Tag Archives: Terry Aspin

Jinty and Penny 4 October 1980

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

Stories in this issue:

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Girl the World Forgot (artist and writer Veronica Weir)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tears of a Clown (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • ‘A Call for Help’ – Gypsy Rose story (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Behind the Screen: Return of the Saint
  • Sue’s Daily Dozen (artist José Casanovas) – first episode
  • Winning Ways 27: Tennis – the Forehand Drive (writer Benita Brown)
  • Child of the Rain (artist Phil Townsend)

Pam’s friend Tracie is all of a tizzy – she’s terrified of her mum walking out on the family. The obvious question is, why would she do that to them? It’s a serious worry: her mum is increasingly fed up with her home life and actively threatens to leave them. Of course it’s causing Tracie no end of worries on a daily basis but it also means there is no way she wants to come on the class trip to France. Pam’s cheerful mother thinks it’ll never come to that point, but when Tracie gets home after school one day and finds that her mother has packed a bag and got on the 3 o’clock bus it seems like quite a different matter!

Shona is the “Girl the World Forgot”, trying to survive on a deserted Scottish island. Some seals give her a pleasant surprise and she forgets her worries in swimming with them. But when the night comes and she is alone in the croft she has found, she seems not to be alone after all…

Kathy is trying hard to prove herself as a runner to her classmates and her teachers, but bad luck and the bullying nature of the horrible Sandra Simkins mean everything is against her. Even the obstacle race is a shameful experience for her – so bad that she vows to run away. At least her speed in running will help here there!

The Gypsy Rose story is clearly drawn specially for Jinty as it’s by Terry Aspin throughout in a matching style. Kay’s little sister Jenny has an imaginary friend called Mary who rings her on the toy phone – but one night the toy phone really does ring and Mary pleads for help because the hospital she is in is burning down! It turns out to be a hospital for toys, very fittingly. Gypsy Rose introduces the story and rounds it off at the end, rather than being one of the characters in the story itself as she sometimes is – but her appearance outside the burned toy factory in the last two panels makes it clear that she inhabits the same world as the stories she tells, that is, they are really real as far as she is concerned.

In the first episode of “Sue’s Daily Dozen” Sue Baker is feeling left-out as the only newcomer to the village. In the house that her dad is busy doing up, she finds a mysterious set of items that help her to integrate into village life – an old cooking pot, a ‘Daily Dozen’ book, and a spoon. Suspiciously witchy-sounding? But the first recipe, of some little cakes, turn out smashingly – but they do seem to be causing people who eat them to act a little… oddly.

Jemma West learns yoga from her serendipitous guest but when the rain comes down again she still can’t control herself enough, and she loses a big chance.

Jinty 9 June 1979

Stories in this issue:

  • Alice in a Strange Land (artist Terry Aspin) – last episode
  • Rinty ‘N’ Jinty
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Nothing To Sing About (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie) – first episode
  • Dip into this! (recipe feature)
  • Daughter of Dreams – last episode
  • The Four-Footed Friends (artist Peter Wilkes, writer Alison Christie)
  • Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters) – first episode

This is a time when Jinty seems to be finishing some particularly good stories – “Alice In a Strange Land”, “Children of Edenford”. This issue sees the start of tear-jerker “Nothing to Sing About” – another heart-tugger created by the joint talents of Alison Christie and Phil Townsend – and of the amusing but fairly light-weight “Pandora’s Box”. Next week sees the first episodes of “Casey, Come Back!” – another tear-jerker, drawn by the unknown artist who drew “Merry at Misery House” – and “The Disappearing Dolphin”, a mystery story beautifully drawn by Trini Tinturé. All are good, but none quite match those immediate predecessors.

“Alice” ends with a four-page episode that takes Alice out from the crumbling rocks threatening to crush her, to a reunion with her friends and a reconciliation with her cousin Karen. “I’m proud to be your cousin, Alice! I hope you can forgive how badly I’ve treated you in the past and let me be your friend?” Karen’s parents still need to understand the changed relationship but eventually all is resolved. The tag line at the end tells us that “Alice has deserved her happy ending. Next week, meet ‘The Disappearing Dolphin’!” In fact, the subsequent cover mostly features that story but the lead spot at the front of the comic is taken by “Casey, Come Back!”.

“The Forbidden Garden” is picking up the pace: Laika is told that someone has reported her as being of superior intellect, which means she is saved from the Industrial Zone where the rest of her family will just rot away their lives. Her old friends can’t afford to stay friendly with her, because if Laika makes any complaint about them, they will be severely fined, even imprisoned! The only bright side is that she can get back to her garden and tend to her plants – but even they are a source of fear, because surely they are growing much too fast? There must be something strange about them!

“Nothing to Sing About” starts off with 12 year old Linette Davis following in the footsteps of her beloved, popular singer father. By the end of the first three-page episode, her father is dead, and Linette is cursing the fans who she blames for killing him, by crowding round him too much!

