Tag Archives: Sophie’s Secret Squeezy

José Casanovas

Catalan artist José Casanovas (1934 – 2009) was well-known and well-loved by lots of readers, appearing as he did in many British comics over a number of decades. His detailed, stylish, and above all fun art was distinctive and he was credited in various publications, so it is easy to pull together quite a long list of his work (though no doubt still incomplete). Many British readers think of him as a 2000AD artist – that is how I first came across his name myself – and therefore perhaps as an SF artist primarily. If you count up the stories he drew and the titles he appeared in, though, by far the majority of his work seems to be for the girls’ comics market.

The list below has been pulled together with much reference to the Catawiki database in order to fill out the non-Jinty stories, so many thanks to the contributors to that site. (I have included the numbers of episodes listed for each story as per Catawiki, to emphasize how prolific he was. I am fairly sure the records on that site are not complete but it gives a good impression of his work. Of course, please do send in further information if you have it!)

  • Tammy
    • Cinderella Spiteful (1971-72) – 20 episodes
    • Two-Faced Teesha (1973-74) – 10 episodes
    • Ella on Easy Street (1974) – 8 episodes
    • The Town Without Telly (1974) – 12 episodes
    • Wars of the Roses (1975-76) – 11 episodes
    • Babe at St Woods (1976-77) – 39 episodes (you can see some sample pages here)
    • Down To Earth Blairs (1977-78) – 25 episodes
    • Running Rosie Lee (1980) – 10 episodes
    • Tomorrow Town (1982) – 10 episodes
  • Sandie
    • The Nine Lives of Nat the Cat (1972-73) – 38 episodes
  • Princess Tina & Penelope
    • Have-A-Go Jo (1970) – 25 episodes
  • Jinty
  • Lindy
    • Sophie’s Secret Squeezy (1975) – 7 episodes
  • Penny
    • Pickle, Where Are You? (1979) – 10 episodes

Mistyfan has recently done a post about “Sue’s Daily Dozen” in which she made the point that Casanovas is known for science fiction. There is one science fiction story done by him in a girls’ comic, namely Tammy‘s “Tomorrow Town”, which I take the opportunity to reprint here as being a piece of art that would otherwise not be likely to get a showing on this Jinty-specific blog.

Tomorrow Town pg 1

click thru
click thru
click thru
click thru

Following Casanovas’ death in 2009, Steve Holland wrote an obituary Bear Alley post here, drawing also on the Spanish-language blog Tebeosfera’s post here. (Do follow this last link to see some lovely artwork from an adaptation of Pollyanna done for the local market.) There was also an interesting comment on 2000AD fan blog the Prog Slog about Casanovas’ work in the boys’ science fiction comics market. He drew well-liked characters Max Normal (some Max Normal art by Casanovas can be seen here) and Sam Slade Robo-Hunter (after Ian Gibson had stopped drawing this latter character). He also drew a number of one-off stories in 2000AD, and a story in Starlord, and people characterise him as a 2000AD artist therefore. The Prog Slog comment here clarifies that: “Casanovas early work for 2000AD, Starlord etc. was sporadic. First appearance was a ‘Future Shock’ in Prog 70 (24 June 1978) a 1.5 pager called ‘Many Hands’. “Good morning Sheldon, I love you” was his next, a six page future shock style one-off written by John Wagner in Starlord 11 (22 July 1978). He drew another one-off Wagner [story] in Starlord 16. There’s a gap then until Progs 148 & 149 (January 1980) where he does a 2-part Ro-Jaws Robo-Tale. He then draws the 11 page Mugger’s Mile by Alan Grant, the first ever Max Normal strip (“The Pinstripe Freak (He’s Dredd’s informer)”) in the first Judge Dredd annual (1981). He goes on to draw more Future Shocks in Prog 220, 241 and 245, another Max Normal in the 1982 JD annual, and again in JD 1983 annual. In the 1982 Sci-Fi Special he draws his first Dredd proper, a 10 pager by Wagner – The Tower of Babel. His first Dredd in the weekly is the excellent “Game Show Show” 2 parter in 278/279, August 1982, Wagner again. He did the second ever ‘Time Twister’ in Prog 295, a 4 pager called Ultimate Video. And that’s as far as my data goes for now, by Prog 300 he’d done 77.5 pages: 32.5 in the weeklies, 10 in specials, 23 in annuals and 12 in Starlord. According to ‘Barney’ online (http://www.2000ad.org) his last work was in Prog 822 (Feb 1993), Robo-Hunter”. The tally of his pages for 2000AD and the like must therefore surely be far outnumbered by the 90+ episodes of his run on Dora Dogsbody in Jinty alone!

Advertisements

Lindy # 2, 28 June 1975

Lindy cover

  • Pavement Patsy (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The Tin-Mine Ponies (artist Manuel Cuyàs)
  • Nina Nimble Fingers (artist Roy Newby)
  • Jane’s Jeannie
  • David Essex pinup (missing from my copy)
  • Sophie’s Secret Squeezy (artist José Casanovas)
  • The Last Green Valley
  • Penny Crayon
  • The House of Fear (artist Tom Hurst)
  • Hard Days for Hilda (artist Dudley Wynne; writer Terence Magee)
  • Pop Spot (feature)

Lindy was the first comic to merge with Jinty. But how did she start off originally? What was in her first lineup? I do not have the first issue, but I do have the second, which came with a bottle of perfume as its free gift. Lindy’s favourite perfume, apparently. I wonder what scent that was?

