British Girls Comics: There Should Be A Book…

Misty Comic Issue 1, complete with free gift
Misty Comic Issue 1, complete with free gift

With the recent release of the Tammy and Jinty Special recently, Julia Round‘s terrific book on Misty, Gothic for Girls, last year – and more collections of girls comics to come from Rebellion, including The Best of Sugar Jones by Pat Mills and Rafael Busóm on the way, why aren’t there more general, mainstream audience-oriented books out there on the subject?

There was, of course, The History of Girls Comics by Susan Brewer, published back in 2010, but that doesn’t really offer much insider insight.

It’s not as if there isn’t enough material out there to make a great all round book on the subject, and I’m not talking about a book on the same lines as the Fleetway Picture Library Index, invaluable though the first two volumes of that, published by Book Palace, were really more for archivists. What I’d like to see is something on the same lines as the superb Masters of British Comic Art by David Roach, who I know has probably indexed more British girls comics than, possibly, any other British comics researcher out there.

Valentine - cover dated 14th December 1968
Star Love Stories No. 304 - "Wild as the Wind", published in 1969
Star Love Stories No. 304 – “Wild as the Wind”, published in 1969

Format-wise, though, what about a book that wasn’t necessarily by one author but rather played to the strengths of the many writers out there already documenting girls comics – Mel Gibson, Joan Omerod, Julia Round and Jenni Scott among them?

Reading the article by one of the “classic girls comics” writers Alison Fitt in the Tammy and Jinty Special, and the feature on artist Giorgio Giorgetti, creator of “Cat Girl”, and chatting with Concrete Surfer artist Christine Ellingham, there are plenty of colourful stories to be told that would make for interesting reading, I think – and that’s just from Fleetway. What about all the other girls comics publishers out there, such as DC Thomson Media, publishers of Bunty, Nikki, Spellbound and more?

Spellbound No. 1

So please, let’s have a book that offers, say, an introductory and entertaining history, spotlights in key comics that exemplify the genre – and not just the modern titles most often discussed – plus interviews with key writers and artists, a Who’s Who of largely unsung talent… and finally, listings, perhaps available digitally in fuller form. (A lot of that work has already been done, on sites such as Girls Comics of Yesterday and The Jinty Resource.

Not that I’m asking for much, mind…

Of course, comic collections are important, too, and there’s a vocal group of fans keen to see more published – although the trick for publishers is, as ever, marketing the books correctly. I’m aware that such collections are, of course, dependent on strong sales of previous books, so it’s great to see the work Rebellion are doing in to try to expand this market, through collections and the release new material, with another eagerly-anticipated Misty and Scream Special on the way later this year. More, please… and that applies to DC Thomson, too, whose attempts to revive Spellbound mysteriously stalled – and no-one there will, as yet, can be persuaded to explain why.

So thank you for everything released recently, assorted publishers and archivists – but more, please!

John Freeman

Tammy and Jinty Special 2020 Cover by Marguerite Sauvage

ELSEWHERE ON DOWNTHETUBES…

Let’s Hear It For the Girls (Comics, that is…) – An overview of British Girls Comics an article I first wrote for Memorabilia Magazine back in 2002, with some updates

In Review: The Tammy and Jinty Special 2020

Jinty’s Concrete Surfer – article includes information on the project from artist Christine Ellingham

FURTHER READING

The Girls History of Comics by Susan Brewer

The Girls History of Comics by Susan Brewer (Amazon Affiliate Link)

Susan Brewer, an expert in toys and children’s collectables, taps into the nostalgic women s market for comics from their childhood Jackie, Girl’s Own, Bunty etc, from the early days in Victorian England to teen mags and TV-related comics, including Teletubbies and CBeebies. The book also covers partworks such as the highly collectable Vicky and other collectables, including annuals, cover mounts and giveaways and toys and games tie-ins, including board games.

• blupoblog

A general site about British girls comics – not updated for a few years

• Girls Comics of Yesterday

A terrific general site on classic girls comics. A fan site dedicated to British girl comics of the past, looking mostly at the long running publications of BuntyMandy and Judy, but also some of the other D.C. Thomson like NikkiEmmaSpellbound and IPC comics like Misty.

