Tag Archives: Shirley Bellwood

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 4 November 1978

Cover 4 November 1978

Stories in this issue:

  • The Girl Who Never Was (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • No Cheers for Cherry (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Gypsy Rose: Wicked Lady Melissa (artist Shirley Bellwood)
  • She Shall Have Music (artist Ron Smith)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Human Zoo (artist Guy Peeters)

Tina starts learning how to do some magic in this parallel world – she learns how to float an object with her mind. She tries it out on the hockey pitch but the results aren’t entirely positive – she loses control of the ball and it heads straight towards the headmistress, at speed!

Dorrie and Max are helped out by a passing war veteran who turns out to have been in the same regiment as their dad. He is very kind and feeds them at his own expense, but he can tell they are runaways – will he let the authorities know they are there?

Cherry lands in the water, trying to rescue her first press clipping that she was aiming to send home to her mother. Her aunt and family are less than kind, leaving her in wet clothing and making her work in all weathers. No wonder she comes down ill after that.

The Gypsy Rose story this week is clearly a reprint from an earlier title – Gypsy Rose is drawn in by another artist, in the chair where the Storyteller presumably sat. The in house artist who did this sort of work was called a bodger; this example is pretty well done, though Gypsy Rose’s face on the final panel is not quite as nicely done as it might be. In this story, wicked Lady Melissa possesses young Anthea once she starts using an old whip in order to play the ‘Georgian belle’ for a pageant.

The Carstairs family move into a small terraced house and start to get used to their changed circumstances. Lisa starts at a new school, but refuses to change her selfish ways: she won’t help her mother clean the house, she squeals like a baby when she gets a splinter in her finger at school, and she leaves school in a temper when she is prevented from playing on the school piano.

Last week, Fran served dandelion tea to all the staff at her school – or so she thought! Actually it had fermented and she was serving them all dandelion wine instead… ooops. The school governor, Colonel Wellington, was due to arrive any minute. How can Fran avoid him seeing everyone squiffy? The front cover of the comic gives a clue…

Shona encourages all the humans in hiding – her sister sends her a telepathic message showing her the way to a beautiful fertile valley where all can live in peace and safety.

Misty: Moonchild & The Four Faces of Eve (2016)

This is a review of the Rebellion reprint of two stories from Misty: “Moonchild” and “The Four Faces of Eve”. Many thanks to Rebellion for supplying this review copy.

The announcement last year that Rebellion were to reprint two classic stories from Misty was met with great excitement. How does the reality match to our heightened expectations? What might we like to see Rebellion do more of in any future reprints of IPC material, and what might we want them to avoid if possible?

Rebellion Publishing 2016

The two stories themselves are likely to be familiar to many readers of this blog and I won’t cover the content of the stories at all in this review. (Other reviews, such as this one on FA Comiczine, cover this territory.) “Moonchild” is a definite classic and would spring to most people’s minds when thinking of key stories from Misty. It also has the name recognition factor of Pat Mills; John Armstrong is probably less well known to those who are not already fans of UK girls comics, but is also familiar from Tammy‘s “Bella at the Bar”. “The Four Faces of Eve” isn’t one of the stories I would necessarily immediately think of when coming up with classics from Misty, but Malcolm Shaw can certainly make a tale speed along and the Brian Delaney art is stylish and beautiful. I don’t think any knowledgeable reader of UK girls comics would have a problem with these two stories having been chosen to represent Misty in the first modern reprint edition, though depending on individual preferences we might have made slightly different choices.

The book itself felt a bit thin when I took it from the (large) packaging, but that was slightly illusory: it’s a good size book, and the fact it combines two stories of a decent length means that you feel that it gives you enough to get your teeth into. However at 114 pages it still feels like a relatively quick read; fellow Rebellion title “Monster”, reprinted from Scream & the Eagle, clocks in at 192 pages so I think there is room to push the boat out and include more pages next time. The print and production qualities are high (much higher than the original newsprint of course), though there are some aesthetic choices that will succeed with some readers and maybe not with all. Specifically, the cover features beautiful Shirley Bellwood art, but the pink (on Misty’s skin and dress) has come out with the half-tone screen dots very visible: surely done on purpose as this is not anything constrained by current production processes. The title logo has also been re-designed, using a rather wiggly and wavy font: I don’t know why anyone would use anything other than the classic logo, unless the rights to that logo had not been acquired at the time? It’s not a bad choice in itself – I like the little crescent moon that tops the letter ‘i’ in the title – but it feels like a bit of an unnecessary change.

