Tag Archives: Somewhere over the Rainbow

Somewhere Over the Rainbow (1978-79)

Sample Images

Somewhere Over the Rainbow 1aSomewhere Over the Rainbow 1bSomewhere Over the Rainbow 1c

Published: 20 May 1978 – 10 February 1979

Episodes: 36

Artist: Phil Townsend

Writer: Alison Christie

Translations/reprints: Spanish translation as “Más allá del Arcoiris”, publication unknown

Plot 

Just as the end of World War II is in sight, Mrs Peters and her daughter Dorothy (Dorrie for short, 13 years of age) and son Max (seven) receive the dreaded envelope that means Dad has been killed in action. This somewhat dampens their V-Day celebrations shortly after.

Some time later, the Peters family attend a Wizard of Oz production. During the performance Mum tells Dorrie that she and Max will find happiness over the rainbow. Afterwards, the programme blows away and Mum gets run over and killed while trying to retrieve it. Now the Peters children are orphans. Dorrie takes Mum’s final words to her deeply to heart and from then on, The Wizard of Oz inspires them all the way to seek out rainbow’s end. But where the heck do they even begin to look for the rainbow?

It certainly isn’t at social welfare, which is now in charge of the children. None of the foster homes for the children work out for one reason or other. In fact, one foster mother, Mrs Soper, is more like the Wicked Witch of the West. Things get worse when social welfare puts them in separate homes because mixed sexes aren’t allowed. At least Dorrie can visit Max, who is taking this rainbow’s end thing a bit literally.

Then Dorrie and Max find out about a home in Scotland that really is called “Rainbow’s End” when it advertises for a housekeeper in the newspaper. They decide that’s where they must seek the end of the rainbow. So they run away from social welfare and make the arduous trek all the way from London to Scotland (no, not singing “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”). This means plenty of adventures, misadventures, dangers, injuries and illnesses, hunger, bouts of horrible weather, helpful people, not-so-helpful people, and hitching lifts on assorted vehicles, beginning with sneaking aboard a lorry to get out of London. Sustaining them along the way and helping out in a lot of scrapes is their natural talent for song-and-dance routines, especially – you guessed it – The Wizard of Oz. All the while they are fugitives from social welfare and keeping one step ahead of them. World War II, still fresh and raw, casts its own shadow over the whole enterprise.

The Wizard of Oz itself always seems to pop up in one form or another. In one occasion, the children defend a scarecrow from being burned. In another, the children make their escape from a suspicious billeting officer who bears a strong resemblance to Miss Gulch. And now and then they hear snatches of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” when Dorrie isn’t singing it.

Not all of the twists and turns of their odyssey will described here because of the story’s length. However, some highlights and key points will be discussed.

On one occasion Max is forced to confront his wartime prejudices against Germans. It starts when they take shelter in an old army camp in an empty village, but are surprised by a man with a German accent. He’s a German soldier, and it’s soon obvious he is a fugitive in hiding too. He is not happy to find Dorrie and Max have taken over his bed, but kindly offers them breakfast in the morning. Max is too consumed by his hatred of Germans to have anything to do with him or his food, while Dorrie is less prejudiced and more receptive to his kindness. However, Max is so full of hate he rushes off to turn the German in. The German realises Max is running into danger – an unexploded mine – and risks his own life to save him. This has Max realise that “[not] all Gerries are bad…rotten!” and Germans are human beings too. From then on they’re friends. His name is Hans, a shot-down airman who was rescued by a British girl and they fell in love. However, she died before they could marry after the war, leaving him still a fugitive. Dorrie and Max persuade Hans to stop hiding, using their motto of “happiness over the rainbow”, and give himself up. They have high hopes Hans will be all right and get a fresh start in Germany.

Before long, Christmas is coming (issue-wise, a bit premature; this is three months before Jinty’s Christmas issue), but how to celebrate it while they’re on the run? Max buys Christmas decorations, but he forgot they have nowhere to hang them. Oh, dear. Dorrie does some busking with “Somewhere over the Rainbow” to raise cash for something for Christmas, which not only raises money for presents and Christmas treats but also lands her the lead in another Wizard of Oz production for Boxing Day. Performing it while keeping their fugitive status secret from the producer Mr Harris is not easy, but the show must go on. And it does, with “Shy Dorrie Makes Her Debut” in the newspaper because she can’t talk to the press.

Meanwhile, Max takes a plunge in freezing water because he unwisely tried out the ice. Dorrie hates leaving him alone while he’s still affected, but she has the show to do and the show must go on. But when she returns, the winter cold and plunge in freezing water have caused Max to develop pneumonia, which turns critical. Mr Harris helps him to hospital. Dorrie croons “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to him, which helps him to recover.

Unfortunately, Mr Harris is a social worker and it is his duty to return the children to the London home. However, at the station the children get away from him and stow away aboard a train going north. They get discovered and the conductor is set to turn them over, but he changes his mind when the children keep the passengers entertained when snow blocks the train. He lets them off at a station instead.

But the snow is thick, the cold is biting, Max is still weak from pneumonia, the children are starving and Dorrie has lost her ration books. Hunger makes Dorrie collapse, but they are picked up by a kindly man, Joe McDonald, who was in the same regiment as Dad. He owes Dad a favour, and taking in the children is his way of doing it. He also gets a mate from London to give them a lift further north. But the truck goes over a broken bridge and the children pull the driver to safety, but getting help means they get caught again. The police say sorry, but it’s their duty to turn them over to social welfare. But instead of London they take them to a children’s home, converted from an old army barracks, in Scotland.

Well, at least the children are in Scotland, but the home is definitely not the end of the rainbow – more like the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West. The kids are tough and bullying, and the matron is an ex-army officer who runs the place like a sergeant major of the worst kind and the heart of the witch herself. She treats children like soldiers, not children, with merciless army-style discipline. For example, she forces Max to do 20 laps around the ground with an army pack, ignoring Dorrie’s protests that he has been weakened by pneumonia, and poor Max collapses.

