Tag Archives: Who’s That In My Mirror?

Story theme: Redemption narratives

I recently wrote summary posts about two stories that I called ‘redemption narratives’: “The Girl Who Never Was” and “She Shall Have Music“. That’s a kind of story theme that we can all recognize as being fairly common in girls comics generally: in Jinty there are a number of other examples.  But how does this sort of story work?

Take those two stories as an initial guide: the protagonist is a difficult or disagreeable, probably dislikeable, girl who has some personal failing or issue that drives the story. It’s because of that failing that the story progresses; it may not have been due to something that was her fault that the story started off in the first place, but it is because of her moral or social problem that it continues and develops the way it does. Tina Williams lands in the alternate universe where magic works because of her conceited and annoying ways; Lisa Carstairs’s father doesn’t lose his money because of her, but if she wasn’t so obsessed with continuing her piano playing exactly as before, then she wouldn’t find herself in the same difficulties. It’s not just what happens to the protagonist (or how she is challenged in the story) but how she reacts to it. She has to be ‘the architect of her own misfortunes’, as Mistyfan puts it in her post about another redemption story, “Black Sheep of the Bartons“.

Does the story have to feature some sort of disagreeableness, some sort of outright nastiness or callousness on the part of the protagonist? No: I’d say that you could certainly include ‘guilt’ stories such as “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” and “I’ll Make Up For Mary”. The protagonist here  suffers huge pangs of guilt and despair because of the loss of a loved one – a best friend or a sister in the case of these two stories, but in other cases it can be a parent – a very natural feeling, but the failing here is that she lets those emotions overwhelm her and distort her common sense. The guilty feelings of the protagonist drive the story forward, but this guilt is portrayed throughout as excessive, as an indulgence that the main character should resist. It’s the lengths that their grief drives them to that causes their difficulties in their separate stories.

Also, it’s not just about having an objectionable main character who is nicer by the end of the story. “Curtain of Silence” and “Land of No Tears” are not what I would call redemption narratives, despite having protagonists who start off pretty disagreeable and end up much improved. (Likewise “Battle of the Wills” is not, nor I think “Pandora’s Box”, but sports story “Black Sheep of the Bartons” is one I would class as such: Bev Barton isn’t horrible so much as thoughtless and reckless, but her carelessness nearly brings tragedy to her family.) Why don’t “Curtain of Silence” and “Land of No Tears” count? Because when the girl main characters are swept into their initial circumstances – enslaved by a dictatorial coach, forced into third-class citizenship in a future world – their thoughts are not primarily about how they can continue to maintain their status quo ante but about how they can defeat their antagonist. Yvonne and Cassy aren’t just trying to get back to where they were at the beginning: their story is about a positive rebellion, not a futile rejection of the truth that the outside world is telling them. They end up much nicer than they started out being, but that’s not the whole reason for having the story in the first place – it’s because they have faced extraordinary circumstances which would change anyone by making them realise that some things are bigger than individual concerns.

Does the character who ends up being redeemed have to be the protagonist, or could they be the antagonist or villain? Overall I would say it has to be the protagonist, as the main character that you are supposed to sympathise with and want things to turn out well for, but maybe one counter-example is “Wanda Whiter Than White“. Wanda is not the main character of the story and she makes Susie Foster’s life a misery with her sanctimonious ways. At the end, it is revealed, as Mistyfan explains in her story post, that ‘Wanda’s own past is not as white as she would have us believe. In fact, she is on probation after being caught stealing.’ Rather than this reveal being painted as purely a victory for the main character, it ends up with Wanda being ‘truly redeemed when she tells a white lie to help Susie in return for Susie saving her life’. The reader wasn’t rooting for Wanda’s redemption all along, but it is a satisfying ending nevertheless.

What choices could the writer make that would move the story out of the category of being a redemption narrative? Let’s take Lisa Carstairs’ story as an example. As with the OuBaPo exercises, thinking about how a story could work differently will give us a view on how the stories actually do work.

  • Imagine Lisa’s parents still losing everything at the beginning of the story, and Lisa still losing her piano. The story could then have taken a different turn: rather than being about Lisa’s misguided piano obsession and selfishness, it could have been another kind of story entirely, for instance a mystery story where Lisa finds out that her father’s business partner was a crook who needs to be brought to justice. Perhaps Lisa’s piano playing could help her to find the clues she needs, and her obsession with it could be turned to a good cause in that way, so that she needs no redemption.
  • Or let’s say the story stays as being about Lisa’s obsession with playing piano but it’s portrayed as something not to be frowned on, rather as something acceptable or allowable. How would a story work where she can continue to be focused on playing piano to the exclusion of everything else, including her family? Perhaps her family would have to be a nasty, uncaring one, to make her disinterest acceptable.
  • Or perhaps the story could proceed more or less as it does, but with an unhappy ending where Lisa gets her comeuppance. This would make her into a more of an anti-heroine than normal but would not be unheard of.

Here are the examples I would identify as fitting most neatly into the category of ‘redemption narrative’ (core examples) and as being closely related to this category without necessarily definitely being classed as such (edge cases).

Core examples

  • “Dance Into Darkness” – Della just wants to live her life down at the disco with no regard for other people, but when her wish is granted she eventually discovers there is indeed more to life than her own self-interest.
  • There are a number of stories that are driven by a bereavement: the main character makes poor decisions as a result of her strong emotions of grief and anger because she is afraid of being hurt again. “The Ghost Dancer” is one of these, as is “Nothing to Sing About”, but of course “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” and “I’ll Make Up For Mary” are the strongest examples.
  • “The Girl Who Never Was” – discussed above
  • “She Shall Have Music” – discussed above
  • I said above that I thought that it needs to be the protagonist who is redeemed, not one of the other characters. In “Go On, Hate Me!” the antagonist is driven by grief into bullying the protagonist but in the end all is cleared and the antagonist is redeemed, so I would be tempted to class this alongside “Wanda Whiter Than White” as a clear example of this kind.
  • Jackie’s Two Lives” is more about the perils of wish-fulfilment, but Jackie’s snobbishness and the fact she is ashamed of her own family is definitely a character flaw that drives the story and she is cured of it at the end.
  • “Left-Out Linda” develops the redemption pretty well by recognizing that you can’t usually turn around your life by yourself: you have to have some help.
  • “Paula’s Puppets”: Paula has to learn to forgive her enemies rather than attacking them via the magical help she has been given.
  • “Tearaway Trisha”: Trisha’s recklessness has caused a serious accident; she tries to make amends but has to change her own character in order to do so.
  • “Valley of Shining Mist” has a clearly didactic message about the improving aspect of high culture: by playing the violin, Debbie will transcend the impact of her abusive family, who are low-class in their lack of culture and their morality.
  • In “Who’s That In My Mirror?” the protagonist’s selfish nature is made very literally visible and becomes more and more so until finally she is driven to renouncing it.
  • Worlds Apart” is the ultimate morality tale – one by one, six girls are shown the worst outcomes possible for each of their specific character flaws, and they have a chance to repent. The psychological development is minimal but the impact of the story was very dramatic.

