Tag Archives: unknown artist – Merry

Sandie 4 March 1972

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Roy Newby)
  • Wendy the Witch (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Neil Diamond (artist Bob Gifford)

Norah has to fight hard to win the swimming trial that Mrs Maddox has arranged for her to enter. The committee isn’t very impressed with her at first but as Mrs Maddox points out, she hasn’t had any training and still can battle the odds and win. She is allowed in on trial only, but that is more than enough for starters. Cousin Lorna is mad as fire, of course. And at the end of the episode, Mrs Maddox muses that Norah reminds her of someone… who could it be?

Susie Mann proves to the rest of her form that she was ‘voted’ into position of Form Captain purely due to lies and deception on the part of the authorities. Nevertheless, she takes on the task of Captain, purely because she wants to lead her class into outright rebellion! By the end of the episode, her Head Girl sister is fuming.

Anna sneaks out to see her friend Julia, who has had to listen to her father spout a lot of nonsense about how the kids from Madeley Buildings are a lot of hooligans. But it’s not the father that the two girls need to worry about – it’s estate manager Ramage who is putting every barrier in their way. Anna manages to get over the wall to meet up with Julia and give her a birthday present, and  Mr Crossley even lets them have their birthday picnic, but Ramage makes up a story about Anna having stolen some pears and gets her thrown out in disgrace.

Dale gets back late to her dorm room and finds that her friend Emily has disappeared in the way that other people have been doing – she has been replaced by a cold-eyed girl who says she is ‘the new girl’. A likely story! Miss Voor is still setting tests for all the girls and this time they have to solve a difficult riddle. Dale solves it, but only to hide the prize so that no one else can find it, because she is worried about the whole set-up. Soon there is another challenge when Dale and her other friend Daphne sneak into Miss Voor’s office – they find a box with a big initial V on it. Does it hold the answer to the mystery?

The two girls in “Our Big BIG Secret” continue to hide the fact they have become owners of a very large dog, and hillbilly Lucy continues to astound polite society – this time with her pet skunk. But the skunk did save Locksley Hall from burglars at  least!

Wee Sue saves the hockey game, and even fixes the engine on the bus on the way back from the game. Too clever for her own good, as her friend Kay says? Not half!

Elaine is saved from being run down by Miss Pettifor, the headmistress at the school she was at before her father’s ship went down. The worse discovery that Elaine makes, though, is that it is her Uncle Ned who is behind the attempts to kill her! Along with her friend Mary, Elaine tries to enlist the help of her old acquaintance Patricia Millard, but to no avail – and indeed her old friend tells her to her face that Elaine “has been dead these past three weeks!”.

We have two Mike Brown strips in Sandie at this time! “Wendy the Witch” is also on the go. To defeat a bully, she zaps a baby with a spell: “Oh, baby with the lolly – be big, but not jolly!” and Big Bully Bab gets her just desserts at the hands of said enlarged tot!

Sandra and her sister are increasingly on the outs. Joan wants to get her strength back to do her own dancing again, but they both want to keep their grandmother happy and she thinks that it is Joan doing the super dancing. Joan is indeed dancing, or at least trying to recover her strength – but as the nurse warns, if she tries to rush things she may lose all chance of ever being able to dance again.

Trudy finds out that Mr Macready isn’t dead or dying after all, but is worrying so much about her that she was called urgently to his bedside. When she gets back to the scrapyard she finds two of her rivals poking around the rickety ruins – so rickety that it promptly collapses on them. They need to be rescued – partly due to Silver pawing at the rubble and attracting the attention of helpers. Now Trudy needs to find a place to stable Silver overnight, to no avail – and when she returns to the hospital she finds that Mr Macready has disappeared!

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Sandie 26 February 1972

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Roy Newby)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Cat Stevens (artist Bob Gifford)

Norah has a go at swimming in the local lake, which she’s not supposed to do – she attracts attention from various people, but luckily also from Mrs Maddox, who is not angry but rather offers her a visit to her house so that she can clean up and even have a try at her swimming pool instead… The quality of Norah’s swimming interests Mrs Maddox greatly and she asks Norah to the local swimming club for a trial. Cousin Lorna is far from pleased!

Susie Mann is wreaking havoc of all sorts. The other schoolgirls in her class are not totally sure what to make of her. She gets one of her classmates released from the cooler where she was unjustly locked up, but the headmistress conspires to get Susie elected as new Form Captain despite all her protestations. The Head is trying to make sure that power will go to Susie’s head – she doesn’t know who she’s dealing with, I think.

Anna finds the forbidden friend – it is Julia, the daughter of her horrible landlord, Mr Crossley. Mind you, the landlord is not half as mean as the estate manager, who stalks the grounds of Crossley House with a big Alsatian. Julia invites Anna to a birthday tea the next day, but Ramage wants to keep out anyone who has any connection with the Madeley Buildings where Anna lives.He’s going to make sure no one can get over the wall…

The creepy Miss Voor has got a bunch of cold-eyed clones to staff the school alongside her. They are working as teacher’s aids in each class, but they very much have their own agenda. For some reason they want to find the ‘best’ at everything – the tallest girl in class, the best at knitting, and so on. But there is more going on – at night, Dale finds that her room-mate Emily has been replaced by one of Miss Voor’s creepy clones!

Poppy and Daisy Mason find a nearby old lady who will happily look after their huge dog for them, but he is too clever for the old lady and soon escapes. If Poppy and Daisy’s parents find out about Pedro, he’ll be for it!

Hillbilly Lucy is sent to a snobbish school, but no one there is kind and sympathetic. Guardian Lady Primrose takes the snobs down a peg or two.

Wee Sue is worried about her French – she has learned a lot with Kay teaching her (even though they were playing hockey at the time!) but there are still big gaps in her knowledge. Sue is caught out of bounds while trying to study at night, and the hockey captain stops her from playing in the big hockey game the next day – she substitutes pal Kay instead. Sue knows this is not a good idea, as Kay isn’t a great player and the captain is just trying to show her up, but Kay takes Sue’s comments the wrong way and thinks that Sue has turned against her.

Little Lady Nobody is pushed down the well, but she clings onto the rope and avoids falling all the way into the well. Fellow servant Mary saves her but Elaine immediately betrays her. Mary falls ill as a result but Elaine makes up for her betrayal by being staunchly by MAry’s side during her illness. The other servants are won over, too – at least somewhat.

Sandra continues to dance on her sister’s behalf, but now her sister is jealous of the fact that all the kudos is going to her sister, and not to her. But they are both doing this just for their grandmother – it’s not a comfortable deception for either of the twins.

Bonnie’s Butler wins out again – Bonnie’s mother goes out for a posh evening do, courtesy of Gregston, rather than the trip to see a horror film that Bonnie’s father had planned.

Trudy rescues Silver from the burning stables but her friend and mentor is struck down with a heart attack. Now she doesn’t know where she can keep the horse; but her immediate concern is overwhelmingly about her friend, Mr MacReady.