It is the last episode of “Daughter of Dreams”. In this four-pager, Sally realises she can be brave after all, when she has to act without thinking – and her imaginary friend Pauline has a hand in making everything come out right, too. We are promised another Pauline Starr story later, so it looks like this was intended to be a long-running character feature. In the end there were only two stories featuring this duo.

Laura and her mum have to go and visit the slums that Laura’s friend Josie used to live in – Laura thinks this will change her mum’s mind now that she has seen how badly folks need re-housing, but not a bit of it, of course. In fact Laura’s mum purposefully gets Josie’s dog Riley lost, leading him into danger with the dog catchers.

Finally, it is the first episode of “Pandora’s Box”. Pandora is stubborn and conceited, but in for a shock – it’s bad enough her aunt suddenly claiming to be be a witch and telling her that she has to follow the family tradition of learning the ‘wisdom of witchcraft’ but her aunt is also claiming she has no drama talent and won’t succeed without the witchcraft! Of course Pandora is determined to prove her aunt wrong – but can she resist the temptation to use magic to make her path smoother?

Jinty 2 June 1979

The cover on this week and the following week’s comics are drawn by the unknown artist who gave us “Concrete Surfer” – lovely fun summer scenes!

Stories in this issue:

  • Alice in a Strange Land (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • I’ll Make Up for Mary (artist Guy Peeters, writer Alison Christie) – last episode
  • Are You a Do-er, a Ditherer, or a Do-Nothing? (quiz)
  • Daughter of Dreams
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • The Four-Footed Friends (artist Peter Wilkes, writer Alison Christie)
  • Children of Edenford (artist Phil Townsend)

Alice is rescued from being sacrificed – partly because she is smart enough to take off the Sun Goddess mask and show the priestesses that she is not really the goddess they thought she was. That wouldn’t save her from the High Priestess herself, but Sir Edward turns up in the nick of time and tells her that it’s all over – the fountain of youth has been blocked by the earthquakes and their eternal life will soon come to an end. A split in the ground carries away the mad priestess and Alice is safe – if she can just get back to where the other girls are so they can all get away together!

Laika is stuck in the Industrial Zone where she can’t look after her plants in her Forbidden Garden – the only hope that is keeping her ill sister alive is the promise to have a flower of her very own. Suddenly everything changes: Laika is dragged off by the Child Protection Force, who say that she has been deemed highly intelligent and must be taken away from her parents so that she can be brought up as befits her intelligence. What next?

It is the last episode of “I’ll Make Up For Mary“. Poor sad Ann thinks there is no way out other than the very final way of going back to where Mary was drowned! Luckily the friends she has made even during her struggles, and her parents who have never stopped loving her, rescue her.

Quizzes were a very normal feature of girls comics and magazines: here is an example. I love this artist, who featured in lots of items like this – features, quizzes, and articles published in summer specials and annuals. I wonder what his or her name was?

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“Daughter of Dreams” is not one of Jinty’s best or most memorable stories. Sally Carter is shy: she has invented an imaginary friend who is outgoing and slightly obstreperous. She has such a strong imagination that her friend ends up coming to life – and even being able to do things like rescue the bully who has fallen into the canal water! Sally is too scared to do it herself, but finds that she is being fêted as the heroine of the hour – which is perhaps even harder for her to deal with.

Laura’s mum is really angry with her husband, who has borrowed scruffy mongrel Riley to help protect the house after a burglar broke in. Riley and Winston are very glad just to be able to hang out together! And there’s more – the father is actively working to support the local council estate, by building a supermarket nearby, which will help to bring much-needed amenities to the area.

In the dramatic last episode of “Children of Edenford”, Patti is taken down to the Temple of Purity – yes, the headmistress has got a temple of fire, named after herself! – to be sacrified on the altar of Miss Goodfellow’s ambitions. Unlike other sacrificial lambs, Patti is no pushover and she fights back – and the fight sees Miss Goodfellow tipped down into the firey pit of her own making! All is over, and the world is saved from the threat of being turned monstrously, unwillingly perfect.

Jinty 26 May 1979

Stories in this issue:

  • Alice in a Strange Land (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • I’ll Make Up for Mary (artist Guy Peeters, writer Alison Christie)
  • Tennis superstar John McEnroe talks to you (feature)
  • Daughter of Dreams
  • “Frieze” A Jolly Good fellow – craft feature
  • The Four-Footed Friends (artist Peter Wilkes, writer Alison Christie)
  • Children of Edenford (artist Phil Townsend)

“Alice In a Strange Land” is coming to a distinct climax – it starts off with Alice and her schoolgirl party in a dungeon, coming up with a plan to save their skins from the high priestess, who is planning to sacrifice Karen to the Sun God! Alice swaps places with Karen and waits heroically during the long ceremony, hoping frantically that the girls will be able to get away and find Sir Edward in time to stop the priestess. But the last panel has got the knife being raised over Alice’s chest, ready to be plunged down! Will it all work out in time?