Edge cases

  • “Fancy Free “- I know the main character is so independent that this may well be characterised as a fault, but I don’t really quite remember enough about the story to say whether it is the main thing that drives the whole plot.
  • The Four Footed Friends” – arguably another case where someone other than the protagonist ends up being redeemed, though it all feels a little sudden. “Hettie High-and-Mighty” likewise features a fairly sudden change of heart on the part of an antagonist who has mostly been about making  the protagonist’s life a misery until that point. I don’t think “The Kat And Mouse Game” quite counts, either: Kat may perhaps have realised the error of her ways at the end of the story, but will her change of heart actually stick?
  • I haven’t really made my mind up about “Gwen’s Stolen Glory” – it feels like it is mostly a story about deception, though clearly once Gwen owns up to the big lie this is a kind of redemption of her former deception.
  • In “Kerry In The Clouds”, Kerry is a day-dreamer imposed upon by a woman motivated by her own unfriendly concerns. Kerry’s day-dreaming nature is cured by the end of the story, but I don’t feel the main driver of the narrative was to improve her character.
  • The main character in “Mark of the Witch!” is hot-tempered and angry at all around her, and she comes to seek a more peaceful set of emotions by the end of the story. However, so much of her story is about the persecution and abuse that her neighbours visit on her that I don’t see her story being primarily about her renouncing her hot-headed ways.
  • I’m not sure about “Pandora’s Box” and whether it counts or not. Pandora’s witchy aunt does chide her at the beginning about being too cock-sure about her talents and says that she will need to use magic sooner or later, and this is all true: but I’m not sure what sort of morality story that adds up to – not a conventional one at any rate! The main nod in this story to more conventional morality is the fact that Pandora goes from disinterest in the pet she is stuck with (her black cat familiar, Scruffy) to loving him dearly and giving up her heart’s desire in order to save his life.

One last question struck me when thinking about this. What sort of things might the protagonist have done that means she needs to go through this process of redemption in the first place? Clearly it must be something negative: the story has a moral imperative of some sort, warning readers against some kinds of behaviour. But at the same time, some things would be beyond the pale of course, and would mean that any character doing that would be irredeemable. (There might therefore be some useful comparisons made with story villains: what does their villainy consist of?) If a character killed or seriously hurt someone on purpose then that would be beyond the pale: there are a number of villains who have gone this far, sometimes with a laugh on their cruel lips, but it would be hard to imagine that a girl protagonist could do this and still recover the moral high ground at the end of the story.

In the stories above it looks like the sort of wrong-doing that needs castigating but is still redeemable is often about emotional warmth and consideration for others – it’s not about ambition (by itself) or cleverness (by itself) for instance. An arrogant protagonist can still be the heroine, but if she is cold, selfish, or inconsiderate then that’s a good signal that this is a character marked down for improvement – by whatever means necessary. Preferably it will be a Shakespearean denouement, whereby her own moral failing brings about such a huge disaster that she has no option but to change her ways! And being too afraid to risk emotional commitment comes in for a bit of a kicking too, via the guilt / grief stories. The obvious next question: is this moral imperative specific to British girls comics? Do UK boys comics have redemption narratives too? Or those in other countries? My pal Lee Brimmicombe-Wood reckons that Japan’s flourishing manga industry has many stories about mavericks who insist on going their own ways – but in that industry’s story constraints, the mavericks are always right and never forced to realise that actually, there was a reason why everyone was telling them they were going about things the wrong way…

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What makes a story work, pt 2?

Following on from my earlier post on how we can sensibly say that a story works (or doesn’t), I want to look at the elements that can add to, or detract from, how well a story works. These are elements that are mostly down to decisions made by the writer or the artist (or both), though editorial decisions can also be relevant. For each of the elements, therefore, I will consider what the balance of responsibilities tends to be, as well as discussing the nature of each of them.

