but Scott is suddenly called away to the boat deck because a man wants to speak to him. But of course it is a trap where Kane’s goons are lying in wait to grab Scott. They are all in scuba gear, which means they must have swum underwater and sneaked aboard. Susan has followed Scott, and as the goons are pressed for time they decide to grab them both. They are taken out by dinghy to a rendezvous with a submarine. The submarine takes them to an underwater cave at Barracuda Bay that has been converted into a secret hideout. This explains why Kane was trying to get rid of the Prinzes and their underwater expedition. Susan guesses the cave is not far from Kane’s house.

Scott chooses this moment to put up a fight, which enables Susan to make a break for it. She finds a scuba suit and tries to dive to safety, but is recaptured with more black cloud, which she learns is black dye they squirt to blind inquisitive divers. Susan is taken to Kane, and yes, the cavern is connected to his villa. But that’s not the only secret in his villa – it also has a cell where he is keeping the kidnapped scientists in chains. Susan is chained up with them.

Kane, being an oil tycoon, wants the scientists and their expertise in oil refinement for developing a secret formula that will make him the richest and most powerful man in the world. To ensure their cooperation Kane is making threats to harm their families. Their work is nearly finished, and Kane plans to move them to Texas for the final tests.

Susan tries to phone Risen for help, but Kane catches her. Because of her stunt, he orders the scientists to be moved to Texas that night. Susan still thinks her message got through, and the scientists decide to make a break for it. They succeed and Risen tries to get them to safety – but then Kane captures the lot of them. He prepares to take the scientists to Texas in his yacht while he follows in the submarine, and he locks Susan and Risen in a cell in the underwater hideout. Charges are rigged to blow up the hideout – and the two prisoners with it.

But a miracle occurs in the form of an earthquake, which damages the hideout enough for Susan and Risen to escape. They don scuba gear and hope Kane left the doorway to the base open so they can swim through. It turns out he has, but not in the way they expected: the quake has caused the doorway to jam right on Kane’s submarine and trap it. Outside help is needed to free Kane and his goons. But then the charges detonate, which blow up Kane and his trapped submarine. The explosion also triggers a tidal wave. Susan and Risen barely manage to survive it.

The Navy soon picks up Susan and Risen, and intercepts the yacht to free the scientists. Susan decides she needs a holiday after all this, but it is to be a relaxing one with deck chairs and ice cream. No more deep-sea diving adventures, thank you very much.

Thoughts

This serial was an odd one to appear in Jinty, because it was not an original Jinty serial; it was reprinted from June. Yes, it had been five years since the original run, which seemed to be the minimum time span before an IPC story could be reprinted. So “Barracuda Bay” was free for a reprint by that stage. However, it is puzzling as to why the young Jinty should suddenly reprint a story from an older comic when she was not even old enough to start her own reprints. And she was more than capable of coming up with her own serial for the slot.

It is difficult to put the reason for the reprint down to economics. Unlike Princess II, Jinty had not become an ailing comic that was being forced to fall back on reprints from older titles to cut costs. Could the serial have been reprinted as a filler, maybe? Most of the episodes are two-pagers rather than the usual three-page spreads Jinty used for her serials, which would make it a neater fit as a filler story.

Barracuda Bay originally appeared at a time when James Bond-inspired serials about spies and secret agents became popular in the late 1960s. It is hard to say if this was still so topical in 1975, but the serial still works because it is full of suspense, mystery, kidnappings, action, dangers, spying, scuba diving, sunken treasure (even if they are historical treasures rather than valuables), and a balmy tropical setting. And it’s all rendered through the artwork of the popular Santiago Hernandez. What’s not to love about these things? Any reader would be hooked with the story because it is so strong, racy, tightly constructed, full of mounting excitement and thrills, and has a very proactive action heroine who’s also a secret agent. Even the title adds to the drama with the word “Barracuda” in it, because the word conjures up images of ocean menace.

Kane and his secret underwater base look like they drew some inspiration from the James Bond film You Only Live Twice and its villain, Blofeld. Like Blofeld Kane is bald, though he is a much heavier and stockier build and does not wear a Blofeld outfit. He does not stroke a lap cat (or any other sort of pet) and is not a camp villain like Blofeld. Still, his decision to blow up his secret underwater base is not unlike Blofeld activating the self-destruct to destroy his own secret volcano base. However, while Blofeld escapes the self-destruct, Kane does not. He gets caught in his own explosion when the earthquake causes his submarine to get jammed in the doorway. A pretty strong way for June to end a villain, but the way things went there was no way around it. Unless, of course, he jumped into an escape pod, fled the submarine before it was blown up, and returned to haunt Susan in her subsequent June stories.