Laika has had bad news in “The Forbidden Garden” – her family is being sent to the industrial zone. She tells her friend Kara what happened – including the fact that this transfer is Gladvis Clampp’s revenge on Laika, for burning the negatives that were being used to blackmail all sorts of people. But the worst aspect of it is that there is no way that Laika will be able to keep her promise to her deathly sick little sister Valli, to bring her a real flower some day…

Gwenny Gulliver has to handle the annoying four tiny Lilliputians who claim that as the last descendant of Lemuel Gulliver she needs to protect them. She needs protecting from them, as the two kids of the family start flinging ink pellets and all sorts while at school!

Mary has finally cracked – she flies into a rage at school, and runs off after flinging the school dance club records at all and sundry. When she gets home she overhears her parents say they need to move north to start again – ‘We must think of Ann… Ann’s all we’ve got left now.’ Ann, despairing, thinks there is only one way out – ‘I’m the one who must go… There’s only one thing left to do!’ The last episode is next week, and all will be resolved.

“The Four Footed Friends” has a surprise for Laura – it’s her dad, returned from his work abroad! He has a very different take on things from Laura’s mum, including borrowing Riley to come and help guard the house from burglars (because their house has just been burgled).

Miss Goodfellow has caught Patti good and proper – red-handed smashing the bottles of the mystery drug that turns people perfect! The headmistress’s plan is to drug Patti into submission. Friend Jilly is nearly caught too: she escapes the school but when she flags down a police car to get away, even the local cops are in Miss Goodfellow’s thrall! Patti cannot be zombified, because of the extra-bad hay fever causing her eyes to stream and weep, so the headmistress swears to – burn out her imperfections instead! The final episode is promised for next week – so it will be a very exciting week for readers.

Jinty 19 May 1979

Stories in this issue:

  • Alice in a Strange Land (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • I’ll Make Up for Mary (artist Guy Peeters, writer Alison Christie)
  • What’s In a Name? (feature and quiz)
  • Daughter of Dreams
  • The Real Thing – pop feature on Liverpool band
  • The Four-Footed Friends (artist Peter Wilkes, writer Alison Christie)
  • Children of Edenford (artist Phil Townsend)
  • A Dashing Cravat – craft feature

“Alice in a Strange Land” enters prime H Rider Haggard territory – she finds that her rescuer is a Victorian explorer – complete with mutton-chop whiskers – who has been kept young by the spring of eternal youth. Sir Edward takes Alice to see the Incan carving that tells the tale of how the spring was blocked by an earlier earthquake – it must periodically be stopped and started by earth tremors. It is this that the High Priestess wants to prevent, by sacrificing Alice or her cousin to the Incan sun god!

Laika has found a hidden safe that is almost certainly where scheming blackmailer Gladvis keeps the negatives of the compromising photos she has taken over the years. (Ah, negatives – a blast from the past, in this science fiction story!) Gladvis inadvertently gives away the combination when she tips out a bunch of stuff from her drawer, for Laika to tidy up. Laika wastes no time in getting rid of the material in the safe, but Gladvis’ revenge is not long in coming. Laika’s dad gets the news that he has been downgraded to a Grade C manager – and the family have to move to an underground apartment in the Industrial Zone!

Gwenny Gulliver is getting used to having tiny guests – the last Lilliputians have come to stay with her. There are a few hitches – not least them setting fire to the doll’s house that they are living in!

Ann Ridley’s parents are putting a brave face on things and clearing out the bedroom of Mary’s things. Ann works hard to help, but giving stuff away to the jumble sale sparks painful memories that cause her to go off in anger at just the point when she is starting to feel she is doing a good job. Once again she feels “they only want Mary, and there’s nothing I can do about it!”

Laura’s posh mother is on stage in “The Four-Footed Friends” – she wants to beguile the audience into signing her petition against extending the council estate. But mongrel Riley and best friend Winston undo her efforts by putting up such a show of friendship that no one wants to sign the petition! Good for them.

Jilly and Patti are busy clearing up the school – headmistress Purity Goodfellow has turned all the parents and schoolchildren into perfect zombies in the wake of the riot that the two girls incited. Patti and Jilly must try and destroy the perfection drug as soon as possible, before Miss Goodfellow tries to feed it to the whole country – she has enough of it stored up to do so!