  • Plot. What actually happens? How well tied-together are the events of the story, and how naturally or consistently do they flow from earlier ones? Is it a very run-of-the-mill plot or does it have innovative elements? Is the plot simple or convoluted, full of sidelines or straightforward? In particular, does the ending follow well from the main part of the action or does it undercut the earlier events, for instance through by use of a deus ex machina to wrap everything up neatly and too-quickly?
    • This lies mostly in the writer’s corner, though the editorial department may make suggestions.
    • Stronger: “Concrete Surfer” is a tightly-plotted story where everything that happens drives the action forwards to the skate-off between rivals and the subsequent denouement. Not a moment of action is wasted and it all hangs together.
    • Weaker: in “Fran of the Floods” lots of things happen, but in a quite meandering structure with sub-plots that you can get lost in. The later happenings are not very tightly tied into the earlier events, though there is a wrap-up at the end of the story. This is a danger for road-trip sort of stories.
  • Title. Is the title overly-explanatory or does it promise without revealing too much? Is it ho-hum or unusual?
    • As far as we know, coming up with the story’s title seems to have been part of the writer’s tasks. Sometimes it might have been changed by the editorial department either before publication or on reprint / translation.
    • Stronger: There are lots of really evocative story titles in Jinty. Examples like “Girl The World Forgot” or “Golden Dolly, Death Dust!” are suggestive without giving the whole game away.
    • Weaker: the formula girl’s name + descriptive reference was over-used in girls’ comics generally and feels hackneyed as a result. “Badgered Belinda”, “Angela Angel-Face”, “Diving Belle” are examples in Jinty, but looking at a single issue of Lindy the ratio of such titles seemed considerably higher so things could have been much worse!
  • Theme. Is the theme a well-trodden one such as the Slave or Cinderella themes? Is it an intrinsically unlikely one such as the Exploited Amnesiac? In either case it probably needs something extra to make it stand out.
    • Again as far as we know the story theme was mostly under the control of the writer, though the editorial office would, according to Pat Mills, aim to have specific themes represented such as the two mentioned above. Some writers would focus preferentially on certain themes, so we know that Alison Christie wrote a number of heart-tugging stories with Runaways or Guilt Complexes. The art style (discussed in the next post) was probably chosen to match the theme as far as possible, though of course it is entirely possible that the availability of an artist was used to inspire a writer on occasion.
    • Stronger: I wouldn’t say it is that clear that one theme is stronger than another but there is a lot of personal preference that will govern whether a story works for an individual reader or not.
    • Weaker: as mentioned above, some themes such as the Exploited Amnesiac are so intrinsically unlikely and indeed rather melodramatic and silly that it means that the story is battling against something of a headwind.
  • Pacing. Girls (and boys) comics of this era typically feature fast-paced stories, with cliff-hangers at the end of each episode. The conventions of this sort of story are rather different from Japanese manga, where the action tends to take place over a far greater number of pages. If a story is compressed more than usual for this genre it would feel confusing, or if it was too slow-paced likewise it could throw readers off.
    • This lies solidly in the remit of the writer, though the page layout and composition could have some effect too.
    • Stronger: “Concrete Surfer” has some of the best pacing I can immediately think of: it builds evenly and the momentum never stops. Every panel and page builds on the last.
    • Weaker: the pacing on “Freda’s Fortune” makes it an odd read, with much of the plot line of a normal horse & rival story compressed into two 6-page episodes.
  • Tone. Is the story light and frothy, silly, adventurous, realistic, tear-jerking, hard, gritty, subversive, or even sadistic? The dialogue is a big part of what sets the tone so I am including it in this element, though others might prefer to separate it out.
    • The style set by the comic overall is very linked to the tone of the individual stories inside; whether this is mostly to do with editorial choices as to which stories to publish or writers to commission, clearly the editorial focus has a part to play. Pat Mills reckons that there is a big divide between working class comics (Tammy, Misty, Jinty, Pink, and most of Bunty) and middle-class, ‘safe’ comics, and that this divide was purposeful, to try to move past the ‘old hat’ style of the past. The individual writer is the prime mover of the tone of the story but the artist also has an important role to play as the writing and art must of course match. Additionally, the artist is in a position to add a lot of background detail in their art, to really bring things to life (John Armstrong draws graffiti in the background of “Moonchild”, and Jim Baikie draws details from the London Underground of the 70s or earlier in his recreation of the futuristic world of “The Forbidden Garden”.)
    • Stronger: Of course one tone is not in itself ‘better’ than another, but some are more unusual or more consistently applied throughout. “Knight and Day” is the epitome of a gritty and realistic story of physical and emotional abuse within a family, played seriously and with enough emotional effect to convince the reader.
    • Weaker: In the link above, Pat Mills says that light and frothy stories are ‘safe’ and boring to the reader. This is arguable, but certainly a light and frothy story such as “The Perfect Princess” is by its nature one that is easier to dismiss the more emotional or tear-jerking tales. Perhaps more fatal to a story is a sudden shift in tone, such as Lorrbot mentions having happened in “Balloon of Doom” in her comment on the last post.
  • Resonance. I’m stretching a bit things here in using this term in this way. What I mean is whether the story has a certain mythic resonance, a re-use (in a purposeful way) of cultural material. Mermaids, spinning wheels, magic mirrors, wicked and cruel women: these all have resonance as they have been used in countless stories to tell us how to behave or what to be careful of. Re-use of a current successful story from a different medium also gives the comics narrative a chance to grab some resonance from elsewhere.
    • I am assuming this is mostly in the care of the writer, though of course the artist will be able to add in many visual elements that will strengthen the references.
    • Stronger: “Who’s That In My Mirror?” combines ideas of vanity, moral peril, and the idea that a mirror can hold a reflection of a kind of truth. It has echoes of “The Picture of Dorian Grey” and of the Andersen tale “The Shadow” – and its denouement is as spooky as anything in comics.
    • Weaker: There are so damned many stories of haunted mirrors that it’s very easy for the shine to wear off! For me, “The Venetian Looking-Glass” was just another one of many: the element of resonance had become repetition.
  • Audacity. This is sort of the flip side of Resonance, and again I am stretching things a bit in using this term in this way. By this I mean the ‘WTF’ element where you can’t quite believe that anyone dared to put that on the page! It is the element of surprise and of novelty, but it is quite a delicate balancing act.
    • The written story bears a lot of the responsibility for this element but the art is key in making sure that the reader’s suspension of disbelief doesn’t flag. The editorial and publishing teams are the ones who would be on the bosses’ carpet if it all goes horribly wrong (as it did for boys’ comic Action after questions were asked in parliament), so they are part of the mix too.
    • Stronger: “Worlds Apart” is one of the most audacious stories in girls’ comics, with each protagonist having to die in grotesque and excessive ways in order for them to progress to the next scenario. “Children of Edenford” is also outrageous but a bit more quietly so as it criticises the shibboleth of social mobility ahead of the tide of Thatcherism and yuppiedom to come.
    • Weaker: When audacity tips the scales of suspension of disbelief, the wheels come off. For me, the cruelties at the end of “Slave of the Swan” and “The Slave of Form 3B” push it a step too far.

To follow in the next post, discussions on:

  • Art quality
  • Art style
  • Character design
  • Page layout / composition
  • Art incidental details
  • Design / font / lettering
  • Format / edition

Stories translated into Dutch

Following up on the previous post on European Translations, Sleuth from Catawiki has kindly sent me a list she has prepared of Jinty stories which were translated into Dutch. (See also some comments from her in that post, about Dutch translations.) They were mostly published in the weekly comic Tina and/or in the reprint album format Tina Topstrip. The list below shows the original title, followed by the title in the Dutch translation, with a literal translation in [square brackets] where appropriate, and then the details of the publication that the translation appeared in. It is ordered by date of original publication.