When Dorrie rises up in rebellion against their treatment, Matron locks her and Max in detention while taking the children on a long march. This turns out to be a blessing; while the others are out, waters from thawing snow flood the establishment, which helps Dorrie and Max escape on an old air bed. The home looks well and truly washed out and half-submerged, a nice surprise for bully Matron when she returns. With any luck it will be the end of that establishment. Later, the children learn from a newspaper that the authorities think they drowned when the home got flooded, so the police and social welfare are off their backs now. They can carry on unmolested.

They journey further into Scotland, but fresh trouble is never far off. It happens when Dorrie sprains her ankle. No further trekking until it’s better, and they have to camp out in an old German plane. Max is reluctant to do so because it is German but relents when Dorrie reminds him of their encounter with Hans and not all Germans are bad.

It’s up to Max to get the food while Dorrie is recovering, but again his actions are not well thought out. For example, his idea of disguising himself from nosey coppers is to buy a scary Halloween mask! Worse, he puts the food right where dripping rainwater ruins it.

Then it looks like Max takes a hit from a man shooting rabbits. Fortunately, it turns out Max just took a fall and a bump on the head and the man is another helper. But he advises them to move on fast because the authorities take a hard line on squatters.

So the children have to move on, although neither of them are fit for the road because of their injuries. Fortunately they meet a friendly ex-soldier who helps them get a lift to Glasgow where his grandmother can put them up. The children note that Glasgow has had its own share of bombing (watch this space). But things go wrong when they get there and the children are on their own again. Then they finally see a rainbow and hope rises again.

They get a lead that the home they are looking for is near Iverness, which means even more trekking north. They get more help from friendly people, and even a palm reading from a gypsy, who is surprised to see both children have a rainbow in their palms. If that weren’t omen enough, they find an old chair labelled “Rainbow’s End Home”.

Five miles on, they finally make it to Rainbow’s End Home. There they show Matron the ad for the housekeeping job that prompted their journey. However, they are dismayed to find Rainbow’s End is an old folks’ home, not the children’s home they were expecting. It looks like it was all for nothing and skies aren’t blue for them at all. But it leads to their being adopted by a lovely couple who lost their own children in the Glasgow bombing and are look-alikes for their own parents. So they find happiness at Rainbow’s End after all.

Thoughts

Comixminx and I have balked at doing this one for a long time because of its supreme length. At 36 episodes, it is the second-longest running serial in Jinty’s history, which makes it a challenge to summarise. However, an entry on this story was way overdue, and as we are in lockdown with plenty of time at home, what the heck.

Rainbow belongs to a long line of Alison Christie/Phil Townsend pairings for emotional stories to warm your heart or bring tears to your eyes. It also shares many roots with other Jinty stories, notably “Song of the Fir Tree” and “For Peter’s Sake!”, both of which are lengthy stories where the protagonists set out on quests with fugitive elements attached. Like Rainbow, Fir Tree is set in the aftermath of WW2 where a brother and sister (Solveig and Per Amundsen) are also fugitives, from a Nazi out to kill them. In addition to outwitting his numerous attempts to kill them, they have to contend with other dangers and obstacles, just like the Peters children. They have a more clearly defined goal than the Peters children: make it home to Norway. As in Rainbow, we have an elder sister who is the pillar of strength and a younger brother who is less strong. In both stories, the children are not only sustained by a title; the title of the song is the title of the story as well. It could be that Alison Christie wrote Fir Tree too. We have no confirmation of this, but it would not be surprising.

The journey in “For Peter’s Sake!”, also written by Alison Christie, is the reversal of Rainbow: Corrie Lomax is making her journey with Old Peg the pram all the way from Scotland to London while the Peters children are doing the exact opposite. She is on a mission of mercy for her baby brother with Old Peg, but it turns into a fugitive story with the police and then social welfare on her tail. As with the Peters children, she has to make an escape from a horrible children’s home en route. She also gets weakened by pneumonia, just as Max does. Like the Peters and Amundsen children, Corrie meets more helpful people than not. In fact, we could almost swear that a number of these people have guessed these children are runaways but are turning a blind eye to it.

The endings of the two stories share similarities in that the children make it to the end of their journey, only to find everything seems to end in a big let-down because the initial outcome did not meet their expectations (Rainbow’s End being a home for olds, not children, and Old Peg not curing Peter). However, the twist is that it does bring about what they wanted in the end, just not in the way they expected.

The story takes time out to comment on the hardship and knock-on effects of WW2, even though peace has come. Food rationing continues, food shortages e.g. a sign saying “Sorry no spam”, and the war posters saying things like “Plan your meals to avoid waste” and “Careless talk costs lives” remain in place. Buying sweets on rations is a real treat. Make-do-and-mend is still the rule e.g. Mum making best dresses out of old curtains. Mum feels the change in women’s lot when peace comes; during the war she worked in a munitions factory, but afterwards, she struggles to find a job because preference is given to returned servicemen and women. Eventually she finds a part-time cleaning job at a theatre, where the fateful Wizard of Oz evening unfolds. Bombed-out planes and buildings are still visible on the landscape. So are old air-raid shelters, one with “We won the war” scrawled on it. We also see the mental effects it has had on some people. For example, they meet a kind lady who unfortunately has a screw loose; she thinks Dorrie and Max are her own evacuee children and a scarecrow in her husband’s old army uniform really is him. Post-wartime rebuilding is also evident; for example, we see a “Prefabs Homes for the Homeless” to help meet the housing shortages. And the Hans storyline is a clear message about confronting the demons of WW2 and not letting old hatreds consume you.

Max is the weaker of the journeying pair because he is younger and less mature, but he does not have a weak constitution like his counterpart in Fir Tree. Until his bout with pneumonia he remains a healthy kid. And he does have his bright moments, particularly when he wants to cheer Dorrie up. Some of them are more thought out than others, such as buying flowers in honour of Dad. But as he is a very young, spirited boy, more often he makes ill-judged decisions, one of which leads to him developing pneumonia. He is also more prone to being emotional and losing his temper; for example, when he meets Hans.