Jinty 31 March 1979

Stories in this issue

  • Alice in a Strange Land (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands) – first episode
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Boney is beautiful! (feature on pop group Boney M)
  • Prisoner of the Bell (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • I’ll Make Up for Mary (artist Guy Peeters, writer Alison Christie)
  • You Wanna Be a Millionaire… or do you? (quiz)
  • Daughter of Dreams
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • The Four-Footed Friends (artist Peter Wilkes, writer Alison Christie)
  • Kate Bush (pin up)
  • Children of Edenford (artist Phil Townsend)
  • What price beauty? (feature)

Alice follows the sound of Chana’s voice and discovers that they have both been betrayed – Chana has been exiled from the city and will thereby surely die, and Alice’s cousin Karen has got the golden urn and declared herself sun goddess. The temple priestesses seize Alice on sight and she is forced to dress as a jester in order to appease her cousin, who is finding that power has gone to her head!

It is the first episode of “Bizzie Bet and the Easies”, a lightweight two page humour strip that has started running in the place of “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!”. Bet is an energetic girl but her friends the Easies are much keener on a quiet life with minimal effort. I like their style, personally!

Laika is starting to grow her forbidden garden, but she has to balance the needs of tending to it with the danger of getting caught in the Forbidden Zone. This time the police nearly catch her, and her weak little sister Valli is half-dead with anxiety.

Susie is no longer the prisoner of the bell – at least temporarily so, because her gran can’t get at her while she is on the residential gym course. A weight seems to have lifted from her, and Susie’s gym mojo returns – but the gran doesn’t give up as easily as that!

Ann tries to emulate her sister by demanding that the bullies who have pinched a precious photo album give it back – but instead they just rip up the photos! Ann is heartbroken but more importantly she can’t face telling the news to the old lady whose photo album it is. When the story comes out, more and more people are disappointed in Ann and she feels once again that she can never make up for her dead sister.

The “Daughter of Dreams” is Pauline Starr – she’s really just a figment of shy Sally Carter’s imagination, but such a strong imagination that she comes to life! Sally is the only person who can see her, but the fantastical creation can nevertheless have an effect on the world around her… and on Sally’s confidence, of course. The sequel to this story is drawn by the unknown artist who drew Merry, but this is done by the hand of a different artist (probably a Spanish person by the looks of the style).

The four-footed friends are posh Peke Winston and scruffy mongrel Riley – their owners are also fast friends, but Laura’s mum is having none of it. Riley ends up shut in a shed, with a threat to turn him over to the police, as a vermin spreader.

Patti is still a normal teenager in “Children of Edenford” but not so the girls next door – Mandy and Debbie used to be lazy messy little horrors who never helped out, but now they make posh suppers for dinner parties and listen to poetry records for fun. Patti escapes to visit her friend Jilly – only to find that Jilly too, is proposing to do some maths homework for a bit of fun, and has taken down all her Travolta posters! “Pop music is a waste of time. It neither enriches the soul nor challenges the intellect.” Yikes!

Jinty 17 March 1979

Stories in this issue

  • Alice in a Strange Land (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Sea-Sister (artist Peter Wilkes) – last episode
  • Prisoner of the Bell (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Advert for “The Forbidden Garden”
  • Children of Edenford (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • She Shall Have Music (artist Ron Smith) – last episode
  • The Four-Footed Friends (artist Peter Wilkes) – first episode
  • I’ll Make Up for Mary (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Spice Up Your Ideas! (cooking feature)

Alice visits Chana in her wee slave cell, to find out how on earth she can pass the test that will prove she is the Sun Goddess so that she can save Chana’s life. The clues she gets are all very well, but the test requires true bravery as well. Will Alice be able to climb to the top of the wall of the maze, so that she can see the temple she has to get to?

“Sea-Sister” ends this issue. Helen is put on trial by the great Sea-Judge for the crime of telling her friend Jane about the existence of the drowned village of Ullapond. Jane has to plead for Helen and give up something very dear to her heart in order to prove how much it means to her that her friend should not be banished; the plea works and Jane is even rewarded for her tenacity, though her memory is wiped of all that has happened.

Susie Cathcart is still the prisoner of her grandmother, who wields a hypnotic power over her via the tinkling of a handbell. Susie’s dreams of a career in gymnastics have been ruined by her grandmother’s interference, and her nerves are shot. The high-flown gym course that Susie would previously have killed to go on, now feels like a scary ordeal. Will her friend Lorraine manage to pull her out of it? Not if the gran can help it, of course…

It’s not that often that you get a single-page advert for an upcoming story in the same comic. Here is one for “The Forbidden Garden“, which of course proved very popular and successful. The editors must have been very excited for it – regular gag strip Alley Cat did not appear in this issue so presumably was dropped in favour of this teaser for the following week. “Daughter of Dreams”, which also starts the same week, is briefly mentioned, but it comes across as rather an afterthought.

Children of Edenford” shows Patti and Jilly eating a superb lunch in the posh refectory at Edenford school – but there are sinister signs that very soon both of the girls may be turned into perfect schoolgirls, just like their classmates. Certainly that’s what Miss Goodfellow, the headmistress, promises: “You shall be one of us soon! Very soon!”