Sandie 19 February 1972

Stories in this issue:

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Anna’s Forbidden Friend (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Roy Newby)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – Gilbert O’Sullivan (artist Bob Gifford)

There seem to be two copies of Issue 2 in this box I have just received – one nice clean copy as above (though with one coupon cut out, affecting the “Brenda’s Brownies” page but nothing else), and one with a couple of ladybird badges drawn over the cover girl’s collar and, rather disturbingly, on her neck! There is also one of her teeth fetchingly blacked-out. Not a mint copy!

Norah is keen to join the local swimming club, but her no-good cousins are trying to shut her out. They have just told the wealthy president of the swimming club that Norah is the ‘new help’ – but it does mean that the kind words that Mrs Maddox says to Norah are received with true emotion. Of course Norah isn’t going to be able to join the pool so easily – cousin Lorna tears her costume into rags and tells her it costs far too much money for her to join anyway.

The school started and run by the Manns is looking rather more sinister than in the first episode. Susie Mann is trying to stir stuff up and show she isn’t interested in becoming the next Head Girl  or whatever, but her prank gets another girl landed in the cooler instead. And it’s a literal cooler – down in the dungeons, set up like a prison! Susie is having none of it, but how will the powers that be take it?

Anna Martin lives in a block of flats in the East End of London. Her only interest is in bird-watching. Everyone else teases her and destroys things to do with her hobby (a book, a nesting box). It looks like Anna will find a friend who may share her interest – but probably someone related to her nasty landlord, Mr Crossley.

At St Junipers, new headmistress Miss Voor is being very odd. She catches rebel schoolgirl Dale out of doors at night and just makes her climb back up the ivy into her dorm. Next thing she does is to tell the girls that half of them will get no lunch and the other half will get double helpings. ?! Dale organizes a strike to share out the food, or (once Miss Voor prevents them from doing that) at least makes sure that if some have no food, then all will refuse their food in solidarity. But oddest of all – the last shot shows a group of tall, stern women in Miss Voor’s office, all looking very like her, and all with the same cold blank eyes as this weird woman!

The two girls have named their big secret – the dog is called Pedro. He’s not happy at his sleeping accommodation, and ends up getting his way and sleeping in Poppy’s bed, while she has to bunk up with Daisy.

Hillbilly Lucy is the daughter of the new Earl of Locksley (also a hillbilly). His Lordship leaves to go on a round the world cruise, and Lucy is to be looked after by Lady Primrose and turned into a lady – whether she likes it or not! At least it turns out that Lady Primrose is a crack shot, when she stops some intended poaching from taking place. (It’s the nesting season, so even not-particularly-law-abiding Lucy agrees it would be better not to shoot pheasants at this time.)

Wee Sue is preoccupied because she isn’t great at French (they didn’t do it at her old school). She is a scholarship girl so is worried about losing her place if she can’t keep up in lessons, but in fact the headteacher and others seem more interested in her sporting prowess. Luckily friend Kay teaches her French – during the hockey! It works well and Sue’s team wins.

Historical sob-story “Little Lady Nobody” turns sinister quickly. Elaine learns that her second day as a skivvy will be rather worse than her first as she is nearly suffocated when a fire is started while she is up a chimney – and later when she goes to fetch water from the well, she is given a hard push from behind!

Sandra discovers she can only dance well when her sister is nearby, willing her to do so. Neither of the twins want to disappoint their grandmother so they both continue to collude in the deception, even though it means trying to ensure that twin Joan is wheeled to the theatre by their unsuspecting gran. Will it work?

Bonnie’s Butler continues to be a quick-witted helper. This time he makes sure that Bonnie and her school pals triumph with their school task of making jam puffs.

Trudy enters Silver into a showjumping competition, but he’s not been trained to jump and muffs it badly. Scrapmerchant Mr Macready is a helpful mentor, but tragedy strikes as a fire breaks out in the stables where Silver is bedded down for the night.

Sandie 12 February 1972

This is the first issue of Sandie. Through a stroke of fortune, I have just today got my hands on 69 issues of Sandie (and Tammy & Sandie). These were all bought by the mother of a girl whose name is shown on the issues as ‘Diane Lidgett’. The mother in question seems to have been something of a hoarder and the now grown-up girl – herself a mother and indeed a grandmother – recently unearthed them. The family wanted the comics to go to a good home and that’s what has just happened – that is, after they had had a good chance to re-read the stories themselves! If the pressures of work and other life stuff allow, I will post about each issue  in order, as I come to them.

As with the first issues of Jinty, this runs to 40 pages. It’s packed full of stories that are drawn by familiar names, though of course it is hard to know in most cases who wrote them.

  • No-one Cheers for Norah (artist John Armstrong)
  • Little Lady Nobody (artist Roy Newby)
  • Odd Mann Out (artist A E Allen)
  • Brenda’s Brownies (artist and writer Mike Brown)
  • Our Big BIG Secret (artist Jim Baikie)
  • The School of No Escape (artist unknown artist ‘Merry’)
  • Not So Lady-like Lucy
  • Wee Sue (artist Vicente Torregrosa Manrique)
  • Bonnie’s Butler (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Sandra Must Dance (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Silver Is a Star (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • A Sandie Pop Portrait – George Best (artist Bob Gifford)

“Norah” looks like it is going to be a a tear-jerker Cinderella story, sharing a lot of similar ground with “Tricia’s Tragedy” in that a talented but poor swimmer needs to brave her way through challenges posed by wrong’uns from her own family as well as the difficulties put in her way by lack of money.

“Little Lady Nobody” is a riches-to-rags saga – in the first episode, snobbish Miss Elaine quickly finds out that her father has died and left only debts, meaning that she has to become a servant in the very same snobbish school that she had previously made lots of enemies in due to her horrible attitude. Only one scullery maid is on her side after her downfall and everyone else is positively out to get her.

Susie Mann is the latest of the Mann family to attend the posh private school that her ancestors started and which all of her family seem to have loved to make waves in. Susie is different, though – I had assumed at first that she might be a lovable klutz type, but by the end of this first episode it looks more like there might be something a bit sinister in how the school works, or at the very least that all her family members have enjoyed being bossy more than being kind and considerate. Whichever it is, Susie will definitely turn everything upside down, by the looks of it.

A one-pager of Brenda’s Brownies gives us some broad comedy – Brenda’s Tarantula Troupe are trying for their Baking Badge but end up needing to have a go at their Hut Building Badge, if they can possibly manage it…

Two sisters win a mystery prize in “Our Big BIG Secret” – a dog! They have been wanting one for ages but it’s the perennial question of where will they keep it, how will they pay for its food – and will their mother ever agree to let them keep it? it’s a fairly well-worn path but Jim Baikie’s art is always a treat and this has little humorous labels dotted here and there, in a way that foreshadows Baikie’s “Fran’ll Fix It!“.

