On this day, 21 November 1981: Jinty
On this day, 21 November 1981 … Exciting news for all girls who like a good read! It’s a particularly perverse shoutline on the front of this, the final issue of Jinty. The news – that it is to merge with Tammy, after seven-and-a-half excellent years – is exciting news in the sense that one might be ‘excited’ to be told one is about to be dropped from the school hockey team. I wasn’t a reader of Jinty at the time, but I suspect ‘distressing news’ may have been a better way of announcing its demise. The otherwise beautiful cover of this last issue, on which Mario Capaldi has drawn two girls literally riding off towards the sunset, strikes a more fitting tone and farewell to the comic’s readers.
Comic mergers don’t usually dismay me like this one does. It does seem to represent something of a death knell for IPC’s girls’ comics. Tammy would continue for another two-and-a-half years bit it seems that single title was deemed sufficient output for the entire pure comic-reading female market (the company also produced Girl, and the short-lived Dreamer, at this time but both had a much higher proportion of photo-strips than drawn comics and I think represented a stepping stone to teen magazines). At this time, DC Thomson was still producing Bunty, Judy, Mandy and Tracy (or The Bunty, The Judy, The Mandy and The Tracy, as my partner The Sharon tells me they were more naturally known – in Scotland at least), so perhaps the market for comics was still there but IPC just decided they had lost that particular ground.
And it’s also disappointing simply because Jinty was a bloody good comic – to my mind, superior to Tammy in the quality of its writing, the humanity of its characters and the imagination of its stories. The evidence suggests that sales were dropping, however. On A Resource on Jinty, Mistyfan has written about an odd seven-issue final run that started on 10 October 1981. This issue introduced an almost entirely new roster of stories and a dramatic new logo (the first time the title logo had changed in Jinty’s whole run). It seems a little odd to have invested in such changes less than two months before merging the comic into another, prompting the thought that this was a final roll of the dice to reinvigorate flagging sales. Alternatively, it could be that the decision to end Jinty had already been made and the new stories in the last seven issues were – as Mistyfan calls them – ‘filler’ (with the exception of the returning Pam of Pond Hill, one of Jinty’s longest-running serials, which could be seen as the provision of a strong contribution to the forthcoming merger), and the title was redesigned to a more modern, eighties style to sit more comfortably against Tammy’s own recently redesigned logo.
In this final issue Pam of Pond Hill and pals Trace and Goofy try to help a posse of volunteer parents redecorate their school – perhaps it was felt a lick of paint was needed before it would be seen by all those new Tammy readers. The other story to survive the merge was The Bow Street Runner, and in this week’s episode the protagonist Beth Speede recovers from pneumonia and rediscovers her running mojo so she’ll be fit for dashing off on more errands to support her hard-up community in the new comic. Tansy of Jubilee Street, Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost and Badgered Belinda all come to a conclusion; there are two Gypsy Rose’s Tales of Mystery and Magic – ‘The Magic Tambourine’ and ‘A Window on the Past’; and Sunday’s Child is the final standalone story in a sequence of seven based one the birth days of the week from the ‘Monday’s Child’ nursery rhyme.