The cover brings us promise that snobby Shirl will earn our respect for the first time since her story started. Shirley shoves her shoeshine brush into the face of a snobby classmate for insulting Alice. Such an unladylike but ballsy move raises our hopes that snobby Shirl is becoming more human. But when we learn that Shirley still looks on Alice as a servant, our hopes are dashed. This is one girl who should have lived in Victorian times. It’s the final episode of “For Peter’s Sake!” Peg the pram does not seem to have fulfilled her promise to cure Peter although she has cured every other baby rocked in her. But there is a last minute surprise to ensure a happy ending. Another Alison Christie story, “Stefa’s Heart of Stone“, starts next week. Jinty must have liked to keep her writers as busy as her artists. Bridey finds a man with influence who believes her father is innocent. But fate, in the form of a mob and a gang of thieves, is soon to cut off that avenue of help. David, self appointed king (and loony) of Glasgow, is the latest problem in “Fran of the Floods”. He’s taken Fran and Jill prisoner. All the same, Fran finds herself liking him for some reason. Will this help to sort things out with him? In “Horse from the Sea”, Tracey gets injured when the staircase collapses. But she could have sworn it was sound earlier. And what about those shots somebody fired at her on the moor? Sue is causing more trouble for herself in “Sisters at War!”. And now it looks like she’s going to be blamed for something she hasn’t even done and get into trouble with the police on top of everything else. Mitzi is striking more difficulties in keeping her “Champion in Hiding” fed because of her horrible aunt. Could a paper round be the answer? Willa gets off her wheels to help a surgeon who needs a theatre nurse. Next week we will see if she does prove herself this way.
Willa on Wheels – first episode (artist Jim Baikie)
The Jinx from St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
For Peter’s Sake! (artist Ana Rodriguez)
Fran of the Floods (artist Phil Gascoine)
The Slave of Form 3B (artist Trini Tinturé)
Horse from the Sea – first episode (artist Rodrigo Comos)
Bridey Below the Breadline – first episode (artist Ken Houghton)
Then There were 3… (artist Phil Townsend)
Jinty’s centre page pull-out and competition push the stories off the cover with this issue – just as three new stories start. So we get blurbs telling us we have new stories instead of the usual panels or even titles on the cover that give us a taste to what they are going to be about.
The first new story is “Willa on Wheels”. Willa Keen lives up to her name because she is utterly determined to qualify as a nurse. But then an accident damages her spine and confines her to a wheelchair. She is still determined, but will it be enough for a comeback?
The second new story is “Horse from the Sea”. Tracey receives a summons from cousin Mrs Penrose-Harvey to Cornwall to be a companion for her invalid daughter. Desperate for work, Tracey accepts though the family have their doubts and suspicions. Suspicion grows even more when the Penrose-Harveys hear about Tracey’s encounter with the white horse along the way and seem oddly scared.
The third new story is “Bridey below the Breadline“. This is the second period story Ken Houghton drew for Jinty in 1976. He had just finished “House of the Past“, which dealt with the 1930s, and Bridey will be replaced with “Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud“, which is set in the Victorian era. But right now we have the Stuart period, where Bridey Brown and her father go on the run after being wrongly accused of starting the Great Fire of London.
In the regular stories, Old Peg comes to the rescue twofold in “For Peter’s Sake!” – saving another sick baby and Corrie’s feet, which have become blistered from worn-out boots. But can Old Peg save Corrie from interfering welfare busybodies, who begin to threaten trouble in the last panel? Fran of the Floods comes across a surprisingly self-sufficient community who are thriving against the floods. In “The Slave of Form 3B“, Tania is in deep trouble and disgrace in school and her parents are getting bad reports – all because of Stacey. And it gets worse when Tania is confronted by vicious dogs! In “Then There Were 3“, it is finally down to three – the last three girls on the barge who have not been scared off by all the creepy goings-on. But the blurb for next week gives us a hint that things are about to turn around.
Willa tries to help a fellow patient but, because she can’t walk properly, falls and knocks herself out. The patient could be severely affected by the delay caused by Willa not having just called for help while she could… I have sympathy with the exasperated hospital staff, but the fact they brutally say “you’re incapable of helping now” is rather too strong; it leads to Willa abandoning everything about her life as a nurse, including her old uniform which sinks symbolically into the mud.
This issue has a “Jinx From St Jonah’s” artist that I assume is Mike White; as it is certainly not Mario Capaldi; I am not very familiar with his work, so if someone else is able to confirm the artist I would be grateful. (Capaldi is at this time presumably busy drawing “Champion in Hiding”, that is advertised in this issue as starting in the following week.)
The episode of “The Slave of Form 3B” in this issue has Stacey finding Tania still hypnotised and out cold at the bottom of the wall that she was told to walk on top of – and of course Stacey’s only thought is to hide her so that she doesn’t get the blame! Talk about an anti-hero…
“Willa on Wheels” is one of those stories where everything is psychologically mis-handled (surprise). After having had the accident which put her in a wheelchair, Willa continues to think of herself as a nurse still, but the hospital is not set up to have a wheelchair bound nurse, let alone one who is supposed to be a patient rather than a staff member. The staff handle the mental transition that Willa needs to make in a very inept way, needless to say, and Willa herself is not being very sensible about it: risking some patients’ lives on the way.
I have not mentioned “Horse From The Sea” much in these issue posts, as it isn’t a story that I remembered very strongly from the time. It is a mystery story with the eponymous horse from the sea cast in the role of magical helper: in this issue we hear the tale of how it appears every time the heir of Penrose is in danger. The mystery is that the heir is, supposedly, someone other than the protagonist, and yet it is to the protagonist that the horse is appearing… The art, by Comos, is beautiful, but the story is only so-so, I feel.