The Haunting of Hazel [1975-1976]

Sample Images

Haunting of Hazel 1aHaunting of Hazel 1bHaunting of Hazel 1c

Published: 11 October 1975 – 24 January 1976

Episodes: 16

Artist: Santiago Hernandez

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: Hazel en haar berggeest [Hazel and her Mountain Ghost] in Tina 1976/77, Tina Topstrip 27 (1981)

Plot

A group of girls are heading towards Black Crag Mountain for a course in mountaincraft and are looking towards a national championship. The group leader, Hazel Grenilda Williams, is being haunted by nightmares and feelings of foreboding. Rightly so, for the locals tell the girls that Black Crag has always had a reputation for being evil. Black Crag is said to be at its worst when it’s shrouded in mist, because that is when the evil really brews. Lately Black Crag has gotten worse, and is killing and maiming people. The locals live in dread of Black Crag and many have even been driven away. Hazel gets the same impression of the mountain when she sees it and is full of more foreboding and shivers. She feels Black Crag is like a great big beast waiting for prey. Yet she also has a fascination for Black Crag and feels drawn to it.

More mystery follows when Hazel finds a section of the guesthouse they are staying in, which is converted from an old school, has been sealed off and she is warned not to go beyond the locked door. A cleaner at the guesthouse, Annie, reacts strangely when she hears Hazel’s full name. Annie gets in a panic when a flock of crows mysteriously follow Hazel and her friend Gwen home, because the crows are Black Crag’s evil spirits and bring bad luck to the village. A letter from Hazel’s family arrives warning her not to go to Black Crag, but it’s come too late; Hazel’s already there.

Hazel has been having horrible feelings about Black Crag and now thinks they must be connected to psychic powers, which her family has a history of. She decides to investigate the locked door while having an odd feeling that she knows the place. Beyond the locked door Hazel and her group find a musty old library. In a book of old school records she finds a reference to another Grenilda. She is surprised as she thought nobody outside her family used the name. A page has been torn out just as it was about to record the details of Grenilda.

The group instructor, Miss Price, is injured when she falls through rotten floorboards in the library. She can’t join in the mountaincraft, which the girls start practising. However, rumblings are growing in the group that Hazel is not fit to lead. She has been acting out of character ever since they arrived, is letting that superstitious nonsense get to her, and is becoming irresponsible. The rumblings grow even more when Hazel goes off track during compass reading practice, which prompts a search.

Hazel went off track because her powers draw her to a new ally, Old Marnie the Witch. Old Marnie has psychic powers too and the locals call her a witch because of it. She tells Hazel Black Crag respects courage, so when she defied it, it left her alone. Hazel tells Old Marnie how Black Crag both terrifies and fascinates her and Old Marnie says it’s because they both have similar powers. Later Old Marnie tells Hazel that Black Crag acts the way it does because it has many enemies who misuse it. But if they befriend Black Crag, it can bring good instead of evil. Old Marnie had tried and failed and hopes Hazel will succeed.

A crow shows up again and it causes Hazel to stumble into a graveyard. One of the tombstones reads “Grenilda Williams”. And the tombstone is a new one! Hazel faints at the sight and Annie’s father, Albert Mann, sees her and carries her to the guesthouse. While she regains consciousness, she speaks in a strange manner. Mann is very surprised at this, because it is the old mountain dialect, which is supposed to be extinct. Miss Price informs Hazel that a trust was set up to renew that tombstone each year, which is why it was new. Grenilda is a local girl who died over 100 years ago in strange circumstances.

Hazel is also in further trouble because she left the girls on the mountain while going off after the tombstone. She and Mann go in search of the girls, and find them with the mysterious aid of the crows. After this, there is serious talk of cutting the mountaincraft course short because of Hazel.

Eventually Hazel is given another chance and they go climb Black Crag. No sinister happenings are occurring so far, but Hazel comes across evidence that someone is planting dynamite on Black Crag and it is causing explosions. If that is the case, Black Crag will surely cause even more trouble.

A violent thunderstorm forces the party to shelter in a hut. Hazel finds the name Grenilda Williams again. She senses Grenilda is haunting the place and Grenilda wants her to do something. Grenilda leads Hazel to a cupboard, where Hazel finds what looks like a Bible, a string of beads and a lock of hair. Later, Hazel finds writing at the front of the Bible that could be a clue, but it is very faded.

The party arrive back successfully and even save Old Charlie’s sheep, which they rounded up on the mountain. Charlie is grateful for this, but when he learns what Hazel has found in the hut, he warns her not to meddle. Mann seems oddly angry at Hazel saving the sheep. He then gives Hazel a telegram for Miss Price, which informs her that she must leave for a few days and leave Hazel on charge on her own.