She Shall Have Music” comes to a heart-wrenching end in this issue, with a four-page episode in which Lisa’s redemption becomes complete. “The Four-Footed Friends” starts – another Peter Wilkes story to fill the gap left by “Sea-Sister”. Laura is rather a “poor little rich girl” whose mother wraps her in cotton wool – she doesn’t know why, but the cheeky little pekinese who they are about to buy ends up giving all the answers.

Ann Ridley’s schoolmates are giving her the cold shoulder because they think she ratted on them to the teachers. She will continue to be misunderstood and unhappy for the rest of “I’ll Make Up for Mary”, of course.

The back page ‘crafts’ feature is food-based this week: it suggests using your spice cupboard to create some tasty treats such as Gingered Pears, Cinnamon Toast, Curried Butter, and Spiced Chocolate.

Jinty 3 March 1979

Stories in this issue:

  • Alice in a Strange Land (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Sea-Sister (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Alley Cat
  • Prisoner of the Bell (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Gypsy Rose Looks at the stars (Horoscope)
  • Children of Edenford (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Masters of Space: pin-up of “Blake’s Seven”
  • She Shall Have Music (artist Ron Smith)
  • Flying High with the Cavarettas! (feature)
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)
  • I’ll Make Up for Mary (artist Guy Peeters, writer Alison Christie)

“Alice in a Strange Land: is the lead story at this point – Alice and her cousin Karen are told by the mysterious High Priestess that there is a prophecy that a “white-skinned goddess” will lead the tribe back to greatness. Will that goddess be Karen or Alice – and what test will decide between them?

Sea-Sister Helen and her friend Jane are stuck in the ocean – Helen was trying to return to the underwater village that she comes from, but with Jane also on board her sea-shell boat it was not able to return properly. An oil tanker that is stuck on the rocks threatens the two girls, and also a number of friendly birds – Helen tries to save them all but in then end a giant wave sweeps the two of them overboard and under the sea. That’s fine for Helen, who is finally home again – but what of Jane, who has ended up visiting the underwater kingdom without permission?

In “Prisoner of the Bell”, Susie Cathcart is afraid she’s lost her nerve and can’t face doing gymnastics any more. Loyal friend Lorraine thinks of a way to help her get back into the swing of it and even lends her twenty pounds for it – a residential course at a gym school. But the meddling gran finds the money and instructs Susie to “destroy that friendship forever!” The hypnotized Susie can only reply “Whatever your orders, Grandma, I will obey!”

We normally haven’t touched on the features and extraneous items in the pages of the comic. I include the page with the horoscope (and who better to present it than Gypsy Rose, of course – here drawn by Phil Townsend) and a crossword. The clues on the crossword seem surprisingly hard for the intended age range of 8-12, I’d think: but have a look at the tiny upside-down answers, if you can, and see what you think. You will need to click through, of course.

This is just the second episode of “Children of Edenford”. Patti has arrived at the clean and beautiful village of Edenford, but she knows that something’s not right about it. Well, the runaway terrified girl being pursued by grim blank-eyed schoolgirls, and the headmistress whose motto is “Others strive for perfection – we achieve it!” is a bit of a give-away, maybe.

Lisa Carstairs is still a snooty snob in “She Shall Have Music”. Her mother is ill and unable to cope: Lisa is told to stay on with her friend Tracey but instead runs off to stay with her London godmother. Will it work out? Not likely…

There is a two-page text article about a trapeze artist act, the Caravettas: three sisters and a brother. Very exciting!

Fran is playing at being the Fire Officer, which is great fun, so long as she doesn’t screw it up badly enough that she gets into the Headmistress’s bad books, cos that would mean that big bully Martha Stump would have a chance to get her own back.

Shy Ann has changed her hairstyle and other looks to match her dead twin’s – and the other girls on the school bus are understandably rather freaked out when they first see it. Being back at school after the traumatic holiday where her sister was drowned is difficult in many ways, however hard Ann tries.

Alice In A Strange Land (1979)

Sample images

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Published: Jinty 17 February 1979 – 9 June 1979

Episodes: 17

Artist: Terry Aspin

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: none identified to date

Plot

Alice Jones is a timid orphan who lives with her uncle, aunt, and cousin Karen. Karen is much more confident and outgoing than her cousin, and overshadows Alice at everything. Some people have faith in the shy girl – for instance one of her teachers at school says that if she had confidence in herself she could do so much better, because she is very clever at most subjects. Her family are pretty dismissive of her, in ways bordering on abuse – the two girls share a birthday, but while Karen is bought a pretty party dress and made much of, Alice is simply bought a pair of socks as a present and told to be grateful that they have looked after her for all those years.