From a mystery prize to a mystery story in “The School of No Escape” – Headmistress Miss Fitch of St Juniper’s has a sudden funny turn and walks out of the school entirely, only to be replaced by newcomer Miss Voor, who immediately announces herself as the new Headmistress. She is clearly a mind-controller and probably the fore-runner of an alien invasion, I shouldn’t wonder, as before the episode is out she has sent the deputy headmistress walking out in a very similar way, all the while asking the schoolgirls questions like “What are the names of the leaders of the principal nations on this planet?”

The new Earl of Locksley and his daughter are country bumpkins from rural America (though the editorial text says they come from Texas while the story intro says they are from Tennessee). Laughs ensue as the local high society mix with the rough and ready hillbillies.

Wee Sue, in her debut, is quite different from the later stories. Here Sue Strong is a small girl full of big surprises – she is clearly capable of taking down a class bully through unexpected sporting prowess, which isn’t something I would really have associated the later Sue stories with.

Bonnie Belthorp finds out that her family have inherited a butler, as per the will of the old lady that Bonnie’s mother used to do the cleaning for! This is a comedy story with a Jeeves-type character who is capable of winning through any situation.

In “Sandra Must Dance”, there are twin sisters who both love ballet, but only one of whom is any good. Duffer Sandra has to stand in for dancer Joan, and this deception bid fair to become permanent when Joan is injured in an accident and it looks like she will never be able to dance again. But Sandra has mysteriously started to feel a strange link with her twin, and this even seems to telepathically enable her to dance – on her paralysed twin’s behalf…

Trudy Parker is a poor girl who loves horses. She has a chance to buy ex-milk cart horse Star, who turns out to be a fantastic jumper – but will she find somewhere to stable him, let alone be able to enter into competitions? Her local rag-and-bone man is on her side, at any rate.

The Editorial page says there will be another great new story starting next week – I must say I can’t really see how they will manage to fit it in! Let’s see what happens…

Jinty 31 May 1975

Jinty cover 31 May 1975

Both Comixminx and I have been trying to find this issue for some time. Coincidentally, we both succeeded at virtually the same time.

As the cover states, the first episode of “The Valley of Shining Mist” begins this issue. This story was one of Jinty’s most enduring and beloved stories. Everyone compares Debbie Lane to a wild animal, yet that is because everyone, especially her cruel guardians, treats her like an abused animal. But something strange begins to happen when Debbie enters a valley that everyone avoids when it gets full of mist, and she sees something “fantastic!” From the sound of it, this is just the beginning of “strange and wonderful discoveries” that Debbie will see in the valley next week.

Two stories end this week, and their respective artists will move on to “Blind Ballerina” and “The Green People” next week. In the first, “Tricia’s Tragedy”, Tricia finally discovers that her guilt trip over cousin Diana’s blindness has all been over nothing – Diana’s ‘blindness’ was just the first in a long line of dirty tricks her unpleasant relatives have been pulling to put her out of the Lloyd Trophy. The eventual reveal that it was all to get their hands on Grandfather Lloyd’s inheritance is no great surprise. So the final lap to win the trophy turns into a race of revenge with Diana that ensures Tricia and her parents inherit what is rightfully theirs at long last. So they finally climb out of the poverty they descended into because of their horrible relatives – who soon clear out of town and their lives, thank goodness. The second, “Bet Gets the Bird!”, ends pretty much on a regular episode. The only indication of finality is Beth saying she’s glad to have Rosy Posy, even if the parrot does get her into trouble sometimes.

Merry and her friends now have a secret friend to help them against the cruelty they are suffering at the hands of the farmer the reformatory has illegally hired them out to. But now Merry fears they have lost him.

A sponsored walk for charity is going hilariously wrong because of Katie’s jinxing. It has progressively put all her fellow walkers out of the walk and eventually she’s the only one left. Then she discovers an old penny-farthing in a rubbish heap and tries to finish the walk that way. Katie the Jinx on a penny-farthing? That sounds like a recipe for disaster, and it certainly is at the finish line. Fortunately the penny-farthing turns out to be so valuable that it makes far more money for the charity than all of Katie and her walkers combined.

Dora’s challenge this week is a mother dog that is grieving because her litter died. Nothing seems to cheer the dog up until another mother dog at the hotel rejects her puppies. The grieving mother takes them over, and all is well with her again.

In “Daddy’s Darling”, Dad accuses Maggie of stealing Lee’s clothes, and right in front of everyone in the class! The teacher soon puts him straight: Lee has given the clothes to the clothing exchange. But of course difficult Dad doesn’t apologise to Maggie, and the incident forces Lee to resign as club president. What’s more, Dad’s pulling her out of school to educate her at home again, which will condemn Lee to loneliness and a stifling home life again.

Still, it’s better than the home life poor “Cinderella Smith” has with her cruel cousins. This week, they’re putting her in leg shackles that she has to wear around the house. They also beat her up when she confronts them about their hating her mother. But why do they hate her mother?

Greg is going on tour. Flo is sneaking along after discovering his manager Vince is trying to cheat him. Vince discovers the stowaway in his van and has Flo dumped on the roadside – in pouring rain.

Dot’s mother tells her to go fly a kite when she asks for extra money. That turns out to be an unwise thing to say, because that is precisely what Dot does. It ends up with her causing big trouble and the kite forms the basis of her punishment.

The text ghost story, “The Ghostly Guardian”, is about a ghost abbot who swore with his dying breath to protect the holy treasures of his church. He haunts “Abbot’s Dyke”, along with his pet owl, where the treasure from his church ended up. A truck driver disregards warnings not to dump rubbish in that dyke but soon discovers otherwise – too late.

 

 

 

Jinty 8 March 1975

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mike White)
  • Tricia’s Tragedy (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Merry at Misery House (writer Terry Magee)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • The Kat and Mouse Game (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Prisoners of Paradise Island (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Daddy’s Darling (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie) – first episode
  • Jinty made it herself… (craft feature on how to make a dressing table tidy)
  • Slave of the Mirror (artist Carlos Freixas)

Katie jinxes herself at the launderette this week – she spilt the water from her goldfish bowl over her eiderdown and it all comes apart when she tries drying it. The understandably tetchy manageress kicks her out unceremoniously and so she needs to hang things up at home. Her Heath Robinsonesque drying lines only succeed in giving the vicar a hot bum and a cold neck, but Katie’s mother is just as glad that the vicar was chased away by this odd combination as it saved her from having to say yes to the favour he was about to ask for. The grateful mum hauls out a ‘do it yourself continental quilt kit’ that Katie can make up and use that night – with the goldfish bowl set far away from the bedside this time! (DIY continental quilt sets – did they ever really exist I wonder?!)

In “Tricia’s Tragedy”, Tricia is blaming herself for her cousin Diana’s accident and subsequent blindness. She’s feeling so guilty that she is even going to withdraw from the important swimming trophy that they are both entered for. Her father is adamant that she shouldn’t do that, and even locks her in until the morning so that she can’t do something rash. That doesn’t stop her and she runs away to Diana’s house – though her father does get her to promise that at least she won’t actually withdraw from the Lloyd Trophy competition herself.