  • Gwen’s Stolen Glory (1974): De droom van een ander [Someone else’s dream] (in: Tina Club 1975-2)
  • Dora Dogsbody (1974-76): Hilda Hondemoppie (in: Tina 1974)
  • Gail’s Indian Necklace (1974): Anak-Har-Li [the name of the Indian deity on the necklace] (in: Tina Club 1975-01)
  • Always Together (1974): Voor altijd samen (in: Tina 1985/86)
  • Wild Horse Summer (1974): De zomer van het witte paard [White Horse Summer] (in: Tina 1976, Tina Topstrip 15 (1980))
  • Left-Out Linda (1974): Linda (in: Tina 1975/76)
  • Wenna the Witch (1974): Wenna de heks (in: Tina 1976, Tina Topstrip 34, 1981)
  • Slave of the Mirror (1975): De spiegel met de slangen [The Snakes Mirror] (in: Tina 1976)
  • The Kat and Mouse Game (1975): Als kat en muis [Like cat and mouse] (in: Tina 1985)
  • Tricia’s Tragedy (1975): Tineke – Strijd om de Lankman-trofee [Tineke – Fighting for the Lankman Trophy] (in: Tina 1975/76, Tina Topstrip 18 (1980)).
  • The Valley of the Shining Mist (1975): Het dal van de glanzende nevel (in: Tina 1977)
  • Barracuda Bay (1975): Susan Stevens – Barracudabaai (in: Tina 1971); reprint from June & School Friend 1970.
  • The Haunting of Hazel: Hazel en haar berggeest [Hazel and her Mountain Ghost] (in: Tina 1976/77, Tina Topstrip 27 (1981))
  • For Peter’s Sake! (1976): De opdracht van Josefien [Josephine’s Assignment] (in: Tina Boelboek 5 (1985))
  • The Slave of Form 3B (1976): In de ban van Isabel [Under Isabel’s Spell] (in: Groot Tina Zomerboek 1984-2)
  • Then there were 3 … (1976): Toen waren er nog maar drie (in: Groot Tina Lenteboek 1982-1
  • Horse from the Sea (1976): De legende van het witte paard [The Legend of the White Horse] (in: Tina 1985)
  • Snobby Shirl the Shoeshine Girl! (1976): Freule Frederique [Lady Frederique] (in: Tina 1979)
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (1976): Steffie’s hart van steen (in: Tina 1986). Reprint in Tammy 1984
  • Girl in a Bubble (1976): Gevangen in een luchtbel [Prisoner in a Bubble] (in: Tina 1977, Tina Topstrip 29, 1981).
  • Sceptre of the Toltecs (1977): De scepter van de Tolteken (in: Tina 1978; Tina Topstrip 44, 1982)
  • The Mystery of Martine (1976-77): De dubbelrol van Martine [Martine’s Double Role] (in: Tina 1978).
  • Mark of the Witch! (1977): Het teken van de heks (in: Tina 1982/83)
  • Freda, False Friend (1977): Frieda, de valse vriendin (in: Tina 1978/79)
  • Spell of the Spinning Wheel (1977): De betovering van het spinnewiel (in: Tina 1978; Tina Topstrip 42, 1982)
  • The Darkening Journey (1977): Samen door het duister [Through the Darkness Together] (in: Tina 1981/82)
  • Creepy Crawley (1977): In de macht/ban van een broche [Under the Spell of a Brooch] (In: Tina 1979; Tina Topstrip 60, 1984)
  • Kerry in the Clouds (1977): Klaartje in de wolken (in: Tina 1978)
  • The Robot Who Cried (1977): Robot L4A ontsnapt! [Robot Elvira Gets Away] (in: Tina 1985/86).
  • Curtain of Silence (1977): Achter het stille gordijn [Behind the Silent Curtain] (in: Tina 1978/79, Tina Topstrip 52, 1983)
  • Fran’ll Fix it! (1977; 1978-79): short story 3/4; Annabel versiert ‘t wel [Annabel will fix it]; episodes in Tina from 1983 till 1994; there were also “Dutch” episodes written by Bas van der Horst and drawn by Comos, and there is an episode in 1994 written by Ian Mennell and drawn by Comos.
  • Who’s That in My Mirror? (1977): Het spookbeeld in de spiegel [The Ghost in the Mirror] (in: Tina 1980)
  • Cursed to be a Coward! (1977): Zoals de waarzegster voorspelde [Like the Fortune-Teller Predicted] (in: Tina 1979, Tina Topstrip 49, 1983)
  • Destiny Brown (1977): De vreemde visioenen van Seventa Smit [Seventa Smit’s Strange Visions] (in: Tina 1980)
  • The Goose Girl (1977): not translated directly but the storyline was probably used for Maartje, het ganzenmeisje [Marge, the Goose Girl] in Tina 1979, art by Piet Wijn; Tina Topstrip 40, 1982).
  • Stage Fright! (1977): De gevangene van Valckensteyn [Prisoner of Valckensteyn/Falconstone] (in: Tina 1981)
  • Guardian of White Horse Hill (1977): Epona, wachter van de paardenvallei [Epona, Guardian of the Horse Valley] (in: Tina 1978; Tina Topstrip 37, 1982)
  • Land of No Tears (1977-78): Wereld zonder tranen [World of No Tears] (in: Groot Tina Lenteboek 1983-1)
  • Come into My Parlour (1977-78): Kom maar in mijn web [Just Come into My Web] (in: Groot Tina Boek 1981-3)
  • Race for a Fortune (1977-78): Om het fortuin van oom Archibald [Race for Uncle Archibald’s Fortune] (in: Tina 1980)
  • Concrete Surfer (1977-78): Ik heb altijd m’n skateboard nog! [At least I’ve still got my skateboard] (in: Tina 1980)
  • Paula’s Puppets (1978): De poppen van Petra [Petra’s Puppets] (in: Tina 1979, Tina Topstrip 54, 1983). Perhaps they changed the name because there was a Stewardess Paula strip in Tina at the time.
  • Slave of the Swan (1978): De wraak van de Zwaan [Revenge of the Swan] (in: Tina 1980)
  • The Birds (1978): De vogels (in: Groot Tina Boek 1978 winter).
  • Clancy on Trial (1978): Nancy op proef [Nancy on Trial – the name Clancy is highly unusual in the Netherlands] (in: Tina 1979)
  • Wild Rose (1978): Waar hoor ik thuis? [Where do I belong?] (in: Tina 1980)
  • 7 Steps to the Sisterhood (1978): Gevaar loert op Lansdael [Danger at Lansdael] (in: Tina 1980)
  • The Human Zoo (1978): Als beesten in een kooi [Like Animals in a Cage] (in: Tina 1986). Reprint in Tammy 1982.
  • No Cheers for Cherry (1978): Geen applaus voor Sandra [No Applause for Sandra] (in: Groot Tina Zomerboek 1983-2)
  • The Girl Who Never Was (1979): De verbanning van Irma Ijsinga [Irma Ijsinga’s Banishment] (in: Tina 1981)
  • Sea-Sister (1979): Gevangene van de zee [Prisoner of the Sea] (in: Tina 1989)
  • The Forbidden Garden (1979): De verboden tuin (in: Tina 1982/83). Reprint in Tammy 1984
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (1979): Dina Doe douwt door [Dinah Do Pushes Through] (just one episode, in: Groot Tina Lenteboek 1982-1).
  • Almost Human (1979): De verloren planeet [The Lost Planet] (in: Tina 1984)
  • Village of Fame (1979): Het dorp waar nooit ‘ns iets gebeurde [The Village Where Nothing Ever Happened] (in: Tina 1982)
  • Combing Her Golden Hair (1979): Kirsten, kam je gouden lokken [Kirsten, Comb Your Golden Locks] (in: Tina 1981, Tina Topstrip 64, 1985: Kam je gouden lokken)
  • Waves of Fear (1979): In een golf van angst [In a Wave of Fear] (in: Tina 1983)
  • White Water (1979-80): Wild Water [Wild Water] (in: Tina 1984)
  • When Statues Walk… (1979-80): De wachters van Thor [Thor’s Guardians] (in: Tina 1981/82, Tina Topstrip 71, 1985)
  • The Venetian Looking Glass (1980): Het gezicht in de spiegel [The Face in the Mirror] (in: Tina 1983)
  • Seulah the Seal (1979-80): Sjoela de zeehond (in: Tina 1980/81, little booklets in black and white that came as a free gift, stapled in the middle of a Tina).
  • A Spell of Trouble (1980): Anne Tanne Toverheks [Anne Tanne Sorceress, a sort of nursery rhyme name] (in: Tina 1984/85)
  • Girl the World Forgot (1980): Door iedereen vergeten [Forgotten by everyone] (in: Tina 1987)
  • The Ghost Dancer (1981): Dansen in het maanlicht [Dancing in the Moonlight] (in: Tina 1983)
  • Holiday Hideaway (1981): Wie niet weg is, is gezien [If you’re not gone, you’re seen – a sentence children use in hide-and-seek] (in: Tina 1982)
  • Freda’s Fortune (1981): Could be: Fortuin voor Floortje [A Fortune for Florrie] (in: Groot Tina Herfstboek 1983-3)
  • Airgirl Emma’s Adventure (reprint from June 1969, in Jinty Holiday Special 1975): Short story 16; Emma zoekt het hogerop [Emma takes it higher up] (in: Tina 1970)