There’s a good amount of extra material inside. Pat Mills has written a foreword about the historical context of girls comics publishing of the time, and how the title Misty was originally created; generous credit given to fellow creator Malcolm Shaw in particular and many readers of this blog will be glad to see Mavis Miller get a namecheck too. At the back of the book, Dr Julia Round has written a lovely tribute to Shirley Bellwood, and there are brief biographies of all four creators (Brian Delaney’s is particularly brief but I suspect there may be limited biographical information available about him). Finally, there are one or two craft items included – how to make a witch’s hat, and how to make a tree-devil mask. I think these are a great touch: I suspect they were added for kitsch value but they bring something extra of their own to the reprint. More of this sort of thing in any reprint please!

Of course the key component to any such reprint is the treatment of the comic pages themselves. The printing is nice and crisp and you wouldn’t particularly guess it had been scanned from a published edition. Will Morgan makes the observation (in his review on FA) that John Armstrong’s art suffers because it includes so many thin lines, which are lost in the production: that’s true, but I think most readers wouldn’t notice, as they will be dragged along by the story. The faces and the other details in the story remain compelling – there are large standout images throughout, that arrest the reader’s attention regardless of individual fine detail elements that are lost.

I am also sure that hardly anyone would notice the fact that the Moonchild pages have been edited to fit a larger page size*: an extra two centimetres of art was drawn on the bottom of each page, to make it longer! It sounds absurd and obvious but in fact I have read exactly this edition (which was the version printed in the 1983 Misty Annual) more than once and have only noticed it now, when looking quite carefully. (This is just like what happened in the 1979 Jinty Annual, in the story “Trudy On Trial”.) Having said that, in some places this editing is pretty clumsily done: another time it would be far preferable to follow the model used in “The Four Faces of Eve”, where you can see the original logo from each weekly episode, and the original art dimensions are respected. (In the case of “Eve”, in particular, the story title logo and accompanying art is really beautifully done and is different in almost every episode, so it would be a real loss to miss this out.)

[*Edited to add: I should clarify here that Rebellion themselves haven’t edited the art to fit a larger page size, but they have chosen a source to scan from where this had been done, that is, when the story was reprinted in the 1983 Misty Annual.]

I know this review is a little odd in focusing so strongly on the editorial and publishing choices made when creating this reprint, rather than on the stories themselves. As you will understand, I am keen to understand what any future reprints from other girls comics could look like! Of course, the quality of the stories themselves is not anything I have any concerns about, but lacklustre publishing decisions can damn the best content. This first reprint from Rebellion isn’t perfect but it hits the right high notes. New readers will find plenty to love, while those who already know the content will be very happy to see a professional, competently-executed edition produced by people who perhaps are still figuring out some of the details of what will work best, but who are very much moving in a welcome direction. Here’s hoping it is the success it deserves to be!

Misty: Featuring Moonchild & The Four Faces of Eve. Rebellion Publishing, 2016. ISBN 9781781084526

Shirley Bellwood

Shirley Bellwood, who died in January 2016 aged 84, is probably particularly familiar to most readers of this blog as the key Misty artist, creator of the beautiful cover and interior images of the mysterious dweller in the Cavern of Dreams. However, as this very informative piece on Down the Tubes explains, she had a long artistic career from well before Misty was published, starting in the 1950s.

In the pages of Jinty, she was most usually seen as the illustrator of text stories in Specials and Annuals. There were one or two comics stories drawn by her but these were reprinted from earlier titles.