Merry realises what the mysterious joker has been up to over the past few weeks – trying to get Miss Ball sacked. Wardress Stropp (aptly named) turns out to be the mysterious figure behind it all, and soon she is sacked and Ball reinstated. Not that Ball is any more of a fan of Merry than she was before the reinstatement! But Merry doesn’t mind too much because she is inspired by something Miss Ball said – it has given her an idea for a potential escape plan!

Kat opens this episode by hesitating when asked to leap up onto a platform – because she has weakened it herself deliberately, so as to get Mouse to injure herself! Mouse guesses what is behind the hesitation, and it is the end of their friendship. For good? Probably – but Kat is very sneaky and can at least think of ways to turn everyone else against Mouse, even if she can’t get her willing wee slavey back again.

Sally Tuff thinks everything is going her way at last – her school sports mistress Miss Granley has come to find and save them from Paradise Island, so she thinks. But an overheard conversation between Miss Granley and Miss Lush makes Sally question who is on her side.

New story “Daddy’s Darling” starts in this week’s issue. Not many Jinty stories were set during WWII (one exception being “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” by the same creative team, and another being “Song of the Fir Tree“, also drawn by Phil Townsend but with no credited writer at present). Lee Simons is a poor little rich girl – her father is over-protective of her because of the tragic deaths of her older brother who was killed when riding his bike, and her mother who got ill and died rapidly thereafter. Five years later Lee is chauffered around and tutored at home; but the war is about to change things as Mr Simons can no longer arrange everything just as he wishes.

In “Slave of the Mirror” Mia Blake is dead set on getting enough money to pay for modelling classes. At first she tries it the straight way, by doing extra tasks at the boarding house and hoping her sister will give her more pocket money; but soon the sinister girl in the mirror has her going about things in a rather less straightforward way, by sneaking off to a bathing beauty contest that her sister is bound to be up in arms about. She is doing well in the contest too, but Janet is outraged and swears she will soon put a stop to that!

The Four Friends at Spartan School [1971-72]

Sample Images

Spartan School 7aSpartan School 7bSpartan School 7c

Published: Tammy 23 October 1971 to 8 January 1972

Episodes: 12

Artist: Unknown artist – Merry

Writer: Terence Magee

Translations/reprints: None known

Special thanks to Robert Gairey for scans

Plot

Judy Jenkins is a bit uncontrollable at school and likes to play pranks to liven things up and relieve the boredom of school. She isn’t a bad kid; it’s just that her home life is neglectful and unguided what with Mum being dead, Dad being away on business so much, and a housekeeper who looks like she’s pretty much in loco parentis. When Dad gets the latest note from school, he decides that what Judy needs is discipline (not a parent who gives her proper time and attention, saying he can’t do that because of his work). So he sends her to “Spartan School”, a Swiss school that is very strong on discipline, and says it’ll do Judy “a power of good”.

We aren’t so sure about that when Judy and three other new girls (Amanda Rogers, Liz Orton and Sarah Williams) meet school prefect Siddons. Siddons is a cold fish who treats them with such severity she would make a heckling army sergeant look lovable. She says that they are all to take orders from her, and her sharp tongue is nothing compared to what awaits them at Spartan School, which will be “much worse things”. Amanda, who is a weaker character physically and emotionally, is quickly subdued by Siddons’ conduct. But Judy stands up to Siddons and says she won’t be downtrodden by such bullying, and neither Siddons nor the school will frighten her. The foreshadowing of how things are going to go in this story, obviously.

When they arrive at the school, Judy sees some pupils who have just finished their term and are going home. Although they do look disciplined, Judy is disturbed at how frightened and lifeless they are. Siddons tells the new arrivals that they will be just the same by the time Spartan School has finished with them.

Next, Judy meets headmistress Miss Bramble, who has been warned by Siddons that Judy will be troublesome. Miss Bramble tells Judy that she is a disciplinarian who doesn’t hold with “modern soft teaching methods”. She goes on to say rebels do not last long at Spartan School, and Judy will emerge from it a very different person. Siddons has already made it clear this means Judy will emerge just like the broken girls she just saw. The story’s subsequent text boxes say Miss Bramble runs the school like one from the Victorian era, with harsh punishments. Now that has to be an understatement. As we shall see, not even Victorian schools went to the lengths that Miss Bramble does.

Siddons shows the girls their dormitory, and continuing her ruthless army-like grind to break them into the Spartan School discipline. Once alone, the new girls tell Judy disturbing rumours they have heard about Spartan School. Amanda relates a story about a friend who was sent to it. Previously a wild girl, she never laughed or smiled again once she returned from Spartan School.

And the parents? Apparently they have no idea of what the school is like (or don’t believe it). Later we learn that Miss Bramble censors all the girls’ correspondence to their parents regarding her methods. The girls are to write glowing letters saying how happy they are at the school and learning to behave better. And what happens when they go home and tell their parents? By that time, says Miss Bramble, they are completely different people: “obedient and with a respect for authority”. In other words, too frightened to tell anyone.

Judy still isn’t fazed by her first impressions of Spartan School, and neither is Liz, who starts larking around. Unfortunately she accidentally breaks a lightbulb. When Siddons returns, she assumes Judy broke it and Liz doesn’t own up. Judy realises this is because Liz is more scared of the school and Miss Bramble than she is admitting.

In punishment, Judy is forced to stand in the dinner hall with her hands on her head and get no food. The food isn’t bread and gruel as you might expect, but it is bad quality food all the same. From the way the other girls look at Judy while she undergoes this humiliation, she gets the impression that niceness and kindness are unknown qualities at the school. But Judy’s punishment doesn’t end there. When Miss Bramble enters the hall (all pupils have to stand when she does), she inflicts the icing on the cake: Judy has to share a table with Miss Bramble where she gets a meal of bread and water while Miss Bramble gets a gourmet dinner.

Afterwards, Judy says she has never been so humiliated. The other girls are angry with Liz for not owning up and being responsible for what Judy went through. Judy herself is more understanding about Liz being too frightened to own up. Liz feels so guilty about it all that she sneaks to the kitchen to smuggle some proper food to Judy. Liz is disgusted to see how Cook feeds Jason, Miss Bramble’s cat, better than she does the pupils (a plate of the best chicken). Jason’s a real tiger though, and Liz has to run the gauntlet with him in order to get the chicken.

Judy is thrilled with the food and Liz is forgiven. The girls decide to band together in a friendship for standing up against Miss Bramble and Spartan School, and not let it break them.

The first test comes immediately when Miss Bramble and Siddons arrive about the stolen cat’s supper. This time Liz does own up. The girls rally behind her, saying they are all involved, as they do not want Liz to face the punishment alone. Realising the friendship that has formed, Miss Bramble tells them that she does not allow close friendships because these are bad for discipline, and is going to turn them all against each other. To make things even worse, the whole school, teachers and all, have turned against Judy because Miss Bramble is taking her rage over Judy’s defiance out on all of them, even the teachers.