Various of the stories translated in Tina were also reprinted in the Indonesian title Nina (of course Indonesia is a former Dutch colony, making for a clear link). These will be listed on a new reference page for Translations into Indonesian.

This long list enables us to see how very popular some creators were – for instance, a large number of Jim Baikie and Phil Gascoine stories are included (though not all, by any means). Of course, these were also the most prolific of Jinty artists too.

Many stories were translated very shortly after initial publication, and then reprinted in album form some time later. There was also a ‘second round’ of translation work done after Jinty ceased publication, to go back and pick some of the earlier stories that had not been selected earlier. This was the case with “Always Together” and “The Kat and Mouse Game”, for instance.

Many but by no means all of the story titles were translated fairly literally or exactly, though the main character’s name was almost invariably exchanged for another one. Some titles ended up particularly poetical or neat in translation: “A Spell of Trouble” and “Holiday Hideaway” perhaps benefit most from their translated titles. Of course, there are also some losers: I think “The Human Zoo” and “The Girl Who Never Was” ended up with less resonant titles through the process.

A wide range of stories were translated: spooky stories, humour stories, science fiction, adventure, sports stories. There are some omissions that I’m surprised by, though of course the editors had to pick and choose from so much that was available. “Fran of the Floods” was probably too long (see Marc’s comment about the length of stories selected for translation). No Gypsy Rose stories were selected – maybe they didn’t want a storyteller, ‘grab-bag’ approach? I am however quite surprised at the omission of the excellent “Children of Edenford” (1979). Could it have been too subversive a story, with its underlying theme of adults undermining their position of trust by hypnotizing children in order to control their moral development? The similarly-themed “Prisoner of the Bell” was also not translated. Of course this is rather a guess! At the end of the day I’m sure there were just more stories to choose from than there were spaces for publication.

For reference, I also include a complete list of stories published in the album format Tina Topstrip (71 albums in total). This gives us a view of how many of the reprinted stories deemed worthy of collection came from which original title. Note that some of the stories in this album format were themselves originally written in Dutch as they are credited to a Dutch writer. (NB I will add this to the new page created for Translations into Dutch)

  1. Becky Never Saw The Ball
  2. Twinkle, Twinkle, Daisy Star
  3. Wee Sue
  4. Het geheim van oom Robert (original story in Dutch)
  5. Kimmy op de modetoer (original title unknown)
  6. Marcella het circuskind (original title unknown)
  7. Moses and Me
  8. Peggy en Jeroen (Patty’s World story)
  9. Anja – Dorp in gevaar (original title unknown)
  10. Het lied van de rivier (Patty and the Big Silver Bull Band story, original in Dutch)
  11. Sonja en de mysterieuze zwemcoach (I suspect this is a translation as no writer is given)
  12. De man in het koetshuis (original story in Dutch)
  13. Linda’s verdriet (original title unknown, from Tammy)
  14. Het circus komt (original story in Dutch)
  15. Wild Horse Summer
  16. Noortje (original story in Dutch)
  17. Ruzie om Jeroen (Patty’s World story)
  18. Tricia’s Tragedy
  19. Het lied van de angst (Patty and the Big Silver Bull Band story, original in Dutch)
  20. Silver Is A Star (from Sandie)

Jinty 24 September 1977

Jinty cover 11

A cover featuring two disturbing panels from the inside, and the colour combinations of red, black and burgundy make it even stronger.

“Battle of the Wills” reaches its penultimate episode and it contains one of the most ruthless acts ever seen in Jinty. Dr Morrison eliminates the cloned Kate in front of an audience of scientists with her reversal machine in order to prove her duplicating machine works. Everyone is horrified, but not the cold-blooded Dr Morrison, who only cares about proving her greatness.

It is also the penultimate episode of “Who’s That in My Mirror?”. The ghastly face of Magda’s own evil is getting worse and worse. Magda knows what must be done, but can’t do it, and traces of her old scheming ways still linger as well. So it is not surprising that in the final panel the evil face now threatens to do its worst.

“Destiny Brown” is in big trouble in school because she misconstrued her vision and plays truant. While doing so, she gets another vision of her runaway father. But a trip to Wales threatens her plans to search for him.