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“Women Making Girls Comics” – talk at the House of Illustration, 16 April 2016

Along with Dr Mel Gibson, David Roach, and a good-sized audience, on Saturday I took part in a lively and high-quality discussion about female creators of girls comics and many other related topics. It was organized as part of the Comix Creatrix exhibition of female comics artists; a great subject for an exhibition (particularly timely in the light of the kerfuffle at the Angouleme festival this year). As tends to be the case, UK children’s comics didn’t get much of a look-in at the exhibition, though there is a page of Evelyn Flinders pencil art and an incomplete piece of Shirley Bellwood unpublished Misty art both on display. The exhibition is focused on mature readers on purpose – hence the ‘x’ in the word ‘comix’ – but the gap in the coverage of UK girls comics was pretty palpable following discussions on co-organizer Paul Gravett’s facebook page. And lo, it came to pass that some months later the three of us named above were convened at the House of Illustration, near King’s Cross.

Paul Gravett introduced us all to kick off the proceedings, and Mel gave a more in-depth introduction of our various areas of specialities. Phoenix has described the event from his perspective, over on the Comics UK Forum, and there are some other posts on social media by attendees, with further description and photos. The talk was some two hours long (until shortly before it started I’d assumed it would be just 1 hour or so, but there was so much to talk about it never dragged!) and included time for questions as we went along, and afterwards too.

I can’t at this point cover everything that we discussed, partly because I was obviously not in a position to take notes, and partly because of lack of time. I understand that the venue is supposed to have been recording the discussion, and assuming that is forthcoming I will update with details of how to listen to the recording. There are a couple of immediate points of ‘breaking news’ arising from the event, though – David Roach has dug out a set of samples by Emilia Prieto, who is clearly the artist on “Sceptre of the Toltecs” and “Kerry In The Clouds” – both art and signature match. It’s not very clear to me right now as to how the original misattribution could have happened, but the signatures of both artists are very similar, and of course there is always the question of whether a pseudonym was used at any point. I shall nevertheless be amending this blog’s references to specify “Emilia Prieto” instead.

Emilia Prieto
NB artist signature was seen on a different piece of art that I did not photograph

David also clarified some outstanding questions about the artist on “The Cult of the Cat”, credited on this blog as “H. Romeu” or “Honiera Romeu”. The artist’s pen name for many years was “Homero”, riffing off the Homer of antiquity (and ‘Honiera’ must therefore simply be a typo that crept in somewhere along the line). From the end of the 1970s or the beginning of the 1980s he reverted to his real surname (he was a Catalan, and in the Franco era it was forbidden to use Catalan surnames – people had to use the Castilian equivalent) for all purposes. So his real name, which I will change all the references on this blog to use, is “Jaume Rumeu”. However, as his penname during the relevant period was still Homero, I will include this as reference too. It may take a little time to apply this change consistently so do bear with me.

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One of the discussions points that I was particularly intrigued to hear was the fact that David catalogued some 40,000 pages of Amalgamated Press / Fleetway artwork, and had sight of the payment books from the relevant times – between the 1940s and 1960s I think he said. Between that and the fact that he has information originating from Barry Coker’s agency which dealt directly with many Spanish artists, David clearly has a huge amount of knowledge that is not only derived from long experience of analysing art, but also from actual records and archives. Watch this space for a future email interview with him, therefore!

 

Jinty Annual 1980

JInty annual 1980

Cover artist: Audrey Fawley

  • Rinty (cartoon)
  • The Christmas Spirit (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Can You Beat Sharp-Eyed Sharon? (artist Keith Robson)
  • And Then There were Two – text story (artist Shirley Bellwood, writer Linda O’Byrne)
  • Alley Cat
  • Drat This Weather! (feature)
  • Sally Was a Cat (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • It’s a Mystery! (quiz)
  • Wrong End of the Tape – text story (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty (cartoon)
  • Gymnast Jinty (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • The Bride Wore Black (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Snow Dog – text story (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Noel Edmonds (feature)
  • If I’d been a Princess – poem
  • Superspud! Feature
  • Calendar 1980 (feature)
  • At the Midnight Hour… – text story
  • How Fruity are You? Quiz
  • The Whistling Skater – poem (Concrete Surfer artist?)
  • No Time for Pat (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Happy Ever After – text story
  • The Winning Loser (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Meet Some Hopeless Cases (feature)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • The Island of Mystery – Gypsy Rose story
  • Cat’s Corner – feature
  • The Town Girl – text story (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Take an Egg! (feature)
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)