Jinty produced a number of journey/quest/fugitive stories, such as “The Darkening Journey” and the aforementioned “Song of the Fir Tree” and “For Peter’s Sake!”. They all ran for a while, a testament to how popular they were. But “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is by far the longest. It was so long that it holds the record for second longest serial in Jinty’s history. This shows how popular it was, and there are so many elements to make it popular: the backdrop of WW2; the fugitive elements; the Wizard of Oz theme, which has always been popular; the adventures and dangers; and above all, the emotional elements to tug your heart and make you really feel for these children.

Another thing to make this story popular is that nobody knows what to expect at the journey’s end, not even the children. All they know and believe is, they will find happiness. Okay, happiness, but in what way? What form will it take? This is a suspenseful mystery element, and we are holding our breath to see just how it all turns out at rainbow’s end. This sets it apart from the other journey stories Jinty has run, where everyone expects the outcome that the protagonist expects. But not in this case. Neither we nor the children know just what to expect at the end of the story, which keeps us in suspense all the way. Also keeping us in suspense is the nagging doubt as to whether the children’s home they expect really is their key to happiness; after all, the other children’s homes they encountered were bad experiences, so would they be all that happy with another? We are so glad it ended in a happy adoption with new parents instead.

Story Theme: Journey Story or Quest

The Journey Story or Quest was a popular story theme at certain points in Jinty and in other titles. Indeed, at some points in 1976, it would have been possible to be reading an issue of Jinty which included three or even arguably four journey stories in the same week’s comic (see 24 April 1976 for an example). It’s a story framework which allows the creators to vary the setting and characters as much as they like, and to experiment with a range of local touches if desired (Scottish kilts, Welsh mountains, or European stereotypes could be brought in depending on the story). Within a Quest theme the dramatic tension is kept up, too – the protagonist is always thinking of the thing that keeps them on the journey – the danger they are avoiding or the goal they are trying to reach.

The journey story is of course focused around a lengthy journey, but it is also something of a quest, as the protagonist has someone she needs to find or something she needs to do before she can stop journeying. She does not just head out for the fun of it or to see the sights; there is some motivating reason for her to keep moving. Apart from the journey element, the other themes of the story can be fairly varied: there are journey stories in Jinty which are rooted in science fiction, humour, love of aninals, and more.

Core examples

Song of the Fir Tree” (1975-76). This story has siblings Solveig and Per traveling across Europe after they are released from the concentration camp they were held in during WWII. They travel from Germany to Norway under their own steam, constantly having to keep one step ahead of their enemy Grendelsen (though at the same time, unknown to them, their father is chasing after them also).

This was the first journey story printed in Jinty. Clear precursors outside of British girls comics are “I Am David” and “The Silver Sword”, both of which feature long journeys and have child protagonists dealing with the aftermath of WWII.

Fran of the Floods” (1976). After her home town is overwhelmed in flooding, Fran Scott travels the length of an apocalyptic Britain to see if her sister is alive and well in Scotland. This popular and well-remembered journey story is one of survival against the odds and courage in the face of barbaric behaviour on the part of other survivors.

Bound for Botany Bay” (1976). Betsy Tanner is transported to Australia; in addition to the lengthy sea journey, once she gets to Botany Bay she runs off and travels across dangerous countryside, eventually finding her father who was sentenced to transportation earlier on.

For Peter’s Sake!” (1976). Set in the 1930s, Carrie Lomax has a brother who is seriously ill. Her grandmother’s pram has rocked many babies back to good health in a seemingly miraculous way and she hopes that it will do the same for little Peter. However, Carrie and the pram are in Scotland and the rest of her family is in London, and she needs to push the pram all the way back to him on foot.

The Darkening Journey” (1977). Thumper has been separated from his owner Julie, who is moving house with her family, across Britain to the west country. To add to the pathos, both of them are going slowly blind: Julie because she needs an operation to cure her, and Thumper because of an accident at the time they were separated. Together with his friend Beaky, a clever talking rook, he travels towards the setting sun to see if he can be reunited with his beloved owner.

Race For A Fortune” (1977-78). This is a humourous take on the journey story: Katie McNabb must race her snobby cousins in a journey to inherit her skinflint great-uncle Ebeneezer’s money. The one who reaches Ebeneezer’s home village of Yuckiemuckle first, starting out from the south of England with no money to help them, will win the race and the terms of the will. Katie and her cousins battle it out, each overtaking the other at various points on their travels.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow” (1978-79). This is the longest, most epic of all the journey stories in Jinty (indeed so long is it, at 36 episodes, that to date I have quailed before the mighty task of writing a story post for it!). Dorothy and Max are an orphaned brother-sister pair who run away from the state care they are put into when their mother is killed. Inspired by the Wizard of Oz song, they travel from the south of England all the way to Scotland, hoping to find happiness at a care home called Rainbow’s End.

Updated to add: a post on this story has now been added.

Edge cases and uncertainties

The core stories listed above all feature epic, dangerous, and long journeys as a central aspect of the story. There are other stories in Jinty which feature travelling on the part of the protagonists, but without it being such a central part of the plot.

Then There Were 3…” (1976). This is more of a mystery story: ten girls hire a narrowboat and travel on the water for some time, but the plot primarily focuses on the mystery of what is behind the occurrences that spook the girls. Is it something supernatural in origin, or is it down to a purely human villainy?

“The Big Cat” (1976-77) When her grandmother dies and she is evicted from the gypsy camp she lives in, Ruth travels with the big cat Ayesha that the story is named after. We do not currently have a story post about this to confirm if this is more of a journey story, or a fugitive story where the protagonist runs away and spends time in hiding rather than in travelling towards a clear goal.

Not to be confused with…

There are plenty of stories that include an element of journeying or travelling, such as those ones where the main character runs away: for instance Jinty‘s first issue includes the story “A Dream for Yvonne“, where Yvonne runs away from the circus to become a ballerina. She does not travel throughout the story unceasingly until she reaches her goal, though: she runs away multiple times, loses her memory, is threatened by jealous rivals, and is eventually accepted by both her family and the ballet school. The journeying is not the main point of the story, but rather her challenge lies in how to be accepted by family and friends.

