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.
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?
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!
ELSEWHERE ON DOWNTHETUBES…
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.
A general site about British girls comics – not updated for a few years
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 Bunty, Mandy and Judy, but also some of the other D.C. Thomson like Nikki, Emma, Spellbound and IPC comics like Misty.
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
• 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”
Jac Rayner looks back on the plucky young heroines who perished in the Great Comics Bloodbath, from “Diving Belle” to “Lisa the Lonely Ballerina”
• 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
• 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
Author Jenny McDade writes about her work on the well-known girls comic
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