By Stephen Jewell
While Misty has remained popular amongst fans of British girls comics over the almost four decades since its demise, the mystical weekly’s almost two-year run pales in comparison to its long-running stablemates like Jinty and Tammy into whose pages it folded in January 1980. But now after reviving Misty alongside its fellow horror-themed title Scream for a couple of issues in the past couple of years, Rebellion are bringing back Tammy and Jinty as part of a slew of specials they are publishing over the course of 2019.
The older of the pair, Tammy first saw the light of day in February 1971 while Jinty made its debut three years later in May 1974. With the latter lasting for a more than respectable seven years, Jinty eventually merged with Tammy in November 1981 almost two years after Misty had suffered the same fate. But while the three titles have much in common, Lizzie Boyle – who is acting as commissioning editor on the Tammy and Jinty Special – believes that there are distinct differences between them as well.
“Tammy and Jinty have a lot in common but Jinty has a darker side,” she says. “So if there’s something with a supernatural twist or a hint of sci-fi, that’s inspired by Jinty, although you don’t get as much of the horror that you’d find in Misty, so things are a little softer maybe. Misty feels more like a genre comic, and perhaps why that’s why it’s become a cult favourite because if you like horror, you’ll love Misty. With Tammy and Jinty, they bounce between genres as there’s some domestic drama, some comedy, some sci-fi and some romance, so it’s more of an eclectic mix.”
But rather than Tammy and Jinty or indeed Misty, Boyle admits that she was actually a childhood reader of Bunty, which was published by IPC’s rivals DCThomson from a very impressive 1959 to 1980. “It was the comic that was available in our local newsagent, so it was the one that I bought with my pocket money,” she recalls. “It definitely felt like it was a comic for me, and it was a bit of a pathway from comics for younger readers – as I was a Whizzer and Chips fan – through into teen magazines with their photo stories.”
A co-founder of independent publisher Disconnected Press, Boyle has previously contributed to last year’s Misty and Scream Special and the recent Cor! and Buster Special. “When Rebellion contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in editing this special, I was stunned!” she admits. “As commissioning editor, I’m ultimately responsible for selecting the writers, artists, colourists and letterers, who have made the special possible. In truth, it’s been a collaborative effort with all of the team at Rebellion – from first meetings with the publishing and editorial teams, through to design discussions, contracts and finance, and preparing for the marketing push. It’s been a privilege to have access to the whole team within Rebellion and to work with them on the whole process.”
While it was important to bring something of the original comics to the new stories, it was also necessary to sometimes update what could be some rather tired, old-fashioned tropes. “We wanted the feeling of reading the classic comics – girl-centred stories across a wide range of genres, where people resolve situation through smarts and pluck – but it also has to feel fresh,” reasons Boyle. “We’ve joked that that’s just about putting a mobile phone in each story, but there’s an awful lot more going on than that. The older comics had clear routes for what girls could do – keep quiet and be a good girl – but now thankfully we live in a world where girls refuse to sit down and shut up and are leading the charge in campaigns on issues such as climate change. We wanted to reflect how the world is now whilst also picking up some of the themes that haven’t changed such as friendships and rivalries, decisions you make and how you respond to their consequences.”
While both Tammy and Jinty boasted some epic storylines, it could be argued that neither title – nor indeed Misty – had an ubiquitous character associated with them in the same way that boys comic characters like Judge Dredd have become so inexorably linked with their parent titles. “The classic comics had some characters that ran for years, and Bella at the Bar is probably the most famous as it ran – or somersaulted! – for about ten years,” laughs Boyle. “Most of the stories were episodic, running over several issues but they tended to be self- contained over, say, ten issues rather than continuing sagas. Perhaps it meant that you didn’t have to be fully versed in the history of a character to jump into a comic, as it can be hard for new readers of something like Judge Dredd to get the grips with the world of Mega-City One and the complex history of Old Joe himself.”
As a consequence, the Tammy and Jinty Special combines stories featuring some familiar faces including Bella at the Bar with brand new material. “We’ve rebooted some characters from the classics including Maisie’s Magic Eye by Kate Ashwin,” explains Boyle, referring to the strip which with it’s tagline of ‘one look for her and you’re under the ‘fluence’ first appeared in Sally in 1969 before moving over to Tammy when the two comics were combined in 1972. Coincidentally, Justine Jones, the Winged Messenger of Justice – who shows up in Emma Beeby and PJ Holden’s Some Mino Troubles – also made her bow in Sally #1, although she didn’t make the transition to Tammy three years later.
“We’ve also got Bella at the Bar, and it feels like a brave step to do a new version of Bella as she was the most loved of the old characters, and Jenny McDade and John Armstrong’s original stories are so iconic,” continues Boyle. “But I’m really proud of the work that Rachael Ball and Vanessa Cardinali have done in re-imagining her. As for the other stories, they’re all new originals but we gave our writers a steer on what makes a Tammy or Jinty tale so they could create something that would fit the overall vibe we were
trying to create.”
trying to create.”
The other exception is Rocky of the Rovers, which sees Roy Race’s equally talented younger sister striking out in her own solo tale by Rob Williams and Lisa Henke, the writer of the graphic novel series and artist of the young adult novels respectively. “Rocky of the Rovers is like a confluence of things,” explains Boyle. “Tammy and Jinty always had sports based stories, but they were usually based around what were seen in the ‘70s as girls’ sports – namely gymnastics and swimming. We wanted to include sports stories in the special but we also wanted to broaden our horizons. So with the Women’s World Cup taking place this summer, football seemed like an obvious choice. And with an existing footballing title out there following the relaunch of Roy of the Rovers, everything fell neatly into place.”
As the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup will be reaching its knockout stages when the Tammy and Jinty Special is published in late June, the timing couldn’t be better. “Tom Palmer have made Roxy and the Sowerby women’s team an important part of the new Roy world,” adds Williams, referring to the author of not only the three Roy of the Rovers novels to date but also the Rocky of the Rovers: France 2019 story that’s currently being serialised online. “So I was excited when I was asked to write Rocky’s own strip in the special. She’s a great character, as she’s feisty, and a bit more quick to temper than her brother. And she’s competitive; very, very competitive! Rocky is the best footballer in the Race family, or so she thinks!”
With the first volume of Bella of the Bar and Alan Davidson and Phil Gascoine’s Fran of the Floods being released to date, Boyle is also hopeful that readers of the Tammy and Jinty Special will also be tempted to check out some of the original stories. “The special is like a gateway to a rich archive of girls’ comics, some of which have been reprinted and some of which sit in red leather-bound tomes at Rebellion HQ,” she says. “Equally, we want to help bring a range of creators and style to our audience and encourage them to explore the great range of comics that have been made.”
Tammy and Jinty Cover by Lisa Henke.
Read the online Rocky of the Reds Story on the Literacy Trust page here.
Order collections of Misty, Fran of the Floods, Bella at the Bar, Cor and Buster and the Tammy and Jinty special here.
Don’t miss more on the Tammy and Jinty Special in ComicScene Issue 5, out 20th June. The ComicScene Summer Special includes 6 strips including Gentleman Jack meets Dick Turpin in ‘Lady Flintlock’ and ‘Captain Cosmic’ with art/story by Andy W Clift who also contrinutes to the Tammy and Jinty special. Pre order your copy here.