However, Judy is more concerned about Amanda, whose health and nerves aren’t strong. Amanda was sent to Spartan School because her parents thought it would toughen her up, but instead it is making her ill. But the teachers are as cruel as Miss Bramble and show her no compunction or medical attention at all.

In the courtyard, Miss Bramble’s plan to break up the friendship gets underway. She has the girls toss a heavy medicine ball, and the one to drop it will be the victim for the punishment. As the weakening Amanda is bound to be the one, Judy saves her by dropping the ball deliberately and taking the punishment herself. The punishment is putting Judy in the pillory, with the whole school throwing rotten fruit at her. They are only too happy to do so as they have turned against Judy. Siddons orders the three girls to do the same, or Judy will be put in solitary confinement. Their response is to throw the rotten fruit at Siddons. Surprisingly, this results in the whole school rioting against Siddons and the school discipline while the three friends release Judy. But when reinforcements arrive, the other girls go back to their subservient selves and put the blame on the four friends. The four friends are put in solitary confinement, which means being imprisoned in cramped, freezing, rat-infested cells. Amanda emerges even weaker but recovers after a rest, and the others are even more defiant, angry and determined to stick together. Seeing this, Miss Bramble is even more anxious to destroy the friendship because in her view it impedes discipline. This time Siddons offers to have a go at it.

Siddons takes the four friends out for a skiing lesson. There are only enough skis for three, so Judy is excluded. She is directed to go down the slope to check it is clear. She finds it is clear, but when Sarah skis down, a branch hidden on the slope causes Sarah to take a fall. She accuses accuses Judy of putting it there on purpose and turns on her. Judy soon realises Siddons is behind it, and spots the proof – a glove Siddons dropped while taking the branch from the tree – but needs to sneak out and retrieve it if she is to convince Sarah. She succeeds, although she narrowly escapes being caught by Siddons.

Siddons soon realises her trick has failed, but soon has another one brewing: tricking the other friends into distrusting Judy. She forces Amanda to clean windows, despite Amanda telling her that she cannot climb ladders on medical grounds, and her health is worsening. Amanda ends up falling off the ladder, with Judy breaking her fall. Judy covers for Amanda by cleaning the windows herself while the others take Amanda to the dormitory. But she does not realise Siddons is watching and had planned it that way all along. After Judy cleans the windows, Siddons dirties them up again so Amanda will think Judy lied to her. And when Judy sees the look on Amanda’s face when Amanda sees the dirty windows, it looks like Siddons’ trick is going to succeed!

Realising Siddons’ trick, Judy pulls a smokescreen (literally) to cover up the windows looking like they were not cleaned. This succeeds in foiling Siddons and regaining Amanda’s trust. Unfortunately this also earns Judy the punishment that “never fails” at Spartan School – the Iron Mask!

Yes, a real-life iron mask that is straight out of the Middle Ages. Judy is to be locked into this ghastly contraption for two days, with no respite whatsoever. Out of all the tortures that have been inflicted on her so far, this is the one that is the most telling on Judy’s strength. It also makes Judy a target for bullying and cruel tricks from all the other girls, who have grown as heartless and cruel as Siddons because Miss Bramble’s ‘discipline’ has destroyed all sense of humanity in them.

Later, the girls rescue a pigeon from being clubbed to death by Siddons. After they help it to recover, they use it to carry a message for help and hope the message makes its way to a school inspector.

Next day, Judy is almost collapsing under the weight of the iron mask. It makes her so faint that she breaks a flask in science class and sets poisonous fumes off. While the class evacuates, Judy makes her way into the laboratory storeroom in the hope of finding something that will help her get the mask off. She succeeds, and then throws the iron mask down the mountain so Miss Bramble can never use it again.

Terrible punishment for this is inevitable. Sadistic Siddons suggests that the girls be allowed to choose the punishment as they all think Judy set off the poisonous fumes on purpose so she could get rid of the iron mask. Of course Miss Bramble thinks it is a marvellous idea. The girls’ punishment is a hockey match where they all take turns in fouling and brutalising Judy.

But just as this punishment ends, a helicopter arrives. The carrier pigeon did get through and the helicopter has brought in a school inspector, Miss Craig. Miss Craig indeed suspects something is wrong with the school after witnessing the inhumane hockey match and sees Miss Bramble for explanations. Miss Bramble says Jenkins must have goaded them but they will all be punished, while Judy tells Miss Craig that Miss Bramble put them up to it and it’s all part of how she runs the school through terror. Miss Bramble tries to cover up with smooth talk in how her school prides in discipline that turns unruly girls around. Nonetheless, Miss Craig tells Miss Bramble that in view of the note she has received about brutal treatment at the school, she will make a thorough inspection of the school.

The four friends realise Miss Bramble will try to pull the wool over Miss Craig’s eyes – and eventually it looks like she could succeed. They are desperate to find a way to find a way to make her see the truth. They get their chance when Miss Bramble gives the school a film show of documentaries to impress Miss Craig. Judy plants a Charlie Chaplin film (gee, how did that get to Spartan School in the first place?). She shows Miss Craig how the girls are reacting to the film: not laughing or smiling at all. She tells Miss Craig the girls are too cowed and scared to laugh because that’s what Spartan School does to its girls. Miss Craig understands what Judy is driving at, and when Miss Bramble lashes out at Judy in anger, Miss Craig wises up to her at last. She tells Miss Bramble her school will be closed down by tomorrow and gets ready to take Judy away from it immediately.

Miss Bramble is not having that and orders Siddons to get the cine-camera. She then threatens to beat Judy, and Siddons films Miss Craig holding the cane after she snatches it from Miss Bramble to make it look like it was Miss Craig beating Judy. They use it to blackmail Miss Craig into dropping her threat to close down the school. Appalled at how this frame-up could destroy her career. Miss Craig leaves without a murmur. While she leaves, Miss Bramble says to her, “These girls need the treatment I give them. It’s the only thing they understand.”

Afterwards, Miss Bramble gives the four friends an ultimatum: sign a document promising they will never defy her again or face terrible punishment the following day. Naturally, Liz, Judy and Sarah refuse to sign. Unfortunately Amanda’s weak nerves have reached breaking point and she feels she doesn’t have the strength of the others in continuing to defy Miss Bramble. Next day she signs the document while the others get a hosing for refusing. Amanda regrets signing, but has been brought up to keep her word and refuses to go back on it, even if it was forced. Later, the girls notice how Amanda is becoming more and more like the browbeaten, terrified girls.

That night, Amanda runs away. She is in serious danger because a blizzard is looming, but hard-hearted Miss Bramble refuses to organise a search for her. She locks up the three girls in a shed for the night when they try to force her to do so. Later, Miss Bramble grows worried that the girls might report her for refusing to search for Amanda, and Siddons hatches a plan to deal with this.

Next morning, Siddons offers to help the girls escape, claiming that she has seen how wrong Miss Bramble is and sends them off down the mountain in the cable car. When the cable car is half way down the mountain, Siddons cuts through the cable to kill the girls. Miraculously, they survive, and soon discover what Siddons did with the cable.