We don’t see much of this miserable home life, though. The initial four page episode sees both Karen and Alice apply for a school exchange holiday in Texas – exciting! – which they are both chosen for (much to her family’s disgust), and the small group of seven schoolgirls sets out in an equally small twin-prop plane. The plane is too small to survive a huge storm that blows up, and it goes way off course – instead of heading to Texas, the girls find they are flying over South America! The final straw is when the pilot’s eyes are dazzled by the shining golden roofs of a mysterious lost city, which the stewardess only has time to exclaim must be “El Dorado, the lost golden city of the Incans!” before the plane crashes. The two grown-ups are killed and the seven schoolgirls are left alone in an exotic jungle. Alice wants them to head towards the golden city, but Karen, who has appointed herself the natural leader of the group, calls the idea absurd – because Alice was the only one of the schoolgirls to see the golden roofs.

Karen takes charge and leads the girls onwards – luckily in the direction that Alice thinks they should be going in anyway (they’re following the path that the plane made as it crash-landed). In the forest a bird appears – again, Alice is the one that sees it first, but Karen notices that its beak and claws have been painted gold, and that it is a tame bird. It leads them all to the lost city after all! Karen is furious at being proved wrong and drags Alice along with her to the temple that the bird is leading them to. In the middle of the temple is the image of the sun, and it starts to glow mysteriously, as the two girls are surrounded by robed priestesses who hail them as ‘great ones’ and bow down to worship them!

The priestesses hail the two girls as part of a prophecy of a ‘white-skinned goddess to lead us back to greatness’, and seem to be treating all the group to luxurious accommodation. Alice is the only one who is suspicious – she believes they are being imprisoned under the guise of having servants waiting on them hand and foot. And something she overhears the head priestess talking about gives her a fright – the priestesses need to decide which out of Alice and Karen is the Sun Goddess and so they will be put to a test. Of course Alice wouldn’t usually stand in Karen’s way for such acclaim, but she does so in order to protect a slave girl, Chana, who is threatened with death simply for daring to look upon the group of schoolgirls.

In return for Alice’s support, Chana gives her some clues to help pass the test. Just as well The two girls are made to navigate a gigantic maze and to get past the guardian at the centre of it – a sleek black jaguar. Following the instructions to ‘go above the maze’ and to ‘call the black one by his name’, Alice succeeds: she climbs the walls (despite her great fear of heights) and soothes the jaguar by calling him Aquila as instructed. At the last minute however, she hears the echoing voice of Chana, calling to her: “Help me Sun Goddess, or I will die!” The treacherous high priestess has gone against her word and banished Chana from the city, which will mean death in short order if she is not allowed to return. But a nasty surprise meets Alice on her return to the centre of the temple: the urn that she had already reached, and which she needed to take to the high priestess to prove her claim, is gone! Of course Karen had taken it despite knowing that Alice was there first – and Alice is now branded the “false goddess”.

The only thing that is keeping Alice going is the thought of letting Chana down – Chana being the only person so far who has believed in Alice and not seen her as “some kind of bundling idiot”. Alice is also justifiably worried about the whole dangerous situation that they are in – a danger that none of the other girls realise. Not that she understands all the dangers – another slave girl tells her that if she wants to walk out of the temple into the city and nearer to Chana, all she has to do is to walk past the guards. Which she does – but it’s the act of entering the palace that the guards are there to prevent. Alice is left wandering in a deserted city which seems not to have been lived in for hundreds of years. Where is Chana and what is the fearful secret of this mysterious land?

The few locals who live in the city are not very helpful – on hearing that Alice has come from the temple, they lock her up overnight and then bring the leader of their people to see her. He is surprised to see that she has not visibly changed on her overnight stay: “everyone who belongs to that temple changes when they leave it”. And once he takes he to Chana, Alice understands why: Chana has turned into an aged woman, almost literally overnight! Inside the temple is a spring that grants eternal life – but if you fail to drink from it even once, then your true age returns to you and you will die. This is the fate that awaited Chana on being exiled from the temple – and in order to return to the temple, Alice herself will need to accept the slavery of the spring of eternal life! And return to the temple she must – moments after telling her tale to Alice, Chana is killed by an earthquake, and the temple is where Karen and the others are. The high priestess knows exactly what she is making Alice do, even though Karen impatiently says “What’s got into you? It’s only a little drink of water!”

Here is where Karen once again shows herself as being much less astute than her cousin (as well as much less kind and considerate, of course). Why on earth would the high priestess make it a condition that all new joiners to the city must drink the water from this specific spring, if not for some nefarious reason? It’s not done as part of some big joining ceremony, it’s just Alice, Karen, and the high priestess. Karen even impatiently says she will drink some of the water to prove it’s not poisoned, but Alice can’t accept that risk, and dashes the cup over the posh robes that her cousin is wearing, so that Karen leaves in a huff. That suits the high priestess all right, who knows jolly well who’s figured out what: “You, little one, are too clever. You have found out too many of my secrets!” And under the threat of death, Alice drinks – and finds that, as promised, her previous life becomes like a dream.