The Jinty annual 1980 is a solid annual. Her own features are Alley Cat, Gypsy Rose, Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag, and Fran’ll Fix It! We learn that Fran is at her worst when she is trying to be helpful (spreading Christmas cheer) because that is when disaster is most likely to strike. Despite everything, Fran does spread cheer by making an old misery laugh at the sight of her after she tries to clean a chimney. But after this she gives up helping and goes back to fixing. Rinty is a bit unusual for having his own feature at the start of the annual. It’s just Rinty – no Jinty. Yet we get a Rinty ‘n’ Jinty cartoon later in the annual.

“Sally was a Cat” is a be-careful-what-you-wish-for story. The Robert MacGillivray artwork lends even more fun to the hilarity when sourpuss Sally Biggs wishes she could change places with her cat – and then finds the cat comes from a long line of witches’ cats and can therefore oblige her! You also have to be careful what you say around Henrietta too, in the fun-bag story. Sue wishes it could be holidays all the time instead of school, and Henrietta seizes on that in her usual alacrity. Sue changes her mind when she sees the spell has everyone else off on holiday too! No burgers, no buses, no mum to make tea, because they’re all taking a holiday. Still, Sue and her friends do end up with a holiday from school in the end because of flooding.

1980 5

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“The Christmas Spirit” is lost on Julie. She is fed-up with being the butt of jokes because her surname is Christmas. She tries to find the Christmas spirit for her brother’s sake but isn’t having much luck – until she finds shelter in a snowstorm and things begin to happen. The Christmas spirit also comes to the rescue of “The Town Girl,” who is having trouble fitting into country life.

1980 3

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In “The Winning Loser”, Jean and Alice Fisher try to get a replacement vase for their gran, who is comatose. Alice finds one going as a second prize in a tennis match, but has to learn to play tennis and go up against Selena, an arrogant girl who is always poking fun at her. At the tennis match, Alice starts playing a bit too well against Selena and could end up with first prize instead of the second prize she wanted for her gran. So she has to face a choice at the match – her pride or her gran?

1980 6

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“The Bride Wore Black” is a demented bride still clinging to her wedding gown and feast decades after the wedding that never took place. An old cliché, but the creepiness is brought off to perfection by the Jim Baikie artwork.

1980 4

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Jinty annuals have still not escaped the era of reprinting old serials from June. This time it’s “No Time for Pat”. No, it isn’t about a neglected girl. It’s a tear-jerker of a story about a girl who is living on borrowed time and using it to help a wheel-chair bound girl at the orphanage. Oddly, the June reprint has no border while the other reprints of June serials in other Jinty annuals do. Yet the Fran story does have a border.

1980 2

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Other reprints include Gymnast Jinty, whom Comixminx has been wondering has been one inspiration for Jinty’s name. In this reprint, Gymnast Jinty is leading a camping trip instead of doing gymnastics. But her leadership faces a huge problem – Carol Lomas. Carol is a foolhardy girl whose lack of common sense causes all sorts of scrapes and could lead to big, big trouble – and it eventually does when Carol tries to show off while a storm is blowing up.

I wonder whether the text stories were actually written for the annual or reprints, or both. “Then There Were Two” is the only one with a credit, to Linda O’Byrne as the writer. It probably is a reprint as it is drawn by Shirley Bellwood. The same may hold true for “At the Midnight Hour” as the spot illustration artist is unknown but definitely not a Jinty artist. The spot illustrations of the other text stories were done by artists who have drawn for Jinty (Terry Aspin, Douglas Perry and Phil Townsend).