In “The Goose Girl”, Mum is getting really impossible with her bird-hating attitude and it is interfering with Brodie’s recovery. At the end of the episode, Mum goes too far – she locks Brodie in a shed and is going to arrange for the Colonel to dispose of him!

Linda reluctantly agrees to Lord Banbury’s condition to train as an actress under his wardship for the sake of her father. But the creepy old house she has to live in is really giving her “Stage Fright!”.

Marnie, the girl who is “Cursed to be a Coward!”, finds a swimming pool where she can train in without fear of the prophecy. And at the end of the episode she decides to tell her trainer, Miss Frame, why she has been so terrified of swimming lately. In the next episode we will see how much it helps.

Fran enlists the help of a bloodhound to find the missing school trophy, but he’s causing even more mayhem. It culminates when he has the headmistress standing on her desk in fright! The blurb for next week assures us that Fran will get herself out of this ‘fix’, so that’s a relief.

Jinty 10 September 1977

Jinty cover 4

A cover featuring two of the supernatural- themed stories running in Jinty at the time, both with foreboding overtones. The panel featuring laughs with Alley Cat is quite a contrast.

In “Destiny Brown”, people are ostracising Destiny because her father has been connected to a robbery and bullies pick on her at school. But their bullying puts a girl’s life in danger – as Destiny foresaw with her second sight. In “Who’s That in My Mirror?”, Magda smashes the mirror in the hope this will free her from that ugly face that is a reflection of her own devil heart. But she is puzzled as to why the mirror is putting up no resistance to being smashed after resisting her attempts to get rid of it. Perhaps she should have taken the hint and put the rock down. But instead the drama of the story is going to accelerate towards its climax.

“The Goose Girl” learns why her mother hates birds. And now all readers must be more annoyed with the mother than ever. Hating all birds because her husband was shot while defending them from hunters? And now she’s helping those very same hunters who killed her husband? That woman really needs to get her head examined! Unfortunately that’s not going to happen, and her attitude is going to cause even more problems.

Marnie tries to get the curse lifted in “Cursed to be a Coward”. But instead she ends up with Madam Leo terrorising her over it and scaring the living daylights out of her just as she is about to do a high dive. Not a good combination, and this is just what that demented Madam Leo intends. Another Jinty character in serious need of a psychiatrist.

Fran the Fixer ropes some girls into shifting the grand piano for the Colonel. And she fixes a half holiday for the girls into the bargain!

It’s the last episode of “A Boy Like Bobby”. Next week Phil Townsend starts on his new Jinty story, “Stage Fright!”. Jinty is keeping her artists busy again.

“The Battle of the Wills” is put aside as the ballet Kate goes in search of the gymnast Kate, whom she thinks is in trouble. And she finds out how much Dr Morrison really cares about the cloned Kate; as far as the doctor is concerned, it’s “just an interesting experiment”. But little does ballet Kate know how much it is a foreshadowing of one of the most cold-blooded acts ever to be seen in girls’ comics.

Jinty 3 September 1977

Jinty cover 2

A strong cover which makes effective use of purple, orange, red and green in both panels to announce the return of Gypsy Rose and the appearance of the 1978 Jinty annual.

The theme of foretelling and prophecy-making established on the cover runs through in several of the stories. “Destiny Brown” foretells a bank robbery – but does not foretell her father will be accused of complicity in it and is now wanted by the police! The “blue water” prophecy in “Cursed to be a Coward!” is making Marnie more and more terrified of water and everyone is getting fed up with her because they don’t understand her problem and she won’t explain. At the end of the episode, Marnie resolves to fight back at the curse of drowning apparently laid on her by the sinister fortune teller who could be the antithesis to Gypsy Rose. But how do you fight a curse? And in “Who’s That in My Mirror?”, Magda finally realises the evil face in her mirror is reflecting her scheming nature and resolves to change. But she gets a sneering warning from the face that it won’t be as easy as that, and this also proves prophetic.

Elsewhere, it’s part two of the “The Goose Girl”, and now we see why the story is called that when Glenda and her mother move to their new home. Glenda takes a stand against goose hunters (little realising how history is repeating itself there) and starts nursing a goose they wounded.

For “Fran’ll Fix It!”, Fran is presented with a really challenging fix – shifting a grand piano to the music shop in town for Colonel Wellington, a school governor. And she has to do it without a truck because of a strike. But it’s that or be punished for giving him cheek and then dropping a bell on his foot. Fran is known for dropping clangers with her fixing, but that’s ridiculous….

In “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!”, Sue and Henrietta also do some fixing – on a twister who sells phoney magic plant food. Henrietta fixes him in an unusual ‘punishment fitting the crime’ way – making him think his potion really does work magic on plants!

A friendly girl finally discovers that there are two Kates in “Battle of the Wills”. It’s still not clear which Kate is the original and which is the clone. But at least the feud between the two Kates is set aside when one Kate realises the other Kate is in trouble and decides to help.

It’s the penultimate episode of “A Boy Like Bobby”. Tommy runs away and Tessa and Bobby’s hunt for him results in him putting himself in terrible danger. How will this end the story next week?

 

 

Jinty 27 August 1977

Jinty cover 10

  • Destiny Brown – first episode (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Who’s That in My Mirror? (artist Tom Hurst)
  • Alley Cat
  • Kermit Presents…Prizes! (competition)
  • The Goose Girl – first episode (artist Keith Robson, writer Alison Christie)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Cursed to be a Coward! (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Alison Christie)
  • A Boy Like Bobby (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Battle of the Wills (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Takin’ It Easy… the Stars’ Way! (feature)
  • Cut out a Cape! (feature)

The cover announces the start of one new story, “Destiny Brown”,  but there is not even a mention of the other story starting, “The Goose Girl”. Presumably its space has been taken up by the competition being announced on the cover. Just answer two Muppet questions and you go into a draw to win a copy of the first Muppet album. But why is “Who’s That in My Mirror?” taking what could easily have been the space to announce the start of “The Goose Girl”?

“Destiny Brown” is the seventh child of a seventh child, so it’s no surprise that she suddenly develops psychic powers. And we have a new ‘parent problem’ story with “The Goose Girl”. Glenda Noble and her mother have been feuding over birds for years; Glenda loves them while her mother hates them. Moreover, she is the sort of mother who won’t let Glenda be herself and keeps pushing Glenda in the wrong direction. But Glenda is a rebel and constantly defies her mother, so she’s more ballsy than most regular heroines in that she can stick up for herself and even get her own way. But not enough to make her mother see reason.

