Tag Archives: Stairway to the Stars

Princess II, #8, 12 November 1983

Princess 8 cover

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

 

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

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

Tansy panels

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

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

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

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

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Princess II, #7, 5 November 1983

Princess 7 cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Princess II, #6, 29 October 1983

Princess 6 cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Princess II, #5, 22 October 1983

Princess 5 cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Princess II, #3, 8 October 1983

Princess 3 cover

Contents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Princess II, #2, 1 October 1983

Princess 2 cover

Contents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Princess II, Issue 1, 24 September 1983

Princess 1 cover

Contents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Princess (series 2) #4, 15 October 1983

Princess cover 1

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

Here we continue the theme of more context around Jinty’s family tree at IPC. As I do not have #1, I present #4, which is the earliest issue in my collection, to represent Princess. Updated to add: I now have Princess  #1, and its entry is here.

Princess (not to be confused with the 1960s Princess, later called Princess Tina) ran from 24 September 1983 to 31 March 1984, and then it merged into Tammy on 7 April 1984. It was riding on the popularity of Princess Diana, and included pinups of Diana and the story of Diana’s life. It lasted for 28 issues and, unusually for IPC girls’ titles, numbered its issues. Up until #18 it had a lot of colour pages and two photo stories, one in black-and-white and the other in colour. But it had fewer pages than Tammy, which was printed on cheaper newsprint than Princess. From #19 Princess dropped the photo stories and colour pages and switched to the same newsprint, format and number of pages as Tammy. This is similar to the pattern that Penny followed three years earlier before it merged into Jinty.

Princess also reprinted several serials from Tammy and Jinty: “Horse from the Sea”, “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” (completed in the merge with Tammy), “Rowena of the Doves” and “The Dream House”. These changes and reprints are signs that Princess was not doing well. Ironically, the reprints in Princess enabled some original Jinty artwork to survive the cavalier manner in which IPC handled original artwork.

Princess stories were not particularly memorable or well remembered, and some only lasted a few episodes. One, “The Incredible Shrinking Girl!”, looks like it is on its penultimate episode, and it is only #4.

Other Princess stories were a bit unconventional, such as the photo story “Mr Evans the Talking Rabbit”. Mr Evans has turned himself into a rabbit after messing around with a magic book. Unfortunately the change has not improved his disagreeable character and he is still the “miserable old so-and-so” that his wife does not miss one bit. Nonetheless, Jenny Andrews continues to help him find the book and change back – trouble is, the book has been sold and they need to track it down. This is the colour photo story, which makes it stand out more.

The black-and-white photo story, “Stairway to the Stars”, is a bit of a mix between a soap opera and a serial at a stage school. Right now, the school is now being threatened with closure, just because one mother (who unfortunately has influence with the council) thinks it is not doing anything for her daughter and would rather close the school down than have people think her daughter is a failure. She does not realise her daughter was doing badly on purpose because she wanted to be taken away.

“Their Darling Daughter” comes from the long line of stories where a spiteful schemer tries to get rid of a foster girl/cousin. In this case it is a housekeeper in an aristocratic household, who idolises the parents’ late daughter and does not want foster-girl Sylvie taking her place. Unusually for this type of serial the victim has an ally – her dog!

“Ring of Feathers” is the abusive guardian story, except that heroine Cheryl Gibson does not fully realise how cruel her Uncle John is. Her mother does, though – Uncle John makes her work like a slave for hardly any money and now he has started hitting her. Meanwhile, Cheryl is given a ring that gives her strange powers with birds. We eagerly wait to see how that is going to work against nasty Uncle John.

In “Miranda’s Magic Dragon”, Merlin’s granddaughter Miranda has travelled in time to 1983 to escape the evil sorcerer Mordac. There she makes friends, and also an enemy out of greedy Paula, who has stolen her magic pendant. This could get Paula into an awful lot of trouble with Mordac, who is after it too. But where’s the dragon? It’s the emblem on the magic pendant.

“Sadie-in-Waiting” is the resident cartoon strip and would carry on in the merger, replacing Tammy’s Joe Collins strip “The Crayzees”. As with Molly Mills, it is a maid vs. a devious butler, but played for weekly laughs.