Grenilda then summons Hazel back to the library, where Hazel finds Grenilda’s old diary. In it, Grenilda criticises the dangerous use of child labour in a silver mine on Black Crag. She speaks to the mine owner about it, but he just throws her out, saying they are the only ones small enough to go through the narrow shaft in the heart of Black Crag. Black Crag tells her such exploitation will end in disaster. Sure enough, a violent thunderstorm causes a cave-in, and Grenilda says it is the mountain’s curse on the exploitation. Children are still trapped down there; Grenilda is the only one thin enough to go down the shaft, and she feels Black Crag wants her to do it. A newspaper clipping says she rescued them, but she died doing so. The remorseful mine owner set up the trust to renew her tombstone each year.

Just then Steffie from the mountaincraft party decides Hazel deserves a little scare. But Hazel is such a bag of nerves from the haunting that the fright makes her go absolutely crazy with fright and she runs off. She finds herself back at Grenilda’s grave, and the ghost warns her that there is danger for her under the school roof and she is not to go back.

At this, Hazel drags the girls right out of the place and into camping in terrible weather on Black Crag. On the way they pass Annie, who says it’s the dark of the moon, when Black Crag is at its most dangerous, and she’s got a charm from Old Marnie to protect her. One of the girls breaks her leg and Hazel braves the mountain and terrible weather to get the doctor, with the aid of Grenilda. She succeeds, but the girls have had enough of her bizarre behaviour and send her to Coventry. The course continues without Hazel, but at least it gives her more time to pursue the mystery.

Grenilda is helping Hazel out while they do more investigating at the old school. She does not realise Mann is watching and does not like what she is doing. She learns Grenilda saved her brother from the mine, and he is Hazel’s ancestor. Now she realises why her parents wanted her to stay away from Black Crag and why the name Grenilda runs in her family.

Miss Price returns, and when she hears what has been going on she sends Hazel packing. Hazel isn’t having that, so she jumps off the train at the next stop and walks back, but finds the terrain unfamiliar and tough going. Grenilda brings help in the form of Old Marnie. They head for Grenilda’s old home on Black Crag. Old Marnie warns Black Crag is extremely disturbed and angry, and then Grenilda warns Hazel that something evil is approaching.

That evil turns out to be Mann and an accomplice. Hazel overhears Mann saying that he has been trying to scare those girls out of the school, presumably by having Annie winding them all up with scary stories about Black Crag. Once they are gone he does he will move on to the final part of the plan. But it isn’t just the girls he has been scaring; he has also been scaring the villagers into selling their land for a pittance because he wants to reopen the old silver mine. The men have been dynamiting their way through the blocked workings to reach the silver. Hazel now realises why Black Crag is angry. She heads off to tell Old Marnie and spread the word about Mann. On the way Hazel hears a terrible wailing, and Old Marnie tells her it is the Crying Stone, which only wails when something terrible is about to happen to the village.

Hazel then realises the girls are on Black Crag and in danger from a growing thunderstorm, so she must get to them. She makes a most dangerous short cut up a sheer rock face to do it, with Grenilda’s help. Hazel proceeds to get the girls off the mountain in the face of the bad weather. This is followed by dangerous landslides, which Hazel believes are the result of the angry mountain speaking out. Miss Price is so impressed with Hazel’s heroism she overlooks the previous trouble.

The landslides destroy Mann’s shop, and an inspector says the area can never be used for mining again because it is now too unstable. So Mann is now punished and his scheming foiled. Grenilda and Black Crag are now at peace, which means Hazel is too. Now Hazel is no longer haunted she can lead the mountaincraft group properly, and they intend to soar to greater heights in the mountaincraft national championship.

Thoughts

This is the only story Santiago Hernandez drew for Jinty (“Barracuda Bay” is now believed to be Hernandez artwork too, but the story is reprinted from June). Hernandez’s artwork is brilliant at bringing off the foreboding atmosphere of Black Crag, the horrors that constantly haunt Hazel, and the terrifying environments in which they erupt, whether it is the spooky old library or dreadful weather on Black Crag. Further adding to the creepy atmosphere is the rugged, rural environment of Black Crag and the peril that always accompanies mountain climbing, even on a normal mountain.

The real twist of the story is that the things that constantly terrify Hazel turn out not to be the true threat. They are not evil, just angry and disturbed, and it is eventually revealed they have good reason to be. Black Crag, which was initially portrayed as the evil of the story, turns out to be a helper. The real evil comes from Albert Mann, who is trying to scare off people (and is presumably responsible for all the killings and maimings that have been blamed on Black Crag) for his own profit. In so doing he is not only cheating people but also stirring up genuine supernatural forces that start affecting Hazel.