Meanwhile, in “Battle of the Wills”, Kate Wills, who has been constantly rebelling against the grandmother who keeps forcing her into ballet, suddenly surprises herself by enjoying ballet for the first time when her new teacher arrives. If she is the original Kate, maybe she could stay that way forever. But is she? Dr Morrison says she is, while the other Kate, who has been told she is the clone, has gone into a state of shock and wandering in a daze. But Dr Morrison has been caught out in one lie already, so is her word to be trusted?

In “A Boy Like Bobby”, Tessa is defying her mother too in order to help the boys, and manages to fool her. But new problems are not far off, of course.

In “Cursed to be a Coward!”, Marnie’s hydrophobia is intensifying to ludicrous lengths. It is increasing her unpopularity at school, and she just won’t tell anyone what the problem is.

And as the cover states, the face of evil gets worse in “Who’s That in My Mirror?” as Magda’s scheming intensifies. In fact, in this episode she deliberately gives her own mother a dose of food poisoning!

 

 

Story theme: Evil influence/supernatural influence

This is the first in a new category of post, covering the various story themes seen in Jinty in more detail. As we will see, the story themes are often not clear-cut; many themes overlap or become fuzzy at the edges when investigated further. Nevertheless, definite strands can be traced.

There is a long-running story theme in girls’ comics based around someone or something (normally an object) influencing the protagonist to do things she normally wouldn’t do, in a way that is supernatural or unnatural. The influencing object usually has its own agenda, and in service of this it often ends up taking away the protagonist’s free will, and perhaps even her memory, such are the extremes that are gone to. The object (or, sometimes, person) is often evil, though sometimes it can be just driven by its own underlying requirements, which the protagonist must serve in order to resolve the situation.

Core examples

Probably the purest form of this story theme in Jinty can be found in the spooky story “Spell of the Spinning Wheel” (1977). Rowan Lindsay pricks her finger on the spinning wheel that her mother has just bought and finds that she is made to fall fast asleep every time she hears a humming sound – like the sound of the wheel when it is being used, but also the hum of a hairdryer, a car, and so on. The spinning wheel is entirely malicious: its agenda seems simply to spoil Rowan’s running career and indeed her life. When Rowan tries to give it away or destroy it to save herself, it responds dramatically by trying to make her go over a cliff, drown in a river, or get knocked down by a car; certainly it’s not possible to just tamely pass it on. In the end it must be destroyed by cleansing fire, but this can only happen once the whole family is united in determination to remove its malign influence: the heroine does not have enough power to get rid of it by herself. (In this story this works partly through the wheel’s power and partly through the mother’s disbelief: although the father is soon persuaded of the spinning wheel’s malice, the mother is turned against her family and refuses to co-operate with them until finally the wheel goes a step too far and shows her its true colours.)

Clear examples of this story theme in Jinty are:

  • Gail’s Indian Necklace (1974): Gail acquires a mysterious necklace made of wooden beads in a jumble sale: it originally came from India. Initially it grants some desires that are unspoken, or socially wrong: she cannot afford a bicycle and so the necklace makes her steal one, or she wants her aunt out of the way and the aunt gets knocked over by a car. The necklace has a specific agenda, to be returned to its original location; once Gail complies she is free of its influence and is even rewarded by it.
  • Slave of the Mirror (1975): Mia Blake finds an old mirror in her house and it makes her turn against her sister. The mirror possesses her and makes her destroy things in the house, sabotaging her sister’s attempt to run a boarding house. It turns out to be haunted by the ghost of a Spanish serving-girl who was ill-treated by a previous owner of the house; her spirit is set to rest and the possession stops.
  • Spell of the Spinning Wheel (1977): see above.
  • Creepy Crawley (1977): Jean Crawley comes across an old scarab brooch in a shop; it comes with the promise that it can help her defeat her rival. She doesn’t stay around long enough to listen to the associated warning she would have been given: once it gives her her wish it will go on to further its own ends, up to and including a reign of insects! Very soon she is unable to give up the brooch or gainsay it in any way; the defeat of the evil object has to be done by a friend of Jean’s, and by the rival herself, who has to be persuaded into forgiveness to break the spell.
  • Come Into My Parlour (1978): Jody Sinclair is made to wear a cat’s-paw necklace by an evil witch, who uses it to get revenge on the descendents of a judge who hanged her wicked ancestor. At first she is made to do things against her will as if she were a puppet, but her inconvenient conscience is eventually eliminated by changing her personality entirely. In the end she is only freed when the house that the witch has been living in is burned down, with the witch inside.
  • Paula’s Puppets (1978): Paula finds some mysterious wax puppets and finds they act like voodoo dolls, and she can make things happen to whoever she makes the puppets resemble. At first the bitter Paula uses them to exact revenge, but eventually she realises she can use them to help her father. (Here, protagonist Paula is the active force behind the influencing object, which differs from usual in this story theme.)
  • The Venetian Looking Glass (1980): the protagonist finds a hand mirror which starts to control her life and wreak its revenge, ultimately being revealed as due to an angry ghost. As with other stories above, the spirit can only be laid to rest with the help of a wider group of people than just the enthralled protagonist, and forgiveness plays an important part too.
  • A number of Gypsy Rose stories also include this story theme, with a more diverse set of evil or haunted objects such as a handkerchief and a tambourine.

Edge cases

Of course, there are always fuzzy edges around definitions, with examples that don’t match the story theme quite as obviously. Looking at these less clear-cut cases can help to challenge our definitions.

  • The Haunting of Form 2B” (1974) has a whole class being haunted by a ghostly teacher. The schoolgirls are taken over mentally by objects given to them by the ghost, but it’s quite a number of varied objects that are influencing them rather than a specific one or two.
  • In “The Haunting of Hazel” (1975) the protagonist is strongly influenced by a ghostly ancestor, but it feels more like a standard ghost story than a case of possession.
  • In “The Mystery of Martine” (1976-77), the source of the possession is not very clearly delineated: is it the bangles that Martine clanks together, or is it the script written by the playwright, or is it all perhaps in Martine’s mind?
  • Sometimes the object is not that clearly evil, or has an influence without appearing almost anthropomorphic. Tamsin Tregorren finds a silver comb that belonged to her mother in “Combing Her Golden Hair” (1979) and the comb shows her visions and leads her to frolic in the water like a dolphin despite never having learned to swim. Eventually she is brought to the sea where she meets her mother, who is a mermaid, and who wants her to come and live in the sea too. The comb serves the agenda of the mother, who is not evil (and though she is portrayed as selfishly not caring whether or not Tamsin would be able to survive in the same environment, this is never actually proven one way or another).
  • In “Child of the Rain” (1980), Gemma West is strongly affected by the rain after a trip to the Amazon rainforest; it is found that some bark from a tree was left in her leg after an accident in the forest, and it is that that is affecting her, rather than any evil object or tennis-mad spirit .
  • In “Who’s That In My Mirror” (1977), the special mirror in question does not remove Magda’s free will, though it does seem to tempt her to worse and more selfish actions than she would have done alone. It’s also not entirely clear at the end whether perhaps the mirror might be intended as an ultimately moral force, to make her repent of her selfish deeds?