She works in the kitchen alongside other slaves, agog to even catch a glimpse of the fabled Sun Goddess and her servants. The sight of the magnificent goddess playing catch in the sun seems to ring a bell but the memory fades as soon as it has come – the reality of life is her work in the kitchen and the threat of recurrent earthquakes that the city suffers from. A fellow slave informs Alice that the Sun Goddess is to be sacrificed to save the city from the anger of the god that makes the earth shake – and even this does not rouse Alice from her dreamlike state. After all, a goddess cannot really die, just appear to do so – really she will just be returning to the sun. Nice explanation!

Even in this dire situation, Alice is not entirely without friends. No, not the group of school girls that she came with – the rotten lot are following Karen’s lead and ignoring her entirely, happy for her to end up as a mere slave. But one of Chana’s friends advises her that she must try to avoid drinking the water from the spring of life, and then she will remember who she is and what she is trying to do. And so she does – but only at a point when she is trapped below the kitchens and outside a locked door, menaced by the rising waters of an underground lake!

That’s the point at which the episode in the sample above comes in. She is rescued, almost unbelievably, by an old Victorian gent out for a spot of fishing – “Sir Edward Carter, explorer to her Majesty Queen Victoria, at your service, my dear!” The old gent is a dab hand at rescuing her and making sure she’s warm, dry, and fed: but otherwise is a bit of a patronising old git when told about the danger of the high priestess: “Humbug!”. Not that this is surprising once we get to the end of the episode and realise that it is his own daughter, Lady Dorotea, who is the very same high priestess! Alice is in more danger than ever before, but she hopes that if she stays close to Sir Edward, his daughter will fear to tip her hand in a way that makes him see the double-game she has been playing. But the high priestess sends some henchmen (henchpriestesses?) in the middle of the night to kidnap Alice and bring her to where the other girls are being kept – now in a dungeon, awaiting Karen’s sacrifice the very next day!

The girls plot a desperate plan, under Alice’s lead (even Karen now acknowledges how brave and clever she has been). The sun goddess must go to her death willingly, otherwise the sun god will be angry – so the bribe for that to happen is that if she does, the other girls will be set free, and if not, they will all be killed. So someone must put herself up for sacrifice, and conveniently the costume has a golden mask, so someone else could take Karen’s place while the others go to Sir Edward for help… not that anyone is willing to risk death, apart from Alice of course. By the end of the episode she is bound to a sacrificial altar, hoping fervently that the ceremonial chanting will take long enough to give Sir Edward plenty of time to come and save her – until another earth tremor convinces the high priestess to move the schedule on a bit quicker!

The earth tremors only grow further in intensity, and the panicking Incas start to flee for their lives. When Alice manages to free her hand enough to remove her golden mask, the sight of their ‘false goddess’ causes the rest to flee – but not Lady Dorotea of course, who is all too willing to kill the stumbling block in her way. Finally the cavalry arrives, in the form of Sir Edward, who informs his daughter that the earthquake has stopped the spring from flowing, and so they are both doomed in any case. Of course the vengeful harridan would still like to have a final stab (very literally) at Alice, but a convenient chasm opens up beneath the two Victorians and swallows them up, leaving the girl as the sole survivor. She manages to escape the crumbling cavern and rejoins her happy (and, finally, grateful) cousin for a joint river escape with the rest of the schoolgirls. The girls are safe and are returned home, in a blaze of publicity!

Of course the uncle and aunt are a fly in the ointment – they are delighted to have their darling daughter back, but know that “it can’t be true'” that Alice was the heroine – it must have been Karen! Alice is understandably worried that she will find herself back in the same situation as she left some four months previously (the newspaper article gives the timeline) – downtrodden by her blood relatives. But no – Karen really has changed her tune, and says “I’m not going to let them bully you into being a mouse again, even if they are my mum and dad!” And all ends happily after all.

Thoughts

This is a fantastic story and one of my absolute favourites, though not without flaws (see below). The action moves on swiftly throughout and is full of excellent imagery – the mutton-chop wearing old gent, the deranged high priestess, the beautiful lost city. So much of that is down to artist Terry Aspin, of course, but he had a very strong base to work on and I hope he got a real kick out of it. The elements of the lost city and the spring of eternal youth are far from new, but seen through Alice’s eyes they still work as well as when H Rider Haggard was penning similar tales of “She” and of “King Solomon’s Mines”.