Likewise in many stories there is a dramatic finale where the protagonist runs away either to elicit sympathy or to enact some specific deed: Gail in “Gail’s Indian Necklace” and Lee in “Daddy’s Darling” are two such examples from Jinty‘s early days. I am not counting these either, as the main focus of the story is again not on the journey itself, which is pretty limited in the span of story time that it takes up.

Fugitive stories may overlap considerably with the journey story, but again the key question in my mind is whether the fugitive keeps running, or mostly hides away somewhere. “Always Together…” (1974-75) has an orphaned family (well, almost – read the story summary for more detail) who run away from the welfare state mechanisms which are threatening to split them up. They do not keep running continuously, but instead camp out in a few locations and fend for themselves throughout the bulk of the story.

There are a few stories with castaways (“Desert Island Daisy“, “Girl The World Forgot“): if you are going to be cast away on a desert island you can hardly avoid having travelled, somewhere along the lines! But the focus is then on the predicament of the main character, not on a prolonged journey. The same goes for “Alice In A Strange Land” which has a transatlantic plane journey at beginning and end of the story, and a dramatic crash landing in an early episode, but which does not focus on those elements in the core plot.

Elsewhere…

Journey-themed stories were of course not confined to the pages of Jinty, though the April 1976 spike in popularity of these stories is perhaps only seen in this title. The following stories are not meant to be a complete list of journey stories, but just to give a flavour of the prevalence and the variety of them across both IPC and DC Thomson. (Many thanks to Mistyfan for providing scans of the below and other stories, and also to Lorrbot and the Girls Comics of Yesterday site, which I checked for mention of journey stories.)

  • Glen, A Dog on a Lonely Quest (Tammy, 1971)
  • Janet and her Travellin’ Javelin (Debbie, 1974)
  • Towne in the Country (Tammy, 1976-77)
  • The Ride-Away Randalls (Debbie, 1978)
  • The Wandering Starrs (Bunty, 1978-79)
  • One Girl and Her Dog (Tammy, 1978-79)
  • Jumbo and Jet (Tracy, 1981)
  • Jet’s Incredible Journey (Suzy, 1986)

Other thoughts

This post is already rather long, but I have more thoughts about the theme. Another post will follow, discussing aspects of how journey stories actually worked in more detail, looking at some of the stories mentioned above.

Daddy’s Darling (1975)

Sample images

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Published: 8 March 1975 – 16 August 1975

Episodes: 24

Artist: Phil Townsend

Writer: Alison Christie

Translations/reprints: None known

Plot

Lee Simons is the daughter of a wealthy businessman, though not all is smooth sailing in their lives: her elder brother Peter was knocked over and killed while riding his bike and a year later, Lee’s mother dies of an illness that presumably she was not strong enough to fight off due to sadness. Lee and her father only have each other now – well, actually, Mr Simons has got the munitions factory and the large house too, not that Lee is all that bothered about those things. She would rather make her own life and choose her own friends – at least, this is the case by the time she is thirteen and has had five years of stifling over-protectiveness to cope with.

At the beginning of the story, though, the war gives her unexpected hope. First her governess resigns in order to join the land army, meaning that Lee has to go to the local village school; and then she pulls a fast one by volunteering to host an evacuee (something that her father was very against). She gets more than she bargained for – evacuee Maggie Hope is billeted on them but so is Maggie’s little brother, Joe – the family he had been going to were unable to take him after all. Lee is over the moon to have friends staying, but her father keeps them apart at every opportunity. He sends Lee to school in a chauffeur-driven car and makes Maggie and Joe walk behind even when it is raining; the other school kids taunt and despise Lee for that, even though Maggie sticks up for her. Mr Simons is susceptible to public opinion though, and when he eventually realizes it will look bad for him to keep doing that, he sends Maggie and Joe to school by car as well – but a different one, so that Lee is still kept away from the two ‘guttersnipes’ as he thinks of them.

And so the tussle goes – Lee intervenes with her father to protect and help the two Hope kids, Mr Simons protects and coddles his daughter but in a narrow, stifling way that keeps her isolated from other experiences and emotions, and Maggie and Joe bring more and more excitement into Lee’s life, willy-nilly. Even sending a food parcel to Maggie’s mum in London is a struggle, and it only happens because Mr Simons doesn’t want to look bad in front of others when a newspaper reporter sees Lee trying to post it.

Some fights are won by the kids and some by the father, at least initially. Allsorts, Maggie and Joe’s dog, is sent from London and the kids hide it in the air-raid shelter but of course it is not long before it is found – luckily before he is sent back, he saves Lee from a falling brick wall and so Mr Simons agrees to let the dog stay. Maggie and Lee both write an essay in class about their mothers – Maggie’s is chosen for a class prize because it is so emotionally written. The prize is a tour of a local factory – specifically, Mr Simons’ factory – and he ignores Maggie and only talks to Lee, as if she had won the prize herself. But the factory workers chat to Maggie and take to her, even choosing her as their social club queen.

They have a whip-round too, and Maggie wants to spend the resulting windfall on getting Joe a train set – but with the war on, there is none to be had in the shops for any money. Finally, a moment for Mr Simons to show a different side – out of the blue, he gives Joe the train set that Lee’s dead brother never got to use. Not that he’s softening towards them, mind you!

One incident causes her father to harden further rather than the reverse. Lee is tasked with opening an event – a sale of work – but on the way there , an RAF plane is downed and her clothes are all ruined, either by using them to aid the RAF pilot directly or because she is running across rough land and they are scratched and torn. Despite her heroism the result is that Lee is taken out from the village school and made to have lessons at home again – taken by a snobby maid who has been working at their house but who is a qualified teacher. Miss Johnson (former maid Daisy) is a nasty piece of work, but Lee is not left alone with her for long, because air raid damage conveniently closes the local school and so Maggie and Joe need to join the lessons, much to the disgruntlement of Miss Johnson and of Mr Simons. Young Joe proves to be quite a terror, teasing Miss Johnson with their dog, with a mouse, and with scurrilous caricatures, so quite soon Daisy heads off in a temper. Lee is delighted and although Mr Simons is cross, he is more upset by it being the anniversary of his wife’s death, leading him to snap even more nastily at the two evacuees.