Related but different

Further away again from my core definition sit some related themes:

  • Hypnotism and brainwashing are the keys to “The Slave of Form 3B“, “Prisoner of the Bell”,  “Children of Edenford“, and “Jackie’s Two Lives”: the active agents are people, working in ways that aren’t actually strictly realistic but can’t be classed as supernatural.
  • Wish fulfillment: “Dance Into Darkness” has the protagonist forced to dance whenever music plays, with her free will eroded by the curse she takes on. It could be classed along the same double-edged gift that tempts Jean Crawley, but it feels more like irony than evil. And of course a wish fulfillment story can also be purely mundane, such as in “Food for Fagin” and “Freda’s Fortune”.
  • Not to be confused with: a magical companion, who persuades or helps rather than forcing or tempting. Stories with such a companion include “Guardian of White Horse Hill”, “Her Guardian Angel”, “Daughter of Dreams”. The companion may leave the protagonist in a sticky situation but she is not compelled or possessed.

Other thoughts

It’s an old-fashioned sort of story theme, in many ways. The magical objects in question are typically very gendered – mirrors, necklaces, a brooch, a spinning wheel. It feels like a trope from old stories or fairy tales, continued on in girls’ comics as a morality tale. The girl who is affected by the evil object often picks it up initially for the wrong reasons, or is in places she’s not supposed to be: the object promises revenge or oneupmanship, and the seeds of the main character’s undoing are sown because they are heading in the morally wrong direction from the start.

Jinty 13 August 1977

Jinty 13 August 1977

“The Robot Who Cried” is in full runaways mode right now, with robot Katy Fife trying hard – and unsuccessfully – to fool the kind doctor she is staying with. “Curtain of Silence” also has the protagonists trying to fool an adversary, also unsuccessfully, but the stakes feel much higher here as the the adversary is the villainous Madam Kapelski, who will have no compunction in putting Yvonne’s little brother out of harm’s way – forever!

Fran is acting cupid in another amusing episode of the fix-it story. She’s not a dodger like Roger and she always means well – for the people she likes! – but mayhem inevitably ensues. Right now she has a parrot and a talent for ventriloquism, and she’s not afraid to use them to make sure that her nice teacher Miss Harmony ends up with lovely boyfriend Michael instead of rotter Basil.

There are four pages in the initial episode of “Cursed To Be A Coward”, drawn beautifully by Mario Capaldi. They take us through the first few years of protagonist Marnie’s life; her chubby legs as a toddler are particularly delightful. She’s a pretty tragic heroine right from the start, though – her father is already dead in those initial panels of her as a baby, and in the next page or two her beloved older cousin is paralysed in an accident that starts off the persecution by a sinister fortune-teller.

“A Boy Like Bobby” shows us Phil Townsend back to one of his usual story themes: a small family unit down on their luck trying to stick together. This time it’s done differently, as the family unit in question consists of a tough older boy and a young brother, who touches protagonist Tessa’s heart because he looks just like her dead brother Bobby.

Stories in this issue:

  • The Robot Who Cried (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Who’s That In My Mirror?
  • Alley Cat
  • Curtain of Silence (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Cursed To Be A Coward! (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • A Boy Like Bobby (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Battle of the Wills (artist Trini Tinturé)

Jinty 1 October 1977

Jinty 1 October 1977

Back to being Jinty, not Jinty and Lindy, I see. (I also notice small page numbers in the corner of each page, which isn’t their usual practice.)

“Destiny Brown” is a slightly different “psychic powers” story – she can see the future but not surprisingly doesn’t get believed when she says what she can see, but this is mixed up in a strong and exciting story about bank robbery. Comos’ art is so nice and solid that it helps add to the realistic feel. “Who’s That In My Mirror” is more of a spooky morality tale and would have fitted well into Misty‘s run, for instance: Magda finds a strange mirror in which her reflection seems to prompt her into expressing the meanness that lurked behind her beautiful face. Like Wilde’s “Dorian Grey”, the mirror face grows uglier and uglier as she becomes wickeder in real life. In this final episode, the ugly face has escaped from the mirror entirely and threatens to approach Magda – who knows that the only way to dispell it is to tell the truth about all the lying and conniving she’s done. The cover competition involves finding a nurse’s watch hidden in the pages of the comic and I remember well that one of the watches was hidden in the folds of clothing worn by the evil escaped reflection.

“Cursed to be a Coward” is one of the relatively few Mario Capaldi non-humour stories (of course he drew The Jinx From St Jonah’s for quite some time). In this episode, the thoughtlessness of the swimming teacher puts Marnie Miles in serious danger from the vengeful fortune-teller who has it in for her – and who is not beyond trying a bit of drowning, too.

“Fran’ll Fix It!” is one of my favourite stories, a really zingy problem-fixer (and problem-causer!) silly schoolgirl humour strip that still has an internal narrative arc and is not just interchangeable episode after episode. I feel like surely artist Jim Baikie must either have been involved in writing it, or at least been given a very free hand creatively. And finally, science fiction/gymnastics/ballet story “Battle of the Wills” concludes in this issue – Kate Wills used a replicator to make a copy of herself so that one of her could do the hated ballet that her grandmother required, and the other one could do gymnastics, her actual main interest. Not that this final episode has any science fiction in it at all; at this point it’s all gymnastics and a happy ending.

Stories in this issue:

  • Destiny Brown (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag! (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Who’s That In My Mirror? (artist Tom Hurst)
  • Alley Cat
  • The Goose Girl (artist Keith Robson)
  • Stage Fright! (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Cursed To Be A Coward! (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Battle of the Wills (last episode) (artist Trini Tinturé)