They make their way to the police station to tell their story and get help for Amanda. But they soon discover that Miss Bramble and Siddons have arranged another nasty surprise for them: they told the police a concocted story about the girls having run away after stealing money, and Siddons had planted the money on them before they left. The police escort the girls to the cells, but Liz helps Sarah and Judy escape by distracting the police with a ‘fainting fit’. Sarah and Judy make a fast getaway on a sleigh and head across the country to shake off the police.

They check out a hotel in the hope the guests found Amanda on the slope. Instead, they find Amanda herself! She says she found a calf on the slopes and they helped keep each other warm in the shelter of some rocks. After the blizzard eased, a farmer found Amanda when he came looking for his calf. He brought Amanda to the hotel, where she has made a good recovery. She phoned her father about Spartan School, who in turn contacted Judy and Sarah’s parents, and Mr Rogers is on his way to collect Amanda.

Just then, the police catch up to the girls, and they have brought Liz as well. But before the police can do anything, there is a sudden alert that an avalanche is imminent and will sweep Spartan School away. They cannot warn the school because the school phone has been cut off. What’s more, another blizzard has started. The girls decide to head back to Spartan School to warn them, making their way through the blizzard.

They make it back to the school. Knowing Miss Bramble is unlikely to listen to them, they decide to sound the old fire bell instead. But Siddons has seen them return and alerts Miss Bramble. They lock the girls in the bell tower. Miss Bramble does not listen to the girls’ warnings about the avalanche. Fortunately, Siddons does.

The girls manage to break down the door by using the bell as a battering ram. The noise the bell makes while they do so rouses the school, which enables Siddons to warn them about the avalanche. The school evacuates, and on the way down the slope, they bump into the rescue party consisting of the police, Judy’s father – and Miss Craig, who found the courage to report Miss Bramble to the authorities. The schoolgirls say they don’t know where the four friends are.

Meanwhile, the four friends have found Miss Bramble knocked out and unconscious on the bell tower steps. They pull her away with a sledge and eventually meet up with the search party. While they do so, the avalanche gets underway and destroys Spartan School.

Miss Bramble regains consciousness and cannot understand how these “wicked girls” were capable of saving her life. The police tell Miss Bramble how Miss Craig has told them about her “strange ideas of discipline”. When Miss Bramble says she was certain discipline would be good for the girls, Miss Craig tells Miss Bramble that discipline is good, but her “harsh tyranny” is not. However, seeing as Spartan School is no more, Miss Craig has little doubt the authorities will take no further action in the matter (whaatt?!?). Nonetheless, Miss Craig tells Miss Bramble that her teaching days are over – “over for ever!” Meanwhile, Siddons slinks away and is not seen again.

The four friends return to England and stay together at a much better and happier school.

Thoughts

This was the first story Terence Magee wrote for girls’ comics. It was also the first to pair up Terence’s writing with the artwork of the unknown artist who is nicknamed “Merry”. This pairing would occur again and again, most prominently in Jinty’s “Merry at Misery House”. Other occasions included the extremely popular Sandie story, “Slave of the Trapeze”.

Girls’ comics often made comment on progressivism vs. authoritarianism in education, particularly on how evil authoritarianism could be if it was taken too far. In so doing, it was linked with the bully teacher/principal theme, which was frequently used to illustrate what not to do in the classroom (or for the creators to purge their own memories of bully teachers?). The theme of tyrannical headmistresses going to extremes with discipline and reacting against modern teaching methods was in Tammy from the first issue with “The Girls of Liberty Lodge”. Here Miss Steele runs her school with such bizarre and harsh discipline that she stages show trials for girls in the school hall in front of the whole school. However, Miss Steele’s nemesis is not a pupil but a teacher, Miss Valentine. When Miss Steele reprimands Miss Valentine for showing a pupil kindness (so kindness is not allowed at this school either) Miss Valentine responds by quitting and establishing a progressive school, Liberty Lodge, in reaction against Miss Steele. From then on, Miss Steele pulls every trick in the book to destroy Liberty Lodge.

Jinty also used the theme on occasion. In one of her holiday specials she ran “The Spoof of St. Elma’s”, where the “cold and unfeeling” Miss Reed takes great pride in making St Elma’s “the harshest and strictest school in the country” (grim teachers and appointing the hardest girls as prefects are among her methods) and has no tolerance whatsoever for modern progressive teaching methods. She vows not to retire until she can find someone who can run the same way, and eventually tries it with a computer named Miss Steele. But it all blows up in her face when the computer malfunctions. As a result, her harsh, unfeeling legacy is completely swept away and progressive, caring teaching comes in with the new headmistress.

A variant Jinty had on the theme was “Children of Edenford”. Headmistress Miss Purity Goodfellow uses drugs to turn her pupils into brainwashed paragons of virtue in the name of perfection – with the full blessing of the girls’ parents.

Jinty’s most striking, and best thought-out example of the theme was “Dracula’s Daughter”, where authoritarian Mr Graves is determined to turn free-and-easy Castlegate into an old-fashioned grammar school. He rams it down everyone’s throats, even the teachers’, saying that he’s the headmaster so everything he says goes, and the teachers are to shape up to it or ship out. Mr Graves also believes fun and play belong in the home and not the classroom, and imposes this on the school too. However, unlike Miss Bramble or Miss Reed, Mr Graves is not a cruel, unfeeling sadist who subjects pupils to mock trials or ladles over-the-top torture with a shovel in the name of discipline. He is a bigot, not sadistic or insane like the headmistresses mentioned here. Ironically, he does have a heart and he shows he can be human when he believes it is appropriate for him to do so. Moreover, Mr Graves ends up becoming less rigid in his beliefs about education and learns to respect progressive education more. Still, everyone at Castlegate is relieved when Mr Graves leaves and goes back to his old grammar after discovering its discipline has slipped to the point of the boys becoming delinquent.

Spartan School is no doubt the most intense and excessive example of progressivism vs. authoritarianism in girls’ comics. Nothing is beyond Miss Bramble in her crusade to turn ‘unruly’ girls into her models of obedient and disciplined girls. However, we suspect discipline is just her excuse and the real motive behind her methods is that she’s a sadist who likes to torture girls emotionally, physically and psychologically. We suspect this even more when Miss Bramble says she has to stop the girls reporting her to the authorities because they would not understand her methods.

The text boxes say that Miss Bramble runs the school as if it were Victorian, but surely not even Victorian schools went as far as Miss Bramble. The girls either emerge as emotionally and psychologically traumatised zombies or like Siddons – unfeeling, bullying monsters with no trace of kindness or humanity to be seen. It is not just unruliness that is beaten out of girls but all trace of kindness, humanity and friendship as well. This is clearly because Miss Bramble does not tolerate tender emotions as she does not have any, and she does not allow friendships because they are building blocks to conspiracy against her discipline. She wants all her girls to be turned into models that are based on her personality. It could well be that Siddons came to Spartan School as an ‘undisciplined’ girl herself, and Miss Bramble’s ideas of discipline turned her into the stone-hearted monster and flunky that she is. As a result, Siddons is capable of anything, even murder. Or maybe she was a genuine badass kid in serious need of straightening out, but just got a whole lot worse at Spartan School. In any case, the four friends are the only oasis of kindness and courage we see in the entire school. Nowhere else is it to be seen.