The Gypsy Rose story finally leaves Uncle Pete (The Storyteller under another name) behind. Gypsy Rose is now telling the story herself, although the story is still recycled from Strange Stories. Nonetheless, it is a sign that the Jinty annuals were beginning to outgrow reprints from older comics.

Jinty Annual 1981

Jinty annual 1981

  • Mirror of Tears (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • A Sticky Tale (poem)
  • Parts of Destiny and Romance (feature)
  • To Tell You the Truth (text story)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Make Friends with Your Mirror (feature)
  • The Seven Whistlers – Gypsy Rose story (artist Shirley Bellwood)
  • Just Joking
  • Give Gypsy Lara a Mouth! (feature)
  • The Best Bouquet (writer Linda O’Byrne)
  • Strange but True! (feature)
  • All My Own Work! (feature)
  • Jinty’s Big Puzzle Spread
  • Lilliput Christmas (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Witchwynd (text story)
  • The Laughing Elf – Gypsy Rose story (artist Shirley Bellwood)
  • How S-s-superstitious are You? (quiz)
  • Our Newest Nature Reserves! (feature)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Alley Cat
  • Dairy Delights! (feature)
  • Hobbies Calendar 1981 (feature)
  • Keep it Handy! (feature)
  • She Couldn’t Remember! (artist John Armstrong)
  • Tracy on Trial – text story (artist Shirley Bellwood)
  • Boo to the Goose! (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Mother’s Little Helpers (feature)
  • The Lost Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Have You Got a Magnetic Personality? (quiz)
  • Spot the Difference! (puzzle)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (cartoon)
  • Resolutions Can Be Blooming Fun! (feature)

Pam of Pond Hill headed the advertising for this annual in the regular comic. Perhaps it was the “dumbo” editor’s way of making it up to her for omitting her from the annual and saying it was too late. In fact the only Jinty annual to have a Pond Hill story would be the 1982 annual. The 1983 annual had a Pond Hill feature, which was on its annual bazaar and instructions for the items and games the bazaar had on offer. The 1984 annual had no Pond Hill content at all, and the next two had no Jinty content altogether. The 1981 Jinty annual was the last to reprint a June serial, which was “She Couldn’t Remember!” A girl wakes up in hospital and finds she has completely lost her memory. Everyone calls her Sally and the nice woman who visits her in hospital claims to be her mother. But it doesn’t feel right and it soon becomes apparent that it’s not adding up either. It’s not your typical story about people taking advantage of an amnesic girl. As the story develops, it becomes apparent that someone does not want “Sally” to regain her memory and they are resorting to drugs to do it! And by the looks of the two horrible-looking men she begins to remember, it could be very dangerous if she does remember who she really is. And how is the so-called mother mixed up in it? Strangely, the next annual reprinted a Tammy serial, “Rona Rides Again”.

She Couldnt Remember

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Pam may have missed out on this annual, but the Jinty characters to make it were “A Girl Called Gulliver” in a Christmas story, “Lilliput Christmas”, “Bizzie Bet and the Easies”, drawn by Hugh Thornton-Jones (and for once, the Easies don’t get the last laugh on Bet), and Gypsy Rose, albeit with reprinted Strange Stories. The Lilliput story is unusual as the original story was a serial, not a regular feature. It was extremely rare for Jinty to publish sequels to serials in her annuals. It shows how popular “A Girl Called Gulliver” must have been. “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” is another curious omission from the annual. Come to that, it never appeared in any Jinty annual. What could the reason have been?