• Female writers in a girls’ genre by Jenni Scott

For a genre based around a female readership, you could be forgiven for thinking there were hardly any women involved in producing British girls comics… Jenni’s extensive research reveals this isn’t the case

David Moloney often highlights girls comics on his Great News For All Readers blog

A guide to 1970s comics by James Cooray Smith in New Statesman, written after Rebellion published its first fantastic Misty collections

The Guardian 18th August 2012, Jinty, Tammy, Misty and the golden age of girls’ comics

Jac Rayner looks back on  the plucky young heroines who that have perished in the Great Comics Bloodbath, from “Diving Belle” to “Lisa the Lonely Ballerina”

• Paper Worlds

• Why girls’ comics were wonderful, by Jac Rayner – BBC archived article

Jac Rayner looks back on the plucky young heroines who perished in the Great Comics Bloodbath, from “Diving Belle” to “Lisa the Lonely Ballerina”

Encyclopaedia of Girls’ School Stories Volume Three

• School stories from the girls’ story-papers are included in Sue Sims and Hilary Clare’s Encyclopaedia of Girls’ School Stories Volume Three due soon – available to pre-order here on AmazonUK

• Dr Mel Gibson has done a lot of research into British girls comics: www.dr-mel-comics.co.uk | You can read more about her 2015 book, Remembered Readinghere on downthetubes

• More information on her book about girls comics, Remembered Reading, here on the Leuven Univeristy Press web site

Read a preview of the book via Google Books

BUNTY

• Bring Back Bunty Facebook Group

• Do You Remember… Bunty?

JINTY

Concrete Surfer

• The Jinty Resource Blog

Inspired by the UK Girls Comics Index and by the Tammy Project, the purpose of this blog is to be a index for the Jinty title.

• The Complete List of Jinty Comics

Buy Jinty Volume 1: The Human Zoo & The Land of No Tears (Amazon Affiliate Link)

Buy Fran of the Floods (Amazon Affiliate Link)

Buy The Concrete Surfer (Amazon Affiliate Link)

MISTY

• The semi-official Misty Comic web site is here: www.mistycomic.co.uk | Facebook | Twitter

• Pat Mills on “The Female 2000AD”

Julia Round’s Misty Guide to its comics and creators – and don’t forget to buy her book, Gothic for Girls, reviewed here by Peter Duncan, either – or Gothic in Comics and Graphic Novels

The Art of John Armstrong – Facebook Group

Misty Comic Collections on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

TAMMY

Bella at the Bar - cover courtesy Rebellion

The Tammy Project (Wayback Archive – Final Archive)

Buy Bella at the Bar (Amazon Affiliate Link)

• Jenny McDade: Creating Tammy

Author Jenny McDade writes about her work  on the well-known girls comic

• Some of the images here are just a few of the amazing comics recently highlighted by researchers and fans on the “Girls Comics – UK” Group on Facebook

All images © respective publishers or creators

With thanks to Paul Brown, Colin Noble and David Roach, among others – and Lew Stringer for reminding me about Susan Brewer’s book

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The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: British Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features, Girls Comics, Opinions

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3 replies

  1. I have to admit to reading my sister’s comics during the 1970’s, titles like Mandy and Spellbound drew me to them for some reason. It was just an expansion of my reading needs. I love a good story, and there were certainly plenty of those in various girls titles at the time.

    One of my favourite was Supercats (also known as the Fabulous Four) from Spellbound, and unless I missed it somehow, I can’t understand why the Supercats stories have not been collected yet. It had art by Enrique Romero, famous for drawing Axa and Modesty Blaise, but I’m not quite sure who wrote the series. I would love for Rebellion to pick up this series and collect them.

    It’s good to see new collections of stories from comics like Misty and Jinty, and I will continue to collect and read these. Fun times.

  2. Great article and a call to arms John! We should start gathering like-minded researchers and put our heads together…

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