It’s the anniversary of Joe’s father’s death too though, and they find him crying in the village graveyard. Maybe Mr Simons is softening after all – he puts his arm around Joe and even gives some money for the kids to go to the cinema – but it is only temporary and he very quickly turns up at the cinema and separates the two groups so that he has Lee all to himself. Nor will he invite Ma Hope over to visit the two kids, despite Lee’s pleas – but new maid ‘Mrs Watkins’ turns out to be Mrs Hope under an assumed name, come to be with her children. Lee takes to her instantly but they have to make sure that Mr Simons doesn’t find out and send her packing. Of course it is not long before the inevitable happens (a comic set-piece has Ma Hope soaking her feet in a warm bowl in front of the fire when she thinks the master is out for the evening, only to be interrupted by Mr Simons and posh guest).

So Mrs Hope is back in London when further air raids hit the East End, and of course her children are distraught with fear for her. Mr Simons bows to public pressure and has his chauffeur drive them back to their old area to check, but doesn’t allow Lee to go along with them and is not particularly upset when the two run away from the chauffeur to go on looking for their Ma. Lee of course is the next to run away, to find her dear friends – and although it looks like their mother is dead, she vows to stay and look after them so that they are not alone. Fat chance that Daddy will let her alone though: he drags her out and gives the Hopes the ultimatum that they can come to the hotel that the Simons will be at for the subsequent 24 hours, or they can stay and be left to their own devices.

It wouldn’t be a girls’ picture-story without a dramatic ending, of course – so as soon as that ultimatum delivered, Lee finds herself looking with horror at the house that the Hopes are in, as it burns down! Lee runs into the burning building and of course is immediately struck down – while she struggles for her life, Mr Simons has time to realize what a caring and unselfish child he has raised despite himself. And when she comes round, a week later, her new room mate turns out to be Mrs Hope, who is not dead – a wall fell on her and she was injured but not killed by the air raid that Maggie and Joe heard about. In turn, Mrs Hope hears about Maggie and Joe’s deaths in the penultimate episode. The final episode, however, has all being well – Lee and Mrs Hope are both discharged from hospital, Mr Simons continues with his change of heart and invites Mrs Hope to stay with them in the country, and although she says no (most vehemently) once Maggie and Joe are found, safe and sound after all, the grand house is turned in to a Convalescent Home with Mrs Hope as the House Mother. It is no longer only Lee who is Daddy’s Darling, but a wider group including Joe and Maggie and the other kids who will come to escape the war.

Thoughts

This is a long-running serial – not quite one of Jinty‘s longest (see more discussion on this post about story length) but nearly half a year’s worth of story. I don’t remember reading it when it first came out as I was a bit too young, but it must have been a successful product of the Alison Christie – Phil Townsend creative team to have run to that length. Some elements are a little repetitive, as is the danger with something of this length – Daddy’s single-minded attention to only his daughter’s comfort changes only towards the end of the serial and there are perhaps a little too many cases where Lee mourns his lack of caring towards others in similar wording to the earlier examples. But of course this is something that is more obvious on a re-read after the fact than at the time of original publication.

There were only relatively few stories in Jinty that feature the Second World War: “Daddy’s Darling”, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, and “Song of the Fir Tree“. (The first two are known to be written by Alison Christie and drawn by Phil Townsend, so of course it raises questions whether “Song of the Fir Tree” might also be, but it was not listed as such by Alison Christie in her earlier interview.) It feels to me as if in the case of this story it is more of a backdrop than a theme – the other two stories are about war, or about things that wouldn’t have happened without the war, whereas this story is really about a stifling over-protective parent. So this makes it more similar to another Christie story, “The Four-Footed Friends“.

In “The Four-Footed Friends”, the protagonist struggles with her stifling mother, who lost a child to illness and wraps her daughter in cotton-wool as a result; in “Daddy’s Darling” it is the father who is the antagonist that the daughter has to struggle against. This feels unusual: I know of a similar story, Tammy’s “My Father – My Enemy!”, where the socially-conscious daughter saves the workers at the mine owed by her Victorian father (thanks to Mistyfan, in the comments, for supplying further details) but not many others where the father is the blocker. “Dracula’s Daughter” is the obvious exception to that, but it is generally mothers or other women / girls who are the villains and antagonists in girls’ stories. There are a couple of examples of mystery stories where the villain is eventually revealed to be the father (photo-story “Slaves of the Nightmare Factory” is one such) or where a husband and wife team are equally to blame, but other than that, the antagonists are more typically headmistresses, female teachers, bully girls, mothers / step-mothers, grandmothers, aunts.

Mr Simons is not particularly evil but he is spectacularly clueless throughout. He does soften towards the two evacuees before the end, but his change of heart is depicted as somewhat out of the blue as it only really comes to pass in the last couple of episodes. In other ways the story develops quite nicely over its length: Maggie Hope is drawn as scrawny and plain to start with, and she becomes much more well-favoured by the end. Is that supposed to be as a result of better feeding than she’d get in the East End of London, or because Phil Townsend forgets to draw her quite as plain as at the start? Either way it works pretty well and matches the growing friendship of the two girls.

Jinty 30 December 1978

Jinty cover 30 December 1978

  • The Girl Who Never Was (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • “Wally” Glad You’re a Winner? (limerick competition results)
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • No Cheers for Cherry (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Sea Sister (Peter Wilkes)
  • She Shall Have Music (artist Ron Smith)
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Marked “Personal” – the file on Peter Dowell
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty (cartoon)
  • The Human Zoo (artist Guy Peeters)
  • D.I.Y. Decorations!

As the cover and letter page state, Jinty has returned after a 3-week absence due to one of those strike actions that always bedevilled IPC. The strikes contributed to the downfall of several IPC titles, including Tammy in 1984.