Miss Bramble seems to ride on the shoulders of neglectful / useless parents who don’t seem to pick up on what’s going on at Spartan School or what their girls have become after they return from the school. Some may even approve of it. Rumours about the school’s cruelty circulate, Amanda herself has seen a damaged girl returning from Spartan School, and girls go home from Spartan School looking broken and frightened, yet nobody seems to step up and look into things. Parents still send their girls to it, believing it will do their girls a world of good. It’s not until Amanda manages to bring an inspector in that the cruelty of the school finally begins to get out. At least the four friends’ parents redeem themselves somewhat when they come in person to form part of the rescue party.

It is a bit annoying that Miss Bramble seems to get off a bit too lightly at the end of the story. Miss Craig takes the view that the authorities will not do much because Spartan School has been destroyed. Oh, come on, this is a woman who’s not only committed physical and psychological abuse against girls but is guilty of attempted murder as well! Shouldn’t there be at least a full public inquiry before deciding what should be done with Miss Bramble? Don’t the parents and pupils get a say in the matter? A lot of readers must have wished Miss Bramble had died in the avalanche or broken her neck on the staircase after reading Miss Craig’s view on what will happen to her. As for Siddons not being seen again after she disappears…well, it does suggest she might have come to a sticky end off-panel. Readers must have hoped for that anyway.

When Judy arrives at Spartan School, it’s where Miss Bramble finally meets her match, much in the way that Misery House does with Merry Summers. Like Merry, Judy refuses to be broken by the cruelties of the institution, finds strength in the only friends she has, and uses her quick wits to get out of the scrapes and dirty tricks that Miss Bramble and Siddons pull on her. As with Merry, Judy’s defiance takes the form of something that flies in the face of Spartan School and defies all attempts to break it. In the case of Merry, it is keeping on smiling and joking, no matter what. In the case of Judy, it is maintaining the four-friend friendship against all of Miss Bramble’s attempts to destroy it. And like Merry, Judy is determined to get word out about the cruelties of Spartan School and get it shut down. Unlike Merry, Judy succeeds on her very first try, although it takes time for help to arrive because of the blackmail Miss Bramble pulls on Miss Craig.

On this blog, Spartan School has been regarded as a forerunner of “Merry at Misery House”. For one thing, it is the same creative team. Parallels between the two stories have been noted above. The cruel institutions are physically destroyed (fire in Misery House, avalanche in Spartan School) as well as being shut down by authorities that have been finally been alerted by unsettling reports. Misery House also resorts to beatings, pillories, unhealthy isolation cells, poor food and other cruelties (but no iron mask, thank goodness) in order to break the protagonist. As with Judy, they also pull blackmail and other dirty tricks in order to isolate the protagonist from her friends and turn them against her. Character-wise, Judy could well be a predecessor of Merry; she likes to play jokes to liven things up a bit, but unwisely does them during class time. Liz is a bit like Merry too; our first impressions of her are that she is a chirpy girl, just like Merry.

In some ways, Spartan School does Judy a lot of good, albeit in spite of itself. Her energies, which went into practical jokes at her previous schools, are rechanneled into bringing down Spartan School and foiling all the tricks that are pulled to destroy the friendship. At the beginning we see a stubborn streak in Judy; once she puts her mind to something, she does it. This would have helped Judy immensely once she became determined not to let anything at Spartan School crush her. We get the impression that Judy emerged as a more toned-down and mature girl. No doubt she emerged as a much stronger and courageous one.

 

Jinty 15 February 1975

Stories in this issue:

  • The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi and Mike White)
  • Tricia’s Tragedy – first episode (artist Ana Rodriguez)
  • Merry at Misery House (unknown artist – Merry; writer Terence Magee)
  • The Kat and Mouse Game (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Prisoners of Paradise Island (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
  • Bird-Girl Brenda (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Always Together… (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
  • Slave of the Mirror (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Jinty Made It Yourself – So Can You! (feature)

This issue is very close to Valentine’s Day, and so it features Katie Jinks receiving an appropriate heart-shaped card. What she doesn’t know is that her friends Liz and Sue are playing a trick on her – but as they soon find out, putting Katie into a romantic daze “means she’s a danger to life and limb! Our lives and our limbs!” How true – Katie jinxes her friends’ attempts to get a date for the Valentine Dance that night, while she herself gets an invite from the dishy lifeguard. Heh heh.

This issue has the first episode of “Tricia’s Tragedy“, following hard on the heels of the previous week’s final episode of the Alan Davidson-written “Jackie’s Two Lives“. It is seems pretty typical that a story by one artist / writer combination is often followed by another story from the same team, so while we do not have any definite indication that this story was also written by Alan Davidson, it seems a good likely hint. Tricia starts off the story by training in the local quarry pool because her family is too poor to use the public baths very often. We are told that if she can manage to win the Lloyd Trophy, then everything could change for her family.  But in the same few pages, her chance to continue using the quarry pool is dashed, by a complaint from the rich side of the family.

Merry is puzzled because someone else is playing practical tricks on the wardens in the reformatory – but they are tricks that go too far and will rebound on the joker. Of course everyone thinks it’s Merry who’s doing it while she knows it’s someone else – but who would have the nerve to do it, and why? Whatever the reasons, it spells trouble for Merry.

Kat is playing horrible tricks on Mouse but she is a careful and thorough worker, so all the ‘accidentally on purpose’ slips that Kat makes are undone by Mouse. The task that Mouse is trying to accomplish is to wash some expensive theatrical costumes, and it all goes off so well that Kat is driven to a desperate step to blacken Mouse’s name. She tries to chuck the hamper in a rubbish truck – but instead puts herself in the path of a passing motorbike, and hurts her leg badly!

Sally Tuff’s hockey team try to leave Paradise Island – they are not exactly prisoners, but they are tricked into staying as Miss Lush fools them into thinking that it doesn’t matter how little they train and how much they eat or drink – they are unbeatable no matter what! Sally knows different, but will she be able to do something about it?

It’s Beth’s birthday in “Always Together…” – as a small girl who doesn’t understand death, she is expecting her mother to come and give her a present, or at least to send her a card. Her brother and sister are working hard to make it a lovely birthday for her, as much as they can… but an unexpected visitor drops the bombshell that makes little Beth believe that her mother truly is dead. It is enough of a shock for her to fall down in a faint. Will the truth kill her, as her sister believes it might?

The girl in the mirror has Mia forging a number of letters, but this time in a good cause – she ends up clearing the Major’s name. Mia has also been noticed as someone who is pretty enough to make a living as a model – we are told this will lead to amazing developments later.

