Summer 2020 has been far from ideal, to put it mildly, so it comes as a true pleasure to see a tradition from British summer times past make a comeback: the children’s comic special. Published by Rebellion, the Tammy & Jinty Special 2020 continues the legacy of two beloved comic anthologies that enthralled generations of British girls in the ’70s and ’80s.
Tammy & Jinty Special 2020
Ramsey Hassan (artist), Yishan Li (artist), Elkys Nova (artist) Marguerite Sauvage (cover artist), Rachael Smith (writer)
August 12, 2020
The publication follows on from last year’s Tammy & Jinty Special, which was something of a hit. “To say that it was well-received would be an understatement” Michael Molcher, PR coordinator at the Treasury of British Comics, told WWAC. “We were overwhelmed by the amount of praise and goodwill towards the comic. For me personally, I felt a great sense of relief because they were titles that I had absolutely no familiarity with. Luckily we had Lizzie Boyle and Maz Smith at the helm. Now I have read through more of the archive I love these titles!”
Although the same length as 2019’s nine-story comic, the Tammy & Jinty Special 2020 has a different format: the number of strips is reduced while the stories themselves are longer.
The first of the special’s two original stories is “Boarding School” by writer Rachael Smith, artist Yishan Li, colourist Pippa Bowland and letterer Jim Campbell. This mixes the boarding school genre – which was very popular in classic British girls’ comics, exemplified by “The Four Marys” in Bunty – with science fiction elements closer in spirit to US superhero titles.
“I approached several people who had some familiarity with the original comics to pitch story ideas”, says Michael Molcher. “Rachael just so happened to come up with something that really intrigued me.”
The other original story is “Cat Girl Returns” by writer RAMZEE, artist Elkys Nova, colourist Pippa Bowland and letterer Simon Bowland. Like “Justine: Messenger of Justice” in the 2019 special, this is a revival of a classic British character with a superheroic flavour.
The original Cat Girl, created by illustrator Giorgio Giorgetti and a sadly uncredited writer, was a girl named Cathy Carter who obtained feline agility by donning a magical cat suit. The new version turns her into a legacy character: Cathy is now the mother of a daughter, Claire, who borrows the magic cat suit for a Halloween party without realising its powers. The new Cat Girl’s adventures are very up-to-date – the story involves rescuing a YouTube celebrity – but her tense relationship with her mother is true to the gentle drama of earlier girls’ comics.
The strip ends with the hint of further exploits for Cat Girl – perhaps even featuring her mother’s old enemy, the Eagle. Michael Molcher expresses hope that the revived heroine will return: “It’s a cracking little story with gorgeous, kinetic art. Once people read this, I’m sure that there will be a demand for more.”
The special is keen to honour its heritage, and so the two original stories are joined by a three-page reprint from one of the comic’s past serials, “Pink-Pong Paula”. Originally published in the September 6 1975 issue of Jinty, the story follows a fifteen-year-old girl as she finds escape from her parents’ arguments in her love of table tennis.
Also included are two non-fiction pieces. One is an interview with Alison Fitt, the writer who created “Ping-Pong Paula” alongside artist Jim Baikie. Here, she talks about her career spent penning such series as “Stefa’s Heart of Stone”, “A Gran for the Gregorys” and “The Button Box”, amongst others, and provides an insight into how this long-gone era of British comics was run behind the scenes.
The second feature is an article by Karl Stock on Cat Girl and her co-creator Giorgio Giorgetti, including an interview with the late artist’s son Riccardo: “It was actually a friend of mine who looked up my father’s name, and there were quite a few articles online. I thought that was brilliant, that people had heard about him and they were writing about him. It’s lovely, as a son, to have your father recognised forty or fifty years later.”
Despite the shift in format, the Tammy & Jinty Special 2020 retains all the charm of its predecessor from last year, and likewise stays true to its roots without seeming outdated. With the Treasury of British Comics’ revival specials set to continue – a Battle special will be out next month – we can reasonably hope that we have not seen the last of Tammy & Jinty.