lara

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Alley Cat and Rinty ‘n’ Jinty are also present. Oddly, Jinty reprinted some Brenda’s Brownies, who never appeared in the regular Jinty. Couldn’t Jinty have made more of an effort there in printing her own material such as another Alley Cat story instead of resorting to a somewhat lazy filler? There is no “Fran’ll Fix It!”, but we do get a Jim Baikie story that looks like it was actually drawn for this annual instead of a reprint of early Baikie from June or whatever. We have to wonder if there are shades of Baikie’s “The Forbidden Garden” as this one is called “The Lost Garden”. Janey is orphaned and only her relatives, though they don’t actually ill-treat her, don’t love her at all. They didn’t even want her in the first place and only took her in because there was nobody else. A rose bush from her old home is her only solace, and her quest to find a garden for it leads to new happiness and guardians who are suitable. “Mirror of Tears” is an unconventional take on the Christmas fare that is routine in a girls’ annual. It is a story of a Christmas haunting that threatens to ruin the Dales’ first Christmas in their new home because Christmas is the anniversary of when it all started. A Victorian girl was looking forward to a present from her father, but all she got for Christmas was tragedy when he died in an accident. Powerful stuff, guaranteed to make readers cry. So will the solution – Vanessa Dale giving the ghost the present she received from her parents. And it was a sacrifice that showed all the spirit of Christmas as the parents can’t afford much at the moment. This has to be one of Jinty’s best complete stories ever and it well deserves to appear first in the annual.

Mirror of Tears

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“Boo to the Goose!” is an amusing twist on the saying about shy people not able to say boo to a goose. Gillian’s mother is fed up with her being such a pushover and tells her once and for all that she must learn to say boo to a goose. But she does not count on a real goose teaching Gillian that lesson or walking in with it for a pet!

goose

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This is a pretty solid Jinty annual. Although it has some reprints of older material, the Jinty stories are strong, with perhaps “Mirror of Tears” taking top honours, and it is terrific to see them drawn by Jinty’s regular artists. Its only real demerit point is the absence of Pam – what did the editor mean when he said it was too late to include her when she had been running in Jinty for about two years? The annual would have been even better with Pam in it.

Jinty Annual 1977

Cover Jinty Annual 1977

Stories in this annual:

  • The Blue Daffodil
  • Noelle’s Ark (text story)
  • Herbs of Life (Uncle Pete spooky story; artist Shirley Bellwood) – originally printed in June & School Friend, 4 July 1970 (source here)
  • Jill In the Dark (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Seal Summer
  • Spiky and Otis – gag strip
  • A Chip On Her Shoulder (Uncle Pete spooky story)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • A Call for Help (text story)
  • Star Performance (text story, illustrated by Terry Aspin)
  • Heroes of the Wreck (prose non-fiction)
  • The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • The Pooh Stick Game (text story, written by Lindy Gale)
  • The Nodding Mandarin (Uncle Pete spooky story)
  • Curse of the Cat Goddess!
  • The Bells of Karlok (Uncle Pete spooky story, illustrated by John Armstrong)
  • The Truth… and Mandy Martin
  • Nurse, please help me! (text story)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • A Christmas Dream (text story, illustrated by Trini Tinturé)

This doesn’t strike me as the strongest annual I’ve ever read, though some of that feeling may be down to the lack of many of the usual strong Jinty artists. There are a good number of strange stories, which I always like, and some solid text stories, but nothing very outstanding in any of it.

The first story, about a mystical plant that will bring happiness to the finder, has a desperate girl who wants to find it so as to make her mother well, and a rival bitchy girl who only wants to enrich herself. Of course the good end happily and the bad unhappily – but I do wonder what illness the girl’s mother could have that ‘only an expensive operation could cure’ that she wouldn’t be able to get on the NHS? It sounds rather like plot taken from the heyday of girls school stories rather than a 1970s story.

Other readers may well be more interested than me to read “Jill In The Dark”, illustrated by Carlos Freixas who I know has many fans. I like his work in other stories, and it is very nicely done, but there is a preponderance of melodrama both in the plot (girl runner finds herself going blind at unpredictable points, has to struggle in the absence of friends and family) and in the art (lots of shots of the eponymous Jill staring in panic as she struck by sudden blindness).

Jill In The Dark
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There are at least a couple of good solid Jinty standbys in the shape of “Dora Dogsbody” and “The Jinx from St Jonah’s”. Dora sees household hijinks as Mrs and Mr Siddons dress up for a fancy dress ball as Dick Whittington and a cat respectively – including Mr Siddons being ordered by his missus to  get onto the floor and miaouw at the cheeky mouse who has frightened her! In the end Dora gets to go to the ball and Mrs and Mr stay at home, nursing nasty colds. And in Katy Jinks’s story, of course she is the one causing the upsets and shenanigans, if inadvertently as ever. There are lots of trips and spills, and much outrage is caused, only to end happily for all. They are both nicely-judged stories with a light touch and a feel-good factor.