I suspect my copy is lacking a couple of pages (at the “Jane’s Jeannie” section), most likely because someone took out the David Essex pinup, so it is possible that the lineup I have listed here is not quite complete. If someone could clarify this with a complete copy, please leave a comment below.

New IPC titles of the 70’s started off with a Cinderella story and a  slave story in their first lineups, and Lindy is no exception. The Cinderella story is “Pavement Patsy”, where Patsy Logan puts up with her horrible aunt and uncle so she can stay together with her little sister Jenny. She is their drudge and obliged to go on on her uncle’s coal round. The aunt and uncle are as mean as Scrooge too; in this episode Patsy asks her aunt for money to buy a new pair of shoes for Jenny, but all the aunt will cough up for it is five pence for something at a jumble sale, which results in shoes that don’t fit properly. There is usually some hobby or passion that provides solace; in Patsy’s case it is pavement art, and words of praise from a tramp encourage her to believe that her art is going to be more than just a hobby. But you can be sure the horrible guardians are going to get in the way.

The slave story is “Nina Nimble Fingers” (reprinted in Jinty Holiday Special 1981). The slaving is set in a Victorian dress shop, where Nina Sinclair and her sickly younger sister Clare have ended up as apprentices after their mother’s death. We are into part two, and Madam Estelle, the owner of the shop, has now established to the Sinclair sisters just what a hard, cruel woman she is to work for. She even takes off money that Nina has earned for herself and badly needs in order to get medical treatment for her sister. But it also establishes the to-be-expected determination of the heroine not to give in to such cruelty and ultimately rise above it. Supernatural stories are part of the parcel as well, of course.  In this case they are “Sophie’s Secret Squeezy” and “Jane’s Jeannie”. Jeannie is the more lightweight one, played for humour. Jane makes friends with a genie called Jeannie. But instead of a bottle, Jeannie pops out of a tennis racquet! That sure makes a change. Sophie has been down on her luck until she acquires a squeezy bottle and now feels different about herself. Every time she makes bubbles, she sees visions in them that help her immensely. In this episode she is framed for stealing, but the squeezy bottle shows her who and why; it was a girl who was embittered because her mother will not allow her to join the hockey team. How will the squeezy help her to sort out the problem, and in a way that helps the girl? Presumably the story lasted until the squeezy bottle ran out.

A scary story is always popular, and so Lindy has “The House of Fear”. Harriet has gone to stay at her aunt’s and the only residents are the servants who are trying to scare her off with claims of hauntings. As if they need to fake ghosts – the butler looks like Frankenstein’s monster or Lurch from the Addams Family. And by the end of the episode, Harriet suspects they are holding her aunt prisoner in the cellar. But I wonder if Lindy is tipping her hand way too soon with this one – it’s only the second episode and already Harriet is convinced the servants are trying to scare her off. Shouldn’t the story be allowed to develop more before she begins to suspect them of that?

“Hard Days for Hilda” is a maidservant story, but set in the 1930s rather than the more usual Victorian times. Hilda Hobbs takes the lowest maidservant job at The Grand Hotel (makes a change from aristocratic residences like Molly Mills’ Stanton Hall) though she doesn’t let it get her down and remains chirpy. But in the second episode she finds her days getting harder when she finds the other maidservants are spiteful and play tricks to get her into trouble, and there is the typical bullying from senior staff. But there is always one servant who is friendly and Hilda finds him in this episode as well – Willie the Buttons Boy. I have found on UK Comics Wiki that it was written by Terence Magee, a stalwart at writing stories about tortured heroines at all sorts of cruel institutions ranging from schools to reformatories, including Jinty’s own “Merry at Misery House“.

In “The Last Green Valley”, Lindy seemed to anticipate Jinty in featuring environmental stories. The environmental issue in this case is Britain being plunged into an ice age, and our band of survivors are making their way to “the green valley”, an oasis that is supposed to have escaped the ice age.

Finally, there are “The Tin-Mine Ponies”, where the snobby Mrs Gore-Bradley threatens the rehoming of ponies at a pony trek centre because she wants to keep the countryside to herself. She is outsmarted in this episode but is still determined to get rid of “those ghastly ponies”, and it won’t be for lack of trying. Hilda and Patsy were the longest-running stories from the first Lindy lineup; Patsy finished in #18 and Hilda in #19. This indicates they were popular while they lasted, perhaps among the most popular.

In summary, it can be said that Lindy got off to a promising start, with Norman Worker at the editor’s helm. Lindy’s stories were filled with the ingredients (hardship, cruelty, humour, supernatural, friendship) that made the early Tammy and Jinty popular. There were even some surprising takes on established formulas, such as the genie who popped out of a tennis racquet. However, her lineup lacked humorous regular characters (a la Tansy of Jubilee Street or The Jinx from St Jonah’s); the only character in that area was the Penny Crayon cartoon, which made her the only Lindy character to carry on in the merger. She also lacked regular characters in general, a deficiency that is always means a girls’ comic fades fast once it goes into a merger, because it is the regulars and cartoon strips that carry on in a merger. So although Lindy’s first lineup showed potential, it exhibited deficiencies that would be telling once she merged with Jinty. Had she lasted longer, the deficiencies could have been addressed, more regular characters introduced, more serials that could still be well-remembered, and Lindy herself remembered more. Instead, she was short-lived (only 20 issues), even by the standards of short-lived girls’ comics, and is largely forgotten.