Jinty Vol. 1: The Human Zoo & The Land of No Tears
Pat Mills, Malcolm Shaw (writers), Guy Peeters (artist)
June 28, 2018 (UK release), July 11, 2018 (US release)
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
While the boys of 1970s Britain had the adventures of Judge Dredd in 2000 A.D. for their sci-fi adventures, their sisters and girlfriends certainly weren’t left out of the comics market with such titles as Tammy, Sally, June—and Jinty, whose sci-fi based stories made it stand out from the other girls’ comics on the market. Forty years later, Jinty has come home to Rebellion with the publication of two of the more well-known stories, “The Human Zoo” and “The Land of No Tears,” which not only stand the test of time a generation later, but feel rather relevant in 2018.
“The Land of No Tears” focuses on Cassy, a girl with a “lame” leg who admittedly uses it to gain sympathy at home and school. During an operation to correct the leg, Cassy is transported to a future world where emotion is forbidden and any kind of physical defect relegates you to the lower class of “Gamma,” slaves to the supposedly perfect Alpha girls. The Alphas are training for an athletic competition to be named “Golden Girl,” and Cassy enlists her fellow Gammas to train and enter as well. Can the Gamma Girls rise and conquer the “perfect” Alphas? And is this world really Cassy’s dream?
The second story, “The Human Zoo,” finds sisters Jenny and Shona transported to an alien planet where humans are the ones treated like animals. The sisters and their fellow human prisoners endure treatment similar to what animals on Earth receive: scientific experimentation, circus entertainment, sport hunting, and subjugation as personal pets. But there are some aliens sympathetic to the humans’ plight among the ranks of this planet, and each finds help in the other when they need it most.
The foreword to this volume mentions that storytelling came first in girls’ comics, and these two stories are prime examples of that. They’re dated and melodramatic at points (the former particularly with some terminology, like the word “lame” to describe Cassy’s disability), but the script has your attention from page to page, and I was eager to turn each page to find out what happened next. Women are the star of the story: the young, scrappy, and hungry Gamma Girls, sisters Shona and Jenny, the alien Tamsha, and Likuda the desert outlander are all heroes to root for. Fortunately, I had the luxury of reading this in a collected volume, so I can’t imagine the wait for the next issue to find out what happens next. The stories may be out of this world, but their topics are strikingly human: the rights of animals, the pursuit of the feminine ideal, the rights of the disabled. Jinty is part fantastic science fiction and part morality play, but the latter isn’t beaten into you in such a heavy-handed way.
Pencils and inks here are your standard newspaper cartoon style fare, taking a backseat to the script. It does leave artwork very flat, though Guy Peeters uses texture to his advantage for shading in “The Land of No Tears” to illustrate a woman’s excessive makeup. The aliens in “The Human Zoo” do bear some similarities to humans; is that perhaps a subtle commentary on who the enemy really is? I feel it important to note that these strips aren’t colored, just as in the original Jinty comics. While it would be interesting to see a re-colored edition, I fear it would distract from the script.
I’m most impressed with the paneling and layout: there are panels of all kinds of shapes and sizes, word balloons complement each panel shape without running into adjacent ones, panels fit together coherently to allow your eye to flow with action sequentially and smoothly. There may be several panels on a page (nine at most), but pages do not feel crowded or cluttered. Many reviews purport Max Fraction and Chip Zdarksky’s Sex Criminals to be the master of the nine panel page, but Jinty certainly did it first, and quite possibly better. The only thing I could have done without are the cliffhanger teases at the end of each strip and the recaps at the beginning of each strip, as this is a collected edition. At the same time, the nostalgia and tension-building they provide just add to Jinty’s charm.
No doubt you can see the influence of Jinty in today’s pop culture: in movies like The Hunger Games and Never Let Me Go, and in comics like Bitch Planet, Paper Girls, The Maxx, and Lumberjanes. With stories that remain relevant to a 21st century world, there’s no better time to bring back Jinty for a new generation. Let’s hope this Volume 1 is the first of many.