Hazel is the most susceptible to the supernatural forces because she has inherited the family’s psychic powers. But Hazel’s powers have awakened in a most disturbed manner and she cannot fully understand them. Fortunately she has guidance from Old Marnie, who is more experienced with such powers and can inform her about the correct way to handle Black Crag. Unfortunately, but understandably, the members of the mountain group Hazel leads think she’s just losing her marbles and shouldn’t be listening to such superstitious rubbish. In a sense they are right, because it turns out Mann is trying to scare them off and presumably put Annie up to winding them up with crazy, embroidered stories about Black Crag. Yet Hazel is right too, and being unable to find anyone to listen except Old Marnie and Grenilda almost wrecks her career.

One thing is puzzling: when the girls go mountain climbing, they never wear safety helmets. Were safety helmets not worn so much at the time, or is this an error in the story?

Santiago Hernandez or José Ariza?

I mentioned in my recent post about Jinty 4 October 1975 that the story “Barracuda Bay” is one that we’ve understood to be attributable to Santiago Hernandez, while saying that it was an attribution I didn’t necessarily ‘get’ until I read the issues of Sandie that included “The Golden Shark”. The two stories both showcase a lot of scuba diving, so there are obvious elements to compare directly. There are also drawings of the two protagonists looking quite similar across both stories.  Finally, in “The Golden Shark” in particular, there are other characters who look very similar to ones in “The Haunting of Hazel”, which is confidently attributed to Hernandez.

“Barracuda Bay”:

Barracuda Bay pg 1

Barracuda Bay pg 2

“The Golden Shark”:

The Golden Shark pg 1 The Golden Shark pg 2 The Golden Shark pg 3

And finally, “The Haunting of Hazel”:

The Haunting of Hazel pg 1

The Haunting of Hazel pg 2 The Haunting of Hazel pg 3

Mistyfan draws my attention to another possible artist that could be a contender for the creator of “Barracuda Bay”: José Ariza, who you may know from his work in Misty or in DC Thomson’s Emma (he drew wartime thriller “The White Mouse”).

The White Mouse page 1The White Mouse page 2

The White Mouse page 3

There are quite a lot of similarities, though I would tend to associate Ariza more closely with Trini Tinturé, who I could more readily imagine confusing his art with. The face of the White Mouse in the last panel immediately above, for instance, is very close to Trini’s style, I would say. Here is some more art from José Ariza, this time from Misty:

Vengeange is Green pg 1 Vengeange is Green pg 2 Vengeange is Green pg 3 Vengeange is Green pg 4

What elements of the artwork can help to decide between two artists? There are lots of small things to look at: noses, eyes, hands. To me, there are many similarities between the at on “Barracuda Bay” (henceforth BB) and on “The Golden Shark” (henceforth GS). The eyes and mouth on the character in the logo on panel one of BB looks very similar to the scuba-diving character (for instance in the bottom middle panel of of the first page of GS). And generally, the scuba diving art in the two stories matches very well, so I have no real doubt that these two stories are drawn by the same artist.

Triangulating with “The Haunting of Hazel” (henceforth HH), again there are matching elements: the hairstyles in GS and in HH share a lot of traits, such as the styling of the characters with the black bobs, who all seem to have fierce, floating hair. GS is less tightly drawn than either HH or GS, though.

But what about Ariza? Mistyfan draws attention to the detail of the eye of the White Mouse on the second page of that story: I would also highlight the pose of the nurse’s body in the first panel of the first page, along with the mouth of the nurse in this story. There’s no exact match of them with the Barracuda Bay art, but they feel similar in style nevertheless, as if you could imagine them belonging on the same page. I don’t feel at all the same about “Vengeance is Green”, though – the hairstyles in particular are much curvier and bouncier than those in HH and GS. Barracuda Bay has fewer visible hairstyles apart from in the logo picture, but there again I would call that wispy in a way that matches HH much more than the very ‘full’ hairdos in “Vengeance is Green”.

What do you think? On the basis of this comparison, I am happy with the assignment of “Barracuda Bay” to Santiago Hernandez, though I will certainly grant the similarities when set next to “The White Mouse”. But if “Vengeance Is Green” is more typical of Ariza’s art then I would see rather more differences than similarities between his work and “Barracuda Bay”. What details would you concentrate on? Or, what larger features would you look at to decide this sort of question – whole-body poses, page composition perhaps? None of it is an exact science – let’s have your views.