Casey, Come Back! [1979]

Sample Images

Casey Come Back 1Casey Come Back 2Casey Come Back 3

Published: 16 June 1979 – 30 June 1979

Episodes: 3

Artist: Unknown artist “Merry”

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: None

Plot

Josie Stanton has lived and worked on her grandfather’s farm since her parents died, but it’s miserable and lonely living there. Grandfather is a stern man and a real sourpuss who does not show her any affection or appreciation. He treats her like an unpaid labourer, takes her completely for granted, and gives her nothing but work, work, work. Josie’s only friend is the farm dog, Casey, and she does not know what she would do if she ever lost Casey. For this reason she can get quite jealous and possessive if anyone else takes an interest in him.

This happens when Casey and Josie encounter a holidaymaker, Mandy Prescott, who is on a caravan holiday with her parents. Mandy is spoiled, but she’s feeling lonely because she has nobody to talk to on holiday, and welcomes Casey’s company. This makes Josie jealous, but there’s worse to come – the Prescotts ask Granddad to sell Casey to them, and he agrees.

When Josie finds out, she is heartbroken and furious. She goes after the holidaymakers, but they are now leaving. Josie has no clue as to who they are and where they come from, and neither does Granddad. Josie is even more furious with Granddad when he expresses no apology or sympathy for her hurt feelings. The only gesture he makes is offering her some of the money he made from Casey, which Josie of course refuses. He does not listen to her pleas to help find Casey either. He tells her she can always get another dog, so shut up and get on with the chores. That’s the last straw for Josie. She tells him to get another slave and runs off in search of Casey.

Josie has a stroke of luck at Bill’s garage when he happens to mention the holidaymakers. She questions Bill about them. Fortunately Bill did some mechanical work for them and is able to give her their name and address. Josie sells her jacket to catch a train there.

Meanwhile, spoilt Mandy has begun to realise the responsibility of looking after a dog and is not even bothering to walk him. All the same, when Josie turns up, Mandy is not going to give Casey up without a fight. And a fight is precisely what it turns into, right on the doorstep!

However, while the girls are fighting, Casey runs off. And being a country dog, being lost in traffic would be dangerous for him. When Josie tells Mandy this, she is upset and agrees to help search, but in vain. Josie tells Mandy why Casey means so much to her, and Mandy repents taking Casey away from her. She did so because she was jealous of seeing Casey and Josie together and did not understand the circumstances.

Granddad is summoned. He is now deeply sorry for what happened, especially after he hears Josie saying that she thinks she means nothing to him except cheap labour. He really does love her, but it took the shock of her running off to get him to show it.

Casey then returns, and once they realise Casey wants them to share him, it’s agreed he will return to the farm and the Prescotts will visit him every holiday. So Josie returns to a home that is much better than before, and with a new friend in Mandy.

Thoughts

During 1979 Jinty ran several three-part stories that feel underdeveloped and would have been far better stories if they had been given more episodes. This one also feels like it’s over before it’s hardly begun. Though it probably does not have enough steam to stretch out into a standard length serial, a bit more length to turn it into, say, a six-parter like “Food for Fagin”, would have developed the characters more and made the story a far better one.

For example, the story could have developed more insights into the grandfather and why he is so stern towards Josie. Is he just one of those people who are not the demonstrative type and don’t find it easy to express affection? Is it something in his past? Is it sexist attitudes towards females, seeing them as only fit to slave around the house? Or is it something else? And we could also have seen more of just how much life has changed at the farm and how things have improved between Josie and her grandfather.

We get a taste of how Josie’s lonely home life and lack of friends except Casey has bred some unhealthy traits in her, such as her possessiveness and unwillingness to share Casey. There is some hint that her miserable life is turning her into a sourpuss in the eyes of everyone else; for example, Bill tells Josie she ought to smile more than she does. But we don’t know for sure because it’s not explained or developed enough. What does emerge is Josie not only becoming a happier person but learning to show it. Still, more episodes could have developed Josie further. For example, what is her school life like? No schoolmates visit her farm, but does she have any friends at school?

More length could have also developed the emotional elements more. As it is, we can see it has plenty of potential. Although Granddad is not cruel or abusive as some guardians in Jinty serials are, he definitely is thoughtless and insensitive towards Josie. It’s no wonder she thinks he has a heart of stone, couldn’t care less about her, and she is so miserable living with him. It turns out that he does have a heart and loves Josie, but it takes the shock of seeing the consequences of his thoughtlessness to bring it out. Josie and Mandy are both in their own ways miserable people and both seek friends and companionship, with they eventually get in a most ironic way – through Granddad’s thoughtlessness.

Jinty 30 June 1979

Jinty cover 30 June 1979

  • Casey, Come Back! – final episode (unknown artist – Merry)
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Nothing to Sing About (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Keep Your Fingers Crossed! (feature)
  • The Disappearing Dolphin (artist Trine Tinturé)
  • The Hill that Cried – Gypsy Rose story (artist Shirley Bellwood)
  • Some Scarecrow! (Michael Jackson feature)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Beauty on a Budget (feature)

This issue’s cover portrays two water scenes, but they are a complete contrast. In “The Forbidden Garden” it’s a life-or-death situation where Laika and Kara nearly drown in floodwaters, while in “Bizzie Bet and the Easies” it’s fun-and-sun by the sea. And for once Bet scores a final laugh over the Easies.

In “A Girl Called Gulliver” there’s water trouble too, as our last Lilliputians set themselves sailing down the river in an old tea kettle – only to find they forgot to check it was seaworthy first, and it isn’t!

It’s the last episode of “Casey, Come Back!”, one of the three-part stories that appeared in Jinty in 1979 but give the impression they could have done with more prolonged treatment. Next we see the start of the Jinty classic, “Almost Human”, and “Mike and Terry”, Jinty’s response to popular demand for a detective story.

Pandora’s difficulty with maths has forced her hand to use the witchcraft box. But she finds she won’t get her box to work unless she gets herself a familiar, which means swallowing her dislike of cats. So meet Scruffy, the cross-eyed cat who doesn’t like Pandora any more than she likes him.

“The Disappearing Dolphin” leads the scuba divers to exciting archaeological finds. But Mrs Ormerod-Keynes, who is trying to stop the expedition, is not impressed. Now why could that be?

Gypsy Rose is back this week, but it feels like a filler. Gypsy Rose all but disappeared in 1979, making intermittent appearances. She never achieved the long-standing regularity of the Storyteller in June/Tammy. The Gypsy Rose story this week is clearly another recycled Strange Story. A Cornish family are faced with selling their farm, but strange things start to happen when a hill starts crying and wailing…

Alley Cat artist Rob Lee breaks the fourth wall and presents Alley Cat with some tasty treats to cheer him up in the last panel after Alley Cat gets a bit of a disappointment with this week’s episode.

Linette’s actions to shut her father’s music out of her life is really hurting her schoolmates, who are still fans of it. This week she has to change schools as well, but her attitude is making the transition even more difficult.