This is the penultimate episode of “Then There were 3…“: the last two brave girls are captured by the criminals and are told all their plans – because it is not expected that they will be found again to tell the tale to the authorities!
Jim Baikie (1940-2017) was one of the longest-running Jinty artists. While he was not in the very first issue, his starting story (“Left-Out Linda” in 1974) was done fairly early on in his career (he started in 1966); after he and Jinty parted ways, he went on to become well-known in his 2000AD work as well as in American comics. In recent years some news items have been posted on his Facebook page, where the news of his death was also posted by his family. (See also his Comiclopedia page.)
My trajectory as a comics reader is such that pretty much alone amongst Jinty artists, Baikie is someone whose subsequent work I came across again and again. As well as reading Jinty, I also read American comics (primarily Marvel), and later on I read 2000AD as so many of my university peers did. The short-lived comic Crisis was a must-read too, and that included an ongoing story drawn by Baikie (“The New Statesmen”). I don’t remember quite when I identified him as having been the artist on the memorable “The Forbidden Garden”, but I remember how it felt: excitement, surprise, and a mental ‘click’ as two disparate parts of my comics-reading life came together.
He drew a number of different kinds of story in Jinty: ones about troubled family relationships, spooky stories, a science fiction strip, a humour strip. The first great swathe of stories are nicely done, but nothing outstandingly different: they are well-observed and good to read, but only “Face The Music, Flo!” and “Ping-Pong Paula” made much impression on my memory at the time. “Spell of the Spinning Wheel” moves up a gear while still being an evil object story matching other ones (“Creepy Crawley” ran at precisely the same time, making it a great time for fans of spooky stories).
For me, both “The Forbidden Garden” and, rather differently, “Fran’ll Fix It!”, represent the peaks he reached in Jinty. Both are fairly unique within the set of stories he drew in this title: one science fiction story, one humour strip. We have previously seen a lot of repetition of a given writer & artist combination – Terence Magee stories being drawn again and again by the ‘Merry’ unknown artist – and I could well imagine that in the list below, ‘Linda’, ‘Kat’, ‘Flo’, and so many other stories might be written by a popular Jinty writer who produced a number of similar stories along the same themes. But ‘Fran’, in particular, strikes me as something that a writer-artist – or more precisely, a cartoonist – could well have produced. There are so many sight-gags in the background, such a zany feel to the whole story, that I am very tempted to think that Baikie is likely to have written the whole lot as well as drawn it – or at the very least, had a large creative hand in it.
We now know that there was at least one case of an artist writing their own strip, as Veronica Weir is known to have done this on “Girl The World Forgot“. Baikie is also known to have written his own material at subsequent points in his career, too (he wrote sequels to the Alan Moore science fiction strip “Skizz” amongst others). Might he even have written “The Forbidden Garden” as well? This striking story has a soulless future dystopia where the soil is poisoned and the people are oppressed, barely one step up from being robots: echoes of the Megacity that Baikie’s future colleagues were simultaneously creating in 2000AD. It could be said to parallel the other Jinty science fiction stories, but it doesn’t feel particularly close to any of them. This is probably my wishful thinking, though.
Leaving aside this speculation, you don’t have to think much about it to see why he was such a well-loved artist. The Gypsy Rose four-page story above has beautiful, energetic composition: the girl’s running foot in the first panel, the echo of the tree root in the forked lightning just below, the girl’s face forming the bottom section of the third page. It’s full of dynamism and individuality. Likewise, although he drew 14 stories plus various Gypsy Roses over the years, his characters are all clearly identifiable without blurring into each other. As one small example, ‘Linda’ and ‘Flo’ have similar hairstyles (though one dark, one blonde) – but their facial expressions are distinctively their own. There is no danger of mistaking one for the other, even if separated from their story context – but that’s something for a follow-up article sometime. (How did long-running artists manage to avoid visual repetition, indeed?)
“Willa on Wheels” and “Bridey Below the Breadline” are the two ‘new’ stories here that have not been included in earlier posts about individual issues. In the first of these two stories, Willa was a student nurse who bravely saved lives in an accident but was herself left in a wheelchair as a result. In this episode, she leaves hospital and goes to stay with the family of the children she saved; she is depressed and bitter about her disability and unwilling to battle for improvement. The mother of the family tries ‘tough love’ to get her to snap out of it, but (not surprisingly perhaps) is not immediately successful. Of course, this being a girls’ comic story, she does eventually stir herself and decide to fight her situation.
“Bridey Below The Breadline” is one of Ken Houghton’s historical stories. Her challenge is to get her father well again and to avoid capture by the many people who think she and her father, as bakers, caused the Great Fire of London.
This is the first episode of “Champion In Hiding” and by the end of it the poor protagonist has lost her father, her home, and nearly her mother too (who is in hospital very ill); the aunt who takes her in is clearly a bad lot and only thinks of selling off the champion dog who is her only consolation. These first episodes drawn by Mario Capaldi are really beautiful, but sadly he didn’t stay the course as the story’s artist. The other first episode in the issue, “Snobby Shirl”, is also drawn by a classic artist – José Casanovas – though it’s not one of the top stories he worked on.
Stories in this issue:
Willa On Wheels (artist Jim Baikie)
The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
For Peter’s Sake! (artist Ana Rodriguez)
Fran of the Floods (artist Phil Gascoine)
Champion In Hiding (artist Mario Capaldi)
The Slave of Form 3B (artist Trini Tinturé)
Horse From The Sea (artist Rodrigo Comos)
Snobby Shirl the Shoeshine Girl! (artist José Casanovas)