Magic is still causing problems for “The Girl Who Never Was”, not least of which is because she has a limited number of them to use. This problem leads to her getting grounded – magically – and she has a vital swimming contest to go to.

Sue should really watch her words when she asks for something from Henrietta. She has a job in a sweet job but asks Henrietta for a spell to prevent her from touching them so she is not tempted to eat them while selling them. But as Sue soon discovers, the word is “touch”.

The boot camp children’s home gets flooded while Dorothy and Max are shut up alone in the place. This turns out to be a blessing in disguise because it enables them to float away to freedom on an airbed, and the flooding will be a richly deserved comeuppance for that horrible drill sergeant matron upon her return. It might even be the end of the institution, thank goodness. But fresh trouble just has to be around the corner. Dorothy hurts her ankle, so their journey to rainbow’s end is put on hold while she rests it – in the wreckage of a German fighter.

Flooding is also putting an end to the slavery the aliens have put the humans under. And it’s all because the aliens are so terrified of water that they have never developed the skills to handle it. They can’t swim, and they have no water drainage systems, no watercraft, and no methods for coping with flooding – all of which humans have developed because they clearly evolved differently from the aliens. So the humans are free – for the moment.

In “Fran’ll Fix It!”, Fran is trying her hand at being a drill sergeant with the army of schoolgirls she has raised to protect a racehorse. However, the school gardener soon shows Fran how army drill should be done; he used to be a sergeant major.

Cherry finally gets her big break in stardom with her uncle, which gives her a break from the slaving her relatives have her do without her even realising. Later, Cherry sees another opportunity for an even bigger break. But cousin Michelle’s jealous and she wants a piece of the action.

Helen calls for a storm to bring down the cottage so the Ullapond stone can be returned home. But it fails to do so, and her secret is in danger too. If she is found out, she can never return home.

Lisa still can’t forget her piano. She finds it at an auction and gets thrown out when she conducts her usual naff behaviour to get it back. When Lisa discovers its new owner – the Mayor’s spoiled daughter – she resorts to breaking and entering to play it. Then the window slams shut on her precious hands. Will they become so damaged she can no longer play any piano?

Jinty 25 November 1978

Jinty cover 25 November 1978

  • The Girl Who Never Was (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • “Wally” Glad You’re a Winner? (limerick competition results)
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • No Cheers for Cherry (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Friendship Formulas (feature)
  • The Gift of Christmas Present Making! (feature)
  • She Shall Have Music (artist Ron Smith)
  • Sea Sister (Peter Wilkes)
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The Human Zoo (artist Guy Peeters)

This week’s episode of The Human Zoo was deleted from the Tammy & Jinty reprint except for the last panel. What got lost in the reprint? Shona and Likuda meet up with Tamsha’s new action group and the evidence they have collected of their people’s cruelty to animals, including humans. They remove Shona’s obedience collar (which looks like it has disappeared without explanation in the reprint because it has not got this bit), and Tamsha and her action group help Shona and Likuda reach the laboratory to find Likuda’s father and Shona’s lost sister.

Meanwhile, in the magic world, Tina’s still having problems getting to grips with magic. A further handicap is that she can only do one type of spell once. And her alt-parents have now received a letter from school that she isn’t doing too well magic wise. It must be a real affront for a girl who’s used to being top girl to get a letter about, in effect, poor schoolwork.

Henrietta is not keen on window-shopping. Her spells to get out of it end up with the surprise result of Sue getting extra pocket money, which she uses to take Henrietta on some real shopping.

The saga of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” continues. One of these days we will get onto this story, which is second only to “Merry at Misery House” for longevity. In this week’s episode our runaways end up at a children’s home that is definitely not the end of the rainbow. Wicked Witch of the West more like. The matron is a harsh ex-army officer who runs the place like a drill camp and makes poor Max run laps while carrying a heavy pack on his back. She doesn’t listen to Dorothy’s protests that Max is still weak from pneumonia. Now he’s on the verge of collapse.

Cherry’s audition is a disaster and even her uncle, who has been taking advantage of her without her realising, is disappointed for her. Then Cherry bumps into some old friends from home. Will they help free her from her sneaky relatives?

Things are looking up for Lisa’s father because his new job’s doing well. But not for Lisa, whose difficult attitude has made things so difficult for her at school that she is being bullied.

“Sea Sister” finds the lost stone from Ullapond, but can’t shift it because it is cemented into the Bush house. And Jane is finding there are odd things about this visitor of hers – such as her objecting strongly to Jane eating fish and collecting shells from the very depths of the ocean.

Fran is now in charge of minding a racehorse (his owner is the nephew of the headmistress). Among other things, she has to exercise him. And she’s dressed up like Dick Turpin in order to do it because she can’t find anything else! Didn’t this nephew have the sense to provide her with riding gear? No, from what we’ve seen of him, he doesn’t seem to have much sense.

Hip hip hooray! Jinty (would have been) 43 today!

This is a post covering more than one celebration. It is the 600th post on this blog, posted on the 11th May, the day that Jinty was first published 43 years ago. And while we normally don’t make much of the anniversary of the blog itself, it has been a little over three years since it first started, back on 15 April 2014.

Jinty likewise also didn’t make much of its anniversaries. There is a celebration cover for its 200th issue but that mostly consists of an Easter picture and some text stating that it is a celebration issue. And while the cover of its 5th anniversary, above, is at least specially-drawn for the occasion, there is nothing much more inside to remind readers of the exciting times from the previous years. We can do more than that, in this blog post!

Well of course on this blog you can go back and read posts on individual issues, either in the order in which they were originally posted or (rather more conveniently) as an index, in date order. This also shows you how far we’ve got through the list of all 383 issues of Jinty ever published. For much of the run, we have now got long unbroken streaks of consecutive issues. There are gaps here and there of two or three issues together where we still have to fill in issues not-yet-blogged, but these are much fewer than used to be the case. (To give you context of the publishing of the time, there is also a much shorter list of issues of other titles which we have written about. It’s an area we focus on less, of course, but we will continue to add to nevertheless.)