“Alice” was clearly the lead story throughout its run: it was positioned on the first double-page spread of each issue it was in (apart from the first issue, which had the last episode of “Girl Who Never Was“). It also was on the cover 6 times, though always sharing the billing with another story (unlike “Sea Sister”, “The Four Footed Friends“, and “The Forbidden Garden” which all had one or more covers dedicated to their protagonists during this time). This is despite the amazingly strong run of stories at this point – the same issues that this is in also include the stories above and the fantastic “Children of Edenford“, which never was granted cover status). This story was well-thought-of in the editorial office, and deservedly so. It is one of the stories that I never forgot from the time of first reading it, to when I regained copies of Jinty as an adult (and when I first watched Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, I knew the best way for the teen heroine to beat the maze well before she figured it out for herself). I am surprised that I can’t immediately note a translation or reprint version of this story – I am sure I have seen mention of one, so I hope it’s just that I have mislaid the relevant information on any European translation details.

On the downside, once again in Jinty (and indeed in girls’ comics stories generally) the lack of serious research strikes (though I am much more inclined to forgive it in this story than in the lacklustre “The Sceptre of the Toltecs”). To many British people, them-there mysterious lost peoples of the Americas are all very similar – Incans, Mayans, Aztecs are much of a muchness. (The same imprecision extends to naming – the correct term is “Incas” or “Inca”, not “Incans” as the story has it.) The writer of this story got right the focus on gold and on the sun god, which were big elements in Inca society, but seems to have imported much of the rest of the flavour from Mexico (Aztec human sacrifice) or from the Yucatan peninsula that stretches down to Guatemala and Belize (Mayan temples lost in the overgrown jungle). The tame bird that is seen in the second episode is very similar to the beautiful Quetzal bird which is the symbol of Guatemala, but El Dorado is a legend that has its origins in Colombia and hence relates more closely to the Incas. And so on. Of course in some ways it would be wrong for this sort of fantastical story to link itself too closely to a specific real location or people – why not cobble various elements together into one? – but then the fact it refers to the real Inca belies that. Never mind, it’s a great yarn – and as someone who visited some amazing Mayan ruins as a child, the scene setting worked very well for me nevertheless.

To the modern reader there are a number of glaring holes. The local people understand English? The tribe have a white saviour complex? The high priestess turns out to be a Victorian explorer’s daughter? The two Victorians and the rest of the temple staff don’t seem to have lost their memories with all the drinking of magic water every night? Yeah right. But the various implausibilities of the stories never detract from the solid and exciting story that rushes you along. It’s a long run – 17 episodes – but it never drags or repeats itself. I hope that it will be chosen as an example for Rebellion to reprint in short order – it would certainly very well repay any new attention to it.

Jinty 18 June 1977

jinty-18-june-1977

  • Creepy Crawley – artist Trini Tinturé
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! – artist Hugh Thornton-Jones
  • The Sable Knight (Gypsy Rose story) – artist Keith Robson
  • Curtain of Silence – artist Terry Aspin
  • Alley Cat – artist Rob Lee
  • Meet the Modest Star… Richard Beckinsale – feature
  • The Robot Who Cried – artist Rodrigo Comos, writer Malcolm Shaw
  • The Darkening Journey – artist José Casanovas
  • Kerry in the Clouds (final episode) – artist Cándido Ruiz Pueyo/Emilia Prieto, writer Alan Davidson
  • Spell of the Spinning Wheel – artist Jim Baikie, writer Alison Christie
  • Memento of a Memorable Year! – feature

It’s the final episode of “Kerry in the Clouds”. There are hard lessons learned for both Kerry (the dreamer with her head in the clouds) and Gail (who took advantage of this to get revenge on a film producer) before the happy ending. “A Boy Like Bobby” takes its place next week.

“The Spell of the Spinning Wheel” is coming to an end too. This week Rowan is let down by a man who seemed to believe her, but it turns out he was a student psychiatrist who thought she was a nut case, and Dad shows him the door. Fortunately the final episode is next week, so something is finally going to help. Meanwhile, Rowan is outracing the spell of the spinning wheel to get medical help for her injured mother.

“Creepy Crawley” is beginning to approach its conclusion as well. The invasion of insects continues at Jean’s school, but Mandy, the only one who can stop it, is finally on her way. However, Mandy is not sure she will be able to stop the invasion because it requires her to forgive the very girl who did so many horrible things to her…

Madam Kapelski takes Yvonne on a special tour of the dreaded State Home for Children of Dissidents to bring her into line. Afterwards Yvonne decides to cooperate with Kapelski, but secretly isn’t giving up on escape.

The Darkening Journey takes an even darker turn when Thumper falls foul of a cruel man who abuses him. It gets worse when a fire breaks out, but Thumper can’t escape because he is chained up!

Katy has stunned everyone with her turn of speed at racing, but then it looks like she’s developing a malfunction.

In this week’s Gypsy Rose story, Prue Preston has trouble from two evil, cruel men at a jousting tournament. One is alive and one is long dead – but his ghost comes out in full armour to join the fun!

Henrietta uses her magic to help a street artist, but her spells aren’t working out as she hoped, which leads to hijinks. Of course everything turns out happily in the end.