As ever there are also various quizzes and articles about possible careers for the reader when she grows up, and things to make and do. I include a scan of one of the quizzes below because it is illustrated by an artist I am particularly fond of, who I would like to know more about. Does anyone know the name of this artist at all?

Quiz for Castaways
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Jinty Holiday Special 1979

Jinty holiday special

  • Cover: Jim Baikie
  • The Girl on the Pier (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • It’s a Dog’s Life – text story (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Cuckoo Cookery (feature)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)
  • The Captain’s Bride – text story (artist Terry Aspin)
  • It’s Your Day to be Special! (feature)
  • The Spoof of St. Elma’s (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Alley Cat
  • Masquerade (artist Shirley Bellwood)
  • Fishing for Compliments! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • A New Hobby for Every Mood! (feature)
  • My Lady’s Fan (text story)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Colourama (feature)
  • Grey Owl and the Beaver (text story)
  • The Ghost of Charlotte – Gypsy Rose story

I have the misfortune to be missing a few pages in this special, so I do not have the ending to “The Spoof of St. Elma’s” or the title of the text ballet story that follows. If anyone can help, I would be most grateful!

Update: I now have the missing information, which I will supply later.

The special starts off with a Cinderella story “The Girl on the Pier”. The McLorys and their niece Belinda move into a seaside town where they start a guest house. But it’s Belinda who is lumbered with all the work and no pay. A bit of fun would make it better, but  there’s no fun either – except for her friend Noreen who promises fun on the pier when it opens. And when it does, Belinda has the time of her life and Noreen says she can stay forever. Back at the guest house, the uncle and aunt are puzzled by their niece’s disappearance, as the only pier around is one that burned down years ago. They begin to think they will never see their unpaid slave again….

With “The Spoof of St. Elma’s”, Jinty takes a rare foray into the theme of the sadistic school where the headmistress believes in the harshest discipline that makes for torture. But there is a twist that turns the theme upside-down. The “cold and unfeeling” Miss Reed, who takes great pride in making  St Elma’s “the harshest and strictest school in the country” (grim teachers and appointing the hardest girls as prefects are among her methods) retires and is replaced by Miss Steele. Miss Steele was chosen by Miss Reed herself for carrying on the Reed tradition, so the pupils brace themselves for more of the same. But Miss Steele seems to be poking fun at the whole thing when she humiliates the grim teachers by having them do PE in front of the pupils and then tell them to sing nursery rhymes, mimic an air raid to teach pupils about World War 2, and other bizarre things she directs over the newly-installed loudspeakers that are soon turning the harsh discipline of Miss Reed on its head. The odd thing is, nobody ever sees Miss Steele – they just hear her voice over the loudspeakers. Sadly, I am missing the story beyond page 30, so I have no idea what Miss Steele was playing at. If anyone can help, please advise me! I sure would like to know what happened!

In another school story, “Fishing for Compliments”, the headmistress growls at Chrissie for lousy schoolwork and hopes the new maths teacher can do something with her. When the new teacher, Miss Mayhew, moves into Chrissie’s house, Chrissie hopes to take advantage of Miss Mayhew’s love of fishing to divert Miss Mayhew from her grades. But things rebound on Chrissie during a fishing trip and she ends up with extra maths after all. But in the end, everything’s happy and everyone’s laughing over their misadventures.

Regular Jinty features are Bizzie Bet and the Easies and Gypsy Rose – which looks like another recycled Strange story that substitutes Gypsy Rose for the Storyteller. The story is about a brutal aristocrat who takes on a new wife, Charlotte. His brutality ends up killing her, but her ghost takes revenge when he tries to get rid of his former in-laws. He ends up perishing and becoming a ghost himself while they inherit his estate! A most satisfying tale of revenge and retribution on domestic violence.