We are still plugging gaps in the list of stories, too, but there again the gaps are narrowing. If you look at the list of Stories by Publication Date you can easily see which stories are yet to be posted about. Most of the key stories have already been covered, but there are still some crackers to come. Mistyfan is promising us “Tears of a Clown”, and on my own list I need to get to “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, the popular and extremely long wartime tear-jerker from Alison Christie and Phil Townsend.

In terms of other sorts of blog achievements, of course 600 posts is itself a really good number to have got to, in as little as three years. I would have been happy to manage about one post a week, but thanks to Mistyfan’s energy and our combined bright ideas on new things to tackle over that time, we have managed three or four times that rate. (I must give due credit to Mistyfan, who writes about one and half as many posts as I do!) The readers of this blog will be glad to know that even though we are closing the gaps on individual issues to write about, we still have many creators to cover as well as the story gaps mentioned. And although issues of other titles have featured previously as context for Jinty‘s family tree, I can see that we might need to cover more of these so as to continue to trace the path of different creators, story types, and themes throughout the years.

Jinty never had a chance to continue even as far as its 8th birthday issue, alas. I wonder what it would have been like if it had lasted longer? There would certainly have been a lot more great stories and excellent art to read and enjoy, but would it have stayed as inventive and energetic as 2000AD has done in its 40th year? Bunty lasted from 1958 to 2001 and had strong stories even to the end, but I think it would be hard to class the latter-day content of the title as ranking with its heyday. A longer-lasting Jinty would have had to reinvent itself more widely: I’m not sure how that would be possible in the constraints of the British comics market, especially with comics marked out as being more and more ‘for boys’. Esther, the Spanish “Patty’s World”, managed it, with stories being written specifically for the Spanish market and grown-up readers still seeking out the title of their childhood and sharing it with the next generation. Perhaps not a coincidence that it succeeded so well: Esther was always down-to-earth and realistic, compared to stories about boarding schools or ballet, so it stood more of a chance to tap into the mainstream urge for everyday stories that lies behind the popularity of soap operas. Not that soaps are the only way to produce popular entertainment, of course: Jinty and the like could perhaps have tapped into the science fiction or fantastical elements that worked so well in their pages. For sure, something  different would have been needed. Wouldn’t it have been great to have seen the publishers give it a go!

Jinty 15 July 1978

jinty-15-july-1978

  • Dance into Darkness (unknown Concrete Surfer artist)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thorton-Jones)
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • Knight and Day
  • The Zodiac Prince – final episode (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Clancy on Trial (artist Ron Lumsden)
  • The Lowdown on Showaddywaddy – feature
  • Slave of the Swan (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Sand in Your Shoes? – Feature
  • Cathy’s Casebook (artist Terry Aspin)

“Dance into Darkness” featured on a lot of Jinty covers and this week’s one is no exception. This week Della can’t stop dancing when she hears disco music, and it’s kept her out so late that her parents have called the police.

“The Zodiac Prince” ends his run this week. He’s down to his last astral gift, and this time he really must choose wisely in terms of recipient and the type of gift. Well, he can’t think of anyone more deserving than Shrimp, and we certainly agree. Talk about a parting gift! Next week sees the return of Phil Gascoine, whose artwork has been uncharacteristically missing from Jinty for weeks, as he starts on “The Changeling”.

Dorrie and Max are on the run as they make their way to the home in Scotland that they believe will give them happiness. This week they sneak a lift aboard a lorry to get out of London.

Pat does some running away too – away from her mother’s abusive household and back to the foster family who looked after her properly. However, Mum sends the police to get her back. Will they do so or will they listen to Pat’s side of things?

The kids at Berkeley Comprehensive are softening towards Clancy and she begins to make friends with them. But grandfather tells Clancy she must replace the bicycle Sandra sold to get the tandem, which means job-hunting for the girl who’s already got so much on her plate with trying to walk again.

Cathy’s father agrees to run some medical tests on Denis to see if there is a medical cause for his slowness. Finally, someone is listening to Cathy’s insistence that Denis is not as daft as everyone assumes. Meanwhile, the old trouble with Diane’s horse resurfaces as he goes out of control at the races.

The Swan well and truly shows just how evil she has become in the name of revenge against Katrina’s mother. She tricks Katrina into going into a rusty old tub that she will drown in once the tide rises. But it’s not just to protect herself from the police – the murder she is plotting is more revenge against Katrina’s mother, and she wants to play it out as slowly as possible to savour every minute of it. Katrina does not wake up to the danger she is in until the tide does rise…but is it too late?

Sue tells Henrietta that standing on her head is good therapy and sets Henrietta upside-down to prove her point. Naturally, that’s an open invitation for Henrietta mischief.

Jinty 1 July 1978

jinty-1-july-1978

  • Dance into Darkness (unknown Concrete Surfer artist)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thorton-Jones)
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Andy Gibb Talks to You – Feature
  • Knight and Day
  • The Zodiac Prince (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • Clancy on Trial (artist Ron Lumsden)
  • Slave of the Swan (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Cathy’s Casebook (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Not to be Sniffed At! Ways with Hankies – Feature

 

Whatever is happening to Della gets weirder, and she is surprised to find some of it is positive. She can see much better in the dark, and night itself seems much more comfortable. Oddly, cats are following her around at night.

Sue takes Henrietta on a London trip. But Henrietta doesn’t quite understand that the name Piccadilly Circus does not mean a three-ring circus. Or that waxworks are not meant to be that lifelike. Or that changing the guard does not mean changing his nappies! Oh, dear…

Dorrie and Max have been put in separate homes, but at least Dorrie can visit Max and they are still looking for the end of the rainbow. Max is taking that bit about the end of the rainbow a bit literally, though.

Janet is finding out the pitfalls of the paper round she is now lumbered with instead of Pat. Then the sneaky girl steals the swimsuit that was meant to be a present for Pat from her foster parents.

The Zodiac Prince has got real trouble this time – his chain has snapped and he’s lost his medallion! The Prince and Shrimp find a little girl has it, and they have to get it back quick.

“The Slave of the Swan” is really disturbed to find that new girl Rita Hayes is watching her and asking probing questions about her. And someone is definitely messing around with that Swan costume, which is supposed to be hidden away in Miss Kachinsky’s secret room. Katrina finds somebody wearing the costume and trying to recreate “The Swan” ballet.

In “Cathy’s Casebook” Diane, who was supposed to have a limp, is suddenly running. She had been faking because her father is pushing her into riding in the races, but she’s too frightened of her horse to do so. And then Denis runs away from home. Cathy hits on a way to tackle both problems at once.

Clancy enrols herself at Berkeley Comprehensive, the school her grandfather looks down upon (with some justification, as it is riddled with vandalism). The kids there don’t think much of grandfather either. They say he’s a skinflint and a snob who never does anything for anybody. So when they find out he is Clancy’s grandfather, they look set to give her a bad time.

 

Jinty 24 June 1978

jinty-cover-24-june-1978

  • Dance into Darkness (unknown Concrete Surfer artist)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thorton-Jones)
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • Knight and Day
  • The Zodiac Prince (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Clancy on Trial (artist Ron Lumsden)
  • Talking Personally to Travolta… (feature)
  • Slave of the Swan (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Cathy’s Casebook (artist Terry Aspin)

Weird things are happening to Della that she can’t explain. She has suddenly woken up with all light blinding her and she has to wear dark glasses, and she can’t stop dancing when she hears disco music. People think she’s putting it on, but Della realises it must have something to do with that girl in the disco. And it has to be, because the girl is waiting for her outside the school gates.

Sue tries out the trumpet, much to Henrietta’s consternation. However, Henrietta’s spells to stop Sue playing are rebounding a bit on her. She gets scratched by a terrified cat and then gets mud splattered all over her.

In “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” Dorrie and Max are liberated from the cruel Mrs Soper when she dumps them back on the welfare office. But now Dorrie and Max are being split up because the children’s home they are being sent to segregates the sexes. If it’s not one thing it’s something else…

One of the girls at school begins to realise how badly Janet is treating Pat though the other girls still won’t have anything to do with Pat because Janet poisoned them against her. Then the tables get turned on Janet when she’s lumbered with the paper round Mum lumbered Pat with before!

The Zodiac Prince’s in trouble again because he is still not thinking before he hands out his astral gifts. Dad gives him a real telling off over it, but says he still has to stay put until he finishes the job set for him.

“The Slave of the Swan” saves her only friend Sarah from being badly burned, but everyone thinks she caused it because of all the lies the Swan has spread about her being an arsonist. Now it’s all getting to Katrina so much that she sees police pursuing her everywhere – including a strange woman who has turned up at the school.

Cathy is still pursuing the cases of Denis, whom she does not believe is as dim as everyone thinks, and Diane, who is still limping although her X-ray says her leg is fine. Now both cases could come to a head when Denis walks into the path of a runaway horse.

Clancy’s still walking with sticks and is having trouble enrolling at a new school because of it. She won’t hear of a disabled school and St Catherine’s, the school cousin Sandra goes to, won’t take her because of her disability. So she decides it has to be the ill-reputed Berkeley Comprehensive or nothing. But grandfather is going to have a fit when he hears that!

Jinty 27 May 1978

jinty-cover-27-may-1978

  • Concrete Surfer (writer Pat Mills, artist unknown)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • Winning Birthday Girls! – Contest results
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Knight and Day
  • A-to-Z of Things to Do – part two
  • Clancy on Trial (artist Ron Lumsden)
  • Talking to the Star from “Robin’s Nest” – Feature
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • The Zodiac Prince (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Slave of the Swan (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Cathy’s Casebook (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Seahorse Sunspecs Case – feature

The panel from “Slave of the Swan” actually appeared in the story some weeks ago, which is a bit irregular. Usually Jinty used panels from the current episode of a story for a cover. The depiction of Katrina’s apron is reminiscent of a tutu, which is very clever and also fitting for the ballet theme. And in this week’s episode of “Slave of the Swan”, the Swan’s lies get even crueller. Now she’s got poor Katrina thinking she’s an arsonist and a murderer who burned down an orphanage in revenge and killed someone in the flames!

Last week “Concrete Surfer” was pushed off its usual slot of leading story, but it’s back there this week. Carol freely admits to Jean how she had played Jean for a fool. Belatedly, Jean wishes she had had a tape recorder on hand so she could prove it to everyone else. They all think Carol is a sweet girl and Jean bullies her. The skateboard contest gets underway and Jean is thinking up her own lyrics to the piece of music Carol has chosen: “Isn’t she sickening…? Isn’t she spiteful…? I never thought what a cat she could be…”

In part two of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” the war ends in victory for the Allies, but the Peters children have no heart for celebrating because their father was KIA. They cheer up when Mum gets complimentary tickets for them to see a “Wizard of Oz” production. This introduces the Wizard of Oz theme that will resonate throughout the rest of the serial.

In “Knight and Day”, Pat meets her stepsister Janet, who’s a very nasty piece of work and bullies Pat. At least she reveals the real reason why Mum reclaimed the daughter she had always neglected: it was so they could get a council flat. Well, well, well!

“Clancy on Trial” impresses her grandfather by standing up to him (the only one who does), especially when he expresses his long-standing disapproval of her mother’s marriage to a bus driver. Meanwhile, Sandra continues to help Clancy to learn to walk again.

Last week “The Zodiac Prince” and his gift of balance to Julie unwittingly made another circus performer jealous. Now she’s putting herself in danger trying to prove herself on the high wire. Fortunately Julie is able to come to the rescue and everything is sorted out. Fresh trouble isn’t far away though, and it comes when the Zodiac Prince sees a girl mistreating a donkey and decides it’s time for another astral gift. However, next week’s blurb informs us that he’s about to make a big mistake.

There are double emergencies in “Cathy’s Casebook” this week. Mr Shaw’s daughter gets injured after being thrown from her horse and loses her nerve, and a café owner collapses from a perforated ulcer.