No Fran, although she had her sequel in 1979. Maybe she showed up in other specials – she certainly made it to an annual or two. But Alley Cat and Rinty ‘n’ Jinty are there to give us the expected dose of laughs!

Update: Helsbels of www.comicsuk.co.uk has supplied me with the missing information. The text story is called Masquerade, and the entry has been amended accordingly. And Miss Steele turned out to be a computer, the only thing Miss Reed thought was capable of carrying on her hard, unfeeling discipline. Too bad for Miss Reed that Miss Steele malfunctioned, hence the goings-on that turned Miss Reed’s regime on its head. And now the computer has blown altogether. Miss Reed says she will soon get Miss Steele up and running the Reed way, but she does not get the chance. The governors are not impressed and neither are the teachers of Miss Reed’s ilk, who resign. They are replaced by school staff and a headmistress who take the opposite approach to Miss Reed, and the school becomes a happier place. So Miss Reed ended up destroying her own regime instead of perpetuating it!

Thank you, Helsbels!

Jinty Annual 1986

Minty annual 1986

  • Tessa Trot and Her Trusty Blot
  • Stop Those Nasty Habits (feature)
  • The Slave Girl and the Prince (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Miss Clever Thinker (artist Douglas Perry)
  • You’ll Never Swim Again!
  • The Test of Love (feature)
  • Oh I Wish I Had Beautiful Nails… (feature)
  • Gi-Gi of the Circus and Her Horse Go-Go
  • Things People Say… (feature)
  • A Chinese Love Story
  • No Horse Like Hamlet
  • Gloria
  • Why Do We Say These Things? (feature)
  • Christmas Creations (feature)
  • The Adaptable Animals (feature)
  • Locket of Fate (artist Shirley Bellwood)
  • The “Ghost” of Miss Clare
  • Autumn’s Child (artist Shirley Bellwood)
  • Friends (quiz)
  • The Waxworks Mystery (artist Diane Gabbot)
  • If Inventors Had Their Way… (feature)
  • The Diary (artist Bill Mainwaring)
  • Weather: The Rhyme and the Reason (Feature; artist Joe Collins)
  • Heart of Ice
  • Beautiful Tales: La Prima Ballerina
  • Miss Moneybags (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Holly Takes the Plunge! (text story)
  • Sad, Sad Susannah (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Rudolph’s Relatives (feature)
  • Caravan Christmas (artist Phil Gascoine)

The last two Jinty annuals were not a distinguished run. There was no recognisable Jinty content anywhere. They were a collection of stories, features and jokes that could either be reprints from non-Jinty sources or a mix of such stories and new material. Economics may have been the reason for the drop in quality. But when compared to the Tammy and Misty annuals of the period, this hardly seems a convincing explanation. Both Misty and Tammy continued to run their own material, even if they did fall back on reprints. In 1986 Misty also produced her last annual. This annual had a far reduced number of pages, indicating something serious behind the scenes which may have some bearing on the Jinty annuals. But at least it was still Misty and she was still producing her own material in her annuals. Yet this was not the case with the last Jinty annual of the same year. There was no Jinty content anywhere, just a collection of stories and features. It was Jinty in name only. Some stories, such as “Miss Clever Thinker”, “The Diary”, “Heart of Ice” and “Autumn’s Child” I recognise as reprints from older annuals, including Girls Crystal. “Holly Takes the Plunge!” is also a reprint – ironically, it also appeared as a reprint in the first Jinty annual!

The drop in quality began in the 1984 Jinty annual. While it still had some Jinty material to make it a substantial Jinty annual, the Jinty material had been reduced and some of the content gave way to reprints from older sources. The 1985 annual dropped her Jinty content altogether and was just a collection of stories and features that could make it any old annual (and very likely taken from older non-Jinty annuals). Why was there such drop in the quality of the last two Jinty annuals, particularly when compared to the Tammy and Misty annuals of the same years? Internal politics or economics? Lack of budget? Or something else? We will never know.